She'd gone with the red dress. Of course she had.
It had been the first thing he saw when he entered the church, demanding his full attention during most of the ceremony (he'd snapped out of it long enough to pass over the ring, thankfully). Though it could never be said that she had a "bad" color, red was essentially the color of Felicity. And there she sat afterward in the reception hall amongst a sea of indistinguishable other colors and faces standing out like a beacon in the night. She was the light of the room, the flame drawing him in; all passion, and beauty, and warmth. It was red, he recalled. The dress was red. She was red.
And Oliver couldn't take his eyes off of her.
She was laughing at something Roy had said when she locked eyes with him from across the room. A gorgeous blush tinted her porcelain skin a shade of pink before she smiled, lips parting slightly, and turned away. Oliver took an involuntary gulp.
"So I know I told you that I didn't want you to get me anything for a wedding gift," Diggle spoke beside him, startling Oliver out of his trance. "But I've changed my mind."
Oliver turned toward him. His best friend's eyes were alight with the look of pure joy, taking years off his features. Diggle had gotten his happy ending and seeing that written on his face, in that moment, Oliver vowed to never let anything take that away from him. He deserved everything and more.
"Name it," Oliver answered, knowing that Diggle had never been one to ask for much. Though his funds were significantly lessened of late, he'd find a way to give his partner anything he ever asked of him.
"Ask her to dance."
Oliver stood dumbstruck. Diggle grinned broadly.
"Just hear me out, man," he interrupted, eyes drifting over toward where Lyla stood talking to guests. "Today, the final piece to my life was restored. Lord knows it took a long time for Lyla and me to get here, but we did. We've been through hell and back. And I know there will be more hell to go through in the years ahead, but none of that matters today. The only thing that matters to me right now is right now. This moment. And even if it is just a moment, I'll always have it," Diggle tore his eyes away from Lyla to focus the intensity of his stare on Oliver.
"Oliver, you need to take your moment. Put aside the bad guys, the mission, the evil assassin breathing down your neck. File it away for tomorrow. Right now you need to walk over there and ask that girl to dance because chances like these…" He paused, looking over Oliver's shoulder. His features relaxed into an effortless smile as Lyla approached and kissed her groom. "They don't happen every day," he finished without looking away from her.
Maybe it was the love emanating from the pair beside him, or the music playing overhead, or the glass of champagne he'd had; or maybe it was that he couldn't deny John Diggle his one request; more than likely it was probably just because his resolve wasn't that strong to begin with. Whatever the reason, Oliver found himself weaving in and out of the cluster of tables, his legs seemingly moving on their own accord, drawing him toward the beacon in red. The conversations hushed somewhat as Oliver came to stand behind Felicity's chair. She looked up at him, a puzzled but slightly amused expression on her face as he cleared his throat. "Sorry to interrupt, but I was hoping to steal Felicity away for a dance."
He'd shocked her; her mouth fell open and Oliver, taking that as not-a-no, reached for her hand to help her from her seat. His other hand fell to the small of her back as he began guiding her away.
"She'll be in good hands," he couldn't help but throw back at Palmer, who sat staring slightly stunned at their retreating forms.
He led Felicity onto the dance floor where he placed her right hand on his shoulder before pulling her closer in with a hand on her lower back. The slightly unfocused gaze she held on him slowly fell away as he began moving them across the floor where finally she flashed him her full, radiant smile. Her small hand fit perfectly into his own where they held them outstretched beside them.
The rest of the wedding reception disappeared as he led them around the other couples on the floor. All he could see was her. All he could smell was her perfume. All he could feel was the warmth radiating under his fingertips where they ghosted over the exposed skin on her back.
Diggle had been right. This moment, at his best friend's wedding, with the woman he loved in his arms, was all that mattered.
"I thought you didn't dance, Mr. Queen," she teased.
"There are exceptions to every rule, Ms. Smoak," he replied, unable to stop the mischievous grin from spreading across his face. That was only a half-truth though; there was only one exception to all of his rules, and he was holding her dangerously close right then.
"Don't be cute," she laughed, and just like that he was back in his mother's office at QC, two years ago, hiding behind a pillar as someone approached the desk. You're cute.
He stared at Felicity in awe as the details of the memory came back to him. It was her. How could he have forgotten the girl with the glasses? The girl who babbled adorably to a framed photograph of him?
"Oliver? What is it?" Felicity asked, bringing him back to the present. He laughed, confusing her further.
"I was just reminded of the first time I saw you."
"In my office? How so?"
They had slowed down, their dancing consisting mostly of swaying together. Closely together. "It wasn't in your office. Or at least, it wasn't your office yet."
"What are you talking about?" The hand that had been resting on his shoulder moved to the back of neck and he was momentarily distracted by the sensation.
"Three years after I went missing, Waller brought me back to Starling on a mission. I had to break into my mother's office. I heard someone coming and hid," he explained.
"You were home? Here…So close to your mother, Thea, and-"
"And you," he finished for her. Her eyebrows rose at that. "You came into my mother's office. I saw you. You called me cute."
Oliver could almost see the wheels turning in her head as she processed what he was saying. Her eyes pinched together as if that would somehow help her find the memory in her brain.
"So let me get this straight," she began, eyes still closed. "The first time you saw me was not when I had a mouthful of red pen, but when I was having a conversation with myself?"
He laughed at her horrified tone. "Well technically you were talking to me."
"Your picture! Oh my God. Oliver!" Her forehead fell forward to rest on his chest, attempting to hide her embarrassment from him. He cupped the back of her head to soothe her, but couldn't hide the laughter building in his chest.
"Hey, it's not so bad," she only shook her head in response. "Hey," he said again, and he waited till she brought her head up to meet his eyes. "I thought you were cute, too."
The smile she offered in response was sad though. "You were so close," she breathed, voice thick with emotion. Oliver watched the scene unfold once again in his mind's eye; he saw her signature blonde ponytail and glasses; her talking to his picture, it's too bad you're dead; her chastising herself. He remembered it all perfectly now. The smile she'd brought to his face as foreign emotions coursed through him: amusement, and intrigue.
"I don't know how I forgot until now," he mused, focusing on the space above her head. "I remember thinking that it was too bad that I was dead, because I would've liked to talk to you. Seeing you was like… I don't know if I can describe it. Like finally having proof that the world wasn't all bad, and maybe, just maybe, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Salvation. Redemption."
"You got all that from some random IT girl babbling to herself?" she asked doubtfully.
He considered her for a moment before answering. "Remember when I said that there was just something about you? I think I figured it out – it was because I'd seen you before. Subconsciously recalling that hope you'd made me feel." Oliver knew it to be true the second he spoke it out loud. This girl, this random, babbling IT girl had ignited his almost lost humanity. He could see in her face that she still doubted him, but the secret smile she seemed to reserve only for him was back.
"I wish I had known you were there," she eventually said. The music changed to something more up tempo, but their movements remained the same.
"But I knew you were there," he answered. "And I don't know what I believe about God or fate or destiny, but it's almost as if the universe was finally throwing me a life preserve. Some sort of cosmic message," he let out a short laugh, aware of how ridiculous it may have sounded to her.
"What was the message?" She asked with no hint of judgment or amusement in her voice.
He stared into her eyes for a several beats, allowing himself to get lost there. He didn't think it was possible that he could love her any more than he already did, yet in that moment, his heart swelled at this new epiphany.
"This is why you don't give up. This is why you live," he held on to her tighter to relay his full meaning. Felicity closed her eyes, breaking the trance they'd been in. He remembered where they were then, and the Plus One who sat not twenty feet away.
"It's okay," he broke off, putting slightly more space between them. "Is it too selfish of me to ask that we just have this moment?"
She shook her head no, blinking away the unshed tears in her eyes. To her credit, a full fifteen seconds passed before she broke the silence. "Oliver, I need to tell you, I need to say it at least once out loud before we get back to reality."
"Okay," he answered, his voice controlled while his heart was beating wildly.
"Oliver, we have a problem," Roy's tense words robbed Felicity of any declaration. Oliver would have ripped the kid a new one right there if he hadn't looked over Felicity's head and seen the newlyweds engaging in a heated conversation with Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot. He instantly went on alert.
"Get to Palmer. Now!" he ordered Felicity. She looked disappointed, but didn't argue.
Oliver and Roy made their way over to where they trio stood. "What is this?" he demanded. Deadshot lifted his head in greeting. "We need to talk," he told the group.
"I hope you saved a dance for me, lover." The voice spoken behind him made Oliver's blood run cold. He didn't even have to turn around to see Cupid standing there. He instead locked eyes with Diggle, willing him to read his mind; it was time to leave now.
Simultaneously they spoke aloud, "Moment's over."