* * * * * * * * * *
“Many times I tried to tell you. Many times I cried alone,” sloppy hands held onto the mike stand atop the hunk of wood generously named a stage. “Always I'm surprised how well you cut my feelings to the bone. Don't want to leave you really. I've invested too much time to give you up that easy, to the doubts that complicate your mind,”
Barry may have a mystical ability to run fast, but Felicity seems to have an uncanny ability to keep in tune even when she is table dancing drunk. The camera shakes slightly with every ripple of movement caused by Cisco’s laughter as he documents the night for Caitlin while she's in the hospital. After she twisted her ankle in her heels she demanded they document their fun so she could live it vicariously.
The bar as a whole has decided to give her their undivided attention. Nothing can be heard but the occasional chuckle and the occasional cheer of encouragement. It is evident to everyone here that the song means a lot to Felicity.
Its meaning flows through every movement of her tired head bouncing with emphasis. In the same way that it seems to be helping her through her troubles, it also seems to mean something to several patrons of the bar. Some sing under their breath with her. Whispers of what could have been in another life. In another time.
“We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder. We belong to the sound of the words we've both fallen under. Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better. We belong, we belong, we belong together,” magenta lips part to sadly continue their unrequited love song.
Strong arms sling around her waist to keep her upright as she does nothing to regain her footing, too enraptured in the depth of blue eyes that compliment her own. “Careful ‘Lis. Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Trip on a crack and break your own,” he laughed.
They are ten when Felicity realizes what her Mother means when she says “Your father and I were meant to be together”. She is meant to be with Oliver.
“Maybe it's a sign of weakness when I don't know what to say. Maybe I just wouldn't know what to do with my strength anyway,”
Her arms hold him tight as he cries. Sobs escaping the body in her grasp. Her hands card through cropped hair as she tries desperately to think of something to make it better. Something that can take away the pain of losing a father; anything. She doesn’t know how to express her compassion. How to take away a pain that is still so heavily set inside herself since her own father walked out on her family.
But Oliver’s father was taken from him. He didn’t choose to leave. In a sick way, Oliver is lucky. He doesn’t have to live with the guilt of knowing that he wasn’t loved. That he wasn’t good enough for his father. His father loved him. It’s the only thing she says to him. His answering tears let her know she hasn’t done much.
“Close your eyes and try to sleep now," sad blue eyes close to the audience around them. Sorrow fills her mind at the lyrics, "Close your eyes and try to dream. Clear your mind and do your best to try and wash the palette clean,”
"You don't mean that," echoes across the empty warehouse walls.
"Don't try to tell me how I feel. That's exactly what I'm talking about. You can't stay here for me because I don't want you to. I want you to leave for Massachusetts and forget I exist!" Reverberating stomps are heard exiting the building before a word of opposition can be uttered.
"But I love you," she whispers through her silent tears.
“We can't begin to know it, how much we really care. I hear your voice inside me; I see your face everywhere,”
Bright eyes smile down at her after winning her first science fair at eight.
Hands hold her own as they run to his house to sneak back in for the night.
Hearts thud against ribs in the darkness as their first drunken night ends with his arms around her, spooning the next morning. Pretending nothing happened.
Depression overwhelms her as he leaves her cold and alone in their secret getaway.
“Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better, we belong, we belong, we belong together,” tears form in her eyes as the song fades out.
The blonde side-steps off the stage accidentally. Barry jumps across the expanse in order to catch his friend. Felicity buries her face into his chest, "I want to go home, Barry".
"Okay," he says lifting her into his arms in a bridal hold.
"We'll take you back to the apartment," Cisco says coming up with their things in his hands, as well as, the recorder still filming.
"No, I want to go home. To Oliver. Take me to Oliver. He didn't mean those things he said"
"I don't know who that is, Lis. Who's Oliver?" Outside they walk two blocks to their apartment building where the three of them rent a loft together.
Barry places Felicity's lithe body across the couch. The blonde in turn clenched and unclenched her fingers like a child with grabby hands. "Need my phone"
Cisco handed her pink phone to her. Both men watched as she groggily pulled up photos on her phone. Her fingers slowly caressed the image on screen of her with a taller man who must've been Oliver.
"Is that him?" Cisco asked softly.
"Yeah, he's a stud, right?" She asked through a pained grin.
"He's not nearly as hot as me, though" Barry joked taking the phone from her hand as she began to doze off.
"I love you, Oliver" she mumbled in her daze, pulling her legs into her chest to sleep. Barry covered her with the blanket draped on the couch.
"And there you go, Cait. You missed Felicity finally opening up to us," Barry spoke into the camera. "And here is the guy, just in case she doesn't remember this tomorrow," he lifts the image to the camera.
THREE DAYS LATER
"What is that?" The guy in the red shirt asked. He was sitting at a table drawing out shapes then naming them.
"I can see those bio classes are doing wonders for your brain," the cameraman replied. Then he slowed his speech in a mocking tone, "This is a camera"
Red shirt threw a crumbled paper at the camera, laughing along. "Very funny, Cisco. Why're you filming me do chemistry homework?"
"I'm testing out the camera. I haven't used it in a while. I promised Cait that I'd document tonight for her. I think she's lonely"
"A twisted ankle will do that to you. Thank God she comes home tomorrow, though,"
Oliver is watching the video that someone sent him. The email was from a "Barry Allen". All it said was, "You should visit. This was Tuesday night". And it had a video attachment. So, Oliver is doing the only sensible option when a stranger sends you a cryptic email with a video; watch the video.
So far the video was nothing to do with him. He didn't know the guy in the red shirt and he had no idea who "Cisco" was. Or "Cait".
"What are you doing?" John queries from behind him. Oliver turns at the voice. He hadn't heard his best friend come in. Instead of pausing the video, Oliver silences it.
"Watching a video that will probably kill me in seven days"
"Does that mean it'll kill Felicity, too?" John asks pulling up a chair next to Oliver at his kitchen table.
"What?" Quickly Oliver's eyes dart to the laptop screen where his friend's face is plastered. Rewinding to where he'd left off Oliver hikes the volume back up.
"Thank God she comes home tomorrow though. She's the only one that Felicity talks to and I think something's bothering her," red shirt lowers his voice as he speaks.
"I noticed too," cameraman confirmed.
"And that's why I don't like blue cheese," cameraman says out of nowhere. "Oh, hey Lis. I was just telling Barry about enzymes" At his words the red shirt turns around.
"Cisco, no matter how many enzyme stories you tell, they will never be interesting," Felicity smiles.
"That's not what you said last night," cameram—Cisco said lecherously.
Felicity walked seductively toward the camera. "You mean last night? When we were discussing your girlfriend's twisted ankle?" She smiled then took the seat next to him. "You're right it's my favorite dirty talk," she deadpanned.
"For a second I thought this was turning into a really embarrassing porno," Barry announced.
Oliver mutters to John, "I did too".
"I think I just saw a vein pop in your neck," John answers.
"Cisco! You're sooooo slow," Barry whined into the camera as they walk down a city sidewalk.
"Don't listen to him. He's just been making the chemical sign for alcohol all day" Felicity says. She then reaches up her hand to mess Barry's hair like a child, "he's just cranky".
"Ha, ha. Yuck it up, my friends" Barry smiles. "If Len were here he'd protect my honor!"
"You need your boyfriend to protect you, Barry?" Cisco egged on laughing.
"No, I just prefer him to"
Felicity smiles, "he'll wrap you in her arms and ride you into the sunset on his white horse?"
Barry gasped indignantly. "What we do on our horse is none of your business, young lady!"
Felicity let out a squawk before covering her mouth with her left hand. "Oh my frack. I didn't even mean it like that!"
Cisco and Barry's laughter was all that could be heard.
John looked over to see Oliver smiling softly at the screen. He'd missed her since she left. Barely six months ago Oliver had some sort of altercation with the blonde. His lack of function for the next month was a testament to that.
Whenever the two fought, Oliver would be unable to function until they made up. But as far as John knew they fought a week before Felicity left and hadn't spoken since.
"Fe-li-ci-ty. Fe-li-ci-ty. Fe-li-ci-ty" the boys chanted together. Felicity smiled and swallows the remainder of her drink in one gulp.
By the looks of it, it isn't her first drink. Both Oliver and John watch Felicity sing her karaoke song. And both men know exactly what it means to her before she utters the words, "I want to go home to Oliver".
They see her on the couch sleeping and the picture on her phone of them hanging out in his basement. The two are smiling at each other sitting cross-legged on the floor. Thea had taken it to prove to Oliver that they were meant to be together. What she didn’t know is that Oliver already knew that fact.
He only pushed her away that day because he knew that she was thinking about staying. About staying for him. If she stayed then she would end up missing out on her dreams for nothing. Oliver isn’t worth that. Not to mention that they would both end up resenting him if he let her stay. Now that she is out there, living her dream, Oliver doesn’t see why he can’t go and visit her.
“John, you want to take a road trip?”
“I thought you’d never ask” he smiles.
* * * * * * * * *
“Stop with the pouting! I swear it wasn’t me!” Caitlin cried from the couch, exasperation written across her face at the accusation. “Do you always blame the cripple first?” she asked with a returned pout to her usually smiling lips. Dramatically the brunette hoists her legs onto the couch, elevating the left foot under a throw pillow. Even though she’d been back from the hospital for two weeks Caitlin still cashed in on the “injury” card. Cisco had made many midnight runs to the store in her place to grab ice cream or wine, which ever she craved that night.
“Crippled? You were just jumping rope,” Felicity shouts back incredulously from her spot on the love seat perpendicular to Caitlin’s own spot. “Any trace of cripple crawled right out of there”
“Come now, ladies. I’m supposed to be the snarky one,” Leonard drawls as he enters the apartment using Barry’s key. Barry had begun dating Leonard Snart five months ago after a cliché coffee shop meeting. Barry had been grabbing a coffee in the shop on the ground floor of their apartment building when he spilled his coffee on Len. He had taken Len up to their fifth floor apartment to clean him up and it felt like he never left. It took a few weeks of familiarity to become comfortable around his sarcastic humor, but eventually he became close with all four roommates. Surprisingly gentle with people he cares for, the cold demeanor melted into a comforting, if a little snarky, presence. Sauntering across the room and subsequently dropping into Felicity’s open loveseat he continues, “tell Uncle Len what’s wrong kiddies”
“Felicity, thinks I invited her friend to visit” Caitlin points an accusing finger toward her best friend.
“My friend John called me out of nowhere to say he's going to stop by and see me today. I haven’t spoken to him for two weeks and all of a sudden he drives all the way from Starling City? Who else could it have been that called him?” Felicity complained, hands shielding her eyes in consternation.
“Barry” Len breathes. His shoulders drop further into the cushions so that one was touching Felicity’s from shoulder to elbow in comfort. “Last night he had a strange phone call. I worried he was cheating, but then I remembered that he’s Barry”
From behind her hands covering her eyes Felicity lays her head upon Len’s shoulder and replies, “Barry can’t even look at another person without feeling guilty”
Len smiles, pulling down her hand to rest together, “I know. It makes watching How To Get Away With Murder so much more interesting. Out of curiosity, what’s so wrong about your friend coming to visit you?”
“It’s not John. I love Dig—that’s his nickname. There was a shovel involved and his last name is Diggle, it’s a whole thing,” she rants. “If Dig comes then he’ll definitely bring Oliver. And Oliver is a beast that I cannot face yet”
Len glances to Caitlin in confusion. He didn’t know anything about this Oliver guy. In reply Caitlin shakes her head sadly mouthing ‘old flame, bad fight’. Len nods in understanding, turning his attention back to the blonde at his side. “Do you want to… talk about it? Whatever this guy did?”
With a sigh Felicity makes an abortive shake of her head against his shoulder. She breathes out a lyric from Spirits by the strumbellas because sometimes other people’s words express emotion better. Dispiritedly she breathes against Len’s shirt, “I got guns in my head and they won’t go. Spirits in my head and they won’t go”
From her spot Caitlin continues the song in Felicity’s tempo, “but the gun still rattles, the gun still rattles”
And from the doorway they hear the continuing “oh-oh-oh” that finishes the lyric in a baritone unfamiliar to all except one. Felicity raises her head from its hiding place upon hearing John’s voice.
“Guess who I surprisingly found outside through no prior planning of my own!” Barry smiles as he heads up the party of Oliver and Diggle walking through the entrance to their loft apartment.
“Smooth, Barry. Very smooth” Caitlin cocks an eyebrow at her friend putting down overnight bags.
Len drawls with a smile. “No one here senses your sinister plotting”
“John! Hi!” Felicity jumps up to hug her friend of twelve years. “I missed you, man”
“I missed you too. That’s why I’m here” she can feel his answering smile against her hair.
Faintly Felicity can hear Barry behind her introducing Caitlin and “my boyfriend Len”. Caitlin introducing herself and adding, “my boyfriend Cisco lives here also, but he’s at work”. Taking a deep breath hidden by John’s body, Felicity gathers her courage to pull away and face Oliver.
“Hey, Oliver” she waves awkwardly from her spot by John. “It’s been a long time,” she continues.
“Yeah, it has” he responds as he awkwardly shuffles closer. Hesitating a few feet away, Oliver’s blue eyes look toward his feet before returning to Felicity’s own in question, “can I hug you too?”
With sadness her blue eyes look away from his own. A quirked eyebrow marks the pain she feels visibly as her head gives a jerk in the negative. Felicity used to dream of this very scene unfolding. What would he say to her? Declarations of love? Of disgust? More often than not, in the dark of her room, late at night, Felicity would dream of bumping into Oliver on the street. So excited to see him again, love swelling her chest, only to be sneered at because she wasn’t good enough for him. Not beautiful enough, smart enough, funny enough. She was nothing. On those nights, when she woke from her nightmare to cry alone in the light of the streetlamps cast through the window beside her bed, Felicity felt a determination never to allow such feelings again. She is a beautiful independent woman. And Oliver Queen would never be able to touch her soul again.
Hugs shouldn’t apply to this. She hugs her grandmother every Chanukkah even though she dislikes her. But this is different. If she allowed Oliver to touch her, the resolve she’s built up may crumble at her feet. Instead her left arm bends to hold her right arm close at her side defensively. “No” is all she says after a moment when their eyes meet again.
“Okay,” he breathes in understanding. “Can we talk?” Felicity doesn’t know what she hears in his voice. It could be hope, desperation, dread, fear… a plethora of emotions she doesn’t understand. But Oliver had left her. He pushed her away all those months ago. Months where she cried herself to sleep feeling abandoned once again by someone who meant the world to her. Someone she had willingly given her heart and body to. Feeling used and thrown away…
“We were driving a long time,” John cut through her musing. “Is there anywhere to grab a bite around here?”
Seeing the opportunity for what it is, Barry answers for the group. “There’s a coffee shop right downstairs. Caitlin and I can show it to you, John” Caitlin and John follow Barry to the hallway.
Len, who had risen when the men first entered, walks to Felicity’s side wordlessly. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he asks quietly, “would you like me to stay?”
The offer is almost too tempting to pass up. If Felicity gave the word, not only would Len stay he’d also come to fisticuffs with Oliver. The thought fills her with gratitude and affection for her newest friends. Friends who have gone to great lengths to try to make her happy. Giving it a moment of silent contemplation, she answers instead,“thanks, but I’ll be okay” With a small smile she adds, “bring me back a blueberry muffin?”
“And some pie,” he returns with a final gentle squeeze to her shoulder and a stare full of wordless threat to Oliver. Len follows his boyfriend and posse to the doorway. Felicity notes Barry’s silent ‘thank you’ when he threads his hand through Len’s, placing a kiss to the other man’s knuckles. They really are perfect together.
The front door closes with a small clatter. Eyes roam to hands then feet and finally to the eyes of her companion. The blue eyes that she spent day after day looking into for countless years; eyes that she has always been able to read like a favorite book. Those same eyes roam around her living room now.
“What are you doing here, Oliver?”
“Can’t I visit my best friend?” he asked lightly in an attempt to break the tension.
“I assume you mean John, because the last time we spoke you stormed out of the foundry without a backward glance telling me to forget you” she speaks. Anger growing slightly within her while her arms cross against her chest.
“I was trying to do the right thing, Felicity. I didn’t want you to consider staying in Starling,” he answers, voice raised slightly; pleadingly.
“That wasn’t your decision to make. It was mine. And you shoved me into a corner!” she shouts. “It’s so hypocritical,” a derisive chuckle falls from her lips. “You shouted at me not to force my opinions on you, but then you shun me from my own home. The only thing I could do was fly away!”
“The only thing you’ve ever talked about was going to MIT. I knew you were thinking about staying and I didn’t want that for you! You almost threw away a full scholarship to your dream school! And for what? For me? For a city that doesn’t appreciate your intellect? You would have been wasting your life!” he shouted back. Oliver never was good with anger. Or authority. When he feels threatened he tends to either lash out or become as honest as a drunk man. In the past it was a tactic both Felicity and Thea would use to get to the heart of his problems.
“But it’s my life to waste! You didn’t give me time,” the anger inside her bubbles to the surface and dissipates as quickly. All that's left is resignation. There’s no need to shelter herself from the truth. She’s already lost him anyway. “I asked you to meet me at the foundry so that I could ask you to come with me. MIT was my dream, but you were my reality. The thought of having to leave you hurt so completely that it was a physical pain,” Felicity takes a shaky breath to continue, “but then you told me that I meant nothing to you. All this time, everything we’d been through and done together, it all meant nothing,” her eyes begin to sting with the memory of that afternoon. “And I wondered how I could’ve been so wrong about it all. So wrong about who we were” turning her head to the window beyond the couch, her left hand gingerly wipes the tears falling softly down her cheeks.
“You weren’t wrong,” Oliver whispers in the now quiet space. “I wasn’t good enough for you. I’m still not good enough. I applied to all the colleges in the area and couldn’t get into any of them. What does that say about me?” taking a breath he continues, “I wanted to follow you, but the thought of dragging you down, of not being able to understand what was most important to you, it cut me, Felicity. How could I subject you to that?” Felicity’s eyes turn back to his own. The emotion behind the falling tears is too much for him so he looks away. “You deserve someone who can appreciate everything that you do,” with a deprecating tone he finishes, “that’s not me”
“Why did you come here, Oliver?” she asks again.
“Just tell me”
“I miss you. I miss you so much that sometimes I can’t breath. It’s selfish because I pushed you away, but all I want is to glue myself to you so that I don’t have to be away from you anymore”
Blue eyes no longer in tears, but wide in confusion. Lungs gasping for air as her mouth hangs open, yet refuses to take in oxygen. “What are you saying?”
Hope burns tight in her chest as he looks into her eyes, asking on a deafening whisper, “…would you ever consider giving me a chance?”
“Chance to what?” After a pregnant moment she almost begs, “please tell me”
“A chance to love you like you deserve”
Between one breath and the next Felicity is standing in front of the only man she’s ever wanted with her hands hesitantly trailing down his chest. “Yes,” she breathes. “I’d consider it” she smiles.
Without warning Felicity’s feet leave the ground. Too busy to deal with the floor while her legs wrap around Oliver’s waist in her surprise. Happiness floods her at the sight of his radiant smile. The sound of his laughter.
“What… ? Uhm, this is awkward…” interrupts a voice at the door. At the sound of it, both heads turn toward the front door to see Cisco Ramon enter. “Hey, I know you. You’re the hottie from the picture. I see what this is,” backing toward the door again he continues, “damn. Get it girl. I’ll come back later” hand on the knob Cisco turns back toward the couple, “This,” hand gesturing to the both of them, Felicity still hanging on Oliver like a howler monkey, “doesn’t save you from about fifty shovel talks”
“Get out of here Cisco! Caits in Milligan’s!” shouts the blonde.
* * * * * * * * * * *
“So what’s the deal with Felicity and Oliver?” Barry directs to John as the two sit opposite one another in the booth they chose. Len holds Barry’s hand under the table, spared from the eyes of everyone in the shop. Uncomfortable with public displays of affection that didn’t involve claiming Barry as his own in a rage of jealousy, Len prefers to be out of the public eye.
John smiles at Barry around his coffee mug. “They’ve been friends since birth. Or so Oliver claims. It’s been something like seventeen years since they first met. I think it was kindergarten”
Caitlin coos from her seat next to John. “A school yard romance!” floats on a wistful sigh. “But what’s the drama now? What did he do that was so heinous?”
Shrugging, John shakes his head, “I truly don’t know. All I know is that they had a fight a week before Felicity left and haven’t spoken since”
“Mi amor” floats Cisco’s smooth voice. Lips meeting in the middle, Cisco ducks while Caitlin lifts her head in greeting. “Are we discussing Felicity’s arm candy?” the brunette inquires, plopping down into the chair at the end of the booth.
“Cisco this is John Diggle, Felicity’s friend from Starling. John, this… man is Cisco” Len introduces the two. At the description of himself Cisco stares lovingly at Len.
“You always say the sweetest things to me,” he smiles before turning to John. “Hey I’m Cisco” he clarifies again holding a hand out in greeting which John promptly shakes.
“John” he smiles.
“Anyway, don’t go upstairs yet. Love was dripping all over the floor when I left earlier” Cisco announced to the group while turning to the left to gesture at H.R manning the counter for some fries.
“I’m glad they made up. Maybe now Oliver won’t sulk so much. If I have to listen to Spirits one more time I’ll make him one” John chuckles.
Barry smiles, “is that a song?”
“Yeah, we were singing it earlier with Felicity” Caitlin answers.
“Felicity heard it playing one day and suddenly there was no escaping it. It became her favorite song and therefore…” John began.
“It became Oliver’s?” Cisco continues more as a question than a statement.
* * * * * * * * * *
Once alone again, feet on the ground, Oliver’s forehead pressed to her own, he whispers, “and I don’t want a never ending life. I just want to be alive while I’m here”
To which the blonde replies, smile on her lips, “and I don’t want to spend another night lost inside a lonely life while I’m here”