Disclaimer: I own nothing. The title/lyrics are from a song of the same title by Stars.
Warning: This is pretty much all alt-verse. For this story to be plausible, I mess with the ages; Oliver is three years older than Chloe, and Lois is two-and-a-half years older than her cousin. Please also note that there is a chance the rating may change in a couple chapter.
Author Note: I wasn't going to start posting this until February, but I'm having a crappy week and I needed a pick-me-up. I don't know how often I'll be updating because the story keeps mutating on me, but I wanted to put this chapter out there and see if anyone likes the idea.
If I am lost for a day, try to find me
But if I don't come back then I won't look behind me
To this day, Chloe Sullivan never understood the appeal of nightclubs. Or why anyone would want a fake ID to get into them. Lois insisted that Chloe deserved one night of fun and she knew someone who could get them inside the hottest club in Star City, but the loud music, the excuse they call dancing, and the line of lowest common denominator company wasn't exactly Chloe's definition of a good time.
The only reason Chloe obliged her cousin was because she felt guilty for forgetting Lois' birthday while she was focused on unpacking her bags and getting used to the California atmosphere. Grateful for a last-minute place to stay, Chloe thought one night out couldn't hurt, but even though most of her night was spent keeping an eye on Lois, Chloe was by no means alone. No, Lois had used tonight as an excuse to send a seemingly unending line of 'gentlemen' her way, forcing Chloe to live through some of the most annoying pick-up lines she had ever heard.
Each guy was supposed to change her life, or change her mind about love and men in general. The latest, Ryan... Jeremy... Matt... Honestly, it didn't matter to Chloe that she had forgotten his name because it was clear that he had no intention of remembering hers. He was telling Chloe about his imminent trip to the moon and out of anyone to spend his last night on Earth, he chose her. Chloe couldn't help but roll her eyes at the story while wondering if all girls in Star City were this easy.
Having enough, she turned to the guy and politely said, "No thanks." She tried to get up and leave, but he put his arm around her back and pushed her back into the seat.
"What? You think you're too good for me?"
The short answer was yes, but that wasn't going to help her. "No..." Looking around for Lois, Chloe noticed she was nowhere in sight, so she said the first thing she thought of. "I'm here with someone."
He scoffed, clearly unconvinced, and Chloe couldn't say that she blamed him. "Yeah right, I've seen guys hanging around you all night."
"They've also left without getting anywhere." It was true, most of them had taken the hint long before this point, but for some reason, he didn't. He was persistent, Chloe was willing to give him that much.
"Where is he? Point him out and I'll leave you alone."
"He's not here yet."
"Not good enough sweet-cheeks."
She shut her eyes in pain over the pet name given to her. Chloe was hoping it wouldn't have come down to this, but she had no choice. Scanning the club, her eyes desperately looked for a guy to blow this one off. And then she saw him.
Chloe held the word "Wow" from escaping her lips as she eyed a blonde guy sitting at a table across the room. If Lois had sent someone like that her way, she probably would have cared what he said a little longer.
He seemed to be the only guy in the place that took pride in his appearance... for one, it looked like he actually showered. There were no holes in his jeans and his shirt accented his brown eyes that seem to hypnotize her even though he wasn't looking in her direction. Finishing his look was a tailored forest green leather jacket, which Chloe thought made him look out of place. But then again, so did she... which might work to her advantage.
Normally, Chloe would shrug the idea off because she usually thought guys like him weren't interested in her, but tonight, she had been the centre of attention, so her confidence was higher than usual.
Confident enough that he would buy into her ploy? She'd have to find out, but worst case scenario, he was built enough to jolt the jerk.
She placed her fingers around her glass and took a deep breath before getting up from her seat. "Silly me, he's sitting over there."
Chloe starting walking towards him, unfortunately, with the other guy in tow. The blonde eventually saw her approaching him, so she tilted her head back and mouthed 'Help me' hoping he would get the idea.
Fortunately, the guy smiled as he stood up to walk towards her. Maybe this was going to work after all, she thought, although Chloe couldn't believe she was about to hug a complete stranger. "You were supposed to call me when you got here."
As she backed away, he kissed her cheek, and Chloe could feel her cheeks warming up. She wasn't expecting that much PDA. Then he dialled it up a notch as he stroked her arm gently.
"The place is crowded tonight; I tried finding you after my phone died."
Refusing to even face the guy that had wasted so much of her time, Chloe simply muttered, "Satisfied?" and snickered as he huffed and walked away.
It was then that Chloe realized that she never planned her idea this far. Sure, the guy left, but now she had a completely different guy in her eyesight... one who had been nice enough to help... one she wasn't so sure she wanted to scare away.
She tried to stay calm, letting a hesitant smile come across her face. "Yeah...Thanks for that..."
"Oliver. Nice to meet you."
"Pleasure's all mine. I'm Chloe." She paused and looked around, but still refused to meet his eyes. "Well... I should probably let you get back." She tried to walk away, but his voice interrupted her movements.
"Maybe you should stick around... keep the wolves away."
Finally looking up, Chloe's eyes quickly lit up as she noticed him grinning at her. Chloe realized that was an opportunity to talk to a guy without Lois' influence. Besides, she figured it wouldn't hurt to try and see if at least one guy in Star City was capable of conversing.
"I think that's probably a good idea."
Oliver gestured her over to his table before he sat down. "Is that a common occurrence for you?"
"Not usually, but my cousin sent a parade of guys my way so I had to take a stand."
He titled his head slightly and said, "Well, you don't exactly look like this place's average client... which is a good thing, but it does garner some attention from less-than-perfect people."
"And the reason you're here is...?"
After a moment of deliberation, Oliver shrugged. "I'm a guy."
Chloe couldn't help but chuckle at that statement. "Right. The great American dream. Cheap drinks and cheap women."
"It sounds a lot worse when you put it that way."
"The truth hurts." She sipped her coke, refusing to go too high above the law. Besides, Chloe had seen the effects of alcohol on people and she wasn't sure it was worth the trouble. "So what's your day job?"
"I'm studying to take over the family business." There was a hint of sadness in Oliver's voice and it didn't get past Chloe.
"Sounds like you wished you had another choice."
Oliver's mouth twitched as he swirled his drink. "Sometimes."
"Strict guidelines from the parents, I guess."
"I'm afraid they're not around to give me guidelines."
"You mean... I'm sorry."
"You didn't know... don't worry about it." After a long pause, Chloe could tell that Oliver was desperate to change the conversation,
"So… are you always helping out damsels in distress?"
"Depends… should I be looking forward to what that guy went through?"
Chloe spoke up quickly. "Probably not. You're the first guy that hasn't fed me some insufferable pick-up line. Are all women in Star City so easy that a lie about flying off to space is enough for them to sleep with a complete stranger?"
Oliver raised an eyebrow. "You're new in town?"
"Yeah... just moved here a couple of weeks ago."
"What brings you here?"
"On the record, the aforementioned cousin and the journalism program at SCU. Off it, I'm trying to start fresh... get away from the problems of my old life."
"Hence why your cousin is sending guys in your direction." Oliver chuckled as he titled back his drink. "Love dealt you a tough deck huh?"
Eyes skyward, Chloe tried to hold herself together in front of a stranger. For years, she had pinned over her best friend when she was, and always would be, second place in his life. Chloe always figured seeing them together would be healthier for her heart because she wouldn't have as many conversations about their supposed unrequited feelings for each other. But it was worse.
It's often said that actions speak louder than words, and Chloe saw the one moment she never wanted to, even if it was for just a moment. So to say that love had dealt her a tough deck would be an understatement.
"You have no idea." She let out a sigh, frustrated at how she was already cracking thanks to only an indirect mention of Clark. This was going to be a long year at this rate.
"You'd be surprised."
When he spoke those words, Chloe noticed the subtle change in Oliver's voice. She could hardly believe that a guy like Oliver would have a tumultuous love life, but then again, it couldn't be that great if he was still sitting with her.
"I can't tell you without sounding like an egomaniac... or a jerk."
"Alright, I'll let you off easy." As curious as she was, it wasn't any of her business, and Chloe was optimistic that their conversation would change direction if she didn't press matters.
Unfortunately for Chloe, Oliver had different plans. "I'm not." Seeing the glare Chloe gave him, Oliver continued. "What? It's clear that you want to get this off your chest and talking about my problems won't give you closure." He shifted in his seat to look out at the crowds. "You can never fully get rid of the scars from your past, but they'll never heal if you refuse to accept them."
Chloe sighed, he had a point. It was frustrating, and she couldn't voice it to Lois, whose only solution for heartbreak was to grind against the next guy she saw. Chloe loved Lois, but her cousin's tactics weren't exactly her style. But the fact Oliver could narrow her down so easily made Chloe a little nervous.
"I didn't think I was that transparent."
Seeing the defeat in her eyes, Oliver replied, "You're not... but I know what it's like to have no one to listen to you. If you feel uncomfortable talking to me about it, that's fine… I get it. But despite what you might hear about me, I'm actually a good listener and I won't tell it to anyone… not that I know anyone to tell it to."
Chloe peered in his direction and saw the honesty in his expression. He got it... Oliver really understood her. She had spent numerous years with Clark and Lana being the listener, but not once did they want to listen about her troubles. She was the forgotten middleman... middlewoman? Didn't matter, whatever it was called, she was sick of it.
Sighing, Chloe realized it was her turn, and if Oliver was willing to listen, then this was the best chance for closure that she would get.
"A few years ago, I believed in all that crap... made myself believe that I was good enough for someone, but just when I thought the moment was right, he sped away to be with someone else... and he would continue to do so. It took until last year for me to realize that and I had to get away."
Chloe looked up, waiting for Oliver's reaction, but his eyes were on a girl in the distance gesturing for him to come over. Great, she thought, so much for being a good listener. She should have known this was too good to be true.
But soon after, she felt his hand atop of hers, and when she turned to face him again, Oliver was shaking his head at the girl. Staring at their hands as Oliver slowly interlocked their fingers together, Chloe felt relieved that not only was he sticking around, but also that she wasn't the only one turning away people tonight.
Masking her relief with a subtle laugh, Chloe asked, "That one belong to you?"
"Belong is an interesting word choice... but no...that one is holding for dear life that I'll give her a second chance when it was clear she just wanted my platinum card the first time around."
"So you're telling me that I just hit the jackpot?" Chloe smirked at him, even though that was the furthest thing from her intention of talking with Oliver.
"Maybe, except you're not that kind of girl."
"You've known me for ten minutes, how would you know?"
Taking a sip of his drink, Oliver admitted, "Because I've been watching you."
"Not sure I should feel flattered or concerned by that comment." Chloe leaned back in her chair, but her gaze never left Oliver.
"I can't answer that for you, but like I said, you're different, therefore you draw attention."
"How am I different?"
"Most girls come here wanting to show off their assets, yet you're wearing a complete t-shirt, a pencil skirt, and sensible shoes."
Chloe laughed at his use of 'complete' because he was right. The majority of girls were hardly wearing anything over their bras, that is, if they were wearing one at all. "A valid point, but leaving something to a guy's imagination is hardly a way to say that you know me."
"Maybe not...but it clearly dictates that you prefer substance over style."
"Well, you're not exactly low-class company either."
"Why, thank you."
At the sight of his widening grin, Chloe let a smile crack through. "I just upped your already massive ego didn't I?"
"Who says it's massive?"
Her expression faded slightly as she withdrew her hand to point towards where the girl had been standing. "The way you sit in this place and the way you can just brush off people."
"That's no different from what you did."
Chloe bit her tongue and rolled her eyes. "No, I guess not."
"That's okay... I guess we're both good at reading people." After taking a sip, Oliver rotated the chair so it lined up with the table. "So anyway, you were saying…"
"Right… my old life." Chloe shook her head and moved a loose curl behind her ear.
Seeing her discomfort, Oliver said, "If you don't want to do this –"
Chloe quietly interrupted, "No, it's okay."
For the next hour, Oliver listened to her rant about some of the things that she had kept bottled up for years. She felt a little embarrassed letting her feelings loose, but she felt like she could trust Oliver. The guy had no confidence issues, but he knew how to tone it down. What a change, Chloe thought, having someone who actually cared how she was feeling, even though he didn't have to.
Eventually, the conversation changed to life on campus, as Oliver filled Chloe in on the dos-and-don'ts of the parties and social events, even filling her in on some of his nightmarish teachers. After a while, they just talked as if they were two old friends catching up. The conversations came and went naturally with a flow that doesn't normally exist in situations like these.
Breaking from their simultaneous laughter, Oliver slammed his glass on the table and grinned. "Well, Chloe, I can tell you that guy totally missed out."
"The other girl wasn't that bad... she was my friend."
Oliver's expression softened. "Doesn't mean that she was the better choice."
Chloe shrugged. "Oh well, it really doesn't matter. I'm done fighting that battle."
He lifted his empty glass slightly and chuckled. "I'd drink to that... but it looks like I'm empty, can I get you another drink?"
"Just a coke, if you wouldn't mind."
"You're the DD?"
"Something like that." Chloe didn't want to explain to Oliver how she had been here illegally.
"Alright, comin' right up."
Chloe watched Oliver head to the bar with an unexpected grin on her face. She honestly wasn't expecting to find someone worth her time tonight, but Oliver had changed her mind. However, the smile was quick to fade when she heard a familiar female voice behind her.
"There you are, I've been looking everywhere for you."
Chloe shifted herself in the chair to face her cousin with her all-too-known mischievous expression on her face. She only hoped that Lois didn't see her talking with Oliver because Chloe knew that Lois would never let her live it down.
"The feeling's mutual, Lois. I thought we were supposed to spend some cousin time together and you completely abandon me."
"But you did have fun, right?"
Peering in the direction where she last saw Oliver. "I was able to salvage the evening, no thanks to you."
"Okay, let's get out of here."
Pulling out her coat check tab from her pocket, Chloe handed it to Lois. "I'll be right there."
Lois' eyes narrowed, but fortunately for Chloe, she grabbed the piece of paper and headed for the door. "Alright, but hurry."
When Lois was out of sight, Chloe pulled a pen out of her purse and grabbed the nearest napkin.
Thanks for being my knight in shining leather,
Sure it was cheesy, but it was the least she could do after Oliver saved her night.
She stared at it for another moment, wondering if she should write her number on the napkin. Having a good guy friend around would help her forget about Clark, but the last thing she needed was a sequel to their disastrous friendship.
So she stood up and took her time heading over to the coat check, where she found Lois ready to leave. Chloe grabbed her coat and took one last look into the crowd. She had low expectations for the evening, but it hadn't been a complete waste. But Chloe felt nervous as her feet met the outdoor pavement because Lois wouldn't stop grinning at her.
"Well, I hoped that you enjoyed that because you're not pulling that kind of stunt on me again." Seeing that her cousin's expression didn't change, Chloe stopped and turned to face Lois. "What?"
"What else? Details!"
"About how you paraded men to me like I was open for business?"
"No, not about that. You knew who you were sitting with, didn't you?"
Chloe sighed in defeat, she knew there was no point trying to pull anything with Lois. "You mean Oliver?"
Lois ruffled her hand through Chloe's hair. "I mean Oliver Queen, CEO of Queen Industries. I knew you had it in you Chlo, but I didn't think you'd catch the city's most eligible bachelor on your first night on the town."
Pushing Lois' arm away, Chloe took a couple steps away from her cousin. "I didn't catch anything." However, the truth stung Chloe. "Oliver mentioned that he had to take over the family business, but he didn't exactly tell me his net worth. Besides, I only met him to shoo a random guy away and we talked for a while… now I really know why the guy bolted."
"He's pretty famous in the tabs, I'm surprised you never heard of him."
"Come on Lo, it's not like I have time to read that trash."
"Hey, that's my job right now. I didn't make fun of your articles for the Torch."
"Those things actually happen, Lois. Smallville is famous for the weird and unexplained. But I have a hard time believing that you actually enjoy writing about cocktail parties and on-again off-again relationships."
Unfortunately, Lois wasn't willing to let Chloe off the hook that easily. " Did you at least leave him your number when you wrote your note?"
"Lois, you were supposed to be getting our coats."
"Oh come on, this is me we're talking about. You had to know that I'd keep an eye on you the entire night."
It was this moment that Chloe's insecurities kicked in again. "Just said thanks."
Lois pointed at Chloe as she opened her car door. "But you thought about it."
Pulling her door open, Chloe took one last look at her cousin before sitting down. "Even if I did… a guy like him...it's not likely he'll remember my name in an hour."