Felicity worried as Oliver stalked away, leaving her awash in confusion. Unfortunately, this seemed to be a common occurrence with the man, vacillating between swoon worthy and jerkface. She’d no idea how to deal with the intense, overly muscled man. His brush-off troubled the blonde as she waited for Laurel to join her at the bar. Losing herself in the cocktail before her, she contemplated the puzzle that was Oliver Queen, while reminding herself that he only asked for her help in fixing his laptop. They probably wouldn’t even interact very much with each other after this. Besides Laurel’s interest in Tommy, they shared very little in common.
A door in the back opened and Felicity glanced up expecting to see Laurel when she found herself facing a much less welcome person: Isabel.
“Oh. Ms. Smoak. Oliver didn’t mention you, but your presence explains his mood.” The other woman peered down her nose at Felicity’s outfit. The red sparkly top she loved so much apparently deemed beneath Isabel’s designer label ensemble.
Her gaze stalled over Felicity’s helmet, sitting on the barstool beside her. “Don’t tell me you ride?”
“I do,” Felicity replied evenly, moving it to the chair on the other side, leaving the seat open.
Isabel cringed in repugnance, “Oh my, it must be just awful to drive yourself.”
Oh for frak’s sake. Felicity laughed at the ridiculous woman. “You can’t be serious, Isabel. You have no idea what you’re missing.” Biting back any further retort, she ignored the pinch-faced woman’s snide insult. “It is lovely to see you again, Isabel. I hope you’re settling back into life in Starling City without any issues.”
The brunette lowered herself into the chair next to Felicity and sighed. “I can’t understand why in the world my brother would stay in this hole rather than travel the world. There is absolutely no culture in this godforsaken place.”
Laurel pushed out of the door to the back just then, carrying an armload of glassware and saving Felicity from an angry defense of Starling City. It may not be much, but it was home.
“Felicity! Oliver said you were here.” Laurel transferred the weight of the glasses to the counter beneath the bar and the sisters embraced.
Isabel squirmed, noticeably bothered by their open affection. “Well, I’ll just leave you to that then. It’s been a pleasure as always, Ms. Smoak.” Standing quickly, she turned as the front door opened and a large, handsome man with arms the size of a keg of beer entered.
“Oh Mr. Diggle,” Isabel called, scurrying across the floor towards him. “Please, do be a dear and give me a ride to the manor. It’ll take forever for my driver to arrive, and I feel a deep and immediate desire to shop. It’ll be quicker to meet him after I change rather than waiting here.”
A replica of a smile appeared on his face, “Of course, I’d be happy to drive you, Ms. Merlyn.” His eyes skittered in the direction of the back of the club for an instant before he turned and reopened the door for his temporary charge.
Felicity jerked her thumb in the direction the exiting pair, and asked, “So…how’s that going?”
“She’s not so bad once you get to know her,” Laurel put away the pint glasses. “I’ll admit she’s a bit tough to take at first.”
Between chuckles, Felicity responded, “That’s a bit of an understatement if I ever heard one. But I came here to get the skinny on you. So, how are you liking Tommy—I mean, how are you liking it here?”
Laurel swiped a towel at her little sister. “Oh stop teasing me.” Leaning down she confided, “He’s just about the sweetest man you ever met, Lissie.”
“And…” she waved her hand indicating she needed more information. “Does he like you?”
Her sister blushed fiercely and reached across the bar, squeezing Felicity’s hand. “I think so. I really do.”
As if hearing their conversation, the man in question called out from the office above the bar, “Laur, do you need anything?”
“Laur?” Felicity pushed the martini to the side and rested her chin in her hands, blinking up.
“Hush it now,” she responded, narrowing her eyes in warning. “I’m fine, Tommy,”
He stepped out onto the small metal landing despite her answer. “Are you sure? I’d be happy—” Noticing Laurel wasn’t alone, he hurried down the stairs. “Oh! Hey Felicity. Come to visit your sister? Make sure we’re treating her alright?”
Greeting her with a quick kiss on the cheek, the man’s enthusiasm warmed her. “Nah, I had no doubts on that front, Tommy.”
The nice Merlyn sibling slipped behind the bar, helping Laurel set up for the evening. “Your sister has been such an amazing help. Please thank your parents for me. I don’t know how we’d ever have opened on time without her.” He beamed at Laurel, obviously smitten. “If she weren’t so determined on law school, I’d have to try and steal her from you.”
“It wouldn’t be stealing if she said yes.” Felicity liked the man even more knowing that he supported her sister going back to school and that they’d gotten close enough to discuss her dreams.
“I’ll just leave you two alone, though I do hope you’ll hang out, Felicity. We’re trying out a new DJ and I’d love your opinion on him.”
“It appears that I have the night off, and Oliver graciously offered to ensure I have a ride home, so it’s a deal.” She tilted her martini in Tommy’s direction.
Straightening, he inquired after his friend. “I’ve been looking for him. Where’d he go?”
“He headed towards the back door last I saw him,” Laurel pointed towards the back and Tommy uttered a quick goodbye before moving in that direction, leaving Felicity alone to question her big sister about her love life.
Oliver glanced over his shoulder to check that Isabel hadn’t followed and then punched in the code to the basement of Verdant. A soft hiss escaped as the door closed behind him and he stormed down the stairs to the room he used as home base for his nightly activities. Tossing his jacket over the metal table and setting the laptop on top of it, he bee-lined to the ancient computer system. Fingers deftly ran over every surface searching for bugs. If Felicity were here—he stopped the thought in its tracks. No matter how beautiful and intelligent she might be, he could never bring her into his life. Either of them. She’d never fit in at the mansion; his mother would probably devour her as an appetizer. And she was far too innocent for the vigilante life.
The sassy IT girl caught his eye the first night they met, and he hadn’t stopped thinking about her since. Running into her at Verdant unexpectedly brightened his day. Finding a miniature camera at the bottom edge of the monitor, he removed and crushed it beneath his boot heel. He would not think of the blonde-haired nerdy temptress. Felicity Smoak was far more trouble than she was worth.
Finding four more bugs scattered about the dark and dingy room, three of which he destroyed, Oliver stiffened his resolve, banishing her brilliant smile and perfectly lipsticked mouth from his memory. It wouldn’t do to be thinking of kissing her when god knew who intended to harm the city next. Someone had obviously been watching him, though he had no idea where to begin that search. No one beyond him and Dig had entered the Foundry since he adopted the space as his second home. It was the only place he felt comfortable anymore.
The fact that he’d had no idea about the breech bothered him immensely. Whoever spied on him must have been watching since he began protecting the city after returning from the island. The video feeds were already in place before he set up the system. More concerning, however, was the idea that he’d unwittingly brought Felicity into the middle of this new unknown risk.
Once satisfied that he’d uncovered the last of the cameras, he placed the remaining one in a wooden box and shoved it into a small drawer of the metal cabinet. Finished with the task, he stripped off his t-shirt and stormed over to the salmon ladder, grabbing the rung and beginning a grueling workout as he ran through the list of potential threats. Frustrated with the realization he had too many names and that none of them rose to the top as a contender, the echo of metal clanging against metal filled the room. Physical exertion wasn’t working tonight. After an hour of beating up on his equipment, he flipped on his computer and tapped into the security feed from Verdant.
Cycling through the cameras, he found her. Still sitting at the bar, relaxed and head bobbing to the thrum of the bass, she appeared to be having a good time. Oliver wished that he could occupy the empty stool next to her, but he contented himself with observing. The Vigilante knew he was damaged and dangerous. Felicity Smoak, a vibrant ray of sunshine, belonged nowhere near such darkness. To bring her into his life felt like sacrilege. Despite his best intentions, he couldn’t help but think she’d be an asset on his team though. He imagined her bouncing ponytail as she used her tech expertise to help him save the city.
Shaking his head at the errant thought, he glanced at the time, surprised to realize that Dig hadn’t already joined him for the evening. Their partnership was still new, but once the older man agreed to aid him in his mission to right his father’s wrongs, he’d been loyal. Finding a text indicating Dig had been roped into driving Isabel home, Oliver discovered he had time to kill before his partner returned to the club. In the time it took for him to respond, a tall dark-haired man seated himself on the stool next to Felicity that Oliver had silently claimed as his. Before he could argue with himself, he was pulling a spare grey t-shirt over his head, throwing on his leather jacket, and already halfway up the stairs.
By the time he made it to the main floor, he found the charming blonde slow dancing with the mystery man. Why in the fuck was the DJ playing a love song? Jealousy he didn’t understand burned through his veins. Oliver stayed in the shadows where he belonged as someone else wrapped their arms around the amazing woman, never feeling more like the Vigilante. She deserved a normal life with a healthy man. Not a broken anti-hero destined to die defending his city.
He watched as they parted and she sashayed back to the bar, a smile spread wide across her lips. He tried to keep himself from going to her, and failed. At his appearance, the radiance of her smile disappeared, saddening him as he slid into his place at her side.
Seated next to her, the stoic man realized he had no idea what to say. “Can I buy you a drink,” he asked, shuddering at his worst attempt to strike up a conversation with a woman since he was a teenager.
She jiggled her full drink, “Already full. Besides, it’s not like you’d actually have to pay for it anyway, considering you own the place. I imagine you get whatever you want whenever you want it Mr. Sexypants.”
Oliver felt hope surface as her face flushed a deep red.
“Not that I’ve noticed the sexy in your pants—I mean noticed you’re sexy—not noticed—oh god, I’m going to stop talking now.” Felicity buried her face in her palms, groaning.
He found her inappropriate babbling refreshing. Her blonde ponytail dangled down along her chin and he wanted to thread his fingers through the silken lengths. “Please, let me take you somewhere else then and actually buy you a drink.”
Her gorgeous blue eyes refocused on him and her head turned, flipping her hair to the other side, out of reach. “Why on earth would I do that after you charged out of here earlier like the hounds of hell chased after you? What is wrong with you anyway? Someone spying on you seems like it should definitely be a concern, but you…” She huffed out an exasperated breath. “You make my head spin.”
Tension swept over him. He had no idea why her disdain affected him so much, and he muttered a fumbled apology, stumbling over his words. “I’m so sorry, Felicity. I…I guess I didn’t take the news well.”
She studied his face, unnerving him, before finally blessing him with a full, easy smile. “It’s alright, I’m feeling gracious tonight,” she replied, eyes twinkling. “All is forgiven. Just don’t do it again, m’kay?”
She reached out to lay her hand over his, and her touch settled him. Oliver’s gaze skittered down to their joined hands, and then immediately regretted drawing her attention to them when she realized what she’d done and withdrew the soft feel of her skin. His fingers fell to his side, twitching from the absence.
Felicity fidgeted, twirling her drink straw and looking everywhere but at him, as an awkward silence fell between them. “I really should call it a night. One more drink and I’ll be tipsy. Need a keep a clear head since I work in the morning, ya know.” Finally, she looked up and their eyes met. “Would you mind asking Frank if he has time to run me home?”
He knew he should do what he’d originally intended and have the bouncer escort her to her house, already becoming dangerously attracted to her sunny optimism and quick wit. Instead, he ignored his better judgment, unwilling to part with her just yet. “How many have you had?”
Her eyes narrowed, suspicious. “Why?”
Damn it. Why couldn’t the blonde make even one thing easy on him? “Humor me.”
She popped off her barstool, winking at him. “Enough that I shouldn’t drive, but not enough to fall into bed with you.” He wished he were a better man; that he could pursue this woman who brought light into his life.
“Then grab your gear.” Oliver stretched out his hand to her, already addicted to the feel of her after one innocuous touch.
“I did say not fall into bed with you, didn’t I?” she asked, clutching her helmet as a shield between them. “Words have a tendency to tumble out of my mouth, so I want to make sure we’re on the same page.”
He almost laughed, a rare occurrence in his world lately. “I assure you; you most definitely spurned my supposed advances.” Much to my chagrin.
Her red messenger bag wound over her shoulders, her fingers wrapping around the strap instead of his hand. “Well, as long as that’s clear. Lead the way, Mr. Queen.”
His empty fingers curled in on themselves, but he refused to let her rebuff deter him. He wasn’t falling for her, only offering her a ride home anyway. He couldn’t afford to let her get too close. After this ride home, he’d be able to forget her utterly kissable lips.
Holding the door open, he placed his hand on the small of her back without thinking. She startled, but then relaxed into his touch. That is until they approached his black Ducati Diavel Titanium, the one item he’d splurged on when he returned from the island. Some nights he just rode, feeling the freedom of the road and the wind when this life overwhelmed him.
“You’re chariot, milady,” he quipped, pretending a calm he didn’t feel. His heart stopped as she stiffened and he wondered why she was frightened.
“I could go back and ask Frank,” he began, but didn’t really want to finish the offer.
Luckily, she rose to the occasion, throwing back her shoulders in defiance. “Why would I want to do that?”
“If you’re afraid,” he teased.
Felicity scoffed, freeing her hair from its constraint, and tugging on her helmet. Oliver sucked in a breath as the blonde strands tumbled over her shoulders.
He gathered himself and straddled the bike, pulling on his own helmet and reaching out one last time for her hand. He told himself it didn’t matter if she took it, she’d be out of his life soon enough. But when she fitted her smaller hand into his, he held on long enough to tuck it under his jacket across his waist.
“Hold onto me tightly,” he said, smiling as her other arm banded around him. The secret desire to say that to her under less platonic circumstances rushed through him as his bike rumbled to life. One ride. He’d allow himself this one ride before leaving her to her safe and happy life.
But as he roared out of his parking spot, and Felicity wrapped her lithe body around him, he knew that it would be easier said than done.
The wind screamed around them as Felicity tightened her hold on Oliver. A feeling of safety enveloped her, and even though he broke several laws, she’d never felt so alive. He might baffle her, but she felt drawn to the man nonetheless. The world whizzed by and she pressed her body against his, reveling in the hard expanse of his abs under her palms. She knew he took the long way to her house, but she couldn’t find it in herself to care when her body flooded with need feeling his thighs tense in response to the curves. It really was too bad he was such an arrogant prick most of the time.
She forced the memory of their earlier interactions to the surface; remembering the way he’d dismissed her so easily. Maybe she proven her intelligence to him, but she’d never be more than a distraction for a man like Oliver Queen. But right now, soaring through the night, Felicity could easily be swept away into a world where millionaires fell in love with IT girls; where they could simply be a man and a woman, free to live and love without the demands of society.
He slowed the bike as they pulled onto her street, and she wondered briefly how he knew where she lived. That thought slipped away when he removed his helmet and turned to her, his eyes alight with a fire she’d never seen in them before.
She eased off the back of the motorcycle, unsnapping her chinstrap and letting her gaze roam his face. He seemed more relaxed, at one with the night surrounding them.
“As promised, Ms. Smoak.” He slid indecently from his seat, hanging his helmet over the edge of a handle and crooked his arm.
Felicity found herself once more speechless, lost in the endless ocean of his blue eyes, and wary as to what came next. But the desire to touch him superseded any doubts and she slipped her arm through his, running her fingertips over the butter soft black leather.
“This really isn’t necessary, Oliver,” she managed to say despite her pounding heart.
He almost smiled at her, and suddenly she felt it her life’s mission to bring joy to the man’s face.
“It’s really no trouble. I’d be remiss if I didn’t walk you safely to your door.”
Felicity steadied her breathing; he was only being a gentleman, probably trying to make up for his earlier behavior. Still, she couldn’t banish the desire to know what it would be like to be kissed by this decadent man. They walked up the stairs and stopped in front of her door. Felicity reluctantly removed her arm from his, searching in her messenger bag for her keys. When she looked back up at him, she was shocked to discover what looked like longing in his eyes. Even more so when warmth spread throughout her limbs in response. She could not fall for Oliver Queen. That situation had disaster written all over it.
“You’ve done your good deed for the evening, sir, and I thank you for the ride home.” Keep it platonic, Smoak.
She held her hand out for him to shake and his eyes flared in response. She didn’t understand the look he gave her, but when he took her hand, turning it over and placing a gentle kiss on her palm instead of simply shaking it, Felicity knew that forgetting about Oliver Queen would be harder than she ever imagined.
Too soon, he broke away. “I’ll have your Charlie back to you in the morning before you leave for work.”
“It’s really not necessary,” she responded while at the same time separating her moped’s key from the others. “My dad can just bring me by after lunch, if you have better things to do.”
“I always have better things to do,” he replied, but took the key from her anyway.
And with that, the spell woven between them shattered.
“Thank you again, Mr. Queen, for the ride home. I really appreciate it.” Her smile fell from her lips, and the openness he’d felt only moments before dissipated.
Oliver watched sadly as her body went rigid and he realized his error, but she was gone before he had the chance to say what he really meant. He might have better things to do, but nothing he’d rather do.
Trudging back to his Ducati, he berated himself for his inability to speak without offending her. He didn’t understand it; he’d never had a problem seducing women before. Why should it be so difficult to speak to this one enticing woman?
As he seated himself back on the bike, his gaze was drawn to a single light that flicked on, beaming out into the night. He watched, his stomach dropping, as Felicity paced her room, arms flailing, obviously involved in a one-sided argument. He told himself it was better this way, better if she despised him.
He sighed, pulling his helmet on and revving the engine. Right before he flipped his visor down, preparing to pull away from the intoxicating and frustrating woman, Oliver glanced up and watched as Felicity gazed down at the street where he idled. His heart thumped heavy in his chest as she slid her curtains closed. The Vigilante tore off, needing to put as much as distance between him and the promise of light that was Felicity Smoak.