LEGENDS: This is How Lives Begin
Summary: Chloe and Oliver take Connor to the farm, and move on with their lives.
Characters: Lois, Oliver, Chloe, Clark, Connor
AN: This is I think the 9th story. Let me know what you think :)
This is How Lives Begin
It could well be said that Lois Lane-Kent was the more dependable of the two. Surely when they were younger the world thought Chloe Sullivan, of the two cousins, exuded more maturity than the cousin flighty enough to find herself in the middle of problem after problem that required the family to gather together or call the general. But that all changed when eventually every one in the family lost contact with the girl they fondly remembered as Moira and Gabe's intrepid little blonde. One of those days, they had said, Chloe Sullivan would vanish and none of them would ever know.
True to their whispered fears, Chloe Sullivan became nothing more than a distant memory, a figure in a photograph that many recalled but did not truly know.
Lois sat on the couch in the home in Smallville, looking through the wedding album that Martha insisted they keep on the coffee table. They came to the farm when Martha was home; hardly ever when she was not. But this was a special occasion that had pulled her and Clark from Metropolis.
Chloe Sullivan was coming home.
It was not as sentimental as her brain had made it out to be, she was sure. From her busy life as a reporter for the Daily Planet, Lois kept close watch on her cousin's life as it unfolded on snippets on television, or the occasional times when she and Oliver agreed to interviews in magazines. Sure, she and Chloe had developed into a lunch time routine to call and say hello. After missing her cousin for all these years Lois was not going to just allow her to disappear. The latest issue she had of Star City Life featured Chloe and Oliver prominently on the cover, smiling in unison—and by God the two of them were fantastic actors because the smiles were beaming, like they did not have a care in the world—in front of a merry fireplace that Lois doubted was as functional as it was aesthetic.
Who did they think to fool? They lived in South California.
Leaning against the fireplace, as a nod to the double identity that Oliver Queen had revealed back in the day when it still seemed like such scandal, was a compound bow that gleamed at the flash.
Fit for a Queen, was the tagline. A tour of the home that Queen built for love.
Lois had read the article with cynical eyes. She loved Chloe, adored Oliver. But there was a hidden place in her heart was swelled at the thought. Oliver's PR staff was at work, she knew. It was the same PR staff that had released photos of Oliver Queen standing over her cousin's grave five years ago when he had insisted on a news blackout. And yet, it was the same staff that had handled his Green Arrow revelation with the fervor that shot Queen Industries stock prices through the roof.
The same PR staff now worked feverishly in controlling public perception on another one of the Queen CEO's scandalous moves. Because liked it or not, Oliver Queen was never just a business. He had been a celebrity since his days in Excelsior. Lois hoped Oliver had hefty packages for those guys.
They were expert manipulators, perfect barometer of public approval. And to a man whom Lois knew had plans of one day taking the Star City mayoral seat, no time was too early to gauge public reaction.
This was the Oliver Queen that they had painted as a grieving hero. He had himself professed that his decision to come out to the world was spurred by a loss. Star City had held his hand when he eventually married, had a son.
The divorce had been an obstacle enough to overcome. Oliver Queen had left the woman who, for all intents and purposes, helped him recover from the shattering loss.
Only to move into a new home with a stranger.
And there they were, Lois thought, weaving their lies for the world to see. She had breezed through the article and resisted the urge to call Chloe.
"The home that Oliver built for love?" Lois had read aloud to Clark. Clark had shaken his head and pleaded with her to leave it alone. "I will not. First of all, Smallville, Oliver Queen bought this house already built, sight unseen. He didn't have time to build a house."
Clark mumbled, "I think they mean building the home in a different way, Lois."
"This isn't right," Lois murmured, poring through the article. And the flaws and inconsistencies jumped up at her, screaming and sticking out their tongues to her from the black and white text. "He didn't meet her and fall in love with her in some business trip."
"They wrote it well. If you were anyone else, you'd fall in love with Oliver the way they wrote that piece."
Lois's gaze shifted coolly to Clark. "They make it sound shallow. After what she's been through—" Lois paused, then cleared her throat. Chloe deserved much better than the tag of a second wife, a whirlwind romance.
When you know, you know, Oliver had been quoted in the article.
And it was nonsense the way they had painted it. No, it was not an acceptable article. She was a little betrayed that Chloe allowed it to be published.
But Chloe was home in Smallville, carting with her for a visit to the Kent Farm whom Chloe had branded as her Queen boys. And so Lois and Clark had prepared the farm, because it was the first time Chloe would be back. The last time she was at the farm, Chloe had broken been fleeing the Squad and donned the Legion ring.
Lois had watched from the doorway as Chloe climbed out of the black SUV that Oliver drove himself from the airport. Her throat tightened at the sight. She did not know she would be so sentimental. Lois quickly brushed away the tears that pooled in her eyes when she saw Chloe's hair reflect the sunlight. It was almost noon, and they had only just gotten off the plane, but her cousin was gorgeous.
Absence did make the heart grow fonder.
After Oliver's pathetic attempt to retrieve—Lois shook her head. She would not, could not entertain thoughts of that failure right at the beginning of the visit. She raised a hand and waved at Chloe. Her arm stilled when Chloe smiled back at her and turned around opened the back door of the car, then unsnapped the seatbelt on the child seat.
Lois smile fell a little.
Soon there was a little blond boy running down the dirt path, and Chloe laughed as she followed close behind him.
"Aunt Lois!" Chloe called out to her.
Lois pasted the big smile on her face as she leaned down and greeted the little boy. Clark moved from behind her and picked up the kid, then scratched the boy's tummy over what Lois was sure was a button down shirt that cost more like her favourite Manolos. Clark had been there for Connor's birth. It was something about a team. Lois didn't listen, couldn't remember much about that time. What she knew was that Oliver had sounded happy when he told them over the phone, and Lois had pleaded out of a visit.
It was Oliver's son. Dinah's baby.
"Chloe," Lois greeted with a tight embrace. The last time she had seen Chloe her cousin had been broken at the revelation of what had happened, broken about Oliver's failure. She had expected more of the same, had strengthened herself to be a shoulder for Chloe to cry on. "You look wonderful," Lois whispered.
"You look surprised," Chloe responded with a small smile. She shrugged. "These last weeks—they've been amazing."
Lois' brows furrowed. "So you're fine?" she prompted. "With Connor staying over. With Oliver."
"It's perfect," Chloe assured her cousin. She looked towards Clark and Connor.
The boy tortured Clark by having him tell him the names of all the animals they would visit that day. "Spottie the cow? You said Spottie the cow two times!"
Lois watched Chloe's face, her eyes shining as she watched Clark explain away that cows had spots so many of his cows shared the honor of the name. "Come on," Lois urged. "I'll show you to your room."
"We're not staying overnight," Chloe quickly said. "We didn't even bring stuff."
Chloe had told her they would visit, so Connor could look around the farm. Lois had assumed they would stay. Her cousin, she told herself, was a fine actress. If there was ever a way to draw her out, to encourage her that openness was not weakness, Lois knew it would be at night when they were alone.
"You're not staying?" Clark asked. "Lois fixed up the guest bedroom for you guys."
"The jet is waiting for us, but if you want to stay, Chloe, I can call the pilot and have him check in somewhere."
Chloe whirled around. Lois stifled a smile, because whatever her concerns were about how they now seemed to be leading their lives, the way Chloe turned into a little, excited, eager girl around Oliver always delighted her. Almost immediately Chloe walked over to the new arrival. Oliver extended his hand and she took it, as if they had not just been together on the drive over, not just parted because he parked the car.
"We didn't bring anything."
Oliver grinned down at her. "I brought an overnight bag. It's at the back of the car. I knew Lois was going to change your mind."
Chloe bit her lip and rewarded him with a kiss. She threw an apologetic look at Lois. "We have a thing," she explained vaguely. Lois arched an eyebrow. "Sleep at home whenever you can."
"To be fair," Oliver explained, "that rule mostly applies to my business trips. Even if it's late, if there's no business out of state the next day, I fly home."
Lois nodded, her grin permanent. Because that made sense. If her cousin could give up her entire life, her whole identity, five years of her life, Oliver could stand to give up a few hours of sleep and make it home to her.
"And how's that working out for you, Oliver?" Lois challenged gently, teasingly.
She did not miss the way his arm tightened around Chloe's waist, or the possessive way his thumb brushed her hip. "When you have Chloe to come home to, the travel time just doesn't matter."
And so they were fine with flying in and out of Smallville. It was how they chose to live their lives. Lois' reporter eyes watched and observed quietly as Connor reached his arms out for 'Aunt Chloe' and asked to see the Spotties. Chloe arched a brow at Clark and listened to the explanation to the uncreative christening of the farm animals.
"Go ahead," Oliver told Chloe. "I'll take up the bag to the guest room."
It looked familiar, and Lois was hardly unsettled when Chloe and Clark took Connor, who was buzzing and hopping with excitement, out to the field. When the three were out of earshot, Lois turned back to Oliver. Not surprisingly, Oliver merely folded his arms across his chest and parted his legs on a stable stance.
"Don't you have a bag to get?" Lois asked pointedly.
"Something's up," Oliver said to her, not as a question.
Lois' smile was grim. And then it faded. She walked past Oliver and sat on the couch. The wedding album lay open on the coffee table. He made his way to the armchair and sat down opposite her. They had not spoken since the pathetic trip he had made that stopped all further efforts, since the night he had given up. She had spent sleepless nights, weeks, in the effort to help him find every single resource that could help him jump.
And then one day he simply gave it up.
"You met her on a site audit to one of your vendors in Gotham City; then fell in love with her during your closed door merger weekend with Wayne. Really, Oliver? That's how you're playing it?"
Oliver leaned back in his seat, in apparent relaxation. Lois was not fooled by it. She could see the tick in his jaw. "You want me to tell the world what really happened? Is that what you expect?"
"She doesn't deserve to be painted like a homewrecker, like she was the reason you and Dinah can't reunite." Even though Chloe was. Even when she voiced it, Lois knew she was the one who was irrational, who did not make sense. She closed her eyes and massaged the bridge of her nose. "I just—I'm not going to lose my cousin again."
When she opened her eyes, the seat was empty. Lois walked out to the window and saw Oliver walking towards the fences where Clark was leading a gentle pony around, with Connor happily pretending to be a cowboy. Oliver called cheerfully towards the three. Chloe turned around and shielded her eyes with a hand. When Oliver reached her he leaned down and dropped a kiss on her lips. Even from the distance Lois saw her cousin smile. And then, Oliver drew a pair of sunglasses from his pocket and slid it over Chloe's eyes, resting it on the bridge of her nose.
Lois glanced back towards the blown up photograph of her wedding party, her gaze moving fluidly from one face to the next. Clark's friends. Her family. Her sister.
Everyone had been captured, and the moment could never be recreated. No, that was her wedding, the most important day in her life. And Chloe was not there. Instead, there he was, off to the sideline, Oliver Queen stood beside his pregnant wife, the plain wedding ring glinting on his finger. Lois had not seen a smile so vacant in all her life.
She took a deep breath and joined the party. At her arrival, Oliver nodded to acknowledge her presence. Chloe shifted away from Oliver and looped her arm around Lois'.
"Look at him!" Chloe said proudly, when Connor managed to stay on the saddle as the pony trotted.
Lois nodded. Connor Queen was impressive at just near three years old. Nothing less could be expected from the son of two legends. She watched as her cousin held up a camera phone and took snapshots of Connor on her first pony ride.
"I love you. You know that, right?" Lois said softly.
Chloe turned her head and smiled at her. "I love you too, Lois."
When Chloe turned back to watch Connor, Lois felt the heated stare on her. She turned and found Oliver looking at her. Lois met his stubborn gaze.
"Ollie, tell Clark that's fast enough!" Chloe called out.
"Hey Boyscout!" Oliver called. He made a gesture to stop. "Come on, Connor. We'll help Uncle Clark feed the chickens."
It was an activity that Chloe declined. They had not been several feet away from the chicken coop when Chloe balked at the odor. Lois understood perfectly, because the scent of the chicken coop always made her skin crawl.
"Are you sure you want to feed the chickens, Connor? It smells funky in there," Chloe said to the little boy.
"I can take it," Connor said. "You can stay in the house, Aunt Chloe, so you can still smell nice." He looked up at his dad and whispered in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear. And now Lois knew that Connor was giving Chloe perfume for her birthday.
"I trust you enough that you would make sure I don't end up smelling like Dinah," Chloe said teasingly to Oliver when they parted.
Chloe helped Lois prepare lunch. Preparing would be a dubious word. Lois had ordered food and the cousins spent their time unpacking and heating, arranging side dishes in a way that was pleasing to the eye. Lois saw her cousin take mashed potatoes and flatten them on a saucer. Chloe took three black beans and made eyes, pieces of carrot and turned them into curved lips, then made a center hole for a gravy nose.
"What are you doing?"
Chloe shrugged, then said, "Connor likes to play pretend."
"I guess that's a thing in the Queen household," Lois said quietly.
Chloe stopped. She placed the dish down on the table. She blinked at Lois. "What does that mean?"
Lois had to remember that she was doing this for Chloe, because this—whatever this was—was unacceptable. It was denial at its fullest. Sooner or later it would implode.
She had known Chloe since she was a kid. She had wiped the girl's nose even thought they were just a couple of years apart. She sat on Chloe's husband's bedside when her cousin could not. She knew this girl. This was not right.
"I see you on tv when they feature Oliver's company, when you stand beside or they show you waiting patiently at the side. Sometimes they have candid pictures of you with Connor, and you look like you're taking your son to the park. You go to charity events and you laugh with his friends." Lois nodded towards the stack of magazines at the corner, the top of which was the cover Chloe and Oliver had done.
Chloe licked her lips. "You see me living my life. It's not like I want to be seen everywhere. It's not ideal. But nothing is."
"You're pretending it's all okay," Lois said gently. Slowly, she made her way to Chloe and took her hands. She did not want Chloe to feel attacked, or judged. "You're pretending that you forgot. You're not doing anything."
"What I'm doing is moving on," Chloe insisted.
"You move on from a breakup, Chloe. You move on from an ex-boyfriend." Lois' voice grew firm. "You don't move on from losing a baby."
There was an imperceptible shift in Chloe's eyes. Lois saw her swallow. When she saw the tears slowly rise, Lois half-regretted her words.
"That's enough, Lois." She glanced at the doorway and saw Oliver. "You can't make us feel guilty."
Chloe drew a shuddering breath. She pulled her hands away from Lois. She pressed her palms over her eyes and took several relaxing breaths. And then she looked back up again. Chloe spoke to Clark. "Can you take Connor to the bathroom? I'll change his clothes." To Oliver, she said, "We're heading back home."
Chloe went to the bedroom to get a change of clothes. Lois fought the urge to call her back.
She turned to Oliver. "What happened to the two of you?" Lois whispered. "She can live in denial. That's who she is. But you didn't stop until you got revenge for your parents' deaths. Now you suddenly give up and turn your life into some farce?"
Oliver shook his head. "I know you love her, but you have no idea how our lives are. You had no right to confront her like that."
"Someone has to follow through," Lois said, not backing down. She had spent countless hours in the research, because no one else would. "I found someone who can point us to a beacon that could send messages to the future, Oliver. Forget the people we paid on your last attempt. We send a message to Rokk, and then—"
"Stop," Oliver cut in.
"Why?" was Lois' demand. "You want to give up, Oliver?"
"We will never get that kid back. She wasn't ours, Lois. Ours is dead," he said painfully. "Don't."
"Fine," Lois said. She fought the tears that rose in her eyes. He was right. The niece she had once dreamt of rescuing was gone. But with grieving came something more powerful. "Then make someone pay for it."
Oliver's jaw clenched. He shut his eyes tightly. "Chloe and I—we want to move on, Lois."
She rested a hand on his arm. "You know, Oliver, that this is the only way to do it."
Back at home, later that night, Oliver walked into the bedroom and found it empty. He felt the slight breeze and found the French windows open. He saw Chloe standing at the balcony looking out the night time Star City skyline.
He stepped out onto the balcony and she turned her head ever so slightly. Oliver stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He buried her nose in her hair.
"Lois called," he whispered into her ear.
He felt her take a deep breath. She whispered back to remind him, "It stops at the doorstep, Ollie." So he nodded and tightened his hold on her. "I have something to show you." She turned around in his arms until she was leaning back on the balcony, and her face was silhouetted by his city's bright lights.
"What do you want to show me, Chloe?"
She was beautiful. He marvelled at how he was able to survive a half decade without her.
Chloe gave him a secret smile, then raised her hand. Oliver reluctantly tore his gaze away from her eyes and looked. And felt the weight that weighed on his shoulders fall away.
His ring glinted on her finger.
"We're moving on," she told him.
Her eyes shone. They were moving on, because they were in love. Leave the past behind; let tomorrow come as it will.
"Can you make it happen?" she said softly.
It was two in the morning when the incumbent mayor of Star City arrived in their home. Oliver shook his head at the sight surrounding him. Bart and Victor had arrived on time and designed the place with what flowers they found available in the streets of Star City on that late hour, but Chloe did not mind that her bouquet was drooping.
Boxes of takeout piled on the table, and instead of a wedding cake they shared a pint of ice cream from 7 11.
There was no prenup, no press coverage. His PR staff would fall over themselves tomorrow when they found out, he thought. He had been wearing jeans and a black t-shirt, and she was in a skirt and a blouse she had already been seen in when she went shopping with Connor the other week.
"Is this okay?" Oliver asked. Because this was a culmination of years, of gains and losses, a symbol of his love. And this was it.
Chloe looked around her, the team incomplete, her family absent, Connor asleep in the bedroom, and nodded. "It's perfect."
This is how they lived their lives.
"We'll do a big one later," he promised her.
She shrugged, grinning from ear to ear, and told him it was not necessary. When she said, "I do," he soared.
This is how it begins.