A/N: If you listen to the Arctic Monkeys (congratulations on your great taste in music), you'll recognize the title of this ficlet. Although the story was LOOSELY inspired (and entitled) by the song of the same name, this is, by no means, a song-fic. If you are so inclined, there are fic visuals over at my Pinterest Board 'A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.' (But be forewarned that I work ahead, so there are slight spoilers.) As always, thanks for reading and enjoy! ~Charlynn~
Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?
May 18, 2006
The first thing he noticed was her red pen.
No, that was a lie. Oliver could lie to everyone else in his life – his parents, his girlfriend, his one night stands, his best friend, even his little sister, but he refused to lie to himself. That was a slippery slope that, once he fell down, even he knew he'd never be able to climb back up. So, in the spirit of being honest with himself, Oliver had to admit that what he really noticed first were her lips.
They were pink – painted so, but he had a feeling the woman didn't need makeup to make her mouth look so attractive. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a bouncy ponytail, she wore glasses, and she was studiously taking the test before her. She looked prim and innocent... only, those lips were anything but. Pink was the color of little girls. It wasn't supposed to make his alcohol soaked brain sit up and take notice for the first time that morning. That week. But those pink painted lips were plump, and full, and sinfully wrapped around a red pen... and maybe Oliver had just spent far too much of his time at school going down on women instead of living up to the expectations his parents had set forth for him, but those kissable lips screamed anything but little girl.
So, yeah, her lips were pink, and her pen was red, and it was those two things that finally broke through his otherwise debilitating hangover. Glancing around the auditorium style classroom where he currently sat not taking the final exam still laying untouched and unopened upon the desk before him, Oliver tried – and failed – to remember what class this was for. In fact, he was having a hard time recognizing anything about his surroundings or even recalling how he had gotten there that morning. The last clear image in his mind was popping some pills one of Tommy's frat buddies had passed around like party favors and chasing the mystery drugs down with a generous portion of tequila.
For anybody else, the memory gaps might have been troubling, but this wasn't Oliver's first rodeo, and it would probably be more alarming if he could actually remember something about his classes given his attendance record. In fact, he was just shocked he'd made an attempt to take a final in the first place. He was being expelled. Kicked out. Asked to leave. Whatever the term was when you failed to even attempt to earn a grade at Harvard and then was promptly shown the door nine months later, that was his future collegiate status. So, nothing about his current situation bothered him except...
The red pen girl.
There was just something about her that he couldn't put his finger on. Well, to be honest, if he even put forth half the effort he displayed in pissing off his father, Oliver knew without a doubt that he could put his whole goddamn hand on any part of the blonde that he wanted to touch. And he did – want to touch her. What disturbed him was the fact that it was May, and he was only now recognizing this desire. Something about that didn't sit right with Oliver – so much so, in fact, that it made him dismiss the fleeting idea of putting the quiet of the lecture hall to good use and sleeping off some of his hangover and, instead, focus on something other than the ice pick playing target practice with his optical nerves.
As Oliver started to move, he only paid the test administrator at the front of the room – some bored, geek of a TA – a cursory glance. He knew the type. They were so convinced of their own abilities that they never once considered somebody else might be willing to skate by on someone else's work. In fact, the only reason Oliver looked at all was because he didn't want to get the studious blonde in trouble. Unlike him, she paid nothing but her test any notice, and getting her in trouble wasn't going to score him her number... or an invitation to get into her panties.
Luckily, the desk behind her was empty, so Oliver slithered his way down the platform seating and through the other students still diligently working away on their exams. Absently, he noted that he had swiped his own test packet before standing up, but that was more for a convenient cover story if caught and less about any real desire to actually attempt the final. By the time he slid into the chair directly behind Red Pen Girl, Oliver had earned himself several glares. They were an easy price to pay for a chance to find out what the blonde tasted like. She, however, didn't seem to notice his approach.
Well, that wasn't going to do.
Leaning forward, Oliver curled his torso around the plastic desktop, positioning himself so that he could both be mere inches from her neck and look over her shoulder. She wore an Oxford blouse. It was lilac. Normally, he'd find the choice to be too tame for his taste, but, at this angle, Oliver realized such a shirt worked for him. And it certainly worked for the blonde. Because, for whatever the reason – comfort, style, or allure, she had several buttons open, allowing him a tantalizing peek at the very tops of her round, pert breasts. It wasn't enough to provide him with a glimpse of her bra – no doubt, something ultra feminine and colorful... just like everything else she wore, but it was enough to confirm Oliver's earlier concern as to why he'd failed to pick her up months before.
"Hey," he whispered against the shell of her ear. Briefly, he worried about his breath. He was still wearing his clothes from the night before, so there was no way he had made it back to his apartment to shower and brush his teeth that morning before stumbling into this unfamiliar classroom. But, just as quickly as the concern appeared, Oliver banished it. Nobody else had ever complained about his morning after breath, so why would this girl? His confidence was only compounded when, after tensing momentarily in surprise, the blonde shivered. She hadn't even seen him yet and already was reacting towards him exactly how he wanted her to. "What's your name?"
She didn't answer, but his question was met by several annoyed shushes.
Not that Oliver was deterred.
In fact, if anything, their demands for silence just egged him on even more.
He dipped his head lower so that, when he next spoke, his lips were a mere whisper from brushing against that always sensitive hollow between Red Pen Girl's neck and shoulders. "I haven't been able to take my eyes off of you all morning," he murmured against the cotton of her blouse. Oliver noticed that she smelled like citrus and mint. Usually, he'd think that an odd combination – like drinking orange juice right after you brushed your teeth, but, on her at least, it worked. It was just so... clean, and it made him want even more to be the one to dirty her up. Shifting so that he could nose the back of her neck, Oliver felt the fine, loose tendrils of hair that had escaped her perky ponytail tickle his skin. Just before he closed his eyes in triumph, he saw her body react to his presence, to his words, to his touch – involuntarily or not – by breaking out in goosebumps. "The way you wrap your lips around your pen," he murmured, letting his words trail away. Oliver didn't need to say anything more; they both knew exactly what he was hinting towards.
At that point, she was thoroughly distracted, so he took the opportunity as it presented itself to him – sitting up slightly and reaching around her petite body to snag her test packet. As soon as his fingers wrapped around the papers, Red Pen Girl let out an adorable little 'eep!' of surprise. In vain, she tried to grab the exam away from him, but, even still half hungover, Oliver was too fast for her. Before anyone could realize what he had just done, he had both her completed and his entirely blank tests spread out before him, the answer to the only question that mattered that morning awaiting his perusal.
Her name was Felicity Smoak.
Oliver smirked to himself, pleased with his discovery. Not only was the blonde's name unique enough that even he'd have a decent shot at remembering it, but it fit her as well. At first, she appeared all soft and fragile. Feminine. But, upon closer inspection, you started to notice more about her. She had a rebellious streak – the red pen, an awareness of her own sensuality – the popped buttons on her blouse, a spark of danger – allowing him to take her test without immediately ratting on him... unlike every other self-serving, brown-nosing Ivy-Leaguer in the room. It was this realization that made Oliver pause as he went to hand her back her exam.
Shrugging his shoulders, he decided why the hell not? Oliver was not a guy to turn away from such an easy opportunity. One aced exam wouldn't be enough to salvage his otherwise dismal and disappointing scholastic career, but the time it would take to copy Red Pen Girl's – Felicity's – test would give him just that much longer to come up with a plan for his next move. Plus, hopefully by then, all the other dweebs in the room would be long-gone, and he'd actually have a chance to get her alone as they were walking out. After all, he not only owed her an apology but also some gratitude... and a chance to take him back to her place. They could start their summer break off together with a bang.
Grinning smugly to himself, Oliver set to work in completing his exam, changing enough of Felicity's answers to not get her in trouble. It didn't take him long to realize that it was for some kind of prerequisite humanities course – all dead painters and weird as shit composers, stuff his mother, and father, and every other member of their idle rich crowd would know just because it was considered proper. Oliver had no interest in conforming to their world, though. He was twenty-one and on his third college already, each of them having tried – and failed – to force this crap down his throat, and, if it wasn't for his need to see this game with Red Pen Girl through, he would have walked out of the doors as soon as he realized what the test covered.
As it was, even with Felicity's no-doubt perfect test in hand, Oliver couldn't be bothered to finish his own. So, ten minutes after stealing her exam from her desk, Oliver unceremoniously dropped it back down in front of Felicity, picked up her book-bag from the floor – slinging it over his own shoulder, and took one of her hands in his – leading her down to drop off their finals together and then out of the lecture hall. She stood stiff beside him – her muscles all taut with anxiety and mounting fury, and, if he found her cute while studiously chewing on her pen, in a temper Felicity was downright adorable. But she didn't give anything away as they moved together. She didn't wrench her fingers out of his grip, she didn't stomp away as soon as they were free of the classroom, and, as they approached the doors which would lead them outside into a crisp yet sunny May morning, Oliver felt a cocky smile tilt the corners of his mouth upwards in mirth and satisfaction. His plan to get the girl was going to work.
It always did.
But then she was spinning around on him in a swirl of colorful fury. The red from her pen was replaced by the blush to her cheeks, and, instead of staring at her pink lips, Oliver found his gaze locked upon the coral hue of her nails as she used her hands to shove against his chest, pushing him away from her. "What the hell!" Felicity didn't give him a chance to respond before she was railing against him. "Why would you do that to me? For ten minutes I sat there, scared stiff. If we would have gotten caughtt... if we get caught..." She swallowed roughly, and, when Oliver saw a glimmer of tears coat her baby blue eyes, he felt the first flicker of doubt and guilt lick through his stomach. "Look, I get it. Obviously, you're some rich brat who can get into any school he wants with a flick of his daddy's check-signing wrist, but some of us aren't here to join frats and kill time until our trust fund kicks in; some of us worked hard to get here, work hard to pay for this opportunity, work hard to stay here, and I'm not going to allow some arrogant, self-important, playboy... jerk to ruin it for me."
By the time she finished with her rant, with her dress-down, with her threat, Felicity was out of breath, and Oliver was thoroughly chastised... and turned on. "Are you finished?"
"I don't know," she snapped petulantly.
"Well, while you come up with more to yell at me for, let me first apologize. I never meant to scare you or make you think that your future was in jeopardy." She opened her mouth to protest, but Oliver talked over top of her... something he was pretty sure was quite the impressive feat. "Felicity, I don't even go to this school."
That got her attention. That made her snap her mouth shut. That made her blink rapidly, an endearing furrow of confusion wrinkling her brow.
Glancing around what he now knew to be the campus of MIT and not Harvard, Oliver chuckled to himself. It was Felicity's red pen which gave it away. MIT was an impressive school – as equal to Harvard as it was different, but no one at Harvard would take a final exam with a red pen. And that was nothing against Felicity. After all, he found everything about her to be fascinating and appealing, especially the way that she seemed to stand out from the crowd – all colors and light, and everything about his fellow Crimsons pompous and tiresome... not that he was any more a Harvard student, really, than Felicity was.
Once he noticed Felicity's red pen, everything else that was out of place that morning snapped into focus for Oliver. The reason why he had failed to pick up Felicity months before was because he was seeing her that day for the first time. He hadn't recognized the classroom he had been sitting in, because he had never been there before. And everything else that had been so alien to him was equally explained away by Oliver's hungover state. Whether he was there due to his own drunken ineptitude or because of a prank, the results were the same.
"The last thing I remember before looking down at my test booklet this morning was... having a drink with some friends last night." That was an honest if not sanitized version of the truth. "My guess? Those same buddies thought it'd be funny this morning if they shipped my drunk ass off in a cab to the wrong school, and I'm as terrible of a student as you surmised with just one glance in my direction to not realize I wasn't actually enrolled in Freshman Western Humanities until 45 minutes into the course's final exam."
Felicity still looked put out, but she had stopped shoving him away from her, at least. "You're still an asshole," she accused.
"And I'm pretty sure that your little stunt traumatized me." Felicity's eyes twinkled from behind her square glasses, and Oliver smirked. "This is going to take many boxes of red wine to recover from."
At that, he winced. Boxed wine? She really was a scholarship student. The tiny part of Oliver that somehow managed to stay connected with reality and those who weren't desensitized to it by the obscene lifestyle he called his own suddenly felt twice as bad for what he had done. Even if he managed to somehow get Felicity's number as a result of this stunt, he wouldn't deserve it.
Didn't mean he wasn't going to try, though.
"Red wine that I owe you after what I did in there." As he hooked his thumb over his shoulder indicating the lecture hall, Oliver never once considered the fact that Felicity was, no doubt, underage.
"I shouldn't," she hedged. Before he could tell her that she should – that she really, really should, Felicity was already giving in. "But red wine is my weakness, and I just bet you have an entire cellar of it back home in... The Hamptons?"
"Felicity Smoak," he teased her, feigning disbelief and affront. "You wouldn't be trying to get my address, would you, because I'm not that kind of guy; I'm not that easy." In response to his teasing, she just raised a brow and tipped her head to the side in an adorable display of, without words, calling him out on his bullshit. "You at least have to get me to put out before I invite you home to meet my family."
"Ha!," she challenged. "If you took home every girl you slept with, your parents would have to move to Brunei and have you named Sultan."
"Jealous," Oliver baited.
"More like repulsed."
"Well, then, it's a good thing I'm not inviting you to dinner with my parents... in Starling City," he continued to banter with her. As they talked, they moved towards the street where, at any minute, Oliver knew Felicity was going to insist he hail a cab to take himself back to his side of Cambridge. "All I'm asking for is your number... so that I can let you know when I get home safe later."
"Yeah... can't say I'm worried about either your ability to pay for a taxi or for a taxi driver's ability to find the campus of Harvard University."
"But what about that red wine I owe you," Oliver continued to pursue her number. Pursue her. "It won't find your doorstep all on its own."
Felicity shook her head in part amusement and part exasperation. "I might chew on a red pen, but I didn't use it to write 'sucker' across my forehead." He went to interject with yet another argument in his favor when Felicity held up a delicate, soft hand and stopped him cold in his tracks. "However," and she pulled out her own cell phone, passing it over to him. "Give me your number, and I promise to at least consider your offer of apology."
Beggars couldn't be choosers, and Felicity Smoak was worth a little groveling and pleading. Oliver hadn't done anything more with her than hold her hand, but the few minutes he had spent in her company made him feel more alive, more aware, more... everything than all of his previous conquests, one night stands, and even reunions with Laurel during the past year had made him feel.
Satisfied with the outcome of his morning... and not wanting to push his luck, Oliver typed his name and number into Felicity's phone with one hand while hailing a cab with the other. He was handing it back to her as he opened the taxi's back door, sliding into the yellow sedan and watching Felicity's expression the entire time. Maybe she didn't recognize his face – what, being a nerd and all – a hot nerd but a nerd nonetheless, but she'd definitely know his name. As realization washed across Felicity's delicate features – her plump, pink lips and bright, blue eyes going comically round and wide with comprehension, Oliver grinned widely.
"Call me," he dared her.
Then, he slammed the cab's door shut, and the car pulled away.