A/N: So, first foray into the goodness of Olicity. Let me just preface this by saying that I have never fallen for a ship this hard, this fast - and I have been a fangirl for long years. That said, this is my first story with the these two, and I'm still getting a hang of the characters, so please do tell if I do something wildly OOC and nonsensical. Also, I have no beta, so all potential atrocities of the grammatical and/or spelling variety are of my own doing.
I. The Ancient Art of Herding
Felicity quite liked that one. It was very…literal. Fitting, too. Plus, there many variations she could, very privately, implement on the mantle.
Brooding Arrow. Sexy Arrow. Murderous Arrow. Extremely Sweaty Arrow. So-Technologically-Impaired-It-Hurts Arrow. Disturbingly-Blue-Eyed Arrow. Chirpy Arrow – though, when or if that happened, it would have to be an immediate red flag. Grumpy Arrow. Moody Arrow.
Or, as the case was now, Frowny-Face Arrow.
It was just the two of them left in their now upgraded to super-status lair, after Digg had left for the night, and Felicity had spent the better part of the last half-hour watching Oliver nurse a frown of varying intensity and depth, all the while alternating between twirling an arrow in his hands and glaring at it like it had Malcolm Merlyn's face plastered to it.
After some grueling internal debate, she sighed and rose to her feet. "So, I gotta ask," she began as she approached him, where he was half-propped against one of the tables, "why the sour face? I mean, we just whipped you up with an awesome super-secret codename, Team Arrow is officially back in business, and our new Code of Honor is all sorts of epic. So…what's got your leathers in a bunch?"
She didn't miss the small quirk of his lips as she planted herself in front of him, though he did wipe it away by the time his eyes rose to meet hers. "Everything's fine, Felicity," he said, in a tone used to describe situations that were decidedly not fine.
She pursed her lips. "Look, I know your manpain is something you hold very dear – "
" – but you have so much of it, it couldn't possibly hurt to take just a teeny, tiny bit off the top. I guarantee it won't even leave a dent."
He didn't seem to quite grasp the definition of 'manpain' in its entirety, if the now confused frown he sported was any indication, but he did appear to have understood what she was asking. With a deep sigh, he set the arrow aside and crossed his arms over his chest. "I went to visit Tommy's grave earlier," he told her. "Laurel was there."
Felicity cringed on his behalf. "Not the most pleasant experience, I take it."
"No, it – it was, actually." He paused there, and it was Felicity's turn to grow confused as a small – and damn near lovesick, if you asked her – smile played on his lips. A moment later, he sobered. "We…we both made mistakes, and she doesn't hold mine over my head. But, umm…" He licked his lips. "We can't be together again, ever, and she made that very clear. Not that I…don't think the same. Also, uh…"
He didn't say anything further as he rubbed the back of his neck, but he didn't really need to; Felicity had a pretty good idea of what was going through his mind. "Also, she hates the vigilante," she voiced the thought for him, and knew she'd hit the bullseye when his shoulders visibly slumped.
It wasn't a surprise; Laurel Lance had made no secret of what her main objective was since she'd begun working for the District Attorney.
"Yeah," Oliver mumbled quietly, his eyes going over Felicity's shoulder and growing unfocused.
She bit her lip; questioning Oliver on his feelings was pretty much a guaranteed way to get yourself turned into a pincushion, and Felicity was about to poke the proverbial mother of all bears with her next inquiry. Never let it be said the IT girl had no balls. "So, are you brooding because Laurel – the Laurel – hates what is arguably the greater part of what makes you, you " – she fidgeted for a moment, lowering her voice – "or because you don't really think you can't be together again?"
He stilled. Completely. From head to toe. A lesser being would have cowered, Felicity thought. Still, she held her ground, waiting for her answer.
Eventually, Oliver deflated, and sighed. "I don't know," he admitted.
A wise woman would have left it at that; Felicity decided to tempt fate just a while longer. "If I tell you what I think, do I still get to walk out of here with all my limbs intact?"
He raised an unimpressed eyebrow, which Felicity interpreted as permission to barrel on, whether he had intended it as such or not. "I think that, somewhere deep down, you still believe – or hope – you and Laurel will somehow, someway, end up behind a white picket fence and drive around in a tacky minivan." When he began to glower, she rushed to add, "Not consciously, obviously, you would never do that, because of Tommy – "
Oh God, she was just making it worse.
" – not that Tommy – you know what, let's not go there, what I mean is, you and Laurel have too much history for it all to just go away, even after…well, happenings, and it's all very complicated – honestly, I don't think complicated even begins to cover it – "
This was it. The end of the road. She was going to get impaled in the next ten seconds.
" – so I think, what you really need to do is make it less complicated – you know, figure out exactly what Laurel is to you, and go from there."
The murderous glint in his eye lingered for a moment, as she struggled to steady her breathing after her longwinded speech, but was soon replaced by plain confusion.
"What do you mean?" he asked, and she was so immensely happy that he didn't seem like he was planning her imminent demise.
She took a deep breath. "What is she to you?" she asked simply. That only seemed to confuse him further.
Sighing, she figured she'd present with options to sample from. "Okay, she's Laurel, right? Laurel, Laurel, Laurel – and wow, saying it three times fast is – "
He cleared his throat.
"Right," she veered back onto the right course. "But is she…Tommy's girl? Your ex-girlfriend? Your ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF? The one to rule them all? Your heart's one desire? Your goat herder?"
Oliver blinked. "My goa –yes, definitely my goat herder," he declared flatly.
"Okay, then you – "
"Felicity," he interrupted, a breath of laughter coating his words, "I don't know what a goat herder is – I mean, I do know, but I don't think we're going by the same definition here."
She threw her hands up. "You know, your goat herder. Your unicorn. Your coconut. Because your love is just so epic and all-encompassing that the English language can't even begin to grasp it, and the universe has to attribute you a random word since none in existence can live up to the power of your love."
He was just staring at her blankly now. Well, almost blankly; there was a shadow of something else in his eyes but he was far too difficult to read for her to recognize it. "So?" she prompted. "Is she your goat herder?"
Oliver gave her no answer.
It was some time later that Oliver was left alone, Felicity having gone home herself.
He spent quite the amount of time going over their earlier conversation. Felicity's, however silly, question had gone unanswered, as Oliver had decided it was territory he didn't want to wander in and promptly changed the subject; to her credit, Felicity only huffed under her breath.
Now alone in the relative darkness, Oliver let himself think on it. Who was Laurel to him? As Felicity had so deftly put it, she was Laurel – the Laurel. She was everything…except when she wasn't.
There were times when he was at peace without her. And then there were times when it almost physically hurt to be without her. It was – again, as Felicity had put it – complicated. Diggle had once told him that it was always going to be Laurel, and everyone else be damned; as loath as Oliver was to admit it, it was probably the truth. But then, his traitorous mind would conjure up scenarios where he would have to choose again, between Laurel and everyone else who mattered to him, and his thoughts would come to a screeching halt; he couldn't choose. Would he sacrifice Digg for Laurel? Or his family? Felicity? He got slightly sick just thinking about having to make any of those choices.
But Laurel was Laurel. She was his goat herder. She had to be. Really, if anyone herded all of his goats, it had to be Laurel.
And now he was thinking in weird Felicity metaphors.
Maybe he was losing it.
A/N 2: Okay, so I know there's a lot of goat-talk here - and please, rest assured that all and any goats are used in the most innocent of ways. Not that there will actually BE goats walking around. As to why there's so many goats...well, you try spending some quality time in a godforsaken French village and walking away mentally unscathed. I'm a city girl. Chickens and goats give me nightmares.
That nonsense aside, I hope you liked this prologue.