She- Felicity- was late.
Oliver was keenly aware of this as he kept glancing down at his watch, which felt good and solid against his wrist. Today was the first time he had put on clothes other than hospital gowns, in months, and the feeling was liberating.
Oliver watched the second hand move rhythmically as each second passed.
Felicity Smoak was her name, according to his mother. She had hired the woman, specifically, to help him. He was supposed to have met with her five minutes ago.
Impatient, Oliver picked up a broken arrowhead in the bag beside him and held it up to the light. His eyes tracing the bend and arch of the green tip, which had- at some point- been plunged into the red circle on some target. According to Thea, who had brought it by yesterday- along with a variety of other knick-knacks- it was the arrow he used to nail his first bullseye. But it was meaningless to him now, carrying no sentimental value, considering he had no memories to attach it to.
Squinting, he cast his gaze away, tossing the tip back into the bag by his bedside. He could hear his mother outside of his room, which was located on the fifth floor of Starling hospital. She was arguing with a nurse, something about more blankets, coffee, the drop in temperature, anything to distract herself from having to sit and stare at him. Maintaining that worried look, like he might disintegrate at any moment.
It had been three months, if he'd added correctly, since the accident. Apparently, it had been a head on collision with one of those small bug cars, yellow, from the pictures he had seen. One of those Hawaiian bobble head dolls knocked over on the dashboard. The other driver, a greasy, large man barely had a scratch on him, due to his "trusty seatbelt" (his words) that had prevented him from flying straight into the windshield, which was exactly what had happened to Oliver.
According to the mans statement, the blame was on him for passing through a red light. Not that he remembered any of this, neither the accident or really much before it. After running a few tests, the results reported that his memory had been wiped.
Although this was only partially true. He still remembered certain instances, most of them recent. He knew Moira, still arguing with the nurse, was his mother and Robert, who he'd been told died many years ago in a yachting accident, had been his father. He remembered some of his college friends, their faces, but any specific memories he had with them were lost in translation. It was like he had bits and pieces of a puzzle, splotches of a whole that were useless by themselves, only there to offer a small window into his old life.
Oliver sat on his bed, rubbing his index and thumb together habitually, a nervous tick. It was small actions like this that frustrated him the most. Where had he adopted this from? How long had he been doing it? The seemingly mundane and trivial act of sliding his fingers back and forth had him buzzing with annoyance. He'd experienced a few of these instances in his months of recovery. He couldn't help it, they were the only aspects of himself he could hold onto.
"It might take some time," Dr. Lambart had said, just after the crash. "Or he may never completely regain any of it."
This made Oliver's heart sink. Although he had hope; after all, the accident could have been a lot worse. Instead he had been wheeled away with minor head injuries, which weren't bad enough to cause serious brain damage, but enough to put him in a coma for a little over a week, and lose a good portion of his long-term memory. Now, he was finally well enough to go home, and his mother had agreed on one condition: that he would work with a specialist. One that she hired. At this point, Oliver would have agreed to anything as long as he didn't have to endure another day in this stifled, and death ridden building. Although now, with a twitch of relief, it seemed he might avoid yet another specialist analyzing his every thought. Thinking this, he moved to stand, grabbing his jacket in the process. He would give her five mo-
"Hi!" A voice suddenly rang through the small room, perky and breathless. Oliver turned around, just as he had slipped both of his arms into the sleeves of his jacket. "Really sorry I'm late- the traffic in this city is unbearable."
A small blond thing, sporting black-rimmed glasses, strutted into the room. Similar to a porcelain doll, the woman had pale skin with just a hint of pink on her cheeks. She had a sweet and innocent look to her, the kind of girl one would bring home to meet their parents, but she was far from a girl. Her tight curves and determined stare had a voice in Oliver's head screaming woman.
Her glassy eyes turned up to look at Oliver's as she extended out an arm. "You must be Oliver Queen?"
Oliver looked down at her hand, his annoyance dissipating as he enveloped her fingers in his own.
"Smoak-yeah," she said, drawing her hand back. "Your mother asked me to meet you here so we could go over a schedule that works best for you- in terms of when you want to have our sessions. I know you probably have a life you want to get back to, so we can make this quick."
The way her words bounced around, almost gave off a nervous vibration, despite the warm smile on her lips. Oliver opened his mouth to respond, but Felicity moved past him toward the grand window, which took up a majority of the north wall in his room. At his mother's request.
"Nice room you have here," she said, looking out over downtown Starling. "You get a view and everything."
Oliver crossed his arms over his chest, staring at her back. "It has a certain appeal."
She turned around, hearing something strange in his voice; she let out a nervous laugh.
"Sorry, I have a tendency to-" she paused as she waved her hands in the air with a kind of 'you know?' gesture. "Babble."
Oliver offered a small smile as he cleared his throat and stood up straighter. "So about these sessions?"
Felicity pursed her lips as she shook her head, shifting back into work mode. "Right. So what day would you be free to star-"
There was a sudden clacking of heels that made Felicity stop mid-sentence, she turned around to see who had appeared in the doorway.
It was a face Oliver recognized, and he blinked a few times before he was finally able to process who it was.
"Laurel," he said, her name sounding strange and distant on his lips.
"I heard they were releasing you today," Laurel said, her eyes raking over Oliver's body.
"How did you-" Oliver was about to ask, but then the brunettes body, which moved past Felicity without even a glance, rammed into Oliver's like a cold wind. Her arms wrapped around his neck as she buried her face into his shoulder, soft sobs releasing from her covered mouth. Oliver watched Felicity move away slowly, eyes on Laurel's back, a strange shift in her gaze.
Laurel was saying something but her words were lost in the fabric of Oliver's shirt.
He moved backward, trying to look at her face, searching for a memory to link her to. And although he couldn't find one specific instance to hold onto, he knew that they were involved- or had been involved- either way he had slept with this woman. It was clear enough by the grappling of the shirt and desperate tears that he had been in this situation before, with her, only now it felt more like a déjà vu than a memory. He'd also heard people throwing her name and the word 'girlfriend' around in the same sentence. He was just unclear on the context of their current relationship.
After a moment, he realized that she was repeating 'I'm sorry' over and over again. Oliver looked back up at Felicity, who seemed to be having an internal debate of whether she should stay or leave. Slightly embarrassed by the scene unfolding before them he mouthed a quiet: "Monday, at noon?"
She gave him one last look before turning away abruptly. Oliver watched her walk quickly down the narrow hallway, her ponytail bobbing wildly behind her like a signal flag.
"I'm sorry," Laurel said, finally emerging from his shirt, her voice suddenly so loud it sounded as if she were talking through a microphone; his skull burned.
Oliver looked down at her. "Stop apologizing," he said, stepping back to take in her tear streaked face.
"But I have a lot to apologize for," she said, another sob threatening to break free. Oliver held up his hands, as if to ward it off, then placed them gently on each of her shoulders. He recalled that this was the first time he had seen her since before the accident. Why? He didn't know, but he'd had plenty of people ask him where she was without a clear answer. Regretfully, he didn't remember her enough to care.
"I visited you immediately after the accident," she said, her words meshing together. "When you were still in a coma, but I didn't know if you would want to see me when you woke up."
She met his eyes, blinking rapidly as something crossed through her mind. Another memory. He rolled my lips in anticipation and frustration.
"We-we had an argument," she stumbled on her words. "And when I heard what happened I- I'm sorry."
Clearly this was too much for her to handle because she broke into another fit of sobs, her hands fluttering up to her face to wipe away stray tears.
There was a beat of silence as he waited for her to explain, but instead she stepped back a foot or two, taking in his features. He was about to say something, to explain that she was going to have to help out a little on the memory thing. But then her hands were on either side of his face as she brought her lips up to meet his.
Oliver didn't pull away but he didn't kiss her back either, partially due to the shock of the moment, but there was also something else inside of him; warning him that this wasn't right.
When she finally pulled away, and placed her head on his chest, he felt a momentary jolt of panic at a single thought that, through this whole process, he hadn't really considered: Who could he really trust?
Oliver took note of his phone buzzing, yet again, for something like the fifth time. He ignored it, feeling the warmth of the sun streaming in through his window and onto his exposed chest while mounds of pillows buried his head into darkness. He knew it must be later in the day, as he had been drifting in and out of consciousness for most of the morning.
There was another round of vibrations, making Oliver's teeth grind.
He rolled over, navigating his way through the sea of fabric until he located his nightstand. Squinting against the light he fumbled around until he found the device, drawing it toward him, he peered down at the screen. Laurel's name was blinking back, announcing that he had four text messages and one missed call from her.
The woman was relentless.
He momentarily studied the picture attached to her contact. In it, both she and him were sitting by some extravagant fountain, her arms wrapped loosely around his neck as she buried her face in his shoulder with a laugh. He was looking at the camera knowingly, a tight smile on his lips.
Shutting his eyes he put the phone back down and rolled over, letting out a soft groan. Fatigue was still present behind his closed eyes, a result of his night spent tossing and turning. He felt antsy being back in his childhood home. Walking into his room the night before was like stumbling into one of those perfectly tidied houses on TLC. Everything looked staged and neat, something one wouldn't expect from a teenager. He had been meaning to ask his mother, during their tour of the house, where he had been living before the accident, but it never seemed like the right moment. Besides, he could see by the way her eyes lingered on him, as he took in each room, that she was happy to have him back, even if it was temporary. He, of course, was just glad to have been released from the hospital. If the food wasn't already depressing, having to wake up to the same plain, water stained ceiling was enough to drive anyone mad.
Thinking this, Oliver rolled over and pushed himself out of bed, stumbling toward the bathroom to wake himself up. Briefly glancing in the mirror, he turned on the faucet and splashed cold water on his face, filling his mouth with it before swishing and spitting. After drying, he walked over to his closet, selecting jeans and a freshly ironed shirt that hugged his frame magnetically when he slipped it on. He got the feeling that pre-accident Oliver would have easily crawled back into bed and slept for another four hours, but he had been resting for the past three months, and needed answers.
He was expecting at least someone to be home. But as Oliver padded down the grand staircase, listening for any voices or shuffling of feet, he began to feel that it was just him and the 1,000 acres of land. He rounded the base of the stairs and tried to navigate his way toward the kitchen, eventually finding it in the very back of the house. Everything was stainless steel and granite, despite his mother's perpetual intolerance of cold surfaces. The kitchen was more for looks anyways. After scanning the room, Oliver eventually spotted what he had been searching for. It was a bulky contraption that his mother had informed him was, indeed, a coffeemaker- despite having the outward appearance of one of those disguised, Transformer robots.
He walked up to it and stood there, scanning all the various labels and pictures which offered a number of beverage choices such as light and dark roasts and all kinds of fancy lattes. There was nothing familiar about any of it.
After grabbing a mug, Oliver went with the button that looked the most similar to a normal cup of coffee.
The machine started to sputter and whine, like the damaged engine of an older car. Oliver stepped back, holding his hands up in defense, as the coffeemaker started to hiss, foam rolling out one of the tubes. Impulsively, Oliver hit the side of the machine with his palm, which only made it hiss more. If he couldn't even make a standard cup of coffee, how did he expect to get his own life in order?
"You know," a voice said, making Oliver start. "Most people just push the brew button."
He turned to his right, spotting the small blond thing from the hospital standing in the kitchen's entryway, purse clutched against her abdomen.
He took in her hesitant smile, black-rimmed glasses, and colorful dress that could stop traffic. Although he registered who she was, (Felicity, if he remembered correctly) he couldn't immediately recall why she was here.
"Sorry," she said, stepping forward after reading the confusion on his face. "I knocked and someone-Raisa- let me in."
Oliver was still staring at her, his brain backtracking to the hospital where they agreed that she would meet him here on Monday… at noon. He glanced at the microwave clock. 12:33.
"How long have you been waiting?" He asked, the coffeemaker still making gurgling noises behind him.
Felicity turned her eyes up to the ceiling. "Oh… not long."
This was clearly a lie, making Oliver sigh, regretfully.
"I'm so sorry, it's this whole…" He trailed off with a tap to his temple.
Felicity loosened the grip on her purse as she brought a hand up to wave him off.
"It's fine. I forget things all the time- although not like you because I wasn't hit on the head- but if I was…it would explain a lot…"
Oliver watched her patiently, his hands digging deep into his pockets as his lips twitched upwards. She seemed to notice his silent humor because she closed her eyes after a second and changed the subject.
"Anyways," she said, sliding onto one of the island stools. "I guess we should get started."
Oliver watched her fidget awkwardly; adjusting her glasses, scooting this way and that in her seat as she placed her purse on the counter. If anything, Oliver should be the one swamped in nerves, but something about her unstructured movements set him at ease.
Once she was situated, he moved to take the stool a couple of spaces down from her. Given Felicity's seemingly anxious tendencies, he didn't want their close proximity to give her another reason to be nervous.
Oliver waited for a beat as she dug around in her purse. "How does this work exactly?" He asked, after a moment.
She looked up at him before drawing out a pen and pad. "Well, I thought we would start with the basics. You tell me everything you do remember about yourself before the accident."
"Aren't we supposed to be figuring out what I don't know?"
Felicity blinked at him before scribbling something on the pad.
"Sometimes reiterating what you already know can be a trigger, like, one wrong step can create an avalanche." Tapping her pen lightly. "But in this case we want that one wrong step."
Oliver looked away from her, his eyes tracing the sharp corners of the room. His mind definitely wasn't awake for this, despite it being noontime. He would give anything for a cup of coffee right now, but there was no way in hell he was attempting the Transformer again.
He turned his attention back to Felicity, feeling her eyes on him. Her stare wasn't demanding, if anything she was watching him patiently and curiously, like she genuinely wanted to hear whatever he had to say, like she was listening.
"How long have you been doing this?" He finally asked, taking careful note of how young she was, maybe a year or two younger than himself.
She blinked. "Doing what?"
She paused, seeming to consider this for a moment, her eyes turning upward as she calculated something in her mind. "Not long."
"And how exactly did my mother discover you?" He couldn't help himself, he was curious about her.
For some unknown reason, she briefly smiled at his words. "Boy, you ask a lot of questions."
Oliver ran his hand over the smooth granite surface. "Just trying to get a better idea of who I'm dealing with is all."
Felicity placed her pad and pen on the counter and slowly folded her hands in her lap, although he took note of the slight shake in them.
"How about this, you tell me one thing you remember about your life and I'll tell you something about me," her words formed perfectly against her bright pink lips. "That way we even the playing field and this won't seem so much like one of those therapist sessions where I ask you 'how you feel about this' every five minutes."
Oliver narrowed his eyes, hesitating briefly, wondering how much of himself he was prepared to give to this stranger. He could easily dismiss her with a wave of a hand, completely shut down and refuse to answer to her. But currently (and he was only just realizing this now) everyone in his life was a stranger to him. His family and 'friends' expected him to know who they were, to trust them, but in a world with so much taking, it can be hard to give willingly. Felicity was the first person that offered to give a little of herself in return for his trust. Like a breath of fresh air, he found that he desired this the most.
"Deal," he said after a moment, noticing her lips twitch upwards. "You go."
Her eyes widened. "No way, you're starting," she said, holding up a hand. "I'm still running this session."
"I thought you seeing a sobbing girl run into my arms yesterday was the starting point?"
Felicity smiled at this. "Not unless you can remember why she was crying all over your perfectly pressed Calvin & Klein button up."
Oliver laughed at this, running a hand down the front of his shirt as he readjusted his seating. He didn't particularly want to dive right into the Laurel discussion, mostly because he really didn't know why she had been crying. But at least it was a way for him to try and break down what he was feeling, before he inevitably had to confront Laurel, again. Her numerous text messages in the back of his mind.
"I got a feeling that we were together before the accident." He paused, trying to gather his thoughts. "I have some memories of us in college together, but they are brief instances and seem insignificant."
Oliver glanced at Felicity, who didn't say anything, but her eyes were studying him closely. He desperately wanted to know what she was thinking.
"Whatever feelings I had for her," he continued, looking away. "I can't-they aren't- I don't remember them."
He suddenly felt vulnerable, like a dear in headlights. He stopped there and focused on a pattern in Felicity's dress, trying to find some kind of clear path in it, but everything was all curvy and mingled, getting lost in itself.
"I like to collect tea cups…" Felicity said after a moment, her voice breaking the silence. "But not the modern kind, like with those weird quotes on the side- I mean, those are nice too- but the antique kind with intricate designs."
Oliver looked at her quizzically. "I just told you about my girlfriend problems and you tell me you love tea cups?"
Felicity blushed. "I didn't say love, I said like. "
"Besides the point. I don't think the two pieces of information are comparable."
"Doesn't make it any less true."
Oliver narrowed his eyes and licked his lips, noticing the way her eyes turned away from his if he stared too long.
"Alright then," he said after a moment, feeling his competitive side flair up. He tried to conjure up the most unimportant memory he had. "When I was around eight my friends and I used to sneak into old Mr. O'Neil's backyard and piss in his pool."
Felicity raised and eyebrow and pressed her lips together. "So your telling me pre-accident Oliver was a first class rebel that peed in old people's backyards?"
His eye twitched, feeling both respect and annoyance toward her. He didn't know how to tell Felicity that a part of him didn't want to remember who he used to be. From what he had read in the various tabloids about the old Oliver, the guy seemed like a first class ass hat and he wasn't sure he entirely wanted to remember that person.
"Want to know who I was?" He said, standing suddenly, as he walked over to a stack of old newspapers by the sink, picking one up. "Oliver Queen…spoiled, playboy billionaire with a reputation that would makes Charlie Sheen look good. Or so says page nine of the Starling Chronicle."
Felicity watched him wave the paper back and forth at her, pursing her lips, she looked down, smoothing out her dress. "And you have no interest in finding out who the man was behind those headlines?" She asked without looking up at him.
"From what I've gathered, he isn't really worth remembering," Oliver said before throwing the paper in the trash can, along with the rest that he had been studying for the past few months.
"I don't accept that," Felicity said, a fire behind her words, as though he had struck a nerve. "Maybe there was a reason why you did the things you did."
Oliver furrowed his eyebrows as he walked toward her. "Like what? So I could destroy my family's name and humiliate myself?"
Felicity was shaking her head. "It could have been a defense mechanism, coping strategy-"
"You give me too much credit."
Felicity grew silent at his words, her posture showing that she clearly didn't agree with him. But Oliver couldn't shake the defensive wall he had suddenly put up. He was tired of people making excuses for the old him, and as much as he felt he could trust Felicity, he wasn't sure he was ready to trust himself- or who he used to be.
"I don't think this is going to work out."
Oliver said the words impulsively; they fell from his mouth like a whip lash.
When he looked up at Felicity she was fiddling with the handles of her purse, nodding. "Maybe your right." She said it in a whisper before moving to stand just as Oliver stepped up to shake her hand.
It folded into his, a delicate yet strong grip; and as he thanked her, he couldn't help but glance at her pad of paper. He noticed that her adamant scribbling in the beginning of the session hadn't been actual words or information, but swirls of circles and clouds, like a high school student doodling during class. Felicity must have seen his eyes wander because a second later she released his hand and moved to shove the paper and pen back in her purse. But she momentarily paused, considering something. Then, she ripped off a scrap of paper before jotting something down on it. When she turned back to Oliver, her arm was extended out.
"Here," she said, handing him the paper pinched between her index and thumb. He grabbed it from her and looked down, reading Felicity's name and number scrawled in her loopy handwriting. "In case you change your mind - or not- whatever, it's there."
Felicity then moved past Oliver quickly; he noticed her cheeks turning a harsh pink as she walked out of the kitchen.
Even after she left, he could still feel her presence in the room, like a warm spot after the sun has gone. Despite his quick and impulsive behavior, he realized briefly, for whatever reason, that he might actually miss her.
The feeling stuck with him for the rest of the afternoon.
Authors Note: Thanks to everyone you has continued to read my story! If you noticed I had a change in POV, from first to third person. I thought it flowed a lot better.
I'm really excited for this story and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Reviews feed my black pit of a soul.
Thanks ya'll *hugs*