LEGENDS: This is How They Choose
Characters: Chloe, Oliver, Lois, Clark, Connor, Tess
AN: 12th of a series. The most difficult situations reveal what is most important to Chloe and Oliver. I do appreciate your feedback.
This is How Marriages End
This is How Families Grow
This is How Friendships Last
This is How Oliver Survives
This is How Lois Becomes
This is How Shadows Conceal
This is How Mothers Talk
This is How Walls Crumble
This is How Lives Begin
This is How Hearts Soar
This is How Mia Returned
This is How They Choose
As legends went, perhaps the most legendary to every child are the mothers who sang their children to sleep and the fathers who lifted little boys and girls up high to reach for a blossom on a tree or that stray ball caught up in the braches. To Chloe, certainly, a child had not been a dream until she lost one. Oliver definitely did not speak about raising a family in the too short time they had before they lost each other.
Although it was hard to think of the rest of the world the moment she and Oliver were together—and it was very much like being together was enough, Chloe told herself to remember that whatever it was that happened five years ago impacted more than her and Oliver.
She saw it in the way that Bart's eyes lit up when he walked into her new Watchtower for the first time. Chloe heard it in Victor's voice when he called to check in. She felt it in the way that AC grasped her arm in that fluke power outage that sealed her inside the safehouse and required her to jump out the window of the ground floor. The evidence in Dinah's life sat swinging his legs on the island bar stool, grinning up at her with such mischief in his eyes that Chloe was almost afraid to ask how he was.
Most of all, outside the world that she and Oliver had made for themselves, Chloe saw it in Lois and Clark's home. She had not paid much attention during the visit that she, Oliver and Connor had done before her spur of the moment wedding. With Lois and Clark's son safely tucked away in Martha's Washington house for his monthly visit, it had been less obvious. Chloe had been so focused on her insistence of recovery that she had failed to pay attention to little details that when summed together became so much more.
Chloe stood in front of the framed photograph where Lois stood in the circle of Clark's arms. She wore a dress that hugged her form in that sleek and fashionable manner that Lois loved.
And there was that picture on the table where the lamp was, a precious photograph of Lois and Clark's son. Chloe picked it up and grinned at the sight of the puckered brow. Even at a few hours old the little Kent was as worried as the older Kent.
"You would have been his godmother."
Chloe looked up and acknowledged the words with a nod. There was no need to go back. Everyone knew how unfair life had been. There was no need to process it.
Connor jumped from the high stool with such zeal and courage that Chloe stifled a squeal of panic. The boy marvelously landed on his feet. Chloe looked towards where the boy ran and discovered the reason for the haste.
"Relax, Chlo," Lois said offhand, chuckling when Connor reached her son. "Boys will be boys and you're just going to stress yourself by expecting them to behave."
Chloe bit her bottom lip. The boys had only just started interacting last month. It was no surprise to find out from Oliver that Lois did not set up playdates with Connor. It surprised her even less than Oliver never offered. She had looked at Lois' son once and was shocked to see green eyes meet hers from beneath uneven dark brown bangs that Lois proclaimed was her work. In an effort towards levity and dark humor Lois said, to Clark's discomfort, "If you ever start to wonder how your kid would have looked like if you and Clark ever went for it, that's your answer."
A tad inappropriate, but still pretty harmless. That was Lois Lane in a nutshell.
Lois and Clark made a kid who looked like Chloe, and Chloe perfectly understood why Oliver would not have had his son hanging out with the kid. She understood even more why Dinah never insisted on it.
Andrew. At least when Lois named the kid after her cousin she chose to adapt Chloe's middle name. Anne turned to Andrew was so much less obvious than figuring out a way to masculinize the name Chloe.
Oliver had taken Mia on a trip to see his friend in Switzerland, in an institute he trusted enough to believe its claims for a way to reverse the effects that HIV had on the body. In the two weeks since Mia told them about her illness, Oliver had scoured the medical facilities in the United States and across the world until he landed on Switzerland. And in his absence there was one man he trusted enough to take care of his family.
It had been perfect, really.
Simple enough to ensure that Lois kept an eye on the boys; easy enough to call Tess in from the castle. When Chloe made her way out the house though the backdoor, she met Clark's eyes as he looked up from where he worked at the hood of the car. Chloe stopped with her hand on the door knob.
Clark—who was closer to Oliver now than he had been with her. Clark—who five years had changed into someone else.
"Are you putting yourself in danger?" was the simple question he asked her.
Chloe released the breath she held, then emphatically shook her head. "I'm trying to find a way for Mia to get better." It was what Oliver was doing too. Clark should not find anything wrong with that.
To her statement, Clark replied, "You always have the best intentions, Chlo. I know that. But what I really need to know is whether or not you're endangering yourself, so I know if I should let you go where you're going."
"Oliver asked you to keep us safe while he's away, Clark. He didn't ask you to be my warden." His brows rose, and Chloe remembered the look on his face as something she used to really adore—that asking, knowing, but silent look—like he was just simply communicating that being a warden equated to keeping her safe. Countless accidents and rescues since they were teenagers said so much. And still even though she knew that, and knew she pretty much lost his loyalty to her husband, Chloe pressed on, "Last I heard, he was leaving us with family friends. Not in a prison." When Clark straightened and folded his arms across his chest, Chloe shook her head and sighed. Stubbornness. It was the trait Clark possessed that Lois always admired when she called his constant. "Fine. No, Clark. I am not putting myself in danger."
Clark nodded. "Good. In that case, Tess is waiting over at the barn."
Besides Connor was safe in the house with Lois. He was half fulfilling his promise. And as if Tess would ever seriously hurt her. Sure, Tess did not like Chloe much, but Tess' dislike equated with her sheer fear of an angry Oliver Queen. Everything balanced out quite nicely.
Chloe murmured reluctant thanks, then made her way to the barn. She glanced back into the house and made sure that the two boys were playing nice, and that Lois was preoccupied. Chloe walked towards the barn and looked around, then found Tess standing at the loft. Chloe climbed the wooden steps. At the sound of her footsteps Tess stepped closer towards the steps. Tess' red lips curved.
"Mrs Queen," Tess greeted pointedly, just as Chloe had reminded to address her.
"Miss Mercer," Chloe said in return.
At the use of the name, Tess' eyebrow arched. "I heard you were expecting. That certainly seems to be the case. You look like you've added a few pounds."
Chloe's eyes narrowed. She reached the top step. "How would you know? The last time you saw me was five years ago." She stepped forward. The travel to Smallville, even in the private jet, along with the pregnancy, made her tired, so she sat on the sofa that Clark still kept in the loft. Even on friendly terms, she was still unwilling to show Tess any weakness, so she parried with, "I'm lighter now than I was the last time we talked, Tess. And I'm a little over three months pregnant. I'm not even showing yet. You just want to insult me."
Tess chuckled. "You look fine. I was just testing how acerbic your tongue still is."
"You were being a bitch," Chloe retorted. She broke into a tentative smile. Chloe nodded at the folder than Tess held. "Is that my information?"
"It's mine, but I am generously handing it over to you."
When Tess extended the folder, Chloe took it and leafed through the handful of papers contained within. Her brows drew together. Her heart sank.
"Of all the metahumans that Lex researched, there was only one with the abilities that you specified. Lex managed to expunge all identifying documentation for that healer, Chloe."
"That healer is me," Chloe said quietly. More daunting than the fact that her vital information—if not her name—was still in Lex's database easily accessible by anyone with the right access and a few clues was the realization that her search had ended in failure. Mia couldn't use her. "I lost my abilities."
"I know," Tess declared. And then, Tess held up a small card to her with small typeface—a name and an address. "I figured that when you asked about people who can jumpstart lost abilities." She had to give it to the woman. If she had not been Oliver's ex-girlfriend they would probably have bonded a long time ago. Tess' brain jumped and connected evil little dots so quickly Chloe swore the propensity was in that woman's blood. "Since apparently you're one of a kind—and not just for Oliver—I found someone who will make you a little bit more special again."
Chloe reached for the card. One look and she could memorize the name and the address, know exactly how long it would take to contact the metahuman and get what she needed. She would determine after a quick research if the best approach was through the heart, by telling the meta about a sick young woman with so much potential. If the meta turned out to have a ruined life, then it was far easier. She had all the money in the world to offer.
Tess snatched back the card before Chloe could even read the name properly. Before she could protest, Tess leaned forward. "Oliver doesn't know about this, does he?"
"If he did, do you think I would have waited for Oliver to be out of the country so I could meet you in Clark's barn?"
Tess' lips thinned. "I don't like this. Believe it or not, Chloe, Oliver and I struck an understanding a long time ago." She shook her head, then folded up the card and slipped it into her pocket. "Tell Oliver, and then you can have the name."
Chloe abruptly stood up. "Give me the name, Tess."
Chloe's eyes widened. "Are you serious?"
In the time she had been missing Chloe had lost her best friend to Oliver. She could not believe even Tess Mercer was siding with Oliver. Then again Oliver broke her heart and Chloe had almost gotten her killed. It was a hard choice.
"You didn't see Oliver when you went missing. I am not going to be the reason that he has to go through that again. The man's been through enough, don't you think?" Tess pointed out.
Chloe hated it when her options were taken away from her. Most of all, she felt ill at ease when there were presumptions about what she felt for her husband. Just because she left.
"And I'm making sure he doesn't have to go through even more," she said firmly. "You don't know everything, Tess. I need to make sure that I can heal. Just in case."
It was for a beat or two that Tess stared at Chloe wordlessly until she licked her lips. "Is it Connor, Dinah?"
"You don't know her. It's Mia."
At that, Tess gave a bitter smile. "I know Mia. Oliver's good deed when he was down in his luck."
"Try in the clutches of hell," Chloe added. "She's sick, Tess." She hated sharing the information with Tess, but at the drop of the name, Chloe knew that Tess would have the details of Mia's illness within an hour. "If you know Mia, then you know how it will impact Oliver if she doesn't get better."
"That doesn't compare to what will happen to Oliver if something happens to you," Tess pointed out.
"I always survive. That's the brilliant part," she assured Tess.
When Tess looked at her with an arched brow, Chloe realized that Tess had read the test results on the nameless healer in Lex's file. "This isn't an injury. This is a disease. You've never healed a disease. And you know as well as I do that with every injury you healed, it took you longer to recover."
"That doesn't mean I shouldn't try."
Chloe sighed in relief when Tess handed her the folded card.
"Swear you won't do a thing until you discuss it with Oliver."
"I'm always going to choose the option that causes the least pain for Oliver, Tess. Don't you ever doubt that," Chloe answered.
Tess released the card, and immediately Chloe memorized the name and the address in case the information was lost to her again. Tess cocked her head to the side, assessing her to the point that despite the number of times Chloe told herself she did not care what this woman thought, Chloe stifled under the judgment in her eyes.
"Do you still think he's going to leave, Chloe?"
At the words, Chloe looked up in surprise. She felt the flush rise in her cheeks at the question.
"For heaven's sake, Chloe, the man couldn't make any other relationship work, got back together with you immediately after you came back." Tess shook her head. "You still think he'll leave?"
"Not willingly," Chloe returned. She figured it was best to be honest. She was talking to the woman he reluctantly but insightfully made her face up to what she had with Oliver a long time ago. "But I know what Oliver values the most. I know what he's capable of when that's threatened. I know what happens when things go out of his control."
His guilt over his part in Jimmy's death had brought him so far down, so awfully down, and Chloe never wanted to see that again. Even the terrible fear in him when Connor got food poisoning…
Oliver never did well when things escaped him. Now he was intent on finding a cure for Mia. Chloe shuddered to think about what she would see when he came home with nothing to show for his trip.
If she was going to lose Oliver, it was to himself.
She slipped the card into her pocket, then nodded towards Tess. When the woman asked if she wanted to see the Watchtower, Chloe shook her head. That was Tess' now. She had her own in Star City, back at home. Chloe returned to the Kent home.
The sight of Lois' son working on a drawing while Connor frowned down at the picture he had already finished brought a smile to her lips. "Nice job, cuz."
"I do magic!" Lois declared happily. "Especially when I have the bribing power of rocky road ice cream in the freezer."
Chloe walked towards the dining room table that had been turned into an art corner. Out of habit she reached forward and smoothed Connor's forehead with her fingers.
"Why do you look so glum, Connor? It's a rocking picture."
There was Connor holding a small figure in his hands—Chloe figured it was one or some other type of dinosaur which she would not name because she was bound to get it wrong anyway. Dinah sat in one corner of the picture. She herself was depicted working on a laptop computer, sitting behind a desk. Oliver seemed to be sitting in a small jet, piloting it himself. Obviously Connor did not want the hassle of drawing the corporate jet that Oliver frequently used. Mia sat at the back, and Chloe's chest tightened at how easily Mia fit into Connor's family portrait.
"Baby boys or baby girls?" he asked.
And then Chloe recognized the two crayons that Connor had set aside—pink and blue. It was an unfinished picture until he could draw in his brother, sister, both or two of each.
"We don't know yet, Connor." She grinned and pecked the boy's cheek. "But any which way we do, I promise you will be so happy."
"Girls," he pronounced yet again his preference. Connor wielded the pink crayon and proceeded to paint a wall on the picture pink. Chloe supposed that would be the nursery.
Chloe threw a helpless look at Lois, who shrugged at her.
"That's Oliver's conversation to have," Lois offered. Chloe narrowed her eyes and called her cousin a coward a dozen times over in her head. "Believe it or not, a boy will listen to his father more when discussing siblings."
Chloe turned to her cousin. The tiredness that had settled in the small of her back from the time that Oliver had dropped them off had turned into a constant, dull ache now. "How do you know that, Lo? You and Clark discussing another one?"
Lois' eyes grew wide. "You're kidding. I can hardly manage Andrew."
Chloe stifled a laugh when the boy looked up at his mother, then gave her a gummy grin. She then thought of the impossible things that Clark had done as a teenager and wondered when those amazing abilities would manifest. If Lois thought that the kid was a handful now…
She yawned. The dull ache would not go until she lay down a bit for some rest.
"You want to turn in early tonight, Connor?"
At the invitation, Connor put down his crayons and raised his arms out to her. Chloe bit her lower lip. She had almost forgotten Connor's new kick of clinging to her and asking to be carried around since the hospital. Only this time Oliver was not present to take him from her, and Mia was not there to substitute.
"You'll be a big brother soon," Chloe told him. "Why don't you hold my hand and we can go up the stairs together?"
At that, Connor wriggled his arms up. Chloe sighed, understanding perfectly how Connor would want the connection even more. It was still a strange house. Clark and Lois were still not as familiar to him as his parents, or even the team members who he usually saw in Star City.
"Connor, why don't I carry you up?" Lois suggested.
Chloe glanced at her cousin and saw Lois looking at her with concern. She would not push back on the child's request for small reasons, and Lois knew that.
"You're Andrew's mommy," Connor declared. He clutched at Chloe's hand and tugged.
"It's alright, Lois."
Chloe gathered up Connor in her arms and hefted him up. Connor's arms and legs wrapped around her almost at once. Chloe grunted. "Oh my goodness," she gasped lightly. "You're really becoming a big brother, Connor. You're heavy now."
Chloe made her way to the boys' shared room and tucked Connor in with another story. Connor liked stories about superheroes beating evil bald man, and Chloe had perfected the art of adlibbing narratives depending on what Connor contributed to the story. Suddenly she wanted a little girl too, just like what Connor preferred. At least then she could probably make up princess stories that Connor absolutely abhorred.
When Connor fell asleep, Chloe leaned forward and kissed his forehead.
"I love you, Connor," she whispered.
In his sleep the boy responded with a murmured, "Love you too."
Chloe stood up, then gasped as the pain in her lower back throbbed. She took a few deep breaths and then straightened just in time to see Lois stop at the doorway. "That's another thing you should get Oliver to talk to him about."
"He's a kid in a strange house," Chloe said automatically, defending Connor.
"And you're a little over five feet tall, pregnant with the spawns of a man who's more than a foot taller than you. Giant babies, Chlo. You can't be lugging around another one of Oliver's freakishly tall children."
She would have argued with Lois, but the dull throbbing in her back was constant and bothersome now. Chloe excused herself and made her way to the bathroom. She leaned back against the sink and then splashed cold water on her face. Chloe sat on the toilet seat cover and then pulled up her skirt. Then she took a deep breath and then pushed her panties down. Chloe took a deep breath, then fixed her underwear and skirt. Chloe ignored the throbbing pain, knew only to direct herself as she went to the guest bedroom and took her bag, ensured her wallet and her phone were inside.
She glanced back into the boys' bedroom and saw that Clark had carried a sleeping Andrew in and Lois was carefully tucking her son to bed.
"Clark, is your truck fixed?"
Clark looked back up at her and nodded. "Yeah. You need to make a quick drive to Main Street?"
"Actually, I need you to drive me. Lo, can you stay with the boys?"
Lois frowned. "Of course." Chloe swore her cousin was itching to come with them to find out what was so urgent when it was night.
"Craving something?" Clark asked cheerfully. He grabbed the keys from the nightstand. "Where are we off to?"
When they were on their way down the stairs, Chloe grabbed Clark's arm and asked him to slow down a little. "I need you to take me to Smallville General." Chloe took her phone from her bag. Her heart was beating heavily in her chest. Still, she calmly called Oliver. Clark assisted her up to the seat of the truck. His eyes flickered over to her frequently as he drove.
It was a bad time to call. She did not even check what time it was in Switzerland.
Even so, Oliver answered her call.
"Turning in early?" he asked, assuming she was calling to say goodnight.
"I was about to. Change of plans. I don't want you to worry, but I wanted to let you know. And I hope you can move up your flight schedule. Maybe get in as soon as you can and not wait to fly until the afternoon."
At those words, Oliver's side of the conversation quieted. And then quickly, he asked, his voice tense, "What's wrong, Chloe?"
She wondered how fast Clark was driving, because she could already see the lights of Smallville General from a distance. "I'm spotting," she relayed, keeping her tone light, her voice calm. With Oliver in a whole other continent it would be unfair to burden him like this, but she expected Oliver to be open to her about his problems and she could not play by another rule. "I've been having some mild discomfort since you dropped us off at Smallville. The ache hasn't gone away and when I checked a few minutes ago I saw some spots of blood on my panties."
She heard the noises in the background, recognized the comforting sounds that told her that Oliver was coming. "I'll be right there."
If she was a little braver, she would probably have insisted that he did not need to hurry back home. Instead she said, "Alright."
"I swear I'll be right there."
"I know." Damn that hitch in her throat when she replied.
"Did you ask Clark to take you to the hospital?"
She nodded until belatedly it occurred to her that he could not see her gesture. "Smallville General."
"That's my girl," he murmured. "If they think you can be moved ask them to take you to MetGen."
The truck stopped in front of the hospital. Clark jumped off the truck.
"Yeah," she breathed.
"I love you."
"I love you too," she returned.
Clark opened the door on her side. Chloe hung up the phone with Oliver and imagined him hurriedly contacting his pilot and waking Mia up so they could fly home. Clark helped her to the hospital and Chloe lay back down on the hospital bed.
Her last name did not give her as much of an instant recognition as it did in MetGen. Even though she hated inequality, suddenly Chloe could not even dare not to take advantage of it. She sat up on the hospital bed and grabbed the clipboard of the nurse who attended to her and explained the wait time.
"My husband is Oliver Queen," she said quietly, calmly, not putting anger in her voice. But she needed a doctor, needed someone to assuage her fears, needed someone to show her that the babies were alright. "And it might not mean too much to you. You know the Luthors, don't you?" The nurse nodded. The Luthor always received priority treatment in that hospital. "You know how rich they are?" This time the question was redundant. "Well, my husband bought out LuthorCorp and it's a fraction of his portfolio. That's how important I am." When the nurse did not move, Chloe narrowed her eyes. "Now please get someone to check on me."
She glanced back towards the door and was surprised to find that Clark had left.
Chloe waited for the ultrasound machine and replied to the doctor's questions. When the ultrasound did not show movement, she firmly told the woman to try again. Finally, Chloe heard the rapid heartbeats, saw the movement of the hearts on the screen.
She lay back on the bed.
"They're okay," she whispered. "Why was I bleeding?"
"Spotting," the doctor corrected her. "I wouldn't say that it's a normal occurrence, but it does happen. Usually it's caused by stress, exhaustion. The pregnancy is safe right now, but this does show you that you need to manage yourself. Or else you're going to lose those babies, Mrs Queen."
Finally, she was alone. Chloe closed her eyes.
She had handled that so well.
Chloe slipped her hand into her pocket and crumpled in her first the card she took from Tess, then tossed the ball towards the trash can. She would apologize to Mia. In her head. But nothing was going to endanger her kids. Not even the slightest chance.
She was going to let Mia die. Or at least she was not actively going to seek out someone who could provide her with the abilities to heal Mia.
But this was not just her life now. She was having twins. And right that moment she realized just how fragile they were.
Finally, she felt a heaving sob escape her. Chloe felt the first bubble of a cry from her throat. Her eyes, which were so clear when she watched the screen like a hawk for the ultrasound images of those hearts, filled with tears. Her voice, which had been so strong, broke when she started to cry. She turned to her side and cried into the pillow. She was sobbing, shuddering, shaking.
And then someone was pulling her up, gathering her in strong arms. Chloe looked up and saw Oliver, with a slight grayish tint to his face. She saw Clark standing at the door and knew at once that Clark had sped Oliver back home.
Finally, she didn't have to be strong and in control, just for a little bit, and she could just be scared and relieved at the same time because Oliver was there to be in control for her. She clung to him with her arms tight around his neck.
"Chloe," he whispered.
"They're okay," she breathed.
His stance relaxed, but he did not release her. She burrowed deeper into him and sobbed, and he let her. "I was so scared," she admitted. "You weren't here."
Chloe looked up at him, recognized the regret in his eyes. "It's okay." He was finding a way to cure Mia, just like she was.
"It's not," he said quietly. "It's not okay, Chloe. I should have been here. When I married you, I promised we'd share everything, Chloe. I don't get to skip out on the most difficult parts. This was one of those." He took a deep breath. "I won't leave you like that again."
His hand was warm on her belly. Chloe closed her hand over his. She raised her head and their lips melded together in a kiss. He would research as much as possible, help figure out a way to clean Mia's blood. But right then, Chloe recognized the gravity of the promise. He was not going to be scouring the world for the cure himself, would not leave his family behind to prioritize Mia's case. He would spend, as much as he could, to provide Mia with the maintenance medication she needed, but would not himself be finding ways to cure her.
He was, essentially, choosing them over Mia.
"I'm sorry, Ollie."
He shook his head, then kissed her again. Chloe met the quiet intensity of his gaze when he said, "I love you."
Nothing—no one—even came close.