Hey guys, thank you so much for your reviews and enthusiasm last chapter. As I mentioned before, there will be five chapters total featuring a new POV and each will take place during a particular episode of Arrow in Season 2. You can figure out the timeline by the small hints within the text. ;) I really hope you like this next one. I loved writing it, and special thanks to SassySnow1988 for reading over the first draft and giving me helpful guidance. Enjoy!
Chapter 2: The Bitter Pill
Tonight the star of his fantasies was going to say yes. Mark was sure of it. After weeks of inane chitchat and shameless flirting in the elevator at the office—not to mention the cafeteria lunch line and the Starbucks down the street from Queen Consolidated where they both worked—he had Felicity Smoak exactly where he wanted her. The former IT girl turned assistant to the CEO liked to play hard to get with her "nerdy girl" persona, but he knew better. Felicity's black-rimmed glasses and sleek ponytail might be her obvious attempt to allude to her intelligence, but her always perfectly painted bright pink lips, short skirts, and sexy heels were evidence of a tomcat waiting to be let out of her cage—and Mark was just the guy to help her find that release.
This very afternoon he'd overheard Felicity on the phone talking about how she'd be at Verdant later tonight. Verdant was a nightclub formerly owned by her boss, Oliver Queen. Before taking over his family's company as CEO, Queen had opened the club in The Glades and it'd quickly become one of the hottest spots in the city. It was located in one of the few areas not destroyed by the Undertaking, which had been orchestrated by the now deceased Malcolm Merlyn and Queen's currently incarcerated mother, Moira Queen.
In spite of the bad PR, Mark heard that the club was doing better than ever since Queen's younger sister had taken it over in his absence. Apparently, hiring the right DJs and serving copious amounts of overpriced yet top-quality alcohol was enough to keep it in business. Mark had never really cared to check it out—he'd been dead set against giving any of his money to a spoiled, rich little prick like Oliver Queen—but tonight was an exception if Felicity would be there. Working for Queen probably got her through the door free of charge. Nevertheless, it would be the perfect opportunity to shed the confines of the office and let loose.
Mark stood at the bar with two of his friends nursing his second beer. It was a new kind of brew with an unusually high alcohol content, so he was already feeling a pretty good buzz. He joked with the guys and flirted with a few women here and there in between searching for Felicity. Checking his phone, he saw that it was almost ten o'clock.
"Dude, I can't believe you let that redhead walk away. She was hot," his friend Jordan shouted over the thumping techno music.
His other friend, Kyle, nodded in agreement. "What's up with you tonight?"
"I'm waiting for someone," Mark replied.
"Waiting for who? Are you meeting a date here tonight? Is she bringing friends?" Jordan asked, nudging Kyle who looked just as excited by the prospect.
"It's not a date exactly. It's a girl from work who said she'd be here."
"Work?" Kyle retorted, sounding utterly disappointed.
"Is she hot?"
Mark rolled his eyes. "Is that all you care about?"
"Yes," he replied, unashamed. "So is she?"
"Yeah, she's hot." He scanned the crowd again.
"What does she look like?"
"Short and blonde with a great ass. She used to work in IT, but she got promoted to assistant to the CEO. Working for Queen, she's got her hands in every part of the company."
"If she works for Oliver Queen, I'd assume he's already had his hands on every part of her," Kyle joked. "How else does a hot IT girl get a job like that?"
That's what most people at QC had been speculating, but Mark didn't tell his friend that. "She's really smart. She helped get rid of the bugs in our new CRM system last year." No one else in the IT department had been able to figure out what was wrong until Felicity took it over.
"So she's a nerd," Jordan assumed.
"A hot nerd," he corrected. "I doubt she's getting any from Queen, though. She's wound up way too tight."
Felicity was constantly in a state of upheaval in the office. Her movements were just as quick as her babbles. Sometimes she'd wave her hands around while going off on random tangents in the middle of a conversation before rounding back to the main point. Lucky for Felicity, it came off kind of cute—when experienced in small doses, at least.
Kyle elbowed him and wriggled his eyebrows. "Are you looking for a good lay or a promotion?"
Mark smirked. "Why can't it be both?"
He really did like Felicity. That nervous energy that turned some other people off actually enticed him—especially when a few of her casual comments actually came out sounding quite dirty. Once, when they'd been waiting for their drinks at Starbucks, Felicity mentioned that she liked her lattes hot and creamy with an extra squirt. Mark had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing out loud at that one. It also gave him a few ideas of his own.
Besides the attraction and suggestive comments, it couldn't hurt to get on Felicity's good side. As executive assistant to the CEO, that meant she knew lots of higher-ups in the company. Mark had made sales manager of his department last year, and he hoped to land the vice president position when his boss eventually retired. Showing Felicity Smoak a good time might come in handy for his future career. A good word from her with Queen or HR could go a long way for him.
"I'm bored just standing here," Jordan complained. "I need a pick-me-up." He reached into his pocket and glanced from side to side, making sure no one was watching. Then he popped a small white pill into his mouth and guzzled it down with beer.
"What's that?" Kyle demanded. "Is your dealer pushing Vertigo again? You holding out on us, man?"
Mark's ears perked up at the mention of Vertigo. He and his friends used to do it every weekend when they went out. There was nothing quite like the high it gave. The worst day of his life could turn into the best one ever in a matter of minutes. His senses became heightened and made his body pulsate with pure, euphoric ecstasy. The mind was suddenly free, and all was right in the world.
"I told you Vertigo ended when that crazy Hood guy put the Count in a psych ward. But this is the second best thing."
"You got any more on you?" Kyle questioned.
"Of course I do. You know I always bring party favors." Jordan reached into his pocket again and discreetly handed them the pills.
Mark hesitated despite the overwhelming craving that roared to life within him. It had been a while since he used, and he remembered how awful it was coming down off of Vertigo. His body ached and shook while his mind thought relentlessly about how to get more before the total supply was gone. Even though this drug was a lesser version, it could just as well set him off on another drug-induced spiral—and that guy wasn't always fun to be around. Instead, Mark pocketed the pill.
Jordan frowned. "You're not going to take it?"
"Not right now." He needed to keep a clear head with Felicity, and that wouldn't be possible if he was both buzzed and high.
Tuning out his increasingly rambunctious friends, Mark meticulously scanned the crowd until finally he saw her. Felicity—still wearing the bright yellow sleeveless top, pink skirt, and heels she had on that day at the office—weaved through the crowd. Mark immediately stood at attention and ran a hand through his hair, which he'd recently decided to grow out. The ladies loved a man with a good head of hair; he'd bet his salary that Felicity was the type to yank on it while in the throes of passion.
Mark sprang forward, calling her name. "Felicity! Felicity!" He frowned when she bypassed the bar, clutching her purse and weaving between the rowdy club goers, and walked toward a corridor off to the left. He hastened to catch her. "Felicity!"
The blonde paused and glanced over her shoulder. "Mark?"
Time to turn on the charm. "Hey, gorgeous. Fancy running into you here."
"Quite the coincidence." Instead of the smile he expected, she seemed distracted. Felicity peeked over at the corridor once more.
"So, can I buy you a drink?" he offered, hoping to capture her full attention.
Her eyes widened in surprise behind her glasses. "Oh, um…" Felicity hesitated. "Thanks, but I probably shouldn't."
"Aw, come on. We're off the clock. It's the perfect time to loosen up and relax. Maybe let that ponytail down," Mark coaxed, nudging her playfully.
She blushed and bit her bottom lip, drawing his eyes to her luscious mouth. With a little more persuading, he had no doubt that mouth would be on multiple parts of his body later tonight. He leaned in, smiling, about to tug on her ponytail when a shadow loomed next to them.
"Felicity, what's going on here?" a deep, gruff voice demanded.
Felicity jumped slightly and immediately took a step back from him.
Mark recognized that voice despite its sterner than usual tone. "Mr. Queen," he greeted, clearing the lump in his throat. "I didn't see you there."
Queen barely returned the greeting. His razor-sharp eyes focused in on him before shifting to Felicity with a questioning stare. Mark straightened to match his height and puffed out his chest. Queen wasn't the only one who knew how to make himself appear larger than life—although the massive man who stood behind him looked bigger than them both combined. He must be Queen's bodyguard if his equally intimidating gaze was any indication.
"Oli—Mr. Queen, this is Mark Thompson," Felicity introduced. "He works in Sales at QC. We just happened to bump into each other."
She bit her lip again, but Mark's ogling didn't last long. Queen's eyes narrowed, as did his bodyguard's.
Keeping his voice casual, Mark said, "Felicity and I are always running into each other at the coffee shop or in the cafeteria. She's also bailed me out of a few IT catastrophes in the past. I thought I'd show my appreciation by offering to get her a drink since she's off the clock—or I assumed she was."
Oliver raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything.
Felicity quickly jumped in. "That's really sweet, Mark, but I actually have to accompany Oli—Mr. Queen into the office to, uh, help him with, um, the inventory system. Yeah, the inventory system has been a little wonky lately."
"Oh, I thought the club belonged to the youngest Queen now," he casually remarked—her slip-ups in addressing her boss so informally not going unnoticed.
The fidgety blonde opened her mouth to answer, but her boss beat her to it.
"It does. But like you said, Felicity is good at solving IT issues. I told my sister that Felicity could help."
"That's very generous of you offering to help after hours," Mark said to Felicity. It took a great effort not to roll his eyes and let the disdain seep into his voice. It was so typical of a self-centered, privileged asshole like Queen to take advantage of his assistant. He must think nothing of it considering everything in life had been handed to him since birth. Meanwhile, people like himself and Felicity had to bust their asses for everything they got.
"Yes, well, my job is very important to me—which I should probably get started on." Her gaze briefly flicked toward her boss again.
Something seemed off, Mark thought. Felicity was acting more high-strung than usual, and he found her statement about valuing her job odd. Why would Queen doubt her professionalism? Unless this was about more than her secretarial duties. Was Felicity worried that his mentioning their acquaintance would upset Queen? Was her job tied to pleasing him in other ways outside of the office? She seemed to care an awful lot about his opinion.
Hiding his annoyance and disappointment, Mark said, "Sure. But if you finish early, come find me. My offer stands."
Queen's head tilted when Felicity replied, "I'll keep that in mind."
An intense, silent look passed between the pair. Mark studied them, unnerved by what appeared to be an entire conversation happening without a word spoken. He shifted uncomfortably, feeling like an outsider—and wondering for the first time if there really was something to the affair rumors he'd heard floating around the office.
Finally, their staring contest broke.
"I'll see you later, Mark," Felicity said and dutifully followed Queen toward the cordoned off corridor.
Mark forced a smile, which quickly turned into a glare at the turn of Queen's back. Who asked their assistant to come to a club late at night? And why would Queen even need to be here with her? Surely, he had more pressing matters as CEO to attend to. Where was his sister, who actually managed the club now? And what was with those cryptic looks?
Mark returned to the bar to find his friends—now fully immersed in their high—laughing and guzzling down another round of drinks.
"Was that the chick?" Jordan questioned. "You were right about her ass. She always wear skirts like that in the office? You're lucky you can concentrate at all, man."
"Was she here with Queen? Told you you got some competition," Kyle ribbed. "When he wasn't glaring daggers at you, he looked like he was going to spread her across the bar and fuck her right there just to stake his claim." He threw his head back and chuckled at his own ridiculous joke.
Mark balled his fists at his sides, resisting the urge to clobber his friends. After all his talk of getting the girl, he'd been completely humiliated in front of them. Not to mention that Kyle was probably right, and Queen could be spreading Felicity out on a flat surface as they speak and giving her the release Mark had been fantasizing about and working towards for weeks. Maybe it was too risky for them to fool around in the office—especially with all their walls made of glass—so they came to Verdant instead.
"Fuck it," he muttered and reached for the pill in his pocket. This night wasn't going at all like he'd planned, and he refused to let it be a total waste. He'd let the drug do its work to lift his mood, and maybe he could find that redhead from earlier. At least she'd seemed appreciative of what he had to offer. There was no way he was going home alone tonight.
This was the best night ever, Mark thought as he headed to the bar for another drink. He'd been on the top of the world since he'd popped that pill. His head felt like it was floating, and his senses sharpened. Colors became incredibly vivid, and the vibrations of the music pulsated through his body in time with his heartbeat. His mood had instantly lifted and euphoria took over. It wasn't quite as intense as the high he got from Vertigo, but it served its purpose well enough.
After doing a round of shots with his friends, they found a group of women to dance with. The lights from the strobe and disco ball swirled together in vibrant streaks over the crowd. At some point, Mark lost his jacket and rolled up his sleeves to stave off the heat from the gyrating bodies around him. Another beer was just what he needed to quench his thirst. He'd have to throw out his gum, too; he'd been chomping on it to keep from clenching his teeth as the drug did its work.
He'd chugged about half of his drink when he heard a voice behind him. Turning, he came face to face with Felicity and grinned. "Hey, you."
She smiled tentatively. "Hey, I'm glad you're still here."
"I told you I would be."
"Sorry if I was a little abrupt earlier. I didn't expect to see you here, and I really had to get started on that inventory system. I didn't mean for things to get so awkward."
He took another swig of beer. "Yeah, what was up with Queen? He seemed tense."
"Oh, he's just got a lot on his mind." Felicity waved her hand in dismissal. "You know, with being CEO and all."
"Sure. I mean, it must be difficult juggling club appearances with investor parties, right?" Mark sneered. "At least here he can pretend to be fashionably late."
The other night his boss had attended a cocktail party at the Queen mansion. It was set up to attract new investors to the company. According to his boss, Queen had showed up over an hour late and the VP, Isabel Rochev, had barely disguised her annoyance the remainder of the evening. Mark, however, wasn't surprised to hear that since Queen was notorious for his tardiness.
"If Oliver is late, it's usually for a good reason. He does more for the company and this city than anyone will ever know," she defended, her chin raised and eyes blazing.
Stunned by her firm retort—and not wanting to ruin the vibe between them—he quickly backtracked. "Right. I was just joking. How about we have that drink now?"
Mark gave her the once-over, not even bothering to be discrete about it. Damn, she was hot. They'd played enough of this cat and mouse game. It was time to help her forget about Queen and make his move.
Felicity eyed the beer in his hand. "Thanks, but I really shouldn't. I managed to squeeze in a short break, but I still have some work to finish up."
He frowned. "You sure? Not even one beer?" She was wound tighter than he thought. What would it take to loosen this chick up? Maybe they should skip the beer and go right to shots. Hell, maybe Jordan had an extra pill for her. That ought to do the trick.
"I'll have to take a rain check," Felicity replied, although she didn't sound that disappointed.
"How are you still on the clock right now?" he shouted over the music and jumble of voices talking around them. His ears had started ringing a bit, but he ignored it. All of his focus was on Felicity.
"Well,"—she cleared her throat and shuffled her feet—"the inventory system needs a lot of work."
"Where's Queen?" The jerk had some nerve taking off and leaving his assistant to clean up his mess.
"He's around." Felicity didn't offer anything more. Instead, she just stared at him.
Mark's gaze was just as intense. He found it difficult to look away from her colored lips. They were even more luscious than he'd thought. He'd rather be chewing on that plump bottom one than the gum in his mouth. He tugged at the collar of his shirt; it must be a hundred degrees in the club. Hadn't Queen ever heard of AC?
"Are you okay?" she blurted out.
"I'm great. Why?"
"You just seem…how many beers have you had?"
That was an odd thing to ask. "A few. You should really have one. It might loosen you up," Mark suggested. "Nobody likes a workaholic."
Felicity reared back as a crinkle formed between her brows. "Excuse me?"
"You should kick back and have some fun for a change. You're Queen's assistant, not his slave."
Her eyes narrowed at that. "I'm nobody's slave, and I work a lot because I happen to love my job. The work I do is important."
"Like getting Queen's coffee and fixing his system so he orders enough liquor to get patrons like me drunk?" he challenged. Couldn't she see that Queen was using her and taking advantage? He thought Felicity was supposed to be smart.
"I refuse to get him coffee—" she retorted but then stopped herself. Despite her abrupt silence, her contorted expression communicated her emotions loud and clear. She was seething. "You know what, you're drunk and I really don't have time for this. Enjoy the rest of your night."
Mark watched, flabbergasted, as Felicity whipped around and strode away from him. Her hips swayed tantalizingly from side to side with her quick gait. She headed back toward the corridor that had been roped off. Cursing under his breath, Mark realized that he'd seriously messed up with her. Not wanting to strike out twice in one night, he sprinted after her.
"Felicity!" he called to her. "Felicity!"
"Mark, now is not a good time," she called over her shoulder.
The corridor was much quieter than the main club area, so her voice was magnified. She didn't sound happy that he'd followed her, which was why he needed to fix this. Otherwise, all his attempts to get on her good side would be for nothing. He reached for her arm and turned her to face him. He couldn't help noticing how soft her skin felt, though he didn't get to enjoy the sensation for long. Felicity quickly yanked her arm out of his grip.
"Look, I'm sorry," he rushed out. "I didn't mean to offend you. The truth is I came to Verdant tonight because I heard you might be here. I like you, and I wanted to spend some time with you outside of the office."
"You like me?" she replied, clearly shocked.
"Yes," he emphasized. "I like you a lot, and I don't know…I guess when I saw you with Queen, I was disappointed. I was hoping to get you all to myself tonight."
"Oh," Felicity murmured.
Mark ran his finger down her arm and stepped forward. She was so close that he could smell the sweet scent of her floral perfume and admire the moist suppleness of her parted lips. Her pretty blue eyes widened, and he swore he saw the same desire he felt reflecting back at him. Without thinking, he leaned in. Finally, he would get a taste.
He was about to rock her entire world. He'd have her up against the nearest wall, kissing the ever-loving hell out of her in seconds. Maybe they didn't have to go all the way back to her apartment afterward. Maybe they could sneak into one of these other rooms, and he could finally hike up that skirt and—at the last second, Felicity turned her head and his lips grazed her cheek instead.
"Mark," she said, "I appreciate the sentiment, but maybe we should talk about this when you're sober." Her phone dinged. Before checking the message, she put some space between them. "I really need to get back to work. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
For the third time tonight, Mark stared at her retreating back and an incredulous rage surged within him. Just because he wasn't sober didn't mean that he didn't know what he was doing. Did she think she was better than him? So what if he wanted to have a little fun? He worked damn hard day in and day out without much recognition from anyone in his department. He deserved to have a night to let loose without some prissy little nerd making him feel ashamed.
"Are you fucking serious right now?" he retorted.
Felicity paused. "What?"
"I tell you that I like you and try to kiss you, and you're seriously gonna walk away? Was all that flirting we've been doing these past weeks bullshit?"
The petite blonde looked at him in alarm. "Mark, I—"
"You think you're better than me just because you're Queen's assistant? You're nothing more than a glorified secretary who probably only got that job on your back or your knees. There isn't anything wrong with the inventory system, is there? You're sleeping with him," Mark accused, cutting off her attempt to speak. "I thought you were supposed to be smart, but you're just like every other office slut doing the boss to get ahead."
"I'm not sleeping with anyone to get ahead. How dare you—"
"You're a fucking tease." He barreled toward her. "That's what you are."
"Mark, calm down. Stop it! Get your hands off me!" she exclaimed and tried to twist out of his grasp. Mark yanked her against him. This was Felicity's own fault. She'd gotten him all riled up; now it was time to follow through on all those unspoken promises. "Mark, let me go! You're hurting me!"
"I know you want me. Stop trying to act so innocent." He swooped down to kiss her but instead of finally getting a taste of those succulent lips, he felt a sharp, shooting pain between his legs.
Mark gasped and hunched to shield his groin, but it was too late. Felicity had already kneed him right in the family jewels. With his senses heightened, it actually felt like she'd removed them completely. Is this what death felt like?
"You bitch," he sputtered. The stream of curses that followed were interrupted when the heel of her palm connected with his nose. The explosion of pain blinded him. He felt blood gush out his nose as his eyes watered.
"Go home, Mark, and sleep it off," Felicity ordered. He couldn't see her walking away, but he heard the click of her heels down the corridor. A couple of beeps sounded, and then a door opened and slammed shut.
Mark sunk against the wall, taking a minute to get his bearings. His head swirled and body ached. What the hell had just happened? And how was he going to explain to his friends that he'd been beat up by a girl?
If it weren't for an important meeting with his boss today, Mark would've called in sick. In fact, he should've. The withdrawal he'd experienced last night had been rather severe, probably because he hadn't used in a while. Plagued by weird dreams, he could barely get any sleep. One minute he had the chills and the next he was covered in sweat.
By the time he'd finally drifted off, it seemed like moments later his alarm clock was blaring. Mark's head pounded, and his stomach churned. He'd foregone breakfast—unsure if he could keep anything down—and grabbed a large coffee on the way to work. Thankfully, Felicity wasn't in line this morning at Starbucks. Mark didn't remember much of what happened last night beyond her arriving to Verdant with Queen, but he knew it wasn't good.
He vaguely remembered confessing that he liked her, them almost kissing, and possibly her hitting him? The rest was a blur. He didn't even recall how he'd gotten home. Waking up with a busted nose, two black eyes, and bruises his legs, however, filled in some of the blanks. His balls, much to his dismay, felt like they'd been used as a punching bag. Whatever happened, he was sure it hadn't warranted Felicity lashing out at him to that extent. All that pent-up, quirky energy she had clearly masked her aggressive tendencies—and to think he'd actually wanted to get involved with that psycho. It always was the blondes that proved to be unstable. That crazy bitch.
Checking his watch, Mark saw he only had ten minutes before his meeting this morning. He was already running late, and silently cursed when he'd missed the first elevator. It'd been completely full as other last-minute stragglers rushed to make it in on time. A loud ding signaled the second elevator opening, and he finally managed to squeeze in. Just before the doors closed, a hand shot out to halt it. The groans from impatient employees immediately ceased when they saw that it was Oliver Queen who'd stepped in.
Mark readjusted his sunglasses—the oddly sunny day and bright florescent lights were murder on his eyes and would further expose his mangled face—and tucked himself into the corner to avoid being seen. Queen had been a grade-A prick last night, but he was still the boss. The last thing Mark needed was for Queen to see him looking so pitifully disheveled and hungover.
Much to Mark's annoyance, most of the other employees on the elevator got off on the first few floors. It wasn't long before he was alone with Queen as it ascended to the upper levels. He just had to act casual and bide his time. He'd be home free in a matter of seconds.
"You look like you had one hell of a night," Queen commented without turning around.
Shit, Mark mentally cursed. Play it cool.
"It was all right," he drawled.
"What happened to your face?" Although Queen wasn't facing him, the reflective metal doors gave him the perfect view of Mark no matter how hard he tried to melt into the wall.
Clearing his throat and standing up straight—there was no hiding now—he thought up a quick explanation and replied, "A buddy of mine had a little too much to drink last night. He accidentally slammed a door in my face."
"Really?" Queen's tone sharpened. "Because I thought it was my assistant jamming her hand into your face after you attacked her that caused it."
So quick Mark barely had time to react, Queen reached out to push the STOP button. The elevator jerked to a halt, and the abrupt motion caused Mark's head to swim once again. Queen spun around to face him. The dark, hostile look in his eyes made Mark's throat dry up. It took all of his willpower not to cower from such a foreboding glare.
"Look, I don't know what Felicity told you, but it's not—"
"Felicity didn't tell me anything," Queen retorted. "My bodyguard noticed there was something off about her last night. She looked shaken after meeting up with you again in the club and when she wouldn't tell him why, on a hunch, he decided to check the security feed—which he then showed to me." He took a menacing step forward.
Mark threw up his hands in defense. "Look, I had too much to drink last night. I don't remember much of what happened, but I'm sorry."
"You didn't just have too much to drink." Another step forward. "What was that pill that your friend gave you?" Queen demanded.
How the hell did he know about that? Beads of sweat ran down Mark's back. "What pill?" he questioned, inwardly cursing the involuntary tremor in his voice.
Queen was less than a foot away. Mark's hands trembled as he took in the larger man, who moved like a panther stalking his prey. Although Queen was no angel—he'd had a few run-ins with the law in college for typical bad behavior—Mark didn't expect this peculiar transformation. It was like a switch had been flipped, and Queen became a completely different person.
"Don't you lie to me," he practically growled. "I saw the exchange in the security footage, too. You were doing drugs in my club."
"I thought it was your sister's club."
Definitely not the right thing to say. Queen now stood toe to toe with him, his jaw clenched and eyes blazing. "What did your friend give you? Is he some kind of drug dealer?"
"N-no," he stuttered. "He's not a dealer. Sometimes he just messes around with stuff. I don't know what it was or where he got it."
"Yet you took it anyway."
"It was a party drug. It wasn't a big deal." Mark's back hit the wall as Queen loomed over him.
"You're lucky that neither my bodyguard nor I caught you last night, or else you wouldn't be standing here today."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No, it's a statement of fact. Just like my decision to fire you."
"What?" Mark sputtered. "Are you serious?"
"You're fired," Queen declared. "Get your things and get the hell out of my building. If you go quietly, I won't call security or report you to the SCPD."
"You can't fire me for something that I did outside of the office," he argued.
"Not only are you showing up for work late today after an all-night binge, you sexually harassed my assistant while she was still on the clock. It's my job to protect her and make sure she feels safe at work. Clearly, that's a concern with you around."
Mark whipped off his sunglasses and pointed to his bruised face. "Obviously she can take care of herself. Look what she did to me!" He wanted to smack the smug smirk off of Queen's face that followed but continued evenly, "I don't remember what happened, but I swear I didn't mean to make her uncomfortable. I'll apologize and—"
He gulped as Queen invaded his personal space, clearly trying—and succeeding—to intimidate him. "You won't go anywhere near Felicity ever again if you know what's good for you," he said in a low, menacing voice.
"Are you sure she's just your assistant?" Mark challenged. Queen was acting more like a jealous boyfriend than a boss.
"Felicity is also a friend, and I look out for my friends."
Although Queen didn't physically lay a hand on him, the unspoken threat hung between them. His ominous presence filled up the entire elevator, crowding Mark in and making it difficult to catch his breath. He hated that he actually felt afraid, but something dark and dangerous lurked in the other man's eyes that Mark instinctively knew not to challenge. Not for the first time, he found himself wondering what exactly Queen had done to survive on that deserted island and if that residual savagery would make a target of him next.
Queen added, "You and your friends are no longer welcome at the club either. You have ten minutes to collect your things before I send someone to escort you out." He held his stare a moment longer before restarting the elevator.
When it finally reached Mark's floor, he practically jumped through the doors. He spared a glance over his shoulder as they began to shut again, and Queen's eyes bored into him until he was completely blocked from view. Mark tugged at his now too tight tie despite feeling some relief to be away from him.
He glanced around the office at everyone settling into their cubicles, getting ready for the work day. He silently cursed his bad luck and walked to his office. It had taken him years to get his own space with a window and view of the park nearby. Now he had nothing all because Queen had an inappropriate attachment to his assistant. Any remorse he would've had for his actions last night were terminated along with his job.
"Hey, Mark," his co-worker and friend Ben greeted. He popped his head in, as was the usual morning ritual, and asked, "Do you have that file from—hey, what happened to your face?"
"Minor accident," Mark grumbled while gathering up his personal effects on his desk. He couldn't fit everything in his messenger bag, and so he grabbed a box left behind from a delivery the day before.
"That happen at Verdant last night?" he questioned and frowned. "What are you doing?"
"Getting my stuff. I have ten minutes." He threw his Magic 8 Ball—a gag gift from Kyle one year—a little too forcefully into the box. He doubted that hunk of junk could've predicted this.
"Why? I'm confused." Ben scratched his blond head and entered the office.
"I was just fired."
"Jerome fired you?" he replied in shock, thinking it was their supervisor.
"Will you keep your voice down?" Mark chastised. He hoped to make a quick getaway before anyone else realized what happened. "It wasn't Jerome."
"Okay, sorry to interrupt but I couldn't help overhearing," Sandra, their other co-worker, interjected. She stood in the doorway with a concerned expression on her pretty face. Mark should've asked her out instead of going after Felicity. He'd known Sandra had a crush on him for months, but he'd never acted on it since they worked so closely together. "What's going on, Mark? How could you be fired?
"Oliver Queen," he said through gritted teeth.
Ben's eyes widened. "The CEO fired you? Shit. How the hell did that happen?"
"You barely even interact with him," Sandra pointed out.
How exactly could Mark explain to them what went down without looking like a jerk? The entire office would probably find out within the hour anyway. Gossip traveled fast. Queen told him to go quietly, but he couldn't let that trust fund bastard completely ruin his reputation. Mark wracked his brain for something to tell them when a thought occurred to him.
"You're right, I don't. But I have been getting close to his assistant, Felicity," he hinted and grabbed a few things from inside his desk.
Ben and Sandra exchanged intrigued looks.
"Did something happen between the two of you?" Sandra tried to sound casual, but she couldn't completely disguise her disapproval.
"Almost, but Queen put a stop to that right quick." Mark wouldn't be the only one disgraced in this situation. He couldn't directly get back at Felicity or Queen, but he could throw fuel on the fire of those rumors already going around about them. He'd give his co-workers something juicier to talk about once he was gone. The whole company would be whispering about it before the week ended.
"He fired you because of Felicity?" Ben questioned in disbelief.
Sandra's interest piqued. "So it's true. They're really having an affair? I knew it was weird how she got that job. My friend Stacey told me she's totally unqualified for that position."
"Man, that sucks," Ben muttered. "Did Queen give you those bruises?"
"No!" the pretty brunette exclaimed. "Tell me he didn't."
"I can't talk about it," Mark responded, but gave them a pointed look while taking his pictures off of the walls.
Ben grabbed the last one and handed it to him. "That's totally unfair. You can't let him get away with this."
Mark shrugged. "He's the CEO, and his family owns the company. What can I do?"
"Maybe you can discreetly appeal to Felicity," Sandra suggested despite her blatant distaste for the woman. "If she's got any influence with Mr. Queen, she could probably help save your job at least. She owes you that much."
It would've been a good plan if Felicity wasn't the very reason he was getting canned. Mark sighed pitifully, hamming it up for his captive audience. "Thanks, but I don't think Felicity is going to stick her pretty little neck out for me. She's got her own reasons for staying on Queen's good side."
"Look, what's done is done. But I have a buddy over at Kord," Ben said. "I can make some calls on your behalf and see if he has any job openings there."
Before Mark could respond, someone cleared their throat loudly. In the doorway stood Queen's bodyguard. The man looked even more gigantic and intimidating in the light of day. Ben and Sandra exchanged glances—this would do wonders for his story.
"I'm to escort you downstairs," the man said. Although he kept his tone professional, there was no mistaking the disgust as he looked down upon him.
"Guess my time is up," Mark commented.
Ben and Sandra said goodbye and scurried out of the office. Mark then reached for his full box and started the embarrassingly long walk to the elevator. Heads popped up out of cubicles and whispers followed him. Sandra had already found her gaggle of gossips and was telling them the story. Mark grinned; it had already begun.
Now that his work here was officially done, the first thing he planned to do when he got home was change out of his damn suit into sweats, grab a beer, and call up Jordan. This entire day was already a disaster, and he refused to sit in shame for the rest of it. Another pill would make him forget all of this—at least for a short while.
"What the hell are you smiling about?" the bodyguard demanded, interrupting his musings.
They were almost to the elevators when the man said in a low voice, "I know you and Felicity get coffee in the same place. That will no longer be the case. I ever catch you around her again, let alone laying a hand on her, you'll be taking all your fluids through an IV. You understand me?"
That quickly wiped the grin from Mark's face, as he didn't doubt the warning was real. First Felicity attacks him, then Queen corners him in the elevator, and now the bodyguard threatens to put him in the hospital. Who the hell were these people?!