Chapter 15: Flawed

The date at Alfredo’s could have gone better if it weren’t for the both of them being so damn awkward and not up to date on social rules. After Bella had suggested that they’d pretend to be on a fake date, things started to go a little bit smoother. Bella had ordered mushroom ravioli while he went for tagliatelle alfredo with added chicken and mushrooms, just in case the chef couldn’t make the ravioli since they weren’t on the menu.

After their dinner, they retreated to Oliver’s apartment where every room was decorated with flowers, roses and lilies – mostly because Oliver really didn’t know what to get her, but they weren’t looked at as Bella had dragged him off into the bedroom where they stayed for the rest of the night.

When he woke up the next morning, Bella was still asleep. Pleased with himself and the view that he had of Bella looking like some sort of tiny angelic devil, he got out of bed and went to the kitchen to make the both of them some coffee and breakfast while he checked his messages on the phone. He had had his phone on silent ever since he had left the office yesterday as he really didn’t want to be disturbed or distracted on his evening out with Bella.

Most messages were from Felicity and they were a little hard to ignore as there were so many.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the paper, again. She looked hot!

You didn’t look so bad yourself, either. Hope the food was good!

You have to call me asap.

Come to the arrowcave.

Oliver, wake up and come here! Take Bella with you!

OLIVER!

Oh, caps don’t really work on the phone, do they? Hurry up, this is important. I finished with Bella’s DNA. It’s fascinating.

Oliver snorted. Perhaps it was important, but right now, the most important thing was to have a relaxed morning. Both he and Bella had been hitting the ground running early the last two weeks – either with work or actually running – and they deserved a no fuss morning.

Satisfied by his own handy work; toast, eggs, coffee, he went back to the bedroom to wake up Bella with a nice breakfast in bed. “Good morning, gorgeous,” he smiled at her. She looked so well fucked underneath that seemingly serene expression on her face. She was no angel, she was a vampire – and he loved it.

Bella greeted Oliver with a sleepy smile as she turned her head on the pillow to face him, letting it drop back down. Grabbing his waistband, she tried to pull him back into the bed. “Morning Baby,” she murmured, testing the pet name with their new status on their first full day as a couple. “You look well rested. Come back to bed…”

“I will,” he snorted as he set down the tray on the nightstand and crawled back in bed. He leaned over her and softly kissed her. “I got you some coffee,” he kissed her again.

She moaned into his mouth at the mention of the coffee, quickly distracted. “Okay,” she said as she pulled away, looking over at the ready he had set aside with their breakfast. “It’s going to be crazy today, isn’t it?” Bella asked, sitting up as she took a lazy effort to cover herself.

“Well, that depends,” he replied as he handed her a mug. “Do you really want to know where you’re from? She might even have your birth parents on record.”

Bella looked up from her steaming cup of bliss hesitantly. “Um, sure. Did Felicity say anything concerning?”

“Nah, just her usual excitement about learning something new, nothing to worry about.” Oliver grabbed a piece of toast and took a bite off of it. “And she’s only done this to confirm my thoughts about your ancestors originating from the region, so all she has to do is validate that, I suppose.”

Making a face, she knew the perfect start of the day was going to turn into a long one. With a resigned sigh, Bella rubbed at her faced in attempt to wake herself more. “We may as well as get a start then. Hopefully we can keep her contained if we get this over with sooner and maybe get back before Pandora decides to make a personal visit to Starling City.”

“Hmm, but the perfect thing is?” Oliver smiled at her as he reached for his coffee. “She sent me messages, didn’t actually call me. So, we can have a very very late morning.”

“As far as she knows, you haven’t read them yet,” she smirked.

“Exactly,” Oliver grinned as he took a sip of his coffee.

Bella laughed as she threw the sheet back and stretched. “As tempting as it sounds, I am intrigued to see what she found out. Also, I was hoping, Ollie, darling, that you would actually start my training soon. Alfred thinks I can begin with some stuff.”

He put his mug back on the table and put his toast down. “Yeah?” He smiled at her. “How’s your upper body strength?”

“If you’re talking about the salmon ladder, think again. I know I’m not that strong yet-”

“Not the salmon ladder,” he countered and shook his head. “Even Sara has problems with it.”

“Can we leave her out of any discussion whenever we’re in bed?” Bella asked, grimacing as she pulled away to go look for her bag.

“I was wondering how your upper body strength was because you need when using a bow. If I think it’s not sufficient, we’re going to work on that. I know you’ve been running with Diggle, so maybe we’re going to work with some weights today or do some chin-ups.”

She nodded in acceptance. “Sounds good,” she grinned as she slipped a sports bra on, happy to have packed workout clothes so that she didn’t have to change again right away. “We bringing them anything or?”

“Well,” Oliver smirked. “How about no? We’re going to run from here to Verdant. Easy.”

Bella narrowed her eyes, as she finished dressing with a grunt. “You’re supposed to be the caring boyfriend now. Not trying to kill me by inducing a cardiac arrest.”

Oliver grinned as he got out of bed and got dressed into sweatpants and a t-shirt before getting a backpack. “Start stretching.”

“Hmm something else for the papers to run wild about. Us working out together now that you found out I’m cheating on you with your driver. Don’t trust me anymore?” she chuckled.

“What? Former Billionaire kills girlfriend on a run?” He snorted as he put a change of clothes for the both of them in the bag, including both their phones and wallets so that Bella didn’t have to carry anything to make her run a bit smoother. The Glades wasn’t that far away from the apartment, but it was still quite the jog. It could have been worse. He could have had her run back to her house. 20 miles. Maybe in a couple of months.

~o.O.o~

By the time they reached Verdant, Bella had already had at least eight different scenarios of Oliver’s murder plotted in her head as she glared at the back of his head while she followed him through the empty club, slugging down her second bottle of water. “I hate you,” she said again, losing count the number of times she repeated the mantra since they left the complex.

“I know,” he grinned. “But you wanted to train with me, not my fault.” He opened the door to the basement, both he and Bella were sweaty messes. “I’ll give you half an hour to catch your breath while we hear what Felicity has to say, then we’re going to do a few press ups.”

“I hate you!” she repeated louder but the others were able to hear now, startled.

“We could always run back and get the car?” Oliver inquired with a smirk on his face as he jumped off the steps.

Bella sneered at him, walking much slower as she prayed the longer run wouldn’t begin causing her legs to cramp up. “Asshole,” she muttered as she went over to pull herself up onto the table beside Diggle and started rubbing her legs down. “Magnesium?”

Diggle chuckled as he held out a bottle to her and some pills. “It has every vitamin that you need to combat some of the torture that he just had you live through.”

“Thanks,” she grumbled, swallowing a few pills dry. “So what did we miss?”

Oliver sat on his haunches on a chair next to Felicity and looked at her from his perch. “For now, just the confirmation or non-confirmation about her ancestors, Felicity.”

“Oh,” Felicity’s face fell a bit and typed something on her computer before a screen popped up. “Well, your ancestors were definitely not from China, they were from the Philippines and they were from a small tribe that’s now either extinct or so watered down down the line that it’s not… well, it doesn’t exist anymore. A handful of relatives definitely live on the mainland of China. What I’ve discovered is that this tribe firmly believed in soul magic and reincarnation. That at birth, the child is already promised to ‘the one’ who’s on its wavelength because their souls met in a previous life or something like that. That every member of the tribe, distant relative or if you only have a smidgen of that DNA left in you, can sense if they share the same ancestors.”

“Sounds like a fairy tale to me,” Diggle chuckled.

“I can’t possibly begin to tell you if they have anything to do with those herbs you mentioned, there really isn’t much to go on, you know,” Felicity said as she spun her chair and looked at Bella – who looked dead tired – and then at Oliver. “Was this what you were after?”

“Yep. That’s one mystery settled.” Oliver said with a nod as he hopped off the chair and started to prepare the salmon ladder so that Bella could do some chin ups on it after she pushed herself up a few times.

“You’re catching my dead ass,” Bella commented, not having commented on what she heard yet about her heritage because she was still processing it. She looked up at the bar with disdain, as if hoping it would magically disappear.

“It’s on the lowest rod, you can reach for it while you’re standing on the ground. It’s only to do chin ups. It works fine.” Oliver said as he showed her what he was talking about. “Just like those bars in primary school where you used to tumble over, like so.” He pulled himself up and then tipped over to roll over the bar and landed on his feet after release. “It’s just the grown up way now.”

She scoffed as she pulled herself up for the first rep. “I hope you weren’t planning on getting laid tonight after that run…”

He grinned and grabbed her around the waist to pull her away from the rod. “First, I want you to do ten pushups. Then, ten on the rod, then back to ten on the floor.”

“Oliver, aren’t you being a little too hard on her?” Diggle asked carefully. “You’ve already had her run from the apartment to here.”

“She asked me this morning if I could start training with her and this is easy stuff,” Oliver said with a shrug. “Besides, if I’m working her too hard, she’ll say something. Like… stop,” he said, looking at Bella. “Right?”

“He’s just punishing himself right now,” she replied. “I’ll be too sore for any kind participation later so he’s on his own.”

“I’ll go get the car,” Diggle said with a sigh as he got to his feet. “Felicity, you keep an eye on them. If Oliver goes too far, hit him over the head with something heavy. Bella’s not a superhuman.”

“I thought the bullet proof skin was evidence to the contrary,” Bella joked as she continued her pull ups despite Oliver trying to get her down.

“Come on, Bella, you need to do some push ups too, to strengthen your back muscles.”

Diggle laughed as he heard Oliver whine and left the basement to fetch Oliver’s car.

“Fine,” she said as she let herself go, dropping onto him.

“Bella, you asked me to train you, I’m not like Diggle. If we’re going to do this, I need you to focus,” Oliver was strictly business as he spoke and straightened her up before letting go of her. “No jokes, no flirting, no sex talk. If you’re not going to do what I’m telling you to do, then I’m wasting my time.”

Sighing, she looked at him disappointed. It was her way of taking her mind off the pain and push through the harder parts of the training she knew he did. Blinking back against his words, Bella only nodded as she walked away as she went to start on the push ups, her face tensing the further she got along but said nothing.

“Oliver…”

“Felicity, not now,” Oliver said as he walked over to the sink and got a big pan out of it and filled it with water while Bella did as he told her to do. She had wanted to train with him and even from Diggle he expected focus and to take things seriously. Once the pan was filled, he set it down on a workbench and turned to Bella. “Okay, that’s enough for today. You’ve done great.”

Bella grunted something in return as she rubbed her arms with a frown as she slowly moved to look over the table, eyeing the water knowingly. She wasn’t sure what expression she had on her face, but she knew that the girl didn’t like it and she couldn’t bring herself to react as she had put herself back into somewhat of a similar mindset as when she was working some field cases with her company.

“Yeah, go take a shower to keep those muscles warm,” Felicity said as she got up from her chair and shot a look at Oliver that could have killed him. She wrapped a warm coat around Bella and ushered her to the shower. Just because he hadn’t coddled Bella, didn’t mean that she could. “He’s a jerk.”

“He hasn’t worked out with me before so relax,” she said quietly, rolling her shoulder as she let herself be guided away. It wouldn’t hurt to wash up some especially after that run. “I’ll be fine. I’ll just continue my cardio with Diggle, that’s all.”

“He has no right to treat you the way that he did just now,” Felicity said as she turned on the shower. “Will you be alright in here?”

Bella eyed her, nodding. “He takes this seriously so don’t fault him for that. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay, let me know if you need anything,” Felicity said as she dropped Oliver’s backpack to the floor and headed back, only to see him up on the salmon ladder. “You’re lucky you’re up there!” She called out to him.

“Or what?” Oliver said, looking down on Felicity.

She turned around and sat back down behind her computer. “Nothing,” she muttered as she typed away on her keyboard. “Hit him with something heavy,” she muttered to herself. “Yeah, right.”

“Any leads on Peter Warren, Felicity?” He asked as he grabbed the rod and climbed his way down again. He left the rod on the lowest rank and jumped down before making his way over to his station to make new arrows. Both he and Roy had burned through at least half of them during the last week, if not more.

“He still hasn’t visited his house and he hasn’t shown up at Bella’s house either. Diggle thinks he’s in the wind.”

“Keep looking. If he is, he’ll show up somewhere.”

“I’ll get right on that,” she said sarcastically as she opened the new window to start a fresh search. “You’re lucky Bella is head over heels for you. Even working with Diggle, I’ve noticed that she deals with the stress he puts on her with humor but she always succeeded in whatever challenge he gave. Two weeks may not be a lot of time but she’s a lot more relaxed and friendlier since retiring even with joining the team.”

“Yeah, that’s a good thing,” Oliver said as he focused on what he was doing. “And I’m not Diggle.”

“And she is not Sara to react the same way as you do,” Felicity reminded him. “She has been working her ass off. You just haven’t seen it.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is,” Felicity said as she stopped typing but kept her back towards Oliver as not seeing him gave her the strength to say things to him that she normally wouldn’t – where was Laurel when you needed her? “Even though she’s a lot like you, she is not like you. She’s a normal human being with normal feelings and…” She turned around when she heard the door close. Oliver wasn’t sitting behind his work bench anymore and his suit and bow were missing. “Great.”

Oliver was lucky that he kept his motorbike at Verdant, this made it easier for him to get faster to where he wanted to be without having to jump over rooftops. Riding his bike also gave him the opportunity to think. Had he been too hard on Bella? Perhaps, but this wasn’t a joke. He needed to know that she’d be safe when she’d be in the field with him I obecause despite her being safe from projectiles and some forms of impact, she needed to be able to look after herself his way. No guns.

Yeah, she had training – obviously, but it wasn’t good enough. And maybe, Bella hadn’t thought this properly through. Had he been an asshole for having her run all across town to the Glades with him? Yeah, maybe. But she could have stopped him. She should have.

He parked his bike at the end of the street where Peter Warren lived before making his way over to the house. He found the backdoor open and decided to look around for clues – maybe Peter liked to keep notes and would tell Oliver exactly where he was.

The house was a pig sty, smelling of cat feces and mould. No wonder, he was still in the Glades and he had read about poor housing, but this couldn’t be healthy. What if a family lived in a house like this? No doubt the children would get sick! There were boxes everywhere with each a different label, but he didn’t have to look in them because right on the dinner table was a map and blueprint of Bella’s property and several areas were tagged as possible spots to keep an eye on the house and see everything without being seen himself.

Oliver made a mental note of all locations and slipped out of the house again. Peter Warren could not be found, he had vanished into thin air – but what if he’d been on the property all along, biding his time until Bella was alone in the house so he could continue terrorizing her? Just the idea of that made Oliver’s blood boil as he ran back to his bike and started his journey to the mansion. Seeing that it was only around 2pm, Oliver was going to surprise Peter during daylight. Oliver was going to find the asshole’s camp, he was going to capture him, interrogate him and deliver him to A.R.G.U.S. as a normal prison was simply out of the question.

~o.O.o~

Bella had set herself to work on the bowl of water, silently staring as the water splashed with every strike she made. She never complained as she sat there and when she slapped the bowl empty, she stood to refill it and switched arms to begin the routine all over again.

When Diggle returned, he was not surprised that Oliver was gone but he was surprised by Bella who seemed to be zoned out while hitting the water. He looked at Felicity while pointing at Bella. “Did he tell her to do that?”

“No, he just put it down before he left.”

“Why did he leave? When?”

“I scolded him for working her too hard…” Felicity said softly. “And I can’t get her to stop.”

Diggle groaned. “This is all my fault.”

“Why? You weren’t an ass to her.”

Diggle took the pan away from Bella and emptied it in the sink before gathering her things. “No, but I have been trying to get her to take it easy during our runs because she’s pushing herself too much. I’ve been complimenting her too much so she might have thought that she was ready to deal with Oliver’s training. This is my fault.” He wrapped a coat around Bella and handed her a bottle of mixed water and vitamins. “Come on lady, let’s get you home.”

Diggle was more pissed off with himself than he was with Oliver, he realized as he drove Bella home. He had given Bella the confidence of her being able to keep up with Oliver since he had been the one taking her out for a run and he had known that she pushed herself too hard. He tried his best to slow her down, but he should have made it clear to her that she was nowhere ready for what Oliver had in mind. He should also have warned her about him, period.

Whereas Diggle understood that people had different ways to workout, Oliver demanded focus and no fooling around. Oliver didn’t really like it when people talked to him when he was working out and only had accepted it as a necessity because he wasn’t the only one in the basement anymore, but he’d rather that everyone just did their job.

He kept an eye on Bella through the rearview mirror, and was happy that she had started to snap out of her zone somewhat, there was some colour back on her cheeks and her eyes didn’t look so vacant. What the hell was Oliver thinking anyway? Bella was a lot more sensitive than she let on – and just as stubborn as Oliver. First have her run all the way from the apartment to Verdant and then have her do a few push ups? Was he nuts? Yes, Diggle was to blame for this mess, but Oliver should have known better.

As he drove up to the driveway, he noticed that Charlie wasn’t home and sighed. There was no one to keep an eye on Bella. “You need to take an ice bath, Bella,” Diggle said as he looked at her. “You’re going to hurt in all the wrong places tomorrow.”

“Eh, I’ve been through worse,” Bella casually shrugged as she nearly tumbled out of the car when she opened the door. “Dig, I’m fine,” she said as he helped her up. “I’m going to do as you said, take an ice bath and then I’m going to crawl into bed with some Tylenol and behave.”

“Would you like me to find Oliver?”

“No,” she said as she shook her head. “Not because I don’t want him here, because I do, but because he’ll come when he’s done with whatever he’s doing right now.” She opened the door and managed a smile for him. “I’ll call Charlie to pick up groceries on his way back.”

“Do you require assistance inside?”

“Diggle, I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. Go do your job,” she said as she went inside and closed the door in front of him.

~o.O.o~

He should have done this days ago. He should have been smarter and he should have been here days ago but his duties as Oliver Queen got in the way of him being the Arrow. With Bella on his mind, he wasn’t the Arrow but Oliver Queen playing dress up and Oliver Queen was stupid. Oliver Queen asked too much of his girlfriend when she said she wanted him to train her. What a great way to start a relationship and what a way to fuck up.

It was expected, of course, he thought he had gotten better with people skills ever since returning from the island. He believed he was doing better. But it was clear that he still needed to work on it. Oliver was going to apologize to Bella later – if she even wanted to see him. He would have gone right now, as he had seen Diggle drive her home just a few minutes ago, but seeing as he was currently in a tree waiting to pounce on Peter Warren, it was a bit impossible.

And the reason why he thought he was an idiot was that Peter Warren always had the upper hand when it came to tormenting Bella with the lightning. Oliver lost the fight with Peter – not that it was much of a fight anyway – because it was dark and Peter had the upper hand, he had seen him coming a mile away, even with Oliver trying to be as stealthy as possible. The best way to catch him was to wait and ambush him.

Maybe this whole thing with Bella was a mistake. Doing what Oliver did could hurt her in many ways possible and he didn’t want to do that to anyone who was close to him. Granted, Bella had some training and the whole shield thing was amazing and handy, but what if she got hurt by something else he did? Like what happened today? What if he had hurt her on an emotional level and what if she didn’t want to see him again? What if Bella would hurt him back?

The sound of a motorbike pulled Oliver out of his thoughts and back to alertness. He shifted a little on the branch he was hiding out on and waited. It took maybe five minutes before Peter Warren showed up and Oliver was willing him to come and stand underneath the branch that was hanging over the tent Peter had been sleeping in. Oliver hated it when he was right.

The moment Peter had gotten off the bike and removed his helmet, he had grabbed his phone and called someone. Oliver couldn’t really hear what was being said, but the man’s intonation made it clear that he was talking to his employer. Good, Oliver thought. He wanted a conversation with Peter’s employer himself, but it wouldn’t end up the way that person would have wanted.

Oliver needed to time this right as he needed to jump Peter and secure his hands behind his back so he wouldn’t have a target to point at. Then, Oliver needed to knock him out and he hoped Diggle wasn’t too far away yet. There was no way that Oliver could transport an unconscious person on his bike and look innocent at the same time.

When Peter was in position, Oliver leapt off the branch, knocking Peter to the ground and quickly turned him around to secure his hands with a ziptie. Before Peter could respond, Oliver hit him on the head with his bow, knocking him out. Oliver was surprised how easy that was.

He took his phone out of his pocket and noticed that he had several missed calls by Felicity and Diggle – Oliver was going to endure a shouting reprimand later – and called Diggle. “Hey, where are you?”

Five minutes away from Bella’s house. You know, your girlfriend who you had working hard?”

Oliver winced. “Come back, I have a surprise.”

Oliver…”

“You can yell at me later. Come back so we can transport Peter to a secure location and question him before dropping him off at A.R.G.U.S.”

You caught him? How?”

“I just did.” When Oliver heard screeching tires, he hung up and continued to sit down on Peter’s back while he waited for Diggle to return.

When he saw the car parked in front of the house, Oliver grunted and got off Peter’s back before he hoisted the guy over his shoulder and started to make his way towards the car.

“You know that once he comes to, we can’t stop him from freeing himself,” Diggle said as he leaned against the car with the trunk open.

“Sure we can,” Oliver said as he unceremoniously dumped the unconscious Peter in the trunk and closed the trunk. “We have a thing called sedatives.”

“Where do you want me to take him?”

“That abandoned warehouse near the border of the Glades. It’s a neutral area and we won’t get shit from A.R.G.U.S.”

“You’re calling them on this?”

“What do you want me to do? Call the police? Have him arrested?” Oliver said as he tiredly rubbed his face. “You know just as much as I do that this guy doesn’t belong in a normal prison as he’ll escape.”

“Fine.” Diggle said as he got into the car. “See you there.”

Oliver watched the car speed off the property and looked at the house before he made his way back to his bike to follow Diggle to the warehouse.

~o.O.o~

Bella limped as she made her way from her bath to her bed, too tired and sore to put more on than wrap her robe around her as she crawled into bed. She had taken a few Tylenol earlier but now all she wanted was sleep. She would apply her ointment, but she was already hurting too much to move any more than needed to breathe.

It was getting dark by the time Oliver arrived at Bella’s house. He had done some thinking and he had decided to apologize, but couldn’t leave Peter before A.R.G.U.S had taken him into custody – which only happened after Oliver got the information he needed out of the guy and he really – really – took pleasure out of beating Peter.

Oliver was grateful when Charlie let him inside, albeit with a watchful eye, and made his way upstairs to Bella’s bedroom. He walked to her side and sighed as he fell to his knees. “I am so sorry,” he said softly as he gently caressed her hair.

She released a sigh at his touch and turned her face towards him before opening her eyes. “Hey,” she smiled drowsily. “Where did you go?”

“I had some thinking to do,” he replied as he kept caressing her hair. “How are you feeling?”

“Just need some rest and I’ll be good to go in a day or two,” she replied. “How’d your thinking go?”

Oliver shrugged. “The usual,” he replied. “But… I caught Peter.”

“That’s good. You coming to bed now?”

“Do you want me to? After what I’ve put you through?”

Bella reached for his hand and pulled him towards her. “Yes. I do. You could have talked to me but you didn’t and I don’t want to now. Just come to bed Oliver,” she whined.

Oliver got to his feet and kicked off his shoes before turning towards her dresser and got the ointment out. “Let me at least get you some proper pain relief,” he said as he crawled on the bed.

She hummed a response as she closed her eyes, pleased for both the coming pain relief and his comforting presence. “I will kick your ass one day for this,” she promised in a slurred mumble.

“And I will let you,” Oliver said as he carefully pulled away her blankets and slowly started to put the ointment on her legs first. “I promise.”

“Good. And you owe your friends apologies too,” she added, smiling into her pillow.

“Yeah yeah,” he smirked as he finished with one leg and then got the other.

“And you should watch me work to know what my ethics are really like,” she continued.

Oliver gently pulled her robe off her shoulders and started to massage the ointment onto her back. “I think that the biggest problem today was that I thought you were ready when you asked me and I realized that I was wrong. I should not have let you run that far.”

She grimaced at the movement, curling back up immediately after, breathing through the discomfort until it begun to ease and decided to give Oliver some home truths about the night. “I believe that I am – but not after that kind of run so soon. I don’t know if Diggle has been giving you reports or not. I’m guessing not because otherwise you would have known that you would have needed to stop me more than try to push me like you assumed I would need, simply because I need to have fun when I work out.

“For some reason, I just can’t help but try to have fun when I’m deliberately putting myself through that kind of work out. When I get over this little incident, stick around and watch. Maybe you’ll realize a few things not only about me, but also yourself. Diggle had to drag me out of there tonight, and it wasn’t the first time he had to make me stop myself before I over did it. Like I did tonight. You thought I would need someone to push me to keep going, but I tend need is someone to pull me back, regardless of whatever bitching I may throw out. That’s why I asked for you because I was kind of tired of listening to Alfred’s mantras.”

Oliver was quiet for a moment as he kept rubbing the ointment in, especially around her shoulders. “How about we keep the running with Diggle and I’ll help you indoors. I’ll try to loosen up and I don’t doubt that you’re committed, but you know…” When he was done, he put the ointment on the nightstand and pulled the covers back over her.

Grabbing his hand to keep him with her, Bella pulled him down onto the bed to wrap his arms around her. “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

“To take a shower,” he said as he softly kissed her. “I haven’t had the chance yet to freshen up after today.”

She hesitated for a moment before letting go. “Okay. Just make sure you come back,” she said as she settled back down. “I think I have some unscented wash and shampoo in my bath that you can use. I doubt you want to go around tomorrow smelling like sandalwood and vanilla.”

“I don’t know,” Oliver grinned at her. “Would you like me to smell like sandalwood and vanilla tomorrow?”

“I don’t care if you smell like ass tomorrow. Just do whatever so that you come to bed already,” she pouted up at him. “It’s been a long enough day. Let’s not make it any more difficult.”

“Okay, back in a minute,” Oliver relented with a smile on his face as he headed to the bathroom and bumped into Charlie on his way and he didn’t look all too happy. Oliver had been glad that Charlie had let him into the house earlier, but it had been with reluctance. “She’s doing better now.”

The older man’s eyebrow twitched as he stared him down before glancing over at his daughter’s bedroom door. As much as he hated knowing what might be going on behind it, he said nothing as it was her life and decisions to make mistakes with. Not that he was sure that Oliver Queen was one, yet. As fond as he was slowly becoming of the boy, he was still firmly undecided about him in the relationship category with Bella.

“Uh huh,” he let out after a full minute and gave a single nod. “She doesn’t know when to stop and that is why she never works alone.”

“She uhm, just told me,” Oliver said with a nod. “I promise it won’t happen again.”

Frowning, Charlie wasn’t sure what to make of that knowledge. “She told you?” he repeated skeptically.

“Yes, sir. She said that she tends to need a person who stops her while working out.” Oliver cocked his head in question. “She normally doesn’t tell anyone?”

He shook his head as he tried to understand his daughter as she is now that she isn’t working with him anymore. “No. It’s not just with her training. It’s with all things. Bella – tends to be insanely focused. She graduated college early. The papers call it driven, but its more than that. Bella was lacking something that I don’t know what, but maybe…” he trailed off in thought as he considered the boy and her new friends. “I understand you had a difficult experience on that island son. However that doesn’t justify today. I’ll let it slide this once because I know you weren’t aware of that girl’s downfall. If it wasn’t for her status, Bella would have been hospitalized for this many times over the years. If she is going to be doing whatever she is with you, you need to control her. She is strong, don’t get me wrong. She is capable of many things that even I am afraid of knowing, but she is also my little girl.”

“I will be more aware of it, sir. I don’t like to see her like this either,” Oliver said as he scratched his head. “As for controlling her, I think that’s the wrong word to use, she’s her own person, she just needs to have guard rails in place and speed bumps to slow her down. She doesn’t need to be controlled, she needs to be managed.” Oliver hated the word control, it was this whole idea of her not being in control over her own actions that he hated, because it was easily managed.

“No Oliver. She needs a partner,” Charlie corrected him, with a slight smile. “Go take care of her. Make sure she gets another plunge in that ice bath in the morning. She’ll be needing it. I’m going to hit the sack since I have to catch a flight to Amsterdamned tomorrow night,” he grimaced.

Oliver grinned. “Have a good flight, sir. Don’t get tempted by all those pretty ladies in Amsterdam and stay away from the pot; I want Bella’s father to return in one piece.”

“This is why she always did the traveling. I don’t have the patience for your generation anymore.”

“But you’re a natural, sir, one frown from you and you’ll have them grabbing their private parts for protection,” Oliver winked as he moved past Charlie to take a quick shower. After he was done, he walked back to Bella’s bedroom wearing only his boxers and put his clothes on the chair before crawling into bed with her. Bella was already fast asleep and all he could do was cuddle up to her, gently, and wait for sleep to take him too.

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