"Stop thinking so hard, Oliver. Your head's going to explode," Felicity says, her voice soft in the early morning. It's still night outside the windows, but the yellow light from the lamp by the side-table keeps Felicity's home tucked away from the dark.
Oliver is tired and cold, but Felicity's hands are warm from the steaming coffee mug she gives him before the couch dips on his right and she settles in beside him. She makes herself at home against his side, leaning her cheek against his shoulder and curling in close enough that her thigh touches his. He wants to smooth out the wrinkles in her soft cotton shorts, but he doesn't.
She smells faintly of flowers and her laundry detergent, and Oliver realizes that his clothes smell like hers now. Her fabric softener is lavender, and he really likes that smell. Felicity says it's supposed to help you sleep, and he wonders if she buys it because he struggles so much with that. She never used to smell like lavender before he moved into her guest room.
She does things like that, all the time, and he doesn't think he'll ever be able to truly express to her how grateful he is that she came into his life and stayed. She built a door to take her inside his walls, but waited outside until he was ready to let her in, and he gave her a key.
And now she's taken him into her home, set him up in her guest bedroom and never asked him why he needed to leave the big mansion with his mother he can no longer look in the eye, and his sister who is still looking for the brother who boarded the Gambit instead of getting to know the one that came back home. Felicity never knew that boy, and she doesn't look for him, for Ollie Queen, when she looks at Oliver.
Instead she sees someone good, and he doesn't know if he can be that, but he wants to be. Oliver looks at her bright eyes every time she tells him he's a hero, and every time, he believes her just a little bit more.
"Drink your coffee, you don't like it when it's cold, and you're going to need the caffeine today," She murmurs. He doesn't drink coffee much anymore, but she's right, so he raises the mug to his lips and leans a little closer against her.
He feels bad that she's up this early in the day because of him, but he knows he wouldn't be able to get her to go back to sleep. Felicity always seems to know when he has nightmares and joins him in the living room with a warm drink and a shoulder to lean on. She never presses him to talk, but sometimes he does, and she always listens.
This morning, he doesn't feel like talking so she turns on the TV and finds a channel playing something she likes. It's a rerun, but he knows that she could watch Doctor Who every day for the rest of her life and never get bored.
Felicity sets the remote on the coffee table and leans back into the cocoon of warmth she's created between his side and the armrest, and curls right in without hesitation, leaning her head against his shoulder and wrapping her arms around one of his like a koala. It's right there, so he pulls her hand into his and she immediately tangles her fingers in between his. Her skin is still so warm from holding her coffee mug.
(He really appreciates the weight of her body against him, grounding him, keeping him out of his head. She knows without him saying that it helps him to have her close when he can't keep the bad memories away.)
He's only just starting to understand what's going on in the episode when Felicity notices the time and turns it off. He sighs quietly, almost sadly, and she offers him a half smile and takes the empty mug from his hand. It goes into the sink with hers. It's a domestic sight, but Oliver doesn't feel like running. He wonders why.
(He knows why. He just doesn't want to think about it.)
Felicity disappears into her bedroom, and Oliver hears the shower turn on a moment later. He retreats into his own room and quietly dresses for work. He 'forgets' to do up his tie, because he knows that she'll tie it for him if he forgets. So he always 'forgets', because there's something about her amused and soft smile as she looks at him that makes his chest constrict and his heart race. She'll put on her heels and step closer, tie the tie and smooth it down, and adjust the collar to sit neatly around his neck.
So he 'forgets' to tie his tie, and instead turns the coffee maker back on.
He knows her morning routine by heart now, and has adjusted the timing of his own so that he can have a travel mug of coffee for her done by the time she's ready to leave.
He's waiting beside the kitchen counter with a brightly patterned mug when he hears three raps on the apartment door, and Felicity calls from her room: "Can you get the door?"
He nods even though she can't see him. He can hear her moving around in her bedroom, rushing to get ready despite having plenty of time before they have to be at work. He starts tying up his tie (rather regretfully) as he opens the door.
For a moment, he just stands there, his tie half-tied and his hand on the doorknob. The woman on the other side looks just as startled as he feels. She tries to smile at him, but he can tell she's mostly just confused as to why he's opening Felicity's door at seven in the morning. He wonders how she knows Felicity.
"Laurel?" He asks, tilting his head just a little as her confusion seems to fade into a thoughtful and almost understanding expression. That unnerves him. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing, but I don't think I need to," She replies, looking at him with a smile that he doesn't know how to decipher. She walks into the apartment with an ease that makes him wonder how many times she's been here before.
He didn't even know she and Felicity knew each other.
(Sometimes he stops and thinks about the fact that the people in his life are kept so separate. It's not a desire to keep them apart, but more of an uncertainty that they would fit together.
He doesn't know what he would do if they didn't get along.
The life he has in the foundry, although significantly less normal than the one he lives outside it, feels more real to him. The only expectations of him there are the ones that he gives himself. Felicity and Digg don't expect him to be something he isn't, and they don't want him to be.
They don't like the person he is with the rest of the world. They don't like Ollie Queen.
But sometimes it's easier to shove himself back into that person than it is to see his family look at him like they don't recognize him.)
Laurel is dressed casually enough that Oliver thinks she probably isn't headed to work after coming here. He shuts the door behind her. He still has to make Felicity's coffee, so he heads into the kitchen and she follows him, and leans against the counter across the room from where he stands with the coffee maker.
He doesn't realize what the whole situation looks like until she brings it up.
"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. I get why it's a secret. The media can ruin relationships before they even start," Laurel says, and it takes Oliver a second to realize what she's talking about, and that the situation he's found himself living in looks far less platonic than it is. Or, at least, than they're pretending it is.
Because if he's being completely honest, Oliver knows that the last few weeks here with Felicity have turned sparks into fire and he's struggling to hide his feelings. It doesn't help that he doesn't want to.
Her sideways glances and tiny smiles happen more often, and they last longer, and Oliver would be lying through his teeth if he said that each one didn't make his stomach flip over, or that he was capable of not smiling back. He tries to hide them. He tries to force himself to turn away. It doesn't always work.
His touches have grown bolder; his hand over her shoulder as he passes by, fingers reaching to pull her ponytail out of the back of her coat when she pulls it on, a palm against the small of her back or her hip.
Sometimes he thinks he's imagining things when he feels the way she reacts, because he can't fathom why she would want to lean closer instead of further away.
Still, he's never spoken his feelings out loud, and he's blindsided by Laurel's words.
"—Relax, Ollie," Laurel says, dismissing his attempt at denying it with a wave of her hand. "It's not a crime."
She pushes herself off the counter as he blinks, the coffee mug in one hand and the lid in another, frozen halfway to the task.
"I'm actually not here to interrogate you, so remind me to do so later. I'm here for Tommy. Felicity offered to clean some virus off his laptop and I'm just here to pick it up."
It takes Oliver a few seconds to untangle his confusion, which is conveniently how much time there is between the end of Laurel's sentence and the sound of Felicity's heels clicking on the hardwood as she enters the kitchen. She's trying to get an earring in as she smiles at Laurel and gestures to the living room with her elbow. It's ridiculously adorable.
"Laurel, hi! Tommy's laptop is on the coffee table; I fixed it last night. Tell him to stop opening spam emails, would you?"
She turns toward him then, and his heart rate jumps because her eyes are sparkly and they soften when they find his. But her gaze drops to his tie, and she makes a little sigh that's a mix between exasperation and amusement. She reaches out to him, making grabby motions with her hands, and he steps toward her, holding her coffee mug in both hands.
Felicity tugs on his collar to drag him a bit closer, and quickly undoes the disaster he made of his tie. Once she's fixed the knot to her satisfaction, she smooths it out and pats his chest. Oliver tries to kill the urge to keep her so close and instead holds out her coffee, which she takes with a happy grin and hums as she takes a sip on her way out of the kitchen.
Laurel flashes an amused look and a knowing smile over her shoulder at him as she heads out the door with a laptop under one arm, and he admits defeat.
Because Laurel is right.
He hasn't said it out loud, but he will.
Because Felicity was the first person he could see as a person.
Because he's known her less than a year but it feels like he's loved her forever.
(Maybe he has.)