All in a Day's Work
Synopsis: By 9:00 a.m., she had broken a heel, lost her cell phone, and been the victim of a coffee catastrophe. By 9:30 a.m. she had "borrowed" the NSA mainframe. By 10:00 a.m., she was engaged to Oliver Queen. Really, it was all in a day's work.
Rating: T, though later chapters may venture near/into M territory
Warnings: None yet.
Spoilers: Anything up through episode 2x6 "Keep Your Enemies Closer" is fair game.
Disclaimer: We know this one by heart, right? All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This is my first Arrow fic, but I'm not new to the fanfic rodeo. I love to write and have been doing so for many years. There's just something about Oliver and Felicity that absolutely grabs me. The chemistry, the potential—it's all off the charts.
I really enjoyed writing this, even if it's a bit of a trope. I hope I've been able to give it a fresh spin and that you will enjoy reading it. If you so choose to review, I'd be most appreciative. Reviews help me to know what works and what doesn't, which would be particularly helpful as I am somewhat new to this fandom.
Part One: "Must've Been the Sexy Shoes"
If Felicity Smoak had realized just what kind of Monday it was going to be, she might have called in sick. Her string of bad luck began with breaking the heel of her left shoe in the parking garage. The strappy shoe with the mile-high heel had been an impractical splurge. Retail therapy, her friend JoJo called it when she had visited Starling City over the weekend. Nothing says 'I'm going to walk right over you on my way to someone better' than sexy shoes, Smoaky.
If only all the world's woes could be cured with sexy shoes. It wasn't as easy as that. Never was. And there was the slight matter that wearing sexy shoes didn't make a girl sexy. Felicity had tried that argument with JoJo, but when they walked out of the store with the new purchase, Felicity knew she'd lost.
Despite her prodding, JoJo was just what the doctor ordered to get Felicity out of her self-imposed funk. For the last nine months, her whole life revolved around Oliver Queen. Embarrassingly so. From the moment he sweet-talked her into hacking a stolen computer—replete with bullet holes—with nothing but a lame cover up story and a wink, Felicity had found herself drawn to him. It didn't hurt that he was built like a Greek god and oozed charm. At that first meeting, her mouth had gone dry as she stammered and babbled; later, she would wish she could kick her own ass for acting like such a fool. But then she found herself wondering about him. What was a back-from-the-dead billionaire playboy doing with a bullet-riddled laptop? There was more to Oliver Queen than charisma, perfect teeth, and money.
And Felicity Smoak had always liked a mystery.
When she had described Oliver to JoJo, Felicity left out any mention of bullets—both the ones in the laptop and the one inflicted on him by his own mother. It had been interesting to find The Hood bleeding in the backseat of her car. She could've done without the bloodstains, but finally the contradiction known as Oliver Queen started to make sense to her.
Until he didn't.
Though she didn't always agree with Oliver's choices, she could usually understand where he was coming from—at least until the Isabel Rochev fling. Yes, Isabel was attractive in that slinky as a cat way, but she was just…hateful, untrustworthy, and on The List. It really made no sense. How did that conversation go, anyway? "Hi, you're a horrible person but hot in a black widow kind of way. I know you're on my dead father's list of evil doers, so let's have sex." Come on.
"Men don't think with their brains, Smoaky," JoJo had told her over a pint of rocky road and a bag of Doritos. "That's why God invented sexy shoes."
Isabel Rochev must have a closetful. But as far as Felicity could tell, whatever happened in Moscow stayed in Moscow.
Not that it affected her one way or the other. She was done. Or at least, that was her mantra. Every time Oliver passed by her desk, his eyes lingering on her. I'm done. I'm done. Every time he stood behind her in the lair, hand on her chair. I'm done. I'm done. If she said it enough, maybe she'd eventually believe it herself.
In the two weeks since their return from Russia as backup for Digg, Felicity and Oliver had been cordial with one another, but that was the extent of their interaction. No more rides home, lunches at Big Belly Burger, or teasing. They had spoken little outside the confines of their jobs—coordinating his business schedule and his patrolling.
Truth was, he had thoroughly friend-zoned her. Not that there was anything wrong with friendship. Friendship, she liked. She could deal with that, but this felt exasperating and agonizing and just dishonest. She believed in Oliver, believed in his cause, believed he was a better man than he gave himself credit. What she couldn't believe was he left her with nothing but trite platitudes. "Because of the life that I lead, I just think that it's better to not be with someone that I could really care about."
At first, it struck her as romantic, knowing she hadn't imagined the connection between them. Then she had time to reflect—and time to get angry. He didn't want to risk a romantic relationship with her? Fine. But she was living that same life with him, a double life, a life of danger. She put herself at risk—albeit in a different way from Oliver and Digg—but risk, nonetheless. How many times had she pushed herself through something she never thought she'd have the moxie to do? Walking into an illegal casino and counting cards with the intent of getting caught so she could plant a bug? Check. Setting herself up as bait for a deranged serial killer? Check. Jumping out of an airplane, risking life, limb, dignity, and her lunch? Check. Chancing a life of imprisonment through her continual hacking, when she was absolutely certain that orange was not the new black? Check. Check. And check.
And so she was done. So done with hoping.
She almost had herself believing it.
The sexy shoes were supposed to be a symbol of her liberation. JoJo, who taught literature at CSU-Sacramento, was big on imagery. Felicity wondered what JoJo would have said if her friend had seen the heel break as soon as she stepped out of her Toyota sedan and into the Queen Consolidated parking garage. Probably something along the lines of, You're screwed, Smoaky.
There wasn't enough time to go home for a different pair of sensible shoes, but fortunately, she kept a pair of sneakers in her office. It wouldn't look professional, but what was one more question to add to all those already being bandied about her qualifications for being Oliver's personal assistant?
With newfound determination that she would conquer the world—or at least conquer Monday morning, Felicity stepped off the elevator at the top floor of the Queen Consolidated building, promptly lost her footing, and ran headlong into Isabel Rochev's personal assistant, Casper van Pels, who paled when the coffee he was carrying spilled onto the white button-up blouse Felicity wore.
Once Felicity got over the sudden dousing of the hot liquid and pulled the material of the shirt away from her skin, it hurt far less. Her pride, however, had not remained intact.
"This is terrible," the man muttered, his pallid face looking pained. For a brief instant, Felicity thought he was going to cry.
Not terribly comfortable with emotional breakdowns, she tried to reassure him. "I'm fine."
"I'm not. Ms. Rochev is going to kill me, bring me back to life, and then kill me all over again."
Felicity sighed as she rubbed a wet hand against her navy pencil skirt.
At least she was having a good hair day.
When Felicity finally rounded the corner toward her office, she could see Oliver closing one of the drawers and then…was he pacing? That was unusual.
"You've not been picking up your phone. What happened to you?" His voice was low, urgent.
"My heel broke in the parking garage and then there was the lava disguised as latte that spilled on me. Best. Morning. Ever."
Her ironic tone made him quirk his lips into the slightest hint of a smile. He'd missed this, and she did it—made him smile—without even trying.
And then Oliver found himself studying her as her story sank in. Wow. Sexy shoes. They made her legs look like they went on forever—or made her right leg look that way. The other shoe was decidedly broken, as she'd indicated. His eyes continued their journey upward and lingered a moment too long on her wet blouse, the coffee spill having afforded him a generous glimpse of her lacy bra underneath the likely-to-be-ruined silk. He forced his gaze upward. "So that has you ignoring phone calls?"
"I'm fine, by the way, though my pride's a little bruised," she said sliding into her chair and booting up her computer. "Thanks for asking. Besides, my phone didn't ring." She looked into the small clutch she carried. "Crap. Where is it?"
He pressed a folder into her hands, his fingers brushing against her wrist ever-so-lightly as he leaned down and spoke in a hushed tone. "I need everything you can get on this guy, whatever channels it takes, and you need to be ready."
"For?" she squeaked out.
But Oliver didn't answer her; instead, she watched as he slipped on the mask he affected for outsiders. Felicity immediately saw the reason for the change: Isabel Rochev.
I'm done. I'm done.
But she could still feel the warmth of his breath against her ear, the caress of his hands.
She was so not done, but she needed to be.
She slipped off her sexy shoes and replaced them with her brightly colored Adidas sneakers. Her blouse, on the other hand, was likely a lost cause. She looked down and grimaced. She may as well have been in a wet t-shirt contest for as much coverage as the blouse offered.
But she didn't have time to worry about that. Whatever was in the folder sounded urgent.
She opened it and found…not much. It was a small, glossy dossier obviously released by someone else's PR department. A prominent photo of a middle aged man with brown hair, except for the graying of the temples, and unusually large, straight teeth, caught her attention. Underneath the photo, a caption: Frederick McMartin, President and CEO, the McMartin Group.
Corporate intrigue, here we come.
The more she researched, the more she found nothing. Oh, there were the press releases from the McMartin Group, but intrigue? What intrigue? The man came across as a saint with the charitable youth foundations he'd established. He'd made numerous trips overseas, even, in support of foreign orphanages. He and his wife had seven children, five of whom were adopted. The family looked like an advertisement for the United Colors of Benetton. All the while, his business acumen was nearly legendary—if you asked the McMartin Group's public relations gurus, that is.
No one was that perfect. Oliver wanted her to turn over rocks? That, she could do. Cracking her knuckles, she took a deep breath before she began the process of breaking through a slew of firewalls and "borrowing" a secured government database or two.
"Something feminine but modest. Preferably silk. Size 4. And a brassiere, 34B." Oliver hung up his phone. "My apologies. That was unavoidable."
"You're wasting my time, Oliver." Isabel Rochev sat rigidly in the chair he had offered, while he leaned against his desk.
Oliver was halfway surprised she took the seat. He assumed that she had an unspoken rule about appearing submissive and would equate the difference in height as such. Then again, Isabel had managed to surprise him in a way that few people had, but he had no illusions about her. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer, as the old adage went.
"Did you read through the information I sent to you Friday afternoon?"
"Of course. That's obviously why I'm here."
And so he made his pitch. "A new technology that uses the body to self-regulate its temperature, all through a bracelet. It's innovative. The financial rewards could be exponential, not to mention the environmental benefits. Imagine no need for air conditioning."
Isabel considered her words carefully. "It's a fascinating concept, but there's no proven viability. May I be frank with you?"
"I count on it," he replied, his eyes focused on hers.
"Investors want a sure thing, not some incompetent trust fund baby who majored in skirt chasing at no fewer than four universities." Oliver's brows furrowed, and she raised her hand to still his protests. "And while you and I both know you aren't incompetent, the investors don't. You have to prove it to them."
"Then I meet with them."
"They've already met you…in the tabloids. I go by facts, figures, research. First step, know your investor. Even if this technology does show promise, how are you going to sell it to, say, Frederick McMartin of all people?"
"The idea will sell itself on its own merits."
"You really have no idea how business works. It's about building relationships. McMartin, he's a family man."
"I am aware."
"With no interest in dealing with people he finds less than wholesome."
"Then why does he deal with you?" Oliver asked, his left eyebrow shooting up.
The dour look on Isabel's face transformed into a smile. "Because I am very persuasive."
"I'm sure you are." The words were innocuous enough, but the tone left little doubt of his meaning.
She looked at him the way one might try to pacify a child. "Don't tell me you're upset that we didn't talk about it."
"Not at all. It was enjoyable, but I don't need to be cuddled either. We've both moved forward." Oliver looked past Isabel's shoulder toward Felicity. The sleek, glass design of the executive offices left little room for visual privacy, unless the electronic privacy glass feature was activated, which neither of them ever did. So while he couldn't see what, precisely, Felicity was studying so intently on her computer thanks to a special screen accessory on her computer—a security measure they'd both agreed upon considering the nature of the other work she did for him—he could see the look of intense concentration as she worried her bottom lip with her teeth.
Isabel followed his line of sight: Oliver's blond IT girl turned personal assistant who accessorized a deer-in-the-headlights-look with nearly every outfit. "She wasn't happy with you."
"No," Oliver admitted. "She wasn't."
"I thought I had avoided getting into anything messy," she mildly chastised him. "Though it looks as though your assistant can't say the same." The state of Ms. Smoak's blouse was proof of that.
"She's more to me than an assistant."
Oliver watched as a deliveryman approached Felicity's office. A few strokes on her keyboard—he guessed she was surreptitiously closing out of whatever she was doing—and she gave her full attention to the man. He could see the tilt of her head. Confusion over the delivery, no doubt. Nevertheless, she signed for the box. She tried to tip him, but he refused. Once he was gone, Felicity lifted the lid of the box, pushed aside some tissue, and pulled out a brassiere, which she promptly returned to the container. Her fingers seemed to trace the contents before she pulled out a pale blue blouse. She rose from her chair and looked toward Oliver before vacating her office—and taking the box with her.
Isabel shook her head slightly. "So the rumors are true."
"That depends on the rumor."
"You're sleeping with your assistant after all. It reeks of irresponsibility. You do realize that, don't you? Promoting someone who is heinously under qualified because of sexual favors? It's this type of behavior that alienates investors like McMartin and gets QC slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit."
"Felicity is not a fling," Oliver replied crisply.
"As much as you and I would like to believe QC has the same brand power it once enjoyed, we both know that isn't true. And as much as I would like to believe I have the influence you do, my last name isn't Queen. You're the face of this company now, and what you do—who you do—affects the bottom line."
"You want the bottom line?" Oliver noticed that Felicity had returned to her office, now wearing the silk blouse and, he assumed, the dry lingerie. Her colorful sneakers were amiss in her otherwise tasteful ensemble, but at least she was dry now and hopefully comfortable.
Of course, he was about to blow her comfort to hell.
He pressed a button on his phone, connecting their intercom system. "Felicity, would you join us?"
"Yes, Mr. Queen."
She approached his door with wariness, he thought he detected. The presence of Isabel had her on edge. At least, that's what Oliver assumed, though with the distance between them the last two weeks, for all he knew, he was the source of her discomfort. "Is there something you need Mr. Queen? Ms. Rochev?" She reminded Oliver of a woman doing an impersonation of a flight attendant: sunny but rehearsed.
Oliver closed the distance between them, his arm sliding around her waist. She felt tiny, tinier even than he remembered. "Felicity, it's time for us to come clean with Isabel."
Be ready, he'd told her.
Improvising was so not her strong suit, she practically huffed to herself. She liked being prepared, having everything planned out. She had always been that way from the time she was a small child, carefully choosing her outfits for the entire school week, to setting aside pre-determined study sessions. Even socializing had its allotted time slot.
But how was she supposed to think on her feet with his hand on her waist? It was warm, large, and strong. And being close to him—he smelled incredible.
What were they talking about again?
Her teeth grazed her bottom lip nervously and she nodded slightly, "I agree. It's time."
About what, exactly, had she agreed? She'd let Oliver handle the details and hope she didn't stumble over whatever he expected.
"Isabel, Felicity has done me the honor of agreeing to be my wife."
And she wasn't even wearing sexy shoes.
To be continued...