My Hope is built on Nothing Less

Chapter 1 - Brand

By JTrevizo

Rating – PG

Spoilers: Arrow through Season 3 finale ("My Name is Oliver Queen" – 3x23)

Disclaimer: Arrow belongs to DC, CW, Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

Relationships: Oliver/Felicity

Summary: Post saving Starling City and killing Ra's, Felicity and Oliver begin to reconnect. And that leads to discussions, discoveries and a path to being happy.

Author's Note: So I'm joining everyone else on the post finale bandwagon, but I wanted to do things a bit angsty. While the Porche driving off into the sunset seemed very light, there was a lot that I thought still needed resolving between our lovers. So here is my take.

Hi all. I am thinking this will be a few chapters following the announcement of Oliver's 'retirement', as the longer I ponder the finale, the more I think that a normal couple might need to address some of the unspoken issues that have arisen from the season before they drive off, embarking on a real relationship and being happy. For now, this is pre-Porche, post "I want to be with you". Now let's get to the story…


My Hope is built on Nothing Less

Chapter 1 - Brand

By JTrevizo

There were a lot of things that Felicity had wished for since the day Oliver had asked her out, what seemed years ago now: to hear Oliver say he loved her, for him to choose her, for them to have hot monkey sex…

Those things never included having to rebuild their relationship from the foundations after everything they'd been through the last few months.

First had been the League's demand to hand over Sara's murderer, and Oliver's choice to shield Thea by dueling Ra's al Guhl. When Malcolm Merlyn had come with the news of his death at Ra's hands, it has been a blow unlike any other, but After Oliver's return, his willingness to trust Malcom over his own team over his own team's objections had been stunning and painful.

When Ra's outed the Arrow, they'd lost not just the foundry but Roy as well. His choice to save Oliver with his faked death had been his penance. And then they'd been rocked with Thea's 'death', which had forced Oliver's hand and lead them to Nanda Parbat. It had only been there, facing the reality of Oliver's unthinkable 'Sophie's choice' that the two of them had finally been able to express in words and actions what they meant to one another. And in less than 24 hours after that, she'd had to leave Oliver there.

The weeks following had been hard, but watching him return to Starling City, as Al Sah-him; kidnapping Lyla and fight his friends, look at her like a stranger, had been worse. Finding out that his conversion to the League had all been an elaborate plan to take down Ra's and save Starling City, a plan only shared with Malcolm and that had excluded her and Digg had ripped the team apart, and if she was truthful, hurt her significantly. Thinking that he could walk away while the team died painfully after being exposed to the virus, even though it had been part of the plan, even knowing he'd married Nyssa to keep his cover hadn't hurt as much as the betrayal she felt at him not trusting her with the knowledge of what he was doing.

And then the final straw… that when he'd explained that he'd sabotaged the plane bringing the deadly virus to Starling City, and he hadn't planned to survive the crash - that he'd planned to die. When he'd admitted that, the thought that he'd agreed that they wouldn't say goodbye when she'd walked away from him in Nanda Parbat, knowing that it was all a plot to save the city and destroy Ra's, the idea that he would sacrifice himself and yet not care how it would affect her just cut her to the bone.

When she would have railed and screamed at him, exposing her hurt at his ill conceived plan that would have ended his life until he understood, the threat to Starling City had to take priority. So rather than push the subject while the city's population perished due to Ra's insanity, she'd just done what she had being doing for nearly three years – focused on the mission and getting all her team back in one piece.

As part of that, she'd sent Oliver out to stop Ra's with a simple statement of fact: "Don't fight to die, fight to live". And when he'd done just that, only to be shot by Starling City PD, she'd been the one that was there to rescue him.

And don't ask her how she didn't vomit when she first realized she was flying over the city to rescue him… that was simply because she didn't have the time to think about what she was doing other than saving him.

Now though, she has time to address the weeks and months of pain, confusion and hurt. To demand answers on how he could even consider making love to her one time, knowing that in the end he was going to martyr himself, leaving her with nothing but memories and regrets at what should have been.

The two of them now stood alone in the Palmer Technologies floor that had become the "Arrow Team" lair 2.0, the others having cleared out. They were mere feet apart, eyes locked on one another even as the agreement they'd just entered into reverberated around them – he'd told her that he wanted to be with her and asked her to run away with him; to make his recurring dream a reality. And she agreed without words because she wanted to. She wanted him to want her and was ready to go anywhere with him… even though parts of her head and heart had yet to deal with the consequences of his recent actions.

Breaking his gaze, she wrapped her arms around herself, holding in all the burgeoning emotions, both good and bad as she questioned, "So, are we going to talk about everything that's happened, or just pretend it didn't?"

There was a long pause, causing her to look up before he finally spoke.

"We can talk about whatever you want. But I was hoping that we could get some sleep first? It's been a long few days," Oliver remarked, a bruise on his jaw beginning to form, reminding her that not only had he'd been shot and fallen off a dam less than three hours ago, fought with Ra's to the death, and crashed a cargo plane, he'd also taken that right hook to the jaw from Digg.

The instincts of years of taking care of an injured Oliver immediately kicked in, and she quickly asked, "Did you want a lift to the loft? I'm sure Thea…"

Before she could finish he was stepping closer and cupping her elbow in that way she always thought meant much more than just guiding or stopping her - like it was a caress. His voice was soft when he said, "I don't want to leave you. Do you understand?"

She looked him in the eyes and saw the pain and regret there, but just below it was the love and burning need for her. It was the same need, longing and love that she had for him. Something that one night had only intensified rather than slaking.

"Okay, then…" she paused, considering what she was about to ask, "come home with me?"

That brilliant smile lit up his face as he gave her a slight nod, turning her slightly with the pressure of his hand on her arm and leading her to the door. They took the elevator down to the garage in silence, Oliver's hand holding hers the entire way, until they separated at the car. Memories of finding him bleeding out in the back seat hit her for a moment as she climbs in. She lets her gaze slide to the passenger seat to find Oliver sitting patiently as she jolts back to the task at hand and gets the car in gear.

The drive to her townhouse goes by in the same semi-comfortable silence that had been with them in the elevator, and Felicity didn't want to disturb it by talking about anything that could end up opening any of the emotional cans of worms that needed to wait until they'd had a good night's rest. The emotions of everything tonight, hell, for the last months of nights needed to be addressed with rational, awake brains rather than exhausted bodies and minds. So she focused on getting them to her place in one piece.

Parking in front of her townhome, Felicity parked her mini and headed for the front door, keys already in hand while Oliver followed behind her, the sound of the keyless locking mechanism cutting through the silence. Stepping inside her home, Felicity dropped her keys along with her phone and wallet on the couch before stripping off her jacket to join them while Oliver threw the dead bolt on the door. Moving to the bedroom, she stripped off her boots before turning to regard Oliver, who had gotten as far as hovering in the doorway of the room.

"What are you waiting for? You wanted to get some sleep; you aren't going to be able to do that unless you get in bed."

"I… I just haven't been in your bedroom before," Oliver replied with a low, rumbling tone.

"Well it might not have a 'sex you up' vibe like your room in Nanda Parbat, but considering we should be thinking about sleep, rather than sex, it's perfectly functional for its purpose," rambled Felicity, as she looked at the crisp white sheets under the purple duvet. It was quirky but definitely not 'romantic sex lair'.

"It's perfect," was his simple answer, his tone reminding her of the awe in his voice when he'd returned from his self imposed exile to Lian Yu following the Undertaking and he'd seen the custom made bow she'd had designed along with the foundry's upgrades. It made her smile.

"Okay, so, then clothes off… I mean whatever you feel comfortable sleeping in, not like I'm trying to get you naked, even if that would be great and I'm just gonna stop talking now."

Oliver smiled again, stepping fully into her bedroom before pulling off his boots and socks, putting them by the closet while Felicity started to strip off her top and pants, already heading to her dresser for something to sleep in.

At the sight of Felicity walking around her room in her white lace bra and underwear, Oliver lost his focus. His fingers held a fob fastening on his Mandarin style shirt half way down his chest, the top part gaping open already. When she turned around, seeing his partially unclothed chest, she winced. Peeking from behind the open material were three large round bruise marks from the rifle shots, all center mass. She dropped the clothes in her hand as she walked him, her fingers brushing over his stilled hands. Her eyes swept up to his, the request to help him in her eyes and he nodded briefly before closing them, letting his hands drop away as she turned her attention to finishing the task, parting the fabric and displaying his ever impressive chest to her gaze, littered with scars and tattoos that she recalled caressing vividly the last night they'd been together.

She pressed her hands lightly against his skin, the heat of his body making her draw a deep breath even as his caught in his chest. Skimming her hands across his flesh, she forced herself to not do something that would lead them to do anything other than lie down and rest, even as part of her was screaming at her to rip his clothes off and have her way with him. When her hands reached his shoulders, she slid them under the fabric, causing the shirt to fall to the floor. Then, without a conscious decision her palms slid downward over his shoulder blades and suddenly her left hand froze, her eyes swooping away from where she'd been staring at his chest to catch Oliver's eyes.

"What…" she began, her fingers brushing along raised skin that hadn't been there during their night in Nanda Parbat.

Oliver swallowed hard, his eyes burning through her before he turned, her hands lifting off him as he moved, revealing his back to her. Her breath caught and one hand went to cover her mouth, her eyes widening, moisture gathering near her lashes while her other hand tentatively reached out to touch the abused flesh.

There, cruelly burned into Oliver's flesh was an arrow symbol.

The mark of Al Sah-him.

"Oh my God. He…. They… Did you know?" her questions jumbling together, her voice soft while her fingers traced ever so lightly over the edges of the brand on his skin, marking him for eternity.

"Malcom said there were some rituals to join the league. Ra's pressed the branding iron into my back as part of the purification of my transformation to The Arrow," he said, not willing to speak the Arabic translation again, "but… no, I didn't know that they were going to do this until after you were gone."

"I won't ask if it hurt, as I know it had too."

Her fingers kept touching the mark, hate for the man who had done this and so much more to the man she loved threatening to consume her once more. But that man was dead on the top of a dam. And Oliver was alive in front of her.

"It didn't hurt as much as the knowledge that I'd let you leave without you knowing what I'd done. What I was doing."

"You could have told me. And Digg. We could have kept the secret…"

"If you'd had any idea of what I was going to endure to see the plan through, you would have doubled the dose of sleeping drought you put in my drink and dragged me out of there rather than let me stay."

Her eyebrows raised at that.

"You know I don't blame you for that. If our roles had been reversed…"

"I know. I just wish…"

He never let her finish as his hands rushed up to cup her cheeks, the feeling reminiscent of the kiss in the hospital.

"You have to know that my every thought, the way I kept sane was knowing that you were out there, that you loved me and that what I was doing would keep you, the others, and the city safe. I had always planned on coming back to you… it wasn't until things went sideways that…"

Felicity raised a hand to press over his lips, her heart beating faster at the touch. She didn't want to talk about his decision to be a martyr tonight, or anything else. Right now all she wanted was to kiss him and hold him and fall asleep knowing that when the sun came up in the morning that he wouldn't be walking away.

That they'd talk and work through everything, and then take that dream drive.

"Let's not talk about that now," she said softly as she smiled up at him, eyes still watery before she drew her hand away and then leaned up to kiss him.

He instantly dipped his head to meet her, their lips connecting for the first time since she'd left him behind in Nanda Parbat and the emotions were overwhelming. Oliver tipped her head with his hands, slanting their lips and allowing them to deepen the kiss.

When Felicity started to feel her willpower begin to slip, her hands griping his arms, she eased back, their lips dragging away from one another. Her eyes slowly opened to see Oliver's eyes still closed and the corners of his lips upturned into a faint, happy grin.

"If you keep kissing me like that I'll forget our very mature plan to just sleep. So finish getting undressed so we can get in bed," she said breathlessly, prompting a chuckle from Oliver.

Drawing his hands from her face, he left his fingertips slightly caress her cheeks before fully letting go. Once his hands were no longer holding her, she felt her legs wobble a bit as she forced herself to turn around and pick up her forgotten sleepwear – a bright blue cami and shorts set. She laid them on the corner of the bed and quickly shed her bra and slipped on the pajamas. Once she was done, she turned to find Oliver standing on the opposite side of the bed, clad now only in black boxer briefs.

Felicity swallowed hard as she reminded herself once again that they needed to sleep, then talk, then have more hot sex as they drove off on Oliver's dream trip. To that end, she moved to pull the blankets back, nodding to Oliver to get in on the other side. Crawling in, Felicity felt the bed dip and then Oliver was reaching over to her, hands open in silent request. She pivoted and turned off the light by the bedside, dropping the room into near darkness and then she shifted herself to settle in his embrace, his arms wrapping around her as she laid her head on his chest, her free arm reaching to pull the covers up and over them.

Her hand pressed against his heart, a place she'd covered earlier in the day, the steady, strong beat of it centering and calming her. Come the morning they'd talk about the things still between them, but she knew without a shadow of a doubt that the foundation of their friendship, of their love would allow them to rebuild what they had and make it all the stronger.

"I love you," she said gently against his chest, feeling his breath pull in hard as his arms tightened even more around her, reminding them both that they were here, and neither of them were going anywhere without the other.

"I love you too Felicity," he sighed in reply.

Her eyes drifted shut, the feel of him around her; the sound of Oliver's heart beneath her ear slowing down as sleep overtook his exhausted body lulled her into slumber.

-end ch 1-

So, yeah… reviews with thoughts would be wonderful. I do want to do one chapter each for the big issues, so if this goes well I'll be adding more. Thanks for reading!

Ms. J.