A/N: This is my very first Arrow fan fiction! I hope you all enjoy it!
There was something Felicity always liked about coffee shops. The coffee was a plus, of course, and the pleasant bitter-sweet smell hanging in the air from fresh baked pastries and newly brewed coffee. And then there were all the people. It was probably a byproduct of a relatively lonely childhood that she enjoyed being around people. She liked the hustle and bustle, hearing snippets of conversations and catching a whiff of someone's shampoo.
She went so often that she had a usual table. It was smack dab in the middle of the shop, but pressed against a particularly useful support beam equipped with a socket. It was dicey business to come armed with a laptop to a coffee shop without staking out a place next to the plug, and after watching her battery drain too many times over the weeks, Felicity had learned her lesson and relocated permanently to the seat beside the socket.
The shop was busier than usual that Saturday afternoon, people drifting through the tables in what almost felt like shifts. Felicity barely noticed. She was too busy trying to hack into the library's mainframe to rectify an unwarranted late fee. The grid was surprisingly well protected, and she continued searching for some chink in the armor that would let her in.
Somewhere in between her fourth and seventh failed attempt, a man sat at the table beside her. Normally, she wouldn't have noticed him. The people in the shop were more of an ambient perk to her than one she actually noticed and interacted with, but something about him pulled her from her hacking reverie. The first thing that struck her was that he was incredibly good looking. His face was the type that ended up on TV screens and on magazines. Her eyes trailed quickly from his profile down to his computer screen. At her angle she could just catch the contents, and she could see that something was off with the graphics. He hit the trackpad irritably, followed by the harried swiping that could only mean one thing.
"Come on," he mumbled irritably. He hit the trackpad again. "This is ridiculous."
She hesitated for a moment before leaning forward and telling him, "You need to reboot it."
He glanced over, mouth pulled into a tired frown, and said, "What?"
"Your computer," she explained. "It's frozen, right?" He nodded. "So, you need to reboot it. It should clear it right up."
"Okay, thanks," he said, smiling slightly as he glanced back down at his computer. He stared at the keyboard for a moment before saying, "I reboot by…"
"The large button on the top right," Felicity said, pointing at a round button at the top of the computer's keyboard. "Hold that down until the screen turns black. It'll start up again on its own."
"Right, sure. I knew that."
She smirked. "Sure you did."
Felicity grinned a bit, nodding in acknowledgement, and returned to her hacking. But she kept getting distracted. Her eyes kept going back to his table, watching him stare listlessly at his screen. She figured the rebooting would work – it usually did for freezing – but then he was looking up at her again, irritation furrowing his brow.
"It didn't work, huh?"
"Okay, it might be your battery then. It might have some dust in it, or something. Sometimes that can cause it to get gunked up. You need to take out the battery and blow on it a little."
He looked at her blankly. It seemed she was going to have to take this helping thing a step further. She gestured toward his table and he nodded, quickly saying, "Yeah, sure, thanks."
She pulled the computer toward her and shut the lid. Turning it over, she ran her hand over the battery. There were two locks on either side of the battery, each with a single thin indent designed to be used to turn the locks in case of battery removal.
"Do you have a penny or something?" she asked, glancing up at him. Her glasses had slipped down her nose a bit as she was examining the computer, and she pushed them back up.
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a surprisingly shiny penny. All of hers were dingy and tarnished, and here was his penny looking like it came straight from the mint. Maybe this is what a lucky penny looked like. She wouldn't say hers ever were.
She put the edge of the penny into the little indent on the lock and turned it. The lock came unhinged easily, and she made quick work of the other. The battery popped out and she carefully blew into all the ridges, bits of dust blowing out into the coffee and pastry speckled air. She put it back in the computer and secured the locks. A few minutes later the computer was rebooted and working like new.
"You're really good at this stuff," he noted, grinning at her.
"I like computers," she said with a shrug. "I understand them."
"You sure do."
She went to say something else when his attention was diverted by someone who walked into the coffee shop. He gave a small wave to whoever it was, and Felicity stood.
"Well, good luck with your computer. I hope it behaves for you."
He laughed. "Thanks."
She turned back to her table and picked up her her empty coffee cup on the way to the counter for a refill before the pretty brunette got to his table. She was a few feet away, waiting in line, but she could still faintly hear their conversation.
"Who was that?" the girl asked.
"Just some girl," he returned. "She helped me with my computer."
"That was nice of her."
The conversation turned toward other topics, like they always did.
Felicity wondered what it was like for people who didn't dread Mondays. She assumed it was happy and complacent people, who liked their jobs and felt challenged and invigorated by their work. Being in the IT department at a high school was neither challenging nor invigorating. The most interesting problem she got involved students pranking another by changing the language of their laptops or cell phones. One time she'd seen an iPhone that had actually been reprogrammed so that all the applications and everything were in Klingon. She thought it was the funniest thing, but even that had only taken her fifteen minutes to fix.
The one good thing about her job was the pay. Working for one of Starling City's most prestigious private high schools ensured a hefty paycheck with equally hefty benefits. It was one of the reasons her parents had come around to her taking the job over the PhD program she'd been accepted to and then turned down in New York. They couldn't understand at first how she could turn down such an opportunity. What they didn't know is that it was hard enough being alone in her own city. She couldn't even imagine it in a foreign one.
The door opened to the office and a slim girl with wavy brown hair walked in, her uniform skirt clearly hemmed about two or three inches shorter than mandated. But she wore it well. Her shirt was untucked, tie hanging loosely around her neck. There was some pin on the lapel of the jacket, touting some charity cause that would probably be out of fashion by the next week.
"Thea, what can I do for you?" Felicity asked with a knowing smile. Thea was one of their regulars. She was about as technologically illiterate as they came, and Felicity was constantly helping her figure out powerpoint, email, and anything else that popped up on the computer screen.
"Okay, so I wrote this big paper for my class last night," Thea said. "And I saved it. I swear I did. But now, I can't find it. I need you to find it. Because it's sort of worth my entire grade."
"Okay," Felicity said crisply. "What did you name it?"
Not missing a beat, Thea replied, "Plate Fucking Tectonics Paper."
Felicity smirked, typing the title into the search bar. Nothing came up and she tried a few more little tricks, still not getting anywhere. She could sense Thea becoming increasingly tense as her paper continued to be missing in action.
"Alright, there's one more thing I can try," Felicity said, opening up a new document. She went to save it, and when she saw where the document would be saved, let out a happy, "Aha!"
"Is that good?"
"It is very good," Felicity said. She went into the downloads folder and found Thea's paper among the other documents and files. "You must have accidentally set your save default for new documents as downloads. So, when you searched for your paper in the documents, it literally wasn't there. But, we found it. So, no worries, you won't fail your class now. Unless, you know, it's bad. Which I'm sure it's not. I don't assume you write bad papers. I…" Felicity trailed off, shaking her head. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
Thea shook her head, picking her laptop up from the desk. "Nope. Thanks again, Felicity. You are a total life saver."
Felicity smiled brightly. "I do my best. Good luck on that paper."
Thea slipped out of the office and her coworker Roger, one desk over, said, "And Felicity Smoak saves the day again."
"Ha, yeah, one lost document at a time," she returned. The office quiet, she opened up the internet browser and loaded up Facebook. She knew it was technically against the school's code to be going on a social networking site, but she figured that since there was nothing else for her to do she probably had a free pass. She'd already finished up the projects she'd been assigned for the month, even throwing in a free upgrade of the network's firewall on a particularly slow afternoon.
She ended up on his profile without really even thinking about it. Checking up on him was one of those things she just did. She inwardly argued to herself that it wasn't because she was hung up on him, but when she spotted the new blonde in his profile picture, there was an unmistakable ache in her chest.
Matt. Her ex-boyfriend. Her only ex-boyfriend. He was the person that made her feel special and loved, and everything was perfect until he decided one day that he was done. He didn't even really give her a reason. It was just, thank you, we're done here, not much to say. Just like that.
She closed the page quickly, not wanting to get upset at work. After a shaky breath she went into the computer's network, set on distracting herself. The firewall could always use another update.
A week later, Felicity was at her desk again, embarking on a morning game of Tetris. She was losing terribly when Thea walked in, mouth pulled in a wide grin that suggested perhaps she was there on non-technological-business.
"Hi Thea," Felicity said, offering her a small grin.
"Hey Felicity, so, I got that paper back that you totally saved from my computer. And I got an A."
Felicity shot her a genuine grin then and said, "That's amazing, Thea. I'm glad we found it."
"Yeah, me too. Anyway, my brother's club is having its grand opening party tonight. It's invitation only, but, I just so happen to have two tickets for you."
"You what?" Felicity stammered.
Thea reached into her purse and pulled out two silver wristbands. "You just need to wear these to get in the door, and then you can take them off."
"You didn't have to do this," Felicity mumbled, thinking to herself that she wished she hadn't. She was the type of person who could never turn down a gift, and she had a feeling Thea would find out if she ditched.
"I know, but I wanted to," Thea chirped. "You're always saving my butt in here. This is my way of saying thank you."
"Well, um, you're welcome," Felicity said, eyes actively avoiding the metallic wristbands now on her desk. "And thank you for the invitation. I…I'll be there. Yes. I will be there."
Thea beamed. "Great! I'll tell my brother to look out for you."
Felicity nodded, reaching up and readjusting her glasses. Thea flounced out of the office and Felicity slumped in her seat.
"You don't seem like the club type," Roger noted.
"Yeah, that would be because I'm not."
"I can go with you," Roger offered. "Power in numbers, right?"
Felicity glanced over at him and his wrinkled button up shirt, a stain from his jelly donut on the collar.
"Meet there at nine?"
Felicity didn't really know what proper club attire was, but she figured that the shorter the hem, the more club-attire-appropriate. She went with a dress that she'd shoved in the back of the closet after it shrunk in the dryer. She felt it was a little too short, and a little too tight, but she reasoned to herself as she stepped out of the cab, tugging at the hem, that her discomfort likely meant it was perfect for the night.
She spotted Roger over at the edge of the building and waved. When she reached him she pulled his wristband out of her purse and handed it to him. Roger put it on, eyeing the trendy crowd edging into the club warily.
"Is it just me, or does everyone walking into this club look more attractive and more successful than us?"
"Nope. Definitely not just you." Felicity paused. "What are the odds Thea would find out if I ditch right now?"
"The real question is how well can you make up a story about tonight when she comes in Monday and asks about it?"
Felicity frowned. "Can't I just google what happens at a club?"
"Aren't you supposed to meet her brother, too?"
"Then there's no way out of this," Felicity said with finality. She squared her shoulders. "We have to go in."
Felcity headed toward the entrance and Roger said behind her, "You do realize you're forcing yourself to go to a club because you were afraid to say no to a high schooler."
Not turning around, Felicity retorted, "Yes, I am well aware of that."
They showed their wristbands to the bouncer and walked into the club. Felicity's eyes adjusted to the darkness as her ears strained to hear whatever Roger was yelling in her direction over the pulsating music.
"What?" she yelled.
Roger yelled again, voice still drowned out by the loud music.
"I can't hear you!" she yelled, pointing to her ear and shaking her head. Roger shrugged and he pointed toward the bar. She nodded, and they made their way toward the crowded bar. It was surrounded by girls in tight dresses with Kardashian hair, and men in perfectly fitted suits. Roger edged his way to the front, beckoning for Felicity to follow him. It was then that a hand landed on her arm and she heard someone say, "Hey!"
She turned around, eyes widening when she saw the guy from the coffee shop in front of her. He grinned a bit and said, "I thought it was you. The computer girl."
"Um, yeah," she stammered. "That's me. Computer girl. I mean – that's not my name. Obviously. But…" she trailed off, swallowing hard. "Hi."
He laughed, the sound warm and rich. "I figured that wasn't your name. Thank you for your help, by the way."
"You're welcome," she said crisply. "I'm a very helpful person."
He laughed again. "I can tell. I'm Oliver, by the way. I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself properly at the coffee shop."
He held out his hand and she grasped it lightly, shaking his hand as she said, "I'm Felicity."
His brow furrowed for a moment and he asked, "Hold on, are you Felicity Smoak?"
Felicity blinked rapidly. "Yeah, I am."
He grinned wide and said, "I can't believe it. My sister Thea told me about you."
Felicity's eyes widened as it all came together. "You're Oliver Queen?"
He nodded. "Born and bred. My sister has told me a lot about you. Apparently you are her saving grace in that school."
Felicity blushed. "Oh, well, I don't do that much. I just, you know, help her get into her email. Fix formatting on papers. That sort of thing."
"Well, regardless, my sister has a very high opinion of you. After your help in the coffee shop, I'm inclined to agree with her."
Felicity smiled a bit, glancing to the side. "Anyway, so, you own this place?" she asked, gaze returning to him. "It's pretty amazing."
"Thank you. Yes, I own it with my friend Tommy Merlin. Both of us were looking for a way to put our trust funds to good use."
"And you decided to make a club," Felicity said, thinking to herself that if she had all that money, opening a club probably wouldn't be the first thing she'd go and spend it on. She realized a beat later that these thoughts had tinged her voice with a tone of disapproval, and she quickly said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to - a club is a great way to spend your money."
"Your reaction was much like my family's," Oliver returned easily. "But, Tommy and I figured we'd go into business with what we know best. I'm not ashamed to say we had some good times growing up. And that's come in handy building this place."
"Well, you're surely not short on people," Felicity said, taking stock of the large crowd just about everywhere in the club. "This place is packed."
Oliver nodded. He glanced down at her hands and noted, "You don't have a drink."
"Oh," she glanced back at the bar, searching for Roger. He was nowhere to be seen. "I think that –"
"Come on, I'll get you one."
He wove his way through the crowd and she followed, stumbling a bit over her heels as she tried to keep up. He easily made his way to the front of the bar, but her trip was not as seamless. The crowds seemed to part for Oliver Queen, but she was left tapping shoulders and murmuring excuse me as she pushed her way after him. But she caught up with him. He leaned casually against the bar and said, "I thought I lost you there for a moment."
"Me too," she said, reaching up and readjusting her glasses. "So, what's good here?"
"Well, that depends. What do you like to drink?"
Felicity shrugged. "I don't really drink that much. But not vodka. I had a very bad vodka experience in college."
It was the one time she'd gone out in college, and it was the only one. She'd downed more raspberry vodka shots than she could even remember, and she spent the entire next day vomiting.
Oliver smirked. "Okay, no vodka. What about whiskey?"
"I have no strong feelings on it," she told him crisply. He laughed, nodding as he turned back toward the bar and said, "I know just what to get you."
She heard him order a pumpkin-basil-whiskey-sour, and when she asked him what it was he told her, "It's sweet. You'll like it."
A few minutes later there was a drink pressed in her hand and she took an experimental sip. It was surprisingly good, and she met Oliver's expectant gaze, nodding approvingly.
"This is really good."
"I knew it," he said with a grin. "I'm usually pretty good at calling what drinks people will like."
"Felicity, there you are," Roger said, appearing at her side. She felt an unmistakable sense of disappointment settle on her. "I thought I lost you."
"Roger, this is Thea's brother Oliver," Felicity said, gesturing toward Oliver.
"Oh, hey, I'm Roger Silverman," Roger said, shaking Oliver's hand. "You've got a great place here. It's, um, really bouncing."
Oliver smirked. "Thank you. I appreciate you thinking it's…bouncing. So, are you two…" he gestured between Roger and Felicity, and she quickly shook her head and blurted, "No, we work together. At the school. We're in the IT department together."
Oliver nodded, taking a sip of his drink. His gaze lingered on Felicity and she felt her stomach twist.
"Well, it was great meeting you guys," Oliver said after a beat, pulling away from the bar. "If you need anything, just find me, okay?"
Felicity nodded. "We will, thanks."
"You guys enjoy the rest of your night."
Felicty watched him walk away and disappear in the crowd.
"So, what now?" Roger asked, sipping his beer.
"We dance?" Felicity said uncertainly. That seemed like what most of the people were doing.
"Do you actually want to dance?"
"No," Felicity answered immediately.
Roger laughed. "I think if we finish our drinks you'll have satisfied your obligation to be here tonight. How about that?"
Felicity grinned wide. "Roger, I like the way you think."
Both of them finished their drinks in roughly fifteen minutes and then they were happily edging their way through the crowd. They walked out the front door and there was a burst of crisp fresh air. Felicity breathed in deep.
"Well, that is something I don't care to ever do again," Felicity said, turning toward Roger. "Thanks for being my plus one."
"It was my pleasure. I'll see you Monday?"
She nodded. "Yeah. See you Monday."
She turned and began to walk toward her car. She was parked at the far edge of the parking lot. She'd made sure to park under one of the light posts, figuring sh'd be leaving the club late.
She turned around and Oliver Queen was walking toward her. He had been talking on his cell phone, and he murmured something into it before hanging up.
"You're leaving already?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said, grasping the strap of her purse. "I was up really early today."
"Okay," he said slowly, unconvinced. "You know, you can tell me if you don't like clubs. I won't be offended."
She laughed at that, something in her chest releasing. "It really is nice inside. It's just…I'm not exactly your target demographic."
"Well, you are welcome all the same. Have a safe drive home."
Felicity nodded. "I will."
She began to turn back toward the parking lot, but stopped and said, "Hey, do you mind not telling your sister that we left so early?"
Oliver looked at her in mock confusion and said, "What do you mean you left early? You guys stayed until close."
She smiled softly. "Thank you."
Oliver nodded, mirroring her grin. "I'll see you around, Felicity."
He headed back into the club and Felicity murmured, "Yeah. I'll see you around."