Title: Maybe Purgatory Isn't Such a Bad Place to Be
Pairing: Oliver Queen/Felicity Smoak
Summary: Felicity ends up on Lian Yu after escaping from the Triad.
Spoilers/Timeline: Pre-Series/Post-Season 3 Flashbacks
Word Count: 21,850 story
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to angelskuuipo and apckrfan for beta'ing this and for all of the hand holding as I found myself rushing head first into a new fandom.
Author's Note 1: This story was inspired by watching Romancing the Stone.
Author's Note 2: This is my maiden voyage into the Arrow fandom, so please be kind.
Maybe Purgatory Isn't Such a Bad Place to Be
Felicity groaned, coming to slowly. There was a rush of cold against her feet, prompting her to become more alert. She knew that wasn't right for some reason.
When it happened for a third time, she forced her eyes open.
That was the first thing she noticed. She was lying on sand. How did she come to be lying on sand?
She pushed herself up into a sitting position and reached up to brush sand from her cheek. Her hand bumped her glasses and she was relieved to find they were still on her face.
She did a quick inventory. Glasses, check. Ponytail, check. Shoes, two of them, check. Sundress and cardigan seemed to be intact, if wet.
Glancing behind her, she spotted her messenger bag. She pulled it to her and desperately opened it. Her tablet and phone were both still inside, although thoroughly waterlogged. Where was a large bag of rice when you needed it? She hoped she'd be able to get them to dry out enough to use them to determine where she was.
Cold washed over her feet again and she realized that it was water lapping at her feet. She stared at the wave receding from her and forced herself to move before it came back again. She tried to stand and found she didn't have the energy to do so, but she did manage to crawl farther inland.
Looking back toward the water, Felicity tried to remember how she got there. She didn't see a boat nearby. She also didn't see one in the distance, which was worrisome.
Her forehead crinkled and she absentmindedly pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she tried harder to remember. The not knowing was starting to really scare her.
A rustling noise behind her caused Felicity to turn around. About fifty feet behind her a wooded area could be seen. Her heart leapt into her throat as she imagined all kinds of wild animals that could be hiding in the dense forest. They had things like mountain lions and tigers in China, right? She was a tech geek without any weapons. What was she supposed to do if she encountered a wild animal? Granted, she wouldn't know what to do even if she did have a weapon, but not having one made the situation that much scarier.
"I..." Felicity started to speak, but her throat was dry. Which seemed like it shouldn't be possible if she'd just spent who knows how long in the water. She swallowed some saliva, wet her lips and tried again. "I don't know who or what is out there, but you don't want to eat me."
Felicity blinked at what stepped out from behind a tree. It was a man with long hair wearing cargo pants and a long sleeved shirt, carrying a bow and wearing a quiver strapped to his back.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Great, now I'm fantasizing about being rescued by Robin Hood," she muttered to herself.
"Not Robin Hood," the aberration said just a couple of yards from her.
Felicity "eep"ed and opened her eyes to find the most stunning blue eyes staring back at her. They almost seemed to be laughing at her.
He'd kept his distance, but was squatting just out of reach from her. Felicity lifted herself to her knees and leaned forward, hand outstretched until she could poke him in the knee. She scrambled back when her hand encountered a solid body.
"Wh-who are you?" she nervously asked. "How did I get here? Did you bring me here?"
"My name is Oliver, and no, I did not bring you here. I didn't see how you arrived, which means that you weren't left here by boat or plane. You really don't know?" he asked.
Felicity shook her head, beginning to panic. Her breath began to come in shorter and shorter gasps and her heart was pounding a mile a minute. "I... I don't... How..."
She looked at Oliver, her eyes wide and her hand on her chest.
"Calm down, you're having a panic attack," Oliver said, coming closer. When she didn't back away, he came to her side. He began to rub her back in soothing circles. "Try to take a deep breath. In, out. In, out." He took a few slow, deep breaths, trying to get her to match him. After a couple of false starts, she managed to breathe a bit easier. "There you go."
"Thank you," she said once her breathing was almost back to normal.
"You're welcome..." He looked at her, expectantly.
"Oh, right. Felicity. My name is Felicity Smoak." She held her hand out.
"You're welcome, Felicity," Oliver said, shaking her hand. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Oliver Queen."
Felicity gasped, snatching her hand back, causing Oliver to frown. "Ol-Oliver Queen? No, he's dead."
Oliver grimaced. "Actually, I'm not. I survived when the boat went down."
"But that was..." Felicity tried to remember how long it had been since it was in the news. She was still at MIT at the time, but it was after Cooper had been arrested.
"Three years ago," Oliver finished. "Give or take."
"You've been here all this time?" Felicity asked.
"Mostly," Oliver answered with a shrug. Now was not the time or the place to go into his indentured servitude to A.R.G.U.S., if ever. "Look, we shouldn't stay out here in the open much longer. You're probably thirsty and hungry. Come on, I've got a place where you can rest."
He stood and held a hand out for Felicity. Hesitantly, she reached out to take it, allowing him to help pull her to her feet. She wobbled a bit and then looked down at her feet. She was wearing flats - that had made it through whatever ordeal had landed her on this island - so it was her weak knees that were making it hard to stand.
At least she was blaming her knees and not the fact that a very handsome billionaire was standing there holding her hand. Reluctantly, she let go of Oliver's hand and took a step forward. And immediately nearly lost her balance. She would have fallen if Oliver hadn't grabbed her arm.
"I'm not usually such a klutz," she insisted. "Okay, maybe I am, but you try walking on sand after washing up on a beach."
"I remember what it was like," Oliver somberly said. "Don't worry, we can take it slow. Go ahead and lean on me."
Felicity blushed and hesitantly put a hand on his arm.
"I'm not going to bite," he promised her.
Felicity blew out a breath, knowing she was being silly. "I know. Thank you." When she nearly faltered again after attempting another step, she wrapped her hand around his (rather impressive) bicep and placed her other hand on his forearm.
This time they were able to move more than one step at a time. As they approached the woods, Felicity asked, "Where are we anyway?"
"Lian Yu," Oliver told her. "It means Purgatory."
Felicity gulped and followed Oliver into the woods.
Oliver slowly guided Felicity through the woods. Her eyes scanned around her, looking up to see the sky spotted through the tops of the trees.
"Keep your eyes on the ground," Oliver warned her. "There are landmines, so you need to watch your step."
Felicity immediately stopped in her tracks. "Landmines? Real, active landmines?"
"They're left over from World War II, set by the Japanese," Oliver informed her.
"How do you know they're still active?" Felicity asked, still not moving.
"Because I stepped on one my first year here," Oliver admitted.
"But you're still alive," she pointed out. "How do you know they're still active?"
"It went off. It's a long story. Let's keep moving. You'll be fine, just watch where you step."
Felicity's grip on his arm tightened, but she allowed him to continue on.
It was another fifteen minutes or so of going uphill before Oliver led her to a cave.
"In here," he said, before ducking inside.
Felicity looked around nervously, questioning the sanity of following a strange man into a dark cave in the middle of nowhere, before deciding that it was either this or try to fend for herself, and she had little hope of surviving long under that scenario.
Oliver was bent over a fire pit, coaxing a fire to life, when she entered the cave.
"How are your clothes?" he asked, his back to her.
"My clothes?" Felicity asked.
"Are they still wet? Do you need to take them off to dry out?" he clarified.
Felicity blushed. She reached one hand down to feel her skirt and one to her sweater to do the same. "They're, um, still kinda wet, but they're the only ones I've got, so I'll just keep them on."
Oliver nodded towards some clothes on the ground near the fire pit. "Those should fit."
Felicity crept closer and picked the clothes up. "These are women's clothes," she observed aloud.
"Yes, they are," Oliver acknowledged. "I'll step outside so you can change."
Felicity waited until Oliver was out of sight and, still blushing, quickly slipped out of her damp clothes and into the dry ones, keeping her underwear and bra on. While not a perfect fit, they would keep her warm; warmer than her own sundress would have been, at any rate.
"All clear," she called out as she hung her wet clothes from the line she found against the wall.
Sitting on the ground beside the fire pit, Felicity began to pull her electronics out of her bag, grateful that they'd been powered off when she'd ended up in the water.
When Oliver joined her, she looked woefully at her babies before looking up at him. "You wouldn't happen to have a large container of dry rice around here, would you?"
Oliver looked confused and shook his head no. "Sorry, fresh out of rice."
"Figures. Go to China and there's no rice when you need it," Felicity sighed.
"What do you need it for?" Oliver asked, sitting on the other side of the fire.
"To dry out my tablet and phone. Best way to save waterlogged devices is with rice," she informed him. "I'm not sure if they'll be salvageable without it, but I'll do my best with what I have to work with."
Felicity pulled out her toolkit and after making sure her tools were clean and dry she began to dismantle her phone and tablet.
"Hey, do you have a spare blanket or towel I can use?" she asked.
Oliver retrieved a couple of small towels and handed them to her. "I've been without technology for so long that I've forgotten what it's like to rely on it so much."
"I don't rely on my technology," Felicity huffed, methodically opening the case of her tablet, removing the battery, drying it, and then every other component she could remove. Oliver cocked an eyebrow at her, given how forlorn she looked. "Okay, maybe I do, but that's because technology is my life."
"Boy, have you landed in the wrong place," Oliver said.
"Tell me about it," Felicity agreed. "Is there even a cell tower around here if I did get them working?"
Oliver thought about it. Fyers had used SAT phones and walkie talkies, so he was assuming the answer was no.
"I don't think so. I only ever saw people using SAT phones and radios."
"I can work with that," Felicity said, perking up. "At least, I should be able to, if I can get my tablet working. It would be a shame to lose it; I just got it, after all."
"A gift from your parents?" Oliver asked, given the nostalgic look she was wearing.
"What? No!" As if her mother would ever be able to buy her tech. "It's from my boss. It's why I'm in China, actually."
Oliver grabbed a canteen and some dried meat from a chest and handed it to Felicity. "Why don't you tell me about it? Where do you work?"
"I work for you, actually," Felicity admitted. "Your family's company, that is."
Oliver couldn't help smiling at that coincidence. "How long have you been there? I don't remember seeing you around when I've been by."
"You wouldn't have seen me," Felicity countered. "First of all, you would never be down in IT and second of all, I'm not your type."
Oliver pouted. "How do you know what my type is?"
"I may be smart, but I still saw the tabloids. I've seen the kind of women you 'date'. Besides, I wasn't working for QC yet when you, um, left."
"I think I'm offended," Oliver said. "I'm also not that boy anymore."
"No, I don't think you are," Felicity agreed. She'd seen photos of Oliver - not just in the tabloids and news, but also in his mother's office. He'd always looked carefree in those photos. The man before her now was about as far from carefree as you could get.
"So how did you end up in China?" Oliver asked. "I wasn't aware that they sent IT personnel abroad very often."
"They don't," Felicity agreed. "This was kind of a unique situation. I may have only been there a year, but I'm the best damn thing to happen to that department in years, if I do say so myself."
"So modest," Oliver teased.
"I'm all for modesty when it's called for, but it's not here. I'm just that good," Felicity said, sitting up straighter and grinning. She finished taking apart the tablet and began to repeat the process with her phone.
"Anyway, Mr. Steele - do you remember who Mr. Steele is?" she paused waiting for Oliver to nod that he did "wanted someone from IT to go test the new tablet Applied Sciences was developing while it was still in the manufacturing phase in Hong Kong. My supervisor recommended me for the trip, so here I am."
"But you don't know how you got from Hong Kong to here?" Oliver asked.
"No idea. Maybe I bumped my head?" Felicity suggested.
"I'm sure it'll come back to you once you've rested some."
Felicity yawned, as if the mere mention of rest made her realize how tired she was; which was weird since she'd only been conscious for about an hour. "I sure hope so," she said through another yawn.
"Why don't you try to get some sleep," Oliver suggested, standing. "There's a pallet set up against that wall. I'll go see if any of my traps have anything for dinner."
She took the hand Oliver held out to her and followed him to the pallet. It didn't look very comfortable, but as exhausted as she was, she didn't really care. She toed off her shoes and allowed Oliver to help her lie down. She pulled her ponytail free and set her glasses on the ground.
She vaguely felt Oliver brush a hand over her hair as he said, "Rest well, Felicity."
"You too," she mumbled, smiling at the chuckle that moved away from her as she drifted off.
It was her stomach growling that woke her. She laid a hand over her belly as she became aware of the scent of something cooking.
"Mmm, that smells heavenly," she said, sitting up and brushing a hand through her hair. She put her glasses and shoes back on and made her way to the fire and her bag.
"I hope you like bird," Oliver said, turning a spit with two small birds on it.
"What kind of bird?" Felicity asked.
"Not sure," Oliver admitted. "Does it matter?"
"I suppose not," Felicity said, pulling her make-up bag from her messenger bag. She had never been so glad that she used a plastic make-up bag when traveling as she was now. She unfolded her little travel brush and began to attack the snarls in her hair.
For many minutes the only sounds were Felicity's little grunts as she brushed her hair and the fire spitting as grease occasionally dripped into the flames.
"So, what do you do here all day?" Felicity finally asked, breaking the silence.
"What?" Oliver asked, startled. He'd been mesmerized by the methodical way that Felicity was brushing her hair. His fingers actually itched to run through her blonde hair. He'd never been the caretaker type, had never felt the desire to brush Laurel's hair, but suddenly he wanted nothing more than to take over for Felicity.
"What do you do here? I mean, it's not like you can go shopping or work or surf the web," Felicity pointed out. "How do you spend your days?"
Oliver shrugged. "I train, I hunt, I hike. Like you said, not much else to do."
"Train doing what?"
"I practice my archery skills and my fighting skills."
"But there's no one to fight with," Felicity observed. "Or is there?"
"There isn't. Not anymore," Oliver said, cryptically. "I go through fighting stances and practice against trees. I also run, a lot."
"What happened to the other people on the… is this an island?" Felicity asked with a final pass of the brush through her hair. She removed the hairband from around her wrist and pulled her hair back into a high ponytail.
"Yes, it's an island. The other people are gone. Dead," Oliver answered, tersely.
"Di-did you kill them?" she nervously asked.
"Some of them," he admitted, looking pained. "I had to because they were trying to kill me."
"How long have you been alone?" Felicity asked, moving closer to him.
"Not sure. A few months maybe? I was in Hong Kong for a while before that. Until they dumped me back here."
"Who are they? Are they why everyone still thinks you're dead?"
"I can't tell you who they are. Some secret government organization. They kept me monitored at all times and prevented me from reaching out to my family. Once they had no more use for me they drugged me and left me back here." Despite promises of returning him home.
"You don't know who they were or you won't tell me?" Felicity pressed.
"I won't tell you. They're dangerous and the less you know about them the better," Oliver growled.
"Okay, okay," Felicity conceded, hands up in a backing off gesture. "Just making conversation."
"Sorry," Oliver said, wiping a hand over his face. "The last few years have been a little… stressful."
"It's fine, I get it. Well, I don't get it, but I can understand that there's probably been a lot of stuff going on that you never thought you'd have to do before."
"Like killing and preparing a bird for dinner," Oliver agreed. He pulled the spit from the fire and slid one of the birds onto a rudimentary plate. "Bon appétit."
"Thanks," Felicity said, gratefully. "I'm starving." She bit into the flesh and while it wasn't very flavorful, it was hot. And it was sustenance. And something she never wanted to have to prepare on her own.
Silence fell between them once again as they concentrated on eating.
As she ate, Felicity once again tried to remember how she came to be on this island. The harder she tried to remember, the more frustrated she became.
She remembered getting up that morning - yesterday morning? - and going downstairs for breakfast. As she'd passed reception, the clerk had called her over to inform her that the company had arranged a private tour of some of the islands for her that day. Felicity had thought that she was going to be in the lab all day working on the new tablet, but didn't think too hard about the change in plans. A day out on the water sounded nice.
Felicity dropped her plate on the ground as she let out a gasp.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Oliver demanded, hurrying to her side.
Felicity turned tear-filled eyes to him. "There was a last minute change to my schedule," she told him, choking back a sob. "Instead of going in to the lab, I was sent on a private boat tour of some islands."
Oliver frowned, his brow furrowing in concern. "What did the people on the boat look like?"
"I don't know. I still don't remember that part. I just remembered the woman in the hotel telling me of the schedule change," Felicity said. "Why did I go along with it?" she asked, panicked. "That wasn't what I was supposed to be doing that day. Why didn't I call anyone to confirm the plans? What was I thinking? What did the people in the lab think when I didn't show up?"
"Felicity, calm down before you have another panic attack," Oliver warned her.
"Too late," she panted, breathing in shallow breaths.
She was so focused on trying to breathe that she didn't notice that Oliver had leaned closer until she felt his lips press against hers. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she kissed him back.
Before long, and much sooner than Felicity would have liked, Oliver was pulling back out of the kiss.
"How do you feel now?" he quietly asked.
"You can shut me up like that anytime," she murmured, humming to herself.
"Do you need shutting up often?" he asked, grinning.
Felicity coughed, not realizing she'd said that out loud. "Oh, um, yeah, I have a tendency to babble, if you hadn't noticed."
"I hadn't, but I'll keep that in mind," he promised, tracing a finger down her arm.
Even through the long sleeved shirt she was wearing, his touch set her skin on fire. The cave suddenly seemed too warm and Felicity jumped to her feet. Tugging on the ends of her sleeves, she inched her way towards the opening. "I'm just going to go and get some air," she announced and practically tripped over her feet making her escape.
"Don't go too far," Oliver called after her.
"I won't," she called back as she collapsed against the cave entrance.
Felicity leaned her head back against the rock and closed her eyes. How had she gone from being the geeky IT girl to someone who could be kissed by Oliver Queen? She supposed that she wasn't the one who changed, just her circumstances. Oliver would have probably kissed any girl who washed ashore on his island of purgatory that was having a panic attack. It wasn't necessarily because he wanted to kiss her , but because he wanted to distract her. And boy did it work.
When she opened her eyes again, she was surprised to see that the sun was still out.
"Hey, Oliver," she called, "can you come out here?"
"What's up?" he asked as he emerged from the cave.
"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Felicity asked, looking up.
He looked towards the sky. "I'm not sure, but the sun should be setting soon."
"Is there somewhere we can go to watch it?" she asked.
"Maybe tomorrow," he suggested. "I think you should rest some more before attempting the hike we'll need to go on to reach a good spot where the trees won't be in the way."
"Oh, okay." Felicity tried not to sound too disappointed. "What do you usually do after dark?"
"Sleep, mostly," Oliver answered. "Not much else to do. Sometimes I read for a while, but I usually turn in before long."
"You have books?" Felicity perked up. "Mine are all on my Nook, which is back at my hotel."
"Some," Oliver confirmed. "I have a few different places to crash around the island and keep a couple at each."
"How did you come to have so many? I assume they didn't get here the same way you did."
"Uh, no. There was a military base on the island when I first arrived. It's since been, um, abandoned, but some of their possessions were left behind. They're the ones who had the SAT phones and radios. Once it was clear they weren't coming back, I went through what was left behind and distributed it around the island."
"Is that where these clothes came from?" Felicity asked, plucking at her shirt.
Oliver couldn't meet her eyes when he said, "Yes." It wasn't entirely a lie. They were Shado's and she had come to them from the base.
"Which is your favorite?" Felicity asked, pulling Oliver out of his memories.
"The Odyssey," Oliver immediately answered. "It's one of the few books I read in college and it saved my life here on the island. Besides, it's about a man trying to get home. I feel like Odysseus is kind of a kindred spirit."
"Do you have that one here?" Felicity asked, nodding towards the interior of the cave.
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"Would you read it to me?"
"You don't want to just read it yourself?" he asked. He'd never been that comfortable reading aloud.
"It's your favorite. We should both get to enjoy it," Felicity offered, ducking back inside. Instead of sitting by the fire, she went over to the pallet she'd slept on earlier and sat down.
Oliver followed her inside, marveling at this girl's thoughtfulness.
He went to an alcove Felicity hadn't noticed before and returned with a book in his hands. He sat near the fire, on the side nearest to Felicity.
She adjusted her ponytail so it was at the base of her neck, removed her glasses, and then lay on her side, facing Oliver. She watched him as he began to read.
"'Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy...'"
Footnote: Chapter ended with quote from The Odyssey by Homer.
The taxi dropped Felicity off at the marina and she thanked the driver as best she could in her guide book Chinese. She looked at the piece of paper in her hand that the hotel clerk had given her with the boat name and slip number on it. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to find it given her complete lack of understanding of Chinese.
As she wandered down the rows of piers, she saw a woman with long white hair. She'd never seen such a young woman with such white hair, let alone a Chinese woman with white hair. She tried to look away when the woman looked in her direction, but then she called her by name.
"Ms. Smoak?" she queried.
"Yes, that's me. Are you the one taking me on the tour?"
"Yes, I'm the one taking you out," the woman virtually purred. "Right this way."
Felicity clutched her bag and followed the woman down the pier and onto a small luxury boat. There was something about this woman that put her teeth on edge, and it wasn't just her creepy hair. But since she couldn't put her finger on her discomfort, Felicity followed.
There were two men on the boat and they set off as soon as they were settled in the cabin.
"Oh, no one else is on the tour?" Felicity observed, having assumed this was a formal tour.
"Did the note not say that it was a private tour?" the woman asked.
"It did, but I thought that just meant it was just me from my company. Not that there wouldn't be anyone else, period."
"This should be more enjoyable," the woman insisted. "No annoying tourists to distract us."
"I'm a tourist," Felicity pointed out. "Well, not really, but I'm certainly not a local."
"But you are in town for business, not sightseeing."
"I'm hoping to do some of both," Felicity countered. "That's why I'm here now, right?"
"Right," the woman agreed, settling back in her seat. "Why don't you go up on deck and watch the scenery."
Felicity did as suggested and went to sit on the deck. She pulled her cardigan close around her, glad she'd thought to bring it as it was much cooler out on the water, with the wind and spray. The boat seemed to be moving pretty quickly and it felt like in no time at all they were out in open water.
This was the strangest tour that she had ever been on, Felicity thought. There was no one there telling her what she was seeing. She was practically alone out here. Just her and her thoughts and the crew. And that woman. Felicity shuddered.
She noticed the boat seemed to be slowing and then it stopped. She looked around, but there was nothing to see. She could barely even see Hong Kong from here, let alone any islands.
She was just about to go ask that woman what was going on when she emerged from below deck.
"What's going on? Why are we stopped?" Felicity asked, butterflies swarming in her stomach that had nothing to do with seasickness.
"Give me the tablet," the woman demanded.
"I'm sorry, what?" Why did this woman want her tablet?
"The new tablet Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences is developing," she clarified. "Give it to me."
This time her demand was punctuated by a knife dropping out from the palm of her hand.
Felicity clutched her bag to her chest. She knew the safest thing to do would be to hand it over, but if there was something on the tablet that this scary woman wanted, it probably wasn't a good thing, and she wasn't about to give it up if it was something bad.
"I'm sorry, but I can't do that," Felicity said.
The men came out from wherever they'd been hiding and took flanking positions behind the woman.
"I don't want to hurt you, but I need that tablet," the woman repeated. "Hand it over."
"No," Felicity defiantly countered. "I don't know what you need my tablet for, but if you feel like you have to take it by force then I don't think you should have it. Take me back. Now. Please."
"Isn't that cute, she's trying to do the right thing," the woman sneered. "If you won't play nice…" She turned to the men behind her, "Take it from her."
Felicity looked around, desperate for somewhere to run to. Somewhere to hide. But there was nothing.
Nothing but water.
"Thank you swimming requirement in high school," she thought to herself as she threw the strap of her messenger bag across her body, pulled it tight and dove into the water as one of the men made a grab for her.
Felicity surfaced and immediately began to swim. She didn't know where she was going, but she had to get away from that boat.
The sound of a bullet whizzed past her ear and she looked back to see the woman aiming a gun at her.
Taking a deep breath, Felicity ducked under the water, swimming as hard as she could, trying to gain some distance.
Except then she heard the boat's engine roar back to life.
She surfaced just long enough to take another deep breath of air and dove again. She saw the boat coming near her, but was able to move out of its path. Somehow she managed to avoid being seen each time she surfaced for air until she was left alone in the ocean, miles from land.
"No," she cried out, realizing she was probably going to die out there in the water.
"No," she cried out again, flailing around as she began to cry.
Words began to break through to her.
"Hey, you're okay. You're safe," Oliver said, trying to pin her arms.
Felicity sat up, sobbing. "Oliver?"
"Shush, I'm here," he said, pulling her into his arms.
Felicity cried, clinging to his solid presence. "I remember," she sobbed. "I remember what happened."
"Shush, it's over now. Take deep breaths, you're safe now," he said, stroking her hair.
"Safe?" Felicity wailed, pushing back from him. "I'm trapped on some island in the middle of nowhere with no way to get home. How is that safe?"
Oliver winced. "Okay, maybe safe wasn't the right word. I just meant that whatever had happened is over."
"What if they're still looking for me?" Felicity asked. "I wasn't randomly targeted. She needed something from me, specifically. That's why she took me away from civilization to get it from me."
"Get what?" Oliver asked; his senses on high alert after working for A.R.G.U.S. for the past year. Dread filled him. "Who is she?"
"I don't know who she was. Some Chinese woman with long white hair. She didn't introduce herself, come to think of it. Oliver, what's wrong?"
Oliver had gone pale and sat back from his kneeling position, hard.
"Chien Na Wei," he whispered. "Her name is Chien Na Wei and she is bad news. What did she want from you?"
"My tablet. The new one from QC that I was here to work on. She needed mine for some reason. I've only had it for a day so I haven't had time to play around with it much yet, so I have no idea what could be on it that she wants. I just knew that if someone was willing to kill me for it, it couldn't be anything good and I shouldn't give it to her."
"Your instincts were correct. Always listen to them," Oliver said. "She's an assassin for the Triad."
"Am I supposed to know what that means?" Felicity asked, confused.
"I'm very glad that you don't. The Triad is the largest criminal organization in China."
"How do you know about them? About her?"
"The people who had me in Hong Kong were trying to take down Chien Na Wei. Several months ago I was part of a team that captured her, but she must have escaped," Oliver admitted. "I'm sorry."
"What do you have to be sorry for?" Felicity asked.
"If they had been able to keep her locked up then she wouldn't have been able to go after you," Oliver said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. He'd failed to successfully remove this threat and now Felicity was suffering for it.
Felicity scooted close to Oliver, resting a hand on his knee. "If my tablet is as important as she seems to think it is, then they would have sent someone else after me instead."
As much as the thought of that chilled her to the bones, she knew it was true. She didn't want Oliver to beat himself up over something that would have happened one way or the other.
"Maybe," he conceded. "You should probably try to get some more rest."
"I don't know if I'll be able to fall back to sleep after that."
Oliver nodded his head in understanding. He was about to return to his spot in front of the fire when Felicity increased the pressure on his knee to prevent him from getting up.
"Would you mind holding me?" she shyly asked. "At least until I fall asleep again?"
"Of course," Oliver said, motioning for her to move over.
Felicity turned on her side, facing the wall and Oliver crawled onto the pallet behind her, covering them both with the blanket. He curled one arm under his head and tentatively placed his other hand around her waist.
"Is this okay?" he asked, his breath caressing her neck.
"Mm-hm," Felicity agreed, trying to calm her racing heart, wondering why she thought this might be a good idea. "Good night, Oliver."
"Good night, Felicity. Sweet dreams."
She had a feeling that with him so close, they would be.
There were fingers running through her hair.
That was the first thing Felicity noticed as she began to wake up.
The second thing she noticed was that she was pressed up against a very warm, very male body and her head was pillowed on his chest.
She sighed in contentment, feeling warm and safe.
At least until her brain remembered where she was and how she'd come to be there.
Felicity sat up suddenly, startling Oliver.
"Good morning," he greeted her.
"'Morning," Felicity acknowledged. "Sorry, I didn't mean to end up using you for a pillow."
"I didn't mind," Oliver said, sitting up himself.
"You, um, wouldn't happen to have a little girl's bush tucked away somewhere, would you?" Felicity nervously asked. "And I assume a shower would be too much to hope for?"
Oliver forced himself not to laugh at how adorable she was to ask. He thought about it and as much as he hated the place, he knew where he had to take her.
"That military camp I mentioned had some showers and outhouses. We can go there, if you think you can wait," he offered.
"How long will it take to get there?"
"An hour, maybe," Oliver said.
Felicity thought about it. She wasn't sure if she could wait that long, but an outhouse sounded much better than squatting in the woods.
"Okay, let's go there. What about my stuff?" she asked. She found her glasses and slipped them on as she got up.
"Your call. We can either leave it here or move on to a different site tonight."
She didn't really want to move the tablet and phone while they were disassembled, but if she could be near some semblance of a bathroom, she'd do it. "Couldn't we just stay in the camp?"
Oliver clenched his jaw. That camp meant nothing but pain and death to him. He generally avoided it as much as possible.
One glance at the hopeful look on Felicity's face told him he'd be spending more time there than he ever imagined.
"Fine," he bit out. "Pack up all your stuff and bring it with us."
"Can you bring The Odyssey too?" she asked, hoping she wasn't pushing him too far. She could see that he wasn't happy with the idea of staying in this camp for some reason. Did he have something against the military? "I know it's one of the books you read here, but I'd like us to continue reading it."
"You fell asleep after the first part," Oliver pointed out.
"Maybe so, but I still liked hearing you read it to me."
"Alright, we'll bring the book, too," Oliver agreed.
Felicity hurried over to where she had her tech dismantled and tried to figure out the best way to transport them. They really should have a least another day of drying out before she reassembled them.
Turning to Oliver, she asked, "I suppose it's too much to hope for a couple of Ziplock bags?"
"Fresh out," Oliver responded.
"I figured," Felicity sighed. "All right then." She carefully began to gather the components and set them back inside the casings and then folded both the phone and tablet securely into the towel. Once she was satisfied with her packaging, she slipped the bundle into her bag. She grabbed her dress and sweater from where they had been drying; frowning at how stiff they were from the salt water.
"I suppose laundry facilities are too much to hope for too?" she asked, holding the dress awkwardly away from her.
"Machines, yes. But there's soap and wash basins at the camp. They'll have to air dry again, but it'll be better than what you've got there."
"A man who can cook and do laundry," Felicity commented, "be still my heart."
Picking up his bow and quiver, Oliver asked, "You ready?"
"Lead on," Felicity said with one last look around the cave. She hoped the camp would be a little more comfortable, even if this place had been pretty cozy.
Felicity stumbled along behind Oliver, keeping an eye out for landmines for what felt like much more than an hour, but that was probably because she wasn't used to trekking through the woods like this. She preferred her exercise in a nice, well-lit, landmine-free gym.
They didn't talk much on the long walk, Oliver on high alert, although she didn't know for what if they were alone.
"Are there dangerous animals here or something?" she finally asked him.
"No, why would you think that?"
"Well, you're like, super-vigilant right now. Like you're expecting to be attacked at any moment. I wanted to know what you thought could attack us."
Oliver tried to force himself to relax, but his reflexes had a mind of their own. "Old habit," he apologized. "There's nothing that can harm us, now."
"But there used to be?" Felicity pressed.
"Yeah. The military base we're going to, they hunted me and my friends my first year on this island. I guess I got used to always being on the lookout for an attack from them."
"Wait a minute, we're going to the base of people who hunted you?" Felicity exclaimed.
"You can understand my reluctance to go there, now," Oliver replied.
"Then why are we going there?"
"Because you wanted a bathroom and a shower and to do laundry," Oliver huffed. "Unfortunately, the base is the only place on the island with things for that."
"But, it has bad memories for you," Felicity said, knowingly.
"It does," Oliver agreed. "Look, I've gotten used to roughing it, but I'm sure it would be harder for you. No offense. I can deal with being there for a while if it'll make being here easier for you."
"So, you'll stay with me?" Felicity asked, embarrassed by how relieved she was that he would.
"I'm certainly not going to leave you to fend for yourself. Even without any other people here, this is a dangerous place."
"Thank you." No sooner than the words were uttered, they came into a clearing with the remains of the base laid out before them. "Oh, thank you!" Felicity groaned as she saw what was clearly the outhouse and began to run for it.
Oliver continued walking, slowing his pace, knowing he'd have to wait for her anyway. His eyes scanned over the remains of the base. He hadn't been here since he'd been back on the island. It looked much the same as it had the last time he'd been here. Some of the tents were still standing, including the one that had belonged to Fyers.
He found himself standing at the opening to Fyers' tent, remembering the last time he'd been here. He could see Yao Fei standing there in his military uniform spewing the lies Fyers had fed him before he fell from a bullet between the eyes. Oliver felt the rage he'd felt then, the helplessness.
Would he have been able to stop it if all that had happened now? He was stronger now; a better fighter. Could he have gotten out of his bindings and stopped Fyers from killing the first friend he'd made here? His first mentor. Shado's father.
He supposed it didn't matter. It was the past and he couldn't go back and fix it.
He was pulled out of his memories by Felicity popping up behind him.
"Is this where we're staying?" she asked, trying to see over his shoulder.
"No," Oliver snapped. "Not this tent. I c-can't… No." He took a deep breath and turned around. Something in his eyes must have conveyed his struggles because Felicity didn't ask why. "Any other tent should be fine."
Without a word, Felicity turned and started to examine the other tents that were still intact. She found one with a cot, blanket, footlocker and table. She supposed it wouldn't get homier than this.
"Found one," she called out, poking her head out the flap to see where Oliver had got to.
"I'm over here," he said from the other side of the tent, so she looked out the flap on that side.
"Oh good, you found one nearby," Felicity said. She was glad that he wouldn't be too far away if she had another nightmare. Another bad memory. "Come on in," she offered, heading back inside her tent.
Once Oliver had joined her, Felicity began to unwrap the tablet and phone on the table. She separated everything out again to continue to dry. "After I finish this, I'd really love to find that shower and wash my dress." She spun to face him. "Are there any provisions here? Like, food?"
"I can show you where the shower is and how to operate it. Although I'm not sure if you'll be able to find a clean towel. Maybe we should do some scavenging first, then laundry, and if we find anything to eat along the way, we can do that. You can shower once the towels are dry, if we find any."
"Sounds like a plan," Felicity agreed. "We can start in here."
She crossed to the foot locker and opened it. It was empty.
"Or, we can start with yours," she suggested, gesturing for Oliver to go to his tent.
There was nothing of interest in his tent either. "I doubt we're going to find much of anything around here," he said. "We went through this stuff pretty thoroughly and removed most of the useful stuff already."
"Even the food?" Felicity asked, forlornly.
"Especially the food," Oliver confirmed.
"Well then, where do you keep most of your food stores? I'm guessing you don't just eat things you've killed."
"I mainly live in this cargo plane fuselage that crashed here several years ago. It's on the north end of the island," Oliver admitted. "I never come here and the other dens are for if I get caught out after dark."
"Oh," Felicity sounded disappointed. "It was silly of me to think there would be all this stuff still here for us to use."
"There was, it's just been a few years since this place was abandoned and we've pretty much picked it clean."
Felicity sank onto the cot, resting her face in her hands. "I don't know what I'm doing here," she moaned.
"You're stranded, just like me," Oliver said, coming to sit next to her. "It took me a long time to get used to life on this island. A very long time." He chuckled to himself. "You should have seen me the first time I had to kill a bird for my dinner. I was pathetic. I had never killed anything in my life but I learned that survival was most important. So I adapted."
Felicity turned to face him, tears wetting her eyes but refusing to fall. "I don't want to learn these things. I want to go back to my nice comfortable apartment and my nice comfortable IT job. I don't want to have to learn how to survive on less than nothing."
"Neither did I," Oliver said, no censure in his voice. "What choice is there, though?"
Slapping his thighs, Oliver stood. "C'mon, let's go check out the mess tent. Maybe there's something there we missed before."
"You think there will be anything there?" Felicity asked, hopefully.
"Only one way to know for sure."
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