Oliver had been back in starling city for less than a week and he already remembered why he had taken so long to come back. Sure he had missed his family, there were some foods that he had been craving for a while and there was something pretty amazing about sleeping in a bed where the person sleeping in the next room didn't want to kill you. The downsides of being back home, however, were making themselves rather apparent incredibly quickly. It had been more disconcerting than he thought it would be to see Thea all grown up and a drug addict face to face. As were the little luxuries he hadn't had during his 5 years of escapades that he thought would be a welcome change. He had also thought that he had dealt with the wounds of the Queen's Gambit but apparently Startling was bringing it all back.
Despite the new issues, his biggest problem was the things that made him wish he had either stayed in Russia or even on the fucking Island were the same things that had led him to the Queen's Gambit. The 'family image'. The goddamned Family image, why on earth his mother thought that he could take over a new wing of the company or decide that he would now be able to fit into the image of the perfect son that he hadn't been able to do even before watching his father shoot himself in the head. Somehow, even after the last five years of hell that he had been through he still had to deal with the same sons of bitches his mother had always wished he was; especially Carter Bowen.
The Bowens had decided to host a small brunch and Mother had forced him and Thea to go, and pretend to be the model children she wished they were. Thankfully Tommy had turned up as well and so they were standing next to the bar drinking champagne. Carter Bowen was just as infuriating as when he left and was standing in front of a crowd of parents bragging about his latest achievement. All the while everyone under 40 stared at him with utter contempt, it was good to see that even the other overachieves hated, Carter Bowen.
"What is that outside, Janice?" A woman that Oliver couldn't quite remember asked, pointing to a massive obstacle course on the lawn.
"Ohh that, Carter, has been asked to take place in America Ninja Warrior when it comes to town next week as one of the celebrities to start it off," Janice responded as smug and proud as ever.
"That's very impressive Carter," Moira said before looking at Oliver with the disappointed smile that seemed to have not left her face since he came home.
"Why don't you demonstrate for us, Carter," Tommy said in a tone that managed to sound serious.
"Yes give us a sneak peek" Simon Morrison mocked with far less tact than Tommy. Thankfully for Oliver and all the other 'misfits', the parents seem to agree particularly Lucile Bowen and Carter was never one to disobey his mother.
"Of course if that's what you all want then, I'll go and change immediately," Carter responded as he ran off and he did not look happy about it.
"What an asshole" Oliver whispered to Tommy
"Yeah, and the worst part is he is probably going to be brilliant at it as normal." Tommy begrudgingly sighed.
"What exactly is American Ninja Warrior?" Oliver whispered, not wanting to admit to the wider world that he had no idea what they are talking about.
"It's this reality TV show where they compete in a series of obstacle courses and some go on to the next round. They normally have a few celebrities take part most of the time they end up getting dumped in the water."
"That should be entertaining at least." Oliver laughed
"Yeah but Janice wouldn't encourage him to do it unless he was brilliant at it," Thea groaned as the man finally appeared downstairs in exercise gear. Slowly the group followed him outside to where the obstacle course was laid out.
"This is the same one that they used last year, the prick has built a full-size replica for him to practice on." Thea groaned
As Carter jumped on the platform the crowd of socialites gathered on the lawn, and he ran. He jumped over some tilted platforms and walked over some weird steps before swinging on a rope and running over a turntable before dropping when trying to hang onto some sliding bars. Oliver couldn't help but laugh as he watched them fall on to some soft mats.
"In the show that would be water," Thea whispered through laughter.
As the laughing got louder Carter was clearly getting annoyed (as was Janice) "well do you want to have a go then Simon," Carter blurted out with far less grace than Oliver had ever heard before. Simon's face, however, was priceless as everyone turned to him and he had to take part. Simon was even funnier than Carter as he slipped on the quintuple steps. As he fell he nominated Michael and began a pattern of nomination for another to fall on their arse. In the end, there was a second shift as well, as not only were more of the boys nominating each other they were stripping down and going shirtless for it. Thea much to Oliver's discomfort was very much enjoying this change.
"This is becoming worse than the ice bucket challenge," Tommy whispered.
"what?" Oliver whispered back
"It was a whole thing last year," Thea said rolling her eyes. She was getting fed up with Oliver's lack of knowledge and Tommy took a breathe in.
"no-one is going to be able to do this, people train for this professionally," Tommy said as he tried to change the subject off of the siblings strained the relationship.
"So far they have all failed because they were lacking in upper body strength and made it worse for themselves by dragging their lower bodies around, instead of bringing them in close," Oliver said as Tommy and Thea stared at him for a second.
The three of them watched as people went and fell into the pits, all while explaining to Oliver what the aim was and what the obstacles were called. So far no one had even managed to make it to the warped wall let alone to the top of it.
"Tommy!" a shout came out from the mats, John had just fallen off of the quintuple steps, "get your arse over here and on this course."
While Tommy Ummed and ahhed for a second the public pressure built up and it became apparent that there was no way out of this. Tommy shrugged his shoulders and headed up to the podium, tacking of his shirt as he did so as many of the others had.
"I am going to regret this," Tommy said as he stepped up.
True to form Tommy didn't do that badly, he had always focused on keeping his body in shape so that is favourite pick up line would continue to work. "I'm a billionaire but I don't look like Warren Buffett." As he ran across the steps and swung on the Flying fox with ease, he fell to pieces, however, as soon as he had to jump on the flywheel's not being able to catch his grip quick enough. Oliver couldn't help bursting into loud boisterous laughter, the likes of which he hadn't done since the Queen's Gambit sunk. Thea looked up at him with a small smile having noticed the difference from his normal tone.
"I heard that Ollie, if you think that you can do better up you come," Tommy shouted out of breath as he remained to lie face up on the mats.
"I know I can do better," Oliver shouted and ran up first giving Tommy a hand up of the mats before running up to the podium and slipping off his jacket.
"Come on Ollie, you were never one to be ashamed of your body." Amanda something said, Oliver was very sure he had slept with her once upon a time. As the crowd realised that unlike the last 5 'contestants' Oliver was very much still clothed. Ignoring a few chants of him to strip off like the others, he stretched for a second before diving onto the steps.
Jumping between the five with ease, while still being more cautious than most by grabbing hold of the top of each step. If there was one thing that the island had taught him it was that it is always best to be cautious, an unnecessary risk was the most deadly thing you could do. He swung on a rope and ran up to the next obstacle; The flying fox he gripped on to the ball, and tucked his body in tight, and landed without a problem, on the mats and ran up to the flywheel, Without pause, he jumped grabbing onto the flywheel, it took him a second to get his grip but once he had it he started swinging his body to get his momentum. He quickly jumped from wheel to wheel landing dodgily on the last one and dislocating his wrist.
Despite the pain in his wrist he still had a few obstacles left and he needed to be better than Carter Bowen at something and this was the only way he could make his skills public. He ran across the swirly Square things easily despite seeing a few people trip on it, the only necessity seemed to be speed and stepping carefully, a lot easier and with much lower stakes than dodging mines.
The next obstacle was the battering ram and if he was honest it was the one he was most nervous about, he had never dealt with an obstacle like this on the island. Wrapping his arms around the padded bar it was pretty obvious what he was meant to do, it all came rather intuitively. The jump from bar to bar was difficult but he had enough knowledge of how this stuff normally worked to get high get momentum and think it through without hanging on for an hour and wasting his energy. The jump itself ended up going seamlessly and so he only had the warped wall, which as the only obstacle I hadn't seen someone do it nor had anyone mentioned how you were meant to do it.
"So I'm just meant to run up it," he questioned looking at Tommy.
"Yes, you just run at it and try and grab the top and pull yourself up," Tommy responded slightly shocked. It didn't sound that difficult, I have definitely done that before so I got to the furthest bit back and ran at the wall getting a grip with my good hand and pulling myself up and hitting the button on the top causing a time to pop up on a screen.
As he looked out on to the crowd and they were staring jaw dropped at him before Thea started clapping and others joined in. Oliver knew that this was the moment that he was meant to showboat, it's what he would have done before Lian yu and it was what the character he was meant to be playing would do. At that moment though it was the last thing he wanted to do, he was genuinely proud of his physical ability and he was enjoying that they were impressed by it. So instead of joking around and jumping he gave a small smile and jumped down to go back to Tommy and Thea.
"How the fuck did you do that?" Thea asked with disbelief
"Hey, your big brother is full of surprises." Oliver shrugged wrapping an arm around Thea. "Besides this has nothing on a desert island." He said winking at Tommy.
The rest of the party guests were finally starting to move around and Oliver took a second and popped his wrist back into place much to the horror of everyone watching him.
"You know that you are meant to go to the hospital for something that serious. Or at least ask one of the 10's of doctors that are literally watching you right now." Lousie Blackley groaned walking over to them and grabbing his wrist.
"In fact you should probably still go to the hospital, mind you, you seemed to have set it perfectly" She admired double-checking his wrist shocked.
"It's fine, I know how to set it and I know when it is right" Oliver shrugged as she let go of his wrist. She looked like she wanted to argue but held her tongue "you are as stubborn as ever Ollie". She said with a bright smile.
Oliver could see that his mother was looking on with a smile while the rest of the party-goers were glancing over at him. As the party went on with random guests coming up to him and asking how he was and where he learnt to do that. It was actually really nice to be treated like a normal person that had done something positive, he definitely hadn't gotten anything like that in the last five year and if he was honest not since he was a little kid. His mother looked genuinely proud of him it was nice, maybe coming back home wasn't as bad as he thought.