This is the final chapter.
Felicity hated parties, and Tommy knew that. But that had rarely stopped him from taking her out for a night on the town in hopes of curing her fiestaphobia. He had only succeeded in getting her drunk once (he said it was hilarious) and convincing her that parties were only slightly less horrible than she originally thought. But they still weren't her thing, so she felt awkward and anxious as she sat at the busy bar while a sea of people boogied on the dance floor.
And the circumstances of the party made her even more anxious; this was Oliver's back-from-the-dead party.
Tommy had popped into her office a few days ago with a big stupid grin on his face, and she assumed it had something to do with Laurel. That or he was going to try to take her to a club again. But then he'd said the most impossible thing: Ollie was alive. He'd survived the storm and was found on a deserted island and he was alive. And while Tommy went on about the necessity of a welcome-home party, she had stared blankly and nodded at his every suggestion. He'd called her later on to ask if she wanted to go with him to see Ollie at the mansion, but something about that had terrified her. She explained that Ollie's family and best friend should see him first, and she could see him later.
That's when Tommy got the idea to wait until the party. He wanted to make her a big surprise for Ollie, something Felicity didn't understand since she had never been a big part of his life. She saw him five times in four years, and never for more than a few hours. Sure, she adored Ollie, but looking back made it seem silly to assume he'd felt the same way. They'd meshed well together, but she wouldn't delude herself into thinking she was important to him.
But her bestie wouldn't believe it. He kept saying that Ollie cared about her and definitely missed her. She didn't understand where he was getting that from, but he was probably just trying to be positive. Tommy knew how she felt about Ollie.
So he took her shopping. Seriously. Not that he hadn't taken her before, but this time was the most fun. He was encouraging and helpful and picked out a killer dress in her favorite color. It was skimpier than anything she'd ever worn, but damn was it pretty: satin, tight, and short, with a low square neckline and ruching on the sides. And pink. Such a pretty, pretty pink.
The sky-high heels made her just as excited: black leather slingback stilettos with a gathered knot detail at the peep toe. Six-and-a-half inches high with a two-and-a-half inch platform. Oh, and red soles. Those sexy-as-hell Louboutins had a hefty price tag, but Tommy didn't even blink as he paid for her entire ensemble. He enjoyed spoiling her against her will every once in a while.
She was nursing a glass of her favorite red wine and bobbing her head to "Lucky Strike" by Maroon 5 when she spotted Oliver on the second floor with Laurel. Maybe if she'd done as Tommy said and seen Oliver after his theatric greeting, it'd be her up there instead of his ex. But she stood by her decision; let him party for a while before bothering him with a reunion.
A disrespectful douchebag squeezed in next to her and tried to start a conversation. He even dared to put his hand on her lower back. Before she could vituperate him into a whimpering puddle, Tommy yanked the offender away.
"How're you feeling, princess?"
"Tipsy. And like I narrowly avoided a felony. I nearly took off my shoe and stabbed that guy in the throat with it."
Tommy grinned. "I'll make sure not to stop you next time. That would've been awesome." He grabbed her silver clutch and helped her off the bar stool. "You ready?"
She blinked at him, then looked over and saw Oliver descending the stairs.
Her stomach tied up in knots as she was led towards him. "It's getting late. Maybe I should wait and see him tomorrow."
"It's ten o'clock," Tommy argued.
"He looks busy. I think he's heading somewhere."
"From the looks of it, he just went round two with Laurel. He probably just wants a drink."
Felicity swallowed hard as Oliver hit the last step and Tommy called for him.
Heart thumping like a war drum, she froze as Oliver noticed her.
"Remember that surprise I told you about?" Tommy said, beaming. "Well this is—"
"Sorry," apologized Oliver as he looked away, a polite smile on his face. "But I'm in a hurry. Later, okay?"
He strode away quickly before Tommy could get over his shock. When he turned to Felicity, he saw that she was ready to cry.
"He didn't recognize you, that's all." he said gently.
She suddenly felt stupid in her outfit: too awkward, too nerdy, too plain. Tommy spent all that money on her outfit, and Oliver wasn't impressed. "I need a minute,"
Felicity walked off, staring at the ground so she wouldn't fall in her heels. Her vision started to blur as she entered a white back room where the caterers kept their equipment. She carefully wiped at a tear so as not to smudge her cat's eye eyeliner and looked at her reflection in the many stainless-steel cabinets. This was dumb, she thought as she took off her heels and hooked her fingers in the straps. Whether he recognized me or not, he wasn't interested. Even if he had… Why waste his time with dorky little me? As if we ever had enough in common. He was probably just curious, and I bet he's over it now. He's got plenty of friends to party with and a mile-long line of models begging to bed him. And here I am trying to play the part and fit in.
She pouted her bright-pink lips in annoyance as she strolled slowly down the hallway. At least she had Tommy; they'd been friends since the funeral—
A groan emitted by the gray double doors marked "BALLROOM B". Felicity turned the corner and saw a black man with a bodyguard's build stirring on the floor. Whoever was able to knock this guy out wasn't someone to mess with.
"Are you okay?" she asked, getting on her knees and setting her heels and purse on the floor. "What happened to you?"
He blinked at her and tried to focus. "I'm not sure. I think my client knocked me unconscious."
"Oh, so you are a bodyguard. Well, you didn't confirm anything, I just assumed… 'Cause you totally look like a bodyguard. I mean you're in a suit and you're built like a Mack truck. Like you look like you could stop a tank. Or something. Are you a bodyguard?"
Bewildered and possibly amused, the maybe-bodyguard stared for a moment. "Yes. Are you a Barbie doll? 'Cause you totally look like a Barbie doll."
"No, but sometimes my friend treats me like one. I'm the head of the I.T. Department at Queen Consolidated."
He raised his eyebrows. "Looks can be deceiving."
"Yeah. So does that mean you were being sarcastic before, or…?"
The big, muscly man laughed silently. "No, I really am a bodyguard." He pushed himself up off the floor, then lent her a hand.
"So why would your client knock you out?" she asked as she brushed the dirt from her knees.
"He hates being babysat. That's the best answer I can come up with."
"Maybe he thinks you cramp his style. Not that he should, because you seem like a total badass."
The bodyguard smiled. "Thanks."
"You look like you could strangle a bear. Sorry, I had some wine. There's always a lot of word-vomit when I drink. More than usual, I mean. Anyway, I should probably go home. I don't even like parties, and my night isn't likely to get any better. I was hoping to talk to this guy, but he blew me off."
"What a jerk,"
"I know, right? I haven't seen him in five years and he just brushes me off. Maybe he didn't recognize me, but it still hurt. And look at my outfit! All of this to dazzle him and nothing. See those shoes? Those are Louboutins!" She points to her necklace. "And these are real diamonds! I got gussied up only to be pushed aside. Oh wait a minute, I'm babbling. Sorry,"
He shook his head in understanding. "Don't worry about it. Do you want me to get you a cab?"
"Thanks," she said with a grateful smile. "My friend would get pissed if I left, though. I'll find a stairwell to hang out in and sort out my self-esteem issues. That's gotta be my problem, right? I'm just being stupid. I'm sure he'll want to see me."
"He'd have to be a pretty bad guy to let those shoes go to waste."
"Exactly!" She clapped him on the shoulder. "Thank you, Mr. Bodyguard."
He chuckled. "No problem, Barbie."
Felicity resisted the urge to hum "Barbie Girl" as she padded down the hall, her shoes and clutch purse in hand. When she found the stairs, she climbed each flight until she could see the door leading to the roof. The stairwell was more for maintenance people than guests, all narrow and dimly lit and spooky, but the party was mostly inaudible as she sat on the highest flight. The door to the roof was only a few steps above her, and she contemplated getting out for some fresh air. Instead she sat comfortably on the step and reminded herself how confident Tommy was that Oliver would what to see her, that she was special to him. He missed her and he was going to smile when he saw her and they were gonna hug so hard and nobody could tell them they can't be friends anymore. Yeah.
Felicity switched out her contact lenses for her glasses (thank God she'd brought them with her; the contacts were itchy) because maybe he'd recognize her if she wore glasses. They weren't the same ones from college—they were more rectangular, with black on top and tortoise shell on the bottom—but they still made her look more herself.
The door behind her swung open, and before she could turn to look someone's leg slammed into her back. She cried out in pain, and when she opened her eyes she realized that whoever it was had fallen down the stairs. Forgetting the sting in her shoulder, she hurried down to help to guy who had possibly fallen flat on his face. He was on his belly, meaning she got a good view of the bow and quiver on his back. Well actually, she noticed his incredible ass first, but now was not the appropriate time to ogle. He was struggling to get off the floor between flights when she reached him.
"Hey, did you break anything?" His back was to her, and he was wearing a hood. A dark green one. Actually, everything he wore was green: his bow, his arrows, and his entire leather outfit. It struck Felicity as kinda sexy but mostly it was just weird. Only a crazy person would run around with a bow on their back. And all that leather? Wow. It was damn sexy, but wow.
He pushed himself to his knees and turned to her. She couldn't see his face, only the silhouette of his jaw. His manly jaw. Felicity blushed and wondered if she should be afraid of him.
Nervously, she adjusted her glasses. Then she raised an eyebrow in confusion when he started gawping at her.
"It's the dress, isn't it? Yeah, I like it too. So are you suddenly not in a hurry anymore, weird guy? 'Cause you seem fine and you're kind of just sitting there—"
The weirdo in green pulled her forward with a gloved hand and planted a quick, hot-as-lava, steamy-as-a-sauna, melt-your-insides-and-evaporate-your-blood kiss on her pretty pink lips. For those three insane, blissful seconds, Felicity wondered what the hell was going on but also prayed it wouldn't end too soon.
Then their lips parted with a wonderful wet smack and he dashed down the stairs, leaving her completely discombobulated.
"Aaaand I'm done for the night," she declared as she stood up, wobbling from the weakness in her knees.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK…
Languidly, Felicity opened her eyes and squinted at her clock. Twelve fifty-two A.M. Ugh. Was Tommy sloshed and lost again?
She tumbled out of bed, irritated that he couldn't have come stumbling by before she was deeply asleep. Her previously perfect hair was an untidy heap of blonde chaos as she felt around for her glasses and untangled herself from her sheets.
Felicity let loose a long, loud yawn and she shuffled towards the front door of her apartment. "Tommy," she grumbled sleepily as she undid the chain. "Go be drunk somewhere else. I'm tired."
But it wasn't Tommy.
Oliver Queen was standing there when she opened the door, looking absurdly gorgeous like always. His hair was crew cut instead of that ken-doll hairdo he used to have, and he sported a closely cropped beard. But he still had those baby blues and that sweet smile—
She blinked rapidly, embarrassed that she had spaced out. "It's late," she blurted.
"I know," he took a step closer and her heart was in her throat. "I'm so sorry for how I treated you at the party. I was distracted and didn't realize it was you."
"Yeah, I figured," She stepped aside for him to enter, her skin tingling at their proximity. As he continued in, she glimpsed herself in the mirror by the door and rolled her eyes at her epically disheveled state. Too late to primp now.
"Nice place," he complimented as he leaned against the kitchen counter.
She shyly made her way to him, worried by his formality. Why was he being so casual? Where was that big hug she was expecting? "Thanks."
"So, where's Kermit?" he asked curiously.
Felicity smiled, taking it as a good sign. "I have a tortoise now." She pointed to the tank in the living room behind him. "His name's Paperweight."
He laughed and looked over at the terrarium. "Cute. Seems like you haven't changed much."
"I guess not. So do I get a hug, or...?"
Oliver shifted uncomfortably. "It's great seeing you again, but I think that we should um… remember the lengths your father went to. To keep us apart."
"Oh, I remember," she replied with a hint of ire. At least she knew Oliver cared, though.
"He's a smart man. He had me all figured out."
"I'm not blind to your flaws, Oliver."
"No, you accept them." He gave her a small, mirthless smile. "But doesn't mean I won't end up hurting you. Your dad knew that. I think it'd be best if we avoided each other. I'm just going to hurt you like I hurt Laurel."
Felicity crossed her arms, her jaw tight. "And you don't think I can take an emotional hit?"
"You shouldn't have to."
"Like staying away from you isn't going to hurt? Every time I've seen you, I've thought it was the last time. I've lost you over and over again, and then you died. And now that you're back, you think I'm just gonna stay away? I never got enough time with you, Ollie. As if I'm going to waste your return from the dead."
Oliver leaned in, and Felicity shrank back slightly. "What makes you think I'm the same person?"
"Absolutely nothing. Oliver Queen couldn't spend five years fighting to survive on an island and not change."
"Then why bother?"
"Because you're still you."
He let out a humorless laugh. "Which means what, exactly? Felicity, that island didn't make me a better person; it made me worse. Sure I'm not spoiled anymore, and being spineless would've gotten me killed, but I'm still selfish. "
"Then why push me away for my own safety?"
He scowled. She had him there. "You'd get sick of me real quick."
"I'm empty. I don't know how to enjoy anything anymore."
"We can work on that."
"I'm emotionally crippled."
"Most men are."
Oliver smacked the countertop, making her flinch. "Dammit, Felicity! I'm not worth the trouble! You don't realize what you're dealing with!"
She stared at him with her sad gray-green eyes. "I don't care if that island hollowed you out and carved you up like a jack-o-lantern, Ollie. I'm not giving you up."
"Oh, it carved me up, alright." He shrugged off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt, letting both fall to the floor. Felicity gasped, her eyes wide and wet. So many scars… She timidly reached out and brushed her fingertips along the raised pink line slashed across his abs. The wound must have been so deep…
He wrenched her hand away, his grip tight. "Do you know what happens to a wounded animal? It gets mean. Do you really want to be around a wounded animal, Felicity?"
"You're not an animal, though." She argued weakly. "At least you weren't before…"
"But I am now. Can't you tell?"
His grip on her hand was getting painful, making her wince as their eyes met. There was something dim and lifeless about them; they somehow reminded her of a shark's eyes.
She clenched her jaw. "You don't scare me."
With a disturbing amount of strength, Oliver picked her up and set her on the countertop, the back of her head hitting a cabinet. "I should."
As she rubbed at the sore spot, her heart began to thump like a frightened baby rabbit's. Whatever Oliver used to be, he was clearly dangerous now. All those cold nights huddled in a cave, every attack, every sure moment that he was about to die alone had turned him into the feral beast in front of her. The Ollie that came through her door minutes ago was just a mask, a front to convince people he was fine.
"You're hurting me so I'll stay away so you won't hurt me. That's an ironic strategy." She tried to sound unaffected, but her voice still quavered.
He swallowed, and for a second she saw how sorry he was. Then his shell hardened and the beast was back. "I don't want a squeaky little mouse following me around."
Felicity almost smacked him. It's not like he couldn't have taken it, judging by all his gruesome scars. But he'd probably had enough violence on that island, so instead she gently took his face in her hands and kissed his forehead.
He meant to glare at her, but it was more of a petulant pout. "Let go of me,"
She ignored him and wrapped her arms around his neck, her head resting on his shoulder. His lip trembled, and he was glad she couldn't see. "I said get off of me, Felicity. Now."
Despite his rumbling tone, she didn't budge. "I still love you, Ollie. I'll always love you."
Tears threatened to run down his cheeks. "You're really pissing me off, Felicity."
She pulled back to look him in the eye. A traitorous tear escaped and her thumb wiped it away. "I love you."
"Stop saying that." he growled, his voice breaking.
"Okay," Her fingers swept through his short hair. "I'm still thinking it, though."
"Well, stop," He smacked her hand away. "I don't deserve it. If you knew what I've done—"
"You don't need to deserve love to get it, dumbass." she snapped. "And don't give me any of that self-loathing crap. I know what it's like to feel low and alone and I refuse to let you feel that way. I don't care what you did to survive on that island and I don't care what you've become. I've missed you and I love you and I'm here for you, so deal with it."
Oliver's hands slid up her thighs, her skin gooseprickling. "Are you sure?"
"Uh-huh," she choked out, her face bright red. "Whatever you need."
"I can think of something I haven't had in a while…" His thumb ran slowly from the inside of her knee and stopped when she gasped. "Didn't you say you love me?"
"I… meant it platonically. Otherwise I would've kissed you on the lips."
Her shallow breathing made his heart race. He drew closer, their bodies skimming. Their lips very nearly touched, and he could feel the electricity between them. Then she whimpered, a low sweet sound, and he was on her like a wolf on a rabbit. His lips went to her soft neck first as his arms wrapped around her. She did the same, humming against his skin when he settled on her pulse. Then their mouths met, their tongues teasing and their lips pressing and parting.
After a few minutes, Felicity pushed away to catch her breath. "Okay, so I didn't mean it platonically. Like, at all. I meant it in the romantic I-want-to-have-sex-with-you-right-now kind of way. Why are you laughing at me?"
"Your glasses are fogged up," he answered.
"Oh. Right." She took them off and cleaned the lenses with the hem of her baggy shirt. When she put them back on, she looked him bravely in the eye. "So, is this heading in a fun direction or are you about to leave? Also, I thought you said you can't enjoy anything anymore?"
"You're an exception. I've been waiting to do that for nine years."
"Ah—Wait, nine years? Five I can believe, but since high school? Seriously?"
He smirked and quirked his eyebrows up, then went to work on her neck again. She moaned in response and clung to him tightly, loving the feel of his short beard on her skin.
"Can you be more specific?"
"The Bugatti, maybe. Or prom."
"That early? Wow, I missed out on a lot of opportunities to be fondled."
"To be honest, you didn't have much to fondle back then." he mumbled against her neck.
She almost got offended, but then realized he was right. "Yeah," she admitted.
"Speaking of fondling," His hand squeezed her breast, and she yelped and giggled.
"Shouldn't we move this to the bedroom before we defile my kitchen counter?"
Oliver looked up in confusion. "How far do you think I'm planning to go?"
"I know we've waited a while, but it sounds like you want to go really fast—" RRRIIIP! His hands had slipped to her back and bunched her shirt in his fists, then tore the fabric like it was tissue paper. She gasped and covered her breasts with her arms, her hands by her face.
Felicity gawked at the remains on the floor. "That was awesome." she said reverently. Her eyes locked with his. "This is going to be amazing, isn't it?"
Oliver didn't answer; instead he gazed at her pink metal bellybutton ring and the green snake head on her hipbone. His thumb rubbed what he could see of the tattoo. "Have you gotten any more?"
Felicity gulped at the contact. A bright blush settled in her cheeks. "One more,"
"Where is it?" Her bashfulness was making him more curious.
She bit her lip as she gingerly pushed him back and hopped off the counter. When her back was to him, he scanned her skin.
"All I see is Snugglesnake." he said.
"Look at the scales,"
His fingers pulled the band of her shorts down until he could see the entire tattoo. He squinted in concentration at the tiny green scales and saw that some of them were much darker than the rest. They made inconsistent patterns, lines and loops and curves… then he saw it. O…l…i…v…e…r… His name was hidden in the twists and turns of the snake.
"I got it a month after the funeral," she said, covering her chest with her arms again. "Part of my grieving process, I guess. Not as easy to lose as your jacket or our picture, you know? Not that I lost them; they're still in my closet. That's not weird, is it?"
He snaked his arms around her waist and cuddled her close. "No. Why do you think I read those books?"
Felicity sighed happily. "I'd wondered about that. Didn't think you were much of a reader."
"I'm not," he swept her messy hair off her shoulder and rested his chin there. "I just wanted to feel closer to you."
She smiled and kissed his cheek. Then she was silent for a moment, a reluctant question on her tongue. "Um… If you don't mind my asking, why did you come back from a deserted island with tattoos? I don't want to bring up bad memories, I just… it's weird."
"I don't think you've seen the one on my shoulder."
He was obviously avoiding the question, but she didn't mind. She turned around and so did he, giving her a good view of his dragon tattoo on his back… and more of his scars. She frowned at them distressingly then returned her attention to the dragon head.
"It's red and black, like Drogon." she commented.
He laughed quietly. "It's not Drogon, though."
"No, I didn't think it was. It's still really cool." She turned him around, and her arms covered her chest again. He found her shyness adorable and slightly arousing. "I like the Chinese characters too, but my favorite is the star on your chest. It's pretty."
He found that amusing; the eight-pointed star marked him as a captain in the Russian mob.
"Also, um…" she continued nervously. "Have you always been this superhumanly ripped? Did you bench press boulders to pass the time? Because I'm pretty sure I could bounce a quarter off your pecs and do laundry on your abs."
Raising an eyebrow, he examined his torso. "Are you sure you're not exaggerating?"
She punched his drum-tight stomach. He barely felt it. "Baby, you're a brick wall."
"Did you just call me 'baby'?"
"Would you prefer 'Pollywog'?"
"Not in public." His hands went to her waist, and suddenly she was sitting on the countertop again. Her thighs quivered in anticipation when she saw the look in his eyes. Nine years of pent-up erotic tension crackled between them; Felicity sure hoped her apartment could weather the inevitable sexplosion.
He moved closer and made to kiss her, but pressed his lips to her forehead at the last second. Then he stepped away and picked his shirt and jacket up off the floor.
"What are you doing?" she asked as he put his shirt on.
"It's late," he answered. "You should get back to sleep."
She sulked. "But…"
"We have time now. We should take it slow." Oliver said, delighting in her angry pout. "I'll see you around."
He'd expected her to yell at him, but instead she crossed her arms over her chest to better cover herself. "Can I at least get a goodbye kiss?" she asked coyly.
She was too cute to deny. He strode over and planted a chaste kiss on her cheek. "I've missed you too." he murmured by her ear. Then he lifted her chin and kissed her nose. "And I love you."
Dazed, she shamelessly checked him out as he walked to the door. He turned back and gave her one last hungry, promising look before leaving.
When the door shut, she continued to sit there. All in all, she'd had a very strange night. First Oliver was too busy to see her, then she ran into that crazy green guy and he knocked her socks off with that mind-blowing lip lock, then Oliver tried to scare her off and showed her his scars and confessed his love via tonsil hockey and fondlefest and actual words…
Felicity looked around and finally understood. "Whoa," she breathed, adjusting her glasses. "I'm in trouble."
I hope this ending is satisfying, because I'd been wringing my hands over this. And about the revelation in the last line… As if Felicity hadn't figured it out in the third episode and decided to keep her mouth shut. It was so obvious.
Thank you, readers! You're awesome!
And please review! I love reading reviews.