Chapter 1

Felicity's head was reeling with the exchange she just had with Oliver.

Why her? I mean besides the obvious leggy model reason?

It just kind of happened. It didn't mean anything. Hey, because of the life that I lead I just think it's better to not be with someone that I could really care about.

Did he seriously think that it would make it all better by saying his little tryst with Isabel Rochev meant nothing? Even when she stated the obvious, that he deserved better than Isabel, she could see that look in his eyes. It was the look that said he didn't agree with her, no matter how much she believed it. And now, on top of the crushing pain in her chest, Felicity had to see the woman at the middle of their disagreement to deliver whatever document Oliver had asked her to drop off for Isabel.

As she entered Isabel's office suite she pulled up short, cursing that Isabel's administrative assistant was nowhere in sight to take the document. The light in Isabel's office was still on, though the door was partially closed. Felicity held her breath and gave a soft knock, hoping beyond all hope that Isabel was already gone for the evening so she could just drop the document on her desk.

"Come in," came the familiar female voice. The odds were just not in her favor tonight, Felicity thought to herself.

Entering the office, she put on her best fake smile possible. "Oli-I mean, Mr. Queen asked me to drop this off with you," she stated quickly, handing the document to Isabel and then turning to exit the office.

"Can I give you a piece of advice," Isabel said, causing Felicity to pull up short and turn back to the woman. Isabel, ensuring that she had the younger woman's full attention, stood up so they were both at eye level. "There may be some men in this world that would be willing to settle down with their secretary, Ms. Smoak, but I highly doubt Oliver Queen is one of them."

Felicity could feel her blood boiling, the uncontrollable blush creeping up her face and her eyes watering at the insinuation that Isabel was making about her and Oliver. Knowing that she could lose her job if she said what she was thinking, she kept her mouth shut, glaring at the other woman.

Isabel continued with her unsolicited advice. "I get the impression you are a smart girl, so I'm sure you see the logic in moving on with your infatuations to someone else, someone more your….caliber," she finished, giving Felicity a smug smile.

Felicity laughed out loud at that comment, because she knew if she didn't make some kind of sound, she was about to start sobbing in front of this vile, control-hungry she-devil. Screw her job. "At the risk of being insubordinate, Ms. Rochev, I'll tell you the same thing I told Mr. Queen in regards to whatever it is between the two of you. He deserves better." With that, Felicity spun around, retreating from the shocked glare on Isabel's face.

She should have felt some satisfaction in sharing her opinion with that witch, but sadly, the only emotion that Felicity felt at the moment was unbearable pain. She quickly slipped into the stairwell, knowing that if she saw Oliver right then she would lose it and the dam would break. Running down a few flights she ducked back into the offices, knowing she would probably only come across the janitorial staff at this time of the evening, then headed into the nearest dark conference room. She shut the door behind her, leaving the lights off, and then leaned against the wall, out of sight of anyone passing by. Slowly sliding down the wall into a sitting position she felt the tears start, covering her mouth with both hands to try and mute the audible sobs that wracked her petite frame.

An hour later...

Oliver was glancing up at Felicity's desk for what felt like the millionth time that evening, unable to focus on the latest financial statement numbers from the London division of Queen Consolidated. It had been over an hour since Isabel had stormed into his office demanding he fire Felicity, refusing to share with him why, but whatever Felicity had said or done had Isabel fuming. He had finally appeased her by agreeing that he would talk to Felicity to ensure whatever had happened would never be repeated again. He pushed back the initial anger her words had produced, thinking back to their exchange…

What does she have on you, Oliver? Does she have a recording of you two "meeting" in the conference room late one night that she's holding over your head? Because believe me, I can make something like that, and her, disappear in a matter of hours.

The words at the time had filled his vision with red, and it had taken all of his control not to physically throw the woman out of his office.

Isabel, I will say this only one more time; there is nothing going on between myself and Ms. Smoak. And if I ever hear you threaten so much as a hair on her head in the future, we'll see who has more power to make something, or someone, disappear quickly.

He massaged the back of his neck, still furious at the cheapness Isabel imparted on his relationship with Felicity. There wasn't a single person he trusted more than her, even questioning if he would go to Diggle or Felicity first if in a true crisis that only allowed him to go to one of them. Felicity had seen both the best and worst of him and was still at his side, literally night and day, doing whatever he asked, even when she didn't always agree with him.

Oliver still wondered what had been said between the two women, knowing that Felicity wasn't the type to just go off on someone without a good reason.

Noticing the movement out of the corner of his eye, he saw the petite blonde coming back to her desk without so much as a side glance toward him, quickly gathering her bag and coat, obviously trying to make a hurried getaway. He strode quickly to his doorway to cut her off before she left the outer office.

He noticed the red rims around her eyes, a clear indication that she had been crying. "Felicity…" he said softly, instinctively reaching toward her. She stepped back from his outreached hand, the gesture like a dagger in his gut.

"There's nothing more to say, Oliver. I'm going home now, unless there's something work related you need me to do," she finished, keeping her eyes cast down, clutching her computer bag as if it were a lifeline.

He let his hands fall stiffly to his sides, exhaling slowly and relaxing his hands as he realized he had them balled into fists, anger washing over him to think that Isabel had upset her enough to cause her to cry. The fact that he had a part in her hurt was something he tried to stamp down, not ready to deal with that guilt quite yet. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry about whatever happened between you and Isabel, and I won't ask you to deliver anything to her for me anymore. I'll deal directly with her or her administrative assistant in the future." At the mention of Isabel Felicity glanced up, the flash of anger and hurt in her eyes causing another slash to his stomach.

"I'm surprised she didn't demand I be fired," she stated crisply. Taking note of the look on Oliver's face, she knew that was exactly what Isabel had requested. She also knew that given the fact he was apologizing, her job was still intact.

At the anguish on his face she knew she wasn't making things easy on him, and she suddenly felt guilty for pushing him about the whole thing with Isabel, and bringing the woman's wrath on his head. She wasn't stupid to think he had been celibate since coming back from the island, and who was she to question him on who he was with? She made a quick decision, realizing that no matter what, she just wanted things to go back to normal between the two of them, regardless of her own feelings. He was going through enough with his mother's trial and having had to see someone from his time on the island while in Russia.

She was the one now to take a step toward Oliver, unable to stop herself from reaching out to him to provide comfort, and an olive branch. She noted the quizzical look he gave her as she gently squeezed his forearm. "I'm sorry for saying anything about what happened with you and Isabel in the first place. It's none of my business, and I should have stuck with my original comment that what happens in Russia stays in Russia. I don't want this to hurt the other work we're doing. So I promise I won't bring it up anymore, and we'll never have to talk about it again, agreed?"

The look of relief was apparent on Oliver's face. "Thank you," he said, genuinely feeling blessed for having such a forgiving friend in Felicity. He had been afraid that this was something that would continue to come between them, and the last thing he wanted was any distance between them. He still wasn't sure what had prompted him to want to sleep with Isabel, as the thought of it now was so unappealing. The alcohol and her story of hardship had probably brought out some pity in him, but he was surprised he had dropped his guard with her. He wondered if trying to prove to Isabel about how there was nothing going on between him and Felicity may have been part of it as well. However, Felicity didn't need to hear the rumors going around about the two of them. She had been through enough.

Felicity could practically hear the wheels turning in Oliver's head as she watched a myriad of expressions cross his face while he stood there, staring at her. After a moment, she finally took a step back, noticing that the movement brought Oliver out of his thoughts. He cleared his throat, and she could have sworn there was a slight blush in his cheeks as he stepped out of her path, signaling the end of their conversation.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Oliver," she said quietly, giving him her soft smile as she walked passed him.

"Goodnight, Felicity," he replied, giving her a final wave as she glanced once more at him, then returning to his own office. He let out a big sigh as he fell back into his seat, knowing he should be relieved that he wouldn't have to rehash the whole Isabel thing with Felicity anymore. However, something nagged at him about the fact that Felicity had put him at ease once again when he felt a strain between them.

The last part of his exchange with Isabel came back to him just then, and he knew now that what she said may be true, which did not sit well with him. In fact, the relief he had initially felt at Felicity's promise of sweeping yet another of his missteps under the rug was replaced with a sense of unease, especially given Isabel's prediction.

Fine, you can keep your tech girl for now, especially since I'm sure you'll sweet talk her into forgiving you for what she surely sees as a temporary lapse in judgment. But I'm just curious how long it is before she smartens up and sees how one-sided your relationship is, whether it's platonic or not. How much longer will she keep you on that pedestal before it erodes away; she stops looking at you like you're some Greek god, realizing you will never truly be able to undo whatever damage was done to you on that island? What will you do then, Oliver, when your personal cheerleader decides she's been used enough and SHE'S the one who deserves better?