a/n: so my muse basically threw up all over the place today. idek what this is, guys, and i'm sorry for any possible incoherencies you might find. and yeah, i didn't really include the details of what happened. i'm not that good at action scenes; sorry. ideally, this might take place around season 3-ish. story title comes from running up that hill by placebo.
thunder in our hearts, baby
A gunshot wound is a bitch.
Aside from that, the first thing she realizes as she comes to is that she can't see anything past the end of the bed she's currently laying on; something that her limited eyesight does tell her, however, is that her glasses are right next to her on the small surface table that's connected to her IV.
She pulls them on, and as the room comes into focus, she registers that, holy cow, there's an actual sofa─not just a chair, not just a loveseat, but a sofa─lining the wall to her left, and it's all dim lighting and...is that a legitimate plasma television screen that's hanging in front of her?! The sheets of the bed she's laying on aren't made of the scratchy, generic material she'd expected, and the pillow she's resting on doesn't make her want to throw it against the wall in frustration at its lack of fluff.
Before she can blanch at the thought of what all this extravagance must be doing to her checking account, she sees Oliver standing in front of the ceiling-to-floor glass window on the far end of her room, both hands stuffed in the pockets of his navy designer slacks. After the night she's had and the insurmountable fear that's been in her throat for the better part of the evening, the relief that weaves its way through her body at the sight of him is almost unbearable.
"Hey, you," she rasps in greeting, before clearing her throat and frowning when she notices that the room seems to be vacant of the other half of what she's taken to calling the 'Fearless Foursome'; the three males in her life claim to hate the name, but there's no mistaking the glint of pride and affection in their eyes whenever she brings it up, so. "Where's John? And Roy?"
He doesn't turn. "I told them to go home for the night. They promised to be back first thing tomorrow morning, comfort food and embarrassing balloons in tow."
She grins. "The perfect regime for this type of situation, I'm sure."
The muscles in his back stiffen at her words, and she can't help but feel the tension in the room increase with every passing second that he doesn't respond. Her eyes flicker to the window he's standing in front of, and she faintly registers the eerie stillness of his silhouette against the stark white of the hospital's walls, cast by the moonlight infiltrating the glass.
Then it hits her; moonlight.
"What time is it?"
"Half past midnight."
Her eyebrows furrow. "Aren't visiting hours over at ten?"
He does look at her this time, turning just slightly enough for her to catch glimpse of the dubious eyebrow he's raised in her direction, and she distinctly remembers Digg's words from when she first started working with them; you really have no idea how rich his family is, do you?
"Right, of course," she laughs, taking pity on the poor receptionist who he undoubtedly charmed his way around the rules through. The poor woman must still be fanning herself off. "It's so easy to forget you're also Starling City's most attractive and eligible bachelor sometimes─well that's what the magazines say...not that I don't notice those things, 'cause I do! I mean, I wear glasses, so I basically see all your attractiveness and eligibility in high definition on a daily basis...but I guess you don't really pay attention to that sorta thing anymore, what with your double-identity and all, which still baffles me, by the way. You're like Hannah Montana, except not really, but you get what I mean. Were you even around when that was a─"
"Oh, took you long enough," she admonishes, cursing the flush that coats her cheeks. As per usual, Oliver ignores her tendency to ramble in favor of staring broodingly off into the distance. "By the way, we're going to have a long, in-depth conversation about boundaries, mister, because if I could barely afford to buy myself a dress for the shindig that took place just a few hours ago, there's no way in hell I'd be able to─"
She moves to sit upright, only to gasp when she feels a blinding pain in her right side. Oliver immediately jumps into action, hands reaching for her forearm to assist her in situating herself. Once she's half-sitting, half-laying on her left side in what she can only deem a tolerable-at-best position, she smiles up at him in thanks, only to frown when she's met with a resounding glare that she's all too familiar with.
He steps back as if her skin scalded him and runs his hand through his short-cropped hair. "Of course I'm─Felicity, the doctors said that if the bullet had hit even a half of an inch to the right, it would've ruptured your internal organs and you would've died from blood loss on site," he explains, fixing her with a steely gaze to rival all past steely gazes. Needless to say, the desire to shrink back into her pillows and conceal her face with the high-thread count bedspread is almost too strong to refuse. "How could you have been so stupid?"
She rolls her eyes then, uneasiness ebbing away only to be replaced with disbelief. She raises her index finger, "First of all, you're welcome, Oliver, it was no problem saving your life. I expect wine. And lots of it," she emphasizes, raising another digit. "Secondly, I don't happen to be efficient in any sort of weapon-training. I mean, you were there; you heard me refer to nunchucks as swirly sticks and then proceeded to mock me for the rest of the night. I did what I could with what I had, which turned out to be only instinct." She knows him well enough by now, so it's no surprise to her that her attempt to distract him with humor was futile, since all it's managed to do is intensify his scowl. She sighs."What do you want me to do? Apologize?"
He stays silent, but the daggers he's sending her way are speaking volumes for everything he isn't saying.
She straightens her posture as much as she can considering her current position and raises her chin defiantly, refusing to crumble under the all-too-familiar─yet still impressively effective─glare. "Not gonna happen, buddy; I'm not sorry for getting my Matrix on and being a total badass," she admits, eyes widening as something occurs to her. "Please tell me you got the security footage from the event so I can spend endless days fawning over how awesome I am."
A muscle in his jaw ticks. "You could've died."
"But I didn't," she reminds him, pointing a finger at him and accentuating the 'U' sound.
Judging by the way his palms are beginning to quake against his sides, Felicity wouldn't bet on him appreciating her attempts at lightening the situation with her blasé demeanor.
"It was too close of a call; how am I supposed to trust you out in the field again after that stunt you pulled?"
She scoffs. "You're unbelievable; I'm fine."
"Not because you executed a plan, but because you got lucky! Luck isn't something that holds a whole lot of credibility when it comes to what we do, Felicity─when it comes to keeping you safe," he retaliates, nostrils flaring.
Try as she might to control it, Felicity feels her own temper begin to reach its boiling point as Oliver keeps flinging accusation after accusation at her.
If her life were a movie─with the non-stop action, life-threatening circumstances that occur every other day, and the fact that she's constantly surrounded by three extremely attractive men that seem to live their lives in a shirtless, sweaty, testosterone-filled monologue, she guarantees it'd be a blockbuster─Oliver would've realized his unyielding love for her right after being faced with the prospect of losing her.
Alas, this is her life, where she dresses up in a plum-colored cocktail dress, attends a gala with her three sinfully-gorgeous-yet-unattainable-beyond-belief co-workers, gets shot by an unexpected rogue villain in order to save the man behind their entire purpose, and wakes up in a hospital only to have said man look at her like she makes it a habit of hers to go out and kick puppies for fun.
Conclusion? Nobody would go watch her life and it'd get the most rotten rating in Rotten Tomatoes history.
Her fingers fiddle with the hem of her bedspread as she takes a tentative breath to assure her voice is steady before she responds. "I knew the risks, Oliver."
This seems to send him over the edge.
Felicity can do nothing but watch in stunned silence as he balls his hands into fists and punches the wall in front of him, leaving a dent with cracks stemming out into the plaster in every direction. He stands there, panting, head bowed before the destruction he inflicted.
He begins to approach her after several seconds, and she can't help but flinch with every step he takes closer; she knows he'd never do anything to hurt her, but there's something feral and unhinged in his eyes that frightens her. He notices her reaction and digs his nails into his palms, taking a deep breath as he moves to stand in the position she found him in when she regained consciousness, and she's torn between feeling grateful for his distance and missing his closeness.
When he speaks again, his voice is eerily calm.
"Did you even take a nanosecond to ponder the consequences? Like what's going to happen now that whoever sent that hitman knows I'm still alive? And why, exactly, the blonde IT consultant for Queen Consolidated cares enough about the irresponsible playboy to jump in front of a bullet for him?" His voice is strained as he finishes that last sentence, and she can only imagine the insurmountable guilt seeping its way into his conscience. Before she can even think about saying something, he chuckles, a noise that does nothing to conceal his anger. "Did you know that you flatlined on the way here? That I had to sit there and pretend like you were nothing more than an employee I'd seen once or twice as paramedics scrambled around looking for the defibrillator to start up your heart again? Tell me, again, how that is even remotely close to you being fine."
"What was I supposed to do?! Let you die?" she yells, eyes brimming with unshed tears when the hard lines of his expression let her know what his answer is. Does he honestly believe she's capable of not doing anything? Doesn't he know that she─that she─ "Look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn't have done the exact same if the roles had been reversed. If you saw someone about to pull the trigger on my unsuspecting back, how would you have reacted? Because, call me crazy, but something tells me that standing there and letting it happen wouldn't even be an option."
He turns his back to her. "I have to seriously consider whether or not you should keep working with us."
She gapes, sitting up abruptly, the pain in her side going unnoticed in favor of the sucker punch he just delivered to her heart. "Are you─wow. Screw you, Oliver, and your inability to accept that the weight of every unfortunate circumstance doesn't fall on your shoulders. It's not your fault that I'm in this hospital bed, and even if it were, I don't expect you to be my savior; I expect you to be my partner." She straightens her posture and wipes away the few traitor tears that managed to escape, despite the fact that he still isn't looking at her. "You want me out of the team? Fine. But just know that I'd do this all over again if I had the chance; the city can do without one extra IT girl, but it can't do without Oliver Queen and his secret hero complex."
She can visibly see the coils in his back wind up before he turns around, looking more murderous than she's ever seen him. "Stop talking."
Refusing to let the tone of his voice deter her, she continues, "Hit a nerve there, did I?"
"Felicity," he growls. "Stop. Talking."
She glances up to see the plea accompanying the contained anger in his expression and relents with a huff, moving to return to her original position on her side, the discomfort of her wound much more pronounced now that it can't hide behind her blatant distress. In spite of her best efforts, white-hot pain reminds her that it is still very much present and she can't help the whimper that escapes through her lips.
Instinctively, Oliver reaches for her, but she holds up a hand before his can reach her shoulder. His eyes stay trained on her as she bites her lip and struggles to get as comfortable as she'd been when he helped position her, but after two minutes of embarrassing squirming, she releases an exasperated sigh and looks up at him in defeat.
Without a word, he pulls back her bedspread, and before she can let out the appalled shriek that's about to surface, he has one hand on her back and one hand hooked under her knees. He lifts her about five inches above the mattress before setting her back down so that she's resting on her good side and pulling the covers back up to her shoulder.
She closes her eyes and sags in relief against her pillow, deciding that, while she may be less-than-happy with Oliver right now, there's no denying that the man is a miracle worker.
He snorts and she grimaces, realizing she must've said that out loud.
She wants to communicate some sort of thanks, but when she opens her eyes, he's already sitting on the sofa along the wall behind her, resting his elbows on his knees and hiding his head behind his forearms.
Her eyes are immediately drawn to the shredded skin of his knuckles and the sight of even the tiniest wound on this man─who's everything from broken and battered to poise and collected, who fights day in and day out through what he believes to be penance for something that is so far beyond his control─is enough to practically reduce her to tears.
Not for the first time, she wishes she could wrap him up in a bundle of good feelings and sunshine and ship him off to some place where nothing with even an ounce of negative entity could touch him.
He doesn't deserve to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.
She remembers, then.
An insane amount of pressure in her torso. Red-stained fingers. Oliver's face looming above her. His uncheckered tears falling onto her forehead. His hands everywhere; her torso, her arms, her face. The desperation in his voice as he pleads with her; stay with me, Felicity. Help is on the way. You are going to be fine, do you hear me? Fine. You are not allowed to die on me.
It takes twenty minutes of Oliver clenching and unclenching his fists before he raises his head from his hands, which she's grateful for, since that's about the amount of time it takes her to reign her emotions in before she attacks him due to the information she's been able to restore.
Quietly, he stalks over to her, and she watches him through narrowed eyes; an angry Oliver, she can handle, but a repentant-but-choosing-to-mask-it-with-blind-rage Oliver is something she still isn't quite accustomed to, and she doesn't know how to not be the person that pokes the bear with a stick.
Especially when said bear pokes back just as roughly.
...and now she's thinking things about 'poke' and 'rough' that she really shouldn't be thinking, given the circumstances.
Shut up, brain, she thinks.
The sound of Oliver dragging an armchair from the other corner of the room to her bedside immediately yanks her out of her reverie. Once he's close enough to her that she can catch the faint scent of his aftershave and the leather that always seems to linger on his skin, he takes a seat, and all the tension that seems to be permanently embedded within his shoulder blades dissipates as his eyes meet hers.
She swallows, unable to foresee where this is going.
"Tommy's dead," he begins, lips turning downwards at the mention of his best friend, and she's reminded of his voice, so devastated and broken─it should have been me. Against her better judgement, her hand reaches out and gives his forearm a squeeze. He pauses, giving her a single nod to show he appreciates the gesture before continuing, "my mother's in prison. Laurel avoids me like the plague. Right now, in this moment, you, Digg, and Thea are all that I have. I can't have anything jeopardizing that, including your recklessness, no matter the intention." He hesitates then, scratching at the back of his neck before sighing. "You say that Starling City can't do without Oliver Queen. Well, Oliver Queen can't do without Felicity Smoak." He smiles, almost as if he's surprised at himself for admitting that, and then he's shaking his head, completely unaware of the fact that Felicity feels as though her heart is about to lurch out of her chest. "I shouldn't have blown up on you like that. I was just..."
A wave of empathy washes over her, and she smiles at him.
You are not allowed to die on me.
"Scared?" she offers.
He makes a grunting noise in the back of his throat that she discerns as confirmation.
"It's okay to admit that, you know. That's kind of the whole reason my legs started carrying me towards you at a surprising speed in the first place," she admits, laughing when she realizes just how true that is. "Seriously, though; I haven't run that fast since I was nine and I accidentally released my neighbor's flock of hens."
Oliver raises an eyebrow, implying for her to continue.
"Okay, well, I built a rocket─"
"When you were nine?"
Felicity grimaces. "Believe me, I know; it was a huge setback, considering I'd already mastered building computers by the time I was seven. You'd think rockets would be easier─please try never to have missions that require leaving Earth's atmosphere. I mean, I could build you one, but it's just...I hate those blasted things."
He shakes his head, pursing his lips in an effort to keep from grinning. "I'll do my best to keep my business affairs solely on the one planet."
"Thank you. Anyway, as I was saying, the wiring on my rocket was a bit flawed─don't judge me─so instead of its intended simple vertical trajectory, it went haywire in the direction of my neighbor's farm and bam!" Felicity balls her hand up in a fist and makes a show of hitting the imaginary coop, complete with the sounds of an explosion and the cries of outraged poultry. "Through the chaos of feathers and incessant clucking, I managed to see old Mrs. Jenkins come out onto her porch and begin loading her rifle as she shouted threats. So naturally, I did what any rational-minded person would do; I hightailed it out of there before she spotted me, thinking I was the coolest thing since sliced bread," she sighs wistfully, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose after they slid down during her detailed reenactment. "Needless to say, I was prohibited from making computers for the next whole month, and my parents volunteered me to spend my entire summer cleaning out her chicken coops." She shudders, biting her lip. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't hear distant clucking in the dead of night sometimes."
He laughs, an honest-to-god, deep, butterfly-inducing rumble within his chest that immediately makes Felicity ache to hear it again. "I'm glad that you're okay."
He reaches out to lay his hand atop hers, thumb skimming over her knuckles, and Felicity can't help but think that, for being a rugged, volatile, emotion-optional mess of a man, Oliver definitely knows how to be soft when it counts. She smiles, raising her eyes to meet his gaze only to condemn her sharp intake of breath when she notices the unadulterated display of warmth in the pale blue depths.
He does this sometimes, she's noticed; integrate something raw and tangible into their interactions, something that she can't quite decipher. It's in the way that he does less to conceal his smile around her, how he offers to drop by her office for her lunch break with her favorite Chinese take-out just because, how he holds her gaze for a nanosecond longer than usual when he bids her adieu for the night.
Felicity swears that it's been happening a lot more frequently in the past couple of months, but the actions themselves are so subtle that she has to wonder if all his questionable behavior isn't just a figment of her imagination.
She's always been adamant in not jumping to that conclusion, because, um, hello, she knows that mixing a rambling geek of an IT girl with a damaged vigilante who can't seem to function without guilt and self-loathing to goad him on doesn't exactly scream compatibility.
But the way he's looking at her right now suggests that he might not agree.
She flushes and hastily removes her hand from under his. There's a flash of something in his eyes at her action, but it's gone as quickly as it came, only to be replaced by a glimmer that she can only discern as amusement as the heart rate monitor at her side refuses to quell its incessant beeping, and she glares at him.
He's enjoying this, she realizes─enjoying the odd things he can do to her pulse with just his thumb and whoa. Felicity forces herself not to blush at the direction her mind has taken as it heads straight for the gutter, somewhere it seems to frequent a lot when Oliver is concerned...
Before she can consider questioning him for the recent changes in how he acts around her and maybe showcase something for him to be embarrassed about, he leans back into his chair to stretch his stiff muscles, and Felicity's eyes are drawn to the prominence of the veins in his forearms that's due to rigorous training that she's bore witness to on more than one occasion.
She swallows, hard.
Get a grip, Felicity, she tells herself, and the admonishing tone in her conscience's voice manages to break through enough so that her senses are no longer overwhelmed by Oliver's impressive arms and her desire to ask him to always fold up his button-up's to exactly that spot and how stuffy it's gotten in her hospital room all of a sudden.
"So I can stay on Team Arrow?" she squeaks, desperate for a conversation to stray her thoughts away from the very handsome man who just so happens to be in near proximity and who she may or may not have feelings for that extend past the schoolgirl crush she held for who she thought he was when they first met.
Luckily for her, Oliver appears to be oblivious to her internal woes about his muscled arms and whether or not he's aware of how he looks at her and the implications those stupid pretty blue eyes are inadvertently sending her way because he just raises a dubious eyebrow and asks, "Team Arrow?"
"What?" she shrugs, thanking whatever divine power is behind this small blessing, "It's catchy. Don't act like you don't like it."
"You can stay."
"With included field work like before?" Before he can vehemently protest, she amends her request. "If I promise to take it easy until my epic war wound heals and get Digg to train me with more refined weaponry than the unused pepper spray at the bottom of my purse?" Felicity clasps her hands together and juts out her bottom lip as she bats her eyelashes in his direction. "Pretty pretty please?"
"Will it do much good if I say no?" he asks, and when she voraciously shakes her head, he sighs in defeat. "If you live up to those promises, then okay."
"Awesome!" she yells, raising her right arm to fist pump the air before she freezes and thinks better of it, tentatively adjusting her arm back at her side. Not two seconds pass before she's yawning, her previously alert eyes drooping due to the drugs entering her system. "Stupid meds."
He stands and leans closer to her, and Felicity's vaguely aware of the heart rate monitor at her side going into a frenzy again. He smirks, hands going to her hair, and before she can ask what he's doing, he gently removes her glasses from her face to place them on the surface table once more. When he turns back to her, she realizes the smug mirth in his eyes has been replaced with something more fervent, so unyieldingly emotive that it takes her breath away─in a word; relief.
And then he's moving forward again. "I'll let you get some rest," he whispers, pressing a hard kiss to her forehead, and Felicity's eyes fall shut as she relaxes into him. Before he can pull away, her hand falls on his wrist, holding him in place.
"Will you be here when I wake up?"
"I promise," he says, the conviction in his eyes reminding her of the nights when he goes out into the night wearing his leather getup, determined like all hell to come back to the foundry with the sole intent of crossing another name off the list.
She nods, thinking that maybe she shouldn't feel at ease with being reminded of how he looks before going out to more-than-likely arrow somebody for the greater good, but she can't help it; it seems as though there are more shades of gray in her life than just Oliver's code of morality, like the fact that they can go through a rollercoaster of emotions in the span of thirty minutes.
He looks up from where he's reseated himself at her side. "Yeah?"
"Don't immediately begin to brood once I close my eyes. I know you're accustomed to stealing the show with your martial arts and wicked archery skills, but don't be a sore loser 'cause I was MVP today, alright?" She smirks. "Your time to shine will come again, soon."
She's rewarded with the sight of Oliver pursing his lips in that signature way of his that indicates he's trying to mask his amusement, and she feels her heart swell in triumph. She'd fist pump the air right now if she could, but getting shot kind of puts a damper on that, so.
He eventually gives up and grins. "Go to sleep, Felicity."
She glares at him, but acquiesces, pulling up her covers until they're at her chin and she can barely think past the warmth that envelopes her. "Let the record show that I'm going to do as you say, not because you're the boss of me, but because I am an intelligent, independent, strong woman...who just so happens to be very sleepy."
She hears him chuckle, and reaches out her hand expectantly until he catches on and raises his own to meet hers halfway. She doesn't hesitate and pulls his hand to join hers where it lays at her side, expelling a content sigh once she gets herself situated.
Later, she'll blame the drugs currently making their way through her bloodstream for the fact that she seems to have no qualms about initiating human contact that could only be synonymous with words like sweet and tender with the man who puts on a hood and goes out to deliver the fear of God unto Starling City's evildoers on a nightly basis.
But right now, all Felicity can process through the haze in her brain is the warmth of Oliver's hand and how he could've died today but he didn't, and how she'd weather whatever storm he sent in her direction so long as he was alive to do so.
"And let the record also show that...I'm glad you're okay, too, Oliver."
She closes her eyes then, letting the image of his smile and the feel of his fingers entwining with hers lull her to sleep.