AN: I don't know how long this is going to be, a couple of chapters? I just know it won't leave me alone and I need to do something while I wait for a new Arrow episode. Takes place after "Heir to the Demon".

Dark Stranger


He turned the page of his newspaper and quickly admired the dark charcoal gray satin of his suit. He strained slightly to see the fine fabric, appreciating the vision he had left in the one eye. He glanced around the room of his surroundings, and his gaze settled on a petite young blonde leaving the line of the Starbucks where he was sitting.

Her back was facing him, and he admired the muscles in her calves and the slopes and curves of her taut behind, barely covered by the material that hugged and shaped her.

She was leaving, and as he watched her, her blond ponytail lightly swished behind her head. Her face spoke many emotions: pain, anxiety, and a sense of defiance at the cards dealt her that day. Whatever had happened, she was trying to subdue her feelings to a dull, bored expression on her face. She was failing miserably, in his opinion.

She weaved through the crowds, and he smiled, knowing exactly who she was and who was on her mind. He knew he'd see her again.

Felicity was okay with it. Sure. It seemed a little forced. Maybe a little messy, but it was obvious… Sara and Oliver had hooked up. Even after she'd confided in him, and even when he'd said she'd never lose him… he'd fallen back to a familiar trope.

Oliver had issues with his past. Felicity knew this. Well, more like he was chained to his past in a prison of his own making.

So...this thing with Sara? How could she ever be surprised?

Oliver was her friend, and she knew that he'd never be anything beyond that. Hadn't she made her peace with that long ago?

She caught herself sighing, and her frown turned up slightly into a small smile. She'd developed new software that had cross-referenced modules of all secure sectors within a network, piggy-backing through backends and cloud servers, and depositing backup cloned intel into several different shadow servers.

If Team Arrow's base were ever to be compromised, she'd definitely had fool-proof and ready backups with instant wireless access. In the meantime, she was running highly defined SEO searches and tapping through channels that would make the NSA jealous. If Oliver was impressed at her prison hacking skills, wait until he saw the swag she acquired from this.

Feeling a sense of pride on her current work, she mentally ran through her to-do list to see if she was missing anything. Catching up with her back up to-do list on her phone, no stone was left unturned. Felicity would have to wait for the next shit storm to hit them, knowing she'd be readily prepared for anything.

The only thing she wasn't sure she was prepared for was Oliver reading her like a book, knowing his thing with Sara bothered her.

That was why she had to do her very best to make it seem like it didn't.

I shouldn't feel any different than when he was with Laurel, she thought, and it made her feel queasy. She admitted that she couldn't even stop the sarcastic remarks and the cold eye daggers when he'd been with Laurel.

And she kept asking herself, why should she care? Maybe her boss battle with Moira Queen opened up a few wounds she wasn't ready to tend to yet.

Feeling bored, she surveyed the progress of her running programs and felt satisfied she could leave them and go home. There was a full season of Supernatural on her Netflix to catch up with, Diggle was home with Lyla, and Oliver was out with Sara, getting cozy and musing about old Island times and looking for pedos and bad guys to beat on. Sounded like quite a date night, she thought. She had to give Sara a pass on that. At least the dates were cool.

She couldn't speak for the unhealthy amount of baggage and angst that remained between them though. Better not touch that with a ten-foot pole.

Hunger was nagging her, so she decided to leave her computers to do her work and grab a bite at that panini place by her apartment.

Felicity left the lair, and hopped into her car. She rolled the window down while Jefferson Airplane filtered through the radio and into her car. She hummed along with White Rabbit, and almost lost track of time as routine took over and she was parking into her designated spot in her building's apartment garage. Locking up, she hefted her bag over her shoulder and started walking down her street. Not more than a block away, she took in the scents at the Corner Bakery and bypassed looking at the menu.

She shifted her bag on her shoulder, and when she heard a glass crash to the floor behind her, she jumped in alert, bumping into someone who had been close behind her, probably waiting to order. She heard a man make a noise of surprise, and she felt the blood rush to her face.

"Oops!" she announced and she spun around to immediately apologize. She had to crane her neck to look up, and when she looked into the stranger's face, the words almost fell out of her mouth in gibberish.

She did manage to say sorry before the man interrupted her. Felicity tried to remind herself to not stare at him, but he was imposing that intimidation seemed to roll off him in waves. She almost wanted to curl into herself, but she couldn't help being instantly attracted to the man. It prompted her to think that maybe she had a problem...the bad boy streak never seemed to do her any good.

"I do apologize, love," he said, and his accent was silky thick and definitely Australian. Even more dangerous and sexy. His skin was a golden color, and his dark wavy hair looked scarred by a gray windstorm. Heel, Felicity, heel.

"Oh, no, my fault! Sorry, I was just so famished. Are you hurt?" She babbled. "Of course, not. Why would you be hurt? You're so…" Her words trailed off.

The man's one eyebrow raised slightly. Not the one covered by the eyepatch, which really added to the imposing aspect - considerably.

"So…?" She could sense the humor in his voice. It caused her to smile, and relax a little.

"So… obviously not susceptible to injury by someone bumping into you," she ended with a relieved sigh.

When he chuckled lightly, she had to stop herself from mooning over him - and falling over in a faint from her wobbly knees.

To be continued...