A/N: SURPRISE! Since this is the last chapter, I decided to post the chapter here despite my earlier declaration. I hope you enjoy the ending!
Steady and strong, the sounds continue at regular intervals. It takes a minute or two before he recognizes the beeps for what they are: heartbeats. His heartbeats.
His first instinct is to open his eyes, to move. But his eyelids are so heavy that thinking about moving them hurts, and his body doesn't want to respond to his order to move. Yet he has to. Something's wrong. He has to find Felicity. He has to see her, to make sure she's alright, because something feels off and he has no idea how to explain it.
The first thing he moves is a fingertip. It's a feeble movement, a jerk more than conscious movement, but it's an improvement.
A warm hand slides into his and squeezes.
He struggles to open his eyes, desperate for the blonde hair and caring blue eyes of his soulmate. She's here, clutching his hand. How did he get here? Where is here?
The last thing he remembers is cold water numbing the pain of his injuries as it slowly suffocated him. In short: it was his worst nightmare.
"Fe-liss-ty," he mutters as his eyelids finally flutter open.
She's beautiful: bathed in brilliant sunlight that bounces off her golden tresses. Even if there are dark blue bags under her eyes, and her hair hangs a little limp, she's still the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
"Thank God. I thought I lost you," she whispers, the hand not gripped in his reaching up to cup his cheek.
He tries to smile, as if his whole body isn't pleasantly numb thanks to what he can only assume is some very heavy medication. "I shouldn't be alive," he manages.
Tears well in her eyes as she looks down at him, a few errant drops slip off her face and if he could move, Oliver would tenderly wipe them away. But the machines he's hooked into and the casts make it nearly impossible.
She lifts her hand from his face to wipe them away herself. "You died, Oliver."
He freezes, remembering it, remembering the cold saturating his bones. He remembers losing consciousness, his last thought of her. It felt like floating after that.
"We found you moments after you..." She chokes on the words, her hand moving to land on his mark. "They pulled you from the pit, and someone – I think it was Digg – performed CPR."
Slowly, he turns his head to face her, testing the limits of his body as his strength grows. He's feeling better than expected. Her words trigger a memory, or a vague approximation of one.
Sputtering and a shocked breath. Then lights and noise. Voices.
There are no clear images that spring forward, but Oliver can pinpoint the moment he came back. He can even guess what moments took place in the hospital, in the ambulance. But his sense of time is gone, completely vacant.
"How long have I been out?"
Felicity takes in a stuttering breath as her hands continue to roam over his body as if it's the only way to check that he's actually there. "They put you into a medically induced coma, so your body could heal a bit. Your body sustained massive damage. The doctors were amazed by how much you survived."
There's something she's not telling him, and it breaks his heart that she keeps checking each and every one of his injuries. She doesn't even have to look. She's memorized his wounds. And God, he wishes she never had to take something like that on.
"Felicity," he presses, "how long have I been out?"
"Two...two months." The words fall from her lips like lead weights, like each one could bring about imminent disaster.
"Two-" Oliver pauses. No. That's not what he wants to ask. How much time has passed isn't what he needs to dwell on. It's passed. He can't change that. "How did I get here?"
"A.R.G.U.S...they did something," Felicity mumbles, eyes focused on her hands stroking his body. "I'm not sure what. I was pretty out of it too when they brought us in. But there's a whole cover story. You're a hero now. Oliver Queen you, not Hood-you."
So Waller spun a story. Not hard to believe. Her letting him go back to his family...that's surprising. Last time she had him in her sights, he was forced to do her bidding, and now she has even better leverage, he's surprised to say the least.
"Why would they do that?" Something isn't adding up even in his still drug-clouded brain.
Felicity shrugs, her hand grazing down his arm to intertwine their fingers. "I didn't ask. Lyla mentioned something about Malcolm being a public figure. I think the truth just worked in our favor...well, most of the truth...anyway."
Oliver hums in agreement, content as he watches her. If he wasn't exhausted, he would pull his soulmate into his arms. It's been two months too long since he's held her, two months too long since he felt her skin pressed against his, felt her mark under his fingertips.
"I felt it, you know," she whispers conversationally as her hand drifts along his collarbone, her way of filling the silence. "It wasn't as bad as when you drank that potion in Russia, but...I still felt it all. I don't know how you lasted so long."
He wants to comfort her, to take away the echo of pain she still must feel. He wants to reassure her, but the burst of energy is gone. With her warm touch, he falls back asleep with a smile on his face.
He's home and everything will be all right.
"Yeah, Thea, he's awake," Felicity whispers into the phone from outside the hospital room. The door is open ajar, just enough that she can keep an eye on Oliver for her own sanity. "Well...he was anyway. He's resting now."
The doctor said to page him next time so he could talk to Oliver, to check for brain damage. It was a small blessing that he had seemed so normal the first time he woke up. But it hadn't been the first time. It had been the third. Three times before he could open his eyes and have a conversation.
It was a good sign.
"Of course you should come, Thea."
"But with everything that happened...Malcolm was a family friend and yet he did this to Oliver. You don't know how much Mom blames herself-"
"He'll be happy to see both of you." Felicity resists a groan at the continuing guilt of the Queen family. She'd have thought they'd be thrilled he survived, but Moira had withdrawn as the police dug into Malcolm Merlyn and started to uncover his seedy plans for Starling City and the Glades.
It turns out Malcolm was the one behind the list and Felicity had no small part in turning over everything they had dug up since Oliver came home. It was a tangled web the police were still working through, but it painted a pretty colorful picture.
Oliver Queen, newly resurrected, was tortured for information his father may have revealed about Malcolm's plan to destroy the Glades. That story was picked up by national newspapers with Oliver coming out looking like a hero. The public story released by representatives of A.R.G.U.S. claimed Oliver was assisting a deep cover F.B.I. team when he was kidnapped and tortured for hours by Malcolm.
The news painted him as a hero as it vilified the Merlyns. But the long-standing friendship between Malcolm and the Queens wasn't unnoticed. People started to ask questions, especially of Moira, questions she didn't want to answer.
Felicity was the one behind the entire electronic trail the police followed. She knows exactly what lead where. Moira was far from innocent in the affair, but Felicity doesn't want to believe her to be a willing participant either.
She came forward as a key witness shortly after the story broke, claiming her involvement was for fear of her children's lives, a fear clearly justified by Oliver's condition. Perhaps Moira knew Felicity wasn't convinced and that was why she stayed away from the hospital when Felicity was there. Or maybe she just couldn't stand the sight of her son after he died.
"I'll see you later, Thea." Felicity sighs as she closes the phone.
She thinks Thea's just afraid of losing the brother she just got back and that fear is keeping her from staying here. She's dealt with a lot of loss in her life, so she guesses it's understandable. Maybe.
"How are you holding up?"
Felicity glances at John, accepting a proffered coffee mug. "Been better. Shouldn't you be down a couple floors with your wife?"
"Lyla's fine. It's you I'm worried about. We both are."
The heat of the fresh coffee warms her hands through the paper. It almost burns in intensity, but Felicity's too preoccupied with staring her sleeping soulmate. "Oliver's alive. We brought him home. I couldn't be better."
"Felicity," John warns, voice low as to be only heard by her. "You killed a man, almost killed two. No one expects you to be fine. Your mark-"
"My mark is fine," she bites off before he can finish the sentence. She doesn't want to think about her mark right now. No. All that matters is Oliver. He's getting better. That has to be her main focus. "Anatoli offered to send some men to guard the hospital room."
Digg scowls. "Please tell me you refused."
Her huff of a laugh falls short of amusement. "I told him the only guard he needed was me...and Starling's finest," she gestures at the men in blue at either end of the hall.
"You also have Oliver's regular security detail."
"I'm well aware, Mr. Head-of-Security." Felicity lets a smile slip out. "We're protected. Still..." She runs a hand through her hair. "I can't wait until we can take him home. We've been in the hospital too long."
John snorts. "I'm sure he'll agree with you. It's actually a blessing he's been asleep this long or the doc would be begging you to take him home."
"Of that I have no doubt." Felicity smiles lovingly at Oliver's unconscious form.
Felicity's back in the room as Oliver opens his eyes, her hand finding his unerringly. She perches on the edge of the bed, and John presses the call button to the side of the bed.
"Hey, I'm here," she whispers. "You're okay."
"I think okay is a bit of a stretch," he groans.
Felicity's eyes land on the morphine drip. "I think we can give you a bit more..."
Oliver's hand covers hers on the switch. "No more drugs."
"But if you're in pain-"
"I've been through worse."
Felicity sighs. She can see the strain of his aches on him, in the lines of his skin. She can't stand to see him like that. It's not right. "Please," she whispers. "For me."
His hand falls from hers and he nods in tacit permission.
"Thank you." She can see in his eyes the moment the medicine takes effect. His body relaxes as the pain recedes.
"Because you asked."
She smiles sadly at his statement. "How about next time, you don't go out without back up?"
"Malcolm?" He asks, eyes darting to Digg at the question.
"Dead," Felicity answers confidently.
He locks eyes with her.
"Floyd Lawton killed him," she says in response to his unasked question. One more second and she would have shot him herself. He never said as much, but Felicity's almost certain Lawton took the shot so she wouldn't have to. They had stood shoulder to shoulder against Malcolm, but he had pulled the trigger first.
She doesn't know how to explain it to Oliver, how to put that conviction into words. So much happened that Oliver doesn't know and that she's not about to tell him while he's confined to a hospital bed. The nurses probably won't be too understanding of his need to punch someone once her story's over.
"How did you find me?"
Felicity stiffens at the question, not ready to reveal this secret, not yet.
"Anatoli," John answers for her.
Felicity watches Oliver for his reaction. Disgust, hate: that's what she expects to see in his eyes. But all she finds is resignation.
"What did you have to do?" Oliver's gaze fixes on John and then back to Felicity when he doesn't get an answer. "I know how favors work in the Bratva. What did you have to do?"
"A favor." Felicity responds with a shrug. If she plays it off as nothing, maybe Anton's death won't weigh on her as much. Or rather, maybe it will start bothering her like it probably should. She's losing more sleep over Oliver's condition than the man she had to kill.
He freezes. Oh, he has a pretty good guess of what Anatoli wanted. Felicity's not surprised: he was undercover with the Bratva for a year. He's been through a lot and it really wouldn't take that much to guess what had to happen.
"Please tell me you didn't, John. Not for me," Oliver croaks out, his eyes searching out the bodyguard.
Felicity winces. "John didn't do anything."
Oliver's head jerks around in surprise, eyes wide in shock, but they're interrupted by a round of doctors a second later.
She stays in the room through all the questions and tests, her hand clasped in his as she sits off to the side. Oliver keeps shooting her questioning looks, and she can see him picking apart the possibilities even as he answers the doctor's questions.
"Well, everything's looking good, Mr. Queen. You gave us quite the scare. It's going to take a while before you can get back to normal."
"Thank you, Doctor Harris." Oliver smiles up at the woman.
Felicity thinks it's a reprieve until the door closes and Oliver turns back to her. "Tell me everything."
He keeps his mouth shut for all of it, intent on absorbing every word, every facial expression that's just as telling as her words. The moments she glazes over are just as important as the ones she puts so much stock in.
Diggle's reactions are just as important as Felicity's. When she recounts her confrontation with Dimitri, the bodyguard rolls his eyes, but he's relaxed. It's not until she mentions feeling his pain that John stiffens.
Felicity, of course, makes it sound simple: she felt an echo of his pain, but pain meds helped. The twisted expression on Digg's face tells a different story. It was far worse than she let on. If the amount of pain he felt was a meter to gauge hers, she must have been in agony.
She winces away from his reaction as she recaps what happened with Anatoli as quickly as possible. Or she tries to spit it out as quickly as possible, but she stumbles over the words. Her hands are shaking and he's stuck in this damn bed while she avoids him across the room.
"Felicity," he growls, finally getting her to look back at him in surprise. She's waiting for his judgment, expectant of it. He doesn't know what she expects him to say. He's guilty of far worse for poorer reasons. "Come here."
Her hesitation breaks his heart.
The clip to the heart monitor is the first he removes, sending off alerts in the form of an annoying tone. Next is the IV and he attempts to stand. His body's on fire with new pain and his legs probably won't hold him well, but he needs to hold her in his arms to assure her that it's okay.
She races to his side. "What the hell did you think you're doing? You can't get out of bed!"
"You weren't going to come here, so I had to go over there." It's infallible logic as far as Oliver is concerned. She wouldn't come to him when he needed to offer her the comfort she clearly needed.
"Oliver." Her voice is soft as she helps him into bed, careful of injuries that only slightly bother him at the moment. They're nothing compared to the comfort of her touch.
"I don't blame you, Felicity. You did what you had to, and I would do the same for you." He cups her cheek to bring her eyes back to him. "I love you."
It's comical the way her eyes widen as she searches his face for the truth he knows is plainly written there. She's not a cold-blooded killer. She's a survivor, like him. The words weren't supposed to slip out here, but she has to know how he feels about her.
"Oliver," she whispers as nurses and doctors race into the room and surround them.
He nods solemnly, a smile pulling at the corners of her lips. "I love you."
She doesn't believe it. Her mouth opens and closes as she struggles for words, something she's ever really had a problem with before. No, this is new.
Oliver bats away the doctors attempting to reattach the sensors, so he can focus on Felicity's eyes as she processes what he told her. He can see the moment it sinks in and it just might be the happiest moment of his life when her lips for the words: "I love you."
Until the moment is broken when one of the medical staff, interrupts.
"Mr. Queen, we really need to reattach these monitors," a nurse insists with an attempt to pull him bodily back into bed.
"I don't need them," Oliver responds over his shoulder.
"I have to insist, Mr. Queen. We need to monitor your vitals.
He twists back to the middle aged woman currently staring him down just as she's no doubt confronted hundreds of patients over the years. "I'm fine. Can you just give us a moment?"
"I promise he won't try to stand again, Margot. Just give us a couple minutes," Felicity interjects with a polite smile.
Oliver tries to mirror it, to reassure the woman in front of them, but his smile is strained. He's not exactly a fan of hospitals. Or people poking at him while he's hurt. There are few people he trusts to look after him while he's unconscious. There are two of them in the room and neither is the nurse.
With Felicity's promise, Margot backs down slightly although she throws another glare in Oliver's direction. Digg follows her out with a nod to Oliver.
The bed creaks as Oliver turns carefully back to Felicity, now studiously avoiding his gaze. She fidgets, rubbing her hands together nervously, her eyes fixed low on his side where his mark lies under his robe. He knows her well enough to know she's struggling to deal with her strong emotions.
Her hand is soft in his as he guides it to the spot where mottled skin has long destroyed his mark. Her touch there soothes the pain better than any drug he's gotten. The pain is more of dull ache now anyway.
A sob escapes her and Felicity's hand presses further into his skin. Tears brim in her eyes, but as much as Oliver flounders for a reason, he can't find one.
"Hey," he whispers to grab her attention. His voice is gentle, unwilling to startle her. "What aren't you telling me?"
Without a word, she takes his hand and moves it to her waist, guiding it under her shirt to the soft skin underneath. He cups her side over the mark, but it feels different under his fingertips. The skin is raised instead of smooth as if...
His eyes widen in surprise and lift to Felicity's with a question. With her nod, he lifts the edge of her shirt to look at her side where their mark was inked on her skin. Except it isn't black.
The arrow on her side is a raised, red scar that appears tender to the touch. It's warm under his fingers, the proof that he died and she felt the unbearable pain associated with it. His other hand flies to his own mark, but she stills him.
"Yours is still there."
He takes her word for it, thumb running over her scarred mark like that could help him take the pain away. "How is that possible?"
She cups his cheek, this time being the one to maintain eye contact. "You died, Oliver. I didn't so your mark is still there or as there as black ink can be under the scar tissue. Or that's what the doctor said after Digg insisted they check me out too."
Her eyes drift down to his scar, a finger tracing the hints of black that remain of his mark. The contact sends a shiver up his spine.
"But…," He frowns at the red outlines of her mark that used to be black. "I'm alive. Why is it still scarred?"
The last thing she wants to do is talk about his death, about the burning, searing pain it caused her, how she felt lost and adrift, how she was hollow and unresponsive for hours, how that same numbness came and went for days on end. She still felt it sometimes, the harrowing feeling of loneliness like she was missing a limb. Her only comfort was sitting by Oliver's bed, his physical presence a balm for her pain. She can't feel him the way she did before, and it terrifies her.
"You died," she whispers quietly. "And it left it's mark, in more ways than one."
"You were hurt?" He looks her over for any visible injuries, but finds none.
"I was still dealing with your pain and...everything that happened. I was in shock, but having you here, alive...it helped. I'm just glad you're gonna be okay." Felicity runs her hands through his hair. It's grown longer than usual and her nails just scrape along the base of his scalp. He shivers.
He leans into her touch, eyes fluttering closed even as his fingers correct her forever scarred mark. He should be more worried about all that lost time, but she's here and that's really all he needs to know.
Oliver pulls her gently closer by his grip on her waist. "I'm serious. I don't blame you for any of this, anything that happened."
Felicity sighs, tilting his head back so she can look directly at him from where she stands between his legs. "I love you, too, you know. But I thought I lost you. I thought you were dead."
Her voice shakes, tears spilling over. "If you had died it would have been for nothing."
"I'm still here," Oliver whispers, turning his head to press a kiss to the palm of her hand. "And I'm not going to leave."
She sobs, completely closing the difference between them to wrap him in her arms. Her movement causes him faint discomfort, but it doesn't matter because he pulls her into his lap and holds her as close as he possibly can. She melts into him pressing kisses to his cheek and neck before sealing her lips to his.
He shifts her closer into his arms, so there's no part of her not touching him and vice versa.
"Alright. Your time is up."
Felicity pulls away from him at Marjory's entrance, but Oliver just groans.
The nurse rolls her eyes as she pushes him back into bed. "Really, Mr. Queen? The sooner you get better, the sooner you can get back to making out with your soulmate. But first, you need to get your strength back. The physical therapist will be here in fifteen minutes."
He leans back into the pillows. "Fine. But no more medicine."
Marjory purses her lips in disapproval, but detaches the morphine drip. She glances back at Felicity. "You've got a stubborn one here."
Oliver snorts. "I'm not the only one."
The nurse laughs and shows him her first true grin. "No you're not."
A Year Later
"Oliver? What are you doing?"
"Hmm?" The guilty look he shoots her as he looks up from his cooking does nothing to ease Felicity's inkling that something is up with him.
"What are you doing?" she repeats, rounding the counter into the kitchen with a speculative look.
"Making dinner." He grins at her. "Is that a crime?"
"Well," she sidles up to him and wraps her arms around his waist, pressing a kiss to his shoulder, "it's highly suspicious when dinner involves expensive wine and candles."
"Don't forget Chicken Marsala with mint-chip lava cake for dessert."
Felicity hums in appreciation of the food selection before she pulls away and hops up on the counter next to where he's cooking. "So what's the special occasion?"
"Does there have to be one?" He offers her the spoon to taste the sauce.
Felicity eyes him suspiciously, but moans at the taste of the sauce. Really, his food is downright sinful. She's gained at least fifteen pounds in the last two weeks since Oliver started cooking regularly. Not to mention it's completely devastating to her libido that such a good looking man can cook so well.
"Seriously, Oliver, what are we celebrating?"
Okay, she may be the blissful kind of in love that leaves Roy groaning every time he's in the room with her and Oliver, but even she knows that's a question, not an answer. "Oliver."
He sighs and steps between her legs to kiss the tip of her nose. "Can't I just make a beautiful dinner for my wonderful soulmate without an ulterior motive?"
Felicity wraps her arms around his neck to hold him in place as she pulls him in for a longer, more satisfying kiss. Ever since she's got him back, the touching has been almost constant, on both their parts. Neither of them could stand to be out of the other's sight for too long, as frustrating as that might be to everyone around them.
Sure, they spent time apart during the day – Felicity did have a job to do – but if they had free time they were together. Despite her worries that what happened with the Bratva would push him away, Oliver was more attentive. Both of them were overly conscious of how close they came to losing each other and devoted to never going through that again.
"Something's up, Oliver Queen, and I will figure out what it is," she declares once she pulls away for air. "You can't distract me with your kisses."
Her breathlessness detracts from the severity of the statement, especially once she catches the mischievous look in Oliver's eyes.
"Oh, really?" He asks against her lips. He yanks her closer to the edge of the counter as he simultaneously presses forward so their bodies are touching completely from the waist up. "I think I can find something to preoccupy you."
Felicity wiggles against him. She grins at the groan she receives before Oliver's mouth crashes into hers.
His lips aren't desperate in their intensity despite how the kiss started. They're methodical, slowly undoing her with little presses as Oliver takes his time. An impatient whine escapes her as he leans back, a smug teasing grin on his face.
But, oh, no, she is not going to let him get away with that!
She curls her hand into his shirt and yanks Oliver back to her. His fingertips dig into her hips to still keep her from getting the friction she wants. Felicity retaliates with a nip to his bottom lip, his answering growl sending heat straight to her core.
Her lust intensified, Felicity runs her hands over his still-clothed chest and tugs at his shirt. Really, clothes at this point are superfluous in her opinion.
"Felicity," Oliver groans, leaning back. "Dinner."
Despite his protests, he lets Felicity pull him back in. She's on the verge of convincing him – via her lips, of course – that they should postpone dinner altogether in favor of burning some more calories.
"Nope. Dinner," Oliver announces, stepping back as his hands slide down her arm to clench her hand, the only parts of their body touching.
Her head jerks around to the green burner phone on the counter.
"Ignore it," Oliver prompts as he helps her from the counter. "It can't be that important. I'm sure it's something we can get to after dinner."
Felicity shoots him a quelling look. "Quentin only calls when it's an emergency, Oliver. I don't think he'll accept 'sorry, I had to have a suspiciously fancy dinner with my soulmate' as a valid excuse."
He groans as Felicity lunges across the counter to grab the Arrow phone from its resting place. "Detective."
She furrows her brow at Oliver's resigned sigh as he starts to cool down all the food he made for dinner.
"Miss Smoak, I hope I'm not interrupting something."
Oh, he's interrupting something. She's not sure what it is yet, but she knows he's interrupting. And Oliver's pouting about whatever it is. But even if she tells him that, it won't change the urgency of Lance's call. The man doesn't ask for help often, but when he does it's always important, without a doubt. So she really can't rationalize saying anything other than, "What's going on, Detective?"
"Groups of teenagers have been kidnapped in the Glades. Runaways, so no one realized it was connected until recently when they became more daring. Last week they took three kids on their way home in the wee hours of the morning. Last night all three of them were found dead by the docks. And two more were just reported kidnapped. The police haven't gotten any headway, figured your man in green was our best option to bring these kids home alive."
Now that's a tough pill for Lance to swallow. He doesn't like to admit needing help, even after the Green Arrow saved his life four months ago. Felicity sees a kindred spirit in Quentin: he wants justice and he can't stand a mystery.
A month after he was saved, he connected a couple of the Green Arrow's gadgets to similar inventions within the Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences department. Of course, those projects had long since been terminated, and the only reason he had successfully tracked it to her was because she had been a little distracted with the imminent threat to Oliver's and Diggle's lives when they were out in the field a couple nights before.
If Lance hadn't been looking, no one would have caught her.
"No leads?" Felicity asks, following Oliver to the door. She slips into the jacket he holds out for her.
"No. I'll meet our friend in 30 minutes in our usual place with the files."
"Thank you, Detective." Felicity hangs up. With a deep breath, she locks eyes with Oliver. "Are you sure you want to do this? We can stay, if you want."
Oliver contemplates her for a moment for taking her hands in his. His thumbs rub circles over her knuckles. "Felicity, we both know Lance wouldn't call if it wasn't dire. We can do this later, promise." He lifts her hands and kisses them.
"I'm sorry for ruining your plan, whatever it is." She's not giving up on this mystery. They just have a bigger one to unravel first.
"I thought we were taking tonight off."
Oliver glares at Digg his seat on the med table. If it was his choice, he wouldn't be here at all. He would be having dinner with the love of his life. He'd planned it all out: the dinner, the dessert, his proposal. "We probably didn't need to drag you away from your wife and child."
Diggle scoffs. "If you didn't, you'd have more than just a graze."
"Plus, thanks to us, six teenagers are happily home tonight," Felicity announces, tossing the burner phone she had just used to call Lance on her computer desk. "Or not-so-happily considering some of them are going straight into the system. But that kidnapping ring is as good as shut down. For now at least, we should probably keep an eye out for any resurgences. After all, a human trafficking ring seems like it would take more than one night to take down."
"But for tonight, we're done." Oliver hops from the table. The stitches pull at his arm, causing a twinge of discomfort. But the pain is too trivial to distract him from his original purpose of tonight.
Felicity carefully shuts down her computers one at a time. Oliver can't drag his eyes from her as she moves around the Foundry with ease and grace. He's been doing that more and more: just staring, captivated by every move she makes.
"I'm sorry this ruined your plans," Digg whispers with a clap on Oliver's back.
Oliver's hand goes to the ring in his pocket, his mother's ring he's been walking around with for the last three months. At first he was hoping the right moment would happen spontaneously and he would just know. Then he had started planning. But his plan went up in smoke tonight with Lance's call.
Yet, in this moment, it doesn't seem so bad. He can make her favorite soufflé any time, and maybe putting the ring in her dessert wasn't the best idea, but he couldn't resist the chance. She loved his soufflé. Her moan the first time she tasted it had led to a some R-rated activities he wouldn't mind repeating.
"You sure you're okay?" Felicity asks, running a hand up his chest to wrap around the back of his neck.
He grins at her. "Fine." He turns to kiss her wrist with a promise in his eyes. "Let's head home."
Felicity hums contentedly. "Home. Sounds divine."
"Mmmm." He leans in to press the next kiss to her lips. "Divine."
"Alright, lovebirds. Save it for the nest." Digg rolls his eyes. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Oliver pulls away from Felicity reluctantly, while his arms stays wrapped around her waist. "Tomorrow."
As soon as John retreats up the steps, Oliver spins them to press Felicity up against a concrete pillar. Her squeak of surprise is covered by his fevered kiss. His love for this amazing woman rises with barely a thought, overwhelming his senses until he couldn't resist the urge to kiss her senseless.
Precious seconds tick by as she overcomes her shock. It's the tiny nip on her lower lip that brings her back to the present, and she kisses him back with equal fervor, her hands running over his shoulders and squeezing his biceps before running over his bare chest.
As one they freeze at the sound.
Oliver pulls back with an amused smirk that defies his attempts to suppress it. "Was that..."
Felicity's stomach growls again. Her face flushes bright red and she buries her face in his chest as a laugh rumbles through his chest. God, she's adorable.
"Come on," he whispers into her ear. "Give me a minute to get changed and we'll go get dinner."
A frustrated groan slips out of her, but she nods against his chest. Gently, he guides her back to lean against the pillar to the sound of another growl. They should probably keep more snacks down in the Foundry for late nights.
Oliver grins at her pout and drops a kiss on her cheek. "Just one minute and then we can go to Big Belly."
It takes far more strength than he thought it would to walk away from her, even if it was just to pull on a shirt and change his pants. He would change in the middle of the Foundry, but he needs some distance from Felicity to calm down enough to be presentable in public.
"Big Belly? But you were making dinner," she calls through the bathroom door.
Oliver shrugs, unable to describe how the thought struck his fancy out of nowhere. He suddenly wanted it to be just them going about their normal lives. He wanted to sit across from her at a booth in Big Belly, letting her steal his French fries and taking sips from her milkshake. Somehow, it seems a more fitting end of their day than chicken marsala, red wine, and a soufflé.
"I just feel the need for a burger," he says instead of everything in his mind. He re-enters the open expanse of the lair. "It's been too long since we enjoyed a quiet meal, just the two of us."
Felicity hmmms in agreement as Oliver tucks her under his arm and they walk in tandem toward the stairs. "I just feel bad. You worked so hard on dinner."
"We can have it tomorrow. We're both hungry and Big Belly will be faster."
Felicity groans. "You know, between your cooking and all this greasy food, I'm going to gain so much weight. I thought you were trying to get me to eat healthily."
Oliver chuckles. "One night of burgers won't hurt."
"Well, as long as you say so," she teases.
He didn't need the perfect dinner, or the ideal moment. He didn't need to prepare for months in advance to create the perfect romantic atmosphere. There was no grand gesture he had to orchestrate to tell a romantic tale.
He had wanted to do all that because he knew she had her doubts. Since her mark had scarred over, Felicity had worried about what it meant for them. For every reassurance he offered, she found another doubt. It had taken three months for him to convince her he still loved her, and another six to prove that they were still soulmates, that he didn't care that she killed a man, that her scarred over mark did nothing to diminish their connection.
The rumors floating around the gossip rags and his mother's insistence that they mingle in polite society didn't help matters.
Felicity hums as she dips a stolen French fry into her chocolate milkshake. "You know," she mutters between bites, "we could probably use some more equipment in the lair. There are a couple programs I've been working on, but they'll require a bit of a bigger server. Plus, I think someone's starting to notice our presence on the satellite.
"Too bad we can't have our own of those..."
"What if we could?" Oliver smirks at Felicity's wide-eyed delight.
"Really?! Could we?"
He'd be lying if he said he hadn't thought about it. He wasn't immune to her tech talk – hell, it was a turn-on he didn't know he had until he met Felicity – and he knew it would make their after-hours work easier.
"You want a satellite, you've got one."
She shakes her head at him. "You're ridiculous, you know that? There's no way you'd be able to get us a satellite."
Oliver snatches her hand before she manages to steal another French fry. "I'm serious, Felicity."
"Oliver, I can't ask you buy me a satellite."
"Good thing you're not asking."
"It's too much," she reprimands.
When he opens his mouth to argue, Felicity uses the moment to snatch another fry and dip it zealously into her milkshake. Perhaps she's a little overexcited because as she lifts the fry to her mouth, the milky residue of chocolate ice cream slides off the end of her fry to drop in a splotch on her pink dress.
"Frack." Felicity drops the fry to dab at the drop. "I swear I'm such a mess. I can't go anywhere. This is why I refuse to let you take me to any fancy restaurants. I'm a walking accident ready to happen."
It's not nearly as bad as she makes it out to be. It's like her babbling: it gets worse when she's nervous. She's incredibly well put-together most of the time. It's mainly just his mother who upsets her.
"I'm pretty sure your mother thinks I'm the clumsiest person in the world, especially after that incident with the split pea soup. Maybe I'm cursed or something. Nothing like this ever happens at home. Except that one time with the chocolate syrup-"
Except the chocolate syrup wasn't an accident. That had been very much intentional on his part and he had enjoyed licking it off.
Felicity frowns, cut off mid-rant. "What?"
He blinks. Those words were uttered aloud. And since the cat's out of the bag he commits to the decision. This isn't how he planned it, or even how he would pick the moment, but here in the simplicity of this moment, his love for her is unquestioned and all-consuming.
"Felicity Smoak," he pulls the ring from his pocket as he talks. Oh, the fit his mother will have when she finds out where he proposed using her ring. "Will you make me the happiest man in the world?"
Her mouth falls open, napkin slipping out of her grasp, forgotten. "Oliver..."
He can feel eyes on them, more specifically on the piece of jewelry in his hand. His old knee injury twinges as he kneels beside their table. "Will you marry me?"
Felicity nods vigorously, slipping out of the booth to kneel before him. Her face is taken up by a bright smile as he slips his mother's ring on her finger to the applause of the patrons of Big Belly Burger.
They kiss right there, kneeling on the less-than-clean floor of Big Belly Burger. Oliver couldn't care less. Nothing could infringe on his happiness as he pulls Felicity to her feet and kisses her again through cheers and jeers telling them to get a room.
She pulls away faintly pink as her thumb caresses his bottom lip. "Big Belly Burger? Really?"
He chuckles. "Well, my other plan got interrupted, and I didn't want to wait one more day before calling you my fiancé."
"Mmmm. Fiancé. I like the sound of that." Felicity smiles, her eyes drifting down to the ring again.
"I couldn't agree more." He only has eyes for her: the love in her eyes, the way her hand runs up his arm, the way the light catches on her ring.
"What do you say we get out of here?" Felicity suggests, her voice leaving no doubt for what's about to happen next, as soon as they get away from prying eyes.
"You have the best ideas," he murmurs against her lips, stealing another kiss. He drops cash on the table, nodding to Carly Diggle as he leads Felicity from the diner to catcalls and whistling.
"I am a genius." She boasts with a flirty smile thrown over her shoulder.
Overwhelmed with love for the remarkable woman in front of him, Oliver hurries them to his car, unbothered to even unlock it before he presses her against the side and proceeds to kiss her senseless, caressing her until they're both breathless. When they part for much needed air, he leans his forehead on hers. "And you can consider the satellite a wedding present."
Her bubbling laughter brightens his day, and Oliver vows to spend the rest of his life making her as happy as she is now.