AN: guys ... this is it. This is the last chapter. I want to say thank you one last time, for all of your wonderful support and reviews and patience for the (sometimes horrific) delays in updating. This has been quite the journey and learning experience for me, and you all have made it a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for giving this story a chance and sticking with it, and I hope you've enjoyed it. All my love.
A petulant meow and familiar weight on her chest is what finally pulls Felicity from her slumber. She cracks one eye open just enough to see Pirate, who is staring at her with feline patience that looks frighteningly like condescension; she mumbles incoherently at him in a failed attempt to tell him to go away. The kitten just blinks at her.
Felicity turns onto her side and into the warmth of Oliver's chest, doing her best to ignore Pirate as he crawls onto her pillow and settles in her hair. A soft huff of laughter tells her that Oliver is awake, but their bed is warm and ridiculously comfortable and she thinks they should just spend the day in it. The outside world and diva kittens be damned.
Then, without moving, Pirate begins chewing on her hair.
"Damn cat," she grumbles, tucking even farther into Oliver.
"I think he's hungry," Oliver says, his voice husky and quiet. She loves it when he sounds like that.
"Tell him to forage for food." She pulls the duvet higher up onto her shoulder. "Make his wild cousins proud."
"The last time he did that you threatened to skin him alive."
"Well, this time I'm giving him permission."
Felicity stretches herself out against her boyfriend, tangling her feet around his legs at the calves and sighing contentedly when he wraps an arm around her waist and holds her tightly. Yep, her mind is made up: they're staying in bed all day. Food and bathroom breaks are the only acceptable deviation to the plan.
She's already well on her way to dozing off again when Oliver pulls her back to the waking world.
He's quiet for so long that she slides her head back on the pillow, once again dislodging Pirate, so that she can look him in the eye. Oddly enough, he looks nervous; beneath that, he looks … shy.
"I love you."
Felicity has purposely steered herself away from thinking about this very moment, or any moment like it, for pretty much their entire relationship. Oliver is someone who loves deeply, but quietly – he does not easily (or often) voice his affection for anyone. She knows this, understands it, and has become well versed in recognizing all of the non-verbal ways that he expresses his love; she sees it most often directed at Thea. Which is why, hearing the words now, she isn't surprised. Felicity knows that Oliver loves her - has known it for a while.
So she feels no surprise; only a pure, breath taking joy that blooms in her heart and spreads to every inch of her being, a dazzling light that illuminates her from the inside out. She doesn't hesitate.
"I love you too," Felicity answers, breathless, and then virtually pounces on him in her sudden need to kiss him.
She peppers him with kisses until he's laughing beneath her lips and then she can't contain her own laughter.
True to her plan, they don't get out of bed that day.
Just before Christmas, Oliver comes home with a mischievous grin and a surprise. When he tells her to take a seat and close her eyes, Felicity directs a very pointed glance at Pirate, who is sitting on the arm of the couch after she has tested out her healed ankle by rage chasing him through the apartment. Oliver laughs and reassures her that it's not another animal – because, really, they couldn't handle another one – so she obliges him.
The couch dips under his weight as he seats himself next to her; moments later he tells her it's safe to open her eyes.
Oliver is holding a strange, but very beautiful, pair of ceramic cups. She thinks they must be hand painted because the details are small and intricate, and stunning; they are painted in pastel shades of what looks to be Japanese calligraphy. What makes them strange are the lines of gold that run through the design, haphazard and obviously not part of the original design. The lines aren't uniform, and different from one cup to the other, but she can't find them anything but beautiful. The gold shimmers warmly under the light.
"They're beautiful," she tells him. Her confusion must show on her face, though, because Oliver grins and pulls her into his side with the hand that isn't holding the delicate objects.
"These are very special cups," he tells her. "But before I tell you about them, I'm going to tell you about something else: you."
"Me?" Felicity repeats.
"You. I know that you've been having a hard time dealing with everything that's happened to you in the last few months, and I wish I could fix everything for you; I wish that I could rewind time and make it so that none of that happened. I wish I could promise that it'll never happen again – but I can't."
"Shh," he silences her and then kisses her quickly before continuing. "I'm not done. You told me once that you feel … damaged. Broken. And that you're not sure how to fix it. But I'm here to tell you that you, Felicity Smoak, are nothing less than beautiful; that I love you, and that if you really are broken – which I will never believe, by the way – that doesn't mean that you are less."
Felicity stares at him through the tears that are brimming in her eyes, dangerously close to tripping down her cheeks; she has no idea what to say, which is good, since he doesn't seem to be done yet. Oliver shifts a little next to her, taking one cup in either hand and holding them up for her to look at.
"The Japanese have this practice, it's called kintsugi, and it's the practice of fixing broken ceramics by filling the cracks with gold. They do this because they believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful – more precious."
She is crying openly now, and having a hard time keeping the air in her lungs as she absorbs what he's saying, because she thinks she knows where this is going.
"I got one for each of us," Oliver continues, and now he sounds choked up as well. "Because I want you to look at them and remember. Whenever you feel sad, or doubtful, I want you to remember that you saved me – that you save me everyday, in more ways than I can possibly count; you are my gold. I want you to remember that I love you."
She kisses him soundly; cradling his strong jaw in both of her palms and pouring every emotion she's feeling into the slide of her lips against his. Words are not enough – will never be enough – to tell him how profoundly she loves him, so she must supplement her meager vocabulary with actions.
When Felicity finally allows him to pull away, he rests his forehead against hers, their breaths mingling in the space between them.
Oliver's voice is barely above a whisper when he continues. "And when you start to wonder if you're broken, if maybe you're just damaged beyond repair, I want you to look at these cups and see yourself the way I do: not broken, but filled with gold."
Felicity never forgets, and when they marry a few years later – after she has finally gotten him to agree to keep her ring within a reasonable cost and size – her heart swells in almost painful happiness when she finds that her band has been engraved with three small words.
Filled with Gold.