LEGENDS: This is How Mia Returned
Characters: Chloe, Oliver, Tess, Mia
AN: I do believe this is the 11th installment in the LEGENDS series. The legend in this one is Mia. The situation Mia finds herself in during this story is what Speedy has in the DC universe.
This is How Mia Returned
It was not so often that she woke with a smile on her face. When she was a child, eager for school and a sight of her crush, Chloe would wake up with a fat smile that she brought with her to breakfast much to her father's delight. When she had blossomed into a young woman, Chloe's smile faded with each and every weird or strange occurrence in her life. She woke up with a smile on her wedding day a long time ago and stopped smiling on the day she buried the sad man that Jimmy had become.
Even when she and Oliver had been the happiest—in their weekend retreat away from the city—Chloe had woken up pensive in Oliver's embrace. At the time her body had been languid and the thrill of the new connection burned through her veins. He had woken and stole the frown from her lips, cajoled a smile from her with a sweeping touch and a whispered compliment.
When Chloe returned to Oliver, and he had professed that undying love that seemed so unfair to the woman he had married, and they tumbled into a shared bed even with her reservations, Chloe woke with the somber knowledge that happiness would come at the price of a broken home.
When they married—even when she was sure that Dinah would survive and Connor would continue to be part of their lives—Oliver coaxed the smile out of her while they both avoided speaking of the years and the baby that was lost between those pockets of years and universes.
Yet since that trip to the hospital, Chloe could not help the silly little grin that graced her lips whenever she woke up. It amused her to no end that she rose every morning now sporting that large grin that shone even in the darkness that was four in the morning. She found it spectacular that she could run to the bathroom and collapse in front of the toilet bowl, heave the contents of her stomach like tomorrow would never come, and still rise and stare at herself in varying shades of pale and green and still manage that curve of her lips.
She was pregnant.
She was pregnant with twins.
She was pregnant with Oliver's twins.
Chloe caught sight of Oliver when he threw back the blankets and slid on a pair of sweatpants, with the garter belt hanging low on his hips. He looked back at her with concern clear in his eyes. And Chloe bent over the sink and continued the morning misery with what she knew were horrible, disgusting noises. She was glad Connor was sleeping over at Dinah's again because she was sure she would have terrified the kid. Oliver ran a hand up and down her back and Chloe gratefully accepted the glass of water he handed her.
She had it all now—just about. She had a husband that no one in the world could ever fault, a man who loved her so much his miserable marriage and an infamous stolen photograph at a gravesite was testament to it. And she was having the children they were too afraid they would not have again.
The only thing missing now was to fill the void she had been nursing for some time now. It had been what filled her life even before Oliver or any of the other men who had mattered once upon a time.
"I want to move Watchtower officially into Star City," she told Oliver, and despite the quick flash of anxiety on his forehead, she knew soon she would get what she wanted.
Chloe looked back at her image in the mirror, with Oliver standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her waist. There was a furrow in his brow. She wanted to reach up and smooth it away. She did not. Instead, she placed her hands on his arms and brushed her thumbs over his pulse.
"What we do is dangerous," he said gently, as a reminder as if she needed one.
"I've been helping out for years." Even before she met him. But that was nothing she needed to mention. "I'm perfectly aware of the danger."
She felt the almost imperceptible way his hold tightened around her. "I'd rather you stayed at home, but I know you enough by now that I can't make you do what you don't want to do."
In her mind his words recalled a damp night when she was blind, and so was he she later realized. She remembered rough hands pushing her, vividly felt again the cold water puddles when they splashed to his ankles as she made the walk towards the trade. In their lifetimes it would be her greatest betrayal of him, and at the same time the greatest act of love she would ever show.
Simply because she had taken the decision out of his hands.
"Being Watchtower is safer than waiting at home for Green Arrow," she reminded him. He endangered himself every night when he put on that costume, and she did not insist—not once—that he hang up the tights. "It's going to her me manage the paranoia that's eventually going to come." He had just as much to lose now than she did. "When you go out there, I want to know I'm protecting you as much as I can." She was not some wife who sat in safety and in warmth—not when he placed himself in danger. She was never going to sit idly. By now he knew that. And then, like it was torn so reluctantly, she felt her throat release the insecure concern, "I don't want to raise the twins alone."
If being the Watchtower would ease her mind, just for a little bit, she knew he would agree to it.
"Besides, if Victor configures it correctly then Watchtower will be more secure than the Pentagon."
He sighed heavily behind her. Her gaze moved to the sink and swept across the various shiny bottles of perfumes and lotions that lined her side. It was a useless movement to many, but at least she did not need to look at him when he denied her the simple request. Oliver had his work, both for the company and his own calling as the Green Arrow. She was never going to fault him for what he thought he needed to do to keep her safe.
After all, the last time she made the decision for both of them she lost—
She shook her head. "Oliver—"
"Alright," he capitulated.
She expected to be ecstatic, but the defeat in his voice laced the single word. "Thank you," she stated instead. Because she needed this control, needed to take this power. And she loved him so much more for understanding it.
When he offered to take her to the headquarters she did not refuse, because she knew enough by now that often what he said she needed were actually assurances he wanted. In the car he took her hand, and he twined their fingers together. She kissed his cheek and dropped a kiss on the corner of his lips.
It was almost like five years apart did not matter. Because now they had everything.
"I'll see you for lunch," he told her. And he had back to back meetings but they would keep the schedule just to avoid the terror he felt when she had to suddenly rush Connor to the hospital after Oliver missed their family lunch date. Lightly he added, "I have to make sure you aren't starving the kids and just drowning them in caffeine."
She would have been insulted, but Chloe knew it would be a natural tendency when she was so absorbed with work. So she told him instead, "I'm feeling like some calzone."
"Lots of cheese?"
"Bursting with cheese," she answered. She thought hard, marveled at how tastes and textures formed in her mouth. "And green bellpeppers." She moaned deep in her throat. "Make sure it has a lot of crispy ones."
And then he winked, reminding her of the playful although troubled billionaire whose snapshots graced magazine covers—to that innocent naughty creature he had been long before Smallville. He could still be that, when the problems were gone. He could be that carefree once they build their futures. "I'll fatten you up yet."
The comment made her chuckle, simply because she had for the longest time wanted and envied the bodies of the women she loved the most. But she was never going to be either Lois or Lana, and somehow he looked at her like she never needed to worry over it ever again. His warm hand slid over her belly, and she thought at the very least only that mattered to them.
"You do know that pregnant women still need to watch their weight," she said.
She blinked, and her lips curved at the word that spilled from her mouth. So easily, so naturally.
The first time she had gone through this, she had suffered through the revelation. Under the onslaught of violent kicks and torture that tiny bulb lit in her head when she realized she was having a baby. No sooner had she known when suddenly—
It was gone.
He was Oliver, and even the wordless memory he recognized, because next she knew his face neared hers and she felt the familiar brush of his nose against hers. "Come back," was the soft request. And she blinked away the tears that blurred her view of him. It was a sin to have the sight of Oliver Queen impeded in any way. "We're here," he said to her.
Chloe nodded, then sniffed and took a deep breath. "So this is my stop," she breathed out.
She stepped out of the car, and the two of them lingered at the doorstep of the headquarters for a few seconds more. With his hands resting on her hips, Chloe pressed her body against his. The day would be interminable, but she was back now and their lives needed to pick up. They needed to move on. She looked back at the building that Oliver and Victor had set up now with a charity foundation front, complete with signage, with a merry green welcome mat at the porch.
"I thought no one would ever ask about Mrs Queen working every day at a foundation, especially with Queen Industries' philanthropic portfolio," Oliver told her.
She would probably have granted a childhood dream and thought of setting up the headquarters front as a magazine or newspaper office, but although Chloe's intelligence in most other things exceeded her husband's she could not deny that she was a miniscule dot compared to Oliver's knowledge of how his world worked.
"I would have chosen something to do with the press," he said, "but then people will start asking about the product when they can't see any issues hit the streets."
She grinned, then nodded. Chloe accepted the drop of kiss. A flash of light from the corner caught her attention. She turned to the street and noticed a short man aiming at them with a zoom lens.
"It won't last too long now," Oliver assured her.
Chloe watched as Oliver nodded in acknowledgment at the intruder, then raised a hand in a curt wave. "I hope so. There's nothing newsworthy about a married man taking his wife to work."
Oliver chuckled. "The young CEO of the city's biggest homegrown corporation who recently divorced and gotten secretly married to a woman that has almost no digital trace in the web. I think the situation has enough fuel in it to last a few more weeks."
"In those few weeks I'm going to start to show," Chloe realized. They were not going to leave her alone any time soon, not until they realized there was nothing noteworthy about Oliver Queen's spur of the moment stranger of a bride.
Chloe saw within seconds four more men run towards them. She took a deep breath to calm herself. She took a subconscious step backwards.
The last time strange men had been so intent as they charged her, she had ended up swallowing poison pills.
"Chloe," he said softly. And all she had to do was look back at him. She raised her chin, because this was something she would not be ashamed of. She would not feel weak or helpless on the day she was picking up her life right where she had left off. "Fifteen feet," he said simply. Fifteen feet would be far enough away that no one was going to touch or breathe on her.
To her amazement, the photographers maintained their distance. Until she realized the dark suited men that guarded her and Connor during their excursions were posted close by.
"Have I told you today how much I love you?"
"Once or twice."
"Oh," she said with a soft smile. "That should be enough to carry you through lunch."
So she wrapped her arms around him and whispered into his ear, "I love you, Ollie."
And he returned the sentiment, kissing her until her toes curled inside the black pumps. Chloe wandered into the headquarters and looked around at the exquisite, simple furnishings of the front office. Behind the closed door she knew her modern equipment would be installing and humming the power underneath the sleek chassis. Instead of proceeding immediately to the Watchtower, Chloe walked towards the desk and sat in the swiveling ergonomic chair.
She ran her fingers across the wooden table.
This would be a good respite in between mission statuses. Chloe pulled the laptop closer to her and found herself working through the internet, moving from website to website looking up cribs and baby clothes instead of beginning work in the Watchtower. She glanced at the time in the bottom right corner of the computer and realized she had wasted two hours.
If her boss was not her husband he would probably be very mad.
The doorbell chimed, and Chloe shut the laptop cover down. She had expected that she would entertain walk in donors once or twice in this set up but she had not expected one on the first day. She looked up with a smile, which grew brighter when she recognized who it was.
"Mia," she greeted. Chloe rose from her seat and wrapped her arms around Oliver's wayward charge, then pulled her inside the office and onto the couch. "What do you think?"
The corner of Mia's lips curved upwards as she assessed her surroundings. She nodded in appreciation. "This is detailed for a front."
"It has to look real," Chloe said in agreement. "They did a good job." The young woman moved surreptitiously back when Chloe sat beside her. Chloe frowned. Oliver had mentioned that Mia seemed troubled, but Chloe had been involved with the pregnancy and Connor since the hospital that she had not had the chance to observe Mia. Now she recognized the signs of a heavy secret weighing her down. Chloe exhibited a lot of that of her own since she was a child that it was easy to spot the telltale signs. "Did you hear that you're going to be an aunt?"
Of course she had. She was there.
Chloe shook her head. "Something's wrong, Mia."
The young woman swallowed. She looked down at her hands, and Chloe noticed that the girl had painted her fingernails a dark blue. "So Oliver is over the moon about the babies," Mia began. Chloe smiled. She experienced firsthand every day how Oliver Queen felt about the pregnancy. She was glad that Oliver felt so much about it that he shared it with Mia. "He told me that since I'm back now, I should really stay around and help out. With Connor in the weekends and with you since twins are a lot of work."
So far Oliver had been completely hands on and she could not imagine him being less so when the babies come. Chloe suspected the request had more to do with Mia than either Oliver or Chloe. "I think that's a great idea, Mia." It would keep her around. Chloe knew how much Oliver wanted to keep Mia close, to ensure she was safe from the life he had saved Mia from as a teenager. "Especially now that Connor seems to always want to be carried around." It was a phase, one that started when she had gotten sick. And now the weekend did not pass by where Connor would not ask to be carried when they stepped outside.
With a sinking feeling, Chloe realized it was the very thing that Mia had concerns with.
"Look, I didn't want to say anything," Mia started. "I wanted to drop in and check on Oliver because I thought I owed him a visit for everything he's done for me. But if you two want me to spend time with your kids, there's something you deserve to know."
The look on her face broke Chloe's heart. She reached forward to take Mia's hand, and Mia pulled away.
"I'm sick," Mia confessed.
Chloe's brows furrowed. "Sick," she repeated. "Oliver has all the resources in the world. He can fix whatever it is." Realistically, the promise was so wrong to make. There were many things money could never buy. "Mia, just let Oliver know and he will do everything to fix whatever it is."
"I'm HIV positive," Mia whispered. Chloe recalled the story that Oliver had told her, about where he found Mia. Drugs and prostitution, out in the streets. Chloe swallowed. "Oliver doesn't get to fix that, and it wouldn't be fair for me to expect him to be able to do anything. Because he's going to want to fix it, Chloe. And if he can't—"
Chloe blinked back at the young woman. Mia seemed so cool, matter-of-fact. It was unsettling. She licked her lips. She had no idea how long Mia had known about it, but she realized that Mia now was more concerned about Oliver.
"How are you okay with this?" Chloe breathed.
Mia returned with a cool, thin smile, then said, "What makes you think I am?" And then, before Chloe could respond, Mia continued, "I'm not. And I am." She shrugged. "I know what I was, where I was when Oliver found me. I just—It's been a while. I've learned to live with it."
She glanced away, and Chloe ached to reach for her but knew she was only going to pull away again.
"Then I got selfish when I saw that press release and saw him so happy. He hadn't had a genuine smile on his face for some time." Mia swallowed. She looked back at Chloe, then told her, "I should have known it was you."
"It's not about me. But I came back because I missed Oliver, and it looks like he's finally back. I'm a responsible adult now." But the shy smile that brightened her face told Chloe there was still so much of the young kid in her. "I'm going to have to let him know because he trusts me with Connor."
"Let Oliver know," Chloe agreed. This was the sister Oliver did not have, the daughter he took responsibility for before the concept of children became a draw for him.
"After Doomsday—when everything fell apart, so did he. He sank, Chloe. You know. You pulled him out." Chloe took a deep breath, remembering the depths to which Oliver had gone. And just when she was sure she was never going to lose him that way again… Mia continued, "Then you died and we all lost him. I'm worried about telling him. You know what he'll do."
Alcohol, drugs, depression, self-destruction.
But in both of those instances, she was not around. They were not married or expecting a family.
"Tell him," Chloe decided. "He deserves to know."
Mia frowned. "And if we lose him again?"
At least, Chloe thought that they were strong enough now, had too much to live for, that she had enough inside her to hold on to him.
"He's not the same man, Mia." Mia stood, then nodded. Chloe rose and asked, "Do you need me to come with you?"
It was something that Mia needed to do alone.
Mia walked towards the doorway and Chloe followed close by. When Mia reached for the door, she turned to Chloe then said quietly, "Listen." Chloe had to step closer to hear. "Now that you know… I would understand if you and Oliver want me to keep my distance. I mean, you have Connor. You're pregnant."
"What?" Chloe gasped in disbelief. "No."
Mia shook her head. "After I tell Oliver, you two should talk it over. Chloe, I understand. You don't need to feel some obligation to me. Oliver saved me enough when he took from the streets."
Mia gave her a small smile. Chloe watched the door close behind Mia. She shook her head. That was not enough. Chloe's eyes narrowed. Mia needed to have more confidence in her place. Chloe pulled open the door and saw that Mia had walked ahead a bit already.
There was a reason Oliver called her Speedy. Chloe jogged after the young woman. She called her name. Mia stopped in her tracks and turned around.
Chloe gasped and caught her breath. "I don't need to wait to talk to Oliver to assure you that we do not ever want you to stay away from our family. Mia, you're Ollie's family and by extension you're mine too." When Mia cracked a smile, Chloe stepped forward. She wrapped her arms around Mia.
There were many unfortunate things in the world. Mia's childhood was one of them. But she could still be part of the childhood she and Oliver were going to give their children.
"I meant it when I said you're going to be an aunt, Mia," she assured the girl. "Now go talk to Oliver."
Chloe watched as Mia turned around and started walking down the street. How old was Mia now, she wondered. She was a teenager when she left, so that meant she was just barely past twenty now. So much was unfair, but Mia was right. Oliver had saved her from the streets. That was more than enough. When Oliver went to her, and Chloe hoped he trusted enough in their marriage to come to her afterwards, she was going to hold on to that truth until Oliver understood that beyond what he had done, there was nothing else he could have changed.
She was going to stay by the phone, wait at least until after Mia could talk to him. This was a conversation that Oliver needed to have alone.
"Mia!" Chloe called to the girl.
When Mia turned around, and her loose hair whipped across her shoulders, Chloe was struck by how young she was. She reached for her belly and rested a hand there.
"Call me right after. I want to know how it went."
Mia nodded briefly.
Chloe turned back towards the building and made her way slowly back. There was none of the tiredness she had been warned about, but even while her blood pumped heavily, and her heart beat fast from the revelation. Still, she walked slowly as she processed the information that Mia had shared. Her heart ached at the thought.
Maybe one of those people she had worked with at Isis. Maybe someone from the other side. It did not necessarily have to be a metahuman from the side they fought on. Anyone.
Maybe she needed someone who could help her kick start the healing that had lain dormant inside her since Brainiac.
Chloe shook her head. She was supposed to move on, to raise a family.
But Mia was family. She was Oliver's family before Chloe ever became part of it.
Chloe returned to the headquarters and picked up the phone. She pushed through the doors to the powerful computers and stood surrounded by it. The machines loomed around her, and for a split second Chloe felt the situation overwhelm her. She took a deep breath, then raised the phone to her ear.
"I hear you've lent a hand to the boys once or twice," she said easily into the mic.
Tess' voice was cool and laced with humor when she replied, "Back from the dead and about to ask for a favor without a hitch in your voice."
Chloe stifled an unexpected grin. Everyone else walked on eggshells when they first encountered Chloe returning from a long time gone, especially those who knew the situation surrounding her disappearance. If she had become a member as valued as Chloe believed, Clark would have at least given her an idea about Chloe's whereabouts. She should have expected better than pity or discomfort from Tess. It was refreshing. She appreciated the casual banter.
"Did you expect me to ever change, Tess?"
Chloe could almost hear the other woman's brows arch. "I didn't expect you to reach out, especially when you're trying to take back the treehouse."
"I'm not taking anything from you. The world's big enough."
"Then you called for a favor. Let's go ahead and set this up on video," Tess suggested. "I'd like to make sure I see the look on your face when you're asking me for a favor, Miss Sullivan."
Chloe smirked, then hung up the phone on Tess. She turned on the video call and saw Tess Mercer close to the screen the large LCD filled with just her face. "Step back a little, or I'd think you're trying to scare me off." The sight of her face was enough to waken almost a half decade's worthy of hostility and mistrust, but in reflection Chloe recognized the perfect pettiness of it compared to the problem she now wanted to solve. But she was a girl too. She could not help the words that spilled from her mouth towards the woman that Oliver had thought for the longest time was the one who got away. "And I'm sure you've heard, but it's Mrs Queen now."
Tess returned with, "I should have known you'd take his name. How utterly backwards of you, Mrs Queen." Tess leaned back in her seat, unaffected by the exchange. "Now go ahead and ask me for a favor. I'm dying to see how you do it."
Chloe folded her arms across her chest and stared at the camera lens. "I need you to look into Lex's records to figure out if he'd ever tested anyone who can heal people."
Tess' brows arched. "A miracle worker?"
"Lex must have found one or two metahumans who can do that." She being one of them did not need to be mentioned until Tess actually found evidence screaming it. "I need their names and location. Barring that, maybe Lex has information on jumpstarting abilities that might have powered down."
Tess did not answer for the longest time, but Chloe saw Tess' eyes flicker, like she was trying to read her. Finally, Tess said, "When they set up a Watchtower in Star City they assured me you were only going to guide missions, not be involved in anything as dangerous as a document on LuthorCorp stationery."
"I'm not researching Lex," Chloe pressed. "I just need the information, Tess. Will you do that for me?"
Tess slowly nodded. "If this is how you ask for favors, I'm not impressed."
Chloe gave a small chuckle, then cut the call.
Chloe returned to work searching for information on her own as she hacked into her own secure servers situation in Metropolis. Victor had not linked up the Star City servers to the original database, and Chloe was surprised that he would even bother to neglect it when everyone knew she would hack into it without breaking a sweat.
The discreet beep was followed by another. Chloe reached for her phone and saw the message that simply advised her that Oliver was sending the car for her early in the afternoon so she could head on home. The next was, as expected, Mia telling her that it was done.
It was easy enough to track Oliver down. The moment that Chloe slid into the car she demanded that the driver take her to Mr Queen's last stop. The driver simply nodded and drove her to the downtown hotel. She did not even care that the black car behind her followed them closely despite the change in their route.
She made her way through the front doors of the hotel and strode across the lobby. The bar was located down a grand staircase. For a brief moment she weaved at the top step and realized she had not had anything to eat for lunch. Chloe slowly made her way down the steps. She was barely halfway down when the hunched over figure of her husband turned around. Chloe made sure she looked straight into his eyes when they widened in surprise at her presence.
He stood up, and Chloe noticed the untouched scotch before him. She hoped it was not just a fresh serving.
"Chloe," he said quietly when she stopped in front of him, "I thought I'd meet you at home." His eyes were bloodshot, and when she leaned close she was relieved to smell nothing but his scent. Mia had sent him running to the bar.
"You forgot to ask the driver to bring me calzone." Chloe nodded towards the drink. "You planning on getting drunk before having Italian with your wife?" she asked gently. She did not need to imagine the warring emotions that raged in him. She could see the battle behind his eyes.
"That drink is untouched because of my wife," he said quietly.
She had been frustrated, shocked, utterly hurt by Mia's revelation. But it was that simple declaration from Oliver, coupled with the determination with which he rested his forehead on hers, that brought a rush of tears to her eyes.
Mia was wrong. He was not going to sink. Not this time.
Even if she had every last thing she held over him.
She blinked, and Chloe adored the way his palms cupped her cheeks, how his thumbs brushed under her eyes. She confessed, "I don't like this, Oliver. I don't like that you have this problem and you drop me and I have to find you in a bar." She took a shuddering breath. "I don't like that you couldn't come to me and tell me what you're feeling."
Oliver closed his eyes, and they stood there, right at the bar in the relative privacy of the exclusive hotel. Even in its exclusivity Chloe felt so much that they were exposed.
It must be the drink sitting there, taunting her, when she had been the one to pull him from those vices long ago.
"Do you know how much I love you?" he whispered. She nodded. Even if he could not see, he could feel it. "You know about Mia?" he asked, looking into her eyes this time. Again, she nodded. "What I'm feeling right now… I can't talk to you about it because I can't even think of a single word to describe it, let alone to hold an entire conversation with you."
Chloe bit her lip, then she wrapped her arms around him. "We don't need to talk. But you need to come back home with me. You come to me, not to places like this."
She laced their fingers together and held onto his arm securely, turning him away from the bar and towards the staircase.
"I won't drink a drop."
"Good," she said softly. "If you insisted on one I would have gone ahead and taken you shot by shot, glass on glass. If you were planning to get drunk, I would have drunk you under the table."
She felt him drop a kiss on her temple. "You're pregnant," he pointed out.
"Exactly," she said. "Aren't you glad I didn't find you drunk out of your mind?" He regarded her with tentative amusement, like he could not quite place if it was a joke or a threat. Chloe gave him a brief smile, then took a deep breath. Sometimes even levity was the heaviest burden of all. She tightened her grasp on his hand until her rings were biting into her skin. She hoped the metal hurt him too, a forceful reminder that they were inextricably links now. "It's going to get better, Ollie. You'll see. She's family. We'll fix it."