AN: This one is dedicated to two groups of people (1) for the mainstays of the Ksite Chlollie thread—fantastic, interesting, devoted girls. I may not be able to interact with them because the forum is faster than me and I'm on a different timezone, but I read and am energized by their Chlollie spirit and (2) for the amazing writers of the Chlollie lovefest fics whose stories kept me wonderfully entertained the last couple of days. If I were younger and had more time I would write fanfics as long as my Chlex ones once upon a time. As it is, these are stolen moments when I should really be sleeping. You guys make me wish that I were still my younger self who could actually contribute to this epic fandom.

The Ghost

Oliver was never more tired than he was when he crawled into bed that night, fully clothed in his suit and tie. He barely had time to shuck off the leather shoes before he was face first into the pillow, his body settling into the silk comforter while his muscles groaned.

His body hurt; his brain worked. Even as he forced his mind to slow down it would not, and it was only from pure exhaustion that he managed to sleep.

It was the middle of the night when his eyes slid open. It was not time to wake up. He was half-asleep still but he was called awake by silence, by stillness—by something. Oliver felt the movement, smelled it before he saw it. The dark silhouette moved at the foot of the bed and he held his breath, waiting. The silhouette glided it seemed, so quietly did it move. Oliver watched intently. Since he revealed his identity there were attempts to invade his private life, the human part of him that he had always been able to protect. But when every soul in the world knew that Green Arrow was the man asleep in Oliver Queen's bed, there were no boundaries.

The stranger walked up to the shelves, and Oliver lay in wait, needing to see what it was the intruder wanted. He gritted his teeth in an effort to keep still when black leather gloves trailed down the edge of a framed photograph of his parents.

And then the intruder came upon a photograph he kept, worn from too much touching, placed right on the shelf without a frame for the portability advantage. It was a simple thing, taken as some amusing prank—not even a prank. She had called it a time killer, but weeks later he found the photo still in her phone. Months later after she was gone and he finally had the courage to boot up her computer and accessed her personal files the photo was still saved in one of her most easily accessible folders.

He had been asleep, his lips parted just a little bit. Oliver bet he was snoring, but there she was red-faced with mirth forever captured on the digital film, holding back laughter as she snapped a picture of her kissing his slack jaw.

The bed had been rumpled, the pillow out of place, and her bare shoulders contrasted with his as she rested her lips just there.

She appeared fresh and lovely, energetic at that unholy hour while he was caught sleeping with an open mouth, like a drunken lout who tired after the first time. But she had kept the picture and laughed at his image, and it was one of the few where it all seemed uncomplicated. Chloe Sullivan, failed journalist, in bed with Oliver Queen after his night of partying. Only no one else would know that that was how home was like for Watchtower and Green Arrow.

Nothing in that photograph ever indicated that a month later they would sightlessly bump into each other when she figured out that his life was worth more than hers would ever be.

Chloe Sullivan for Oliver Queen.

She failed her first year in a small career and he was a billionaire that funded dozens of charities.

Her marriage failed while he was adored by hundreds of women.

Chloe Sullivan for Oliver Queen made sense for a trade.

But she was Watchtower and he was only one of many who would follow her blindly into hell. That was one thing she discounted. She was the voice in his ear that made him jump when all he saw was pitch blackness, and for his trust in her he took her word as law. She was reason there was light in the deepest recesses of hell. She was the reason stubborn heroes from the world over gathered at one voiceless signal.

Watchtower for the Green Arrow made little sense to him.

Now she had erased it all and left him nothing. She erased herself and, for all intents and purposes, erased him for her life.

The intruder straightened and turned, and Oliver caught a glimpse of the empty shelf. But her hard drive had self-destructed minutes after his access, and he was damned if he was going to lose the last thing he saved, the last item he caught before everything was gone. He was keeping the picture, silly and stupid and candid as it was. It cost more than a company, or a plane, or even the bastard's life. He flew from his bed, barefoot and suited, then turned the intruder. The intruder slammed back against the wall, gasping in surprise.

Oliver found himself looking down at wide green eyes. His elbow had been jammed into her throat. Slowly, he lowered his arm.

"Chloe."

The black gloved fingers parted and the worn photograph flew gently down to the carpet. "Ollie."

An explosion of a thousand questions burst into his brain. His mind furiously sorted through them. His lips parted to ask the first, but then it did not matter because all he could do was take her jaw in his hands. His brows furrowed, and his throat closed so much it hurt to breathe. He lowered her mouth over hers and his lips moved, taking and drinking and he breathed. He heard the tiny sound in her throat when she rose up to meet him and pressed her body tightly against his. One of her hands buried in his hair while the other grasped his arm tight, her fingers buried in his coat.

Where were you? He thought to himself, but instead his thumb brushed behind her ear.

Why? He wanted to ask her. Instead his lips trailed down her throat to end in the hollow at its base.

"Oliver, I missed you so much," he heard her say as his nose buried in the warmth between her breasts. "I—I need you to know—"

"I love you," he gasped, pushing the dark hooded sweater off her body. "More than you'd ever know."

"I love you too," she insisted. And this time she took his chin in her hand and forced him to look. And he was grateful, because he had heard the words through the radio and read her profession in a cold piece of paper, even heard it when Tess read it to him. But he had never experienced—truly experienced—the admission from Chloe.

"You could have fooled me," he whispered, and even as he said the words he wondered how stupid it sounded that he would say it to the woman who had sacrificed herself on a cold, damp night to animals that brought him down. There was a flicker of hurt in her eyes. "Almost seemed like you loved Green Arrow more than me."

"What?" and she asked it more in disbelief than an actual question, because he knew with a beat more or two she would understand. And she did. "You're both the myth and the man, and I fell in love with you." She pulled him by the hand, towards the bed and pushed him down to sit. Belatedly she glanced at the watch on the table, then looked back down at him. "Remember that when you ask yourself that question again. Because right now I'm here to tell you it was stupid of you to come out and reveal yourself to the world."

"But it worked," he told her. And he pushed off the sweater and allowed it to fall to the floor. His fingers rushed to peel off the pants that covered her from him. "You're here now."

"I just needed to know that you were alright," she told him. "Ollie, the Suicide Squad will come after you in full force, and now you have nothing to hide behind. I'm here—"

He took her hands and pulled her against him. "Then it worked," he told her again, confident that somehow the foolish decision fixed it all. "You never have to hide again." And then, he confessed, "They all think we can protect the world better when we're in the shadows. But I didn't care. I did this for you."

Chloe bit her lips, and she closed her eyes. And then, very carefully, she took off his jacket and, like she had done many nights before that one, such a simple chore, she undid his tie and pulled it off for him. Slowly she peeled off her gloves, then undid the buttons of his shirt. He sat before her bare-chested and Chloe intently ran her fingers down the muscled contours of his chest, trailing down her arm until she stopped just above his wrist.

"There's something on you," she said worriedly. "I knew it."

But he took her lips with his and whispered, "You."

"Oliver, I'm serious. We have to take care of it."

"Tomorrow," he promised her. Because she had been lost to him too long and this was the day she came home. He had to believe, just needed to believe, "It was worth it." No matter what came after, no matter the consequences.

She looked into his eyes, and he was not ashamed to leave himself bare—no curtains, no pretense—for her. He did the same when he let her see his soul after Victoria, did it when he gave her a peek inside of him right before the kiss that changed his world. Perhaps it was that which convinced her, because afterwards she nodded like the decision was made. He felt her hands move to his pants and work to free him for her, and her hands were warm and familiar, and Oliver thanked whatever foolish decision it was that led him to the shithole of being seen as his private self and a vigilante—a hero and a villain both to so many different people. It was a duality he would face now that she was with him.

Whatever tomorrow brought would change nothing of the fact that when she suspected he would be hurt or in trouble, she had come out of wherever she was to see him—if only to watch him sleep. Good God, he would trade so much more than his identity to give her the luxury of watching him sleep until the day he died.

She half lay in his bed when he joined her, held fast to the small of his back and then grabbed onto his shoulders. He heard her gasps, the muttered prayer, when he thrust inside her. Their hands entwined when he held her down and her fingers closed over his, and he took it to mean surrender. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and breathed her until he swore her scent was seared in his brain. When he came inside her over and over she bit her lower lip and he thought he saw a tear. It was alright. He knew once or twice he'd shed in gratitude. He slept with his arms wrapped tight around her like he would never let her go.

"We should have breakfast with Lois and Clark," he murmured into her sweaty hair as their bodies cooled. They missed her. They worried for her. "But I think we should stay in for a little while. I want to be selfish."

"I'm selfish too," she answered, and he smiled. They deserved some selfishness sometimes. "I don't want to lose you."

"Never," he promised her, closed his eyes with his mouth pressed against her nape. There was no reason, not after tonight. And after that his sleep was deep and restful.

He woke looking forward to breakfast, to her, to a day that was going to be a thousand times better than the day before—mundane sharing of the day's plans, a steaming cup of coffee on the coffeemaker he could not even use without her, a trip to walk outside hand in hand with Chloe, open and public without the need to escape to isolation.

But it was dark when he sat up in bed. Oliver looked down and saw the bandage wrapped around his wrist. Then he began to feel the steady throbbing ache and knew she had cut skin and muscle. A small cotton balled up and taped against his arm. He touched it and found it only a little sore, which meant it was nothing but a prick. It was negligible compared to his wrist. He noticed a small syringe on the table, right over the photograph he had planned to defend when he thought she was an intruder. He picked it up and noticed the ridges on the image, right across the jaw she playfully kissed, flipped it over and read.

It's not over, Oliver.

And he wondered just a little if it was a promise to come back to him or just an explanation of why she was gone. Maybe it was both.

He closed his hand over the wound she had inflicted above his wrist. "Where are you?" he whispered.

fin

I do still plan to complete Road to the Stars when I get a breather.