AUTHORS NOTES: Olicity fic. Takes place around 2x12. I mainlined Arrow around Christmas and have decided to go down with this ship. Not beta'd so all blame is mine. Title comes from the Ted Hughes poem, The Other, but the story isn't anywhere near as depressing. Promise. It's always hard when you start writing characters for the first time, so please feel free to let me know if you have any constructive crit. The plan is to make this the first part of a five times fic if there's any interest, so let me know that too if you have a second. Thanks for reading!
She had too much so with a smile
you took some.
Of everything she had you had
Absolutely nothing, so you took some.
At first, just a little.
~Ted Hughes, The Others
"I'm not in love with you, you know."
"What?" Oliver said, his head whipping up so fast she almost laughed.
It was late and she was about to head home for the night, but she felt compelled to clear this matter up before she left. She took a few steps into his office, her tight blue dress keeping her strides from their usual length as she approached his desk. Oliver was sitting in his chair, his mouth hanging open, with some papers he'd been skimming dangling from his fingers. He looked like she'd just told him Digg had run off to join the circus.
She sat in one of the seats across from him and crossed her legs. "I heard you, before," she said, smoothing the skirt over her knee. "When you were talking to Isabel."
Oliver swallowed. "Still not following you."
"Yeah, no, I'm getting that," she said, her hands folding into her lap warily. "I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I heard you telling Isabel that she shouldn't pay attention to the rumors about us because they were baseless."
Oliver nodded slowly and then suddenly seemed to become aware of what he must look like. He tossed the papers onto his desk and leaned back into his chair with practiced ease, all the tension seemingly draining from his body and his face going blank in a matter of seconds. A casual observer would think he was perfectly calm, but Felicity knew he was somewhat anxious because his right hand had started plucking at an imaginary bowstring. It was a weird habit, she'd noted, not that she kept track of all his weird habits, because my god, that would be a long frickin' list.
She started again. "I wanted you to know that you're right. There's nothing going on between us."
Oliver's head tilted a little in confusion but the corners of his mouth tugged up slightly. "Yes, Felicity. I am aware of that."
She shook her head quickly. "No. No, I mean, there's nothing going on between us even secretly."
Now he was just full on smiling. "I'm aware of that, too."
"No, you smug jerk," she laughed. "I'm trying to make it clear that I'm not sitting around mooning over you or anything. I don't go home at night or, well, dawn more accurately, and curl up with a pillow that I call Oliver and tell it about my day or anything."
His hand went still. "I…didn't think that you did."
"Good, because I don't. When I go home I think about food and ways to eat it and if I was naming my pillow after anyone it would be Channing Tatum."
"Channing Tatum? Really?"
"I'm not made of wood, Oliver. A girl can dream."
He smiled at that. "I guess I didn't think Channing Tatum was your type."
"Yes, well I didn't think you even knew who Channing Tatum was, so we've both learned something today." She smiled at him for a second before rising to her feet. "Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up in case you were wondering."
"Why would you think I was wondering?"
Her cheeks flushed and she took a deep breath. "Well, I mean, I did sort of have a tiny little crush on you when we first met."
Oliver at least had the decency to look surprised. "Wow, really, I had no-"
"Oh shut up," she said raising her hands in surrender. "We both know I did. But that was before I really knew you."
"And to know me is not to love me?"
"Exactly," she said, her hands dropping down to rest on her hips. She smiled for a moment and then her eyes went round and she started shaking her head furiously. "No, no, wait. That's not what I meant and you know it!"
He actually had the nerve to do a small fist pump. "The crush may be gone, but I can still fluster you."
She rolled her eyes. "A well made burrito flusters me too, so don't let it go to your head."
He laughed. "I won't."
She took a few steps towards the doorway and then turned back, catching him looking at her with a soft, fond expression. Sometimes that look being directed towards her annoyed her, because she thought it was the way he might look at a fluffy bunny or a small child, but today it made her heart swell a little. They'd come a long way since he'd walked into her cubicle a year and a half ago. Back then she'd never have guessed how much they'd come to mean to each other. He was her friend and she wanted him to be happy. She took a nervous breath and pushed her glasses up a little higher on her nose. "One more thing."
He lifted an eyebrow at her, but the amused twinkle in his eye didn't fade.
"I think Isabel likes you."
Oliver's eyebrows scrunched together. "What?"
"I think she like, likes you, likes you."
"Oh, come on. She's remarkably patient with you sometimes and she's super concerned about the state of our relationship, and well, of course there's that whole thing where she did actually sleep with you. For a while I thought she was trying to drive a wedge between us with all that, but I don't think that's true anymore. I think she's trying to figure out where she stands with you. And then I thought that maybe you couldn't give her an honest answer because you were worried about me."
Oliver leaned forward in his chair, "Felicity, I don't-"
She raised a hand at him. "No, let me finish. I've been thinking it's possible that I might have overreacted just the tiniest bit about the whole Isabel situation when we were in Russia. I mean, sexing her up was still a dumb thing for you to have done because, hello- we all thought she was trying to destroy you, but it's been a few months now and she hasn't grown horns or sacrificed a puppy or anything, so maybe she's just kind of a not so warm person who we jumped to conclusions about."
Oliver ran a hand over his face. "Felicity, why are you telling me this?"
"Because you keep telling her how platonic we are, but you always say it really quietly, like you think you'll hurt my feelings or something. And you don't need to worry."
Oliver sighed. She wouldn't say it was an exasperated sigh, but she had to admit it was kind of close. "It's not that I thought it would upset you to hear, Felicity. It's just that I didn't want to embarrass you. I didn't know if you'd heard the rumors. I wanted to protect you."
"Well, I don't need to be protected. At least not from this, because let me tell you, I've heard the rumors, like all of the rumors. And some of them are terrible and some of them are actually kind of really good for my ego, but none of them are making me want to curl into a ball and die. And if all of a sudden you ended up dating someone else and everyone thought you'd finally come to your senses and dumped me, the new round of rumors wouldn't kill me either. So I just wanted you to know that if you wanted to," she paused for a moment and gritted her teeth slightly, "maybe spend some more time with Isabel… I'd be okay with that."
Oliver's eyebrows practically leapt off his forehead. "Felicity, we have no idea what Isabel is up to. It's nice that you want to believe she might not be what we're assuming she is, but that doesn't change anything. She's on the list."
Felicity shrugged. "Yes, well, that fly is definitely still in the ointment. But we don't know for sure that she's evil. What we do know is that she's smart and beautiful, obviously, and she spends a lot of time wondering about who you might be dating. If you like her, and seeing as she's the only woman you've shown an interest in for a while I'm guessing you might, maybe you should let her know." She looked at him and then worried her lip between her teeth as her mind continued to work over the situation. It was definitely not the best advice she'd ever given him, especially since she did kind of think Isabel was up to something. He would have to be super careful, because she could still turn out to be the devil in stiletto heels. It would be good for him to not be so isolated, though. He was one of the best guys she'd ever known and he deserved to have someone in his life. And it was always possible that he could work some sort of sex magic on Isabel and she'd forget all about whatever evil things she was supposed to be planning.
Felicity's hand flew up to her mouth and her cheeks started burning as she realized what had happened. "Oh god! Oh no! Pretend that all of that stayed in my head and you never heard it. You do not have sex magic, Oliver Queen. I don't think that so don't go thinking that I'm thinking that you do. Not that I think you'd be bad in bed. I'm sure you'd be great, like really, really great. You've had plenty of experience, your body is beyond amazing, and god knows you've got stamina, but that's not magic it's just-"
She froze, her mouth hanging open as her brain suddenly put the brakes on the words that had been falling from her lips. Oliver's face was some strange combination of laughter and second hand embarrassment with a heaping dose of pity thrown in for good measure. Without hesitating she turned and ran as best she could out of the office. Her face was on fire. It had been a long time since she'd been so utterly inappropriate with him and it was humiliating to realize that she didn't have as much control over herself when it came to him as she thought she did.
She grabbed her bag off the floor and started shoving her tablet into it so she could get out of the office while she still had the tiniest shred of dignity left. She heard his footfalls as he walked into her desk space but she refused to look up at him.
"Felicity," he began, stopping almost directly beside her.
"Nope, nope," she said, grabbing a stapler from the desk and putting it in her bag as if that was a perfectly normal thing to have done. She quickly dropped the bag onto her chair. She didn't need to embarrass herself further by throwing in, oh say, the tape dispenser. "You don't need to come out here and talk to me, because I'm going home and when I come in tomorrow we're totally pretending that none of that ever happened."
He reached out and grabbed her arm gently, "Okay," he said, turning her to face him before placing his hands on her shoulders. "We can do that, but while I'm still allowed to remember, I want to thank you for saying all that." He took a small step towards her and wrapped his arms around her in a comforting hug. "Or, at least, some of that," he teased, his voice warm and low and ridiculously sexy...if she still thought about his voice in those terms. Which she did not. "You're a good friend and I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I made a mistake in Russia and I won't do it again. I would never knowingly jeopardize the safety of our team, and Isabel is too big of a risk."
She nodded against his chest in understanding, but when she went to pull back his arms tightened around her, keeping her firmly in place. "Hmm," she said as she relaxed into the stronger hug. "So we're just doing this hugging thing whenever now, huh?"
He laughed and his chest rumbled under her ear. "Yeah, I guess we are."
They stood there for a moment and Felicity internally kicked herself for not being able to let go of the awkwardness and fully enjoy the feeling of being held like that. She blew out a breath in frustration as the unfairness of it all washed over her.
He pulled back and looked at her. "What?" He asked, his hands sliding up over her arms and onto her shoulders.
"Nothing," she said, shaking her head.
She placed a hand against his chest lightly. "What I said before, about my crush being over, was kind of a hypothetical statement, but this proves the theory, I guess," she said, sighing dramatically. "I didn't even enjoy that."
She thought he would laugh, but his body tensed under her fingers and his hands dropped from her shoulders. He looked at the ground and then took a step away from her.
"No, no, " she said reaching out and grabbing his arm this time. "I didn't mean it like that."
Oliver nodded, "It's okay."
"Oh god. No, no it's really not." This time she was the one who initiated the hug. She wrapped her arms around him, willing him to relax with the force of her embrace, but where a moment ago he'd felt easy against her, his body was now rigid with tension. She sighed against his shirt, her head tucked under his chin, and watched as her breath blew a small piece of lint off the material. "Man, I'm really on a roll tonight, huh? I'm not sure which was worse though, the part where I insulted your awesome hugging skills or the part where I actively encouraged you to start dating someone who might be a psychopath."
He nodded slowly, his chin brushing against the hair on top of her head as his arms came to wrap lightly around her waist. "It's definitely one of our more memorable conversations."
"For the record, I still think you can do better than Isabel. More importantly, though, your hugs are very enjoyable. I just meant that I don't feel like I need to report myself to HR for sexual harassment every time you touch me now."
He laughed. Finally. "Jesus, Felicity."
She looked up at him, her eyes wide and cheeks still flushed. "Oliver, at the risk of humiliating myself even further tonight, let's just say it's a good thing you can't read the thoughts that run through this mind." She lifted a finger to tap lightly against her temple, and when she let it drop her hand came to rest on his shoulder.
A charged silence settled over them and she waited, fully expecting him to wink at her or roll his eyes or to do something that would dismiss her confession and make the remaining tension between them dissolve away. What she did not expect was his thumb to start lazily stroking against her side or his blue eyes to darken and become fixated on her lips, which she found herself suddenly licking.
"Is it?" He finally asked, his voice rough and low and downright needy as his eyes stayed glued to her mouth.
"Yeah," she said and from the way his body tensed against her, she guessed her voice matched his own.
Everything went very still for a moment and then he was moving, his mouth heading towards hers and she only had time to think, "Holy shit," before his lips abruptly veered off course and landed on her cheek, slightly below her eye.
She'd thought the night couldn't get worse, but she'd been so, so wrong. They stood there, his slightly parted lips just glommed onto her face and she had no idea what to do. The only comforting thought she had was that as bad as this was for her, for the always smooth and in control Oliver Queen, it was probably much worse. She was about to extricate herself from his arms when he sort of jumped away from her. She'd have laughed at the absurdity of it all if his face hadn't looked so panicked. Instead she just wiped at the somewhat damp spot on her cheek with the back of her hand. "Well, thanks for that."
His mouth fell open. "Felicity, I'm so so-"
She did laugh this time. "Please don't apologize. If the night that I told you I had no feelings for you hadn't ended with you sort of sucking on my cheek for a minute, it wouldn't be my life."
She leaned down and picked up her bag and then headed towards the elevator with all the dignity she could muster. "Good night, Oliver. I'll see you in the morning," she called over her shoulder. A sense of calm washed over her as she walked and if she found herself surprised that she wasn't babbling like an idiot or throwing herself out a window to get out of there as quickly as possible, she didn't let it show. She had every intention of following her original plan. When she came back in the morning she would act as if none of this had happened. She pressed the down button and then turned back to look at her self declared partner, who was still standing over by her desk. Her breath caught when she realized he looked like his entire world might have just blown up.
"It's okay, Oliver," she said loud enough for him to hear. "No harm done. Really."
His head snapped up as if he hadn't realized she'd walked away from him and then he began moving unsteadily towards her. He looked almost scared, she thought, which was crazy. What did he have to be scared of?
He stopped a few feet away from her. "Felicity, please, I-"
"Have you ever watched Doctor Who, Oliver," she interrupted with forced brightness, "or Star Trek?"
"Felicity, if you would just-"
"What about Buffy?"
He looked at her, a spark of anger flashing in his eyes. "Felicity, do you really want to talk about tv right now?"
"Yeah," she said softly."I do. Because I love those shows, those sci fi or fantasy type ones. That's my jam, Oliver. I love any kind of story where if something goes really wrong, you don't have to get too scared because they can always find a big red reset button and get everything back to normal. The characters might die or do something terrible, but with one touch, whoosh! Mistake gone and lesson learned. The characters wake up back where they were before they messed it all up and no one else is ever the wiser."
"Okay." Oliver said cautiously, his fingers beginning to twitch again. His mouth was pulled tight and she could tell that his patience was wearing thin. If she was going to fix this, it had to be now.
"The thing is, Oliver, that I don't have too much in my life that's really great right now. I don't have many friends and my family and I…well, it's complicated. I'm not trying to throw myself a pity party or anything. I like my life. I'm smart and funny, I have my health, and a pretty phenomenal backside, and I'm grateful for all of it." She took a quick breath to make sure she was in control of herself before she began speaking again. "It's just that my world is pretty small these days and it's mostly made up of you, Diggle, and this whole crazy quest thing we're on. So I can't really afford to screw any of that up. Do you know what I mean?"
Oliver nodded, his hand relaxing as the doors to the elevator finally slid open behind her. "Yes, I do."
"Good because I'm getting into this elevator," she said, her lips curling into a small smile as she stepped inside the car. She turned and scanned the panel of buttons before pressing the one that kept the doors open. "And I'm going to pretend that one of these buttons is a reset button. And when I push it, all the stuff that happened tonight will no longer have happened. All we'll remember tomorrow is that I left here right after I gave you the file on Roselle Hydroelectric."
He nodded slowly, definitely not fully invested in her reset button theory yet, but looking much less terrified. It wasn't a perfect solution, but there was nothing else she could think to do that would make this less awkward. Denial was an old friend of hers and she was happy to welcome it back into her life if it would restore normalcy. "I swear Oliver, as far as I'm concerned none of this happened." His eyes met hers again and she shrugged.
"Thank you again, Felicity." His voice was soft and a little sad she thought, but he no longer looked lost and that was enough for her.
She nodded and then looked at the directory panel so she could select the button for the garage. Once she pressed it she released the door hold one. "Since all of this is going to be erased momentarily, though," she said, catching his eyes again, "I will let you in on a little secret."
A bit of uncertainty crept back into Oliver's features. "What's that?"
The doors of the elevator began to slide shut and she smiled. "That sex magic plan of mine was totally solid."
The doors closed and hid him from her view, but she swore she heard him bark out a laugh just as the elevator began to descend.
She examined the directory again and her eyes flared with excitement. There, just on the bottom, was a small red button that read, "STOP." She knew how silly it was to even think about pressing it. There would be alarms and she might even get in trouble for it. But in this moment she needed to believe it was possible and that all she had to do to make everything go back to normal was push.
"Why not?" She murmured to herself.
She placed her fingers against it and pressed.