Chapter 16: Rule 23

Oliver had heard Charlie sneak out of the house early that morning and while Bella was still asleep, he went downstairs to make her some breakfast with high proteins, eggs, a toast with turkey breast on it and some tea to make sure she wouldn’t get hyped up on caffeine. Looking at his handy work, he sighed. He definitely needed to learn to cook better things and to make a decent breakfast.

He took the tray upstairs and set it down at the end table before crawling back in bed and softly kissed her. “Good morning,” he whispered in her ear. “How are you feeling?”

“Breakfast in bed again? You’re going to spoil me Oliver Queen,” Bella yawned as she tested her muscles as she stretched out but groaned as they protested too much. “Still sore but no worse than expected. Nothing a few Motrin through the day can’t help.”

“Yep, let me get some ointment on you first before you handle a mug of steaming hot liquid, don’t want you to burn yourself because you’ve got the shakes.” He reached for the jar and smiled at her.

“I’d only get the shakes really if you were planning on doing something else to my body,” she smirked at him as she reached for a slice of toast and eyed him innocently.

“If I’d do something else to your body right now, you’d be in agony all the way through and we both wouldn’t like that very much,” he mused, his mind already going to places it shouldn’t go.

Bella pushed the covers off of her as she moved to sit up. “Believe me I know. Anyway, you said that you caught our demented friend, Thunderbolt. How’d that go? Where’d you find him?” she asked as she shifted her robe to cover herself.

He opened the jar and started to rub the ointment on her legs. “I found him right here on the property,” Oliver replied as he made sure that he put some extra around her knees. “I went to his house first. I know that Roy had been sitting on it for a few days but I went inside and found a map of the property with some areas crossed off. All I needed to do was to find his camp and wait. And I got him.”

“You make it sound so easy,” she sighed as she closed her eyes, fighting against the spasms as he worked on her legs. “What’s next? We’re going to the club after breakfast, right?”

“You’re not going to do anything and I’ll stay here if I have to make sure you stay here and relax.”

“Oliver…What do you really expect me to be able to do when I will barely be able to do anything but walk – if that? Pass me the coffee please?”

“We don’t have comfortable chairs at the club or the basement,” Oliver snorted as he handed her the mug of tea. “I know you’re itching to get out of the house, but please take it easy.”

“You have the armchair in the office upstairs that isn’t that damaged. Have Chuck bring it down for me,” she commented as she went to take a sip but stopped short as she caught the scent and looked down. “What the hell is this shit?”

“Tea,” Oliver said smugly. “I don’t want you to go and bounce around all hyped up on caffeine.”

Bella’s eyes shot up and glared up at him, not moving a muscle otherwise. “You’re not the boss of me. I want coffee.”

“I am the boss of you. No coffee.”

She huffed as she looked at him incredulously. “Right. No. That’s not going to last long. If you thought I was a bitch before, you don’t want to know me without my coffee. Get me coffee. Not this – garbage. Seriously Oliver.”

Oliver laughed. “No coffee. If you get impossible when we’re at the club, I’ll use a tranquilizer on you.”

“Wrong. You won’t use shit on me. You’ll get me a fucking coffee.”

“Nope. Herbal teas. I already sent Felicity on a shopping trip so we can boost your inner system a little bit.”

Bella narrowed her eyes on him and smiled to herself because the woman had already had to experience her without her caffeine already, but she wouldn’t attempt to get the girl in trouble with her boyfriend. No, she will have to force the girl to suffer her own wrath under Oliver’s watchful eyes. “Felicity will too suffer greatly,” she said with glee, eyes twinkling in excitement.

Oliver grinned as he got off the bed and started to get dressed. “Fine, you’re coming with me. Fancy a motorcycle ride?”

“If we leave soon, sure. Get me something to wear while I finish your lovely breakfast with shitty beverage options,” she smiled up at him.

Oliver closed his pants as he walked to her closet and found some sweatpants and a t-shirt and vest and laid them out on the bed. “Nice, comfy clothes. You don’t want to bother too much with getting dressed as it’ll hurt. If you do want to stay tonight, you can get a change of clothes.”

“Sure. Sure,” she replied, having been more focused on her food and watching him dress. While their relationship had gotten off with a rocky start, she would have never been able to deny that the man was attractive. It’d only been a few weeks since they’ve actually begun talking to get to where they were but it felt longer for her as she had actually been in Starling City for some time before he was even willing to face her after agreeing to accept her help with his club. Clearing her throat, she spoke up innocently, “Um, Ollie?”

“Yeah?” Oliver said as he pulled his shirt over his head.

“Can you strip down and get dressed again for me?” she asked sweetly, looking at him hungrily and tortured.

“Oh, oh I would,” Oliver said empathically after seeing the look on her face. “But not while you’re looking at me like that because I’d so jump you and ravage you completely. And I can’t. So I’m not.”

Bella finished the food and set the plate aside. “You suck. I have to get my kicks somehow if I can’t have any participation,” she pointed out as she gingerly climbed out of bed to dress. Once done, she started to stretch out her muscles while the ointment had begun to take away the worst of the pain in attempt to ease some of it when it wore off. “You aren’t planning on taking the motorcycle back, right?”

“Of course not,” he smiled at her. “I’ll drive you home in a comfortable car and I’ll take it easy on the bike as well.”

“Good. I don’t need to come home with my ass hurting too,” she replied. “That’s about the only area that doesn’t hurt – surprisingly.”

They arrived at Verdant after taking a leisurely pace on the motorcycle and brought bagels for everyone who was present, but Oliver wouldn’t mind eating all those bagels by himself either. Roy was busy checking the stock for tonight, glad to be opening – again – and hopefully this time without any trouble, the insurance was being annoying and stopped covering them for bulletholes.

“Morning!” Felicity smiled bubbly as Oliver and Bella walked down the stairs. “How are you feeling, Bella?”

“I’ve been worse,” she replied as she shoved her finger into a hole in the armchair. “Is there any coffee? The caffeine Nazi over here refused to get me any.”

“Not for you,” Felicity smiled as she winked at Bella and handed her a cup of herbal tea, with a little post-it note underneath it saying Caffeinated herbal tea, let’s switch cups when he’s not looking I’m having coffee xoxo

Sniffing at the lid, Bella smirked at the message as she crumbled it up. “Fucking EVIL PEOPLE AROUND HERE!” she screamed out, turning as much as her body allowed to make sure her objections carried over to her boyfriend.

“Yeah, yeah,” Oliver said as he sat down at his workbench and resumed making new arrows – something he had started the day before.

“So, what’s the plan?” Felicity said as she spun in her chair, facing Oliver. “Are you going after some people or are you going to spend the day doing nothing or…”

“I’m making arrows,” he said as he held up an arrowhead.

Bella rolled her eyes as she curled up on the armchair next to the girl, setting the tea down. “He’s going to be incredibly boring today and on my nerves. You will hate me because I won’t have had my coffee because someone wants to be an asshole and doesn’t understand exactly who or what he is messing with when he comes between a person and their coffee.”

“It’s not that bad,” Felicity grinned as she swapped the mugs around. “Anyway, have you made a decision yet if you want to continue working with us?”

“I thought yesterday would have been an answer enough? What the fuck else do I need to do?” she snapped, shifting her glare from her over to Oliver. “Is there some fucking handshake or test? You already got my DNA, so that’s done. What else is there? My signature in blood?”

“Say yes?” Felicity batted her eyelashes at Bella before nudging the mug with coffee.

Scoffing at something so ridiculous, she looked at her suspiciously. “Yes? Really? Tell me what do you want?” she questioned, her hand reaching out for the cup and angrily sipping, barely able to hold back the sigh of contentment as the warm, robust flavor of the coffee hitting her.

“Both Oliver’s and Roy’s suits are made out of leather and kevlar, I thought we’d design you a cool suit as well.”

“No,” Oliver said, shaking his head. Bella in leather? He would not survive that.

“Yes. Because she needs to be safe too and she, like you, needs to hide her identity because she’s freaking bulletproof. So we’re going to find her an outfit.”

“Ignore him. Yes! I get a superhero outfit too? Awesome,” Bella grinned as she got excited. “Show me what you have in mind. If it’s leather, can you throw in a whip and flog to take home too?”

“Oh, but we can go shopping for that when you’re feeling better,” Felicity grinned. “Laurel would love it too and I believe there’s a convention soon… all that leather… and whips and other… toys.

“Felicity!” Oliver said shocked. “What the hell!”

“What?” Felicity said innocently. “I have a kinky side too, you know. Barry loves it.”

“Oh, I don’t want to know,” Oliver shook his head and looked to the stairs where Diggle descended the stairs. “Say something about that, Diggle.”

“No, I’d rather not. TMI.” Diggle replied.

Bella struggled out of the chair to her side and poked her in her ribs. “Ignore them and show me your ideas. I’m not going to remain out of commission as long as Oliver hopes me to be. He’s not invincible and he’s out there. I’m more invincible than he is,” she said, purposely keeping her back to him.

“Definitely something dark, to distinguish you from Roy and Oliver,” Felicity said with a nod. “Maybe some green accents to play off of Oliver… maybe a jacket? Although that would be a terrible idea as that’d get in the way when you have to fight.”

She raised eyebrow and nodded slowly. “Yeah. These new nimrods back there have hoods. I want one too, but I need my hands exposed if I need to touch them to shield them from any kind of assault like up in the office. That would cause a problem with their suits too because I had to pull Oliver’s hood off as I didn’t see any way other skin I can get to from behind him. Maybe a small window or something on their arms that would give me access? Like the lace threading Chuck has? Does it open up easily if I were to pull on it?”

“Yeah, I suppose that we can modify something for you to have easy access to the guy’s skin without pulling their hoods off, I mean, it’s easier with Roy’s outfit and seeing as Oliver really likes it that he’s not showing any skin – as that’s safer, we’ll think of something,” Felicity said with a nod. “It’s a good thing you’ve got small hands, loads more possibilities.”

“It’s not like I’m giving road head here. I’m just looking for them not to turn into Swiss cheese from someone who’s trigger happy,” Bella snickered.

Felicity giggled as she opened a folder on her computer. “Well, this is what our outfitter came up with when I said we needed something more feminine this time, there are a few pictures, and you’ll just see if there’s something there that you like. We could also mix and match.”

Leaning over her shoulder to look, she grunted as her muscled rejected the idea. Pointing out to one image, she liked immediately, she nodded. “That one, but maybe a little less padding. It’s not like I need it. I also like these pants with it,” she added as she pointed to another photo. “Add in a hood and it should be all matchy matchy with the boys. But no pink. I will kill you if you get anything pink.”

“Aw, that’s a shame…” Felicity said as she handed Bella a package. “Barry made Roy and Oliver their masks and he sent me this for you.”

“Your boyfriend has a deathwish,” she said, eyeing it, refusing to touch it as she backed away to her armchair. “I may have that pink rocking chair in my room, but it’s the only thing of my mother that my father managed to keep over the years and I promised never to get rid of it. Don’t – just, don’t. Tell him thanks, anyway.”

“I’ll dye it.” Felicity said as she put the package back onto the desk and swapped back their mugs so she could have a sip of coffee. “Do you have combat boots you’re comfortable walking and running in?”

“Felicity, she is the CEO of Swan Security, I’m pretty sure she has some decent combat gear to work with,” Oliver was amused as he took a few of his made arrows to the other work bench to sharpen them to his liking.

“Right.” Felicity typed something on her computer in an email, enclosing the pictures and sent it. “There. That order is in.”

Bella looked over and watched Oliver as he worked on his project for awhile, much like Alfred was doing. Letting out a sigh, she groaned, both in boredom and aggravation from her body. “Is there any information you got out of Thunderbolt? What’s going on with him? Alfred! Is there any coffee upstairs?” she asked with the sweetest smile she could muster.

“I think that Oliver wants to keep you decaffeinated for today and I am not opposed to that idea,” Diggle said as he made his way over to the girls. “And Peter…”

“Not today,” Oliver warned Diggle, he didn’t want Bella to deal with more than she already dealt with. “Soon.”

“She has a right to know, Oliver.”

Oliver looked at Bella. “Do you really want to know now?” He knew that she was going to say ‘yes’, and he couldn’t blame her, but he wanted to go easy on her, especially today, and with him already restricting coffee access, maybe he should tell her.

She had been watching the exchange through narrowly slitted eyes as her own anger grew. If she hadn’t already been feeling so bad, she would have already likely reacted much sooner but she was currently limited. “Of course. You keep secrets that are about me from me, we have problems. It’s disrespectful and I am sure if I knew something about you, you’d be beyond pissed off if I kept it from you regardless of whatever condition you were in.”

Oliver sighed and nodded as he got to his feet and dragged a chair with him before sitting down in front of her. “Peter was quite the talker after we caught him, more acting like a little weasel, to be honest. He didn’t know quite why he was sent to spend nights at a time at some mansion making a lot of noise, but he got paid really well for it.” In all fairness, Oliver didn’t believe that Peter was that much of a threat but yet, he handed him off to A.R.G.U.S without any hesitation. “And his employer made the mistake of revealing his identity, even though the man is one smart guy who’s done a lot to you to get you to flee back into the arms of his son.”

Bella sat there, staring at him as her eyes tightened slightly and relaxing some repeatedly as he spoke. Each word brought a new micro expression to her face as it slowly revealed to her the answer to the question of why some random person would be so interested in her if it wasn’t for her apparent ability. As he quietly finished speaking, she sat back as her breath slowly let out through her nose audibly, closing her eyes as she attempted to suppress the rage that grew.

For the first time in ten years, she never wanted someone dead so much in her life. Sure she had wished death for the parties that inflicted pain, suffering upon those she’d encountered, but never before in her personal life. “Move,” she said through gritted teeth as she leaned forward to sit up, pushing him out of her way.

Shaking her head and rolling her shoulder against the protests it was making, she paced the floor by their weapons storage, running her hand through her hair. Processing that her ex and his father were the ones behind a decade of nightmares. As she turned for another pass, her eye caught one of Sara’s bo-staffs that she had left behind. Grabbing it, she rotated it a few times, swinging it as if trying to take off some imaginary head but not quite feeling satisfied until it struck the solid pole of the salmon ladder, causing her pause. Blinking, it only made her stop for just the moment before she began to swing with enough force that soon, the wood of the staff weapon began to splinter from the repetitive impact against the cold steel.

“Mother fucking assholes, scumbag, cocksucking, bottom feeders that doesn’t deserve to share the same oxygen,” she grunted with each strike before falling to the floor when the stick broke, crying.

Oliver had watched her closely, he wasn’t going to stop her, he knew what it was to be angry, to be disappointed and to be afraid all at the same time and she had to get it out of her system. He wasn’t far away when she fell to the floor and was quickly by her side to put his arms around her and gently caressed her back. “I’m sorry, Bells,” he said softly. “I am so sorry.”

“Why can’t they just move on? I did? Why can’t they?” she asked as she tucked her face into his shoulder.

“We’re going to find out, I promise. I don’t know how, but we are going to find out,” he whispered. “And they are going to pay.”

“I want them dead Oliver. I know how you feel about that but I don’t care anymore. This is ten years, pieces of my life over ten years they stole that I can never get back. Who knows where I would have been if they hadn’t done what they did, but I want them, Carlisle and Edward Cullen, six feet under,” she said decisively.

“As I said, they’re going to pay, but we have to be smart about this and we will take things slowly, we’ll be prepared once we know everything.”

“Felicity went out to tell Laurel,” Diggle said as he approached the two. “But might I offer a suggestion?”

“Go ahead,” Oliver nodded.

“We need intel. Like… other intel than we can get from files or the internet or hacking. How about we send Barry up there for a few days?”

Bella looked up from Oliver tiredly. “What can he do?” she asked. “He a doctor or something?”

“Apart from being a CSI for the police department?”

“Isn’t that like sending a red flag?” she questioned.

“Yeah, but Barry… he’s the person who got caught in the explosion from that particle accelerator and at the same time he got struck by lightning. He’s a very very very fast runner. Like… a flash.”

“So take him with you next time you decide to run from your apartment to the club. I’m not doing that shit with you again,” she said.

“Barry lives in Central City and he’s so fast that even I can’t keep up with him. Nor a bullet, really. He can outrun bullets,” Oliver humorously stated.

She picked her head up to look at him with sarcastically. “Right, okay. Well, you call Sonic and get his ass over here to chat. Tell him to bring my ass coffee if he wants to be my friend. I’m tired. I hurt. Don’t try shoving tea at me again. I don’t want it.”

“Want me to drive you home?”

“Are you deaf? I just want coffee,” she snapped as she punched him in the gut. “Now help me up.”

Oliver was amused as he rose to his feet and gently pulled her to her feet. “Alright, you can have your coffee, would you like us to go to a coffee shop or shall we serve you the awful tasting one we serve upstairs?”

“Coffee,” Bella repeated, feeling like a broken record for not having her full daily dose of her regular medication. Really though, it wasn’t for her.

“Fine,” He lifted her up in his arms and started to walk towards the stairs with her. “Coffee it is, you’ve earned it.”

Diggle followed behind them as he hid his own grin, muttering, “We all earned it.”

“Heard that,” Oliver warned Diggle as he opened the door to the club.

“You’ll learn. I did,” he admitted, smiling knowingly, though he was a bit disappointed that Oliver had caved so soon. He and Felicity had already experienced Bella without any coffee as he had attempted to convince her to try to give it up when he started his training with her but by the end of day one, Laurel was laughing at them. The end of day two, Felicity was begging him to stop the insane idea of switching the woman to tea. The fourth morning, Diggle had greeted her at her door with a two cups from her favorite coffee shop just for her as an apology.

Oliver set Bella down on a bar stool and smiled at Roy. “Give us the whole pot of coffee, please. Oh, and a mug.”

“Oh, thank god.” Roy said and quickly set down a mug and put the pot next to it on the bar. “I was afraid that we were going to have explosions downstairs.”

“It’s not that bad,” Oliver marvelled.

“No, because you’re afraid that she’ll hurt you.” Diggle pointed out. “You gave in way too easily.”

“She deserves her coffee today, I might not be so friendly tomorrow.”

Bella snorted as she sipped her cup. “That’s what you think. While you were off playing businessman at the office, we were dealing with Batgirl here while Diggle was training her. He lasted three days,” Roy explained to him. “Three days.”

“And what happened the fourth day?”

“I got two cups of a wonderful coffee blend from Africa that my favorite shop serves that has very subtle hints of dark cocoa and citrus tones in it. Absolutely orgasmic,” she said as she smiled, thinking about it.

“Bella Swan, the coffee aficionado,” Oliver said with a smile on his face. “Who would have thought.”

“Seriously, Oliver, she could open up her own coffee shop and give the bigger stores a run for their money with the knowledge she possesses,” Diggle chipped in.

She shrugged at the compliment, but said nothing as it was something she had considered in the beginning then decided to go with the firm as she had. “There were more than enough coffee shops in Seattle between Starbucks and the espresso shops littering the corners. I couldn’t see the point of another and risk the chance at failing.”

“Starling City isn’t Seattle,” Diggle replied before pouring his own cup of coffee.

“I have Verdant and you to keep me busy during the week while Oliver has Queen Consolidated,” she threw back at him.

“Are we going to do anything special today?” Roy asked as he looked at Oliver. “Because to be honest, I’m pretty excited that we’re opening again and I don’t want to leave this place unattended.”

“No, we’re staying in,” Oliver replied with a nod. “I might even come and help out behind the bar.”

Bella smirked as she looked up at Roy. “Shall we alert the media? Might pull in some extra girls wanting to see that. The club certainly could use the extra money with the show.”

“What?” Oliver laughed. “I know how to work the bar, you know.”

“I’m talking about my hot boyfriend that people wouldn’t expect to be working it,” she smiled at him. “Are you really that dense?”

“Well, I have been accused of being a playboy airhead more often than not so… yes?” Oliver tried to go for humor this time.

Diggle tried to hide his surprise. Did she really referred to Oliver as her boyfriend? When did that happen? They were together, sure, but they had never spoken openly about their status. Maybe it happened during dinner, the pictures that were in the paper spoke volumes, Oliver had looked incredibly smitten by Bella on them and that was something that he tried to hide during the day or when he knew there were cameras around. But it was good, that the two of them had finally put a label on them as a couple, Oliver deserved to be in love and happy.

“Back up a second here,” Roy said as he looked at them curious and excited. “Boyfriend?”

“Yes. It’s official. No need to run to the tabloids because they claimed it from the beginning, so just watch yourself otherwise I’ll have your balls bronzed on a shelf in my house before the end of the night,” Bella threatened as she leveled her eyes on the kid.

“Ouch,” Roy said as he shielded his private parts with his hands. “So even with you being all official now, he still dares to deny you coffee? That’s harsh.”

“I believe congratulations are in order,” Diggle grinned.

She looked at the two of them like they lost their heads. “We are dating, just boyfriend girlfriend. Like high school shit. It’s not like he proposed,” she said. “Calm your livers. It’s really not front page material. It’s no different than what we were last week. Right?”

“Oh, it’s very different from last week,” Diggle said with a nod. “You’ve put a label on you two as a couple now. Soon, you’ll move in with each other.”

Bella looked over at Oliver for help as he seemed to have remained a little too silent for her liking. “Would you like to help me out here?”

“The best way to ignore them is to actually ignore them,” Oliver said amused. “Who cares that we’re official now? This is our thing, she’s my girlfriend, get over it.”

“I’m going to text Felicity right now,” Roy said all giddy and got out his phone.

She reached across the counter as she glared at him, attempting to snatch the device from his hands. “I swear to you Chuck, I will let whatever madman turn you into Swiss cheese for the rats…That girl will be worse than a Teletubbie on crack.”

Roy had jumped back out of her reach as he typed the message and then held up the phone. “Message sent!”

“I’m outta here!” Diggle announced, quickly grabbing his jacket to make his escape as Bella stood slowly from her seat, glaring at their club’s manager. “I’ll have Laurel put a notice in the paper that we’ll be hiring a new manager soon…”

“You are so dead…” she growled.

“Bella, stop.” Oliver said as he put a hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down in the chair. “Enjoy your coffee.”

She bit her lip as she eyed her cup, sneered at Roy, then glared at Oliver, ready to slap the snot out of him for treating her like a child. But after going all morning with only a few sips from Felicity’s cup, as sweet as she was for that, she looked at her mug longingly. Then the anger from everything would suddenly flare and the closest targets were her boyfriend and manager who just kept finding reason to antagonize her. “Decisions, decisions,” she mused.

“He’s just very excited that we call each other boy and girlfriend, he’s harmless.”

“I’m not-” Roy objected but decided to make himself scarce when Bella looked at him again.

“You have to calm down, Bella,” Oliver said as he caressed her back. “It won’t help your recovery if you make sudden movements.”

“I’ll kick both your asses later,” Bella muttered as she happily took a sip of her coffee.



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