Times Like These

Chapter 7

She screamed in terror as she scrambled backwards, knees crashing to the floor before she forced herself upright and looked around frantically for somewhere to run.

The person at the door was speaking, but her ears were ringing and she wasn’t even sure she was awake. The thought that Nate could have gotten into the mansion was too frightening to consider.

Trying to calm her rapidly racing heart she made her way slowly to the foot of the bed, only taking her eyes away from the intruder long enough to look around the room for a weapon.

The fireplace was only five steps behind her now and she backed up cautiously hand stretching behind her until she made contact with the cold iron of the poker. She drew it from the stand and held it in front of her.

Then just as suddenly the man was gone, leaving nothing but an empty doorway behind him. She sank to the carpet on wobbly legs, still holding the poker as she shook and tried to figure out if she was still dreaming or not.

The silence was more unnerving that anything. She knew she should get up and get to the phone like Digg had told her, but she couldn’t seem to get her body to respond. It wasn’t until there was another barrage of noise a few minutes later that her head jerked up.

She could hear thundering footsteps and a loud voice calling her name getting progressively closer. The grip she had on the poker tightened until Oliver, Digg, and two men she didn’t know burst through the doorway.

Felicity let out a gasping sob of relief as Oliver skidded to his knees next to her, hands dropping to her shoulders as he pulled her to him.

“Hey, hey, you’re okay.” he crooned into her hair and she sagged against him as she let her mind catch up with what was happening.

A warm hand on hers made her sit up some and look down to see Digg prying the poker from her clenched fist. “Good job,” he said quietly and then backed off to talk to the other men.

One of them now looked familiar, “Oh! You…he…” she pointed and Oliver and everyone else turned to watch her.

“I’m the agent on duty, ma'am. I heard noises from the room and came to check but…my presence seemed to frighten you. I notified Mr. Diggle and Mr. Queen as directed. My apologies, ma'am.” he said stiffly and her cheeks flushed,

“There wasn’t an intruder. Nate wasn’t here.” she said more to herself than anyone else.

Oliver’s arm wrapped around her shoulders, the warmth of him was welcome. The tank top and shorts she’d slept in were now leaving her cold as the adrenaline wore off and her sweat soaked skin cooled.

“You had a bad dream, that’s all.”

She buried her face in her hands, “Oh god, he’s getting inside my head. I know better.”

Oliver pulled her closer and tucked her head under his chin as she took long deep breaths to try and center herself. It was on the third breath that she realized he didn’t have a shirt on, which only caused her breath to stutter again.

There were more voices at the door and she peeked through her fingers to see Digg ushering out the other agents while Moira and Thea hovered just outside.

“Oliver, is everything alright? We heard screaming and yelling but Mr. Diggle said there wasn’t a security breach.” Moira asked while Thea pushed past her into the room.

“Are you alright?” it was Thea and Felicity was surprised by the kindness in her voice.

Feeling very exposed, and very awkward she pushed away from Oliver and scrambled off the floor to unsteady feet. He rose immediately next to her, a hand extended like he thought she might fall any second.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry if I woke you up. It was just a bad dream and then I didn’t know if I was awake or not and…I’m just sorry.” she stammered,

“It’s okay, you’ve got some crazy stalker guy after you. I’d be freaked out too.” Thea said with a shudder and Felicity couldn’t help but give her a tight smile. “But seriously Mom, extra security inside and out and you put the poor girl all the way over here by herself? What’s with that? If I were her I’d rather be near people.” she turned a pointed look at Moira who had the grace to drop her chin minutely.

“Perhaps that was an oversight on my part.” she conceded and exchanged a look of her own with Oliver.

“Why don’t you two go back to bed.” he suggested, taking a step forward as his hand came to rest low on Felicity’s waist. She wanted to do nothing more than to press herself into his solid, secure warmth once again and forget the past couple of days hadn’t happened. But she couldn’t do that in front of his family.

Moira nodded once and reached an arm out for her daughter, “Thea, let’s leave Ms. Smoak to get resettled. Wherever that may be.” her final words were said evenly, and without judgement and Felicity felt Oliver’s fingers tighten on her hip.

She waited until she could no longer hear them and then she stepped out of Oliver’s grasp. The heels of her hands came up to press over her eyes as she tried to calm her erratic thoughts. “I’m sorry. He’s getting into my head and messing with me. I really thought he was here.”

One strong hand wrapped around the nape of her neck while the other slid over her back and drew her slowly into him. He didn’t say a word, he just held her as she slowly relaxed. Eventually her hands fell from her face to rest against his chest and after she took one shuddering breath she gave in and laid her cheek on his warm flesh and let her arms band about his back.

He let out a long exhale of his own and tightened his hold on her. The hand on her back rubbed slow circles across the thin cotton of her shirt, the heat from his palm seeming to grow hotter with each pass. When the fingers of his other hand began to lightly massage her stiff neck she couldn’t’ stifle the low moan that escaped her throat and they both stilled at that.

This time it was Oliver that pulled back and she looked everywhere but at him until he caught her chin and directed her gaze towards his. There was so much in his eyes she felt like she was being pulled under. “Do you want to stay in here?” he asked throatily and a bolt of desire shot through her at his tone. The slight darkening of his eyes made her wonder if he’d seen something in her expression.

Her head shook left to right before she could get the words out. “No. I’m sorry. It’s a beautiful room but…” and she didn’t want to stay there. She didn’t want to be alone.

“That’s all you have to say.” his hand skimmed down her arm, leaving goosebumps in it’s wake until he reached her hand. He wrapped his fingers around hers and squeezed tight. “Come on, you need sleep. And so do I. I didn’t like having you over here either.”

The breath caught in her throat at his admission. “You weren’t sleeping?” she asked as he turned and began to tow her towards the door. He snagged her phone and glasses from the bedside table before they exited, but didn’t hand them over.

“I kept thinking about how long it would take to get to you if something happened. And then I got the call from the agent and…I found out how long it would take. Too damn long.”

She couldn’t speak after hearing that and settled for slipping her fingers through his until their palms touched.

They made their way into the hallway, and she barely paid attention as he lead her back towards his room. At the first juncture the agent who had scared her so badly fell into step behind them. When they finally reached Oliver’s room he took up a station outside the door.

Her resolve faded a bit when she was once again inside his space. But Oliver didn’t hesitate. He walked towards the bed and pulled back the still perfectly made covers, supporting his claim that he hadn’t been sleeping.

“Go on,” he said, and gestured towards the sheets she’d loved so much the night before.

“Oliver…” she protested, not knowing how she felt about getting back into his bed again. Things were shifting quickly with them and she knew he felt it too.

“Felicity. We need sleep. It’s just sleep. Get in the bed.”

Hearing him say those words made the low pool of heat in her belly spring to life and a flush rise in her chest. “Okay,” she said, barely audible and before she could second guess what she was doing she climbed in and scooted over.

She heard a clunk and another softer sound as he sat her phone and glasses down and then there was a dip and he was sliding between the sheets as well.

Heart pounding she forced herself to lay as still as possible as he got comfortable, one hand slipping behind his head as he lay on his back.

Thinking it would be better if she wasn’t looking at him she turned on her side and curled into a ball, an ocean of mattress now between them. If he knew what she was doing and why he decided to let it go.

They exchanged whispered goodnights and she didn’t lay there long before she was once again asleep.

She didn’t know if it was Oliver’s presence, or her exhaustion, or a combination of the two, but she slept soundly and didn’t wake until the room was lit with morning light and a repeating noise from her phone made her crack open her eyes.

All she knew was she was warm and comfortable and the noise was annoying. She didn’t want to move, and when there was a bit of silence she sighed gratefully and turned into the solid presence behind her.

Her phone began again and she groaned. There was a shifting next to her and she pushed up on one arm to see the offending device on the table across from Oliver. Without thought she reached over his bare chest where she was currently half draped and snatched the phone up with an irritated growl. She muted the phone and laid her head back down on his shoulder as his hand slipped over her hip, thumb drawing circles on her exposed skin.

She was sleepy and content, and it wasn’t until his other hand reached up and moved away hair that had escaped her braid that she went still, realizing exactly what she was doing.

A low humming sound came from deep in his chest and she heard him mumble her name as his hold on her tightened.

With her heart pounding, worried about what he would do when he woke up she didn’t dare move. Breath by breath she let herself relax back into him, telling herself not to enjoy how perfect and natural it felt to lay there in his arms.

The hand on her hip was still occasionally swirling around the sensitive skin, his fingers sliding easily under the hem of her shirt where it had pushed up while she’d slept. Tingles of electricity seemed to skitter from wherever he touched and she let her traitorous thoughts stray to places it shouldn’t.

The phone was still clutched in her hand where it rested on the center of Oliver’s chest and she was staring at the almost surreal sight when the screen lit up again with what she could now see was a text.

The three texts still viewable were from a number she didn’t recognize and at first she assumed they were a wrong number until the name that each text began with resonated with her.

'Jenny-No one can keep me away from you!’

'Jenny-Stop ignoring me or you’ll be sorry!’

'Jenny-why aren’t you answering me?’

She forgot all about trying to stay still as she pushed off of Oliver’s chest and scrambled to sit up thumbing on her phone to look at the other texts she’d received.

Each one made her stomach churn as she read them with horror.

'Jenny-I need you!’

'Jenny-You can’t hide from me forever.’

'Jenny-I waited for you all night’

'Jenny-You why aren’t you at your apartment’

Hand covering her open mouth, a thousand questions ran through her mind. The biggest one however, was how Nate had gotten her phone number.

So distracted by the texts she hadn’t noticed when Oliver had woken up. It wasn’t until a warm hand ran up her arm and she felt his breath in her ear that she noticed he was awake.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked, immediately on alert. She jerked her head up and to the side so she could see him, no longer phased by his nearness. He had one hand braced behind her as he leaned forward to see what she was looking at.

Soundlessly she handed him the phone and let herself sink back half an inch until she made contact with him, the twisting fear in her gut abating some by the unspoken comfort he gave her.

Every muscle in his body seemed to tense at once as he read. “How did he get your number?” he asked harshly,

She shook her head and took the phone back before she answered, “I don’t know. It’s not listed, I’m very careful with who I give it out to…I have no idea how he got it.”

“Do you recognize the number it came from?” he’d sat up straighter and pulled away from her some which made her shiver. The sheets were pooled in both their laps, leaving her bare arms exposed to the cooler air of the room.

“No, I’ll run the usual traces but I’d bet it’s a burner phone. I could probably find a general location for where the texts were sent from but…” a dark thought crossed her mind and she had to pause and take a deep breath through her nose before she could voice it, “God… they were sent either from my apartment or near there, I’m sure of it.”

A low growl rumbled from him and she only felt grateful when he wrapped an arm around her waist, hand splayed across her abdomen and tugged her into him. She went without resistance, turning so she could curl against his side.

“You’re not going back there until he’s caught.” Oliver said and she swore she felt his lips brush her temple before he was setting her back and sliding from the bed.

“I’m going to call Digg, he’ll want to see those.” he was already halfway across the room heading for the desk where his phone sat.

Her mouth went dry as she saw how low his sweats rested on his hips and almost got caught staring when he came back her way, phone in one hand, grey hoodie in the other.

“Digg, I need you to come up to the house.” he said into the phone, wordlessly handing her the hoodie. When she quirked a confused brow at him he turned the phone slightly away from his mouth, “You’re cold,” he mouthed before he turned his attention back to Digg.

“We’ll show you when you get up here.” he replied to Digg’s question and hung up.

Slowly she slid her arms into the sleeves and pulled it over her shoulders. He’d worn it earlier because his scent still lingered and it took everything in her not to turn her nose into the fabric and inhale. She rolled the cuffs and adjusted it around her before she looked up to see him staring at her, a look in his eyes she’d never seen before.

Felicity cleared her throat and ran a nervous hand over her head before she looked around and leaned across the bed to grab her glasses. She turned her phone back on and busied herself doing what she could with her limited resources as a way to ignore whatever was going on between her and Oliver.

When Digg arrived a few minutes later Oliver had slipped on a t-shirt and was pacing next to the bed. She only noticed when there was a rap on the door and Digg pushed in that she was still sitting in the middle of Oliver’s bed.

Deciding she’d have to try and act as nonplussed as possible she straightened up and made sure the texts were on her screen as he approached them. His dark eyes cast an appraising look over both of them and she didn’t miss the slight narrowing there that let her know he didn’t totally approve.

“Here,” she said a little more enthusiastically than necessary, holding the phone out to him, “I don’t know how he got the number. I’ll run everything I can when we get to the lair but…he was at my apartment. Somehow…I just know that’s where he was.” her shoulders contracted in an involuntary shiver and she watched Digg’s jaw tighten as he read through the messages.

“Can I send these to Lance? Maybe this will be enough to get someone posted at your apartment.”

She nodded her consent and looked at the clock, shocked to see it was later than she’d expected. “Crap, we’re going to be late for work.” she said in a rush and hurried to throw the covers back and climb from the bed. Oliver and Digg had both backed up as she moved past and then stopped suddenly. “All my things are still in the other room.”

Oliver stepped forward, “Go take a shower and I’ll have someone bring your things over. We’ll stop by the lair first so you can do what you need to do.”

“Oliver…you had a meeting at ten this morning…”

“And it can be rescheduled. Nothing is more important right now.” he said seriously and she had to swallow heavily at the intensity in his eyes.

“Okay,” she whispered, and before she could say or do something she shouldn’t she made her way into the bathroom without looking back.

Her mind was whirling as she turned on the shower and stripped, taking the hoodie off reluctantly. It wasn’t until she’d unbraided her hair and was standing under the hot spray that the fact she was naked in Oliver’s shower resonated within her.

A flash of how they’d woken up came to the forefront of her mind and a warm, happy feeling filled her. For just one minute she let herself want that. She let herself believe that was possible, that it was something she could have everyday. The attraction she’d had for him had only grown over the past six months since he’d been back and it wasn’t something she could ignore any longer. He’d done and said things that made her think it wasn’t completely one-sided, and that tiny bit of hope was quickly growing out of control.

She didn’t know how long she’d been standing there day dreaming and had to force herself to hurry through the rest of her shower. When she got out and dried off she had the very real issue of only having a towel to wear. Cheeks already pink she cracked the door open and looked out but saw no one, she also didn’t see her bags.

Tip-toeing across the carpet she was looking to see if Digg had left her phone when a woman in a uniform emerged from the closet. “Oh, Miss Felicity, your bags have been moved as requested.”

Feeling extremely self-conscious Felicity mumbled out a thank you and waited for the woman to leave before she half ran to the closet before anyone else could catch her without any clothes on.

She was expecting to see her suitcases stacked off to the side. The sight that greeted her was enough to make her knees weak. Her bags had been unpacked. Not only had they been unpacked they had been hung up. In Oliver’s closet.

Her work dresses hung on a rack next to his suits and her other clothes were folded on open shelves, her shoes sitting next to his on a long rack. She was dumbstruck at the want that washed over her.

She was so affected by seeing her things so easily mingled with his that when he entered the closet behind her and immediately apologized she didn’t hear him at first.

Felicity whirled on the spot when he called her name as she clutched the top of her towel tightly.

“Oliver!” she blurted out, “I’m sorry. I…I didn’t think they’d do this. This is…too much. I could have just taken my things out of the suitcase, it would have been fine. I don’t want to impose. I mean, more than I already have.”

He took two steps forward and she didn’t miss how he took in her clothes mixed with his.

“Felicity, it’s okay. I told them to put your things in here.” he assured her, but his voice was tight and had a timbre to it she’d never heard before.

There was only a foot between them and it was suddenly hard to breathe. His eyes darkened as he leaned closer and she was sure there was no more air entering her lungs and she didn’t dare blink.

When his hand coasted over her cheek her eyes fell shut, his name tripping off her tongue at a whisper.

“You should get dressed.”

But the words sounded forced and her eyes flew open to see him closer than ever. She watched as a war raged inside him and with one more drag of his knuckles across her cheek he dropped his hand and stepped back before he left the room.

She let out a ragged breath and then forced herself to focus on what she needed to do. Spending time wondering what was going on between her and Oliver when Nate was out there didn’t do anyone any good.

However, as she got dressed, standing in the largest closet she’d ever seen, surrounded by Oliver’s things she knew that would be easier said than done. And her cheek still tingled where he’d touched her.


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