serafina19: (Default)
[personal profile] serafina19
Author: [personal profile] serafina19
Title: Best Laid Plans
Summary: While both Chloe and Oliver had an idea of how the next morning was going to go, it doesn’t end up going the way either of them planned. Final part of the “One Night” series.
Rating: PG-13

One Night
Giving In
Too Late



Best Laid Plans

Chloe pursed her lips as her eyes opened, surprised that she was able to fall back asleep. This time, she was alone on the couch, blanket draped over her, with the sound of keyboard strokes coming across the room. It had to be Oliver, which meant their conversation would happen sooner than she had expected. The sun wasn’t fully up, but Chloe knew she had passed her quota for sleep and could only delay the inevitable for so long.

So she stood up, bringing the blanket up with her. Apparently, she had made enough noise, as she heard him say, “Morning.”

Chloe turned her head, intent on returning the word, but nothing came. Not that it mattered to Oliver, as he wasn't giving her any pressure.

In fact, he hadn’t moved. “It’s probably cold now, but I did a coffee run.” Without taking his eyes off the screen in front of him, he pointed to the table next to the couch, where sure enough, there was a coffee cup from her favourite cart.

She wanted to thank him, but her words still hadn’t come. This time, Oliver turned his head, but he simply grinned at her before looking back to the screen. It felt almost normal, besides the fact that the only thing stopping him from seeing her naked body right now was the blanket that he had found. Not that he hadn’t already seen it, but her apprehension about her body wasn’t about to go away because of what happened. As good as it made her feel, as much as this felt like what she wanted, there was still a nagging part of her that knew something was up.

However, she knew better than to push her luck, so she sat down again, glad that her underwear was within reach. There wasn’t much chance of a teammate coming by today, but she couldn’t afford to take that chance. As she slid her underwear up her legs, Chloe momentarily wondered when she last felt like this. However, even that felt like dangerous territory, not just for her certain circumstances. More importantly, there was too much pain to rewind past to get there.

Yet, as hard as she tried to bury those feelings, everything felt so strange that she couldn’t completely move on. She had foreseen at least some awkwardness this morning, but Oliver was acting like everything was fine. Then again, she thought, why would he act different? This wasn’t new for him.

But for Chloe? She chuckled to herself, wondering how she let herself get into a new mess. After what happened with Jimmy, Davis, the last thing she needed was to make another mess in her romantic life. She was done with this, she told herself as much when everyone left her behind. And the last thing she needed was to ruin the last decent male friendship she had left.

So she turned her head over her shoulder. “Oliver –”

“One time thing, right? I won’t say anything,” he interjected, glancing at her again to show her that he knew where she was coming from. Although the way she looked at him was hard to soak in, Oliver grinned before he brought his attention to the work in front of him. The last thing he wanted was to dwell on this. “That was what you were worried about, right?”

He waited for her to say something, but silence took over again, and he was left to his work. That was probably for the best, as his face probably sold more confidence than he felt inside. After all, he didn’t want to be the first one to wake up, but he was, and he had to make the right decision. The one where it felt like he was damned no matter what he did.

The only thing he knew for sure was that he couldn’t leave. He couldn’t have her wake up alone. Even if he wanted nothing to change between them, leaving before she woke up sent a message he couldn’t live with. So he found a compromise by getting her coffee, as the five minute walk helped to clear his head, especially since he could keep an eye on the building the whole time.

It had been weirdly comforting to see her still asleep when he came back, wrapped in the blanket they had shoved from the couch the night before. Not that she needed to cover up, as most of the team was out of town and they both knew that Clark wouldn’t be stopping by any time soon. That didn’t stop Oliver from ensuring her comfort, as he almost wanted to wake her to give her the free coffee. Then again, he figured the smell would be enough to wake her up, but he was glad that wasn’t the case. She clearly needed the sleep.

That led him to the same dilemma, wondering what to do next, when he had looked across the room and found his answer. He had no idea how long he had been working at the console, waiting for her to wake up, but the refresher course of the database was needed. After all, his words weren’t going to be enough to convince the team that he was officially back. Oliver had to have a better idea of what was going on, and Watchtower was the perfect place to start. It also gave him the perfect distraction to keep himself from watching her get her clothes on. He didn’t even hear her approach him until she came into his peripheral vision.

“What are you working on?” she said, smoothing her shirt against her body. Chloe narrowed her eyes as she examined the screens, as it appeared that Oliver had at least ten windows open.

“Getting caught up,” he said, keeping his focus ahead of him. He closed one window and moved another one front and centre. “Between my unfortunate downward spiral and putting the pieces back together at Queen Industries, I haven’t been able to spend as much time here as I would like.”

“I haven’t noticed,” she said with a shrug. Because the fact of the matter was that he was here at all. In fact, he was typically at Watchtower a few times a week and that didn’t include the nightly patrolling that he had committed to again. That was enough for Chloe, as were any other signs of forward progress.

That wasn’t the case for Oliver though, and he intended to tell her that, but by the time he turned his head, Chloe had walked over to the other keyboard and started to work. Back to business, normal routines. It should be what he wanted, because at least she didn’t completely regret what they had done, but that didn’t change the fact there was one thing that he couldn’t let stand anymore.

“That’s because you don’t leave here,” he said, almost expecting the scoff that she gave him. But he shook his head nonetheless. “I’m allowed to be worried about that.”

Sure, she thought, maybe he is. The fact that he cared about something was aan improvement. “Except there’s nothing to be worried about. I’m fine.”

Because she was. She had her breakdown, she had grieved, but she moved on, pushing herself to do something good, to matter in this world again. This time, her work didn’t go to waste, she had helped bring the team together and they were fighting against the latest world threat. Like old times.

Honestly, it felt great. But based on the way she felt as she could feel Oliver’s stare from behind her, he didn’t agree.

“You really believe that,” he said, and she thought it was supposed to sound like a question, but his tone implied otherwise. “And that’s what scares me.”

That threw Chloe, because he seemed to mean it, but that sentiment wasn’t as comforting as it could be. When the words wouldn’t stop repeating in her head, she stopped working. “Where is this coming from?”

The first sound was his foot lightly hitting the floor, but it was hard to gauge what it meant. “When we left you, you worked so hard to pull the pieces back together,” he said. “You succeeded, but that drive, it hasn’t stopped. I’m worried if you don’t slow down soon, you’re going to break down.”

She refused to face him, as she wasn’t ignorant of the fact that even if they didn’t talk about it, things had still changed between them. Even with her back turned to him, Chloe felt transparent to him, but she wasn’t about to let him know it that easily.

After letting out a long breath, she said, “I’m not made of glass Oliver.”

“I know,” he said, his voice sounding closer than before. “But you’re not invincible either and I can’t remember the last time you took a night off and had fun.”

Chloe bit the inside of her lip, knowing that he had a point. But what good was having fun while the world she knew was falling apart? “Someone had to keep the team going.”

He took a step towards her, tempted to reach forward and touch her shoulder, but he reconsidered. “Yes, and we’re grateful that you did everything you did… but we’re back now and we’re worried about you.”

“We?”

“Okay, maybe it’s just me.” Oliver hoped that admission would be enough for her to turn around, to actually have a face-to-face conversation. Unfortunately, she remained still. “I thought it was going to get better, so I wasn’t going to say anything, but that wasn’t working.”

As she continued to look down at her hands, Chloe could feel him behind her, the space around her closing in. Memories flashed to her, with it an unwanted train of thought, and eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore. “That’s… an interesting change in tactics.”

He watched her practically jump away from him, from the console. Her head had finally turned towards him as her mouth opened again, but it wasn’t the expression he was hoping for as her glare was apparent. “How exactly did you think that sleeping with me was going to improve things?”

That was enough for him to take a step back. “Wait a second, I didn’t…” His words fell away from him, and he couldn’t finish that sentence. He couldn’t believe that she would accuse him of that, especially considering the truth. Had it really been that long since someone had looked out for her like this?

Shaking his head, Oliver realized that he knew the answer to that question. Still, he added, “Really Chloe? You think I’d stoop that low?”

She shrugged a shoulder, her face not changing in the slightest. “You and I both know that you’re capable of stooping that low,” she said.

Her confidence in that statement initially threw Oliver, but the combination of their proximity and the screens around them eventually reminded him of one particular low point. That was a pretty cheap blow, but it didn’t surprise him that Chloe would resort to reminding him that he had practically blackmailed her. Again, he took a step back, then another one for good measure. “Thanks to you, I’m not that man anymore. All I’m trying to do is return the favour.”

“By grabbing the first willing body to help you get over Lois and then tell me how to live my life?” Chloe fired back. She wanted to believe him, his voice almost convinced her. But that didn’t erase the facts of what they had gone through. Biting the inside of her lip, she kept her emotions in check. “Great plan Oliver.”

“That’s what –” He huffed, his hand coming up to rake his fingers through his hair. “What happened last night has nothing to do with this. Besides, you should know better than anyone that Lois and I are long done.”

The hurt in his eyes was clear to see, but it had nothing to do with his relationship with Lois. No, this time, Chloe realized that she had crossed the line, a line that seemed more shameful than the one that they had crossed yesterday.

Eventually, his hand clapped down to his side, the hurt subsiding for frustration. “Jesus Chloe,” he said. “I knew that you hadn’t figured everything out, but I didn’t think you were this oblivious.”

And she still was, because even though he had already said too much, the next words out of her mouth were, “Then why?”

This time, he was the one to scoff. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” If she couldn’t figure it out at this point, then there wasn’t much point in telling her the truth. “Besides, it’s not like it meant anything to you, so it won’t do any good to dissect why.”

“We can’t just ignore it Oliver.”

“Fine!” Oliver fired back. “Then was that what this was about for you? Finding someone who was willing and use them to get over the pain?” He immediately regretted his words, because it continued to show his hand, digging the hole that he wasn’t sure that he could get back out of. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stop himself. “And to think I believed you when you said that you were over Clark.”

With that, he levelled the playing field. It made him feel like crap, but Oliver wanted her to know how she had made him feel.

“I am.”

He shrugged off her quiet admission, as that wasn’t anything new. “But the rest is true, isn’t it?” Again, he knew the truth, so while her silence was the expected response, the confirmation ripped him inside. “Exactly. That’s why I didn’t want to talk about this.”

Except Chloe was still trying to figure out what was going on. She understood that he was hurt, but she couldn’t help him if he couldn’t tell her why. Then it hit her.

However, that realization came at a cost. She must have let it show, because he shook his head before turning around. “You know, I forgot that I have some work to do at Queen Industries this morning,” he said. “Honestly, forget I said anything. I’m not exactly the go-to person for life advice anyway.”

There was a lot more on his mind, but Oliver kept it to himself as he left the room. When the door closed behind him, he paused, almost hopeful that things could still be salvaged before he left. When silence greeted him for a long enough period of time, Oliver knew she wasn’t following him and he didn’t think that he trusted his word choice anymore.

So he got in the elevator, trying to ignore the way that his mistakes seemed to echo in his mind. He knew she was fragile, that she wasn’t ready to hear his opinion of her work habits. More importantly, he hadn’t earned that yet. But, of course, he had to push her, and he said more than a few things that he regretted.

This is why you end up alone
, he thought, not wanting to get out of the elevator when it arrived, but he couldn’t stay here either. His aforementioned plan to go to Queen Industries didn’t seem like the best idea anymore, so he walked towards the clocktower, hoping different scenery would eventually help to clear his mind.

All he wanted was for her to take care of herself, but now, he didn’t even know if she could look at him anymore. He had just barely caught the look she gave him before leaving. He wasn’t sure what it was, whether it was pity or a realization that he had miscalculated things, but either way, she finally figured it out. And what a way for her to figure things out, especially with the way that he quickly exited stage left.

Once he arrived at the clocktower, he took off his coat, throwing it across the room, not really caring about where it landed. He needed a shower.



~0~



Normally, silence at Watchtower was welcome. It was practically her way of life a few months ago. But now, it was unwanted, as her mind was at work. Her hand went back to grab the console, trying understand the million dollar question.

Why?

Sure, they were both flawed, made their fair share of mistakes, but just because she had saved his life doesn’t mean that –

Chloe shook her head. Of course. That was why. He was just grateful, just projecting gratitude.

Yet it didn’t take long for that to not feel right too. However, that felt better than the possibility that she had been blind for a long time and the more she thought about the last couple of months, the more uncertainty arose about certain events.

She knew that this wasn’t a facet she was supposed to care about anymore. Heck, personal relationships of any kind were tricky. But somehow, he had caused her to give in and last night wasn’t the first time. To get the team back together, she needed him. Even if it required almost hitting him with a truck, she needed him.

And he was grateful. A welcome change of pace of the favours she had given over the years. Something he was trying to return, only she had accused him of something much worse.

When she arrived at the couch, she collapsed on it, stretching her fingers across the cushions, still at a loss for answers to what she had heard this morning. Closing her eyes, she skipped over the nervous pleasantries, the simple way that he discarded her fears with what she thought was an understanding of what last night was.

It was fine for a few minutes. Then he said:

“That’s because you don’t leave here… I’m allowed to be worried about that.”

She almost scoffed at that again, as while he wasn’t necessarily wrong, it wasn’t like she had completely lost her mind. She wasn’t the one who decided suicide was the best way out of a bad situation.

But she did accuse him of using her, which seemed so silly now because Oliver was right, he wasn’t that guy anymore. Before he didn’t spend this kind of time in Watchtower, checking in on her, making sure she was okay. They weren’t impromptu drinking partners, and what they had done, that never would have happened before.

Heck, for all she knew, maybe it would have. Clearly, Chloe didn’t have all the answers anymore because she couldn’t even see how much she had hurt Oliver until she watched him leave.

It also forced her to realize the real reason they had fought. Seeing things from his perspective allowed Chloe to see just how poorly she handled the situation and that meant that she couldn’t just go back to work. Usually, she could numb out all of her mistakes, all the facets of her life outside of Watchtower, but now, she couldn’t get Oliver’s voice out of her head.

Chloe wanted to believe he was wrong, but she couldn’t remember the last time she spent more than one day outside of Watchtower. There were many reasons why she had done that, but the world had changed around her, and it wasn’t like it wasn’t falling apart any less than it usually did while she was up here.

Still, she didn’t like the idea of leaving things the way they did this morning, so she put on her coat, hoping that the right words would come by the time she got to her destination.



~0~



After putting in the passcode, Chloe took a deep breath, knowing that she hadn’t been here in a long time, hoping that he would let her apologize.

Sure enough, he was sitting at his table with a clear view of the elevator when she got out. When their eyes met, it was almost enough for her to turn around, but she refused to be one of those people that couldn’t fix a misunderstanding with a simple conversation.

“Hey,” she said, as other words seemed to fail her.

Oliver leaned back in his chair, dropping his pen. “What are you doing here?”

She took a few steps forward, trying to maintain eye contact as she drew closer. “Clearly, we need to talk… and I’m hoping you’ll let me apologize for some of the things I said earlier today.”

After a nod, he said, “As long as you return the favour.”

That confused her for a second, as he really didn’t have anything to apologize for. Maybe that was why she didn’t start with an apology herself. “You were right though. About me staying at Watchtower too much. I just didn’t see it. I apparently haven’t been paying much attention to anything lately.”

“Chloe you don’t have to –”

“Yes, I do,” she interjected. “But you have to answer one question for me.”

He pushed his chair further back, standing up to walk around the table. “I’ll try,” he said, knowing that they were approaching dangerous territory.

Yet, she didn’t ask the most obvious question. “Why did you come to Watchtower last night?” Before, she had made a huge assumption, which led to this whole mess. She hoped that knowing the truth might help make things easier between them.

“I wasn’t trying to get over Lois,” he said, even though it did sting to watch her move on with someone who complimented her so well. It was even more frustrating to see someone like Clark debunk his long-time belief that with the lives they lead, getting the girl wasn’t realistic. “There really wasn’t much of a reason, but I wanted a different set of four walls so I wasn’t reminded of the fact that it’s hard to find someone like that in my life.”

It was the rationale he kept telling himself, as he didn’t like admitting that he was the problem. That was probably why he went to Watchtower, the one place Chloe was guaranteed to be, to see the one person who saw a hero in him, even at his lowest point.

Oliver looked up, tried to grin at her, but stopped when he noticed her head tilt down. “And I ended up using you,” she said softly, but loud enough for him to hear. “I’m not proud of it, but that was what last night was for me.”

It didn’t take long for Oliver to understand how she felt. “I know. I knew and I asked you anyway. Hence the apology.”

“I thought we were on the same page, so I used it to fight this morning, but I was wrong. I see that now.” Chloe swallowed hard, braving a glance up, but now Oliver was staring at his feet. She took a step towards him. “I get why you stayed at Watchtower, why you said what you did, and why you didn’t tell me.”

Oliver chuckled at that. “Not exactly how I wanted you to find out.”

She nodded, her eyebrow raising before she replied, “Especially since it’s not like you haven’t had an opportunity to tell me before.”

All this time, he could have said something, anything. But he stayed quiet, left her to utter confusion. Even this morning, when he did everything but say how he felt about her, he could hardly talk about it.

“I wanted to be sure first because I couldn’t be another one of those guys,” Oliver said, knowing that it wouldn’t excuse his lie of omission, but it was at least the truth. She had been hurt too much, and with her place on the team, there could be no second guessing. “Plus, you just lost Jimmy… and I’m still picking up the pieces of the shit I’ve caused.”

“What about last night?”

He sighed. “That wasn’t planned…but it clarified a few points.”

“For me too,” she said with a slow nod. “Although this morning gave them the right context.”

Somehow, Oliver managed to grin a little, despite what he said next. “Also clinched our ineptitude in this area.”

“That’s life, Oliver. We all have moments when we say things that we regret. Doesn’t mean that the words are wrong or undeserved.” She cleared her throat, tried to smile a bit. “I want to change that, to help you return the favour.”

“Really?”

Chloe laughed once before pursing her lips. “Yeah. I can’t make any promises about the other thing, but please don’t take today as me saying no. It’s not as crazy of a concept as I thought it was.”

“It’s not?”

She shook her head. “You’re not the only person who messed up in the last few months, who felt like the world was crumbling around them.”

Maybe she hid it better before, but Chloe doubted that was still the case, based on the concern he showed her earlier. “I know we’re not the same people we were when we met, but... we’ve seen a lot of things together and we’re still in each other’s lives.”

Her mouth quirked to a grin momentarily as their eyes met. “But you’ve had a lot longer to think about this. Before last night, I never considered it as a possibility.”

“Because you thought I still loved Lois?”

Chloe shook her head again. “Because I didn’t think the fact that it was me last night mattered. When I saw the way you looked at me, it surprised me.”

He had figured out that much, but even that was promising because it meant he didn’t scare her off entirely. Maybe there was some promise to this after all. “Apology accepted then.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” he replied. “We’re only human after all, unlike the rest of our team.”

She grinned again before taking a couple of steps forward and holding out her hand. “Then apology accepted for you too.”

He was more than happy to shake her hand, although he was lying if last night didn’t have an impact on how he felt touching her, even in this capacity. This was innocent, a simple gesture, yet he knew he found himself working to ensure that was all it was.

As his hand came back to his side, Oliver took a step back. “So, for the record, we’re good right?” I can keep my patrolling shift for tonight and it won’t be weird?”

“Only one way to find out,” she replied as she shrugged a shoulder. “See you at the usual time?”

“Sure, yeah.”

It was strange to feel so much relief, but considering where this morning started, how they had left things at Watchtower, there was no better word for Chloe. It almost made her wish that she could stay there and continue to talk with him.

“Well, I’ll leave you to your work,” she said, almost expecting the look on Oliver’s face to change. “Relax, I’m meeting Lois for coffee in twenty minutes. I didn’t ask for it, but apparently I need details about their date last night.”

He chuckled once. “That sounds fun.”

“You’re more than welcome to join me,” Chloe replied, crossing her arms across her chest as his grin continued to grow.

Unsurprisingly, he shook his head. “I think it’s probably best for both of us if I get my work done. But before you go, I want to make sure that you know that… despite my delivery, I did mean what I said regarding living your life how you wanted.”

“Good,” she said. “I’ll see you later Ollie.”

Hearing the nickname was more comforting than Oliver thought. As he watched Chloe approach the elevator, he felt happy that things were looking up, but there was one thing that was still bugging him. “Hey Chloe?”

“Yeah?”

“Why did you come here and not to Queen Industries?”

Again, she shrugged. “I figured it was more likely that you would be drinking here than working at Queen Industries while you were angry.” She glanced over to where his liquor cabinet was, as it wasn’t like it was too unheard of for Oliver to backslide, especially considering his mood when he left Watchtower. With a grin, she looked back towards him. “This is one case where I don’t mind being completely right.”

Oliver grinned back, as he couldn’t blame her for thinking that way, and he was glad that this was one case he didn’t disappoint her. As he sat back in his chair, he said, “Someone gave me a second chance. I’m trying not to blow it.”



~0~



For once, having coffee with Lois for these reasons wasn’t truly frustrating for Chloe. It probably should have been, considering it was Clark, but Chloe meant what she told Oliver. The long-time schoolgirl crush was over.

But what did that mean for her future? Sure, her feelings were a bit murky throughout her relationships and her marriage to Jimmy, but that was a different time. A time where she thought she could have normal. She really thought she had given up on everything in this specific vein, as disaster seemed to be the only option and she couldn’t handle that hurt again.

Yet there was something about the way that Oliver and her talked, the way they could fight like that and then come around to an apology within an hour. They had seen some terrible things together, they had seen each other do some pretty terrible things, but they backed away from the brink of truly losing themselves. With that in her mind, Chloe couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this time, this part of her life could make sense, it could be different.

Chloe stared down at her coffee, as she continued to sit on the park bench. It turned out to be a pretty nice day, so she had taken Oliver’s advice and decided to spend the day outside of Watchtower and would report in after dinner. A lot of what Lois had said was on her mind, as Chloe could hardly believe that Clark would let himself embrace that facet of his life, especially considering his history with Lana. It didn’t help that Lois didn’t know the truth, but Chloe had a feeling that one day that would change.

And if Clark Kent could do it, so could she, right? Especially if it was with someone who knew all of her demons. Or at least, that was what she thought. Chloe was honestly not sure who she was anymore and she couldn’t be certain if Oliver really wanted the person he thought she was.

She took in a deep breath, noticing how the air was starting to get cooler, but it didn’t faze her much, even as the cold coffee touched her tongue.

It shouldn’t be this hard, she thought, but happiness was never something that came to her easy. Hence her hesitation, her reluctance to truly accept everything that had happened.

It wasn’t like she didn’t have rational reasons, as arguably everything she thought about herself could easily be applied to Oliver. But she couldn’t dwell on this forever, so she got up from the bench and walked over to the burger joint down the street from the park.

The last time she had actually taken a break for a meal during the day was so long ago that Chloe had to laugh as she opened up her burger. Not the healthiest thing on the planet, but she could probably use it, as coffee and muffins had carried her through a lot of days and she knew that her pants were getting a bit loose lately.

That was oddly enough to bring Oliver’s words back to her mind. He was right about this after all, and it was disconcerting how easy it was to remember what it felt like to have a life. He really meant well with everything, but she was feeling less certain that she could give him what he was looking for.

However, she refused to let it ruin her night. It wasn’t like she had to make a decision anyway. He didn’t seem to mind that she needed time and if he didn’t press her before, he wouldn’t now.

First, they had to get through tonight, knowing what they knew. It didn’t help that the lights were on in Watchtower when she showed up. Granted, it was technically good news that he beat her here. It meant that he knew that she took his advice, that his opinion mattered to her, not to mention that he was still improving.

Her breath was a bit shaky as she reached for the door, but Chloe knew that there was no turning around at this point.

Except she found a different face when she looked at the console. He had clearly seen her first, but it didn’t take long for Chloe’s face to light up when she realized Victor had come to Metropolis ahead of schedule.

“Hey! When did you get into town?”

“Last night,” he replied. “I almost stopped by Watchtower, but I stopped off at Oliver’s first and completely passed out.”

“It’s good to see you,” she replied as she nudged her arm against his while she stood next to him at the console.

For a second, it almost felt like old times to Victor. Granted, those times didn’t last long, but it was still comforting considering everything the team had gone through. Unfortunately, he had noticed a tick in her expression when he mentioned that he went to Oliver’s place. She had to know what he meant by that and he knew better than to keep quiet.

He also knew that he couldn’t just jump to it. “Is it? Because your expression implies that you were expecting someone else.”

“Hey,” she replied, typing away for a few seconds before turning her head towards him. “Just because I’m surprised doesn’t mean that it’s not a welcome surprise.”

Victor swallowed hard, having a feeling that this was going to be a sore subject. However, knowing that Oliver was coming tonight, he had no intention of letting this blow up. Last year was all about secrets and keeping things quiet, and it did the team little good. That didn’t mean that this was going to be easy for him though, as he wasn’t an expert in this area.

Still, he pressed on. “While that might be true, your poker face is about as good as his was when it came to talking about you.” Her hands came to a complete stop and he didn’t have to see her face to know that she was conflicted. “I understand why you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m probably one of your better options to hash things out, especially considering you both suck at subtlety and I know he’s patrolling tonight.”

Chloe took a deep breath, trying to focus back on what she was working on rather than look at him. “There’s nothing wrong about being happy that Oliver no longer wants to kill himself.”

“So nothing happened?” he asked, knowing it was a lie, hoping that it would help her open up.

“Nothing’s changed between us,” she said. “We’re still friends.”

His head jerked back slightly at the word still, as that clinched his worries. However, he managed to keep focused. “Did it work?”

“What?”

“Convincing yourself that nothing has changed,” he answered. “You do realize that I was at Oliver’s when you stopped by this morning right? I mean, I don’t need the details, but –”

“Then why are you pressing this?” she asked, finally looking at him.

Victor was quick to answer that question. “I like knowing where the team is standing, especially considering last year when I was pretty much MIA.” His head dipped, knowing that he wasn’t around when he should have been before. Not for Doomsday, for Jimmy’s funeral, none of it. That guilt ate away at him for a long time, as it took weeks of Chloe’s persistence to remind him why they did what they did. “I know this is a lot different, but the last thing I want is for us to repeat our mistakes, no matter how good the intentions.”

Eventually, he was able to shake it off and turn his attention back to Chloe. “In the end, the choice is yours… but I’m glad because he finally told you how he feels about you.”

“How did you know about that?”

Victor pursed his lips, feeling a bit bad for Chloe. All this time, she had focused so hard on everyone else that she lost touch with a lot of her own life. Oliver especially had taken initiative to make sure that changed, but it seemed like she was finally getting the message.

“Initially,” he said, “we all figured that it was gratitude, but it became clear that you were the only one he was like that around. Sure, you were the mastermind of the Roulette initiative and you saved his life at the Ace of Clubs too, but –”

“Wait, did you say we?” Chloe swallowed hard as she glanced back at the screen. “Has it really been that obvious?”

They both knew the answer to that, so Victor didn’t bother, hoping he could provide her a bit of solace instead. “When you don’t let yourself look for it… I get why you missed it. And it’s not really we. With everyone’s respective missions, I doubt everyone knows, especially considering Bart’s crush on you. Dinah definitely suspects something though.”

“Probably best to leave it at that,” she said. “At this point, I’m grateful that we salvaged our friendship. The rest of it will probably fade.”

He frowned before glancing in her direction, as it was really hard hearing Chloe like this. During the worst days, the team wasn’t around, so he knew this was nothing compared to the days right after Doomsday, but it made Victor realize just how much she had lost. “Are you sure that you’re okay with that?”

“No,” she said a lot more confidently than he had expected. “But considering both of our pasts, it can’t be a good idea, right?”

Again, her eyes found his, but he hoped that she knew there was no answer he could give her that would make things easier. “Do you honestly expect me to answer that?”

“Probably not.”

“I can answer that, if you’re interested,” Oliver said, causing them both to turn around to see their leader standing near the doorway.

All that time, they had been so focused on their conversation that Victor had lost track of time, unaware of the possibility that Oliver would overhear them. He had no idea how much Oliver had overhead, but no doubt it was enough.

Regardless, Victor had to let them talk, so he gave Chloe a sympathetic look before walking past Oliver.

“You’re early,” Chloe said, unable to find any other words. So much for thinking that she could get away from him finding out about her concerns.

He wasn’t completely devastated at least, as he took off his coat and laid it over the couch. Although he seemed to be avoiding eye contact. “How was coffee with Lois?”

She chuckled, hoping there was a way they could keep the mood light. “You know Lois, she gives way too many details, but…”

Her voice trailed as she noticed that he hadn’t moved. Which was fair, he deserved honesty at this point. “Luckily I had enough on my mind, so I don’t remember the X-rated things that happened between my friend and cousin.”

“Probably for the best,” he said, turning around to lean against the couch. “So, you changed your tune pretty quickly from this morning.”

“Oliver, I can explain.”

She waited for Oliver to tell her no, to walk out of the room, but instead, she as he rested his hands on the top of the cushions. “I’m listening,” he said.

In that moment, Chloe froze, as she hadn’t expected that to work. “I actually took your advice and took a day off. I got here not long before you did.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“Except I did.” For the first time in likely hours, Chloe felt an unexpected fire inside of her. “Oliver, when you believe in something, it’s for a reason. No matter how much has changed, that’s an important part of who you are.”

He noticed the spark in the voice, comforted by the fact that she meant almost everything she said earlier. “Is that what this is about? You’re worried about everything that has changed?”

“Not… exactly,” Chloe said, as it turned out that it wasn’t as straightforward to explain as she hoped. Still, she continued to look at him, hoping that she could pull this off. “I mean, it is a lot to take in, everything that happened in the last twenty-four hours.”

She took a step forward to gauge his reaction, grateful when nothing changed. “Oliver, I have a hard enough time trying to figure out who I am anymore. But I do know that I’m not exactly reliable when it comes to being in a relationship.”

“That’s something we have in common,” he replied, knowing that their past relationships didn’t paint a promising picture. “But I’m thinking we’re smart enough to learn from our mistakes. I respect your boundaries and will continue to do so, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on you or moving on right away.”

It was hard for Chloe, hearing so much conviction in his voice because she couldn’t share that same feeling. “You can’t know that for sure,” she said.

Oliver’s expression wavered momentarily, but he shook it off just as quickly, shaking his head before he spoke. “I think I do, actually.”

This time, he took a step forward and Chloe did her best to not react. She tried to say something back, but Oliver continued, “You seriously think you’re the first person to consider that us together is a bad idea?” He paused to purse his lips, giving her a quick grin. “You might think otherwise, but you’re a tough woman to quit, Chloe Sullivan. After a while, I realized that for as many bad things, there were infinitely more good things and chose to focus on those.”

Once again, she didn’t have an answer for that, but it appeared that Oliver had foreseen the answer that she hadn’t thought of yet. “Yes, I chickened out earlier, but that was because I wanted to make things right and I didn’t want to rush you. The truth is that I’m not good at this, but –”

You’re not good at this?” Chloe interjected, glad to find her voice again. “This should be right up your alley.”

He shrugged, as he couldn’t exactly blame her for thinking that way. It wasn’t like he had a shortage of relationships, but he figured that she would know that hardly any of them meant anything.

“When it comes to relationships, I’m a classic case of quantity over quality,” he said. “The majority of the time… it’s mostly bullshit.”

“Even with Lois?”

Oliver really wanted her to stop bringing up his history with her cousin, but he bit his tongue. “She didn’t know about Green Arrow when I pursued her, and even then, like my past relationships, I went into it with an expected rate of failure. That’s… not an option now. At least, I don’t want it to be.”

Her head dipped slowly, causing Oliver to frown because he had an idea he knew what was coming.

“Except it is. It always is.”

She wasn’t wrong, Oliver knew that, but even if it wasn’t with him, he couldn’t let her live like this. He took a couple more steps towards her, watching as she brought her eyes up to look at him again. It almost stung him, wondering if he would ever convince her that she deserved more than she would allow herself to get.

“You know,” he said, testing her boundaries further as he moved closer. “That is made a lot easier when one foot is already out the door, no matter how much the second foot fights to hold onto something.”

As Chloe bit her lip, he could feel that he was at least making some progress. However, for once, he didn’t anticipate what she said next. “And what are you fighting for, Oliver?”

He shook his head, as she was really making him work for this, but that was only fair considering he kept stalling progress once it felt like they were getting somewhere. A mistake he wasn’t going to make tonight.

“You, Chloe.” He tentatively reached towards her, hoping she would let him touch his hand to her hair. She didn’t move, so he let himself smile when his fingers touched her cheek. “You may have lost sight of who you are, or doubt yourself in a relationship, but I don’t. You believe in the best in everyone you meet, almost to a fault. You’re the bravest person I know because you effortlessly keep us in line and you will sacrifice everything to help a friend or save the world.”

“I called you sidekick once, but the truth is, and I don’t care how cheesy this sounds, you’re my hero.” He could see her about to interject, but he didn’t let her. “A hero who happens to be incredibly intelligent, snarky as hell and undeniably beautiful, especially when she lets herself be happy. And you don’t let anything stop you, not even a guy who insisted that the gutter was where he belonged.”

There wasn’t much to read in her expression, as the faint surprise had lasted since he started his admission. She had to say the next words, that he knew for sure, so he watched her, hoping for the best. Or at least, something similar to this morning that would imply that she would continue to think about it.

Then she said, “Okay.”

Chloe knew it wasn’t the answer that he expected, but she was still taking in everything he had said. She wanted to ask if he was sure, but she knew he was. With that, all of the possible roadblocks she had relied on seemed pointless, as he was right. It was about time she started focusing on the good things.

“You really believe in us that much,” she added.

Oliver grinned, wondering how it was possible that he was standing so close to her like this when she could hardly look at him this morning. He wasn’t complaining, but it was a little surreal. “You asked, Chloe, and I’m tired of being subtle. Apparently we’re bad at it.”

Her eyes immediately widened. “How much did you hear?”

“So Victor told you too, huh?” he replied, as that was the only thing that made sense because he hadn’t heard that much of their conversation.

“Oh.”

“Look, Chloe, I know this is a lot for you, especially because of everything you’ve been through. But you need to know that the only way that this is a phase for me is because you decide that you don’t feel the same way.”

Chloe wasn’t sure what came over her in that moment, but in a way, it made sense. She was only human after all and even she could admit they had chemistry. The strange thing was that was the minority factor in this situation. After months of frustration, of trying to have a semblance of normal in her life, of trying to fight to bring the team back, the idea of someone fighting for her made her feel something that she couldn’t express.

So she closed what little distance existed between them. She surprised him initially, but he was quick to respond. It was certainly a lot more innocent than anything they did last night, but she initiated it. And the way that he looked at her afterwards made it worth it.

However, she didn’t want to send the wrong message, so she took a step back, doing her best to maintain her grin to let him know that wasn’t a mistake. “How about we go for coffee tomorrow? I mean, I know you don’t drink coffee, but the one thing we haven’t said yet is… and I don’t know about you, but I don’t regret what happened last night.”

“Me neither,” he replied, his smile brightening up more somehow.

“I just need to have a better idea of what it would look like.”

“Absolutely, I get that,” Oliver replied, still in denial about what had just happened. “How about midnight pizza after patrolling though?”

She laughed at the offer, not expecting him to continue to be so forward. “You can’t wait one night?”

He shook his head. “Not really,” he said walking closer to her again. “One could argue I’ve impeded progress enough.”

There was something extremely satisfying watching the way his eyes darken just for her, but Chloe knew they had to remain focused. There were more important things to do soon.

“Slow down Romeo,” she said, holding up a hand. “To be clear, we’re testing the waters. Last night… that’s not going to happen again. At least, not right away.”

“That’s fair,” he replied, respecting her wishes and giving her a smile before turning to get suited up for patrolling.

“Or John and I can cover your shifts tonight,” Victor said as he walked into the room. “Before you ask, I didn’t have to hear anything to know that you’d figure things out.” With Oliver’s head out of his ass and considering Chloe’s improved mood, he knew that things would look up. “So what do you say?”

It was tempting for her. After all, it was the time away from Oliver that caused Chloe to doubt this situation, as talking things through made her more and more confident that last night was more of a blessing than she ever could have predicted.

This was different though. Oliver would still be talking to her, as they worked together. They would be a team tonight and that was something she was really starting to treasure since the team had reuinted.

That helped her figure out her answer. “That’s really sweet of you Victor, but I’d rather keep the schedule. No matter what happened between us, the first priority is keeping the team running smoothly.” She looked over her shoulder. “Right Oliver?”

“Absolutely,” he replied, watching Victor shrug as he and Chloe went towards the console.

It sure wasn’t the way Oliver drew up telling Chloe the truth, and he had no idea if they were going for pizza tonight, but all in all, today was a pretty good day and this was the most he was looking forward to patrolling in a long time.


~End~



Scribbles: I had hoped to get this up much sooner, but I kept running into issues that took some time to fix. Jury's still out on whether it panned out, but I'm hopeful. For all the people who got my note on Twitter and have found this, thanks! I don't know how many more new stories I have, but I do have one or two one-shots and, if there's interest, I might be looking at finishing at least one of my outstanding WIPs.

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on June 21st, 2017 12:02 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] scout09.livejournal.com
Through a random series of misadventures trying to login with my livejournal account, I managed to erase every bit of my post. I'll try to remember:

Yay! You finished it! You've captured so much of what I feel we both love about these two here. It's going to sound strange, but I love when these guys argue. Relationships, the good ones. are hard. I always appreciated (and it was probably a result of their minimal screentime) that there was a lack of miscommunication and brooding between these two.

...there was something about the way that Oliver and her talked, the way they could fight like that and then come around to an apology within an hour. Bingo.

I think there was something very appealing to Chloe about how hard Oliver fought for her. She worked so hard by herself to bring the League back together and I think in a weird way saw that same determination in how Ollie approached their relationship. I loved that I could see that idea play out in your last bit here.

Ugh, this is not as good as my last comment and I'm sure I left something out, but I so appreciate that you're still writing! Thanks so much, Sera. A beautiful ending!

on July 16th, 2017 01:50 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kachica.livejournal.com
I just saw your tweet to Sofia, I didn't know about the lj thing. Anyway, that was a great conclusion to the story and funny enough it was posted on the Brazilian valentine's day. hehe.

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