ByFelicity Queen, writer at
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"Oliver, you okay?" Diggle asked impatiently. "Oliver?" He squinted through night vision binocs at the back of The Crystal Crown restaurant. The red Mercedes car was still there. Dark evil-looking thug men continued to travel between the vehicle and the building. They carried wooden crates that were, judging from their stances, apparently heavy. "Come on man." The ex-marine said under his breath, checking his watch. "I knew this was a dumb idea."
"Oh, really?" Oliver's voice emerged from the silence. Cocky and very much still alive. His breathing was heavy, though. "Should I play driver for awhile?"
"Sounds like a good idea. How 'bout we discuss it later over tea. What's your position?"
Diggle saw a flash of movement in the darkness. He grinned. One henchman dropped. Another disappeared into the building. The third cried out before Ollie could knock him out, alerting the others.
Back at the table, Felicity was beginning to get more and more nervous. It felt as if everyones eyes were on her. Staring back only made them look more. She kept her eyes low. "Oliver?" She whispered, hand to ear. "Oliver?" Her voice grew more desperate. "Why don't I hear an--" Then she felt why.
The tiny, flesh-colored comm device. It was gone.
"Oh no. Oh shoot." She cried softly, scanning the elegant tablecloth. "Not here."
She half-stood to peak in the flower vase. The roses poked her face in protest. Felicity slouched back to her chair, leaning her forehead into her palm.
"No no no no no. What am I supposed to do? Does Ollie seriously expect me to walk out without paying? That waiter left the bill." Panic filled her abdomen. She bit her plump red lower lip. "Oliver?" Her hand went to her ear instinctively. "Right. Not there." She ignored the staring couples and bent to inspect the floor. "Nope. Nope."
"There you are." Felicity's head jerked up, "Ow!" , and banged the table. She rubbed her sore cranium, flashing the snobby socialites a glare. "Felicity." A masculine voice said. She felt a hand on her shoulder. A tall lanky man, not nearly as muscular as Oliver, stood beside the table. His black hair was thick and looked glossy under the lights. Round brown eyes shown with concern.
A quick shot of air left Felicity's mouth. She stood. "Nevin."
He brushed a kiss on her cheek and tightly hugged her thin frame. "I came as soon as I got your message."
~ Bang! Baang! ~
Thugs from behind the restaurant fired their guns. They shouted angrily. Oliver momentarily emerged from the shadows. He raced back through the cover of darkness to skillfully climb the building where Diggle was perched. The back-up man\friend\bodyguard grabbed his hand as Oliver hurried over the ledge. More shots rang out.
"Think they spotted us?"
~ Bang! ~
"What do you think?" Diggle's tone was irritated. "I wish you'd let me in on your little plans."
"They aren't little." Oliver argued, taking the binoculars a bit forcefully."And there wasn't a 'plan'." He viewed the remaining criminals.
Diggle scoffed. "Not comforting man."
A shot wizzed closer, making them both duck low. "I'm guessing the 'friendly' approach didn't work. Next time, if we live, maybe I should bring along your (Arrow)suit."
Oliver set his teeth, pushing his lips together, and lifting his stubbily chin. "There were more than I expected." He admitted reluctantly through his teeth.
"Understatement of the year." Diggle snorted scarcastically. ~ Bang! Bang! Bang! ~
More shots. And getting closer.
Oliver's lips moved as he counted the armed hoods. "Tell me, when is Team Arrow going to start picking its battles?" Diggle asked.
Oliver frowned. "Isn't that what this is?"
"Speaking of," Digg went on, "where do I pick up Felicity?"
"What!?" Oliver rolled onto his back. His eyes searched the roof desperately. "I thought she was here. With you."
Diggle shook his head 'no'. ~ Bang! ~ He ducked. "Haven't heard a thing from her since you left...I assumed she was with you."
"Come on, men!" Echoed below.
"They're up there! By the--"
The crooked men's voices could clearly be heard between gunshots.
"Let's go." Said Oliver.
Nevin took up the seat opposite Felicity. They shared smiles.
"You're in Europe. I mean, last I heard from you...You were...there!"
He grinned for a second at her vocal blunder. A frown crossed his forehead. Nevin looked deeply into her worried blue eyes. "I would do anything for you."
She tried to laugh it off and failed. "I know." Her tongue stalled. Think.
"How did you find me?" Nevin shook his head. "I'm a reporter, remember? We pencil-pushers know how to dig...Speaking of, are you still..." He made a wiggling motion with his fingers.
She nodded emphatically. "Very much so. I've got a job with Queen Consolidated."
"OOh, they're big...A company. A large company I mean. In Starling City. Which is where I live. Obviously. And so...Uhm...I was working in the IT department. You probably haven't heard that I was promoted."
His warm thumb spiraled over her cool knuckles. "To what, may I ask?"
"Er," Felicity suddenly decided this wasn't such a good idea.
"Oliver has been gone for a long time. If he comes back and Nevin tells him about..."
"Earth to Felicity." He chuckled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "You always did wander off on a tangent. I asked what you were promoted to."
"Oh. I-uh-its... complicated...Not that I don't want to tell you. I do." She blushed. "Only its the kind of job that sounds dumb, but is actually fun. No. I meant nice. It pays well.... And there are know, health and dental..." She drifted off.
Looking bewildered, Nevin's eyebrows arched.
"Essentially, I'm, basically a secretary." Felicity blurted.
Months later and she still cringed inwardly when she said it. Years ago Felicity Smoak never would've given such a job a second thought because it was way (did I mention?)way beneath her skills! And now?
"But I don't do coffee." She added. "You know; Brown liquid. Coffee Makers aka electronic demons that run themselves." Felicity cleared her throat. It came out as a squeaky crackle. "Why don't we go to my place? I already ate. My fridge is full a-and...I'm sure you're hungry. Or starving. Especially if you flew in...not unless you took a first-class flight with popcorn and pretzels in little snackie bags that are like big enough to fill a Chihuahua. Oh, and there's drinks...with free refills. I'm doing it, aren't I?"
Nevin nodded, grinning. "Some things never change." He bumped her chin with a fist. "My Silly Filly."
"Silly Filly?" The voice was unmistakable.
Felicity stood, eyes wide and mouth ajar. "O-oliver."
Oliver glared at the intruder; who in turn, glared back. An eyebrow lifted as he directed his attention on the blonde. "Are we ready to go?" It wasn't a question. It was a command. His piercing blue eyes said 'We'll discuss this later.'
Nevin stood, not indifferent to being ignored. And not pleased with how he was treating the lady. "Excuse me."
Felicity could smell a cock fight a mile away. She was determined to remain pleasant. "Nevin, this is my boss; Oliver Queen. Oliver, this is Nevin." She put herself between the two. She added pointedly. "My friend."
Oliver shot her a questioning glance. Sounds of raised voices floated from the kitchen. Oliver didn't look back. His expression told her volumes. In case that wasn't enough, he added: "We better go."
Felicity took Nevin's arm. She didn't miss the pained look Oliver made. "Nevin can drive me home." She used her independent tone and quickly pulled her 'friend' away, leaving a stupefied Oliver to pay the tab.
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Back at the Arrow cave, Oliver coerced Diggle into Felicity's chair.
"Does this feel wrong to you?"
"I want to see the footage from inside the Crystal Crown tonight." Oliver commanded, hands in his pockets. He stared demandingly at the computers, as if what he desired would automatically appear.
"Do I look like a charming blonde computer geek?" Diggle folded his arms.
"I'll settle for less. Do it." Oliver wasn't taking no for an answer.
"Hold on and cross your fingers." Diggle cracked his knuckles. The computers hummed as he booted them up and set to work.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Laurel marched across the parking lot towards her vehicle. She unlocked the door, sliding in, and slamming it behind her. Her fingers started to shake as she prepared to back up. Irritated, she dug into her purse. Out came the trusty tan bottle.
"My hero."
A vision of the Arrow haunted her memories. "Even he doesn't care. Run away. They all run away!" She chugged down several pills and reached for the cup holder. "I'm sick of helping people who can't help themselves." She thought, taking in a swig of water. "When I can't even help ME!"
~ Tap - tap ~
Laurel screamed, nearly stepping on the accelerator. Slade's minion smiled at her. She tentatively lowered the window to hear what he had to say. "Hey."
"Hi. You must be Laurel Lance. Sorry I scared you."
She relaxed, seeing how friendly the man was. He wore a Policeman's uniform, but she didn't recognize his badge or face.
"Your father asked me to escort you home."
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Felicity shut the door and bolted it. She left Nevin to peruse her small apartment.
"I'm going to go take a shower. With you know. Water. And soap. All that good stuff. Uh---Feel free to raid the fridge."
Nevin grinned at her quirky arm movements. "Will do." He walked to the kitchen as Felicity receded into the bathroom.
The tall man finger-combed his black hair, glancing around. "Nice place. Just like Filly. Sunny and warm, but smart." He spotted several computers. "Very smart."
Felicity switched on the fan in the bathroom. She dug her phone out of her purse. "Hang on, Oliver."
~ bleep ~
Speed-dialed his number. She put it up to her ear. One ring. Two rings. "Come on. Come on." After the fourth ring, it went straight to his voicemail. Felicity's jaw dropped. Her tongue was glued to the floor. "Say something!"
"Hi Oliver. It's me....Felicity." She tried to sound nonchalant, but her voice was nervous and squeaky. "You're mad that I left. I. No. I did NOT mean you're mad. I meant to say, I hope you're NOT mad that I left....Its um...Personal, you know? Like a Thea thing. Or a Laurel thing. Or a Moira thing. Well, definitely not a Laurel thing. Not that personal....I don't mean to say she's....Oh forget it. 3 - 2 - 1. I'll see you tomorrow. Bye."
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Back at the Arrow cave. "Find it yet?" Oliver growled, returning from using his mortar and pestal. "Dude. For the 10th time. No." Diggle replied from Felicity's computer chair. "What's wrong?" Oliver asked, folding his muscled arms. The veins in his neck bulged. "These computers are Felicity Smoak upgrades. I'm Mr. Hunt-and-peck. I'm flying blind, man."
Oliver smacked a fist into the opposite palm.
"Why is this so important to you? Desmond Lockwood needs putting out of business. We should---"
"Don't tell me what to do!"
Diggle looked up, eyes round. "You okay, man?"
Oliver stared at the ceiling, but all he could see was Felicity Smoak's radiant face. He felt utterly betrayed. She had a right to have her own life, but it didn't stop him from being concerned.
"Keep trying." He patted Diggle's shoulder. An apologetic gesture.
"I let Felicity leave with this stranger. She could be in trouble..."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"You're in trouble."
Felicity emerged from the bathroom, tying her robe closed. It was white and clashed with her neon orange pjs, but she didn't care.
"I'm in trouble?"
Nevin motioned to the kitchen. Felicity joined him by the open fridge door. She glanced inside. There wasn't a bomb ticking down inside or a decapitated head.
Nevin's chin tipped sideways. "Seriously? And you were the health-food-nut."
Felicity giggled. She trotted to the 'tv room' and plopped into her favorite chair. It felt good to see him again.
"Oh. I forgot."
Nevin watched her run to the bedroom and return. She held up a tan bottle, turning it side-to-side so the pills rattled.
"I better take another..." He stood, moving to block her path to the kitchen, and enclosed a hand over her's and the container. "Don't."
Her yellow-brown eyebrows lifted until they nearly touched. "I've got to do something, Nevin. Take something. Even if it doesn't help. I can't live like this. People depend on me. I'm not a control freak...well, unless it comes to coffee makers or--- You get the point...I can't let this," she rested her free hand over her heart, "control me. I need to feel like I can stop it. These pills." She wiggled her hand under his. "They do help."
He made a face. "That Doctor was a quack, if you ask me."
Nevin swallowed, brown eyes solemn. "How long has it been?" His question carried a deep meaning. Her eyes fell to the floor. They sat down. Nevin put the narrow bottle on the glass coffee table between them and the TV.
"The pain started yesterday. I haven't had a spell in years....since...." Tears pooled in her eyes. "Everything's falling apart, Nevin. My life is crumbling under my feet. I hate this." She hit her heart with a small fist.
"Shhh. Sshhhh." Nevin stroked her soggy head. His thumb softly rubbed her cheek." "I won't leave you, Filly." He squeezed her tight, then drew back. His dark brown eyes pooled with love. "Little brother's here. For as long as you need me."
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She rested her wet head on his shoulder.
"What? Is it against the law? I like chocolate," "I remember." "And since its just me--" "Just you? It looks like Hershey Park in there! It's a miracle you aren't fat." He lightly swatted her bottom with the back of his hand.

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