Okay, here's the next chapter. It's taken a bit as I'm trying to work it into show canon as it stands after "Heir to the Demon" (which yes, means slight spoilers are in here). I'm not gonna deny a few feels of my own are being worked out here. But, hopefully, you'll enjoy!
She swallows hard, looks at herself in the mirror, and wonders if she really knows who is staring back.
She's wearing a floor length, fitted, deep blue strapless dress that brings out the golden highlights in her hair and the blue of her eyes. Her makeup is darker than she normally wears, eyes outlined in kohl with a blue shimmery shadow that, in her opinion, gives her a more mysterious air. She's forgone the glasses tonight, figuring they don't really add to the confident, composed, yet sexy look she is going for. She looks good and she knows it.
What makes her stomach flutter more than it should is who she's dressed like this for. She thinks of his handsome yet mysterious face, his slightly accented voice, the way he seems to make her both tremble with apprehension and something else she's not sure she's ready to even try to name. It's a feeling she welcomes after the past week.
"So, what can I do for you, Joseph?"
She hopes he can't hear the slight tremble in her voice. After all, if she thinks about how he got her unlisted number, her voice might crack more. She's scared, but part of her is intrigued.
"Felicity. It's good to hear your voice. I've missed it."
His voice is deep, sexy, his accent teasing her again. Her fears that he knows who she is are almost pushed aside as she feels a shiver run down her spine. Then, she comes to her senses.
"It hasn't been all that long. And I'm not all that inclined to talk to a man who suddenly appears to know my real name, and my unlisted phone number." There's an edge to her voice she's glad to hear. Wouldn't do to let him think he's got her rattled, even though he has. But she's pretty sure he knows it.
"Would you be more inclined to talk to Joseph Randolph, CEO of Wintergreen Enterprises?"
She doesn't know how to respond. Has he just told her his real name? Given her another alias? Is he toying with her for whatever reason?
"If you're as good as you say you are with computers, you shouldn't have a problem figuring me out." His voice, smooth, even, and perhaps a little amused, makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up, and not necessarily in a bad way. Fingers fly over the keyboard as he chuckles, deep and low in her ear, but says nothing more, obviously waiting for her to find what she's looking for. If her hands are shaking, she doesn't acknowledge it.
It's almost too obvious as her screens fill with articles about Wintergreen Enterprises. Its worldwide holdings, its import and export business as well as other lucrative holdings and ventures across the globe. Joseph Randolph, its "reclusive" founder and CEO, is mentioned in most articles, but, no surprise, there are relatively few pictures of the man. There's a reason he's continually referred to as 'reclusive' she supposes.
"But 'reclusive' makes me sound more interesting, doesn't it? Much better than 'playboy billionaire' I should think."
She bristles. It's instinct really. And it's enough to overcome the embarrassment that she obviously muttered her previous thoughts out loud to earn that response.
"There's more to Oliver Queen than most people know. And he can be just as 'reclusive' for what I'm sure are just as good reasons as yours." She bites her lip, knows she's revealed more than she intended. His laugh is low, sexy, and sends tremors running over her body in the most delicious ways.
"Touche, Felicity. But not unexpected. If I've learned nothing from our fascinating if brief conversations, it's that your loyalty to your employer runs deep and on many levels."
She tenses, wonders what he's implying. Wonders what she's given away in their brief meetings. Wonders if there is more to his interest in her. Wonders why she feels a spark of, something, not necessarily anger, but frustration, maybe, go through her at the thought this attractive, handsome man might think she's something she knows she's not to Oliver Queen.
"I know you have questions. And I intend to answer them all." His voice, mellow again, sends another tremor down her spine. She doesn't know if she's terrified or aroused and wishes she could figure it out. It frustrates her more than it should.
"After weeks of mystery, you're suddenly willing to tell me 'everything?'" There's suspicion in her words, and it earns her another deep laugh.
"You and I have a lot in common Felicity Smoak. And I'd like to talk about that. As well as the potential interest I have in your employer, and his company."
Her radar flashes red, even as her heart sinks. "So, once again, it's all about Oliver." She's oblivious to the fact she just referred to her boss by his first name. It's not even fear that he's out to get Oliver that she feels right now. It's a crushing sense that once again, someone, this time a very sexy, mysterious man, is interested in her because of what she does and who she works for. Not her.
"Not in the way you think." The intensity in his voice gives pause to her depressing thoughts.
"And you suddenly know what I think?" The words have bite, and she hears a sigh from the other end of the line.
"I simply mean that I'd like to talk to you more, about your work and potential business opportunities, if the subject comes up." His voice deepens, takes on a teasing tone as he continues. "But mainly, I want to get to know more about you, the woman who stared me down in a coffee shop and shook up any preconceived notions I might have had about her. I'm intrigued by her yes, but what I really want to know, is if she's brave enough to have dinner with me?"
He's smooth, she gives him that. She doesn't deny her heart speeds up a bit at his last words, even if she's still suspicious over what business he wants to talk about with her. Because she's not stupid. There's more here than he's said and she's curious as to his end game. But despite that curiosity, she believes his words are genuine in relation to her. She doesn't analyze why she feels this, but she does.
"Felicity? Women don't normally take this long to respond to a dinner invitation from me."
She jolts from her thoughts. He sounds more amused than irritated. Confident and sexy and as if he has no doubt of her response. It annoys her in a rather appealing way.
"Well, it's not every day a woman gets asked out to dinner by a man who she knows practically nothing about. Except he has ways of finding out her name and her unlisted phone number. Although being you're a big time, yet 'reclusive' CEO, I suppose it's not that surprising you have ways of finding these things out." It's more of a ramble than she likes, but she's still nervous. She feels marginally better as his warm laughter comes over the phone again. She's pretty sure he wears a satisfied smile as he replies.
"Then get to know me. Have dinner with me. I promise that it will be a night you won't forget."
A shiver runs down her spine at the promise, because there's no denying that's what it is, in his voice. She knows this one isn't from fear. But she's still wary. What does she really know about him after all? The voice in her head tells her having dinner with him would be an excellent way to answer that question. And if she names the place, keeps control of the situation, what does she have to lose? Plus, when was the last time someone actually asked her out? Much less an extremely mysterious and attractive man?
"If I agree, I pick the place. And it will be somewhere public, although I'm okay with sitting in a more secluded area of the restaurant if it makes you more comfortable. That is if you're still going to be wearing the sunglasses?" She rambles again, but she's nervous, even though she feels more confident.
"Whatever you want, Felicity."
She frowns. "My grandmother warned me about men who tell me they'll give me whatever I want." She bites her lip, considers her next words. "Do I need to worry about you?" His knowing laugh is probably one of the sexiest things she's ever heard. She closes her eyes a moment, letting it wash over her, forgetting for a second, all the dangers she's about to open herself to.
"It depends on you. But I promise, worry will be the last thing on your mind by the end of dinner." His voice is serious but there's an undercurrent of amusement. Surprisingly, this puts her more at ease than his words.
"Fine, I'll meet you at Petite Louis on 8th and Battery, at 8pm this Saturday. Prepare to buy me expensive wine. I prefer a good red." She doesn't know where that burst of confidence comes from, but it feels good. His sexy laugh makes her feel better.
"I'll see you then. I'm looking forward to it Felicity Smoak. More than you know." With that, the line disconnects.
She stares at the device in her hand for a moment, as her heart pounds at his final words. She doesn't deny she's turned on. He's dark, mysterious, and seems, from what her gut tells her, to be interested in her. Yes, he's obviously interested in Oliver to some extent, and that keeps her from completely giving into her heightened emotions. But she wonders what she's gotten herself into and if she should feel so excited about it.
"Felicity! Where the hell are you?"
Oliver's voice sounds in her ear and brings her back to the present. She flips back on her comms, as she's instinctively switched it off while talking with Joseph. She focuses back on matters of immediate concern, looks at her screens, pulls up the needed data.
"Sorry, distracted for a moment. I'm sending you the layout of the building he's hiding in. It should be pretty easy with you, Digg, and Roy covering the three entrances. Of course if there's more guards there than what my thermal cameras show, you could have some problems. But I don't see any way of fooling a thermal body scanner-"
"Focus, Felicity. We might need you."
She sighs, feels a pang at the sharpness of his words. She knows he's worried, tense, and anxious, especially with Roy out with them. But she also remembers the amused, almost affectionate irritation her rambles used to draw from him. She remains silent, watches and waits, trying to push down her confusing emotions.
It's easier when she thinks about Joseph's deep laugh, the way he looks at her as if he really, truly sees who she is, not who she tries to be for everyone else. As if he appreciates her, which is more than she can say for Oliver. Diggle, well, she knows he appreciates her as he's the only one who ever shows it, even if it's in rather subtle ways.
She's not some blushing female that's going to get swept away by Joseph's words, or the voice he delivers them in. She knows he has an agenda, but believes part of that is getting to know her, the real Felicity Smoak. She doesn't know why she's so sure of this, but she is. And now, she has an agenda too. She'll research him, find out everything she can about Joseph Randolph and Wintergreen Enterprises. Forewarned is forearmed after all. And she has more to work with now. This is, she thinks, going to be one of the more interesting dates she's had in years, if ever.
That is if they make it through this week.
She sighs, focuses completely on the mission. There will be time later to analyze this to death in her mind. And figure out what to wear. She's already got some ideas. She smiles as she turns her attention back to the monitors.
Her gaze returns to the mirror. It's Saturday and she's ready. She's done her research and on paper, Joseph Randolph looks to be exactly what he claims. However, he's almost too perfect. Every detail, every question, is answered by her searches. She's suspicious. No one is that perfect. She does indeed have questions for him.
But there's that part of her that can't help but feel eager to see him again. To see his reaction to her outfit. To sit across from him, drink red wine, and maybe, just maybe, get him to let her see his eyes. Something tells her they're the windows to his soul, as clichéd as that sounds. And she wants that glimpse of him, wants to know the man she's so suddenly drawn to.
And honestly, after the week she's had, it's nice to think that maybe this is a man, who despite some ulterior motives, actually finds her attractive, maybe even sexy. At least worthy of dinner out and some good red wine.
Because if this week has taught her anything, it's taught her that she desperately needs a life outside of the Arrowcave. Outside of Queen Consolidated. Away from fathers who abandon their daughters. Away from mothers who lie about their child's paternity and threaten people to keep quiet about it. Away from bow and bo staff wielding tortured heroes who can't help but hurt the people they claim to care for, over and over because they're too hurt themselves to realize this.
She knows she's overly sensitive. But she's justified, because it's intimidating to sit and watch four people, two of whom are the closest thing to family she's ever had, fight and laugh and share war stories about what they've experienced. Things she has no exposure to, and honestly, never wants to.
But it makes her wonder about her place in all of this. She knows they'd be lost without her mad computer skills (Roy's words, not hers) and ability to break into highly illegal computer and security systems. But she's not a physical fighter. She doesn't want to be, but feels a little inadequate. Are her computer skills really all that valuable when her friends and partners are all out there risking their lives on a nightly basis?
Realistically, she knows this worry is unfounded. She is a crucial part of this team, this family, even as it grows and expands faster than she likes. But Moira Queen's words ring in her head. "He'll hate you" sound over and over in her mind, haunt her dreams at night, along with Oliver's expression as he gathers himself together to introduce Moira. Yes, she knows it wasn't the best time to reveal his mother's secret, but her worries and fears aren't easy to hide from him, never have been. It's a part of their partnership that she both treasures and resents.
And while Oliver reassures her she 'won't lose him,' she thinks she's beginning to, whether he realizes it or not.
He turns to Sara more this week, the woman who understands what he's been through, and who has a dark and complicated history with him. Whose own life is nearly as messed up as Oliver's. She sees the way they look at each other now, and she knows about the Lance family dinner that Sara brings Oliver to. She's not surprised, Oliver's weakness is and most likely will always be the Lance women. She feels for Laurel however, as she's pretty sure it's not the best etiquette for your long thought dead sister to show up with your ex-boyfriend to a family dinner.
No one talks about it, but the way both Sara and Oliver beat up on the training dummies, tennis balls, and each other says more than words ever could. The tension is there, it always has been, only now she knows they're doing more than just fighting, bad guys and each other, to relieve it. She knows this because she can, contrary to what most think, read Oliver better than he can himself at times. And the way they are around each other…
His small touches are for her now, she drags smiles from him while they work out, and she knows Oliver's spending his nights at the small apartment Sara rented when Laurel kicked her out.
She doesn't lie to herself, it hurts to watch another woman come into Team Arrow and disrupt the dynamic. Not that she's not happy Oliver and Digg aren't alone out there anymore, and Roy is more like an overeager puppy despite his anger issues. She even likes Sara, which makes it even harder. She has an admitted girl-crush on the younger Lance, has since she first met her. And why not, Sara Lance is most likely the most powerful, stunning, woman she's ever met. What she's been through, how she's survived, Felicity is in awe, knowing she could never do that.
But it makes her doubt her place on a team of "heroes," flawed though they all are. She's just a tech girl. A glorified personal assistant that makes Oliver's double lives possible and makes sure they all end each night alive, if not always well.
And now, she doubts not just her place here, but her appeal as a woman. At least, a woman that Oliver Queen "could" care about. Because even though she knows he's not in any type of place to have the kind of relationship she wants and needs right now in her life, he cares about Sara, that's obvious. So he's definitely not worried about being in a relationship with someone he cares about. It's just not her.
It stings, though she knows he'll never see her as anything other than a friend, a partner. And she's okay with that, she really is. But now, she wonders if she's losing even that, thanks to her inability to keep a secret. But she doesn't regret telling him. He has a right to know, even if she ends up losing him. She'll just have to find something else, someone else, to give her what she needs while trying to be what Team Arrow, with all its tortured members, need.
Which is why, as she once more comes back to herself and her mirror reflection, she hopes tonight will prove her suspicions wrong, and that she's headed for a nice dinner, good wine, and good company with an attractive man that sees her for who she truly is, even if she's not sure who that is after this week.
The fear still lingers, but anticipation slowly replaces it. She takes a deep breath, gives herself one last glance in the mirror, then turns and grabs her keys. She has a mysterious, attractive, sexy man with a possible mystery to solve waiting for her. Yes, that mystery could bring her world crashing down around her. But then again, just because she doesn't wear a mask or shoot a bow, who says she's not brave in her own way, or that she doesn't crave a little adventure and mystery in the life she's trying to carve out on her own?
She smiles as she leaves her apartment. It's going to be an interesting night.
So, up next is their dinner date. I have lots of plans for this. Sladicity is going to be a part of this fic, I want it desperately. But in the end, it will be Olicity. But let's let Felicity have some fun (and angst) along the way. Everyone else on the damned show is, after all! Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think!