Chapter: 8 - Requited
Word Count: 6095

Notes: I am so sorry to show up two days late. My internet has been spotty because of some weather conditions around here. I've been down for around three days. I hate leaving you hanging on the last chapter!

Yeah, the last chapter. I'm kind of sad to see it go, but I hope you'll like the conclusion. ;) I'll just let you read the rest on that. You guys rock my socks and you're awesome. :)

Thanks for staying to the end! You are amazing! :)

It's still early when Oliver awakens—just before dawn, judging by the time on his alarm clock. At first he thinks he's been awakened by a nightmare again, but instead he notices something shifting under his arm. Felicity. He frowns, pulling her closer to him.

She smacks his bicep. "Oliver, I need to get up," she says, her voice hoarse with a coating of sleep. "Mrs. Queen—your mom—is coming to look over the new Jaeger construction, and I accomplished almost nothing yesterday." She kisses his arm before she adds, "Well, I did do something yesterday. And it was great."

He chuckles before pushing aside the strap of her red tank top to kiss her shoulder. "It was," Oliver agrees with a sleepy smile, pulling her closer. "Is there any way I can convince you to stay until breakfast?"

She turns in his arms to press her lips to his forehead. "I'm sure there is," she admits, "but I need to get out of here before anyone else wakes up." His eyes fly open in surprise; he never thought she'd try to keep them a secret. Before he can come to any more conclusions, Felicity adds, "I have a theory about us, but I'll never get a chance to test it if someone finds out."

A furrow appears between her brows as she settles into thoughts of Drift technology. Ever since their kiss last night, he can feel her so much more clearly while Ghosting—it's almost like they're Drifting now. Despite that, her calculations are beyond his understanding. "What are you thinking, Felicity?" he asks her, his smile fading.

"I'm thinking we don't Drift like normal Drift partners," she replies. Though Felicity's gaze is focused on him, there's a vacant look in her eyes. "And I'm thinking we should do an experiment. Another test run." Oliver's brow furrows. "I can tell Digg we're worried because I fell out of alignment. But the question is: do you trust me?"

"Always," he answers without missing a beat.

She kisses him on the lips this time, and they linger a moment before she pulls away, lifting his arm off of her waist. "Good. I'm going to start the day. Stay here and get a few more hours of sleep, okay?" Her expression softens. "I know you haven't been sleeping well, and I heard you get up in the night and pace for a few minutes."

Though he knows that sleep will be impossible for him, he humors her by staying in bed, watching with a little amazement as she trades the black sleep pants he let her borrow for her regulation PPDC jumpsuit. Perhaps one day Oliver will discover why he's worthy of something so wonderful, but for the moment, he's content simply to have her in his life.

She stops at the door as she adjusts her jumpsuit a little better, pulling her hair out from under the collar. "Oh, and Felicity?" he calls as her hand drops to the latch of the metal door. Her eyebrows rise in silent permission to continue. "I love you."

She flashes him a cheeky grin before replying, "I know." In a move he'd consider ridiculous with anyone else, she blows him a kiss before throwing him a fluttery wave. "I love you, too." With a wink and the twist of her hand, she opens the door and slips out of the room.

For a moment he does nothing more than stare after her, but then he decides that maybe he should take this opportunity to start the day early, to get some practice in downstairs. After a brief shower, he changes into an emerald green T-shirt and a pair of traditional PPDC pilot uniform pants. After all, if his mother is coming today, he'll need to be part of her dog and pony show. He pulls the black uniform shirt on, too, even though it's starchy and uncomfortable.

As he turns to leave, a glint catches his eye from under the bed. Curious, he goes to it, surprised to find a set of dog tags engraved with Felicity M. Smoak. Smiling slightly to himself, he pockets them before turning back to the door.

When he arrives in the basement level, Oliver is pleasantly surprised to find both Thea and Roy already practicing with two of the practice bows. In order to know how to use plasma arrows or swords in the Jaegers, they have to first learn how to use the weaponry themselves. So far they're making progress, but working between training sessions will certainly help that.

"You need to keep your elbow up, Roy," Oliver suggests after a short moment of observation. He jumps in response, but straightens his elbow. "And Speedy, you're easing up on the draw a little before you fire." He walks up to where she stands, ready to fire, and he takes her wrist to hold it in place. "Fire from here." He pushes her arm forward slightly, releasing some of the tension on the string. "Not here."

When he steps away, Roy is studying him with wide eyes. Letting the bow fall to his side, he says, "You're in a good mood. What's gotten into you, Oliver?" When the veteran pilot arches his eyebrows in a silent question, he clarifies, "Don't take this the wrong way, but you're actually being nice today."

As Thea fires—hitting the bullseye—she adds, "It's a fair question. Usually you're gruff when you're in training mode. Slapping arms into place and barking out orders." She crosses her arms with a wry smile. "Who are you and what have you done with my brother?"

"That's cute, Speedy," Oliver fires back with a smile. Maybe he's feeling a little lighter today than he has in ages, but the reason why is no one's business. Maybe later they'll talk about it, but he owes Felicity the chance to test out whatever theory she's concocted.

Without a solid response, Thea does the same thing the media usually does: comes up with her own story. "Did you actually sleep last night?" Her face falls a little. "I can tell you don't sleep most nights, Ollie." Her eyebrows narrow. "And why are you dressed like an actual Ranger today?"

"Mom is coming," he explains, trying to keep his tone neutral. Judging by Thea's eye roll, it doesn't quite work. "You know how she feels about her formalities." Sighing, he shrugs off the uniform shirt and lays it across the table before grabbing his own bow from the locker. "I'd rather avoid a lecture."

"You wouldn't get one," Thea assures him. "You're her golden boy. I went to one of those fancy dinners with her last week. She loves that you're back in a Drivesuit. Talks about how you're following in Dad's footsteps. She talks like you deserve a medal—another one."

It's one of the things he dislikes about his mother: she likes to make him out to be a hero, a caped crusader single-handedly ridding the world of evil. Meanwhile, the real heroes of this war are the ones who stepped out in a Jaeger and never came back. "The one who deserves a medal is Felicity," he admits with honesty. "She tolerates me being in her head."

Roy is the one to snort this time. "Pretty sure she doesn't mind." Oliver's eyes narrow and even Thea shoots her crush a pointed look. "What? They have a thing. A thing that isn't just about two people being friends." He smirks at Oliver before tacking on, "Digg always says there's no accounting for taste."

Thea blanches, but Oliver just smirks back. "Could say the same about my sister," he remarks in a dry tone. She glares at him with a flush on her cheeks. Roy doesn't seem to understand the insult, but the Ranger knows he will soon enough; after all, they'll be Drifting soon, and there are no secrets between Drift partners.

"Have you heard anything about our Jaeger?" Thea asks, placing her bow on the table as Oliver steps up to start firing. "All I know is that it's supposed to be based off of yours. And that it's a Mark Five, which means it will be more of an electronic marvel and less of a brutal war machine."

"The Mark Fives have better control systems," Oliver explains, remembering some of the less technical aspects of Felicity's knowledge on the subject. "They worked the bugs out of the impulse control in the Drift. The armor is lighter, and the Drivesuits aren't so bulky."

He fires an arrow into the bullseye of the target in front of him before adding, "Your Jaeger will be one of Felicity's designs. You're in good hands." Thea throws him an indulgent smile, even though she rolls her eyes. If Oliver sounds like a lovesick fool, so be it. He is. "She based it off of the Green Arrow. I think she's going with a red design and calling it the Red Arrow."

Roy snorts in something less than excitement as Oliver puts another arrow into the target. "It's nuclear—like ours—and has the plasma arrow capabilities, but it's smaller and has lighter armor. Felicity says it's built for speed." He frowns, thinking. "She said something about it having swords and plasma staves—like Canary, but a matched set instead of just one."

"Sounds badass," Thea remarks, "but I'm not sure how I feel about piloting a younger sibling of my brother's prized Jaeger." She crosses her arms. "No offense, Ollie, but I don't want to spend my career in your shadow. Or Felicity's, for that matter, since she designed it."

"A Jaeger is only as good as its pilots," Oliver answers in an even tone. "The Alpha Omega was a piece of junk, but Maseo made it into a legend. And Felicity's first Jaeger was called Shadow Demon.. It barely lasted two fights before Malcolm Merlyn and Nyssa's father decimated it." He fires another shot before turning to face her. "This Jaeger is going to be what you make it, Speedy. If you treat it like it's second-best, it always will be."

"I'm just glad we're not in the other one she's designing," Roy interjects. "Coyote Tango? I saw the designs for it last week, and it's insane. There's barely any armor plating at all on it, and it has really thin legs—but over seventy engine blocks per muscle strand. Barely any plasma weapons to it—all blades." He frowns. "She says it's a Jaeger for a thinker instead of a fighter, but I don't know if anyone can survive that deathtrap."

Oliver already knows about Coyote Tango—the one that Felicity calls the Huntress sometimes—and he knows precisely the right team for her. He's watched McKenna and Helena in the ring enough to know that they're what Felicity had in mind when she brought in the designs. "The goal is not to get hit, Roy," he explains dryly. "It's made for someone who fights fast and light."

They lapse into silence after that, the two co-pilots working on their hand-to-hand techniques while Oliver fires a few arrows for practice. It's a way to clear his mind, to stop himself from worrying about things like his mother or Felicity's plan or the fact he'll likely never Drift again.

The last one worries him least of all. He'd gladly leave it behind for Felicity.

He has no idea how long he's been shooting at the wall when Thea's voice breaks through his concentration. "Ollie? Hello? Tower control to Ollie? Anyone home?" Oliver blinks twice before turning to her. "Finally! I started to think doing something that boring fried your brain."

It isn't just the three of them anymore. Felicity is placing two trays of food on the table with an amused smile on her fuchsia lips. Like him, she's attempted to dress up for his mother's visit. She's wearing a pilot uniform, too: a black pencil skirt with the traditional short-sleeved, button-down black shirt. Despite that, there's a defiance in the way she's chosen to wear it; her hair is hanging loose and the top three buttons of her top are open to expose a turquoise tank underneath. Instead of black heels, she wears a pair of black flats with pandas and pink embellishments on them.

"Thea, it wasn't a problem," Felicity tells her with a smile, tucking pink hair behind the ear with the industrial piercing at the top. "I could have waited. It's impossible to get through to Oliver when he's sticking arrows in things."

"I thought you liked that quality about me," Oliver teases with a hint of a smile. She returns it, so bright and happy that he feels the need to smile wider. "Have you been lying to me?" It's a joke, of course; their mental connection makes it impossible to lie to one another.

"I like your concentration, determination, and focus," Felicity answers. "Your ability to block out the entire world—including the person in your head? Not so much." She motions to the targets in the back. "I was reading into your whole arrow obsession. According to the article I read, if you use a composite shaft, you'd penetrate better."

Unable to resist, he replies with a smirk, "I've never had any complaints about the way I penetrate."

In response, Felicity just smirks back, opening her mouth to say something. Whatever it is, Oliver doesn't get the chance to find out. "If Mom is coming, I guess I should dress accordingly for it," Thea interjects. "And you, too, Roy—I want you to meet my mom." The kid in question is staring at them with wide eyes, and she practically drags him out of the room.

When the door shuts behind them, it's only then that Felicity remarks, "You penetrate just fine. But I believe in constantly improving my own performance, and I need a partner who can keep up."

Oliver walks up to her, stopping just close enough so that he's staring down at her. Somehow their hands tangle together, feeling oddly familiar despite the novelty of their relationship. Felicity presses her lips to his for a brief moment before saying, "I know you skipped breakfast and you're probably starving, so I thought we could have lunch down here. Together."

"Good idea," he agrees. She turns to her tray, sitting on the table next to it. His eyes dip to her legs for a long moment, but when he puts his hands in his pockets, he remembers the souvenir he found on the floor. Holding them up by the chain, Oliver says, "You left these. I found them under the bed."

"Thanks," she answers with a smile, slipping the chain around her neck. "I thought I'd left them in my locker or something." As he takes a few bites of the apple on his plate, Felicity continues, "Remember this morning when I was talking about our ability to Drift?" Oliver nods as she explains around a mouthful of bread, "I'm not sure we know everything we think we do about Drifting."

She waves her fork in the air, somehow managing not to sling macaroni all over the place. "I mean, so far we've proven different, right?" It's a rhetorical question, but he nods anyway, trying his best to bite back a smile at her antics. "Men and women who aren't related aren't supposed to be able to Drift, but here we are. No one has ever been able to pull over ninety-six percent on a Drift, but we have." Taking a bite of macaroni and cheese, she concludes, "We've been selecting Drift partners for years based on similarity. I mean, you're going to be compatible with someone you've known your entire life. You've created a strong bond and learned how to get along despite your differences."

Taking a drink from the bottle of water, Felicity continues, "All this time, we've been focusing on Drift partners who are complementary on an emotional level because they've already bonded. But what if, instead, we focused on selecting Drift partners with limited bonds, but who are more effectively compatible in the long run?" She motions between them. "I mean, look at us, for example. We've already established that we shouldn't work. But we do—on a deeper level where our skills and experiences provide two halves of the same whole. You're physically stronger than I am, and my strength is my brain." She grins. "But we work anyway—and better than any set of Drift pilots to come before us."

"We're unique," Oliver summarizes.

Pointing her fork at him again, Felicity shakes her head. "That's the thing, Oliver," she replies, more thoughtful this time. "In my heart, I'd love to believe that. But in my head…" She frowns. "As a scientist, I've been taught to believe that there's no such thing as an isolated incident. Whether we want to believe it or not, when all other variables are held constant, the results of an experiment can be repeated over and over again. All over the world, by scientists throughout history. I don't think we're an isolated event. I think we're just the breakthrough on the way to a new discovery.

"We Drift differently. We defy all the rules." She frowns for a moment in thought before continuing, "Like when you were dating McKenna." Oliver winces, and Felicity rolls her eyes. "This isn't the ghosts-of-girlfriends-past interrogation. History has shown us that when two people Drift and one or both of them is in a healthy relationship, their Drift percentages improve. They're excited about it, and it makes them happy. More happy memories in the Drift equal a better alignment percentage."

"But we suffered because of it," Oliver points out.

Smiling as though he's proved her point, Felicity declares, "Exactly. I know it was partly my fault, but, to be fair, watching the person you're in love with love someone else is agony." Even though he already knows how she feels, the words bring a smile to Oliver's lips. "I think we've stumbled onto a different style of Drifting." She waves her hands. "It could be a rare subset of Drifting, even. I don't know. But since we react opposite of the way modern Drift science tells us we should, it gives us a predictable pattern that we can use for experimentation."

Even if he wasn't in her head, he would know precisely where Felicity wanted to go with this. As she pulls the brownie off his plate, he concludes for her, "And you want to run an experiment on us."

"I do," Felicity answers, though her words are unnecessary. "That's why I suggested to Diggle that we do a trial run." For the first time in the conversation, she seems to hesitate. "I can't make any promises, but we might still be able to Drift. That's why I want to test it." She rises from the desk. "We're scheduled for a trial run at two. But for right now, what I want to test is my own skill with a bow."

She picks up Oliver's bow, grabbing a few arrows before firing three shots. Her form is still a little shaky, but she still somehow manages to hit the bullseye almost every time. Though it's impressive for someone with so little experience, she frowns. Clearly almost perfect isn't good enough for Felicity. It's one of the things he likes about her.

Smiling, he moves away from the table, going to join her. As she aims for her fourth shot, Oliver catches the underside of her right wrist. In slow, careful motions, he draws his fingers to the line of her elbow, shifting it upward. His other hand goes to her waist, and he presses his lips to the curve where her neck meets her shoulder. "Elbow up," he suggests against her skin, before kissing it.

"Do you want me to take this shot or not?" she counters.

Before she can, the metal door creaks, and Oliver is halfway through wrapping his hands as if headed to the punching bag when it opens. The last thing he expects when the door opens is his mother in her typical pressed suit and pencil skirt, but yet she stands in the old weapons training facility, her expression neutral. To her credit, Felicity just fires her arrow as though nothing had happened, even if it's not as impressive as her usual groupings.

"There you are, Oliver," Moira says in a clipped tone. "Thea said I could find you here." Her eyes flick to Felicity. "I see the two of you are preparing for the next Kaiju attack."

He watches Felicity bite her lip and close her eyes for a moment before turning with a polished smile. Oliver understands; his mother has that effect on people. Placing her bow on the table, Felicity offers a slight nod before saying in a cordial tone, "It's good to see you again, Mrs. Queen."

"And you, Ms. Smoak," Moira replies, though hers sounds anything but sincere. "I understand you've designed two new Jaegers for us to use." Her eyebrows narrow slightly. "According to Marshal Diggle, they seem to be somewhat… radical."

Though there's no way she could have predicted this blatant attack on her designs, Felicity seems more than prepared to defend them. "After piloting a Jaeger myself, I've come to understand what's important and what isn't," she replies in an even tone. "We've seen what can happen with digital Jaegers, so we go nuclear and analog. We've seen that the pilots' fighting styles play into how they need to maneuver." Crossing her arms, Felicity concludes, "Designing cookie-cutter Jaegers isn't enough any more. I designed the Green Arrow after watching Oliver's previous pilot footage, and the results are much better than if you compare to Deathstroke or the Alpha Omega."

When she frowns, Oliver winces; the last thing this Shatterdome needs is an irritated Moira Queen and an adamant Felicity Smoak squaring off in the basement. His mother hasn't lost a business argument in all the years he's watched her do this, but he'd put money on Felicity winning this one. "While I understand your concerns, Ms. Smoak," she continues in a haughty tone, "these are ten-billion-dollar pieces of equipment. Our basic designs have been tested, and we know they will survive battle. I think we all remember what happened to Shadow Demon."

"What happened," Felicity cuts in, "is that two pilots who barely pulled an eighty-eight alignment fell apart when Malcolm Merlyn decided that the Glades weren't worth saving in the middle of a Kaiju battle." Oliver frowns; he forgot about that. Malcolm started Drifting with Robert and the incident was swept under the rug. But to someone who had been there for a Kaiju attack, he can understand why his partner never did. "My Jaegers don't fail because of conceptual design, Mrs. Queen. They fail because Drift partners fail."

Stepping in before it ends in a fistfight, Oliver interjects, "The Red Arrow is a Mark Five version of our Jaeger, Mom. If Thea and Roy pass the trial run, it will be their Jaeger. It's smaller and lighter than the Green Arrow, which will be better for them." Her eyes widen in surprise; apparently Speedy neglected to mention that. "And I have two pilots who will be perfect for Coyote Tango—light and fast, with plenty of firepower."

"The way we see the Drift is changing," Felicity finishes for him, "and we're changing with it."

Moira looks between the two Drift partners with calculating eyes. Whatever she sees there causes her to frown before turning to Oliver. "May I speak to you alone, please?" she asks in a sharp tone.

Somehow he refrains from rolling his eyes. "Mom, Felicity is my partner," he reminds her. "The next time we link, she's going to know what we've said." He cuts his eyes over to Felicity, offering her a tentative smile that she returns. "There are no secrets when you Drift with someone."

Felicity's hand rests on his arm. "That's not a good enough reason to disrespect someone's privacy," she disagrees with a smile. She gathers the two mostly empty trays of food in one hand, taking his with the other. "Remember we need to be ready for that test run in thirty minutes."

"I'll be there," Oliver promises. For better or worse, he'll be there.

She starts to walk away, but their hands stay linked for as long as possible. His eyes linger on her until the door shuts behind her, and only then does he turn his full attention to his mother. However, her expression is different, eyes widening before she schools her features again.

"While Felicity Smoak takes risks with our Jaegers that I don't approve of," Moira starts bluntly, "she's an excellent technician. One of our finest." She softens, ever so slightly. "I can see her influence on you these last few months. She's good for you." It's the last thing he expected from his mother; he can't find the words to speak. "Despite that, Oliver, you'll be throwing your career away. I hope you remember that before this progresses any further."

"I know what I stand to lose, Mom," he answers. "She's worth it."

He doesn't stay to wait for any questions. He doesn't try to argue. He doesn't try to convince her of the truth. Instead, Oliver picks up his black uniform shirt, pulling it on as he brushes past her for the door. Without another word, he leaves her standing in the range.

By the time he makes the long trek to their lockers in the Drivesuit room, Felicity is already slipping into her circuitry suit. For the first time since he's started Drifting, Oliver isn't nervous or concerned about what will happen. He's made his choice, and he won't regret it.

They're quiet as they slip into their suits, as the techs help them into their armor shells. The Drivesuits and the metal armor feel heavier than usual, but maybe they're weighted with the magnitude of the impending results. Even Cisco comments on their melancholy, but Felicity dismisses it with concern about going out of alignment again.

The weighted silence persists until they enter the cockpit. Before Felicity docks, she turns toward him. For a long moment, they don't say anything, but then she finally asks, "Are you sure about this, Oliver?"

After Drifting with someone, words are no longer necessary. Despite that, Oliver decides to communicate with her anyway. Dropping his helmet on the console, he walks up to her. Slowly he circles her waist with one hand, cupping her cheek with the other. Her eyes darken as she realizes his intent, but she doesn't rush it.

She waits.

Oliver presses his lips to hers, and he isn't gentle about it. This time there's no reverence or wonder behind it; it's all desperation and necessity. Despite that, she's ready for it, returning the kiss with just as much passion. Something crashes to the ground, and then both of her hands are on his face. Every brush of his lips against hers is a promise—a promise that, no matter what, she's always his first choice.

"Are you two ready to go?" Diggle asks through the comms. It causes them to break apart, and it's only after his eyes leave Felicity that he figures out what made the noise: Felicity's helmet is on the floor, on the other side of the cockpit.

"We're getting there," Felicity answers after punching on the comm. Her voice is high and breathless, a little fluttery around the edges, but she still manages to calm and collected despite that. "We just had some last-minute things to discuss."

"You can discuss them in the Drift," Diggle replies. "I need to see why two of the best Rangers to ever pilot a Jaeger can't stay in alignment with one another. Now step up and we can get started."

Oliver docks, watching Felicity as she does the same. "Are you ready for this?" he asks her in a low voice.

"For better or worse," she replies, echoing his thoughts from earlier. When he nods, she calls a little louder through the comm link, "Pilots Queen and Smoak on board and ready to connect." He grins at her, remembering how nervous they had been for their first trial run. Now there's nothing left to be concerned about. "Ready to initiate trial run."

"Tower control to Arrow," Digg replies, his tone almost bored now. They might just surprise him with this one. "Prepare for trial run. Commencing Drift protocols." To the nearest technician, he adds, "Mr. Seldon, initiate the neural handshake."

The plunge into the Drift doesn't feel any different than normal. Oliver always thought that the Drift would feel like foreign territory between two people who are unable to align, but in some ways it feels better than ever. It no longer feels like diving into cold water, and he can see more of Felicity's memories between his than ever. Tommy's death catches him for a moment, but not like it usually does.

When he emerges, he doesn't go out of alignment—for the very first time. He emerges in time to watch Felicity do the same, and they stare at each other. Her index and middle fingers on her right hand are crossed, and Oliver bites back a smile. He never pegged her as the superstitious type. Somehow it only makes her more endearing.

Flattery will get you everywhere, Felicity returns mentally, with a punctuating thought that feels like the equivalent of an eye roll. And I'm not superstitious, but I felt like we needed all the luck we could get. After a moment's hesitation, she adds, I'm still wearing my Star of David bracelet. Couldn't bear to take it off.

I wish I had something to believe in, he returns. My only faith is in you.

"Neural Drift initiated," Diggle tells them, though they already know that at this point. "You two are looking good today. Mr. Queen, you even managed to align properly today." Felicity smiles at him across the cockpit, the pride radiating off of her. He doesn't feel he deserves it, but he appreciates it nonetheless.

"Left and right hemispheres calibrated," Seldon reports, his tone dry with boredom. "Pilot-to-Jaeger connection is complete. Stand by for alignment percentages." There's a thumping sound. "This thing has been on the fritz all week, " he comments in a muffled voice to the Marshall. "Is there any way we can pay for an upgrade?"

"If you have an extra five million dollars lying around," Diggle replies with a hint of humor, "I'd be glad to get the equipment you need. Miss Smoak has wanted to upgrade this for the last two years." Louder, he calls, "Isn't that right, Felicity?"

"I'd pay you—" she starts.

At the same time, Oliver begins, "She'd pay you—"

They stop to stare at one another for a moment. While they've done this on several occasions before, it's never happened quite the same way. For some reason, Felicity's desire to respond also came out of his mouth as well. At this point, he can't really tell the difference between her thoughts and his; they're both equally as present in his head.

"What the hell?" Cisco mutters, and the comms pick him up. Oliver and Felicity freeze at once; this could be the dreaded result they're waiting for. All they can do is hope that Felicity's theory is correct.

I'm not infallible, she states, her mental voice grim with doubt.

"Told you," Cooper cuts in. "This equipment has been screwed up for the last week." There's a short pause. "It's been a mess for months, actually, but the alignment analysis has been crazy for the last week."

"What's going on?" the two pilots ask at once. They stare at each other before Felicity speaks again, and Oliver has to restrain himself from speaking over the top of her. "You should have that alignment by now." She sighs. "John, I told you I could fix this in less than two hours. Maybe I should scrap together some parts and we can try again—"

"There seems to be a problem with the alignment analysis," Diggle calls through the comm link, and Oliver can feel his heartbeat speed up with Felicity's. "Hold on just a minute, Arrow. We need to recalibrate and re-run the diagnostic."

It feels like an eternity, waiting. Felicity speaks incessantly about various subjects—her new designs, how much she hated interviewing with Brittany Snow, how she colors her hair—as a way to fill the time, but Oliver remains silent, his nerves making him mute.

"Holy shit," Cooper finally swears.

It isn't exactly the answer they want to hear. Oliver means to ask, but Felicity is faster. "Is that a good 'holy shit' or a bad 'holy shit'?" she demands, her voice turning to steel. Silence is her only answer. "That requires a simple answer, tower control. I need to know—"

"No way in hell is that right," Cisco chimes in over the top of her. Felicity actually growls under her breath.

"I ran it three times, Ramon," Cooper replies in a sharp tone. "It's right. I've never had one do that and, theoretically, it should be impossible, but I switched it out with Bay Five to check. They have newer equipment. Same alignment."

"Call it," Diggle orders in a solemn voice.

There's a long pause that feels like it lasts hours, but then, finally, Seldon says in almost a whisper, "Calibration complete. Alignment percentage one hundred even." There's a pause before he mutters, "Which is impossible."

Oliver can't find the words to speak, but Felicity crows—a glorious sound to his ears. "I told you," she says to him. "I told you about this. Didn't I say that what happened would help our alignment instead of hurting it?" She laughs. "We're a new kind of Drift-compatible. Most can link because of familiarity, but we link because of a deeper connection." Her mind is already rolling through all sorts of research. "I'm going to get published again. I can feel it."

"What did you do that could hurt your alignment?" Diggle asks them.

Though she doesn't speak, Felicity's mind proceeds to answer with flashbacks to last night. Some of them are innocent, but most of them aren't. Either way, it's all laid out in vivid technicolor.

"Felicity," Oliver growls in a low warning. The last thing he needs right now is a reminder; it tempts him to do all those things again, though with less of a hurry this time. You're not making this easy for me, he adds in his head.

When did I make that promise? she replies with a cheeky grin across her face.

"That wasn't a rhetorical question, Miss Smoak, Mr. Queen," Diggle reminds them, sounding less amused by the moment. "If you two did anything to jeopardize your ability to Drift and this is temporary, you are not going to like the consequences."

"There's nothing temporary about this," Oliver answers, staring at Felicity. Slowly she smiles, eyes going wide with surprise. I love you, too, she answers with a hint of amusement. For a moment, all they can do is stare at each other, but then Diggle clears his throat.

Felicity takes a deep breath in preparation. "Oliver and I…" She trails off. "We're a thing. Together, I mean. We're partners—in very not-platonic circumstances." She flounders with her right hand. "We're romantic partners."

There's a long pause before Diggle finally answers, "I can't argue with these results. If either one of you hurts the other, you'll answer to me." Oliver smiles to himself, despite the Marshal's words. It's the sentiment behind them. "In the meantime, just let me know when you want to file for joint quarters."

Neither of them answer, instead allowing the techs to disconnect them. They exit the cockpit and Oliver takes Felicity's hand as they walk through the upper level of the hangar. "We did the impossible today," she remarks to him, slipping off her gloves to reveal the pink nail polish underneath. She takes his hand again immediately, and he kisses her temple. "Still want to Drift with me, Mr. Queen?"

In a promise, he answers, "I'd go into the Breach with you any day, Miss Smoak."


"Strange Love" - Halsey
"Beautiful Times" - Owl City feat. Lindsey Stirling
"Heaven in this Hell" - Orianthi
"In the End" - Black Veil Brides
"Famous Last Words" - My Chemical Romance
"Centuries" - Fall Out Boy

My regulars—the crazy people who read anything and everything I write (YOU GUYS ROCK)—will probably be wondering when and what I'll be posting next. The truth is... I don't know. Some friends and I are doing a Halloween fic exchange thing. I have something going there and depending on the speed I finish it, my next post might be around Halloween. If I have something between now and then, it'll be next Friday, barring any other internet issues.