Felicity can't really say she's surprised when Oliver disappears after Tommy's funeral. She even knows where he went, running away to that island off China's coast. Damning himself to Purgatory of his own volition this time, punishing himself for missing the second explosive device and failing to save his best friend.
The Foundry was... empty these days. Without Oliver, there was no reason for Dig to show up. No reason for Felicity to show up either, but she did anyway. Wandered about like a ghost, not quite able to bring herself to touch anything.
There'd been a time that she'd thought that, well, there might have been something between herself and Oliver. Their mutual attraction had been obvious, but that hadn't necessarily meant anything would come of it. There'd still been some lingering feelings for Laurel holding Oliver back, after all, and Felicity hadn't been able to bring herself to feel jealous about that. Laurel was amazing, after all. Beautiful, brave, brash... Laurel Lance was the kind of woman who would take on the world and win. There was something undeniably attractive about her... even Felicity had felt it.
But Laurel... seemed like a shell of her usual self these days and Felicity wasn't sure she knew the other woman well enough to do anything to help her.
Maybe it'd be best to try to talk Dig into helping her go drag Oliver back to civilization. Oliver would know what to say to Laurel. He'd know what to do about Queen Consolidated and Thea and Moira...
Except... if he'd known what to do, then would he have run away?
Felicity sighed and shut down all the computers and lights and walked out of the Foundry. She couldn't wait around like a damsel in distress, waiting for the handsome hero to save the day.
She was going to have to start saving people herself.
"Hi, I know we don't know each other very well, but I'm Felicity Smoak," she introduced herself, holding out a hand to offer a handshake.
Laurel stared at Felicity blankly, her eyes having just that slight hint of bloodshot to them to hint that Laurel had already done a great deal of drinking that evening, before Felicity showed up.
"Oliver's cute tech friend," Laurel finally said. "Right. What brings you to my apartment?"
"I'm... probably overstepping," Felicity admitted. "But I thought that, with Oliver having, uh, gone and... well, I thought maybe you could use a friend. Because I know I could use one. If you're interested."
"I'm not really up for going out, but... if you're interested in a glass of wine and a movie... then I suppose I could use a friend," Laurel admitted, stepping aside to let Felicity into the apartment.
"Sure. I'll watch anything," Felicity added with a cheerful grin. While she didn't want to encourage too much drinking, it wouldn't hurt to have a glass with her now. She could work on subtly encouraging a little more sobriety later when she wouldn't come off as a preachy stranger.
Felicity watched as Laurel shut the door and led her to the kitchen to pour her a large glass of wine. She could tell from the label that Laurel had good taste. And also that Felicity had just gotten the last of the bottle.
Felicity starts meeting up with Laurel regularly for lunch and becomes the other woman's sounding board for her next career move. In turn, Laurel listens to Felicity's concerns about what's going on at her work place. Walter has refused to come back and become the new CEO and with Oliver gone it fell to the board to appoint a new one. Moira hadn't been in charge for long and there was no telling what the next direction for the company would be.
Turned out Felicity was more worried about whether she should be dusting off her resume than she'd realized.
"Really, the DA's office? I thought you liked fighting for the underdog?" Felicity asked, frowning after Laurel admitted the last of the places she'd submitted her resume.
"Well, I do, but... maybe if the Hood had been caught, then Tommy..." Laurel swallowed hard and looked away.
Felicity could tell, though, that however much Laurel might blame the Hood for not saving Tommy... she blamed herself for Tommy even being there more.
"Malcolm Merlyn is the one at fault," Felicity said firmly. "And he, at least, died for what he did."
"Yeah. But I..." Laurel's voice cracked and she looked away. "He... Tommy... he broke up with me before he... he thought I was still in love with Oliver or had feelings for the Hood... and I did. But I loved him more. And he... he was only there because of me."
Felicity took Laurel's hand in hers.
"Malcolm Merlyn," she repeated, "is at fault. Not you. Not Tommy. Not even the Hood. And you're not alone, Laurel. You've got me now."
Laurel gripped Felicity's hand, like she was the only thing keeping her from floating off and drowning in a storm that existed inside her own head.
Felicity met Laurel and Thea at Verdant, which Thea had taken over in Oliver's absence. It was doing quite well and Thea, presumably, hadn't discovered the Foundry underneath yet.
"Hey, so, you're Felicity, right? Oliver's... girlfriend?" Thea guessed, after Laurel introduced them.
"Oh, no, we were never dating," Felicity said quickly. "I mean, I guess there was an attraction there but neither of us were willing to put the effort into figuring out if it'd go anywhere."
Thea nodded slowly, looking surprised. "I didn't realize Oliver knew how to be friends with a woman without dating her first," she said.
"To be honest, I was a little surprised too. But it was fun spending time with him and Dig. But since he left, Dig and I have kind of..." fallen apart. Felicity sighed. "Dig's trying to pretend he's okay and not pissed off Oliver ran off without a word."
"Him and the rest of us," Thea sighed, rolling her eyes. "My brother, the idiot. Sorry."
"I might have a good guess at where he's gone," Felicity admitted.
"The island," Laurel said, voice barely audible over the music. "That's my guess, anyway. Life in the city stopped making sense, so he retreated to the last place life made sense for him. The island."
Felicity nodded. "Also my guess." And then cheerfully stole Laurel's drink and laughed when Laurel stuck her tongue out at her... but didn't order a new drink.
Thea looked between the two of them with a raised eyebrow, but waited until Laurel went to visit the bathroom to ask, "so when did you and Laurel get close?"
"I sort of barged in on her apartment, hoping she needed a new friend as much as I did. And, well... I noticed she's been drinking a lot."
"So have I," Thea added. "Though given my own adventures in drinking last year, I don't know that I really have the right to talk to her about it." She twirled her coke can on the bar top. "When Oliver came back, I got to have Laurel back in my life too. She's always been like a sister to me and... I've lost Tommy and Oliver and I'm afraid of losing her too. But she's started... smiling for real again, since you started spending time with her. So thank you, Felicity."
"She's special." Felicity finished the last of the Long Island Iced Tea she'd nicked from Laurel and then ordered two waters - for herself and for Laurel. "I just want her to feel that way, I guess."
"Well, I think you're pretty special too," Thea declared. "We're keeping you, I hope you realize that."
"Of course we're keeping her," Laurel agreed, slinging an arm around Felicity's shoulders and accepting the water. Though she only took one long drink - Felicity felt herself flush, unable to look away from Laurel's throat as she swallowed - and then said, "come dance with me, Felicity. Watch our drinks, Thea? I'm dancing with you next."
"Of course. Go have fun," Thea encouraged, winking at Felicity.
It felt a little like getting permission for something. Felicity tried not to consider permission for what, though, as she let Laurel draw her out onto the dance floor.
Felicity knocked on Laurel's door, fist pounding loudly. Laurel had been late for lunch and then hadn't answered the phone when Felicity called.
So Felicity was worried
She waited, impatiently, and then moved to loudly knock again when the door opened to reveal Laurel, standing there with blotchy cheeks and red eyes. Laurel sniffled and they both stared at each for a long minute. Then Laurel was launching herself into Felicity's arms.
"Oh, sweetie," Felicity murmured, wrapping her arms around Laurel tightly. Then she led the way back into the apartment, kicking the door shut behind her. "Oh, Laurel, sweetheart. What happened?"
"I-I got contacted by CNRI's leadership. They're planning on... on reforming. They've gotten enough new funding to rent a new location and recovered the majority of the client documentation from the old building and... they're restarting. They want to know if I'd be willing to take my old job back." Laurel sobbed. "How can I? I got Tommy killed because I worked there. How could I got back?"
Felicity tightened her grip. "I barely knew Tommy, but I know he was so proud of the work you did there. He didn't die because of you, Laurel. I know you feel that way. I know... my boyfriend in college... he and I were hackers together. I was full on goth, you wouldn't believe how different I looked. But we hacked something we shouldn't have and the FBI took him away. I tried to come forward but he'd claimed sole accountability for everything. The hack we pulled together and virus I wrote that let us do it. And then... he killed himself in custody."
"Oh my god," Laurel breathed. "I'm so sorry." She snuffled and now Laurel was holding Felicity tightly while Felicity sniffled too.
"It still hurts so much," Felicity admitted. "It'll probably always hurt. And I blame myself. So I know what that guilt you're feeling is like. And I need you to promise it won't take over your life or fester inside until it poisons you. Because you're an amazing person, Laurel. The world would be a lesser place if you lost that spark of yours. I don't want to lose someone else I care about."
"It's so hard some days," Laurel admitted softly, face buried against Felicity's neck and sending sparks up Felicity's spine with every puff of breath.
"You've got me," Felicity reminded her. "Lean on me when you need to."
"Thank you," Laurel murmured, relaxing in Felicity's arms.