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Our love will never fade away (I'll bear your mark on my skin for eternity)

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Chapter 22:

“We're burning out, we're burning down

We're the ashes on the ground

We're burning out, we're burning down

We've fallen underground

 

The light has fallen from the stars

Now we are sinking through the night

Out of sight we've fallen underground

Pick up the pieces left of us”

- Greta Svabo Bech, Ludovico Einaudi, Circles

 

Felicity broke her promise to never let Oliver out of her sight again when Thea and Roy came back from visiting Tommy. She slipped out of the room to give them some alone time with him and decided to go see Tommy. She heard Laurel’s voice from the hallway. She was giving her soulmate a talking-to that spoke of the deep fear that had inhabited her during the last few hours. Her reaction was pretty similar to Felicity except for the fact that, Laurel being Laurel, she sounded much more threatening and dangerous than Felicity had herself.

“I swear to God, Tommy Merlyn, if you ever do this to me again, I will bring you back from the dead to kill you myself!” Her tone was hard but there was no mistaking the quiver that indicated deeper emotions, emotions she barely kept contained.

“I’m sorry babe! I promise I won’t almost die ever again.” A chuckle. “Boats suck anyway!”

They were hugging when Felicity reached the door. She took a step back, allowing them some privacy. She used the time to check on Oliver through their connection. He was alright albeit exhausted but she knew he wouldn’t rest until she returned. Which she would do really soon. Being away from him was proving much more difficult than she had expected. All she wanted was to be back with him and crawl in his arms.

“I’m going to call Sara,” she heard Laurel say at last. “Let her know you’re okay. I’ll be right back.”

The sound of a kiss, footsteps.

Laurel smiled at Felicity when she saw her, her phone already pressed to her ear. Felicity smiled back at her before knocking on the door.

“Hey,” she said, her smile still on.

He smiled at her, his eyes soft. “Hey!”

“Can I come in?” She asked, suddenly sounding unsure. They hadn’t parted in good terms and she didn’t know where they stood exactly. It scared her a little because in the time since she’d known him, she’d grown extremely fond of Tommy, and even more, she had started to rely on him. For most people, it didn’t sound like it was a big deal but it was to her. Before coming to Starling, she’d only had one friend, Georgia. Now, she had many and Tommy probably was the most important of them all. If she lost him now, she didn’t know what she’d do. It was pretty scary for someone who’d only ever counted on herself.  

“Of course, please do!” He said and relief flooded her veins.

Both his arms were bandaged and one of his legs was propped up on a pillow. He had a huge bump on his head too.

“So…” She stretched the word, making it sound like a question.

“Cuts that needed stitches on both my arms, a sprained ankle, and a bump on my head.”

“But no loss of consciousness.” Unlike Oliver. She’d never forget the terror she’d felt when all she’d been able to see through their connection was darkness.

He smiled. “Apparently, I’m too hard-headed.”

She snorted. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

“How’s Oliver?”

“Good. Tired. They’re keeping him in for the night because he has a concussion.”

“Yeah they’re keeping me too. I’ll probably be discharged tomorrow.”

“Hopefully, Oliver will be too. And I’m sorry for your boat,” she quickly added.

“It’s okay. Boat sucks anyway.”

She smiled but it quickly faded away. She shifted her balance on her feet, something she did when she was feeling uncomfortable. Which she did.

“Listen, I…”

“Tommy, I’m…”

They both spoke at the same moment. She pinched her lips together.

“You go first,” he told her, encouraging her with a smile.

“I’m sorry I was a bitch earlier, I…”

He raised a hand to stop her. “Don’t be. I was an ass. You warned me off but I refused to listen. I should know better than push a woman who’s already pissed by now.” A beat. “I’m sorry, Felicity. I shouldn’t have talked to you like that and I shouldn’t have made things all about me. I know it’s not much of an excuse but I’ve been under a lot of pressure lately, with the baby and the wedding…”

“I understand,” she cut him off. “You have a lot on your plate already, you don’t need any more drama.”

“Yeah. But still, that’s no excuse. I was an ass, even more so because I left without setting you straight.”

She tilted her head in question.

“You’re not the worst soulmate in the history of soulmates.”

She bowed her head, remembering the things she’d said in anger. But just because she’d been angry, it didn’t mean parts of her hadn’t believed what she’d been saying.

“Thank you, Tommy.” His words meant a lot to her but he wasn’t the one she needed to hear them from.

“Are we good now?” He asked tentatively and she realized he had been feeling as unsure as she had, he’d just hidden it better.

“Of course we are!” She said and when he opened his arms for her, she didn’t hesitate and hugged him close, but not tight, mindful of his injuries. He rubbed up and down her back and the comforting gesture brought tears to her eyes.

She pulled back and quickly dried her eyes with her sleeves. It was when Laurel decided to come back.

“I’ll leave the two of you be,” she said.

“Tell Oliver we said hi,” Laurel told her.

“I will, I promise! Get some rest, Tommy!” She added, the look on her face hard but her tone playful.

He brought his hand to his forehead and waved it in a military salute. “Yes, ma’am!”

She waved them goodbye and left. She hurried back to Oliver’s room, the short separation having taken its toll on her. She was feeling anguish and she knew only one thing would soothe her. Touch. She needed to touch her soulmate, hold him, feel that he was really here and safe.

When she came back, Thea was sitting on Oliver’s bed and Roy was standing with a hand on her shoulder, a solid presence at her back. A rock to keep her anchored. It made Felicity smile. Having sensed her, Oliver looked up to meet her eyes. She gave him a small reassuring smile and he relaxed immediately. Thea and Roy turned in her direction in perfect synchronicity.

“Time for you to rest, Ollie,” Thea said. She leaned down and kissed her brother’s cheek. “We’ll be back tomorrow…” she paused for a second, “I mean, we’ll be back later today since it’s well past midnight.”

She got up and walked out, Roy close behind her. She motioned for Felicity to come with them.

“So…” Thea sighed, walking a few steps away from Oliver’s room. “Today was one of these days.”

Felicity nodded. She’d never forget her twenty-first birthday. Ever.

“I’m just glad it’s finally over,” she said, smoothing the fabric of her skirt. She was still wearing the clothes she had worn at work and her feet were screaming in pain, begging her to take off her heels.

“You’re staying for the night?”

She nodded. “Yes, I cleared everything with his doctor and the nurses. Although, there wasn’t anything to discuss, really… not even the devil could keep me away from Oliver.”

Thea smiled. “Take care of him. We’ll grab a cab back to the apartment.”

“Can you call my mom? Let her know, everything is fine? I texted her earlier but I know she’ll stay up all night, waiting to hear from us.”

“Sure,” Roy said, punctuating the word with a nod.

“We’ll be back tomorrow with a change of clothes for the both of you.”

Felicity’s eyes widened in happiness at her words. “That would be perfect, thank you!”

Thea stepped toward her and gave her a tight hug. Felicity’s anger was long gone, their argument from before completely forgotten. In the light of what had happened, nothing really mattered anymore.

“See you later, Felicity!” She told her, pulling away.

“Yeah see you later, Blondie!” Roy added and even though he wasn’t the most expressive person in the world, he still hugged her quickly.

Felicity waited until they were out of sight before walking back inside Oliver’s room, for good this time. For a second, she stood on the threshold and just looked at him, comforted by the familiar buzzing of his emotions inside her.

“Do you need anything?” She asked, taking a step toward him.

“Just you,” he replied and her heart soared in her chest at the sound of his husky voice. She quickly erased the distance between them and climbed on his bed. She got rid of her heels and settled beside him, mindful of his injuries. He let out a content sigh and whispered, as if he was confiding a secret. “Don’t tell Doctor Lempton, but you’re the best medication ever.”

She chuckled. “Is that so?” She replied, playfully.

“Yeah,” he breathed out, warming her inside.

But even though she loved hearing him telling her the sweetest things ever, his well-being remained her priority and he needed to rest. “Stop trying to charm me, Mr. Queen and go to sleep.”

“I can’t sleep,” he admitted.

She raised herself on her elbow, her eyebrows frowned in concern. “Why not? I’m here, I’m not going anywhere,” she added, gently brushing his cheek with the back of her hand.

“My parents were all kind of shitty but they taught me never to go to bed angry.”

“I’m not angry,” Felicity told him in earnest.

“I know but you were and so was I. I just want to clear the air.”

“Oliver…” She started to protest. “You have a concussion and you’re exhausted. You’re not in shape for a big conversation.”

“But you are. And you make me stronger.” A beat. “Felicity, please. I need this. We need this.”

Felicity nodded. He was right, they needed to talk. She sat more comfortably so that she could see his eyes as they spoke. “Where should we start?” There was so much that needed to be said, she didn’t know where to start. And then she remembered one particular thing… “Did you get my message?”

He frowned. “What message?”

She let out a small relieved breath. “I tried to call you earlier and… I was pretty pissed that you’d gone with Tommy without talking to me first and… I left you a voicemail, and you know what they say? Don’t leave voicemails when you’re drunk or angry or both – not that I was drunk because I wasn’t – and…” Her voice trailed down. “You didn’t get it?”

He shook his head. “And my phone’s dead so… I’ll probably never hear it.”

“I’m really happy about that. I meant some of the things I said but… it wasn’t the right way to say them.”

He nodded. “I understand. Do you want to say them now?”

“Let’s see where this conversation goes first,” she said.

He reached for her hand, which was currently twisting the fabric of her skirt, and rubbed gentle circles on her palm. “Listen, about this morning…”

“I’m sorry I freaked out. Looking back at things, I realize I kind of went crazy on you.”

“You kind of did,” he agreed, letting out a shaky breath. “But you were scared. For no reason, because like I said, there was no ring inside that box, but still. Let’s talk about that.”

“I didn’t want to have to say no.” She paused for a second. “And I would have said no, because I’m not ready to get married.” She sighed. “Growing up, I never really thought about getting married but when I did, I always knew I wanted to enjoy my twenties before settling down in my thirties. And I know some couples get engaged sometimes and wait a few years before they get married but I always thought it was stupid. You get engaged because you’re ready to get married. You don’t get engaged and then wait until you’re ready. That’s what dating’s for.”

“So you want to date for a while then get engaged and then get married?”

“Pretty much, yeah,” she said, pushing a strand of her hair back behind her ear. “I don’t want us to get married because we’re soulmates and we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together anyway. I want us to get married because we’re ready to start that new journey together.”

“I don’t want to wait until you’re thirty, Felicity… By then I’ll be thirty-seven and…”

“I know,” she interrupted him. “Our age difference means you’ll always be waiting for me to catch up on you. That’s not fair to you, especially if we have kids. I understand you wanting to have some when you’re still in your prime.”

“Hey, watch it!” He said, pointing a threatening finger at her. “I’ll still be in my prime at forty.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “You know what I meant. Anyway, my point is, I can’t change my age, you can’t change yours, but we can adapt. So if you’re willing to wait a little, I’m willing to meet you in the middle.”

He tilted his head.

“We can talk about all this again when I’m twenty-five.”

“Just talk?”

She shook her head. “And maybe ask, who knows? It’s four years from now and plenty of time for us to sort things out, enjoy life as a couple, conquer the cooperate world…” She added teasingly. “And more importantly, you’ll be thirty-two so still very much in your prime.”

He squeezed her hand. “Watch out!” Then he smiled at her. “Why didn’t we have that conversation this morning?”

“Because you were a dick?”

“Excuse-me?”

She scratched the back of her head. “You kind of were. Throwing me running away in my face, doubting my commitment to this relationship, to you… It wasn’t fair. And it hurt.”

His emotions shifted, his happy contentment was replaced with something somber. “Did you say that in your message?”

“Yeah, among other things.”

“I’m sorry.” A beat. “I know it’s not much of an excuse but I was angry and… it’s just like you said. People shouldn’t speak when they’re angry.” Another beat. “I know you’ve changed. I told you so in Vegas, remember? Sometimes I just-” his voice trailed down. “It’s hard to be rational where you’re concerned. Again, it’s not an excuse but… It’s true. I’m sorry I hurt you.”  

She could feel he really meant it so she accepted his apology. It would take time for her to forget but she had faith in Oliver and more importantly, in herself. She knew they’d make it and that someday they’d both look back on those days with a smile on their face.

“But you know, since we’re talking about commitment, perhaps we should take a small step forward.”

“What? Do you want to change status on Facebook?”

“Well, first I’m impressed you even know what Facebook is, and second I updated all our social media weeks ago.”

“Then what are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about getting a Soulmate Certificate from the SID. To make things completely official.”

“Things?”

“Us,” she corrected. “To make us official.”

“But aren’t we already?”

“Technically yes, but earlier your mother almost stopped me from seeing you because I didn’t have a certificate and I wasn’t listed as your emergency contact…”

“Oh my god… I completely forgot to make the changes and – wait my mother was here?”

“Yeah. I guess they called her because you forgot to update your emergency contact list… but it doesn’t matter now. What’s done, is done.”

“We’ll get that certificate first thing in the morning tomorrow.”

“Maybe not first thing in the morning,” Felicity laughed, amused by the look of sheer determination on his face. “But I’ll look into it. I wonder what it entails exactly.”

“What do you mean?”

“I wonder what kind of rights and legitimacy it gives us. Let’s say, tomorrow I end up in the hospital. Who makes decisions? You or my mother?”

“Let’s not talk about any of us ending in the hospital, okay? I think we’ve had our fair share of hospitals for the next couple of years.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.” She leaned down and kissed his cheek. “Go to sleep now?” She asked.

“Just one more thing,” he told her.

“What?”

“My jacket,” he pointed at a chair where someone had put his personal belongings.

“What about it?”

“Your present is inside.”

A delighted smile stretched her lips. She got up and went to retrieve the small square box. She opened it and got out a key with a nerd emoji keychain. “What does it open?”

“My apartment. And before you freak out again, no, I’m not asking you to move in with me. This is… this is another step forward.” Felicity smiled. “The empty drawer in which you found the box was part of the gift. I cleared it so that you could put some of your stuff in it. For when you stay over,” he quickly added.

“You’re assuming I’ll be staying over…” He gave her a look and she couldn’t help but kiss him briefly on the lips. “I’m just messing with you.”

“I’ve been thinking about everything you said about the bubble and not getting lost in each other and honestly, I think it’s a pile of crap-” she opened her mouth to protest but he was faster than her, “just hear me out, okay? The truth is, it’s already too late. You’re all I can think about, even when we’re apart. I’m not saying we have to spend every moment together, I’m just saying it’s stupid to try and regulate the time we spend together. Because quite frankly, even when you’re not with me physically, you are with me. You’re in my every thought. You’re in my soul, mate…”

She laughed. “Oh my god, that was terrible! Especially your British accent.” She paused for a second. “But your speech was pretty great. And you’re right. It’s stupid to try and regulate something that wasn’t meant to be. Let’s just live.”

Oliver smiled. “Now, we can sleep,” he told her, motioning for her to lie back down beside him.

She did and closed her eyes, letting the exhaustion of the day wash over her.

“Felicity?”

“Hm?” She replied sleepily.

“I’m sorry you didn’t have the birthday of your dreams.”

“It’s okay,” she sighed, settling more heavily against him, letting his warmth surround her. “There’ll be other birthdays but there’s only one you. I take you well and healthy over the birthday of my dreams every day.”

She felt him smile and it was the last thing she remembered before darkness took over and she fell asleep.

The next morning as filled with doctors and nurses’ visits and paperwork. Roy and Thea came back before midday with fresh clothes for both Oliver and Felicity. Finally, Oliver was discharged from the hospital with orders from the doctor to stay at home and rest for at least two weeks.

“Two weeks?” He repeated as they made their way out of the hospital. “What about Q. Inc?”

“You can work from home if you don’t push yourself,” his sister reminded him as Felicity pushed his wheelchair.

“And I’ll handle things at Q. Inc,” she added. “Don’t worry about the company, just focus on getting better.”

He adjusted his position in the chair. “I can walk just fine,” he sighed.

“Hospital’s rules,” Felicity reminded him, exchanging a look with Thea.

“Ollie’s terrible at being sick,” the brunette whispered in her ear. “Good luck dealing with him.”

Felicity just smiled at her in reply. They stopped by her apartment before going to Oliver’s. Felicity packed a few things, she would be staying at Oliver’s until he had fully recovered. She was going to spend most of her evenings there anyway, to check on him and tell him about her day at Q. Inc, so it made sense for her to spend the nights there as well. She wasn’t worried at all about leaving her mother and Roy alone. They went along pretty well and they were extremely good for each other. For a long time, Roy had been alone and deprived of affection and Donna was such a joyous and generous woman, she was flooding him with motherly love and care – which he accepted As for Roy, he provided Donna with a good distraction. She had been through a lot and it was good for her to have someone to take care of and just go mother hen on.

Her mother wasn’t home but it was just as well. Felicity and Thea had to be quick, with Oliver and Roy waiting in the car.

“We should take Arrow with us,” Thea said from where she was petting the cat on Felicity’s bed. “To keep Oliver company during the day.”

Felicity chuckled but didn’t follow through on Thea’s suggestion. Arrow loved Roy and he loved her too, although he’d never admitted as much out loud. It was in the little things, how he let the little ball of fur sleep with him, how he always scratched behind her ears when she was in his lap.

Less than twenty minutes later, they were back in the car and driving to Oliver’s place. He looked tired but alert. The painkillers had dulled the pain in his ribs a little but he still hurt and Felicity still felt the echo of that pain. Not that she minded it. Oddly enough, the pain reassured her and it gave her another way to check on Oliver, make sure he was alright. He could lie to people about how he felt, but not to her.

“How are you feeling?” Thea asked her brother in the elevator.

“A bit tired,” he admitted and Felicity rubbed his back to comfort him. If she had her way, and she would, he was going to spend the next couple of weeks in bed, resting.

The elevator’s doors opened and they walked out. Thea and Roy went ahead and opened the door to Oliver’s apartment. Oliver and Felicity followed behind them and her heart jumped out of her chest when she heard people scream:

“SURPRISE!”

She swayed on her feet and only Oliver’s arm wrapped around her waist to stabilize her. They were all there, their friends: Tommy and Laurel, Diggle, his wife and their son, Sara, her mother, Barry, Iris and…

“F’licity!” JJ bumped into her legs and wrapped his arms around her calves. He looked up to her, his dark brown eyes sparkling with delight.

“Heya JJ!” She replied before looking up in confusion. “What’s all this?”

“It’s a “we’re-glad-you’re-not-dead party”,” Iris explained, “as well as a birthday party!” She was holding a holding cake with candles, all twenty-one of them from the look of it.

“Now we know Oliver and Tommy need some rest,” Sara added, “so we won’t stay long but…”

“We really wanted to celebrate,” Donna concluded.

Oliver and Felicity exchanged a look. Then, she leaned down and lifted JJ in her arms. “Alright then,” she said. “That’s a lot of candles for one person. Wanna help me blow them?”

“Can I make a wish too?” He asked.

“Of course you can!” Felicity agreed, kissing his forehead. He giggled in delight, making her smile. It didn’t seem like it, but it was the perfect time for a party, however short it may be. After what had happened the previous day, she really needed the love and support of her friends.

Just like Sara had said, they didn’t drag out the party. But they did spend two solid hours together, eating cake, opening presents and just talking. It felt really good, like a sunny morning after a stormy night. After everyone was gone, Thea and Donna started cleaning things up while Felicity helped Oliver getting in bed. He was fast asleep before she had even closed the door to his bedroom. She moved back to the living-room and found Roy gathering her presents while Thea loaded the dishwater. When she saw her, Donna walked to her with a smile on her face.

“Hey, honey,” she said.

“Mom,” she replied, opening her arms for a hug.

“How are you feeling?” Donna asked, squeezing her.

“I’m fine,” she said, pulling away. “Thank you for today.”

“It was nothing,” Donna assured her. “I just – I just wish your grandmother had been here today. She’d have been so proud of you, baby girl.”

Felicity’s heart clenched as she thought of her bubbe. She had been a sweet but strong woman and most importantly, she had been there for her throughout her childhood, loving her when her mother couldn’t.

“She would have been proud of you too,” Felicity told her mother, swallowing back a lump of emotions.

Donna nodded and delicately swiped her tears away with her thumbs. “So,” she cleared her throat. “Thea told me you saw Mrs. Queen yesterday at the hospital?”

Felicity nodded, her anger at what Moira had tried to do coming back in full-force. “Yeah, I had that pleasure…” she sighed and told her mother everything. “I don’t understand why she did it,” she concluded. “It’s not like she gained everything from it. She just… humiliated herself.”

Donna sighed heavily. “I think she’s desperate.”

Felicity tilted her head. “Desperate?”

Donna nodded. “From what you’ve told me, it seems like she’s built her life on lies and lies are shaky foundations. Everything has started to crumble around her. She’s lost her children, Felicity… And maybe she wasn’t a good mother to them but it doesn’t mean some part of her didn’t love them. In my opinion, what she did was the desperate attempt of a mother trying to regain some sort of control over a situation that has completely escaped her. And maybe, just maybe, she’s realized her children meant more to her than her money and reputation.” 

Felicity pondered over her words for a second just as her eyes fell on Thea, who was hugging Roy from behind. “She’s too late.” She eventually said. “And even if she wasn’t, pulling stunts like she did last night won’t help her situation.”

“You’re right. But mothers are rarely rational where their children are concerned.”

“I never thought I’d hear you defend Moira Queen.”

Donna chuckled. “I’m not defending her. I hate her for how she treated you. Nobody is allowed to treat my baby girl like she did,” she said fiercely, cupping Felicity’s cheeks. “I’m just trying to understand her.”

“Why?”

“So that Oliver and Thea can understand her too.” She paused for a second. “They act as if they’re okay but… she’s their mother. Of course, they miss her.”

Felicity nodded.

“Now, can you remind me where the bathroom is?”

“Third door to your left.”

“Thank you honey!”

Donna left then and Felicity noticed Thea had gone too.

“She got a phone call from a school friend,” Roy told her. “They’re working on a project together apparently.”

“Oh I see.”

“Are you alright, blondie?” He asked while taking a step in her direction.

“Yeah sure I-“ her voice trailed down. “I took a page from your book,” she blurted out.

Roy arched an eyebrow. “What?”

“I told Oliver I loved him yesterday at the hospital,” she whispered, to make sure nobody would hear her confession.

Roy’s eyes widened. “You did? What happened?”

“I don’t think he heard me.”

“What? No way! The guy notices everything about you. Actually, it would be kinda creepy if he weren’t your soulmate.”

“He didn’t say it back,” Felicity nervously said.

“Okay, so perhaps he didn’t hear you after all. I mean, everything was crazy last night. Your big declaration must have been lost in the confusion.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Felicity agreed while she nervously played with the ring she was wearing. “I’m kinda relieved he didn’t hear me though, you know? Now, I’ve got another chance to tell him properly and not blurt it out like I did last night.”

“A word of advice? Don’t overthink it, blondie. If you blurt it out again, it’s fine. Look how well it worked out for me!”

“What are you kids talking about?” Donna asked from the hallway.

“Nothing,” Felicity replied. “Just silly stuff.”

The next two weeks went by in a blur of activity for Felicity. She spent her days working at Q. Inc and her nights with Oliver, filling him in about what had happened at work and discussing business related stuff with him. Obviously, they did other things aside from talking about work, but Felicity still felt as if her life revolved entirely around Q. Inc. She didn’t mind it much, she had never been one to refuse a challenge, but she missed Oliver’s presence at work. They were partners, in the true sense of the word, and she was looking forward to him coming back to work at the beginning of the following week.

They had also started the administrative procedure to get a soulmate certificate from the SID. It didn’t work like a marriage certificate at all but for example, if Felicity was injured and Oliver disagreed with Donna about the treatment, the certificate granted him enough legitimacy for the case to be brought up before a judge, who would decide in his favor or Donna’s.

On Friday morning, she came to work with her mind entirely focused on the weekend. Sunday would be the anniversary of the day she had first taken the Med on. It would also be the anniversary of Oliver’s accident. That day would always be a particularly emotionally charged day for them. But they wanted to turn those negative emotions into something happier. They’d never forget the bad memories but with time they hoped the happy memories would outweigh them and turn this fateful day of March into a bright one.

She was getting ready for a conference call at eleven and a half when the delivery man came in, later than usual.

“Good morning, Ms. Smoak,” he greeted her with a gentle smile on his face.

“Good morning, Peter. I thought I’d never see you today.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Smoak, the traffic is crazy today because of the rally.”

“The rally? Oh yeah, Mr. Rollins is making a speech in Starling City today,” she remembered. Andrew Rollins was the head of a pro-soulmate lobby that fought for the regulation of the Med.

“It’s all crap if you want my opinion Ms. Smoak,” Peter told her. “How is forcing people to be with their soulmate any different from forcing people not to be with them like they did in the Middle Ages?” He shook his head while Felicity nodded. “We should let people be with who they want to be.” She agreed with him entirely. She didn’t believe in regulating the Med. Stopping soulmates from being together had been a mistake in the past, but forcing them to be together now would be one as well. “Hey, do you have any family left in Nevada?” Peter asked her, tearing her away from her thoughts.

“Not anymore, why?”

“Because you got a package from Nevada.” He put a box on her desk, along with a bunch of letters.

Intrigued, Felicity lifted the box and shook it, trying to guess its content. It was surprisingly light for something so big.

“Well thank you, Peter. I’ll open it right away. Have a good day!”

“You too, Ms. Smoak.”

She waited until Peter was out of sight to open the box. Q. Inc’s address had been printed meaning she couldn’t even recognize the handwriting of the sender. She looked for their address, whoever they were, but there was none. Odd. She grabbed a utility knife and quickly opened the box. She frowned at the sight of brown washed-out fur. She looked up and met two button-eyes she had looked at a lot during her childhood. She let go of the box with a yelp and it landed with a soft thud on her desk. She took a couple steps back, her breathing erratic. Pausing for a second, she forced herself to inhale deeply. When she was a bit calmer, she took a few steps forward, her heart in her throat. It was still there, her childhood’s teddy, with a beige silk ribbon tied around its neck and a black thread triangle in lieu of a nose. With shaking hands, she reached for the toy and lifted it, slowly and carefully, as if it might break, or worse, disappear again, if she was too abrupt.

She lifted one of the bear’s paws and when she saw the seam of black thread, she was brought back to a sunny day of summer in Vegas where she had torn her teddy bear while playing outside in a park. Her bubbe, who had been watching her, had immediately offered to fix the toy and because Felicity had been extremely worried, she had used her doctor’s kit to get the bear to sleep before its surgery. They had even put a band-aid with dog prints on it over the injury afterward. Her bubbe’s neat work was still holding, even after all these years and she was staring right at it. It really was her teddy. Clutching the bear to her chest, she leaned above the box again and noticed a flash drive. She grabbed it and plugged it in her computer. Her brain was on autopilot. She wasn’t thinking about what she was doing, she was just doing it, like a robot.

There was an encrypted file on the flash drive and a video. Her hands were shaking so badly, she had to try three times before she could open it. A small choked sound escaped her when she saw a man with light grey hair and piercing blue eyes so much like her own appear on screen.

“Felicity.” She pressed the space bar so hard she thought for a second she had broken it. But it worked and the video paused. Breathing through her nose, she braced herself for what was to come.

“Felicity, it’s me, Noah. Your father. If you’re watching this video, it means I’m dead. I’ve arranged for this package to be sent to you if anything were to happen to me… I guess something must have happened if you’re watching this… I’m sorry, I’m repeating myself, I’m kind of improvising here.” Her father cleared his throat. “If you haven’t already stopped this video and smashed the flash drive then you must wonder why I’m sending you this after all this time, especially if I’m no longer part of this world. Well, the truth is I feel like I owe you, and your mother, an explanation. I don’t expect anything from either of you, especially if I’m dead. I just—I just want you to know the truth about me.” He paused for a second that felt so long, Felicity had the time to consider stopping the video and actually smash the flash drive. The only thing that stopped her was the little girl who had always longed for her father’s love and approval tugging at her heart.

“I’m not a good man, Felicity, but then you’ve probably figured that one out already, haven’t you? I’m not a good man and very often I associated myself with people I would not recommend. Your mother believed I was working at a tech store but I wasn’t. I won’t dive into the details because I’m not here to confess my sins, I’m here to tell you who I was and I was a criminal. I angered some people and when I realized they might go after you and your mother, I decided to leave in order to protect you. I can already see you roll your eyes at me and think I’m making this up but I swear I’m not. I started taking the Med, went off the radar and for a long time, I managed to escape from my past by pretending I was dead. I betrayed myself over a year and a half ago when I tracked down the man who went by the name Cooper Seldon.” Felicity’s mouth opened in surprise.

“Yes, it was me who tracked down Cooper and yes, I was the one who sent the anonymous tip the FBI received. I don’t know what to say, Felicity… I left to protect you and you ended up in the arms of a monster anyway...” He looked down for a second, his sorrow betrayed by the tremors in his voice. “You probably don’t want to hear it but I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to go through so much, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to protect you, I’m sorry I couldn’t be the father you needed me to be.” His voice shook and he waited a second before he spoke again.

“I’m sure you don’t give a shit about me and my feelings right now but perhaps, with time, you’ll hate me less than you do right now and you’ll want to hear what you father thinks so let me tell you this: I couldn’t be prouder of you. In spite of everything, you grew up into this smart and successful young woman who graduated from MIT with two master degrees, outsmarting your old man in the process. I know it wasn’t easy for you to graduate after what happened with Cooper and I also know you haven’t exactly put your degrees to use since you started working at Q. Inc but here’s the thing… You’ve loved computers since you were old enough to go to kindergarten. Instead of playing with dolls, you played with hard drives, keyboards and computer screens. Tech is part of who you are and that monster… He’s just a malware. A horrible malware, but just malware. He can’t take away your tech, your firewalls are just too strong to let him.” He shook his head. “I realize I sound super lame but what can I say? I’m a dad. A terrible one, but still. And what I’m trying to say is, don’t let this guy ruin the one things that has always made you happy. Don’t let him win, kiddo.” Felicity was startled when she felt something wet fall on her hand. She was crying.

“I’ve left a letter for your mother in the package. Please, give it to her. As for the encrypted file on the flash drive… It’s the information to my bank account in the Caymans. I was a lucrative criminal you see? You can share the money with your mother. I know it won’t make up for years of absence but it’ll help the two of you spend the rest of your lives without having to worry about money ever again. That’s the least I can do after everything I’ve put you through. Now, it’s time for me to tell you goodbye, kiddo. I wish for you to have the most amazing career ever but more importantly, I wish for you to live a long and happy life with your soulmate, filled with laughter and children. And please know that whatever you do, you’ll always make me proud and I will always love you.”

For the longest time after the video ended, Felicity remained perfectly still, her tears silently rolling down her cheeks. She wasn’t seeing and hearing anything around her. The world could have been ending and she would have been none the wiser. It occurred to her she might be in shock. Still, she didn’t move, didn’t do anything. She was caught in a moment of absolute numbness and didn’t know how to get herself out of her stupor.

In the end, it was the shrilling sound of her phone ringing that forced her to move.

“Hello,” she said, not bothering to hide her tear laced voice.

“Felicity?”

Her heart kicked in her chest at the sound of his voice. The numbness left her body and suddenly, she was overwhelmed with feelings.

Pain. Betrayal. Anger. Grief.

They all exploded inside her, leaving her an incoherent breathless mess.

“What’s going on? Talk to me, Felicity!”

“Oh, Oliver–” She choked on the rest of her sentence.

“What is it?”

“It’s– it’s about my father. He–” She covered her mouth to muffle a sob.

“He what?”

“I can’t talk about this over the phone,” she cried out. “I’ll come over,” she told him, about to hang up.

“Felicity wait!

His anguish was so raw, it pierced through the turmoil of her emotions. He had her immediate attention in a second. “What?”

“Don’t drive,” he said at last. “You’re upset.” Understatement of the century. “Please don’t drive, take a cab.” There was a tremor in his voice that betrayed something extremely vulnerable in him and she knew she couldn’t refuse him.

“Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll take a cab.”

She hung up then and gathered her purse, the teddy bear and the flash drive. She left her desk without ever looking back.

The ride to Oliver’s place passed in a blur. She was lost in her thoughts, her father’s words playing on a loop in her mind.

“I’m here to tell you who I was and I was a criminal.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be the father you needed me to be.”

“Please know that whatever you do, you’ll always make me proud and I will always love you.”

Oliver was waiting for her with his door opened when she arrived. His eyes immediately fell on the teddy bear in her arms and they widened as understanding dawned upon him.

“Is that what I think it is?”

She had eventually told him the story of the day her father had left so of course he would recognize the childhood friend she had lost along him.

“It is,” she confirmed.

She sounded calmer than she had over the phone, she had stopped crying some time during the ride over.

“Tell me what happened.” Oliver sat on the couch and tugged on her hand so that she’d sit next to him. He didn’t let go of her hand as she started talking and told him everything about the package and the message on the flash drive.

“Do you want to listen to it again together?” He asked when she was done.

She nodded and they played the video again on his laptop.

When it was over, Oliver let out the breath he’d been holding.

“I’m sorry, Felicity, I’m so sorry.” Were his first words. He brought her hand to his lips instead and kissed her knuckles.

She snorted as more tears welled up in her eyes. “Me too.”

She looked away from him and he let her, giving her the time and space she needed to organize her thoughts.

But she couldn’t.

She didn’t know what to think, even less what she was feeling.

“I’m so confused,” she eventually said. “He’s been gone for over fifteen years and now he’s sending me a three-minute video telling me he was never really gone and suddenly I’m supposed to be okay? How can a three-minute video make up for fifteen years of absence?”

“It doesn’t,” Oliver was quick to tell her. “And I don’t think that’s what he wanted.”

“Good! Because it doesn’t make things better. If anything, it makes them worse! Knowing he was so close, knowing he kept tabs on me while I couldn’t do the same for him…” She buried her face in her hands and Oliver rubbed her back as she cried all the tears she had in her body. Shortly after her father left, she’d stopped crying, not wanting to shed a tear on a man who could so easily turn his back on his family. But they were all coming out now and there was no stopping them.

She slid off the couch and Oliver went with her, holding her close to him as she soaked the fabric of his shirt. He held her tight, keeping her together as she broke apart in his arms.

“I hate him so much!” She sobbed and Oliver let her even though they both knew it wasn’t true.

Her emotions went as deep as the ocean and she probably would have drowned in her anger and grief if Oliver hadn’t been there with her, keeping her solidly anchored to the ground. His love, so strong and beautiful, was the lighthouse keeping her sane even as the most violent storm raged inside her. With gentle touches, soft kisses and comforting words, he helped calm her, until they were both sitting on the floor, their backs to the couch, and tightly clinging to the other.

“I hate him so much,” she repeated, but her words had lost their venom.

Slowly, Oliver untangled himself from her and grabbed a box of tissues on his coffee table. He remained silent as she dried her cheeks and blew her nose.

“How can he still affect me this much after all this time?”

“He’s your father,” Oliver reminded her. “He’ll always affect you, just like my parents will always affect me.” He took both her hands in his and squeezed her fingers. “May I?” He asked and the seriousness she could feel in him told her he had something important to say.

“Your father and I have both failed you, Felicity.” She opened her mouth to protest but he stopped her. “Please, let me finish.” She nodded, not liking where he was going but respecting him enough to let him say the words. “We’ve both failed you. We made you feel unloved and unwanted. Him, when he left you, and me, when I was sleeping my way through my teen years. The mistakes we made… they made you withdraw into yourself and prevented your from trusting people and opening up to them.” Again, she opened her mouth but he didn’t let her speak. “I know. It wasn’t just us. But still, we are both partly to blame for your trust issues.” He paused for a second, carefully picking his next words. “I don’t think your father made this video to make up for his absence. He made it so that you would know why he did what he did. He made it to give you closure. Now, you don’t have to understand his reasons. It’s actually okay if you don’t accept them and if you’re mad at him. I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect you to forgive him. As he said, he just wanted you to know the truth so that you would stop wondering, so that you would stop blaming yourself.”

“I wasn’t–”

“And yet you were!” He cut her off. “Remember when you told me you thought he had left because you’d messed up with his computer? Some parts of you thought you had caused him to leave. Just like some parts of you thought you weren’t good enough for me.”

She looked down, her heart clenching painfully in her chest.

“But now… now you know it wasn’t something you did that caused him to leave. You wanted closure and you have it. It will take you some time to process everything you’ve learnt and if you want to be angry, it’s completely okay. You may never be able to forgive him but you can start forgiving yourself. You can start healing.”

She looked up again and met his eyes. Her heart swelled in her chest with pride and love as she stared at this amazing man, wondering what she’d done to deserve him.

She had been confused and unable to decipher her thoughts and emotions but he had, and he had found the right words. He’d said what she needed to hear and she had never been more grateful for him than she was in this moment.

“I love you,” she said, unable to hold back the words for another second. “I love you so much, Oliver,” she said again, as the look on his face morphed to a look of sheer happiness. “Thank you for being my soulmate.”

He didn’t say anything, just crashed his lips against hers in a searing kiss.

He tugged on her hands to bring her closer to him and she let him, as eager to feel him against her as he was. She ended up straddling his lap, her fingers madly running through his hair while he kissed her deeper than he ever had before.

When her lungs started to burn from the lack of air, they pulled apart. She threw her head back and let out a deep sigh of pleasure. Oliver, who couldn’t seem to be able to let go of her, nudged the collar of her blouse open before trailing open-mouthed kisses down the column of her throat and to her collarbone. She gasped when he sucked on her collarbone, marking her. She dug her nails in his neck, leaving a mark of her own on his skin.

He found her mouth again and started kissing her with renewed passion. He moved one of his hands to the back of her head and angled it so that he could kiss her just how he wanted to. He took possession of her mouth with his lips and tongue and she let him, surrendering to all the things he was making her feel.

For a moment, they were just doing that, kissing the other as if there was no tomorrow. They kissed and nipped and sucked and loved each other with their lips and tongues until they could no longer think and just feel. Felicity’s heart was so overwhelmed, with everything she was feeling – love, passion, desire – and everything he was feeling – love, passion, desire – she thought it was going to burst where it was pounding in her chest.

Once again, they parted to get some air. This time, it was Felicity’s turn to explore him and she did it, eagerly kissing down the line of his jaw. His scruff rasped against her softer one in the most delicious way. She felt him shiver against her when she pressed kisses down his throat and she felt a thrill run through her as she realized the power she had over him. It was only fair since he held so much over her as well.

He didn’t stay still as she kissed him. His hands moved to the front of her blouse and deftly unbuttoned it. He then pushed it open, his fingers caressing her skin as he revealed it to his hungry eyes. She gasped when his thumbs brushed her hard nipples through the lace of her bra. She pulled away from him and met his eyes. His pupils were entirely dilated, the blue lost in a sea of black.

“Oliver,” she breathed out.

“Felicity,” he all but growled.

A heartbeat passed before they were kissing again. They parted so that Oliver could get rid of his Henley and the tee he was wearing under it. Meanwhile, Felicity threw her blouse away carelessly. She swallowed when she saw Oliver shirtless again. It didn’t matter that she had seen him without a shirt on countless times before, he was so beautiful he still took her breath away.

Her eyes caught the bruise on his ribs, where he had been hurt two weeks ago. She could have lost him then, just like she could have lost him in the car accident that had scarred his back.

“I’m alright,” he assured her, having followed her thoughts.

She smiled, but she still needed to touch him, needed to feel his life beneath her palm. She dragged her nails down one pec and his abs flexed. She grinned but he was quick to kiss her triumph off her. She bit his lower lip in reply. His groan of approval made her positively thrum. His hands moved to her back, where they unclasped her bra. Her insides tightened in anticipation. Heat pooled low in her belly as he hooked his thumbs in the straps and dragged them down her arms.

He leaned down and placed a kiss on her chest, right where her heart was beating like crazy against her ribs. Then he swiftly rolled them over, until she was lying on the floor with him on top of her. She kicked off her heels as he slowly started kissing down her body. And where he didn’t kiss her skin, he caressed her with both hunger and reverence. When his lips found her soulmark, she arched her back as sparks of pleasure jolted through her. She could almost see the thread connecting them when she closed her eyes, fed as it was by the intensity of what they were both feeling. It was strong and vibrant and so beautiful.

He kissed her soulmark again and she rubbed her thighs together, anything to relieve the ache she was feeling. Oliver looked up, grinning and he looked so incredibly young with his cheeky smile and messed up hair, she willed herself to commit this moment to memory. She wanted to remember him looking this happy and this carefree.

“I’ll take care of it,” he told her, nudging her thighs open.

She felt herself blush, but she didn’t know if it was because of his words or because of how quickly she spread her legs for him. He was quick to rid her of her tights and skirt. She was soon naked, except for the thong she had worn to work, and writhing beneath him, but he seemed to be in no hurry to touch her where she wanted, no scratch that, where she needed him the most.

He kissed his way back up and captured her lips for another passionate kiss that stole what little breath she had left.

“Oliver,” she whimpered, tugging at his hair, when he moved from her lips to her cheeks, her nose, her jaw, everywhere but down where she wanted him.

Finally, he slipped his hand in her underwear and found her clit. She moaned loudly when he lazily circled it with his thumb. With his free hand, he caressed her breasts, his thumb grazing one nipple then the other. She sucked in a breath and arched her back, pressing her body closer to his. Just the feeling of his hot flesh against hers was enough to light a fire inside her.

“Oh god,” she panted, when he spread her wetness, coating his fingers in her essence. He slipped one finger, then two, inside her and she groaned her approval, loudly.

“You feel so fucking good,” he whispered against her lips, his voice breathy.

“Right back at you,” she replied, nipping at his lower lip.

He chuckled and pressed his lips to her for another kiss. He set up a rhythm with his fingers inside of her and his thumb on her clit, rapidly bringing her to the edge of an orgasm. His pleasure was meddling with hers, making her feeling things tenfold.

“Oliver,” she panted between kisses as she felt something coil deep inside of her. She ground up on his hand, needing more, craving more. “Oliver,” she repeated, begging for more.

His mouth left her lips and he moved down, sucking on her left nipple, while he fondled the right one with his free hand. She felt the tension inside her grow tighter, ready to snap. But, in spite of Oliver’s desire fueling her inner fire, she wasn’t quite there yet and he felt it. He released her breasts, making her whimper at the loss of contact, and moved downer. He replaced his fingers inside her with his tongue and she yelped when he just dived in, and sucked on her clit.

Her toes curled and she cried out, loud enough to make her feel self-conscious for a second, until she realized he loved how loud she was being. 

“Fuck,” she cursed. “Oliver, you– I– fuck–” she babbled incoherently as he flattened his tongue against her clit.

She gripped his hair and pressed to bring him and his wicked tongue closer to her core. He started building her up again, the sensation of his scruff against her inner thigh added to the things he was doing to her, in her, with his tongue were sending her higher and higher.

He touched her breasts with his hands, and sucked on her clit, hard. She felt her body tense and then she was falling over the edge, shouting his name, as waves and waves of pleasure crashed through her.

He helped her down from her high by kissing her, the tangy taste of her on his tongue making something inside her throb.

More.

She wanted more.

“Told you I’d take care of it,” he whispered in the shell of her ear and there was no mistaking his smugness.

“Let’s take care of you now,” she told him when she recovered enough of her bearings. She eagerly reached for the fly of his pants but he must have sensed that she intended to do more than help him find his release because he caught her wrists to stop her.

She arched an eyebrow in question.

He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers. He was fighting with himself to regain his control but she wanted none of that. “I’m not sure this is a good idea,” he eventually said.

“Why?”

“You’ve been through a lot today, we shouldn’t–“

“Oliver,” she cut him off, “I’ve never been surer of anything else in my life before. I want you. I want to be yours. Completely.”

Her words left no room for interpretation. She was ready for them to replace the fragile thread connecting them with something far stronger and unbreakable. She wanted to complete their bond.

“Oliver,” she said, kissing the line of his jaw until she reached his ear, “make love to me,” she whispered, speaking both with her voice and with her heart.

His resistance came tumbling down like a house of cards. Before she knew it, he was up on his feet and she was in his arms. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he walked them to his room, pure determination lighting his gaze.

He let her fall on her back on his bed and she raised herself on her elbows to watch him as he undid his pants and pushed them down his legs. She bit her lower lip, anticipation tightening her insides once again, when he stepped out of them before joining her on the mattress.

He leaned in and kissed her, softly, gently.

When they parted, he pressed his forehead against hers again, and she felt him shiver where his body pressed against her.

She put a hand on his chest, over his heart, and smiled when she felt it pound in time with hers. His soulmark was bigger than she had ever seen it.

“Condom?” He asked.

“I’m on the pill,” she replied. “You clean?”

He nodded, his nose rubbing against hers.

“Good,” she said. They had been separated by various things throughout their life. She didn’t want anything between them, not even protection, when they finally came together and became one.

“Felicity–” Oliver whispered, nuzzling her cheek gently.

“Kiss me already!” She commanded.

He did as he was told and brought his lips to hers. She keened when his tongue sought hers. It amazed her how strongly he affected her, even with such a simple gesture – compared to all the other things they had done in and outside the bedroom.

He rolled on top of her and they shed the rest of their clothes, their underwear, together, slowly, reverently. They were both aware there would be no coming back after that, they would be tied together for eternity. It was without the shadow of a doubt the most important moment of their lives and they wanted to commit it to memory.

Once they were naked, they took their time kissing each other leisurely and caressing their bodies slowly, gently, mapping the other with their fingers. The experience felt almost religious to Felicity. She touched his body like one would pray at an altar, and she worshipped him, the other-half of her. And she found grace when he touched her back and worshipped her as well, loving her the same way she loved him.

It left them both shaking, shaking with lust, desire, love and reverence.

Until finally, she felt his cock brush against her wet folds. She whimpered at the sensations it elicited within her. She sucked in a breath when she felt him grab himself and position his length at her entrance.

“Look at me, Felicity,” he whispered, his voice making a thousand sparks of electricity explode inside her.

She opened her eyes, they had fluttered close without her realizing, and met his gaze. He started pushing inside her and the moment he did, she felt her heart swell with love in her chest. The thread of their connection stretched, bringing their souls closer, as they physically joined.

She felt some pain and she let out a sharp breath and then he was buried inside her, her thighs gently cradling his hips.

He remained perfectly still inside her, letting her get used to the sensation. She wanted to tell him it was pointless, she’d never get used to feel him so close, but she didn’t. She focused on what she felt instead, on how incredible he felt inside her. The physical discomfort was mild, drowned by the love she felt coming from both of them. He peppered her face with kisses and she closed her eyes, letting him her kiss her everywhere.

“You good?” He asked against her lips.

“Yeah,” she nodded.

He captured her lips as he started moving against her, slowly, as he was trying to figure out what she liked. Her feet fell in the crook of his legs and she panted in pleasure. The more he moved inside her, the more she felt the tension from before build inside her again. The sensations were made even more intense because she felt him take as much pleasure as he was giving her.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said against her ear.

“You make me beautiful,” she replied breathlessly.

He pulled back and thrust back in, harder than before, making her gasp. He reached for her hand, which had been raking his sides, making goosebumps break all over his skin, and placed them on either side of her head on the bed. He intertwined their fingers as he set a faster pace, bringing them closer to their release.

They started kissing again, their tongues meeting in time with his thrusts inside her.

Felicity was feeling so full, both in her core and in her heart, it was almost too much for her to handle. And so she didn’t and she abandoned herself to the moment, to Oliver.

He took everything she had to give, giving back just as much.

He let go of one of her hands and reached down for her clit. It didn’t take long for her to go over the edge. Lights exploded behind her eyelids and he caught his name on her lips with his own. Her release triggered his own and she felt him still above her as he emptied himself inside her. She clutched his shoulder with her free hand, holding on for dear life.

“God, you’re amazing,” he told her as the delicious, pleasure laden fog lifted from their minds.

“Right back at you,” she said again, earning a grin from him.

He pressed a chaste kiss to her mouth and slipped out of her. She immediately missed him.

He got up from the bed, unashamed in his nudity and threw over his shoulder “be right back” before slipping inside the bathroom.

Felicity smiled as her fingers found her soulmark.

Touching the mark on her skin felt like a slap that cleared out the last remnants of pleasure inside her.

Panic seized her heart as she realized that, as good as this had been, it hadn’t been great. She hadn’t felt anything in her soulmark during their bonding.

Her fingers clutching the comforter on Oliver’s bed, she felt tears prickle at the corner of her eyes when she realized she wasn’t feeling their soulmate bond, just the same fragile thread connecting them.

They hadn’t bonded.