Oliver had woken to 15 missed calls from Roger frantic to find him. He decided to take pity on the man and told him that he and his old boarding school pal had decided to relive their youth. He told him to bring the car out to Wayne Manor along with his luggage. Alfred had given him some of Bruce's clothes to wear.
Felicity had emerged from her bath looking a bit more like herself. She had on jeans and a grey and red MIT hoodie. Her hair was damp and in its usual ponytail. She rummaged around in her suitcase, letting out a low cheer when she found her glasses. He noticed she was walking gingerly and asked her about it.
When she said she'd cut her feet, he took a step to pick her up but stopped at her alarmed expression. "I do not need to be carried." He disagreed but didn't fight her. If she hadn't brought out a pair of flats, he might have done it anyway.
Felicity followed Oliver down an enormous staircase and found Bruce waiting at the bottom.
He smiled at her gently. "My apologies for the way Gotham treated you. That's not how I wanted our evening to end."
"It's alright, not your fault."
"Still. I'm glad you're safe."
"Me too," she smiled. "And please, thank Jee, uh, I mean Alfred for getting my stuff. Especially these," she pointed to her glasses.
Bruce directed her to a table covered with a large breakfast spread. Her stomach growled and she remembered she hadn't eaten anything since the ball. She still felt a bit queasy, though, and opted for some toast and fruit.
Oliver held out his hand to Bruce. "Thanks for your help last night. For calling in a favor," he said sincerely. "Felicity said that The Bat saved her."
Bruce shook his hand but looked confused. "I just placed a call to the police Commissioner." He laughed. "Wait. You think I know that psychopath who dresses up and runs around Gotham? Hardly. He's a menace.
"But, hey, I'm not going to complain about how Felicity was rescued." He looked over at her fondly. "As long as she was rescued."
Felicity glanced back at the two men. "But maybe the next meeting could take place at Queen Consolidated?"
Bruce smiled, "I think that could be arranged. Perhaps a personal tour of Starling City would be in order."
"Absolutely," she grinned.
Oliver frowned. "She's busy."
"Not that busy," she rejoined.
Later, as they were readying to leave, Bruce pulled Felicity aside and handed her a business card.
"My email; I'll be waiting to hear from you."
"And you shall."
"You know, he does…care."
She sighed, "I know he does. It's just…wait." She looked at him suspiciously. "What game are you playing?"
He smirked and held up his hands in surrender. "No game. I promise. I just…like you."
She smiled wryly, "You seem surprised."
"It's…rare in my life."
She impulsively threw her arms around Bruce and hugged him. He froze before relaxing and returned the hug.
They pulled apart to find Oliver looking at them with barely concealed irritation. "Time to leave."
She gave Bruce an apologetic look. "Sorry. I'm not quite sure why I did that. You sort of looked like you needed one, so I…"
"It's okay. It was…nice."
Felicity smiled up at him before grabbing one of his hands and giving it a quick squeeze.
They walked outside into the sunshine. Roger was holding the rear door open and she slid inside moving across the bench seat to make room for Oliver.
Bruce turned to Oliver. "Can I give you some advice?"
"No. But I doubt that will stop you," he sighed.
"We both know she's better than both of us combined."
"No argument here."
"Regardless, I intend on making up for last night when I visit next month."
"That doesn't sound like advice; it sounds like a threat."
Bruce cocked his head. "Now, why would my interest in your assistant be a threat?"
"Leave her alone, Wayne."
"Give me a reason, Queen."
The knowing look of Bruce's face caused Oliver's hand to clench.
Bruce sighed and gazed over at the north end of the property. When he looked back, Oliver saw an expression he'd never seen from Bruce. Sincerity. And for the first time since they met years before, Oliver watched the façade fall.
"The people we care about can be taken from us in a heartbeat. Not just from a kidnapping. From accidents, disease, or," he paused briefly, "a mugger looking for some quick cash.
You've managed to get a second chance with your resurrection. Don't waste it."
Oliver responded with a nod. "Understood," he said quietly.
Felicity couldn't hear what the two men were saying, but leaving them alone for too long never led to anything good. She leaned over and popped her head out of the car. "You two, I swear. Stop posturing. Get in the car, Oliver. I'll see you later, Bruce." She reached out and grabbed Oliver's sleeve tugging him towards the inside.
Oliver sat silently in thought as they drove away while Felicity turned in the seat with an enthusiastic wave to Bruce.
"You realize if you two cooperated, you could probably take over half the world," she mused. "Hmm, on second thought, I don't know if I can see you teaming up."
At his arched eyebrow, she questioned, "What?"
She shook her head, groaned, and leaned over to squeeze his knee. "You are not the funny one, Oliver."
He choked on a laugh and felt some of the tension he'd been carrying around fade.
"Neither are you."
"No, I'm the smart one."
"Hmmm…maybe. Possibly Barry. Not Sara."
He leaned back in the seat and listened as she debated with herself. Even with the past evening's events, she was still so animated and full of life. And every question and doubt he had suddenly disappeared.
Oliver helped her out of the car but didn't let go of her hand as they headed towards the jet. She gave him an odd look and he merely returned it with a raised eyebrow.
"You get to explain to Digg what happened," she said.
He sighed, already imagining the judgmental looks and lectures they both would receive.
"I'm blaming it all on Wayne. It's his city." Oliver stopped walking abruptly. The thought that flitted through his mind was ridiculous. He brushed it aside and started up the jet's stairs.
"What was that about?"
"Nothing." He shook his head absently. "Nothing," he said with more conviction.
"Don't think we're not going to talk about why you had your Arrow gear with you," she stated.
"I was hoping you'd overlook that," he replied.
Her nose wrinkled. "Nope."
He sighed dramatically. "Later?"
She smiled, "Yes, later."
She couldn't wait to get all the details on Oliver working with The Bat, but her stifled yawn told her she'd have to wait until she was more alert. As she slouched into the bench seat and watched as Oliver hovered nearby, she mused that Gotham was lucky to have its own vigilante even if he wasn't a handsome playboy billionaire.
Felicity bolted upright, her eyes wide. "Oh my God."
Oliver stiffened and looked concerned. "What's wrong?"
She looked at him curiously but said nothing. What are the odds that two of the richest men in the world had become vigilantes? But then, what were the odds that the two vigilantes weren't the richest men in the world?
She sputtered a laugh and relaxed back in her seat, grabbing his forearm and giving it a quick squeeze. "You know what? Never mind. Just had a crazy thought. It's nothing."
He looked at her strangely, but she just grinned. Oliver had his demons he was trying to exorcise. And if she was right, maybe Bruce had his own as well. It was comforting to know there were others out there trying to right wrongs. Willing to risk their own life for the safety of people they didn't know. Maybe someday, she'd share her theory with Oliver.
She flinched in surprise when Oliver slung his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.
"You look tired; you should rest."
And while she thought there was no way she could "rest" when she was plastered up against him, she found her body relaxing into his. She leaned her head into his shoulder and her eyes slid shut. She felt his chin rest on her head before he spoke.
"When I was on the island, the only thing I wanted was to survive. To live."
She felt around until she found his hand, lacing their fingers together.
"Somewhere along the way, with the list, and with Tommy's death, I gave up on that. But you…you never gave up on me," he sounded bemused.
"And I never will."
He brushed his lips across her forehead.
"But I think…I think maybe you're right."
"I usually am. About what?"
The hand on her shoulder moved to trace her jaw, tilting her head up. She opened her eyes and stared into his. He tilted his head and a smile played at the corners of his mouth.
"I deserve better."
Her eyes widened. "Yeah, you do." At his continued stare, she became flustered. "Oh. Um, I…I didn't mean me," she whispered.
The smile that spread across his face was gentle and the look in his eyes was full of affection.
"Oh no no no, this is because of last night. Because you were scared. This isn't real."
He shook his head. "It's not because of last night."
"Bruce? You think he's going to lure me away. He's not. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would enjoy letting him try. He's very…"
"Not. Bruce," he growled.
She tried to pull her hand away from his but he tightened his grip. Her chest felt tight. "Oliver…" she drawled.
"Felicity," he answered. The look he gave her was full of everything he couldn't say, didn't have words for.
"I want some happy stories. With you."
A tear slid down her cheek and he reached to wipe it away.
He smiled. "Is anything we do not complicated?"
"Besides, I have a feeling this might be the easiest thing we've ever done."
"Yeah, I think."
A month later Bruce was in a cave below his house training vigorously. His muscles ached when he finished, and he grabbed a towel to wipe away the sweat. Throwing it around his neck, he saw his phone flashing with a message.
He was scheduled to leave for Starling City the next morning to continue partnership discussions with Queen Consolidated. He'd already made dinner plans with a certain EA. They'd struck up an easy correspondence this past month and he was looking forward to seeing her again. He hadn't been lying, he did like her, and he found her to be a good resource for his nocturnal exploits.
He hadn't told her why he needed her tech support and advice and she hadn't asked, but he wasn't naïve enough to underestimate her intelligence. She'd seen through his playboy demeanor immediately, and it wouldn't surprise him if she seen through other things as well.
He'd known Oliver Queen's other identity long before their meeting a month ago. A long presumed dead figure resurfaces at the same time as an arrow toting vigilante? It hadn't taken much investigation or deduction to put two and two together.
Bruce wouldn't have wished having Felicity's life being in danger for any reason, but he would take that unfortunate opportunity to determine whether Arrow was a friend or foe. Ultimately, he decided he wouldn't interfere in Queen's work as long as the courtesy was returned.
He grabbed his phone. Though the message was from Felicity's number, it was Queen's voice in all its pompous glory.
"Wayne. Felicity won't be able to meet you for dinner tomorrow night. Something came up and she needs to cancel."
Bruce heard a muffled voice in the background. "Cancel what? Oliver, why do you have my phone? Who are you talking to? What are…? Are you serious right now? I thought you two came to some understanding. Just because we're…something…now doesn't mean I don't get to have dinner with a friend. Give me my phone. Now. No, now. I swear, I will transfer your shares to Bruce and he will own QC by morning if you don't…"
Felicity's voice became clear. "Hey, Bruce, yeah, sorry about that. Someone clearly hasn't had their nap today. Disregard all of that. I'll see you tomorrow and we'll pick a restaurant then. Oliver says 'Hi'."
"No, I don't," came a muted retort.
"He does. Bye!"
Bruce laughed. It was weird and foreign but felt right. It appeared Queen had taken his advice, and he was glad for it. That didn't mean he couldn't remind him that Felicity wasn't someone he should take for granted.
He wondered what would aggravate Queen more. If he sent flowers or gifts. He thought she might be a daisy or tulip girl, but Samsung had a new tablet that was in the beta stages he was sure she would love.
He sent both.
And we're done! Thanks to everyone who read, followed, or commented. It blows me away that someone would take time to read what I've written, and I appreciate it sooo very much.