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An Arrow in Time

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"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein -


 

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Here I am,

Stuck in the middle with you

Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you…*

 

The song would not leave Felicity Smoak’s head.   It had been there the moment she woke up and had stubbornly remained there for the rest of the morning.  Nothing she did would get rid of it; not sunrise sex with her very attractive husband, not eating breakfast and brushing her teeth, not even singing along with Pink on the radio during the drive to her old apartment.   Nope – the damn chorus just kept rattling around in her brain, no matter what she did. 

Stuck in the middle with you…

The song had been a hit back in the seventies, so by all rights, she was too young to know or care about it.  But it was one of her mom’s favorites and she’d heard it a lot growing up.  Plus, it was something of a classic.

Stuck in the middle with you…

She had a pretty good idea why the song was lodged in her head, even if she couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it.  It was because she was headed to her old loft apartment to work with Curtis Holt on their startup company, Helix.  Stuck in the middle just seemed to sum up her relationship with Curtis these days.  The two of them were in this weird place where they were still business partners but no longer friends.

Their falling out was precipitated by Curtis quitting Team Arrow in a blaze of acrimony a few months ago.  Curtis was a vocal member of the Oliver Queen lied to us and spied on us chorus, along with Dinah Drake and Rene Ramirez, and he just couldn’t seem to stop ranking on Oliver at every opportunity.  Despite this, Felicity had agreed to keep working with him on Helix.  From a business standpoint, it made perfect sense.  She was a brilliant coder; he was a wizard with electronic circuitry.  She could design a processor that was smaller than a flea’s eyeball; he could make the thing durable enough to last a lifetime.  Together, they had a much better chance of making their company a success than they did as individuals.

Unfortunately, what their partnership also meant was that Felicity was forced to spend a considerable amount of time with a man who had, on numerous occasions, said some not very nice things to and about her husband.  As they worked, she often looked at Curtis and felt tempted to whack him over the head with her heaviest laptop -- or at least tell him to get his head out of his ass in her loudest of Loud Voices.  But -- for better or worse -- Curtis was her business partner, so she sucked up her anger and did her best to spend the daytime hours working with him constructively and cordially. 

And then, at night in the bunker, she listened to him more than once tell her husband – who cared desperately about Star City and had sacrificed greatly for it -- that he was a jerk who couldn’t be trusted.   And, as badly as she wanted to, she didn’t scream in Oliver’s defense.  No -- she said nothing; she just seethed with regret and anger.

And then the next day she got up and did it all over again.

She wasn’t sure if that made her the clown or the joker, but she was willing to bet that that was why a song that last hit the Billboard 100 in 1973 kept popping into her head.  

Stuck in the middle with you…

Stuck in the middle with you...

Frack.

Felicity opened the door to the loft and was relieved to find that Curtis hadn’t arrived, even though it was fairly late in the morning.  It felt good to have the place to herself and to begin work without having to freeze her face into the neutral expression she was trying so hard to maintain.  She remembered the days when she had actually enjoyed collaborating with Curtis and wondered if she would ever get back to that point.  At the moment, it didn’t seem likely.

She sat down in front of one of their many computers and opened up the latest program she was developing.  Coding usually had a soothing effect on her, but the lines of C++ did nothing to improve her mood today.   As if sensing her attitude, the program refused to cooperate.  It crashed multiple times and gave her crap for output when she was finally able to run it.  After an hour, she decided that she needed to take a break and hear a friendly voice; someone to tell her that things would get better – and something to get that damn song out of her head.

Stuck in the middle with you

She would have liked to call Oliver.  He was her best friend as well as her husband, and the mere thought of him looking sexy in his suit as he spoke with her from the Star City mayor’s office gave her a smile.  But Oliver was smack dab at the heart of the Team Arrow controversy and he had enough on his plate without her giving him a reminder of his sullen former team members.  John Diggle, her next best friend, was in a similar situation.  

So she called Cisco Ramon in Central City.  Her buddy in all things technical, Cisco could almost always be counted on for a cheery word, or at least a bad pun.  And, as a member of the evil-fighting, superhero-led Team Flash, he appreciated the complexities of team dynamics better than most.  He’d even had to work his way through his own differences with The Flash himself, Barry Allen.  Felicity was fairly sure he would understand and be sympathetic. 

Cisco answered on the first ring.  “Hey Smoak, what’s happening?”  He sounded upbeat, although a little breathless.  She wondered if that was because he and the rest of the team were in the midst of a crisis.

She hesitated.  “Am I getting you in the middle of something?”

He chuckled.  “No.  Believe it or not, the world is not in peril at this moment.  I was just trying to finish a couple of things here in the lab and then meet the crew for an early lunch.”

“You’re all going out to lunch together?”  She couldn’t keep the wistfulness out of her voice.  It sounded like such a team-ish thing to do.  Like something she and Oliver might have once done with Curtis, Rene and Dinah.

There was a pause and then Cisco said more soberly, “Felicity, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, Cisco.” She opened her mouth to tell him about the current mess that Team Arrow had become and the uncomfortable situation with Curtis, but then checked herself.   She realized, a little late, that she might sound childish and gossipy.  Cisco could laugh, or even worse, tell her that she needed to grow up, pick a side, and get herself out of the middle.

And the sad part was -- he’d be right.  She had the power to get herself out of her current predicament.  She just didn’t have the nerve.

So she tried to brighten her voice.  “Nothing’s wrong,” she replied. “I was just calling to…to…to tell you how great the frequency blockers you developed for Oliver’s arrows are working.  He used them last week on a mission and the bad guys completely couldn’t communicate with each other.  It was awesome.”  She gave herself a small pat on the back.  That sounded pretty believable.

There was another pause.  Then Cisco said, “Nah…I’m not buying it, Felicity.  Something is definitely bothering you.  Out with it.”

She felt the tears beginning to pool in her eyes.  Damn. 

“Okay,” she admitted, “there is something bothering me.  But it isn’t something you can help with, and I honestly don’t want to talk about it now.  In fact, I’d like to talk about anything except it.  That’s why I called – to get my mind off of it.”

Cisco cleared his throat.  “Is everything okay with you and Oliver?” he asked gently. 

What?  Oh crap.  Felicity should have known his thoughts would go in that direction.  He’d witnessed a bit of her relationship ups and downs with Oliver over the years and had probably heard even more about them from Barry Allen.  It was natural for him to think Oliver was the reason for her funk. 

She hastened to dispel that idea.

“Everything with Oliver is great,” she answered truthfully, “and I love being married.  Believe me, it’s not that.”

“Then what is it?”

She sighed.  “It has to do with the team.  We’re not…we’re not in a good place right now and I’m not handling it well.”

“Maybe you should take a break.”

“From Arrow duties?  Seriously?  Do you know how much is going on?”

Cisco exhaled into his phone.  “Felicity, there’s always something going on.  It’s part of the job description.  If you wait for a lull to take a mental health break, you won’t get one until you’re eighty.  Sometimes you need to step away for your own sanity.”  When she didn’t respond, he added, “I’m not talking about a long hiatus.  Just a night or two.  Do something for yourself – go shopping, get a massage, take a bubble bath.  Forget the team exists for forty-eight hours.  Regain some perspective.”

It sounded tempting, if a little clichéd.  But it was hard to justify pampering herself when Oliver and John were working so hard.  However, she didn’t think it was a good idea to debate it with Cisco.  She didn’t have the energy.  “Okay,” she lied, “I’ll do it.  A couple of days off.”  She did her best to make her voice cheerful.

And apparently, she’d been convincing, because Cisco chuckled and then said, “Good.”  He drew in his breath. “Anything else I can help you with?”

“No.  It was just good to hear your voice.  Thanks for the advice.”

“Anytime.”

And Cisco hung up. 

Felicity turned back to the computer and resumed studying her lines of code.  She felt a little better but still couldn’t seem to muster a lot of interest in the program.  After a few minutes of fruitless reading, she spun around in her chair and gazed out the large windows of the loft.  The sun was shining and the sky was very blue.  She recalled from her drive over that it was warm outdoors but not yet hot – the perfect spring day.    The perfect day, in fact, to be doing anything besides working with a guy who insisted on disparaging her husband.

Stuck in the middle with you…

Oh, for God’s sake. 

She picked up the wireless mouse and threw it at the wall.  There was a loud whoosh as she did so, and the mouse was snatched out of the air before it could smash into a hundred pieces.  

And then Barry Allen was grinning at her.

“I think this is yours,” he said, and placed the mouse back on the table, next to the computer.

She gave a little shriek.  For all the times that they had worked together, she still wasn’t used to Barry materializing unexpectedly like this.  She wondered why he had come.  He wasn’t wearing his red speed-suit, which suggested that this wasn’t official Flash business.  He was wearing jeans and a sport jacket.  And he looked relaxed and happy.

Barry was still grinning.  “Hey, Felicity.”

She smiled weakly in return.  “Hi, Barry.  This is a surprise.  I thought you and the team were having lunch in Central City.”

He nodded.  “We are.  Cisco told us you were having a tough day and we thought you might want to join us.”

Evidently, she hadn’t been as convincing as she’d thought.

“Join you for lunch?” she clarified.

He nodded again.  “Yup.”

Now?”  She frowned.  Central City was about six hundred miles away.

Barry’s grin didn’t fade.  “Sure.  I can get you to lunch and then back here in no time.”

Well, that was true.  Felicity knew from experience that Barry could carry her almost as fast as he could run on his own – which would put her in Central City in something less than a minute.  She also knew that being toted around at near light-speed wasn’t particularly pleasant.  Weird things happened to her clothes and her ponytail never seemed to survive the journey.

On the other hand…messy hair sounded a lot better than trying to pretend she wasn’t angry with Curtis when he arrived at the loft to work.   Lunch with Team Flash would give her the chance to think about something else – and it might help with the perspective thing.   And she really was a little bit hungry…

“Okay,” she said to Barry, before she could second-guess herself, “let’s go.”

He nodded. “Right.”

He walked over to her chair with his arms extended.   She stood up and wrapped her own arms around his neck, then pressed her face into his shoulder as he hoisted her up.   She’d learned that the journey was a little more tolerable when she didn’t try to look around.   At least, she thought, I’m wearing jeans today.  I could have been wearing a mini-skirt and four-inch heels. 

“Ready?” Barry asked.

She tightened her arms and closed her eyes.  “Yes.”

“Here we go.”

There was a loud roaring sound and her sense of balance deserted her.  Parts of her felt very warm while other part felt cool, and a stream of colors ran in front of her eyes, behind her closed eyelids.   Her stomach flipped a couple of times.

And then it was over. 

She opened her eyes to find they were in an alley, somewhere in Central City.  Barry gently set her on her feet and she clung to him for a few seconds until she got her bearings. 

“How’s my hair?” she asked him.

He studied her head and raised one eyebrow.  “It’s…good,” he said cautiously.  “The carefree look really suits you.”

“Oh great.”

“Felicity, you’re among friends.  You look fine.”

She stared at him.

“I mean it,” he added.  “Now, let’s go get lunch.”


Lunch with Team Flash turned out to be a great idea.  Cisco, Barry, Caitlin Snow and Barry’s wife, Iris, each did his or her best to be amusing and entertaining.  More importantly, they were kind.  Cisco must have warned them not to bring up the subject of Team Arrow because they avoided asking Felicity about anyone other than Oliver.  The conversation was light and friendly, and she found herself laughing more than she had in weeks.  She lingered over lunch, doing her best to make dessert and three lattes last for a couple of hours.

Finally, she had to admit that it was time to return to Star City. 

“I suppose I should get back,” she said reluctantly to Barry.  She drained what was left of her latte.  “I can’t thank you all enough,” she added to the rest of the Team.  “I’m in a much better mood now.  You guys really helped.”

“It was our pleasure,” Caitlin said, as Iris and Cisco nodded.  “We should do this more often.”

Felicity smiled in agreement, although she wasn’t sure she could stand being whisked around at Flash-speed too often.  As it was, she hoped that she’d be able to hold onto her lunch for the return journey.  The brownie-ice cream sundae she’d eaten had been pretty big.

After waves to the team, she and Barry returned to the alley near the Central City restaurant.  He held out his arms once more and she allowed herself to be lifted into them.  Then she closed her eyes.

There was the same roaring sound of air and the same stream of colors behind her eyelids as there had been on the trip to Central City.  Her stomach once again turned, but thankfully she didn’t lose the sundae.  She kept her arms tight around Barry’s neck and waited for it to be over.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, she had to admit that the return to Star City seemed to be taking longer than the trip to Central City.  She started counting seconds in her head and when she got to two hundred, she wondered if she should be worried.  Three minutes and change?  It had taken them less than a minute to go from Star City to Central City.

She put her mouth close to Barry’s ear.  “Barry.”

He didn’t respond.

“Barry!” she repeated more loudly, hoping to be heard over the rush of air. “Is there something wrong?  You’ve been running a long time.”

He gradually slowed and then came to a stop.

“I don’t know,” he said quietly, a frown creasing his forehead.  “I think…I think I might be lost.”

Lost?

He hung his head.  “Yeah.  When we left Central City it felt like something was chasing us.  I can’t explain it, exactly.  I didn’t see anything, but there was this…presence.  I took a few extra turns to try to lose it and ended up running down a tunnel.  When we came out of it, I couldn’t recognize anything.”

That didn’t sound good.

“Put me down,” she suggested.

He did as she asked and Felicity took a look at their surroundings.  They were standing under a tree in what appeared to be a city park.  She could see the outline of buildings in the distance, most of them stone or red brick and none of them terribly tall.  Judging by how far away the buildings were, the park was very large -- and they were somewhere in the middle of it.  There were wide open grassy areas dotted with small sections of woods, and networks of well-groomed paths meandered between the two.  She couldn’t recall ever being in the park or even seeing it before.  There certainly wasn’t anything like it in Star or Central Cities.  It felt warmer than Star City, too, although maybe that was a consequence of having been carried at Barry-speed for several minutes.

She shook her head.  “I don’t know where we are.  I don’t remember ever being here.”

The furrow in Barry’s brow deepened.  “Me either.”

She pulled out her cell phone.  The screen lit up, but she wasn’t getting a cellular signal.  When she opened the Maps app, it told her that her phone had lost the satellite connection. 

So, she couldn’t call anyone and there was no GPS.  Well, that sucked.

“Can you retrace your steps?” she asked Barry. “Go back the way you came?”  She figured she could take the train home if he returned them to Central City.  The train wouldn’t get her to Star City til well after dinner, but she’d be there in time to say goodnight to Oliver’s son, William, and talk with Oliver before they went to bed.

Barry pursed his lips.  “I can try.  C’mon.”

He picked her back up.  She put her arms around his neck and he started running once more.  She tried to keep her eyes open this time, but it was useless.  The pace at which he moved made nothing recognizable and watching objects pass at that speed was truly frightening.   She closed her eyes and began counting off the seconds again.

This time she didn’t have to ask Barry to stop – he did it of his own accord.  When Felicity opened her eyes and looked up, they were under that same tree in the same park.

Damn.

She exhaled heavily.  “Maybe we should find out where we are,” she said to Barry.  “If we have to, we can always get home the old fashioned way.  I’ve got my credit card – I can buy train or airplane tickets.”

“I suppose,” he said grouchily.  After a second, he added in a gentler tone, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to sound cranky.  It’s just that this is kind of embarrassing.”

Felicity patted his arm.  “Don’t worry about it,” she said.  “I’m sure this is something we’ll look back on and laugh about later.”  At least she hoped it was.  

Barry smiled sheepishly.  “Well, I’ll bet Cisco’s going to enjoy giving me a hard time when he hears--”   He abruptly stopped speaking and raised one finger to his lips.  He listened for a few seconds, and then said softly, “I think someone’s coming.”

Felicity held her breath and, sure enough, heard voices approaching – female voices.  She looked toward the nearest path and a pair of women emerged from a cluster of trees.   They were talking animatedly and didn’t notice Barry and Felicity.

The women were dressed strangely -- almost like something from that TV show Felicity used to watch as a kid, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.   Their elaborate skirts were ankle-length and they jutted out in the back, supported by what she was pretty sure were bustles.   Both of them had their hair pulled up in complicated twists and they carried small cloth bags as purses.

“Interesting outfits,” she murmured to Barry.  “Part of a theater troop?  Or maybe a historical reenactment?”  She noted that the women’s waists were tiny.  “I bet they’re really wearing corsets under all that stuff.   No one’s waist is that small.”  She shook her head.  “I don’t know how women could stand those things.  Talk about uncomfortable.”

Barry studied the women.  “Well, hopefully they live around here,” he murmured in return.  “Then they can help us figure out where we are.”  He straightened up. “Excuse me!” he called out.

At the sound of his voice, the women stopped walking and turned to look at Barry and Felicity.  Barry was wearing his polite, youthful smile, and the women quickly smiled in return.  As their gazes shifted to Felicity, however, their smiles faded.  She watched as their eyes traveled from her low boots to her jeans, to her long-sleeved tunic and finally to her face, and their expressions became confused and worried.  They looked as if they were debating resuming their walk.

“Maybe you can help us,” Barry called out again.  “We’re a little bit lost.”   When the women regarded him uncertainly, he added, “Please?”

Felicity almost grinned.  Barry at his boyish best was hard to resist, especially when he said please.   He gave the impression of being gentle (which he was) and completely harmless (which he definitely was not). After a glance at her companion, one of the women – a pretty brunette a few years older than Felicity -- shrugged.

“You’re in Central Park,” she said.  “Almost right in the middle of it.”

“Central Park,” Barry repeated.  “In what city?”

The women raised their eyebrows. 

“New York City, of course,” the brunette replied.

Felicity shook her head.  “This can’t be New York City.  Where’s the Empire State Building?  Where’s the Chrysler Building?” She gestured toward the distant edge of the park, where no structure appeared higher than fifteen stories.

The brunette gave her a strange look. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said after a moment, “but I can assure you that this is New York City.”  She paused and then added, “Given your attire, I assume you are an advocate for women’s suffrage.  Since you appear to be unfamiliar with our city, I would warn you that women can be arrested here for wearing trousers.  We’re not as liberal about these things in the East as you may have become accustomed to out West.”   Her companion, a petite strawberry blonde, nodded in agreement.

Well, that was entirely unhelpful.  “I think they’re taking the historical accuracy thing a little too seriously,” Felicity mumbled to Barry.  “It’s not as if they’re in the middle of their reenactment.”  In a louder voice she said to the women, “Look, I appreciate that you’re trying to stay in character for whatever it is that you’re doing, but we really are lost and would like to get home.  If you could just point us toward a train or bus station, we’ll be on our way.”

The brunette shrugged.  “Grand Central Depot is a few blocks east of the Park.”  She pointed vaguely toward a group of buildings in the distance.  “However, I must repeat that I do not think you will be allowed on the train.”

Oh for goodness sake! This was becoming annoying.  Felicity narrowed her eyes.  “Grand Central Depot?  Seriously?  If you could just stop acting for a minute and tell us--”

“Hang on,” Barry interrupted, placing his hand on Felicity’s arm.  “I’m not so sure she’s acting.”  

Felicity frowned.  “What do you mean?”  She thought about the implications of Barry’s words and lowered her voice. “You don’t think she’s really from the nineteenth century, do you?”  When he didn’t answer, she whispered, “You mean you think we’ve shifted in time?”

As the words left her mouth, she glanced at the women.  They weren’t laughing, but Felicity was pretty sure that was only because they hadn’t heard her.  It was a crazy theory.

Barry ran his hand over his face.  “I think it’s possible,” he replied quietly.  “I mean, we both know that I’ve been to alternate universes.  I can travel in time, too, given the right conditions.”

Felicity wasn’t ready to believe it.  “Alternate universes are one thing, Barry.  People have been known to bump into parallel worlds on rare occasions.  Traveling in time is a whole other story.  It’s not one of those things that just…happens.  And it’s not as if you were trying to time travel…were you?”

Barry clenched his jaw.  “Of course not.  But maybe that tunnel I ran through was some kind of wormhole.”  He gestured outside of the park.  “I mean, look around you; New York City – with no skyscrapers?  And I’m pretty sure those are horse drawn carriages I see in the distance.  How else do you explain it?  This would have to be one hell of a reenactment to be historically accurate over such a large area.”

Time travel.  Felicity felt a strange thrill, immediately followed by cold fear.  Traveling in time was something she had dreamt about as a kid when she’d devoured books like A Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me.  The present reality of it, however, was less romantic and more chilling.  Going back in time meant there wasn’t an airplane or a train in the world that could get her home to Oliver.   It meant that she might be stuck here, without him, for the rest of her life … and not allowed to wear pants.

“Barry,” she hissed under her breath, “you need to find that tunnel and bring us back through it.  You need to get us back to the twenty-first century.  I can’t stay in…in…” She called out to the women.  “Excuse, but what is today’s date?”

The brunette paused as if she were counting days in her head.  “It’s the sixth,” she replied.

“Of?”

The woman gave her an odd look.  “June.”  Felicity saw no hint that she was joking.

They had left Central City in April which meant the time travel theory was sounding more probable.  Damn.  Felicity took a deep breath before asking the scariest question. “What year?”

The brunette glanced at her blonde friend and then answered, “1884.”  She didn’t say the words aloud, but you idiot was very much implied in her response.

1884.  Oh holy, motherfracking…

1884.  History hadn’t been Felicity’s favorite subject, but even she knew that 1884 was a time when most folks didn’t have electricity, let alone cell phones or computers. There were gas lamps and horses, and questionable sanitation.  It was a time that rendered Felicity’s skills useless.  She couldn’t hack her way out of it; she couldn’t even order a takeout pizza.  Her heart plummeted as the brunette’s words confirmed her worst fears.

She grabbed Barry’s hand.  “You need to get us back, Barry,” she whispered sharply.  “Whatever you did when you came out of that tunnel, you need to reverse it…exactly.” 

“I just tried that, Felicity.”

“Well, try it again.  And be really precise this time.”

He looked into her eyes.  “You’re scared," he said finally.

“Aren’t you?  Barry, we’re in New York City in fracking 1884!   That’s three thousand miles and a hundred and thirty something years away from where I live.” She squeezed his hand tighter.  “It took me almost six years, but I’m finally with Oliver.  I get to sleep beside him every night and wake up with him every morning.  We don’t keep secrets from each other anymore and we’re happy.”  She closed her eyes.  “And now you want to tell me that I could be separated from him by…by… over a hundred years?  Not to mention that I can’t remember if the flush toilet has been invented yet.”  She shook her head. “I don’t understand why you’re not freaking out more.”

Barry smiled weakly.  “I understand about Oliver, Felicity.  You two deserve to be together, the same way Iris and I deserve to be together.  And I’m not freaking out more because I’ve been to a lot of weird places and I always manage to get home.  I will get you back to him from here – I promise.”

“How?”

He thought about it for a few seconds and then shrugged.  “I guess I’m going to try to find that tunnel,” he said.

“Good plan.”  She stepped closer to him and raised her arms.

“But maybe we should wait until our audience has left,” he added.   He gave a barely perceptible gesture in the direction of the two women.  They were openly staring at Barry and Felicity with frowns on their faces.  “I don’t think the nineteenth century is ready for The Flash.”

Felicity nodded and mumbled under her breath, “Oh, right.  Then let’s see if we can get them to leave now.” To the women, she called out, “Thank you for letting us know where we are.” (Not to mention when we are, she thought.)  “We can find our way from here.” When the women didn’t move, she pasted a reassuring smile on her face. “Really -- we appreciate the help and don’t want to hold you up any longer. We’re just going to…to…enjoy the park for a little while.  And then we’ll head for Grand Central Sta-Depot.”

The two women looked at each other and didn’t resume walking.  “There’s a dress shop,” the strawberry blonde said, “near the southeast corner of the park.”  She pointed in the general direction.  “I’m sure they’ll have something that can be altered quickly to fit you.  They also have petticoats and corsets.  That way you won’t have any trouble taking the train.”

Felicity raised her eyebrows.  “Umm…okay.  Thanks.”

The blonde’s expression turned wistful.  “You’re lucky to have a husband who allows you to dress like a man.  Is it comfortable -- wearing trousers?  I’ve always wondered.”  She cast a guilty glance at the brunette.

Felicity didn’t bother to correct her about Barry being her husband.  With any luck, she was never going to see these women again so there really was no point.  Instead, she nodded.  “Yes, it’s very comfortable.  I highly recommend it.”

“Oh.”

The brunette and blonde looked at each other once more.  “Well,” the blonde said, “I wish you the best.  Have a safe journey.”  She started down the path but the brunette seemed reluctant to leave.  She followed slowly behind her friend, turning her head every few steps to look at Felicity.  Finally, the blonde took the brunette’s elbow and tugged until the woman was walking by her side.

Barry waited until they were out of sight.  “Ready to try again?” he asked Felicity.

“Yes.”

“Okay.”  He held out his arms.  She climbed into them, thinking that Barry had carried her around a lot more than Oliver had lately.   At any other time she might have made a joke out of it, but at the moment it didn’t feel very funny.  Barry stood still and stared into the distance.

“Is everything all right?” she asked.

He nodded.  “Yes.  Just remembering the route.  I think I’ve got it.”

“Great.”

“Hang on, Felicity.”

She clutched his shoulders and closed her eyes. 

And Barry ran.

After a couple of seconds he called out, “I see it!  I see the tunnel!”

It was too hard to answer him, with the lights and the rushing air, so Felicity just clung tighter, her eyes still closed.

“I’m going into it!”

She smiled.  She was on her way home to Oliver.  She breathed out in relief and thought about telling him her time travel story later tonight.  She wondered if he would be amused or angry.

And then something grabbed her. 

She wasn’t sure what it was.  It didn’t feel like a person – more like a magnetic force – but whatever it was, it wrenched her out of Barry’s arms.  She opened her eyes and saw nothing – not Barry, not another person.  Just the same swirl of colors that she always saw when Barry ran.  She felt helpless, like she was being carried on a current of rushing water, only there was no water – or maybe the colors were the water.    She tried to call for Barry but her voice was lost in the sound of the air.

And then she was motionless.

When she looked up, she was back under the tree in Central Park.  And judging by the buildings, she was back in old Central Park – 1884 Central Park.

Only this time, Barry was nowhere to be seen.  She was alone.


* "Stuck in the Middle with You" by  Stealers Wheel