The Arrow of Eros
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Ollie decides to be supportive of Connor, but everything goes wrong once he sets his sights on the Bow of Eros.
The Arrow of Eros
"Y'know, he's always hanging around with Kyle."
"I know, Ollie."
A silence passed between them as Dinah tossed an olive onto the top of the bread. With a flick of her wrist, she sent a toothpick sailing through the air, spearing it to the sandwich. She spun, with a flourish. Ollie clapped, reaching out to take the plate and pull it towards himself.
"I never get tired of seeing that."
"You'd better. I'm not going to be making sandwiches for you forever, you know. We've both got things to do."
He raised the sandwich in his hands, inspecting the contents, piled high, thick, and fresh. A growl gurgled up from his stomach; he hadn't eaten all day. "Oh I know."
"Really, it's all I can do to throw together sandwiches anymore," Dinah reflected, prowling in the refrigerator and at last settling on juice. She poured up two glasses, sliding one across the counter to Ollie. "I feel like I've let my domestic skills deteriorate." Taking a thoughtful sip of her juice, she shook her head and set the glass down again. "I mean, I guess it's stupid to get myself too down about it. It's not like I don't have other things to do."
"Still!" Ollie wiped his mouth with the napkin. "Nice to keep a pretty house." Anticipating the upcoming glare, he held up his free hand. "And I'm not saying I'm not doing my part to make it a nice place to live, or that it's woman's work or anything like that, so don't start. We have...an understanding."
A playful eyeroll later, Dinah started to build her own sandwich. "Yeah, but you know, I wonder when I go over to, say, Wonder Woman's house and it's all magically neat and tidy. How does she have any time?"
"Servants?" Ollie mused.
Dinah pursed her lips, which slowly transformed into a smirk. "...I don't think so. Anyway, what are you doing tonight?"
"Oh, uh," Ollie answered, his mouth half-full. Quickly he wolfed the food, then washed it down with a generous gulp of the orange-colored juice blend. "I thought I'd...uh...take care of some personal business."
The well-built woman tapped the end of the butter knife against her fingers, tilting her head slightly back to regard him, narrowing her eyes. He was up to something. She could tell.
"You're not going to do anything creepy, are you?"
The kitchen filled with the sound of coughing as a small morsel of something caught in Ollie's throat. Dinah quickly walked over to him and patted his back, none-too-gently between the shoulders.
"I know you're trying to be Mr. Concerned Good Daddy, but it's a little too late for that. Let him live his own life, okay?"
The blond man wiped a tear from his face, though it was one that had been drawn out by the choking, rather than any profound emotion. "I just want him to be happy," he managed to reply, his voice still a bit weak. "I mean, I just think he should be honest with himself."
"Since when are you the judge of that?" She had, by that time, gone back to assembling her own sandwich. "I mean, let's be honest here." She tossed the knife in the sink, a loud clatter following as it settled into the porcelain. "If you'd been honest with yourself years ago, maybe that boy would've grown up with..." Her voice trailed off as she came to a realization. "Yeah, but anyway, give him some breathing space, Ollie. He's old enough to make his own choices. He's demonstrated that already. Maybe more responsible than either or the both of us, you've got to admit. At that age, both of us were trampling around regardless of anyone or anything else, living in the moment, heedless of what our family thought or cared or had to say about the matter..."
"...yeah." He had to admit, she was right. Not that it would stop him. "You're right. I'm gonna find something else to do tonight, okay?" Rising, he walked over and leaned up to kiss her cheek.
She turned to catch his lips, grinning smartly. "Okay."
He gave a good sigh, a contented sigh, one pleased with the mouth contact. He wished he could have prolonged it, but...he had business that he would need to attend. Turning back, he headed for the bedroom.
"Uh huh?" He turned back around, grinning at Dinah.
"Wipe the lipstick off before you go out. Don't want to give thugs the wrong impression."
The only light in the small apartment came from a drawing lamp, and at last the pen was capped and put to rest. Reaching up, Kyle switched the lamp off...and promptly found himself in total darkness.
"Aw man! It's late!"
He rose, stretching, and fumbled around until he found the switch for the overhead lights. Softer, more ambient illumination filled the room, and he scratched at his side, pulling his shirt slightly up. His eyes widened as they settled on the clock. 6:57! Connor would be arriving any minute!
Scrambling around, Kyle rapidly tugged his shirt off, undoing his pants and hopping out of them, which left him in mint green boxer shorts. He tugged open the drawers of his dresser, rifling through its contents...and then the sound of the doorbell reached his ears.
Well of course, it's Connor. Naturally he's early, because it's more polite than being late. Kyle smacked his forehead and looked around. Maybe he could pull this off...he started to pull on a new shirt and then paused. Turning his head, he leaned down and took a sniff under his arm.
Yuck! Had he forgotten deodorant? There was no way he could deal with that all night. He'd have to keep his arms down, for fear of the other man's keen senses detecting his state. Oh, if he had only not allowed time to run away from him!
The doorbell sounded again, in as delicate a way as it could. Kyle flung his potential new garment down and sprinted into the bathroom. He could throw a robe around himself and just take a quick shower. Surely Connor could amuse himself for ten minutes!
The last thing Kyle remembered before a sea of blackness was that he really ought to have bought a no-skid square for the bathmat.
I can't believe I'm doing this. What am I doing out here? This is stupid. This is stupid.
Ollie was talking to himself, as he pulled himself up onto the rooftop. He had to do this, if not for Connor's sake, then for his own. He would talk to him, be honest about what was going on, what he thought, and how he would be there.
This had not gone so well, last time. He found relating to Connor bewildering, sometimes, to say nothing of the unlikely revelation that they were actually related. I mean, how did that even work? Ollie shook his head. He would have to deal with this later. He had rehearsed what he would say in his mind at least fifty times by now.
Movement behind windows caught his attention. Who had lights on and curtains open, at this hour? He didn't mean to pry, really...
...but then, his eyes widened behind the mask as he saw a glimpse of a blond with a natural tan, well-built --
"Connor!" Ollie blurted out, before clamping a gloved hand over his open mouth.
He stared at another man with black hair, in the blond's arms. And then they were crossing to the bed...the dark-haired man was naked?! No...he had on mint green boxer shorts. Mint green, pah. Ollie crossed his arms and frowned a little bit.
"Well if you're going to be all secretive about this to me and then do this sort of thing with the drapes open...!"
At least, Ollie thought to himself, I had the chutzpah to be overall pretty frank about my dalliances.
He tried to make himself turn away. It felt wrong, somehow, spying on your own son's romantic escapades, no matter how estranged you had been. But Connor was leaning over the guy in his boxer shorts! He doesn't waste any time...he could only have just arrived.
A little proud of this, Ollie puffed his chest out and raised an eyebrow, grinning to himself. Well, he thought, I guess he does take after his old man a little bit.
But then he abruptly tore himself away from it all, turning on his heel to face in the opposite direction. Connor would be busy for a couple of hours. Ollie had to do something, and foiling muggings would only take up a small percentage of that amount of time. With Canary also doing the rounds, Star City was becoming practically a crime-free utopia.
He needed to do something...sensitive. Something considerate, something that would surely show his goodwill. But what could he do? Bringing roses wouldn't do it. Having a singing telegram would likely cause Connor to decide against maintaining ties. Chocolates? That seemed awkward.
An item from the news came to the fore of his mind. He couldn't believe he hadn't thought of this before. Forcing his legs into motion again, he sprinted to the edge of the rooftop and leapt to the next.
It was time to call in a favor.
"Are you okay?"
Kyle's head pounded. He felt his eyes open, and blurry images slowly coalesced and clarified into the face of his friend. "Whew," he breathed in relief. "I could get used to seeing you first thing waking up." Immediately he regretted saying it like that. His cheeks darkened, turning a deeper shade of red. He had meant it as a sort of joke. Who wouldn't rather see his friend's face rather than some insidious villain's?
For a moment Connor couldn't think of anything to say, so he just smiled back. It distantly occurred to him that he could press the unintended statement that could easily be taken another way. After that whole business with the intense gazing in the tub, well...he had thought about it. Something was there, but Connor had never been particularly good dealing with interpersonal relationships of any kind. It was all he could do to keep a single friendship going; it might as well have been marriage, for the effort it demanded from him.
"I'm sorry," Connor started, standing and moving away from the bed. "Were you in the middle of something?"
Kyle grimaced, fearing the worst. After what he just said, did Connor have to ask that kind of question? It made the whole thing seem all the more embarrassing. What did Connor think he was doing? Surely he had caught a whiff of his body's stale and dry scent, so he couldn't have imagined he had been bathing.
"I was just gonna catch a shower real quick," Kyle stammered. "But you were at the door, so I was going to get my robe, and uh..."
"Oh, I see. I'll go make some tea for us." Cheerfully Connor turned to leave the room, in his characteristically quiet manner.
After he was finally alone again, Kyle heaved a sigh. Awkward moment the first this evening, complete. He sat up, wincing as he felt the pain at the back of his head. Reaching up, he lightly brushed his fingers over the small knot. Ow.
The curtains! He had forgotten to close them! Like a shot he threw himself off the bed, running barefoot over to them...and then stopped, looking around himself hurriedly, in case anyone had been watching. That's how he knocked himself out and got in this whole uncomfortable mess. Meekly, he reached out and shut the drapes, then walked towards the door and paused.
Oh well, he thought. No need to shut the door. It's not like Connor's going to just walk in.
He pushed the door of the bathroom just to, carefully pushing the plastic shower curtain to the side. Leaning over, he turned on the hot water, then the cold. Kneeling down, he waited until it warmed up and then pulled the shower button up.
"Freezing," he muttered, pushing up off the porcelain of the tub that rested under it. He glanced back towards the door before pushing down his shorts and stepping in, tugging the curtain closed behind him and letting the hot water wash over his body.
His mind wandered. He started to think about other things. The sketches he had done...then it occurred to him, had he put those away? He didn't want Connor getting an eyeful of--
The dark-haired man shoved his washcloth in front of his crotch, spinning around to look out through the cartoonish fishes on his shower curtain. "Connor?!" He wasn't exactly certain what was going to happen next. After the way his thoughts had been meandering, he wasn't sure awareness would help the situation very much.
"We've got to go. There's a riot breaking out downtown...we've got to help stop it!"
Of all the times for a riot! Kyle steepled his eyebrows. "...can it wait five minutes?!"
Connor looked to his friend. For the first time, he seemed to realize that he was showering, and quite naked. "S-sorry." He turned and nearly ran into the door on the way out. "I'll get into costume."
Kyle released a heavy sigh and shook his head, kicking into high gear, washing at top speed. He silently bemoaned the fact that he would likely just need another shower when they got in from this, but at least he would be able to lift his arms for a while without passing out or causing anyone to become ill.
All Ollie knew was that he had arrived just in time to see his friend at the museum being knocked out with the butt of a gun, only to nearly become the victim of that same gun himself. He had wanted to arrange for Connor and Kyle to be given a private showing of the newest artifact on display, the "Bow of Eros", a Greek artifact reputed to be the very same item as its name claimed. If that didn't prompt Connor into an honest confession of his feelings, nothing could.
How was he to know that events would conspire to make things screw up as much as humanly possible? First the well-dressed criminals tried to shoot him, so naturally he had to draw his bow and return fire. Somewhere along the line, he shot the lights out. One of the crooks got a lucky shot in, and Ollie dropped his bow.
Some considerable cursing and scampering in its direction later, he picked up his bow -- no, that wasn't his bow. It felt so different. Older, heavier...
And now, dressed in something that the generous would call a rose-tinted toga, and that the practical would label "indecent exposure", Oliver Queen had finally come to his senses, near the park. He had no idea how he managed to change clothes in the middle of a fight, or how he managed to get from the museum office to nearly a block away. People were screaming, near riot levels, only a few feet away, and he didn't know how that happened either.
But suddenly it all started to come together when he glimpsed pink, sparkling arrows sticking out of various people involved. When he listened, all of the unrest seemed to be derived from interpersonal feuds marked by jealousy. And this was the Bow of Eros he was holding. Did that mean that his arrows would be the Arrows of Eros? The legend said that the bow could fire arrows of love...apparently it also changed clothes.
Ollie shook his head, trying to clear it. He did not look forward to explaining this to Dinah, and he hoped that Connor would somehow not hear about it. He couldn't leave, not just yet, but he did hope that he might make his way back to the museum and find his tights. It was not the kind of night to be traipsing about in diaphanous fabric that reminded him of the micro-mini.
A riot of average people wouldn't be insurmountable. The Emerald Archer -- or, more accurately at this particular moment, the pink one -- shifted his body into motion, making as close to a beeline as possible for the museum. Only he didn't get very far before realizing that the crooks who caused this whole mess were still inside, and they still had a bead on him. Drawing his bow instinctively, he let loose a hail of arrows...then blanched as he recalled that he was sending off missiles of love.
Fortunately his adversaries took cover behind the doors and pillars of the building. But he couldn't keep this up. He would have to take them out somehow, or the innocent people around him might be shot. He had just been lucky up to now that they weren't.
Diving behind a parked car, Ollie's keen eyes took in his surroundings. If only he could be sure this bow wouldn't somehow transform his arrows into simple lovestruck ones, he could pull off the trick shots he needed.
He turned, catching a glimpse of Connor, Kyle floating beside him. The Green Lantern raised a shield as the gunmen began firing on them, deflecting the bullets safely down the street.
Then Oliver went black again.
Kyle's night, he thought, could not really get worse. At least his hair would dry relatively quickly, but it was still wet, which bothered him in such chilly weather. He hoped it didn't mean he would be struggling with a cold the next day. Suddenly, however, such considerations faded from his mind. There before him stood Green Arrow -- the elder, Oliver Queen -- dressed in a pink toga and sandals, expression beaming, eyes far more radiant than he had recalled, even behind the masquerade mask over his eyes, much more grandiose than he normally wore.
His artist's eyes were to blame when, looking the full ensemble over, he noticed that Ollie wasn't wearing underwear, or indeed anything on his body but the somewhat transparent material arranged into the toga. His cheeks returned to their earlier red state. It normally wouldn't have affected him quite so much. It wasn't like it was anything new to him, being an artist. But it made the whole affair seem all the more humiliating standing beside a close friend and seeing his father cheerfully parading about in the near-nude, a breeze the only thing protecting his modesty, and incidentally doing a terrible job of it.
Connor somehow kept his cool. "I'm assuming you have something to do with this riot."
"Love is everywhere!" Proclaimed Ollie, drawing his bow and nocking an arrow...pointed directly at Connor. "Experience love!"
As it left the weapon, Connor hurled himself out of the way. He looked back and, as if in slow-motion, he could see it all happening, in sickening clarity: Kyle hovered there, descending from above the car to a place nearer to Connor. His eyes were somewhere other than Oliver's face, and he hadn't been paying attention. The sparkling pink arrow, which had once been a regular arrow before nocking, sailed directly towards him.
And then it sunk into his chest.
Kyle was appalled. Once he realized what had happened, he thought it must be the worst night ever. Inwardly he whined; he didn't want to go out like this. Not like this, for pity's sake! His epitaph would be "if only he had kept his eyes on his opponent's face", and Kyle reflected, how true that was as a metaphor for his life.
He sighed. There was no way he was going to survive this. He started to allow himself to fall...and then he realized it didn't even hurt. In fact, it felt really good. And suddenly his heart pounded in his chest. His mouth went dry. In his eyes was Oliver Queen...and it soon became evident that he had crept into Kyle's heart and loins, as well.
It was so confusing, for some reason. Distantly, at the very back of his mind, he faintly recalled someone similar. A blond archer? Maybe he was misremembering Ollie. Yes, Ollie...Ollie, where the world began and ended. Ollie, in the pink toga. Ollie, laughing like the leather mugmaker at the renaissance festival.
Connor, meanwhile, had no idea what had come over Kyle. He had just been hit by an arrow! And in Connor's book, arrow wounds didn't tend to elicit that sort of reaction. Perhaps it was some way that the ring was protecting him? He couldn't tell. As he surveyed the immediate area, he noticed many more with that same condition: the arrow sticking out of chest, shoulder, one even from the buttocks! But they were all much more frantic than Kyle...
Check that, Connor reflected, as Kyle zipped over to Ollie, draping his arms around the man. There was something...not right at all about that.
And something burned, at the back of Connor's mind. He frowned, shoving it out of his conscious focus, and then turned to look to the museum. Ah, gunfire; since Kyle was distracted, the shield had begun to fade. Connor dove for cover near the other two, bullets pinging off the tops of cars.
If they hit a gas tank, there may be trouble, he thought, drawing an arrow out and pulling back the bowstring. He looked over to Ollie and Kyle. No, he concluded. They won't be much help at all.
Moving quickly, he rushed to the nearest piece of cover, releasing the arrow on its path. Above the door it released a cloud of smoke, which he had planned would be his moment of action. Leaping out from behind the postbox, he made his way across the street, shoving past anyone unfortunate enough to attempt to intercept him. Upon reaching the steps he took them in twos, taking the first gunner with a kick and tossing his gun away. The second went down with a left hook, the third with a chop and a throw.
He knew there had been five. Where had the fourth gone? He would have to search the inside of the museum.
But Kyle didn't care that Connor had gone. He hadn't even noticed the cloud or the scuffle. It was all the more unfortunate, as the click of a handgun came from nearby.
"Gimme the bow, now!!" The haggard man barked, hands shaking as he trained the barrel of the gun on the two heroes. "It wasn't supposed to be this difficult!!"
"Why don't you just love someone?" Ollie proposed, his voice not entirely his usual in terms of tone and cadence. "It's so much nicer to do that."
Struck wordless by the bizarre retort, the man with the gun stood silent for a moment...and then he squeezed the trigger. It was fortunate that Kyle's ring acted with the speed of thought, and the resultant shield deflected this bullet too. Fiercely Kyle drew back the beam of green light and transformed it into a brass-knuckled construct, bowling the man off his feet with a savage blow.
There was fire in his eyes as he drew closer. "How dare you strike my lover?! I'll kill you!!"
By this point, Connor had emerged with the ringleader, tied with cord from a new, experimental restraint arrow. Kyle's words rang in his ears. Since when was Oliver involved in a relationship with Kyle?! This night was turning out to be much more traumatic than he had ever anticipated.
First he finds Kyle unconscious in his bathroom. Then he walks in on him naked. Then a riot downtown interrupts their calm night of television. Then Kyle proclaims himself Ollie's lover. This kind of thing really didn't sit well with him. He hoped that it wouldn't get worse.
"Kyle, stop! You're going to kill him!" Connor called out. And he knew his friend could, so easily, kill the man. The power ring would make his thoughts reality...and even if it were restricted against directly taking life, there was always indirect effect.
It didn't appear to have much impact on Kyle. Connor knew he had to act, and fast. The arrows were causing this...the arrows...and Ollie was holding the bow that created the arrows from regular ones. He hoped he had not doomed everyone hit to a painful death, leaping over the car and striking the other archer's hand.
The bow sailed out of his grasp and clattered onto the pavement, and then suddenly, abruptly, the whole scene changed: the arrows vanished into thin air, leaving no wounds; Connor was glad for this. Ollie's eyes and expression shifted back to normal. And Kyle, as the others, ceased his furious assault, the motivation having left him, or at least faded to manageable proportions.
"What...the..." Kyle looked around himself, wide-eyed.
Well, one thing was for sure, he hadn't dreamt that Ollie was parading around in a pink toga. As creative as he prided himself in being, he doubted that even he could come up with something that outlandish. No, that had to be real.
"It took me a moment to realize it," explained Connor. "The Bow of Eros was compelling him to spread its arrows, which were what struck you and all these people. It needed someone to wield it, and that's probably when all the trouble began. Could you return it to the museum?"
"Sure." Kyle's voice was soft. He reached out with green pincers from his ring and picked up the bow carefully, depositing it just inside the door, across the street.
Connor, meanwhile, turned to his father. "I'm going to be very brief," he started, his voice lowered so that the others and hopefully Kyle wouldn't be able to overhear. "I'm sure this is one of your harebrained schemes to try and make me into mini-Oliver, and I just want to say--"
"No!" Ollie held up his hands. "No, seriously, it wasn't that! I promise, it..." In his mind, he frantically searched for the words that he had gone over hundreds of times. "Look, I just want you to be happy. And whoever it's with, I just wanted you to see that bow because...well, because bows are important to both of us, but seeing something like that can really make you realize." He looked down at the pavement, remembering about his attire or lack thereof, returning his eyes like a snap to Connor's face. "I want you to be able to say you love someone while you still can. Don't do what I did. Don't love them and leave them and not be sure later if you ever really did love them, or if they loved you...tell them. Be with them. Before it gets too late to do that."
The words rang true. They were nothing like he had rehearsed. But Connor could see that they were heartfelt. Oliver had not been in control while he held the bow, not entirely anyway. A smile gently crossed Connor's features, as he looked into his father's eyes.
"I'm sorry I ruined your big night," Ollie continued. "I was going to give you a couple hours."
Now the smile faded. Connor's brow flattened. "...what are you talking about...?"
"Well, you know." Ollie reached out and squeezed Connor's shoulder, then stopped himself when he noticed the sharp wince. "Oh sorry. Forgot. Bullet wound."
"It's...okay." Thankfully it had been several weeks since he received it, and even though it was still painful, it was nowhere near the agony that he had endured in the days following its treatment. He felt lucky that Kyle had been so attentive, and-- "Kyle!"
Connor turned to see him hovering there wordlessly, looking for all the world like a fifth wheel. At the call of his name, the Green Lantern looked up, slowly enough, hesitant.
"Oh, uh, the cops are here. I'll go talk to them."
Before Connor could speak, Kyle flew off in the direction of the approaching officers. Connor turned back to his father, tilting his head to the side.
"What I want to know is how you're going to explain this to Dinah."
"Huh?" Ollie raised an eyebrow. "Ideally she's not going to know about this. Or at least not that it was me."
When Connor raised his hand in a simple wave, however, Ollie's heart sunk. He slowly turned around to face Black Canary, standing there with her hands on her hips and a grin on her face.
"Well...you got the lipstick off, but I'm not convinced you're not still giving them the wrong idea."
Back at Kyle's apartment, the night wore on. It was nearly midnight by the time they got back, the two of them. Connor had insisted that Ollie go back with Dinah and get proper clothing before he compromised his health, and she seemed to agree readily and heartily enough. But Kyle was silent throughout the whole thing.
Connor assumed it was because of falling in love with Oliver. Bitterly he added, to himself, that it would be enough to strike a considerable blow to the psyche of many. He dropped onto the sofa, careful not to lie on the side of his injury.
"I'm...sorry about tonight," Kyle squeaked, his tone penitent and meek.
"It's not your fault." Connor pushed himself to sit upright, looking over at the dark-haired man. "You didn't cause all of that to happen. Anyway, no one was seriously injured, nobody died, and we can at least enjoy the rest of the night that we have left."
In Kyle's mind, words and concepts tumbled around. Momentarily he frowned, then his expression became milder as he sank into his easy chair. "I mean I'm sorry...I mean...I've just been a big burden today."
"People may have died without your ring."
"They may have died because of it!"
"Kyle..." Connor rose and walked over. He paused only a moment, before the chair, and knelt down, leaning in to press his lips lightly to the other man's forehead.
Kyle looked up, eyes gleaming; he had been upset. Now he didn't know how he felt. He looked so childlike there, so young and so bewildered, like a lost little one, trying desperately to find his way. He had felt that everything before that he had done, everything the whole night, had just been one long blunder. Plus he had even temporarily fallen seriously in love with Connor's father, though admittedly it was under the influence of some kind of powerful magic. Even if they were separated by years of ignorance about the situation and considerable difference in viewpoint, lusting after your closest friend's dad spelled one thing: awkward.
And yet, he had just received one of the gentlest and most heartfelt expressions of affection that he had ever been privileged enough to be given. He constantly failed to find the words. His mind stopped working properly, hours before.
"What was that...?" Kyle finally managed to utter a coherent sentence, lips trembling.
"It was me," Connor whispered back to him, reaching out to run his hand through silky black locks of hair. "Doing something before it's too late."
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