Title: every now and then, the stars align (boy and girl meet by the great design)
Category: Arrow
Genre: Family/Romance/Humor
Ship: Felicity/Oliver
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7,383
Summary: Oliver's daughter is going on her first date and it stirs up some fatherly concern, as well as some appreciation for just how far his life has come.

Previous: patch it up and sew it shut (my scars are all but gone)

every now and then, the stars align (boy and girl meet by the great design)

There were certain moments that struck Oliver as abruptly as an unseen arrow, flying from the shadows, from a direction he'd left unguarded. He hadn't been on the island in over twenty years, and he'd been Starling City's vigilante hero, Green Arrow, for just as long, trading one mask, one title, for another, until he was content with who and where he was, content with the world he'd built and now guarded vigilantly.

When he'd made it back to land, to salvation, he had a very distinct path his life was meant to follow. It would be full of blood, vengeance, and a set idea of what justice was. His life's goal would be to wipe one name after another off a list in a book that belonged to his father, and only when that book had no names left to cross off would he be done. His debt would be paid and he could move on, put away the bow and lay down the cross he wore all too willingly.

Things had not quite gone that way. There was plenty of blood, vengeance, and justice, but it was meted out in a different fashion than he first expected. More, the life he expected to have, of always hiding his true self, of chasing the end of the list, of bearing the burden of his past on his own, of eventually being good enough to be worth Laurel Lance, was not the life he lead at all. And he was a happier man for it.

Oliver stood in the doorway of his fourteen year old daughter's bedroom, his arms crossed loosely over his chest, a faint smile tugging at his lips as he watched her sitting at her vanity, going through her jewellery box and dismissing just about every piece she came across. It was times like these that she reminded him of her aunt; her eye and taste for fashion had followed in Thea's shadow from the tender age of six. Prior to that, she was happy with princess dresses and plastic tiaras. But as soon as Thea took her shopping for a new outfit on her sixth birthday, Breanna was a new girl, with a love for designer tags that a less wealthy man might have balked at. Even if it weren't for the billions in his bank account, however, Oliver was a pushover when it came to his daughter and he knew, he would've done anything to make her happy, even if it meant spoiling her rotten.

Thankfully, however, her mother didn't let that happen. It was a good thing too, because Oliver was well aware of what giving a child everything and teaching them nothing could do to someone. He'd been the overindulged son of a billionaire and he'd gotten away with far too much. He didn't want the same to become of his children.

Breanna was his eldest. She was smart and beautiful, warm and kind; she was the light of his life. And much as she loved her designer clothes and handbags, and never received an invite to a fashion show she didn't want to go to, she was also the sweetest person he'd ever known.

"You're staring," she told him, tossing a necklace aside and picking up a bracelet he'd given her on her eleventh birthday.

"I prefer 'admiring in a fatherly fashion,'" he returned, his lips twitching as he dropped his arms to his sides and stepped into her room. Gone were the pinks and purples, the frilly bed skirt, and numerous toys and dolls. They'd long been replaced with pastels, everything matching in some way or another, with the area that once housed an overflowing toy chest now where her desk and top-of-the-line computer system sat. She had a yoga mat where her foam puzzle piece playing mat once was, where once upon a time he'd sat while she dressed him in Disney-themed Band-Aids. It was the bedroom of a young adult, reminding him once more that his little girl was growing up.

Breanna rolled her eyes, visible through the vanity mirror, and she knew it. "Dad, it's one date."

"It's a first date," he argued, tipping his head to the side.

She narrowed her eyes at him thoughtfully. "You're doing the thing."

"What thing?"

"The thing you do to mom when she surprises you."

His brows rose. "Your mom surprises me a lot; it's her default setting. So you'll have to be more specific." He moved to take a seat on the edge of her bed, leaning his shoulder against the winding wood post.

"The head-tipping thing…" She mimicked him. "You do that when she does something and you're not sure how to respond to it. Like you didn't plan for it."

His lips turned up at the corners as his gaze fell to the floor. These were the moments Breanna reminded him she was his daughter. Then again, her mother had a habit of noticing the little details too. If she hadn't, he sometimes wondered what his life might have turned out like. Not nearly as good, he was certain of that.

"Maybe I wasn't expecting you to want to date already…"

"You had fourteen years to prepare." She dug out a pair of earrings to hold up in the mirror before frowning and discarding them along with the others. "Maybe you should start coming to grips with the idea that Grace will eventually date too… She's already nine."

He grimaced. "Unless this date goes well, I might enact a ban on dating until you're all eighteen."

She raised an eyebrow and looked at him over her shoulder, her dark blonde hair falling in a wave of curls down her back. "Does that go for Robbie, too?"

"Of course." He pressed a hand to his heart. "I think you offended my inner-feminist."

Her lips twitched with amusement. "Whatever."

"Thankfully, Robbie's only six. He still thinks every girl has cooties."

"Except mom."

"Except mom," he agreed, nodding. "But then again, I'm not sure any boy would turn down a kiss from your mom. He should be no different."

Breanna grinned at him then. "You're so lovesick. If you weren't my dad, it'd be pathetic."

"I'll take that as a compliment." He offered a faint smile, bowing his head in acceptance.

Turning in her seat, she rested her head against the back and stared at him curiously. "What was your and mom's first date like?" she wondered.

His brow furrowed. "She didn't tell you?"

She shook her head and laughed a little at the memory. "No… She started blushing and then she rambled about a first aid kit and then she changed the subject to ice cream and told me never to date a boy with a motorcycle…"

He grinned then.

Technically, when he and Felicity got together, it was after she patched him up after patrolling. He'd willingly turned his bike over onto its side and skidded across the asphalt to get at a wannabe robber, leaving him with some not-to-pretty road-rash on one side. He'd had worse, but that wasn't what Felicity wanted to hear. In the process of cleaning up, she went on a ten minute rant full of worry and concern and, at some point, he'd cut her off, kissing her silent. Which somehow turned into sex on her desk, not that he was complaining. It was one of the best decisions he'd made.

Officially, Felicity considered that the official beginning of their relationship and not a week later, when he finally managed to take her out for dinner. Of course, there was six days in between that of them putting the foundry to good use, from the training mats to the cot in the back to his office desk upstairs in the club. So he could just imagine what had her blushing when Breanna asked about them getting together. Of course, they were adults, not fourteen year olds going on their first date, so there was no way what he and Felicity had gotten up to was what Breanna was going to engage in.

"I took her to dinner," he said. "It was a burger place we frequented."

Breanna's nose screwed up in disapproval. "Why not someone expensive? Romantic? New?"

"Because she didn't want me to flash my money. It was about being normal, about taking emphasis off of billionaire playboys and IT girls… I just wanted to be a guy on a date with a beautiful girl." He shook his head. "And because they made awesome burgers."

She laughed, rolling her eyes. "Well, I guess it worked."

He flashed a smile at her. "Seventeen years of marriage and three kids later… Yeah, I think it turned out all right."

She chewed her lip for a moment, dropping her gaze to the pattern on the chair she was sitting on. "So how'd you know mom was it, anyway?" She glanced at him briefly. "Aunty Thea said you used to be in love with someone else… That after the island, you were all about this Laurie person…"

"Laurel," he corrected, nodding slowly. "I was, for a time."

"So what changed your mind?"

"I don't think I changed my mind, exactly…" He pursed his lips as his brow furrowed. "Laurel and I tried, but things just never found their groove. It was too hard with her; there were too many ghosts… Your mom was different for me. She knew parts of me that Laurel was never going to understand."

"The post-island you…" she murmured knowingly.

He nodded shortly. "That was the thing… Laurel had loved a me that wasn't there anymore, that I couldn't be anymore…" He shrugged one shoulder. "I wasn't even sure I wanted to be that Oliver anymore…"

"But mom loved the Oliver she knew… The real Oliver."

"And all of my many, many flaws," he agreed.

"So you and Laurel broke up, you fell out of love, and then… What? You and mom were friends for a while, right?"

"For a couple years."

"So when did you realize you wanted more?"

He smiled at her curiosity. "She was always there. I had a lot to work through on my own, a lot of issues to deal with, and she stood by me through a lot of it. I fell for her long before we started dating… I just wasn't sure my life was in the right place for it. I didn't want to rush it."

"Because you knew it'd be 'big'… Like three kids and marriage big."

He chuckled under his breath. "Yeah. Because I knew that when it started, it wouldn't stop, so I needed to be ready for that."

"And what about her? Did she fall in love with you right away or did it take her a while?"

"She was attracted to me, but she wasn't in love with me, not right away… I'd like to think it didn't take very long though, but that could be my ego speaking," he admitted.


"What's with all the questions, Bre? You think your first date is going to lead to something 'big'?" He arched his eyebrows.

She shook her head, her eyes wide. "No. No, I like Patrick, he's cute, but it's not like that… It's still in sweaty palms and butterfly territory."

"Good," he said without apology.

She laughed, rolling her eyes, and reached up to tuck a curl behind her ear.

His expression softened, before he gave a huff of a sigh. "You're as beautiful as your mother."

Her lips turned up on one corner. "You say that like it's a bad thing."

"For me, it is." He stood from her bed and walked to her, bending to press a kiss to her head. "You keep growing up and I keep wishing you were the two year old who liked to chew on her toes."


He chuckled under his breath and smoothed a hand down her hair before he started for her door. "You should wear the necklace Grandma Moira got for your last birthday, and the matching earrings."

Her face perked up at the suggestion and she turned back to her jewelry box to dig them out.

Oliver paused in the door one last time to take her in before letting out a soft sigh and walking down the hall. He stopped at the bathroom when he heard splashing and poked his head inside to see Robbie in the bathtub, dunking his toys under the water and making loud noises to go along with it. Seated atop the toilet, her long legs crossed, was Grace, her nose buried in a comic book.

"I swear to god, Robbie, if you flick water at me again and get it on my book, I'm going to drown you," she complained, flipping a page and turning her body away a little more to avoid his splashing.

Robbie grinned at her toothily and grabbed his Aquaman figurine off the edge of the tub. He smirked at his sister before he started making loud dolphin noises at her, waving his toy in her direction.

"Ugh…" Grace slumped back against the toilet and reached over to close the curtain on the bathtub, not that it did anything to drown out the noise. "We should've got a dog instead of a brother."

"You'd still be on a bath duty, but I'm not sure a dog would be much more cooperative," Oliver said.

Grace jumped. "Dad!" She stared up at him, wide-eyed, and dropped her comic book to her lap. "How long've you been standing there?"

"Since just before you threatened murder."

Her lips pursed. "Which time…?"

He laughed shortly, his brows hiking, and tipped his head. Now Grace, she reminded him more of Felicity. She didn't often ramble, but she had a lot of his wife's unfiltered personality. Unflinchingly smart, supportive, and quick to say her peace, Grace was a mini-genius stuck in an awkward nine-year-old's body. Her favorite topics varied between politics, comic books, and whatever TV show she was watching recently, and very rarely ventured near boys or fashion. Obviously, his two daughters had little in common, but it rarely worked against them. Despite having few common interests, they were thick as thieves, mostly in the battle against their annoying little brother.

Robbie threw the curtain back from the bath and smirked up at his dad, looking much like Oliver had when he was younger, and promising to be just as much trouble too.

"You should've heard the first two threats," Felicity said, joining him in the door. "They were worthy of being framed. Of course, that would probably cause more than a few questions and, I guess if the wrong people saw it, we might have the kids taken away and then have to explain to child services that no, we were not encouraging our nine-year-old to murder our six-year-old. Only trying to encourage her to be honest about her feelings, even if they are semi-sociopathic."

"Wow, mom, thanks for the vote of confidence."

Felicity flashed a grin before walking into the bathroom, a towel in her hands. "You're welcome." She looked down at her son and grinned. "C'mon, monster of mine, if you get in your pajamas in record time, I might let you have that bowl of ice cream you've been asking me for since you breakfast."

Robbie wiggled excitedly and thrust his Aquaman into the air above his head. "With chocolate sauce?"

"And marshmallow fluff," she agreed. "Because I'm the best mom ever… I even have a mug to prove it."

Robbie stood up from the bath abruptly, dropping his toys as he did, unabashed by his nudity, and held his arms up. She wrapped the towel around him swiftly and hauled him into her arms, leaning down and blowing a raspberry on his cheek to make him giggle.

"So I'm done now, right?" Grace asked hopefully. "I wanna see Bre before she goes on her date."

"Just unplug the tub and put the toys in the basket and you're done," Felicity told her, nodding. "And thank you for all your help. You're a champ."

"Ice cream," Robbie said, demanding attention where he felt necessary.

"Pajamas," she countered, walking him out of the bathroom and starting down the hall. "Why don't you ask dad to get dessert started while you get ready for bed?"

He turned his head back over his mother's shoulder and shot his dad a hopeful smile.

"On it," Oliver agreed, pointing at his youngest before he turned. He stopped and looked back into the bathroom to find Grace gathering up all the toys, her feet balanced on a towel to keep them from getting wet, far too much water on the floor to avoid it otherwise. "You want some help?"

She looked up at him over her shoulder. "No, don't worry about it. Won't take me long."

He nodded. "You want a bowl of ice cream too?"

She smiled slowly and nodded. "Sure."

"No marshmallow fluff, right?"

Her nose wrinkled as she shook her head. "No, but if we've got—"

"I picked up some caramel sauce the other night. You want that instead?"

She perked up happily. "Yes!"

Oliver nodded and started down the hall then, glancing over at the open door of Breanna's room before he started down the stairs. He looked down at his wrist for the time and frowned. Her date would be there soon. There was no avoiding it. He frowned as he walked into the kitchen and dug out the bowls, spoons, ice cream, sauces, and marshmallow fluff. He prepared dessert on auto pilot; his mind elsewhere.

It didn't feel like it was so long ago that Breanna was just a baby. A beautiful, tiny little ball of squirming arms and legs, drooling and giggling like it was her job. When the most eventful part of her day was getting her diaper changed and the most important man in her life was him. He remembered holding her for the first time, knowing innocence like he never had before, feeling how fragile she was in his hands. And growing up, she was so inquisitive but accepting and loving. She was never afraid of his scars; they didn't make her pause or recoil.

As a baby, she never even seemed to notice them, laying atop his chest, trusting to the strongest degree possible. As a toddler, her curiosity grew, but she did little more than touch them or try to put her Disney band aids on them, kissing his owies better like he did for her. Later, when she was much older, and had access to the internet, he remembered finding her in her bedroom, crying, because she found out he'd spent five years on an island and now understood what his scars meant. He'd never explained it to her before, finding it difficult to try and explain something that horrific to a person he never wanted to be touched by that pain. But Breanna wanted details, she wanted to know how and who. Oliver was very careful about what he'd told her, only Felicity and John knew the true extent of what had happened, and it took years to get it all out. He didn't want Breanna to think of it when she looked at him. He was afraid it would change how she saw him, treated him; that he would no longer just be 'dad' to her. But she was resilient and, if possible, she only seemed to love him more for what had happened, or what she knew of it anyway.

And now his little girl was a young lady. She was going on her first date. The boy was her age, someone she'd grown up with through school. Felicity had already run a background check on the family and they were average, nothing stood out or raised flags, which both reassured and disappointed him. Part of him was happy that she could have a normal life, that her first date wouldn't be marred in any way, but another part of him almost wished the family had a secret so he could keep his daughter from going out, from getting involved, from growing up.

"If you put any more fluff on that, Robbie'll go into diabetic shock," Felicity's voice suddenly interrupted his thoughts.

He paused and looked down to see the bowl overflowing with marshmallow fluff. "Uh…" He frowned. "Distracted."

"Yeah, I can see that." She circled the island and took the spoon from him, hip checking him out of the way before she scooped off more than half the fluff and divided it between his and her bowls, leaving Grace's untouched by it. Licking her finger clean as she started capping everything and putting it away, she looked over at him. "What's up, handsome? You've got your surly thinking face on."

"Surly thinking face," he repeated, his lips twitching.

"Sure." She shrugged. "There's your blank thinking face, your confused thinking face, your—" She tipped her head, "—surprised thinking face…"

He pointed. "I do that to you a lot."

She smiled. "Yes, you do. I pride myself on that, actually."

"Surprising me?"

Nodding, she hopped up to sit on the counter, swinging her legs back and forth. "Been doing it since you met me, so now it's just a tradition I feel I have to keep up."

"Is that right…?" He stepped toward her, moving in between her knees, his hands falling to either side of her hips. "You've done a very good job then."

"Gold star for me," she murmured, tipping her head back and looking at him through half-lidded eyes. "But don't think you're distracting me… What's with the surly thinking face?" She raised an eyebrow. "I'll wager two-hundred on daughter's first date, Alec."

He sighed, casting his eyes away.

"She's fourteen," Felicity reminded, reaching for him, her hands smoothing up and down his sides.

He nodded.

"And she was really careful about who she wanted to date. She's been asked before and she's always turned them down. Meaning she knows she's ready."

He nodded again.

"So what is it? She's growing up, you're not ready, what?"

He turned back to her. "She's fourteen… and I trust her… I know she's ready."

"You're just not sure you're ready."

He frowned down at her. "Which isn't a good enough excuse, I know."

"Doesn't change how you feel." Her hands slid up and down his back gently. "It was going to happen, whether you wanted it to or you were ready or not. And you've been good about it. You didn't shut her down or put the fear of God into him, so bonus points for good parenting."

He stifled a smile and shook his head.

She tugged on his shirt, bringing him in closer. "You're allowed to be worried and stay up all night wondering if he held her hand or he kissed her. What matters is that you support her and her decisions and you let her do things even if you're not sure you're ready. Because she has to know that the biggest male influence in her life is a good man who trusts and believes in her and knows she will make the best choices for her."

"You were reading those parenting books again, weren't you?"

She grinned. "I might've skimmed a few for this occasion."

He chuckled under his breath and leaned down to kiss her, sighing into her lips as they parted. His hands slid around her back, pulling her closer, as hers slid up his chest to wrap behind his neck.

"Ew, old people kissing."

They broke apart to find Grace frowning at them.

"I thought we agreed this was a no hanky-panky zone," she said, twirling her finger around to suggest the kitchen.

"I'm still taking offense to the 'old people' comment…" Felicity answered. "Just for that, I'm going to put fluff on your ice cream." She reached over and grabbed a spoonful of fluff off her dessert and reached toward her daughter's.

"Hey!" Grace ran over and grabbed her bowl, hugging it to her chest. "Sorry! I take it back. You're young and wrinkleless and this is not the dessert you were looking for…" She waved a hand at them in a Jedi-mind-trick fashion and backed out of the room. "Please, return to your kissing."

Felicity laughed, dropping her face to his chest in amusement. "I love our children…"

"They're not bad," he agreed, rubbing his hands up and down her back as he hugged her to him.

The doorbell rang then and he went rigid against her, realizing who it was.

Suddenly there were heavy footsteps on the stairs and he knew Breanna was racing down them. He watched through the doorway as she stopped, smoothed out her hair, and casually crossed the foyer toward the door.

"We should go say hi," Felicity said. "Preferably soon, so the ice cream doesn't melt."

"Or we could invite him in. They could have their date here. With us and… ice cream. You think he likes marshmallow fluff?"

"If I remember correctly, our first date had ice cream," she reminded, pushing him back a little so she could hop down off the counter. "You licked it off me."

He turned his eyes up thoughtfully and nodded at the memory. "I left dessert out when I told Breanna we went out for dinner for our first date."

She smirked at him over her shoulder. "I assume you left out the week's worth of sex we had pre-dating too."

"Yes, but a few choice memories were brought up… Specifically involving my desk."

Her grin turned mischievous as she wiggled her eyebrows. "We should discuss those memories later… in detail."

He smiled as he caught up to her, his hands finding her hips again as they moved into the foyer.

Breanna was smiling up at a tall boy who was grinning just as goofily at her.

"It's like a silent movie. They've been doing this since she opened the door. I don't even think they said hello," Grace told them before digging out another bite of her ice cream.

Hearing her, Breanna cast a glare over her shoulder, and then spotted her parents. "Dad, mom, this is Patrick," she said, waving a hand to him. "His mom's waiting out front in the car. She's going to drive us to the movie and pick us up after."

"Uh, hi Mr. and Mrs. Queen," Patrick greeted, moving forward to offer them a handshake.

Felicity looked amused and took his hand. "Nice to meet you, Patrick… Your mom's just outside?" She looked past his shoulder. "Maybe I'll go say hi… Ask her about her insurance coverage, see if the air bags are engaged, you know, usual mom stuff." She patted Oliver's hand on her hip before she stepped out of his grip and moved to the door.

Oliver watched her go before turning his attention back to the boy who had his hand out for him to shake. For a moment, he considered being petty and ignoring it, but then he remembered what Felicity had said about being supportive, so he pasted on a faint smile and took Patrick's hand, giving it a quick, hard shake, and took only mild enjoyment out of the way the boy winced.

"So you two know each other from school," he said, looking between them.

"Uh, yeah, we have calculus together…" Patrick said, shrugging.

"What movie are you planning to see?"

"Breanna said she wanted to see something funny, so I just figured we'd see what was playing."

He hummed and looked over at his hopeful eldest daughter. "Just as long as you're back by ten."

"Oh, of course. My, uh, my curfew's ten too, so we'll probably be back early."

"Even better." He nodded.

Felicity was on her way back in, smiling, and he relaxed a little.

"Well, you two have fun." He offered a faint smile to Patrick before he turned to his daughter.

Patrick started for the door. "It was nice meeting you."

Breanna moved to follow but then paused and walked back. She reached up on her tip-toes to kiss Oliver's cheek. "I've got my phone on me in case of emergency and I'll text mom with what movie we're going to. I'll be back on time, I promise."

He looked down at her then, his expression softening. "I know." He swallowed tightly and then nodded toward the door. "Go. Have fun."

She smiled up at him before turning on her heel and hurrying out the door, taking Patrick's hand just a few feet from the car waiting for them.

Grace walked over and closed the front door before turning back to them. "Well, that was fun," she said dismissively, before frowning suddenly. "Hey, where's Robbie?"

Felicity paused. "Oh no!" She turned and hurried into the kitchen.

Oliver entered mere seconds after her and had to stifle a laugh.

Robbie, being the sneak he was, had already found the three leftover dessert dishes, and he'd eaten all the marshmallow fluff off the top of them. He smiled up at his mother unrepentantly, fluff ringing his mouth, and dug his spoon into his ice cream for another bite.

Sighing, Felicity rolled her eyes. "You're the reason we put the marshmallow fluff in places you can't find it," she told him before grabbing her and Oliver's bowls of ice cream and walking toward him. "C'mon… We'll see what's on TV. Hopefully your sugar crash knocks you out for the night."

Robbie chased after them, ice cream bowl in hand, ducking and weaving around them as he hurried toward the living room.

Grace rolled her eyes. "Are you sure they didn't accidentally switch the babies in the hospital? Maybe there's some calm, quiet little boy out there that really belongs with us. We should at least give it some serious consideration…"

Felicity laughed and hugged an arm around her. "Sorry, that one's all ours."

Grace frowned, her shoulders slumping. "You say so…"

"I blame the extra energy on your dad… I was all about books and computers growing up. Your dad was the one who couldn't sit still."

She looked back at her dad and stuck her tongue out at him.

He shrugged. "At least he has personality."

"Yeah, too much of it," she grumbled.

Grace separated from them to find her favorite armchair, slumping down in it with her legs tossed over the arm. Robbie took the one adjacent to hers, sitting on the back of it, bouncing energetically. Felicity and Oliver sat on the couch, with her leaning against his side. He turned the TV on and scrolled through the listings until they all found something they could agree on. Sitting back, he leisurely ate his ice cream as they watched some mildly amusing sitcom.

Over the next two hours, both Robbie and Grace passed out in their respective chairs. Felicity carried their son while Oliver scooped up Grace and they climbed the stairs together. After their kids were comfortably put to bed and tucked in, they went back downstairs to put the dishes away in the dishwasher before returning to the couch to relax for a while. He decided not to start patrol until Breanna was home from her date; then he'd don the hood and see what trouble he could find.

Laying back against the couch, Felicity stroked her fingers through his hair as he rested his head on her stomach, his hand under her shirt, fingers absently stroking her hip.

"Who was the first boy you dated?" he wondered.

She hummed as she thought, her head tipped back. "I told you about him… His name was Ed. Really nice guy. I was a freshman in college, just kind of coming into my own, you know? It was a whole new Felicity. That's when I started dying my hair and wearing brighter colors. I wanted to stand out."

"Did you?"

"Kind of. There were always prettier girls, though. Girls who weren't socially awkward and didn't ramble."

"I like when you ramble."

"I hope so. It's been twenty-three years. If you were sick of it now, we'd end up being that angry, bitter couple that hates each other and completely disillusion our children about the wonders of love and marriage…" She frowned. "Imagine how hard that'd make work, too. Because let's face it, divorced or not, there'd no way I'm letting you and Digg go out there and play hero without me in your ear. I mean, Digg would probably be okay with it. He wouldn't pick sides; he'd just tell us to stop arguing over the comm.'s. Maybe we could go 50/50 on him, and rotate Wednesdays…"

He chuckled low into his chest and turned his head, burying his face against her stomach. "Felicity, we aren't getting divorced… ever."

"You say that now…"

Rolling his eyes, he pushed himself up and stole a kiss before reaching around her, his hand on her hip, and dragging her down the couch so she was laying beside him. Smiling down at her, he brushed her hair back from her face before he let his finger drag down the side, tracing the space from the tail of eyebrow to under the curve of her cheek and down to the corner of her upturned lips. Her knee slid up and over his hip, her leg tucked in behind him.

"Earlier, Breanna asked me how I knew you were the one…" He stared at her searchingly. "And I started asking myself something. Wondering how my life would be if I didn't have you, or if I never kissed you that night…"

"Yeah?" She bit her lip before asked quietly. "And where do you think you'd be?"

His jaw ticked. "Lost… Lonely…" He rubbed his thumb under her lip, tracing the curve. "I was lucky. Finding you when I did… I wouldn't be half the person I am today if it wasn't for you. I wouldn't be as happy as I am. I wouldn't have my family." His brow furrowed. "For the longest time after I got off that island, I thought I would just barely make it through. There were days I didn't want anything more than to just go to sleep and not wake up… But from the very beginning, from the very first moment we talked, there was something about you, something that changed everything for me… I didn't get it then. It took me a while, but I felt free with you… So I like the babbling, because it reminds me that I'm really here, and I've got you, and I wouldn't want it any other way."

She smiled gently up at him and slid her hand up to cup his face. "Well, you won't get it any other way. You're stuck with me. I'm talking long haul, matching wheelchairs in the old folk's home, long haul."

He laughed under his breath and bent to kiss her. He meant for it to be brief and sweet, but soon found his lips slanting over hers, a little deeper, a little longer each time. It wasn't difficult to get lost in her; there were days when he would happily spend every waking moment just wrapped up in her. But life often intervened; in the form of Queen Consolidated, his family, or the general well-being of the city. Usually, after the kids were put to put, they got some time to themselves. And it helped that they worked together, both at QC and the foundry; there were always little stretches of time they could steal with each other.

Tonight, however, they weren't so lucky.

His hands slid up her shirt, pushing it to just under her breasts, while his head ducked down, mouth sucking kisses over her stomach. Her fingers were filing through his hair, curling and scratching at the nape of his neck. He'd just undone the button on her jeans and was pulling them down her hips, fully intending to bury his mouth at the apex of her thighs, when the front door opened. Apparently Breanna's curfew was upon them and, while Oliver would probably much rather continue what he was doing with his wife, he could already hear Breanna walking their way.

He sat up abruptly, glancing at Felicity out of the corner of his eye while she righted her clothes and shuffled up the couch a bit.

She smiled just as Breanna walked into the room. "Hey."

Breanna gave her a wistful smile before walking across the room and sitting down in the space between them, resting her head on her mother's shoulder.

She raised a hand to her lips and Felicity's eyes widened. "He kissed you."

Breanna flushed, her eyes falling. "It wasn't long… like six seconds."

"Six good seconds, or six slobbering seconds? Because trust me, I've gone through that, not fun."

She giggled to herself before looking up at her. "Good." She shrugged then. "It wasn't like, fireworks or anything. It was just… really nice."

"Well, for a first kiss, that's just what you want."

"Yeah?" she asked, hopefully.


"What was your first kiss like?"

Her nose scrunched up. "Slobbery. Totally unfortunate."

Breanna chuckled. "What about your best kiss?"

"Mmm… That was a long time after, totally different boy." She stroked a hand through her daughter's hair. "He had road-rash after a particularly bone-headed move with his motorcycle." She shook her head. "He thought he was so cool…"

Oliver rolled his eyes. "That move did exactly what I wanted it to."

"In the moment," she corrected. "You never think after the after-effects."

"That's not true," he argued. "I knew you'd patch me up after. I didn't expect to kiss you, but as soon as I did, I knew exactly where it was going."

"Really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

He nodded. "Really."

"So twenty years ago, you knew this was where we'd be?"

He glanced down at Breanna. "She doesn't believe me, but twenty years ago, I kissed your mother and it was like every piece of the puzzle suddenly fit."

"What'd the puzzle look like?" his daughter wondered.

He half-smiled at her. He could have said a few things: peace, redemption, salvation, love. But what he said instead was, "Like a light… A bright light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel… And it only grew brighter, until it touched everything, and suddenly the shadows were smaller, they were bearable."

Breanna stared up at him a long moment and then she nodded. Standing from the couch, she bent to kiss each of their cheeks. "I didn't get that, not this time, but one day, I'm going to. In fact, I'm not marrying anybody until I do." She grinned then, turned on her heel, and walked away. "Night!"

Oliver grinned after her before he turned to his wife. "Bed?"

Nodding, she took his hand as he stood, climbing from the couch. He tangled his fingers with hers as they left the room, turning off the lights as they went. They moved room to room, shutting off the numerous lights still left on before they started up the stairs. They paused at Robbie's room, listening for his snoring before they moved on to Grace's bedroom. She was a lighter sleeper, an arm and a leg dangling off the edge of her bed. The light was on under Breanna's room as they passed it and Oliver wondered if she'd be up for a while, replaying the night's events in her head.

A boy had kissed his daughter tonight. It didn't make him angry or sad, nor did it worry him like it had earlier. Breanna was young, yes, and he'd always worry about her, always want the best for her, but he also knew that she wanted the best for herself too, and she wouldn't settle for less.

As he started down the hall to their bedroom, he swept Felicity up into his arms and carried her. She let out a laugh, her arm wrapping around his shoulders. He walked into the room, closing the door behind him with his foot, and brought her to their bed, dropping her down in the center, smiling as she bounced a little.

She turned over and pushed up to her knees, crooking a finger to ask him closer, but he reached for her and tugged her back toward him, at the edge of the bed.

"Ready to pick up where we left off?" she asked as his fingers slid over the bottom of her shirt, reaching under for the soft skin beneath.

He pulled it up and over her head, tossing it toward the laundry basket before he ducked down to kiss her, his arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her up until they were chest to chest. She hummed contently and slid her legs around his waist. For a long few minutes, all that passed between them were dragging kisses, until she was breathless, her head tipped back, and his mouth moved down her neck.

Her fingers curled into his hair and tugged. "I love you," she whispered.

He nipped at her collar bone. "I love you, too."

She shook her head and looked down at him. "You look at me sometimes, like I saved you, like I gave you something special and amazing, but you did the same for me." Her forehead pressed against his. "I'm happy with you, Oliver. I'm happy with our life and our children and our behind-the-scenes heroics… I'm happy, and I know I wouldn't be any happier with anybody else. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be. You are exactly who I want to be with." Her hands slid down his neck and over his shoulders, squeezing lightly. "My puzzle came together when we kissed, too. It's still coming together right now. With me and you and our kids. And it's perfect." She kissed him, short and sweet. "Completely and totally perfect."

Half-smiling, he leaned them back onto the bed, cradled comfortably between her legs. "So you don't ever wish things had turned out better with Ed? That you were just a regular IT girl, no vigilante drama, just nine-to-five and regular days off?"

She laughed. "No. Never."

He nodded and kissed the tip of her nose. "Good."

"Very good. Now…" She reached down for the end of his shirt and pulled it up his back. "As wife of a very good looking billionaire vigilante… I'd like to enjoy one of my favorite perks." She wiggled her eyebrows up at him.

Leaning back, he pulled his shirt up and off and relaxed as her hands slid down his chest, moving over scar tissue and tattooed skin with absolute appreciation. Twenty-three years and she'd never once looked at him with revulsion, like his body, the history that was carved into it, scared or disgusted her. He could still remember the way she kissed his scars that first night they slept together; she never hesitated, just accepted it all as part of him. He was pretty sure he fell in love with her that very night, and he never looked back.

It'd been a long day, not without its worries. His daughter had gone on her first date, and enjoyed her first kiss. She was growing up, finding herself, and he would just have to support her, whether she walked the path without disruption or if she stumbled along the way. He would be there. He'd pick her up if she fell, dust her off, and put her back on the right path. He didn't expect he'd have to though. He lucked out. With Felicity, with Breanna, with everyone who mattered to him now.

Twenty years ago he kissed his IT girl; his girl Friday; one of his best friends, and it turned out to be the best decision he ever made. In fact, as far as first kisses went, it was the only one he wanted to remember. That was his beginning, their beginning, and it led them here. He wouldn't change a thing; not the worst of it and not the best of it, because it was all leading to now, to everything he was and everything he had. And that was worth it. It was all worth it.