Title: It was a damn close call tonight (we nearly lost our heart in a cold gun fight)
Category: Arrow
Genre: Drama/Romance/Friendship
Ship: Felicity/Oliver, Diggle POV
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 2,276
Summary: When Felicity is shot during a mission, John witnesses a tender moment between the other two-thirds of the team.

It was a damn close call tonight (we nearly lost our heart in a cold gun fight)
-1/1-

John stripped the bloody gloves from his hands, mildly surprised to find them shaking. Letting out a heavy breath, he squeezed his eyes shut and struggled to find his calm. By far, this wasn't the first time he'd had to patch up a bullet wound. It wasn't even the worse he'd ever seen. It was, however, the first time he was patching one up on Felicity, and that made it significantly different.

Five years.

Five years they'd been partners on a team specializing in vigilante justice.

Five years he'd heard her inappropriate babbling, adding a very real and personal touch to a team of two very jaded, scarred soldiers.

Felicity was the good one of them. She was the least touched by the horrors of the world, and he'd wanted her to stay that way. But there was no keeping her from just how wrong it could be. How dark people could get and the lengths they would go to. She'd seen firsthand how powerful people do terrible things for selfish reasons. She'd also seen how good could triumph over evil, or at least keep it from rising completely. And she was a main player in keeping the balance, guiding their hands and hearts as they moved through a world that was never black and white, but shades of grey, sprinkled with bright red blood spatter.

Tossing the gloves away, he gripped the edges of the sink. There was blood on his wrist, on his shirt, and he needed to get rid of it. He needed to scrub it away and never see it again.

She was okay. He had to remind himself of that. The panic of having her on that table, tears slipping down her cheeks, offering a reassuring smile when she saw the worry on his face; it was still vibrating through every muscle of his body, settling in his bones and burning him at his core. What would they have done? What could they do if she'd died…?

What would Oliver do?

It was that thought that pushed John to leave the sink and make his way back to their med bay.

Oliver was still dressed in his leathers, dried blood caked over his chest that was all Felicity's. He'd carried her out of the building, gripping her close, desperately demanding she stay with him.

"You can't leave, do you hear me? Felicity? Open your eyes. Look at me. You're going to be fine, okay? Stay with me. Please!"

The tremor in his voice was enough to make John's heart clench. They'd returned to the foundry and quickly got to work patching her up, but the sight of her there on the steel table, pale and shaking… He wasn't sure that memory would ever fade from his mind. It made his stomach drop out even now, knowing she was okay, she was going to be fine.

When he found them, he stayed quiet, watching from afar. Oliver's head was in her lap, his arms looped around her waist, hands buried beneath the loose fabric of her shirt, fingers spread over her bare skin. His cheek rested on her thigh, the top of his head nestled against her stomach. She was running her fingers through his hair soothingly, dragging them down his neck. They didn't say anything. There was no declarations of love or fear or demands that the other always be okay. That time had passed. The time for desperation wasn't on them any longer.

It was clear that Oliver was still tense, still terrified of what could have happened, but he was slowly coming down from it. He nuzzled his cheek against her leg and moved a little closer to her. She let out a small, soft laugh, before she rubbed the back of her hand down his cheek and traced the shell of his ear with her fingers. It was intimate, the way they melded into each other, seeking quiet comfort.

She was alive.

She was going to be okay.

John wasn't sure he believed it until he saw her smiling down at Oliver. That sweet, genuine, loving smile of hers. A bullet had torn through her side, spilling her blood and making her seriously question whether she'd make it out alive, but she wasn't letting it hold her back. That was Felicity Smoak. She was a fighter. She refused to let anything tear her down, even if it literally knocked her off her feet and threatened to end her life.

She was still pale, tired, and her hair hung in sweat-dampened clumps around her shoulders. But she was alive, she was smiling, and she was going to be okay.

John let out a thankful sigh, relief flooding through him.

Her head raised then and her smile widened at the sight of him. It wasn't the same adoration she had for Oliver; instead it was like a little sister seeing her favorite big brother. It hit him in the heart in the best way. She nodded her head for him to join them, but he shook his own. He didn't need to be next to her, to hold her hand and prove to himself that she was okay, not like Oliver did. He'd already come to his own conclusion that she would survive this with the same hopeful spirit she always had. But Oliver needed this moment, he needed to keep her close, to bury himself in her and hold her until he had no choice but to let go and return to life. For now, for tonight, John would let him have her all to himself.

Her smile softened into understanding and her gaze dropped down to Oliver once more. His eyes were closed and one of his hands had come around, sliding up and down her side, gently probing around the white bandage that covered her wound. When his brow began to furrow with the heavy, self-recrimination he carried all too well, Felicity quickly countered it. She traced the indents over his forehead, dragging her thumb down the slope of his nose, and then, moving to the top of his cheek, she followed the sharp angle downward until she reached his mouth and swiped her thumb over his lips. Pressing a kiss to her thumb, he opened his eyes, and turned them up to see her.

"No guilt," she ordered him.

His jaw ticked and his eyes turned away.

"I'm serious, Oliver. This wasn't you fault."

When he opened his mouth to protest, she covered it, pressing her fingers down to keep him from speaking.

"I'm tired, and sore, and I want to go home… I want you to take me home and I want you to cuddle with me until I fall asleep. And then, tomorrow, you can make me smiley-face pancakes, just the way I like them—"

"Filled with chocolate chips."

"Exactly." She grinned. "And I will let you rant and rave about all the reasons I should never go in the field again, I promise… I won't agree with you, but I'll let you complain all you want."

He let out a snort, but eventually nodded. He didn't stand right away though, lingering there with his head cradled in her lap, one of her hands still playing with his hair. And then, when John had just turned on his heel to make his way to the bathroom and clean up, he heard Oliver's quiet admission.

"I thought I was going to lose you… I thought… I can't. I can't lose you, Felicity."

"I know."

"No, you don't. I…" He let out a shaking breath. "Ever since I came back from the island, nothing's really made sense. My entire life, my family, who I was and who I am… none of it makes logical sense. But you… you're my constant. You make sense. You make everything worth it. And I… I don't know who or what I'd be without you, but I know it wouldn't be good."

She was quiet a long moment before she said, "I can't promise I'll never get hurt, or I won't die, because I will, eventually. I don't know if it'll be because of something I do here or a freak accident or fifty-plus years from now, warm in my bed. But I do know that I'll always fight. I know it probably doesn't look like it right now, or twenty minutes ago when I think I said something about wanting my mom, but you know I don't like needles… Anyway, the point is, I'm strong, Oliver, and I will always fight."

There was a long, heavy pause, but finally he replied in a thick voice, "Okay."

"Okay?"

"I'm personally voting on fifty years from now, when we're both very much retired from the vigilante world, but on the much more likely chance that it happens before that… I know you can't promise me you'll always be okay. I know I'll do everything to keep you safe, but I can't account for every variable. But you're right, you're strong, and if you say you'll fight… I trust you."

"So no more guilt?"

"I don't know about that. You could get a paper-cut and I'd probably find a way to blame myself for it."

"Seeing as I'm your executive assistant and the only papers I handle are for your business, that does make some sense…"

He chuckled faintly. "Thank you, I'll remember that on Monday."

"Oliver, it's Thursday. We have work tomorrow."

He hummed disagreeably. "I have a reliable source that says Oliver Queen took a sick day, and demanded his executive assistant do the same."

"Oh really? Why do I get the feeling they're spending that day together?"

"I'm sure they are… Chocolate chip pancakes have been prescribed and I think you deserve a long weekend to heal from your bullet wound before you tackle any inevitable paper-cuts."

"Doctor's orders?"

"Something like that."

"Well, who am I to argue?"

"Exactly."

There was some shuffling then, followed by a laughing shriek, and, seconds later, John watched as Oliver carried Felicity across the foundry floor bridal-style. One of her arms was looped around his neck, the other tucked tight to her stomach to keep from straining her injured side. She grinned up at him while he smirked down at her proudly.

"How necessary was that?"

With an arched brow, he answered, "Vital."

Shaking her head, she bit her lip and relaxed into his grip. "Shouldn't you change out of your suit?"

"I'll risk it."

"Mm-hmm." Reaching up she pulled his hood over his head. "All right… Let's go home."

As they started walking away, pausing near her computers to shut them down, Oliver wondered, "Do we have pancake mix at home?"

"I don't know… but I'm not sure having Arrow stop by the local grocery store is in our plan for tonight."

"It's late enough there wouldn't be any lines…"

"Why don't we make them from scratch?"

He huffed. "Because the last time we did that, you said they were too flour-y."

"So we'll add less flour."

"Do we even have flour?"

"I don't know. I'm pretty sure it was your turn to do the grocery shopping…"

"I was a little busy saving the city."

She snorted. "You can't use that excuse every time you don't want to stand in line, Oliver. Seriously, you are the least patient man I've ever met."

"I have plenty of patience," he argued.

"Really? Name one time!"

"I waited five years to date you."

"Hah! That's not patience. That's five years of confused denial."

"Four," he corrected. "When I finally figured out what I wanted, you were dating someone."

"Yeah, and it took you all of five minutes to ask me if it was serious with Jared, who you repeatedly called Jake, just to annoy me."

"He looked like a Jake."

"Oliver!"

"Fine, I'm not patient. But we still need to pick up pancake mix… or flour."

"We'll figure it out in the morning," she decided.

"Just remember that when you wake up before me and you're hungry."

"Trust me, there is no way I'm waking up before you tomorrow. I'm going to sleep until Sunday. You have two days to get pancake mix, all right?"

He laughed quietly.

They continued talking as they left, and John stood shaking his head, half-smiling to himself. For a night that had nearly ended in tragedy, it turned out a lot better than he ever expected. One of his best friends survived a bullet wound, and his other best friend still had the love of his life to go home with. Despite the blood still coloring his shirt and wrist, he had to chalk it up in the win column.

Whistling under his breath, he made his way back to the bathroom to clean up, hoping he never had to relive that terrifying moment again. In the end, even if Felicity and Oliver were a little closer to each other, they made up three parts of a team, and he just didn't think they'd work unless all of them were there to complete it. He hoped he never had to test that theory.

For now, at least, they were whole. And he hoped, for all their sakes, they stayed that way. Because Oliver was right, without Felicity there, John wasn't sure what Oliver would become, but it wouldn't be anything good. So he sent a little prayer up that she made it those fifty-plus years, and she and her archer could die peacefully in their bed, a long legacy of fighting the good fight behind them.

Thankfully, despite a number of attempts on their lives, his prayer was answered.

[End.]


Author's Note: So, all I really knew I wanted was an outside point of view watching a tender moment between these two, and then I had the visual of Oliver's head in her lap, and this is what happened. I hope you guys liked it! And for those of you wondering about the next chapter of 'Every whisper, every sigh,' it'll be out this weekend, so keep your eyes peeled.

Thank you so much for reading, please leave a review!

- Lee | Fina