A/N: This is it, gentle readers: this expanded Oliver POV from "Unthinkable" (2.23) marks the end of my supplement to S2. As you probably have noticed, I don't write Oliver's thoughts as orderly and linear as Felicity's because I just don't think they are, so please bear with him as he tries to make sense of things. Altered episode dialogue, blah blah etc. Thank you, all of you, for a wonderful season. Cheers.
Oliver: "If you ever need to tell someone about your day, you can tell me." (Salvation – 1.18)
"Felicity," I say after I finally get Digg out of the way and into the pilot's seat so he has to concentrate on flying instead of trying to kill me with his eyes. Her joke about all the different insults he hurls my way when he says "sir" falls flat and despite her attempt to smile and convince me how fine she is, her eyes are still red and rimmed with tears. She is anything but fine.
It kills me when she cries. And I hate it even more that she was crying on him. She looked so small and helpless with his arm wrapped around her.
Felicity is not weak. Slade, like everyone else, underestimated her. He saw the blond hair and the big eyes and those legs that go on forever. Maybe he noticed her love of shoes and her candy-colored fingernails or the silver studs along the delicate shell of her ears. But he missed that she's the beating heart of our team. That she's the bravest person I've ever known.
I had a group of assassins at my disposal. Diggle. Everyone keeps using the word, but what was truly unthinkable was the idea that anyone other than Felicity could have done what she did. What's unthinkable is the thought of anyone else by my side when I faced him.
"Talk to me," I beg. Her silence is deafening, and I take her hands in mine, these amazing, wonderful hands that didn't hesitate, didn't so much as tremble, when she plunged the cure into Slade's neck.
"I don't have anything to say," she snuffles.
"But you did to Diggle?"
I'm being a dick. A jealous, irrational asshole. I know I shouldn't begrudge her an outlet to talk or a shoulder to cry on. I want her to have those things, to take time to process all that she's been though. But I can't help it: I don't want her to turn to him. I want her to tell me.
"Oliver, come on. That's not fair."
I hate the way her eyes shift away from mine and focus somewhere lower. My shirt maybe. My collar. Anywhere but my face. Felicity, who always looks me in the eye, even when so few people do. But I use her momentary distraction to surreptitiously check her pulse, look at her coloring, monitor her breathing. Maybe she's going into shock now that the extra adrenaline has left her system. Maybe the concussion is worse than the ARGUS doctor who examined her thought. Leave it to ARGUS to fuck everything up. And Digg was so busy being her teddy bear that he probably wasn't checking to make sure she doesn't need to be looked at again in Hong Kong. I know a guy there who's good. Maybe I should call him now, just to be safe. It's not like the plane is going to take off without us.
She sighs, and I realize I'm being unreasonable. Maybe I'm even panicking a little bit now that Slade is locked behind bars and we can all take a breath before dealing with the fallout. Her pulse is strong and steady underneath my fingers. If something were seriously wrong with her head, we would have known before now. No, whatever's going on, she's not physically in danger. Which is good. But also bad. Because I'm useless without a target to aim at or someone to beat up. Maybe I should have left her to whisper all her secrets to Digg. Maybe I shouldn't have interrupted her unburdening her heart, even if she was telling someone else. He's better at this than I am.
Everyone is better.
"I already said what I wanted to say to you," she finally says. "Back on the beach."
"You were smiling on the beach," I tell her. "You weren't crying."
She stood there on the beach that marked the boundaries of my prison and my crucible and my hell. I was so relieved when the island loomed in the distance when I was in the life raft. I was comforted by the familiar pounding of the waves against the rocks when I stood on that beach a year ago, after Tommy. But only with her there today, because of her, I was able to see, for the very first time, how beautiful Lian Yu is.
Her pink shirt was like the sunrise over the water, and the wind blew her hair, and she was safe and with me and so incredibly alive and rambling in her adorable way. I stood there and marveled at her and smiled because I didn't want to move or speak or even breathe. I just wanted to soak her in like the sun. I didn't want to ruin it. Only somehow I did anyway and I don't know how.
"It's been a long day," she says. "I'm just." She sighs again, the sound exhausted and defeated and it makes me want to throw something through the window. Maybe myself. "I'm really tired, okay? I want to land in Hong Kong and get onto the big plane and hopefully sleep on the flight home. I want to wake up tomorrow and pretend this day never happened."
"Come on," I say, wrapping my arm around her and moving her against me. It's been more than a day. It's been days, weeks, of unending, heart-pounding drama. But maybe, if she feels secure and comfortable, maybe she'll be able to sleep. But selfishly too, I need her warm weight resting against me or I know I won't be able to rest either. I can't quite get used to the idea that he didn't hurt her. That she's truly safe. That's she's here with me. "Get comfy."
"I don't want to," she says even as she starts to shift and nuzzle and settle her way into my body, her soft curves molding around me like there's no place else she'd rather be.
"Shhh," I soothe, burying my nose in her hair. I slip my hand under her jacket, leaving only the thin fabric of her shirt separating us, not daring to actually touch the smooth skin of her back like I'm desperate to feel. "I'm sorry," I finally say. "For bringing you here."
"You're apologizing?" she asks, her words carefully spaced too far apart. She sounds incredulous and angry. "For the inconvenience of international travel?"
I hesitate. Because yes, that's what I'm apologizing for. Because she's injured and exhausted and it was unfair for me to drag her with me, but I couldn't let her out of my sight. I couldn't face Slade without knowing she was with me. Leaving her on the beach with Digg was almost more than I could bear, but after everything I've asked of her, I didn't want her to have to look at Slade Wilson again. I didn't want him to have a final image of her in that pink shirt to keep him company in that cell. I had to do that alone, but it was only possible because I knew she was waiting for me.
"Well," I try again to explain.
"Oh Oliver," she says with a sigh. "Just." She sniffles again. "It's fine. I mean, obviously, no. It's not fine. This is as emphatically not fine as something can possible be. But I understand, Oliver. I understand perfectly."
"I thought I did too. Except you seem mad all of a sudden, so I don't think I do understand."
"If it's any consolation, my anger isn't directed towards you."
"No. It's not." It's not any kind of consolation. "You're mad at yourself," I say, not posing it as a question because I know it's true. And if she's mad at herself, that means what she feels towards me is infinitely worse than anger. She's hurt. I hurt her. Again.
Will there be no end to my hurting her?
"I'm confident you'll figure it out," she says as she tries to shift away from me. But my hand on her back stops her, holds her close to me.
"Please. Felicity. Just tell me."
"Don't. Just don't." Once again she struggles against me, and I can't hold her against her will, so I let her sit up even though I want, more than anything, to keep her close. The plane seats are too small, but she feels infinitely far away when she turns and faces me because Felicity doesn't run away from confrontation. She's too brave to hide. "Don't say my name like that or look at me like that. Don't make me think we share some kind of special understanding because we don't."
"Felicity," I begin, but I immediately stop talking when I see the look on her face because I realize I just did what she asked me not to do. But how do I not look at her? How can I not say her name? How can she think what we have isn't special?
"So help me," she threatens. "I will tell Digg you're harassing me. Don't think I won't."
"You don't need Digg to kick my ass for you," I honestly tell her. "You can beat me up, if it would make you feel better. Digg and Sarah have trained you well. I won't stop you."
She groans, exasperated, and bangs her head against the back of the seat. Beating herself up instead of me is not what I want either.
"Felicity?" I say before cringing, realizing I'm doing it again.
"Men are so stupid," she says. "But you win some kind of special prize, Oliver Queen. You really do. And I have no excuse. Why am I so stupid when it comes to you? I didn't use to be this way. I know better." Her voice is barely more than a whisper when she says again, "I know better."
I sit silently, not moving, and wait for whatever internal battle is waging to be over. For her to come back to me and explain it to me and make sense of all this.
"It's a good thing your love life is so crowded that Slade had no idea which woman to choose," she finally says. She turns to look at me, her eyes determined and distant and dry. "Laurel. Helena. Sarah. So many women, Oliver, so little time. Hell, I don't know how you choose from day to day. All those options. All those gorgeous women who don't seem to care that they're part of your harem just as long as they get their little piece of you."
"I have the one you love," Slade's voice growled. "Your Felicity."
Felicity isn't what Slade assumed when he took her. He had no idea the power he had over me or he wouldn't have waited. He would have killed her immediately because of course I love her. But she is more than the woman I love. Felicity is my salvation.
But she thinks I didn't mean it. I handed her my heart, told her my truth. And she thinks it was part of a strategy to defeat Slade. She thinks that's all it was.
"The one woman you haven't been with," she says in a quiet voice that's frighteningly calm and even. "He was an idiot for thinking you not sleeping with me meant I was special."
"But you are special," I begin.
"Please," she begs me, closing her eyes. "Please don't."
She never begged Slade. Laurel struggled and screamed, her futile sounds and wasted efforts grating distractions that needed to be blocked out and ignored as I focused on Felicity. On her knees before Slade. His blade, the sword that killed my mother, held menacingly against her throat.
I know how sharp he keeps that blade. How she would cut herself if she so much as flinched. The sword would slice through her carotid as easily as it would silk, and she would bleed out before she slumped to the floor.
She was terrified, but I can't believe she was more afraid than I was. But I saw the determination in her eyes. Her trust in me as she waited, silent and unmoving, for me to give her a sign. She waited for her moment, her chance to strike and end this once and for all. Her silent strength gave me strength.
It was agony, listening to him threaten her dead body at my feet. Her spilled blood still hot against my skin. Because yes, Felicity's death would be the end of me. I am nothing without her.
As he spoke, taunting me, I burned with the need to kill him. To see his lifeless body. To savor his wet blood. But I swallowed my hatred. My need for vengeance. My screaming instinct to protect her at all costs.
Because I couldn't be that person. I couldn't be the killer Slade created. Not even to save her. Because she believed in me. Because I couldn't let her down.
"Oliver, you've come so far. You can do this without going back. There is always another way. You had a choice five years ago. You could have cured Slade, but you chose to kill him instead. This isn't happening because you're not willing to be a killer. Oliver, it's happening because you were one. Don't do the same thing this time. Don't make the same mistake. Be different. Make a different choice. If you kill him, then he will have won. Yes, he'll be dead and unable to hurt anyone. But he'll have made you a murderer again. Don't let him ruin you. Please "
It isn't just words for her. She doesn't spout off what seems like the right thing to say. She means it. Every word of it.
She isn't a soldier like Diggle. She isn't struggling to define herself like Sarah. She isn't reckless like Laurel or trying to prove something like Roy. No, Felicity is different. She's better than all of us. She isn't doing what she does because she's damaged or to atone for past sins. She doesn't get off on the power or want to take over the world.
Felicity puts herself in harm's way because she believes in me, the best parts of me, and once again, she was willing to die because she's the only one who saw the real threat Slade Wilson posed. Even I couldn't see it. Not until she showed me. Felicity is the only one who saw it was not about him leveling Starling City. It was a battle for my soul, and she willingly stood on the front line. She threw herself between us, unflinching in her belief that I'm a good man.
As always, my girl protected me from my greatest enemy. She saved me from myself.
"You could have told me," she finally says. "You're always asking me to tell you what I'm thinking, but you don't return the favor."
Once more, I reach for her. Pull her closer to me because I want this. Want her. And this time, she doesn't stop me. She willingly allows herself to curl against my side.
"You could have told me," she whispers. "When you first thought it. I saw it. The moment you realized how to bait the trap, and it was me. I could have handled the truth. You could have told me on the street. In the car on the way to the mansion." She sighs and shudders and I hold her even more tightly. "You should have told me."
"Felicity," I beg.
"It wouldn't have changed anything," she says and laughs an entirely unfunny laugh that leaves goosebumps. "It would have changed everything," she whispers. "And nothing. Everything and nothing because you are you and I am me and I would have done it anyway and you're always asking me to trust you but apparently you don't trust me and there are times I really don't like you but no matter what I would have needed to be with you because I am that girl."
Her voice is so quiet, and it's amazing that she didn't need to breathe during all that, but her words are the most damning of curses.
"Yes," I agree, only I don't understand. It's infuriating how she hears all the things I need to tell her when I can't find the words unless it's about her. "You are that girl. My girl."
"God," she says, flinching away from me. "Stop. Just stop it."
"He took the wrong woman," I told her, watching as her eyes popped.
For once, Felicity Smoak was speechless, and I wanted, more than anything, to explain everything, but I knew I couldn't. There wasn't time, and this was unthinkable enough. So I pressed the cure into her hand, the one on the far side from the camera. I gave her our only hope, and I trusted she would know what to do with it. After all, this was her idea, giving Slade exactly what he wants.
"I love you, Felicity," I said.
Out loud. Unguarded. I laid out the whole truth for once in my miserable lie of a life because there was a good chance we weren't going to make it out of this alive, and I wasn't going to die without her knowing how I feel.
I love you, I wanted to say again. I wanted to say it over and over. I wanted to shout it to the house and to the sky. I wanted to kiss it into her hair and breathe it into her skin. I wanted to say it to the beat of her heart. I wanted to hold her to me and never let her go.
I hated that this moment was being watched. I hated that I was leaving her here, alone and frightened, waiting for Slade to come for her. I hated that his hands would be on her. That he would threatened to kill her. I hated that she was my secret weapon, the only one who could get close enough to pull this off. The only one I could trust to do it.
"Oliver," she whispered.
"Do you understand?"
God. Felicity. Forgive me. Please forgive me. Please understand how much I hate myself for asking this. For being weak enough to need it. For waiting until now to tell you the truth about how I feel.
Please understand that I can't lose you. Not ever. You are my love. My heart. My salvation.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I have to do this. I'm sorry you have to do this. I'm so sorry this is in your hands. But you are strong. You are the strongest and the bravest. You are the only one who can do this, Felicity. You are going to save us all.
It has to be you.
I'm so sorry.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
"Yes," she said.
Only there was something in her eyes. Something I've never seen before and didn't understand. But I couldn't ask. There wasn't time. If I stayed another second, I wouldn't be able to leave her.
My God. I'm dangling my girl like bait in front of a psychotic murderer.
I pulled her close to me and kissed her forehead and swallowed tears and willed myself to be as strong as she believes I am. As strong as she is. Strong enough to leave her here alone.
"Trust me," I begged. I didn't deserve it, but I needed it.
Please trust me. You don't need me to protect you, but I will do anything to keep you safe.
"Always," she whispered back.
"I'll see you soon," I vowed. And then I left while I still could.
"He said he knew me," I whisper, trying to make her understand, trying to explain. "Just now. He said he created me. And it's true. He does. He did. Slade Wilson made the man who returned to Starling City."
"Oliver," she says.
"The kid. His kid." I shake my head and swallow, remembering the first time he ever called me that. "He finally stopped calling me Oliver after he'd beaten the crap out of me enough to prove I wasn't wasting his time. Only after I proved I wasn't going to up and die on him. Puts Digg's sirs to shame, really, the way Slade used to say Oliver. The first time he called me kid, I wanted to cry. With relief. Gratitude. I wanted so desperately to please him. He was." I swallow again, hating myself for the boy I was. Hating that I'm admitting this weakness to her. "He was my world, Felicity. The one thing that stood between me and certain death. God, I was pathetic. It's really a fitting nickname."
"You aren't his anything anymore. The fact that we're flying away from him right now proves that."
"But he's still here." I put her hand over my beating heart. "He kept me alive. He trained me. For a long time, the longest time in my life, he was my only friend. He was my everything. We are brothers, he and I, and nothing can change that."
"You shouldn't want to," she says. "You are who you are because of him. You're here because of him." She doesn't know it, but her words echo what I said to him in the bunker. "But that doesn't mean you aren't still you. So he taught you how to fight. So what? He kept you alive when you couldn't do that for yourself. But you're the one who survived. You're the one who left, Oliver. He didn't. Couldn't. And now he's just as trapped there as he has been all these years. Stuck in purgatory. Maybe he taught you some skills, but you aren't his kid, lost and alone on that island. You surpassed him."
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to leave that place," I say, voicing for the first time the fear I've carried with me this past year.
"Part of you will probably always be there," she agrees. "I don't think you live through something like that and forget about it. But you just left," she reminds me. "And every time, a little more of you is going to be able to come home. It's going to keep getting better."
"You make me better, Felicity," I tell her.
"No. Please listen."
She nods. Looks at me intently. Expectantly. And suddenly, I wish she wasn't giving me the chance to explain myself because I honestly don't know what to tell her. But she's waiting. And she deserves my truths.
"Old habits die hard," I finally say. "And even before all this, the Gambit and Slade and everything that came after him. God, Felicity, there's so much you don't know. I am." I sigh. "I've done terrible things, Felicity. I did long before I was shipwrecked on Lian Yu. And I've never been known for my honesty."
"You're a terrible liar, Oliver."
"That may be," I agree. "But I don't lie to you. I can't. Sometimes I don't tell you everything, but it's not because I don't trust you. It's because I don't trust myself."
She doesn't answer. But I hope she realizes that whatever she thought she understood before is wrong. I hope she sees exactly who she is to me.
"Do you understand" I whisper, squeezing her hands in mine.
God. Felicity. Please understand this time.
She has tears in her eyes when she nods.
"I'm not ready," I whisper because it's the truth too. The terrible, awful truth. "And I'm afraid that maybe I never will be."
"You should know by now that it's dangerous to underestimate you, Oliver," she says. "Look how many people, really bad people, you've stopped because they didn't take you seriously. You don't seem to realize it, but you're your own secret weapon." She squeezes my hand before settling once again next to me, her head against my shoulder. "I believe in you," she says again, as if she doesn't mind that she has to keep saying it.
"But I don't," I tell her. "I can't."
"You will. And when you do, when that day comes and everyday in between, I'll be here. Until you do, I'll believe in you enough for both of us."
A/N: Okay, so that ends this for Olicity for S2. If you're like me and can't imagine how you'll possibly pass the time between now and S3, look for new updates to my Arrow AU, "All I Want For Christmas." I'll be dealing with the fallout of the end of S2 before diving into what I think our team should tackle next. That's right: During the summer hiatus, I'm leaving canonland behind and taking these kids out for a spin. Want to come along and see what happens?