Title: The First Time
Genre: Alternative History, Romance, Angst
Word Count: 12,480
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters presented in this stories nor the show from which they originate. Unfortunately.
Summary: What if Oliver and Felicity developed their personal relationship before their vigilante partnership? How would this not only change their dynamic but also the fate of everyone around them and Starling City itself? After Oliver takes the bullet-riddled laptop to her in 1x03, he never seeks out her technical support again. Instead, The Hood starts to go to her at night.
A/N: So, here I am again. More than a year ago, I promised myself that I was done with fanfiction, that, after I finished posting my rather large backlog of chapters and wrapped up long forgotten, in-progress stories that I would focus, instead, upon original stories. But then Olicity happened. I've always been someone who struggles to turn off her mind. Even when it should be busy and occupied with other things – important things – like driving and work, my brain constantly spins around storyline ideas. Sometimes I can ignore them; other times, I cannot. In two weeks time, I've come up with three sheets of fic idea for Olicity, and, when I say ideas, I don't mean fully developed, outlined story plans; they're rough, and vague, and just enough to remind me of those scenes I've already scripted entirely in my mind. This weekend, it got to the point where I couldn't just jot the ideas down and move on; I had to write one. So, I picked something that intrigued me but that I also thought could be satisfied with just a one shot... only, when I finished this story late last night... or, rather, early this morning, I realized that all I had managed to do was set up a full-length fic. Whether or not I will write this full-length fic, I have no idea. The fact of the matter is that I don't want to still be writing fanfiction; I just find that I have to. Compelled to write or not, I'm rusty. Like Tin-man rusty. There are moments of this story that I really like, and then there are moments that I'm totally not sold on but that I just accepted. Like I said: three pages! If you've actually managed to make it this far into this ridiculously long author's note, I ask that, when you read this, you keep in mind that I am several episodes intentionally behind on Arrow (trust me, I have my reasons), so, while I know that 2x13 revealed new information about Felicity's backstory, I am not privy to it. Enjoy and see you again soon (I'm sure).
The First Time
An Olicity One Shot
The first time Oliver went to her as The Hood she had no idea he was there. No one did, which was exactly as he wanted it, as he intended. He told himself it was just to make sure that she was alright, that, in going to her with his intentions tainted by the ugliness of his mission earlier, he had not somehow pulled her irrevocably into the bloody mess that was his existence. He had been with her that day for just a few minutes – nothing in comparison to the amount of time he had lived with the knowledge of what he must do for his father. For the city. For himself. Yet, in those few minutes, he had felt himself – all of himself: Oliver Queen and The Hood – respond to her.
Standing on the rooftop of the building next to where she lived, Oliver could see directly into her bedroom. Her curtains were sheer and gauzy, dancing in the slight breeze that somehow managed to wind its way through the corridors of alleys and narrow roads, ghosting through downtown Starling City despite how condensed and overgrown the place he had been raised in and returned to in order to make amends had become. Occasionally, those blowing curtains would obscure the sight of her before him, making her hazy yet no less real. And alive. And vital, even in her sleep. Hands fisted at his sides, he timed his breathing to match that of the woman obliviously resting across from him.
His excuse was that he had come to make sure, just as he had responded to her, that she had not responded to him. While he had made the mistake of involving her in his business in the first place, he feared that she'd be too intrigued to just let the meeting between them and everything it had revealed drop. He couldn't allow that to happen. In her office, it had been apparent that his sudden presence before her, his pathetic subterfuge, and their co-discoveries on the bullet-hole ridden laptop had awakened her curiosity. He had watched as her mind worked frantically, putting together the pieces of the puzzle he himself didn't even quite grasp yet faster than words could trip from her full, painted lips. And trip from her mouth words certainly did.
That was the real reason why he was watching her. Guarding her. Absorbing her any and every which way he possibly could. She didn't put up a front with him. For him. Unlike everyone else in his life, she was the only person who had apparently refused to play a role, to act like she thought he would want or need her to because of everything he had been through, was still going through as he assimilated back to society. She didn't close herself off, and she didn't compensate for anything so many others found lacking in him. She was real, and she was fresh, and he had walked out of her office with a whole hell of a lot more than he had bargained for; he had walked away craving more – craving more of her light, craving more of how he felt around her, craving more of her.
So, he came to her. Even if in secret, even if he was standing out in the night a voyeur into her dreams rather than an actual presence in her life, it was enough. For now. It was a balm against everything else he was feeling. And not feeling. After a day of failure trying to be what everyone expected of him and after a night of failure trying to be what he expected of himself, Oliver breathed – with her, for her.
While he didn't doubt that he would need her tech help again, he planned on staying away from her, no matter how much such a commitment could set his mission back. He wouldn't, couldn't even go to her as Oliver Queen, his guise by day. She didn't need the ineptness that was his public persona to tarnish her ability or her reputation. Because it would. If he was a part of her life – even if only platonically, Oliver had no doubt that he'd somehow ruin her. Hurt her. Destroy her. He had so many scars. Too many. And, unfortunately, it wasn't the physical reminders of what his life had been like for five years, what his life had now become since returning to Starling City, that he feared.
Now, he just had to make sure that coming to her in secret as The Hood would be enough. As Oliver stood on the ledge of the building next to where she lived, he laughed bitterly at his sudden recognition of the metaphor his very stance represented. Closing his eyes, he burned the image of her so relaxed, so free and safe into his mind, and then he turned to leave, walking away.
The first time Felicity realized he had been there it was the middle of the night. Not that she actually knew who he was at that point. Or that he was even a he. At least, not yet. No, what she actually realized first was that she was awake. For anyone else, such a moment of clarity would have been obvious, but Felicity Smoak wasn't just anyone else, and she certainly did not have the sleeping habits or patterns of the normal person. She was a heavy sleeper – a your-neighbor's-house-was-on-fire-and-you-slept-through-it heavy sleeper. And that wasn't just hyperbole. It had really happened. When she was eleven, her next door neighbor had a chimney fire, and, after the fact, she learned that the entire fire department had ended up parked just outside her window for half the night. She had never heard her neighbor's screams; never heard the trucks; never even woke up to the swirling, strobing lights. Her parents had dismissed her heavy sleeping as that befitting the innocence of her age, only it hadn't disappeared when she became a self-obsessed teenager – their words for describing how difficult it was to wake her – or when she became an overworked adult... or so everyone in her life assumed and she allowed them to believe.
But there was nothing loud, or garishly bright, or even acrid to her nose to explain why she had so suddenly and so out of character been roused from her always deep sleep. Yet, she was awake, and Felicity knew that something had triggered her abrupt return to consciousness. Glancing around her dark bedroom, she was stumped for a moment as she both adjusted to her surroundings and her sudden propulsion into a mystery. Okay, so maybe mystery was a little dramatic, but it was the middle of the night. She was bored. And had she already mentioned that she was awake?
It was when she went to readjust her glasses that the proverbial clouds parted, allowing light to be shed on the answers to her question. Her glasses were gone – folded neatly and placed on her bedside table where she usually put them at night before going to sleep... only, earlier, she distinctly remembered falling asleep in bed while reading, staying up later than she should considering her alarm never failed to sound before she wanted it to. But she couldn't help it – the reading. Unlike her usual modus operandi, it wasn't a new novel that was keeping her up burning the midnight oil. No, it was a whole different kind of obsession, one distinctly not pop culture related.
For reasons Felicity could not understand, she was drawn to the vigilante. She found him (she assumed it was a him based upon the physical description the police were circulating and because, really, The Hood couldn't be a girl because that wasn't how Felicity imagined him)... fascinating. So much of what he did was wrong according to everything she had been raised to believe, to trust in, to value, but she also couldn't argue that the man got results. More than that, though, she just somehow felt that his reasons for everything that he was doing wrong were right. The juxtaposition between the vigilante's motive and actions was engaging, provoking, and far more revealing into her own psyche than any book could ever possibly be. Plus, there was something about The Hood which tickled the back of her mind... And she was very ticklish.
The silent confession was enough to have Felicity looking for her tablet so she could check her Hood RSS Feed to see if any new information had been reported, only it, too, was closed and put away on her desk. For that matter, the lamp on her bedside table which had been left on when she fell asleep hours earlier was now dark, so, unless she had suddenly developed a new hobby of sleep walking, someone had been in her apartment; someone had been in her apartment, had taken off her glasses, had put her glasses and tablet away, and had turned off her light.
She should have felt panicked. She should have felt violated, and angry, and scared, and vulnerable, and... so many other things. But she didn't. Instead, Felicity just felt like she was missing something – some vital clue that would make everything else in her mind, in her heart, in her life simply fall into place. And then she saw it: a simple, unpretentious, blink-and-you'd-miss-me-because-you-own-so-many-others-just-like-me bottle of nail polish on her nightstand – beside her folded glasses, beside her turned off lamp. She didn't keep her polish there, though, and, despite how many various colors and shades of those same colors she owned, Felicity didn't own a hue anywhere near that shade of green. Green-black green. Hood green.
That's how she knew he had been there.
The first time Oliver realized she knew exactly who was sneaking into her bedroom at night... not him as in Oliver Queen but, rather, The Hood, he smirked. She left him a note, but, unlike any other woman he had ever met or could ever meet, she didn't write it down on a piece of paper that would later need to be destroyed or whose words would potentially be left behind in a notepad as reminders that would just need to be rubbed in order to be revealed once more. She didn't save it to her tablet, and her wireless had even been temporarily disconnected. Instead, what he found himself looking at was an unnamed, unsaved, typed missive that could – and would – be deleted with a single touch. Hell, she already had the words highlighted, so all he had to do was press a key. Any key would do the trick.
To enjoy whatever it was she felt the need to say to him, Oliver sat down at her desk, liking that he was taking up a space she had filled so many times in the past. It made him feel closer to her, especially because she was right over his shoulder and could wake at any time, her drowsy gaze landing knowingly upon him. He smiled at the thought and at how well he felt he already knew her, for everything she had done that evening fit with his expectations of her. She was too smart for her own good – for his own good, and he had known the first day he had met her that she'd no doubt be better at this game of Russian Roulette that he played every night than he was. This was also the reason, however, that his smile was bittersweet.
Dear Hood... or should that be Mr. Hood?... Vigilante/Mr. Vigilante?... or I could call you V (like in V for Vendetta, but, in your case, it would be V for Vigilante, but that seems too informal, too personal. Yet, on the other hand, you've obviously been in my bedroom, and you've folded my glasses... which, in this girl's book, is a pretty darn intimate thing to do.
Okay, so I still don't know what to call you, and that's probably the longest salutation in the history of salutations. Alert Guinness. And, yes, I probably should have just deleted that ramble, but I babble; it's who I am. Okay, so it's not who I am, but it's an important part of me – unfortunate but important, and I feel like it's something that you should know about me... if you don't already. But that would imply that we've met before. And have talked. And, if I go down that rabbit hole of thought, I'll become way too distracted trying to recall every conversation I've had since The Hood – I mean you – first appeared in Starling City, and I'll never get to my point. And, yes, I do actually have one. A point, that is. Pinkie swear.
So, here it is; here goes nothing. My point: while I can't even begin to fathom why of all the bedrooms, in all the apartments, in all of Starling City, you come into mine every night (Oh yeah, I also tend to babble and speak in pop culture references, like they are a language unto themselves.), you do – come into my bedroom, that is; you come to me. And, maybe I'm being a total girl here and over-analyzing this little arrangement we seem to find ourselves in, but that has to mean something. Ipso Facto, I have to mean something. To you. I have no idea why, but it's the only conclusion I've been able to come to since the night I woke up and realized you had been there... and that you've come back every night since. I must confess that it's a heady assumption, one that I like, so the fact that I'm about to put your visits at risk with what I'm going to ask of you should tell you how much my request means to me.
And please don't stop reading.
Bear with me as I try to express why I feel like I even have the right to ask anything of you.
It's because it's not for me. Not really, at least. I mean, sure, it'd make me feel better to know that, when you come to me at night, it's not after you've killed somebody. It's not that I fear you or even what you do. I'm rational enough to realize that these men you go after as The Hood are horrible, despicable people who hurt others every single second of every single day. I also know that your actions are driven by something bigger than just blood thirst, or revenge, or even a need to do... something to help. You have a purpose.
While contemplating your actions before, I once told myself that, though how you do what you do is wrong, your reasons are right. But I don't even know if this is a good explanation. Words like right and wrong seem too simple to explain vigilantism, but I really didn't even know how else to describe it. And, really, who am I to judge right from wrong – whether they be your actions or anyone else's for that matter? What I do know, however, is that you're a good man. While I might not agree with how you do what you do, I believe in what you are doing. And nobody evil or bad could ever be as gentle (kind of creepy... in a way that I 100% admit is a turn on... but gentle) as you've been towards me. And my glasses. And my tablet. And my lamp. My inanimate objects thank you. But anyway... these words – good and bad, good and evil – are just as simple, as empty as right and wrong, so they, too, are incapable of really expressing what I'm trying to say here. But they're also all I have. (If you didn't already know that I work with computers all day... which I'm assuming you do know because, like we've previously established, you climb through my window every night... Well, either way, you know now. Because of this, words are not my forte, though I spew (and type) enough of them.)
I won't turn you away, and I won't turn away from you... even if your hands are covered in the blood of those you seek to make pay for their sins. But I fear that, someday, you'll turn away from yourself, that you'll stop coming to me, because your cause is too right and you are too good to live with the deaths of so many on your conscience. Or your heart. So, for your own peace of mind...
Well, that's it. That's my big, scary speech. I'm done now. I also suck at goodbyes, which applies to closing a letter or... really, when I think about, stopping communication of any form, so I'm going to follow the KISS principle just this one time, because I think I've said way too much for one evening as it is. Plus, after how heavy this letter was, I'm hoping to make you laugh. Or at least chuckle. Maybe snicker? Heck, I'd even take a smirk. So, here goes nothing...
P.S. I really like my polish. :-) I wear it every day. (If you don't believe me, a take a peak at my non-kosher appendages, but make sure you cover them back up, because I get really cold really easily.) Anyway, you're going to have to tell me where you got it, because I'll need to pick some more up soon. You have no idea how often I paint, and then strip, and then repaint my nails, because I do it when I need to think, and I do it when I want to stop thinking. (Wow. That might have made even less sense when I typed it, but it's the truth, nonetheless.) Anywho... Dankeschön. (And, yep, I totally just said that in my Wayne Newton voice.)
When Oliver pressed Felicity's Delete key, his mind was too full of thoughts and his heart was too heavy with feelings for him to sort through to even have an inkling as to how he wanted to respond to her very personal, very passionate letter. To even know that she cared enough to write to him...
While he wasn't ready to react to her request, he also couldn't walk away from her that night without saying something. So, he quickly typed a response – Thank you., knowing that, when she woke up in the morning, she'd erase it just as he had her words, though he knew their impact upon him, upon her, and upon them would stretch long into the future. Afterwards, he slipped out her window, as silently as always. But he didn't return home as he usually did following a visit to her bedroom. Instead, he took to the streets, needing to work off the nervous energy still coursing through his veins after reading her note.
Though Oliver still wasn't sure what he thought of her words, he did know that he was a man of action. Whatever his emotions, they would only make themselves clear to him when he was in the middle of a fight, and he wanted to know what he felt. So, he found a fight, he won a fight, and, as he walked away from a fight, he found himself wondering what Felicity would think when her RSS Feed alerted her in the morning to the fact that The Hood had, for the first time, missed his mark, for, when the opportunity presented itself to end the would-be thief he had stumbled across that evening, Oliver found his aim purposely diverted away from a kill shot. Would she, just like the media, think that he had simply had an off night, or would she realize that, whether she proclaimed words weren't her forte or not, what she had said, what she thought of The Hood, mattered to him.
While Oliver knew that he would kill again in the future and probably many times over, Felicity had helped him see that death did not always have to be his first instinct, that he did not want death to define him. Rather, he wanted her to. Because, while the destruction of the island had shaped who he was as the vigilante, he wasn't the man who had been stranded there for five years either. He was using those lessons he had learned in the fire of survival to forge a new identity... even if he couldn't show that man to anyone but her. Oliver knew he had to protect Felicity from the man the rest of the world saw him as but maybe at night, with her, he could be the man he wanted to be, the man she deserved.
The first time Felicity asked for his help she did so out of desperation. While she didn't know what they were to each other, what she was to him, she knew that they were more than friends, and friends didn't use each other... not even when the annoying jerkface from marketing used both his space and hers to park his compensatingly large (or so she'd imagine) Hummer at work so she was forced to park her own vehicle in Timbuktu (aka the top deck of the parking garage, which just so happened to be exposed to the elements. And her hair did not do well in the elements, thank you very much)... to solve problems or score a little payback. If she had been able to think of anything else, if there was any other option...
"I'm sure you've seen the news... you know, about my boss. Walter. I mean, Mr. Steele. He was taken."
She was nervous enough as it was before she saw him tense, but that stiffening of his shoulders, the way he seemed to put even more distance between them without actually stepping further away from her just made Felicity's anxiety ratchet up that much more. Like... she was talking palms sweating, knees quaking, teeth rattling, feel the ulcer forming in her gut as she paced back and forth across the small, wooden expanse of her bedroom floor distress. And was that her breathing that sounded like a schizophrenic ceiling fan? She was one paper bag shy of a full-blown panic attack.
When he didn't say anything, the rest of what she had to tell him, ask of him just spilled forth from her chapped lips. Felicity spoke so fast she feared that she'd be forced to say everything again, but noticing the speed of her words just seemed to make them come that much quicker. "They haven't asked for a ransom; there's been no demands, so does that mean he was even kidnapped – which, by the way, is such a ridiculous word, because he's not a kid, and naps are one of my favorite things, but what else are you supposed to call it when someone is taken against their will?" She took a breath and plunged on, down through the slippery slope that was her mind in that moment. It was the middle of the night, but she had yet to sleep a wink. Couldn't. Wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to sleep again – at least, not restfully.
"Everyone at works thinks that he was taken because of who he is... you know, a Queen through marriage whose safe return will demand a king's ransom, but, like I said, there's been no phone call, no text, no email, absolutely no form of communication to demand... anything. He's just... gone. And I listened to them theorize and wonder all day long, when the whole time I knew. I knew. I know."
She expected him to ask her what she knew. When he didn't, Felicity looked at him for the first time since her words seemed to erect a distance between them. What she found was... resignation – like he wasn't surprised that she knew, like he was expecting it, like it confirmed all his worst fears and failures. The look upon his face... or what she could see of his face with both his hood up and his paint on... was a heavy burden to bear. She didn't like that she had made him feel such things. But it also spurred her forward, wanting to just rip the bandaid off, so to speak, rather than draw out both of their torture any longer.
"Here," she said, practically shoving the notebook Walter had asked her to investigate into The Hood's hands, its binding leaving her fingers feeling blistered and raw. The Vigilante almost dropped it – like he didn't want to touch it either. "Walter... I mean, Mr. Steele – or, whatever, because you know what? I do. I call him Walter. It's informal, and unprofessional, and probably way too familiar of me, but he's nice to me; he's my friend. Or... at least, he was." Because, just like everyone else in Walter Steele's life, she didn't know if he was still alive, and she was well past the point of optimism.
"Where did you get this?" His voice was rough, not because he was trying to disguise it but because the words he uttered seemed to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the back of his throat.
"Walter gave it to me. He asked me to look into it. And I did. Or, at least, I was trying to do so before he was... taken. Between the spy ink – now you see me; now you don't – and the names that are listed on those pages..." Felicity swallowed roughly, lifting a hand to her throat as though to sooth the damage her words had wrought. "I think whoever took Walter did so because of that notebook, and I think they'll kill him because of it, too... if they haven't already. I can't do anything more with it; I've already done too much. And I don't trust that the cops can save him either. But maybe... but maybe you can."
And, just like that, she watched as the tension was banished from his body. It was as though her faith in him was strong enough to not only calm her own fears but to exile whatever demons he had been battling as soon as she had set her problems upon his wide, capable, yet too burdened shoulders. "Do you... do you feel that you're in danger? Do you think they'll come after you? Have you noticed anyone...?"
She interrupted him, wanting to put his worry at ease. "No." Shrugging her shoulders and smiling in a self-deprecating manner, she admitted, "nobody knows about me. I'm just an IT girl."
His hand that wasn't holding the notebook came up to cup her face, his palm caressing her jaw, his long fingers slipping into her hair, his thumb rubbing her cheek bone where it was its most prominent. "You're not just an IT girl, Felicity Smoak; you're remarkable."
And then he was gone before she could react. Before she could lean forward and touch him. Kiss him. Before she could even realize that they had just had one of the most important conversations of her life while she was wearing nothing but underwear and a cami.
(Seriously? How did she end up in these situations?)
The first time he went to her injured he just... didn't know where else to go. But that's what happened when a mother shoots her son. True, his mother didn't know that she was shooting him. No, her gun had been aimed at The Hood, but a small part of Oliver resented the fact that not even the woman who had given birth to him, who was supposed to love him unconditionally, couldn't see past the mask he wore at night. The other, much larger part of him was relieved that she was so unsuspecting of his secret. That relief, however, couldn't take the sting of knowledge away from him that his mother, in ways he feared he was just beginning to understand, was culpable of the very evil he was destroying himself in order to eradicate.
Somehow, someway, Oliver had managed to hang on long enough for Digg to find him; somehow, someway, Digg had managed to do just that. And, after patching Oliver up and eliciting a promise that he'd go home and rest, his partner, his friend had left him alone. But home wasn't always a place, and rest was easier said than done, especially since Oliver had gotten to the point where he couldn't sleep without first seeing her. So, without thought of consequence, he had left the Foundry's basement and set off for Felicity's.
He didn't scale the building that evening or jump onto her fire escape from the roof he had first watched her from so many visits before; instead, he simply, wearily climbed the fire escape like a normal stalker would. Somehow, someway, he managed to make it to her bedroom, practically stumbling over her window ledge because he just couldn't stand for a moment longer. While his fall seemed unnervingly loud to his ears, his body was too well-trained to make that much noise. Still, it was enough to wake the formerly sound sleeper he so desperately needed to see, and, before he could apologize, or explain why he was there, or tell her to stay away from him because he didn't want her to end up with his blood on her hands, she was already there. Touching him. Cradling him against her.
After several minutes, she whispered, "I read what happened. Are you okay?" Before he could answer, Felicity rushed to add, "I mean, obviously you're not okay. You were shot. But you're here, so that must mean you're alright... or, at least, as alright as someone who was just shot could be."
He wondered how she would think he was doing if she knew that it was his own mother who had shot him. For one glistening moment, he contemplated telling her, craving her solace of that emotional wound, too, but Oliver quickly pushed his desire away. Buried it. Because he wasn't ready for her to know that part of him; he wasn't sure if he'd ever be ready for her to know that part of him. So, instead of saying anything and risking revealing everything, he just remained silent. She accepted his reticence, even embraced it by simply holding him that much tighter.
Eventually, he could tell that she was too uncomfortable to remain sitting the way they were, so she shifted, and, when she did, the hand that had been comfortingly resting against his beating heart came away stained. "Blood. There's blood."
He went to tell her that it was old, that it was all dried and that he was fine, but, even by the scant light of the moon, he could see that her palm was wet. He must have ripped a stitch of two of Digg's handiwork while coming to see her. It was worth it, though; she was worth it. However, the blood was also a reminder that he shouldn't be there, not in his current state. "I should go."
As he stood to leave, she stood with him, but, rather than allowing him to crawl back out her window, she tugged him towards her bed. Really, though, tugged was too strong of a word. If Oliver was entirely honest with himself, even more than he didn't want to leave, he wanted her to want him to stay. And she apparently did.
The relief he felt when he was finally reclined in her bed was nothing compared to the comfort and contentment that settled over him once her small body curled itself around his. Despite her fear and compassion for him, she wasn't afraid to hold him tight. Resting on her side, she wove one of her legs between his and wrapped one of her arms around his torso, gently laying her hand over his chest once more. With each beat of his heart, he felt her fingers spasm against him until she eventually fell asleep. And, sometime during the night, he joined her, only waking when the faintest light of the morning first broke across the horizon.
Not wanting to disturb her but knowing that he needed to leave, Oliver slowly eased his body away from her and then up until he was standing over her bed. Her once pristine, white sheets were now smeared with both his blood and the paint he wore on his face to deny his own identity. The sights sent pangs of horror and heat through his body, respectively, and it should have been enough to make him stop whatever it was they were doing with each other. Together. But he just... couldn't. In the quiet and stillness of dawn, Oliver could admit to himself that he was just too far gone to pull away now. At least he could take refuge in the fact that she only knew him as The Hood and only in secret. As long as he kept it that way, she'd be safe – from his enemies, of course, but, more importantly, from him as well.
The first time Felicity learned his taste she immediately knew she was addicted. She woke up deliciously slowly, just knowing that he would be there, watching her, whenever she finally managed to flutter her lashes open. And she was right. Though, if she could have had him closer – i.e. in her bed – she would definitely have made that change. However, beggars couldn't be choosers, and she'd take him any which way she could... even if that meant he was sitting on her floor, refusing to even touch her.
Smiling softly, she sat up to lean against an elbow. She went to move her free hand to tousle her no doubt extremely mussed hair, but then Felicity noticed that her hand was holding her sheet – his sheet up against her chest, and she stilled. The night before she had found him bleeding and emotionally shattered on her bedroom floor, and then, that afternoon, she had come home from work to a package on her doorstep. She hadn't ordered anything, but it was clearly addressed to her, so she opened it. Thankfully, she had waited until after she was in the comfort and privacy of her own apartment to do so because what she found was a pair of sinfully decadent, green – green-black – Hood green silk sheets. They felt like magic against her skin: water, and ice, and fever – exactly what she imagined his touch would feel like. And Felicity wanted that – his touch – so badly, so much that she had thrown caution, and proprietary, and her own fear of some emergency professional stumbling upon her in a state of dress... or more accurately undress... that she really knew no one ever deserved to hear her try to explain and elected to sleep in nothing but his touch, his sheets that night.
But then, even more than she wanted to keep her silly (and kind of, sort of, maybe slutty) whim to herself, she needed to touch him more; she needed the reassurance of his beating heart to remind her, yet again, that he really was alright. So, letting the sheet whisper from her grasp, Felicity placed just the very tips of her fingers against where she knew he had been shot the night before. It isn't enough, though. Without thought, she tried to get up. If he wouldn't get into bed with her, then she'll get out of bed with him. But he didn't let her. Distantly, Felicity could hear the whimper of protest that slipped by her own lips, lips that were caught almost savagely between her teeth.
She would have said more, done more, but any further movement died when he whispered, "thank you."
In one breath, she didn't know why he's thanking her; in another, she understood completely. He was thanking her for her trust, for her compassion, for her faith, for her companionship, for her desire, and for every other thing she felt for him whether either of them were aware of all of the emotions or not. And, for the first time in her life, Felicity was speechless.
Her fingers against his chest curled into the leather of his jacket, and she pulled him towards her, near her, down to her. And then she kissed him.
It was a gentle kiss; a soft, exploratory kiss; a kiss meant to never end. But it eventually did, and she bonelessly collapsed back down against her green – green-black – Hood green, silk sheets and, within seconds, was once more asleep, his taste still invading her senses.
He tasted like obsession and devotion.
The first time Oliver opened up to her, opened up to anyone, about the five years he was gone, it happened... naturally.
A freak, winter thunderstorm was upon Starling City that night – two disparaging fronts colliding much to the displeasure of the sky and his psyche. After so long on the island, Oliver had pretty much trained his body to push through any and all obstacles, but a storm, especially when it was cold, still had the power to distract him to the point of inadequacy. He had insisted upon training anyway, upon working in the basement anyway despite knowing that he was accomplishing nothing but killing time and delaying the inevitable. Eventually, Diggle got frustrated and left, and Oliver used the opportunity to slip away to Felicity's just that much earlier than he usually did.
Still, when he arrived, he didn't wake her. Purposefully, he guarded his movements so that he was even quieter than he usually was when sneaking into her bedroom. He wanted to let her sleep. He wanted to shelter her from yet another of his emotional scars. He wanted to wait until the storm and the vulnerability it demanded from him had moved on before watching her look at him for the first time that night. So, like so many other times, he simply sat upon her floor – his back against her bed, his knees bent and raised so that he could rest his forearms against them, his head falling forward to hang between his shoulders.
It didn't matter how still he was, though, how silent. Oliver had only been settled onto her floor for a few minutes when Felicity mumbled and tossed her way into wakefulness. No matter how many times he witnessed it, it still amazed him to see just how responsive her body was to his very presence. And he wasn't even touching her.
"Hey, what are you doing down there?"
Despite the storm, despite everything, her grumbled complaint made him grin. She did not like distance between them; she did not like it when he held himself away from her. Felicity's need for closeness was so far removed from his connections to everyone else in his life that he didn't find himself shying away from the nearness. In fact, he embraced it, because it was yet another reminder how he could and did allow himself to be different for and around her. But then a low growl of thunder was torn from the atmosphere. The sound seemed to echo down his spine, and any mirth he had just seconds ago been experiencing disappeared. His fingers lengthened before curling into tight, stiff fists, and his breathing paused only to speed up an inhalation later.
"I don't like the rain."
They were the last words he expected to leave his mouth, but, after they were tossed out there and left hanging between them, he also knew he couldn't have said anything else.
He watched as she climbed out of bed and moved to her desk, fumbling with something he couldn't see until her iPod was placed in its dock and the soft strains of some melodic, unknown song – heartbreakingly beautiful yet agonizing all in the same note – began to cover and mask the sounds of the storm raging outside. Wordlessly, he stood, climbed onto his side of the bed, and then opened his arms for her to crawl into. Felicity did so immediately, scrambling over, then against, and then practically on top of him.
As the first song played, he whispered his fingers through her hair, running the rivers of honey in, out, and around his grasp that only managed to be gentle with her. The music melted into a second song, and Oliver's hands found their way onto her skin, her petal soft skin, where he traced his digits back and forth along the life-giving veins kept safely tucked away underneath. Touching her relaxed him enough that he forgot just why, for the first time, they were listening to music while lying in bed together.
"It was storming before my dad killed himself. I don't know how long it had been since it had stopped; I had long since lost track of time. But its... residue, its damage and destruction was all around us. Had consumed us. And he just... shot himself. It doesn't matter that it wasn't still raining when I saw him pull the trigger. Whenever I hear the rain, I'm right back there beside him, the thunder a gunshot, his gunshot, sounding over and over and over again."
She didn't say anything. Really, what could a person say to such a confession? But the difference between Felicity and everybody else, anybody else he could have told about his father's suicide, is that she knew not to even try. She talked more than anyone else in his life, but she also understood him and the compassion that can sometimes only be found in the silence. Instead of murmuring reassurances or sympathies into his ear, she nuzzled her head just that much deeper into that special spot between his neck and shoulder that Oliver would swear was designed just for her and went to sleep, showing him that, despite the beast of his memories and the burden they were upon him, she knew she was safe with him.
The first time Felicity learned the sound of him she made most of the noise. (Go figure.)
He'd been later that night than he usually was, and they had just gotten to sleep when she was startled awake once more by the knowledge that he was having a nightmare. It was nothing overt that told her he was suffering through a hellish dream. He didn't cry out in pain or even mumble in distress. He didn't toss and turn or thrash to the point where he was a danger to both of them. Rather, instead, she watched as his entire body tightened like the string of his ubiquitous bow, the weapon a symbol of what he represented just as much as it was a tool to maim and protect. His muscles twitched with tension, his breathing became erratic, and his mouth thinned into a hard, cold line.
Of course, Felicity's first instinct was to just reach out and shake his shoulder until he woke up. Luckily, she recognized a bad idea when she saw one (um, hello: Vista, water bras, New Coke, anyone?), so that brain fart was quickly ignored. However, she just couldn't go back to sleep knowing that someone she cared about was suffering beside her. She also didn't have a single clue as to what would sooth the highly lethal Vigilante.
First, she turned on her bedside lamp... to help her think, of course, but then she saw the book she had been reading earlier, and she thought that maybe her mind would work better if she woke it up; if she offered it some proper exercise; if she found out what happened next so that all of her focus could be on The Hood rather than just 99.9% of it.
Several minutes later, Felicity realized she had been right; reading did help her think. She remembered being a little girl, spending the night at her grandmother's house and afraid because it wasn't her bed, with her stuffed animals, and her mom and dad weren't just down the hall. She recalled how her grandma would tell her stories until she fell asleep, the sound of her grandma's voice the last thing she heard before the oblivion of slumber claimed her. So, she started to read out loud, simply picking up right where she had silently left off, keeping her voice calm and soothing, her pace engaged yet modulated.
Slowly but surely, it worked. His hands loosened, his muscles relaxed, and his mouth eventually became recognizable once again. Although Felicity put her book aside, tucked her glasses away, and turned off the light, she didn't immediately lay back down. Instead, she listened to the man, the vigilante, the mystery she was pretty sure she was already halfway, hopelessly, foolishly in love with as he slept. She was struck by a stillness that, like so many other things about him, was so hauntingly familiar that it was like she had known it and him before.
The first time Oliver doubted himself, doubted them, he woke her with his pacing. Angry steps. Insecure steps. Confused steps. No matter how they were described, they were unsettling. Foreign, too. Because, while he didn't delude himself into believing that he was only man Felicity had ever allowed into her bedroom, he knew that no one else had ever tread upon her hardwood floors with such force. With steel toed boots. With so much turmoil.
He was talking before he even knew for sure she was listening, his words clipped and precise just like his steps. "Besides you, there's only one other person who sees me like this, who knows me like this. He... helps me. We train together. He watches my back. We're partners, I guess you would say. Maybe even friends. But he also knows me without the paint and my hood, and he's the only person who is willing to call me on all my crap. Everyone else just seems... too afraid."
Oliver refused to look at her while he talked, because, after everything Digg had said to him, he feared what her reaction might be to the knowledge that there was a person out there who he did allow to know both sides of him. It wasn't as though he trusted Digg more; it was that he didn't care for the other man nearly as much or in the same way as he cared about Felicity.
Squeezing his fists to the point where he could feel the bones grind together, Oliver continued. "He challenged me tonight... like he often does, but, this time, it was about you." He heard a sigh of surprise escape from her lips, but he ignored it. Pushed past it. Talked over it. "He said I was using you, that you deserved more than just a shadow who only comes to you at night, who will only be with you in secret. I told him that he was wrong, that he didn't understand. That I only come to you at night and in secret, not because I don't think you deserve and want to give you more, but because this is how I'm at my best. But maybe he's right; maybe I..."
When she interrupted him, Oliver could tell it was because she just couldn't hold herself back any longer. He finally looked at her – really and truly looked at her, and she was... adorable. Sheets and blankets tangled around legs – bare legs – that were far longer than her five foot, five inch frame should translate to; glasses perched pertly on her nose; and hair tossed haphazardly up into a wispy, disheveled bun, she was fairly bouncing on her knees, her hands fidgeting and lost because she had neither a keyboard before her nor his chest beneath her. Beaming, blushing, and so obviously pleased with him and with herself, she was the most bewitching sight he had ever seen when she asked, "you told your friend about me?"
He pounced, she shrieked in pleasure and amusement, and they made out like teenagers for the rest of the night.
The first time Felicity learned his smell she woke up to his hot breath on her bare thigh and his head between her legs. She was somehow already naked and aroused, and she had barely enough time to wrap one of her hands through his short hair and pull his open, seeking, wanting, worshipping mouth to her sex before the erotic mew of pleasure was crying forth from her parched lips. Her other hand found purchase in her sheets, green – green-black – Hood green sheets, his sheets right before everything else disappeared and her awareness shrunk down to nothing but the man between her wantonly and widely spread legs and the spell he was weaving over her with his lips, and teeth, and tongue; his nose, and stubble, and breath. Never once did he touch her with his hand, not even a single, solitary finger.
Afterwards, she was recovering from the powerful ripples of pleasure that were still making her shudder and gasp when he started to haltingly make his way up her body, first with his eyes and then with his mouth wherever his gaze had previously caressed her. He was so warm and vital that, every time his lips touch her, it was like mini fissures of pleasure were left in his wake, her skin still flaring long before his fascination was focused elsewhere. He finally stopped when he reached her neck, burying his face there with a sob of contentment, his weight a delicious heaviness upon her, and, suddenly, she was surrounded by his scent.
He smelled like her, because she was his; she smelled like him, because he claimed her months ago – the day he first let her see him, because she wanted him to; because she needed him to. Felicity just isn't sure anymore when exactly that day was.
The first time Oliver told her how he felt it was also after the first time they had sex. Normally, that'd be a sweet thing, but the sex they had shared that night was anything but sweet. Instead, it had been rough, and sweaty, and totally not what he knew Felicity wanted for their first time... or what he needed to give her, but damn if it wasn't fantastic.
He had stepped into her room that night with his adrenaline already pumping. His mission for his father was quickly spinning out of control. He still couldn't find Walter, his mother's secrets were starting to out number his own, Tommy was disgusted with and not speaking to him, his sister was sleeping with some punk, Diggle had his own demons – namely Deadshot, and then there was the Dark Archer to contend with as well. Oliver still couldn't figure out who his lethal rival was, but what was even more troubling was that he could just sense that there was something he was missing – something big. It was simmering beneath the surface of the entire city, a time bomb just waiting to go off or, more likely, for someone to detonate. There were days when the only thing that did make any sense in his life at all was Felicity.
But then she wasn't there. He looked towards her bed where she was always, always waiting for him, and it was empty. His already amped body started to tremble in agitation, and Oliver made quick work of searching her apartment. He dismissed her closet and bathroom, because the lights were off, moving towards the door which opened into her living room. It, too, however, was dark. No glow came from her TV. There wasn't a halo of illumination spilling over the glossy surface of her table tucked away in a little used dining nook. And she didn't leave the light on above the kitchen sink, because he came to her at night. Hell, he was the night, and, because she embraced him, she had learned to embrace the dark, too. However, his eyes still quickly and easily sought her out, the display clocks on her appliances tattling on her rare, late night presence in her kitchen.
She was balanced precariously on her tip-toes, nosing around her cupboards when she called out to him. He hadn't said a word, hadn't announced his presence or even made a sound as he moved about her space; she had just known he was with her. "I woke up a few minutes ago, and I was starving, which isn't unusual for me because sometimes it feels like I'm always hungry, but lately, when I wake up for food, you're there instead. Then I forget that, just moments before, I wanted food and end up wanting you." She was so intent upon her search that she either didn't realize what she had just admitted or didn't care. "But, unlike normal, you weren't there when I woke up earlier, so I came out here to get something to eat. It was supposed to be a quick trip – a dash, grab, munch, and run, because I wanted to be waiting for you when you got here. But, now, I can't figure out what I want. Do I want something sweet, or am I craving something salty? Maybe what I actually want is something spicy, but, then again, sour things are just fun to eat. Don't you just love to pucker? It's like gymnastics for your mouth and face, and I'm flexible, so, yeah, sour food. I know eating late at night is a horrible habit, especially because, afterwards, I'm usually too tired once more to go and brush my teeth again, but it's also a guilty pleasure for the same reason, and I just can't help..."
That's as far as she got before Oliver slammed his body into hers, the force of his momentum driving them both against her refrigerator. Felicity first hissed at the contact and then moaned, the disparity between the coolness of the stainless steel and the heat pumping out of his body melded tightly against hers a dizzying combination. For a moment, he took the opportunity to bury his face into her hair, the hair that tantalized him and that he could sit and touch for hours on end, but all the tender gesture did was make him want her that much more. It would be the last spot of gentleness between them until they were both spent and shivering against the tile of her kitchen floor.
Nosing aside her lush locks, Oliver opened his mouth and latched onto the back of her neck, sinking his teeth into the sensitive flesh and holding her in place while he made quick work of tearing her short nightgown down her back. He bit down hard enough to leave a mark but not hard enough to break her delicate skin; he ripped hard enough to rendered the satin slip into two distinct pieces but not hard enough to pull it from her body. He finally released her neck but only long enough to dart his tongue out, licking and soothing the small wound. Meanwhile, his left hand traced her spine – down, down, down until he reached the small of her back where he brushed his fingers to and fro, then dropped down to briefly cup her ass before making quick work of his leather pants' button and fly. His other hand skirted around her hip, up underneath the loose fabric of her ruined pajamas, and parted her sex. The digits of his right hand teased her, tempted her, taunted her into arousal.
When he rocketed his body into hers, Oliver surprised the both of them. Felicity groaned in agony and ecstasy, dropping her forehead onto the fridge they were still leaning against, and he howled in satisfaction. As he pounded inside of her, his mouth found other places that had long beguiled him: her shoulders, the pulse points behind and just under her ears, the delicate flesh where her small yet pert and firm breasts melted into her sides, and his hands held her still, wrapping around her hips, the fact that his fingers could practically touch a reminder of just how graceful and tiny the woman in his arms was. He could already feel her inner walls clenching in anticipation of her rapidly approaching orgasm when Oliver realized that, when he finally came inside of her, surrounded by her, with her, he wanted to see her; he wanted her to see him. So, somehow, he found the will power to wrench his body away, her walls gripping him tightly as he slid out of her welcoming heat. As the cool air touched him, touched her juices on him, he hissed in pleasure-pain.
But then she was on the floor beneath him, legs spread wide and accommodating, knees pressed up and in so that she was cradling his chest with them, and he was buried inside of her once more. He ran his teeth down between the hollow of her breasts, scraping over the fabric that remained there still. She lifted her hands up to tangle them into her own hair, her mouth parted in a silent scream of want. He placed his hands on the back of her thighs, pushing her legs just that much higher, tighter, further. She dug the heels of her feet into the small of his back, demanding everything he had to give her and then more. He came with her name being ripped from the very confines of his emotionally full chest; she came with a declaration of possession – "mine" – and with her hands dropped to his shoulders so her green nails – black-green nails – Hood green nails could score their way literally down and figuratively under his leather and into his skin.
Sometime later, Oliver came back to himself lying beside Felicity on her chilled, tiled, kitchen floor. Lazily turning his head so that he could look at her, watch her, he found her returning the favor, a small, knowing smile tilting the corners of her plush mouth upwards. He didn't say anything, just took in all of her rumpled, ravaged glory.
It was a few minutes later when she broke the spell. "Cookie," she offered him, somehow, someway, apparently, managing to hold onto the sweet throughout what had been the most fulfilling sex of his life. And he'd had a lot of satisfying sex over the years.
He chuckled, rolling over so that he was laying on his side, elbow bent and palm cupping his chin. "I don't like sweets, can't actually eat them, in fact. I went so long without rich, processed foods that they make me sick. I'm in love with you." Without pause, he just dropped how he felt about her between them... like, if he waited one more second, he would burst.
And Felicity? Well, she ate the cookie.
The first time Felicity learned his touch he was forbidden from laying even a single finger on her. She was on top of him, riding him, her body swallowing him completely. Since their first night together in her kitchen, they'd had sex in many different places and in many different positions, but that night was the first time she had complete and utter control, and Felicity relished the power – not because she was in charge or was the dominant partner but because The Hood was trusting her enough to give himself over to her entirely. It was a supremely provocative experience.
She took her time, going for the slow burn. The fire took longer to consume that way but it seemed to blaze brighter as well. Just because he was not allowed to touch her, that did not mean that the same rules applied to her hands, and Felicity took full advantage of her freedom to seduce and conquer, only he was still dressed, always dressed, so she was forced to resort to more drastic measures. Instead of abrading her nails across his pectorals to only dig in and find traction over his nipples, she tickled the undersides of her own tender breasts. And, instead of mapping the lines of his body, she had marched her very talented fingers down to where they were so intimately joined and parted her flesh with a thumb, watching him watch her as she further stimulated herself.
At every moment, she expected him to break the rules, to come rearing up with an outcry of impatience, his hands immediately taking possession of her. But he didn't. Instead, he listened to her instructions, and allowed her whims, and obeyed until the very last second. As he came inside of her, Felicity felt just the very blunt edges of his fingers dance across hers. That was when she learned his touch or, more accurately, learned that she already knew it. She'd felt it before; she'd felt him before, and it haunted her.
The first time Oliver spent the night with Felicity was also the first night he ever spent with a girl without getting sex out of the bargain, too. It wasn't that he didn't want to. He always wanted to, especially with Felicity, but she was on her period, and miserable, and icky. Her words, not his. But all of that didn't matter to him. Just because their relationship had now progressed to the point where they were sleeping together, that did not mean that he came to her for physical comfort and physical comfort only. They had started because of his need to just be near her, and that need had certainly not diminished the longer he knew her. Rather, it just increased.
He had told her all this and looked on in amusement and as she lifted a pillow out from behind her head to first hide away her face in pleased embarrassment before sliding it off to smack him with it. In her distraction, he wrapped his arms around her and moved so that he was spooning her body from behind, his hands settling low upon her abdomen. As they talked, he massaged her aching muscles, slowly lulling her to the point where she was comfortable enough to finally fall asleep.
Before that, though, he confessed to her in a very oblique manner his many 'work' frustrations. She listened attentively yet didn't offer any suggestions. He knew that she no doubt was practically bursting with ideas, but she seemed to sense that, while he didn't want to hide from her, he also didn't want the ugliness of his mission to taint her or what they shared together within the safe confines of her bedroom. In return, she confessed that she was bored with her own job, dissatisfied. She had risen quickly through the ranks of her department and continued to do so, but there was no challenge, nothing to really spark her interest.
Oliver found himself telling her about his family – about how, because of his secrets and because of how his own mother played a role in why those secrets were necessary, he was unable to make peace with her and about how his sister still saw him as the brother she had idolized as a little girl but he was no longer that same boy and he didn't know how to introduce her to who he had become as a man. In return, she told him that she was alone – an only child who out-survived her parents long before she should have.
They talked about little things as well. She asked him what it felt like to ride a motorcycle, because everyone knew that's what The Hood drove as his getaway vehicle of choice; he asked her about her industrial piercing: when had she gotten it, why, and he told that her that he really liked the arrow she had taken to wearing... he assumed for him. She confirmed that assumption. He surprised himself by telling her about the various ways he trained – from arrowing tennis balls to the salmon ladder, something he then had to explain in minute detail only for Felicity to end up extremely disappointed that her apartment had average ceiling heights which would not allow for a demonstration. In return, she explained how a person could adore ice cream, cheese, and put sour cream on top of almost everything, and even enjoy milkshakes, but then absolutely refuse to pour milk on top of their cereal; and she explained how British TV was so last year, while Danish TV was suddenly and totally the shiz. Again, her words, not his. She fell asleep mid-babble, words bubbled yet stalled upon her parted, impossibly kissable lips.
He should have left then, but he didn't. Felicity wouldn't have minded. She actually seemed to accept the limitations he had imposed upon their relationship better than he did. But he stayed, eventually falling asleep, and allowing himself to relax enough to really sink into the obliviousness of slumber, because, for the first time, he refused to ignore his desire to see her in the sunlight, to see her see him in the purity of the morning. Not surprisingly, he woke first, and then he simply waited until Felicity joined him, kissing her despite her/his/their morning breath and against her half-hearted protestations. For more than an hour, he merely sipped at her lips until she had to get up for work. As she slipped into the shower, he slipped away, almost tempted into joining her despite the fact that it would strip and wash away that final barrier that was keeping her protected from who he was when he wasn't with her.
The first time Felicity saw him she realized she had been a fool. From her fire escape, she watched as The Glades fell. She didn't know why or how, but she did know that he was there, trying to stop it, trying to help. The TV or even her laptop would have been able to tell her more, but she couldn't move from her fire escape if her life depended upon it. And maybe it did, because the aftershocks of the destruction were still rippling through the city, much to the panic and horror of those people around her. However, none of those people knew him. She did, and she was waiting for him to make it back to her, to make it home to her.
When he finally appeared before her, she had to blink several times to reassure herself that he was actually there. But the image of the broken man before her was not something she ever would have conjured up on her own. He was hunched over in pain. Whether physical or emotional, Felicity didn't know, and, really, did it even matter? Maybe he made it back to her but at what cost? He just stood there, looking at her, and she could see, at least in his own eyes, that he believed he had failed, that he didn't realize that sometimes trying in the first place when no one else would is its own certain kind of success. But she didn't tell him this, because she knew that he wasn't ready to hear such reassurances. Instead, she simply led him back into her bedroom, their bedroom, and comforted him in any and every way she could think of.
She comforted him with her words; she comforted him with her body. It was when he was fully encased inside of her, not moving just... being that he finally broke his silence. In a stuttering confession, he admitted that he couldn't do it on his own, that he wasn't good enough, that he just wasn't enough, not when he was split into so many disjointed parts. Not when he wasn't whole. From this, she concluded that he needed help, that he needed her help, because he was only whole with her. Maybe he didn't say it in so many words, but she knew him; she saw him, all of him.
When he started to move inside her again, she cursed at how blind she had been. For so long, everything within her had been trying to tell her who he was. She had known for months, for forever, but she just couldn't see it; she couldn't see him. But then she did.
So, she told him.
"I love you. I'm in love with you, Oliver Queen."
And then she put down his tattered hood.
The first time that Oliver asked her to come to him it went against their plans. After Felicity had revealed that she knew who he was, they had stayed up all night. He told her about Tommy's death; about The Dark Archer and how he still didn't know who he was fighting against; about how his mother was involved; about how he was fairly certain that Walter, if he hadn't already been dead, had died when The Glades collapsed in on itself; and he asked her to help him be the man he only allowed her to see and to help him be that man all the time, not just at night. She had readily agreed. And he had also asked her to help him with his mission, because he was failing, because he missed her when she wasn't with him, and because she was remarkable. To that request, she had happily agreed, only arguing when he suggested a slow and discrete blending of their lives' many different facets. He had only managed to convince her when he pulled the 'her safety and his peace of mind' card, but Oliver knew he wasn't going to be able to get away with using such reasoning with her very often. He was actually looking forward to their future battle of wills.
Only, as Oliver stepped up to the outskirts of Tommy's funeral, he found that he couldn't move forward. He was stuck – lost even, because, while he knew his former friend would not want him there, he couldn't be anywhere else. No matter what Oliver said or did, Tommy had not been able to come to grips with his role as the vigilante. Oliver believed that the other man's animosity was derived from equal parts disappointment in Oliver's actions and resentment that, after getting Oliver back, Tommy hadn't recognized the man who had returned to him. Whatever Tommy's reasoning, however, it didn't change the fact that Tommy was dead and that Oliver was still alive.
Attending the funeral of the Merlyn heir together as their first official outing as a couple was certainly not slow and discrete, but Oliver couldn't imagine facing his sister, or Laurel, or even Malcolm without her. So, he broke his own rules and called her, asking her to meet him there and go with him the rest of the way. He told her that he didn't even care if he was late; he'd rather be late and with her than on time and alone. Oliver wasn't surprised, though, when Felicity was suddenly there by his side less than ten minute later. Obviously, she had already been dressed for the funeral and on her way before he even called.
They tried to blend in and lose themselves in the crowd, electing to sit somewhere in the middle away from both his and Tommy's family. It wasn't that Oliver was trying to hide her; he just wanted the privacy to mourn in solitude. With Felicity. As the service droned on, he found himself blocking out the empty, hollow words muttered by a man who had never known Tommy in life. Instead, he focused on Felicity. On touching her. Holding her hand, clasping her knee, wrapping an arm around her shoulder to pull her into and against his side. He found that she grounded him and reminded him that it was okay to be glad that, even though his friend was dead, he was still alive. He still felt guilty that he had not made it to CNRI to save Tommy who himself had died in the process of saving Laurel, but Tommy's death was just one in thousands that preyed upon his regret and remorse, though he would forever be the face of Oliver's failure to prevent The Glades from being destroyed.
Before he knew it, he and Felicity were standing in the receiving line, approaching first Laurel and then Malcolm Merlyn. Laurel was practically comatose in her grief, a shadow of the girl he once knew, once thought he was in love with, once pined for without realizing that, just as he had changed during the five years that he had been gone, so, too, had she. They quickly made their way by her, only uttering empty platitudes that she neither heard nor cared to. It was as they made their way towards Tommy's father that Oliver felt the shift. The air seemed to become so dense it was difficult to breathe, and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. In slow motion, he watched as Felicity shivered into him as soon as Malcolm's hand took hers, engulfed hers. He found himself questioning her reaction – not doubting but worried, only for the apprehension to seize inside of his chest when Malcolm asked who she was.
He reacted instinctively, recognizing the threat even if he didn't understand it. "She's my fiancee." With those three words, Oliver claimed her, declared his protection of her, and took the first of what would be many steps to keep her as close to him as possible. He just hoped that Felicity wouldn't object or react in a way that would undermine the veracity of his assertion.
She didn't just go along with him, however. Her posture stiffened, and she casually laid her left hand upon his chest, displaying that, while she didn't wear his ring, she proudly wore his color, The Hood's color. Her actions were just as possessive if not even more so than his. Not only had she claimed him, sworn to protect him, and promised to keep him as close to her as possible, but she had also proclaimed her allegiance to The Green Arrow for all the world and The Dark Archer to see.