Felicity swiveled in her chair, concern engraved in her face when she heard the door to the Foundry open.
She rose to meet them, approaching Diggle first. "You're bleeding. I'm going to get the first-aid kit." Then she was off, thinking of how strange it was that this was her new normal. She ushered Diggle to a nearby chair and proceeded to clean and bandage the gash on his arm.
With one hand, Oliver placed his bow on the table. The other was outstretched to Richard, who took it in a firm handshake.
"Thank you," he said, solemnly. They were out of earshot from Felicity and Diggle, which made the next part easier to get through. "And...I'm sorry I slept with Kate." It was an apology ten years in the making.
Richard shrugged, sinking into a nearby chair.
"Bygones," he replied, light but earnest. "I'm sorry I got you kicked out of Brown."
"Let's be honest. If it wasn't because of the casino, it would have been for showing up in class drunk." Oliver found himself smiling, surprised he was sincere.
"You showed up in class?" Richard narrowed his eyes at him.
"I can't remember...I was drunk a lot," Oliver chuckled, as he recalled an incident with a dare and a beer bong that ended with him getting his stomach pumped in the emergency room.
It was interesting, how naturally they were able to slip back into the rhythm of their friendship. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and Oliver was a different person back then. But here they were, and against all odds, history was repeating itself. Except this time, he actually loved the girl...and he wasn't going to get her. Karma is a bitch, he thought to himself.
"That I remember," Richard grinned back. "So...you told her about the cheerleading thing."
"Was that supposed to be a secret?" Oliver wrinkled his forehead, feigning innocence.
"Look at you two…in the same room together for more than 10 minutes and no one's throwing punches, literally or figuratively," Felicity said, walking up to them. She turned to Richard. "Ready to go?"
He reached over, automatically slipping his fingers into hers, an action so natural it wouldn't have been cause for anyone to look twice. Except Oliver.
"Absolutely," a wide smile appeared on his face, as he rose from the chair.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Oliver."
Her hand landed on his arm, and she did what she had done countless times before: running her fingers from his shoulder to his elbow in a gesture of spontaneous affection. She was oblivious to the pain it caused him now, to have her hands on him for seconds, and to know they would be on someone else for the rest of the night; that her touch, from here on out, would be a reminder of missed opportunities.
They had done this dance for so long-the shoulder clasps, the hand touches, the gazes that should have been awkward but never were-that he never realized how much he enjoyed the hidden potential between them. Until it was gone. She flashed him a smile, one that should have warmed him, and while he wanted to return it, he was acutely aware of the knot in his stomach as he watched her walk away, fingers still intertwined with Richard's.
"Best part of my job?" Diggle asked, appearing beside him.
"The opportunity to add to your scar collection," Oliver joked, a half-smile on his lips.
"I was going to say, 'free booze.'" His eyes met Oliver's, communicating depths of sympathy that he could not verbalize. "Grab a drink before heading out?"
He saw Richard sling his arm comfortably around Felicity's shoulder, and his chest tightened involuntarily when she leaned into him in response.
"Yeah," he said, nodding, eyes falling to the ground for a moment. Sneaking one more look at them, he added, "Maybe two."
It had been a long time since she felt this way about anyone—this heart pounding, weak-in-the-knees, butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation that was as foreign to her these days as the words "boring" and normal." If she was being honest with herself, the last person who made her feel this way waltzed into her office three years earlier and handed her a bullet-ridden laptop. But things were complicated with Oliver, and Richard was as refreshingly simple as masked vigilantes came.
He was standing before her, his back facing the private plane that was being prepped to bring him back to Gotham, looking at her with an expression that let her know this goodbye would be temporary. She took a step towards him, reaching out and grasping the lapels of his suit, her thumb running up and down the fabric.
"We should probably talk about the elephant in the room," she cooed, surprised at the affection her voice held.
"You mean you and Oliver?" Richard cringed at his own words.
She threw him a questioning look. Her fingers came into contact with the nape of his neck, and holding his gaze, she replied, "No…I meant the distance. Starling City? Gotham?" She looked at him expectantly, studying his reaction, smiling when relief washed over his face. He looked down at her, and then he was grinning.
"Felicity," he said, straightening his posture as his confidence returned. "We got kidnapped on our first date, survived our first fight, and successfully completed our first mission. I think we can handle a couple of miles between us."
"It's 782 miles. That's 780 more than a couple," she pointed out.
He nodded, looking sideways for a second before replying. He had come out to Starling for a variety of reasons, the least important of which was getting her to take the position, and now her answer was the only thing he really cared about. Even though he already knew what it was, he couldn't help but try again, just one more time. "Well, there's always that job waiting for you in Gotham," he said, his tone casual but his eyes pleading. She laughed, marveling at his resolve.
"There's an overqualified assistant…waiting for you here," she countered.
"Is she as hot as you?"
A quiet laugh escaped her lips, but she tried to fake annoyance. "Can't you be serious for just two minutes?" Then she saw the change in his eyes, as his fingers reached out to cradle her face. He leaned in, letting his forehead rest on hers, thumbs gently stroking her jawline, making sure she understood every word that came next.
"Felicity," he said, firmly. "I can be serious for a lot longer than that."
She was smiling when his lips met hers.
Story has moved. It's called Save Me a Dance. I can't post a link, but just look it up under my stories if you are interested in reading more. I moved it because the theme is different, and because 20+ chapters is difficult to navigate through. :) Thanks again for reading!