She didn't even think about it before she did it. It came that naturally to her.
Oliver was having a rough night. Everything that day, from the continuing struggle to regain his family's company to the thugs he and Dig had prevented from holding Starling General hostage had reminded him of all the things he usually worked so hard to ignore.
Things like losing his mom. His sister's disappearance. The fact that he was now, in fact, destitute and reliant on Dig and Felicity's kindness for a couch to crash on at night.
Felicity, of course, saw that he was hurting even as he snapped at her for the innocent question she'd just asked him. Instead of snapping back or retreating to leave him to sulk in peace, Felicity had stepped up to where he sat slumped in his chair in their new lair. She knelt in front of him and put her arms around him, trying to lend him whatever comfort she could.
A shuddering breath left him and she heard a murmured, "Thank you," as he returned the hug. His arms banded around her, holding her to him and she reveled in the feeling of his hands against her back.
The warm embrace was so nice, that she completely forgot this sort of intimacy wasn't normal for them. Affection swarmed her as she drew back and pressed a kiss to his cheek without even thinking about it. It was only Oliver's sharp intake of breath and the way his intent gaze snapped to hers that clued her in at last.
This wasn't them, this wasn't their relationship. Sure, she kissed Dig on the cheek sometimes but he was like a big brother to her and Oliver… wasn't. What he was was something neither of them had wanted to explore too closely since that moment in the empty Queen mansion several months ago.
Blushing, Felicity drew back and got to her feet. Without a word, she went back to her computers to complete the searches she was running, studiously not looking at Oliver for at least the next thirty minutes.
But it didn't escape her notice that his mood improved significantly the rest of the night.
The next time, it was Oliver that initiated it and it was Felicity that was having a hard day. There was no huge reason for her funk besides it had been a long day and and even longer week. She hadn't been sleeping very well, up half the night with insomnia. She'd had stress at work, stress with their nighttime activities (her computers had been acting up, not wanting to run the proper upgrades), and now she was at her breaking point.
All Oliver did was tap a few keys on the keyboard when one of her computers beeped, and Felicity flew off the handle.
"Never, and I mean NEVER touch my computers, Oliver! What are you thinking!?" she cried. Oliver's eyes grew round. This must be her 'loud voice' that he'd heard so much about. He'd thought he'd heard it before but apparently, those times were just a warm up to the main event.
"Felicity, it was just saying that the update was done installing, that's all."
She stepped up to him, jamming a finger in his chest. "NEVER. I don't ask for a lot, Oliver. Frankly, I put up with a lot of crap around here, mostly from you."
Oliver put his hands on her shoulders, trying to settle her. "I know that, Felicity. And I do appreciate it. We all do."
She sighed and her shoulders bowed. "I just… I need something I can still control."
He understood that better than anyone, probably. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to infringe."
"I know. I'm sorry for flipping out."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Nah, I don't want to bother you. Nothing important, just a long week."
"Felicity, you could never bother me. Or Diggle. We all have bad weeks, we all gotta give each other some slack."
Felicity smiled gratefully. "Thanks, I needed to hear that." Then she reached around him, pressing herself to him in a hug and Oliver felt warmth suffuse him at the contact with her. There was little that soothed him more than one of Felicity's hugs. He wanted to be able to provide her with that same sort of comfort, after all, she was the one who needed it tonight, not him.
"Felicity?" he said.
"Hmm?" She drew her head back and looked up at him, her eyelashes fluttering as though she'd just noticed how close their faces were.
Oliver didn't stop to question whether this was a good idea or not. He simply leaned down and pressed his lips to her forehead. He inhaled the scent of her shampoo, the warmth of her skin under his lips. She stilled in his arms. There was just a moment where he allowed himself to enjoy this, the intimacy, the comfort and the presence of her in his arms.
Then, he released her and stepped back. "Feel better now?" he asked.
Her cheeks were flushed pink. She nodded jerkily. "Y-yeah. Much better."
"Why don't you call it a night. Go on home, have a pint of mint chip, watch a movie. You've earned a little time to yourself," Oliver suggested.
Felicity smiled at him gratefully. "I think I will. Thanks, Oliver."
"My pleasure," he murmured as he watched her scoop up her jacket and her purse from the table and head to the door. The truth was, after that contact, he knew he had to get her out of there and away from him before he did something he'd regret later.
They were hunting down a new threat, a guy who went by the name "Seth" but he had a different name on the streets. He'd popped up in the last few months, circulating amongst the drug culture in Starling City. Felicity had been keeping an eye on him, trying to assess the threat he presented. Until the other day, he'd been mostly harmless.
That was before former drug addicts, people who had suffered through recovery in the wake of Slade's attack on the city, were being arrested for possession, for dealing, being admitted to the hospital for overdoses and in several heartbreaking cases, in the city morgue.
After the Undertaking, when the Glades had literally fallen, many disenfranchised people had turned to drugs to help them cope with the struggle of their new existence without home, family, work… With all the other problems the city had faced, the rising drug problem had been easily overlooked.
Then Slade had taken the city hostage and during that brief but violent war, the supply of drugs in Starling City had faced a steep drop-off. Many of the drug dealers had been turned into super soldiers, and those that hadn't been had gotten caught in the crossfire. When the dust settled, a few suppliers were left and were anxious to capitalize on their unexpected monopoly of the city's drug addiction.
However, the knowledge that the destruction had come at the hands of ordinary people who had been, for lack of a better term, drugged up, had rattled a great number of people. There'd been a huge push in the months after that fateful night to get clear of drug addiction. Recovery centers had sprung up overnight to help addicts get clean. The turn out had been amazing, surprising everyone. The decline in drug use in Starling City had been something that its residents could finally take pride in.
Until Seth showed up. He had a new drug that he somehow had managed to get distributed to large quantities of people without them knowing. It reminded Felicity an awful lot of the last time they'd seen the Count, but ten times worse. Not that the drug was lethal, but what it seemed to be causing.
Drug use was sharply on the rise, families were being torn apart and erratic behavior filled the police scanners. Team Arrow had been there every step of the way, helping the police deal with the immediate threats while Felicity tried to make rhyme or reason out of what was going on.
It was a rainy night and the whole team was out on the streets, tracking down a lead. Oliver and Diggle had this brilliant plan where they were going to try to infiltrate where they suspected Seth and his posse where holed up. Felicity had waited in the van, parked in an alley down the street, running surveillance on the bugs Diggle and Oliver were planting. Everything was going great until Seth figured out that the two new guys weren't supposed to be there. He'd had his goons rough Dig up, toss him out on to the street, while he'd dealt with Oliver himself. He'd forced Oliver to drink a concoction of some sort before beating him nearly senseless. Felicity had been beside herself, listening helplessly to the fracas over the comms.
Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer. She leapt out of the van and hurried towards where she knew her boys were. The rain was coming down hard and she could barely see but she made out the figures of Diggle and Oliver just down the street. Dig had his arm around Oliver, helping him stagger towards where the van was parked. Both men were limping and from what Felicity could see, had blood dripping down their faces.
She caught up with them, her arms going around Oliver's other side. "I've got him," she told Dig. "You go get the van."
Dig gave her a nod as he limped quickly towards the alley. Felicity leaned Oliver against the brick wall they were standing next to and began to search him for injuries.
"Are you okay, Oliver? What did he make you drink?" she asked, pawing at his chest, noting when he would wince. Bruised ribs, most likely.
"Felicity," he breathed, weaving even as he stood against the wall. "You're beautiful."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Oliver. Focus. What did Seth give you? What's his game?"
"Don't know." He shrugged. But then he pulled a small container out of the lining of his jacket. "But I took a bit with me."
Felicity grabbed it from him and squealed. "Perfect! Great work, Oliver! I'll get this sent to S.T.A.R. Labs right away for analysis." She pocketed the container in her own pocket and then wrapped her arms around him in a celebratory hug.
Oliver stumbled a little, leaned against her and he made a noise in his throat. Felicity pulled back to study his face, thinking she'd hurt him. He smiled at her dopily, a warm hand coming up to cup her cheek. "Beautiful," he murmured again. Then, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.
Felicity was so surprised that she couldn't even react at first. Oliver was kissing her. His mouth was pressed to hers, lips working, trying to coax hers into reciprocation. His arms enfolded her to his chest. The rain pelted around them but Felicity could barely feel the stinging, cold drops any longer. She did, however, feel the moisture on his lips, on his cheeks, on his hands as they grabbed at her hips.
She sank into the kiss, moaning a little as his tongue licked along her lips, begging entrance. She opened to him, deepening the kiss and he groaned into her mouth as he continued to kiss her.
The sharp honk of a horn brought her back to her senses. Felicity sprang away from Oliver, causing him to nearly slump to the wet pavement. The horn was Dig come to get them and he was rounding the front of the van with a disapproving look on his face. She blushed to the roots of her hair as she turned back to help hold Oliver up. He was still smiling at her, his lips smeared with the bright pink of her lipstick.
"I don't know what happened, Dig, he just—" she started to say but the other man just held up a hand.
"Just get in the van, Felicity. I'll take care of the big guy."
Still feeling like a chastised schoolgirl, Felicity tucked herself into the passenger seat of the van while Diggle maneuvered Oliver into the back. It had to be whatever Seth had made him drink. She had to get this sample to Caitlin Snow as soon as possible.
"Think of it like your favorite hamburgers," Caitlin Snow was saying over the phone to Felicity several hours later. She'd just called with the results of the analysis of the drug Oliver had been dosed with and Felicity was having a hard time understanding what Caitlin was saying. "When you're dieting, you can walk past your favorite burger joint and want to go inside and eat one, but you have the willpower to tell yourself no."
Felicity's stomach growled, reminding her it'd been hours since she'd last ate. "You're making me hungry, Caitlin. Get to the point?"
"I'm trying to. Now listen. The chemical compound in this stuff messes with that willpower. Essentially, it makes it so that when you walk past that burger joint, you can no longer say no. All the reasons you have for dieting, for watching what you eat, for not indulging in hamburgers at all, goes straight out the window. You go in and help yourself… maybe not even to one burger but several. The effects seem to be quite powerful."
Felicity had figured out that the concoction Seth had created was being released into certain portions of the city's water supply, particularly targeting those areas where most of the former drug addicts lived. It answered how the drug was being distributed and what Caitlin was saying, sure did explain why people who had been employing willpower to stay off drugs were suddenly falling off the wagon with no other obvious stimulus.
"So this is just a way to put the drug suppliers back in business in Starling City?" Felicity surmised.
"Sounds like it. Pretty ingenious, actually."
Another thought occurred to her. "But wait. There's not been a lot of new blood on the scene. Meaning that this seems to mostly effect those who had been addicted to drugs before."
"Correct. What this does is remove that will to 'just say no'. If someone doesn't already want to take drugs, its not going to suddenly give them that craving. That person will just, well, go for the burger. Or whatever else they've been denying themselves."
Oh, God. "Wait, are you telling me that I'm Oliver's Double Belly Buster with Cheese and Bacon?" Felicity cried into the phone.
"What? What are you talking about?" Caitlin asked.
"Nevermind," Felicity said, her mind racing. "Thanks, Caitlin. You've been a great help."
Felicity hung up and leaned back in her chair. She looked over to the couch, where Oliver was still sleeping off the effects of the sedation Diggle had given him as soon as they'd returned to the lair. Not before he'd tried to kiss her again, though.
She'd convinced herself that the drug caused people to act erratic, almost like a souped up alcohol. That was the only reason she could think of why Oliver would kiss her like that. The only explanation that made the least amount of sense to her was that he hadn't known what he was doing, or with who.
But with what Caitlin had said, it was clear that Oliver wasn't just acting erratically, he was simply giving in to what he wanted to do anyhow. He'd just denied himself that impulse for… whatever reason.
As she continued to watch him sleep, Felicity remembered the kiss, remembered the way she'd reacted and responded to him and wondered. They were going to have to have a talk.
A week or so after the incident with Seth, Oliver had reached the end of his rope with Felicity. She was acting differently with him and he didn't know whether to be annoyed with her or upset with himself. It was because of what he'd done under the influence of Seth's drug that she was acting like this. But it wasn't as though he could have helped himself and her reaction made him worry that she didn't feel the same attraction to him that he did for her.
Of course, all he had to do was remember the way she'd relaxed against him, the way she'd begun to kiss him back, opening her mouth to him and sighing around his tongue… Oh yes, the attraction was mutual. Which meant that she felt uncomfortable about how things stood between them now. And since she clearly wasn't going to be initiating a conversation, it was on his shoulders. Their partnership, their friendship was too important to ruin over this.
So he cornered her at her townhouse. She'd stopped off there after work to change before heading out to the lair for Arrow activities, just like she did most nights. He waited on her front steps for her to come out and didn't have to wait too long. That was Felicity; always punctual.
She saw him as soon as she stepped out her front door. "Oliver! What are you doing here? Did something happen? Is Dig okay?" she asked, rushing over to him.
Oliver got to his feet and faced her. "Dig's fine. I'm here to talk to you."
"Oh." She looked down, fidgeting with the strap on her purse. "Couldn't it have waited till I got to the lair?"
"I wanted to talk to you alone. About what happened last week."
"Felicity… I need to know you're okay with this. That this isn't going to affect… us." Oliver couldn't bear it if his lapse in willpower ruined what they had. Their relationship was one of the most important things in his life, romantic involvement or not.
"Oliver, listen, I know how the drug worked," Felicity began, biting her lower lip as she paused. "Caitlin Snow from S.T.A.R. Labs explained it to me."
"Okay." Where was she going with this?
"She told me it didn't cloud your judgement, but that it removed your willpower so that you would do something you already wanted to do. She used a hamburger analogy."
"Hamburger analogy?" Now he was really confused.
Felicity waved a hand in the air impatiently. "Not important. See, Oliver, I thought you kissed me because you were out of your mind. I thought you didn't know what you were doing. But she made it sound like… maybe you were doing something you really wanted to do but normally talked yourself out of."
Oliver swallowed, his mouth having suddenly gone completely dry. She was completely right, of course. He'd wanted to kiss Felicity for so long now that he'd lost count of the months. That desire had only grown and strengthened the longer he knew her, the more he knew about her. She was a beautiful, vibrant young woman full of life and love and light and he craved her and her influence like he'd never craved anything else before in his life. But there were a billion and one reasons not to kiss her, namely being she was safer without him. She deserved better than a broken man like himself.
"Is that what happened, Oliver?" Felicity prompted, placing a hand on his arm and bringing him back to the conversation.
He nodded jerkily. "Yeah. I'm sorry, Felicity. I've tried to… For so long I told myself that I couldn't go there with you."
Felicity's grey-blue eyes were wide behind her glasses. "Why can't you?"
"Because if you're gonna feed me some crap about how its better to not be with me because of the life you lead, I've got news for you. I lead that life too, regardless of whether we have feelings for each other or not." The color was up on her cheeks and her eyes were snapping.
"You deserve so much better," he tried again.
"I'll decide what I deserve, thank you very much," she replied with a sniff. "And what if I decide I deserve you?"
Oliver shifted uncertainly, rubbing his fingers together, feeling a little off balance in this conversation. "Do you?"
"I think maybe I do," she said. She stepped a little closer, moving her hand from his arm to his shoulder, curling her fingers into his skin. "Especially after that kiss."
"Yeah?" A smile fought its way onto his face and he shifted himself closer to her. He put a hand on her waist, holding her there and enjoying the way that felt.
"Oh, yeah. That was a good kiss."
It was a good kiss. She made a compelling argument, but… "Felicity, I don't want to ruin your life."
"It's already been ruined, Oliver. And I wouldn't change a thing," she promised him. Her gaze flitted to his lips and he felt a surge of heat blast through him.
"Neither would I. I'm not strong enough to push you out of my life, Felicity."
"Then stop pushing," she murmured, rising up on her tip toes and rubbing her nose alongside his, her breath brushing against his cheek. Oliver fought back a gasp.
He pushed, but not away. He was done doing that. His lips came crashing down on hers and this time, Felicity responded to the kiss instantly, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck. Oliver pressed his hands into her back, holding her against him as he kissed her, reveled in her scent and taste. He stroked his tongue into her mouth, growling at the needy mewl she made. He'd dreamed of doing this for so long, that to finally feel like he could was almost more than he could take.
They stood on her porch, necking like teenagers until Felicity's phone buzzed with a text from Diggle. He was at the lair, waiting for them with the takeout from Big Belly Burger he'd picked up, demanding to know where they were.
The two of them lay tangled together, legs twisted with legs, arms wrapped around each other, sighing contentedly into the dark of Felicity's bedroom. The moon was full, spilling through the gauzy curtains and across the bed, illuminating their figures. Felicity pressed soft kisses along the sweaty planes of Oliver's chest. His brain was still hazy with the after effects of his orgasm and she was panting softly, trying to regain herself.
"I am so glad that we waited to do that," she murmured between kisses.
Oliver's fingers stroked lightly along the soft skin of her shoulder. "I'm glad you are. I'm still not sure how I made it. Two months, Felicity. You made me wait two months."
Felicity snickered softly. "I wanted us to have time to get to know each other as a proper couple," she explained. "I know your old track record, mister. I didn't want us to flame out before a week had passed."
He grimaced at that. Oliver had a difficult time thinking of Felicity in those terms, possibly because she was unlike anyone else he'd ever been involved with. It would be like comparing MIT to preschool. It wasn't that he thought less of those women now, but he thought so much of Felicity that the way he regarded her, both now and even before he'd finally allowed himself to enter a relationship with her, that it felt strange to try to draw a comparison.
"Felicity, that was never a possibility," he told her. "You are different. You and I are different."
"And you are different. I know that." She pushed up on his shoulders, making him grunt, so she could move up and drop a kiss onto his mouth. Her hair, falling in loose waves, fell around them like a curtain, enveloping them with the sweet scent of her shampoo.
"Waiting to make love to you was torture," he said when she lifted her head. "And you didn't make it any easier on me. I swear, you wore all those short, tight skirts on purpose, just to toy with me."
Felicity's smirk looked sexier than any expression had a right to. "I just wanted to make sure you were looking, that you were still interested."
With a growl, Oliver suddenly flipped their positions, so Felicity was flat on her back with her hair spilling over the pillow while he loomed over her. "Interested is too mild a word for how I felt."
"Are you saying you didn't like all those little dates we went on? Lunch in the park, dinner on the rooftop, motorcycle ride in the canyon, star gazing from the hills overlooking the city? All those long, long talks about how we grew up and what we hope for the future?" She quirked an eyebrow at him, her eyes dancing with affection and mirth.
Oliver thought back over the last two months and knew she had a good point. Felicity always had a good point. He'd thought he knew everything about her but all that had been just the tip of the iceberg. She knew the sound of her squeal of delight as he took a hard corner on his motorcycle, her arms tight around his chest and her thighs squeezing his hips. He knew the wishes she made when she blew on dandelion fluff. He knew the nickname she'd had as a kid growing up and how she both loved and hated the inside of a Vegas casino. He knew how many kids she wanted to have some day and what her favorite names were.
God help him, he loved her more for it. All that intimacy built between them during that time had made tonight, the night where he and Felicity finally made love for the first time, so much more special and amazing. Though he'd never admit that out loud. No, if she knew she was right, there'd be no living with.
Shit. He wanted to live with her.
One thing at a time. They had plenty of time to discuss the whole "living together" situation. Though he supposed he pretty much lived with her already, considering he had a permanent drawer in her guest room.
Instead of answering her, Oliver leaned down and brushed his lips over hers. Felicity stilled, letting him caress her face with his mouth, angling her face for where she wanted him to kiss her next. Before long, she was giggling and Oliver could feel his heart twisting in his chest, expanding and aching with all the affection he held for her.
"I love you," he blurted.
Felicity stopped her squirming and giggling and stared at him. "You what?"
"I love you."
She peered over his shoulder at the darkened room beyond. "Is Slade watching us? Is my room bugged?"
He gave her a dry look and she cracked a smile.
"Felicity, I'm being serious."
"I know you are."
"And I was serious that night too. I didn't quite know how serious I was, but I meant it when I said it. I just— mean it so much more now."
Felicity's eyes softened and she arched up to press her lips to his in the sweetest kiss Oliver had ever had. She sighed into his mouth and he kissed her tenderly, leisurely, just enjoying the taste and feel and texture of her mouth. He kissed her as though he could keep kissing her like this forever.
"I love you too, Oliver," she replied when she pulled away, her eyes shining brightly.
His smile grew until he felt like it was to crack open his whole face. He'd never been so completely happy in all his life. For quite a long time, Oliver had believed he wasn't worthy of being happy ever again, much less happier than ever before. Shit, he still thought he wasn't worthy. Never in a million years would he ever be worth of Felicity or the promise for the future she gave to him.
But he'd never stop trying to earn that privilege.