Summary: With Oliver's messed-up life, danger comes in all shapes and sizes… Late Season 9.
Gotta watch out for those accountants… sneaky devils. Now let's see if we can't get this little tale wrapped up.
"Oliver, stop fighting. They're trying to help you."
Oliver couldn't breathe. He needed to sit up. Maybe that would help, but he couldn't sit up for some reason.
"Ollie, stop. Please."
Chloe. He would do anything she asked of him. She'd saved him before and he trusted her. He would do what she wanted. Even if he couldn't breathe. He'd do what she wanted even if it killed him.
"Mr. Queen?" Pain seared through his brain as a light shone in his eyes. "Mr. Queen, can you hear me?"
Oliver vaguely registered the cold and realized his shirt must be gone. Someone was prodding at his chest, turning him on his side.
It hurt badly enough that Oliver didn't really want to stick around anymore. In fact, he thought, as the darkness returned to claim him, he didn't think he would.
"Ms. Sullivan, we really need to talk to him."
"And as I've told you before, Officer Everett, Mr. Queen is not awake yet and I'm not about to let you hurry him just so you can get a statement. I gave you the recording of the call that picked up Mr. Willmington-Pruett's attack. He was a disgruntled and clearly deranged employee who decided Mr. Queen was the cause of the world's problems and he deserves to be locked up."
Oliver would have smiled if he'd actually been more than half-awake. Chloe was using her I'm-talking-to-an-idiot voice, with a healthy dose of I'm-getting-seriously-pissed-off on the side. In truth, however, it was only amusing because for once she wasn't using that voice on him. He kind of felt sorry for the guy, now that he thought of it.
"No," Chloe said, immediately cutting off whatever else the policeman was going to say. "You can talk to him once he's better and not a second before, understand?"
Oliver was fading again, but he felt someone come and lean against the side of the bed. Chloe's warm hand slid into his. She raised it, clasping it close to her chest before he felt the soft brush of her lips against his fingers.
"There's no hurry, Ollie," she said gently. "I'll be here when you wake up." She kissed his hand again, and he could hear the smile in her voice as she added, "Although you know patience isn't my strong suit, so… any time now would be good."
Oliver wanted to sigh in contentment. He would have if his chest weren't so tight. The thing was, he knew it had nothing to do with his injuries.
"Oliver? Can you open your eyes for me?"
Oliver only half-listened. It sounded like Emil. He probably wanted to talk about one of his projects and Oliver just didn't feel up to it. He'd call him back later.
"Oliver?" A different voice this time, one he didn't want to ignore. "Ollie, come on and open your eyes. I tried the patient thing, but you're starting to worry us."
"You're sure he was waking up?" Emil asked.
"I could have sworn," she answered, although she seemed suddenly uncertain.
Emil sighed and he sounded very tired to Oliver's ears. "His temperature's up again. The experimental drug is trying to heal the injuries, but the infection is working against it. The drug was designed to work for trauma, not infection, so his body is having to do that on its own. His system is just overwhelmed."
"He's getting worse," she whispered, something too close to despair in her voice.
Emil must have thought the same thing because he said, "Oliver's young and he's strong, Chloe. Give him time."
Oliver fought his way to the surface. He didn't like worrying Chloe. She'd had more than enough hardship in her life, some of it caused by Oliver himself, and he'd never want to cause more for her.
"Come on, Ollie," she urged.
He was so hot, nearly boiling from the inside out, and he needed to wake up so he could kick the covers off. He could feel her hand now, cool fingers against his brow. He focused on her touch to use it to guide him as he fought for consciousness. He remembered now why his eyelids were so heavy, why Emil was there with Chloe, why she was so worried, but the more Oliver struggled to awaken and reassure her, the farther and farther away Chloe seemed to be, until finally, it was only Oliver and the darkness left. He wanted to apologize, but that too was lost to sleep.
Oliver blinked heavy lids, struggling to open his eyes. It felt as if he'd been sleeping for days and at the same time, that he'd only been out for a few minutes. His gaze traveled over the monitor beside the bed, the IV bags and the lines running to his arm, then down to the sensors attached to his finger and to his bandaged chest. He raised a hand to his face, trembling from the effort, and realized that the pressure he was feeling against his cheeks was the plastic tubing from the nasal canula. The oxygen was also the reason his nose was so dry and itchy. Despite that, he supposed he should be grateful. He was breathing after all, and he was pretty sure that had been touch and go while he was out.
Oliver scanned the room and saw that he was in one of the hospital's premium suites, much like the one Chloe had been put in. This one had a recliner as well as a rock hard sofa, but it didn't matter. He was alone.
Oliver closed his eyes and pulled up the blanket covering him, a sudden chill passing over him. He might as well go back to sleep. He'd learned early on that was the best way to get through a lonely stint in the hospital.
The door to the room opened quietly and Oliver opened his eyes to see Chloe walking in, a steaming cup of coffee in her hand. His heart thudded in his chest, and he once again cast a glance around the room, this time noticing the satchel Chloe used to carry her laptop on the floor next to the recliner, noticing the little trash can across the room overflowing with coffee cups, coke cans and takeout containers.
Oliver's eyes traveled back to Chloe. Her clothes were rumpled as if she'd slept in them and her hair was mussed, probably from trying to sleep in the recliner. There were darks circles under her eyes, and her shoulders were slumped in weariness. She looked dead on her feet and Oliver thought she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
"Refueling?" Oliver asked, surprised at how raspy his voice sounded.
Chloe jumped, fumbling and nearly dropping her coffee. As it was, some slopped over the side and she yelped, quickly switching hands so she could raise her burnt fingers to her mouth.
"Sorry," he managed, although even that little word set off a round of coughing, which in turn had him doubled over in agony. His entire chest felt as if it were on fire and he suddenly remembered his psycho accountant who, apart from trying to turn him into a pincushion, had kicked him in his side already injured in the shooting. A body really didn't appreciate that sort of repeated abuse.
The part that really pissed him off was that he'd promoted the guy. Oliver had all kinds of people who wanted to kill him for firing them or shutting down their projects or forcing them to move if they wanted to keep their jobs. This was the first guy who'd ever tried to kill him for moving him up in the company.
"Breathe, Ollie, breathe," he heard over the blood rushing in his ears. He felt her hand rubbing circles on his back as the coughing subsided and the pain along with it. It took several minutes, but finally Oliver became aware of his surroundings again and realized he'd twisted onto his side, all of his muscles drawing up protectively and there were tears on his cheeks.
"You ok?" Chloe whispered, looking petrified. She picked up a thermos from a bedside table and brought the straw to Oliver's mouth and patiently waited as he drank. The water was a little stale, but it was better than the finest champagne against his Sahara dry throat.
"Ollie?" Chloe said, sounding desperate. Oliver focused his eyes on her, sorry that he had once again caused that look on her face. "Oliver, don't move," she said, coming to a sudden decision. "I'll get a doctor."
Before she could go, Oliver had her wrist in a vise, keeping her at his side. He very slowly eased onto his back again and made a concerted effort to control his breathing. He could hear a beeping sound and knew it was the sensor on his finger alerting that his oxygen level had dipped. If he didn't fix it, a nurse would be in soon and he didn't want that.
"Ollie?" Chloe said again tentatively. "Ollie, say something."
Oliver tried to come up with something pithy, but all that came out was, "Ow."
"Ow?" Oliver cast her a sideways glance and if her expression was any judge she looked like she wanted to smack him.
"Sorry," he murmured, annoyed at how gravelly he still sounded. "Know it's not as eloquent as 'hey, you'."
"Are you making fun of the woman who hasn't left your side in days?" she asked tartly, although she softened it by leaning forward and running her fingers through his hair, tucking it behind his ear, then setting her hand against the side of his face.
"Wouldn't dare." He smiled and even that small action was exhausting.
"Do you need anything?" she asked worriedly. "I should really get a doctor. They wanted to wait for you to wake up before they gave you any more pain meds. They need to check you first."
Chloe moved to leave and he once again tugged on her wrist to keep her where she was. "Later." As long as he didn't move and as long as Chloe stayed, he could wait on the drugs.
Oliver focused on Chloe. Even visibly worn out and worried, she was stunning. He released his grip on her wrist and raised his hand to brush the tips of his fingers over her cheek. She'd stayed. She'd stayed with him. For once in his screwed up existence, he had someone who wanted to be there, even when times were tough, someone who actually knew him. And for once, when he found someone who wanted to stay with him, he wanted to stay, too. He didn't feel the panic creeping in, or the need to run like he had from so many others who'd tried to get close.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Chloe whispered.
Oliver smiled uncertainly, wondering if he dared tell her the truth. She was so careful of herself, so protective of her beautiful, too generous, too often injured heart. The truth was that he knew he didn't deserve her. The things he'd done, the things he'd cost her, the things she must have seen through her cameras when he'd fallen off the good-guy wagon, it was more than any woman should have to put up with. Finally, he said, "I keep waiting."
"Waiting for what?" she asked when he didn't continue.
"For you to figure out I'm not worth the trouble."
Chloe froze, her eyes on his, but only a second later, she smiled kindly, hesitantly, a blush spreading across her cheeks. "Funny," she looked down, unable to hold his gaze, "I keep waiting for you to figure out the same thing."
Oliver shook his head. Weren't they a pair? Two damaged souls, lonely, distrustful, fearful of commitment, trying to navigate their way through something they both had a feeling could be so much more, all while trying not to screw it up.
"Hmm… Not sure I'll ever figure it out. It's well documented I'm pretty dense." Oliver gave her a tired grin. "Ask any of the papers." He started to cough again, and immediately Chloe had the thermos in front of him, practically jamming the straw in his mouth to stave off another painful round of rib-cracking coughing.
"You need to rest," Chloe said worriedly. "You almost..." A stray tear ran down her face. "Ollie, you don't… you don't know how close it was."
"The guy cut you open and dumped you in a filthy alley," Chloe whispered, her chin beginning to tremble. "The infection was… the drug to heal you… it wasn't working because the infection was so bad and…"
"Shh," he soothed. "I'm ok." Even those few words of reassurance seemed to be more than she could bear and her brave expression crumpled, leaving Oliver to wonder just how long Chloe had been forced to stand vigil at his almost deathbed. She leaned forward, her face buried in his chest, silently sobbing. He wouldn't have known if he hadn't seen the tear on her cheek or felt how her shoulders were shaking now. Once again, he was reminded of how guarded she was with herself, how slow to acknowledge that they were more than co-workers, more than lovers. He knew that this new disaster would have pushed her beyond her comfort level to admit how deeply they were connected and how frightening it was to have that threatened.
Oliver rubbed his hand over her back in slow circles, relishing the feel of having her close. Coming to a decision, he very, very gingerly scooted to one side, causing Chloe to stand up straight again, her red-rimmed eyes staring at him.
"What are you doing?"
His first thought was to say "for my girlfriend," but what he actually said was, "For you." He patted the bed beside him.
Chloe shook her head. "That's against the rules."
Oliver gave her a conspiratorial wink. "So is hacking the server of every major corporation and law enforcement agency in the country, but I'm pretty sure you do that, too."
She gave him a disapproving glare, but it quickly turned to her more usual resigned, yet amused acceptance that he was a rule-breaking ne'er-do-well. In any case, it was better than the fear or, worse, the sadness that had been on her face since he'd opened his eyes.
Chloe very carefully maneuvered onto the bed beside him, mindful of any wires or lines. She let Oliver put his arm around her as she snuggled closer into his uninjured side.
"The accountant's in jail?" he asked.
"Yes. And so is the hitman. You-Know-Who in Gotham sent word he caught the guy red-handed during an attempt on a city official's life and turned him over to the police."
Oliver nodded. "Good to know." He wasn't surprised Chloe had spent time figuring out just what had happened. It was part of why he'd hired her in the first place.
"This mess means you're also going to have to find another go-to girl for your public appearances."
She didn't sound too displeased about that, while Oliver wanted to be sick at the thought of finding another Portia. "Maybe I'll just go alone for a while," he said.
"Until I can talk the real thing into going, I'll go stag." He frowned when he realized he was slurring with exhaustion. "It'll confuse the gossip columnists, which is always fun."
"I hate for you to go alone," Chloe offered. "I know how much you hate those things."
Oliver just smiled. His eyes were closed and he knew he was drifting off again. "Not alone," he said quietly, and tightened his arm around her. It wasn't about the parties and it never had been. It had taken this long, but it was true. He wasn't alone anymore.
And there you have it. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this. Not sure I'll venture into Smallville territory again, but one never knows… Been a pleasure and thanks for reading!