This was only supposed to be a drabble, but it's slightly too long to be called one. Honestly, this is really just fluff. Enjoy!
"Okay, looks like everything is all clear for tonight. Let Lance know those thugs are waiting for him on the corner of Fifth and Dale." Oliver's voice came over the comm link loud and clear.
It was a pretty early night, all things considered. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Felicity had enjoyed catching up on an episode of her favorite show in between helping Oliver out. Digg had left an hour ago, when it had become obvious he wouldn't be needed.
She texted Lance, and made a grab for what was left of her take-out, wrinkling her nose as she picked at it with her fork. She propped her feet up on her desk and pressed play on her episode. She still hadn't eaten another bite of her food when Oliver came down the stairs, pulling off his mask.
"Hey, you still here?" he asked softly.
Felicity sighed. "Yeah. I just wanted to finish my show and I'm still kind of hungry, but I'm just so fed up of take-out at this point, you know? I feel like I haven't eaten a real meal in forever."
Oliver tilted his head, frowning. He unzipped his jacket and started pulling it off, and Felicity was going just going to turn back to her screen when he said, "What if I cooked for you?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
Oliver was pulling off his suspenders, something Felicity had always enjoyed watching. However, she was distracted instead by what must have had been a misunderstanding on her part.
"Me. I'll cook dinner for you. You could come by the mansion tomorrow night."
Okay. Not a misunderstanding. And tomorrow night. Their night off.
Felicity felt her heart rate shoot up but forced herself to calm down because there was no way Oliver was actually asking what it sounded like he was asking.
"But you can't cook," she said, trying to sound nonchalant.
Oliver raised an eyebrow at her. "Who says?"
Felicity just shook her head. "Sorry, I mean. I guess I just assumed you wouldn't know how? Don't you have people who cook for you all the time and just go out to fancy restaurants if you're hungry? And I say if but obviously I mean when, because of course you get hungry on a regular basis, I mean you're human. And then you were on an island for five years, so not really chef central, and all things considered I just-"
He mouth closed with a snap.
Oliver was looking at her with that small smile that sometimes made her feel like she could be more than just the IT girl. That they could be more together,
"If you'd be willing to take a chance on my cooking, I'd really like to make you dinner tomorrow night."
Swallowing, she nodded, and Oliver went back to winding down after his patrol.
So now she was standing outside the front door of the Queen Mansion, for crying out loud, pretty sure that this was a date, but also completely not sure at all?
Because if it was a date, why now? What had changed? She wasn't stupid. She and Oliver had chemistry, they had it in spades. She'd lost count of the times they'd almost just given in and let go, standing toe to toe in an argument, tension crackling. Times when she'd had to patch Oliver up after a really bad fight, brushing her hand across his forehead, wanting to just lean over and kiss him and tell him how scared she'd been, how much she needed him to be okay. When the adrenaline wore off and they came down from the high of finally putting someone really terrible behind bars, the culmination of days or even weeks of sleepless nights and endless stress, when they were left alone in the lair just smiling at each other.
There had been so many times when something could have started between the two of them and it hadn't. One or both of them had pulled away.
So why now?
Felicity shook her head and took a deep breath, ringing the doorbell.
It took about a minute, but then Oliver was answering the door, in jeans and a henley, sleeves pushed up to his elbows, and a dishtowel slung over one shoulder.
"Hey," he said, smiling lightly. "I was just finishing up. Come on."
She followed him into the foyer.
Felicity had been in the house enough times at this point not to be overwhelmed by the opulence, and to have a decent recollection of where everything was. But she was still surprised when Oliver led her towards the kitchen and not the dining room, to find the kitchen island had been set for two, complete with wine glasses and… candles.
Nope. She still wasn't reading into it. No.
Something smelled amazing. Rosemary and garlic and…
Oliver was leaning over the stove top, sauteing the contents of a cast iron skillet. He reached over, adding something, and she could hear it sizzle as the light, delicate smell of fish was added to the scent of the herbs.
"Oliver, wow, that… that smells amazing. This all looks amazing…"
He looked over his shoulder, smiling, and Felicity was struck with how relaxed he seemed, how at ease.
She pulled herself up onto one of the stools, shrugging out of her jacket and setting it on the stool next to hers.
"So, how come I never knew you could cook before?" she asked.
Oliver shrugged, grabbing a spatula and turning the fish over carefully. "It never came up… I was able to cook a couple of things before the island. Our maid, Raisa, taught me how. But then on Lian Yu…"
Felicity froze, holding her breath. Oliver so very rarely talked about his time on the island, and he was doing so now without a hint of the darkness, of the tension that usually came up when he shared stories.
He turned around, skillet in hand, and used the spatula to put a large piece of what looked like trout on each of their plates. There were little cherry tomatoes and thin slices of onion mixed in with herbs she'd smelled, and it looked incredible. He shrugged again.
"When you spend five years with a limited supply of everything, you learn to get as creative as you can for food, so you don't just end up eating the same old stuff everyday." Oliver turned back to the oven, returning the skillet and opening the oven compartment, pulling out a dish of roasted potatoes. He put those on the counter next to Felicity, and she breathed in the sent of olive oil and sage.
"There were some points were everything slowed down, at least for a week or two, and it wasn't a constant rush to just stay alive." A green salad joined the spread. Felicity barely noticed, she was listening to Oliver with rapt attention.
He finally grabbed a bottle of white wine and sat down across from her, opening it with a corkscrew and setting it down with everything else.
He tilted his head and sighed, and his smile turned almost… wistful?
Felicity was gaping at this point, she was pretty sure, but she couldn't bring herself to look away or to stop soaking up what Oliver was sharing with her.
"Anyway," Oliver shook his head looking across the counter top. Felicity quickly shut her mouth and tried to look like she wasn't completely thrown by how talkative he was being.
"When I had the time, I'd try to find new things on the island to work with, to varying degrees of success…" He poured her some of the wine, filling his own glass as well, and Felicity stared down at her plate, somewhat at a loss.
"Hey," Oliver's voice centered her again, and she lifted her head to find him watching her. "You okay? The food's not poisonous, you know…"
Felicity flashed a quick, small smile, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared. "It's not that, it's just…" She didn't want to ruin whatever was going on, but she needed to understand.
"What are you doing, Oliver?" she asked softly, furrowing her brow. "What arewe doing? Because oddly enough, it feels like date. You cooked, there's wine, you're talking about your time on the island, willingly, if I may add. There arecandles for crying out loud, and I just -" She watched his face, waiting for him to shut down, to throw his walls up, to correct her and tell her that she'd misunderstood, but he didn't. He just looked back at her with the same openness he'd displayed since she walked through the door.
"What do you mean?"
Felicity pulled her wine towards her, and swirled it distractedly, the fragrant liquid following the curve of the glass in a miniature whirlpool.
"You told me a year ago that this couldn't happen. That it wouldn't, because your lifestyle wouldn't allow it. And I thought it was ridiculous at the time, because my life is just as insane, and why would you think that would ever change? But I didn't say anything because you can lead a horse to water, and everything but yada, yada, yada…"
Oliver huffed out a quiet laugh and her eyes were drawn to his immediately. He was watching her, eyes glinting in the soft light of the kitchen and the candlelight between them.
She squared her shoulders. "So what changed? Why now?"
Oliver was silent for a moment before he stood up and walked around the counter to face her. Felicity swallowed nervously as he came close enough that she could smell him, light, expensive cologne, and citrus and herbs.
"Last night, when I got back and you were still there… I was just - so glad you hadn't left yet. There was no reason, it wasn't like I needed to tell you anything important, or ask you to do anything, and we were done for the night, but seeing you sitting there with your feet up on your desk, watching TV, I just -" Oliver frowned. "I'm not an idiot. I know the only reason we've been dancing around each other is because I'm stubborn, and distant…"
"And a stupid martyr," Felicity mumbled.
Oliver chuckled again, looking up at the ceiling and shaking his head before looking back down and lifting his hand to her shoulder. He let his thumb rub across her collarbone and Felicity shivered, eyes wide.
"Yeah, that too," he agreed. His hand moved up to her neck, fingers tangling in her hair, and he leaned in even closer.
"And it just suddenly hit me, that I had already gotten close to someone I could really care about. Someone I do really care about. And I realized that dancing around each other was pointless when we could just as easily be doing ittogether…"
Felicity looked up at him, and saw the question there before he spoke.
"Dance with me?"
She didn't need to respond, she just closed her eyes.
The first time Oliver kissed her, Felicity had always imagined it would be like the rushing tide, unstoppable, powerful, and all-encompassing.
In truth it was more like a sigh. A breath of intent, a soft brush of lips that was like two tired souls falling into each other after a long, hard day. The gentlest nip of his teeth, and she licked delicately at the corner of his mouth, as he tilted her head and deepened the kiss, stepping in-between her legs. His thumbs were tracing circles on her cheekbones and her hands came up to rest lightly on his forearms and then he was pulling away and smiling, resting his forehead against her and he was right. It was oh, so, easy…
"You liar, you really just wanted to show off and make me dinner."
Oliver's laugh sounded like good wine tasted, full-bodied, warm and rare and she knew which she preferred. Felicity smiled proudly up at him.
"You're right," he said. "You're always right." He pulled gently away. "So, come on, eat."
Dinner was delicious.
Dessert in Oliver's room later that night was better.