Author's Note: Well friends, this is it - the last chapter. I didn't realize that this would be the last one until I was writing it, but I really think this is where it ends. The characters are in a good place and where I want them to be. There will be an epilogue to address a few things that I want to address, but this is the last proper chapter. I hope that you guys have enjoyed the ride. Thank you so much for all of your reviews/favorites/follows - you all make this such a wonderful experience, and your support means the world to me! =)
Felicity stepped into the hospital room just as Oliver reached for his shirt. His back was to the door, and thus to her; she sucked in a sharp breath of air as her eyes fell on the now purple expanse of skin there. She crossed the room and thoughtlessly held out a hand to drag the pads of her fingers over the patchwork of bruises that stretched nearly from shoulder to hip. The touch was light and hesitant.
"Are you okay?" Her voice wasn't nearly as strong as she'd intended it to be.
"Just bruised," Oliver answered.
Felicity made no reply. She traced the ragged edge of mottled skin along his shoulder blade. In the three years that they had known each other, she'd seen Oliver with injuries that were ten times worse than extensive bruising and a mild concussion. And yet – emotionally speaking, this felt no different.
Maybe that was because she knew exactly how Oliver had gotten this injury; or maybe it was the memory of watching him sprint toward her. Maybe it was because Felicity could still remember the way her heart had stopped when she opened her eyes and found herself clutched in immobile arms that, for just a moment, she had feared would never move again.
Oliver turned his head to the side so that he could see her. Her fingers were raising goose bumps over his skin.
"Don't ever do that again."
"Felicity." Oliver let his shirt fall back on to the hospital bed and turned to face her.
Her hand was still raised and now hovered just inches above his bare chest. She stared at her hand, and his bare skin, for several seconds before raising her eyes to meet his.
"I mean it, Oliver. Promise me. Promise me you won't ever do something like that again."
Oliver slid an open palm over the back of her upraised hand and then pressed both of their hands against his chest. Her small hand was chilled, and rested directly over his heartbeat.
"I can't make that promise, Felicity. I won't."
She felt more than heard the steady rhythm of his heart beneath her hand. No, that wasn't a promise that Oliver would make, no matter how much she wanted him to.
I was there because you were there, Oliver's words echoed in her mind. I was running toward Felicity. Then, three words that felt as if they'd been uttered a lifetime ago: I love you.
The hand over hers curled inward. The pressure made her realize that she was staring at their hands again, so she looked up to find Oliver watching her.
He'd told her he loved her. Maybe he did, or didn't, or maybe he didn't mean it the way she wanted him to; none of those things changed the fact that she loved him – was in love with him – and that they'd almost been blown up today.
Oliver could have been willingly blown up because he had chosen to run toward her, instead of away.
The damn fool!
"Do it anyway."
"Do. It. Anyway. Promise …"
"Felicity," he interrupted, and then he was kissing her.
Oliver let go of the hand of hers against his chest so that he could frame her face with both of his hands. He kissed her with quiet passion, the fire of all that he'd tried to resist simmering beneath the insistent slide of his lips over hers.
Felicity's lips parted as she sighed against his mouth. Oliver took the opportunity to trace the swell of her bottom lip with his tongue; she curled her hand against his chest, her fingernails digging in to the skin there, and then slid her tongue over his.
"So is this going to be a thing now?"
Digg was standing in the doorway with both arms crossed over his chest.
Oliver and Felicity broke apart but they didn't move away from one another. When Oliver moved his attention to the other man, Digg gave him that barely there smirk he'd perfected.
"Thing?" Oliver repeated.
"Thing," Digg affirmed. "You know, where I'm apparently just going to keep walking in on you two kissing?"
Oliver glanced down at the woman in front of him. He was looking to her for guidance, because he honestly had no idea what to say to that.
Felicity cleared her throat. "Yeah, that's probably gonna keep happening."
Digg grinned. "Okay." He stepped over the threshold and withdrew the box of contacts from his coat pocket to offer them to Felicity. "I didn't see any contact solution, but I can get you some if you need it."
Felicity smiled and took the box from him. "I'm good. Thanks, Digg."
She extricated herself from Oliver reluctantly and excused herself to the bathroom. She heard Oliver asking about Roy as she slipped out of the room and down the hall to the bathroom.
The temporary solitude was good for her. Felicity used it to mentally run through the events of the last several hours as she put in her contacts: almost blown up, check; saved by her own personal hero, check; and kissed (or been kissed by) Oliver twice in as many hours, check. Not to mention that she had just apparently told Digg that she and Oliver were in a relationship. Right? Is that what they'd just agreed on, in not so many words?
Well, she'd told Digg that the kissing thing was going to keep happening, and she knew what she'd meant by that, but did Oliver? Felicity wasn't against casual, no strings attached kissing, but that was not an option with Oliver. All of her strings were involved at this point, and they all led back to that oh-so-important muscle in her chest. There was nothing casual about their kisses.
When Felicity made it back to Oliver's hospital room it was to find Digg gone.
"He's waiting outside," Oliver explained before she asked. "Ready?"
She nodded wordlessly but didn't move.
"You okay?" Oliver queried as he walked over to her.
"Just, so we're clear. When I said that the kissing thing was gonna be a, well, a thing, I meant … I mean … I just want to be sure that your thing and my thing are the same thing."
Felicity furrowed her brow. That had sounded decidedly less sensible and articulate than she'd hoped.
"Hey," Oliver said quietly, reaching out to slide a hand up the back of her arm. "We're whatever you want us to be. No pressure, no rush."
"Are you sure? Because I want a relationship, Oliver, and if you're not ready -."
"I'm ready. I'm yours, Felicity. If you want me."
She studied his face. He was looking at her the way he had that night in the mansion, and the morning he'd pulled her against his chest and massaged her shoulders; and she believed him.
"Good," she said with a decisive nod. She rose up on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his lips. "Let's go."
"You have a concussion, Oliver."
"A mild concussion, Diggle."
"Still a concussion."
"I'm not letting another night pass without doing anything to catch this guy!"
"I'm not asking you to."
"Really? Because that's what it sounds like," Oliver snapped.
"That's because you're choosing not to listen," Diggle retorted.
"All right!" Felicity interjected. She stood up from her chair and moved into the space between the two men. "Arguing isn't going to get us anywhere."
"Obviously," Roy muttered from across the room.
Felicity glared at him. He shrugged carelessly.
"The kid and I can handle this, Oliver."
"Would you stop calling me a kid?" Roy was clearly irritated.
Diggle ignored him.
"That's not the point, Diggle." Oliver's tone was terse and he clenched his jaw.
Digg recognized it as a tell, and he took his usual course of action whenever he perceived one of Oliver's tells: he pushed. "What is the point, Oliver?"
Oliver tried not to grind his teeth in frustration. Damn John Diggle and his penchant for making everything difficult, and for pushing him until he said whatever it was he was trying not to.
"This man is leaving bombs all over the city," Oliver ground out. He was trying hard not to lose his temper. "He's killed three people already. I should have gone after him last night, but I didn't, and today he almost blew up my …" Oliver bit off the end of the sentence. His eyes automatically fell from Digg's face to Felicity's.
Felicity put a steadying hand on his bicep.
He took a deep breath and looked first to Roy, then back to Digg. "We're a team, Diggle. We go together, or not at all."
Digg let out a heavy sigh after several moments of silence. His arms, which he had crossed over his chest, dropped to hang loosely at his sides.
"We'll get the van," Digg finally said, motioning for Roy to head for the stairs.
"Thank you," Oliver replied.
"I'll get my tablet," Felicity piped up. She spun back to the computer table to grab what she needed.
Oliver had turned his attention to the woman who was now sweeping up her various electronic devices, and so did not see the way Digg ushered Roy quickly up the stairs and out of the room.
"I'm coming with you," Felicity said in her most matter-of-fact tone.
"You said it yourself, Oliver. We're a team. Together, or not at all. Great sentiment, by the way. That could be our catchphrase: Team Arrow – together, or not at all. We should have t-shirts made."
Oliver ignored the babble in favor of putting both hands on her tiny shoulders. His thumbs brushed once over the material of her sleeves. "Felicity -."
"I'm going with you, Oliver," she cut him off. "If that house is rigged to blow and it has any kind of closed circuit trigger, then I will be there to do something about it."
"Don't you think one close call is enough for the day?"
"Yes, I do. Enough for the whole year, actually, but we both know that's not how this works. That guy is still out there, and I want to catch him. His next victims might not be lucky enough to walk away, Oliver. So we're gonna go fight the good fight, and get this guy off the streets, and then our little mob family is gonna come home – safe. Together."
Felicity watched one corner of his mouth pull up into a smile. His hands were still on her shoulders, but his face was getting closer. Her heart was spinning like a top in her chest.
"Mafia family," he corrected quietly. "Not mob. Remember?"
"Whatever," Felicity whispered. Her eyes flicked down to his lips.
Oliver kissed her tenderly. The hands on her shoulders glided carefully up the column of her throat and came to rest along her jawline. When he pulled away, his hands stayed where they were.
"Don't fight me on this, Oliver," she murmured. Her eyes traced the angles of his face before returning to his eyes.
"I won't apologize for wanting to keep you safe, Felicity."
She opened her mouth to protest, but was silenced prematurely by the delivery of another quick kiss.
"But I won't argue. This time."
"One battle at a time," Felicity quipped brightly. "Now let's go clean up the city."
Oliver masked his grin with a sigh. He was less than happy about this situation, but it was hard to resist smiling when confronted with Felicity Smoak; whom he now had the privilege of kissing whenever he pleased. He was definitely going to enjoy getting used to that particular development.
Oliver grabbed his bow on the way to the stairs. Felicity was already busy tapping away on her tablet, ascending the stairs with mindless ease. Watching her only intensified the feeling of correctness that had blossomed in Oliver's breast; Felicity belonged here, and she belonged with him.
The lair was more than a basement, or a hideout for a vigilante: this was their home. This was the place that lost souls found each other, the place where they learned to trust and forgive and grow. This was where his family was forged, and where they belonged.
Together, or not at all; indeed.