She wiped her sweaty palms on her skirt again. She made a fist to stop her hands from shaking. She couldn't remember the last time she was this nervous. Oh, yeah, last week. The elevator doors opened way sooner than she would have wanted. She stepped out with determined steps. It was time to face the music. She took a deep breath, turned the corner and pushed the glass door open.
"You asked for me, Ma'am?" she hesitated at the door.
Moira Queen-Steele looked up from the paperwork at her desk and looked at the pretty blonde girl who entered her office. "Felicity Smoak. Come in, take a seat."
Felicity swallowed and moved to chair the older woman indicated. She sat at the edge of the chair, ready to bolt at any moment.
Moira fixed a steely gaze on her. Felicity's thoughts were rushing everywhere at once. Moira never contacted the IT department before today. She never seemed to have any use for it. Out of the blue, Felicity gets a call from her supervisor telling her that the CEO of Queen Consolidated asked for her specifically, by name.
Felicity's nature would never really allow her to become suspicious of another human being but ever since she started doing secret research about some missing funds and especially since Walter's disappearance, she had begun to become distrustful of one particular human being: the woman sitting in front of her. Mr. Diggle told her that Oliver has prohibited all and any form of investigation with regards to his mother, and Felicity reluctantly agreed even though it never really sat well with her.
Unable to bear the silence any longer, Felicity cleared her throat and spoke,
"Miss Queen – I mean, Miss Steele. Miss Queen-Steele?" Felicity shook her head. "Ma'am, why did you call me up here? Did you need help with your computer?"
A corner of Moira's lips curved in a small smile. "Felicity," she stopped. "May I call you Felicity?" At Felicity's shaky nod, Moira continued, "Felicity, there is no need to be so formal, or so nervous." She paused and watched Felicity's face closely, "I know what you are doing with my son."
Felicity's heart literally stopped for two seconds and she felt the blood drain from her face. Moira Queen knows that Oliver is The Hood!
"Miss Queen, er, Steele, I – that is, I can explain. Well, not really, I can't but Oliver can, I think –," she stammered.
Moira raised a hand. "Please call me Moira," she said mildly. "And relax, I do not disapprove."
Felicity's brows furrowed in confusion. "You don't? I don't understand," she said. Then she asked the question that had been bothering her. "How did you find out?"
Moira shrugged gracefully. "I am not spying on my son, if that is what you're asking. Some particular speculations simply reached me from reliable sources. I would not have given much credit to rumors but I needed to make sure, especially since it involves you."
"Me?," Felicity squeaked.
Moira rose from her chair and went around the desk to stand in front of the window. "You are a very valuable employee. I have spoken to your supervisor at length and now know how very important you are to the IT department. That is how you met my son, yes?"
"Yes," Felicity acknowledged with a short nod. "He needed help with a laptop." A bullet-riddled laptop that belonged to someone who wanted to kill your husband, she thought.
Moira nodded indicating that she already knew that. "And after that, he came to you every so often for a number of other 'projects'. At all hours of the day, it seems. He even went so far as to look for you in other parts of the building when he couldn't find you in the IT department. Even when there are others available for whatever it was that he needed, he sought you out in particular."
Felicity noted that Moira was giving her statements, not asking her questions. She was giving her proof of her involvement, not really asking for confirmation. In Moira's mind, it was already established that Felicity was deeply involved from the start.
"And then there was that charity auction for cancer," Moira continued. "Oliver told me that Spanish brooch was your idea?"
"Not really," Felicity said. "I just helped track it down. Oliver needed a very specific type of jewel."
"But you were there, too, during the auction," Moira said. "I saw pictures of you and Oliver. You looked lovely in that dress and with your hair down."
"Thank you," Felicity murmured. She didn't remember posing for pictures. Did Moira's informants tell her about what happened during the auction, too? Felicity's hand had involuntarily risen to throat, remembering the weight of the bomb collar.
"And then, there's the nightclub," Moira started.
Felicity sat up straighter in her chair. Moira knows about the nightclub's secret basement!
"Your car has been seen around that area, even before it opened," Moira continued. "Is that where you and Oliver disappear to? Wasn't it under construction for a while? It couldn't have been very quiet with all the construction going on."
Felicity silently cursed her absent-minded parking. The blame for the discovery of their secret lair is definitely on her shoulders. "There is an area that is not accessible to the customers or workers. It's a very private, secure area."
"But you were not there when the club opened?" Moira raised an eyebrow.
"I was tied up at work," Felicity answered. She almost laughed aloud when she realized that literally happened later because of the Oliver's psycho ex-girlfriend. "I heard it was very successful."
"McKenna was there, as Oliver's date," Moira said softly, almost sympathetic. "That couldn't have been easy for you."
Felicity sighed. Moira was right about that. Having the detective involved in hunting the vigilante actually dating the vigilante was no cup of tea. "No, it wasn't easy. We were on our toes most of the time, being extra careful."
"So, you still kept sneaking around, even when Oliver was with McKenna?"
"Well, yes, though there wasn't really a lot of sneaking around," Felicity said. "Oliver pretty much kept Detective Hall away from the nightclub, except for that one time. We were already there before she arrived so we didn't really have to sneak."
Moira's face reflected a mixture of surprise and disappointment. This prompted Felicity to be a little defensive.
"Please understand, there was never any intention of hurting anyone, least of all, McKenna," she said. Felicity thought about the detective's shattered femur. It was probably something that could have been avoided if Oliver had told her about Helena sooner. "Oliver didn't want to lie to her or to you. He just couldn't help it."
"And your conscience can stand all this deceit?" Moira challenged.
"At first, I really didn't want to do it," Felicity answered. "But you know your son, he can be very persuasive. So, I would argue but eventually give in every time. I suppose I started to enjoy it myself. Not the lying part, of course. That's just a necessary evil, I guess. But, the thing is that what we are doing gives me a satisfaction that I cannot find anywhere else. It's given me a purpose." She straightened in her chair and looked Moira straight in the eyes. "I am not ashamed of what we do. It is not an absolute good but neither is it an absolute evil. And I am determined to continue with it as long as I can, no matter what anyone says or does."
Moira stared at her with an unreadable expression on her face. Meanwhile, Felicity's heart was pounding in her ears.
Oh, God, she thought. Did I just confess to being a willing accomplice to the vigilante's activities? Felicity just realized that her babbling little speech just challenged Moira Queen, a powerful woman that, Felicity believes, has ties with an underground criminal organization. She has a lot of power over Felicity. She could very well fire her, or have her arrested. Or worse, have her killed if not kill her herself. Her throat was suddenly very, very dry. Moira remained silent.
"Ma'am," Felicity started. Moira interrupted her with a wave of her hand.
"I asked you to call me Moira. I think we are well past formalities now."
"Moira," it felt weird to be on first-name basis with her would-be killer. "Not that I didn't enjoy chatting with you but why did you really call me to your office? Are you going to fire me?" She swallowed hard. "Or worse?"
Moira chuckled. "Felicity, dear, don't be silly. I'm not going to fire you." She expected Felicity to look relieved by what she said but instead the young girl's face lost the little color that was there to begin with.
"So, you're going to –" Felicity couldn't complete her sentence. Her throat was closed up with fear. Moira was quick to reassure her.
"I simply wanted to talk to you," Moira said gently. "Like I said, I do not object to what you and Oliver are doing. What my son does is his business. It just becomes my concern when his "business" involves an employee of Queen Consolidated. I had to assure myself that you aren't a gold-digger trying to sleep her way to the top of the executive ladder. I am aware of how important you are to the company, Felicity. You would not need to sleep with Oliver to get to the top."
"Wait, what?" Felicity was completely confused. "I'm not sleeping with Oliver to get promoted! I mean, I'm not even–"
"I know that now, Felicity," Moira interrupted her. "After speaking with you for a few minutes, I realized that you are not that kind of woman. You are really sweet and honest. I am a little disappointed that Oliver doesn't just tell everyone about your relationship, but I suppose the two of you have your reasons. Rest assured that whatever happens between you and Oliver, your position here at Queen Consolidated is secure. Just don't let your relationship with Oliver distract you too much." Moira smiled suggestively.
"My relationship with Oliver?"Felicity swallowed.
"You are sleeping with my son, are you not?" Moira raised an eyebrow. "Unless, you have another reason for spending so much time with him…"
~~O~~ ~~O~~ ~~O~~
"I spoke to Felicity Smoak today," Moira watched her son from across the dining table.
Oliver may have been lost to her for the past five years, but she could still tell when a topic made him nervous. He stiffened almost imperceptibly and his grip on the knife and fork in his hands tightened slightly.
"She's the IT girl, right?" Oliver tried to sound mildly curious.
"Oh, please, Oliver," his mother said. "I know that she is more to you than just 'the IT girl'!"
"OK, she's a 'very special IT girl'" Oliver teased his mother.
"Oliver," her tone had a hint of warning. "Tell me about her."
He sighed and put his fork and knife down. "I wasn't lying, she is very special. She even calls herself my 'personal internet researcher'." He chuckled.
"'Internet research'? Is that what you kids call it these days," Moira raised an eyebrow. "How long has this been going on?"
"It was a couple of weeks after I got back," he said thoughtfully. "I needed help with a laptop. You know, technology has changed much in the past five years, and everyone I asked, recommended her. She was very helpful. I guess it started from there. Whenever I 'needed something', I turned to her. She has never let me down. She's just remarkable. She is great at what she does. And I have come to depend on her because has a set of skills that I don't think I can live without. She's so talented." He smiled at a memory. "There was this one time, we were in the nightclub –"
"Please, Oliver, spare me the details of what you do in the nightclub," Moira interrupted. Oliver's brows furrowed in confusion, but said nothing. "She really is special, then?"
"Yes. She saved my life."
Moira had been watching his face closely since he started talking about Felicity. There was amusement, admiration, fondness, and a glimmer of something she hadn't seen in his eyes since he got back from the island.
"Is this going to be permanent?" she asked.
Oliver thought back to that time Felicity agreed to work with him. She told them that she was just doing it until they found Walter.
"That depends on her," he said. Oliver looked at his mother straight in the eyes. "But I am really hoping she stays."
That was the most honest thing he had ever said.
~~O~~ ~~O~~ ~~O~~
Felicity paced back and forth in front of the computer monitors in the nightclub's basement. She looked up when she heard footsteps in the metal staircase.
"Felicity," Oliver walked straight to her. "Your text said it was urgent."
"Where's Mr. Diggle?" she asked looking for the bodyguard who always shadowed Oliver.
"He's parking the car."
"Good, I'd really rather he didn't hear this," she said nervously.
"Felicity, tell me what happened," Oliver was more than a little concerned now.
"Your mother called me to her office today," she said.
"Yes, I know," he said. "She mentioned it over dinner."
"You talked about it while you were eating? What kind of dysfunctional –"she stopped herself. "Not my business. What did she say?"
"She asked about you. She wanted to know how long you've been helping me out," Oliver answered, not really understanding the panic in her eyes.
"She thinks I'm sleeping with you!" she fairly screamed.
"What?" Oliver didn't really know how to react.
Felicity started pacing again. Her words were tumbling out of her mouth with the speed of a bullet train. Her arms gestured wildly.
"In my defense, I was already a nervous wreck when I went in there. Your mother called me up to her office specifically, by name, which I found especially suspicious because she has never called the IT department for anything. Then she told me she knew what I was doing with you. I thought she meant that she knew about you being the vigilante. She told me how some rumors were circulating about me being involved because you were always looking for me and that my car was seen parked in this area even before the nightclub opened, which, I admit, would look suspicious since I am not a construction worker. So I thought she knew about this secret basement. Then she started asking about McKenna and I sort of started defending what we do and that I wasn't going to stop no matter what anyone says or does. I really thought she was going to fire me, or have me arrested or killed. But she said that she didn't object to our sleeping together. She just wanted to talk to me to make sure that I'm not some gold-digger trying to sleep my way to the top. I tried to tell her I wasn't sleeping with you but I couldn't think of any other rational reason to explain why I am around you all the time, without telling her that you're the vigilante. So now, she thinks you and I are having this kinky sexual relationship that probably happens right here!"
As Felicity stopped to take a breath, Oliver grabbed her upper arms to keep her from talking and moving about.
"Felicity, it's alright," Oliver began. "It's just a misunderstanding –" He stopped suddenly when a thought entered his head. He raised his hand to cover his grin but the amusement was clear in his eyes.
"What is it?" Felicity asked.
Oliver cleared his throat. "I just remembered what I told my mother at dinner. I really thought she was asking about your computer skills. I swear I had no idea she thought I was sleeping with you."
"What did you say?" her eyes had narrowed suspiciously.
"I told her that you were great at what you do and that you were very talented with a certain set of skills that I couldn't live without." He told her with some amusement.
It took a moment for Felicity to understand the innuendo.
"Oh! Ewww!" she shoved at his chest in annoyance.
Oliver captured her wrist against his chest and chuckled.
"Wait," he said, remembering something she had said in her high-speed rambling. "Did you say my mother didn't object to my sleeping with you?"
Felicity was suddenly aware of how close Oliver stood and that her hand flattened against his hard chest. The playful teasing atmosphere was suddenly more intense.
"She, uh, said she wouldn't fire me," she licked her lips nervously.
Oliver's gaze was drawn by the movement of her tongue and stayed there.
"Interesting," he murmured as he leaned in.
The sound of footsteps on the metal staircase was like a splash of cold water. They jumped away from each other as Diggle came into view.
"So, what's the emergency?" Diggle asked.
Oliver looked at him. "Apparently, I'm sleeping with Felicity," he said calmly.
"About time," Diggle chuckled.
Felicity gasped and looked at them incredulously.