He exits the elevator, walks to his office with his head down and takes a quick glance. She is not at her desk, which is a worrisome sight for him because she hasn't had a late morning in the last two years she worked as his assistant and is always present when he arrives, no matter how much she hates it. He settles at his desk and has a brief chat with Digg on the phone, who doesn't happen to know where she is, and tries his best to stop himself from looking at her desk every other minute.
He sees her come in an hour later, just sit down at her desk and focus on the screens. A meeting of his is about to start and she doesn't even come in to inform him about the participants unlike how she always does. He takes his notepad and pen because he is still old-fashioned when it comes to technology and enters the meeting room, glancing at her direction as he passes by from the corner of his eye, but she does not look away from the computer screen, her face is the definition of concentration.
He can hardly understand a word during the meeting as his mind is elsewhere. He hopes that the fact that his mind is preoccupied by something else, by a certain someone, goes unnoticed. He looks around the meeting room and is glad to see that everyone is focused on the flip-charts. He pretends to take notes and nods from time to time to what is being discussed out of formality. He is out of the door the second he hears people thanking for participating in the meeting.
In seconds, he is at her desk, standing still, looking down at her. He has to clear his throat twice before she notices him and looks up.
"I'm sorry, I didn't see you." She quickly apologizes. The sight before him hurts like the time he stabbed himself by his own arrow to stop Malcolm Merlyn. Behind her glasses, he sees her eyes rimmed with red. "How was the meeting?"
"It was fine." he replies dryly, knowing that he couldn't give an honest answer no matter how hard he can try. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." she slurs over, moving her eyes away from him again. "You have another meeting in ten minutes." she says as she hands him a printed copy of his schedule for the day, like she always does. He barely registers what his day entails. He is worried about her and wants to do something but before he can act on it, his meeting partner comes in and she goes in business mode and walks up to show the way to the meeting room.
The following meetings go by in a similar fashion with him barely listening and being preoccupied with the fact that Felicity came in late and apparently cried sometime between the time he proclaimed his love and she showed up at work. He continues pretending to take notes and nods and fails to say a thing when his response is expected. He gets only two chances in between meetings to rush to her desk. The first time, she already left for lunch and doesn't come back until he goes for his first meeting in the afternoon and the second time, she has already left for her apartment.
He makes it in record time to the foundry in hopes that she would be there, or at least Digg would be so that he could let some things out of his chest, but he finds it empty. He lies down on the training mat and closes his eyes and stays in the same position, wishing his mind to be empty, his heart to be emotionless, his scars to fade away. Nothing happens and he just ends up spending two hours in the foundry in silence. Knowing that there is no Arrow business to take care of and that his partners will not be showing up, he heads home and goes to bed at a reasonable hour but cannot sleep.
The following day is a repetition of the one before. He comes into a Felicity-less office, she arrives late, avoids him, disappears between his meetings, does not talk to him during the brief time he gets to see her and leaves when it is time. He seeks out Digg to talk to him but there are interruptions and when there are none, he doesn't know where to start so he doesn't speak. Instead he suggests that they leave and go home and Digg offers a ride, but he prefers to ride his motorcycle to be alone with his thoughts.
He rides through the streets of the city he knows so well, passing by lights and people. The helmet allows him to blend in and just watch people without them acknowledging who he is. He likes the feeling of being anonymous. He feels like he can be anyone and hurt nobody. He imagines the lives of other people might be living. He looks at the middle-aged guy who is in the car next to him when they are waiting for the red-light to change, he imagines the life he has. He thinks he is probably working as a department head of a department in some company, with a wife and two daughters in college, paying mortgage and hearing about the Arrow on the local news from time to time but never really caring about it much. He wonders whether he knows he is in a car next the Arrow himself.
At the next lights, he stops near a woman around his age with a toddler in the safety-seat at the back who looks back at him. He imagines up a future for the little girl, thinking how she would become a tomboy and would actually dress up as him for one Halloween while the neighborhood kids make fun of her because the Arrow is a guy and she is a girl. He then fast-forwards some ten years into the future where the girl grows up to be a beautiful teenage girl and the head of the neighborhood gang who made fun of her years ago is secretly in love with her, but hides his feelings thinking she is out of his league. He thinks about the little girl and the hypothetical boy meeting years later in graduate school and falling in love, with her constantly teasing about how he made fun of her when they were little because secretly he had wanted to dress up as the Arrow himself.
The tall buildings of the city fade away as he gets farther away and gets closer to the mansion. As if on cue, the second he parks the motorcycle, he receives a text. "I am at the balcony." He is confused given the sender hasn't spoken to him in two days and more importantly, he is not sure which balcony she refers to. So he grabs his helmet and rushes to the balcony adjacent to his room and as expected, she is not there.
He rides the same way in the opposite direction for twenty minutes, this time not stopping to think at red lights, and arrives before her building. He makes his way up the same he did two nights ago, climbing the stairs and then making it to the roof, and jumping down to her balcony. She is standing in the corner, unaffected by the fact that he just jumped to her balcony.
"Hey." she says, looking up at him. She is still dressed in her work outfit, but her hair is loose, her feet are bare. He notices that she still has the green nail polish.
"Hi." he responds, hesitant to walk up to her. "Sorry I am late, I wasn't sure which balcony you were at." He catches a light smile on her lips and it gives him hope. "Want to talk?"
"Not really." She replies as she walks up to stand next to him. "Beautiful night."
He is just joyous that they are actually speaking to one another and that their initial conversation is simply mirroring that night. However, things are completely different. She is by now probably Paul's fiancée and he is just a guy who happens to help save the city in green leather, in love with her. The possibility kills the momentary joy he feels. Instead he opts to stand next to her and look over the city, thinking this might be the last night they could actually spend alone. The crescent moon is above them, the streets are busy, filled with noise. He feels like the only two sounds he hears are her breathing and his heart beating.
"I'm sorry I was terrible at being your assistant more than usual at work." she tells him after a few minutes of silence.
He smiles. "You have nothing to apologize for."
She turns around and rests her back on the railing. "I have this policy. I can only handle one bombshell per day."
He is confused. He expects her to be angry at him, or sad, or really happy given now that she is engaged to be married. He expects her to give him a silent treatment or just give him a run for his money by shouting at him and showing him that he is wrong, that she does not care about what he thinks, that she is going to elope with Paul and move with him to the mountains and spend the rest of her days away from technology and be happy and be loved. That she was mistaken and that she already loves him so deeply. That she is already pregnant with his triplets and that they are planning a winter wedding. That Paul makes her feel things she never thought were possible.
Instead she looks at him with her head turned slightly towards him. "A girl can only take so much. I cannot have your ex-girlfriend attacked in front of my own eyes only to be saved by her own sister who has been gone for a year, then have the guy I am dating propose to me, then…" she pauses. "Then have you tell me you love me."
The softness of her voice thrills him but he doesn't do or say anything. He just listens; and now that she has stopped speaking, he listens to her breathing. He wants to ask her why she is still dressed in her work clothes, why she asked him to meet here, why she isn't angry. He wants to ask when the wedding is and whether it would be awkward for her to work with him in either capacity, as Oliver Queen's assistant or the Arrow's right-hand, once she is married. "Felicity." he whispers her name like a sentence and it hangs in the air like a question he wants her to answer.
"Oliver, I…" she starts, then takes a breath and stops. "I tried really hard. I tried to get a hold of things. You just bombarded into my life and I never regretted it, not a single minute of it. I never questioned it. I never regretted that stupid laptop with the bullet holes or your terrible lies. Even though I paid a lot of money to get rid of the bloodstains, I never regretted that you showed up in my car shot, pleading me to take you to the foundry."
"And you regret it now?"
"No." Her answer is simple. She pauses for a second, looks above at the sky, and then closes her eyes. "After Russia, you told me you couldn't be with someone you could care for because of the Arrow business. After you killed the Count for me, you said there was no choice to make, I got confused but I stopped making sense of it. So I started trying. I moved on. I found someone I could care about. It took a lot of effort and convincing."
He knows that now is the time for him to leave and let go off Felicity Smoak and let her live the life she deserves and he wants her to have. He doesn't want another day in her life where she goes on lying to the people she cares about, to the people she loves. He wants her to be happy with Paul who she could love. He wants to see her wedding registry and buy the most expensive item because he can and money is of no issue and maybe he can even pitch in for the wedding expenses. He wants to see her in a wedding gown and put a peck on her cheek at the reception and tell her she looks beautiful because she does, and ask her for a dance and leave before they get to dance, walk away and never come back. He wants get out of her life forever despite desperately wanting to be the person she gives her vows to and leaves the reception with to start off the rest of their lives.
He decides that if he can run and lift himself up to the edge of the roof, which shouldn't be a problem, then he can run across and jump to the next roof and be away from her before he changes his mind or she comes after him. He can go home, pack a bag, call Thea and tell her that he is sorry and then disappear to Lian Yu and stay there until someone convinces him otherwise. He is pretty sure that he would not come back again. He would make people around him stop suffering because of his existence, and he would have a simple existence in that island he knows so well. He would forget about Felicity Smoak and give her a chance to forget him. She would go back to the IT department she loved so much, or find another job, or move to Europe with Paul and learn another language, travel and eat something other than Chinese take-out, and be happy and forget that she spent two years of her life in a dark lair, in front of computers, giving him directions. She would be happy and that would make him happy for life.
He hesitantly moves to bring his plan into action but her voice stops him. "You are right." He moves his body swiftly yet unsurely so that they are now standing face to face. "Usually it is John who is right about stuff, but this time it is you."
"Right about what?" He feels like despite how hard he is trying to keep his calm demeanor intact, it is failing and she can read him like a book, like she usually does.
She sighs, avoids his eyes. "I cannot marry Paul." He doesn't know how to process the information. He is unsure whether he should just take her in his arms and do a twirl in excitement or do his own victory dance. He feels like popping champagne and throwing confetti and laughing like kids. Instead he stays still, looking at her face, searching for an explanation, a reason. "I am going to ramble, but I don't want to, so I think it is your turn to say something now."
The ball is in his court. Moments ago, he was imagining her future tied to someone else. Now, she is in agreement with him and not someone else's future bride. Or at least he thinks so, given she just said she couldn't marry Paul. He wonders if the joy he is feeling deep inside is reflected in his body language. "So you said no?" he asks just to have everything confirmed. She nods as a response. "Is that why you cried yesterday?" She nods again. "Did you cry because you two broke up?" She nods for the last time. He wishes she would use her words, but realizes that she is doing it on purpose so he would use his instead. "I think I should be sorry, but to be honest, I really am not."
"You are not sorry I cried?" She sounds offended.
"I am not sorry you two broke up." he responds. "I know what I said last year after Russia. I was an idiot. I told you I couldn't be with someone I could really care about, but I didn't realize that I was…" he stops. He starts laughing at himself, as the truth clear as day hits him in the face. "I think I loved you when I said thanks after you saved my life that first time, when I showed up in your car, and we shook hands and you just shied away. I am sorry I didn't act on it and pushed you away instead."
He feels like the smile creeping on his face is the biggest, the most genuine one he has ever had, probably larger than those he has faked for years. It is real, he feels it at the very core of his being, and it is mirrored by the one on her face. They stand still, grinning at one another. He does not remember another time he has been happier. "I think your policy does not apply to me?" he asks, the smile still present. She looks at him questioningly. "Your bombshell rule? You just dropped two of them on me."
"No, that's just for me. Remember it for future references." She grins again. She holds out and places her small hand in his and he links their fingers immediately, then takes a look at the image of their hands together, burning it into memory. He hopes she doesn't mind the sweat in his palms as she runs her fingertips against his knuckles. "It's cold." she states. "Let's go inside and you can show me how much you love me." She stops and clears her throat. "That doesn't mean that I am going to sleep with you right now because you haven't even taken me out for a date. I have a three-date rule before sleeping with someone. I might have broken it once before, it might happen again, but there are no guarantees. And no, you are not my rebound. I think I made Paul your rebound. Not that you and I were together back then." she pauses and takes a deep breath. "I need some wine. And it really is cold outside."
He follows her as she leads them inside. "I really missed your rambling." It is a simple truth. She looks at him and he leans down to finally capture her lips with his.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! Comments much appreciated!