Felicity made sure everything was locked up securely several times before she checked on Connor and Bella. Waiting on Oliver to get back had been annoyingly painful because there was a lot they needed to discuss regarding his family’s move to Starling City as it affected a lot of things.
Bella had already gotten tons of boxes from the moving store that evening and she helped by working on packing the things they started on in the kitchen, leaving only a couple essentials out for the morning. She’d been in the kitchen working when she heard the door open and close. “Hello?” she called out cautiously.
“It’s me,” Oliver replied as he walked into the kitchen. “I stopped on the way back at a 24/7 to buy breakfast,” he said as he dropped the bag on the kitchen island and looked at Felicity. “What?”
“Nothing. Just – I felt like I was being watched while you were gone. Was trying to keep busy,” she said. “So um, I was thinking – Bella said she was interested in a house. I was going to search for one but it would take awhile for closing and stuff. Are they going to be staying in a hotel or something? What are you going to tell Thea and Laurel?”
“Well,” Oliver sat down on one of the stools and sighed. “I came clean to Laurel about Bella so I think that she’ll be the easiest. Thea will probably get angrier at Moira for fucking up more lives but she’ll come around eventually and yes, they probably will have to stay in a hotel because I didn’t have the funds for my own space until today.”
She nodded as she scratched the back of her neck. “Um, well, my place is small, but I have the extra bedroom. Connor might have to sleep on the couch but they can stay with me. You think they would be okay with that? It’s safer than a hotel I think.”
He smiled at her. “You should talk to Bella about that when she wakes up.” He thought it was sweet of Felicity to offer her place for the time being.
The sound of something large crashing to the floor in the bedroom, followed by a groan caused Felicity to jump. “What…? Sounds like Bella’s room,” she started to say as she started out of the kitchen.
Oliver darted after Felicity, pushing past her and stumbled into the bedroom. After quickly scanning the room for intruders – the mention of Felicity feeling as if she was being watched didn’t sit well with him – he made his way over to Bella.
Bella had rolled out of bed, too weak to actually stand. She was on her hands and knees as she looked around, an arm reaching out for something to help balance her. “Someone get the license plate of that Mack truck. I’m going to sue,” she muttered.
Oliver put his arms around her and sat her back on the bed. “I see a B and an E… Double L, I think… Can’t quite make out the last one though.”
“You’re an asshole,” she said as she squinted her eyes at him, her hand going to her throat. “I’m thirsty.”
“I’ll get you some water,” Felicity said as she headed towards the kitchen.
“You scared me,” Oliver said softly as he pushed Bella’s hair out of her face. “Are you okay?”
She looked at him confused. “I’m fine – I think. What happened? I feel like I was hit by a truck and the last thing I remember was us talking in the alley when they arrived. Did they have someone else with them?” she asked.
“Seth,” he said as he looked at her. “I think you went into a full blown rage and blacked out.”
Bella blinked at him as she shook her head. “Seth wouldn’t go with them. He hates Jacob and everything they’ve done since they changed.”
“You told me,” he replied as Felicity came back with a glass of water. “I had Barry take him some place safe before we started to bring them to S.T.A.R. Labs.”
She took the glass of water as she tried to remember but failed. Starting with just a sip to ease the discomfort in her throat, it quickly turned to her finishing the glass as if she was caught in a desert. “Is there any pizza left or something?” she asked. “Maybe some wine?”
“I don’t think wine is a good idea right now but I’ll make some food,” Felicity said and disappeared again.
Bella sighed as she looked back to Oliver. “I don’t remember any of this,” she said worriedly. “How bad was it?”
“It was bad,” he said carefully. “I couldn’t stop you from going all Bruce Lee on Jacob with your ability and eventually I was able to hit him with a tranquilizer so he’d stop antagonizing you. Good thing the guy has a thick skull.”
She grimaced as she moved to stand up but still was extremely unsteady and weak. “What is wrong with me? Did you hit me with one too?” she asked, having to turn and hold onto the end table to stay upright. She looked over towards the dresser and sighed at the distance that she knew she wouldn’t make on her own in her condition and glared at Oliver.
He lifted her up and put her back down on the bed. “Do you remember me telling you not to over do it, by using your ability?” He asked as he sat down next to her.
Scoffing, she gave up knowing she was going to lose in trying to get anywhere at the moment. “I felt fine. I remember holding them okay. I don’t understand what went wrong.”
“That’s the tricky thing, feeling fine,” Oliver said with a nod. “Felicity told me how Barry used to have problems while running all the time. He’d pass out because he moves so fast, every molecule in his body moves just as fast. That’s why when you see him eat, he eats a lot. Just to keep up with his ability. We think you went beyond what you’ve previously done in the last year because you blacked out in rage and that’s why you feel as if you have the worst hangover ever.” He softly kissed the top of her head. “So the best thing you can do now is rest and let me and Felicity take care of you until you’re feeling better again.”
“Ugh, fine,” Bella agreed reluctantly. “But there is so much to do… I mean I don’t mind leaving stuff – we can always get more later, but we have to pack if we’re going back with you today. And long term hotels…”
“Felicity and I have been packing up some stuff in the kitchen in the last few hours and have started with the living room. Now that you’re awake, you can tell me what to pack in your bedroom.” He smiled at her. “And she raised the question if hotels are actually safe so, if you’re willing, she has a spare bedroom in her apartment you could use for the time being.”
She looked surprised at the offer and considered it. “You know that Connor thinks she’s weird too,” Bella grinned. “He is so excited for this.”
“He’s not the only one and he’ll get used to Felicity, there’s just a lot of things to adjust to and to work through.”
She nodded knowingly. “Yeah, I know. Like having an actual house for once,” she murmured as she looked around before her eyes fell on Oliver. “You do know you’ll be welcome anytime, right?”
Felicity entered the bedroom with a bit of dinner she had thrown together using the fresh ingredients that Bella had planned to use for the actual dinner when it turned into frozen pizzas and it was accompanied by a bottle of water. “Here you go,” she smiled as she set it down on the bed.
She looked up from Oliver as she’d been caught in his eyes as she often was to her and smiled. “Thank you. Um, Oliver just told me about your invitation… I really couldn’t impose on you like that. It’s kind of you though to offer.”
“You won’t be imposing,” Felicity smiled. “I mean, I go to work anyway and I’m usually home quite late due to my other job,” she said as she pointed at Oliver. “It’s better than a hotel.”
Bella stared at her for awhile, scrutinizing her before she slowly nodded. “Okay. Thank you,” she repeated as she fingered the neck of the water bottle nervously. She moved to start eating, finding herself feeling much hungrier than she thought, digging in with gusto before she looked up at him.
Felicity watched her for a minute as she ate, before giving Oliver a knowing look and excused herself, quickly leaving them alone in the bedroom.
“You know you don’t have to stay with her if you don’t want to, right?”
“It’s fine. I wasn’t sure she was offering just because she’s your friend,” she said around a mouthful.
“Felicity has a very big heart. I’m just sorry that I don’t have a place where you can stay at,” he sighed as he got off the bed to grab one of the empty boxes that Felicity had placed outside the bedroom.
“I figured that out on my own genius,” she said clearly once she swallowed her food. “Hence my little invitation.”
“Of course I’ll come by,” he smiled at her. “We have a lot to catch up on and how else will we figure things out?”
“Sure,” she agreed as she watched him as she ate. “What are you doing? I can do that…”
“I’m just helping out, it could be hours before you’re back to your normal self,” he said sheepishly and then looked at the contents of the box and he shook his head. “Yeah, maybe it’s better you do this because I have no idea what I’m doing.” He put the box near the door and got back on the bed.
“No, no. There are things you can start putting away for me. You can start by getting me something to wear for today though,” she smiled sweetly, though there was a dangerous glint in her eyes. “Start with the dresser by the window.”
After getting the box and setting it back on the bed, he walked over to the dresser she indicated and pulled open the drawer, finding it filled with her underwear. Why did women love their fancy underwear so much? He liked seeing women in their fancy garments. These things were a way to torture men, he just knew it. He pulled the drawer out of the dresser and emptied its contents into the box while glaring back at Bella. “You’re evil.”
She grinned as she leaned back and pulled out a black lacey bra and panty set that fell in together. “Great. I can wear these today after I shower. Which by the way, why am I still dressed?”
He was glad that it was still deep in the night and dark and that there was barely any light in her room apart from the lights at the bed so she couldn’t see how his face flushed deep red. “Uh… I didn’t want to wake you prematurely by undressing you?” he said impishly.
She narrowed her eyes and looked down at herself. “I feel like I went ten rounds with Mike Tyson in the ring and then hitting tequila at the bar. I’m calling bullshit.”
“Fine. I want you to be conscious when I undress you.” He eventually said after pouring another drawer into the box. “I considered undressing you but I felt like a creeper.”
Her face flushed as she looked back at him, nodding. “Yeah,” she breathed out. Her arousal flaring. “I’d rather be conscious for that too when you put it that way.”
“I mean… I’d have no problem with undressing anyone, but you… I probably could have used a cold shower after that…”
“Bathroom is right across the hall. ”
“We’re not alone.” He pointed out as he emptied the last drawer, filling up the box. He closed it and found the marker that Felicity had left with the empty boxes so he could write on it that this was one to take with immediately. “I actually should take a shower…”
“Oh for the love of God,” Felicity’s voice sounded from the living room. “Here I am giving you your space and you’re acting like stupid teenagers.”
Bella grinned and shrugged. She couldn’t deny the girl’s point as she’d been trying to flirt and tease with the man since she started to get her energy back.
Felicity’s face popped up between the door. “Remind me to give you a crash course on post-death Oliver when we have time.”
“What?” Oliver blinked at Felicity.
“You heard me. Go help Bella with her shower. I’ll go and listen to some music while I continue packing.” Felicity disappeared again.
“What was that?” Oliver said confused. Was he doing it again? Was he being ignorant of something?
“Care to conserve some water? ” Bella blinked innocently.
Oliver thought of the words as he tried to connect the dots. “Yes. I’m sorry for being an idiot.” He said as he shook his head and helped Bella off the bed. “Are you feeling better?”
“Yeah. The food helped,” she replied as she leaned on him, able to move more but with minimal help. “I should be back to normal by lunch I think. Um, I have sweats in that dresser,” she said indicating across the room.
He lifted her up before walking to the dresser and got out a pair of sweats. He then walked to the other closet that was open, he had seen shirts in there and got out a shirt. “Done?” When she nodded, he took her to the bathroom and locked the door – just in case – and carefully set her down again. The bathroom was just big enough to turn around in and get underneath the shower and he had to admit that it was the smallest bathroom he’d ever seen.
Oliver put her clean clothes in the sink and softly kissed her lips. “I’m going to undress you now,” he said as he looked into her eyes.
“I bet you say that to all the girls,” she smirked as she raised her arms to rest them on his shoulders, staring into his eyes. Her lips fell as she looked up him longer. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“We no longer have to miss each other,” he said as he kissed her again, longer this time as he pulled her against him.
Her hands trailed up the back of his neck as she deepened the kiss before easing back so that they could continue on with their task of tackling the shower as the space wasn’t conducive to such activities. Sighing at being able to be so close to him again, she smiled up at him as her hands drifted down to the hem of his shirt to help him pull it off. “Come on. You’re joining me even if we can’t actually do anything together yet. I don’t think either of us are ready to go that far right now,” she murmured.
He nodded as he slowly took hold of her hands, not looking away from her face. He wasn’t ashamed of the scars on his body, but more often than not, people didn’t respond well when they first saw him without a shirt, and he usually didn’t care, but he cared about Bella. “I don’t want you to freak out,” he said in barely a whisper. “But I have a few scars.”
“Don’t we all? I don’t care Oliver. Scars make us who we are. If you think it’s something that is going to scare me away then you really don’t know me as well as you think you do,” she replied.
“No, it won’t, I just wanted to give you a heads up, that’s all,” he sighed.
Moving her hands to his waist, she looked up at him expectantly. Slowly she raised them, his shirt following her hands as they rose until it met resistance at his shoulders where they pulled it off. Breathing out, she ran a finger over the larger scars she could see before looking back up at him. Pulling back slightly, she reached down to her shirt so that she could pull it off in a tit for tat motion.
He let out a breath he wasn’t aware of holding and softly brushed the scar at her clavicle that was familiar to him with his thumb before noticing one on her belly, it looked like a c-section scar. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you…” he said softly as he lightly touched her stomach with the palm of his hand.
“You are now. That’s what matters,” she whispered as she pulled him to her. She kissed along his neck until she got to his ear and continued. “They don’t scare or disgust me like you might think. They just make me wonder about your life on that island and be relieved that you are back now. And that you’re not leaving again without a fight.”
“As if anyone will pick a fight with you,” he jokingly said as he kissed her again before opening her pants. “I’m not going anywhere, Bella. And I’m not allowing you to leave my life again.”
“Good because someone told me that I’m not very nice when I get mad,” she grinned as she looked at him, reaching out to hold onto the sink to balance herself as she watched him pull her pants off. “Hmm…this looks familiar…”
“Uhuh,” Oliver said with a nod as he helped her to step out of her pants and underwear. “I remember long nights starting like this…”
Bella grinned at him as she pulled him back up. “Skipping classes because you wouldn’t let me out of bed,” she added as she reached for his belt, mirroring his motions and pushing his pants and shorts over his hips. Her small hands brushing the skin of his rear in the process.
“Go on a bender on a school night…” he added as he unhooked her bra and let it fall to the floor.
“I was too much of a good girl for that. You were the craziest thing I’ve ever gotten involved in,” she said as she stepped back, holding tightly onto whatever she could as she eyed him before turning to turn the shower spray on .
“I was slightly crazy, wasn’t I?” Oliver snorted as he appreciated his view.
“Just a bit,” she said as she tested the water. Looking back at him, Bella bit her lip as she fought the grin that wanted to escape. “What are you doing staying over there? Get over here.”
“Oh, you know, just appreciating the view,” Oliver smiled as he joined her. He put his arms around her.
She pulled him back into the shower with her before pushing the door closed behind them. “You can appreciate the view while touching the merchandise here – and only here,” she said.
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said as he lightly touched her back downwards and squeezed her ass playfully as he kissed her neck. “Yep… all good there.”
She laughed as she held onto him, turning so that she could kiss his mouth. Her tongue darted out, seeking entrance to his as she deepened the kiss and her hand explored the changes in his body as the water rained down over them. Sighing in contentment, she knew that as fast as the decisions came, she felt they were the right ones.
Part of him was extremely terrified about the whole situation, but another part of him felt so at ease, almost as if he was finally home, really home. Not just pretending to be. He had a real future now, something to fight for, something to stay alive for and not rot in his basement as he was so afraid of that. Whatever was in their future, he knew that they were going to get through it together. He eventually had to break off the kiss for air and smiled at her. “We’re going to be okay, you and I.”
Bella grinned as she nodded her agreement. Neither of them needed to say anything else as they continued with their shower, sharing kisses and teasing touches.
After the shower, Oliver continued to pack up Bella’s bedroom as she ordered him around from her bed and by the time Connor woke up, most of her belongings were sorted for later or direct moving.
He was amused by the look on Connor’s face as the boy ran into his mother’s bedroom to wish her good morning as Oliver was still there. Connor skidded to a halt to assess the situation and then nodded his approval before resuming his collision course with Bella’s bed. “Morning!” Connor said as he hugged her. “No school today!”
“No school baby. Not for awhile,” she replied as she hugged him back. “I’ll look into other options for you when we get settled in. So you just get to have some fun for awhile and help your dad for now.”
“I believed I promised I’d take care of breakfast,” Oliver said when Connor looked at him. “Do you like pancakes?”
“Pancakes with bacon?” Connor’s eyes grew wide.
“Sure,” Oliver smiled at him. “Want to help me?” Instead of replying, Connor flew off the bed and ran past him to the kitchen. “He likes pancakes?”
“He loves bacon,” she corrected. “Pancakes are the extra bonus. He would eat an entire package if you let him.”
He softly kissed her before going to the kitchen where Connor was already setting out the pans they’d need to make pancakes and bacon. “Did you have fun last night?” Oliver asked him as he retrieved the items to make breakfast with.
Connor nodded. “Mom wasn’t home last night when I came back.”
“No, she came home while you were sleeping.”
Connor eyed Felicity before walking to a stool at the kitchen island and sat down. “She is really smart,” he pointed out. “We ended up in second place because Iris didn’t believe Felicity’s answer for a question.”
“Not everything is about winning, having fun counts as a win too.”
“Eddie gave me extra hot chocolate,” Connor grinned as he stretched himself on the countertop. “I was really hyper, that was fun too.”
“I bet,” Oliver smiled at him as he mixed the ingredients for the pancakes before putting the bacon in another to sizzle away.
Bella slowly made her way out from the bedroom to join the boys in the kitchen, grimacing as her muscles protested. She knew that she would have to practice and learn her limitations. “Is there any coffee?” She ask, announcing her presence, limping to the island and claiming a stool.
He looked over to the coffee machine, finding a full pot. “Yep,” he said as he started to look for a mug to pour in a coffee for Bella.
Connor had seen his mother walk into the kitchen and raised an eyebrow. “Mom, what happened?”
She glanced over at Oliver and sighed. “I had a run in with Uncle Jake and his friends last night when I went to help your dad. I’ll be fine soon, just a little sore.”
“You are a police consultant on the streets?” Connor narrowed his eyes on Oliver. “Why didn’t you protect Mom?”
“Connor. He did. You know how they can be,” she said gently. “Jake had Seth with him this time. You remember him, right? I had to make sure he was okay so I went to get him away.”
Connor hopped off the stool and made his way round to his mother before putting his arms around her. “You’re not going to do that again, are you?”
“Jake won’t bother anyone again. The police have him now,” she said as she looked at Oliver and hugged the boy tightly. She didn’t know what else to say other than as much of the truth as possible and sighed as she kissed his head.
“It’s good that you got Seth away from Uncle Jake,” Connor muttered as he buried his face in his mother’s shirt. “I like Seth.”
“Come on baby. Go help your daddy. I’m okay. Nothing that a little rest won’t do. Your dad has been making sure that I’ve been doing nothing,” she grinned.
Oliver set down the mug of coffee in front of Bella and a pancake with bacon for Connor before he continued making pancakes for everyone else. “Have you thought about what you’d like to take with you when we go to Starling City today, Connor?” Oliver asked him as he flipped a pancake.
“My clothes,” Connor replied with his mouth full. “And my comics and action figures and my video games.”
“Okay, good, we have a list of what comes with us then, how about you and I start packing after breakfast?” He set down a pancake in front of Bella and made the next one for Felicity, who was on the phone to someone – probably Ray.
“Are we able to rent a trailer hitch for your bike?” Bella asked as she worked on her breakfast.
“I still have to pick up my bike because we used your car to get back last night,” Oliver pointed out. “And no, the plan is to hire a truck and put the bike in it with most of your boxes, put essentials in the car with us, and have Barry drive the truck into Starling behind us.”
“How far are we moving?” Connor asked as he munched on the last of his pancake, already holding the plate out for more.
Bella was listening to everything as she idly passed Connor her bacon. “A day’s drive baby,” she said distractedly.
“I think it’s best to stay the night halfway, somewhere,” Oliver told Bella. “Nearly twelve hours on the road is a bore.”
She hadn’t realized that they’d figured all this out already and was at a loss for what to say. “Wow, um, okay. That sounds good then. I was hoping you’d be riding back with us at least, which is good.”
“Of course I am, why wouldn’t I?” Oliver smiled at her as he flopped another bacon pancake on Connor’s plate. He handed Felicity her plate as she walked into the kitchen and sighed as she sat on the stool. “What’s wrong?”
Felicity narrowed her eyes on Oliver before turning to Bella. “You know, it’s a pain to have a billionaire with a lot of influence as your boss. You ask them a teensy weensy little favor and they end up taking care of everything because they know just the right person to speed things up.” She then pointed at Oliver. “He used to do that, it drove me nuts. My current boss is even worse.”
“I’m sorry?” Bella said, glancing to Oliver in confusion.
“I was looking forward to sharing my apartment with you guys for a few days,” Felicity said with a pout and got out her tablet to open her mail. “But you see, Ray knows people, real estate agents who would rather unload their houses today rather than next week, and he sent me some pictures and information about some locations for you to pick. All you have to do is sign the papers and it’s yours.”
She sighed and shook her head. Bella had enough of rich people holding any kind of influence over her in any way and wasn’t about to accept hand outs, even through a third party. Her voice tense to convey her feelings on the matter, she declined the offer. “Thank your boss but I don’t want any assistance from anyone I don’t know, present company excluded. I don’t trust those type of billionaires, especially ones representing that company. We’ll research ourselves.”
“Oh, but Palmer Technologies is different from QC and…”
“Felicity,” Oliver said as he put another pancake on Connor’s plate. “She said no.”
“I’ll let Ray know. Oh, and I’m not driving back with you, I figured I needed to catch up on some much needed sleep before I drive so we might arrive at the same time in Starling City tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sure. Thank you for all the help though, Felicity,” he replied as he rolled some bacon in a pancake and took a bite out of it. “Oh, this is so good.”
“I know!” Connor grinned.
“You’re welcome,” Felicity smiled widely before tucking into her pancake. “Always.”
After breakfast, Oliver helped Bella to get to Connor’s room to keep an eye on him and Connor packing Connor’s stuff. Connor was running around like a crazy person to get all his things before gently putting them into the right box. “What are you doing?” Oliver laughed from his spot on the floor.
“I’m pretending to be the Flash so it goes faster.” Connor said with a nod.
“And does it go faster?”
“Yep. I don’t need your help, go sit with Mom.”
“Okay,” he said as he got off from the floor and sat down next to Bella who fortunately had some color back on her face. “Is there anything else you need to have taken care of?” he asked her as he leaned back on the bed so he could rest his back against the wall. As Bella shook her head as an answer, they both just leaned back and watched Connor pack the things he needed in comfortable silence.
A couple of hours later, Oliver went out to rent a truck and had Barry bring him his bag with money before loading up the truck and left Central City. Connor loved sitting in the truck between him and Bella on the front seat, pointing out interesting things along the way and sometimes even gave them more information than required.
Traveling with a small child was a completely different experience and Oliver made sure to stop every two hours or so to have a bite to eat or use the restroom. They arrived at the motel that Oliver had booked a room at after seven hours and he had to admit, he was dead on his feet. Oliver wasn’t much of a sleeper anyway, but if he’d had five hours of sleep during the last 48 hours it was a lot.
The motel had a small restaurant next to it where they had a late dinner and then settled in the motel room for the night. As Bella tried to put Connor to bed, Oliver decided to lay down on the other bed for just a moment, but as soon as his head hit the pillow he was gone.
The next morning they took their time with getting ready and continued their journey to Starling City. As Felicity hadn’t arrived at her apartment yet, Oliver took Bella and Connor to Alfredo’s for dinner. It was a nice and small Italian restaurant with very good food. “Do they have hot chocolate?” Connor asked hopeful as he looked over his mom’s arm to peek on the menu.
“I don’t know,” Bella chuckled as she tried to nudge him back in his seat, but moved so that he could look anyway. “Why don’t you ask the waiter when he comes. Only one though. Don’t try to con your father either. I’ve already warned him about your little addiction.”
“But Mom!” he cried, displeased at the turnabout as he looked over at Oliver who looked at him apologetically.
“Sorry, but she’s the boss,” he shrugged as he watched them with fascination. He still had to have the talk with Bella about how much authority she would allow him to have in her absence if or when she was comfortable for them to be alone together, or if something happened and he needed to make a decision and she was unavailable. It was something to bring up soon, but not right then as he found himself smiling as they shared a discussion of the menu options before making their final decisions.
When Bella looked up at him with the smile on her face, he literally felt his heart skip a beat. He saw her lips move but he was just so mesmerized by her that he didn’t hear what she said and had to shake his head clear. “I’m sorry, what?”
She laughed as she reached for his hand. “I asked, if you wanted to share one of the appetizers. The spinach dip sounds really good,” she repeated. Looking at him curiously, she smiled. “Where were you just now?”
“Nowhere,” he smiled goofily. “Just watching you and Connor and the spinach dip is so good, it’s evil.”
“Okay,” Bella accepted as she squinted her eyes at him before grinning. Luckily the waiter arrived then but Connor was quick to jump and ask for his hot chocolate, throwing the man off to her amusement. When he looked to them, his eyes seeking silent permission as often children aren’t allowed certain items, she nodded slightly.
“Why yes, sir. We do have hot chocolate,” he said as he bowed slightly to the boy. “Is there anything else you would like?”
“No. That’s it.”
“Food Connor,” Bella warned.
“Ugh, fine. I’ll have the ‘pasgetti and meatballs I guess,” he said glumly as he slumped in his chair with a pout.
She sighed and shook her head, leaving him be and gave her order. “The spinach dip for an appetizer to share and I’ll have the mushroom ravioli and a glass of red wine. The house bottle is fine,” she smiled.
“Same as usual, Mr. Queen?” the waiter asked him as he jotted the order down.
“Nah,” Oliver replied as he looked at Connor. “I’ll have what he’s having… Could you add bacon to both plates?”
“Bacon?” Connor gasped. “Really?”
“Of course, sir,” the waiter smiled.
“Two strips only on his,” Bella stressed as she looked up at the waiter, glaring at her son.
“Bread basket, please,” Oliver replied as he handed the waiter the menus. He watched as the waiter walked away and grinned at Connor. “Bacon.”
Bella turned her glare onto him next but it wasn’t as heated. “He needs to cool his attitude. He knows food comes first and that hot chocolate isn’t a food group by itself.”
“Bacon is a food group,” Oliver said with a nod. “Food is all about fun, although I am really the worst when it comes to eating regularly.”
She narrowed her eyes on him and shook her head slightly, not wanting to have that conversation in the restaurant. She still gave him the look that they would indeed be sharing a discussion later about the incident however as she started to move the table settings around to make room for their drinks when they arrived as she knew Connor would be all in on his as soon as it was set in front of him. “One is all you are getting so make it count,” she warned him. “After that, it’s milk or water. I know about Jitters and Eddie.”
“I didn’t ask for more, I promise!” Connor said defensively.
“I’m sure you didn’t you little con,” she replied as she stared ahead at Oliver.
“You taught me to eat or drink what’s put down in front of you and Eddie gave me hot chocolate because Iris said I liked that. So I had to drink it Mom, it would have been rude not to.”
“And you conveniently forgot to tell him that you weren’t allowed to have more than two.”
“I told him after he brought me one, but he’s a dummy.”
It was hard at that point to hold in the laughter but she tried. “That’s no excuse,” she said as her face turned red. “One hot chocolate tonight and then it’s milk. And don’t try it with your father because I’ll just kick his rear end from here, to Central City and back if I find out he gave it to you.”
Connor thought for a moment as he looked at his mother. “Water will be good,” he said as he slumped back in his chair. “I’ll be good.”
“Sure you’ll be,” she smiled. “I know you are because you’re my boy but chill out with the hot chocolate some. It might go on back order with you around then what are you going to do?”
“Buy cocoa powder with my pocket money and add milk. Or even make it from real chocolate,” he said with a shrug.
“Looks like someone needs an intervention,” Oliver said amused as the waiter arrived with their drinks and appetizers.
“No shit,” Bella mumbled as she reached for her wine and took a sip, eyeing their son as he did exactly as she expected. “He’s seriously addicted to this stuff,” she whispered as she leaned into him. “If we keep any in the house, it’ll have to be under lock and key, or even perhaps higher security with the way his brain works because he’ll probably figure out how to pick the lock to get to it.”
“Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it eventually, give it time,” Oliver replied as he squeezed her leg under the table.
“I heard you say ‘we’,” Connor looked at his mother. “Is Dad moving in with us?”
Bella froze as she hadn’t caught her mistake. Biting her lip, she looked at him as it was something she had thought of as he had admitted to her he didn’t have anywhere specific he lived except for where he used for his ‘job’ presently. “Um, no…” she started slowly, unsure of herself as she struggled to pull her eyes away from Oliver. “We haven’t talked about anything like that yet. Remember this is all new for all of us and we’re just starting to figure things out again, but for what we have been able to talk about so far, your dad will be over a lot.”
“Give it some time, Connor,” Oliver smiled at him. “I am not going anywhere but like your Mom said, we have a lot to figure out and you guys need to settle down first too because a lot has happened over the last two days and it may seem easy but it’s really not.”
“Sorry buddy, we’re not living in a Hallmark or Disney movie,” Oliver grinned. “We’re real people.”
Bella rubbed the back of her neck as she turned her head so that only he could hear her. “More like a freaking comic book,” she mumbled. “This is going to get messy.”
Connor looked at them so heartbroken. “But you love each other right? Why can’t we live together? I don’t get why we have to be apart to figure this out.”
She turned her eyes down to the table as she found that she couldn’t entirely disagree with him. It was just that things already were moving much faster for them than either anticipated having just been reunited and to jump into living with one another might be uncomfortable. If she were brave enough to admit, she was thrilled to find Oliver in her apartment, there to take care of her when she woke from her post-meta blackout after helping him with Jacob and his pack. “Connor,” she sighed, not knowing what else to say.
“So your mom said what I do for work, right?” Oliver started as he looked at Connor, who nodded in return, seemingly on the verge of tears. “I have to figure things out how to handle my work now first, considering that consulting for the police can be quite a dangerous thing and I don’t want to have anything happen to you or your mom.”
“But when you figure it out, you’ll come live with us?” he asked, hope filling his eyes as he sat up more, almost begging his parents for the ultimate Christmas wish.
“Oh, definitely,” Oliver said with a nod. “You and I need to make breakfast a lot of times to find the perfect recipe to make breakfast and breakfast is a tricky thing, you know.”
Bella reached over to wipe the tears from his face as he nodded his acceptance. “Come on. Let’s go get you cleaned up since our food should be here shortly,” she said as she took his hand. Turning to Oliver she gave him a smile before leaning over and pulling him in for a kiss and looking into his eyes silently for a moment. With a final, satisfied smile, she got up to lead Connor to the restrooms.
As they reached them, Connor pulled away and headed for the men’s room door. “Where are you going?” Bella asked.
“I can go by myself. I don’t need you to hold my hand inside,” he said as he looked at her with the same expression she often used before disappearing into the room, leaving her standing there with her jaw dropped.
“Oh, hey, sorry,” a voice sounded after literally bumping into Bella. “I was walking behind you and you stopped abruptly…”
Bella turned to the voice apologetically. “I’m sorry. My son – he just – I’m sorry,” she said as she pointed to the men’s room door still bewildered by the sudden change in her child and moved out of the way.
“Hey, don’t I know you?” the woman asked as she eyed Bella. “You look familiar.”
She studied the woman’s face and while she seemed familiar as well, she was more hesitant because she knew exactly who she was. “I don’t think so,” she said. “We are just got into Starling City today.”
“Ah, I see, my bad,” Laurel smiled politely as she moved past Bella to get into the ladies room. “Excuse me.”
“It’s no problem,” she smiled as she stepped back and waited for Connor, letting her head fall back against the wall. She hoped that he wouldn’t take long and prayed that Laurel Lance was on her way out of the restaurant but something told her it would be just that kind of luck would be too good.
Inside the bathroom, Connor was smiling happily to himself as he was pleased that one day soon he would have both parents with him in the same house by their word. As he went to go to the sink to wash his hands, he bumped into a man that was leaving one sink. “Sorry mister,” he said cheerfully, with a cheeky grin as he continued around him.
Quentin Lance had to blink twice, it was almost as if he had some sort of deja vu moment there as the boy reminded him of someone. It had the same stupid grin on his face. “Uh, that’s okay, son,” he said surprised before drying off his hands and leaving the toilet with a dumbfounded look on his face.
As Quentin started back to his table that he had been sharing with his daughter for their dinner, he was surprised to see the man he’d just been thinking about at the other end of the restaurant. Blinking at the odd coincidence, he decided to make his way over to share his insights and amusement.
“Oliver,” he greeted as he approached the table.
“Det- Captain Lance,” Oliver said as he got to his feet to shake the man’s hand. Of course they had to run into someone tonight, it was just his luck, wasn’t it. “What a surprise.”
“Yeah, no kidding. It seems to be a strange night. You wouldn’t believe it. Saw the strangest thing just now in the bathroom. This kid came in and I swear, if I didn’t know better, he looked just like you with the same shit eating grin you had when you got back from your island,” he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder as his eyes were still wide in shock. “Huh. Guess we have your little doppelganger in Starling City. Let’s just hope he doesn’t decide to pick up archery lessons any time soon, eh?” he joked. “How was Central City? Laurel said you had some business out there?”
Oliver blinked at Lance as he listened to him and nodded. “Yep, I had several businesses to take care of. It was… enlightening, to say the least.”
“Daddy, what are you doing?” Laurel piped up as she approached from behind, coming closer to notice who he was speaking to. “Ollie! You’re back in town? I thought you weren’t going to be back until tomorrow?”
“I had some help,” Oliver replied and mentally hit himself. Of course Laurel accompanied her dad to the restaurant. “I didn’t need as much time as I thought, which is always good. Why? Did you do something I should know about?”
She looked at him wide eyed, full of her own secrets. “No,” she said a little hurried. “No, but we were actually planning to invite you to join us tonight if you had been in town, but – it seems that you already have some company with you?” she said as she looked at the table confused.
Oliver nodded. “We just came back and we have to eat something.”
“Is Felicity drinking hot chocolate now?” Quentin joked as he gestured to the table.
Running up to Oliver, Connor hugged his legs. “Dad! Mom said that maybe we can go to the park tomorrow if the weather is nice. Can we play Flash and Arrow again?” he asked as a frustrated looking Bella approached them, looking between each of the adults with a little more caution than there should be in her eyes. “You can be the Flash again!”
“Sure,” Oliver smirked. “Maybe we can stop buy a toy shop first to get you a bow to play with too. No arrows though. Toy or not.”
Laurel stared at the boy, slowly looking up at Oliver as realization came to her. “Oliver? What is this?” she asked a little coldly and confused as she remembered vividly him telling her that it wasn’t possible.
Oliver put his arm around Connor. “This is a boy and we are going to talk about this later,” he said calmly. “But I am sorry that you found out this way.”
Quentin looked back and forth between each of them, his eyes narrowing before he rubbed them in defeat. “Tell me this at least. When did you find out?” he asked, trying to at least put his daughter, and his own nerves at ease long enough for the full story.
“Yesterday… no wait, two days ago. Three days ago. No… yesterday.” Oliver scratched his head. “No, three days ago.”
Laurel immediately turned her attention over to Bella who had remained by her chair, silent as they spoke, trying to stay as minimal in their confusion as possible. “I knew you seemed familiar,” she sneered, tempering it down quickly only because of the child and that they were in a public place.
“But like I said,” Oliver spoke calmly as he looked at Laurel. “We are going to talk about this tomorrow and I am sorry. I didn’t want you to find out this way.”
“I’m sure you didn’t Oliver. I’ll see you at the club later,” she said as she turned to leave, ignoring the pleading look from her father.
Quentin wasn’t sure what to say in the moment and sighed. Scratching the back of his neck, he looked down at the boy who was watching everything very closely. “He’s a cute kid,” he said with a weak smile. Looking between him and the mother curiously, and perhaps suspiciously, he asked, “Really though – how did you not know?”
Oliver groaned. That meant that he definitely had to go later tonight as Laurel didn’t seem to want to wait. He had wanted to help Bella and Connor settle in with Felicity but that was not going to happen. “It’s complicated… but uhm… I can tell you that Moira had something to do with it.”
“Ah. Enough said,” he said, letting out a breath. “I’ll try to talk to her. I can’t promise it’ll do any good though.”
Oliver slightly shrugged. “She’ll chew me out later, it’s fine.”
“Yeah, well, you deserve it but then again, your mother was worse for this if she’s involved in any way. Look, see if you can find a sitter for him later and the both of you come over to my place tonight and we’ll talk it out like adults and get the whole story. That way you won’t have to be her punching bag because I can tell you, she can leave some nasty bruises lately since she’s been upset with Sara not calling back,” he grumbled.
Oliver put his hands over Connor’s ears. “I can handle Laurel, Captain, I think it’s just better if I tell everyone about Bella and Connor before actually introducing them so that the main blowout spares the both of them. They’ve gone through enough as it is.”
Bella made a face as she didn’t quite agree with his idea as she was more than capable of defending herself. Evidently his friend saw her displeasure and smirked as he nodded towards her. “I don’t think your lady friend agrees with you,” he said.
“I don’t care,” Oliver grinned.
“I should slap that stupid grin off your face,” she muttered. “I can deal with your friends. It’s Connor we need to worry about and he isn’t stupid. He’ll catch on sooner or later that something is off here. Besides, if she lays one hand on you, so God help me -”
“You can see why I want to talk to Laurel alone first?” Oliver asked Lance rhetorically, feeling Connor squirm between his hands and laughed before letting him go. “It’ll be fine, Captain, but thank you.”
“If you say so,” Quentin said skeptically. Looking down to the boy, he held out his hand with a small smile. “Nice to meet you Mr. Queen.”
“It’s Connor Swan,” he replied with a huff as he shook his hand. “Get it right. I’ll be Connor Queen when Mom and Dad get married.”
Oliver couldn’t keep his face straight and laughed before squatting down. “That’s this city’s police captain,” he whispered in Connor’s ear. “Turn down the sass.”
“So? It isn’t my name,” he said in response. “Not yet at least. Anyway, I’m hungry. Is our food here yet?”
Bella crossed her arms as she watched the two, shaking her head. When they turned to her, she held her hands up. “Don’t look at me. Like father, like son,” she said. “You didn’t have to be there for him to be exactly like you.”
“Good luck, Oliver,” Lance said as he nodded to him. “Have a good evening, you three.”
“Thanks, Captain,” Oliver said as he straightened himself up and watched Lance walk to his fuming daughter before he sat down again. “Well, that went well,” he said as he took a piece of bread and started to chew on it.
“That lady looked as if she was going to punch you,” Connor said as he climbed back on his chair to drink his hot chocolate.
“Don’t worry about it, Connor,” Oliver said with a smile as the waiter came with their food. “The only thing you have to worry about is finishing your plate.”
Bella took her seat carefully next to him as she looked over where they being watched by his ex. “I should be there,” she repeated her opinion. “I don’t trust her not to pull something.”
“Laurel is harmless. Her disappointment in me will reach a new low but she knows about you. I told her. It’ll be fine.”
She tried to relax so that she could eat and picked at the chips and dip. “Your mother certainly made sure that any attempt of a future between us would be difficult even through the relationships with your friends. If she opened that box in Central City then she had to anticipate we’d one day find each other.”
“I made a lot of bad choices when I was younger… Laurel will come round, I promise. It’s just the initial blow that hurts her the most and then she’ll start to see things rationally,” Oliver said as he took a bite from his pasta. “And I think she opened the box in Central City so that it wouldn’t show up as assets to the company or the money that my family once had so that at least we had something should things go sour. She obviously knew that Thea’s father would take care of her. And maybe she had a change of heart, you know. Maybe when the regret would become too big she’d tell me about that box herself.”
She was quiet as eyes her went to Connor who was back in his bubble as he ate. “She sent more money when you disappeared. I didn’t know what to think then. I just couldn’t think of anything.”
“Maybe she felt a little remorse and wanted to play with your head some more. Like… ‘he won’t be able to find you now, here’s some money to soothe your mind’. I don’t know and I really don’t want to find out. All that matters is that we’ve found each other and that everything is going to be okay.”
After dinner, they went to see if Felicity was home yet and she was; happy to receive Bella and Connor and showed them around in her apartment. Oliver stuck around for a bit, but seeing as it was getting late, it was a good time to go to the club and face Laurel. And probably Roy and Diggle too, seeing as they were always there.
When he arrived, Laurel was already fuming, ranting to Diggle about Oliver and how things were weird and not right. He heard her from the top of the stairs and waited until she had quieted down before descending the stairs and facing his team. “Hi,” he greeted them as he put his bags on the table and started to unpack his things as if nothing was wrong – because there wasn’t.
“So,” Diggle said after a long, uneasy silence. “Both Felicity and Laurel have now informed me that you have a child. When were you going to tell us?”
“Tomorrow,” Oliver said as he turned to his friends, all three of them were staring at him with their arms crossed over their chests and almost as if they were judging him. Add Laurel’s raised eyebrow and Oliver felt very exposed.
“Look, it’s a very long story.”
“Start at the beginning,” Laurel spoke. “I mean, the kid is what? Seven, eight? Was Bella one of the girls you cheated on me with?”
“Yes and yes, but I already came clean about that!” Oliver told her as he shook his head. “And that was a long time ago, Laurel.”
“You didn’t tell me that you knocked her up.”
“See, and that’s where it gets complicated,” Oliver said before rummaging through his bag to get his mother’s letter out of it. “And seeing as I don’t want to be here all night explaining myself but rather go out there and do something, I can tell you that I only found out about Connor is because the group of criminals they needed help with in Central City hit the bank where my mother had opened a safety deposit box, much to my surprise. In which, I found this.” He handed Laurel the letter. “Feel free to read it and pass it along, I’ll just continue to unpack.”
“That’s harsh, Oliver,” Diggle said as he looked at his friend.
“Yeah well, I’m tired and I know you will judge me anyway so,” he said with a shrug and put his bow back on its rack. “Because I know it’s weird that out of the blue, I’m a father of a fantastic young boy with the girl I hurt Laurel with. For which I have apologized so many times that if I have to do it again, it’ll sound fake.”
“For what it’s worth, I’m happy for you,” Roy said with a shrug. “I mean, it’s a strange turn of events but if you’re happy with it…”
“Thanks Roy,” Oliver let out a breath. “I think I am, I mean, it feels weird and insanely fast but it feels good.”
“How do we know it’s the real deal?” Diggle asked as he read the letter over Laurel’s shoulder.
“That’s my mother’s handwriting and Felicity already checked the facts. The part in the letter where she accuses Bella of being a leech is false.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Besides, she makes her own money and hasn’t really touched the money that my mother gave her to shut her up.” He put his own bag of money in his safe before turning around to face them. “Look, I can’t change the past. I was an asshole who made questionable decisions. I’m still an asshole but at least I know better now and I know what I have to do.”
Laurel’s face was pale as she finished reading the letter and looked up to Oliver. “Did you love her? Do you now?”
“Yes, I did. Sorry Laurel, but the day that Bella told me she was pregnant was actually going to be the day that I wanted to end things with you, because you and I…”
“I loved you more. You just loved me because you were in love with the idea of being in love,” she said softly. “Which is why I tolerated your extracurriculars…”
“I was in shock when Bella told me and didn’t dare to tell her that I was going to leave you because I didn’t know what to do so I did what I did best; run to mommy.”
“Who then ruined both your lives,” Roy pointed out.
“So what’s the situation now? Are you two together? Are you going to move in with her? Take care of your son together?” Diggle asked. “Have you actually even thought this through? You don’t even have a job that pays, Oliver. Not to mention, the job you actually do is dangerous. Maybe we should be restricting YOU now in your duties.”
Oliver rolled his eyes at Diggle. “Please,” he huffed. “Bella and I realized that there’s still something between us and we’re going to figure things out along the way. As for the moving in part, she’s going to look for a house for her and Connor and when I find a safe and healthy way to continue to do what I do, I will probably move in with her, yes.”
“Does she know?”
“By accident. She… she can be so infuriating at times and I just couldn’t help myself when I ran into her as the Arrow.”
“Oh yeah,” Roy said with a nod and relaxed his stance. “He’s smitten.”
Laurel, who had grown silent was calmer. “How did she take it? I mean a normal mother would be afraid to let someone who was thought to be a criminal near their child, father or not.”
“I think she was more afraid of the safety measures my mother put in place in order for Bella not to seek me out,” Oliver replied as he sat down on the table. “And for some reason, she understands it. It’s all still pretty fresh, I’m sure we’ll talk more about it once she gets settled in and knows that she no longer has to be afraid of anyone.”
“Is he still alive?” Felicity’s voice sounded as she walked down the stairs. “Because Bella was driving me nuts and broke a few replaceable things and urged me to come and see if he’s still alive.”
“I’m still alive,” Oliver looked over his shoulder and smiled at Felicity. “You didn’t tell her where this place is, did you?”
Felicity huffed. “Of course not, I know better than that… but you owe me a new TV.”
“She’s violent? Ollie…” Laurel sighed as she looked at him with concern in her eyes. “Is she blackmailing you? Or hurting the boy? Because if she is hurting the boy I could-”
“Laurel, she’s fine. She’s the best mother in the world and she’s not hurting anyone. She’s just got some issues to work through and I’m going to help her with that.”
“Oh, good,” Felicity sighed relieved and plopped down in her chair and then a big smile appeared on her face. “I can’t wait for you guys to meet them. Connor is like this perfect mash between Oliver and Bella and he is so smart! Which reminds me to start researching on how to homeschool but that’s going to be fine.”
“No rush,” Oliver said. “I haven’t suggested it to Bella yet.”
“I think they both need some time to adjust… I mean, Connor thinks all my friends are weird.”
Diggle made his way closer as he looked at his friend as if he was a stranger. “I’m sorry but did she just say homeschool?”
He only sighed, tired of the day already. “This is why I wanted to do this tomorrow. Yes, homeschool because Bella has been having a hard time finding a school that Connor doesn’t get bored in or has problems with his classmates. Felicity offered to be tutor for him after she helped us out by spending some time with him at trivia night and saw just how smart he is.”
“It’s true,” she said with a nod. “He’s years ahead of kids in his class. There’s no way that he’d be able to stay in a normal school system without going crazy.”
“Doesn’t explain his mother breaking your television in a fit,” Laurel argued from across the room.
“That was -” Felicity started to say until she saw Oliver shake his head minutely. “That was an accident, honestly. She didn’t even realize she knocked it over because she was busy complaining about you and worrying about you doing something to hurt Oliver over this whole mess.” Turning to look at the man in question, she gave him a smirk. “We’re lucky that there wasn’t anyone to watch Connor because I wouldn’t doubt that she’d have followed me here to make sure that you were okay with her own eyes. Since she knows about you already, I would tell her about the arrowcave in case she needs someplace to escape and hide considering the ugly mess she left behind with her father.”
Oliver groaned as he ran a hand over his face. “I’ll think about it,” he replied, though it was muffled and looked around tiredly. “Look, while I appreciate all of your concern, but I really was going to tell everyone tomorrow. I, we, just wanted tonight to get in and get them settled for the night before jumping into the next mess. Can we just call it a night right now and I promise I’ll tell you all more what I know tomorrow or later?”
“Yeah sure,” Diggle said as he started to collect his things with Roy following behind him. Laurel too, although reluctantly but she did seem to calm down and seemed more open to listening now. “When do we get to meet Bella and Connor anyway?”
“Right now, I don’t know. Uh, just don’t call her Bella to her face unless she asks you to. It’s Isabella. She’s finicky with nicknames from people she doesn’t know or trust but considering she didn’t care for Barry very much in Central City, I’d say give her some time to settle in and let her come to you guys. I’ll talk to her and see when she’s ready but I’m sure she will eventually,” he said as he moved over to sit on his cot as he watched everyone prepare to leave.
As Felicity was the last one, hanging back until they were alone, she smiled at him. “Bella will be fine. She’s strong, like you,” she said as she looked at him curiously. “You’re not going to sleep, are you?”
“I will. Later. I need to do some things first but tell Bella I’ll see her and Connor in the morning and take them out for breakfast. Right now, I think the both of us need a little space to calm down after all this,” he said, gesturing towards where their friends left.
“No kidding. Alright, I’ll tell her. Just remember to actually sleep or I’ll tell her where to find you myself,” she threatened with a small smile on her face as she walked out, leaving him alone.
He was glad when everyone was finally gone for the night, mostly because he wanted to do some research on his own and so that he could have a quiet night to process everything in his way while he worked out. He went to the storage facility where he kept most of his mother’s belongings to start looking for more answers, maybe even find any information on the lawyers who were used as a possible threat to Bella and Connor but couldn’t find anything in the few boxes that he located before taking a couple others back to the basement with him to search through later and crashing for the night.