title: no, I don't want to fall in love (this world is only gonna break your heart)
category: arrow
genre: angst/romance
ship: felicity/oliver
rating: pg-13/teen
inspiration: gif (source)
word count: 2,556
summary: Oliver finds his hope in a witty blonde that never gives up on him, outsmarts him on his best day, and can remind him life is worth living with little more than a quirk of her lips.

no, I don't want to fall in love (this world is only gonna break your heart)

There are things he wants to say. Things that won't make this better, but that she wants to hear. That she deserves to hear. Things that get stuck in his throat every time he tries to speak them, a clog of emotion he chokes on every time.

He wants to tell her that he's sorry. Sorry he ever brought her into this life. Sorry he wasn't fast enough. Sorry that he's the reason she's become so recognizable at the hospital, and even more so on Digg's make-shift emergency table in the foundry.

He wants to tell her that he won't blame her if she decides to stop helping them, if she permanently hangs up her invisible cape of awesome (as she so eloquently calls her tech skills). So much has happened; there have been too many near-death experiences. She doesn't deserve that, she shouldn't have to put up with it, and he might even breathe easier if he knows she's out of the line of fire.

He wants to tell her that her that even though going into QC now fills him with dread, constantly wondering what he might screw up next and how he'll destroy his family's legacy with his ineptitude, knowing he'll see her smile every time he walks into the office is the only thing that gets him out the door most days. Time and again, he's had to face the fact that he was not built to be CEO, that he doesn't have the background or the book smarts to do it, and his alter-ego takes top priority, meaning his other obligations are put on the back burner. So when he gets up in the morning, he already feels run down; he already feels failure biting at his heels. But there she is. There's no coffee in her hand - she's made that clear - just one of her encouraging "we can take on the whole world and win" smiles, and that's all he needs.

He wants to tell her, on his worst days, her optimism picks him, and, on his best, it reminds him of how lucky he is. There are days, too many of them, when he thinks it's time to let go of this ideal that he can be better, that he can save this city or the people he cares about. Days when he's not sure why he even tries when it only seems to get worse. But she is always there, sometimes with an uplifting speech, sometimes with a simple "we can do this, Oliver. We will do this," and sometimes he snaps back that they can't, sometimes he doesn't want to believe her, but her words always stick with him, and she's always there waiting to pick up where they left off, to hand him his bow and his mask and dust him off before sending him back into the ring. And on the days where things slow down long enough for him to see that he's actually accomplished something, she's still there, her hand on his forearm, squeezing, as she smiles up at him with that, "See? I told you," smile of hers, and he knows that he couldn't do it without her, and the fact that he has her is a miracle in itself.

He wants to tell her that she should stop holding out hope that these days will ever end, because they won't. And in the same breath, he wants to ask her never to leave, because he already knows the foundry, his life, will be empty without her. What seemed a simple mission on the island has blown up into something else, something bigger, and he's not sure if he regrets that. What he does know is that this is life, this will be his life for a very long time. And sometimes he sees her, sometimes he hears her tell him there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and he wants to shake her and tell her that no, there isn't. There might be a brief reprieve, but there will always be chaos and danger and hurt in this world. There will always be another battle he has to fight. Until the day he loses the war, he will always be fighting against something. But he doesn't tell her that, he lets her carry that hope that one day things will settle down, because if he told her different, he's worried she'll realize that's not the life she wants, and that seat at her computers will be empty, the place at her desk in front of his office will be filled with an unfamiliar face. And the insanely smart IT specialist that he worked side by side with for so long will have moved on without him. He's gotten so used to having her in his life, he's not sure what his life would be like without her, and he doesn't want to know.

He wants to tell her he loves her; that he has for a long time and it's only gotten worse, only dug in deeper, until it's not just under his skin, but a part of him. It's all he thinks when he sees her. The world is a dark place; its shadows reach out and ensnare him far too often. He feels it like a weight that settles on his shoulders and slows him down. But there are bright spots. They're filled with slips-of-the-tongue and blonde hair (that she dyes, but he'll never tell), bright nail polish that changes every day (with lipstick to match), skirts (that are never too short and always unique), and that laugh, that oh so happy laugh that fills up the holes inside him just long enough to let him breathe. Some days the pressure on his chest is almost too much, like a fist around a heart that's been beaten and battered to a pulp, and then she's there and she's saying his name in that tone she reserves for him - "Oliver…" - and it's all it takes for his heart to stutter back to life and his lungs to fill up completely. If he were drowning, she'd be the ever faithful life preserver.

He wants to tell her these things but he stumbles over how to word them. If they're even needed. If she'll understand what he means. He struggles and struggles and they get tangled in his throat. They come out in her name, in exasperation and appreciation and desperation more than anything. Felicity. Felicity. Felicity. And sometimes he sees the way her lips curl up at the corner, like she hears it, she knows what he's saying, and other time she rolls her eyes, because he's so demanding without saying anything, and she might help, but she won't put up with his crap. So he says it again, softer that time, and she huffs out a little breath, accepting that he will never be perfect, he will never say or do the right thing every time. And sometimes he forgets how to be polite or nice or, the most obvious, that she can't actually read his mind. But she understands that. He's gotten better over the years, he keeps getting better, and, for the most part, she does know what he's not saying.

He thinks this is the exception. These things need to be said. And he can't bottle them up forever.

She nearly died today.

She's in a hospital bed with pillows stacked under her head, and she was in surgery so long that he wore a path into the floor pacing. Every time this happens, he thinks he's never known fear the way he does when he thinks he'll lose her. And then it happens again, and he's waiting for his luck to run out, so his fear is worse with every hospital visit.

When the doctor informs him that she'll be okay, he lets out a breath of relief so hard, his chest feels like its caving in on the exhale. He doesn't wait to find out anymore, leaving Digg to learn the details. He just needs to see her. He needs to touch her and see her chest rise with every inhale. He needs to press his fingers to her pulse and feel it for himself.

A nurse directs him to her room, away from the rest, because he wants privacy and he's demanded that she be treated with the same courtesy as anyone else would in his family. She's asleep. She stays asleep for a long time. He drags a chair beside her bed and he holds her hand, just watching her, listening to the steady beeping of the heart monitor in the background. It's hours before she stirs and he's not sure if he's even blinked, terrified that he'll close his eyes and open them to find she's not there anymore. But he has to have, because he's fallen asleep at some point, and he only wakes up when he feels her squeeze his hand.

His forefinger is tucked in between hers and her middle finger, his thumb gently rubbing just under her knuckle. She extends her thumb and meets his on a downward stroke. He stares at their twined hands until his eyes water and then he looks at her, a tired smile pulling at her lips. She isn't wearing her glasses, so she's squinting at him a bit, and some part of him wants to fix that, wants to dig in the bedside table and put them on her face, but that means letting go of her hand, and he's not willing to yet.

He breathes out heavily and shakes his head. His brow is furrowed and he's blinking quickly now because tears are collecting and his throat burns with all those words. So many and they still don't seem enough. All he manages to choke out is, "Felicity…"

She nods a little and licks her dry lips. "I know," she murmurs.

He lets out a heavy breath, his lips trembling as he clenches his teeth. And he wants to say them, he really does.

She pulls his hand closer and presses his fingers to her neck (like she knows, she always knows), until they find that steady pulse thrumming there, and she says again, "I know."

He stands from the chair, the legs scraping against the floor, and he leans over her, his free hand smoothing her hair back from her face as he bends to kiss her forehead, letting his lips linger there a long moment before he turns his head down, his eyes closed, their foreheads pressed together.

He counts every beat of her heart for what seems like a lifetime and he tells himself he won't stop. He'll never stop. That heart is going to beat for as long as his own, longer if at all possible. He'll do everything in his power to make it true.

Her hand slides up his cheek, fingers lightly scrubbing through whiskers. And when his lips finally settle over hers, he feels that clog in his throat melt away, and all those words spill out with each hopeful, desperate, loving kiss.

And she nods. "I know. I know. I know."

Maybe she always could read his mind. And maybe, day by day, year by year, those words get said. Sometimes in real words, sometimes in the way he kisses her, every chance he gets, and how he holds her as they fall asleep and curls around her in the early morning, trying to block out the sun from interrupting their peace. In how he rubs her shoulders when they cramp up from sitting at her computers too long or massages her hands after hours spent typing. His fingers write it on her skin as he presses her against the bed, tracing every inch of her body until he knows it as well as he does his own.

He's not a man of many words, least of all the ones that really count, but Felicity fills up the places his voice never reaches. She finishes the sentences he can never quite string together.

"Felicity…" I need you.

"Felicity…" I want you.

"Felicity…" I love you.

Sometimes it ends with "to be safe" or "too much" or "more than anything."

Like everything important, those too go unsaid, but not unknown.

If she knows what he's not saying, she knows the consequences. She accepts them, lives with them, and doesn't let them stop her. Every day she stands tall by his side at QC and every night she finds her rightful place in the foundry. Whatever mantle they take up, whatever mask he dons, whatever her position on the team, be it executive assistant or IT genius, they fit together, they fight together, and the world may revolt, but it eventually bends to their will. There are good days and bad days and days that never seem to end, and they face each and every one with one constant truth:

They love each other, and nothing and no one could change that.

It might not fix the world, it might not keep them alive, but it keeps them going, it keeps them fighting, and as long as they have that, as long as they have each other, there is hope. Sometimes that is all anybody needs; be it a broken man from an island of purgatory or a city shadowed by the tyranny of terrible people.

Oliver finds his hope in a witty blonde that never gives up on him, outsmarts him on his best day, and can remind him life is worth living with little more than a quirk of her lips. Felicity finds hers in a man who can't lie to save his life, is more hero than he'll ever understand, and looks at her like she hung the stars every time she smiles. And that hope drives them for the rest of their life together. It saves lives and cities and, most of all, each other.

It takes him a long time to get the words out, longer than some would say was acceptable, but Felicity doesn't mind. She hears them long before they leave his lips, and long after he's alive to say them. They paint her world in shades of green, the darkest on his worst days, and the brightest on his best. And when he's not there anymore to breathe them into every kiss and write them with every touch, she fills in those spaces with her own words, just like she's done the entire time she's known him, from the moment his secret life spilled into hers to the day they were married in a small, private ceremony, to decades later, when he dies an old man, with more scars than he deserves and more love than he anticipates.

She's oddly relieved in the end, because now he's free. He dies holding her hand, smiling up at her like a much younger version of himself, whispering her name with all the reverence of a man who's seen hope for the first time.

She misses his fingers in hers more and more over the year that follows, but when it's time to go, she smiles, because when she whispers his name on her last breath, she can hear his answer in the silence.


Author's Note: So, again, I only meant to write a tiny blurb about him holding her hand at the hospital, and then this happened... and I teared up a bit writing the ending.


Thank you for reading! Please leave a review, it's very appreciated!

- Lee | Fina