A/N: Well, this was suppose to be trope#5, but it started going so well, and I loved the direction it was heading I decided to make it it's own story. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading!
Felicity pinched the bridge of her nose under her glasses and skimmed the file in front of her once again. Even though she'd been through it half a dozen times, and came to the same conclusion each of those, she was still trying to find a different solution.
Because she knew Oliver wasn't going to like what she had come up with.
Ever since the Glades had been hit and they'd moved back into the lair Oliver had been overly over protective. To be fair, the area was a mess. Looters ran rampant, there had been breakouts from the prison, and the city wasn't doing much about it.
By the time Oliver had drug himself out of his self imposed hole of guilt there had been a lot of work to do. He and Digg patrolled nightly, coming back in the wee hours of the morning for her to patch up, and admonish.
Oliver barely let her walk ten feet to her car when she left for the night. One of the boys, or even the bouncers would escort her. She'd made fun of him for it once, early on, but the stark fear in his eyes and the echoes of him pleading with Tommy to live shocked her silent and she'd mutely nodded her acquiescence.
Even all these months later he'd kept her safe in the lair. She hadn't been on any mission other than via the comms since she'd gone into that casino.
Sighing heavily she pushed back from her computer and wondered how she was going to convince him her plan was the only way.
Oliver and Digg were back sooner than she expected which only made her tension level that much higher.
"Got anything on Mason yet?" Oliver asked as he came in, tossing his bow and quiver on the nearest flat surface and pushing the hood back off of his face.
She gave him a pointed look and a raised eyebrow. They'd had the 'put your things back where they belong' conversation several times now. He merely returned her look with one of his own and ignored her. Digg shook his head at both of them.
Felicity felt her lips draw into a tight smile as she turned in her chair to look at him, her hands wringing in front of her. "I do." she said slowly
Oliver paused and studied her, "Why do I have the feeling I'm not going to like this?" he asked, his body immediately going on alert as he stood before her, feet spread and arms crossed.
"Because you're not. But it's the only way, and you need to hear me out entirely before you start flaring nostrils, and glowering, and doing that thing you do where you whisper shout." she blinked up at him as the growing annoyance crossed his face, "Ok?"
His gaze held hers, muscle in his jaw ticking as he gave a barely perceptible nod.
"Ok then," she began, knowing all too well that he was not going to be able to hold up his end of the bargain once he had all the information.
"We know that Mason is extraordinarily paranoid. To the point that he lives in a five million dollar mansion by himself. No staff, security only allowed outside the house, and no one gets in." Oliver hadn't even breathed as he waited for her to drop the bomb on him.
Felicity gave him a hopeful smile and took a deep breath, "Except he does allow one person in. After going over the last year of this guy's life I've been able to detect a pattern. As careful as he is, he likes the ladies, and he seems to think we're all idiots because after he's been on a couple of dates with them he takes them back to his house for the night." she bit her lip as she waited.
Digg was the first who got it. He was propelled to his feet and came to flank Oliver who still stared at her stony faced.
With a sigh she turned back to the monitor and pulled up a screen she'd had prepared. Pictures of Mason with a number of different women on his arm. All of them blonde.
She could almost feel the change in the air when Oliver understood what she was proposing. She cringed in her seat as she awaited the inevitable blowup.
However, all she heard was a low, "No." and then he was gone.
Silence fell over the space until Digg cleared his throat, "I'll go talk to him."
She could hear muffled thumps and crashes from the training room, and wondered how much talking was going on, and how much of it was just Digg letting Oliver express himself through violence.
It was almost two hours later when they returned. Infinitely sweatier, and with a few more bruises than they had earlier.
Felicity almost made a quip until she saw the look on Oliver's face. She swallowed it down quickly.
"If," he started, "If I agree to this we're going to do this my way." she'd never heard him so serious before, not even when he was telling her to leave the Glades.
"What have you come up with?" he was at his most intimidating, and she tried not to let that show.
Figuring it was best to just stick to the facts she pulled up everything she had on Mason and spread it across all three of her screens. "Mason's track record suggests he likes young, pretty, blondes who are better at looking good in a dress then asking questions that make him uneasy. He usually meets them at invitation only events, like private parties, charity auctions, galas, and the like. My theory is he perceives the invitation as some sort of vetting process. If someone's on the list they're automatically more trustworthy. I don't know, doesn't make that much sense to me, but I'm not the..." she trailed off at the annoyed growl that came from over her shoulder.
"Right. Moving on. Mason has rsvp'd to a party this Friday. I'll work my magic to get in, and after that I'll just make sure I bump into Mason, sound appropriately vapid, and wait for him to ask me out. It'll take a few dates before I get access to the house, but once I do I can log on to his computer and get the rest of the information we need." Felicity hoped she'd sounded completely detached, like she was talking about going to the grocery store and picking up what she needed to make dinner.
Oliver was silent.
It was Digg that spoke up, "How are you going to stay safe?" he asked the one question she knew Oliver needed the answer to above all.
"Mason doesn't have a history of violence. He's paranoid, and slightly off his rocker, but I don't think he's dangerous." her thoughts went to the number of lives he'd ruined in his dirty business dealings and amended her statement, "Well, I don't think there's a threat of physical danger I should say." she risked a glance at Oliver but he wasn't looking at her, he was studying her intel.
"I'll only meet with him in public. He likes to take his ladies to smaller, lesser known spots around the city. I will, of course, be on the comms the entire time, have whatever weapon Digg deems appropriate in my bag, and when I get invited back to his house I will have enough knock out pills to take down an elephant." she said this all in a rush.
Oliver was quiet for a long while before turning to look at Digg. "It's a solid plan." the other man said
Oliver's eyes shut tight for a moment, "I'll agree to this, but with one change."
Felicity waited in anticipation for his caveat.
"I'm your tail the entire time." his look dared her to challenge him.
With a tight nod she agreed to his terms. "Of course. Good idea. I'd love to have you on my tail." her mouth clamped shut as she realized what she'd said. "I didn't mean my actual tail because that would be...just...I should...stop. I should just stop talking now."
Oliver disappeared after that. Digg helped her hash out the details of her cover. Felicity hacked the computer of the society maven hosting the event and discovered who wasn't coming. It wasn't difficult to pick one of the older invitees and concoct a story about her being a grand niece who was in town visiting. She adjusted the guest list accordingly and when she came across a to-do list which had last minute reminders for the caterer on it Felicity added a note about extra crab puffs. She loved crab puffs.
They didn't discuss the plans the rest of the week. On Friday, after her regular workday she hurried home to change for the party. Since she'd done such heavy research into Mason she knew his type. Bright dresses, short skirts, and big hair. And the more cleavage the better.
The dress she'd chosen met all the criteria. She curled her hair a bit more, put on her highest heels, which she knew she'd regret almost immediately, and slipped her contacts in before giving herself an appraising look.
When she arrived at Verdant she walked in like she normally would, but Digg's long, low whistle when he caught sight of her made her blush. "Stop it." she commanded
"I don't think you need to worry. You look exactly like Mason's type." he said
"Aww, Digg, I think that's the nicest way anyone's ever told me I looked like a tramp before." she joked as she pulled the box out that held all the ear pieces.
Oliver entered from the training room, his hair fresh from a shower, and she almost missed the stutter in his step as he laid eyes on her. Her stomach did a little flip that he'd noticed.
"Let me see your bag." Digg said and she passed him the small clutch. He sighed when he saw the size, "You didn't have anything bigger?"
"Sorry, not that would go with this dress." he gave her a look of irritation and stalked off to the weapons closet.
Felicity busied herself with setting up the comms link. With her hair down, the small ear piece wouldn't be noticeable.
When Digg returned he showed her where he'd slipped a small dagger, a panic button she could press if things were going south and she couldn't speak, and the burner phone she'd be using as her cover. She patted his arm in thanks and suppressed a small shudder as she caught a glimpse of the knife.
Digg was behind her desk, pulling up the necessary program that would keep her linked with the lair the entire time she was gone. A few more tests and she was ready. As she crossed to the printer to grab her fake invitation Oliver stopped her.
"Here," he said and handed her a small blue box. She looked at him quizzically because the box looked suspiciously like a jewelry box and she had no idea why he'd be doing that.
"What is this?" she asked as she reached out to take it.
"Just open it." he said before turning to gather his Hood outfit and weapons in case he needed them.
She lifted the lid and gasped. Inside lay an ornate hair clip studded with diamonds, pearls, and one ruby in the center. "Oliver...I don't..." she knew it was real, and very expensive. There was also something timeless about it.
Oliver barely looked up at her words. "I installed a GPS tracker in it. If for some reason you get separated from me I'll be able to find you."
Her breath caught in her throat as his words held more weight then she thought either of them expected.
"It's beautiful, Oliver. Thank you, I'll take good care of it." she assured him.
Digg grabbed the invitation for her and handed it over, but not before leaning in to whisper, "We made a visit to the Queen vault at the bank two days ago for him to get that piece out. Just thought you should know."
Digg's revelation shocked her to her core. She almost didn't notice when Oliver stepped up to her and took the box from her hands. She stood completely still as he pulled back a sweep of hair from her face and affixed the clip. Their eyes met and for just a moment he allowed her to see how worried he was.
His hand had fallen to her shoulder and she reached up to grip his wrist. "Don't worry, I'll bring it back in one piece." she said, both of them knowing she wasn't talking about the clip.
"You'd better, it's important to me." he responded gruffly before turning away abruptly. "I'm leaving now." he said, picking up his bag, "I'll be outside the party all night if you need anything and I'll be on the comms as well."
Nothing else was said as he took the stairs two at a time and disappeared through the door.
"You sure about this?" Digg asked as he settled down in front of the monitors
"No," she answered honestly, "But there really isn't another way."
Digg gave her a hand look and then slid the keys to the Mercedes across the desk. "Be careful. We've got your back."
Felicity squared her shoulders and gave him a tentative smile. "I know."
The car was parked out back. She'd decided to drive herself in order to keep anyone from making any connections between her and Oliver. The drive over gave her just enough time to start to freak out about what she was doing. She'd taken the time to prep every aspect of this mission, except for the one where she'd have to seduce this man; or at least let him think he was seducing her. That part made her skin crawl and she hoped she'd be able to pull it off.
"Pulling up to the house now." Felicity said quietly
"You just passed me." Oliver confirmed and a bit of calm settled over her just knowing he was close.
She climbed out of the car on shaky legs and handed the keys over to the valet before climbing the steps and giving her invitation to the man at the door. "Megan Anderson," she said politely,
"Cocktails are in the front parlor, Miss." he said robotically
They had chosen a Colonel Robert Anderson as her absent 'uncle'. Oliver had said he was one of those people who had to be invited to these things but never showed up. No one would bat an eye at her being there in his place because no one really knew who he was.
Her first test was making it past the hostess. The woman had perfectly coiffed hair, a lovely cream colored dress, and the most fake smile Felicity had ever seen. "Hello, so lovely for you to join us this evening." she said formally as she held her hand out to shake.
Felicity took her hand, "So glad I could make it."
The hostess cocked her head to the side and studied her for a brief moment, "Have we met dear? You look familiar but..."
"Oh, I'm afraid not. I'm Megan Anderson from Metropolis. My great uncle is Colonel Robert Anderson, he sends his regards." Felicity said smoothly
"Colonel Anderson, of course. So sorry he could't make it. But we're very glad you could come in his place. Please enjoy your evening." and before Felicity could reply the woman had moved on to the next guest.
"Well, that wasn't so bad." she said under her breath as she made a bee-line for a glass of champagne.
"You're doing good, Felicity." Digg said soothingly
She had purposely chosen this party because the guest list was relatively small. She was relying on the likelihood that there wouldn't be too many other women here that matched her description. As she looked around it seemed like she was right. She could only see two other women anywhere close to her age and they were both brunettes.
"Any sign of Mason?" Oliver asked
"Not yet," she said softly, taking a glass of bubbly from the nearest waiter and downing half in one gulp.
It was thirty long minutes of random small talk, and wandering about before she saw Mason.
She spied him talking to other guests and she casually made her way to where the bartender was set up. She took another glass of champagne and when she raised it to take a sip she let Oliver and Digg know, "Mason has arrived."
"Be smart," Digg said
"Aren't I always?" she replied with more confidence than she actually felt, running a hand lightly over her hair and feeling the clip Oliver had given her, the security it represented giving her the courage she needed.
Felicity let her clutch rest on the bar top and stood directly in Mason's eye line as she looked around the room as if she didn't have a care in the world. Sure enough, in only a few minutes she felt a presence at her elbow.
"Two fingers of bourbon and whatever the lady's having." a voice said from behind her and she turned to see Mason.
"Oh, wow, thanks." she said, a little breathless, which wasn't an act, but worked for her cover. She finished the glass she had with a flourish and picked up the next one.
"Charles Mason," he said smoothly and held his hand out. She took it immediately, remembering to just lay her palm in his instead of giving him the normal handshake she'd typically use.
"Megan Anderson," she replied with a smile, "Thanks for being so nice. I don't know anyone here and it's been kind of lonely."
"Well, it seemed a shame, a lovely woman like you standing all alone. I couldn't allow that to continue." Mason managed to deliver the line without sounding smarmy or cliche which was a feat. Felicity heard Oliver let out a huff of annoyance in her ear.
"I'm glad you rescued me then." she flashed him a dazzling smile and lapsed into small talk.
She made up a story on the fly about her days on the Metropolis social scene, only reining back the increasingly convoluted tale when Digg loudly cleared his throat and told her she should probably let Mason do the talking. She flushed and giggled which Mason seemed to like. He ordered her another glass of champagne and she was shocked to discover she'd finished the second.
"Careful, Felicity, you don't want to get drunk." it was the first she'd heard from Oliver in a while.
"No, I couldn't, really, I think I've already had more than enough." she protested, and allowed her ankle to wobble slightly. She laid her hand on Mason's arm for balance and he took the open invitation.
"How about we go get some food in you and find a quieter place to talk." he slipped her hand into his elbow and began to lead her away.
"That sounds perfect!" she said with a touch too much enthusiasm, but he loved it as he drew her in closer.
He'd found them a secluded corner with a small two seater couch. She nursed her last glass of champagne and nibbled on her fourth crab cake as he talked to her. When his hand landed on her bare knee she had to keep herself from pushing it off.
Apparently once he decided he liked a girl he just went in for the kill. His fingers trailed over her shoulder, the hand on her knee drew little circles and played with the hem of her dress. She swallowed down a grimace and didn't break his hand like she wanted to.
Felicity gave him a coy smile and slid a little closer. When he asked what she was doing the following evening she had to suppress her urge to thrust her fist in the air in victory. She was in.
"I'm only here for a week, but I'd love to see more of the city." she told him
"Then you must let me take you out." he said excitedly.
She gave him the number to her burner cell and then claimed an early morning breakfast with her uncle. He promised to call the next day and insisted on walking her out.
"I had such a great time," she effused
"We'll have an even better time tomorrow." his look almost bordered on a leer, but he was too in control to allow that to slip. "Until tomorrow," he said, lifting one hand to stroke over her cheekbone.
She slid behind the wheel and drove off without looking back.
Just as she was about to announce she'd left she heard Oliver.
"I'm right behind you." he said darkly, and a shot went through her, wondering if he'd seen anything.
Her eyes lifted to the rearview mirror, to catch the single headlight of his motorcycle. "On my way back." she said unnecessarily, spending the rest of the drive in silence.
When they pulled into the parking lot behind the club she let her hands rest on the steering wheel and took a moment after she'd turned the car off. Oliver's sudden opening of her door made her jump.
"Phase one complete," she said nervously, not liking the tense look on his face.
He silently held his hand out and helped her from the car, not letting her go until they had gone several steps.
She had no idea why Oliver was behaving this way. Well, maybe she did. He'd taken Tommy's death hard, putting the people around him at risk was a very real fear for him.
"Good job, Smoak." Digg called out as she made her way down the stairs
"Thanks," she replied, her eyes quickly scanning some of the searches she'd left running. "Acting like an idiot is harder than it looks."
"Well you pulled it off well." Digg assured her, "Mason seemed taken with you."
Oliver's bag clanged onto the table with more force than necessary.
Felicity gave Digg a small laugh, "Yeah well, like I said, he has a type. It wasn't that hard. Although I could have done without his hands all over me, that was just icky." she'd said the words before she'd considered what the reaction would be.
Oliver went still and then stalked past her, the door to the training room banging shut behind him. Digg stood up and made his way to her. "Felicity...you don't have to do this. If it's too much..." his voice was hard though, as if he was also having trouble controlling what he really wanted to say.
"I'm okay, Digg, promise." she hoped she sounded genuine
"Then I'm out of here. See you tomorrow for Phase two. Goodnight." he said
Felicity could already hear the sharp tattoo as Oliver whipped the wooden sticks against the form. With a sigh she replaced the ear piece and put the dagger and panic button back where they belonged.
She was about to leave when she spied the blue box the hair clip had come in and remembered she was still wearing it. Slowly she pulled it out and turned it over in her hands. The diamonds and ruby caught every bit of light in the room and glittered brightly. When she turned it over she saw there was a tiny inscription in the back. Looking closely she saw it read: 'All my love, always-OQ'.
Her breath caught in her throat as she stared at the words. She took a shaky breath and shook her head, at her own ridiculous thoughts. This clearly belonged to some long dead ancestor who just happened to share the same initials as Oliver.
She clutched the clip tightly in her palm as she approached the training room. When she slid the door open she saw Oliver, shirtless, his back to her, as he pummeled the practice dummy in front of him.
She knew he was aware she'd entered, so she leaned against the door jamb and waited for him to acknowledge her.
When he finally stopped he was dripping with sweat and breathing heavily. He put the sticks away, grabbed a towel, and a bottle of water, and then turned towards her.
"I don't like it." he said suddenly, taking her by surprise.
Her mouth instantly dry, she had to lick her lips before she could reply, "Why not?"
Tension crackled in the air as he slowly approached.
"You shouldn't be putting yourself at risk. That's what Digg and I are for." he went for the easy answer, as she knew he would.
"Well, if either of you were his type I would have gladly stepped back. But in this case I was the person for the job. We're a team, this is what we do." he stopped two feet from her and she could feel the heat coming off his body.
His eyes locked with hers, "I still don't like it." She knew there was so much more he wasn't saying.
"I just came to give you this back." she said and held out the clip
"Keep it. I want you to use it again." he said quickly
"It obviously costs a fortune, and it belonged to one of your ancestors. I'd hate to lose it." she protested, trying again to give it back.
His hand clamped over hers and held it still. "It's just some junk costume jewelry I put the transmitter in, that's all."
She scoffed at him. "Oliver, this piece is easily worth several thousands of dollars. I don't own much good jewelry, but I know it when I see it. This is not junk. Besides, there's an inscription on it from another OQ."
She tugged slightly and felt him loosen his grip. When she unfurled her fingers he plucked the clip from her palm and held it up to the light.
"All my love, always. OQ." he read aloud to himself, but it made her heart stutter to hear him say the words.
"Must have been my great-grandfather. Another Oliver, it's where I got my name from." he explained, not looking ashamed at all for trying to tell her it was costume jewelry.
"Which is yet another reason why you should hold on to it. I shouldn't be responsible for something your namesake gave your great-grandmother."
He took her hand again, and she couldn't ignore the tingle that went down her spine at the contact. He laid the piece back in her hand and slowly closed her fingers back around it. "I want you to keep it." he said it with such weight she could do nothing but nod in agreement.
She didn't trust her voice, so she just backed away slowly and left. Before she made it to the stairs she could already hear the distinctive ring of the metal bar on the salmon ladder and knew he wouldn't be leaving for awhile.
Half an hour later she stood in front of her dresser and considered the clip she still held. With a trembling hand she opened the small case that held her most treasured possessions.
Inside lay her grandmother's pearls, and the diamond earrings she'd received on her eighteenth birthday. They were the only two pieces of jewelry she owned that were actually worth something. She placed the hair clip next to them, lightly running her finger over the ruby, its shine quieted by the lack of light.
As she climbed into bed that night she refused to think about the case and how her past and Oliver's were sharing a space, and the feelings that gave her.