Lois walked across the lobby of the Metropolis Plaza Hotel, wishing that champagne didn't pack such a wallop and that the hotel lights were just a tiny bit less bright. The General had invited both Lois and Martha to breakfast, and when Lois woke up, Martha had already gone down to meet him. Closing the span of the lobby with purposeful, fast strides, Lois prepared herself for the long, disapproval filled speech from her father that marked their father/daughter visits. A familiar voice made Lois stop in her tracks and she turned slowly.
It simply could not be. And yet, it was. Arthur Curry, tall, blonde, and tan, standing at the hotel reception desk. Rolling her eyes, Lois shook her head and walked over to him and sharply tapped A.C. on the shoulder. He turned and Lois raised an eyebrow as A.C.'s surprised smile widened in recognition.
"Hey, Lois!" He reached out for her, but Lois' frown darkened. "Ooh…hey, I kept in touch…" A.C. held up his hands in mock surrender. "If anything, you were the one that let the flow of communication get blocked up."
"I know. But, you neglected to fill me in on the fact that you'd be here in Metropolis." Lois folded her arms. "So? Olympic trials, new girlfriend…?
"Hang right there a second." A.C. turned, took the card key from the desk clerk, politely thanked her and brought his attention back to Lois. "Just some friends of mine getting together here in Metropolis. I was going to look you up, but I just got here."
"Great." Lois folded her arms as she and A.C. walked together to the elevators. "I'm seeing someone…and now you turn up, like a bad penny…"
"Hey, it's all good." A.C. nodded. A broad grin lit his square face, softening the strong jaw and Lois smiled back. "So, this guy you're with? Seriously seeing him or just kind of?" A.C. asked and Lois laughed at the complete lack of jealousy in his voice. "Just kind of means we can go to dinner to really catch up."
"Just kind of, and I'm late for breakfast with my father." Lois hugged A.C. quickly and then pushed away. "Call me later and we'll make plans." The elevator chimed, and A.C. nodded, raising a hand in farewell as Lois turned to run down the hallway, headed for the dining room. "It's good to see you, A.C."
"Gotta love her." A.C. laughed as the elevator doors blocked his view of Lois' retreating back. "Gotta love her."
Lois found the dining room again, and saw her father talking with Martha Kent comfortably over coffee. Here's hoping Mrs. Kent said only nice things about me, Lois wished, crossing her fingers as she walked to the table, spine straight, shoulders back. "Morning. Sorry, I'm late…."
"Lateness is unacceptable." The General snapped, rising to pull out Lois' chair for her. "You had plenty of notice. The message was clear, 'Breakfast at 0830.'"
"This isn't the Army, Daddy." Lois replied sullenly, rolling her eyes at Martha Kent, who smiled and then pursed her lips, to not laugh. "And last night was New Year's Eve."
General Lane eyed his daughter. "At least today you're covered up. Last night you looked like a two bit…"
"General Lane, I thought Lois looked lovely." Martha interrupted gently. "Her dress was no more revealing than anyone else's, and that shade of blue is perfect for her."
Lois hung her head over the chilled glass of grapefruit juice at her place. Not making eye contact sometimes helped calm her father down, but today, General Lane was on a roll that would make an avalanche very, very welcome. Too bad there were no mountains in Kansas.
"Thank you, Mrs. Kent." Lois smiled at Clark's mother. "I liked your dress, too."
"Did your sister call you?" General Lane asked, waving the waitress over to refill his coffee cup and to order breakfast. "She got herself in some hot water in Athens. Lucy told me you were supposed to be meeting her…."
"No, I was meeting you and Lucy in Hawaii." Lois said, looking up, biting back the four- letter word that would have cut her speech right then. The General needed to be glad Martha Kent was there. "Your leave got changed, and Lucy cashed in her ticket and went to Greece. I was left alone with no family for Christmas." She ignored Martha's gentle remonstrance and glared at her father. "Lucy is not my problem."
"No?" General Lane set his spoon down, fixing his daughter with an unrelenting black stare that made lower ranking officers and enlisted men tremble. Lois, the General noted with pride he would never let her know about, was unimpressed. "Until I tell you different, Lois, she IS your problem. Lucy can get into trouble faster than all get out. You're supposed to be looking out for her. You could have flown to Greece and met her."
Lois looked down again, her teeth on edge. If this was how the year was going to start out, then she might as well just go back to bed and stay there until next year. Loud protests and outrage bubbled up inside her chest, making it impossible to even contemplate eating the breakfast she'd ordered. Swallowing her juice, with effort, Lois wished she could scream – it didn't matter at whom. Clark was usually helpful in that regard, a very easy and unexpecting target for the spleen that she needed to vent, and in this case, he was even kind of deserving, although Lois didn't know why for sure. Maybe seeing A.C. had really been enough to push her over the edge. Thinking of A.C. at Crater Lake, and Bruce at the party last night, Lois felt a hollow anger that seemed to come from nowhere. Neither of them would be sticking around for long, and Lois realized that maybe that was the attraction in the first place. She took a deep breath in and glared at her father. "I didn't want to go to Greece. And, in case you didn't notice, Lucy didn't fly to the US to see me."
The General cleared his throat and looked at Mrs. Kent. "It's unfortunate, ma'am, that you are witnessing my daughter at her most stubborn."
Martha smiled. "On the contrary, General, I think Lois has a point. We were glad to have her with us for Christmas, but most times, it does seem like Chloe is more of a sister to Lois than Lucy. Maybe you need to give Lucy some reminders to spend time with Lois from time to time."
The General paused in buttering his toast and turned to look at Martha Kent. "All due respect, Senator, you have a son, and one of the most respectful boys I've seen outside of the Officer Corps. I could have used your advice after my wife Ellie passed away. These girls are a handful and a half."
Lois stood. "Excuse me, please. I'm going to go throw up, and then I'm going shopping." She looked at her father. "You might have had better luck with us if you took postings that let us be in one school for longer than a year at a time, make friends and put down some roots . See you back in Smallville, Mrs. Kent." Lois turned on one heel and strode from the restaurant. She saw Clark, A.C. and a shorter blond boy walking toward her and with a growl, Lois shook her head and headed for the elevator to get her coat. Ignoring Clark's quick shout of greeting, Lois pressed the button for the elevator and folded her arms, forcing herself to not cry. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a problem was to walk away.
Chloe looked up from her book and over at where Oliver was quietly packing away Christmas ornaments. He was dismantling the Christmas tree, but his mind was elsewhere. An early morning phone call had woken Oliver from his sleep and plunged the rest of the first day of the new year into a dark funk that Chloe couldn't quite figure out. They'd somberly examined the eight little milkmaids, all sculpted out of marzipan, and eaten breakfast in subdued voices and then oppressive silence took hold. It wasn't the quietness that bothered Chloe, even if it seemed unusual after the past couple weeks of Oliver's boisterous ways. It was that something was on Oliver's mind and he wasn't telling her about it. Whatever that phone call had been about, it has shaken him to his very foundations, and, Chloe sighed, he wasn't sharing the worry with her. So, Chloe did the only thing she could do, closed her book and cleared her throat. "Earth to Oliver…"
"What?" Oliver turned and blinked at Chloe, as if he wasn't completely sure he was seeing her properly. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." Chloe stood and walked over to him, taking the fragile snowflake from his hand and setting it down. "You aren't, though. What's bothering you?"
"I'm sorry, Chloe." Oliver shook his head. "Just thinking about some things." He took her in his arms and sighed. "You know, tomorrow and this big meeting with Bruce and Clark…"
"That all?" Chloe asked. "That phone call you got earlier seemed to shake you." She reached up to touch his face. "What was it about?"
"Call? Oh." Oliver nodded, solemnly. "Heard that, huh?" He asked, seeming slightly remorseful. "How much did you hear?"
"Just enough to know that whoever was calling had given you some seriously bad news." Chloe replied. "I understand you not wanting to tell me what's going on, but, if it can help you, I'm here to listen."
Oliver smiled, and kissed her. "I'll tell you all of it, if you really want to know, but the first and most important thing is that I love you. Okay?"
"Okay." Chloe nodded slowly. "I love you, too."
"Good. That call was from someone named Larry Lance." Oliver led Chloe over to the couch and sat down, pulling her down with him. His daughter, Dinah and I were," He shook his head. "Pretty seriously involved for a long time…I met her right after I got back from being shipwrecked." Oliver looked at Chloe, and sighed. "How much of this do you really need to hear?"
"As much as you want to tell me." Chloe said softly, and Oliver nodded. "Is she okay?"
"That's why Larry was calling. Dinah dropped out of communication with him a few weeks ago. He was hoping maybe I'd heard something, but when she and I ended it this last time, it was for good." Oliver held tightly to Chloe's hand. "Might as well tell you all of it, even if I don't come out so heroic in the end…"
"Oliver." Chloe looked up into his face. "I'm not worried about that."
"That makes one of us, then." Oliver smiled ruefully, and kissed Chloe's hand. "Dinah had powers, a sonic cry that could really do some damage."
"There's a meteor freak in Belle Reve that can do that." Chloe nodded. "Clark was badly hurt fighting him…"
"So, you have an idea of what it can do." Oliver said, and Chloe smiled. "Anyway, Dinah and I met right after I made it back to Star City and it didn't take long to start working together, too. Kick-ass fighter and beautiful, Dinah wasn't afraid of anything. Saved me more times that I want to admit to. About a year and half ago, Dinah was captured by some seriously bad guys…" Oliver hung his head. "Chloe. I really didn't expect this to be so hard…telling you all of this…" He looked up at her and shook his head. "They tortured and raped her, Chloe. By the time Hal and I found her, Dinah was just short of dead. The trauma not only nearly killed her, but she lost her abilities. When she realized that, Dinah slowly started shutting everyone out."
"So you left her?" Chloe asked softly and Oliver smiled.
"No. But, thank you for letting that be why you'd think I was a creep." He kissed her forehead. "It was six months later. I was around a lot, trying to help while she recovered. Some girl that worked in her father's florist shop, Maggie, I think her name was, decided to put the moves on me."
"Still not seeing the creep factor…" Chloe said, and then covered her mouth. "Oh, Oliver, you didn't?"
"It wasn't intentional." Oliver said, feeling Chloe's eyes on him, but refusing to look up. Her hand was still in his and the fact that it closed around his more tightly when he spoke made him feel a little braver. "I don't even have a defense, Chloe. I only kissed her, but Dinah saw it, and that was it. I tried to explain and apologize, even Maggie tried, but Dinah was done. In a split second of bad judgement, I'd destroyed the one thing Dinah said helped her survive her ordeal, her trust in me. Just like that, it was over. Later, Larry told me that she'd been doing some travelling, trying to figure out what to do with her life. The fact that he hasn't heard from her could be a good thing, might be a bad thing."
"What do you want to do?" Chloe asked, and Oliver shook his head. "Do you want to look for her?"
"No." Oliver said and then groaned. "Yes. I don't know. For all I know, she wants to be out of communication. If I were to find Dinah to make sure she was safe, just to ruin whatever life she'd made for herself…it's enough I hurt her stupidly once."
"What if she's in trouble?" Chloe asked, her voice small. Oliver let go of Chloe's hand and stood. "What if you can help her somehow, Oliver?"
"I've been asking myself the same thing." Oliver said, his back to Chloe. "Hearing you ask tears me up. The last thing I'd want is to hurt you in the process, too."
Chloe nodded and stood, walking around to look up into Oliver's face. "Do you still love her?" When Oliver looked into Chloe's eyes, he saw a calm resolve that he realized must have come from years of letting go, a resilience that could have only been born of watching the person she loved be happy elsewhere and being used to saying goodbye to her own hopes. "If you still love her, Oliver, you have to go and find her." Chloe rubbed his arm gently, consolingly, smiling just a little. "I understand."
"Do I still love her?" Oliver repeated dully. "Do you still love Clark?" He watched Chloe frown slightly, processing his question and she closed her eyes for a second, searching for the right words. When she looked up at him again, Oliver saw his answer clearly in her eyes and he felt small having just asked her about Clark after unloading the Dinah story on her.
"That's different." Chloe sighed. "Clark and I never were more than friends, even if my feelings were stronger than his, we were still just friends."
"You were in love with him, Chloe." Oliver shook his head, and brushed the hair from her eyes. "Recently."
"He wasn't in love with me, Oliver." Chloe smiled softly. "I'm in love with you. But, if you are still in love with Dinah, then you need to find her and tell her. Either fix it or get it put behind you."
Oliver pulled Chloe into his arms and sighed, deep and ragged. "I'm in love you, Chloe. I don't deserve it, being as happy as I've been, either. As far as Dinah goes, I have to hope that she's okay, and that she knows what she's doing." He dropped his face to her hair. "What a way to start the New Year, huh? Well, now you know something else about me you didn't know before."
"I'm glad you told me. " Chloe said, resting her cheek on Oliver's chest. "I don't think we're supposed to forget the first people we love, Oliver." They stood there in each other's arms and then Oliver sighed, moving Chloe a little away from him to kiss her. Their lips met softly and when it broke, Oliver tipped Chloe's face up to look into her eyes. Wordlessly, Oliver kissed her again, and nearly felt himself sob when Chloe's arms tightened around him.
"You are too good for me, you realize that." Oliver's voice was hoarse as he shook his head. "Too good by miles."
"Oh, I don't know about that." Chloe replied brightly. "I'll make up for it eventually." She kissed him again, quickly, standing on tiptoes. "I'm pretty high maintenance."
"Yeah, I can tell." Oliver rolled his eyes. "Really high maintenance."
"See? You're smiling now." Chloe grinned up at Oliver. "That's better. Want help taking the tree down?"
"No." He shook his head. "You finish that reading for your class. I don't want to hear that I hindered your academic progress."
"I'm done." Chloe said, looking at her discarded book. "I was reading ahead a little."
"Of course you were." Oliver rumpled her hair and led her to the tree. "Okay then, Sullivan, get undecorating. Quit stalling."
"Yes, sir." Chloe laughed, saluting him smartly, the way Uncle Sam had taught her. They both laughed then, and set to work, things between them returning to normal. Before long, Chloe looked up and the tree was empty. Except for the red and white Santa hat she had bought that first night on a silly whim. She reached up and plucked the Santa hat from the top of the tree and ran her hand over the red plush, feeling tears prick her eyes, and escape down her cheeks.
"Hey." Oliver said, as he walked over to her. "I'm sorry, about before, Chloe…I didn't want you to feel badly about us. I'm with you...that's where I want to be..."
"It's not about before." She wiped her eyes and held up the hat. "This is where we started. The first joke." She smiled, holding the hat up. "I'm almost afraid to put it away."
"Hmm." Oliver nodded, considering the situation seriously. "We can't. You're one hundred percent right." He took the hat from her, and winked. "Come on." He carried the hat over to the shelves where family pictures and different mementos of theirs were displayed. He set the hat on the picture of them at the Metropolis Plaza rink the first night, the white fur trim accentuating the photo of them on the ice, lost in their first kiss. "There. Our first date."
Chloe smiled. "Perfect. Just a little bit of Christmas every day."
"Doesn't get better than that." Oliver hugged Chloe to him and nodded. "Besides, since you passed on the Miss New Year title, we really have to keep the Christmas theme running."
"Uh-huh." Chloe laughed. "If we're supposed to be meeting everyone at the park before your football day starts, we'd better get moving." She groaned. "I guess I'm going shopping with Lois again."
"Or, you could play football. There's no law that says the girls can't play." Oliver slid his hands down Chloe's back to her butt. "I know I'd like to tackle you."
"You'd be tackling me even if we were on the same team." Chloe snuggled closer and Oliver laughed.
"I could tackle you before we go to the park and get it over with." Oliver's voice was an irresistible whisper, and Chloe sighed, pressing herself against him. "For now."
Chloe chuckled. "All you need to complete that sentence is an evil laugh." His green eyes sparkled with mischief and Chloe bit her lip as Oliver kissed her neck.
"Muhahahahaha." Oliver whispered against Chloe's neck. "Evil enough for you?" His teeth grazed the soft skin just below her jaw and Chloe could feel him smile. "I'm supposed to be one of the good guys, and you want an evil laugh..."
"My hero..." Chloe gasped and Oliver kissed her, stopping her words in a quick swoop that made Chloe weak at the knees. His arms tightened around her, keeping her upright. Oliver teasingly kissed her again, a hint at more than an actual kiss, then grinned at her. Chloe looked up at him, bemused, shaking her head. "Whew."
"Yeah." Oliver nodded, his breath coming faster. "Whew." He kissed her again, both of them pushing away the comfortable, easy clothes they had started the day in. Needing Chloe had become part of life, the same as breathing for Oliver. The brief horror that the misery that had been the end of his relationship with Dinah might somehow blight this new and miraculous chance to be happy was too much to stand. Oliver wanted to forget how Chloe's eyes, full of sadness and resignation as if losing him was what she expected from their relationship. More importantly, Oliver wanted Chloe to never feel that again, to be the cause of that misery for her. But words, for once, completely failed Oliver Queen. Chloe was there, her t-shirt and leggings on the floor, before him, and there was just no other way to try and tell her what she meant, no other way to erase that calm acceptance from her eyes.
"Oliver?" Chloe whispered, looking up at him, her forehead creased. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Oliver said, looking into her eyes. "Chloe, everything is finally right. You know that, don't you?"
She smiled gently, as if she didn't want to believe him and then nodded. "I do, Oliver. I just hate that you are still hurting so badly…I love you too much to see you this way.."
"Chloe…" Oliver ran a finger over her lips. "Ssh." He picked her up and carried her up the stairs. He sat her on the bed and knelt at her feet. "Listen. I'm an ass for making you even believe for a second that I could want to be anywhere but where you are. If it hurts now it's only in that I'm not who you thought I might be…"
Chloe lowered herself to the floor beside Oliver and kissed him gently. "Oliver." She smiled. "I love you. The past is the past and we all make mistakes." Chloe wrapped her arms around Oliver. "I'm not going anywhere…" The wedding ring he'd given her, his father's ring, gleamed between her breasts, just over her heart, and Oliver knew that no matter what, Chloe would be there, as she promised. Oliver sighed and kissed her, and they both slid to the floor, lost in each other. Wherever else they had to be, whatever commitments of time they had made elsewhere were forgotten. All that mattered was each other, and Chloe and Oliver took that particular commitment very, very seriously.
"I can't believe they're late." Lois turned, stomping her foot on the hard, frozen ground. A.C. shrugged and reached out to pull her ponytail. "All of them." New Year's Day was clear, bright and cold, and the anger Lois had felt earlier had subsided a little. A.C. had tracked her down and with careful taunting, had made Lois smile. The romantic part of their relationship was long over, and a strong friendship had been the result.
"Just relax, Lois." He tossed the football to her lightly. "Bart will be here soon, and there's Clark and Diana, now." Lois groaned. "Oh...don't like Clark's girlfriend, huh?" A.C. laughed. "I met her at breakfast. She seems nice."
"It's not HER." Lois said, tossing the ball back to him. "It's him. Clark is such a smoosh and with Diana, he's impossible."
"I didn't notice that." A.C. caught the ball and sent it back to Lois. "It's been awhile since I've been around you guys, but Clark seems the same." He grinned. "It's you that's different."
"Oh, right." Lois caught the ball and held it. "We've been emailing back and forth for months, how can you say that?"
"Because it's true - you're different. Hey, here comes your cousin. That's Oliver Queen, huh?" A.C. walked up closer to Lois and nodded. "You dated him, too, right?"
"Shut up, A.C." Lois punched his arm. "Only for a little while. And, he and Chloe are in love." She hugged the football and smiled at the couple's radiant glow. "They're happy. And it would have never happened if not for me." She smiled at him and A.C. shrugged, glad his nonchalance made Lois grin wider. Their friendship would always be a competition in arrogance that only they understood.
"Whatever. Toss the ball, Lois." A.C. clapped his hands. Lois simpered, throwing the ball. It sailed over A.C.'s shoulder, right into Bruce's hands. A.C. turned and nodded. "Nice. I suppose that's the guy you're seeing."
"Kind of." Lois nodded, patting A.C. on the shoulder to walk to Bruce. "Aren't you going to play football?" She called to Bruce, and he smiled, holding out a free hand to her.
"No." Bruce shook his head, throwing the ball to Clark who was walking over with Oliver. "Just watching." He squeezed her hand. "I didn't hear from you this morning."
"Oh, sorry, breakfast with Dad, catching up with A.C." Lois frowned. "You okay? Not mad about that are you?"
"I'm fine, just a lot on my mind. And no, not mad about you having a life." Bruce replied. He nodded at Clark and Oliver. "I'm out, guys, sidelined."
Clark and Oliver looked at each other, their expressions equally hard to read. Lois frowned and squeezed Bruce's hand. "I'm going to say hi to Chloe."
"Okay." Bruce nodded. He turned back to Oliver and Clark. Both of them were studying Bruce intently, and Bruce couldn't be sure but it seemed like Clark was looking through him.
"What happened?" Clark asked, his face set. "I would have patrolled last night. Doesn't look like anything is broken..."
"It's not a big deal." Bruce dismissed Clark's concern with a scowl. "More trying to get my game on for tomorrow. I should have stayed back at the hotel, but I didn't want to miss out on this." He took a deep breath. "Great day to be outside, though."
"Yeah." Oliver nodded. "That's all it is, Bruce?" He turned, hearing footsteps and waved to Diana. "Bruce is out of the game."
"Oh." Diana looked at Bruce with the same puzzled concern as Clark and Oliver had just a moment before. "Are you unwell?"
"No." Bruce shook his head. "Just tired. You all play. I'll keep score."
"Keep score?" Oliver asked. "You sure you're okay?"
"Yes." Bruce said. "If I feel up to it, I'll take over for you in the second half." They all started walking toward the other little group, A.C., Lois, Chloe and Bart.
"Fair enough." Clark nodded. "Bruce, Oliver, I'd like you to meet Arthur Curry and Bart West. Arthur, Bart, this is Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen." Clark made the introductions and then turned to Diana. "And this, gentlemen, is Diana Prince."
"I hope I'm playing on her team." Bart said in a hush, and Chloe kicked him. "What? You haven't been waiting for me, gorgeous. Found yourself a tall trust fund baby, and broke my heart" Chloe stepped on Bart's foot, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, and he yelped. "Try that when I'm paying attention, next time, babycakes and you'll miss me by a mile..."
"Right, hotshot." Chloe laughed and Bart blushed as Diana's regal gaze paused on him before meeting Arthur's grey eyes and flashed with a recognition of a peer.
A.C. bowed formally, and Diana smiled. "It is a privilege to meet you, Diana."
"And you, Arthur." Diana's blue eyes slid to Bart again. "You, Bart…You want to play on my team?" Her eyes were wide and her tone gentle and slightly teasing. "I hope you can teach me…"
"Teach you?" Bart gasped, pushing his way to Diana to take her hand. "I'd be…" He pulled his hand away. "You've got a grip for a girl, don't you?"
"Yes." She smiled. "For a girl…" She rolled her eyes at Clark. "You'll find I'm full of surprises."
Bart grinned. "Oh, you can surprise me anytime…" Diana's eyes widened and she laughed.
"So, are we playing?" Lois clapped her hands. "Let's get going…it's too cold to stand here talking."
"Okay, Oliver, A.C. and me, against Lois, Chloe, Diana and Bart." Clark nodded, tossing the ball to Lois, whose eyes narrowed dangerously at him. "Girls start."
Bruce walked to a bench and sat down. It was cold and the afternoon sun was winter bright, but thin, as if clouds hovered along the edge of the sky waiting to obscure the light. An old man was feeding pigeons a bit further down the bench and Bruce nodded politely and turned to the game.
"What you hope to build will not be easy." A voice from the old man's direction said, and Bruce turned. In the place of the elderly gentleman was a tall, dark skinned man in a long leather trench coat. "You and Oliver Queen seem to understand each other, but you will see his ideas are very different from yours."
"You think so?" Bruce turned to his newly arrived companion. "I don't agree, J'honnz. I think Oliver will be a strong addition to the team."
"Yes, he will. In time. For the moment, he will not wish to be overly committed." J'honn J'honnz said thoughtfully, watching Oliver pick Chloe up and swing her around, trying to make her drop the ball. "The Kryptonian and the Amazon will be your strongest supporters." Clark and Diana stood to the side of the field, as Clark explained the finer points of the game to Diana. He even smiled a bit as Bart got the ball away from Oliver to run just slightly faster to score a goal, earning himself a hug from Lois.
"I'm counting on that." Bruce nodded. "And, what about the new comers?"
"The Atlantean Prince will be more difficult to pin down than Oliver Queen, and the boy, the one who is faster than light? You will find him to be a willing ally. There are others, but only two will be open to the governance of this endeavor." J'honnz rubbed his chin. "Goodbye, Bruce Wayne. When you see me again, it will be on Oliver Queen's side of the table."
"Understood." Bruce nodded, and when he looked back, J'honnz was gone.
Oliver and Chloe had walked back to the apartment, hand in hand, as the sun slipped down low in the horizon, bathing the Metropolis skyline in shades of winter rose and gold against the changing sunset sky. The stars had not yet begun to shine, but a bright sliver of moon hung in the indigo sky to the east. The streets of the city were full of people and the electricity of the holiday season was just about gone from the air. Now, standing on the balcony, watching the sky change, it seemed that the whole world was waiting, even as the new year had already started, for the business of regular life to begin again.
"What did you think of A.C. and Bart?" Chloe asked Oliver as he came up behind her and wrapped his long arms around her. The air was cold, but the sliding doors to the apartment were open, and it was enough to keep warm in while the stars began to emerge in the sky.
"I think Bart's traded a crush on you for one on Diana." Oliver said, resting his chin on the top of Chloe's head. "And, I think that A.C. is a nice guy." Oliver kissed the top of her head. "Hopefully Victor Stone shows up tomorrow. We need to start making plans."
"I guess that's a start." Chloe laughed. "Speaking of starts, school tomorrow." She frowned and Oliver hugged her tighter. "Back to reality."
"Yeah." Oliver sighed, turning Chloe around to look down into her face. He reached up and pushed the hair from her eyes. "Reality is nice. I'm liking this reality right here. As long as my reality has you in it, I'm happy."
"Me too." Chloe rested her cheek against the palm of Oliver's hand and smiled.
"Keep me suspended in time with you
Don't let this moment dieI get a feeling when I'm with you
None of the rules apply
But I know for certain
Goodbye is a crime
So love if you need me
Suspend me in time…"
Suspended In Time – Olivia Newton-John