Disclaimer: I don't own anything. All chapter titles come from the song "Poison and Wine" by The Civil Wars.


thirty-eight.

Thea slapped a binder onto the café table. Felicity barely looked up from the latte her hands were wrapped around, but she did make a noise of acknowledgement. Thea sat down on the other side of the table and flipped the binder opened. She was undeterred by Felicity's less than welcoming attitude.

"So I've already started looking at some venues—"

Felicity cut Thea off with a groan. "Oh my god, Thea, it's 7 o'clock on a Saturday morning. I've barely had enough coffee. Can't you give me ten minutes before you start?"

"No," Thea said pleasantly. "God only knows that Tommy is going to be a pain in our asses when we're planning this wedding—"

"We're planning this wedding? Since when?"

"—so I want to get the main details figured out. I have everything divided up by section in the binder, so we can start there."

"God help the man that you marry."

Thea just smiled at Felicity and went to the counter to by herself a drink and some pastries for the two of them to split. By the time Thea got back to the table, Felicity had woken up enough to actually participate in the conversation. Despite her protests earlier, she actually did enjoy planning things like this. At any rate, it was nice to pretend to be normal for a few hours

An hour and half later, they had picked a venue, a bakery for the cake, a chef for the menu, and the place where they would be ordering the flowers. Tommy was one of the most well-known business men in the city, and Laurel was a socialite in her own right. Once news got out about their engagement got out, all eyes in the city would be on the wedding.

"So." Thea shut the binder with a snap and took another sip of her cappuccino. "When are you and my brother going to figure this thing out?"

Felicity nearly choked on her latte (her second one of the day). She set it aside and tried to catch her breath after Thea's unexpected question. "Um… what?"

"The two of you have been moping all over the place since he kissed you and ran off. You need to corner him and make him talk about it."

"You know that your brother doesn't like talking about things. Like, ever," Felicity said. She ran a hand through her hair and sighed. They had gone to the lair, and they had finished a few missions since the night that Oliver had kissed her. She and Oliver had barely spoken, and Digg kept dropping thinly-veiled hints that they needed to discuss whatever it was that was bothering them. Apparently, everyone had picked up on the tension between the two of them.

Thea waved her hand dismissively. "Yeah, but you're like the only person that he ever wants to actually talk to. Come on." She jumped out of her chair, gathered up her binder, and grabbed Felicity's arm. Felicity managed to keep a hold on her coffee as Thea towed her out of the chair and to her car. "You're coming to the mansion and you're going to talk to my brother."

Felicity spent the entire ride back to the mansion trying to figure out what she was going to say to Oliver, but nothing came to mind. She still remembered the way his lips felt on hers, and she couldn't help but wonder if she would ever feel it again.

To make sure Felicity didn't run away, Thea dragged her all the way to Oliver's room. The door was closed, and Felicity raised an eyebrow at Thea. The younger Queen sibling just grinned and shrugged her shoulders.

"He was up all night, pacing through the whole mansion. I'm sure he's been distracted by the same thing that's been on your mind. He's probably finally getting some sleep."

Felicity shook her head. "I don't want to be the one to wake him up," she protested. "He barely gets enough sleep as it is."

"Have you figured out that Oliver will do just about anything for you?" Without waiting for Felicity to respond, Thea opened the door and pushed her in.

Oliver certainly had been asleep at one point, but he seemed to be pulling himself out of a nightmare. There was a sheen of sweat covering his skin, and his chest was rising and falling so quickly that Felicity actually thought he might start hyperventilating.

When Thea shut the door behind Felicity with a snap, it pulled Oliver from sleep fully. His head snapped towards her, his eyes wild. Felicity pressed herself against the closed bedroom door, unsure if Oliver would want her to enter any further. They stared at each other, and Felicity was sure that the thumps of her heart were counting the beats of silence that passed.

Finally, Oliver's shoulders relaxed. He slumped back against the headboard and inclined his head, indicating for Felicity to come further into the room. Without giving herself time to think, Felicity crossed the room and climbed onto the bed with Oliver.

In that moment, she wasn't thinking about trying to make Oliver talk about their kiss. Felicity just wanted to do everything she could to make Oliver feel better. She kicked off her shoes and crawled forward on the bed until she was tucked against Oliver's side.

His arm dropped around her shoulders, holding her against him. Felicity pressed her face to his bare chest and closed her eyes. She could feel his heart thudding under her ear, and Felicity brought her hand up to cup his cheek. Oliver turned his face into her palm, closing his eyes and leaning into her touch.

Clearly, Oliver craved the warmth and security that came from sharing a touch with another human being. Felicity doubted that he would ever admit it out loud, but she was sure that he had missed simple touches—at least from the people that he loved—while he had been stranded for five years. Her heart broke for him just a little bit more.

Oliver kissed the inside of her palm, and Felicity felt a calm, secure warmth spread over her. They slid down the bed until they were both laying down, and Oliver's arms were still wrapped around her.

Surrounded by the warmth and security of Oliver's arms, Felicity closed her eyes. There had been a time when she didn't think she would ever get to see Oliver again, let alone hold him like this. She was going to take this moment for what was, and she would save their talk for another time.

Comforted by the steady beating of Oliver's heart, Felicity's eyes drifted close.


thirty-nine.

The sun was high in the sky by the time Felicity finally woke up. She cracked one eye open and found that she was still using Oliver's chest as a pillow, but he was using his free hand to scroll through her tablet. Narrowing her eyes, Felicity tilted her head up to look at Oliver's face.

"Tell me you did not take my tablet from my bag."

Oliver shrugged his shoulders and didn't look at her, though there was a smile playing around his lips. "I didn't want to wake you, and your bag was within reach. I had some things that I wanted to check up on."

Felicity huffed but decided that she would lecture Oliver about touching her technology later. The bags under his eyes were still dark and prominent on his face, though he didn't seem much more relaxed. "Did you get any more sleep?"

Finally, Oliver glanced at her. His eyes darted back to the screen of the tablet, and he grunted instead of giving her an actual response. Of course he hadn't, not that Felicity blamed him. She wondered how much of his sleep was plagued by nightmares.

"I can't believe you let me sleep for that long," she said. She sat up, and instead of Oliver pulling away completely, his arm just dropped around her waist. Felicity felt her cheeks beginning to flush, and she tried not to look Oliver directly in the eye.

He chuckled. "It seemed like you were tired. Thea did mention that she wanted to start going over some wedding details for Tommy and Laurel with you. I'm surprised she got you to agree to go out that early."

Felicity groaned and rolled her eyes. "I'm sure Tommy has already had ten different offers from wedding planners in the area. I have no idea why Thea is insisting on planning this wedding."

"Because she's Thea and she's crazy." Oliver finally set the tablet aside, and Felicity peered over at it. He had several profiles pulled up on his next target, and she pressed her lips together. The memory of what happened the last time in the lair was still at the forefront of her mind, and she had no idea how to handle it.

"Oliver—"

He squeezed his arm around her waist. "I know, we have to talk," he said. His face was carefully blank as he spoke, and it made Felicity's heart sink. "But can we just… wait?"

Felicity's mouth opened, and then she closed it again. She knew she had to tread carefully. So much had happened during the five years that Oliver had been missing. There was so much she didn't know about him, but at the same time, he was still the Oliver that she had grown up with. She only loved him more now, but she wasn't about to share that little detail with him.

Reaching out, Felicity put a gentle hand on his bare chest. Oliver inhaled sharply, and his eyes darkened. "I'll give you time if that's what you need," she said. "But I can't wait forever, Oliver. We need to talk about… what happened. Eventually."

His face was blank again, and he nodded his head once. They sat in silence for several long moments, her with her hand on his chest, him with his arm around her waist. It was an oddly intimate moment, one that made Felicity's heart beat faster.

Suddenly, Felicity's stomach let out an embarrassingly loud grumble. Felicity gasped and flopped herself back onto Oliver's bed, covering her face with her hands. "Oh my god!" she exclaimed.

Oliver was laughing, though. The seriousness of their short conversation was gone, and the hard lines on his face disappeared as he tilted his head back and laughed. He sounded lighter, almost free. Felicity peeked out from between her fingers, smiling slightly. She was willing to embarrass herself if it got Oliver to laugh like that.

Once his laughter died down, Oliver climbed out of bed. "I guess we should go find you some food, then."

"Don't laugh at me," Felicity grumbled as she followed him. "I haven't eaten anything since I was at the café with Thea at the butt crack of dawn."

That only made Oliver start laughing again. They made their way down the stairs and to the mansion's kitchen, where Raisa was preparing lunch. There was a steaming pot of chili on the stove, and Felicity's stomach growled again. This time, though, Oliver's stomach was making noises right along with hers.

"Damn, Raisa," Oliver said as he took a seat at the kitchen island. "Your cooking is definitely one of the things I missed the most."

Raisa smiled warmly at Oliver. "You know I'll make you whatever you want, Master Oliver. Just tell me."

"Will you make me whatever I want?" a voice called from the kitchen entryway. Oliver and Felicity turned to find Tommy standing there, with his usual charming smile directed at Raisa. "I thought I was your favorite, Raisa!"

That only made Raisa laugh, and she added an extra bowl lined up to the two she already had out. She spooned the heavenly-smelling chili into the bowls and topped it with cheddar cheese. She served the food to the three friends sitting at the island and then disappeared into another part of the house.

"It's about time the two of you woke up," Tommy said as he dug into his food. "I've only been waiting for like an hour."

"Hey, it was Felicity that was sleeping, not me," Oliver protested. "I've been awake for hours."

"Both of you are annoying," Felicity declared. Back when they were younger, there was no use arguing with Oliver and Tommy when they got like this. Even though there had been years of separation and heartache, it seemed like that hadn't changed.

Tommy pointed his spoon at Felicity and gave her an annoyingly superior look. "You know you love us."

Despite herself, Felicity's cheeks flushed bright red, and she stared down into her bowl of chili. She refused to look at either Tommy or Oliver, even though she feared that her feelings were completely obvious anyway. Next to her, Tommy was silently shaking with laughter, and she shot him a glare from the corner of her eye.

Thankfully, Tommy granted her mercy and finally stopped laughing. Felicity would totally get him back for that later. They ate in a comfortable silence for a few minutes, and Felicity couldn't help but marvel over the fact that it was just like old times. She had really and truly missed this time between two of her closest friends.

She would never take it for granted again.

"So," Tommy said. Felicity pulled herself from her somewhat morbid thoughts and turned her full attention towards him. "Thea sent me an email containing all of the details from her meeting with you this morning, Lis."

"Oh my god." Felicity set her spoon down and looked at Tommy with wide eyes. "She actually put everything together in an email for you?"

"Thea actually made a power point presentation, and then emailed it to me."

"She made a power point?"

Unconcerned, Tommy shrugged his shoulders. "Thea Queen is nothing if not thorough. There is something to be said for her meticulous party planning."

Oliver let out a chuckle at that. "Do you remember when she used to plan some of the parties we threw in high school?"

Nodding his head vigorously, Tommy said, "And they were some of the best damn parties we ever had."

"She does have a knack for party planning," Felicity agreed. She ran a hand through her mused blonde hair. "And? What did you think of Thea's presentation? She made me wake up super early so we could go over all of those details, you know."

Tommy nudged her in the side. "Quit your whining, you big baby, or I'm not going to tell you that I thought you and Thea are better than the best wedding planner we could have hired in Starling City."

"Really?" Felicity beamed at Tommy. The press release announcing Tommy and Laurel's engagement had gone out three days ago. Already, Laurel and Tommy had been bombarded by offers from some of Starling City's most prominent wedding planners. They had remained completely quiet on the planning of their wedding, refusing to let anyone know that two of their closest friends were planning the big event.

"Yes, really." Tommy chuckled and wrapped his arm around Felicity's shoulders, pulling her into his side. "Come on, you and Thea are a forced to be reckoned with when you plan something together."

"It's true," Felicity said. She picked up her spoon and dug into her chili once again with renewed gusto.

"What's true?"

Thea had entered the kitchen, looking as if she had just woken up from a nap. The three friends sitting at the kitchen counter knew better than to comment on that fact, however. Thea was always in a better mood if she got a mid-afternoon nap in.

"That we plan a kick-ass party," Felicity told her.

Thea headed towards the kitchen and pulled out the bowl of chili from the fridge that Raisa had fixed for her. She popped it into the microwave and sent a superior look the boys' way. "Well duh. It wasn't like that was a big mystery, or anything."

Turning towards Oliver suddenly, Tommy reached out and clapped him on the back. "Not that this is going to come as a surprise to anyone, but Oliver, I was hoping you'd be my best man."

Oliver's response was quick and sincere. He smiled at Tommy—a true, real smile. "Of course, man. I'd be honored."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Tommy said.

Felicity and Thea watched the two friends, both of them smiling broadly at the exchange. Felicity was embarrassed to feel tears burning in her eyes. There was a time when she thought that she would never get to see Oliver again, let alone see him be the best man at Tommy Merlyn's wedding. It was truly a wonderful moment.

Of course, Thea had to say something to break the ice. "Awww. Are we interrupting what could turn into a bro-tastic moment?"

Tommy glared at Thea while Oliver shook his head and chuckled at his younger sister. "Come on, Speedy. Let Tommy have his moment."

"You're lucky I actually like you assholes," Tommy declared.


forty.

Felicity determinedly stared at her computer screen, despite the metal clanking on the salmon ladder above her that threatened her to distraction at every moment. She clicked away at the file in front of her and narrowed her eyes, doing her best to keep her focus on the next case that Oliver needed information for.

But said vigilante was shirtless and hanging above her head as he made his way up and down the salmon ladder. His muscles rippled with a sheen of sweat. Instead of being turned off by it, Felicity found that she was extremely attracted to Oliver's sweaty, gorgeous body.

(She wouldn't actually admit it to anyone, but Felicity had had more than one fantasy where she had licked Oliver's abs. Despite her extreme embarrassment, she didn't feel all that weird about it.)

As luck would have it, Felicity was successfully distracted when Digg sat down in the chair next to her. He swiveled in his chair until he was facing her, and he had a knowing look on his face that kind of grated on Felicity's nerves. She loved him too much for that, though, so Digg was easily forgiven.

"So." Digg arched his eyebrows at her. His voice was quiet, so Oliver couldn't hear them over the clanking of the metal bar on the hard rungs of the salmon ladder. "How are things going between you and Oliver?"

"There is nothing going on between me and Oliver," Felicity denied immediately.

"Sure." Digg snorted. "Of course there's not."

He continued to stare at her. His gaze was so intense and direct that Felicity couldn't help but shift under his steady gaze. She was pretty sure that Digg wasn't even blinking, and it had to have been more than sixty seconds.

Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. "Oh my god!" Felicity exclaimed as she threw her hands in the air. "Do you practice staring without blinking, or something?"

Still not saying anything, Digg continued to stare. It was so incredibly unnerving, and it made Felicity think about things she didn't really want to acknowledge. She didn't want to think about her weird, stagnant relationship with Oliver. She didn't want to think about how it would affect what was going on between them. She didn't want to think about how things were going to change.

It was too much, sometimes. It was easier to focus on the fact Oliver was finally back with them. Even though it had been almost six months since he had returned, it was still hard to believe.

Felicity decided that it was easier to stare at the computer screen than it was to look into Digg's unforgiving eyes. "I don't know," she whispered. "Okay? I don't know. And I don't want to pressure him into anything he doesn't want, so…"

Instead of saying anything remotely reassuring, Digg started to chuckle. He shook his head as he sat there with Felicity, and he continued to chuckle.

Felicity gaped at him. "Are you laughing at me?" she demanded.

He continued to laugh, and Felicity groaned and dropped her forehead against her desk. There was no way she could win in this situation.

Of course, Oliver chose that moment to drop down from the salmon ladder. He stretched his arms over his head before he bent at the waist and touched his toes. Felicity couldn't tear her eyes away from the way his muscles flexed in his back, or the tattoo he had on his shoulder. She heard Digg start to laugh next to her once again, and she rolled her eyes.

"What's so funny?" Oliver asked.

"Nothing," Felicity said immediately. Of course, that made her sound guilty, but Felicity couldn't help her knee-jerk reaction.

Oliver's eyebrows rose up towards his forehead, but he said nothing. Instead, he grabbed one of the dumbbells and casually started doing arm curls. Once again, Felicity was trying her very best not to get distracted by the way his muscles tightened and relaxed.

God, she needed some kind of release.

Needing a different kind of distraction, Felicity picked up her phone. There were several texts from Thea waiting, and Felicity happily scrolled through them. There were all sorts of messages about the flower arrangements and the caterers she had met with for Tommy and Laurel's wedding. Damn, Thea was really getting into this whole wedding planning thing.

The last message pertained to what was happening that weekend. "Thea booked Verdant for the engagement party on Saturday," Felicity announced. "Of course, both of you are going to be there."

"Since we're both part of the wedding party, I doubt that we have much choice," Oliver said as he switched the dumbbell to his other hand. He was going to be Tommy's best man, naturally. They had all been surprised when Tommy asked Digg to be a groomsman as well, but they hadn't questioned it. The third groomsman was going to be one of Tommy's cousins.

Sighing, Felicity leaned back in her computer chair and tilted her neck from side to side. "You could at least sound a little more excited about it. Your best friend is about to get married, you know."

"I am excited," Oliver said. He set the dumbbell down and looked at Felicity with concerned eyes. She was rubbing at the back of her neck as she shifted in her chair, trying to find a more comfortable position. "Are you alright?"

"What?" Felicity dropped her hand from her neck. "I'm fine." The truth was, her body got incredibly sore after sitting in the computer chair for all hours of the night.

Oliver tilted his head as he studied her. Then he stepped behind her chair and placed his large hands on her shoulders. He strong fingers started kneading the tense muscles, gently massaging into the flesh. When his thumbs found the knots in her neck, Felicity closed her eyes and tilted her head back.

Digg snorted next to her. Felicity couldn't bring herself to care.


forty-one.

"I need a glass of champagne, right now."

Felicity dropped into her chair and groaned as she covered her face with her hands. She loved Thea Queen—she was her best friend, after all. She was getting way too into this whole wedding planner thing, though. Thea was walking around with an actual headset and a clipboard as she ordered them all around.

"She's crazy," Oliver said. He handed Felicity a flute full of bubbly champagne, and then he poured some scotch on the rocks for himself. "Absolutely crazy."

"I can hear you!"

Thea's shout came from the other side of the club, and Oliver looked around in alarm. "Do you think she has cameras and microphones in here?"

"I think she's just that good," Felicity said with a laugh. Still, it didn't stop her from taking a long pull from her glass of champagne. Laurel had been surprisingly calm during the entirety of the wedding planning thus far—it was Thea who was being a bit of a bridezilla.

"Someone get her a drink," Oliver mumbled. "Maybe then she'll calm down."

Felicity shook her head and propped her feet up on the desk. The skirt of her purple sundress rode up a little bit, and she missed the way Oliver's eyes flashed. "No way," Felicity said. She was completely oblivious to the way Oliver was staring at her. "Thea is an obnoxious drunk person."

Thea came stomping into the office and planted her hands on her hips as she glared at her best friend and older brother. "Have you two stopped your bitching yet?" she demanded. "We have to finish getting ready for this party, you know."

Felicity drained her glass of champagne and poured herself another one. Grabbing another flute, she poured a second glass and shoved it into Thea's hands. "Your army of helpers have got this one under control, Thea. Why don't you take a break for a second and sit with us? The guests of honor aren't due to arrive for another hour, anyway."

Thea looked back towards the main room of Verdant, where her team (and honestly, Felicity had no idea where Thea managed to get thirty extra people to help set up this party) was efficiently and professionally continuing to pull the party together. Then she looked at Oliver and Felicity before she wedged her body into the chair that Felicity was also sitting in.

"You still have to get changed, you know," Thea noted. "Both of you."

Oliver groaned and closed his eyes. "We still have an hour," he reminded his sister. "Relax."

Felicity smiled behind her glass of champagne. Thea, of course, had picked out their outfits for the party and had them set up in the office's en suite bathroom. Felicity hadn't even seen her dress yet, but she was sure that it was short and sparkly and way too much for the party. They were all just lucky that Thea hadn't designated the engagement party as a black tie event.

"Can we talk about something other than the party for five seconds?" Felicity asked. When Thea opened her mouth, Felicity poked her in the side. "And that doesn't mean we should talk about the wedding, either."

A surprisingly serious look overcame Thea's face, and she studied Oliver for a long moment. Oliver looked back at her, his brow furrowed. Thea's gaze swiveled towards Felicity, and there was something knowing in her eyes.

"Thea," Oliver finally said. "Are you okay?"

Thea blinked, and she was back to her normal, fun-loving self. "Of course I'm okay," she said. She seemed to shake off whatever she had been thinking about earlier, but Felicity had an uneasy feeling. Thea knew something—and Felicity had a feeling that it had to do with Oliver's vigilante secret.

That wasn't something she could deal with right now, however. They had a party to finish getting ready for, after all. Still, Felicity resolved to discuss it with Oliver tomorrow. It was probably time that they let Thea in on their secret—especially since Tommy knew.

Thea jumped up out of the chair she was sharing with Felicity and clapped her hands together. "Come on!" she exclaimed. "Let's go see your dress!"

Grabbing onto Felicity's hands, Thea pulled her out of the chair with astonishing strength. Felicity was barely able to hold onto her champagne flute as Thea towed her towards the bathroom. She could hear Oliver chuckling behind them, and the sound made Felicity smile.

"You can stop with the goo-goo eyes at my brother," Thea ordered without looking back at Felicity. "We have more important things to worry about."

Felicity huffed audibly and was about to respond when Thea revealed her dress for the party with a flourish. Completely distracted from Thea's comments about Oliver, Felicity stared at the dress with wide eyes and an open mouth.

"What do you think?" Thea asked.

"It's… it's two pieces," was all Felicity could manage.

"Yeah." Thea smirked at Felicity and held the dress out to her. "I know."

"I can't wear this!"

"Oh my god, Lis, yes you can." Thea shoved the dress into Felicity's arms. "You have a kick-ass body and you're going to look amazing in this dress. Now go get changed."

Felicity wondered how her life had become a series of Thea picking out ridiculous dresses for her. Somehow, her best friend always managed to talk her into wearing the dresses, which was a feat in and of itself.

It really was a gorgeous dress, though, even if it was two pieces. It was made entirely of black lace, with a skirt that flowed around her knees. Once Felicity put it on, she saw that the top revealed a couple inches of her torso. The skirt came up high enough that it covered her belly button, and Felicity was surprised to realize she didn't feel that exposed in it.

"Okay." Felicity stepped out so Thea could see her. "I have no idea how you managed to do it again, but I love this dress."

Thea clapped her hands together in excitement and jumped up and down. "Oh my god, Lis, you look amazing!" She directed Felicity over to a chair and sat her down. With a few clever twists and about fifteen bobby pins, Thea tucked Felicity's blonde locks up into a wispy up-do.

"What are you wearing?" Felicity asked. "You still have to get ready, you know."

Thea nodded towards another garment bag that was hanging across the room. "It's a purple strapless dress, if you must know." Her cheeks flushed slightly. "I heard the bartender that I'm crushing on likes purple."

Felicity giggled as she touched up her makeup. "Tonight could be your night, you know."

A snort came from Thea before she disappeared behind the divider in the bathroom to change. "Yeah, but only if I can keep Oliver and Tommy distracted long enough not to pay attention to me." She stuck her head out from behind the divider and smiled deviously. "Although in that dress, you might just be able to take care of Oliver for me."

"Thea!" Felicity exclaimed. Her cheeks flared bright red and she sighed. A small part of her really did want to see what Oliver's reaction to her wearing the dress was going to be. Felicity couldn't help the excited swoop in her stomach at the thought of seeing him in his suit.

"Oh, come on." She came back into the room and crossed to the mirror to touch up her makeup. "The two of you just need to get over this and have a good, old-fashioned make out session already. I think that will solve a lot of your problems."

"What are we, fifteen?" Felicity demanded. "I doubt making out with Oliver will solve any of my problems." She was sure that if her cheeks went any redder, they would burst into flames.

"It would probably get rid of the tension," Thea argued.

"Or just create more."

"But it would probably be the good kind of tension." Thea waggled her eyebrows and laughed when Felicity gasped.

Stepping forward, Thea wrapped her arms around Felicity and hugged her tightly. "The two of you have always been ridiculously stubborn. Which is why you're perfect for each other, you know."

Felicity found herself wanting to believe Thea.


forty-two.

Oliver watched Tommy nervously pace back and forth in amusement. He was already in his suit, and he was tugging at his hair as he walked from one end of the bar to the other.

"Dude, you need to relax," Oliver advised.

Tommy shot Oliver a look with slightly crazed eyes. "Are you serious? Laurel is now five minutes late, and your sister is probably going to find some way to blame it on me."

"Wait. You're freaking out because of Thea?"

"Dude, your little sister terrifies me!"

Oliver wasn't about to admit that he was a little bit scared of Thea, as well. He might have been the Starling City vigilante, but his younger sister instilled a fear in him like no other.

Thankfully, at that moment Laurel came bustling into Verdant. She grinned when she saw her fiancé, and she pressed a quick to kiss to Tommy's lips. She couldn't even take the time to appreciate how great the club looked, since Thea had appeared and was already dragging Laurel to the dressing room.

"You can kiss Tommy later!" Thea was saying. "We only have thirty minutes and forty-five seconds to get you ready!"

Sighing, Tommy shook his head. "Do you see what I mean? Your sister actually has everything timed out to the second. Terrifying."

Oliver opened his mouth to retort, but it was at that moment that Felicity appeared. He was unable to stop his immediate reaction: his eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open, and he froze completely.

Relieved to have something to distract him, Tommy grinned in amusement at Oliver's reaction. The two of them were so painfully obvious to everyone else, but completely oblivious to each other. It was actually pretty entertaining to watch.

Felicity had been fiddling with her phone as she walked into the main room of the club, but as she reached the bar she finally looked up. She caught Oliver's eye and smiled at him before returning her gaze to her phone. Belatedly, she realized that Oliver was staring at her with wide eyes.

"What's wrong?" Felicity set her phone aside and touched her cheek. "Do I have something on my face?"

"What?" Oliver blinked and shook his head. "No. No, of course you don't. It's just…" His eyes moved up and down her body, and Felicity swore she could feel it like an actual touch on her skin. His gaze lingered on the bare strip of skin revealed by the two-piece dress. "You look amazing."

Felicity's cheeks flared pink. "Thank you." Unable to hold Oliver's steady gaze, she look at her phone again and began to fiddle with it. Behind them, Tommy let out a loud snort.

She whipped around and glared at him. "You. Shut up, right now."

"You should be nice to me," Tommy retorted. "It's my day, after all."

Felicity rolled her eyes. "It might be the night of your engagement party, but that doesn't mean that I won't whoop your ass. It wouldn't be the first time I've done it."

Felicity's comment was enough to pull Oliver out of his stupor. His eyebrows shot up, and he looked between Tommy and Felicity. Tommy, seeing the look, made a face and shook his head.

"Dude, you know there's no way Felicity has ever beat up on me. Like she could even take me!"

That caused Oliver to chuckle. "If you and Felicity got into a fight, I'd definitely put my money on Felicity."

Felicity flashed Tommy a triumphant grin, while he gaped at Oliver. "Oliver! I feel so betrayed right now!" he exclaimed.

Of course, that was when Thea came tearing out of the office/makeshift dressing room. "Alright, I've left enough time within my planning for all of us to have a drink together before guests begin to arrive. Laurel will be fully ready in a few minutes, so I'm going to pop that bottle of champagne."

Once the champagne was poured, Tommy lifted his flute and studied it. "Hey Thea, do you think if we get you really drunk, you'll stop being such a pain in the ass?"

In response, Thea flipped him her middle finger. Oliver chuckled as he moved to stand next to Felicity, and she smiled at him over the rim of her champagne flute. The corners of his mouth tilted up in return in a lopsided half-smile that made Felicity's heart flutter.

"If anyone is being a pain in the ass, Tommy Merlyn, it's you. Thea went through all this trouble to plan our party, after all. You should really be nice to her."

Tommy looked up at the sound of Laurel's voice and had a reaction very similar to the one that Oliver had when he saw Felicity. Of course, it was only natural that Tommy would be enthralled by his fiancée—she looked gorgeous in a simple, white, strapless dress.

Thea grinned and handed Laurel another flute full of champagne. "Let's make a toast," she offered. "Tommy, you are a giant idiot, but you somehow managed to get Laurel to marry you. Let's hope she doesn't leave you standing at the altar."

Laughter exploded from Laurel, Felicity, and Oliver. Tommy's mouth dropped open and he glared at Thea. "Thea! That's not funny at all!"

"Oh relax, baby." Laurel reached up and kissed Tommy's cheek. "I'd never leave you at the altar. You're stuck with me."

Felicity was still trying to smother her laughter behind her glass of champagne, but she obviously wasn't being very successful. Glancing down at her with a small smile on his face, Oliver nudged her side playfully. She elbowed him in return and then looked away, blushing fiercely when she caught Tommy giving her a knowing look.

She was positive that tonight was going to be a long one.


forty-three.

The party was in full swing, and of course it was a huge success—not that Felicity had expected anything less. Given that Tommy and Laurel were something of a society couple, there were a lot more people at the party than they actually knew. That didn't matter, though, because Tommy and Laurel were happy just to be celebrating their engagement.

Of course, Thea had allowed one professional photographer into the party. Felicity was sure that she was going to be combing through the pictures later, picking the ones to send to the society section of the newspaper. Thus far, she had managed to avoid both the photographer and Thea, who had yet to relax.

Felicity found that Oliver was hiding also, by the corner of the bar. Oliver was still something of a novelty to Starling City in general, so he had done the requisite rounds and then tucked himself out of the way. He looked cool, calm, and casual leaning against the bar, and Felicity tried not to think about how attractive he looked like that.

Still, she found herself moving towards the bar. She ordered another drink—something pink with rum in it—and went to join Oliver at his little corner. Felicity propped her hip against the corner and smiled at him, and she hoped that he wouldn't be able to tell that her heart was beating a million miles a minute.

"Want some company?" Felicity offered.

"From you?" Oliver smiled, warm and full. "Absolutely."

Felicity slid onto the seat next to where Oliver was standing and took a sip of her pink drink. Oliver, who was drinking scotch, peered into the cup with an amused look on his face. "What the hell are you drinking?"

A smile formed on her face, but there was a slight pang in her heart. Obviously, Oliver had missed her twenty-first birthday. She remembered the nights when she would pick him up from parties, and he would go on and on about her twenty-first and how much fun they would have. He told her that he would teach her how to go out and drink, and it always made Felicity laugh.

(Then again, she had Thea Queen and Tommy Merlyn around for her twenty-first. It was like the two of them had thought that they had to make up for Oliver's absence for her birthday by being extra ridiculous. When Felicity had woken up, she had the worst hangover of her entire life, and Thea was still drunk and dancing with the dancers she had hired. Tommy was still at the makeshift bar they had created for the party, pouring shots and claiming that they needed "the hair of the dog to recover.")

"It's a pink drink," Felicity explained.

"A pink drink." Oliver repeated. He swiped the drink from Felicity's hand, like he used to do with soda when they were younger and watching a movie. He took a sip of the drink and then made a face so comical that Felicity burst out in laughter.

He set the drink back on the bar and pushed it towards Felicity. "Okay, how does that even taste pink?"

"I like it!" Felicity exclaimed defensively. She snatched the drink up off the bar and licked the sugar off of the rim. "It's better than your gross scotch, anyway."

Oliver made another face at her, which only caused Felicity to start giggling again. Maybe the pink drink and all of the champagne had gone to her head—not that she cared much. She drained the drink and ordered another one, watching over the rim of her glass as Oliver did the same.

"Do you want to get out of here?" Felicity asked.

He studied her for a long moment, his eyes oddly intense. Then he smiled again, and the look was gone. "Do you have a secret hideout at Verdant, or something? You know, other than the one we have in the basement."

"Actually, yes." She grabbed her drink and gestured for Oliver to follow suit before she grabbed his hand and began to tow him along. "Just come with me."

Bemused, Oliver followed her as they cut through the party and headed up a hidden set of stairs. They went up two levels before Felicity reached for a key hanging beside a door. She unlocked the door and pushed it open, revealing the roof of Verdant.

The sun was setting, casting a golden glow over everything. Off in the distance, Oliver could see the rest of Starling City. Felicity stepped back, holding her arms out as she showed Oliver the rooftop. He watched her with hooded eyes. The city and setting sun made a beautiful backdrop for Felicity Smoak.

"I found this the night Thea opened Verdant. I use it as my escape whenever Thea drags me out." She walked over the edge and leaned against the railing. Closing her eyes, she breathed in deeply as the evening breeze ruffled her hair.

When she opened them again, Oliver was standing next to her. She jumped a little, her heart stuttering in her chest. Pressing a hand over her heart, she gave him the side-eye that she had perfected when she was eight years old. "Jeez, Oliver! I know you move like a ninja, but a little warning would still be nice."

Despite her joking tone, Oliver's face was serious. He placed his hand next to hers on the railing—not touching, but close enough that she could practically feel him. His steady gaze was almost unnerving, but Felicity couldn't make herself look away… and she didn't really want to, if she was being honest with herself.

"Thank you for showing me your place." Oliver's voice was a deep rumble in his chest, and Felicity wanted to melt into it.

"Oliver." She inched her hand over on the railing, until just their pinkie fingers were touching. He lifted his slightly, so that his was overlapping with hers. "There's no one else I'd rather be up here with."

One second, they were staring at each other, with only their fingers touching. The next, Oliver was pressed against Felicity, with the railing digging into her back as he cupped her face in one hand and kissed her.

Some distant part of Felicity's mind wondered if she should be surprised that they ended up back in this position, but she honestly wasn't. And then she told that part of her mind to shut up, because Oliver's calloused fingers were trailing over the bare strip of skin revealed by the crop top of her dress, and Felicity forgot how to think entirely.

She ran one hand through the short hairs on the back of his head, feeling them prickle against her palm. Her other hand ran down his chest slowly, taking its time to memorize the hard planes of muscle.

Oliver groaned against her lips, and Felicity gasped in surprise. She didn't think that she would have ever been to illicit a reaction like that from him, but she had—and it was proven to her even further when Oliver began kissing her even harder, his lips moving against hers with a passion that was almost desperate.

Felicity's hand moved from his hair to the back of his suit jacket, which she clutched tightly as Oliver hoisted her up against his body, holding her against the railing. Her legs came up on either side of his waist, thighs pressing into his sides. Felicity nipped at his bottom lip, and Oliver retaliated by trailing his lips down to her neck.

His teeth scraped against the pulse jumping erratically in her neck, and Felicity moaned. She felt him smiling against her skin, and he did it again before he bit down lightly on the sensitive skin. Felicity's legs tightened around him and she curled her fingers into his shirt—what the hell was he doing to her?

She felt like she was about to come apart at the seams, but at the same time, having Oliver Queen's lips on hers felt like coming home. Holding him to her as his hands ran all of her body was something that Felicity wanted to go on forever.

His lips were on hers again, but it was a gentle kiss this time. Both of his hands came up to cup her face, his thumbs stroking her cheeks. Felicity curled her fingers into his shirt again, holding on to him as he placed another kiss, and then one more, against her lips.

Felicity kept her eyes closed when he finally pulled back. She wasn't sure if she could handle looking into his eyes at that moment. She just wanted to bask in the feel of Oliver still holding her to him, with his forehead pressed against hers.

As the sun fully set over the city, they breathed each other in.


forty-four.

"Felicity Smoak. Is that a hickey on your neck?"

Blushing terrifically, Felicity tried to stop herself from slapping a hand over the red mark on her neck. Instead, she narrowed her eyes at Tommy and flipped her hair with one hand, effectively covering the mark. "Don't you have someone else to go and bother? Your fiancée, perhaps?"

Tommy shrugged and moved to push Felicity's hair back from her neck again. "Laurel is still sleeping. I'm going to be a good fiancé and let her sleep in. And you still didn't answer my question, by the way."

Felicity slapped Tommy's hand away and sent him a dark glare before she turned back to her coffee. After the party last night, they had all ended up back at the Queen mansion. It was practically tradition for the group, after so many years of attending events together.

Tommy and Laurel had gone off to one of the guest suits to continue celebrating their engagement. Oliver had disappeared into the gym, and Felicity hadn't wanted to guess how many hours he had spent working out. Thea had been texting the cute bartender, and she was sure that she had snuck out to meet with him at two o'clock in the morning. Felicity, on the other hand, had parked her butt in Thea's California king bed and had watched movies until she had fallen asleep.

When she had woken up, Felicity had seen that Thea still hadn't returned. She checked her phone and found a text message from Thea; she indeed gone out to meet with the hot bartender, whose name was Roy Harper. Apparently, they had hit it off, and Thea had told Felicity not to worry.

With that matter settled, Felicity had gone into the kitchen in search of coffee. Of course, Raisa had already had some brewing for them (the woman truly was a saint for putting up with all of them, while managing to keep them well fed and well caffeinated). Felicity waited patiently for the first person to wake up and join her while Raisa made breakfast.

Naturally, it had to be Tommy, and of course he immediately noticed the hickey on her neck. Felicity hadn't even realized she had had the mark until she been brushing her teeth that morning. She had stared at her reflection in the mirror for a long moment before she sighed and resigned herself to the interrogation she was sure to receive.

Tommy didn't disappoint. "I bet I can guess where you got that hickey from," he said in an annoying sing-song voice. "By the way, you're blushing."

Felicity stared into her coffee mug. "Please don't be mean to me," she mumbled.

She was already beyond confused. The movies she had watched had distracted her somewhat, and she had fallen asleep halfway through the first one. But her dreams were full of Oliver's lips and his hands on her, and she had woken up and lay in bed for a long time, thinking about their little make out session on the roof of Verdant.

"Awww, Lis!" Tommy reached over and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly against his side. Felicity snuggled into her friend's embraced and closed her eyes. With all of the crazy things happening in her life, it was nice to know that Tommy Merlyn would always remain the same.

"Come on, Felicity," Tommy murmured. "Whatever happened, it can't be that bad."

"Ugh, but it is," Felicity lamented. "You know how Oliver is! And now that you know that… you know, what he does at nights, you can understand why Oliver is reluctant to start any kind of relationship."

"Felicity," Tommy began, but she was already on a roll, and she cut him off.

"Not that we even have a relationship! Of the romantic sort, anyway. Two kisses does not a stable, healthy relationship make. And I can't put that on Oliver, anyway! He's busy trying to save the city, and he doesn't need to worry about me."

"Felicity!" Tommy grabbed Felicity's shoulders and gave her a little shake. "Come on. And what do you mean by two kisses? What have you not been telling me?"

"Please. Like you want to hear about the times that Oliver and I made out."

"Oh, now we've gone from kissing to making out? Spill."

Despite the sigh of annoyance that escaped her lips, Felicity smiled. Tommy could gossip with the best of them—of course, how would he have survived all those years with Felicity and Thea otherwise? She pushed on his chest until he let her go, and then she reached for her coffee and took a fortifying sip.

"Okay, well, the first time he kissed me was after I was attacked on a mission and he was yelling at me," Felicity began.

Tommy held his hand up, his face suddenly stern and concerned. "Hang on a second, Smoak. You were attacked on one of Oliver's missions?"

"It really wasn't a big deal. We had the situation well at hand," Felicity said with a dismissive wave of her hand. She knew what she had signed up for when she had started helping Oliver. She wasn't going to pretend to be a delicate damsel in distress. "Anyway, he was yelling at me for getting captured and saying that I couldn't put myself in danger or whatever. I kind of forget exactly what he said, since all I can remember was the way that he kissed me."

"Gross."

"Tommy! You asked."

Tommy sighed dramatically. "Yes, I know. Continue."

Felicity rolled her eyes at him, but she let it go and continued with her story. "And then at your party last night, we made out on the roof."

"On the roof?" Tommy repeated, his eyes wide. "Damn, Smoak. I hadn't even managed to take a girl up there. That's some advanced maneuvering."

Felicity ignored that particular comment. "I'm so confused," she whispered. "I don't… I don't know what I'm supposed to do, Tommy." She hated the way her heart tightened in her chest—she both dreaded seeing Oliver and wanted to be around him. It was an odd juxtaposition of feelings, and Felicity was painfully aware of that fact.

"Hey." Tommy nudged her chin up with his fingers until she was looking at him. "Oliver is going to come around. You know how he is with change. It just takes him a little bit to adjust."

"Do you really believe that?" Felicity asked.

"Yes." Tommy kissed her cheek and then pushed her coffee cup towards her again. "Now drink up. You need to be properly caffeinated for when Oliver decides to grace us with his presence."

Felicity grinned at Tommy and patted his cheek affectionately before she reached for her mug. They only had about three minutes of peace and quiet before Thea Queen interrupted them.

"I hate that the two of you are so fucking chipper right now," Thea mumbled as she slid onto the stool next to Tommy. "You're both awful people."

Felicity tried to hide her amusement at Thea's suffering, but Tommy laughed outright. "It's your own damn fault that you're hungover," he told her.

Thea made a face at him. "Roy challenged me."

"Roy is that bartender you had a crush on, right?" Felicity asked.

To the surprise of both Felicity and Tommy, a light blush suffused across Thea's cheeks. "Yes."

"And you challenged him to some drinking contest? Very nice, Thea."

Thea scowled. "I don't even remember who started it, but we ended up going shot for shot." Her scowl turned smug. "I won, by the way."

"Of course you did!" Tommy clapped Thea on the back. "I couldn't be more proud. I've taught you well."

"What have you taught Thea?"

All three occupants at the kitchen counter looked up to see that the newcomer was Oliver. He was still in his pajamas—a pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt. He actually looked relaxed, his eyes free of bags, and his brow missing its usual furrow. An amused smile played on his lips, and Felicity felt her cheeks flush bright red.

Thea was already re-telling her story to Oliver, but of course Tommy was watching Felicity and delighting in her embarrassment. She narrowed her eyes at him, but he just smirked at her. Oliver came over and slid onto the empty stool on the other side of Felicity. His knee brushed against hers, and a shiver coursed through Felicity's entire body.

She chanced a glance at him, and saw that he was watching her with eyes so intense that Felicity almost kissed him again right then and there. She saw a spark in his eyes, and Felicity was positive he could read her mind. A smile began to form on his lips, and Felicity hastily looked away. She couldn't explain it if she threw herself at Oliver and began kissing him.

(She was willing to bet that it wouldn't have fazed Tommy or Thea one iota, however.)

Of course, Raisa made them the most wonderful breakfast, consisting of a vegetable quiche, heaping piles of bacon and sausage, a tropical fruit salad, and buttery slices of seven-grain toast. Felicity accepted her plate of food and a fresh cup of coffee from Raisa with a bright smile, but she almost choked on her thanks when she felt Oliver's knee press against hers under the kitchen island again.. and it stayed there.

Felicity tried to watch him out of the corner of her eye, but she wasn't very successful. She had never been very good at being sneaky (all nightly activities with the Starling City vigilante aside). There was no way she could risk watching Oliver without at least Thea noticing, let alone Tommy. Then she would never hear the end of it.

Oliver, for his part, was listening to Thea chatter on and on about Roy. He would ask questions every now and then, just as an over-protective big brother should. Despite the obvious tension between Oliver and Felicity, the interactions between Oliver and Thea made Felicity smile. There had been a time when they had thought Thea was never going to get another stern, big brother lecture from Oliver. It was nice to know that they had been wrong.

From that point on, Oliver's leg remained pressed against Felicity's. She tried her hardest not think about it, and instead concentrated on eating the delicious food in front of her.

In the middle of their meal, Laurel finally surfaced. She looked refreshed and ready to face the day, which was more than any of the other inhabitants of the kitchen could say. She stood next to Tommy's stool and wrapped her arms around him, pressing a kiss to his cheek in greeting.

"You guys should see the article I found online about the party last night," she said.

That brightened Thea's mood considerably. "There's an article already? Excellent!"

Laurel smiled indulgently at the younger woman. "The society pages just came out with it and posted it online. I'm sure it will make it to print this week."

She pulled her phone out of the pocket of her sweatshirt and opened it to the article she had discovered that morning. There plenty pictures of the engagement party from the night before. There were several featuring just Tommy and Laurel, of course. Several more just had general shots of the party and decorations, which were top notch (of course, Thea had settled for nothing less than the absolute best).

There was even a group shot of the five of them. It was great picture—someone had obviously snapped it while they were laughing, instead of it being painfully posed. Tommy, Laurel, Thea, Oliver, and Felicity were all standing with their arms around one another, in that order. It had probably been Tommy that had a told a joke that made all of them laugh, and all five of them looked genuinely happy in that photo.

It was the one after that picture that caught Felicity's attention the most, however.

She knew that there was a photographer taking pictures during the party, of course. She just hadn't realized that the photographer had taken such intimate pictures of the party-goers. This particular picture told quite the story, even to someone who didn't know them at all.

It was of Felicity and Oliver at the bar. She was sitting on the stool, holding her pink drink and smiling up at Oliver in a practically sultry way. Felicity would never have used the word sultry to describe herself, but there wasn't another word she could come up with. Oliver was hovering over her in a protective, almost predatory way, and it was something that Felicity found to be completely sexy.

Clearing her throat, Felicity shoved the phone back at Laurel and started shoveling the rest of her breakfast into her mouth. She chugged the remains of her coffee and then jumped up, heading towards the door as she spoke.

"I think I'm going to take a shower," she announced before anyone could say anything to her. She made sure that her hair and the collar of her sweatshirt covered her hickey, just to avoid any other questions. "I'll see you guys later."

Felicity swore that she could hear laughter following her as she ran up the stairs.


forty-five.

After spending a ridiculous amount of time in the shower, Felicity finally felt that her nerves and embarrassment had calmed down enough to face her friends once again. She couldn't believe that after all this time, Oliver put her so on edge. She probably should have expected it, though. She had been in love with Oliver all her life before his disappearance, and it seemed as if those feelings hadn't changed.

After changing into a pair of jeans and a tank top with a pink cardigan over it, Felicity wandered down the hallway. She had spent years of her life at the Queen mansion, but every now and then, she found herself still getting lost among the mazes of rooms and hallways. Given her thoughts were so jumbled, Felicity honestly wasn't surprised that she had taken a wrong turn and had somehow ended up by Moira Queen's second floor office.

With a sigh Felicity pivoted on her foot and went to head back towards the main hallway. She figured she might as well just use the main stairs at this point, instead of one of the many hidden sets of stairs in the mansion that would have led her right to the kitchen. Before she could move too far, however, a loud crash came from Moira's office, making Felicity jump.

It was the name that was spoken next that made her freeze in place outside the office, however.

"Malcolm, really." Moira Queen's voice sounded heavy and tired. "Must you react so violently?"

"Someone is taking out all of the old associates that our families had… less than desirable dealings with," Malcolm retorted. His voice was curt and hard, and there was a an iciness to it that had Felicity's heart thumping hard in her chest. "Doesn't that send up a red flag to you?"

"The vigilante already cornered me, as you may recall," Moira pointed out. "And he didn't get anything from me. Didn't the vigilante actually end up saving you, Malcolm?"

Silence stretched between the pair in the office for a long moment. Unable to help herself, Felicity crept towards the doors. The doors were cracked open just enough that Felicity was able to hear the whole conversation; if she placed herself just so, she would be able peer through the gap between the doors and see what was going on.

Moira was sitting at her desk with a glass of scotch in one hand, and she looked completely and utterly finished with Malcolm Merlyn. Malcolm, on the other hand, was standing over Moira's desk in a way that could only be called dangerous. His whole body was taut, as if one wrong word from Moira could cause him to snap.

"Someone knows what was going on before Robert and Oliver disappeared, Moira," Malcolm pointed out. Felicity gaped at that incredibly cryptic statement. There weren't a whole lot of specifics, but at the same time, it revealed were so much. Just how involved, exactly, were Malcolm and Moira—and even Robert—with what was happening with the list?

"Doesn't that concern you?" Malcolm continued.

Moira sighed heavily. Felicity managed to get a good look at Moira's face as she spun slowly in her chair to fully face Malcolm, and what she saw surprised her.

Felicity had known Moira Queen for years. Her father had always been close with the Queens, and Felicity had been close friends with both of her children for as long as she could remember. Even so, Felicity had never been that close with Moira. Truthfully, the Queen matriarch had always scared Felicity a little bit. There was always something just a little bit ruthless about Moira, something cold and calculating that had always made Felicity be cautious around her.

The woman sitting at the desk now didn't look any of those things. Instead, she just looked exhausted. It was as if she was in the middle of fighting a war that she already knew she was going to lose, and instead of doing anything to stop it, she had just accepted it. Moira Queen looked as if she was broken and trying so very hard to hide it.

Felicity's mind whirled with the implications of what she had just heard and seen. She forced herself to focus on what Moira was going to say next, just in case it was anything important. Instead, Moira just waved her hand dismissively at Malcolm.

"Malcolm, just leave," Moira ordered.

Before Malcolm could move or react, Felicity darted away from the office doors. She certainly didn't want to be caught eavesdropping, should Malcolm choose to leave. Instead, spun on her heel and quietly but quickly moved back the way she came.

How was she going to tell Oliver?


forty-six.

For once, Oliver was in a relatively good mood when he came back from one of his missions. The bad guy in question had actually been full of remorse, and had been more than willing to turn over a couple hundred thousand dollars to a charity to help with education in the Glades without much convincing. In fact, said bad guy was becoming quite the champion for the residents of the Glades, and had promised to inform Oliver of any suspicious activity he noticed.

"That was almost too easy," Oliver announced as he put his bow and arrows back. He shrugged off the leather green jacket and put it back on the mannequin as he turned towards Felicity, Digg, and Tommy. He was surprised to see that Felicity looked almost murderous as she stabbed at her keyboard—normally, she didn't handle her tech with such harsh hands. Tommy looked smug, while Digg just wore a look of amusement.

Oliver set his bow aside as he an arched an eyebrow at his friends. "Am I missing something?"

It had been almost two weeks after Tommy and Laurel's engagement party. Since then, Tommy had spending more and more time down in the Foundry with them. Oliver didn't mind, since Tommy never got in the way—and it was nice to have his best friend know what he was really doing. Diggle certainly didn't mind either, since he appreciated the comedic relief that Tommy often provided. Felicity didn't have a problem with it either for the most part. Unless Tommy started to get annoying. It seemed Tommy had reached his threshold.

"Your best friend is an asshole," Felicity bit out. She stabbed at her keyboard again, causing the whole desk to shake. Oliver crossed the room and put his hands on her shoulders, pulling her back from the monitors slightly.

Of course, Tommy didn't help matters by laughing outright. That only made Felicity shoot him a dark glare; clearly, she wasn't amused at all. Digg was wise enough to get up and cross to the other side of the Foundry so that Felicity couldn't see him laughing.

"Explain," Oliver said with a sigh. He felt like he was refereeing a couple of children.

Felicity and Tommy sat in complete silence for several long moments. Felicity kept glaring at him, while Tommy tilted his head forward, indicating that Felicity should be the one to explain. Oliver sighed a hand and scrubbed a hand over his face. Meanwhile, across the Foundry, Digg could no longer hide his laughter. Felicity barely spared him a glare before she spun around in her chair to face Oliver.

"Tommy wants to plan a birthday party for me," she snapped.

"Uh…" Oliver looked over at Tommy, who hid his face behind his hands in an effort to keep Felicity from seeing his grin. "And that's bad because…?"

Felicity threw her hands up into the air. "We have too much to do!" she exploded as she pushed her chair back from Oliver. She jumped up and began to pace across the small space between her desk and Oliver's work station. She had shed her high heels hours ago, and her bare feet padded against the cement floor. Oliver found it to be completely adorable.

"We have to figure out what the whole point of the list is, and what it all leads to. And you know I have scans going all over the city, so we can look at any other criminal activity that we need to track. We have to be aware of these things! Not to mention the fact that we're trying to pull off the biggest wedding of the year in only a few months—a wedding that's for you, by the way, Tommy Merlyn. There is absolutely no time to plan a birthday party for me!"

Tommy held his hands up. "I didn't mean to cause any trouble," he said. He sounded mostly sincere, but he was still having trouble hiding the laughter in his voice. "I was just thinking that we could have one of the VIP rooms at Verdant and—"

Now Oliver could see where Felicity had gotten annoyed. She didn't mid going to events and parties for their friends and family. When it came to herself, however, Felicity didn't really enjoy making a big spectacle out of everything. She would much rather have a low key night at home, and Oliver knew that it would be the same when it came to her birthday. She had been like that ever since they had been children.

"Felicity, calm down," Oliver said. Naturally, that sentence seemed to have the opposite effect, and she huffed angrily at him. Oliver barely managed not to roll his eyes. Instead, he turned towards Tommy and said, "Why don't we just have a dinner at the mansion? You, me, Digg, Laurel, and Thea. We can make it an easy night."

Once again, Tommy got that irritatingly smug look on his face. Oliver couldn't help but wonder if he had fallen into some sort of trap. "Okay," Tommy agreed quickly. "I'll call up Felicity's favorite Italian restaurant and have them cater it. You won't have to worry about anything, Oliver."

With that, Tommy pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed a number (probably Thea), and started talking into it in a low and rapid voice. He practically ran out of the Foundry, so neither Felicity or Oliver could corner him. Felicity cursed under her breath before she declared that she taking a walk. She followed Tommy out of the Foundry, leaving Oliver to stare after her in confusion.

"What the hell just happened?" Oliver demanded.

Digg, who had deemed it safe to cross to the side of the room that Oliver occupied once again, shook his head. "Felicity is feeling frustrated and she took it out on Tommy."

"Why? What happened?" Oliver couldn't hold back the urgency or alarm that he felt. Felicity was typically the most level-headed one of all of them. If she was frustrated, Oliver normally would have been able to pick up on the cues.

"She's just upset that she hasn't been able to come up with anything more about the list over the past couple of weeks," Diggle revealed. "You've had the whole thing with the Dark Archer, but we've been trying to keep up with the rest of the crime in the city and… I think it's all just getting to her a little bit."

Oliver sighed and closed his eyes. They had run into a dead end with the list and the Dark Archer. Oliver couldn't help but feel that the two were connected, but he had no concrete evidence yet. He was surprised that Felicity had been hiding this feeling of frustration from him, however. She was normally much more open with him, and it was a little unnerving to know that she had been closing herself off.

Digg seemed to sense his train of thought. "And it probably doesn't help that you keep sending her mixed signals."

"What?" Oliver's voice was sharp as he swiveled his head towards his friend. He wasn't comfortable with people knowing about whatever was going on between him and Felicity, since Oliver wasn't quite sure what was happening himself. There were too many… feelings. All he felt were things that he couldn't put a name to, and he wanted to figure it out with Felicity before any of their friends found out about it.

Of course, he knew that Tommy and Thea knew. God knew that Oliver and Felicity had never been able to keep a secret from the two of them. He wasn't surprised that Digg had picked up on it, as well. He always quietly observed, and it was obvious that the dynamic had changed between Oliver and Felicity.

They tried to keep it hidden, but it was hard. Oliver wanted to be near Felicity all the time, and he had no idea how she was feeling, but it wasn't like she was going out of her way to avoid him. It didn't help that Tommy was trying to plan something, and it was clear that Thea was involved as well.

"You know what I'm talking about," Digg said with a sigh. "It's obvious that you like her, man. And she… well, you know how Felicity is." It wasn't Digg's place to tell Oliver about Felicity's true feelings for him. "If you're not ready to be with her, don't keep jerking her around."

"I'm not—" Oliver began, but he stopped when Digg sent him a pointed look. He sighed and scrubbed a hand over his hair.

Digg looked annoyingly superior as he crossed his arms and leaned against the desk. "When are you going to admit to yourself that you're in love with her?"

Oliver immediately opened his mouth to protest, but stopped. Those feelings would always hover around in the back of his mind, for longer than he wanted to admit. They had been young, and she had been sixteen years old when Oliver had realized for the first time that his feelings had been less than platonic.

He had been with Laurel on and off then at that point, which only made him feel even guiltier about his growing feelings for Felicity. Years passed, and then we ended up stuck on that island. He had gone through things on that island that he still refused to let himself think about. It had been thinking about his friends and family—Tommy, Thea, and Felicity especially—that led him hold on to at least a little bit of the man he had been before the accident.

Felicity deserved more than a broken man who felt so guilty about what his family had done, he spent his time running around the city in green leather, acting as a vigilante. She deserved someone whole, someone who was able to love her and not bring darkness into her life. Oliver wasn't ever sure that he could be that person, but he was desperate to have her in his life. It had been why he had latched on to her so strongly when they were children. She was his ray of light, and she always had been.

"I don't know if I can love like that," Oliver admitted.

Digg shook his head once again, and there was an amused smile on his lips. "Man, don't you know? You already do."


forty-seven.

Tommy was pacing back and forth by the time Oliver showed up at the Merlyn mansion. It was early, just about three o'clock in the morning. Oliver was on high alert, and he supposed that it was a good thing that he was able to operate at full capacity without much sleep.

Of course, he would be this alert anyway, given that Tommy had called him in a panic before the sun had even risen.

"Alright, Tommy," Oliver said quietly. "What's going on?"

Tommy looked like he was about to lose it. Ever since he had found out about Oliver's secret, he had been waiting for this moment. Everyone had their breaking point, and Oliver suspected that his friends were all going to find theirs soon.

Tommy's voice came out in a rush, with hardly a pause between words. "It's bad, man. I mean, really bad. I had no idea that this was going on, and I'm sorry, because I feel like everything is just one big lie—"

"Whoa, Tommy." Oliver reached out and grabbed Tommy by the shoulders, forcing him to stop his pacing just as he passed by him once again. "You have to relax, man. Talk to me."

Taking a deep breath, Tommy ran shaking hands through his hair. "Just… follow me."

With that cryptic statement, Oliver followed Tommy into the mansion. They bypassed the main rooms and headed for the basement. Oliver wasn't surprised when Tommy revealed a hidden hallway; the mansions were typically built with those. He figured Malcolm had them put in, just as he knew that his own parents had several secret passages and rooms in the Queen mansion.

At the end of the hallway, Tommy pressed on a rock in a specific spot on the wall. A panel slid back, revealing a touch screen prompting the people looking for entrance with the proper access. Tommy looked over his shoulder at Oliver, his eyes unreadable, before he placed his palm on the screen. A door slid open.

When Oliver first walked into the room, he thought his mind was playing tricks on him.

It was like his own setup under Verdant, minus all the computers that Felicity had set up. There were weapons of all sorts and sizes everywhere, but the most prominently displayed one was a bow and arrows… along with the Dark Archer's outfit.

"Tommy…" Oliver wasn't sure if he would be able to hear anything over the sound of his pulse thundering in his ears. "What the hell is this?"

"I don't know, man, okay?" Tommy exclaimed as he threw his hands up in the air. "I don't know! Ever since you saved my dad at that stupid award ceremony, he's been acting weird. I finally got fed up with it and followed him down here, just to see where he would go. I only went as far as the basement and saw him come into this passageway." Tommy sank to the floor and put his head in his hands. "I didn't want him to catch me, so I went back upstairs. But when he left the next day, I came down. I figured that there was no way he would be in just an empty hallway. It took some time to find the stone that opened the access panel, but I did. I didn't know if my prints would work, but…"

"They did," Oliver finished for him. Sighing heavily, he ran his hands through his hair and sat on the floor next to his closest and oldest friend. "Malcolm probably had it set for you. He wanted you to find this."

"Do you think so?" Tommy asked. "I mean, why would he?" A bitter laugh escaped him. "Other than the fact that my father is apparently a complete psycho."

"I'm getting the feeling that Malcolm knows a hell of a lot more than we think he does." Oliver didn't like thinking that Malcolm knew his identity, and knew that Felicity, Digg, and Tommy were working with him. Now that they knew that Malcolm was really the Dark Archer, however, it was becoming more and more likely.

"I'm sorry, Oliver," Tommy whispered. "I had no idea…"

Oliver shrugged his shoulders. "How could you? Before I was trapped on the island, I had no idea that my parents were apparently involved with some of the words people in the city. I guess that includes your dad, too." He reached out and clapped his hand on Tommy's shoulder. "This isn't your fault, Tommy. You have to know that."

Tommy took a deep, shuddering breath before he climbed back to his feet. Oliver stood as well, and he cast a look at the Dark Archer's gear before he turned his back on it. Together, Tommy and Oliver left Malcolm Merlyn's secret lair.

"So," Tommy finally said. His voice was lighter in an attempt to lessen some of the tension that was still lingering in the air. "Does this mean that I'm kicked out of the super hero secret club?"

That, finally, got Oliver to chuckle. He slung an arm around Tommy's shoulders and ruffled his hair, just as he did when they were kids. "Dude, of course not. I need someone to back me up against Felicity and Digg, after all."


forty-eight.

So much was swirling through Felicity's brain. She couldn't believe that Malcolm Merlyn was actually the Dark Archer, though it did explain quite a few things. Oliver had warned them all that Malcolm probably knew they were working with him, and they were all to be on alert for a while.

At least Felicity now knew why Malcolm had seemed extra creepy when he had been asking her questions.

Oliver was convinced that Malcolm had wanted Tommy to know. He didn't think that Tommy was in any danger, but he still had both Felicity and Diggle monitoring Tommy and Laurel's apartment, just in case.

She felt bad for them. Felicity couldn't imagine what Tommy was going through, especially since the Dark Archer had been able to get into Oliver's head. Malcolm had clearly gone off the deep end after Tommy's mother had died, and it was obvious that Tommy felt some sort of responsibility for not being the one to pull his father back.

He and Laurel should have been happy. They were in the middle of planning their wedding, and they were going to get married soon. They deserved to finally have some happiness in their lives after all the loss they had been through. Felicity resolved that she would not let Malcolm Merlyn ruin this happiness for them.

She had also decided that she was going to do whatever it took to keep Malcolm away from them. She had seen how it had affected Oliver when the Dark Archer had defeated him the first few times. She remembered his reaction when they were discussing the League of Assassins. It all had him rattled, and Felicity refused to let him fall down that black hole once again.

On this particular night, though, Felicity was craving some normalcy. Oliver had ordered them all away from the lair, claiming that they all needed some time to get their heads back on straight. She knew that meant he would be working out and training in the basement of Verdant, probably until he passed out from exhaustion.

After making sure that Digg would check on him just so Oliver wouldn't hurt himself, Felicity had decided to go the Queen mansion and seek out Thea. They were long overdue for a girl's night, and Felicity missed her best friend.

Thea smiled as pulled open the door. "I had a feeling that you were going to show up. I got Raisa to make us some pizza."

"Oh, you're the best!" Felicity exclaimed. She accepted the glass of wine that Thea handed her and grinned. "You're my hero, Thea Queen."

That made Thea laugh. "Don't let Oliver hear you say that. I'd hate for him to get jealous."

There was something knowing in Thea's tone, something that struck a nerve in Felicity. She narrowed her eyes and took a long sip of her wine—she had a feeling that she was going to need it. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing." Thea blinked innocently at Felicity. "It's just, you know Oliver. He's the jealous type… especially when it comes to you."

"No, he's not," Felicity mumbled. She had a feeling that hadn't been what Thea had been referring to, but she decided to let it go. Thea had been dropping cryptic comments like that for weeks now, and Felicity was going to get to the bottom of it sooner or later. She just didn't have the energy to tackle that right now.

Whipping her phone out of her pocket of her jeans, Thea unlocked it and brandished it in Felicity's face. "He totally is. Or do I need to show you the picture of the two of you that was taken at Tommy and Laurel's engagement party?"

Felicity snatched the phone away from Thea and stared in disbelief at the picture that was being displayed for her. "Why do you have this on your phone?" she demanded. She refused to acknowledge that she found the picture to be incredibly hot, and she was embarrassed to find herself getting all hot and bothered.

"I'm having it framed for you. Duh."

"Thea Queen! You wouldn't dare."

Grinning brightly, Thea took the phone back from Felicity. "It's already done, Lis. Just go with it."

"Ugh. I hate you." The words weren't said with any real conviction, and Felicity took another sip of her wine. She had wanted normalcy tonight, and she certainly got it; what was more normal than having Thea get on her nerves?

"It will be delivered within the next few days," Thea said cheerfully.

"Great," Felicity murmured. "I'm going to have to hide it from Oliver."

Still laughing, Thea got the pizza from Raisa and then came back into the living room, where she turned on a movie. Pulling a plate of pizza towards her, Felicity settled into the fluffy couch and dug in.

For those two hours, it was just like any other movie night that Felicity and Thea had had in the past. They ate way too much pizza, drank a lot of wine, and broke out the ice cream. They recited the lines to their favorite chick flicks and laughed at scenes they had seen a million times.

Once the movie was over, Thea set aside the empty ice cream carton and filled their wine glasses once again. Felicity watched, waiting patiently for Thea to say whatever she needed to get off her chest.

"So." Thea handed the full wine glass to Felicity. Despite the buzz they both had, there was serious note in Thea's voice that made Felicity pay attention. She took a long pull from the wine glass and waited.

Thea took a deep breath. "I know."

Felicity's brow furrowed. In that moment, she truly had no idea what Thea was talking about. "Know what?"

"I know about you and Oliver and Diggle and Tommy… and what you do in the basement."

"Um." Felicity blinked. "What?"

"I know that Oliver is like, the Arrow, or whatever?"

Despite Felicity's complete shock at what Thea had just revealed to her, she jerked back in surprise. "Wait, hang on. The Arrow? Since when have they started calling him the Arrow?"

Thea shrugged her shoulders and drank from her own wine glass, gulping until at least half of it was gone. "I don't know. I read it on Twitter, I think. It's a hashtag now."

"Oh, Oliver is just going to love that," Felicity mumbled to herself. She couldn't help but think that Oliver's reaction to finding out his new name was a trending hashtag on Twitter would be less than amused, and the thought made Felicity smile. Then she remembered what, exactly, had prompted the reveal of that new name. "Hang on. So you know that Oliver is the vigilante? Since when?"

"Since forever," Thea said. "Well, not since the very beginning. But since you've started helping, definitely. And then when Tommy stopped being such an ass, I really knew that I was right. You're all terrible at keeping secrets, you know."

"But, how… Why…" Felicity trailed off, unsure of how to continue. Instead of asking one of the hundred questions that were now bouncing around in her mind, she said, "I take it Oliver still has no idea that you know?"

"He doesn't," Thea confirmed. "He can be pretty oblivious when he wants to be." She sent her best friend a pointed look, which Felicity promptly ignored.

"You have to tell him, you know," Felicity said. "I mean… we're involved with some pretty heavy stuff. If you know, and someone found out… I don't want to think about what could happen."

Thea snorted and gave a dismissive wave of her hand. "Please, Felicity. You know that I can take care of myself."

"Come on, Thea. Being good at a few self-defense classes is so not the same as dealing with the kind of shit Oliver and Digg have to face when they patrol the streets in Starling."

"Well…" Thea finally looked sheepish as she shifted on the couch and took another sip of wine. "Okay, so I might not only be taking self-defense classes."

Felicity's eyes narrowed. "Oh really?"

"Really. I may or may not be also learning jujitsu… among other things."

Felicity drained the rest of the wine in her glass and tilted her head back against the couch. "I can't be the only normal one out of all of us. It's just not possible."

"Says the super hacker," Thea pointed out. "If anyone is normal, it'd be Tommy. Which is kind of a depressing thought, to be completely honest."


forty-nine.

Malcolm had completely dropped off of the face of the earth, and they were still at a dead end with the list. That gave Oliver and Digg extra time to start going after the crime that plagued Starling City in general. Oliver found that he was stopping robberies and shootings most nights, and he couldn't deny that there was a certain amount of satisfaction that came from leaving those guys for the police to arrest.

That also meant that there was more time for Thea to continue planning Tommy and Laurel's wedding, which meant she had roped Felicity into it, as well. Despite Felicity's insistence that Thea needed to tell Oliver that she knew what was going on, Thea continued to keep her mouth shut. She put the final details on Laurel and Tommy's wedding, all while planning Felicity's birthday party with the help of Tommy.

"You'll have to wear a dress, you know," Thea said. "I mean, obviously it's not going to be black tie, since you won't let me invite anyone other than who we actually know. And we don't need to do any kind of, like, clubbing dresses, because it's just going to be a quiet dinner at the mansion." That made Thea roll her eyes. "But you still have to look hot, okay?"

"Jesus, Thea." Felicity tapped away at her tablet, only half-paying attention to what Thea was prattling on about. She was trying to multiple stolen credit cards that were being used in an identity theft ring. "I don't really have time to pick a dress out for the party that I didn't even ask for."

"Please, like I would let you pick the dress? When have I ever let you pick the dress, Felicity Smoak?"

"That's true." Finally having success with one of the credit cards, Felicity texted the hit to Oliver and Digg. She set her tablet aside and sat up on Thea's bed, which she had been lounging on. "So, have you thought about when you're going to tell Oliver?"

"Tell Oliver what?" Tommy asked as he entered Thea's bedroom. The two of them were in party-planning mode. Really, if they used their combined powers for good, they would probably be able to take over the world.

"That I know he's the Arrow," Thea stated nonchalantly.

Felicity choked on the air she was breathing. "Thea!"

"What? I already knew that Tommy knew. And Tommy knows that I know, too."

Tommy nodded his head and sent Felicity a guilty look. "I did know. She talked to me two days ago. Wanted to know how I handled finding out about your secret little superhero club."

"I told you to stop calling it that," Felicity grumbled under her breath. She sighed, then, and stared her two friends down.

They had been through so much ever since the Queen's Gambit had sunk. Before Oliver's disappearance, they had barley acknowledged each other; Thea was getting involved with partying too much, and Felicity had only barely tolerated Tommy as Oliver's annoying friend.

After it had been announced that the Queen's Gambit had sunk and there were supposedly no survivors, the three of them had come together. The bonds that had formed between Thea, Felicity, and Tommy (and somewhat with Laurel, by extension) were deep and strong. They had experienced horrible pain and loss together, and that sadness had given way to the best friendships that Felicity had ever had.

She remembered the night that Thea and Tommy had shown up at her place. It had been three days since Oliver and Robert's funerals, and it was the worst three days of her life. It seemed like they had never left, after that.

Felicity wasn't sure that there were any tears left to cry.

Once the reality had set in and Felicity had realized that Oliver was never coming home, she had had a complete breakdown that no one had been witness to. There had been no one to comfort her—that had always been Oliver's job. Felicity was always open and bubbly and always said what was on her mind, but Oliver was one of the only people that she ever showed her true feelings to.

Being faced with the reality that he was truly gone was too much to take. So after that breakdown, Felicity had simply shut down. She had gone to the funeral, she had sat with Thea at that stupid dinner, and she had grieved. It seemed like she was dreaming, and it felt all too real at the same time.

There was a knock on the door of the Smoak townhouse. Felicity's father was out, trying to help Moira with everything that was going on since both Robert and Oliver had passed. Being on the board at Queen Consolidated meant that Eli would be busy a lot over the next coming months, and Felicity had accepted that her father wouldn't always be around to comfort her.

So Felicity wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and shuffled over the front door. The two people she had found on her front step were certainly not people she had ever expected to see at her door.

Thea Queen's eyes were red and puffy, as if she had spent the whole day crying. Tommy Merlyn was pale, and he even looked a little gaunt. These were not the two people that Felicity was used to seeing plastered all over the tabloids: the sixteen year old socialite, and the twenty-two year old playboy. These people were grieving, and Felicity's heart broke for them.

"Hi." Felicity's voice was rough, and she cleared her throat. She hadn't really actually talked to anyone since the funeral three days ago.

Thea wrapped her arms around herself and managed a watery smile in Felicity's direction, but it was Tommy that actually spoke. "Hey. Can we come in?"

"Of course." Felicity stepped aside, allowing Tommy and Thea to enter. They stood in the living room of the townhouse, staring awkwardly at one another. Naturally, it was Tommy who ended up breaking the silence.

"So." He clapped his hands together and tried to smile, though it didn't really reach his eyes. "Does your dad have any vodka around this place? Because I think we need it."

Even in college, Felicity wasn't that big with partying. She tended to focus on her schoolwork more than going out with the few friends she had made. That particular night, however, Felicity knew that she wanted to participate in whatever Tommy had planned.

Felicity jerked her head towards the back of the townhouse. "Follow me."

Three hours later, the bottle of vodka was nearly empty, and they were all sprawled out on the floor of her bedroom. They had spent the time taking shots and telling their favorite stories about Oliver. It was strangely cathartic to bond through their grief and then share their favorite memories about Oliver.

It helped that they were all completely and totally drunk, as well.

"I just miss him, you know?" Tommy tucked his hands behind his head and stared up at Felicity's ceiling. "We did a lot of stupid shit together, but he was always the one to save us before things got too bad, you know?"

Thea snorted and grabbed the bottle of vodka, taking a swig from it. "Oliver did always have a hero complex. He was good at saving people."

"He was," Felicity agreed. Maybe it was the vodka coursing through her system—it was the first time that she had been well and truly drunk, after all. The words that came out of her mouth next couldn't be stopped, even if she wanted to. "I was in love with him, you know? I am in love with him, still."

"We know," Tommy told her. "We've known for, like, ever, Felicity. It's kind of obvious that you're in love with him."

"Obvious to everyone except Oliver, that is," Thea said. She glanced at Felicity and put her hand on her shoulder. "No offense."

"None taken." Felicity accepted the bottle of vodka from Thea and took a large gulp from it. She reached for the can of soda they had brought with them as well, using it chase the burning alcohol. "I just… I never told him. He'll never know. I don't think I can ever forget that."

"He loved you," Thea said, suddenly. "He did."

"It's true," Tommy added. "I don't even know if he realized it yet. But he loved you."

Felicity had no idea what to say to that, but she didn't respond… at least directly. Unexpectedly, tears burned in her eyes and began to spill over before she could even attempt to stop them. Gasping out a shuddering sob, Felicity covered her face with her hands.

"I miss him," she admitted. "I miss him so much. And I didn't get to see him before… before he left… and I'll… I can never forgive myself." Each word was punctuated by a sob, and the pain made Felicity's heart clutch in her chest.

Tommy reached over and pulled her into her arms. Felicity pressed her face into her chest as she sobbed, and she felt Thea come up behind her and wrap her arms around her.

They all cried together. And that was the night that the three of them became inseparable.

"I have a serious question, though," Tommy said. His voice pulled Felicity from one the memories that was one of the worst and the best in her entire life. It was the worse because of all of the pain she had felt; it was the best, because she had gained two amazing friends on that night.

Both Felicity and Thea sighed. They knew that particular tone of voice from Tommy; it meant that he was about to ask a stupid question. While waiting, the two young women shared a look.

"Since when has Oliver been called the Arrow? We can't let him have a cool nickname. It'll totally go to his head."

Thea laughed while Felicity rolled her eyes. "Honestly? That's what you're choosing to focus on right now?"

"What?" Tommy didn't get why Felicity was so annoyed. "You know that I'm right!"


fifty.

"So I did good, right?"

Felicity studied her reflection in the floor-length mirror of Thea's suite. Her dress was short falling to mid-thigh, with long sleeves and low-cut neckline. It was gold and sparkly and embroidered with flowers, and Felicity loved it. Her hair was full and curly around her shoulders, her eyes were dark and smoky, and she had a bright pop of lipstick. She was finally twenty-four, and for once, she felt confident in who she was.

"You did," Felicity admitted. "I mean…" She twirled in the dress, causing the skirt to float up around her legs. "It's amazing."

Thea was wearing bright pink, strapless dress in honor of Felicity's birthday. Thea claimed that she had had Felicity's birthday dress picked out for months now, but somehow had to wear pink because it was Felicity's favorite color.

"I thought so," Thea mused.

They were all excited for tonight. For once, there was no Team Arrow (as Tommy had started referring to them) drama. No one was thinking about the fact that Malcolm Merlyn was the Dark Archer, or that Thea knew the whole deal with Oliver's secret identity. Tonight was just about celebrating Felicity's birthday, and they were all going to take advantage of the reprieve.

Thea hugged Felicity tightly. "Happy birthday, Lis," she murmured.

Grinning Felicity returned her best friend's hug. "Thanks, Thea. For everything."

Felicity didn't need to elaborate, because Thea already knew what she was talking about. Smiling, Thea squeezed Felicity's shoulders once again.

"Come on," she said. "Let's go downstairs. God only knows that you have to knock my brother's socks off with the way you look in this dress."

"Ha ha," Felicity murmured under her breath. Still, she slipped on her heels and followed Thea down the main staircase of the Queen mansion. All of their friends were waiting at the foot of the stairs, and it made Felicity smile.

She had been serious when she said that she only wanted her closest friends there. As promised, only Thea, Tommy, Laurel, Digg, and Oliver were in attendance. Oliver was holding a bouquet of daises—her favorite.

His eyes were dark and full of something that Felicity wasn't sure she could put a name to as she approached him. He licked his lips and held out the bouquet of flowers to her. Felicity accepted them with a smile, and she didn't miss the way that Oliver's eyes swept up and down her body.

"Happy birthday," Oliver murmured.

A smiled ticked up the corners of Felicity's lips, and she raised the bouquet to her nose, inhaling deeply. "Thank you."

"Alright, come on!" Tommy clapped his hands together. "We have some birthday shots lined up, and they need to be taken immediately."

Laurel rolled her eyes at her future husband. "Aren't we a little old to be starting a dinner with birthday shots?"

"No," Tommy and Thea said at the same time. It made Diggle chuckle, and he was the first to head into the dining room. Felicity's favorite Coldplay album was playing over hidden speakers, and more arrangements of daisies were placed all over the room. Candles casted a soft glow of golden light across the long dining table, and Felicity could smell the food from her favorite Italian restaurant.

Since they had done exactly what she wanted for her birthday, Felicity didn't mind taking some birthday shots. They rounded the table, took their shots of tequila, and then Thea gave their drink orders to the waiter, and they all took their seats at the table.

All in all, Felicity felt that it was a perfect night. The food was delicious, and they had a nice, normal night where they just talked and laughed and had a good time. They had some of Felicity's favorite chocolate cake, the one, the one that Raisa had been baking for her birthday for as long as she could remember.

"Okay, listen." Tommy approached Felicity with a pleading look, and the birthday blonde in question sighed. She had a feeling that she was about to be talked into going out. "We had your quiet birthday dinner at home, and I admit, it was a lot of fun. But can we please go out to Verdant?"

"Why?" Felicity asked. Seeing the way that Tommy huffed in annoyance made Felicity smile. She was really only delaying the inevitable trip to Verdant just to get a rise out of Tommy. It was her birthday. She deserved to have a little fun.

"Because everyone should dance on their birthday!" Tommy exclaimed.

Laurel wrapped her arms around her fiancé's shoulders. "It's true, you know. We should go dancing. It'll be a lot of fun."

"You already know that I'm down to go out, Lis," Thea added. She was checking her reflection in one of the ornate mirrors lining the walls. "I'll even wear this dress to Verdant. I'm pretty sure Roy will like this dress."

Casting a mildly exasperated look towards his younger sister, Oliver only gave a moment to sigh and shake his head. Looking back towards Felicity, he said, "It's your birthday. We can do whatever you want to do."

Digg stretched in his chair. "I'm too old to be going out with all of you, but someone has to make sure that you don't get too stupid."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Digg," Tommy said cheerfully.

"Yeah, we can go out," Felicity finally relented. She grinned at her friends and stood up. "I'm just going to need a few minutes to get ready."

Felicity headed up to one of the guest suites and went into the bathroom, where Thea had stashed her makeup for the night. She touched up her mascara and lip gloss and ran her hand over her hair. She was just finishing up when there was a knock on the bathroom door.

"Hey." Oliver gave her one of those smiles that just ticked up the corners of his mouth, but it did reach his eyes. It was quickly becoming one of her favorite smiles from him. "Are you sure you really want to go out? I can hold them off if you don't want to go."

Felicity smiled at him and turned around to face him, leaning against the sink. "No, I want to go. It'll be fun."

"Yeah, I think it will be," Oliver admitted. He stepped further into the bathroom with her. "How's your birthday been going?"

"It's perfect," Felicity told him, voicing what she had been thinking all night. "This is the best birthday I've had in years." Her breath caught in her throat, and she looked down at the ground. "In five years, actually."

"Felicity…" The way Oliver said her name might have been her favorite. He tucked his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up towards his. "Why?"

Her heart thudded in her ears. Felicity managed a shaky smile for Oliver. "Isn't it obvious? It's because you're here."

Oliver's mouth dropped open and he went to step back, but Felicity wouldn't let him. She reached forward and caught him by the lapels of his suit jacket, keeping him in place. If he really wanted to, he could have easily broken her grasp and left the bathroom. Felicity took it as a good sign that he didn't.

"When we thought that you were… that you…" Felicity took a deep breath and forced herself to say the word. "When we thought you were dead, I used to wish every year that I would somehow get to see you or talk to you again. I always wanted to apologize for that year that we drifted apart, and it was… it was hard to live with that regret."

Felicity suddenly found herself engulfed in Oliver's arms. He held her tightly, pressing his face into her neck. She could feel his breath shudder through his body, and when he pulled back to look down at her, Felicity saw that his eyes were looking suspiciously misty.

He seemed to be at a loss for words, but that was okay. Felicity had no problem doing the talking. "So by some miracle that I'll never be able to understand, I got my wish. You're here. That makes this the best birthday ever."

An intense heartbeat of silence passed between them, and then suddenly, Oliver's mouth was on hers.

His fingers plunged into her hair, tilting her head back to the best angle so he could slip his tongue into her mouth. He backed her into the sink, pressing his body against hers. Felicity was thankful for the height that her heels provided, since it meant that she didn't need to strain on her tiptoes to reach his lips.

Not that it mattered much, since after a moment, Oliver's hands fell to her hips and he lifted her onto the counter. Felicity parted her thighs further, allowing Oliver to fit his body between them. He pressed even more tightly against her, the contact intimate. It made their kiss even more intense, and Felicity couldn't help the moan that escaped her.

Oliver pulled his lips from hers, only to press him to the throbbing pulse beating in her neck. His teeth scrapped against the delicate skin Felicity gasped and arched into his touch, begging for more.

Through the haze of passion and desire, there was one part of her brain that refused to shut up. As hard as Felicity tried, she couldn't turn that little voice in her head off. So when Oliver lifted his head to kiss her again, Felicity pressed her hands to his chest to hold them off.

"Oliver," she panted. "What the hell are we doing?"

Oliver brought one hand up, brushing his calloused fingers along the curve of her cheek. His eyes were dark and stormy, and filled with a passion so intense that Felicity would have given anything in that moment to know what he was thinking.

"I don't know," Oliver finally said. "But I just can't stay away from you."

And then he kissed her again.


This story definitely isn't over. It's been slow going, for sure, but I'm still very invested in writing this. Thanks for sticking with this story!