Hey guys! Thank you SO much to everyone who reviewed! As usual, I should have answered to everyone who posted now, but I want to thank the guest reviewers too. You have no idea what your words do to me :) Without further ado: the last installment of that story! I hope it doesn't disappoint! And in case you are scared at one point — don't be. I promised a happy ending. I always deliver.
Of Love and Abandonment Issues
Oliver tells Diggle about Felicity's mother, their fight and his solution to move in together the day after, while they wait for Felicity to join them in the foundry. She's spent her night working on her presentation for a meeting that Oliver has set up to happen at the end of the week. He's as nervous as Felicity — more, even — but feels oddly content with the middle ground they've reached.
If Diggle sighs in compassion at the part about Felicity's mother, and winces once Oliver broaches the main issues their girl raised during the fight, he stares at his friend in utter wonder when Oliver mentions his solutions.
"What?" Oliver asks. "You think I made a mistake?"
"No!" Diggle counters quickly. "No, not at all. I'm impressed that you found non-sulky ways to deal with her insecurities. That's mature and trusting of you."
It doesn't escape Oliver that these are the exact same words and the exact same tone that Felicity used when he introduced the idea.
"What's with all the surprise?" Oliver grumbles.
Diggle raises his eyebrow dubiously.
"You spent more than a year pushing her away because things got too rough for you. Can't really blame her for not believing that you won't change your mind."
Oliver exhales guiltily and runs a hand through his hair.
"I know. I just can't believe she's so insecure. You should have heard her, Digg. Her dad never divorced her mom and started another family somewhere — she told her mom really calmly that she doesn't believe a guy would stay out of a legal commitment or a baby. I mean… Marriage and kids, what's more committing than that?"
Diggle's eyes widen in shock.
"You're not planning on proposing and knocking her up to make her believe you, are you?"
"What?!" Oliver yells. "No! God no. No. That'd be insane! And inefficient anyways, as I pointed out, since she doesn't believe in that. But if she also won't believe that I love her, how am I supposed to convince her that I'm staying?"
His friend's face falls in understanding, but even the wise John Diggle doesn't have any magic solution.
"Your way to go is working so far." He drops a comforting hand on his shoulder and presses it lightly. "Just hang in there, give her some time. Be patient."
They hear the beeping sounds of the code being entered and the door opens to let Felicity in. The moment is gone as fast as it came.
Felicity indeed convinces the board to go forward with the creation of a new IT Research and Development department. Oliver promises her that he will side with the majority on the topic and not weigh in the decision. The board spends the week studying her proposals and eventually votes that Felicity would be number two of the department, only ranked by another person that used to work for Wayne Industries.
Oliver expects a disappointed Felicity but she's over the moon at the idea of being heard by a group of hard-asses and granted the right to oversee a lot of things. The guy QC "stole" from Wayne Industries is a friend of hers from M.I.T, a friend that she vouched for during her presentation. Oliver feels jealousy seep in his chest immediately and is only relieved when Felicity casually mentions on their way back to her place later that night that Edward Raymond knows that she has a boyfriend. The day Oliver meets Edward though, he also learns that her friend is gay and he sees the glint of amusement in Felicity's eyes once he pieces everything together.
They find an apartment in a week — Oliver finds it, turns out he can be very efficient in the most mundane tasks when he has a motivating incentive — but Felicity refuses to move in there as long as the board hasn't made a final decision. She's scared that they find out she lives with Oliver and it influences the vote. Oliver doesn't remind her that they've thought they've been going at it for years because what good would that do? So he indulges her.
The day she hears the great news though, he finds her packing most of her stuff instead of going to the foundry. The blinding smile that she offers when she hears him walk through the door makes him feel like a sap. He's never thought such a ridiculous act could make him that happy.
They settle that same week-end in their apartment. The first thing Oliver does is put a ton of pictures everywhere on the walls. He can tell Felicity is moved when she gulps as she stops before each and every single picture and stares at them for the longest time.
There are some of just Felicity, of Oliver and his family but mainly it's Diggle, Roy, Oliver and her.
"You like those?" he asks shyly.
Felicity can only nod, and he sees it in her misty eyes. The three words. She doesn't say them out loud but he can feel that she's getting there.
That's all that matters, right?
It takes him a while to realize that Felicity's behavior has changed where they're concerned. She's more opened, more prone to PDA even when it's not only the two of them, and she definitely stopped all that "Mr Queen" shenanigan that turned him on so much. It's only two weeks after they've moved in together that Oliver registers the differences.
It's going to take a few months for the department to be settled in the floor below his, so for the time being Felicity stays Oliver's official E.A while recruiting her team and organizing the tasks that are most important. She's been slacking off a little bit in the keeping his schedule straight department but Oliver is honestly relieved because that means he has a good excuse to day-dream and slack off himself.
But that also means that he gets surprise guests. He's deep in a mass of contracts that he's been fake reading when one of those barges into his office.
"Your two pm is here," Felicity tells him in a clipped tone.
Oliver looks up and is shocked to see McKenna Hall stand in front of him, as beautiful as ever, all bright smile full of white teeth and seducing eyes. He knows immediately why she's here, and he takes in the way Felicity looks at his ex-girlfriend. Admiration. Sadness. He can already tell that she's comparing herself to the confident cop who walks into his office like she owns it.
"Thank you," she tells Felicity nicely.
Felicity gives her a tight-lipped smile but refuses to look at Oliver as she walks back to her desk and he feels like they've just taken fourteen steps down. He remembers the way she asked about Isabel three years ago. 'Why her? I mean, besides the leggy model reason'.
He really does have a type, doesn't he?
How can Felicity not see that she fits his "leggy model" type? She has even more than that. Add brains, snark, talent, humor and a feminine curvy body… He never really stood a chance, come to think of it.
Oliver decides he won't let Felicity hide behind her insecurities and use McKenna to nourish them. He presses the button for the com between Felicity's desk and his — the one he barely ever uses because Felicity muttered the first week that he was 'no Don Draper and it's not the freaking sixties and you better not ever call me sweetheart'. The point is for her to hear the whole exchange, and Oliver can tell that she's surprised when she startles upon hearing McKenna's voice in her office.
"Hey!" McKenna smiles at him.
"McKenna! How have you been?"
Felicity spins on her chair, eyes settling on him searchingly.
"Great! A year of rehab for the knee, two years up in Chicago with my sister but I really missed Starling City. Lance helped me out, wrote an amazing letter of recommendation so I would be transferred back here!"
"Awesome," Oliver lies.
It couldn't be worse news. McKenna is smart and relentless, there's an eighty-five percent chance that she might be on his Arrow back as soon as tomorrow.
"I was wondering if you wanted to grab a drink tomorrow night? Or maybe dinner? I want to catch up."
Oliver stays relaxed on the outside but inside wants to bang his head against a wall. Well, he can at least turn the thing around.
"I'll be glad to but full disclosure: I have a girlfriend."
He notices the way Felicity's eyebrows rise on her forehead, her lips spreading in a smirk. McKenna stops in her tracks but the happy smile doesn't disappear from her face.
"Huh. I'd heard the rumors, but I wasn't sure I believed them."
"Ha you know the drill," she waves off dismissively. "When Oliver Queen is only seen with one single girl everywhere he goes… Some very hot woman I bet, probably really smart if she managed to keep you in check?"
Oliver can't help the smile that brightens his face when he witnesses Felicity's reaction. It's a mix of amusement, delight and surprise.
"Hot and smart, yes, these would be two very fitting adjectives."
Again with the arched eyebrow from Felicity. Oliver finds himself shrugging, unapologetic. McKenna doesn't seem baffled at being rebuffed — if anything, she barks out a happy laugh.
"Look at you, all smitten," she teases. "Ah, I won't be one to tell you that you have bad taste. Bring her along then! The more the merrier!"
"I'll ask her, but she wants to keep our relationship a secret so don't take it personally if she says no."
Felicity's stare becomes venomous, like she resents him for saying it out loud. Okay so maybe he's pushing her a little bit, so what? He's still not saying who she is.
"Ha so she really is smart. Secret relationships are the best. Well, whatever, tell her I'm your ex, that'll make her want to come and meet me," McKenna smiles evilly.
Felicity crosses her arms over her chest, fully mocking him now.
"Oh she knows who you are don't worry," Oliver concedes. "I'm terrible at lying to her."
"Good for her. 'Cause you never really had trouble lying to my face."
He winces and sees Felicity do the same behind McKenna.
"Don't worry, I'm over it," she waves off again. "Otherwise, I wouldn't try to reconnect. In a platonic, friendly way obviously."
She hands him a card with her number on it as Felicity stands and steps inside his office decidedly.
"Hey," Oliver greets in surprise.
He doesn't know what to expect. Knowing Felicity, she won't get into McKenna's face and tear her apart. But she might also have gotten inside to make sure that his ex didn't come to rip him a new one about lying to her. Or maybe she's just come to bring him another folder full of boring contracts. One never knows with Felicity Smoak.
McKenna doesn't even look at her at first, but then Felicity comes to stand close to him and looks at his schedule on her tablet.
"We don't have anything planned tomorrow so dinner or drinks, you pick," she tells him, her eyes firmly planted in his.
There has to be a sparkle of happiness showing because he sees her blush heavily as McKenna connects the dots.
"Dinner would prevent us from going grocery shopping though because the fridge is empty," Felicity adds snidely.
Oliver almost snorts at the possessiveness behind her tone. In two sentences, she's managed to let McKenna know that she is the girlfriend Oliver was just talking up, that they make decisions as a couple and — most importantly — that they are living together.
It's the first time she's actively been possessive and shown something resembling jealousy in front of someone other than him since they've started dating. He shouldn't be proud of himself, but the truth is, he's beyond glad. So glad he wants to kiss her senseless and send his ex-girlfriend away.
"McKenna, this is Felicity Smoak, the hot and smart girlfriend I was just talking about."
Felicity's cheeks turn into that deep crimson color that Oliver likes so much. He doesn't even try to hide the huge smile that illuminates his face, while McKenna is looking at Felicity with an amused smirk that turns into a good-hearted laugh.
"You were the one setting up his internet at Verdant weren't you? Ha. I can't wait to hear that story," she spins on her high heels waving her left hand at him, and that's when he spots the diamond-shaped proof that she had no intention of rekindling their flame. "Dinner it is, Oliver. Felicity, a pleasure to meet you. I can't wait to introduce you to my very own fiancé. This should be a fun double date."
Once she's disappeared, Oliver spins Felicity in his arms and grins at her happily. She's still blushing and sort of looking away.
"Shut up," she chastises.
"I didn't say anything!" he smiles widely.
He kisses her deep, his fingers grasping at her waist, already looking for the zipper of her skirt. But Felicity steps away, tutting disapprovingly, the blush making a reappearance.
"But!" Oliver pouts.
"Oliver, no. That's the downside of being official — there's no sneaking around. People fully expect it."
He hadn't thought of that. Then he listens to her words and frowns.
"What do you mean 'people'? Who have you told?"
"No one really. Who goes around a company and tells people they're dating the CEO? I'm just not going out of my way to hide it I guess. I think Jared figured us out, he was making that face when you offered to move his department…"
"Who cares about Jared?" Oliver grumbles. He doesn't. "Are you sure you're okay with that double-date thing with McKenna?"
He wouldn't be so nice about it if Aaron came up and offered to introduce them to his new girlfriend. Fiancée. Who cares. Oliver would go nuts. But McKenna and him are a different story. They were barely serious.
"Yeah, don't worry. I pushed you to do some flirty-flirt with her four years ago, remember? Back when you put the fear of god into people."
"I still do!"
"Sure, honey," she coos, patting him on the cheek. "Try saying this to someone who hasn't seen you whining because of a runny nose and a cough."
But Oliver doesn't take the bait. It's the first time she's ever used a pet name for him. Sure it was to mess with him and mock him, but he takes it as a victory. Her walls are crumbling down, she's dropping her guard and he finds himself smiling in contentment.
"Why are you smiling?"
"Nothing. I'm happy, that's all."
And once again, he notices that he's said the right words. She blushes, smiles shyly at him and squeezes his hand once. As she walks out of his office, she bites her lips so much he barely hears her whisper.
"So am I."
A week later, Oliver discusses a mission where they have to infiltrate a charity gala with Diggle, Roy posing as a waiter and Felicity overseeing the operations safely from the foundry. He's surprised when he doesn't have to fight her on not going out on the field but doesn't comment on it on the sheer hope that the possibility somehow escaped her attention.
"So you just insert the tip into the hole," Felicity explains as they plan the whole thing out.
It shows how far they've gone that she doesn't even realize what she just said to him. Oliver hears Roy snigger, and notices that Diggle bites his lips but neither say anything and Oliver is glad, even if he would have loved to see Felicity blush and ramble.
"And that's enough? It'll install all the spyware automatically?"
Felicity grimaces. "Technically no, but even you should be able to install it. Their setup makes my eyes bleed."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Oliver jests. "So we'll get ready here on Friday 15th around five ten?"
Felicity suddenly jumps and gasps.
"Hold on a minute, it's not this Friday?"
"No, the one after," Diggle answers. "Why?"
Felicity's eyes slide to Oliver as she winces.
"You're going to be maaaad…"
Oliver feels his muscles tense in apprehension.
"What?" he can't help but bark out.
"I swear I didn't do it on purpose!" she pleads.
"What are you talking about? What did you do?"
He begins to panic. What the hell could she have done that would make him mad and freak her out? On a Friday? Did they have plans that they're going to have to cancel now? That doesn't make any sense!
"It was supposed to be a surprise! That's why I don't do surprises. Actually no, that's not true I love surprising people…"
"Felicity! What are you talking about?"
"That's the Give Back To The Glades charity gala next Friday that you are infiltrating? Honestly, it's not my fault, you attend so many of those I lose track of them, it's not like you can blame me."
"Felicity!" Oliver has to cut once more, losing his patience now. "What did you do?"
Felicity flinches and winces, then sighs in despair as she rummages through her purse. After a few horrible seconds, she extracts a folder that she holds out to him with an apologetic face.
"What is that?"
What the hell? Oliver frowns, opening the manila folder curiously. He finds the printed invitation for the party with his name on it and Felicity's, then two impressive files that look like a contract, stamped with the Human Resources department logo. It doesn't click immediately. It's only when he hears Diggle's short laugh that everything suddenly comes together.
"You put yourself as my plus one? For the gala?"
"It was supposed to be a surprise," she grumbles and it sounds like a whine. "I promise I didn't expect it to turn out to be a Green Arrow mission. I already RSVPed, technically — that party planner was such a pain in my butt, I swear — but I can call them back and change the list. Or better yet, I can change it myself by infiltrating their…"
She's already turning her seat to face her computer, and Oliver can feel Diggle's insistent stare on the back of his neck. Thank god Roy knows better than to open his mouth though. Suddenly Diggle decides it's time for Roy's training, leaving Oliver somewhat alone with his girlfriend.
Oliver grabs the chair's armrest to pull her back in front of him and smiles. Felicity's is a little shy and lopsided, like she honestly expects him to be mad at her for giving him what he wants. Their timing couldn't suck more though. She's finally ready to come out and make them official as a couple and he has to consider putting a damper on things because he can't handle putting her in harm's way.
And that's when he suddenly realizes that she will have to attend every single one of these events on his arm and he won't exactly be able to find reasons for her not to show. Granted, he doesn't infiltrate or conduct Arrow business at every gala or charity thing that he attends. But the few ones that he does infiltrate? How is he going to find ways to keep Felicity out of them?
He's so screwed.
But Oliver decides that they'll find such answers at a later date. Right now, Felicity has tried to do something nice and looks like she regrets it and Oliver knows he can't let her back down.
"Let's get one thing clear: had we not discovered that this charity is a complete fraud, I would have gladly, scratch that, happily taken you there as my plus one. I'm not one for surprises, but this one… I would have loved that one."
Felicity's smile spreads at his soft tone, prompting him to continue.
"As for the HR papers… I can't believe I didn't think of that."
Felicity looks away shyly and mutters.
"I had that whole thing planned. You would have been whiny about going to the charity alone because you can be such a baby about it, and I'd have pretended to relent and traded that you read these" she pointed at the papers in the folder, "as I prepared…"
Oliver blinks, finding himself at a loss for a second.
"It's scary how well you know me."
Felicity shrugs one shoulder.
"You know, I think that lady from HR was so relieved when I walked in and asked for these papers. It was like she started breathing again. I think she's been terrified that I'd sue QC for sexual harassment all this time…"
"Ha, we can't really afford that now can we? What does that say exactly?"
"Technically, that we're in a relationship, and that we're both consenting adults and that we promise that there won't be any nepotism or whatever because you're my boss. We're basically warning them that whatever happens between the two of us, we'll leave QC out of it. Your lawyers are going to want to check it, but you can read it over later at home."
Yeah, like he doesn't read enough contracts at work already — and screw his lawyers, they're only going to make Felicity feel worse when she's making so much progress. He picks up the first pen that he finds and signs the papers off at the bottom of each page without a second thought.
"You know the last time you did that you basically gave away your company, right?" Felicity mocks.
He looks up, amused.
"Here's an idea."
"Oh hell no. I'd much rather be a low-ranking employee than the CEO of Queen Consolidated. Huh. Actually, it'd be Smoak Consolidated then."
"See? You can already see yourself there. I'll be your trophy boyfriend. And sorry to break it to you, but when you're the second in command of a entire department you can't exactly consider yourself a low-ranking employee anymore."
Felicity snorts and takes the papers from his hands. She bites her lips as she stares at their two names side by side like she can't really believe it.
"Like what you see?" he can't help but ask.
She smiles timidly and half-shrugs like she doesn't care, but Oliver knows that it's not true.
"Look, about the charity thing and you being my plus one… I don't really want our first outing as an official couple to be Arrow-related."
"Why not?" Felicity frowns. "I mean, that's how we met in the first place, isn't it fitting?"
"Because I'll be worried about your safety, and I'm a jealous asshole remember? I want to stay by your side and show you off all night. No way am I letting you dance with other men this time."
Felicity rolls her eyes and laughs.
"Bruce won't be there to rile you up you know."
"Oh so it's Bruce now?"
She rolls her eyes again and stands up to grab his waist and tilt her head on the side.
"Okay, I get it. I'll hack myself away and won't come along."
It sounds way too good to be true.
"I smell a trap."
"It's not one! Look, you've been humoring me with my insecurities and you're really patient with me. The least I can do is humor you with your fears and pick my battles. I was too nervous to show up to that thing anyway, so really it's good that you're saying no."
"You don't have anything to be nervous about," he sighs.
"Oliver, you're going to go from introducing me as your assistant to your girlfriend. You know how that sounds…"
"No, you'll be number two of the ITRD department by then."
"People will think that you created the position for me."
And again with the possible innuendo that doesn't register on her mind. Man he really liked it when she muttered even worse apologies…
"Screw people. We know better. You don't have anything to prove to them. Let them underestimate you — it's their mistake."
She smiles and kisses him quickly, taking the HR papers and putting them back into her purse.
"Should I hand them out tomorrow or do you want to hold on to them?" she asks after a wondering pause.
Oliver wants to shake his head — and Felicity at the same time. Honestly, how many outs does she plan on giving him?
"You know what? I'll give them out myself. Just to see that relieved look you told me so much about."
"You just want to scare them shitless so they don't comment," Felicity smirks knowingly.
Oliver doesn't answer, settling for a non-committal waggle of his eyebrows as Felicity laughs. And once again, he sees the light in her eyes. He's going to get her there.
Turns out, Oliver is not ready to hear these three little words at any cost. They've never spoken about his fears again, and how she doesn't trust him not to freak if she gets hurt because of her involvement with Green Arrow, or the risks that she takes to lose herself in that quest — what if she has to kill to survive? He can't even think of it.
Once again, it turns out life has other plans.
Over a year ago, Oliver realized that he could lose Felicity to something other than his quest — to a person, to a normal life that he thought she might have wanted. He finally understood that because of the life that he leads, she's exactly the person that he needs to be with.
Life decides to teach him that he can't take what he has for granted and that it has other ways to take Felicity away from him if it really wants to.
Felicity has now lunch with her team in the cafeteria two days a week, in order to have a cohesive group. Oliver thinks it's a good idea even if he wishes he could keep her with him at all times — it's difficult enough contemplating the fact that he'll have to adapt and look at another EA in a few weeks.
Sometimes, she convinces him to do the same — invite the other heads of departments over at the restaurant or at the cafeteria to make them show that they are interested in their employees.
Oliver hates the cafeteria. It's noisy, it's filled with people who stare at him and no one thinks it's normal for him to be there — and he doesn't blame them. Felicity always looks like she belongs. Even with her beautiful designer dresses and high heels, she fits in with her team of nerdy geeks as well as she does in the conference room when she has to stare down and talk in front of the board and other heads of departments.
Oliver is meeting with Felicity's potential replacement — a gorgeous woman that stares at him with googly eyes and tells him that she really looks forward to working with Oliver — when Diggle calls. Honestly, Oliver is so relieved to have a reason to cut the interview short that he would have picked up even without checking the caller I.D.
"I'm sorry, but it's my head of security. Felicity will call you when we've made a decision."
The poor girl looks a little disappointed as Oliver isolates himself in the conference room.
"Don't freak," John tells him in an even tone that unsettles Oliver.
He's heard that voice. It's the one that means something bad is happening. Something heavy drops in his stomach immediately.
"What happened?" he asks with dread, already walking towards the executive elevator.
"There's a mad man with a gun that has already shot three security men in the hall and is looking for his girlfriend, Kelsey Morell. She apparently dumped him last week."
Oliver's dread is replaced by pure anger as he presses the button to call the elevator. But it doesn't even light. Grunting, he understands that security must have cut these access and heads in the direction of the stairs.
"What? How has he not already been taken down?"
And who the fuck is Kelsey Morell?
"He has roped himself with explosives and is planning on blowing himself off if he doesn't get what he wants. The cops have alerted the bomb squad — it should be there soon."
"Where is he now?"
And he knows before Diggle tells him. Of course he knows. Because life is a bitch and there's just no way he can be happy without something screwing it up.
"He's locked himself in the cafeteria along with fifty other QC employees."
"Felicity…" Oliver gurgles in absolute fear.
"…is alive, staying seated like he asked and not looking for trouble. I'm looking at her through the monitor right outside the room as we speak. Oliver…"
"Your next words better not be that I should stay where I am."
He hears Diggle's shaky sigh in his ear, as his feet skip many steps in order to get down to the seventh floor more efficiently.
"She's going to be okay. QC can't risk having you in danger. If he blows himself off…"
"How the fuck did he get past security?" Oliver roars, not hearing Diggle because the possibility of that asshole detonating the bomb and killing Felicity — he doesn't even care about the other employees at that point — makes him sick to his stomach.
"I told you, he shot the security agents and walked straight to the cafeteria. Most people in the lobby ran when he pulled the trigger. The building is being evacuated as we speak."
Oliver keeps jumping the steps, looking at the numbers on the wall change as he does. Sixteenth floor, fifteenth floor, fourteenth floor… When he reaches the thirteenth floor he is overwhelmed with the shouts of people running down the stairs in worry, whispering questions and beginning to panic. He can't go as fast anymore and the frustration rises in his chest as he has to slow down.
"You're on the seventh floor?" he asks as calmly as possible.
"Yes. Behind the corner in the hallway, not right behind the doors."
"And you're looking at her?"
"Edward has linked the video camera from the cafeteria to a few monitors that we brought down when we realized that he'd locked himself in the cafeteria. She's fine, Oliver."
"What does that asshole want?"
Oliver wishes it was nighttime and not at QC. He could suit up as Green Arrow and solve that problem in a second without even having to kill the guy. Just like he did with the Dodger, one single arrow in the man's wrist and there's no more risk for anyone.
"His girlfriend, and the possibility to leave after."
"Well where is she?"
He reaches the tenth floor, zigzagging between people, pushing them out of his way as he keeps flying down the stairs as fast as he can. Only three left. He hears Diggle sigh once more, and Oliver knows he is not going to like the answer.
"She took a sick day."
"What?" Oliver yells. "She's not even here?"
"We've sent someone to get her and bring her here, but it's risky. We don't know how powerful his bomb is and we can't really see anything with the doors closed but it looks like C4."
Oliver tries to recall the design of the cafeteria. It has many windows, which means that the police will try to call for snipers and have them settle in the building across the street to shoot him down… Oliver tries to reason that they'll only do it if they're sure it won't detonate the bomb at the same time but deep down he's not fully convinced.
He eventually reaches the seventh floor and opens the door forcefully, walking nervously in the direction of the main hallway. He finds Diggle, Edward Raymond and a few other security people standing in front of monitors, biting their nails. Oliver hangs up and heads towards his friend.
"Can we talk to him?"
"Oliver," Diggle says, stepping between the monitors and him.
That's when he hears her voice, a little unsteady but still firm.
"I'm sure she's on her way right now but you should anticipate, Marcus."
Oliver feels his eyes bug out of his face; anger, dread, and gut-wrenching fear all melt into something nasty that makes his head swirl and his limbs feel numb.
"You said she was going to be fine," he grounds out.
"And she is. She was on the phone with Edward when the guy barged in. She didn't hang up, and she's doing great, talking him down."
"You said she wasn't looking for trouble, Digg! How is her talking that mad man down not looking for trouble?"
Diggle tries to put his hand on his shoulder but Oliver doesn't let him. He pushes his friend away and sees Felicity seated like Diggle described, hands on the table, looking straight at the skinny disheveled man who is literally surrounded by C4. He's clinging at some detonator with a shaky hand that won't stop trembling, while his other one holds steadily onto a gun as he looks everywhere around him and stays far from the windows.
Oliver's fists clench and unclench with every frantic heartbeat as a lump obstructs his throat.
"Listen to me Marcus, anticipate," Felicity keeps saying. "Free some people, as a sign of good faith right now, before the police arrive. It'll prove that you don't want to hurt anyone."
Oliver looks over the room from varying angles and tries to count the people seated on the tables. There's over fifty of them, from numerous different departments and positions. Most of them are either crying or looking down on the floor, praying for mercy.
"I need leverage," Marcus says, his eyes roaming frenziedly over the room, never settling on anything for more than a second. "I need leverage so she can hear me out. She was supposed to be here. She's dating someone here, and she has lunch with him every day I know."
"Okay, okay. Just… Please, at least the interns. They're young — let the interns go."
Marcus's eyes drop on Felicity and he doesn't blink for a long moment as he thinks her proposition over.
"How many interns are there here?"
Lance barges into the hallway, an impressive number of medics and the swat team in tow as Diggle begins to explain what has been going on. If Oliver had bothered to look away from the monitor, he would have seen Lance's torn up reaction upon hearing that Felicity is the one negotiating with the mad man. But Oliver's attention is stuck on his girlfriend as he witnesses four kids stand up on wobbly legs and walk slowly in the direction of the exit.
"You open the door. Don't think about leaving or I'll shoot you."
Felicity nods in consent and stands to let the kids go. Oliver finds himself turning the corner to face the exit, Lance following him immediately with a few officers to recover the interns.
It lasts a second as the kids run through the barely open door, but he knows Felicity is looking for him. He stares at her pleadingly, begging her to escape, to be safe, to do everything in her power not to get hurt. He scarcely has time to see the fear in her eyes before the door closes down.
"No!" Diggle and Felicity yell at the same time.
Oliver doesn't have time to move before he hears a gun shot that makes the walls vibrate. His heart stops immediately.
"I said just the interns!" Marcus screams
"No!" Felicity repeats.
He hears Lance curse and sees him wipe a hand over his face.
"What an idiot!"
When Oliver finds the strength to run back to the monitors, he sees Felicity on the ground, face and dress covered in splutters of blood, next to a man laying on the floor. Oliver stops breathing for a second then registers that she's applying pressure on the man's chest with quickly reddening hands. He understands that he must have tried to run for the hills, only to be stopped. It doesn't escape him that Marcus the Mad Man has excellent aim.
"I warned everyone," Marcus says shakily. "I said I would shoot people if they tried to escape. No more good faith."
Oliver sees Felicity gulp but nod. His own head is swimming with disgust, anger and pure relief.
"I want Kelsey now," Marcus states.
"The police are outside," Felicity articulates, and Oliver hears the tears of anger in her voice. "I'm sure Kelsey will be here soon."
"She better be. Or I'll kill someone every ten minutes until she is."
Marcus yells in the direction of the phone and Oliver realizes that he knows someone has been listening to the conversation the whole time. Felicity clenches her jaw but says nothing, and that's when Detective Lance unmutes Edward's phone and begins to talk to the man.
"Marcus Hendricks?" he says with a steady voice. "We heard you. I can guarantee you right now that Kelsey is on her way."
That's when Oliver notices that Diggle is on the phone with her, explaining the situation. He hears her teary voice respond that her boyfriend is an engineer suffering from a bipolar disorder and hasn't been taking his medication. With every word, Oliver feels his strength disappear as he comprehends that the chances of this man staying stable are slim to none.
Oliver also realizes that he's not in charge of the situation. At all. He's so used to being the leader, ordering around and making decisions and there he is, CEO of a multinational company, forcing his way into something he has no right to be privy to, being a useless tool. He's just staring in anguish at the monitor, praying that nothing happens to Felicity while Diggle reacts for him.
Since Lian-Yu, this has never happened to him. He has always known what to do, or at least fucking reacted — out of fear, to survive, to protect.
"She better be here in less than ten minutes otherwise I'll shoot her," Marcus says, designating the woman closest to him, a forty-year old looking lady that Oliver has never seen before.
"She's stuck in traffic, Marcus, please hold on, I promise you'll talk to her. We can make her talk to you through the phone right now."
"No. Face to face or I'll blow myself off."
Then Marcus does the last thing Oliver expects and hangs up. As the sound disappears, a buzzing white noise fills Oliver's ears. He can just see Felicity's lips move, but he can't know what she's saying and he finds himself wishing angrily that she'd shut up and lay low.
Can't she fucking lay low for once?
"She's going to be fine," Lance mutters, his hand on Oliver's shoulder.
But Oliver hears the worry in his voice and he can't believe the words. One of the men from the SWAT team informs Lance that the bomb squad is close and that the snipers are in place and waiting for Marcus to make a mistake.
"Where is she? Where's the girlfriend?" Lance asks.
Diggle shakes his head. "She'll be there in fifteen."
Oliver starts pacing in the hallway, his eyes incapable of leaving the monitors. He sees the life drain from the man quickly, and he witnesses Felicity plead with Marcus for something — probably letting him go with the medics — but Marcus shakes his head mercilessly again and again.
After five minutes, Felicity drops her head in defeat and sinks down, her back against the door. She's not pressuring anything anymore, and Oliver gulps because that can only mean one thing.
"Shit," Lance curses. "Who was he?"
But Oliver shakes his head, focusing on Felicity's trembling red hands and she wipes her face, spreading blood on her cheek and under her eyes to wipe the tears that are falling.
Oliver has never felt as helpless as he does right now. Even when Ivo threatened to shoot Shado and Sara, even when Slade did the same with Thea and his mother, he felt like he could physically act, or scream, or volunteer in their stead.
Right now there is literally nothing he can do. He can't be Green Arrow, he can't trade himself with Felicity because he knows no one will let him, he can't speak his way out of that situation, he can't offer money to a person that crazy because it's obvious he won't give a flying fuck about being richer.
The only thing Oliver can do is stare at the screen that displays the scene from four different angles and hope against hope that that Marcus guy makes a mistake or decides that he can release his hostages.
Oliver twists the problem in his head every way he can. There's no way this is going to end well. None. Even if Kelsey gets there, she will probably not want to face her ex boyfriend and risk her life for a bunch of coworkers that she barely even knows. And even if she is brave enough to face him, she can't do anything to prevent that nutcase from blowing himself off.
After ten minutes, Marcus calls back and asks if Kelsey is around. Lance lies and tells him she's walking up the stairs because they have shut down the elevators, and it almost works. Marcus ponders for a moment, then he makes the woman stand in front of him. He sees Felicity stand up at the same time and walk towards him, her hands raised before her as she talks to him.
Oliver closes his eyes because of course she's going to try to save the woman. She won't let things just happen, she's going to do everything in her power to help because he knows that she'll feel like she killed these people if she doesn't at least try.
"Where is she?" Lance asks Diggle.
"She's in the lobby," he whispers.
Lance calls Marcus back and he stalls for a moment, as the security team reactivates the elevators. Within a minute, a petite redhead with curly hair and deep brown eyes steps out. She really looks sick and feverish, her eyes a little out of focus.
Oliver walks in her direction, but he doesn't really know what for. What is he going to do? Blame her for her poor choice in men and her untimely sickness? None of this is her fault.
"She's here, Marcus, she's here, don't shoot," Lance pleads in the phone.
Everyone watches as the man freezes.
"I'm so sorry, I am so so sorry, please I didn't know he would do that," Kelsey sobs.
"It's okay, we know that. It's not what matters right now," Diggle whispers. "He's going to want to talk to you to prove that you're really here, and then he'll want to see you."
She begins to shake her head in raw terror.
"I can't! I can't! Please…"
Oliver knows he shouldn't blame her. He repeats in his head that it's not her fault. That she couldn't know. That any normal human being would not volunteer to go talk to a nutjob wearing a belt of C4 and carrying a gun. That if she steps in, there's ninety percent chance of him pushing that damn button anyway.
But he sees Felicity standing, drenched in blood that isn't hers, as she tries to calm somebody else's ex-boyfriend; Felicity whose only mistake was to eat in the freaking cafeteria in order to be a good manager; Felicity who would have volunteered without a second thought and he comes close to ripping that idiot woman apart.
His hands fly to his hair, running through it in complete fear. He can't lose her. He didn't lose her to Aaron, he didn't lose her when she pushed him away, he's always been her choice. She's always been worried that he'd leave her because of his fear that something Arrow related comes between them, that something will make him leave because it's too hard.
Oliver can't believe that once again, he's underestimated life. There are so many ways life can come between them, he doesn't even know how to process that, because he's not prepared. He's done everything right this time. He's listened to her, to her fears. He's told her he loves her, he hasn't let her go when things got rough… He can't lose her when he did everything right. Not now. He has barely had time to enjoy what being happy means. Life can't possibly rip it away now, can it?
Pure rage fills him as the thoughts spin in his mind. Why can't he do anything? Why is he so powerless when he has the world at his feet? He feels himself spiraling as he hears Diggle managing to calm Kelsey a little before Lance hands her the cellphone.
"Marcus? Marcus please, stop this now. Please. Before anyone else gets hurt."
"I can't, Kels, I can't."
The rest of the conversation is a bunch of nonsense and pleads of forgiveness, and soon enough the woman that Marcus was threatening to shoot slides back into her chair, her body wrecking with terrified sobs. Felicity has stopped moving, standing perfectly still as Marcus keeps speaking into the phone.
"I want to see you," he tells Kelsey. "I want you to come in here."
Kelsey tenses and starts crying again, but Oliver finds himself unmoved by her fear. He'll feel terrible about it later. Lance tries to look for a loophole, as Kelsey's lips wobble.
"I don't want to go," she barely gets out.
"I want you to show me who your new boyfriend is. I know he's here with us."
And then Felicity's voice interrupts his rant.
"I know who it is. Let everyone go, and I'll tell you who it is."
Oliver freezes. How can she know that? How the hell does she know who random people in the company are sleeping with? Oliver notices in the corner a man shrinking on himself, but Marcus is too focused on Felicity to notice anything.
"What? How do you know?"
"I've become good friends with Kelsey after the break up — she was really sad about it," Felicity lies. "She's kind-hearted and she told me she felt bad for leaving you and that she wanted to get back together with you but that man wouldn't leave her alone. Does that sound right?"
Kelsey looks in absolute terror at Diggle, Lance and Oliver and they all know that not a single word that have left Felicity's mouth is true.
"You're here to save her, we all know that," she keeps on going. "Save her from that new guy, save her from herself…"
Oliver is so thankful that she doesn't walk towards him, closer to the bomb. His heart is in his mouth because if Marcus realizes that everything is wrong, they're done. But as usual, Felicity has found the perfect words and used her compassion to soothe his pain, and Marcus nods in approval.
"That's what I thought. Where is he?"
"Let everyone go and I'll tell you. Start with the women if you want."
The medics run to the hallway as Marcus mulls the idea over and eventually nods.
"You stay though," he insists, setting Oliver's nerves on fire. "And Kelsey comes in."
"No," Felicity answers before Lance can get a word out. "No, Kelsey comes in after I tell you who the man is. Not a second before."
All the women have stood up and they usher out of the room as quickly as possible. None of them look at the dead body on the floor, too relieved to get out of there alive. The medics catch all of them and run downstairs. Felicity manages to get Marcus to let most men go — the man Kelsey is having a relationship with is in that group, to Kelsey's surprise.
Oliver's heart stops because he understands what Felicity's plan is and there are so many possibilities of it backfiring it can't possibly work.
"Who is it? You better not be lying to me!" Marcus yells.
"He's still here. Please let everyone go."
When only two men are left in the room with her and Marcus, the crazed bomber begins to pace angrily and Oliver notices the tension that inhabits Felicity.
"WHO IS IT?"
She knows she can't hold it off any longer and points at the dead man on the floor.
"It was him," she lies. "You've already killed him. Please let everyone go."
That's when the bomb squad makes its arrival. They talk quickly with Lance before demanding that they evacuate the building immediately. Marcus looks like he's losing it, hesitating between thinking that he's being played — which he is — and believing Felicity.
He gets lost in a crazed ramble that is barely coherent and keeps on escalating, turning into a complete nonsense of anger.
Oliver feels someone take hold of his shoulder but he pushes them off, hypnotized by the scene on display through the monitor, unable to process something other than the thought that this is not going to end well.
"I am not leaving," he grunts.
"If you're not leaving, I'm not leaving," she'd told him the night of the undertaking.
"Mr Queen, this is not a request. The bomb does not seem as powerful as he makes it look like, but there are serious risks that the building might fall down. There will be no one in that building if Marcus Hendricks decides to detonate that bomb."
In the cafeteria, Felicity is slowly stepping back, sensing that her hold on Marcus is slipping away.
"I'm not leaving," Oliver repeats, his heart in his mouth.
He's going to vomit.
Lance tries to tug him away as everyone obeys and evacuates the scene but Oliver stays rooted in his spot. He can't tear his eyes away from the screen. This is not going to end well, he can't help but repeat in his head. This is not going to end well. Kelsey has gone back downstairs, saving herself and all hope disappears into thin air when Oliver sees Marcus roar in rage, raise his gun and aim in the general direction of the three people that are left with him.
"No," Diggle breathes out.
Oliver's lungs stop working altogether.
Marcus shoots one man in the leg, the second one in the hip and Oliver sees as Felicity runs in the direction of the door.
She's saving herself. For once, she's saving herself.
Oliver doesn't think, doesn't wait, he rushes through the hall, pushing everyone away from him, ready to grab Felicity and make a run for it.
"QUEEN NO!" somebody shouts behind him.
"OLIVER!" Diggle screams at the same time.
That's when the explosion blasts everything. Oliver feels the ground shake beneath his feet and the walls crumble and vibrate violently around him as the big white doors burst open and debris fly around.
He shrinks, unable to move for a few seconds, his ears ringing, his head swimming, his gut churning. He has to cough and blink the ashes, dust and blood away but as soon as he catches his breath, he forces himself to stand and yells.
Oliver knows there's a good chance the building might fall apart, but he can't bring himself to care. The blast was big enough to destroy the cafeteria, but the hall is still okay. He walks towards the devastated room without thinking as he tries to disperse the smoke away with his hand.
"FELICITY!" he shouts again, but he can't hear anything over the buzzing noise that fills his head.
When he reaches the perimeter that has exploded, Oliver barely sees the blood and pieces of gut that are spread all over the concrete and debris of tables, chairs and other random objects. He's too focused on looking for Felicity's long blond hair, Felicity's bright green dress, Felicity's sparkly purple-colored nails.
Eventually, he hears a cough and he finds her under a broken table that he has no trouble moving.
"Felicity!" he repeats uselessly.
"Oliver," she whispers.
She's covered in blood and dust, it all blends together in some disgusting mixture that tames the kaleidoscope that she is. There is a gashing wound on her head that bleeds an awful lot, and she doesn't really move when he kneels close to her. Oliver can tell that she's in shock.
"Shh, shh, don't speak."
"Oliver," she repeats as she blinks. "I didn't… I didn't look for trouble."
He bends over to try to carry her as Diggle joins them, but he sees that her ankle is not entirely following her body. It's completely broken and Oliver is scared to death when Felicity doesn't even flinch from the pain that she should be feeling.
"I know," he says. "It's okay."
He repeats it over and over, and he knows Felicity doesn't hear it, that he's repeating it as a mantra because he wants to convince himself. The medics have all left the building and are waiting seven floors below. The bomb squad is dispersing to search for the other two men that Oliver has completely forgotten about, and he looks at Diggle in alarm.
What is he supposed to do?
Felicity has her hands gathered on her left side, prompting Oliver to notice that an enormous piece of glass has penetrated the skin right above her hip. She has trouble breathing but she's staring at him in absolute terror.
"I haven't said it back," she utters weakly.
"What?" he says, caressing her hair with trembling hands, deciding that it's better not to move her at all.
He turns to Digg who rushes away to look for anyone who works for a hospital.
Felicity has difficulty gulping, and she keeps blinking, refusing to break eye contact as if scared that he might disappear. She's gripping his forearm with surprising strength, spreading barely dry blood all over his shirt and skin. He doesn't even know if she's fully conscious right now or if it's just adrenaline rushing through her veins, trauma making her body react on instinct.
"I haven't said it back," she repeats, and Oliver understands what she's talking about.
She's talking about the I love you that he's been waiting for so long.
"I don't care. You'll tell me later."
She better not tell him that she loves him because she thinks she's going to die. This is the lamest cliché, the most overused trope and he's not going to let her do it. He deserves better. She owes him a better I love you than a dying one.
"No," she stammers, and Oliver can tell it's getting tougher for her to keep her eyes open. "I can tell you now."
"Don't you dare," he articulates, his throat tight. "Felicity, don't you dare tell me now. You'll tell me tomorrow. And the day after that."
She blinks harder.
"But what if I die?" she asks.
There's something misty prickling Oliver's eyes and he realizes when he gulps that it's tears.
"You're not going to die. You've never left me before. You better not start now."
Felicity smiles and closes her eyes.
"Okay," she slurs. "I won't."
"Felicity," he calls when she doesn't blink them open again. "Felicity, wake up. Wake up. Felicity…"
Oliver pleads again and again, but that day, Felicity doesn't wake up.
She stays true to her promise, as usual. She doesn't die, doesn't leave him. She wakes up the next evening, after eleven hours of surgery to fix her ankle and stitch an internal bleeding where the glass was stuck. She doesn't go into cardiac arrest, doesn't need to be put into a coma, she just rests for an entire day while Oliver, Diggle, Thea and Roy pace around the room and wait for her to open her eyes in complete worry.
She doesn't remember much of the hostage crisis, much less what happened after the explosion because of the trauma and concussion — which fills Oliver with relief. When he tells her that she won't be able to walk for six good months, Felicity shrugs and comments that at least she can wear her panda flats again.
"And let's be positive! There is a silver lining to this!"
"There is?" Diggle deadpans.
"I mean, it's more for Oliver than for me really, 'cause I'm now officially stuck at the foundry. No more field work for that lady!" she points both her thumbs in her direction, eliciting a dry laugh from Diggle and a shy grin from Oliver. "Kidding, I'm no lady."
He doesn't tell her that he'd trade anything for never having to live such a terrible situation ever again. It might give her ideas.
Felicity comes out of the hospital a week later. She turns out to be such a pain about doing nothing that after three days, Oliver, Diggle and Roy are forced to move most of the computer set up out of the foundry and into Oliver and Felicity's apartment. Only then does she stop pestering everyone and making everybody's life a complete hell.
Oliver had never known she could be so insufferable.
QC is shut down for two weeks for construction and the investigation. After that, it's proven that the building won't fall apart and they reopen floor by floor, moving people around if need be. It's Oliver's turn to be a pain when he has to go back to work and hire and new executive assistant. He settles for an older woman in her late forties that reminds him a little bit of Raisa back when he was a kid. Felicity approves whole-heartedly, and he knows that she was worried about him hiring that very hot and eager secretary that had an impressive resume and as impressive cleavage.
Raisa 2.0 is awesome. She actually makes him coffee, she never complains, she keeps his schedule open enough that he can slack off easily (and take extra long lunch breaks) but busy enough that he doesn't see the day go by. She's very discreet, doesn't try to engage that much and has the best cover up stories when he doesn't show up at a meeting but Oliver doesn't tell any of that to Felicity.
He does tell her that he can't get used to the new view though. He tells her how much he regrets that the wall is made of glass now that he doesn't have his girlfriend to stare at. It gets him a fond "awww" from Felicity and he adds points to his 'best boyfriend of the year' score (he's winning against himself).
The night after when he gets home he is surprised by the delicious smell of something cooking. The couch is empty, and Felicity is not seated behind her new desk full of computers screens. He looks for her in the kitchen but she's not there either, and he has the good idea to turn off the oven before the food burns. He's getting worried because Felicity is not supposed to be standing, really.
She is not supposed to put her foot down and is supposed to use crutches but she hates them because she always stumbles on them and almost falls off every time she has tried to walk with them.
He spots the dinner table dressed with candles. In the eight months they've been dating, and the four months they have been living together, Felicity has never once made him dinner. Oliver frowns, thinking back in panic, but it's not their anniversary, he's positive it's nobody's birthday, and oh god has he forgotten something?
"Oh nooo! You're home!"
He looks up and sees Felicity's disappointed face through the door that leads to their bedroom. Oliver arches an eyebrow.
"Oh honey you always say the sweetest things," he snarks.
"I'm sorry," she sighs as she opens the door fully and reveals a breathtaking set of dark green lingerie under a silky, very transparent nightgown. "I really suck at surprises…"
Oliver's mouth dries and he has to blink repeatedly before he can utter his next sentence.
"You look like you're doing fine to me…"
"You try putting on tight underwear when you're wearing a cast!" Felicity throws as she tries to keep her balance by holding herself against the doorframe. "It's hard to be sexy when you have a huge heavy thing that drags you down and you can't wear heels. Trust me, I tried, and I'm really glad that no one was there to witness it because if that wasn't the definition of pathetic I don't know what is…"
He shakes his head, hesitating between amusement and full on arousal.
"You're always sexy."
Felicity gives him a dubious side eye and snorts.
"Yeah right. You have to say that, you're my boyfriend," she deflects, and sighs again. "I just wanted to set the mood…"
He walks towards her and doesn't wait before he snakes his arms around her waist as she grumbles that last sentence.
"Felicity, I'm a guy. You don't have to set the mood. The mood is always set, trust me on that one."
He feels Felicity tense and her face can't hide a certain shyness that worries him.
"I… You're not just saying that?"
"What are you talking about?" he asks, brushing her loose hair behind her shoulder, his fingers reveling in its softness.
"Well… I mean, I don't know, you haven't exactly tried anything since the incident. It has been a while and there's usually no 'while' with you if you get my drift, and okay no way we could have done it at the hospital because, ew, huge turn off and don't get me started on stitches, but…"
It's the way she avoids his eyes. She's confronting him, opening up but not exactly telling him what's wrong either. He has to piece stuff together and he can't fathom what she's implying.
"Hold on, you think I'm not attracted to you anymore? Because we haven't had sex in over two weeks?"
"Three weeks and four days, but who's counting?" she mutters under her breath.
He blinks at her, shocked and sad that she can still imagine that he will lose interest in her. He doesn't even know where to start, at that point. It feels like a losing battle.
"You were practically blown apart and almost died in my arms, Felicity. It took a toll on me as much as it took a toll on you. And I didn't want you to feel pressured into anything you might not have felt ready for. Me, not jumping your bones the moment you came out of the hospital? That was me trying to be respectful and sensitive."
"I mean, I totally appreciate the effort," he says, his eyes roaming over her body hungrily, taking in and appreciating the greenness of everything, from her short earrings down to her nail polish. "You… man do I appreciate the effort. But you don't need that to get my attention. Believe me."
She smiles shyly, her eyes glinting with that same light that he has seen growing in the past months. He finds himself grinning back, his hips chasing hers as she bites her lips.
"Okay," she breathes out.
"Good," he says, punctuating the word with a trail of kisses down her neck. He feels her giggle and respond immediately to him — and god had he missed that. "Because now that you went through all this trouble though, it would be a complete shame to let it go to waste."
Being respectful and sensitive was easy at first when he was scared to death that she wouldn't make it but now that she's obviously fine and apparently horny, Oliver is really, really glad that she has taken matters into her own hands.
Felicity tilts her head aside to give him more room as he presses her against the wall between the living-room and their bedroom, her hand plunging in his hair while the other pulls his shirt out of his pants.
"Here, here," she mutters.
"I mean, you cooked," Oliver insists, leaning back to stare at the flimsy sexy gown that wraps her frame. He sort of forgets what he was talking about for a second, trying to figure out where to start because the sight of her wearing his color turns him on so much it's becoming very creepy. "I didn't even know you could."
She cups his jaw and makes him look at her in the eyes. His hands take a life of their own and brush her sides through the fabric, each brush eliciting new shivers that make Felicity's voice waver a little bit.
"Oh I definitely can't. 'Spent my years at MIT feeding myself with noodle soup, mac and cheese and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I think I ate my first vegetables in years at that dumpling place my first week at QC."
He kisses her then, his tongue already seeking entrance in her mouth, his fingers fighting the pressing desire to rip her lingerie apart. He knows she'll get mad if he does. Surprisingly, for once it's Felicity who chooses to slow things down, unbuttoning his shirt unhurriedly, enticing him with a sultry gaze that he doesn't even try to escape.
He stops touching her then, settling his hands on the wall on each side of her face, keeping his lips close enough to hers that he can feel it when she bites her bottom one as he revels in her hungry stare and warm, wandering fingers.
"You bought it and poured it in the pan," he whispers. "If that's not cooking…"
She chuckles throatily, her eyes stuck on the skin that appears after each freed button, and he doesn't resist. His head dips to suck on her pulse point, the only physical contact between them, his nose soon nuzzling the soft skin under her ear.
"I considered trying the old fashioned way," Felicity responds weakly. "And then I remembered the Fried Chicken Catastrophe of '09 and how all my roommates were sick for a week and I figured I wouldn't do that to you, I love you too much for that."
He freezes in her throat then, but Felicity isn't phased because her hands are pushing his shirt open, and her lips are seeking his heated skin.
"What did you just say?" he whispers, because he can't believe it.
"What?" she asks distractedly, frowning when she realizes that he has pushed her away. She blinks, thinking back to her previous sentence and he knows instantly when she puts the finger on what he's referring to. And once again, she surprises him when she stomps her foot down — the bad one — and shouts in pain.
"Are you okay?" he fusses, worried.
"Aoutch! Nooo! Aoutch man that hurts! Everything is going wrong!"
"You didn't mean to say it?" he presses with a flat voice as she winces and jumps on her left foot.
"What? No! I mean — yes, duh, I cooked, sort of — but not now against the wall while we're making out!"
She waves at the wall like its existence is a personal offense and settles her leg back gently.
"Because… because it's…" she's looking for words. "Because that's a lame story! I bought candles and tried being a girl for once!"
Oliver loves Felicity with all his heart, he really does, and he might feel light-headed and giddy with the knowledge that she finally said it voluntarily but sometimes she makes it really hard for him to follow her train of thoughts.
"When are you not a girl?"
"I don't know! I meant romantic-girly like in the movies!"
"You put on lingerie, bought candles and 'sort of' made dinner just to tell me that you loved me?"
He doesn't even care that she's basically treating him like a fifteen year-old girl right before she loses her virginity. He's weirdly moved that she has noticed how much he craved it and that she went out of her way to make it special. Maybe deep down he really is a fifteen year-old girl. Where she's concerned.
He's not going to tell her that though. A man has got to keep a little bit of dignity.
She shrugs sheepishly. "I mean… I was looking for the right moment and it always felt staged, or weird 'cause of dire situations and stuff, you know?"
"Felicity, I yelled it at you when I told you the first time. How was that the right moment?"
She opens her mouth, looking for an answer.
"That makes for a great story though."
"Detail," she shrugs, but he sees the shame in her eyes as she settles them on the dressed up table. "I don't know, I mean… You've been so patient with me, I just wanted it to be special."
Oliver doesn't hold back the beaming smile that spreads his lips, nor the glint of happiness that illuminates his eyes.
"You're worth the wait."
She grins shyly, blushing, and kisses him.
"We can make it extra-special and have our very first sex in a cast. I don't mean 'in a cast' as us cuddled in the cast, 'cause how would that even work? More like my leg is in a cast, and you're in m…"
She shuts her mouth when she spots Oliver's eyebrows rising on his forehead and bites her lips awkwardly. He can't help the chuckle that escapes him, nor the way his eyes darken at the idea of where exactly he's going to end up.
But first, he has to act like the sap that he really is inside as he props her in his arms and heads for their bedroom. His heart melts when she laughs — a true, genuine, heartfelt laugh that makes him fall in love with her all over again.
"Say it again."
She looks down on him, her eyes glistening with joy, and cups his jaw.
"I'm in love with you, Oliver Queen."
He kisses her as he lays her on their bed.
As he leans back, Oliver looks at her, taking all of Felicity in — from the hair around her face that spreads in a beautiful golden halo, to the breathtaking green lingerie, and the delicious pink shade of her blushing skin.
His kaleidoscope of colors.
"'Cause I'm in love with you too."
Author's Note: Yeah, I know, you guys have cavities at that point. I've never written something that was so "corny" but after the hostage crisis… (do I get points for not putting it as a cliffhanger?) I couldn't do anymore angst. Never say never, but I really don't see a sequel to this story, I think I've explored everything I wanted out of that set up.
I have a Veronica Mars story to finish up this summer that's long overdue (and written in French) but then I have a few ideas about fatherhood (the producers said they'd planted the seeds in season 2 to reap everything in season 3, too soon for a Connor storyline if you ask me but hey I'm not a producer/writer on the show). But my main issue with writing another story is related to the finale. I need to know if Felicity knew Oliver's plan — to me, she had to know the general idea of the 'he took the wrong woman' part of the plan, but many people's arguments make me doubt it. I want to deal with the "I love you" thing, but I have the weirdest OCD and I can't do that until I know what the producers meant. I'm pretty sure it'll be the first question at the Comic Con panel but in the mean time, I'll be thinking over what the fatherhood-story "plot" will be. So yeah.
That was one hell of an author's note, sorry 'bout that.
Thank you so much for reading that sequel! That was so much fun for me, I hope it was as fun for you! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!