It had taken a lot to arrange a fishing boat to pick him up on an island in the middle of nowhere that the local fisherman had been told their entire careers not to go to. It had been difficult to erase any evidence that he had left the island. It was incredibly time-consuming to erase the evidence of Fryers, Ivo, and Reiter's while also making sure that it looked like an amateur had managed to survive for 5 years on Lian Yu. Now standing on the fishing boat wrapped in a blanket and being handed a working cell phone with reception he finally felt that he had made it to the easy part. Dialling his mother's cell number which had been drilled into his head so much as a child; five years in hell and he could still rattle it off with ease.
"Hello." Hearing his mother's voice as she picked up the phone felt like a weight off his shoulder.
"Mom, it's Oliver" Before he could say anything else his mother hung upon him. So he tried again with his little sister Thea.
"Thea, it's Oliver," Before he could say anything else Thea interpreted.
"Can't you jerks just leave my family in peace. Fuck off!" She also immediately hung up.
Next Oliver tried the company he still knew the passwords to get his message sent immediately to the CEO.
A smooth British accident picked up with a friendly "hello"
"Hi, it's Oliver Queen I am struggling to get in contact with my family."
"The Queen's are a grieving family. If you continue with these distressing and fraudulent actions not only will charges be pressed but you will be sued for everything that you have." It was short and sharp followed immediately by a dial tone.
Finally, he tried Tommy, Tommy had dropped everything to try and find him in Hong Kong just because he had logged onto an email account surely he would at least chance a trip to Hong Kong for a phone call.
"Tommy it's Oliver please you have to listen to me." he pleaded.
"Please-" Tommy's voice was weak "stop calling, stop pretending to be Oliver when we've already lost him-" His voice broke and it sounded like he was crying. "Just leave us alone." He hung up quickly and Oliver felt lost.
What was he supposed to do, he could think of a million ways to get to starling all of which would give him away and there would be a lot of questions that would be asked. He wouldn't just be risking everything his father had wanted for him, but he would be lucky if he didn't end up in a black site prison. The fisherman dropped him off on the pier in Hong Kong, he didn't have a penny in his pocket the man had taken back his cellphone. He couldn't contact anyone without blowing his cover and he had no back-up plan. He had really thought that getting back to starling would be easy.
After a few hours, of wandering around the city he came up with a plan B, a little old lady has asked him in broken English which embassy he needed directions to. It honestly didn't sound like that bad of a plan and so in the dead of night and after more than one mugging attempt, he walked into the American embassy in Hong Kong.
It was a very clean and prestigious looking place and in dirty falling apart clothes, a scruffy beard and long hair Oliver was getting looks that he had never gotten before. The what the fuck are you doing here look, a you aren't good enough for this place look; Queen's don't get that kind of treatment, they get escorted by men in fancy suits. After going through the security he was pointed to a tired-looking woman in a booth.
"Hello sir how can I help you, sir," she said with a bit of a grimace.
"My name is Oliver Queen I am a US citizen, I have been stranded for five years and I want to go home." He said earnestly hoping that every inch of his privileged starling accent came through with no hint of Chinese or Russian that he knew must have peaked through occasionally. She looked up at him with a suspicious eye and looked at the T.V playing in the background and he realised why everyone was so suspicious of him. It was to the day the fifth anniversary of the Gambitts sinking, it must have been getting a decent amount of news coverage.
"Look, mam, I will do anything to prove to you I am Oliver Queen. I know for a fact that you have my fingerprints and DNA samples on the record you have to be able to just match me to that." Oliver pleaded.
"Let me call my supervisor." She said with a concerned glance.
An average looking guy in a suit came down and stared at him for a while.
"Have you got any documentation sir," he asked dubiously
"No all of my documents got destroyed on the Queen's Gambit." Oliver almost pleaded.
"Will you follow me, sir." He asked and as Oliver followed him he tried to stay at a short distance and Oliver didn't blame him as his clothes smell like fish.
They took him into a small medical office and a nurse took his blood, and his fingerprints before they sent him into an interrogation looking room. Just the look of the room reminded him of his time in A.R.G.U.S. The man that had picked him up from the lobby was now sitting on the opposite of the table and by the looks of it was basing this interaction on shitty spy movies. He wanted every single detail of the gambits sinking through to the lifeboat and the island. They asked a lot of questions of how he survived the island and dear lord it was hard to come up with ways that he would have survived without help and finally they asked about his trip back. With one question being repeated, why now? Apparently, because it was the first time a boat came near enough the island to get its attention was not acceptable. After a couple of hours, they were just repeating questions and still not believing his answers which was particularly weird as it was the true answers they had the hardest time with. Finally when Oliver thought that the interrogation would never end a woman snuck in and handed a file over to the man.
"Well Mr Queen, it appears your story checks out, the fisherman had cited picking you up and your blood works and fingerprints are a match to Oliver Queen's records." He was stern and clearly not happy or pleased with the results.
"Thank you," Oliver said with a smug smile although it probably didn't look right with the beard and scruffy hair.
"If you come with us we have a doctor on-site that is going to give you a physical and make sure you are healthy." he beckoned him back to the small nurses' office.
The physical wasn't brilliant. He knew that there were problems with his health, some bones hadn't healed right, he had an awful lot of scars and he was a little malnourished. The doctor, however, was not used to dealing with these kinds of issues, fuck he was a doctor at an embassy he dealt with colds, hangovers and STD's. He wanted to ask about each and every scar and talk in detail about his diet with whatever I can get apparently not being an acceptable response.
After a few hours, they finally sent him into a lounge where there were a handful of men in suits and a woman in a tight pencil skirt.
"Mr Queen, would you please join us," one of the men said pointing towards a cream sofa. "We have been trying to get in touch with your family but that has been rather difficult." Oliver nodded leaning back as the older man continued. "However as you are an American citizen particularly a member of such esteemed family we are not going to leave you stranded here." Oliver breathed out a sigh of relief he had an out. "You will be staying here in Hong Kong for a couple of days, we will be putting you up in a hotel while we get you documents and help make arrangements to reverse the declaration of death your family made. Then we can fly you back to Starling and you can go visit your family. If that sounds alright with you?" The man asked finally coming to an end.
"Yes, that sounds perfect," Oliver said as the room stared at him with bated breath.
"Good, good, Now we usually do a press conference prior repatriating an American citizen who has been missing for so long particularly with the level of news coverage you got. However, if that's not to your liking we can give you a couple of days to see your family" For a man that has seemed so sure he seemed pretty unsure of himself.
"Yes well particularly with the current difficulties we have been having with my family. It might be best for us to wait until after I am actually with my family to make any public statements." Oliver said firmly, why the fuck was his family being so difficult.
"Good, Brilliant Miss Leist will take you to your hotel and arrange for some fresh clothes to be sent to you," He indicated towards the only woman in the room who was nervously shuffling in the back of the room and the quickly went about the process of shepherding him into a car and taking him to his hotel.
They had set him up in a suit in the InterContinental Hotel. He had stayed there with his family many years prior and it was certainly an improvement of the Argus facility that he had stayed at last time he was in Hong Kong. He dived into the shower and was finally able to shave and change into clean pyjamas that the hotel was provided. Oliver spent a few days at the hotel just as the embassy had told him. They gave him some money so he was able to go out and buy some clean clothes that fit which he genuinely hadn't been able to do since the gambit. He went swimming in the pool and enjoyed room services and tried to get used to the luxuries that used to define his life. It wasn't as easy as it should have been the bed was too soft and he was constantly looking over his shoulder assuming that there would be someone there who wanted him dead.
He stayed at the hotel for nine days, he mainly had free time but he had to go back to the embassy a couple of times. They would just call him in the morning and inform him that they needed him for some further identification or for some documentation and a car would be there to pick him up in a few hours. He had to stand in front of a camera and let some facial recognition software do its job. Sign written statements about his time on Lian Yu and the Queens Gambit and of course he had to have a passport photo taken.
At 6 am ten days after he had arrived in Hong Kong he was picked up from his hotel and placed on a plane headed to starling. They gave him a new smartphone (which a very patient secretary to teach him how to use) and a couple of hundred dollars. Everything that he had brought in Hong Kong was in a small backpack along with a folder on how to remove his death in absentia and get access to his property that had been distributed after his death.
Oliver spent the 16-hour flight trying to catch up on movies that he had missed while he was away based on the recommendation of a young flight attendant. She was the kind of girl that he would have chased after years ago and he could see himself 5 years ago convincing her to join the mile high club in the bathroom. After 16 hours in the skies, 3 years away from the states and 5 years since he had actually gone home Oliver saw the skyline of Starling.
Oliver got off the plane feeling invigorated looking forward to seeing his family and determined to get on with his father's mission to save this city. He, however, had no idea how to get home a quick talk with the man at the taxi rank said that the money the embassy gave him would not get him home. This was not an experience that Oliver Queen had ever experienced before and a woman whose job it was to help lost tourists pointed him towards the train station and showed him how to use google maps to use public transport.
The train was hot and stuffy and filled with people and massive suitcases that left him pushed up against a pole as people continually bumped into him. It was an absolute headache he got out in the middle of the city centre and followed the mass of people and some badly placed signs to the bus terminal and it wasn't until he went to the bus that would get him to a 45 minute walk to the Queen mansion that he actually questioned what the reaction when he got home would be. His family hadn't exactly encouraged him over the phone and while he had back-ups in terms of the documents and that the government press conference was planned for one weeks time. He just wasn't sure on how to react to his family which he will admit to having put on a pedestal rejecting him.
The bus was far less full and Oliver was lucky enough to get a seat and he sat and watched as the city blew past the window.
"Oi," a man standing up on the bar said grabbing Oliver's attention "You ever been told that you look like that missing billionaire, Oliver Queen." He laughed.
"I am." Oliver nodded severely
"No seriously dude you look like that Oliver Queen guy." the stranger repeated getting the attention of some other people on the bus.
"I am Oliver Queen." He confirmed smiling slightly.
"Nah dude, he went and died in a shipwreck years ago." Some woman sitting in the corner said taking her headphones out.
"Didn't die just missing, I castaway on an island in the south china sea got picked by a fishing vessel a few days ago." He smirked
"Seriously." A man in the seat in front of him grumbled.
"Yeah, I'm just going home now." He smiled trying to come off as the flirty charming playboy he used to be.
"Why are you taking the bus if you are a billionaire." A teenage girl asked
"I'm not, I was technically never a billionaire but the money I have was distributed after I was declared dead apparently it will take a few months to sort out." He smiled "and as for why I'm on the bus because apparently, the government doesn't give you enough cash for a taxi when they repatriate you."
"I don't believe you." The girl said
"You don't have to, but keep an eye on the news in the next couple of weeks and you might change your mind." His phone buzzed and he saw the phone alerting him to get off the bus "anyway, this is my stop." He winked and jumped off the bus and started the trek to his house.
The walk wasn't as long as he expected and was in fact rather enjoyable the sun was shining and it was near literally a walk down memory lane. Many of the houses he walked past he had played at as a child both because he was generally friends with the other kids from school and some because his mother insisted that it was important for the family. There were a handful of houses that had changed or new ones had been built and that was quite grounding. He was coming home but he wasn't the same person from five years ago and neither was his city.
When he reached his childhood home he decided to take a wild stab in the dark and just put in the old security code rather than trying to sneak in. It worked. He was able to walk right through as if it was only yesterday that he had lived in what he now realised was a relatively intimidating mansion. He knocked on the front door and Raisa the women who may have been hired as a housekeeper but had done more to raise him than anything else. He cried her name in shock and she wrapped his arms around him and shuffled him inside.
"Mr Oliver, how are you here?" Raisa cried still not letting go of him.
"I got picked up by a fishing boat a few days ago and the US government arranged for me to fly here," Oliver said with a shrug.
"We thought you were dead." She cried
"Apparently not." He smirked, he honestly felt guilty for having not come back to them sooner, as Raisa took him to the sofa.
"None of your family said anything about you coming home."
"I haven't been able to get hold of any of them, so I decided to come home and see them in person." He laughed "Speaking of, where are they?."
"They are at the port for the 5 year anniversary of the sinking" Raisa explained softly.
"Ohh, I guess that I will have to wait until they get back." He mumbled
"Well, while you are waiting for them. I'll have to make you something to eat, You must be starving." Raisa said standing up
"I am a little hungry" He laughed
"I will make you all of your favourites" She stood up and walked towards the kitchen but when she got to the doorway she turned around and checked multiple times as if she wasn't sure when she turned back that she would be there.
As a whole the afternoon wasn't that bad, he slowly got re-accustomed to the house and studied the changes. It was both more and less than he expected, the furniture was the same as was all the artwork and there was even one of his jackets on the coat racks. There were also photos with an unfamiliar man and a lack of Thea's toys and books. They were replaced with some platform stilettos and a couple of clutch purses with cocaine on them. There were just enough differences that it didn't quite feel right although his room was identical.
He sat down in the lounge with a coffee in his hand and leaned back in the new recliner in the family room that was a definite improvement on the old one. Talking with Raisa about her grandchildren and things that had changed over 5 years when they heard the cars come up the driveway and Raisa went to answer the door. Oliver stayed hidden in his seat frozen after the rejection on the phone in wasn't sure what was going to happen next. As he heard the inane chatter between his mother, Thea, Tommy and Walter he stood up and slowly turned around to face his mother. The whole world seemed to move in slow motion as his family looked at him with a shocked reaction on their faces.
"Hi mom" Oliver said with a smile watching as she dropped her bag and ran to him. This was more of the greeting he had been expecting.