A/N: Expanded Oliver POV from 2.2, Identity.

Oliver: "If you ever need to tell someone about your day, you can tell me." (Salvation – 1.18)

Coffee Break

"You need a ride?" Diggle asks.

I ruefully smile and shake my head. "Turns out, being CEO, I actually have some work to do. I'll find my own way."

He nods. "You always do."

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the news story shifting from the Triad arrests to my absence at the benefit tonight. They show my picture, the one I really hate with the cocky smirk and raised eyebrow. Given that the media is slamming me again, I'm even more grateful for Digg's faith in me, in our mission, even if I don't deserve it. Felicity has every right to be angry with all the various versions of me because everywhere I turn, I'm failing.

Earlier tonight, Digg said it's strange that I speak of myself in the third person, but I don't know how else to keep all my lives from spilling over into each other. I try not to think too much about before. I look back at the boy I once was, and I am both ashamed of him and envious. That Oliver was selfish and destructive, but he didn't mean to be. He didn't even realize this own shortcomings. He took everything for granted, love and family and privilege, because he simply didn't know any different.

The Oliver on the island was so scared and angry, but he was grateful too. For every little thing. He learned to savor food and the warmth of a fire and find peace in the exhaustion at the end of a hard day. He learned how to love, truly love, and care about someone more than himself. And that Oliver also learned how to be strong and protect the people he cared about. He washed the blood from his hands and learned how to sleep at night after he killed.

That's what Digg and Felicity can't understand. That's why I went back to that place I was so desperate to leave for five long years. I wanted the simplicity of the Oliver on the island. I wanted to be that Oliver again. To only think about where the next meal would come from, the next drink. To only know the sound of his own breath and the endless cries of the birds and crash of the waves. To not have to worry about anyone else. Because that Oliver doesn't have to think about people or their feelings or all the ways he's failed. He just has to survive the next minute, the next hour. He has to keep going until nightfall, until sunrise.

But they found me and dragged me back, and now I'm here again. I'm Oliver Queen, CEO. I'm Oliver Queen, absentee club owner. I'm Oliver Queen, billionaire playboy and son of disgraced murderer and brother of underage girl who's in love with a boy with a death wish. What no one seems to understand is that I look out my office window at Starling City's skyline, and all I can see are the ways I failed. I failed Tommy and Laurel and my father. I failed the Glades and the people I swore I'd protect. I failed my city.

The only peace I know is when my face is hidden beneath my hood and I have a taut bow string waiting to be released in my hands. That moment is my only clarity. Except now the mission is more complicated because the Vigilante isn't killing, but he's fighting enemies on all fronts. It's not just the Triad and paid assassins trying to kill him. He's hunted by the police and District Attorney, too. He's copied by angry men who only feel rage and want revenge. The Vigilante has failed this city just as Oliver Queen has. Just as Oli has failed Laurel and Thea, who can't ever know the truth. Just as whoever I really am failed to see Digg is heartbroken. And then he fled because we were approaching Hug Territory. We've saved each other more times than I can count. We spar and train and share the parts of our lives that matter most, but no, we don't hug. Only Oli, the fuck-up who's forever letting people down, gets to hug. All the other versions of me are hard and aloof and alone.

I lean back in my chair, the lights of the city glittering like stars close enough to touch. My leg still burns from the bullet hole even though I did a nice job sewing it up, another lesson that Oliver had to learn the hard way on the island. It's clean and infection-free, but it's throbbing like a bitch. The gouges on my arm and side from those damn claws probably should've been stitched too, but I didn't want to ask Digg or Felicity for help. I'm pretty sure the butterflies will hold, so long as the Vigilante doesn't have to fly through any windows for the next couple of days.

Felicity's heels click on the floor, and I stop myself from looking up at her even though I want to. I need to. But I don't want to see the accusations in her eyes, even if they're true. I can't right now. I just... I need her. I see her blue nails first, and it's funny but they almost match the mug she sets on my desk.

I chance a look, and she smiles at me and gives a little shrug.

"One," she says before winking and turning back towards her office.

"Felicity, wait."

She stops walking but doesn't turn around.

"Thank you," I say.

She looks back at me and formally nods. "You're welcome, Mr. Queen."

"Join me, Ms. Smoak?" I ask with a grin. I stand up and hold out my chair for her. She looks between me and the chair for a second, trying to decide if I'm serious, before crossing the room and settling in behind my desk. "Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

She laughs while I pull up a second chair and sit across from her. I reach for the mug and nearly spit when I taste it.

"This," I point out, "is not coffee."

She shakes her head. "Bedtime Blend herbal tea. No wonder you can't sleep if you drink coffee this late at night." I take another sip, prepared for what I'm drinking this time. While the mug is at my lips, she blurts out, "I'm glad you and Digg worked things out, and I am aware that I brought you a hot beverage, which is not coffee because I wasn't kidding when I said I broke your coffee maker. I really did. And it was nice of you to give me your chair and all, but I'm still mad at you."

"Felicity," I say with a sigh, cradling the warm mug in my hands. "I tripled your salary."

"It's not the money, Oliver." She sighs in exasperation. "Money doesn't fix everything."

"Alderman Blood said the same thing," I quietly point out.

"Well, I think he's a big jerk, but just this once we agree on something. And the fact that you don't understand why I'm upset makes me really mad."

I know she's a genius, an honest-to-goodness genius, who could probably conquer the world if she were so inclined. Just like Diggle's insanely over-qualified to drive my car but I take comfort in the fact that no one questions his presence where ever I go, I know her enormous brain isn't being fully utilized in the IT Department, let alone working as my assistant. But I don't get how she's bristling with offense and doesn't understand why I need to have her close to me.

"Those gunmen proved how easy it is to get past security," I tell her, looking out at the city instead of at her. "I can't have you on another floor, far away from me and Digg, if something happens."

"Did it ever occur to you that no one ever storms the IT Department with machine guns?"

"I need to know you're safe, and I don't know how else to accomplish that unless you're with me. And this Oliver, CEO Oliver, is surrounded by sycophants and hacks and thieves. Enemies scrutinize his every move, waiting to pounce on mistakes. He can't give them an easy target, and having a woman, even a genius woman from the IT Department, with him all the time is a target."

"Digg's right, you know. It's creepy how you talk about yourself this way, like you're not you."

"Felicity," I begin.

"No, it's your turn to listen." My head snaps over at the tone in her voice. Despite the hostility, she's leaned back in my chair as if she belongs behind my desk, her legs tucked underneath her. "Anyone who looks at Digg's arm will immediately understand why he's your driver and body-man. It makes sense to have him around all the time because your mom." She falters.

"Was involved in the development of a device that leveled part of the city and killed hundreds of innocent people, including my best friend," I finish for her.

"Well. Yes. That." She clears her throat. "So it makes sense for you to have Diggle's enormous biceps nearby. But do you know what people will assume when they see me up here in your office and in your car and in all your meetings and following you around with cups of coffee?"

"That you take good care of me?" I suggest because it's true, but Felicity only glares.

"Oh, they'll think I take good care of something." She huffs. "All anyone has to do is Google me and see where I graduated from. It doesn't take much to put two and two together, and they'll assume I'm providing you with." She blushes and clears her throat. "Your cover story is that you're a billionaire CEO, which isn't exactly a hardship. My new cover story is that I'm your whore."


"Your over-qualified whore who graduated the top of her class from MIT, I might add. Which isn't to say I don't have skills in other extracurricular departments because I do. Skills you can't even imagine, mister. Skills that would knock your socks off if I ever actually." She closes her eyes. "I'm going to stop talking about my considerable bedroom skills. But I am not a floozy."

"Of course you aren't," I quickly agree. "Felicity, I didn't think..."

"Obviously," she snaps. "Because you're you! You sleep around and people think you're a stud. Have you ever thought about the women you've used and thrown aside?" I don't answer. "That's the problem. You don't think about other people. Me and Digg are trying to help you, and you make it really hard most of the time."

"Felicity, I promise I didn't promote you to be insulting. I did it because I need someone I can trust."

She swallows. "You can't expect to say one nice thing and have me just forgive you every time you're a selfish jerk."

"But is it a start?" I quietly ask. Before she can respond, my cell phone vibrates against my desk.

"Laurel," Felicity says even though we're both looking at her name on my screen.

We sit in uncomfortable silence until my phone shows a voicemail alert.

"She wants to know where you were tonight," Felicity finally says.

"She's mad at Oli for sleeping with her," I whisper. "Because Tommy died thinking Laurel didn't love him. She's mad at Oliver Queen because he made a promise tonight he didn't keep, and she can't know why. And she's mad at the Vigilante too. She used to trust him. Admire him. But now she hates him."

"You slept with her?" Felicity squeaks.

I shrug, reaching for my phone. "She said it was a mistake."

"I get it," Felicity says, leaning over the desk and snatching up the phone before I can get it. "You needed something to hold onto those five years you were alone, and you chose her. She was your anchor while you were away. And, of course, it doesn't hurt that she's unbelievably beautiful and smart and brave and talented and she can beat people up and you feel guilty about Sarah and Tommy and."

"Get to your point, Felicity," I growl at her.

"Okay. Here it is, my point: the mistake is thinking you can change her mind about you," Felicity gently says.

"Maybe I can't change her mind about me. But the Vigilante..."

"Needs to stay away from her," she interrupts. "She's a distraction, Oliver. An obsession. She thinks the Vigilante is a criminal, and she's going to get you hurt or caught or killed."

"Give me my phone."

"No," she says, standing up. "As your executive assistant, I need to keep your phone tonight for upgrades." She starts to walk towards her office, but I'm out of my chair in a flash, pressing her against the wall of windows, trapping her between my arms.

"My phone," I say again, my mouth nearly touching hers.

She swallows and narrows her eyes. "Fine. Take it." She holds it up and I grab it before she changes her mind, slipping it into my pocket. "But you said you trust me. Did you mean that, or were you just saying it because you need me on your side? Because if you really do trust me, you'll believe me when I tell you you're making a mistake if you contact her tonight."

"I need her to realize that some part of me hasn't let her down," I say.

"No," Felicity says. "You need to move so I don't have to watch you do something incredibly stupid."

I take a step back, but I can't look as her heels once again click across my floor, this time moving away from me. Coffee break is over. It's time to suit up.