A/N: So I know it took long and I'm sorry but I have a TON of work to catch up on in school. :( Oh well... :P
Also: Occassionally, the site gets a little weird and doesn't show that I've updated, so just make sure that you've read all the chapters!
Thank you guys again for all the wonderful comments and without further adieu, I give you... Chapter 10! :P
The minutes passed like hours. She stood, hidden from view, tears streaming down her face. She wanted to hear his response to Diggle's demand, but part of her was afraid that he would confirm Diggle's statements. She wasn't sure she could take that. She knew that her feelings were mostly—if not completely—one sided, but a confirmation of that fact would be enough to send her over the edge. When she had finally given up on the hope of receiving an answer, he spoke.
"I can't tell you that…I can't tell you any of that." Oliver sighed. His voice came out as barely a whisper. "None of it is true…I wouldn't be able to live if I lost her. Seeing her with someone else hurts me more than you can imagine. I love the way she smiles and rambles. The thought of her in danger sends me over the edge. I almost broke her window when James had to help her shower. I will never find someone who I can love more. I love her."
A fresh new stream of tears escaped her eyes. She carefully sat down on the last step and dropped her head into her lap. The words replayed in her mind and she concentrated on breathing for some time. She was acutely aware of the fact that it was too quiet, but she remained as she was.
"There," she heard Diggle say to Oliver.
If he replied, she didn't hear it. She sprang up as if she'd been electrocuted and whirled around to the door. She couldn't see clearly; the tears blurred her vision, but she didn't care. She only knew one thing: she needed to get out of there. She had punched in the first number of the code when she froze. Her heart leapt into her throat. She'd forgotten that punching in the code made noise.
She almost let out a cry of despair. She had never felt so trapped. She waited for them to find her there, head resting against the door, a waterfall of tears streaming down her face. Only a few seconds passed before there was a loud cough and she could hear the sounds of someone loudly punching the punching bag. It was Diggle, she knew because Oliver never made that much noise when he trained. Diggle usually didn't either, but she instantly knew that he was giving her a chance to escape.
Felicity didn't think twice; she finished punching in the code and practically flew out the door once it had opened, only stopping to make sure that the door was closed as quietly as possible. She hoped that Diggle's distraction had been enough. She didn't know what she looked like, probably a haphazard mess of wild blond hair, puffy red eyes, a sling, sweatpants, and a hoodie; she didn't care. A taxi stood some distance to the side of the entrance of the club. No one was inside the taxi aside from the driver and there wasn't a single person outside the Verdant at that moment.
Someone must have called the taxi and was currently still saying their 'farewells' to their friends inside because there weren't many regular taxis in the Glades. Before long, she was wrenching the door open and sliding into the back seat. The driver looked a bit startled, if it was from her appearance, or the way she had opened the door she didn't know, nor did she care. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she mumbled her address and, after a brief moment of hesitation, the driver started the car.
She vaguely heard him ask her if she was all right once the car had pulled out of the parking lot of the club. Suppressing a sigh, she mumbled an unconvincing 'yes' and hoped that he would not feel obligated to press her. He remained quiet. The city lights swirled around her as the car drove through the familiar streets. She tried to clear her mind, but Oliver's words danced around in her head: "I will never find someone who I can love more. I love her."
She shook her head in a futile childish attempt to send the words away. Some part of her was yelling at herself, telling her to stop this idiocy, that this was everything that she'd ever wanted, that she needed to go back and let Oliver know that she'd heard. A larger part wanted the driver to speed up. She wanted to get far away; maybe distance would make the words seem less real. She knew that it wouldn't.
Tears began to cloud her vision again and she bit her lip to keep herself together. She began to count seconds. They were too long. She tried to concentrate on the city lights. They were too bright. She tried to keep herself afloat amidst the sea of chaos inside her head. She was drowning. She searched for clarity in her mind. It was too dark. She looked for a remedy to it all. She was lost.
Finally, the car stopped in front of her apartment building and she distractedly handed some money over to the driver. She could see that he was about to repeat his earlier question, but she was out of the car before he could finish the sentence. She ignored the doorman, who asked her in a loud, worried voice what was going on. She didn't even look at the elevator; she'd been sitting still the whole car ride, alone with her thoughts. She needed to keep herself busy, if she stopped now, she would fall apart and she wouldn't make it to her apartment. She climbed up the stairs hurriedly, stumbling once or twice, but catching herself just in time.
A dull pain began in her shoulder; she ignored it. She'd barely opened her door before she began to sob uncontrollably. She managed to stagger to her couch before falling to her knees directly in front of it. She let the fear that she had been suppressing engulf her entirely and she almost shook with the force that it held. The words now became clearer until they drowned out any other thoughts she might have had.
"I will never find someone who I can love more. I love her."
"I will never find someone who I can love more. I love her."
"I will never find someone who I can love more. I love her."
She cried and cried. She had no sense of time and she wasn't sure how much time passed before her crying ceased. She had only stopped crying because the pain in her shoulder was becoming unbearable. Slowly, she stood up on shaking legs, knees aching from the earlier impact with the floor, and made her way to the kitchen. She took two painkillers and gulped down glass after glass of water.
Once she had finished, she made her way back to the couch and let herself fall heavily on it. The only thing that kept her from crying again was the clear thought that she'd done the right thing—that she was doing the right thing. Oliver wasn't ready. He wasn't ready to focus on his feelings for her, he wasn't ready to tell her his feelings, and he wasn't ready to act on his feelings. He wasn't in any place to do any of these things and she knew it. Aside from this, even she wasn't in the right place. The sheer force of fear that engulfed her when she was presented with the actual opportunity to cross the friendship line was proof that she wasn't ready.
There were too many things that could go wrong. First of all, he had countless demons that he needed to deal with before he was in a place where he could really focus on and conduct a serious relationship. Secondly, she saw him almost twenty-four hours a day; if things didn't work out it would be disastrous. Thirdly, things were constantly changing in their world and neither of them was strong enough at the moment to hold up the other. Fourthly, she still felt that she didn't quite fit in when it concerned the public, or day, part of his life. The list was long. It went on and on and on.
Letting out a shaking breath she closed her eyes. Some sense of relief and peace washed over her. She had done the right thing. She was doing the right thing. Now, she knew there were two possibilities: either they would eventually be in the right place, or they wouldn't find their footing and she would never again have an opportunity like the one she'd just run away from. Under normal circumstances, this uncertainty would have ascended her to a new level of fear, but she was too exhausted. The painkillers were taking affect and she made it to her bed; she was out as soon as her head hit the pillow.
The sun streamed in and she groaned in useless protest as her mind began to stir awake. The events of the previous night flooded into her mind before she was even fully awake. Felicity sighed loudly, and pulled up the sheets over her head. She needed to decide what she was going to do before getting up. Having some semblance of a plan, gave her a tiny bit of hope that she wouldn't revert back to the hopeless mess she'd been the day before.
The thought of booking a plane ticket and going to see James was beyond appealing. If there was ever a moment when she needed a friend, it was now. But she wasn't one to run and she had already run last night. She could argue that it wasn't running, just a girl visiting her best friend who she hadn't seen in years, but she dismissed the thought because despite what she would argue, she would know that it was running. After half-an-hour, she simply settled for a few basic facts that were fragments of a plan. She needed to get a new car; she spent almost every hour of every day with Oliver, she didn't need to add car rides too and she didn't want too be dependent on him. She needed to have a serious talk with Diggle; she appreciated what he had done, but she needed to let him know that neither of them were in the right place at the moment, she didn't want him to try something like that again. Most importantly, she needed to find a way to be in the same room as Oliver; much to her relief, he hadn't returned last night and she didn't know how she could now be in the same room as him without letting him know that something was up.
A cold sweat racked her body when she realized that she had no idea whether or not Diggle's distraction had worked. Just then her phone rang and she sat up in her bed. With a slightly trembling hand, she reached for her phone. Before it was even in her hand she read the called ID: Oliver. Taking three deep breaths, she picked up.
"H—Hello?" Her heart was in her throat. She was well aware that her voice sounded nervous and strange.
"Hey Felicity," came the voice of a confused Oliver. "Are you okay?"
She slowly and carefully let out a breath that she had been holding. "Yeah, why?" She still thought she sounded strange, but it was much better than before.
"Oh. Okay. I just wanted to check how you were doing."
'He doesn't know,' she thought relieved. "I'm feeling better today." 'Total lie.'
"Good. I'm sorry I didn't come check on you last night. I got held up at the club—you know…"
She almost rolled her eyes at his precautionary word choice. "Yeah. Tell me about it later."
"Oh. It's nothing. Digg and I took care of it."
"I have to get back to a meeting, but if you're still not feeling well I could send Digg over and come by later tonight myself."
"No!" She clamped her hand over her mouth. "I—I mean, no…I'll be fine on my own. I'm just going to be sleeping for the most part."
Oliver said nothing for a moment. "Are you sure?" His voice was low, soft, and full of concern.
His words from the previous night flashed in her mind and her eyes suddenly filled with tears. "Yeah…I'm sure." Warm tears began to spill from her eyes.
"Okay. I have to go. I'll check up on you later."
"Okay." She wanted to thank him for his concern, but she only trusted herself to utter that one word. The line went dead and she suddenly felt as fragile as she had felt the previous night.
'You did the right thing. You did the right thing. You did the right thing,' she repeated it again and again, but it didn't work as well as the night before. She regretted nothing. She was only upset that she'd finally gotten what she wanted only to let it go with hope for its return as her only consolation. His words were permanently tattooed in her mind, but she wanted to scrub them away. They were the most beautiful words she had ever heard in her entire life and they were about her, but they were only a painful reminder that she had 'done the right thing.'
She'd woken up with a positive outlook, but just talking to him had stripped that from her. She didn't blame him, how could she? There was no one to blame. She got up quickly, wincing a little when she moved her shoulder in the wrong way. She showered, dressed herself and ate some cereal for breakfast. It was all done in a half-conscious daze, but she knew that spending the day, pathetically wallowing in bed was not a good plan.
It was about halfway through, blankly staring at the television screen while the Big Bang Theory cast went about their lives in their comical way, when her phone rang again. This time it was James.
"Hey Licity! How are you doing? How's the shoulder?"
She smiled and felt some of the weight lift off of her shoulders. Someone outside of the team was there for her and supported her and that made her happy. "I'm fine James. It's feeling better."
"What's wrong Felicity?"
She couldn't understand how he knew that something was wrong; as far as she knew, she hadn't sounded odd. "Nothing."
"That doesn't work on me, remember?"
It was true. It never had worked on him. He always knew, even over the phone. She had hated that little superpower of his from time to time because he always got it out of her at some point, but at other times she loved it because sometimes when he coaxed it out of her, she just felt a lot better. She paused for a moment and considered telling him what had happened. She wanted to, but because it had taken place in the Foundry, she refrained from doing so reluctantly.
"I know…I'm just tired," she responded.
"That doesn't work on me either," he didn't sound amused and she imagined his deadpan.
"I just miss you. That's all."
For a moment, he said nothing and she knew what that meant: he didn't believe her. "I miss you too. I'll see you soon though…"
This was the opportunity that she had been waiting for. Now, she could divert the conversation. "How soon?"
"In about a two weeks; maybe a bit sooner."
He hesitated. "You know that you can tell me anything, don't you?"
For the second time that day, she felt silent tears roll down her cheeks and she mentally cursed her waterlogged eyes. She made a mental note to stop all crying activity for the next week at least. It was guilt that incited the tears; she wanted to tell him because he had been her vault for years, because he would tell her what to do, because that is how they had always been.
"I know. It's nothing…really. I just miss you."
"Okay," he said, but she could tell that he wasn't fooled and to be honest, she didn't blame him. She was still a terrible liar.
On Wednesday morning she was up early. Despite her determination, she had spent most of the previous day sulking, but she told herself that today was going to be different. She had put on a pair of comfortable kaki pants and a black shirt. Her hair was left loose, because she still wasn't able to manage putting it in a ponytail and she opted for her glasses and a pair of comfortable black flats.
She dropped her phone and her keys in her bag and walked out of the door. Hopefully, the doctor would tell her that she could get rid of the ridiculously tiresome sling today. Felicity greeted the doorman on her way out, he was not the one who had seen her run in looking an absolute mess on Monday, but from his slightly startled expression, se deduced that the story had traveled around.
Silently hoping that it was just the doormen who knew the story and not her whole building, she walked out and was met with the chaos that defined a city fully awake. There were taxi's stationed some distance down the sidewalk and she walked towards them only to be stopped.
'No. Please not today…I was fine with the prospect of going to work tomorrow. Just give me one more day.'
She turned reluctantly, knowing all too well that she wasn't going to get one more Oliver-free day. He was walking towards her, the spitting image of a billionaire CEO, and she turned to see the car parked right in front of the entrance of her building. Diggle followed Oliver and was staring at her intently. She wanted to bolt, but she stood her ground.
"What are you doing here Oliver?" She tilted her head to the side.
A small smile of amusement appeared on his face, "You have a doctor's appointment today," he said as if that explained everything.
"I know. I'm going to it now," she said, trying with every fiber of her body not to think about what she had overheard in the Foundry.
Now he looked even more amused and an all too rare smile appeared. She forced herself to look away from him and looked instead at Diggle. She was met with his worried eyes and mouth set in a hard line.
"How do you intend to get there?" Oliver asked.
She looked back at him, hoping that her face betrayed nothing. "In a taxi."
"No. Come, we're taking you," he said, reaching out to take her gently by the arm.
She was so concentrated on betraying nothing with her expressions that she didn't pull away. When he touched her, she felt the now familiar bolt of electricity shoot through her and she pulled away forcefully, taking a few steps back in the process and shaking her head slightly from side to side.
Oliver's smile disappeared instantly and his brows drew together. "Felicity, what's wrong?"
The word 'nothing' was on the tip of her tongue, but she bit it back, knowing that it wouldn't do her any good. She could feel the dampness in her eyes and she blinked furiously to keep the tears away. 'Get a grip Felicity!'
"I just—you have to go to work and I don't want to keep you from that. I can go by myself, honest. You didn't have to come. I would have come in to work tomorrow and then you would have seen that everything was fine, because everything is fine. Hopefully the doctor will free me of this annoying sling and then I'll be happily typing away tomorrow. But you should go back to work. I'll just take a taxi and go to the doctor's and come home and sleep and—"
He came to stand directly in front of her, blocking her view of Diggle, who's expression had been growing more solemn by the minute. Oliver didn't touch her again, but she could see that he wanted to, as if by touching her he would get the truth out of her. "Felicity. What's wrong?"
She took a few deep breaths and looked down at her feet. "Nothing. I just feel guilty for keeping you from work…"
When she met his ice-blue eyes again, she could see that he didn't buy it—not one word of it. Diggle laid a hand on Oliver's shoulder and Oliver turned to face him. The two shared a look, and she knew that Diggle was telling Oliver not to push her any further. Then Diggle stepped around Oliver, "Felicity, we're taking you to the doctor's. Get in the car."
She hated how he sounded like he was talking to a child, but she followed him nonetheless. She really needed to get herself together, she thought.
A/N: So...there you have it. I know most of you were hoping for a happy little "I love you" fest, but they just aren't in the right place for that at the moment...
I hope I didn't disappoint you too much. Let me know what you think! :)