It took exactly forty-eight hours after the Slade Wilson takedown before Felicity was offered a job.
Detective Lance, despite his very recent heart attack, had told her to come by the hospital and, on the spot, asked her to come work at the IT department at SCPD.
There were few times Felicity had been stunned into silence (one in particular that involved a certain Oliver Queen, and which she had no present desire to revisit) and she could only blink a couple of times, mouth agape. "You – you want me to come to work for you?" she asked, not quite sure what had just happened. "At the IT department?"
Propped up on a pillow, Quentin Lance simply smiled tiredly at her. "I want you to come work as the head of the IT department," he corrected her. "I know the…quality of your work. You'd be a valuable addition."
"I – I don't know what to say," she replied, still stunned. "Are you even allowed to make me this offer? I mean, I'm honored, and I would love to obviously, but I don't want to get you into any trouble and –"
"No trouble at all. Go by the precinct – your contract is on my desk. If you want the job, Felicity, it's yours."
Well then. She closed her mouth, nodded and smiled.
Her first day at work had gone remarkably well.
It had felt so good, to be back in IT, doing what she loved, and surrounded by people who understood the language. Though she knew she had missed it even as an EA, Felicity hadn't really realized how much until she'd been back in the business.
And being at the head of the department? Well, that just made her job that much more enjoyable.
She was sitting in her office (a proper office. Her very own! Felicity didn't honestly know if this indescribable feeling of giddiness would ever go away whenever she looked at her name pasted neatly on that glass door) when Oliver suddenly breezed in, a smile on his face. "Hey," he offered in way of greeting.
She glanced up at him. "So I guess we're back to you not knocking on my door, huh?"
He pressed his lips together, eyes shining. "I guess we are."
"What's up? Is this about – you know," her voice dropped to a whisper. "– Arrow business?"
This time, Oliver did laugh. His small, breathy laugh, with the corners of his mouth turned upwards just so, as if he'd been trying hard to contain it, but couldn't help himself.
It made his features light up, and so painfully attractive.
Felicity mentally shook her head. She was not going to go there.
"Not at all," he replied, successfully drawing her out of her thoughts. "I'm here to take you out to lunch."
She blinked. "What?"
"You heard me," he said, grabbing her coat. "Let's go."
"What's the occasion?" Felicity pressed, trying to put up a fight, even as she let Oliver help her into her coat. She tried to ignore the way her heart stuttered in her chest when she felt the press of Oliver's warm hands on her back, or how he was standing so close to her she could feel his breath on her skin, and a hint of his cologne – something vaguely spicy and woodsy – wrap around her like a blanket. She fought a shiver and turned around, raising an eyebrow.
Oliver matched her expression teasingly. "Okay, you got me," he said, raising his hands in mock surrender. "It's your first day on the job. I thought I'd take you out to celebrate."
Felicity could feel herself flush, the blood tinting her cheeks scarlet. She cleared her throat. "Oh, wow," she replied finally. "That's…um, that's really sweet of you, Oliver."
He grinned. "I know."
Felicity rolled her eyes at his antics, but she couldn't stop the giant smile painting it's way on her face. The smile only widened when Oliver made a show of sweeping his arm in front of them, his other hand at the small of her back. "Shall we?"
She looked at him and he looked straight back, the air between them electrifying for a split-second. They hadn't revisited the conversation they'd had on Lian Yu, and Felicity sure as hell wasn't the one who was going to bring it up first (or ever), but their relationship had changed since then. It had shifted, and that would've been fine, if she only knew what direction it had shifted in.
Felicity looked down, effectively breaking whatever it was that had happened. "Yes," she said at length. "Let's."
Oliver nodded, and together they walked out of the Starling City Police Department. "So how's the job?" he asked, guiding her to his car.
"Good." She looked up at him. "Beats the hell out of being an EA."
The second time Oliver came to pick Felicity up for lunch, she was at the foundry.
He found her there, one Sunday afternoon, dressed in training gear from head to toe, practicing throwing punches.
He shook his head, hiding a smile, before he made his way over to her. "Felicity," he called, startling her so bad she jumped nearly a foot in the air, a small yelp of surprise making its way past her lips.
She turned around, an indignant expression on her face. This time, Oliver couldn't suppress a grin.
"You need to stop doing that Oliver, I'm serious," she warned him, crossing her arms over her chest. "Do you want to give me a heart attack?"
Oliver shook his head, schooling his features into something that looked appropriately apologetic. Based on Felicity's raised eyebrow, he knew he'd failed.
He cleared his throat. "Felicity, what're you doing here on a Sunday?" he asked instead, pushing his hands into the pockets of his coat. "Dressed…like that." He gestured at her outfit.
Felicity flushed and she looked away embarrassed. "I, uh, I asked Dig to teach me some self-defense moves," she explained, moving away from him to grab a bottle of water and her glasses. "I thought it'd be a good idea, since I always manage to get myself in trouble, and it would be – you know – helpful if I could defend myself somehow, instead of expecting you or Dig or Roy to come save me at the drop of a hat –"
"Felicity," Oliver called, interrupting her rant. He placed a gentle hand on the curve of her elbow, and she blinked up at him, surprised. "It is a good idea. I'm sorry if I sounded judgmental. You should learn how to defend yourself in case…something happens," he barely forced the words out, jaw locking up tensely at the thought of something else happening to her.
The warm press of her hand on his arm jolted him out of his thoughts. "Hey," she said, her voice soft and sweet, and nurturing to a very deep part of Oliver's soul. He turned his head a fraction so that he was staring into her wide, expressive blue eyes. "Doing this doesn't mean I think something will happen – it's just in case something does. I can't expect you to always be there Oliver. I have to learn how to fend for myself."
He sighed. "I know," he replied at length. A muscle in his jaw ticked.
It doesn't make it any easier.
"So," Felicity began, clearly wanting to ease the tension. "Why are you here on a Sunday?"
Oliver couldn't help but grin. "To take you out to lunch of course," he said. "Why else?"
"But I'm all sweaty and disgusting," Felicity's voice trailed off as she made a face, running her hand across her sweat-slicked forehead to illustrate her point.
Oliver surprised her when he placed his hand over hers, his expression painfully tender. "Go use the shower at the back," he said, tilting his head in its general direction. He paused a bit, a smile turning the edges of his mouth. "And trust me, Felicity, when I say there is nothing about you that is even a little disgusting."
Felicity turned pink.
Oliver barging into her office unannounced had become such a common daily occurrence that Felicity didn't even bother to look up anymore when he would just breeze in, for the simple good reason that she didn't need to.
No one besides Oliver walked into her office without knocking.
She looked up, only to find him standing there, one pointed eyebrow raised. "It's noon," he clarified, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly, trying to fight off a smile.
"Ah! Sorry my bad," she said quickly, twisting in her chair to grab her coat. Now three months into her job, Felicity had stopped questioning why Oliver was so adamant on taking her out to lunch every day, and had just accepted it as a token of his friendship towards her.
Because it couldn't be anything more, right? She was only the IT girl – his Girl Friday – anything else was reserved for the Sara's and Laurel's of this world.
She shook her head in an attempt to banish those thoughts from her head; it was sweet of Oliver to take her out when he didn't need to – especially when it was always on his dime.
And considering the state of his (at present, still nonexistent) fortune, that was saying something.
A steady and warm hand encircling around her wrist interrupted her musings, and Felicity looked up. "What?"
For a moment, she thought Oliver looked almost bashful. But the expression passed just as quickly, and she was left to wonder if it was a trick of the light, or her imagination. "I thought we could do something different," he said. "You're not going to need your coat."
"Okay," Felicity enunciated slowly, turning back in her seat a fraction, her expression full of questions.
Oliver didn't speak; letting his actions do most of the talking. He set a plastic bag of Chinese takeout on her desk, and pulled a chair beside hers.
Felicity blinked at him, and he scratched the back of his head, smiling ruefully. Of course, she wouldn't let this pass unless he answered her unspoken questions. It wouldn't be Felicity if she did. "I know how busy you've been recently and so instead of taking you out to lunch, I thought I'd bring lunch to you."
Felicity could feel the blood rush to her cheeks, staining them a pretty crimson. She tucked her head, twirling a lock of hair nervously between her fingers. "Oliver, that's…umm, that's really…"
"Sweet of me?" He finished, smiling at her as he handed her a pair of chopsticks.
She grimaced, laughing, as she grabbed a carton of shrimp and noodles for herself. "I say that a lot don't I?"
Oliver shrugged – an admirable gesture. "It's okay," he replied, passing over his chopsticks, full of the beef and red pepper he'd picked for himself, for her to taste. "It's very…you."
Felicity rolled her eyes mid-chew, pausing to allow herself the time to swallow the food. "I'm going to go ahead and take that as a compliment, Mr. Queen."
She missed the way his eyes softened as she dug into her food heartily. "As you should," he said, before resuming to eat his own food.
Felicity promptly looked up when she heard a knock at her office door. Her eyebrows coming together in slight confusion, she paused, looking at the clock perched neatly on the wall in front of her.
Her frown intensified. That's weird. The only person who'd ever walked into her office at this time was Oliver.
And God knows, he would never knock.
"Come in," she said, somewhat hesitantly, feeling slightly perplexed by this turn of events. She relaxed immediately when she spotted a familiar looking red hoodie, watching Roy step into her office.
"Hey," she greeted. "What's up?"
"I have it," he replied simply, holding up a file. He handed it to her before he pulled up a chair.
Felicity opened it, her eyes roaming over the bank account number and transactions intently. Finally, she said, "It looks like Thea's only used her credit card twice since she's left."
"But that doesn't make any sense right?" Roy said, half-desperate, half-frustrated. "She's been gone for three months and the purchases have been – "
"Minimal." Felicity looked at him sympathetically. "I know."
"Is there anything else in there you can find, Felicity?" Roy insisted, watching her earnestly. "There's got to be something."
"Hold on," she replied, reaching for her computer and pulling up a log of all of Thea's incoming and outgoing calls.
Scanning the screen, she dropped her eyes onto the file again, spreading the pages around, trying to look for something – anything – that could provide a clue as to where Thea was, or what she's been doing.
Roy watched her work in silence, save for the nervous tapping of his fingers on his knees.
Felicity turned one of the pages over, and froze. Roy's tapping stuttered to a slow stop as he noticed the subtle tension in her shoulders, and he straightened. "What?" he asked. "Did you find something?"
She swallowed the growing lump in her throat. "The train," she managed to croak out. "Thea never got on it."
Roy's eyes narrowed. "What?"
She showed him the police report she was looking at. "Look," she said instead. "Thea was supposed to get on the eight o'clock train, but Slade's men had invaded the train station fifteen minutes before that, which means…"
"She wasn't on it," he finished dimly, shoulders slumping as the implications of what he'd just learned struck him. Threading fingers through his hair, he breathed in shallowly, turning his head to look at Felicity. "So what does that mean?"
She shook her head. "I don't know," she replied honestly, glancing at her monitor screen, and at the relatively steady streams of calls. Thea was alive, wherever she was. "She must have left Starling some other way."
"But what –"
Roy stopped when another knock sounded on Felicity's door. They both looked up, before glancing at each other in synchronized comprehension. Roy immediately stuffed the slew of papers, documents, and reports on Thea back into the file, while Felicity switched her computer screen to something more harmless.
"Come in," she said at length.
Felicity watched with surprise when a clearly nervous Laurel walked in. "Oh, hi Laurel," she said.
"Hey, Felicity," Laurel greeted almost timidly in return. Her eyebrows rose when she saw Roy, who sported a similar look of surprise on his face. "Hey Roy."
He tipped his head in her direction, acknowledging her silently.
Team Arrow was still trying to get used to the addition of Laurel. Having found out about Oliver, she had become adamant in her desire to help, in whatever way she could. Though Oliver had been reluctant, he'd finally agreed, provided that she stayed safe, and out of the field.
Personally, Felicity thought it was a good idea. It couldn't hurt to have someone at the DA's office on their side. But the whole dynamic still took a little…getting used to. Laurel was more earnest in her desire to participate than they'd anticipated.
"Umm, what're you doing here?" Felicity winced, biting her tongue. "Not that it's a bad thing that you are – here I mean. It's great, really. I didn't mean to be rude, I'm just surprised is all."
She mentally cringed at how awkward she must've sounded to Laurel. Having the floor open up and swallow her whole would be great right about now. She took a couple deep breaths, before looking up again. "I mean, what can I help you with?"
Laurel's eyes were soft, the corners of her mouth turned slightly upwards. "Nothing, I was just here picking stuff up for my dad, and I thought I'd drop by and say hello," she explained, walking further into the room.
"Oh well," Felicity said, a nervous laugh escaping her lips. "Hello."
Laurel's glance alternated between her and Roy, expression carefully neutral, but Felicity could see the proverbial gears in her mind turning. "Are you two…" she gestured at them. "Working on something for Oliver?"
"No," Roy replied. "I just…came by to say hello," he finished, after a moment's hesitation, sharing a glance with Felicity.
"Oh, I see. What a coincidence," Laurel said, entirely unconvinced. She paused for a moment, looking at them, before stepping forward. "Listen, guys, I promise you can trust me. I want to help. I want to make this city a better place. If you just give me a chance –"
"Felicity! Ready to…" Felicity closed her eyes as Oliver strolled into her office, fighting the urge to rub at her temples. God, was everyone going to show up here today? "Go?" His voice trailed off as he took in the number of people currently crowded into her office.
"Hi, Ollie," Laurel said, clearly surprised.
"Hey, Laurel," he replied, looking very confused. "Hey, Roy. What're you guys doing here?"
"I was just leaving," Roy said, grabbing the file. He placed a hand on Felicity's shoulder. "I'll see you later, yeah?"
"Yeah," she nodded, watching as Roy tipped his head at Oliver, who returned the gesture.
"So," Laurel began, turning so that she was facing Oliver. "Are you here because you need Felicity's help for…certain vigilante-oriented activities? Because Ollie, if you'd just let me help –"
"Laurel," he interrupted smoothly, placing a hand at the crook of her elbow. He gave her a slow smile. "That's not what I'm here for. Relax," he said, voice lower. "I trust you."
Her brows furrowed. "Then why are you here?"
He smiled, shoving his hands in the pockets of his slacks. "I'm taking Felicity out for lunch." He tipped his head. "Ready to go?"
Felicity, ignoring the flush that was slowly but surely skimming her collarbone and across the length of her neck, grabbed her coat, and purse. "Yeah, give me a minute."
He held the door open for her, and she slipped past him, involuntarily catching the look of surprise on Laurel's face. "I'll see you later, Laurel," Oliver said. "You should stop by the foundry tonight, if you'd like."
Though her expression brightened, there was still a little confusion, and distinct traces of worry on her features. "Yeah," she replied. "I'd like that."
They stepped out of the precinct and Felicity could almost quell the guilt she felt when she glimpsed at the hurt swimming in Laurel's eyes.
She didn't have anything to worry about. It was lunch between friends, and nothing else.
At least, that's what she was going to keep telling herself, even as her heartbeat quickened at the feel of Oliver's warm hand on her back.
"So how's the job at Starling Bank?"
"What does that even mean?"
"It means it's fine, Felicity," Oliver indulged her.
Her eyes were sparkling over the rim of her wine glass. "Walter's tough on you isn't he?" she said knowingly.
He hesitated. "Maybe a little."
Oliver smiled as Felicity laughed, the corners of his eyes crinkling with exasperated amusement as he watched her. Walter had generously offered him a job at Starling Bank, and he was grateful. Making his own money, not having to rely on the power and history behind his name…it made for a nice change. It felt like he was actually deserving of the job.
Though it came with its fair share of challenges. He hadn't gone to college and – as Felicity had so astutely figured out – Walter wasn't exactly easy on him. Which he expected, and respected, even. He shouldn't have it easy, just because Walter had been his stepfather and that he'd given him the job.
"Hey," Oliver snapped out of his thoughts to see Felicity looking back at him with a tender smile gracing the edges of her rose-stained lips. "It'll get easier," she promised.
"I know," he said. Filled with an indescribable rush of emotion, he placed one hand on hers and squeezed it affectionately. "Thanks."
Her smile widened a little. "So how does it feel? Getting a steady paycheck, I mean?" she asked, as she resumed eating her food.
"Wouldn't know. Haven't gotten my first one yet," he quipped smartly, taking a sip of his own wine. "Why don't you tell me?"
"Cute," she said, swallowing a mouthful of salmon. "I would, but you won't even let me show you, what with you always paying."
Oliver looked affronted. "Just because I don't have money doesn't mean I can't treat you to lunch!"
Felicity opened her mouth, then closed it again, desperately trying to fight off a laugh. "You do realize you didn't make any sense there right?"
"That's not the point." He pointed his fork at her warningly, and Felicity couldn't resist shaking her head, laughing quietly.
"Oliver, we're friends. We should treat each other," she said.
A look suddenly passed over his face that Felicity couldn't really pinpoint. He shrugged. "I guess you're right."
His tone was off, and Felicity frowned. Was it something she'd said?
Just as she was about to open her mouth and ask just that question, Brett – one of the IT employees at SCPD – walked passed their table.
"Oh, hey Boss!" He greeted. "Are you heading back to the office right now?"
Felicity glanced back at Oliver, eyes wide. He simply gave her that little smile of his, and tipped his head in Brett's direction. "Yeah boss," he teased, though his amusement didn't reach his eyes. "You should go ahead."
She pressed her lips together, uncertain of how she should feel, of how things were between her and Oliver. "I…I guess I will," she murmured, gathering her purse and coat. "I'll see you later, Oliver." She looked up at him, hoping for a sign – anything that could possibly tell her that they were fine.
But his expression was closed off, his mask back on, and worst of all, she had no idea why. He nodded. "See you later, Felicity."
As they left, she wondered when she had become the recipient of Oliver Queen's – self-centered playboy and millionaire – smile.
Diggle walked Felicity into the precinct that morning, his brow knitted in faint worry. "Felicity, what's wrong?" he asked eventually.
"I don't know Dig, it's – it's Oliver," she sighed exasperatedly, running a hand through her hair. "I don't know what I did, but I think he's mad at me."
Diggle made a choked noise that sounded like a cross between a laugh and a snort. At Felicity's expression, he amended, "Felicity, that's crazy. Why would Oliver be mad at you?"
"I don't know," she moaned miserably, as they walked into her office. She threw her bag on a nearby chair and seated herself behind her desk. "He's been distant. Ever since yesterday."
Diggle raised an eyebrow. "What happened yesterday?" he humored her.
"We had lunch."
"Sounds like what you guys do every day."
Felicity chewed on a fingernail. "Except not. I think I must've said something that – that upset him. Somehow. He closed off Dig. I swear I'm not making this up."
"Okay," he replied, still sounding skeptical. "Why don't you tell me what happened?"
She did, and after a few tense moments, Diggle sighed. "I see."
"What? What do you see? Oh God, what did I do?" Felicity asked, putting both hands to her head, slumping miserably.
Diggle placed a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. "Relax, Felicity, it wasn't anything you did," he paused, and seemed to reconsider. "Well, not really?"
She wasn't following. "What do you mean?"
"Felicity, why do you think Oliver's been picking you up for lunch for three months – every day?"
Her eyebrows furrowed; Diggle had officially lost her. "Because we're friends?" she said, voice trailing off uncertainly.
Diggle's lips quirked. "Think harder."
"Because – I don't know, Dig! Why does Oliver do anything?" she huffed.
"Felicity," Diggle's voice snapped her to attention. He trained his eyes on her, his voice slow and deliberate. "Oliver likes you. He's been taking you out hoping you'd catch on."
She blinked. "What?"
"Evidently, you didn't," he whispered, voice loud enough for Felicity to hear. She flushed.
"What does that even mean? How does him taking me out to lunch means he likes me." She grimaced at the way she stumbled over the word 'like', as if that word in relation to her and Oliver was just too absurd of a thought.
"Think about it. What guy takes out a girl for lunch every day for three months, insists on paying even though he doesn't have a single dime to his name, and spends the entire hour fawning over her?"
If possible, she flushed even harder. "I wouldn't call it fawning," she murmured. "And he sure made it more obvious when he liked Sara, or McKenna, or Laurel. Can you blame me?"
"The only reason he wasn't was because it's you, Felicity," Diggle said. "You're incredibly special to Oliver – you know that. He cares about you, admires you, respects you. As an equal, as a partner…as a person in his life that's important to him."
Felicity nodded absently, finding herself thinking back on all those lunches, Oliver's hands, gliding over the small of her back, settling on her hand, the way his eyes were always soft and tender whenever he looked at her, how his smile always seemed to light up just so when she made him laugh –
She closed her eyes, trying to calm down the erratic beating of her heart. "Oh God," she whispered. She opened her eyes and faced Diggle. "How do I make this right?"
How do I say I feel the same way?
Diggle smiled. "How do you think?"
She walked into Starling Bank nervously, getting into an elevator and pressing the button to the floor Walter told her Oliver was working in.
She was surprised to see that the floor was a bullpen of sorts, composed entirely of cubicles. Felicity suppressed a smile – of course, Oliver was too new of an employee to deserve his own office. This would only make what she wanted to only slightly more awkward.
Strolling absently amongst the cubicles, she kept her eyes open for a certain cropped head of hair, and smiled – heart skipping a beat – when she spotted him, shoulders hunched over and posture stiff, hard at work.
Ignoring the rising anxiety and the sudden desire to flee, Felicity mustered up as much of her courage as she could, and dropped her bag on his desk, startling him.
He whirled around, expression murderous, before it morphed into one of confusion, and then one of careful impassion.
Felicity swallowed. "Hey," she said eventually.
Oliver sighed. "Felicity, what are you doing here?"
She picked up his left hand, and pointed at the watch adorning his wrist. "It's noon," was all she said.
Felicity watches as Oliver's eyes flooded with comprehension – and something akin to hope? Maybe the light was playing tricks on her eyes – and he leaned back in his seat, watching her carefully. "Yeah?"
"What, you can't tell time anymore?"
"I'm not sure where you're going with this is all," he replied, smartly ignoring the tease, his eyes focused intensely on her. Her hand was still enclosed around his wrist, she realized belatedly, and he was making no move to pull away.
He was going to make her work for it, was the next uncomfortable realization she made, as he stared at her expectantly. Of course he would. When did Oliver make anything easy for her?
When did you?
Felicity let out a breathy sigh. "I'm here to take you out for lunch," she said. Watching the blinding smile that suddenly appeared on his face, she raised an eyebrow. "Are you ready to go?"
"Most definitely," he replied, standing up. Maneuvering the hand around his wrist expertly (seriously, where did he learn to do that?) so that he was holding it and bringing it up to his lips. Oliver kissed her knuckles, smirking slightly at her sharp intake of breath. "Lead the way."
She did, and Oliver waited until they were outside of Starling Bank before he spun her around and kissed her, his hands cupping her face.
"What took you so long?" he asked after a few breathless kisses, his mouth a breadths apart from her own, eyes bright and blue. "I thought you were supposed to be smart."
She scratched at his cheek in mock offense. "Yeah well, give me more to work with than lunch dates. There is such a thing as being too subtle, Oliver Queen," she teased, even as he pressed her impossibly closer.
Oliver laughed, pressing his nose into the crook of her neck. "Well, I'm glad you caught on," he replied, leaning in to capture another kiss.
Felicity closed her eyes, twining her arms around his neck. If Oliver was going to keep kissing her like this, lunch could definitely wait.
Author's Note: Well everyone I hope you enjoyed this one-shot. I know it's long, and if you've made it through, please let me know what you think! It means the world to me :)
I've been playing a little bit with this concept for a while now – it started entirely on the premise of what if Oliver pursued Felicity? Most of us (myself included) sort of assume that Felicity is the one smitten, and the show has basically addressed this point in a couple of episodes (subtle as it may be). However, with the finale, the Russia and Barry Allen-centric episodes, we also know that Oliver cares for Felicity in some sort of expanded capacity that exceeds friendship. It's more in the way that, if let himself, he too would really care about her (see what I did there?). I just took that concept and nudged him in the right direction :)
Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed it! Apologies for the long author's note! I'd love to hear your thoughts/comments/opinions on this!