A/N: Oliver's POV
"For the love of all that is holy and right," Felicity says as she hands Digg her bag and gets into the car. "Horses, many, many strong and mighty horses living inside this expensive engine." She affectionately pats the car's dash before reaching blindly for her seat belt. "Take me away."
We've been shuffling him back and forth between us. I send him to the office with her. She sends him back to me. It's obvious who's really in charge because he spends the day shadowing me, his glowering presence always just out of sight as I pace the mostly empty house that used to be my home.
At the last minute today, I decided to ride along with Digg when he went to pick her up. Just to escape those walls. Maybe escape my head. I had planned on opening the door for her, cuddling her in the backseat during the drive home, but I wasn't paying attention because I didn't see her walk up. And she obviously wasn't expecting me because she didn't slid into the backseat like she always does when I'm in the car.
I always ride in the back, even when it's just me and Digg, but apparently Felicity sits up front with him. Silent and unmoving in the back behind her, she doesn't seem to notice me as Digg pulls away from the curb and joins the traffic heading out of Starling City.
Digg glances at me in the mirror, but I shake my head no. He makes a little face, like he's disagreeing with me, but he doesn't say anything to Felicity. Just tightens his lips and quietly sighs as he turns his eyes back to the road.
"I also take back all the fussing I did when I said I didn't need you to drive me to and from work like a child," Felicity says to Digg. She touches her forehead to his shoulder for just a second before leaning her head back against the leather and closing her eyes. "It's really nice to not have to drive after a day like today. I'd probably have road rage."
"What happened?" he asks.
"Oh my gosh! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which is not blasphemy because, hello, still Jewish. I'm merely calling upon the strength of my people. And I'm not trying to compare a hacked mainframe to their burdens or anything, but as comforting as it can be to know you're on the side of the angels and all, there are times being one of the chosen is not all it's cracked up to be."
"The mainframe was hacked?"
"The head of the IT Department is intolerably incompetent. He always was, and he's just gotten worse since I got moved upstairs."
Felicity, still with her eyes closed, is gesturing and speaking more animatedly at Digg than she has with me in weeks. Since before I came back without Thea. Since before we took down Slade. She hasn't been that open with me since right before my mother was killed, when she vowed she wouldn't, couldn't, lose me.
"He used to mostly just ignore me," she continues. "Which honestly, I prefer to what he's doing now. I swear, every time I speak to him, he's staring at my lips, and I can just see his dirty little wheels turning, imagining exactly what I do with them to keep my job."
"Felicity," Digg soothes.
"It's fine," she says. "I mean, no, obviously. It's not fine. It's awful, really, when you think about all the women everywhere who have to deal with men like that. Like the only reason someone with girl-parts is in a position of authority is because of what she does with her girl-parts. Talk about a serious problem I wish we could take out with a few arrows. I shudder to think what would happen to QC if I didn't show up. I swear, there are times I think I'm holding the entire damn thing together with my bare hands. But I can manage him. I just hate being right all the time. This is exactly what I said people would think when I got moved upstairs."
"People don't think that," Digg argues.
"No. It's true. They really do. It's gross. But he's disgusting and has always thought I'm a moron. Whatever." She dismissively waves her hand like some guy thinking she's stupid is no big deal. "So I've been telling him for ages that the system is vulnerable. I've hacked into it a number of times with my tablet without even really thinking about it, for goodness sake. Why not just advertise our vulnerability to all our enemies? I could take out a Facebook ad: please hack us."
All the times Felicity curled up with me on the sofa in the evenings, staring at her tablet instead of what's on tv. I had no idea she was testing the security of the computers at Queen Consolidated. She never told me that's what she was doing. Then again, I never asked.
"Fortunately, the first time I got in, I went ahead and protected all the Executive Level files myself, before I made my official report to him that he completely ignored."
"Only you," Digg says with a grin. "Hack into systems and tidy up everything. The one hacker in all the world who leaves things better than how she found them."
"Inefficient computers hurt my soul, Digg. You know that. But I'm really extra glad now that I did because at least the more sensitive information is safe. But everything else is a disaster. What a mess. I'm going to spend the rest of the week overseeing sorting it out, and it's not like I don't have other things to do. And that man had the nerve to yell at me. And curse! For doing his job better than he does."
"What did he say?" Digg asks.
"Oh." Felicity once again dismisses Digg with a wave of her hand.
"Felicity," Digg says, his deep voice making both of us sit up a little bit straighter. "What did the man say?"
"Walllta's fired him," she quietly says instead. "I tried to talk him down. I mean, the man shouldn't be in charge, for goodness sake, but he has a family to support. My pride isn't so fragile that it can't take a hit. There's no reason his kids should have to suffer..."
"What. Did. He. Say."
"Well," she carefully says, very much not looking at Digg. "Let's just say that he's spent far more time imagining my." Felicity blushes and clears her throat. "Skills," she tactfully continues. "Than he has doing his job. He might suck at computers, but he's missed his calling because he has a definite flair for description."
"I'll fucking kill him," I snap from the backseat.
Felicity screams, which makes Digg jump, and the car swerving causes a riot of horns honking their protest.
"Oliver," she scolds. Her seatbelt's off, and she's on her knees, turned around so she can glare at me over the seat. "What on earth?" She doesn't finish the question, and I don't know what to say to answer.
"Come on," Digg quietly says, giving the back of her calf a gentle pat. "Buckle up."
"Fine," Felicity replies. "I'm getting car sick anyway." She could have taken the opportunity to hop into the back with me, but she doesn't. She turns around and rebuckles her seat belt up front, sitting next to him. "Practicing?"
"Nah," Digg teases. "I'm naturally paternal."
"It seems to be going around," she replies. "I am an extremely capable woman, you know. I don't need a bunch of father-figures. First Walllta, now you."
"And me," I remind her.
"Oliver," she begins with a sigh. "Hiding in the backseat is very distinctly not paternal."
"Not that part," I say, choosing to ignore the fact that she just politely called me childish. "I meant the offering to kill the guy to defend your honor. That's downright chivalrous."
"Maybe," she agrees. "But only if it's empty words. If you actually mean it, then it's a little bit creepy."
I don't know what I meant, actually, but I don't want to admit that to her. But I hate that I'm not there. That she's out in the world for hours and hours everyday without me. It's good, I guess, that she's not in physical danger. I don't think she is, anyway. Except I can actually do something about that. I can keep her safe from that kind of danger. Instead, she's subjected to assholes who don't value her or treat her with respect. And she's right. I can't crash through the guy's window tonight and tell him he's failed the city because he was mean to my girl. Although he's obviously failed the human race.
Well, I could. I just shouldn't. But really, where do you draw the line?
We ride in silence that doesn't quite feel comfortable back to the house. When we get there, and Digg's stopped the car, they both get out. It takes Felicity a second to realize I'm not with them. I watch from the car as she stops Digg with a hand on his wrist. They talk too quietly for me to listen in, but I can imagine what they're saying. I hate it when they talk about me. I hate how easy their friendship is. I hate how they don't even think before they touch each other, like it happens so often they don't even notice. Like breathing.
Digg's walking into the house when Felicity opens the backdoor and slides in next to me, where she should have been all along.
"I'm out of pennies," she says as she unbuckles my seat belt. I trace her nails with one of my fingers, the lavender color reminding me of jelly beans. "So you're just going to have to tell me without being bribed."
"I have them," I say, looking at her hands instead of her face. "All of them."
A collection of shiny copper pennies that started out as a joke, but then became a thing. Our thing. I keep them in my bedside table drawer in an oddly shaped wooden bowl I carved on Lian Yu to pass the time, and for the first time, it occurs to me that it's not a good thing I have enough pennies she gave me in exchange for my thoughts to gather in one place and partially fill a bowl.
"I want to help," she begins. "But I don't know how. What can I do, Oliver? Please tell me what I can do to help."
"I honestly don't know," I say, lacing my fingers through hers.
I shrug instead of answering.
"Stop," she says, the tone more gentle than the word. "Because yes, you do know. You're the only one who does. And if you don't want to tell me, that's fine. But don't sit there and tell me that you don't know."
"I left her there," I finally say.
I shrug again, and Felicity doesn't say anything. But she doesn't take her hand back either. I can feel her eyes on me as we sit there in the back of the car, her patiently waiting for me to tell her something real. Something true. She's waiting to hear something that matters.
She's been waiting.
"I almost didn't recognize her," I quietly say. "Her hair. It's short now. Like a boy's."
My sister fighting in black pants and a black t-shirt and black military style boots. She looked like she was twelve, with her little boy hair and any girlish curves hidden under utilitarian clothes.
"I've never seen Thea in short hair," she replies.
"Me neither. Not since she was a baby and didn't have any to speak of. He's training her," I say.
"To fight me, I imagine."
She nods. "Yeah." She sighs. "Being yelled at by an imbecile seems rather petty in comparison."
"No," I say, pulling her into my side.
I want her to rest her head on my shoulder, the way she did with Digg. I want her to tease me like she used to. I want us to go back to where we were before. Before Slade and my mother and Thea. I want us to be us again, but I don't know how to get from here to there.
"I want you to tell me about your day," I finally say to her.
"How was your day?" she quietly teases.
"Yes," I agree.
"No, that was an actual question. Oliver, how was your day? I already told you about mine."
"You told Digg," I say. "I just happened to be listening." She doesn't respond to my snark, and I'm grateful because I don't want to fight. Not now. Not ever. Not with Felicity. "I didn't do much," I finally admit.
"You mean besides hiding in backseats and nearly causing accidents?"
"I mostly paced," I tell her.
"That sounds dour." I nod. "Oliver, perhaps you've noticed by now, but idleness really doesn't suit you. Why don't you come back to the office."
"Because I'm no good at that."
"I think you're wrong," she says. "But okay. For now. We'll press pause on that particular conversation for the moment. But if not that, then something. You need to do something."
"Fix the Arrow Cave," she suggests. "We can't keep dinging up the walls in the mansion, and we're too far away from the action out here. Reopen the club. Now that Detective Lance is out of rehab, reconnect with our police sources and do some good in the city. Volunteer at the library, for all I care. Read the Odyssey over and over again to the blind. Something, Oliver. Just do something besides moping."
"I'm not moping," I argue.
"You're moping a little bit," she counters.
"I'm driving you crazy," I quietly say, not bothering to make it into a question.
"A little bit," she agrees. "But I'm not that easy to drive off."
"Thank God," I say, kissing her. "Because you'd have to drag me away too."
"I've never made out in the backseat of a car," she says with a smile.
"Really? I have."
"Of course you have," she says, rolling her eyes. "Lots, I'm sure. In fact, I've seen some interesting pictures of you doing just that on the internet. But some of us spent our youth otherwise occupied."
"It would be my pleasure, Ms. Smoak, to show you what you've been missing."