A/N: Do not ask. I only go where the prompts take me. And this is the result. I could have forced myself to come up with something else, but that wouldn't have been in the spirit of flash fic. So, yeah, it's a little out there. I hope you have fun with it anyway. Thanks and enjoy! ~Charlynn~
An Olicity Flash Fic One Shot
Flash Fic Prompt #24: "So... he's not the pizza guy?"
"Okay, who are you, and what have you done with my best friend?"
It wasn't as though the person's sudden appearance startled Oliver. He found that, in his own self-awareness these days, he was also more aware of his surroundings as well. It was just the identity of the person intruding upon his workout that caught him by surprise. His mother, Thea, Raisa, even his mother's new boyfriend... as odd and as disturbing as that idea was to comprehend? Oliver was used to their unannounced arrivals and departures in what had recently become his own personal oasis: the family's home gym located in the basement of their private estate, but Oliver hadn't seen Tommy since the day of his father's funeral. That was more than eighteen months ago.
Letting go of the bar he had been holding onto in order to propel himself up the salmon ladder, Oliver landed on the concrete floor in a crouch, his body adjusting easily to the shifts and movements. Seemingly rising up and taking his first step towards his childhood best friend all in one fluid motion, Oliver held out a hand towards Tommy... a hand which was dutifully ignored in favor of a rough, back-slapping hug instead. Knowing he'd be expected to say something, to respond to Tommy's teasing greeting, Oliver relied upon his years of living in high society and in the limelight as he scrambled to appear the man he had once been. Finally, he settled for, "it's been a long time."
But Tommy wasn't – never had been, never would be, apparently – satisfied with cordial pleasantries from Oliver. He wanted more – more fire, more spark, more enthusiasm, more spirit, more of the first twenty-two years of Oliver's life that he had spent pretending to be what everyone believed him to be: that larger than life playboy that burned just a little too brightly, singeing no one more than himself.
"No, but seriously, man. This... you," and Tommy waved a careless hand in the direction of Oliver's bare, sweaty chest. "This is ridiculous. You're like... too perfect. Frankly, it's disgusting."
Other than offering his childhood best friend a fleeting, empty smile, Oliver said nothing, moving around Tommy to grab the shirt he had stripped off and deposited nearly an hour before when he had first started his workout. "What brings you to town, Tommy?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Tommy physically had to shake himself in order to gather his wits about him. "I... it's the holidays. My dad's out of town, so I thought it was the perfect time to visit. You know this place doesn't feel like home unless Malcolm Merlyn is away on business." The words were said with a flippant grin, but there was an element of truth to them as well. Tommy could do nothing to disguise the bitterness lacing his explanation. "What about you," Tommy asked. "Word is that you never leave Starling anymore?"
"Why leave when everything that I need is right here."
Oliver finally turned to fully face his friend, and he found Tommy wincing pitifully – like he had said the very worst thing and now felt bad about it. "Is this... about your dad, because, Oliver, that was a freak accident. You can't stop living your..."
Interrupting the same speech that he had heard from too many people who didn't know him and who didn't have a right to offer him advice, Oliver quickly dismissed, "do I look like I've stopped living my life, Tommy? I just... I have responsibilities here. My family's here. Not all of us have the luxury of running away whenever things get a little messy." That was a cheap shot, and Oliver knew it, but he didn't regret it either.
Tommy stepped back as if physically struck. The pain that flashed across his dark eyes was quickly banished, however, in favor of his favorite, safe, fallback emotion: humor. "No, what you look like is one of those exotic dancers." Tommy snapped his fingers and then pointed towards Oliver in jovial accusation and recognition. "Like one of those Chippendale dancers!"
Oliver just shook his head in feigned annoyance, turning his back on his friend to leave the gym. The movement hid his fledgling smile and also encouraged Tommy to follow him out into the hallway and towards the stairs which would take them back to the first floor. While Oliver had changed during the last eighteen months that Tommy had been away, Tommy Merlyn was still the same guy Oliver remembered: purposefully and carefully carefree, a studied and practiced man of little to no substance, nonchalant in his obscene wealth and easy humor.
While Oliver had once been just like him – perhaps a little angrier, perhaps a little messier and more disappointing for his parents, his father's death had cured him of his need to lose himself in the freedom that came with living down to everyone's worst expectations of him... if not his rudderless lack of direction. At the time of Robert Queen's death, Oliver had just flunked out of his fourth Ivy League school; was on the verge of cheating on his long-term girlfriend – again – but, that time, with her own sister; and living a life which saw more arrests being added to his resume than actual accomplishments. Tommy had been his wingman, his pusher, for all of that, skating by on Oliver's reputation for being a badboy playboy and reaping the rewards that came with such a position but never quite crossing those same lines that Oliver seemed to seek out and obliterate on purpose.
The only thing that prevented Oliver from ending up with the same fate as his father – drowned at sea – was his then girlfriend at the time, Laurel Lance, finding out about his plans to take her baby sister with him for a two week cruise of hedonism aboard his family's yacht. She had crashed their plans, scared off her sister, and started a scene so ugly on the pier where the Queen's Gambit was docked that his father took back his ultimatum and washed his hands of Oliver, promising swift and severe consequences when he returned from his business trip to China. Those consequences proved to be leaving Oliver as the heir to a multibillion dollar company and one of the country's most storied legacies at the tender age of twenty-two.
Now, a year and a half later, he was just as clueless, just as hopeless, but not nearly as self-destructive. It helped that, after his father's death, Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy's father – perhaps predicting a downward spiral for Oliver and not wanting his son to be pulled under with him, had practically banished Tommy from Starling City, threatening disinheritance if the sole Merlyn heir didn't get his life together, finish school, and at least curb his more outrageous ways. The threat worked. Tommy had no dreams, no ambitions, no real skills in order to support himself. He would readily admit that he was nothing without his trust fund, so he packed his bags and lit out of town just like Malcolm demanded. Losing Tommy right on top of losing his father was probably what prevented Oliver from, for the first time in his life, not living down to someone's worst expectations of him.
Unlike what Malcolm had predicted, Oliver didn't spiral out of control. While he certainly didn't do anything to find his way in life either – he didn't go back to school, he didn't go to work at Queen Consolidated, and he did very little to comfort his grieving mother and sister, he stopped closing down clubs and bars, stopped partying, stopped sleeping with every attractive woman who showed even an ounce of interest. Oh, he still had his demons. He drank – more and harder than ever but in the privacy of his own home rather than out in the public eye; he had yet to have a substantial, healthy, adult relationship with a woman; and he still had no idea what he wanted from life, but he did know that he didn't want to be the Oliver everyone knew from before and still expected him to be. There were days when Oliver thought the life he now led, while simple and empty, was at least better than what it had once been; there were days when Oliver still had no idea who he was and, consequently, simply pretended to be who everyone wanted him to be.
"So, what are we doing tonight," he asked Tommy, bypassing the family's main living quarters on the ground floor in favor of heading towards his own suite of rooms. Tommy followed obediently behind him... like a trained dog. "You certainly know how to return to town in style. With the holidays near, there will be even more high profile parties for us to crash, clubs for us to shut down."
They entered his room – Oliver heading directly towards his ensuite bathroom, while Tommy flopped onto a chaise lounge, the perfect picture of the idle rich. Oliver shut the door behind him, leaving it cracked open – just enough so that he and Tommy could continue their conversation while still granting Oliver the privacy he needed. "Actually, I think I have something else in mind. Something better."
"Care to share with the rest of the class," Oliver called out as he started to strip in preparation of the shower he was about to take.
After turning on the water in his luxury shower, he heard Tommy yell, "it's been eighteen months since I've been home. While you know that I missed you, Ollie, you're not the only person in Starling City that I'd like to... reconnect with. And, besides, I think that we definitely need to put your new... hobby to good use." Before Oliver could respond, Tommy nonchalantly asked, "so... what's Laurel Lance up to these days?"
As eighteen months of doing his best to avoid any and everyone who had expectations – good and bad – for who Oliver Queen was and planning on having an affair with a woman's younger sister would have it, Oliver hadn't seen nor heard from Laurel since his father's funeral. While she had claimed that she was too good of a person not to mourn Robert Queen and pay her respects to his father, there was something about Laurel which always made her go back to Oliver no matter what horrible thing he did to her. Granted, planning on cheating with Sara was at the top of his shitty ways to treat a girlfriend list, but, if Oliver hadn't forced the breakup and shut down any and all ideas Laurel had about being there to support him in his time of grief, she would have eventually given in and wormed her way back into his life and bed again.
At the time of his dad's death, Oliver hadn't understood why someone so smart and so capable would ever stoop so low as to come crawling back to him, but, after many nights of drunken introspection, he realized that Laurel was just like everyone else. She saw him for the man she wanted him to be and them as a couple for what being married to a Queen someday could help her achieve professionally and personally. Her wanting to be with him had nothing to do with Oliver and everything to do with Ollie: the mask he wore for Laurel and everyone else, the mask she wanted to see when she looked at him.
Oliver tried to tell Tommy this... in a roundabout, wouldn't it be more fun to pick up some random, nameless chicks in a bar way, but Tommy would hear none of it. And that's when Oliver realized that Tommy was just like Laurel. He was incapable of seeing that Oliver had changed... despite noticing his altered physique. In his mind, Oliver was Ollie – Ollie and Laurel, and he always would be. While Oliver knew that he wasn't that man anymore, he didn't know who the man was that he was trying to become either, and it was just easier to go along with Tommy, to pretend. After all, as soon as the holidays were over and Malcolm Merlyn returned to town, Tommy would be gone once more. For those fond memories that Oliver had of his childhood friend, he could be at least a facsimile of the Ollie Tommy had come home to see, that Tommy needed.
So, it was several hours and many drinks later that Oliver found himself knocking on an unfamiliar apartment's door. It had taken them a little while to track Laurel down, but, through mutual friends, they had gotten an address to where his former girlfriend now lived. Apparently, she was home from college and attending law school in Starling City, sharing a flat with one of her new, law school buddies. When no one answered, he knocked again, Tommy, who couldn't handle his liquor nearly as well as Oliver could, drunkenly egging him on from behind with ribald comments and annoying pokes to the ribs. Oliver knew Laurel... or, at least, her roommate was home, however, despite the fact that their knocking was going ignored, because there were obvious sounds coming from the other side of the door: female voices, music, and laughter. It finally took Tommy pounding on the wood with both fists and calling Laurel's name for the previously locked door to swing open. Laurel Lance wasn't on the other side of the apartment's entrance, but Oliver, with a stumbling Tommy behind him, pushed his way in nonetheless.
He was dressed like a pizza guy – Tommy insisting upon props and a costume to fulfill this harebrained prank. In order to find the right clothes, though, they'd had to bribe a seasonal costume shop into opening their doors earlier that night. Meanwhile, the pizza box was empty; they'd pulled it from a dumpster right before entering Laurel's building.
With music already playing, Oliver started dancing. He no longer spent time in clubs, but, even when he had, Oliver had never been the most skilled on the dance floor. He usually spent just long enough under the lights and in between the gyrating, sweaty bodies to pick up a girl to go home with for the night – his looks and wealth making up for where his dance moves lacked. Tommy had recalled this fact about him, because, on their way over to Laurel's apartment, he had offered Oliver advice. Apparently, while Oliver had spent the last eighteen months working out to drive away the noise, Tommy had developed an extensive knowledge of soft-core porn tropes. Oliver wasn't drunk enough to take Tommy up on any of his suggestions, but he was drunk enough to not care what he looked like. Maybe he had no interest in rekindling anything with Laurel, but he had no problem having sex with one of the women sitting around his former girlfriend's apartment that evening.
By the time he was down to nothing but his underwear – and, no matter what Tommy said, Oliver had refused to wear anything but his normal, everyday boxer-briefs, Oliver had finally realized their mistake. While the small apartment obviously belonged to a young, successful woman, Laurel did not live there. Maybe they had the wrong door, maybe it was the wrong apartment building altogether, but that still didn't change his mind about having sex with a nameless one night stand that evening. He needed to get something in return for humoring Tommy's whims. And Oliver had no doubt that several of the women... if he were so inclined... would take him up on that offer, because their squeals and comments, their exclamations and remarks as he took off his clothes told him that they knew exactly who had barged into their holiday party that evening. In fact, some of them were already returning the favor – standing up and dancing with both him and an oblivious, wasted Tommy... or, at least, they were until the music was abruptly cut off.
Coming to an immediate stop, Oliver looked up to find a less than pleased, petite blonde scowling at him. She was cradling a full glass of wine in one hand while twirling the remote to what he guessed was her iPod dock in the other. Head tilted to the side and right brow raised above her conservative, square framed glasses, she demanded to know, "who the hell are you; where are your clothes; why are you in my apartment; and I swear, if anybody stains my carpet and I can't get my security deposit back...?"
A few of the other women giggled, one going so far as to cut off her friend with a playful chastisement. "Oh, come on, Lis!"
"It's Felicity. No nicknames accepted or appreciated, thank you very much."
" … Relax for once and just enjoy the fact that you have a nearly naked Oliver..."
Returning the favor, the perturbed woman interrupted with, "if this is your idea of an appropriate Hanukkah gift, there better at least be real pizza in that box." For the first time that night – for the first time in what felt like years, Oliver smirked, one corner of his mouth lifting in genuine amusement. In response, the woman frowned. "There's no pizza, is there?"
Gently disentangling himself from the women hanging half on top of him, Oliver quickly gathered his things – including the empty pizza box, redressing while, at the same time, fairly shoving Tommy out of the stranger's – out of Felicity's – apartment. "I'm sorry," he sincerely apologized. "This was... a mistake." Addressing his drunken, childhood friend, he said, "come on, let's get you a cab, Tommy." Without waiting for a response, Oliver shut the door to the flat behind him and left.
For reasons he didn't entirely understand... or maybe he wasn't ready to contemplate them, Oliver found himself outside of the very same apartment the next evening. This time, however, he was dressed normally, Tommy wasn't with him, and he was completely sober. He knocked softly, finding it both exhilarating and as intimidating as hell that he was actually nervous for the exchange to come. Despite how colossal of a mistake the previous night was... or perhaps because it was such a mistake, Oliver had not been able to stop thinking about the woman who lived in the apartment he had believed to be his ex-girlfriend's. By the time he got Tommy bundled into a cab and well on his way home, Oliver had realized that he was completely sober, the events that had occurred sufficient to dry up the alcohol previously flowing through his veins. Instead of going home himself that night to temporarily forget everything with meaningless sex, he returned to his family's estate and spent the night trying to track down the first person to surprise him in years.
Felicity wasn't hard to find.
She was younger than he was – barely 21, but she had already graduated from MIT with a Master's degree in Cyber Security and Computer Science and, now, as fate would have it, worked for his family's company – his company – in the IT department. That was pretty much all he could find on the unconventional but no less beautiful woman. Unlike his own cyber footprint, Felicity was seemingly very careful about what kind of information she presented and made available to the public online. It was enough, however – enough to intrigue Oliver even further, enough to make him risk her wrath once more to track her down.
After a soft knock and waiting just a few seconds, the door before him opened. Smiling, he greeted the curious and yet cautious woman before him. "Felicity Smoak? Hi, I'm Oliver Queen."
Her mouth dropped open in surprise, and her eyes – still behind those tortoiseshell glasses – widened in realization. If Oliver had doubted her sincerity in not knowing who he was the night before, his announcement of his name confirmed that Felicity had been honest in her complete obliviousness to his identity. But that made two of them, really, because he still wasn't sure who the hell he was, but, for some reason, he just had a feeling that this tiny, firecracker of a woman before him was going to help him figure it out.
He could see the wheels spinning in her mind, but Oliver didn't give Felicity a chance to say anything before he continued. "Again, I'm really sorry about last night, but, if you'd let me, I'd like to explain and..." And how did he say that he just wanted to get to know her without making her uncomfortable? So, instead, Oliver revealed what he was holding in his arms: a pizza box and a bottle of wine. "I really brought pizza this time."
Felicity narrowed her gaze, observing him closely. And then she caught Oliver off guard – pleasantly so – when she asked him, "what kind of wine did you bring," as though his answer had the potential to be the password he needed for admittance or the final sign she needed to slam the door in his face.
Grinning, he answered, "a 1982 Lafite Rothschild."
Felicity's surprise morphed into shock. Despite that, however, her wit still managed to make Oliver laugh. As she ushered him inside, she observed, "you're so not the pizza guy."
But, for Felicity, Oliver was quickly realizing that he'd be willing to be just about anything or anyone she wanted him to be... including himself.