Nights in Star City
Pairing: Chloe/Oliver, Chloe/Bruce
Summary: Chloe finds a sudden attraction for someone returning to her life and an awakening emotion for someone who had always been around.
"Tell me Bruce Wayne isn't this lucky!"
Chloe placed her wine glass down and turned around to see the lopsided smirk of a familiar face. Her face broke into a warm smile that crinkled the corners of her eyes. "Oliver Queen," she exclaimed. "And I thought you were lost at sea."
He shook his head with a smile. "I guess surviving in deserted islands was part of the Excelsior curriculum."
She nodded. "That's a good point. Who would have thought silver spoon young men like you and Lex could come back. And you look so well."
Oliver moved forward and when Chloe expected a handshake, he suddenly opened his arms and embraced her. "I'm glad to see you again, Chloe."
She returned the embrace by tightening her arms around him even more. "I'm so happy to see you, Ollie!" She closed her eyes at the wonderful scent that assailed her senses. There was nothing in the world that compared to the fragrance of rich perfume that she was pretty sure was plain old Oliver Queen.
When they pulled apart, Oliver asked, "What are you doing here? The last I heard you were living it high on Lex Luthor's payroll."
Chloe shrugged. "We had different visions of where the company should be going." He smirked. "I wanted to not have any lab testing casualties under LexCorp's name."
"And he had no such reservations," he continued for her.
"You've never been Lex's fan," Chloe pointed out.
"How's dear old Lois?"
"Fine," Chloe answered quickly. "She's fine. Married Clark a few years into her journalism career at the Daily Planet." She suddenly found her fingernails fascinating.
Oliver's hand covered hers and his voice rumbled in his chest. "I'm sorry."
"You didn't know?" she inquired breathlessly, oddly unsettled at the sensation his warm hand drew.
"I knew. And I'm sorry, Chloe."
She shook her head free of the rapidly descending cloud that hovered above her. Chloe flashed a confident smile and said, "So what brings you here to Gotham City?"
He started to speak, then closed his mouth. Oliver's lips curved into a secretive smile. "Let me make it more interesting for you. I know how much you love mysteries." The words brought a smile to her lips. "I'm giving you exactly two hours to find out. By the end of this party, you have to tell me why I'm here."
"Is Oliver Queen actually proposing a bet?"
"Why not?" was his easy answer.
"Is it going to be worth my while?"
"If I win, you'll have to take me out for coffee."
She nodded. "That sounds workable. And what will you do if I win? I should warn you, I most likely will."
"Coffee," he smirked.
Chloe snorted. "This from a billionaire. Bruce at least offers dinner when he's wrong."
"In Italy," he added.
"Imagine having a cup of espresso at the bottom of the steps in Piazza di Spagna. Wouldn't that be worth your while?" he tempted.
With a determined look on her face, Chloe excused herself and searched for the one man in the room whom she was certain knew why Oliver Queen, billionaire, was in this charity ball. An espresso at the bottom of the Soanish steps in Rome was hers for the taking. She was not going to let Oliver Queen win on any type of bet.
"Bruce!" she called. The dark haired man leaned forward to listen to the lady in the red dress who was tiptoeing to whisper something in his ear. From a distance she saw Bruce grin like a cat, then nod. The two walked away from Chloe. She turned around and saw Oliver waving his fingers at her, then miming the act of sipping from a coffee cup. Her eyes narrowed. Chloe burst into a casual run to catch Bruce. "Bruce," she gasped.
Finally, Bruce turned around and raised an eyebrow. "Chloe Sullivan, may I help you?"
"Bruce, really… Are you going to do business when we've got another meeting to attend to?" drawled the redhead on his arm.
Bruce's eyes narrowed at Chloe, and she had been working with him long enough to know that he did not appreciate the disruption. "Whatever it is, Chloe, I'm sure it can wait until Monday." He glanced towards the bar. Bruce stepped away from the redhead and took Chloe aside. "But just to keep you busy, I want you to monitor who the CEO of Queen interacts with tonight. I want to know who to go after in case my deal with him leaks."
"What are you working on?" she asked breathlessly.
"A mutually advantageous relationship," he informed her. "Drake Medical is not going to get to Star City before Wayne Pharma does."
Her heart sank at Bruce's words. The way that Oliver set it up made it so intriguing. How disappointing that the truth was nothing but an effort to push the smallest division of Wayne Enterprises into Oliver's domain.
"Bruce, are you going to take longer?" the redhead said in singsong. "You know Lex never let me wait this long."
Chloe's jaw dropped at the insinuation. Still openmouthed and laughing silently, she looked at Bruce's face transform. To rub salt in the wound, she added, "Yet it seems Luthor Chem did get elsewhere before Wayne Phrama did."
"Shut up," Bruce whispered. He turned to the redhead and said, "Ivy, I'm sorry. Chloe's made me realize that I have more work to do."
"Not really, Br—"
Bruce caught Chloe's arm and stiffly walked her away from Ivy. "Don't make this worse and I will pay your rent for three months."
She chuckled. "You already do, Bruce, or do I need to remind you all of the terms of the employment contract that took me from LexCorp and to you?"
"I'm starting to reconsider all that," he grumbled.
"Poor Bruce," she laughed, patting his upper arm. "Am I making life too difficult for you?"
He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Just hang around Queen and make your employment worth the ridiculous amount you're getting."
"And what do you propose I do—tie him down?"
Bruce closed his eyes tightly. "That's a nasty image. Just be grateful you're Clark's friend or I would have fired you for making such inappropriate remarks."
"You wouldn't dare," she parried.
"Take him out for coffee or dinner. Talk to him until his ears bleed," he suggested. "You're good at that."
"Fine," Chloe decided. "But I'm using my expense account."
Just then, Oliver Queen strolled towards them with two glasses of wine. He handed one to Chloe and then turned to Bruce. "I only have two hands," he said as an excuse for not giving any to Bruce.
"Hello Oliver," Chloe greeted. "Care to have a cup of coffee?"
Oliver grinned. "In Rome?"
She opened her bag and flashed a black credit card that had in very small text the name WAYNE. "Why not?"
Bruce massaged the bridge of his nose. "Chloe…"
"I'm very interested in coffee in Rome. Do you have something to tell me?" Oliver inquired, extending his arm towards her.
Chloe placed her hand on his arm. "I have half the answer," she told him. "You can fill me in on the rest."
The moment they rounded the corridor, Chloe tugged at his arm to stop him.
"Alright. This is far enough," she told him.
"Had enough fun with Bruce?" he inquired.
"Not nearly," she answered. "But I'll take care of that in my own time. I don't want to keep you. You probably have much better things to do."
"Like what?" he fished.
"Bruce wants to monopolize Star City with his pharma company, doesn't he?"
He nodded and smiled in appreciation. "Well your reporter instincts are still there. But all you've told me is the reason Bruce could possibly want to hound me. Have you found out why I'm here? There should be something in it for me, shouldn't there?"
"Come on, Oliver, you know you want to tell me," she teased.
Oliver chuckled and met her eyes. "I really don't," he told her.
"Fine," Chloe huffed.
"You owe me coffee." Chloe rolled her eyes. She stalked away from him. "Are you running out on me?"
"I'm getting my coat," she threw back. "I suggest you get yours too because we are walking to the café I like a couple of blocks away, and we're walking there."