Author's note: Okay, so Lois doesn't know Oliver's secret... I think that's it... enjoy!
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Oliver stepped out of the plane and studied the Metropolis skyline. It looked the same but he'd heard rumours, rumours he didn't want to believe, couldn't believe.
Flipping open his phone, he dialled a number he hadn't used in many years. But the person that picked up was not who he had expected.
"Oliver! What a nice surprise!" Martha sounded the same, a little more tired but happy to hear his voice.
"Thank you, Mrs. Kent. Glad to know that I still have friends here."
"Actually, it's Luthor, now, Oliver, Martha Luthor." There was a pause then, "How are you? Wow, you've been gone what now? Seven years?"
"I'm doing well, Martha... Luthor? As in Lionel Luthor?"
She laughed again. "Well, I certainly didn't marry Lex. Lionel and I got married four years ago." Her voice changed, became a little more guarded. "But then, you've missed so much."
"What do you mean?" he asked easily. Inside, his stomach twisted in knots. There was no way they were true, was there?
"Well, Clark's been gone five years. He left to go find the remains of Kryptonite." Her voice got a little teary. "I don't even know if he's okay."
"I'm sure he's fine," he reassured. "Clark's a very competent guy. And Chloe and Lois?" His voice caught and he cleared his throat, well aware that it gave him away. "How are they?"
"Oh, well, they're doing fine." She sounded bright and fake. "Happy..."
"What is it Martha?"
"Well... well, Lois married Lex."
He blinked. And then he blinked again. Lois? Married Lex? "As in Lex Luthor? When? How? Why?"
"After Clark left her, she was devastated. And then, typical Lois, she was enraged. And then she wrote an article. Hang on. I have it here somewhere." She put down the phone and disappeared for a few long moments, leaving him reeling alone. She came back and picked up the phone. "She put all her
energy into it and it finally paid off. It ran on the front page of the Daily Planet then was syndicated around the world, winning her a Pulitzer."
"Sure, yeah, of course." He was still shell shocked. "What was it about?"
"Why the World Doesn't Need Superman."
"Wait, Martha, what does all this have to do with Lex?" His hand tightened and he started across the tarmac to the waiting car.
"After Clark left, she was broken, Oliver, we all were. They were together for two years and then he just disappeared. Didn't leave her any answers. After he left, it seemed like Lex was just waiting for his chance and eventually she gave in to his gifts and his phone calls and it all just kind of went from there..."
"And Chloe?" He got in the car, starting the engine. It didn't seem like the peppy reporter would allow her cousin to just go off and marry that monster. She knew what he was capable of.
Another pause. "Well, Lois seemed very set on forgetting Clark and moving on and Lex seemed to be the very thing to do that. Chloe refused to leave Lois, so despite her suspicion of him and his trying to get rid of her, she stayed. So, she's now under Lex's watchful eye as well. I'd be careful before going to see her. Either girl."
"Thanks for the warning, Mrs. Kent... ah, Luthor, but I've been running for far too long. It's time I faced Lex."
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Oliver stepped towards the almost skeletal form trying to light a cigarette. "Lois?"
She almost dropped the lighter. "Who the hell are you and what the hell do you want?" she snarled, peering into the shadows.
He stepped fully into the light, taking the lighter from her hand, and lit her cigarette for her. "I thought I was a little more memorable than that, Lo." He turned the lighter over in his hands and the engraved LL shone silver in the moonlight. He flinched, handing it back to Lois willingly.
She took a long drag and blew the smoke in his direction. "Oliver Queen. Wish I could say it was nice to see you again but..." She waved her hand in a 'whatever' way and brought the cigarette back to her surgery-plumped lips. She was impossibly thin, her clothes hanging limply off her body. Her skin was sallow, her eyes vacant and haunted.
"Lex Luthor, Lois?" His voice was tight as he tried to keep emotion out of it. "You went and married Lex Luthor?"
She stared at him with hard and empty eyes. "Well, what was I supposed to do? Clark abandoned me, Chloe couldn't help me. Who else was left?"
"You could have called me." Even as he said it, he regretted it, knowing she would just throw it back in his face. He knew how ridiculous it was. She wouldn't have been able to reach him even if she wanted to.
"What would you have done? Rode in on your white steed to save me?" she spat back. "You're no hero, Oliver. Remember? You left me. I didn't have a choice."
"You always have a choice," he exploded. "There's always a choice, Lois. And maybe it isn't always an easy choice but it's your choice to make!" He took a step back from her, disgusted. "What the hell happened to you? Where's the strong, independent, fearless, amazing woman I was in love with?"
Her lips curled into a snarl. "You left her here to suffocate, Queen. And what the hell are you doing here anyway? Back to save Metropolis from big bad Lex and his evil cronies? Well, it's too late. You're too late. Seven years too late." She turned away then spun back to him. "Where the fuck have you been anyway?" She got right in his face.
His eyes darkened and he shook his head. "I can't tell you that."
"Then what the hell are you doing here?" she sneered at him. "Get away from me."
He reached out to her, his handsome face lined with equal parts pain and concern. "Please, Lois. Let me help you."
She flinched away. "I'll scream. Lex's security team will be here in thirty seconds. They're never very far." She stood tall, glaring at him with open hatred now. "You never should have come back, Oliver Queen."
He clenched his jaw, not knowing what to do. He wanted to take her away, to throw her over his shoulder – she wouldn't come easy – and just take off. But where would he take her? He didn't love her anymore, not like he did all those years ago. She was a friend, nothing more, but nothing less though. He couldn't just leave her here. But she didn't want to go. She had resigned herself to her fate. To a life of lies, full of anger, full of fear, drugs to cover it up and alcohol to wipe the memories from her mind. He turned to walk away, one of the hardest things he'd ever done.
"Things are never the way you remember them," she called after him. "Never as good."
He strode away, determined to do something.
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He straightened his tie and looked in the mirror. The invitation had arrived in his newly reopened office's mailbox that morning. One day after he got into town and he was being invited to the Luthor mansion for a party. Lois must have called Lex as soon as he'd left her.
He glanced around the hotel suite. He wished he could go back to the Queen Tower but Chloe was there.
He wished he could contact her but when he'd walked by, he'd noticed the two hulking plain clothed, obviously armed, bodyguards Lex had hired to follow Chloe around. She was never alone. She had gotten a message to him through Martha though. A short, hand-written note.
Glad to have you back. Town could use a good cleaning. I'll be seeing you soon, I think. All things still here ready to go. Let me know.
It had obviously been a big risk. When Martha had slipped it into his hand during a lunch dinner, her hand had been shaking and her face white. She was afraid of Lex. But he didn't think Chloe was. She never had been and there was no reason for it to change. He was obviously still wary of the small blond if he had put the two ex-marines on her to watch her. Keep people away but probably also to keep an eye on her. He remembered the last time he'd seen Chloe.
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She was looking out at the city when he dropped down beside her noiselessly.
"So I hear."
He smiled. "Got a new member."
"Yeah, she seems, uh, nice?"
"Bit rough around the edges but she'll fit right in."
She turned around leaning back against the cement barrier to study him, arms crossed over her chest. "So, off on another big adventure of righting wrongs and punishing the wicked?"
He shrugged. "Thinking of travelling, actually. Seeing how the other half lives. Got a call from an old friend."
"Maybe. Listen, I need you to do a couple things for me."
Her mouth twisted in an ironic smile. "Of course. What's a couple favours between secret friends?"
"Take care of Lois for me. And move into Queen Towers."
"The first's a given, Ollie. The second? Why?" She stared at him, perplexed. "I don't get it."
"It needs a good tenant. It's all paid up and the safest place I know. And I just have this feeling that you're going to need it." He walked over and leaned on the barrier. "I'm scared," he admitted.
"Whether everything's going to turn out. Everything's upside down."
"She really does love you, Oliver..." she said quietly, staring into space.
A cold wind drifting across his bare arms and made him shiver. He needed to move but at the moment he needed to talk to Chloe more. "I know. But it's not enough, is it? It really isn't true then. Love can't conquer all."
She shrugged. "How should I know? I'm hardly the poster girl for working relationships."
He turned to study her profile, glad for the safety of the dark glasses. "You accepted Clark. And me and the Justice League."
"I'm not dating Clark," she replied gently. "He's not mine to share. None of you were mine. And it was hard at first. Don't be so hard on yourself. Relationships are hard. They're always hard. They wouldn't be good if they weren't." Her eyes darkened, pain clouding in.
He frowned. "You'll find someone. Someone who'll be able to treat you the way you deserve."
"Yeah." She laughed without a trace of mirth and pulled her jacket tighter. "You better get out of here, Archer. Leather's not so insulated, or so I hear."
"Neither is suede. You take care, Watchtower." He took two steps towards her and pulled her into a hard hug, kissing her forehead before climbing up onto the barrier.
"You too, Ollie." She watched him zipline off into the night and sighed, turning back to the roof exit.
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She had moved into Queen Towers. He was glad of that. At least she was safe. But he had to talk to her. Had to reconnect with her. But he didn't know how without Lex finding out. No doubt he had 24 hour surveillance on her, bugs in her phone, in her office, maybe even Queen Towers. Who was to know how far Lex had sunk into delusion and power.
He needed a plan. And he needed it fast.