FF# 40: It’s Christmas Eve, Carter Bowen (Step Away)
This is my first attempt at one of these Flash Fic challenges. The prompt was Christmas Eve. I hope I’ve done it right!
Who invited Carter
Bowen to this Christmas party? That was foremost in Oliver Queen’s mind as
he entered Queen Inc.’s lobby and spotted his childhood nemesis on the other
side of the room. It was the first official social event, post-renaming, and
the room sounded like a beehive accompanied by seasonal music.
Rather than making it a stuffy gala affair, Felicity had
suggested something different – a two-hour informal gathering for a last minute
toy drive. Everyone was asked to bring a wrapped gift and afterwards they would
be distributed to the local hospitals in time for Christmas morning. Since the event
would be short, people could get back to their usual traditions. The room was
festooned with white trees and silver garland with pops of red glass balls.
Oliver’s day had been crazy, filled with grocery shopping
for Christmas dinner, last minute wrapping, a workout with Digg and then a
quick stop home to clean up and dress for the occasion. That made him
approximately 30 minutes late – fashionable by some standards, unforgivable by
Felicity’s. She was the CEO now and while she was perfectly comfortable in the
boardroom, she was still unaccustomed to being a hostess. She was counting on Oliver
to step up and deploy his Queen charm to take the rough edges off the social
awkwardness she swore she had, but no one actually noticed.
Why was Carter Bowen
standing so close to Felicity? That was second-most in Oliver’s mind. Why
was he flashing his expensive smile and preening in a Hugo Boss suit, like Hugo
Boss was still alive and he’d sewn it especially for his favorite client,
Carter Bowen? Felicity looked fetching tonight in a green blouse and black
skirt, decorated with snowflakes.
just touch her arm? Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen again. Unfortunately,
the crowd was so dense and people with familiar faces, he knew he wouldn’t make
it across the room in less than ten minutes.
The tinkle of frantic tapping on a champagne flute drew
attention. Felicity, grateful for any distraction from the overly-attentive “TV
doctor,” turned with everyone else. Her eyes lit up and her mouth took on a
There was Oliver, perched atop the Security Desk, holding
his drink and a pen he was using to tap the edge of the glass. He was wearing
it – the penguin sweater she had given him as a Hanukkah gift a few nights earlier.
She laughed so hard when he opened it and held it up to his frame to model it.
She hadn’t expected him to wear it in public, but then it was just like him to
stare danger in the face and wink at it.
He scanned the crowd and finally locked eyes on Felicity. She
bit her bottom lip and he smiled broadly. There was a silent acknowledgement of
his outfit. The bastard looked handsome in everything. The room finally hushed
and he held court. Like Oliver Queen.
“Hey everybody! It’s me.” Oliver projected his voice like he’d
been taking lessons his whole life, because he had and his winning small
already won over the room. “I hope you won’t mind, but this will only take a
minute. First, I know you are all jealous of my sweater, right?” Oliver’s blue
eyes sparkled and the room erupted in laughter at the face of the penguin that decorated
his expansive chest.
“Well, you can’t have it. It was a present from my girl and
I love it.” He grinned at Felicity while faces in the crowd turned, smiling at
her. “Hey, Carter! I see you over there.” Carter Bowen looked at him quizzically.
Oliver waved his hand, indicating he should step away from the blonde. Carter
sighed, now informed, and shifted toward the open bar. Mission accomplished,
Oliver nodded to Felicity with a smirk.
#BlackoutDay is now Seasonal on all social media platforms
When we started #BlackoutDay, we had a vision that it would be a monthly event, which would be the first Friday of every month. We figured that this would be a great way to build moral, especially with all of the news about Black people that hit us daily, especially within the past few years.
We rely heavily on word of mouth (reposting in general), so it requires that we spend time promoting this idea. However, this sent a lot of mixed messages. Some people are still are not fully aware of the team behind BlackoutDay and ask us as individuals, which means more work when clearing up misconceptions & fighting rumors. Others asked people who are not part of the official Blackout team, which makes the work twice as hard to accomplish.
Informing people online is very hard and tiring work, even though we have official channels to help lead people into the right direction. The monthly promotion as well as clearing up all misconceptions had exhausted the original team and thus it leads us to this announcement. We decided that it’s time to simplify the message.
Effective immediately, May 1st will be our last official monthly Blackout and we’ll move #TheBlackout as a seasonal event on all social media platforms held on first day of the seasons of the calendar. (June 21, Sept 21 and Dec 21)
Each BlackoutDay will have a theme according to that season. Tentative themes includes:
June 21st - Summer theme (As well as Juneteenth, Black Music Month, Graduation/Promotion ceremonies)
Sept 21st - Fall Theme (Labor Day/End of Summer celebrations, preparing for Fall)
Dec 21st - Winter Theme (celebrating the Holidays and winter)
Mar 21st - Spring Theme (celebrating Black History, the coming of spring & rebirth and the original BlackoutDay)
Update June 22, 2015: For the rest of 2015, the dates will be Sept 21st and Dec 21st. We will announce new dates for 2016 and beyond later in the year. Please follow our official tumblr, twitter or subscribe to our newsletter. Details are on the bottom of this post.
Within the next few days, we will make this language part of the official website and we will post this information on the front page if that website.
Does this mean we can only use the tags on these days?
Of course not! You can use the tags ANY time you want. We just want to reserve these dates to officially “Blackout” those days.
Are you no longer observing #BlackoutDay as the first Friday of every month?
Officially, no. We will focus on promoting #TheBlackout / #BlackoutDay on the official days instead. We want to simplify the message across all platforms and therefore, making it easier to promote. We’re not in this for a profit, but we do have limited resources, thus it’s important that we simplify things.
Marissa Rei - blkoutqueen - She handles Public Relations, logistics of the events as well as other important information related to #TheBlackout.
V. Matthew King-Yarde, who’s known as nukirk.digi.tal and social commentator of whatwhiteswillneverknow (the blog that he used to promoted the first BlackoutDay). He handles marketing, graphic design of promos and promotions.
These are the three members of #TheBlackout and that helped created the first BlackoutDay.
What about the fundraiser?
Because of this change to the overall idea, we want to update the fundraiser so that it reflects this new information.
The fundraiser expires May 2nd. We will readjust our material to reflect that it’s a seasonal event and try again at a later date. Because some people have hesitations with GoFundMe, we will do another fundraiser using another platform at a later date.
Just so we’re on the same page, please view the video to get answers to general questions such as…
Why we need to brand?
Would giving us trademarks means the idea is no longer “yours”?
How do you know we’ll keep our word?
Why do we need to raise $5K instead of just the trademark and company fees?
There are people using #TheBlackout / #BlackoutDay for events/products and so on. Have you authorize this?
Other than the fundraiser, we have not authorize the use of the hashtags for events and/or products. Know that unless it comes from the official channels or from one on the members of #the Blackout team, it is not official.
Any future plans beyond a “selfie day”?
As a Pro-Black movement, we will talk about other movements and support Black ideals and a sense of community via our website and lend support when we can.
While we do have plans, we can’t act on them without first branding the names. For more information, check out the following links:
For now, we’re only announcing the official days and focus on promoting this idea going forward. We will make more announcements about future plans on later dates.
How can I help make future #BlackoutDays better?
We need your help in making sure that the work we helped with so far stays on track. We can’t afford a paid campaign, so we need you to help us. How?
Follow the official channels (mention on the bottom) or check them out every once in a while.
theblackoutofficial is the official blog of this movement/event. We are working to make this blog part of the official website flow.
Sign up for the mailing list (Check the right hand sidebar. It’s totally optional, but we will only use this list to talk about #TheBlackout organization or to promote upcoming #BlackoutDay events. Nothing else.)
Emma Swan had had this job for just about four years now,
and she was fairly sure there was nothing more it could do to surprise her. She
had stopped being gobsmacked around the time, after just having taught a roomful of household staff
that the proper way to store caviar was in a champagne glass (because clearly,
a champagne glass) one of them raised their hand and asked what brand of
glassware it should be, because if there was a wrong brand and they used it,
their employer would be Very Unhappy at this dereliction of duty. Or when she
saw sixteen-year-olds who had as many therapists as they did extracurricular
activities, pouring into the International Young Achiever program to mingle
with their serried peers, so they’d be the better prepared to go straight from
Oxbridge to the Fortune 500 board room. The thought of working a starter job at
Primark or Caffè
Nero was a fate worse than death, and one which these people never had to
consider anyway. On the unlikely chance that they couldn’t get one of their
daddy’s rich friends to take them on, daddy himself would provide a monthly
allowance equal to the deposit on most middle-class homes.
For that matter, Emma had no idea how she’d ended up here. Debrett’s
was the oldest and most prestigious etiquette school in London – or at least
that was how it had started out. It had now evolved into a full-service
boutique firm for the really, obnoxiously, you-are-the-reason-the-economy-sucks
stupid rich. From teaching the subtle nuances between white tie and black
tie dress codes, how to properly address the Queen when she invited you to the
state dinner at Buckingham Palace, to arranging your personal shopping
experience in Paris (minimum one day) or Milan (minimum two days), to weddings
(you can only imagine how those went) to the events of the Social Season and
who would be at each, to dealing with nepotism at the office (really, that
would be a problem? Who could have seen that coming?) – she, Emma Swan, had
done it all. None of her clients knew she was actually American, as
she had perfected her Received Pronunciation, and of course it would never do
to have a Yank instructing them in
these time-honored rituals of expensive snobbery. Privileged bubble did not
begin to describe it.
Thus, Emma had a certain cynical outsider’s perspective on
the whole thing. She had not been born into money – quite the opposite, in
fact. Didn’t see this job as much different from a long-term acting gig, having
gotten hired despite her disgracefully un-pedigreed background by working hard,
being willing to put up with their shit as long as it kept the paychecks
coming, having a certain Look (here meaning thin, blonde, and pretty) and
allowing the bosses to feel as if they were doing a good deed and being
demographically diverse, down-to-earth, and relatable to the plight of the
common man by employing her. Besides, she was a living success
story. If an American ex-foster kid, who had never tasted champagne in her life
until her first day on the job when she was supposed to be advising a client
which one to buy for her society wedding, could learn how to do this, anyone
This, however. This might prove to be her white whale, the
final quest to trip her up just before the finish. Sir Brennan Jones
was one of the billionaires who turned up in the news for buying a private
island or being busted for tax evasion (once more, who could have seen that
coming?) or appearing at various red-carpet events with his equally handsome
sons (they were a good-looking family, she’d give them that) or writing self-righteous newspaper editorials about how they needed to fix the country, apparently with
zero awareness that he and his dipshit oligarch buddies were a big part of the problem with it in
the first place. That Brennan Jones. He had just engaged Debrett’s to give his
two sons a crash course in being successful rich people, as that was different
from just being rich people, so they could follow him into the family business.
And Emma was the lucky, lucky woman chosen for the job.
Well, this is a weird one – but there is
something very pleasing about it, so I’ll follow my wickedness through. I hope
someone enjoys its quirkiness. This takes place in the very early part of the
XX century. It’s always so good to be back to these stories! <3
I hope this letter
finds you in exceptional good health. I read with enthusiasm the papers you’ve
sent me regarding hypnosis as a means to treat women with “man-sickness”, those
poor souls afflicted by a deep despise of the touch of a man. I have the utmost
faith that your work could cause a revolution and look forward to hearing your
preliminary results in order to apply them here in St. Lucius’ Hospital.
But the true motive
that forces me to seek your help is the utmost necessity of counsel for one of
my most challenging and, I must say, perplexing patients.
Two years ago one
young woman, née Claire Beauchamp, entered this institution brought by her
loving and distraught fiancé, Mister Frank Randall, a distinct man of London
and a University Professor himself. There are no points of contention in the
woman’s family history that I’m aware of; her being from an impeccable family,
pure in breeding with other decent and noble folks.
The patient seemed to
be fairing quite well until maybe six months afore her commitment; as a
suitable young lady she was only preoccupied with the arrangements for her
wedding to be. But according to Mister Randall’s description, Claire Beauchamp all
of the sudden started exhibiting disturbing behaviour without any further prodromal
symptoms – she slept very poorly at night and talked frequently of vivid
dreams. She became obsessed with this idea that she must leave him and search
for a man that she saw in her head. Supposedly, Miss Beauchamp was convinced
that this imaginary man was her soulmate and that she was destined to find him –
even that they had lived many lives together.
Since her institutionalization
here I’ve pursued every approach as per the state of the art – cold plunge
baths, at times with a prolonged immersion; administration of laxatives and
purgatives to rid her of any diseases of the bile or phlegm; sleep deprivation
to heighten the senses and open the mind; long sessions of talking to help her
deconstruct her ludicrous fantasy. It pains me to say none of these treatments
were successful, as the patient remains adamant and unwilling to deny this man’s
I’ve been made aware
of a new treatment in early testing stages, using electricity to induce
seizures upon which the patient comes awake more enlightened and lucid - they
call it “Electroshock Therapy”. I’m willing to try this new technique in this
case, if I have your agreement.
My best regards,
“Calman geal.” He
said, touching her cheek with his long fingers. She could feel them, hot and
real against her skin. He smiled, part tenderness and part mischief, as his
hand slid to reach her neck and then rummaged to caress her breast. He knew
her; knew the desires of her body and touched her every aching point, as if he
had been inside her all along. They shared something that needed no words to
find its meaning. He lifted her, holding her legs around his waist and laid her
down, gently. He whispered in a husky voice “Claire.””
She came abruptly awake. For a moment she was disoriented,
her mind adrift from the cell that
the nurses insisted to call “room”. This
one had no windows – her latest punishment for misbehaving during therapy with
Doctor Rawlings. If he insisted in prodding and commenting on her life and
intimate thoughts, she saw no objections to asking him if he used the
magnifying glass, which he had ornamentally displayed on his desk, to find his
Claire turned on the bed, seeking a more
comfortable position on the hard mattress. This dream was new; she knew her recurrent
dreams all too well. Sometimes she had difficulty puzzling them in the
different versions of herself she had identified by now; he always seemed the same to her – strong-hearted, warrior even in
times of peace, lover. Husband.
There were images that she thought belonged to
distant times – in those she saw them in earthy tones, faded and muted. But
some, like this one, were so present and immediate that were like images in technicolor.
More than dreams, they seemed like recent memories – an old life she wasn’t
prepared to let go.
The nurse knocked – the accurate term would be hammered – on the door, warning her
that it was time to escort her to the bathroom, where she would take a steaming
shower, too hot for her taste but apparently good for her mental health; brush
her teeth and have a chance to socialize with the other convicts – well, patients – of St. Lucius. It would be a
though choice though, choosing the company for the day with so many appealing
options – the lovely Lauren, a young woman of her own age, who strangled her
firstborn; the humorous Olivia, a paranoid schizophrenic who thought she was
trying to kill her half the time; or the lively Mrs. Duffield, a catatonic
middle-aged woman. Then she would suffer through two hours of pointless
conversations with the director and then she would finally be left alone, to
find freedom inside her own head.
When the dreams first started, she had been
scared. Her life was following the path she had determined; her marriage to
Frank, her sweetheart since her teenage years, would be the social event of the
season in London. She truly thought she was content with the life she had
envision for herself. Her first dream with him – Jamie – had been very erotic and she had woken up soaked in sweat,
a moan escaping from her lips as he thrusted inside her. She had attributed it
to a harmless fantasy of a woman about to pledge herself to a sole man for the
rest of her life.
But that first episode was like the drop that
anticipated the flood, the dam of her mind finally broken. Soon their shared
memories were the realest thing to her; the only thing. And finding Jamie had
become her quest.
Frank believed she was just anxious, that a weekend
in Cornwall would solve it. When that failed, a couple of weeks in Paris were the
thing in order. He became increasingly desperate and frustrated as she slipped
further and further away from him. Even though she deeply resented him for
placing her in the asylum, she had to concede that he had tried to mend things
to the best of his abilities. But no man accepts defeat easily, being passed
over by another; much more so when his opponent seems only to be found inside
her beloved’s heart.
Claire knew she could have spared herself from
this degrading life; but that implied that she had to renounce Jamie, to say
aloud that he wasn’t real. That she never loved him. That she wouldn’t find him. And that was
something she couldn’t begin to contemplate.
“Let’s go, Claire!” The nurse barked. “You’re
expected in the shock therapy later, so move along!”
Oh, the electroshock therapy – their hail Mary
to try and return her to the land of the sane. She had been frightened the
first time, and in spite of the drugs that they administrated her she had
suffered agonizing pain. But what they didn’t know was, that following that
session, she had had the most vivid and long dream with Jamie; a tantalizing reminiscence
of a wedding night.
She cackled, following the nurse that looked at
her with profound alarm. She was in a
mental hospital, after all – might as well have a little fun.
Claire was sitting by the big window, where she
could see the garden outside. It was her favourite place in the whole hospital;
standing there she could pretend she was in the outside world, watching the season’s
pass and life’s unending wheel. Here, she allowed herself to feel sometimes –
the loneliness in which her beliefs had placed her; the flicker of doubt; the
longing for him; the love she hadn’t experienced yet and that she already knew
“Rupert sends his love, he couldn’t come this
time.” She heard a male voice saying across the room. “But he wished me to say
he loves ye verra much and he will try to take ye home for Hogmanay, aye?”
Her heart clenched inside her chest like a
closed fist. She knew that voice better than her own - it had talked to her
throughout the veils of space, time and sanity; she had waited to hear it for
the past two years.
Afraid that she had actually lost her mind and
had started to have hallucinations, she turned.
Claire might have screamed; it was joy and pain
and relief coming together over her. She had to go to him, but arms were around
her now, trying to contain her and pull her to the hall. She resisted them,
struggling more than she ever had before, even during her first days there, before
she had realized the pointlessness of her efforts. Tears were streaming down
her face, as she saw him walking across the room to her, his brow furrowed in
“What is it, lass?” Jamie asked. “Ye called my
name, didn’t ye?”
“Yes.” She sobbed, still fighting the nurse’s
grip. “I need to talk to you. Please.”
His frown deepened, but he nodded. Jamie was
looking at her with a strange mixture of fascination and fear.
“The lass isna doing anything wrong that I can
see.” He gave the nurse at her right a hard long look. “She just wants to talk,
that’s all. Let her go.”
He was an imposing man, as she already knew he
was; and had an aura of authority and leadership around him - it took men much
more confident than those nurses to resist the urge to obey him.
“Do ye ken me, lass?” He asked softly, after they sat together near the window, finally alone. “Have we met before?”
“Yes.” Claire answered softly. “I know all
about you, Jamie.”
“Where did we meet?” He looked at her, serious,
his blue eyes boring into hers. “I would recall meeting ye, I’m sure of it.”
“You really don’t remember me, do you?” She questioned,
tears resuming their course down her cheeks. She had waited so long for him;
never once had she thought he wouldn’t share her dreams. In her mind’s eye they
always met and instantly recognized each other; their kisses were ardent; their
hands fitted together effortlessly.
“No.” He said with remorse. “No, I don’t.”
“That’s alright.” She laughed amidst tears. “I’m
just so glad to see you.”
Jamie smiled, giving her a puzzled look.
“Why are ye here?” He asked in a soft tone. “Ye
dinna seem like someone that…should be here.”
“I’m here because I dream.” Claire said,
looking at his hands. No wedding band in sight, at least. “It’s a dangerous
thing these days, or so it seems.”
“What do ye dream about?” He questioned and
seemed genuinely interested.
“A man.” She whispered, her fingers fidgeting
with a fold of her grey and unflattering uniform. “A man I loved. Still do.”
“Ah.” He nodded. “Are you…grieving then, lass?
Is he dead and ye are here because yer heart is broken?”
“No.” Claire swallowed, avoiding his gaze. Although
they were meeting at an asylum, she was adamant in wishing he didn’t think her
crazy. “It’s a little more complicated than that, I’m afraid.”
“It almost always is.” He smiled. “I’m here to
see a friend’s mother. His wife is sick and he couldna come, so he wished me to
make sure she was well taken care of.”
“That’s very kind of you.” She glanced in the
old woman’s direction. It was Mrs. MacKenzie; she was one of the quiet ones. “I’ll
try to keep an eye on her.”
“There is something familiar about ye.” Jamie
said and she turned her head to find him studying her with intensity. “I can’t
quite place it. It’s not even an image. More like…a feeling. Like…there’s
something important about ye that I should remember.”
“Will you come and visit me? And bring me some
poetry - perhaps Catullus?” Claire asked. She hoped he would remember; the seed
had already been planted. She intended to water it and make it bloom; but if
she couldn’t, then she must find a way to reconnect with him. He had loved her,
time and time again – it was only reasonable to think he would again, in due
“Aye.” Jamie said softly. His fingers brushed
her hand. “I think I’d like that, Claire.”
Claire could see the nurses approaching to tell
them their time was up. She smiled at him and got up, starting to walk away to
escape their claws.
“Funny you knew that. I didn’t even give you my
He looked intrigued at her, but there was light
in his features, like the moon half shining during an eclipse.
“And about the man in the dream?” He called.
“I’ll leave that to another time.” Claire
winked. “I have to make sure you come back, don’t I?”
Claire breathed, waiting for Professor Rawlings
to arrive at his office. She was due to another session; and for the first time
she was actually eager to talk to him.
Jamie had finally come. He would remember her;
she was already inside him, waiting for him to find her. For all the times he
had waited for her to be ready, she would wait for him this time.
And now, finally free to become a lying sane
person again, she needed to prepare for the rest of her life outside the
“How are you this afternoon, Miss Beauchamp?”
Professor Rawlings greeted her sourly, upon entering his kingdom.
“Quite well, actually.” She gave him a sweet
and innocent smile. “I’ve been thinking deeply and perhaps you were right about
While this story is based on real people and events it is a work of fiction.
Tom smoothed his shirt, gave his hair one last ruffle, and stepped out into the melee. He was by no means the biggest celebrity attending the Met Gala, not even close, but he was still greeted by hundreds of blinding flashes and the usual paparazzi fodder, calling at him to turn this way or that. He marveled that this astounding sort of event was almost old hat by now. Just another night out. He was nearing the end of the press junket for The Night Manager, and whilst it had been an enormous amount of fun he was counting the hurdles until he could return home for a while.
Tom spotted his costar, Elizabeth, a few meters away and walked over, greeting her warmly. He knew they were not seated together, apparently you weren’t allowed to actually sit with people you knew at the Met Gala, but he was glad she was here. They made their way slowly up the steps, stopping at meticulously selected interviews along the seemingly endless parade of media personnel. Tom didn’t mind the press gauntlet, it was all part of the business and most everyone was in jovial spirits this evening.
Once past the trial by fire that was mounting the steps, he noticed his friend Idris and the rest of the hosts, waiting to greet all of the illustrious attendees. He looked to the side for Elizabeth, but was informed that she had been held back, more interviews to do or something of the sort. He was on his own, then. Well, as alone as one could be at the most important social event of the New York season.
He glanced back towards the greeting line and his attention focused on an ensemble so strikingly reflective it demanded notice. His eyes raked over the graceful silhouette, noticing the light blond swoop of hair and a beautifully arched neck, but not able to see a face or other hint of whom she was. He continued his crawl towards the receiving line, sneaking glances in her direction when he could, puzzling over who she could be. As he mentally ran through the laundry list of important people he suspected were in attendance, she turned, eyes almost directly meeting his.
@lil_henstridge: #wcw is the wonderful, kind, crazy talented and MAGICAL @ann.foley ur costume designer/therapist/bestie/shopaholic on @agentsofshield 😘😘😘😘 #costumedesigner #agentsofshield #annfoley …and Ms @chloebennet ain’t bad either 😍👯 x (x)