Oliver flicked back the hood of his leather jacket as he entered his hideout beneath Verdant. It had been a long night but he was satisfied with his work. He had finally tracked down Elliot King and delivered him to the Police. His father's former business partner had been responsible for a series of sub-standard housing developments in the Glades. Taking deliberate short cuts during the construction process to better line his own pockets had resulted in twelve people dying due to collapsed ceilings, electrical fires and poorly insulated homes. The Police had been looking for him for months without much success. With the help of Diggle and Felicity, Oliver had managed to track him down, despite his apparent disappearance from Starling City. In conjunction with having to pay back all the money he stole, King would be spending a long time in prison.
Stowing his bow and arrows back in their casings, Oliver moved further into the room. On one side of the large space was his exercise equipment and the mini surgical area Diggle had set up. On the other, the main brain of his operation. The flash of the computer screens lent a soft glow to the otherwise darkened area. No sound could be heard save for the constant hum of the expensive equipment.
Oliver frowned. Is Dig and Felicity still here?
After calling them with the news that King had been apprehended, he'd told them to close up shop for the night. Walking closer to the screens Oliver noticed that software upgrades were running.
He smiled faintly as he thought of the quirky tech girl who had joined his team not long before. Despite her eccentricities, she was invaluable to his objective. While he was adequately adept at computers and their operation, Felicity was a genius. He didn't think he would have been able to cross so many names off the list, in so short a time, without her help.
Having her around also created a different dynamic within the team. Before, when there had just been him and Diggle, things had often gotten a little intense. A few times they had had differing opinions on how to approach a situation. Most times a mini argument would ensue and in the end either one of them would yield to the other's judgement. With Felicity around, there was another sounding board. Someone else to talk to. Someone else to add some perspective.
Someone else I can trust.
Since Tommy still wasn't really talking to him, it felt nice to have another person in his corner.
He turned as he heard the steady tattoo of Felicity's low heeled boots on the floor. She was walking toward him, unaware that he was there, her attention was focussed on a CD cover she was studying. She wore her hair in a ponytail, little blonde wisps having escaped to frame her face. Her clothing was simple and without embellishments – a black pencil skirt and a pink short sleeved shirt. Behind her right ear was a pencil, already stuck there before Oliver had left to find King.
Oliver eyed the pencil with amusement. "I thought you'd left for the night."
Startled, Felicity yelped and almost dropped the cover she was perusing. Clutching her hand to her heart she stared at him with wide eyes.
"Oliver! You scared me."
He smiled. "Sorry. I should have warned you that I was back. I'm kind of used to being alone."
Felicity started forward again. "Well, not anymore. There's me….and Diggle, of course." She giggled nervously. "Obviously he was here before me…that makes two extras…I uh, so you're not actually alone."
Oliver laughed softly. Felicity never failed to do that – make him laugh.
"Yeah. I guess I'm not." He looked at her thoughtfully.
Feeling her face flush, Felicity continued, "I..umm.. I'm running some updates on the computer software. It's not exactly cutting edge, despite all the changes I've already made." She motioned haphazardly at the screens. "But I'm getting there."
Now standing in front of him, Oliver could see the vivid blue of Felicity's eyes behind her black rimmed glasses. She always wore them, save for the one time she went undercover with him and Diggle. Thinking of that night brought back flashes of her in a short gold dress, her hair loose around her shoulders, the golden curls free from their constant binding. He had been startled by her transformation. She'd looked the same, and yet completely different.
Confused by why the memory was still so clear to him, Oliver moved away from her and started removing his green gear.
"You don't have to put in so many late nights. You also have a day job. One that actually pays," he said with a smile.
Felicity stared at Oliver as his jacket was swiftly discarded and placed on one of the low tables before him. Facing away from her, she couldn't help but gape at his exposed back, beautiful and broad, tapering to narrow hips and steely thighs encased in tight green leather.
Swallowing convulsively she turned away to stare at the blue status bar flashing on one of the screens.
"This pays in viewing," she whispered, but evidently not softly enough.
"Viewing?" Oliver looked at her curiously over his left shoulder.
"Reviewing. I meant reviewing. You know…I get to review. My protocols. Um, new technology and…stuff...that uh, I don't get to use at my day job…for your company. Because that's where I actually work…your company…" her voice trailed off as she closed her eyes tightly hoping he'd either ignore her or the ground would open up and swallow her.
Because that's where I work? Seriously?
She could feel Oliver's gaze on her back but she refused to look at him. Best to appear otherwise engaged. That way he'd most likely drop it.
Pretend busy meant that she was acutely aware of the rustle of his clothing. She'd become infatuated with Oliver Queen from the second she'd laid eyes on him. It hadn't been because he was handsome; there were many handsome men around. None of them had ever affected her the way he did. She'd sensed that there was more to him than the careless playboy long before he'd revealed himself to her as the Starling City vigilante. Those ridiculous stories he'd told her about his reasons for needing her help aside, she'd still been surprised to find out that he was the man who had the local Police splitting hairs. The hood persona was so far removed from the image that Oliver portrayed to the world. To everyone he was spoiled and selfish, a playboy and party goer without a conscience. But now she knew differently. He cared, perhaps he always had, but the five years he'd spent on that island had brought whatever was hidden deep down to the surface. He'd become honourable and even though his campaign had started out only as a means of fulfilling his father's dying wish, she knew that since then, his crusade had become much more personal.
The beep of one of the computers shook her from her reverie. The updates were complete. A good thing too. It was pointless losing her heart to Oliver Queen. He was a man of the world; chased by so many beautiful women he couldn't keep their names straight.
"I'm going to take a shower and then head upstairs. The club won't be closing for another hour. I think I need to put in an appearance." Bare chested and gorgeous despite the green paint still evident around his eyes, Oliver stood, arms laden with fresh clothes. "Why don't you come along? I think you'd enjoy it."
Felicity laughed humorously. "Me? In a club?" The very idea was so absurd she was genuinely amused. "I'd stick out like a sore thumb. I-I don't belong in that world," she said pointing upstairs.
"That world is just a staircase away," Oliver reminded her.
"Still. I'm not rich and famous. I don't wear three thousand Dollar dresses. I mean, I don't even look at three thousand Dollar dresses. I'm-"
"You're lovely and sweet and smart," Oliver finished. "My club isn't only for the affluent, Felicity. It's for everyone."
Momentarily tongue tied Felicity sank down into her chair. "Thanks, but uh…I think I'll pass. I still have some things to do here."
Oliver looked at her for a moment longer and then smiled. "Another time then. Don't stay too late."
Felicity watched as he turned and made his way to the shower located at the back of the club. There was no way someone like him would ever be interested in someone like her. Asking Oliver Queen to hold her heart safe would be tantamount to shooting herself in the foot. She needed to stop daydreaming about him and focus on what she was there for. Helping him find Walter and tracking down the people who took him.