Slade opened his eyes, confused. He hadn’t been woken up by a storm for a long time and there was no reason for him to be woken up by one now. He sat up, trying to figure out what had woken him up, and he heard a pathetic whimpering noise. He turned towards Oliver’s bedroll, but the kid wasn’t there. He looked around, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, and spotted Oliver curled up against the wall of the fuselage.
Slade got up and walked over to Oliver, sitting down and leaning against the wall next to him.
"What's up, kid?"
"Storm. I can't- I don't like storms anymore," Oliver said quietly. “Not after the boat…”
Damn, Slade thought, The Queen’s Gambit. Kid’s probably got PTSD. Fuck.
Lightning flashed and Oliver managed to cover his ears just as the thunder rumbled again, letting out a muffled whimper.
Now, you’d never get him to admit it, but Slade had developed a bit of a soft spot for Oliver. No, who am I kidding, he thought. It’s a huge soft spot. Damn kid has a way of worming his way into your heart like that. Either way, he liked the kid and he wasn’t going to let him deal with PTSD on his own. He scooted closer to Oliver and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him against him.
Oliver pulled his hands away from his ears and opened his mouth to say something, but just as he began to speak lightning flashed, thunder rumbling almost immediately after. Oliver snapped his mouth shut and curled into Slade, tucking his face into his neck. Slade immediately reached up to cup Oliver’s head with his free hand, resting his chin on the kid’s head.
“You’re okay,” he said softly, sliding his arm down around Oliver’s back and tightening his grip. “You’re not on the boat, kid. You’re okay.”
Oliver squeezed his eyes shut, pressing his face against Slade’s neck when another clap of thunder hit. He wasn’t sure why Slade was comforting him instead of yelling at him for being weak and waking him up, but he wasn’t going to risk him stopping by questioning him.
As the thunder kept coming, Oliver felt a pressure building behind his eyes. No, don’t cry, don’t cry, he told himself, You’ve already pushed your luck beyond what should be possible, don’t cry, you’re going to fuck it all up. Oliver tried his best, but once a few tears managed to sneak out the rest followed quickly.
Slade felt something wet on his neck and was confused until Oliver let out a sob. It seemed that once he started he couldn’t stop, and pretty soon Oliver was flat out sobbing as the thunder kept rumbling around them.
“Aw kid,” Slade murmured, threading his fingers into Oliver’s hair and gently scratching at his head, “I’ve gotcha, you’re okay.”
“Sorry,” Oliver managed. “Can’t- I- Sorry.”
“It’s alright, kid. Don’t apologize. You’re alright.”
“Slade,” he gasped, finally wrapping his arms around the older man as a particularly loud rumble of thunder occurred.
“Right here, kid. Right here,” he said softly. “I’ve gotcha.”
“I’m scared, don’t wanna drown,” Oliver mumbled.
“You’re not gonna drown, kid. I promise. We’re in the middle of an island in a plane. No where near the ocean,” Slade reassured him, firmly rubbing his back.
“I know, I’m still scared, though.”
“How about this, kid. You start to drown, I’ll save you. I’m a great swimmer, you know.”
“Thanks,” Oliver said, surprised.
The thunderclaps kept getting further apart and quieter, and Oliver’s tears began to dry. He was still scared, but it wasn’t as bad now that the storm was further away.
“You okay now, Kid?” Slade asked once the storm had almost completely dissipated.
“Better. Sorry for being weak.”
“Everyone’s got something, kid. Your thing just happens to be thunderstorms. It’s not your fault.”
“You’re not mad?” Oliver said, his hopefulness peeking through.
“Not mad, kid. Promise.”
“Thank you, Slade.”