Hey, it's me again. I know some of you were hoping for a Soundtrack-sequel, but I'm really in the mood for something new. This story is different from the last one, but I hope you will enjoy it anyway. It's set after season two, before the beginning of season three. Please note that even though – as some people have rightfully pointed out to me – the last time the M-rating was a bit of an overkill, I am serious about it this time. Later chapters will have very mature content. Consider yourself warned.
I also want to thank two wonderful girls for the time and effort they invested to help me get this story started. Wordscreatereality and Vickstik both were kind enough to give me their input and pointed out some stupid mistakes I made in the beginning. Their help really improved this and I am thankful. They are amazing.
Okay, enough said. Let's get this started. As always: Reviews are love and I would love to know what you think about this!
I do not own the Arrow. No copyright infringement intended.
1. The only way to go is down
The first thing he noticed was the smell. The combination of wet wood and saturated earth was so familiar to him that it triggered reflexes he hadn't used in two years. One moment he had been laying on the cold, hard and wet ground – the worst possible combination to wake up on –, the next he was standing with his body readied for a fight. He was breathing heavily as he stood there with his knees bent, his fists raised, and his eyes scanning his surroundings. What he saw caused panic to rise inside him, but he fought to push it down. What he saw – even though he wished he could believe that his eyes were playing tricks on him – told him clearly that he needed to keep a clear head.
Regretfully, waking up somewhere he really wished he wouldn't be wasn't a new experience to Oliver Queen. But it had been some time since it had happened. He had really believed to have left that phase of his life behind.
Trying to steady his breathing he let his eyes travel over the trees that surrounded him. Their thin, tall stems reached high up and ended in bushy crowns that barely let any light hit the leaf covered ground where Oliver stood – and where a blond young woman lay next to him, unmoving and with her eyes closed. Even though he hadn't looked at her directly yet, he was very aware of the fact that she was there, he always was aware of her presence. He took another second to make sure nobody else was around, hiding somewhere, waiting for a good moment to attack. Only when he was sure they were alone did he sink to his knees next to Felicity Smoak. Oliver's right hand was slightly shaking when he brought it up to her neck to check for her pulse. Relief flooded him when he found it instantly. She was alive, just unconscious. His hand moved from her neck to her cheek. "Felicity." He spoke softly. He was trying to rouse her gently as much as he was trying to keep quiet in case somebody was close by. His thumb brushed her cheek without him really noticing it. "Felicity," he repeated and added, "wake up." She really was a heavy sleeper, he realized. This was a luxury he had abandoned years ago. Even though, he knew this was hardly natural, healthy sleep. She must have been knocked out just like he had been. But he needed her to wake up, he needed them to get moving, staying in one place for too long was too dangerous. There was more urgency in his voice now. "Felicity, you need to wake up." He could feel her stir, see her eyes move behind her closed eyelids. She needed one last push. "Felicity."
He had been right; this startled her into awareness. She awoke with a start, her eyes huge, staring at him. Then she blinked and asked, "Oliver?" Her voice was coated with sleep. In the next moment, he could practically see her brain warming up and getting ready for work as she realized that she was laying somewhere outside, on the hard ground with Oliver's hand on her cheek.
He let go of her face as she heavily pushed herself into a sitting position. Instantly, she closed her eyes and brought her hand to her forehead. This worried him, he needed to check, "Are you okay?"
She slowly opened her eyes again. "Just a little dizzy," she answered, before she looked around. "Where are we?"
"In a forest. We need to get moving, before whoever brought us here comes back."
But, of course, she wasn't moving. Instead, she had more questions. "Who brought us here? And where exactly is here?" Leaning her head back she looked at the trees reaching far up. Suddenly her head snapped back to him. "Are we on the island? Because this looks like it."
"This isn't Lian Yu." Oliver's voice showed how absolutely sure he was about this.
"But this looks a lot like it."
"Yes," now he sounded very, very tense, "it does." He got up again and held his hand out to her. "Come on. We need to get away from here."
Thankfully, she kept from asking another question and reached for his hand, letting him help her up. Oliver scanned his surroundings again. He really had no idea where they were, he had no idea which way to go from here, one direction was as good as the other.
"My tablet." Felicity's surprised voice ripped him out of his musings. He turned back to took at her and saw that she had bent down again to pick up the electronic device from the ground. She quickly checked it, before she looked up at him, "It's useless. This forest doesn't have wi-fi."
He honestly hadn't expected it to. That would have been too easy. He made a mental note to ask Felicity if she had the tablet with her, when she was... kidnapped. But that could wait. There was more than enough time to think later. Right now they needed to act. He motioned toward where he knew north was. "Come on, this way."
It was only an educated guess, but he believed them to be walking for about two hours. They were still surrounded by trees, but they were getting fewer. The sky was by now visible between the trees and had grey spots that were steadily turning darker. This worried Oliver. The darkening sky wasn't a sign that the sun would set soon – which would be bad enough since he hadn't found a good place for them to safely spend the night. It was a harbinger of bad weather. Really bad weather. The dark clouds were a threatening black with a hint of angry green, which promised a thunderstorm that would most likely catch them surrounded by trees. He had been there and done that, and he really didn't need a repetition; it had been bad enough the first time.
The weather was one of many issues he had added to the mental list he had been compiling since he woke. The potential dangers noted there were of a great variety; beginning with the people who had dropped them here, ending with traps, and with a lot of bad things in-between. Oliver had told Felicity to walk behind him and watch where she was going. He didn't want to witness her stepping onto another landmine. So, basically, he was looking out for everything: for unwanted company in human or animal form, for trip wires and landmines, for the best way to go, for a hideout, for the weather...
"Do you think there are spiders on this island? I have this thing about spiders. And kangaroos. Do you think there could be kangaroos here?"
He didn't glance around and sounded preoccupied when he answered, "I doubt it."
"When we find out who brought us here, I will have a long talk with them. Why would they make sure I have my tablet, but not my jacket? Or walking shoes? I love my red Mary Janes, I love them very much, but they are not made for a hike through the wilderness."
"Felicity..." Oliver spoke quietly, trying to remind her that they needed to be quiet and not draw any attention to themselves just yet. They needed to find safe shelter first, then water, food and craft some kind of weapons.
But after roughly two hours of silence Felicity obviously had to get some things off her chest. "You're lucky you're in your Arrow-pants. Leather's a good material for being outdoors. I'm not even wearing tights. But... Wait! Did they get you at the Foundry? How did they do that? Were your Arrow-senses not tingling?"
"This is bad. Because this means the people who brought us here are really good. I mean really good. The last thing I remember is leaving QC to get to Pilates. But we both know that I was probably pretty easy to grab. It's a little bit embarrassing but still true. But you? You have reflexes like a hawk... Does a hawk have good reflexes? Are you okay with being compared to a hawk? Or would you rather be a panther? Those are fast, I think. And black."
"Maybe you'd prefer a green animal. But I can't think of one other than a frog. And we both know that you're not a frog. Seriously, there has to be another green animal!"
"FELICITY!" He shot around to face her and regretted snapping at her like this in the next moment. Not only because he had yelled really loud, but also because of the very sight of her. She stood there shaking from the cold and most definitely nerves, clutching her tablet to her chest and looking ready to break down any moment now. Oliver knew what Felicity looked like when she was pulling herself together, and right now Felicity looked like she was clutching at the last bits of her fortitude.
He had been in survival-mode as soon as he had woken up, he had analyzed the situation, had snapped into action instantly, going through the motions needed to keep them alive. But offering Felicity one word of comfort had never been a part of this. He was trying to keep her physically safe. His thoughts were focused on this. He hadn't thought to try to comfort her or allay her fears. Instead, he had left Felicity alone with her own thoughts, which just couldn't be good. She was shaking harder by now, and he realized how badly he had fucked up. She didn't just need his protection; she needed his assurance that they would be okay. "Hey..." He took two steps and then he was close enough to place his hand on her shoulder. "We'll get through this." He saw her swallow heavily. She was trying to calm down again, to regain her composure. His fingers closed a little in a comforting squeeze. "We'll figure this out. But we need shelter first, somewhere to hide out. Finding a safe place is the most important thing right now, because a storm is coming. We'll take one step after the other, and this is the first. Okay?"
She nodded. "Okay." She took a deep breath, a little calmer now. "I'm so-"
He stopped her right there, shutting her off with a quick gesture. He tipped his head to the side slightly, and closed his eyes. He was blocking all visual stimuli out, because he needed to concentrate on the sounds around him. He heard the wind between the trees, he believed a waterfall to be somewhere to his right, he heard animal noises and- His eyes snapped open, and in the next moment he pushed Felicity to the ground. He landed on top of her, covering her body with his own as a loud bang cracked through the air. It was followed by a cracking and wood chips spraying as a bullet ripped a hole into the nearest tree. He looked down at her and found her staring up at him with huge eyes. "We get up and we run." There was no time for complicated sentences, this was the time to be functional. Thank God, Felicity knew this tone in his voice, she knew that it was business. She barely took the time to nod. Instead, she followed his example and got up from the floor. She placed her own in his offered hand and then she let him lead the way.
They weren't as fast as he would have liked. High heels really weren't the best footwear for a chase. He pulled her along and she managed to keep up. "Keep your head down," he ordered as a bullet missed his own one by the tiniest margin. He felt it speed by his ear and changed directions in the next moment. His heart was beating heavily in his chest, his grip on her hand was tight and ever tightening, as they ran between trees. He felt Felicity stumble behind him, but he wouldn't let her fall. He reached for her, made her stay up and keep up with him, while she was breathing hard.
Another gunshot ripped through the air, spurring them to go even faster. It was followed by somebody shouting after them. A male voice came from behind them. "Lauft ruhig. Es macht mehr Spaß, wenn ihr rennt."
Oliver had no idea what that meant, but it didn't sound nice. Those weren't nice words. He knew that. His mouth tightened as he looked around, looked for a place to go. But instead the black sky chose this moment to open up. Rain was hitting his face hard and heavily as he ran. After all, when it rains, it pours.
He had no idea where they were going, but he could hear their pursuers catching up. They were coming closer, approaching from different sides, circling them, locking them in, cutting off their escape routes, and he didn't know what to do. All he could do was go ahead, keep running. He didn't know how many were following them, but he feared that there were too many for him to take on alone without leaving Felicity defenseless.
Suddenly, he heard her gasp beside him. He had seen it, too, and it was a reaction that made sense. He stopped instantly, and in the next moment they both stood there, side by side in the pouring rain, on the edge of a cliff. There was nowhere to go but down.
Felicity breath was hard and heavy, she was gasping for air. He was winded himself as he now turned around toward the direction where he knew their chasers were coming from. He stood tall, his gaze hard as he let it sweep over the trees where six people were now emerging. He wanted a good look at them, at their weapons, at their tactics. He also saw an evil smirk on the face of the seventh man, who was now stepping from behind a tree. He was tall, rugged and bald. The crooked nose in his pockmarked face told of many fights. His eyes were light blue, piercing – and fixating on Felicity. "Keine Sorge, meine Kleine," the man said now, the grin turning deeper. "Dich brauchen wir noch. Aber Dein Freund ist uns im Weg." Oliver didn't like this at all, and by the way Felicity's breath was catching in her throat neither did she. "Räumt ihn weg."
This sounded like an order. Oliver didn't feel like finding out what that meant. Instead, he pulled Felicity to his body and jumped, taking the only escape route that was left. Bullets were flying over their heads as gravity grabbed them and didn't let go.