AN – Not sure where this came from as I fully intended to just rest until the new episode tomorrow but this suddenly sprang to my mind and wouldn't leave. This is definitely a quick little stand-alone unrelated to the Vigilante/ Team Arrow series but I hope you guys enjoy it anyway!
DISCLAIMER – Would love to "own" Oliver Queen but alas that's not the case unfortunately! No infringement intended, no profit gained.
Before the island, Oliver Queen unknowingly floated through life in a dream-like state. He would have easily and proudly told anyone of the fun he'd had whether it was his exploits with women or his brushes with the law. Everything was at his fingertips and he took everything offered with no thought. His life was bright, fast, easy and required little of him. However, Oliver's memories of his fun were always a little unclear, imprecise, blurry but he always blamed that on the alcohol. He sped through life, through women, unaware, unconcerned and untouched…that was all before the island though.
The island taught him how to survive and survival is unequivocally intertwined with awareness. Time and necessity taught him to process information differently. He learned to recognize the scent of water as water is essential for survival. He could feel the dampness of the cave sinking into his bones in the early morning hours before it was warmed by the sun. He could hear the rain drops on the rocks, the leaves and even on his skin. He became familiar with the gritty feel of the dirt in his hands, the texture and scent of individual plants, the taste of individual animals. The weight of each arrow and the tension in his bow became part of him. He could also smell blood, others and his own. He knew the feel of a blade slicing through skin, others and his own. His world, his survival was dependent on his senses and his processing of the information – fight or flight was the survivor's only options.
When he first arrived home he cursed the fact that the pre-island memories were just dull aches whereas the island remained a fresh wound constantly fighting for his awareness. The island memories were not pleasant but they were crystal clear and emblazoned into his very being. An unexpected side effect of his survival skills was that he often found his old life overwhelming. He was distracted by his new impressions of the old sights, sounds, scents of this world whether it was fine silk, old brandy, worn leather or the scent of a woman's perfume. There were times when his senses were overloaded and yet the information still seeped into his brain as if on its own accord and he wasn't sure what to do about it – fight or flight.
He uses his survival senses on his missions as the Hood and now as the Arrow, always to his advantage, always under his command. He can hear not only hear footsteps but gain knowledge of the person's build, style. He can anticipate what attack a fighter will chose based on his or her body movements or even their eyes. He's comfortable in the darkness of the night as he simply uses his other senses to process his environment and opponent – the sharp smell of a recently fired gun, the heavy footfall of the wounded, the metallic clangs of his new urban jungle. He sees the world differently than others and it's an advantage here. His survival skills stay sharp and are perfectly suited to his night life as he chooses – fight or flight.
It was only after the Count that he first realized Felicity's presence pulls at his survival senses differently than others and commands much of his attention. It wasn't that he wasn't aware of her before, didn't process her as he did others because he did. He didn't lie to her when he said he checked her out before he brought her on his team. He noted when she switched to a new shampoo, placed his hand often at her elbow just to feel the softness of skin there, he cringed when the Count fondled the silky hair of her ponytail, he always knew the color of her fingernails, he thought of her when he smelled cinnamon as that was the gum she favored, her voice was now the one he found himself listening to even if it was only in his own head and it was her laugh that first made him smile. He's known the sights, sounds and scents of Felicity Smoak since meeting her. He does not, however, know her taste and he finds more and more of his thoughts are focused on the need to discover that – fight or flight.