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the myths of modern romance

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Felicity stands in front of her suitcase and wonders what to pack.

Because she’s going to travel 600 miles. For a date. With a guy. Like a real one.

Not that he’s just some guy; he’s Barry Allen, the guy who knows secrets about her she normally doesn’t tell on the first date. The guy who’d come into her life kind of right when she needed him and reminded her that not all guys are brooding and vigilante-y and going to sleep with Isabel Rochev and break her heart.  Ahem.

She hadn’t realized there were still guys out there (well, a guy) who could make her feel like a princess. And honestly, just thinking about why she’s packing this bag has her blushing and smiling into the white circle skirt she has in her hands. It’s ridiculous; she hasn’t gotten these many butterflies since her first date in highschool.

And also she can’t decide what to wear, but that’s partially his fault because he refuses to tell her whether they’re going to see a movie or out to eat or bowling or whatever, so her suitcase is filled literally to the brim with her favorite outfits, despite the fact she’s only staying in Central City for a day or two. At the Central City Grand Resort and Hotel. She wonders if the date’s going to end in her room there.

Because if so she may need to re-evaluate her packing priorities. Ugh this is so much harder than she’d thought it would be.

And maybe she’s so nervous because she feels like she knows Barry so well but also knows nothing about him at all. Like she knows him well enough to know he’s probably not going to stand her up, and that he’s not the type of guy to ask her on a date just for sex. But is he going to want sex? Is he eventhinking about it? She can’t picture him thinking about it.

Or maybe she can. She doesn’t know.

How is it she knows his opinions on solar technology like the back of her hand but can’t figure out the basic first date question of whether or not he’s expecting anything more than just a date from her?

It’s not like she can text him and ask, right? She picks up her phone. She can’t text him and ask.

But he has texted her. This stupid game of thrones meme and it shouldn’t be as funny as it is but he has this sense of humor that just understands her. He just understands her. Maybe he’s having the same worries right now. Probably not.

Barry’s changed like 15 times at this point. And he’s not totally sure why because it’s not like Felicity’s really going to care. At least, he thinks she’s not going to care. But, you know, it’s not like they’ve really talked clothing options that much.

Mostly they’ve talked about Arrow stuff. And green technology. And television shows. Lots of television shows. And he knows who her favorite tumblr mythology poets are but he’s not quite sure whether or not she’d prefer this outfit with or without the grey blazer. Or whether or not she’d have him wear a suit, because this restaurant is nice and sit down and everything, it’s just not like… 5 stars.

Screw it, he’s wearing the suit, because this is Felicity Smoak and he’s going to impress her, be on time and everything and… shit he’s running a little late.

He’s not technically late yet, but he’d been hoping to be dressed by now so he could get to the restaurant early with flowers or a book or something. At this point it’s a choice between being on time and getting the flowers and he knows he promised he’d be on time but he really wants to impress her.

He really wants to think he’s actually decent competition for Oliver Queen, even when he knows he’s probably not. Even so… Felicity  did just travel 600 miles to be here tonight, and, as Iris had reminded him, girls don’t just travel hundreds of miles to see someone they don’t like.

But the idea that Felicity might actually like him, like like like him, that just blows him away. And… he’s sounding like the way he would talk about his crush on Iris to his friends in middle school. What is it about Felicity that gives him butterflies like this? What is it about her that makes him want to be on time and with those white flowers he’d seen at the store across from the restaurant the other day, and maybe a book of poetry too.

And his hair’s sticking up more than usual but he doesn’t really have time to fix it so he just sprints out of his apartment with his wallet and his jacket and he knows his tie is crooked and his hair isn’t great but that’s not really what matters: what matters is he promised he’d be on time.

And he really doesn’t want to break a promise to Felicity.

Except he almost does, because by the time he gets to the restaurant, she’s standing outside on her phone waiting for him and he’s a minute and a half late. But he has orchids. And they match her dress. And he kind of feels proud of that.

She ends up choosing the white dress with the black trim and asymmetrical hem that is short but not too short because it’s not like she’s expecting anything. And she spends about half an hour trying to decide whether or not to curl her hair, because she had it straight when they danced and maybe she wants to know whether or not he likes it when it’s curly.

And then the makeup – the makeup had taken forever. But she ended up with a lighter lip color than usual because… well… she didn’t really know. The coral color just looked good like this.

But of course it had to be snowing outside so she had to hide the whole thing with a black coat with leather detailing – not full leather, because she’s not really the kind of girl who can pull that off – and so she looks head to toe in black because of the black pumps and she’s really not looking for re-visiting her college look but there aren’t really any other options. If she doesn’t get out the door now then she might be the one who’s late. Barry would probably never let her live that down.

Turns out he’s late after all. Only by a few minutes, though. And while she waits she checks in with Oliver and Dig on her phone, who assure her that they’re fine without her. Well, Diggle does, Oliver doesn’t really responds but if he wants to be broody and unsupportive he can. Fine. She’s going to have fun tonight with his encouragement or not.

When Barry does get there, it’s rushed and apologetic and he brought her flowers so she can forgive him for being late (even though she wasn’t really mad about it in the first place) and there are snowflakes in his hair, which is kind of sticking up, but that somehow makes him look better and she kind of just wants to kiss him. Whoa, where did that come from?

“Hi, Barry.” She says, smiling uncontrollably.

“Hey, Felicity.” He replies as he hands her the flowers like they’re a trophy he’s won for her and she should be proud of him for it. She doesn’t blame him – the fact that he managed to barely be late andget flowers is impressive.

“You’re late.” She teases, brushing a snowflake off his blue coat as if that would help when there’s a snowstorm beginning all around them.

“I got you flowers.” He points out.

“I guess I have to forgive you then.” She sighs dramatically, looking up at him with bright eyes. “It’s a shame; I was planning on hating you for the rest of my life but now you go and bring me these.”

“Well a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do.”

And it’s only when he offers her his arm and she takes it enthusiastically that she realizes they’ve beenflirting. And not the kind of flirting that involves her accidentally making a reference to wanting to get a hold of his processor or something equally mortifying like that. Real flirting, with witty banter and all. She feels quite proud of herself.

He holds the door open for her and she’s surprised by that because when was the last time a guy held a door open for her on a date? Turns out Barry’s a giant gentleman. She probably shouldn’t have spent as much time as she did contemplating whether or not she should pack that lacy balconette bra. Whatever. She feels hot in it anyway. Evens the playing field when his hair is looking like that.

Except then she doesn’t feel so hot anymore when the waiter comes over and asks what they’d like to eat because she hadn’t even thought about this. Date food is kind of a risky thing because she never really knows what to order. The only thing is all she had for lunch on the train was this pack of trail mix and frankly she’s pretty starving.

But it looks like Barry’s actually trying to make this a super nice date, so maybe she shouldn’t order the pasta bowl with the never-ending breadsticks. Yeah, garlic… probably not a good idea. Once again, not that she’s expecting anything… or anything like that.

“What do you-?”

“What are you thinking of-?”

“Oh I don’t know… what were you thinking about getting?”

“I don’t know…. I guess it kind of depends on…”

“Yeah because you don’t want to…”

“But I’m kind of…”

“Yeah.”

So maybe he’s as nervous about this date as she is. They’re both talking in sentence fragments and it’s comforting to not feel so alone in this, but the waiter is waiting and Barry is waiting and everything is waiting for her to just answer and she wishes she could slow time down for just a second.

Felicity looks at Barry. “Do you wanna split the never ending pasta bowl?”

“God yes; I’m starving.”

The garlic situation is… navigated. And by navigated Barry means it’s a lot easier to be okay with eating garlic bread on a date when the other person is also eating garlic bread so both of your breath will smell like garlic bread but really it’s okay because garlic bread is delicious.

Which Felicity has pointed out several times since their order came, even going so far as to call itorgasmically good, and then there was blushing, lots of blushing, on both her part and his because you normally don’t talk about sex on a first date, but Felicity’s Freudian Slips are extra poignant tonight. Probably because she’s so nervous. Definitely that. Probably no other reason. It’s not like she’s expecting anything from him, right?

Except then they somehow end up with their forks around the same piece of pasta like in Lady and the Tramp and Barry knows he should like cut it or something but they just kind of stare at each other instead. She doesn’t move. He doesn’t move. The rest of the restaurant continues to move around them.

Felicity’s the one to break the silence. “You know dogs can’t actually eat pasta, right?”

He laughs at that. Because of course they can’t, and he should’ve known that but he never really questioned the Disney movie’s logic.

“But Lady and the Tramp isn’t even my favorite animal-centered Disney movie. That one happens to be Lilo and Stitch, but the Aristocrats comes in a first second and… why are you laughing at me?”

Her little frown doesn’t look hurt so much as it does playfully accusatory . “I would’ve thought your favorite animal-centered Disney movie would’ve been Robin Hood. You know since…”

“Contrary to popular belief,” she tells him, point a fork full of pasta at him, “my entire life does not revolve around green and arrows.”

“Really?” he asks her. “Hmm, then why do you have a Robin Hood poster in your room, hmm?”

“Okay, how do you know that?”

“In the background of the selfie you took with your dog a few days ago.”

“Oh! I forgot! You were one of the first people to like that one weren’t you?”

“Because of the Robin Hood poster.”

“Yeah… sometimes I do that.”

“I noticed.”

She raises an eyebrow at him over her salad.

“You make a lot of thinly-veiled puns. I’m surprised no one has figured it out yet.”

She shrugs. “People believe what they want to believe.”

“Did you know… you know… before?”

“I had my suspicions. I’m guessing you did too.”

“Yeah.”

Felicity looks at him seriously and then begins to speak again. “You know, I have a hypothesis on why that might be.”

“Oh really?”

She leans in close conspiratorially and then whispers, “It’s because we’re giant dorks who marathon Doctor Who and psychoanalyze Captain America.”

They don’t order dessert.

He was planning to but then the waiter comes around and asks them what they want and he looks at her and she looks back and she’s just been telling him how she gets so nervous on dates about not eating messily because the restaurant isn’t a messy restaurant and she’s babbling on and on and he’s scared she’s going to run out of breath.

So he just says no thank you and when she looks at him quizzically he tells her there’s something he wants to show her. So they split the check and leave it on the table and she grabs her black coat and hurries out the door with him.

They are a whirlwind of laughter and colors and black and white, and even the snow swirling around them feels like some part of whatever magic is taking place here. Because while this may not be love, it’s something easy and fun and something he thinks neither of them have felt in a long time.

She runs surprisingly fast in heels, but he’s never seen her without them, so he supposes she must have a lot of practice. She’s as fast as him, maybe faster, and when they run into a patch of ice and he helps her over it he sort of understands Iris’ long rant about the touching hands scene in pride and prejudice. Because something is burning him and it could be her touch but also her gaze because he can see a whole universe in her eyes

When they stop at the food truck, said blue eyes grow in some emotion that he cannot read.

“You said you wanted something messy.” Barry says.

“You’re amazing.” She replies.

She brings out her wallet as they step up to the still-open truck, but he insists he’s paying because ‘he can get a better deal’ which is a lie and they both know it, but she lets him anyway.

They don’t sell regular s’mores here, but gooey chocolatey triple ones that are probably near-impossible to make on your own just out of sheer stickiness, but Felicity looks like she’s enjoying the stickiness.

Both of her hands are wrapped around the brown and pink striped paper they come in, and she’s got chocolate on her upper lip that he’s pretty sure she’ll somehow manage to fix before the taxi they’re waiting for even arrives.

He’s surprised when she breaks off a piece of her s’more-sandwich and offers it to him, but accepts anyways because it just seems like the right thing to do.

She catches him staring up at the sky.

“What are you looking at?”

“Just some stars.”

“Anything specific?” Felicity asks, knocking her leg against his playfully.

Barry steps behind her a bit and wraps his arm around her so that when he points up at the collection of stars he’s looking at, his arm is at her eye level so she can see. She smiles a bit in recognition, but he’d expected that anyways; she’d let it slip once before her love of astronomy.

“It’s my favorite one.” He tells her, plain and simple, before removing his arm and going back to his full height. He doesn’t widen the distance between them, though.

“And why, may I ask, is that specific constellation your favorite?”

“You know the story of Perseus and Andromeda, right?”

“Yes… but why is that your favorite one and not like… Medusa?”

“Well, I don’t know. I guess it might have something to do with the fact that they’re like the only couple in Mythology that really has a happy story. Like Heracles kills all of his wives and then there’s Jason and Medea, and Odysseus and Penelope is supposed to be a happy story but he just cheats on her all the time. But Perseus and Andromeda just kind of… live happily ever after. Like they just get together and get married and it’s all so… easy.”

“Hashtag life goals.” Felicity mutters and then starts blushing when Barry chuckles a little at her statement.

“Really, though.”

“So you like them because you believe in happy endings?”

“Yeah…”

“You, Barry Allen, are a giant sap.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“It’s a wonderful thing.”

They end up just smiling into each other’s eyes and, for a second, he contemplates just leaning over and kissing her right then and there, on the street corner, as the snow reflects the moonlight all around them, making it seem like they’ve stepped into some dystopian future where everything is lit from the ground up. Kissing her like he failed to do when he was going to leave Starling because now he can and she looks like the moon goddess Selene and if that makes him Endymion then so be it because if this is just a dream he never wants to wake up and-

Oh. The taxi’s here. Interrupting his failing attempt at gathering up some courage. So maybe he is a giant sap. But it’s kind of hard not to be when your parents were Henry and Nora Allen. Kind of hard to think one of them could ever kill the other once you’d seen them together. Not that anyone believed him when he said so.

But Felicity. Oh, Felicity believed him – believes in him – and that’s not something he’s found outside the family he has in Joe and Iris. Girls on first dates tend to pity him when they find out he’s Henry Allen’s son, even more so when he mentions that his dad isn’t guilty but Felicity… she’s something else.

And she’s laughing and telling him to stop looking at her and get in the car because she’s freezing and she doesn’t want these gorgeous flowers to die on her. So he gets in the taxi.

The crystals of ice on Barry’s coat are melting when she presses her cheek to his shoulder.  It’s not that she’s actually that tired, she just likes that she can do this. That he doesn’t mind. And it’s funny because they’re both so obviously nervous wrecks about this date, but at the same time there’s this weird sense of intimacy between the two of them. Of course, if there hadn’t been at least a small sense of intimacy between him after she revealed her biggest secret to him and he vowed to keep it then she would suspect something was wrong but this? This is something else entirely.

And she can’t really describe the feeling. The feeling that kind of feels like the way his eyes are on her right now and the feeling of being okay with eating garlic bread on a date and the rush she gets from talking Greek Mythology with someone who knows more than what they got from the one Percy Jackson book they read that one time and the SparkNotes version of the Odyssey that they read in Highschool. He has a favorite constellation, with a story behind it, and that’s more than she ever could’ve imagined even in highschool.

So yes, Oliver may look like whatever sixteen year old Felicity conjured up when she pictured the guy she would spend the rest of her life with, but Barry acts like it. And how ridiculous is that? Because he might be an even bigger dork than her and he’s a giant sap on top of that and… this is a cab ride to her hotel, isn’t it?

And she can’t believe she didn’t notice, because they were too busy looking at stars and talking about mythology, but normally this is the point in the date where they would part ways because neither of them currently has a car with them and now they’re going to go back to her hotel room and Barry either has no idea what he’s doing or every idea of what he’s doing.

She’s not quite sure how she’s supposed to feel about this.

Because it wouldn’t be out of character for him to walk her up to her hotel room, try and fail to kiss her goodnight and then walk off like a gentleman. But he’s also been full of surprises tonight and… maybe she should’ve prioritized her packing a little bit better.

If this weren’t a first date she might turn and ask him, but she’s kind of enjoying the quiet stillness of the moment they’re currently in.  The moment in which the snowflakes are swirling around the car and she’s leaning into his shoulder and they somehow ended up holding hands without realizing it, the realization of which makes a soft blush spread across her face.

She wasn’t prepared for him. For even the mere idea of him. For the idea that there could be someone out there for her that is this perfectly perfect for her and-

The taxi stops. They pay the driver. He helps her out of the car.

And then there’s this awkward pause at the doors of the hotel while she wonders whether or not he’s going to walk her to her room or want to go to her room or what, because even after all that’s gone on during the night, she’s still not quite sure what the outcome is going to be.

She wouldn’t mind, either way.

But she also feels like neither of them would have each other’s full attention if he stayed the night. Their healing isn’t quite at that point yet, but oh, how she is healing.

Even just how he’s looking at her right now is healing whatever part of her broke in that hotel in Russia, far faster than any amounts of “there was no choice to make” would ever.

But they don’t talk about that. Instead they talk about the architecture of the building, and favorite Shakespeare plays and Felicity argues on behalf of Iris that Barry is indeed a bit of a hipster, but that’s okay, because she is too.

He asks her what her favorite Percy Jackson novel is and she asks him what his favorite Harry Potter book is and she smiles when he says the Giver is still his favorite dystopian. And they make small talk because that’s what they do and that’s what they’re good at and maybe they just want the perfection that they’ve bottled tonight to last a little longer before the last few drops run out. Until they arrive at the door to her room. And then they do.

She’s not inviting him in and he’s kind of glad of it.

Well, she’s dancing around the subject, kind of like she danced around dinner, both of them watching each other’s every move to see where this is going to go. What kind of date this is going to be.

But it doesn’t feel right, it wouldn’t feel right for this to happen, not now, so instead they fumble and bumble about.

He should go now. He really should, because Felicity is beginning to get into embarrassing territory with her detailed yet flustered description of exactly all the things inside the hotel room and all.

“And I mean, I should probably get to bed. And so should you. Not with me, of course. Unless you want to but I mean you probably have work, I mean I have work, except not tomorrow because I’m here, obviously. But do you work on Saturdays? What kind of work days do CSI’s even have? What day of the week was it when we met?”

“Felicity…”

“Oh. Right.” She stops her ramble and looks him dead in the eyes again, no longer blushing and focusing on the floor.

“Goodnight.” He tells her for what’s probably the third time and he begins to walk away but then her hand tugs him back and suddenly his mouths is against hers and their teeth are clashing but he doesn’t pull away as his heartbeats quickly begin to accelerate.

They stay like that for a few seconds, with their hands folded between them and her between the wall and him, with hot breaths and twisting tongues and everything that should make this kiss anything more than innocent but it doesn’t (mostly due to the fact that no hands are wandering, and instead are remaining intertwined between the two of them.) The kiss is a culmination of all the feelings he’s been feeling throughout the night and tastes like a desperate sort of clinging to each other.

But it’s soft – she’s soft under his mouth and her lips taste like garlic bread and the waxy taste of her lipstick and it’s everything. Because maybe now this feels real. Maybe a half-thought-out promise in a phone call has turned into something so much bigger than the both of them, something that seems to be spiraling into a direction that he never could have predicted.

Her breath is warm on  his face when the kiss stops and she’s smiling this little smile and biting her bottom lip like she’s trying to contain her happiness and he wants to kiss her again but doesn’t.

“Goodnight, Felicity.” He breathes out, smiling.

“Goodnight, Barry.” She replies with an equally teasing look in her eyes.

And then she slips into her room and leaves him out in the hallway without even a pause.

He walks back to the curb and takes a taxi back to his apartment, trying not to think about the feel of her head on his shoulder.