Title: Phantom of the Watchtower
Prompt: Picture by ellashy
Word Count: 1,393
Summary: She wishes she still had her healing ability because she wants nothing more than to take this hurt from him…
Phantom of the Watchtower
She's scared. She's never seen him this broken and she doesn't know how she's supposed to make it better. One minute everything was fine; everything was as it was meant to be. Dinner. They were going to have dinner. She called to let him know she was coming but when she gets there, he's a mess. The previously made-up table, with its candles and dinner plates is turned on its side. Food smudges the hardwoods, forgotten and flattened beneath tossed furniture. She's standing in the middle of it, trying not to get anything on her new heels; more because she's worried she might just take a face-dive into the previously tasty-looking casserole he'd made from her recipe.
Their apartment is a wreck; it's not just the dining room she realizes. He's destroyed everything, from the floor to the ceiling. And he's sitting in the middle of it, back against the wall, knees drawn up, face hung between them.
Four years they've been together, seven they've known each other, and she's never seen him this destroyed. She'd seen him drink himself into a stupor, throw away the doo-identity and trade it in for the sloshed and distant billionaire façade. But his knuckles are bruised, bleeding, and his skin is mottled as if in rage and pain. His shoulders are shaking but there are no tears, no anguished sobs. Gone is the man she knew; the man who faced anything that came his way and fixed it, whatever it might take.
She kneels next to him, turns her head in question. "Ollie?" She waits but gets no answer. "Oliver, what's wrong?"
Helpless. She feels like there's nothing she can do. He won't answer, won't even raise his head to look at her. She touches his hair, rubs down his neck soothingly but gets no reaction. Her eyes blur with tears, now she's really worried. What could've happened? Was it the team? Was one of them hurt? Dead? She hyperventilates, her chest aching; was it Bart? Victor? AC? Dinah? All of them? She tries to remember where each of them were; what they were doing. Was it a mission gone wrong? Was it a fatal error or a planned attack?
He sighs, takes in a heavy, shaky breath and rubs his face. And then he's standing and she rises with him. He won't look at her though; won't acknowledge that she's even there.
"Look, I can't help you if I don't know what's going on… I'm good, but I can't read minds."
Not even a smile. He walks across the room, kicks debris out from beneath his feet and doesn't even seem to care.
"Love what you did with the place," she mutters, frowning. "Very feng shui. The chi is amazing!"
She feels bad for her snark when he pinches the bridge of his nose, pauses at her desk and just stands there, shoulders hunched. She hurries to him then, wraps her arms around his waist and lays her head against his back. "Whatever it is… I got you, all right?" It's all she can do; all she can say. She wishes there was more; she wishes she still had her healing ability because she wants nothing more than to take this hurt from him.
His hand presses to his chest, as if his heart aches and she slides her own up to cover his.
She can't stand the silence; she wishes he would talk or yell or anything. In the four years of their relationship, he's never been called quiet. Even in the dead of night, sleeping, he snored loud enough to wake her sometimes. Often, she fell asleep to his voice; whether he was arguing on the phone to some business associate halfway across the country or sharing details on the latest mission with her and she was just too tired to stay up. His voice was calming; it could get her through just about anything. She woke to his sleep-roughened voice teasing her, she softened to his gently murmured words, she strengthened to his speeches.
She wants to force him to sit down, to spill what it is that's got him so hurt. But then he's turning away, sitting on the bench just beneath the steel staircase, elbows on his knees, eyes surveying the mess before him. His expression is solemn then, as if he's shutting down, going inside himself.
"No," she argues, wrapping her arm around his shoulder as she sits down next to him, squeezing wanting to shake him. "Talk to me… Just… Just don't do this to yourself… Please…" She's not sure he can handle another fall from grace and she knows where this is leading; the drinking, the gambling, the loss of self. She can't and won't let that happen to him; not again. He's too good for that, he doesn't deserve that. "Whatever it is… we can work it out. We can fix this…" She stares at him, sees no change in his expression; only the desperate loss in his eyes that sheen, tears at bay, locked away. "Come on, Ollie… Aren't you the one who said love will save us all? Hm?" She stares searchingly, feeling her own heart break a little. "Fine… Be that way… I'll love you enough for both of us and when this is done and over with, you can thank me a second time for saving your leathered butt." Not even a crack of a smile and her shoulders slump, a sigh escaping her. "Ollie?" she whispers.
"You promised," he murmurs, his voice hoarse, shattered.
Her brow furrows.
And then, like a hammer to the solar-plexus, she remembers.
She was driving; she just got off the phone with him. "Dinner is ready, Sidekick, and your seat is empty."
She laughed. "I'm on my way, Romeo. Keep my seat open, huh?"
"As if anybody else could ever replace you."
She smirked. "Keep that in mind. You ever get out of line and you'll remember why it is we're stuck it out this long."
"Besides the mind-blowing sex and heroics on the side?" he joked.
"Mm, those are some pretty big factors into us, aren't they? You better buy stock in Viagra when old age comes knocking."
He laughed. "With you around, I won't need it."
Grinning, she rolled her eyes. "Okay, I'll be home in a half-hour, tops."
"I'm holding you to that… If you're late, there will be repercussions…"
She bit her lip at the promising heat of his words. "Looking forward to it."
"I'm watching the clock… Hurry up."
"Yeah, yeah. I love you and I'll see you soon."
"Love you, too. Bye."
It wasn't five minutes later when she saw the headlights; when a car swerved too late, hit her so hard it jarred her bones. And then it was a red haze, a blur of lights and voices and fading heartbeats. She remembers staring at the roof of the ambulance, thinking of him, at home, waiting for her. The casserole would be going cold and he'd be getting anxious; maybe even pacing. He would call… As if he'd heard her, her cell phone rang shrilly in the background, ignored by paramedics. A man was hovering over her, trying to talk to her.
"I promised," she coughed, shaking her head and trying to breathe.
But it was pointless, there was no use. The light faded, the heartbeat stopped, the voices were gone and so was she.
And then she was here, in her home, seeing it in disarray as her husband, the love of her life, sat in a broken fragment of himself.
"You promised…" He swallows tightly. "You promised you wouldn't leave me…"
Chloe's heart skips a beat, aches in her ghostly chest. "I haven't…" she tells him, wishing desperately he could hear her. With tears glittering in her eyes, she lays her chin on his shoulder, stares at him and whispers, "I won't." It's all she can do, all she can offer, and she wishes it was enough, all the while knowing that she may be dead but her heart is alive and breaking, along with the man who revived it. She supposes spending an afterlife with him will have to do; even if he doesn't know she's there, she'll still be doing her duty. Chloe Queen, Phantom of the Watchtower, keeping her promises even after death.