25. “We can never be together” kiss
The AU AU
“You and me–him,” Oliver spoke softly, shifting next to her where they leaned against the weapons bench. “You were… we were…”
“Friends,” Felicity answered just as softly. “You–um. He. He called us partners.”
He nodded, staring straight ahead, and Felicity watched her toes, reaching up to awkwardly rub at her neck under the fall of her loose curls. She had never fought with Oliver so much, and it hurt. They’d butted heads; of course they had. They even hurt each other’s feelings sometimes. But it hadn’t been like it was with this Oliver.
Sometimes he’d forget to be angry and just treat her like… like she was Felicity. His Felicity. Every single time, she hoped. But then he would remember, and he’d stiffen up, and he’d snap at her and close off again. Felicity had thought this would even out eventually, that he’d–well, that he’d forgive her for being the wrong girl, for her younger, alternate self dying. She’d thought they would have to start over, find a new dynamic, but that they would.
It had been months now, and she was starting to think she was wrong.
Her head came up so quickly it made her dizzy, and she reached back to clutch the cold steel edge of the bench as she turned to stare at Oliver’s profile. His expression was solemn, a little inscrutable, and he looked straight ahead rather than at her.
Licking dry lips, Felicity couldn’t stop herself as she asked, “Are you apologizing to me, or the wall over there?”
His lips curled at the edges, a puffed snort of laughter escaping as he nodded once, pulling his bottom lip through his teeth as he lowered his gaze to the floor. “I deserve that. I’ve been… hard on you.” She snorted, and he tilted his head in concession. “Harder on you than I had to be. Or than you deserved. I know that.”
Felicity inhaled in surprise, biting her lip and fighting not to look away.
He turned and looked at her, smile vanishing. “I can’t promise I won’t do it again. I know it’s not fair, it’s just… you’re her, but you’re not her, you know? And I know I’m not him.”
“No,” he lifted a hand like he’d touch her, then dropped it. “I know I’m not. Felicity and me, before, we were… we were friends. And yeah. She was a partner. I’m too pissed that you’re here because she’s not to let you be what she was, or what she was going to be–what you are, to the Oliver you knew.”
Felicity swallowed her heart and dropped her eyes to the fraying collar of his gray Henley.
“But you weren’t just friends, were you.”
Her eyes flew up to his, wide, lips parting in shock. He nodded like she’d confirmed it. “I see the way you look at me, Felicity. Honestly it’s… it’s a little bit how she looked at me, but it’s… there’s more.”
Cheeks flaming with warmth, she turned her head and looked away, twisting her fingers together in front of her stomach. Her chest squeezed like a vise, and tears pricked at her eyes even as embarrassment blocked her throat. “We–we never… You–I mean, me and him, it wasn’t like…”
“I’m not an idiot,” he sighed. “I know that me and Feli–her. That could’ve–it could’ve been possible. Maybe. I don’t know, there was… it wasn’t nothing there. And neither of us is stupid enough for you to pretend that didn’t turn into something for you and him. But Felicity…”
His fingers were rough with calluses as they skimmed over her chin and along her jaw, drawing a gasp from her as he turned her cheek to make her look at him. She stared at him in confusion, horrible hope, and quiet, bitter pain as he searched her face, seeming to memorize it–maybe cataloging the ways she looked different from the Felicity who died in the foundry.
His thumb stroked high along her cheekbone, a fingertip tracing the industrial bar in the rim of her ear, and Felicity swallowed hard, shutting her eyes and biting her lip.
She had missed Oliver’s touch without even realizing.
Not that they had been overly physical in their relationship, but they had both grown tactile with each other; hands on shoulders or elbows, brushes of fingers as they passed, the occasional hug. His hand on her cheek once or twice, just like this. That hushed spark of tension of… potential.
His palm shifted against her skin, and the pad of his thumb pressed to her chin, tugging her lower lip free from her teeth. “Felicity…”
Her lashes fluttered behind her glasses, and she opened her eyes just as he leaned down, closing his. She shut her eyes again, heart leaping high–and dropping like a stone as his mouth covered hers.
The kiss was firm, his lips warm, unexpectedly soft as they pressed hers open, slid between them. His teeth scraped her bottom lip and when she gasped, he slipped his tongue into her mouth to touch tentatively to hers.
Her fingers curled against her palms so hard, the nails bit painful crescents.
It was a slow, deliberate kiss, nothing chaste as he learned her mouth, and she hesitantly mapped his in turn. But it felt sad.
It felt like sorry.
Their mouths parted and hovered close, sharing breath, before Oliver pulled away another few inches, his hand still cupping her face. Felicity opened her eyes and he was already looking at her, still so somber.
Licking his lips, he swallowed, blinking at her. “That’s never gonna be us.”
Breath catching, she nodded, lips tucking between her teeth. His thumb teased them free again, and he surprised her with a second kiss, quick, gentle.
His forehead leaned against hers, the tip of their noses brushing, and he breathed, “I’m sorry.”
His hand slid down her neck, squeezed her shoulder, and dropped to his side as he straightened. Felicity stared at the steel benchtop through gathering tears as he walked away and shut the door behind him.