Moment of Clarity
Summary: Post-2x13. Felicity getting herself in trouble leads to a moment of clarity for Oliver and Sara. "She's a ray of sunshine, and you—you're a storm-battered tree joyfully basking in her light and energy."
Disclaimer: English is not my first language. Not beta read so all mistakes are mine.
Author's Notes: I thought I'd stop writing fanfiction for good, as life had gotten more challenging over the years and I'd gotten really rusty at writing. I haven't even finished the last story I'd written three years ago. But Oliver and Felicity resurrected my yearning to write love stories. They deserve to be written and given happy endings. I'm still upset about the ending we got in 2x13 and so this baby was born. I hope I did Felicity justice in this piece. Enjoy!
Felicity gingerly made her way down the stairs of the foundry. Her body was starting to feel like one giant ache. All she wanted to do at this point was go home, soak in the tub, and get some uninterrupted sleep. But her part of tonight's mission wasn't over yet. She still had to save and start processing the information she had accidentally found in the mainframe of Argon Tech before she was supposed to wipe out. Who would have thought she'd stumble upon information about Stellmoor International in Argon Tech's database?
Felicity's right hand went instinctively to the ache on her left arm and winced as pain sliced through her. Her hand came away bloodied from the slash in her dark coat sleeve. Mission first, first aid later. She wiped her bloodied hand on her jean-clad thigh as she sat down in front of her monitors. She pulled out her tablet from inside her coat and connected it to the USB port of the computer. After a few keystrokes, she watched as the data transfer commenced. She heaved a sigh of relief and sank back on her chair.
For days, Oliver and Diggle had planned and schemed on how to get inside Argon Tech, which was one big warehouse, and destroy the devices meant to dispense chemical weapons. Felicity had provided the blueprints and everything else she could find on the company. Eventually, the two men had shared their plan with Sara and Roy. The plan required Felicity to be in the field with them. Tonight had been the culmination of that plan.
Everything had gone according to plan. Well, almost. Oliver, Diggle, Sara, and Roy had successfully infiltrated Argon Tech and destroyed the devices. However, in Felicity's part of the mission, unexpected events had made her task challenging. Sara had seen Felicity safely to the mainframe room and had stood on guard while Felicity did her thing. The plan was for Felicity to wipe out the mainframe and get out of the warehouse and back to the foundry immediately. However, Digg had called for backup over the comms before she could complete her task and Sara had to leave her. Apart from the action, as she was ensconced in the mainframe room, Felicity held a sense of security as she carried out her task even without Sara. Little did she know that the action would come to her.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps running down the stairs. She whirled in her chair just as Sara and Oliver appeared. "Hey! You guys okay?"
Sara put away her staff and pulled off her mask and blonde wig. "Yes. No one got hurt, on our side at least. I can't say the same for the Argon Tech security boys."
Oliver also took off his mask, leather gloves, and leather top. Naked from the waist up, he walked over to the display case and put his bow back in its place. "Diggle and Roy have gone home. You should, too, Felicity. It's been a long day for all of us."
"In a bit. I want to show you something first." Felicity turned back to her monitors. The data transfer was complete so Felicity unplugged her tablet. Oliver flanked her on her right side and Sara on her left. She pulled up a window on her screen.
"I found some information pertaining to Stellmoor International in Argon Tech's database. I haven't processed the data yet so I don't really know what it's about, but Oliver, this could be the break we've been looking for." Felicity turned to Oliver, her eyes wide with excitement. "If we can find a connection between Argon and Stellmoor, then we may finally have something on Isabel Rochev."
Oliver bent down toward Felicity. "Is that blood on your forehead?"
"What?" Felicity put her left hand on her forehead and felt wetness and broken skin. "Oh. It's nothing. I'll take care of it when I get home."
Concern etched on his face, Oliver turned her chair toward him so he could look at her directly. "Where did you hit your head?"
"At the warehouse." Felicity shook her head in dismissal. "Anyway, didn't you hear what I just said? Stellmoor may be connected to Argon Tech!" She raised her hands to emphasize her words.
Oliver's eyes narrowed. "Is that blood on your hand?"
Felicity looked at her palm, the one she wiped down on her jeans. She promptly closed her hands and lowered them to her lap. Before she could say a word, Oliver gripped her none-too-gently on her arms and pulled her up. "Felicity, tell me. What the hell happened?"
Felicity flinched more at his angry tone than at the pain of his grip on her wounded arm. "I was attacked in the mainframe room."
Oliver went still. Fear and rage settled in his stomach like a rock. His eyes roamed over her face, noting her mussed ponytail, the cut on her forehead, her pale and tear-stained cheeks, and the slight tremor of her lips.
Felicity knew when Oliver finally noticed the bloodstained slash in her coat sleeve because he took in a swift breath and his features hardened with a combination of emotions she couldn't fathom. All she knew was that it was going to be difficult to reason with him when he was like this.
Oliver firmly yet gently steered her toward the stainless steel medical table.
Felicity tried to squirm away from his hold but could not escape. "Oliver, really, it's okay. I'm fine. Just a few cuts and bruises." She glanced ruefully at Sara, who was sitting on a stool, arms folded over her chest, watching them quietly. She didn't want to stay longer than necessary because she didn't want to encroach on Oliver and Sara's time together.
Ever since Felicity found out about Oliver and Sara's relationship, she had made it a point not to linger in the foundry after missions or after she'd done her Arrow duties. Suffice to say that she was surprised at the suddenness of the relationship but not at all that the relationship happened. She understood why they got together. Moreover, she was all for Oliver's happiness because God knew, more than anyone else in the team, he deserved some. She knew she didn't have the right to be but knowing that they were together hurt her. Her heart was as stubborn as her mind; both didn't want to let go of Oliver. Good thing she'd learned how to mask her feelings. She also knew her place in Oliver's life. She was his friend and partner. Nothing more, nothing less. It helped that with Sara occupying more of Oliver's thoughts and time, not to mention foundry space, he didn't pay her much "personal" attention these days.
"You're going to sit tight and tell me everything while I tend to your wounds." Oliver's tone boded no argument.
When Felicity did not move, Oliver sighed and spanned her waist with his hands, lifting her to sit on the table. Her hands automatically went to his naked shoulders for balance.
"Oliver, I'm not asking for payback for those times I patched you up."
Oliver gazed deeply into her eyes, letting her see the turbulent emotions in them. The thought of Felicity in mortal peril chilled his blood. He was upset about the fact that he hadn't been there to save her. He didn't know whether this rage he was feeling was directed at himself for not being there to save her or at Felicity for going off on her own. "This is not me paying you back. This is me taking care of you because I want to and I need to. This also is me reassuring myself that you're okay because I won't be okay until you are."
For the life of her, Felicity didn't have a comeback to that. She just stared back at Oliver. Her parched heart absorbed his words like water, making hope sprout again. No, no. Stubborn heart.
"Here." Sara's soft voice shattered the sudden silence in the foundry. She placed the medical kit on the table near Felicity's hip.
"Thanks." Oliver replied without taking his eyes off Felicity. He moved closer to her parted thighs, almost crowding her, intimidating her with his size. "Hands on the table."
Felicity huffed at his command but she complied.
Oliver raised his hands and began to unbutton her pea coat.
Felicity cleared her throat and focused on Oliver's throat. "You should know that I don't care for this domineering attitude of yours, and under normal circumstances I would definitely buck at your high-handedness. But this time, okay, I'll let you order me around because I get why you feel like you're entitled to be angry."
Oliver paused and sighed. In a lighter tone, he said, "Please tell me what happened."
And just like that, Felicity's resolve melted. "I was already done when a man suddenly opened the door to the mainframe room. He was more surprised than I was. I don't think he was one of the security personnel because he didn't have a gun on him—thank God. Probably one of the tech guys. Oh, but he had a knife. I tried to make a run for it, but he caught me and did what he did to my arm. Tried to make a run for it again, but he caught my hair and slammed me against a metal cabinet." Felicity ignored Oliver's indrawn breath. "I did not feel pain, just a whole lot of anger. Does that make sense? I just wanted so badly to hurt him too. Digg would be so proud of me because I remembered exactly what to do. In the end, I managed to inflict the worst damage by kicking him in the balls." Felicity caught herself and laughed. "Oh my God. For the first time in my life I kicked a man in the balls. Yay, me!"
Despite the burning fury in his belly, Oliver couldn't help himself: he let out a deep chuckle. Even in a situation like this, Felicity could still be so adorable.
"And to seal the deal, I used my pepper spray on him and then I grabbed my tablet and ran like a bat out of hell," she continued.
Oliver carefully removed her coat from her body. Felicity hissed in pain.
His mirth dissolved into agony at the sight before him. "Oh, Felicity," he breathed. He hiked up the left sleeve of her purple t-shirt. A bloody cut ran from the top of her shoulder down to the middle of her arm.
Felicity glanced down at her shoulder. "Oh, wow. I didn't think it would look that bad." She caught Oliver's gaze, tears already forming in her eyes. "Are you going to sew me up?" she asked in a small voice. She didn't relish the idea of a needle going in and out of her skin even with anesthetic.
And just like that, Oliver's protective instincts went into overdrive. Outside of his family, only Felicity could evoke that in him. All he wanted to do was take her somewhere safe. He wanted to soothe away all her hurts and just hold her until she was okay. He clenched his fists at the overwhelming need to snatch her into his arms and never let her go. He needed to touch her. Needed to know she was alive. He unclenched his fists and noticed that they were shaking. He cupped her face, with one hand tenderly stroking her hair, her cheek, and the pulse in her throat.
"No. You're lucky it's not a deep cut. Although I would like to sew you up just to teach you a lesson." He gently shook her head. "Why didn't you call for backup? Any one of us could've been there in a minute."
"Well, for one thing, my earpiece got dislodged during the scuffle. Good thing I was able to retrieve it from the floor afterwards. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to tell you I was on my way back when I got into my car. And for another, I was able to put the man down. I didn't find any reason to tell you that I was in trouble because the situation had resolved itself. Besides, you had been up to your neck in dealing with the security thugs. That's why Digg called in for Sara, remember?"
"But we swore to protect you," he argued. "I don't want you getting hurt."
"I know, but you can't protect me all the time, Oliver," she said softly. "I'm not a fighter like you guys are. I'm a liability in the field—"
Oliver clenched his jaw and tried to even out his tone. "You're not a lia—"
"Yes, I am. I always need to have someone to back me up in case something goes wrong. I always seem to be the damsel in distress. But I don't want to be the woman who needs saving all the time. That's why I'm not sorry this happened to me. Sure, I was shaken up because something worse could've happened to me, right? I cried as I drove back here. But you know what? I'm glad because I was able to get out of that situation on my own. I completed my mission, got some bonus information along the way, and I got myself out of trouble. I think I have every right to say that I'm proud of myself right now."
Oliver regarded her with awe for a moment before gathering her into his arms like the precious thing she was. He buried his nose in her hair and just breathed her in. "Felicity."
Her voice was muffled against his chest. "I refuse to be stuck here in the foundry just because you're afraid I'm going to get hurt when I can be useful to you in the field. Maybe someday, when I've seriously taken all of Digg's defense lessons, you'll trust me to be able to take care of myself. Maybe if I can prove myself to you that I can—"
"Hush." He ran his hand against her back soothingly. "You don't need to prove anything to me because you've already proved yourself a hundred times over in the foundry, in the field, and in the office. I know that you will not recklessly put yourself in harm's way. You're smart and capable, and you could get yourself out of a situation the best way you could. I trust you. It's me I don't trust." He stared unseeingly over her head, lost in his thoughts and emotions. "I don't trust myself to be calm knowing that you're out there alone. I don't trust myself not to lose it if something happens to you. I can't lose you."
"Oh, Oliver." Felicity closed her eyes at his words, letting them sink in. He really shouldn't say things like that to her because she had a horrible habit of taking them to heart. "You know I fear losing you too. I'd like to say you won't lose me, but I can't make that guarantee. None of us can. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'm fine, you're fine, everybody's fine. Let's just be grateful for that and be secure in the knowledge that we'll do everything we can to keep each other safe."
Oliver let out a deep sigh. "You're right. It's irrational, but if I could hide you away in a cave or something and stand guard over you, I would."
Opening her eyes, she chided him tenderly, "Caveman."
"Yeah. You bring out all my primitive instincts." Oliver pulled back so he could look at her face. For a while they just stared into each other's eyes. "I'm sorry for being high-handed."
"And I'm sorry for worrying you."
He squeezed her tight.
He smiled ruefully. "Sorry. Now, let's get you patched up."
In a silent and reverent ritual, Oliver cleaned her wounds and wiped the blood from her hands. He applied butterfly stitches on the cut on her arm. His touch was light and not a sound of pain passed her lips. Because her coat was ruined, he helped her into one of his zip up hoodies he kept around the foundry.
Felicity looked forlornly at her coat. "I loved that coat."
"I'll buy you another one."
"And more pepper spray. And maybe a Taser as well." He fiddled with the zipper of the hoodie and started to pull it up.
Felicity turned away and pulled the zipper up herself. She glared at him. "I'm not completely helpless, you know."
He caressed her uninjured arm. In that special voice he seemed to use only for her, he told her, "No, you're not. You're brave and intelligent and loyal and truly remarkable. And I'm proud of you for what you accomplished tonight."
A blush stained her cheeks. His gaze was too intense. "Thank you," she whispered.
Oliver stepped back and Felicity moved to get down from the table. He watched her retrieve her tablet. "We'll talk about what you found about Stellmoor the day after tomorrow."
"Why not tomorrow?"
"Because tomorrow you'll be taking the day off. Trust me, you won't want to get out of bed in the morning. You'd better rest."
"And I suggest a long, warm bath and perhaps a glass of wine."
Oliver and Felicity simultaneously turned their heads toward Sara's voice.
Sara bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from smiling. It was clear on their shocked faces that they both forgot her presence in the foundry. She'd changed back to her normal clothes. She'd bet they didn't even notice her trip to the bathroom to change.
Oliver cleared his throat.
"Right," Felicity agreed, flustered. "I'd already decided on a bath, and yes, a glass of wine would be excellent. And probably a pint of mint chip. Kicking a man's balls definitely deserves a celebration." She puckered her eyebrows. "Wait. Do I still have mint chip left in the freezer?"
Oliver's mouth twitched.
"Sorry," Felicity said sheepishly. She walked backwards toward the stairs. "I'm going now. Thanks for, you know, everything."
"Text me when you get home," Oliver called out.
"What?" Felicity's voice rang out. "I'm not a baby, Oliver. Hurt, yes, but not a baby. I can get myself home safely."
"Humor me." His tone was light but his eyes were serious.
Like she could refuse a request like that from Oliver Queen. "Fine," she huffed in mock annoyance. Then, she turned and went up the stairs.
Sara walked toward Oliver, who was still looking at the stairs with a slight smile on his lips. "She's something else, huh?"
"Yeah. She's very special."
"You two are a joy to watch."
Oliver's smile became full blown. "Yeah, she has an infectious sense of humor."
"I mean, she's a ray of sunshine, and you—you're a storm-battered tree joyfully basking in her light and energy. I don't think I've ever seen you the way you are with her. And I like seeing you like that—free with your emotions and with your walls down. You're happy when you're with her."
Oliver slowly turned his head and looked at Sara, his smile tempered by her words.
Sara's smile was both sad and happy. "I think we both know it's not going to work between us. We're too much alike. And let's face it—you're not like that and will never be like that with me."
Oliver didn't have to say anything. His silence told her that he agreed with her assessment.
"I approve of her, if you must know. She brings out the best in you. Maybe someday I'll find my own ray of sunshine too." She stepped close and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. "I'm going to take a few days off and spend some time with my dad. And when I come back, we're going to have to talk." And with that, Sara left the foundry.
Oliver found himself walking to Felicity's domain and sitting down on her chair. The silence blanketing the foundry helped him gather his thoughts. Some of them remained murky, but the important ones, the ones that inspired and motived him, were so clear to him now. He leaned back against the chair and dwelled on these thoughts.
Sometime later, Oliver's phone vibrated with a text message. He fished his phone out of the side pocket of his leather pants.
Currently in the bath alternately eating ice cream and sipping wine. Happy now?
The other word for her name was not lost on Oliver. Happiness.
The smile on his face returned as he replied. Yes.