Title: Hive of Scum and Villainy
Author: Cat Chester
Paring: Oliver/Felicity, Felicity/Bruce
Disclaimer: Not mine. Just fixing what needs fixing and will give them back when I'm done.
Spoilers: Fixing what happened with Sara in 2x13
Summary: Felicity is determined to move past her feelings for Oliver, a quest that is aided when the handsome businessman, Bruce Wayne comes to town, and sets his eye on Oliver's cute IT girl. When their first date is rudely interrupted by Gotham City's new vigilante, The Bat, Team Arrow sets their sites on him. The Bat has his eye on a far larger target however, and is going to need all the help he can get.
AN: Bruce Wayne is based on no particular incarnation but rather, is reimagined for the Arrow universe.
Felicity backed slowly out of the foundry and gently closed the door behind her. She didn't think they had heard her, which was odd given their preternatural instincts but then again, they had been otherwise occupied at the time.
She should have known when she heard the first moan, it was obvious really but like a glutton for punishment, she had rounded the shelving and seen Oliver and Sara going at it like a couple of horny teenagers.
That was the moment at which her heart shattered, because she could no longer lie to herself.
She used to tell herself that she wasn't Oliver's type, he liked brunettes, which she was not. A few times she had considered dying her hair back to it's natural brunette but had reasoned that if Oliver so shallow as to judge by hair colour, she didn't want a relationship with him. Felicity wasn't going to change for any man, not even a billionaire hero like Oliver.
After Russia, she had clung onto his words, wanting to believe that he couldn't be with anyone he cared about. Now she saw that it had been a lie, because she knew from previous interactions, that he cared a great deal for Sara.
The simple truth was, he didn't think she was good enough for him, and that hurt more than she would like to admit.
She made it to her car before the tears overcame her, and she hunched over the wheel, willing her vision to clear for long enough to get home.
It didn't, so she was stuck in the alley behind Verdant, worried that at any moment, Oliver might happen across her and demand to know what was wrong.
Luck finally seemed to be with her as when her tears did abate, she was still alone. She drove home as quickly as she dared.
Once there, she changed into her night clothes, retrieved a tub of vanilla ice cream from the freezer, then sat on her couch to watch Dr Who DVDs.
She supposed that she had known the truth all along, she just hadn't wanted to admit it. She knew that since Lance already used her as his contact to the Arrow, she was in danger; if he had made the connection between her and the Arrow, others could too, so being with Oliver didn't increase the risk she was in. Indeed, hardly anyone knew that he was the Arrow, so being his girlfriend was probably safer than being the Arrow's sidekick.
She could argue herself into or out of almost any frame of mind however, and she had argued herself into believing that Oliver cared about her, or at least, he could care about her, if he ever dared to take the plunge.
Now she couldn't deny it any longer, not without insulting her intelligence, and she wasn't that naive.
'So what now?' she wondered, taking another spoon of her ice cream. Then the irony of her actions hit her. Vanilla ice cream? That was it, wasn't it? She was too vanilla for a man like Oliver. He liked his women to be murderers, cops with guns, assassins and evil business women. Felicity wasn't any of those things. Felicity was nice, normal, and safe. She would probably never know how it felt to be a cold blooded killer. She would probably never experience torture. She would certainly do her best to avoid both experiences.
But she was couching it in nice terms there, the truth was, Felicity Smoak was boring, at least as far as Oliver was concerned.
It was good that she had found out though, because it gave her time to consider how to react. The word, 'Leave,' floated through her mind. It wasn't as if she had to stay, she was contacted an average twice a month by firms wanting to headhunt her, so she had plenty of offers.
It didn't matter how many offers she received though, she knew she couldn't leave. Not because she loved Oliver, she wasn't that shallow, but because she made a real difference working with him. She saved lives, how many people could say that about their jobs? And not just possible lives at some unspecified point in the future, people who would be dead tomorrow or the next day, if she didn't discover the whereabouts of, say, the earthquake machine.
Besides it wasn't like Oliver was suddenly a bad person for not loving her back.
As much as she wanted to, she couldn't hate Sara either; she hadn't stolen Oliver away from Felicity, because Oliver wasn't hers to be stolen. Sara probably had no clue how Felicity felt, they simply hadn't spent enough time together for Sara to have heard too many of her verbal faux pas.
So where did that leave her?
Hiding her feelings, she supposed.
Most people thought that Felicity had no brain to mouth filter and so was unable to lie convincingly, but that wasn't true. She could lie well enough to act in Hollywood when she needed to, she had already played the roles of a delivery girl, a card counter and a secretary to perfection. She only rambled when she was herself, because she was never sure how much to reveal.
So that was the answer, she had to play the part of Oliver's sidekick, IT expert and friend at night, as well as playing his secretary during the day.
Considering that she spent an average of fifteen hours a day with Oliver or Team Arrow, that was a large portion of her life to spend acting as if she was someone else, but what other alternative was there?
She couldn't tell Oliver how much he had hurt her, because that would sound pathetic, needy and desperate, three things which she would not allow herself to be.
She felt better now that she had a plan and got up to put the ice cream away. As she walked back into her living room, she idly wondered if she'd wake up in five years, no longer able to tell who the hell Felicity Smoak really was? Because surely it was impossible to know yourself when you spend too much time playing a part.
Did Oliver ever feel like that?
It didn't really matter one way or the other, because she had no choice but to pretend that this hadn't hurt.
She wondered about going back to the foundry to check on the program she had left running but it would wait. Walking in on them once had been bad enough, she wasn't about to risk it again. And from this point on, she would make as much noise as possible when entering, giving them ample time to hide their activities.
Sara felt like the dumbest woman on the planet. How could she have done that? Had the first time with Oliver taught her nothing?
Laurel was still pissed at her, and rightfully so. As far as Laurel was concerned, Sara was still that same irresponsible kid that had left six years ago, a kid she hadn't forgiven yet. A kid she never would forgive if she discovered that Sara was still sleeping with Oliver Queen.
And in a dusty basement on training mats. The setting was as low rent as she felt right now, which was fitting.
She sat up and pulled her t-shirt on.
"Sara?" Oliver looked puzzled by her behaviour and was giving her a questioning look.
"Laurel can never know about this," she said, hurriedly snatching her clothes up and running to the bathroom to change.
She couldn't look herself in the mirror as she dressed because she knew the guilt she would see there. She already felt enough guilt, she couldn't stand to see more.
Laurel was right in a way, Sara had stolen her life. Sara had run off with her boyfriend, she hadn't called to let them know she was alive, she was responsible for her parents' divorce. Her death was even the catalyst for her father pursuing the Doll Maker so hard, which was the reason he had kidnapped Laurel.
Even when trying to keep her family safe, Sara was the reason that Laurel had been poisoned with snake venom.
She had known that running off with Oliver was wrong, she just hadn't foreseen the massive chain of horrendous events that it would be the catalyst for.
And here she was, repeating the same mistakes because she wanted to feel better, at least for a little while.
Only she felt a thousand times worse now, as if she had betrayed Laurel all over again.
Sara didn't feel like she deserved to be happy, she had taken too many lives to ever feel that weightless and carefree sensation that happiness came with, but Laurel still had a chance at recovering from her addiction and leading a normal life, and Sara intended to do everything she could to make sure that happened.
When she emerged from the bathroom Oliver was pacing the floor, also dressed once again.
"I'm sorry," he said, seemingly having had the same realisation she had. "I shouldn't have done that, I don't know what I was-."
"It's not your fault, Ollie, but it can never happen again."
He gave her a nod of understanding and turned away.
"Where are you staying?" he asked.
She followed him over to the desks. "With my father. My Mom's staying too, although she wants me to go back to Central City with her when she leaves."
"I don't know, maybe for a few days but I want to try and get through to Laurel first. We'll see. Besides, I don't think living with you, even in a mansion so big we'd never have to see each other, would be wise at the moment."
"I, uh, I think I moved out." He began tidying the workout space, pulling arrows and throwing knives out of the wood covered wall, putting the training dummy back where it belonged, out of the way.
"What?" She hadn't expected him to say that.
"Yeah, things are… complicated."
"Have you got a place to stay?" she asked. Not that she could offer him one.
"I'll stay here until I find somewhere."
"Ollie, you can't sleep here, it's too cold and there isn't even a proper bed."
"I'm sure Felicity will find me a place in a day or two. If she doesn't, I can always check into a hotel, or stay with Diggle."
"You take that girl far too much for granted," Sara said.
He turned to her, frowning. "No I don't."
"Oliver, you have a certified genius there who got her PhD in programming and computer science when she was twenty two, and you have her typing up memos and serving coffee."
"She doesn't make coffee," he said defensively.
"Fine, typing up memos and finding apartments for her boss then, either way, she didn't put herself through all that education and take on so much student debt, just to be an EA."
"How do you know so much about her?" he asked.
"I spoke to her the last time I was in town, she's a nice girl, and she treated me like I was normal, which I'm grateful for."
"I don't know what else I can do," Oliver shrugged. "I need her and without the cover story that she works for me, people are going to get very suspicious of me spending so much time with her."
She wondered when Oliver was going to admit to himself, how he felt for Felicity.
She understood why he wanted to push her away, Felicity was light and laughter, while he was darkness and blood, but that didn't change how he felt about her. Sara had stayed away from her family, knowing that they could never accept her if they knew the truth about her, and that she was still putting them in danger by being here. The assassins might have let her go but she had other enemies; you couldn't be an assassin and not make enemies. But she wasn't sorry to be back with them. She loved them. She just had to make sure that her mother and sister never discovered her past, and that her enemies never discovered her.
"We have to organise a formal meeting," Sara said, having dwelt quite enough on relationships and past mistakes for one day.
Oliver nodded. "I'm just waiting for the call from your family but don't worry, I'll act surprised."
She gave him a ghost of a smile.
"I should get going, Mom and Dad are..." her words trailed off as she realised how odd those words sounded. She had a mother and father again, although she could never feel like a child once more; that innocence was forever lost to her. "They're probably worried, so I should go."
Oliver walked over to her and for one heart stopping moment, she wondered if he was going to kiss her again. That would be bad. Very, very bad.
"I'm glad you're back," he said with sincerity. "And if you need a job, legal or illegal, call me."
"You want me to come work at QC?"
He shrugged. "I want you to know that you have options, friends who will help you in any way they can."
The smile she gave him this time was more heartfelt. "Thanks."
She turned and left, wondering about how a man could seem so lonely, when he was surrounded by people who cared about him.
Operation Sidekick was now in effect.
She had put a lot of thought into this role and had decided that sidekick-Felicity would probably look more like last year's Felicity, with curly hair, a semi-permanent ponytail, nice but not designer clothes and mostly flat shoes. Sidekick-Felicity would also use bright pens and pencils, have her own mug at the office for beverages and keep takeout menus in her desk drawer.
So she turned up at the office on Monday morning with her trademark hair style, fairly large earrings, a set of interesting pens and pencil toppers from home, a set of heart shaped post-it notes and wearing a navy pants-suit with a white shirt and low heeled black boots.
She thought that she looked very professional, if a little dull.
Oliver wasn't there, so she headed straight to her desk and began the day's activities.
Oliver came in ten minutes later, carrying his usual two coffees. Their agreement was that as long as he brought her a morning coffee from her favourite coffee shop, she would serve any visitors refreshments. If she fetched a lot of coffee on any particular day, Oliver would add a cupcake or cookie to the coffee the next day.
She smiled as he approached and took the coffee from him, inhaling the aroma as she removed the lid.
"Thank you," she said, as she usually did.
"Did you have a good weekend?" he asked.
"Yeah, it was okay, I guess."
Felicity wondered what to say in reply to that but 'Sex with Sara sounds like more than 'okay you guess', but whatever,' sounded too bitchy for either sidekick-Felicity or secretary-Felicity to say.
"I thought you might come by the foundry," he continued. "I saw you left a program running."
"I was going to but I've been getting so behind on my laundry, so it was stay home and do that, or come to work in Hello Kitty PJs."
He smiled at her but it didn't reach his eyes and she wondered what had him so sad. New relationship-Oliver wasn't usually sad. Troubled perhaps, but not sad.
Perhaps Mrs Queen was right, and he didn't appreciate knowing the truth about Thea's parentage.
"I have a favour to ask you and I know it's not within the remit of your job, your real one or your pretend one, but I was-"
"Spit it out, Oliver."
He took a deep breath. "Can you find me an apartment in the city for under five thousand a month, with room to entertain up to twelve people, then arrange to have my things at the house packed up and moved over?"
"You moved out?"
Oliver nodded. "I couldn't stay there, not knowing what I know."
"I'm so sorry, Oliver."
"This isn't your fault, Felicity, none of it. Remember that."
She just hoped that he remembered it too. "I'll get right on it." She turned to her screen and opened the browser. "Any timescale?"
"As soon as. Today if you can do it."
"Do you want to see first, or do you want me to view it?"
"Do what you think is best, I trust your judgement." He got his wallet out and handed her his credit card. "Put the deposit and first month on there."
"I'm on it. A printout of your schedule is on your desk but you don't have any meetings in for today."
"Thank you." He headed into his office and while his back was turned, she took a few deep, calming breaths.
It seemed like a cruel coincidence, that she was tasked with finding Oliver and Sara a home but since she was the reason he had left the mansion, she couldn't in all good conscience say 'no'.
This acting was going to be harder than she expected but she didn't see that she had any other alternative.
When Felicity came back after lunch, she marched straight through in to Oliver's office.
"Here." She placed a set of keys in front of him and a slip of paper. "This is the address. It's fully furnished and I found a packing firm to move your belongings. Your maid, Raisa, has agreed to oversee the move, making sure they take what they should and not what they shouldn't."
"You found a place already?" He was surprised, she had only been gone for an hour, her usual lunch break.
"Yeah." She handed him an envelope. "That's the rental contract, if you give it back to me as soon as you've read and signed, it, I'll messenger it over to the agent. I've also organised for a housekeeper to go in twice a week to keep the house and your wardrobe in order."
"You think of everything."
"I try." She turned and headed back to her desk. She could feel Oliver's eyes on her as she sat down and wondered if he would ever realise that he had an Adamson Award winner working as a glorified typist. Probably not. Even if he knew, he probably had no idea how prestigious that award was in the technological world.
But she had promised herself that she would not focus on her day job, it was her night job that mattered.
Oliver didn't have time to properly look around but he did want to see his new home, which was the penthouse in an upper class apartment block on Park Crescent, with a magnificent view from all sides, but the park was his favourite.
It had four double bedrooms, a massive living room, dining room, a cosier but still large study, and a kitchen that wasn't much smaller than the conference room at QC. It was tastefully decorated in marble, wood, glass and leather, which created the perfect balance between elegance and warmth.
Felicity hadn't said anything but as he read through the contact, he could see that she had negotiated a seven hundred dollar discount on the rent.
Still, as nice as this place was, he had work to do, so he and Diggle headed back to the car and drove to the foundry.
As they entered, he could hear Felicity talking and wondered if Sara or Roy were already here.
"Okay, I'll talk to you soon. Bye Barry."
Barry? He made his way over to her.
"Is Barry awake?" he asked, wondering why the thought made him feel as if he had been struck in the solar plexus.
Felicity looked up from her laptop. "No, no change."
"But you were talking to him?" he frowned.
"Webcam." She explained. "I left a laptop there. One of the nurses opens it when I text her and loads the webcam chat. Then I read him a few articles from Scientific Showcase, or something I printed off the internet."
"You read him articles?" he sounded amused.
"Yeah, I figure he likes science and if he can hear me, at least he'll have a little bit of a head start when he wakes up. What should I read him, Twilight?"
"From what I hear, that might deepen his coma." Oliver teased.
"They're not that bad," Felicity defended.
"You've read them?"
Felicity shrugged. "I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And I'm a really quick reader, so it only took me a week to finish all four books. And sure, they have their faults, but they're not as bad as some people make out."
"You constantly surprise me," he told her with affection.
Felicity seemed unsure how to reply to that. "Sometimes, I surprise myself."
"So," Diggle said as he approached. "What's on the plan for this evening?"
"Is Sara coming?" Felicity asked. Oliver noticed the slight catch in her voice and how she kept her eyes glued to her screens but he didn't think a lot of it.
"No, she's reconnecting with her family, for a few days at least but speaking of Sara, can you check what vacancies we have at QC?"
"She's… coming to work at QC," Felicity realised. Of course she was, she should have thought if it earlier.
"I don't know yet but I told her we have a job if she wants one.
"What field?" Felicity asked.
"Not sure, I haven't asked her yet, I don't want to rush her. She doesn't have a degree, obviously, and I have no idea what she'd be interested in."
"Given her skill set, security springs to mind," Diggle offered.
"That might raise some eyebrows," Oliver countered. "Besides, if she's going to work with us, she can't be seen to too good a fighter, or people will start asking questions and putting two and two together. If you could just get a list of vacancies, I'll give it to her and let her decide what area she would rather work in."
So the unskilled assassin gets to choose her job, while the highly skilled I.T. worker with a doctorate, has to be a secretary.
'Evening job, it's the evening, job that counts,' she told herself, repeating it over and over.
She didn't look up at him until his hand landed on her shoulder. "What?"
"You're mumbling, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she smiled, then turned back to her screens.
She was interrupted a moment later when her phone rang. "It's Lance," she said after glancing at the screen.
She passed the phone to Oliver and watched as he spoke, eager to hear what would be keeping them busy this evening.
"Ah, yeah, actually… its Ms Smoak I wanted to talk to."
Oliver frowned and handed the phone back to Felicity, who looked at it as though it may bite her.
"What?" she hissed.
"He wants to talk to you," he whispered.
"Ask him and find out," Oliver suggested.
Reluctantly, Felicity took the phone.
"Ms Smoak, I'm sorry to bother you, but I know that you know the truth about my daughter through your work with the Arrow. Have you told your boss yet?"
"Told my boss?"
"That Sara isn't dead, that she didn't die on his boat."
"No, I haven't."
"Then do you know where he is? I think it's time he knew the truth, don't you?"
"I do, but why are you telling me this?"
"Because I've called his office and his house and no one knows where he is. I don't have his cell number and Laurel won't give it to me, so you're my only link to him right now."
"Yeah, he actually moved today. Um, I have his new address around here somewhere, or do you want his phone number?"
"I think maybe the address, this is the sort of thing that's better done in person."
"Okay, it might take me a moment to find it, so can I call you back?"
"Sure, text it to me."
"Will do, Detective."
Felicity hung up and relayed the call to Oliver, who nodded his understanding.
"There's no telling how long this will take, so take the night off. Go home, get some rest."
"I will," she assured him. "I just have a few things to check on first."
Oliver turned to Diggle. "You too, go be with Lyla."
Diggle didn't argue. "I'll drop you off on my way."
Felicity listened to them talk as they headed out and couldn't help her thoughts from wondering what the reunion would be like. Once Oliver officially knew that Sara was alive, they could go public with their relationship.
She couldn't even begin to imagine how Laurel would react to that news and she wasn't at all looking forward to the fallout. As such, it didn't surprise her when nothing was mentioned over the coming days about their relationship. If she was them, she would probably keep everything on the down low too, not wanting to upset Laurel any more and risk damaging her relationship with Sara beyond redemption.
She was also glad that Sara stayed away from the Arrow cave. Oliver explained that she would join them but she just needed some time with her family first.
That was good, because Felicity needed time too.
Felicity was feeling quite happy as she headed to her local coffee shop; last night they had taken down an arms dealer, before that, they'd stopped a serial rapist, Roy was doing fairly well with controlling his anger (which is to say he hadn't killed anyone yet) and Oliver and Sara had been very discreet (which is to say, she'd seen hide nor hair of Sara since she'd caught them going at it). All in all, not a bad weeks work.
Felicity still had an uneasy feeling about the whole Mirakuru situation, for example, if Officer Daily had been behind the plot, where had he got the resources to make the serum? Why was he making it? And why would he steal the file on Sebastian Blood's father's murder? She hadn't voiced those concerns to Oliver yet, and wouldn't until she had proof, but she was still looking for information on the side, in the hopes that her fears would be proven either true or better still, untrue.
She was also doing pretty well playing the role of sidekick-Felicity and in fact, it had made life a little easier, as she wasn't as inclined to go off on rambling tangents.
The constant pretending was starting to become a little wearing however, so she intended to enjoy her Saturday off. She had brought her tablet, which was loaded with the latest articles from various science and technology sites, and would sit quietly for a couple of hours, indulging her loves for technology, cake and coffee. Bliss.
Between their two jobs, they didn't get an awful lot of free time but they tried to have one day, or at least one evening, off a week. On the whole, Felicity didn't mind the hours. When Oliver asked her to be his secretary and she told him that she had worked very hard to get where she was, she hadn't been lying; she loved her work and could often be found there into the evenings, puzzling over bugs in the system.
She still didn't like her day job but she had to admit that now she wasn't focusing on the companies' IT issues, she had more time and dedication for her night job, which was the important one.
She had written at least five different programs that would probably be worth a small fortune to businesses or law enforcement, but that technology was too important to ever sell; anything that gave Oliver the upper hand, even if it was just a very good data mining program, was priceless to her.
Now if only she could write a program that would stop him being shot, stabbed and hit, all her problems would be solved.
She pushed her way into the coffee shop and paused as she inhaled the aromas; coffee, vanilla and freshly baked cakes… were there any nicer smells in the world? She thought not, except maybe the aftershave Oliver wore, that was also one of the nicest smells.
She placed her order at the counter then turned away to find a table.
She looked up to see a handsome brunette man looking at her.
"It's James Bond." She said, then almost immediately realised that she had said that out loud and cringed. "You're in the papers a lot and usually wearing a tuxedo and James Bond wears a lot of tuxedos so when I see you, I now think, 'Oh look, it's James Bond again'."
He was smiling as she rambled, much like Oliver often seemed to enjoy her tangents, but that did little to ease her shame.
"I'm sorry, Mr Wayne."
"It's quite all right. Will you join me?" He gestured to the chair opposite and after a brief hesitation, Felicity sat down.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
"No small talk?" he replied.
"We can make meaningless small talk for the requisite amount of time if you like, or I can just ramble, which might be easier, certainly on you, or we could get to the point and save us both a lot of time."
"I like people who are direct," he assured her. "But surely you can guess why I'm here?"
"If I'm right, you're going to be disappointed, Mr Wayne."
"Please, call me Bruce."
"You're still going to be disappointed, Bruce."
He smiled and shook his head, as if unable to figure something out. "You can't be happy in your current position?"
"Because you graduated top of your class at MIT and got your PhD before you were 22; because you solved the Repack Problem as a freshman, won the Adamson Award for your thesis, and because the data encryption program you wrote three years ago, still surpasses anything being brought to the market today. Look me in the eye and tell me that you're happy being a glorified secretary."
Felicity couldn't deny his words, she hated her day job, but he didn't know about the work it enabled her to do in the off hours. She was certain that at least two of the programs she had written specifically for Team Arrow, would revolutionise computer science but they could never know, because Oliver's need was greater than the rest of the world, and greater than her own need for recognition.
"It's not ideal, but my job has other rewards," she answered.
"So it's true, you are dating Oliver Queen?"
She blushed as he realised how he had taken her words. She and Oliver had never discussed the rumours that flew around Queen Consolidated but she assumed he was aware of them. She just didn't realise that they might have spread outside the company, let alone all the way to Gotham City.
"No, that isn't what I meant. Working for Oliver, I mean, Mr Queen…" How did she convince him that she was happy, without revealing that she spent her nights moonlighting for the local vigilante?
"I can give you a position and a wage commensurate to your talents, Miss Smoak, just name your terms."
"Call me Felicity," she had to say that since he had said she could use his Christian name, but she didn't sound happy about it. "And I have no conditions because I'm happy where I am."
Bruce considered her for a long moment, sizing her up. "What does he have on you?"
"Whatever it is, I can make sure it goes away."
"He's not blackmailing me! Just-"
She was interrupted when the waitress came over with her latte and slice of coffee cake, and waited until they were alone again before she resumed speaking.
"Look, I have a great deal of respect for Oliver, which is why I accepted this job and you might not believe it, but I'm not sleeping with him, I'm doing this because together, we can make a real difference to this city."
"Atone for his mother's sins?"
"Something like that," she agreed.
Suddenly he flashed her a million watt smile. "Well, you can't blame a guy for trying, can you?"
She just gave him an enigmatic smile, surprised that he had given up so easily, but relieved nonetheless.
"And you really aren't dating your boss?"
"I'm really not," she maintained eye contact, willing him to believe her.
"Good, then perhaps this visit might not be a total loss."
Felicity frowned at the statement.
"I arranged a few other business meetings while I'm in town and couldn't avoid being invited to a Gala in support of Mrs Queen's candidacy for mayor this evening. Perhaps you would like to accompany me?"
Felicity's jaw dropped. "What?"
"I'm asking you to be my date for the ball," he elaborated, seeming amused by her reaction.
"Why not? I don't have a date and you're a very pretty woman, plus you're intelligent and you're not frightened of or awed by my wealth and status, as many would be. You seem perfect."
"I can't." She was free tonight because Oliver was attending the gala, but she was definitely not Mrs Queen's favourite person right now and she had a feeling that accepting would not end well.
"You're going with Oliver?" he guessed.
"No, I'm not going at all. And Oliver is only putting an appearance in, so he's not why I'm staying away either."
"Then why not go with me? I promise you, my manners are impeccable."
The smile he was giving her, somewhere between a self-satisfied smirk and a promise, was hard to resist and although she fought it, she could feel her own lips trying to form a smile at the idea.
And really, why shouldn't she have a night out? She hadn't had a date in…well, far too long. Oliver was with Sara, Diggle had Lyla, and even their newest member, Roy had Thea, while her only romantic prospect in recent months, Barry, was still sleeping, so why shouldn't she have fun for once?
It wasn't like anything would come of it, Bruce Wayne lived in another city and had his own empire to run, so what harm could a night of dancing and nice food hurt?
Thankfully the ball was being thrown by a supporter of Mrs Queen, not the woman herself or Felicity would never have dared to show her face, not after Moira had threatened her the last time they met. She wasn't scared of her exactly, but she was well aware of how ruthless Mrs Queen could be in the pursuit of what she wanted.
"Okay," she finally agreed.
"Great, I'll pick you up at seven."
"I'll give you my address." She began to rummaging her purse but Bruce placed his hand on hers, stilling her. She looked up into his eyes, which were far too close for comfort, and suddenly felt rather light-headed by his proximity.
"My people did a thorough back ground check on you before we first approached you, so I know where you live."
"And that's how you knew I'd be here." Suddenly this encounter made a lot more sense.
"It is. Please don't be angry, if this was just a date, I wouldn't have committed such a gross invasion of privacy."
"I'm not angry, just unsettled."
Bruce smiled and leaned back, removing his hand from hers, which suddenly felt rather chilled now.
"I know that feeling," he said, and she could tell that he was being sincere. "My whole life has been lived under the microscope of the press."
"Anyway, here's my card," he fished a business card out of his wallet and handed it over. "My cell number is on the back."
She turned it over and sure enough, written in a large but elegant script, was his phone number.
"I know I'm intruding on your usual routine, so I'll leave you in peace to enjoy your cake and coffee. Until this evening, Felicity."
He stood up and offered her his hand. The frisson of attraction she felt as she placed her hand in his, made her smile.
"I'm looking forward to it," she assured him.
Bruce bent forward and raised her hand to his lips, placing a soft kiss on her knuckles, which made her blush.
And then he was gone, while she sat there a little stupefied for a few moments. He had kissed her hand. He had kissed her hand and invited her on a date. She was going on a date with Bruce Wayne! Bruce Wayne had very soft lips, but rather calloused hands, which was odd for a billionaire but she was more interested in how his lips felt than his hands.
She knew she was sitting there with a big, goofy smile on her lips, but she couldn't help it.
Maybe it wouldn't last, maybe it would just be one night but damn, she could already tell that it was going to be a night to remember.