Title: Heavy Metal Heart
Category: Arrow
Genre: Angst, Drama, Romance
Ship: Olicity
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5,817
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters presented in this story nor the show from which they originate. Unfortunately.
Summary: Oliver confesses. Felicity runs away. Digg offers insight. And then Olicity clean, coming to an understanding together. (A 2x13 Reaction Piece)
A/N: I realize that there are already a plethora of 2x13 reaction pieces out there, but I couldn't not write something after watching that. In fact, I wrote two somethings. This is the first. It's angstier. I'll post the happier (smuttier) 2x13 rewrite soon – before 2x14 airs, promise. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this. Although the lyrics were not featured and despite the fact that this story is not from Felicity's point of view, my anthem while writing this one shot (and my inspiration for the title) was "Heavy Metal Heart" by Sky Ferreira. It's obsession worthy. (The whole CD is excellent.) The song is up on my 'Music Worth Listening To' Pinterest board (oyCharlynnRose), and you can find it on my Current Playlist on Youtube (oyhumbug).

~Charlynn~

Heavy Metal Heart
An Olicity One Shot

Like a coward, he stayed in the shadows. He watched her without her knowing – bracing himself, gathering his thoughts, savoring her presence one last time, because, even if she didn't walk away from him for good this time, Oliver knew he was about to forever alter their connection. Not even twenty-four hours after he had promised to never leave her, and he was about to give her a reason to leave him.

And that scared the hell out of him.

So, he just remained quiet, hidden. He listened to her grumble about people who weren't punctual. She, Felicity Smoak, was always on time. And he felt a bittersweet smile tug at the corners of his heart as he heard her mock his text message – Come to the foundry. – because it was a demand and not a request, because even his thumbs were pompous dictators. As she expertly turned on all of her state-of-the-art computer equipment, Felicity talked to herself the entire time, her mumbles eventually shifting away from complaints about him to concerns as to where everyone else was. She even checked her phone to make sure that she hadn't missed a call... not that Felicity ever did.

No, Oliver was the one in their partnership who sometimes didn't answer his cell.

Her genuine worry was what finally forced him to reveal himself. What he was about to do was going to be difficult enough. For both of them. He didn't need to make it worse by scaring her. "Felicity."

She let out a startled 'eep!' and nearly vaulted out of her desk chair, the loud sound of her knees connecting with the underside of the table echoing throughout the silent, cavernous basement.

Oliver winced.

"Someday," she warned, "I will install motion censors throughout this entire place just so you can't do that anymore." There was a degree of levity to her voice despite the frustration written plainly across her face and the pain her gently kneading hands couldn't sooth away from her knees, levity that he did not deserve. "And, just so you know, you will be paying for them as well."

Usually, Oliver would banter back and forth with her. He enjoyed their repartee. If nothing else, he would have offered her an apology and a smile, without conscious thought moving closer to stand by her side... as if drawn to her. And he was. Felicity made him feel... so many things – some good, some bad, but all welcome. Even if he didn't want to admit to some of those feelings, to simply be able to feel again was a gift she had given him that she'd never realize the value of.

"We need to talk."

And that's why they were there, why he had called them both off of work and had her meet him at the foundry: because she had given him so much, the least she deserved in return was his honesty... even if it did sit so heavily upon his chest that Oliver struggled to breathe.

"Oh no," Felicity argued with him, already standing up despite the obvious discomfort that marred her face. "Nope. Not happening. I'm out of here."

She bent down and grabbed her purse, then paused and straightened back up at his words. "What? Why?"

"Oliver." Hands on hips, gaze narrowed, she was the perturbed teacher scolding a wayward child. "Those are the four most evil words in the English language." He didn't say anything, simply raised his brows to ask for clarification. "Nothing good ever comes from someone starting a conversation with 'we need to talk.'"

"Felicity," he started, taking a step towards her, but she held up a hand, demanding that he stop.

"Just... close your eyes."

"What?"

"Just close your eyes, Oliver."

So, he did. But he didn't see the darkness that would have been a relief. Instead, he saw a devastated Felicity. A hurt Felicity. A crying Felicity. And the sense of failure that washed over him was chilling in its intensity. He never wanted to be the reason why she cried, but Oliver was absolutely positive that Felicity's tears that day were inevitable. Because he had to tell to her, Oliver slumped under the weight of his helplessness.

"Okay, now I want you to think back for me and remember every time someone said 'hey, we need to talk' and you actually managed to walk away without feeling like a mack truck ran you over." After a few seconds, she made a buzzing sound, emulating a timer going off. "Time's up. Because you can't. Because such a memory does not exist – for you, for me, for anyone. Like I said, the four most evil words in the English language."

She turned on her heels and managed to walk several paces away before he called out after her. "Felicity, please. Wait." She paused but didn't spin back around. "It's important."

He watched as she sighed, her shoulders deflating in defeat. While it wasn't fair of him, Oliver knew, if he played upon the ever-present concern she had for him, she'd stay. She'd stay, and she'd listen, and, in the process, he'd betray that affection. Thankfully, however, she moved cautiously, taking her time to stow her purse once more and retake her seat. As she bent her knees once more, Oliver witnessed her discomfort. She grimaced and bit her bottom lip.

This was the impetus he needed to move. Quickly eating up the distance between them, Oliver lowered himself so that he was kneeling before her, his arms seemingly lifting of their own volition so he could tenderly, hesitantly run his fingers over her bare, bruising skin. Although Felicity flinched at his touch, she didn't pull away – her reaction one of involuntary surprise and not uneasiness or pain. For several moments, they remained that way – Felicity not moving, Oliver allowing the feel of her beneath his touch to ground him.

Without meeting her gaze, he whispered, "I slept with Sara."

And then she was gone.

Felicity scrambled away from him so fast, Oliver nearly fell forward when her presence was no longer there before him to hold him up. Her chair, her suddenly empty chair, collided with the desk behind her so harshly that her monitors wobbled, almost falling off the edge, while she shot across the room, arms already wrapped around her body. Oliver wasn't sure if she was trying to hold herself together or ward him off.

"Felicity?"

"Don't do this," she beseeched him. "Please, don't do this."

"I need to explain." She shook her head no, frantic and adamant, and he felt his own already turbulent emotions come to a slow, rolling boil. "You need to let me explain."

"I don't have to do anything, Oliver," Felicity snapped.

He took a step towards her, needing to be close to her again. Like always. But she darted behind a table, needing more than just distance from him; needing a physical barrier, a shield. Without thinking that his actions might be scaring her, Oliver gave chase, his much larger, determined steps soon chewing up and spitting back out the separation her smaller, frantic ones fleetingly gained her. It wasn't until Felicity came to a sudden stop and Oliver noticed how rigidly she was holding herself, her hands trembling beside her, that he recognized her fear – perhaps not fear of him per say but fear of what he was trying to tell her. The realization paralyzed him.

"Oh, god," she moaned.

It took every last ounce of his willpower not to reach out for her, not to try and console her, to offer himself the solace of taking care of her.

"Here." She whispered.

At first, he didn't understand what she was saying. "What?"

But then Oliver watched as Felicity bolted. They were standing by the training area, but she didn't stop until she had her purse again and was clutching the metal handrail of the stairs like it was the only thing keeping her upright. She stood like taking another step further into the basement would be the death of her, and she still refused to look at him, her eyes trained unflinchingly, tearfully on the mat on which he was still poised.

The mat.

The mat he had replaced early that morning with a new one, a

clean one.

"You had sex with her here."

The words burst forth from a throat that sounded raw with emotion, the gasp that accompanied them a fist to Oliver's already wrecked determination. While he still knew that he was right in telling Felicity the truth, the agony he had mistaken as fear was slowly but surely breaking him. It was amazing that confessing to Felicity that he had slept with Sara made him feel more than the acknowledged act itself.

Sex was just sex.

Even with Sara.

It was a distraction, a relief, a comfort, a way to temporarily feel connected and fill the emptiness that sometimes threatened to consume him. It was a rush, and it was a reminder of being alive. It was a release. It was fleeting oblivion. And sex was fun – even angry sex; especially angry sex. It was also familiar, something that he could fall back and disappear into. Never once in Oliver's life had sex meant more than sex. While he had loved, he had always shied away from intimacy. And being with Sara was no different.

There was no risk with her... for either of them. She had already been hurt – by him and by others, so he didn't have to fear what sleeping with her could bring to her life. She understood him. She used him just as he used her. She wasn't in love with him. They were friends; and he needed her in his life; and Oliver loved her for surviving, for helping him to survive, for being there, but he could never be in love with her either. He cared, though. And that was the problem. Because Felicity knew he cared, and it wasn't until Sara had left him alone once more in the foundry – the home – he shared with his partners the night before that the full impact of what sleeping with her would mean to the one person in his life he couldn't label hit him. If he did admit what Felicity was to him, once he did, that wasn't something he'd be able to take back or walk away from. What she didn't know, what she could never know, was that, when it came to Felicity and Sara, the word care had two very different meanings.

You had sex with her here.

Felicity's words – an accusation, not a question – hung between them, taunted him. Oliver found himself answering anyway. "Yes."

Her eyes slammed shut. For Oliver, it felt like she was denying his presence and denying him the right to see her. "I can't be here; I can't do this."

Before she could take a single step, he was across the room and standing before her. However, this time, he knew better than to try and touch her. "We need to, though," Oliver argued. "We need to talk about this."

When she glared at him, the maelstrom of misery that confronted him nearly brought him to his knees. "What's there to talk about? You couldn't be with someone you cared about because of the life you live. But you were with Sara. I think that pretty much says it all, Oliver."

She had her back turned towards him and several risers of space between them before he managed to say, "it's not like that; it wasn't like that."

She kept climbing.

"Felicity, you don't understand."

"Maybe I don't want to!"

Her chest and back heaved from the sheer force of her words and the sentiments behind them, from the deafening volume of her voice, and he found himself yelling right back. "But I need to tell you!"

"I think your actions have said enough."

"And your actions," he prodded her, tried to goad her. "Leaving. Walking away." She didn't react and had a hand on the door when he asked, "are you coming back?"

The only answer Oliver received was the soft click of the door closing behind her. It sounded like finality.

Without a second's thought, Oliver reached for his cell phone and sightlessly placed a call. While he waited for the person on the other end to pick up, he never once looked away from where he had last seen Felicity. When the line clicked over, Oliver didn't wait for or offer a greeting. "Felicity needs you." And then he hung up.

When Felicity opened the door, Digg saw red – a red nose and eyes from too much crying and red as in... "I'm going to kill him."

She stepped back to allow him into her apartment and, as she did so, said, "ask Roy to help. You're too pretty for Oliver to be able to get a few good licks in before you finally finish him off."

He laughed. "Joking around is a good sign. I see you're moving along those steps of grief nicely."

"Oh yes," Felicity agreed, walking over to take a collapsing seat upon her sofa. After tucking her legs up underneath her and reaching for a pillow to hug, she patted the cushion next to her. Digg complied. "I've always been a fast girl." He raised a brow and quirked his lips. "Fast learning girl," Felicity amended. "I quickly realized that sarcasm and derision will serve me much better than sadness."

"Alright, hit me with your best shot. Show me what you've got." She accepted his encouragement and then promptly burst into tears. Diggle's first instinct was to reach for his friend, to pull her into his embrace, and never let her go. She just looked that... broken. But he could tell by her posture that the last thing Felicity wanted was to be touched. So, instead, he simply asked, "what the hell did Oliver do, Felicity," because he was lost.

Her answer was anything but illuminating, but John wasn't sure if Felicity was even aware of his presence once she started talking. It was more like she was working through something in her own mind, and he was just allowed to witness it. "He went against type. This should be reassuring, because I'm not his type. But maybe it didn't matter that she's blonde, because she's also a Lance – a gorgeous, perfect Lance."

"Oh no," Digg sighed. He closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose, and just waited for more. Because, if Oliver had slept with Sara... and it appeared he had, then what he was witnessing from Felicity was just going to be the tip of the iceberg's meltdown. Now, the question was had she caught them together or had Oliver confessed.

"But that's just it, those Lance girls are far from perfect. First, there's Laurel. Literally. Because Oliver had sex with her first. Both Olivers. Lawyer Laurel who is now a pill-popping wino... and this coming from someone who would skip around with a slow drip of red at all times if she could, Laurel who couldn't understand Oliver if I wrote her a freaking book. She's judgmental, and sanctimonious, and I'm a totally hypocrite, but at least I don't exist perpetually ready for a flood."

He had been prepared to just let her rant, but Digg found himself wondering out loud, "huh?"

"Her pants," Felicity explained. "They're always too short. And I know she's trying to make a fashion statement, but they just bother me. But at least she only lets her ankles... okay, maybe her lower calves sometimes... hang out; Sara's just all there and in your face."

"I know I'm about to regret this, but what are you talking about, Felicity?"

"Her boobs," she ranted, gesturing wildly towards her own chest. "She gives that milk away for free to everyone, yet Oliver – stupid, oversexed, Arrow Oliver – banged that cow anyway."

"Yeah, really not how that saying goes..."

She ignored him and continued ranting. "I just... I don't get it, Digg. How can anyone, especially someone as special... and I mean that as both exceptional and special ed... as Oliver, be with someone who would willingly sleep with their sister's boyfriend? Their sister's! I am by no means absolving Oliver of that whole mess, but sisters before misters, right? But he was. He was with her after telling me that he couldn't be with someone he could really care about because of the kind of life he lives."

Shrugging helplessly, John offered, "then maybe that means he doesn't actually care about her."

"You were there, too," she argued. "You and I both heard him say that he needed her, that he put a tracking device on her because he couldn't lose her again." She defeatedly smiled at him then, surprising him further by reaching forward and wrapping a hand around one of his and squeezing twice. "But thank you for trying to tell me otherwise... even if you didn't believe what you said either."

After she let go of him, Felicity fell silent, and the two of them simply sat on her couch – Felicity apparently lost in thought, John just... lost. He had no idea how to handle the situation Oliver had foolishly placed them all in. What he wanted to do was go find Oliver and beat the piss out of him, but that wasn't going to help Felicity. Plus, from the sound of the other man's voice over the phone, Felicity had already done a number on him, and Digg had a feeling her words hit harder than any of his punches every could.

"He had sex with her at the foundry."

Under his breath, Diggle swore. "Shit." Shaking his head in disbelief, in unsurprised defeat, he caught a glimpse of Felicity out of the corner of his eyes. She was twisting and twining her fingers together to the point of physical pain, and, if she bit her bottom lip any harder, she'd draw blood. Deciding that he just couldn't sit back and listen this time, that he had to help, John moved so that he was across from Felicity, now on her coffee table rather than her couch. "Alright, look." When she didn't, he snapped his fingers... just to get her attention. She glared at him in response, so he knew she was ready to listen.

"I'm only going to say this once, and what you do with it is between you and Oliver. I can't... I can't get involved in whatever this is that exists between the two of you, because you're both my friends, and, frankly, if you two are ever going to be anything more than friends to each other, then you're going to have to be able to figure this stuff out on your own and without me." Felicity remained silent, so he pressed on, knowing that his next statement would most certainly get a reaction. "You're so in love with that man that you can't see straight; you can't see him straight."

All of the color drained from her face. "I don't... I'm not..."

"You. Are."

When her head dropped down to be cradled and hidden by her hands, Felicity groaned, "oh, god." But she didn't try to deny it, which, frankly, surprised Digg.

"Look, I know that something went down yesterday between the two of you at his mother's press conference."

She levelly met his gaze, and he saw sincere regret but also a loyalty so fierce and strong that it was beautiful. "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you about that."

"And that's alright, Felicity." When she went to protest, he reassured her, "really. When and if Oliver wants to tell me about it, I'll be there for him, but, until then, what you need to understand is that what happened between – what is happening between the two of you – had nothing to do with Oliver sleeping with Sara... at least not in the way you think."

"But isn't that the problem," she forlornly asked.

"No, it isn't." Taking a deep breath, Digg launched with, "there are two things you need to know about Oliver Queen. The first is that he's afraid."

"Yeah, I know," Felicity spoke up, rolling her eyes. "He's afraid, if he allows someone to get close, that they'll get hurt."

"Yes and no," Diggle argued. "While I won't disagree that Oliver is protective and that it would devastate him to lose someone because of what he does as Green Arrow, what he's actually afraid of is getting hurt himself. The whole safety excuse is just that: an excuse. He uses it as a reason to push people away, because, if he doesn't allow anyone to get too close to him, then it won't hurt as much when they leave. Because they will leave. In Oliver's eyes, one way or another, that's inevitable, and that's because of the second thing you need to know about Oliver: he doesn't like himself."

Felicity was listening intently, hanging onto his every word while, at the same time, fitting what he was revealing into her own insights, opinions, and feelings. "In fact, I'd say there was a point when Oliver hated himself. And I'm not just talking about after the island. The Oliver Queen who left on his father's boat more than six years ago was an insecure, lost boy. He had no identity beyond being a cliché, and he flitted from one thing to another, from one school to another, from one girl to another, because he didn't know himself well enough to know what he wanted. His self-worth was entirely dependent upon what others thought of him.

"Fast forward until now, and Oliver has an identity. He has several, in fact. And he has purpose, substance, depth, but he also has guilt, self-loathing, and a whole hell of a lot of rage. He channels these things so that he can be the Arrow, but that doesn't mean that Oliver likes who he is. You might see a hero, Felicity, but Oliver sees a violent liar when he looks into the mirror every morning. When you combine his fear with his hate, the result is quite damning, because Oliver becomes his own self-fulfilling prophecy.

"When there's something good there just waiting for him, he'll do anything he has to in order to push it away, to keep it at arms length, because he can only allow people in so far. So, when you start getting too close, he hurts you. He used to try to get you to leave. He'd yell, and snap, and blame, but you fought back just as hard, just as dirty. You wouldn't take no for an answer, and you forced Oliver to acknowledge you. And he has – as his friend and as his partner, but you want more than that. Hell, he wants more than that, too. I don't care what he says or what you think. But you're that risk that's too big for him to take. He already wants you, and he already needs you, but, if he lets you in anymore, then you'll own him. Not only do you see through the masks he wears, but you force him to look deeper inside of himself than he's comfortable with; you help him see that he's more than just guilt, self-loathing, and rage."

"I think you give me far too much credit," Felicity finally interrupted, apparently unable to remain quiet any longer. He could hear the faint scoffing tone to her voice.

"Really," John asked rhetorically. "So, then, it wasn't you who helped Oliver see that there was a better way than to kill?"

"That was Tommy," she instantly refuted.

He ignored her. "That he could be more than just a vigilante trying to right his family's wrongs; he could be his own man who helped others simply because he could?"

For that, she offered up no dispute, so he went back to his earlier point. "You've made him a better person, not because you tried to change him but because you believed in him enough for him to start believing in himself, too. If your faith in him is that strong, then, eventually, you'll break through the rest of his walls as well, and, when you do, he will have no choice but to surrender... everything... and also accept your surrender to him. Oliver isn't ready for that kind of intimacy, though. So, he lives up to his own worst opinions of himself, and he finds the very thing that will hurt you the most because, in his eyes, that's the only way to keep you both safe: he turns down the everything you offer him and accepts the nothing that women like Isabel and Sara are willing to give. And that's exactly what being with Sara will mean in the long run: nothing. He might care for her, but caring is such a relative emotion. It means something different with every person its ascribed to."

Neither of them said anything for several minutes – Digg observing; Felicity contemplating. Finally, she took a deep breath and then queried, "so, what you're telling me is that Oliver's just not ready, that, if I want to be with him, then I will have to wait – to love him enough from afar to forgive him when he intentionally tries to hurt and push me away?"

"It's not fair, and I think you deserve better, but neither of those things are up to me, Felicity. Only you can say what's fair for you, and only you can decide if Oliver's worth the wait and the torment that will come with the waiting."

"And what if, while we're waiting, we run out of time?"

For that, he had no answer.

"Wow, John Diggle, you are just a ray of sunshine. Talk about knowing how to cheer a girl up."

He rose from his seat on the coffee table, because he recognized the teasing as Felicity's way of asking to be alone. He had given her a lot to think about, and he could also see a well of restless energy inside of her that she would need to burn off before she could really process everything. But, before he could leave, there was one last thing he needed to talk to her about.

"What about the Arrow? Are you going to keep helping, or are you done? Because you know that she'll be..."

She interrupted him. "It's going to take a lot more than Sara Lance or Black Canary to chase me off, Digg." Offering him the first real grin he had seen since he knocked on her door, Felicity added, "she might be fast... and I chose that word deliberately, but I'm a genius, and I'm also legally alive. Sara Lance can bring it. I'll be ready for her."

"That's my girl," John complimented her, surprising the both of them by bending forward to press a chaste, brotherly kiss against her forehead. Without another word said, he let himself out of her apartment, pausing only long enough in the hallway outside to make sure she locked the door behind him. She did.

"What in the hell...?"

He had expected the basement to be empty. After his non-confrontation with Felicity that morning, he had taken off on his bike, simply pushing the machine to its limits as he tried to forget the way she shied away from his touch, the way she couldn't even look at him and seemed unable to stomach the idea of him looking at her. Hours on the back of his motorcycle, however, had accomplished nothing. He was still just as tense and on edge when he returned to the club as he had been when he left. Oliver's intentions were to sweat out his problems, to push his body so far past its limits that he could do nothing but collapse. Only, he wasn't alone, and the other person he found in the basement was the last person he expected but the only one he wanted to see there. That didn't mean, though, that he wanted to see her smack dab in the middle of a disaster zone.

"What are you doing?"

Absolutely nothing was where it was supposed to be. Things were pushed aside and piled in leaning towers of precariousness. Their neatly arranged workspace wasn't even recognizable.

"What does it look like I'm doing," Felicity answered acerbically. Before he could respond, though, she said, "oh, wait. Rich boys don't clean. Never-mind and carry on."

"This is not cleaning."

"Of course it is," she defended, hands fisted on hips. She was standing in the middle of the room – barefoot, hair in some ridiculous pile on the top of her head, and clothes (a plain tank top paired with old, ripped jeans) obviously picked for comfort and practicality versus style. She looked relaxed, though, and supremely comfortable in her own skin. It was... attractive in a way that Oliver was unfamiliar with. Compared to that morning, it was also a welcome reprieve. "Everybody knows, Oliver, that you have to completely destroy something before you can build it back up again."

He also wondered if everyone knew they weren't talking about cleaning anymore.

"Why are you doing this, Felicity?"

"You tell me," she shot back. Neither of them had moved since they first spotted one another. It was like they were dancing in their corners after the bell sounded, simply warming up – getting a feel for their opponent – and waiting for the other to make the first move. "You're the one who felt the need to buy a new sparring mat." Attack. "What's it look like I'm doing? I'm spring cleaning." And retreat.

"Except it's February."

"Well, it's spring somewhere," Felicity snapped.

"Yeah, that's not how the seasons work."

She ignored him. "Are you just going to stand there and watch, or are you going to give me a hand?" She flushed at the innuendo, embarrassed, but did not try to change or fix what she said. Oliver suppressed a grin. Felicity seemed to sense it somehow anyway, because she scowled at him. "You know what I mean."

"Neither. I'm going to talk, and you're going to listen." She went to interject, but he spoke over her. "I'm sorry."

He watched as she bit her lip in an effort not to say anything, but instinct and her very nature won out, and Felicity demanded to know, "for what: for sleeping with her, for sleeping with her here, or for telling me?"

In a way he was sorry for all those things, but, in another, he wasn't. But there was no easy way to explain that to her. So, instead, Oliver settled for, "I'm sorry that you're hurt."

"Yeah, well, don't worry about me, because I'm fine." She wasn't, but she would be. Would they, though? "Or at least I will be once this place is clean again."

She finally walked away, locating some cleaning supplies to use as a distraction. Getting down on her hands and knees, Felicity plunged a brush into a bucket of sudsy water and began to scrub the floor. "I'd like to try and explain..."

"There's no need."

"What?"

"There's no need for you to explain what happened, Oliver, because I already understand."

Skeptically, he challenged, "you do?"

The brush got tossed back in the bucket, while her gaze got tossed back in his direction. "In the Buffy series finale, she gave this ridiculous speech about being cookie dough. I never got it. But I do now, because you're cookie dough, too."

"I am?" He was? Oliver had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

"You are," Felicity confirmed. "You're still baking... just like Buffy was. And that's okay. But there are two things you need to know about... baking cookies. First, if you bake them for too long, they'll get burnt. No one wants burnt cookies, and, in the meantime, while the cookies are being burnt, the person who was waiting to eat them will find some other kind of dessert. Secondly, some people like the cookie dough better than the actual cookies, Oliver."

Holding his arms out to his side, palms up, he shrugged in confusion. "I'm lost."

"I know. And that's okay, too. But Oliver?

"Yes, Felicity?"

She stood up and confidently moved across the room until she was standing directly in front of him. There was an iron-like strength running through her veins. Head tilted back so she could look him in the eye, she said, "the next time you feel the need to go to Russia, come to me instead." His eyes went wide at the implications of what she was saying. She took this in, because he saw her react to his surprise, but she didn't back down, nor did she blush or stammer. Rather, she simply added, "come to me, and we'll talk cookies."

She didn't wait for him to respond; she just turned back around and returned to her scrubbing while he watched her. The day had come full circle, and, despite his fears, she was still there beside him. She was still his friend, his partner, his Felicity. It – she – shocked the hell out of him, but it shouldn't have, because there wasn't a person he knew stronger than Felicity Smoak. He had burned her, and Oliver knew himself well enough to know that he would undoubtedly burn her again, and again, and again in the future, but, for reasons he couldn't comprehend, his fire only seemed to strengthen her. He was toxic, but she allowed him into her heart anyway.

With that thought, he found another scrub brush, pushed up his sleeves, got down beside her on the floor, and started to clean.

She truly was remarkable.