It's been two days.
Forty-eight hours have passed since Oliver and Felicity finally stopped in their journey away from Starling at a small motel, a good few hundred miles and a couple of states away just like they wanted, with a view of the beachfront. What time they haven't spent travelling or sleeping has mostly been used for both of them, physically at least, to get properly acquainted with each other – in a slow, unhurried way that they haven't been able to do until now. They've stopped only to order room service, or wine, and a couple of hours ago they drifted off to sleep together, Felicity's arm curled around Oliver's waist, her head resting on his bare shoulder. Felicity is wearing one of Oliver's t-shirts, which is so big for her that the hem reaches halfway down her thigh, and Oliver himself is only in his boxer shorts.
Oliver's always been a light sleeper. Even before the island, he's had a tendency to wake up even at the slightest movement or the quietest sound. And that didn't change when he was on Lian Yu, either – to this day, he still remembers how much the storms kept him up at night. (Not to mention the very first night he returned to Starling City and had his mother in a chokehold the moment she tried to touch his shoulder when he was having a nightmare.)
That is why he is awoken from his slumber almost immediately when he feels Felicity shift next to him, a strangled sound leaving her mouth. His eyes fly open at the noise – so frightened and alien to his ears that Oliver feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. "Oliver," she moans in her sleep, her eyes still closed, limbs shaking, and when she says his name a second time, it is louder, a cry of desperation. "Oliver, please! We trusted you. You asked us to trust you and we trusted you!" He freezes, recognising the words now, unable to move even as Felicity thrashes in the bed beside him. "Oliver! Oliv –"
Instinctively, his hand shoots out, as if of its own accord, to grab her arm, and to his relief, that is enough to jerk her out of her nightmare. Felicity almost jumps up into a sitting position on the bed, still breathing heavily, and as Oliver looks closer, he can see tears streaming down her face, forehead shiny with sweat. And when she looks down at where he is still holding her wrist, she looks so afraid and shaken up that he moves his hand away without her asking.
"Felicity…" he begins to say, but he trails off into silence, because he has no idea what to say. And as she meets his gaze, he realises she doesn't either.
"I'm fine," she says at last. Her blonde hair is darkened with sweat as she pushes it away from her face, before wiping the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand.
"You were having a nightmare."
"I don't need to be told that," she says immediately, her voice painfully brittle. She sits up properly, moving away from him and leaning her back against the headboard of their bed, huddling the sheets closer to her. Oliver hesitates, not knowing whether to keep his distance or move closer to her.
After a moment, he decides on the latter, sitting up so he is at her side. Impulsively, he presses a kiss on her clammy temple, and he is relieved when he feels her relax a little against him, enough for him to feel okay placing his arm around her shoulders.
"I'm sorry," he says softly. He doesn't have to tell her that he heard what she was shouting in her sleep. She already can tell.
"I know you are. I know, Oliver. I just – reliving the moment when I thought I was going to die in Nanda Parbat… it's not exactly fun. Especially knowing you were going to marry Nyssa."
His shoulders sink – although, he supposes, they were bound to have this conversation at some point. "I know we haven't really talked about it," he says. "Not properly."
Felicity looks up at him, manages a weak smile. "Yeah, well, we were kind of occupied with other things, weren't we?"
Oliver tries to smile back, but he isn't sure he quite manages it. "Maybe just a little."
Still, Felicity's voice becomes stronger, warmer, when she speaks again. "I just couldn't believe the man who told me how much he loved me… who showed me how much he loved me not even a month ago would kidnap his best friend's wife and was about to leave me to die in a dungeon while he married someone else. Especially when that someone else was your dead ex-girlfriend's girlfriend."
"It was never part of the plan," Oliver says instantly, and Felicity nods, sighing resignedly.
"I know. And, I mean, I know Lyla's okay. And Sara. And you didn't let me die in a dungeon. I just thought I was going to."
But Oliver shakes his head. "No. I mean… none of it was part of the plan. I didn't plan on any of you having to come to Nanda Parbat to stop Ra's so soon. Malcolm said it would be months until my ascension, until Ra's would feel the need to target Starling City – and I expected to be deep enough into the League to defeat it from the inside without involving you… or anyone else I care about."
"And dying in the process," Felicity adds; her tone isn't harsh, or accusatory, even though Oliver's sure he deserves far worse.
Oliver closes his eyes. "Yeah," he says at last. "And I thought… if I died, then the fact that I was dishonouring the memory and wishes of the people I love would – I don't know, die with me."
And at first, Felicity doesn't say anything, just frowning a little as she digests this in silence.
"Working with Merlyn, you mean." And this time, Oliver can't bring himself to even say the word "yes"; he just nods mutely instead as his arm drops back to his side and he finds himself hugging his knees, unable to meet her eyes. "Can I ask you something?" she says after a moment, and Oliver has to force himself to look back up at her.
"How did you know that Merlyn would inoculate all of us? I mean," she says, "it wouldn't really make much sense for him to only inoculate himself and let us all die, because he would still be chained to the floor in a dungeon, so it's not like it would have been an ideal situation for him, but –"
"I knew," Oliver interrupts. "We had an agreement, and he would have stuck to the plan. He would never have let any of you die."
Felicity doesn't even try to hide her scepticism. "We are talking about the same person here, right, Oliver? You know, super-villain, Malcolm Merlyn, who tried to kill you on more than a few occasions and who is responsible for so much of the misery in your life – right down to you being marooned on Lian Yu in the first place? And now I mention it, why did he even agree to help you in the first place? It can't have been out of the goodness of his heart, because, you know, that would imply he actually had one."
He sighs heavily. "You're right," Oliver says. "Merlyn is… all the things you say he is and worse. But I knew he would do what I needed of him – not because I trusted him, because I didn't. It was because of what I was offering him."
"Offering?" Felicity repeats. "What did you –"
"I meant to tell you before," Oliver says, and now he can't bear to look at her anymore, not when he can see such incredulous disbelief in her eyes, "but honestly, I was –"
"What did you offer him?" she cuts across, and there is an almost biting impatience in her tone that is so uncharacteristic of Felicity that it only makes Oliver hesitate more.
"Malcolm," he says finally, "is the new Ra's al Ghul."
"Oh my God." Felicity buries her face into her hands. "You're… you're actually serious, Oliver?"
"It was the only way," Oliver says, and he doesn't even need to see her face to know she is letting out a sigh of frustration at his words. "And I didn't trust him. I don't. But I knew I needed him… and I knew that the only way I could rely on him was by –"
"– making him an offer he couldn't refuse," she finishes. She gets up from the bed, going over to the table at the far end of the room to the half-empty wine bottle that is sitting in a tub of mostly-melted ice.
In a way, Oliver wishes she would blow up at him or at least say something, because Felicity's silence hurts far more than her words ever could.
"I'm sorry," he says again. Her back is still to him as she takes a sip of the wine, straight from the bottle, and then it becomes too much for him – he gets out of the bed and onto his feet, too, shivering a little now he's away from the warmth of the bedsheets. "Felicity… I'm sorry. About all of it. And I know that that isn't enough – that a thousand apologies aren't enough –"
But when he reaches out to touch Felicity's shoulder, she turns round, facing him again, and Oliver's hand drops to his side once more. "Oliver, I love you, but… this isn't just about my feelings being hurt. I mean, I can live with it – the nightmares, you technically being married, the fact that you didn't confide in us about your plan. Because that stuff, no matter how much it hurts, will pass. Eventually. But I'm not the one you should be apologising to. You being, you know, in flagrante with Malcolm Merlyn hurt other people – in ways that are a lot worse."
And somehow, he finds it impossible to hold back any longer; the words just start tumbling out. "Felicity, it wasn't exactly easy for me, working with the man who killed my best friend, who orchestrated the death of a woman I loved, and who was responsible for me having to watch my father shoot himself in the head –"
"What?" Immediately, some of the anger leaves her eyes, and Oliver closes his eyes, wishing he hadn't spoken. But to his surprise, he feels her hand close around his wrist and the soft huff of her warm breath on his bare chest as she moves closer to him. It calms him a little.
"Malcolm sabotaged the Queen's Gambit," he says after a moment, his voice much quieter, "but my dad and I made it to a life raft along with a member of the crew. We didn't have enough provisions for the three of us. Eventually, Dad ended up shooting the crew member, and – after he told me that I had to survive, to live through whatever horrors I would face on the island, he… shot himself in the head. And I had to drift on the life raft for – I don't even know how long, with my father's dead body in the boat beside me, until I got to the island and could bury him."
Her grip on his hand tightens, and he squeezes her fingers back. "Oh, God, Oliver, I –"
"It's okay," he murmurs. And he means it. The rush of emotion that wells up in his throat isn't anger – not towards Felicity, anyway.
"No, it's anything but okay," Felicity says firmly. "I had no idea. The number that must have done to your head – I can't even imagine what that must have been like for you. I'm so sorry."
And then Felicity's arms are around his middle and she is hugging him tightly, pressing her face into his bare chest. Oliver hugs her back, one hand tangling in her hair. "Me too." Silence falls on them again, but this time it's not quite as icy. More lukewarm, really. "My point is," Oliver says eventually, as he pulls back, "I know exactly what Merlyn has done to ruin my life and the lives of the people I love. Which is why it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, working with him – working with the man who not only took all those lives but also completely violated my sister's agency when he put her under the influence of that drug and made him kill Sara. I wouldn't have agreed to dishonour the memory of those closest to me if I had any other option, Felicity. But I had to. To save the city, to save you, I had to."
Felicity nods slowly, but as she goes to sit back on the bed, still holding the wine bottle, she has an almost unreadable expression on her features. "And what about Nyssa's agency?"
Whatever he expected her to say, it isn't quite this. "Felicity –" he starts to say, but she interrupts him.
"No, really, Oliver. I mean, it's good to know that you actually understand just what it is Merlyn did to your sister, but even if you put that all aside, did you think about all the… collateral damage that would happen, to your wife, no less, because of your plan?"
"Nyssa's not my wife," Oliver says instantly.
"I think the League would beg to differ," Felicity says. "Not to mention Nyssa herself."
"We both agreed that she was going to renounce the marriage soon as she got back to Nanda Parbat," he tries, but he's already told her that. Her expression doesn't change one bit. And, truthfully, he can't really blame her.
"That doesn't matter. This is about the fact that Nyssa, who I'm pretty sure is gay, was forced to marry a man she didn't love. This is about the fact that when John pulled a gun on you in Palmer Tech, on you, Oliver, not herself, she was ready to shoot him, not because she cared personally about your safety – in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she had tried to kill you at some point to avoid getting married to you –"
"She did try," Oliver admits, with some reluctance. "During the ceremony, she had a knife on her." He doesn't add that the whole time the priestess had been speaking, officiating the marriage, Oliver had felt sick to his stomach – not just because he was actually marrying Nyssa al Ghul, but because in spite of the bargain he had struck with Malcolm, a part of Oliver had wondered if Malcolm would inoculate all of them as instructed.
Her voice is hollow as she continues, "Exactly, Oliver. She probably hates you and was ready to kill you, but the moment she was married to you, she protected you, was willing to kill for you… and all because, I'm guessing, no matter how much she didn't like it, she felt it was her duty to protect you. Her husband."
Oliver watches as Felicity places the bottle on the bedside cabinet, wishing her cheeks weren't covered with tear tracks or that her voice wasn't so thick with emotion. "I'm not her husband," he insists. "In the eyes of the League, maybe, but I think it's pretty obvious there's only one person I would ever want to marry." And even from where she is sitting, he can tell her breath catches sharply in her throat from the way she freezes and exhales slowly. Without skipping a beat, he says, "And I'm looking right at her."
And he can see, now, that she is suddenly fighting a rosy pink flush that makes its way up her neck and to her cheeks. He can tell she is holding back something that looks like a smile, from the way her teeth worry her bottom lip, but he can also see the tears still shining in her eyes, the uncertainty, confusion, even. "Oliver, we've only been together, officially together, for two days and –"
He shakes his head. "Felicity, this isn't – I'm not trying to – I'm trying to say that it was never supposed to happen. Me marrying Nyssa. And you're right. I didn't think about how it would affect her, or how much she must hate me right now for letting Malcolm become the new Ra's. And if I could turn back time, I would do things differently."
"But you can't," Felicity says. "With Ra's, or Nyssa, or Merlyn."
Oliver looks up at her hopelessly. "You're right. And I... don't know what to do. I don't know if there's anything I can do to make you forgive me."
"Is that why you didn't tell me before?" she asks quietly.
Despite her words, though, a wave of relief washes over him when she gestures for him to sit back down on the bed beside her. Oliver does just that, and when he does, she hands him the wine bottle. He takes a long draught from it, grateful for the rush of alcohol that goes down his throat.
"Something like that," he says. "And honestly, I didn't want to screw things up between us. Not again. Especially after everything we've been through together – I didn't want it all to be for nothing."
"It's okay," Felicity says softly, lifting her hand to his cheek. Oliver closes his eyes at her touch. Her palm is so soft, so warm, and the way her thumb is pressing on the underside of his jaw is making it hard for him to string his words together in his head. "We're here now."
"We are." His hand covers hers, now, gripping her fingers. "And it's just the two of us."
"Just like you dreamed of." The corners of Oliver's mouth upturn a little, not quite a smile but something approaching it.
"I know I've wronged a lot of people," he whispers, eyes still closed, and his heart feels lighter once the confession leaves his lips. "And I know that I'm not going to automatically get your forgiveness… that that's going to take time."
"Yeah, it is," she agrees. "But it will happen."
"You sound so sure." The words are out of his mouth barely before he even realises, just as his eyes meet hers.
"I am," Felicity says. "Because when you're with someone, that's what you do. You work through things. Together."
He wraps his arm around Felicity's hips, his hand going higher, higher under the hem of the t-shirt she is wearing until it is flat against the soft flesh of her lower abdomen.
"I love you," he says quietly, and she kisses him in return, her lips snatching at his with an insistence that he doesn't expect. He lets her push at his chest so he is lying on his back and she is straddling his waist, and Oliver finds himself smiling, properly smiling, for the first time since Felicity surfaced from her nightmare. She reaches down to kiss him again, but their lips touch only for a few moments before she moves away.
"Felicity?" he replies, and she smiles automatically.
"Did we just have our first fight?" she asks.
Oliver chuckles. "I think we did," he says after a moment. She narrows her eyes a little, looking thoughtful, as if she is considering something. "What?"
She shrugs and smiles again, before lowering her mouth to his, kissing him gently. "I kind of expected more shouting. And, I don't know. Angry sex, maybe."
That only makes him laugh more. "I'm glad there wasn't more shouting." He's silent for a minute, letting Felicity kiss him, but she can sense his hesitance. She opens her eyes and looks at him questioningly. "Did you mean what you said?"
For a second, she looks confused. "Which part?"
Again, he pauses, unsure whether he should say anything. "The part when you said all this –" he gestures with his hand, and she nods, seeming to understand what he means "– will pass? I mean… we can move on from this, right?"
"Oliver," Felicity interrupts, "I'm not going anywhere." And the relief must be obvious on his face because then she says, "Did you really think I was going to –?"
He tries to smile. "I know we've kind of gone headfirst into – whatever this is. And – I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if I even deserve... any of this. I wonder if I deserve you."
Felicity closes her eyes in exasperation. "Do me a favour, Oliver, and please don't say that again."
"I'm sorry," he says quickly, and he sits up, now, the full weight of her on his lap.
"That too," she adds, shifting her position a little so she is more comfortable. "You've made mistakes, Oliver, and you're not perfect. But neither am I."
His hand moves down her arm until their fingers are interlocked. "I'd say you come pretty close," he can't help but say, and this time Felicity smiles properly.
"What I mean is... whatever you've done, that doesn't make me love you any less. It might make me pissed at you for a while, or longer, but that doesn't change how I feel about you. And don't think for one second that you don't deserve to be with me. Because you do. You're a good person with a good heart."
Oliver lets her words sink in, and then unexpectedly she reaches up, cradling his cheeks, and she kisses his forehead. He closes his eyes as she lets her lips linger for a few moments before pulling away and meeting his eyes, still holding his face. His fingers close around her wrists.
"Thank you," he breathes gratefully.
And then Oliver's hand is on her bare thigh as he slowly lies back down, back sliding against the headboard. He tries not to groan when he feels her legs tighten around his waist while she lifts her arms up and takes off her (or his) t-shirt, before settling on top of him, using the mattress beneath them for support, so he can feel the warmth of her skin and the soft curves of her breasts against his equally bare chest. Felicity grins, about to say something, but when he flips them over so he is on top of her, she lets out a yelp of surprise. Already, his hand is cupping her breast. He can feel her slip her hand down his stomach, making to wander between his legs, but before she can, he dips his head down, pressing a kiss on her right breast while his fingers tease the nipple of her left.
Even now, he hasn't quite gotten used to the wonderful feeling of her stiffened nipple on his tongue, or the way she shifts and arches upwards whenever he moves his mouth even a little on her skin. Then he switches to her other breast – he's learned, too, that her right breast is more sensitive than her left, so he goes gentler, loving how Felicity reacts to every movement of his mouth, his tongue leaving a moist trail on her skin that lessens the prickle of his stubble. He catches her nipple with his teeth, lightly, and she moans, sending a tremor down his spine, but he doesn't stop, even as Felicity reaches down to grip his shoulder tightly, pressing his mouth down even harder on her breast.
"Oliver…" she whispers, and he moves down, kissing the spot just below her breast and further down, along her hip. He is positioned between her legs, now, and when his fingers tangle with the waistband of her panties, Felicity tugs them down immediately, shaking her legs a little so they fall to her ankles. Gently, Oliver parts her legs wider and lowers his head, running his tongue along the inside of her thigh. The skin there is wet, and when he gets to her dripping centre, he has to bite back a groan.
(For three solid weeks when he was in Nanda Parbat, he had dreamt of the heady taste that was so sweet and musky, so Felicity, every single night without fail,and the whole time, he didn't think he would ever taste it again.
She'd laughed when he'd told her that, their first night there in that motel. But her laughter had become a loud moan when he had made her come so hard that she had actually told him she saw stars.)
Felicity's not much of a talker during sex. Another thing he's learned in the last couple of days. It initially came as a surprise to him, given her tendency to talk for the both of them most of the time, but he likes it – the way she groans without saying anything, not even trying to hold back in the slightest, the way her breathing speeds up when she is right on the edge (like now), the way his name spills from her lips several times over in quick succession – "OliverOliverOliverohGodOliver" – when she is at her highest.
She's close to that now – he can tell from how she thrusts against his mouth. His tongue darts out, finding her clitoris and lapping up every bit of the damp heat from her walls, and when she arches into him, Oliver only grips onto her knees – currently both slung over his shoulders – more firmly. Felicity moans his name, once, twice, three times, but he doesn't move his mouth, even as she chases her release higher and higher until she is gasping for air.
He goes gentler, eventually pulling away to kiss the inside of her thigh, which is still quivering from her orgasm and still glistening from the wetness leaking from her centre. Oliver can feel her body slowly relax beneath his mouth, and he looks up at Felicity, meeting her eyes from over her stomach which is still rising and falling heavily with each breath she takes.
"I take back what I said before," she says breathlessly. "You are perfect... at that, anyway."
Oliver smiles back at her. "I love you too." And while he's still holding her gaze, he slides two fingers inside her, making her gasp and clench at the bedsheets. He's never touched her when she's been this sensitive before – so soon after her climax – so after a second, he lightens his touch, so just his fingertips are going tap-tap around her entrance, soaked with her essence. He lowers his head, lifts his hand to his mouth and sucks his fingers clean.
And this time Felicity is the one to part her own legs wider, while her feet go up and over his shoulders once more. He can feel the heels of her feet dig into the muscles in his upper back, her hands settling on the back of his neck; he goes slower this time, easing his tongue inside her, and just touching the tip of his tongue against her already sensitive clitoris. He waits, waits for her hips to stop shaking and rocking back and forth at the initial contact, and then he sucks down, so he can feel every throb and moan and arch of her back. Felicity's saying something now, her voice going higher than he's ever heard it go, and he's unrelenting in the way his mouth is still pressed down on that silken bud inside her even as she lets out a long "AaaaahGodOliveryesrightthere" – and still Oliver doesn't stop, even though his own hard-on is becoming almost painful between his legs. He sucks down one last time, and she comes with a breathless pant, punctuated with a softly mouthed "fuck" as her body continues to shudder slowly and she floats back to earth.
(Before he left Starling with her, he'd never heard her curse, either, but he's quickly learned that pretty much anything Felicity Smoak does during sex is a turn-on for him.)
After pressing a final kiss on her entrance, Oliver crawls up Felicity's body, only stopping when his face is level with her neck.
"Love you," Felicity murmurs, lifting his face to hers and kissing him soundly on his lips. "Keep that up and you'll be forgiven in no time."
Oliver kisses her again before waiting for an answer, and he can feel the warm hum of her laughter on his lips. "No," she says. "Because I've forgiven you already."
Without warning, her hand slips inside his boxers while she's still speaking, and again, Oliver presses his lips together and holds back a groan, instead trying to focus on what she's saying. "Why?" he just about manages to get out, but Felicity is pushing at his shoulders now so he's on his back and she is half on top of him, one hand anchored on his bicep fot support, the other still inside his underwear.
"I told you," she says quietly, after pressing a kiss on the hollow of his throat, "that's what people do when they're together and they love each other. They forgive each other." And then her warm grey eyes sparkle with promise as she adds, slowly moving her hand down his length, "And, you know, they do other things, too."