AN: I haven't done prompts since my Delena days, but they're helping with my inspiration/motivation problem. So if you feel like it... You can drop prompts, ideas, random thoughts, whatever you want, into my inbox here: ask - I don't bite! :P
(I still don't own Arrow. Or any of these characters. Or a car. Or anything really... Except a cat. I do own a cat.)
devouringfoodandstuff asked: Prompt: writing about the after mass of the last episode and how it really affect felicity and she starts pulling away from everything.
It's so subtle, he almost doesn't notice it at first. In fact, if he wasn't so in tune with everything Felicity did, he probably would never have noticed at all. But he did, and once he had, it was all he could see.
It wasn't anything big, nothing drastic or life changing, but he felt the difference.
She didn't touch him anymore. That was his first clue. Not that she'd really touched him much in the past, other than her rare, spontaneous hugs, usually just born out of concern for his well being. He'd generally been the one to initiate physical contact between them, which was another thing he hadn't realized until recently. It's hard not to notice though, when she flinches every time he goes to squeeze her shoulder, steps subtly away when his hand gravitates to the small of her back.
She leans away from him where she used to lean in, her eyes drop to the floor where they used to stare his down.
She doesn't hug him anymore. He shouldn't miss that as much as he does.
There are other things too. The way she avoids any emotional moments between them, cringes away from situations where she might have to hear, or say, anything meaningful, expressive of their feelings towards the other. Whatever they might be.
She's still the voice in his ear. She still rushes to his side when he returns to the foundry covered in bruises, still insists on carefully bandaging him up even when he resists. She still supports him in every decision he makes, still makes sure he knows that she's there, she's beside him and she's not going anywhere.
But there's something missing. She's holding herself back, ever so slightly, ever so gently, withdrawing from him. And it hurts a lot more than he ever imagined it could. He's not sure how it's possible that he misses her when she's right in front of him. But somehow he does.
She doesn't ramble as much anymore. Accidentally expressing her affection, inadvertently propositioning him, blushing prettily and laughing, as his lips twitch up, unable to resist her charm.
She stops herself, swallows her words, closes her eyes, shakes her head, turns away.
And the worst part is, he doesn't know why. And if he doesn't know why, how's he supposed to fix it?
It all comes to a head at three in the morning on a Thursday night. He gets hurt worse than usual. Well, usual is a pretty loose term when it comes to him, but there's a second when he wonders if he'll make it back home, if he'll ever see her again. He doesn't even consider why she's the thought that lingers in his brain in that moment, he's too used to her being the light that draws him out in his moments of darkness to be surprised by it anymore.
He stumbles down the foundry stairs with Dig at his side, supporting more of his weight than he cares to admit. She's waiting for them at the bottom with tears staining her pretty cheeks, having heard the whole ordeal over the comms.
She doesn't say a word as she helps Dig patch him up. Her delicate little hands tremble against his skin as they press bandages down, and he wishes he could reach out and fold them in his. Press them to his lips and kiss her shaky fingers until she forgets to be scared, forgets to be sad. But he can't, because she won't let him, she'll pull away, wipe her eyes, put on that mask she's been wearing around him lately.
Diggle heads home after he's ensured that Oliver isn't going to be dropping dead in the next twenty-four hours, and it's not until he's left alone with her, that he realizes he's had enough.
He's tired, he's stressed, he nearly died, and he really, really wants her to come and sit next to him. A little too close to be strictly friendly, to touch his arm, or his jaw, the bruises that decorate his side, to smile in that soft way she used to and tell him how glad she is that he's okay, that he came back to her. He wants her to say that she can't lose him, to make him promise to be more careful, to insist on driving him home and spend the entire journey reminding him to change his bandages properly and not rip his stitches.
But she's already pulled away. She's already dried her eyes, buried herself in her computers, headphones in, complicated strings of code dancing across the screen.
He approaches her slowly, not sure what he's going to say, not even really sure what he's trying to say. But absolutely sure that he has to say something. Because this distance that's somehow grown between them is killing him. And he knows he needs to be the one to bridge the gap.
He ignores the flicker of hurt he feels as she flinches away when he gently touches her shoulder. He misses the days when she'd lean into his touch.
She raises her eyebrows and plucks out her headphones, twisting them between her fingers as she looks up at him.
"Are you?" He returns, watching as her brows draw together in confusion.
"Yeah? I'm fine." She looks at him oddly, but he's just glad that she's actually looking at him, that her eyes are holding his for longer than a few seconds.
He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, counts to three in his head, has an internal debate about what he should say, whether he should say anything at all, crouches down beside her chair, so he's at her eye level, not towering over her like he usually does.
"Did I do something to upset you?" He asks, his voice a little more unsteady than he'd anticipated, his heart beating a little faster than normal as he waits for her answer.
She still looks confused, and a little uncomfortable, but he can tell she's not lying as she shakes her head.
"Then what is it, Felicity? What happened… What changed?" He's done tiptoeing around her, he wants answers, and he's going to get them.
Her eyes flutter, and fall away from his, but not before he catches the sparkle of fresh tears gathering.
"Nothing. I don't know what you're talking about. It's late, I should go home, I need to feed my cat. Not that I have a cat… Actually that's a really weird thing to say when you don't have a cat. I don't know, it just kind of came out. Anyway, I should go because I'm tired. Not because I have a cat… Which I don't…" She trails off, looking even more confused than before, and presses a hand to her forehead.
It's the first time he's heard her ramble in weeks. Recently she's seemed to second-guess everything she says, visibly thinking it through in her head before speaking it aloud.
There's another thing he didn't ever imagine he'd miss. But he really, really does.
He has to fix this. Whatever it is.
"Please. Don't go, just… Just talk to me. Please." He's begging and he doesn't care. She's the only thing that makes sense some days, and he needs her more than he's ever been able to put into words. "Something's different, and you know it is. So please just tell me what I can do to make it right again, and I'll do it."
Her eyes still won't meet his, but he sees the solitary tear that slips down her cheek and his heart clenches in his chest.
"There's nothing you can fix, Oliver. You haven't done anything wrong." Her voice is soft and resigned, and he wants to shake her, rattle her head until the answers he's looking for come tumbling out.
"Then what is it?" He raises his voice and she flinches, sighing shakily as she stands, grabbing for her purse and trying to walk past him.
He stops her, rising from his position on the floor, he blocks her from escaping, physically intimidating her for the first time since she'd locked the foundry doors on him, way back in the beginning. He's been careful not to overwhelm her with their size difference since them, never wanting to make her uncomfortable, never wanting her to feel unsafe around him.
But he's had enough. They've been ignoring this for way too long, and now that he's started it, he wants to finish it, get everything out in the open so they can move forwards.
"I'm not letting you leave until you tell me what's been going on with you." He says firmly, sidestepping with her as she tries to walk around him.
"Oliver!" She sighs in frustration and tries to pass him again, growling in an entirely too cute way when he blocks her move. She slaps her hands to his chest and pushes him, he's not sure what she was expecting to achieve, but he takes the opportunity and grabs her hands in his, holding them just hard enough that she can't pull away, but gentle enough not to hurt her.
"Talk to me. Whatever it is, I can deal with it. We can deal with it."
"Oliver, you don't want to hear it okay? You think you do, but I promise it's not going to make anything better, it'll actually just make everything worse, and it'll be horribly embarrassing for both of us, and it's really much better if we just don't do this, okay?" Her voice is quiet and a little sad. She's still refusing to look at him.
"No. Not okay."
She casts her head back in exasperation, her eyes fixed on the ceiling.
"Fine. You really want to hear it? Fine. But don't say I didn't warn you." She takes a deep breath and seems to be steeling herself, every muscle in her body is tense, he can practically feel the discomfort coming off her in waves.
His heart picks up it's pace once again.
"It hurts too much. I can't… we can't be the way we were before, because now it hurts." She says it so quietly, he can barely hear, tears glazing her tired eyes.
She must be able to tell that he hasn't understood what she means, because she swallows and tries again, squeezing her eyes closed and letting a couple more drops slip down her pale cheeks.
"I didn't realize it until you said it. I mean… I knew there was something. I knew I loved you in the way of, I care about you a lot, I don't want you to die, I want you to be in my life… All that sort of stuff. But then you said it. And I realized… I mean, I knew it wasn't real or anything but it just... I- I realized then..."
She breaks off and his heart is pounding so hard he's sure she can hear it. He's almost vibrating with the need to hear her next words.
"I realized then that I was in love with you. And now… now everything just hurts and I need to keep some distance, for both our sakes. So I'm really sorry that it's upset you, but as you can probably see now, it's for the best. And I'm sure you agree that you probably should've listened to me before, and not forced me to say that, because things are just going to be really awkward now, which is the last thing I want, but it's kind of your fault, I was doing fine without saying anything, it was you who insisted and now…"
She stops talking with a startled gasp as he pulls her into his chest, one hand raising to her cheek, stroking the warm skin he finds, relishing in the feel of her softness against his roughened knuckles. And then, he's pulling her up his body until her toes barely brush the floor, ducking his head, and kissing her.
He kisses her because when she rambles he feels like everything's right in the world, when she smiles his heart skips a beat and he can't help but smile back, and when she cries he never knows which he wants more, to pick her up and comfort her until everything's better and she can't remember why she's sad, or to run around destroying everything that ever hurt her in the first place.
He kisses her because she's beautiful and she just told him she loves him. He kisses her because he missed her so much, even when she was right in front of him. He kisses her because she's his light, his salvation, his beacon of hope.
He kisses her because he loves her, and wishes he'd never made her doubt it.