Title: A Case of Identity
Word Count: 6380
Full Summary: *Felicity Smoak needs a challenging puzzle to solve. She never expected to get distracted by the biggest mystery of her life. Oliver Queen needs a little help from someone smart. He never expected to find it in the heart of the Glades.* Oliver and Felicity meeting for the first time, but with a few vendettas, murder mysteries, and disappearing acts thrown in. And Barry in a turtleneck.
Disclaimer: If I owned Arrow, the fandom would have kicked me off the show already for this work alone. Clearly I don't own it.
Notes: I HAVE NO IDEA. I THINK I KNEW ONCE, BUT I WAS SO WRONG. AND I DON'T THINK I'LL EVER KNOW AGAIN. Seriously, I'm getting tired of my own brain. I just started brainstorming for TA and *waves hands* this happened. I've had the book Cinder on the brain, so I sort of ended up writing some parallels. And the rest of this I blame on Netflix; I've been watching the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and maybe I've seen The Spanish Cape Mystery too many times. And I don't even know where Felicity's semi-backstory came from. It just popped up.
ALSO, I THINK I JUST TURNED BARRY ALLEN INTO WHIP CHATTERLY, AND I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE WHY. *waves everything away* This is it, guys. I'm done. I've gone bonkers, jumped off the deep end, went crazy as a bessie bug. Goodbye, friends, I'm done. I'm so sorry for forcing this upon you. But it got written, so it'll get posted, too. So feel free to tell me I'm insane in a comment/review, or even to read this, think, "God, she's weird," and then promptly hit the back button. Either way, much appreciated. :P
The last thing Felicity expects when she wakes up in the morning is the delight she receives. She expects a boring, bland day of playing with computers, and, for the most part, that's what she receives. The most exciting thing to her day is an executive who brings in a laptop riddled with viruses—caused by the obvious reasons. It does make for an awkward conversation when she starts it back up to find an Internet browser full of porn, but it does give her the opportunity to say, "Oh, and delete your Internet history," in a British accent.
But her day takes a turn for the unexpected when she's at lunch. She spends her lunch hour doing online logic problems while eating food scrounged from her refrigerator. She's always been a bit of a loner, so she likes the solitude of eating alone. And she nearly jumps out of her chair when a voice says from behind her, "Felicity Smoak?"
Even before she turns, she's intrigued. His voice is quiet and polite, but a little rusty from disuse, as though he doesn't do much talking. His tone is firm, but just hesitant enough that the question is evident in his tone. When she swivels her chair around to look at him, she finds herself even more intrigued. He looks like a fighter or a soldier, with short-cropped hair and stubble around his jaw. Scars litter all the exposed skin she can see; there's one through his right eyebrow, one under his lip, and along his jawline that's nearly hidden by the beginnings of a beard. His nose doesn't sit quite right through the bridge, as though it's been broken without a doctor to set it. His eyes are brilliantly blue, gentle despite the ferocity of the rest of his appearance. He's also in casual clothes—jeans and a long-sleeved shirt—instead of the suit-and-tie getup most of the people in the company wear.
She slides a hand out to grab a pen, but ends up knocking over her soda instead. She frowns as she tries to pick it up. "Damn it!" she huffs, picking up pieces of spilled ice as she throws napkins over the mess before looking up at her visitor. "Not damn-it-why-are-you-in-my-office," she adds quickly, "but damn-it-I-spilled-my-soda. I didn't mean to swear at you." She corrects herself by saying, "Well, I didn't swear at you—I just swore in your general vicinity. You were here, I spilled my soda, and—" And he's staring at her with the beginnings of a smile playing at his mouth, and she realizes she's just been rambling about profanity and beverages to a complete stranger. "And you did not come here to listen to me babble," she concludes. "Which will end in three... two... one." She takes a deep breath, forces a smile on her face. "Yes, I'm Felicity."
"I'm—" he starts, but she doesn't let him finish.
Probably no one would be able to recognize that face after so long and so many changes, but Felicity has an eidetic memory and frankly astounding facial recall. "Oliver Queen," she breathes, finishing his sentence for him.
To say that Oliver Queen has been a mystery to the press of late would be an understatement. A few weeks ago, the heir to the billion-dollar Queen fortune had been found on an island in the North China Sea after their ship went down. Everyone else had been confirmed deceased, but Oliver had returned to Starling City after five years stranded on an island. But, when he had been admitted to the hospital, he simply vanished before they could get more than a name on his record. No one knew where he'd gone or why he wouldn't stay, but he had, to every one's best estimation, simply walked out of the hospital. Apparently if there's one thing Oliver Queen is good at, Felicity thinks wryly, it's disappearing.
He winces, and the kind-of-smile goes back in place afterward. "Maybe we could"—he glances around the space once, even though Felicity was once important enough to merit an office they never revoked—"avoid using full names?" He must think that, if he flashes her that debonair smile, she'll immediately cave to his wishes. "Call me Oliver."
She allows it this time, but only because she's suitably fascinated by him. "What can I do for you, Oliver?" she asks, showing she's going to comply for now. It's not particularly that she's docile—God knows that's a word that isn't often used to describe her—but more that she enjoys the challenge. And he's most certainly the best challenge she's had all day.
He holds up a particularly battered laptop as evidence of his visit. "I'm having some trouble with my computer," he admits with that same fake smile, "and I remember my father saying that, if I ever needed technical assistance, you were the person to see."
Her first response to that is a series of rapid blinks, but then she blurts, "We weren't sleeping together." It causes an odd, squinty look to fall over Oliver's features, and she can only attribute that to confusion. She puts a hand to her head, groaning. "God, my brain hates me." She shakes her head. "What I was trying to say," she continues with a particularly violent hand gesture, "is that, for the record, Robert and I weren't well, Robert and I." She frowns. "It seems to be the general consensus around here, you know. He recruited me out of college five years ago himself, and—God rest his soul—he was known as a bit of a rounder." She chuckles bitterly. "So I'm automatically trying to work my way up the ladder the old-fashioned way because I'm female." She crosses her arms. "So, just for the record, he was my boss, he was my friend, and I was his 'special project'—that's what he called me. That's it—nothing more."
"Good to know," he replies after a very long beat, laying the laptop down on the edge of her desk, and now her eyes bulge at the poor heap that might have once been a computer. His response to her expression is a very stoic, "I was at my coffee shop, surfing the web, and I spilled a latte on it."
"Really?" she replies dryly, not buying it for a second, and she runs a pink fingernail across one of the divots in the laptop's surface. "Because, Oliver, these look very much like bullet holes." He gives her another fake smile, so she make sure her expression is as serious as possible. "And I grew up in the Glades, so I've seen my fair share of bullet holes." She examines them again. "These look like thirty-eights. Sure, it could be three-fifty-sevens, depending on how far the shooter was when they fired, but I doubt Dirty Harry frequents your coffee shop."
"My coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood," he replies easily, and she throws him a surely-you-can't-be-serious look, throwing her head over to one side. The smile he gives her then is serious, reaching his eyes, and it's a pretty nice smile for a guy that looks like he's lost a fight with a lawnmower in the past five years. "Anyway," he says with a partial, breathy chuckle, "if there's anything you could salvage from it, I would really appreciate it." She hesitates because she's not sure if she's really going to do this or not. (She has her own brand of crazy—her own problems—and, really, that's plenty for her without bringing his obviously elevator-does-not-reach-the-top into it.) "I can pay you," he adds quietly.
It's that one sentence that does it. There's too much defeat there, as if he thinks she's going to tell him to take it down to the local Best Buy and hope they don't balk at the magazine unloaded into the damn thing. She sighs in fatigue. "I don't want your money, Oliver" she states flatly. "If I did, I know where enough bodies are buried that I could have pulled every cent away from your family five years ago." She points to the chair outside her station. "Pull up a chair—we're going to be a while."
He does as she asks, sitting far too close for her liking. But she can't help but wonder what the hell happened to Oliver Queen on that island. Gone is the man who spent most of his time high, wasted, or womanizing; in is place is a man who's known war, probably torture, and definitely Hell. This is a man who once had everything, only to lose it all in one very high-risk gamble. And, well, maybe Felicity relates far too well. Only she started out with nothing, gained everything, and lost it all again.
"What happened to you?" he asks, making her jump because it's the question she wants desperately to ask him. "My father said you were in charge of Software Development, not working in half an office of the IT Department."
She frowns over the computer, trying to pull the hard drive out of the damaged casing. "Well," she says dryly, her voice flat, "as the Coldplay song goes, I used to rule the world, but now I sweep the streets I used to own." She looks back to find him staring at her blankly, and she rolls her eyes. "Not good with metaphors, huh? Short version is that I was Robert's pet project, and, when he died and your mother ended up in control of a Fortune 500 company, her first act was to have me demoted—for no reason other than she thought I was just another of his whores." She winces as she realizes she's talking to the man's son, and he probably doesn't want to remember his father like that. "Don't get me wrong. Robert was an amazing man—and I was fond of him—but all great men have vices. His was a pretty girl in a skirt. "
She sighs. "The point is, I make half of what I used to, work twice as hard as I had to, pull overtime I don't get paid for—and all because Hell hath no fury like a woman with a misguided vendetta."
He's quiet for a very long moment—so long that she stops to look back at him, ensuring he hasn't left. She doesn't expect that level of sympathy from Oliver Queen, and it's only when he has her full attention that he asks quietly, "Why didn't you leave?"
She doesn't tell him that she still has feelings for his father's company, that she has hope for Walter Steele, despite the fact he's easily manipulated by the women in his life. But what she finally does say is, "Because I quit this job when I quit this job. Moira Queen is not going to run me off before I'm ready." And she doesn't add, When I'm ready, I'm going to walk away with every cent your family owns, and I'm going to sit back and watch as this company goes up in flames.
Because Moira Queen might be a force to be reckoned with, but Felicity Smoak plays to win.
Suddenly in a rage, she yanks the hard drive the rest of the way out of the casing, and, she has to admit, it feels pretty good to work out some of that pent-up anger. Maybe she should take up boxing or something. She takes a deep breath. "But, for the sake of my sanity, let's don't drag up the past. I'm typically a pretty happy person, dark days aside." She turns to him after the hard drive is hooked up to her computer, and while she's waiting for it to boot up. "So, why are you pulling a Harry Houdini when you could be back with your family after five years?" He gives her a look, as though he's not going to answer her question. "You asked some hard questions, too, Oliver. It's time to pay up."
He's saved by a knock at her door, and she looks up to find a security guard looking at her and pointing to Oliver. Oliver moves to stand, but she puts a hand on his shoulder, forcing him back down. "I'll take care of this. I take it you don't want your family knowing you made a visit?"
"No," he admits slowly. "No one knows I'm here, and I'd like to keep it this way." His expression is guarded, and she understands the feeling; between high school, college, and her time at QC, she thinks that maybe being in the spotlight isn't all it's cracked up to be.
She opens the door slightly, blocking the guard's view of Oliver. She's pleasantly surprised to find it's John Diggle, one of the better guards working at QC. In fact, if she were to list off friends, he'd actually be the second (of two) on the list. "Hey, Diggle," she says cheerily. "What's wrong?"
He frowns. "I'm sorry, Felicity, but your visitor wasn't cleared through security. He needs to go down and get a badge. We have to log all visitors—you know how Her Highness is."
It's the nickname they've given Moira Queen, and, well, Felicity knows better than anyone how she is. She winces for effect before saying, "Look, Digg, Ellery is an old friend from high school." He gives her an odd look at the name, and she waves her hand dismissively. "I had a scholarship to Wilmington Preperatory. I was the only not-rich kid." She shrugs. "Who knows how those old money people name their kids." She leans in and almost whispers, "Look, things kind of went downhill for his family after the Queens put in that Applied Sciences division. Ended up in the military after that, and he has some PTSD issues." She's read Diggle's file, and she knows he's a military man, so the story is custom-made to evoke his sympathy. And she can see the understanding light in his eyes. "He's a little paranoid because of it. Maybe we could... forget the security protocols, just this once?"
She almost thinks he's going to say no, but then he finally says, "We watched each other's backs over there, so I don't see why we can't take care of each other here." He points a finger at her. "But next time, he'll have to sign in like the rest of them."
She holds back a sigh of relief. "Thank you, John. I mean it. This makes us even for that super-rare toy I was able to find for your nephew at Christmas."
He chuckles, already knowing that they don't keep score. "You should have lunch with Lyla and I this Saturday. It was nice last time, even if I was outnumbered when you wo turned on me." He gives her a look. "Maybe you should invite Barry this time—we'd like to meet him."
She balks immediately. "No, I think we'll avoid Barry. There's a reason he doesn't get out much. Good friend, but weird. And I'm saying that, so that should mean something to you."
He laughs. "Well, see you Saturday, then." And, mercifully, he's gone after that.
She turns back to Oliver, who is looking at her with an odd, calculating expression on his face. "Ellery?" he repeats blankly, a hint of a smile on his face.
She shrugs as she sits back down in her chair. "It's the best I could come up with on short notice. I'm a fan of mysteries, what can I say?" He gives her another of those squinty-eyed looks, and she sighs. "Seriously? Read a book sometime. Detective novels were a big deal in the twenties and thirties. One of them was Ellery Queen." He shakes his head, and she shrugs as she turns back to her monitor. "Like I said, I'm not very creative, but the first detective movie I ever watched The Spanish Cape Mystery." She frowns. "These look like blueprints."
He leans over her shoulder to look at the screen, and it sends a shiver down her spine when he says by her ear, "Do you know what of?"
She turns to find him close enough to kiss. You know, if she wanted to do that. Which she doesn't. "The exchange building," she replies, a little breathlessly. Another blank look and she sighs. "You're utterly hopeless—you know that, right? It's where the Unidac Industries auction is scheduled to take place." She'd question him again about the laptop, but she knows it's not his, and she doesn't feel like being lied to again. If she's going to figure it out, she'll have to do it on her own.
"Look," she says flatly, "I don't have anything against Mr. Steele, and I don't want in the middle of any Shakespearean drama thing. Because I'm starting to feel like somebody dropped me right into Hamlet." She rolls her eyes at his blank look. "It looks kind of like you're trying to sabotage Mr. Steele's bid for the auction, seeing as how you have a company laptop associated with one of the guy's he's competing against." She points to the line across the top. "This belongs to Warren Patel."
She's surprised when he claps a hand on her shoulder—and a little suspicious. "Thank you, Felicity," he says simply. "That sounds like something the police might need to know. Can you, maybe, send that to them?"
She nods. "I have a friend who loves lives by the police scanner and loves to give tips," she says, thinking of Barry. "He can give it to them, so that'll put us both in the clear." He gets up, prepared to leave, but she stops him. "Wait just a second." He looks wary, but she turns to a Queen Consolidated business card on her desk, and she enjoys marking out the "Queen Consolidated" part with a permanent marker before turning it over. On the back she writes her name, phone number, and address, and then she hands it to him. "I don't know where you're staying," she starts slowly, "and I'm not asking because I don't want you to lie to me. But if you ever need a place to stay, I have a spare bedroom. Or if you need some more help with a computer-like thing, let me know. You won't have to come to QC."
He takes the card from her hand with a surprisingly genuine smile. "Thank you. I appreciate it."
She waves him off. "Just do me a favor and change coffee shops." His eyes widen in surprise for a moment, but then his mouth turns into a smirk. "Or, at the very least, make sure to visit when they aren't buying illegal cocoa beans from the Colombian mob." He offers her a small wave before leaving, and she frowns behind him. Oliver Queen just brought a million different kinds of puzzles into her life, and she's starting to get that burn of curiosity again. It's that same natural need to solve puzzles that makes her such a damn good computer tech—that makes her love detective novels and mysteries.
Because Oliver Queen is a mystery—and he's one she's going to solve.
Oliver frowns as he looks at the building again, ensuring he has the address right, even though he memorized the details on Felicity's card ages ago. The first line has her name in a concise, tidy print of someone used to writing down serial numbers for later, and the second line has her phone number. She actually makes null symbols instead of zeroes, and he knows that's so they won't be confused for o's in her print. The third line clearly reads, "221A Broadview Street," and he shakes his head at how ridiculous the situation is.
Because he's staring at 221 Broadview, and it is nothing like he expected.
It appears to be what's left of an old shopping plaza, deep in the Glades, but most of the strip of old buildings has been replaced with newer homes. However, it keeps to tradition, and is clearly a business, with old-fashioned apartments over the top of it. The building's façade is painted black, and the logo on the signboard features white print with a blotch of red off to the right. "Murder, We Read," it proclaims in large, old typeface. Underneath, in smaller print, it reads, "True Crime Library & Mystery Fiction Showcase." A magnifying glass is off to the right, tilted at the corner of the word "Read." He shakes his head. Well, he thought Felicity Smoak was unpredictable. At least he's confirmed that.
Off to the right of where the glass storefront ends, there's a small door, almost blending into the night around it. The sign clearly reads, "To 221A, 221B, and 221C," so he takes the stairs up to the two small apartments. With hesitation, Oliver knocks on the purple door that proclaims itself to be 221A, holding his breath. He hears voices within, then, and he thinks that maybe he should have waited to enter when she didn't have company. He doesn't know a thing about her, other than the little information she's given him and the things his father said, which are now five years out of date.
And of course she'd be busy; he's forgotten it's Saturday night, and that most people actually do things on Saturday night. His is limited to hunting people as the Vigilante, but it's his experience that a beautiful woman never wants for a date and a fun evening. And, even beyond those glasses and the hair pulled back into a practical ponytail, he can tell that Felicity Smoak is a beautiful woman. In another life, he might have even flirted with her that first time, but that Oliver Queen died at sea five years ago.
And that's the real truth of why he's chosen to live in his father's old, condemned factory in the Glades. His mother and Thea will expect him to be the person he was, and he's not. That man, the one they called "Ollie," was a child who had never known the struggle of survival. Everything had been handed to him, and the world was his. But the man he is now, the one he knows Felicity sees him as when she calls him "Oliver," is a man forged from desperation and the will to survive. He knows pain, he knows what it's like to kill, and he knows what it is to endure torture. To compare the two is laughable.
Oliver Queen is dead, and all that's left of him is this... thing he's become, the one who hunts the city's elite much like tiger stalks its prey.
Chiding himself for daring to show up here, he turns on his heel and moves to descend the stairs. "Oliver?" a voice asks from behind it, and he already knows it's her. He turns, surprised at her appearance this time. Her glasses are still the same and her lips are still painted that vibrant shade of fuchsia, but her hair is down, hanging below her shoulders. She's in a blue dress, and he thinks for a moment that, if she's not wanting to stir the rumor mill, she'd better avoid wearing dresses with hemlines that short. While it's not the shortest skirt he's ever seen, it's definitely too short for an office situation, even though it looks like an office dress.
"I didn't realize you had company," is his reply, abrupt and to the point as always. Communication seems to be a skill that's rusty, since it had been over two years since he'd spoken to another person, before Felicity.
She waves that hand again, as if he's being perfectly ridiculous for daring to be nice. "It's just Barry," she assures him. It's the second time he's heard the name, and he vaguely remembers her calling him "weird." And, judging by her conversation with the guard, he's probably also not anyone of romantic interest. "He lives next door, so I won't feel bad about kicking him out early." She opens the door back from where she closed it earlier. "You wanna come in, or do you want to wait?"
One of the first things he learned to appreciate about Felicity is the fact that she's careful about giving him options, but she doesn't make it seem like she's coddling him. Oliver watched her speak with that security guard, and she didn't treat either one of them any differently. He likes that about her. "I'll come in," he decides, walking back toward her.
When he comes closer, she asks quietly, "So do you want to be Oliver tonight—or are you ready for that?" It's a genuine question because there isn't any judgment in that tone, and he appreciates that.
"I don't think I'm ready for that," he admits to her, and she doesn't show him any pity, any sympathy at all. She simply nods once before motioning him in.
The apartment is smaller than the spaces Oliver is used to being in, but he doesn't particularly mind. It feels warm an inviting, instead of cold and aloof, like the home he was raised in. Shelves line the foyer on both walls, filled with books. A small, old television sits off in one corner, and shelves of movies line either side. The windows are thin but tall, like on the shop floor, but dark curtains line either side of each one.
Oliver's attention focuses on the man at one end of her small sofa, a lanky man who looks too young to be friends with Felicity. He wears a crimson, turtleneck sweater and jeans, with brown hair, angular features, and dark eyes. Felicity motions between them easily. "Jack, this is Barry Allen. He's my landlord-slash-friend-slash-partner in the murder store. Barry, this is Jack Fisher." She claps her hands. "Jack's a client for my computer business."
The typical nice-to-meet-yous are exchanged, and then Oliver's curiosity gets the better of him. "You two own the shop downstairs?" he asks, trying to be as cordial as possible.
"Yeah," Barry responds. "It was mine originally, but I'm not very good at crunching numbers, so it wasn't going very well. But then Felicity moved to Starling City, and she started frequenting it." He chuckles awkwardly, touching his ear to his shoulder for a minute before continuing, "I like to get to know my customers, so we started talking, and then I find out she's a genius with an accounting minor. She helped me balance the books—saved the store. So I decided to sign her on as a partner."
"It's a really interesting store," Felicity chimes in. "We call it the murder store, but it has information on just about every crime ever committed in real life—in some way or another. Sort of like a reference library for crimes. A lot of them aren't really released to the public, even with the Internet, so we get a lot of business from criminal justice and law enforcement students and professors at Starling City University." She shrugs. "And we also carry mystery books and movies, so we get a lot of avid readers and mystery movie fans in, too. We have some of the only copies of some of the thirties and forties movies in town, so all the film noir buffs come here to rent or buy. It's like a combination movie rent-or-buy store, library, and bookstore—but only for mysteries." She smiles. "I don't think there's another store like it in the world."
She claps her hands. "But enough of our sales techniques." She points toward her door, looking at Barry. "Jack's computer is sitting in my computer shop, and I really need to go through all of the boring details of what happened." She motions to the papers spread out across her coffee table, the ones Oliver hadn't noticed before. "Can we maybe crunch the numbers tomorrow? I'd like to make it through 'A Scandal in Belgravia' again at some point this weekend—I need to see that episode again."
"Sure," is his easy reply, gathering up the papers easily. "I hope she has good news about your computer, Mr. Fisher," he calls to Oliver, to which he nods.
While Felicity is seeing him out, he takes a better look at the shelves that line her foyer. Unsurprisingly, they're all meticulously sorted and arranged. Her movie shelves and bookshelves are both labeled by genre, all stickered with either "science-fiction," "fantasy," or "mystery" in her neat, precise handwriting. From there, he notices that the movie shelves are sorted by title, and the books by author's last name. A few movies are laid out on top of her TV—the titles read "The Spanish Cape Mystery," "Sherlock Series Two," and "I, Robot"—and a very worn, much-loved copy of a book titled Cocaine Blues lies on her coffee table. Underneath it, there's another book in better condition, whose spine reads Nevermore.
"Sorry about that," she says, coming back into the room. She motions to the couch. "Have a seat—I'm going to grab a Stella from my fridge. Do you want anything?"
"No thank you," he says easily, sitting down. He can't help but ask, "Is Jack Fisher another mystery novel guy?"
She chuckles, and he can hear a cabinet door slam. "Not exactly," she calls back. "Barry's a murder genius—that sounded worse than I meant it—and he remembers everything he reads. He'd catch onto that too quickly. The Fisher part came from Phryne Fisher, an Australian detective created by Kerry Greenwood. And the Jack part, well, take your pick. It could refer to Jack Webb, the man who played Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet, or DI Jack Robinson, who was sort of a love interest for Phryne Fisher." The refrigerator door closes then, and she continues, "But I prefer to think of it as a reference to Jack Reacher, a crime-solver and former MP created by Lee Childs. Like you, he's also good at disappearing. And it doesn't hurt things that he was played by Tom Cruise in the movie."
It's only then that he notices a book wedged between her couch cushions, as if it fell there. The title proclaims it to be the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe, and he wonders why a book that big managed to sink between the cushions. It has a ribbon marker, and out of curiosity, he opens it to the page. When he goes back to the title, he finds that it's a story called "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."
"That's considered the first true detective story, you know," she says, sliding next to him on the couch, turning so that she's facing him, her legs folding under her. "Mystery fiction is divided into two groups—pre-1841 and post-1841." She motions to the book with the index finger wrapped around her imported beer. "And they're divided because 1841 is the year Edgar Allan Poe first wrote the detective C. Auguste Dupin." She smiles as he sets the book down on the coffee table carefully. "Some people even think that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot were based off of him. But, alas, Poe never really got the credit for anything. He was the first person to do a lot of things, but he never got any credit for it. He only earned fifty dollars off of his writings during his life, and yet he's now considered one of the finest writers who ever lived." She shakes her head. "Just goes to show you that how history treats people." She takes a sip of her beer. "But I'm guessing you didn't come here so that I could regale you with my knowledge of mystery fiction."
He shakes his head, though he'd be pleased to listen to her talk forever. He's forgotten how solitary his life has become, and even just listening to someone speak helps to fill that void he's created. "No, I didn't," he admits.
Before he can tell her his purpose, she asks, "So is this about the offer for a spare room, or about more green hood business?" she asks casually, and he turns to look at her sharply. She rolls her eyes. "Please, Oliver, I'm not an idiot. You hand me a laptop covered in bullet holes, and, when Barry gives it to the police, Detective Lance—head of the investigation on the Hood—starts swarming all over it. Then the Hood saves John Diggle's life when he goes to investigate the shootings at the Unidac auction." She takes a sip of her drink, just as casual as if they were discussing the weather. "I've grown up reading and watching mysteries. You didn't stand a chance."
He takes a deep breath before saying, "I'm guessing that there's a reason why the cops don't have an arrest warrant out for me."
She shrugs. "I could have tipped the police, but what's the point? The crime rate is a little lower every day—because of you. And I don't see that as a bad thing." She leans her head against the back of the couch, nursing her drink in her hands. "I may own half of a murder store, but it would be nice, one day, for people to read about those crimes and think, 'Wow, I'm glad I don't live in a world like that.' It would be nice to think that someday, crime might be referred to as a myth. So I don't see much point in stopping you so that it can jump back up again. The police aren't equipped to deal with the crime levels we have here in Starling—but you seem to be doing a good job." She bites her lip before adding, "And I like knowing I'm contributing to your cause. So, Oliver, if you need some help, count me in."
He nods once, then extends his hand. They shake on it briefly, and she breaks into a beatific smile. He could get used to seeing her smile like that. "I could use a place to stay," he admits.
She rolls her eyes, as if he's intentionally being difficult. "All you have to do is ask," she replies with a wave of her hand, but then she stands up, smoothing down her skirt and setting her drink on the coffee table. She takes one of his hands in hers and urges him up, and they both walk into the small hallway together. The hallway is short and canary yellow, with a red door to one side and a blue to the left. In the center is a bathroom that he presumes is made to be shared across both bedrooms.
She points to the blue one. "That's mine, and for no reason are you to go in there without permission." She looks at him. "It's not an I-don't-trust-you thing, but more of an I-have-boundaries thing." She pulls open the red door, exposing a very barren room. "This will be yours, if you want it. Change it however you want, do whatever you want—I don't care. Same rules apply—I won't go in there without your permission. We'll have to share a bathroom, but I don't spend half my life in one like most girls. I won't tell anyone you're here unless you want me, too. And you know I won't tell your mother because I never want to see that woman again." She drops his hand, motioning to the room. "If those terms are acceptable to you, consider it yours."
"Thank you, Felicity," is all he says, and she waves her hand in that same gesture of don't-mention-it as before. He feels the need to warn her, though, "I... don't sleep well. I prowl."
She shrugs. "There's a television and plenty of books. As long as you don't wake me up, I don't care. And there's an entire shop downstairs—let me know if you ever want to borrow something, and I'll open it up for you." She holds up a hand, then runs into the main area again. She's back quickly enough, offering him the same black book with the red print from before. "I don't know if you like to read," she says flatly, "but if you're going to start somewhere, I suggest you try Mr. Poe." She bites her lip before saying, "He was a damaged, tortured soul, but that didn't stop him from doing great things. He made his mark on the world with a pen—maybe you'll do it with a bow."
Before he can say anything, she saves him the trouble. "Goodnight, Oliver," she says as she closes her bedroom door.
He walks into his new guest room, shutting his door, too. He sits the book on the bedside table before getting ready for bed and trying to fall asleep. Every time he closes his eyes, though, he sees the island. He tries to fight the nightmares, but he only wakes more exhausted than before he tried to sleep. Sighing, he turns over, flipping the switch on the bedside lamp. Sighing, he walks into the foyer, surprised to find Felicity wide awake at two a.m.
She pauses the show she's watching. "Wanna talk about it?" she asks quietly. At the question on his face, she adds, "You were screaming."
The last thing he wants is to relive the island waking, too, "No," he says flatly, and she nods before turning the show back on. She doesn't ask if he wants to watch it, if he'd like to put in something, if he'd rather the television be off. He finds the quiet company and lack of questions oddly comforting.
She doesn't make it through the episode before falling asleep, and she slides on the two-cushioned sofa, somehow ending up on his shoulder, and he wraps his arm around her protectively. It's been a long time since he's been fond of anyone, but the enigmatic little blonde is slowly making her way up his list of favorite people. For once, he can understand his father's tastes; she seems to be a genuinely nice person, if not a little dark at times. But, then again, he's awfully dark, too.
The next episode starts automatically, and he watches the screen in complete mindlessness, never really registering the plot beyond the British accents. Miraculously, his eyelids start to droop, and he, too, eventually succumbs to fatigue and exhaustion.
It's the best night of sleep he's had in five years.
Fun fact—all of the literature things in this story are true. Ellery Queen was another famous fictional detective, and The Spanish Cape Mystery was a movie from the 1930s. The first modern detective story was written by Edgar Allan Poe, and his character C. Auguste Dupin was Sherlock Holmes before Sherlock Holmes even existed. The man singlehandedly changed the murder mystery (and the short story). In 2012-ish, Kelly Creagh wrote a fantasy story using Poe's life and works as inspiration, and it's called Nevermore. The Phryne Fisher murder mysteries are by Kerry Greenwood, and were written in the late eighties and early nineties, the first book called Cocaine Blues. There's also a series from 2012 called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Before being a movie, the Jack Reacher novels were written by Lee Child.
In case you were wondering about my notes at the beginning, Whip Chatterly was a character in the episode of Psych titled "Autopsy Turvy," played by French Stewart. And was, arguably, the best sidekick for Shawn and Gus ever. Like Barry in this story, he ran a bookstore focusing on murders (not the fictional kind, though), and he wore a turtleneck. And, frankly, was one really weird dude. :)
Also, I unabashedly stole this title from the Sherlock Holmes book (but only because I couldn't find a way to play off of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" or "The Purloined Letter"). I think it all connected in the end, though.
Anyway, playlist for this was:
"Viva la Vida" - Coldplay
"18 Days" - Saving Abel
"One" - Three Dog Night
"Battlefield" - Jordin Sparks
"Uncharted" - Sara Bareilles
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" - Cher
"Running" - No Doubt
"I Walk Alone" - Tarja
"Behind Blue Eyes" - The Who
"Don't Let Me Be Lonely" - The Band Perry