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Some Things Are Meant To Be

Chapter Text

 

 

“Would you like anything to drink, Miss?”

“No, thank you,” Felicity smiled at the flight attendant as she settled more comfortably in her seat. The plane hadn’t taken off yet, and she could hear that people were still boarding. The big advantage of travelling first class was that you didn’t have to wait any longer than necessary. And you barely had the time to sit down before they were already offering you a drink, apparently.

“I'll have a glass of red wine, please,” her neighbour asked the attendant. For the third time since she had boarded, Felicity glanced at him. He was probably around thirty, thirty-five, with short brown hair and green eyes. His suit was obviously tailored, and he had this elegant aura of someone used to wealth and comfort.

He must have sensed her staring, because he suddenly turned his head, smiling. “Leisure or business?”

A small blush crept up her cheeks at the idea of having been caught red-handed. “A little bit of both, actually.”

“That’s the best kind of trip if you ask me. What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I work for Palmer Technologies, it’s a company that-” she explained, biting her lips.

“Palmer Tech? Awesome! I have one of your watches!” he cut her off, a small grin stretching his lips as he showed off his left wrist.

“I know,” she smiled, waving the new prototype she was wearing herself. “That’s… I’ll admit it bluntly, I was admiring it. It was my first project. I still get a kick at seeing people wearing it.”

“Oh, wow. You’re one of the creators?”

She saw the surprise on his face and she had to physically restrain herself from rolling her eyes. How many times had she seen the same expression on a man’s face? They usually had no problem visualising someone under 25 creating revolutionary technology… but that someone was somehow always a man. Not a blonde girl with a ponytail and panda flats.

She grinned politely, nodding. “Yes.”

His eyes travelled down her body and she sighed, still keeping the polite smile on her face.

A douchebag. How lovely. I give him three seconds before he…

“I’m sorry, I have to admit I never pictured girls like you working on all those techy things,” he chuckled, taking a sip of the wine the flight attendant had just brought.

Bingo.

“You’re far from being the only one,” she tilted her head before grabbing her purse and ostentatiously looking for her earbuds.

He offered her a small smile, probably understanding the conversation was over and turned around, pulling up the small TV that was stored on the side of his seat.

I’ll give him that. He takes the hint much quicker than the usual man.

Picking her favorite playlist on spotify, she spread the small blanket on her lap, turning to face the window. As the plane took off, she cast one last look at New York. She would miss the city, would miss the peace she had found there.

But it was time to go home.

She had a promise to keep.


A chauffeur was waiting for her at the airport with a little sign saying “Miss Smoak - Palmer Tech.” It felt weird to get such a formal welcoming, but she knew she should get used to it. Being Vice-President of a company like PT brought a lot of perks, including travelling first class and having a personal chauffeur to drive her to her small, one-bedroom apartment. When she had left Starling for Manhattan, she had been unable to let go of the place. She had kept it, paid the rent, and Dig had made sure it was taken care of while she was away. A cleaning lady would come once a month, and Dig would go every now and then to check that everything was in order. It was probably a waste of money, paying the rent for a place she didn’t use, but it was her home. Her first real home. It was where all her memories of Oliver were. She hadn’t been ready to say goodbye.

When she opened the door, the smell of fresh cleaner welcomed her. It was already night time, and she took a deep breath before switching on the light. She smiled when she saw the flowers on the dining table, directly to her left. Pushing her suitcase inside, she closed the door behind her, letting her eyes wander across the room. She felt the familiar pang in her chest, the one she always felt whenever she saw something that reminded her of Oliver. Here, in her home, there wasn’t a single thing that didn’t remind her of him.

The kitchen was where they had cuddled, waiting for the bagels to be done. The dining table was where they had made love, with the pizza guy standing on the other side of the door. Her secretary, that he had built himself on her birthday. The couch… oh the couch had seen so much action. And so much cuddling and soft kissing when they were too tired to move. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear Oliver’s heart beating underneath her ear, his soft voice always slower and deeper whenever he was in post-coital bliss. Which had happened… a lot.

The coffee table.

She gulped, taking a step forward, her eyes searching for what she knew would still be there, now protected by a transparent square of plastic.

The puzzle he had never been able to finish.

Biting her lips, she felt the tears burning her eyes. She knew she should get rid of it. She knew it wasn’t healthy to still hang onto those stupid pieces of cardboard.

Except she couldn’t. She had tried, but the idea of letting go of that had been beyond her strength. Dig had found her one day, months after Oliver’s death, sobbing in her living room, trying to force herself to put the pieces back in their box and throw it away, as far away from her as possible. He had explained to her that she shouldn’t force herself to do anything. If it was that painful, it was because she wasn’t ready.

The next day, he had knocked on her door with a square of plexiglas. She had felt better then, the puzzle protected, still there, but somehow distanced from her.

Taking a deep breath, she walked to her secretary, crouching down until she could reach a small basket. She took out a small tablecloth, then smoothed it over her coffee table. It was time to move on.

One step at a time.

Chapter Text

"Because You Loved Me"

 

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through through it all

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

 

 

 

“Wow. Talk about some changes,” Felicity breathed, her eyes travelling all the way to the top of the building where she would be working from now on.

Palmer Tech had moved into a much, much bigger building six months ago. They still had their branch in New York, which was important for their investors, but most of their executives were now based here, in Starling. Its Research  and Technology department had doubled in size, as well as their Engineering division. It was a booming company, now a worldwide leader in nanotechnology and environmentally friendly devices.

After her watch had been launched, the success had been phenomenal, much more than Felicity had expected. She had been sent to lead the Research and Technology department in New York, which had been a blessing in many ways. Moving away from Starling had been the right decision for her. She had needed time, on her own, to heal and accept the reality of what her future was going to be. Oliver was gone, and living in a city where every little thing reminded her of him felt like she was slowly but surely suffocating in her grief. In New York, she had been able to start over, even though leaving her team and her friends had been hard.

She had known it wouldn’t be forever. Starling had become her home and even if Oliver wasn’t there anymore, it still felt that way.

Her life in New York had been mostly centered around her job. She had made a few friends, mostly people she’d hang out with for the occasional drink after work, but all her energy was focused on her job. She had become quite close to Ray, their partnership growing up to the point where he had offered her the position of Vice-President two months ago. She had been surprised, because truth be told she was barely 24 years old and it was a huge responsibility. But she had more than proven her worth, and knew the company inside out. Not to mention, her projects had been what had propelled PT into its leading position in the first place.

The proposition had also arrived at the perfect time, when she had slowly started to consider asking for a relocation back to Starling.

So, here she was, on a Monday morning, gaping at a skyscraper that could rival that of Queen Consolidated. Taking a deep breath, she finally walked in, knowing a new life was, in a way, about to begin.

 

“Felicity!” The cheery voice that welcomed her in the gigantic hall brought a big smile to her face.

“Daniela,” she greeted her friend, hugging her. Her hair was black with blue streaks, slightly longer than it used to be. “How are you?”

“How am I? I am doing great. I just got promoted to Vice-President Executive Assistant, didn’t you know?” Daniela winked at her, already handing her a security badge. “The pay is great and I have my own coffee-maker in my office.”

“Oh, really? I heard something about that, indeed. You were personally requested by said Vice-President, apparently.”

“Well, what can I say? I’m the best.”

As they made their way to the elevator, Daniela kept her updated with some of the changes in the company. They had kept in touch, and her former assistant had even visited her a couple of times in New York, so Felicity already knew most of the gossip.

“Your office is gigantic, by the way. You have this gorgeous view of the city and I tried to have it decorated like your old one, but you can change it if you want too.”

Her office was indeed… quite impressive. A strong, sturdy desk made of white wood, a large table with room for at least six people, a couch and two leather chairs, as well as drawers and cabinets. The walls were a warm taupe, most of the furniture white or beige. It gave a comfortable, light vibe to the room, only accentuated by the sunshine that was pouring through the windows.

It took her the entire day to settle in, even though she would only be visiting the building and the other divisions with Ray the next few days. Daniela had offered to go get some drinks to celebrate her come back, but Felicity had declined. She already had a date, one she was really looking forward to.

 

She couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she walked inside Big Belly Burger, seeing Dig already seated at a small table in a corner. He grinned when he saw her, standing up and opening his arms and she didn’t hesitate, hugging him tightly. It felt so oddly comforting, his big arms just as reassuring as she remembered.

“Look at you, Miss Vice-President,” he chuckled as they eventually both sat down.

She winced, picking up the menu, even though she still probably knew it by heart. “Still don’t really know how I ended up there, honestly.”

“Well, knowing you like I do… I have no doubt that you deserve it. Not to mention… I’ve heard echoes of your successes. I think Palmer understood his company couldn’t afford to have you slipping through his fingers.”

She smiled shyly, accepting the glass of water that the waitress offered her. They quickly gave her their order, Felicity having dreamed so much of a Big Belly Burger for months that she already knew what she wanted.

“How was your flight? I still can’t believe you didn’t want me to pick you up, by the way.”

Rolling her eyes, she took a sip of water. “My plane landed at 10PM, on a Sunday. That’s not how you treat your friends.”

“Have you already settled in? At work?”

“Mostly, yes. But I’ll spend most of the week visiting other divisions and departments, getting familiar with my surroundings. It’s a much bigger building than the one where I used to work.”

“... and at home?” he asked her, his eyes soft and understanding.

She gave him a small smile, shrugging. “It was OK. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be.”

“Still don’t want to move out? I mean it’s pretty small, you could find a bigger place.”

“No. I just… no. It’s my first real home you know. In Boston, I had a roommate, so it doesn’t really count. I feel like I need at least one familiar thing in my life, right now. Not to mention, I don’t have the energy to move out.”

They spent the evening catching up. They had stayed in touch during those two years, whether it was by phone or email and they were pretty much up to date with each other’s lives, but it felt good to be able to share a dinner with him. Avoiding the topic of Oliver, or Queen Consolidated, they focused on Dig’s family and it was only when they were in his car, en route to their building, that Felicity finally had the courage to ask the questions she’d been dying to get answers to.

“How… how are things at Queen Consolidated? Mrs Queen, Thea?”

Dig glanced at her before starting the car. “It was hard. Moira is still Vice-President, Walter still CEO. She never stepped up, and we even thought she would quit for a while. Thea… I mostly hear about her in the tabloids.”

“... what?” Felicity asked, snapping her head to face him. “Thea? She’s… she’s barely 18!”

“Let’s just say she’s a bit of a wild child…” Dig grimaced, keeping his eyes on the road. “She parties a lot. Managed to stay out of real problems so far but…we’ll see if she goes to College in August, though. Rumor has it, she hasn’t applied to any.”

Felicity stayed silent for the rest of the trip, deep in thought. She had no idea that Thea had been on a bad path. She could still remember the way Oliver talked about his baby sister, his reluctance to accept the idea that she was growing up. His hopes she wouldn’t walk into his footsteps, his fears she might not be surrounded by the right kind of people. How desperate he was to make sure she’d find her own way, and be happy.

And knowing that she was struggling… it made her insides churn. But what could she do? She didn’t know her, they had never even met. If only she had accepted Tommy’s offered hand, after Oliver had gone missing. But she had pushed him away, unable to face him or the rest of Oliver’s family.

As Dig parked his car in the garage, he gently pressed her hand. “Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s not your fault, Felicity.”

“I wasn’t there. I was so wrapped up in my pain… and then I left. Had I stayed, maybe I could have helped her? I know Oliver would have wanted me to help his sister.”

“What Oliver would have wanted is for you to keep on living your life. You couldn’t do that here. Thea wasn’t alone, she had her friends, Moira, Walter and Tommy. She still does. Maybe it’s just a phase, like… well like her brother.”

“Walter?” Felicity asked, surprised. She didn’t know Thea was friends with the CEO.

“Don’t you know? I thought I told you,” Dig frowned. “But then again, I’m not really into gossip. Walter and Moira have grown quite close ever since Robert died. They are getting married next month. Small ceremony, it was officially announced a couple of weeks ago.”

Felicity’s mouth opened in a small O. “Wow. I had no idea. They did seem to get on very well and… well. I’m happy for Mrs Queen. It must have been hard for her.”

Felicity was still trying to deal with everything she had just learned when they made their way back to their apartments. Despite Dig’s reassurance, and her own logic, she still felt guilty. She knew that there was very little she could have done, after all she was quite literally a stranger to Thea Queen. But it still didn’t set well with her to see Oliver’s beloved little sister losing herself.

After brushing her teeth and washing her face, she sat down on her bed, her tablet in hand. She quickly made some searches concerning the young Queen and it confirmed what Dig had told her. Lots of parties, inappropriate pictures, her grades in High School had plummeted in the last two years. She even found trace of an arrest, but she had been quickly released with no charges pressed in exchange for financial restitution to the owner of the shop she had raided with a couple of friends.

Sighing, she put the tablet back on her night stand and took off her glasses. Thea Queen was indeed going through a rough time and all Felicity could hope for was that she would follow her brother’s footsteps and eventually calm down and find her own place.

 

As she had expected, her first week back in Starling was mostly busy with meeting new people, getting accustomed to her new job. Ray had made sure the transition would be as smooth as possible and she couldn’t deny it felt good to see her old colleagues. The team she had originally been in charge of had changed, members being dispatched onto new projects or promoted. As the days went by, she felt much more assured concerning her new responsibilities. She realized that she had mostly been Ray’s second-in-command for a while now, even if it was unofficial. The two of them made a good team. He was good with all the engineering section, a bit of a dreamer and she was clearly the logical one, with a knack for technology - obviously.

When Saturday morning arrived, she put on her pair of panda flats, a nice shirt and, with the brand new car that PT had gotten for her as a bonus, finally took the road to the Queen Mansion, a pot of white daisies on the passenger seat. She had hesitated all week long, a part of her longing to go see him, the other dreading the inevitable pain it would bring her. What had made up her mind was that she needed to talk to him, somehow. It might have seemed futile to many people, but she needed to let him know that she had come back.

She had kept her promise.

It was barely 8 in the morning when she parked her car near the small spot of grass that was hosting Oliver’s empty grave. Unwilling to be interrupted, or to interrupt anyone, she had made sure to come early. Hands on the wheel, she stared at the tombstone for several minutes, trying to gather the courage to walk up to it. Her eyes travelled to the Mansion she could see further away behind a bunch of trees. It reminded her of the couple of nights she had spent there, and the time they had made love outside. It had been their last time, and so perfect, so beautiful, that she knew she’d never get the chance to live something like that again. She was clinging to every memory she had of him, some more than others, and the way he had whispered “I love you” that day was engraved in her mind. Drawing a shaky breath, she eventually opened her door, blinking the tears away. The sound of her steps on the gravel seemed so loud in the silence of the morning, comforting her in a way. It would only be the two of them.

There were flowers on his grave. Fresh. She put her daisies next to them, the plaque she had left two years ago still there, while most of the other ones were gone. Someone had been taking care of it too, she noticed. The black marble was still smooth, with no trace of the usual moss. Crouching, she let her fingers trace the words, biting her lips hard enough to draw blood.

“I miss you,” she eventually let out. “I miss you so much. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about you. Where we would be if you were still here. I hope we’d still be in bed, right now. Or you’d be making breakfast for us. I have a feeling you’d be the one cooking.” She huffed out a shaky laugh as she sat down on the grass, crossing her legs. “Sometimes, I wake up and… I forget you’re gone. For one second, I think that I just need to turn around and you’ll be near me but… you’re not there. And then I remember.”

She took a deep breath, her hands digging into the grass. “I brought you daisies. It’s the flowers you got me for my birthday. I can’t see them and not think about you, you know. And ferns. And puzzles. And a million other things that only remind me of you. A lot of people tell me that it’s time to let go and try to move on. But I don’t know how and I really wish someone could show me because I don’t know how to let go of you when you’re still a part of me. All I can think about is how unfair it is that we only got one week. If only I hadn’t been so stubborn, so proud and afraid of gossips. Those days with you were… they were perfection. You made me so happy and… I know I’ll never live that again and it’s hard to face the fact that this is going to be my life now.”

Felicity paused, the lump in her throat making it hard to speak. She dried the tears that were running on her face, her eyes fixed on his name. It was blurry through her tears, but still so beautiful, so elegant… so unfair that it was all that was left of him. A name. While he had been the most wonderful man she had ever met. Had loved her in a way she had never dreamed she would be loved, leaving this gigantic hole inside her heart that she knew would never be filled.

She told him about everything that happened during those two years. Her life in Manhattan. How she had climbed up the positions until becoming Vice-President.

“It’s funny because I still remember when you told me you couldn’t see me as just an IT girl. I never pictured myself as number two of a company like Palmer Tech, but… but you were right. I like it. It fills my life and it keeps me busy. I just… I wish I could share it with you. I hope you see it from where you are and… that you’re proud of me. I know I would have never gotten where I am if it weren't for you.”

Looking back on her life, seeing how much she had changed from that morning in March when she had walked into Queen Consolidated for the first time… she had often wondered how things would have turned out if she hadn’t missed her interview. Oliver had helped her grow. He had made her confident, assured. Stronger. He had always believed in her, always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. It wasn’t just the way he had loved her, but how he had always been by her side, right from the beginning. He had never doubted her, doubted what she could achieve. That faith in her had pushed her forward and it was to honor him that she had kept fighting.

When she was eventually done talking, she stayed where she was for long minutes, listening to the little birds chirping around her. She could feel the sun getting higher, heating her back and despite the tears, felt a bit better than when she had arrived, like a small part of the weight she had been carrying around for so long had finally lifted. The pain was still there. Just a little more bearable. Standing up, she brushed her pants, and after a small hesitation, kissed the tips of her fingers, then gently pressed them against his name.

She suddenly froze when she heard footsteps on the gravel, then straightened up, an apology already ready to spill from her lips as she turned around.

“Hi,” Thea said with a small wave of her hand.

“Oh. I’m so sorry. I… I should have asked but… I’m sorry, I was just leaving.”

“No. Please. I just saw you and… it’s mostly me who comes these days and… it feels good to see someone else.”

Felicity smiled at her, nodding softly. Thea was wearing a simple pair of jeans and an oversized T-shirt, her face make-up free. She was miles away from the girl she had seen pictures of in the tabloids, and Felicity suddenly felt a surge of protectiveness for the girl who was, in many ways, still a child.

“You… you’re Felicity, right? You were Ollie’s…” Thea huffed out a small embarrassed laugh. “I don’t know what you were exactly but… I know you were very special to him.”

“He was very special to me too. And yes, I’m Felicity.”

“Why did I never see you here?” Thea asked, a hint of suspicion in her tone.

“I moved to New York a few months after Oliver… passed away. I just came back. And… I tried to come for the ceremony but I couldn’t manage to get out of the car,” Felicity explained, her voice soft and quiet.

“You… you didn’t miss much,” Thea explained, her tone softer. “It was a bunch of people who… didn’t really know him that well, I think. I like the daisies. Two years ago, there was a pot of daisies, too. And the plaque. Did you-”

“Yes,” Felicity interrupted her. “I… I had to come and say goodbye before leaving. And I wanted… I wanted something to stay with him.”

“I like it. I made sure it stayed clean.”

“Thank you,” Felicity breathed, understanding that Thea had been the one taking care of it all these months. “I’m sorry, Thea. I should have asked about you. I was so caught up in my own pain that…”

“No. I mean, we had never really met. It wasn’t your job,” Thea shook her head. “I wish we could have met differently but… I’m glad I finally can put a face to your name.”

“Me too. Although, technically, I already knew your face,” Felicity smiled, twisting her hands. This was the perfect moment to talk to Thea. Let her know that Oliver had wanted so much more for her. But how exactly could she bring that up when they were visiting his grave?

“I don’t… I don’t want to force you or anything, but… you know, maybe we could get tea or coffee?” Thea eventually asked, shoving her hands in her pockets. “If you feel like it, I mean. Not today, you probably have things to do but if you want to talk about-”

“I’d love to,” Thea cut her off, her eyes lighting up for the first time since she had arrived. “You could come inside, if you want. Mom and Walter are gone for the weekend. It’s… it’s just me.”

Felicity’s heart sank at the loneliness in her voice. She nodded, and let Thea lead the way back to the Mansion.

“You know… Oliver talked a lot about you. He didn’t really like seeing you growing up, to be honest,” Felicity laughed slightly as they started to walk slowly. “He… he told me he was hoping you wouldn’t make the same mistakes he did.”

“... what kind of mistakes?” Thea asked, frowning.

“Losing yourself. He knew first hand how heavy the responsibilities could be and didn’t want you to struggle with them the same way he had.”

“Oh, I’m not. I don’t want anything to do with QC,” Thea snorted, her steps now faster. “That company cost me my father and my brother. I don’t want it.”

“Is that why you didn’t apply to College?” Felicity asked, biting her lips when she realized she wasn’t supposed to know that. Hacking into Thea’s personal High School file wasn’t something she should brag about.

“How… how do you even know that?”

“It… doesn’t matter. I’m not judging you, Thea-”

“Oh, really? Because it really sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing. I already have my mother, Walter and Tommy lecturing me, I don’t need Oliver’s former secretary as well!” Thea snapped, stopping abruptly and facing her.

Felicity pinched her lips, forcing herself to ignore the pain Thea’s words caused her. She knew the young girl was hurting and lashing out. “All I’m saying is I remember Oliver telling me that if you didn’t want to get involved with QC, he would help you find your own way.”

“But he’s not here, is he? He’s gone, and so is dad. It’s not because you had an office affair with my brother that you suddenly get to tell me how to live my life.”

“I am not, Thea, I’m only trying to help,” Felicity tried to placate the young woman.

Thea snorted, rolling her eyes. “I don’t need your help. You know what? I thought we could just talk about Ollie, because you seemed like you cared too but guess I was wrong. You just wanted to scold Thea Queen about how she’s ruining her life. Well, news flash: you’re gonna have to wait for your turn, there’s a long line apparently.”

Felicity blinked, taken aback by the sudden outrage. She could see in Thea’s eyes that she was in pain, and lost and terribly lonely. But her experience in handling siblings or teenagers was… completely nonexistent. She forced herself to ignore the pain her words were causing, but she was too shocked to move when Thea started to stomp her way back to her home.

“That’s why I’d like Thea to meet you.”

Suddenly, she remembered with a perfect clarity the talk she had had with Oliver, here, at the Mansion. How he knew the danger of the privileged life he led and how he wanted her to help him ground Thea.

It was enough to make her move and before she even knew it, she was running after the young woman. She joined her while Thea was about to open the door and Felicity violently closed it back.

Thea looked at her, gaping, but Felicity cut her off before she even had the time to say anything.

“I knew your brother better than most people. And he loved you more than anything else. He spent half an hour in a souvenir shop in Vegas trying to find a gift for you. He talked about you all the time, about how you were the best of the family, how he hoped he was setting a good example for you. How he wanted you to be happy and choose your own way. I know you’re hurting, Thea. I am too. I lost him too. And I don’t pretend like I know what it’s like to lose a brother, because I never had any siblings. It was just my mom and I when I grew up. But I know that you must miss him every single day. Because I do too. And whether you like it or not, shoplifting, partying, and drinking isn’t going to make you forget. I want to help you. Because if Oliver was still here, that’s what he’d do.”

Felicity rummaged through her purse, fishing out a small business card. She shoved it in Thea’s hand, who was apparently too stunned to resist.

“Call me. We can go get coffee or lunch or anything you want. But if you think I’m going to watch you throw your life away and do nothing, you’re wrong. Unless you can look me in the eye and tell me that what you are doing is what you would be doing if Oliver was still here, I’m not going to walk away from you.”

Felicity took a deep breath while Thea was still staring at the small piece of paper in her hand. “Although, technically, I am going to walk away right now, but that’s because I have some grocery shopping to do.”

She turned around then, leaving a speechless Thea behind. She forbade herself to look behind her until she made it to her car, and only then did she allow herself a glance in the rearview mirror. Thea was still standing by the door, her head down.

 

As Felicity made her way to the supermarket, she replayed her conversation with Thea over and over again in her head. Had she been too harsh? Had she overstepped? She had no right to talk to her the way she had. But she couldn’t just stand there and do nothing. So she had done what she would have done with Oliver: forcing Thea to face her choices and handle the responsibility of her actions, while proposing to help her. It had worked with the brother, all she could hope was that it would work with the sister.

“Please, let them be similar in that aspect,” Felicity groaned as she waited at a stop light.

In all honesty, she still didn’t know why she had felt the sudden urge to grab Thea by her shoulders and shake her. Was it regrets? Remorse for not being there sooner? Or just overall sadness that Oliver’s sister was now without the support she knew he would have given her unconditionally?

Even if Felicity had been gone two years, even if in many ways she had forced herself to move on from her loss, even if she and Oliver only had a very short time together, she knew that something would always bind her to the Queen family, whether they knew it or not. She had loved Oliver so deeply that she still bore the marks on her soul. Their love had imprinted on her, and she just could not stand there and do nothing to help Oliver’s little sister. She would give Thea one week and if she didn’t hear from her again, she’d improvise. Maybe call for Tommy’s help? She hadn’t seen him in a long time. They had crossed paths once in Starling, shortly before Christmas and it had been quite clear that it had brought up painful memories for the two of them. They had made small talk in front of a pastry shop, both pretending to ignore how the Christmas decorations reminded them of another occasion, and how someone was clearly missing from the equation. She had apologized for not returning his calls right after the news of the Gambit sinking had been made public, and he had nodded, a gentle smile stretching his lips, his eyes soft and understanding. They had parted ways with a hug that, for some reason, had lasted more than conventions usually ask for, as if they knew there was a chance they’d never see each other again. No matter how heart-warming it had been to see Tommy’s friendly face, she could still remember the pain of being reminded so brutally of what she was missing. It had been getting cold in Starling that day, with even a bit of snow. If life had been fair, Oliver would have made her hot chocolate and they would have cuddled in front of an old movie. He would have probably begged for her help to get his sister a decent present and she would have tried to show him her own traditions. That’s what their first holiday season should have looked like.

Instead, she had been alone, sleeping in his hoodie, clutching his pillow and waking up with swollen eyes. That was when she had decided she needed some air. She needed to move on, to take her distance from Starling because every single day brought along a painful memory. It had taken another four months before everything could be settled down at work, and when Ray had offered her a promotion in New York, she hadn’t hesitated. She had left, left behind this city that only reminded her of him and what they had had. What she had lost, by a cruel twist of fate.

But she was back now. She had healed, or as much as she could. She was still missing him and she probably would for the rest of her life but she had finally reached the point where sadness and bitterness were slowly replaced by the gratitude to have known him, and been loved by him.

It was obvious Thea still wasn’t there. The young girl was still eaten alive by rage and pain and Felicity knew if no one stepped up to help her, it could ruin her life. She owed it to Oliver to help his sister.

She owed it to herself.


“You know what I think about this, Ray. Yes, it could bring a lot of benefits, but we would be going backwards in terms of our eco-friendly image. It would hurt us in the long run.” Felicity opened the door at Palmer Tech, welcoming the sunshine on her face. It was the end of a very, very long Monday where she had gone head to head with several executives concerning a new project of theirs. One she clearly didn’t approve.

“I know, but that’s why I’m asking you. Is there a way to make it more green? Maybe we need to create our own set of rules?”

“No. Relocating our factories to Bangladesh means our image will be damaged. Not to mention, the company is doing great, why do we need to have people lose their jobs here?”

“But the profit would go directly into the research department, it would be a win-win. We could hire more bright people to come up with bright ideas and so on.”

“Ray,” Felicity sighed as she stopped on the steps leading to Palmer Tech. He stopped as well, turning to face her.

“Yes?”

“Do you really think we will be able to have as much control over the quality if the factories are halfway across the world?”

“... Well, of course not. But we would send people there…”

“People who do not know the country, the language, the culture.”

“... OK you have a point there. But it still could be valuable.”

“Losing our image as a respectful, clean, eco-friendly, economically responsible company isn’t worth the profits we’re going to make. We would end up being exactly like everybody else, Ray!”

“We can still impose a certain set of rules regarding the factories, you know what Sean said.”

“Bangladesh doesn’t have the same technology and the same resources as we do here. We would lose the financial supports from the state.”

Ray sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Yeah, I thought about that too. I just feel like there are so many great ideas out there and we need more people to come up with them. Relocating would create a budget to hire those people.”

Pushing her sunglasses back on her nose, Felicity shook her head. “You’re a dreamer, Ray. And I’ll never hold that against you because you hired me on an impulse.”

“Exactly! Look how that turned out!” Ray grinned, his hands pointing to the enormous building behind them.

“But you also asked me to be Vice-President because you knew you needed someone to ground you.”

“... yeah, that too.”

“Let’s compromise. I would like a survey. Ask people why they buy Palmer Tech. Include all those reasons I told you about. And if those reasons really appear to be minimal in their opinions, then we have grounds to actually consider Sean’s proposition.”

Frowning, Ray seemed to ponder her words. “That seems fair. We’ll talk about it at Wednesday’s meeting?”

“OK.”

Felicity smiled as he took off, his usual bounce back in his steps. She was just about to follow him when  a hand on her shoulder stopped her.

Startled, she turned around, her eyebrows reaching her hairline when she saw who was in front of her.

She gaped, blinking. “... Thea?”

The teenager smiled at her awkwardly, shifting on her feet. “Hi.”

“Hum… hi!” Felicity answered automatically, her throat feeling suddenly constricted when she saw how sheepish the young girl was. She reminded her so much of how Oliver had behaved when he had waited for her the first time at Palmer Tech that it took her a few seconds to gather her bearings. “What… what are you doing here?”

Thea winced, her eyes travelling past Felicity’s shoulder. “I saw you worked here. On the business card you gave me and… and I was passing by.”

Felicity tilted her head, observing her quietly. Thea was fidgety, and obviously uncomfortable. There was also a bit of shame in her eyes, and it only convinced her that Thea hadn’t just walked by.

“I’ve had a long day. Would you like to get a coffee?” Felicity finally asked, hoping her instinct was right and that Thea had indeed come for a purpose.

“I… I’d like that.”

They barely talked on their way to the small coffee shop Felicity had discovered on her second day, the street still busy with people going back home after a long day of work.

“I’m sorry,” Thea blurted out as soon as they were seated, each with a frappuccino in hand. “I was so bitchy and… you didn’t deserve that.”

“It’s… it’s OK. I understand I caught you off guard and as you said yourself... we never even met before.” Felicity smiled reassuringly, taking a sip of her coffee. Truth be told, yes, Thea had been pretty rude and borderline mean, but Felicity didn’t want to start their conversation with a blame game.

Thea stayed silent for a while, biting on her lower lip as if she didn’t know where to start. Felicity leaned back on her chair, knowing there was no point in rushing her.

“Ollie told me a lot about you, you know. When we went on our fishing trip.”

“The fishing trip that involved no fishing because both of you hate that?” Felicity grinned.

Thea huffed out a laugh, her shoulders relaxing. “Yes, that one. The very first thing he told me about you was that you were crazy smart. I knew you were special then because...well… you know how he used to be with girls.”

“Oh yes, believe me, I know,” Felicity snorted, a few mental pictures going through her mind. 

“I’m sorry you didn’t have a lot of time with him,” Thea murmured softly, their eyes meeting for the first time. “At least most of my life is filled with memories of him but… I know you two were very in love and it’s not fair you only got so little time.”

Felicity gulped, blinking the tears away. It was the first time someone actually pointed out how cruel it had been, instead of disregarding their little time together. And knowing it was his little sister, the one person she had met who seemed to be struggling with his death the most… it almost seemed as if the moment was binding the two of them somehow. Both recognizing that no matter how different their pains were, they were just as intense and brutal. “Thank you. He talked about you constantly, about the silliest things.” She snorted suddenly as she remembered a conversation. “Do you know he didn’t want to cut his hair because, and I quote, you used to play with it?”

“What?” Thea grinned. “I stopped playing with his hair when I was… twelve or something.”

“I don’t think he really liked the idea of you growing up. He almost fainted when I reminded him you were probably going to get a driver's license soon.”

And just like that, they broke the ice. They talked about all the memories they had of him, each one of them filling in the blanks and it felt good, it felt so good to finally share him with somebody else. She had spent two and a half years keeping him inside of her heart, cherishing him because no one could really understand. Dig had been there of course. Always there to listen and talk about him but it wasn’t the same. Dig had a lost a friend, a close friend. Felicity had lost the love of her life. Thea had lost her big brother. Both women had found themselves very alone in their pain because the relationship they each had with Oliver was unique.

Once they were done with their frappuccinos, they ordered a salad and what was just a coffee date took them until the closing hour of the coffee shop. They were walking back to Palmer Tech where they had both left their cars, when the conversation turned more serious.

“You know, you were right. About college, I mean. I didn’t apply to any.”

“Why?” Felicity asked in a voice as neutral as could be.

“I just don’t know what I want to do,” Thea shrugged. “I have no idea. Mom wants me to do something that could be useful for QC, like marketing. Which is what Ollie did. I… I don’t want to work for QC. I don’t think so, at least.”

Felicity noticed the change of tone compared to what Thea had told her at the Mansion. QC was where her dad and brother had worked, and she could understand it wasn’t exactly a happy place to her. But she wasn’t as virulent anymore.

“Oliver told me that… if you didn’t want to go to college right away, you both considered an internship. Maybe you should try that? It would keep you busy, and also maybe working there would help you at least consider your options? You might find a field you like, for instance.”

“Just the idea of working for my mom… she’s been so strange ever since Ollie died. Nothing I do is good enough, and we barely talk.”

“Well you could ask to work for someone else? I still remember a few people who were very decent and you could start with them?” Felicity asked, still remembering Mrs Grey and Mr Lewis. They had been good people, good at their jobs and professional.

“I don’t think I want to work there. No… I know I don’t want to work there.” Thea shook her head. “This company… it took my dad and my brother. I hate it.”

Felicity frowned, her steps slowing down. “I understand that your father died while on a business trip but Oliver…”

“Oliver died on a boat that had the Queen name on it, just like that helicopter. I mean what were the odds? My dad and then my brother a few months later, both in a freak accident involving a mode of transportation that bears the Queen name. The boat was apparently never found, and the helicopter was so destroyed they couldn’t find any element either. It’s like the Queen name is cursed. The company went into drama after drama until Ollie died. It’s almost as if karma was satisfied, because afterwards, it all calmed down.”

Something in Felicity’s brain came to life at that moment. Something blurry and muffled, as if her mind was trying to tell her something, trying to connect dots, but despite the tragic similarities, she couldn’t see any connection. She shook her head, willing herself to not go down that road again. She had accepted that Oliver’s death had been a terrible accident, with no one to blame. Trying to find a culprit when there was none would only drive her insane.

They had finally arrived at Thea’s car when Felicity suddenly had an inspiration. “So you don’t want to go to college and don’t want to be an intern at QC. You also don’t know what you want to do, right?”

Thea winced as she opened her door. “When you put it like that, my future doesn’t sound very optimistic.”

“... Well… instead of Queen Consolidated, what do you think about Palmer Tech?”

The surprise on Thea’s face was followed by a hesitant smile. “I’d work for you?”

“Technically, you’d be an intern for the whole company. I can pull some strings and have you work in several departments. You can take the year to explore what it’s like to work in the business world. Maybe you’ll find something you like, maybe you won’t, but at least-”

“At least I’d be doing something,” Thea finished for her. “Ollie… he told me I could work as an intern for him.”

“I know. I think he’d have liked that.”

“I think so too. And I wouldn’t have my mother hovering over my shoulder constantly, which is another big plus. I’m just… I don’t have many skills. Apart from shopping, I mean.”

“Maybe we should start with the Mergers and Acquisition department, then.” Felicity chuckled as Thea huffed out a small laugh.

“You’re not doing this just because you feel bad for me, right?”

“No. I’m doing this because I know Oliver would want you to find your way and if he’s not there to help you do it, I’ll gladly fill in. He helped me find my place too, you know. Also because I know how much a change of scenery can help. I didn’t move all the way across the country for no reason, Thea. I feel bad that I wasn’t there for you at first, too. And most importantly, you’re obviously smart, with great social skills. We all need a little help once in awhile. Plus… I’d like to get to know you better. If you want to.”

“Tonight was the first time in more than two years when I finally got to talk about Ollie without feeling angry or sad. Even with Tommy it’s… he’s trying to be there but… he mostly knew Ollie the party boy so it kinda pisses me off when he tries to lecture me. You knew a different Ollie and he was… he was so much closer to my big brother. So yeah… I’d like that too.”

They both shared a smile and, after Felicity promised to call her during the week, Thea took off.

 

 

When Felicity finally made her way back to her apartment, it was almost 10PM. The streets were dark and silent, but her mood was much better than it had been in the last few days. After a quick shower, she went straight to bed, happy about her day. She had finally been able to get to know Thea, and the two of them had spent a good moment, and it almost felt as if she was moving again, slowly catching up with the world of the living.

Feeling peaceful, she turned off the light and made herself comfortable on her pillows, exhausted by the emotional talk.

Only to switch on the light two minutes later when Thea’s words mixed up with Oliver’s.

“... The boat was apparently never found, and the helicopter was so destroyed they couldn’t find any element either. It’s like the Queen name is cursed. The company went into drama after drama until Ollie died. It’s almost as if karma was satisfied, because afterwards, it all calmed down.”

“I found something last night… It’s about my dad. He left me a letter that he never got the chance to send me… I found out some things about… he wasn’t exactly the man I thought he was.”

Her heart beating faster, she sat up, pushing the covers away. Something had always nagged her. How cruel fate had been towards the Queen family, towards Oliver, towards her. But Thea was right. After Oliver had gone missing… it had all calmed down. No more explosions, no more freak accidents. It was either karma… or something else.

What had Oliver found out about his father, that fateful night?

Chapter Text

"Thinking Of You"

 

 

Comparisons are easily done
Once you've had a taste of perfection
Like an apple hanging from a tree
I picked the ripest one
I still got the seed

You said move on
Where do I go?
I guess second best
Is all I will know

'Cause when I'm with him
I am thinking of you
Thinking of you
What you would do if
You were the one
Who was spending the night
Oh I wish that I
Was looking into your eyes

You're like an Indian summer
In the middle of winter
Like a hard candy
With a surprise center
How do I get better
Once I've had the best?
You said there's
Tons of fish in the water
So the waters I will test

He kissed my lips
I taste your mouth
He pulled me in
I was disgusted with myself

'Cause when I'm with him
I am thinking of you
Thinking of you
What you would do if
You were the one
Who was spending the night
Oh I wish that I
Was looking into...

You're the best
And yes I do regret
How I could let myself
Let you go
Now, now the lesson's learned
I touched it I was burned
Oh I think you should know

'Cause when I'm with him
I am thinking of you
Thinking of you
What you would do if
You were the one
Who was spending the night
Oh I wish that I
Was looking into your eyes
Looking into your eyes
Looking into your eyes
Oh won't you walk through
And bust in the door
And take me away
Oh no more mistakes
'Cause in your eyes I'd like to stay... stay.

 

 

 

"Come on, sleepy head. Time to wake up.”

Felicity groaned, burying herself underneath the covers. Oliver was pressed against her back, his chin grazing the crook of her neck. He was peppering little kisses over her cheek, his fingers stroking the bare skin of her stomach. She was still mostly asleep, his warm hands relaxing her more than anything else.

She hummed when his mouth closed on the tip of her ear, his tongue stroking the lobe.

“I’ll make you a bagel,” Oliver whispered as she started to stroke his arm lazily.

Keeping her eyes closed, she turned around, nestling her face against his chest, smelling the softener on his t-shirt. Her hands gripped the fabric, rubbing her nose against it while he pressed a soft kiss on the top of her head.

“It’s Monday, honey. You have to go to work,” Oliver chuckled in her ear as she shook her head vigorously.

“Don’t want to,” she mumbled, the sound completely muffled. She was so warm and safe in his arms, she just didn’t want to move. Mondays be damned.

“You’re supposed to see Dig for lunch. And you have that meeting you told me about.”

“I can call in sick.”

“And what will you do all day?”

“I’ll stay here with you. It actually sounds like the best idea ever.”

“Alright… but if you want to call in sick, you’re going to have to open your eyes at least.”

“... I don’t want to.”

“Why?”

“Because then you’ll be gone.”

“I never really leave you, Felicity. You know that.”

 

Sighing, Felicity finally forced her eyes open. It was Monday morning, the sun was already bright. And she was alone. Just like she had been for the last 32 months. She stared at the pillow she had been holding closely, and eventually loosened her grip. Sitting up, she rubbed her eyes, exhaling loudly. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. The first few months after Oliver had disappeared, every morning had been similar, her brain imagining him so perfectly she could almost feel him next to her. Eventually, it had happened less and less but there were still some mornings where she could almost smell him by her side.

As she was waiting for her coffee to be ready, eating a bowl of granola, she glanced at the mess that had taken over her dining room. Since last week and her talk with Thea, she had spent most of her free time digging up everything she could find about the Gambit and Robert Queen’s death. Which wasn’t much, apart from scientific data. The investigation into the helicopter crash had been shut down quite fast, something that hadn’t really bothered her back then, but now seemed weirdly suspicious. Especially looking back at all the events that had happened to the Queen family before and after Robert’s death. When it came to the Gambit, the boat had never been found by the Chinese Coast Guard but what surprised her the most was that Moira Queen had never seemed to pressure the authorities. Felicity had assumed that after weeks of searching, the Chinese government had decided to cut the resources dedicated to retrieving what would only be a coffin but it came as a surprise to realize that the Queen family had seemed satisfied with that outcome, despite their public declarations. After a month, the private firm Moira had hired had stopped receiving payments and no one had tried to look for clues concerning the accident.

Back then, Felicity had been young and resourceless, not to mention unable to see past how she was going to make it through the next day. But she had always thought, based on QC’s official statements, that everything had been done in order to retrieve what was left of the Gambit.

Apparently, it hadn’t been the case.

Why?

It could be that Moira, after losing her husband and son in a matter of months, had felt overwhelmed and exhausted with grief, sensing that she would never find an answer to her questions. It actually made sense in a way except… that wasn’t the Moira Felicity had gotten to know. If anything, seeing how Thea had been struggling with the loss of her father and brother, Moira Queen should have pushed until they found an answer, whatever it was.

As she got ready for her day, Felicity forced herself to push the memories back in a corner of her mind. She wasn’t exactly in a position to judge anyone’s way of handling grief, and there might be things she wasn’t aware of. Not to mention, it had happened almost three years ago, and it would take much more than a bit of hacking to find out about everyone’s motivations. Maybe the Queens had been made aware of a few facts she didn’t have.

She was walking down the stairs, her flowy skirt playing across her legs, when she saw Mrs Branson, probably the nosiest neighbor in the whole building, waiting by the main door. Felicity groaned, knowing there was no way to avoid her, mentally preparing herself for yet another conversation about her love life, or lack thereof.  Mrs Branson had been a widow for two decades now, and a few months after Oliver’s death, had started to pester her about how someone as young as Felicity shouldn’t stay single. Her two years away hadn’t changed the old lady’s opinion in the slightest. Unfortunately.

“Felicity, you look lovely today,” Mrs Branson welcomed her with a smile, slipping a newspaper underneath her arm.

“Thank you. Is that a new haircut?” Felicity replied politely, hoping it would be able to divert the conversation.

“Well, yes. It’s a bit shorter, I figured it was time for a change. Also, my grandson is visiting me this weekend, I don’t want him to think I’m one of those old grannies.”

“Oh really? That’s nice of him to visit you.”

“Yes. He just finished his PhD. He’s a bright young man, you know. Actually, you two should meet up. He’s a few years older, and has a bright future ahead of him.”

There we go.

Felicity pinched her lips, willing herself to stay calm. “Thank you, Mrs Branson but as I told you… several times already, I am not really into dating at the moment.”

"Nonsense!" Mrs Branson huffed, lightly tapping Felicity’s arm with her newspaper. “Look at you, you can’t spend the rest of your life alone and miserable. Go out, have fun! You’re barely 25 and my social life is busier than yours!”

“I am also the Vice-President of a big company. I do not have time for dates and fun times,” Felicity gritted through her teeth. “And I am not miserable.”

Mrs Branson looked contrite at her words, her face softening. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. But we both know it would be the same if you were still a normal employee. That’s not what Oliver would want for you if he was still alive, Felicity.”

“If he was still alive, Oliver would probably want us to move in together and get a dog. So I think we can agree that this is a moot point.” Felicity shook her head, trying to walk past the older woman. The last thing she wanted to think about on a Monday morning was what her future would have looked like if Oliver hadn’t gotten on that damn boat.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you,” Mrs Branson sighed. “I just think that spending all of your time at work or in that same old apartment isn’t very healthy for a young woman like you. Go out, have a few drinks, it doesn’t have to be anything serious but at some point, you’ll have to start living again.”

Felicity squared her shoulders, feeling her temper rising. She was already getting scolded by her mother every time she had her on the phone, and having her neighbour follow the same path was really pushing her limits.

“Mrs Branson, I appreciate your concern. But it’s unnecessary. I’m very content at the moment and I also have a very busy life. I’m not looking for anything else.”

“Alright, alright,” Mrs Branson raised her hands. “It’s your life, indeed. If you change your mind, my Braddy will be here on Friday night.”

 

Felicity was still in a sour mood when she walked into her office, offering a small, tense smile to Daniela as she passed by her. Dropping her bags on the floor, she shrugged out of her jacket, setting it on a hanger with a deep sigh. It wasn’t the first time Mrs Branson had cornered her since she’d been back but she was getting more and more pushy each time. She knew the woman had only good intentions, and probably saw her as a daughter figure more than anything else but it still rubbed her the wrong way. People had been expecting her to move on from Oliver easily, the two of them having been together for barely a week before he died.

But she hadn’t been able to. People didn’t know that their relationship had started long before they had become a couple. They didn’t know that being loved by him was a once in a lifetime experience that she knew she’d never get again. They didn’t know how it felt to be 21 years-old and lose the love of your life, having this long path ahead of you that at first had seemed promising and bright, only to turn dark and lonely because he wouldn’t be by your side. Any other relationship seemed dull compared to what they had shared and she couldn’t bring herself to pretend she could move on from that and find someone she could love as much as she had loved him.

She couldn’t even fathom saying I love you to someone else, when she had never had the chance to tell him in the first place. It wasn’t right.

“Your face made me think you really needed a double shot of caramel in your latte,” Daniela’s soft voice interrupted her depressing thoughts as she put down a mug on her desk.

Felicity smiled gratefully, sitting down on her chair, already gripping the hot beverage. “You have no idea. And since when can you make lattes?”

“I… well it’s just coffee with frothed milk and a bit of that caramel syrup, you know,” Daniela shrugged, avoiding her eyes.

“I didn’t even know you knew how to make frothed milk,” Felicity huffed out a laugh, taking a sip of coffee. She paused then, frowning. “I didn’t even know we had a milk frother.”

Daniela bit her lower lip nervously. “I’m sorry… I…”

“What? What’s wrong? Did you steal one?” Felicity snorted as she started her computer.

“No. It’s… God, Felicity, I’m sorry but… do you remember, back in our old headquarters, you asked me to pack your things before you moved out to New York?”

“Yeah… what does it have to do with…” Felicity trailed off, her eyes clouding as she realized where Daniela was heading. “Oh.”

“Yes. I’m sorry. I found all of the presents Oliver had sent you and stored them in a box. I kept them, you know, because you had promised to come back and even if you didn’t, I thought maybe one day you’d be ready to… I mean you’d want them.”

Felicity smiled, nodding her head in reassurance. “I broke his coffee maker.”

“... what?” Daniela asked, obviously caught off guard.

“Oliver. Back when I was his EA. He pissed me off, asked me to make coffee for his guests because he knew very well I had refused from the get go to do so. So… I broke his coffee maker. With a milk frother.”

“That’s why he sent you one,” Daniela murmured in wonder. “Thank God, I really thought you guys had some very kinky fetish. Seriously, though… he didn’t fire you?”

“No,” Felicity grinned, remembering. “He actually liked it. He was also probably relieved I went after his coffee maker rather than his car, this time.”

“... You broke his car?” Daniela asked, gaping. She sat down, resting her hands on Felicity’s desk. “Your agenda is clear for the next hour, tell me more.”

“I didn’t break it. Just… sabotaged it. Because he had-”

“Pissed you off, yeah I’m kinda seeing a pattern there. Wow.”

Felicity shrugged. “We had a very unusual employee-boss relationship.”

“If you don’t mind me asking… the stapler?”

“I tried to assault him with it once. But only because I thought he was a thief!” Felicity giggled, remembering the day she had heard some noise in the archive room, thinking it was the private detective Laurel had hired.

It had been quite a while since she had thought about all those moments they had spent working together and it made her smile, realizing once more how unconventional their partnership had been from the get go. Of course, it only reminded her again of how special their relationship had been and how it had built up slowly, but in the end, she had no regrets. She’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Daniela spent the next hour with her. They didn’t talk anymore about Oliver or QC, but went through Felicity’s agenda and plans for the week. Felicity also mentioned Thea, asking if there was any progress on her internship. Daniela promised to look into it right away and get all the paperwork done as soon as possible.

Truth be told, Felicity wasn’t sure how seriously the young Queen had considered her proposition. She had been enthusiastic, yes, but that didn’t mean she would follow through. Yet, Felicity wanted to be prepared, just in case. She had a feeling Thea’s trust was very fragile and didn’t want to give her any reason to doubt how serious she had been when she had offered her that internship. At least it was something she could do, even if it didn’t feel like much.

“Alright, then. I’ll get right on it. I’m still not sure all departments accept interns, but at the very least she could work here or in Public Relations. Apparently, Human Resources would accept her, too.” Daniela stood up, pushing her chair back. She was about to walk to the door when Felicity called her back on an impulse.

“Daniela?”

“Yes?”

Licking her lips nervously, Felicity shifted on her chair, unsure of herself. Taking a deep breath, she eventually made up her mind and asked the question that had been nagging her ever since she had walked away from Mrs Branson.

“Do you think… do you think it’s time? For me to move on, I mean?” She eventually asked, averting her eyes.

For a few seconds, only silence welcomed her question and it was enough to make her raise her head and meet Daniela’s eyes. They were full of understanding, even if there was a hint of surprise in them.

“Is this what was bothering you?” Daniela eventually asked, leaning her hips against the desk.

“... yes,” Felicity admitted, then proceeded to tell her about her small encounter with her neighbour, as well as her own mother’s repeated sermons.

“Can I be really honest with you?” Daniela eventually winced.

Bracing herself, Felicity nodded. She had asked for her opinion, after all. She was ready to hear it.

“It’s been more than two and a half years since Oliver’s been gone. I think… I think if you moved on now no one in their right mind would be shocked. I mean, Moira Queen is getting married and she lost her husband barely a few months before Oliver.”

“I know. And honestly, I’m not shocked about her getting married. But I still feel like I would betray Oliver if I started dating someone else. Also… I don’t want to. I really feel like I don’t want to.”

“The thing is… are you sure you don’t want to, or have you grown so used to being celibate that you can’t actually imagine going out with someone? Maybe if you tried, you’d see you’ve missed it?”

“So you think I should give it a try?”

“No. Not really. I mean yes. Ugh… I don’t know,” Daniela huffed out a dry laugh, and her confusion brought a small smile to Felicity’s lips as well. “What I mean is that maybe at some point you should give it a try. Not force yourself, but hey a drink never hurt anyone, right? Doesn’t mean you’ll get into another relationship. See if the reason why you don’t want to do it is actually a good reason and not just you protecting yourself. But on the other hand, if it takes you another five years to be ready, then so be it.”

“I just don’t think I’ll ever want to be with anybody else. And it scares me so much,” Felicity breathed, leaning back against her chair. The familiar burn in her eyes was back and she blinked, trying to get rid of it. “I’m not even 25 and it just feels like… I already had my chance. I already had my love story and… it’s gone now. All that is left is second best. No one will ever compare to him. I know I should be thankful, because I had him, even if it was for such a short time. He was all mine and it was perfect and many people never get to live that at all. But… but how can you be happy with good when you had the best? I just have my entire life in front of me and… it shouldn’t be in front of me. It should be in front of us.”

“You still see yourself as his girlfriend,” Daniela smiled warmly. “You haven’t crossed that bridge yet. But I think it’s time for you to do so and start seeing yourself as just Felicity again. That doesn’t mean someone will replace him.”

Felicity sniffled, nodding. “You’re right. I know you’re right. God… I really have the most depressing thoughts on Monday, don’t I?”

Daniela laughed, tilting her head. “Yes, you really do. But it’s good that you’re starting to talk about it. It’s an important step. I think it actually calls for Margaritas tonight, what do you think?”

Felicity was already shaking her head, about to decline when she realized she would have to force herself at some point. Daniela was right. A night out, a few drinks, even a date, didn’t mean a relationship. It was just a first step. “Yes. I think I need that.”

 

Which was how both girls ended up in a bar later that night. They knew they wouldn’t make it late, but Felicity couldn’t deny that picking out her clothes, applying makeup, even if it was just for a girl night, felt good.

They sat at the bar, enjoying the music and making small talk, keeping things light and drama free. They hadn’t talked about Oliver after their little conversation that morning, and Felicity was grateful for Daniela’s understanding. She had needed to talk to someone, help her see things from another perspective, and preferably someone whose main goal wasn’t to set her up with her grand-son - like Mrs Branson, or any other male above 25 - like her mother.

It turned out that two margaritas was all it took to convince her to dance. And what had started as a small night out between two friends turned into a table of six sometime during her third drink. A few of Daniela’s friends joined them, and even if Felicity was uncomfortable at first, she soon relaxed once more. They were actually a friendly bunch, two boys and two girls who were mostly there for the music. Thankfully, Daniela never left her side and knowing she wasn’t alone put her at ease. Brett, the man who was sitting directly next to her, tried to make conversation with her but the music was so loud that they could barely understand each other. It was getting late anyway, so Felicity excused herself and stopped Daniela who had jumped to her feet. There was no reason her friend shouldn’t enjoy the rest of her night, but Felicity had an early video conference the next day and really needed the rest.

She took a deep breath as soon as she walked out of the bar, the muffled music now much more bearable. There were quite a lot of people on the sidewalk, either enjoying the fresh air or having a smoke. She quickly called for a cab, pacing as she waited for it to arrive. To be totally honest, she had enjoyed her night, more than she had thought she would. It felt good to be careless and just have a bit of fun. When she had been younger, money had been a struggle and once she had started to be financially comfortable, she had had other things on her mind. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be a party girl, but she could see the appeal of letting loose once in awhile. Well, if three margaritas could be considered as letting loose, she thought with a smile.

“Felicity?”

She turned around, her eyes wide at the unfamiliar voice. Frowning, she saw that Brett, Daniela’s friend, was smiling at her hesitantly.

“Hum… yes?”

He handed her a small bunch of fabric, shrugging. “Daniela told me you forgot it.”

“Oh. Oh damn. Thank you,” Felicity said, grabbing the pashmina she had indeed left on her chair. “That’s very nice of you, but you shouldn’t have gone all the trouble. I mean Daniela could have brought it to the office tomorrow.”

“I… I didn’t want you to get cold,” Brett grinned, his hands in his pockets.

Felicity smiled, genuinely touched by the gesture. A cab pulled onto the curb at that moment, and she pointed her chin towards it. “That’s my ride. Thank you and… have a good night.”

“Thanks. You too,” he waved at her, then paused awkwardly. “Hum…”

Frowning, Felicity stopped herself, her hand on the door handle. “Yes?”

“I was wondering… well we couldn’t really talk in there. Would you like to go for a drink? Just… you know just a drink?”

Opening her mouth, she was about to say no when she remembered her talk with Daniela. Maybe it was time to try. The guy seemed nice and not pushy, clearly not expecting anything more than a little chat in a bar. Maybe it was time to jump, she thought as she took a deep breath. “Yes. Why not? Does Friday work for you?”

“Friday is perfect,” Brett grinned. “8 o’clock?”

“8 o’clock,” Felicity nodded. “Only, maybe not here? I mean…”

“Yeah, clearly not the right place to talk, I agree. The wine bar on Blue Hill street?”

“Works for me. Friday, 8 o’clock, wine bar on Blue Hill street.”

“Awesome. See you then,” Brett waved at her as she slipped onto the back seat.

“Oh God. I have a date,” Felicity breathed as soon as he was out of sight.

“Well, yes, that’s good but what I’d really like to know is where I’m supposed to drive you, Miss,” the taxi driver explained patiently, searching her eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, blushing furiously as she gave him her address. The bar wasn’t very far from her street and the drive was short. She paid the driver, leaving him a good tip and quickly made her way to her apartment, her mind struggling to gather her thoughts.

What had taken over her? Was it the margaritas? Why had she said yes? The guy was cute and seemed nice but she hadn’t been blown away by him either. Actually she had been quite surprised by his proposition, because she didn’t feel like she had said or done anything that could leave an impression.

She was still thinking about it as she was lying in her bed, wondering if it had been the right call. She only knew his first name, hadn’t even asked for his phone number. She knew next to nothing about him, apart from the fact that he was somehow friends with Daniela. Maybe it was better that way, though. No expectations, minimum pressure.

And maybe people will let me live.

 

Friday night happened quite fast. Between her work, getting in touch with Thea concerning her internship and the usual chores, Felicity barely had the time to breathe. She had been pleasantly surprised to see how enthusiastic Thea actually was to work at Palmer Tech. She had done plenty of research concerning the company and apparently couldn’t wait to start. Her first day would be on Monday, in Felicity’s office and she honestly didn’t know who was more excited: Thea or Daniela who couldn’t wait to have a new playmate.

Felicity, on the other hand, was too busy biting her nails concerning her date to be able to think about anything else. She had almost begged Daniela for Brett’s phone number, or even his last name - so she could find said phone number herself. And also do some research about him. Just a little bit, so she’d be prepared. Daniela had glared at her and resumed her typing, completely ignoring her, telling her once more that it was just a drink.

So, when the cab dropped her in front of Wine, 1982, all she knew was that Brett was a banker who used to date another of Daniela’s friends back in the day. Said-friend was still alive, so at least he wasn’t a serial killer.

Hopefully.

Thirty minutes later, Felicity was desperately wishing he actually was. It would have at least shortened her suffering because the guy was… boring as hell. Actually, no he wasn’t exactly boring. He actually liked to talk, which is something Felicity would never hold against anyone. But… there was about zero connection and common interest. And he mostly liked to talk about himself.

“So, you work at Palmer Tech like Dani, right?” He eventually asked her after a long summary of what his job consisted of - in short: making money. Very surprising for a banker, but hey, who was she to judge.

“Yes,” Felicity smiled, relieved to see the conversation going on to more familiar territory.

“You’re an assistant, like her? She told me that you work closely with the CEO? You’re his secretary?”

“Hum. No. I’m the Vice-President,” Felicity corrected, munching on a slice of cheese. At least the wine and the finger food were good. So there was that.

Brett paused, his mouth half opened and a pretzel in his hand. “Of Palmer Tech? The Palmer Tech?”

Exhaling slowly, Felicity let out a small laugh. “Yes. Unless there is another company with the same name, which I’d love to know about, by the way.”

“But… you’re like my age. I never heard of a girl Vice-President of a company like that one so … young.”

“Ray was actually only one year older when he became CEO himself,” she shrugged, taking a long gulp of wine. “It didn’t seem to shock anyone.”

“Yeah but the guy is a genius.”

Pinching her lips, Felicity raised her eyebrows and put her glass down. There was no way she could reply without being rude so she prefered to keep silent.

Brett seemed to realize how offensive his words were because he suddenly shook his head, a light blush growing on his cheeks. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I really didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that you look so young and you’re… you’re very pretty. And well, I actually considered myself lucky you agreed to go on a date and that was without knowing that you were… well you know.”

Tilting her head, she quietly observed him. His eyes were open and honest and she could see he was a bit ashamed of himself. She knew very well how nervous people could be, hell… she had been more than nervous herself and it wouldn’t be fair to hold that against him, especially since she was a champion when it came to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

“It’s OK,” she eventually smiled reassuringly.

His faux-pas seemed to have shaken Brett out of his nervousness, because he became a much more pleasant companion afterwards. Halfway through her second glass, Felicity even found herself laughing at some anecdote about a former client. In return, she told him how she had ended up working at Palmer Tech in such a high position. He seemed genuinely impressed, even if he apologized once more for his assumptions.

The date turned out better than she had thought, yet she declined a third glass of wine. She had had a good time but… she knew it was pointless to lead him on. He was smart, charming, funny and even had that cute little dimple on his chin but she knew things wouldn’t go any further than that.

He seemed disappointed, but quickly recovered, saying he understood and even offering to drive her back home. She declined, preferring to call a cab and they parted ways with a small, very awkward hug. As she observed him walking away, she groaned, cursing herself. She had had a good evening, and there was really nothing wrong with the guy.

But apparently there was something wrong with her.

“You look almost as miserable as me,” a voice said behind her.

She chuckled, turning around. “Ray. What are you doing here? I thought you were not a big fan of red wine?”

“I’m not. I just had a date. Judging by the way you were looking at that man walking away, so did you.” Ray explained, putting his phone back into the pocket of his suit. “Bad date?”

“Not really. That’s the worst, actually. It was a pretty good date.”

He raised his eyebrows, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I know I’m a bit rusty when it comes to dates, but I thought the goal was to have a good time. Although, you’re making me feel a bit better now, maybe my date is very satisfied with the way I spilled wine on her dress.”

Felicity giggled, adjusting the strap of her purse. “I don’t think anything could make a girl feel good about red wine on her clothes.”

“Have you had dinner?” he asked, rubbing his stomach. I stayed at the office so late I didn’t have time to eat and I’m starving right now. Cheese and crackers are good but…”

“I was actually too nervous to eat earlier, so I’m not going to say no to a real meal,” Felicity sighed. “If you don’t mind my bad company, that is.”

“I’ll give you a run for your money concerning the bad company.”


“OK. You go first,” Felicity told Ray as soon as they had given their orders.

He shrugged, playing with the rim of his glass. “I went on a date, didn’t go well. Your turn.”

Felicity raised her eyebrows, snickering. “Yeah no way. Spill the beans, I want details. This is a serious competition, you know.”

“OK. Her name is Kate, she’s a lawyer, very nice… unless you spill wine on her dress that is. We don’t have that much in common but we used to go to school together and we saw each other at a gala last week. I thought it’d be a good idea to go out and… well, you know.”

Felicity smiled softly, understanding what Ray wasn’t saying. Ray had gotten married a little more than two years ago to Anna, his high school sweetheart. Two months after their wedding, Anna had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had passed away shortly after that. They hadn’t even made it to their first anniversary. It had been extremely hard for Ray, and that was when Felicity had gradually taken charge over Palmer Tech, first handling everything on the East Coast, then other responsibilities as well.  

“Everyone tells me I should go out. Not necessarily date someone, but at least meet new people. Although they keep insisting those new people should be female, so I assume there is a bit of dating in the back of their minds.”

“Everyone?” Felicity asked, frowning. Ray was even more of a workaholic than she was and she wasn’t aware he had that many friends.

“My parents. My idiotic brother. Even Anna’s parents keep repeating to me she wouldn’t want me to stop living. I’m not… I just... it doesn’t…” Ray trailed off.

“It doesn’t feel right,” Felicity finished for him.

“Yeah,” he raised his head in surprise. Their eyes met for a few seconds, an understanding passing between them. They both had gone through very similar traumas and Felicity would be lying if she said it didn’t feel good to have someone who understood exactly how she felt.

“I mean, I tried, you know,” Ray continued. “I really went there with an open mind, thinking it was just a drink, and I’d see where it would take me but… I mostly talked about Anna and then-”

“And then you spilled your wine,” Felicity cut him off with a smile.

“That sums it up. Your turn, now.”

“Ugh. I don’t know. Brett, that’s his name, was nice. Really. But…”

“... but?”

“Every little thing he did or said, I couldn’t help but think about Oliver. You know… Oliver would have laughed at that. Oliver wouldn’t have checked out the waitress’s boobs… well, actually there was a time he totally would have, don’t get me wrong but he had changed. I wouldn’t have had to repeat three times that I couldn’t have nuts with the cheese because Oliver was always the one triple checking everything when it came to my allergy. Oliver would have made me talk about my job for hours even if it made zero sense to him. And he would have leaned against his elbow… also probably stolen some of my wine. He wouldn’t have been OK letting me waiting on the sidewalk and leaving me when it’s getting dark.” Felicity smiled sadly, her eyes fixed on the small candle in the center of their table. “It’s funny because people also tell me to give it a try but the truth is… I never thought more about him than when I was with Brett. So I’m not sure it’s really helping me.”

“It’s the same for me. Being with Kate just reminded me that Anna was gone.”

“Look at us… we’re making Friday the most depressing day of the week,” Felicity chuckled. Truth be told, the fact that she was drinking her third glass of wine was probably helping her see things more lightly.

“To depressing Fridays,” Ray raised his glass for a toast.

“And to lame first dates,” Felicity concluded, clinking her glass against his.

 

A paella and a lemon sorbet later, Felicity was a giggling mess. Alright, the several glasses of wine she had had probably helped. Ray, on the other hand, had stopped after his first, because he was supposed to drive later. He hadn’t stopped her and she hadn’t held back, knowing she could trust him and also savoring the way she could be carefree just for once. She wasn’t exactly drunk, but was clearly on the tipsy side.

“I have to show you this new idea I had, Ray. I was thinking about improving the battery, making it as small as possible. I think I found several possibilities that could really lead to amazing applications, like in the medical field for instance.” Felicity was rambling as Ray drove her back to her place, her mind suddenly back to business. She hadn’t been able to really create anything lately, too busy handling projects that weren’t her own as well as other responsibilities. But she still liked to work on the side, find new things, improve old ones.

Once they had made it to her place, Ray walked her to her door, patiently listening to her long explanations concerning how PT should try to dig into medical things and not just focus on technology for the sake of technology. They had driven with the windows open and the burst of fresh air had sobered her up, and she was much more calm and collected when they made it to the main entrance.

“Thank you, for the dinner… and the talk,” Felicity pressed Ray’s arm before rummaging through her purse to find her keys.

“The pleasure was all mine. It’s been a while since I last had a fun Friday night.”

“Same, really. I usually stay home and have to go through yet another conversation with my mother about how I should not stay home and have a conversation with my mother on a Friday night.”

Ray laughed, nodding. “Been there… done that.”

Felicity hesitated, whatever was left of the alcohol in her system helping her find the courage to ask her question. “Do you think we’ll ever get to the point where… we’ll be ready? Will there ever be someone else for us or… Sometimes I don’t know if the idea of being with someone else repulses me so much because I haven’t tried yet and maybe if I did, I’d realize I’m not betraying him. A part of me is afraid I might never be able to move on, another part doesn’t want to move on and is ready to accept that this… this is going to be my life.”

“I don’t know, Felicity. I wonder about the same things, too. I guess we’ll find out at some point? I hope we will.”

They both looked at each other, a small smile stretching their lips. It was oddly comforting to find someone who could understand her that well or at least understand her struggles. She let out a breathy laugh, her hand rubbing her forehead.

“You know… I used to wonder… you and I. I mean we went through something so similar and no one really understands us…”

“I used to. Sometimes I still do, if I can be honest.”

She bit her lips, tilting her head because truth be told, she sometimes still wondered. Maybe it was a sign that they understood each other so well?

“There’s one way to find out,” she eventually blurted out.

Ray blinked, then frowned and she was ready to face his rejection, looking forward to it in a way, when he suddenly leaned down. Reaching up on her toes, she met him halfway, his lips warm against hers.

It was nice, and reassuring and safe and… it was like the kisses she used to exchange with her best friend when they wanted to imitate the grown-ups. And to be totally honest… she was glad she didn’t feel anything more.

She leaned back and so did he and for a moment none of them talked.

“Nothing, right?” Ray eventually laughed.

“Nope. Not a thing,” she giggled, hiding her mouth behind her hands. “But it’s good to know for sure.”

“Yes, I agree. Not to mention, we work together. And… yeah we work together.”

“That too,” she agreed. “Speaking of which, I finished the digest concerning Wendy’s project, if you want to check upon it this weekend? I have it upstairs.”

“Oh, yeah that’d be nice.”

Felicity knew alcohol had probably played a huge part in her behavior tonight but it had felt right to… try. She and Ray should have worked on paper and if even with him, with someone who was going through the exact same things, it didn’t feel right… then she knew for sure she wasn’t ready. Her heart was still too full of Oliver, and it was alright.

When Felicity finally opened the main door, she felt a shiver running down her spine. Looking around, she saw nothing out of the ordinary, except for Ray’s friendly face and she blamed her love for red wine. She let Ray in, closing the door behind them, knowing that even if the night had turned very differently than she had expected, it had been an important step.

 

As she was settling against the pillows of her bed, one hour later, she grabbed the small frame that never left her nightstand. It was a picture of him, that she had taken shortly after they had made love one night, in his bed. She had been setting her alarm clock, Oliver's fingers lazily tracing patterns on her stomach while he was gazing at her. He had been so perfect, his eyes so bright and loving that she hadn't been able to resist and had snapped a quick picture. It was her most intimate souvenir of him, not so much because of when it had happened, but because of the love that was so clear on his face as he was looking at her. The Oliver on that picture was hers, and hers alone, and for probably the millionth time, she lost herself in his eyes, lost herself in that love she wasn't able to let go of. Tonight, more than any other night, she had felt his presence by her side, for a reason that she wouldn't understand for another four months.

 

One day, she’d look back on this Friday night, and she’d wonder why she hadn’t listened to her guts when she had closed the door behind Ray. Had she paid more attention, she would have noticed the car parked on the other side of the road, the shadow of a man in the driver’s seat. And the reason she had felt that shiver down her spine would make sense.

Her body had sensed him even if her brain had been told he was gone two years, eight months and three days ago.

And even though she would get him back soon, if she could turn back time she’d rush through that door and jump in his arms because every single minute away from him had torn her soul apart and if the universe had decided to grant them another chance, she wouldn’t waste any second.

But she didn’t listen to her instincts and went on to continue her life without him, without his eyes and his smile, without the warmth she had only ever found in his arms.

And that would be another lesson she’d remember for the rest of her life.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Runaway Train"

Call you up in the middle of the night
like a firefly without a light
you were there like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning
so tired that I couldn't even sleep
so many secrets I couldn't keep
promised myself I wouldn't weep
one more promise I couldn't keep

it seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep
there's no way out
this time I have really lead myself astray

runaway train, never goin' back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like I should be getting somewhere
somehow I'm neither here nor there

can you help me remember how to smile?
make it somehow all seem worthwhile
how on earth did i get so jaded?
life's mysteries seem so faded
I can go where noone else can go
I know what no one else knows
here i am just drownin' in the rain
with a ticket for a runaway train

and everything seems cut and dry
day and night
earth and sky
somehow I just don't believe it

runaway train, never goin' back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like I should be getting somewhere
somehow I'm neither here nor there

bought a ticket for a runaway train
like a madman laughing at the rain
little out of touch, little insane
it's just easier than dealing with the pain

runaway train, never goin' back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like I should be getting somewhere
somehow I'm neither here nor there

runaway train, never comin' back
runaway train, tearin' up the track
runaway train, burnin' in my veins
I run away but it always seems the same

 

 

"You don’t understand. I have to go home.”

“No. I believe that you do not understand, Mister Queen. Going home is not a possibility at the moment.”

“Listen, I have no idea what is happening on that island, all I want is to go back to Starling and forget about everything.”

The woman in front of him stopped pacing, crossing her arms on her chest. Oliver took a moment to wonder, once more, how she managed to keep her hair so perfectly tied and her clothes so spotlessly clean.

“Let me make it clearer for you then, Mister Queen. You either die or you prove yourself trustworthy enough to be valuable for my organization. There is no third option.”

“I’m… I’m a businessman, for God’s sake!” Oliver huffed out. “Unless you want me to teach you how to fix a tie, or to hold a conference call, I don’t see how useful I can be in the middle of nowhere!”

“You didn’t survive alone on this island for almost a year. Who helped you?”

“No one!” Oliver denied, struggling against the cuffs that were holding him prisoner. He was in a tent, on that bloody island. Surrounded by men in uniform and a black woman in heels. Heels in the middle of a deserted island. It was still one of the weirdest things he had seen since he had shipwrecked.

“You’re lying, Mister Queen. And I wonder why.”

He forced himself to keep his eyes on her, his face as neutral as possible. “I am not lying. I’m the only one who made it to this island when the Gambit sank.”

Amanda smiled, sitting down on a chair next to him. “We both know I’m not talking about the shipwreck. This island is where the Chinese government used to send people it wanted to make… disappear. I am going to ask you one last time: Who did you meet?”

Oliver exhaled slowly, clearing his head as he sharpened his knife. “I am going to ask you one last time: Who else was in to overthrow Anatoli Knyazev?”

“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about!” The man he was interrogating, a boy really, barely twenty years old, pleaded with him. Oliver could see the fear in his eyes, but he also knew that fear wasn’t directed towards him. The boy was afraid of someone else.

Big mistake.

In the end, it only took five minutes to get the name he wanted. The name of the traitor who had tried to take Anatoli’s place in the Bratva and who probably wouldn’t live to see another day. But that wasn’t his job.

“It was Gregori, wasn’t it?” Anatoli asked as he joined him in the small, damp room underneath a garage.

“Yes,” Oliver answered with a short nod. They had both expected it, Gregori having been Anatoli’s nemesis in the organisation for years. All they had needed was confirmation.

“Is the boy still alive?”

Again, Oliver nodded. “He tried to resist. He could be valuable. He wasn’t holding the information out of loyalty but out of fear.”

Anatoli sighed, tapping his fingers against his chin. “I’ll consider it. Have a seat. We need to celebrate.”

“Gregori is still breathing at the moment,” Oliver let out with the ghost of a smile. “Don’t you think it’s a bit premature?”

“You know me. I like to celebrate,” Anatoli laughed as he poured them two shots of vodka. “I also need one last service from you.”

“Am I really the only interrogator you have?” Oliver quirked an eyebrow as they both raised their glasses and gulped them down.

“It’s a bit different this time. You know you’ve repaid your debt to the organisation, right?”

“Yes.”

“I only need one more thing from you… then you’ll be allowed to walk away, like we agreed to.”

“And what is that thing?”

“One of our members has gone rogue. Keeping money for his own benefit. You know what we do with traitors of this kind.”

“I do.” A bullet between the eyes. A warning for all the other ones. “But why me? You usually handle them.”

“He’s not based in Russia. I need someone with a perfect Yankee accent. Unfortunately… you are my one and only American friend.”

“He’s in the US?” Oliver asked, knowing his blank expression had slipped. He hadn’t set a foot on American soil in almost three years.

“He’s in your hometown,” Anatoly specified, his eyes never leaving him.

Starling City. His home. Where his family was. His mother, his sister…

Felicity. Just the vision of her blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes was enough to make him lose focus. He had buried his feelings for her a long time ago. Hidden them in a very, very small corner of his heart, where no one could reach them. They were still there, but he now knew they were futile. He wasn’t the one for her anymore. That man had died on the Gambit more than two years ago. But she? She would always be the one for him. That would never change. He knew he’d never love anyone the way he loved her.

“Is it my last test?” Oliver eventually asked, knowing it wasn’t by chance that one of his last missions would take him back to his city. In the year he had been in the Bratva, paying his debts as they said, he had had to fulfill several missions… or tests. Loyalty to the brotherhood was sacred and they would go to great length to test someone’s worth. The things he had had to do in order to not end up with a bullet between his eyes were tainting his soul.

Or whatever was left of it.

“It’s not a test, Oliver. I know your loyalty. But you know how things work here. It’s not me you have to convince. It’s everybody else. Then… then you’ll be free if you want to be. You will have paid your debt.”

“When do I leave?”

“In three days. Afterwards, we’ll go with our plan. A boat found you stranded, brought you to Russian soil and… Oliver Queen can officially come back to life.”

***

 

They landed in Mexico. Two other men had come with him, presumably to verify that the job was done - or to make sure he was going back to Russia afterwards, he didn’t know. What was clear though was that they were useless. He had a mission, and he would do it. He also knew that he didn’t have a choice: he had to go back to Russia until he was finally allowed to walk away, after a year of services. Had it been anybody else but Anatoli at the head of the crime organisation, Oliver would have been forced to carry on much longer. And leaving would have been much, much more difficult. But Anatoli owed him his life and he had made a promise.

If there was one thing that Oliver knew the value of, it was the word of Anatoli Knyazev. He wouldn’t betray Oliver’s trust. Not to mention, leaving the Bratva now would put all his loved ones in danger. They would get to them as retaliation and Oliver would never take that risk. They were his only weakness and the brotherhood knew it.

Crossing the border was easy, the fake passports the Bratva used being more than efficient, especially for the Mexican border, where the officers were used to dealing with drunk citizens. He had no worry about being recognized, the chances he would stumble upon someone he knew being extremely slim. They made it to Starling during the night, resting at a small, shabby motel just outside the city.

Only Oliver hadn’t been able to fall asleep. He had stayed still in the uncomfortable bed, staring at the ceiling. He was in Starling City. In the very same city where he had grown up. Where his family still lived. Where Felicity still lived. All he knew was that they were all alive, and well. Safe, far away from the danger of his own life.

Yet, he felt like a stranger. An alien. He didn’t even feel like Oliver Queen anymore. He didn’t know if he ever would again.

And when, twelve hours later, he pulled the trigger and killed the man Anatoli had ordered him to, it almost felt like the last little piece of his old identity died too. That man was American, slightly older than him, had grown up in the same city, cheered the same baseball team. But Oliver hadn’t hesitated. If he hadn’t done it, someone else would have. Might as well be him.

His two companions had decided to celebrate with a night of booze with other Bratva members - and probably half a dozen prostitutes. He had declined, like he always did. He had had his wild years, in another life. They involved laughter, and stupid dares with his best friend, not gang-bangers  and violence. Even if Bratva was now his life, there were aspects of it he would never be able to share. Not to mention, getting drunk meant lowering your guard.

He never lowered his guard. He couldn’t afford to.

Instead, he did what he had promised himself he wouldn’t do. He stopped at the mansion. The house hadn’t changed, still as big and impressive, but what had once looked like home was now just a pile of bricks. He had observed, silently, the small family dinner. His mother, Thea, Tommy. They were all fine.

And then… then he went to Felicity’s place. He didn’t even know if she still lived there, but he needed to go. He needed to see the door, the steps, where he had kissed her, where he had last seen her, her beautiful smile as she had waved him goodbye, her small pout when he had promised he'd come back and finish the puzzle that had taken over her coffee table. A promise he hadn't kept.

He stayed there hours, safely hidden in his car, so tempted to walk to the door and check if her name was still on the mailboxes. For the first time in more than a year, he allowed himself to think about her, think about what she had become. Was she still working at Pamer Tech? Did she still meet Dig for Big Belly Burger dates? Did she still look the same, had she gone back to brunette?

He closed his eyes, and for a second he could have sworn he was able to smell her green apple scented shower gel. If he focused enough, he could still feel how soft her skin was underneath the tips of his fingers. For a moment, he allowed himself to miss her. Her smile, her laugh, her loud voice and every little thing that had made him fall in love with her. She had made him a better man, a man he was becoming proud of. But that man was gone.

A monster had taken his place. The hands that used to caress her body could now snap a neck. Or pull the trigger and put a bullet between a man’s eyes.

A sudden flash of light caught his attention and he lowered himself on his seat when a car stopped right near the entrance of her building. His breath caught in his throat when he saw a head full of blond hair leaving the passenger seat.

She was laughing when she closed her door, not giving her companion enough time to do it for her. Oliver gritted his teeth when he recognized the tall, dark haired man.

Palmer.

He knew he should leave, because he had no right to spy on her that way but he was glued to his place, unable to look away as they stopped right in front of her door, still talking. They were too far away from him to hear what they were saying, but she was smiling, that was pretty obvious. His hands gripped the wheel tighter when he saw Palmer leaning, knowing what was about to happen.

The kiss was short but it seemed to last a lifetime for Oliver and it felt as if someone was pouring acid on his heart. He should have been the one kissing her. It wouldn’t have lasted a few seconds, because he would have savored her, taken his time and engraved it to his memory. He would have held her close to him, because her body was made for his. And he wouldn’t have let go.

Oliver closed his eyes when she saw her opening the door, inviting Palmer in. The pain was brutal and invasive, twisting his insides, burning his soul. She was with another man. Another man who was making her laugh, a man who wasn’t tainted. A man who wouldn’t put her life in danger. A man who wasn’t dangerous, a man she’d never have any reason to be scared of.

She was happy, and that’s all he had ever wanted.

He started the car and left as discreetly as he came. Driving around Starling City, through the streets he once knew so well made him realize that things had changed too much. He didn’t belong there anymore. Being there only reminded him of all the things he had lost. It hurt him, in a way he didn’t even think was possible after all he had already gone through. So many things had been taken away from him and here, in his hometown, all he could see was how much out of place he was now. Never again would he enjoy a brunch on a sunny Sunday, with a beautiful blonde girl snuggling against him. Even if he came back, he’d never be able to live, to really live. He only knew how to survive now. And the only way for him to stop torturing himself was to accept it. There was no coming back for guys like him.


Going back to Russia afterwards wasn’t so painful. It actually made things much easier for him, bringing some kind of clarity. He didn’t really want to stay in the Bratva. But he also knew he couldn’t go back to Starling and his old life. He wasn’t Oliver Queen anymore, and he would never fit in. Truth be told, he had never really fit in this life, always struggling to find his place. Except with her but… he couldn’t go back to her. He couldn’t let her see what he had become. He couldn’t stand the idea of seeing fear in her eyes when she would realize how dangerous he was.

“I have to say I’m a bit surprised,” Anatoli said as they were in his favorite restaurant, waiting for their orders.

Oliver raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

“Yes… I know you wanted to go home to your girl more than anything.”

“It wasn’t just Felicity.”

“Your family mattered too. But we both know you had one small pen and one small notebook and you filled the pages with letters to her and nobody else, Oliver.”

Shrugging, Oliver took a sip of water. All of this had happened a long time ago. At first, he had wanted to go back to her desperately, tell her he was fine and not leave her apartment for at least one week straight. But then… Amanda Waller had happened. Bratva had happened. The man she had loved was no more. He had slowly accepted that. He didn’t deserve her anymore and she was so much better off without him. She had a good life ahead of her, something he’d never be able to give her anymore.

“What about your father? You used to tell me you wanted to find out who killed him. I thought that was why you trained so hard with us.”

Oliver pinched his lips, remembering how torn he had been between his desire to protect the ones he loved and his promise to avenge his father. In the end, the idea of losing someone else because of his actions had won. “You told me there were rumors the Gambit was sabotaged too.”

“It’s not rumors… when we hear things, it’s because they happened, Oliver. We might not know who, when or how… but it’s not rumors. People don’t spread gossip to the Bratva.”

“The thing is… it’s almost been three years and whoever was after our family hasn’t struck again. Whatever their reason was, our family hasn’t been a target since the boat sank. Neither has the company.”

“... yes. Are you sure your father never told you anything or left you something else apart from that letter?”

“I am positive. Which only leaves me with two possibilities. One, they thought my father and I knew something and are confident that now everything has died with us. Or two, whoever went after us is dead. But from my father's letter, I know it wasn't just one person, so I highly doubt it's option number two.”

“And you’re not going back because…?”

“I saw my mother and Thea. They’re fine. I saw Felicity, she is safe. If I go back, I put them all in danger again. Whoever went after the Queens didn’t think twice about killing other people as well. And we both know I’m not the same man anyway. They are better off without me. All of them.”

“Very well. You know we always need men like you. For as long as you wish, this is your brotherhood as well.”

The brotherhood. Something Oliver had thought he would never feel a part of. When he had been rescued from Lian Yu, he had no idea it would come at a price. But Bratva had its own code of honor. He had a debt, he needed to pay it. He had accepted it, like he had learned to accept everything that had happened to him ever since the Gambit sank.

It almost felt like he was living somebody else’s life. Secret organisations, mob, trafficking, guns, executions. He had killed, and every single death had been easier for him until he could do it without even blinking.

It was him or them.

The choice was easy.

Sometimes, he wondered when exactly he had understood, and accepted, that he might not go back home. Probably the day he had snapped a man’s neck, the first day of his initiation. There was no turning back from that.

As Oliver made his way back to the small apartment he owned, above a small Asian restaurant in the heart of Moscow, he couldn’t help but think of how different his life should have been.

Felicity and he would have moved in together by that point. Maybe they would even start talking about engagement or marriage, even though she was still quite young.There would be a huge mirror above their bed… and another one in the bathroom. Maybe they would have gotten a dog. He had always wanted a dog. Their life together would have been a perfect mix of sex and laughter and bickering. Probably a few fights too, because their personalities were bound to clash every now and then.

But he would have been so happy. So utterly, ridiculously happy. The one week they had had together had been the best of his life, and he had blamed himself so much for the very little time they had had. Now, he knew it was probably better that way. The longer they would have stayed together, the harder it would have been for her to move on. And he wanted her to move on, to find her happiness. Of course, seeing her with Palmer had felt like someone was burning a hole through his heart. The idea that he, that anyone really, could put his hands on her, kiss her, hold her and make love to her… it was the worst kind of torture. Yet, if that meant she was happy, then he would gladly live with it.  

He wouldn’t be the man she would marry, wouldn’t be the father of her children, wouldn’t grow old with her. But she would be safe, and have a nice life, filled with love and laughter.

It was enough for him. Knowing she would get on with her life, achieve her dreams, was soothing the ache. Sometimes, loving someone meant accepting that you weren't the best for them. He had always wanted to give her the world, because that was what she deserved. Another man would do it. Another man would brighten her days, the way she had brightened his. 

It was more than enough, especially since he knew love and laughter had no place in his own life. His world was dark, and dangerous, a place where she didn’t belong. Just like he didn’t belong in hers. Not anymore. Felicity was light and joy and he would only taint her. 

When he walked into his room, he reached inside the pocket of his jeans, where he still had the small keychain that had kept him sane during his time on the island. Sitting down on his bed, he rolled it between his fingers, the tiny pen now completely useless, broken in several places. He could still remember the smirk on Felicity’s face as she had handed him the souvenir she had picked for him in Vegas. Opening his drawer, he fished out the small notebook that had, for some reason, made it to the shore a few days after him. Several items from the boat had washed up in the weeks following the accident, and for some odd reason, the small package his father had left him had made it safely back to him. At first he had thought it was a sign he would go back home and help find out who murdered his father, but it had become clear, after a few weeks, that this might not happen. So, he had written to her. Using the blank pages of the notebook, he had started to write to Felicity, hoping that maybe one day she’d be able to read it and see how he had only thought of her. All his hopes and wishes, the way she made him feel, everything had been set down on paper, in case he wouldn’t make it back to her.

Sighing, he opened the notebook, his finger tracing the outlines of her name. His handwriting was smaller than usual, because he knew he didn’t have much ink or paper, and messier, because the first time he had written her, he had already been weak, dehydrated and famished.

 

Felicity,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I might not come back to you. Back on the boat, Andrew told me about his wife, about how he had lost her all these years ago and all I could think of was that I couldn’t even envision a life without you. And now, I’m far away from you and the truth is, the idea that I’m gone might be crossing your mind right now. I wish I could promise you that I’ll come home but I’m not sure I will. I love you. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone. That week we had was the most perfect time of my life. If I could turn around and change everything, I would. I’d never get on that damn boat, I would stay with you and I would hold you in my arms and never let you go. There are so many things I still haven't told you. How you make the cutest little sound just before you wake up every morning. I always kiss your forehead when I wake up before you. It's like a little secret, between your skin and me. I really thought I'd get to do that for the rest of my life, I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. Please forgive me, and know that-

 

Oliver closed his eyes, remembering how and when exactly he had written those words. He had run out of clear water, had gotten sick with the fruits he had eaten and honestly thought he wouldn’t make it to the next morning. He had passed out mid-sentence, only to wake up the next day, with a blanket over him and a small fire warming him up.

Exhaling slowly, he eventually put the notebook back in his drawer. And this time, he added the small pen as well. He had to let her go. He had to let go of his past, his dreams, his hopes. There was nothing for him in Starling anymore. Everyone had moved on, and going back would only endanger them. It was time for him to make peace with that. 

There would be no happy ending for him.

Chapter Text

"Here With Me"

Caught in the riptide
I was searching for the truth
There was a reason
I collided into you

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

Nobody knows why
Nobody knows how and
This feeling begins just like a spark
Tossing and turning inside of your heart
Exploding in the dark

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

Oh inside me
I find my way
Back to you
Back to you

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

Two words
In your hands
In your hearts
It's whole universe

You are always here with me

 

 

 

 

Felicity sighed, then pushed back her laptop, resting her elbows on the table and rubbing her eyes. Three months. It had been more than three months since she had started to dig into the Gambit’s sinking. And she still hadn’t made any significant progress. After a few weeks of fruitless results, she had turned her attention to the helicopter crash that had cost Robert Queen his life. Then to the gas explosion.

And had found nothing, apart from the nagging conviction that there was much more to those three tragedies than she had thought at first.

A knock on her door startled her and with a big sigh, she stood up, padding her way across her living room. Without checking, she opened the door wide, letting Dig in.

“Hi,” she welcomed him, accepting the large coffee he was handing her.

“Seeing your face… another dead end?” Dig asked as he closed the door behind him.

“Yup. I looked into Isabel’s actions these past three years and there's nothing suspicious. She has been very discreet. Went back to work for Stellmoor International six months ago.” 

“On the other hand, that woman is sneaky. She’s really good at having other people do her dirty work. 

“Tell me about it. I ended up in a hospital because of her,” Felicity groaned as they both sat around her dining table.

Diggle took a sip of coffee, then quietly put his cup down on the table. “Felicity… I don’t want to be this kind of friend but… don’t you think that if you haven't found anything, it’s maybe because there is nothing to find?”

“Do you really believe that?” Felicity asked him, her fingers drumming on her laptop. “I mean we both agreed that… there are coincidences and then there are… coincidences. And there is also what Oliver told me. Something about his father not being the man he thought he was.”

“I know. And I was on the same page when you told me all searches for the Gambit got cut short and we never really got answers about it. But you kept looking and you couldn’t find any evidence that could prove a connection, or anything about Robert Queen. Knowing you like I do, if you didn’t find anything, chances are it’s because there was nothing.”

Felicity bit her lips, frowning. “You’re right. I couldn’t find any evidence. Maybe I’ve been searching in the wrong place.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you remember back when we were trying to stop Isabel from getting the CEO position?”

“Yeah but what does it have to do with that?”

“I couldn’t find anything either.”

“Yes, you…” Dig started. “Oh.”

“Yup. I never found anything online.”

“But back then we knew where to look. Attorney’s archives. And please tell me you’re not planning to break into private buildings again.”

“We need to see things differently. The gas explosion happened. The investigation showed it was arson but they never found the culprit. What could be the motive? There was no real benefit, was there? Well… QC got rid of an old factory and the insurance paid for most of it but I don’t see Robert Queen murdering people so there must have been, somehow, another motive. If it was to weaken QC, it didn’t work so why did they stop?”

“Unless it was Isabel’s doing all along but once she realized she couldn’t get QC, she stopped with her… devilish plans.”

“Yeah… but then… why the Gambit? Why… why Oliver?” Felicity asked in a small voice. She had known Isabel was ruthless but had believed her innocence in Robert’s death. Could she have been fooled?

Diggle laced his fingers, his arms resting on the table. “Revenge? I mean, she managed to weaken QC enough to gain more backers on her side, then Robert dies and… she would have become CEO if it wasn’t for you. You were Oliver’s assistant and… Oliver was the heir to the throne. He was a direct threat, the reason why she didn’t get the job. People have killed for far less, Felicity.”

“It still doesn’t explain why the Queens stopped all investigations. They never tried to find out more about the Gambit, despite their public statements. There has to be a reason, but I found nothing. Do you think I should ask Moira?” Felicity bit her thumbnail nervously. Truth be told she had considered this several times already. Moira must have had some answers she didn’t have. Such as why all searches for the boat had stopped abruptly. Had they found something they couldn’t share?

Thea had also mentioned a few times how she was having issues accepting her brother’s death because she couldn’t grasp the fact that it was, just like for her father, a random freak accident. At first, Felicity had played it under the radar, not wanting her to know she was sharing the same doubts, mostly because it would have felt like she was siding with the daughter against the mother, in a way. She had mostly asked questions, only to quickly realize Thea was just as clueless as she was and she had eventually admitted to the young woman that she, too, had a weird feeling about everything that happened three years ago.

“You know, I saw that a lot in the army. People get tired of grief and want to stop thinking about it because it hurts too much. Maybe that’s the reason why Moira stopped everything. Maybe it was too painful.”

“Yes, that was actually my first thought,” Felicity nodded. “But it’s been almost three years and if that was the reason, then… I think enough time has passed. Thea needs to share that with someone, and I’m not enough. She needs to feel listened to by her mother or it’s going to eat her alive. There is nothing worse than having all those questions and no way to find answers, especially at her age.”

“What are you going to do, then?” Dig asked, leaning back on his chair.

“I’m going to have a talk with Mrs Queen,” Felicity answered, shaking her head. “I need to know, Dig. Thea needs to know, too. If there is something, anything out there that could bring us closure… we have a right to find out.”

Diggle sighed, lowering his eyes. He twitched his mouth as if he wanted to say something.

“What is it, Dig?”

“Just…” He took a deep breath, raising his head. “I remember how you were after… after Oliver died. I don’t want to see you like that ever again, Felicity. You seem to be in a good place right now. Just… promise me that whatever happens, you won’t let yourself fall back to that place.”

Leaning in, she pressed his hand reassuringly. “I know it must have been hard for you. I don’t remember much of the first weeks to be honest but… I don’t want to feel like that ever again either.”

“You just remind me too much of how you used to be. You’re getting obsessed, all of your free time is consumed by this. It’s not healthy, Felicity. I want the truth as much as you do, but don’t let it destroy how far you’ve come.”

“I’m not… I just…” Felicity groaned, her hands rubbing her face. “It’s killing me that I lost all this time, Dig. I shouldn’t have-”

“No. Don’t even go there,” Dig cut her off. “You did what you had to do to heal. And look where that got you. You made the right decision, and Oliver would agree. You chose to live, and I know that’s what he would have wanted above anything else.”


***

“Grey.”

“Red.”

“Daniela…”

“Felicity…”

Felicity glared at her assistant, hands on her hips. “I thought we had agreed that red was too violent a color for the working environment?”

“Yes, but look how pretty it is, it’s all shiny!” Daniela squealed, her hands waving towards the catalogue that was currently spread open on the table between the two women.

“It’s just a new fridge, who cares if it’s all shiny,” Felicity huffed, throwing her head back and staring at the ceiling. “Thea, please, help me on this one.”

Thea grimaced from her seat. “I kinda like the red one…”

“Ha! See?!” Daniela smirked, grabbing the catalogue and noting down the item numbers.

Sighing, Felicity groaned, rubbing her forehead. “Alright, then. Red it is.”

Shaking her head, she walked back to her office, knowing it was pointless to argue. Thea had been working for her for four months now and, just as Felicity had expected, she had fit right in with the rest of the employees. At first, she had only been supposed to stay two months, until a spot was available in the HR department. But she had settled in so well that Felicity had decided to keep her a bit longer and she hadn’t regretted her decision. It had been such a joy to see the young woman getting more comfortable and assured, finally having a purpose in her life. Yet, she could see that Thea was itching to get her hands on other things and it was probably time to send her to another service.

They had taken the habit of having lunch just the two of them, each Friday, and going through their week together. As they were sitting at a table, in the very same café they had spent an evening all these months ago, Felicity didn’t waste any time before tackling one of the topics she wanted to approach with Thea.

“So… there is a position in Public Relations. You could start next Monday.”

“Really?” Thea asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Yep. I think it would be good for you, and more in line with what you like to do. Also, I feel like you’re comfortable in the company now, and know how things work. Don’t you?”

“Yes. I mean… yeah, I guess so. It just feels like it all started yesterday, you know?”

“Yes… but it’s been almost four months,” Felicity grinned, picking up her glass of water. “And you’re more than ready. Not to mention, don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’re starting to get bored lately.”

“I don’t think anyone could get bored working with Daniela,” Thea snorted.

“That being said, you’ll still be welcome in our office during your breaks,” Felicity reassured her right before the waiter came to get their order. She could see a small bit of fear in Thea’s eyes, but she didn’t let that stop her. The young woman was ready and capable, and she trusted her. Acting on that trust and sending her away was the best kind of message she could give her. “I love having you in my office, but I also want you to be able to experience other things. I know you’ll do an amazing job there.”

Thea grinned, a hint of pride in her eyes that only confirmed that this was the best decision for her.

They were almost done with their meal when Felicity suddenly realized that Thea was getting more and more quiet, which was extremely unusual for her.

“Is there something wrong?” she eventually asked as she was handing her credit card to their waiter.

“No. No, no. It’s fine,” Thea quickly denied, shaking her head. “Well, actually… I was wondering if you could come for brunch this Sunday.”

Felicity paused, caught by surprise by the unexpected offer. She knew that Thea implied ‘at the mansion’, and she couldn’t help but wonder what had prompted the invitation - and why she was so nervous about it.

“This Sunday? Is there something special or…?”

“Yes, this Sunday. And… not really. It’s just that Mom invited the Merlyns and a few other people and… well… I know she’s been wanting to have you for brunch for a while, I just figured it would be easier if it’s not just the four of us.”

“And that makes you nervous, because…?” Felicity asked as they were making their way out of the café.

“Well, I know you kinda avoided us after Oliver died and… also, last time I offered for you to stop by, I ended up blowing at you,” Thea winced, adjusting the strap of her purse on her shoulder. “I also don’t want you to think like you have to, you know.”

“Actually… I wanted to talk with your mother. This might be the perfect occasion.”

Thea looked at her, her eyes widening in surprise. “About what?”

Wincing, Felicity bit her lips nervously. She didn’t want to appear like she wanted to interrogate Moira Queen but on the other hand, didn’t want to lie to Thea either. “It’s… it’s about Oliver. I’ve been thinking a lot about how… how the Gambit sank and I just don’t have many answers.”

“Oh. I wish I could help you but as you know, all I was told was that I was too young and it was just… a sad accident,” Thea shrugged. “I honestly don’t understand how someone can be satisfied with this kind of answer. I mean, I understand eventually accepting it. I don’t get being OK with it happening twice in a row but… maybe she’ll be ready to talk about it with you?”

“You know, I never questioned anything when I was told Oliver died. I didn’t… I was unable to see anything past his death. Your mother lost her husband and then her son right after. Everyone deals with grief differently,” Felicity explained gently. She also couldn’t help but notice the change in Thea’s behavior concerning her mother. She had been much more aggressive four months ago, but now seemed to understand that it might have only been that they both had had a different take on what had happened to their family.

Felicity had soon realized that working at Palmer Tech had changed Thea. As if she needed a break, needed to get away from her family, from the familiar surroundings. Felicity, who had always wanted to escape Vegas, could only understand.

 

***

 

“Thank God you’re here,” Thea welcomed her with a hug. “I’m getting cornered and I can’t even have mimosas.”

Felicity giggled, patting her sympathetically on the back, then letting her go. “That must be awful. I thought Tommy always sneaked one for you?”

“He hasn’t arrived yet. It’s just my mother’s friends and me.”

“Hence why you came to welcome me before I even had the time to get out of my car,” Felicity said as they made their way to the main entrance. She had been afraid of being late, picking out an outfit having taken forever. She was nervous, and had second-guessed herself all weekend. Was going back to the mansion a good idea at all? Was Dig right when he said she was diving head first into the past instead of looking forward?

Thea’s ramble about the cinnamon rolls Raisa had baked got lost in a white noise when she stepped inside the foyer, the smell of freshly washed wood floors hitting her like a train. So, so familiar after all those years, directly linked to some of the most beautiful moments of her life.

“... told her about your allergy, don’t worry.”

“What?” Felicity asked, forcing her attention back to the young woman.

“I told Raisa about your allergy,” Thea explained slowly, a slight frown on her face. “Are you alright?”

“Yes, sorry. Just… distracted,” Felicity replied with a reassuring smile as they walked inside the dining room.

Despite the sudden knot in her stomach, it was too late to go back. Especially since her hostess had spotted her.

“Miss Smoak, it’s lovely to have you here,” Moira greeted her with a smile. Felicity could see she had somehow… hardened over the years. Her grin was warm, but pain and grief had also made her stronger in a way that was obvious to anyone who took the time to observe her.

Which she really shouldn’t, she remembered with a start as the matriarch looked at her expectantly.

“Thank you for the invitation, Mrs Queen… Steele…. Queen-Steele…?” she eventually blurted out, her eyes searching for Thea for support. She really should have checked about Moira’s official new name.

“Call me Moira, it will be much simpler.”

Oh, well that works, too.

 

There were only about a dozen people and Moira introduced her to the ones she didn’t know yet. She recognized a few familiar faces, including Mr Merlyn and a couple of board members. Soon enough, she found herself deep in conversation with Walter about the mayor and his accomplishments, or lack of accomplishments actually. The Brit was as charming as in her memories, but it still felt slightly weird to be on an almost equal footing with him now. When he had known her, she was just an assistant, and now she was Vice-President of a company as big as QC. In a way, it felt like going to a school reunion and still being impressed by your third grade teacher.

She was just about to agree with Walter’s statement concerning the public deficits when a hand landed on her back. She stiffened by instinct, because the gesture was intimate in a weird way, but she relaxed instantly when she heard the voice that accompanied it.

“Walter, Felicity.”

A small smile on her lips, she turned around. “Tommy.”

“The one and only, I’m afraid,” he winked at her.

Walter looked at them with understanding eyes, then pointed his chin to the other side of the room. “I’m afraid it’s time for me to mingle with other guests.”

Felicity saw Walter walking towards his wife, joining a conversation between her and Malcolm Merlyn.

“I noticed you were drinkless. It’s unforgivable,” Tommy smirked, handing her a mimosa.

“You didn’t put anything in it, did you?” Felicity couldn’t help but ask teasingly.

He froze with his own glass halfway from his lips. “Seriously? Have you… Have you seen this?” he said indignantly, his hand travelling down his body. “Not to mention, I like my women conscious and very… very active.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Felicity laughed, taking a sip of her drink.

“It’s good to see you here, you know.”

Grinning, Felicity tilted her head. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this but… it’s actually good to see you here, too.”

“I knew you’d miss me and my charming ways.”

The smile she was wearing slipped off her face as she nodded pensively. “I’m sorry I didn’t stay in touch. I just-”

“It’s OK. I… I probably wouldn’t have been great company either, you know,” Tommy reassured her, shaking his head.

“No, but really. I know you tried to reach out, my mom told me but… you just reminded me of him way too much.”

“I figured… I just knew that not many people were aware of your relationship with Oliver and that you must have been quite isolated. I would have been a shitty best friend if I hadn’t tried to be there for you.”

Felicity pinched her lips, holding onto her glass. She could see hints of sadness in his eyes, could hear how his voice dropped when he mentioned Oliver’s name and she realized she had made the right decision. Keeping in touch with him would have only kept on reminding her of their common loss.

“I appreciated it. I really did but it took me a while to…”

“To sort out your thoughts?” Tommy finished her sentence.

“... Yes. I guess you could say it that way.”

“It’s OK,” he reassured her once more. “Have you settled back into Starling? You’ve been back for a couple of months now, right?”

“Yes. Almost four months already and so far, things have been going great.”

“Thea loves working at Palmer Tech, you know. I can’t exactly say Moira was very pleased with that, but it’s definitely benefiting her greatly.”

“Well…” Felicity bit her lower lip, checking no one could actually eavesdrop and misinterpret her words. “Thea didn’t want to work for QC. She was very… decided about that. I just offered her another solution. Who knows if in the end, it won’t persuade her that the business world is indeed for her?”

“It’s hard to deal with the parental expectations, sometimes,” Tommy agreed, his eyes glancing to her left. Turning around discreetly, she saw his father and remembered how their relationship had been difficult. Apparently, it hadn’t really changed.

Felicity didn’t have the time to answer that before they got called to the table and she was relieved to see herself seated between Tommy and Thea.

“It feels so weird to see how far you’ve come since the last time I saw you, Felicity,” Alfred, one of the board members of QC, said loudly as their eggs benedict were being served.

She smiled politely, unsure if it was meant as a genuine compliment or as a condescending remark. “Well, it has been three years indeed.”

“I know, I know. Just imagine my surprise when I started to hear about you. Hard to reconcile the successful vice-president of a booming company with the little assistant I had met. Although we always knew you were a smart, dedicated employee.”

“Well, I, for one, always knew Queen Consolidated would regret letting her go. It seems she proved me right in only three years, so thank you for that,” Walter chimed in, raising his glass at her.

She smiled gratefully, his intervention efficiently keeping her from putting Alfred back in his place. Little assistant, little assistant,... I’ll show you little assistant.

“All patriarchal speeches aside,” Tommy stated smoothly, making her bite back a smile, “I have to agree. I still remember the first time I met you in Oliver’s office and in retrospect, I should have known back then.”

“Please, I was underneath his desk,” Felicity snorted, cutting a piece of ham. She paused when she realized an awkward silence had welcomed her words. “Oh… no, not like that. I was just taking care of Oliver’s cable, don't worry!” Blushing, she replayed the words in her head, biting the inside of her cheek. “For his computer, I mean. He… he wasn’t even there,” she added with as much dignity as she could. 

“Felicity went to MIT,” Thea chirped, her voice slightly higher than usual. “Computers are her thing.”

A few chuckles erupted around the table and soon enough everybody started to talk with their neighbors. Thea was muffling her giggle in her napkin, while Tommy leaned in to whisper in Felicity’s ear.

“Well… that puts things in a very different perspective.”

“Shut up.”

“I mean, all I’m saying is-”

“That Tommy Merlyn will soon be known for his aptitude for poetry if he doesn’t shut up.”

“... That… that is kinda low, you know,” he muttered indignantly, his fingers reaching for his collar as if he was having a hard time breathing. 

“I know,” she grinned innocently, before biting into a small piece of biscuit. “Would you rather sort this out with a toilet brush?”

He glared at her, but she could see the ghost of a smile playing on his lips. He obviously remembered the scene quite clearly, despite how hungover he had been that morning in Vegas.

After that, the brunch continued without any more innuendos or freudian slips. She found herself having a better time than she had first thought, but her two companions were probably the sole reason for that. She did notice some stiff vibes coming from Thea and Moira’s interactions, but nothing that could be seen as abnormal between a teenager and her mother. 

 

By the time their last course was being cleaned off of the table, she still had no clue how to approach Moira Queen alone. Truth be told, she wasn’t so sure anymore that her plan was a good idea to begin with.

In the end, it was Thea who made the decision for her when she asked her mother to show Felicity the rose gardens in their last blooming.

It turned out that Moira Queen was quite a connoisseur of gardening, much more than Felicity had expected. They were almost reaching the end of the garden, and about to go back, and she still hadn’t found a way to approach the topic that had been bothering her for months now. Apparently, the gods were with her because Moira offered for her to sit on a bench, asking to know about Thea’s internship. Her question was devoid of any resentment, and she seemed genuinely curious and caring. Felicity quickly reassured her that she was more than satisfied with her work, and that she had no doubt Thea would be just as appreciated in her new service.

“That is good to know. I really hope that after this year, she finally accepts her responsibilities. I wasn’t pleased when she told me about that internship but since it’s a done thing, I would very much rather focus on the positive outcome.”

Felicity nervously pushed back a strand of hair behind her ear, noticing right away the undertone of bitterness in Moira’s voice. She was more than civil and respectful but it was clear she hadn’t approved of Thea’s decision at first… and probably of Felicity’s offer. Yet, Thea was an adult and it had been more than positive for her, so Felicity couldn’t really bring herself to feel bad about it. It just didn’t make it very easy for her to move the topic on to something even more potentially conflicting.

“Although, there is something I wanted to talk to you about concerning Thea,” Felicity eventually said, knowing this might be a now or never kind of situation.

“Yes?” Moira answered, a concerned frown on her face.

“It’s not just about her you know, it’s just that… she told me she had a hard time accepting Oliver’s death. Especially after Robert died so abruptly too.”

Moira pinched her lips, her eyes wandering to the opposite bench. “I know it hasn’t been easy for her. Losing her father, then her brother in such short time. But she got over it and she is much better now.”

“Well… yes, she is. But she still has questions without answers and I’m afraid it’s not healthy for her.”

“We all still have questions. But sometimes in life you have to accept the fact that you will not get any answer.”

“Is it really one of those cases? Because from what I know, there hasn’t been a lot of investigation concerning Oliver’s death.”

“Well, the Chinese government didn’t feel like pursuing the investigation as often happens in similar situations.”

“Isn’t that why you had hired a private agency?” Felicity asked, holding her breath.

“Yes, but their conclusions were the same as the ones we had been given by the authorities.”

“Really? They stopped the searches after a few weeks, how could their conclusions be significant if they barely had more time than the Chinese officials?”

Moira turned her head slowly until she was facing her again. “I wasn’t aware this was public knowledge.”

“It is not… not really. But people talk,” Felicity lied, hoping her poker face had improved over the years.

“There was nothing they could have found that would have made Oliver’s death easier to accept. It seemed like a waste of time.”

Felicity’s eyes widened. “Thea wasn’t accepting his death at all during all those years and-”

“Thea was behaving like any teenager. She had her moments of trouble, yes, but I don’t believe it had anything to do with Oliver’s death.”

“She told me it did. And even if not for Thea, why would you assure the public everything was done for a proper investigation when no one was actually investigating anything?”

“I don’t know what you’re suggesting, Miss Smoak, but I do not appreciate it,” Moira hissed. Felicity winced, understanding right away that Moira’s choice of calling her ‘Miss Smoak’ was definitely not innocent. But she was too far gone now, and couldn’t bring herself to stop.

“I… I am not suggesting anything, just wondering if you found something that you were not able to share with the world?” Felicity asked, her voice lowering. “About Oliver or… Robert?”

“So now you also have an interest in my husband’s death?” Moira asked, standing up.

“No. But Oliver told me that night… before the boat went missing. He told me that he had found a letter and that…” Felicity trailed off when she saw Moira’s shoulder stiffening, a flicker of nervousness crossing her eyes.

“What letter?”

“I… I don’t know. He just told me that his dad had done… things, or said things and that he wasn’t the man Oliver thought he was.”

Moira let out a small sigh, that Felicity was ready to bet was of relief. “Robert had made a lot of mistakes, as you’re… very aware yourself. I don’t know half of them, to be honest, and I’m sure most of them would have shaken Oliver. But… this has nothing to do with his death and…”

“And…?”

“Since you really wanted to know, we found the Gambit’s wreckage. That is why we stopped the investigation. Nothing out of the ordinary has been discovered but we decided it was best to keep it quiet, out of respect for the families who had lost someone. We wanted to respect their wishes. Officially, all their loved ones were lost at sea and it’s better if it stays that way.”

“What do you mean… officially? Some died in another way? … Oliver?” Felicity asked in a breath, her heart beating wildly.

“We only found one body of a crew member and they were… highly intoxicated. Now we do not know if that person was in charge of the boat when it sank or not, and we saw no reason to bring any more pain to their family. What is done, is done. It won’t bring my son back.”

“But… surely you can see that all those catastrophes happened in a short amount of time? And then stopped miraculously after Oliver died! Maybe he found something about his father and-”

“Miss Smoak. I understand that losing Oliver has been hard on you as well. But the only thing you’ll manage to achieve is to hurt yourself even more. You have to let go and stop digging up the past. It’s not good for you and he wouldn’t want that,” Moira said, her voice still tense. “Not to mention, I’d very much rather you didn’t fill my daughter’s head with silly theories.”

“Well, it’s hard for me to know what he would want or not… except for one thing: he wanted to tell me about his father. It must have been important.”

“Whatever Robert did, it’s in the past now. You care about Thea, I’ve seen it. Do you really want to taint the memories of her father?”

“... No. Of course, not,” Felicity murmured, folding her arms.

“Trust me. It’s better, for everybody, to let the past rest. It won’t do you any good to keep searching for answers,” Moira told her sternly, squeezing her arm firmly. “As the mother of Oliver, I am demanding that you stop.”

Felicity winced, because apparently the matriarch had quite the grip, but nodded nonetheless, sensing this conversation was going nowhere.

“Good,” Moira smiled, releasing her. “I would also ask you to keep your relationship with my daughter as professional as possible. She is finally in a better place, I won’t accept anyone ruining that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to attend my other guests. I believe you know the way out?”

Without waiting for an answer, she left, leaving a slightly fuming Felicity behind. Unsurprisingly, things hadn’t gone very well… but she hadn’t expected Moira to use Thea’s improvement against her, knowing she had been the one to listen to the young woman and offer her help. How could she be pleased about the change in her daughter’s behavior and blame Felicity for trying to help her in the first place? That was uncalled for, and completely unfair. She knew, from Tommy’s words, that Moira hadn’t been pleased with Thea’s decision, and a part of her wasn’t surprised about that. She could still remember Oliver’s tantrum when she had decided to leave QC herself, after all. But at the beginning of their conversation, Moira had seemed grateful and conscious of how positive the change had been for her daughter. And then, flash forward to five minutes later, she was politely asked to leave. Moira had changed, that was obvious. She wasn’t the gentle, understanding woman Felicity had met three years ago. Felicity knew that grief could really draw out the worst in people, but she would have never thought it would be the case for Moira Queen.

It was only when she was back in her car that she cooled down, replaying the scene much more calmly. There had been a tension in Moira’s voice. It wasn’t just concern over Thea... There was something more at play. What exactly, she didn’t know. Was it fear for her late husband’s reputation? Moira had tensed when Felicity had mentioned that letter. For some reason, Felicity felt like this was the key. Unfortunately, that letter was now probably destroyed.

Unless… unless it had been found with the Gambit. Who knew where Oliver had stored it afterwards. The chances were more than slim but… it was possible. And if Felicity’s instincts were right, and that all events were linked, that letter was probably the one thing that could lead her to the truth.

 

The first thing she did on Monday was to get an appointment with the private agency that Moira had hired. She was ready to finance another round of searches if necessary, or at least get some indication of what they had found. But she found herself facing a wall. After pretending they had no idea what she was talking about, they eventually confirmed that the Gambit had been found and retrieved and was now stored in a highly secured place. She could see in the face of the employee who had answered her that he knew he had said too much, and he then completely shut her out.

It didn’t matter. She had enough information. If the Gambit was stored somewhere, that meant someone was either paying a rent or had bought a storage space big enough to hide a boat. That meant there were money trails.


Felicity loved money trails more than anything in the world. They could never hide from her.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

Oliver released his hold, the body dropping at his feet. The sound of applause that welcomed the motion echoed loudly in the silent room. His chest heaving, Oliver turned around, rolling his eyes when he saw Anatoli slow-clapping theatrically.

“Another one, really?”

Oliver smirked. These new recruits of yours are not the fastest learners, I’m afraid.”

As the young man he had just strangled started to come back to his senses, Oliver handed him a bottle of water, then grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat of his face. “But don’t worry, no one has died. Yet.”

“That is reassuring,” Anatoli grinned as he patted him on the back.

“What can I do for you?” Oliver asked as they both observed the three young men Oliver had been training making their way back to what they called the locker room. In reality, it was just a small room in the damp basement. They were in an old, shabby gym where athletes of the SU used to train. The place had been mostly abandoned in the 90’s, until the Bratva had claimed the neighborhood. Then it had become one of their unofficial training centers. Suffice it to say, what they were taught inside those walls had very little to do with pommel horses or parallel bars.

“Can’t I visit my friend?” Anatoli asked innocently once they were finally alone in the room.

Chuckling, Oliver shook his head. “Come on. We both know you only put me in charge of the recruits’ training because I don’t like to mingle with others. You wouldn’t come here if you didn’t have a good reason.”

“I do have a good reason. But it doesn’t concern me.”

“What do you mean?” Oliver asked as they both sat down on a bench.

“I believe your little Juliet is in trouble.”

Oliver frowned, confused. Juliet? He knew no Juliet and wasn’t even seeing any woman. What would cause Anatoli to…

He paled, snapping his head. “Felicity?”

“Mmhhmhh,” Anatoli answered, picking up a pack of mentos from his inside pocket. He presented it to Oliver who shook his head, before popping one in his mouth.

“What do you mean she’s in trouble? What happened? Is it her work? Did… did someone hurt her?”

If that asshole Palmer hurt her, he’s going down.

“Nothing so far. You’re lucky. The ones who are after her contacted the branch in Starling to… give her a message.”

… What could the Bratva have to do with Felicity?

“And they told you, because…?”

“Because I ordered them to keep me informed about anything that could concern one of your loved ones, Oliver. You know me. Deep down, I have a mushy heart.”

“It must be a mistake. Felicity is a businesswoman, and knowing her like I do, she doesn’t hang out with… the kind of people involved with the mobs.”

“She doesn’t hang out with them. But it seems she’s been digging up things she shouldn’t. Mostly about a certain boat sinking and the death of your father.”

“... what?” Oliver breathed. People were after her because she was questioning his death? But… why? It had been three years, what had raised her suspicions? And most importantly… “Who? Who is after her?”

“That I do not know. That’s how my men managed to earn a few days, unwilling to deal with someone they didn’t know. But they might ask the Italians or the Chinese. Or one of our guys could go rogue again and take the contract. In short, I’m afraid she doesn’t have much time.”

“What do they want to do to her?” Oliver gritted through his teeth.

“Deliver a warning and… make sure she learns her lesson. Not kill her, though. It would apparently be too suspicious.” Anatoli sighed, reaching inside his jacket. Oliver took the small envelope he was handing him and, his fingers not as steady as they usually were, opened it. Inside were six pictures, all of Felicity. Leaving her building, entering Palmer Tech, sitting at a café with-

He paused, a lump forming in his throat. Thea. She was having a meal with Thea. Both women were smiling, obviously comfortable with each other. He could see a badge around Thea’s neck that looked similar to the one Felicity was wearing. His sister worked for Palmer Tech, he realized, raising his eyebrows. How did that even happen? And since when were they friends? He felt his heart swell as he looked at them, a longing growing in his chest. Oh, how much he wanted to be with them. His arm over Felicity’s shoulders, teasing Thea. The two of them probably stealing his fries up to the point where he’d barely get any. They had had the same habit that, no matter how irritating it had been, he had always found endearing for some reason.

He eventually forced his eyes away from the picture, looking at the last one, in what seemed like a garage, Felicity on the phone and opening the trunk of her car. She was smiling, her hair hanging freely around her face and he felt such a deep, violent surge of pure rage that he had to put the pictures down. Someone wanted to hurt her. Someone wanted to send a criminal after her who would do God knows what to get their message across.

He was up before he even had the time to realize it, throwing his towel on the floor. No one would hurt her. No one would ever hurt her as long as he was breathing.

He was already at the door when Anatoli’s voice echoed at his back. “Your plane will be ready to leave in two hours.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"Start A Riot"

I will march down an empty street like a ship into the storm
No surrender, no retreat
I will tear down every wall
Just to keep you warm
Just to bring you home
I will burn this city down for a diamond in the dust
I will keep you safe and sound when there's no one left to trust
Will you take my hand?
We can make our stand

If your world falls apart
I'd start a riot
If night falls in your heart
I'd light the fire
In the dark, when you sound the alarm
We'll find each other's arms
For your love, all you are
I'd start a riot

I will wade through the fire and smoke like sunlight through the haze
I will fight till the flag waves white until my dying days
Through the bombs and blasts
We will take it back

If your world falls apart
I'd start a riot
If night falls in your heart
I'd light the fire
In the dark, when you sound the alarm
We'll find each other's arms
For your love, all you are
I'd start a riot

I'd start, I'd start a riot
I'd start, I'd start a riot
I'd start, I'd start a riot
I'd start, I'd start a riot

If your world falls apart
I'd start a riot

 

It was 6PM when he eventually landed at a small private airport not far away from Starling. Thanks to time zones, he had gone around the clock and back in time. He had used one of the Bratva jets to get to Mexico, then another private, much smaller plane to discreetly take him as close as possible to Starling City. He didn’t waste any time, throwing his bag on the backseat of the car that was waiting for him, and made his way to his hometown. His hair was longer, he was sporting a decent beard, and with a cap on, he knew he would just make himself invisible.

He had spent the flight researching everything he could find about Felicity, something he had always forbidden himself. To say that he was proud of her was an understatement. His girl was shining, like she had always been destined to. He had also checked his sister’s Facebook, once again regretting she didn’t keep the page private, and had found out she had started an internship for Palmer Tech almost four months ago, right around the time he had gone back to the US for his “mission”. Also right around the time Felicity had come back from her two years on the East Coast and he knew it probably was no coincidence. The question was why had Thea decided to work at PT instead of Queen Consolidated? Knowing his mother like he did, she probably hadn’t been pleased. Was it a teenage rebellion thing? Remembering his own teenage rebellion, he couldn’t deny he was more than relieved to see his sister hadn’t followed in his footsteps.

He didn’t waste any time once he reached Starling. His first destination was a small, dingy garage, the place where Anatoli’s tip had come from. He learned a bit more there. A man had gotten in touch through one of their usual contacts, offering $10,000,for the job. They had been given very few details, apart from her name, her address, her car’s license number and where she worked. The pictures Oliver had received had been taken by the same contact, and the only other instruction had been to not kill her or cause any irreparable damage… which had done exactly nothing to calm his rage. Alexi Leonov, the man in charge in Starling, confirmed they had tried to gain some time, but he hadn’t heard from his contact again, leading him to believe they had found someone else to do the job. His suspicion was that it was someone from their own ranks that had accepted the contract. After sharing the traditional shot of vodka, Oliver left, en route to Felicity’s apartment. It wasn’t night time yet, but it was way past the usual office hours and he was relieved to see her car parked on the curb. He couldn’t help but check if Palmer’s car was there as well but unless he had changed in the meantime, there was no trace of the man.

Oliver knew the Bratva’s usual MO. They wouldn’t attack her in her home, at least not when there were other options. An apartment meant neighbours, meant way too many potential witnesses. They’d first try to get to their victim where it would seem the most random. On their way to or from work, following them after a drink with friends, on their way to the grocery store or during their morning run. 

Although, knowing Felicity and her infamous love of sports, he probably could cross morning run from the list. He parked his car two streets away, near a small, abandoned shop. The place was discreet, quiet, close enough to her building so he could patrol, yet far enough so he wouldn’t attract attention. He smirked when he opened the trunk, lifting the false bottom. Everything he might need was there. Guns. Knives. Small electronic devices, phone, rope. He quickly grabbed a few things, then put the rest back. Going through narrow streets, he checked the perimeter, noticing a few changes in the past three years. Her neighborhood had been friendly and warm when he had left, but now it seemed much less welcoming. He could see more abandoned buildings, more homeless people, a few groups of teenagers hanging around. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood, but clearly it wasn’t what it used to be anymore. He winced, uncomfortable with the idea that this was where she lived, wondering why the hell, with the salary of a VP, she hadn’t moved out.

He went to check her name on the doorbell, confirming she was still living in the very same apartment, then went to grab a sandwich to eat. It was still too early for him to be able to do anything anyway and he hadn’t noticed anything suspicious. He waited until it was past 11PM, and every window was dark, to make his move. She lived on the second floor, in the back of the building where there was an old fire escape that led to her bedroom. Climbing took a few seconds at most, the only problem he had was getting rid of an obese cat that eyed him with clear disdain when he forced it out of his way. Once he was by her bedroom, he took a second to notice that she kept her windows closed, as well as her curtains. There was a very small ray of light he could see, meaning she was still probably reading. At least she was being careful and keeping the windows closed. Picking up a small knife from his pocket, he quickly carved a small Bratva star on the wall next to her window. It would warn anyone who’d try to get to her that she was under the protection of the Bratva - or that she was one of their contacts. Either way, it was a warning. Fishing inside his pocket, he pulled out a small amplifier device, pressing it tightly against the window. All he wanted to do was check if she really was inside and hopefully the little sound device would be enough. It took him a few seconds to be able to focus on the quiet noises, and he almost smiled when he suddenly heard a muffled curse that was unmistakably hers.

"Ugh! Damn it!”

For one second, he closed his eyes, savoring the sound of her voice. He had heard her laugh from afar that night, four months ago, but hadn’t heard her voice in three years. Three long years, and even hearing her curse was soothing his soul. He could see her behind his closed eyes so perfectly, her hair probably up in a messy bun on the top of her head, her glasses on her nose, biting her lips over whatever problem she couldn’t find a solution for. He eventually had to force himself to move, trying to extinguish the craving. She was right there, on the other side of that window. He could just tap the glass, and she’d see him.

No. She wouldn’t see him. She would see a man with long hair trying to break inside her home.

Gulping, he stored the amplifier back in his pocket, making sure to leave no trace of himself. The last thing he did was place another tiny device, no bigger than a chip, against the window. It would send him an alarm if it detected a movement.

Going down took him even less time, earning him a scratch from the now pissed-off cat who had been disrupted twice from its spot between two pots of hydrangea.

“Damn you,” Oliver hissed at the pet as he eventually left. The back of her building was secured.

He crashed down in his car, exhaustion finally taking over now that he knew she was safely home. He still didn’t really have a plan, only knowing he’d have to convince her to stop whatever she was doing. But… not as Oliver. He’d make sure everyone knew that going after Felicity Smoak would end badly, and warn her that she had attracted the attention of the wrong people. It wasn’t Oliver she needed right now, it was the man who could protect her.

After a few hours of rest, he made his way to a small motel just outside the city. He took a quick shower and stored all his equipment. He had given his phone number to Alexi, but he doubted he’d get anything from him. Despite being Bratva, and from a much higher rank, Oliver was a stranger to him. His loyalty would first go to his own men.

 

He spent the day following her, feeling like a creep. He hated the way he was stalking her, hated the way he was forced to witness her living her life, carefree, unaware of the danger she was in. He hated even more having to stay hidden, in the shadows, while there was this pull that was leading him to her. How he had missed her. How easy it would be to walk into her office, cap off, and tell her he was there, and fine. Maybe she’d even let him take her in his arms, feel her soft body against his, her hair brushing his chin. Maybe she wouldn’t be afraid of how cold his eyes had become. But the idea of having to wear a mask, pretend to be the same man who had gone missing three years ago was beyond his strength. And he knew that he would never be able to share with anyone what he had become, would never be able to live with himself if anything was to happen to her because of him.

He didn’t deserve her anyway. He probably never had and it was better that way. He’d go back to Russia once she was safe, go back to that life he hadn’t wanted, go back to where there was no second chance.

He knew now, for sure, that whoever had sunk the Gambit was still alive, out there, still on the lookout. Felicity wouldn’t be in danger if she wasn’t close to discovering something. It only convinced him once more that he had made the right decision. Had he come back, he would have been targeted right away and once they would have realized he wasn’t easy to put down, they would have gone after his loved ones. They would have gone after Thea, Felicity, his mother. He couldn’t let that happen.

And Oliver was a damaged, broken man, whose place wasn’t in the high society anymore. He didn’t want her to see what he had become. He didn’t want anyone to see what he had become.

 

As he was guarding the entrance of her building that night, safely hidden in his car with a thermos of coffee for company, he almost choked when he saw her surreptitiously walking out of her building around midnight, completely dressed in black. He narrowed his eyes, his mind coming up with the memory of the last time he had seen her in that very same outfit. It was when she had broken into the warehouse holding his family’s archives. Whatever she was up to… it wasn’t good.

“You stubborn, stubborn woman,” he grumbled as he waited until she had started her car to follow her. Where the hell was she even going and what had gone through her mind to go out alone, in the middle of the night? Had she gotten even more headstrong with the years?

… Knowing her, she probably has.

Tailing someone in the middle of the night was easier said than done. There wasn’t a lot of traffic and it was much easier to be spotted. Fortunately, Oliver knew the city very well and had also become very good at this kind of exercise.

“Where the fuck are you going,” he muttered under his breath as she drove into the Glades. She eventually stopped her car, parking on the curb. He kept on driving, keeping an eye on her from the rearview mirror, then turned around a corner and parked his car, quickly putting on his balaclava. Picking up a couple of guns, he swiftly made it out of the car, his steps carrying him to her. He saw a flash of blonde hair disappear down a narrow street and he picked up the pace, thinking that she’d deserve a good spanking for being so reckless.

A good spanking followed by a good-

He stopped his thoughts right then, shaking his head. He knew being around her was enough to mess with his head, but this might have been a new low. His girl was in danger, alone in a very unsafe neighborhood and he was picturing her bent over a bed. He had been celibate for too long and seeing her everyday was clearly affecting his ability to focus. He hadn’t allowed himself to be distracted in at least two years.

As he followed her, he realized she was walking the length of a warehouse that didn’t look quite as old as the rest of the neighborhood, and he slowed his steps, not wanting to be seen. Instead, he climbed up, preferring a higher position as usual. The building wasn’t high, but he’d still get a better view of his surroundings from up there. Once on the roof, he laid down on his stomach, observing her. She had found a small entrance on his right, and was busy on her tablet. The small light was showcasing her blonde hair - which she wore in pigtails he realized, his mouth twitching. Only his Felicity would go on a dangerous mission wearing pigtails. She had a balaclava on, though, so at least she was being cautious. Why did she even own a balaclava, now that was a mystery. While she was occupied, he dug into one of his pockets, finding his small pair of night vision binoculars. He could see everything was quiet around them, barely a movement, and he shifted his attention back to her, once again wondering what exactly she was doing here.

He felt a sudden shiver on the back of his neck, his instincts tingling in warning. His eyes wandered around the perimeter, at first seeing nothing until a tiny movement attracted his attention. There, in the shadow behind a dumpster, were two silhouettes. They were apparently coming from where he and Felicity had arrived themselves and he froze for one second, praying it was just a coincidence. He had been careful, checking that no one was following them but… what if this had been a trap for her? Maybe they had been there before they had even arrived. As quietly as possible, Oliver stood up, making his way across the roof until he could go down discreetly. He was forced to step away from Felicity and lose visual contact but it was the only way for him to go down from his position without being seen. He was just going around the corner, adding a silencer to his gun, when her small cry reached him, making his heart skip a beat. Peeking out, he saw she was backed against a wall, her hands raised, rambling something that was too low for him to understand to the two men facing her. Both men had their backs to him, and Felicity probably couldn’t see him either from her position. Quietly, his steps as light as possible, he made his way to them, noticing right away that only one man had a firearm. After all, to them, Felicity was an easy target. He heard perfectly what the armed man said to his accomplice and it made his blood boil. Rage took over his body, running through his veins and he let it take over. They saw her as a prey.

Too bad you’re gonna have to go through me first. And I am no prey.

Felicity’s scream echoed loudly when the man dropped on the ground, a bullet in the head. He saw, from the corner of his eye, the way her hands covered her mouth to stifle the sound, and how her gaze was glued to the corpse of the man who had threatened her.

His companion turned around, reaching inside his jacket, but he didn’t have the time to grab his weapon. Oliver pounced on him, the loud noise of his skull cracking against the ground utterly satisfying. Oliver’s fist landed on his face, once, twice, breaking his nose and splitting his lower lip open. He stood up then, grabbed him by the jacket and threw him against the wall. Panting, not with exhaustion but with pure unadulterated wrath, Oliver punched him in the stomach until the guy couldn’t stand up anymore. His hand around his neck, he forced him up again until he could meet his eyes.

“Please,” the man begged, blood bubbling from his mouth. Oliver knew he hadn’t hit him hard enough to cause damage, but enough to quench his thirst for revenge.

“I am letting you live,” Oliver gritted through his teeth, lowering his voice and making it much more growly than it normally was. “And you’re gonna go to your boss, or whoever hired you, and tell them that she got the message. Do you understand?”

“They… they’re gonna check and if-”

Oliver growled, tightening the hold he had on his throat until the man started to choke. Emphasizing every word, he repeated, “Felicity Smoak is off limits.”

Leaning in, Oliver whispered, “Or I’ll put a contract out on your head myself and it won’t be pretty.”

Struggling to breathe, the man nodded, his hands scrambling over Oliver’s arm.

“Is there anyone else after her?”

The man shook his head, struggling to speak. “No… not that I know of,” he squeaked.

After one last squeeze around his throat to send his message across, Oliver finally let him go. The man took a few gulps of breath, then didn’t waste any time, limping away as quickly as he could.

Oliver took a few calming breaths, sensing Felicity still behind him. She was at least ten feet away from him and he knew she couldn’t have heard what he had said. She was probably in shock but he still had one thing to do.

Finally, he turned over, and took a few steps toward her, raising his hands to make her understand he wouldn’t harm her. She was holding her small messenger bag protectively against her chest, her eyes wide. Her chest was rising up and down, frozen to her spot. Thankfully, between the darkness of the night and his ski mask, he knew that she couldn’t see anything apart from his silhouette.

Oliver kept his voice down, so deep that it barely sounded human. “You have to stop. You are messing with the wrong people and you will find nothing. I won’t be there to -”

He was so focused on not scaring her that he didn’t even notice her hand moving and pointing the taser to his torso. He groaned in pain when it hit him square on the chest and he bent forward, squeezing his eyes shut to ignore the burn.

“I’m not gonna hurt-”

A blinding pain erupted from his temple - where she had just clocked him with her taser.

God damn it, Felicity.

He heard her steps as she ran away and he forced himself to follow her, trying to catch his breath. He saw her get in her car, start the engine and speed through the streets. He didn’t follow her, knowing she’d be safe for now, but went to his car and left as well, going back to his motel. He took a long shower, his ribs aching. His head wasn’t bleeding, despite the strength with which she had hit him. He changed into new clothes then went to check if she had made it home safely. The way those guys had found her was way too suspicious. Either it was a trap, which he actually doubted - Felicity was nothing if not smart. Or she had been followed, which he deemed improbable. The last possibility was a tracker. As he got out of his car, ignoring the slight pinch of pain in his ribs, he spotted her sedan right away on the other side of the street. He jogged there, checking his surroundings, then kneeled down, his hand searching underneath the car. He finally found what he was looking for behind the back tire. He considered destroying it but then thought better of it and went to put it underneath his own ride. If someone else was after her… they’d find him.

Circling the building, he noticed right away that there was light in her living room. He quickly climbed up, checked to see if the small chip was still securely in place and, after hearing her mumbling to herself through the small opening in the window of her living room, he left, reassured. He’d have to stay around for a little while to make sure no one else was after her, but he was already more at ease. He didn’t doubt his message would be delivered.

 

The next few days followed the same routine. Felicity didn’t leave her building the whole weekend, which didn’t surprise him, with the close call she had had on Friday.

On Monday, he was surprised to see Dig accompanying her out of the building. Had she told him about her close encounter? Oliver doubted Diggle would have been fine knowing she was out in the middle of the night, but maybe he hadn’t known her plans before-hand? They were in the middle of an animated discussion, keeping their voices down, and Oliver laid down on the backseat, thankful once again for the tinted windows that kept him safely hidden.

“Felicity, this is serious. You can’t go out in the middle of the night, next time you won’t be that lucky.”

“I know. Believe me, Dig, I know. There is just this other warehouse I have to check-”

Diggle held his head in his hands. “No. You need to stop. That dude, whoever he was, told you to stop looking. You won’t find anything, Felicity. Oliver is gone. The only thing certain is that you’re annoying the wrong crowd. From what Oliver told you, it seems like Robert Queen might have been involved in some murky business and believe me, that’s not the kind of people you want to mess with.”

“But… I can’t just do nothing, John. I… I can’t. I’ll be more discreet. Also maybe you could teach me how to use a gun? I mean, I think I did quite well with the taser-”

Oliver couldn’t help but smirk proudly as his fingers probed the small bump he still had on his forehead. You did quite well, indeed. His girl had never been a damsel in distress, after all.

“Yes. I’m all good with teaching you how to defend yourself. But not so you can go all Jack Bauer in the Glades. Listen, I have contacts, I’ll try to dig up some stuff, try to find out who the guy who died was. It could give us some info but… you keep a low profile. You told me the men wanted to deliver a message but got interrupted, so the good news was that they probably didn’t want to kill you.”

“I shouldn’t have gone to the private agency,” Felicity said so quietly that Oliver barely heard her. “Someone must have warned them that I wanted to take a look at what they had found.”

“Yes, that wasn’t…” Diggle muttered something Oliver couldn’t make out.

A car sped by next to them, and Oliver couldn’t hear the rest of their conversation as they parted ways, each going to their cars. He stayed hidden until each had pulled off, Diggle apparently following her to work. It was only when they were out of sight that he slipped to the front seat again, his mind buzzing. He had listened to every word they had exchanged, storing every bit of information he could, and now was time for a debriefing.

So Felicity had taken it as her personal mission to undercover what had been going on with the Queen family three years ago. What Dig had said, about Robert probably being into some shady stuff, made him think that Felicity might have told him about that last Skype session, where he had mentioned the letter Robert had written. She was assembling the pieces, realizing that there were too many coincidences.

And she wasn’t planning to stop.

He sighed, dropping his head back on his seat, then decided it was better to go get some sleep. Diggle was driving her to Palmer Tech and she’d be at her office all day. He had a few hours to rest and come up with a new plan.

 

 

A three-hour nap and a shower later, he was pacing in his room, his hand fidgeting with his cellphone. He eventually made up his mind, and as he knew he didn’t have to wait long before the familiar voice answered.

“My favorite American. I was expecting your call,” Anatoli greeted him right away.

“Really?”

“Well, yes, especially since one of our brothers was found executed two days ago. His partner told us of a man taking them down. American accent.”

“... I didn’t exactly have a choice,” Oliver murmured, sitting down on his bed. He’d deal with the consequences of his actions later. He had killed a member of the brotherhood and he knew he would have to pay the price for that.

“Well, lucky you, they had both gone rogue. All bets are off when you don’t follow direct orders. Just be more… cautious next time.”

At least one thing he wouldn’t have to worry about.

“I’ll try to,” Oliver answered. “Did you find more info about who put that contract on her head? Alexi doesn’t seem… fond of me.”

Anatoli laughed. “You are a stranger to him. He doesn’t trust you. But no. We found nothing more. They probably hired the brothers you already took care of and we haven’t heard anything else. All we know is that it was a man, american accent.”

“... That helps,” Oliver dryly said. Not to mention, he strongly doubted whoever had gotten in touch with the Russian mob was the real culprit he was looking for. They probably had used a messenger.

“Well, the good news is your message got delivered. Our man said he had a phone number to contact. He did it, the number got disconnected right afterwards. I’m surprised you didn’t check yourself.”

“I was going to. I was going to follow the guy but then..."

Then I got tased and clocked and Felicity was running away and I just had to make sure she was alright.

“It was a dead-end anyway. One of those… burner phones.”

“Of course.” Just his luck. He’d have to check that agency Felicity had mentioned. Apparently that’s where the mole had been. “Could you ask Alexi to look into which private agency was in charge of recovering the Gambit? I’d ask him myself but he probably won’t do it.”

“I will. Why do you need that?”

Oliver sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Felicity… she’s not stopping. I warned her, told her she had to stop but…”

“But she’s a stubborn one, isn’t she?” Anatoli chuckled. “The good ones are always stubborn.”

“She’s gonna get herself killed, Anatoli. I can’t be behind her 24/7.”

“Maybe try to scare her? For her own good, of course.”

“She got attacked by two men, one got a bullet in the head, the other got beaten and I thought she had spent the weekend locking herself in her apartment shaking in fear but apparently it only made things worse. Now she knows for sure there is something going on. Scaring her won’t work.”

There was a silence on the line, so long that Oliver thought Anatoli had hung up.

He eventually heard a deep sigh. “Do you think there is a chance you might find out who is behind all of this before she gets more involved?”

“I have about zero leads. Neither does she apparently, she’s just looking everywhere. I can hope I’ll find them before they find her but-”

“But that’s a big risk to take, isn’t it?”

Oliver exhaled slowly through his nose. The risk was way too big. He wouldn’t play russian roulette with her life.

He didn’t answer, but then again, he didn’t have to.

“You have to accept it, Oliver. If that girl loved you half as much as you love her… she’ll never stop.”

“I don’t know what to do,” Oliver admitted quietly.

“I think you do. There is only one way to make sure she stops looking for answers.”

Oliver’s index finger drummed against the cellphone as he closed his eyes.

“How am I going to tell her that…” Oliver huffed out a bitter laugh. “How am I going to tell her anything, actually?”

“You’ll find a way. You’re very good at keeping secrets, Oliver.”

“Not from her…” he whispered. Felicity had always read him like an open book. He was quite confident he’d be able to fool almost anyone around him except for her.

“Once again, you know the solution.”

Sighing, Oliver ended the call. He had been looking for help, but the only thing Anatoli had been able to do was confirm him what he had thought deep down. He couldn’t afford to hesitate any longer.

 

As he laid down on his back, staring at the ceiling, Oliver let his mind wander back to the past three years. He had killed. Tortured. Had made enemies. He had been played, used, manipulated, betrayed until the point where he knew he could only count on himself - and, in some measure, Anatoli. At least for now. He wasn’t fool enough to believe in undying loyalty with anyone from a brotherhood like the Bratva. Oliver was unfit to go back to the world of living, that much he knew. His nights were haunted by so many faces that he barely ever slept.

He could still remember that one night when he had gotten hammered, right after the end of his initiation in the Bratva. The recruits that had made it out alive had been taken to a bar and Oliver had drowned himself in alcohol, trying not to think about the blood that was still on his clothes. He had passed out, only to be waken up by a hand on his arm. He hadn’t thought, just reacted, and the next thing he knew, he had both hands around the neck of a young woman who had been there to “entertain” the guests. It had taken three men to make him loosen his grip, unable to realize she wasn’t a threat.

The girl was still a teenager. And he had almost killed her with his bare hands.

He would have to wear a mask, he knew it. Everyday, constantly. Would have to slip back into the life of a socialite. Stay as far as possible from the ones who knew him well. Make sure he was the only one targeted. Because he would be, he had no doubt about that. All he had to do was take them down before they got to him. And make sure no one got caught in the crossfire.

Especially not the love of his life.
Felicity. She had been with Palmer the last time he had checked. He hadn’t seen any mention of that in his searches, but he knew she was very private when it came to her personal life so it didn’t mean much. He’d have to reassure her. Tell her it was OK she had moved on, that he was happy for her, even if he still felt like dying every time he thought about them together. He would also have to make up some lie about the letter from his father, so she could really put the Queen family behind her. Get back to her life, focus on what really mattered. He knew how she was when there was a mystery, he had witnessed it first hand with Isabel. But once Oliver was back, he'd tell her to let go. That would be his gift for her.

 

Chapter Text

"Unchained Melody"

Whoa, my love
My darling
I've hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh, "Wait for me, wait for me
I'll be coming home, wait for me"

Whoa, my love
My darling
I've hungered, hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

 

 

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” Felicity panted as she ran to her car. Not stopping, she jumped behind the wheel and started the engine, leaving the Glades behind her as fast and as safely as she could.

She forced herself to focus on traffic, which thankfully was more than light since it was the middle of the night. It was only when she had parked her car in front of her building that she realized she still had her ski mask on. She took it off, grabbed her bags and rushed to her apartment, relief flooding her when she was finally inside her safe haven. She locked the door, switching off the alarm that Dig had forced her to install a few weeks ago, then made her way to the kitchen, her legs wobbly. Grabbing a glass, she opened a bottle of tequila and poured herself a generous amount. She gulped the glass down, slamming it back down on the counter. Her heart was still beating wildly, the image of the man who had dropped dead at her feet dancing in front of her eyes.

So, OK, he had been threatening her with… things she’d rather not think about ever again. And OK he was pointing a gun at her. But still. She had never seen anyone die before and… she really hoped it would be her one and only experience in that field.

It took her another shot of tequila and half a pint of ice-cream to finally get a grip on herself. She sat down at her dining table, replaying every detail of her night. She had found out that Jones and Lewis, the private agency hired by Moira Queen, had bought two warehouses six months after the Gambit went down. At first, it had been hard for Felicity to trace any money back to the Queen family but she had eventually found an offshore account often linked to the Deardens. Said account had transferred half a million dollars to another account, based in Switzerland. The money had been diverted several times but had eventually arrived in Jones and Lewis' bank account. It had confirmed her suspicions that those two warehouses, or at least one of them, could be linked to the Gambit and maybe the wreckage was still kept there.

Unfortunately, her first attempt had been quite the failure. She hadn’t thought there might be guards… if the two thugs could be classified as guards. Well, two or three. Because the third one sure as hell didn’t seem like a choirboy. She didn’t know if she had stepped into a turf war between two gangs or if…

She froze, her spoon inches away from her mouth. When she had seen ski-mask dude - for lack of better word - pouncing on the second guy, then turning to her, she had reacted on instinct, sure he was coming after her as well. So she had tased him. Then clocked him because she liked to be thorough. But now that she had calmed down, she could actually remember his words. He had told her to stop looking, and that she wouldn’t find answers.

How did he know what she was doing there? Who was he? Was he on her side? Or maybe he was searching for answers himself? She hadn’t heard what he had told the guy who had wanted to attack her, but from the few words he had… growled to her, she had recognized a clear American accent, not Russian, unlike the other two.

She pinched her lips, dropping the spoon back in the tub, feeling guilty all of a sudden. He had raised his hands reassuringly and yet she still had attacked him.

… Maybe he was a cop. Maybe he had infiltrated an organization.

“Oh no. What if I assaulted a cop?” she exclaimed, her eyes wide.

Yet, even if it was indeed a police officer… it still didn’t answer how on earth he knew why she was there.

 

In the end, she stayed up all night, way too fidgety to go to sleep. She waited until it was 8AM, then went to Dig’s apartment. To say he wasn’t pleased with her midnight adventures was putting it mildly. She had to sit down while he lectured her, pacing in his living room, and it really felt like she was seven years-old again. He had eventually asked her to wait for him in his apartment while he was running an errand. One hour later, he was back, carrying a bag. He had checked her place, making sure there were no hidden cameras or mic. Fortunately, there was nothing.

“You should stay inside this weekend. And for the love of God, don’t do anything reckless. Do you want me to stay over?” Dig asked as he came back after having checked her car as well.

“No. I should be fine. I have the alarm anyway,” Felicity answered, yawning. Now that she felt safe, the adrenaline rush was fading, leaving her exhausted. 

“Alright. I’m just a phone call away, OK? I’ll go buy some groceries for you, do you need anything special or just the usual?”

“If by usual you mean coffee and ice-cream, then no I don’t need anything special,” she smiled tiredly.

As soon as Dig left, she locked the door, and went straight for a shower. She barely took the time to grab an oversized T-shirt, one that Oliver had left behind, before falling down on her bed. She was asleep in less than a minute.

 

She didn’t spend her weekend cleaning up the mess that was her living room. There were papers everywhere, as well as a giant board where she had added every piece of evidence she had found concerning the death of Robert and Oliver during these past four months. Which… wasn’t much. Everything had sped up after her talk with Moira Queen, but she still had found nothing that could really prove anything.

She had all those pieces of information but she couldn’t assemble them to get a clearer picture. Couldn’t find how they fit. And that was so ironic. It was a giant puzzle.

Diggle had offered to follow her to and from work until they were sure no one was really after her, and she couldn’t deny she felt safer. Yet, her close call hadn’t been enough to convince her to stop. Quite the contrary, it had only confirmed that something more had been at play in Robert's and Oliver’s deaths. But she had learned her lesson, and wasn’t planning on another night mission any time soon.

Her week was tense, to say the least. She was nervous, fidgety, despite Diggle’s reassuring presence every time she had to leave her place or work. Her nights were short, filled with nightmares and she often woke up after a few hours of sleep, gasping, a sheen of sweat covering her body. She couldn’t remember exactly what her dreams were made of, but the man who had saved her was always there. The way he had held out his hands in reassurance was haunting her for some reason. She dreamed a lot of Oliver, too and it convinced her to step away from her searches at least until after she'd gotten proper nights of sleep again. Dig was right. She couldn’t let herself be consumed by what had happened three years ago.

The anniversary of his death was fast approaching and that wasn’t helping. It felt like she was seeing him everywhere, constantly feeling his presence in her everyday life. She was missing him, so much, with an intensity she hadn’t felt in a while. She missed his arms around her, the way his hand felt in hers, the scruff on his jaws underneath her fingertips. She missed his laugh and his smile, the way he always held her close at night. But he was gone now, and she had accepted that. Yet, for some reason, she was feeling closer to him than she had in a long time.

She woke up very early the following Saturday, shaken out of her sleep, reaching out for him in the dark room. Unable to fall back asleep, she did some much needed house-cleaning, before heading to the farmer’s market. It was a beautiful September day, the sun was bright and the air was clean and crisp, foreshadowing the fact that fall would arrive by the end of the month.

She bought a small basket of strawberries - the last ones of the year according to the merchant, as well as a nice bouquet of flowers to spruce up her living room a little. One quick stop at a bakery for some freshly baked croissants and a latte, and she was already back home. 

With her windows wide open, she ate her breakfast leisurely, munching on strawberries and playing crosswords, promising herself she would spend the day away from anything work related - whether it was PT or her own personal investigations.

“Now, come on, movie with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, in five letters,” she snorted, rolling her eyes at the simplicity of the question. “Even if I hadn’t watched that movie a gazillion times, I’d know the answer.”

She quickly scribbled down Ghost in the correct spaces, still shaking her head. She hadn’t watched that movie in years, but could still remember the ugly sobbing that always took over when Molly could finally see Sam again. It didn’t take long at all for her to finish the crosswords and eventually settle down on her couch with a nice cup of tea and a book. A real, physical book where she could turn pages. It had been ridiculously long since she had last held a book in her hands and she felt a bit ashamed of herself, realizing Dig had been right in many ways. She had a slightly obsessive personality, which could be good in terms of achievements, but also terribly unhealthy.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

She sighed happily, a small smile stretching her lips when the familiar words welcomed her back. Then frowned when a knock on the door kept her from reading more. She was about to ignore whoever it was, when they insisted, louder, and a glance at her phone told her Dig was trying to call her as well. Pinching her lips, she put the book down, walking slowly towards her door. She hadn’t forgotten about her close encounter and John’s warning words were still ringing in her head. A small look through the peep hole and she exhaled slowly in relief.

“Dig, I’m sorry, I was just about to read a-”, she welcomed him as she opened the door wide, but stopped herself once she saw how… unusually not-Dig he looked. He was obviously fidgety, avoiding her eyes. “Are you alright? Is there something wrong?”

“No. Can we sit down?” he said as he passed by her, already heading to her dining table.

“OK… but you’re kinda scaring me so please just rip off the band-aid,” she gulped as she sat down next to him.

Dig looked at her, obviously hesitating but eventually took a deep breath. “They found Oliver.”

She stared at him for a few seconds, trying to make sense of his words. Then she felt her throat constricting, her eyes burning as she pinched her lips as hard as she could. Oliver was dead. So if Dig was telling the truth, that meant…

“... They found his body?” she eventually asked in a strangled voice. The wound that had started to heal so slowly ripped open violently, and it almost felt as if someone was squeezing her heart inside their fist. She had made her peace, painfully, with the fact that he would never be brought back home. He belonged to the sea now and he was far, far away from her. She had accepted that. But knowing he could get a proper burial, a grave, a place where he would rest for eternity and that would be close to her…

Dig’s hands on her shoulders eventually snapped her out of it. “No!” he shouted and she startled, realizing he had been trying to get her attention. “Oliver is not dead, Felicity. He was found alive.”

Blinking, she replayed the words in her head. Oliver is not dead. He was found alive. Oliver is not dead. He was found alive.

“Wh… what? How?” she eventually whispered. How could Oliver be alive after three years? How could someone survive in the ocean for three years? It was impossible. It didn’t make sense.

“I don’t know much. Just had a call. He was found on an island by a Russian boat. They reached Long Beach yesterday, he is at the hospital right now.”

“No,” Felicity shook her head. “Dig, it doesn’t make sense. Oliver is dead and suddenly a boat finds him and he makes it to Long Beach and… how can we know it’s him? We hear stories like that all the time of people impersonating…”

“Why do you think no one thought of that yet? They checked his identity. Mrs Queen went to see him right away yesterday. He is being checked over at the hospital right now. Tommy Merlyn asked me to let you know and to drive you there.”

There was a buzzing in her ears that was making it hard for her to understand his words. All she could think about was that it wasn’t possible and that she could not let herself hope that it was him. The pain would be too brutal, she wouldn’t survive it. She wouldn’t survive losing him twice.

She mentally wrapped herself in a cocoon and obediently put her shoes on while Dig closed the windows. It dawned on her suddenly that she might have to move out. She might have to leave Starling behind, and for good this time, because being pulled back so violently into the same kind of denial that she had had when Ray had told her about Oliver’s death was already causing damages. She could feel it in the way her hands were shaking, in the way hope, that sneaky, cruel emotion, was digging its way inside her heart and she could not afford to lose herself to hope.

Dig guided her to his car and she knew he was talking to her but despite her best efforts she couldn’t concentrate on his words. She wanted to turn around and go back to her couch, go back to her bed where she could dream of him, where the pain was familiar.

A gentle hand forced her face sideways, until she could meet Dig’s eyes. Only then did she realize they were in a parking garage.

“Felicity. I wouldn’t have come to you if they hadn’t been sure.”

Dig’s stare was soft, patient, full of joy. In the end that’s what made her let go of that fear that was protecting her and she nodded, opening her door. She followed him until they came to a private corridor, passing several bodyguards that she recognized from her days at Queen Consolidated. One of them took them to a small hallway, where she saw a familiar silhouette pacing.

“Felicity,” Tommy greeted her with a bright smile. He was disheveled, as if he had ruffled his hair way too many times, and his eyes were red, with dark circles underneath. He looked exhausted and tremendously happy and she felt her heart fluttering.

“Tommy,” she whispered, her throat too tight for her to speak normally. “Is it… is he…?”

“He’s with Moira and Thea right now. It’s him. I had a hard time believing it but it’s him. They checked his fingerprints and all that jazz.” Tommy grinned reassuringly, his hands resting on her shoulders.

“How is he? Is he alright?” Dig asked from behind her while she was still struggling to form words. She wanted to believe them, she wanted to believe them so badly but was terrified, absolutely terrified of the dark hole that would swallow her alive if they were wrong.

“... He looks fine. But the doctors warned us… there has to be some effects or consequences and… I mean, he’s not going to be exactly the same. Social skills might be rusty and… we need to respect personal spaces and boundaries more than ever until he settles back and is comfortable with his surroundings again.”

“But he is OK physically?” Dig asked again, resting his hand on her back. She didn’t know if it was to show his support or because she was swaying. Actually she wasn’t even sure she was swaying, the room seemed to be spinning  but for some reason, Tommy’s face was still firmly in front of her, his eyes now concerned.

“Felicity? Do you… do you want to sit down?” he eventually asked, his voice low and soft.

She shook her head, because she wasn’t sure she’d have the strength to get up again if she sat down. “Oliver… Oliver is alive? My Oliver?”

She had to make sure. She had to hear the words again, make sure she hadn’t misunderstood.

Tommy frowned, throwing a glance at Dig. “Yes. I… damn he really knows you well. Oliver told me you’d probably have a hard time and… it’s OK, Felicity. I promise you, I swear to you, it’s him.” He let go of her shoulders, then dug up a small plastic bag from the pocket of his jacket. “He had this with him. He told me you’d recognize it.”

At first, she couldn’t see what he was holding. It was in a small zipper bag, an old, outdated, brownish red piece of… she didn’t really know what it was and she blinked, realizing her vision was blurry because of the tears. Taking the bag between her hands she turned it around, until she could finally recognize the object.

Her lungs started to burn, her throat impossibly tight as the memory flashed in front of her eyes. A tourist trap in Vegas, that stupid, stupid puzzle he had wanted to buy and the small red pen she had gotten him in return. The same pen he had promised to put on the keychain of his car.  The car that he had driven to that damn, cursed boat three years ago. She gasped then, the air finally flowing into her lungs as sobs started to tear through her throat.

Oliver. Oliver was alive.

She was almost struggling to breathe through the tears, of joy and relief but also of pain, because she was reminded so vividly of that day when she had been told he’d never come back.

“Shhhh… it’s OK,” Tommy whispered as he took a step forward, hugging her. She clung to his shirt, trying to calm the tears down but it was as if a dam had been opened. Her heart, the one that had barely started to heal, the one that had cried for him so much, was opening itself again, already welcoming him back in her life, her love for him as intense and deep as the day he had waved goodbye to her. It was like she had been living the last three years in black and white and someone had suddenly switched on the colors.

She eventually managed to get a grip, her breathing calming down after a few hiccups, and she took a step back, wiping her tears.

Tommy flashed her a smile, handing her a handkerchief and she couldn’t help but giggle, the gesture oh so very him.

“I can’t believe you’re even prepared for this kind of situation,” she sniffled.

“I’m prepared for anything when it comes to beautiful ladies.”

“Thank you,” she said as she took off her glasses and patted her cheeks dry.

“Anytime,” Tommy winked at her, pressing her arm. “So… do you think you’re ready to go inside?”

Felicity drew a shaky breath, her hands twisting the handkerchief. “I look like a mess, don’t I?” She hadn’t changed when Dig had picked her up, and was wearing a pair of faded jeans and an old, overused MIT shirt. Her hair was in a ponytail that had probably seen better days and she was wearing no makeup. Although, considering the waterworks, it was probably better that way.

“I don’t think he’ll care. You’re still more beautiful than him, anyway.”

She smiled, her eyes looking for Dig who was now sitting on a chair by the door. He nodded his head reassuringly and his calm, collected presence soothed her nerves.

Taking a deep breath, she turned to Tommy. “Yes. I’m… I’m ready.”

 

***

“Walter is going to handle everything with the press, so you don’t have to… worry about anything.”

Oliver nodded, still absorbed by the view from the window. He was in a hospital room, in Starling General, waiting for the doctors to officially discharge him. He knew he was in good health, but officially he had been rescued from an island and that induced a lot of medical check-ups. And a lot of questions he hadn’t been willing to answer, much to everyone’s frustration. Anatoli’s plan had gone smoothly. Oliver had driven all the way to Los Angeles, and only had to wait three days until a boat - with a very understanding crew, obviously - had reached the harbour of Long Beach. Then it had been quite easy. Stopping at a police station, getting in touch with his mother, getting his fingerprints and so on. It was only because Moira had insisted for him to be checked at the hospital in Starling that he was still stuck in that room.

It was… weird to be there. Officially, that is. He didn’t exactly know how he felt. Probably happy but his mind was set on things that left little room for emotions. He had spent the last few days coming up with a plan and was hell bent on finding whoever had been responsible for his father’s death, as well as the death of the crew of the Gambit. And Andrew. Oliver pushed back the now familiar feeling of guilt that always came up whenever he thought about Andrew Backstone, and he knew he’d have to reach out to his family. But one thing at a time. He first had to deal with his own family and he wasn’t sure it was going to be as easy as he had thought. Thea had asked questions, so had Moira, about how it was, how he had survived, but he had shut them down. Thankfully, the doctors had taken over, explaining that at first it wouldn’t be easy for him to share his experience and that it was perfectly normal. Unfortunately, that explanation wouldn’t hold in the long run and all Oliver could hope was that they’d grow tired of his non-answers.

Tommy had been his usual self. He had seen him barely an hour ago, and it had been easier with him. He hadn’t asked questions, just been happy to have his best friend back and Oliver hadn’t had the heart to tell him that his best friend was long gone. He had put a fake smile on his face, listening to his friend’s rambling while having only one person on his mind.

Felicity.

Where was she? He had been adamant about keeping his distance, promising himself he’d do anything to make sure she’d stay far away from him but now that he was back… it wasn’t so easy anymore. He wanted to see her, just once, wanted to be close enough to see the freckles on her nose, close enough to breathe her in. Then, then he’d tell her he understood. It had been three years, she had moved on and it was all for the best.

That was his plan. 

But when the door opened, when he saw a flash of blond hair and her hesitant smile… he forgot about everything else. He didn’t even hear Thea, just saw her pulling their mother outside, giving them a bit of privacy and closing the door behind her.

Felicity was twisting something between her hands, her eyes never leaving his face.

“Hi,” she eventually said, her voice hoarse and trembling. Only then did he see how red her eyes were, and the tension in her body.

“Felicity,” he answered softly, still glued to his place. They were barely five feet away from each other, but for some reason he couldn’t close the gap, not trusting himself.

Her chin trembled when she heard him call her name and she bit her lips so hard he was afraid she would draw blood. She blinked several times, took a step forward but then stopped, her eyes hesitant. He understood right away that she was holding back and when he saw the tear that escaped her eye, he was unable to stay away from her. He closed the gap between them in two short steps, his hand already reaching out for a strand of hair that had escaped from what was left of her ponytail.

“I’m sorry,” she muttered, wiping her cheek before he had the chance to do it himself. He wanted to wipe that tear, he wanted to kiss it away so badly that it hurt but he knew he didn’t have the right to do that anymore. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, letting her familiar green apple scent invade his sense. He had missed it. He had missed it so much. He sensed a movement and he reopened his eyes, seeing the struggle on her face as her palm was hovering over his chest. She was hesitant, and it took him a few seconds to understand that she wanted to touch him but didn’t dare to.

He gently took her hand in his and she raised her head in surprise when he stroked her knuckles. Her hand was so tiny, so fragile compared to his, the skin as soft as in his memories. He slowly put her hand across his chest, making her understand that it was fine and he felt a lump in his throat when she automatically went to cover his heart. She didn’t move her hand, just let it rest for what seemed like several minutes but he didn’t mind, oh no he didn’t mind one bit, his entire body craving her touch with an intensity that was almost blinding him. It felt so warm, despite the fabric of his shirt between their skins, and the tingle was still there, the innocent touch awakening little sparks of joy on a body that had only felt pain and loneliness for the past three years.

She eventually raised her head, a question in her eyes and he nodded, not sure he understood what she meant but also knowing there was nothing he’d ever be able to deny her. Her fingers danced across his chin, grazing the stubble of his jaw. He had shaved and cut his hair the previous night, forcing himself back in Oliver Queen’s shoes and it was only in that moment, with her thumb stroking his cheek, that he remembered that it was his body too. She smiled then, a tiny moan escaping her lips as if the gesture meant as much to her as it did to him.

His heart fluttered, soaring with an emotion he didn’t recognize right away. Hope. The feelings he had for her had been saved in a small box in a corner of his heart, and it was as if they had suddenly found the key, because they invaded him brutally, all at once and he was unable to hold them back. Even if had wanted to, he would have never been able to stop his arms from circling her waist, lightly, giving her plenty of time to move away from him if she wanted to.

She didn’t, and he saw her shoulders relaxing visibly as if staying away had been just as hard for her. She hesitantly rested her cheek against his chest, right above his heart, her eyes closing and he noticed that she synced her breathing with the beat. Gulping, he took her in, the way her glasses were slightly askew and probably biting uncomfortably in her flesh, but she didn’t seem to care. Her face was makeup free and the corner of his lips twitched when he saw the freckles on her nose, dying to kiss every single one of them. Instinctively, his arms tightened around her and he suddenly realized how small she seemed in his embrace, her entire body trembling. She was holding his shirt in her fists, bundling the fabric and it almost scared him how much he craved her own arms around him. He needed to feel her hands on his back, holding him close to her.

And he knew, he knew he couldn’t let things go any further than that, he knew he had to keep his distance from her because his life was about to become even more dangerous than before but he couldn’t, for the life of him, he couldn’t move away from her.

“It’s OK,” he murmured, lowering his face until he could nuzzle her hair. He breathed in deeply, a small moan catching in his throat, everything so utterly familiar despite the years apart. She relaxed then, her small arms circling his waist tentatively, finally feeding the desperate hunger he had for her touch. Nothing in his life had ever felt more right than holding her in that moment.

It was like she was snuggling herself underneath his skin, warming up every cell of his body one at a time. He hadn’t lived, he realized. He hadn’t lived during those three years away. He needed her, he needed her warmth, her love and even though he would have to walk away from her, he couldn’t bring himself to keep his distance. Just this one moment, just this one embrace and then he’d let her go, he promised himself. The sole reason he had come back was to attract the danger to himself, and it would be pointless if she was around him.

But please… please… wait for me. I know Palmer is the kind of man you deserve, I know I have nothing to give, but please… wait for me.

They stayed like this for what seemed like forever, yet when they finally broke apart, it was as if it had only lasted mere seconds. He needed more. More time with her, her body against his. His eyes lowered to her lips, craving her kiss, craving the taste of her mouth, and he was cradling her face between his hands, already leaning in when he suddenly remembered why they had broken their embrace.

His mother and his doctor were there, and he gulped, eventually pressing a soft kiss on her forehead, lingering there as long as he could.

Felicity grinned when he eventually let her go, her eyes shining bright, just like he had always remembered them. He gazed at her, his thumbs stroking her cheeks, memorizing the moment, saving it because he knew he would have to settle for that for now. And maybe for the rest of his life.

“Oliver,” his mother eventually coughed, efficiently breaking the spell. “You are good to go but Doctor Foster would like a word, first.”

Felicity sniffled, lightly shaking her head as if she was trying to gather her thoughts and she stepped away, her arms falling from his sides and he had to resist the urge to reach out and pull her back against him. He nonetheless grabbed her hand, meeting her eyes one last time.

“It’s OK,” Felicity mouthed.

No. No it’s not OK. I have so many things to tell you and I don’t want to say them. I just want to stay inside this room a little longer, where no one knows I’m back, where we are both safe, where I can hold you for as long as I want.

“We’ll be taking Oliver back to the mansion, he obviously needs a lot of rest and… familiar surroundings,” Moira smiled at her.

“I understand,” Felicity answered. “I know… I know it can’t be easy. Just, if you need anything or…”

“I’ll call you,” Oliver said. “Tomorrow? Can you come tomorrow?”

He saw the flicker of hurt and sadness in her eyes and he gritted his teeth. He wanted to stay with her, and spend the night in her arms because he knew only she could keep the nightmares at bay. But it wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be safe.

“Sure. Tomorrow is good,” Felicity nodded nonetheless, shivering. He didn’t hesitate, slipping the hoodie off his shoulders, wrapping it around her small frame.

“Oliver, you don’t have any other change of-”

“It’s fine, mom.” He shortly glared at his mother, tilting his head in warning. He saw her eyes widening in surprise and he forced himself to relax his features again. If he couldn’t hold Felicity tonight, and keep her warm and safe in his arms, he at least wanted a little piece of him with her. That’s all he had with him, but it was still something. And tomorrow… tomorrow he’d tell her he had changed too much for them to go back.

Chapter Text

"Homeless"

In this house where I grew up
With cozy chairs and broken cups
Memories piled up to the ceiling
Can they tell what I am feeling?

I know this house outside and in
But three birds fly upon my skin
Lay my head down in the darkness
Like so many nights before this

In this bed where I rest
I'm homeless
This house I know best
But I'm homeless
My hunger it grows
And it won't let me go
And it burns in my chest
I'm homeless

Heavy steps on hardwood floors
Into my room through broken doors
Try to leave this day behind me
But peace will never find me

In this bed where I rest
I'm homeless
This house I know best
But I'm homeless
My hunger it grows
And it won't let me go
And it burns in my chest
I'm homeless

I have a place I can call my own
That's where I go til the night is gone
I travel my mind and into my heart
Nobody knows when I go that far
(Oooooh)

In this bed where I rest
I'm homeless
This house I know best
But I'm homeless
My hunger it grows
And it won't let me go
And it burns in my chest
I'm homeless

 

 

 

 

“I already asked Raisa to make your favorite lasagna, Thea chirped once they were all in the car driving them to the Queen Mansion.

“Thea,” Moira clucked her tongue reproachfully. “The doctors said he needed to try to keep his diet as simple and healthy as possible. I’m not sure rich Italian food is a good idea.”

“It’s fine, mom. I had normal food on the boat,” Oliver murmured, still staring through the window. He could hear his mother and sister quietly arguing, but didn’t want to get involved. he knew he was at the source of their disagreement, but couldn’t bring himself to voice his opinion. Truth be told, he didn’t care. He didn’t care about lasagna or about how his bed had been made this morning.

Home. He was going home. The word had never felt more empty than it did at that moment. Home wasn’t this gigantic house, way too big for one family. Home was a small apartment, with Felicity curled up on the couch. It was a place where he didn’t belong.

He stayed in his room most of the day, standing in front of the window, his eyes travelling from the gardens to the driveway and the gates he could distinguish at its end. It felt beyond weird to be surrounded by so much luxury, after surviving, and then living with the bare necessities. Once he had been in the Bratva, things had gotten better, but his old, tiny apartment in Moscow had still been very basic in terms of comfort. He could have afforded a better place but had never seen the point of it. Thea stopped by, wanted to start a conversation but he sent her away, pretending he needed some rest. He saw the sadness in her eyes, but he had things to do. Coming back had been to put Felicity out of the crossfire, but now that he had shown he was alive, he would be the one targeted. He had to find out who had been after his father, because he was convinced they were the same people who had sabotaged the Gambit. He didn’t have much evidence, just his father’s letter and the small notebook. The notebook that used to only hold blank pages, until he had filled half of it with letters to Felicity during his time on the island.

First things first, he needed a safe place. Somewhere he could store his… special equipment. He had contacts from Anatoli, reliable people who would sell him what he needed. He still had what had been provided with the car when he had made it back to Starling but it clearly wouldn’t be enough. And now… he had a whole trust fund at his disposal.

After a little bit of research, he found what he was looking for. An old QC steel factory in the Glades, abandoned two years ago. It still belonged to his family, was isolated and big enough for him to secure a room or a basement. Yes. The place would be perfect.

 

When he was eventually called for dinner, he quietly made his way downstairs, knowing this time he probably wouldn’t be able to avoid questions. He was surprised to see Walter with them. He had found out his mother had remarried, and after a small moment of disbelief, had realized it wasn’t as shocking as he had first thought. Oliver knew very well his parents' marriage had been rocky for years and even though his mother had mourned his father deeply, the romantic foundation of their relationship had long been gone. All in all, he was happy she had found someone to share her life with in the person of Walter. From what Oliver had seen, Walter was also a good father figure for Thea and had always been a loyal friend of the family. And he was someone who could be trusted, according to his father’s last words.

“The press conference has been handled, Oliver,” Walter told him as soon as he was seated. “Our attorney will stop by on Monday, to explain the legal procedure in order for you to regain access to your rights as Oliver Queen. It should be done in a matter of days, really.”

“Thank you,” Oliver nodded as he took a small sip of water.

“We think you should also stop by QC on Monday. It’s probably the best if you jump right back into it,” his mother chimed in.

Oliver frowned, putting his glass down on the table. He hadn’t expected that. He hadn’t even considered the fact that people might want him to be in charge of anything concerning the family business. He had just gotten back from a deserted island - at least that was the official version -, how could they expect him to be in any form or shape able to handle these kind of responsibilities?

Walter seemed to sense his hesitation. “Of course, we don’t think you’re ready to get back to your position right away. You would be monitored and helped until you’re up to date.”

“I didn’t even consider going back to Queen Consolidated at all. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Not to mention, I have bigger fish to fry.

“Oliver, it’s your legacy. I can’t have one child working for the competition and the other ignoring his responsibilities.”

Thea coughed, lowering her head and Oliver sighed, understanding the battle would be much harder than he had first thought.

“From what I know, Thea is an intern, who hasn’t even picked what she wants to do for a living. I hardly see this as a betrayal, more as someone mature enough to want to work for her own place. And I just spent three years away, mom. How can you expect people to take me seriously as an executive?”

“It’s your name on the top of that-”

“No, it’s not,” Oliver cut his mother off. “It’s dad’s name. And right now, I just can’t see how you could consider it a good idea to have me working there. I’m not even sure I still know how to sign my own name.”

Moira pinched her lips while Walter pressed her hand reassuringly. “Maybe we should all take a few days before talking about what is best for QC. There is no rush, after all.”

“The Doctor said that getting back to a routine would be a good idea,” Moira stated, her eyes travelling from Thea to Oliver. “And now that Oliver is back, hopefully it will be the end of those silly ideas that the company is cursed and your sister will finally accept her responsibilities as well.”

“I love working for Palmer Tech,” Thea protested loudly.

“Please. You’re just an intern, it’s not as if you’re irreplaceable.”

Thea stared at her mother, a deeply pained expression in her face. Oliver was about to talk when his mother sighed.

“I’m sorry, Thea. That is not what I meant. I know you’re doing a great job there, my point was mostly that at QC you’d have opportunities and you would be properly trained for a real position of leadership.”

“Thea is eighteen, mom. It took me quite a while to find my way, so I would appreciate it if you could cut her some slack. You saw what too many expectations did to me. It obviously doesn’t work.”

“Neither does letting you go on with your life, Oliver.”

Oliver stared at his mother, sensing that she wouldn’t back down. She had hardened over the years, that was for sure. She was much harsher, with him and Thea, for a reason he couldn’t comprehend. He was an adult, he could take it. His little sister had just finished high school and he could see Moira was about to repeat the same mistakes. Too much pressure, too many expectations. He had thought she had learned better, and he could still remember how their relationship had evolved in the few months following Robert’s death. Maybe losing her son had made her more protective, more possessive in a way. He knew she only wanted the best for her children, but right now, what Thea needed was some trust and to be able to find out what she really wanted to do with her life, freely.

“Listen, this is really not how I envisioned this meal,” Moira sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Walter is right. There is no rush at the moment. We’ll talk about it another day once everything settles down a little.”

Oliver’s lips spread into a small, tense smile as they resumed their meal, this time in silence. As soon as he was finished, he put his napkin on the table and stood up, unable to take it any longer. He was used to silence, craved it even, but not this kind of artificial blankness. It was almost as if he could feel the room getting smaller, the walls closing on him. He needed space.

“Ollie, there’s still dessert,” Thea frowned as Raisa started to clear the table.

“I’m not hungry anymore, Speedy.”

“But…”

“I said I’m not hungry,” Oliver snapped. He closed his eyes in regret when he saw his sister cowering. He hadn’t meant to be mean, but he just couldn’t stay there a moment longer, where everyone was looking at him with expectations, wanting him to fit back into the place he had vacated three years ago. It wasn’t possible and the sooner they understood that, the better. “I’ll be in my room.”

Caught off guard by his unusual harsh tone, Raisa dropped a spoon on the floor, muttering a slight curse. Oliver leaned down, picking it up for her.

“That was my fault. I’m sorry,” he told her, putting the spoon back on the pile of plates she was carrying.

He was pushing his chair back under the table when he noticed the surprise on everyone’s faces. Locking his jaw, he realized Raisa had spoken in Russian. And he had automatically answered her in Russian as well.

Shaking his head, he pretended he didn’t see the way Thea was about to ask a question, and walked out of the room without any other word. He wasn’t in the mood for an explanation, or another lie. He barely glanced at his surroundings as he made his way back to his room. Every little thing he could see was just another reminder of how he didn’t fit in anymore. He was an alien in his own home and it was hard for him to pretend otherwise. All that wealth… where did it come from? How many people, how many families had suffered so his father could get richer and richer? In the past three years, surviving had been his priority and he hadn’t had that much time to think about the letter his father had written - apart from his initial desire for revenge. Now, though, after living in simple conditions, he was surrounded by such luxury that it made him uncomfortable, a constant reminder that most people out there weren’t that lucky.

As soon as he was in his bedroom, he opened the windows wide. He needed some air, even if it was starting to rain. It would clear his head, the sound soothing and comforting. He felt slightly guilty, the way he had left the dining room and answered Thea, harsher than he had planned to. Truth be told, he hadn’t expected having such a hard time readjusting to life as Oliver Queen. And it was only the first day.

Sitting down on the floor, his back against his bed, he fiddled with the phone Thea had given him. She had made sure Felicity’s number was programmed and even though he was dying to call her, just to hear her voice, he also didn’t trust himself to not beg her to let him come to her place. After several minutes, he sent her a text, asking her if she could come to the mansion the next morning. He knew he’d have to end things, and for good this time. Make her understand it would be pointless to try to rekindle things. Her answer came after merely a few seconds, and he breathed in relief when he saw she’d be there by ten. He had to talk to her here. If he was to go to her apartment, he wasn’t sure he’d have the strength to push her away. Her apartment was only full of wonderful memories, while here at least, he felt more in control.

He stayed on the floor for God knows how long, watching the sun finally setting. He heard someone scratching at his door but didn’t bother reply, even when they tried to open it. He had locked it, out of habit, and wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. What they were looking for was Oliver and Oliver was gone.

Eventually, exhaustion took over and he fell asleep, still on the floor. He woke up in the middle of the night, gasping, on a vision of Thea being strangled, his own hands around her neck. He knew he was remembering that night, more than a year ago, with the poor girl he had attacked in a bar. It only convinced him even more that it was for the best to keep his distance. In the Bratva, he didn’t really care about hurting people. It was actually his job. But here, in Starling… he only had people he loved around him. And it was terrifying to think he might lose control and hurt them without even realizing it… or even worse.

He was up before the dawn, unable to take it any longer. He went for a long run, enjoying the calm before sunrise, the sound of his steps on the damp street oddly reassuring. It wasn’t until his thighs started to burn with the effort that he headed back to the mansion, way after the sun had risen. Catching his breath, he made his way to the side entrance that would take him directly to the kitchen. Raisa was already at work, and the scent of homemade pastries hit his nose as soon as he opened the door. Pulling his shirt up, he wiped the sweat off his face before heading to the fridge.

“Morning, Raisa,” he said as he past her and she smiled, a flicker of surprise in her eyes. She probably had never seen him up so early, especially on a Sunday.

“Good morning, Mister Oliver.”

“Banana bread?” he asked, leaning against the counter and emptying half of his water in one go.

“Your favorite. Don’t worry, there will also be bacon and eggs, just the way you like them.”

“You spoil me too much,” Oliver winked. He didn’t know why, but things were easier with Raisa. Maybe because there was that natural distance, despite the mutual affection.

“Do you want to eat right now? You must be hungry.”

Oliver tilted his head, hesitating. he knew he should do the polite thing and wait for the rest of the family to be awake. Moira Queen had always been adamant concerning meals during the weekend. But he honestly didn’t feel like replaying last night’s dinner. Not to mention, he was much more comfortable here in the kitchen rather than in that big, luxurious dining room.

“I can do it,” he finally said as he started to wash his hands.

“Let me do that for you,” Raisa grinned fondly, with that same look in her eyes she always had when he was a little boy and was sneaking into her kitchen for some treat. “You still like your eggs scrambled?”

“Yup.”

Oliver sat down at the counter, watching the familiar way she was moving around the kitchen. It had been quite a while since someone had cooked for him and it was… almost unnerving to sit there and do nothing. But Raisa wasn’t expecting anything from him and didn’t even try to start a conversation. He eventually relaxed, quietly observing her and finishing his bottle of water.

“Thank you,” he said when she pushed a plate in front of him. She buttered a couple of pieces of toast for him, and he nodded in gratitude when she added a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. He took the time to savor his meal, enjoying the calm of the kitchen, only disturbed by the sounds Raisa was making as she prepared the rest of the food for everyone’s breakfast.

When he was done, he automatically grabbed his plate, heading to the dishwasher.

“I’ll do it, Mister Oliver,” Raisa’s voice interrupted him. He stopped in his tracks, his back still facing her, remembering that, indeed, she was always clearing up after him and everybody else. Since he was already on his way, he still loaded the dishwasher, quickly gulping down the rest of his orange juice. He would have to remember that in the future. He was back into a very privileged life and had to act accordingly.

“I’m expecting a friend, around 10… could you just let her in, tell her I’m in my room? She knows the way,” Oliver asked Raisa as he was about to leave the kitchen, ignoring the pinch in his heart. He remembered quite vividly how Felicity had gotten familiar with the Mansion, the few nights she had spent there and how they had lazily made love, the rush and impatience of the first days finally slowing down. Well… at least a little bit, he smirked as he walked back to his room. They had had quite the marathon, up to the point where he had started to weaken himself, which had been a first for him.

He forced himself to stop thinking about the past as he headed to the bathroom. One long shower later, he was sitting on his bed, watching TV and shaking his head. He was making headlines again and he had been lucky to avoid the reporters that were now waiting by the Mansion’s main entrance. With a deep sigh, he turned the TV off, throwing the remote on the bed as he laid down, his arms crossed behind his head. He eventually dozed off, his body seeking some much-needed rest, until a small knock on his door startled him awake. Instinctively, he reached underneath his pillow, where he always kept a gun, only to find emptiness. It took him a couple of seconds to realize he was at the Mansion and he had no weapon with him. Breathing slowly, he briefly closed his eyes, gathering his thoughts and calming down the beating of his heart. He was in his old bedroom. There was no danger.

The small scratching sound resumed and it eventually made him snap out of it. Checking his alarm clock, he saw that it was a little bit after ten.

Felicity.

He cleared his throat, standing up. “Come in.”

The door opened slowly, almost as if she was hesitant, and he had to physically restrain himself to not rush to her.

“Hi,” she said softly as she closed the door behind her.

“Hi.”

He gulped as he took her in. She was wearing her hair down and he noticed it was shorter. She had probably cut it recently and even though he loved her long locks, he couldn’t deny the new haircut framed her face perfectly. She was wearing a simple pair of dark blue jeans that clung to her curves in the most sinful way and a plain red top, with a bow on her waist.

She was gorgeous, even more than in his memories. There was a strength, a confidence now surrounding her. She was no longer a young woman. She was a woman, short and simple.

He must have stayed silent longer than he thought because she suddenly cleared her throat, twisting her hands. “Hum… Raisa let me in.”

“I asked her to. I’m not exactly… I prefer to stay in here for now.”

She nodded, still obviously unsure of what to do. There was no denying that the situation was awkward. He knew what he wanted to do, what he wanted to say, but he also was aware that he couldn’t act on his desires.

“Are you… are you sure you’re OK with me here? Now? I can come back if you’re not ready or…”

“No,” he cut her off. “Please, no. Sorry. My manners are a bit rusty, I’m afraid.” He eventually moved, walking towards her and she relaxed visibly once she saw him approaching her. He didn’t take her in his arms though, no matter how much he was dying to, but guided her towards the sofa with a gentle hand on her back.

“Listen,”

“This is awkward,” Felicity said at the same time. She huffed out a nervous laugh, adding, “You go first.”

“I… it’s not really easy. Coming back, I mean. It feels like I’m stepping into a whole new world and I just don’t know how to act around people,” he started, meeting her eyes. She was looking at him, biting on her lower lip, her attention completely on him. She smiled then, a small reassuring smile as she tentatively reached out to press his hand. He didn’t pull away and she didn’t move either, her thumb stroking his knuckles. How much he wanted to kiss her palm at that moment, feel her fingers caressing his jaw like she always used to...

“I just want to help you, Oliver. In any way I can. Just tell me how because… because I really don’t know. I spent most of my day researching about this but… there aren’t that many people who… who… Well. And I know that you might not be ready to… to be with me again?”

“I know. Felicity, I… I’m glad you’re mentioning that, actually because...” Oliver trailed off, taking a big breath. There was no easy way to do this. He had to get on with it, rip off the band-aid. “I want you to know that I was very happy with you.”

Felicity narrowed her eyes, probably sensing where he was heading. “I… I was, too…”

“You know, I understand if you… moved on. It’s been three years. It’s OK.”

Never in his life had Oliver been more torn. On the one hand, Felicity moving on would make things so much easier. On the other one… a very selfish part of him wished she hadn’t, wished she was still his girl.

“I… I’m not seeing anyone, Oliver, if that’s what you’re implying.”

How could someone feel so relieved and so ashamed at the same time? He had no right. No right. Had she broken up with Palmer? Had it been a one-night kind of thing? Friends with benefits? Anyway… he was out of the picture. That didn’t make things easier for him, because that meant he would probably have to hurt her. The idea was horrifying to him, but he had no choice. For her own safety, Felicity had to stay away from him. It was the only way.

“Felicity…” he whispered, savoring her name rolling off his tongue.

“What is it, Oliver? You know you can tell me.” Her eyes were full of love and patience, as if they had all the time in the world and he felt so disgusted with himself that he had to lie to her.

“It’s just that…. I’ve missed so much during those three years that I… I don’t feel like getting back into a serious relationship is what I want,” he eventually said, his eyes fixed on a lamp behind her.

“What… what do you mean?” she blinked, moving her hand away. He almost reached out to take it back, desperate for any kind of contact with her.

“Just that… I want to live and have fun again. Out of respect for what we had, I don’t want to treat you the way I did Laurel.”

I would never treat you that way. Never. I’d never cheat on you, Felicity.

“What exactly are you implying, Oliver?”

He forced himself to stay stone-faced at the trembling in her voice. “Life is short, you know. I want to make the most of it before settling down and it feels wrong to lead you on. I miss the parties, I miss tequila, I miss going out with Tommy,... I just want to have fun.”

I want to be with you. So badly. I want us to live together, and get a dog and I want to have a family with you. I want to see you pregnant, feel our child moving underneath my hand. I want to spend the rest of my life by your side. If those three years taught me something it's that I can’t see myself with anybody else but you.

“If… if you need time, Oliver. I understand. I wouldn’t pressure you.”

“You didn’t pressure me. All I know is that… I’m craving freedom more than a relationship,” he huffed out a small laugh, keeping the grin on his face. “I’ve missed so many things, I want to be young again.”

Please, forgive me. All I want is for you to be safe. You’ll never be safe around me.

“So… you’re breaking up with me? Just… just like that?” Felicity straightened her shoulders, a hard look on her face. His girl was strong, he had always known that.

“... Yes. It’s for the best. I would only end up cheating on you, and lying to you. You deserve better, Felicity.”

You always have.

She nodded, folding her lips over her teeth. “I have to admit that this was not the outcome I was expecting.”

“I’m sorry.”

You have no idea how sorry I am. I’m sorry I’m hurting you, I’m sorry I’m lying to you.

Sniffling, she stood up, rubbing her hands on her jean.

“Felicity, I’m sorry I don’t-”

Say it, Oliver. Say it. Say you don’t love her anymore. End this.

But he couldn’t. The words wouldn’t come out.

“Don’t, Oliver. It’s my fault. I spent three years mourning you and… stuck in the past, I guess. You were in a different place, you are in a different place. It’s… it’s not your fault.”

Oh, honey, no. You did nothing wrong. You never did anything wrong.

“I guess… I guess I should go, now. There’s no point in staying any longer. Unless you have something else to say?” she murmured, her eyes fixed behind him. He could see the unshed tears and he had to grit his teeth, reminding himself that it was for the best. Yes, he was hurting her, but at least by pushing her away, he’d keep her safe. And alive.

“Felicity, I’m sorry,” he repeated, taking a step towards her.

“Don’t,” she stopped him, raising a finger in warning.

He raised his hands in defense, showing her he was respecting her wish. He wouldn’t come any closer if she didn’t want to.

“I just have one question.”

“Anything,” he answered.

“Had I not left your side yesterday, would you still be giving the same speech?”

“... Yes.”

No. I would have never had the strength.

She didn’t reply, just tilted her head. He was about to speak, unable to stand the pain in her eyes any longer, ready to drop to his knees and beg for her forgiveness and tell her everything, when she turned around, heading for the door.

With her back still facing him, she whispered, “Just so you know… no matter what just happened… I’m still happy you’re home… and safe,” before leaving the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

I love you.

 

He stayed on the same spot for a long moment, staring at the door she had closed, staring at the last object she had touched before leaving him, already craving her with an intensity that was leaving him breathless. Staying there, in his room, when she was leaving, was harder than he had expected. He was watching his happiness walking away from him, and already the room seemed darker, colder.

She was gone.

He didn’t even realize he had punched a wall and swiped his desk clean, sending all his belongings scattering on the floor. He didn’t even notice the pain in his fist, not until Thea’s shocked face appeared in front of his eyes.

“Ollie… your hand… what happened?”

“Nothing, Speedy. Just… just, go,” he told her, not trusting himself. There was so much hate and rage inside him at that moment, so much bitterness at how his life had turned, so much frustration that he wasn’t sure he could control himself.

“What? No, let me at least help you, you’re bleeding-”

“Thea, go!” he bellowed when he saw her approaching him. She started, a flicker of fear in her eyes. He had never screamed at her. Never.

His shoulders slumped with guilt as he bowed his head in shame. “Just… please, just leave me alone,” he sighed, his voice barely a murmur.

“I just want to help you,” Thea said in a small voice. “Tell me how I can help you, Ollie.”

“Honey, leave your brother alone,” Oliver heard his mother’s voice from the threshold. He didn’t acknowledge her as he sat down on his chair, grabbing a few kleenex to clean his hand. His knuckles were bruised, one had split open. Nothing that would require stitches, but it was still bleeding. He could hear footsteps around the room, then the door quietly closing. He let out a breath of relief, sensing Thea was gone. His mother was still there though and soon enough he was hearing the water running from his bathroom. She came back with a washcloth and some disinfectant. Wordlessly, she took his hand and tended to his wound and he let her, the sudden burst of rage he had felt merely minutes ago already fading away.

Moira wrapped his finger in a small band aid, then gently patted his hand. “I think you should see someone, Oliver.”

“Mom…”

“I mean it. Doctor Foster gave you a list of…”

“No. I just need some air, mom. I’m not used to… these four walls any more. It’s… I need to breathe, that’s all.”

I need some air, and I need to do something instead of waiting here.

“But Oliver… this is your home.”

No. No, it’s not.

 

***

 

Felicity locked her door, deactivating the alarm out of habit. She toed out of her shoes, walked to the couch and snuggled into a corner, wrapping herself in the big fuzzy blanket. So many things had happened in the last 24 hours that she honestly didn’t know how she felt anymore. When she had opened that hospital door, and seen Oliver, standing in front of the window, the sun playing in his hair… the amount of love she had felt had been almost blinding. He was there, right there in front of her and there was nothing she wanted to do more than rush into his arms, but she had remembered Tommy’s words and had forced herself to keep her distance. It couldn’t be easy for him to be suddenly surrounded by so many people and she had more than understood that he would need time to get used to it again. When he had called her name, though… the sound of his voice had warmed her up from head to toe. She had had to dig her nails into the palms of her hands, forcing herself not to move.

But then Moira and Thea had left them alone and the way he had looked at her… with so much love and longing, it had been almost impossible to resist touching him. He had let her, even though she had kept her touch as light as possible, but she needed to feel him, needed to feel his heart underneath her palm, needed to be sure he was there, alive and well. He had changed, she had seen it right away. His face had slightly hardened, his scruff was a bit longer than before, and his face in general had matured. He was even more beautiful than in her memories.

Still, she had hesitated, unsure of what to do, until he had circled her waist, pulling her against him. Then she hadn’t been able to resist, her cheek nestling right above his heart, the steady beat like music to her ears.

Dig had told her they had stayed alone in his room for over thirty minutes. To her, it had felt like a few seconds at most. He was back. Oliver had come home to her.

When Moira had said they needed to leave, the first emotion she had felt was fear. He was leaving. She had just gotten him back and she already had to say goodbye. But she had understood. Oliver needed some rest, and a bit of time with his family.

But she had been mistaken. Oliver hadn’t wanted to let her down in front of everyone, that was all. He didn’t want her anymore.

Sniffling, she reached out to grab a tissue, loudly blowing her nose.

A loud knock on the door startled her, and it was only because she heard Dig calling her name that she went to open it.

She held the door open, going back to her spot, the blanket still tightly around her. She was cold. Inside and out, she was cold.

“I just saw Mrs Branson… she told me she saw you walking up the stairs but didn’t answer her… Felicity, are you OK?”

Dig took the seat next to her, turning to his side to face her. She just shrugged, twisting the tissue between her hands.

“I thought you were supposed to see Oliver… did he cancel?”

“No,” she breathed. “I just got back.”

“Then… what’s wrong?”

“He broke up with me, John. Well, if I can call that breaking up. I mean were we still even a couple? Either way… he doesn’t want me anymore. He says he doesn’t want to lead me on and… he wants to have fun.”

She swallowed, trying to get rid of the giant lump in her throat. “He doesn’t love me anymore.”

Blinking, she accepted the tissues Dig handed her and took off her glasses. She wiped her cheeks, trying to hold back the sobs. “I don’t know why I’m crying because… I’m so happy he is back and safe and in good health. But… but it’s like I’m… I’m losing him again and... and,” she choked, her breathing getting ragged.

Dig scooted closer to her, his big arms circling her shoulders. He let her cry, like he had three years ago, and even though the pain wasn’t the same, it still felt like a piece of her was breaking. She had gotten him back only to have him walk away from her. Willingly.

“I feel so stupid, John,” she eventually said once the hiccups started to die. “I spent three years thinking of this future with him that had been ripped away from me and…”

“Don’t think that way. He just got back, things must be pretty messy in his head right now.”

“He didn’t sound messy. He was calm and… almost emotionless.”

She pulled away, accepting more tissues from him and cleaning her face. He had been so… collected. Almost cold, so unlike the Oliver she knew, so unlike the Oliver who had held her 24 hours ago.

Dig quietly observed her, tilting his head. “You know… I’ve seen a lot of men changed by the war. Some are suffering from PTSD.”

“But Oliver didn’t go to war… and I don’t want to assume that he doesn’t want of me because he has some mental health issues.”

“I saw the way he was holding you in the hospital, Felicity. A man who doesn’t love you wouldn’t cling to you that way for half an hour. What I am saying is that he just got thrown back into a life after being isolated for three years. It would be enough to mess with anybody’s head.”

Felicity frowned, remembering the last question she had asked him. The way he had answered… it really had felt like he was lying to her. At first she had thought it had been denial but now she wasn’t so sure anymore. “I asked him if he would have told me the same thing yesterday, he said yes, but… I always knew when he was lying to me, John and… I don’t know. It felt weird.”

“I would give him a bit of time, if I were you. Don’t give up on him right away. I pushed people away when I came back from Afghanistan as well.”

“Like your brother?”

“Like my wife.”

Felicity froze, her eyes wide, all thoughts of Oliver forgotten for a moment. Wife? Dig had been married?! “Wait… what?” she eventually said, shaking her head to clear her thoughts.

“We divorced six months after I was back. I… I couldn’t seem to be able to get back to the world of the living, in a way. In my head… I was still in Afghanistan.”

“How come I… I had no idea.”

“I usually don’t talk about it. It’s rather pointless. It’s in the past. My point is, I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong anymore and when it happens, you don’t act rationally at all. You’ve waited for him three years… do you think you can wait a little longer?”

Felicity let out a smile, because the answer was obvious. “I haven’t been able to get over him even when I thought he was dead… I think it’s going to take me some time to really be able to move on anyway.”

She didn’t want to wait, and pine for him. She wouldn’t cling on him either. But John was right. Oliver had gone through something extremely traumatic and even if he was making rushed decisions, it didn’t mean she had to do the same. Not to mention, she probably needed a bit of time for herself as well, because she had been through quite the rollercoaster. Even if Oliver didn’t love her anymore, he was still her friend. She had to be there for him, in any possible way.

To cheer her up, Dig took her to Big Belly Burger for a late lunch. She was already feeling a bit better, her meltdown having helped tremendously. She didn’t know if she and Oliver would ever get back together but for now she would rather focus on the fact that he was alive, back in her life. It was enough to bring back a smile to her face.



When Monday came, though, she quickly realized she wasn’t the only one struggling with Oliver’s change of behavior. She had received a text from Thea in the morning, asking if they could grab lunch together. Sensing she must have had a good reason, Felicity had cleared her schedule, telling Thea she could meet her at their usual café.

Felicity was already there when the young woman walked in, and she saw right away that something wasn’t right.

“What’s wrong?” Felicity asked as soon as they had given their orders.

“It’s… it’s Ollie. I don’t know how to talk to him. Mom says I need to leave him alone, he doesn’t talk to me and... I’m worried, Felicity. I know he has changed and it’s normal but… he doesn’t seem in a good place, you know?”

Felicity pinched her lips, nodding. She knew exactly what Thea meant, but also didn’t want to share what Oliver had told her. It was a private matter, after all. “I know. But it must be hard for him, all these people surrounding him, watching him, talking to him… we don’t know what he’s been through during those three years.”

“That’s the thing. Mom asked him to go see a shrink, he doesn’t want to. He… He snapped when you left. I heard a loud noise and when I walked into his room, he had trashed his desk and punched a wall. Did you guys fight? And I mean that with no judgement, at all, but… Ollie has never been like that. He screamed at me and… I got scared.”

“Oh, Thea,” Felicity murmured, squeezing her hand in a gesture of comfort. “Oliver would never hurt you, of that I’m sure. He is struggling, and things that are easy and normal to us are probably much more challenging and frustrating to him.”

“Why was he so mad, though? Was he mad at you? Is that why you didn’t stay?”

“No… no. We just talked and…” Felicity trailed off, watching through the window. “Oliver doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now. It’s his decision. We talked, like adults, and then I left. He wasn’t mad or anything. Are you sure it didn’t happen later? Because I really didn’t stay long.”

“No. I saw you leave from the library’s window, then went to my room. That’s when I heard the rattle. He looked… his hand was bloody and he looked like he wasn’t even feeling anything.”

Felicity remembered her conversation with Dig. He had mentioned sudden bursts of rage, and her heart broke at the idea that Oliver was probably suffering from this situation more than anybody else. He had never been violent. Always charming, teasing. Even when they fought and he raised his voice, she had never felt threatened despite the clear difference in size between them. Yet, she could see that Thea’s encounter with her brother had left her rattled.

“Why don’t you ask him to do something he likes? Something he’s missed doing? Maybe he’ll be more comfortable in different surroundings? He probably needs more than a couple of days. It’s going to be a long process, you’re going to have to be patient.”

We all are.

 

Thea seemed a bit better when they parted ways, at least reassured she wasn’t the only one worried. Once again, Felicity wondered if she really had people to talk to, people who could understand what she was going through. She probably couldn’t talk about this with her friends, but she at least hoped her family was there for her. She could sense that the Queens had this habit of not saying things out loud, something quite usual in those old, rich families, where appearances had to be kept at all costs.


But Felicity was a stranger and despite how much she wanted to help Thea, there was very little she could do if Oliver wanted nothing to do with her. He needed time and she was willing to give him some. As Dig had said… she had waited three years. She could wait a little bit longer. And even if they never got back together, it wouldn’t be right to turn her back on him.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Behind Blue Eyes"


No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
And no one knows
What it's like to be hated
To be fated to telling only lies


But my dreams they aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be
I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

No one knows what its like
To feel these feelings
Like i do, and i blame you!
No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through


Discover l.i.m.p. say it
No one knows what its like
To be mistreated, to be defeated
Behind blue eyes
No one knows how to say
That they're sorry and don't worry
I'm not telling lies


No one knows what its like
To be the bad man, to be the sad man
Behind blue eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Here's your credit cards. Your trust fund has been reopened. Nothing was done with it, since Thea was supposed to inherit it when she turned 25. Your driver's license has been reissued as well.”

Oliver nodded, taking the envelope and quickly checking its contents. His family attorney, Sophia, had done an outstanding job. It was late Tuesday afternoon and after his short hearing at the courthouse the previous day, all he had had to do was sign some papers and the lawyers had taken care of everything for him in less than 24 hours.

Which meant that he was finally able to get out of the house, alone, without a driver or a chaperone.

Anatoli had given him a few names, people who would sell him everything he might need. Guns, knives, ammo, medical necessities, and other things that might come in handy. It was almost dusk when he finally made his way to the steel factory he had found. It was deserted, surrounded by other abandoned buildings. The space was huge and offered a basement that would be perfect for him to conceal his arsenal. Thankfully, he didn’t need much comfort, because the whole place was extremely basic in terms of amenities.

He spent the next couple of days settling in, despite his mother’s insistent questioning. She wasn’t pleased with his repeated long absences and had insisted he could at least show up at Queen Consolidated to get a tour of the company. He knew her secret hope was to eventually convince him to get back to work, and he also knew it wouldn’t happen. Yet, he had agreed, mostly to have the excuse to get near his father’s old office.

He needed more intel about his father. What he had been up to before his death, who he had met. Oliver knew most of Robert’s belongings must have been archived, and he was hoping he could get information from his father’s former secretary. Whoever had killed Robert had also attempted to end his life - and threatened Felicity. This was where he needed to start.

 

When he walked into the dining room that Thursday morning, his plan was to spend the next few hours finding and interrogating the man who had accepted the contract concerning Felicity. Anatoli had told him that he didn’t have much more information but… Oliver wanted to be thorough. Not to mention, he was also quite gifted when it came to making people… remember certain things.

Unfortunately, as soon as he stepped inside the room, he understood his plans would have to change.

“Oliver,” his mother welcomed him with a smile. “Look who decided to keep you company, today.”

“Hi, mom,” Oliver said before nodding to his best friend. “Tommy. Good to see you.”

“Good to see you, too,” Tommy grinned, standing up to give him a quick hug.

“You couldn’t resist Raisa’s cheese omelette, could you?” Oliver asked after dropping a kiss on his mother’s cheek.

“You know me… I’ve always had a soft spot for her cooking,” Tommy said as he grabbed a piece of toast. “And since I haven’t seen you since last Saturday…”

Oliver winced at his words, pouring himself a cup of coffee. “I’m sorry… I’ve just been busy.”

“One would wonder what could keep you busy all day long, since you are currently jobless…” Moira trailed off innocently as she delicately patted her napkin on the corner of her lips.

Sighing, Oliver locked his jaw in frustration. He couldn’t exactly explain to his mother what he was doing all day, and he had hoped for at least a little bit of understanding on her part… to be frank he hadn’t even considered the fact that she’d want him back on track merely a few days after he had been officially rescued from a deserted island.

“Mom…”

“No, no. I was merely teasing you. Don’t forget I will be expecting you at the office around 2PM,” Moira smiled as she stood up.

Leaning back in his chair, Oliver waited until his mother was out of the room before asking, “So… did she call you?”

“Mmhmmh,” Tommy nodded, his mouth full. He quickly swallowed and took a sip of orange juice before adding, “But I am the one who offered to stop by. We could go play tennis or squash just like in the old times?”

Oliver smirked, his eyes traveling to the cup of coffee in his grip. Squash was not exactly what he had planned to do with his hands today but… at least his mother would not pester him later.



**

 

“Jesus Christ,” Tommy panted, leaning heavily with his hands on his knees. “What the fuck was growing on those trees on your island?! Steroids?!”

Oliver smirked as he took a sip of water. And to think he had held back…

“What can I say? There’s nothing like a bit of wilderness and an inhospitable environment to keep you in shape. Want to go another round?”

“Eh?” Tommy shook his head, his eyes wide and horrified. “I’d like to not lose my legs or arms today, if you don’t mind!”

Shoving his water back in his bag, Oliver nodded. He had barely started to break a sweat and truth be told, this kind of working out felt good. Hitting the ball was a way to work out his frustration at… well, at everything if he was honest. His mother, his sister, Felicity, his lack of progress concerning who was behind all these attacks,... there really were a lot of things piling up. He was used to being alone and even though he had to hold back in front of Tommy, it still felt like he was almost… normal again.

“Oh God, I feel like my grandmother after a round of waltzing,” Tommy wailed, his hand supporting his back as they made their way to the lockers room.

“Your grandmother is dead,” Oliver replied, the ghost of a smile twisting the corner of his lips.

“Exactly my point!”

 

Twenty minutes later, Oliver was patiently waiting at the small bar next to the gym with a cold-pressed juice and a Gin and Tonic sitting in front of him.

“Please tell me the green stuff is for you,” Tommy grimaced as he sat down opposite him.

“Yup,” Oliver confirmed as he pushed the cocktail in front of his best friend.

“You know I am weirdly touched by the fact that you remember my favorite drink after a workout but somehow managed to forget how to use a telephone…”

“Tommy…”

“Hey, just saying!”

“... I’m sorry, OK? I’m just not used to having… people around me constantly.” That much was true. Even in the Bratva, he was known to be quite the loner.

“It’s all good, dude. Just… you’re not alone, don’t forget that." Tommy took a long sip of his drink, closing his eyes and clucking his tongue in approval. “Perfect. So what are your plans today?”

“As I’m sure you already know… I am going to QC this afternoon.”

“Yes, your mother might have mentioned it. Between you and me I think she’s really hoping you’ll change your mind.”

“That won’t happen. I’ll be useless there, Tommy.”

“No, you won’t. You were good at your job and I’m not saying it will be easy to get back on it but… you’d be helped.”

Oliver shook his head, his eyes travelling to the window. Fall was slowly but surely arriving, the first leaves were starting to take a golden shade and there was a pleasant crispness in the air. He allowed himself a few seconds, quietly observing the people leaving the gym.

“I’m just not that man anymore, Tommy,” he eventually said quietly.

“Alright. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who knows you well that you have changed. But don’t rule things out right off the bat, that’s all I’m saying.”

Probably sensing he wouldn’t get an answer, Tommy changed topics. “Anyway, how are things at home?”

“You mean my mother didn’t tell you?”

“No, she didn’t. She just told me you might need company, that is all.” Tommy rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his drink.

“Things are good.” Oliver shrugged, unsure of how to pursue the conversation. What exactly could he say? That he felt like a stranger in a place he had once called home?

“That’s not exactly what your sister told me.”

“Thea expects me to be her big brother just like when she was a kid. She is an adult now.” And a gossip, like their mother apparently. What exactly were they expecting from him? To be back to his old self just like that?

“... You’re right, actually,” Tommy nodded, “that’s what I told your mother last month when she found her drunk and half-naked with a man in her bed.”

“What?!” Oliver snapped, feeling his blood boil. His baby sister… in bed… half-naked. With a man. Probably some douchebag who took advantage of-

Tommy perked an eyebrow, leaning back on his seat. “You’re so not big brother material anymore, you’re totally right.”

Oliver closed his eyes, groaning. He had totally walked into that one.

Tommy smiled, shaking his head in understanding.“I was supposed to meet her for lunch… I’m sure she’d love it if you could come too? It would be the three of us and… you know me, I can make a conversation just by myself.”

No matter how tempted he was to say no, Oliver also knew that he would have to face Thea at some point anyway. He still felt tremendously guilty for the way he had screamed at her a few days ago and the fear he had seen on her face.

“It might be a good idea,” Oliver eventually said, gulping down the rest of his drink. “Come on, PT is on the other side of the town.”

Tommy stood up, grimacing and rolling his shoulders.

“You really got out of shape while I was away,” Oliver smirked as they made their way to Tommy’s car.

“Hey! I work out like a gentleman, on a treadmill or a spin cycle where I can… admire the view. Not… locking myself in a cage with a racket and a ball until I exhaust myself.”

Shoving his bag on the backseat, Oliver sat down on the passenger seat while Tommy stored his own stuff in the trunk.

“Oh… oh God…” Tommy winced as he slipped behind the wheel. “I feel like… I just wrestled someone. I’ll never, ever take mud fights for granted ever again. What those girls go through just for the beauty of Art is… I have even more respect for them now. They are so selfless, Ollie. So selfless.”

Oliver snorted as he fastened his seatbelt. “It’s not because you got hit by the ball half a dozen times-”

“Eight times. I counted the bruises in the shower.”

“My bad.”

“You know, I remember I once had sex with a girl who told me the next morning that she felt like she had been in a mud fight. I took it as a compliment back then but… I’m not so sure anymore. Do you think this is how all girls feel when we go at it several times a night? I mean, I really did the whole show.”

Oliver slowly turned his head to face Tommy who was apparently dead serious.

“I… don’t know. Maybe you should ask your next partner?”

“I hate to say it but I don’t think I have the same kind of stamina anymore,” Tommy sighed deeply. “I guess I’ll never know. Her name was Inga. You know me, I always had a soft spot for Nordic ladies… maybe I should call her and ask her. I feel kinda bad now. Although I did go down on her so..”

“OK, TMI, Tommy.”

“Sorry,” his best friend said, quickly glancing at him. “By the way… how come you’re so full of energy?”

“What do you mean?” Oliver frowned.

“Well, I don’t know but you haven’t seen your super hot girlfriend in three years and…” Tommy trailed off, focusing on the road for a moment. “And you’re like a pressure cooker.”

Oliver gritted his teeth, unwilling to go down that road. “I haven’t seen Felicity since Sunday.”

Tommy’s jaw dropped. “What?! Why? Dude… you need to take a few days just the two of you and get some loving. Your balls must be bluer than Papa Smurf’s!”

“It’s… we’re not together anymore,” Oliver grumbled, trying to ignore the bitter taste in his mouth. God, he hated those words so much.

“OK what the fuck have you done again? Jeez, back for 24 hours and you still managed to screw up?!”

“I don’t really want to talk about this. I’m just not in the right headspace for a serious relationship, that’s all.”

“Oh God… please tell me you don’t spend your days banging random chicks, Ollie. Felicity won’t take you back after that, she’s not Laurel.”

“No, I don’t.” Of course I don’t.

“Then seriously… where have you been? Your mother is worried, your sister is worried. And… and I found a white hair this morning. A white hair, dude. I'm not even thirty.”

“I’m just… I’m just walking, Tommy. That’s all. I walk in the city, see what changed, what didn’t.” It wasn’t exactly a lie after all. He had done a lot of walking lately, even though it was to get some intel or buy illegal weapons. Not that Tommy needed to know the details.

“Oh,” Tommy whispered. “Yeah… I guess… I guess that makes sense. Just don’t forget that we lost you and we just got you back and… your family cares about you.”

Oliver nodded, but didn’t reply. Tommy didn’t insist and it was mostly in silence that they drove the rest of the way to Palmer Tech.

Once again, Oliver realized how much his city had changed in just three years. it wasn’t anything obvious, but he could see that as soon as they were driving away from the wealthy neighborhoods, they were faced with more and more misery, in a way that was much more contrasting than before. He asked Tommy about it, who didn’t seem to have noticed. Apparently, the change had been gradual, and subtle, and it was clear to him that not many people had paid attention.

When Tommy pulled the car to the curb, Oliver once again felt a surge of pride at the vision of the building where Felicity was working. She had made that. Of course she wasn’t the CEO and hadn’t created the company, but her projects, her inventions, had been what had turned PT from a wealthy, promising national company into a world-wide leader.

“Look where our sweet Miss Felicity ended up,” Tommy noted as they both waited just outside the main entrance. “I’ve heard about her you know, even at Merlyn Global. When she was still in New York, I once went to a gala and several people were talking about that bright brain working for Palmer Tech and… they said her name. Felicity Smoak. It was… I don’t know, a year after you went missing. I know many companies tried to steal her, but she’s a loyal one apparently.”

“She has always been,” Oliver whispered. Loyalty had been the first quality he had really noticed in her. The first one that had pushed him to be better and deserving of that loyalty. She hadn’t changed in that aspect.

“Aaaaaand speaking of the devil…” Tommy murmured, nudging him.

Frowning, Oliver followed his eyes and froze when he saw Felicity walking down the steps. She was wearing a red dress, neat and sophisticated, miles away from the outfits he remembered. But damn… did she look good. Her legs were just as amazing as he remembered them, long, toned and seemed as silky as in his memories. He had loved her legs so much, the way they would grip him, the way they felt around his waist, how smooth and soft her skin was underneath his hands… underneath his lips as he slowly kissed his way up her thighs...

He finally shook off his trance when Tommy elbowed him in the ribs with a hiss. “Dude… we’re in public.”

“I… what?” Oliver asked defensively.

“You’re undressing her in your head and believe me, it’s quite obvious with the way you’re looking at her.”

Felicity had made it down the stairs and was turning away from them when she suddenly paused, her shoulders stiff. Immediately, Oliver was on his guard, his eyes roaming the perimeter. Had she spotted something, or someone? But she turned around slowly, until her eyes could meet his and he saw, even from the distance, the way her lips opened in surprise. They locked gazes for a few seconds, Oliver unable to look away, until she made her way towards him, her steps decided, a frown appearing on her face.

“Uh-oh… she doesn’t look very happy to see you.”

“Oliver. Tommy,” Felicity said with a short smile. “I assume you’re waiting for Thea?”

“Yup. But… hum… I’m gonna go wait over by that… that tree, if you don’t mind,” Tommy replied, pointing to the tree that was the furthest from them. “Miss Felicity, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, as always and I have to say, you look absolutely gorgeous today.” Leaning in, Tommy grabbed Felicity’s hand, pressing a small kiss on her knuckles.

Felicity smiled, shaking her head in obvious amusement. “Thank you, Mister Merlyn. But it is going to take more than a kiss on the hand to make me believe you’ve become a gentleman.”

“Well, whenever you want more than a kiss on the hand, you know where to find me,” he winked, throwing a look at Oliver.

Oliver gritted his teeth, knowing exactly what his friend was doing. It was a nice warning, a “watch out, she won’t wait for you forever.” But he also knew Tommy would never try anything with Felicity, and judging from her indulgent smile, she knew it as well.

“Thank you for the offer but just like the last ten times, I’m gonna have to pass.”

“Hey!” Tommy laughed, holding up his hands in defense as he started to walk away. “You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

They both watch him retreat to the tree he had chosen, sitting on a bench next to an old lady. Oliver huffed out when he saw him directly start a conversation with her, the Merlyn smile already full on.

“He hasn’t changed, has he?” Felicity asked him eventually in a soft voice.

“Nope. I’m afraid he never will.”

“Thea should be here in about ten minutes, by the way. They are in a meeting right now.”

Oliver nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets, keeping his eyes everywhere but on her.

“Is this… is this how it’s going to be now?” Felicity asked him, forcing him to look at her.

“What do you mean?” he answered, playing dumb.

She cocked her head, her eyes narrowing and for some reason, he felt the tips of his ears heating up.

“I mean, are we going to pretend like we barely know each other? We were friends before, Oliver. Even if we’re not together anymore, I still consider you a friend. Or do you want us to just forget about that as well?”

“I… I’ll always see you as my friend, Felicity. It’s just… I don’t want to make things any more difficult for you.”

“Oh. Well… if that is the case, maybe you should start by telling me the truth. That would make things much, much easier for me.”

Keeping his face neutral, he asked, “what do you mean?”

“What happened between Saturday and Sunday for you to make a complete 180 on me? Because, pardon my honesty, but the way you held me in that hospital room didn’t scream “I am craving freedom”. At all. So, again… what happened during those 24 hours?”

“Nothing. I just… went back home and realized a few things and…” Oliver trailed off.

“You mean that holding me in your arms for the first time in three years made you realize you wanted to bang other girls?”

Oliver’s eyes widened at her words, not expecting such… brutal honesty from her. He could hear the bitterness in her voice but also a hint of pain that he really didn’t like.

“Felicity… I’m… I don’t really know what I want right now. I just don’t want to drag you down with me, that’s all,” he explained in a soft voice.

“Oliver, I understand that. Of course, I understand that everything must be confusing right now and… I would have never expected us to go back to where we were right away. But you shut me out and… you lied to me. When I asked you if you would have told me the same thing in the hospital you said yes but you lied. I know you did.”

“... I missed you. So, so much. And I was overwhelmed with that but then I had the time to cool down and put things into perspective.”

“Did your mother play a part in that?”

His mom? What...what did she have to do with anything?

“My mom? No. Why would you even… No. We barely talked, I stayed in my room most of the weekend. Why would she try to get involved in our relationship?”

“I don’t know. We just didn’t leave on good terms, that’s all.”

Oliver blinked, utterly confused. “When?”

“I went to a brunch a couple of weeks ago. At the mansion. Apparently your mom had been asking Thea to invite me for a while but long story short, your sister never did until that day. I went there, and I talked to her about… about you and the Gambit and how I didn’t understand why she stopped financing the searches and… listen it’s a long story but she asked me to keep my relationship with Thea on a professional basis. So I’m wondering if she advised you to do the same?”

Quickly storing the information in the back of his head, Oliver rubbed his temples. He’d have to find out more about that conversation because Felicity had just opened up a door. But now wasn’t the time.

“No. I didn’t talk to anyone about us. It’s… it’s private.” That, at least, wasn't a lie. He had always been fiercely protective of their relationship, cherishing it, cherishing the very special bond only the two of them shared.

Felicity observed him quietly for a few seconds before nodding her head. “Alright. OK, then. Just… Oliver, I’m still your friend. You can still count on me, don’t forget that and please… don’t shut me out. I’ll never blame you for not being the same man you were three years ago, you know that, right?”

Oliver nodded, pinching his lips, wanting so desperately to believe her, but a deep-rooted fear kept holding him back. She didn’t know. She had no idea what he had done during those three years. It hadn’t been surviving on a deserted island. It had been him doing despicable things, favoring his own life over the lives of others.

“There is something else I wanted to know, if you don’t mind.”

“Anything.” That much was true. No matter how he tried to stay away from her, he also knew that if he could do anything to prove to her she still mattered to him more than anybody else, he’d do it in a heartbeat.

“The letter from your father? It’s been driving me crazy.”

Anything but that, Felicity.

“It… it was nothing. I barely remember it,” he shrugged but he could see in her eyes she wasn’t fooled. Why did she know him so well and why was he somehow unable to fool her, while he had no problem doing it with everybody else?

“It was just… he considered leaving us to start a new life with Isabel, that’s all,” he eventually said, knowing she wouldn’t be satisfied with a “nothing”. “All these years, I thought that he’d always choose his family in the end but… he almost didn’t.”

“Oh…” Felicity whispered, pressing his arm. “I’m sorry you had to read that, Oliver.”

It took a few seconds for Oliver to register her words, his attention entirely focused on her hand, how small it was, unable to circle even half of his bicep and judging by Felicity’s frown, she must have realized that too.

“It was three years ago and… honestly I haven’t thought about that letter since I told you about it,” he rushed to say, willing to end that dangerous conversation as soon as possible.

Liar. That letter had always been in the back of your mind until four months ago when you decided to never get to the bottom of it.

Felicity shook her head, finally tearing her eyes off his arm, and dropped her hand. “It’s… it’s good you’re here to see Thea. She has missed you and she just wants to help,” she said, biting her lip nervously and Oliver could see by the way her eyebrows were crinkling that she was trying to solve something. His girl was way too smart for her own good.

“I… I haven’t been very nice to her since I got back.”

“I know. She told me. She’s concerned, though… not mad. Thea is your family, Oliver. And she’s young, don’t push her away. You might regret it one day.”

“I just don’t really know how to interact with her. She was a kid when I left and she’s… a woman now,” he said wincing as the last words left his mouth. He probably would struggle with the concept of his baby sister being an adult for at least another twenty years.

“I think a small lunch with a goofball as buffer is a pretty good start,” Felicity grinned, pointing behind her shoulder.

Oliver huffed out a laugh, a small smile stretching the corner of his lips. “I figured as much.”

He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to kiss her so badly he could feel his insides churning with longing. She was so beautiful, so perfect, the small wind playing softly with her hair, her full lips so, so tempting. To have her in his arms, pressed tightly against him, her mouth so sweet and welcoming… Instinctively, he went to push back a strand of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes, his hand freezing when he slipped it behind her ear, brushing against the lobe. She automatically leaned into his touch, like she always did and it took all his willpower to move away from her.

“I… I should go,” he mumbled, mentally cursing himself. He really had to stay away from her because his body apparently couldn’t be trusted.

“Same. Ray is probably waiting for me,” she smiled, exhaling slowly. “Just think about what I said. If you ever need to talk… I’m here.”

He nodded, watching her walk away from him… walk away from him and towards another man. Something he had better get used to.

The strong hand that gripped his shoulder was familiar and reassuring but it didn’t keep him from tensing, his fists already clenching in defense. He slowly relaxed, knowing it was only Tommy.

“Just so you know… whenever you finally get your head out of your ass… it’s going to take a hell more than a potted plant this time.”

“Tommy…”

“I’m just saying, dude. You obviously still love her, she obviously still loves you.”

“Too much has happened.”

“That is bullshit. We’re still friends, right? Moira is still your mother, Thea is still your sister. Felicity is still your girl. There is nothing complicated about that.” 


When Thea walked out of Palmer Tech a few minutes later, she was obviously surprised to see Oliver. But judging by the huge grin that grew on her face, Tommy had had a good idea.

Lunch didn’t happen smoothly. Oliver was still uncomfortable in unfamiliar places, especially surrounded by so many people and so much noise, but he did his best to appear as normal as possible. Thankfully, Tommy was there to make most of the conversation and no one said anything about how he barely ate. Food had become a way to survive for him, and was not a social pleasure anymore. Here, in Starling, where he knew there was probably someone who was going to come after him at some point, it was impossible to relax and enjoy a nice meal. He was constantly on alert, unable to let go. When Tommy abandoned them to make a phone call after their dessert, Oliver apologized to Thea for the way he had shouted at her a few days ago. She smiled, understanding, and apologized as well for not respecting his boundaries. He asked her for a bit of time to get used to his life again and she told him that all she wanted was to be a part of his world again, in any shape or form. And that she was there if he needed to talk to someone.

Oliver promised her he’d come to her if needed - knowing fully well he’d never do so. Thea had to be kept in the dark but he would have to play it smarter with her.

Tommy dropped him at Queen Consolidated next, and it took Oliver at least five minutes before he could walk inside the building. Everything was so, so familiar and at the same time… so different. It was with a charming smile on his lips that he finally stepped towards the reception desk, ready for the play to begin.

“Hi there, gorgeous. I believe my mother is expecting me,” he winked at the young receptionist, a twenty something brunette who blushed furiously under his attentions.

“Sure, of course, Mister Queen,” she squeaked, her shaking hands struggling to open the drawer to get him a badge. After several attempts, she managed to get the plastic card and handed it to him.

“Thank you, Lizzie,” Oliver said, checking the name on her tag.

She grinned at the mention of her name, nervously playing with her hair, and let out a small giggle.

He didn’t linger, quickly making his way to his mother’s office, on the top floor. They had redecorated the hallways, and it helped him keep the memories at bay. The place was different, now. Just like him.

Moira gave him a tour of the place, showing him the changes in the last few years. Some executives were still there, still in charge and Oliver couldn’t help but wonder if one of them, behind their friendly smile, had been part of the people his father had warned him against. Had someone inside QC been in the conspiracy to kill Robert Queen? Or had it been only people from the outside?

Denis Lewis had always been decent with him but… was he plotting something while shaking Oliver’s hand? Alfred, the head of the board, did he seem nervous about Oliver being back at QC or was it just the usual awkwardness of not knowing how to act around someone newly resurrected?

Oliver’s instincts were tingling, his entire body tense and on alert. Who exactly could he trust?

As they eventually made their way to Walter’s office, Oliver finally began to relax a bit. Walter was safe. Walter was someone he could trust, his father had said so.

“So what did you think? There have been a few changes,” Walter greeted him as they all sat down around the table in his office.

“I can see that. Millie is now in charge of Marketing. It makes sense,” Oliver nodded. Millie had been one of his chiefs of projects and had always done a good job. Trustworthy, capable.

“If you want to take the position back, we’ll obviously find her something else,” Moira chimed in smoothly.

“I already told you, mom. I am not interested,” Oliver replied, letting his eyes travel down the body of the assistant that was serving them coffee. “I plan to enjoy life for a bit, if that’s not too much to ask.”

Moira pinched her lips, the frown on her face letting Oliver know she had seen him. Good. Let’s show her I’m back to how I was before… before Felicity.

“I think it’s more than understandable,” Walter agreed. Oliver turned his head to face him, surprised. He hadn’t expected Walter’s support, especially since he was married to his mother.

“Walter…” Moira sighed, her head tilting in warning.

“Moira, I know. I understand your position as well. Oliver, you should consider maybe accepting the position of VP. Moira you could finally step up as co-CEO and the two of us would supervise you. At first, your tasks would be limited, and you wouldn’t have a full schedule. It would be a way to slowly get involved with the company again until the day you feel like really stepping in.”

Oliver shook his head.

“I am not saying you need to make the decision right now, just know that if you change your mind, no one is expecting you to jump back in right away. We’ll do things gradually.”

“Oliver, it’s your legacy. It’s important and I’m sure your father would have wanted to see you take charge the way you were always supposed to,” Moira explained softly, squeezing his hand.

“Well, maybe dad changed his mind before he died. Maybe dad would have understood. Maybe dad would have finally accepted that I am not like him,” Oliver said, his tone calm and collected. “It’s hard to say since he is, you know, dead.”

Letting out a deep sigh, Oliver stood up. “Thank you for the tour and… the speech. If you don’t mind, I’m going to stop and check on that very cute assistant we saw in HR.”

“Oliver,” his mother scolded him. “I can understand that things are different now but I will not sit here and let you go back to these… awful habits you had.”

“Don’t worry, mom. I’m not their boss anymore,” Oliver smirked as he leaned down to press a peck on her cheek. “No risk of sueing.”

 

Oliver took the stairs, and was in the big HR open space in less than a minute. He spotted the assistant right away. She had shyly offered him a cup of coffee while his mother had been deep in talk with someone else and he knew he’d probably get the information he was looking for from her very easily.

She was on the phone when he made it to her cubicle and he sat down on her desk, waiting for her to be done. She stuttered when she saw him and he flashed her a smile as soon as she hung up.

“Mister Queen,” she breathed. “What… what can I do for you?”

“Well… I need a favor. Would you mind helping me out? And please… call me Ollie.”

“Ollie,” she smiled shyly, twisting her hands.

“I haven’t seen my father’s former secretary, Rosy. Do you know if she still works here?”

“Rosy Bloomberg? Oh yes. She works for the accounting department now. She asked for a reduced schedule to take care of her grand kids.”

“Awesome. Thank you very, very much,” Oliver winked at her and, picking up her hand, pressed a small kiss on her knuckles.

She grinned widely, her cheeks blushing. “Are you sure you don’t want that coffee?”

“Aww… I’d love to. But I have to go, my mother is expecting me. Another time maybe?”

With one last smile, he left, hoping Rosy would be at work. If not, he’d have to come back another day, and he didn’t want to waste any more time.

Luck was on his side when someone showed him to a small office on the third floor and the familiar face welcomed him with a grin. “Oliver. What a pleasure to see you back,” she exclaimed, standing up to hug him.

“Rosy, it’s good to see you again, too,” Oliver said as he sat down opposite her desk.

“I don’t assume you just randomly walked into the accounting department, did you?”

Laughing, he shook his head. “No. I’m afraid I have something to ask you.”

“What can I do for you?”

“Do you know where I could find my father’s old agendas, notebooks and so on?”

Rosy raised her eyebrows, surprise written across her features. “Do you need something in particular?”

“No… just… I’d like to have them. It’s mostly… sentimental value.”

“Oh. Of course,” Rosy said, lowering her tone. “Well I personally packed everything a couple of months after his death. It’s been stored in the secured archives. As you know, only executives have authority to access them. Why don’t you just ask your mother? She has authority, obviously.”

“No. I don’t want… my mother just got remarried to Walter, I think it’s… indelicate right now to mention dad’s old belongings… I don’t want her to think I disapprove of her relationship with Walter who is, after all, our CEO.”

“Yes, I can see why that could be awkward. Unfortunately, I can’t personally help you.”

Oliver smiled reassuringly. “It’s OK. I’ll ask her or Walter. I was just trying to make this as smooth as possible.”

“Understandable. Is there anything else I could help you with though?”

“Yes. Did you notice if he was any… different in the days before he died?”

Rosy frowned, resting her hands on her desk. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean?”

“It’s just… I had a weird feeling before I went on the Gambit. I’m just wondering if he did too? Did he do anything differently?”

“Oh. No. He was his usual self as far as I can say. The only unusual thing was that he asked me to leave early the day right before he died. I still had a lot of work to do but he insisted. His agenda was clear, though, so… I don’t know anything else apart from that. I don’t think he had a presentiment, at least I didn’t notice any change in his behavior.”

“Thank you. That’s all I wanted to know, really,” Oliver said as he stood up.

As he walked out of QC, his mind was reeling with all the new information. So his father had asked his secretary to leave his office sooner than expected. It could have been random, it could have also been tied to Isabel. He would still have to try and check everything out, but for that, he needed to have access to his father’s archives. He couldn’t ask his mother or Walter without letting them know that he had taken an interest in Robert Queen’s last days or work. He was already having a hard time getting his mother off his back, and if she found out he was taking an interest in his father’s paperwork, she’d be even more onto him. He also kept in mind what Felicity had told him, about how Moira had asked her to keep her relationship with Thea professional. He sensed there was more to all of that, but couldn’t find a way to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit.

He was exhausted, not the physical kind of fatigue that was actually a relief, but the mental kind. He had played a part all day. Playful friend, considerate brother, playboy. He had spent the day telling lies to all the ones he loved the most, looking them in the eyes, biting back the stupid jealousy he had felt when Felicity had mentioned Ray, when his mother had called Tommy behind his back. He had smirked, shrugged, and done everything to hide the pain he was feeling. Pushing the ones he loved away from him was harder than he had first thought. But it was necessary. He had to find who had been after Robert, who had been after Felicity. Only then would he be able to maybe try to live again.

He needed to get his hands on his father’s belongings. For that, he had to ask someone from the inside. Someone he could trust and who had access to secured rooms.

And there was only one person he could think of.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Dancing With The Devil"

 

Like fire beneath the ice
An inevitable demise
Standing on the edge jumping into hurt
Time and time again I will never learn

And I should cut all the ties
Let it burn and walk away from you
There's beauty in suffering
When you love someone you're scared to lose
I know I'm dancing with the devil
Ain't no chance of heaven
Going straight to hell
I know I'm dancing with the devil
Darken up my heaven
Brighten up my hell

Hear the sirens in the air
All the warning signs were there
When I feel your touch it burns my skin
Echoing sublime it spreads within

And I should cut all the ties
Let it burn and walk away from you
This predator I let in knows my heart
There's nothing I can do
I know I'm dancing with the devil
Ain't no chance of heaven
Going straight to hell
I know I'm dancing with the devil
Darken up my heaven
Brighten up my hell

This passion is a blasphemy
My second lung, my enemy,
I know I'm dancing with the devil,
Darken up my heaven
Brighten up my hell

I oppose my pride, my dignity
And this hold you got, It smothers me
In my narrow boots, on rocky ground
Is where my angels fly

I know I'm dancing with the devil
Ain't no chance of heaven
Going straight to hell
I know I'm dancing with the devil
Darken up my heaven
Brighten up my hell

This passion is a blasphemy
My second lung, my enemy,
I know I'm dancing with the devil,
Darken up my heaven
Brighten up my hell
My hell
Brighten up my hell

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Dig asked her as he put his glass of water down on the table. They were having dinner at her place - in reality she had ordered takeout, as usual.

“It’s Oliver,” Felicity admitted quietly, pushing a small piece of chicken around her plate.

“What about him?”

“I saw him at Palmer Tech yesterday. He was meeting Thea for lunch. We talked.”

“... and?”

“He’s hiding something from me, Dig. I don’t know what but I can sense… something is off. He told me that his father’s letter was just about how Robert had planned to leave his family and start over with Isabel but… it just… I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, maybe I think he’s hiding something from me because I can’t accept that he has indeed moved on.”

She sighed deeply, leaning back against her chair. Her conversation with Oliver had played in her head over and over again since the day before.

“Well… if that is what the letter said, it makes sense with what Moira told you… about not tarnishing Thea’s memories. She wouldn’t want her daughter to find out her dad was planning on leaving them.”

“Yes. Yes, I thought about that. But how could Moira know that was what the letter was about?”

“Maybe that letter was found on the Gambit,” Dig shrugged as he cut a slice of bread.

Felicity bit her lip, replaying her conversation with Moira. Yes… that could be it. But that didn’t explain the hint of… fear she had seen in Moira’s eyes.

“There is also… Oliver has changed.”

“Yes. I mean you already knew that, did he tell you something more?”

“No. I meant… physically, he has changed.”

“It’s pretty much expected. He probably already gained a bit of weight on the boat back but-”

“No. He’s bigger. More buff. I grabbed his bicep and… Dig it was much, much stronger than before. I had that feeling in the hospital when he held me, I felt smaller than usual but I really thought it was because it had been so long. Now I know it’s not that.”

Dig frowned as he finished chewing. He eventually swallowed, putting his fork back on his plate. “Well he had to survive for three years… if there was enough food for him, he had to hunt and walk and probably climb. It’s not impossible that he indeed built up muscle.”

Nodding, Felicity took a small bite of potato. There was building up muscles due to surviving in extreme conditions and there was building up biceps like a MMA fighter.

“There’s more, isn’t it?”

“I… I know it sounds crazy and I don’t know how to explain it but yes. I feel like he is hiding something from me. It’s… my gut keeps telling me he is lying. I don’t know how, I don’t know why but… his eyes don’t tell me the same story.” She shook her head, putting her knife and fork on her plate, her appetite gone. “God, I sound like one of those conspiracy nutcases.”

“You sound like you could use a good night of sleep,” Dig corrected her as he finished his own plate.

“It’s not lack of trying, believe me.”

“Still having nightmares?”

“More like dreams,” she sighed as she stood up and brought her plate to the kitchen. “Weird dreams. About that night. I keep seeing ski-mask dude for some reason. One would think the dead body that landed at my feet would be what would retain my attention but nooooo… my brain is fixed on the mysterious guy.”

She put water in the boiler, grabbing two cups from the cupboard. “Mint tea?”

“Mmhmhh,” Dig nodded as he brought his plate and started running water in the sink. “Maybe you should take a few days off. Go to a spa, go see your mom or even Sara… wherever she is.”

“Last time I checked she was in Hawaii. Ugh. I’d love to go to Hawaii, but I don’t want to leave town right now.” She sighed, rolling up her sleeves. “But maybe a few days off wouldn’t hurt, you’re right.”

After they were done with the washing up, they finished their tea while watching The Walking Dead - their mutual guilty pleasure. Night had fallen when Dig left her, and she quickly brushed her teeth and washed her face before crawling into bed. Maybe she really needed a vacation. She had been through quite the rollercoaster lately and even if her work was still stellar, it might be a good idea to take a breather. As she switched off the bed lamp and settled more comfortably on her pillows, she thought again about the ski-mask dude. There was something intriguing about him, something she couldn’t pin point, and she honestly didn’t know if her brain was messing with her or if her instincts were right.


***

 

Oliver sat on a chair, his back facing the wall - as usual. The room was silent and dark, which was not surprising since the night had just fallen. All that could be heard was the first hand of the clock marking each minute, the small ticks sounding weirdly peaceful to his ears.

When the door opened, he didn’t move, his eyes fixed on the silhouette that had just entered. He watched as they locked the door and dropped their keys in a bowl on the small round table. A few seconds later and the man was turning around, a gun in his hand, aimed straight at Oliver’s shadowed figure.

“It’s me, John,” Oliver said quietly, not moving an inch.

The light suddenly went on, and Oliver blinked twice, giving his eyes time to adjust. Diggle was watching him, frowning, still holding his weapon.

“... Oliver?” he eventually asked in disbelief. “What… what the… what the hell are you doing in my living room?!”

“I was waiting for you,” Oliver explained, slowly raising his hands to prove Dig he was unarmed and harmless. “I need to talk to you.”

“And you couldn’t give me a call?!”

“I’m afraid these three years away left me rusty with technology,” Oliver answered, smirking. “Could you please lower your gun?”

This seemed to shake Dig out of his trance and he eventually lowered the gun but didn’t put it back in the table’s drawer. Which didn’t escape Oliver’s attention.

“How did you even enter, anyway?”

“Bathroom window.”

“We’re on the third floor!”

“I’m a good climber.”

With one last look, Diggle finally put the gun down on the table, discarding his jacket on the couch. “Do you want a beer?”

Oliver raised his eyebrows at the unexpected question. He had assumed he would have to go through an interrogation, not be offered a drink.

“Yes,” he replied nonetheless.

Dig walked to the fridge, pulling out two bottles of beer. He handed one to Oliver then dropped on the couch, facing him. “You know you’re gonna have to explain a few things, right?”

“Yes. I’ll answer what I can.”

“Alright. Let’s start with why you decided to show up in my apartment.”

“I need your help. I need to access QC’s secured archive room where my father’s belongings are stored.”

Dig paused, his bottle a few inches from his lips, eyebrows raised. “Why?”

“Because I have every reason to believe he was murdered. And maybe I will find a clue there.”

Diggle frowned, then after a small headshake, took a sip of beer.

“You don’t look surprised?” Oliver asked, observing his reactions.

“Felicity thought that might have been the case. And we already entertained that idea a while ago, didn’t we?”

“... We did.”

“So… what makes you think he was murdered?”

Oliver put down his beer, then reached out inside his jacket, fishing out the small zippered bag that contained the letter Robert had left for him. The small notebook was still at the foundry, still useless since most pages were blank… or filled with personal letters. 

 

Oliver,

I wish I could tell you everything face to face. Like a man. I do hope I will never have to explain anything to you, but if this letter reaches you, then I have failed.

I am not proud of the man I have become. You think that I’m disappointed in you because you are not following my footsteps, while the truth is that I saw you heading in the exact same direction I took years ago and I know now that I am not an example anyone should follow. Especially not my son.

I built our wealth using your mother’s connections, following the rules, sometimes twisting them but always trying to not cross a line.

I did cross that line, eventually. I didn't realize how close to it I was, until I was stepping over it, not looking back, not thinking twice about the implications for other people. For Starling. We made profits over profits, millions and millions of dollars that we will probably never even have the use for, all of that by stepping on people who were just trying to make a decent living for their family.

When I first started working in business, I had visions of grandeur, of how I could be admired, envied for my success. I never thought that my own ego would make me do shameful things. Closing factories, moving jobs to China or to a random place on earth where we would pay our workers a few cents an hour. Stealing retirement plans from hard, faithful workers, just so our benefits could gain a few hundred thousands dollars. The city became poorer because of me, and because of our circle. We ruled over it, not with magnanimity and care, but with greed and a heart cold as ice. In return, half of our hometown became so miserable that crime went up, people slowly losing everything they had, just so we could get even more.

I lost my soul along the way and I have no one else to blame but myself. I am not the only one. I am far from the only one, most of this city’s elite being in on this project.

Last year, some of us met, and we all agreed the situation couldn’t last anymore. Our streets weren’t safe anymore, our children were in danger as soon as they were stepping a toe outside of our protected homes. I was failing to see that this situation we deemed unbearable had been caused by our very own actions.

As I see you now, I’ve come to realize my shortcomings. I see you trying to step away from me and I couldn’t be more proud because I know now that I’m not a model for you. I don’t want you to become me, blinded by the power of money, the success. I wish I could guide you, I wish I could have told you why I was backtracking concerning you and your place in the company. But I am a coward, my son. I don’t want to see the shame and disappointment in your eyes.

I am going to make things right. For you and your sister, and for the other children in our city. The people I deal with are our friends, our partners, our employees. They represent the high society, members of the upper class that you would never suspect. Don’t be fooled, Oliver. They are ruthless and will show no mercy and if I’m not around anymore, it’s probably because they sensed I was trying to pull away from them.

I will leave this letter in Walter’s possession, if anything were to happen to me. I trust him and you can trust him too. He is unaware of all the schemes that have been going on in the underground of our houses, where charity galas were just a facade for something far more sinister.

If you read this, then you will know I have failed. Protect your mother and sister, maybe leave town before they get their hands on our family. I would never be able to forgive myself if anything happened to any of you because of my choices. You and Thea are my greatest pride, I wish I could have been a better parent for the both of you and be there for the next steps of your life. I’m sorry I won’t be, but I know deep in my heart that you will be wiser than I ever was and make the right decisions.

I love you,

Your father.


“So he was indeed in murky waters…” Dig mumbled as he finished reading. “Felicity has been snooping, you know. She got in trouble a couple of weeks ago.”

“I know. I was there.”

Dig’s eyes grew wide at his words. “Were you… ski-mask dude?”

Ski-mask dude?

“Felicity named you that,” Dig explained quickly. “But that was you, right?”

“Yes. I had been… informed of a contract placed on her.”

“How? And who did it and… yes, how?! You weren’t on an island for three years, right?”

“No, I wasn’t. I spent some time on the island and… some time elsewhere. I wasn’t hanging with good people, Dig. The less you know, the better it is.”

Diggle exhaled slowly, his eyes searching Oliver’s face. “Alright.”

Oliver let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding. After all, Dig was a soldier. He knew everything about secrets and missions. That was one of the reasons Oliver had decided he could trust him. He would understand.

So, he told him everything. Well… everything he thought important. How he had made it to an island, and stayed there for a while. How he had eventually been rescued and forced to pay his debt - brushing over the Bratva, or at least how deep he had been involved in the criminal organization. How he had been told that the Gambit sinking wasn’t an accident. How he had achieved some very useful skills.

Dig listened, not interrupting him once, even if Oliver could see the many questions in his eyes. His instinct had been right: Dig was a soldier. He knew better than to ask questions.

“To make it short… whoever had your father killed also tried to kill you, probably assuming he had let you know about whatever he was into. And when Felicity started to investigate, she somehow attracted the attention of the same people who decided to make sure she would understand it wasn’t in her best interest to keep going. Is that all?”

… For the most part.

“It’s all that matters,” Oliver replied with a curt nod. He had willingly left several months out of the equation, unwilling to share his experience with Amanda Waller. In many ways, she had been the one to turn Oliver Queen into what he had become. Bratva had only… refined that version.

“And your plan is to take them down before they can take you,” Diggle concluded, passing a tired hand over his face. “Have you considered maybe telling the police?”

“You read that letter… there is no way I would know who to trust.”

“Damn… is this why… is this why you pushed Felicity away? Or is all that “I want to be free” bullshit really true?”

“... Do I look like someone planning on endless partying, to you?”

“No. You don’t. Good.”

“Good?” Oliver asked, raising an eyebrow.

“At least that means I won’t have to kick your ass. If what you say is true and you are indeed targeted… and she was too… I can understand why you did what you did.”

Oliver snorted, because he knew that no matter how built Diggle was… he probably could take him down easily.

“... But that doesn’t mean I agree,” Dig continued in a low tone.

Oliver winced, understanding things wouldn’t go as smoothly as he had thought. “I had to do everything to make sure she’d stay as far away from me as possible, Dig. I wouldn’t even have come back if she hadn’t put herself in danger. So I’m not going to be the reason why she gets a target on her back. Now, officially, she’s just my former secretary from three years ago, with whom I had a fling. No one is going to use her to get at me when she was just one in a dozen. She was on their radar because of her snooping around. Not because of her connection to me. I’d rather they think she was just enamoured with me and unable to move on, instead of… showing them exactly what she means to me.”

Standing up, Dig shook his head then walked to the fridge to get another beer. “You seem to fail to realize a few things, Oliver. One, this is Felicity Smoak we’re talking about. That woman is like a dog with a bone when something nags her. Two, she already got targeted. Three, you’re breaking her heart and I’m not OK with that. From what you told me, I know those three years have been the opposite of easy on you. But God… they haven’t been easy on her either.”

“Exactly, Dig. She has started to move on, it’s probably best if I let her go right away. I won’t take any risk with her, there is… no way I am putting her in danger any more than she already is.”

“She has… what? She has started to move on? On what earth, Oliver?!”

“I know she and Palmer had a thing a few months ago…” Oliver mumbled, rolling the bottle of beer between his hands.

Frowning, Dig shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Felicity hasn’t dated anyone since you’ve been gone. I’d love to know what gave you that idea, though.”

Oliver felt his heart beat a bit faster. So it really had been nothing serious. Maybe a one-night stand at most, quickly forgotten. He felt a bit better, then immediately scolded himself. He had no right.

“It’s… a long story. But I was here four months ago. I saw her and Palmer.”

“Oh God. You mean you were here, in Starling City, four months ago and you didn’t let her know? Man… she’s gonna be fucking pissed. I might teach her to throw a punch or two ‘cause you’d deserve it.”

Automatically, Oliver went to stroke the small spot on his forehead where she had hit him with the taser. He had been so proud of her, in a very twisted way. “I couldn’t let anyone know, Dig. I was here for a reason and… it wasn’t by choice.”

Dig glared at him for a moment, then slowly exhaled. “I’m not gonna get anything else on that topic, right?”

“No.”

“Listen, it’s your choice. It’s your secret to tell, not mine. But I don’t like lying to her and I think you should tell her the truth… well maybe not the part where you thought she was dating Ray because the girl spent three years mourning you.”

“... she never dated anyone? What about in New York, when she got promoted? Surely she met someone there?”

Why was he even asking, he didn’t know. Probably the masochistic part of himself deeming he hadn’t suffered enough.

“You really… you have no idea, do you?”

“No idea of what?”

“Of how much she loved you. She left for New York because she was drowning here, Oliver. Not because of a job opportunity. She asked to leave, because she just couldn’t stand being in this city any longer. God, those first months after you went missing…” Dig sighed deeply, pinching his lips. “You know, I understand. When I came back from Afghanistan, I was full of… survivor guilt and self-hate. It reached a point where I couldn’t even fathom anyone loving me. But make no mistake, man. She loved you and she still does. I’d find a way to tell her because you are going to hurt her and it’s going to be hard for you to stomach being the one who caused her pain. Not to mention, she’ll find out anyway. Better if you tell her.”

“I can’t be with anyone, Dig,” Oliver stated calmly. “I’m not the same man. Telling her wouldn’t change a thing, except drive her closer to me. I’d rather lie to her and hurt her than… know she got caught in the crossfire because of me. Those men killed an entire crew of innocent people just because they thought I might know something… but I’m not easy to take down now. Who do you think they are going to use if they can’t get me? Mom and Thea might be in danger because of my father but… Felicity would be only because of me. If something ever happened to her, it would be on me, Dig. I’d never be able to live with myself if…” Oliver trailed off, unable to say the words. Shaking his head, he added, “what do you think exactly she will do if I tell her?”

“... she’ll probably come up with a plan to help you,” Dig admitted.

“As a soldier, would you be comfortable with that? Having her brought along in this?” Oliver asked, playing his last card. Dig wasn't anything if not protective. “We’re not talking about Isabel scheming here. We’re talking about threats we don’t know who have been dropping bodies left and right.”

Dig observed him quietly for a few seconds, obviously struggling with himself. “Will you tell her? If… once things calm down?”

“I… I don’t know. What would be the point?”

“You still love her,” Dig stated calmly, keeping his eyes on him.

“... my feelings don’t change the fact that I have quite literally nothing to give her anymore, John. Look at her. She is the Vice President of Palmer Tech, she is admired and so, so bright. I… Look at me. I can’t even have lunch with my little sister and relax enough to eat what’s on my plate. What would Felicity do with a man like me? The only thing on my mind lately is to avenge my father’s death. I thought I’d never get to do that but now that I’m back… all I can think about is who betrayed him? I've probably talked to people who plotted his death, and mine and… that’s my whole life now. The only thing I can do, the only thing I can control is make sure no one gets harmed, and that includes her. I’ll never be the man she deserves by her side anyway.”

“You should let her be the judge of that, Oliver. I doubt she cares very much about galas, and receptions… just like you didn’t three years ago.”

“I… I can’t… I can’t let her see…” Oliver murmured, noticing his hands were trembling. “She would be scared of me. Like Thea.” Seeing fear in Felicity’s eyes, a fear he would have placed there… he felt nauseated just thinking about it. “John, you know I killed a man. Right in front of her. There’s no coming back from that.”

“Hey, I don’t blame you for what you did. You put him down because he was pointing a gun at Felicity and he had an accomplice. You were outnumbered with an innocent in between. In the same situation, I would have probably acted exactly like you did. And I get it, man. You’re not ready to share everything with her, and probably can’t see anything past the next day.”

Oliver looked up in surprise. Dig was right. Since the island he had been unable to really see himself in the long run. Surviving was one day at a time.

“But one day, you will, Oliver. And you need to think about that, too. No matter how hard it is.”

Maybe I won’t. Maybe they’ll manage to get to me.

Dig’s narrowing eyes made him understand he probably knew what Oliver wasn’t saying out loud. But he didn’t press the topic, just shook his head as he sighed, “It’s your secret, Oliver. I won’t betray your trust.”

“Thank you. And… can I count on your help?”

“Yes. But I’ll be honest with you. I’m not doing it for your father. I’m doing it for you and because a blonde girl I love like a sister deserves to be happy again. And because it’s my hometown they wanted to hurt… my brother was killed by a dude who lost everything and completely snapped. I also owe it to Andy.”

“Fair enough.”

“Have you entertained the idea that whatever they were planning died too? It’s been more than three years and… nothing has really happened. Well, things aren’t doing great, factories closing, corruption taking over but… nothing similar to the gas explosion. Are you sure this is linked? Maybe that part really is a coincidence?”

Oliver shook his head. “I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. And this is when my father’s behavior slowly but surely started to change. I honestly don’t know if things went too far, or if it was a warning for him but… if I have learned one thing during these three years, it’s that my instincts are never wrong. There is something going on. It might not be obvious but in three years, Starling has already changed and not in a good way.”

“So where do we start?”

“I have this place in the Glades, that’s where I store everything. But so far, I have about zero leads. I found the other guy who tried to get to Felicity that night but he had no more information.” And God knew Oliver had tried everything to make him talk...

“Felicity spent months on this. Her place is full of files and maps and everything you can think of regarding the gas explosion, your father’s death and the Gambit. You should ask her.”

Oliver glared at him. “Because she’ll just hand them over and not once wonder why I need them?”

Dig winced, tilting his head. “Find an excuse. Seems like you’re good with that.”

“... I have a better idea.”

 

***

 

Felicity was in the middle of a very nice dream when she woke up suddenly, her brain still full of lemon meringue pie and puppies running in a meadow. Moaning, she buried her head in her pillow, wishing she could go back to sleep. Her sleep pattern had been more than erratic lately and she desperately needed some rest. A quick glance at the alarm clock told her it was 1:07AM and she sighed, rubbing her nose against the sheet. She knew it would be pointless to linger in bed. It was insomnia 101: when it strikes, get out of bed, set your mind onto something else, then try to fall back asleep a bit later. With a groan, she pushed up on her hands and sat up, rubbing her eyes, mentally considering her options. An episode or two of Friends should relax her, or some good mindless surfing on the web could do the trick as well. In the end, Friends won because she knew she needed a bit of laughter. Grabbing her glasses from the nightstand, she soundlessly padded her way across her bedroom, her hands fixing the bun at the top of her head. It was only when she was almost at the door that she heard it. A small rustling sound. She froze, her heart hammering in her chest. There was someone inside her apartment.

As quietly as possible, she walked to her cabinet, opening the top drawer where she stored her taser. She slipped it in the large pocket of her pajama pants and grabbed the baseball bat she also kept in her room. Better to be safe than sorry.

There were more rustling sounds coming from her living room and she gulped, peeking an eye through the half opened door. Her breath got caught in her throat when she saw the shadow moving around her secretary.

There was definitely someone in her apartment.

Her brain took over quite fast, thankfully. She saw, from the corner of her eye, her handbag still on the table, zipper closed. Her watch was on the kitchen counter. And the intruder was going through boxes and papers.

Whoever they were, they weren’t after money.

Her first thought was that she never kept anything important regarding PT - everything always stayed at the office, apart from the usual boring digest that wouldn’t give any confidential information anyway. What she kept in her secretary was the usual papers everyone had, insurance, bills, lease, healthcare, and so on.

Well and also all her investigations of the past four months. After her encounter a couple of weeks ago, and the warning she had been given, it wasn’t hard to make the connection.

It was the word investigation that eventually shook her off her trance. Investigation. Police. She needed to call the police. Why hadn’t she thought of that first?!

She was just turning around when the intruder mirrored the same movement… and stopped when he saw her.

OK, forget 911.

“I called the police. They’ll be there any minute. I’d go if I were you,” she said in a voice that almost sounded… well, not scared. Her hold on the baseball bat tightened when he took a few steps forward.

“I’m not here to hurt you,” the man - because that low, growly voice obviously belonged to a man - answered her calmly. “I am just going to take what I need and go.”

Just going to… what the hell?!

“This… this is not a public library!” she hushed as if she was… in a public library. She recognized his voice, though. The silhouette also fit. It was ski-mask dude, she was ready to bet on it. Somehow, she felt relieved. If the man had indeed wanted to hurt her, he would have probably done so already.

“Who are you?” she asked, narrowing her eyes, trying to get a better glimpse of him. It was useless though. It was dark, the only light being from the tiny flashlight he was holding, and his face was hidden with a balaclava.

“You don’t need to know that.”

“Well, excuse me but I usually like to know the men who go through my private stuff in the middle of the night!” she hissed, frustrated. Did he really expect her to be satisfied with that kind of answer?! As if it was perfectly normal to have a random guy rummaging… oh. She couldn’t help but blush when she realized what she had said. “Just so you know, when I said private stuff, I really only meant my personal papers, not… I don’t… I don’t usually have one-night stands or anything.”

Not that you need to know that, anyway.

The man huffed out a breath, almost as if he was… amused? 

“You’re the same guy who told me to stop looking, aren’t you?”

“Again, you don’t need to know that.”

“You’re in my living room, excuse me if I think that yes, I have the right to know that!”

“You attracted the attention of the wrong people.”

“So I was right, wasn’t I? There is something fishy with everything that happened to the Queen family!”

He shook his head curtly. “No. But you dug up some information that some people wish would remain confidential. You’re off of their radar now. Keep it that way or you’ll end up dead.”

Now that is sobering.

Her eyes widened in fear when she saw him reaching to his pocket and she instinctively grabbed her taser, the baseball bat now hanging from one hand only. He paused then, raising his hands in surrender.

“I’d rather you didn’t use that. It hurts like hell.”

“Then put back what you took away from me and leave,” she ordered, sounding much more assured than she should normally be in those circumstances.

“I can’t do that. I need this information.”

“Then tell me who you are.”

He just shook his head and put a big pile of papers in the messenger bag he was carrying.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked again. “Are you… are you a cop?” 

He didn’t answer, completely ignoring her as if he wasn’t just burglarizing her apartment. She knew she shouldn’t let him take away what was without a doubt the result of months of investigation, but she also wasn’t foolish enough to believe that he wouldn’t use strength if needed. She watched him, her mouth slightly open, as he made his way to her door as if he had been a guest. Only there did he stop, his back at her and it dawned on her that he didn’t seem to fear for his own safety. It’s not as if she was pointing a gun, but she still had a taser and she had already proven him she knew how to use it. Yet… he didn’t even seem to care.

“A woman like you shouldn’t live in the past. Move out, this neighborhood isn’t as safe as it used to be. And lock up after me.”

He threw a quick glance to his left, then opened the door and walked out, softly closing it behind him.

Felicity stared at the now empty spot for what seemed like minutes, before eventually dropping her useless weapons on her dining table. She locked her door, adding the security chain. She switched on the lights, taking a few deep breaths to calm down the beating of her heart.

As she was by her door, she quickly glanced on her left - in the direction he had. She saw nothing, apart from her bell and she frowned, wondering if he had disabled it. Upon closer inspection, she saw nothing suspicious, all the wires being properly plugged. There seemed to be no camera or microphone either.

Clueless about what to do, she poured herself a glass of cold water, hoping it would help her clear her thoughts.

Should she call the police? To tell them what? That someone had robbed four months of not so very legal investigation? Probably not a good idea.

She should tell Dig, though, although he would probably lecture her about how you need to call 911 when you hear someone breaking into your home, and not start to chit chat with them. But Dig hadn’t been there and he wouldn’t understand that… no matter how scared she had been, she hadn’t really felt threatened. Whoever this guy was, his goal wasn’t to hurt her. Quite the opposite, judging from his concerns about where she lived. He was actually a very attentive burglar who wanted to make sure no one would rob her after him. 

There was no way she’d be able to get back to sleep now, so she decided to check on exactly what was missing. Most of her papers were gone, including blueprints and insurance reports. But that wasn’t what worried her most. The USB stick where she had saved everything was also gone. Only that one. The drawer where the stick was stored also held three other ones. All different colors, all untagged.

How on earth did he know which one to pick?

 

Chapter Text

"Time After Time"

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion -
Is nothing new
Flashback - warm nights -
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Time after -

Sometimes you picture me -
I'm walking too far ahead
You're calling to me, I can't hear
What you've said -
Then you say - go slow -
I fall behind -
The second hand unwinds

If you're lost you can look - and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you - I'll be waiting
Time after time

After my picture fades and darkness has
Turned to gray
Watching through windows - you're wondering
If I'm OK
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time -

If you're lost...

You said go slow -
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds -

If you're lost...
...Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time

 

 

“When you said it was rudimentary, you weren’t kidding,” Dig whistled as he took a good look around the foundry.

“I only need a safe place. I don’t care much about comfort.”

“Well, I wasn’t expecting a hot tub but maybe… restrooms or at least running water…” Dig trailed off as his eyes roamed over the cavernous space.

“There’s a restroom on the upper floor.”

“... with toilet paper?”

Oliver stopped rummaging through the stack of papers he had… borrowed from Felicity. He glared at Dig who just shrugged innocently. “Yes. With toilet paper. And soap and towels.”

“So, did you find everything?” Dig asked as he sat down on a chair next to him. It was early Saturday morning and Diggle had just joined him.

“I think so. Felicity woke up, though.”

“What? She saw you?!”

“No. She saw ski-mask dude, not me.”

“Why didn’t she call me? Someone breaks into her apartment and she doesn’t call for help?”

“I think she knew I wouldn’t hurt her. I took what I needed then left.”

“Just… just like that? She woke up, found you going through her stuff and you picked what you needed and then went out through the window?!”

“No. I went out through the door. She was up anyway, I told her to lock up after me.”

Diggle blinked several times, slightly shaking his head. “What… what did she say?”

“She asked if I was the same guy from the other night. I didn’t answer but I think she already knew anyway. Told her it was pointless for her to keep looking, because there was nothing concerning the Queen family, but her snooping around was making other people nervous about what she might find out. The fact that she hasn’t told you makes me think that maybe this time she will listen, though.”

“Let’s pray for some small miracle,” Dig sighed, pinching his nose. “Anyway, I’m ready if you are too.”

“Yup.” Oliver stood up and pulled his baseball cap low on his forehead. They had both decided that the best solution would be to get into the archive room of QC on Saturday morning. There weren’t many people there and they would clearly attract less attention than during the week. Their cover was that Oliver wanted to find his own personal belongings - even though they had been collected by Thea soon after he went missing. They would just play dumb if they were caught.

The drive to QC was silent, something Oliver was incredibly grateful for. He still didn’t like to talk because it was forcing him to focus on something other than his surroundings and it always made him feel uncomfortable. The lobby was deserted, even though some people were working. They didn’t see anyone though, using the staircase instead of the elevator. Fortunately, everything was clearly labeled in the archive room and it barely took them a couple of minutes to find what they were looking for. A small box with Robert’s personal papers, his agenda and a few notebooks, as well as a bottle of his favorite scotch and a couple of frames with family pictures. Unfortunately, Robert had had his laptop with him when the helicopter had crashed, so they would have to do without it.

They were back in the foundry in less than an hour, spreading the contents of the box on one of the tables. The first thing Oliver did was to check his father’s agenda. Unsurprisingly, his trip was written, but there were also a few little crosses scribbled every now and then. He tried to search his memory, to see if the dates were familiar, but honestly couldn’t remember much. The dates were random, the last one being barely a few days before the helicopter crash. He saw nothing else suspicious, no appointment that was out of the ordinary. With a deep sigh, he closed the agenda and threw it back in the box.

“We knew it probably wouldn’t lead to anything,” Dig comforted him with a pat on the shoulder.

“Yeah. I was just hoping I would at least see something that would… I don’t know. Click.”

Dig frowned then picked up the agenda, opening it until he could find the little symbol himself. “The last one was May 11th.”

“Yes. Can’t remember anything about that date, though.”

“That’s why we have the internet, Oliver. Maybe you’ll find something there.”

Oliver pulled his laptop in front of him, quickly typing in a few key words. “... nothing… nothing… Wait. There was a gala for the public library that night apparently. That’s the kind of event my parents usually went to.”

“Your father did talk about the elite of Starling City. If they really were planning something, this kind of occasion is perfect. They would all have a good reason to be there.”

They spent the entire day checking all the dates that had a small cross symbol in Robert’s agenda. Sometimes, it was easy: the name of the event was written down as well. Sometimes it took a lot of searching to get the answer. And sometimes they found nothing. Robert’s agenda was in a big binder, where his assistant added pages until the binder was full. It was going back to September the previous year, and Dig would try to find the rest on Monday. Hopefully it was also stored in the secured archive room and it would just be a few minute visit for him.

It was almost five o’clock when they started to pack everything away. Oliver pointed to the different cabinets while he made sure the computers were disconnected. A low whistle caused him to turn around.

“My, my, my… where did you get all that?” Dig asked, picking up a glock from one of the drawers.

“I have contacts and a trust fund.”

“It’s an entire arsenal you’ve got there. Knives as well?”

“Yes.”

“I assume you’re not going to go into details on how you can use so many different kinds of weapons, right?”

Oliver tilted his head, not bothering to answer.

“I thought so,” Dig muttered as he closed the cabinet. “I didn’t see a car, do you need me to drop you somewhere?”

“No. I have a bike in the back. Also I’m supposed to meet Tommy for dinner anyway.”

“I’ll get in touch with you on Monday, then. Try not to break into innocent women’s apartments in the meanwhile, will you?”

Oliver smirked, shaking his head. “I have no desire to be tased again. I feel like twice was already tempting the devil. By the way… you taught her well.”

“Damn right I did.”




“So, there is this new club opening downtown. Feel like joining me?” Tommy asked between two mouthfuls of fries. “You know, you were totally right. These fries are so much better than at In-N-Out.”

“They’re even better when you take the time to chew, you know.”

Tommy shrugged, gulping the food down with a long sip of his coke. “Still doesn’t answer my question.”

Oliver sighed, leaning back on his chair, his fingers drumming on the table. “No, thanks, I’m not really in the mood for parties.”

“That’s funny. Because it’s the reason you gave Felicity, right? That you didn’t want to be with her because you missed partying?”

Glaring at his best friend, Oliver didn’t reply. There was that look of fake innocence on Tommy’s face, a look he knew very well.

“Tommy…” he sighed, unwilling to delve into the topic.

“I know, I know. You don’t want to talk about it.” Tommy wiped his hands on a napkin, then let out a huge satisfied sigh while rubbing his belly. “That was some of the best burger and fries I’ve ever had.”

A waitress came to clean up their table, asking if they wanted anything for dessert. They both declined and waited until she came back with their check. Oliver was just putting his wallet back inside his jacket when Tommy started to hum.

“What?” Oliver asked as he stood up.

“Well, you know… I get it. You don’t want to talk to me about Felicity or about how you look like a kicked puppy every time I mention her name-”

“I… don’t look like a kicked puppy.”

“You do, but you’re still in denial, that’s fine. As I was saying before you rudely interrupted me, you might not want to talk to me about her but you’re gonna have to talk to her about… well… her, I guess,” Tommy rambled as he put his jacket on.

“I haven’t seen her since our lunch with Thea.”

“She’s at the counter, behind you,” Tommy smirked as he walked past him, patting his shoulder.

“Miss Felicity, what a wonderful surprise!”

Oliver groaned, squeezing his eyes shut when he saw her oh-so familiar silhouette waiting at the take away counter. After a second, he opened them, just in time to see the look of surprise on her face. Gritting his teeth and knowing there was no way to avoid the confrontation, he joined them, trying to keep his eyes from travelling down her body. She was wearing a pair of jeans and a simple T-shirt, her hair in her usual ponytail. God, why did she have to wear it in a ponytail... as if staying away from her wasn’t hard enough.

He waved at her, utterly uncomfortable, while Tommy went on a full rant about what he had just had for dinner.

“Anyway. I’m gonna go get the car and let you two… catch up. Ollie, take your time, I’ll wait for you.”

Oliver frowned, because he had come with his bike and didn’t need Tommy to drive him back. And also because he literally felt a sheer sheen of cold sweat sliding down his back at the idea of talking to Felicity.

She smiled hesitantly at him. “Hi. How… how are you?”

“I’m good,” he nodded, shifting on his feet like a sixteen year-old trying to ask his crush to Prom. “You?”

“I’m about to have Big Belly Burger so… I’m great,” she huffed out a small laugh, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Have you… settled in a bit better now?”

He forced his eyes away from her ear and cleared his throat. “Yeah… yeah. I just… yeah, things are good.”

“Great. That’s great,” she nodded. “You know… if you ever need a friend or… someone to talk to… I’m still here if you want to go out for a drink or something. We were good friends before… well, before.”

“Felicity? Your order is ready,” the young waiter interrupted them, handing her a paper bag.

She smiled, thanking the young man. Oliver stepped forward, holding the door open for her and she grinned in gratitude.

“Well, I guess, I should go. My ten-minute walk is the perfect time lapse for my burger to cool down just enough to be at the right temperature for my tastebuds,” she smiled nervously, holding out her paper bag.

“... you’re walking back to your place?”

“Well, yes. It’s not that far. It’s just a few blocks down-”

“Yes, I remember where you live,” Oliver mumbled. He didn’t like the idea of her walking home alone. He didn’t like it one bit. “It’s just… it’s late and I’m not sure it’s safe.”

“... it’s not even dark yet, Oliver. I always do it by foot and nothing has ever happened to me.”

It only takes once.

Shoving his hands in his pockets, he pinched his lips, torn between the need to protect her and the knowledge he would only be sending her mixed signals. In the end, the borderline irrational fear that something might happen to her won. “I’m… I’m not comfortable letting you walk back alone while I’m here. Do you mind if I come with you?”

Her mouth opened in surprise at his request, her eyes widening. “Hum… no. But really, it’s fine, Oliver. You don’t have to.”

“I’d feel much better,” he winced as they started to walk down the street. He saw Tommy leaning against his car on the other side of the road, a smirk on his lips as he opened his door and slipped behind the wheel.

This was a mistake, and he knew it. He should have asked Tommy to drive her home. But the temptation was way too strong. Something was pulling him towards her and no matter how awkward they were, no matter how unnatural it felt to walk by her side and not be able to touch her, to just hold her hand… it still felt good. Warm. Simple.

“So… Thea told me you weren’t interested in jumping back into the family company?” Felicity eventually said as they crossed a street.

“Hum… no. Not right now, for sure. I’m not exactly… up to date.” He coughed, rubbing the back of his head. “Thea is really liking it at Palmer Tech, by the way.”

Felicity grinned, nodding. “Yes. She really settled quite well.”

“Is there… I never asked her but how did she end up working for you in the first place?” He had been wondering about that ever since the day he had found out.

“She hadn’t applied to any colleges and didn’t want to work for Queen Consolidated. Too many painful memories for her, I believe. I… I remembered that you once told me that it was your plan if she was unsure of what to do after high school. I thought… I thought you would have liked it.”

Oliver gulped, noticing the way she was biting her lips nervously. He could still remember that talk he had had with both women, at different times. With Thea, it had been on the Gambit. With Felicity, it had been at the mansion. He had no idea how Felicity had even remembered it three years later.

“Thank you,” he eventually said. “For being there for her. It really means a lot.”

Felicity smiled softly as she shifted her hold on the paper bag.

“Here,” he whispered as he reached out to grab it from her, “let me.”

He didn’t like to have his hands full, preferring to be free in case of an attack, but it was either holding her food or grabbing her hand.

“Thank you,” she whispered with a glance. They resumed their walk in silence, Oliver too conflicted to start a conversation. He had pushed her away, and he hadn’t changed his mind. It was probably better to keep things as formal as possible.

“You know… there is something that has been bothering me,” Felicity eventually said as they were approaching her building.

Frowning, Oliver turned his head to face her. “About what?”

“About you. Your father dying. The gas explosion. I know you told me that the letter he left you probably had nothing to do with him dying but it doesn’t change the fact that in the span of half a year, there were three tragedies hitting your family.”

Keeping his face neutral, Oliver nodded. “I know. I just think it was… some very unfortunate coincidences. It happens.”

“And is this what you believe? That it’s just a few coincidences?” she asked, tilting her head. He forced himself to keep his eyes ahead because they were approaching dangerous territory.

“I’ve accepted it. I think we all should leave the past behind us, Felicity.”

“I investigated your… disappearance, you know. It was intriguing Thea and it also left me with more questions than answers. Someone stole all my research last night. Don’t you think that if it really was just a matter of coincidences, there would be nothing to find and therefore, nothing to steal?”

Oliver let out a deep sigh. Of course. She wasn’t about to give up. “Mom told me dad was… somehow involved with… corrupt people. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow they found out about this.”

“Yes… yes, that is something I have thought about.”

“I hope you won’t keep searching for something that doesn’t exist. I… it’s just not worth it, Felicity. And it’s pointless.”

They stopped at the entrance of her building, Oliver silently cursing when he saw the stubborn expression on her face. She observed him for a few moments, then eventually nodded.

“Dig told me mostly the same thing… I hope my instincts are wrong because if they’re not, that means that the Gambit sinking might not have been an accident. And if it wasn’t an accident… they might come for you again.”

“No one will come for me. I’ve been back for days now and nothing has happened to me. Listen, I understand… it must have been hard and… knowing you like I do, you probably dove head first into this whole mystery. But I’m home, now. I’m safe and I have no reason to think anyone is after me. I just don’t want to think about the past anymore. I want to look forward.”

“I understand. I just hope you know that if you ever need my help… for whatever reason, I’m here. I’m still your friend.”

There was so much tenderness and sadness in her eyes that he almost caved in. His hold on the bag tightened as he forced himself to not reach out to her and kiss her senseless. He hated to see her sad. He hated even more to know he was the one causing her pain.

“I’m not sure I’ll make a good friend, you know,” he huffed out a dry laugh, trying to change the mood.

“I’d say walking me back to my place to make sure I’m safe kinda proves that you’re very good friend material,” she winked as she took the bag out of his hands. “Even if it was completely unnecessary. I can take care of myself.”

Don’t I know it.

“I should go. My burger is going to get cold.”

“Yes. Same. I’m… I’m going out with Tommy tonight. A new club, downtown.”

Her smile froze as she lowered her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she looked at him again, biting her lips. “I wouldn’t want to hold you back. Have a good night, Oliver. Tell Tommy I’m sorry you were held up.”

With a small wave, she turned around, fishing for her keys in her purse. Quickly unlocking the door, she paused for the briefest second when she saw him still standing on the pavement, like the dumb idiot he was. Their gazes locked for a second before she closed the door behind her.

God, he felt like a dick. He was so torn, so conflicted about what he knew he was supposed to do and what his heart was screaming at him. Get there! Ring the bell, beg her to let you in!

“Are you going to stay here all night? And if so, do you need moral support? Ice-cream, chocolate to drown your heartache?... Ibuprofen for your menstrual cramps, maybe?”

“How long have you been here?” Oliver sighed, turning around to face his best friend.

“I was parked further down the street. Just wanted to know if you needed a ride or not. I was really hoping you’d get another kind of ride if you ask me-”

“Which I’m not,” Oliver cut him off.

“But since you’re being your usual thick self, I doubt any kind of riding will occur in the foreseeable future,” Tommy finished, completely unfazed by the interruption. He let out a deep sigh. “Seriously. The night is falling, you just walked her home, the moon is bright, the birds are chirping and you just… stand there, staring at that door like my dog stares at a bag of chips. Drool included.”

“First of all, the moon isn’t bright yet. There are no birds chirping. And I wasn’t… I wasn’t drooling,” he finished, gritting his teeth.

“I know a lost cause when I see one,” Tommy exhaled slowly. “Do you need a ride or not?”

“No. My bike is parked behind the Big Belly Burger.”

“Your bike?” Tommy asked, raising his eyebrows. “I thought you had stopped that when you turned 21.”

“I guess I changed my mind.”

“Just like you apparently changed your mind about a night at the club?”

“... shut up. It’s better that way.”

“Yeah… lying to the girl you love is always the best solution. Remind me to never ask you for advice when I meet the future Mrs Merlyn.”

“If I have to give advice to anyone, it will be to her,” Oliver smirked. “Whoever she is… that poor girl will need it.”

 

 

The next Friday, Oliver was still going through Robert’s other agenda that Diggle had managed to find. It had taken much longer than they had thought to finally get their hands on the binder. He had also checked all of Felicity’s documents, not surprised at all to see how thorough she had been. Diggle had also explained, in much more detail, the way Moira had stopped financing the investigation, as well as her weird reaction when Felicity had confronted her about it.

He had noticed how much Moira had changed in the last years. She was colder, in many ways. Had she, too, found out that Robert wasn’t the honorable man everyone thought he was? He knew, from his father’s letter, that Moira hadn’t been involved. Was she trying to protect Thea and her family’s reputation? Had she just given an excuse to Felicity to make sure she wouldn’t uncover something that would only bring another scandal to their household? What was she fearing exactly? How much did she know about his father’s actions? Had she been threatened like Felicity?

He had so many questions, and the only way to get answers would be to ask her directly. How exactly, he didn’t know, but he would have to find a way.

His first instinct had been to keep everyone out of everything. He had never thought his mother might know more and would force him to change his plans.

 

***

 

Friday at last.

 

Felicity let out a big sigh of relief when she finally walked out of a meeting that had lasted much longer than expected. A few months ago, one of Palmer Tech's executives had come up with the idea to relocate most of their factories to countries where labor cost was… minimal. It would allow them to have a much bigger budget for their research department, but Felicity had opposed it vehemently. PT had a reputation of being a responsible, eco-friendly company and was more than thriving financially speaking. So she had compromised with Ray and had asked for a survey to gauge the reasons why people bought PT products. The results had dropped about a month earlier and had confirmed what Felicity had said: Palmer Tech’s reputation was too important to take risks with it. Since the company was ever expanding its market, they needed more factories and had decided to stay as local as possible. It had been Felicity’s main mission lately to find former factories that could be bought and reopened. It would have probably been easier to buy acres of land and build afresh but she wanted to diminish the environmental impact as much as possible. Modernizing and rehabilitating former factories was much more responsible than starting from scratch.

And that was the reason why she was currently making her way back to Starling, having signed the papers for two factories just outside of the city limits. She had managed to get a good price for the two properties and was quite pleased with the cost savings. It would take around six to twelve months to have the first one ready to roll, which was cutting the waiting time by half if they had had to build the building first. Another drastic saving of money. Sure it took much more time and energy to negotiate, but the end result was more than worth it.

The highway was very busy, everyone going back home for the weekend. Fingers drumming against her thigh, she turned on the radio to keep her company as she was waiting patiently. She hadn’t moved at all in the last five minutes. Not too far away from her, she could see an exit that would take her to the Glades - not exactly her direction but she knew that the traffic would be much lighter there. It took her more than forty minutes to get there and it was with a deep sigh that she finally sped up. A quick glance at the clock told her it was already 6PM but, as she had suspected, the streets were mostly empty. After all, it wasn’t exactly a neighborhood with a lot of activity. She came to a stop at a red light, her eyes roaming across the road. She didn’t know this part of town really well apart from the main street but that wasn’t what caught her attention.

Rodwell St.

She frowned, the name familiar for some reason. It was just when the light was turning green that she remembered. The second warehouse that she had never checked, the one paid for by Jones and Lewis, the private agency hired by Moira Queen… that’s where it was. In Rodwell Street. On an impulse, she turned right instead of going forward. It was still daylight, and she would just throw an eye. No mission, nothing dangerous. Just… checking and tying one last loose end.

Her phone rang as she was driving slowly, checking the buildings. She could still remember the facade of the one she was looking for, but she knew it had changed since Google View had taken the pictures, so the task wasn’t that easy.

She grabbed her earpiece, picking up once it was securely in place.

“Hello?”

“Felicity?”

She smiled, recognizing Dig’s voice. “Hi, Dig.”

“Hi. Listen, I am running a bit late. I won’t be at your place for about two hours. Start eating without me, OK?”

“Oh. No problem. I am running quite late myself, actually. That meeting lasted much longer than I thought.”

“Where are you? You must be stuck in traffic at this time.”

“In the Glades. I took a shortcut and… the craziest thing happened, I was just waiting for the light to turn green and I realized I was right next to that second warehouse I never checked.”

“... Tell me you’re not actually checking the place.”

“Relax. It’s still daylight, I’m just going to throw an eye, see if there’s anything. No breaking in, no snooping, just… you know… check if it’s possible to hide a boat in there or what kind of security they have.”

“Felicity, the Glades are not a safe place and you know what happened last time.”

“Dig, I’m not going to be reckless, don’t worry. I’m right here, might as well give it a look.”

“Fe… not safe… you… morrow.”

She frowned as more cracking sounds were heard. “Dig, I’m sorry I can’t hear you. Don’t worry, I’ll be home soon.”

“... hear… you… not…”

The call disconnected then and she shrugged. She finally found a spot on the curb and she quickly parked. Deep down, she knew she had no business being there. But the temptation was too big.

Grabbing her purse, she threw it across her shoulder like a messenger bag. Her taser was safely stored in the front pocket, a promise she had made to Dig and had always kept ever since she had moved to Manhattan. As she locked her car, she glanced around her. It was mostly deserted, apart from a few homeless people who looked rather harmless. There were also a few houses on the other side of the street, and she could see children playing in small, unkempt gardens. Fortunately, she was wearing her flats, having changed from her heels before getting into her car. After less than five minutes, she eventually found what she was looking for. The warehouse was big, but dated and seemingly abandoned. She still walked past the old, rusty fence, thinking peeking an eye in the back wouldn’t hurt.

She could still hear the echo of the children’s playful screams along with the soft noise of her steps on the macadam. Her shoulders slumped when she saw a broken door, the building obviously deserted. At least she knew for sure, now. There was nothing to find there.

Turning around, she walked back to the front and had just walked past the fence when someone gripped her arm from behind. She jerked, on instinct, her mouth opening to let out a scream but a hand covered her lips right away. Struggling, she kicked back, her hand trying to reach inside her purse while she was taken into a small, dark alley. She could feel her panic rising but she forced it back down, knowing she needed her brain more than ever. She stopped fighting against the man - because it was obviously a man - for a few seconds, who loosened his grip in reaction. She bit his hand as hard as she could, feeling utter satisfaction at his yelp of pain. He turned her around, and before she could move, she felt a burning pain on her cheek, where he had slapped her. She yelled then, a loud, powerful scream.

“Bitch,” the man, who must have been in his forties, snarled. Using his bodyweight, he pushed her against a wall, his forearm on her throat while he dug into her purse with his other hand. She could barely breathe, let alone scream again, a part of her relieved that he was apparently only after her money. If only he had said so, she probably would have given him her wallet. There were a few black dots dancing in front of her eyes, but suddenly her throat was free and she took big gulps of air, knowing she probably should run, but unable to make her muscles move yet.

She scrambled for purchase against the wall, her breathing still heavy and ragged and it took her a few seconds to understand the scene in front of her. The man had not run away. He was currently kneeling on the ground, his hand covering a bleeding nose. A taller, more buff man was hovering above him. He turned to face her and she gasped, his face safely hidden by a balaclava. Could it be… but how?!

“Oh my God,” she breathed, unable to tear her eyes off him. Ski-mask dude.

“Are you alright?” he grunted, raising his hands to reassure her. The gesture awoke something her, something vague that she pushed back as soon as she saw a flash of light behind him. She shouted “knife!” and took a few steps back, moving out of the way. She looked around her, trying to find a weapon, or anything, until she remembered her taser. Fishing in her purse, her hand found nothing and she groaned, narrowing her eyes and looking on the ground, where the guy had probably dropped it while searching her handbag. She froze suddenly when she saw her attacker launching forward, obviously trying to get to her.

He didn’t have the time to reach her, though. She heard a loud growl, full of anger and rage before her guardian angel pounced on him, a loud crack echoing in the alley when he broke the wrist that was holding the knife.

Felicity gulped, horrified, as the knife was thrown away, landing at her feet. She picked it up, ready to hand it to the man who had, once again, come to her rescue but she stopped when she realized that he didn’t need any weapon. He was punching the man, on his face, his chest, his arms, anywhere his fists could land.

She was glued to her spot, oddly fascinated by the scene. Punch. Crack. Punch. Crack. The sounds were strangely clear as she stood there, hypnotized by the unbridled rage that had taken over the man with the balaclava.

How had he found her? Was he following her? Why was he so adamant on protecting her? Why did she feel so safe with him, even though she had the living proof, in front of her, that he could be more than lethal?

“Who hired you?” he growled between two punches.

“No… no one.”

“Why are you after her?”

“Money and… I just wanted to have fun.”

“Wrong answer,” he snarled as his hands circled the man’s neck.

For some weird reason, seeing the man who had tried to assault her struggling, his hands reaching out to grab onto the arms that were currently strangling him, made her realize how big the biceps were. It was odd to notice something like that at that time, while a man was being choked to death in front of her eyes.

And suddenly, she couldn’t hear anything anymore. Couldn’t hear the panting, the grunting coming from both men as a buzzing sound took over her ears.

Scenes flashed through her eyes, so fast that they almost left her dizzy.

A large bicep underneath her hand, so much larger than in her memories.

The way ski-mask dude had raised his hands in reassurance every time she had met him… the same way Oliver had done when she had visited him at the Queen Mansion.

How Oliver had been so worried at the idea of her walking home alone, yet hadn’t seemed fazed at all at the mention of the burglar who had broken into her apartment.

His burst of violence at the Mansion when she had left.

The way he had been pushing her away.

The lies.

It was as if every single piece of the puzzle suddenly fell into place.

Oliver. It was Oliver.

How, she didn’t know but there was no doubt. The man who had been protecting her was Oliver.

It was enough to shake her out of her trance as the buzzing sound suddenly vanished, the world coming into focus again while Oliver was still squeezing the man’s throat.

“Stop! Stop it!” she yelled, trying to get his attention, realizing that he wasn’t hearing her anymore. She tried to walk to him and shake his shoulder but he barely reacted, his entire attention focused on the man who was slowly turning blue.

Almost desperate, she considered hitting him with her taser but the idea of hurting him was repulsive to her. This was her Oliver, the man she loved, the man who had already suffered too much, even by her own hand once. Yet, she needed to get through to him somehow… without calling out his name and betraying his secret.

And suddenly, instinctively, she knew what to say to get him back to her.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Purple Rain"

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain

I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend
Baby I could never steal you from another
It's such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

I only want to see you underneath the purple rain

Honey I know, I know, I know times are changing
It's time we all reach out for something new
That means you too
You say you want a leader
But you can't seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

If you know what I'm singing about up here
C'mon raise your hand

Purple rain Purple rain

I only want to see you, only want to see you
In the purple rain

 

 

 

"Money and… I just wanted to have fun.”

Oliver saw red. The very little control he still had over himself finally slipped. He had been in the foundry with Diggle when Felicity had called and before the call was even over, he was already climbing up the stairs, remembering exactly where the warehouse was located. He had checked the building himself a few days ago and knew the neighborhood wasn’t exactly friendly. Fortunately, it had only taken him five minutes to arrive, his bike allowing him some very precious shortcuts. He hadn’t found her though and his heart had started to hammer inside his chest because he had passed her car on his way. Yet she had been nowhere to be seen. Until he had heard it. That blood curdling scream that had twisted his insides.

Then, everything had been a blur until that utterly satisfying moment where he had his hands around the neck of the man who had dared to touch her. It felt good to let the rage take over, the frustrations he had kept bottled up finally finding a way out. He wasn’t thinking anymore, just letting his body act on pure instinct. He felt Felicity’s hands on his shoulders but he just shrugged, entirely focused on the man who was a threat to her. He needed to eradicate the threat and then he’d make sure she was safe.

Until he heard those two little words, with a clarity that was almost blinding. They instantly awoke a memory he had buried a long time ago.

 

“Let’s make a deal. Everytime I become too controlling, you just tell me ‘puzzle piece’. And I will do the same when you forget I’m by your side and have the perfect shoulder for you to lean on.”

“Like a safeword in a BDSM relationship?” Felicity giggled, the mood suddenly lighter.

Oliver shook his head, grinning. “Yeah… I guess, yeah.”

 

He froze then, because he suddenly remembered where he was and what he was about to do. His hands let go of the man’s neck and he stood up, rubbing his face, trying to clear his thoughts.

Puzzle piece. How had that stupid, meaningless little joke been able to shake him out of his trance? Something he had quite honestly forgotten had apparently been lurking in his subconscious all these years. As if even when he had tried his hardest to forget about her, his soul had engraved each memory and kept them safe.

It took a few seconds for his brain to come to grips with the meaning of those words coming from her lips.

She knew.

Felicity obviously knew who he was.

The man he had just beat up was coughing, trying to catch his breath and already crawling away from him. He let him go, watching him, unable to turn around and face her.

“Please look at me,” Felicity said softly from behind his back once the man had run away.

He didn’t want to. He didn’t want to see her eyes, to see fear and disgust. He felt her hand, so small, against his shoulder, the touch light and hesitant.

She is afraid of you.

In the end, he knew they had to leave. This place wasn’t safe and he’d feel much better once she was far away from it. He slowly turned around, his hands held out in defense to make sure she’d understand he wouldn’t hurt her.

“I… How did you know?” he eventually asked, keeping his eyes down. His voice was still much lower than usual, but this time it was due to his throat being constricted.

Felicity slowly raised her hands, hovering over the hem of the ski-mask. Slowly, almost reverently, she pulled it up and he let her do. It was pointless now, anyway.

“No mask on earth could hide you from me, Oliver,” she whispered as she smoothed the fabric over his forehead. She let her fingers travel down to his jaws, stroking his stubble. “Look at me.”

He gritted his teeth then, the bitter taste of shame invading his mouth. He had never wanted her to see him that way. She remembered him as an easy-going, fun, caring man and he had wanted so much for her to keep that image of him. It was all that was left of Oliver Queen. It was all that was left of the man she had loved.

Forcing his gaze up, he met her eyes, surprised to see the tears. She was smiling at him, a small, soft and understanding smile that made his heart flutter. He could see she had many questions but… she wasn’t judging him.

“Are you alright?” she asked and he huffed out a dry laugh. How ironic. He should be the one asking her that.

“Are you?” he replied, slightly shaking his head.

“He didn’t hurt me,” she mumbled as she delicately took his hand between hers, stroking his bruised knuckles. It suddenly dawned on him that she knew. She knew. All his efforts, the struggles to keep her away and safe from everything had just been destroyed.

“It’s not safe here. You need to go back home,” he grumbled, taking his hand away and lowering the balaclava to his eyes. He picked up the few belongings that had been scattered on the ground, shoving them into her handbag. “I’ll follow you to make sure you make it there safely.”

“... what? You think I’m going home? I want answers, Oliver. I deserve answers!” she hissed as she followed him out of the alley and back into the main street. “How did you know I was here? Have you been following me around? How long were you planning to lie to me? And… where did you even learn how to fight?!”

Shaking his head, he wordlessly led her to her car. She huffed, but kept silent as she followed him.

They stopped in front of her car, Oliver waiting for her to open the door. She turned to face him, hands on her hips, a stubborn expression on her face. That’s when he noticed a smear of red on her arm.

“You’re bleeding,” he cursed as he noticed the small cut on her forearm. It wasn’t deep, but it still needed cleaning and maybe a few butterfly stitches.

“Don’t try to… oh,” she frowned, then rummaged through her purse until she found a small pack of kleenex. She patted the small wound, mumbling, “we need to talk Oliver. And right now.”

He sighed deeply, understanding it would be pointless to ask her to wait. He needed to tend that wound anyway. “Let me go get my bike and then follow me.”

It was much darker now even if the night hadn’t fallen yet. Big heavy clouds were obscuring the sky, and the light was diminishing rapidly. He ran to get his bike, uncomfortable at the idea of leaving her alone, even for less than a minute. The ride to the foundry took longer. He was driving slowly, making sure she was still behind him. And if he was totally honest, he also had to admit he was in no hurry to make it there. Emotions were swirling in his head. Fear, relief, worry, hope, guilt. He tried to come up with a reasonable explanation, one that would still keep her mostly in the dark but came up empty. Was it because a part of him desperately wanted to let her in? Or was he just tired of pretending?

They finally arrived at the steel factory and he led her to the back of the building, noticing right away despite the darkness that Dig’s car was there as well. He honestly didn’t know what to do or say because  none of his plans had ever even considered the possibility that Felicity might know the truth. At least not so quickly.

 

***

 

As Felicity was following Oliver, deeper into the Glades instead of either her place or the Mansion, her brain was working overtime. So many questions. She had so many questions. How? How did he find her, how did he learn to fight, to use a gun? Why did he keep her out of the loop? Didn’t he trust her?

She was mad, she was astonished, she was intrigued, she was sad, she was worried. If there was a competition for the highest number of emotions felt at the exact same time, she’d win it with flying colors.

Oliver eventually stopped after leading her behind an old, completely abandoned factory. The sun was slowly setting, and there was a humidity in the air announcing either the rain or a storm. It was getting dark, but not enough for her to not notice that this place clearly wasn’t any more welcoming than the one they had just left.

She slammed her door closed, the resulting bang echoing loudly in the empty open space.

“Seriously? You couldn’t talk to me there because it was too dangerous, and you bring me… here?” Felicity snapped, walking furiously towards him as he took off his helmet and balaclava.

“How did you know?” he asked, ignoring her ire.

“How did I know it was you?” she replied, taken aback. She hadn’t expected that question. She wasn’t even sure she had an answer because it had been several little details, her instincts doing most of the work. “I… I know you, Oliver. I know your body, even if it has changed. Especially if it has changed, did you think I wouldn’t notice the size of your arms? I could probably recognize you with my eyes closed, it was just a matter of time! I didn’t that first night because… well, in my defense you were supposed to be dead. But then… then I kept wondering why the dude in the ski-mask kept coming back in my dreams, the way he had raised his hands. It’s… that’s how you placate me, Oliver. You raise your hands in defense and cock your head to the side. Then you showed up at my apartment, which by the way is not OK and we're so gonna talk about this later, and... and I felt safe. I never felt in danger even though I should have. Something was nagging me but... rationally speaking it wasn't making sense. Also, the room was pitch dark. And the next day, you got worried at the idea of me walking home alone but didn’t flinch when I told you someone had broken into my place... I think my guts were trying to tell me but it took my brain a few days to put the pieces in the right place.”

She paused then, rubbing her forehead, trying to gather her thoughts. “Were you ever going to tell me?”

The way he bowed his head and pinched his lips gave her the answer. Her heart heavy, she nodded, folding her arms protectively around her chest. “Why? Did you think I would betray you?”

No matter what he had done, she wouldn’t have pushed him away, not if he had needed her help. It hurt her that he could even imagine she would turn her back on him.

“... I didn’t want to put you in a difficult position, Felicity.”

She observed him, trying to decipher his thoughts. He used to be an open book for her but now it was much harder to read him. She could still sense his lies, obviously, but it wasn’t as easy as it used to be. “It’s OK if you don’t want to tell me everything, but please don’t lie to me. Don’t push me away again. You know you can trust me.”

Oliver shook his head, his hands gripping his hair in obvious frustration. She could see that he was battling with himself. She let him sort his thoughts out, knowing that the mere fact she was standing in front of him was enough to remind him she at least needed some answers.

“I… I was with some people who… told me that someone sabotaged the Gambit,” he finally said, dropping his arms to his sides.

Her jaw dropped, because no matter how suspicious she had been all this time, there was no way she could have expected him to know even more about it. “Who?” she eventually breathed. “Who told you and… how do they know?”

“It… it doesn’t matter who they are. Just know that they are not good people. But they taught me how to fight and… other skills. They have ears and eyes everywhere and that’s how I found out there was a contract on your head. Whoever made the Gambit sink also went after you so you wouldn’t find anything.”

“You mean… that night, you knew someone was going to attack me?”

“No… yes. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew it was bound to happen. They weren’t asked to kill you, though, if that makes you feel better.”

Yeah… nope.

“... why?” she asked, frowning. That made little sense.

“You were probably getting close to something that could incriminate them?” Oliver offered. “I’ve seen everything you’ve found, there has to be something in there that could lead you to them.”

“No, no that’s not what I meant,” she shook her head. “I meant why didn’t they just kill me?”

Oliver gasped, his eyes wide and it felt weirdly good to see his mask slip. “You should be happy they didn’t!”

Rolling her eyes, Felicity huffed. “Of course I am, Oliver! But they didn’t hesitate to kill you and the crew and… oh God poor Andrew. Why do they suddenly feel nervous about me, who is, quite honestly, just a nobody?”

“They didn’t want to attract attention. Felicity you’re not a nobody, you’re the Vice-President of one of the wealthiest companies in the country.”

“Still, it makes no sense. They blew up a helicopter and a freaking boat, Oliver. I assume your father was murdered too, am I right?”

“I think so, yes. The letter… wasn’t about Isabel but about how he had been involved with the wrong crowd and how he was fearing they might get to him.”

“So if killing Robert Queen and then his heir didn’t bother them, why would they even hesitate with me?”

Oliver frowned. “I… I don’t know. I assumed that they probably underestimated you and thought you were no real threat.”

“Oh. Yeah… yes, probably,” Felicity whispered. She still thought it was weird that the same people who hadn’t hesitated to kill so many innocents just to get to Robert and Oliver would suddenly play it safe. But there was no point in dwelling on that. “So, you got intel about a contract on my head, and… how long did you follow me around?”

“Almost a week. I had to leave to head to Long Beach afterwards.”

“Yeah, that whole boat story is completely fake, right?”

“Yes. I needed a way to be back in Starling as soon as possible. But I was stranded on an island for a while. That much is true.”

“Oh my God, Oliver, this is so confusing,” she groaned, squeezing her eyes shut. “You were on an island, then not anymore, and met those people who told you about the Gambit and taught you how to become a ninja in your spare time, but you never once thought about telling your family that you were alive? Telling me? How… how could you?!”

“I didn’t have a choice, Felicity. I had to pay a debt when I got rescued. I wasn’t free. Those people… are very dangerous. Had I left or let anyone know… my mom, Thea, you… I would have put you at risk.”

A small glimpse in his eyes made her understand right away that whatever that debt was, it wasn’t about money. It was obvious he didn’t want to talk about it, though, so she didn’t push it. She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly, knowing she would have to be patient with him. More than she had ever been, probably.

“Once I was told you were in danger, I left Russia-”

Russia?!

“-as soon as possible so I could look after you. But then I realized that even with my warnings, even when you saw the danger you could be in, you had no intention to stop. That’s why I had to come up with a plan in order to be officially back… so you would stop searching for answers. I would also attract the danger directly to myself and hopefully… my plan was that it would have been enough to keep you safe. I… there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect you, Felicity.”

Wait… what?

“It wasn’t… it wasn’t your plan all along? You weren’t waiting for a boat to arrive in Long Beach?”

“... No.”

“You didn’t plan on coming back?” she breathed, her eyes widening. To think that he had even considered staying away from them, never letting them know he was alive… She had to take a deep breath to get control of her emotions. Anger. There was definitely anger, because who on earth doesn’t let their loved ones know they are alive? How could he even think they’d be better off not knowing? Yet, one look at him and she felt that anger vanish. There was so much pain and fear in his eyes that all she could feel was sadness, a deep, profound sadness at the idea that she might have never seen him again. Whatever had happened to him, whatever had been done to him… it had been damaging enough that Oliver truly, honestly believed he was making the right decision by staying away.

“I’m not the same man. I didn’t lie about that, Felicity. You saw it yourself, you saw what I did to those men. I… I don’t really belong here anymore. I don’t… It’s not where I belong.”

“Where do you belong now?” she asked softly, her heart aching for him.

Oliver huffed out a small, sad laugh. “I don’t know.”

She should have been pissed. She should have screamed at him for even thinking about staying away from her, while she had cried for him so much. But she couldn’t. All she could see was how lost he was, and how terribly alone. And seeing him like that hurt her as much as his absence had. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for this man, and that included moving past those lies. For now. Now wasn’t the time for that. It would come, and they would talk but Oliver obviously was nowhere near ready. She could still remember John’s words about PTSD and knew that there was a time for everything. She wouldn’t pressure him or corner him. First, she would show him she was still there for him and that she was not going to run away. She would prove to him he could count on her, lean on her and trust her first. She had no idea what he had endured during those three years but it had clearly left a mark, much deeper than she had thought. But it had also left a mark on her.

“I love you,” she said calmly, her eyes never leaving his. She had to tell him, she had to let him know that she loved him. She wasn’t sure he was able to accept her words yet but she had to say them.

Oliver’s breath hitched as his eyes widened and it occurred to her that he probably never expected her to still love him.

Oh, Oliver… you big dumb pine tree. As if I could stop loving you.

With a deep breath, she repeated, her voice stronger despite the big lump in her throat. “I love you. I spent three years, three whole years with regrets eating me alive because I never got to tell you. I am not waiting another minute. I know you’ve changed, and I have too. But Oliver, I love you. You can doubt everything, you can question your place in this life, you can think you’ll never fit back in or that you don’t belong here but don’t you ever doubt that I love you. I should have told you before you left and I am so, so sorry that I didn’t. I’m sorry, Oliver.” She bit her lips, blinking to get rid of the tears she could feel gathering in her eyes.

Oliver stared at her, furrowing his brow as if he was trying to solve a complex problem. “I…” he coughed, clearing his throat. “I knew, Felicity.”

“I know, everyone kept telling me that,” she sniffled, shaking her head. “But you never heard those words coming from me and that was all I could think about.”

“No,” Oliver said softly. “I knew, Felicity. You told me, that last night. During our Skype call? You were falling asleep and you said it.”

Felicity froze, his words registering. It wasn’t possible. “Oliver, I heard the disconnecting sound.”

“Thea was calling me. That’s the sound you heard. I… I always knew.”

Felicity shifted on her feet, feeling like she was losing her balance. All those regrets that had slowly eaten away a little piece of her soul… all that guilt, all those times she had whispered those three little words to his picture because it was all she had left of him… and he had known all along. She wiped her cheeks, feeling the wetness of her tears as a sob tore through her throat. She collapsed against a wall as she tried to get control over herself. She saw Oliver approaching her but she just shook her head, trying to push him away.

“Felicity, please, don’t cry,” Oliver murmured as she hid her face in her arms, sobs racking through her body. She forced herself to breathe, to take long, deep gulps of air. It took her a few minutes but she eventually calmed down. The tears were still running, but the sobbing had died down.

“Those three years were hell, Oliver. I lost you. Forever. I had to accept that you were never coming back, had to accept I’d never wake up in your arms again. I had to face that life that was ahead of me, a life without you and I was never able to really let go. And now you’re back, by some miracle and… and I saw you at the hospital, I saw your eyes. You have changed, I know but deep down, you’re still the man I fell in love with. The way you touched me is the same way you used to three years ago. So why are you pushing me away? I can’t lose you twice, Oliver. I… I can’t go through that again,” she eventually said through hiccups, her voice breaking.

Oliver handed her her purse and she rummaged through it until she found a kleenex. She blew her nose, completely uncaring how unladylike she sounded or looked. She was exhausted. Emotionally speaking, she was on her last legs.

She tried to step away when Oliver closed the gap between them in a few steps but the wall behind her forced her in place. No matter how much she was craving him, she knew she couldn’t take being rebuffed again.

Oliver delicately wiped the last tears from her cheeks, his thumbs grazing her skin as softly as possible. “I’m sorry, Felicity. I’m sorry I hurt you. All I ever wanted was to protect you and keep you safe. I can’t stand the idea of anything happening to you, especially if it’s because of me. I want to find who killed my father, so I can avenge him and make sure they never hurt anybody else ever again. I had to stay away from you because my life is going to be dangerous. I never wanted to be the one to cause you any pain, but there was no other way. I had to stay away from you because… because you’re my weakness. It would be obvious to anyone that the best way to get to me is through you. You were already on their radar, I managed to take care of that but… what would be the point if I’m the one bringing you back on it? I need to do something… they have to pay for what they did.”

“Then let me help you, Oliver!” Felicity snapped, pushing his hands away. “I could be useful, I have skills and resources that you do not have!”

“It’s my mission. Not yours.” Oliver shook his head, letting his arms fall limply by his sides. “I won’t drag you into this. I would never, never forgive myself if anything happened to you.”

Felicity shook her head, knowing she wouldn’t back down on this. “It became my mission too when they took you away from me, Oliver.”

He bowed his head, his shoulders slumping as he murmured, “I’m not worth the risk, Felicity.”

Her heart aching for him, Felicity cradled his face, forcing him to meet her eyes. “You are worth everything to me. I’m not going to let you throw away what we have. Do you remember when I left QC and you...you wanted me to fight for us? Well, this is me fighting now. You have changed, but so have I. Unless…” she gulped, her fingers shaking against his jaw. “Unless you really don’t love me anymore.”

Oliver let out a long breath as he held her gaze, telling her everything she needed to know. Her thumbs slowly stroked his cheeks, trying to reassure him with actions rather than words. She was there, by his side. And there was no other place she’d rather be.

His hand circled her wrist, and for a second her heart sank, thinking he was pushing her away but he gently brought her palm to his lips, kissing it almost reverently. She smiled then, a small shaky smile that grew wider as he repeated the gesture with her other hand before lacing their fingers together and lowering them between their bodies. His thumb was gently stroking her knuckles, their bodies only a few inches apart. He was looking at her so intently, as if he was trying to read her soul, that she found herself prisoner of his eyes. Even if she had wanted to, she would have never been able to look away. She knew then that it wouldn’t be easy. She could see it on his face. Oliver was still struggling. But she wasn’t about to give up the fight easily. They would have to talk because there were things she couldn’t accept but right now all she wanted was to be close to him. They would figure it out together because he wasn’t alone anymore. And neither was she. 

Oliver eventually let go of her hands, only to graze her neck, his fingers tracing the outline of her jaw until he could lace through her hair. With one last sigh, he tilted his head, leaning in until he could brush his lips against hers.

Her breath caught in her throat when she felt him, her eyes fluttering shut. His lips were warm, soft just like in her memories, awakening little butterflies in her stomach, butterflies she hadn’t felt in more than three years. His touch was light, almost hesitant. He was kissing her slowly, leisurely, as if he was savoring her and she pressed herself closer to him, seeking his warmth, her arms circling his neck while he pulled her flush against him. A small moan caught in her throat when she opened her mouth to welcome him, his tongue lazily caressing hers, and she sighed in contentment, happy, utterly happy to be in his arms again, to get to kiss him again. It felt good, it felt so good, the taste of his mouth enough to make her light-headed until she realized she had forgotten to breathe, too caught up in his embrace. They finally parted, both breathless and she clung to his shirt, already seeking another kiss. It had been too long, she needed one more, just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. A big drop falling on her cheek made her stop and she frowned, raising her eyes. It was almost completely dark now, the moonlight bathing them in a small, dim halo but the unmistakable sound of drops hitting the rooftop above them left little to no doubt.

“It’s raining,” she breathed, grinning.

It had been raining the last time they had made love, but it had been in broad daylight in the middle of a meadow. Oliver must have remembered it as well because a smile slowly stretched his lips. In the moonlight, she could just make out his face and the way his eyes wrinkled as he chuckled and it suddenly dawned on her that she hadn’t seen him smile a single time ever since he got back home.

“No,” he mouthed, just like he had three years ago and she couldn’t resist, pulling his head towards her, dying to kiss him again. She felt his smile widening against her lips and she laughed, the sound muffled by his mouth as he deepened the kiss. It wasn’t slow, or lazy, this time. They weren’t rediscovering each other, but letting the passion run free once again. Their kiss was a mix of lips and tongues and teeth, both craving the other one. It was almost as if her body was slowly awakening after a long, long rest, her hands itching to touch him, to feel him underneath her palms. Unable to resist, she opened the zipper of his jacket, then slipped a hand under his shirt. Oliver froze and she paused until he relaxed again, but didn’t move her hand any further. She nestled it on his waist, her thumb stroking soothing circles, his own hand now travelling up her thigh. She bent her leg, her foot nestling in the crook behind his knee. Suddenly, he groaned and let go of her mouth, his nose bumping against hers.

“Stockings? You’re wearing stockings?!” he asked, his voice hoarse.

Biting her lip, she nodded, feeling a small blush creep over her cheeks. “I feel more confident when I wear lingerie. I had an important meeting and-”

Oliver cut her off, his lips landing roughly against hers and it occurred to her that he probably didn’t find that ridiculous… at all. She giggled, wondering if she should tell him who exactly had made her discover that little piece of herself, one day in an office of Queen Consolidated. But Oliver was kissing her now, so thoroughly that any thought other than them in this very moment quickly vanished from her mind. He pushed her against the wall, his body pressing against hers. Burying her hands in his hair, she nibbled on his lower lip as they both tried to catch their breath. Oliver slipped his leg between her thighs and she pushed herself on her toes to grind down on him. His lips traveled down her jaw, suckling a trail over her neck, the stubble on his chin making her shiver with need. She pulled on his hair, her nails scratching his skull and she felt more than heard the deep groan that escaped him, his hand tightening on her thigh in retaliation. His fingertips were rough, making her shiver as his thumb traced slow circles on the naked skin above the stocking. She wanted to feel him. She wanted to feel him everywhere and there were all these clothes in the way, they were behind an abandoned factory in the Glades and she didn’t care. It was almost as if she couldn’t wait another minute. Letting go of his hair, she grabbed his belt, struggling to open it as Oliver pushed his hips towards her.

The hand that wasn’t wreaking havoc on her thigh palmed her ass, roughly, hard enough to leave marks, kneading the soft flesh as he let out a slow moan of appreciation. His fingers were so, so close to where she needed him and she rocked her hips, rubbing against his leg in the process. A small moan escaped her at the flash of pleasure it sent to her core, her heart beating wilder. 

Oliver’s mouth was pressed tightly against her shoulder, his tongue licking the skin then softly biting it, making it really hard for her to focus on her task.

She let out a small cry of triumph when the belt finally gave in, allowing her to open the buttons of his pants. She didn’t waste time, slipping her hand in his pants and palming his length. He was already hard, straining against the fabric of his boxers.

Hissing, Oliver raised his head, meeting her eyes. Her breathing ragged, she glanced at his lips, already craving his mouth again but he leaned back.

“Felicity, maybe we should-”

“Don’t you dare say we should wait. It’s been three years, Oliver, I’m not waiting a minute more,” she cut him off, trying to lower his underwear but his impressive erection wasn’t making it easy for her.

Did it grow bigger like his biceps or…

Oliver dropped his head against her shoulder, a chuckle rumbling his chest. He took a deep breath, then whispered in her ear. “Not that I know of.”

“Hum… sorry. I’m not complaining, you know. But…” she panted, groaning in frustration, “a little help maybe?”

His hands suddenly left her body and she keened, a pitiful cry escaping her. Oliver pressed a little kiss on her lips as he shuffled through his clothes, lowering his pants and underwear then, before she could even question it, his hands were on her ass, lifting her.

She gasped, but he swallowed the sound, murmuring against her lips. “Put your legs around me.”

Oh… wow. I really, really like those new muscles. A+ use of the biceps.

She did as she was told, her arms circling his shoulders for leverage. She could feel him now, hot, hard and impatient, pressing against her panties. Damn. She was still wearing panties.

“Push them to the side,” Oliver ordered, his fingers tightening on her butt. His voice was hoarse, commanding and… damn, it was different. Good different judging by the way her thighs automatically squeezed him in response.

She blinked, her face inches from his and letting her see the hunger in his eyes and she slowly lowered a hand between their bodies, gripping the hem of her lacy panties, pushing them to the side. She held them there, their gazes locking while Oliver adjusted himself, his cock searching for her entrance. He paused once the tip was wedged between her inner lips, finding her opening and she moaned, tightening her hold on him once she felt him there, so close. Dropping his forehead against hers, he slowly pushed in, his eyes squeezing shut. He didn’t stop until he was fully inside her, stretching her almost to the point of pain.

It had been a while, after all.

“You OK?” he whispered, his voice weirdly loud to her ears all of a sudden.

She nodded, unable to form words or even coherent thoughts at the moment, completely overwhelmed by the feeling of him, by their bodies finally joined again.

It felt so utterly, profoundly right.  

Oliver nestled his head in the crook of her neck, his breath hot and humid against her skin, and only then did she notice that the rain had really started to fall. They were mildly protected by the roof, but clearly not enough to avoid most of the drops. She tilted her head back, offering her face to the rain, Oliver’s lips pressing tightly against her neck as she circled his shoulders with both of her arms again. Oliver moved then, sliding out of her, then pressing back. She was completely encased by the wall at her back and Oliver’s body in front of her, safe in his embrace.

She could hear Oliver’s moans as he thrust inside her, his rhythm picking up and all she could do was kiss his jaw, his ear, his temple, any place she could reach. He was tensing in her arms, his hands gripping her butt tightly as his hips slammed against her. She nudged his jaw with her nose, panting his name until he raised his head, his mouth already on hers in a hot, hungry kiss. Her fingers were digging into his neck, pulling on his hair as he was swallowing her moans. The rain was falling on their joined lips, and she could taste it on his tongue. It was cooling her heated body, bringing goosebumps on her skin but she wasn’t cold, and she knew she’d never be cold again. He was there, he was with her, inside her… he was where he belonged.

It felt good, it felt so, so good, a warmth spreading in her abdomen, despite the slight discomfort of his rough thrusting. She forgot about everything, the rain, the fact that they were outside, the wall burning her skin, the rough friction of his pants against her naked thighs. Her entire body was completely focused on this man, her man, and how desperate he was for her, for the relief she could bring him. She had to tell him, she had to show him without words how much she had missed him. There was a pleasure growing inside her, something warm and soft bubbling up, making her toes curl but she knew it wasn't the old familiar wave. It was different, rooted directly in her heart and she savored it, savored the way their bodies were moving together, erasing the years apart.

She could feel Oliver tensing, getting closer to his release and she hummed, encouraging him to let go. This time would be for him.

“Felicity, touch yourself,” he groaned, almost desperately, as his hips started to lose any kind of rhythm. He buried his face in her neck, his lips tightly pressed against her throat, his breath sending shivers down her spine.

She heard him, heard his words but couldn’t bring herself to move, her face snuggling in his shoulder, holding him tight against her, afraid to let go even for one second now that he was finally back in her arms.

Oliver suddenly growled, shuddering as he pushed hard against her and she mewled when she felt his pleasure, his hips jerking as he emptied himself inside her, a deep satisfied sigh spilling from his lips.

Her fingers were stroking the back of his neck, her body relaxing even though she hadn’t climaxed herself. It was almost as if she had needed the emotional connection more than physical pleasure. His hair was damp, and she could feel drops falling on her neck as well, her nerve endings hyper aware of every contact. She felt… good. She felt wonderfully good. She breathed him in, and it soothed her just as much as the way he was still tightly holding her against him.

She felt the tension slowly leave his body and she pressed a soft kiss against his throat, perfectly content. Even with the rain falling, she would gladly stay there for as long as he wanted.

Oliver was panting, leaning heavily against her as he tried to catch his breath and she smiled, knowing she had given him something he had been needing for a while. A connection, intimacy, the proof that she still loved him beyond words. It had been rough and fast and probably miles away from what it should have been but she didn’t care. They had both needed that moment, desperately, and it had been way too long anyway. If there was one thing she had learned it was that life was short and waiting for the perfect time was pointless. As long as it was the two of them, as long as they loved each other, every moment would be perfect. 

His lips were still pressed tightly against her neck, right underneath her ear when he shifted, and she moaned when he left her body, already craving him back inside. He didn’t move any more, though, still holding her, as close to him as he could, apparently as reluctant as she was to let go even for one second.  

They stayed like that for probably a few more minutes, neither of them caring that they were almost drenched to the bone, holding onto each other so tightly that even a sheet of paper wouldn’t have been able to slip between their bodies. Felicity finally opened her eyes when she heard the thunder, far away in the distance.The rain was now falling hard and fast around them, above them, a small fog rising from the ground.

“I love you,” he murmured, so low she almost didn’t hear him.

Her lips trembled at his admission, at the emotions that were literally pouring out of his words and she softly kissed his cheek, the touch so oddly innocent after what they had just done.

Oliver eventually raised his head, meeting her eyes. “I never stopped loving you.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Demons"

 

 

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood's run stale

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There's nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide
Don't get too close
It's dark inside
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide

At the curtain's call
It's the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don't wanna let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don't wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide
Don't get too close
It's dark inside
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide

They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide
Don't get too close
It's dark inside
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide

 

“Come on,” Oliver said as he finally lowered her to the ground. It was still raining heavily and even though Felicity had been protected by the wall and his body, she was still drenched - and so was he, despite his jacket. He quickly fixed his pants while she straightened her dress, then he grabbed her hand to guide her towards the small hidden entrance.

He went straight to the small bathroom, where there was always a stock of towels. “Wait for me, I’ll get you some clothes,” he murmured before closing the door behind him. He saw the surprise on her face, but she didn’t say a word to call him back.

He sighed, rubbing his eyes. They’d have to talk about what had just happened. And about many things because they obviously hadn’t used protection and… everything was so messy in his head that he didn’t even know where to start.

Clothes. He had promised her dry clothes. Pushing back everything that had happened since she had jumped out of her car, he pressed in the code of the secured door and took the stairs two at a time.

“Finally!” Dig exclaimed, standing up. “Where is she?”

“Upstairs, in the bathroom. She needs dry clothes,” Oliver explained as he opened a small closet.

“So do you, actually…”

“Later. Can you grab the first aid kit?” Oliver asked as he got rid of his jacket. Fortunately his shirt was still mostly dry underneath.

“Is she wounded?”

“Just a few scratches but I’d rather make sure everything is clean.”

“Is she going to come downstairs?” Dig asked as he opened a drawer and took out a few cotton balls. “Does she…”

“Yes, she knows. She recognized me.”

Dig smirked. “I told you she would find out.”

Oliver glared at him then made his way back upstairs, his arms full of clothes. He was about to open the bathroom door when he remembered that they were… well. He didn’t know exactly what they were anymore. He hesitated, enjoying the last few seconds where things could still be considered as simple, then knocked.

“Come in.”

She was in her underwear, vigorously drying her hair with a towel.

He gulped, taking her in, unable to stop himself. She was as stunning as he remembered, even if she seemed to have lost a bit of weight. Her stomach wasn’t as softly curved, her ass seemed a bit less round, her thighs slightly less full. She had gotten rid of her stockings, he also noted with regret.

Damn, I wish I had seen them in strong light.

“It’s probably too big for you, but at least you’ll be dry and warm,” he eventually mumbled, handing her a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt.

“Thank you,” she said as she hopped on one foot, putting the pants on and tying the small string around her waist. “What about you?”

Shaking his head, forcing his eyes away from her, Oliver grabbed a towel and dried his own hair. He then changed into a pair of fresh jeans while Felicity sat down on the only stool in the room, observing him quietly.

“Where are we?” she finally asked.

“It used to be one of our steel factories. It’s where I stock everything I need. And…” he coughed as put his shoes back on. “We’re not alone.”

“We’re not alone…? As in X-Files not alone or…?”

Oliver felt the corner of his mouth twitch as he shook his head. “Dig is here.”

Felicity’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Dig… he knows, too,” Oliver winced. “Since last week, actually.”

She gaped then closed her mouth, her eyes narrowing. “You told him or he found out?”

“... I told him. I asked him not to tell you, don’t be mad. He just wanted to respect my wish.”

“That’s why you knew which USB stick to take!” she exclaimed, standing up from her stool.

“Yes. He told me where to find everything I needed.”

“... I can’t believe he was alright with you breaking into my apartment!”

“He wasn’t really, if it makes you feel better.”

“No, it doesn’t,” she hissed, glaring at him. “You… the two of you have been lying to me for days! Where is he, by the way?!”

Oliver took her elbow, leading her to the basement door and down the stairs. Dig was waiting for them by the small medical table, his hands joined and a very unusual sheepish expression on his face. Which did absolutely nothing to appease Felicity.

“You knew!” she shouted as they made it to the bottom of the stairs. Squaring her shoulders, she took a deep breath, adding in what was obviously an imitation of Dig’s voice, “See, Felicity, I told you. You should have stopped snooping around. Consider yourself lucky that he just took those files. I hope now you’ll let that rest for good.”

Dig shook his head, the ghost of a smile stretching his lips. “First of all, it wasn’t my secret to tell. Second of all, I understand why Oliver wanted to keep you far away from all of it-”

Felicity let out a high-pitched, angry screech. “What am I? Twelve?!”

“No. But you are a civilian,” Dig stated calmly. “So far, all we know is that someone might come after Oliver. Having you around him is exposing you to danger. Having you close to him is letting everyone know you are in a relationship, Felicity. Right now, you’re only his former secretary, whom he apparently had a fling with and you just had a hard time moving on after his death. For the public, you’re one in a dozen. In short: you won’t be a priority if they have to go after someone to get to Oliver.”

Oliver went to get some latex gloves, checking if he had everything he needed to tend to Felicity’s arm. He could see she was processing Dig’s words, her anger already calming down.

Gently grabbing her arm, he motioned her to the metal table and she followed him automatically, her mind obviously still coming to terms with everything she had learned. Grabbing her waist, he lifted her so she could sit on top of the table. He pulled a stool towards him and put on the gloves.

“Can you hold your shirt?” he asked.

She nodded, grabbing the sleeve that was reaching her elbow and pulling it up. He could see dry blood and dirt, her skin scratched around the small cut. He poured a bit of water over a small cotton ball, cleaning it delicately.

“Are you up to date with your tetanus vaccine?”

“Yes,” she mumbled with a small wince as he pressed some disinfectant onto the wound. Two small butterfly stitches would be more than enough and mostly so she wouldn’t reopen the cut rather than out of pure necessity.

“Is there any other spot hurting?”

He was surprised to see her blush furiously and throw a quick look at Dig and he frowned in confusion. She had told him he hadn’t had the time to really hurt her but maybe she had downplayed it?

“Felicity? Did he... touch you?” Oliver asked, forcing himself to keep his voice down.

She bit her lips nervously, shaking her head. “He slapped me though. But that’s all.”

Narrowing his eyes, Oliver looked at her face, seeing that her left cheek was indeed taking a small bluish shade. “I don’t have arnica, here. Do you want some ice?”

“No, it should be fine. I have some arnica at home, I’ll put some on when I get there.”

He looked at her, his eyes searching hers, making sure she was telling the truth. She seemed slightly embarrassed, but he didn’t see anything alarming in her demeanor. Sighing, he got rid of the gloves and the cotton he had used, throwing them in the nearby trashcan.

“So… is anyone going to tell me what exactly we are doing here?”

“I told you. I store everything here.”

“You mean my papers, my blueprints, my USB stick?” she asked with a forced smile, glaring at Dig.

“Among other things.” No need to tell her right away about the guns. One thing at a time.

“I assume guns or other weapons?”

… Well, right now is good too.

“Yes.”

“And what have you been up to the last week, then?”

Oliver showed her his father’s letter, the agenda, and the small crosses they had spent their time researching. She listened, carefully, nodding her head once or twice, but didn’t interrupt him.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have his laptop, he had it with him when he died,” Oliver concluded.

“So let me get this clear… we are trying to find out exactly which events took place on the dates your father marked with a little cross, and figure out if we can find a pattern, or a common list of attendees, am I right?”

“In short, yes. This is where we’re starting. From the very beginning.”

Felicity looked at them, pinching her lips. She took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. “You bunch of idiots.”

Oliver shared a look with Dig, who seemed as taken aback as he was.

"Let me get this straight: you are digging into the internet to find information from about four years ago and didn't even think about asking the one badass hacker you know?" Felicity snorted, crossing her arms. "What did you do? Google?"

Again, Oliver glanced at Dig who seemed to be very busy staring at his shoes. Understanding he was alone on this, he mumbled, "... and Bing."

Felicity pressed a hand on her chest, closing her eyes, a deep, pained expression on her face as she murmured, "you guys are worse than my mother."

"Hey, we did find a bunch of things, you know," Dig finally said with a grin. 

“Oliver, can you go get my laptop? It’s in my trunk. I didn’t lock my car, by the way. That’s a bit stupid now that I think of it,” Felicity frowned as she hopped off the table after throwing one last look at Dig. “That’s your computer, right?”

“Yeah…” Dig nodded as Oliver quickly made his way upstairs. He ran to her car, opening the front door and grabbing her keys before going to her trunk. He saw several messenger bags as well as two pairs of heels, a printer, a land phone, a small plastic case with mouses and cables... and yet another taser. The sight made him smile despite himself as he opened the bags to check their contents. Two contained laptops, the other one was full of files. Grabbing the two bags with the computers, he closed the trunk and locked her car, running back downstairs. Why she even needed two laptops was beyond him … but not that surprising.

 

By the time he was back in the basement, Felicity had fired up his computer but was nowhere to be seen.

Dig welcomed him with a resigned smile and a shrug, his chin pointing underneath the desk.

“Seriously, Oliver, I know technology has never been your thing but this… this is borderline criminal. I’ll have to come back and redo the whole thing,” she grumbled as she stood up, dusting off her hands.

“I mostly use the laptop,” he coughed.

“I have created this algorithm for work, when I was searching for factories in the state. Long story short, I enter some key elements, like dates, surfaces and so on. It searches either on the internet or in private databases, and once a search is done, I can program it so it automatically goes to the next step, like for instance, for each factory it found, I made sure to look up the former owner’s track records in terms of ecology, and so on… once it’s done, you only have to print the results. Which means… that this could be found in a matter of hours,” she added with a proud little smirk. “And once we have the events, I change the algorithm to find out who organized them and get the guest lists. Once we have the guest lists, I’ll just run a scan, come up with the list of everyone who was invited to every event and voilà. List of potential suspects à la Felicity Smoak.”

“How would you get the guest lists though? Aren't they confidential?” Dig asked, frowning as she opened up a laptop.

She blushed slightly, shifting on her feet. “Well, I just use a tiny little thingy that goes through any firewall…”

“A virus?”

“That is such an ugly word. We don’t use that word, Oliver,” she scolded him.

Oliver huffed out a laugh, impressed. With a narrowed list of people, it would be much easier and much faster to gather information about each of them. “How long would that take you?”

“I need to download the algorithm to your computer, first. Setting it, programming the searches… It should take me a couple of hours but as for the results, probably from 12 to 24 hours to get to the event planners. Things happened more than three years ago so it will take more time than if it was recent. I’ll set an alarm on my phone to let me know when it’s done though.”

“Is there anything we can do?” Oliver asked as she was already fishing for cables in the bag he had brought.

“Yes. This is only the starting point. Where do we go once we have that information? There will probably dozens and dozens of people, dead ends and so on. We need a Plan B.”

Felicity’s eyes widened suddenly, her mouth slightly ajar as her eyes shifted, her fingers moving as if she was counting. She let out a breath of relief and Oliver had a strong suspicion about what had happened. They really needed to talk about a certain number of things. In private.

“... a plan B, yes,” Dig repeated, oblivious to where Felicity had gone. “Oliver, your father mentioned corruption or very suspicious business decisions. We should look through every factory closing, every single problem with unions in the past. Check if other companies did the same. That could give us a lead as well.”

“Great idea,” Felicity approved. “Oliver… you should talk to your mother.”

“... what?” Oliver frowned. He knew, from Dig, that his mother had been the one to try to get Felicity to back off but he didn’t see what exactly she could do to help.

“She was very adamant. She didn’t want me to find answers, Oliver. You should ask her why.”

Oliver shook his head, crossing his arms on his chest. “No. My mother knew nothing, Felicity, you read my dad’s letter. I’ve thought a lot about it and… she must have been threatened like you. That would explain her behavior and-”

“Oliver. She might have found something, some information we need. Even if yes, your father’s letter tends to prove that she had nothing to do with all that went down, it doesn’t change the fact that she might have information we could use. Just tell her you need to know to find closure… there is no need to bring anything more to the conversation. I don’t think she’d be suspicious.”

“She’s right, Oliver. You won’t have to tell her anything. Just ask to get access to the investigation results. You were on that boat, no one would question why you want to find out what happened.”

“Speaking of which… do you remember anything suspicious? Another boat nearby or anything, really?”

“No.” Oliver shook his head. “It was during the night… I hung up with Thea, I went to the kitchen for a snack, brought it back to my room. The sea wasn’t calm but nothing out of the ordinary. I saw no boat around us but it was very dark. I heard this loud crack, the boat shifted on one side… next thing I remember I was engulfed in water, trying to fight my way up. I made it to a small raft with Andrew and Ali, our cook. They… they both died before we reached the island. I think… I think everyone else drowned.”

“Your mom said they found the body of a crew member. They were highly intoxicated.”

“What? No. That’s impossible. I knew that crew. They were all good, responsible people. Also three of them were muslims and never drank alcohol. The fourth one was Ali and he made it out, as you know. It’s… no,” Oliver denied. Each and every single man working on that boat had been beyond reproach. “Someone lied to her.”

“Or she lied to me,” Felicity counteracted.

“Felicity, you know you got tailed after you went to the private agency. I’d say they might be the ones hiding something from the beginning. Dig told me you thought she looked scared.”

“... yes. Yes, she seemed scared for some reason,” Felicity admitted. “But I still maintain you should talk to her and ask to get your hands on the investigation's results. The agency probably still has them and if your theory is true… then at least this time we’ll be ready for them?”

“Also… man I hate to say this but you should tell her. Show her your dad’s letter,” Dig added.

“I’ve told you about this, I don’t want her to think any less of dad. He may have been a shitty husband but at least she still has the image of a good man.”

“Oliver… if you think I might have been in danger around you, the same goes for them. You should ask her to up the security at the very least,” Felicity chimed in.

Oliver rubbed his forehead, knowing they both made sense. He had refused to involve his mother or his sister, and still didn’t want to. But they had a point, and even if nothing had happened to his family during those three years, convincing him they had never been targeted in the first place, they might eventually be used against him.

He’d have to talk with his mother, make her understand there was something fishy going on.

 

It took Felicity a little less than two hours to set everything up. Oliver mostly observed her, Dig imitating him as the three of them bounced ideas. He couldn’t deny that things were going much, much faster already, Felicity’s natural analytical mind doing wonders once again.

“I’m starving,” she eventually groaned as she started to pack her things.

“Same,” Dig nodded as he put his jacket on. “I’d offer to get some take-out but I think you two need some time alone… so I’ll suggest Gino’s and a good bottle of wine.” He made his way to the stairs, only stopping to squeeze Felicity’s shoulder. “Let me know if you find anything.”

“Will do,” Oliver nodded, rearranging the first-aid kit for the second time that night. He knew they desperately needed to talk and he was craving a normal meal for once. Not having to pretend or hide. Yet, he still didn’t want people to know about them.

Maybe you shouldn’t have walked her home then, you dumbass.

“We really need to talk, Oliver,” Felicity said as she zipped her bags. She could probably sense his hesitation and the hard, stubborn look on her face told him she wasn’t about to take no for an answer.

“I know. I… I’ll come by the window.”

“... what?”

“I’m not comfortable with the idea that people will see me enter your building,” he winced, rubbing the back of his neck, fully aware of how idiotic he sounded.

“If someone was following you they’ve already had free access to a peep show, you do know that?”

He grimaced, remembering how reckless he had been. “I know but… I’d be more comfortable.”

She tilted her head, observing him quietly before nodding slowly. “Just… maybe grab a change of clothes? If you want to stay over, that is. I still have some of your stuff but I’ll need to put them in the washer. They’re probably a bit dusty or wrinkly now.” She looked at him with a hesitant smile and he felt that familiar pull leading him towards her. One night couldn’t hurt… right?

 

Felicity had already changed her clothes and gotten rid of her contacts for her usual glasses when he lightly tapped on her window. He was wearing a cap, low on his eyes, and the collar of his jacket was up - which made her roll her eyes. He had given her a bag with his clothes and he saw it right away, laying innocently on the bed. On his side. The room was exactly how he remembered it. His heart pinched when he saw a picture of them on her nightstand, but other than that everything was mostly the same. Even her sheets.

“I already called them,” Felicity told him as he followed her into the living room. “Food should be there in twenty, thirty minutes tops. Do you want some wine? Maybe it’s not wise to drink before we eat though. But I do have some chips and cherry tomatoes, if you’d like? Or water. I have wine or water and that’s all I’m afraid. Although you’re probably not surprised. Grocery shopping and me.. we don’t really get along as you know.”

He listened to her nervous rambling, distracted as he took in her living room. He had been there barely a week ago but it had been in the dark. Now the lights were on and casting  a warm, cozy atmosphere. This… this was different. It felt like home, it felt like he had left a big part of what was weighing down his shoulders outside, on the fire escape by her bedroom’s window. This was his safe place.

“... Oliver?”

He forced his attention back on her. “Water is perfect for now, thank you.”

She nodded, grabbing two glasses and filling them with ice and water. He noticed she had a new fridge and a new television, as well as a sophisticated coffee maker.

Sitting down by her dining table, he thanked her when she brought him his water. It felt weird to be like a guest in her apartment, back to square one in a way. After another quick stop in the kitchen to get a bag of chips, she eventually took a seat as well, biting her lips. A few seconds passed where neither of them knew exactly what to say - something that had probably never happened. What they had done earlier that night had made things much more complicated, like they had jumped several steps too fast.

Before he could apologize for his lack of control, she took a deep breath and said in one go, “Don’t worry, it should be a safe day.”

His eyes shifted to the way her hands were firmly holding her glass, his brain having a hard time catching up. “... what?”

“I… ugh. Oliver, I’m not on the pill anymore, and you didn’t… you know.”

His brain froze for one second once he finally understood. “Felicity, I’m sorry, I should have never-”

“Hey. I was there, too, remember?” she cut him off. “I’m the one who took things in hand. Literally speaking.”

“I know but I should have… I’m clean by the way. And it was confirmed with all the tests they ran at the hospital. I would have never… you don’t have to worry about that.”

“Good. Me too. Clean, I mean. It’s just the lack of birth control that is a bit worrisome but… we should be safe.”

“OK. That’s… that’s good,” Oliver nodded, trying very hard not to think about Felicity carrying their child. Because no matter how terrifying the thought was, how stupidly dangerous and oh so not the right time… his heart started to beat a little bit faster at the idea.

“Well, now that this is out of the way…” Felicity trailed off before taking a small sip of water, and he noticed her hands were shaking. “Why did you go to Dig first… and not me?”

Oliver winced, his fingers drumming on his thighs. “I needed Dig’s help, as you know.”

“But not mine?”

“Felicity, I didn’t want you involved. And Dig eventually agreed but at the end of the day, the main reason why he didn’t tell you was because he didn’t want to betray me. Don’t blame him for that, please.”

“I don’t. It wasn’t his secret to tell and… that I can understand. I’ll still have to talk with him about that, though because seriously… my USB stick?!”

Oliver pinched his lips at the sound of outrage in her voice. “He told me which one to take because, and I quote, ‘if you take all of them she is going to be so pissed she’ll probably never rest until she finds out who you are and tasers your ass to hell and back’.”

This seemed to slightly appease her as she straightened on her chair. “Well… yes. I know my way around a taser.”

“I might have noticed that,” Oliver huffed out with a small smile stretching the corner of his lips.

Felicity blanched at his words, her mouth opening on an horrified gasp. “Oh God! I tasered you!”

“You also clocked me,” he couldn’t help but add.

“I’m… I’m so sorry Oliver. I… I honestly just reacted. I figured out afterwards that you probably meant no harm but-”

“But you did the right thing. Never hesitate when you feel scared or threatened,” he said in a much more serious tone. “Incapacitate whoever is scaring you, then run. Even if it’s me. Promise me that, Felicity.”

“Well now that I know it’s you, I doubt I’ll ever need to clock you, Oliver,” she snorted before taking a sip of her drink.

“Felicity,” he let out through gritted teeth, as he remembered that girl he had almost strangled to death in Moscow. “Promise me. Even if it’s me.”

Especially if it’s me. I’m begging you. I’d never be able to live with myself if I ever did something like that to you.

She frowned, her eyes growing serious as she observed him. “Alright,” she eventually said, obviously confused. “I promise you.”

The room went back to silence for a few seconds before Felicity asked him, in a small voice, “Were you ever going to let me know? Was everything you told me an act?”

“I… yes. It was. I was hoping that once I pushed you away you’d move on for good and cut ties with everything concerning me.”

“But now I know.”

“But now you know.”

“So… what do we do? I can help you, Oliver, you know that.”

“I know. I just… Dig is a bodyguard and a former soldier and even so, I only asked him to get into a secured room at QC. That should tell you how much I don’t want anyone else involved.”

“I’m not going to let you push me away, Oliver. Not if it’s for some stupid reason such as ‘it’s for your own good’, let’s make that clear. We don’t have to scream it from the rooftops if that is what you’re concerned about. And we both know I’ll probably be more careful now that I know exactly what’s going on.”

“Felicity,” he breathed, shaking his head. “It’s not… I’m as dangerous as them. You saw me. I killed that man. I did it without blinking. How can you even see me as someone good enough-”

“Stop it. Yes… I saw what you did. I was there and… I have a million questions about that. But I know you only did it because you were in an impossible situation.”

No. That’s where you’re wrong.

“No. He’s not the first man I’ve killed and he won’t be the last. And I’ve also hurt people… innocent people, Felicity. I didn’t really mean to, but I still did it. I scared Thea, I yelled at her, snapped at my mom… this… this is who I am now. There is no turning back from that. I’m not boyfriend material anymore, I’m not… I’m not someone you should want in your life.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” she asked as she left her chair to sit right next to him. Her small hand covered his as she stroked his knuckles. “What is it Oliver? What scares you so much at the idea of being with me?”

Losing you. Hurting you. Losing control around you. Scaring you.

“I just came back here with a plan and that plan was to keep you as far away from me as possible, as far away from what my life has become.” Far away from the darkest parts of his soul.

“That’s not possible anymore, now. So what? What else is holding you back?”

My secrets.

“There are things about me that I wish you’ll never know,” he eventually whispered.

Her hands cradled his face, gently, softly forcing him to face her. He kept his eyes low, not wanting her to read them, to see the darkness inside, to see what he didn’t have the strength to hide anymore.

“Oliver, please look at me.”

He squeezed his eyes shut for a few seconds then eventually caved in.

“I am not asking you to tell me everything. I am not asking you to reveal all you went through. I am just asking you to let me love you.”

“I’m terrified of dragging you into all of this and that something will happen to you, Felicity. I wouldn’t survive it,” he eventually admitted quietly. “You kept me sane so many times and just the idea that I could cause-”

“It wouldn’t be your fault, Oliver. You’re a victim in this.”

No. I’m not. I stopped being a victim more than a year ago.

“How do you think I achieved all these skills?” he asked in a low voice. “How do you think I became a good fighter, a good shot? It’s because it was often me or someone else and at the end of the day… I chose to survive.”

“Yes. Yes, you chose to survive, Oliver. Had you not been on that damn boat, had you not been stranded, would you have ended up in that situation? You had to adapt… you can do it again. I know you can. That’s how you survived. What you see as something shameful… I see as the reason why you’re here with me right now, against all odds.”

He looked at her, desperate to believe her. She was smiling at him, a small, tense smile that he knew was only there to try to reassure him and for the first time since he got back he felt a real hope growing inside him. Maybe he could come back from what he had done. He was still terrified at the idea of letting her get too close, but for the first time he realized that at some point, down the line, perhaps they could still build something together. He wanted nothing more than to shelter her from everything that had gone wrong in the past years but when he was looking in her eyes, he could see that she had no intention of letting him pull away. And if he was honest with himself… he didn’t want to pull away. There wasn’t a single cell of his body that wanted to stay away from her. Her eyes were shining bright, so full of love and understanding and patience, and it felt like they were casting their light on him, transferring some of her solace inside of him.

“Those demons you live with… you can share them with me. I’m here. I’m right here, Oliver and I’m not going anywhere. Get that through your thick skull.”

“I’m not very easy to live, you know. I still struggle with company and questions and… probably a hundred other things. I’m not the same man.”

“And I’m not the same woman. I often wake up in the middle of the night. I have nightmares. My personality got more obsessive. I still can’t cook, though.”

Oliver huffed out a laugh at her words, and somehow it felt… weirdly good to be able to laugh in the middle of their conversation. It felt like before, when everything was still simple. “Really? It’s been three years, Felicity. Tell me you can at least make an omelet.”

“Nope,” she denied proudly, shaking her head.

“I also assume I won’t get a cup of coffee tomorrow morning?”

He didn’t miss the way her eyes sparkled at the mention of ‘tomorrow morning’ and she grinned, a wide grin that made him want to kiss her. “I might make an exception. Special occasion and all that jazz.”

And suddenly he realized he could. He could kiss her. He was at her place, they were talking and obviously planning for him to stay the night. He didn’t have to control himself. When his lips brushed against hers, he felt her small intake of breath, the way her hand gripped his t-shirt. For some reason, their touch was more hesitant, the moment more… intimate in a way. More solemn. This… this meant everything. It was his way to tell her that he wanted to try. That he wanted to be with her even if he didn’t know how. And she was answering him that she was by his side, in any way he wanted.

Truth be told he had no idea how they would find their way. No idea how to protect her and be with her, because those two ideas were still completely opposed in his head. But in her arms, he was warming up, and things didn’t seem as heavy and as dark. He knew he needed to let her go before he could taint her but… the moment when he still had the strength to do it had long passed. And it felt so freeing to finally be able to tell her the truth - or at least a part of it. It was as if a weight had lifted off his shoulders, and knowing he wouldn’t have to pretend around her anymore suddenly made life seem easier.

Felicity shifted closer to him, their lips separating and he smiled reassuringly before circling her waist and bringing her on his lap. She sighed happily, her arms around his neck and he almost purred when she scratched his skull. Slipping his hand underneath her shirt, he slowly caressed her side, feeling her warm skin underneath his fingertips, savoring how soft it was. She brushed her nose against his before pressing another soft kiss against his lips then travelling down his jaw before coming back and nibbling on his chin. He chuckled, pinching her butt in retaliation and she hissed against his mouth, pulling on his hair. He was just about to deepen the kiss when the bell rang and he groaned, tilting his head back in frustration.

With a small whimper, Felicity slipped out of his embrace to go to the intercom. Sighing deeply, he stood up, making his way to the kitchen. Everything was still exactly where he remembered and it barely took him more than a minute to set the table. He found the bottle of wine while she was paying the delivery boy and by the time he was back in the living room, she was pulling several containers out of a plastic bag.

He poured them each a glass before sitting down. He counted five different boxes as well as a paper bag full of breadsticks.

“... are you sure we’re gonna have enough?”

“I… I wasn’t sure what your diet was like so… I ordered a bit of everything. I mean obviously, you need to eat a lot of proteins for all your…” she trailed off, her hand waving towards his body, “hot stuff.”

“Hot stuff?” he asked, his mouth twitching at the small blush that invaded her cheeks.

“Well… yes,” she answered, pinching her lips. Sitting down at the head of the table, she grabbed the first container. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed your… physical abilities because they were very much appreciated.”

“Were they, though?” he asked softly, remembering his lack of control.

She glared at him, lifting an eyebrow. “Yes. They were. And we’re not gonna talk about this while having dinner.”

“Oh I don’t plan on talking about it,” he mumbled as he took a sip of wine. He was going to spend the night here, with her, and even if it was probably not his best idea, he couldn’t bring himself to care. He was relaxing for the first time in forever, lowering his guard.

He smiled when he saw her piling broccoli on her plate, remembering her odd addiction to the vegetable. Some things would never really change.

“Tell me about Palmer Tech,” he asked as he filled his plate with chicken and eggplant parmesan.

She grinned, shifting on her seat as she told him about her job, and the challenges she was facing everyday. He could see she loved it and it filled him with pride to see that she was finally where she deserved to be. She didn’t linger on how she had managed to be promoted so quickly to such a high position and he didn’t push it either. Things would come at their own pace and for now, all he wanted to do was savor their meal together, the first one since he had left, savor how warm and comfy her place was.

Felicity told him about how exciting New York had been, even if she had known she would eventually come back. He listened to her, happy to just be there by her side, remembering some of her little habits he had been so enamoured with. How she could never really stay still and the way she could ramble and get lost in her own little world until she remembered he was there and blushed with a small apologetic smile. If only she had known how much he had missed it, how much he had missed the sound of her voice. She could spend the night talking and he would just listen and that could probably make him the happiest man on earth.

She didn’t ask him questions, respecting his silence, even though he knew that at some point he would have to open up. The thought was terrifying to him, and he pushed it back. By the time they were done, Felicity had drunk her second glass of wine and her cheeks were a little bit redder than usual. As they were cleaning up and storing the leftovers in the fridge, he suddenly realized how much he had needed that. A simple, quiet meal, just the two of them.

“If you want to take a shower, go ahead. I already did when I got back,” she told him as he was wiping his hands after rinsing the sink.

He nodded, watching her as she poured water in the electric boiler, probably making her usual cup of tea. She was wearing a white tank top and a pair of pajama pants he had never seen, with pink unicorns and cupcakes and it was obvious, in the brightly lit kitchen, that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Her skin was glowing, and he was dying to let his fingers travel up her arm, knowing she would be soft and silky.

“If you need a T-shirt, I still have a few in the drawer where I put my pajamas. I also have a couple of hoodies. But for the pants and so on, I’ll have to wash them, they’ve been in my wardrobe since… well for three years,” she continued, completely oblivious to where his thoughts had gone. She reached on her toes to grab a mug and a bag of tea, her top hitching up and baring a small patch of skin on her waist. His eyes travelled down to her ass, his hands itching to caress the soft curves, to knead the flesh and-

“Oliver?”

His eyes snapped back up to her face where her proud little smirk let him know she wasn’t fooled. “Yes?”

“Do you want anything? I know tea wasn’t exactly your preference but…”

“No. I’m good, thank you,” he coughed, shaking his head. “I’m gonna go take that shower.”

He walked past her and had already stepped into her living room when she called him back.

“Oh, the bathroom was completely renovated, by the way. The towels are in the cabinet opposite the sink now.”

“Opposite the sink, got it,” he nodded absentmindedly, his attention attracted by the way her hair was caressing her shoulders. Damn. He wanted to caress her shoulders too. Shifting on his feet, he rubbed the back of his neck, feeling awkward for some reason. Felicity smiled at him before pouring hot water in her mug. She was putting the boiler back down and grabbing a cookie from a jar on the counter when he finally snapped. In two steps he was by her side, gently taking a hold of her hand, putting the cookie next to her cup of tea. She looked at him with wide eyes, her mouth slightly open in surprise but didn’t protest. Slipping a hand around her waist, the other one naturally burying itself in her hair, he tilted his head, pressing his lips against hers. After a few seconds of hesitation, she melted against him, her lips moving with his until he felt the tip of her tongue asking for entrance. A small moan caught in his throat when he finally got to taste her, the sweetness of her mouth making him dizzy. Their kiss was slow, languid, giving them the time to breathe each other in, their tongues dancing with each other almost lazily. His hand was stroking her hip, his fingers slipping underneath her shirt, grazing her skin until she shuddered in his arms, gripping his shoulders. Banding an arm around her waist, he lifted her and, turning around, sat her down on the counter, never interrupting the kiss. He heard her small squeal, felt her lips stretching into a smile as she tied her legs around his hips and pulled back, just enough to see the blush on her cheeks and the way she automatically reached out for another kiss before opening her drowsy eyes when he rubbed his nose against hers instead. He pressed a small peck on her pouting lips before trailing down her jaw until he could reach that little spot underneath her ear. He took a deep breath, letting her scent invaded his senses before kissing it softly and traveling back to her lips, already craving her mouth again.

Felicity laced her hand through his hair, her nails scratching his skull, sending shivers down his spine. He hissed when she bit his lower lip, and he retaliated by suckling on her tongue when she tried to soothe the ache. When they finally parted ways, he cradled her face, his thumbs stroking her cheeks as he took her in. He could see the freckles on her nose, her eyes were shining bright and he engraved the moment in his soul, knowing he would need it along the way. He would need to keep her in mind, to remember how simple and true everything was between them, because the road ahead was going to be bumpy. There were so many things that terrified him, so many things he wanted to shelter her from but knew she wouldn’t let him. She’d have to show him the path because all he could see right now was a dark road that would force him to face his own demons and he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t lose himself along the way.

But she was by his side, and for now he didn’t want to think about the future. With one last peck on her lips, he let go of her face, murmuring, “I should go take that shower.”

A big sigh spilled from her lips, her eyes still unfocused. She nodded, though, before hopping off the counter and he quickly made his way to the bathroom before he could change his mind.

He was surprised to see the changes once he stepped inside the small room. The bathtub was much bigger now, one of the cabinets gone and there were new tiles on the floor but he still recognized most of the products she used.

His didn’t linger any longer than necessary, and he was stepping into her bedroom barely a few minutes later. He fished out a pair of sweatpants from his bag and was just about to put a T-shirt on when he heard Felicity’s rushed footsteps.

“Oliver, your mother is trying to reach you”, she said as soon as she stepped inside the room, holding out the cellphone he had abandoned on her dining table.

She froze when she saw him, her hand falling back limply against her side, her eyes roaming over his chest.

His naked chest. Where she could see each and every single one of his scars in the brightly lit room.

“What…” she breathed, her eyes bouncing from one scar to another, her face visibly paling.

Oliver shifted on his feet, uncomfortable. He hadn’t wanted her to see him that way, or at least so abruptly. He quickly slipped his arms in the sleeves to cover his body but she stepped forward, dropping his phone on the bed and she gently forced the piece of clothing away from his hands.

“Oliver… how…”

“It’s nothing, Felicity,” he grumbled. “None of these hurt anymore.”

She raised her head, meeting his eyes and stayed silent for a long moment before her hand slowly reached out to touch his stomach. He tensed involuntarily underneath her touch and she froze, glancing at him. He nodded, letting her know it was OK and she let her palm slide until it reached his belly button.

“Lie down, Oliver,” she whispered, pushing softly against his chest.

He frowned, then followed her lead, dropping on the bed sideways. She followed him, straddling his thighs, her hand now hovering over his shoulder. She leaned down, slowly, giving him plenty of time to push her away but he forced himself to stay still. His eyes shut when he felt her lips pressed against the scar he had there, then moving to the other side of his chest to do the same. That one was a burn scar. With Amanda Waller’s compliments. She kissed it too, then travelled over to his heart and to the rest of his scars, kissing each and every single one of them. He relaxed underneath her touch, the softness of her lips against the damaged skin making him shiver. It was sweet and comforting and it was bringing pleasure where he had once felt terrible pain. He hissed when she traced a long knife mark, not out of pain but because the sensation was intense in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time.

She froze, already moving away, whispering, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

His hand buried in her hair to hold her back as he shook his head. “You’re not hurting me. You’re healing me.”

Felicity raised her eyes, searching his face and he smiled, a small smile to let her know it was OK. He was OK. She eventually nodded, pressing little pecks over the shark bite on his flank.

Once she had kissed the last of his scars, she leaned back, her hands caressing his abdomen. Their gazes locked as his thumbs started to trace circles over her thighs. He grinned when his attentions made her wiggle on his lap.  It was good to know he still held the same power over her body… just like she did over his own.

“Your abs got abs,” she smiled, her fingers stroking his abdomen. 

Oliver couldn’t help but chuckle at the way she was looking at his stomach almost reverently, her teeth digging into her lower lip.

The small buzzing sound coming from their right interrupted their moment and Felicity groaned, tilting her head back. “Your mom has tried to call twice already. You should pick up.”

She climbed down from his lap as he grabbed his cellphone. “Hi mom.”

Felicity tiptoed out of the room, quietly closing the door behind her.

“Oliver! Where are you?!”

“... why are you asking me this?” Oliver frowned, unwilling to tell her exactly where he was.

“Well, I was worried. You left early this morning, didn’t show up for dinner. Is everything alright?”

“Of course, yeah. I’m just… at a friend's.”

He heard his mother sigh on the other side of the line. “Good. Please next time just give us a warning if you are going to miss dinner.”

“Since when do I have to tell you what I’m doing with my free time?”

“Since you’ve been acting so weird, Oliver.”

“I’m not…” Oliver sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m alright, mom, OK? Sometimes I’m going to miss dinner, and I won’t sleep at home. Exactly like I used to.”

“I understand that you are an adult, Oliver. But I would appreciate a word of warning next time. Even if it’s just to make sure Raisa doesn’t cook your meal for nothing. Or so Thea doesn’t wonder why her brother is suddenly disappearing.”

“I’m glad to see you worry about Raisa’s work. And Thea is an adult, I’m positive she understands that I have a private life.”

“Listen, Oliver, I don’t want to fight. I tried to reach you because Walter and I have invited the Bowens for brunch tomorrow, and I was wondering if you wanted to invite someone too.”

“I won’t be there tomorrow, I already have plans,” Oliver said as he sat up on the bed and grabbed his shirt.

“Can’t you cancel? The Bowens would love to see you and-”

“And I don’t feel particularly interested in seeing them myself, mom.”

There was a pause on the line and Oliver prepared himself for the lecture.

“Oliver, I have been more than conciliatory concerning your lack of… manners lately. But the Bowens are old family friends and I think it would be good for you to see people.”

I am positive it will be even better for me to see my girlfriend naked, mom.

“Sorry, mom. I can’t cancel at the last minute.”

“You can’t or you don’t want to?”

“Since you ask: I don’t want to.”

“Oliver…”

“Mom. I am spending time with a friend I haven’t seen in three years. Can you understand that I prefer to catch up with them rather than with some people I never really cared about?”

“... I’m sorry, Oliver. You’re right,” Moira said in a much softer tone. “I just worry about you, so does your sister and I’m trying to get through to you and it’s not working.”

“Mom. It’s OK. Just… Just give me some time.”

“Could you try to be there for Sunday dinner? I’ll invite Tommy, it will just be the family.”

“I’ll be there,” Oliver promised.

“Thank you. If you want to invite your friend…”

“No. They won’t be available. But thank you. I’ll see you on Sunday.”

“Have a good evening, Oliver.”

He hung up, putting his phone down on the nightstand and slipping his shirt on. He padded out of the room, unsurprised to see Felicity curled up on her couch, watching some random TV show.

“Is everything OK?” she asked as he dropped down next to her.

“Yes. The usual. She wanted me to come over for brunch tomorrow.”

“Oh… and?”

“And I told her I had plans… unless you don’t want to?” Oliver asked, realizing they hadn’t talked about anything past the night.

“No,” she beamed as she scooted closer to him. “No objection.”

“Good,” he smiled, leaning in for a small peck, lingering as he whispered, “are you really watching… whatever you’re watching?”

“Depends on if you have a better offer. It’s The Walking Dead we’re talking about. With Daryl Dixon. He has a crossbow.”

“My abs have abs.”

“You win.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Please Forgive Me"

 

Still feels like our first night together
Feels like the first kiss, it's gettin' better, baby
No one can better this...
Still holdin' on, you're still the one.
First time our eyes met, same feelin' I get
Only feels much stronger, wanna love you longer
You still turn the fire on...

So if you're feelin' lonely—don't
You're the only one I ever want.
I only wanna make it good
So if I love you a little more than I should...

Please forgive me
I know not what I do.
Please forgive me
I can't stop lovin' you
Don't deny me.
This pain I'm going through...
Please forgive me if I need you like I do.
Please believe me.
Every word I say is true...
Please forgive me
I can't stop loving you

Still feels like our best times are together.
Feels like the first touch, still gettin' closer, baby
Can't get close enough.
Still holdin' on, you're still number one.
I remember the smell of your skin,
I remember everything,
I remember all your moves
I remember you, yeah!
I remember the nights, you know I still do.

So if you're feelin' lonely—don't
You're the only one I ever want.
I only wanna make it good
So if I love you a little more than I should...

Please forgive me
I know not what I do.
Please forgive me
I can't stop lovin' you
Don't deny me
This pain I'm going through.
Please forgive me if I need you like I do
Oh, believe me.
Every word I say is true.
Please forgive me
I can't stop loving you.

One thing I'm sure of is the way we make love.
And one thing I depend on is for us to stay strong.
With every word and every breath I'm prayin'
That's why I'm sayin'...

Please forgive me
I know not what I do.
Please forgive me
I can't stop lovin' you.
Don't deny me.
This pain I'm going through.
Please forgive me if I need you like I do.
Babe, believe me.
Every word I say is true.
Please forgive me if I can't stop loving you.
Never leave me
I don't know what I'd do.
Please forgive me
I can't stop loving you,
Can't stop loving you.

 

 

 

Felicity stood up, holding out her hand. “Come.”

He followed her dutifully, letting her guide him to the bedroom. She switched on the bedside lamp, lowering the intensity until the room was basking in a soft, warm halo, and put down her glasses as well. They could still hear the sound of her TV from the living room, but even the zombies groaning weren’t enough to break the mood.

He felt oddly nervous, almost as if it was their first time, which was utterly ridiculous seeing what they had done earlier that night. But this… this was different. It wasn’t them getting carried away, emotions too raw to resist. No, this time it was deliberate. They both were aware of the significance of that moment, something that was obvious in the way Felicity was twisting her hands.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he murmured as he gently untangled her hands.

She huffed out a laugh, licking her lips. “I want it. I just don’t know why I’m so nervous.”

“I’m nervous, too,” he admitted while pressing kisses over her knuckles. “I mean… I hope I still have it in me.”

“What? I think what we did against that wall kinda proves that yeah… you still do.”

“Do you really think I didn’t notice you didn’t come?”

He grinned when he saw her opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water.

“It’s OK, you know. I promise I’ll even the score. I just hope I’ll be able to do it on my first try.”

“I… I think I’m just… overwhelmed. You. Me. I… I never thought I’d live that again,” she explained with a sheepish shrug. “It’s a bit… much. It’s on me, not you.”

“I disagree. It’s my job to make sure your brain is fried,” Oliver chuckled as he circled her waist, pulling her flush against him. “I used to be pretty good at it.”

“Oh God yes,” she moaned in his chest. “So, so good at it.”

“I might need a bit of time to get back to my usual standards, though.”

“If that means a lot of practise, you won’t hear me complain.”

He kissed her hair, a small pinch in his heart. He didn’t know how long they had, only seeing the next few days. He wasn’t sure how to deal with her and this new life, despite how much he wanted to. There was still that nagging little voice in the back of his head telling him that the right thing to do was to step aside. But he knew that no matter how hard he would try, he would never be able to stop loving her. He wanted nothing more than to focus on the good, on where he was at the moment, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever get rid of this irrational fear when it came to her.

“Hey,” she whispered, raising her head. “Don’t go there.”

“I’m trying not to.”

“Looks like I’m gonna have to help you fry my brain, then,” she beamed, resting her arms on his shoulders. “First step is kissing me senseless.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he grinned, his hand slipping in the small of her back. He saw her eyes fluttering shut as he leaned forward, his lips finding hers and catching her small sigh. He took his time, teasing her, his tongue flicking on her upper lip before retreating, until she pulled on his hair with a small frustrated groan. One hand cradled her face, angling it to deepen the kiss and he almost moaned when he finally got to taste her. If he was to spend the rest of his life kissing Felicity, he would be a very, very happy man because there was nothing like having her in his arms, their lips locked, their tongues playing so lazily it was making his knees turn into jello.

He turned them around, walking backwards until his legs hit her bed then slowly sat down, guiding Felicity to straddle his lap. With one knee on each side of his hips, she sat on his thighs, shifting until she found a comfortable position. Unable to resist any longer, Oliver palmed her ass fully, like he had been dying to do all night. He groaned into her mouth as he kneaded the flesh, pressing her closer to him in the process. Damn it, he was already hard. Felicity must have felt it too because she ground tentatively against him, a tiny mewl escaping her throat, her fingers tightening in his hair. Their kiss became hungrier, Felicity pressing herself tightly against him while he guided the rocking of her hips. He knew he had rubbed the right spot when she pulled away, inhaling sharply and pressing down harder against him. Staring at her, he saw her eyes widening, her breathing already hitching as she licked her lips. He saw the movement her throat made when she gulped and before he even knew what he was doing, he was peppering kisses all over her neck until he reached the muscle of her shoulder. Opening his mouth, he sucked on the flesh until he was sure he had left a mark. He licked the spot then softly blew on it until goosebumps appeared across her skin. He smirked when he saw the hickey, the small red spot satisfying a primitive part of him. He knew that by the end of the night, he would bear her mark as well. Hopefully, she’d even make it plural.

He was about to kiss her again when Felicity pulled away, her hands gripping the hem of his shirt. Wordlessly, he lifted his arms, letting her undress him and he threw his t-shirt across the room, letting her caress his scars to her heart’s content. She was gentle, tracing the outlines of the ugly marks with tenderness, almost as if she was afraid to hurt him. The thought was ridiculous to him, as if her hands could ever cause him pain.  

“Take off your shirt,” he murmured, his eyes fixed on hers, when she finished trailing the shark bite on his side.

With a small smile, her hands left him and a few seconds later, she was raising her top above her head, throwing it away as carelessly as he had done. He had been right, she wasn’t wearing a bra and his mouth watered when he saw her breasts, the way her nipples were hardening under his look, begging to be sucked. His hands holding her waist firmly, he dipped his head, his mouth opening on an areola, groaning when the taste of her skin exploded against his tongue. He flicked the little berry, suckled on the soft flesh, his cheeks hollowing before releasing it with a small pop. Seeing that the little bud was now a satisfying deep shade of red, he travelled down the small valley between her breasts, his tongue leaving a wet trail behind him until he could circle the other nipple. He took it in his mouth, sucking on it, hearing Felicity’s panting above him. She was rolling her hips but the position they were in had shifted her too far on his lap for her to grind on him. Banding an arm around her waist, he switched them until she was lying flat on her back, his mouth never leaving her breast. Her thighs opened to accommodate him and he felt the way she started to rub against his abdomen, her hands pressing his face against her chest. His hands now free, he palmed a small mound of flesh, rolling the nipple underneath his thumb while his mouth was still ravaging the other one. She was intoxicating, her taste, her smell, the sounds escaping her throat were going straight to his crotch, his erection now straining almost painfully against his pants.

“Oh God,” Felicity breathed, her thighs squeezing his waist. He could feel her heat against his abs, could tell that she was already as turned on as he was, and before he could stop himself, he ground down against the mattress as well, seeking relief. He wanted to be inside her, feel her wet warmth surround him, her walls squeezing him tightly, welcoming him back. He heard her small whimpers, felt the slight pinch of her fingers pulling on his hair and he recognized the signs. Even after three years, he could still read her body. His mouth left her breast for the shortest moment, but it was enough to earn him a cry of disappointment. Smirking, he licked two fingers before slipping his hand down her stomach, taking his time, his thumb stroking the soft skin until he reached the waistband of her pants. Felicity’s abdomen tensed against his touch, her hips shooting off the bed when he finally slipped underneath her clothes, heading straight to where she needed him. Her clitoris was hard, swollen and he delicately circled it while peppering kisses on the underside of her breast.

“Oh…oh…” She shifted her legs, bending a knee to give him more room and he slipped his fingers lower, groaning when he realized how wet she already was. He slid his fingers up and down, her flesh so soft and warm, torturing him. He wanted to taste her, he wanted to feel that softness underneath his tongue, wanted her pleasure in his mouth. He tried to move his hand away, his mind already planning on getting rid of her clothes so he could lick her to orgasm but she grabbed his wrist, her hips rocking against him with an almost pained whimper. He hushed her, pressing on her clit then teasing her entrance, trying to appease her. The way she was panting his name, begging him, let him know she was close and he wasn’t about to do anything that could make her lose her grip on her pleasure.

When he finally pressed his fingers to her opening, she shifted her hips and a long moan spilled from her lips when they sank into her heat. His thumb resting over her clit, he curled them inside her, searching for the spot that would make her see stars.

“Oh yes!” she hissed when he found it and he rubbed, up and down, left to right, making sure his thumb was still working its magic. She gripped his arm tightly, trying to pull him upwards, her voice pleading him. “Oliver, please, I want you. Oh God I want you.”

He gritted his teeth, rubbing harder, wanting to make her come desperately. His mouth was suckling on her breast, his entire body focused on only one goal: pleasuring her. It wasn’t so much a matter of making sure she’d at least get an orgasm this time. He had noticed her little wince when he had taken her against the wall and he wanted to make sure she was wet, literally dripping before he would push inside her. There would be only pleasure this time, and he wouldn’t stop until she came.

She was fluttering around his fingers, already, her nails digging into his biceps and he softly took a nipple between his teeth, pulling on it, knowing the small hint of pain would be enough to push her over the edge. She froze underneath him and he heard her gasp before she muffled a long moan behind her hand, a sudden gush of wetness coating his hand. Her eyes squeezed shut as she threw her head back against the pillow, exposing her slender neck. He watched her as she rode her wave, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. She was so damn gorgeous, the tell-tale blush covering her throat and face letting him know he had done a good job. He still knew how to satisfy his girl.

God, he had missed this. So, so much. She was so beautiful when she let go, a sight that was only for his eyes. He gazed at her, mesmerized, as she slowly fell back to earth, her body relaxing against him.

“Oliver, too much,” she eventually murmured, shifting underneath him and he slipped his fingers out of her, his hand now tracing soothing patterns on her stomach.

Waiting for her to gather her bearings, he pressed soft kisses across her chest, trying to ignore his raging erection. Which was easier said than done because apparently his dick was extremely jealous of his fingers and couldn’t wait to get inside her. Gently, he pulled down her pants, getting rid of her last piece of clothing.

Her hand grew heavier on his skull, lazily lacing through his hair as her breathing calmed down, her eyes unfocused and dreamy. He smiled before pressing one last peck on her nipple and travelling up her body until he could nuzzle her nose. She let out a small, happy sigh and seeing her so sated sent a deep flash of masculine pride in his chest. He kissed her then, leisurely, curling his tongue around hers, slowly coaxing her body back to life. He waited until her leg circled his hips and pressed down on the back of his thigh to pull away. Her mouth was an angry red, her eyes were shining and there was a deep blush across her cheeks.

Her small hands grabbed the waistband of his pants, lowering them and he joined her until they were low enough for him to kick them off. He nestled his hips between her thighs, burying his face in the crook of her neck when he felt her naked skin against his flanks. He could still remember the first time they had made love, even if they had been in too much of a rush to take their clothes off and he felt as nervous as he had that day. The moment their bodies had finally joined would probably remain engraved in his memory for the rest of his life. Every move, every breath, the sounds escaping her lips... He remembered everything.

Felicity’s hands travelled down his back, her fingers stroking his spine and she paused for a second when she felt the scar tissue there. With a small kiss on his head, she resumed her movements while he laved on her neck, grazing the sensitive skin with his rough stubble, just like he knew she liked. He wasn’t disappointed when she shuddered beneath him with a small whimper, pressing down on his ass.

He got the message and shifted, resting his weight on an elbow before taking a hold of his cock. He was painfully hard now and he stroked his shaft twice to relieve the pressure before pressing against her entrance. He raised his head then, locking gazes with her and she let out a trembling smile, her hand slowly stroking his cheek. He took his time, slowly sliding in, stopping before he was fully inside. Her warmth welcomed him, bathing him and he had to bite back a groan at the sensation, reminding himself he had to be gentle. He checked her face to see any sign of discomfort but saw none and with one last stroke, he filled her to the hilt. She bit her lips then, her eyes closing as he settled on his forearms more comfortably before dropping a soft kiss on the tip of her nose, earning a small giggle that went straight to his heart.

“You OK?” he asked nonetheless.

“I’m more than OK,” she whispered, her eyes opening. “I love you.”

He grinned, forgetting for a moment how his body was screaming at him to move. “Say it again.”

She laughed then, a bubbly, happy laugh that only made him smile wider. He knew then that he would never get tired of hearing those three words from her, and even if he wasn’t sure he still deserved them, very selfishly all he wanted was to hear them over and over again.

“I love you,” she repeated dutifully. “Now, move.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he murmured, burying his face in her neck, inhaling deeply before slowly sliding out of her then pushing back in just as slowly. He moaned at the sensation, her muscles welcoming him deep inside her, her hands pressing down on his ass. He could feel her breasts brushing against his chest, her foot on the back of his thigh, her breath on his shoulder as he started to pick up a pace, moving leisurely inside her, taking his time to savor her warmth, his body instinctively picking up the signals of her arousal. The little hitch in her breathing, the way her fingers were stiffening, the little mewls spilling from her lips every time he would thrust back in. He knew her body, he still knew it so well as if those three years had never happened and just like before, all he could think about was bringing her to completion, witness her falling head first into her pleasure, knowing he had been the one to take her there.

His lips searched for hers as one of his hands travelled down her body, gripping her thigh, pushing it up and holding her knee. Her skin was as soft as before, so silky and smooth and he mentally cursed himself once he realized he still hadn’t tasted her yet.

He thrust in deeper, knowing the way he had spread her open allowed him to bump on her clit whenever he would push back in and sure enough, Felicity started to keen at the new stimulation.

Spreading his knees for better leverage, he moved harder against her, his fingers digging into the flesh of her thigh. Felicity’s hands left his ass so she could circle his shoulders, the other arm curling around his back, holding him close to her. She crashed her lips against his shoulder, muffling her small cries of pleasure as he started to gain a steady rhythm. There was a fire growing at the base of his spine, and he squeezed his eyes shut to fight his body’s need to pound into her. Her bed was squeaking under them, but not loud enough to swallow the sounds that were coming out of Felicity’s mouth.

“Oh God… oh God, Oliver,” she moaned desperately in his ear, clinging to his body, trusting him to send her flying over the edge.

Oliver kept the same pace, letting her cries guide him, already feeling her walls fluttering around him. She was close, he could tell by how tight she was, her muscles tensing and when he circled his hips, grinding against her clitoris, she hissed then let out a strangled moan and he knew she was on the edge. It took two more deep thrusts and she was clenching down on him, her long wail echoing in the room as she found her relief.

The sounds she was making, the way her body was squeezing him was too much for Oliver, his needs taking over as soon as he felt her liquid heat bathing his cock. His hips lost any kind of rhythm as he sought out his own pleasure, the fire in his spine growing and growing until it finally exploded. With a deep grunt, he came, pushing deep inside her and holding still, his ears buzzing with the intensity of his climax.

Holy fuck.

Completely boneless, he let go of her thigh, which fell limply on the bed as he sagged against her, out of breath. Felicity was tracing small circles on his back, her lips grazing his temple and murmuring sweet nothings in his ear. Her touch was warm and soothing, her voice appeasing him and slowly lulling him back to reality. This. This was their first time all over again. No room for desperation and fear, only love and a deep connection.

He felt… alive.

He could have stayed there forever but he knew he was heavy and he shifted in her embrace, making sure most of his weight was resting on his elbows as his slipped his arms beneath her, his face snuggling in her neck.

“I love you,” he mumbled, promising himself he’d never let one day go without telling her ever again.

He felt her smile against his forehead as she whispered back, “I love you too.”

Not a single bone in his body wanted him to move but his softening cock eventually slipped out of her and he knew he had to take care of her. He also didn’t want to risk falling asleep with her, and the way she was stroking his hair was really making it hard for him to stay awake.

With a deep sigh, he eventually straightened on his hands and he dropped one small peck on the corner of her lips before getting up. He padded his way to the bathroom and after quickly taking care of himself, joined Felicity with a wet cloth and gently cleaned her thighs from the traces of their love-making. He was about to tell her he was going to sleep on the couch when she grabbed his hand, pulling on it with pleading eyes. He gulped, unable to deny her anything as he slipped back into bed, this time grabbing the comforter. Settling on his back, he let her snuggle in his embrace, her head resting on his heart, her hand stroking his chest.

“Looks like you still got it,” she said in a teasing voice.

He chuckled then, lacing through her hair lazily. “Looks like it, yes.”

“We didn’t use protection.”

He paused, his hand freezing in her hair. How could he have forgotten twice?!

“I don’t blame you,” she continued. “We stopped using condoms very early on… I didn’t even think about it either. I’ll go to the drugstore tomorrow, don’t worry.”

“I’m sorry, Felicity, I… I didn’t think.”

“It’s OK. It’s the end of my cycle so we should be more than safe and I’ll take care of it tomorrow morning anyway. But maybe we shouldn’t tempt the devil anymore. I don’t think you’d like being a father right now,” she chuckled sleepily.

He felt his throat tightening then because… God. Yes, the thought was terrifying him but… he also couldn’t deny that it had been a deep, secret dream of his. Before. Would he ever get back there? Would he ever be normal enough to maybe one day start a family with her? Would she want him to be the father of her children? He was damaged, would it be fair to impose his issues on innocent children?

Felicity’s head eventually grew heavier against his chest and her breathing became slower, deeper. He waited a few more minutes and, as delicately as possible, slipped out of her embrace. With one last kiss on her forehead, he made sure the duvet was covering her then quietly walked to the living room, picking up his sweatpants on the way.

The TV was still on, and he turned it off before making sure the door was locked and switching off all the lights. Then he grabbed a blanket from underneath the coffee table and laid down on the couch. He didn’t trust himself in his sleep and the image of that young woman he had strangled in a bar in Russia was still dancing in front of his eyes, way too vividly for him to take any chance with Felicity.

Slipping an arm behind his head, he sighed deeply, his eyes staring above him. The room was almost pitch dark, except for a small ray of light coming from the outside. All he could hear was the hand of the clock in Felicity’s kitchen, and the occasional speeding car in the street. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall asleep, despite how relaxed his body was. There were too many thoughts running through his head, about Felicity, about him, about his future. Their future. What exactly did he have to offer her in the long run?

The blanket he had grabbed smelled like Felicity’s shampoo and he took a deep breath, letting the so familiar green apple scent invade him. Without even realizing it, he drifted into sleep.

Small steps woke him up and his eyes opened suddenly. The small ray of light was now gone, replaced by the dawn’s very first light. The room was still mostly dark and it surprised him that he had slept several hours. He felt Felicity’s presence before she entered his field of vision and he shut his eyes before she could see he was awake. He wasn’t sure he was ready to explain to her why exactly he had deserted her bed. He felt the blanket shifting, lifting from his body, and the couch dipped underneath her weight when she kneeled, wedging herself between him and the back of the couch. He stiffened, knowing it wasn’t a good idea, but she snuggled in his arms, her head right underneath his chin, her hand caressing his neck and lacing his hair. He gulped then, because he still felt dead tired for some reason and she was so warm against him that he couldn’t bring himself to move away. Hesitantly, he lowered the arm that was beneath his head to wrap around her small frame. She relaxed against him, pressing a little kiss on his chest and slipped a leg between his, setting down more comfortably against him. Her fingers grazing his skull lulled him back to sleep almost effortlessly, chasing away his demons.

 

He finally woke up when the sun was high and bright despite the curtains of her living room. They had shifted in their sleep, Felicity still against the back of the couch but he was facing her now, both arms around her, holding her tight. Her thigh was still between his legs, her face burrowed in his chest. He could feel her breathing against his skin and he pressed a kiss on the top of her head, enjoying those few moments when he had her all to himself. She was wearing his T-shirt, he noticed and… yep. No underwear. Probably his favorite outfit on her. He breathed her in, enjoying the way her hair was tickling his nose and he was about to doze off again, when he noticed she was struggling in his arms, murmuring his name plaintively. He immediately let her go, scared he might have been holding her too tight and in the blink of an eye he was up, standing by the television.

She frowned, rubbing her eyes. “Are you OK?”

“Yeah. Are you?”

“Yes. Why are you standing there?”

“I… you were pushing me away.”

Felicity looked at him, tilting her head. “Because I need to pee, Oliver, not because I wanted you to move halfway across the country.”

With a sigh, she discarded the blanket then padded across the room. Oliver passed a tired hand across his face then made his way to the kitchen, making a small prayer before opening her fridge. To his surprise, he saw a carton of eggs and some bacon, as well as bread and mushrooms. There had definitely been some improvement in Felicity’s grocery shopping. He grabbed everything he needed, then closed the fridge with his foot. He was trying to figure out her coffee maker when Felicity walked in the kitchen.

“It’s a complicated beast but it makes amazing coffee,” she said before pressing a kiss on his shoulder.

“I’ll let you handle it then,” he smiled before making his way to the bathroom. He was flushing the toilet when he realized he had slept much, much longer than he had in a very long time. Of course he had woken up but still. He usually managed three to four hours of sleep and judging by the clock, he had slept almost eight hours. After washing his hands, he went to check on his cellphone which was still on Felicity’s nightstand. He only had one message from Thea asking if he was alright. He quickly replied, not lingering on the details, but promised he’d be home by tomorrow night at the latest.

When he walked back in the kitchen, Felicity was enjoying a cup of coffee, leaning against the counter.

“I didn’t start because I wasn’t sure what you wanted to do anyway,” she said, pointing to the ingredients by the stove.

“Omelette with cheese and mushrooms, bacon and toast?” he proposed.

“Sounds perfect to me,” she grinned, handing him a cup of coffee. “You still drink it black?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

She pinched her lips as she watched him take a sip. She was right, the coffee was really good.

“Why did you jump away from me, Oliver?”

His breath caught in his throat and he put his mug down, coughing. “I thought I was hurting you,” he eventually said, trying to keep his tone as neutral as possible.

“Why? And… is this why you didn’t stay with me?”

“... Yes. And the reason why is that…. I have been violent in the past. In my sleep or… right when I wake up.”

“So it’s not because you didn’t want to sleep with me?”

“No. Of course not,” he frowned, the idea utterly ridiculous to him. How could she even think that? He’d spend the rest of his life with her in his arms if he could.

“... I don’t want to ask about your scars but… if you want to tell me, you know I won’t judge, right?”

He stiffened, his fingers drumming against the counter.

“Oliver. You don’t have to shoulder all of that on your own. Don’t forget it. I think it would help you. Maybe consider telling me about them, one at a time? Or… well or that tattoo.”

Oliver nodded, turning around to grab a frying pan from a cupboard. He switched on the stove, waiting for the pan to be hot, then grabbed the bag of bacon. It was helping him, for some reason, to keep his hands busy with something as mundane as cooking breakfast. Like it was rooting him in reality, in a way.

“I got bit by a shark,” he said as he laid six slices of bacon on the pan. He saw from the corner of his eye the surprise on Felicity’s face. She probably hadn’t expecting him to open up but she was right. She had seen the scars and… if last night had taught him something it was that opening up to her lightened the weight on his shoulders. He wasn’t ready to tell her everything. He probably would never be and his head was still full of questions concerning them. But he wanted to show her he was doing his best.

“This one, I suppose?” she asked, her fingers trailing the scar on his flank.

“Yes. We had made some kind of a harpoon and I was trying to catch some fish and… I got bit.”

“... we?”

He tensed, his hand hovering over the sizzling bacon. “I… I wasn’t alone on the island.”

“I thought you told me no one else made it out alive?”

“There were some people there already.”

“Are they… are they still there?”

“No. One died. Then the three of us made it out.” He turned the bacon on the other side, then asked, “can you give me a plate?”

She must have understood he didn’t want to say anything more because she grabbed a plate and covered it with a paper towel, putting it by the stove. She then reached up on her toes, pecking his cheek. “I’m going to set the table.”

He looked at her as she walked away, regretting that she had put her pajama pants on.

“Dig is going to pick me up in one hour to go to the supermarket. Do you need anything?”

“Nope. Well… Just make sure to buy some proper food since I’m using most of what was in your fridge right now.”

“By the way, I took Monday and Tuesday off from work. I had planned on a spa and maybe a mani-pedi but… well, we have better things to do. My algorithm should be done today or tomorrow at the latest so I figured I could help you? I’ll also take care of that thing you call a desk computer.”

“Felicity…” he sighed as he threw the sliced mushrooms into the pan. “You know I don’t want you any more involved than you already are.”

“Oliver I’m not talking about gun-shopping or breaking into buildings. I don’t think I’d be in any danger in your… lair or whatever you call it. I’ll go with Dig if you prefer.”

“Felicity…”

“It’s not up for discussion, Oliver. You know I’m more than helpful. Also, don’t forget to ask your mother about the investigation.”

“I’ll talk to her tomorrow after dinner,” Oliver sighed, knowing it was pointless to argue with Felicity when she had that hard, stubborn look on her face. Not to mention he knew he couldn’t exactly afford to waste more time.

She looked at him, a bottle of orange juice in hand then winced, putting it down on the counter. She was by his side the next second, her hands circling his forearm. “I’m sorry. I’m really bossy this morning, right?”

Oliver huffed out a laugh because honestly… when was she not? It was something he had always found attractive for some reason. Probably because he wasn’t used to a woman standing up to him. They usually caved in or smiled, happy to be by the side of Oliver Queen. Felicity had been different right from the start. “I can’t say I’m not used to it.”

“Sorry. I’m afraid it’s only worse when I’m PMS-ing. Just so you know what you’re stepping into.”

He leaned down, pecking her lips. “Consider me warned.”

 

By the time their omelette was done, Felicity had toasted a few slices of bread and the table was set. Oliver was famished when he took his place next to her and judging by the way she attacked her plate, he wasn’t the only one. It was with a proud smirk that he started to eat because there was something extremely satisfying for his ego to see how much Felicity had worked up an appetite. She went to take a shower afterwards while he cleaned up the kitchen then went to make the bed and tidy the bedroom. He picked up the clothes that were lying around - mostly their underwear, putting them in the laundry basket and he was opening the windows when she walked out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her. Gulping, he let his eyes travel to her naked legs while she made her way to one of her drawers, completely oblivious to the way he was ravishing her in his mind. Damn. He wanted to throw her on the barely made bed, spread her thighs and-

She picked up matching underwear and he groaned when he saw the tiny piece of black fabric that was going to be her panties. Felicity looked up at him with questioning eyes, a satisfied little smirk appearing on her lips as she teasingly balanced the lacy bra on a finger. “Do we approve?”

“Yeah. We approve very much,” he answered as he sat down on the bed, keeping his eyes on her. She disappeared into her small walk-in closet and despite his best efforts he couldn’t help but stretch his neck, trying to get a glimpse. When she stepped back inside her bedroom, she was wearing some dark red overalls and a black top underneath, one that left a few inches of skin bare on her waist. Sitting down next to him, she put on a pair of socks, her damp hair hanging loosely around her face. She smelled so good that he found himself automatically leaning in and, before he could stop himself, blurted out, “don’t forget the condoms.”

Felicity giggled at his words, patting his thigh before standing up. “Don’t worry. I’ll get a big box. Jumbo size.”

With a deep sigh, he watched her retreating to the bathroom again but this time he followed her, getting rid of his sweatpants. She had just plugged in the hair dryer when he stepped inside the room and she smiled at him in the mirror, her eyes roaming over his body not so discreetly. With one cheeky wink, he stepped inside the shower and closed the curtain just as she started to dry her hair.

In the past they had made love an alarming number of times considering how very little time they had together. They had shared a bath, a shower and done countless other things. Yet, he had never felt such intimacy as he did in that moment. The two of them sharing the bathroom, going on with their little routine. It was oddly domestic, much more than making breakfast together and it almost scared him how much he loved it.

“Are you going to the gala on Saturday?” she asked once she had put the hair dryer away. “I know it’s a partnership between Merlyn Global and Queen Consolidated. I am invited, by the way.”

“No,” he winced as he rinsed the soap of his body. The idea of being thrown into a crowd of people was making him slightly nauseated. “No matter how much my mother tried to convince me.”

“Oh. OK. Well it should be the usual same old, same old. I’m only going to represent Palmer Tech, Ray will be on the East Coast.”

Oliver shut off the water then stepped out of the shower, grabbing the towel from the radiator. Quickly drying himself, he wrapped it around his waist as Felicity was applying what looked like the finishing touch of her makeup. Unable to resist, he delicately pushed her hair on the side, pressing a soft kiss on the back of her neck. “You look good enough to eat.”

Laughing, she shook her head then applied some lip balm while he started to brush his teeth. “Right back at you,” she smiled as she slapped his butt before heading out. Pausing on the threshold, she turned around, winking. “Maybe later if you’re nice.”

He grinned, his toothbrush still in his mouth because suddenly his afternoon was looking even better than he had thought. From what she had told him, they wouldn’t get the results of her searches before the end of the day. Plenty of time to ravish her any way he wanted to and… if she wanted to go down on him, he wasn’t about to stop her either. He shifted on his feet, the mere idea already affecting him as he remembered the first time she had done it. On her couch, while watching Dirty Dancing. And the way she had been so eager to please him, so enthusiastic…

He shook his head, rinsing his mouth. Later. They’d get to that later. Once again, he felt a little pinch in his heart, not sure how long exactly they would have together. Right now, they were in their bubble, safe in her apartment but he wasn’t fool enough to think it would be that easy afterwards. How long until he lost control? How long until he snapped and scared her? How long until he got targeted?

He heard a knock on Felicity’s door and tensed, even though he knew it was probably Dig. Her bubbly voice confirmed it was him and he relaxed, quickly getting dressed. He was putting his henley on when Felicity appeared on the threshold, her purse thrown across her shoulder.

“I’m leaving now…” she trailed off, staring at his chest. “Damn. You better not change clothes before I get back,” she added in a breath.

He smirked, pushing his sleeves up to his elbows and he raised an eyebrow in surprise at the small strangled moan that escaped her.

“Hum, Felicity. Dig is waiting for you,” he eventually said, his mouth twitching as she was glued to her spot, her eyes fixed on his arms.

“Yes. Dig. Supermarket. Condoms. Good idea,” she mumbled before taking a step forward, her hand tracing the flat line of his stomach. “Really, really good idea.”

Oliver coughed, fighting to keep his laugh at bay. He couldn’t deny it was extremely flattering to see her fascination with his body. And soothing to know she was attracted to it rather than repulsed. But he had just taken control over himself and the way she was biting her lips, her fingers trailing the outlines of the muscles of his abdomen was tempting his resolve a bit too much. “Later,” he promised before pressing a small peck on her lips.

“Yes. Later,” she nodded, her voice much stronger. With one last tap on his abs, she sighed deeply then walked out of the room. He heard her front door closing then went to lay his towel back on the radiator. He made sure the room was tidy before switching off the light and heading to the living room. The place seemed oddly empty without Felicity around, yet still had that same homey, comfortable vibe. He tidied her couch, folding the blanket and putting it back underneath the coffee table, then plopped onto the comfy cushions, switching the television on. It wasn’t as if there was a lot he could do anyway. He put his feet up on the small table, crossing his ankles as he started to zap, settling on a cooking channel. They were preparing a lemon meringue pie, which he knew was one of Felicity’s favorite desserts. He was far from being an accomplished cook, his expertise merely covering breakfast and basic recipes, but he still paid attention, thinking that maybe one day he could surprise her with one.

Twenty minutes later, he went to get a pen and a sheet of paper from Felicity’s printer, then sat down on the floor in order to scribble down instructions for a baked french toast recipe. Felicity had a sweet tooth, and it seemed easy enough for him to try it one day. The tablecloth was making it hard for him to write and he swiftly pushed it away, his eyes still focused on how the pan was supposed to be greased with butter.

He noted down the ingredients, glancing every now and then for directions, secretly hoping Felicity had at least one baking pan.

“Bake uncovered for 40 minutes,” he mumbled, scribbling down. “Check after…”

He suddenly frowned once he saw a little flash of silver on the table. It was only then that he realized he hadn’t been writing on the usual wood surface but on something that looked like glass. French toast suddenly forgotten, his hand reached out and pushed the rest of the cloth until the table was completely uncovered. A lump formed in his throat once he saw exactly why there was a layer of glass on what had always been a wood table before.

The puzzle he had started, and never finished, was still there. The frame was done, and about a third of the pieces were all in place, but he saw right away that Felicity hadn’t touched it in three years. He gulped, taking in every little piece, how unfinished it looked. How unfinished their story had been.

Oliver could still remember his conversation with Andrew, when they had talked about his late wife. He could still remember the pain he had felt at the mere idea of going through what the older man had when he had lost the love of his life. The twisting burn in his heart when he had thought about a world where Felicity wouldn’t exist any longer. How unbearable that concept had been for those few seconds where his brain had dared to imagine the unimaginable.

His three years had been hell but he had always known she was alive, safe. Living her life.

She hadn’t had that comfort and suddenly seeing that puzzle in front of his eyes made him realize what she had probably gone through. He had started to hate himself so much that he had lost sight of the people who loved him, unable to even comprehend how he could inspire this kind of emotion. He still didn’t know how she still loved him or why she wanted to be with him. She was everything to him, the one that had made him a better man from the start but… he hadn’t done anything for her of the same kind. And yet… he had the proof, right in front of him, of how much she had never really been able to move on.

Suddenly, he remembered his conversation with Dig, one week earlier.

 

“She has… what? She has started to move on? On what earth, Oliver?!  You really… you have no idea, do you?”

“No idea of what?” 

“Of how much she loved you.”

 

Felicity had always been more guarded. She always held her cards close to her chest, especially in love. He had never doubted her love, even before she had told him those three precious little words before falling asleep, the last words he had heard from her before his life had turned into hell. But he had never comprehended, not until that very moment, the depth of her pain, too blinded by his self-hatred.

“Those three years were hell, Oliver. I lost you. Forever. I had to accept that you were never coming back, had to accept I’d never wake up in your arms again. I had to face that life that was ahead of me, a life without you and I was never able to really let go.”

Yet, she had gone on with her life. She had straightened her shoulders, and kept walking despite the obvious pain she kept hidden underneath a tablecloth. She had always been strong and he wondered once more if he would have been able to do the same if the tables had been turned.

The tables could still be turned - a sneaky voice whispered from the back of his head. He forced himself to push it away, desperately trying to not go there.

Grabbing the tablecloth, he smoothed it over the glass, making sure she wouldn’t notice he had moved anything. He wasn’t sure she was ready to share that with him yet, and he knew he might not be either. Accepting the fact that she had mourned him was bringing them way too close to his deepest fear and he could already feel his heart starting to beat faster.

Once again, he reminded himself that she was safe. As long as no one knew what she meant to him, she’d remain safe. He took a few deep breaths, then eventually stood up and went to place the recipe he had noted on her fridge. Pouring himself a glass of water, he gulped it down, his heart slowing down. His phone buzzing forced his thoughts away and he couldn’t help but smile once he saw Felicity had sent him a text.

Felicity 11:57 AM - Mission condoms accomplished.

Felicity 11:57AM - You better be waiting for me naked, a rose between your teeth.

He chuckled, quickly typing his answer.

Do you even have roses?

Felicity 12:01PM - … damn. No I don’t. I have a ficus though.

Isn’t it poisonous?

Felicity 12:03PM - Ugh. It’s also a lot less sexy than a rose.

Felicity 12:03PM - ABORT! ABORT!

So no ficus then?

Felicity 12:05PM - We’re picking up food and Dig is eating with us. Stay fully clothed. I repeat, stay fully clothed.

Felicity 12:05PM - You have no idea how much it pained me to write that, btw.

Felicity 12:07PM - The stay fully clothed part, I mean. I’m glad Dig is eating with us :)

Felicity 12:08PM - We’ll get to the naked part later though. I have supplies. Lots of supplies.

?

Felicity 12:10PM - Condoms, Oliver. I bought four boxes. We should be good.

Oliver’s eyebrows reached his hairline. Wow. OK. Felicity had always been ambitious and very, very enthusiastic but damn… four. He would have to step up his game.

Felicity 12:10PM - I mean, no pressure. I have an appointment with my obgyn on Tuesday but I’m not sure the pill will be effective right away... and I remember how we were when we first got together.

Oliver smirked, remembering very well how they had gone at it like bunnies. He never had that much sex in such a short period of time and it had been absolutely amazing. Honeymoon phase at its fullest. He wasn’t sure it’d be that way again, the both of them more hesitant this time but she was right. Better be safe than sorry.

Alright, but now I’m naked on your bed for nothing.

Felicity 12:11PM - I’m sorry? You’ll punish me later ;)

Felicity 12:12PM - Oops, gotta go. We’re stopping to get food at Big Belly, do you want something special?

Whatever you want ;)

He grinned, then after a second thought, added:

I love you.

Felicity 12:15PM - I love you too.

 

Oliver stared at his screen with probably the goofiest smile ever until the sleep mode kicked in. He had to focus on what he had right now, and not let his irrational fears take over.

Also, he apparently had four boxes of condoms to put to good use.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Pony"

 

I'm just a bachelor
I'm looking for a partner
Someone who knows how to ride
Without even falling off

Gotta be compatible
Takes me to my limits
Girl when I break you off
I promise that you won't want to get off

[Chorus:]
If you're horny, let's do it
Ride it, my pony
My saddle's waiting
Come and jump on it

If you're horny, let's do it
Ride it, my pony
My saddle's waiting
Come and jump on it

Sitting here flossing
Peeping your steelo
Just once if I have the chance
The things I will do to you
You and your body
Every single portion
Send chills up and down your spine
Juices flowing down your thigh

[Chorus]

If we're gonna get nasty, baby
First we'll show and tell
Till I reach your ponytail
Lurk all over and through you baby
Until we reach the stream
You'll be on my jockey team

 

 

 

 

“I’m sorry,” Dig said once they were both in his car.

Surprised, Felicity turned her head to face him. “About…?”

“Oliver. I didn’t tell you. I didn’t like lying to you and neither did he, by the way but… I understood his reasons. I’ll be totally honest, I still understand them. Even though you had the right to know exactly why he pushed you away.”

“I… I don’t blame you. Oliver is your friend and you didn’t want to betray him. I respect that, especially since we both know he desperately needed someone he could trust and rely on. I’m glad it was you. Even though I wish he’d have come to me first, I understand that I probably wasn’t what he needed. You can understand what he went through better than me. I don’t blame you at all, I’m glad he opened up to someone.”

“You’re gonna have to be patient with him, Felicity. It’s… it’s not going to be a smooth ride. You were right. He has changed and I’m not talking about his appearance. If I can give you advice it is to not let him push you away every time. Respect his boundaries but also show him that you’re by his side… whether he likes it or not.”

“Any wisdom you’d like to share with me?” she asked with a smile.

“Choose your battles. There are things he won’t be ready to give or tell you, and things he will be afraid of. I think you know him well enough to tell the difference between them… so don’t take it personally if he doesn’t confide in you.”

She pondered his words, knowing that for now, she and Oliver were still very much in their bubble. Once they’d have to face the outside world, things were bound to change. “For now, things are… more than good. But I know it won’t last. We’re not facing anything at the moment. Just… all I’m asking from you is the same thing I asked from him. Now that I’ve been brought into the fold… don’t lie to me about this. If there is something you can’t tell me, don’t lie. Just admit you’re keeping a secret.”

“Fair enough,” Dig nodded. “Just remember that everything he has done has been out of love for you. Same goes for me.”

“And this is why you’re both still alive and in one piece,” she pointed out teasingly. “But I won’t have the same restraint in the future.”

Dig chuckled, shaking his head as he turned into the parking lot of a Walgreen’s. She had smoothly asked him to stop by, leaving the reason out. There were some things better left unsaid.

As Dig was waiting in the car, she quickly made her way to the Men’s Health Care aisle. There was quite a big selection of condoms, various brands as well as the usual lubes.

“Ribbed for her pleasure?” Felicity hummed, picking up the box. Not that she really needed the extra boost, though. She carefully placed the box back on its shelf once she saw it was only regular size. Oliver needed something a bit more… large. She was a very lucky girl, after all.

On the bottom shelf, she eventually spotted the brand she had bought the first time they had gotten together and picked up a box. Fourteen condoms.

“Mmmh.” She twitched her mouth, deep in thought, then grabbed another box, counting on her fingers. Last time they had had sex… twelve times. In technically less than 8 days. That meant one box should last them about a week.

Biting her lips, she stared at the couple of boxes in her hands then added two more, to be on the safe side.

She was about to straighten up when she saw a bottle of what seemed to be a 2 in 1 lube and massage gel. Oliver used to like her massages and maybe this could be a nice way for them to reconnect. Something slow and intimate.

Standing up, she picked up the Durex Play Sensual Massage 2 in 1, snickering when she realized that the shape was very similar to a dildo. Maybe she should just take some regular massage gel or oil, though, no need to -

“Oh, Felicity, good. I can’t remember if Oliver had used compresses when he cleaned your cut, do you...” Dig’s voice trailed off as she turned around to face him. He suddenly looked around him, frowning, apparently wondering why she was in the men’s aisle.

She gulped then, her eyes dropping to the condoms she was holding protectively against her chest and the dildo-shaped bottle of lube in her other hand. Dig’s gaze followed hers, a deeply uncomfortable expression growing on his face once he saw how she was gripping the lubricant.

“Oh my God, I’m sorry,” she blurted out, throwing everything into the basket.

... Felicity... you don't have a basket.

She squeezed her eyes shut, breathing through her nose to gather enough courage to face whoever's basket she had just hijacked.

A beaming man, who was at least in his eighties, was the first thing she saw. He grinned at her, nodding approvingly at the sight of what she had dropped in his basket.

Dig looked at her, mouth agape, then covered his eyes, turning around. “I’ll… I’ll wait for you in the car.”

“I’m… I’m so sorry,” Felicity mumbled, her face a deep shade of red as she grabbed her belongings back, noticing the six bottles of moisturizer the man had apparently bought.

Jeez, six bottles?

Putting the lube back on its shelf, she hid the boxes in her arms as she all but ran away from the man who was trying to invite her to dinner. To say that she was extremely reluctant to face Dig was putting it mildly. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know that she and Oliver were sexually active, or couldn’t guess they would have picked up right away, but still. He had caught her red-handed with four - four! - boxes of condoms and what looked like a sex toy.

He must think I’m planning to cure Oliver of his PTSD by banging him brainless.

When she finally stepped outside the pharmacy, he was waiting for her behind the wheel, his eyes fixed straight ahead.

She sheepishly sat down, her hands playing with the strap of her purse. “Hum… just so you know it wasn’t a… a...” She bit her lips, knowing whatever word she could use would only make things worse.

“Let’s never mention this again,” Dig said quietly as he started the car.

 

They didn’t make eye contact until they were driving back to their building, almost two hours later, with two bags of take-out from Big Belly waiting on the backseat.

“Are you sure you’re gonna manage?” Dig asked her as they unloaded the car.

“Yup,” she answered, slipping a third bag around her forearm before grabbing the one that held their lunch in her other hand. “I can do this.”

They quickly made their way to the entrance of their building, Diggle continuing to his floor to put his own groceries in the fridge while she walked to her own apartment. Her hands full, she knocked on the door, waiting patiently until Oliver let her in. His eyes widened in surprise before taking the bags from her.

“Dig will be there in a minute,” she told him after a quick kiss, setting their food on the dining table. Oliver was already in the kitchen, storing away what she had bought. She followed him, grabbing a glass and filling it with water before opening her purse, fishing for one of the small boxes she had bought at the pharmacy. She opened it up, then pressed the pill in the palm of her hand, swallowing it with a gulp of water. Oliver looked at her, a cantaloupe in one hand and a pack of cheese in the other and she almost choked at the confusion in his eyes.

“Plan B,” she winked before opening the cupboard underneath the sink and throwing away the empty package. “Just to make sure.”

“Oh,” he said, his eyes dropping to what he was still holding in his hands. He seemed to finally shake out of his trance as he stored them in the fridge before emptying another bag. “And is it… is it OK to use that?”

“Yeah. It’s like the pill only… for emergencies.”

“You’ve used it before?”

“No,” she replied as she brought two bottles of beer and her glass of water to the dining table. Oliver followed her, rubbing the back of his neck and she frowned, wondering what had gotten into him all of a sudden. “OK, we have about one and a half minute before Dig knocks on this door. What’s wrong?”

“Just… I hadn’t realized you were talking about the morning-after pill when you said you were going to take care of it. I thought you just meant we’d use condoms from now on.”

“Yeah, that too, but using condoms now isn’t going to guarantee I didn't get pregnant from the sex we had last night.”

“If it had happened three years ago would you… would you have also taken that pill?” he asked, his eyes avoiding hers.

Her heart sank at the question he wasn’t asking. “Oliver. If this had happened three years ago, when I was barely 21 and had started a new job, I wouldn’t have waited until the next morning. I would have run to the nearest drugstore as soon as possible. This… this is not because of you. I don’t want kids right now. Do you?”

“... No. It wouldn’t be right.”

“Exactly,” she whispered, cradling his face between her hands. “I just want to make sure we don’t have to face an unplanned pregnancy on top of everything else. But one day, I know that this might happen again and I won’t feel the need to run to the nearest drugstore.”

“OK,” he nodded with a small smile. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pressure you. I was just… I was just wondering.”

“It’s OK,” she grinned. “I remember you were very enthusiastic at the prospect before. But I’d very much like to conquer the world first if you don’t mind.”

He chuckled, dropping a kiss on her forehead. “Fair enough.”

A knock on the door interrupted them and as Oliver went to open it she sat down, unpacking their lunch. Oliver sat by her side, Dig opposite them with the second bag of food.

“Cheeseburger for me,” Felicity chirped as she unloaded the bags, “double bacon cheeseburger for you aaaaand bacon BBQ for Dig.”

She waited until Dig had given Oliver his extra fries and set the onion rings in the center of the table, the smell of food already making her mouth water. She cast a small glance at Oliver, who was munching on a couple of fries, the sour expression on his face gone as he started to talk about baseball with Dig. She still wasn’t quite sure what had brought up his insecurities but she had a strong suspicion it was directly linked to how difficult it was for him to see a future for himself - and therefore for them as well. She was relieved to see it hadn’t seemed to run any deeper than that, but knew they would probably have to talk about it at some point. Yet another topic to add to the long list of things they needed to discuss.

Communication really was the key to any relationship but especially when you had spent three years apart.

She knew it wouldn’t be easy, and that their struggles would be much more complicated than couples usually faced. She could see how sometimes his eyes were drifting away, putting some distance between them, reverting to his instincts and she had seen the scars he bore. Even though she had known he had suffered mentally, seeing the proof on his body as well had been sobering. Someone had hurt him and judging by some of the scars, it had been done on purpose. It had been such a close call, thinking that she might have never gotten him back, the trauma he had been through damaging some parts of himself she wasn’t sure he’d ever get back.

Grabbing her burger, she took a big bite, distractedly listening to some random statistics about home runs. She didn’t mind not being a part of their conversation, perfectly happy to hear Oliver’s voice, knowing it was something she would probably never get tired of. She grabbed an onion ring, eating half of it and putting it down on her plate before taking a sip of water. Putting her glass down, she was about to take another bite when her eyes were attracted by Oliver opening his burger. She was about to ask if something was wrong with it when he just fished out the three small slices of pickle and put them on her plate, not even glancing at her once as if he had done it out of habit more than anything else. He licked his fingers clean, chuckling at something Dig said, completely unaware of what he had awoken in her. A big lump in her throat, she gulped, the gesture oh so familiar, a habit he had taken so early, way before they had even started dating. He had always complained about how she would steal his fries, but at the same time always gave her his pickles, knowing she was borderline addicted to them. It felt so… weird, to see those three slices lying innocently on her plate, Oliver apparently oblivious to what he had done, unaware that no one had ever done that for her again ever since he went missing, because no one had really paid attention to the things she liked the way he always had.

Truth be told, she had forgotten. She had forgotten that adorable habit of his, one of so, so many he had, and it hurt her deeply to realize that without even being conscious of it, she had slowly started to forget him. How many other things would she have had to live without if he hadn’t come back? How many little attentions she had slowly but surely taken for granted, then eventually forgotten, despite how much they had made her smile? All those little details had been what had made her feel special to him.

Her appetite suddenly gone, she put down her burger and wiped her hands before mumbling an apology and heading to the bathroom.

She washed her hands then, letting the cool water run on the inside of her wrists, an old trick of hers whenever she felt nervous or overwhelmed. Sniffling, she eventually turned it off and dried her hands on a towel before closing the toilet lid and sitting down, tearing some toilet paper to blow her nose.

It was ridiculous. Who cried over some stupid pickles?! They weren't even home-made for God's sake!

Eventually she heard a small scratching sound at the door, followed by Oliver’s concerned voice. “Felicity? Are you OK?”

“Yes. Yes I’m fine,” she replied, blowing her nose one last time.

There was a pause then Oliver asked, “can I come in?”

She bit her lips, not wanting him to see her so… emotional, but at the same time knew that it wouldn’t be right to hide herself from him, while asking him to open up. “Yes.”

The door opened slowly, until Oliver’s worried face appeared. “What’s wrong? We just finished our meal. Are you feeling sick?”

She shook her head, a trembling smile on her lips.

“Oh, baby, what’s going on?” he asked softly, walking inside the room and closing the door behind him. He kneeled in front of her, his hands resting on her lap.

Her throat tight, she shrugged then eventually breathed, “you gave me your pickles,” before her chin started to tremble again.

Oliver looked at her in confusion, then blinked several times. “I’m really sorry?” he eventually asked hesitantly.

“I forgot you used to give me your pickles, Oliver. I just… you know, every time you did, I got the tingles in my belly. I used to pretend it was nothing, just me being happy that Oliver Queen, playboy of the year for the fifth time in a row, was probably seeing me differently, but… it wasn’t true. I was just falling in love with you little by little and every time you were doing that, or bringing my favorite latte, or destroying a fax machine or probably a dozen other things, it was just something… something just between us. And I forgot. I forgot about those tingles, I forgot how it felt to have someone who notices those little things I like while you… you still remember.”

Oliver delicately brushed a tear from her cheek before grabbing her hand, holding it tight. “Why did you get me a bacon cheeseburger?”

“It’s your favorite,” she replied automatically.

“Why did you put my bag on the left side of the bed yesterday?”

“That’s where you sleep.”

“How did you know there was something bothering me earlier about the pill?”

“You rubbed the back of your neck,” she answered with a watery smile, sensing where he was heading with his questions.

“Why did you buy a cantaloupe?”

“It’s the fruit you prefer for breakfast.”

“And how do you know that?” He grinned, his hand rubbing her thigh in a soothing pattern.

“Because you always ordered it when we went on our business trip for QC.”

“See? You didn’t forget about me, honey,” he whispered, his eyes soft and warm.

She nodded, accepting the toilet paper he was handing her and drying her cheeks.

“What do you think of reheating your plate and eating on the couch, in front of the TV? I’ll even let you watch Dr Who without complaining.”

“I think it’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever had,” she grinned as they stood up. “I’m sorry. I don’t even know why I reacted that way. You’ve been through so much worse and-”

“Shhh,” he interrupted her with a finger on her lips. “I know those last months have been tough on you and I clearly didn’t help.”

Entwining their fingers, he led her to the living room where she was surprised to see that Dig was gone.

Answering her before she could even ask her question, Oliver explained, “he told me to call him if we needed him. I think those four boxes of condoms traumatized him. Now go sit on the couch, I’ll bring your food.”

With a smile, she took off her shoes, dropping them by the door, and snuggled in the corner of her couch, near the small table. Turning the TV on, she smiled when she saw that Oliver had been watching the cooking channel and shook her head, zapping until she found old reruns of the A-Team. Oliver brought her glass of water and a few napkins then her plate with most of her burger, several onion rings and a handful of fries… as well as the three pickles. She smiled in gratitude as she sat cross-legged, her stomach growling. She finished her meal in record time, then put her plate on the coffee table and grabbed a blanket before snuggling in Oliver’s arms. She let out a deep, happy sigh as his arms circled her, her hand slipping underneath his henley, caressing his flat stomach absentmindedly. Oliver eventually put his feet up on the coffee table and it barely took two minutes for Felicity to have her attention drifting from the television to his toes. Oliver had big feet, which wasn’t surprising since he also had a big… well. Everything was very well proportioned. She had never really paid attention before to how attractive a man’s feet could be. Unless it was only Oliver’s feet. Which was actually more than probable. She didn’t even realize her fingers had wandered near the button of his pants, sliding underneath the belt and grazing the small trail of hair until Oliver shifted underneath her, clearing his throat.

One quick glance and she was smirking at the sight of the visible bulge growing on the front of his jeans. Unable to resist, she palmed him, feeling him growing in her hand.

“Felicity,” he hissed, his hips bucking.

“Shhh,” she answered before straightening up and straddling him. Her mouth was on his before he had the time to say anything else and judging by the way he gripped her waist, his thumb stroking the small patch of naked skin between her top and the overalls, he wasn’t about to complain anyway. The fire grew much quicker than it had last night in her room and soon enough, Oliver’s shirt was flying across the room, her hands roaming all over his chest. Their lips locking again, he blindly reached for the shoulder straps of her overalls, opening them and as soon as she pulled away to catch her breath, her top was joining his. She could feel him underneath her, hard and ready for her and she knew they wouldn’t last long. Before she lost her mind, she quickly got up, ignoring Oliver’s protests and rushed to the kitchen, fishing for a box of condoms in her purse. She didn’t want to risk it a third time.

She was back in the blink of an eye, dropping the box on the couch beside Oliver but before she had the time to go back in his arms, he leaned forward, his arms circling her waist as he nuzzled her stomach. She laced through his hair while he peppered kisses over her belly, his hand slipping underneath her panties to knead her backside.

Her breathing shortened, the feel of his rough stubble against her skin electrifying her in the best possible way.

Resting his chin against her belly button, he raised his eyes until he could meet hers and she smiled, stroking his jaw, savoring the way he leaned into her touch, his eyes fluttering closed. With one last kiss on her stomach, he slowly turned her around, then unbuttoned the sides of her pants. Rolling her hips, she shimmied out of them, knowing the small lacy thong she had picked out in the morning would probably meet his approval.

She was proved right two seconds later when the pants dropped around her ankles and Oliver let out a groan, his hands landing roughly on the cheeks of her ass.

“Jesus Christ,” he whispered, massaging the soft flesh, tracing the hem of the tiny panties with his fingertips.

The loud smack that echoed in the room startled her as much as the sudden burn on her butt. It took her a few seconds to realize he had spanked her, not brutally at all, but enough to cause a flash of heat on her skin.

“You said I could punish you,” Oliver murmured, the words almost muffled as he pressed his lips against the other cheek.

She yelped when he bit down on the flesh, then relaxed when his tongue soothed the ache.

Wow.

She rubbed her thighs together, the small pain only making her more hungry for him.

Oliver’s lips started to travel all over her backside while one of his hands sneaked around her waist, resting over her mound until she slightly widened her stance, just enough to allow him to slip his palm between her legs. He pressed hard and she pushed her butt against his lips in reaction, meeting his groan of approval.

“Take off your bra,” he ordered, trailing kisses from the small of her back to her flank.

Obediently, she did as he told, her arms reaching behind her back before she even realized what she was doing. The lacy fabric slipping across her nipples as she took it off made her sigh, the small friction making the little buds even harder.

Oliver’s hand started to rub between her thighs, slowly, leisurely, stoking the heat until she was moaning out loud, the need in her core growing too big for her to keep silent. She was already wet and Oliver’s softs words of encouragement were only turning her on even more.

All of a sudden, his hand left her and she keened at the loss of contact, her thighs squeezing automatically to bring some pressure back. His fingers slipped underneath the small strips of fabric on her hips then slowly pulled down until the underwear was rolled up underneath her ass. His hands then circled her thighs, pushing the fabric lower and lower until it eventually fell on the ground, over the pants that were still around her feet. She moved then, turning around just in time to see Oliver opening his belt and the buttons of his pants, shoving them down with his underwear until they passed his knees. He kicked out of them then grabbed a condom from the box and tore the small foil package open, sheathing himself. He grabbed her hand, staring at her, and pulled on her arm until one of her knees rested on the sofa by his thigh.

“Ride me,” he said, his hand pressing on her ass until she was straddling him. She was slightly higher than him in that position, her knees slipping on the fabric of the cushions until she was pressed against his length. She moaned, closing her eyes when she felt him there and couldn’t help but roll her hips, sliding up and down the heavy shaft, coating it with her juices. The swollen head of his cock bumped against her clit and she gripped his shoulders to keep her balance. Oliver’s breathing was ragged and she opened her eyes, meeting his. He was staring at her, his gaze hungry and impatient and she nodded before shifting back a few inches, enough to slip a hand between them and hold him in place while she sank down on his length.

Her groan mirrored his when she felt him stretching her walls, his hands tightening around the globes of her ass as he guided her movements. She slid up, then down again, savoring the way he felt inside her then reached out for the back of the couch, gripping it tightly as she started to move, her rhythm quickly gaining speed as the fire inside her started to spread.

One of Oliver’s hands left her backside and he presented two fingers in front her mouth, pressing against her lips. Automatically, she sucked on them, noticing the way his eyes darkened visibly when she circled them with her tongue, imagining she was playing with something much, much bigger. Soon. Very soon.

He slipped his fingers out of her mouth and wedged them between their bodies until he reached her sex. He gently pressed against her clitoris, rolling the little bud delicately, the flash of pleasure causing her to slam down on his cock, her nails digging into the back of the couch as she started to ride him harder, little mewls escaping her lips as her pleasure started to build.

Desperate to taste him, she kissed him, her hair falling around their faces as their tongues battled for dominance.

Their lips parted when she gasped suddenly, the wave she was riding taking her higher and higher, the coil of pressure in her core growing impossibly tight.

She bit her lips, sliding up and falling back down on him faster, harder, Oliver’s fingers coaxing her closer and closer until one stroke finally pushed her over the edge.

“Oh… oh… ooooh,” she panted, wincing in pleasure as she fell head first into her orgasm, savoring the slides of heat in her core, the way her walls were tightening around him. Out of breath, she sagged in his arms, her thighs burning.

His fingers left her as he circled her waist, lifting her and rotating them until she was on her back, Oliver still inside her. Her thighs fell open on the couch, too numb to cling to him as he started to push inside her, his head buried in the crook of her neck.

One of his hands was still holding her ass, pushing her up to meet his thrusts, and all she could do was circle his shoulders with her arms and hold onto him as he sought his own relief. His hips were slamming into her, his pace furious, his hunger betrayed by the muffled grunts in her ear.

He came with a low groan, pressing himself against her, thrusting a couple more times as he rode his own wave of pleasure.

He eventually let go of her butt and shifted until they were both on their sides, their hearts beating wildly. She kissed him softly, her hand traveling across his chest, damp with his sweat as he tried to catch his breath.

“I am so going down on you next time,” he breathed, his finger pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

She grinned, remembering very well how incredibly good Oliver was at that. “I definitely won’t complain.”

With one last kiss, he pulled out of her then tied the condom, dropping it on the floor, and grabbed the blanket to drape over them.

She yawned, stretching her limbs, smiling at the soreness she felt in all the right places.

“Nap?” he asked as she curled up against him.

“Mmhmmh,” she nodded, her eyes already closing.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"

 

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming,
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we're together
And I just wanna stay with you
In this moment forever, forever and ever

I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

I don't wanna miss one smile
I don't wanna miss one kiss
Well, I just wanna be with you
Right here with you, just like this

I just wanna hold you close
I feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Don't wanna close my eyes
Don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
and I'd still miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep, yeah
I don't wanna miss a thing
I don't wanna miss a thing

 

 

 

 

She was awoken less than an hour later by an alert coming from her phone.

“Don’t move,” Oliver whispered before climbing over her. She heard him open the trash can in the kitchen, probably throwing the used condom away, then he was back, carrying her purse where the beeping sound was still coming from.

Groaning, she sat up, rubbing her eyes and she turned it off. “Algorithm reporting for duty,” she explained with a yawn. Damn, she wouldn’t have minded another thirty minutes of sleep.

“Should we head to the foundry?” Oliver asked, his voice neutral. She turned her head to face him, her eyes narrowing. There was something in the way he was looking at her, as if he was holding onto something but she didn’t know what.

“Well we can also stay here. I can get the results on my own laptop if you prefer?” she asked, wondering if her suspicions were right.

The flicker of relief that passed on his face confirmed that there was indeed something going on. “Yeah, if you don’t mind.”

“Is there a reason why you’d rather we stay here instead of heading to the foundry?”

“No… just… we’re safe here,” he shrugged. “Might as well stay inside.”

She could sense there was something more going on, and it probably had to do with the fact that he had left the world outside her apartment. Here it was comfortable, familiar, a place he knew very well, surroundings he could control. Maybe the way he had been relaxing in the last 24 hours had more to do with the fact that he was in a place where he could actually lower his guard, more than anything else. Either way, Oliver needed a break and if she could offer him that, she would. Even though she could tell that at some point they would have to face the outside world and that it might cause some friction between them.

“I should get dressed,” she said, knowing that for now they had other things to attend to. She was about to get up when she realized she still had her socks on. Giggling, she wiggled her toes, shaking her head. “And I thought I was doing a number on you with my sexy lingerie.”

Oliver huffed out a laugh as he glanced at her feet, his hand stroking her thigh. “I only noticed the lack of freezing toes on my calves.”

“Did you sleep?” she asked.

“No. But those were some very good episodes of the A-Team,” he smiled reassuringly. “And it felt good to tune out a bit.”

With one small peck on his cheek, she stood up, picking up her clothes, then made her way to the bedroom. She got dressed, tying her hair and when she was back in the living room, she saw that Oliver had tidied the room and was fully clothed as well.

Mmmhh… that henley…

She forced her eyes away from the way the deep grey shirt was clinging to his figure, showcasing his strong forearms. She could tell her lust for him was awakening once more, so similar to how it had felt the first time. Now that he was with her, by her side, it was as if her heart was satisfied, and her body was now asking for its turn. She had three years of Oliver-induced orgasms to catch up on, after all.

All in due time. All in due time.

“Call Dig,” she told him as she cleared her dining table, setting her laptop and her tablet on it. It took her a few minutes to access the information her searches had found and by the time Dig was knocking on her door, she had already launched a scan to find out the common guests at each event.

“I am printing the list of all the events that Robert went to. We found all of them now,” she told him as soon as he sat down. Oliver was making coffee, and it made her smile to see him bring her a cup. He winked at her as he put the mug down, probably remembering how, back when she was still his assistant, he had been the one to bring her coffee and not the other way around.

“We have several galas, two openings for new buildings, a few charity dinners, three receptions to celebrate whatever achievements. They happened in different places, organized by at least four different event planners. All were in Starling, though. Or around Starling.”

“Why are some marked down in his agenda and others are not?” Dig asked.

“I wondered about that too. Oliver?”

“I’m not surprised. Usually, my mom took care of that, she was the one who noted down everything in her own agenda. The ones we will find in my dad’s papers are the ones he was supposed to attend as CEO. The other ones were as Robert Queen and it’s not surprising they’re not in his professional agenda.”

“I am making several lists of the attendees. The first list will be the people who attended all of the events, then the second one will be those who attended all of the events but one, and so on and so on,” Felicity explained as several tabs began to pop up on her screen. “I don’t think we should only focus on those who were always there, because accidents can happen. But at least it will give us a clear idea of the usual crowd.”

Felicity stood up, walking to the printer and snatching a few papers where all the events had been listed, along with a bit of information for each - date, place, occasion, event planner, and so on. She handed them to Oliver, adding, “see if anything rings a bell?”

As the printer started to work again, she went to pick up the first list of guests. Unsurprisingly, Robert Queen was the first name she saw.

“There’s a bunch of people I never heard of here, but also a few familiar names,” she mumbled, her eyes scanning through the documents. “Including Isabel. Well. Long time no see, Ms Rochev. She was one of my main suspects a few months ago,” she explained when she saw Oliver’s eyes widening in surprise.

“Was? Did you find anything?”

“No. She’s been very quiet. Went back to work for her old company only recently. That doesn’t mean she has nothing to do with this, though.”

While Felicity started to search for any other unusual event in Starling the last three years, Oliver and Dig were cross-checking the lists she had pulled out, the three of them working mostly in silence, the TV as the only background sound in the room.

“Wait a second,” Dig said eventually, dropping his papers to flip through what had turned into an impressive pile of notes. “Those events, by who were they planned?”

Felicity frowned, standing up from her seat. “I made sure the event planners were all added in what I gave you.”

“No. Those are the event planners. But who was behind that? Who hired those people? Because if I remember correctly, the gala for Children of the Glades was organized by QC. I was there as extra security for you, Oliver.”

Oliver furrowed his brow as he obviously searched his memory. “Was that the one when I got caught with one of the benefactors’ wife in the ladies room?” He asked, scratching his head. Apparently realizing what he had said he turned to Felicity, his cheeks flaming up. “That was… way before you. I mean… at least a year before my dad died.”

Raising her eyebrows, she glared at him. “Really. In the ladies room? God, you were such a douche back then. At least take her to the limo or something.”

“Yeah… that’s the one. Hard to forget,” Dig smirked. “Also, as the driver of said limo, thank you for picking the bathroom.”

“Anytime.”

“Excuse me?” Felicity asked, perking an eyebrow.

Oliver gulped, adding, “metaphorically speaking, I mean.”

Dig looked at them, chuckling. “Anyway, my point is that we should compare the organizers with the lists. If they used it as cover, chances are they made sure everyone had the right invitations. So we should add them as well and first focus on them.”

 

One hour later, they had a list of thirty names.

Felicity pouted when she saw that apart from Robert, there was also the deputy mayor, the police captain, at least a dozen CEOs and philanthropists, and a few other members of the high society. Some were familiar, others not. Some had passed away and Felicity knew she’d have to search for the circumstances of their deaths as well.

“Oliver…” Felicity whispered, knowing he wouldn’t like what she was about to say. There was something quite obvious in that list of names, and she knew he must have caught it too.

“Yes?” he asked her, his eyes still fixed on the list.

“... all those people are established members of Starling’s elite. There is no one… self made here.” 

“Yes… which makes sense since it has started about four years ago.”

Felicity exchanged a glance with Dig and she knew right away he was on the same page.

“I’ve met most of those people when I worked at QC. I still do, but… not as often as those galas and receptions seem to suggest,” she explained slowly. “Despite my position at PT, I don’t… I don’t seem to be part of that circle. It really is… old-fashioned high society. Old money.”

“Yes… so?” Oliver asked, obviously confused about her train of thoughts.

“Oliver,” Dig interrupted with a small nod, letting her know he was taking it from there. “Those people belong in the same circle as you, Oliver Queen. If you want to find out more about them… you’re gonna have to mingle.”

“What do you mean? My family is already involved.”

“No. You’re gonna have to get involved yourself. You’re observing things from the outside right now. You need to make them suspicious if you want to get on their radar. Like Felicity did.”

“So, I go and ask questions? I’m already going to the private agency so…”

“Yes. But that might only lead you to another impasse. You need to get in the inside.”

“Oliver,” Felicity continued, her hand covering his. “What we’re trying to say is that… from the outside, we get leads. But as long as you stay outside of their circle, it’s going to take us forever to figure it out. You should go to the reception on Saturday. Ask questions, drop hints. See who reacts, see who doesn’t. You’re good at reading people.”

She could see he was battling with himself, but eventually Oliver nodded. “You’re right. I have to poke the bear.”

“I’ll come with you, you won’t be alone,” she smiled reassuringly.

“No,” he stated, raising a finger. “No way.”

“Oliver…”

“No, Dig. That is out of the question.”

“Oliver, I am already invited. I am representing PT,” Felicity tried to placate him.

“Then cancel.”

“I can’t do that, Ray isn’t there,” she frowned. It was part of her responsibilities to represent the company. She had already accepted the invitation and she wouldn’t back down on that.

“Man, I’ll go with you as your bodyguard. Felicity will go as a guest, and you guys won’t have to interact. All that tension between you will only convince people you guys haven’t rekindled anyway. It will be far more suspicious if Felicity cancels.”

“Tension?” she asked, surprised.

“Those four boxes in your purse, what else do you call that?” Dig deadpanned and she blushed furiously under his stare.

Fair enough. Sexual tension is a kind of tension after all.

 

***

 

Dig left shortly afterwards. There was still a tension in the air, a tension Oliver was fully aware was mostly because of him.

He sighed as he looked at Felicity who was washing the mugs they had used, knowing she hadn’t really appreciated his comments. Standing up, he made his way to the kitchen, only stopping once he was behind her. Circling her waist with his arms, he rested his chin on the top of her head.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to order you around.”

“It’s OK, Oliver. I don’t mind that, I am bossy enough myself as it is. But Palmer Tech is my job. And even if it makes you uncomfortable for the two of us to be there, I still have to go. It’s my responsibility.”

“I know. I just… I’m mostly afraid I won’t be able to keep my hands to myself.”

Felicity relaxed in his arms, leaning back against him as a small laugh escaped her. “Now, really? You’re gonna have to work on your self-control, Mister Queen.”

“I’ll show you about self-control, Miss Smoak,” he murmured in her ear before pressing a kiss on her neck. “Although I would really appreciate it if you didn’t wear that gold dress.”

“The short one? From the first time I went to the mansion?”

“Yes. That one,” he breathed dreamily, still remembering the way the fabric was clinging to her curves. She had started to work for him a couple of weeks earlier and despite a certain affection, he had never really seen her as a… woman. After that reception, though, it had been quite impossible to just see her as his assistant. God knew he had tried.

“I can’t believe you still remember it,” she grinned, turning into his arms.

“I’ll remember that dress in my next life,” he stated confidently, his hands travelling south on her body. “You have no idea of all the things I want to do to you while you wear that dress. Your ass looked like a piece of art. The Mona Lisa of paintings.”

Felicity giggled. "You're so poetic, Mister Queen. I’ll have to wear it again, then. But don’t worry, it’s absolutely not appropriate for Saturday. Although… that reminds me… you’re gonna wear your suspenders?”

“Hum… probably?” Oliver frowned, wondering what his suspenders had to do with her wardrobe.

“I really, really like you in suspenders,” she murmured, her fingers stroking the back of his neck. “I think we’re gonna have a good time after that reception.”

“Really?” he asked, amused. “What’s with my suspenders?”

Felicity blushed furiously and he smirked, knowing he would stop at nothing until he figured out exactly what was going on in her mind. Hopefully, he’ll get a few clues on Saturday. And suddenly… that reception seemed much more appealing to him.

After one small kiss on his jaw, Felicity stepped out of his embrace, muffling a yawn. He had noticed the dark circles underneath her eyes, something Dig had told him had a lot to do with her lack of sleep lately.

“Why don’t you take another nap? We still have at least two hours before dinner,” he offered as he followed her into the living room.

With a small pout, she shook her head. “I’d like to work a bit. I usually check the weekly reports on Saturday afternoons but…”

But we had sex and you fell asleep. And then we focused on something different.

“You told me you were taking a few days off. You could do it later,” he insisted, knowing she needed to slow down a bit.

Biting her lips, Felicity tilted her head, obviously conflicted. “I don’t want to sleep while you’re here,” she eventually mumbled, playing with the hem of his henley.

Oliver perked an eyebrow, his interest piqued. Well, if she really wanted to, he could think of several things to keep her busy…

“I’d rather get ahead on work,” she said, stepping out of his embrace.

… or not.

“You can watch TV if you want to, I don’t mind the background sound,” she threw over her shoulder as she disappeared around the corner of the kitchen and into what she called her office - in reality the side of her living-room that was partly hidden by the kitchen.

By the time he finally decided to move, Felicity was already sitting in front of her desk computer, a mug of tea next to her.

Grabbing her laptop, he plopped on the couch, deciding he might as well look into what had happened with the family company while he had been away so he wouldn’t completely feel out of the loop on Saturday. He closed the laptop two hours later, his mind processing everything he had read. At least he felt less ignorant now, and more confident in his abilities to play the part convincingly.

As it was already past dinner time, and seeing that Felicity was still deep in her work, he made his way to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he pulled out their leftovers from the night before. Checking their contents, he saw they still had one helping of eggplant parmesan, some lemon grilled chicken, pasta bolognese and two big cannellonis with ricotta and spinach. With a nice salad, it would be more than enough for the two of them.

Taking care of the mess on her dining table took a bit longer, and by the time he had set the table, Felicity had joined him.

Swapping one container in the microwave for another, he took a knife and a chopping board while Felicity hopped on the counter, observing him. He had found some cherry tomatoes as well as a cucumber in the fridge and they would do nicely with the pack of lettuce Felicity had bought as well.

“Can I do something?” she eventually asked as he was washing the vegetables.

Oliver smiled, drying his hands on a towel. “Yes. Talk to me.”

“Talk to you?” she repeated, raising an eyebrow. “Usually people ask me to stop talking, not the other way around.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. Something that happened while I was away,” he explained gently as he started to cut slices of cucumbers.

Felicity frowned as if she was in deep reflection, then eventually nodded. “Alright. I met Robert De Niro in New York. My mom tried to hook me up with the son of one of her friends, thinking we would be a good match because, and I quote, we were both allergic to nuts. I’ve kept touch with Sara who has been traveling the world, by the way.”

“You didn’t move away,” Oliver said softly as she stole a slice of cucumber when he poured them into the salad bowl.

She paused, then quickly gathered her bearings. “No, I didn’t.”

“Why?”

“... it’s my first real home. When I came back, I just wanted to feel at home. I had just been promoted to Vice-President and this mountain of responsibilities dropped on me… moving out wasn’t even on my mind. And…” she trailed off, lowering her eyes.

“... and?” he prompted her, handing her another slice of cucumber.

“Almost all the memories I had of you were in here. I couldn’t… I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them.”

He noticed she didn’t mention the puzzle, and he didn’t push her. He grabbed a handful of cherry tomatoes, slicing them in halves before dropping them in the salad bowl as well. Felicity took the second container out of the microwave, replacing it with yet another one.

“Your turn,” she said. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

Focusing his attention on the lettuce he was pouring over the tomatoes and cucumbers, Oliver mentally went through those three years. There was very little he wanted to share with her. Or to share with anyone, actually.

In the end, he focused on one of the only good things that had happened to him. “I learned how to use a bow.”

“... what?” Felicity asked, grinning. “Like a real bow? With arrows?”

“Yes. It’s one of the only weapons you can make yourself. Very useful for hunting.”

“You do know I always had a little crush on Robin Hood, right?”

Oliver smirked as he poured dressing over the salad. “Don’t expect me to start wearing green tights, though.”

“Oh,” she pouted, her shoulders slumping. “The sexiest part of Robin.”

He playfully pinched her thigh. “Behave.”

“Seriously though… how did you learn?”

“On the island. One of the men who was there used to be an archer. He taught me. It kept me busy.”

“Are you good?”

“I’m decent. Good enough to be able to kill wild game... well at least the ones that didn't move too fast. He was excellent, though. Also I haven’t used a bow in more than a year, so I’m probably rusty.”

“Wow.”

Oliver lowered his henley, showing her the scar he had underneath his right shoulder. “He also gave me that scar.”

“Wait… what? I thought he taught you…?”

“Eventually, yes. Consider this as a very rough teaching method,” Oliver chuckled. He could see she had questions, but for now he didn’t want to ruin the mood. “Your turn?” he added as the microwave pinged.

“Well… I still don’t know how to use chopsticks,” she said in a small voice, hopping off the counter. “Dig tried to teach me but then he gave up.”

“How is that even possible?” Oliver snorted, shaking his head. “I’m gonna have to give you private lessons.”

“I’d rather you gave me private lessons in other areas if you don’t mind,” she cheekily said, walking past him and bumping her hip against him.

Oh baby… you’re in.

 

They kept sharing stories during their meal. Oliver only telling her about a few details, Felicity taking the time to explain everything and answering his questions. She didn’t complain once, didn’t push him either even though he knew it wasn’t fair to be dying to hear about every little thing about her while he had been gone and be so closed up concerning his own experience. She told him about Ray’s wife, how she had supported him after her death, shouldering more and more responsibilities. In return, he shared the fate of Yao Fei, the one who had taught him how to use a bow and also the only one who hadn’t made it off of the island. By the time they were done, they had moved back to a lighter topic, namely Felicity’s newest project concerning medical applications. If he was totally honest, he lost track of what she was saying after the second sentence, her technical jargon going way above his head, but seeing her so enthusiastic and full of life more than made up for it.

In the end, he was confident he knew more about Palmer Tech than Queen Consolidated. After Felicity had taken a quick shower, they snuggled in front of the TV, sharing a plate of sliced apples for dessert. His hand was lazily stroking her leg, the skin so soft underneath his palm, glowing in the dim light of the candles.

Teasingly, he played with her toes until she squirmed in his lap and hid her feet underneath the blanket she had draped over her small frame.

“It tickles,” she mumbled, handing him a slice of apple. He bit a piece, watching her as she popped the rest in her mouth, her lips red and so, so tempting. Sliding his hand underneath the blanket, he let his fingers travel north until they reached the top of her thigh, taking full advantage of the fact that she was only wearing his shirt. Again. He hadn’t realized how many clothes of his she had kept and seeing how she had insisted on washing the ones he had worn, he suspected she probably wouldn’t run out of them anytime soon.

Not that he minded.

Ignoring what was happening on the screen, he quietly observed her. She was munching on apples absentmindedly, occasionally offering him a piece of fruit, her tongue peeking out to lick the juice every now and then. How could something as mundane as eating a snack be so hot? All he could think about was her devilish mouth, how it felt to kiss her, the way she could take his breath away so easily.

She presented another slice to his mouth and he shook his head, too mesmerized by the way her teeth bit into the fruit.

“Not hungry anymore?”

Baby… I’m starving.

He cleared his throat, forcing an answer. “Not really. Not for that.”

“You want something else?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. “I have cookies and yogurt.”

“No,” he whispered before leaning in, unable to resist any longer. Her mouth was sweet and fresh, the taste of apple exploding on his tongue. She let out a small moan, her hand reaching out for his hair as she shifted on his lap. As he deepened the kiss, he tried to move the plate out of her grip but she resisted. Leaning away from him, she whispered,  "just because you’re not hungry doesn't mean that I have to stop eating.” He saw the little glimmer in her eyes and he couldn’t help but smirk. She wanted to play.

He loved to play.

“Fair enough,” he murmured, grabbing a slice of apple and bringing it to her lips, tracing the fruit on the red flesh then eventually slipping it inside her mouth. He did his best to ignore the mental picture that the movement awoke in his mind, trying to not think about how it felt to be between those lips, but the way she delicately pressed her teeth on the fruit made him realize she probably was doing it on purpose.

Little vixen.

She moaned as she swallowed and the sound went straight to his cock.

“Felicity…”

“The plate is not empty, Oliver,” she answered teasingly before suckling on a slice.

He gulped, his eyes fixed on what she was doing, his hand now traveling to the inside of her thighs. She squeezed her legs together, but he still managed to wiggle his fingers, stopping when he felt naked skin where he should have felt fabric.

“Felicity Smoak,” he grinned. “No panties?”

She pinched her lips, a small blush invading her cheeks.

“You’re only making it easier for me, you know,” he breathed, gently coaxing her legs open for him. He teased her, only using the tip of his fingers, barely grazing the sensitive skin until she was literally squirming in his lap.

Still, she didn’t want to admit defeat, holding the plate firmly when he tried to take it away once again.

He looked at her, seeing the stubborn expression on her face as well as the amused smile stretching her lips.

Game on.

Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pushed her back on the sofa, quickly standing up, forcing himself to ignore the obvious tent in his jeans. She didn’t though, her teasing smile turning into a downright proud smirk as she glanced at his crotch.

Leaning, he slipped an arm underneath her thighs and the other behind her back, lifting her up in one go.

“Hold on to that plate, honey,” he said as he made his way to her bedroom. He pushed the door open with his shoulder then carefully put her down on the bed and switched on the bed lamp. He placed the apples on the night stand, well within her grasp then grabbed her shirt, lifting it up. She was still wearing her glasses and when she moved to take them off, he held her back. He wanted her to see everything he was about to do to her.

Picking up his pillow, he gently forced her to lie down, lifting her hips and placing it at the small of her back.

“Eat your dessert, baby,” he winked before pressing a kiss on the valley between her breasts. “I’m going to have mine.”

She giggled, her eyes gleaming with enthusiasm as she lifted a slice to her mouth. “In my defense, these are delicious apples.”

“If you don’t finish your plate, I won’t stop after your first orgasm,” he murmured against her skin. “It will be your punishment.”

She frowned, swallowing. “I think we’re gonna have to work on your definition of punishment because it seems like I win either way.”

He hummed, his lips now travelling to her breast to lick around the small aureola. He heard her small gasp, felt her chest rise to meet his mouth and he couldn't help but grin, blowing on the wet skin. He saw, from the corner of his eyes, how she dropped the slice of fruit she had in her hand back onto the plate and he smirked, traveling across her chest to suckle on the other little bud. He let his hand travel down her stomach, his fingertips brushing her skin before they came to tease her sex. Slowly, he stroked her outer lips, taking his time, noticing the way she was already rocking her hips against him. Pressing a soft kiss on her throat, he whispered in her ear, “I’m going to make you come with my mouth.”

She whimpered, her hand resting on his head as he slowly slid down her body, pressing kisses along the way, rubbing his stubble against her skin. He kneeled between her thighs, spreading them open for him, then got rid of his own t-shirt. He wanted to feel her bare legs on his shoulders, wanted her skin against his. His eyes fixed on hers, he licked a finger, then slowly wedged it between her outer lips, catching the way she threw her head back as a result.

Felicity bent a leg, letting her foot rest flat against the bed as he teased her entrance, barely entering her. He could feel her dampness already and his mouth watered at the idea of tasting her. Unable to resist any longer, he laid down comfortably between her legs, trailing kisses from her knee to the top of her thigh and savoring how incredibly soft her skin was underneath his lips. The closer he got to where she wanted him, the more her back was arching, her legs shaking until he pressed his mouth on her. He licked at her entrance, his tongue pressing in, thrusting inside her and stroking her walls. She keened then, her hand gripping his hair as he licked a long trail until he reached her clit. Flattening his tongue, he rubbed it against the hard bundle of nerves, circling it lazily and God she tasted fucking amazing, so warm, so wet for him and he was going to make her come so hard she’d still feel it tomorrow.

Opening his mouth wide, he sucked on her clitoris, the tip of his tongue flicking delicately against it until she started to pant his name. Her nails digging into his skull, her thighs quivering, trying to close on his head but blocked by his shoulders, she pressed his face against her, rubbing herself over him.

There was nothing more sexy than Felicity losing control that way, using him for her pleasure, her body taking charge. The sounds that were escaping her throat were turning him on like crazy and he was now painfully hard, making him wish he had taken off his pants first.

With a small pop, he released her clit and brought two fingers to her entrance, thrusting inside before letting his tongue trail down her nether lips and suckling on them. Curling his fingers inside her, he rubbed, circling and circling until she gasped loudly, her hips jostling.

Flattening his tongue, he massaged her heated flesh, focusing on her clitoris, knowing that she was getting close to her release by the way she was pulling on his hair. Her cries were echoing loudly in the room, each stroke of his tongue making her moan his name louder and louder. Her foot dug into his side as she arched her back violently, her walls fluttering around his fingers and he moved the hand that was under her ass until it was covering a breast, palming the mound of flesh. She automatically grabbed his wrist, guiding his movements, her other hand still firmly on his skull. He raised his eyes then, watching her as she approached her release, her head thrown back, biting her lips as she tried to muffle her screams. He knew it wouldn’t take much more now, his hand almost soaked with her pleasure as he rubbed and rubbed against the spongy spot he had found inside her, his tongue never losing contact with her. She suddenly tensed underneath him and he pressed harder on her clit until her walls clamped down on him.

“Yeeeees… yes yes yesssss,” she hissed, her head snapping up as she finally tipped over the edge. She tensed for a few seconds, riding her wave as muffled moans escaped her throat, then she plopped back against the bed, her breathing short and ragged.

Oliver pressed a kiss on the inside of her thigh, his fingers leaving her. His eyes roamed over her body, taking in the blush across her chest, the sheer sheen of sweat, the hard nipples and the way her legs were now resting completely boneless one each side of him.

He let her catch her breath, his chin resting on her abdomen, a little smile stretching his lips at the gorgeous view she was offering him.

Her hand eventually relaxed in his hair and he crawled up her body until he could brush her lips. She lazily kissed him back, moaning into his mouth before getting rid of her glasses.

“Condoms in the drawer,” she breathed, her lips traveling across his jaw. He automatically stretched his arm to open the drawer, only to meet something cold. The plate. One glance confirmed what he thought.

He leaned back, meeting her eyes sternly and ignoring her hungry eyes. “Oh baby… you didn’t finish your dessert.”

 

***

 

Felicity blinked, trying to make sense of his words. Dessert? She didn’t care about dessert. She wanted to have sex. She wanted him, moving inside her, her arms holding him as close to her as possible.

Her eyes widened when she saw him travelling back down her stomach. “What… what are you doing?”

“I told you. I told you what would happen if you didn’t finish your dessert,” he said innocently.

“Oliver, I can’t. No way,” she laughed, trying to grab his shoulder and pull him over her. She was too sensitive. Her orgasm had been way too good for her to be able to climax again, at least not that way. Maybe she could get a second climax with him inside her if he wasn’t too worked up, but not with his mouth, that was way too intense.

“Tsk, tsk,” he clucked his tongue, shaking his head. His hands spread her open for him once more and for a few seconds he did nothing else, his eyes looking at her. Intimately. She felt her face flaming up because well… talk about a close-up but then he softly blew on her heated folds and… damn it. That felt good. That felt really, really good.

“I could eat you all night, Felicity,” Oliver murmured, his voice hoarse. “You have no idea how many times I’ve dreamed of my face between your thighs, making you come over and over again with my tongue, making you scream so loud everyone in your building would know exactly what I was doing to you, how good I was making it for you, until your legs would turn into jello. Then I would flip you over and pound into you from behind, until you beg me to come inside you, until your arms can’t hold you up anymore and you’re just a quivering mess.”

Oh God.  

Gulping, she found herself pressing down on his head once again, her arousal coming back with a vengeance, no matter how sated she had been merely a minute ago.

She squeezed her eyes shut when his tongue circled her clit, avoiding the little bud at first, then grazing it more and more until he started licking her. Thoroughly. The slight pinch of discomfort she felt at first, her flesh hypersensitive, only peaked her pleasure once she got used to the intense caress. His words still ringing in her ears, she found herself climbing up again, much, much faster and he wasn’t even using his fingers this time, letting his devilish tongue do all the work.

“Fuck,” she moaned, gripping her pillow tightly, her heels digging into the mattress as the heat in her core grew stronger and stronger. “Oliver… Oliver I’m close.”

He hummed against her, his tongue moving in circles then up and down until he opened his mouth wide, sucking on her flesh. He released her clit, letting his tongue massage it, and it was so soft, so wet and warm, making the coil of tension grow tighter and tighter, her orgasm just a few seconds away. Oliver licked her lazily, letting her savor the way the flat of his tongue was sliding across the bundle of nerves, and all she could do was accept the pleasure, holding onto his hair, her heels digging into the mattress. She felt his teeth grazing the sensitive button and the slight pinch of pain it brought was enough to make her fall head first into her orgasm, the intense heat spreading over her abdomen, bringing her that blissful relief.

“Oh my God. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” she half panted, half laughed as she slowly came back to earth, her hands covering her eyes.

She felt the mattress shifting, heard a rustling of clothes as Oliver undressed himself and she couldn’t resist, her hands lowering to gaze at his body.

He was absolutely divine.

“You good?” he asked as he fished out a condom from the drawer.

She nodded, eyes fixed on his erection. He was more than aroused, big, hard, the head a purple shade and she licked her lips, already raising on her elbows.

“Uh-uh,” Oliver shook his head as he sheathed himself. “Lay back.”

“You don’t want to flip me over?” she couldn’t help but ask with a smile.

Oliver raised an eyebrow, pausing with a knee on the bed then before she could add anything else she was lying on her stomach, his hand landing roughly on her ass.

She gasped at the sudden burn, but it didn’t hurt, only bringing nerve-endings to life and she found herself pressing back against him.

I can’t believe I’m into spanking now.

He grabbed her hips, lifting her up until she was on all fours,  then nudged her legs apart as he knelt behind her.

She bowed her head when he sank into her, her flesh welcoming him back. She heard his sigh when he bottomed out, felt the way his hands tightened on her hips before sliding out and pushing back in. He felt deep, so much deeper that way, the angle letting him brush against that special spot inside of her and even though her body should have been more than satisfied, she found herself pushing back, meeting his thrusts, chasing her pleasure again.

It was good, so, so good, his strokes slow but hard, his hips slapping against her ass, his fingers digging into her flesh.

She bit her lips, trying to hold back her moans to no avail as little whimpers started to spill from her lips, Oliver’s relentless thrusts stoking the heat in her core. She could feel herself tightening, her legs stiffening as the pleasure started to build again, so similar and yet so different from when he had gone down on her. This time it was coming from inside and judging by the way her muscles were already trembling, she could sense it was going to be earth-shattering. The heat was spreading out, her thighs shaking, and the grunts escaping Oliver were only turning her on even more and she knew she wouldn’t need much. She tried to lower a hand between her legs but she was shaking so hard that she couldn't hold her weight on one arm.

“Oliver,” she breathed. “Please…”

He seemed to understand what she wanted because one hand suddenly left her hip and the next thing she knew, he was pressing his fingers against her clit, sending a flash of white-hot pleasure to her lower belly. Squeezing her eyes shut, she focused on the tension that was growing tighter and tighter, unable to hold back her cries this time.

A loud gasp escaped her after a particularly hard thrust, and she came with a strangled wail. Collapsing on her elbows, she rested her forehead against the bed as Oliver fucked her through her orgasm, sending her even higher, her muscles clamping down on him almost viciously. She was panting, her fingers gripping the sheets tightly, the pleasure spreading slowly from her core to her thighs, until she felt tingles everywhere in her body.

“Holy fuck,” Oliver whispered behind her, his hips rocking slowly, both hands now squeezing the cheeks of her ass.

She must have zoned out for a bit because suddenly she was on her back, Oliver lying on top of her, still inside her.

“You OK?” he asked softly, dropping the tiniest kiss on the tip of her nose.

“Yeah… yeah. I think I passed out but… yeah,” she said dreamily, stroking the small of his back. She honestly couldn’t remember the last time her body had been so blissfully relaxed.

“You were pretty out of it for a minute,” he confirmed with a lopsided grin.

“Did you…?”

“No,” he murmured before capturing her lips. He moved then, pulling out of her and sliding back in, his movements faster now. His breath was hot, humid against her cheek, his skin damp with his sweat as he chased his own release. Tightening her legs around his hips, she hugged him close to her, her arms clinging to his back. Suddenly, Oliver straightened on his arms, his eyes fixing on hers as his pace picked up, tension taking over his body. Desperate to bring him to completion, she spread her legs wider, letting him pound into her and it only took three more thrusts, Oliver slamming into her one last time with a deep groan.

He winced, almost as if he was in pain, holding deep inside her before exhaling loudly, his face relaxing.

He eventually dropped onto her, catching his weight on his elbows, his face snuggling into her shoulder as she stroked the back of his neck, her fingers lacing through his hair. Pressing little kisses on his shoulder, she let him catch his breath until he rolled to the side with a heavy sigh.

With one last kiss, he got up and padded to the bathroom, Felicity too lost in the afterglow to even move a toe. She heard the water running and a few minutes later, Oliver was back. She straightened her legs, mewling at the soreness she felt in her lower body as she snuggled in his arms.

“If we keep this up, I won’t be able to walk by the time I have to get back to work,” she mumbled against his chest.

Chuckling, Oliver dropped a kiss on her forehead. “We were worse last time.”

“Yeah well, I’m not twenty-one anymore,” she grumbled before leaving his embrace. Rubbing her eyes, she went to the bathroom, quickly brushing her teeth. She heard Oliver making his way to the living room, probably making sure the door was locked and the candles were blown out. As she tied her hair, she noticed several red spots on her neck. Beard burn. With a smile, she poured some moisturizer in the palm of her hand, delicately rubbing her skin. Giggling, she noticed that her inner thighs were also irritated and massaged some lotion there as well.

Clearly… she’d have to buy more moisturizer.

Maybe not six bottles, though.

 

***

 

Once Felicity had closed the bathroom door, Oliver stood up, picking up the plate of apples still on her night stand. He quickly finished it, then poured himself a glass of water. Gulping it down, he refilled it then made sure the door was locked before blowing out the candles.

He picked up the clothes that had been thrown on the floor, piling them up on the rocking chair. By the time Felicity was done, he had rearranged the bed, the glass of water waiting for her on her night stand.

“You should drink,” he told her, his chin pointing towards it.

She smiled gratefully, taking several sips of water before slipping underneath the sheets, patting the spot next to her. He hesitated, but something in her eyes made him cave. He wasn’t really tired anyway so there wasn’t any risk for him to fall asleep. He joined her underneath the sheets, automatically opening his arms for her as she nestled herself against his chest. She dropped one small kiss over his heart, her fingers tracing his tattoo, reminding him that one day he’d have to tell her about it. He thought she would ask him questions for sure but she kept quiet, her breathing evening out until she slowly fell asleep, the bed lamp still on.

The light was playing in her hair, casting shadows over her cheeks. He knew he should leave now that she was asleep, but he couldn’t. Not yet.

During the afternoon, when she had fallen asleep on the couch, he had been unable to keep his eyes off her. Knowing he was keeping her warm, guarding her, keeping the nightmares away was enough for him. It was all he needed. And after missing her so much, for so long, it seemed almost wrong to lose some precious time with her by doing something as useless as sleeping. He wanted, he needed to see her, to feel her against him, to convince him she was real. They were real.

How many times had he fallen asleep with her name on his lips? How many dreams had been filled with her? He had seen this future ripped away from him so clearly in his head, his heart full of hopes of a house, a dog, a family. And even his wildest dreams, the ones that woke him up in the middle of the night with happiness bursting in his heart… nothing could compare to the simple joy of having her in his arms again. Feel her breath against his chest, the touch of her skin… he didn’t need anything more. Again he wished he could stop time, and stay inside their little cocoon forever. This… this would be perfect.

He could feel his eyes growing heavy but he fought the feeling, longing for a few more minutes where she was only for him. What were her dreams made of? What had they been made of while he was gone? Would she ever tell him? He wanted to know everything, the smallest thought, make up for those three years where he had been unable to give her everything she needed.

He fought against sleep, but he was so warm, so comfortable and relaxed by her side that he eventually drifted away.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Bubbly"

Will you count me in?

I've been awake for a while now
You've got me feelin' like a child now
'Cause every time I see your bubbly face
I get the tingles in a silly place

It starts in my toes
And I crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while now
Just take your time
Wherever you go

The rain is falling on my window pane
But we are hiding in a safer place
Under covers staying safe and warm
You give me feelings that I adore

They start in my toes
Make me crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while
now just take your time
Wherever you go

But what am I gonna say:
When you make me feel this way
I just mmmmm

And it starts in my toes
Makes me crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while
Now just take your time
Wherever you go

Dada dumdudum dumdadadadadum
Ohbodododododododum mmm mmm

I've been asleep for a while now
You tuck me in just like a child now
'Cause every time you hold me in your arms
I'm comfortable enough to feel your warmth

It starts in my soul
And I lose all control
When you kiss my nose
The feeling shows
'Cause you make me smile,
Baby, just take your time
Now holdin' me tight

Wherever, wherever, wherever you go
Wherever, wherever, wherever you go

Wherever you go
I always know
'Cause you make me smile
Even just for a while

 

 

 

 

“We’ll never get out of bed if you keep this up,” Felicity mumbled into her pillow.

Oliver chuckled, his fingers slowly traveling up and down her spine. She was lying on her front, the duvet only covering her lower body while Oliver was caressing her back lazily, dropping a small kiss every now and then. They were lingering in bed after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon nap, which had followed some even more thoroughly enjoyable love-making.

“I’m afraid you’re way too tempting, Miss Smoak,” Oliver murmured, his lips brushing a kiss on her shoulder.

“When are you leaving?”

Oliver sighed, dropping his forehead on her upper back. His short hair brushed her skin, making her shiver. “Soon. I can still cancel and we can spend the next few days here, though.”

“Nope. You have to talk to your mother, you know that. Also, I feel like my lady parts might need a small break.”

Snorting, he pinched her butt, instantly rewarded by her loud squeal. “You’re the one who, and I quote, wanted to climb me like a tree.”

“I needed the work out.”

“Sure. And this morning was because…?” he trailed off with a smile as he nuzzled her hair.

“... yoga?” she answered, the grin obvious in her voice.

“You stayed on your side the whole time, Felicity.”

“... yoga for beginners?”

Laughing, he pressed one last kiss on her cheek before standing up. He stretched, making his way to the bathroom, then took a quick shower. When he was back, Felicity was dressed in sweatpants and one of his hoodies, sitting cross legged on the bed.

“Dig will drive me to the foundry tomorrow morning before heading to work, he said-”

“No,” Oliver frowned, his T-shirt hanging limply from his hand.

“Oliver,” Felicity sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “We’re not going through this again.”

“Felicity, we both agreed it was best if I stayed at the Mansion for a little bit, and it wasn’t so you could be all alone out there.”

“There is a code, no one can get inside. I would actually point out that it’s just as safe there as it is here. By the time you make it back, I’ll be done with the computer anyway. I’d also like to upgrade your security as well while I’m at it,” she shrugged. Before he could reply, she added, “and no, I’m not asking for permission. Dig is going to drive me, you know very well I’m more than safe with him. I won’t leave without either of you, I promise you.”

“Felicity,” he breathed, resting his hands on his hips.

“End of discussion.” She stood up from the bed and took the few steps that were separating them. After a quick kiss on his lips, she let her hand travel down his chest. “Now please cover all that hotness or you’ll never make it there.”

Understanding there would be no point in arguing, he sighed. Yet, he was unable to keep the smile off his lips at the way she was gazing at his abdomen. “I thought your lady parts needed a break?”

“Breaks are for wimps,” she murmured, her finger tracing the thin strip of hair from his belly button to the waistband of his pants. A little shiver ran down his spine, his hands itching to grab her and kiss her senseless. A small glance at the alarm clock on her nightstand told him it really wasn’t a good idea.

Oliver groaned, shifting, and forced himself to take a step away. “No matter how much I want to… I have to talk to my mother.”

“Right,” Felicity sighed, folding her lips over her teeth. “And it’s my laundry day. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon? I’ll be the girl underneath your desk.”

Oliver grinned at the small blush that invaded her cheeks.

“I meant… fixing your computer, not… not…” her eyes traveled across the room, obviously avoiding his as she twisted her hands. “Not that other thing I might have fantasized about a hundred times,” she added under her breath, immediately piquing his interest.

“What?” he couldn’t help but ask with a smirk.

“What?” she repeated innocently. “Nothing.”

“Felicity…” Oliver whispered teasingly, pulling her into his arms.

“Your mom is waiting for you.”

Oliver winced, all dirty thoughts about Felicity underneath a desk while he was sitting on a chair immediately vanishing from his mind. “You sure know how to ruin a mood.”

Patting his chest, she slipped out of his embrace. “Go talk to your mother. Bring me intel.”

Oliver looked at her as she walked out of the room, then eventually shook his head and finished getting dressed.

Bossy Felicity would always be his favorite kind of Felicity.

Not that he would ever admit it out loud.




“My, my, my… my brother is still alive!” Thea welcomed him with snark as soon as he walked in the door at the mansion. Locking his jaw, he shrugged out of his jacket before pressing a kiss on her cheek.

“Sorry, Thea. I’ve been… busy.”

“Yes. Busy. Catching up with some mysterious friend no one ever heard about,” she snapped, turning around. He saw the anger in her eyes and it took him aback. He wasn’t exactly used to see her mad or so full of spite.

“Thea,” he sighed, going after her and grabbing her elbow to make her face him. Her eyes dropped to his hand and he let her go, holding out his hands. “What do you expect from me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe to see you happy to be back with us for once? Seriously, Ollie, it looks like you can’t stand being here with us. Why? What is going on?”

“Nothing is going on, Thea, I just need-”

“Time. Yes. And space, I’ve heard that one too. I just didn’t know time and space meant going back five years ago and have you sleeping around everywhere.”

Oliver frowned, taken aback. “Thea, my private life is none of your business.”

His sister stared at him, a small grimace of disgust on her face. “How can you do that to her?”

… Wait, what?

“Cut the crap, Oliver. You break up with Felicity because you’re not in the right headspace to be with someone and you spend your days and nights away with some mysterious ‘friend’. Not hard to do the math. At least this time you have the decency to not cheat, I’ll give you that. Laurel wasn't that lucky.”

Realization suddenly dawned on Oliver. “Is this about Felicity?”

“Well yes it is! Of course it is, Ollie!” Thea huffed, throwing her arms in the air. “Felicity helped me, even when I was a bitch to her. She stood there and helped me because I’m your sister even though she should have totally walked away. Not to mention, in case you forgot, she is my boss and your behavior puts me in a very awkward position that would be totally resolved if I let my instincts take over and murder you right now, by the way.”

Oliver pinched his lips, trying to hide his amusement, knowing it would only make things worse. “Thea… I’m not sleeping around. The situation between Felicity and me is very… complicated. But you have to believe me, I would never… never purposely do anything that could hurt her.”

Thea observed him quietly, her arms crossed on her chest. Eventually, she nodded her head. “I swear to God if I find out you screwed up…”

“You won’t.”

At least nothing about me cheating on Felicity.

“OK. Good. I just… I really hope you two will find your way back. You were so happy and… she loved you so much, Ollie. You don’t find that easily.”

“Look at you, all wise and grown up,” Oliver smiled tenderly, circling her shoulders with his arm.

“Well, I have to since my dumbass of a brother has the emotional range of a teaspoon.”

“Hermione Granger,” Oliver said proudly. He had read all the Harry Potter shortly before the Gambit, tired of being out of the loop whenever Felicity would make a reference.

“... maybe there is hope for you, after all,” Thea smiled in obvious surprise, as they made their way to the dining room.

It turned out Oliver was the last to arrive, earning him a small frown from his mother as he sat down. Walter wasn’t there, he noticed right away as he took seat at the head of the table, opposite his mother. Thea was on his right, Tommy on his left.

His best friend shot him a curious glance as he pulled out his seat, but kept quiet until Moira stood up to let Raisa know she could serve dinner.

“What?” Oliver asked, getting uncomfortable under Tommy’s scrutiny.

“Thea, cover your ears,” Tommy said.

“What? No! I’m not a kid anymore!” Thea said, her mouth full of bread.

“Thea…” Tommy insisted, tilting his head.

Grumbling, she eventually covered her ears, her elbows resting on the table. “Just so you know, this thing will eventually have to stop. I’m almost 19!”

“Don’t remind me,” Oliver and Tommy said at the same time. They both exchanged a small, amused look but before Oliver could say anything, Tommy interrupted him.

“You didn’t spend the weekend on a fishing trip. I know you. You’re relaxed, your eyes are shining and you look like my dog when I congratulate him on being a good boy. You, my friend, got laid.”

“Will you stop… comparing me to your dog?”

“Don’t try to change topics. Tell me, is it a charming blonde girl with glasses and the most amazing ass to ever walk the earth?”

“Stop talking about Felicity’s butt,” Oliver hissed.

“It’s all I can do with it, at least give me that. I’m not the lucky man in this story.”

“It’s none of your-”

“Business. I know. What can I say, I like gossip. Anyway,” Tommy smirked, raising his glass. “Here’s to your blue balls. They had a good, long life but they won’t be missed.”

“Tommy…”

“Don’t worry, my speech at your wedding will be much more classy. Just a suggestion though, avoid the whole sea theme, I don’t think it would be appropriate. I would go with something more sophisticated, maybe with fireworks and doves. Chicks love doves.”

“... are you planning my wedding? Even though I’m single?” Oliver insisted. No matter how very much not single he saw himself, he still wanted to make sure no one thought he had rekindled things with Felicity. It was much, much simpler that way. 

“Why, yes. Yes, I am,” Tommy answered, popping a piece of bread in his mouth.

“Wedding?” Thea’s excited voice reached them.

“Thea!” Tommy exclaimed as she dropped the hands that were supposed to cover her ears.

“Oh come on, you doofus, the whole cover your ears thing never worked anyway.”

“There is absolutely no wedding in the works. And I am single. End of the story,” Oliver calmly stated.

“You know, I don’t think Felicity is really into doves,” Thea continued, ignoring him.

“Really? Swans maybe? I could work with swans.”

“Why on earth do you need swans, Tommy?” Moira asked as she walked back inside the room.

“My next birthday. I’d like to spice things up a bit,” Tommy replied, not missing a beat.

“It’s in ten months.”

“You know me. I take those things seriously.”

 

All in all, the dinner went rather smoothly. They avoided divisive topics like QC or Oliver’s frequent absences and by the time Tommy was leaving, Oliver felt calm, relaxed enough to face something much more difficult. He knew it wouldn’t be easy for him to talk to his mother and that he’d have to walk a fine, fine line as well.

“Mom, can I talk to you?” he asked as she was leaving the dining room.

She looked at him, surprised, while Thea subtly walked past her, muttering something about her bedroom.

“Well… of course, yes,” Moira answered as Oliver joined her by the door, knowing a sitting room would be better if they didn’t want to get disturbed.

“So what is it about?” his mother asked him as they were both sitting on a small sofa. “Is there something wrong?”

“No… not really. I’ve been thinking a lot lately and… that’s also why I haven’t been around a lot.”

“Alright… and?”

“I’d like to get access to the investigation from the private agency,” Oliver said in one go, his eyes fixing on Moira’s face.

Her smile dropped from her face for the shortest moment - but he had the time to see it before she placed it back. “Why would you need that, Oliver? There was nothing remotely conclusive, you know.”

“Yes but… I need to know what happened, mom. I made it back but the others didn’t. I’d like to know if we found anything concerning them.”

“No. We didn’t.”

“... really?” Oliver asked, frowning. He hadn’t expected her to shut him down so quickly. “Not even about the body of a crew member?”

Moira licked her lips and took a deep breath. “You have talked with Felicity, haven’t you?”

“No. With a common friend,” Oliver said. It wasn’t exactly a lie, after all. “Is it true or not?”

“I… I’m not proud of what I did, Oliver. But there was nothing good for her to find and I did what I had to do to make her understand it was pointless.”

“So you lied to her?”

“... yes.”

Oliver observed her, sensing there was something more she wasn’t saying. “Why?”

“Oliver… it was three years ago and an awful time for all of us.”

“Well, yes, but she wasn’t asking you to relive it, she was just asking how to get answers if you didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Thea works for her and I didn’t want your sister to drown in the past. I know it’s because of a conversation the two of them had that Felicity came to talk to me. You know how stubborn your sister is, it seemed easier to convince Felicity that it was pointless.”

… You really don’t know her at all, mom. Felicity Smoak could give anyone a run for their money when it comes to stubbornness.

“I understand that,” he said nonetheless, “but I’m back now. It’s not about Thea, nor Felicity. It’s about Andrew, Ali and all the other ones who died, mom.”

“Most of the investigation has been lost, last time I checked. There was a small fire in their offices. But I’ll see what I can do for you to have whatever they could salvage,” Moira eventually nodded.

“Thank you. I can go there myself too, it’s not like my days are as busy as yours,” Oliver smiled, trying to lift the mood.

“I’m the one who hired them, Oliver. They probably won’t let you access their files if I don’t specifically allow them to.”

“Fair enough.”

“Good. Is that all you wanted to tell me?” Moira asked, standing up.

“Actually… no. There is something else.”

Moira sat back down on the small sofa, her hands neatly folded in her lap.

“Mom… there is something I have to tell you about dad.”

“Yes?”

“He… He wrote me a letter a few days before he died.”

“A letter?” Moira asked in a small voice. “You never told me about a letter?”

“I found it on the Gambit.”

He saw the way his mother took a short intake of breath, blinking her eyes. She was nervous.

“What did he say?” she asked in an even voice.

“Apparently he was… he was involved with some suspicious people. He wrote about corruption and illegal business practices and so on.”

Moira gulped, her eyes travelling to the fireplace in front of them. “Your father always walked a fine line, Oliver. That’s why he was so successful. He was very smart in terms of business and yes… sometimes he might have gone too far. But that’s in the past, now. You don’t have to worry about any of that falling back on our family or even QC.”

“He thought he was going to be murdered, mom,” Oliver stated calmly, sensing whatever he was telling her wasn’t enough to make her realize the gravity of what he had found out.

“... what?” Moira gasped. “Oliver… this is…”

“I know, mom. And a few days later, his helicopter crashes. It’s not hard to do the math.”

Moira stood up and walked to the fireplace, her fingers drumming on the mantle. Keeping her back to him, she said, “Oliver… that helicopter crash was an accident. We... the police never found anything that could even make us think it had been criminal.”

“Mom, it can’t be a coincidence! Dad, the Gambit, and when Felicity starts digging for some answers, she gets assaulted.”

“What? When? Is she alright?” Moira asked turning around.

“Yes. Don’t worry, no harm done, someone helped her apparently.”

“Oh good,” she breathed, pressing a hand against her heart. “What happened to her?”

“She wanted to check a warehouse in the Glades one night and-”

“The Glades? At night? Oliver… anyone could get assaulted walking around alone in that part of the city past sundown!”

“You don’t understand… they wanted to scare her,” Oliver said through gritted teeth. “They talked to her and it was pretty obvious it wasn’t just random. Mom, my point is… you should upgrade the security. Here, at QC too.”

She looked him, then eventually nodded. “If it makes you feel safer, I will.”

“Thank you.”

“But you know nothing has happened ever since you’ve been back or even before. There is no need to worry, no one is after us.”

“No one threatened you? Or approached you concerning dad?”

“No, Oliver. No one,” she exhaled slowly as if her patience was running low. He knew he must have sounded completely paranoid but he still had to make sure.

“Mom, I know it might sound crazy but dad was worried they might get to you or Thea and-”

“Oliver, your father wrote that letter right after the whole fiasco with Isabel and you, and he was in a bad place, emotionally speaking. He might have felt cornered because everything was escaping him, you know how he was. Maybe he overreacted?”

He wasn’t overreacting. His entire behavior the few months before his death only made sense because of that letter.

“I’ve always wondered about the gas explosion. It was proven to be arson but we never found the culprit. It fits with what he wrote me.”

“Well… we both know who was trying to blackmail him, don’t we?”

“It didn’t seem like he was talking about Isabel.”

“I doubt he would have mentioned her in a letter to his son.”

“Did we ever find out what happened to her? Her child?”

He didn’t even know if he had a brother or a sister.

“No. I never wanted to know. The less I know about that woman, the better I will be. Oliver, I know that right now things seem confusing but… you have to stop looking back. Go back to your life, your father wouldn’t have wanted you to waste your time over things that probably never existed. I’d love to see my son happy again and that won’t happen if you keep looking back.”

“I’m not sure it’s ever going to be possible, mom. I’m not the same man,” Oliver whispered as she sat down next to him, taking his hand between hers.

“With time, everything is possible. But if you keep living in the past, nothing good will come out of it. You have to move forward, honey. We all have.”

“I’m trying. It’s not as easy as everyone seems to believe.”

They stayed silent for a little while, Oliver deep in thought. He understood what Felicity had said now. There was something going on with his mother. Her small hesitation, the flicker of fear he had seen in her eyes… his first instinct had been that she was hiding something from him and had been threatened herself as well. But her genuine surprise at the news of Felicity’s assault seemed to rule it out. Could her hardened behavior really be only because of the brutal loss of her husband and son in such a short period of time? Or was there something more at play?

“Mom…” he trailed off, knowing he needed to at least ask one question.

“Yes?”

“Did you know? About dad? The things he was doing?”

“... No. No I didn’t, Oliver. I found out months after he passed away when Walter and I took over at QC. I always had doubts about certain contracts and so on, but I didn’t know it had run that deep. Your father wasn’t a criminal, Oliver, I don’t want you to think that one second. But yes… along the way he lost sight of his values.”

“Is this why you pressured me to get back to QC? So you could… mentor me?”

“It played a part, yes. QC is stable at the moment. Easing you back in would have also allowed me to guide you towards the right kind of people.”

“Would you have ever told me?”

“No. Just like I would have never told Thea. What would be the point?”

She patted his hand with a smile. “I still have some work to do. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

“No,” Oliver answered, standing up. “No, I think I have the answers I needed. Don’t forget to call the agency, I’d like to go there tomorrow.”

“I’ll send them an email tonight,” Moira promised, leaving the sofa as well. “Just don’t expect too much, Oliver.”

“I won’t. I just want some closure,” he shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Good.” Pinching her lips, Moira tilted her head. “By the way… what happened to that letter? Was it destroyed with the Gambit as well?”

“I suppose so,” Oliver answered.

“And there was no name mentioned… nothing?”

“No. Nothing specific.”

“Good.”

“You look… relieved,” Oliver stated calmly.

“Well… yes. If it has been destroyed, then no one will find out about your father. It’s better for everyone.” With one last smile, she walked out of the room, leaving Oliver to his thoughts.

At first he had thought his mother didn’t know much more and that her weird behavior with Felicity had been because she had been threatened herself.

But her question concerning the letter and her reaction were telling him another tale.

Moira hadn’t been relieved at the idea that the letter had been destroyed. She had been relieved when he had told her the contents didn’t reveal anything… or anyone.

He called Felicity once he was in his room, giving her a summary of his talk with his mother. She didn’t seem surprised, but mostly was as intrigued as he was. She sounded unexpectedly tired on the phone, which worried him. She had seemed well rested when he had left but maybe all the stress and… well the physical activity were taking a toll on her. He felt guilty then, knowing he had played a big part in both. Knowing she had two days off made him feel slightly better but two hours later, he was still thinking about her small voice, lying on his bed.

Night had fallen, but he was unable to fall asleep. Eventually, he sat up then grabbed his cellphone, quickly sending her a text.

Are you asleep?

Her answer came a few seconds later.

Felicity 10:05 PM - No. Watching TV.

Can I come over?

He had to wait longer for her answer, which made him frown. After a couple of minutes, she finally replied.

Felicity 10:09 PM - I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Gulping, he stood up, already getting dressed.

Why? What’s wrong?

Felicity - 10:11 PM - Nothing. I just planned on watching TV and eating ice-cream. Nothing very fun and you told your family you’d spend the night at the mansion.

Frowning, he put his shoes on, sensing there was something more.

I’ll be there in half an hour at most.

 

He quietly made his way downstairs and into the garage. Out of habit, he took a few detours, checking to make sure that no one was following him, then parked several streets away from her place. It was dark, and he made his way to the back of her building quickly, scaling the now familiar fire escape stairs. The window was still slightly open and he clucked his tongue, promising himself to lecture her about it.

Soundlessly, he dropped on the floor of her bedroom, the sound coming from her living room confirming to him she was watching TV. He quickly texted her, not wanting to scare her and after toeing out of his shoes, made his way to the living room.

Felicity was sitting, leaning on the armrest with a spoon in her mouth, wrapped in her favorite blanket.  She blinked when she saw him but didn’t jump, his text having obviously warned her of his presence.

“Hi,” he whispered, shrugging off his jacket and draping it on the back of a chair. He rolled the sleeves of his henley up his arms as he took the few steps separating them.

She moaned then, a small teary whimper, just before her chin started to tremble and before he even had the time to wonder what the hell was going on, she was crying, straightening on the couch, digging her spoon into what looked like a large pint of ice-cream.

Completely at a loss, he kneeled down in front of her. He had seen her cry before, but… the whole ice-cream-sobs combo was a new, unknown territory for him.

... Unless it wasn’t?

“What’s wrong?” he asked in a soft voice.

“I have my period,” she sniffled.

Suspicions confirmed. OK. Period. I can deal with that.

“And it makes you cry because…?”

Does it always make her cry? Twelve times a year, until she’s around fifty probably, that makes 25 times 12… 300 sobbing sessions to deal with. I’m gonna have to find something. Her nose is all red and her glasses askew. Maybe a puppy? Or a gold fish? No. No gold fish. You can't cuddle a gold fish.

“Because you’re all… hot and that fucking henley makes your arms look like… like something I want to dry hump God forgive me for I have sinned or whatever it is that Christians say and you’ve been gone for three fucking years and we only had 48 hours to catch up and now no more sex. No sex, Oliver, for at least five days, probably six!”

Oliver pinched his lips, trying very hard not to laugh at the despair in her voice.

“You know, we don’t have to wait six days, I don’t mind-”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” she said, licking her spoon clean. “I mind! I mind very much!”

“Alright,” he tried to placate her. “We’ll just wait six days and then we’ll make the most of the next three weeks.”

“Three years, Oliver. Three years of Oliver-induced orgasms to catch up on. We’ll never make it! I did the math, you know! Even counting just one orgasm per day, that makes more than a thousand. I know we wouldn’t have had sex everyday but well, I got used to my mandatory two or three each time so I rounded it.”

Oliver-induced…?

He didn’t even try to hide his smug smile, too busy picturing the thousand orgasms he’d have to give her… plus all the other ones after, to actually pay attention to Felicity’s rambling. She had missed his orgasms. His. The Oliver-induced orgasms. He knew sex was amazing between them but truth be told, he'd never get tired of hearing her praising his abilities.

“... in the bath and then against the couch and also maybe on the dining table again and we never had the chance to do it on a chair. I have very sturdy chairs, Oliver!”

Oliver folded his lips over his teeth, nodding. “I’m sure the chairs will still be there next week, honey.”

“I wash shupposh to have mo’ time. We we’ shupposh to have mo’ time! A’ leasht two mo’ daysh!” Felicity said her mouth full of ice-cream. She swallowed, already digging into the pint again. “But nooooo, the entire universe is against me and my orgasms.”

Trying his best to muffle his chuckle, Oliver took the ice-cream out of her hand. “I think you’ve had enough sugar.”

Felicity narrowed her eyes, glaring at him, her nostrils flaring. Gulping, he put the ice-cream back in her hand. “... or not, I guess.”

She groaned, tightening her hold on her spoon and he added, sheepishly, “... my love.”

Wow. He’d have to tread carefully if he didn’t want to be castrated by the end of the night.

Challenge accepted.

“What can I do? Get you some tea? Water?”

She shook her head, licking her lips. “I took a painkiller thirty minutes ago but it’s not helping.”

Oliver grimaced, hating feeling useless. In a way, it was an important moment and he didn’t want to be one of those clueless boyfriends. He tried to search his memory, thinking about what girls liked during that time of the month. Sweet things were out of the question, judging by the amount of ice-cream Felicity had already ingested. Painkillers as well, apparently.

“Hot water bottle?” he asked eventually.

“It’s in the bathroom. I never use it because I’m not comfortable on my back and it never stays in place.”

“If I promise you I’ll find a way, will you let me put the ice-cream away?”

Felicity nibbled on her lower lip, hesitation clear in her eyes. Eventually, she let out a deep sigh and handed him the pint. “If it doesn’t work, I want it back. I... I need it, Oliver.”

“Pinky swear,” he whispered, straightening up. He dropped a kiss on her forehead then went to store the ice-cream back in the freezer, finding the abandoned lid on the kitchen counter. He poured water in the electrical boiler while Felicity went to the bathroom. She came back a couple of minutes later, handing him the most ridiculous hot water bottle he had ever seen. It was covered by a thick fleece fabric, small stags with tiny light bulbs on each tip of their antlers. He shook his head, pouring hot water in and closing it tightly.

“Do you want to go to bed or watch TV?” he asked Felicity who was already sitting back on the couch.

“I won’t be able to sleep anyway, so I’d rather watch TV if you don’t mind.”

“No problem,” he smiled. “How are you the most comfortable usually?”

“Lying on my left side,” she replied automatically.

Nodding, he went to lie down on the couch, making sure there were enough cushions against the armrest. “Come on.”

Frowning, Felicity looked at him before joining him, her back to his front so they were both facing the television. He let her get comfortable, his arm underneath her neck, then pulled the blanket over their bodies.

“Raise your hoodie,” he murmured in her ear. Once she was done, he slipped his arm around her waist, carefully placing the hot bottle low on her abdomen, keeping his hand on it so it wouldn’t fall.

"There?"

"Yes," Felicity sighed, relaxing against him as she dropped the hoodie back over his hand. “Weren’t you supposed to spend the night at the mansion?” she asked in a small voice.

“I couldn’t sleep. Then I texted you and you seemed off. I got worried,” he replied, pressing a kiss on her head.

“I’m sorry. I figured it would be pointless for you to come over since… well you know.”

Oliver paused, raising his head and trying to see her face. “What? Since we can’t have sex, you mean?”

“... yeah?”

“You silly girl,” he grinned, nuzzling her ear with his nose. “What were you planning to do? Eat your weight in ice-cream?”

“Of course not. Ice-cream is only the first step. Then it’s chocolate.”

“My bad. I have a feeling I have a lot to learn.”

“Well, yes probably,” she said, patting his arm. “But I have a feeling you’re gonna be good student.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. In no time you’ll be buying me tampons.”

Oliver laughed, resting his forehead on her shoulder. “Weirdly enough… I actually kinda look forward to that. I’m sure it will be an interesting experience.”

“Oliver Queen, getting adventurous in the Women’s health aisle at Walgreens. I’m sure a lot of people would pay good money to see that.”

“As long as it doesn’t end with me hijacking an old lady’s basket…”

“Shut up,” she laughed, slapping his wrist.

“Ow.”

“Sorry,” she whispered, stroking the back of his hand.

He smiled, his head dipping into the cushions even more.

“It should get better shortly then we’ll go to bed,” Felicity continued, her fingers still tracing lazy patterns, travelling up his forearms.

“It’s OK. I’m good, here.” Spreading his hand, he let his thumb grazed the skin of her stomach, smiling at the little moan of contentment that escaped her lips.

“I know it’s not comfortable,” she whispered drowsily.

“Shhhh…”

“Just five minutes.”

She eventually relaxed in his arms, her breathing evening. It was only when he was sure she was deeply asleep that he allowed himself to close his eyes.


As promised, his hand didn’t move until he woke up a few hours later.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"The Promise"

 

If you wait for me
Then I'll come for you
Although I've traveled far
I always hold a place for you in my heart

If you think of me
If you miss me once in awhile
Then I'll return to you
I'll return and fill that space in your heart

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting

If you dream of me
Like I dream of you
In a place that's warm and dark
In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting

I've longed for you
And I have desired
To see your face your smile
To be with you wherever you are

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
Please say you'll be waiting

Together again
It would feel so good to be in your arms
Where all my journeys end
If you can make a promise
If it's one that you can keep
I vow to come for you
If you wait for me

And say you'll hold
A place for me in your heart.

A place for me in your heart. 

 

 

 

It wasn’t even dawn when Oliver woke up. They were still lying on the sofa, his hand keeping the hot water bottle pressed on Felicity’s abdomen. He blinked, feeling how cold it was now, and let it fall carelessly, letting his hand stroke soothing circles instead. Felicity shifted in his arms, a small mewl escaping her as she snuggled herself closer to him.

He was supposed to go back to the mansion, preferably before anyone was awake too, but it was hard to move when she was so obviously content in his arms.

“Oliver?” Felicity eventually mumbled with a small yawn.

Chuckling, he kissed her hair, relieved that at least he wouldn’t have to wake her up. “Who else were you expecting? Your janitor?”

She let out a small sleepy laugh before sitting up, fixing her ponytail. “You have to go, I suppose?”

“Yup,” he murmured, gazing at her as much as he could in the very dim light offered by the TV. He remembered lowering the sound when Felicity had started to doze off but apparently he had fallen asleep too fast for him to think about shutting it down as well.

He sat up as she made her way to the bathroom, rubbing his eyes. A quick glance at the clock told him it was almost 5AM and if he wanted to sneak inside the mansion unseen, he didn’t have much time. He went to get a glass of orange juice, gulping it down in one go. He didn’t know if Felicity was planning on heading back to bed for a couple hours or not so he didn’t start the coffee maker for her. By the time she was back, he was making a sandwich and wrapping it up.

“Are you going back to bed?” he asked her as she joined him in the kitchen.

She shook her head, already aiming straight for a mug in the cupboard. “No. Dig is picking me up at 7:30. I need to prepare a few things.”

“You’ll be careful, right?” he couldn’t help but ask, earning himself a glare.

“Oliver. I’ll be all alone. But yes if it makes you feel better, I’ll be very careful not to trip over my own feet.”

“I should be there mid-afternoon at the latest,” he said as he grabbed a few cherry tomatoes from the fridge and washed them. He placed them in a small container, adding them to the brown paper bag where he had stored the sandwich.

“... what are you doing?” Felicity asked him all of a sudden, her fingers hovering over the coffee maker.

“I… I am packing your lunch,” he answered sheepishly, shifting on his feet. “I mean since I won’t be back until at least 2PM, and since we agreed you wouldn’t head out of the factory until either Dig or I are there…”

Felicity pressed her hand against her mouth, her eyes twinkling. “Oliver Queen is packing my lunch. Oliver Jonas Queen just made me a sandwich, added cherry tomatoes and put everything in a paper bag. I’m gonna need a minute to process that.”

He felt his cheeks flaming up but couldn’t help but correct her. “... I also added four cookies. The ones you like to have with your tea.”

“This is all kind of adorable, you know. Pretty sure it would be impossible for anyone to make the connection between you and ski-mask dude.”

“Pretty sure you’re the only person I ever packed lunch for so that point is moot anyway,” he said, pointing his index finger at her. “Knowing you like I do you would have gone without any food then would have starved and been all grumpy on me. I did it for my very own selfish reasons.”

“Sure. That’s why you made sure to add four cookies,” she snickered as he put the bag in the fridge. “Because you’re a big tough alpha male.”

“Shut up,” he grinned, leaning in to kiss her.

Monday mornings clearly were underrated.



When he finally walked inside the mansion, no one was up. He knew he only had a few minutes so he quickly made his way to his bedroom, heading straight for a shower. He took his time getting dressed, flipping through a few channels on TV to waste a few more minutes. By the time he finally made his way downstairs, his mother and sister were already seated around the dining table.

“Good morning,” he mumbled as he sat down as well.

“So, Ollie, what are your plans today?” Thea asked between two mouthfuls of cereal.

“I’m just going to stay here, like I told you yesterday,” Oliver smiled. “Read a bit, and… mom, I forgot to tell you last night but I’ll be going to the gala on Saturday.”

His mother raised her eyebrows in obvious surprise. “What… what made you change your mind?”

Oliver shrugged, taking a sip of coffee. “I figured one public appearance might get people off my back. Might as well happen at QC. But that doesn’t mean anything more, by the way. Just… I just feel like one hour or two wouldn’t hurt.”

“I’m… I’m really happy to hear that,” Moira smiled. “Do you need a PA or a plus one?”

“No, mom. I actually plan on spending today catching up a bit more on what happened while I was away. I’ll be going alone.”

“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. I was just telling Thea about our security being upgraded because of those anonymous letters we got, by the way,” his mother continued, her head tilting in warning. Oliver understood right away that this was the official version and he had to play along.

“Which is utterly ridiculous if you ask me. We always get anonymous letters from some sicko,” Thea rolled her eyes as she peeled a banana.

“It’s for our own safety, Thea,” Oliver gently scolded her.

“I assume you’re going to get your own bodyguard as well, dear brother?”

“Well… yes. Of course,” Moira stated calmly. “I’ll meet with our head of security this morning to make sure everything is in order.”

“John Diggle. I want John Diggle, mom. Nobody else.”

“I’ll see what I can do but I know he’s now assigned to-”

“Please. You know he was my bodyguard at first. I know him and I trust him.”

“... alright then. I’ll ask specifically for him but it’s a bit of a downgrade for mister Diggle you know? I’m not sure he’ll appreciate it.”

“I’ll talk to him. Let him know it’s only temporary. I’d feel better if he was the one in charge of my personal security.”

“Very well. That is settled then. Thea, any request while we’re at it?”

“Yes," Thea replied after taking a sip of orange juice. "If I could have one that looks like Kevin Costner, I’d really appreciate it.”

 

 

By the time everybody had left the house, Oliver was still in his father’s office. It had become a family office after his death and Walter had made another room into his own when he had moved in. It felt weird to step inside the room all these years later, even if a few things had been changed. There were new curtains, a new computer and the familiar scent of Robert’s favorite cigars was long gone.

He couldn’t deny that sitting at his father’s chair felt weird, the symbolism of the act dawning on him suddenly. When he finally left the room, it was slightly past ten, and he knew the house was empty. Monday was grocery day for Raisa and she was the only staff member working that day anyway. His mother had sent him a text, confirming the agency had been made aware of his demand and he really couldn’t wait to get his hands on everything they had found. Things were finally moving forward at a more satisfying pace.

Moira had also included a list of people supposed to attend the gala, noting that it might help him to remember a few faces. He was checking them, making his way back to his bedroom when a small sound attracted his attention. The wood was cracking. It was nothing unusual in an old house like the mansion but for some reason, it put him on alert. Lightening his steps even more, he took the last few steps that separated him from his bedroom. The small, muffled sounds he could hear confirmed his suspicions. Rolling the file he was still holding, he shoved it into the back pocket of his jeans then opened the door as if there was nothing out of the ordinary.

One man. His eyes quickly scanned the room, confirming it. There was only one silhouette, obviously male, busy searching through the drawers of his desk. The window was open, but Oliver had left it that way before heading downstairs so he couldn't be sure this was how the intruder had managed to break in. The man stood up, his face protected by a balaclava and for a few seconds they both stared at each other.

“If it’s money you want, you won’t find any in here,” Oliver said calmly, his hands raised.

The man grabbed a gun from his back, and pointed it towards Oliver. “I’m not here for money. But you already know that, don’t you?”

“I’m afraid I’m not following.”

“What do you know about your father’s project?”

“If it's about QC, I'm not involved with the company anymore,” Oliver answered, taking a step forward. He needed to get closer to get a chance to disarm him.

“You were his heir. Supposed to take over after him. I’m going to ask again. What do you know about his project?”

“Nothing. I don’t know what you’re talking about. The only thing I have is a letter he wrote to me.”

“Where is that letter?”

Oliver shifted a few inches, turning his hips. “My pocket. I’m going to take it and hand it to you. Please don’t shoot.”

The man seemed to ponder his words, his grip tightening on the gun, then eventually nodded. His behavior confirmed to Oliver that he wasn’t a professional. And he had no accent, unlike the Bratva brothers he had taken down a few weeks ago.

Slowly, keeping his eyes on the man, Oliver lowered a hand, grabbing the file. “Here. Take it. There is nothing in there anyway, I never understood a word of what he wrote. Please don’t hurt me.”

“Bring me the letter,” the man growled in response.

“Alright. Don’t shoot,” Oliver answered quietly, taking the few last steps until he was close enough to hand him the papers.

There were two possibilities now. Either the man had been hired to kill him, and as soon as he had his hands on what he wanted he would fire the gun. Or all he wanted was that file and then he would leave... but then probably come back to get the real thing. Which would then put other people at risk. All in all… it was a threat he needed to take care of.

“Open the file first.”

Smart one.

Oliver grimaced, knowing he wouldn’t be able to fool him but opened the file nonetheless knowing it would earn him a few precious seconds.

“This doesn’t look like a-”

Dropping the file, Oliver grabbed the arm that was holding the gun so it wasn’t facing him anymore and punched the guy in the face, aiming for the nose. WIthout giving his opponent time to gather his bearings, he pushed him against a wall, forcing him to release the gun by slamming his wrist against a cabinet. With a yelp of pain, the man let his weapon go and Oliver kicked it away before grabbing his throat.

“Who hired you?”

He could only see the man’s eyes and they gleamed with what looked like gleeful evil. “You’ll never find out.”

“Wanna bet?”

“You’ll be dead first,” he snorted.

Only instincts warned Oliver, and he was jumping away a quarter of a second before a knife could dig in his throat, but the sudden pinch of pain he felt in his arm let him know he hadn't been able to completely avoid it.

Grabbing the first thing he could, he held it protectively against his face, the blade slashing through it, ending a few inches away from him. He threw the useless shield on the bed, the knife still stuck, noting the fear in the man’s eyes right before Oliver landed a punch on his stomach then clocked him underneath the chin, hearing the crack sound his jaw made.

“One last time. Who hired you? What do they want?”

The man spat blood before answering. “They want to make sure you don’t know anything. But you do, right?”

Oliver squeezed his fists, feeling completely trapped. This was his home, and he knew he shouldn’t let the man get away. But how could he explain a dead man’s body in his bedroom? How could he justify it? And what would Felicity think of him?

“I wonder if everybody else in this family is as good a fighter as you seem to be, Mister Queen.”

That sealed the deal. Oliver grabbed the man by his clothes, pushed him against the window frame - the one that was still open, not even thinking twice.

“You are going to tell them I know nothing. The letter drowned with the Gambit. And pray no one in my family gets hurt, you hear me?”

“Wait, no, don’t,” the man said, his hands scrambling for purchase around the window frame.

“Did. You. Hear. Me?” Oliver snarled, tightening his grip.

“Yes, yes!”

A loud bang against his door made them both jump. “Oliver? Is everything alright?”

Dig.

The second of inattention was enough for the man to throw his head back for a headbutt. Oliver moved just in time to avoid the full blow but not fast enough to not get hit. His lip throbbing, he heard the door banging open just as he was dragging the man inside the room again.

Everything happened in a blur at that moment. He saw Dig reaching for his gun, the man diving to get his that was still on the floor. Reacting instinctively, Oliver kicked him in the chest before he could reach it and the next thing he knew, the man was stumbling, his hand slipping on the window frame.

A short scream and a loud thud were heard as he fell down to the stone ground two floors below.

Dig gasped, looking at Oliver who just closed his eyes, trying to hear anything more. A moan, a yelp… anything.

Only silence could be heard.

One quick glance confirmed it. The man had fallen head first. He was dead.

“Don’t touch anything, Oliver. Is this his gun or yours?” Dig asked, putting his glock back in his jacket.

“His.”

“Do you have any weapon inside this room or this house?”

“No. I don’t. Maybe my mom or Walter but in this room, there is only a knife.”

“What kind of knife?”

“Swiss army.”

“Where is it?”

“Underneath my pillow.”

“Move it. Put it in a cabinet or cupboard, somewhere random,” Dig told him as he picked up his phone. “Before I call them, is there anything I need to know?”

“No. He was inside the room when I arrived, looking for some papers... probably my father's letter or something similar. We fought, you arrived and you saw what happened next.”

“It was pure self defense. The man was a burglar, it looks like an accident. You’re also wounded. It will be fine.”

Dig quickly called the police while Oliver went to pick up his knife, shoving it in a drawer. His shirt was wet with his blood and he winced, pressing a handkerchief on the cut on his bicep. He would definitely need stitches.

“We’ll keep this simple,” Dig said as soon as he had hung up. “You found a burglar in your room. He had a gun, threatened you. He lost his gun, you tried to run away. Small fight occurred, your chin and lips are bruised and your arm is bleeding. I arrived, startled him and when you tried to keep him from taking his gun, you pushed him but he fell through the window. It’s the truth, right?”  

“Yes,” Oliver sighed. “Why are you here though?”

“Man, I’m your bodyguard. Personally requested according to Mrs Queen. Thank you, by the way. I feel special.”

“Anytime,” Oliver sighed, sitting down on the bed.

“Hey… you defended yourself, man. It’s not your fault, I was there, I saw it. Had you been one foot further away, the dude would have just fallen on his ass. He had a knife and a gun. I doubt his intentions were pure.”

“They weren’t but… this is messy, John. A man died at the Mansion. It’s bound to attract attention.”

“It might not be bad, you know. Well… not that someone dead is good. But that means it justifies the upgrade of security. And also the more you have public eyes on you the less likely anyone will be tempted to make a move against you.”

Oliver nodded, knowing there was some truth in Dig’s words.

“Do you know who he was?”

“No. White male, brown eyes. I’d say he might have been in his thirties, had a few wrinkles around the eyes. No accent,” Oliver explained while Dig was sitting down next to him. “You are… remarkably calm about this.”

“It’s my job, Oliver. That man was dangerous, it ended badly but… at the end of the day it’s none of our fault. He broke into a house, armed and was obviously ready to use said arms.”

The police arrived quite fast, as well as an ambulance. Moira came back in a rush and insisted on staying by his side as his deposition was taken. As Dig had predicted, the case was simple. An accident. There should be no charges pressed if the evidence confirmed their words. Oliver’s cut on the arm was cleaned by the medics, but he still needed to head to the hospital for stitches. Before leaving, he had a quick talk with his mother, confirming to her what the burglar had been after. He saw the worry growing on her face, the way her eyes avoided his for a few seconds but she just nodded, telling him that at least he was safe and sound. He asked Dig to give him a minute, then led his mother to a small study down the hall.

 “Mom… have you been threatened too?” he asked her right away, knowing it would be pointless to beat about the bush. This time he wouldn't stop until he got the truth out of her.

“What? No!” Moira exclaimed, her hand covering her chest.

“There is something you’re not telling me and I wonder what it is.”

“Oliver, no… yes I am nervous and maybe fidgety but my son just came back to me and someone tried to hurt him or worse so yes, I’m a little bit anxious. But that is all.”

“There is something more, I can feel it. Someone just broke inside our house looking for something concerning dad. He was in my room but it could have been Thea's. So, I'm asking again... have you been threatened yourself?”

Moira took a deep breath, taking a step backwards. She seemed to ponder his words then eventually exhaled slowly. “Yes. A little bit after your father passed away, I was approached to keep the usual business going. I refused. They threatened you and Thea. We came to an agreement that our family would from then on stay away from them and in return, I would never tell anyone.”

“Who? Who was it, mom?”

“I don’t know, Oliver! It was a messenger, someone I had never seen in my life.”

“How… how did they convince you? How did you know they were telling the truth?”

“Because I had my own doubts and they only confirmed them,” Moira said quietly. “Oliver if we leave this all behind us… they will go away again.”

What? No they won’t. They will always exist.

“Mom… you know I believe they went after the Gambit. And they killed dad for sure. They have to pay.”

“You can’t go against them. We can’t go against them, I am not risking my children’s lives, Oliver,” she hissed, that dark, cold look back in her eyes, the one that had surprised him so much when he had come back. He understood now. He understood she had been made aware of the fact that her husband had been killed, and that there were threats out there. The way she had acted at first, so controlling, could be easily explained by a need to keep him close.

“Mom… I need you to tell me the truth. The Gambit. Did you know? Is that why you stopped the investigation?”

Moira crossed her arms on her chest, her trembling hand covering her lips for a few seconds. “Yes. It was their warning.”

“...what?” Oliver asked, shocked. He had assumed the investigations had unfolded the truth, not that she had been told.

“I still had Thea. If I ever talked… they’d go after her. They didn't believe my word when I told them I'd never talk. That was their way of making sure I’d never reveal anything about what your father did. I got the message loud and clear.”

“I… you knew? All along?”

Moira ignored his question, reaching out to squeeze his hand, pleading. “Oliver, I’m begging you. You have to think about Thea. They won’t hesitate.”

“What are they hiding, mom? Do you even know?”

“I don’t. And believe me after they murdered my son, I had no interest to find out and risk losing my daughter as well.”

Oliver blinked, feeling dizzy. Things had gone much, much deeper than he had first thought. “... was that why you behaved that way with Felicity?”

“Oliver, I always liked that girl. But I remember how she was with Isabel and… I did what I had to do to make sure she would stop. I owed it to you to at least try to protect her.”

“What do you mean you did what you…” he trailed off, frowning. “You… you hired those men? The ones who went after her? It was you?!” Oliver breathed, his eyes widening. It suddenly felt like the world was crashing at his feet.

“I made sure it was only a warning and that she wouldn’t get-”

“Do you have any idea what those men could have done to her?! Would have done to her if-” Oliver stopped himself just in time. “If someone hadn’t helped her?”

“Better than her getting a bullet between the eyes, Oliver,” Moira snapped. “And I was very clear that it was just a warning, they were not to harm her in any way.”

Oliver’s jaw dropped as he grabbed his head between his hands, wincing at the pinching burn he felt on his arm. Never would he have ever thought that his mother would have been the one to send the thugs after Felicity.

“I can’t believe you… you call that protecting her?!”

“What was I supposed to do exactly, Oliver? Tell her that yes her suspicions were right? I picked the lesser of two evils.”

“I… I need a minute, mom,” Oliver said, his mind trying to process everything. Of all the things he could have expected… that his mother had willingly put Felicity in danger… even though he heard her reasons and somehow maybe could understand why she had done it… it was still hard to accept. When had his mother turned into someone ready to do this kind of thing?

“Don’t judge me, Oliver. I lost my husband. I lost my son. They threatened my only living child. Had I let Felicity go on, she would be dead by now as well. And you know it.”

“It doesn’t… it doesn’t justify everything, mom!” he roared, remembering how close of a call that night had been.

“Keep your voice down,” Moira scolded him. “I did the only thing I could think of to keep her safe.”

“I don’t recognize you. I don’t recognize you anymore.”

“Just like I don’t recognize you either, Oliver. We both have changed. That’s what happens when you face something hard. It hardens you. It made you taciturn, it made me ready to do what is necessary to avoid blood being spilled. Too many people have died already.”

A knock on the door interrupted them. Oliver opened it, not surprised to see Dig on the other side.

“Police officers are done with your room. I suggest packing a new shirt to wear after you’re done at the hospital. I’ll wait for you downstairs.”

“Thanks, Dig,” Oliver murmured, closing the door. “Mom… I have to go. Don’t expect me tonight. I need a bit of time.”

“Honey. You have to understand that everything I did was to protect Thea and Felicity as well. When you came back, I had no idea you were aware of what your father had done and everything should have stayed buried.”

“Make sure there are cameras around the mansion. Security outside and inside too. 24/7. Make sure none of you go anywhere without a guard, that includes work.”

“Yes. Don’t worry, we’re already working on this as we speak. But where will you be?”

“I need some air. And I need to think. Don’t worry, I’ll take Dig with me.”

“Alright. Just… Oliver, I can’t lose you. Be careful, don’t do anything reckless. It’s just not worth it.”

“No, mom. I just need to think about everything you’ve told me. That’s all. I’ll see you on Saturday anyway. I promise.”

The smile he gave her was small and stiff but she nodded nonetheless.

He definitely needed a few days to let everything sink in.

One thing was clear though: his mother was a hell of a liar and poker player.

 

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to get fixed at the hospital, probably thanks to his last name and the very generous yearly contributions his family made. Dig had grabbed some lunch in the meanwhile and when they finally headed to the foundry it was just after 2PM.

Making his way downstairs he was surprised to see Felicity wearing a pair of protective glasses, apparently busy soldering some sort of cables together.

“Hi guys!” She grinned, putting the glasses down. “Just in time. I finished setting up your system, now all we need is to get some cameras so we can make sure no one enters the perimeter unknown. I also suggest an upgrade for the main door as well as motion detectors.”

Still smiling, she stood up, walking to them. “So how was your…”

Her face fell suddenly, her eyes fixing on Oliver’s jaw, then travelling down to his arm, where the big white bandage was quite obvious underneath his T-shirt.

“Oh my God, what happened?” she breathed, her fingers pushing his chin upwards to take a closer look. “Did you have a car crash? Did… and what is this, is this a sandwich?!”

Felicity’s eyes travelled from his arm to the sandwich he was still holding in his other hand. “Hum, yes, we stopped for lunch,” he explained.

Felicity stared at Dig, then at him again. “What. Happened.”

“Someone broke into my room. He had a gun and a knife. We fought. He fell through the window.”

“And when exactly did this happen?” Felicity asked calmly, folding her arms.

“This morning,” Dig explained, throwing him a glance that said, quite clearly ‘you didn’t let her know?!’.

“This morning,” Felicity repeated, nodding her head as she checked her watch. “It’s…  2:15 in the afternoon. And I am finding now that someone went after you?”

“We had the cops over and he had to go to the hospital to get stitches,” Dig tried to explain, his tone clearly lacking conviction.

“And then you went to get a freaking sandwich, am I right?” Felicity snarled. “So, your priorities were: cops, hospital, meatball sandwich and then girlfriend?”

“Felicity, it’s no big deal. It’s just a cut. I didn’t see the point in worrying you,” Oliver said softly. He was fine, and those few stitches really were no big deal at all.

“Someone tried to kill you, Oliver, so yes there is a point in me being worried!” she yelled, banging her hand on the table. “I… I can’t believe this. What happened to the man? Is he at the hospital too?”

“He died.”

Felicity’s eyes widened as she took a step back. “I.. this is… I don’t even know what to say.”

Diggle slapped his shoulder, then made a small head gesture letting him understand he was going to give them some time. Oliver knew that he probably should talk to Felicity but first he had to share with the two of them the conversation he had had with his mother. He held Dig back, shaking his head, before turning to face Felicity.

“Honey, I’m sorry-”

“Don’t you dare honey me right now!” she cut him off, stomping to her desk and sitting on the chair facing the computer.

“I just didn’t think about calling you at first and then we were on our way anyway,” Oliver tried to placate her, realizing he was already considering that whole area as “her” place in the foundry.

She turned slowly on her chair, facing him. “You just… didn’t think about calling me?”

“I was in reacting mode, it’s…” Oliver trailed off, trying to find the right words. “It was just a one thing at a time kind of reaction. Listen, can we… talk about this later?”

“Oh yes we’re going to talk about this, that’s for sure,” she snapped. “Probably after I call my mom, get a mani-pedi and and maybe floss my teeth to reflect your MO.”

Oliver winced, sensing her anger wouldn’t fade anytime soon, even though he couldn’t really understand it. He was fine, after all. What would have been the point of her being worried, here all alone where he couldn’t reassure her?

Felicity took a deep breath, then eventually asked in a calmer tone, “so… anything else I should know?”

“... Yes. And Dig as well,” Oliver replied.

He proceeded to tell them everything his mother had done, not leaving anything out. Dig’s eyebrows kept on raising to the point where they almost reached his hairline the more he told them.

“... See!” Felicity exclaimed as she gave a fist pump. "I told you it was weird they didn’t want to kill me!”

“Hum… yeah… I guess,” Oliver grimaced.

“Although… wow. I can’t believe she went that far. I mean… I’ve always heard of the saying "desperate times call for desperate measures" but your mother took that to a whole other level,” Felicity whistled. “With all due respect, of course.”

“So what do you want to do man?” Dig asked as he finished his sandwich.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t think I could live knowing that someone could suddenly change their mind and come after Thea or my mom.”

“I guess the good thing is that Felicity is still out of the picture for them,” Dig nodded. “And I agree with you. It’s not a life, look at how much your mother has changed. Long-term wise, it’s not liveable. Not to mention... what if they're still planning something?”

“There’s that,” Felicity agreed, swirling in her chair. “I’ll make sure to upgrade security for Thea at PT as well by the way. Don’t worry. Did she get back home?”

“My mom said she was on her way.”

“OK. Tell her she can have a few days off. I’ll deal with it,” Felicity said, waving her hand dismissively. “Something else, though. Did you tell the police about what the man was really after?”

“No. Of course not,” Oliver denied, shaking his head.

“You should.”

… what?!

He exchanged a glance with Dig who seemed as confused as he was.

“Remember what your father wrote? Corruption is everywhere even in the police department.”

“Oh. Ooooh, bright move Miss Smoak,” Dig congratulated her.

“I have my moments,” she grinned proudly.

“I’m sorry but I’m still a bit lost here,” Oliver mumbled, sitting down on the desk next to her.

“You should eat. You’re very pale,” Felicity frowned, cradling his face. “And drink,” she added, handing him her bottle of water. “What I mean is that… if you want them to think you have no idea what this is all about, there’s your chance. Call back the police officer, say you remember something. The guy kept asking for a letter but it didn’t make much sense to you because the only letter you can think of was one from your dad asking you to forgive him about Isabel and it drowned with the Gambit. There. If they have access to your deposition, they’ll think that letter either never existed or is lost anyway.”

Which could be enough to convince them he knew nothing and leave his family alone. Or at least buy him some time.

“Those bright brains of yours,” Oliver smiled proudly before tapping her forehead with his index finger.

“Also, when you go to the private agency, make sure to mention that you’re mostly looking for something to tell the Backstones when you visit them. Again… make it sound like something anyone would do in those circumstances,” Dig added. “You’re still going there this week?”

Oliver looked down at Felicity, conflicted. He had planned this trip before he had any idea they would get back together and leaving her now seemed… really hard to handle for some reason.

“I’ll be fine. Stick to your plans,” she reassured him.

“Dig…”

“I’ll stay with her.”

“You’re supposed to be his bodyguard,” Felicity snorted.

“It’s a last minute arrangement and unfortunately, Dig had planned to ask for a couple of days off, right Dig?”

“Yup. Paid by my boss and all that jazz,” Dig smirked. “I’ll put Rob with you. He’s gullible, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with that one.”

“Why don’t I get the gullible one?” Felicity pouted.

“You get the big badass one because you’d probably eat that poor Rob alive.”


Eventually, Dig and Felicity went to buy cameras and at least a dozen other things Felicity deemed absolutely necessary, such as a mini fridge and a list of techy stuff that made no sense to him.

By the time they were back, night had already fallen. They ate dinner, all around the med table, while Felicity mumbled about needing a proper dining table. Oliver made a mental note to find one, even if he still didn’t really like the idea of Felicity spending too much time in here.

They dropped Felicity first, then after a few rounds around the neighborhood, they both made their way to the building as well. Dig wished him good luck before continuing to his own floor and Oliver sighed, knowing he was about to get an earful.

She was showering when he walked inside thanks to the key she had given him. He slowly exhaled, locking the door, enjoying the calm of her apartment. His arm was bothering him a little, having refused to take painkillers after the small injection they had given him to numb the area for the stitches. He was drinking a glass of water, leaning against the sink, when she walked inside the living room, already in her PJs.

“So… let’s just rip off the band-aid, shall we?” she said as she hopped on the counter. “How on earth do you consider it OK to not let me know something like that has happened to you, Oliver?”

“That’s… I knew I was going to tell you. It just wasn’t necessary to let you know right away. I was fine, everyone was fine.”

“Oliver, please. What if I had surfed the web? How do you think I would have felt knowing the man I love had been attacked in his home and there was a dead body involved?! While I was stuck in a steel factory in the middle of the Glades?!”

“I…” Oliver sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I couldn’t call you while cops were there.”

“That I can understand. But Oliver you went to buy a freaking sandwich!”

“I’m sorry. I can see this upsets you and-”

“Ugh!” she groaned, huffing. “That is what is killing me. You’re apologizing because I’m upset. Newsflash: I’m not upset, I’m mad. And I wish you could see how wrong it is to not let me know when something like that happens to you as if I am not a part of your life! I agreed to keep things quiet, I understand your concern. But damn it, Oliver, a text would have gone a long way! How on earth do you want me to feel comfortable, to trust you if I know you’re totally OK not letting me know this kind of stuff? How?! I’ll be worried every time you’re away from me because even if something bad happens to you, chances are I will find out after you had the time to grab a freaking meatball sandwich!”

“Felicity, it’s just a fucking flesh wound!” Oliver snapped. “It’s… it’s nothing! I got much, much worse so yes to me it’s as pointless as you calling me because you had a paper cut!”

Felicity paled at his words, stiffening. “A papercut, really? When a man held you at gunpoint and slashed your arm? So let me get this straight… if I get assaulted by someone on my way to work, and he points a gun at me, but in the end I only scratch my hand, I shouldn’t let you know ASAP, right? I should first call the cops, call an ambulance, get to the hospital, stop at that bakery shop I love so much, get myself a chocolate cake, leisurely savor it on my way back home, and only then tell you… right? You’d be totally fine with that, right?”

“It’s… it’s different, Felicity,” Oliver pinched his lips. “I’m used to this. You aren’t.”

“And I sure as hell won’t get used to it anytime soon if you leave me out of the loop, Oliver!”

“See? That’s… this is all a mistake! I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. You can’t understand because-”

“Because you don’t explain to me, Oliver. That is why I can’t understand.”

Oliver turned around and grabbed the sink with his hands, breathing in slowly. There was no point in getting mad.

“But you know what? I can explain something to you. It’s OK. That I can do,” Felicity continued nonetheless with a hard voice. “I can explain to you that I know what it’s like to get bad news. I know what it’s like to ask your assistant to get you a sandwich for lunch, not realize she hasn't come back and suddenly wondering why is everybody so quiet. I know what it’s like when your boss enters your office, closes the door behind him with that terrible sadness in his eyes because he knows he is about to break your heart into a thousand pieces and that you'll probably never recover from it. I know what it’s like to be told the love of your life isn’t coming back. I know that. I lived it once. I came back to this place three years ago, your voice in my ears, still refusing to admit what everyone was telling me and repeating to myself that they were wrong and that you were coming back and that I'd never let you leave this apartment ever again because here was safe, here was where we were happy and together. And God help me but I have to physically keep myself from holding you hostage here, where there's no danger, where you smile, where you seem happy, but I know you’ll never find peace and never be able to really move forward if you don’t find out who did this to you. So I just accept it. I grit my teeth even though you’re probably going to end up in danger. But if I can’t be sure you’re going to tell me when something like that happens, how on earth can I continue? Every single minute I would stop and wonder if you are still alright? I need you to tell me when something like that happens, Oliver. I need it to stay sane.” 

“I’m trying, Felicity!” he shouted, suddenly angry for a reason he didn't really understand. He could hear the pain in her voice and he hated being the one causing it... but at the same time he wasn't sure he was ready to hear her words. Facing her pain and heartbreak, even three years later, knowing he was hurting her again, right now... it was a bit too much for him to handle. “I am trying every day, every hour. When you spend three years only counting on yourself, it becomes a habit. It’s how I survived, you don’t… you don’t just forget that!”

“We’re not a mistake, Oliver. We’ll never be,” Felicity sighed, closing her eyes.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” he whispered, the anger he had felt a few seconds earlier already vanishing. He rubbed his forehead, trying to make sense of all the emotions that were swirling inside of him.

“I accept that you are not ready to share everything with me. But I need something Oliver. I need to be sure that if something happens to you in the present day you will tell me.”

“Telling people isn’t in my instincts, Felicity” Oliver admitted quietly. He didn’t want to lie to her. He didn’t want to make empty promises he wasn’t sure he would keep. Because truth be told, even though he had thought of Felicity during that morning, he hadn’t even entertained the idea of letting her know. He couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t happen again, not because he didn’t care about her feelings but because of the way he was when he was facing a threat. He was logical, tactical, and there was very little place for anything other than that. He knew he’d have to try though.

“That might be the understatement of the year,” she snickered. “But I’m not a random person, Oliver. Don’t treat me as such or… or everything is pointless between us.”

“You know I don’t see you as a random person. I just… have a hard time reconciling you and the person I have become.”

“You have to include me, Oliver. If we can’t be a couple in public, and we can’t be a couple in private, what are we even doing here?”

“You know I love you,” he murmured.

“I love you too. More than words can say,” she smiled softly. “And I know we’ve only been together for a few days and we both need a bit of time to adjust but there are things I’m willing to accept and some that I’m not. And I’m sorry if that means I am pushing you hard but some things are primordial to me. I have to trust you and that also means in this kind of situation.”

He nodded, forcing his hands to relax. She was right, and he knew it.

She hopped off the counter and took a few steps until she was by his side. Her hand on his back, she rubbed small circles and pressed a small kiss on his shoulder. “I don’t like it when we fight.”

“I really don’t like it either,” he breathed as he turned around, already pulling her in his arms. “I’m sorry. I really am.”

“I’m sorry I snapped.”

“I snapped too.”

She snuggled in his arms, her lips brushing his throat. They stayed like that for a couple minutes, until she reached on her toes, pressing a soft kiss on his lips, avoiding the side that was the most bruised. 

“I can’t believe we can’t even have makeup sex,” she whined against his mouth.

He chuckled then, squeezing her ass. “Well you know my position about this…”

“Shut up,” she grimaced, stepping away from him and heading to the fridge. She grabbed a yogurt, then made her way to the dining table. Oliver followed her automatically, sitting down opposite her.

“Damn,” she said suddenly, raising her head. “I forgot to tell you. I’ve been thinking that Saturday will be the perfect opportunity for us to try to find out if anything has been saved of your father’s private network. I just need access to a computer and with you there, that will make things very easy.”

Too busy staring at the way she was licking her spoon, her teasing little tongue so pink between her teeth, Oliver hummed in approval.

“All we’ll have to do is sneak inside an office, Dig can get us passes. I work my magic, then we head back to the reception.”

… wait, what?

“What? We’re supposed to barely acknowledge each other, Felicity, how can we sneak out together at the same time?”

“Come on Oliver, it’s at least two hundred people, they won’t notice me missing. You’ll just have to pretend you went out for a bit of fresh air. With your reputation they might think you got stuck in the ladies room, anyway.”

“But… the whole purpose of me going there is because all the people we suspect are going to be there as well. What… Felicity this is way too dangerous, what if we get caught together?”

“We won’t. If we do, we’ll pretend we’re having a civilized conversation between two adults. That’s all."

“No.”

“Oliver…”

“No, Felicity. Absolutely not. You’ll just explain to me how you hack your way in and I’ll do it.”

She looked at him, pinching her lips and perking an eyebrow. “No offense but… QC servers are not like hacking into someone’s hotmail account, Oliver. I’m not sure what I’ll find there so I can’t exactly tell you how to do it since well… I don’t even know what “it” will be in the first place.”

“Felicity, this is not up for discussion,” he explained through gritted teeth. “I might have accepted you going there but-”

“Excuse me?” she asked, her voice cold, her eyes flashing in anger. “You might have accepted me going there? You didn’t accept anything, Oliver. I told you I was going because it’s my job. It’s the perfect occasion to find out more about your father as well. We would be stupid not to use it.”

Oliver sighed, grabbing his head between his hands. Felicity was so stubborn and borderline reckless and he honestly didn’t know how to make her see reason. It was too dangerous and the two of them in the same room would already be hard for him to handle, but this... What if they got caught? What if someone saw them?

“You have two possibilities, Oliver. Either I do it alone, or you go with me. You need more information. I can find that.”

“We could find another way. We just need to think and we’ll come up with a plan.”

“I don’t… I want to act, Oliver. I want to find out who did this, who killed your father so maybe we can finally put this behind us. I don’t want to wait. I want to be able to go out for dinner with you and I want us to meet for lunch and I want you to be able to walk into my building and not either go through the window or triple check to see if no one followed you. I want a life with you and the longer it takes to discover what happened, the longer we have to wait. We already lost three years, isn’t that enough?”

Felicity stood up, shaking her head. She went to throw her empty yogurt container in the trash can and gulped down a glass of water.

“I’m going to bed. You’re coming?”

Oliver passed a tired hand over his face. “No. I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”

She paused and looked at him, then threw her hands in the air. “Whatever. Goodnight.”

He sighed, watching her as she made her way to her bedroom. Truth be told he was way too fidgety to even consider sleeping right now. He was nervous, frustrated and confused and he knew it was best for him to work it out on his own. Sleeping next to her wasn’t a good idea at all when he was in that state of mind.

Things could shift so fast between them. They had barely made up before they were fighting again. Would it always be this hard? Would it have been this hard without the three years apart?

… Probably not. He knew that. He knew that a part of himself, the one who wanted to control everything had only grown more. Suddenly he wasn’t sure spending so much time with Felicity so soon was a good idea. Sure, at first it had seemed perfect and he still loved being at her place. It was comfortable and safe, and so, so warm. But it was a bubble, nothing more, nothing less. Something that kept the outside world away from them and he had fooled himself, forgetting they were bound to get back to reality. And this, this was reality. Being together would be hard, and not just an easy journey. Things wouldn’t miraculously get better because they got together. He was happier, oh yes. There was no possible comparison to how he felt away from her and by her side. But he was also scared, there was no point in denying it.

Damn, he loved her so much. Sometimes he couldn't help but wonder how his love for her hadn't changed. Was it because she was, in a way, the one who had always seen the best in him and inspired him to become that person, inspired him to become someone he could be proud of? These three years had erased so many things in him but his love for her was intact. If anything, it had grown stronger and it was hard for him to realize he probably didn't make her as happy as she deserved. 

He went for a run, a hoodie hanging low on his face, and even if he wasn’t wearing the appropriate clothes, the physical exertion already helped him clear his head. Usually he would have done push ups but with the wound on his arm, he would have only ended up tearing his stitches. When he walked back in the apartment, Felicity was apparently asleep, her bed lamp switched off. He took a quick shower then settled down on the couch, still deep in thoughts.

She was right. In many ways, she was right. They had had three years of their lives ripped away from them and there was nothing more he wanted than to finally, finally be able to really live again. He knew that his need to control everything would only slow him down, especially since it involved protecting her. He had to trust her, trust her when she said she could handle the risks. And he would have to remember how to be a partner, a real one, one that was there in the bad times and the good ones. He couldn’t afford to go it alone constantly anymore or he would only end up pushing her away.

It would be hard to go against what his instincts had taught him but he had to try. For her. What would be the point of finding out the truth about his father if in the end he lost her and the life they could have? He had been ready to walk out of her life when he had come back but now that he had had the chance to spend those few days with her again... he knew he'd never be able to walk away from her ever again. She was there, for him, supporting him in any way she could and he had to show her he was willing to do the same for her. He had to show her how much he wanted a life with her, a real one. 

And he would start now.

His eyes fixed on the coffee table, he swiftly got rid of the tablecloth.

He had a promise to keep. A promise he had made more than three years ago.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"I'm Gonna Getcha Good!"

 

Let's go!

Don't wantcha for the weekend, don't wantcha for a night
I'm only interested if I can have you for life, yeah
Uh, I know I sound serious and baby I am
You're a fine piece of real estate, and I'm gonna get me some land

Oh, yeah
So, don't try to run honey, love can be fun
There's no need to be alone when you find that someone

(I'm gonna getcha)
I'm gonna getcha while I gotcha in sight
(I'm gonna getcha)
I'm gonna getcha if it takes all night
(Yeah, you can betcha)
You can betcha by the time I say "go," you'll never say "no"
(I'm gonna getcha)
I'm gonna getcha, it's a matter of fact
(I'm gonna getcha)
I'm gonna getcha, don'tcha worry 'bout that
(Yeah, you can betcha)
You can bet your bottom dollar, in time you're gonna be mine
Just like I should - I'll getcha good

Yeah, uh, uh
I've already planned it - here's how it's gonna be
I'm gonna love you and - you're gonna fall in love with me
Yeah, yeah

Oh, yeah
So, don't try to run honey, love can be fun
There's no need to be alone when you find that someone

Yeah, I'm gonna getcha baby I'm gonna knock on wood
I'm gonna getcha somehow honey yeah, I'm gonna make it good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Oh, yeah
So, don't try to run honey, love can be fun
There's no need to be alone when you find that someone

 

Oh, I'm gonna getcha, I'm gonna getcha real good
Yeah, you can betcha, oh, I'm gonna getcha
(I'm gonna getcha) just like I should, I'll getcha good
Oh, I'm gonna getcha good!

 

 

Felicity couldn't sleep.

She had heard Oliver leaving the apartment and a part of her had thought he wouldn’t come back. She had sneaked into the living room and had seen his wallet still on the counter, and understood he had probably needed some air. When he had come back, she had pretended to be asleep, still processing everything that had happened. She had been aware from the beginning that once the real world would start to catch up with them, it wouldn’t be easy. How right she had been. Not that they had had a big fight. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad, just a reminder that yes, there would be struggles. A lot of struggles. Oliver’s trauma ran deep and wasn’t something just confined to the past. No, it was easing its way into his present as well. It wasn’t just a matter of dealing with what he had gone through. It was also accepting that his experience had changed him and being able to tell the difference between the change that would stay with him and the one that was just the expression of his trauma.

She knew he was trying. She could see how he really hadn’t understood what had been her issue. And she would cut him some slack but she also, for both of their sakes, had to stand her ground on many other things. They would go nowhere if all she did was accept unhealthy behavior and sweep it under the rug.

Talk about finding a new balance.

Around midnight, she gave up, switching on the bed lamp, her eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Damn she hated this. She hated knowing he was right next to her room, probably asleep on that surprisingly comfortable couch of hers. He should be next to her. They shouldn’t waste time and sleep away from each other.

It was stupid, really.

That damn, stubborn man.

With his gorgeous eyes and a smile that made her knees weak. Oh and his hands… so strong and soft and so, so very skilled. Those abs that were just begging to be dry-humped…

Ugh. So not helping.

Glancing to her right, she sighed at the sight of his pillow. This wasn’t right.

“Time to be the grown up, I guess,” she grumbled, sitting up and throwing back the blankets.

Quietly, she made her way to the living room where Oliver was apparently asleep. It took her eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness but she could see him lying on the couch.

Biting her lips, she hesitated. She knew now why he had left the bed their first night and she wasn’t sure if sneaking up on him was such a good idea.

“What’s wrong, Felicity?” Oliver said suddenly, making her jump.

“Oh God, Oliver”, she hissed, resting a hand over her chest, her heart beating wildly. “You scared the hell out of me!”

“You’re the one lurking in the shadows, I’ll have you know,” he replied, keeping his tone low. It seemed to her there was a hint of teasing in his voice but she wasn’t sure.

Shaking her head, she took the few steps to the couch just as Oliver straightened, leaning on his elbow. She sat down by his knee, biting her lips nervously and fumbling with his sweatpants.

“This isn’t right, Oliver.”

“I know…” He exhaled slowly, then laid back, opening his arms.

Smiling, she climbed over him, snickering at the little humf he made when she finally dropped down on him, already searching for her favorite position.

There, snuggled in the crook of his arm, the top of her head nestled underneath his chin. Perfect.

Oliver closed his arms around her, covering her with the blanket before pressing a little kiss on her head.

They stayed quiet for long minutes, Oliver’s fingers lacing through her hair while she slowly caressed his scars.

“I used to dream of you,” she eventually said quietly.

Oliver’s hand froze in her hair but he stayed quiet.

“It’s funny because people wanted me to go out, have a drink, have fun so I’d just… get my mind onto something else. They just didn’t know that I didn’t want to. All I wanted was to come home and fall asleep because that was where I could see you again. I’d hear your voice… you’d smile at me… And you would never leave. That’s what my life looked like for a while. I got back to work a few weeks after you went missing and it became my whole life. I just threw myself into it. I would work until I was so tired all I could do was call a cab, then I would just crumble on my bed and fall asleep. After… after my watch was out on the market, I realized I couldn’t go on that way. I asked to be moved to New York. I stayed there two years and then I came back, a little more healthy. But I still dreamed of you. There were mornings where I would wake up and cling to those dreams desperately. I didn’t want to open my eyes, I didn’t want to get up because I knew that you weren’t by my side.” 

Her hand resting over his heart, she resumed her slow caress, tracing the outline of his tattoo from memory. Yet another question she was dying to ask but knew it probably was too soon.

She wasn’t expecting anything from him and was surprised when he started to talk. “When I finally made it to the island, after days of just… drifting, I was exhausted. Hungry. It had rained so I had had enough water but no more food. I barely had anything with me except… that pen you got me in Vegas. For some reason that I’ll probably never understand, I was wearing the pants where I had shoved my car keys. The first thought I had when I made it to the island was that I wanted you to wait for me. I really thought I would be found quickly and I’d come back to you. You’d probably punch me for scaring you that much and then… I wouldn’t have let you leave this apartment for at least one week straight.”

She chuckled. “I’m not sure I would have been able to survive that.”

“You survived just fine the first time.”

“I was walking funny all of Sunday.”

“I wish I could have kissed it all better.”

“Pretty sure you would have done a great job, too.”

“I have my moments.”

She giggled, Oliver’s arms tightening around her as he let out a low chuckle. “I missed that sound,” he murmured. “Your laugh. Your voice… your loud voice.”

Grinning, she shifted until she could nibble on his chin. “Even my loud voice, really?”

“Yeah… it has always been a major turn on.”

“... When I use my loud voice it’s because I am pissed at you, Oliver and I’m giving you a piece of my mind.”

“Well… it usually works. Then I think about how much I want to push you against the nearest surface and see if I can make you scream louder.”

“I’m not a screamer.”

“Yes, you are,” Oliver snorted.

“No. I might… moan a little but I don’t scream.”

“You do. You did in my office. And in my bedroom. Also… you moan a lot. Which I fucking love, by the way.”

“I… didn’t scream in your office,” she gasped, offended. She would have never screamed at his workplace.

“... Honey, you did. And you will again.”

“Let’s pray I don’t because I already had one neighbor complaining about the noise my bed made, remember?”

“Well… then maybe I really need to look for my own place,” Oliver said quietly.

She paused, blinking. “You mean you’d move out of the mansion?”

“It was my plan before. And with what happened today… I think it might be a good idea if I put some distance between my family and I.”

“Don’t you think your mother might be even more… overbearing?”

“I have a feeling that… now that I know, things should be better.”

“Are you planning to tell her about us? Or anyone, really?”

“No. I’m sorry, hon’, but I just feel much more comfortable if no one knows. Dig keeps secrets but with mom-”

“Well I’d say she seems pretty good at that too…”

“Hum. Yes. But if Thea or Tommy find out it’s going to be…”

“Xoxo Gossip Girl."

“If you’re talking about Tommy, yeah.”

“Duh. Of course I am. Seriously though… you might be right. Telling them we’re together yet asking them to keep things secret might raise more questions than you’re willing to answer. Also… that means no awkward Sunday brunch with my boyfriend’s mother who may or may not have hired the Russian mob for me.”

“... that will be a fun story to tell our grandkids, though.”

Felicity’s heart stopped as a small grin spread on her lips. It was the first time that Oliver really talked about the future. And not the immediate future, but one that was still far, far away from them. It filled her heart with hope to know that he was slowly but surely getting there. Of course, this was obviously a little joke… but still. It was the first step.

She pressed a small kiss on his chest, her hand travelling north until she could scratch his neck and the base of his skull. His little moan of contentment resonated underneath her ear and feeling his body relax at the simple gesture warmed her up more than any blanket could do.

 

 

It was only when she woke up that she realized she had fallen asleep. The room was brighter, and it was probably the very first hours of the morning. Oliver was still asleep, his chest rising and falling slowly underneath her ear. Raising her head, she took him in, his face relaxed, mouth slightly ajar. His scruff was getting long, she noticed, her fingers slowly caressing it. It was softer now, and with his ruffled hair he looked… scrumptious. As if he had felt her gaze on him, he stirred, his eyes opening and immediately scanning the room. His body, so relaxed a minute earlier, tensed underneath her and instinctively she stroked his neck in reassurance.

Sighing, Oliver passed a hand over his face before mumbling, “good morning.”

“Good morning to you too,” Felicity smiled, kissing his lips softly. His voice was all throaty and low and… it did things to some parts of her body that were supposed to be on strike. Burying her face in his shoulder, she breathed him in, basking in his warmth as he tightened his arms around her. Unable to resist, she opened her mouth on the muscle between his neck and shoulder and suckled the flesh, biting into it. The taste of his skin was intoxicating, something she would probably never get tired of.

“Marking your territory?” Oliver chuckled as he lazily kneaded her backside.

“Yup,” she said before licking the small bite, smirking proudly at the angry red spot.

So, OK maybe it makes me look like a 14 year-old but I don’t care.

Straightening on her arms, she shifted until she was lying on her side between the back of the couch and Oliver, taking the blanket with her and leaving his naked chest on display. Her hand reached out before she even was aware of it, patting the firm muscles, tracing his abs with her nails and she gulped when she saw the way they rolled under his skin.

“Felicity…” Oliver whispered in a low warning tone as he slipped an arm underneath his head.

“Shhh… don’t move,” she replied, dipping her head until she could lick the nipple closest to her. He hissed when she delicately bit it, his chest arching into her mouth. She let her lips travel from one pec to the other, her tongue leaving a trail behind her. Oliver let out a small groan, his hand squeezing her ass tighter. Slipping a leg between his, she settled more comfortably, nibbling her way down his stomach. “I’ve been dreaming of licking those abs ever since I first saw you shirtless.”

Resting her weight against him, she noticed right away that he was hard.

Really hard.

And suddenly, licking his abs seemed like the perfect appetizer... before the main course.

Thanks to the pillows, Oliver could see her without any problem, his body at the perfect angle, one that would give her enough room to rest between his thighs despite the small space offered by her couch.

One by one, she trailed his abs, enjoying the way the muscles were tensing underneath her mouth, Oliver’s breathing getting shorter and more ragged with each stroke of her tongue, his erection cradled safely between her breasts, still protected by their layers of clothes.

His stomach was so firm that she couldn’t even bite his flesh properly, running her teeth along his skin instead.

When she reached his navel, she raised her eyes, seeing his were fixed on hers, his pupils so dilated they almost seemed black. She smiled innocently before peeking her tongue out, letting it travel down the happy trail that would lead her right where she wanted.

Oliver cleared his throat then, his stare shifting from her eyes to her tongue as he licked his lips.

“It seems like we are wide awake this morning,” she teased him, her hand covering the obvious tent in his sweatpants.

Oliver pushed his hips into her hand, his eyes closing for the briefest second before murmuring, “you don’t have to do that, you know.”

“But I want it very much,” she breathed as she slowly caressed the thick erection through the fabric. She pressed one last kiss right above the waistband then grabbed it with both hands, lowering until his length was free.

She grabbed the base of his cock, squeezing it tightly, just the way she knew he liked it then lowered her face, her tongue reaching out. She paused then, staring him in the eyes, seeing the hunger in them. She felt empowered, naughty and sensual, holding him at her mercy. “I’m going to make you come with my mouth,” she murmured, feeling a small blush creeping up on her cheeks. She had never said these kind of words before, but for some reason, with Oliver… she wanted to. Whenever he would talk to her like that, she would get unbelievably turned on and she wanted to do the same for him.

Her embarrassment was short lived though, because the effect her words had on Oliver made her confidence skyrocket.

“Fuck,” he hissed, his hips buckling, his hand already hovering near her hair. His breathing was even more labored, his eyes almost pleading with her to give him what he desperately craved.

Never breaking eye contact, she let her tongue tease his head, giving it a small lick before circling the sensitive crest underneath. Pursing her lips, she pressed them against the tip, slowly opening up until he could slide inside her mouth.

Moaning, she started to stroke him, up and down, her thumb rubbing along the thick vein as her tongue circled the head of his cock. Slowly, she took more of him in her mouth, getting used to his girth once more before bobbing her head up and down, letting his hard shaft glide between her lips.

She forced herself to focus on his pleasure, ignoring the sparks erupting in her lower belly, the way her hips were already rolling, mimicking her movements. Going down on Oliver always turned her on violently but she wanted to do this for him - and just for him. Give him pleasure, bring him to completion and expect nothing in return, just the joy of knowing she had been the one to please him.

Her jaw starting to hurt, she released him with a small pop before licking the whole length, making it glisten with her saliva, the friction now much smoother as she kept on caressing him rhythmically, her other hand now cupping his balls, making them roll in her palm.

She saw the way Oliver was squeezing his fist, resting it against his thigh, his other arm still underneath his head but the bicep bulging as if he was holding back from grabbing her.

Softly, she nudged the inside of his leg with her nose, her head bumping against his hand in encouragement. “It’s OK, Oliver,” she smiled, nodding when he hesitantly buried his hand in her hair. “Show me.”

He seemed to battle with himself then gently pushed her head forward and she obediently opened her mouth, letting him slide over her tongue once more. He sighed then, deeply, his fingers massaging her skull as she took as much of him as she could. He hit the back of her throat, making her gag and retreat in reaction. She took a hold of his cock, making sure her hand would prevent her from taking him too far, then lowered her mouth again, this time not stopping and quickly gaining a rhythm.

“Oh God,” Oliver moaned as she rubbed her tongue against the sensitive tip. She tasted the first beads of his pleasure on her tongue, that saltiness that let her know that he was approaching his release. She hummed when he tightened his fingers in her hair, guiding her head faster.

“Yes, Felicity… that’s it baby, I’m close,” he panted as she held him tighter in her hand, massaging the thick rod.

Oliver tensed suddenly, visibly holding his breath as he kept her head in place and pushed inside her mouth as far as her hand let him. A low groan escaped him just before the first spurt of his pleasure hit the back of her throat, forcing her to swallow while he spilled himself into her mouth.

He finally relaxed his fingers in her hair and she raised her head, her lips freeing him. He was breathing heavily, his eyes unfocused as she let go of his cock, letting it rest on his abdomen as it slowly softened. She pressed one last kiss on the tip, murmuring an apology at the small hiss Oliver made at the stimulation, then pulled the sweatpants back in their place before sliding up the couch to settle in his arms again.

Oliver kissed her forehead as she let her hand rest over his heart. “That was... fucking amazing. Best morning ever.”

She giggled then, secretly pleased with the praise. “See what happens when you spend the night with your girlfriend?”

“It does have its perks,” Oliver nodded with a smile. “Are you good?”

“... well I’m not as horny as the first time, which is a clear progress,” she snorted, still remembering how turned on she had been the first time she had gone down on him. It had ended with her not even taking the time to get completely rid of her pants before Oliver’s mouth was between her legs and about three and a half seconds later, she had come. Hard.

“We could take a shower together and-”

“Nope,” she shook her head. That wasn’t… no matter how aroused she was and yeah she wanted to have sex, she really wasn’t comfortable with period sex. Maybe one day, down the line. But now? No way.

“Raincheck?” Oliver sighed.

“You mean for the shower sex or the orgasm?”

“Both,” he grinned.

“Then OK, raincheck,” she nodded with a smile.

 

They were having breakfast after their -separate- showers when Oliver suddenly put down his fork. He had made some french toast, even though she knew he didn’t exactly have a sweet tooth himself.

“I think I should spend a couple of days at Tommy’s.”

She raised her eyebrows in surprise, finishing her mouthful. They had made up, that was for sure. And to be honest she didn’t want to spend so much time away from him. But… at the same time, he had a point.

“It might be a good idea,” she eventually nodded before taking a sip of coffee.

Oliver frowned as if he hadn’t expected her to agree which made her smile. Did he want her to resist?

“What, Oliver? Did you want me to start nagging you?” she couldn’t help but ask teasingly. “Have I ever been the clingy type of girlfriend?”

“Hum… no. If one is clingy it’s probably me, and we both know that. I just… well. Have you thought about this? Have I made you uncomfortable?”

“Silly. No. I love being with you and if I listened to myself I wouldn’t even go back to work and would spend my days in here with you. But it’s not right and it’s not healthy. We would end up fighting all the time and I know you need a bit of fresh air. Everything has happened so fast and it might be good to just take a step back. For the two of us, I mean. Also you just had this major fight with your mother, it makes sense for you to ask Tommy for shelter. Fewer questions asked.”

“I just… I feel like I’m getting a bit controlling. I know it, I can sense it and it’s mostly because…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “I don’t really know why to be honest.”

“It’s because the situation is becoming more stressful, Oliver. You fall back on your instincts and your instincts have taught you to act that way,” Felicity explained softly, her hand covering his. “I have my appointment at one, why don’t you go to the private agency during that time then maybe have lunch with Tommy and ask him? You’re also going to need more clothes, did you grab some before leaving the mansion?”

Oliver winced, shaking his head. “No. I’ll stop by the mansion with Dig when you’re back. Good thing that the Merlyns have great security too so my mom shouldn’t worry about that. Dig will take you to work and so on. I just… promise me you won’t go anywhere without him. Please, Felicity. I know you don’t like this but I’ll feel much better. Also, take your taser with you.”

“I will. Dig will drive me to work and come pick me up and…” she laughed, covering her mouth with her hand when she suddenly realized what that implied.

“What?” Oliver asked.

“He’s going to love taking me to my doctor appointment this afternoon,” she laughed, unable to hold back.

 

“... You want me to come with you?” Dig asked, raising his eyebrows. “... Inside?”

“Well… not inside the doctor’s office,” Felicity rolled her eyes as she unbuckled her seatbelt. “I don’t think any of us would ever recover from that. But Oliver has been very, very insistent. To be fair it’s mostly because I told him the parking lot was away from the building, though. Are you sure you can handle it? Because what Oliver doesn’t know can’t hurt him.”

“No… no. Technically he’s my boss so… if the boss wants me to go to the ob-gyn… I’m going to the ob-gyn,” Dig mumbled as he closed his door. “I can’t believe I just said that.”

Hiding her face behind her hair, Felicity bit back a smile. So, OK, Oliver hadn’t asked for anything. And OK teasing her friend really wasn’t very… friendly. But payback was a bitch, after all. She had forgiven his lies to cover for Oliver, but that didn’t mean she didn’t get to have a bit of fun...

“Wow. It’s very… pink,” Dig murmured as soon as they stepped out of the elevator and into the main entrance of her doctor’s office.

“And green,” Felicity added, pointing to the numerous potted plants before turning to the receptionist. “Hi, Felicity Smoak. I have an appointment with Doctor Sanders at one.”

“Doctor Sanders has been delayed, so you might have to wait a little,” the brunette answered her with a smile before waving her to the waiting room.

There were four other women in the room when they walked in, immediately attracting their attention. Dig cleared his throat as they both took a seat, his imposing stature completely out of place in the tiny room covered with posters about women’s healthcare.

“Do you want something to read?” Felicity asked him, picking up two magazines. “Hum… 'what to expect when you’re expecting' or 'how to conduct a breast self-exam'?”

Dig slowly turned his head around, glaring at her and she bit her lips, desperately trying to hold back her laughter.

“... OK, what to expect when you’re expecting, good choice,” she said as neutrally as she could, handing him the magazine. Which he ignored superbly.

“You know, if it’s your first child, there is nothing like reading as much as you can to prepare you,” one of the other patients told them kindly. “I know you feel like you have all the time in the world but you’re there quickly.”

Felicity coughed, bumping the magazine against his arm.

“But if you have questions, you can ask me. It’s my fifth,” the woman continued, patting her more than swollen belly. She looked at least seven months pregnant in Felicity’s opinion. Not that she had a lot of experience in the area but she clearly hoped that the poor woman was reaching the finish line.

“I… I think I’ll read first,” Dig answered, blindly reaching for the magazine.

“But if he has questions, I’m sure he won’t hesitate,” Felicity added with a smile. “Thank you.”

Dig opened the magazine, hiding his face behind it as he hissed, “what are you doing?!”

“I said I forgave you. Not that I wasn’t gonna get payback,” she hissed right back. “I’d read if I were you. She looks like the kind to make you pass a test afterwards.”

Dig huffed out a groan, then pointedly ignored her as he focused on the magazine. She saw the frown growing on his face as he turned it upside down. “What the…”

“That’s a uterus, Dig,” Felicity whispered, putting the magazine back in the right orientation.

“I know what a uterus looks like!”

“Really?” Felicity asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well… kind of. Don’t look at me like that, it’s not as if you know what a prostate looks like!”

“You mean the compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland the size of a walnut?"

Dig looked at her in disbelief. “How do you even...”

“I entertained the idea of becoming a urologist when I was sixteen. And the reason why it looks weird is because they show the diagram sideways,” Felicity explained, taking pity on him.

He frowned, following her finger as she showed the small rectangle with the usual sketch on the bottom of the page. “Oh. See. That is a uterus,” he grumbled. “If you change everything don’t be surprised if we, men, are lost.”

“On behalf of the female species and every gynecologist on the planet, I formally present you an apology.”

Dig snorted, lowering the magazine on his lap. “You’re having way too much fun with this, aren’t you?” he mumbled.

“Guilty as charged,” she grinned, bumping his shoulder.

“You know, I have to say it’s always sweet to see the future dad so involved right from the beginning,” the woman said as soon as she saw they had stopped their quiet banter, putting down her own reading.

“I… I am not…and she isn’t...”

“He’s a friend,” Felicity chimed in. “He didn’t want me to come alone.”

“Oooooh. That is so sweet,” another woman cooed, resting her hand on her heart. “My husband couldn’t come and… and…it’s so beautiful to see an honorable man,” she sniffled, rummaging through her purse. “I’m sorry. Hormones.”

“Miss Smoak?”

“Yes?” Felicity stood up, dropping the magazine she hadn’t even opened back on the table, turning her attention to the receptionist.

“Doctor Sanders will see you now.”

Dig looked at her with something that looked almost like panic as the weeping future mother started to ramble about puppies. He stood up, obviously ready to follow her anywhere that wouldn’t involve a room full of pregnant women.

“Hum, Dig,” she whispered as they walked out of the room.

“Yeah?”

“It’s either the room full of pregnant woman or my ob-gyn asking me about my sex life as well as a thorough talk concerning my periods.”

He froze then, his fingers reaching for his collar and she could have sworn she saw a small bead of sweat running down his temple.

“This is… I’m not paid enough for this, Felicity.”

“Take it to your boss,” she winked before patting his arm one last time and entering into her doctor’s office.

Vengeance was such a delicious meal.

 

As she suspected, her visit happened quickly. Her usual check-up had been done a couple of months earlier so apart from a few questions, all she needed was a prescription. She did hesitate deciding between the pill and an implant but her fear of needles sealed the deal. She could start taking it right away but her doctor had advised her to keep using condoms at least the first month. Her four packs would be put to good use.

She stopped by the receptionist afterwards, filing out a few insurance papers and taking care of her invoice. 

Walking towards the small waiting room, she stopped and hid behind the wall when she heard Dig’s uncomfortable voice.

“I… I really didn’t know that.”

“Yes! It’s nothing to be afraid of but often after giving birth women can also expel very, very big blood clots and it’s something no one tells you about. You should warn your friend, with baby number two I once had one the size of a tennis ball, I thought I was going to… are you alright, Mister Diggle? You look a bit… lightheaded.”

Felicity snorted, muffling the sound against her closed fist as Dig’s weak voice reached her. “I… I’m fine. I just… really didn’t know… or need… to know that… I think.”

So, Dig had made new friends. Leaning against the wall, she peeked around it, grinning when she saw him sitting on a chair that looked way too small for him, two other women having joined the small group. She honestly didn't think she had ever seen him that uncomfortable and... an uncomfortable John Diggle was quite the sight.

Another patient giggled, adding, “They kinda warn you about the period that goes on and on and on but not about the ickiest parts.”

“... on and on?”

“Yes. Weeks. It’s a nightmare. It’s like your body is punishing you for your crazy libido the last months by making sure sex is off the table for a while. And once everything is finally back to normal, there is often the issue of lubrication but just buy some lube and it will be fine.”

“That’s… that’s good to know. I... I guess.”

Judging he had suffered enough, Felicity walked into the room, unable to wipe off the grin from her face. “John… we can-”

She didn’t have the time to finish her sentence that he was jumping out of his seat, mumbling a goodbye and rushing through the door, Felicity following him.

As they were waiting by the elevator, Dig’s eyes stubbornly ahead of him, she asked, “well… I saw you made some friends?”

“We’re not talking about this.”

“I mean… I heard that it was very instructive.”

“I’m dropping you back off to your boyfriend and then I’m getting a scotch,” he huffed as they walked inside the elevator. "I can't believe you made me go through that."

"Through what? It's natural, Dig," Felicity grinned. "I would have never thought you'd be that kind of guy, you know."

"What do you mean, 'that kind of guy'?"

"The ones who get all squeamish and feel uncomfortable talking about girl stuff."

"I am not squeamish! You have no idea what those ladies told me, Felicity. No idea! And I said we weren't talking about it."

They were seated in the car, already buckled up when Dig shuddered. “Tennis balls, Felicity. Blood clots the size of tennis balls. Did you know that after birth women could expel-”

“Blood clots the size of tennis balls? Well I sure do, now.”

“And doctors actually use their hands to check how dilated you are. Like… they just… with their hand, Felicity!”

“How dilated you are?” she deadpanned, looking at him above the rim of her glasses. “Is there something you wish to tell me, John?”

“You know what I mean, it’s just a figure of speech,” he brushed her off before starting the car. “Annie was-”

“Annie?”

“The one who was expecting her fifth child? Her name is Annie. She told me that sometimes the epidural doesn’t work. I had no idea. You have to go through that huge needle inserted in your back and sometimes it has no effect. That’s… that’s not fair.”

Felicity quickly ignored the mention of the huge needle, focusing on the way Dig was gripping the wheel. “Well… yes. I mean, I think it’s an exception really. But I thought you didn’t want to talk about it?”

“I need to process, alright? That was some very disturbing information I just got. And if I had to suffer through it, so will you.”

“I’m sorry. Process all you want. I’m all ears.”


Oliver was sitting at the dining room table in front of her laptop, a mug of coffee beside him when she opened the door. She was surprised to see him back already, since he was supposed to go to the private agency. She got rid of her coat and purse then went to drop a small kiss on his lips.

“Already back?” she asked, her hands resting on his shoulders.

“Yeah… they told me the same thing my mom told me. Most of their investigation got lost in a fire. All I have is this,” Oliver said, raising a thick file. “It’s a copy of the police investigation, which I believe you already found yourself. If you could check it later though, just in case…?”

“Mmmh…” Felicity mumbled, frowning.

“Everything alright? With the doctor, I mean?” Oliver asked, concern clear in his voice.

She smiled as she took a sip of his coffee. “Yup. One more month of condoms to be safe since I started the pill a couple of days late and then we’re good to go. Although I think I'll probably never give birth."

"What?" Oliver asked, paling, his eyes dropping to her stomach. "Is there something wrong?!"

Felicity huffed out a laugh, waving dismissively. "No. Sorry that's not what I meant. Dig had a free class about pregnancy and birth and he felt like sharing with me. Long story short, we both decided we wouldn't have children. I mean... separately. We already knew we wouldn't have children together."

"Do I want to know?" he asked cautiously, relief obvious on his face.

"... believe me, no you don't," she shuddered. Tennis balls. Yikes. Shaking her head, she added, "I told Dig you’d call him when you’d have to go to the mansion. But… isn’t it weird, in this day and age that they don’t have digital copies of their files?”

“I wondered too… I’m more and more suspicious of these people. They were too… nice. But I just honestly don’t really know how we could prove anything.”

Felicity bit her lip, knowing they had no evidence whatsoever apart from their gut feeling. After all, maybe they had told the truth indeed. But still. If there was a way for them to find out more, they’d have to do it. How? She had no idea. At least for now. But she agreed with Oliver, she had had a weird feeling about that agency when she had visited them herself, months earlier.

“Did they tell you about the Gambit, if they stored it somewhere?”

“That’s another weird thing. Apparently it was also destroyed.”

“... There was another fire?” Felicity asked, her eyebrows reaching her hairline.

“It was the same building apparently. It’s fishy, right?”

“Yeah… clearly.”

“Everything they told me confirms what my mom said though. She told me that as soon as she found out the Gambit was missing, she hired the agency. The Chinese coast guard was already working on the case and had collected several objects confirming the boat had sunk. Unfortunately the sea had been choppy and it was hard to determine where exactly they could find it. The private agency took over once it was obvious they didn’t seem to care much. They found the boat. My mom was suspicious and several things happened at the same time. They found evidence that something criminal had been done but then they received the order to stop, as well as a nice bonus. Mom told me that she had been approached, still by a messenger, telling her this was just a way to make sure she knew it was in her best interest to keep her mouth shut and keep on living her life if she didn’t want to bury another child.”

“And the agency didn’t wonder about why she asked them to stop all of a sudden?”

“Apparently not. I think the million dollars they got as bonus probably convinced them it was for the best though. They understood they needed to stay quiet. Still though… I wonder if they didn’t find more but never told anyone.”

“That is very possible…” Felicity mumbled, her brain processing all the new information. She didn’t believe in coincidence and every bit of evidence being burnt had probably been done on purpose. Or they were lying and still covering the someone's tracks. She didn’t believe it was for Moira, but maybe someone else was pulling the strings.

“Also, I just hung up with Tommy,” Oliver said interrupting her thoughts. “I’ll go there Thursday morning and he offered to come with me to the Backstones on Friday. I should be back Saturday morning or in the afternoon at the latest.”

“Good. I hope that reception will give us some kind of lead. So far, none of my searches has given us any information concerning our list.”

“We’ll get there. I know we’ll get there. Don’t do anything reckless while I’m gone, though.”

Felicity pouted as he grabbed her hand, pulling her onto his lap. “Three days without your cuddles.”

“I can still change plans,” he whispered in her ear before pressing a soft kiss on the lobe.

“No. We talked about this. It’s good. Aren’t you going to be bored here tomorrow though? I’ll try to be back as soon as I can and pack more hours for the end of the week but you’re still gonna be alone for most of the day.”

“Well… I thought I might cook something for you,” he shrugged and she noticed the tips of his ears reddening.

“... you mean like a dinner, dinner?”

“Yes. Nothing fancy but I found a recipe that seems pretty easy.”

“You found… Oliver Queen, are you haunting allrecipes.com during your freetime?” she grinned, turning around to face the laptop. As she had thought, it was open on a recipe for some kind of chicken. She didn’t have the time to read exactly what it was because Oliver shut the laptop abruptly.

“Hey. I want to surprise you, OK?”

Felicity grinned, stroking the back of his neck. "You're all kinds of romantic, you know?"

"I've never been accused of that before, I have to admit," Oliver answered sheepishly.

"Then I like it even more," she whispered before leaning in and brushing her lips against his.

 

After a very enjoyable make-out session, Oliver eventually left with Dig, giving Felicity the perfect excuse to do some housekeeping as well as get ahead of work and make sure she wouldn’t have too much to catch up on the next day. Oliver had already looked through the police investigation, but she still took a good look as well. It was translated from Chinese and seemed very basic, which didn’t surprise her. She found nothing more and it was with a big sigh that she closed the file.

She wasn’t exactly looking forward to these days away from Oliver but she knew she had to take it upon herself too. There was a part of her wanting to spend every single minute of the rest of her existence with him, that very same part of her that remembered way too well how lonely the last three years had been. But for their own good and the sake of their relationship, they both needed to move past that. And those few days apart would be good for them.

Yup.

Totally good, she repeated to herself as she snuggled into his hoodie while waiting for him.

Absolutely fine, she said when he left on Thursday morning.

Peachy, was what she said out loud after hanging up with him on Friday night. After all she’d see him on Saturday night at the latest and they’d get a crazy night of sex and hopefully at least three or four orgasms for her. Maybe even five, depending on Oliver’s stamina because she honestly felt ready for a marathon of sex herself. And she knew that the dress she had picked especially for the gala would be enough to bring him to his knees.

Little did she know her night was definitely not going to turn out the way she had thought...

 

 

Chapter Text

"Something About The Way You Look Tonight"

 

 

There was a time
I was everything and nothing all in one
When you found me
I was feeling like a cloud across the sun

I need to tell you
How you light up every second of the day
But in the moonlight
You just shine like a beacon on the bay

And I can't explain
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
It's that feeling I get about you, deep inside
And I can't describe
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
The way you look tonight

With a smile
You pull the deepest secrets from my heart
In all honesty
I'm speechless and I don't know where to start

 

 

 

“You know what I hate about galas?”

“No, Tommy,” Oliver sighed as he took a sip of champagne. “But I’m sure I’m about to find out.”

“All these gorgeous ladies… wearing long, impractical dresses. So many wasted opportunities.”

“That’s because you’ve never been inventive,” Oliver couldn’t help but smirk.

“I am very… very inventive. I even invented a new sex position, remember?”

“The girl ended up in a hospital, you broke the sink, caused a flood in Raisa’s kitchen and she spanked your naked ass with her rolling pin. It’s pretty hard to forget.”

“... I had such great plans for that rolling pin,” Tommy said dreamily, gazing into emptiness.

“Let’s be thankful she threw it away then. And remind me to never eat pastry at your place.” 

“Don’t worry. I’ll hire a real pastry chef for your wedding cake.”

Oliver rolled his eyes. “For God’s sake, Tommy…”

“I know. I know. You’re single. You and Felicity aren’t a thing anymore. I’ve heard it the last 97 times you told me.”

“And here I was hoping 98 would cut it…”

“Sorry, I’m just… wondering. You know she was invited here tonight, what if she came with a date, are you gonna be fine with that?”

“She’s not-” Oliver started, before stopping himself. “Felicity has every right to come with a plus one. And we’re both adults.”

“So… you wouldn’t be mad? Or jealous? Or mopey?”

“No, Tommy. I wouldn’t.”

“So if I want to offer her a drink, no biggie?

“No biggie, Tommy.”

“And if I ask her for a dance?”

Oliver shook his head. “You’re not gonna do that.”

“I could.”

“But you won’t.”

“And why? She is smart, funny, drop dead gorgeous in that red dress, and I’m pretty sure you’d rather she dances with me than with the dozen creepy dudes drooling over her right now,” Tommy explained innocently, his eyes fixing a point over Oliver’s shoulder. “Damn, man. You’re the stupidest dude on the face of the earth, you know that?”

Oliver forced himself to stay still instead of turning around instantly like he was dying to. He glared at Tommy, then discreetly shifted on his feet until he could glance behind him.

His hand stiffened on his glass of champagne when he saw her.

She was impossible to miss. Even if his eyes weren’t automatically attracted to her, he would have seen her right away. 

I can’t believe I was relieved she wasn’t going to wear the gold dress…

She was wearing a gorgeous, floor-length red dress that was catching every single light in the room, clinging to her figure, then widening at the knees. There was no cleavage, nothing showing apart from her slender neck and shoulders and her naked arms. Her hair was tied in a simple, elegant low bun.

“Hum… we’re in public, Ollie. And I… I think you’re drooling a bit,” Tommy said in a low voice. “Please tell me you don’t have a boner, I have nothing to hide it apart from that ficus.“

“I… I don’t,” Oliver breathed, clearing his throat, still staring at her. No boner at the moment, but he knew that as soon as they’d get back to her place he was going to ravish her. All damn night. He was going to drop to his knees, peel off that dress and worship her body until he had nothing more to give. His girl would be screaming his name tonight.

“She’s… Jesus Christ, Ollie. I still remember the first time I met her. A nervous little thing and… look at her now. A beautiful, strong woman ready to take over the world. Or a lover.”

“Shut up.”

“I’m just saying, dude,” Tommy said, raising his hand in defense. “You gotta be prepared for that. She’s waited for you for three years, if you give her the cold shoulder… she’s not gonna moon over you. Oh, look, someone’s already asking her for a dance!”

Oliver gritted his teeth, his grip on his glass tightening even more when he saw her smiling at a man who was about his age before accepting his hand and following him to the dance floor.

It’s just a dance. This is a gala. With music. People dance. It’s… just a dance… with a man who’s going to put his hands on her. While you’re stuck here, listening to your best friend rambling about… a ficus?

“No seriously, do you need the ficus?” Tommy asked him, already moving the potted plant closer to them.

“Why would I…” Oliver frowned. “Tommy, I don’t need to hide behind a ficus.”

“It’s not for you.”

“What?” Oliver growled. If Tommy even dared to have those kind of thoughts about Felicity…

He didn’t even notice the glass breaking in his hand.

“Wow, jeez. Relax man, I was joking. Did you… is that glass broken?!”

“Yeah,” Oliver said, looking around before pouring the rest of his champagne into the innocent plant. “There was a small crack, I should have been more careful.” 

Tommy looked at him warily before handing him a napkin. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m fine, Tommy. I just wish people would stop nagging me about Felicity.”

“And at the same time, you don’t like me seeing her as a woman, right? Makes sense.”

Oliver slowly exhaled, patting the small cut on his palm. It wasn’t deep at all and would probably stop bleeding within a few minutes.

“You know, Ollie, I’m not dumb. I know you. You have changed, hell yeah… but I know my best friend. And my best friend right now is full of shit. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but you’re not happy and it looks like you don’t even care.”

“It’s much more complicated than that,” Oliver hissed, throwing a few looks around to make sure no one was listening. “I have anger issues. I do things when I sleep that I have no control over. I don’t trust myself around people anymore, Tommy.”

“Come on dude. You’re fine. Maybe a little too harsh on champagne glasses, but nothing you can’t work on. You can be discreet too if you’re uncomfortable in the public eye. Just… do something. Like literally, anything. I’m even down for a new poem if that’s what it takes.”

Oliver huffed out a laugh, relieved to see the tone was back to teasing. “Yeah… no more poems for me.” 

“You’re right. I don’t think we could outdo ourselves,” Tommy grinned, raising his glass before gulping the rest of it and putting it down on the table, next to what was left of Oliver’s.

 

They were soon interrupted by Moira and Alfred, the head of the board of Queen Consolidated. They talked about the gala, which was a tradition that had been established by Moira and Rebecca - Tommy’s late mother - ever since the cooperation between the two companies had started. A way to make sure the bonds would remain strong and to also have investors of both entreprises meet and mingle.

“So you still don’t want to get back on the train, Oliver?” Alfred asked him.

Oliver shook his head curtly. “I’m afraid not. I don’t think the business world is in my priorities at the moment. I’d like to catch up on life first.”

“Understandable. I just know your father would have wanted you to come back eventually. I was close friends with Robert… I know he died unexpectedly but I’m sure you talked to him about it, right?”

“Several times,” Oliver nodded. “But he is gone now and I’m not sure I’d be an asset for the company he built.”

“We would help you. Just think about it, we could use you here,” Alfred said, patting his arm. “Life can turn pretty boring real fast. What are you up to these days?”

“Nothing much… catching up on pop culture. Trying to get familiar again with my city,” Oliver explained, his eyes catching Felicity as she was talking with a couple of QC employees. She had a glass in her hand, and her smile was shining so bright he had a hard time forcing himself to focus on the people who were actually talking to him.

“Well as you know, there isn’t much in Starling anymore. The golden age seems to be far gone.”

“Judging by the amount of people at this gala, I tend to disagree,” Oliver said calmly, tilting his head. “They sure don’t seem to be suffering.”

“Well… of course not. But you know the markets aren’t easy. We have more and more troubles with unions and the criminality is through the roof.”

“Maybe criminality would be less if people could live comfortably?”

“Oh, Oliver, you know how things go in the Glades. Previous generations were reasonable but now… things are getting out of hand. Many companies are relocating to avoid the bad neighborhoods. We have to protect our employees even if yes, that means some innocent people might lose their jobs. It’s terrible but… that’s what we have to do. Assume our responsibilities.”

“Now, now… Alfred, there is no need to annoy Oliver with this,” Walter laughed as he joined them along with Malcolm Merlyn. “You’re going to ruin any chance of him coming back to work.” 

“I think you’re right, Oliver. You need to enjoy life for a little while,” Malcolm said in greeting. “After those awful three years I think people should cut you some slack. Don’t you agree, Moira?”

Oliver noticed the way her mother stiffened but the small annoyed glance she threw at Malcolm told him it was probably a conversation they already had before. 

“Like I’ve already told Malcolm several times… my dearest wish is for my son to get his life back. This,” she said, her arm circling the room, “is also a part of his life. Something his father created. But yes, now I do understand that it has to come from him. I will be there to help him and guide him whenever he wants to come back.”

The conversation finally deviated from Oliver, for which he was very grateful since it allowed him to sneak glances towards the direction of a certain blonde. Felicity met his eyes suddenly, and her small, discreet smile warmed him up. She was so beautiful, so graceful so… so accepting yet another dance with some douchebag with a playmobil haircut. It was probably all those years spent at similar events that allowed him to keep making small talk while all his attention was focused on her. He could barely see her now, with all the people between them but just catching a glimpse of her every now and then was making it hard for him to focus on anything else.

 

He eventually managed to excuse himself when she abandoned the man on the dance floor, unable to take it any longer. He stopped when he saw she was heading towards Denis Lewis, remembering at the last moment that it was his idea to pretend they weren’t together. 

Stupid, stupid idea.

He kept watching her, discreetly, not fooling Dig in the slightest judging by how his impartial expression was turning more and more amused by the minute.

He was in the middle of a conversation with the Police Captain - Rupert Colt, one of the people on their list - about his father when his phone suddenly buzzed in his pocket. He knew only Felicity would try to reach him and he quickly glanced at it while Rupert was raiding the platter of crab cakes.

Felicity 8:56 PM - Not very discreet, Mister Queen.

He frowned, quickly glancing around him but couldn’t see her.

Where are you?

Felicity 8:56PM - Ladies room. Don’t take that for an invitation though! But you really need to work a little more on your self-control ;)

I’ll show you self-control later. What kind of dress from hell is that?

Felicity 8:57PM - You approve?

Only if I get to be the one taking it off.

Felicity 8:57PM - I’ll hold you onto that xxx

XXX? Is that a hint for tonight?

Felicity 8:57PM - Oliver! I am so not sexting with you in the middle of a gala!

You mean you wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t a gala?

Felicity 8:58PM - I am so not answering that. Get back to your snooping around. Sooner we’re done, sooner we can head back home.

I am going to rock your world tonight. Mark my words. 

She didn’t reply and he put his phone back in his pocket, muttering a quick apology.

“No problem, son. Is that a lovely young lady?”

“No… Just Thea, my sister,” Oliver smiled.

“Ah, yes. I remember her at your father’s funeral. Such a sweet girl. I heard she was a bit of a handful for a while but fortunately she seems to have calmed down, hasn’t she?”

“She just didn’t know what to do with her life. I think we’ve all been there at some point, haven’t we?” Oliver chuckled, knowing very well how much wilder he had been in his youth and that Thea had been far from reaching that point. Felicity had stepped in in time. “Do you have any children yourself?”

“Yes. Two boys but they’re already settled down. First grandchild on its way!”

“Congratulations! Where do they live?”

“One is in Central City, the other in a small town half an hour away from here.”

“They didn’t stay here?”

“No… the city isn’t safe for young families like them.”

Oliver nodded, pondering his words. How weird was it for a police captain to admit that so openly?

“I know. I wish we could do something about it but… it feels like we’re pretty powerless, unfortunately. Especially when you’re back from three years on a deserted island,” Oliver smiled with a little shrug.

“Oh yes. Your father too was really concerned. He wanted the best for you and your sister. At the end of the day, that’s all we, parents, want. I’m sure if you asked your mother she could tell you how to help us.”

“Us?” 

“Well… yes. the city, I mean,” Rupert grinned, keeping his eyes on Oliver’s. A bit longer than necessary, he noticed. And without blinking. He eventually averted his eyes, adding, “if you need anything, don’t hesitate. I’ll gladly offer advice.”

“Well now that you mention it,” Oliver started, knowing he had to take advantage of the occasion.

“Yes?”

“Have you ever found anything else concerning the gas explosion in our factory?”

Rupert automatically leaned back, surprise clear on his face. “The one from almost four years ago?”

“I don’t think there has ever been another one… but yes, the one that happened just before my father passed away.”

“Hum… no. Not that I know of. It was such a terrible accident.”

“No,” Oliver denied, tilting his head. “It was arson. I’m surprised you don’t remember it, it’s not like this kind of incident happens regularly… unless I’ve been away for longer than I thought?” he added with a small huff.

“Well yes, it was arson but we never found the culprits. Probably an employee holding a grudge?”

“Could it be because of how my father had plans to close that factory? Have you actually looked in that direction?” Oliver asked innocently, his eyes once again attracted to Felicity who was now talking to Dig.

“Well of course we have. It was the most obvious theory but it led nowhere. I can promise you everything was done to find whoever caused this traumatic accident.”

“Arson.”

“Yes. Arson. I’m sorry I still have a hard time accepting someone could do this on purpose.”

“... same, actually,” Oliver said smoothly. “I just hope whoever caused this will get what they deserve, one way or another.” Grabbing two glasses of champagne, he handed one to the police captain. “To justice?”

“Yes. To justice,” Rupert nodded before taking a long gulp.

“Anyway, thank you, Rupert. If you ever find anything else… I know it’s been a while but who knows… you will let us know, right? I’m sure my father would have wanted to find out what really happened.”

“Of course, Oliver. I should go back to my wife, now. I’m not sure she will be pleased with all the crab cakes I had.” 

“Go. You are lucky to still have each other. A lot of people here can’t say the same anymore. It would be a shame to waste that. Give Ellen my best regards.”

Oliver watched him retreat through the crowd, his brain already processing everything.

First of all, his conversation had confirmed that the police captain at least knew something. His behavior had been strange, his choice of words even weirder. Of course it could be because the man had poor social skills or had a bit too much alcohol.

But… no one knew his father was planning to close the factory. Oliver himself didn’t know. He had just thrown that out, remembering his father’s letter and making a wild guess. And the captain had taken the bait. So either he had lied about how the investigation had gone. Or he, for some reason, had been aware of all those business decisions that had been made in secrecy. Either way… the man was involved.

 

He was putting his glass down, having only taken a small sip, when Tommy approached him, apparently giving a tour to two of the oldest widows of Starling City’s elite. They were barely paying attention to him, obviously more focused on the platter of food that the captain had abandoned. 

“Oliver Queen… as charming as I remember him,” one of them said nonetheless, pinching his cheeks.

“Mrs Rutherford,” Oliver smiled. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Likewise, young man, likewise.”

Tommy leaned in, whispering in his ear, “this is the perfect plan. Just keep them stocked up with food, they entertain themselves and it looks like we’re in company so no one will annoy us.”

Oliver frowned, glancing at his best friend who was waving at a waiter, mimicking some movements he assumed meant that he wanted more finger food. Once again, he automatically searched for Felicity, locking his jaw when a man kissed her hand. Damn. He hated this. He hated that all these men had been able to touch her while he was there, stuck with Tommy and his two cougars. He wanted to be with her. He wanted to be able to rest his hand on her hip, and lean in to kiss her cheek, see if he could still make her blush with the simple gesture. Then, they’d get back home and he’d make her blush even more.

“Since when do you prefer this kind of company?” Oliver eventually murmured back.

“I don’t. You do. You said you weren’t comfortable with people and I’ve noticed you’re getting grumpier and grumpier.”

“That is… very touching,” Oliver chuckled. 

“I can’t believe how it must look. We used to be the quarterbacks of receptions, Ollie. Now we’re on the bench, in charge of the gatorade.” 

“Are you calling our charming companions ‘gatorade’?”

“Those little amuse-bouches are delicious, why don’t you try them, young men?” Mrs Rutherford’s friend, Mrs Caine interrupted them as she patted a napkin on the corner of her lips.

“I’m afraid I already had a bit too much.”

“Nonsense! Lucinda, did you hear him?”

Oliver was about to answer when Tommy suddenly let out a very unusual small high-pitched noise. Snapping his head, he saw his best friend pressing his closed fist against his mouth, his eyes almost watering as he whimpered again, almost as if he was in pain.

“Tommy? Are you OK?”

Tommy violently shook his head then took a few deep breaths. “Oh… my… fucking...”

“Young man!” Mrs Caine gasped, hitting him with her purse before he could finish his sentence. “That is not how you talk in front of ladies!”

“I… I’m sorry, Mrs Caine,” Tommy muttered sheepishly as she turned around and grabbed her friend, walking away from them with one last furious glance.

“Dude, what’s…”

“I’ve never seen anything like it, Ollie. Never. It’s… it’s just there and it’s so beautiful I feel like crying.” 

“You’re gonna have to help me here.”

“Felicity. Her dress. Her dress!”

“Yes, we saw her already.” And I’ve been staring at her every time I could.

“No. We didn’t see it, Oliver. We didn’t see anything. We never saw anything in our entire existence that could have prepared us for this. Actually I think I have been blind all my life because it feels like I have just seen the sun for the first time. Normally I would say the moon but you would probably punch me so I won’t.”

“What the…”

“The back, Oliver. The back of her dress!” Tommy moaned, his head dropping. “I… I don’t even dare to look at it. I’m not worthy…. I’m not worthy, man. I feel like I need to go kill a goat and drop it at her feet or something and then maybe I will be allowed to enjoy the beauty.”

Oliver furrowed his brow, his eyes searching the crowd until he finally saw her, on a small mezzanine, slightly above the rest of the guests. Her back facing them. Her naked back. The dress was clinging to her curves, the red of the fabric such a stark contrast with her creamy skin that it was impossible not to stare. At least for him. Her round, perky, absolutely perfect ass was wrapped in the most devilish dress he had ever seen her in - and yes that included that gold dress that had made him swallow his tongue. His hands were itching, literally itching to caress her spine and cover the firm globes of flesh, squeezing them through the fabric of her dress. He would press himself against her, his hands slowly hitching the dress up her legs until he could slip his finger underneath and he would be so hard for her, so ready to make her feel good, his lips on her neck, marking her, letting every single man know that she had someone in her life, someone who was treating her the way a woman like her deserved to be treated. Like a goddess. He couldn’t even hear anything anymore, all his senses focused on her, his mind coming up with the dozen ways he was going to take her tonight, promising himself he wouldn’t stop until she had her four orgasms in one intercourse. She deserved her four orgasms. He would kiss, and lick, and bite every inch of her body until all was left of her would be a quivering mess.

Closing his eyes, he took a few deep breaths, slowly regaining control of his body.

Where is that bloody ficus when you need it?

Eventually, he came back to his senses when Tommy grabbed his arm.

“I understand now. I understand, Ollie. When Sir Isaac Newton saw the apple falling… I know now. I feel the same way. Like.. everything makes sense. And it’s just… so beautiful. Look at it. It’s… it’s there, innocent but it could change the world. I already feel a better man now that I’ve seen it. I can die in peace.”

“Stop looking at it,” Oliver growled, partly because seeing his best friend ogling Felicity was rubbing him the wrong way and partly because damn, yes he was jealous. He wanted to ogle it too but he also knew it would only end up with him sporting a massive hard-on and probably strutting across the room and throwing her over his shoulder.

“I can’t,” Tommy whined. “It’s… it’s like asking a cat to stop purring. Like Isaac Newton said, Ollie... It’s the most perfect ass to ever ass.” 

“I… I’m pretty sure Isaac Newton didn’t say that.”

“I know,” Tommy sighed. “I know. But if he was here right now, with us... He would say it, Ollie. He would say it.”

Oliver glanced at him while loosening his bowtie.

“Please, tell me you’re gonna do something. Anything. You can’t let her walk away from you even though the sight would be heaven on earth,” Tommy continued, shaking Oliver’s arm. “She looks like a deity, you have to do something, Ollie, I don’t know, maybe bring her some food or kill a goat.”

“What is it with your goat sacrifices?”

“I… I don’t know. But you’re right, maybe she’ll prefer gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

“That… that’s what the Three Kings brought to baby Jesus.”

“Well I’m sorry my brain is a little short circuited at the moment.”

“Oliver?” Dig’s calm voice interrupted them. Oliver turned around, noticing Tommy was still glued to his spot, holding his arms protectively on his chest, his hand covering his mouth as he slowly shook his head, still mesmerized.

Oliver saw right away the amusement in Dig’s eyes but he just glared at him.

Dig leaned in, his mouth twitching. “Felicity said you were to meet her in five minutes at the employee's entrance on the south side.”

“... what?”

Maybe she can’t wait either. Maybe we can take the edge off in a small room or… limo. Oh yeah… limo sex...

“She wants to access the servers, remember?” Dig continued, oblivious to where his thoughts had travelled.

Oliver gaped, trying to make sense of his words. She had been serious?!

“Of course she was serious,” Dig answered before he could even ask. “Go tell your mom you just need a bit of fresh air. I’m going to clear the path for you from the surveillance room. Don’t worry, Felicity has a badge.”

Mumbling an apology to Tommy, he quickly cut through the crowd, Dig in tow. With one last glance, he left him inside the reception room, cutting through deserted hallways. In less than one minute, he was outside, pacing.

  

The sound of high heels reached him a couple minutes later and it was with a deep frown that he welcomed her.

“Felicity, I can’t believe you think this is really a good idea. Tell me what to do and go back inside,” he hissed as soon as she was a few steps away from him, forbidding himself to let his eyes wander across her body.

And failing miserably. Damn.

She paused, raising her eyebrows. “Why, hello, Oliver, I’m so happy to see you too. Yes, I’ve missed you a lot during the last three days and just like you, I can’t wait to be done here so we can head home.”

Pinching his lips, Oliver exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry, babe, but people are bound to notice-”

“Oh come on, no one is going to pay attention to the fact that I left.”

Oliver’s eyes widened at her words. “Every single man in there is going to notice you’re gone!”

“Even so? I’ll just head back home right afterwards. I’ll wait in the limo, you go get Dig and voilà. Tinted windows, Oliver,” she added, patting his cheek before fishing her cellphone from her purse. “Dig should open the door for us soon.”

Oliver was about to argue, that it was a terrible idea, when the door suddenly opened with a click and Felicity barged in, not looking back. He had no choice but to follow her, thinking that their night together would probably start with a good spanking. 

The hallway was dimly lit, but it still was enough for him to see the swing of her hips as she walked, the way the dress was hugging her perfect figure and that view alone was enough to make him hurry behind her.

They made it to Moira’s office in record time. Felicity didn’t waste any time, already starting up the computer while Oliver was standing by the door, making sure that no one disturbed them. 

“It shouldn’t take long,” Felicity said, fishing out a few USB sticks from her purse. “It’s kinda exciting, isn’t it?”

“Fe-li-ci-ty.”

“Ugh. Just saying, Oliver. You’re super grumpy today, what has gotten into you?”

“I didn’t want you to do this.”

“Well I’m doing it anyway, consider that a good lesson. You’re not the boss of me, Oliver Queen. Well, not anymore. Although let’s be real even if you were still, it probably wouldn’t change anything. Oh, look at that picture,” she cooed, holding up a frame with Oliver and Thea. “You were so cute with that Santa Claus hat!”

Oliver rolled his eyes. “Could you please focus?”

“I am very focused, Oliver,” she answered, her fingers typing at the speed of light. “This security is a joke, hon’. You should talk to your mom about it.”

“Before or after I tell her my girlfriend hacked her company?”

“... I don’t think that’s vital information.”

“You sure about that? I’m sure she would love to know,” Oliver couldn’t help but tease her.

“Last time she found out I was snooping around, she put a contract out on my head, Oliver,” Felicity deadpanned, barely glancing at him.

He winced then, understanding it was probably better to not dwell on that. Letting her work her magic, he turned his back on her, looking through the window that was separating his mother’s and her secretary’s offices. Luckily, there were louvered shutters which would protect them from sight if anyone was to venture near them.

“Did you find out anything suspicious?” she eventually asked after a few minutes.

“... I think so. Nothing big, just a few suspicions confirmed. The police captain, for sure.”

“Oh, interesting.”

“Are you almost… what’s that noise?” Oliver asked, frowning. There was a buzzing sound coming from his mother’s desk and-

“Dig. Someone’s coming our way,” Felicity answered curtly. “ Just a minute, I’m almost done.” 

“What?!” Oliver hissed, stepping away from the door and grabbing Felicity by the arm. “We have to go.”

“No, Oliver I’m almost done! Just… hold on.” She shrugged out of his grip, her fingers dancing on the keyboard.

Oliver ruffled his hair nervously then went back by the door, glancing through the louvered shutters.

“Felicity…”

“Shhh... alright, done!” She fist pumped before grabbing the USB stick and shutting the computer. By the time she was near him, he had seen the door leading to his mother’s secretary's office opening. Wordlessly, he grabbed her elbow and led her to the bathroom on the other side of the room.

“Wha-” Felicity whispered, stopping herself when he shook his head. He shoved her inside the small room, closing the door behind them, and pressed a finger against her lips. Soon, the light coming from her cell phone died and they found themselves in complete darkness. Automatically, his arms reached for her, pulling her close to him, his hands resting on the small of her back. After a small moment, they eventually heard muffled voices, one female and one male. Oliver thought he recognized his mother but he wasn’t completely sure. One thing he knew though was that they were literally trapped, with no way out. If Moira or her visitor wanted to open that door they’d be found.

His thumb stroking Felicity’s spine, he pondered the possibilities. He could walk out, alone, before they got caught. Or they could risk it and stay inside.

The choice was taken out of his hands when a small object fell from Felicity’s purse, the sound resonating in the room. They both froze, Oliver listening carefully. The voices on the other side of the door dropped abruptly. Softly but firmly, he pushed Felicity back until she was against the wall, then switched on the light and opened the door, making sure she was out of sight.

“Mom,” he said in fake surprise.

“Oliver! You scared the hell out of me! I was about to call security,” Moira said, with a hand on her chest. He saw Walter by her desk, reaching out for the phone. “What are you doing here?”

Oliver grimaced, his hand covering his stomach. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t feeling very well and just wanted a bit of quiet. It’s the only place I could think of.”

“Are you alright? You look a little flushed,” his mother asked while pressing a palm on his forehead.

“Yeah I think… I’m not used to alcohol anymore and I didn’t eat much before… I was a bit nervous,” he huffed out in a small, embarrassed laugh. “I’m sorry, mom, I should have asked you. I was about to go out but I felt dizzy and figured you wouldn’t mind if I used your office to lie down.”

“No. Of course not. Do you need something? Some water? Let me get some for you,” Moira said, trying to step around him and head to the bathroom.

“No. Please… I just got ill… it’s… don’t go in there.”

“Let me get you some sparkling water, son,” Walter said before leaving the room.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” his mother insisted with obvious concern, cradling his face.

“I think I got a bit overwhelmed… two glasses of champagne did the rest. All those people… it’s… it’s not…” Oliver trailed off, his eyes lowering.

“Of course, sweetheart. Everyone told me how charming you were but I know it must not be easy. Why don’t you stay here, take a little nap, join us back later?” 

“You should drink this slowly, Oliver,” Walter said as soon as he walked back inside with a bottle of sparkling water.

“Yes, drink this. Rest. Come back when you’re ready, I’ll make sure no one bothers you. I just needed some papers but I’ll use Mary’s office, don’t worry.”

“Thank you, mom.”

“Anytime,” she smiled before grabbing a file from her desk and joining Walter. She was just about to walk through the door when she paused, turning around. “Where is mister Diggle, by the way?”

“I told him he could wait outside if he wanted to and I’d call him once I was ready to head back home. I figured since I was inside, he didn’t need to stay around all night.”

“Oh. Well, yes security is already pretty tight,” his mother nodded before closing the door behind them.

Oliver let out a deep breath as he heard them pulling out chairs in the secretary’s office. They were still stuck but at least no one would walk in.

“It’s all good,” he said as he opened the bathroom door, not surprised to see Felicity still pressed against the wall by the door. “But they’re in the outer office so we need to stay here a little longer.”

Felicity exhaled slowly, briefly closing her eyes in relief. “What did you tell her? I couldn’t hear you.”

“Just that I got a bit ill. She told me to rest and that no one would come inside.”

“So… we’re stuck here?” Felicity asked with a grin.

“I doubt my mom is going to stay away from her guests very long. So it’s just for a few minutes.”

Felicity bit her lower lip, her eyes travelling down his chest. “And you’re wearing your suspenders…”

Oliver’s mouth twitched at the way her fingers sneaked inside his jacket. “Why… yes, I am.”

“You didn’t even kiss me,” she pouted. “You got growly as soon as you saw me like a bear with a thorn in his pawn.” 

“I didn’t… get growly.”

“Ugh! Yes you did! You didn’t listen to my plan and when you find out I actually organized everything you got pissed!” she huffed, turning around and facing the sink. His eyes fell on her naked back and before he could stop himself, his fingers reached out, softly brushing against her skin. She shivered then, her shoulders tensing as she gripped the sink.

“I wasn’t pissed,” he murmured, letting his fingertips trail down her spine until they reached the waistband. He traced the edge of the fabric, then travelled up, still following the line of the dress until he reached her shoulder again. He met her eyes in the mirror right before lowering his head and pressing a kiss on the back of her neck. “Where did you get that dress?”

Felicity gulped.“What?”

“Your dress. Where did you get it?”

“... In that cute little shop on Somerset Boulevard. Why?”

“It’s… you…” Oliver mumbled, his eyes wandering from her delicate neck, where the skin was so soft, all the way down to her waist…and her perfect little bottom.  “You’re just…”

“You don’t like it? Is it too red?”

“You are absolutely stunning,” he replied in a low voice, their gazes still locked in the mirror.

“Thank you,” she smiled. “You look pretty good yourself.”

“You’ll wear it again, right?”

“The dress?”

“Yeah.”

She giggled, her hair bouncing and grazing her neck. “It’s not exactly an everyday kind of outfit but… if you want me to, yes I’ll wear it again. You might have to help me find the right occasion though.”

Oliver smiled, his eyes dropping to her left hand on the counter. He already knew the perfect occasion. One day.

“I will,” he said softly, his hand covering hers. His thumb slowly stroked her knuckles, lingering on her ring finger. They gazed at each other, both with a small hesitant smile. He knew she probably understood what he wasn’t saying, and the way she entwined their fingers together confirmed that they’d get there one day.

Eventually, she took a small breath and asked, “so… if you weren’t pissed at me… why were you so… grrrr?”

“I had to spend the entire evening-”

“Oliver I’ve been there for barely an hour.”

“It seemed like forever,” he quickly explained before continuing, “watching you, walking around, looking absolutely breathtaking. Two men asked you to dance-”

“Three actually,” she cut him off teasingly.

He groaned, dropping his forehead on her shoulder. “Three men danced with you. One kissed your hand, I saw it. They talked with you, kissed your cheek, touched your arm. And I just wanted… I wanted to be with you. I wanted to be able to put my hand here,” he explained, pressing the palm of his hand low on her back. “I wanted to be able to kiss you and touch you and make you smile.”

“No dancing though?” 

“I don’t dance.”

“You’ll dance with me one day.”

He grinned then, a huge grin that took over his face. “I’ll dance with you one day.”

“Good. That’s settled, then.”

“That’s settled,” he confirmed before pushing a few strands of hair out of the way and pressing a soft kiss on the back of her shoulder. He peppered kisses over her skin until he reached the other side of her neck, earning a small giggle from her that went straight to his heart. “I’ve been dying to get my hands on you ever since I first saw you talking to that playmobil guy.”

“Billy? He was charming,” she said innocently. 

“... Charming?” he repeated, perking an eyebrow. “I’ll give you charming,” he whispered, letting his hand travel up her arm then onto her waist, finally resting on her ass. He squeezed then, the silky fabric of her dress sliding over her flesh. “You have the most magnificent ass.”

Felicity’s laugh died on her lips when he kissed her cheek, then nuzzled her ear with his nose. Pressing himself against her, he kneaded the firm globes between his hands, already feeling himself hardening.

“Oliver…” she breathed, tilting her head on the side.

“I know, baby. I’ll make it good,” he murmured before biting the lobe of her ear.

“Oliver, the gala… we could… we could get caught.”

“No one will come inside my mom’s office. All we have to do is lock this door and not make too much noise. No one will know.”

“But what if-”

“No one will know,” he repeated while ravishing her neck. “I’ll make it so good for you you’ll still feel it until we get back home. You’ll walk, and smile, and even dance with other men but… you’ll feel me in every step. You’ll remember how deep I was, how my hands were gripping your thighs as I pushed inside you, how it felt when I came. How I'm the only one who makes you feel that way.”

God, he wanted her. Badly. He couldn’t help but grind his already solid erection against her, wanting her to feel how ready he was to pleasure her. It had been almost an entire week since he had last been inside her and seen her falling apart in his arms. And he knew how frustrated she had been about their forced celibacy. Did she have any idea how addictive it was to bring her to completion? The sounds she made, the way she clung onto him… he needed that. He hadn’t been able to be by her side all night, letting everyone believe she was free and available.He knew he had no right to be possessive over her that way but he couldn’t help it. She was his as much as he was hers and he needed, he absolutely needed to be inside her, to make love to her and make her lose control the way he knew he was the only one able to. The others, they didn’t know, they didn’t know how wild and free she was with him, and only with him, how passionate and daring she was when it was just the two of them. They didn’t know that side of her and God help him but they would never find out. They’d have to get out of that room eventually, go back downstairs and pretend to only be old acquaintances, keeping their hands off each other but… right now he needed to be inside her so when they walked out of that office, she would still feel him.

Yet, no matter how much his body was craving her, he knew it was her call to make.

Meeting her eyes in the mirror, he saw her licking her lips and opening her mouth. Before she could say anything though, she stretched her arm and, keeping her eyes on him, locked the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felicity's dress:

 

Chapter Text

"Bad Things"

 

 

When you came in the air went out
And every shadow filled up with doubt
I don't know who you think you are
But before the night is through
I wanna do bad things with you

I'm the kind to sit up in his room
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue
I don't know what you've done to me
But I know this much is true
I wanna do bad things with you, okay

When you came in the air went out
And all those shadows there filled up with doubt
I don't know who you think you are
But before the night is through
I wanna do bad things with you
I wanna do real bad things with you

I don't know what you've done to me
But I know this much is true
I wanna do bad things with you
I wanna do real bad things with you

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You better keep your promise,” Felicity said in a breathy voice as she tilted her head, offering her neck to his hungry mouth.

Oliver hummed against her throat, pressing himself against her and pushing her against the sink. His hands travelled to her waist, gripping her tightly as he rocked his hips against her, trying to relieve the pressure in his crotch.

“Oliver we can’t… my dress,” Felicity murmured as he started to unbutton his pants.

Regretfully, he abandoned her neck and met her eyes in the mirror. Her cheeks were red, her lips swollen where she had bitten them. The lighting was bright, making her skin even paler and the silky material of her dress was taunting him in a way that made little sense to him. He had seen her naked. A lot. In sexy underwear. In his clothes. In those sexy as hell tight dresses. But this… this was something else. She was so beautiful, so confident… so womanly that it was appealing to a very dark, very primitive part of him. He wanted to do things to her.

Bad, bad things.

Mess up her hair. Smudge her perfect makeup. Bring that thoroughly satisfied glow to her face.

Slipping a hand between their bodies, he lowered his zipper, the sound echoing loudly in the small room. He saw the way Felicity’s breathing hitched, her eyes widening as he fisted his length, a sigh escaping his lips when it was finally freed of its confinement. Unable to resist, he rubbed the sensitive head on the small of her back, the friction of the silky fabric followed by the warmth of her skin making him groan and squeeze his eyes in pleasure. It was so smooth, gliding along his heated shaft that he couldn’t stop his hips from grinding onto her. Dropping his head, he gulped when he saw the erotic vision of his cock rubbing against her back, right above her ass, the red of her dress mirroring the color of his tip.

“Fuck…” he whispered as his hands stiffened on her waist, pressing her back against him.

He had done many things in his life, with countless women but this, for some reason, was probably the most erotic thing he had ever seen. She was so stunning, so classy and proper, the vice-president of a booming company and here, in that locked bathroom, she was letting him do all kind of naughty things to her. His lips crashed onto her shoulder when she pushed back her butt to meet his thrusts, her hands flattening on the counter in something that might have looked like submission, but he knew better. It was trust. Pure, unadulterated trust.

And if he wasn’t aroused beyond words before, that alone would have done the trick. His mouth opened on the back of her shoulder, his teeth nibbling her skin, hard enough to make her shiver but not up to the point where he would leave a mark.

No.

He would leave his mark inside her body, where no one would see it. But she would know. And so would he. When they would open that door, she would be soft, tender, aching to feel him inside her again. He was going to make sure of it.

His hand flattened against her stomach, holding her close to him as his hips kept on rocking against her in slow motion. His balls were grazing her perfect ass, rubbing against the fabric and Oliver knew that if he didn’t stop soon, he’d reach a point where he’d probably embarrass himself.

So OK the dress was a massive turn on for him. The way it looked on her and felt against his skin… But still. He wasn’t about to dry-hump his girlfriend and leave her hanging.

He cleared his throat, forcing his hands away… only to have them travel up her back, letting his thumbs brush against her spine.

“Oliver,” Felicity whispered as he circled her body, palming her breasts. Her nipples were hard, pressing into his hands. “We… my dress…” 

Taking a deep breath, he let her go, knowing she was right. They still had to head back downstairs and as much as he was dying to ravish her, he was aware that a wrinkled dress would probably tell everyone what she had been up to.

Oliver dropped to his knees, his lips kissing the small of her back just above her dress as he slipped his hands underneath it, groaning when he felt her naked legs. The dress was tight from the knees up and extremely form-fitting. There was no way he could just push it up her hips, the fabric would bunch.

He’d have to undress her. “Honey, I have to-”

“I know,” she nodded, turning around and raising her arms.

Holy fuck.

Taking a hold of the hem, he slowly lifted it, making sure he wasn’t too rough. The dress fit her like a glove and seeing her body slowly appearing in front of his eyes, as if he was unwrapping her… Her bare legs, so toned, her soft thighs, a small pair of lineless panties, her slightly curvy stomach and her perky breasts…

Holding the dress in his hands, he licked his lips at the view she was offering him. A pair of black heels and some tiny red panties… nothing else. Not trusting himself, he carefully placed the dress on a hanger on the back of the door, his hands shaking. He was still completely dressed and must have looked slightly ridiculous with his dick at the ready but truth be told he couldn’t care less. He unbuttoned his jacket, then placed it on the closed lid of the toilet before turning to face Felicity. Their gazes locked for a moment, neither of them moving.

Oliver balled up his fists, his eyes travelling over her body, physically restraining himself from grabbing her and bending her over the counter to sink into her warmth. Seeing all these men touching her had awoken a very primal part of himself that wanted to claim her. As his mate.

But his control completely snapped when Felicity slipped her thumbs underneath the waistband of her underwear, then shimmied out of them until they fell on the floor. She barely had the time to step out of them before he was pouncing on her, his hand on her neck, his lips finding hers. It was a battle of tongues and teeth, Felicity’s small whimpers telling him she was as hungry as he was.

“Oliver,’ she panted against his lips. “I need…” 

“I know. I know,” he whispered before taking her mouth again, the fire spreading in his body at the way she pressed herself against him. His hands landed roughly on her ass, firmly kneading the flesh; knowing he was probably too rough but unable to stop. He had to get his hands on her and hold her like no other man could hold her.

He hissed when her small hand circled his cock, stroking him a little faster than she usually did. One good look at her face told him she was as aroused as he was, her breathing already short. He had to force her hand away, whatever was left of his control slipping but before she could say anything, he was spinning her around, forcing her hands down on the counter.

Her head bowed as he nudged her legs apart, her heels making her the perfect height. Fisting his cock, he slipped it between her open thighs, sliding it up and down her folds until it bumped against her clit. The little mewl that escaped her made it hard for him to focus on anything else except the absolute need to slam into her but he was craving her pleasure as much as his. He rubbed himself against her, feeling his length getting slicker and slicker every time he would nudge her entrance, her arousal coating him, making the friction even better.

“Oh God,” Felicity moaned as he rubbed the tip of his cock around the small bundle of nerves. Over and over again, until she started to chase his touch, her hips rolling against him. “Oliver, condom. Purse.”

He gritted his teeth, remembering her words earlier that week. They still needed condoms. Thank God she had thought of putting some in her purse because he honestly wasn’t sure he would have been able to stop. He spilled her purse contents in the sink then grabbed the small foil square, opening it with his teeth before covering himself, not sure he had the restraint to wait any longer.

It didn’t feel the same way when he slipped between her folds, her inner lips parting for him, but he could still feel the heat radiating from her skin and judging by the way Felicity keened as he lightly tapped against her clitoris, it still felt good for her. Her head bowed as he kept pleasuring her that way, small moans escaping her throat, so loud in his ears. Her thighs were trembling against him and he wondered how far he could take her just by stroking her that way.

“Baby? Are you close?” he asked, barely recognizing his own voice.

“Mmmff,” was all he heard at first until she raised her head, letting him see she was biting her lips. “Yes. God, yes,” she eventually replied with a gasp. “How do you even…” she trailed off, the rest of her words muffled in a long wail as he pressed harder against her then left her suddenly.

“What…?! Oliver please,” she begged, pushing back against him, seeking him. He gripped her hips firmly, holding her in place as he found her opening then pressed inside, parting her heated folds with his push.

Her muscles clenched around him almost viciously, sucking him inside as she let out a low, long strangled moan that echoed his own as he finally filled her to the hilt. He didn’t let her adjust, his hips already finding a punishing rhythm, pounding into her from behind as she tried to absorb his thrusts, her hands slipping on the counter until she finally rested a palm flat against the mirror to push back against him.

He was merciless and rough, the wet sounds of their bodies the only thing he could hear apart from her cries of pleasure as he took her the way he had been dying to ever since he had seen her in that devilish dress. She was meeting him thrust for thrust, her face wincing almost as if she was in pain but the loud moans echoing in the small room were the proof that there was only pleasure.

“Oh… oh… oooooh. Yes, yeeeess,” she hissed as he slipped a hand between her thighs, flattening his fingers against her clitoris. She was quivering against him, her thighs shaking as the palm she was pressing on the mirror was gliding across the cold surface with a small squeaky sound.

She was close, he could see it in the way her body was tensing and he gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the fire that was spreading at the base of his spine. 

“Oliver,” she gasped loudly, her fingers curling over the glassy surface a second before he felt her inner muscles clenching down on him. He saw her mouth opening, heard the beginning of her scream as her eyes rolled to the back of her head and he pressed his hand against her lips, muffling it as he fucked her through her orgasm, feeling every single ripple of her climax run through his cock. She was breathing heavily, a few moans escaping her mouth only to crash against the palm of his hand, her eyes hazy with pleasure. Her orgasm gradually fading away, he slowed down his thrusts, lazily pushing inside her to let her savor the last waves of her pleasure. Her eyes remained closed, with his hand still covering her mouth and muffling the last sounds that were escaping her as a small tear rolled on her cheek, landing on his thumb while her face slowly relaxed in a blissful relief.

He searched his memory but he was pretty sure she had never come that way, so loudly, up to the point where her eyes got teary and damn… he wanted to see it again. He didn’t know if it was their forced celibacy, or the fact of having sex in a forbidden place or a little bit of both but that was probably the hottest thing he had ever seen.

For now. He had a feeling it was just the beginning of their journey together, in every sense of the word.

Felicity eventually gathered her bearings, her eyes meeting his in the mirror. The hunger he saw in them made him snap. He suddenly slipped out of her, freeing her mouth before turning her in his arms and, bending an arm around her waist, he sat her on the counter.

“Oh my God… Oliver,” she said with a trembling voice as she let him arrange her legs the way he wanted. He spread her open, his mouth watering when he saw how wet she was, literally dripping from the pleasure he had just given her.

She would still feel him. She would walk out of this room, thoroughly well fucked, her brain fuzzy, her body bearing the traces of his love-making. 

He was going to make sure of it. 

He captured her small moan with his mouth as he slammed back home, not letting her catch her breath. His tongue slipped between her lips, as demanding and relentless as the way he was claiming her, his hips now snapping against hers. They parted ways, both out of breath, Oliver resting his forehead against hers before pulling her butt towards him. Felicity scrambled, her arms straightening behind her, the gesture pushing her breasts forward and all he had to do was dip his head to capture a hard nipple between his teeth, flicking his tongue over it.

Felicity bent her knees, opening herself even more to him, her ankles crossing behind his back. He straightened, watching her and the way she was offering herself to his eyes, her head tilted back as she completely put him in charge. Something, low in his abdomen, tightened as his pace quickened, one of his hands leaving her ass to caress the inside of her thigh, savoring how soft her skin was underneath his calloused fingers. A trail of goosebumps appeared and he felt the heels of her shoes digging into the back of his thighs as she let out a breathy moan. He could see her arms were starting to shake under her weight and the force of his thrusts and he gently pushed on her chest until her upper back was resting against the mirror.

“I want to make you come again,” Oliver said in a husky voice before slipping an arm underneath her knee, holding it in the crook of his elbow.  A loud clang resonated in the room when the shoe slipped off her foot and it sent a deep flash of arousal in his abdomen to see her so improper. Her hair was messier, her eyes heavy with pleasure and she couldn’t keep quiet, mewls and whimpers spilling from her lips with each of his thrusts. “I want to feel you come again around me. Hard. And then we’ll go back home and I’ll bend you over your couch and I’ll take you again.”

Felicity whimpered at his words, her hands reaching out until they could grip his suspenders, her back pressing against the mirror now the only thing supporting her weight. “Yes,” she breathed. “Yes.”

“You always come so hard that way. But I love seeing you. I love watching the way your eyes flutter, the way your mouth opens. I want you to see exactly who is making you feel so good. That’s why I turn you around. It’s so you know I’m the one making you lose control,” Oliver continued, unable to stop the words now. He was breathing heavily, grunting, his hips not answering to his brain anymore as he kept pushing, pounding into her, mesmerized by the arousal he could see in her eyes.

He could see she was getting close but so was he, his muscles tense and burning with the exertion. The coil of tension was growing tighter and tighter, like a small ball of fire about to explode. He pushed her leg a little higher, enough to allow him to slightly change his angle until-

“Oh God!” Felicity shouted when the button of his pants pressed against her clit. Swiftly, he covered her mouth with his hand again and he saw, in the way her eyes darkened, that the gesture was turning her on. It was allowing him to take control, and she wouldn’t have to restrain herself. She could scream and moan as much as she wanted, he would muffle the sounds like he had promised her.

His pace quickened, the rhythm almost furious as he desperately tried to push her over the edge and the new stimulation over her clitoris sped everything up. Three hard thrusts and she was wailing in his hand, her eyes watering again. One hand left his suspenders as she grabbed the tap beside her, trying to hold up against him. Seeing her come undone that way was the last straw. With one long groan, he came, holding himself deep inside her as the tension suddenly snapped, a white noise in his ears as he found his relief. He slowly came back to earth, his hips still thrusting lazily as Felicity was still riding her orgasm, her walls milking every last drop of pleasure he could give her. He clenched his teeth, regretting that he couldn’t empty himself inside her instead of that damn condom.

All that could be heard in the room now were the last muffled cries still escaping her and he finally lowered his hand, flattening it on the counter, his head dropping against her shoulder as he tried to catch his breath.

Eventually, he let go of her leg then took her in his arms, pulling her flush against him. She was completely boneless against him and uncharacteristically quiet, despite the occasional whimper spilling from her lips.

It was when she shivered that he leant back, his hands cradling her face while he pressed a soft kiss on her lips.

“Oh my God, Oliver,” she finally said in a low, shaky voice. “Oh my God. I don’t think… that was… oh my God. I never… it was so…”

Oliver grinned at her lack of coherence and kissed her a few more times. “Good?”

“I can’t feel anything south of my… nose,” she mumbled, dropping her head against his chest. “I think. I’m not even sure I can feel my nose, actually.”

His hands lazily stroked her back, to bring her back to earth as much as to warm her up a little. “As much as I’d love to stay here long enough for round two, you’re getting cold.”

He slipped out of her then got rid of the condom before straightening his clothes. Felicity had completely wrinkled his shirt when she had grabbed it with the suspenders but underneath his jacket, no one would notice.

Felicity was still sitting on the counter, only one shoe on and the sight made him smile. She seemed completely out of it and once again he wondered if it was the forbidden sex or the celibacy that had done the trick for her. Something he would be really happy to experiment with over the next months, actually. Or years, probably.

“Come here, baby,” he murmured as he helped her on her feet. He quickly cleaned her then kneeled down in front of her to help her put her panties back on while she was leaning on his shoulders for balance. “I think it’s a good idea for you to wait in the-”

He was interrupted by Felicity’s mouth on his, her hands having gripped the suspenders to pull him to her. She kissed him hard, her tongue diving in his mouth when he gasped in surprise at the sudden burst of energy. He was slightly dizzy when she eventually let go of him, patting his suspenders one last time.

“This will definitely be in our top three,” she stated calmly as if she hadn’t just grabbed him and kissed him senseless a few seconds ago.

Oliver stared at her then eventually blinked. Damn… in charge Felicity was hot as hell. He was considering maybe staying in there for round two because if she kept that up, he’d probably be ready to go pretty soon, when she picked up her dress and handed it to him. 

With a deep sigh, he helped her slip it on, and if he spent a little bit more time than necessary smoothing the fabric over her curves, she didn’t complain.

“That dress is devilish,” he exhaled as she turned around to fix her hair and makeup.

“I have to say I was hoping it’d bring you to your knees but I never thought we wouldn’t make it back home,” she grinned before applying her lipstick. She tore off some paper towel and passed it under the water before patting the corners of her eyes, cleaning the small dark smears left by her tears. Oliver leaned against the counter as she put everything back into her purse, trying to resist the temptation to kiss her again. She had just fixed her makeup and he was pretty sure she wouldn’t be pleased. "Come here," she said when she was done, tilting his head to clean the lipstick she had left on him. He let her do, observing her. She was focused on her task, licking her thumb then rubbing it against his jaw and it occured to him that he loved those little moments between them probably as much as the sex itself. 

"I love you," he murmured as she was patting a small wet towel against his neck.

A small, happy smile stretched her lips as her eyes briefly met his. She finished her task in silence before throwing the used towel in the small basket underneath the sink. "There," she whispered as her fingers stroked his jaw. Grabbing her hand, he pressed a kiss on her knuckles, holding her probably a little bit longer than necessary.

“Sooo… are you gonna tell me what has gotten into you?” she asked in a teasing voice as he finally let her go.

Oliver frowned. “What do you mean?”

Snorting, she rested her hands on her hips. “I mean the whole marking your territory thing. You’ve never been that… intense before. Or explicit.”

Oliver cleared his throat, his eyes travelling to the door behind her. “I don’t really like seeing all these men around you.”

“Good,” Felicity smirked. “I don’t really like seeing all these women around you either.”

“... what women?” Oliver asked as he picked up the jacket that was still on the toilet seat. 

“The gorgeous brunette who offered you a drink? You talked with her for a little while. And then the cute red-head. She laughed a lot and patted your arm.”

Oliver furrowed his brow in concentration. “I think that was Joleen and… the other girl was Stephi. They… I think they work for QC. I… I didn’t pay attention,” he added sheepishly. He could barely remember who these girls were, to be honest. Yes he had made small talk with a few women but nothing had caught his attention. “I think I was a bit too focused on that gorgeous blonde woman in the red dress and wondering if I could get a moment with her later.”

“Good answer,” Felicity grinned before kissing the corner of his lips. “Very good answer.”

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Felicity’s legs were still wobbly when she made her way outside. Oliver had let her leave a few minutes before him, and the plan was that she would wait for him in the car while he spent another fifteen minutes or so at the reception. To say that their little rendezvous had been intense was putting it mildly. She hadn’t been fooled by Oliver’s grumpiness and she would be lying if she said she hadn’t enjoyed it a little bit. There was something about making a man like Oliver Queen jealous enough that he wouldn’t even notice the dozen attractive women who had been trying to get his attention all night long. Not to mention if his possessiveness led to these kind of orgasms, she wasn’t about to complain.

At all. Even if her thighs were still trembling and her steps not as assured as when she had walked into the building two hours earlier. Oliver hadn’t lied. She could still feel him.

After a quick stop to get her coat, she was about to walk outside when she almost bumped into someone, too lost in the afterglow to really pay attention to where she was going.

“Miss Felicity,” Tommy grinned at her as he held her elbows to help her keep her balance. “You seem a bit… distracted. Is everything alright?”

“Yes,” she smiled, relieved to see Tommy’s friendly face. “I’m a bit tired, that’s all. I was about to head back home, actually.” 

“What? You didn’t even get a drink or a dance with Starling’s very best waltzer.”

“Oh… and who would that be?” she teased him as she tugged her purse underneath her arm.

Tommy tilted his head, his usual charming grin firmly in place. “You’re challenging me. I like that. But come on. At least a drink?”

Felicity shifted on her feet, hesitating. She knew she was supposed to go to Dig but on the other hand, she was quite thirsty and Tommy was always a charming companion. Since Oliver would be busy for at least another fifteen minutes, there was no reason she couldn’t at least quench her thirst.

“Just one drink,” she eventually accepted, following Tommy’s lead. “Non alcoholic.”

They quickly stopped by the bar, Tommy handing her a glass of sparkling water that she almost gulped down in one go.

“... I can see now why non alcoholic was probably better,” Tommy snorted as he took a sip of his whisky.

“Sorry. I think I had too much champagne already,” Felicity shrugged as they stepped away from the crowd. She looked around her discreetly, trying to spot Oliver.

“Moira told me he wasn’t feeling well,” Tommy said in a low voice.

“Pardon me?” 

Tommy tilted his head, a soft knowing smile on his lips. “Now, really?”

Felicity pinched her lips, feeling a small blush creeping on her cheeks. Damn.

“It feels like we keep having the same conversation, doesn’t it?” Tommy asked, rolling his glass in his hand. “Oliver acts like a dick, I ask you to be patient.”

Felicity huffed out a laugh at the memory. “No. Don’t worry. Oliver and I had a talk already and… I understand. He has his reasons for behaving the way he does. I don’t blame him.”

“So… the potted plant won’t be necessary this time?”

“Potted plants are always a plus.”

“I’ll make sure he remembers that. Can I also kick his ass if he takes too long?”

“Ass kicking is always a plus, too.”

Tommy laughed before finishing his drink. “You know… if one day you’re bored and want to go out and have a drink or dinner…”

Felicity raised her eyebrows. “Are you… asking me out on a date?”

“No! No no!” Tommy said hurriedly. “Totally not appropriate. But if one day you realize he is taking too long and need to talk or… make him jealous… or just get a free meal with Starling’s very best-”

“Waltzer?” she finished for him with a grin.

“I was going to say dinner companion, but yes, that too. I mean I’d be lucky to go on a date with you but… you wouldn’t say yes, right?”

Felicity smiled, tilting her head. “... No. I wouldn’t.”

“You’ve always been special. I think he saw it right away but… he’s a bit…” 

“Thick. I know,” Felicity nodded. “Very, very thick.”

Tommy perked up an eyebrow. “Well, I’m sure he’d be very flattered you still remember that.”

“Oh God,” Felicity covered her mouth, stifling a laugh. “You know what I meant.” 

“I hope so at least,” he chuckled. “By the way, speaking of the devil, I think he has spotted us. He’s frowning.”

Felicity discreetly turned around to face the direction where Tommy was looking and saw Oliver deep in talk with Malcolm Merlyn, his eyes glancing at her. He was definitely sporting a frown on his face, which made her roll her eyes. 

“My offer to dance still stands if you want to give a certain someone a piece of your mind,” Tommy murmured, pointing towards the dance floor.

Felicity was about to say yes, just for the sake of proving a point to Oliver, when the sound of firecrackers erupted not far away from them. She started at the sound and so did Tommy.

“Fireworks, already?” she asked him. It was a bit early for that and she didn’t even know they were planning on having fireworks.

“There was no-”  Tommy stopped in the middle of his sentence as the sounds came closer to them and the first screams started to echo across the room.

They exchanged a glance, Tommy grabbing her elbow and guiding her towards the nearest exit as the crowd around them started to panic. 

Gunshots. Those were clearly gunshots.

Her heart beating wildly, Felicity searched for Oliver, but they were surrounded by too many people, pushing, trying to rush to the nearest exit.

“Oliver,” she told Tommy, unwilling to leave if she wasn’t sure he was safe.

“Oliver would want you out of here, he’ll be fine. He has his own bodyguard, you don’t,” Tommy hissed as he pushed her in front of him.

But Dig is outside…

They had almost made it out when a man in a mask suddenly appeared, blocking the exit. He was holding an automatic rifle in his hand, pointing it towards the small group of people who hadn’t managed to escape, including them.

“No, no, no, don’t leave so early. The party is just starting!”

They were forced back inside the room, Tommy’s arm still guiding her.

Frantic, Felicity searched the room, desperate to find a trace of Oliver, not allowing herself to look at the bodies she could already see lying on the ground.

Their gazes eventually locked and she breathed in relief when she saw he was safe and sound, standing against a wall with his mother and Tommy’s father, on the other side of the room. She nodded then, letting him know she was alright, and he smiled reassuringly.

They were OK.

People were starting to cry, a few women were screaming until several rounds of shots resonated loudly in the now half empty room.

“Is everyone going to stay quiet now?” One of the men asked. Felicity hadn’t paid attention at first but she could now clearly see six men, all dressed in black and their faces concealed, each one of them standing near an entrance, pointing their guns towards the guests. “I’ll make it simple. Merlyn Global and Queen Consolidated are two of the wealthiest companies of our city. And my friends and I just decided that it might be good to spread the wealth a little bit. So, ladies and gentlemen, some of my friends here are going to walk by you. Drop your purse, your wallet, your jewelry, watches and cellphones into their bags and then we’ll leave. See? No one needs to get hurt! Well... apart from those who are already dead, that is.” 

The man that was guarding them held out a large duffle bag and Felicity dropped her purse in it as well as her earrings and bracelet - they weren’t very expensive but she wasn’t about to argue with psychos armed with machine guns. 

It seemed to last a lifetime. Probably just a couple of minutes, but in her mind, it felt like it was never going to end. There were still at least a hundred people in the room and at first things were moving slowly until they dragged a middle aged woman to the center of the room.

Felicity barely had the time to turn her head away as a single shot was heard, followed by horrified cries.

After that… no one tried to waste time.

She kept her eyes on Oliver the whole time, holding onto Tommy’s hand so hard she was confident her nails were digging into his skin. But he didn’t seem to mind or even realize it.

Soon, they heard the sirens and Felicity exhaled slowly, relieved to know the police were only a minute away at most. They were going to be safe.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” the leader shouted, grabbing one of the bags.

Oh my God yes, please just go.

Two armed cops entered by the main entrance, holding their guns, just as the thugs were escaping by a side entrance. One of them turned around, shooting to cover his friends while the police officers screamed for everyone to lie down.

She felt something hitting her shoulder, only to realize that Tommy was pushing her on the floor and behind a table.

Her heart beating wildly, she saw the last men escaping before the SCPD started to flood the room. People were already running away, too relieved to be safe and sound to even think about staying inside but Felicity somehow was glued to her spot, her breathing short.

“Are you OK?” Tommy asked as she sat down on the floor.

“Yes. Just… shocked, I guess.”

“Same.”

The table they had sneaked behind suddenly flew to the side, making them jump. Oliver’s concerned face appeared and he quickly scanned her, barely paying attention to Tommy.

“We’re good, Oliver. My dad? Moira?”

“No harm,” Oliver answered, glancing at the door where the men had escaped before fixing his eyes on Felicity.

She held his gaze, nodding at the question he wasn’t asking. By the time Tommy had stood up, Oliver was already gone.

“What the… where is he?”

“I think… he just ran outside,” Felicity explained as she tried to stand up as well. “Probably to make sure Dig is alright.”

“... oh. Wow, Felicity are you OK?” he asked when she started to stagger.

“I’m OK, just light-headed. I should have had a whisky too,” she tried to laugh, her hands shaking when she grabbed a few napkins on a nearby table. “I think someone dropped their drink on me though, because my back is-”

“Oh my God,” Tommy breathed suddenly. “It’s… your coat is covered in… Felicity it looks like blood.”

“What?” Someone had bled on her?

She tried to turn around, to get a look but suddenly a burning pain flashed through her shoulder, making her gasp.

“Felicity, you got shot!” Tommy said in panic, forcing her back on the floor and sitting sideways so she could lean on him. Yelling, he called for one of the medics who were already there.

“Tommy, thank God you’re alright,” Felicity heard Malcolm as a few people joined them.

The pain that she hadn’t even noticed was starting to burn, intense and deep and she was forcing herself to take small breaths, fighting the nausea that was already taking over.

“I’m fine, dad, but Felicity is wounded. I think it’s a bullet, I don’t know,” Tommy explained just as a medic kneeled down next to them.

“Where the fuck is Ollie?” Tommy shouted.

“I don’t know, he ran away,” Moira answered in a shaky voice. “Mister Diggle isn’t here either.” 

“It’s OK. He probably went to check on Dig,” Felicity repeated through gritted teeth as the medic was examining her left shoulder. “Oh my God it hurts like hell.”

“It’s a through and through, I don’t think any vital organs were touched. You will be fine, Miss,” the medic, a woman in her forties smiled at her reassuringly before putting a yellow tag around her neck. “I know it hurts but we’ll get you to the hospital as soon as possible.”

“It’s OK, Felicity. It’s just a flesh wound,” Tommy said as they were waiting for a gurney. She was leaning heavily against him, trying to control her breathing and the nausea caused by the pain. The last thing she needed was to puke on Tommy Merlyn.

She was feeling awfully dizzy and she didn’t know if it was because of the blood loss or the shock. She could now feel the blood dripping down her back and the front of her dress was dampening quickly as well.

She forced her eyes open when she felt something covering her and tried to smile in gratitude at Tommy’s father who was blanketing her with his jacket. She felt better then, even if the pain was still throbbing with the way that Tommy was pressing on the wound to stop the bleeding.

 

Tommy went with her in the ambulance, unwilling to leave her alone while Moira was desperately looking for her son as well as handling her responsibilities with Walter and Malcolm. Thankfully, Thea hadn’t attended and she was already safely back home.

“I can’t believe he left. He looked at you and then he just left,” Tommy was rambling, holding her hand as they were speeding through the streets.

“It’s not his fault,” she replied, taking off the oxygen mask. “Don’t be mad. He probably reacted on instinct.”

“What, like there were hostage takings on his island?”

“Maybe the noise was… just don’t blame him, Tommy. I didn’t even know I was hurt.”

God, she couldn’t think about Oliver right now. Knowing he had probably run after these men and hadn’t come back… Was he alright? He had apparently taken Dig with him since he had been nowhere to be found either and it was nerve-wracking to be left out of the loop, unsure if they were both safe.

She groaned, squeezing her eyes shut as the top of the ambulance was starting to move.

“Sorry, sorry,” Tommy whispered as he put the oxygen mask back on her face.

 

She still hadn’t heard from Oliver when the doctor finished patching up her shoulder, one hour later.

 

Chapter Text

"Like I'm Gonna Lose You"

 

 

 

I found myself dreaming
In silver and gold
Like a scene from a movie
That every broken heart knows we were walking on moonlight
And you pulled me close
Split second and you disappeared and then I was all alone

I woke up in tears
With you by my side
A breath of relief
And I realized
No, we're not promised tomorrow

So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

[John Legend:]
In the blink of an eye
Just a whisper of smoke
You could lose everything
The truth is you never know

So I'll kiss you longer baby
Any chance that I get
I'll make the most of the minutes and love with no regrets

Let's take our time
To say what we want
Use what we got
Before it's all gone
'Cause no, we're not promised tomorrow

[Both:]
So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

Hey
Whoa

I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Where are they going?” Oliver asked with a frown. He wasn’t expecting any answer, and Dig didn’t give him one.

When the masked men had interrupted the reception, Oliver had been with his mother, Malcolm and a few other executives of Palmer Tech and Merlyn Global. Seeing Felicity on the other side of the room and being unable to protect her, shield her if necessary, had probably been the hardest moment he had had to live ever since he had been back. The fear of seeing her so vulnerable, among all those other innocents, and being absolutely, utterly helpless, knowing what could happen in a few seconds… He had tried to keep his eyes on her all the time, telling her to stay calm and to do absolutely everything they were told.

Don’t be reckless, honey. He had repeated that sentence in his head over and over again, only breathing in relief when she had given all her belongings and the gunman had walked away from their group. Tommy had pushed her mostly behind him, for which Oliver would probably be eternally grateful. When the police had arrived and he had seen the men running away, his instincts had kicked in. This couldn’t be a coincidence. And they had Felicity’s USB stick with them. Still, he had had to make sure she was alright first. Her small nod had been enough and without a second look, he had rushed behind them, not surprised to see Dig arriving with the car. They had followed them across the city to the harbour by the bay.

“I think we should continue by foot,” Dig said quietly, reaching in the glove box to retrieve a glock.

Oliver nodded, searching underneath the seat where he knew other weapons were stored. Dig was nothing if not prepared. 

Thanks to the darkness, they discreetly made their way to the warehouse where they had seen the gunmen disappear. They had left the door unlocked, which made Oliver roll his eyes as he slowly opened it before throwing a look around. It led to some kind of a big hallway, which was empty, but he could hear several voices coming from the other side of it.

“The police weren't supposed to arrive so fast!” Oliver recognized the voice of their leader, but the other man talking wasn’t familiar to him.

“I know. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan.”

“You told us it would be easy, no cops.”

“As I said… these kinds of things happen. How many casualties?”

“I shot that woman like you told me. A few others got hit, injured. No idea if they’re dead, though.”

“Good. I got in touch with some of my partners and you’re very lucky they weren’t harmed. That was very messy. You were supposed to be more in control and not shoot aimlessly. I am disappointed.”

“Yeah well sometimes things don’t go according to plans,” a third voice said.

The sound of a gunshot echoed loudly, followed by a few shouts and even more shots.  

Oliver shared a look with Dig, motioning to a door not far from him. Dig nodded, opening it then giving Oliver a thumbs up. By the time they had slipped inside what looked like a small storage room, whistling could be heard, as well as footsteps.

“But what do I do with all of that?” the leader said, much to Oliver’s surprise. So he hadn’t been the one killed.

“Keep whatever you want. Someone will come clean this up. I’ll get in touch when I need your services again.”

Oliver held his gun at the ready, half-expecting the door to open but after a few minutes, the main door closed loudly for the second time. Still, they didn’t move, waiting several long minutes to make sure everyone had left.

Pushing the door open, Oliver scanned the room. It was dark, only a small ray of moonlight reaching through a window on the ceiling was allowing him to see.

The silence around them confirmed they were alone but he didn’t lower his guard and neither did Dig as they scanned the room. Fortunately, Dig had a small flashlight with him.

Oliver lowered his gun when he saw the five bodies lying on the floor of the huge hangar. It was dark, but their steps were echoing loudly in the cavernous space, giving him an eery feeling. It’s not that he was afraid of the dark, it was mostly that he hated this feeling of not knowing what his surroundings looked like.

“Oliver…” Dig whispered, directing his ray of light towards several duffle bags. Still full.

“They… they barely took anything,” Oliver said, puzzled, before kneeling down. He quickly found Felicity’s purse and opened it. The USB stick was still inside, as well as her cellphone. Grabbing a second bag, that he recognized as the one where he had been forced to throw his own cellphone, he fished it out, noticing the watches and jewels.

“Why didn’t they take the jewels at the very least? You can sell those things easily,” Diggle wondered out loud. Oliver shrugged, completely at a loss himself. It was like they didn’t really care about the money in the first place. But then why had they even done it? And why had most of them been killed?

“I don’t like it, Oliver.”

“I don’t like it either,” Oliver breathed, standing up. “We shouldn’t stay here.”

Using his cellphone’s flashlight, he quickly walked towards the door, not looking behind him once.

He had almost reached the door when Dig’s voice stopped him.

“... Oliver. Come back.”

“What’s wrong?” he answered with a frown as he turned around and joined Dig. “Did you find something?”

Dig glanced at him, shaking his head before directing his flashlight further into the room.

At first, Oliver frowned, not understanding exactly what he was supposed to see. “What am I…”

It was as if his heart had dropped into his stomach when his brain finally made sense of what his eyes were seeing.

The Queen’s Gambit.

It was rusty and completely wrecked but the name could still be partly seen. It seemed weirdly big out of the water and at the same time… smaller than the last time he had seen it, disappearing in the ocean.

Oliver froze, glued to his place as he tried to process what he was looking at. He barely noticed Dig’s hand on his shoulder, being immediately thrown back three years ago, to that fateful night.

“Oliver… we gotta go. You heard them.”

Gulping, Oliver finally managed to tear his eyes off the wreckage that had changed his life. Survival mode finally kicked back in as they made their way back to the car, but as soon as he closed the door, he let out a breath of relief, letting his head rest against the seat.

Dig didn’t say anything until he stopped at a fast food drive through and ordered two sodas and burgers.

“You need to eat, you look like you’re about to faint,” Dig said, handing him a bag of food. “We should be back at QC in ten minutes.”

Oliver rubbed his forehead, noticing the sheen of cold sweat lingering on his skin. He took a sip of coke, surprised to find that the sweet taste did seem to help him focus a little more. Automatically, he ate half of his burger, then put the rest back in the bag.

For some reason, seeing the brown bag holding his leftovers made him chuckle. “Felicity is going to be pissed. We did it again.”

Dig grinned, still focused on the road. “This time we have a good excuse: she doesn’t have her cellphone with her. And I think she’d rather that than you fainting.”

“There’s that,” Oliver smiled. “Although, for the record, I do not faint.”

Dig chuckled, shaking his head. “So… are you OK?”

Oliver pinched his lips, still honestly unsure about how he felt.,  “I… I don’t know. I think I am, now. It was just… a shock I guess.”

“That would shake anybody. What we know now is that this whole thing was probably organized by the same people. Why… now that is another question.”

“We should have checked the bodies.”

“I did,” Dig smirked, throwing a wallet and a cell phone on Oliver’s lap. “I figured robbing them all would be suspicious but one forgetting or dropping his wallet and cell phone shouldn’t attract too much attention.”

 

As they were getting near QC, Oliver stored the objects underneath the seat. They’d look through it with Felicity as soon as they’d make it back to her place.

There were several police cars and still a few ambulances and Dig dropped him off, then went to park the car down the street. He was held back by a police officer until the police captain waved him through.

“Thank you,” Oliver said as he stepped inside the lobby.

“You’re welcome. Your mother is frantic, son.”

Oliver nodded, his steps carrying him quickly to the the reception room. It was chaotic, windows and doors shattered, blood on the floor and two bodies covered by white sheets. He was directed towards a smaller room by a police officer.

“Oliver!” Moira shouted in relief as soon as he stepped inside the room.

“Mom, I’m OK,” Oliver reassured her as she engulfed him in her arms.

“Where the hell have you been?! I saw you running after those men, what were you thinking?” Moira hissed, patting his arms in an obvious attempt to make sure he was unscathed, before leading him to the reception room where the attack had taken place. Oliver saw a couple of people still being taken care of by medics, even though none seemed in danger.

“I’m fine, mom. I’m sorry. I just… I don’t even remember why I did it. Dig came after me and found me though.”

“Thank God at least your bodyguard has some good sense. You scared the hell out of me! We’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

Oliver was about to answer when Malcolm joined them, a serious and closed expression on his face. “Apparently they’re in Starling General. I don’t know much more at the moment. Oliver, good to see you’re safe and sound. You worried us.”

“Sorry, Malcolm,” Oliver answered distractedly, his eyes roaming the room.  

“Tommy went with Miss Smoak to the hospital, sweetheart.”

Oliver blinked, his eyes fixed on a dark bundle of fabric that looked suspiciously like Felicity’s coat. Except the last time he had seen it she was wearing it. Why had she dropped it that way? That wasn’t Felicity’s style at all. And… all this blood next to it...

“Mom?” Oliver asked in a small voice.

“The medics said she should be fine, Oliver.”

“What… who…”

“Miss Smoak. She is with Tommy. She was hit by a stray bullet.”

“No,” Oliver denied, shaking his head. “I saw her, mom, she was fine. You must have misunderstood.”

I would have never left her if she had been in danger. The men were gone. 

“She didn’t even realize she was shot at first,” Malcolm explained quietly.

She had been shot. She had been shot and he had abandoned her. The blood he could see… it was her blood. There was so much blood. He felt his heart in his throat, his hands balling into fists before he finally got a grip over himself. Turning around, he all but ran, barely hearing his mother calling him back. He had to get to her. He had to get to Felicity.

 

 

  

*** 

  

 

Tommy was pacing, biting his nails nervously as Felicity was rolled back into her room. He had been forced to stay there while they were patching her up. Fortunately she didn’t need major surgery, just stitches after the X-ray had confirmed there was no internal damage.

“Wow. I feel… I feel reaaaal good right now,” Felicity said with a smile as she patted the blanket covering her lap.

“I gave you the good drugs. It’s going to hurt when they wear off but the nurse will give you painkillers if you ask her. Don’t hesitate if you need some,” the doctor explained with a gentle smile. “It was through and through. No damage. You’ll have to wear a sling to make sure you don’t tear your stitches and hurt yourself. I’d say at least a few days or until you feel comfortable without it. I’ll make sure you get an appointment for a check up in a week so we can make sure everything is healing properly. I’m keeping you for the night, though.”

“Doctor… even if you look like George Clooney and I reaaaally had a thing for Dr Ross back then, I have a boyfriend,” Felicity whispered with wide eyes. “He wouldn’t want you to keep me for the night.”

“Neither would my husband, rest assured,” Dr Gavin replied with a small chuckle. “Nurse Jackie will bring you a sling as soon as possible and help you with it. She’ll show your boyfriend how to put it on.”

Tommy nodded, forcing himself to sit down next to her. He wasn’t her boyfriend but he’d pay attention nonetheless at least so he could show… whoever would take care of her afterwards how to properly do it.

“This is not my boyfriend,” Felicity chirped. “He’s Tommy Merlyn and no. No boyfriend. I mean, he’s charming. And very sweet. And also very funny, I have to give him that. But I already found my prince. He has the bluest eyes I have ever seen.”

Tommy frowned, tilting his head at her dreamy tone. “Are you OK?” he turned his head to face the nurse who was checking Felicity’s file as the doctor left the room. “Is she OK?”

“Yes, she is alright,” Felicity giggled. “So am I by the way. Thank you for asking.”

Tommy took a step forward then paused, observing her. She seemed… quite cheerful and a little out of it. “... Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I am… reaaaaal good,” Felicity nodded.

“I think the drugs are working extremely well on her,” the nurse interrupted them gently. “Don’t worry. It happens sometimes.”

“I was telling Dr Ross, I mean Dr Gavin, about how you’re not my boyfriend. Because my boyfriend has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen and I really hope our babies will have his eyes too.”

“Hum… yes, I know, I was there.” Tommy said slowly, blinking. “But why are you talking about kids in the first place, that I don’t know.”

“I’m not talking about kids. I’m talking about our children, Tommy. I want to have Oliver’s eyes. Wait, no. I want them to have Oliver’s eyes.” She paused, gasping, her eyes so wide it was almost comical. “Oh no! I wasn’t supposed to tell you! I want babies with Oliver one day.”

“I’ll look for a sling for your arm and come back as soon as possible,” the nurse interrupted them with a soft voice before leaving the room.

Tommy looked at Felicity with a small smile before sitting back on his chair next to her bed. So apparently whatever drugs they gave her also made her very chatty… and it involved Oliver. Now this is going to be interesting... “So… you want Oliver’s babies, don’t you?”

“Well, duh! Have you seen him? How can I not want his babies. He does things to my ovaries,” Felicity explained while taking a small sip of water from the cup the nurse had given her. “Not sexual things, don’t worry. That would be painful and… biologically impossible.” She frowned, pausing. “I think.”

“Well that’s a relief,” Tommy nodded.

“I’m not sure, though. Have you ever done things to your girlfriends’ ovaries before?”

“I… err… I,” Tommy stuttered, scratching his ear. “I don’t think so?”

She looked at him with a frown, obviously unsatisfied with his answer and he shifted on his chair, hoping she wouldn’t push the topic. He didn’t really want to talk about ovaries with Felicity.

“Where is he, Tommy?” she asked suddenly in a small voice, miles away from the cheerful tone she had had until then, all talk about ovaries apparently forgotten.

Tommy winced, cursing his best friend for probably the hundredth time that night. “I don’t know, Felicity. But he’ll be here as soon as he can.”

“What if they hurt him?”

“No, they found no one in the street. His car was missing. I think he probably panicked and ran away and Mister Diggle went after him. Try not to worry,” Tommy reassured her, patting her hand. “I asked a nurse to get in touch with one of my dad’s employees to tell him where we are. He’ll let Oliver know as soon as he can.”

Felicity sniffled, resting her head against the pillows. “He’s going to blame himself, you know.”

“Well, he better,” Tommy groaned. “Why did he even run away like that before making sure-”

“He didn’t know. I thought I was fine. I really thought I was fine, Tommy. Oh no,” she wailed suddenly. “My dress. It’s ruined, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Tommy grimaced. “They had to cut it to change your clothes.”

“Oliver wanted to do naughty things with me in that dress. He wanted me to wear it for a special occasion again. I ruined it, Tommy. I ruined a future sexcapade. I love sexcapades. I didn’t know I liked them but I really do.”

Tommy stared at her, taken aback by her sudden… openness. So good drugs made Felicity chatty, very comfortable… and sharing. Very sharing, actually.

“That’s… I mean it’s a pity but I’m sure he won’t really care as long as you’re safe.”

“He’s going to be so worried. I don’t want him to be worried. Why hasn’t he called me?”

“Because they took our phones, remember?”

“Oh. Yes. Rude.”

Tommy smiled at her little pout, then pulled his chair closer to her bed. This was his chance. “So… Oliver and you?”

Felicity let out a big sigh. “I love him so much.”

I guess that means yes.

“I think he loves you too.”

“Yes. He tells me. Every day," she grinned with a small giggle. “He even left a post-it on the mirror of my bathroom on Thursday morning. With a little heart in each corner.”

Little hearts…?

“So… he spent the night at your place, I guess? And last weekend?” he asked sneakily. So he had been right, that goofy smile on Oliver had been because he had spent the weekend with her. Now why had he lied about it, that was another question.

“Yes. All weekend.”

“I thought so.”  

“I mean we have a lot of sex to catch up on.”

Very sharing, indeed.  

Tommy pinched his lips, nodding. “I can imagine.”

“My poor chairs though.”

“You broke a chair?”

“No. I wish we did. But we didn’t have the time to do it on a chair. It’s not fair, Tommy. It’s not fair because I’m a woman.”

“... yeah,” Tommy replied, confused. “But I’m sure Oliver is very glad that you are.”

Felicity closed her eyes, exhaling slowly. “... I think so yes. We had a lot of sex.”

“Yes,” he coughed. “You already told me.”

“He’s just…” she slurred, her head swinging, “very, very good at sexing me up.”

“... I’m very happy to know that… kind of…” he trailed off, wondering what the hell they had given her exactly. He was pretty sure she’d never, in a billion years, talk that way with him under normal circumstances or even completely drunk.

“I love him. I love him so much, Tommy. He drives me crazy sometimes but… he’s the only one for me.”

“I’m sure he knows it,” Tommy smiled, relieved that the conversation was straying away from her sex life.

“Do you still have the poem you wrote me?”  

“Yes. It’s at my place.”

“I should write one for him too.”

“I… I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” Especially high as a kite as you are.

Felicity turned her head, raising her hand and wiggling her finger to ask him to come closer. As soon as he was within her reach, she grabbed his tie, with much more strength he thought she had.

“I said I wanted to write a poem, Merlyn. So go get some paper and a pen because we are going to write a fucking poem,” she said calmly, her eyes wide, nostrils flaring.

What is it with these two and making me write poems?!

She pulled on his tie until he didn’t have the choice but to nod. He gulped, wincing. Drugs or no drugs, Miss Felicity had quite the grip. “Alright! I’ll get some paper!”

Felicity released him with a smile, patting his tie. “Good boy.”

He went to get some paper at the nurse's station, who told him she had reached someone at Merlyn Global and they were letting his father know where they were. He thanked her, wishing Oliver would get there quickly. He wasn’t sure exactly how long he’d be able to keep Felicity’s mind off of his absence… and her hands off his tie.

“Alright. Paper and pen,” he announced as he closed the door behind him.

“You’re gonna have to write,” Felicity said. “I don’t think I’d be able to hold the paper.”

“... of course, I’ll write,” Tommy mumbled, adding this to the long list of things he had done for his best friend.  

He sat down on the chair then pulled the small table near him, waiting patiently. Felicity was looking at the ceiling, a serious expression on her face. He smiled, amused to see her so focused and so out of it at the same time.

“Oliver,” she started. “Your eyes are so blue, they turn me into a pile of goo.”

Tommy scribbled down, raising his eyebrows. Apparently, Felicity was as talented as Oliver when it came to poetry. This was bound to get interesting.

“The first time I saw your chopper

I almost fell over.”

… your chopper? What the fuck is…

“Tommy,” Felicity clucked her tongue with an impatient wave of her hand, forcing him to focus on writing.

“Yeah, sorry,” he mumbled, writing down and wondering what the hell a chopper was.

“Like a proud stalk of celery,

It made my eyes teary.

I always wanted to know

What it’s like to ride an elephant

And even my mother’s dildo

Is not as elegant

As your pink torpedo.”

Tommy froze, the pen digging into the paper. He slowly raised his head, staring at her. “Is… are you… are you talking about…”

She can’t be serious. She can’t… she’s not making me write an ode to my best friend’s dick, is she?!

“Keep writing, Merlyn… as elegant as your pink torpedo… yes, perfect.”

I’m gonna need a shower. With bleach.

He was still trying to recover when nurse Jackie walked back inside the room, carrying a blue sling. “Time to try this one on, Felicity.”

“Oh thank God,” he cried out, hiding his face behind his hand. Pink torpedo… Pink torpedo… how did she even come up with that one...

“Tommy. You gotta look,” Felicity scolded him. “So you can show Oliver.”

“Yeah… sorry,” he coughed, watching closely as the nurse was wrapping Felicity’s arm.

“So, a doctor will come tomorrow morning to officially discharge you. We’ll give you some painkillers too. If you need some during the night, just ring the bell, alright?” the nurse asked as she patted the pillow underneath Felicity, helping her lie down. She then went to grab her file and scribbled down what Tommy assumed was instructions for the morning nurse.

“So, where were we?” Felicity asked, biting her bottom lip.

“You mean you’re not done?” he squeaked. 

“What? Of course not. I have an IQ of 170, Tommy, I can do much more than that,” Felicity snorted. “So, what’s the last thing you wrote?”

Tommy gulped, glancing at the nurse who, fortunately, wasn’t paying attention to them. “... pink torpedo,” he murmured, feeling a slight blush creeping on his cheeks.

“Right. Your schmuck is-”

“Your what?!”

“It’s Yiddish for-”

“I get it,” Tommy hurried to say, feeling a drop of sweat running down his forehead. What was taking the nurse so long? What was taking Oliver so long?! “How… how do you even spell that?”

And how many synonyms does she know for penis?!

“S-c-h-m-u-c-k. Schmuck. So, your schmuck is mighty fine, your abs are so divine, I’ma... I'ma..." she trailed off, her eyes frowning before fist pumping suddenly. "I'ma climb you like a pine!”

Tommy covered his mouth with a trembling hand, a part of his brain shutting down in self-defense, knowing he would probably need therapy by the end of the night. "Felicity we... we're not alone," he said miserably, throwing a quick glance at the nurse who was still safely hiding her face.

"Oh. Ooooooh, sorry," Felicity answered, looking at the nurse before dropping her voice to a stage whisper. "I said: Your schmuck is mighty fine, your abs are so divine, I'ma climb you like a pine."

"You... you're just as loud..." Tommy murmured, biting his lips, but Felicity ignored him, already focusing on her next lines.

“And I solemnly claim tonight,

Witnessed by nurse Jackie

and your friend Tommy Merlee-”

“It’s… Merlyn."

“It doesn’t rhyme, you doofus. So nurse Jackie and Tommy Merlee. Are you even writing?!” Felicity screeched, her nostrils flaring.

“I am, I am!” Tommy said hurriedly, trying to remember the nonsense she had been rambling. “What… what did you say again?”

Felicity sighed deeply, shaking her head.

“And I solemnly claim tonight,

Witnessed by nurse Jackie

And your friend Tommy Merlee

The property right

Over your love twinkie.”

“... love twinkie,” Tommy murmured in a pained voice. Love twinkie. I am writing love twinkie on paper and there is a cute nurse witnessing it. This is the worst night of my life.

Felicity grabbed the paper as soon as he was finished and he exhaled, relieved that she was finally done.

The nurse coughed, hiding her face behind Felicity’s health file. Tommy quickly glanced at her, their eyes meeting and he mouthed an apology. He saw her shoulders shaking and she quickly shook her head while Felicity was quietly reciting her poem from the start.

“I… I wanna add a little something,” Felicity mumbled, giving him back the sheet of paper.

“Really?” he squeaked. “A-again?”

“Yes, I don’t think it’s enough. Do you think it’s enough?”

“Hell yes,” he exhaled, closing his eyes. “I think he’ll… really get the picture. Just like I did, actually. Technicolor, megapixels kind of picture. 3D and all that jazz, even.”

“I’m not sure. I think I could do better. Like… really show he’s my man. I mean did you see all those women tonight? They were all over him,” she explained, scrunching her nose. “If only they knew what we did in that bathroom,” she added with a proud little smirk.

Please, please don’t tell me what you did in that bathroom.

 

***

 

Oliver ran inside the hospital while Dig was parking the car. He hurried to the ER, where he was sent to the third floor. When he was finally told Felicity’s room number, and that she was recovering, he felt a little bit of his fear subsiding. She was in recovery. Whatever she had, it wasn’t life-threatening. She was going to be fine.

He was about to knock on the door when it opened suddenly, a nurse facing him. She was wearing a big grin on her face and before he could ask if it was the right room, he heard Felicity’s voice. A very unusual, theatrical voice, to be precise.

“And now I’m the only chick who gets to suck his -” The rest of her sentence was muffled and inaudible as if someone was silencing her, but the rhyme left very little to the imagination. Oliver’s eyebrows reached his hairline as the nurse stifled her laugh behind her hands, passing by him.

“Ow!” Tommy’s yelp reached him and it was enough to shake him out of his trance. What the hell…

“You bit me!”

“Why did you cover my mouth?!”

“Because… you were about to… in front of… like… Damnit Miss Felicity, stop grabbing my tie!”

Oliver’s jaw dropped at the sight of the scene that welcomed him. Tommy was hovering over Felicity, shaking his hand with a grimace on his face. Felicity’s hair was all over the place, and she was wearing a hospital gown and a sling over her left arm, her free hand holding Tommy’s tie as if it was a leash.

Felicity gasped when she saw him, a happy smile stretching her lips. “Oliver!”

Tommy turned his head, his face relaxing once he saw him. “Oh thank God!” he murmured, dropping his head against Felicity’s pillow.

Shaking his head, Oliver closed the door behind him. “Honey, are you OK?”

“I am peachy!” Felicity nodded enthusiastically. “But I think Tommy knows we’re dating.”

Judging by the conversation he had interrupted and the deeply uncomfortable expression on his best friend’s face, Oliver had a strong suspicion it wasn’t the only thing he knew.

“It’s OK,” he smiled reassuringly, carefully sitting next to her on the bed and bringing her hand to his lips. She was fine. She was OK, and she was smiling at him. It was honestly all that mattered at that moment. They’d deal with the rest later.

“I… I’m gonna leave you to it, then,” Tommy cleared his throat then straightened his tie.

“Can you get me some skittles?” Felicity asked with a small pout.

“I… I don’t have my wallet with me. They took it.”

“I have Felicity’s purse,” Oliver said, holding it out.

“How…”

“They dropped it when they ran away,” Oliver explained shortly before opening the purse and fishing out a small pouch, handing it to Tommy.

Tommy frowned, looking at him but he didn’t ask any more questions, probably choosing to escape the room as soon as possible instead.

“My dress is ruined,” Felicity sighed as soon as they were alone.

“It doesn’t matter,” he shook his head, stroking her hand.

“But…”

“I’ll buy you another one. I’ll hire a fashion designer if you want to. What happened?”

“I don’t know,” she frowned. “I didn’t even realize something was wrong. I felt a bit dizzy, Tommy helped me and I noticed my back was wet. I thought someone had spilled their drink but I was bleeding. Through and through, they said. I’ll be fine.”

“I’m so sorry, baby,” he murmured, lowering his eyes. “I should have never left.”

“It’s not your fault. I thought I was fine. And you brought my purse back,” she grinned. “My knight in shining armor.”

“And Tommy kept you company.”

“Yes. We had a good time, too. Although he does frown a lot. I never noticed that.”

“I think he was worried about you.”

“I think he almost fainted twice,” Felicity whispered. “But he told me not to tell you. Oh. Damn. I just did.”

Oliver grinned, reaching out to push back a strand of hair behind her ear. Felicity moaned, leaning into his touch like she always did and he felt his heart swelling with the love he felt for her at that moment.

A small knock interrupted them, just before Dig’s face appeared in the doorframe. “I know it’s late but…”

“Dig!” Felicity squealed. “Come in!”

Tommy followed Dig, handing Felicity two bags of skittles before shoving his hands in his pockets. “Hum… I think I should head back home. Oliver… a word, please?”

Oliver frowned, unwilling to leave Felicity’s side.

“You can go, Oliver. Dig will keep me company. He likes the orange skittles.”

He huffed out a laugh, standing up before brushing a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll be right outside.”

“Alright, young lady. Let’s attack those skittles, shall we,” Dig said as he sat down on the chair Tommy had vacated.

“What is it, Tommy?” Oliver said as soon as they were in the hallway, already itching to go back inside.

“Where were you?”

“... what?”

“Where were you? You ran away. Left her all alone. Your girlfriend. It’s nice to know I wasn’t wrong I guess but I thought you had a hook-up, not that you were back in a relationship with your former girlfriend since you know… you pretended to be single.”

“Tommy… I just… don’t know. I ran after them and then I… I just followed them as far as I could.”

“Why?” Tommy asked, crossing his arms. “Seriously why would you even follow six dudes with automatic weapons?”

“I don’t know. I just acted out of instinct. I thought she was fine. I wouldn’t have left if I had known she was hurt, Tommy.”

“She told me the same thing. But dude… that was some douchey move. Even by your standards.”

“I’m not proud of that,” Oliver sighed, rubbing his forehead. “I honestly don’t know what got into me, Tommy.”

“... I guess if she forgives you, I have no reason to hold a grudge myself. But why are you guys hiding?”

“I told you… I just don’t want her to be confronted with this… media circus.”

“Well it’s calming down. I mean people know you’re back and have gotten back to their normal lives. You should do the same. Unless… is there something you’re not telling me?”

“No. I just… we want to take things slow, no pressure, just the two of us and we found it easier to do so by keeping a low profile.”

“Well it’s your choice,” Tommy shrugged. “Don’t know how you managed to stay away from her tonight though because that dress…”   

“I know,” Oliver smirked. “I don’t know either to be honest.”

“Although apparently you had a little sexcapade in a bathroom, so I don’t feel too bad for you,” Tommy said innocently. “Felicity has been very chatty. I don’t know what kind of drugs they gave her but… you’re in for quite a night. You’re staying with her, right?”

“Yes. I’m not leaving her side. Thank you for staying with her. I mean it.”

Tommy sighed. “You owe me one, dude. Not because I stayed with your girlfriend who was injured but… you have no idea what she made me do.”

“She bit you, I saw,” Oliver snickered.

Tommy looked around him, then lowered his voice. “She made me write a poem, Ollie. She wanted you to know… that she loves you or something but I’m afraid she forgot that after the first line.”

Oliver tilted his head, confused.

“Your dick. She made me write a poem about your dick,” Tommy hissed. “And I can guarantee you, you are Edgar Allan Poe compared to her. Although she has quite the vocabulary, I’ll give her that.”

“... What?” Oliver chuckled. “She... what?”

“Schmuck. Did you know that schmuck is a yiddish word for penis? Because I do now. She even made sure I knew how to spell it!”

“I… I’m sorry?” Oliver said, his mouth twitching. Although Felicity making sure Tommy knew how to spell a word was very her.

“You should be. I know stuff about you that I wish I didn’t know. Anyway… I’m gonna head back home.”

“Do you have a ride?”

“... No. And no money either, actually,” Tommy groaned, dropping his head.

“If you can wait a little longer, I’ll ask Dig to drop you?” Oliver offered as he opened the door.

“That’d be great.”

“And he makes the best bagels and cream cheese in the whole world, Dig. And he gives the best foot massages, too. And-”

“Yes, Felicity. We get the picture,” Tommy said with a deep resigned sigh, letting everyone know he had probably heard it all before. Oliver knew he should feel sorry for his friend but… all he could do was smile. She was so adorable, so very un-Felicity and so very her at the same time, awakening something inside him that he couldn’t quite identify but that made him feel warm and fuzzy.

Felicity gasped in shock, her head snapping to Oliver. “You told him about our pictures?!”

Oliver blinked, searching his memory while Dig and Tommy groaned uncomfortably.

“I’m kidding! We never took pics! Well not that kind at least,” she snorted, looking at them before falling into a giggle fit. “You should see your faces!”   

The three men stared at her patiently while she was wiping the tears from her cheeks, her laughter slowly calming down.

Taking a deep breath, she eventually sobered up, clearing her throat. “We should totes make a sex tape though.”

“OK, I’m out,” Dig said, standing up. “Tommy, do you need a ride?”

“Oh yes, please. Please take me far away from here,” Tommy said as he grabbed his jacket and put it on.

“Oliver?” Dig asked as he patted Felicity’s leg.

“I’m good, don’t worry. Would you mind picking us up tomorrow morning though?”

“No problem. Just give me a call when you’re ready to leave.”   

“Thanks,” Oliver nodded while Dig leaned in, kissing Felicity on the head.  

“Miss Felicity, rest well and… for both our sakes we’ll pretend tonight never happened,” Tommy said before squeezing her hand.

“Okey dokey,” Felicity said, her mouth full of skittles.

Tommy stopped by Oliver before leaving the room, gripping his shoulder. “Good luck, man… good luck.”

Getting rid of his jacket, Oliver pulled the chair closer to her bed before sitting.

“Skittle?” Felicity offered. “It’s what you got me in Vegas, do you remember?”

Oliver smiled, remembering it perfectly - just like he could remember every single detail about her. “Yeah, I do. But no, thank you.”

He gently grabbed the hand that was in the sling, slowly stroking the tips of her fingers, her other hand being too busy shoving candy in her mouth. He had to touch her. He had to feel her skin against his, reassure himself that she was alive and well. Her nail polish was chipped and he had to resist the urge to kiss her knuckles.

They stayed silent for a little while, Felicity munching on her skittles while he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. When she was finally done, he took the empty package from her hand, throwing it in the trashcan, then offered her a glass of water that she gulped down. He lowered the bed for her afterwards, making sure the blankets were covering her and finally he was able to hold her hand like he wanted to. She smiled, turning her head to face him as he softly kissed her palm.

“Are you OK?” he asked, resting his arm on the pillow above her head, his fingers lazily stroking her forehead.

“Yes. I’m better now. I was worried about you.”

Oliver bit his lips, feeling a lump in his throat. “I was alright, baby. I’m so sorry.”

“Shhh… enough with that. You’re here now. Tommy kept me company.”

“I should have been there,” he murmured, ashamed of himself. To think about what could have happened, the fear he had felt when he had seen her coat and the blood on the floor… He felt his eyes burn and he blinked, taking a deep breath. “It’s my biggest fear, you know. That something happens to you.”

Felicity looked at him quietly, her eyes more focused than when he had walked into the room. Apparently she was slowly becoming herself again, the drugs probably wearing off.

“You’re so hot when you wear suspenders,” she said with a sigh.

 … Or not.

He huffed out a laugh, shaking his head. “I figured you liked them, yeah.”

“I can’t believe we had sex in your mother’s bathroom. And it was some a-ma-zing sex, Oliver. My legs were wobbly. Wobbly!”

“Hum… maybe we should stay quiet about that. I don’t think you’d want my mother to find out.”

She grinned, entwining their fingers. “Definitely not. But we’ll have to do that again. Not in her bathroom but… I’m game for limo sex anytime.”

“Duly noted.”

“And I love you. I don’t think I’ve told you today.”

“God, I love you too,” he whispered, caressing her hair, watching her face relaxing under his touch.

“Your hands are always so tender,” she whispered, her eyes getting sleepy, fluttering shut. “They’re big and strong but when you touch me, I feel… cherished. I never felt that way before. I missed your touch so much, Oliver. And your eyes. And your voice. You always had that special voice you used for me. It made me feel all gooey inside.”

Oliver smiled, allowing himself those little moments to savor her voice. She had always been very closed off when it came to expressing her feelings and it felt good to see her opening up. He knew it was probably the drugs relaxing her but truth be told he couldn’t bring himself to interrupt her.

“You know, I kept thinking you’d have wanted a dog by now. I don’t know why but… it always came back to me. You’d want a dog and maybe we would even be talking about a family or moving in together. Do you want a dog?”

“... yeah. I’d really like a dog. And a family one day too.”

“Boy or girl?”

“Girl.” God yes… a girl. A little devil, like her mother, that would have him wrapped around her finger. A sweet, adorable babbling little devil. He gulped then, suddenly understanding the feeling that had taken over him when he had walked into the room, when he had seen Felicity, so very her but at the same time so different. It was their unborn daughter he had seen in her eyes.

“Really?” Felicity grinned, her eyes closing. “I’d like a boy. A mini you. We could name him Robbie if you want to.”

“I think my dad would be really proud,” Oliver said in a small voice, already seeing that future ahead of them, so close yet still so out of reach. He wanted it, he wanted it so much that he could feel the need burning his insides.

“But we’ll travel before that. I want to go to Europe with you. I want to kiss you in every city I always dreamed to go,” she mumbled, her voice getting weaker.

“I want to take you to Bali. I never went there.”

“We’ll go to Bali before we have kids.”

“Yes,” he promised. They’d go anywhere she wanted. If she wanted to drop everything, he would. They’d travel the world for as long as she wanted, settling down wherever she wanted.

“I want a swing on the front porch, too.”

Oliver grinned, his thumb tracing small circles on her temple. “You’ll get a swing on the front porch, then.”

“And you’ll bring me breakfast in bed on Sundays?” she murmured, her voice thick with fatigue.

“I’m even ready to do it on Saturdays too, if you want to,” he chuckled. She was about to say something else, despite the fact that she was obviously on the edge of falling asleep and fighting it, and he added, “why don’t you get to sleep?”

“Don’t want to.”

“Why?” Oliver grinned at at her stubbornness. Her eyes were closed, her head tilting to his direction and he knew she could probably be asleep in a minute if she wasn’t so stubborn.

“Because then you’ll be gone,” Felicity whispered, her voice sad and heavy with pain.

The smile slipped off Oliver’s face as she finally drifted to sleep, her hand now limp in his.

“... I still dreamed of you. There were mornings where I would wake up and cling to those dreams desperately. I didn’t want to open my eyes, I didn’t want to get up because I knew that you weren’t by my side.”

“Oh baby,” he breathed, realizing she had talked to him as if he was still gone.

He pressed a kiss on her lips, gulping, trying to get rid of the giant lump in his throat. He rubbed his eyes, sniffling, willing to keep his emotions at bay. She needed him, right now. She needed him to be strong. But all he could think about was that fear he had felt for a few seconds before his mother had reassured him. That terrible fear of thinking the love of his life might have been ripped away from him… that fear that was only a fear, unlike what Felicity had gone through.

Life was fragile. He was the living proof of that. No matter how much he wanted to protect her, she had been in danger. Not because of him, personally. She had attended the reception because of her job. He couldn’t wrap her in bubble paper, he couldn’t protect her 24/7.

Every day had to be worth it. Every moment they had together had to be worth it. Because it could be the last. And he had so many things he wanted to live with her, wanted to share with her.

Now he understood. He understood why she was sometimes reckless, rushing in head first. She knew, much better than he ever would, that one day they might run out of time. She didn’t want to wait, didn’t want to waste a single day because it might be their last together. He never wanted to think about the possibility of facing a life without her so he had avoided lingering on those thoughts. But Felicity… Felicity had lived with his absence in a more brutal way than he had.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered in the silent room, even though she couldn’t hear him.

They would get their swing on the porch. They would go to Bali and he’d kiss her in London, in Paris, in Venice, or anywhere she’d want to. He would make her breakfast in bed and join her, and their dog, and then their daughter and their son when the time was right. He would love her, every single day, with all his heart and all his soul, so if either of them was to die before the other, they would have no regrets.

“You’ll never have to dream of me ever again,” he murmured with one last kiss on her forehead before switching off the light. He dried the tears that had fallen on his cheeks, his hand covering hers. "I promise you."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“So, Rupert Colt clearly seems to be a suspect, right?” Felicity said as she rested her head against the back of her couch.

Oliver winced, hating how exhausted she looked. She was unusually pale with dark circles underneath her eyes, and an almost permanent grimace of pain had taken over her face ever since the early hours of the day. She had woken up around 4AM, moaning in discomfort and it had taken thirty minutes for the nurse to stop by and the painkiller to really be effective.

“Yes,” Oliver nodded nonetheless, pacing in front of her window. Felicity had insisted on working on whatever she had found on QC’s servers as soon as they had made it to her apartment. Dig had gone to get some breakfast for the three of them while she was running her searches and usual scans to fish out the interesting information. If there was anything to be found, that was. “Baby, are you sure you’re-”

“For goodness sake, Oliver. I am OK. Yes it hurts but fortunately, my shoulder was hit, not my brain,” she groaned, throwing him a dirty look. “Also I am right-handed so I’m not completely useless. It takes me longer, yes, but I’m getting there.”

Oliver folded his lips over his teeth, nodding. Felicity had been very snappy since she had woken up, a combination of pain, lack of sleep, and probably shock wearing off. Not to mention, the lack of coffee was probably only making things worse. Again, he hoped that Dig would bring her favorite pastries because it really looked like she needed something sweet.

Fortunately, Dig knew her well. Thirty minutes later, she was much calmer, finishing a blueberry muffin and her cappuccino with a contented sigh as Oliver was telling her exactly what he had found with Dig when he had followed the gunmen to the docks.

“Wait… what?” Felicity asked, putting her cup back on the table.

“They didn’t care about what they took at all.”

“But… why? That makes… and they killed everyone apart from the leader? It… it makes no sense!”

“That’s not all, Felicity,” Dig said, quickly glancing at Oliver.

“That warehouse… there was something inside already,” Oliver said quietly, staring at his coffee as the vision of the wreckage played in front of his eyes. He eventually took a deep breath. “The Gambit. Well... what’s left of it.”

Felicity’s jaw dropped as shock appeared on her face. She blinked several times, her eyes moving from Oliver to Dig. Eventually, she took a breath. “You know what that means, right?”

“Hum…maybe?” Dig answered, unsure. “I mean, obviously the agency lied. The Gambit was never destroyed and therefore… maybe their files never were either. Unless they were stored there too.”

“Well, yes, there is that and if we want to know for sure we’ll have to look for answers ourselves,” Felicity answered, munching on her bottom lip.

Look for answers ourselves… She wasn’t planning another secret mission, was she?

“Felicity,” Oliver started in a warning tone but she just waved him off.

“What I mostly meant was that whoever is behind the attack at QC last night is also behind the Gambit, and probably everything else,” she continued. “But all of Starling’s elite were there, how could they risk so much?”

“Maybe the risk was worth it. What better way to avoid suspicion than to have them attacked directly as well?” Oliver said, shrugging. Thinking about it… it made sense. It was risky and reckless, yes but… maybe it had been much more controlled than they had thought?

“And with the people injured and killed, it’s like a giant game of Russian roulette,” Dig stated calmly before leaning back against his chair. “Two died, and fifteen were wounded, including three who are in a very critical condition.”

“Do you have the names?” Felicity asked before standing up. She went to put her empty cup in the trash can while Oliver started to clear the table with Dig’s help.

“Yes. And I found something interesting. The woman they pulled out and killed? She was the wife of one of the names on our list. Sounds like a familiar modus operandi, doesn’t it?”

“... Indeed,” Felicity breathed, her eyes meeting Oliver’s. “Could it be a warning then? I mean…”

“If some are getting wary like my dad was… it was probably a giant warning. What better way to make sure everyone behaves than showing them that literally nothing can stop them?”

“That means that there is someone in charge. Someone who keeps everyone in check. A leader, of some sort. Or several leaders.”

“I need to do some research about the husband of that poor woman. See if anything unusual happened to him. Maybe I’ll find a connection,” Felicity mumbled as she pulled her laptop closer to her. “But first… Robert’s personal files. And… more coffee,” she added with a pleading look.

Oliver shook his head. “Are you sure it’s a good idea? You promised the doc to rest and you won’t be able to sleep with all that caffeine.”

“Honey, please. I’m almost immune to caffeine,” Felicity deadpanned. “Also he gave me a couple of days off anyway. I’ll let you scold me tomorrow all you want but right now, I need my energy boost.”

“I thought you were immune to caffeine?” he teased her before dropping a kiss on her forehead and heading to the coffee maker. He knew there was no point in battling with her and he’d rather her sitting at the table than getting busy in the kitchen anyway.

By the time he was back with a hot mug of coffee, she had run a search on her desk computer for Dylan Stern, the husband of the woman who had been executed. She quickly explained to them what to look for, leaving them in charge of that while she was focusing on his father’s files.

“Wait… did you hack into his bank account?” Dig asked suddenly.

“... Maybe?” Felicity answered hesitantly. “Oh, come on, you guys know me! I love money trails!”

Oliver shared a glance with Dig, fighting back a smile. They both started to dive into all the tabs Felicity had opened for them, making sure to triple check everything.

“By the way, what did you tell your mom?” Felicity asked suddenly. He had called Moira earlier in the morning while the doctor was checking her out, making sure everything was alright on their side.

Oliver cleared his throat. “Nothing much. Just that I’ll stop by for dinner.”

“Was she alright?”

“Yes. Shaken, obviously. But she was too busy handling everything with the police and so on to be really wondering about me.”

“Makes sense actually,” Felicity agreed. “I mean we were lucky to avoid the press at the hospital, but it’s probably because they’re mostly gathered around QC. What a mess it…” she trailed off, causing Oliver to glance at her in concern, worried she might be in pain again. She had taken another painkiller in the morning but maybe she needed another one and…

“That’s…” she said in a small voice, her eyes glued to the screen.

In an instant he was up, hurrying towards her, Dig following him. “Felicity?”

She gaped at them, her eyes blinking as she turned the laptop sideways. Oliver saw plans, but nothing that actually made much sense to him.

“What are we supposed to be looking at?” Dig asked, voicing his confusion.

“Blueprints. Of the factory that blew up four years ago,” Felicity explained slowly.

“That you found in my dad’s files?”

“Yes.”

“Alright but this doesn’t mean anything maybe he looked at it afterwards or the insurance sent it to him or…”

Felicity shook her head, her finger pointing to a small date on the bottom of the screen.

“What…” Oliver started, mentally counting the days. “That was at least a week before…”

“Yes. One week before the explosion. The date is the last time something was done with the file. It was sent to the printer, Oliver.”

Oliver straightened, rubbing his forehead. “You mean… no. That’s… no.”

Dig sat down, facepalming. “Your dad checked the plans of a factory, printed them and one week later that factory blew up. And we know it was arson. Oliver…”

“It can’t be, Dig. It’s just… no. My dad wouldn’t have done that,” Oliver said, shaking his head. No way. No way his father would have done that on purpose. No way would he have been alright with the murder of innocent people. Corruption, yes. But this? No. It was impossible.

He sat down next to Felicity, unable to focus on anything.

“Oliver… whatever happened, whoever made the call… we know your father regretted everything and wanted to walk away. It counts for something,” Dig said while Felicity was still busy typing on her laptop.

Oliver shook his head, his hand covering his mouth. Eventually, he took a deep breath before facing his friend. “I’m not sure it really does, Dig. He knew. At the very least… he knew. How could… how could he let it happen? He is probably the one who provided the information.”

Felicity suddenly let out a low whistle. “OK… this is getting interesting.”

His shoulders slumping, Oliver asked, “what is it?”

“Hum. There were other blueprints. From two other factories. Including the foundry. Our foundry.”

“What? But nothing happened to that factory,” Dig said with a frown. “It closed, yes but that’s all.”

“Well I don’t know what the plan was exactly but I found blueprints for the foundry, the factory that blew up and another one just outside of Starling.”

Dig tilted his head. “Maybe they were looking for something specific like…”

“Like the best candidate? Patient zero, or something? We know that the explosion actually kept QC from paying severance packages and the production was sent to Mexico… in short, QC had some clear benefits,” Felicity explained as she shifted on her chair, her hand reaching out to rest comfortingly on Oliver’s leg.

“Oliver, don’t let this get in your head too much. We will eventually find out what happened to your father. We already knew he was involved and hopefully we’ll uncover everything,” Dig stated calmly before pausing and reaching inside his pocket. He fished out his cell phone then quickly excused himself before picking it up and walking to Felicity’s bedroom.

As soon as he was out of the room, Felicity turned around to face him. “Are you OK?”

Oliver shrugged, unable to answer because he honestly wasn’t even sure how he felt. Confused, that was for sure.

“I just feel like the more I want to find out who killed my father, the more I find out about who he really was… and I’m not sure who’s the villain in the story anymore,” he eventually admitted quietly.

Felicity was about to answer when Dig walked back in the room. “It was one of my contacts. The warehouse we visited yesterday? It’s gone. A fire. There is nothing left, everything has gone to ashes.”

“What?!” Felicity asked with a gasp while Oliver rested his elbows on the table, hiding his face behind his hands.

“I’m going to check that out. Then I’ll have to stop at QC, we have a special meeting about tightening the security. I’ll come back as soon as I can,” Dig said as he put his jacket on. “Oliver, I know you probably wanted to go back there but… I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have found any evidence anyway.”

“Still. I just feel like for every step forward, we’re taking two backwards.”

“Don’t think like that. We have a lot of clues now, even if no evidence. Look for intel about Dylan Stern, Rupert Colt. Those are clues we didn’t have 24 hours ago, Oliver. Hopefully I will also learn a few things on my side. We’re moving forward.”

With one last reassuring smile, Dig left, letting Oliver lock up behind him.

“He’s right, you know,” Felicity’s soft voice reached him as he was still staring at the door. “We made a lot of progress since last night. It might not seem like it but we did.”

“I know. I just… it’s not exactly the progress I was hoping to make, I guess.”

“You saw the Gambit… are you alright? I know it must have been hard, especially since it was out of the blue,” Felicity asked with concern, squeezing his hand.

“I don’t know, honestly,” he admitted quietly. “In a way it’s still my worst nightmare even though it was just a stupid boat. But it changed my whole life and not really for the best. And learning that about my dad is just…”

“I know. It’s a lot. Don’t jump to conclusions, Dig is right. We learned a lot of things and yes, it doesn’t look good but if I’ve learned one thing these last five months or so is that nothing is ever simple.”

Oliver smiled, picking up her hand and kissing her knuckles. “You always find a way to make everything better. How do you do that?”

“It’s a gift,” she grinned with a proud little smirk. “I also know you very well… which helps. Tremendously.”

“You know… I thought a lot last night,” Oliver said, feeling it was time for him to share with her what had been in the back of his mind all morning.

Felicity winced. “Please let’s not mention that… thing I found on the table.”

Oliver snorted. “No, it’s not about the poem.”

“Don’t call it that,” she groaned, dropping her head back.

“Hey! I love that poem. It’s very good for my ego.”

“I still can’t believe I said all these things and don’t even remember it. I’ll never be able to look at Tommy ever again. Or that nurse.”

“I have to admit I’m very impressed with your vocabulary. That was some extensive slang knowledge,” Oliver snorted, patting her thigh. “I just find it very interesting that what was apparently a poem about your love for me turned into this after one line. Some might think you’re with me for my sexual prowess.”

“I am with you for your sexual prowess,” Felicity taunted him. “That and your bagels, of course.”

“Not my foot massages?”

“They’re definitely the third reason,” she winked, stroking his jaw before leaning in and pressing a little kiss on the corner of his lips. “But that’s not what you wanted to tell me, right?”

“Nope,” he confirmed with a shake of his head. “I think I should get back to work. At QC, I mean.”

Felicity raised her eyebrows in surprise, her mouth opening in a little o. “Really?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I was thinking last night and then when you were asleep… I need to take charge. And not just so we might get more answers, but also because I feel like it’s the right thing. For my mom, that would lessen the burden on her shoulders. If some people want to approach her again, they might come to me instead. I’ll have access to QC’s servers and archives, our connections, our investors, and so on. It’s just… things would move on faster. I hope so at least. What… what do you think?”

Felicity observed him quietly for a little moment before smiling reassuringly. “I think it’s a good idea. What made you change your mind exactly?”

“Our close call, for one. Then seeing you at the hospital… you… you said something,” he whispered, unsure if he should share with her what she had told him since she was mostly acting that way because of the drugs.

“What did I say?”

“You told me about things you wanted in the future. Travelling. A house. A dog.”

“Oh. I don’t remember,” she frowned. “But… well yes, those are things I’ve thought about. I didn’t freak you out or something, right? Because it’s… just dreams, not plans we have to stick with.”

Oliver smiled, shaking his head. Freaked out? While all he was waiting for was her giving him the thumbs up? “No. Not at all. It’s just… you thought I wasn’t there.”

“Ugh? I thought about those things without you? What kind of drugs did they-”

“No,” Oliver quickly denied. “You didn’t think I was by your side at the hospital. You thought you were dreaming of me.”

“... Oh.”

“Yes…”

“I told you it used to happen to me. I guess I was confused and…” she trailed off with a sheepish smile. “I mean, I know you’re here with me, don’t worry. I’m not going all sixth sense on you.”

Oliver let out a nervous chuckle, lowering his eyes. He wasn’t sure how she would react to his decision and if he was honest with himself, he was more than a little anxious. Felicity’s opinion mattered to him more than anybody else’s and if she thought it was a bad idea then he wasn’t confident he’d be able to go through with it. He would need her support, and her help. “It’s just that… it made me realize a few things,” he finally said. “I have dreams about a life with you too. I had them before and they’re still there. And you were right about what you told me. We already lost so much time. I don’t think I want to spend my days doing nothing while you’re having this amazing career. I need to… I need to do something and I know it will take time for me to actually be of any use at QC so… I should start now.”

Felicity didn’t answer, her silence making him more and more nervous with each second passing. “Do you think it’s a good idea?” he eventually asked, feeling a knot in his stomach at her lack of response.

“Yes,” she finally said. “I think it’s a wonderful idea, actually.”

“Really?”

“Really,” she beamed. “I’m just… I’m really happy that you’re embracing that part of your life again. You were good at your job and also... suits.”

“Suits?” he laughed, relieved. He carefully lifted her from her chair so she could sit on his lap, making sure to not touch her shoulder.

“What can I say… You look mighty fine in a business suit.”

“We’re going to be competitors though.”

“Well we were before too, in a way. Although now… I’m the one with the highest rank,” she smirked proudly as she buried her hand in his hair.

“That you are.”

“Your mom will be very happy. And I think you will too. Which makes me very happy.”

“Happy enough to take a nap?” he asked, remembering the doctor’s orders.

“Happy enough to take a nap with you,” she corrected, stroking the back of his neck lazily. The little light in her eyes let him know directly where her thoughts were straying.

“No,” he said in a firm tone. “You’re wounded.”

“Oxytocin would make everything better, you know.”

“Oxy… what?”

“Oxytocin. You know… the cuddle hormone?”

“So you just want a cuddle, then?”

“... for starters. Oliver, I haven’t seen you naked in a week. A week!”

“... You want a naked cuddle, then.”

Felicity pinched her lips, tilting her head. “Are you really teasing your wounded, sex-deprived girlfriend right now?”

His mouth twitching, Oliver denied. “No. Not to mention we had sex last night. I hardly consider this as deprivation since you know… you seemed thoroughly satisfied. If I remember correctly, your legs were wobbly.”

“Oh God, yes they were,” she groaned. “It was amazing."

“See? I think we should give your legs a break.”

Felicity took a deep breath, rolling her eyes. “You’re just saying that because you’re not sure you can do better.”

“I’m not sure I…” Oliver huffed out a laugh. “Are you really trying reverse psychology on me?”

“I’m desperate.”

“Felicity,” he grinned, shaking his head. “There is no way I’m having sex with you as long as you have a sling.”

“Does it turn you off? Because I don’t have to wear it, it’s just so I don’t put pressure on my arm.”

“I don’t think there is anything about you that could turn me off but-”

“No need for a but, here. I’m perfectly fine with the first part of your sentence. I would be even more fine if we could take that first part to the bedroom.”

“Oh, we are. For a nap,” he added when she beamed at him, before lifting her off his lap. “You’re going to take your med, then go to bed.”

Felicity pouted but didn’t add anything and his suspicions were confirmed. He had seen her shifting on her chair and occasionally wincing but stubborn as she was, she wasn’t about to complain. Thankfully he had helped her shower as soon as they had made it back to her place and she was wearing comfortable clothes, some pajama pants and one of his hoodies which had been much easier to put on than a t-shirt.

He walked to the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water and the small bottle of pills while Felicity made her way to the bedroom. By the time he joined her, she had gotten rid of her slippers and slid underneath the blankets. Wordlessly, she gulped down the pill then settled against the pillows.

Willing to reward her for her accommodating behavior, he took off his shirt, earning a happy sigh from her.

“I already feel much better,” she said, her eyes travelling down his chest. “You’re not taking your pants off?”

“No,” he laughed before slipping underneath the covers next to her. He rolled onto his side, facing her, then pushed back a strand of hair behind her ear as she did the same the best she could, resting on her right side.

“Tell me a story,” she murmured as she shifted against him, snuggling as close as she could, their heads now only inches apart, her fingers stroking his chest.

“About?”

“Anything. Something I don’t know.”

Oliver frowned, searching his mind. There were still so many things she didn’t know about him, some she would probably never find out. But he had promised himself he would try. “I told you about Yao Fei, right?”

“The archer on the island?”

“Yes. He saved me. After a few days, I got really sick. I was dehydrated and I fainted while I was…” he trailed off, swallowing the lump in his throat when he remembered how he had been writing to her, confident that the notebook would be the only thing left of him, hoping she would get it one day and know, without any doubt, how much he had loved her. “I fainted in the forest, and I knew I wouldn’t wake up. But I did. There was a small fire and I was covered in an old blanket. There was some kind of bird cooking and… it smelled heavenly,” Oliver chuckled, remembering how it had smelt like the best thing in the world after days of literally starving. “He gave me water and some kind of herbs to chew, which he had apparently done several times already but I honestly don’t remember it. Long story short… I survived. Those herbs are almost magical, they can cure you of pretty much anything apparently. Or at least make you survive long enough to get better. Anyway… he asked me who I was, where I was from.”

“What about him? Who was he?”

“He was a former Chinese official who had been sent there. The island used to be some kind of… gulag. He was the last survivor of all the prisoners and his government just completely forgot about them. Or didn’t care. He spoke English, which was a relief because as you know… Chinese wasn’t my forte.”

“And the other ones? Who were they? You told me there were three other people with you.”

Oliver closed his eyes, the face of his friend Anatoli dancing in front of his eyes. “Anatoli. He is from Russia. It’s actually thanks to his connections that I made it off of the island for good.”

“So he is still alive?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re not in touch anymore?” Felicity asked with surprise.

“Not really,” Oliver answered. He hadn’t been in touch with Anatoli in weeks. But then again, that’s how it worked in the brotherhood once you left. You didn’t exactly send birthday cards. “We both have very different lives now and we knew it would turn that way. It’s all good.”

“I still feel like sending him a fruit basket though.”

Oliver chortled at the idea of Anatoli, one of the most lethal Bratva captains, receiving an edible arrangement from a bubbly blonde with glasses on the other side of the planet.

“What? Don’t laugh! You said it was thanks to him!”

“My bad. I’ll send him a Christmas card, if you insist.”

“Why, yes, that would be nice,” she said, muffling a yawn and closing her eyes. The painkiller was starting to kick in, he noticed as her face slowly relaxed. That and the lack of sleep from last night and he knew she would probably be out for a few hours.

“What about the third man, who was he? It was a man, right?”

Oliver froze and Felicity must have felt it because her fingers paused as well against his chest before resuming their caress.

“His name was Slade Wilson,” he eventually said. He didn’t add anything else, and she didn’t insist, her breathing evening out. He watched her, forcing himself to keep his thoughts at bay. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about Slade, or even speak his name, in a long time. The shame and guilt were still too overwhelming for him. He had betrayed a man who had become his friend.

Once he was sure Felicity was asleep, he left the bed, leaving his dark thoughts behind him as well. There was no point in reliving the past, especially the parts that hurt the most.

He busied himself by preparing dinner, thankful to find Felicity’s fridge well stocked up, which he had asked her to do while he had been away. He had just finished preparing the bolognese sauce for a lasagna, the ragout gently simmering on the stove, when Dig came back.

“Where is Felicity?” Dig asked as soon as he had draped his jacket on a chair.

“Sleeping.”

“Oh, good. She needs rest.”

“I wish she would see it that way, too,” Oliver snickered as he started to slice some peppers.

“She’s stubborn. What’s new?” Dig laughed as he leaned against the counter. “Anyway Everything from that warehouse is completely gone. Overheard a few forensics techs saying they didn’t know if they could even find anything. Looks like someone used some chemicals to make sure everything would be burnt to the ground.”

“Not surprising, unfortunately. Did they give any hints about the bodies?”

“No. But they were barely starting, so it’s not surprising. If the bodies were still there, they might find a few bones at least.”

“And QC?”

“Queen Consolidated and Merlyn Global will hold a joint press conference later today announcing tightened security as well as other measures but apparently those measures are relating to business because they didn’t mention them during the security meeting. What we know so far is that they shot the guards at the entrance and seemed to know the grounds very well, each and every single exit was covered.”

“So either they took the time to recon or…”

“Or someone clued them in, yes,” Dig nodded, crossing his arms on his chest. “You know, Oliver, I’ve been thinking…”

“Yes?” Oliver asked, wiping his hands on a towel before grabbing a saucepan to make the white sauce.

“I know what your position is about going back to work at QC but-”

“But if tonight proved something it is that I could learn much more from the inside, right?”

“It also gives you a lot of potential alibis.”

“I know. I agree. I’m going to tell my mom I’m going back to work. I talked about it with Felicity while you were gone.”

Dig smiled, nodding in approval. “That’s the right thing to do, you know. Even for later.”

“Yeah. I’ll have to get back to my life eventually. I just honestly have no idea what good I can do there professionally.”

“Your mom will help you. So will Felicity. Tommy could give you a few tips as well. You won’t be alone on that front. It’s just… one step at a time.”

Oliver pondered his words as he finished the white sauce. He knew he was completely out of the loop business-wise. And for someone like him, someone so controlling, it was borderline frightening to jump back into this world. But he knew he had to.

“Why don’t we take advantage of Felicity being completely out to watch football? I have a few beers in my fridge, I can go grab them,” Dig offered eventually, probably noticing his silence.

Oliver glanced at him in surprise. He hadn’t watched a football game in forever. “I think I’d like that.”

By the time Dig was back with a six pack, Oliver had made a quick dip in the microwave with some leftover cheese and jalapenos. He knew Felicity always had some plain tortilla chips, that she often took to work or ate as a snack.

“You’re really getting into the cooking stuff, aren’t you?”

Oliver huffed out a laugh as he opened a cupboard. “Yeah. For some reason it’s very calming.”

“Makes sense. I started plane models when I came back from Afghanistan. I still do them.”

“Really?” Oliver asked, raising his eyebrows. For some reason, he had a hard time picturing Dig, all muscles, working on tiny plastic pieces.

“Yes. Made me focus on something, kept my mind off bad things. Although, I have to admit that you cooking has its perks,” Dig answered, dipping a finger in the melted cheese and tasting it. “Damn. That’s pretty good.”

“I never asked you but… how did you eventually move on? Turn the page?”

“You never really do, Oliver. But one day you realize that all those bad thoughts, all these things that cause you to rage and close off… they’re fading away. You’re finding a new balance. You learn to deal with them in a healthier way. That’s what you’re already doing.”

“I still have nightmares and… other stuff.” Like anger. Impatience.

“You’ve been back, and I mean really back, for what… a month? I think you’re already in a much better place now, and that was in such a short time. The key is to accept whatever you’re feeling. Repressing it, it only makes it worse. It takes time but you’ll get there eventually. You have stopped pushing people away for the most part. It took me months to get there. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Yes, that’s what Felicity told me and…” Oliver trailed off as he grabbed the bag of chips. “What the…”

“Something wrong?” Dig asked, already on alert.

Oliver just shook his head, his hand closing on the object that had caught him off guard and showing it to Dig.

“Oh yeah. You didn’t know it was there?” Dig said in a much more relaxed tone.

“... Surprisingly, no I didn’t know Felicity had a taser in her kitchen cupboard.”

“She has some everywhere. There’s also one in her bathroom and a few others in the living room.”

“How many of these things does she have?!”

“Oh I don’t know. I bought her the first one then she went on a shopping spree once she got the hang of it. She hates guns but tasers make her feel safer. And you can’t deny the logic: having one in her nightstand won’t be useful if she needs it while she’s in the kitchen, for instance.”

“So she hid tasers all around her apartment?” And her car, now that he thought of it. He had seen one in her trunk the night she had found out about him and the foundry.

“Yup, pretty much,” Dig nodded with a shrug. “You know Felicity. She’s always been an overachiever.”

Oliver huffed out a laugh, his hands resting on his hips. “Yup.I actually shouldn’t have been surprised. Just tell me if I should expect knives in the bathroom or anything like that?”

“I mostly taught her how to use a taser. She did ask me to teach her how to shoot, though. But I suspect you might be the one who wants to teach her that, right?”

Oliver winced. The idea of Felicity near guns or weapons was uncomfortable for him because it mostly meant having her close to danger. That being said… she needed to be able to defend herself. And yes, if she had to learn that… he wanted to be the one doing it. But Dig had an extensive knowledge of firearms he didn’t. Dig had learned and taught about guns a big part of his life and Oliver trusted him. “She hasn’t talked about it yet. If she has to, I think you’d be the best teacher though. You’re more experienced with beginners.”

“Anyway, as long as her injury is healing it’s out of the question.”

When they finally sat down in front of the TV, the game had already started, but Oliver didn’t really mind. It was some college football, and to be honest he wasn’t exactly cheering for any of the teams but it felt good to be able to relax and share a beer with a friend.

They had just finished the chips when Felicity appeared, a small sleepy frown on her face and her hair all over the place. Checking the clock, Oliver saw she had slept a good three hours but still seemed pretty out of it. He wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the day by her side but he had promised his mother he’d be at the mansion for dinner and he also had to talk to her about QC.

After explaining how to heat up the lasagna he had made for her and Dig, he left, knowing she was in good hands.

 

To say that his mother was surprised by his decision was putting it mildly, judging by the way she was staring at him.

“Hum… I have to admit I was hoping for… more enthusiasm,” Oliver said quietly, before cutting a piece of his steak.

“I’m sorry, Oliver. I just wasn’t expecting this, especially not after what happened last night,” his mother eventually said, regaining her composure. And what happened with Felicity, Oliver understood. There was still a lingering tension between him and his mother, one that she was very much aware of. When they were in company, Oliver played his part but he was still unable to get past what she had done.

“Isn’t it good, though?” Thea chimed in. “You kept nagging him to go back to work a few weeks ago.”

“Well, yes. Of course it’s wonderful. I’m just wondering what made your brother change his mind?”

“I want to move forward and it looks like you’re going to need all hands on deck. I mean, I know I won’t be helping much at first but at least I’ll be doing something.”

“Do you want your old position?” Walter asked with a smile. “I, for one, think it’s the perfect moment.”

“No,” Oliver denied right away. “I’m not qualified anymore, you know that. Your plan was good.”

“I agree,” Moira said. “We’ll just have to get everything sorted. We already have an emergency board meeting tomorrow morning. You’ll come with me so we can announce it officially.”

“It will also be reassuring for the markets. Someone else stepping in, taking charge,” Walter nodded before taking a sip of wine. “We’ll just have to figure out the logistics. You’re going to need an office and an assistant. You could probably take Isabel’s former office, no one has used it.”

Oliver grimaced, sharing a look with his mother. “Hum… I really don’t want to ask for favors but would it be possible to get my old office? I mean it was completely separated from the Marketing team anyway… and I’d very much rather not get Isabel’s old office.”

“I’m sure Millie won’t mind. Isabel’s office is bigger after all. But I will ask her nonetheless. I am positive she will understand how unwilling you are to use it.”

Yes… and also my old office doesn’t have glass walls. Not that I plan on having Felicity around but… who knows...

“Hopefully you should be able to get to work by Wednesday or Thursday, depending on when Millie moves out. I’ll ask HR to look for assistants for you in the meanwhile.”

“No. I want my old assistant back.”

“Felicity?” his mother asked in surprise. “Honey I doubt that-”

“No, mom,” Oliver laughed. “Debbie. You know, I hired her right before I left?”

“Oh. Of course. I’m sorry I’m afraid those few weeks are still a bit blurry for me. I’m not sure she still works for us, though.”

“She doesn’t,” Oliver answered. He had checked up on her a few weeks ago, wanting to make sure she had found a good place. He had only known her for a little while but he knew she had been in a difficult situation when he had hired her. Debbie now worked as assistant manager in a supermarket. “I’d like to get a chance to offer her the job before looking for someone else.”

If he had to dive back into the business world, he needed people he could rely on. And trust.

 

Oliver waited until dinner was over to go to Thea’s room, knocking softly on her door. When she called him in, he opened the door, unsurprised to see her sitting on her bed, watching TV.

“Ollie?” she asked in surprise. “I thought you were leaving again… to meet up with some of your new and mysterious friends.”

Oliver gritted his teeth, unwilling to go there. “I wanted to talk to you first.”

She observed him for a  few seconds before lowering the sound coming from the TV. “I’m all ears.”

Toeing out of his shoes, he went to sit on the bed, his back resting against one of the posts at the foot. “I told mom I am going to move out.”

Thea observed him for a few seconds before nodding her head. “It’s not like it will change much, will it?”

“I’m sorry I’m not here as often as you wished. But I need my space.”

“What changed, Ollie? I don’t understand. It’s not like you’re here most of the time anyway.”

“I wanted to move out before… before I went on the Gambit. I never got the chance to let you know. I was going to ask you to help me pick the place… so you’d get to pick your own bedroom,” Oliver huffed out a small laugh. “You were still a teenager back then, in my defense. I thought you’d like visiting me sometimes when… mom was being mom, I guess.”

“Oh,” Thea breathed. “I… I had no idea. You wanted your own place or…”

“Yes. My place. I wasn’t planning on living with anyone either. I just felt like I needed it. It’s hard to figure out what you really like when you’re expected to live in the same house forever. I mean… I don’t even know what kind of fridge I’d like to have.”

Thea laughed, dropping the remote control by her side as she straightened against the pillows. “I’m more worried about which color you plan to have on your walls.”

“White?” 

“Oh God.”

“Hey! White is good!”

“It’s too… plain. You don’t leave a house like this one to not try to find something more… homey.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Oliver nodded, relieved to see her taking the news much better than he had expected.

“Do you already know what you’re looking for? Apartment, house?”

“Apartment,” Oliver said firmly. “Mom prefers it too for security.”

“Modern?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Have you already approached some real estate agents?”

“No. I was first waiting to tell you and mom about it.”

“I can do it for you if you want to. Do you want to buy or rent?”

“Rent. It’s faster, isn’t it?”

“Usually, yes,” Thea nodded before chewing her lip nervously. “Is… is the job still open?”

“The job?” Oliver repeated with a frown.

“Yes. To help you find that perfect place,” Thea explained, shrugging.

“Yeah,” he grinned, happy to see his sister so supportive. “Totally.”

“Deal. I’ll get in touch with a few agencies tomorrow and plan for visits on… Saturday? Does that work for you?”

“Saturday is perfect. Make it the morning, we’ll grab lunch afterwards?”

“Awesome,” she smiled. “So tell me more. What exactly are you looking for?”

Oliver took a deep breath, having about zero idea. All that he really wanted was a place with two bedrooms at least, one big tub for Felicity and… the possibility to have a mirror over his bed.

But that wasn’t something his sister needed to know.

 

Chapter Text

"Absolute Beginners"

 

I've nothing much to offer
There's nothing much to take
I'm an absolute beginner
And I'm absolutely sane
As long as we're together
The rest can go to hell
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners
With eyes completely open
But nervous all the same

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Could laugh at the ocean
Just like the films
There's no reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It's absolutely true

Nothing much could happen
Nothing we can't shake
Oh we're absolute beginners
With nothing much at stake
As long as you're still smiling
There's nothing more I need
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners
But if my love is your love
We're certain to succeed

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Sail over heartaches
Just like the films
If there's reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It's absolutely true

 

 

 

 

“The gunman was freed from Iron Heights a month ago,” Felicity announced as soon as Oliver walked through the door of her apartment. “Dig gave me his wallet and his phone. His name was Roger Logins. Drug trafficking since he was a teenager.”

Oliver paused, his jacket still hanging limply from his arms. Truth be told he had totally forgotten about the evidence Dig had thought to grab in the warehouse. The Gambit, and then Felicity at the hospital had completely taken over his thoughts.

“Did he used to be in a gang or something?”

“No. And that’s the surprising thing. He clearly was a lone wolf, judging by his track record. And seeing how things ended for him, he really should have stuck to the whole better alone than in bad company thing.”

“And his cellphone?”

“Felicity has been scanning it. A burner, no surprise,” Dig said as he joined them with two steaming mugs in his hands. Oliver tilted his head in disapproval, seeing it was almost past 10PM and Felicity needed to rest, not ingest caffeine.

“Tea,” Dig mouthed in reassurance, his eyes laughing.

“I found several texts, but mostly phone calls that lead us to… more burner phones, dun dun dun duuuuun,” Felicity explained. “The texts mentioned a time, which makes sense with last night's attack and also a mention of a ‘project’. Isn’t it what the guy who broke into your house said too?”

“Yes. He asked me about my father’s project. Could be a coincidence but-”

“But there are way too many coincidences already,” Dig finished as he took a sip of tea. “How did it go with your mother?”

“Good. There is an emergency meeting tomorrow, she will announce my new position as VP.”

“Oh. So much for my higher rank,” Felicity pouted, making his mouth twitch in amusement.

“I’m sorry?”

“Well, I’ll still be the more experienced one, so I guess there’s that,” she shrugged a shoulder with a teasing smile as he leaned in to press a small kiss on her lips. “Did you tell her about the other thing?”

“Yes,” Oliver nodded as he took a seat next to her. He didn’t continue, feeling this might be better to talk about in private. 

“Since I have a few days off, I should head to the foundry. We now have better equipment there and I’m not that comfortable hacking here. I mean, snooping around the police captain in my own home isn’t a very bright idea, is it?”

Oliver inhaled, his thumb rubbing against his middle finger. “I will need Dig with me tomorrow. It won’t make much sense if he doesn’t come with me. Why don’t you rest in the morning and then we’ll head over there in the afternoon?”

“Sounds good to me,” Felicity agreed. “I’ll work for PT in the meanwhile. Ray is coming back earlier to deal with everything since I’m not exactly available but I offered for him to stop by so I could update him.”

“When the doctor told you not to go back to work, it wasn’t so you could bring work to you, you know that, right?”

“Yes, my love, I do know that. But I can’t exactly do nothing and waste time while the only thing not working properly is my shoulder.”

“Not to interrupt you two or anything but… do you have any idea what that project could be?” Dig interjected.

Oliver frowned. “No. Not sure. But it has to be something big, because it’s apparently still being planned and has been for about three to four years.”

“Their main goal seem to be money or… some kind of a purge?” Felicity said with a little grimace. “Judging from what you told us of your talk with Rupert Colt, as well as your father’s letter, it’s like they’re looking for good excuses, or a way to clean up the city from criminality with minimal cost for them.”

“That’s my take too. But how?”

“Well… isn’t the warden of Iron Heights on our list?” Dig asked suddenly, reaching out for the small stack of paper that was on the middle of the table.

“Yes, I think so.”

“Well, you said that Logins was freed a month ago and apparently there was a clear change in his usual criminal habits. Maybe the warden is recruiting for whatever plan they have? Seeing the police captain is also in it, it seems like a good partnership.”

“They would be building a network of criminals that would work for them?” Oliver asked with a frown. “Wouldn’t it be risky? I mean the thing with criminals is that they don’t like to play by the rules. And to what extent? Do you think they plan more attacks like last night's in order to justify some mass exodus?”

“Well… their insurance agencies would pay. Not the companies, so I guess financially speaking it would be better than severance packages and so on,” Felicity murmured. “It’s very cowardly and completely disregarding all of the risks but maybe they just don’t care? I mean they sure as hell didn’t care about your dad or the employees with him, or you and the boat’s crew.”

“But it’s… it’s crazy. I mean what kind of people suddenly decide to sit down in a salon and plot some potential mass murders?”

“Well… remember what your dad told you. He kept walking the line until the day he crossed it and didn’t realize it. People don’t turn evil overnight, Oliver. They slowly push limits until at some point those limits vanish and they don’t realize it. The end justifies the means,” Dig explained calmly, turning his mug of tea between his hands. “I know you’ve known most of these people your whole life, Oliver. But don’t forget these are probably the same ones who murdered your father, who was probably friends with most of them. If they’re willing to do that to one of theirs… chances are they won’t have a lot of scruples with a bunch of strangers, especially if they’re confident it’s for some kind of greater good for their own families.”

Felicity’s hand reached out, resting comfortingly on his thigh. He focused on it, her small fingers tracing soothing patterns over the fabric of his jeans, knowing she was trying to support him.

“Anyway… I think it’s more than time for me to leave you. Thanks for the dinner, Oliver. That was some mean lasagna. If the whole VP thing doesn’t work out, ask to be moved to the catering service, God knows QC needs a new chef.” 

Oliver chuckled as he watched his friend standing up and bringing his mug to the kitchen, leaving it in the sink. He then walked him to the door, making sure to lock up after him, while Felicity was shutting off her computers.

“So… how did it go with your mom?” she asked as she leaned back against her chair, holding her mug of tea.

“Well… she was surprised when I told her I wanted to get back to work. I think she mostly wasn’t expecting it because of what happened with you. Walter was very supportive and so was she eventually once she got over her surprise.”

“And about you moving out?”

Oliver winced, remembering that one hadn’t gone as easily. “She is confident it’s mostly because of the whole Russian mob thing. I didn’t prove her wrong though. She asked if I was moving in with you, actually. I think me running away to get to the hospital kinda sold me out." 

“Well… yes. I was thinking about that too. I mean Tommy knows, apparently. Your mom has strong suspicions. People at the hospital saw you spent the night with me but with all the drama going on, I figure it might not make that much noise. But still. Cat is out of the bag now.”

“It is. We’ll just keep on being discreet. I doubt my mom or Tommy will gossip. Well Tommy would have but I told him not to and I think he is probably going to stay as far away from my love life as possible, now.”

“Ugh?” Felicity asked, scrunching her nose in confusion.

“That poem traumatized him and I think it might be a good lesson for him. Be careful what you wish for kind of lesson,” Oliver snickered, still remembering the look on his best friend’s face when he had walked into Felicity’s room at the hospital.

“Well… I’d rather we never mention it, so that works for me,” Felicity mumbled, a small blush invading her cheeks. Unable to resist, he leaned in, brushing his lips on a dimple.

She grinned then, stroking his jaw before asking, “what about Thea?”

“I still haven’t told her. About us, I mean. She knows I’m moving out.”

“She might figure it out by herself, you know. She can feel you are hiding a lot of things from her. This one, you don’t have to so don’t make it another secret, so whenever you’re ready to tell her, go ahead.”

“Has she told you anything?” Oliver asked, furrowing his brow. He hadn’t noticed any change in his sister’s behavior but truth be told, he hadn’t spent much time with her either.

“Just that… Listen, she came to work for PT. Then you come back to life but still barely spend time home. Then you go back to work to QC. It must be hard for her to feel included in your life under those conditions. So the sooner you open a door, the better it will be, for the two of you. She might be officially an adult, but she still needs you, Oliver. And it’s going to be hard for her to lean on you or trust you when you don’t confide in her at all.”

“I’ll talk to her tomorrow,” he promised. “I’ll invite her for lunch. I’ll tell her you and I are slowly getting back together.”

“Good idea,” Felicity nodded. “Now… when are you going to take me to bed?”

Oliver chuckled, shaking his head. “I am taking you to bed so you can sleep. Nothing more.”

“Let’s compromise. I promise not to move an inch.”

“No,” he replied while standing up and pulling her on her feet.

“Okaaaay… Then what about I get on top? You won’t be afraid to hurt me that way!” 

“Still no.”

“Ugh!” she huffed as they walked inside the bathroom. “You are being completely and utterly unreasonable here, Oliver.” 

“Brush your teeth, honey. Where are your pills?”

“Kitchen, by the sink,” she grumbled before grabbing her toothbrush. “You are so stubborn!”

Still laughing, Oliver went to pick up the bottle of painkillers she had left on the counter before joining her to brush his teeth as well. He watched carefully as she popped a pill in her mouth, gulping it down with water. When he was done in the bathroom, she was already lying in bed, resting on her right side like she had earlier that day.

Switching off the lamp, he joined her, scooping in as close to her as he could. “Are you comfortable?”

“I’ve been better, but good enough,” she yawned. “You know what would make me really comfortable though?”

“Yes. But no.”

“Not even a quickie?”

“Not even a quickie.”

“I thought you were a master in the bedroom but as soon as you need to be a bit creative you just quit,” she groaned while slipping her feet between his legs.

“Reverse psychology won’t work, Felicity,” he grinned.

“But oxy-”

“Don’t even try the oxytocin thing again,” he cut her off with a chuckle. No matter how adamant he was on limiting her physical activities to a strict minimum, he couldn’t deny that her sexual appetite was more than flattering.

She let out a big sigh. “You better make it worth it.”

“Oh I will,” he smirked in the darkness.

Damn right I will.

 

 

 

 

The board meeting didn’t take long. Moira informed the members of everything that had happened during the weekend and how Oliver would now be Vice President of QC by her side, so she could overlook his work. Everyone seemed to approve of her decision and the head of marketing agreed to switch offices with him as well.

By Wednesday, he would be able to take over his new position officially.

As he walked out of the conference room, Oliver felt slightly… nervous. This was big and scary in a way. It was like stepping into something huge with no idea of what he was supposed to do. He knew the company, had worked for it in a high position but still. He was more than rusty and had very little idea of how to handle his new responsibilities for now.

Luckily he had a girlfriend who had a very similar job and his mother was apparently more than ready to mentor him for as long as needed. The last thing he wanted was to make mistakes that would cost the company. He still had doubts, wondering if it was the right call. But knowing he had Felicity's support was enough to push him forward. He wanted to build a life for himself, for her, for the two