FF#1: Strategic Withdraw
Flash Fic Prompt #1: Into The Wild
Queen Consolidated's company retreats were famous. In fact, they were one of the reasons why Felicity had accepted a position at the Starling City based corporation following graduation from college. After all, Starling City itself was certainly not a draw. The company retreats, however?
For a girl born and raised in Vegas and then educated in Boston, she had actually seen very little of the country. Forget about the world. There had been no Smoak family car trips growing up, no cross-country drives between MIT and the apartment her mother had lived in all of Felicity's life. She had even missed out on those right-of-passage spring break vagina-tions every female, college student was supposed to participate in. A full scholarship covered a lot of things but not drunken debauchery on South Beach.
So, yeah, that's where the QC company retreats came in and played a roll in Felicity's life-making decisions. If she could get an all-expense, luxury vacation (albeit one with her coworkers) as a bonus for doing what she loved for a multinational, multi-billion dollar conglomerate? Sign her up. And she had signed... right on the dotted line, her signature large, and flowing, and proud.
There was a catch, however. Because of how sick the retreats were, only a portion of the company went every year, based partly on job performance and partly on schedule. A few years before she joined QC, the tradition was to take a department or two for a week-long cruise. From Starling City, to some tropical port, and then back again, lucky employees were treated to seven days of sunshine and sea air on board the Queen's Gambit. But then,thathappened – i.e. half of the Queen family went down with their ship, and that particular company retreat itinerary sunk like a cell phone being dropped into a toilet... which, first hand, Felicity could attest to. (Sidenote, don't use your cleavage as an emergency purse... no matter how convenient, fun (hello, vibrations from incoming test messages), and sweaty (who doesn't like a little lady perspiration?) said emergency purse might be.)
Anyway, after the Queen's Gambit made like the Titanic, the company retreat had been retooled slightly, but it still rocked enough to make Felicity commit to the rudderless company. Since she had started at QC, not only had it gained some leadership after Moira Queen entered into the Steele business, but the company retreats had continued. There had been a wine-country (read, wine-tasting) excursion to Napa, Ship Week in San Diego (hello, sailers!), and even a train ride through Canada (she had a thing for trains thanks to Agatha Christie and Canadians because ofBrother Bear). Alas, however, not once during all her years so far at Queen Consolidated (okay, so only four, but it seemed so much longer when all her co-workers were being spoiled by trips and she was stuck looking at Bert and Ernie's love children in the IT Department day in and day out) had Felicity been one of the lucky corporate retreat recipients.
Until that year.
It was strange, because usually the retreats came during the summer months, but who was she to look a gift-trip horse in the mouth? (Besides, horse teeth were frightening large.) So, when the email went out, informing Felicity to pack warm, because she, her entire, disproportionately hairy department, and the security department would be leaving Starling City for an entire week, the dance she performed wasn't just happy; it was ecstatic. Given the Queen's tendency towards the extravagant and the instructions to dress like a ski bunny, Felicity had immediately assumed either Aspen or Big Bear, and she had always wanted to go to Aspen or Big Bear. Not to ski, of course. Skiing was dangerous. But to stay at some ritzy ski resort, flirt with ski instructors, and find out for herself just how good of an exercise skiing really was. Oh, and the hot tubs! Hot tubs surrounded by snow and ice were always more inviting, right?
So, with a mountain of luggage and an even bigger mountain of expectations, Felicity had shown up at QC headquarters that morning with a smile only rivaled by a toothpaste model's. It had dimmed slightly when they weren't immediately escorted to the airport, but she had justified the road trip with ideas of inter-company bonding. When they bypassed the exit that would have taken them inland towards Colorado and all of herAspen Extreme fantasies, Felicity had felt a twinge of disappointment, but she consoled herself with thoughts of Big Bear... only they didn't head South either. Instead, their caravan of SUV's only drove them a couple of hours into the wilderness that was the California countryside, no slopes, snow, or blonde-haired Scandinavian men in sight. Her anticipation had dimmed accordingly, but it did not flicker out entirely until she was dropped off unceremoniously in the middle of nowhere, the SUV's pulling away to leave her surrounding by sweaty, balding middle-aged men, nature, and Oliver Queen.
ATroop Beverly Hills camping trip this was not.
Felicity felt so dejected, she wanted to cry; she felt so betrayed, she wanted to scream; she felt so annoyed that everything else was pushed back and ignored in favor of her go-to reaction when pushed to the extremes emotionally: sarcasm.
Oliver – who hadabsolutely nothing to do with the company whatsoever (thank god, the guy was an imbecilic, skirt-chasing freeloader) – was prattling on about trust, and survival, and, in lay-man's terms, the bathroom buddy system when Felicity just couldn't take the insult of his presence, let alone his sparkly eyes, and dimples, and muscles, and stupid pretty face any longer. So, she snorted, and, from where she was standing in the back of the group, snarked to the person next to her, "five years on a tropical island and suddenly he thinks he's Bear Grylls.
Several co-workers around her snickered, which, admittedly, made Felicity feel slightly better about herself (if not their regrettable situation)... that was until Oliver started walking towards her, the crowd parting for him like he was Moses (or had the personal hygiene habits of Moses). Traitors. "Ah, Miss Smoak, is it?" By the smirk on his idiotic, handsome face (and by the way his eyes had flickered down towards her name-tagged chest and lingered there for several unnecessary seconds... unless, you know, he was having difficulty with her name, given that it had more than two syllables – after all, he had referred to her by her surname only, and he was dumb enough to fail out of four schools), he knew exactly who she was, so Felicity did not give him the satisfaction of responding.
By the time he was standing directly before her, they were only inches apart, and, unfortunately, she couldn't find a single complaint with his hygiene habits. He smelled... like every single one of her sexual fantasies. Oy. "You know, I want to thank you for being such a team-player and good sport about this. It's nice to see someone embracing something new and different." Briefly, Oliver looked away from her to address the rest of the group, his grin too bright, too brittle, too beautiful to be real. "I'm aware that this isn't the type of company retreat you're used to or that you were expecting, but I promise you that it'll be a week you never forget."
"If we manage to survive that long," Felicity grumbled.
She shouldn't have, though, because it just brought Oliver's attention back to her that much sooner. "I also want to thank Miss Smoak for volunteering. While the rest of you will be sharing cabins just a few klicks away from here, she will be staying with me. In a tent." Before Felicity could object with a question, he supplied an answer, "unfortunately, there just weren't enough cabins for everyone." Turning his back towards her, Oliver sauntered away, pausing briefly to toss over his shoulder, "by the way, Miss Smoak, it was a temperate island, not tropical."
Forget her survival. A week with Oliver 'I'm-A-Pompous-Butthole-Playboy' Queen? She was going to kill him.
Dusting off his hands, Oliver turned around to face Felicity who he assumed was watching him put together their tent (judging by her silence) only to find her bent over, nose buried in a tablet. "What the hell do you think you're doing," he snapped at her, striding across the opening in which they were encamped and snatching the electronic device from her grasp.
"The email said no cell phones," she explained, already reaching desperately towards him and her contraband. "It said absolutely nothing about tablets or laptops. Now," she huffed, standing up and holding a hand out towards him. "Give that back."
Pivoting away from her, Oliver made his way towards the small stream that ran through the woods, Felicity hot on his heels and complaining the entire way. She was whining about how he couldn't expect her to go a week without checking her email, without the internet, without Flappy Bird... whatever the hell that was. "How do you even have signal out here," he questioned. While he knew she was smart – hell, that was why he was on this ridiculous retreat with QC's nerd squad, he had intentionally picked their location because of its remoteness.
And then she was off to the races again,bitching. Oliver sighed, and immediately went back to ignoring Felicity, trampling through the underbrush and not caring that she wasn't dressed properly to be following him. She'd either find sturdy shoes and clothes from one of her fifteen bags eventually. Or she wouldn't. Either way, he didn't care. What he did care about, however, was the fact that, no matter what, Felicity Smoak could not be online while they were gone on their little trip to nowhere.
After trying – and failing, thanks to one annoyingly good at her job IT girl who made a late-night trip into work after he tripped some alarm on her computer – to break into QC's network and get some information on his mother, only managing to escape her detection by hiding in the crawl space above the ceiling tiles in her office, he had come up with the ridiculous plan to get anyone and everyone out of the building who could potentially become wise to what he was trying to do. While he distracted the IT and security departments with a bogus company retreat, Digg had stayed back in Starling and, with some men he trusted, was combing through Queen Consolidated's computer system and installing means for them to keep tabs on not only his mother but everything the company was doing.
And the last thing he needed was Felicity Smoak to ruin his plansyet again.
Without ceremony, he tossed her tablet into the stream, only to have to scramble and latch onto the fiery blonde when she tried to launch herself into the water after it. "What the hell do you think you're doing," she screeched, returning his earlier question and, all the while, struggling against his hold around her waist. He wasn't sure if she was protesting his actions with her tablet... or with her. All Oliver knew was that it was going to be one hell of a long week.
And that was before her shirt rode up, and the bare skin of his forearm touched that of her stomach.
Son of a...