Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.
The sound of wood hitting wood filled the air inside the old Queen factory. Felicity Smoak looked up from the computer monitor to sneak a peek at her gorgeous, sweating, shirtless boss, Oliver Queen. As usual, John Diggle, bodyguard and training partner, watched over him with a pair of sticks at the ready. This was the routine nowadays. She sat in front of the computer while the boys try to beat each other up with sticks. If it wasn't each other they were beating up, they would beat up an upright pole. That was what Oliver was doing right now, beating up a wooden pole.
I wonder what that pole ever did to him, thought Felicity smiling inwardly.
She clicked on a website with one hand and reached for her Chinese takeout with the other. There was an IT emergency at the accounting department that used up her lunch break and since she drove directly to the factory after work, there was no time for a decent meal. Fortunately, Mr. Diggle promised to have Chinese takeout with extra dumplings waiting for her when she arrived. She had been looking forward to that promised dumpling since she got here.
She choked on that promised dumpling.
Oliver and Diggle looked up in alarm at her violent coughing fit.
"Felicity, are you OK?" Oliver asked with concern.
Felicity was simultaneously thumping on her sternum and frantically pointing at the computer screen.
"What is it?" Diggle asked as they rushed to her side.
"We're comic book characters," Felicity gasped out as her fingers flew over the keyboard opening website after website.
"I entered Walter's name in the news and police databases as I usually do, but this time I expanded the search to include all types of media, which also happens to include an Entertainment category. I never did that before because I didn't really think I would get any leads from showbiz news."
She took a shaky breath. "I found Walter's name in this site. It's the website for an online comic book that publishes one story arc or episode per week. Sometimes, mini-stories are released daily. Fans and subscribers are alerted whenever a new page is published."
"And you think this is based on us?" Diggle scanned the monitors trying to make sense of the rapidly flashing images only Felicity seemed to understand.
"It is us!" she exclaimed, pulling up a website to the central screen. "The comic book is entitled 'Arrow'. According to this plot summary, the story follows the adventures of dashing, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen who returned home to Starling City after being stranded on a deserted for five years. Upon his return, he transforms himself into a hooded, bow-wielding vigilante and teams up with his faithful sidekick, John Diggle and a perky computer analyst."
"Dashing billionaire playboy?"
"Faithful sidekick?" Diggle was outraged. "I am no one's sidekick!"
"What are you complaining about? They didn't even mention my name," Felicity said crossly. "'Perky computer analyst' could be anybody."
"Never mind that," Oliver said. "What stories are they publishing?"
In a few keystrokes, Felicity pulled up another website to the central screen. "Everything. Each week an album is created that is made of a collection of scenes or frames for the comic book. The first collection details your return to Starling City, even those memories of the island and the thoughts that run through your head are here. Look, here's the album about that time you brought me that laptop with bullet holes. Wow, that was exactly what I was wearing that time! They made my eyes a little too big, though," she said critically. "And here is that album with Helena Bertinelli."
Felicity flipped through the pages and suddenly blushed. "They, uh, even have your, uh, encounters in the bedroom," she blushed furiously.
"Skip that," Oliver commanded gruffly. Felicity obeyed quickly.
"At least they got your proportions correctly," she flinched. She turned to face Oliver anxiously. "I mean, they got the entire package – not your package! I mean, your persona is accurately depicted. I was not commenting on your body. Not that I notice your body… I just… I am shutting up now," she trailed off, turned back to the computer monitors, and the intensity of her blush increased even more, if that was humanly possible.
Oliver swallowed his grin and tried to keep a straight face. "You said there are fans and subscribers to this site? How many know about this?"
Relieved to have something to do, Felicity concentrated on answering the questions. "It's not that popular. I have an average of a thousand views per album. There are maybe five hundred regular viewers and less than a hundred who regularly enter the fan forum. On the up side, your secret isn't out to too many people. On the down side, your life is not as interesting to other people as you think."
Oliver ignored her last comment. "Pull up the fan forum."
"Why? You wanna know who they think is the hottest character?" Felicity raised an eyebrow.
"I want to know what they know," Oliver answered curtly. Felicity shrugged and did as she was told. All three of them scanned the site.
"It says we're fictional characters living in the fictional Starling City," Oliver read an entry out loud. "That can't be. We're right here! In Starling City!"
"Come to think of it, to what state in the U.S. does Starling City belong?" Felicity asked them. Both men stared at her blankly. "See? I have lived here all my life but whenever I think of naming the state that this city belongs to, I draw a blank. I mean what are our neighbouring cities and towns?"
"Well, there's Gotham City," Oliver answered. "And the Metropolis and Smallville. And… And…"
"What are 'ships'?" Diggle interrupted him. Pointing an entry that listed the most comments and fan discussions. "Is the website shipping them something?"
Felicity smiled as she clicked on that category. "No, 'ships' comes from the word 'relationships'. Fans pair up characters in a TV series, movies, books, or in this case comic books, in romantic relationships that may or may not actually occur. The relationship is left up to their imagination and control." She pulled up some fan comments. "Here, this group are all for the Oliver/Laurel pairing and these are the Oliver/Helena shippers. Of course, it's not always about you, so you have the Tommy/Laurel pairing."
"But those pairings did happen, in one time or another," Oliver said. Diggle nodded in agreement.
Felicity cleared her throat. "Yeah, I was easing you guys in. Like I said, there are other pairings that may or may not happen." She pulled up more comments and leaned back to allow the men to read the entries.
"Oliver/Diggle!" Diggle burst out. "I am not gay! That pairing is not going to happen!"
"Dig, relax," Oliver started, reaching out a hand to Diggle.
Diggle jumped away from him. "Don't you touch me! I am not gay for you!"
"Hey, if anyone should be outraged, it should be me. Dig, they have me paired up with Tommy, Yao Fei, Slade Wilson, and even my own sister!" Oliver said annoyed. "Why is that, by the way? Does the comic book depict me as incestuous or gay?"
Felicity shook her head. "No. But that doesn't really matter. Fans will pair up who they want," she said as her eyes scanned the recent threads of comments. She stiffened slightly at something she read then quickly started closing displayed windows.
Oliver, who was scanning pages displayed, grabbed her wrist. "Wait, stop. What's that?"
"What's what?" she asked nervously. She knew full well what caught his attention.
"There about fifty conversations about this topic," Oliver said. "What is 'Olicity'?"
"'Olicity'?" Diggle, who had been keeping his distance, stepped closer to the computers but made it a point to make sure he was at the other side of Felicity, away from Oliver. He looked at Felicity pointedly. "Is that a 'Brangelina' thing?"
"What are you talking about?" Felicity feigned confusion.
"Come on," Oliver chided. "I was stranded on a deserted island and I know 'Brangelina'."
"The 'Oli-' part is Oliver," Diggle said slowly. "So the '-city' must be … Felicity! It's Oliver/Felicity!" he exclaimed triumphantly.
"OK. Yes! Fine!" Felicity threw up her hands in exasperation. "That is exactly what it stands for. It seems to be a bit popular among the fans," she said uncomfortably.
Oliver continued to read the comments about "Olicity" with a raised eyebrow and a slight smile. "Interesting," he murmured softly. "What is fanfiction?" He pointed at a link under "Olicity".
"Uh, no. I don't think you're ready for that," Felicity quickly closed the web pages. "Why don't we go back to the homepage and –"
A notification box suddenly appeared on the central screen.
"Hey, I think a new album was just created by the site," she told them.
"They're publishing a story?"
"Yup. It looks like a mini-story. They are publishing it page by page. I am downloading the first two pages right now," Felicity clicked on the link and a page appeared in front of her within seconds. "Oh my God!"
The first page started with a scene in the factory, Oliver and Diggle were training with wooden sticks while Felicity sat in front of the monitors reaching out for Chinese takeout. The next frame showed her choking on the dumpling and waving for the men to look at something on the screen. The drawings were accurate depictions of what happened just a few minutes ago. The second page of the comic book ended with a frame showing Felicity's bewildered expression as she read the newly published entry to the online comic book.
"They are publishing a story of what is happening right now," Felicity whispered. "It's like they're watching us."
She rubbed the goose bumps appeared on her arms. "This is so creepy. It's like walking into the twilight zone. You know, before the word was forever associated with a glassy eyed chick and a moody vampire with perfect hair."
"What are we going to do about this, Oliver?" Diggle asked. "This comic book seems to be chronicling our actions while they happen or maybe even before they happen. Those writers and illustrators must have had a vision of this scene happening before they happened in order to draw it." He stood upright when a thought suddenly entered his mind. "Oliver, could they be controlling our actions?"
Felicity jumped when another notification box appeared on the screen. "Another page just got published," her voice was barely above a whisper. Her hand had a slight tremor as she moved the cursor to download the link.
"Wait," Oliver stopped her. "Let's test Diggle's theory. If this story is a premonition of sort, they have already illustrated what is going to happen next. And like any story, when faced with a certain situation, a character is expected to react in a certain way that is supposed to be in accordance to his character."
"What are you thinking?" Diggle asked.
"I am about to act out of character," Oliver announced. With no further ado, he turned Felicity's chair to face him. "I assure you that this is not how I would react in a critical situation such as this. But right now, I am going to make 'Olicity' happen."
Before Felicity could form a thought in her head, Oliver was lifting her up from her chair and transferring her on to his lap. He cupped her jaw and leaned in for a kiss. She whimpered as his lips closed on hers but made no protest. As the kiss deepened, she wrapped her arms around his neck.
Diggle watched in surprise for a second then turned to face the computer screen. He clicked the link to download the newly published page.
"Hey, Oliver," he said as he scanned the new comic book page. "I don't think kissing Felicity was considered out of character. The writers have you kissing her in this page and you …"
Diggle trailed off when he noticed that Oliver was not listening. He was still very enthralled by the pretty blonde on his lap.
"And you don't really care about the comic book at the moment," he shook his head. "Now, what am I supposed to do?"
A notification box appeared on the screen, signalling the publication of a new page. He downloaded the link straightaway.
The new page was a single frame. On the lower left corner of the frame was the computer chair currently being occupied by Oliver and Felicity. On the illustration, the chair had its back to the reader but you could discern a man and a woman sharing a passionate embrace. On the upper right hand corner, the figure of Diggle was exiting the door on top of the metallic stairs.
Diggle looked at the screen then at the couple, who hadn't stopped for breath, and then back at the screen. He shrugged.
"Can't argue with that," he chuckled and walked to the metal staircase.