Chapter 1


Astrid sat in a high class nightclub in Sterling City, sipping a glass of wine and dodging passes from sleazy patrons. She had come for one reason, and one reason only. She held out her card and handed it to the female bartender that she had befriended using small talk. "Pay for that man's next drink." She told the young woman, pointing her gaze to the man who had just entered the room.


The woman gasped, "You have good taste, that's Oliver Queen."


Astrid nodded and left the bar to find a private booth, taking her glass and leaving her card with the bartender. She found one in the shadows, only illuminated by a dim lamp on the brown papered walls.


She took a sip from her wine and watched from her peripheral vision as Oliver approached the bar and ordered his drink. She turned away and hoped that the bartender had pointed him in her direction. She could hear his thoughts before she could see him.


"Fancy seeing you here..." he told her out loud as he sat down across from her at the table with a glass of scotch. He handed over her master card and continued, "the bartender said you offered to pay, but you know me..."


Astrid took her card from him, "Yes I do know you. But I haven't seen you in what? Seven years? I mean you did only just come back from the dead a year ago... and I missed you. So I thought I would come for a visit, better late than never..."


"I take it that this has nothing to do with our phone call today?" he asked her. It did, but she wasn't going to admit that. "No, why would it?" she flirted.


Astrid took another sip of her drink. Only to realize that she had finished it. Noticing this, Oliver raised his hand up for a waiter to come by and order her another one.


Once the waiter had left Astrid leaned in and looked at Oliver seriously. "The truth is. I need your help..." Oliver nodded, he had predicted this, since the moment he had seen her sitting there.


"You know that meteor shower a few months back?" she asked him.


He nodded, waiting for her to say something about her father's death and the stress of inheriting the company.


"Well, when I awoke from my coma... it changed me. It gave me some sort of... ability," she told him. He stared at her, waiting for her to continue.


"I can..." she was trying to think of the right words to say. This was the first time that she had spoken it out loud, as quiet as she was speaking.


"I can read minds, Ollie. I can hear what people are thinking..." Oliver cleared his mind. He wasn't expecting her to tell him this. "you can read minds?"


"I can read minds." She repeated, "like I just knew that you were thinking about the island, just now."


Oliver leaned back in his chair and took another sip of his scotch. "Does anybody else know?" he asked her.


"Not unless someone has the same gift as I do. I haven't told anyone...until now. I don't even know why I am telling you. I suppose it's because I was always able to trust you in the past... but I haven't even told Cisco... and now I am rambling."


The waiter brought Astrid a fresh glass of wine over. She sipped it and focused on the waiter's mind, who immediately left. "He wants to ask out the girl at the bar..." she told Oliver, referring to the waiter.


"So this gift? You can read anyone's mind?" Oliver asked. 


"Anyone that I focus on. It's actually pretty easy." Astrid tried to focus on Oliver's mind again.


"That's strange, I can't read yours at the moment." She was surprised, "It's like there is some sort of wall. I could before."


"I've had practice with being unreadable. So you never explained why you need my help." Oliver asked her.


"I don't think that I even know. I think it's more that I needed to get away and you were offering me a way out. I needed to go somewhere that no one knew me. Somewhere I can come to terms with this gift, before I reveal it to my friends."


Astrid stared at her drink. The sound of a woman screaming distracted them both. They looked up to see a group of men dressed in black and holding rifles in their hands. They were pointing the weapons at the patrons. They were looking for someone and ransacking the place in the process. The music had stopped entirely.


"Get under the table!" Oliver demanded of Astrid, quietly.


"Where are you going?" she asked him as he stood up to leave.


"Just stay under the table. Don't make a sound." Astrid listened to him, and crawled under the table adjusting her short blue dress as she knelt down.


She focused her thoughts on the men. Trying to hear if someone was approaching her. She couldn't see due to the lounge being in the way. She could hear people screaming. The men were yelling. "Where is he?! Where is Reynolds?!" 


"He isn't here," The woman at the bar answered in fear. "He hasn't been here all day."


Astrid shifted her focus to the footsteps that were coming closer. She gulped. 'I swore there was someone here before.' The thoughts of the man who was coming closer.


Astrid mentally prepared herself. If the man found her, she would be willing to fight. But throwing herself into the fight would be reckless.


"He's here!" one of the men declared, "It's The Arrow!"


Loud shots echoed in the room, startling Astrid as she put her hands to her ears tightly. She could hear screams. The man who had walked towards her went back towards the bar.


She poked her head out, subtly and was astounded to see The Arrow in action. Deflecting bullets and shooting arrows at the men. She was in awe.


She noticed a group of young frightened patrons across from her. On the right of her was the bar to the left, there was a side exit. If the Arrow could keep the men distracted, she could get the patrons to safety. She managed to wave at them from her hiding spot. She looked towards the men to see that she was not in eyesight.


She crept towards the frightened group and whispered for them to make their way towards the exit. She approached another group and got them to follow the first group, telling them all to stay low. She kept her eyes on the action and managed to sneak another group out to the exit, still keeping low to the ground.


The Arrow locked his eyes on to her. She was clearly acting reckless. One of the men fell back as he was struck by an arrow in the leg. As he tried to clamber to his feet he spotted Astrid and reached for his weapon. Astrid froze in her tracks. She read his mind. The man was ready to shoot her.


Astrid breathed deep. Would this be her last breath? She kept her eyes locked on his. Suddenly, his eyes opened wide and he began to choke. A thick red substance spilled from his mouth. Blood. Astrid gasped as she saw that an arrow had been shot into the man's ear.


Shock struck her as the man died before her eyes. She didn't know how much time had passed until she saw Oliver crouching over her. "Astrid, it's ok. You're safe."


She looked at him blankly and allowed him to help her to her feet. "The man... he... he is dead..." she gasped.


Police began piling in and asking questions. Not a single patron had been hurt. The Arrow had arrived just in time, and he had left before the police had got there. "Take me to my hotel, please?" Astrid asked Oliver. She didn't want to stay here a moment longer.


"No.. You can stay with me, Let's get out of here." Oliver took her by the hand and they left.



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