May 2015

The Red Inn (Somewhere in California)

Oliver can't sleep.

Truth be told, he's never been very good with his eyes closed, but here he is thinking he's at least gotten better at it since Felicity's been by his side every night. And for a few nights in a row, he has – he's slept well, better than he has done in years, and his exhaustion was felt not because of the chronic, punishing damage to his body and mind that comes with chasing after bad guys but instead because of the pleasurable ache in his muscles and his jaw that comes from hours of ardent lovemaking.

But the last few nights have been different. The phantom white noise that filled his head often when he battled with insomnia in the past is back, except this time he tries his best not to toss and turn as much, not wanting to wake Felicity in the process. Every time he closes his eyes, though, the noise starts up again, and he finds himself hurtling headfirst into what he knows will be an unpleasant memory from his time in the League. When somehow he manages to force himself upright and out of his half-slumber, his heavy gasp alone is enough to wake Felicity up. Instantly, she turns on her side and reaches blindly for his hand.

"Oliver?" she says sleepily. "You okay?"

"Fine," he replies hoarsely. His view of her is hazy, unsteady, and he has to force his vision to focus. Felicity squeezes his fingers when she finds his hand.

It helps.

"Sorry – I didn't mean to wake you."

"It's okay." Felicity rubs her eyes, makes to sit up, but Oliver extends his hand to her shoulder and stops her. She's wearing one of his t-shirts again, and he's in nothing but his boxers – something he is reminded of when he involuntarily shivers. Still, he tries his hardest to ignore this as he speaks.

"I'm going to go take a walk. Clear my head."

"Again?" Felicity says, and despite the hand on her shoulder, she sits up this time, just enough to pull Oliver down to her level again, so she can place her palm on his bare chest.

"Felicity, I –"

"I mean, I'm not exactly going to stop you," she says softly, "but I'm also not going to ignore the fact that this has happened three times in a row now and you going on walks in the middle of the night isn't really helping."

"I didn't realise you were keeping track of all the times I kept you up," he says, and he tries to smile, but she just shakes her head.

"You can talk to me," she tells him. "You know that, right?"

Oliver sighs, and on an impulse, he kisses her gently on her lips. He feels Felicity smile into his kiss before pulling away to rest her head on his chest.

"I've never been very good at talking," he admits. It's easier to speak when he's not looking into her eyes – some of the fog in his mind clears a little, at least enough for him to think better. He reaches up, switching on the lamp on the bedside cabinet. "And I... don't know how much help talking will be. Especially when there's not – any particular thing that's wrong right now. I mean – if anything –" Oliver pauses to kiss the top of her head "– I've never been happier. Truly."

"And I believe you," Felicity says. The warmth of her breath as it flutters on his chest calms him, so his heartbeat is no longer rocketing. "But you being happy – even us, being together – isn't exactly a cure-all for all the crazy things that have happened in your life that still keep you up at night."

"I know I'm keeping you up as well," he says apologetically.

Felicity looks up this time, regarding him with a stern look. "You have nothing to apologise for," she tells him firmly. "But for what it's worth, I promise… if you ever want to talk? I'm always going to listen."

And Oliver knows, then, just from her smile and the way her arm encircles his waist and she drops a kiss on his jaw that he doesn't have to reply. Not really.

"Love you," he whispers under his breath, just as she buries her face in his neck, and he feels her lips upturn into a smile at his words. "So much."

Felicity's hand is on his hip, and Oliver watches as her fingers dance along the scars that dot the left side of his abdomen in a sort of curved outline of a semicircle.

"You were in the middle of telling me where you got this from," she says, fingers splaying out to cover his flesh, still bearing the mark of each puncture. He closes his eyes and tries not to flinch remembering the pain he had felt at the time. "You know. Before you started doing that other thing. With your mouth."

At this, Oliver opens his eyes and laughs, all memory of the pain forgotten. And there's something about the soft pink blush that begins to colour her cheeks and the tips of her ears, the way her whole face lights up in the faint glow of the lamp, that makes it impossible for him not to smile.

"I also said you wouldn't believe me if I told you," he replies.

Felicity raises her eyebrows. "Try me."

And somehow when he tells her, it's not nearly as bad as he thinks. "Okay. It was about a year before I came home to Starling City. I was on Lian Yu and I… got bitten by a shark."

Her eyes widen, and she shakes her head. "You're joking, right?"

Oliver just smiles. "I did say you wouldn't believe me."

She swats him lightly on the shoulder with her other hand. "No, seriously? This is from a shark?" Oliver nods, holding his breath as Felicity's hand continues to explore, pressing her thumb against each of the faded wounds that decorate his skin. Her touch is so gentle, and though the places where the shark's teeth pierced him have long since healed, it's only now, really, that he truly feels like he's slowly becoming whole again.

"It wasn't that bad," he says.

Her hand stills. "Okay, now I know you must be joking."

"I've had worse," Oliver reasons, shrugging. "And I didn't die."

Felicity sighs but nods wearily in agreement. "Thank God you didn't." Silence falls again, and it's only broken with Felicity's soft pant as she nudges his legs apart a little with her foot. She moves to climb on top of him, and it's then that he realises she's not wearing panties – and his body registers it, too, clearly, since he feels himself hardening against her bare thigh.

"Felicity…"

"Do me a favour, though," she says, and her tone is totally nonchalant, as if they're having a normal conversation and she's not doing that with her hand.

"Anything," he breathes, his hand going up and tangling into her hair.

"You… don't ever have to tell me what's going on with you if you don't want to – if you don't feel ready. But next time you can't sleep, wake me up."

"Why?"

She smiles, cupping his cheek with her free hand, and shifts a little in her position, making him groan, moving back a little until she is situated between his legs. "So you can talk to me. About whatever you want. Whether it's about another scar, or maybe one of your tattoos, or, I don't know, your sexual awakening –"

"My sexual awakening?" he repeats, more amused than anything.

"Whatever takes your mind off things," she says. "I know what it's like to have too much going on in my head. And until you want to talk about it with me… I'm content with just – distracting you."

She moves her hand lower and squeezes, making Oliver jerk forward involuntarily. He closes his eyes, pushes her hand away so he can tug off what little clothing he is wearing. As soon as his cock springs free and his boxers are untangled from his ankle and tossed aside, her hand wraps around him and her lips cover his in a lingering kiss.

"You can distract me any time you like," he says quietly against her lips, and when she runs her palm down his length he groans right into her mouth. "God, Felicity, you haven't even –"

She swallows the rest of his words with a kiss, before her mouth moves down and she buries her face in his neck. Their thighs squash together, hot skin against hot skin, her breasts unencumbered by a bra as they press against his chest. Felicity's words are warm as she mouths them against his throat. "Let me take care of you, Oliver."

He's trembling now, close to his climax as her thumb encircles the tip of his cock (because he's learned in the last week or so that Felicity's remarkable when it comes to hand jobs). And this time when he closes his eyes, the white noise is forgotten, replaced only by the intensity of desire that shoots up his spine and quickens his pulse and makes him come thickly, messily, right into her hand, with a final gasp. But he knows now that somehow Felicity gets off on this, on her thighs now smeared with his essence – that much he can tell from the way she tilts her head slightly to one side and just watches him get his breath back.

"You okay?" she asks after about a minute, as her hand settles on his thigh. Oliver smiles, drops a kiss on her nose that makes her laugh.

"You mean… do I still have too much going on in my head?" he says, and Felicity nods. "I'm okay. Thank you."

"For what?" And for some reason Oliver can't quite meet her eyes.

"For being patient with me."

And to his surprise she chuckles, before her lips are on his once more. "I love you too much to let you push me away."

June 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada

It's a couple weeks later that Oliver's insomnia is back in full force. He's not sure why – the hotel they're staying at is luxurious, the type the Queens used to frequent back when they had money. And really, he shouldn't have a care in the world when he's with Felicity in her hometown and her mother seems to actually like him – which is a first for Oliver given the disapproval he usually got from his girlfriends' parents in the past.

Despite that, though, he finds himself clenching his fists together and staring at the ceiling in the dark. It's not that he hears voices, or anything. But when he closes his eyes the remnants of memories, the painful ones he thought he had stashed away in the back of his mind, push their way to its forefront once more. And this time he hears Slade, Slade and his thick Australian accent and the sharp sound of him whipping out his sword to stab Oliver's mother right in the heart.

Oliver knows, now, why he can't sleep. Earlier today, Donna fussed over him, smiled at him, even hugged him in a way he hasn't been hugged since his mother died. And it's now, as he tries to will away the harsh whirlwind of memories in his head, that he's reminded – painfully – of the void in his world that his mother used to fill, and of the regret that would always plague his conscience given he spent the better part of his final year with her in estrangement.

He sighs, turning on his side and surveying Felicity's sleeping form. She's naked – they both are, and she's on her front, one leg hooked around Oliver's knee, blonde hair splayed around her on the white pillow like a golden halo, reminding him so much of an angel that he barely even realises he's pressing a kiss on her forehead. Only when she begins to stir do his shoulders sink and he groans inwardly as her eyes slowly open.

"Can't sleep?" Felicity asks, covering her mouth with her hand to stifle a yawn.

"I didn't mean to wake you," Oliver says automatically.

"Nuh uh," she says, lightly shoving at his chest. "No apologies. Besides, I asked you to wake me up. Remember?"

Oliver smiles back.

"I still can't believe you grew up here," he murmurs. After a moment, he considers, and then he adds, "Or that you can mix drinks, for that matter."

"Sounds like you have a type," Felicity says cheerfully. At his raised eyebrows, she explains, "You know. Sara was a bartender. That, and she was always good at fixing me a drink."

"She was," Oliver agrees softly. He watches as she sits up a little, resting on her elbow, and the melancholic feeling that still lingers when they mention Sara isn't lost on either of them as they lie there together. There's silence for a minute, until finally Felicity breaks it.

"I was never a bartender – I was too young even when I was in college – but I dated one once. In the first few weeks of me coming to MIT, actually. I remember feeling so homesick and missing my mom like crazy, which I totally didn't expect – anyway, this girl, Rachel, she… helped me through things. More than I realised until after it was over."

And Oliver can see her watching his face carefully for his reaction, because in spite of her casual tone, it's obvious she's nervous about what she's just told him.

She shouldn't be.

"Maybe we both have a type, then," he offers with a smile.

"You don't even seem surprised," she comments. "Or bothered."

"Why should it bother me that you like women? I mean… for what it's worth, I get why."

He's serious, though, even as Felicity laughs at his words.

"She was quite something," she says in agreement. "Just – coming back here makes me remember the person I used to be. Brings back memories I thought I'd long forgotten."

"I know the feeling," Oliver replies, and it's obvious that she can detect the change in his demeanour from the crinkling in her eyebrows and the way her front teeth worry her bottom lip.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Felicity asks tentatively. Oliver doesn't answer, instead pressing his lips onto her forehead once more, then her lips. They part ever so slightly, noses still bumping against each other, and it's as their eyes meet that he can tell she understands he can't talk about it. Not yet. So it's with relief that he feels her fingertips skim his hip before settling on the Chinese characters that run down his right side. "How did you get this tattoo?"

Oliver grins now – it's impossible not to when he knows his answer will infuriate her. "Magic."

"Okay, now you have to be kidding."

He shakes his head. "The man who gave this to me on the island had this tattoo on his arm. He used this – staff thing transfer it to me."

"And here I thought I'd seen it all," she says, but he can tell she's still sceptical.

"He literally told me to lift up my shirt, said something weird in Latin and it just – appeared."

"Huh." Felicity's fingers are slow, her touch light as she explores each intricate Chinese character, her soft hand pressing against taut muscle. Oliver holds his breath, only exhaling lightly when she reaches the last one and looks up with a smile. "That's probably the only platonic way a man could tell you to take off your shirt."

"I never said anything about us being platonic," Oliver says, barely skipping a beat. Her eyes widen and her mouth opens slightly in disbelief. "You don't even seem surprised," he teases.

"You and…"

"John," Oliver supplies. "His name's John."

"He a good guy?" she asks.

He nods. "Yeah. Yeah, he is. We… were never together, exactly. On the island, definitely not. But after – the Undertaking, and –"

"Tommy?" Oliver nods again, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.

"I sought him out. Asked him to bring Tommy back. He said he couldn't. I tried – lashing out at him, but somehow he calmed me down and then things just… happened."

"Well, that is one conquest of yours I actually approve of," Felicity says teasingly, making him chuckle. "And that is one story about the island that doesn't seem nearly as dire as some of the others."

"Yeah, I mean, we went our separate ways but it was a mutual thing. And we kept in touch."

She's watching him carefully, studying his face, her brow furrowed in concentration. When their eyes meet, he raises his eyebrows in askance.

"I never thought the day would come when Oliver Queen would tell me that he isn't nearly as straight as his arrows."

"You're taking it better than I expected," he admits. "Though that was before I knew you were…"

"…bisexual?" Felicity smiles nervously. "I could say the same for you. Not the bisexual bit, obviously – I would never try and put a label on you if you didn't want one –"

"Yeah, I've never been a fan of labels, to be honest."

Felicity nods. "I figured as much. And that's okay. You don't have to give yourself a name, not if you don't want to."

Oliver finds himself smiling faintly. "To be honest – I've probably had enough names to last me two lifetimes. And that's just the English ones."

She tilts her head to one side in consideration, reaching out and touching Oliver's cheek. "True. But you've always been just Oliver to me."

"I'm glad." He lets her take his hand, her palm so much smaller than his but strong, firm, as she pulls down the comforter a little and she guides his hand to just below her breast.

"And the important thing is," Felicity continues, "who you're attracted to doesn't and won't ever factor into how much I love you."

Oliver can't help but kiss her then. It starts off mostly chaste (as chaste as can be when they're both unclothed) but then his hand sort of slides upwards and begins to knead her right breast. Felicity moans into his mouth.

"How much?" he murmurs against her lips.

His thumb brushes ever so lightly against her nipple. It hardens at his touch, and he dips his head down, takes her stiff nipple into his mouth and tugs, making her cry out, and as he releases her breast, he can feel it, feel the pleasure coursing through her body from the way she arches her back, right into him. Felicity catches his hand once more, this time dragging it down until the backs of his fingers are right at her entrance. She's wet for him, so much so that he finds himself holding back a groan of longing

"That much," she replies teasingly, but her amusement is replaced almost instantly with another gasp of heavy arousal as Oliver slips a finger inside her. He's just teasing her, though, because almost instantly he withdraws his hand, letting it instead settle on her thigh as he shuffles further down on the bed, so his nose is pressed against her stomach. "Fuck, Oliver," Felicity just about manages to get out, and somehow hearing her curse always seems to do it for him – as is becoming painfully evident.

Closing his eyes, Oliver plants a kiss just above her belly button, then down one side of her abdomen and along her hip, to the juncture of her thigh. He lets his mouth linger, lightly biting at the inside of her thigh, dampened by the wetness leaking from her opening. Felicity's leg is trembling against him, though, until Oliver steadies it by placing his hand on her knee.

And then his tongue is setting her already hot core on fire, lapping up her molten, slick folds, his mouth right up against her centre, undeterred by every time she rocks her hips and thrusts into his mouth. He hums against her centre, just as her legs go up and over his shoulders, heels digging into his bare back and creating a friction that soon begins to burn – but Oliver doesn't care. Because he's buried between the legs of the woman he loves – headfirst, appropriately – and there's nowhere else in the world he'd rather be.

(Two orgasms later, when Felicity falls asleep with her head resting against Oliver's chest, her leg sprawled across his thigh, both of them completely and utterly spent, sleep comes easily for him. At last.)

June 2015

Penang Island, Malaysia

The shock of the plane ride, of being on an island once more, is only really felt for Oliver several hours after, once they've landed and checked into a small hotel at the beachfront. The rush of waves from the ocean is probably what sets him off – they start off gentle but rapidly get louder, louder, until it's all too much. His eyes fly open with a soft gasp, but it's only when his vision adjusts in the semi-darkness does the noise in his head finally cease.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Oliver shifts a little, trying to get up, but Felicity's arm is lying on his bare chest, and try as he might, she won't budge. So, instead, his hand covers hers, and even in Oliver's state, he can't help but feel assured of her presence, from her warm palm on his heart.

It's as his fingers tangle with hers that she starts to stir, only this time he doesn't feel guilty for waking her up – just grateful, more grateful than he would ever be, for her very being there.

"Hey," Felicity says. Her voice is soft with sleep. "You all right?"

"I –" Oliver tried to find the words, but he can't quite remember what he wanted to say. In lieu of that, he tries for a smile, running his thumb along her cheek. "I'm glad you agreed to fly away with me."

"You know I would go anywhere with you," she replies instantly. She's smiling too, but it fades a little and her expression becomes more one of concern as she searches his eyes.

"It's the – uh, the sound of the ocean that's bothering me," he says at last, answering the question Felicity doesn't really need to ask. "I know it's stupid –"

She halts him with a kiss. "It's not. I promise." Then she hesitates. "Maybe it was a bad idea coming to an island first."

"No," he tells her instantly. "You know I wanted to come here for a reason."

"So you could teach me Chinese, you mean," Felicity teases, and somehow, miraculously, that elicits a smile from Oliver – a real one this time.

He humours her with his reply. "Maybe."

"Who did you learn it from?"

Oliver can't help but sigh, and instantly, she notices the tension that starts up in his shoulders. She reaches out, squeezes his hand. "Shado."

"You seem to get a lot from her," she says quietly. "I mean – she taught you Chinese, how to hunt, archery… and she's at least part of the reason why you wore a green hood."

"That's not all I've got from her," he says heavily.

"I don't understand," Felicity says.

In answer, Oliver gently tugs his hand away from hers, turning so he's on his back. Reaching up behind him, he gestures at the tattoo on his shoulder blade.

"Shado had this on her back. When she… died, Slade had me branded with the same tattoo."

"Why?" she whispers. Oliver closes his eyes, but even then, he can't stop flinching when her palm grazes his skin.

"He wanted to remind me of what I was guilty of."

"Oliver –"

"And, I mean, it worked. I remember it every time I look in the mirror thanks to that." He's still on his side, not quite able to face her, until suddenly he feels her shuffle closer to him, so her hair is ever so softly kissing his shoulder. She's wearing his shirt, but he can still feel the swell of her breasts as they press against his back, while her arm winds around his middle so her fingers are splayed right on his ribcage. When Felicity speaks, her breath is warm against his skin, while her hand skirts down a little, against his abdomen.

"There's no use in me telling you it's not your fault," she says. "That's something you have to figure out for yourself. That's… something I thought you had figured out for yourself."

"I did too," Oliver admits. "For a while, I thought I had. And that tattoo stopped being such a burden. It became something that helped me remember how strong she was, until… the hood I wore to honour her became – defaced. Tainted."

"By Ra's?"

And he's not sure why, but he somehow finds it in him to turn around to face her. "Not entirely. I mean, sure, that was part of it, but not all."

For a moment, Felicity hesitates, and Oliver can see from the way her eyes search his once more that she's holding back. He raises an eyebrow questioningly.

"Did you ever think about – getting it removed?"

"At first. When I came back, I wondered… but didn't. I kept it. I'm not sure why."

Unexpectedly, Felicity smiles. "Well, I do think matching tattoos are romantic. For whatever that's worth."

Oliver laughs, and immediately his heart feels so much lighter, so much so that he leans forward and kisses her. "Trust me," he murmurs against her lips, "it's worth a lot."

"That, and you do seem to have a habit of sharing tattoos with people."

For a second, his brow furrows, not quite knowing what she means, and then her hand slips down to the Chinese characters on his side. "Ah. John. He saved my life with that tattoo, actually, so it was more practical than romantic, to be honest."

"Still," Felicity reasons, "I'm glad you told me about them."

"That makes two of us." Oliver pauses, the words "sorry for landing all this on you" on his tongue, and his expression must be obvious because then Felicity – panting a little with effort – sits up and climbs on top of him, one leg on either side of his torso, her hands sprawled on his chest, and a stern expression on her face.

"Don't apologise for anything," she says firmly. "I fell in love with you a long time ago, Oliver, but that doesn't mean I had you totally figured out. I sometimes wonder if I ever will. But at least… I feel closer to that. To you. And that's a nice feeling."

Oliver smiles back, wondering for the umpteenth time what he had done to deserve her, and catches her hand, so their fingers lock together and he can kiss her knuckles.

"It is," he agrees, and when he closes his eyes, her kiss is softer than expected. Slowly, gently, Felicity coaxes his mouth open, deepening their kiss with her tongue while her thighs tighten around his middle. Oliver hardens against her, groaning when she begins to unbutton the shirt of his that she's wearing. At this, though, he stops her, his hand enclosing her wrist when she gets to the button just below breast level.

"You want me to keep it on?" she asks, the gentle lilt of laughter in her voice, but when Oliver reaches for her shoulders and pushes, rolling over so he's now on top of her, that sparkle of amusement in her eyes is replaced with fiery lust.

"Yes," he breathes. Already Felicity's hand is wandering downwards, undoing the zipper of his pants, and Oliver reciprocates her action, his fingers going up her hips to hook around her panties so he can tug them off. It doesn't take long for Felicity to pull down what few garments he still has on before she wraps her hand around him and for a moment he wonders if he's going to come right there.

"Need you…" she says, her words hot against his neck where her face is pressed against his Adam's apple. "Right now."

And that's all he needs to lift her face away from him so he can look into her beautiful eyes as he slowly slides into her. He lets out another groan as she rocks her hips against him, her hands going up his back and her nails digging into his shoulder blades. Oliver moves down her a little to kiss her neck, feeling the burning friction of his shirt as it rubs against his bare chest while he thrusts into her, loving how he can feel her moan as he peppers kisses up her throat and across her jaw.

"Would it surprise you if I said I feel closer to you too?" Oliver murmurs once his lips are on hers once more. Felicity just laughs, though, landing a light slap on his lower back before her hand travels lower, making him moan while her legs wrap around his waist and she buries her face into his neck.

"Just so you know," she says, just as her tongue darts out to catch the droplet of sweat trickling down his jaw, "I have had way too many fantasies of me kissing you while you were in your hood for me to ever see it as being tainted."

"So I'm still a hero?" Oliver replies, and both of them have to pause for a moment as he scrunches his eyes shut, trying to stave off the orgasm he can feel coming.

When he opens them, though, and he sees Felicity – all reddened lips and rosy cheeks – smiling up at him, he can't help but smile back, even before she answers him.

"You'll always be my hero."

December 2016

Starling General Hospital, Star City

"Mr Queen?"

Even in his semi-slumber, Oliver almost instantly wakes with a start, automatically flinching when he feels a hand on his shoulder. He blinks a few times and a woman – one of the nurses he saw in the ER earlier – comes into focus.

"Any news?" he asks, rubbing his eyes. He probably looks a mess (he can still smell Felicity's blood on his shirt) and he feels like it, too – for how long he's been waiting he doesn't even know.

"She's out of surgery," the nurse replies. Oliver narrows his eyes, because her tone is far from reassuring. "But there's been significant nerve damage. We're keeping her sedated for the time being, and then we might have to get a second opinion before we decide what to do next."

"Nerve damage? What –"

"We won't know the full extent of her injuries until her MRI comes back," the nurse interrupts. "In the meantime… you may see her, if you want."

Oliver gets to his feet, looking around for Donna, but last time he checked, Laurel was taking her to the restroom, so after one more cursory glance around the waiting room, Oliver follows the nurse through several double doors.

He's never liked hospitals. There's a reason he's always insisted on patching himself up, or asking someone else to do it for him – and it's not entirely the secret identity thing. No – there's something about the smell of antiseptic that automatically fills him with dread, a feeling no doubt attributed to the various times he's been in hospitals before.

This time is worse, though, because this time it's on him. Felicity's in here because of Oliver. He clenches his hands into fists and continues walking, trying to force down the fear that is sitting in the back of his throat like vomit. When the nurse speaks, he barely even realises they've come to a stop.

"Before the surgery, I took this off her," the nurse says, and when she opens her palm to reveal the ring, Oliver's shoulders sag a little in relief. "I thought you should have it."

"Thank you," Oliver says hoarsely, taking the ring from her, "for keeping it safe."

The nurse nods, bestows upon him a small smile, before gesturing to the door nearest them and walking away. Taking a deep breath, Oliver opens the door and goes inside. Felicity – his beautiful, kind Felicity – is hooked up to several different machines, and the constant beep of her heart monitor almost immediately starts worsening his headache.

(Still, it reminds him that in spite of the assault of bullets on them, she's still alive, and that alone is enough to slow his breathing a little.)

She looks surprisingly peaceful, as if she's just asleep, not sedated following a major surgery after being shot at. Oliver slips the ring into his pocket, and as he sits down beside her bed he can't help but take her hand into both of his.

"You told me that when I couldn't sleep, I should wake you up," he says softly. "Whenever I did, I always felt bad, because I never… really told you what kept me up. Not really. The truth is – in those early days, weeks, after everything that went down with the League… I used to hear noises at night. Noises that weren't there. Mostly they were just – memories, but when I closed my eyes they felt so real, so much so that I didn't want to sleep if that was going to happen.

"But then you helped. More than I can say, Felicity, you helped. So I need you… please, I need you to be okay."

He squeezes her hand in both of his.

She squeezes back.

Felicity's eyelids begin to flutter, and when they finally open properly about a minute later, Oliver's lips are instantly on her knuckles.

"I love you," he tells her quietly. She opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. "And I'm so sorry."

Somehow, even in her groggy sedated state, Felicity still manages to look disapproving just with one glare. "Don't be," she croaks. "You saved my life. My hero."

"I don't feel like much of a hero right now," he admits. "But you're going to be fine. And I promise, Felicity… I'm going to find Darhk and make him pay."

Her voice cracks and is barely audible when she speaks again. "Do what you have to, Oliver. Just… promise me something."

"Anything."

"Come back to me in one piece, okay?"

He stares long and hard at her, but before he can formulate a reply, the door opens and Donna rushes in, Diggle, Laurel and Thea at her heels. Oliver meets Felicity's eyes, drops a kiss on her palm, and says wordlessly, I promise.