Sometime in the not-so-distant future…
"I cannot even begin to tell you how stupid this is."
Oliver has to bite the inside of his lip to keep from smiling. He manages to keep it at bay, scanning the surrounding alley instead, as his very beautiful and very pregnant wife walks next to him.
Walk is a relative term. It's more like a waddle, these days, though he absolutely knows better than to tell her that.
"This is next-level-stupidity, Arrow," Felicity hisses. "You should not be out here and you should definitely, definitely not be out here with me." Despite her insistent words to the contrary, she doesn't let go of her death grip on his hand. When he uses his bow to indicate a puddle she's about to step into, her hand only tightens as she shuffles around the water. "What if someone sees us?"
"I'm wearing my mask, honey."
"Well, I'm not!" she retorts, waving at her face with expressive tangerine-painted nails. Her very obscured face. The burst of orange on her fingertips and a stray lock of blond hair are the only identifiers that make it out of the shadows. Oliver can't stop the grin that pulls at his lips at the sight of her in his grey zip-up sweatshirt. It's worn, well-used and starting to thin along the hem and elbows. She'd commandeered it as her own long ago. And, even though she's now well into her ninth month, the sweatshirt still hangs on her. The sleeves are bunched up over her arms, continually sliding down, and the hood is tugged low over her face - the very gorgeous face she's still waving at. He can't see her without ducking down to look beneath the cowl. When he does just that, trying to get a little chuckle out of her, it backfires. She points at his face with a dangerous jab of her finger. "And you know I mean a body mask, because nobody needs to see my face to figure out who I am at the moment, Oli… Arrow."
She growls at her almost-slip.
"I'm just escorting a lovely pregnant woman to safety," Oliver replies, unable to keep a cheeky grin off his face. "That's all."
"I'll show you just how lovely I can be, buster."
"We're almost there," Oliver promises, pressing his gloved fingers into her lower back. How she's even standing after the night they've had is a testament to the strength that flows through her veins, the very same strength that will be so readily evident in their daughter when she arrives.
Soon. Their daughter is almost here and he cannot wait.
The doctors swear that Felicity's due date isn't for nearly another three weeks, but they both know there's no way she'll make it that long. He's so very grateful for that because he's not sure he could make it that long either. And, based on the colorful curse words that have been flying wildly from his wife's mouth over the last month, she definitely can't wait either.
"I already love our daughter more than anything in the world, but, Oliver, if she doesn't get out of me soon, I'm not just going to lose my mind, I'm going to have to have it physically scooped out of my head in order to get through these next few weeks."
"You should've stayed back there," she says as she kicks someone's discarded beer bottle to the side.
Oliver sighs. "I wasn't about to let my almost forty-week pregnant wife go get the van by herself in a really, really questionable part of the Glades."
"John would've come with me," she argues, as if that's any better. Due to some combination of her last trimester of pregnancy and irritation at their current predicament, her tolerance level is slipping lower and lower with each passing second, which in turn makes her grouch level rise. Not that he'd ever tell her, but he's learned to navigate said grouchiness pretty well. He treasures his life way too much to risk her wrath. "Everyone knows the Arrow. How many explosively pregnant women do you think there are in this city? I'm not exactly low-profile. It's pretty well-known that your…" Her voice lowers as she speaks through gritted teeth, "Alter ego also has a very near-to-term wife. The dots are going to connect for someone. Honestly, I knew you were lying five seconds after I met you. I'm bright, but I'm not the only genius in this ci-"
Without warning, Oliver interrupts her with a hushed, "Felicity."
He stops, pulling her into the shadows, not bothering to glance around - he knows they're alone - as he slips his hand under the hood, finding her cheek.
"Thank you," he whispers.
That takes her completely off guard. "For what?"
He smiles, stroking her cheek with his thumb. He leans forward, kissing her forehead - what he assumes is her forehead - through the sweatshirt. She lets out another huff of annoyance before reaching up and tugging the hood back just enough to see him. A streetlamp a couple dozen feet away catches the edge of her glasses as her gaze meets his.
She positively glows. She's a beacon of life and vitality, a bright spot in this alleyway of grime. Her cheeks are still flushed from the adrenaline rush earlier, warm even through his gloves from the exertion of the hike back to the van. He hates how far they had to park away from the warehouse, for two reasons: her computers couldn't tap into what she needed in the building from the van's relative safety, and they couldn't just pull the van around to keep her off her feet, something she had choice words about.
"These guys just had to choose an alley literally littered with dumpsters. And yes, I do realize I'm complaining about the litter-filled things littering the alleyway! The point still stands!"
God, he loves this woman.
"We couldn't have done this without you," Oliver says.
It's a huge admission, and his voice reflects that. Because he'd been one hundred percent against her even going into the bunker, much less on the mission. Especially when she'd gotten a light contraction earlier that morning, and even more when it'd happened again during their argument about her not going. He was honestly afraid to ask if she'd had any more while she'd been dismantling the computer that had almost stripped half the city's money. His mother would have killed him if that had happened, and it would have been pretty bad for the city.
So yeah, there definitely hadn't been a margin of error and he absolutely could not have done this without his brilliant wife's expertise.
Felicity snorts. "No, you couldn't have," she agrees. Oliver laughs and she pokes him in the chest, opening her mouth to continue before changing her mind. Her face softens, partly from absolute exhaustion and partly from something much deeper - love. And yet, she can't quite help herself. "You know, this could have been done hours ago if you'd just agreed to me coming along in the first place."
That earns him the best thing possible: her smile.
It's a solid reminder that she holds him in the palm of her hand.
"Remember that for next time then," Felicity says. "I'm just as awesome pregnant as when I'm not carrying a cannonball in my stomach."
Delight makes his heart feel twenty times bigger. Oliver raises an eyebrow, dropping his hand to brush the side of her stomach. "Next time, huh?"
"I meant next time we have a mission, Oliv… ia… er." She rolls her eyes at herself, and when he grins, she shakes her head. "How about we get this one out first before we start talking about next time."
It's not even a question and they both know it. Of course there will be a next time, there has to be. Their next child has to come into existence, if just because they know there's a next time.
"I can't wait," Oliver whispers.
Felicity hums under her breath, shifting closer to him. She plants her hands against his leather-clad chest, raising an eyebrow up at him. Her fingers are swollen, emphasizing the ring on her finger.
"You know what else I can't wait for?" she asks.
"What's that?" he asks. His hand settles on her hip, subtly pulling her further into the shadows. The night had been a success and he's more than content to take a few more minutes with his wife, as long as they keep some sort of cover.
"Practicing for next time," she whispers, her mouth curling in a knowing smile. A slice of need cuts through him at the look in her eyes. When she licks her lips, his mind jumps straight to other things she's licked in the last few days. She smirks, like she knows exactly what he's thinking. Which she probably does. "I really, really miss practicing, Oliver."
God, so does he.
"Like… the last time we had the van?" she continues, tapping her finger against his chest. "Or in that warehouse, or in the kitchen… the shower…"
His body hardens, straining against the very, very tight leather he's wearing. He grips her hip firmly, taking a steadying breath that does absolutely nothing to calm his suddenly racing heart.
Felicity has settled into this pregnancy like a second skin, wearing it proudly. Flaunting it, even. She's gorgeous and sexy, and the confidence she carries only emphasizes that, making him want to drop to his knees and worship at her feet for an eternity. He always wants her - always - but there's something incredibly erotic about the fact that she's carrying his child in her body, a life they created together. It sends his desire for her through the roof.
They haven't had the time they used to, but when they do manage to get a few minutes alone, he makes sure she knows how he feels.
"We should stay in tonight," Oliver says. Usually around this time of night, she's asking him to prop her feet up higher on the couch while making sure she has every single piece of technology in the house within arm's reach. All of which he gladly does. But he has to admit that this idea sounds so much better. She steps closer - as much as she can with the stomach she's wielding - as he continues in a grittier voice, "We do have the house all to ourselves…"
Felicity grins, biting her bottom lip. It's all innocence until she slips her hand down his chest and grips him through his leather pants. "We do, don't we?"
Oliver's hips jerk forward and he laughs, ducking his head until his forehead touches hers. "You're insatiable."
"Yes," she says, squeezing him, making him swell with a need that definitely cannot be taken care of right now. The thought makes him groan and she adds, "I am."
He chuckles, biting the tip of his tongue before reluctantly pulling her hand away. "You were so worried about people seeing us walking down the street. What do you think they'll say when they see something else?"
"I suddenly really don't care," Felicity whispers, which makes him laugh so loudly it echoes down the alleyway. That seems to sober her, because she steps back reluctantly. "Wow, the acoustics in here are kind of amazing." She makes a face. "Alright, I care a little."
"Just a little," he says before giving her a quick, chaste kiss and stepping away. Because if he doesn't, things might spiral and they really don't need that. Tugging her hood back down to cover her face, he grabs her hand, stepping out of the shadows. "C'mon." His hand finds her lower back. It's more habit than anything that has him digging his fingers into her back, trying to soothe the overstrained muscle there. One of the first things he's going to do when she's ready and cleared by the doctors is plant her face-down on the bed and massage every inch of her until she's putty in his hands. His body tightens and he groans under his breath. Yeah, let's think about that later. "Let's go before you get me into trouble."
"Ha! Like it's just me." Felicity snorts. "And, so you know, I'm still really peeved that you didn't let John bring me to the van."
He huffs, wrapping his arm around her waist, gripping her hip. "I'm not letting you out of my sight." He leans in closer. "At least until you're naked in bed."
"You are my priority. Always."
She doesn't respond to that, but he does feel her melt slightly under his touch.
As they finally spot the van where it's parked in front of a closed garage, Felicity takes a second to fish out the keys stuck in the pocket on her thigh. The workout pants she's taken to wearing in lieu of her skirts - something she bemoans on a near-daily basis - have proven themselves rather handy; they come with pockets, something most of her skirts and dresses seriously lacked.
With a small sound of triumph, Felicity pulls them out and pushes the button to unlock the van.
The parking lights blink…
And that's when Oliver hears it.
The soft scuff of a shoe on the roof directly behind them.
His heart drops and he freezes in his tracks. He turns his head, zeroing in on the sound, but just as quickly as it was there, it's suddenly gone.
When it doesn't come again, he almost dismisses it as nothing…
"What is it?" Felicity asks quietly, her hand coming up to grip his arm.
But then he hears it again, followed by another one on the opposite roof.
"Go," Oliver hisses as instinct takes over. He pushes Felicity towards the van, spinning to cover her as he whips an arrow out of his quiver. "Get to the van," he says, lifting his bow. "Now."
She's already moving, hurrying as fast as she can, but before she can take more than a few steps, three bodies drop from the sky in a blur of darkness.
Two land in front of Oliver and one lands between her and van.
It's not the sound of heavy boots landing on the ground that make his insides curdle with fear, nor is it the whoosh of clothes as their attackers pull out weapons. It's not his own sharp inhale as his training takes over, already shooting an arrow at one of the attacker's legs to incapacitate him or the squeal of tires somewhere in the distance.
It's his wife's startled cry quickly followed by her shoe skidding on the ground as she tries to twist away from the man advancing on her.
It's the gravel giving way under her feet, making her drop to her knees with a loud smack and her growled, "No!" as the attacker grabs her arm, yanking her up to her feet.
It's the sound of her struggling as Oliver fights off the other two, and the sound of her back hitting the van where the man throws her against it.
It's the sound of her yelling, "Hey, no. Stop!" when the man moves to tackle Oliver from behind and the telltale sound of her shoes catching on the broken pavement as she goes after him and the man turns and slams his fist into her face.
That sound that will stick in Oliver's mind for a long, long time. He's heard ones like it dozens of times, whether it's his face or someone else's, a bone-crunching wet thud. It has his stomach plummeting with a panic that burns through him like lava, because this time it's his wife.
"No!" Oliver shouts before Felicity can even hit the ground.
The next twenty seconds are a blur. All he has to see is Felicity slumped over on the ground, her hand on her face and something that looks a lot of like blood on the pale skin of her fingers, to have pure rage take over.
Oliver's damn near animalistic as he charges their attackers, something intensely primal powering him forward. He doesn't care who they are or what they want. He doesn't know why they're coming after him or why they're desperate enough to punch a pregnant woman. None of that matters. He'll care later, when they're broken and bloody at his feet and Felicity is safe in his arms.
Some part of him hears her groaning, and a tiny slice of him is placated that she's at least awake, but the rest of him is lit up with fury. Her sobs of pain only fuel the fire.
They. Touched. His. Wife.
Oliver throws one of them into the nearest wall with a sickening crunch and breaks the arm of another, but he isn't done. As that man screams in agony, Oliver cracks his foot into the side of his knee, sending him to the ground.
The last one standing jabs a knife towards him, going for his spine. Oliver's faster, though. The blade does slice him, cutting through the well-worn leather of his jacket and drawing blood, but he doesn't feel it. He punches that man so hard that he hears a nasty crack, but the beefy guy's head merely whips back around before he's back on him. He throws Oliver at a dumpster, sending him into the rusted metal with a bang that echoes throughout the alley.
Oliver manages to sweep him off his feet, but he doesn't get a moment to breathe as the one who crashed into the wall is back up and tackling him. He drives his shoulder into Oliver's gut, pushing all the air out of his body in a violent gush as they both land in a pile of forgotten garbage.
The one with the broken leg pulls out a gun.
Oliver vaguely hears Felicity shouting something that sounds a lot like curses at herself for not having something to call for help, but he doesn't need help. Not right now.
It takes too long for his tastes, but he finally twists the knife free from one man's grip and uses it to stab the other in the gut, ripping the blade through his innards. The man on the ground raises the gun, but Oliver kicks it out of his grasp before it can go off. He rams his boot into that man's face, sending a spray of blood across the dirty concrete. Oliver turns in time to block a double punch from the last attacker that would have had him seeing stars. They trade bruising punches until a lucky hit from Oliver sends the man careening head-first into a brick wall.
He falls to the ground with a wet splat. He doesn't get back up.
None of the attackers do.
Before Oliver can fully process anything that's happening, he's already turning to his wife with a harried, "Fe-" He physically bites his tongue to keep from spilling her whole name. "Are you okay?"
Damn it, this is why he didn't want her out here.
Fear and panic and about a hundred other different gut-twisting emotions rocket through him as he scrambles over to her, dropping to his knees at her side. He hisses when the movement makes his bad knee throb, but he ignores it, cupping her face instead before dropping one hand to her stomach.
"I'm okay," she gasps, but she sounds the exact opposite. Her glasses are uneven and her cheek is already swelling where the thug's fist had landed. It sends another bout of acidic rage surging through his veins. "We're okay."
"You're going to the hospital," Oliver says, his mind already jumping to every single horrible thing that could go wrong. There's so much that could happen from a single punch, especially when you aren't braced for it, and the baby… "Oh god, we're going to the hospital. Now."
"Don't argue with me, Felicity," he snaps, his voice echoing down the alleyway. He punches the button on his chest to call for help, something he hadn't even had time to do in the blur of the recent attack. "Digg, we…"
The desperation in her voice is starkly different from even a second ago and the sound of it makes him freeze.
"I'm not arguing with you, you…"
Felicity stops mid-word before gritting her teeth and grasping at her stomach. Her body convulses in a way he recognizes all too well as a short, pained cry falls from her throat.
It takes Oliver a long second to realize her belly's harder than it had been earlier.
His insides suddenly feel like they're made of air.
"My water broke," she moans, confirming his suspicion as her head falls back against the van with a sharp bang. She doesn't look like she even feels it as she opens her eyes, finding his. "My water broke all over this disgusting ground, which means that stupid frakking idiot made me go into labor. So yes, we're going to the hospital. Right now."
"Right now, Oliver! I'm not… I'm not having my baby in the middle of an alley. I will not give birth to our daughter in a freaking alleyway! And I'm definitely, definitely not having her without the biggest epidural ever. Do you hear me?"
Diggle's voice echoes in his ear. "Oliver? Hey, man, talk to me, what's going on?"
"Oh… god," Felicity groans, squeezing her eyes shut, writhing on the ground.
Oliver hits the comm button so hard he wonders if he's going to have a bruise on his chest in the morning. It comes to life in his ear and he barks, "Get up here, John. Now. We got ambushed and Felicity's going into labor."
Another contraction hits and he sees the physical toll it takes on her. Felicity shouts out, wrenching herself down around her stomach as it hits her with tremendous force. All of a sudden Oliver isn't so much worried about the fact that she's been pushed into early labor, but rather that it's moving so damn fast.
Terror slams into him.
What if something happens to her?
To the baby?
No. No, he won't let it. He will never let anything happen to her.
"Now, John!" Oliver orders before gripping Felicity under the arms. He ignores how much he's shaking, instead concentrating everything on her. "Come on, baby, we gotta get up."
He lifts her effortlessly, something he'll marvel at later because she's absolute dead weight, all her attention on her stomach. There's a large wet spot on the ground underneath her and her clothes are soaked, both with amniotic fluid and from the storm that'd ravaged the city the day before.
Felicity clings to him with one hand, moaning, "Oh my god," as he leans her against the van. He scoots her over, something that almost has her legs giving out, and he has to wrap his arms around her to keep her from keeling over. Mostly because her arms are wound around her stomach. She's panting, a thin layer of sweat already coating her skin, loose pieces of her hair stick to her temples.
"We're on our way, honey," he says. "We're going. Now. Right now."
She grits her teeth, nodding rapidly, and Oliver wrenches the back door open just as the sound of feet slapping the ground comes from behind him.
"What happened?" Diggle demands, but before Oliver can so much as look at him, squealing tires sound in the distance.
They're loud enough to make Felicity look up along with him and Digg, all their eyes flying to the mouth of the alleyway where a car skids into view. It's the opposite end, so there's enough distance, but at the same time it's not nearly enough because his pregnant wife is in labor. The passenger side door opens, a pair of men stepping out, and Oliver doesn't have to see the details of their clothes and weapons to know they're part of the gang he'd just handled inside. The very same gang that had been hired to protect the 'care package' Felicity had dismantled and the one that'd tried to ambush them out here.
Either they were paid a lot of money, or they took their job way too seriously.
Probably both, as the person gets back in the car and they take off with another squeal of the tires, clearly intent on coming around the obstacle ridden alleyway to meet them.
"Why don't people just hire mercenaries anymore?" Felicity groans, sounding near-delirious with pain as a smaller contraction rockets through her. "At least they have scruples. Or at least they wouldn't punch a pregnant woman. At least I hope they wouldn't. Right?"
"What?" Digg asks in alarm, but they don't answer.
Instead, Oliver orders, "We have to go."
"Yes," Felicity agrees, nodding. "Yes, yes, yes. Now. I need a hospital. I need Dr. Benzin."
The mention of their doctor almost makes Oliver smile, which is a feat, considering. She doesn't talk about the gang members coming for them, or the fact that there are more on top of the fifteen they'd left inside to be found by the police. She doesn't point out that she's going into labor too early and that it's happening way too fast.
No, she's choosing to be more worried about getting to pain medicine and their doctor.
God, he loves her.
Oliver helps her into the backseat, quickly climbing in behind her as he says, "I honestly don't care who we have when we get to the hospital as long as our baby's okay."
"Oh, she's going to be okay," Felicity says, a little maniacally. Oliver hears Diggle asking them where the keys are before he spots them where Felicity had dropped them when they'd been attacked. "She's going to be just fine, because I say so, Oliver. Okay? I say so!"
The van rocks as Diggle jumps in. Oliver slams the back door shut as the other man shoves the keys into the ignition. The engine's barely turning over before he switches it into drive and takes off in a jolt. The sudden move sends Oliver and Felicity falling over as Diggle takes a corner too sharply.
Another contraction hits her, making her wail.
"Come here," Oliver says, gathering her up into his arms. He twists, shoving his leg behind her and pulling her back so she's resting against his chest. The muscles in her back are taut, rock hard with a combination of tension and pain. "C'mere, hold my hand, honey, hold my hand."
A flash of headlights slices through the car as the car starts following them.
"No!" she says, shaking her head. "No, I don't want to breathe, or… or… Just no! This… oh my god, I'm in labor, we're having her, this isn't… this isn't how it's supposed to happen, Oliver. It's too early, it's way too early."
"Shh," he whispers, grasping her hands in his. She squeezes his hands so hard it makes his bones feel like they're turning to dust.
"I can't… This is all wrong, isn't it?" Felicity asks, the words frantic. "It has to be! This isn't how it happens, right? This is too early. What if something happens to her, what if…?"
He's already thinking all the same things she is, and actually hearing his fear spoken out loud threatens to push him over the edge.
"Felicity, easy," he breathes, pulling her up closer to his chest. He curls around her protectively, his heart breaking when she lets out a gut-wrenching sob. "She's okay, she's fine."
"You don't know that," she argues, the words garbled with tears and pain. "You don't…" A contraction cuts her off, ripping through her body. "Oh god!"
"Breathe, breathe…" It's a damned miracle his voice is as calm as it is as Diggle swerves through traffic, cursing under his breath, trying to lose the car following them. He can't think about that right now, he can't, and he won't, because he needs to be there for his wife. His amazing, beautiful and strong wife who is currently sobbing, shaking her head vehemently. "Felicity, breathe…"
It takes a moment of repeating it over and over before she finally starts doing just that. She takes short, stilted breaths that don't seem to give her any oxygen whatsoever, but they do calm her, enough for her to hear him.
"I do know she's okay," Oliver replies, pressing his mouth to her ear so she hears him. Sweat soaks her hair and her body trembles as another contraction threatens to crest inside her, but she hears him. "I know she's okay because she's our daughter. She's your daughter, and you are the strongest, bravest and most amazing woman I know. She's okay. She's okay."
"Do you promise?" Felicity chokes out, her voice cracking.
He can't. He absolutely cannot promise her that, because he doesn't know… but he also does. Oliver can't explain it, but as her question echoes in his mind, he somehow finds a blinding certainty that everything will be okay.
He just knows.
"I promise, Felicity," Oliver whispers. "I promise." She nods and he grips her hands tight in his. "Okay?"
"O-okay," she breathes. She grits her teeth. "Okay."
"I love you," Oliver says, kissing her ear. He drops a kiss to her shoulder, huddling her closer. "I love you so much, Felicity."
"I love yo…" The words morph into a pained cry as yet another contraction hits. Her head flies back, her nails digging into the back of his hands. "Oh god… oh god, oh god, I can't do this here… I need… I need my… my bag, and my mom, and an epidural."
"Easy, honey, easy. Just breathe. You need to breathe."
"You try breathing through this, Oliver!" Felicity growls. "You try… breathing…"
A contraction cuts her off again.
"John?" Oliver asks, that single syllable filled with a dozen questions.
"I think I lost them," Digg replies, glancing in the rearview mirror before turning down a street and then making a sharp left that sends them down a wide alleyway. It opens into a busier street, one which he merges onto with ease. Thankfully it's not too busy due to the late hour, but… "We're still about twenty minutes out from the hospital, though."
"So drive faster then," Oliver snaps. "I don't know if she has twenty minutes!"
Diggle's already pushing the pedal down, the engine revving as it gains speed. "I am, but…" He glances over his shoulder, and all it takes is one look at Felicity's face for him to make up his mind. "You might have to deliver your kid, Oliver."
His heart leaps into his throat as he gasps, "What?"
"Oh my god," Felicity whimpers, in part to the pain and Digg's suggestion. "Oh my god, this can't be happening. This can't be happening."
"Just…" Oliver swallows, his throat suddenly dry. He holds Felicity tighter. "Just get us there as fast as you can."
Felicity lets out a desperate little whine, and it's so laced with pain that it makes his entire being ache. "Oliver…"
"I've got you," he replies. "I've got you." He shifts, and the second he does, Felicity holds him tighter, shaking her head. "I'm not going anywhere."
"I'm not having this baby in a van, Oliver," she says. "I don't want my daughter born in a van! This isn't how it was supposed to go, this isn't…"
"But it is," Oliver says. With the greatest amount of grace he can manage, he slips out from behind her, helping her move until she's settled against the door. He yanks his quiver off, realizing belatedly that his bow is in there, too. Digg must have grabbed it, because Oliver knows he dropped it when they got ambushed and he can't remember picking it back up again. He pulls his hood off, yanking his mask off before unzipping his jacket. He slips to the floor, grasping Felicity's legs, meeting her gaze. "It's okay."
"I'm scared," she whispers. "I'm really, really scared. What if…?"
"Shh," he interrupts, shifting enough that he can reach her face. He kisses her forehead, smoothing her hair back. "I've got you, okay? I won't let anything happen to either of you."
Felicity nods, her hands grasping at his shoulders. "I know. I know you won't."
"We've got this, baby," he says, dropping kisses over her heated face before pressing his forehead to hers. "We can do anything as long as we're together, right?"
"Yeah," she replies. "Yeah."
"Okay, so let's…" He takes an unsteady breath and when he takes a second to actually feel the emotions inside him, he realizes he's scared out of his goddamn mind. It threatens to take over, panic making his mind blank, but he manages to shove it down. He forces himself to focus on her. He pulls his gloves off, grasping one of her hands in his. They're both shaking. "Let's do this."
Felicity squeezes him as tightly as she can and nods.
"Let's do this."
The next fifteen minutes rush by in the blink of an eye.
Despite the contractions and the near-forced labor Felicity had been shoved into, the baby isn't ready to appear, not just yet… not until Diggle pulls up in wild squeal of the tires in front of the emergency room.
"I see her head," Oliver gasps.
"Is she okay?" Felicity asks between gritted teeth.
He chokes out a laugh despite himself. "I can't really tell from her head, honey-"
"But she looks amazing so far," he finishes.
As a small herd of doctors and nurses rush out to see what the commotion is, Oliver's aware enough of Digg to know he's looking back and seeing Oliver's Arrow gear out. Just as the door is pulled open, Digg gets it hidden, which is just when another contraction hits, revealing more of his daughter's head.
They don't have time to move Felicity into the hospital. They don't even have time to do much of anything, really, because their daughter is coming now.
A doctor nudges Oliver out of the way not so gently, shouting orders to a nurse for supplies and a gurney, but all he hears is his wife's pained screams and all he feels is her hands grasping for him. He takes them, wrapping himself around her, simultaneously disappointed he isn't the one who will bring their daughter into the world, and so damn grateful that he can be there for his wife.
He talks her through it - "You're doing great, baby, so great… you're amazing," to which she replies, "I absolutely am" - and she holds onto him for dear life as she pushes.
With one final push that has her nearly launching herself up off the seat, their child is born.
"Is she okay?" Felicity asks frantically, trying to sit up. She claws at Oliver to see her and he blindly helps her, unable to tear his eyes off the newborn. "Is she…?"
The materials the doctor needs are already out there and the second a nurse clears her airway, the baby lets out an absolutely amazing scream of protest.
Oliver chokes out a laugh at the sound, and Felicity is quick to follow.
"Oh my god," Felicity whispers.
"Congratulations," the doctor says. The young woman doesn't look entirely like she had any real idea what she was doing, and she's both beaming like it's the best day ever and a little pale like this isn't how she saw her night going at all. Oliver can so relate. She holds the baby up where she's covered in a magnificent amount of goop. She's a little small, but that doesn't matter because life bursts from her tiny little pores. "You have one heck of a strong baby girl."
They're all immediately swept out of the van.
Oliver doesn't let anyone go anywhere until he cuts the umbilical cord, and Felicity refuses to let their beautiful daughter out of her sight. The only thing that sways her is that they both need to get inside where it's warm, to get cleaned up and Felicity needs stitches. That gets her attention.
Somehow the next few hours pass in the blink of an eye. They both change - Felicity into a gown and Oliver into a pair of sweats that Digg finds for him. Both Felicity and baby are checked over and at some point, Diggle steps away to call everyone.
Finally, the doctors and nurses clear out and it's just them.
The hospital room is dark, gently lit from a lamp in the corner. The blinds are open, letting in a soft hint of moonlight, one that makes his girls glow.
Oliver's in bed with Felicity, both of them crowded in together on the twin mattress, huddled over the newborn cradled in his arms.
Felicity can't take her eyes off of their little girl, and Oliver can't take his eyes off of either of them. His wife runs a gentle finger down the infant's soft cheek; her hand trembles slightly, something that's only emphasized when a tear falls from her eye, soaking into the little blanket covering their girl.
"She's here," Felicity whispers. She shakes her head in wonder and Oliver leans over, kissing her temple. "I can't believe she's really here."
"I know," he replies, looking back down at the baby. He runs his hand over her head. "She's beautiful." Felicity nods, emotion choking her. Oliver kisses her temple again, lingering for a second, whispering against her skin, "Thank you."
She laughs, and it comes out like more of a snort than anything. "If you're thanking me for helping with the mission again…"
Oliver chuckles, shaking his head. He pulls back to look at her, but Felicity only has eyes for their daughter. "Hey," he says softly. She finally looks at him, and when he sees the happy tears in her eyes, he smiles. "Thank you for making me the luckiest person on the planet."
Felicity bites her lip, grinning at him. She leans in, cocooning their daughter between them as she kisses him. "I love you, Oliver."
"I love you," he replies.
Their next kiss lingers… until the sound of tiny pattering feet echo from out in the hallway. They both look over in time to see a tiny person suddenly fill the doorway, a well-loved stuffed elephant in her small hands. Pieces slip into place and joy floods Oliver's chest at the sight of the familiar three-year-old. He sits up a little more, nodding his head for her to come closer.
"Hey, Julie-bug," Oliver says with a grin. "Come meet your little sister."
"She's here?" the little girl asks, taking a tentative step into the room.
"She's here," Felicity confirms, her voice thick with tears. "Come over and say hi."
Digg is right behind her as the toddler makes her way over. "Sorry we were a little late," he says. He's all grins as he comes over, his eyes on the newest precious bundle. "Hit the beginning of rush hour. Sara and Lyla will be here in a few hours." He nods over his shoulder. "Your moms are getting breakfast, but they'll be here soon. Thea and Roy send their congratulations."
Oliver nods his thanks, but his eyes are fixed on little Julianna Megan Queen as she rounds the bed and stands on her tiptoes to try and see over the edge of mattress. She's staring with rapt attention at her baby sister. Before either of them can move to lift her up onto the bed with them, Diggle is right there, doing it for them with a quiet, "Hang on, munchkin."
Jules lets out a delighted little gasp, but she still doesn't say anything as she settles in on Felicity's other side. Felicity presses a kiss to her dark hair - it will be a shocking contrast to her sister's in a few years - both of their eyes on the baby.
Diggle slips out without another word, closing the door behind him.
"She's so small," Jules says softly, earning a chuckle from Felicity and a grin from Oliver…
But that's not all.
The sound of her sister's voice prompts the newborn's eyes to flutter open, making Jules' eyes widen and earning a gasp from Felicity.
Ellie looks only to her father, though.
The familiar blue of her eyes are tinted with a newborn-grey, but they're the same, a perfect echo of all those years ago. A smattering of wispy blonde curls sit atop her head and she has the same cute little nose and bow-shaped lips. He'd know this little girl in any time, at any age, in every universe. And the way she stares back at him, it leaves him feeling like just maybe she knows him, too.
Oliver's heart swells enough to fill his ribcage as he locks gazes with his baby girl.
Defying time yet again, she was born seven days earlier than her other self - May 10th instead of May 17th. It's the day she originally materialized right in front of them and changed everything in an instant, years ago. She came into their lives this time around in a very different way, but it's miraculously on the very same day.
Time has a funny sense of humor, of ways to right itself, Oliver thinks.
Or maybe that's just his daughter's doing.
He wonders about the first Ellie, the little girl who changed their lives so much all those years ago. As always, it brings a pang of longing to his heart, but that's dimmer now than it once was, offset by a tremendous gratitude for all the gifts she gave them just by virtue of being herself.
Their lives intersected for such a short time, but the impact… god the impact was tremendous. And, like his other children - like William and Jules and this Ellie and someday Nate - he will always love her; he will always cherish how much change and joy she brought to his life.
His Ellie will bring him all of those things too, the little girl in his arms. She's just three hours old and he already knows that. But this time is different. This reality is different.
This Ellie has a whole world of possibility laid out in front of her and this time, in this universe, the path she takes will be entirely up to her. But he knows beyond the shadow of any doubt that he and his wife will be there with her every step of the way, and that whatever she chooses to do with her life, it will be nothing short of remarkable.
"Hey there, Ellie-bug," Oliver whispers, brushing his thumb over her cheek. "We've been waiting for you."