Disclaimer: I do not own nor make any profit off of Arrow. It belongs to The CW, DC Comics, etc.
A/N: Holiday Exchange Fic based on the prompt by anextraordinarymuse. A few might recognize this story from my Arrow tumblr blog: HoodSmoaked.
Chapter 1: Distraction
The first day of Hanukkah began quite innocuously, it must be said.
Now, Felicity Smoak was not prone to reverse psychological omens. Nor did she have any notion that psychology and omens were a logical mix. Well, she didn't believe in omens in general, to be honest. If someone felt something bad was going to happen, it was one of three things: an expectation due to negative emotion, basis from previous experience, or intuitive understanding of one's environment at the moment.
Regardless, the day moved along with suspicious quiet for a woman who spent her days as Oliver Queen's executive assistant and her nights as one of the Arrow's crime-fighting partners.
Felicity had felt a sense of disquiet from the moment she woke. Expectation, she guessed, since she already knew there would be no one to spend the holiday with and wasn't looking forward to the alone time.
Sighing as her watch alarm signaled the hour she usually spent eating dinner, the IT expert stepped out of the elevator and headed down the hall towards the office space she shared with Oliver.
The unfortunate business of leaving papers for Isabel Rochev to sign had been left in Felicity's hands approximately thirty minutes earlier. While she had been forced to grin and bear it through the woman's smug and icy demeanor, the signing had been fairly quick. Now dinner was upon her, but given the amount of work piled up between she and Oliver, the likely meal of choice was whatever takeout Oliver ordered for them over the phone.
Felicity reached up to rub her forehead wearily as she moved over to her desk. Looking towards her friend and employer's office area, she was a bit surprised to find his desk empty. Frowning a little, Felicity turned to check with Digg, but he was gone as well.
Shaking off the odd, albeit not necessarily unpleasant, feeling that passed over her, Felicity sat down at her desk to wait out her friends.
A glint of light caught her eye as she pulled out her tablet, the shiny reflection pulling her gaze to a package that had definitely not been present before she left. Curious and confused, Felicity set down her tablet and picked up the item covered in dark, metallic pink wrapping paper and a curly silver bow.
She was struck by the familiar shape underneath, and finally realized it reminded her of a typical Valentine's Day candy box. Groaning, Felicity nearly dropped the package in the garbage can. Instead, out of some strange sense of politeness, she dropped it back on her desk.
It was nothing special. Just the typical, unimaginative secret admirer she had always been prey to. Some strange person expecting a flirt with a 'pretty blonde' and a quick goodbye, no strings attached. It usually led to her leaving a nice meal at a nice restaurant because her 'admirer' had revealed seedy intentions and left her feeling either irritated or disgusted (or both).
Once, and only once, had she gained a genuine admirer, someone who was actually looking to try and start a relationship. It was her babbling tendencies which had driven that one away. After that, Felicity gave up. For the last few years, she had avoided dating and admirers with a passion. It never paid off. Not for her.
Another shimmer unwittingly drew her attention right back to the package, however — this time to a much smaller item. Hanging off the silvery strings of the bow was a little square tag to match the wrapping paper. Felicity reluctantly checked to make sure it wasn't a gift from Diggle and Lyla. Or perhaps Barry. Barry seemed the type to send cheesy little gifts like that. Snorting a bit at the thought, the blonde flipped the pink card to reveal two simple sentences printed on it.
~Because chocolates are so last year. Happy Hanukkah!~
Well… they paid attention, anyway. Whoever they were…
Biting her lip, Felicity considered the few people at Queen Consolidated who knew about her Jewish faith. Four of them were in the IT department and already engrossed in a relationship, from what she knew, as well as not being the kind of people to search for diversions. The fifth was Andrew Kaufman from Human Resources; he was single, but he also had a thing for tall redheads. The last who knew, Isaac Templeton from marketing, was about as romantically inclined as a brick of ice. Not a bad guy as far as workplace ethic was concerned, but he made it clear that mundane entanglements were beneath him.
That left someone to search out information from her files without permission, or to ask around about her. The first seemed creepy. The second didn't seem reliable, but at least it was more normal.
But why would they tell her what was in the package before she ever opened it? Disregarding the fact she knew the shape of most candy boxes as well as her own finger nails, obviously her admirer didn't and they wrapped it to surprise her. So why tell her it contained chocolates? It was a strange thing to do, all things considered…
Startled by the sound of Diggle's worried voice, Felicity jumped and whipped around to face him with wide eyes.
"Yes?" she asked, almost gulping at the concern in his eyes.
"You okay?" he asked, brows lifting in question "It took four tries to get your attention."
"Sorry, I was… distracted," she shrugged sheepishly, debating whether or not to tell him what had diverted her focus.
"If you don't mind me asking…" he pressed, looking unconvinced and dropping his jacket over one of the chairs in front of her desk. "What by?"
"Um…" Felicity hesitated a moment, but threw caution to the wind. "Well, okay… I got back and noticed you guys were gone, and of course that confused me because Oliver had just started on a complicated contract when I left and then suddenly he's gone. I mean, yeah, I was gone thirty minutes, but I know that contract would have taken a lot longer to go through. And Oliver hates paperwork so much, it always takes him even longer than most businessmen. Not that he's actually a businessman. I mean— What I mean is that business isn't his main prerogative in life, technically speaking. I wasn't saying that he isn't a businessman, obviously he's the CEO of Queen Consolidated and that includes a lot of businessy stuff—"
"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Oliver's voice rang out amusedly from the hallway as the man himself strode into the office with his typical confidence and grace. He came to a stop in front of her desk, laughter twinkling in his blue eyes. Felicity flushed from her blond head to her violet-painted toes.
"I mean actual businessy stuff. Not… that kind of… businessy… stuff…" she replied haltingly, cursing her pale face for blushing in the face of her boss' barely-there-smirk.
"And will you stop talking as though you're so old?" she continued, averting her eyes from his and trying desperately to get out of the ditch she was digging. "You're only three years older than me. It makes me feel ancient… Well, actually, I would have to be the 'old' one and you would have to be the 'ancient' one. Because you're older than I am, so you would require the 'older' age adjective and… whyyyy do you never stop me from talking?"
The billionaire chuckled with Diggle as Felicity literally clamped her lips shut between her teeth.
"I do," Oliver answered easily, that pleasant smirk still on his face. "When we're pressed for time. Otherwise, it's just a part of your natural charm."
"Are you saying that you use me for your own entertainment?" the blonde asked thoughtlessly, and immediately wished she could bury herself ten feet under. In lieu of that option, she buried her face in her hands so closely that her next words were muffled, "That was so not what I meant."
Oliver actually snorted this time, but he let her off the hook. "John was kind enough to pick up our takeout."
"And with that job done, I'm going to call it a night," Diggle added, tapping the bag of takeout for emphasis. "I have to go change and pick up Lyla."
"Taking the lovely lady for a fancy dinner?" Felicity teased, smiling at the happiness in his eyes when he talked about his ex-wife-turned-girlfriend.
"Not really," he countered awkwardly, actually tugging on his tie. "We're meeting with Carly at Big Belly."
"Uh… that's… nice?" Oliver interceded, obviously uncertain if it was truly nice or not. Felicity shared an awkward look with him, equally confused by this meeting of the exes.
"Kind of," John sighed, half-laughing at their expressions as he pulled on his suit jacket. "Carly and I agreed I should give her some distance. But A.J. has been asking about me and… well, without Andy there, kid needs a father figure."
"Why do I have the oddest feeling Lyla is behind all this?" Felicity wondered without any doubt, giving Diggle a look.
"Because you'd be right." the bodyguard confirmed, laughing as he headed out. "See you both tomorrow. And don't think I've forgotten about your distraction, Felicity!"
"Goodbye, John," Felicity said firmly, having absolutely no intention of telling him where Oliver could hear.
The billionaire in question gave her a suspicious glance, but called out his own farewell with congenial cheer, "See you, Digg."
Silence fell until the elevator doors closed behind Diggle with a 'ding' of warning.
"Distraction?" Oliver asked after a beat, turning to Felicity with curiosity.
"Oh, just you two disappearing on me," she answered fairly easily, hoping he would just let it go.
"Uh-huh…" Oliver replied doubtfully, but followed the change in topic admirably. "Sorry about that. I had to see Timothy Brent in finance before he left tonight."
"Oh," Felicity said simply.
"I guess I'd better get back to that contract," Oliver returned with false pep and took out his food container and silverware, but just as he turned to go, his eyes caught on Felicity's pink present. Cursing the man's keen vision, the blonde tried to look nonchalant about it. Oliver scratched his stubble thoughtfully as he continued, "That… um… wouldn't be the distraction… would it now, Felicity?"
"Fine," she retorted a bit shortly. "It is. Now, go back to your contract."
Smirking slightly, Oliver took the hint and walked to his own desk.
Only once ensuring he was safely engrossed in reading the contract at hand did Felicity finally, with a bit of reluctance, open the box of chocolates she had been given.
Only it wasn't chocolates she found in the box.
It was coconut macaroons.
A/N: To be continued...