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Ride or Die

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They say that life is a series of events that we can neither predict nor control. Some call it fate, some call it karma, but the end result is all the same. Some of these events change our lives for better and some cause immeasurable and irreconcilable changes.

Raining on your wedding day.
Winning the lottery only to die the next day.
Alanis called them ironic.

I call them unfortunate.

Unfortunate events like a stone chip in a flawless windshield that causes you to swerve into oncoming traffic for instance.

And then there is him.
He’s a bit of an enigma.
Perhaps Alanis would label him something of an irony, and some might say he was unfortunate, or still others might say he was just what my high strung self needed.
And what do I say?
Well... how about we start at the beginning ....

[June, 2012]

“Curtis!” Felicity called through the open glass door, once again neglecting the perfectly acceptable intercom that sat a few inches from her red nails tapping on the backdrop of a black keyboard.

Curtis skidded into the room, his hair looking more frazzled than it had earlier that morning and his yellow-tartan bowtie now sitting askew around his neck.

“Where is the presentation?” she asked without peeling her eyes from the three different monitors set up amidst the red liquorice wrappers and Red Bull cans, evidence of an all-nighter.
“Flash drive, laptop,” Curtis replied succinctly, gaining a resolute nod from his slightly high-strung boss.

Felicity wasn’t always like this, in fact in this pairing of boss and assistant it was often Curtis who turned into a frantic mess of sweaty palms and forgotten speeches, but this month had pulled and twisted Felicity's nerves worse than he had ever witnessed since taking this job almost two years ago.

Because this month saw the entire division of Smoak Technologies balance on a knife’s edge of world headline making success OR cataclysmic failure.

Felicity had been a fresh-faced twenty-one year old when Noah Kuttler, her semi-estranged father offered her an olive branch in the shape of her very own start up under his global corporation.

Was it an attempt to apologise for being virtually absent for 74.5% of her life?
Probably.

Did she accept it regardless?
Absolutely.

Since then her parents had cohabitated in some strange mix of what Felicity referred to as dysfunctional bliss. It never made much sense to her, but it was what it was.

And Felicity?
She gathered some of the sharpest and youngest minds from some of the top colleges and set about proving a point.

Every second and every drop of sweat leading to...this...moment...here.

“The specs?”
“Briefcase.”
There was no need or function for politeness between the two as they spoke in decisive bullet points.

“Prototype?”
Curtis tapped a silver sphere on her desk.
It was the culmination of everything. Every failure and every success.

It would turn the spotlight onto Smoak Technologies.
It would answer every naysayer who levelled her as nothing more than a silver-spooned girl who stood on shaky legs under her much more successful father's umbrella.

Felicity finally looked away from the screens as she took a centering breath.

This was her legacy.
A tiny little battery with a lifespan that could eradicate the need for replacements together with a life altering microchip in the form of a bio stimulant that could, once implanted in a spine, help a paralyzed person walk again. In theory. Right now it was a weird little chip that manipulated organic goo in a Petri dish, but with more funding and tests it could be a legacy.

Today Felicity would take the only prototypes of both and pitch them to a board of directors that saw only zeros and ones and ask them to fund the development to the tune of $60million.

“Car?”
Curtis smiled to himself knowing he had an answer for everything.
“Already waiting across the road,” he answered proudly
“Traffic?”
Felicity kicked the ballet flats from her feet and stepped into the patent four inch nudes neatly lined up behind her chair. She scowled to her own reflection in the embellished mirror she was now standing in front of before she crouched to obsessively straighten the other four pairs of shoes lined up.

“Traffic is moderate,” he replied, shifting just a single eyebrow up
“Make it less than moderate,” Felicity chipped as she grabbed her gadgets and folded them into her bag before she swung it over her shoulder and shimmied to adjust her “most serious of outfits” – a black pencil skirt that hugged enough of her frame to look attractive but not too attractive and a soft dusty pink satin shirt that showed just enough femininity.

She shook a hand through her tresses and cursed that she hadn't fixed it into a hairstyle that would age her a couple of years, but she didn’t have the time for such trivialities now.

“You know you invented that back door into the roading network to help emergency vehicles right?” Curtis reprimanded as he followed Felicity across her office and out the door.

Felicity smiled as she teetered the prototypes on top of three unmarked manila folders bulging with specs and notes.

“Do you enjoy your job Curtis?” she asked as she knocked the elevator button with her elbow, her hands too crowded for the task
“Very much so,” he answered suspiciously
“If we can’t get the investors to back this then neither of us will have a job, so I think this counts as an emergency,” she paused to flirt a small smile from the corner of her painted lips, “wouldn’t you think?”

The elevator doors opened and Felicity manoeuvred into the cab, precariously juggling everything she needed.
“Are you sure you don’t want a hand to the car?” Curtis peeped as the doors started to encase Felicity
“Traffic Curtis, I’ll be fine.”
Curtis nodded through a grimace as the sphere teetered across the papers.

“Both components are in here right?” Felicity asked, her tone verging on an interrogation as she instantly regretted not checking half a dozen times herself
“Absolutely, the chip and the cell battery are in there.”

The doors closed ahead of her leaving Felicity staring at the brushed metal of the inside of the elevator cab. This was her father's building, but this technology could see her buy out all the shares of Smoak Tech and finally stand alone.

Okay so the use of finally might be overstating the struggle, but after she built that first computer all those years ago as a quiet seven year old with a skewed pony tail and glasses that took over half her face, Felicity had been working towards this.

This.
The word repeated as she stepped through the automatic doors and the midday sun wrapped its warmth around her.

This.
The wind caressed her neck like a soft pep talk.

This.
She saw the town car just across the road and headed towards the edge of the sidewalk.

She stepped forward, past the mailbox.
This.

She never even saw the red car hurtling towards her.

~*~*~*~

Oliver stood with his back pressed against the mailbox and a toothpick rolling around his mouth. He wasn’t doing anything in particular and few people paid him much mind which was fine by him.

His bike was parked just behind him and his eyes instinctively tipped back every few seconds to ensure it was still there.

Thea should have been there by now and Oliver couldn’t decide whether to be agitated or worried that she was running late.

His eyes roved through the mindless people walking the sidewalk, their faces buried in the screens of their phones or their mouths moving a mile a minute into them as they walked oblivious paths. Oliver wondered if they even knew that the sky had clouded over somewhat and that, even though the sun was still dancing its warm fingers across the ground, it probably wouldn’t be long till the rain started.

He ran a steady hand through his long hair, the tips of which sat just below his shoulders. It was probably slick with grease and oil seeing as he had made the drive here straight from the shop with little to no effort put in to cleaning the morning’s work from his hands.

Oliver's eyes danced from the face of one stranger to another without giving them much thought until they landed on the soft complexion of a pretty blonde talking to herself. He studied her for a moment, expecting some Bluetooth earpiece to come into view, but no, nothing, her lips were moving and he was certain words, albeit hushed ones, were passing over her sinfully red lips.

He couldn’t help but watch her as she walked with purposeful steps and arms balancing papers that would be better off in a briefcase. She crossed the paths of at least three people without blinking an eye and Oliver couldn’t help but smile.

She was gorgeous but she looked like she was under a trance of some sort; and then she floated right past him and he caught the subtly fragrant scent of lavender and vanilla in her wake.

The notes of it were so soft, so gentle to his senses, and so very different to the usual smell of spent cigarettes and dollar store perfume that assaulted him nightly.

He shouldn’t have let his mind wander, but it did, to a hazy image of her in a bath, wrapped in velvet-smooth bubbles that were the source of the heavenly scent.

A smile had tapered onto his lips as his eyes drove up her body, taking each curve with salacious wonder. There was some guy out there lucky enough to trace those curves with his tongue.

“Lucky bastard,” Oliver hushed with a smile as he tore his eyes away, expecting her to stop at the curb and finally notice the unsolicited attention he was paying her.

He doubted the princess would take too fondly to a grease monkey like himself wandering his eyes over her.

Only she didn’t stop at the curb, in fact she didn’t even register it and as Oliver watched her step out onto the road he realised she didn’t see the red hatchback heading straight for her either.

He moved on nothing but instincts when his arms coiled around her waist and he pulled her with more force than he had intended back towards the curb.

He hadn’t been expecting her to be so light and he stumbled backwards just as the red car blared its horn and the driver waved an indecent finger out the window.

Her papers went flying and the silver ball that had been like a paperweight on top of them cracked open on the ground.

Felicity screamed as she found herself flat on her back staring up at the sky and for just a moment realising that it was probably going to rain soon.

There were heavy weights across her chest, constricting her breathing and it took her a few stunted moments to piece together what had happened and that the snake like weights around her were arms…

Arms that belonged to someone…

The same someone that was making a soft groaning sound into her ear.

“Jesus,” Felicity squeaked as she leapt up and ran her eyes across the scattered remains of all her work.

By some miracle Curtis had put a rubber band around the folders and their contents remained firmly in place, but the sphere…

“Shit, shit, shit,” she cursed as her stumbled around in search on it
She found it by the polished black wheel of a motorbike and she breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

“I’m fine by the way,” Oliver coughed as he sat himself up from the curb, his back aching from the way they had fallen together

“Hmmm?” Felicity hummed as she finally looked and saw Oliver sitting on the edge of the sidewalk
“Most people look before they cross the road, but not you princess,” he coughed, brushing a hand through his slick locks

Felicity stiffened her shoulders and felt the sudden urge to tap her foot incredulously.
“If you got yourself hit, you would have gotten blood all over my bike,” Oliver smirked as he folded his arms around his bent knees, “any idea how hard it is to clean blood off my bike?”

Felicity twisted her head briefly to look at the bike before she turned her attention back to the cock-eyed smile of the buff with shoulder-tapping hair.
“Actually most of your bike looks chrome so provided you didn’t let it seep in for a week you could clean blood off with a mixture of ammonia and elbow grease,” the foot started tapping impertinently, “and given the size of your shoulders I suspect that wouldn’t be a problem.”

Felicity watched as the smile at the corner of his soft lips turned up higher with each word she spoke before she decided that it was uncomfortably flirtatious and distracting. He did have nice arms though.

“Okay,” she breathed before she turned on her now-scuffed heels and scampered across the road to the waiting town car.
“Hey,” Oliver called across the street
Felicity turned as the driver opened the sedan’s door
“Ammonia is in window cleaner,” Felicity called before she disappeared into the tan leather seat behind the heavily tinted windows.
“You’re welcome,” Oliver huffed with a smile.

Oliver couldn’t wipe the smile off his face if he tried – he just saved that little Princess’ life and she simultaneously manages to insult his intelligence and comment pleasantly on his appearance all while tapping her foot like she had somewhere else to be – without a lick of a lie that was about the sexiest thing he’d ever witnessed.

“Why are you sitting on the curb, are you trying to look homeless?” Thea mocked as she pressed the toe of her boot into Oliver’s side.
“You’re late,” he huffed, the smile dissipating from his lips as he watched the town car speed away and he stood from the curb.
“I was at a job interview Ollie, it’s not like I could just walk out,” she bemoaned as she slipped the helmet from the handle bars and pushed it onto her head.

“Given it’s a shit job and you should be going to college, you could,” Oliver said as he gritted his teeth and stood up from the curb.
“We’re not having this argument again,” Thea sighed indignantly, “you didn’t go to college.”
Oliver scoffed loudly, it’s not like he was a symbol of success that his baby sister should be looking up to.

As he opened his mouth to speak something shiny in the gutter by the front wheel of his bike caught his eye. It wasn’t much bigger than his thumb nail and while he had no idea what it actually was, he wasn’t so clueless not to recognise it as some sort of computer chip, emblazoned with the tiny logo of a business that had a petite sign on the front window of the Kuttler Consolidated Tower, the same building Princess had sashayed out of.

His smile returned as he slipped the tiny piece of tech into his pocket.
“Now you’re picking up trash?” Thea laughed.
“Something like that,” Oliver replied as he drew up the zipper on his jacket and brushed off the last remnants of the road dust.
“So, can I drive?” Thea asked, walking two fingers across the seat of Oliver’s one and only prized possession.
Oliver smiled, causing Thea’s eyes to widen expectantly.
“Not a fucking chance in hell. I’m dropping you home and then I have an errand to run.”
Oliver slipped onto the bike and kicked up the foot stand.

“You don’t run errands,” Thea said suspiciously as she slipped on the bike behind him and folded down the helmet visor.
“First time for everything,” Oliver remarked before starting the bike in a symphony of revving and bore exhaust before the two siblings took off with a hiss and a roar that made a few unsuspecting pedestrians jolt from their oblivious paths.

First time for everything.