Chapter 14: Blind Spot

~o.O.o~

The morning after their impromptu slumber party, Bella had Derek come to the house where she had informed him of her future plans with the company. She also had informed him of her desire for him to take over as the head of the Starling City branch, a position she had begun to groom him for over the previous year, only she hadn’t known for what location at the time. When she continued on in detail with what else would be coming, there were objections met by both the new CEO of Swan Security, Charlie, and Derek Allen, but she remained firm in how she wished to proceed.

Oliver had remained with her in support, though it had been clear that Bella’s replacement wasn’t particularly fond of the man. She simply ignored the testosterone charged atmosphere as she spoke with the company’s lawyer over the phone about drawing up the necessary documents to have ready by the time they would submit their press release.

Of course, everyone knew that the media vultures would be scouring the city, trying to find her because they had let it leak that she was leaving the hospital and there were several photographers outside the exit where Oliver and Diggle were attempting to shield Bella as they were trying to get her into an awaiting car. While it had all been a part of the plan, it was still tiring. Oliver answered a few questions which had been anticipated, skillfully directing any others to Swan Security and would be responded to when she was ready before he slipped into the backseat with her where she had been carefully hiding her face and the smile that she shouldn’t be showing.

The team waited nearly a week before agreeing that it was time to make the announcement. Bella had Charlie issue the press release, allowing her to step down and as he took over her role. She couldn’t help but feel guilty for the extra work that he would be responsible for but he assured her repeatedly that he was more than willing to do it. It didn’t help ease the guilt and she was always grateful that Diggle happened to be nearby if Oliver was somewhere that he hadn’t need to worry about him that he pulled her off for some training to distract her.

It didn’t concern her that a couple of the papers had gotten some shots of her working out with the man. The best was that particular morning when he picked her up to take to the club for some work on some of the equipment they used so that she might get familiar with it while Oliver wasn’t around and stopped for coffee on the way. She picked up the newest tabloid that displayed an awkward picture of Diggle helping her stretch out a cramp when they were in the park two days before with the article hinting that they might be having some sort of secret romance underneath Oliver’s nose.

Bella could not hold back the snort as she read the paper with interest, even going as far as adding it to their order of coffees when they went to pay. “You so have to read that in the car,” she said in response to his curious expression, struggling to contain her laughter.

~o.O.o~

It had been sheer luck that he had been able to retain Queen Consolidated with help from Walter Steele and Oliver’s own share of his mother’s estate. Initially, he didn’t want to use it and just leave the company as is, but he realized that he needed the money to fund his hobby. Walter was always there when he needed him and Oliver felt bad that he had treated him harshly in the past, especially after Oliver returned from the Island.

But even so, with all the money injected into the firm, it was still teetering on the edge of falling apart. Too much bad press, too many companies and shareholders wanting to get out of their contracts with QC because of the bad reputation, and it was simply frustrating. Even after a couple of months, the company was still hemorrhaging money left and right and he didn’t know what to do about it. He certainly didn’t want to fire anyone because he didn’t want those people to be unemployed.

As he had told Walter a few years back; he didn’t arrive back from the island after five years with an MBA. Oliver wasn’t equipped to lead a company, it was his fault in the first place that Isabel Rochev had been able to take it fully – even though she had been running it for years – because he made a bad decision.

Oliver was good at making those.

He wasn’t sure if Felicity was aware of the state of the company, she probably was and kept her mouth wisely shut. He loved her for her seemingly endless loyalty and her bubbly personality. He had been wise to make her his assistant, if only out of convenience at first, but she was good at sorting through his emails and get rid of the confusing nonsense of people asking things.

In the two weeks, Oliver had had meetings with Walter, asking him for advice, maybe to have someone Walter trusted work for QC and turn the negativity into something better. Make the right decisions. Make money. Oliver had to admit that teaming up with Bella for Verdant had been a good idea and people were starting to get interested in QC again but it was still a struggle and Oliver didn’t have the right people surrounding him at work to deal with it all.

And Walter had come through within a matter of days, by the end of the week, Oliver had a team working for him to improve the company’s business. The deal was pretty sweet too; if the company didn’t make money in the next three months, he didn’t have to pay them. They projected that within the year, he could afford paying off the loan to Walter and Starling City’s National Bank.

The only condition Oliver had about them working for him was that new acquirements to the firm would be first vetted by him; he didn’t know anything about running a business but from now on, QC was going to be used for good, for the improvement of Starling City by helping out the middle class and poor communities. New personnel was going to have to be looked for in those layers of society as well, the background checks had to be thorough and of course, tested for drugs. QC was going to turn over a new leaf, just like the Arrow had been doing.

He had gone out during the day a few times to help out with the police and at night he sometimes was picking up drug dealers and delivering them to the station. He’d rather go after Peter Warren, but it had seemed like he had vanished, no money trail, no credit card action, nothing. Oliver knew that he’d surface soon enough, or maybe not, since seemingly, he got what he was hired to do; getting Bella off balance. He still wanted to catch him though, the guy could validate that Carlisle Cullen had hired him. Then he’d allow Bella to make a few bruises on Peter and then the Arrow would drop him off at the police station with a bow wrapped around him.

“I think you did a good thing, Oliver,” Felicity said as she walked into the office with his coffee and the newspaper. “Asking Walter for help.”

“It’ll be our secret,” Oliver said as he looked at Felicity. “I don’t want them to know.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” Felicity smiled and set his coffee on his desk. “You should read the paper, there’s quite an interesting article in it.”

Oliver opened the newspaper until Felicity pointed out the article. Recently stepped down CEO of Swan Security cheating on Oliver Queen? Oliver snickered and shook his head. If anything, he’d be the one to cheat, not her, given his track record – not that he wanted to – and she’d have his balls for it. “Interesting picture, she must have had a terrible cramp there.”

“The angle is also quite flattering.”

“Oh, quite,” Oliver mused as he took a sip of his coffee. “I need to start planning a date with Bella tonight, care to help me?”

“YES!” Felicity said as she retrieved her laptop from her desk outside Oliver’s office and sat down in a chair opposite of him. “Alright, tell me your ideas and I’ll see if they’re… good ones.”

~o.O.o~

Downstairs at Verdant, Bella had been drenched in sweat as she was going through one of the routines that Diggle had her running that afternoon. She had tended to be more focused on their workouts when there wasn’t anyone else around, or at least when the other girls weren’t there. Often she wondered why their presence bothered her, but she tended to push it off as unimportant as something else came up and other matters took precedence.

Suddenly, the theme music from an old cartoon from the 80s rang from her phone making her grin through her exercise. “Mind answering that for me Alfred? It should be Chuck,” she called out.

Captain Planet, seriously?” Diggle chuckled as he walked to Bella’s phone and put it on speaker. “Mr. Harper,” he greeted the kid.

Hey Diggle. I take it Miss Swan is still busy?” Roy replied over the phone, but all the two were able to get was a grunt from the woman as she tried working her way through another obstacle. “Nevermind. There’s a delivery upstairs here for her and – well, they will only allow her to sign off for whatever it is.”

She jumped down from the bars she’d been hanging from, unable to pull herself up for anymore. “Great timing,” she huffed. “Give me five minutes and I’ll be right up. I wasn’t expecting them for another two days but this will do.”

Bella didn’t even bother with changing as she just simply wiped away the sweat and made herself as presentable as she could because it was going to be another workout to get the items moved. “Come on Muscles. You’re helping,” she said as she waved him to follow.

He had to admit, in the past two weeks, Diggle had spent a lot of time with Bella – probably even more than Oliver had, which was a bit weird to realize – and she moved in mysterious ways. She had her little secrets and a lot of tricks upon her sleeve. He had come to appreciate her feistiness and her inability to give up. Oliver was one lucky man.

Upstairs at the back door, Bella eyed the area carefully as she took the clipboard from the usual delivery drivers from her company. “Thanks Steve. I appreciate this,” she said.

“No problem. Anything else you need, just let me know. If I hear of any other toys available, you’ll be the first to know,” he winked as he began unloading the truck and setting them inside the door and out of sight from anyone that may be passing on the street.

“You’re not going to tell Derek or my father?” she clarified.

“Nah. I’ve always worked for you Miss Swan so anything you need, just give me a hollar. You know how I am,” he said with a look that had her rolling her eyes as she shoved him back towards the truck after he unloaded the last case.

“I’ll be in touch. I may need you to take a trip for me to China – I don’t know yet. Same area where we were a few years ago,” she said, making him nod without a word. He left without any further scene and she turned back to the two, snapping her fingers. “What are you two standing there for? Let’s start getting these downstairs so that Diggle can get his excitement out of his system before Bruce gets back to the Batcave.”

Once they had all the boxes downstairs, Bella started to open them one by one and Diggle could not believe his eyes as he looked at the top of the line and very expensive weapons. “Oliver is going to flip his lid but wow.” He picked up one of the sniper rifles and looked at Bella. “You know how to handle these? I’m impressed!”

“If I’m not going to be able to be in all the action, I’m going to want to do something. I’m betting that there had been more than a few close calls. I know he doesn’t care for firearms, but you don’t have to kill people with these either. I could use the target practice by taking out a few kneecaps,” she smiled sweetly as she pulled one of her favorites out and expertly took it apart. “And the best part is, we have silencers for every piece here so he can’t bitch about the noise factor.”

Diggle let out a heartwarming laugh. Oh yes, this girl had Oliver all figured out.

“Wow, can I use these too?” Roy said in awe.

“No,” Diggle said, looking at the kid. “You’re not going to touch a firearm, ever. Maybe when you’ve grown up a little.”

“Dude, I’m 23 years old.”

“Dude, you’re still a kid.” Diggle said, repeating the same intonation as Roy had used.

Bella smiled up at him and winked. “Give it time. Believe me it took awhile for me to convince even my father to let me participate in the training. I’ll be happy to start with some handguns and rifles with you first later but seriously these things are going to be off limits for awhile,” she replied as she looked over the collection. “Its how we all learn and respect the dangers these types of weapons bring.”

Roy then smirked. “I can’t wait to see you getting frustrated when Oliver decides to teach you how to use a bow and arrow. He had me slap a bowl of water for hours and I couldn’t stop.”

The smile that was on her face slowly fell as she looked up at him. “He did what?” she asked, a familiarity hitting her with the image of a person performing such a move in her mind.

“He had me standing at that table,” Roy said, pointing, “And a huge bowl of water and I had to slap it. To-”

“To build muscle strength for pulling the bow back and the patience for using a bow with it,” she stated, her eyes darting around nervously.

“Aw man, don’t tell me you’ve already done that somewhere during your ninja training.”

She shook her head and said nothing as she started to put away the rifle she had in her hands before she might drop it. The theory that Oliver had shared with her about her heritage seemed to be proving more true as that wasn’t something that she had read about, it was just some knowledge that seemed ingrained in her. “Anyone know what the plan is for tonight?” she asked, overly eager to change the subject as she snapped the case shut, the sound echoing in the room.

“Nope,” Both Diggle and Roy chorused and Roy quickly excused himself to see if he needed to do something upstairs.

“Oliver believes I may be related to the people who once lived on the island he was on generations ago,” she whispered to Diggle once Roy was gone, as she went on inspecting each case to make sure everything was present and account for.

“How so?” Diggle knew that Felicity was still running a deep analysis on Bella’s DNA to see what else she could find. But Oliver was usually right in cases like these. For some reason he couldn’t quite explain.

Shrugging, Bella opened a case that had a number of grenades. “Fucking Steve,” she muttered. “Um, he had injured his back the night of that sleepover outside and I had some ointment that I made from herbs that a shaman in China had given me when I was there. Oliver said that he might have sensed that I was family or something, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve always known I’d been adopted but it wasn’t any big deal. Now with this metagene business… I can’t help but feel like it’s a strange coincidence that my blood relatives and Oliver were on that island.”

“Well,” Diggle said as he leaned against the desk and folded his hands in his lap. “I don’t really believe in fate or spiritual stuff, it’s all too… floaty to me but in the past few years I’ve seen some extraordinary things happen. What I know are facts; the Queen’s Gambit, the boat Oliver and his father were on was sabotaged by Moira and Malcolm Merlyn. Now, it could be a coincidence that they were travelling in that region but you’re suggesting that something maybe ensured that the Queen’s Gambit’s captain took them there because they knew that the boat was sabotaged and knew that Oliver would survive on that island? Sounds a bit… iffy, don’t you think?”

“No. I was in China during the time when Oliver was already on Lian Yu, but I know the history of that place. When he mentioned it, I just – knew. I mean I’ve read some about the local culture before I went there, but I’ve never been to that island. I probably know more about it than the average layman though, for not having lived there. At least before it turned into the hell that my – that Oliver experienced.”

“Why were you so interested in the island to read up on it?” Diggle asked curiously. “I mean, to the public, it was nothing more than an open prison, isolated by the sea surrounding it. They didn’t even know Oliver was still alive.”

“Curiosity never killed a cat, you know that?” Bella smiled at Diggle. “There were rumours about an island off the coast of China, it wasn’t a fact, they were simply rumours and I like rumours, as they often contain the truth. Granted, it wasn’t easy with getting the information that I wanted – when the Chinese government want something buried, they go to extreme lengths, but so do I to get what I want.” She closed another crate and looked at him. “The more I learned, the more I felt a certain pull towards it, it’s hard to explain, really. Or maybe it isn’t. You’ve heard my father, Oliver and I were close when we were children.”

“Spiritual mumbo-jumbo?”

“Maybe,” Bella said with a grin on her face.

“Maybe, you’re trying hard to explain something that’s not really there. That it really is just a coincidence.”

She nodded slowly. “It probably is but the girl in me likes to wonder too. Don’t tell him that. I’m full of contradictions.”

“Speaking of the girl inside you, Oliver just sent me a text to tell you to dress up.”

Looking up at him, she raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “What the hell for?” she asked. “We have training to do.”

“I don’t know,” Diggle said with a shrug. “All I know is that Laurel is coming to pick you up soon for a spa afternoon.”

Bella groaned in protest as her head fell back to her shoulders. “I fucking hate the spa,” she moaned. “If she’s involved in whatever Oliver has planned, is going to be a long and painful day. I’d rather be here letting Sara yank out my teeth. This better fucking be worth it.”

He grinned as he pointed to the boxes. “I shall ask Roy to push them to the side. I will be escorting you and Laurel today.”

“Great! You know what that means, right?” Bella asked with a devilish smirk.

“Yes, that I don’t have to accompany you to every room,” Diggle nodded. “Just have to make sure no member of the press follows you in.”

“Nope. You’ll be there for parts, absolutely. I’m even paying,” she said innocently as she headed for the shower, ignoring the groan of realization that came from the man.

She’s making me participate. Diggle texted his friend. You’re not going to survive this, Oliver.

Cheer up, have a mani and pedi.

This better be worth it.

For her, yes.

She’s planning something to do with China. Bella has some strange fascination about that island. You should know.

Not happy but expected. Everyone wants to know where they come from eventually.

She also bought us some new toys. I have to say she is a lot like you.

She needs to save her money, we’ve got enough toys.

Not like these.

You’re impressed then?

Very.

Fine. New toys. Will have to check them out when I get to Verdant in about an hour. Have to go, being scolded at for texting in a meeting.

Diggle relaxed in his chair and waited for Bella to be done and Laurel to arrive. This was going to be a long afternoon.

~o.O.o~

He had humoured the ladies by going with them and he was going to kill Oliver later, if Bella didn’t get to him first. Diggle was now driving Bella and Laurel to the mansion for Bella to get changed in something fancy. “You did have a good time, admit it. Oliver won’t have to know,” Laurel snorted – she maybe had had too much champagne.

Bella glared at her cousin, barely able to mask her disdain for the whole event. “Tell me what that boy has planned,” she said. “I know you know. Maybe then I’ll consider if that whole experience, Alfred aside, was worth it.”

“I honestly don’t know,” Laurel said, shaking her head. “I haven’t seen Ollie all day, he’s been busy at the firm and I honestly don’t know what’s going on apart from him thinking you needed a friend during your spa treatment,” she beamed.

“More like someone to suffer with me,” she retorted. “Fine. At least text the fucker so that I know what kind of dress I’m wearing. I don’t know what level of fancy he expected when he made these plans and men don’t know shit about fashion.”

She wants to know what kind of dress. How fancy? Where are you GOING?!

Nothing too fancy, but you know, kinda like the dress she wore on opening night. Not saying anything. You’ll spoil the surprise.

Laurel relayed the message to Bella. “What is he up to? I’m curious now,” she grinned.

“Is he thinking with his dick? That dress screamed sex. Fine. I have a red one that will have him on his knees before dessert,” she sighed, but had a small smile on her lips.

Oh, and we’re staying at my place tonight, have her pack an overnight bag.

“Well, he’s definitely up to something alright. You need to bring a change of clothes because you’re not going home tonight but you’re staying with him.”

“Definitely with his dick. Fine. I’ll play along,” Bella said as she considered sending him some racy photos of her changing but decided against it. “If the evening gets interrupted, again, someone is bound to pay with their life.”

“Ohhh, someone wants sexy times,” Laurel chuckled. “It’s weird, actually. Oliver’s not the best with romantic things…”

Diggle set his jaw as he focused on the road. He hated girl talk, and now, with three girls on the team, sometimes four, he was going to experience it more. He definitely needed to call some of his buddies for a manly night out. Paintball or something.

~o.O.o~

Oliver looked around in his apartment and smiled. Maybe it was completely over the top, but what would he know? He was not romantically inclined and Felicity had humored him. There were flowers everywhere – Felicity would all pack it up tomorrow and bring it over to Bella’s house – and there was some good wine, some snacks if she wanted… Felicity had scolded him when she inquired about his dress plans, so he was wearing his monkey suit and not just pants and a shirt.

He got into his car and started the the 20 mile journey to Bella’s home to pick her up for dinner. Oliver had arranged for a romantic dinner at Alfredo’s and it was up to Bella if they were going to the movies or home. To be completely honest, he’d rather go straight home and devour her but that would be rude.

As he got closer and closer to the house, he was starting to get nervous and scolded himself for it. Why was he nervous? It was Bella. And he was taking her on a date. A real date and not something convenient. He didn’t do dates. And now he did.

After parking the car in the driveway, he got out of it and lifted a bouquet of red roses off the back seat. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it properly. Taking a deep breath, he marched up to the door and rang the doorbell.

Diggle answered the door for Bella with a scowl on his face. His displeasure over the afternoon overshadowed his excitement from her additions to their arsenal and he made sure the man knew it. “I hate you. I hope she makes you suffer before you make it back to your place tonight.”

“Noted,” Oliver said with a smile on his face. “Had a good time then?” He laughed when Diggle took a swing at him but missed. “I promise, you won’t have to go through that again.”

He wasn’t sure if he could believe him because if he was anywhere near Bella and she had to go through that again, he was certain she would drag whoever she could with her kicking and screaming. “Right. She will be down in a minute. She actually just ran back up to get her bag that you decided to add on there.”

“That was an hour ago!” Oliver whined with a sigh as he leaned against the doorpost.

“Don’t do that,” Diggle said as he shook his head. “Not when you’re taking her out on an official date. You sure you want to do this? Because she may put on a damn good act, but that girl is looking forward to this.”

“Yes Dig, I want to do this,” Oliver replied as he straightened himself up. “I have absolutely no idea if it will work out the way I want it to or if she’s going to like it but I want to do this.”

Waiting for Bella to come down the stairs was agony but when she did, dressed up in that gorgeous red dress, Oliver nearly salivated. It was a figure hugging dress and it showed off all her curves in all the right places and she looked absolutely beautiful. “Wow,” he said after realizing that he hadn’t been breathing until he spoke.

“Oliver. I really want to know what the hell you are thinking because I was in the zone this afternoon with my workout,” she grinned as she handed him her overnight bag.

“Well, I was thinking that we both deserve a break,” he said with a nod and swapped her bag for the flowers. “Got you these. I wasn’t sure what kind of flowers you liked and I was told that roses are a safe way to go…”

Bella smiled as she took them, unsure what to say. “Um, thanks?” She said bewildered as she held the flowers as she hadn’t been given anything particularly romantic before like that. While the longest relationships she had really were with the likes of assholes who never considered such gestures, her other companions were only long enough to merely pass a lonely night with so flowers and candlelight dinners weren’t part of the brochure.

“Oh, you don’t like them, I’m sorry,” Oliver said as his face fell.

“No, no. I love them. It’s just, um, really stupid. I never got flowers before…” she admitted with her face reddening in slight embarrassment.

Diggle rubbed his face in second hand embarrassment. This was going to be a disaster and he was glad that he wasn’t going to be around to clean this one up, although he might follow just for the show. There was some sort of mating ritual going on, he was sure of it. He had seen how Oliver and Bella were around each other and there was something there alright.

Laurel had said to him earlier today that Oliver used to be a fine, you want to go out, let’s go out kind of guy, hardly romantic and incredibly selfish. The Oliver they were seeing now was trying to be romantic and not being selfish and it was just so cute. And really embarassing to watch seeing as Bella wasn’t any better at it.

“Oh, that’s good,” Oliver breathed a sigh of relief. “But isn’t that what you do on a date? Bring flowers?”

“Is that what tonight is? A date?” Bella questioned, her lips twitching as she resisted the urge to smile. “I thought you didn’t do dates.”

“I don’t, but we should. At least once, right?”

“So while we’re not dating, we’re going on a date just for the hell of it?” she asked curiously, amused at the faces Diggle was making behind him.

“Stop messing with my head and just come with me,” Oliver said, rolling his eyes, as he took her hand and started to pull her out of the house.

Bella handed off the bouquet to Diggle as she passed him, waving at an amused Laurel who had been watching from the nearby room. As the gentleman he was raised to be, he had held the door open for her as she slid into the passenger seat of his car and her eyes followed him as he made his way around until he was beside her. She couldn’t help but stare at him, curious as to the sudden change of mind for the decision that drove him to want to plan an actual date. As it is, she had found herself wondering what they were to one another randomly.

Since she had told everyone her decision that she was stepping down from Swan Security, it seemed as if fate had been playing a cruel game with finding ways to keep the two apart. While they were able to have periods where they were able to sit and talk, over lunch or a quick dinner before he left for his Arrow duties, something inevitably would happen when they would begin to become more intimate where he was called away or she had to respond to a phone call to help with a problem with the company that only she had dealt with previously.

She had experienced dry spells in the past and it never bothered her as much as the frustration she had begun to endure. It helped greatly that she was able to throw herself into the training regimen that Diggle set up for her, but on the particularly worse days, she needed more and she had him work her harder. Going home at night to pass out cold was the only way she would get any sleep if Oliver wasn’t able to come to the house since her father was back.

Still, whatever they were, it was possibly the closest thing she could classify as a relationship she had since the disasters that were named Edward and Aaron, but on the opposite spectrum. As she had proven to herself that she had a terrible taste in men, the tiny, insecure girl inside of her seemed to always be waiting for Oliver to do something to screw things up with her and allow the raging bitch that the public seemed to love to come out. That was probably the only reason why Bella resisted asking him about what he considered them to be, because if he considered them in a committed relationship, then that would give one another the keys to hurt the other. Without the label, there were no strings, and she would let him go if that was what he wanted.

Unfortunately for Bella, she found that she wanted to keep him. The thought alone made her sigh as she looked out the car window, feeling at odds with herself, waiting for him to lead her that night.

“I’m sorry we haven’t seen much of each other in the last week,” Oliver said as he turned the car onto the highway towards the city. “Today I finally felt that I could let go of it and organise this date,” he smiled at her before turning his eyes back onto the road. “You look absolutely beautiful.”

She returned his smile as she bit her lip. “Thank you. And you look devilishly handsome tonight. I am still just having a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around this whole – scenario,” she confessed, quickly rushing her words out as she looked at him. “I don’t understand where you see this going. I mean, I know where you plan on it going tonight, obviously. I do too. Hell, personally I’m at the point I’ll end up on a murderous rampage if we get interrupted again.”

Oliver snorted as he thought about her words. “I think you made it very clear last week that you claimed me,” he said carefully. He hadn’t minded when she did, her jealousy towards Sara was adorable, his non-interaction with Sara should have told her that he was only interested in Bella, Bella’s threat to have his balls… “Unless I am mistaken, you claimed me right that first day in my office.”

Bella eyed him as she thought back to the night at the club. “I don’t think I’m quite following you. What about that night at the club? And yes – I was feeling a little possessive when I saw Sara all over you. The bitch was whoring herself out like it was nothing, and it was obvious that you were uncomfortable with the attention! Are we going to give whatever this is a full go at it? Is that what you want?”

“Everyone saw it but us,” Oliver explained and then nodded. “Didn’t we agree to that as well?” He asked carefully, unsure of himself as maybe he had interpreted everything wrong.

She turned away, trying to look anywhere else but at him. “I don’t know what we agreed to because neither of us seemed to have been able to bring it up. I don’t know what to tell my dad when he keeps asking me what the hell you are to me. If you’re just my friend, boyfriend, fuck buddy – not that he’d use those words because he just about had a coronary trying to get the thought across. He’s curious to know and it’s not only him because he has to field questions from the media, which I’m sure your people are doing for you, about our relationship and they have to keep throwing out bullshit excuses. Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit but I just want to give them something to get them off our backs to leave us the fuck alone.”

She wanted to label them and normally it would have scared him shitless, because that was usually the point where he went wrong. He was Laurel’s boyfriend and yet took her sister on a boating trip and it went wrong. When he returned, he was with Laurel again and with Sara and… but he was with. There hadn’t been labels. If he had to be honest with himself, this whole dating idea was triggered by the picture of Bella and Diggle in the paper and what the media was writing. Normally, he wouldn’t care, and rationality told him that Diggle was happy with his ex-wife, his pregnant ex-wife, and that Bella wouldn’t go for another but still. He hadn’t liked the feeling at all. But he was also scared of labels. He didn’t know what she wanted exactly and didn’t want to scare her off either. “I uhh…” he scratched his head. “I’d very much would like to be yours. Your uhm… boyfriend.”

Bella looked back at him quickly, the surprise obvious on her face as she slowly nodded. “I’d like that too,” she said delicately. “This – is probably going to be a new experience for the both of us I believe…”

“The proper labels… scary,” he laughed nervously as he took the exit ramp towards Starling City.

“No shit. Considering my history of men, I don’t exactly have the best track record either,” she remarked as she sat back in her seat in her own state of shock.

“We can do this, Bella,” Oliver smiled at her. “You’re bulletproof and I’m the Arrow. We are fucking badass.”