Times Like These

Chapter 11

She slept deep and long and when she woke she was starving and sore but no longer felt like every single move she made would result in pain.

She also woke to an empty bed and sat up carefully, looking around and finding a quiet room. Brow furrowed she made her way to the bathroom to also find it empty and the closet as well.

Apprehension and a bit of self doubt was starting to creep in when the door opened and Oliver and Digg walked in. Well, Digg walked in, mouth turned down in a scowl as he carried a tray and Oliver limped in leaning heavily on a cane.

Her mouth must have dropped open in shock when she saw him and he lifted the cane with a flourish.

“Digg’s letting me borrow it.”

She tramped down her concern and worry since he was obviously trying to keep things light. “We’ll just have to get you a monocle and a top hat so you can complete the true billionaire look.”

Digg snorted at that and sat the tray down on the table in front of the couch. “Apparently I carry trays now too.” he said acerbically and it was her turn to laugh.

Her stomach growled in anticipation and she wasted no time in pouring them coffee. “Sit,” she ordered and watched out the corner of her eye as Oliver carefully eased himself down onto the couch cushions, not missing how his breath caught or how he had to pause for a moment before he sat all the way. She didn’t say anything though because she knew he wouldn’t want her to.

When she leaned forward to hand Digg his cup she stretched too far, resulting in her taking a hissing breath between her teeth and Digg having to lurch to his feet and grab the cup before it spilled.

Both he and Oliver were silent until she settled back with a pastry and a cup of her own balanced precariously in her lap.

“You two are the literal walking wounded.” Digg observed, but she saw the crease of disquiet between his eyes.

“At least we’re walking,” Oliver returned and Digg tipped the cup his direction in a silent salute.

“I assume we’re not going to the office today since…there’s no office.” she said, and felt the heat of Oliver’s gaze on her.

“You should stay in bed and rest.”

“Is that what you plan to do?” she countered, knowing the answer was no.

His head tilted to the side and she gave him one lifted eyebrow in return.

“I have a present for you.” Digg said, breaking the staring contest she’d been having with Oliver,

He got up so she wouldn’t have to reach and laid a phone in her hand. “Your old one is…”

“Melted into nothing or crushed I’d assume.” she said in a tight voice as she thumbed on the device and saw all her settings had been transferred over like nothing had happened. “Thanks,”

She had a huge list of emails to go through and when she saw five new text messages she felt the blood drain from her face.

“I checked, they’re not from him.” Digg said softly

“Oh…good.” Oliver’s hand covered her knee and gave it a squeeze.

The texts were from her mother and her shoulders sagged when she saw them. “My mom…she heard the news…couldn’t get hold of me. I hate how worried this is making her.” she said with a shake of her head as she wrote back a quick, falsely peppy reply along with a promise to call when she could. The bomb was actually the best excuse to claim she was too busy with work right then to talk. She felt Oliver’s stare on her, but didn’t look up, knowing she’d see a look on his face she didn’t want to see just then.

Her email folder was also full and she flipped through them quickly only stopping when she saw one from Lance. It was a list of everything that had been used to build the bomb.

“If we’re not going to our day job I’d like to go to our night job.” she said, holding her phone up, “Lance forwarded me a list from the bomb investigation. It’s everything that was used to put it together. I could probably trace some of the items, see where they were purchased, if there was anyway to figure out a pattern for payment. It could help narrow down where he is. He doesn’t know the city well, he’d probably stay in one area.”

Oliver nodded tightly, “We’ll also need to stop by the police station.” he reminded her, and then exchanged a look with Digg. “And I have to give a press conference this afternoon.”

“A press conference? Why?” she sputtered out before she could think it through,

He let out a long sigh and scrubbed his hand over his forehead before he spoke, “It looks like someone leaked that the package was sent to me directly and that it wasn’t a random attack on QC.”

Felicity’s hand flew to cover her mouth in horror.

“Hey, they don’t know why. Your name hasn’t come up and I intend to keep it that way. My mother and Digg have been running damage control, and Lance has kept things quiet on his end. So right now the only thing the press knows is there was an attempt on my life. I’ll stand outside QC, make a few comments, make sure everyone can see that I’m fine and the investors will all be happy.”

She let out a disgusted noise, “Yes, because ensuring the stock prices don’t dip too far is much more important than whether you’re alive or not.”

“It’s business.”

“I know, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.” she groused, taking an angry bite of her pastry and pulling up the feeds she used to keep track of Oliver in the press. She was bombarded by images of the blown out office windows and emergency vehicles parked around the building the day before. There were already two separate vines being reblogged ad nauseum that had been taken as the bomb had exploded sending smoke and debris to fall forty stories to the streets below.

Headlines were talking about an ‘assassination attempt’ and she felt her stomach drop as she read through a woefully inaccurate article that claimed Oliver had been so severely injured he’d had to be sent to the top hospital in the city by helicopter.

She was watching the video again on a loop when Oliver’s hand closed over the phone and took it and the coffee from her. “Stop.” he said forcefully

“It looks so bad,” she said monotone, shaking her head at what she’d just seen. She knew how close they’d been to his desk when it had exploded. “How did we survive that?”

She leaned towards him, ignoring the pull across her side and pressed her head into his neck, letting out a shaky exhale as she just took a moment to breathe.

She could almost feel Digg’s eyes burning into her and she turned her head slightly to see that she was right. He’d noticed the shift between her and Oliver, but he hadn’t said anything. Yet. As their eyes met he gave her a small nod that let her know things were fine for now, but they’d be talking about this in the future.

Felicity cleared her throat and sat up, finding Oliver’s hand and laying hers overtop his to keep some sort of physical contact with him.

“Okay, so…police, press conference, lair? Thought we were supposed to be off today.” her joke fell flat and she felt Oliver’s arm tense under her.

“Felicity we’re going to find him and we’re going to stop him.” Oliver said seriously

“I know…it’s just frustrating.”

She stood up too fast and felt the stitches protest as a flare of pain shot down her leg. Oliver caught her arm and helped her balance as she took a hobbling step forward. “I keep forgetting about that.”

“Want me to take a look?” Digg offered and for a second she could see how truly worried he’d been for her. Even though she could take care of it herself she gave him a nod and sat back down to prop her foot on the table.

“All the supplies are in the bathroom,” she said with a head tilt towards the door.

“You’ve just made yourself right at home, haven’t you?” he said with a smirk that left her staring at his back with a gaping mouth.

Oliver chuckled next to her and used the cane to push to his feet, “You know he’s just messing with us, right?” he brushed her temple with a kiss and slowly made his way back to the closet.

“You sure you’re okay?” she asked, hating how haltingly he was moving.

“I promise. It’s a bad bruise, but it’ll heal.” just before he stepped out of sight he turned and gave her an almost lewd leer, “And if you’re good, I’ll let you play doctor again.”

Digg, of course, chose that moment to emerge from the bathroom. She hung her red face and waited for him to say something as he knelt next to her and began to remove the old bandage.

“There are going to be rules.” he said without looking at her, and her mind immediately went to her earlier conversation with Oliver about rules of a different kind. A strangled sort of noise came from her throat that he must have taken as an agreement because he continued. “There are going to be things I do not need to know, see, or hear.” she just nodded stiffly.

His hands paused as he was opening a new gauze square and looked at her with such intensity she stopped breathing, “And if this affects the mission…”

“It won’t,” she cut him off, never more serious about anything in her life.

He considered her and let his face relax some, “Good, because I think you’re exactly what he’s needed all this time.”

All the air left her lungs like a balloon deflating and she couldn’t help the tears that pricked her eyes. She dropped her hands over his and held them tight, “Thank you,” she mouthed, not trusting her voice.

He held her gaze for a second more and then handed over her phone, “Here, why don’t you start working some of your magic while I clean this up, I might need to put another stitch in, this isn’t the best work.”

She took the phone and made a face at needing more stitches, “Well, you’re probably the only person who could put in stitches with Oliver breathing down your neck.”

Digg let out a grunt of agreement and stood, “Med kit is in the car. I’ll be back.”

She busied herself on her phone when he left, looking over the list Lance had sent and, going with a hunch, focused on stores within a few blocks of her apartment. Most of the items could have been bought less than five minutes from where she lived.

“Oliver, my laptop is still in my suitcase, can you bring it here?” she called out, reaching for a bowl of fruit that was still on the tray.

He came out without the cane, or pants and she sent him a look of admonishment but couldn’t keep her eyes from taking in just how good he looked in nothing but black boxer briefs.

The laptop was deposited on the couch next to her and she gave him a smile of thanks before she caught sight of his leg. “Oh god!” she exclaimed and reached out, pushing the leg of the fabric up so she could see his entire thigh. Dark, mottled bruising stretched from his knee all the way up as far as she could see. It was swollen and hot to the touch as she gently laid her palm over the worst spot.

He tensed beneath her and wrapped his fingers around her wrist, “It’ll heal,”

“Oliver…how can you even walk like this?”

“I told you, I’ve had worse.” he reminded her, leaving her shaking her head. “I’ve got a cream, it helps and it feels better than it did earlier.”

She didn’t know whether to believe him or not.

He glanced down and saw her leg still propped up and the bandage off, “Where’s Digg?”

“He thinks I need more stitches. So he went to get the med kit from the car.” she said reluctantly

Oliver’s brows drew together in anger and she knew he was mentally arrowing the medics who had seen to her the day before. She watched his hands clench and wrapped her smaller hand around his fist, worming her fingers under his until he loosed his grip and she could slip her hand in to meet his palm.

“It’s fine,” she said, bringing his hand towards her so she could press a kiss to the back. “Now go finish getting ready before Digg comes back and sees you like that and I get another lecture.”

Oliver tilted his head in question but she shooed him away instead of explaining.

He was safely out of sight by the time Digg returned and she glanced down at her leg, wincing when she saw the red gash and row of black thread holding everything together.

“Yeah, one or two for sure.” he said as he laid out supplies and slid on a pair of gloves.

He began to draw the syringe full of numbing medication and she swallowed hard. “Do we have to use that? I think it hurts worse than the cut.” she could distinctly remember how much it stung, and she’d still felt the pull of the thread each time a stitch had been made.

Digg paused and looked at her, “Are you sure? I can probably get away with only putting one in, but it’s going to hurt.”

She weighed her options and decided she’d rather take two brief painful moments for the stitch then repeated pokes and burning pain from the anesthetic.

“I’m sure.”

Digg just shook his head and muttered something about hard headedness as he got out the hooked needle already threaded with silk and prepped the area.

Felicity fixed her eyes on a spot across the room and felt his hands hold firmly on her leg.

“Last chance. Once I start, stopping doesn’t make much sense.”

She nodded briskly but didn’t look down and she wasn’t surprised when he didn’t wait. The sharp prick of the needle sliding through her skin took her breath away, and she dug her fingers into the edge of the couch to keep from crying out. Maybe she should have taken the anesthetic.

Digg didn’t flinch, he kept his concentration and she felt a fine sheen of sweat break across her skin as she kept reminding herself to not move and keep breathing as evenly as possible.

One more high stinging pain made tears leak from her eyes and she couldn’t keep quiet.

“That’ll be the worst of it.” he said softly, but it didn’t take away the throbbing ache that seemed to take up her entire thigh. He made quick work of drawing the sides together and tying the knots, but she felt every pull and tug even though she knew he was trying to be careful.

By the time he’d smeared it with ointment and covered it up she was pale and shaky and couldn’t seem to get her muscles to unclench.

“We’re all done, you can relax now.” Digg said as he took off the gloves, but she still couldn’t move. He took her by the shoulders and eased her back as Oliver approached.

“Everything okay?” he asked. She shut her eyes and tried to calm her queasy stomach.

Digg waited until he’d limped his way to the side of the couch before he responded. “Your girl decided she didn’t want the numbing meds.”

“What?!” Oliver exploded and she could only imagine the look he was leveling Digg with. “So you stitched her up without anything?”

“Hey, it was her call man.” Digg said evenly although there was a touch of steel to his voice.

“My choice,” she said, although she kept her eyes shut and breathed through her nose and she didn’t sound near as strong as she wanted to. “Don’t yell at Digg.”

“Why would you do that?” Oliver asked as she felt him sink down next to her, one hand coming to rest along the back of her neck.

“It was one stitch and that numbing stuff burns. I didn’t think it would be that bad.” he rubbed small circles on her skin and the churning of her stomach began to slow some. “However, I’m willing to admit it was maybe not the best decision.”

She sat still for another five minutes and then chugged a glass of orange juice before she felt like she could stand without her legs giving out.

Oliver was in a suit which meant she needed to dress for work. With a sigh she suggested he join Digg downstairs to wait for her. His eyes lit as he began to argue but she stopped him by grabbing his tie and pulling him down for a kiss.

When she drew back there was a self-satisfied smile on her face and she stepped back three steps, liking the fact that she’d taken him by surprise.

“Go, I’ll be down soon.” she directed before entering the closet and shutting the door behind her.

She chose a looser skirt that wasn’t tight on her leg and long enough to cover most of her bandage and went with low heeled boots instead of her usual heels. She’d be forced to use her contacts until she got a pair of replacement glasses.

Glad she’d thought to pack more than one bag she slipped in her laptop and phone and wondered if her purse had survived the blast or if she’d need to go through the headache of getting new credit cards and a new driver’s license. That was something she’d need to remember to ask Lance next chance she got.

Carefully she made her way down the staircase, taking one step at a time as she still couldn’t seem to walk normally on her left leg. The foyer was empty and she thought about calling out but she didn’t know if that was proper or not and there didn’t seem to be a maid hiding around the nearest corner that morning.

She heard voices however, and followed them down a long hall past the large room used during parties, until the voices got louder. The first person she saw was Digg standing just outside the open doorway. He gave her a smile and a nod of his head to let her know she was in the right place.

Oliver saw her, but it was Thea surprisingly who rushed over and pulled her into a hug. “Oh my god! Are you okay? Mom wouldn’t let me go check on you last night but I saw the news and talked to Ollie and…” she shook her head and hugged her again while Felicity stood there in shock.

“I’m okay,” she replied, wincing as Thea hugged a little too hard and squeezed her ribs.

Roy stepped forward and took her by the arm to pull her away, “Let’s not crush Barbie to death there.” he said and gave Felicity a shrug. “Glad you’re okay,”

Oliver was at her side while she was still trying to process what had just happened.

“Are you sure you need to go in, Oliver? We could release a taped statement from here instead.” Moira said as she approached,

“Mom, it’s fine. The investors need to see me out of the house and the employees need to see me at work to know everything is okay.”

Standing in the sunny sitting room she could see how pale he still was. The bandage on his head was smaller than it had been the night before but it was still noticeable and there were new bruises he couldn’t hide. She’d at least been able to use concealer on the worst spots, although there was a shallow cut across her forehead that she’d left alone.

The fact that he was still using the cane told her everything she needed to know. She’d do whatever she could to make their day go as quickly as possible.

“I suppose there’s no way to convince you to stay home either, is there Felicity?” Moira asked and she jumped, not expecting to be addressed. She went to push up glasses that weren’t there and then clasped both her hands tight around the handle of her bag.

“Um, no. Where he goes I go.”

She heard Oliver suck in a breath next to her and she turned to him. She hadn’t meant her words to mean so much, but she realized they had.

Moira gave her a look not unlike the one she’d given her the night before when they’d had their talk, and Felicity could almost feel Thea’s eyes boring into her.

“Alright, I know when to retreat.” Moira said, holding up both hands in front of her, “But do try and be home at a reasonable hour tonight. You both look like you should still be in a hospital.”

“We’ll do our best, Mom.” Oliver said before leaning over and kissing her cheek.

They said their goodbyes and followed Digg towards the foyer. The agent that had been in the hallway the other night met them at the door and Digg turned to them, “This is Mr. Monroe, he’ll be with us until after the press conference. Another car with a separate detail will meet us there.”

She was surprised Oliver didn’t react to this. She didn’t think he’d want someone new attached to them all day, but as long as they could get away and get to the lair that’s all that mattered and it seemed like Digg had all that under control.

She gave the agent a smile, the last time she’d seen him she’d threatened him with a fireplace poker, “Good morning, Mr. Monroe.”

“Morning, Ma'am, Sir.” he said with short clipped syllables and there was no doubt he was a military man just like Digg.

Monroe rode up front with Digg and Oliver was quiet while she took her laptop out and started to get some of the searches going she had wanted to do.

Oliver had to nudge her when they got to the police station she had been so involved in hacking her way into several different store’s payment processing servers. Looking up to see police officers walking past the car made her shut the lid quickly and give Oliver a wide-eyed stare.

“Maybe you should save the illegal activity for when we’re not about to enter a police precinct.” he whispered in her ear and she swallowed hard as she packed her computer away.

Oliver leaned over her to give the window a sharp rap and a second later it was open, Monroe’s hand extended to help her from the car.

The other car Digg had mentioned pulled up to the curb and three more men in dark suits got out to join them. She shot Digg a slightly incredulous look but he just stared back and took lead. Oliver’s hand fell to her back as they slowly made their way inside.

The sight of Oliver Queen, using a cane and surrounded by bodyguards was enough to make anyone stop and stare, including a few cops. Lance was waiting for them in the bullpen and came forward when they entered.

“Not sure you need such an entourage, especially in a police station.” he said drolly,

“Just being careful,” Digg replied and Lance nodded, his eyes cutting over both her and Oliver, no doubt taking in the bandages and bruises.

“Well, can’t say I blame you.” he said, scrubbing a rough hand over his head. He gave her a nod and motioned behind him, “Conference room is ready.”

The Chief of Police, Captain of the precinct and the lead detective were all waiting as they entered. She didn’t have to be looking at Oliver to know that his body filled with tension when he saw them.

“Mr. Queen, we were so very sorry to hear about the attack on your life yesterday and want you to know that the full resources of this department and the entirety of the SCPD are being used to bring this criminal to justice.” the Chief said rising to shake Oliver’s hand before he asked them to sit.

The image of the Chief of Police shaking hands with the city’s vigilante was almost too good to be true.

Oliver took his time, first making sure Felicity was comfortable before he sat down himself. She could see the tense line of his jaw and the way his shoulders were drawn back and wanted nothing more than to be able to reach over and lay her hand on his.

When he was ready he set a steely gaze on the people in front of him. “Since I know the truth, and not the bullshit line being given to the press I know that Nathan Samuels has been in Starling for three days in order to continue to stalk, harass, and most likely harm Ms. Smoak. Until yesterday the only person in this department who even gave a damn was Detective Lance. Now that the top floor of Queen Consolidated is being blown out repeatedly on twenty-four hour cable news and I’m walking around with this cane there’s a sudden interest in the case. I’d like a straight answer for why my life is considered more important than Ms. Smoak’s.” his voice was cold and controlled in a way she’d never heard before, even with the hood.

A warmth filled her chest and she had to drop her eyes for a second to make sure she didn’t show too much. The undercurrent of anger that ran through Oliver was almost palpable and she wondered if the people who sat across from him had any idea how upset he was.

She looked up to see all three of them looking decidedly uncomfortable and it took the captain a few tries before he could form a sentence.

“Mr. Queen it was certainly not our intention to dismiss Ms. Smoak’s case. At the time there was a lack of evidence that suggested…”

Oliver held up a hand and he stopped speaking immediately, “Lack of evidence? The man was held in a psychiatric facility for seven years because of what he did to her and the day he gets out he flies three thousand miles to show up at her place of employment. Later that very day her home is broken into and a threatening note left. She receives numerous harassing text messages the day after. Correct me if I’m wrong but that sounds like nothing but evidence to me.”

There was more throat clearing and shifting in seats until the detective in charge spoke up, “There has been an escalation in the suspect’s behavior. I’ve had a look over Ms. Smoak’s previous statement and agree that he seems dangerous and unstable.”

It was the best they would get to an admission of any sort and she knew it, she just wondered if Oliver would accept it.

“Yes, the bomb he had delivered to my office would suggest that.” Oliver replied scathingly and she had to suppress a chortle with the back of her hand.

The detective decided to ignore Oliver and turned his attention to Felicity. She answered their questions as best she could, but she knew there wasn’t much she could tell them that would be of any help. They were in the dark as much as she was when it came to finding him.

When they’d been there over an hour going over the same things repeatedly she’d started shifting in her seat, trying to find a position that didn’t make her ribs scream, or put pressure on her leg.

It was Lance who knocked sharply on the door and stepped inside pointedly asking if she needed a break that caused the session to come to an end.

Oliver was assured once again they were doing everything they could to find him. He just nodded darkly and put a hand under Felicity’s elbow to help her from the chair. Her leg almost buckled after being in one position for so long and he caught her at the waist.

“Maybe you need the cane more than I do.” he joked quietly so only she could hear and she gave him a genuine smile, feeling some of the stress seep from her.

Lance offered her his arm and she took it gratefully as he led her from the room. She suspected he wanted a reason to talk to her alone and she was right.

“Did you get the list I sent you?” he asked

“Yes, and I’m already working on it. I think he’s been staying near my apartment. The shops he’d need to buy those items at are all in the neighborhood.”

Lance nodded in agreement. “I get off at six and then I’ll take a few swings around the place, see if anything sticks out.”

Digg approached and Lance stepped back making sure she wasn’t going to lose her balance before he went to his desk and took out a blue plastic bag. “There’s some smoke and water damage, but I salvaged what i could.” he said as he handed it over.

She peeked inside and saw what was left of her purse, phone, and tablet. “Oh thank goodness,”

“It’s technically evidence but…we’ve got a list.” he said with a shrug,

Oliver was behind them, the Chief of Police still talking and she could tell he was almost at the end of his patience.

“Sorry, Detective I should get him out of here before something happens.”

“I’ll be at the press conference, just for crowd control. But if you need me before then…” she gave him a grateful smile and made her way back to Oliver’s side.

“Mr. Queen, we really need to get going. PR wants to talk to you before the press conference.” she said in her fake pleasant executive assistant voice. She also needed to sit on expensive plush leather and rest her leg for ten minutes, and maybe convince Digg to go through a drive thru because her head was starting to pound.

Oliver turned and looked at her like she was water in a desert, eyes filled with something more than she thought he wanted others to see just then.

She took the lead detective’s card and promised to let them know if there was any further contact and then Oliver’s hand was warm against her back and they were finally leaving.

Climbing into the car proved more difficult than she remembered it being when they’d left the mansion and when she cried out, half bent over, Oliver’s arm around her middle was the only thing keeping her from falling to her knees.

“Sorry,” she gasped out, trying to catch her breath “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“You should go back to the house.” he all but growled in her ear and she shook her head no.

“I’ll be fine.” she insisted, and planted her feet securely under her to prove her point,

“You didn’t take any pain meds this morning, did you?”

She hadn’t, not on purpose but because it had slipped her mind. “No,” she admitted

“Digg’s got some,”

“Oliver, I can’t. That stuff knocks me out and…”

His head lowered until it just touched hers and she could feel his breath brush her face, “I need you to be okay,” for just a second he let his control slip and she could hear how close to the edge he was.

She turned as much as she could and wrapped her hand around his at her waist, “I’m okay.”

“Mr. Queen, Ms. Smoak, we’re beginning to gather an audience.” Digg cut in from the other side of the car door and Oliver stood to his full height.

“Give her a hand into the car, would you, Digg.” Oliver said, voice much lighter than she knew he felt just then.

Felicity barely had to do anything more than duck her head as Digg carefully picked her up and sat her in the seat, waiting to make sure she could scoot over on her own and sit back comfortably. “Sure you don’t want the drugs?”

“I’m sure,”

Oliver passed her his cane and sat down with a grimace he couldn’t hide.

“I thought it was feeling better.”

He let his head fall back with a sigh as the door shut.

“Did you take any pain meds this morning?” she pushed and knew the look she would receive from him before it was sent her direction.

The drive to QC was too short to bother getting her computer out so she closed her eyes and enjoyed the few minutes of rest while she could. Oliver’s hand found hers and she laced her fingers through his as they rode in silence.

They parked in the garage to avoid the throng of people and press that were waiting on the sidewalk. Once they were inside Oliver had to step ahead of her and greet the crowd of employees that were gathered to wish him well. Digg and the rest of the detail were close behind him, but she did notice that Mr. Monroe stuck with her.

Every now and then Oliver would glance back to make sure he could still find her and she’d give him a smile meant just for him.

Eventually they made it to a meeting room where the PR team was waiting. They detailed the briefing they’d written up and Oliver read it over quickly, making a few changes before he gave his okay and they hurried off to do last minute checks on the set up.

Digg made sure the room was secure and then waved the rest of the detail out. “I’ll give you two a minute.” he said and shut the door firmly behind him.

“You alright?” she asked immediately as she approached him and could finally do what she’d wanted to do most of the day which was wrap her arms around him.

He let out a long exhale and wrapped his one free arm around her back, holding her as tight as he dared. “Yeah, I just want this guy caught. We’ve caught people worse than him. Smarter, better trained, better resources…why is this so hard.”

She laid her hand on his chest and looked up. The frustration and anger was pouring out of him and she knew he couldn’t go stand in front of t.v cameras like that. “We will catch him. And the reason this is different is because he’s just a regular guy. A regular guy with no past and who has had a very long time to plan this. He’s ahead of us right now, but we’re going to catch up. I’m not going to be held hostage by him any more. He already made me move across an entire country. He doesn’t get to do that again.” with each sentence she sounded stronger and more sure and by the end she believed it as much as she needed him to believe it.

She ran her hands up his chest and raised them to cup his face. “We’re going to get him.”

Oliver crashing his lips over hers was not what she expected and she moaned immediately into his mouth which led to his tongue sweeping across hers. Long, low swoops of desire made their way through her core as he pulled feelings from her she’d never experienced before.

The hand on her back had slid up to cup the nape of her neck, tilting her head to the side for a better angle. She scraped her nails through his stubble and heard an answering rumble from his chest. When she sucked his bottom lip into her mouth he actually groaned.

There was a loud knock on the door and she pulled back with a gasp but saw that it hadn’t been opened. His eyes were dark and endless and it took everything in her to not kiss him again. She straightened his tie and smoothed his lapels and stepped out of his grasp. It was then she noticed he’d been leaning on the cane the entire time he’d been kissing her senseless. Apparently just one more talent he could add to the list.

“This won’t take long,” she told him, “Then we can head to the lair and…I’m going to find him.”

“And I’m going to make sure he doesn’t hurt you again.”

There was another knock and this time the door did open and Digg stuck his head in. “Safe?”

She shot him a look and gathered up her bag, cutting one more glance over Oliver before they went out there. Her hand slipped into his and they walked all the way to the door like that. He squeezed her tight once and then let her go as he stepped out.

The plaza in front of the main entrance is where they had staged the press conference. With the large logo sign behind the podium it was well placed. She also realized if you panned a camera up directly over where Oliver would stand you’d see their office. A cold shiver went through her as she realized not twenty-four hours earlier the ground she was walking on had bits of his office all over it.

There was a sea of reporters and cameras and all around behind a barricade were hundreds of curious onlookers. She spotted Lance on the far side standing in front of one of the wooden barriers.

Digg and Monroe stayed to the back right while the other three agents flanked the other side, all standing with their hands crossed in front of them, eyes constantly scanning.

No one introduced Oliver and she saw the CEO mask settle firmly over his face as he climbed the two steps to the raised dais.

He greeted the crowd easily and there was a smattering of applause. He thanked them for their concern and then proceeded to read from the prepared statement.

Felicity found herself caught between listening to Oliver and looking at the rest of the crowd. For some reason the hairs on the back of her neck were standing up and she had the feeling she was being watched.

A shiver went through her and she stepped slightly closer to Digg. A late arriving news crew pushed through the people in an effort to get to the front and as the crowd parted she looked straight ahead and saw Nate.

Terror she’d never felt before shot through her and she was frozen as their eyes met. His gaze was cold and dead and she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t speak as he stared at her.

With calm, calculated moves he removed a backpack she hadn’t seen him wearing and held it up towards her.

Her stomach dropped and her knees buckled as she knew what the backpack contained.

It was Monroe that caught her before she hit the ground. Digg’s head whipped towards her and she looked at him complete panic.

“What?!” he demanded and she turned her head back to where Nate was.

Except he was gone, but the backpack was still there.

“Oh god!”

Digg grabbed her by the arms and pulled her up, “What did you see?”

“Nate’s here! He just left a backpack on the ground.”

Digg’s face showed a second of horror and then he was shoving her at Monroe before he bellowed to everyone around them.


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