"This is gonna be awesome!" Tommy whispered to her gleefully.
"How awesome can a party in our common room be?" Felicity questioned. "We'll probably be wearing school uniforms and drinking lemonade."
"You underestimate me." Tommy grinned. "But I can get you some lemonade if you'd rather."
Felicity decided to ignore him.
She'd been here almost a week now, and through Tommy, thought she'd integrated herself rather nicely into Starling. It did help that Tommy tended to treat her like they'd been friends for years. Sara and Nyssa were in her dorm, which was nice. Sara had been warm from the beginning, whilst Nyssa had taken a little longer. She'd come around after Felicity hacked into the school server to change her late mark (Tommy's fault). Nyssa had deemed that a useful (and possibly slightly impressive) skill.
She'd also befriended a boy named Barry Allen in fourth stream, whom she had met after taking some fourth stream core classes to make room for extra electives. Tommy had pretended to sulk for an hour when she'd moved out of his biology to make room for computer science at the same time, proclaiming that "no normal fourteen year old should be studying computer science out of choice" but he'd smiled as he'd said it.
It was Friday afternoon, and they'd just got back from English Lit, and Tommy was planning a party for the next night whilst Felicity stared at her homework in order to evoke the feeling of doing something useful.
"Tommy, there is no way you're getting anything at this short notice." Laurel put in, without looking up from her French textbook.
"Who said anything about me getting it?"
"Whatever. Oliver said he'd get it."
Laurel laughed. "He said that last time."
Tommy wasn't listening anymore, having just got a call from someone or other on his phone and shifted away from Felicity and Laurel to talk. Felicity could tell very quickly that it was a girl by Tommy's expression, and gave him a look that was meant to say 'you're gross'.
The door swung open with a crash behind them. "Guess who made a friend in fourth stream?" A triumphant Oliver tried to vault over the couch, failed, and hit the floor. He bounced back up, trying to pretend that nothing had happened. "This is Dig." He indicated a guy behind him, with the largest muscles Felicity had ever observed on a fourteen year old in her entire life.
Felicity had realised that her moving into fourth stream classes was probably going to put her in at least one of Oliver's classes, and it had, though he hadn't been to any of them yet, so she'd not yet experienced his presence in class.
"Felicity." She waved at Dig. "I'm in your Spanish."
"His real name is John Diggle." Oliver smirked, kissing Laurel on the cheek and proceeding to throw his feet up on the coffee table.
"Thanks for that Oliver." Dig deadpanned, and sat down on the couch next to Felicity. Oliver grinned at him, and Felicity hoped the sarcasm hadn't gone as far over his head as it looked like.
Tommy finished his call with a sly grin. "You still getting drinks for tomorrow?" He asked Oliver.
Oliver pulled a face. "Where do I get them from?"
"You said you'd have no problems." Tommy groaned.
"I can get them." Felicity interrupted before Oliver could reply. "Well, I mean I can't actually get them because even with ID I still look prepubescent. But I can get ID for one of you."
Tommy looked impressed. "So who looks the closest to 21?"
"None of you." Nyssa entered the room, Sara behind her. "You haven't got a chance, card or not."
"They have to serve you if you've got a card." Oliver argued.
"I've got an older brother." Dig cuts in. "He could do it with a card, he owes me a favour."
Oliver clapped his hands gleefully. "Dig, you are already proving to be an excellent friend. Meanwhile, for extra support, I'll sneak into my parents' house and nick some stuff, who's helping me carry it?"
Felicity stared up at the Queen mansion with a sigh. "I can't believe I'm doing this." She said, for the fourteenth time.
"It's for the good of the many." Oliver grinned. "Besides, it's my house, it's not like you're breaking in; I have a key."
He shoved the key in the lock, and then paused, turning back. "When we see someone, just go with the flow okay? Improvise."
"When?" Hissed Felicity. "When did we go past 'if we see someone'? The whole concept of sneaking in is that we're not supposed to be seen by anyone!" She followed him all the same as he entered the house (or castle, as Felicity thought was more appropriate).
The room Felicity found herself in was more of a cavern than a room in Felicity's opinion. "You live here? How big is your family?"
"There's four of us." Oliver strode off to the right, ignoring the sweeping staircases (multiple). "Five, if you count Tommy."
"Have you ever met your sibling? I mean, in this house, it would be possible to avoid each other for fourteen years."
Oliver sniggered. "I wish."
They went along a corridor and through another a door, and then down some horribly dark steps into a cold, badly lit cellar.
"This is like a dungeon." Felicity complained, trying to work out whether Oliver was still in front of her.
"Sorry we didn't do up the cellar." Oliver said derisively. He was to her left, Felicity decided. "There's a light switch somewhere around here… I think…" She thought she could make out him trying to find the wall.
"That's my shoulder. When was the last time you came down here?"
Oliver ignored her, continuing to move his hand around the wall looking for the switch. "Aha!" He shouted, as a single dingy bulb flickered to life.
"So much for being quiet." Felicity sighed, looking around. "Wow, you've got quite a collection down here."
"How about this?" Oliver held up a dusty bottle.
"No self-respecting teenager is going to drink Merlot at a party."
"Is that what it says?" Oliver squinted at the label. "Oh, right." He set it down.
"Have you got anything that didn't cost $400?"
"Doesn't look like it. My parents must have finished the secret vodka stash." His joke was wistful and then his expression twisted momentarily, which Felicity took for his decision making face. "We'll just have to count on Dig's brother, let's go."
They headed back up the steps and along the corridor, eventually emerging back out into the cavernous entrance hall. Oliver was just about to let them out, when someone called him.
"Oliver! What are you doing here?" Oh no. A smartly dressed blonde woman stood at the top of the stairs, looking down at them in surprise. She doesn't look like she works here.
Oliver turned around, fixing a large smile on his face. "Mom! This is Felicity, my, uh…" Definitely doesn't work here.
"Friend." Felicity cut in, before Moira could get the impression she was definitely getting.
Oliver's Mom's expression switched to one of understanding, which was confusing because Felicity did not understand why she was understanding. "It's nice to meet you Felicity. I'm Oliver's mother." She started to come down the stairs. Felicity did not get the impression that it was nice to meet her at all.
"Oliver, why aren't you at school? I would've thought you'd have been spending your weekend with Tommy."
"Right." Oliver nodded. "Felicity and I were just getting some, uh…"
"Pictures." Felicity put in helpfully, wondering where on earth she was going with this.
"Pictures." Oliver agreed. "For um…"
"Art." Felicity said.
"I wasn't aware you were taking art Oliver." Oh dear God.
"No! He isn't. But I am! Oliver said I could take some pictures of his house, your house, for my project. On houses."
"Because our house is… unique." Oliver seemed to have gotten his bearings.
Felicity nodded. "Like a castle." That was a stray thought! Why did it have to come out in conversation?!
"Because her project is on Lord of the Rings." Oliver said, and Felicity felt like kicking him. "There's lots of castles in that." He was even worse at this than her. They had literally just said that the project was on houses. Thankfully, Moira didn't say anything.
Deciding this had gone on way too long; Felicity scrambled for a way to get them out. "Hey Oliver, don't you have that thing? With Tommy?"
"Oh yeah! That thing… that I have to do… right now. Bye Mom." Oh my God.
"Oliver, stay for dinner tonight."
"I can't, I have study group." This time, Oliver's reply was immediate; indicating that he'd used it before. Oliver please, something believable.
"Well, it's nice to see you taking your studies seriously."
"Mmhm." Oliver started to back out the door, dragging Felicity with him. "I'll see you soon!" He said desperately. "Say hi to Dad and Thea for me!"
As the door closed behind them, he groaned. "That was awful. I thought she'd be out in the day."
"Tell me about it. Lord of the Rings? Really?"
"She's never seen it, I figured it was safe."
"Let's go. Before your Mom realises that I didn't have a camera with me."
The common room was full of kids, and some kind of rap music was playing loudly on speakers Felicity assumed Tommy had stolen from the music department. To his credit, he had done an impressive job with the small amount he'd had to work with, Felicity decided. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at any rate.
Dig was sprawled on the couch next to her, the two of them having hit it off. "How long do you think it will be before we get disbanded?" He yelled, which he had to do to be heard over the music.
"I'm surprised it hasn't already happened!" Felicity shouted back.
Their other friends were scattered about the area. Tommy was sat triumphantly in a corner with a girl Felicity didn't know, but already felt sorry for. Nyssa, though previously had stated she was above 'little-kid parties' was wiping the floor with at least five people as they tried to play darts. Felicity had no idea where the board had come from. Oliver and Laurel were sat together, sporadically making out, whilst Oliver downed an unreasonable volume of liquid that he'd be regretting in the morning.
As fourteen year olds usually are, everyone was exceptionally excited by the presence of alcohol in their midst. This meant that they'd all proceeded to drink a very large amount, resulting in a very long toilet queue and quite a few people looking very pale. At times like these, Felicity was very glad her Mother was a cocktail waitress who'd taught her about these things.
Sara came over (someone else who'd fallen prey to the lure of teenage rebellion), sliding on to the couch next to Felicity. "This stuff is gross." She groaned. "My head kills."
"That's vodka." Felicity told her. "Of course it's gross."
"Ollie. He told me it wasn't that strong."
"Bastard." Felicity agreed.
"But he's so cute." Sara whined. "It's not fair." Felicity silently agreed. Sara continued: "I kind of have a crush on him." She confessed. "I know Laurel's my sister, but he's so nice to me."
Is he really?
Knowing Sara was only telling her this because she was drunk, Felicity really didn't know what to say.
"You could do much better Sara." Dig, who'd apparently also been listening, said. "Date someone of substance."
"Yeah." Felicity nodded. "Someone who's not dating your sister." And cheating on her, she left unsaid.
"Mm." Sara replied, in a way that made Felicity sure she didn't intend to heed their advice in the slightest. "Yeah, I'll do that." She said, but Felicity could see her staring at Oliver anyway. She watched Laurel turn her head to talk to Johanna, and Oliver wink at Sara. Please Sara, don't fall for it. Felicity and Dig looked at each other in resignation.
Barry came over, smiling nervously, and Sara got up to give him her seat. "Nice party." He said. "Thanks for inviting me."
"No problem. I needed a fellow nerd, didn't I?" She punched him on the shoulder, which would've felt a little lame if it had been anyone but Barry.
"Speaking of, the Avengers comes out next week. Do you wanna go see it?"
"I'm there." Felicity grinned. "I mean, I'm not." She added hastily. "I would very much like to go see the Avengers with you Barry." She settled for. Barry was looking at her, and she noticed he didn't seem to have been annoyed at all by her unneeded clarification. He knew what you meant! He was a nice guy – just the sort of person she wanted to be friends with. She regarded Tommy making out with a girl in the corner of the room and thought, not for the first time, that he was probably the worst person possible to be associated with in terms of a good reference. On second thoughts, it's more likely Oliver; Felicity backtracked as she watched the other boy throw a finished beer bottle at the fireplace where it shattered across the stone.
She liked Tommy anyway, whatever his reputation, he was nice to her. He was a good guy (sort of). He treated his friends well anyway. Felicity wondered about his family. Did he have siblings? Was he close to his parents? Oliver had referred to him as being a fifth member of his family, indicating Tommy spent most of his free time at the Queen's.
Felicity decided it wasn't her business, and turned back to Barry, aware that she'd not been listening to anything he might have said to her. "So have you been studying for the biology test?" She asked him, fully aware that talking about class at a party was incredibly lame. Still, Barry cheerfully took her conversation starter, launching into an account of something biology related. The way his face lit up when he talked about science was cute.
He was cute.
Monday morning in the breakfast hall, and all of them were still feeling the effects of lost sleep. Felicity was fairly sure she had baked beans on her face, but was too tired to care. Laurel was bleary-eyed, Sara looked like she'd just rolled out of bed and Dig, like he was about to fall asleep in his sausages. Only Nyssa and Tommy were unaffected by the impending school week. Nyssa, because she never seemed to care about or be affected by anything, and Tommy, because he was a continuing ball of harrowing excitement. Oliver, as could've been predicted, had not shown up yet.
"One more week." Dig muttered. More to himself, Felicity thought, like he needed to push himself through it.
"This half term couldn't come fast enough." Laurel agreed, mournfully chewing a large mouthful of burnt egg. Apparently, going to a school with a thousand pound budget didn't mean the school dinners were going to be any better.
"I've a proposal." Tommy said, his eyes glinting. "Let's spend half term at my house."
"It'd be better than staying here for a week." Sara pulled a face. "Or going home."
"Exactly." Tommy grinned. "We can do whatever we want. Fiesta time!"
"Won't your parents mind?" Dig asked.
"My Dad has already informed me that he won't be in." Tommy relayed, a note of uncharacteristic dryness slipping into his voice. It made him sound slightly bitter, something that Felicity had never thought to associate with Tommy Merlyn in a million years.
"All of us?" She asked.
"Most definitely." Tommy nodded. "There's room for way more than this." He gestured at them all.
"Right, billionaire. Whose mansion is bigger, yours or Oliver's?" Felicity teased.
"Mine." Tommy answered immediately.
"How was your visit to Ollie's?" Laurel asked, curiously, and with a bit of a mischievous grin starting to emerge.
"Uh… yeah… it was… interesting. I met his Mother." She didn't feel comfortable calling Mrs Queen Oliver's 'Mom'. It seemed too casual for her.
"Ooh." Tommy winced. "Thrown in at the deep end then."
"Moira's terrifying." Laurel explained. "And she likes me."
"I'm fairly sure she didn't like me."
"Moira and I have a unique relationship." Tommy declared, with a grin. "She hates me, but I think she is also secretly intrigued by me."
"That's nice Tommy." Laurel said dryly, with a bored tone that suggested she'd heard him make the joke before. "So why didn't she like you?"
"We came up with a load of bullshit about what we were doing in the house. And Oliver is a crap liar, who ruined my almost plausible story."
"I could've told you that." Dig chimed in. "And I've only known him for three days."
The bell rang, and Felicity headed to Spanish with Dig. She'd decided that her claim over Dig was better than Oliver's – Oliver could sit on his own (which was assuming he showed up). Dig was pretty cool, and she was fairly sure she'd be getting more work done next to him than she ever did next to Tommy.
They commandeered the back row, which came in handy when Oliver (surprisingly) showed up precisely 12.4 minutes late, as the teacher dryly informed him.
"Hi Dig. Hello Felicity. Thanks for saving me a seat."
"We didn't." Dig said.
"No one wanted to sit with you then?" Oliver grinned. "Their loss. What are we learning? Is this Lit?"
Oliver, unperturbed, leaned around Dig. "Felicity, what class is this?"
"French." Felicity told him.
"Thank you Felicity. Can I borrow a pen?"
"Hm?" Oliver started, and Felicity was fairly sure he'd dozed off. She wouldn't have put it past him.
"Would you translate the passage for us? If you're not too tired that is."
"No, no I'm fine. Excited to learn about…" He trailed off, sounding like he was marvelling at how he couldn't even pretend to be excited. "Excited to translate this passage." He smiled. The same smile he used when he talked about 'getting lucky' or when he was talking to his Mom, which was a disturbing parallel.
"It's already in English?" Felicity heard him whisper under his breath to himself.
"Right, uh… okay… Bonjour? Je m'appelle Pedro. J'aime? J'aime. J'aime des sports… par exemple? Le hockey et le football." He finished, looking pleased with himself. Felicity was actually quite impressed.
"Very good Mr Queen." The teacher said, as Dig sniggered into his hand. "Your French is really coming along."
"Thanks!" Oliver said, cheerfully. Felicity marvelled at how he hadn't managed to catch on yet.
The teacher's expression swapped to one of concern. "Mr Queen, you do… you do realise this is Spanish class? You have got that, right?"
Felicity had to give him credit. His smile only slipped for a fraction of a second. "Hahaha, of course. It was just a joke." She wouldn't be giving him credit for his ability to lie convincingly. "I love Spanish class." He said, feebly.
"Right." The teacher said, unimpressed. "Well, if you'd translate the passage into Spanish…" She indicated another student, and Oliver relaxed, leaning back in his chair so he could see around Dig.
"Well played." He conceded, his voice low.
Felicity didn't look at him. She just continued to chew her pen, a smile creeping across her face. Tommy and Laurel would find this one funny.
They were back in the common room, same as pretty much every night. Felicity was never sure which one of them was intimidating the other kids into vacating the chairs, but she was grateful to them (it was probably Nyssa).
Oliver had grudgingly (after coercion from Dig), told the story of his mishap in Spanish, and as predicted, Tommy and Laurel had found it hilarious – a lot funnier than it had ever been.
"Hey Oliver, what do you reckon?" Tommy grinned. "All of us at mine for half term?" He wiggled his eyebrows, making Felicity wonder if the muscles in his forehead ever got tired from all that eyebrow wiggling.
"Awesome." Oliver agreed. "But I can't."
Laurel put down her text book. "Why not?"
"Dad's taking the Queen's Gambit out. I'm going with him."
Tommy's grin dropped for a moment. Then it was back again, full force. "Lame." He teased.
"You'll have lots of time for your schoolwork." Laurel added in, dryly.
"Ah! That is why I'm going."
"I'll send you pictures of our half term so you don't feel left out." Laurel grinned. "Unless, you're too busy working. I wouldn't want to distract you."
"Right." Oliver nodded exaggeratedly. "You better not. I want to stay fully focused."
Laurel snorted. "I'm going to bed." She declared, standing up. "Do your Algebra Ollie." She left the room, heading upstairs.
"The Queen's Gambit ey?" Felicity raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"
"His Dad's boat." Joanna supplied.
"Of course it is." Felicity rolled her eyes. "What are you even going to do on a boat for a week? Does it have a pool? A cinema? How big is it?"
"Big enough. And I'm sure I'll find something to do."
He was possibly the most unsubtle person Felicity had ever met. She watched him wink quickly at Sara, and subsequently observed the corners of Sara's mouth turn up and blush creep into her cheeks.
They would, something told her.
Oh, Laurel. At least she would find out. There was no way Oliver and Sara could hide them going away in a boat together for a week. Felicity watched Tommy frown, telling her that he'd also observed the silent exchange between his friends.
"Anyway." Oliver interrupted the silence that had never really been there. "I'm going up. See you later."
Felicity watched him go, watched Sara's eyes follow him carefully as he disappeared up the stairs. That is not going to end well for either of them.