A/N: So I decided to jump into the Flash Fiction challenge posted by Smoak and Arrow on Tumblr. I'm a bit behind, so this is a response to the first prompt "Into the Wild". I've never written flash fiction before, and this story surprised me by going in a direction I didn't foresee, and with only an hour to write I just went with it. It was supposed to be about the wild world of job hunting and instead it ended up being about something very different. Anyway, thanks for reading.
"Unfortunately, Oliver, my supervisor just doesn't think you're the right fit for us," David Edwards said, his voice sounding sincere.
"Right, yeah. I understand," Oliver replied, trying to keep the disappointment from creeping into his voice.
"But don't give up hope," Edwards said. "Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from you, but I was fairly impressed with your interview, so keep at it."
Oliver wasn't sure if the backhanded compliment made him feel better or worse. "Okay, thanks."
"Give Walter my best, will you?" Edwards said.
"Sure thing. Thanks," Oliver said hitting the disconnect button with a sigh. Edwards parting shot reminded him that the only reason he'd even been able to get an interview with Brown Technical was that Walter had gone to bat for him.
He sank down into the chair in front of him, it was an uncomfortable and rather battered folding chair, yet another reminder in his change in circumstances. He pinched the bridge of his nose, and let out a small sigh of relief when he heard footsteps behind him – the undeniable sound of high heels on a concrete floor.
He looked up, so grateful she was here. He opened his mouth to greet her has he turned and then froze. "Laurel."
She looked uncertain, and he knew the look on his face probably wasn't helping with that. "Hey," she said quietly.
"I…uh…didn't know you knew…" he trailed off.
"Where you're new secret hideout was?" she finished, giving him a smile that had a bit of an edge. "Is that a problem?"
"No," he said quickly, too quickly, and her smile grew even more strained.
"Bad day?" she asked, nodding toward the phone.
He tilted his head and stood up, walking away from her. "I don't really want to talk about it. Just didn't get a job I'd hoped for."
She nodded. "Well, it's tough out there, law of the jungle and all that - especially in this job market." Then she stopped and gave him a little eye roll, "Not that you'd have much previous experience with that."
It was obviously meant as a joke, an old standby of hers to needle him about his wealth. It had never been his favorite thing about her, and right at this moment it stung.
Silence fell between them – the awkwardness of it grating on his frayed nerves. Still, she hadn't really done anything to deserve to be the focus of his bad mood so he tried to give her a friendly smile. "Is there something you wanted?"
She shrugged. "We just really hadn't talked since…everything, and I wondered if you wanted to."
He didn't want to talk to her. Why didn't he? He'd always blamed this strangeness he felt with her on the fact that he was forced to lie to her, but now that she'd found out he was the Arrow he knew that wasn't true. "I guess…"
The words were cut off by the sound of another set of heels, rapid fire, and the sight of Felicity hurrying into the room. "Oh good, you're here," she said, breezing past him in a blur of pink skirt and purple fingernails. He smiled as she moved directly to her new computer - the one she'd paid for herself - and began typing without even sitting down.
"I've got an idea about tracking down that car theft ring," she said quickly. "I thought if I cross referenced the DMV database and…" she noticed suddenly that Oliver wasn't the only one in the room. She smiled politely and said, "Hey Laurel." Then without waiting for a reply she continued, "Anyway, the DMV database with the list of cars they've previously stolen, we might be able to…"
Laurel's eyes narrowed. "Hacking into the DMV is a federal offense, you know."
Felicity froze, looking startled. "Well…technically yes."
Laurel folded her arms across her chest. "And I'm an assistant DA."
Felicity shot Oliver a panicked look and he cleared his throat. "And I'm wanted for murder, obstruction of justice, and about twenty-seven other things," he said pointedly.
Laurel blinked and turned to Oliver. "Right, sorry. Reflex."
He grunted in reply, and took a deep breath. The room went oddly quiet and Oliver looked to where Felicity was twisting her fingers uncomfortably, obviously unsure about what to do next. Giving her a reassuring nod he said, "Go for it."
"Right," she said, giving him a grateful smile in return, and turning back to her monitors.
When he looked at Laurel again there was a look in her eyes that he recognized from back when they were dating, a combination of suspicion, judgment, and sadness. The only difference was that back then he'd deserved it. "Everything okay?" he asked.
She nodded quickly. "I guess I just thought…" she shook her head. "Never mind, I'll let the two of you get back to work."
"Great," Oliver said, walking to where Felicity was now seated typing furiously on the keyboard. He put his hand on the back of her chair and turned to Laurel. "Thanks for stopping by."
For a moment she looked really sad, but it disappeared so quickly he wondered if he'd missed it.
"Yeah, sure. See you later," she said turning to walk out of the room.
As the sound of her footsteps receded, Felicity stopped typing and very quietly said. "Did I interrupt something?"
He frowned, and then shook his head. "No, of course not. She just dropped by to say hello."
"That was nice…I guess," Felicity said.
"Yeah," he said with a shrug. Taking a deep breath he said. "Do you have a minute?"
"Of course," she turned from the monitors. "What's up?"
He folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the dented desk. "Edwards called."
Felicity's hand came out to rest on his forearm. "I take from your tone of voice that you're not the newest employee of Brown Technology?" She said, looking up at him with obvious sympathy.
He shook his head. "Though he said I did better in the interview than he'd expected."
Felicity let out an annoyed huff and shook her head. "Their loss."
It was good to hear, even if he didn't quite believe it. "I'm not exactly the most qualified candidate in the world," he said. "I did sign my last company away to the minion of a homicidal maniac."
"Oh, that," Felicity said with a grin. "No big deal."
He couldn't help but smile a little at that. "Not sure everyone else sees it that way."
The small soft hand on his arm squeezed gently and for the first time he truly felt the tension of the phone call ease from him. Her eyes when she met his were steady and reassuring. "Don't worry if you can survive the wilds of Lian Yu, I'm sure you can survive anything, even job hunting."
For a moment he didn't even know how to respond. Finally he settled for two easy words. "Thank you."
"Anytime," she told him, moving her hand back to the keyboard. "Would it help if I found you some car thieves to beat up on?"
He nodded and stood up, moving toward where his green suit rested in a packing crate. It was time to get back to work.