Three years later
"Did you hear?" Natasha said as she sat next to him. "Felicity and Oliver are engaged."
Steve looked up from the tablet and frowned at her. "Engaged? Since when?"
She looked at the digital clock and tilted her head. "I'd say about 12 hours ago. She sent me a text with lots of exclamation points and hearts. Obviously, she said yes."
He turned back to the tablet. "Obviously."
He had talked to Felicity throughout the beginning of her relationship with Oliver and had been there when they had their first argument when he had told her that they couldn't be together because of what they do. Eventually, he stepped back from her because he felt that their friendship could be misread by anyone who didn't know them. She understood, although they still talked to one another from time to time.
"You should see your face," Natasha said laughing. "You had your chance with Felicity, Steve. But you got in your own way."
"I know. And I'm happy for her though. Oliver's been in love with her for a long time. But…"
"It should be you," Natasha said sympathetically, patting his arm.
"I didn't say that," he said going back to his tablet again. "I was going to say that I hope that he doesn't make the same mistake that I did."
"Have you seen the way he looks at her? I hope he doesn't and besides, I'll get to be your plus one."
"Plus one? They probably haven't set a date yet."
"Not for the wedding, but the engagement party."
"Oh, I'm not going to that," he said pushing away from the table. "Give me a little credit, Natasha."
"She'll miss you," she said with a smile.
"She'll understand," he said as he stood up and walked to the kitchen before reaching for another cup of coffee. "Besides, wouldn't it be odd for her ex to be there while she was announcing her engagement to her new fiancé?"
Natasha shrugged. "Maybe just a little."
He chuckled. "Just a little." He pointed at the tablet. "Look at that map. Another lead on Buck." As she reached for the device, his phone vibrated in his pocket.
Recognizing Thea's number, he began to speak. "Hey, Thea. I heard congra—"
He stopped speaking as Thea told him why he was calling. A coldness washed over him and he looked at Natasha with alarm.
"Steve, what's wrong?"
"It's Felicity," he said taking a deep, shaky breath. He looked wildly around the room. Sam and Tony stopped their conversation to look at him strangely.
"I've gotta go," he said quickly. "She's been shot."
Natasha rushed into the hospital waiting room looking for Steve. She had spoken with Thea who had quickly told her that Oliver and Felicity had been attacked after his proposal. Oliver had been able to cover her from most of the gunfire but not all of it.
Tony had arranged for a private jet for Steve to get to Star City the night before and once she got the details about what happened, she was right behind him. Her heart hurt to think about what Felicity and her friends were going through.
She spotted him in a corner off to himself. He was staring off into space and she could see that his eyes were rimmed with red. The confidence he was usually exuded was gone, and she couldn't remember the last time he looked so vulnerable.
His eyes seemed to focus on her and he frowned. "Nat. Hey."
She sat down next to him and patted his leg. "How is she?"
He sniffed loudly and laid his head back. "Thea told me that when they brought her in, she had lost a lot of blood. That she almost didn't make it. Flat lined, she said."
"This is what I was always worried about, Nat. Felicity has always told me that she can take of herself and this was her choice but she almost died, Natasha," he said, his voice rough with roaring emotions. When he looked back at her, her heart broke. He was devastated and had no way to express it.
"Felicity's tough," she said. "Tougher than people think. How long has she been in surgery?"
"I don't know. I'm not family or anything so I'm staying out here. Thea has been updating me when she can."
"Okay," she said quietly. "How's Thea?"
"Terrified and worried. Oliver is beside himself and John is too."
"And, how are you?"
"I feel useless, Natasha. Felicity is lying in there and I'm out here. I need to do more," he spat out and she nodded. She understood the feeling that he was dealing with, the feel of everything spinning out of control, being rudderless, unable to grab onto anything, and all the while wanting to hit something to regain some sort of control.
"First, you're not useless, Steve. What could you have done different," she asked rhetorically. "The fact that you're here for Felicity is enough. There is nothing you can do right now, this is something that you can't punch your way through."
"Nat, what if she doesn't make it? I don't...what if she doesn't?" He asked so quietly, barely audible as if speaking the words aloud would make them true.
She grasped his hand and spoke evenly. "She may not but you can't have that in your head. Whatever happens, when she gets out of surgery, she's going to need you there, Steve."
"Thank you, Natasha, for coming," Steve said. "I didn't know what to do."
"You're welcome, Steve. Besides, who else is going to keep you from punching a wall?"
As they sat in silence Thea walked through the doors, her eyes searching for them, her face a mixture of relief and something else.
"She's out of surgery," she said, sitting down next to them. Natasha had grown to know Thea since she had become involved with Clint and liked her. Thea and Felicity were closer than most and the worry on her face made the young woman look years older.
"The doctors did all that they could to stabilize her but she was hit in her back as well. They've called another specialist in. I knew that you would want to know about her condition but I can't find Oliver anywhere. He left as soon as she was out of surgery and in recovery."
John stepped into the waiting room and motioned towards them. "Thea, they're moving her."
"I've gotta go. Thank you for coming," she said, standing up. "The both of you. Steve, when she wakes up, I'll call you, okay."
Steve waited as the coffee machine spit out its tepid brew. After begging off from going back to his hotel, he decided to camp out in the hospital cafeteria. It had been fourteen hours since Felicity had been in surgery and he couldn't get her out of his mind. He had stayed away from her out of respect but the moment Thea told him what happened, he dropped everything to be in Star City for her. No one questioned it because no matter what Felicity would always be family. Once the coffee was topped off, he pulled it from the machine and cursed under his breath as some spilled onto his shirt.
"Here you go," an older woman's voice said from behind him. He turned and took a napkin from her.
"This machine is temperamental," she said offering a kind smile.
"Thanks," he said dabbing at the small stain. "I don't think it likes me very much."
"It doesn't like anyone," she said chuckling. "It always puts too much in the cup and when you try to take it out, you always spill it. I think I have a coffee stain on all of my clothes from this damned machine."
Steve smiled despite himself. "I appreciate the napkin, Mrs.?"
"Lincoln. And you are?"
"Steve Rogers," he answered, noting the spark of recognition in the older woman's eyes.
"Are you visiting someone? Girlfriend?"
"Girlfriend? Um, no. My friend was injured last night and I'm just waiting for an update."
"Oh no!" She said as they walked towards an empty table. "Was it a car accident?"
He pulled out a chair for her and sat across from her. "Something like that. She was hurt badly. She got out of surgery about nine hours ago but she hasn't woken up yet. It's been 14 hours since I got the news."
"Well, Steve, you should be there waiting instead of here talking to me."
"She has her friends and her fiancé. I'm keeping my distance." He answered quickly, sipping his coffee, eager to push down the feeling of despair.
"But if she's your friend, you should be there unless..." Mrs. Lincoln's mouth formed a perfect O and she sipped her coffee.
"Yeah," Steve said as concern etched her face. "It's pathetic. Sulking in a cafeteria while the woman I lo-my friend is up there. I once told her that I would always be there for her and if I had been there last night..."
"She would be here instead of you worrying if you were going to wake up. You can't change what happened, Steve, as much as much as you want to. What's her name?"
"Felicity," he said quietly. "Felicity Smoak."
Mrs. Lincoln smiled at him. "The way you say her name reminds me of the way my husband says mine. Even after 30 years of marriage. Did you want to talk about it?"
"I don't want to bore you," he said as the woman chuckled.
"Please. You'd be doing me a favor. Charlie hasn't been discharged yet and I have nothing but time on my hands."
"Charlie's your husband?"
Mrs. Lincoln smiled. "Yes, he broke his leg in a motorcycle crash a few days ago. He's lucky it was the only thing that was broken."
"Oh no," Steve said suddenly worried about her.
She held up her hand. "Don't worry about it. Charlie does this at least once or twice a year. He's tried scuba diving and skydiving. He's already planning on taking me scuba diving in Cozumel next year."
"So, he's fine?"
"Perfectly but you're deflecting," she said with a smile.
He looked down at his hands. "My friend, Natasha, says that I do that all the time."
"Is she a friend like Felicity?" She asked as she took another sip of her coffee.
"Natasha? No. She says I'd bore her too much." He chuckled thinking of how much she had teased him through the years and how close they had gotten, thankful for the friendship that had blossomed through the years. "Felicity and I are different."
"Really," he said a smile. "We started out as friends. Really good friends. It's that same old story. Boy likes girl. Boy doesn't know the girl likes him. She has this funny way of talking when she gets nervous that made me smile. I loved spending time with her after work. We used to take walks and each time she would have different color dresses."
The memory of one of their last walks came to mind. It had been exceptionally warm throughout the day and she had worn a pale yellow dress when they walked through the National Mall. He was caught off guard when she smiled at him. It was that moment that he knew that he liked her. He had bought her an ice cream and they had spent the evening talking about her life before Star City.
"Different color dresses?"
"She loves color. She wore them often, but I was always caught off guard, every single time. She was...is beautiful. We became serious but I screwed it up."
"Why? She sounds lovely."
"I didn't want her to get hurt because of my job. I care about her and if something were to happen to her, I wouldn't know what I'd do."
She frowned at him. "And she was okay with that?"
He ran his hands through his hair, looking away sheepishly, not saying a word.
Mrs. Lincoln shook her head. "I'm guessing you didn't ask her what she thought. That probably wasn't a good idea, Steve."
"You wouldn't be the first to tell me that, Mrs. Lincoln. It happened four years ago and Natasha still gives me grief about it."
"And she should," she said matter-of-factly. "When Charlie and I hit a rough patch, he tried that same argument with me. I had to explain to him, forcefully, that I wasn't a doll that he could put on a shelf. He and I, we're a pair."
"What did he do for living?"
"We were partners at the SCPD. I know it's cliché but we fell in love. I ended up retiring when I was hurt on the job and he followed me soon after. He told me at the time that he was bored at work but I think that he just missed me."
Steve smiled at the woman. "I miss her."
"I can tell," she said as her phone buzzed. "It looks like Charlie is ready to go. I know Felicity is engaged and you're respecting that. However, sulking in a dark corner isn't going to make anyone feel better. Go upstairs and find out what's going on with your friend. She'll need you when she wakes up."
"She has people who care about her there..."
"That may be true but she doesn't have you. Go."
The constant beeping was the first thing to wake her up. She had been in and out of it for the better part of an hour and she tried to ignore the news that one of the bullets had struck her in the back. No one thought she heard them. She couldn't feel her legs.
"Hey, you're awake." A voice said and she immediately recognized it as Thea.
She struggled to open her eyes and tears immediately formed when she saw Thea looking back at her. "Hey honey," she said. "I'm glad you're back."
"I can't feel my legs," she said quietly and sniffed loudly. The drugs were slowly starting to wear off and the dull throb of pain began to course through her. She could feel her fingers and her arms. Though her brain was telling her legs to move, they didn't move.
Thea chewed her bottom lip. "I know," she said hesitantly. "More specialists are going to be coming soon, okay? Really soon. Do you remember what happened?"
She took a deep breath and coughed. Her throat was still sore from the breathing tube that was removed when she first opened her eyes.
"Oliver proposed at the beach. He and I were driving back to the loft. We were shot at." Immediately, she thought about Oliver. "What about Oliv-"
"He's fine, Felicity," Thea answered, squeezing her hands as she noticed Felicity's heart-rate rising. "He was hit in the arm but he's ok."
"Where is he?" She said quietly. Her brain kept trying to tell her legs to move but they wouldn't.
"I don't know. John's out looking for him and I've been calling him," Thea said, concern evident on her face. "He doesn't know you're awake yet."
Felicity's eyes began to well up. The emotion of the events from the night before began to course through her. She was scared and worried. Glancing at her hand, she noticed that her engagement ring was missing. She couldn't get out of her head that this changed everything.
Thea seemed to read her mind and shook her head. "Stop thinking that, Felicity. He loves you."
"But what if he changed his mind, Thea? I would understand."
Thea wiped at her own eyes and shook her head again. "He hasn't, Felicity. I promise."
"Then why isn't he here?" She asked, her voice trembling. Her mind flooded with thoughts of her father when he had left her and her mother. Cooper had lied and used her. Steve, while her friend again, had ended their relationship because he didn't trust her.
"I...I don't know." As if on cue, Thea's phone made a sound. Looking down at the phone, she nodded. "It's John. I'll call the nurse to come check on you." She squeezed her hand. "I'll be back."
Tears began to flow freely as Thea quickly stepped out of the room. When Oliver had proposed to her, she felt on top of the world. The feeling of elation and love that coursed through her was something she hadn't felt in so long. And it had only taken less than a minute for her life to change and those feelings to be torn from her.
She winced as she brought her hand up to wipe at her eyes furiously. It had been more than a year since she'd seen him but here he was.
"Steve," her voice wavered and she tried to calm herself. Tears pricked at her eyes again and she bit her bottom lip. It was dry and cracked to her tongue.
"Hey there, Smoak," he said as he came closer to the bed. He brushed the hair out of her eyes and she could see the despair in his.
"What are you doing here," she asked quietly, her voice still low because of the tenderness in her throat.
He sat down next to her bed and took her hand. "Thea told me what happened."
"But you didn't have to come. You have Avengery stuff to deal with..."
"Hey," he said cutting her off. "Tony can handle it, and besides, Smoak, I've got your six. Always." His voice full of confidence that she lacked since she had woken in her room.
Not trusting her voice, she squeezed his hand his hand.
"Did Thea tell you everything?" She asked wishing she didn't feel so lost. The pain in her side was starting to increase causing her to shift in the bed.
"Yeah, I hear congratulations are in order," he answered with a soft smile.
"Congratulations for what?" She shifted a little on the bed, as he reached for the cup of water on the table.
"Oliver proposed," he answered as he lifted the straw to her lips. The water, cooling her burning throat and she looked at him strangely.
"Yeah, he did." She looked at her fingers again and sighed.
"What's wrong?" He asked as he sat back and tilted his head. One of her hands were still clasped in his as his thumb soothingly rubbed across her knuckles.
She moved her fingers and tried to understand the whirl of emotions that were playing inside her. "What if he doesn't want to marry me anymore because of what's happened?"
"Because you're in the hospital?" Confusion clouding his words.
"You know what I mean, Steve," she said, her voice quieting even more.
"No, Felicity, I honestly don't."
"What if he doesn't want to marry because of what happened?" The words causing more pain than she'd wanted to admit.
"Thea told me that what's going on with your injury. The doctor said that there's a chance you could walk again."
"More of a chance that I won't," she huffed, her voice hollow as tears began to fall from her eyes. "I'm broken," her voice cracking as she spoke. "I'm broken, Steve."
"No, you aren't, Felicity," he said as he took her hands into his again. "Hey," he said, as he looked into her eyes, "you aren't. You are one of the strongest people that I know. It's bullshit to think that you, Felicity Smoak, could break because of this." The strength of his words was evident on his face. "And if Oliver doesn't want to marry you, I'll break his nose."
Despite her condition, she knew that Steve was trying to make her feel better. She smiled at him weakly but she knew the smile wasn't convincing. "You want to punch him most of the time anyway."
He looked relieved and smiled back at her. "Just a little bit, plus this time it'll be for a legitimate reason."
"Jerk," she muttered and he smiled at her. "Thank you for being here, Steve."
"I want to be anywhere else, Felicity." He stood and leaned down to kiss her forehead. "I need to let Natasha and Tony know what's going on - if that's okay with you?"
"It's fine. I want them to know and tell Tony he doesn't have to come out here."
"He's already threatened to send one of the suits here to keep an eye on you."
"Of course he did," she said, wincing. The pain she was trying to avoid shot through her.
Concern etched his face as he looked at her. "You know what, Nat and Tony can wait. I'll wait with you till the nurse gets here."
Steve let the door close softly behind him as Felicity fell asleep. After the nurse had come to check on her and to speak with her about the second surgery she needed, they had talked until he noticed that she had dozed off.
He had tried to keep his emotions at bay when the nurse had told Felicity that she would be in the hospital for the time being until they could assess the full scope of the damage to her back. She would need all the support she could get from her friends and family.
"Hello, Steve," a familiar voice said as he looked up from his phone.
"Hi, Mrs. Lincoln," he said seeing the older woman walking towards him pushing a man in a wheelchair with a brace on his leg who was staring at him with his mouth open in shock. "Did your friend wake up?"
He nodded and offered her a smile. "She did and thank you for making me check in with her."
She laughed and shook her head. "I didn't make you do anything. At best, I made a strong suggestion."
"You didn't tell me the man you were talking to was Captain America, Shelly," the man said as he looked up at her, eyes blown wide.
"Well, I told you I met a nice young man named Steve Rogers who was checking in with his friend who was hurt last night."
"But you didn't tell me it was him," he hissed and looked back at Steve. "Sorry."
He chuckled and shrugged. "It's fine. You must be Charlie. Mrs. Lincoln told me about your accident," he said while offering his hand to him.
"It's nice to meet you too, sir," he said as he shook it. "I grew up hearing stories about you from my grandfather. Inspired me to join the service once I was old enough."
Steve nodded. It was a story he had heard often since waking up but it didn't diminish the effect it had on him. "Thank you for your service, Charlie."
"How long are you in town?" Mrs. Lincoln asked as Steve noticed another familiar face rounding the corner and heading directly towards them. The look of extreme anger graced Oliver Queen's face as he recognized the other man.
"More than likely a few days if my friend needs me," he said as Oliver reached them.
"Hey," he said to him attempting to curb the tense situation before it blew up. "Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, this is-"
"Mayoral candidate Queen," Shelly said with a warm smile. Steve noticed that she seemed to insert herself between him and Oliver. "You have our full support in this election. It's an honor to meet you."
To his credit, Oliver dropped the angry look on his face long enough to smile tersely at Mrs. Lincoln and her husband. "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs.-?"
"Charlie and Shelly Lincoln. SCPD, both retired," Charlie chirped from the wheelchair seemingly noticing his wife's intention.
"It's nice to meet you both and thank you for your vote. I appreciate all the hard work the SCPD has done and continues to do to keep our city safe."
The Lincolns nodded to Oliver and looked at Steve. "If you're going to be in town for a few days," Charlie said. "You should come over for dinner. I make a great casserole."
"I'd like that," he said with a smile. As Mrs. Lincoln pulled out her phone, Steve could feel the anger radiating off Oliver. He rattled off his number to the couple and leaned over to hug Mrs. Lincoln.
"Play nice," she said under her breath as he stepped back from him. "I'll give you a call tomorrow maybe about dinner?"
"Sounds good," he answered, grateful for their presence. As Mrs. Lincoln and her husband rounded the corner, Oliver glared at him.
"What the hell are you doing here, Rogers?" He spat out as he stepped towards him.
Immediately, he felt his ire rise. "Thea reached out to me. She told me what happened and I came straight here."
"From New York? Don't you have Avenger things to deal with?" Oliver asked not bothering to mask the sarcasm in his voice.
"Not when she's involved," he answered not backing down from the gauntlet Oliver had thrown. "She needed someone here with her and Thea called me."
"We're here. Thea, John, and me. Felicity didn't need you." As Oliver said the words, Steve could see the despair and anger in his eyes but he couldn't let go of the hurt that he saw in Felicity's eyes when Oliver wasn't there.
Ignoring Mrs. Lincoln's warning, he narrowed his eyes at Oliver. "Do you know that she thinks you don't want to marry her because her ring is gone? Do you know that one of her first thoughts after waking up was that you didn't want to be with her anymore because of what's happened? Because you weren't by her side." The anger coursed through him as Oliver looked taken aback by his words. The way Felicity looked at him as she talked about how happy she had been when Oliver asked her to marry him had broken his heart. He'd promised Felicity that he would only break Oliver's nose if necessary but given the way he was feeling, he'd make an exception. His presence here had nothing to do with their past but everything to do with him being there for her like always.
"How can she feel that way?" Oliver asked as the bravado he had displayed when he first arrived disappeared.
"Because you weren't here," he said quietly, his anger still evident. "We both know that she's a strong person but this is different. I know that you're angry about what's happened. We all are, but the only thing that is important right now is that we are...all of us...are here for her. She is going to need our support and love."
"I know," he said as he ran his hands over his hair. "She almost died."
"I know. I was here too." He saw Oliver wince noticeably but he didn't care.
"Thank you," Oliver said while they both stood looking at each other and trying to understand the others point of view. Steve knew that Oliver loved Felicity. That much he was sure about and to Oliver's credit, he didn't seem to push him to explain his presence any further.
"You're welcome." Steve tilted his head and glanced towards Felicity's room. They were only a few steps away from the door but he could hear her begin to stir.
"She's waking up. I need to call Natasha," he said as he stepped back from Oliver. "I'll see you around, Oliver."
"So, you're still in love with the woman in the hospital but who is engaged to the mayor?" Shelly asked as she handed Steve a bottle of beer.
He nodded and took a long sip of the beer. "Only I'm not in love with her, not anymore."
Charlie and Shelly looked at each other with bemusement.
"You can't just turn that off, Steve. Even if you aren't together anymore, there will always be a part of you that will always love her," Charlie said as he drank from his own beer. "From what Shells told me, you left New York as soon as her friend told you what happened."
He frowned and shrugged. "She's my friend, of course, I did."
"Uh-huh," Charlie said. "You almost came to blows with one of Star City's mayoral candidates."
Embarrassed, he nodded. "I was out of line, Charlie. He was already upset about what's happened to Felicity so it probably didn't help that her ex was hanging around."
"Well, when her ex is Captain America, I guess I could understand it," Shelly said with a shrug. "But what I don't understand, Steve is why you haven't been back to visit since she's woken up."
"Shells," Charlie started as he shook his head. "We should probably stop asking him about it. He's not a suspect."
"What? It's a valid question. I don't expect him to declare his undying love for her but he has told us on numerous occasions that Felicity is his friend. So, why not go see her to see how she's doing?"
He leaned back in the chair and carded his fingers through his hair. Shelly's reasoning made sense. He could easily have been at Felicity's side everyday but after his discussion with Oliver, he wasn't sure he'd be welcomed.
"At least, Steve," Charlie said as he pushed back from the table, "see her before you leave."
"She can have visitors for a little while," the nurse said as she stepped out of Felicity's room. "If she starts to fall asleep again, just make sure you leave quietly."
He nodded as he walked into Felicity's room. Even though it had been more than a week since she was shot, she seemed to be in good spirits.
"Steve," she said warmly as he sat next to her bed. "I was starting to think that you weren't going to come back to see me."
His face grew warm as he took her hand. "I wasn't sure if I'd be welcomed. How are you?"
"Same as I was last night and the day before," she answered with a shrug. "I have another surgery this weekend and the doctor said that they will re-evaluate then."
She chewed her lip and looked at him. "Steve, why do you think you wouldn't be welcome here? Is it because you and Oliver argued the other day?"
He frowned and thought about what he could say. He had never lied to Felicity but he had no idea on how to explain his still simmering anger at Oliver without sounding like a jealous ex-boyfriend.
He smiled and shook his head. "We didn't argue but there was a heated discussion with plenty of chest beating and grunting."
She narrowed her eyes at him and smiled back. He had missed that smile. "Chest beating and grunting, huh?"
"Yeah, Oliver and I came to an understanding and everything is fine." Everything wasn't fine but he couldn't tell her why it wasn't.
"Uh-huh. Oliver won't tell me what happened and now neither will you. You know I'll find out eventually."
"I'd expect nothing less." He noticed a shiny glint on her left hand. "I see the engagement is back on."
She smiled and nodded. "Yes, Oliver and I talked and worked it out. That day I was really stressed and it was silly to think that he didn't want to marry me." As Steve watched, he noticed that the smile didn't reach her eyes. The anger he was trying to keep at bay began to surface again. The look on Felicity's face that morning, when she'd woken, had bothered him more than he wanted to admit.
"I wish you wouldn't do that, Felicity," he said and as soon as the words left him, he wanted to take them back.
"Do what?" She asked her eyes immediately narrowing. He was on a thin edge and he could hear Shelly Lincoln telling him to tread carefully.
"I wish you wouldn't excuse Oliver for not being here when you woke up. It's unacceptable." He released the breath he had been holding and sat back in the chair. "I don't know how you can let him get away with it. Since he does love you, why wasn't he here with you? Making sure that you were okay?"
Felicity winced at his words and the guilt started to overwhelm him. He had held back his thoughts on Oliver since the morning she had woken up but every time he thought about the sadness in her eyes when she realized that he wasn't there, it had broken him more.
"Oliver's complicated, Steve. You know that. You've known that since you and I-"
"Since we were together, Felicity. I know but that doesn't excuse-" His voice began to rise and he quickly recovered.
"Excuse him from what, Steve? He was here when it counted and so were you."
He wanted to tell her. Tell her that he was still in love with her and that if she let him, he'd never leave her side again. Instead, he squeezed her hand. "I know, Felicity, but he should've never left. I just don't want you alone. Not anymore."
"I won't be, Steve. My mom's staying in town. Oliver, Thea and John will be right here too."
"I know," he said quietly. "I just hated seeing you like that." When he got the call about Felicity, he had dropped everything and rushed to be there for her and he would do it again.
As tears began to fall from her eyes, he resisted the urge to brush them from her face. It was gesture that he would've done without hesitation before and now it would've felt like he was overstepping his boundaries. He and Felicity were done, by his own actions. He grabbed a Kleenex from her table and handed it to her.
"Thanks," she sniffed and looked up at him. "I know but I promise that I'll be fine, Steve."
"If you're sure..." he trailed off and looked at his hands. All she had to do was to ask him but he knew that she wouldn't. Oliver would be here and that had to be enough.
"I am," she said. "Promise me that you'll think about coming to the engagement party whenever it happens."
"I can't, Felicity," he said as he stood up. There were a lot of things he would do for her but going to her engagement party was not high on the list.
"I know. It's kind of ridiculous for me to even ask." She smiled at him and for a split moment, he could see the playfulness that he had grown to love when they were together.
"Just a little bit," he said as he stood from the chair. "If you need anything, Felicity..."
"You're the first one on my list," she said and gave him another smile.
3 months later
"Are you sure you don't want to go to the engagement party?" Natasha asked as she sat across from Steve. He smiled and shook his head. "No, give me a little credit, Nat. Last time I saw Oliver Queen, I almost punched him in the face."
"He was being an asshole"' she scoffed. Steve chuckled at her comment. "You were there for Felicity and he was-"
"Upset about what happened," he finished for her. After their confrontation by Felicity's hospital room, he had made himself scarce. His anger at Oliver had surprised him and forced him to come to an understanding about his feelings for Felicity. "She'll understand," he said as he thought back to their conversation they'd had before he'd left Star City. While he wanted to celebrate her engagement, and he should since they were friends-it would've been too painful for him to see her.
"Maybe, but will you at least do a quick message for her? Everyone else has and since you won't be there, it'll be something nice for her to see." She slid the thumb drive towards him. "If you need step-by- step instructions, I'm sure there's YouTube video."
He took the drive from her and rolled his eyes. "I think I can figure it out." He knew what he wanted to say to her and it was better if he was alone when he did it.
Natasha smiled. "Good. There is enough space on it for whatever you want to say. The jet leaves in a few hours and I promise not to let Tony see it."
"Tony's still in Star City?"
"Yeah, still annoying the hell out Oliver and promising to convince Felicity to move to New York."
He chuckled and shook his head. Once he had gotten back to New York and told the team what happened to Felicity, Tony had taken it upon himself to go to Star City. He had tried to tell them that it was just to make sure that HYDRA wasn't tracking her but he knew Tony had been as worried about Felicity as he had been.
"Who's going to the party besides you and Tony?"
"Clint and Sam. Wanda is staying here with Vision and Thor is off world."
"Good. She's going to love seeing you guys," he said. "Once I go over this report about Buck, I'll get something done for the video."
"She'd love to see you too, Steve." Steve shrugged and turned back to the report. "Felicity will understand."
As Natasha left him to review the report, his eyes fell on the thumb drive. He didn't know exactly what he could say to Felicity that wouldn't sound desperate but Natasha had given him enough time to figure it out.
Felicity was exhausted. Her mother had come back to town to help with the engagement party and it had gone off without a hitch for the most part. They had a discussion about the amount of glitter in the invitation especially after most of it had gotten all over Oliver when he opened one by mistake. Her mother was in love with the idea of love and the idea that her daughter was going to marry Oliver was icing on the cake.
She smiled as she caught Clint and Thea in a corner talking intensely. Clint casually laid his hand on Thea's lower back and when Thea didn't swat it away, she knew Oliver wasn't within striking distance.
"He should be more discreet. Oliver's going to kill him," a familiar voice said from behind her.
She turned her chair to face Natasha and grinned broadly. "When have we ever known Clint to be discreet?"
"Never," Natasha answered smiling back at her. "Hi, Felicity." She leaned down to hug her. "Congratulations on the engagement."
"Thanks, Natasha. I'm glad you guys could make it." She hadn't been able to get rid of Tony since her release but seeing Sam, Clint, and Natasha had brought an unexpected lightness to her mood.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world. Seeing Tony terrorize Oliver is worth it."
Felicity chuckled. "I know Tony means well but I'm sure Oliver would rather Tony stop telling him he's going to offer me a job at S.I. to be your support for Avenger business."
"Tony likes to hide behind the Stark name when he doesn't want to appear like he gives a damn but I know that he was worried about you like the rest of us. Probably more so." As Natasha spoke, Felicity thought back to the conversation she had with Tony once she was released. He was angry but determined to help her walk again. He had been quick to say that he wasn't trying to fix her but he wanted to help.
"I know," she said as she saw Tony talking to Oliver who seemed to look through him and directly at her. "You guys know I'm fine."
"I know, Felicity but that doesn't stop us from worrying. Especially those who aren't here."
At the mention of those not there, Felicity felt deflated. She had known that Steve wouldn't come but a tiny part of her wanted to see her friend in person again.
Trying to fight off the disappointment in her voice, she smiled at Natasha. "How is he?"
"He's Steve, you know. Still worried about Bucky and HYDRA."
"Yeah. I heard he's been dating." She started to move towards Oliver. She heard Natasha scoff and looked up at her.
"It didn't last. He said that the reporter wanted more than what he was willing to give. I didn't like her," Natasha said as Tony spotted them and began to walk over.
"You don't like anyone, Nat," Felicity said with a knowing grin. "You didn't like me at first."
Natasha placed a hand over her heart. "I liked you, Felicity."
"Sure, you did," Felicity chuckled as Tony reached them.
"Well," Natasha said with a wink. "I didn't like you until boosted my voltage in my weapons."
"See," she said with a laugh. "Hey, Tony."
"Smoaks," Tony said. "Do you mind if I steal you away from your charming company?"
Felicity looked over at Natasha who simply shrugged. "It's fine but I wanted to give you this." She handed her a small thumb drive. "It's just something your other family put together for your engagement. Watch it later."
Felicity took the drive and placed it in her pocket. "Thanks, Nat."
Natasha leaned down to hug her and she was caught off guard by the emotion behind it. She had known Natasha for years and she could count on one hand how many times she saw her emotional. "Congratulations, Felicity, on everything."
As she stepped back from her, Natasha nodded towards Tony. "Try not to make it about you, Stark."
"I'll try my best," Tony said as they began to make their way towards the loft balcony.
Once they reached it, Felicity glanced at Tony who seemed for once to be at loss of words.
"What's going on, Tony? Did Oliver finally get tired of you?"
Tony chuckled softly and offered her a wry smile. "I'm a prince."
"Sure, you are," she said responding with a smile to match his. "What's going on?"
Tony took a small battery out of his suit pocket. "Do you remember this?"
Felicity peered at the battery and she nodded in recognition. "Yes, it's the power source I was working on Palmer Technologies before I was-"
"Yeah. Well, with my brilliant mind, some Stark tech and your friend Curtis, we think it could help you walk again."
Her heart began to pound in her chest. From what the doctors had explained she could possibly walk again but the chances of it were slim to none. The specialists that Oliver had called in had told her the same thing. The idea that she could walk again had left her mind months ago.
"But the doctors told me that my chances were low," Felicity said quietly.
"Maybe, but I did build a band of iron suits," Tony said as he handed the small device to her. "I hope it helps, Felicity."
Tears formed immediately in her eyes and she gave him a watery smile. "Thanks, Tony."
Tony smiled back at her genuinely. "Your family, Smoaks, even if you're marrying a caveman. It's the least I could do."
Felicity laughed and shook her head. "He's not that bad."
"Maybe not but he needs to work on enunciating his words. Grunting only works if Banner is hulked out."
Felicity swatted at Tony's hand as he led her from the balcony.
Felicity pushed herself up onto the bed and reached for her tablet. Oliver was in the shower trying to get the glitter from party tables out of his hair. She palmed the thumb drive Natasha has given her. When she tried to watch it with Oliver, he had begged off explaining that Natasha said it was a gift from them and he had had enough of the Avengers for a while.
As the video started, she laughed as she listened to the messages from her friends. Wanda had said a phrase in Sokovian that she hadn't understood but Wanda quickly said that she wishes her good fortune. Clint said that he was still a better archer than Oliver but if she and had to marry anyone, he was glad (begrudgingly) that it was him. Thor had shocked the camera with his hammer but jovially wished them good luck. Her smile only grew when she saw the messages from Sam, Tony, and Natasha. As she got to the last portion of the video, her breath caught when Steve's face filled the screen. They had been over years ago but she'd always appreciate how he commanded attention.
"Felicity," he started. "When Natasha asked to me to add something to this video, I hesitated because what could I say that probably hasn't already been said but I was always at a loss for words around you. So, I'll say this, I am so proud of you. After you were shot, I was rudderless. I didn't know what to do or how to help. I wanted to be strong for you but you didn't need me as much as I needed you. Throughout everything, your strength has been a marvel and your courage has been something that leaves me in awe every time I think about it. Hopefully, by now, Tony's given you your gift. I hope it works and you kick the next step in the journey in its ass. Congratulations to you and Oliver, Felicity. Love yo-"
Tears streamed down her face as the message trailed off. She knew that he wouldn't come to the party but even still, his words meant a lot. He would always mean a lot to her.