This fic has been a long time coming. The first half was written before Sara and Oliver got together, and the second half was written after the finale, so there is definitely a little bit of change in style and tone. Based of of R. McKinley's poem of the same name.
1. Spit it into her voicemail, a little slurred and sounding like the shot whiskey you downed for courage. Feel as ashamed as you do walking into work in last night's clothes. Wake up cringing for days, waiting for her to mention it.
Hi! You've reached Felicity Smoak. I can't come to the phone right now so please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
"Felicility," Oliver slurred, and then took a deep breath. That hadn't sounded right. He tried again. "Felicity," he enunciated as slowly and as clearly as he could. Better.
The world was fuzzy and tilted on its side around him. No, wait. That was him. He was tilted on his side, leaning against his old desk at Verdant, in what used to be his office, holding his cell phone to his ear with his shoulder.
He tried to stand up straighter, gripping the edge of the desk when everything around him moved.
"Hi Fecicily," he said again. "You're not here." Oliver frowned, trying to remember just why he was so upset about that. "Oh, right. Barry." Oliver frowned at the flower arrangement on his desk. No, not his desk. Thea's desk.
"Yeah, so Barry… Barrybarrybarrrrrrrry… How is Barry? Still sleeping?" Oliver needed another drink and he looked around for the bottle of vodka he'd had a second ago. He remembered carrying it up the stairs… At least he'd –
A thought occurred to him.
"Hey, what do you think would happen if Barry drank a whole bottle of vodka?" Oliver scratched his head, frowning. "I mean, obviously no one's going to sell him vodka…" This was incredibly funny to Oliver, and he broke out laughing, snorting lightly and shaking his head. "Maybe the hangover would wake him up from his coma, huh Fliticy?"
Oliver spotted the vodka on the couch behind him, and he stepped away from the desk, stumbling towards the sofa. He fell as he reached it, catching himself on the edge as he grabbed the bottle, and then lowered himself to sit on the floor.
"You think he'd be better than me at drinking vodka, 'licity? Or just everything else?" he asked softly, taking another drink and frowning.
He fell silent for a moment. And then - "Would he love you more than I do? Or –"
Oliver pulled his phone away, blinking at it, then dropped it at his side with a sigh, lifting the vodka bottle for another drink.
That was where Digg found him forty minutes later, in a drunken stupor, vodka completely gone. He grabbed Oliver's phone and hefted him up with a sigh, ignoring the man's groans as he helped him down the stairs and out back into the car.
Truth be told, Diggle didn't mind. It was nice to do the job he was actually paid to do, and Oliver spent so much of his time taking care of everyone else, he was glad to help a brother out for a change. He'd listened stoically to the earlier conversation between Oliver and Felicity, sighing when the yelling started on both ends. Oliver had disappeared upstairs shortly afterwards.
When they reached the Queen mansion, he helped Oliver inside, up to his room, laying him down on his bed and pulling off his shoes. He grabbed a glass of water from the bathroom and two Advil, placing them on Oliver's bedside table. Then on a whim, he checked the outgoing calls on Oliver's cell-phone.
Felicity Smoak – Home
Diggle sighed and grabbed some paper and a pen from Oliver's desk.
Just FYI – you drunk dialed our girl last night.
He left the note next to the meds before heading out for the night.
The following day, Oliver played back the message three times, head still pounding, before deleting it from Felicity's machine. He gave a final glance around the town house living room, Felicity's presence everywhere, before sighing and leaving for Queen Consolidated, locking up behind him with the spare key she'd given him for emergencies back in September.
2. Sigh it into her mouth, wedged in between teeth and tongues. Don't even let your lips move when you say it, ever so lightly, into the air. Maybe it was just an exhalation of ecstasy.
Damn it. They were going to get caught.
Felicity had been typing furiously away at Victor Gorelnick's private computer for over three minutes when they'd only had two to spare.
"Felicity…" Oliver's voice came out as an anxious growl, as he stood watch in the doorway, looking down either end of the hallway.
"Shut up," Felicity growled back, her teeth clenched. "I know it's taking too long, just shut up and let me finish."
He felt like his tie was suffocating him, and he ran a finger underneath his collar, glancing back at her nervously.
They really should have been able to hack Gorelnick's system from the foundry, but a recent break-in had made the accountant to the rich and famous take his systems off-line while he updated his security.
Starting a quiet rumor about QC being in the market for a new accounting firm had landed Oliver Queen and his executive assistant a dinner date at Gorelnick's mansion, but this wasn't a party, and the two of them disappearing together while they moved to the lounge for post-dinner drinks would already have been noticed. And he really didn't like putting Felicity in the middle of things like this.
"Yes, okay! Got it," Felicity whispered, reaching down and pulling out her flash drive. She deposited it in her purse, and followed Oliver out the door. He was just about to breathe a sigh of relief as they reached the end of the hall when they heard a voice call out.
"Mr. Queen? Ms. Smoak?" It wasn't Gorelnick, which meant it was security. Which meant Gorelnick was suspicious.
Oliver quickly took in their surroundings, but there was absolutely nowhere for them to go other than back towards the office, and they wouldn't make it before whoever was coming turned the corner.
"Great, like my reputation wasn't trashed enough already…" Felicity muttered, and before Oliver could say a word, she'd grabbed him by the front of his suit jacket, turning so her back was against the wall, and brought his head down to kiss him.
He froze, pulling back and looked down at her, eyes wide.
"What are you doing?" he whispered furiously.
Felicity rolled her eyes. "What, like you don't know everyone already thinks we have something going on the side? Do you want to get caught?"
Oliver swallowed, glancing towards the end of the corridor, shaking his head.
"Then kiss me!"
He looked back down at Felicity. They had seconds before they were discovered.
But he was going to do it right.
He brought his hands up, tangling them into her hair, and tilted her head before closing the distance between them and crashing his lips to hers. He heard her squeak, probably not expecting how completely he gave in, but honestly? Oliver had wanted to kiss her for such a long time… He wasn't sure if he'd ever get the chance again, their lives were too dangerous, he couldn't let himself be with her the way he wanted to be. So at least for now, for these few seconds…
He groaned as her lips parted beneath his own, sweeping his tongue into her mouth to taste her.
Suddenly, they weren't on a mission, they weren't trapped in a hallway, worried about getting caught. Everything else melted away and Oliver just let himself feel – the way her hands gripped his shirt under his jacket, how the slide of her tongue against his made him want to pull her in tighter until he could feel every inch of her and never let her go. He could hear her soft gasps, electrifying every nerve ending, shooting down his spine. He breathed in the scent of her skin, her perfume, her hair, all-encompassing and completely exhilarating. He sank in to her, touch and taste and teeth and tongues and god he never wanted to stop-
Felicity pushed him away with a gasp, turning to face the security guard. "What?!" She sounded surprised and disoriented.
Oliver buried his face in her neck, breathing hard and trying to compose himself, to put up his walls again. He could feel Felicity's chest rising and falling just as quickly as his own, and he knew she was just as affected. Felicity managed to get her bearings before him because she quickly slipped back into her role.
She laughed lightly. "Oh my God! I am so sorry! I um-"
Oliver pulled away, clearing his throat, to catch her looking at him and biting her lip. He couldn't help his sharp inhale as he turned to the guard.
"Sorry. You know how it is," he said, clearing his throat, playboy grin falling easily into place. "Gorgeous assistant. I keep her around for more than just her brains…"
His eyes flashed to Felicity's quickly, begging her to understand that he didn't mean it. She covered with a ditzy giggle, and Oliver hated the sound of it immediately, hating himself just a little bit more for being the cause. He brought a thumb up to wipe at his lips, pulling the digit away to find it covered in bright pink lipstick.
The guard didn't look amused, but he didn't seem suspicious either. "Nonetheless, Mr. Queen, I'm going to have to ask the two of you return to the lounge. This section of the house is off-limits.
Oliver nodded. "Of course. We apologize." He finally pulled away from Felicity, her hands dropping from his shirt and leaving him cold, holding his hand out for her to walk in front of him, following right behind her.
"I'm sorry," he murmured softly so the guard couldn't hear.
Felicity shook her head. "It's fine, really. Don't worry about it." She seemed earnest, but her voice sounded strained.
It was a while before Oliver felt like he could get close to Felicity again without her scent reminding him of how she had tasted and the sounds she'd made, or how much he had actually said that day without speaking at all, wishing he hadn't had to take it all back.
3. Buy her flowers. Buy her chocolate. Buy her a teddy bear, because that's what every romantic comedy has taught you. Take her out to a nice restaurant where neither of you feel comfortable and spend the whole night clearing your throat and tugging at your tie. Feel like your actions are more suited to a proposal than the simple confession of something you've always known.
On Felicity's birthday, Oliver sent her two dozen roses. They arrived in the early afternoon and he watched from his office as she signed for and accepted the bouquet from the delivery guy with a look of awe. When she read the attached note, her face broke into a smile and she looked up at him, waving the little slip of paper and bouncing on her toes.
"Thank you," she mouthed.
He nodded in response.
He sent her an IM moments later.
OQ: Dinner tonight?
He had to wait until she had organized the flowers, and then she got another cup of coffee before she finally sat down at her desk again and turned to her computer. He watched her out of the corner of his eye the entire time. He saw her pause while taking a sip from her mug, then lower her cup to type a response. A moment later his instant messenger pinged.
FS: Sure. Big Belly with Digg?
Oliver sighed. That hadn't really been what he'd had in mind.
OQ: Actually, I thought I'd take you out for your birthday. Just the two of us.
He held his breath waiting for her response.
FS: Sure! Sounds great.
OQ: I'll pick you up at 8.
He showed up at Felicity's door five minutes early, nervous because he knew this wasn't a date, but part of him wanted to just give in and let himself be with her – tell her how he regretted his words earlier that year, about not being able to be with someone he felt close to.
He hadn't let himself believe he could have that – a relationship – with Felicity. But the more time went by, the longer they spent together, the more she came to know him and he her… He loved her already. Losing her would kill him whether he was with her or not. And truth be told, she was already a target.
Why was he still holding back?
The door opened suddenly.
"Oliver, how long have you just been standing out here?"
Felicity rolled her eyes. "Come in, I'll be ready in two seconds."
Oliver followed her inside, watching her as she gathered up her things, slipping into a pair of pink heels.
"You look beautiful," he told her. And she really did. She was wearing a sleeveless black dress with a ruffled skirt and a belt that matched her shoes, and it wasn't an evening gown, or a slinky party dress, but it was the simple outfits that suited her quirks that he loved the most on her.
Felicity smiled. "Thanks! Where are we headed?"
And like that, Oliver was suddenly nervous. Because he didn't know how to entertain a girl like Felicity. Sure, he'd made reservations at an expensive restaurant, and they were going for drinks afterwards, but he had a system when it came to wining and dining women. He had moves. Oh God, Tommy would have laughed at him, but Felicity wasn't one of the usual women he went out with. She was his best friend first, and he was suddenly struck by the fact that despite being his best friend, he didn't know how to be around her outside of the lair and the office.
"Oliver, are you okay?"
Oliver turned abruptly to find Felicity standing next to the open door, ready to go.
"What? Yeah, I'm fine, I just – yeah, no everything's fine."
Felicity raised an eyebrow but then just laughed. "Okay, if you say so. I'd say you seem nervous, but what about, right? It's not like this is a date or anything." She shook her head, waiting for him to follow her out.
"Right," he said, forcing a laugh, and going to start the car as she locked her door.
4. Whisper it into her hair in the middle of the night, after you've counted the space between her breaths and are certain she's asleep. Shut your eyes quickly when she shifts toward you in askance. Maybe you were just sleep whispering.
Felicity finally fell asleep sometime around dawn. At least, Oliver assumed it was around dawn.
Truth was, they'd been in this cell for so long he was beginning to lose his sense of time. It had been at least ten hours, but it could have been as long as sixteen. Without a window it was difficult to tell, and their captors hadn't exactly been forthcoming when asked.
Initially he and Felicity had worried that their kidnappers had known about The Arrow, but they had quickly learned that they were being detained with the express intention of revealing QC secrets. These men were after Oliver Queen, CEO, and not the vigilante.
The cell was cold and damp, they hadn't been fed, and while Oliver was used to this sort of treatment, Felicity was not. Neither of them were particularly worried about being found. Diggle was on it and they both had trackers hidden in their shoes. Felicity had told him the kidnappers probably had a signal scrambler, but with her tech back at the lair, Diggle would be able to get through it eventually. So they'd been left to wait.
In truth, Oliver probably could have gotten them out on his own, but with his promise not to kill, there would be an entire group of people left wondering how a billionaire playboy had been able to make it out without issue. Assumptions and connections would be made.
He felt Felicity shiver next to him, and he pulled her in more tightly against his chest.
They had decided to share the tiny bed in the cell, considering the chill. Felicity was wearing one of her work dresses, sleeveless, and had finally given up on her shoes, claiming she could only wear six inch heels for so long. He'd draped his jacket over her shoulders, and she'd immediately clutched it around herself, sighing.
Oliver chose not to examine too closely just how seeing her dwarfed by his jacket made him feel.
They lay down together, and he'd curled himself around her, trying to give her as much of his warmth as he could. He'd noticed how she'd stiffened in his arms, wanted to comment on it, but had forced himself to stay quiet and loose, just regulating his breathing until she started matching it without even realizing, slowly relaxing in his arms.
And now he was fairly certain she was asleep.
He, on the other hand, wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon.
As much as he hated that she was stuck in this cell with him, he was also relieved. Felicity made everything better, had done so since she'd first joined the team. He still stood by what he'd told Digg – they could protect her. So to have her here with him now didn't worry him. He was simply grateful for the opportunity to have her close.
He listened to her soft breaths. In, out, in, out… He felt warmth unfurl in his chest, tightening his arms ever so slightly. He needed her so much more than she realized. Wanted her so much more than she could imagine…
Oliver wasn't stupid. He knew how he felt about her, and he wanted to act on it. He'd tried, for crying out loud, and failed completely. Felicity's own oblivious reaction to his attempt at a date had shot an arrow through his plans, and he'd felt like too much of an idiot to try again.
The pressure in his chest was building, and Oliver shut his eyes.
Once, when he was very little, Raisa had helped him make surprise cookies for his mother's birthday. He'd been genuinely afraid he wouldn't be able to keep the secret until the next day, and she had told him that if he felt like he simply had to say something, he should go into his room, close the door and say it quietly to himself. That hearing the words without telling them to someone else would help him keep them secret just a little bit longer.
The memory came unbidden to Oliver as he held her, and without thinking, he just let the words out, a barely there whisper in the dank, dark cell.
"I'm in love with you."
Felicity shifted next to him, snuffling in her sleep, and Oliver shut his eyes, clenching his jaw at his own stupidity.
Now was not the time.
He lay still for the next couple of hours, and when the sounds of gunfire and shouting began a short while later, Felicity shot awake, Diggle crashing through the door moments after.
5. Blurt it out in the middle of an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, as clumsy as your two left feet. When time seems to freeze, hastily tack on "in that shirt" or "when you make your award-winning meatballs" or, if you are feeling particularly brave, "when we do this." Resume dancing and pretend you don't feel her eyes on you the rest of the night.
It hadn't been part of the plan.
Felicity was the one who came up with it.
"Make him out-think you," she had said, and when he frowned in confusion, she'd taken a second before adding, "Make him think he took the wrong woman."
Oliver had almost laughed, because how could he tell her that Slade had taken the wrong woman?
He tried to argue. He didn't want to put her in that kind of danger. What she was saying, what she was telling him to do – what she was offering… It was unthinkable
But of course Felicity Smoak had always defied thought – defied reason.
They reached the mansion in record time, Felicity clinging to his waist as he swerved around burning cars, speeding down the highway to his abandoned home. They had worked it all out, down to the script, and as much as Oliver hated what he was about to put her through, he knew there was no one who he trusted to hold her own against Slade more than her.
It should have been easy. Just saying the lines, getting through them and then leaving, but the words felt like ashes in his mouth. Telling her to stay there, that he would come and get her when it was over – telling her that he wasn't asking… The very concept was laughable. Felicity always did exactly what she wanted to do. In a way, it helped ground him – this wasn't them. This was an act.
"So, he took the wrong woman!"
It was that little sound that did it. That declaration of surprise. It was part of the script, but Oliver could tell – she was surprised. Maybe she could hear the change in his voice, the resounding truth to those words, even though they were planned. Wide blue eyes stared earnestly up at him, seeing through him like she always had, and suddenly, it wasn't a ruse anymore. Suddenly he needed for it to be real and before he could stop himself –
"I love you."
The words resonated in the empty space between them, whispered through the foyer. He wasn't supposed to go that far, it had just slipped out, and God how he wanted to take her face in his hands and show her that it wasn't a lie. But the frantic beating of his heart drowned out the warmth of the moment, and cold cognizance of what they were really doing there sliced through his veins as he pressed the syringe into her hand and asked if she understood.
Understood that there was no turning back.
Understood that he was putting all of their lives in her hands.
Understood that he'd meant every word.
Later, on the beach at Lian Yu, he realized she had understood everything but the last.
For some reason (cowardice) – he didn't correct her.
6. Write her a letter in which the amount of circumnavigating and angst could rival Mr. Darcy's. Debate where to leave it all day – on her pillow? In her coat pocket? Throw it away in frustration, conveniently leaving it face up in the trashcan, her name scrawled on the front in your sloppy handwriting. Let her wonder if you meant it.
He started leaving her little notes.
Just tiny post-its here and there, hidden in places he knew she would find them.
We're out of milk. I'll pick some up later – on the fridge.
Went for a run. There's coffee in the pot – on the bathroom mirror.
I changed the bulb in the coat closet. Chinese tonight? – on the front door.
Little things, little apologies and recognition that although he had invaded her personal space and there was no way he could truly repay her for letting him stay, he was still grateful, still trying to make it up to her.
He had nowhere else to go. Lyla and Diggle needed their space, with the baby coming. Laurel was putting her life back together, running for DA, and truth be told, there was just too much history there. He would have felt awkward asking, knowing he would have been putting her out.
Felicity had a spare bedroom and hadn't thought twice about offering it to him.
"Oliver, you're my best friend. Of course you can stay with me." She had smiled, and once again he'd found himself biting back those three words that seemed to have taken up permanent residence on the tip of his tongue.
One night over dinner, waiting for Game of Thrones to start (he'd really taken to it, more even than Felicity, who had read the first two books), she suddenly turned to him, holding a piece of kung-pow chicken speared on one chopstick.
"You know you don't have to keep doing things for me to stay here, right?"
Oliver swallowed his bite of fried rice and put his own chopsticks down. He shrugged, trying to go for nonchalance. "I'm just trying to help out."
Felicity nodded. "I get that," she said. "But I just don't want you to feel like you owe me something." She frowned at her chicken. "I like having you here, Oliver. It was – it was really lonely here before. And I just – I like having you here…" she repeated softly. "Okay?"
She held his gaze for a moment, blue eyes reflecting years of silence and solitude – not quite his purgatory, but her own island nonetheless.
His post-its changed after that.
Have a good day. Movie tonight? – on her car windshield.
Don't forget to eat lunch. Yes, I know about that – inside the fridge door.
You're remarkable – on the mirror in the front hall.
Felicity never said anything about them, but one night she sent him up to her room to grab her blue nail-polish, and he tripped on one of her shoes, banging into the dresser and knocking a small box to the floor, its contents spilling. Dozens of yellow post-its fluttered on to the carpet, and something clenched deep in his heart.
I meant it. I love you, he wrote on the next day's post-it. He got up at 6, trying to figure out where to put it. The coffee machine, the television, the front door, the ceramic key bowl… After half an hour he still hadn't found something that felt right, and when he heard Felicity's bedroom door open, he quickly crumbled it up and stuck it in his pocket, meeting her in the kitchen for breakfast.
7. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can't not tell her anymore. Wait until she almost gets hit by a car crossing Wabash against the light and after you are done cursing at the shit-for-brains cab drivers in this city, realize you are actually just terrified of living without her. Tell her with your hands shaking.
In the end, it wasn't Slade, or The Count, or Tockman, or even some random fly-by dead-beat thug he should have worried about. He'd promised Digg they would protect her, and while over the years, the definition of what that protection meant had changed (she was his partner and she made her own choices), he had never considered that he might almost lose her because some idiot kid ran a red light.
She'd begged him to go see some super-hero movie in theaters. The place wasn't too far from their current base of operations, and they'd decided to walk.
She'd been so excited, babbling away about how long she'd been waiting to see it, gesturing animatedly. Oliver watched and smiled, just enjoying being around her. He was so wrapped up in her enthusiasm, he didn't see the van. But Felicity did.
"Oliver! Look out!" she'd yelled, and before he even realized what was going on, she'd shoved him out of the way.
A screech of tires followed by a sickening thud that would haunt him for the rest of his life - he looked up from where he was sprawled on the ground to see a motionless Felicity, violently pink dress and bright blonde hair completely at odds with the black pavement.
"Felicity?" Her name caught in his chest, and then ripped out of his throat with a roar. "Felicity, no!" He scrambled towards her, landing heavily on his knees next to her. There was blood pooling under her head as he frantically felt for a pulse.
He couldn't find one.
"I swear to God, man, I didn't see her! You two came out of nowhere!" The kid, probably no older than 20, had come running out of the van and stood behind him.
"Call an ambulance!" Oliver yelled, beginning chest compressions.
"Ambulance! Right, yeah, okay." He heard the sound of an iPhone keyboard being tapped. "Oh God… Oh my God… She's dead isn't she? She's dead!"
"Make the fucking call!" he roared.
"Yeah, we need an ambulance at 35th and Roosevelt! Oh God - I hit her with my car, and she's not breathing!"
Oliver continued pressing and counting – 27, 28, 29, 30. He carefully tilted her head back and leaned down, pinching her nose and breathing into her mouth, once, twice, before starting over on compressions.
He drowned out everything else. Sound, sight - the area around him faded to black. He didn't let himself think. He just kept counting – 28, 29, 30 – 1 (breathe), 2 (breathe). 30 beats and then 2. 30 and then 2. Again. Again.
When hands finally pulled him away, he reacted violently "No!" he roared, turning and swinging at whoever was trying to stop him. Luckily, the paramedic was quick on his feet.
"Sir! Sir, you need to let us take over, okay?"
With a rush everything came back, and the lights of the ambulance almost blinded him. Oliver shook his head to clear it as he stepped away.
The man – Andrew, the nametag said – was talking to him. Oliver still didn't understand when they'd arrived. He hadn't heard them coming at all. They needed the details of what had happened. Between Andrew's questions and his answers he could hear the other paramedics.
"Sir, how long have you been performing CPR?"
Patient was hit by a car. She is unconscious.
"Um – I don't know." Oliver drew a hand over his face. "When did you get the call?"
"Three minutes ago."
"So then three minutes."
Trauma to the back of the head. There's no pulse, begin compressions.
"She's been unconscious since the accident?"
There was ringing in his ears as he watched the paramedics work.
"Yes! Yeah. She – uh, she pushed me out of the way…"
We need to intubate – get her inside!
He watched, still not completely comprehending, as they strapped Felicity into a gurney. Reality caught up with him in a sudden rush and he frantically grabbed Andrew's arm. "Listen! Her name is Felicity Smoak. She's allergic to penicillin. I'm listed as her emergency contact, and I'm coming with you."
Andrew nodded. "Okay, but you need to ride up front."
The ride to the hospital was simultaneously the longest and shortest ride of his life. They managed to get Felicity's heart started again, only to have her begin seizing. She flat-lined two more times before they reached Starling City Memorial, and then she was rushed immediately into surgery.
The sudden lack of frantic activity, of frenzied rush, left him alone with his terror in a silent, white-walled room. And then all he had left to him, was to wait.
He looked around, disoriented, hands clenching and unclenching.
He called Diggle. He and Lyla were in New York, visiting her family. They promised to catch the first flight in.
That took five minutes.
And that was it.
Sitting alone in the waiting room, it suddenly struck Oliver that he had no one else. He didn't know where Thea was, she hadn't contacted him since she'd left the city. Laurel didn't know Felicity well, and while he was sure she would have come and waited with him, her presence would have been more of a strain than helpful. Sara would want to know, but she was unreachable for the next two months, on assignment somewhere in Thailand.
The only person he could always rely on, count on to be there for him, was Felicity.
He lowered his head into his hands, shutting his eyes tightly and trying to breathe through the panic. He thought of every single time he could have told her how important she was, how there was no one else like her, not anywhere – and he'd been everywhere. He thought of bright colors against concrete walls, and fierce determination to do what was right, and her willingness to run head first into danger if she knew there was a call to.
God, she had saved his life so many times – tonight was just the most recent in a long list.
What if it was the last?
He lost track of time. At some point a policeman showed up to take the details of the accident and file the report. He assured Oliver the driver would be losing his license and likely end up with a jail sentence.
As though that mattered.
Without her nothing mattered.
Oliver startled awake, disoriented for a second before the pain in his neck from sleeping upright, and the harsh fluorescent lights grounded him again.
He checked his watch. It had been 5 hours.
A doctor was waiting for him, and he immediately stood, anxious and terrified to hear the news.
"I'm Dr. Handler. I understand you're listed as Ms. Smoak's emergency contact?"
Dr. Handler opened the chart she was holding. "Ms. Smoak suffered severe head trauma, most likely from hitting the pavement, not the vehicle. As a result, a vein was damaged in her brain, causing cerebral edema. We were able to repair the damage with minimal complications and reduce the swelling, but the next 24 hours are critical. She also suffered several fractured ribs and a fracture to her left wrist. She's stable for now. We're keeping her in a medically induced coma until it's safe for her to wake up, and we've moved her to the ICU for surveillance. If the swelling returns, we may have to operate again."
Oliver felt dizzy. "Severe head trauma…" He shook his head. "What about – when she wakes up," he couldn't bring himself to contemplate any other option, "will she be okay?"
Dr. Handler's eyes softened. "If she wakes up," she said gently, and Oliver stiffened, "her chances are good. From the paramedic report, you began CPR immediately after the accident, and they arrived on scene quickly enough to restart her heart and get blood flowing to her brain. But she needs to wake up first. Right now we're just focusing on that."
Oliver nodded as Dr. Handler turned to go. Just before she closed the door, she stopped and turned back.
"If she wakes up, you should be aware that you saved her life."
Oliver was sure she had meant to be comforting, but the words sank like stones in his stomach.
By the time Diggle arrived, Oliver had already been allowed in to see her.
He could feel his friend standing in the doorway, taking in the sight of him sitting by Felicity's bed, slumped in his chair, watching her heart monitor, knowing every single beat increased the possibility of looking into her blue eyes again.
He'd been matching his breathing to the rhythm of her ventilator. It had helped him zone out, a parody of meditation, but it did the trick. Her face was pale, bruised and purple around her eyes, her head wrapped in a bandage. He took his first deep breath in hours, breaking the synchronization.
"I love her, Digg."
He heard a sigh and heavy footsteps. "I know, man. I know."
Oliver glanced up to find Diggle looking haggard, tired, and he remembered – he loved her too. Not in the same way, but John loved her nonetheless. Oliver stood and gripped his friend's shoulder, pulling him in for a hug, and the two men supported each other for at least a moment, bracing against the fear of being without her.
They stood guard by her bed all that day and through the night – setting a constant vigil, settling in to the thrum of machinery and the golden beats of her heart.
Twenty-four hours passed and Felicity stabilized further to the extent that the doctors stopped keeping her intentionally under and removed the ventilator.
It was a glimmer of hope, and Oliver started to believe.
He let himself wash his face and breathe.
Diggle got coffee.
Lyla came by and the three of them sat talking quietly by Felicity's bedside. The air was still tense, but the heart monitor stayed steady.
And then she woke up.
Oliver noticed it first, of course. Lyla had just gone to get them more coffee and some bagels and he and Diggle discussed how they would be taking care of her once she got out. They knew unless she woke up on her own and soon, that that might not happen, but the two of them were realists, cynics in so many other parts of their lives, they allowed themselves this one small weakness.
"We'll have to alternate nights putting on the suit. And Roy – Roy will be able to - " He felt Felicity's fingers twitch in his hand and froze mid-sentence.
He turned away from Diggle and looked down at her, not sure if what he felt was real, or just a fluke.
"Felicity?" he asked, voice small and terribly hopeful. "Felicity, can you hear me?"
He waited. Held his breath and focused every sense on her. Diggle got up and came closer, watching from behind him. But nothing changed. Thirty seconds, forty five, one minute went by and nothing else happened. Oliver let out a sigh, disappointment creeping down his spine. He'd either imagined it or –
Felicity flexed her fingers.
"Digg, get the nurse!"
His friend was out the door in moments and Oliver took Felicity's hand up in both of his own.
"Felicity? Hey, you there?"
Her right eyelid cracked open, followed shortly after by her left. She squinted at him, and the small glint of blue coming through was the brightest color he'd ever seen.
She moved her lips, but nothing but a rasp came out.
"Shh, shh, don't try to talk. I'm not sure you can yet, they had you on a ventilator." Oliver swallowed, trying to breathe around the lump forming in his throat. Felicity closed her eyes again.
"Hey, hey! Felicity, look at me!"
Dr. Handler came in just then, followed by two nurses.
"Mr. Queen, I understand she's awake?"
Oliver raised a shaky hand to his face. "She was, a second ago, she just – she closed her eyes again. Is she okay?"
The tiniest whisper of a moan came from the bed, and Dr. Handler turned towards Felicity. "That's what we're going to check, alright? Would you and Mr. Diggle be kind enough to wait outside, please?"
Oliver watched the nurses taking Felicity's vital signs and lifting the back of her bed as Dr. Handler moved to check the readings from one of the machines.
"Yeah, yes. Just – please…"
They weren't listening to him, though, and he moved out in to the hallway to wait with Digg.
Felicity couldn't be moved yet, so Oliver, Diggle and Lyla spent the next two hours watching portable x-ray machines and various scanners get wheeled in and out of her room. Several doctors came and went. But after it all, Dr. Handler met them outside and let them know that Felicity's chances had sky-rocketed now that she had woken up.
"She won't be able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at first, just be aware. And speaking may be difficult for her until she really begins to mend. Don't be alarmed by it, it's completely normal."
Oliver nodded, looking anxiously over the doctor's shoulder towards Felicity's room.
"Her throat is very sore right now, so when she wakes up again, you can give her some water. There's a pitcher and a cup with a straw next to her bed. Just a little sip. You don't have to call a doctor in the next time she's up, but please make sure to inform the nurse so she can write it down and check her vitals."
Dr. Handler smiled, her eyes warm. "She's going to be okay, Mr. Queen."
Oliver thanked her and headed back inside the room. Felicity didn't look any different. She was still pale, looking frail and small in the hospital blankets, but Oliver's chest tightened with relief that he couldn't express. He collapsed into the chair next to her bed, a shuddering sigh leaving him in a rush of catharsis.
He turned to face Diggle. The older man nodded, holding out a hand. Oliver gripped it tightly.
"Me and Lyla are going to head out for the night. I'll stop by your place and get you a change of clothes before I come back in the morning."
Oliver nodded, grateful both for the offer and that Diggle didn't even think to suggest Oliver do the same. He didn't miss the fact that Diggle referred the Felicity's house as his place as well.
As they left, he settled down again to wait, heart lighter than it had been in almost 48 hours.
Somewhere around 1:30 am, a small noise startled him awake. The lights were off in the room, except for a small lamp on the bedside table casting a warm glow. He looked over to see Felicity watching him. She looked exhausted, haggard. But she was alive.
She was beautiful.
"Oliver…" she managed to whisper, and his hands shook as he gripped her smaller one, bringing it up and touching it to his forehead.
"I thought you were going to die. I thought I lost you."
Felicity squeezed his hand lightly, barely a flutter against his fingers, and he lowered her hand to his lips, breathing heavily against her knuckles. His throat tightened and he could feel the tell-tale pinprick of tears begin to blur his vision.
"Shhh…" Felicity blinked sluggishly, and Oliver was overwhelmed at the fact that she was still trying to protect him, to comfort him from what had almost been her deathbed.
He took a deep breath.
"It was real. That night in the mansion. It was true, every word." He watched her eyes widen, the weight of his words registering despite her exhaustion. "I love you Felicity, and I almost never got the chance to tell you that." He lowered his head to her the bed, still holding her, taking a deep shuddering breath.
She pulled her hand away then, slowly. He let her. It was a lot to take in – almost dying, waking up to him falling apart.
Then he felt her fingers running gently through his hair. He picked his head up, eyes red, and her hand slid down to his cheek. He closed his eyes, tilting his head into the touch, and turned to kiss her fingertips.
"I love you. Is – is that okay?"
Her response was a slow smile and a slower nod, her eyelids already growing noticeably heavy as she blinked once, twice… The third time they stayed closed as she fell asleep again smiling.
He would tell her again the next time she woke up. He would tell her every day, as many times as he could, for as long as he was able.
Oliver watched her for a few more seconds, relief making his fingertips tingle. Then he got up to go let the nurse know she'd woken up again.
8. Say it deliberately, your tongue a springboard for every syllable. Over coffee, brushing your teeth side-by-side, as you turn off the light to go to sleep – it doesn't matter where. Do not adorn it with extra words like "I think" or "I might." Do not sigh heavily as if admitting it were a burden instead of the most joyous thing you've ever done. Look her in the eyes and pray, heart thumping wildly, that she will turn to you and say, "I love you too."
It's quiet – the type of quiet that sinks into bones, surrounding them like Felicity's down blanket. It's made up of the gentle rain falling outside, of the slow rise and fall of their chests, breathing softly as sleep begins to claim them, curled around each other.
The house hums with the quiet.
There's a green leather suit in the back of the closet, hidden by brightly colored dresses, and both their toothbrushes in the cup in the bathroom.
There's soy milk in the fridge, next to sweet strawberry yogurt, and two mugs waiting next to the automatic coffee maker.
Little bits and pieces of their lives are scattered around the living room, and in the laundry waiting to be folded, a pair of fuzzy purple socks are tangled in the sleeves of a blue dress shirt.
Everything settles as the hardships of the day slide off of them like the raindrops on their window.
Oliver sighs. "I love you."
There's a post it note in a shoebox on the dresser that says, Marry me?
"I love you too," Felicity breathes out.
They fall asleep.