AN: Written for the #40 – Casting Eyes theme for 100_fairytales on Livejournal. This is a oneshot and will not be continued.
Oliver realizes, quite unexpectedly, that Felicity Smoak is easing into all of his comfort zones. Bit by bit, she sees parts of him he'll never reveal to anyone else without good reason, or by a grievous error.
Felicity's knowledge of his identity is no mistake. At first, he's wondered about and even feared her loyalty. At most, his fear was fleeting. He makes calculated risks when he's already strategized the possibilities. Felicity, clever and resourceful, is an asset he doesn't regret trusting and bringing into his circle.
What's more... she's a friend, and she's closer to him than Oliver likes to admit.
He finds himself slowly caring for her, worrying about her safety and second-guessing his need for her and the impact he has on her life.
(I don't want to see another woman in the hospital because of me, he thinks. I don't want to lose another person that I...)
He's also consciously aware of the way she watches him. She's embarrassed most of the time. She looks away with her brow furrowing under those pristine glasses, and he can sense that she's scolding herself. She begins to babble about tech upgrades, new additions, and faster results. She rambles on about background checks she's done on all the names on his list, archiving details upon details so he has enough preparation to take them all down.
She turns her back to him, and he stares momentarily at her bright magenta shirt, with her blonde ponytail curling over her back. He can hear her take a breath, controlled and slow, and then another.
He feels Diggle's eyes on him, and he knows he's been staring at her for too long, trying to read Felicity's pain when he knows he's mostly the cause of it. He continues his workout, and at a simple glance back at Felicity, he catches her wandering eye before she snaps back to the screen, continuing her research.
Oliver knows the line is there. He knows he can cross it at anytime. He wants to. Felicity has left him speechless, and he's lost moments of precious thoughts, of planning and justifying his vengeance, just so he can take an extra look at the woman easing herself into his secret life and beyond.
It's too soon, he thinks. And maybe they can never happen at all. He's pushed so many away, and the ones he really cares about are hurt because of him. He can't imagine the kind of danger Felicity would be in if his enemies knew about her, if they could use her against him.
She's already in danger, he muses knowingly. Felicity rises from her chair, and he watches her as she heads upstairs, probably to use the restroom. He catches Diggle's side glance and shrug, and Oliver releases a strained breath.
His foot moves forward in a step toward her, and Oliver hesitates. He listens to her heels clacking on the stairs toward the main level. He turns back to his workout and loses himself in his breaths, in his controlled thoughts - so much he doesn't hear her return.
He only sees her back in her chair scanning the computer screens. Relief washes over his body like a chilled shower knowing she's there, where she's supposed to be. With him, on this crusade, and under his watchful eye where he knows she's safe.
Exhaling heavy, he takes a moment to rest. It's late and the next criminal on his list is out there as they watch him closely. He's making moves, and Oliver only has to wait until he strikes first. Tonight, he won't be stalking the city as the Hood. He'll walk Felicity to her car with Diggle trailing behind him. They'll go to their own homes, and he'll go to bed thinking of her, anxious that she's far away to protect and not within reach.
Sleep will be more elusive tonight as thoughts of her will plague him, and he'll be continually be questioning her role in his life.
Dreams of screaming, of Felicity's blood on his hands, strike fear into his brain as Oliver tosses and turns in his lush mansion.
He wakes up, thinking he's on the island again, and he almost thinks of Sarah when his eyes adjust to make out the ceiling.
No, there's no island, he thinks. Sarah's gone, and only Felicity's terrified face haunts him now.
He can't stop touching her.
He pats her shoulder when she's done something brilliant. He traces a finger under her elbow as he leads her out the door. When eyes gaze on her lap, he can't resist resting his palm on the top of her head as she distresses about leading her own double life and having no one to talk to.
He reminds her, again and again and as many times as it takes, that she can always talk to him.
"Can I, really?" she asks. She wipes away a tear that he's not fast enough to grab himself.
Felicity talks about seeing her mother that day. She can't tell her mother anything that's exciting in her life, her real life, and her mother has left disappointed.
"So what's the problem?" Oliver asks. He brings a chair over, turns it around and sits on it as his arms rest on the back. He looks at her as she swivels around to meet his gaze. He glances at the way she tucks her hair behind her ear before she sighs.
She smiles a little, embarrassed, "Oh, the usual mother stuff. Why aren't you a manager yet? Why haven't you met a nice man? Where are my grandchildren?" She releases a small, frustrated laugh.
Oliver says nothing, but he wants to. He wants to ask her why she hasn't given this all up for a "nice man" too, but he already knows the answer. It's futile to ask.
"The truth is...none of that can possibly happen now," she says with a hint of sadness, but Oliver senses she's resolved with the notion, and he feels guilty for it. He's brought her into this, and until Walter is found, Felicity's life will be far from normal.
He wonders even if they do find Walter, if Felicity's life will ever go back to the way it was, without him. Or if it can, or if she'll let it - not if she's deep enough with him and this risky crusade.
"Don't say that," he finally says, his voice not having the conviction he wants it to.
He looks up to meet Felicity's eyes, and he can already see she doesn't believe him. She's always had this impeccable way to see through his bullshit, better than anyone else, but she plays along with the lie and simply nods.
Her voice shakes with forced confidence. "Yeah, I know."
Heavy silences wedges between them, and Oliver feels trapped in a moment of opportunity, urging him to take the path of many possibilities. He could say anything, do anything to ease Felicity's comfort. Or, he could shy away, distance himself, and lose her bit by bit, faster than she's burrowed herself underneath his skin.
He places a hand of hers on the top of her chair, and their fingers entwine. He watches as her lips part, mostly from awe that he's taken her hand or touched her for this long. "You will, Felicity." His tone thrums with power and meaning, and he holds her gaze hard. He can feel her fingers shaking against his.
He leans forward.
Oliver knows there's a line he can cross, and he knows Felicity wants him to, but something has always held him back.
This life he leads is dangerous. He doesn't need more casualties. He doesn't want more broken hearts. He doesn't want to endanger any more friends and family, and in order to become the perfect weapon, he needs to become something else. Something removed.
Someone is telling him this. A voice from his past. His past from the island.
But his heart says no. His heart doesn't agree. Somewhere within the Hood Oliver Queen still exists. He still hurts. He still loves, and he still grows.
The Oliver Queen who liked to party has died with his father. The man he's become from the island is a tool, a weapon, but that's all this is. A disguise he can shirk when all is done.
Oliver Queen is growing into someone else, someone who can feel again, who can take risks to let people inside again. He's in there, somewhere, and with Felicity's help, slowly he's coming to the surface.
Oliver leans forward and Felicity hesitates. She sits rigidly before him, licking her lips. He arches and then spills into her space to find her forehead for a desperate yet affectionate kiss.
"Soon," he whispers, and he can feel Felicity's hot breath blanketing over his skin.
She nods with full understanding. He doesn't mean soon she'll find a nice man and her life will be normal again.
He means that soon - Felicity will have him.