“Did you see that?” William called out, pointing frantically toward the left of where they stood on the Santa Monica Pier.
“What?” Oliver became alert and scanned the crowd in the direction his son pointed. All he saw was strangers milling around in their usual weekend or tourist activities. Nothing seemed to be suspicious. But that didn’t mean that Oliver was any less aware of the possible dangers.
“A photo booth.” William tugged at Oliver’s hand. “C’mon. Let’s go.” Oliver followed behind his son, still scanning everywhere. Just in case. This was the first real excitement William had shown since they had left the destruction of Lian Yu. There was no way Oliver could deny his son this one luxury. But it brought back memories. Good ones that were now painful.
The last time Oliver had stepped inside a photo booth he had been with Felicity during their road trip after leaving Starling City. Had that really been two years ago? They had landed somewhere on the opposite coast. Oliver smiled as he remembered the kiss they shared under the shade of the curtain while tram cars announced their passing.
He’d never get to experience that with her again because Felicity was gone. A pain settled into his chest, one he hadn’t been able to shake for over a month now. The only time Oliver saw Felicity’s face now was when he dared to drag out a photo album to show William or when he closed his eyes.
Oliver and his son reached the box and William smiled up at him. “Can I go in first?” “Sure, buddy.” Oliver ruffled his hair and pulled back the curtain to take a peek inside. He still didn’t trust his son’s safety when they were separated. Even if that separation was a piece of cloth or a different room. But the booth was only open on the one side so it seemed safe enough. “Go ahead.”
“Thanks, Dad.” That brought another tug to his heart. William was finally calling him Dad. And, honestly, the first time William had, Oliver’s heart had stopped. It had been about a week ago. Oliver was pretty sure it was a result of one month without his mother, but if it made his son feel better, he’d let him run around calling him a tap dancing flamingo.
Those were Felicity’s words. What she said anybody would agree to be after the torture Adrian Chase had subjected him to. And since Felicity was hardly ever wrong, he’d come to accept that Chase had really fucked up his head.
“Dad, your turn,” William called out loudly over the sounds that a nearby helicopter was making as it landed.
Oliver shook his head unable to believe he had been lost in his thoughts this whole time. Then it dawned on him what William had said. Oliver didn’t like the idea of his son being out here alone. “How about we do it together?”
William’s eyes glanced around the pier before he shrugged. “I guess.” There was a brief pause before a smile lit his face. “Can we pretend to shoot arrows?”
“Anything you want.”
The two of them stepped inside and completely hammed up for the camera, despite the loud noises of the helicopter taking off. Oliver had fun and even put on his fierce Green Arrow face for one just so his son could have one with his hero.
The second the flashes stopped, William jumped out of the booth. “I’m grabbing the pictures!”
Oliver rose to go after him but was blinded by the curtain opening. His normal breathing returned. William was coming back.
Only it wasn’t William.
“Felicity?” She had to be an illusion.
As his eyes adjusted, he noticed her smiling up at him. His Felicity. Right there in the flesh. “Oh my God. How?”
Not being able to take one more second of not touching her, Oliver pulled her toward her and hugged her tight. But then he had to look at her. He had to see her face, to make sure she was really here in front of him.
Oliver cupped her face and stared at the woman he loved. The woman he had thought he lost forever on the place that had already taken everything else from him. He had forgotten how beautiful she was. She radiated with a happiness he’d never be able to capture.
“Are you going to take a picture, Dad?”
“What?” Oliver’s brain had slowed down to molasses. It was still trying to comprehend the miracle in his hands.
“Mom and I want one, too. Can you and Felicity hurry up?”
Felicity nodded between his hands as her hands covered his. “We all made it out. The entire team and Samantha. Slade saved us. We spent two weeks trapped in the ARGUS bunker. Then another week on the island before we could radio out. Lyla had been monitoring the area with ARGUS with the hope that we survived.”
“That would’ve been over a week ago.” Where had she been since then? Why hadn’t anyone told him they survived? Felicity and Thea and Digg were alive. All of them were and no one told him.
“Most of us were injured,” Felicity explained as if reading his thoughts. She nodded down to her leg which Oliver just realized was wrapped in a brace. “I broke my leg and sprained my ankle pretty bad when the first blasts went off. Slade carried me to the bunker. Digg had to drag Curtis, who was knocked out, despite his broken arm. It was chaos. But we made it. And Lyla had all of us under observation at an ARGUS hospital in Hong Kong. We only just arrived stateside. I tracked you here.”
Oliver stared down at her and couldn’t keep the words from slipping out. “I love you.”
“I know. I love you, too.”
Oliver’s lips touched her briefly. It was the sweetest thing he ever tasted. But there couldn’t be any more right now. His son and his mother were outside. Drawing back the curtain, Oliver smiled at Samantha happy that she was okay for his son’s sake. She stood there with her arm draped over William’s shoulder. Oliver knew she wouldn’t be letting him go anytime soon and he couldn’t blame her. “Give us a couple minutes.”
William patted the pocket of his cargo shorts where he placed the satellite phone Oliver had given him earlier in the day. “I have my phone. We’re going to go play a game. If that’s okay?”
Oliver saw his son’s eyes shoot between him and his mother. But it didn’t matter. They were both in agreement on this one. William grew excited at the prospect and reached out to hug Oliver. “We’ll be right back.”
Not about to let the small hug go, Oliver drew both Samantha and their son close. He whispered down to the woman who had given him one of the best gifts he never knew he needed. “I’m glad you’re okay. He missed you terribly.”
Samantha glanced up at him as she pulled back. “Not as much as I did him.” She hugged William tight to her side. Her eyes raised up to Oliver’s. “Or as much as Felicity worried about you. She was more determined to get here than the rest of us. Felicity fought with Lyla for days on contacting you.”
Arms wrapped around Oliver’s waist from behind and he pulled around the woman who meant the world to him. “We thought we lost you.”
William winked up at him, in a small rendition of the charmer Oliver used to be. “Mom called yesterday.” He looked over at his mom. “I told her to meet us here. We came here last summer.”
Oliver was confused as his eyes shot around the group looking for answers. “You knew?”
His son and Samantha nodded. “Felicity told me to call despite the fact that we were in a secure spot that we weren’t supposed to call from. She did something with rerouting the phone call so it wasn’t able to be tracked.”
Felicity patted Oliver’s chest. “When I said I tracked you. I meant to the photo booth. It’s a long pier.” She held out her broken leg. “I’m not exactly in the best shape to keep walking until I found you. And Samantha is still recovering from her head wound. The heat isn’t exactly in her favor right now.”
That’s when Oliver noticed the large bandage at Samantha’s temple and one wrapped around her right arm. They really had been hurt. And he had left them there. Guilt crept through him and his eyes grew haunted.
“Uh-uh.” Felicity tugged at his shirt. “I know that face. That’s guilty face. You don’t need to feel guilty.”
“You didn’t know, Oliver,” Samantha chimed in. “We didn’t know, either. Anything could’ve happened after those explosions went off.”
This time it was William who squeezed onto his mom. “I missed you. We thought all of you were gone.”
“I love you, baby. I’m not going to leave you again.” Samantha kissed William on the head. “C’mon. Let’s go play that game and give your father and Felicity a moment alone.”
Oliver watched the pair walk away before he turned to Felicity. “You’re sure you’re —“
“I’m fine. We’re all fine,” Felicity cut him off. She plucked at his shirt and gave him a blinding grin. “I think you owe me a picture.”
“I owe you so much more than that,” he told her but allowed her to pull him back inside.
Felicity paid the machine and was about to sit next to him when he pulled her onto his lap. He needed to feel her weight. Oliver stared up at her, memorizing her, when the first flash went off. Her arms wrapped around his neck when the next one lit up the darkness. Oliver cradled her face with one hand as she leaned into it for the next. By the time the fourth flash split up the dark, the two were kissing.
She might have wanted to take things slow before they stepped onto the shores of Lian Yu, but Oliver wasn’t going to let her leave his sight anytime soon. The last few times he asked her to go had resulted in what he had believed to be her death. That wouldn’t be happening anymore.
Oliver planned to be by her side so much she’d be begging him to leave. But, right now, he had to have her here in his arms. The feel of her reassuring him with each passing minute that she was really here. Alive.
Felicity pulled back from him as her fingers scratched into his growing beard. The one that he hadn’t bothered to shave since the horrific destruction of his future. What had been the point? There was no one to care but him and William.
“I missed you. I missed this,” she told him.
“Stay with me.” It was more of a question. Oliver needed the assurance that Felicity wasn’t going anywhere.
“Always,” she promised. Then a grin split her mouth in two. “Oh, I’ve been meaning to tell you. Slade and Digg fought for weeks over who’s going to be the best man at the wedding.”
“Who won?” Oliver asked with a laugh.
Oliver shot her a questioning look.
“He handed them both their heads when their bickering almost lost us the opportunity to get to the helicopter Lyla sent to rescue us.” Oliver’s eyes crinkled with his laughter as he cradled Felicity close. “Sounds like him. He always did manage to put Tommy and I in our places when we screwed up.” “Quentin offered to walk me down the aisle if my dad couldn’t come or I didn’t want him there.” Felicity leaned her head against Oliver’s as their eyes locked. “I told him either way he’d be right there. I do have two arms.”
“So, all this wedding talk…” He hated to ask but now that he had her back he didn’t want to let her go.
“Soon,” she promised. “Not just yet. I’d still think we have a few things to work out first.”
“Okay.” He’d agree to fetch her the moon if she asked it of him.
“But that doesn’t mean,” she paused as if unsure how to proceed, “you could always… come back to the loft. You know because –“
Oliver cut her off with his mouth. He loved this woman. And it seemed that she was finally ready to take that step that they had been dancing around since they had been locked in the Bunker. More than that, he was finally a man who was on the path to becoming someone who she deserved. One who wouldn’t push her away when things got tough. One who would be able to open up and share everything with her. Even the hard stuff. One who could fully give her the love she deserved.
“Hey. Are you coming out?” William called out.
“Sure, buddy,” Oliver told him. “There’s just one last thing I have to do.” Oliver pushed Felicity gently off his lap and sank down to his knees, not even caring about the tight space. “Felicity Smoak, I promise to always try to be the man you need me to be, if you let me share my life with you forever. Marry me? Not today or tomorrow, but someday.”
Felicity nodded with tears in her eyes. “Yes, Oliver. I’ll marry you.” A kiss sealed their deal and a picture that somehow had never been paid for captured the each moment. It was the best vacation the Mayor of Starling City ever had.