A/N: Another one! Spoilers for 3x01 ahead! You've been warned!

This was all new territory for both of them. He couldn't ever remember being nervous on a date before and she didn't quite know how to spend time with him when there weren't federal databases that needed to be hacked. But they both muddled through. Halfway through their meal he slipped her phone from her hand and assured her that Digg and Roy were fine without them for a few hours. After that things had turned around.

When he'd asked if she wanted to go back to his place he just meant for a glass of wine and a quiet atmosphere, but her cheeks had filled with color with the other implications it could have meant and then he was the one stammering and saying he didn't mean it like that.

She'd just held her clutch tighter and stepped a little closer to look up at him through her lashes and asked "Why not?"

His heart actually flipped and he gulped. She didn't miss a thing and lifted an extra inch on her toes to press her lips just above his collar.

He felt the mark of her kiss on his skin all the way back to his new place. Her left hand was firmly ensconced in his right and he didn't let it go until he pulled into the driveway of the secluded house on a bluff he'd bought three months earlier.

His eyes kept darting to hers as they made their way up the steps. She was smiling almost constantly and he found he was too.

The overly modern floor plan was as different from the mansion as one could get and he found he liked it. It was simple, easy, and offered him unobstructed views of almost the entire ground floor which put him at ease.

She wandered into the living area, shedding her coat and dropping it across the back of the couch along with her bag and the tie he'd removed as soon as they'd left the restaurant as he headed into the kitchen.

"Wine alright?" he asked and she hummed her agreement,

A short laugh from her made him raise his head and look over, taking his attention away from the bottle he was preparing to open.

"What's so funny?"

She turned and pointed to the glass topped coffee table in the middle of the room, "I was laughing at your presumption that I'd end up back here tonight. Were you feeling lucky, Mr. Queen?"

In the center of the table was a present; silver wrapping with a large green bow atop it, a folded piece of paper hanging off the front.

He hadn't bought her a present.

Time seemed to slow as his thoughts spun from confusion to fear in the space of a second, but it was a second too long.

He remembered watching the way her dress rode up the back as she bent over to flip up the card to read the inside.

He remembered vaulting over the counter, clearing the wine glasses but not the bottle.

He remembered hearing it crash to the floor behind him.

He remembered not being able to read what the note said but clearly seeing who it was from. The flowing script of the signature scrawled out 'Vertigo'.

He remembered the flash of heat and sound and light as he was blown backwards just as his fingers closed around her arm.

There was blackness and then confusion. His ears rung, leaving him disoriented and dizzy as he blinked his eyes rapidly, the smoke that filled the room burning them fiercely. Then red filled his vision and he found himself reaching for her. But the red wasn't from her dress. It was from the blood that ran down the side of her face, disappearing into her dress and staining her hair.

Felicity lay crumpled at his side, one of his legs thrown over hers and she wasn't moving.

Gritting his teeth he pushed up on one arm and brushed now matted hair out of her face, fingers streaking through black soot that marred her skin. He was shaking as he felt for her pulse and collapsed forward, coming to rest against her shoulder when he found it.

The smoke was getting thicker and some distant part of his brain knew he had to get her out. With one arm wrapped around her middle he stayed low and began to pull her away from the worst of the damage. A coughing fit overtook him when they reached the foyer and his knees cracked against the marble as he fell to the floor.

White spots dancing in his vision he barely had the presence of mind to pull his phone from his pocket. As the world began to go dark he didn't remember calling Digg. All he remembered was that he'd failed to keep her safe.

He woke up in the back of the van to Digg shouting instructions at Roy, who had Felicity sprawled across his lap, a towel pressed to her head.

"Felicity!" his voice was rough and hoarse, and it made his lungs burn but it didn't keep him from throwing himself upright and reaching for her.

"Welcome back, boss," Roy said tersely, barely taking his eyes off of Felicity,

"Digg?" he needed to know. He had to know how bad it was, because it looked bad and she had to be okay. He found her pulse again, letting the backs of his knuckles trail across his cheek, not even noticing he had an audience.

"She'll be alright, Oliver. Just looks like some glass from the table hit her and the force of the blast knocked her out," Digg answered,

"What the hell happened?" Roy asked and was immediately reprimanded by Digg,

"Not now, we'll deal with that later,"

"But that note-"

"Not. Now. Harper!" Digg bit out in a growl as he pulled up outside the back entrance to the lair and Oliver was too focused on Felicity to ask what he was talking about.

When the back doors opened Oliver slid out on unsteady legs but ignored it all as he turned back and held out his arms. Roy only shifted his eyes over to Digg for a second before he sighed heavily and handed her over.

He felt hands on his back as he took the first halting steps and then it was all a blur until he placed her on the table. The table she was never supposed to be on because she was never supposed to be hurt.

White noise filled his head as he braced his hands on the edge and tried to keep himself upright. He never wanted this for her.

Digg and Roy's voices sounded like they were coming at him from underwater, low and muted and neither of them asked him to move, just worked around him.

Digg was starting an I.V in her left hand when Oliver looked down and saw her earring was missing. Suddenly it was the only thing that mattered.

"Her earring's gone," he mumbled, barely audible, but they'd heard him and froze,


"Her earring's gone," he repeated as if confused. It had been there earlier. He'd remembered how it had caught the candlelight at the restaurant as she'd laughed about something. They'd danced around the smooth column of her neck, making him look at the delicate expanse of skin there and wonder if he'd get to taste it later.

"It's Felicity boss, she's got a hundred pair," Roy's words were meant to be reassuring but they sent a flare of anger up his spine and he lifted enraged eyes to the kid across the table who had the good sense to step back.

"Oliver, she's got another wound to her abdomen, probably a piece of glass that got dislodged."

He nodded with a lump in his throat and watched dazed as Digg lifted scissors to the bottom hem of her dress.

As the dress was cut off of her he was reminded of how it unzipped in the back. All the way down. It was the first thing he'd noticed when she'd turned around to grab her bag when he'd picked her up at her place and he couldn't help but think of how easy it would be to rid her of the garment.

When a matching red lace bra and underwear set came into view he only had a moment to wonder if she'd chosen them with him in mind, if she'd wondered whether he'd get to see them that night. Whatever had been her intention he knew she'd hadn't thought he'd see them like this.

Roy stood by with a blanket that Digg used to cover her as best he could and still access her injury.

Oliver let his mind go blank. He knew he should be helping. He knew he should be doing something. But all he could seem to do was stand there staring down at her.

His head slowly rose when he heard Digg tell Roy to grab a suture kit. "Just a few stitches, not as bad as it looks,"

"Another scar," he muttered, and turned back, unable to look away from the blood that was now drying on her face.

He finally reacted when Roy began to clean her off with a wet cloth. He took it from the kid without a word. The wound in her hairline was small and had already begun to clot and even though every pass across her skin erased the blood and soot he knew he'd see it vividly and in full detail every time he shut his eyes.

It was later when things were supposed to be getting better that it all went to hell.

She'd been cleaned and patched up, although there was still an oxygen mask on her face and an I.V running into her hand. Oliver hadn't moved from her side. Digg had eventually pushed a chair beneath him and forced him to sit while he removed his ruined jacket and cleaned the wounds in his back he didn't even know were there. Roy was unnaturally quiet, just silently handed him wipes to clean up his hands and the grey hoodie to slip on as they waited for her to wake up.

Then he handed him a charred piece of paper and there was an explosion of noise when Digg erupted.

"He needed to know!" Roy roared back, but retreated to the other side of the table as if Felicity could still offer him some form of protection even though she was unconscious.

It was the paper that had been taped to the bomb masquerading as present he realized as his stomach dropped. The front said 'To: Felicity' and what was written inside made his blood run cold.

'Wishing you an EXPLOSIVE end to your first date. Tell the Arrow I'll be seeing him soon~ Vertigo'

He handed the paper behind him, not even noticing if Digg took it or if it fell from his hand.

Then he stared at the woman before him and for took her hand in his.

They'd been so close.

But he wouldn't risk her life, not for something as insignificant as his happiness.

What made him cover his eyes and press hard against the hot sting of tears was how he knew she'd understand. She'd look up at him with a wide, hurting gaze and give him a sad smile and nothing else would have to be said.

He thought he could be happy. With her.

He'd always been a fool.