Red in a Sea of Grey

This is for olicity-beautiful-dreamer. She was looking for a story that was about Oliver meeting Felicity in 2010 in the flashbacks that are going to happen in 3.14. This is the scene that kept coming to mind for me. Although I will say, I really don’t think that they’ll have a conversation in the actual episode, but I really wanted them to.

I hope you like it lady!

The city had moved on without him. You never realize just how much life changes until you’re placed on the periphery of your own life years after you left it. It wasn’t just that the deli down the street that sold the good bagels was gone. He was standing on the corner of Outsider Alley peeking down the boulevard of the life that might have been.

Which was why Oliver Queen was veiled in the relative safety of the shadow of a skyscraper. Across the street was the steel and glass building where he had once pressed all of the buttons in the elevator, much to his father’s chagrin when they spent the next half hour stopping on every floor, until even a five-year-old Oliver tired of it.

He tugged the Starling City baseball cap further down over his shaggy head and hunched in on himself. A beam of light beat down on the sidewalk in front of him, a stark line of light and dark; one he feared he’d never have the ability to cross again.

He watched an elderly couple walk past the window displays, stopping every so often just to look. A harried mother wrangled her unwieldy stroller over the curb. Businessmen in varying shades of dull, faces etched from years of frustrated exhaustion. A flock of teenagers led by the cell phones they clutched like lifelines, chattering incessantly while never making eye contact.

Where would he be now if he had never boarded The Tempest with his father? His playboy years seemed shallow in the wake of the shipwreck. The sunbeam inched away from him as he considered everything his father had wanted for him; the life he callously cast aside.

He was desperate to dodge through the lanes of traffic, walk straight up to his mother’s office, and reveal that he was alive. The large glass doors opened and closed as he watched, hoping for a glimpse, terrified to be discovered.

What would he say? How would he explain the last two and half years of his life? Slade Wilson? Yao Fei? Shado? He could hardly look himself in the eye, never mind his mother. She would see right through him. Right into the broken bits his shell of a body held cobbled together.

And Thea. He couldn’t see Thea, not like this. Half way to assassin, lost in the flickering gloom. They both deserved the lighthearted Ollie they knew and loved. But like the retreating sunlight, that man was on the verge of disappearing.

He knew why Amanda Waller had Maseo bring him back to Starling City. Yes, there was the mission, but more than that, it was to bury the last remaining sliver of Oliver Queen. He realized now that Maseo had manufactured the opportunity that Oliver seized to sneak away from him. The truth settled over him. He would never escape.

Staring at Queen Consolidated, he let go of the life he’d never have; resigned himself to a life of death and retribution; a life spent making unthinkable choices for morally ambiguous reasons.

If he walked into Queen Consolidated now, Amanda Waller would force his hand, of that he had no doubt. No matter how much he missed them, the people he loved were better off thinking he was dead. There was one last thing he could do for them, protect them, not only from Amanda Waller, but also from himself.

He stepped into the street, a silent goodbye left in his place as he turned away from his family; from everything he’d ever known. Head bowed, he hurried, anonymous among the passing people. He packed away the emotions being back had unearthed.

A shiver ran through him and he looked up, anxious to find the source. He was scanning the crowd when he ran right into her. Knocking her back, her leather folio fell to the ground and bounced open, spilling business cards and index cards and post-it notes. The legal pad pages fluttering in the wind revealing a red pen tucked into the loop on the side. He reached out, steadying her as if it were already second nature.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I really should be watching where I’m going. Except that I’m too busy following my GPS and the building should be just up a few blocks,” she said and pointed without looking, her focus on the phone in her hand. Her ponytail bobbing as she paused her ramble and bent down to collect her papers. Oliver’s body followed, hands scooping up the contents of a sleek black folder. She tucked the phone into the pocket and they both stood.
“I’m such a klutz. Are you okay? I didn’t give you a concussion, did I?”  She asked as she straightened her papers.

He couldn’t help the smile that escaped.

“Hey, I’m fine. Not even a hair out of place. See?” He coaxed, wanting at least a glimpse of her face. He found himself already entranced by the way the sun embraced her, dancing off her blonde hair and lighting the sky gold. When she finally looked at him, he was rewarded with a vibrant blue of a perfect June day.

“I believe this is yours.” He held out the folder.

“Yes. Thanks so much. This could have been such a tragedy since I’m headed to a job interview and that folder holds everything you could want to know about me. You’re my hero. Seriously,” she said reaching out to touch Oliver’s now empty hand.

Her electric warmth spread through him, planting seeds of hope willing to wait through a long barren winter. He didn’t know it, but he could feel it. His fingers wrapped around hers and he studied her face intent on remembering how the world broke into Technicolor when she smiled. He was both saddened and elated that she showed no sign that she recognized him. In truth, he was so scraggly he doubted anyone would.

“Good luck,” he said, mesmerized by her red lips when they quirked up in question.

“Huh?” She asked, her head cocked to the side in confusion.

“Your interview,” he prompted, reluctant to relinquish the feel of her fingers in his.

“Right. Oh, right! I have an interview at Queen Consolidated, but this is my first time in Starling City and I didn’t want to get lost. Apparently I forgot to look up.”

He was taken aback that she was interviewing at QC, but buried his surprise. He didn’t know why, but he was glad she was headed there.

“It’s just on the right a couple blocks. Trust me, you can’t miss it.” He resisted the urge to draw her closer, but instead released her hand, his fingertips instinctively rubbing together with the loss.

“Well thank you again and sorry, you know, for the crashing into you and whatnot.” She adjusted the strap of her purse with her free hand, preparing to leave him. She was adorable when she was flustered and fidgeting.

He just needed a few more seconds with her.

“I bumped into you too, but I’m not sorry at all. Even if you had given me a concussion, I still wouldn’t have minded,” the words came rushing out, a desperate confession. She was an open book and he was a novel in progress. She would never know him, but he would remember every instant of their story, no matter how short.

“Weirdly enough? Neither am I,” she said, her face graced with one last heartbreaking smile.

“And usually I’d be horribly embarrassed right now.” She paused and gathered herself, glancing down at her watch. “But I’ve gotta go or I’ll be late. And that would not be a good thing.”

“Well I have a good feeling about your interview. I can already picture you working there.” Yes, he could imagine easily this woman surrounded by a bright and cheerful office, as if the light couldn’t help but follow her around. He would do the same thing if given half a chance.

“So you’ll cross your fingers for me?”

“Absolutely.” He watched as she strode away from him, blond ponytail swaying back and forth, a striking contrast to her bright red coat. He froze watching the color disappear into an endless sea of grey while the clicking of her heels faded into the buzz of the city. She was gone when he slipped the off-white business card out of his left inside pocket, glancing down at the name written there.

Felicity Smoak
Information Technology Specialist


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