Title: Worth The Wait
Prompt: snowed in
Word Count: 5,953
Mild spoilers for Roulette though I doubt there's anyone who hasn't seen it at this point…
December 24th 2009
Chloe maneuvered her way through the kitchen a tray of freshly scooped cookie dough grasped in one hand and an oven mitt covering the other. She opened the oven door and pulled out the finished batch, slid in the other baking sheet and slammed the door shut. She walked over to the kitchen table that was already partially covered with freshly baked cookies and set them down before removing the glove from her.
Chloe looked up at the clock on the wall and realized that her father and Oliver would be there any minute. She fought the urge to jump up and down excitedly at the thought of her dad actually being with her for Christmas this year, and not just for the next two days. He had managed to convince his boss to let him use up some of his many accumulated vacation days, and was staying for over a week. He would be there until after the New Year.
She knew this would be the best Christmas she had had in a long time. It had been just over three years since she'd seen her father and longer then that since they had spent a holiday together. Missing him became something she grew used to, but it was always harder for her this time of year. The time from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve was special thing.
After her mom left her dad tried his best to make it extra special for her, and he always succeeded, whether it was by making sure he found a way to perfect her mother's recipe for stuffing to accompany the turkey in November, or finding out what the top item on her wish list was so that it was under the tree on Christmas morning. They'd even started a New Year tradition that year where they would curl up on the couch, drinking hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, and watch the ball drop.
After all the great memories her dad had given her Chloe had decided that this year it was her turn to take control and give them both the best Christmas/New Years imaginable. She looked toward the living room and all the boxes she had made Clark help her bring up from storage before he left town with Lois and smiled, her father would be so excited to see all their old holiday decorations. She was certain he thought they had been thrown away or lost in the move. What he didn't know was that she had managed to hide them away in the Talon basement until the day they could use them again, the both of them, together.
A moment later knocking from the front door rang out through her small apartment, pulling her from her mental musings. Chloe let out a delighted squeal, rushed to the door, and yanked it open.
The huge smile that was stretched across her lips just moments before quickly faded when she saw it was Oliver standing there. Oliver and no one else; her father was nowhere in sight. Chloe stuck her head out the door and glanced around what she could see of the vacant coffeehouse below hoping for a second that maybe he was still on his way in, but he wasn't.
Without a word she stepped back and gestured for Oliver to come inside.
Oliver nervously rubbed his hands over the back of his neck and moved past her. As soon as he was inside, Chloe closed the door behind them and leaned back against it closing her eyes tightly as she braced herself for what she knew he was about to say.
Her father wasn't coming.
"I'm really sorry Chloe," he told her his voice just above a whisper.
"So what happened this time?" she sighed heavily and pushed herself from the door.
She tried to hold back the bitter tone in her voice but realized she failed miserably when she saw the look of pity etched across Oliver's face. She walked past him and leaned against the kitchen counter arms crossed protectively over her chest.
"The blizzard, they've grounded all air traffic for the entire tri-state area, there was no way for my pilot to fly him into Metropolis."
A single tear fell down her cheek; she quickly wiped it away, instantly feeling childish for getting so emotional that her father couldn't make it. It wasn't like he blew her off or anything. He couldn't control the weather, and she knew he would be there if her could, but that didn't mean it hurt any less. The worst part was now she had to spend the holidays alone… again. She had already turned down her other invites this year.
Clark and Lois had invited her to Washington D.C. to visit Mrs. Kent with them and Pete and Lana had invited her to come spend a few days with them as well but she had turned them all down in favor of spending the time with her father.
The timer to the oven rang out and she crossed the kitchen an oven mitt on one hand and the fresh baking sheet in the other. She switched the pans out and placed the finished cookies on the counter.
"Chloe, I really am sorry?" Oliver repeated, after several minutes of silence, his eyes hadn't strayed from her since he entered the apartment.
"Its fine Ollie," she looked at him and tried to give him her best smile. Oliver had done so much to help make this happen for her. He'd arranged for his private jet to fly her father to and from Paris, and even offered to drive him to Smallville for her.
Chloe saw the sadness he felt for her in his deep brown eyes and knew she needed to lighten the mood. She walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door revealing a full stock of food. "I'm just trying to figure out what to do with all the extra food I bought." she said with a forced chuckle.
Oliver's eyes widened at the fully stocked space. As long as he had known the Sullivan/Lane woman, and as many times as he had been in their apartment it was very rare to find more then a few left over Chinese containers or pizza boxes and possibly a box of baking soda in there fridge.
Chloe slammed the door shut and walked over to the kitchen table where the now cool try of cookies sat. She began to remove the finished cookies with a spatchula and placed them with the others.
Once her back was to him Oliver's eyes finally fully left her and he glanced around the apartment. Chloe had boxes of Christmas decorations covering almost the entire living room floor.
She had really gone all out for this time with her dad; and now she was most likely going to end up spending Christmas alone. It was then that he had a thought, something so obvious that he mentally kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner.
He had no one to spend the holidays with, not that that was anything new for him, and thanks to the blizzard raging outside Chloe didn't either. They could just spend the time together.
There was only thing he'd have to figure out first… how to convince Chloe it was a good idea. He had no doubt that the second he suggested it she would shoot him down thinking he just felt sorry for her and what she was going through, and while he could admit that that was partly what was happening, that wasn't the only reason.
After everything that had happened earlier in the year he had no desire to be alone this year either and if he were completely honest with himself there was no one he would rather spend the time with.
Oliver glanced out the window again. He knew that Smallville would probably close the roads soon, so if he could just stay there until they did she would have no choice but to let him stay and keep her company.
Sure they had never spent the holidays together, unless he took into account the first year he was in Kansas when he had been invited to spend Thanksgiving at the Kent farm with Lois, but he was certain there was no way she would ask him to leave and drive three hours back to Metropolis on dangerous snow covered roads.
His eyes drifted back to her as she made her way back into the kitchen and began refilling the now empty pan with fresh clumps of cookie dough, "Hey Chloe?"
"Yeah?" she looked up at him and smiled weakly.
"You want some help?" he held his breath and silently chastised himself for a second time for not coming up with a better excuse to hang around.
"You want to help me bake cookies?" she asked her eyes wide.
"Sure, why not," he shrugged off his jacket and placed it over the back of one of the kitchen chairs and walked into the kitchen stopping only inches from her.
"Don't you have to get back to Metropolis?"
"I've got time." he answered her simply.
"Oh… um… sure."
Oliver rounded the counter, "so what do I have to do?"
Chloe looked at him and laughed. As her laughter filled the small apartment Oliver couldn't help but smile back at her. Chloe had the best laugh. It was the kind of laugh that could make you feel better on your worst day, and it often had done just that for him.
She showed him how to scoop the dough onto the pan and then handed the two spoons to Oliver.
She laughed again as she watched him scoop a large bit of dough and place it square in the middle of the pan, "okay, maybe you could just handle the oven part." she teased gently.
His eyebrows raised and he smirked, "are you trying to imply that I can't handle scooping some dough onto a pan?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?"
"Probably not." He kept his eyes locked on hers when he noticed a small smear of batter across her right cheek, "you have a little…" he lifted his finger and gestured toward the mark. Chloe tried to wipe it away with the back of her hand not realizing there was more there and ended up leaving a larger streak of dough behind. He laughed loudly, "You missed it." He picked up a stray dishtowel from the counter and wiped it away, still laughing at her as he did.
Her eyes locked on his as he lowered the towel, and she tried to ignore the sudden rush of electricity that shot through her body at his gentle touch.
Chloe quickly shrugged away the jolt to her system and snatched the towel from him and playfully smacked him with it, "maybe you could pull your weight around here and get that batch out," she pointed toward the stove, "They should be done by now… and make sure you use one of the oven mitts on the counter. The Green Arrow with third degree burns on his hands won't be very useful."
Oliver glanced up at her and rolled his eyes then made his way across the room to do as she asked.
They spent the next hour baking and laughing and when they were finished the kitchen table was fully covered with freshly baked cookies.
Chloe finished washing the pans and bowls and turned to find Oliver sitting on the couch watching her, "what?" she asked as she picked up a nearby towel and dried her hands.
"I'm just surprised… I never really pictured you as the Betty Crocker type."
"Well when my mom left my dad never fully embraced the whole baking aspect of Christmas, so as soon as I got old enough, I taught myself, and took over that part, with the help of Clark's mom, of course."
Oliver watched her smile drop slightly at the reminder that her father wasn't there and wouldn't make it to see her by Christmas day.
Chloe dropped the towel on the counter and walked over to the window. She looked out over the snow covered street as the storm continued to howl around the small town. "I hope you weren't planning on driving back to Metropolis tonight."
"Why? What's wrong?" he asked already knowing the answer.
"It's gotten pretty bad out there," she pointed to the window.
Oliver stood from the couch and walked over to her looking over her shoulder and out the window, "It has gotten pretty bad," he admitted with a small shrug, "I don't suppose I could use your couch for the night."
"Well, I can't in good conscience let you drive through that, now can I?" she replied not turning away from the window to look at him.
"It might be bad if you did; it doesn't even look as if they've cleared the streets yet."
"It's a small town Oliver, the road crew here pretty much consists of Jed Ryan and the plow attached to his pick up truck." She finally turned to look at him and realized that he was much closer then she realized when she nearly bumped into him. "And I wouldn't get your hopes up about getting out of here tomorrow either, there's no way he's going to come out into this on Christmas day."
"Well then I guess you and I will just have to spend the next couple of days together." Oliver tried to keep the smug smile from his face as his plan fell into place. He'd actually managed to fool Chloe Sullivan, that was something that not many people had the opportunity to say and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't proud of himself for pulling it off. He turned away from her and walked back toward the couch stopping in front of several of the boxes that were still scatter around, "So what's all this?" he pointed to the one closest to him.
"Oh," she walked over and stood beside him, "it's all the Christmas decorations from when I was growing up, I was going to have my dad help me set everything up when he got here but… you know what let me just clear it all out of the way." She moved to close up the box so she could lift it when she felt the warmth of his hand surround her upper arm.
"Or you and I could do it together instead," he suggested nervously. He watched her body tense for just a moment and then turn in his direction.
"You really wanna put up Christmas stuff with me?"
"Sure, why wouldn't I?"
"Well, I've been to your apartment around Christmas before Ollie, you never decorate."
"Never had a reason to, but that doesn't mean I don't want to do it with you now," he watched as she tugged her lower lip between her teeth, "unless you don't want to because you were looking forward to doing it with your dad, I mean I don't want to make you feel even worse then you already do about him not being here."
Chloe released her lip, "I think I would be even sadder to not have a tree to look at."
"Well it's settled then," he rubbed his hand to together, "where do we start?"
"We should probably put up the tree first," she said as she laughed at the excited look on his face.
"Sounds like a plan." He glanced around the room, "where is the tree?"
Chloe walked over to the largest box in the room, "in here."
"It's a fake tree?"
"I prefer to call it artificial," she smiled brightly as he stepped beside her, "my dad had this horrible allergy attack to the tree when I was eight, ever since then we've used this," she kicked the box then slid to her knees. She began to pull out the pieces one by one.
Oliver sat down beside her, "well then let's get it up."
Forty five minutes later Chloe watched as Oliver fanned out the last few branches of the tree, a proud look plastered on his face. Somehow after they had emptied the box he had convinced her to let him actually set up the tree while she made them hot chocolate. So now she sat on the couch a mug gripped firmly in her hands as she tried to fight the urge to laugh at the way the tree leaned to one side. He clearly thought he had done the perfect job and she didn't have the heart to tell him otherwise.
"So what now?"
Chloe pointed to a box on the table in front of her as she stood from the couch. She slowly began to pull out the ornaments inside. As she got closer to the bottom she found another smaller box, she pulled it out a large smile stretched across her lips.
She let out a small laugh, "they're ornaments I made when I was a kid, every year I made one for my dad."
"Can I see?"
"Sure." She pulled out the homemade ornaments, and with each one she held up she told Oliver how old she was when she made it and how her father reacted to each one.
As Oliver watched the way her eyes lit up as she told him stories of her childhood, he couldn't help but think back to the way he had spent Christmas break every year after his parents died, most of the family staff took off to spend the holidays with their families, so that meant he was left to stay back at the excelsior campus while all his friends went home. He pushed away the sad memories almost as quickly as they emerged and put his focus back on listening to her father/daughter stories. His favorite so far being about the time her father had drank one too many glasses of eggnog at the Kent's one year and proceeded to tell everyone all the embarrassing anecdotes from her childhood that he could think of.
For a moment he couldn't help but wish he could have known her then, known what she was like before years of heartbreak and people letting her down had made her build up walls to protect herself. Walls he himself had spent the last few months now trying to break through hoping she would see that it was safe to let him in.
They spent the next few hours decorating the apartment, and when all the boxes around them were empty Chloe glanced nervously around the apartment, "Wow."
"What?" Oliver asked his eyes still taking in all the lights and decorations surrounding them.
"It just kinda looks like the North Pole blew up in here."
Oliver chuckled lightly, "it is a lot of stuff," he admitted.
"Well this place is a lot smaller then mine and my dad's old house," she said sheepishly, "do you think we should take some of it down?"
"No… I like it… it's like all my missed childhood Christmas's rolled into one."
Chloe's eyes shot in his direction. His admit ion shocked her, the entire time he had been there he had been listening to her Christmas stories and had yet to even mention anything any about his own. The sadness in his voice told her they were times he probably wouldn't want to rehash, so she did her best to quickly shift the conversation. "You can't possibly sleep in those, "she pointed down at his current attire of jeans and a button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
"I've slept in worse."
"I have no doubt," she teased with a knowing smirk, "but still, why don't you let me find you something more comfortable?"
"I'll be right back."
She left him waiting in the living room and went toward the closet in her bedroom, inside was a basket of freshly washed and folded clothes that Clark had left behind there since he started dating Lois. She picked out enough clothes to get him through the next two days and carried them back out to him.
Chloe held them out to him one hand on the bottom of the stack and one on top. "I'll give you a few minutes, I'm gonna go change myself and grab you some pillows and blankets."
"Okay," he took the stack from her a placed it on the couch.
She started to walk away but before she could get too far he called out to her she turned around her eyebrows raised," yeah?"
"Thanks," she looked at him clearly confused, "for the clothes and for letting me stay here with you." he explained.
"No thanks necessary, but you're welcome anyway."
Oliver watched her leave the room again. He quickly changed and sat back down on the couch waiting for her to return. A few minute later when she did she held several large blankets and pillows in her arms. Oliver quickly rose and took them from her, and placed them on a nearby chair.
"So what now?" he asked.
"Um… well if you're not too tired my dad and I usually watch a few movies of Christmas Eve."
Oliver looked to the clock on the kitchen wall, "well it's only nine o'clock, so I think we have the time."
"Great!" She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward a large stack of DVD's on top of the television. "Okay so my dad and I always started with A Christmas Story." She pulled the case from the stack and handed it to him. "It's my favorite."
Oliver's eyes widened at the sight of a young boy in a bunny costume holding a shot gun, and a man carrying what looked like a life size leg lamp. "This is your favorite Christmas movie?"
"Absolutely… what you don't believe me?"
"It just looks a little… bizarre."
Chloe's eyes narrowed, "you can not insult this movie, Oliver Queen, it is a holiday classic, and now because you've questioned me on it I'm revoking your movie picking privileges."
"I guess that means we're watching this one."
"That's right, now take this and put it in while I go get us some movie snacks."
Fifteen minutes later they sat side by side on the floor on the living room their backs propped against the couch and several snacks surrounding them. Chloe watched him closely when each of her favorite scenes started.
Finally when the movie ended and the credits were running she turned to him, "Okay, so?"
He shrugged in response.
"Well come on admit it." she prodded.
"It was alright," he offered halfheartedly as he lifted a handful of popcorn from the bowl.
Chloe picked up a nearby throw pillow and hit him square in the face with it, the popcorn fell from his hand when he lifted it to protect his face, and was now scattered around him. She bit her lower lip to keep from laughing at the shocked expression on his face, "admit you liked it." she demanded.
"I told you it was al…"
She cut him off hitting him with the pillow again, "admit it."
"I'm not gonna say I liked it just to make you…"
She hit him again and glared at him pointedly.
"Will you please stop…"
She raised the pillow again but this time he grabbed it just before it made contact and snatched it from her.
"What now Sidekick?"
She kept her eyes locked on his and subtly reached behind her to grab another pillow and continue her assault.
Oliver dropped his pillow and reached around her. He placed his hand over hers, "truce?"
"Admit you liked it." she said jutting out her chin stubbornly.
Oliver rolled his eyes, "you are the most bull headed woman I have ever known."
"Admit it," she repeated for the sixth time.
He threw his hands in the air, "okay fine I liked it… you were right, it was a great movie, can you please stop now."
Chloe smiled triumphantly, "truce," she told him with a quick nod. "You up for one more?"
"Sure, so have I earned my movie picking privileges back?"
"Yeah, you go pick one while I go freshen up our drinks."
"Whatever you say Miss Sullivan."
Chloe stood and picked up both their glasses and walked into the kitchen. As soon as she saw the bag of marshmallows on the counter she had a sudden urge for hot chocolate instead. She made two cups and when she reentered the living room she found him already sitting back in his previous location in front of the couch. She handed him a mug then lowered herself beside him, "so what are we watching now?"
Oliver lifted the remote and pressed play and a moment later Chloe smiled and leaned back further into the couch, "It's A Wonderful Life."
"Yeah, I figured why not go with a classic."
"This is my dad's favorite… must be a generational thing." she commented glancing out the corner of her eye as she held back the laughter.
"That's very cute, he said looking at her through narrowed eyes. He reached over a placed a finger over her lips, "now please be quiet, there's no talking during the movie."
He turned his attention back toward the screen but Chloe continued to watch him out of the corner of her eye. He always did his best to put up a strong façade but it was only after the last few weeks when he seemed determined to make himself a more permanent fixture at Watchtower that she had begun to realize the truth about Oliver Queen. He was a lonely soul, a man who had very few people that he ever truly trusted and for some reason ever since her crazy plan with Roulette two months prior Oliver had seemed to decide that Chloe topped that list. Just the idea of someone having the kind of faith in her that he did after all her mistakes made Chloe's breath catch. Ever since Jimmy's death she had done her best to keep herself closed off from everyone, but her friendship with Oliver was slowly making her reconsider all her previous decisions to stay emotionally cut off from the world he had become her best friend and she was far closer to him at this point then she was with anyone else. He trusted her completely, and if she was being completely honest there were moments when she felt something stronger toward him; which was why when he started spending more and more time at Watchtower over the past few weeks she had let him without discouraging him. But no matter what she was feeling for him she was certain what her felt for her was different then that, it was a purely platonic connection for him, she was sure.
Chloe knew he needed her friendship as much as she was realizing she needed his so she forced herself to push aside what she felt for him, it was for the best.
Chloe leaned back and closed her eye for a moment listening to the gentle voices of the movie playing on the Television, after only a few minutes she felt herself slowly begin to be taken over by the exhaustion of the day.
Oliver's eyes shot open when he felt Chloe land on him and start shaking him roughly, "Ollie? Ollie wakes up?"
"Please tell me there is a good reason for your need to not only wake me up so early, but also to wake me up so… impatiently."
"Well duh Oliver, It's Christmas morning."
"Well I wanted to wake you up to give you your gifts."
"Yeah now get up," she stood up and grabbed his hands pulling him into a sitting position.
She walked over to the tree and pulled two boxes out from underneath it; each was wrapped in silver paper and topped with a green ribbon. She placed them in his lap and then sat down beside him her legs crossed underneath her.
Oliver stared at her for several seconds the way her eyes sparkled with excitement was something he had never seen in her before, with the exception of her wedding day, she had always been so professional and reserved around him and seeing this playful side of her personality was quite an eye opener.
"Well are you gonna open them or not?" she finally asked.
"Yeah," he opened the first one and pulled out a pair of black nylon tights. His eyes shot up at Chloe who laughed loudly. He narrowed his eyes at her, "I suppose you think you're funny."
Chloe stopped laughing and pursed her lips together to keep herself from starting again. Instead of speaking to answer him she just nodded. He tried as hard as he could to keep his face hard but couldn't help but smile at her.
"Open the other one," she pushed, "maybe you'll like that one better."
Oliver opened the larger package quickly and pulled out a huge green leather scrapbook. He began to flip through it and found article after article about the Green Arrow When he came close to the end of the book he saw it was nothing but names and dates, easily hundreds of them. He looked up at her not sure of what to make of the list.
"They're people you've saved." she explained gently, "I went through all the files of your 33.1 missions and these are the names of every person you and the team has freed from one of Lex's facilities, and the date you did it on," she looked at him uncertainly, as she silently prayed that she hadn't screwed up and gotten him something too sentimental. "I just thought that if you ever start to question yourself again, you can look at this book and be reminded of the hero I know you are." She slid over until she was sitting beside him and flipped to the last few pages which were completely black, "and these are for all the people I know you'll end up saving." She closed the book and pulled it from his lap.
Oliver fought the urge to look up at her he knew if he did he wouldn't be able to hold back from telling her how much she actually meant to him, what he had only recently realized she meant to him. "Thank you Chloe." He said still looking down at his lap where the book had just been.
"You're welcome," she stood up and handed the book back to him, "I'm gonna go grab a cup of coffee you want one?"
"Yeah, thanks," Oliver watched her walk toward the kitchen and when he heard the sound of cabinet doors opening and closing he took a moment to look at the book again, suddenly the gold bangle bracelet with gemstone accents he had gotten for her didn't seem like nearly a good enough gift. He stood and placed his gift down and walked into the kitchen where he had hung his jacket the night before. He reached inside the pocket and pulled out a small decorative jewelry box, "Hey Chloe?"
"Yeah?" she asked not turning around as she poured coffee into the two mugs in front of her.
"Don't you want your gift?"
She turned around quickly, "you got me a present?"
"Of course," Oliver walked over to the kitchen island, stood on the opposite side, and reached out, handing her the small box.
Chloe took the box from him and removed the lid off. She gasped slightly when she saw the bracelet inside. She pulled it from the box and immediately slid it on her wrist, "It's beautiful," she said her voice nearly a whisper, "thank you Ollie."
He saw a single tear fall down her cheek, but she quickly turned away from him and he watched her wipe it away.
"I'm gonna go take a shower," she announced suddenly. Chloe headed toward the bedroom but paused as she passed him, she stopped and without a word wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him flush against her.
He held her for several minutes unsure of what to make of her uncharastically exposed emotions.
When she pulled away she placed her hand to his right cheek and she stood on her tip toes to kiss his left
As quick as the moment began it ended and Oliver watched her retreating form. When he heard the shower turn on he moved into the kitchen to finish making his cup of coffee.
He took a generous gulp and smiled.
He was finally starting to break through the walls Chloe had built up around her and he knew it was only a matter on time until he did away with them completely.
All he needed was to be patient and he had no problem with that, because there was no doubt in his mind that Chloe Sullivan was worth the wait.
I hope y'all liked this one. I will also be posting several holiday oneshots/drabbles just after the New Year!