Chapter 1 - BADBOY
"What was it about bad boys that made them so dangerously alluring?"
The question circled through Felicity's mind like 90's song on repeat. Three failed relationships with men with bad boy reputations should have been enough for someone as intelligent as Felicity to realise that bad boys were always trouble for someone like her.
Her high school and college days had taught her that bad boys saw her as little more with a brain and a quick and easy loay because obviously she wasn't popular enough to be anything other than desperate.
No matter how many times she told herself that she would find herself a nice guy, a man who would treat her well, she couldn't seem to stay away from those tempting bad boys.
Well, he's hardly a boy, her mind whispered, as her eyes flickered away from the computer monitor momentarily to watch Oliver work his way through a series of combative katas.
Everything about him screamed raw male sexuality.
She took in the way his muscles rippled as he moved fluidly through a series of intense punches and kicks. Sweat glittered on his brow only to disappear into the shadow of his beard. His eyes were a sharp, clear blue and narrowed in concentration as he fought demons only he could see.
For a moment, it was all Felicity could do to blink, overwhelmed by the image he presented.
No, the man in front of her could hardly be called a boy. Maybe only if she was ninety years old, her mind reasoned, would she be able to call Oliver a boy. But even then, that wouldn't be quite right.
There was a pain in his eyes that all but screamed, that Oliver had been aged far beyond his years. He had lived through hell and it had changed him. She hadn't known him before the island, but from what she had heard and what she knew about him, he was a completely different person. One who had a dark side that was completely unafraid of things that most normal people would shy away from. It amazed her that people didn't notice the difference. Maybe they only saw what they wanted to see, or Oliver was a better liar than she gave him credit for.
Either way, he was definitely bad.
Not in the regular sense though. While she was sure he could be an absolute jerk if he wanted, Oliver was the bad boy who had seen violence and knew how to dish it right back out. She'd seen his moves when he and Diggle practiced and she knew that Oliver was a man who had been hardened by pain.
Oliver was, ultimately, the quintessential bad boy. Good looking, brooding, dangerous with a hint of broken that every girl dreamed of fixing. Even if she knew better.
"And that, Felicity is why you should stay away from him." She muttered as she turned her attention back to her screen.
"Stay away from who?"
Felicity jumped reflexively and spun round to confront Diggle. She smiled nervously. Inwardly, she cursed herself a million types of fool. It had been ages since she had last spoken out loud and it was a habit she thought she had lost. Clearly the stress was clearly getting to her.
Her mind went painfully blank for a long second as Diggle waited for an answer. "Um..." With perfect timing, her computer beeped, supplying her with the perfect answer. "Marco de Santos, of course." Her anxiety made her answer louder than normal, breaking Oliver's concentration and drawing his attention to her and Diggle.
He paused mid-kata and strode over to her work station, barely pausing to grab a towel to dry off with. "What did you find?"
"Nothing good by the look of it." Felicity said, resolutely avoiding Diggle's eye. "But you suspected as much." She paused to give Oliver the evil eye. "I don't know why you need me to run the background searches anyway. Most of the information comes off Google as it is."
Oliver grinned. "But you can get us into that." He leaned over her shoulder to point at Starling City's police dockets.
Feeling slightly more appreciated, she nodded and looked back to the screen. "Well, just scrolling through the police records, it looks like he has been accused of human trafficking on at least three different occasions but none of the evidence has held up in court. The police suspect bribery was at work but nothing was proven." Scooting closer to the computer, Felicity straightened her glasses and began clicking through the information. "It says here that he lures women in by claiming to be a job broker. Not only does he demand an upfront payment for his services, but people have also disappeared once work has been "found". Of course, he just claims that they have just left because they got the job they were looking for. Women are his main targets in particular but there have been some instances of men allegedly disappearing too. You've picked a nasty one here." She said turning round to face Oliver.
Only to come face to come "face" with his toned, scarred and tattooed stomach. Immediately she blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"Did you get these on the island?" Her hand rose unbidden to point at the Chinese characters running down his stomach.
Oliver glanced down, saw where her hand was pointing and stepped back. "Yes." He bit out. He moved away and pulled on a shirt.
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him what they meant but she knew a defensive person when she saw one.
Thankfully Diggle choose that moment to ask a question, saving her from more blunders.
"These people who go missing, is there any sort of pattern? Why do they not get the jobs but others do?"
Taking the cue to redeem herself, Felicity was quick to answer, "I'd have to analyse the data, but from what I noticed, it was family background. Or rather the lack thereof."
"So in other words, people who don't have family to miss them?"
Silence fell among the group as they considered what to do next. As usual, Felicity's eyes followed Oliver as he moved around his equipment.
"You know what this means, don't you, Oliver?" Diggle said, softly. "We will need to go undercover. Unless you know anyone in the Glades who recently lost their job and is planning to go to this guy."
"That's not true." Oliver replied. "What Felicity's found is more than enough to warrant a visit from the Hood." He frowned as though he had just eaten something unpleasant. 'I really hate that name."
Desperately trying to hide grin at the last comment, Felicity cleared her throat. "Actually I would have to disagree."
"With what?" Oliver asked.
"I thought that the Hood, I mean the vigilante, or rather you, Oliver - oh you know, who you are, wanted justice." Felicity said, getting flustered by her own mistakes.
Oliver looked bemused. "Of course I do."
"Then you can't go running around just threatening people to turn themselves in."
Oliver shrugged, unconcerned. "It's worked in the past."
"No, Oliver. Felicity's right." Diggle interrupted. "The Hood has gained a positive reputation recently and I think we should use that to our advantage."
"I am not doing this to be some sort of hero."
"No," Felicity agreed, "but the people of this city need a hero and to them that's exactly what you are."
Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment before sighing. "Fine. So what do you propose I do? I'm a little too well known to be go undercover and I don't think my mob connections will be able to help me out here."
"You have mob connections?" Felicity squeaked. "Wow, you really are a bad boy."
When both Oliver and Diggle looked quizzically at her, Felicity blushed brightly. "I really need to stop doing that."
Rolling their eyes at her odd behaviour, Diggle said to Oliver. "You don't need to go undercover. I could do it. Isn't that why you asked me to be your partner? To do the things you couldn't."
Felicity couldn't stop the snort of amusement that Diggle's statement produced. "I don't think you are quite what de Santos is looking for. Not with all that." She gestured at his decidedly masculine figure. "There is nothing feminine about you. I'd have more chance of getting in."
There was a long silence after that statement and Felicity found herself the subject of some intense scrutiny. "What?"
"No." Diggle turned to Oliver, completely ignoring her. "We can't put her into a dangerous situation like that."
"She'd be perfect." Oliver said softly.
He glanced over at her, studying her intently. Felicity had never felt so self-conscious in her life. It was a perusal like nothing she had ever felt before. It wasn't a sexual thing. Oliver was judging her ability to handle herself. She sat a little straighter in her chair, hoping for some strange reason that she'd meet his approval.
"But you're right." He said finally. "It's not her job. We'll have to come up with another idea."
For some reason, his quick dismissal hurt her more than she expected. There were few things that upset her as much as being dismissed out of hand. With more courage than she realised had, Felicity stood up, needing on be on equal terms with the men who towered over her.
Clearing her throat nervously, she said, "Actually I think that I'm the best chance for you to get this guy. I know I said that I was only helping to find out what happened to Walter, but if I can do something to help the woman in this city, then I am in."
"Felicity, this isn't a quick, safe, hacking job." Diggle said, the concern evident in his voice. "You aren't trained to handle something like this."
"And you are?" She bit back.
"Damn right, I am." He yanked his tie loose, clearly frustrated. "I've had military training, you haven't."
"So what do you call all our training? Just playing? 'Cause I was under the impression that you were actually teaching me how to defend myself.'
"So what's the problem then? I'm not going to try and take this guy down by myself. That's Oliver's job. I just need to get the proof you need to nail de Santos." She gestured angrily at her computer screen where de Santos's face leered out at them. "I'm tired of seeing this city fall apart around me too."
Oliver, who had been silent the whole time, interrupted softly. "The last time you got involved, you ended up with a bomb strapped to your neck."
Felicity swallowed hard, her hand reaching up to touch her neck where the bomb had rested. She had to force her words out as the terror of that night came back to her. "That's different. I went in blindly, completely unprepared. I am not going to make the same mistake again. I want to do this. I want to help."
Oliver stared down at her intently. "If you're sure?"
"Oliver!" Diggle began, just as Felicity nodded, "I'm in."
Author's Note: Reviews are always welcome. This is my first time writing for this fandom and I am hoping that I have them suitably in-character. Please let me know if and where they diverge so I can work on getting this right. Also any grammatical mistakes or typos that get picked up, please let me know so I can fix it. There is always one which seems to escape my proof reading.
I hope you enjoyed this and that you are looking forward to chapter 2.