One Safe Place
Season/Episode: It really doesn't matter.
Category: Hurt/Comfort, Friendship
Song: "One Safe Place" by Marc Cohn
Synopsis: One glance, one touch told her everything she needed to know. He may have been stubborn in admitting it, but Oliver Queen was very sick. The follow up to Fever.
AN: I'm having an awful time getting to replying to reviews. These past couple of weeks have been rough, to say the least. My town was in a state of emergency because over 75% ended up being flooded out, including my car. Yeah, I'm not a very happy camper. Then I was awake for another 3 days straight studying for finals. I have to take mine early because my professor leaves for storm chasing the week of. But at least that gave me some inspiration to finish this fic. I knew there would be a follow up, just didn't think it would happen so soon, lol.
Big thank you to my beta, Nancy, for helping me out with doing some major edits that were very much needed. They worked out great, as you'll see in a moment. As always, thank you so much!
Disclaimer: My original idea, but I don't own the characters or the show. Just trying to be creative.
The day had been uneventful. Oliver's lair was silent save for the light tapping of fingers upon a keyboard. Felicity had come in early that Friday night to do recon on the next name in the book, but found her mind constantly wandering back to the previous week. Her eyes would flick from her monitor to the couch as fleeting images of her ill-fated night came rushing back.
All Felicity remembered was throwing up several times in the bathroom. Then, she had hazy memories that Oliver found her, carried her to that couch, and gave her ginger tea before she passed out from exhaustion. It had been the worst case of the flu she had ever experienced, most likely a result of the nasty bug that was making its way through the IT department. She couldn't remember the last time she had been that sick.
What she could remember was the following morning.
Groggy and confused, Felicity had awoken to find herself still sitting on the couch, but she hadn't been lying on the cushions. Her head had been nestled in the crook of Oliver's neck with her arm draped over his waist and, even more surprisingly, his arm tightly wrapped around her shoulders. He'd been fast asleep beneath her, his body still and relaxed. She had never seen him look so peaceful. It had pained her to disturb him, but she really had to go to the bathroom. The moment she'd straightened his eyes had shot open as his arm tightened around her.
It had taken Oliver a few moments to figure out what was going on, but seeing Felicity staring at him with a gentle smile on her lips had seemed to remind him of the previous night. He'd returned her grin and said, "Good morning, sunshine."
"Good morning," Felicity had whispered, her voice too weak to speak any louder.
His hand had come to rest on her forehead, checking to see if she still had a fever. "How do you feel?"
"Better," she'd rasped. 'Because you're here.' Felicity hadn't dared to say that second part out loud. She might have been sick, but she'd still known better. Their friendship was just getting off the ground, and the fact that he was so attractive and had a heart much bigger than he let on made it difficult not to have these feelings. It also didn't help that he'd made it his mission to get her to open up when she needed someone to talk to, especially about what he did in his free time.
"Good, I'm glad you're feeling better. You've still got a fever, but it's not as bad as it was last night," Oliver had replied.
Felicity had finally stood up and stretched. She'd been surprised to find that her head no longer swam with nausea. "Yeah, definitely don't need to puke today, but my throat still hurts like hell," she'd said before heading into the bathroom.
With some distance between her and her boss, Felicity had taken a deep breath as she stared into the small mirror to find just how disheveled she truly looked. "Crap on a cracker," she'd muttered under her breath. Her hair had been a mess, frizzy on the top and straight on the bottom. Her skin had been ashen and her eyes had deep purple bags beneath them. She grimaced, just remembering. If that wasn't a hot mess, she didn't know what was. Yet Oliver still saw past all that. He'd seen her at her best, and now he had seen her at her worst, but he hadn't judged her. Instead, he had made sure she was okay above anything else. It tugged at her heart strings knowing just how much he truly cared, even if he would never admit it for fear of hurting her in some way.
Exiting the bathroom, Felicity had returned to the couch to find him still sitting there, but he'd been talking to someone on the phone. As she'd approached, Oliver had ended his conversation and looked up at her with a smile. She'd eased herself onto the seat at the other end and curled her legs beneath her body.
"You don't have to worry about going to work today," Oliver had said.
"You have the day off."
Felicity recalled the relief that had spread through her body. Had she tried going into work that day, it would have ended in all sorts of fail. Instead, she had been given permission to just curl up and fall asleep without a worry in the world, and that's exactly what she did, placing her head against the armrest and closing her eyes. It wasn't long before she'd felt Oliver's arms slip beneath her body and lift her up. He had laid her out fully on the couch then tucked the blanket around her body. With one final lingering touch of her forehead, he'd seated himself at her desk and begun typing.
Felicity sighed at the memory. For the rest of that day, she had slept on the couch while he watched over her like a hawk. Anything she'd needed, he gave to her, no questions asked. Water, soup, cough syrup... It had been nice being taken care of, and she vowed to one day return the favor.
Felicity's ears perked up when she heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. She glanced up to see Oliver, dressed in a simple black t-shirt and jeans making his way to the basement. He looked a bit ashen, but she really couldn't tell. The light down here was terrible.
"Hey, boss," Felicity greeted him with a smile. Her voice still sounded a bit off, but she was getting back to normal.
"Hey," Oliver replied without his usual bright smile and enthusiasm. She could tell something was wrong. He seemed preoccupied, walking past her and taking a seat on the couch. Stretching out so his head rolled back against the back rest, he closed his eyes and rubbed them with his hands.
"You okay?" she asked, getting up from her desk and making her way to him. Felicity sat down on the other end of the couch, smoothing out the wrinkles in her charcoal grey pencil skirt as she did.
"I've got a headache," Oliver replied as he glanced over at her.
"Want me to give you some aspirin?" He nodded and she was up in a flash. Fumbling through her purse, she found her bottle and shook two pills from it before throwing it back in. Just as she was making her way to him after grabbing a bottle of water, Oliver sneezed.
They immediately locked eyes as Felicity mumbled, "Uh, oh." The look of terror engulfed her face as she rushed to the couch. She dropped the water and pills into his hand before placing a soft palm against his forehead. "You feel a little warm," she said. "Are you getting sick?"
The incredulous look Oliver shot her quickly put an end to her line of questioning. "It's probably just... allergies... or something," he replied before downing the pills and water. Felicity knew better. This was how her flu started. A day later she'd been in hell wishing she'd stayed in bed. She silently vowed to keep an eye on him just in case it got any worse. After all, Oliver could be quite stubborn. If he wasn't near death, he wouldn't admit it.
Simply nodding her head, Felicity returned to her desk and continued working on her next assignment, occasionally glancing at her boss as he now lay on the couch, an arm over his eyes as he dozed off. The coughing and restlessness began an hour later. It prompted her to get up and check on him.
"Oliver?" she whispered as she placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle shake. He barely moved, a reaction that stunned and worried Felicity. His normal response probably would have been a defensive move, but this was downright scary. A flashback to the night she first found out who he really was entered her mind and her heart began to race.
"Oliver!" Felicity's tone became a little more frantic as she shook his shoulder more forcefully. He groaned and tried to swat her hand away weakly. "Oliver, wake up!" she practically yelled.
"What?" he mumbled as his eyes cracked open to glare at her.
"You should go home," Felicity said. "You don't look so good." She placed her hand on his forehead to find it burning to the touch. "I'm pretty sure you're running a fever."
"I'm fine." Predictably, Oliver was being his stubborn self.
"Prove it," Felicity challenged. She grabbed his bow and an arrow off his work table and brought them to him. "Hit that old sign on the back wall."
Oliver glared at her again as he sat up then immediately laid back down. The world had begun to spin out of control almost as if he'd been dosed with Vertigo again. Maybe she was right, but he wasn't about to admit defeat. Oliver tried again, this time a little more slowly. He managed to get into a sitting position, but standing would prove disastrous.
Felicity was content standing there watching him struggle. It served him right for refusing to admit he had succumbed to the flu. She set the bow and arrow down to wait and see if he would actually get up or if he'd stop trying and finally admit he was sick. For a moment he did manage to get to his feet, but stumbled and fell straight into her arms. Felicity was knocked off balance and they tumbled to the floor.
It took every last ounce of energy Oliver had to keep himself from crushing his IT girl. Somehow he managed to grab Felicity and roll so she landed on top of him, but it meant slamming into concrete head first. If he hadn't been seeing stars earlier, he was now. At least she wasn't hurt.
"Oh, my god! Oliver! Are you okay?" Felicity immediately rolled off his chest and kneeled by his head, her hand slipping beneath his neck feeling for any blood. There was none, but having seen the whole fall unfold and watching his head smash into the floor frightened her. What if he had a concussion? What if he'd cracked his skull? What if…? No, she told herself. She couldn't think like that. She had to stay calm and keep her wits about her in order to assess the situation properly.
The world swam in a kaleidoscope of colors before Oliver's eyes. He lay there for several moments waiting for things to calm down. Once the blurry outline of Felicity's face came into focus, he replied, "I don't think so."
"Come on, let's get you home," she said, offering her hand to help him up. He might have been a lot bigger than her, but Felicity knew how to use gravity in her favor. She helped Oliver to his feet then wrapped an arm around his waist to help him walk.
"Stay put. I have to grab my purse," Felicity said once they made it to the door. She left Oliver leaning against the wall for support and ran back to her desk. Scribbling a note to let Diggle know what was going on, she was back at Oliver's side in moments. With her arm securely around his waist, they walked out into the cool night air.
Felicity began fishing for her car keys in her pocket only to find her house keys instead. "Crap," she muttered. "I left my keys on my desk." This was the first time she wished she didn't keep them separated.
"Here," Oliver replied, handing her a small black key fob with a silver Audi logo. "Just drive my car. Dig can take you back here later."
"Okay," Felicity replied as she glanced up to see which car he'd brought today. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the black R8 parked off to the right behind her car. "Oh, my god. You really think I can drive that? How much is it worth? Probably more than I make in two years."
"More like three after the upgrades," he answered. They stopped and stood there for several moments. Oliver could tell she was nervous and added, "Don't worry, it's easy to drive. Everything's automatic."
Although it seemed to ease her mind, Felicity still hesitated to get in the driver's seat. Oliver gently squeezed her shoulder and gave her a tired smile. "Alright," she said, "let's go." Unlocking the doors, she first helped Oliver into the passenger's seat before getting behind the wheel. Just sitting in the plush black leather bucket seat made her feel like she was in the cockpit of a fighter jet. Red accented buttons dotted the matching black leather interior.
Felicity started looking for where the key went, but realized there was no key. She turned to Oliver and asked, "Um... How do you turn it on?"
He flipped open a little latch on the center console. "Start button," Oliver answered with a wry grin before pressing the button. The engine roared to life, all ten cylinders producing a chorus of stunning power.
"Oh, wow," Felicity breathed. "I've watched the episode of Top Gear where they raced one of these against a Corvette ZR1. I never thought I'd ever be sitting in one, let alone driving it. It's a little intimidating." Her heart raced as she threw it in drive and pulled out onto the street. Glancing over at Oliver, she found him sitting back in his seat, eyes closed. "So, uh, how do I get to your place?"
Oliver cracked an eye open, touched a few keys on the satellite navigation screen, and soon she had her route programmed. "Thanks," Felicity muttered, keeping her eyes on the road. A slow, steady rain began to fall as she accelerated down Starling City's empty streets. The power beneath her feet was startling. Just the lightest touch of the accelerator sent the car flying. Never in her life had she driven anything like this. The R8 was a pure joy. No wonder Oliver liked it so much.
Felicity glanced over at the man sitting beside her. He still had his eyes closed, but the pained expression on his face told her he wasn't fairing so well. "Oliver, are you okay?" she asked.
"I don't think I'm making it home," he said. The ride, no matter how comfortable it was, still got to Oliver. Every time the car accelerated or decelerated, it felt as if he was on a stormy sea with 30 foot waves.
Eying the next street sign, Felicity replied, "Okay, well, we're about a block from my place. Do you think you'll make it there?" She knew exactly what he meant. The same feeling had come over her the night she came to work feeling under the weather. She'd barely made it to the bathroom before her stomach flip flopped and turned upside down. It made her feel sorry for her boss. Oliver had been through so much these past few months. Having the flu was the last thing he needed.
Rolling up to the three story brownstone she shared with two other neighbors, Felicity pulled into the spot her car usually sat in and jumped out to help Oliver. They were inside her apartment within minutes. Judging by the shade of pale he turned, it was not a moment too soon. She led him to the bathroom before heading into the kitchen to fetch a bag of ice for his head. When she walked back to the bathroom, Oliver was sprawled out beside the toilet looking like death warmed over.
"Shit," Felicity muttered under her breath. Kicking off her shoes, she kneeled down beside him and eased the bag of ice against the back of his head. Oliver was in bad shape. Her hand came to rest on his forehead and found it to be even hotter than the last time she'd checked. Reaching over to open one of the drawers beneath the sink, Felicity grabbed an ear thermometer to see just how bad it really was.
"Shit!" she nearly hissed when it read 103.4. Oliver was definitely in bad shape. Unfortunately there wasn't much she or anyone else could do. The flu had to run its course. All she really could do was stay at his side just as he'd stayed by hers and make him as comfortable as possible. Ever so gently, Felicity eased his head into her lap as she tried to make herself comfy. It was going to be a long night spent with her back against the bath tub and her butt on the cold tile floor.
The clock on her phone read 4:23am. Felicity hadn't slept much that night. Between Oliver's fits of nausea and the numbness in her legs, sleep came in half hour increments, if she was lucky. With the tight quarters and awkward angles, her back had become intensely sore. She tried finding different ways to stretch, but they all seemed to make it worse. It didn't help that Oliver had wrapped his arms around her knees, making it nearly impossible to get up without waking him.
With a heavy sigh, Felicity sat back and stopped looking for an out. Instead, she ran her fingers through Oliver's sweat soaked hair. He had been restless all night, but unless his stomach churned, he barely moved from the spot he was in. She hadn't seen him this vulnerable since he got shot and passed out in the backseat of her car.
As she continued to gently run her fingers through Oliver's hair, Felicity noticed a distinct change in his body. The tight hold he had on her legs eased and became more relaxed. The tension in his shoulders disappeared as an unburdened sigh escaped his lips.
"Oliver," Felicity whispered as her hand ran down his back. His shirt was also drenched in sweat. She needed to get him wrapped in a blanket before this got any worse. "Oliver, sweetie, you need to get up." She hoped a little coaxing would help as her hand continued to filter through his hair. He turned his head and gazed up at her with those gorgeous blue eyes.
Oliver was dazed and confused. He couldn't remember where he was or why he was there, but seeing Felicity's soft smiled as he stared up at her eased his mind. It felt as if he'd been run over by a bus. His body ached and his head throbbed with severe pain. The only thing keeping him from blacking out was the touch of her hand. "Felicity?" His voice was barely a whisper due to the intense burning in his throat.
"Hey, good morning," she whispered back, flashing him a relieved smile.
"Where am I?" Oliver mumbled as he glanced around to find he was in a place he didn't recognize. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back against her legs as another wave of nausea rolled through his body.
"You're in my apartment, well, specifically my bathroom floor," Felicity answered as her hand ran through his hair again. Her words, her fingers calmed him instantly. She could feel it in the way he huddled closer to her. "You think you can stand up so I can take you to bed?" Felicity thought it sounded peculiar until she played the words back in her head. "That came out wrong," she added.
Oliver rolled onto his back and gazed up at her with a bemused smile. It seemed as if the filter between her brain and her mouth broke every time she was around him, which resulted in some very awkward, yet hilarious, moments. But it was part of what he enjoyed about her. Felicity told it like it was, no matter how strange it ended up sounding.
"A bed would be much better than the floor," he replied, choosing to ignore the awkwardness as he always did. He used the side of the tub to lift himself into a sitting position all the while feeling her hands gently push against his back just in case he had another dizzy spell. By some miracle his head stopped spinning long enough to get to his feet with her help.
Felicity led him down the short hall to her small bedroom. The walls were painted a light shade of turquoise. The southern wall was taken up by a large black entertainment center with matching bookshelves on either side filled with novels and trinkets. In the middle was a small flat panel TV with rows of DVDs on the shelves below it. Her full size bed sat opposite, the orange and white paisley comforter adding yet another splash of color to the already vibrant room. She quickly threw the two teddy bears she had on top of it to the floor and pulled back the sheets.
"I think I might have an old hoodie you can change into," Felicity said as she stepped into the closet and began rummaging through it. Somewhere near the back she finally found it. "Go figure," she muttered. It was forest green in color with "Vorticity" imprinted on the front in white block letters. Turning around she discovered Oliver sans shirt. Her mouth went dry. Although she'd seen him like this many times, it never ceased to amaze her just how incredibly built he was. A girl could stare for hours at him and never get bored.
"Felicity?" he said, knocking her out of the daydream she found herself in.
"Oh, uh, here," she practically threw the shirt at him. He might have been sick, but he could still catch.
"Vorticity?" Oliver asked as he pulled the hoodie over his head.
"My ex was a storm chaser and total weather nerd," Felicity explained, busying herself by fluffing the pillows in order to take her mind off him. "From what I remember, it's another way to describe the spin of the atmosphere, but apparently it's really important for tornadoes." Oliver simply nodded. There was a long pause between them as they stared at each other.
"So, uh, why don't you lie down while I make you some tea," Felicity finally broke the silence as she scurried out of her room. She slapped her forehead with her palm realizing how stupid she must have looked ogling her boss.
Felicity returned several minutes later with a steaming cup of ginger tea and honey in one hand and a package of crackers in the other. Oliver was sprawled out on her bed already fast asleep. She placed the tea and crackers on the nightstand before pulling the covers over his shoulders to tuck him in.
After changing into a gray t-shirt and black sweats, Felicity contemplated what to do next. All she really wanted was to curl up and fall asleep somewhere warm and comfortable, but with her bed currently occupied by her boss, that left the lumpy futon in the living room. That thing was so old it could be in a museum. The mattress presented its own problem: the springs were starting to come out the back. Sleeping on the bathroom floor would have been more comfortable than that futon.
"Screw it," Felicity muttered as she grabbed a second blanket from her closet and crawled into bed beside Oliver. They'd already "slept together" once. What was the harm in doing it again? Besides, she justified, what if he needed something? Figuring her reasoning was sound, she slipped under her blanket. The moment her head hit the pillow, Felicity was out like a light.
Warmth, comfort, security; those were the first feelings that filtered through Oliver's mind when he woke up. Something, no, someone was pressed up against his back, arms wrapped around his waist. Holding up the delicate pink hued fingers he instantly knew who it was. A smiled crawled across his lips as he slowly turned to find Felicity fast asleep, her hair fanned out over her face and pillow.
Pushing back the errant strands with his fingers, Oliver watched her stir. Felicity's nose crinkled and she reached up to swat away his hand before snaking her arm beneath her pillow to snuggle into it. She was very much asleep. He lay there watching her, his fingers longing to touch her face again. She had such soft porcelain skin. But he knew he'd wake her if he did. Instead, he just watched her and took in the subtle features of her face.
Felicity was far more beautiful than he cared to admit. She had a way of stopping Oliver in his tracks that no other woman had. It wasn't just that she was beautiful, she was smart too. The amount of knowledge and technical knowhow trapped in that pretty brain of hers had helped him do things that probably would have taken him ages to do alone.
Felicity proved to be an asset far greater than money. The fact that she also brought back some of the humanity he'd lost spoke volumes about her character. Yes, sometimes Oliver regretted bringing her into the fold and possibly ruining whatever innocence he thought she had, but she constantly showed she was more than capable of handling the things he needed to do in order fix the part of his life that was broken.
"You're staring," Felicity mumbled, bringing him back from his reverie. Her soft blue eyes gazed at him as a smile touched the corners of her lips.
"I'm sorry," Oliver whispered, wincing from the pain in his throat.
Her hand reached up to touch his forehead. "You've still got a fever." Felicity threw the covers to the side and started to get out of bed when Oliver's hand came around her wrist, pulling her back in.
"Stay," he whispered.
With those big blue eyes staring back at her, Felicity couldn't stop herself from falling. She laid back down beside him, completely lost in his gaze. If there was one thing that could make her drop everything, it was Oliver's eyes. One look and it was over, especially now that he was sick. Damn it, Felicity thought to herself. How did he do that?
Snapping herself out of the daze, Felicity replied, "Do you need anything?" What she needed was to get away from those eyes. They had a way of making her do strange things. Again, she attempted to get out of bed only to have Oliver's arm wrap around her waist and his head fall to her shoulder.
"Just you," was his answer.
Felicity's heart skipped a beat and for a moment, she began to wonder if he was delirious. But gazing down at him, it became pretty obvious that Oliver just wanted some company. Having someone there for comfort always made things better. After all, he'd been by her side the entire time she'd been sick. Common courtesy dictated she do the same for him. Felicity wrapped her arm around his shoulders and whispered, "Okay."
Snuggling a little closer, Oliver sighed contently as he closed his eyes. He could feel her fingers run through his hair again, a gesture he would surely miss once this was all over. For now, he was just glad to have Felicity beside him. Her presence was all he needed. It made all the pain, the suffering, the aching so much better.
Felicity reached over and grabbed her phone from off the nightstand. She opened the Pandora app and scrolled through her favorite stations before settling on folk rock. Expecting something along the lines of Mumford and Sons, she was surprised by the first track that began to play.
How many roads you've traveled
How many dreams you've chased
Across sand and sky and gravel
Looking for one safe place
It was Marc Cohn's "One Safe Place," a song she hadn't heard in quite some time. Felicity smiled. She found it funny how perfectly this song fit what was going on at this very moment.
Will you make a smoother landing
When you break your fall from grace
Into the arms of understanding
Looking for one safe place
Resting her cheek against Oliver's forehead, she ran her fingers through his hair again. His deep sigh made her wonder if there could be anything more between them. On numerous occasion an errant thought would lead her to daydream of a life together, but most of the time Felicity pushed those thoughts out of her mind reminding herself that Oliver Queen also had a dark side; a dark side she had become part of.
Oh, life is trial by fire
And love's the sweetest taste
And I pray it lifts us higher
To one safe place
She couldn't help but wonder what kind of hell he'd been through on that island to turn his life upside down. He rarely talked about it with her, and when he did, she could see the pain it brought to his eyes. It made Felicity want to do so much more than just listen. She wanted to give him a hug and tell him it was okay, that he no longer had to deal with it. But she couldn't. They were still in a very fragile place with their friendship.
These last few days, though… They'd thrown Felicity for a loop. Their friendship had gone from black and white to shades of gray. Oliver Queen was no longer at an arm's length; his arms were wrapped tightly around her as his head lay in the crook of her neck.
Felicity tried not to dwell on it. Being sick was no picnic. To find comfort in the arms of a friend was something everyone wanted. Oliver was by no means an exception to the rule. If anything, he needed a little more comfort than most, even if it meant blurring the lines of their relationship.
How many roads we've traveled
How many dreams we've chased
Across sand and sky and gravel
Looking for one safe place
With a soft sigh, Felicity ran her fingers through his hair once more before settling into the warmth of his embrace. To hell with lines, she thought. This was where she needed to be right now, her arms protectively wrapped around Oliver, comforting him to the best of her ability. If things got weird, she'd deal with them later. Tonight was all about being a good friend, shades of gray be damned.