Times Like These

Chapter 4

She fell asleep immediately, but it was far from restful. When she woke the first time the room was dark and it took her too long to remember where she was. She jerked upright with a gasping breath as it all rushed back to her, cheeks now flaming as she recalled Oliver holding her and carrying her up the stairs while his mother and sister looked on.

On shaky legs she made her way to the bathroom feeling like every muscle in her body had been put through one of Digg’s brutal training sessions. Her head pounded and she didn’t spare herself a glance in the mirror as she splashed cold water on her face.

A look at a clock let her know it was only a little after ten, which on a normal night would mean she’d be at the lair, but right then all she wanted to do was curl back into the most comfortable bed she’d ever slept in.

She left the bathroom light on as she made her way back across the huge room, following the yellow trail of light like a path. Her glasses were laying on the bedside table, and as she drifted back off to sleep she wondered how they got there.

Bad dreams woke her hours later and she blinked open wet eyes to see Oliver sitting next to the bed, holding her hand.

“Hey, it’s okay. You’re safe.” they were the same words he’d said to her earlier and she let them wash over her as she shoved damp hair out of her face and struggled to sit up.

“Oliver…” she wasn’t expecting to see him, and the remnants of her dream still had her on edge. She rested her elbows on bent legs and let her head drop as she tried to control her breathing. Oliver’s hand on her shoulder sent a skittering surge of electricity down her spine and she knew he felt how she’d reacted to his touch.

The tight rein she usually kept on how he affected her was gone just then and she didn’t think she could gather it back in time. He was blessedly quiet while she took an extra minute she didn’t really need and attempted to tramp down the dangerous thoughts she was having. Especially when she remembered how solid and strong and warm he’d felt beneath her as he held her earlier. Now that she’d experienced that once she wanted it again.

Thinking she was safe she lifted her head and gave him a weak smile in the faint light. The bathroom door was still open, the yellow glow still spilling out like she’d left it. “Why are you in here? I wasn’t being loud or…anything, was I?” she couldn’t let herself consider he was watching over her.

The corner of his mouth twitched and he paused before he answered, “I’m in here because Goldilocks is sleeping in my bed and the guest rooms are in the other wing. I didn’t want to be too far away in case you needed me.”

Felicity felt her stomach drop as his words registered with her. She was in Oliver’s room. In Oliver’s bed.

Her eyes cast wildly about the dimly lit room, taking in the masculine fabrics, and heavy use of leather before finally landing on the framed photos of Oliver and Thea standing only inches from where her glasses lay.

“Oh god,” she gasped out and immediately went to throw the covers back, but Oliver’s arm dropped across her legs, effectively trapping her and the bedding.

“Felicity, it’s okay. I brought you here, remember?” he reminded her and all she could do was mutely nod as she processed the idea that Oliver had brought her to his room and told her to sleep in his bed. Her stomach flipping at the idea was not helping her wild thoughts or the way it filled her with warmth to know what he’d done.

“Still…I shouldn’t…I can move to another room, really, it’s fine.” she was proud that her voice didn’t shake. She was feeling better now that her nightmare had faded, and the very real reality of being in Oliver’s room was providing an effective distraction.

“You’re not moving rooms at two in the morning. Just stay. You can move tomorrow if you really want to.” Oliver insisted and she could tell he was serious.

“Tomorrow? No…it’ll be…” but she stopped herself as she remembered that Nate had gotten into her place and she really didn’t want to go back to her place. “I can go to a hotel.” she said weakly and could almost hear the aggravated sigh before he let it out.

“Fine. Then we’ll go to a hotel together. But I’ll let you deal with the press if you go that route.” there was a sharp, satisfied quality to his words because he knew she’d never put them in that position. “You’re not leaving my sight until this gets resolved, Felicity. I mean that.”

She sunk back into the pillows with a resigned sigh. When he used that tone there was no arguing with him. She should know. She’d tried.

“Are you going to sit in that chair and stare at me all night? That’s creepy, you know.”

That earned her half a smile and a small shake of his head. “Are you trying to kick me out of my own room, Ms. Smoak?”

She could tell he was making an attempt to lighten the mood and she appreciated his effort. “Never. There’s a perfectly comfortable couch over there, or the rest of this massive bed. It could easily hold four full sized adults.”

Her eyes went wide at the same rate her face flushed red and her hands clamped hard over her mouth in horror. She had not just told Oliver to sleep in bed with her.

His eyebrows lifted into his hairline and she saw his mouth twitch in an attempt to not break into a grin. The one very specific grin that typically got him exactly what he wanted, and that she wasn’t as immune to as she pretended to be.

“Felicity. Go to sleep.” he said after a long moment and she couldn’t help but suck in a loud breath at how he sounded. By the way he wiped his hands down his thighs and stood up quickly she thought he was surprised as well.

She shifted down until she was lying flat, curled on her side facing him and held her breath as his hand reached out and pulled the covers up over her shoulder. Shutting her eyes tight she focused on her breathing as she tried to bring her frantic pulse under control. When she opened them again he was gone, but he’d left the bathroom light on.

There were faint noises coming from further in the room and she assumed he was settling down on the couch. She only felt a little bad at the image of him fitting his large frame on it. She fell asleep with the comical picture in her head of his long limbs sprawling over the back and arms of the couch.

For the first time that night she slept soundly, and without dreams. Pale morning light finally made her crack open slightly swollen lids to see she’d rolled over and now faced away from the windows. If it wasn’t for the large male body blocking her view she’d be able to see the rest of Oliver’s massive bedroom.

Eyes that had barely been open were now wide in shock as she took in the sight only eighteen inches from her. Oliver was next to her. Sitting upright, head tipped back against the dark wood of the headboard, feet crossed at the ankles, he was so close she could make him out clearly without her glasses. His left hand rested so close to her fingers she wondered if he’d been holding her hand at some point.

She’d frozen when she’d realized what she was looking at and it took considerable control to let out the breath she’d been holding in a way that didn’t make any unnecessary movement. By the time she’d fully exhaled her heart was thudding so loud in her ears she could hear nothing else.

Oliver had actually climbed in bed with her. It didn’t matter that he was fully clothed and above the covers. The intimacy of his actions had her mind whirling as she tried to make sense of what he’d done.

He was concerned about her. And maybe she’d had bad dreams she wasn’t aware of and he’d gotten in the bed to calm her down. That she could rationalize. It definitely went past their normal interactions, but they’d become more tactile recently, closer because of how much time they spent together and what they did. She shouldn’t make more of it than it was.

And that was all perfectly logical and sensible, but it didn’t stop a flush of heat from rising in her chest, or her stomach from flipping at his proximity, or the rushing wave of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her if she so much as cracked the rickety dam she’d put around her heart where Oliver was concerned.

The tingle of electricity that shot up her fingers and into her hand was the only indication she had that she’d stretched her hand those last few centimeters and was now touching him. She couldn’t seem to stop and she watched in a sort of horrid fascination as her fingers curled around his.

Her eyes flew to his face when she felt his fingers close around hers and hold on tight, but there wasn’t so much as a twitch of his eyelids.

For the next half an hour she was content to stay still and try and turn her brain off while she enjoyed the quiet calm of just laying next to him.

She actually found herself starting to doze back off when he shifted next to her. Blinking open heavy eyes she saw him staring at her, gaze unwavering. Neither of them spoke but she saw the questions in the look he gave her. She answered them just as silently.

When it got to be too much she dropped her eyes to their still joined hands and felt her cheeks grow warm. His thumb rubbed over her knuckles in slow comforting strokes and something that simple should not have sent shots of desire to her core, but it did. Before she could do something embarrassing like moan she pulled her hand away and sat up, pushing loose hair from her face. But when she sat back against the pillows and looked over at him she was struck by the image they must have made and a pang struck her chest at how much she wanted to be able to do this every morning.

He opened his mouth, no doubt to ask her something comforting like how she was or if she’d slept well and it was suddenly all too much. With a flush already creeping up her chest she threw back the covers and was halfway to the bathroom before she knew she was moving. Her steps faltered once when she realized how much worse running from his bed must have looked instead of just staying and talking, but she was already committed. The door shut with a satisfying thunk behind her as she leaned against it and willed her thudding heart to settle down.

With shaking hands she finger combed her hair and splashed water on her face and wondered if he’d let her get away with acting like she hadn’t just done what she’d done when she emerged.

Other than the rumpled covers there was no sight of him when she came out and she felt a flash of apprehension mixed with something else when she saw the empty room. Not quite knowing what she should do she made her way back to the bedside and was just picking up her glasses from the table when there was a knock on the door and Digg’s distinctive voice calling out Oliver’s name.

She wasn’t expecting him to come out of a door she hadn’t noticed on the other side of the room. A door that must have led to his closet since he was now wearing grey dress slacks and had his shirt open. “Come on in, Digg.” he called, eyes cutting over her briefly before Digg pushed in.

If he was surprised to see her there he didn’t show it, but she definitely saw him take in the room, including the obviously slept in bed and Oliver’s half dressed state.

Felicity slipped her glasses on and self consciously smoothed down her hair as the silence stretched on just a moment too long.

“You alright?” Digg asked, gaze holding hers in a way that made her feel like she could do nothing but tell him the truth.

“Yeah,” she nodded,

“Lance is downstairs, he’s got some info for you if you’re up to it.”

A bolt of fear went through her at what she might possibly find out, but she pushed it aside, knowing she needed to know everything.

“Yeah…yes…I want to hear whatever he has to say.” she answered hoarsely, making her way around the end of the bed.

Knowing she had to say something to Oliver she turned to see him looking at her with an inscrutable expression. “I’ll just…I’ll just go down with Digg and leave you to…you know…finish.” she waved a hand towards his half exposed chest and mentally cringed at how she must have sounded.

She didn’t wait for a response, just crossed the room to join Digg.

“I’ll be right there.” Oliver called out behind her and she waved a hand over her shoulder as she exited, blowing out a long exhale when she reached the hallway.

Digg fell into step beside her and she could hear very plainly everything he wasn’t saying.

“Everything is fine.” she said finally,

He made some sort of harrumphing noise in his throat like he didn’t believe her, “As long as you’re sure.”

“I am,” she wasn’t sure at all, her mind was a mess right then between Nate being back and Oliver…she couldn’t make sense of anything just then.

They made their way down the long staircase she hadn’t been able to walk up the night before and she found herself looking for the other Queens, not knowing how she’d be able to look them in the eye again.

She let Digg take the lead and followed him into one of the formal sitting areas. Her worn sweatshirt and leggings suddenly registered with her and she felt very young and very vulnerable as she walked in the room and saw Detective Lance in his uniform and Digg in his suit.

“Ms. Smoak,” Lance said evenly and she was glad to hear his voice held no trace of pity or tenderness. It was exactly what she needed right then.

Head coming up she broke away from Digg, her clothes no longer an issue.

“Mr. Diggle said you had information. Did you find anything else in my apartment?”

“Boys focused on the bathroom since that’s where you said it was. They also shut off your shower, by the way.”

Felicity cringed, she’d never thought again about the shower running when she’d left.

“Tell them thank you for me.”

Lance gave her a wry grin and pulled folded papers from inside his jacket pocket. “We didn’t find anything else that looked out of place or tampered with. The windows were all closed and locked. Everything was dusted and we’re running prints but…” he trailed off and she knew they wouldn’t find anything.

She nodded with a heavy heart and wrapped her arms around her middle. She wanted Nate caught and sent back to the east coast.

“I need to get an official statement from you. But I also wanted to let you know I talked to the officer in charge of Samuel’s case.” Lance paused and shifted a little closer to her. “You need to know he was released. The psychologist at the facility he was sent to declared he was stable enough on meds to be let go.”

A cold shiver ran down her spine and she held herself tighter.

“There’s no way this guy is sane enough to be out.” Digg said harshly, stepping to her side, “First thing he does is come to see her. No. And he’s still violating the restraining order.”

Lance winced, “There’s no more restraining order.”

Felicity gasped and took weak steps backwards until Digg’s strong arm caught her. “No…” she said breathlessly, “How…that’s not possible.”

“From what the case officer said there was a closed meeting with his lawyer, a judge, and the psychologist. Everything has been rescinded.”

She shook her head numbly, “How can they do that without me present? How can they not notify me?”

Lance gave a disgusted grunt, “Bureaucracy. You’ll receive a notice in the mail in seven to ten business days.”

“Oh my god.”

“We’re going to find this guy, don’t worry. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s still unhinged and he won’t have the protection of Mommy and Daddy here in Starling. We’ll be bringing him up on all new charges.” Lance said gruffly and she gave him a wavery smile in appreciation.

“Normally you’d need to come down to give your statement but…”

“Thank you,” she said sincerely as he opened the papers and showed them to her.

“Just to be certain, this box of hair dye was left in your bathroom medicine cabinet and you did not put it there yourself, nor did anyone have your permission to enter your apartment and put it there.” the photo was a close up of her cabinet interior, the box and the note seeming to jump off the page at her. An involuntary shiver went through her as she read the note again.

Swallowing heavily she nodded once. “It’s not mine and I didn’t ask anyone to put it in there.” she confirmed.

Digg asked to see the photo and Lance handed it over. When he let out a muffled curse Felicity’s head swiveled to look at him.

“What?”

There was an anger in his eyes she’d never seen before and her stomach dropped at what that could mean.

“Mr. Diggle, do you know something?” Lance prodded,

Digg’s eyes cut over to her and then back to Lance, “I checked this cabinet before I left her alone. The dye wasn’t there.” he said heavily, turning to look fully at Felicity as his words registered with her.

It took a beat too long for her to understand what he was saying. Lance had already sucked in a breath before it slammed into her.

She felt like all the air had suddenly been removed from the room and there was no feeling in her legs as she clasped both hands over her mouth. Bile rose in her throat so quick it burned and she stared at Digg in horror.

Nate had been in her apartment while she was there.


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