Chapter 09: Join Us

~o.O.o~

He had not expected that question and he had to think for a while. He had thought that she’d ask him a completely different question, one he was willing to answer weird enough. Oliver wasn’t sure how to answer this question. “Well… uhm,” he smiled nervously. “My intentions… are making sure you won’t get hurt in anyway… uhm…” He scratched himself behind his head as he looked at her. “I like you… a lot… I’m just afraid that I’ll end up hurting you… and you don’t deserve that.”

Bella stared at him as her heart pounded in her chest at his admission. Raising her head, she kept her eyes on his as she slowly made her way around the counter as she took one step after another right up to him before taking a breath. “I don’t think that’s it really. I believe you’re afraid that it’s that I may get too close to you. That you’ll be the one getting hurt – again,” she said, her hand coming up carefully to rest over his heart as she knew of all the loss he had suffered from his family.

“Bella…” His mouth was dry and his heart was racing. She was so damned close now and to feel the warmth of her hand through her shirt muddled his mind, making it even more difficult to think straight as he had to squeeze his eyes tightly shut to shake his head clear. For two days he had invaded her personal space, keeping the sense of control he needed, but in two seconds, Bella Swan managed to turn that around on him and he couldn’t help but feel trapped. It didn’t help much that she kept looking up at him and licked her lips as she did, she had to know exactly what she was doing and that was frustrating.

“Oliver,” she repeated his name back, song-like, with a smile on those lips. Releasing a sigh, her hand begun to slip down from his body, almost disappointed. “If this isn’t what you wanted, then just say so. It’s like I’m getting mixed signals from you and I don’t know whether to run with them or to just be pissed off now. I thought I’d try here because I really hate to admit that I might like you too.”

He took a deep breath and realized they were in the same boat, sort to speak. Oliver placed a hand on her back to stop her from leaving his space and his eyes revealed a sparkle as he looked back at her. “I am sorry,” he apologized and silently cursed himself. Was he even ready for this or was he just hiding? “I do want this… you…”

He pushed Diggle’s nagging voice to the back of his head as it was telling him that she’d be an extra responsibility, a liability and a possible distraction when his head was needed somewhere else, but he was good at separating personal things from his duty.

Oliver moved his face closer to hers, moving in to kiss her, but a loud crack of thunder right at the kitchen window ruined the kiss but sent her flying straight into his arms, almost making him lose his balance and fall over with her but managed to stay on his feet. “It can’t hurt you while you’re inside.”

Bella knew with everything logical that he was right but her experience told her otherwise. Bullets and other inanimate weapons never harmed her, but the one incident in the forest taught her that she was still very much capable of dying early. “As much as I love your childhood home Ollie, I don’t know if I want to stay here right now. Can we please go out? For a little while at least?”

His heart melted, she had called him Ollie for the first time. “Sure, where would you like to go? I’m not really dressed to go to some place fancy right now unless we swing by my place first.”

“Wherever. I don’t mind,” she replied as she shifted enough where her nose skimmed his neck and inhaled his scent sharply.

“Then let’s go to the club and get wasted.”

“Sounds like a plan then. Let me get changed then,” she smiled as she started to pulled back.

“Hey, nothing to overdress me in my jeans and plain shirt, okay?” he grinned.

Nodding, Bella had to laugh a little. “Alright. I promise not to overdo it. Shame though because I had a dress that I bought awhile back that I never wore that I’d been hoping to use for the club one night soon,” she pouted playfully as she took a reluctant step away from him. “Uh, just come up if you think that I might be…” she paused with difficulty as she glanced towards the nearby window with agitation and pointed. “Needing you?”

“I will,” he said with a nod. “But I doubt you’ll need me, you can do this.” The weather had died down a bit, probably because they were openly in the kitchen and Peter could see that she wasn’t that fazed anymore, but her bedroom was on the other side of the house. He might might pull out his bow and shoot a few arrows out of the window but he didn’t know how fast she’d be and he’d only reveal himself to Peter. No, that wasn’t a good idea. “I’ll put the dishes in the dishwasher.”

Oliver was proud of her when she had managed to change and come downstairs without needing him, even though there was some lightning going on and waited for her at the door with his duffel bag. “Wow, Bella. I think that even if you’re wearing a potato sack you’d overdress me.”

She looked down at her outfit with a frown before eyeing him. Bella wanted to be quick when she selected her attire and grabbed the first more basic ensemble she saw in the closet. “Is this too much? I’m sure I can find something else if you don’t mind waiting…”

“No, you look hot,” he smiled at her. Her jeans fitted tightly around her body and the jacket she was wearing was revealing some skin and he just knew that it was going to be really hard not to touch her. “Are you ready?” He knew that Peter was still out there, there were still occasional cracks of lightning and thunder, but Oliver’s car wasn’t that far away from the front door; in fact, it was right in front of hers, out of the door. “My car is right in front of yours and…” he pointed his car key to the window and unlocked the doors. “It’s open.”

Bella smiled as she took his hand and pulled him along with her to the car until they needed to part as she continued onto the passenger side and slid into the silver Mercedes. “Over the top Oliver. I would have pegged you for the motorcycle type actually.”

“I have a motorcycle,” he beamed as he got in behind the wheel after putting his duffel bag into the trunk, sending a text to Felicity that he was coming to Verdant with Bella and needed her to get the bag out of the car and downstairs. “I just didn’t fancy getting cold.”

“Well I might fancy a ride one day,” she smirked at him despite how she continuously fidgeted with the way the sky flickered.

“I’ll take you up on that,” he smiled as he closed the door and buckled up. He started the car and reversed so he could turn around and drive off the driveway. The further away they got from the mansion, the weaker the storm was and eventually no detectable bad weather. “I think you’re really brave for daring to leave the house with me.”

Bella felt herself relaxing more and settled into the seat as she turned to look at him. “You want to know something? I actually never felt better in spite of everything. It’s just crazy really.”

“Well, that’s a good thing, right?” He asked as he turned a corner.

“Yes, I suppose. What bothers me is that I don’t understand it. It feels – almost unnatural,” she hesitated as she thought about the feelings she had been experiencing since returning to Starling City. “But at the same time it’s completely natural and seems…I can’t describe it.”

“I have to admit,” he said with a nod. “I have felt something similar. It’s…unnerving.” He had his suspicions, it could have something to do with her gift as being a shield or something, but that was as far as his theory went. And he couldn’t tell her right now because The Arrow knew, Oliver had to play stupid, until she’d tell him that she knew about his secret.

Bella accepted his admission with a nod and was quiet while he drove for awhile. “We obviously agree that there is an attraction to one another, right?” she asked suddenly as she kept her eyes forward through the windshield.

“Yes.”

“What if we just not do anything specific and see how it goes? I mean, we both seem to be afraid of the risk of putting ourselves out there so we can just let whatever happens – happen…”

“You mean not trying to fight it?” Oliver quickly looked at her before looking back at the road.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Why not? As far as the newspapers are concerned, we’re already together. That’s one headache we wouldn’t have to worry about being leaked if we were to date. And I will admit to Laurel that she was right that you are different than what I may have assumed you to be…” she said, unable to say how much she did want to keep his company after only two days.

“You know that not only Laurel, but also Diggle, Felicity and Roy will laugh until they die, right?” Oliver stated with a smile as he nodded. “But okay, let’s not try to fight and ignore it and see where it goes?”

“That is what I suggested,” she said as she glanced back at him.

“Yes, I was repeating you so I can start to try to not to fight it and stuff,” he nodded as he parked his car in the parking lot next to Verdant.

“And stuff,” she repeated, pressing her lips closed as she smiled but from the corner of her eye, she noticed the sign of the club growing closer. “Hey look at that. We’re here.”

“And look at that, no storm either,” he grinned as he switched off the ignition of the car and unbuckled his seatbelt. He got out of the car and walked around it to help her out as well, which was met with a credulous look from Bella, but he didn’t care.

Quickly schooling her expression, she accepted his hand as she stepped out of the car. Her eyes darted around the area and let out a sigh. “My father is going to kill us after he reads the paper tomorrow,” she commented under her breath as he closed the door behind her, nodding slightly in the direction of a photographer.

“Between you and me, I think we can easily take him,” Oliver said with a nod as he locked the car and started to walk towards the entrance of the club with her, still holding her hand.

“You have met my father, right?” Bella scoffed as they made their way inside. “Because while he may not be in charge of my company, he still has quite a bit of pull over my staff and believe me when I say that a good number of them listen to me only because they respect him more.”

“Well then, I’ll just have to work harder to prove that I’m actually not such a bad guy,” he grinned to her before eyeing Roy across the venue. Oliver could see that Roy was already texting like mad. Oliver wondered what got him so excited.

Bella shook her head as she pulled him over to the bar in time for Chuck to have put his phone away and be waiting for them. “Cerveza por favor,” she grinned as she leaned on the counter.

Oliver saw the confused look on Roy’s face. “She means a beer, Roy,” he said with a nod as he sat down on one of the stools. “And give me one as well.”

Roy grabbed two beer bottles, set them on the counter and lifted the lids off them. “Can I get you anything else?”

“How did it go with the cameras?”

“Oh, great. They’re hanging and fully functional.”

Bella nodded approvingly. “I’ll come by during the week for a walk through and check out the feeds. Would you mind if I sent one of my techs to set up access so that I can check in if you’re not available?” she asked as she looked over at Oliver.

“No, of course not,” he smiled at her.

“Mr. Queen, I…” Roy started before Oliver motioned for him to shut his mouth. “I’ll be over here,” he said, pointing at the other end of the counter to help some more customers.

She eyed the boy’s retreating form as he walked away, before turning back to her – partner. She wasn’t sure what they were now that they agreed to try to see where their feelings would take them. “What was that about?” she asked curiously, but with some heat indicating that she wanted an answer.

“Proper training,” Oliver explained. “He knows that I don’t like giving other people what they want because of my fear of losing everything,” he said with a shrug. “But it’ll be okay.”

Bella looked at him searchingly, as if trying to see if he was being truthful with her but she wasn’t sure so she could only accept the answer he gave her with a nod. “Okay. So,” she started, dropping the topic as she leaned into him as her free hand slid over to his. “Care to dance?” she asked.

“Oh, I don’t dance,” Oliver answered, eyeing the dance floor skeptically as he took a sip of his beer. “I can do some ballroom stuff as it comes with the territory of being a Queen but I don’t dance.”

She didn’t care as she continued to pull him out onto the floor with a smirk. Resting her arms over his shoulders with her bottle in her hand, she began to move slowly to the beat of the current track that was playing, ignoring the crowd that was dancing more energetically. “It’s not so bad you know.”

He couldn’t believe she was making him dance. No doubt, Felicity and Diggle were laughing their assess off in the basement. He put his free hand on the small of Bella’s back and took another sip of his beer before it joined his hand on her back. “I’m not drunk enough for this,” he said softly in her ear.

“I didn’t ask you to sleep with me,” she grinned, her lips teasing against his neck as she replied. “Besides, if you want to get technical, we already have but we just haven’t had sex. Much too soon I think.”

“Yes, much too soon,” he echoed the sentiment with a smile. “I wouldn’t mind sleeping with you again, you know. You were gorgeous when you were asleep.” Oliver gently brushed a piece of exposed skin on the small of her back with one of his fingers.

His touch sent a shudder through her body that forced her closer to him physically, pressing herself against him as she sucked in a breath. Her arms tightened slightly as she shifted in his arms. “Well – if there’s ever a storm around, you know you’re always welcome,” she whispered her invitation.

“Or when you need someone to cook you a mediocre meal…” he brushed her ear with his lips.

Bella’s arms circled his neck and rested across the back of his shoulders as she leaned into him with the length of her body in reaction. “Your cooking is fine but I’m sure I can find a cooking class for you if you are absolutely insistent,” she grinned just as the tempo of the music changed, allowing her to move more sensually against him.

Oliver groaned, this was mean and he had himself to blame for daring to caress her exposed skin. Just as he wanted to say something, the crowd of people started to scream in fear. He quickly looked up and saw armed men walk into the club after seemingly quiet had rid themselves of the bouncers and security personnel at the door. The other security people started running towards the gunmen, weapons drawn.

He took hold of her hand and started to pull Bella towards the stairs. “Go to the office and lock yourself in, they won’t be able to see you there,” he said, urging her up the stairs.

Bella knew she couldn’t be harmed but she would do as she was told. Grabbing him by the arm before he ran off to help, she looked up at him. “You be careful,” she said with the same concern she expressed for her cousin the first night at the club. Once she was sure he understood that he was included in her group of family, she turned and was rushed upstairs by one of the security guards that was waiting for her.

Inside, Bella ran her hands through her hair after she locked the door and stood watch over the floor through the mirror. Much of the events she couldn’t believe she was witnessing but her eyes continuously searched for Oliver and only grew more concerned for him when she couldn’t find his face.

“Where’s Diggle?” Oliver demanded as he got into the basement without getting caught. He had heard one of the gunmen bark demands at Roy, and Roy, the good boy that he was, was stalling. Both Felicity and Laurel had their faces glued to the security screens.

“He’s out there,” Laurel replied and looked over her shoulder. So Ollie was really going to do this? Change into his suit while Bella was upstairs?

“Oliver, you have to hurry. One of them just started towards the stairs for the office.”

Grumbling, he got dressed in record time, grabbed his bow and arrows and headed out through the secret passage so he could get into Verdant from the front after carefully watching where the men were and how they were dressed; Oliver did not want civilian casualties. Dangling from the roof in front of the entrance, he managed to take one of them out with just a blow to the head.

Oliver knew that he could easily take every single gunman if needed, but the crowd made it slightly impossible for him to do it quickly. He let go of his rope and with a flip, landed on both his feet, standing in the middle of the doorway, bow drawn.

“Everybody get down!” Diggle yelled as he motioned for the partygoers to get to the floor, which, unfortunately, caused two armed men to subdue the security at the stairs and headed up. Oliver really hoped that Bella had locked the door, he doubted she could handle two of them at the same time, even though she was more than capable of taking care of herself.

When Oliver incapacitated the first gunman, the rest headed towards the stairs as well. FUCK. Granted, it was easier for him to take them down when they were all together, but it wasn’t like there was a lot of space there to make mistakes should he make one. He grabbed his trick arrow with the hook on it and shot it into the roof of Verdant, making the stairs obsolete. Since they hadn’t shot anybody yet, he was wondering if the guns were just props, but he really didn’t want to find out.

He landed on the landing next to the office and looked around the corner before getting a few arrows in. He dodge rolled to the other side of the landing to hide behind a filing cabinet that still had to be put in use after one of the still standing members shot at him. No props then, he thought, making a mental note. Then they started to shoot at the heavily fortified door of the office while another one made sure Oliver wasn’t going anywhere. Switching on his voice modifier, he yelled, “Stop now and you might leave here alive!” He reached for one of his flares and shot it in the air, knowing that it would land somewhere in front of the office. The flare was followed by a smoke grenade courtesy of Diggle, who had snuck up the stairs behind the gunmen and Oliver made his move now that they couldn’t see. He knocked a few of them over and slid into the office through the now busted door. He turned around to face the door with his bow drawn. “Are you alright, Miss Swan?”

Bella peeked up from under the desk at the Arrow as she surveyed the damage from her limited view point. “Just fine,” she waved him off as she made her way out as she let out a grunt when she pushed the desk chair aside. “See. No broken bones. Should have expected that you wouldn’t be far though.”

Oliver kept his eyes trained on the gap of the door, ready for the first idiot to come through – if they were idiots. Nothing really said that they were professionals, just some douchebags trying to score something. He didn’t have to wait long for the first one to come and shot off an arrow, but by the time that person went down, another one came in with a semi-automatic. SHIT, Oliver thought as he reached for one of his knives to throw at the guy first, but missed.

Bella saw the second gunman and knew that the automatic weapon he held would be overwhelm the Arrow without a problem. She made the only decision she could to save them both. As his suit was solid and she couldn’t find any area that she could make contact with exposed skin easily, she reached up without hesitation and pulled his hood back as the assailant raised his weapon. She didn’t look at her intended protector yet as her eyes were focused on their enemy as her hand slipped past the fabric of the hood to his face to meet his skin when they were showered by bullets that just pierced their clothes but not their skin.

He blinked at first, wanting to move away, but then realized that she could actually protect more than just herself. He took two of his arrows, lined them up perfectly and fired at the gunman, making him fall back upon impact while the gun still went off. Bella wasn’t going to be happy about the renovation costs and neither would he.

“All clear!” Diggle yelled. “Are you alright, Miss Swan?” He walked into the office and saw Oliver and Bella huddled together, with his hood down and her hand on his cheek. “Oh.”

Bella eyes had already moved to the Arrow when it ended and said nothing. She turned to look at the newcomer and narrowed her eyes. At the man’s lack of surprise, she knew that he was well aware of the dual identities. “I supposed we have some more talking to do?” she asked evenly as she pulled her hand away now that he didn’t need her kind of protection anymore.

“Oh, I can’t wait,” Diggle chuckled and then ducked away when Oliver shot him a look that could kill him.

Oliver sat down on the floor in the midst of the debris and crossed his legs over each other while looking at Bella with his arms held out and tried to grin in attempt to lighten the mood. “Surprise?”

She scowled at him as she kicked at a piece of a frame that had fallen from the gunfire. “You’ve known about my – ability – this whole time?” she asked as she glared at him, thinking about the things that they’ve talked about. “When you asked about my dress last night during the storm you already knew!”

“I did, but if I had said anything about it, you’d have asked questions that I really didn’t want to answer without revealing myself and well… hmm…” he fingered a hole in his pants. “Your ability is something you don’t really have to hide unless you’re in trouble. I can’t just go and say, ‘Hey, look at me, I shoot arrows into bad guys!'”

“You’re an ass! Of all the people who can keep a secret?! You should have understood then that I had a fucking doozy of one and I clearly was doing everything I could to make you think you believed you saw things differently as I’ve been doing with my father my entire life!” she shouted at him loud enough that Diggle heard it out on the stairs.

“That’s the whole point of having a secret identity, isn’t it?” Oliver said calmly and got to his feet as he walked to her and pulled her into his arms, even against her resistance until she went frigid as he held her. “I am sorry I lied to you, I really am, but you have to believe me that knowing my secret isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. You could get hurt even with your snazzy ability. Also, thank you for saving my ass.”

Bella froze at his touch, but only because she was still tense from the argument and wasn’t interested in being calmed down any time soon. She turned her head away from him but didn’t resist any more as he spoke.

“Dig,” Oliver called out. “Is everyone outside?”

“Yes, Oliver. If you want to go to the basement, you should go now. The police are likely to show up soon.”

Oliver picked up his bow and secured it to himself as he lifted Bella into his arms, knowing that she wouldn’t be as fast as he was. He walked out of the office with her and jumped down onto the bar from the landing, landing with ease on both feet without a wobble before walking her to a secure door. He punched in a code and opened the door before setting her down on the ground. “After you,” he said with an amused look on his face.

“This is something else to add to the list of things to discuss later,” she muttered to him as he held the door open for her. She glared at him as she walked into the area she hadn’t seen before, following the stairs down as she ran her hands over her arms from the draft in the surprisingly open area. “Secret lair Batman?”

Felicity ran towards the stairs. “Ollie, are you- ohhh… oh boy.”

“Back off Robin. You’re on my shit list too,” Bella snapped as she pointed at the girl until she returned to where she came from. She walked on casually as she looked around. “Impressive. So this is where you all have been hiding from me, hmm?”

“Yep,” Oliver said with a nod. “State of the art computers, the back up security feed goes here as well, Felicity is just great with computers and well, this is where I spend my time when I’m not at Queen Consolidated.” Oliver put his arrow back into its case and put his quiver down as well. He then sat down in a chair after pulling off his mask. “Everything I need to know about a person, she finds out.”

She gave the girl nearby a pointed look with a raised eyebrow. “Obviously. Clearly she didn’t find out enough about me to satisfy your curiosity as Oliver Queen that you had to come out as your alter ego. Did you get your rocks off enough?”

“Bella, you’re not being fair,” Laurel said as she made herpresence known. “He only went after you as the Arrow because you left this club unaccompanied and he was worried. Oliver Queen can’t fight. The Arrow can.”

“Harley! She arrives!” Bella cheered sarcastically. “I have taken care of myself since high school. And guess what? Bella Swan has taken care of herself since then too! And we’re still alive.”

“Yes, and Ollie didn’t know that, cut him some slack.” Laurel said as she crossed her arms over her chest. “And you! Why did you hide the fact that you’re bulletproof, huh?”

She held out her hands to her sides as she looked at her cousin. The woman just defended Oliver for keeping a secret identity for being the local super hero, but her having an actual superhuman ability and keeping that a secret was a no-no? “I forget sometimes that you’re not a bottled blonde and were actually born that way,” she said, forgiving her as she turned to look back at Oliver.

“Are you done?” Oliver raised an eyebrow to her.

“Oh far from it Handsome. I’m just beginning. Now I’m thinking that Batman here needs a new outfit considering that the one he’s wearing just got shot up,” she announced as she looked over at Felicity. “Hey Robin. I don’t know if you have those stocked in bulk order or you get them custom made but at the rate this idiot seems to be going, you might want to get on that.”

Oliver was amused by Bella’s reaction; she was angry, but she wasn’t pissed off, much. He was certain that she could do much worse. He got to his feet again and took Bella’s hand, pulling her with him towards a spot away from the girls and looked at her. “You’re so beautiful when you’re all fired up.”

Her face had been relatively neutral but it slowly turned into a scowl at his statement. As much as it thrilled her inside, the smile that came to her lips was anything but a pleasant one. Bella’s hand fisted just like it did at her house and pulled back before shooting out for a solid kidney shot to his abdomen. “Not while I’m still angry. Just be happy it’s not your pretty face,” she grinned as she walked away from his hunched form.

“Oof,” he said, doubling over, before turning around to get the boxing gloves out. “Bella, next time you want to hit me, use these. Much more fun,” he said, throwing one glove at her.

She caught it easily, swinging it around her finger by the velcro. “Are you suggesting I punch like a girl?” she baited him.

“I’m suggesting that you use me to get your frustrations out. And I don’t offer that to too many people,” he offered as Bella rolled her eyes at him because the more he opened his mouth since the office, she wanted to punch it to shut him up.

“Keep it up or I will really knock a tooth out of that dirty mouth of yours,” she sassed.

Diggle’s jaw was nearly on the floor from hearing what was being said just a few steps away from him and then looked at the two girls who were giggling like little school girls. Was this really Oliver Queen talking? What was this Bella doing to his friend?

“I’ll take it easy on you,” Oliver said as he walked over to her while unzipping his shirt, revealing his scarred and burned chest. “Easy target. Come on.”

Diggle winced. He was often told by women that Oliver had a great body. Was he really using it to distract a raging Isabella Swan?

Her attention was completely diverted then as she eyed his scars, frowning. Hesitating, Bella looked up at him concerned. “What do you really know about Lian Yu Oliver? I mean how much of the island’s history?”

“Most of it,” Oliver admitted. “It used to be a prison island for the Chinese government until it was found out and other groups started to use it as a base of operation, which we took down.”

“Before it was actually used as a prison island, generations before really. It was home to a tribe of people that were eventually forced off the island for that use. While they were a peaceful group they were also strong and powerful. They had medicines that were capable of healing the most sick,” she said as she gestured to the scar on his ribcage that would have been life threatening in most cases. “Granted, these were just histories and stories that I’ve read on a region that I visited once, but I can’t help but wonder…”

“Those herbs were all over the island, without them I would not have survived those five years. I even brought back some of them, just in case. Like, two years ago we had some trouble with a guy called Deadshot who uses projectiles coated in Curare, which is a poison, and the herbs cured it almost immediately.” Oliver explained. “It also helped against some guy’s lethal drugs, to get it out of the system.”

“Without those herbs, I wouldn’t have been here,” Diggle said as he walked down the stairs.

Bella let out a dramatic sigh. “And the family is complete with Alfred’s arrival.”

“If you want my personal opinion, ma’am,” John Diggle said in a faux-English accent, “I think that Batman and yourself, Batgirl, should get a room.”

“I don’t pay you for your opinions, thanks. Ask your boss there. I’m sure he won’t mind,” she smiled at him as she pulled herself up to sit on Oliver’s table beside his weapons as she picked up one of the arrows. “If you want to know the truth – we were having a similar conversation upstairs before all hell broke loose.”

“No way,” Felicity muttered, wide-eyed.

“Anyway,” Oliver said as he pulled off his shirt and got into his normal shirt. “If you want, we can help you figure out why you’re bulletproof and maybe, if you want, give you some training that not even your usual people can give you.”

Bella hesitated as she eyed him while she considered his offer. She wasn’t sure about it because she was too used to doing things on her own for so long. Just having so many people in one night learn about her freak abnormality made her uneasy and the idea of the survivalist training that he would be giving her might not be enough to sway her. “I don’t know…”

Laurel walked up to Bella and smiled at her. “See, he offers you training, he didn’t offer me that!”

“You’re a lawyer, Laurel.” Oliver rolled his eyes at her. “And you don’t like it when your nails get torn.”

Laurel stuck out her tongue to him. “You can handle yourself, Bella, and you can hold your own against the testosterone around here, seriously. These guys are awful.”

“I wouldn’t mind to have another girl here,” Felicity spoke up. “I mean, you’re awesome, kickass and I bet you like to have girly nights too. Like the spa and stuff. We could definitely use more girls.”

Bella immediately frowned at the girl, contemplating the many ways to torture her for her suggestion. While she welcomed a day at the spa every now and then, and even dressing up for a night on the town, she still preferred to just be in her sweats with a good movie for an evening on the couch. She didn’t even realize that she had started to growl at the thought of being subjugated to frilly nonsense and girly chatter.

“She’s harmless, I swear,” Oliver grinned at Bella. “Just very enthusiastic.”

She eyes darted over at him and shrugged. “I’ll think about it,” she mumbled as she suppressed a yawn. “Just keep Girl-Wonder away from me when she’s in Mary Poppins mode.”

Oliver got back into his jeans and looked into the closet for some clothes for Bella to wear but couldn’t find any, apart from one of his shirts. Grabbing one, he handed it off to her with an apologetic smile. “So, I was thinking to take you back to my place for the night. It’s closer and I’ll explain why the Arrow was at your property before I actually rang the doorbell.”

Pulling his shirt on over hers, Bella eyed him but didn’t comment on his request other than nod her acceptance. She glanced back at the others as they seemed to be focused on some other task almost too conveniently at the moment and huffed as she pulled Oliver toward the door, “Subtle people. We’re leaving now. Go on. Talk about us. And no, we’re not going to have sex!”

Oliver steered her towards the other door that lead to the back of Verdant where the parking lot was. “There are cops upstairs, I don’t want to explain why we were in the basement.”

She looked down at their messed up clothes. “Tell them we were having sex,” she said simply, with a duh expression. “The press is already thinking it.”

“Sex while there’s a shootout upstairs? Right… that’s very believeable.” Oliver snorted as he opened the door for her.

“Eh,” Bella shrugged. “Next time.”