She was halfway to her townhouse when the panic set in - that cold, gnawing in her gut that had shaken her awake every night since he’d left. Their conversation in the alley still echoed heavily in her head, her heart aching with the words she’d spoken, but that she knew needed to be said. He wasn’t thinking. What he was thinking about was reckless and dangerous and she couldn’t stand by and watch him do it without saying something.
But now alone, her thoughts turned back to the events of the day. She’d woken up to another day of him being gone, but now...now he wasn’t. She’d felt his heartbeat beneath her ear, his warm breath on her neck as she’d held on to him, never wanting to let go. The memory of his fingers running over the back of her neck sent shivers down her spine and her breath caught in her throat. Suddenly, she couldn’t breath. The idea that it was all a dream invading her thoughts until the panic in her breast was almost too much to contain.
Without hesitation, she made a sharp u-turn at the next light, her palms beginning to sweat as her heart thudded in her chest.
The closer she got to the Foundry, the tighter the knots in her stomach became. As she pulled the car into the back lot and parked, she could barely force air into her lung, her breaths becoming shorter and shorter.
Oliver. He was alive. Or he had been. He’d been there. In front of her. She’d touched him...felt the heat of his chest beneath her palms as he held her close.
But she’d had dreams like that too. Every night. Every single night.
What if this was all just a dream.
Tears welled up in her eyes, and she blinked them away, pressing her trembling hands against her temples and trying to force herself to take deep, long breaths.
A sob slipped past her lips but she shook her head resolutely, trying to dam up the walls that had begun their slow leak the moment she’d seen him appear on the video feeds during the battle in the Glades.
He’d been here. He had. She hadn’t dreamed that...she hadn’t.
Her heart ached at the thought, sharp pain slicing through her and she knew she needed to know; she needed to make sure he had really come back. That his heart still beat in his chest.
Throwing open her car door, she almost ran to the back entrance, typing in the code and waiting until the door latched behind her before she slowly headed for the stairs.
A faint light emanated from the middle of the Foundry and Felicity frowned, her heart pounding in her ears as she took each step slowly.
When she got to the bottom, her eyes flew over the dimly lit space, trailing over her computers which were just as she left them, and then to the case that held his suit. Nothing looked any different than it had for weeks.
Her heart began to plummet...had it been a dream? Was this all in her head?
Slowly, she walked forwards, heels making soft clacks on the concrete floor. Her hands curled into the strap of her purse, tears stinging at her eyes.
Reaching her chair, she slung her purse over the edge as her knees threatened to give out, the memory of his warm flesh beneath her fingers still too real.
She let her head fall back, willing the tears to stay at bay, blinking a few times before lowering it again.
That’s when she saw it. The slight movement across the room; her eyes zeroed in on it and a choked noise left her throat.
She didn’t recognize her own voice, but her feet carried her around her desk, shaking fingers covering her mouth in relief.
Slowly, she approached him, the soft snores letting her know that he was fast asleep. When he reached the side of the bed - the bed that she’d bought for him - she stretched out trembling fingers, her heart in her throat.
She wasn’t sure if she expected him to disappear before her eyes or not, but when her fingers actually made contact with the warm flesh of his chest, she let out a gasp, pressing her one hand further over her mouth.
Had she been thinking more clearly, she would have thought twice about touching a still sleeping Oliver, but she was so focused on making sure he was truly alive, that the thought didn’t cross her mind until he stirred beneath her.
Blue eyes snapped open, muscles tensing beneath her fingertips until his gaze focused on her.
“Felicity?” his voice rough with sleep woke something deep within her, breaking that last wall.
Tears streamed down her face, her legs giving out as she sank onto the edge of the bed next to him.
Her black-painted fingernails stark against his tanned skin as her eyes flicked over his scars until she found the bandage covering his newest one. Letting out a long breath, she reached out, her fingers hesitantly fluttering along it's edges.
Over the thudding of her heart in her ears, she heard his sharp inhale and her eyes flew to his once more.
It was somewhere between a question and a statement, her voice sounding foreign to her own ears.
Calloused fingers covered her own where it rested on his chest, fingers pressing into hers, entrapping them in his warmth as he nodded. He stared at her with such honesty and concern, it was too much. In the dimly lit room, his emotions had never been brighter. He let her see it all, and everything she’d been holding back from the moment Merlyn had told them he was gone slammed into her.
The wave crested over the ruins of the last of her walls, and a full, body wracking sob tore from deep in her chest. She crumpled forward, her forehead coming to rest against their laced hands.
Her body shook, and distantly, she felt his other arm come up and band around her waist, holding her solidly to him.
All of her grief and fear, her anger and sadness and hopelessness poured out of her. The terror of losing him almost too much for her to bear, and that same fear began to bubble up. This wouldn’t be the first time this would happen.
And next time...next time it might be worse. Could she stand that? Could she do this over again?
Her free hand scrabbled for purchase against his skin, careful of his still healing wound, and she finally distantly heard his voice in her ear.
“Shhh,” he whispered into her hair, “I”m here. It’s okay.”
“But it wasn’t,” she croaked, “You were dead. It wasn’t okay and I….”
His arm pulled her closer, shifting her until her body was parallel to his on the small bed.
“Hey..breathe,” he murmured, his own voice hoarse, and she knew if she looked up, he’d have tears in his own eyes. “Take a deep breath.”
LIstening to his soft voice, she tried to follow his directions, turning her head so her ear was pressed up against their joined hands, his heart beat thrumming through them into her.
Proof of his life. His heartbeat.
In and out. Thump-thump. In and out. Thump-thump.
After a few minutes, her sobs had finally subsided and she felt him turn them, so they were both on their sides facing each other.
The arm that had been bracketed around her waist lifted, ghosting across her cheek and pressing strands of her hair that were stuck to her face behind her ear.
Warm lips ghosted across her temple and she let out a shaky breath, burrowing closer into his chest, wanting to stay in this moment, wrapped in his arms, his heartbeat loud and clear in her ear, no threats to face.
“I’m sorry,” he finally stated so softly, she almost didn’t catch it.
For the first time since she’d let herself breakdown, she lifted her head to look up at him.
His hand cupped her cheek, wiping away her tears, his fingers gliding under her glasses effortlessly to catch the new ones still falling.
“I’m so sorry, Felicity,” he breathed. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I thought...I shouldn’t have left. I should have stayed with you.”
Her brow furrowed, wondering what he was trying to say with his words. “You mean…”
“When I was recovering…” he swallowed, his eyes trailing over her face, “I dreamt of you.”
A breath fell from her lips, a sharp exhale of wonder and hope and apprehension all mixed together.
“I dreamt of staying. I dreamt of staying...with you,” he said earnestly, his eyes locking with hers, conveying everything he couldn’t find the words to say.
“I love you,” he whispered. “It’s the one thing I know more than anything. I love you, Felicity Smoak.”
Her eyes fluttered closed, and she swallowed, letting the words wash over her as she fought the demons in her own mind that pushed her to run. Her flight instinct was kicking in as she recalled the days and nights that followed the news of his “death.” The absolute agony her heart had gone through. Her grief was almost unbearable. She hadn’t slept for days until her body finally gave out and she entered a dreamless sleep. He’d left a hole in her that she didn’t know how to fill - knew that no one else would be able to fill.
And she was scared. Scared of having to do that again. Of losing him...again.
“I can’t…” and she heard him tense, his pulse quicken, and her eyes popped open to see the fear and disappointment on his face.
“I can’t lose you again,” she finished, watching as his brow furrowed and then understanding dawned.
“I...I’ve lost so many people I’ve loved,” she explained brokenly, “But none of them were like that...I’ve never felt like that...Losing you was...unbearable.”
He crushed her to him, his whole body wrapping around her as he tucked her beneath her chin and pressed a fierce kiss into her hair. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know…” she replied, swallowing. “I know…”
Her free hand, slid from his side to his back, her fingers trailing up his back, over the puckered and scarred flesh and pressing him closer if that was possible.
“I meant what I said earlier. I can’t...I can’t be a woman you love if you won’t fight for us,” her voice broke, voice wobbling, “I need to know...I need to know you aren’t going to leave me,” she whispered against his skin. “I need to know that you’re going to choose…”
“I choose you, Felicity,” he cut her off, pulling back so he could look her in the eyes. “I choose you. I’ll choose you.”
Tears filled her vision, blurring his face as he pressed up into him, crashing her lips to his. He tensed momentarily before melting into her, his lips moving over her as she opened to him, letting him deepen the kiss. Her heart soared, the feel of his lips just as she remembered only better. It was home.
His tongue wrapped around hers and she moaned softly as they finally pulled back, their mouths hovering together for minutes as they both breathed the same air.
Lifting her hand from his back, she laid it over his cheek, her fingers running across his slightly longer stubble.
The words were pushing at the back of her throat, fluttering from her heart, and she knew she couldn’t keep them inside any longer.
“I love you,” she told him, strong and sure.
He stilled, his eyes locking with hers and holding them captive as he searched before his face broke out into a smile that she swore could light up a room.
And then the breath rushed out of him, and his mouth was pressed against her once more. She leaned up into him, and when his tongue swiped along her lower lip, she opened to him, tangling his tongue with her own and sighing in contentment.
She thought she’d never get to do this again, never get to feel this amazing feeling of completion that she found in Oliver’s arms and his his kisses.
When they pulled apart, his lips ghosted over her nose and then her forehead as she snuggled closer to him, pressing a heated kiss to his jaw and then his neck before burrowing her head beneath his chin.
He shuddered, a growl working it’s way up from his throat and she smiled when one of his legs tangled with hers.
For the first time in weeks, she felt sleep pulling at her and she wasn’t afraid. Instead, she felt safe and content as she drifted to sleep with Oliver’s heartbeat in her ear, limbs tangled together, holding on to each other.