Title: I Can Feel Your Heartbeat (Running Through Me)
Word Count: 3,976
Summary: Seven months they've been sleeping together, and tonight, whether Felicity wants him to or not, Oliver will define what 'they' are.
I Can Feel Your Heartbeat (Running Through Me)
Felicity was watching him sleep. Her head rested on the pillow next to his, her blonde hair in disarray, the only light from the outside street lamp coming in through the window, casting a shadow from the fire escape that slanted across his handsome face.
She knew he knew she was watching him because, even though he seemed to be asleep, she was pretty sure that he didn't know how 'not' to be aware of his surroundings. Something cultivated while he was away on the island, she knew, because prior to that, he was far too self-involved to care about the outside world. She might have felt bad for thinking that except she was well aware that the Oliver she knew was not the Oliver he once was. In fact, there were times that she thought the Oliver she knew hated his old self. But then, he was prone to hating himself in general.
Maybe hate was a strong word, but he blamed himself, burdened with the weight of a guilty conscience, and sometimes that looked like self-loathing. Personally, she thought he'd more than earned a little reprieve from the guilt train, but she was starting to think that complex heroes just didn't know how to operate without guilt to goad them forward. Don't get her wrong, because there were moments that she'd seen him brighten, she'd seen the chains of his past slough off his shoulders, letting him breath, finally, looking like he was free of the weight of what happened to him. But those moments were rare and she wasn't sure very many people had witnessed them.
Oliver had a collection of masks; metaphorically, of course. He didn't have like a closet full of masks; that would be weird. No, he had his public mask, where he was the egotistical, playboy billionaire they expected of him, the family mask where he was the good son who was just adapting to life off the island, the Hood mask where he was the avenger of Starling City and fighter for justice, and then there was the man without the mask…
"Felicity," he suddenly sighed, his brows hiked even as his eyes remained closed. "Go to sleep."
"I'm not tired," she argued, but then had to pinch her lips closed as a yawn threatened to reveal that um, yeah, okay, she actually was pretty tired.
Still, staring at him was always better than sleeping.
He cracked an eye open and arched an eyebrow.
Frowning, she perched her head on her hand. "Hey, no one's stopping you from sleeping." She waved a hand at him. "Feel free."
"I can't sleep when you're staring at me."
"I do it all the time, you should be used to it by now. I used to stare at you when you worked out, that never stopped you. If I'm not occupied with a computer, I'm usually staring at you… Now that I think about it, you may occupy too much of my time." She paused. "Not that I want to spend less time with you. I'm not like, trying to end this, whatever this is, I'm just… I was just noticing that I spend a lot of time, you know…"
"Staring at me," he finished, his lips twitching with amusement.
She laughed awkwardly under her breath and almost reached up to adjust her glasses, only to realize they were folded up on her bedside table. "Yeah."
Turning onto his side, he reached for her and pushed back a loose curl, tucking it behind her ear before his thumb rubbed down her earlobe affectionately. It was something he'd taken to doing the last few months, since she removed her earrings one night, wincing. The weight of some of them, especially her larger, metal feather ones, could be a bitch on her ears. Fashion hurt, she guessed. It shouldn't, according to Oliver, who liked to try and rub the pain away. She figured it was one of those things where he'd been through more than enough pain that he believed those close to him should never have to suffer any of it.
"I thought you were tired," she reminded, reaching up to touch his wrist. She meant to tug on it, to return his arm next to him, but then her fingers became distracted with his pulse and she found herself absently counting the beats. Sometimes, that was how she fell asleep. Her head on his chest, listening to his heart, counting each thud, like sheep hopping over the fence, until eventually she would slip away.
"Now I'm distracted."
His voice was deep and rough; not quite the raspy growl he got when he was the Hood, but something else. Something quite similar to his aroused voice, the one he used as he was stripping off her pencil skirt and untucking one of her brightly colored blouses, his fingers easily undoing the buttons as he locked eyes with her, removing every article of clothing she wore while he never let his eyes stray from her face, watching as she flushed and bit her lip and looked down to watch his large, steady hands move over her body.
"Hm?" Her eyes rose to his, brows furrowed. "Distracted by what?"
"Something you said."
Felicity tried to think back, but all she remember was one of her many moments of rambling. "I say a lot of things, usually without meaning to. Care to clarify?"
He didn't answer right away, simply staring at her.
Suddenly she got why that was so unnerving. Of course, Oliver's stare was a lot more penetrating than hers had been. She'd been taking in the planes of his face and the scruffy whiskers along his jaw and the ridiculously attractive curve of his lips. He looked like he was trying to put together a complicated puzzle and didn't have nearly enough pieces.
She shouldn't have been, but she was surprised when she found herself lying flat on the bed with him on top of her, comfortably cradled between her legs. He moved so quickly sometimes that her brain took a minute to catch up. It didn't help that she was still wracking her brain to figure out what had set him off while simultaneously distracted by his serious face. It wasn't quite brooding, which was a common expression when he was trying to work something out, but it was focused.
It was a little hard to think when a naked Oliver Queen was between her legs. In fact, she was pretty sure that was all she'd been thinking for the last seven months. If somebody were to ask her how she and Oliver started, she have to use the overused "It's complicated." Nobody would ask, because they were a strictly behind locked doors and closed shades thing (she hesitated to use the word relationship for fear that he would choke on air before laughing at her idealized understanding of their aforementioned thing). Of course, Oliver never really laughed at her and her eccentricities. In fact, he was one of the more accepting people she'd met, simply waiting until she finished rambling or interrupting before she could get herself too deep to remove the foot from her mouth. Her favorite of his ways of dealing though was when he smiled. And not an indulgent smile either, but a 'can't help it' smile where even he found himself a little surprised by his reaction.
Anyway, back on track, it was difficult for her to focus on the issue at hand, whatever that issue was, because Oliver, for all of his scars and dark persona and giant load of personal baggage, was incredibly handsome and muscular and did she mention naked? Because that couldn't be overstated. Of course, in the last seven months, she'd seen him naked a lot. She'd seen him naked in the training mats in the lair and on the desk in his office above Verdant and in the back of his car and on her couch, her floor, her bed, her shower, against her walls, atop her kitchen table, and repeat. But it never ceased to amaze her. She'd kissed every scar on his body, multiple times over, and they still kind of fascinated her. Not in a creepy 'I like torture' kind of way so much as a 'look at all you've been through and you're still so strong' sort of thing.
Seven months ago, a little over a year after they first met, he came back to the lair after a particularly nasty fight. His lip was split and his eye was already bruising, but it was the stress and the surge of still flowing adrenaline that had him pacing, his hands flexing. The itch to keep fighting to work it all out was still running high in him. She'd offered to help clean him up, his lip was bleeding and there was a tear in his suit over his ribs that she was pretty sure meant there was an open gash on his person, but he'd waved her off, too wound up. She fought him on it, wanting to help, like she often did, because somebody had to take care of him. Somehow 'help' had turned into him hiking her skirt up to her hips and working off the adrenaline another way. She wasn't complaining. At that point, it was one of the best experiences of her young life. The next seven months would challenge that. So their thing basically started then, but she and Oliver started long before that. Probably somewhere between, "Felicity Smoak? Hi… I'm Oliver Queen," and "Thank you…" Yeah, that sounded about right.
Focusing again, she shook her head, blinking and turning her eyes up to his face. His mouth was pursed and, without thinking, she reached up, letting her thumb trace his lower lip, pushing up at the corner until it looked like he was half-smiling.
"Better," she told him.
It caused the other corner of his mouth to lift up.
She smiled in answer and let her fingers briefly scrub over his scruff before dragging through his hair and sliding down behind his neck. "Also, FYI, much as I'd like to, I'm still a little sore from round three, just so we're on the same wave length," she told him, before nodding her head down to where his body was pressed against her own.
A short chuckle escaped him and his smile grew before he shook his head and turned his eyes up and away.
Feeling good that she'd potentially avoided whatever broody mess he was about to get stuck in, she mentally fist-pumped her victory.
But then she realized it was too early to assume she'd won, because his smile faded as he looked down at her once more.
Lowering his upper body until he was resting on his elbows, his chest even with hers, he tipped his head curiously. "What do you think we are?" he wondered.
Felicity went completely still, her eyes widening slightly. Noticing it for the self-preservation technique it was, she just barely restrained herself from swallowing her tongue. "We? Us? What, uh, what do I think…? Um…" She frowned. "I think night time is a bad time for a relationship status conversation. Not that I think this is a relationship! No! I just— That word worked, so I used it. I—I mean, what does relationship even mean, right? By dictionary definition, it can be as vague as an association or—or involvement of some kind. So I mean, when you put it that way, you and Diggle could be in a relationship!"
He blinked at her.
"Which, you know, wouldn't be bad. If—If you liked that kind of thing. I mean, your track record shows you don't, but sometimes people change and find something in someone that they weren't expecting and suddenly gender really doesn't matter, you know? I mean, well, no, I don't think you do know. Not—Not that you're stupid or wouldn't understand that. I just, I don't think you've ever had feelings for a man before. Well I'm sure you've had feelings. I'm pretty sure you feel something for Diggle, like brotherhood or kinship or—" She stopped herself, taking in a deep breath, and shook her head. "Can we just erase the last five minutes of words that shouldn't have come out of my mouth?"
Oliver licked his lips and finally let out a sigh. That deep disagreeable sigh she'd come to recognize all too well.
Oh god, he was going to break up with her. Or, well, whatever the equivalent of breaking up was when in a thing.
"Can we just sleep? Sleeping sounds really good. I'll try not to stare this time, okay?"
He returned to staring at her for a long moment and she found herself fidgeting under his scrutiny. If she'd been wearing a shirt, she would have tugged at the collar to feel some relief from the sudden feeling of suffocation. But she wasn't. She was as naked as he was. Usually a good thing, but not so much in this situation. She was okay with being naked physically with Oliver, but she felt more emotionally naked in that moment than anything else, and that left her a little on the vulnerable side. Not a place she particularly wanted to be.
"Do you remember when you met Thea?"
Felicity blinked. "Yeah…" she said, dragging the word out. "It was at Verdant; she came to talk to you and I accidentally interrupted because I got a hit on something…"
"Do you remember how I introduced you?"
She turned her eyes away as she thought back.
The club was opening in an hour and, without Tommy there to help out, Oliver had to spend more time making sure his business venture stayed afloat. Felicity had found him in his office more often lately, going over paperwork written up by the club promoters he'd hired to help him figure out a few themed nights he was planning on throwing.
Felicity was a knocker by nature, but after all the time she'd spent with Oliver, both in and out of bed, she'd lost all pretense of privacy around him, so it was really no surprise to him or her when she simply walked into his office, demanding his attention. It was, however, a surprise to his sister, who looked over, brows hiked as she took Felicity in curiously. They'd met in passing once before, when Walter had been rescued, but there was no direct introduction then.
"Wow, sorry, didn't know there was a family meeting going on. I, uh, I'll come back. It can wait," she said, beginning to back up toward the door.
But then Oliver was at her side, his hand on the small of her back, and he was nudging her forward, directly toward his sister, who was now smirking at him.
"Felicity, this is my sister Thea…" He waved a hand between the two women. "Thea, this is my… Felicity."
Thea stared up at him, her head cocked still, and finally grinned. "Well, it's nice to meet you 'Oliver's Felicity,'" she said, reaching a hand out.
"Oh, uh…" Felicity fumbled awkwardly, sticking her iPad in her other hand so she could meet Thea's offered handshake. "Thanks, you too, I think. Or, well, I mean, I know it's nice to meet you. I just…" She folded her lips. "I'm gonna stop now, before I make this worse."
Thea laughed before biting her lip. "Okay."
"Okay." Felicity looked up at Oliver, who turned his head down to see her. "I'm going to go do… something. So just text me when you're done and I'll come back so we can discuss that thing about the other thing."
His lips curled faintly in a helplessly amused smile and he nodded at her.
Offering a wave to Thea, Felicity turned, making her way out of the office, closing the door behind herself and letting out a heavy breath. It wasn't the worst introduction, but it definitely could have gone better…
Returning her gaze to Oliver's, she answered, "I remember thoroughly embarrassing myself… like usual."
He nodded, grinding his teeth for a moment, before finally telling her, "I don't know what we are. I didn't know how to tell her who you were because I wasn't sure… You're not just an IT girl or my friend, you're something else, something important to me. But we've never discussed it and I think you might have an idea of what we are that… isn't the same as mine."
Felicity swallowed tightly. "No, no, I—I have no ideas. There are no ideas that I have about what we are."
His jaw ticked and he looked away. "See, that's the problem."
Her brow knotted. "Wait, I— I'm confused…"
"Felicity," he sighed.
He lowered his head, resting his chin on top of her chest, and reached up, brushing her hair back from her face before he traced her ears and lightly rubbed the lobes again. "We're not a thing."
Her heart thudded in her chest, hard and heavy, before it swooped down to her stomach. "Okay…" She blinked a few times, hoping the darkness of the room was covering the sting of tears she could feel building in her eyes.
"I mean… I—I want us to be more than that…" He stared at her searchingly. "This, what we've been doing, keeping it hidden, coming up with excuses, I'm tired of it…" He shook his head. "Things are changing. I… I don't know when or if I'll ever hang up the Hood, but I know that I can't keep putting my life on hold because of it…" He let that sink in for a moment before continuing. "So the next time Oliver Queen steps out into the public eye and has to face down an army of cameras, he's hoping he'll have his long-time, monogamous girlfriend with him."
Her heart jumped out of her stomach and re-found its place in her chest, beating faster than ever before. Panicking, she started wiggling underneath him, her breathing choppy as she blurted out, "Oh my god, what does a heart attack feel like? I can't breathe! Is that a symptom?"
"Just—Just gimme a second." She held a hand up. "Five seconds ago, I thought you were trying to end our thing and now you're telling me you—you want to go public an- and I'm your girlfriend and that is just—It is a lot to process."
"Well, you're a genius, so it shouldn't take too long."
Slapping his shoulder, she raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
He merely stifled an amused grin.
"Oliver, this is big. This is—It's huge and I'm not sure that you've really thought it through. I mean, your whole image is the old you. And the old you would not be dating his quirky IT girl, at least not publically. Laurel, sure. The public expects that. You guys have history. But me? It looks like I came out of nowhere, and they're not going to get why you've suddenly got completely different standards. It's going to cause questions and speculation and then they'll start to wonder if you're growing up and maturing and that's not the old Oliver at all, which puts you and the Hood too much at risk. So no, it's not worth it, I won't let you do it, we'll just have to continue with the thing."
She nodded firmly before pausing and frowning. "Or, well, unless you don't want to, and then this conversation is going to get really awkward and I'm going to want to put clothes on and possibly hide behind my bathroom door until you leave so you don't see me cry. And then things are going to be really uncomfortable at the lair and Diggle's going to notice and he'll comment on it and I won't know what to say so I'll make up some really dumb excuse that he'll see right through and—"
"We're not breaking up, so that's a moot point."
"Of course we're not breaking up, you can't break up a thing because you were never really together to begin with!"
Sighing exasperatedly, he raised an eyebrow. "Are you done?"
"I'm not sure." She turned her eyes up and waited to see if her mouth had any more embarrassing word vomit to expel. When it didn't, she nodded. "I think so."
"Okay, great." His hand slid to her chin and his thumb tapped it before he leaned up and kissed her. One long, dragging kiss that made her toes curl and her fingers dig into his shoulders. As he drew away, he kissed her once, twice more, suckling her bottom lip, biting the edge gently, and then told her, simply, "I'm in love with you, and we're going public next Friday when I tell my mother I'm bringing my girlfriend along to the charity event she's forcing me to attend."
Pressing one last kiss to her lips, he rolled over to his side of her bed and drew her along with him until her head was nestled atop his chest, their legs twined together, and his arm circling her, fingers curled around her shoulder.
She opened her mouth four different times, but words inexplicably escaped her. The one time she wished she could speak and it seemed her tongue would not cooperate. Instead, she turned her head to look at him. His eyes were closed, his whole face completely relaxed, as if he was already half-way to sleep.
Seven months of a thing where she told herself not to define it, not to delve too deep, not to question where it was going or what it even meant. She'd told herself to just enjoy the incredible sex they were having and not pick apart all of the tender moments after or before or the times there was no sex at all and it was just Chinese food and her making him watch relax and watch TV. Seven months of deliberately not letting herself think about all the morning she woke up and he'd gone down to get her favorite coffee, putting it on her end table before kissing her awake. All that time and energy spent and in five minutes he'd basically told her that he wanted them to have a long-term, fulfilling relationship that was recognized by both his family and the public. Oh, and that he was in love with her. She would be lying if she said she hadn't been hoping to hear him say that to her one day. She'd also be lying if she said she hadn't been hoping for that for a lot longer than just the seven months they'd been sleeping together.
"I thought we agree no more staring," he said, his chest vibrating under chin.
She smiled. "You love it."
His lips twitched up at the corners.
He opened an eye, brow quirked questioningly.
She bit her lip and dropped her gaze for just a second. "I love you too."
He smiled then, full and sincere; there were no masks to be seen. It was just pure, real Oliver.
She stretched up and kissed his grinning lips, nuzzling her nose against his until she heard his rumbling chuckle, and then she rested her head once more on his chest, cuddling herself against his side as she closed her eyes and counted his heartbeats.
Tomorrow, she would freak out about finding something to wear and being introduced to high society as his girlfriend. She would worry about having to impress his mother and constantly putting her foot in her mouth. But, for right now, she was content.
Felicity fell asleep listening to his steady heart, unaware that his fingers were tapping her heartbeat out against her shoulder.
They were in sync.