Title: Every whisper, every sigh (eats away this heart of mine)
Series: Broken Hearts and Betrayal
Word Count: 6,466
Summary: "If I have no chance, if you're really done with me… Say the word. I'll respect it. I'll stop trying to fix it. Just tell me you're done… Because if you don't, I'm not going to give up on you."
Previous: When they ask me if I regret it (I'll lie and say I do), I really fucked it up this time (didn't I, my dear?), I saved you every time (I was a fool for love), Things cannot be reversed (we learn from times we are cursed),
Every whisper, every sigh (eats away this heart of mine)
Allen Warren cleared enjoyed attention. He stood atop the stage, a tall, bubbling glass of champagne in one hand and a microphone in the other. Oliver could just imagine him practicing his speech in front of the mirror, with appropriate pauses for clapping and laughter, like the true narcissist he was. He would practice humility so when others came up to thank him for his hard work, he looked appropriately modest, all the while laughing at the manipulation he wielded so easily.
"It has been my aim from the beginning to do what I can to keep the good people of Starling City safe and I hope, since you're all here, that I've done my job!"
Everyone gathered clapped for him appropriately, and the idea that they truly believed that was his aim turned Oliver's stomach. These people had put their trust in Allen Warren; they had paid him for the dream he'd sold them of safety. And because he wanted more money, a man had been brutally killed. Here he stood, however, not an inkling of remorse, playing to the crowd, enjoying their attention, clueless, or careless, of the pain he'd caused.
As Allen continued talking, Felicity used the moment to turn around, leaving Oliver's close proximity and composing herself as she did. She forced a smile just in case their host or the guests looked in her direction, but he could see from the stiff set of her shoulders that she was not as at ease as others might think.
Oliver's jaw ticked. He hated that their moment had been interrupted when he finally felt like he was making headway, but it was a good reminder that they had a mission to accomplish. He vaguely listened to the rest of Allen's speech, but his attention was split between the stage and Felicity. They weren't making a move on Allen's office until after dinner, so he had some time until then. He'd already gone over the layout of the house a hundred times with Digg; he knew where he was going and how to get there. It was just a matter of making sure that security didn't notice them sneaking away.
Finally, finishing his speech with a flourish, Allen invited the group to dine with him and two sets of doors were opened, leading into the dining room. Delighted, the crowd moved toward the doors, filing through to find a long table dressed in silverware, candles, and elaborate displays of fruit and flowers. White name cards with gold script marked where everyone was sitting and Oliver pulled Felicity's chair out before taking a seat in his own.
Standing at the head of the table with a too-bright smile, Allen told them all to enjoy before he clapped his hands and took a seat.
Oliver barely noticed the appetizer they brought out except for Felicity lowering her head to breathe in the scent of it.
"So hungry," she murmured.
He reached for her glass and filled it with ice water from the jug within reach. "There'll be plenty to eat. I'm surprised he only went with five courses."
"Ugh, you'd need scissors to get me out of my dress if there was more than five." She paused. "Not that you'll be helping me out of my dress. Because you won't."
He half-smiled at her, a brow raised.
She glared at him, but there was no heat in it. "Shut up."
He chuckled under his breath and watched as she picked up her fork to try what was on her plate. She took one bite and immediately gave a soft moan of appreciation.
Shifting in his seat, he cleared his throat. "Good?"
"Heavenly." She waved her fork at him. "I've changed my mind. Make it eight courses. The dress is disposable."
"I'll pass it on to our host."
She paused, looking past him toward Allen at the head of the table. Leaning closer so she wouldn't be overheard, she said, "You know, I still think it's weird. I know he's a bad guy, I know he's done terrible things, but I still expect it to be written all over them…" Her eyes narrowed. "He does have a greasy car salesman vibe though… Like, Wormwood greasy, but with more hair."
He blinked down at her. "Wormwood?"
"From Matilda… Danny DeVito." At his completely blank face, she rolled her eyes. "It was made in '96, Oliver, you don't even have an excuse for that one."
"We'll have to watch it sometime," he said easily.
"Felicity," someone called, and her attention was quickly diverted.
Across from them sat a handsome, older couple; Diane and Archibald Matthews, Oliver remembered.
Diane smiled at Felicity brightly. "It's so nice to see you, dear. We haven't seen you at an event in too long."
"She had the stomach flu, you remember dear," her husband told her, patting her hand affectionately.
"That's right. How have you been feeling?" Diane worried.
"Oh, um…" She turned her head to look at Oliver, her brows hiked. "How am I feeling, Oliver?"
"Much better," he answered, grinning at Diane and Archie. His hand landed on her back, rubbing circles between her shoulder blades. "The flowers you sent were very beautiful, thank you."
"Yes, so beautiful," Felicity said, and he felt her fingers pinch his leg.
He covered his wince with a forced smile. "How have you been? I haven't seen you since the benefit dinner for the women's shelter."
"Good. We've been traveling," Archie answered, squeezing his wife's hand. "If she could, I think this one would live on the jet."
"It is well stocked," she joked.
Felicity smiled gently, looking between them with a soft affection. The first time Oliver introduced her to the Matthews, she'd gushed that they were the cutest couple she'd ever seen. 'They're just so in love, after all those years together,' she'd said. 'Do you know how special that is?'
He watched her watching them, replying to Diane though he wasn't listening to the conversation. He liked how animated she was, how her hands were always moving along with her. In the past, he'd had to learn how to avoid being smacked in the face by those waving hands, but he'd long gotten used to it. It was just one of those things that made her who she was.
She turned then, looking him in the eye, her head quirked.
"Sorry?" he said, realizing he'd missed something.
"Diane was just asking if you knew of any places to visit in Dubai. I told her we stayed in the Hyatt the last time we were there, but…" Her brows hiked, "we didn't get much sight-seeing done."
"Oh." He looked back the Matthews and offered a sheepish smile. "Sorry. I've been distracted tonight."
"Oh, we understand. Young love." Diana grinned at him before winking at Felicity. "Lucky girl. He can hardly keep his eyes off you."
Felicity offered a faint smile, but was poking at the appetizer on her plate with her fork.
"That's what got us talking last time, when you had that flu, dear. He looked so lost without you there." Diane laughed lightly and reached over to readjust her husband's bowtie. "Just like my Archie, I'd imagine."
"I'm sure it wasn't that bad," Felicity said with a chuckle, playing with the stem of her water glass for a distraction. "Oliver's been coming to these things for years."
"If there's one thing I learned in all my years of marriage, it's that when you get a good partner, you don't let them go, and you realize why when they're not there." Diane smiled at her husband. "Things like these, they get old fast. But when you have the right person to share them with, they fly by. It's not just about having a husband. It's about having your best friend there to make you laugh. Somebody to commiserate with is fine, but what you really want is someone who'll make it better just by being there."
Felicity's smile was forced. "Sounds like you have it all figured out."
"I certainly like to think so," she laughed.
The wait staff returned then with a second appetizer and Oliver took the chance to return to the previous topic, telling Diane and Archie about a few must-see places in Dubai. The conversation stayed relatively safe after that as they moved through each course.
As Felicity picked at her salad, particularly enjoying the goat cheese, he sat back in his chair, laughing at a story Archie was sharing about his rather rebellious youth. From the corner of his eyes, he noticed Felicity's hair slipping off her shoulder, en route to her salad, and reached out to catch the spilling curls, pulling them back over her shoulder to drape down her back.
She turned to look at him, her finger pressed to her lips as she chewed, and noticed his fingers were stroking down over her shoulder blade. He hadn't realized his hand was lingering until she stared in the direction of his hand and he slowly drew it away, careful not to bring attention to it lest someone notice. Or so he comforted himself. The truth was, he missed touching her, he missed that connection with another person. Felicity was one of the very few people he felt comfortable being physical with, and now that he couldn't, he was constantly aware of the lack of touch in his current life.
Salad was replaced with a palate cleanser, which Felicity hummed happily over.
"Pink grapefruit," she informed him, wiggling in her seat a little.
"Matches your lipstick," he said, eyeing the pale pink sorbet.
She smiled down at it, scooping a small bite into her mouth and letting it melt on her tongue.
When she noticed he wasn't eating any, her brow furrowed. "You're not eating."
He shook his head. "I'm fine."
"You didn't have any of the appetizers or the salad," she reminded.
"I'm not hungry."
She put on her stubborn force and inhaled deeply. He could feel a lecture coming his way and sighed.
"Oliver, what did you have for lunch?"
He frowned, turning his eyes up thoughtfully. He honestly couldn't remember what he'd eaten. He'd been busy planning, and when he wasn't thinking about the mission, he'd been thinking of how he would change her mind, which he hadn't made much progress in so far.
"I'm sure I had something," he muttered.
She raised an eyebrow.
He stared back.
Her lips pursed.
He sighed. "I'll eat the entrée."
Her expression softened. "You can't forget take care of yourself," she murmured.
Slowly, he nodded. "I know."
But it was all he thought about after the entrée and dessert had come and went. He did have to take care of himself. While he was with Felicity, she hadn't taken care of him, per se. She had worried and fussed, but that was her default setting. She did the same to Diggle. Oliver had survived before Felicity and he'd fallen into a routine when he was with her. It was just after their relationship had fallen apart that he had trouble finding his footing again. He didn't need her to baby him, to be his mother, he was a fully grown adult. It was just that when she wasn't there, the routine was gone, what he was used to was no longer part of the general landscape of the day. So when lunch came around, he didn't have it to share with her. He put the order in with his assistant each morning, making sure that Felicity had her lunch, but when it came to planning for himself, he simply didn't remember to. Cynthia had picked up on this and was trying to schedule a real lunch hour for him, but things were so disjointed at Queen Consolidated, things were always happening that didn't follow the set schedule for the day, so it was hard to move with the flow and keep up with necessary self-care.
If he was being honest, some part of him wasn't trying. He didn't like how things were; it was a minor rebellion, he supposed. Like how he'd been with his previous assistants, how he'd dismissed each of them as unnecessary, not because of their actual work ethic, but because they weren't Felicity. He was creating a new routine and it was unhealthy, because he missed how it had been before. He missed her. He missed their life together. And some unhealthy part of him thought that if he just blatantly discarded the way his life was now, it would go back to how he wanted it. Which, of course, made no sense. He spent five years on an island, wishing day and night that he could go back to how it was, and that wish never truly came to fruition. He left the island, but nothing was ever the same, it was never what it was. What did that say about him and Felicity? If he did change her mind, would they be the same? Would they ever bounce back from what had happened in that office six weeks ago?
He turned to look at her, smiling, her elbows resting on the table as she leaned forward, nodding to something Diane was saying. She was so beautiful, so kind and supportive and strong. Despite how she'd felt about tonight, despite her uncertainty and her discomfort with him, she'd pushed through that for the mission. Even after crying, after telling him she wasn't sure she could do this with him, that exes weren't friends for a reason, she still managed to pull through and keep going. She was surviving this break up a lot better than he was. He felt like he was falling apart most mornings. Like some very significant part of himself was missing. If she felt that way, she wasn't showing it. He knew she was sad, he knew she was broken up about what happened and hurt about what he did, but Felicity didn't show it the same way he did. In that regard, maybe she was the stronger of the two of them. He might have the physical strength, but she had the emotional strength.
Chairs were being pushed back from the table and he shook off his melancholy thoughts, focusing back on the present.
Felicity had her clutch in hand once more and pressed a hand to his shoulder. "I let Digg know that we finished dinner. There should be dancing and mingling after this and then he'll make another speech, probably more of the sales-pitch variety. Somewhere in between those two, we should do our sneak-away."
He nodded, standing from his seat, his hand finding the small of her back as he walked her toward the ball room. People were standing in groups, chatting about this or that. Allen was moving from group to group, trying to impress and talk up his security company. Felicity was tense. She usually was before they had to execute a mission. In the past, it had been easy to distract her. More than once, he'd simply kissed down her neck and whispered promises of how they would celebrate their victory, feeling her relax into his arms, leaning against his chest. But he couldn't do that now, and he was at a loss for a moment as to how he could get her to find her calm until they had to make a move.
And then he heard the band cue up again.
"Dance?" he asked, holding a hand out.
She looked up at him in surprise. "What?"
He reached down for her hand and twined their fingers, drawing her with him toward the space that had been specifically cleared for dancing, though nobody else had taken advantage yet. "You're tense. If we're going to sneak out of here, they have to think we're caught up in the moment…" He turned toward her, his hand sliding over her hip and around to the small of her back, drawing her closer, until their hips brushed together. He raised their twined hands up in the air while her free hand found his shoulder, and they started to move slowly, finding a comfortable rhythm between them.
He stared down at her, though her eyes had settled on his chin and refused to rise any higher.
"Do you remember the first time we came to one of these together?" he asked, watching her pink tongue dart out to lick her lips. "We'd been dating two weeks and there was a fundraiser for the children's hospital… You wore a purple cocktail dress… They had some of the kids from the hospital there and there was a little girl who loved the skirt of your dress. She asked you to spin for her… I think you spent half the night twirling just because it made her smile."
"She said I looked like a princess," she murmured, smiling. "Her name was Emily. She was a sweetheart."
"I think that's the moment I realized I was content."
Her brow furrowed as she looked up at him.
"There aren't a lot of times in my life when things slow down enough that I can enjoy anything. It's just one thing after another. One mission ends and another's waiting. One crisis at work is fixed and there's something else that pops up… And these galas and benefits, I knew they were important, but they all felt like they were just one more thing I needed to add to the pile. One more thing to split my attention between…" He smiled faintly. "And then you were there, and you were twirling, and suddenly I wasn't waiting for it to end, I was just there, in that moment, watching a beautiful, smart, kind woman make a little girl smile."
Her hand squeezed his shoulder, gripping so tight he could feel the fabric of his jacket ball up under her palm. "Sometimes after work, I get on the elevator and I just stand there… I want to push the button and go up to your floor, but I don't…" She shook her head. "I want to tell you about my day, I want to hear how yours went, so I stand there… I just stand there, staring at the buttons, until someone else gets on the elevator, and then I remember that I can't do that. I can't share that with you anymore."
"You could. You can always come to me."
She let out a huff of a sigh and loosened her hand, sliding it down his arm, her thumb rubbing circles over his bicep absently. "No, Oliver, I can't… The way you look at me… That sad, lost look you get in your eyes. It hurts. It physically hurts to look at you and think that you hurt when I feel like you did this. You changed this."
"I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty…" He shook his head, swallowing tightly as he felt his throat burn with emotion. "I just miss you." His hand swept up her back, sliding under the soft waves of her hair, feeling them tickle his skin, before his fingers dragged back down. "I…"
He blew out a heavy breath and stepped a little closer, ducking his head until his cheek was against her temple. The hand he had tangled in hers spread open, his fingers standing upright, and hers followed. He stroked his fingers down the length of hers, dragging the pads over her palm before knitting them together once more. He brought her hand up then for him to kiss her wrist, where her pulse had picked up.
"Sunday mornings, chocolate chip pancakes in bed, and after, you'd just lay there, falling in and out of sleep, curled up against my side, playing with my fingers… Those were the best mornings. Looking down and seeing you'd fallen back asleep, your head on my arm. And then you'd wake up, and you'd smile at me sleepily… That's what I miss."
He untangled their fingers and slid his hand down her arm, looping it up around his neck before his fingers danced down over her side, squeezing her hip before it slid around her back and pulled her in close, until their chests were pressed flat together.
"I miss falling asleep on the couch with you while your tech shows play in the background… Going over paperwork while you read a book with your head in my lap… Having lunch together and breakfast and dinner and sharing a bottle of wine on really bad nights, just trying to make it a little better… I miss your voice and your face and how excited you get when you've tracked someone down or broken through a firewall. I just miss you, everything about you, every day."
He felt it, a warm tear against his cheek, but honestly didn't know if it was his or hers.
"It's time," Digg's voice in his ear piped up. "Security shift change. Allen forgot to reschedule it for the event. Check the doors."
As Digg had suggested, a few of the guards were speaking into cuff links and moving from their place by a number of exits toward the main door leading out of the ball room.
Oliver sighed before switching into Arrow mode. He maneuvered Felicity off the floor, keeping her close against his side as he bent his face down into the crook of her neck, briefly distracted by the scent of her perfume dabbed there. "How long do we have?"
"Not long. The next shift will take over almost immediately. But it gives you time to sneak back there. When you come out, you can explain it away as needing some private time."
Felicity pressed up against him for anybody who might be watching and, together, they made their way toward the doors leading to the hall that Allen's office was tucked away in. As soon as they were through the doors, letting them close behind them, Felicity let out a heavy breath and extracted herself from him.
"The cameras aren't set up yet. He has no eyes back here yet. That's the problem with moving into a new place; he hasn't got all of his security up and running yet."
Oliver quickly looked over the halls. "You're sure?"
She nodded. "He's probably focusing on certain security measures first, but with the party, he hasn't had time… He only moved in two weeks ago, and half that time was spent making sure the ball room and dining hall were up to par. Anywhere the guests might see… This house might be rich with history, but that also means it's old. There were a few repairs he had to have done before he moved in or had anybody over."
Oliver nodded, taking her word for it. They moved down the hall quickly, with him a few steps ahead, just in case they ran into anyone.
"That way," she said, pointing at one of the three hallways that segued together. "This place is kind of maze-like, actually. I wonder if he ever gets lost."
"Right. Third day on the left. Should be big; his office isn't small. In fact, it's the size of a small library." Her lips twitched.
He stopped at the double doors and tried the handle, surprised to find it unlocked.
"For a guy who runs security, this is sad," she muttered.
He paused. "You're right."
Her brow raised. "What?"
"He has a security company. This is too easy." He frowned staring down at the door handle. "It's a fake."
"What do you mean?"
"The handle's a fake. It's an illusion."
She shook her head. "I'm not following."
"If you turn the handle, it sets off an alarm. There's another way in," Digg spoke up. "Smart."
"There aren't any hidden passageways on the blue prints," Felicity said. "Just a door."
"The door is still a door, there's just a different way to open it," Oliver muttered, sliding his hands over the doors, searching for a hidden panel or button. And then he felt it, a small indent, a groove in the wood. He pressed down on it and heard a click. And then the outline of a door formed within the right-hand door. He pressed his hand against the wood and the panel moved back and then slid to the left, allowing them access. He looked back at Felicity, who rolled her eyes at his smug half-smirk.
He walked inside and she followed, moving past him toward the computer quickly, her dress swishing around her legs as she circled the desk and took a seat in the leather chair. Opening her clutch, she took out a USB and plugged it into the tower of the computer before quickly setting to work hacking into the system. She bit her lip with concentration, her eyes scanning every window that popped up, demanding codes and passwords before she hacked past that and further into the system. Oliver divided his attention between listening for any guards outside the office and watching her at-work, the self-satisfaction on her face something he couldn't help but admire.
"How's it coming?" Digg wondered.
"He might be a terrible person, but he does have a background in security. How do you think it's going?" Felicity answered.
"Slowly… Too slowly."
"Unless you're currently hacking past his servers, you can zip it, buddy!"
"Do not sigh at me. Or you are getting no Thai food when this is over."
"When did we agree on Thai food?"
"When you weren't here and Oliver guilted me into feeling bad that you weren't getting any tiny food."
"If we're going with Thai, we should try that—"
"Sabhai Thai, I know," she interrupted. "Oh. Oh!" She fist-pumped and grinned across the room at Oliver. "I'm in."
"Good. Now how long will it take to download his hard drive?"
She shook her head side to side and then sighed. "Longer than you want."
He frowned, but nodded his head sharply. "Do what it takes."
Time always seemed to slow down when he was waiting on things out of his control. He couldn't make the download hurry up; it would take as long as it took and there was no changing it. But he was impatient, he always had been, and he was hyperaware of what was going on outside the room. He hadn't heard any guards so far, but he expected them to show up any minute now.
Luck, it seemed, was on their side, however. Felicity managed to download everything and erase any traces of her hacking into his computer before hopping up from the chair and joining him at the door. They slipped out, closing the hidden door behind them, and started down the hall, back toward the party. The closer they got, the more he tensed, and when they were just short of the door, he could make out the silhouette of a guard standing right in front of it.
"If we try a window, it'll set off the alarms," Felicity whispered.
He nodded and then turned to her; he reached up to muss her hair a little and swiped his thumb over her lips to smudge her lipstick, taking some of it to rub on the collar of his shirt, which he unbuttoned, loosening his tie to hang crookedly over his chest. And then, taking up the carefree grin he was known for, he knocked on the door, startling the guard in front of it. It opened abruptly and he was faced with a surprised and angry looking man.
"You can't be back there."
"A little late for that," Oliver answered before drawing Felicity forward.
She wiped at her lips, where he lipstick was smudged, and offered a sheepish smile to the guard. "Sorry. I'm sure this happens all the time. I mean, you've probably run security for a bunch of these things and people sneak away all the time, right?" Her brows hiked. "Not that I'd tell anyone you didn't see us sneak past! I wouldn't want to put your job in danger or anything. We were just a little… Well…"
"We were impatient and we saw an opening, so we took it," Oliver finished. He grinned roguishly and shrugged at the guard. "Listen, keep it between us and I'll make sure you get a nice bonus." With a wink, he slid his arm around Felicity's waist, hugging her to his side, and walked them back into the crowd, leaving the speechless guard behind them.
"Are you actually going to give him a bonus?" she wondered.
He shrugged. "Oliver Queen paying off security isn't new. I used to do it all the time. If the people he works for find out he let us get by, he'd get in more trouble than we would for sneaking around, having sex in a room somewhere. It pays to be discreet in their business."
She hummed thoughtfully and let it drop. "We need to get back to the foundry so I can see what I got off his drive."
"ETA?" Digg asked.
"Thirty minutes," Oliver replied, "We'll pick up the food on the way."
The click to let them know he'd gone silent followed.
Felicity fidgeted next to him. "How bad do I look right now?"
He frowned, looking down at her. "You look fine. You got all the lipstick off. Your hair's just a little messy."
"Really?" She combed her fingers through it. "Because I wanted to say goodbye to Diane and Archie, but I don't want them to think we were just having sex somewhere."
"That's exactly what we want them to think," he reminded.
"Yes, them, but not, you know, them."
He stared down at her.
"I don't want Archie and Diane to think that, because they're… sweet and kind of innocent."
"They're almost sixty and have five children. I don't think they're as innocent as you think they are."
She elbowed his side. "You know what I mean."
With that, she left him behind, hurrying her steps to reach the couple she liked so much. It took a few minutes to say goodbye, mostly because Diane liked to talk and kept trying to engage Felicity in conversation before she could leave, but finally he was able to tear her away, promising they'd catch up again soon.
After that, time seemed to fly by. They picked up the car from the valet, stopped at Sabhai Thai, and were back in the foundry just a little over their thirty-minute ETA. Felicity was quick to get to work, taking a seat in her chair and spinning toward her computers. She cracked her fingers and plugged in the USB, setting up a program to read through the files for anything important, while she skimmed a few of the labeled files, sharing bits and pieces that she thought Digg and Oliver would find interesting. For the most part, however, a lot of it would need more time than they had that night, and Felicity was already looking tired, her heels kicked off and her hair tied up in a ponytail. She yawned into her hand, blinking rapidly at her too-bright screen, scanning one of hundreds of files.
"I think I'm going to call it a night," Digg said, a couple hours after their return.
He wished them the best and gave Oliver a pointed look before he left.
The foundry was noticeably silent after Diggle's absence, and Oliver moved to stand behind her, his hand settled on the back of her chair. "It's getting late. We should probably head home."
She looked up abruptly. "Right. Sure. I just… I just need to make sure everything is running and then we can go. I can take a cab, actually."
"Felicity, I can drive you home."
"You don't have to. I—"
"I don't have to, but I'd like to… If you're okay with that."
She stared at the floor a long moment before finally nodding. "Yes… Yeah, I think that'll be fine."
He left her to her computers as he moved around the foundry, making sure everything was put away before they left. He hung his bow up for the night and gathered up the tennis balls he'd taken out to relieve stress earlier that day. He considered doing that now. He was feeling tense again; the night might have been a mission-wise, but he still felt like he hadn't done what he'd wanted to when he'd asked Felicity to join him. And that was the problem. He felt like they'd been stuck in the same place since they'd broken up. There was no traction, or little to none. She was at least talking to him now, meeting his eyes, willingly being in the same space as him without someone there as a buffer. But they were still apart, they were still separate, and he didn't like that. He didn't want that.
"Ready," Felicity said, drawing his attention once more.
He looked up from where he'd been fingering the edge of an arrow. He tucked it back where it was supposed to go and moved to meet her. He was still in his suit, but his shirt was untucked and unbuttoned at the top, his tie shed. He shrugged off his jacket and hung it around her shoulders as they moved toward the stairs. When she looked at him over her shoulder, he explained, "It's cold out and you didn't bring a jacket."
Her lips curled up faintly and she stepped forward, climbing the stairs up to the dark, empty club. They made their way outside and across the parking lot to where his car was waiting. He opened her car door and waited for her to climb in before circling around to the other side. And just as before, he turned on the heat and checked the radio station to see if it was on her station.
Pulling onto the road, he took the familiar route to her house. How many times had he driven that? Sometimes Digg dropped him off, but more often than not it was just him and Felicity in her car, heading back to her apartment for the night. He knew he'd feel just how empty his bed was when he got home; he was already dreading those cold sheets.
He found himself driving slower, taking his time, lingering; he didn't want her to leave yet. He didn't want it to go back to how it had been these last six weeks. He was tired, so tired, of being so close and yet so far at the same time. She was right there and still out of reach. And he wasn't sure if anything he'd done or said tonight had changed that.
In the end, he couldn't avoid the inevitable. He pulled up in front of her apartment building and climbed out of the car before she could protest. He opened her door and took her hand to help her out. It'd been a while since she'd worn heels, he thought absently. She'd taken to wearing her flats again, he noticed. The old panda heads he hadn't seen in too long. They still fit her somehow, despite how much everything had changed.
"Well, I guess, all things considered, tonight turned out pretty good," she said, half-smiling as she held her clutch to her stomach. She stood at the bottom of the stairs, his jacket still around her shoulders. "Nobody's bleeding and we got the info we wanted. A rare but much-deserved break, I think."
He nodded slowly. "Maybe our luck's turning around."
He tucked his hands in the pockets of his pants and frowned, his brow furrowing. "To be honest, tonight didn't go the way I wanted it to."
She paused for a moment, just staring at him. Her voice was soft when she replied, "No?"
He shook his head, licking his lips. "I'd hoped… I wanted… to prove something to you, I think." When she didn't answer right away, he continued, "I thought if I could just show you what it used to be like, what we were like, you'd change your mind about me… That if I could just make you laugh or smile or… look at me like you used to, you might…" His voice caught in his throat, straining it, and he blinked as his eyes burned. "I think I just wanted a sign. Some… small sign that… it wasn't over, but…"
He raised his eyes to meet hers and shook his head. "I need you to say it."
Her brow knit. "Say what?"
"Tell me it's over." He stared at her searchingly. "If I have no chance, if you're really done with me… Say the word. I'll respect it. I'll stop trying to fix it. Just tell me you're done… Because if you don't, I'm not going to give up on you." He took a step toward her and reached a hand out to take hers, squeezing it in his own. "I'll fight for you, I'll fight to be better, to be the person you loved once, and I won't stop. Not unless you tell me to. That's all you have to do. One word, Felicity, and… I'll let you go."
It physically pained him to say it. He could feel his heart clench up in his chest. But he couldn't force Felicity to do anything, and he wouldn't want to. He was happy with her, and he thought she'd been happy to. But if she couldn't feel that anymore, if she was always going to doubt them, then he didn't want her to live like that either. He didn't want them to be in a relationship where she didn't feel as loved as she deserved. If that wasn't with him, he would have to respect that. He wouldn't like it. How could he, really? But he respected her, and he loved her, enough to know that she had to make the best decision for herself, and he might not be it.
She stared at their hands a long moment, his thumb rubbing over the top of hers, stroking along the tendons like he used to when her hands hurt from typing all day. And then her eyes rose up to meet his, a lifetime passing in a moment, and finally she released his hand and turned around, climbing the stairs and unlocking her door before she walked inside.
And he stood there, watching her go, his heart filled with a hollow ache for just a moment. Until he realized…
He told her to say something, just one word, and he would stop trying.
She hadn't said anything at all. Not. One. Word.
He smiled then, hope blooming deep in chest.
It wasn't over.
Author's Note: So I was going to wait another day or two, but I got excited, lol.
I'm happy with how this ended. As I said before, it's not the end of the series, just the end of this particularly story. I still have at least two more stories within the series, one that's a multi-chapter like this one, so there's plenty to look forward to. But I just really love that after all this, we see Oliver making progress in his counseling sessions and here he is making an honest and direct effort to fix things with Felicity. She's not going to just forgive him. Remember that she has no idea that he's seeing a psychologist.
We see her feelings on how things have changed in the next part. It won't be a rewrite of this from her point of view, I don't really like to write those. It'll just touch on her feelings after his confessions and her decision not to say a word, letting him know that she wasn't willing to completely bury the relationship either. And that's huge for her, because she has been very adamant, with herself and Thea, that she and Oliver were over. So it goes to show that the things he's been saying and how they are together did in fact have an impact. Oliver didn't think he was making much of a dent in her resolve, but she was noticing, she was hearing him.
In any case, I hope you guys liked this!
To my lovely reader who will be going away to spend time with their family and will be wi-fi-less, I hope this gets to you in time so you have something to read pre-flight!
Thank you all for reading. Please do leave a review. I'd love to know what your favorite part was, how you feel about Felicity giving him the sign that she wasn't shutting him down completely, and if you're excited to read the next parts.
- Lee | Fina