05: Pieces of Us

It’d been several weeks that Bella and Connor moved to Starling City and she’d been pleased with the decision. The only thing truly plaguing her other than her concern over Oliver in the field was her father harassing them since he learned they left town so suddenly.

She had come to develop a fondness for Felicity, as Oliver predicted she would and enjoyed watching her working with her son. He was also calmer in ways because his work was on a level that he was getting material that he wasn’t receiving before but she could see that the girl was keeping something from her as she caught her watching him curiously at times.

Her temper wasn’t all that better but she was more controlled at avoiding lashing out to cause unintentional damage and offered numerous times to replace her friend’s television. She still hadn’t met the rest of his friends, mostly because she often grew emotional and unpredictable whenever the topic came up after she tried with an initial dinner to make peace and get to know Laurel and Quentin Lance that did not go smoothly, but was not a complete failure either. Instead, Bella decided she would wait to meet the rest of her boyfriend’s friends and colleagues in time, when she was ready, as she was still feeling very raw over the history coming back to life again.

Oliver was pleased to see how well Bella and Connor were settling in in Starling City and he tried to be over a lot, especially after Bella had found a house to live in. Not only to spend more time with them, but also with helping decorating the house. He had found some way of spending the night at her place combined with his Arrow duties by sneaking into the house – the well secured house, courtesy of Diggle – when he was done, even if it was right before everyone would wake up.

He decided now was a good time as any to start helping Bella to control herself better because he could tell that she was starting to feel guilty now that her ability was getting a bit unpredictable, even if it meant to be flung across the room himself. He had found a warehouse where she could destroy everything she liked if necessary and had brought over plenty of food and water for her to have incase she’d overdo herself again and fizzle out like a candle.

Oliver got off the bike and used his own key to open the front door. “Hello!” He knew that Felicity had taken Connor to the science museum and that Bella was home alone – it was safer to announce his presence than not. Walking through the house, he found her in her office, wearing headphones and she was furiously typing on the computer as she sang along to the song playing in her ears. He carefully approached her and waved his hand infront of her screen to get her attention. “Hi!”

Bella jumped and her shield pushed him back to the couch as she pulled her headphones off, turning to look at him in surprise. “Oliver? What the fuck are you doing sneaking up on me like that? You could end up through the wall!”

“I wasn’t sneaking up on you,” Oliver said as he took a deep breath as Bella had knocked the air out of him. “I said hello when I came inside and waved my hand in front of your screen. That’s no sneaking around. I mean… if I had been sneaking, I would have done it better.” He got to his feet and pointed to the couch. “And that, is exactly why you and I are going to have some fun today. What if I had been Connor?”

She pressed her lips together in a frown. “I wouldn’t… He is my son, I wouldn’t hurt him…”

“I know you wouldn’t intentionally, but are you certain of that?” He walked towards her and put his arms around her before he kissed her. “Come on, we’re going to have some fun. Seems like you’re in need of a pressure release.”

“I don’t know. First tell me if your genius plan,” she requested suspiciously.

“First, I’m going to make sure you’re aware of yourself… then make you really angry and then show you ways to calm yourself down and regain control.” He smirked at her. “Just some exercises to focus yourself.”

She looked at him warily, wondering just how he planned on this working but was finding herself nodding. “Okay, let’s go then. Is your friend Sonic in town to play victim?”

“Nope.” He took her hand and started to pull her out of her office. “I trust you not to kill me, grab your coat.”

“What? No! OLIVER!” She cried as she stumbled after him. “I can’t use you for practice! I don’t want you hurt! Are you insane? Call someone else!”

“No,” he smiled as he turned around to face her but continued to walk backwards. “There is no one else, just you and me and for you not wanting to hurt me is a good starting point.”

She whimpered but said nothing else the entire way to the location he had set up for them. Looking around nervously once they arrived, she grew more apprehensive. “I don’t know Oliver about using you,” she said as she looked at the weapons scattered around. “I’m not entirely comfortable with this.”

“You’re not going to hurt me,” Oliver said as he stood behind her and put his arms around her before resting his chin on her shoulder. “You’re in control of your ability when you’re in a neutral mood or when you feel loved. We’re going to work on controlling your anger first because that’s the most powerful emotion that could set you off in a blinding rage, as was evident with Jacob. And once you’re in control of that, eventually, you’ll find it so much easier to be able to control your ability when you’re stressed… Or anxious… Or whatever you may feel at that point.” He started to kiss her neck. “If I’d ask you to move those crates right now, you’d have no problem to keep them in one piece, wouldn’t you?”

She shook her head in response as she leaned against him as some sort of security blanket because she was seriously considering if Oliver had lost his mind. She had the ability to seriously hurt him and she would never forgive herself if he ended up hurt because of her.

“I’m going to teach you one of the ways I deal with my own anger and you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t involve any kind of weaponry or ability and that it won’t hurt.”

“How?”

“By paying attention to what is setting off your anger and we’re going to acknowledge the pain, because that is what anger basically is; pain. The point of anger is to defend you from the pain you’re experiencing. Manage the pain, you can manage the anger.”

“Does it work?”

“Yeah,” Oliver nuzzled her earlobe. “Although I usually forget to take a deep breath and stay calm, but this will be a good start for you. To identify the pain and start the healing process or learn to handle it without getting so angry that you blackout again.”

They were still standing upright and even though Bella loved Oliver’s attempt of trying to get her to relax, she couldn’t help but feeling panicked. “What do you want me to do?”

“Tell me just one thing what makes you angry, describe it for me, tell me what you feel. Don’t worry if you get worked up about it. You’re safe and you’re not going to hurt me.”

She closed her eyes as she tried to think about all the times she actually recalled getting angry. It wasn’t often as she generally was one to be level headed. Sighing, she ran her hand over his arm as he held her and her fingers sought his. Turning her face to his, she whispered, “Connor. All the threats of people wanting to try to take him away from me.”

“Tell me how that feels,” he replied as he rubbed her hand with his thumb. “Do you get a knot in your stomach or for some reason your body feels on fire or…”

“I’m…just pissed off when people try throwing empty threats. I’m a good mother, what right do they have to claim otherwise?” she questioned, looking at him. “Your mother, my father, Jacob. They’re all – – – – – ”

“Nope.” Oliver shook his head. “That’s on the surface. The last time I got really angry was because I felt hurt and upset, there was this fire inside of me, making my blood boil and I felt disappointed in myself, mostly. I felt the need to hit someone or something. So I did. Usually, I manage to control myself to close my eyes for a second or two and take a deep breath to acknowledge that I’m angry and that it’s useless to lash out. That took me a while to learn, to be honest.” He smiled at her. “I know why you get angry, I get it. I want you to tell me how it makes you feel when you get angry.”

She looked at him stupidly. “I don’t know. Angry? I don’t know Oliver. I get pissed, like anyone else. I don’t bother to stop and catalogue every detail of it when I’m busy bitching about who or whatever set me off.”

He sighed, realizing that this wasn’t going anywhere. “Alright, different approach,” he said as he let go of her and took a few steps back. “I’m going to make you angry and you’re not going to hurt me. If you think that your ability needs a discharge, hit those crates instead.”

“You’re really insane, aren’t you?!” she asked, looking panicked and growing irritated now by his insistence. “Oliver…”

“Annoying, isn’t it? Me trusting you not to hurt me… what are you afraid of? That you actually will when you don’t want to?” He said with a smug smile on his face as he continued to walk backwards, away from her. “Felicity let it slip that you broke her TV, not how, of course. Laurel immediately jumped to the conclusion that you’re a violent person and a liar and she wanted to take action.” He, of course, left out the detail that he defended Bella and Connor because nothing was wrong and he was always going to do so. She didn’t have to be afraid that someone might take Connor away from her.

“Well that explains her attitude and interest in our son at that farce of a dinner her father insisted on,” she answered as she recalled the tense evening. “And how do you plan on getting me pissed off at you? To that level?”

“You don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to Laurel though,” he said after a moment, realizing that simply telling her things wouldn’t set her off, she needed to be provoked and as long as she trusted him, she wasn’t going to take him seriously. “Yeah, you’re right,” he said as he sat down next to the box of food and water and started to eat a sandwich. “What was I thinking anyway, I’m not the right person to help you.”

Bella stared at him, her mouth open is shock as he’d been so fixated on working on her abilities. She gaped for a moment before finding her words. “So what? You’re going to bail on me?”

“No,” Oliver shook his head. “Not if you don’t want me to. I know of another way but it’s a less refined way. It does get results, though. If you’re willing.”

She eyed him unsure even more now. Sighing, she moved closer to him. “I’m going to really hate you by the end of this, aren’t I?”

“Maybe,” he said with a shrug as he handed her a sandwich. “As long as you remember that I’m trying to help you.”

Bella took the sandwich he handed her but didn’t eat it as she looked around again. “Alright fine , but why you? Why are you so insistent that you play this role because if I do end up hurting you and it be worse than what you said I did to Jake then I couldn’t forgive myself. I’d rather it be on some – some bad guy that deserves a good slapping around or worse. ”

“I know, but you know… if you lose control like you did with Jake again, you could seriously hurt me or someone else. The only reason why it didn’t happen with Jake was because Barry took everyone away and I let you play with Jake for a while because he deserved it for what he did to you. I like to keep my bad guys alive if I can help it.”

She let out an irritated sigh again and gestured for him to continue. “Fine, go on. Let’s get this over with. I just want to go on record that you are aware how much I don’t like this and if anything happens – it’s your fault,” she said as she pulled her hair up in a ponytail and glared at him. “Asshole.”

He jumped to his feet and walked over to the rattan sticks. He picked his own set off the floor and threw the other two her way. “It’s my fault if something happens,” he confirmed and then smiled. “The idea is to hit me, or try to hit me, with the sticks and not your ability.”

Taking the sticks, Bella held them as she looked them over. “Okay…” she said slowly, turning her attention to him, moving to the open floor and looked him over for the best area to strike. Well aware that he was a skilled fighter where she was not was clear to her so she was still very much skeptical. “You do know I’m not athletically inclined like you are so this is an uneven challenge.”

“I’m not going all hardass on you, don’t worry, I’m well aware that this is very new to you,” he said calmly as he saw her look. “Try to go for the torso, it’s the largest body mass. No other rules, no me telling you how to hold the sticks or how to strike. I just want you to get a feel for it and let yourself go if you want to.”

Her hands tightened around the sticks and moved closer, her face showing reluctance but also determination as she raised her arm with a nod and went to swing. Her eyes squeezed shut just before she would have struck him and gritted her teeth as she let out a squeak.

He took one step to the side and stuck out his leg to make her trip. “Eyes closed, huh?” He snorted. “How on Earth will you hit me when you can’t see me?”

Standing back up she brushed herself off and glared at him. “I don’t want to watch you get hit either!” she exclaimed, grimacing. Mirroring his movement, she set herself up for the next set. “You can’t blame me for that.”

“Bella, I’m used to this, the whole reason why I want you to do this with me is because of that,” he stretched out his left arm and nudged her in her side with his stick. “I’m your training dummy.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” she muttered, rotating the stick as she took a deep breath. “Okay…” Bella struggled with herself for the first couple attempts before she went to strike again, this time, managing to keep her eyes open, aiming for body over his arms.

“See? Not that hard,” Oliver encouraged her. “Again.”

Blinking, she nodded and set herself up to continue, striking in the same area. “I could do this at the gym you know,” she pointed out. “I believe they have equipment just for this.”

“I know, but this is safer,” he said as he deflected her next blow.

His comment annoyed her because it made no sense. Shaking her head she just looked at him in disbelief. “How is this safer?” she questioned as she swung to hit him, with a bit more force than before because of her aggravation. “That’s stationary and doesn’t talk back.”

Oliver casually shrugged. “It just is.” He took both sticks in one hand and rubbed the place where she had hit him. “Awesome, now we’re getting somewhere,” he said with a big smile on his face. “Again.”

“What?” Bella asked, holding her sticks up. Quickly realizing what just happened, she let out a low groan as she shifted in place. Breathing deeply, she kept her eyes on him as she moved into position. “You’re an asshole,” she whispered.

“Sorry, what?” He said as he started to circle her. “Did you say something?”

“You heard me,” she grunted as she swung hard.

“No, sorry, I did not,” he said as he deflected her swing. “Can you repeat that for me please?”

Rolling her eyes, Bella snorted. “I know you aren’t hard of hearing Oliver.” She looked him over with a critical eye and dropped her arms. Reaching out to push his stick aside, she raised her head to look up at him, a smile slowly forming on her lips. “It’s alright. Listening was never your best quality.”

Oliver smirked proudly at her before placing a chaste kiss on her lips before he used his sticks to nudge behind her knees so she’d fall. “Say it again,” he grinned.

As she stumbled forward into him, she swung her arms out almost instinctively and struck him in the hip as she went to her knee. “Say what?”

“What you whispered,” he said as he sat down on his knees and looked at her. “This is cozy.”

Bella looked around as they knelt beside one another in the warehouse and nodded in agreement. “Yep. Maybe we should have considered buying this place instead of the house,” she joked and looked over at him more seriously. “Oliver – this little activity only just made me annoyed with you for a short time and now what irritation I had with your goading already passed.”

“I know,” he sighed as he shifted his legs from underneath him and sat down on the floor. “It was worth a shot though.”

“I don’t know how to hold onto those kind of feelings,” she admitted. “Unless someone is threatening Connor – or you now. I’ve realized that much at least.”

“Well, that’s good,” he smiled at her as he put his arms around her and lifted her in his lap. “See? We’ve achieved something today,” he kissed her cheek. “Baby steps. Try to find this feeling of not holding on to anger or fear whenever you do feel like you’re angry or scared or anxious.”

Laying her head on his shoulder and sighed. “Connor still keeps asking me when you’re going to be staying with us – permanently.”

Oliver sighed as he caressed her back. “Are we ready for that?”

“Everything has been going so fast from the beginning. And to be honest, it’s not like you haven’t been finding yourself over most nights as it is. What difference does it make if you move your clothes from wherever you have your hideout to the house instead of just the duffel bag in the closet,” she pointed out. “Which also reminds me – I need to get his documents updated.”

He knew she was right, of course, he had been staying over most nights, even after getting in late, because he liked waking up next to Bella or with Connor jumping on the both of them wearing the brightest smile ever. “I suppose I could do that,” he said eventually. He had been using the Arrow as an excuse while everything was sorted anyway. He always made sure he wasn’t followed when going to her house and he always left his toys at the club so that Connor wouldn’t find them and hurt himself with them. But maybe he had just been holding off because he was waiting for the other shoe to drop; everything was going so well, something had to go wrong eventually, right? “Uh? What documents?”

“His birth certificate, passport,” she replied. “I need to add you as his father but I didn’t want to say anything yet because the records office said they need DNA tests when I called and asked. I wanted to wait until you were ready to come with us to bring it up.”

“Really?” he asked, sounding a bit stupefied. “I mean… are you sure?”

Bella turned to look up at him. “Of course. You’re his father. The only reason I didn’t include you originally was because no one was supposed to know.”

“Okay,” he smiled at her. “Thank you.”

Tossing the sticks aside, she shifted so that she could wrap her arm around his neck and look into his eyes. “Hm, with that settled, I suppose that brings us to the next important discussion we need to have.”

Brushing a lock of hair that fell out of her ponytail out of her face away, he nodded as he prepared himself for her next drop of information. “Alright,” he said slowly, wondering just what she else she had up her sleeve with the impish smirk on her face.

“Now that you will be with us full time,” she said slowly, her finger drawing circles over his shirt as she was careful to choose her words. “It brings up the question of Connor. I trust you Oliver and I trust that you intend to do right by him as best as you can. I know you don’t know what to do all the time with him as a father, or simply that you weren’t there all these years, but it doesn’t matter to me now.”

“Uhm…” Oliver managed to say as he then shut his mouth and thought about her words. “You’re the authority, Bella and uhm… I uhm… yeah, I don’t think I’m quite ready for what you have in mind just yet… uh…”

“See right there, I think you are. You are afraid of something going wrong and I get that but that’s every parent. At some point we all have to learn and there is no manual to learn this stuff,” she explained. “He’ll at some point try playing us against each other to get something he wants, as all kids do. I’m sure you did with your parents. If you take him out with you, he needs to know that what you say holds merit, not just my word. We are both his parents in this and I want us to be equals.”

He nodded slowly, having thought about updating his life insurance policy himself. It wouldn’t mean much but at least he’d know that both she and Connor would never be in any financial discomfort if he’d be gone – it was a bit weird to know that he was worth more dead than alive at this point and seeing what was going on right now; the whole of the League of Assassins breathing down his neck… Not a lot of good could come out of it.

“We should do that then,” he eventually said as he kissed her forehead. “And I will go to my lawyer to update some things as well.”

“Then we have everything figured out?” she asked, a grin growing as she looked at him. Her fingers scratched at the nape of his neck in her excitement. “Connor will be so happy when we tell him. When you tell him. I think you should give him the news.”

“Me?” Oliver blinked. “When?” Felicity had told him to let Bella in more into his life as The Arrow, but he didn’t quite want to. He knew that Bella worried enough as it was and to tell her more about it… He liked it that she knew about him and not knew about what he actually did on a regular basis. But with what was currently ahead of him… This was not the right moment but would there ever be one?

“Anytime you want,” she replied lightly as she looked at him closer, taking note of his hesitation. Frowning, Bella started to pull away from him as she seemed to sense that there was a shift inside him. “Something wrong? I thought you’d want to be involved more.”

“I do, nothing’s wrong when it comes to us as a family,” he said as he pulled her back against him. “I am just…” Oliver sighed as he tiredly rubbed his eyes. “There are some other things that are going on and I’m not sure how much I should tell you because I really like it that ‘we’ are separate from dude in a hood.”

Bella raised an eyebrow and looked around them in an a slightly exaggerated manner to remind him of his exercise. “Are we really that separate? Because I don’t see it, not completely. I understand what you’re saying to a point and yes, I want to keep Connor out of this as much as possible but it’s the life that was chosen for us. We can’t change it, so why hide it from the most important people that should know?”

“So, what? Does that mean you want to join me out on the streets from time to time to catch bad guys?”

“If it helps you, sure. That is as long as I have someone to watch Connor of course. I have this ability that can protect you and others so why not use it?” she shrugged.

He was quiet for a moment and then nodded. “But not until you figure out a way to control your anger as that messes with your ability and I’m going to ask someone else to help you with that.”

“Okay,” she agreed and trailed her hand over his face. “What is bothering you Oliver? You can talk to me, you know.”

“My world as The Arrow is so much bigger than just go after bad people or from time to time dealing with metahumans. It’s one complicated mess, to be honest.” He said slowly, as of thinking what to say next. “I’ve told you about my friend Sara, right? The one who was killed? Laurel’s sister?”

Narrowing her eyes, nodded slowly as she held mixed feelings over the girl but avoided any judgment as it was the past. “Another reason for her to take her animosity out on me since she couldn’t be over you,” she commented. “What about her?”

“Sara was with me on the boat and for a long time I believed she was dead until she showed up on a freighter. To make a long story short, she joined a group of people called the League of Assassins and they trained her to become a killer. Where I have my own set of rules, boundaries, they don’t. Occasionally, we help each other out and Sara seemed to like my way of doing things but her loyalty was with the League. Once in, it’s hard to get out.” He took a deep breath and sighed even deeper. “The League has given me time to find Sara’s killer my way, but I feel that time is running out. We’re doing the best we can but we’re now waiting for DNA results from S.T.A.R. labs to see whose DNA was on the arrows that shot Sara and hope it can lead us to someone.”

The color drained from Bella’s face as the weight of the information sunk in. What he’d been dealing with when he came back and held her in bed so much at night. “And if you don’t find who killed her?” she was barely able to get out, her mind thinking of ways of protecting both Connor and Oliver and the possible threats these people brought.

“I don’t know,” Oliver admitted. “I’d have to stop them, I suppose. I’ve been focused so much on getting the DNA results that I really haven’t thought of a back up plan yet.”

“Then we start planning. Do you have any friends from the group that are willing to talk? There has to be something. Do they have something they think did it?”

“No,” he shook his head. “Look, I know of them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I like them or that they like me very much. Sara was the only one, really, because you know… we knew each other. Now that Sara’s gone… there’s nothing and no one.” He groaned as he remembered there was someone. “The one person I can think of is hard to get a hold of.”

“Who is that?” she asked curiously moving to stand. “Surely if they are open to talking, their ties to this group aren’t very strong and can be swayed.”

“Nope, he’s going to be a last resort,” Oliver sighed as he gently pushed her off his lap and got to his feet to start pacing around. “There’s nothing to worry about, really. The results will come through and I’ll deliver the person who killed Sara to them. End of story. No need of a back up plan.”

She could see he was having a hard time of this and sighed. “And if it was someone you know and trust? That they have been lying to you all this time? Can you really do that? From everything you told me so far, there doesn’t sound like very many players in this that it could be.”

“Story of my life,” he said with a grimace as he spread out his arms. “At least I am certain that the people who really matter to me, you, Felicity, Diggle, Roy, Thea and Laurel wouldn’t have killed Sara. They simply couldn’t.”

“Okay,” Bella said softly as she got to her feet and held on tightly to Oliver, realizing that he wanted to do this by himself, that telling her had already been something huge for him. “I am here if you want to talk, I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know,” he kissed her forehead. “I just thought you should know…”

“If it makes you feel any better, we can start updating the paperwork tomorrow,” she said as she ran her fingers through his hair. “Would that ease your mind a little?”

Oliver nodded.

“Good,” she smiled at him. “Now, let’s go home and tell that son of ours that you’re moving in.”

“Even after…”

“Yes. And you know why? I trust you not to die anytime soon because we just found each other again.”

After talking things through with the team, they all decided that Oliver should do what made him feel best and watched him pack his duffel bag instead of suiting up to patrol the streets. It was a quiet night anyway and nothing Roy couldn’t handle on his own or with Diggle’s help. They were all very happy about Oliver moving in with Bella; he hadn’t told them that deep down, he was scared of what the League would do if they wouldn’t find Sara’s killer as he was their leader, the person they followed and he needed to be strong for them – there was nothing wrong.

After driving to the house, he parked his bike and opened the front door. “Connor!” he called out. “Can you come and help me, please? I need someone strong!”

Connor came running around the corner from the living room, stopping short as he took in his father at the door. “Dad?” he asked slowly, his eyes jumping over the bags and up to him and back with hope. “What do you need me to help with?”

“I need your help with carrying in these bags, that way I’ve moved in a little bit quicker.”

“Okay, umm… Where are they going?” he asked as he went to pick up the first bag carefully as he looked at everything. Much more than he’d ever brought with him.

“I think just inside is good for now,” Oliver smiled as he took the rest of his bags before following Connor in. Oliver closed the door with his foot, set the bags down and grinned. “There. I live here now.”

The boy froze as he dropped the bag he held and turned to look at him open mouthed. “Really? Does Mom know? Does this mean you and her are going to get married now?” he exclaimed as he ran to hug him.

“Really,” Oliver said as he crouched down and hugged the boy back. “And your mom knows and… two people can live together without being married, Connor. Why are you so eager for me and your mom to get married?”

“Because that’s what families do.” he said in a matter of fact tone.

“Yeah, but your mom and I have been doing things backwards anyway. I mean… we got you first. Now I’m moving in,” he ruffled Connor’s hair. “We’re a family. Even if your mom and I aren’t married, we are a family because we care for each other and help each other.”

“Connor, relax. If something like that is meant to happen it’ll come but forcing it won’t work. It’s not where your father and I are at and neither of us are ready for marriage past what we have with you right now,” Bella said from where she was watching in the doorway to the kitchen. “Now help Dad bring his bags to the bedroom and get ready for dinner.”

Without another word, he moved to try to carry, or rather drag two bags down the hall towards his now, parents, bedroom with a grin on his face. Shaking her head, Bella made her way over to him and smirked. “Welcome home.”

Oliver picked up his bags and softly kissed her. “Glad to be home,” he grinned as he followed his son to the bedroom. “You need some help with that?”

“I can do it!” he replied, slowly making his way along the hall as the adults followed. Bella had remained quiet but amused as she watched until she slipped by to go into the room to stand by the closet so her son didn’t go near it.

“Wow, you’re very strong,” Oliver said as he dropped the bags and flopped onto the bed, seemingly out of breath. “Wow…”

“Yep! Mom makes me drink my milk. I’ll go get you some,” he said and took off again.

Bella continued to guard the closet, though she was nervous as she smiled at him and fidgeted with her hands.

“What are you hiding?” Oliver grinned as he got off the bed. He walked towards Bella and tried to reach around her to open the closet but she was cheating and was using her shield to keep him away from it. “Aww.”

Biting her lip she took a deep breath. “I don’t want you to get upset but I had something delivered today that I thought you could use. I didn’t want Connor to know and he can’t get into it but for security and peace of mind… You can keep other things nearby.”

“I’m intrigued,” he replied as he cocked his head. “By other things you mean job related things and if so, is it really safe because I figured I wouldn’t bring my other things over because of him.”

“I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think it was safe with him Oliver,” she told him and finally let him by as she lowered her shield. “I hope I picked a good one and that you like it.”

Oliver took a look at the safe and was practically drooling, it was a state of the art secure weapons safe, which put his simple one at the club to shame. “Wow, Bella,” he turned around to face her with a big smile on his face. He probably wasn’t going to use it, but the knowledge of it being there was enough. “Thank you!” Oliver took a step forward to kiss her but at that moment Connor walked into the bedroom, clearly clearing his throat and holding up a glass of milk.

Bella practically jumped away like with a blush like a teenager caught by her own parents. Only the boy didn’t stop there as he looked between them with an expression she couldn’t place. “What are you two doing?” he asked peculiarly.

“I was just thanking your mother for everything she has done for me,” Oliver replied as he slipped his arm around her waist to pull her back to him even though she resisted slightly as she had always had some issues with PDA in front of others. “Something on your mind buddy?”

“I got your milk. Were you and Mom going to start making me a brother or sister?” he asked randomly.

“What the… Connor! What is it with these questions lately? Please – give us a chance to be a family together before you marry us and have us start to … oh my God,” Bella said, turning to hide her face in Oliver’s shoulder as she couldn’t formulate any further thoughts after the most recent bombshell from their son.

Oliver couldn’t help but laugh. Bella’s reaction to Connor was simply priceless and the boy was simply being a kid whose biggest dream had come true, he was just dreaming bigger now. Something Oliver and Bella really weren’t ready for. “What do you want to do after dinner, Connor?”

Connor blinked at his father. “Play videogames.”

“Good,” Oliver smiled at him as he took the glass of milk that Connor offered and downed it in one go. “Thank you for the milk, I’m feeling stronger already. Look, I can lift your mom,” he lifted Bella, who shrieked, up and started to walk out of the bedroom. “Come on, Connor, I believe she said dinner was almost done!”

“Hey!” Connor sulked as he followed his parents. “You changed the subject.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

“Nope.”

“Yes!”

“Nope.”

“Mommy!” Connor whined as the family sat down at the table. “Daddy’s teasing me!”

Connor sat on the couch in the living room with his video games, a semi pout on his lips over the whole evening while his mother had sequestered herself in the kitchen doing last minute checking on their dinner plans. The new family was having company that he wasn’t happy to bother having over even if he liked Felicity now, but he was keen enough to know his mother was nervous to meet the people coming over.

Muffled cursing and items dropping could be heard when the doorbell rang and he looked over to his father. “You getting that or me? Mom definitively ain’t.”

“Go play your game,” Oliver snorted as he walked towards the front door. He had offered to help Bella multiple times but she had refused him and rather continued to cook with anxiety, nervousness. There was nothing to be nervous about, he had told her and that if everything failed, they could order Alfredo’s. It almost cost him his head when he mentioned that. He opened the door and Felicity, Roy and Diggle were standing in front of him, all three wearing smiles the size of planets. “Hi, come in.”

“Lyla couldn’t make it, Oliver, she sends her regards,” Diggle apologized. “Sara’s a bit colicky.”

Connor peered around the corner of the doorway to check out the new faces, waving shyly at Felicity. He didn’t take his eyes off the two men though, trying to make a decision on whether he liked them or not but the one that had spoken seemed normal.

Felicity was the first to notice him and grinned. “Hey Connor,” she greeted as she made her way into the house and ruffled the hair on his head while she went in search for Bella having spent so much time there to be comfortable, leaving the boys to themselves.

Oliver took Roy and Diggle to the living room , seeing as Bella was in the kitchen and he knew that it was her safety net for now but she’d get out of there soon enough. Connor had immediately clamped on to his leg the moment he set foot in the room and Oliver protectively put his hand on his back. “Roy, Dig, I want you to meet Connor. Connor, these are my friends Roy and Diggle.”

The boy looked up at him and pulled him down so that he could whisper in his ear. “They have weird names,” he said.

“That’s because Diggle’s real name is John,” Oliver whispered back. “And Roy is a normal name too. You don’t have to shake their hands, just say ‘hi’.”

Connor growled slightly in displeasure and ended up waving half heartedly, then turned to run around them to return to his games but also continued to keep an eye on the new strangers in the house. He did trust his father but he still needed time to accept anyone new.

“Awesome,” Roy remarked as he saw Connor play his video game. “Is that the latest Space Warriors?”

“Yes,” he replied suspiciously as he gave him the side eye. “You play?”

Roy nodded. “Yeah, I’m just having a bit of a problem with phase three, I can’t seem to get to the boss in time to have enough time to kill him.”

“That was easy. You just have to find the space sword that can cut through his warriors,” he replied with a shrug.

“Wait, what?” Roy blinked. “There’s a space sword? Now I feel like a complete dummy. Please tell me it’s hard to find so I don’t feel that stupid?”

Connor looked at him and raised an eyebrow. “It’s in the asteroid field on the way to his castle,” he said slowly. “Dad? Do you know how much longer Mom will be?”

“I’ll tell her to slow down if you want to show Roy how it’s done, if you want me to,” Oliver grinned, knowing that he could trust Roy in breaking the ice with Connor. Video games weren’t Oliver’s specialty but Roy practically lived and breathed it when not at the club or out in the field.

“I guess,” he said as he went to went to restart the game, ignoring the looks he was getting.

“He’s a cute kid,” Diggle murmured to Oliver, watching with fascination as he couldn’t believe the resemblances. “How are you handling everything?”

“Alright, I guess,” Oliver said as Diggle followed him out of the living room. “Bella says it’s a good thing to be scared.”

“She’s right. I think every parent is,” he agreed. “Where is this girl anyway?”

“Hiding in the kitchen,” Oliver pointed at the kitchen before walking into it, seeing Felicity help Bella by cutting vegetables. “Bella?”

Though it was subtle, she jumped and knocked the can of coffee grinds off the counter with her shield that seemed to have gone up around her. Luckily she was enough that it could be brushed off by her elbow but if Felicity and Oliver were watching her, they would know. “Oliver? Connor okay?” she asked as she spun around to look at him with a large smile.

“Yes, he’s going to need a little bit of time to show Roy something in his computer game before dinner,” Oliver said and pointed at Diggle. “This is my friend John Diggle, Dig, this is Bella.”

“Hi ma’am, nice to meet you,” John said as he extended his hand to her.

“Hi, same here but excuse me, messy hands,” she said as she held them up displaying the food remains from preparation. “Um, Oliver? Can I talk to you a moment?”

“Yeah, sure,” Oliver said as he nodded and stepped further into the kitchen, switching places with Felicity who gently pushed Diggle out of the kitchen.

Bella swallowed as she waited for their guests to get out of hearing range. “I’m so nervous I’m – I feel like I’m like shorting out. I’m trying to hold it in but I’m knocking everything over!”

He put his arms around her and softly kissed her. “Relax, you have nothing to worry about,” he said before kissing her again. “You don’t have to impress them because you already did that.”

“They don’t know about this. How would they react? I don’t want to accidently hurt them and if Connor finds out?”

Oliver took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay, think you can leave your kitchen for two minutes to go outside with me?”

Nodding, Bella was more than willing to do anything for him. “Sure. Just tell Felicity?”

“She’ll keep an eye on everything, don’t worry, we’re not going far.” He took her hand and opened the doors to the backyard where he had been planning to do something about the big rocks anyway to make some more space for Connor to play. “You see those rocks? I want you to toss them over the fence. Just for discharging you a bit. Don’t worry, there’s nothing behind that fence that could be ruined or hurt by those rocks. And nobody can see you from here.”

Taking a deep breath, Bella moved to lean back against him as she focused on the giant rocks that could only be described as boulders. Looking simply wasn’t helping and had to reach out to narrow her ability to the location. Soon it began to rock before it lifted and her hands gestured in a way to flip it over the fence.

Sighing she turned into him. “Why did this have to happen to me?”

“The world needed more special people and you were chosen to be more special than you already were,” he gently rubbed her back and kissed the top of her head. “We’re going to figure this out, you and I. But I do know that you have nothing to worry about with Ray and Dig, they are already impressed with you and you don’t need to impress them any further.”

“Let’s just hope that’s enough to keep from having an accident in front of everyone tonight now,” she murmured. “I hope your friends won’t think me rude for this now.”

“Bella, chill out, will you? You have nothing to worry about, they’re used to me and my weirdness.”

“I can’t help it! I’ve put off meeting them all this time. If I were them I’d be a bit peeved with the new girl, ” she rationalized.

“Why?” Oliver snorted. “They’re happy for us, Bella. They are impressed by how you’re influencing me and they are glad that I am learning to delegate some duties to them.”

She hummed a response but said nothing as she nodded. “Connor was really okay with them? Didn’t question them like he did you?”

“Well, he was okay with Roy once Roy started talking to him about the game he was playing and I’m sure he’ll warm up to Diggle as Diggle has that kind of effect on people.” He softly kissed her. “All Connor needs right now is to see you being okay with them.”

Bella took in a deep breath and stared back at the house where she saw Felicity watching them concerned. “Okay. Just stay close in case I have another um incident. Might need someone to back up an excuse for the freakish things I do.”

“Eh,” he shrugged. “You’re just clumsy.” He took her hand and started to walk back to the house. “It’ll be fine, I promise.”

“Story of my life, ” Bella complained as they made their way back inside finding the two at the table. Giving the two a tentative smile she made her way back over to the look over status of dinner and grimaced. “Yeah it’ll be a little while yet. I haven’t even been able to get the gnocchi rolled out and cut.”

“Well, since the kids are still busy with the video game, we’re all going to help,” Felicity said with a nod. “I was cutting the veggies, you can do the gnocchi and Dig and Ollie can do something else, whatever you need doing.”

“It’s no problem at all, ma’am,” Diggle smiled at her.

Nodding, Bella looked around. “I need a volunteer for the onion then,” she said as she looked up at Oliver and moved around him to get her iPad out. “I’ll pull out the recipe for the soup that you can follow for the initial steps until I am done here. I have the chicken in the rotisserie already so that’s taking care of itself.”

It wasn’t long before everyone was sitting at the dining room table as Bella started to bring out bowls of the fresh tomato soup that they’d help make. “Here we go. I just have a few more things for the main course that we can eat then you all can sit and relax a few minutes,” she grinned, setting a bowl in front of Connor. “And you, no complaining. You aren’t allergic to vegetables.”

“You never said he was allergic to anything,” Felicity said panicked. “What if I give him something he’s allergic to during one of our field trips?”

Connor snickered as he took a spoonful of tomato soup and put it in his mouth. “I’m not allergic to anything.”

“He played you, the little con artist,” Bella smirked as she left to get more bowls before returning with some rolls. “Usually I would have baked some fresh but I didn’t think I’d have time.”

“Are you serious? This is amazing,” Roy said impressed. “If you cook like this every day, can I have the leftovers then please?”

She laughed and nodded. “Sure, if you can get anything after Oliver has had his hands on it,” she pointed out.

“Daddy eats a lot, it’s a wonder that he hasn’t exploded yet,” Connor said as he slurped his soup.

“I might tonight,” Oliver replied with a nod. “Boom!”

Bella rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “I live with two children,” she muttered.

Diggle chuckled as he knew the feeling. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Connor?”

“A superhero because it’s super cool and a lot of people need protecting and the police can’t do a lot of things. Maybe I’ll be the next Professor Xavier or no, better!” He said with a huge grin on his face. “I’m going to be the next Arrow if the current one happens to disappear.”

Bella paled as she grew quiet and looked up at Oliver at their boy’s wish. It was something that neither of them wished for him to get involved in. Swallowing, she didn’t know what to say as her hands shook with the spoon she held.

Oliver put a hand on her leg and gently squeezed it. “But you’re going to need money to live and superheroes don’t really make money.”

“Oh, a lawyer. Or a cop.” Connor said quickly with a nod. “Probably lawyer, as they make more money and I want to make sure Mommy has everything when she gets too old.”

Felicity caught Diggle staring at the boy with his mouth open. “I told you he’s a sharp cookie, didn’t I?”

Bella smiled weakly at them as she tried to maintain a strong front. “That he is,” she agreed softly. “Um, is everyone ready for the rest of dinner?”

“Yep, absolutely,” Felicity said as she got up. “Let me help you.”

“Thanks,” she said as she stood to collect the soup bowls, leaving Connor with a confused but thankfully oblivious expression on his face.

“He’ll grow out of it,” Felicity said once they were in the kitchen. “He’s a little boy.”

She couldn’t help but continue to worry. “It’s a little harder to let go when his father is actually the Arrow and that that threat does exist Felicity.”

“I know,” she said with a sigh. “But once we get the information we need, the threat level will go down significantly. Besides, in my experience? Oliver is very stubborn when it comes to dying. He’ll be around for a long time.”

“I’m sure because I would bring him back just to kill him myself. But, um, can you do me a favor? I know he hasn’t told the guys about my ability and he’d rather I not get involved in that life but if he needs help, I want you to call me. Don’t tell him, just call.”

Felicity smiled warmly at her. “You’re already on my speed dial, don’t worry.”

She nodded as she moved to quickly made the sauce for the dinner so that it was fresh as gnocchi reheated and she directed her friend where she needed her and then they were both carrying dishes out to everyone. “Dinner is served,” she announced.

“Wow, that smells amazing,” Diggle said in awe.

“No, you can’t have her,” Connor said as he looked at Diggle and Roy. “Mommy is daddy’s.”

“I didn’t say I-”

“Mommy belongs to Daddy,” Connor said as he stared Diggle down in a way that reminded Diggle even more of Oliver. “One day they’ll get married, have my last name changed to Daddy’s and then they’ll give me a little sister,” he continued. “But not right now, because it’s not the right time. Or something.”

As soon as he started mentioning them getting married again, a bored look fell over Bella’s face as she set the last plate down then took her seat. It was a subject, as well as a sibling, that she and Oliver has heard time and again that they’d learned to tune it out. “Damn right. I want you to finish your broccoli.” “That’s enough, eat your food, please.” Oliver sighed while Diggle had an amused look on his face. “Don’t you start too,” he said, pointing at his friend.

As soon as he had started bringing up marriage and a baby again, the familiar bored expression returned to Bella’s face as she settled back down into her seat beside her boyfriend. She looked over at him and pursed her lips. “He won’t give up,” she whispered, scrunching her face. “I’m going to have a heart attack by the end of the night if he keeps this up. First wanting to be the next Arrow and now this. What’s next?”

“Dictatorship,” Oliver whispered back and then took a bite off his food. “World domination… I dunno… maybe we should get him a puppy for Christmas.”

“Right. And you know who would end up dealing with it,” she huffed. “If you want a dog, you deal with that problem first and make sure that it doesn’t come back, then we can discuss it because if you don’t – I don’t want to think about it right now. Or at all.”

“Bella, relax, he’s just a kid with a big imagination. This is all new to him too, you know,” he kissed her cheek. “We just have to show him that a perfect family doesn’t require the parents being married and I think we’re doing a great job.”

“Oliver’s right,” Diggle said with a nod. “You’re doing much better than I’d ever imagined. Lyla and I are still working out the kinks as well. Don’t worry too much about it.”

She looked over at him as she worked to gauge his sincerity before she finally accepted him with a nod. “I know I’m overdoing a lot of it now. It’s just there has been so many changes that it’s hard to not be overwhelmed by it all,” she explained. “In any case, let’s just enjoy dinner and get to know each other better, yes? Oliver and Connor had planned dessert themselves for later – so I admit to be slightly afraid…”

Felicity blinked. “As am I.”

“This is the best food I’ve ever had,” Roy said sincerely. “Not even Alfredo’s is as good as this is. They should hire you to be their chef.”

“You have nothing to be afraid of, I promise,” Oliver defended himself. “I didn’t allow Connor to go overboard that much…”

Bella narrowed her eyes on him as she swallowed the bite she had taken. “See that’s exactly what I’m afraid of considering the number of boxes of hot chocolate I noticed were in the cabinet this afternoon.”

“Ah, but those boxes stay closed. Connor and I made a deal.”

“What deal is this?”

“If he can be without drinking hot chocolate inside the house for an entire week, he and I are going to that indoor children’s park… although you might have to come with to supervise.” Oliver grinned at Bella. “You’ll notice I also bought several soft drinks and juices for him to choose from to mix things up a little.”

“I can do it, mommy,” Connor said with a nod. “I’ll still drink milk, though, because I want to be strong, but no more drinking hot chocolate inside the house, that was the deal.”

Felicity put her hands in front of her mouth to hide the big grin that had appeared on her face. Normal kids didn’t need any specifications when there was a deal or agreement being made, Connor, however, was too smart for that and he needed better perimeters.

Bella scratched the back of his head, unsure what to make of what just happened. Thinking quickly, she eyed Connor then looked at everyone around the table. “Does this mean that I get to drink the all the hot chocolate myself then?”

“Yes.” Connor nodded. “You will not tempt me because daddy is the Flash and he’ll take me away from it because hot chocolate is the Arrow’s kryptonite.”

“Oh,” Felicity smiled widely to Bella upon seeing Diggle and Roy’s clueless looks on their faces. “Show Diggle and Roy the video you shot in Central City, that was so cute.”

“Baby, can you run and get my cell phone from the bedroom? It was charging last I remember,” Bella said as she looked at Connor. “If it’s not there, then it should be in my purse somewhere…”

“Okay,” Connor said as he hopped off his chair and ran towards the stairs.

As soon as he was gone, Bella turned to the others, her face serious. “I’ve been trying to avoid any subject around Oliver’s – job. If he brings it up, find a way to distract him and change the subject. Please. The last thing he needs is to find out by accident who he is.”

“Don’t worry, ma’am. He’s just in awe of some idiot in a suit. We don’t talk shop in this house,” Diggle said with a smile. “He won’t find out about what Oliver’s consulting job really is.”

“Yeah – that was a knee jerk excuse back in Central City when he called me,” Bella hesitated as she looked at him. “Nevertheless, that city has less a few idiots on the street.”

“Oh, I think it was a brilliant excuse, couldn’t have thought of one better myself,” Diggle snorted. “I mean, it’s not like he’s a businessman anymore.”

“I’m still here.” Oliver said as he cleaned off his plate.

“Of course you are Baby,” Bella replied as she patted his hand and kept her attention on their guest. “I’m just saying that I’ve noticed, compared to other children in his schools and at the playgrounds, Connor is more observant and picks up on hell of a lot more so we need to be more conscious of those things in related to that aspect of his life.”

“Like I said, no shop talk in this house,” Diggle repeated himself. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, Bella, you don’t have to worry.”

Nodding she was able to easily accept his suggestion. “Okay. Then this will be all of your safe area to avoid shop talk. Deal?”

“Deal.” Roy and Diggle chorused.

“Got it!” Connor said as he ran back into the kitchen and crawled onto Oliver’s lap before handing the phone to Bella. “You have a few missed calls, mommy.”

She opened the lock on the screen and grimaced. “Of course I do,” she muttered as she cleared them before she pulled up the video as she quickly covered her agitation with a smile and passed the phone over to Diggle. “That’s the first real day with the two. Just before we told him the truth but of course he had figured it out on his own and we ended up getting the surprise.”

“Look at that smile on his face,” Diggle said as he showed it to Roy.

“How about we go and clear the table and make our dessert surprise?” Oliver whispered in Connor’s ear. “They’re talking about us anyway so it’s best to leave.”

“I agree,” Connor replied as he hopped off Oliver’s lap and grabbed his empty plate before going to the kitchen.

Bella shook her head as she watched them take off to clean up from dinner together while she took to entertaining their guests for the meanwhile. “Would anyone like something to drink? Wine? Beer? Hot chocolate?” she asked but the guys were too engrossed in the video, replaying it.

“Beer for the guys,” Felicity laughed. “Forgive them, it’s rare to see Ollie laugh and smile like that.”

“I believe it,” she smiled as she made her way over to a makeshift mini bar that she’d fashioned together with a small fridge she’d bought with a lock to keep cooled alcohols away from her son. Grabbing three bottles out and pouring two glasses of wine for herself and Felicity, she made her way back over in time to see her phone began to vibrate in Diggle’s hand.

Diggle frowned when he saw the name popping up on the screen. “You have a way of nicknaming your contact list…” He said as he handed Bella her phone.

She snorted and handed him over his beer in exchange for her phone. “I think considering how things went the last time I saw my father and how he’s been since, Psychotic Stalker is pretty accurate.”

“Your father? He’s that bad?” Roy asked surprised. Bella seemed so wholesome, a bit of a nervous person but wholesome, like the best and sweetest there was, how could she have a father she didn’t agree with?

“He doesn’t like Oliver. I mean, he hates him. It doesn’t matter what he does to redeem himself for what he thought he did for leaving me when I found out about Connor, but he – I don’t know. He just has it out for him so bad that he doesn’t even care about Connor’s or my happiness to put up with him. The day I decided to come back to Starling City, I left without a word to him and he isn’t happy. He hasn’t stopped calling or trying to find where I’m at. He’s even managed to get in contact with that Mr. Lance but he was nice enough to refuse to give my address and tell his staff to not give any information either,” she explained as she kept an eye out for Connor so that he didn’t overhear.

“Want me and Oliver to pay him a visit?” Roy said with a shrug. “I mean, we could totally do that and scare him.”

“Tempting. Really. At this point – I don’t know. If he actually comes down from Central City, I may have to ask you to because I wouldn’t put it past him to try to take Connor but as long as he stays up there he is only a nuisance,” she smiled.

“No one is going to take away Connor from you, Bella. And if they try, they will pay for it.” Roy told her as he took a sip of his beer.

She nodded as she looked back at her phone, wondering just what was going on that has her father so off about Oliver but with her son about to return any moment, she didn’t allow herself to speculate any further. “Thank you, Roy, for your support,” she said. “Right now, let’s just focus on surviving dessert rather than a potential stalker, hm?”