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Adam Queen

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Felicity was working late in the IT department at Queen Consolidated. She had been promoted to the Manager last week after the previous manager botched the upgrade of the firewalls and allowed several of the company's secrets to be spilled all over the internet. It was Felicity's job to clean up the mess and create the new system. She had been working till midnight every night. She still had another six hours to go. Most of her IT staff had left, she had sent them home at the normal hour because they had been working just as hard as her and she knew her staff needed rest to deal with the more mundane tasks like fixing e-mail. She didn't need one of her workers going postal. This was why she was startled when she heard a noise outside.

Looking around for a weapon, she picked up her tablet; if push came to shove she could throw it at the intruder. She poked her head out of her office and surveyed the cubicles but didn't see anyone. Just as she was about to go back to her office and chalk the noise up to her imagination, movement between the cubicles caught her eye.

"Who's out there?" Felicity asked.

There was no answer.

"I'm calling security," Felicity said pulling up an application on her tablet the she had programmed to call security. There was no answer. Honestly, the Manager of the security department should be fired as well.

She was left with no choice but to investigate herself. She walked out of her office towards the cubicle where she suspected the intruder was hiding. She picked up a stapler on the way there. It didn't hurt to have something else in her hand. Her heart started pumping faster in her chest as she approached the cubicle. Her stomach also seemed to have dropped out of her body but it was too late to turn back now, three more steps and she would be there. As she rounded the partition to look into the cubicle she noticed a small boy hiding under the desk. Felicity blinked, where on Earth had a kid come from? Security definitely needed to be upgraded in this building.

"Hello," Felicity said stooping down to talk to him.

The boy glared at her.

"What's your name?"

She was met with silence. She tried calling security again but was met with no response.

"How did you get here?" she asked.

The kid remained silent.

"Ok then, if you don't want to talk to me, I'll figure out how you got here on my own," Felicity said, the boy giving her a look that suggested she could try but she would never figure it out. She hated mysteries and this mystery was begging to be solved. Pulling up the security footage in the corridor outside the IT department, she rewound the video to the point where the boy entered her department.

"Ah ha! Here you are!" she said.

The kid came closer to peep over the top of her tablet.

"How did you do that?" he asked.

Felicity shook her head, "I'll tell you if you tell me your name,"

The boy shook his head defiantly.

"Still don't think I can figure it out?" Felicity challenged, pulling up the live feed in the elevator.

She rewound the feed to when the kid stepped off the elevator into the IT Department.

"Ok, this is you on the elevator, now let's rewind and see what floor you go on at?"

The camera didn't have a view of the floor number, but she could see the reflection of the number in the shiny surface on the back of the elevator. She followed the numbers as it climbed, straight up to the Executive Floor, where the boy got on at.

"You came from the Executive floor," she watched the boys eyes widen.

She next pulled up the cameras on that floor and found that the boy had been in Oliver Queen's office playing with the toys that were reserved for his son. The realisation set in then that this was Adam Queen, son of Oliver Queen and his ex-wife or estranged wife, Felicity wasn't sure, they'd been in divorce court forever, Laurel Queen.

"We need to take you upstairs right away, your father must be worried sick!" she said.

The boy glared at her, "my father doesn't care. I ditch my bodyguards all the time. This isn't the first time I've explored this building on my own."

"Exploring that's what you think you're doing?" Felicity asked him.

The little boy gave her his best version of the Queen family glare. It had no effect on her.

"Listen Adam," Felicity said sternly. "We are going back upstairs now."

Adam crossed his hands in front of his chest and stubbornly stayed where he was.

Felicity was not taking any attitude from a seven year old kid. She politely told him that he could go with her or she would call his father to come and get him. He pouted and reluctantly came out from under the desk. She reached out to hold his hand.

"I'm a big boy. I don't need to hold an adult's hand anymore," he protested.

"Really, are you bigger than me?" she asked.

"No," he said as if it were the most obvious answer in the world.

"Then you hold my hand. You never know what we might encounter on the way up there. Security isn't exactly the best in this place." she said firmly.

Adam pouted but he held on to her as they walked out to the elevator. Now that she pointed out that the area may not be that safe, he started to wonder what all those shadows in the corner really were. When they arrived at the correct floor, she stepped out to find the security guards scouring the floor. A tall black man with arms the size of dumbbells walked over to her.

"Adam, you're not supposed to leave your security detail behind," he admonished the young boy.

"I was safe. I had adult supervision," Adam said shaking his hand to show that Felicity was with him.

"Miss, I can take it from here," he said watching Felicity carefully.

"And you are?" Felicity asked. She was not releasing the kid to someone she didn't know.

"John Diggle, the head of Oliver's personal security detail," he said. "And you?"

"Felicity Smoak, I manage the IT department here. I tried to call security but they aren't picking up. Perhaps you could look into the building security though if your detail could lose a kid you're probably just as inept as the building's security," realising she had just insulted a man who could probably crush her with one hand she started back tracking, "what I meant was that..."

"It's ok I gave my men a sound lecture for losing Adam as well and I will look into the issue you have with building security,"

Adam walked into his father's office and started playing with the toys again. She spared him one last look before she headed back to her office to continue her work.

S-2

The next day Felicity was busy constructing the new firewall around the server that housed the projects that the Applied Sciences Unit worked on when Adam strolled into her office accompanied by Mr. Diggle.

She arched her eyebrow at the little boy. This was certainly unexpected. "Hello Adam," she greeted him. "Mr. Diggle," she said acknowledging the bodyguard.

"Teach me to do what you did yesterday," the little boy demanded.

She frowned, "When you want someone to show you something you ask politely, not demand,"

"You work for my father," the boy said.

"I work in a company where your father is the Vice- President of Operations."

"My family owns this building; you have to do what I tell you,"

"No I do not. You are not my direct superior."

"I can order your superior,"

"No you cannot. You do not have a position with the company. Plus the Board would object to a seven year old boy issuing instructions to senior level staff."

"The Board?" Adam asked.

"Yes the Board of Directors. Your family may own most of the company but they still have to answer to the Board. It may be a minor inconvenience but they have to follow the procedure. There is also the fact that I could sue the company."

"Sue, what's that?" Adam asked curiously.

"There are laws that protect workers against mistreatment and harassment in the workplace. If an employee can prove that they have been unfairly treated, in this case, having to answer to the demands of a seven year old, said employee can seek redress in the courts."

"Redress? Is that like when girls dress up a doll?" Adam asked his face scrunching up in disgust.

"Not it means that I can petition the courts for fair treatment," Felicity said before adding under her breath "usually the fairness is determined in dollar signs,"

Adam frowned, not having a good comeback he left, Mr. Diggle following behind the little boy.

S-3

The next day Adam returned but this time with his own tablet.

"Teach me," he demanded again.

Felicity looked away from her computer screen, "I do not respond well to demands,"

"Teach me," he reiterated.

Felicity sighed, for a few moments the only sound heard was typing as her hands flew over the keyboard. The printer at the corner of her desk started working and sheets of paper came out. Felicity took the pages and handed it to Adam who took it anxiously. His expression soon changed to one of anger.

"Manners!" he said reading the title of the article that Felicity had given to him. "I asked you to teach me how to look through the cameras on my tablet."

"Clearly the only thing you need to learn from me is manners. We will start with the use of Please, when asking for things and Thank You when you receive it," she said sternly. "Oh and the use of good afternoon or hello when you enter my office,"

There was a chuckle from Mr. Diggle reminding both of them that the bodyguard was present with them.

A furious Adam stormed out. Mr. Diggle turned to follow his charge but he stopped to make a comment, "It's about time someone tried to teach him something instead of spoiling him. I love him like he is my own son but it's becoming clearer and clearer everyday that someone needs to set him straight. I hope you stick to your guns Ms. Smoak."

She smiled at him, "I heard there was a shake up in the security department,"

"Yes, no one answered my call and when I investigated I found them sleeping with music playing in their ears. Immediate action was needed to straighten out the department,"

"Thank you," Felicity said.

He smiled and ran to catch up with Adam.

S-4

And stick to her guns she did. Adam came back every work day for two full weeks, each time with demands. Felicity could actually do something that Adam wanted to learn. He was determined to make her teach him but she never acquiesced to him. The demands slowly began to follow with bribes. Felicity chuckled as Adam got more creative with what he tried to offer her. The first bribe was money. Adam knew they were billionaires and money was easy to come by. Of course Felicity had asked if he had ever handled any money himself. After it became clear that Adam may be the son of a billionaire but Adam himself had no access to the funds, he left. The pout Adam had given her right before he stomped out the door had almost made her cave in to his demands.

The next bribe had been the promise of chocolate and flowers, something he saw his father give his lady friends. That was followed the next day by food. He had asked the kitchen maid prepare, a chocolate mousse cake topped with chopped nuts, his mother's favourite. Felicity told him she couldn't eat it because she was allergic to nuts. She then had to explain what an allergy was. She had asked Diggle if Adam's parents weren't concerned that their son was coming to visit her everyday but he shrugged the question off.

Each visit started to get longer and longer as she challenged his ability to deliver the bribe of the day. Adam seemed to relish in the dynamic they had been building. Felicity challenged him to be creative and innovative. He was never bored in her office. He always left when he could not think of a solution to the problem she pointed out.

Finally at the beginning of the third week, he said the magic word, please. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, one built on trust and respect.

S-5

Every work day for three months, Adam Queen would come down to her office at quarter past four and would stay until his father was ready to leave. She had slowly built up a strong rapport with the young boy. She had discovered that the Queens had tried every reputable babysitter in the city but Adam had scared them all away. He had been bouncing around between his grandparents, aunts, father and mother after school. That first day that she met Adam, no one had been able to supervise him so his father brought him to work and set him up with some toys in his office. He had since been asking to come back to QC every day. It amazed Felicity that neither of his parents had asked why yet. Adam seemed to think that once he was quiet and out of their hair they didn't care. Felicity doubted that though.

The first day that Adam didn't visit her, she paced her office anxiously wondering if the boy was ok. She eventually sent a text to Diggle who assured her that Adam was fine and she would see him the next day.

When she finally saw Adam, he collapsed in his chair in her office. He explained that he had failed his first ever test in first grade and his mother took him straight home to scold him. He showed Felicity the test. Felicity then started adding an educational component to their chats. She programmed a special computer for Adam that was filled with educational games and books that matched his curriculum at school. No one knew, but Felicity had hacked the school's computers to see the curriculum that Adam was supposed to study for the year. She also created a little space in her office that allowed Adam to do his homework, so that while he worked, she worked.

When he was stuck, he would ask her for help and rather than give him the answer to that one question, she taught him how to understand the concepts involved so he could apply it to any problem he faced. When he didn't understand something, she encouraged him to research the topic. He would come over to her computer, since his computer had no internet access, and she would open google for him. He would sit in her lap and type on the keyboard what he was researching and they would look it up together. He would read the information, and then Felicity would check to see if he understood what he was reading.

Diggle stopped staying with Adam when it became clear that the boy would not leave Felicity's office without her permission. Without realising it, Adam had slowly become very obedient when Felicity spoke. He never crossed her. That however did not apply to anyone else in his life except maybe his paternal grandmother, she was scary.

S-6

It was an afternoon like all the others but Felicity could tell that Adam was nervous. He was fidgeting in his chair and doing poorly at the game he was playing. She would give him a few more minutes to see if he would approach her first before she asked him what was wrong.

"Tomorrow is parent teacher's day," Adam suddenly blurted out.

"I'm sure there's nothing to be worried about," she said knowing that he had not failed another test since that first one. Several of his tests were proudly on display in his father's office, as well a poorly drawn painting of a tiger. Felicity had one of a panda in hers.

"I want you to come," he said.

Warning bells went off in Felicity's head.

"Adam, I am not one of your parents. I am your friend. Friends do not go to Parents Teachers night."

"Sometimes I wish you were my only parent," Adam confessed to her.

She sighed, "Adam, your parents love you very much. If they didn't, they could have given you up for adoption. Your dad boasts that you're doing so well in school at department meetings. He loves you very much."

Adam snorted, "My dad doesn't love me. Mom says he left us."

"Maybe this is something you should talk to your father about," Felicity said.

"Nope," the boy said

That afternoon he left her office early.

S-7

Oliver Queen sat next to Laurel Queen, the woman who he was desperately trying to divorce. Five years, that was how long the divorce had been in court. Being a top class lawyer, Laurel had found every single way to slow down the process. She refused to let him go or allow him to move on. She was bitter. It was a bitterness that affected everyone around them, particularly their son, Adam.

They sat in front of Mrs. Henderson, their son's teacher at school. As a boy, Oliver used to dread these meetings. The teachers always said the same thing about him; that he seemed to be a bright boy but he wasn't applying himself. At the beginning of the term it seemed that his son was following in his footsteps. His son wasn't paying attention in class, had racked up three detentions within the first week and had failed his first test. Laurel had had a meltdown when she saw the exam. She wanted their son to be an academic achiever like she had been. He knew that she had been harsh with Adam that day. His bodyguards had reported to Oliver that Laurel had called him an absolute failure and banished him to his room, not allowing Adam to come to Queen Consolidated that day. Oliver hated the current custody arrangement that only allowed him to have Adam two weekends a month. He was grateful that Laurel and everyone else in both hers and his family was so busy with work that she allowed Adam to visit him after school.

Recently, everything slowly started to change with his son. He knew the changes had to do with a friend Adam had made in the IT department. Oliver knew very well where his son disappeared to every day. His son would spend five minutes with him and then head down to her. Diggle gave him a full report. His first reaction was to stop the visits but Diggle had convinced him to let Adam continue. Diggle thought that Ms. Smoak might be a positive influence on his son and he was right, though that didn't stop Oliver from running a complete background check on her and subtly observing her during department meetings. She paid particular interest when he spoke about Adam. Oliver had also had Diggle install a secret camera in her office so that he could keep an eye on them himself. Ms. Smoak never crossed any lines and seemed like the best baby sitter they had so far. He should probably add a little extra to her pay cheque every month.

"I have to say that in the last three months I have seen a remarkable improvement in your son, he's more attentive, more respectful, the first time he said please I almost had a heart attack!" Mrs. Henderson revealed.

"I've been trying to teach him to be more polite," Laurel said taking credit for their son's turnaround. "Every evening when we get home, I sit and discuss his day with him."

Oliver didn't contradict her. He didn't want to fight in front of the teacher but he knew when they got home Laurel would quiz her son about what was going on in Oliver's life and if he had a new girlfriend. She was always looking for ways to make Oliver miserable.

"May I ask who Felicity is?" the teacher asked them.

Oliver shifted in his seat, from the confused face Laurel was making, Adam hadn't told her about Felicity at all.

"He put a lot of effort in during art class to make sure that panda that he drew for her was perfect."

Laurel was beginning to frown. That was never a good sign.

"Felicity is a family friend," Oliver said sensing the need to say something before everything blew up in his face.

"I see. She seems to be a good role model for him. During question and answer time he's always referencing her as if she's the encyclopaedia," the teacher said before moving on to talk about his grades.

"Is that all?" Laurel asked sweetly at the end. Oliver could see the slight tick in her eyebrow. She was pissed.

"Yes it's been a pleasure," Mrs. Henderson told them.

As soon as they exited the school, Laurel cornered Oliver about Felicity.

S-8

Early the next morning, Felicity arrived to find Oliver and Laurel Queen waiting for her in her office. She glanced at the clock, 7:55am, at least she wasn't late for work.

"Good Morning Queens," she greeted pleasantly.

"So you're the bitch that's been trying to steal my son from me," Laurel said nastily as she looked her up and down.

Felicity visibly recoiled at the other woman's tone. She was about to defend herself when Laurel stood.

"If I ever see you near my son again, I'll call the cops,"

The brunette then marched out of her office.

Oliver looked apologetically at her, "I'm sorry. Laurel can be a lot to handle."

"I'm sorry Mr. Queen. I thought you were ok with Adam spending time down here."

"Please call me Oliver, Mr. Queen is my father. And for the record, I have no problem with Adam visiting you. You are his first real friend. You got through to him in a way no one else could. I'm very grateful for that. This divorce has been hardest on him. He has been to family court six times already during the custody battle. He's been interviewed by social workers, psychologists and the judge in an effort to determine what's best for him. But the law still favours mothers no matter how devoted a father is."

"I'm sure everything will work out Mr. Que... I mean Oliver," Felicity corrected herself.

"I hope you're right," he said before leaving her office. From the slump in his shoulders she could tell that he was genuinely disappointed in the turn of events.

Felicity sat down at her desk and it was only then that she realised that the panda drawing was missing. She found it ripped up in the bin. Adam may not be her child but that was a gift from him and she treasured it. She was not letting Laurel Queen take it away from her.

That evening she went home at the normal time employees are supposed to leave to reassemble her picture. She was going to scan the pieces into her computer and then use a program to erase the tear lines between pieces so it would have been as if she scanned the complete picture. When the programme was finished, she would print the finished picture, frame it and put it in her office.

S-9

It had been a week since Felicity had encountered Laurel Queen. She hadn't had the heart to remove any of the items she accumulated in her office that Adam used. She was busy setting up access to a new server for the PR department. The first one was almost full and they needed a second one. Of course Felicity thought they didn't need to keep 10,000 pictures of every QC public event on the server but they thought differently.

"Wow, I've been gone a week and this stuff is still here," Adam said walking into the room and dropping into his chair, his book bag falling at his feet. "I like the frame!" he said beaming at his picture on the wall.

"Adam," Felicity said her eyes snapping up. "What are you doing here?"

"I ran away from my mom's office," he admitted to her.

"Adam! She must be so worried,"

Adam snorted, "I bet she hasn't noticed I left yet. She's been busy with some deposition. It's awfully boring over there. Nothing to do at all."

"I doubt that," Felicity says picking up the phone to call Oliver's secretary. Five minutes later, Oliver arrived.

"Oliver, I'm so terribly sorry," Felicity started but Adam cut her off.

"Why are you apologising? It's not your fault I'm here. I suppose Mom is on her way to pick me up," he said looking at his father.

"No, I haven't called her yet. I was hoping I could spend some time with you. I haven't seen you," Oliver said to his son. Laurel had decided to keep him away until Oliver's appointed weekend arrived.

Adam looked at Felicity, "Now he wants to spend time with me,"

"Adam, I always want to spend time with you but sometimes it isn't possible. You live with your mother. I only get to spend real time with you two weekends a month."

"I came here to see Felicity, not you," Adam said stubbornly.

"Adam! Don't be rude to your father," Felicity corrected him.

"Father, I'm terribly sorry but I have homework to do," he said pulling out a book from his school bag.

Oliver looked over at Felicity helplessly.

"Adam, Oliver is going to call your mom to come and get you. While we wait for her the three of us can go down to the deli and get your favourite sandwich,"

Adam's face lit up. He loved the little sandwiches Felicity would have ready for him to eat when he arrived on afternoons.

S-10

Oliver watched his son walk next to Felicity, his hand firmly attached to hers. He refused to hold hands with him or Laurel. Adam didn't try to run away from her, he didn't try to walk ahead of her. Instead he stayed planted next to her as they walked to the deli. It was the best behaviour he had ever seen from his son. He remembered the day that Diggle came into his office telling him that Felicity was asking for permission for his son to eat a sandwich from the Deli down the street. Oliver had granted the request grateful that his manager remembered to ask before assuming she could just feed his son. Diggle reported that his son had enjoyed his sandwich and Felicity had made sure that there was one ready for him every day with a freshly squeezed juice, no sugar added.

They took a table in the back corner. A waitress arrived at the table and immediately started flirting with Oliver. Adam frowned rudely telling the waitress to get lost. The signature Queen glare was firmly in place.

"Adam," Felicity admonished.

"What? She was only interested in my father," he said crossing his hands over his chest, a frown on his face.

"Stop frowning. I'm going to go place our order since you scared away our waitress," Felicity said getting up from the table to leave the two Queens to talk it out.

When she returned, Adam was still stuck in his stubborn pose facing away from his father, staring out the window. She realised she was going to have to be a mediator.

"So tell me about your week Adam?" Felicity asked.

Adam turned back towards the table, side eyed his father before looking at her, "it was good," he responded.

"Hmm, that sounds like there's a story," she prodded.

Again he side eyed his father.

"Adam, you can tell your father as well,"

He crossed his hands in front of his chest, it was a stance she realised he got from his mother. "Gordon was teasing Hilary again,"

"Wait Hilary is being teased at school? Tommy mentioned anything about that," Oliver said.

Hilary was Hilary Merlyn daughter of Tommy and Camille Merlyn. Tommy was his best friend. They did everything together. They married months apart and had kids months apart. They even divorced months apart, though Tommy's own was settled. He had hoped that Adam and Hilary would become friends but it hadn't seemed so. Laurel was discouraging the friendship. Camille and Laurel had never gotten along. It was always a cat fight with the two of them.

The waitress interrupted to serve them three turkey club sandwiches with extra cheese.

"How did you know I ate this?" Oliver asked surprised that she had got his order right. When she left the table he really didn't care what she ordered, he just wanted to talk to his son.

Felicity smiled at Oliver. She wouldn't betray Adam's confidence in her. Adam loved this sandwich because it was the sandwich his father made for him before bed time. All three of them fell silent as they ate. The pleasant atmosphere was soon disturbed by Laurel Queen.

"I'm filing a restraining order against you," she said to Felicity immediately.

"Come on Adam it's time to go home,"

"I want to finish my sandwich," the boy complained.

"You will not sit here and eat a sandwich with her," Laurel retorted angrily. "I specifically told you, you are not to have any contact with her."

"She's my friend," Adam protested.

"She's your father's whore," his mother snapped.

"That is enough!" Oliver said slamming his hand down on the table. "You had responsibility for him today Laurel and you lost him. Be thankful he decided to come to QC and not somewhere else. I will be letting the judge know about this incident and the erratic behaviour you've been displaying."

S-11

After Oliver threatened to take Laurel back to family court over her losing their son, she allowed Oliver to have Adam on the afternoons while she was busy at work. He even managed to get Laurel to allow Adam to do his homework with Felicity, though Laurel set down clear ground rules of what she allowed the 'baby sitter' to do. Oliver started to hang around Felicity's office in the evening with his son. Felicity didn't mind because she knew that despite what Adam felt at the moment towards his father, he needed Oliver in his life. It was a pleasure to watch the boy open up to his father. What she hadn't expected was the way her own heart opened up to Oliver as well.

It had started up as the an accidental brush of hands when they were leaving her office at the end of the night and grew to him openly resting his hand on the small of her back, all the way from her office to her car. The conversation between them was light and flirty. Then one day he smiled at her and she had one butterfly in stomach. The next day there were two, then three, till she had a whole swarm that started to flutter the minute she laid eyes on Oliver. Every day she yelled at the butterflies internally to stop. Oliver was her boss and the father of Adam. She could not think about him that way.

The dreams about him soon started. Sometimes he was prince charming, sometimes he was a pirate, sometimes he was 007, sometimes he was the Doctor and sometimes he was just himself visiting her in her office. Every single time it turned x-rated. It was getting harder to work in the evening. Her eyes were constantly drawn to him. He filled out a suit very well. She loved when he took his jacket off, loosened his tie and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. It was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. He could lift Adam easily into the air, a sign of how fit and strong he was. She often found herself wondering what it would be like for her to be the one he was lifting.

Oliver's relationship with his son slowly started to heal and they began to talk about subjects that had been bothering Adam such as why Oliver was filing for divorce. Felicity tried not to eavesdrop but the story of Oliver and Laurel was a fascinating story. She knew a lot from the tabloids but hearing it from his perspective was something entirely different. Felicity would classify it as a Shakespearean romantic tragedy. She was surprised with how honest Oliver was with his son about his behaviour. He didn't gloss over his playboy ways but what really struck her was the genuine guilt he felt over the harm he had caused to Laurel.

The story started in high school. Oliver and Laurel were high school sweethearts but that Oliver was not a monogamous type of guy. He cheated on her right up to the birth of Adam. His son was what made him more responsible. It was ironic that while Oliver became more serious and dedicated, Laurel drifted away as she was suffering from post-partum depression and no one realised. She eventually turned to alcohol for a short time. It wasn't until Oliver came home and found her drunk one day that he realised there was a problem and he knew he was the cause of it.

They tried to go to counselling but it didn't work. He promised Adam that he did make an effort to fix things. During a three month trip to China, Oliver found that both he and Laurel were much happier when they were apart. That was when he decided to file for divorce. He thought letting her go and giving her the freedom to move on was the right thing to do. He had grown up with his parents estranged but holding on to a sham of a marriage. He didn't want his son to have that. He decided to give her a generous alimony to make up for all of his short comings. The divorce backfired, instead of giving Laurel the space he thought she needed to heal, it made her even more angry, bitter and very vengeful. Even though there was a pre-nuptial agreement in place Laurel challenged everything in court. There were many things that had been said and done on both sides that made reconciliation impossible. Oliver made it quite clear to Adam that his parents were not getting back together.

Adam had listened, Felicity wasn't sure how much he understood but it was good for him to learn that he didn't cause his parents' divorce. She knew that was what he thought. She also knew that Laurel's primary goal in life had become making Oliver life's miserable and she wasn't above using her son to achieve that.

S-12

Oliver was amazed at the dynamic between Felicity and Adam. He remembered Judge Thompson's words to him during one of his petitions for custody. She had said that she had to do what was in the best interest of the child. He could never understand why that meant he couldn't get full custody. He thought he was the better parent. Watching the way Felicity interacted with Adam, he could see that in all of her actions, she took into consideration what was best for Adam. Oliver realised now that while he thought making his son happy would make him a good father, parenting went well beyond that.

When Felicity started popping up in his dreams, leaving him in desperate need of a cold shower, he knew he should probably cut back spending so much time with her but that meant cutting back on seeing his son as well. He briefly thought about cutting back the time Adam spent with her but he knew that would not be in his son's best interest.

He was finding excuses every time he was with Adam to touch Felicity, to be close to her, to make her smile, to make her laugh. He wanted her and he wanted her in a way he had never wanted anyone else before.

It was a Saturday night, on a weekend that he didn't have Adam. He decided to spend it with Tommy since he was also sans child. His best friend picked up on his mood right away.

"Who is she?" Tommy asked.

"Who's who?"

"You're brooding and I know it's over a girl. So spill!"

"I think I'm falling for Felicity,"

"Felicity, the girl you spend all your afternoons with?" Tommy asked.

"I spend all my afternoons with Adam. Felicity just happens to be there as well,"

Merlyn snorted, his friend could be so oblivious at times. "So do something about it,"

"There is nothing I can do. I can't stop going. Adam needs me,"

"Ask her out, idiot," Tommy said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"I'm not an idiot and I can't ask her out. I'm her boss,"

"So? That never stopped you before. How many secretaries did you sleep with again?" Tommy asked pretending to count on his fingers. When he passed 10 he gave up.

Oliver glared at him.

"Ask her!" Tommy said.

"Tommy it could screw so much up," Oliver admitted,

"Or it could make things so much better," his best friend pointed out, "what if right now the three of you are at 25% happiness and dating Felicity could mean 100% happiness, isn't it worth the shot?"

"But Adam,"

"You told me she genuinely cares for Adam. If it doesn't work out, I don't think she will let it affect Adam. She is not Laurel. Give it a try."

"I'll think about it," Oliver said.

Later in the week he had a similar conversation with Diggle, who managed to tip the scales in favour of asking Felicity out.

S-13

Felicity was surprised when Oliver stopped by her office during lunch. She assumed he had come to ask about the comments she made on a technical report regarding the company investing in several science and technology start-ups.

"Hi Oliver, I know I may have been a bit critical about some of the ideas compared to other managers but there are really some areas that QC should just stay out of, the one about food in particular."

"Felicity would you like to go out to dinner with me?" Oliver asked.

"I'm being serious here Oliver," Felicity said.

"So am I," he responded.

"I don't want to read too much into this but are you asking me out on a date? Like an actual date, like a date date, a romantic date, not a homework date with Adam?" Felicity asked hopefully, the butterflies in her stomach fluttering furiously.

"Sure, I mean the implication being with dinner that you,"

"Usually I'm the one talking in sentence fragments," Felicity pointed out to him.

Oliver let out a small laugh that made Felicity want to melt into her chair, "Would you like to go to dinner with me in a very romantic setting?"

She smiled, "yes,"

He smiled at her.

"But we need to tell Adam and make sure he is ok with it," she added. As much as she really wanted to explore her feelings for Oliver, she could not do it at the expense of her friendship with Adam.

Oliver agreed. His son needed to be ok with a change in dynamic between his father and his friend.

S-14

That afternoon,they informed Adam of their date.

"Hey buddy, I have something to tell you," Oliver said.

His son looked up at him with blue innocent eyes. Felicity often said he and Adam had the same eyes.

"I asked Felicity out on a date and she said yes," Oliver told his son happily.

His son frowned. Neither of them had been expecting that.

"Adam what's wrong?" Felicity asked him.

He turned towards her, "mom said this would happen. That he would sleep with you and then throw you away. It's what he does. She said he was letting me come here just so that he could spend a night with you and once that happens I won't be allowed to come here anymore. She said he would ruin this. That's what he's good at, ruining good things."

Felicity's eyes locked with Oliver's. She saw none of those intentions in them.

"Adam, your father asked me on a date. That's all, just a date. However it goes, bad or good, your friendship with me will remain the same," Felicity said carefully. She wanted to counter the negative things Laurel said about Oliver but she had no clue where to start.

"Buddy I promise, I'm not taking away your homework centre," Oliver had always joked that Felicity's office was the homework centre.

"If you promise then I'm ok with it," Adam said hesitantly.

Both adults smiled at him.

"Buddy can you not tell your mom about this," Oliver asked his son.

Felicity frowned, "Can I talk to you a minute Oliver," she said calling him over to a corner away from Adam.

"You can't ask him to lie to his mother," Felicity hissed. "It confuses him. You want him to be honest and tell the truth yet you ask him to lie to Laurel."

"What do you think Laurel tells him to say to me?" Oliver retorted.

Felicity crossed her hands across her chest, "I don't care. I'm asking you to be the bigger person and not make your son lie to her. Our going on a date shouldn't be a secret. She will find out eventually and when she finds out, who do you think she's going to take her frustration out on, Adam. She is his mother. He should be honest with her. If she gets angry, we are the adults, we can handle her. Don't let Adam get stuck in the middle."

"She'll just find a way to use this to delay the divorce. She's very good at filing all these motions for miscellaneous things I have never heard of and then getting the hearing delayed because she has an important case to attend to." Oliver said.

"Oliver, how much longer are you going to sacrifice your happiness until you're officially divorced?" she asked before heading back to her desk.

Oliver walked over to Adam, "forget what I said just now. You can tell your mom whatever you decide to. You shouldn't have any secrets from her."

Adam looked up at him and nodded.

S-15

Oliver took Felicity to a nice Italian restaurant that had recently opened up in the heart of the city. The critics had given it rave reviews. He offered to pick her up but she chose to meet him there instead. He was running late, so she was seated at the table when he arrived. She was dressed in a gorgeous red dress with her hair out. He had never seen her with her hair out. It was always in the pony tail that he would sometimes flick. Adam liked to see him do that too. He knew Felicity enjoyed his attention as well.

He sat down and the waiter came over, he ordered a scotch right away. Laurel had already called him five times and sent numerous angry text messages about the date. From all the hassle he was getting, he realised it would have been wrong for Adam to lie to her. She would have found out and she would have been mean to Adam and could have punished him by banning him from QC. This way all of her anger was directed at him and Adam was left out of it. He just needed to forget about it now and focus on the beautiful woman in front of him.

"What's wrong?" she asked. She was so good at picking up on his moods.

"What makes you think something is wrong?" he asked hoping to throw her off.

"The Laurel frown line is engaged,"

"The what?"

"The Laurel frown line," Felicity said, "It's a frown line that forms on your face only when the issue pertains to her,"

"Oh,"

"So what's wrong?"

"As predicted, she's angry about the date,"

Felicity sighed reaching across the table to hold his hand. A jolt of electricity shot threw him at the contract.

"You have no control over that. So relax," she said squeezing his hand reassuringly.

He smiled, squeezing back. Without consciously telling it to, his thumb started rubbing circles on the back of Felicity's hand.

"I plan too,"

S-16

One date turned into two which turned into three which then led to dinner every night after Adam was dropped home. Adam seemed to react positively to the development but he didn't like it when too much of Felicity's attention was focused on Oliver. As a result, they tried keep their PDA to a minimum when Adam was around.

Tommy welcomed Felicity with open arms. Their friendship grew fast which led to Oliver setting play dates when Tommy had Hilary. Hilary was very shy at first but they were able to coax out a more adventurous side to her. They visited parks, the circus and Oliver's favourite, the beach. Not only did he get to see Felicity in a sexy bikini, Adam didn't complain when Oliver scooped her up into his arms and dumped her in the water. The boys could also play around while Felicity kept Hilary company building sand castles.

Oliver was happy, Adam was happy. This was what he always wanted. He was truly beginning to feel like he had a family now. His relationship with Felicity kept progressing and they were now spending nights at each other's places. They hadn't told Adam about that development yet.

S-17

Oliver had kept Felicity away from his mother and sister. They strongly felt that Oliver should drop the whole divorce thing and get back together with Laurel. In their eyes, no one was more perfect for the title of Mrs. Oliver Queen. They treated Laurel as if there was no divorce in progress. Laurel was still invited to all Queen events, including Sunday lunch, which was something Oliver no longer attended, even though Adam was there when Laurel had him. He heard from Raisa, the housekeeper at the Mansion, that Laurel never missed a lunch. She was to be doted on as if she were Moira herself. Oliver didn't have an issue with them remaining friends and offering her some support but he did have an issue with them treating her as if she were still his wife. It may not be official yet, but in his eyes, Laurel stopped being his wife a long time ago.

Oliver had Adam this weekend and there was a play date planned for a baseball game that day. Since his father owned the Starling City Rockets, his family had access to the luxury club box seats. He had five seats reserved for them. Baseball had been something he loved doing with his father and he took up the tradition with his son. When the doorbell rang, he was expecting Tommy and Hilary. He left Felicity in the kitchen with Adam and made his way over to the door to stall for more time. Adam was still eating his breakfast. He was surprised when he found his sister, Thea, at the door instead of Tommy.

"Oliver," she said barging inside,

"What are you doing here Speedy?" he asked. Since the divorce started, his sister hadn't spent any time with him. Laurel had succeeded in driving a huge wedge between them.

"I'm here to see my nephew," she said.

"We're going to a game," Oliver said tersely.

"I'll just come with you," she said brightly. She was wearing jeans something his sister never wore unless the event she was going to required jeans. Laurel must have told her. Suddenly, he was no longer looking forward to the day.

Felicity chose that moment to emerge from the kitchen with Adam. They were all decked out in Rocket's caps and jerseys. Felicity liked to wear Oliver's Rockets jersey and it hung loosely around her but he loved seeing her in it. Adam ran up to her Thea and greeted her with a big hug. His sister spoilt Adam all the time. She then looked Felicity up and down and admonished Oliver for sleeping with the help. Felicity flinched but before Oliver could respond Tommy appeared at the door with Hilary.

"Everyone ready?" he asked but then frowned when he saw Thea. Tommy knew very well what Thea's sudden appearance signified. "I thought it was just the five of us,"

"It is, the help can stay behind," Thea said chucking her finger at Felicity. Adam frowned at his aunt's tone.

"Thea dropped by unexpectedly but I'm sure she can come back later after the game," Oliver said to Tommy.

"Nope," his sister chirped, "I'm going to the game with you guys,"

"Awesome," Adam said excitedly.

"I only have five tickets," Oliver commented.

"It's our box. We can sort it out when we get there," Thea said walking out with Adam.

Tommy and Oliver shared a look. They both knew this was going to be trouble. Felicity looked hesitantly at Oliver. The question was plainly written on her face, should she go? Oliver held out his hand and pulled her to his side. He wasn't leaving her behind.

When they arrived at the box, the game was about to start. The young boy collecting the tickets commented that there were six of them but five tickets. Oliver glared at the young boy. He shut up and let them in. Oliver was surprised to find, his parents and Laurel already there seated along with other influential persons in Starling City.

"Mom, Grandma, Grandpa!" Adam said surprised running over to them.

"Hi baby, we thought it would be a nice surprise to have a family day," Laurel said to her son.

Oliver frowned. There was clearly a plan afoot but he didn't know what. It was only when everyone sat down did he realise that the box was full and there was no seat for Thea, except Thea made sure to sit down before Felicity, making it look like Felicity was the intruder. His girlfriend chewed on her bottom lip. Oliver wasn't letting them win, he pulled Felicity into his lap.

"Are you sure this is ok?" Felicity asked him.

"More than ok! I get to hold you for the entire game," he said to her.

With the exception of his father, who had openly supported his decision to divorce and his decision to date Felicity, the rest of his family glared at him. It was going to be a long game. Moira, Laurel and Thea kept up a steady stream of conversation, never including Felicity or Tommy. It didn't bother Tommy, he had had years to acclimatise to the treatment. It was what happened to persons that were in Oliver's camp. Felicity however was uncomfortable. Oliver and Tommy made every effort to make her feel welcomed by having their own running commentary of the game which both Adam and Hilary found hilarious. When Laurel realised their plan wasn't working, she decided to interfere.

"So Tommy," Laurel started, "I hear things between you and Sara are heating up,"

"Sara?" Oliver asked confused. She couldn't be referring to her sister Sara?

"Oh you didn't know. Dad caught him one morning sneaking out of Sara's apartment. It's a thing that's been going on for a while," Laurel said pleased that she had found something that Tommy kept from Oliver.

"Laurel, you and I both know that the morning you are referring to was yesterday and that it's not a thing that's been going on for a while. You don't even talk to your sister anymore so I don't understand why you would want to talk about her now," Tommy responded hoping to put Laurel in her place.

Sara Lance was Laurel's younger sister who like Oliver, thought the divorce was a good thing. Sara had encouraged Laurel to let her anger go but once she realised that Oliver had slept with Sara at one point, Laurel cut her sister from her life. Sara decided to travel the world for a bit and returned a few months ago. Sara was not allowed to see Adam. Oliver had told Sara about one of the play dates in the park and she watched her nephew play from a distance. He would have to grill Tommy later. Right now a united front was what was important.

Laurel didn't want to let it go but Robert Queen stepped in. "Laurel, this is supposed to be a fun game. If you can't enjoy the atmosphere, you're welcome to leave and give Ms. Smoak your seat."

That comment triggered a war of words between Moira and Robert. There were plenty of on-lookers so things didn't get too nasty. Soon, Adam wanted to sit in his father's lap so Felicity took Adam's seat, which also happened to be next to Laurel. Felicity handled it like a star, ignoring the comments about her sleeping her way up the company's ranks. She focused on the game, Oliver, Adam, Tommy and Hilary. Occasionally Mr. Queen would draw her into a conversation about some new technology that QC might invest in. He had learned to rely on her opinion when it came to the science and technology fields that QC operated in. She had yet to advise him wrong.

When the last ball was hit, there was a relieved sigh that they had survived the game.

S-18

It had been three days since the baseball game. Felicity ordered their favourite take out and curled up on the couch with Oliver in his loft. There was something important she needed to talk to him about. It could end their relationship but she needed to do it for Oliver's sake. She decided to be blunt instead of beating around the bush.

"Oliver, the divorce, Laurel's behaviour, it is not your entire fault," Felicity said to him.

"Felicity, you don't need to comfort me. I've accepted it. I fucked up. I caused everything that happened,"

"I don't believe that Oliver. My roommate at MIT was a huge fan of yours. She read everything about you. I remember when you were getting married to Laurel. I thought that woman was crazy to marry someone like you. No amount of money, fame or power was worth it. And that's my point Oliver. Laurel knew what she was getting into."

"She thought I would change."

"No. After meeting her and listening to her talk with your mother and Thea that was not it. She thought she would have a marriage like your parents. You know like how your mother turns a blind eye to your father's wandering dick. She thought she could do the same and everything would be alright. She never expected you to grow up and end it. To her the title of Mrs. Oliver Queen was more important. I had a bet going with my roommate that you would get caught cheating on your honeymoon with a maid,"

"You were partially right," Oliver admitted.

"Yeah I didn't account for a female bartender but if an outsider could predict that, am I to believe that Laurel was so blind. She could have abandoned ship after that incident but instead she battened down the hatches and got pregnant. Laurel ignored every warning sign in favour of living the fantasy in her head. When you filed for divorce she had to let reality in. You can't take 100% blame for everything because it is partially her fault. Yes you were a grade A asshole, probably the only thing you ever got an A on,"

Oliver gave her an incredulous look.

"What I may have found your high school grades online. You weren't an excellent student. You need to stop letting Laurel take advantage of your guilt. It's time to let the past go, and be happy. You deserve to be, Oliver."

Oliver thought for a while before he asked her a question, "Do you still feel that same way about me?"

Felicity looked confused at him.

"That I'm a grade A asshole, that anyone woman would be crazy to be with me," he clarified for her.

"Obviously not Oliver or I wouldn't be dating you. You are not that person anymore and I'm not that person I was at MIT either. We've both grown and changed. I love you Oliver,"

"I love you too Felicity," he said softly before gently capturing her lips in a soft and tender kiss.

When they broke apart he had one more question for her, "would you consider moving in with me?"

S-19

After a month of talking about it, Felicity eventually officially moved in with him much to Laurel's chagrin but Oliver was ignoring her. After their talk, Laurel's bitterness no longer affected him. He didn't come away with the heavy heart or the guilt-ridden face, a fact that made Laurel even angrier because it was clear that Oliver was moving on, divorce or no divorce. He was going to be happy.

It was a lot easier to live together than either one of them had thought. That might have had to do with the fact that Felicity had already been spending most of her time at Oliver's apartment anyway. When she moved the last of her things in, she realised that 75% of her clothes were already in Oliver's loft. Unconsciously, she had already carved out a space for herself in his bedroom and his life.

Adam was surprisingly ok with the move. They both thought he would have been upset based on how Laurel was reacting but he continued on as if nothing had changed.

S-20

Oliver and Felicity were snuggled up on the couch watching a movie late Saturday night when Oliver received a call that his sister had crashed her car. They headed to the hospital immediately. Thea was in the intensive care unit under heavy sedation. The doctors had had to pull glass and pieces of metal out of her body. She had broken quite a few ribs, both wrists and her collar bone. They were going to start taking her off of the sedatives and they hoped she would wake up in the morning.

She had been driving under the influence of a controlled substance and the state was pressing charges once she was discharged from the hospital. Laurel was sure she could convince the state to allow Thea to do community service at a place downtown but that wasn't the biggest problem they faced. It was discovered that Malcolm Merlyn was really Thea's father.

The revelation had upset his sister. She didn't want to go home knowing that she was not Robert Queen's daughter. Malcolm offered to take her but she turned him down as well. He had never earned a glowing recommendation for father of the year from Tommy. Laurel claimed she had no room for her. It was Oliver and Felicity that stepped forward to take care of Thea. Felicity was the one that changed the girl's bandages every night, the one that made sure she was recovering and doing her exercises. Tommy also stopped by every day to keep her spirits up. As long as Thea wished it, Moira was not allowed to come and see her, which was fine with Oliver.

A combination of the time away from her previous life and the community service slowly changed Thea. She realised that when she needed him, her brother was there for her. She felt remorse for the way she had treated him in the last five years. She started to make an effort to atone for mistakes. The first effort she made was to be more open to Felicity in his life.

"I don't understand why you would help me after all I said about you," Thea asked her one day when it was just the two of them at home.

After putting all those months of hard work in, Felicity had developed a solid security system for all of QC IT networks. She didn't need to put in the overtime anymore. She only stayed late to do homework with Adam but since Thea needed her, she had left Oliver to supervise Adam's homework.

"Thea, you're Oliver's sister. You're very important to him. There was never an option to not help you,"

"I'm sorry I was mean to you," Thea said sadly.

"It's ok Thea," Felicity said reaching out for the girl's index finger and squeezing it gently. It was a habit Felicity had picked up because when Thea was in the hospital they couldn't squeeze her whole hand so Oliver and her would squeeze her index finger.

Thea next made amends to her new half brother Tommy. The one positive that came out of the accident was that Thea gained a niece to spoil, and spoil she did.

S-21

Oliver should have known that things were going too smoothly. He should have known something was going to happen. His world was rocked upside down when he received a call from the Central City Police Department telling him he had another son. The revelation probably would have sent his entire life spiralling out of control if Felicity hadn't been there to anchor him down. He had been very confused about this new son until he realised that his mother had paid Sandra Hawke, a girl who he got pregnant twelve years ago to leave town and not tell him she lost the baby. He permanently ended his relationship with his mother. He couldn't stand for such a betrayal. It was a bit ironic because Thea had just forgiven Moira. Laurel had soon found out and a whole new level of hostility ensued now that she realised that her son was no longer his only heir.

Sandra had died in a car accident. Her will revealed that she wanted Connor to live with his father since she had no other relatives. Oliver was now solely responsible for Connor Hawke. The idea scared him even though he already had a son. Oliver missed twelve years of Connor's life. He had no idea what the boy was like or how the boy would respond to him.

His first meeting with his son went much better than expected. Connor was aware that his father had no idea that he was alive and he didn't hold it against Oliver. Connor also realised that he had no choice but to move to Starling City. Felicity was the one that suggested that they keep Sandra's house so that Connor would have a place to return to in Central City if he wanted to live there one day. She also promised the boy that they would come out on weekends so that he could maintain contact with his friends. After a hectic month of sorting out the paperwork and going back and forth between Central City and Starling City, Oliver brought Connor home to the loft.

S-22

Adam's and Connor's first meeting had gone horribly. Adam had adopted Laurel's attitude. Oliver's loft only had two bedrooms, the one he shared with Felicity and the one that Adam slept in when he came over. Connor had been given Adam's room, a fact that only added to Adam's hate of the other boy. Adam didn't want to share anything with Connor. Adam spent one hour before he called for his mother to take him back home.

"What do I do?" Oliver asked Felicity that night in bed.

They were so in tune with each other Felicity didn't even need to ask to know what he was referring to.

"I think your first step is to find a bigger place," Felicity said.

Oliver sighed. Finding another place to live sounded like a headache.

"Will you help me look?" he asked her.

"Yes, of course I'll help you Oliver. We'll probably have to do it over lunch hours and weekends."

"I think we need at least a five bedroom house," Oliver told her.

"So many? Are you expecting more children to pop up?" Felicity asked incredulously.

Oliver chuckled, "I was thinking more along the lines of one bedroom for us, one for each of the boys, one for when your mom visits and at least one more just in case we ever have children. We are pretty active at nights," he said wiggling his eyebrows at her.

She playfully hit his chest.

"Ow," he said before starting a tickle war with her.

S-23

It only took them a week to find a place. It was just outside the city in the suburbs, in an area similar to where Connor had been living. Both boys liked the house which was a relief. It was an even bigger relief when both boys chose different bedrooms. They didn't know they would do if both boys wanted the same room. The house they chose had two levels, six bedrooms, an extra large kitchen, a pool and a large yard. There were enough rooms on the first floor that Felicity and Oliver could set up an office to work from home. Thea decided to move into the loft.

They had gotten Connor into the same Academy Oliver attended. His schedule was packed with after school activities and a weekly visit to a therapist to deal with the grief of losing his mother. Diggle would pick him up afterwards and take him to QC. Now that they had Connor with them, Oliver and Felicity didn't work late anymore, preferring to take the work home with them. Connor's therapist had stressed that they needed to get Connor into a comfortable routine. Thus they aimed to be ready by the time Connor arrived.

Adam still came to Felicity's office after school. He was in a new grade now, having successfully completed his previous year. He was steadily one of the top five students in his class. Once Connor arrived, they would pack up, drop Adam by Laurel and head home to the suburbs. Most nights Oliver would cook, but if he was too tired, or had extra work to complete in the home office, they would buy take out for dinner. Once they had eaten, Felicity would help Connor with his homework, making sure it was completed before the boy went to bed. That was usually about 9:00pm. After Connor was asleep, that would be the time that Felicity and Oliver, relaxed with each other.

Felicity's life had become a huge balancing act for her. In a year, she went from a single IT girl that went home to Netflix every night to a woman who was in a very committed relationship to a man with two children. It made her realise how much free time she had before. She wasn't sure if she could say that she had a family now. They weren't really hers. There were times when she felt like an imposter or a cheap substitute particularly when Adam and Oliver were together.

There were also many times when she felt overwhelmed and would snap at Oliver. She knew part of Oliver's logic for buying such a large house was so that Felicity had space when she needed it. Things weren't always smooth sailing in their relationship. They would fight and argue but she never let the boys see. They had so much instability in their life she didn't want them worried especially since most of the times, it was something trivial such as wet towels on the bed they were fighting about. Felicity was fortunate in that she and Oliver agreed on all the important things.

S-24

Felicity quickly realised that sports might be a way to form a brotherly bond between Connor and Adam. Connor was in to everything. He was very athletic. Adam liked sports too so Felicity decided that on weekends that Adam was there, they would play a two-a-side soccer game, the boys against her and Oliver. It was really the boys against Oliver since Felicity could trip over her own feet but it brought out the competitive side in the boys and they had to learn team work to beat Oliver.

At the end of every match, Felicity was the one that needed patching up. Oliver had sourced, special Dr. Who band-aids for the cuts and scratches she got. Oliver quickly put in a rule disallowing the boys from directly tackling her for the ball. She already had problems trying to run and kick the ball at the same time; it was an overload on her poor brain to throw in another obstacle.

"You know I think if you replaced me with a dog, you'd have better luck Oliver," Felicity said. The boys had won the match and were busy congratulating each other on their victory.

"You're irreplaceable!" he said, "but we could do with a dog. What do you think guys?" he asked his sons.

Both boys' face lit up, "yes,"

"Oliver Jonas Queen, who is going to take care of the dog?" Felicity asked angrily.

"We will, won't we boys?" Oliver said looking at his sons.

"Yes, please Felicity, can we please get a dog. It would be so much fun," they both begged.

Felicity was beginning to curse her big mouth. Why did she have to mention a dog?

"I'll think about it," she said.

She lasted a total of three days before she gave into their wishes. They went to the nearest animal shelter and came home with not, one but four dogs! Each had latched onto their own dog and didn't want to let go. Their yard was huge. Their house sat on an acre of land, so there was more than enough room.

The boys had fallen in love with two puppies, the last of a German Shepherd/unknown breed litter. The owner had a pure bred female but the neighbour's dog somehow got into his yard and mated with his dog. The result was puppies which were not pure bred and he didn't want them. He dropped them off at the shelter. Both puppies were male. Connor named his Max and Adam name his Optimus.

Oliver had taken to a mix breed dog that looked plain and brown but had a lot of spunk. He seemed like a high energy dog that needed a fit owner to keep up with him. Just looking at the dog exhausted Felicity. She could imagine the dog running side by side with Oliver and easily keeping up. Oliver named his dog Octane.

Felicity fell in love with an older blind chocolate Labrador that had no chance of ever being adopted. Despite her disability, her dog was still able to play with the younger dogs around her. When one got out of control she didn't hesitate to snap at them. Felicity named hers Murdock.

Felicity made sure the boys kept to their promises to take care of the dogs. She drew up a schedule of who would feed the dogs each day and who would check their water bowls. Felicity and Oliver would see about the rest of the duties. Adam did most of his responsibilities when he was there on weekends.

It turned out Oliver's dog was quite good with soccer and chased the ball down relentlessly, which gave Felicity time to relax with her tablet in her hand. Murdock, enjoyed running around following the voices of the boys. Occasionally, the ball would land in front of her and she would kick it off. The puppies were growing fast and Felicity had learned the hard way to keep them away from furniture, shoes and plants. They would chew on anything close by. The puppies also liked to dig holes in the yard. It amazed Felicity that even when she put all the dirt back, the hole never filled up! They had to buy bags of dirt to make sure they kept their yard level for when they were playing outside.

S-25

In an effort to make Oliver jealous, Laurel started dating more regularly. She recently started seeing Dr. Carter Bowen, the man that he had always resented because his mother always poured her praise on to him. At least now Moira should be happy that someone she was close to had hooked up with him. To emphasise how good the relationship was going, Laurel would send Adam home with Oliver on nights that she would be out with Carter. Oliver didn't care at all. He was thrilled that Adam got to come home with them on nights. He was elated that they could eat dinner as a family. Sure the mornings were extra tight with having to get both boys to school on time but they made it work. Adam wasn't the burden that Laurel hoped she was placing on their relationship.

S-26

Felicity, Thea and Connor were playing Mario Kart on Oliver's old N64. Even though they had newer versions of the game, Felicity still preferred the old N64. She had just power slide her way to victory when the door bell rang.

"I'll get it," she said putting her controller down and leaving the other two to battle it out.

She looked through the peephole and found a police officer and a woman at the door. She opened the door.

"Good morning mam," the police officer greeted her politely.

"Good morning," Felicity replied, "Is there a problem officer,"

The officer hesitated before speaking, "I'm afraid there is. There's been a report of child abuse and we are here to investigate the claim. This is Ms. Carter, she's with Starling City Child Protection Services. She'll be interviewing your children,"

"What?" Felicity asked in a daze.

"Ms. Smoak," Ms. Carter started, "my department takes the safety of children very seriously as a result all allegations of child abuse are investigated."

"Do you have a warrant?" Felicity asked frowning.

"We do," the office handed it to her.

She reviewed the document and let them in knowing she had no choice. The first call she made was to Oliver's lawyer that handled his custody hearings. He needed to get there as soon as possible. Her second phone call was to Oliver, who had gone with Adam to collect their take away order from the Italian restaurant in the city. An angry Oliver arrived first.

"What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed.

"Sir, please calm down," the social worker said eying him warily and making a note of his behaviour in her book.

"I will not calm down. You come into our home and accuse us of child abuse. This is totally ridiculous."

Ms. Carter must have been accustomed to this because she barely flinched. Instead she looked passed him to Adam.

"How did you get those bruises on your arm sweetie?" she asked in an innocent tone.

Oliver had dealt with social workers before to know that he should let Adam answer the question so it didn't appear that Oliver directed him how to answer.

"Soccer, I tripped over Octane when he tackled the ball," Adam responded innocently. To him it wasn't a big deal. Felicity tripped and fell all the time but she always brushed it off and got back up.

"Octane?" Ms. Carter queried.

"Dad's dog, he's an awesome soccer player. Won't let you get the ball at all. Murdock's pretty good too considering she's blind,"

Ms. Carter looked like she didn't believe Adam at all. She was probably accustomed to hearing stories all the time. The lawyer soon arrived with his team. He thought it was best if each child had their own lawyer as well to sit in on the social services interview.

The authorities tried to interview Thea but she was very hostile to them. She had come over to spend time with her nephews and the day was ruined. She was demanding to know who made the allegations but they claimed it was an anonymous tip. Later that night when Oliver was served with a subpoena to appear in family court again for an emergency hearing because Laurel wanted to terminate his parental rights based on the child abuse allegations, they all knew the anonymous tipper was Laurel.

It was further confirmed that Laurel and his mother was behind it when his mother appeared in his office the next day to offer him her support. Moira had suggested that Laurel might drop the case if he were to break up with Felicity. Oliver saw red. It took Felicity three days to calm him down. He stated his position; he was not going to chose between his son and his girlfriend because he deserved to have both and he was going to fight tooth and nail for both.

S-27

Judge Thompson looked at the case in front of her. It was a complicated case. She had met with all the parties involved, Oliver Queen, Laurel Queen, Moira Queen, Adam Queen, Connor Hawke and Felicity Smoak. It was unusual to see a mother side against her son but Moira Queen was adamant that Adam belonged with Laurel because Ms. Smoak was a bad influence on him. The older woman was certain that everything that had gone wrong in her family was because of Ms. Smoak. Both Robert and Thea Queen had elected to stay out of the matter.

Child abuse allegations were very serious and always thoroughly investigated. The social worker and police found no evidence of it in this case. In fact, Ms. Carter had a glowing report of the home that Oliver had created for his children. She commented that every recommended safety protocol for children was followed. The pool was gated off and locked. The key to the lock was hidden away. Neither child knew where it was. They were not allowed to swim without an adult present. Chemicals, such as bleach and cleaning materials were hidden away. There were child locks on the draws with the knives. The television and internet access was heavily monitored, thanks to programming by Ms. Smoak.

Documents submitted by Connor Hawke's therapist, a therapist that the judge had worked with before and respected, indicated that he saw no signs of physical or emotional abuse. Connor was never late for an appointment and the therapist felt that soon, Connor wouldn't need to come see him anymore. He thought Connor had settled well into his new life.

In conducting her interviews with the children involved, she hadn't detected any signs of unhappiness. Connor being the older one was more aware of what was going on. He had never met Laurel or his grandmother. He liked his grandfather and aunt. They spoiled him. All of Connor's favourite sports teams were from Central City. When they were playing important games, his grandfather would fly them out there and they would watch the games. Sometimes other members of the family would join them or family friends like Tommy Merlyn and his daughter.

Adam was a different story. The judge found that he had grown a lot since she had last talked to him but though he knew the facts now about his parents' divorce, he didn't truly understand them. A lot had happened in his life the last year. He was reluctant to say anything about any side involved in the battle for him. He adamantly insisted that neither of his parents or Ms. Smoak hurt him in any way.

Laurel and Moira Queen openly disliked the babysitter as they referred to Ms. Smoak. They told a tale how she manipulated Adam to snake her way into Oliver's life and take control. They described a cunning woman who planned every move she made. Laurel insisted that the babysitter was turning her son against her and his grandmother. Moira had also insisted that the fall out between her and Oliver was caused by the babysitter and that her son was an innocent victim in Ms. Smoak's scheme. As a concerned mother she was trying to do what was right for her son and grandson. Her primary purpose was to protect her family against the gold digging imposter. She pointed out that Ms. Smoak was the daughter of a Vegas cocktail waitress. They submitted pictures of Ms. Smoak having lunch with men who weren't Oliver. They strongly implied she was cheating on him. They stated she was a woman of low ethical standard and unfit to be around children.

The interview with Oliver went much the same as all the others. He insisted that he was totally dedicated to his son, that he provided the safest environment for his child to live in. He was countering Laurel's request by asking for him to have full custody and give Laurel visitation rights on the grounds that she no longer provided the safest environment for their son. Oliver set about trying to prove to the judge that he had learnt what parenting really meant. He accused Laurel of coming up with those fake charges of abuse to destabilise what he had built but she had failed because his relationship with Felicity was built on a solid ground and it would take more than that to break them. He thought Laurel was letting the bitterness she felt against Oliver affect Adam and her relationship with Adam. He accused Laurel of being the one trying to manipulate Adam. The judge asked him about the pictures of Ms. Smoak with other men. He didn't even flinch when he looked at the pictures. They were all business meetings for QC that Oliver knew about well in advance. In fact he had asked her to attend one of those meetings on his behalf. He showed no signs that he thought Felicity was cheating on him.

Her last interview was with Ms. Smoak. She had heard so much about the woman already but as a judge she cast that aside to conduct the interview from a neutral point. The woman was nervous, constantly fidgeting but once she got that mouth of hers talking, it would run a mile a minute. There was not a doubt that the woman was telling the truth with the speed at which she babbled. There was no way some of the things she said could be a lie.

After all the interviews were finished, she reviewed her notes, the motions filed and all of the evidence submitted to come to her decision.

S-28

It was the day of the judge's decision. Adam was sitting with his grandmother and Thea. The judge arrived in chambers and they all stood for her. When she sat down she viewed each party critically. Oliver remembered the first time he experienced that. It was nerve racking but now he was very accustomed to her stare.

"Mr. Queen, Mrs. Queen, I have presided over this case from the beginning so that makes me an excellent judge to determine what is best for Adam. I sat in chambers and I listened to the concerns of both parties involved and I carefully reviewed the evidence submitted by all sides but what influenced me the most was Adam."

The judge paused her monologue to look at the boy. She then looked curiously about the courtroom.

"Where is Ms. Smoak?" she asked.

"Probably finally realised that she wasn't going to get anything from my family and left," Moira commented.

Oliver glared at his mother, "Felicity is at Connor's first soccer game here. She's filming it so we could watch it later. While it would have been nice for her to be here, I've been down this road many times before. Whatever the outcome, I won't need her as much as Connor needs her cheering from the stands today."

The judge smiled at him before continuing on with her ruling.

"In the five years this has gone on, this is the first time, I've seen a smart respectful boy. I firmly believe that all of these changes are due to Ms. Smoak's influence.

Laurel and Moira started to protest but the judge put them firmly in place, reminding them that they had their say already it was time for her to speak.

"Both of you sort to tear down Ms. Smoak's character pointing out that she is the daughter of a cocktail waitress. I am the daughter of a stripper yet I've been able to rise to the rank of a judge. I found it quite interesting that instead of slinging mud back at you Ms. Smoak took the high road in her testimony. She believes firmly that Adam needs both of his parents and his grandmother in his life. She knows how much Adam loves you both and she will not ask him to choose."

"I'm ruling that Adam be placed with Mr. Oliver Queen and Mrs. Laurel Queen can visit at any time, and have one weekend a month. In six months time we will revisit it."

"You can't do that!" Laurel shouted.

"Mrs. Queen, you know as well as anybody else that I can. If you wanted to keep your son, you would have provided a safe stable environment for him. At the moment, Mr. Queen has such an environment. Besides from what I've gathered from your hectic work and dating schedule, your son spends more time with Ms. Smoak than he does with you."

S-29

Felicity was screaming at the top of her lungs. Connor had the ball and he was running towards the goal. He was a great striker but the defence had been excellent so far. Just as he was going to take his shot the ball was swept away from him. He was disappointed but Felicity gave him a thumbs up. They were losing though. His teammates in defence hadn't been as air tight as the opposition and they were down 2 goals.

Robert Queen was there with her, having told his assistant to cancel everything for the rest of the day, he was going to his grandson's first soccer match. Felicity could not stay still every time Connor had the ball so the camera duties were passed to him. Getting to know her boss on a personal level was something she never imagined would happen. He was nothing like she thought he was. He truly cared about doing what was right.

A strong pair of hands wrapped around her and she was lifted into the air. She squealed before she was placed on the ground and turned around. She barely had enough time to register Oliver before his lips were crashing on hers.

"Ew gross," Adam said.

Felicity's eyes widened at the boy's presence. Oliver beamed at her, "I have full custody."

"Oh Oliver that's fantastic," she said throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him again.

"It is. I was thinking, do you want to adopt Connor so you can officially be one of his guardians,"

Felicity's heart swelled, that was the equivalent of a marriage proposal. "I would love to," she said.

"I love you Ms. Smoak,"

"I love you too Mr. Queen,"

The team lost the match 3-1, Connor being the one to score the lone goal for his side. The video of the goal would be on replay in their house for the rest of the week. Felicity had a still pulled off of the video of Connor just as the ball went into the net. She printed it and framed it. It went in her office next to the panda. She realised that she needed a family portrait now. That night she and Oliver made plans to have a family photo shoot inclusive of the dogs.