08: Pull

Oliver stayed in bed for a couple of days with either Roy or Felicity occasionally dropping in on him and when Diggle returned, he was read the riot act almost as if it was his fault that he had been caught by Esme and had caused the damage to himself on purpose. Bella never once came and he didn’t know how to feel about that.

He had wanted to leave the bed on several occasions but whenever he had tried to get up, he had to throw up or fell face flat on the floor because he got dizzy. Bella had been right; they hadn’t known what kind of drugs he had inhaled and combined with Esme’s gift, it was almost as if the herbs hadn’t worked this time. Apart from the throwing up.

And it made him feel even worse because he couldn’t keep anything down either and the whole cycle of feeling sorry for himself started. He eventually managed to barricade the door so that no one would enter and he could get back to his normal self on his own.

Thanksgiving was in a week, and that made him happy because Christmas would follow after; it was his favourite holiday of the year. He had forced himself to walk straight and eat and to keep it down so that he could – hopefully – patch things up with Bella because he was afraid that he had done something irreversible. Not listening to her had been stupid. She’d been right, he needed to let go of things. She had told him so before, a couple of times, and he had tried and always failed.

It frustrated him that he seemed to fail the one person who actually saw him for who he truly was and he knew he needed to make things right with her.

The first day that he actually managed to function as a normal person again, he took a shower, shaved and dressed smart before stepping out of his apartment. He decided against using his motorcycle in case he’d drive into a wall or something, but thought the car was pretty safe. He was going to take Bella out to the park, or dinner, or whatever, he hadn’t decided yet, but he sure as hell was going to buy her the biggest bundle of flowers that he could get his hands on, maybe accompanied with a good bottle of wine and some chocolate.

While Oliver had been holed up in his apartment recuperating, Bella and Roy had been patrolling the city the best they could. They were more careful in the areas that they went and always were together. It was business as usual, but everyone felt the absence of their friend. No one more so than Bella.

No one dared to question her about why she hadn’t gone to see him, for they knew she had her reasons for her particular punishment of him. They knew she was hurting just as much, worrying about how he was faring, even if they were giving her reports as soon as they returned from checking on him.

She busied herself in the meanwhile with the club and with Steve. She and Felicity were getting him familiar with the equipment. He had actually grown to enjoy making arrows when he saw the equipment that Oliver had and was shown somewhat the man had created. When he had nothing to do, he had taken to crafting some on his own. Bella had eyed them as she passed with a smile, wondering what her boyfriend would think of them and her friend when he returned.

“Oh, hello,” Felicity said as she shifted in her chair and looked at the security screen. “Look what the cat dragged in,” she pointed at the screen, showing Oliver with an insanely large bundle of wildflowers in a wild variety of colors. “I think it’s for you,” she smiled widely at Bella.

“It would seem so if he did the thinking that I hope he did,” Bella said as she stared at the monitor where she could see him looking around the club. “I’m going to head up.”

“Have fun,” Felicity grinned as she turned off the screen. She didn’t want to, but she wanted to give her friends some privacy.

Making her way up the stairs, Bella slipped through the crowd until she was behind Oliver. She had seen him continuously searching the area, more along the bar area for her where she normally sat and oversaw the business, but she’d been keeping a low profile all week with him unavailable.

“Feeling better?” she piped up from behind, looking up at him as emotionless as she could manage despite being thrilled that he was there.

He turned around and greeted her with a big smile on his face. “Sorta,” he replied holding up the flowers. “I know this is really cliché and stupid and cheesy but I’m really sorry for what I’ve put you through and I wanted to buy you these.”

Bella accepted the flowers and leaned in to take a whiff of the gentle fragrance as she kept her eyes on him. “Thank you but it wasn’t necessary,” she replied gently, her expression softening.

“Yes, it was. There’s candy and wine in the car, I couldn’t carry that in with me.”

She looked at him confused. “You couldn’t? You own the club…”

He pointed at the large bundle of flowers that she was holding with two hands and raised his eyebrow. “My hands were full, but if you want, I could get it,” he said eagerly.

“It’s…alright. We can get it later,” she assured him. Hesitating, she was more careful as she eyed him when she chose her next words. “I think right now we should just talk?”

“Please,” he replied and nodded towards his office. “Upstairs where no one can bother us?”

“If that’s what you prefer,” Bella shrugged, looking back towards the bar before starting for the stairs leading to the office area.

“I actually…” he gently took her arm and pulled her back to him. “I’d rather have us go to your house so we can be really alone. Like… absolutely no cameras and prying eyes. Eavesdroppers. Mindfuckers.”

The look of relief on her face was clear as she nodded her agreement. “I like that idea,” she said as she steered them towards the exit instead. It wasn’t long before they were settled in his car and on the road. The quiet between them that before had been comfortable was now awkward with the tension from their last encounter, leaving her staring out the window as she wondered how things were going to turn.

He concentrated on driving to the mansion as she stared out of the window. He was hopeful that things were going to turn out alright as her expression had changed into something softer after he had given her the flowers. Sure, gifts weren’t the way to deal with things, and he wasn’t going to, but there was hope. And hope was good, it meant that it wasn’t too late.

After a while, they arrived at the house and he helped her out of the car before gathering the wine and snacks. He then followed her into the house and towards the kitchen where she was likely going to give the flowers some water.

Bella hadn’t known where to begin as she moved on autopilot once they got home. By the time she had monstrous bouquet of flowers separated into two smaller vases, she turned to look at Oliver and bit into her lower lip. “So…how are you feeling?” she asked. “You – look like you can use a couple more days of sleep.”

“You are more important than a couple of days of sleep,” he said as he leaned onto the kitchen island with his elbows. “I am an idiot and that’s exactly how I feel.”

“I’m not arguing that,” she stated as she stared at him.

“I should have listened to you. You were right. You’re always right and maybe I hate it a little that you’re always right but that shouldn’t have made me act the way that I have. I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you.”

Pulling in a breath, she looked away from him and shook her head. “I refuse to comment beyond your choice of word being always. I’m not always right Oliver, but neither are you.”

“No, I’m not,” he let out a breath and scratched his head. “I’m not a teamplayer. I should be, by now. I promise I’ll do better and let things fall where they land by not trying to be in control so much. All of you are more than capable of handling things and I should not be so controlling. And I won’t.”

Bella stared as she worked to process what he said. It wasn’t just her that was hurt though, but it was a step for him to come to her like this, and she knew it. “You have others to apologize to as well,” she murmured with a raised eyebrow, waiting a moment before she would fully let him come to her.

“I will, but you’re more important. I’ve hurt you, Bella. And I’m sorry. I’m going to do my best not to hurt you again and I can’t promise I won’t piss you off because that will happen for a fact, but I should stop trying to control so much. It’s not fair towards you and it’s not how our relationship should be treated. I should just let it happen and actually listen to you, take your advice – at least under consideration, without lashing out.”

Nodding, she looked thoughtful. “So, next time, can I just have Steve or Roy knock you out until you come to your senses?”

“Yes.”

“Can I get that in writing and notarized?” she smiled playfully.

He smirked. “If you want.”

“Come here,” she begged breathlessly, as she moved around the island towards him.

He pushed himself off of the island and pulled her into his arms, breathing in her scent. “I’ve missed you,” he muttered as he brushed her hair out of her face and softly kissed her lips. “So much.”

“I missed you, too,” she admitted as she held onto him tightly. “I didn’t come see you only because I wanted you to be able to think about everything objectively without anyone influencing your decisions.”

“I had to barricade the door to keep everyone out, no doubt they weren’t too pleased with that.”

“No. Steve wasn’t for sure. Especially since we couldn’t track how the drug was progressing as it was clearing out. It’s not in any system so it’s a new formulation and we can only assume that Carlisle formulated it himself. He has the skills and knowledge for it.”

“I don’t like this, Bella. Seriously, the moment I stop shaking while trying to hold my bow, I’m going to hunt them down and kill them.”

She leaned back in his arms and raised an eyebrow at him. “And when I wanted to do that, you wouldn’t let me. My, my. How the tables have turned.”

“We can share? You take one, I take the other.”

“I’ll think about it, but you have more surprises,” she smiled.

“I didn’t hallucinate Steve in the basement, did I?”

Bella shook her head. “No. You didn’t. Diggle was away helping Lyla with something and you needed medical help. He knows more on that than I do so I made a call. You can bitch all you want but know that the man never batted an eye when he learned about what was going on.”

“I’m not going to bitch about it. It’s about time you invited him over… albeit under different circumstances.”

She glared at him, her lip curling back as he was turning it back on her. “Don’t you start that. You were the one holding out. I’ve been wanting to bring him in for months.”

Oliver grinned. “You should have just sprung him on me. That’s what everyone else does.”

“Asshole. Well, then I won’t tell you the other thing. You’ll just have to wait and see that one when it shows up together,” she smiled and patted his cheek. “Wine?”

He nodded. “Not before this though…” he said as he buried his hand in her hair and needily kissed her. Breaking off the kiss and slowly letting go of her, he smiled at her. “Wine.”

“Wine,” she repeated as she licked her lips. “Um, you do know you’re still not coming out with Roy and I, right? We’ve been going out keeping close while you’ve been out of commission. It’s been working so far. A few kinks that need hammering out but we’re getting there.”

“I’m well enough to walk around, not to do the other things just yet. I’m trusting you both to do what you do best.” He grinned when he saw the look on her face. “What? I said I’d loosen up.”

“I’d have suggested Steve to go out in your uniform if needed but he’d just throw grenades at everyone. Diggle has more control in the firearms aspect there, but Steve has his way of contributing…”

“I think my uniform needs to be fixed first,” he said with a snort as he went over to the cupboards and grabbed two glasses. “You’re intending on making Steve part of the team?”

She smiled at him and shook her head. “He already is. You just haven’t realized it yet. You’ll see.”

~o.O.o~

The following morning after the reunited couple managed to drag themselves out of bed, Oliver and Bella eventually managed to make their way down to Verdant. As they walked into the club, she raised her arm in greeting as Roy was doing inventory from the previous night behind the bar.

“Coffee!” she ordered. “I know there is grounds I brought in special. Don’t use the crap we sell to customers.”

“I already brewed you a pot, boss,” Roy replied, shaking his head as he put the thermos on the bar.

His name for her caused her to pause and groan. “Where the fuck is Steve? I know he’s around here somewhere.”

“He’s in the bathroom,” he said thumbing over his shoulder. “Glad you’re back, Oliver,” he grinned. “She’s running a tight ship, you’re going to love it.”

“Oh hell no,” she shuddered and grabbed the thermos, bolting for the basement, keeping a wide berth around the bathroom doors.

As Oliver passed the bathrooms, he could have sworn he could hear some panting and shuddered before taking an extra step or two. “He has a girlfriend and he’s having sex in that bathroom? What is he thinking?”

“You’ll find out shortly,” she winced. “You can’t say shit either.”

“No, seriously, what is he thinking? After the mindfuckery you gave me of your dad and your uncle together on that one? Gross!”

“I know! Don’t say anything! I’m even disturbed by it!” Bella cried as she put her code in for the door and pulled him into the basement quickly. As she made her way down the stairs, she took sips of her coffee and looked for Felicity but saw that the girl wasn’t there yet. “Just us for now. Robin is probably at Queen Consolidated covering for you today.”

He noticed how there were more cabinets and racks for the weapons they previously had kept in their crates and things had moved around a little to create more space. “I like what you’ve done with the place.”

She looked at what he was referring to and smiled. “That actually wasn’t me,” she said. “But thanks. Hey! Check these out…” She pulled out a padded drawer in one of the new cabinets with some of the newly fashioned arrows. “What do you think?”

He took the arrow and looked at it from all sides, even weighing it in his hand. “About half a gram too heavy but it looks great. Did you make these?”

“No. I don’t know what this one does. You’ll have to ask Steve. He’s been playing since you locked them out of the apartment. His mind is a frightening place when he gets bored. I swore I overheard him mumbling about wanting to make a grenade arrow. I’m working on talking that one down. We already have our C4 darts.”

“Grenades on an arrow?” He considered it for a moment. “Not safe.”

“He will find a way, trust me. He’s distracted at the moment,” she insinuated.

“C4 is enough,” he said as he handed her back the arrow. “I could set off the fire alarm to draw him out.”

“He has more to show you. Just wait for him. Be patient. I need the camera,” she grinned, as she went to get her cellphone out of her purse for when she heard the door open.

“We really should stop doing that,” Oliver could hear the hushed voice of Laurel. “What if Oliver comes back and catches us?”

Bella snapped her cellphone of Oliver’s face without the flash before she turned around to wait for her cousin to notice that he was actually waiting in the room. She had a huge grin on her face as she waited with her finger hovering over her button.

“You’re an adult, who cares what he thinks?” Steve’s voice sounded. “No offense, but you guys treat him with kid gloves.”

“I heard that,” Oliver said as he crossed his arms over his chest and saw the surprised looks on their faces.

The darkened area of the stairs filled with the white flash of Bella’s cell phone. “Surprise!” she cheered. “Good morning, Harley? Deadpool? I know I had a great one. You know Ollie does this great thing with his tongue… I’m sure Laurel remembers it. Does Steve do something similar?”

“Bella!” Laurel whined, stomping her foot for emphasis. “You bitch!”

The girl had already moved back over to Oliver’s side and was busy admiring her photo with a smile. “I think I’m going to send this to Felicity…”

Oliver looked over her shoulder and nodded. “Do it. And to Barry,” he said before looking at Laurel and Steve.

“Oooh, Sonic! Yes!” she grinned. “Has he been checking in? I miss the annoying bastard.”

“You should ask Felicity, he’s only talking to her in case they read his phone,” Oliver said, still looking at Steve and Laurel. Laurel looked a little uneasy and Steve just stood there with a big smile on his face. Oliver thought for a moment and nodded. He pushed himself off from the desk he was leaning against and grinned. “So, Steve… Laurel absolutely loves it when you brush your five o’clock shadow against the inside of her knee or elbow. She’ll goes wild when you do that.”

“Ollie!” Laurel said shocked, eyes wide in surprise.

Bella raised an eyebrow at her cousin. “You got some weird fetish girl. I was half expecting something like him licking between your toes or forcing him to wear your heels while you’re on your knees for him.”

“Oh, I could totally wear your heels and…” Steve started, earning him a slap on his chest from Laurel to shut him up.

“TMI, Steve,” Bella and Oliver called out together, both looking a little green and disgusted at the two of them. “What the fuck?” she continued as she looked at the man in a different light. “Who are you? Seriously you hook up with my cousin and you have a different personality. Like bipolar. Totally Deadpool. Time to show off sharp pointy things.”

“What? I’m freaky between the sheets, you know that. That’s not a secret,” Steve said defensively before bouncing over to the cabinets to show Oliver his new tools. “You don’t have to use them because they’re a little bit heavier than your own arrows but these… oh man, they can pierce through just about anything.”

Bella couldn’t help but chuckle as Oliver already pointed out the weight difference. She just didn’t know what the details of the arrows were and went to join him as she listened.

“Yeah but I like my arrows the way they are…”

“Just listen to him,” Bella urged softly.

“Your bow can handle it. I had Roy road test these babies,” Steve smirked widely. “Seriously, one went through a car, through and through and still didn’t lose momentum.”

“But usually arrows don’t need to go through cars, I’d rather have them stick to something.”

“Yes, but look!” Steve said enthusiastically and got an arrow of the same sort he had already touched. “Upon impact, these little hooks come out and stop the arrow from moving. Just like the arrow you use to swing from rooftops.”

Oliver started to laugh. “You’re a weapons geek.”

“We have a computer geek and a weapons one. He has more ideas that he’s working on but those are the ones finished. He had made more of yours as the primary use while you were out which took time, so say thank you, Steve,” Bella smiled. “These could be for specialized situations. That’s all.”

“Thank you, Steve, these are awesome,” Oliver smiled at him. “Much appreciated.”

She sighed in acceptance and looked to her friend. “We’re still working on the sarcasm, but it’s an improvement overall.”

Oliver turned on the coffee maker they had down in the basement and sat down on a chair. “I’m glad you’re feeling comfortable here, Steve. It’s good to have you.”

“It’s almost like the team we had with us back when we were at Swan Security. If you trust the people you are with, there is no reason not to be who you are,” Steve shrugged. “Anyhow…I’m going to go and swing past the Cullen house for my daily stalking. I’ll be by your place to pick you for our date tonight, Gorgeous,” he said to Laurel.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that,” Bella said as she stared at them as they kissed and he walked out.

“No, but I now know why Dig and Felicity are always so grossed out…” Oliver said thoughtfully as he watched the coffee pot fill up.

She turned to him. “Not by us! We’re not that sappy!” she protested, offended.

“You totally are,” Laurel said with a grin. “But that’s okay, we love you anyway.” She pat Oliver on his head. “You look like you need a couple more days in bed.”

“I’m not going to do anything but sit here and drink coffee.”

“Not even if I’m with you?” Bella waggled her eyebrows.

“Oh, yes, with you I can spend days in bed without going stir crazy,” he said with a grin.

Pouting, she leaned over and kissed the corner of his mouth. “Unfortunately, I still have a club to run for you, and a city to take care of with your manchild in red.”

“Can I help you with something?”

“You can plan a menu for Thanksgiving dinner,” Bella smiled. “Then go food shopping with Steve and Roy. Dad wants to have a family dinner.”

He blinked at her. “By family you mean…”

“Sara’s supposed to be there too,” she said with her lip curled back, gagging on her words.

“I’m bringing Steve,” Laurel said with a wide grin.

Bella leaned over and whispered in his ear. “I need all the hard liquor you can find to smuggle under the table to me. Gordon imposed a no liquor rule for dinner already.”

“Yeah, good idea,” he said with a nod. “I get the no liquor rule with him and Laurel but us?” He whispered. “Can I use the internet for menu ideas?”

“Yes you may. You can even ask Felicity for help if you need for the menu but shopping must be done with the boys,” she grinned and kissed his cheek before moving to go do some work on the computer for the company.

“Laurel?”

“Oh no, not helping you there,” she grinned. “I’d better go to work. Good to see you out and about again, Ollie. Have fun you two.”

Oliver watched Laurel leave and after checking the coffee pot, which was almost filled, he got to his feet and walked over to Bella. He gently rubbed her shoulders and smiled. “What do you want me to do for Thanksgiving? The traditional stuff?”

“A turkey is nice, of course. Ask the guys. You’re all eating there too. Just decide on something that Felicity and I can cook,” she answered as she reviewed an email from the company lawyer.

“How about we just hire a chef to cook for us?”

“It’s a family dinner. We can’t just have someone cook. Felicity already agreed to come over the night before so that we can get up early and start. It’ll be fun…” she trailed off.

“Oh no, you’re not going to be in the kitchen. Maybe to slice things, but that’s it. You’re not going anywhere near a skillet or an oven,” Oliver grinned and then saw the look on her face. “What’s wrong?”

Bella looked up at him. “That was one time. I didn’t know that the buns were at the wrong temperature. That oven is fucked up anyway.”

“That oven is perfectly fine and that was not funny,” he laughed and pointed at the screen. “What’s that about?”

She looked at the screen. “Someone is suing us anonymously. It doesn’t say why, but the claim is coming out of Central City.”

“Is that even possible, to sue someone anonymously?”

“Well right now this is a notice of intent, so it can be sent through the lawyer on behalf of his client. Once it’s submitted to the court then they have to let me know who is accusing my company of something. In the meanwhile, I’m going to have to take a trip to the office to make sure everything is on the up and up since this is the closest branch to have anything to do with Central City for them to be handling such a case. I’m not concerned really. I’m just curious and suspicious.”

“Yeah, okay,” he said with a nod. “You have good lawyers so I’m not too worried either, but let me know if you need any help with that, QC has good lawyers too.” he sat down next to her behind the other computer and looked at it for a while before cracking his fingers and opening the browser and went looking for thanksgiving ideas. “Want me to ask Cisco to sniff out the person who’s suing you?”

“No. I think it’s something to do with the Cullens already. Best not to let them catch on and just go on with normal business. This is a typical M.O. to try to frighten me with their reach, but I learned their game back when I was a mere teenager, which is how I got them to pay for my medical and college bills.”

“If you’re sure,” he smiled at her.

“What are you doing behind my computer, Oliver?” Felicity’s voice sounded angry. “No one touches my baby!”

Oliver spun around in his chair and eyed Felicity with a smile. “Hi!”

“I mean, glad you’re back but please use the other spare computer?” She hurried over to hug him but mainly to push him towards the other computer. “My set up is fragile.”

“I’m just searching for Thanksgiving food!”

“Yeah and with one wrong button you will screw up my computer. I know you, Ollie.”

“Before you I had my own computer and stuff, Felicity, I know what I’m doing.”

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes at him. “That was a computer from the stone age. This one is more current.” She pointed at the extra computer. “Yours.”

Bella sipped at her coffee as she eyed them over the rim. She said nothing as she watched the exchange and forwarded her response to the lawyers regarding the latest incident. “So…Oliver wants us to hire a cook…”

“No! We can cook!” Felicity looked at Oliver. “You’re not going to hire someone to cook for us. That person deserves to be with his or her own family!”

“I say we make him stay in the kitchen with us now,” Bella suggested. “While we get to talk about boys.”

“Yes, Ollie’s definitely one of the girls.”

“I’m not!”

“Then go watch the game and let us cook!”

“No!” Oliver whined. “Well, you maybe, but not Bella. You don’t understand what she did, Felicity.”

“NO! You promised not to tell!” Bella protested angrily as she ran from her seat and wrapped her hand around his mouth. “No!”

Oliver started to laugh and pulled her into his lap. “I’m not telling, but you’re making a big deal out of it and she’ll start digging.”

“You’re the one that doesn’t want me in the kitchen,” she pointed out. “Then you started to hint. You’re to blame here. I’m sorry.”

“So what happened?” Felicity smirked, curious to know what they were hiding.

“The oven in that house is fucked up…” Bella answered the same time that Oliver spoke.

“She tried baking buns.”

“Miscommunication of the worst kind,” Bella huffed as she crossed her arms, her elbow digging in his chest.

“Aww, but wouldn’t it be nice to have little Ollie’s walking around in that big house of yours?” Felicity teased. “Or tiny Bella’s in cutesy princess clothes?”

“Oh hell no! No. No, no no no,” Bella repeated as she jumped up and ran from them. “I need a drink…” she muttered as she ran up the stairs.

“Yeah don’t mention shit like that again, please,” Oliver said as he slowly got to his feet. “It freaks her out.”

“She wasn’t pregnant?” Felicity asked, disappointed.

Oliver shook his head. “She was really just baking buns in the oven and it caught on fire.”

“But she seems so good with kids when you guys deal with them out there,” she said confused. “I don’t get it.”

“Well, other people’s kids are different. You don’t hold any responsibility over them or have to deal with them every day.”

“I think she’d make a great mom though. Maybe it’s something else scaring her? Did you ask her what she thought about it?”

“Yes, I think so too but I’m not going to push the issue, I’ll only push her away. Besides, it’s too early for kids, don’t you think? I’m glad she didn’t kick me out after what happened last week.”

Felicity nodded in agreement. “True. Go on up and deal with her. I won’t mention this to the others, but I would be damn excited if that ever becomes reality.”

“Not for a while, Felicity, keep dreaming,” he said lightly before following Bella upstairs, finding her taking a sip of a beer. “It’s too early to drink, come on,” he said as he gently pulled her off the chair. “Let’s get your mind onto something else…” he pulled her in his arms and gently started to kiss her neck.

“Felicity is going to hound us now,” she muttered as she peeled the label off the bottle.

“Nah, she’s not,” Oliver kept kissing her neck. “You know how she gets. Very excited. I’ve spoken to her and she’ll let it rest.”

She hummed as she relaxed against him, blinking as she tried to keep her thoughts in order. “But you are disappointed as well. I just…don’t want to think about something like that. Not right now. Not anytime soon.”

“Me neither,” his hand snuck underneath her shirt as he nuzzled her earlobe. “Bad experiences with the other assholes you were with?”

“No. Never considered it an option with them. Simply terrified,” she answered, her breath shook as she looked up into his eyes. “Are we going to have to take this upstairs because there is no way in hell I’m going into the bathrooms in this place.”

He smiled at her and softly brushed his lips against hers. “We’re going to remodel those bathrooms. Or hell, blow them up. Have people pee outside in the bushes.” Oliver then let go of her and took her hand. “Upstairs is a great idea.” He decided to let the kids thing drop for now. He got her answer and that was more than enough. He could wait. Even if they’d never be able to have children, that would be fine too because all he wanted was her. Bella mentioning that she never considered it with others gave him some hope though, if and when it happened, she was going to be amazing in the future.

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