A/N - First a note to all the Bones fans who have me on author alert - this is a story about the Smallville fandom, specifically a fanfic on the Chlollie (Chloe and Oliver) relationship. If you don't know about it, you should really check out a Chlollie video or two on YouTube. The characters are wonderfully complicated, rather like Booth and Brennan, and the 'ship has so many, many possibilities that it's a dream for fanfic writers. I will have an update on 'Dungeon' by tomorrow - it would have been up before now but Chapters 40 and 41 bit the dust during a McAfee file cleanup and it took a couple of weeks for me to have the time to work on them again.
Now, to the Smallville fandom - this is my first foray into writing for Smallville so any constructive feedback would be appreciated. I don't know the SV world nearly so well as I do Bones, so I'm a bit nervous about this. Chloe has been my favorite character since season 1 though and I hope I capture the characters well. This story picks up shortly after the events of 'Siren' in season 7 and goes AU after that - if there's anyone out there who knows the SV world well and wouldn't mind me bouncing ideas around, asking questions, etc., please let me know. :)
Chloe Sullivan liked to think of herself as an optimist. Sure, there were moments when optimism was overrated and she was, if nothing else, a master at wielding snark at said moments. However, the way her life was going lately gave her a less than rosy view of things. She could feel a headache coming on as she listened to Clark Kent pour his heart out about his current relationship troubles with Lana Lang for what felt like the thousandth time. To say she was tired of being the soundingboard for these heartfelt rants was an understatement and she wondered, also for the thousandth time, if Clark and Lana would ever get their issues straightened out. Preferably before she had to buy stock in a company that produced migraine medications.
"Look, Clark, I understand why you're feeling insecure about the situation with Lana, but don't you think you should be talking to her about this?" Chloe pushed away from her desk and headed to the breakroom. If only there were a way to mainline espresso, she thought wistfully. Now that was a lab effort she could totally be on board with, if only Lex Luthor's endeavors were so innocent.
"I'm sorry," Clark said guiltily. "I know it seems like I dump this on you all the time I just... don't have anyone else to talk to about these things."
Chloe felt herself caving under the force of his puppy dog eyes. Would there ever be a time when he wouldn't affect her like that? She could only pray there would be. She poured coffee into a mug and took a sip, grimacing slightly. Not the best, but she needed the caffeine if she hoped to meet her deadline tonight and she'd had far too little sleep the previous night.
As if reading her thoughts Clark asked, "Are you ok? You seem really out of it today."
Chloe rubbed her fingers against her temple as she leaned back against the counter and took another sip of the strong brew. "I'm fine, I just had a really late night. Oliver needed my help with something."
Clark's expression shifted into one of disapproval. "Chloe, I really don't think it's a good idea for you to get involved with what he's doing. It's dangerous and he didn't exactly look after you so well the last time."
"It's not like I'm suiting up and jumping into the middle of the action," she responded lightly. "Even Oliver agreed after the incident with our little songbird that it was better for me to work behind the scenes. He just needed some technical support, that's all."
Clark snorted. "He has Victor for that. He offered you a place on his team again, didn't he?"
"He offered both of us a place," Chloe pointed out. "Just because I turned down the permanent job offer doesn't mean I can't help him out when he needs it. I'm saving the world and keeping myself in fabulous footwear. I mean come on, Clark, aren't these babies worth it?" She held out a foot to show off the new boots she'd purchased a week ago.
Clark's disapproving look changed to one of amusement and he sighed. "Fine, just let me know if he's into anything more dangerous than usual. I'm assuming they're still shutting down 33.1 locations?"
Chloe nodded, lowering her own voice to match Clark's softer tone. "They found a new one in Germany, so I was running a diagnostic of the location's security last night. Between me and Victor, I'm pretty sure we can shut down the firewall and the security system. Oliver wants to go in tonight, which means I have a couple more hours to finish my article and then I need to get to the Clocktower and set up."
Clark's eyebrows rose into his hairline. "Oliver gave you a keycard to his penthouse? When did that happen?"
Chloe laughed. "Mind out of the gutter, Clark. He gave it to me when I agreed to help him on a freelance basis. It's secure and I don't always have the privacy I need at home with Lois around."
Clark held her gaze thoughtfully and Chloe resisted the urge to squirm. Finally he said, "Why don't I help you with the article? We can get through it faster together and then I'll take you over to the Clocktower."
Chloe raised her eyebrows. "Won't Lana be lonely on the farm without you?"
Clark looked away. "I think we could both use an evening apart right now."
Rather than open that can of worms again, Chloe looped her arm through his. "I won't turn down help from the guy who can speed read." They settled back at her desk and soon they were working quietly but steadily. When Clark got up to refill their coffee cups, she found her mind wandering as she thought back to the night that Oliver had given her the keycard, the same night that Dinah had confronted her on the rooftop of the Daily Planet.
They leaned over the edge of the building, watching as the mysterious woman made her escape. Chloe looked at Oliver as he pushed his hood back and removed his sunglasses. "We were barely introduced," he said, looking over to meet her gaze.
Chloe straightened up, wincing as pain shot through her ribs. She raised her fingers to her stinging cheek, only to find Oliver's hand was quicker. He tilted her head slightly, concern on his face as he assessed her injury. "Are you ok?" he asked.
She felt warmth flooding her as his fingers ran gently across her cheekbone. Ok, that's both unexpected and unwelcome, she thought as she stepped away from him and smiled. "I'm fine - as Sidekick-related injuries go, this one is barely a blip on the radar." She walked over to gather up her spilled belongings before walking back to where Oliver stood.
Oliver didn't look convinced. "I can call Emil to check you out," he said. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
Chloe prodded her ribs gingerly before shaking her head. "I think I'm going to have an interesting and colorful bruise here, but nothing earth shattering." She jumped when his hand suddenly replaced her own against her ribs. "Ok seriously, personal space is nice. I'm fine, Oliver."
He suddenly pulled his hood up and replaced his sunglasses before shooting an arrow across to an adjacent rooftop. Before she had time to react, he wrapped one strong arm around her waist, carefully lifting her up against him. "Hold on," he said, stepping up onto the ledge. She barely had time to loop her arms around his neck before they were zipping through the air. Chloe closed her eyes and turned her face against his shoulder. She was still clinging to him tightly when she heard him speak. She raised her head and looked at him. "What?"
His mouth quirked up slightly. "I said you can let go now."
Chloe swallowed hard and looked around her; they were now standing on the balcony of the Clocktower. She forced her fingers to release their claw-like grip on his shoulders and Oliver gently lowered her to stand before him. She took a shaky breath and when she tried to step away from him, she found her legs were not as steady as she'd like.
Oliver reached out to grasp her elbow. "You ok there, Sidekick?" His expression was one of fullblown amusement now, which Chloe found irritating.
"How about next time you fly solo and I walk... or take a cab," Chloe said, shooting him a disgruntled look. "Honestly, between you and Clark and Bart, I'm going to need a portable defibrillator before I'm 25."
Oliver ushered her inside, tossing his sunglasses on his desk as he moved toward the secret room behind the clock face. Chloe dropped her ruined bag on a stool by the bar and tried to decide if she should stand or sit. She felt awkward here, out of place, and she wondered why Oliver had brought her back to the penthouse. The answer to that question came a few minutes later when Oliver emerged from the hidden room wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt, carrying a first aid kit.
Oliver motioned for her to sit on one of the stools at the bar as he opened the kit. Chloe sighed, guessing the sooner she complied, the sooner she could get out of there and go home. She tried to hop up onto one of the high stools and winced as the action pulled at her bruised ribs. She gasped as Oliver placed his hands under her arms and gently lifted her to sit on the stool.
"This is completely unnecessary," Chloe said as he began to dab gently at her cheek with a damp cloth.
"You got hurt on my watch, so I'm going to have to disagree with you there," he replied. He stepped closer as he held an antiseptic pad to her cheek. She drew in a quick breath as the sting registered and her eyes watered momentarily before she squeezed them shut.
"Sorry," she heard him murmer as his other hand came up to rest against the side of her neck. His thumb began to rub soothing circles against her collarbone.
Chloe was beginning to react to his proximity in an entirely female way, which was wrong on too many levels to go into. Focus, Sullivan, she reprimanded herself. Ok, so it was understandable - after all, he was Oliver Queen for God's sake. There probably wasn't a woman between the ages of 15 and 85 who wouldn't react physically if he were standing this close. She forced herself to think of something else, anything else - like Clark, Jimmy and Lois, three very good reasons for her to get a grip.
She opened her eyes to find Oliver staring at her, his expression strangely intense. "You look serious," he said. "What are you thinking about?"
"Uh, Jimmy... I had to cancel our dinner plans tonight," she said. It was the truth, but she felt slightly guilty because at the moment it was hard to care about that.
Something in Oliver's expression changed and he stepped away from her as he reached for the first aid kit again, this time pulling out a tube of antiseptic cream. "Sorry if the Sidekick duties are cutting into your social life. I take it Jimmy doesn't know anything?"
Chloe shook her head as he dabbed the cream on her cheek. "That's a conversation I don't even know how to start - plus, I'm keeping a lot of secrets for other people and they're not my secrets to tell, you know? Even if I trusted him with the information, I can't make that decision for Clark or for you and the team."
Oliver capped the tube of antiseptic cream before placing it back in the first aid kit. He turned to look at her as he said, "So you don't trust him enough to tell him now?"
She sighed as she shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know - maybe if it were only putting me at risk, but I'd never forgive myself if I did something to hurt Clark, or you and the guys. And what you're doing - what I'm helping you with - it's more important than a few cancelled dinner plans." She tilted her head to look at him again, noting the odd expression on his face. "What?"
He shook his head. "I'm just surprised, I guess. Most people don't have that sort of altruistic outlook. Have you given any more thought to joining the team on a more permanent basis? We could really use you, although I think from now on I'll keep you behind the computers."
"Tempting though the offer is, Clark needs me here. And the thought of explaining to Lois the reasons why I'm suddenly globetrotting with you is enough to keep me awake at night. I have enough trouble keeping her out of the apartment when I'm helping you in my Watchtower capacity."
"Now that's something I can help with." Oliver walked over to his desk and returned holding a computerized keycard. "I was going to give you this anyway. It's the keycard to the Clocktower elevator and this is the code for the penthouse. Whenever you're doing research or mission oversight, I want you to do it here. It's secure and you won't have to worry about Lois nosing around - although if you want to tell her that you're helping me, that's ok too. She doesn't know I'm the Green Arrow but I think she'd buy that you're helping me out with computer programming on a freelance basis."
Chloe took the keycard from him, surprised that he trusted her enough to allow her this kind of access to his life. "I'll think about it, but sometimes the less Lois knows, the more sanity I retain. She takes her role as the older cousin just a little too seriously sometimes."
"I think I can handle Lois," Oliver said with a smile. He watched as she put her coat back on. "Hey Chloe, I know that Clark's situation is... different and he needs you, but don't forget the other people in your life who need you too. You deserve to be happy and sometimes it seems like your friendship with Clark isn't exactly balanced. I can be a good listener if you need to talk."
Chloe regarded him with surprise, not doubting the sincerity behind his words. "You know, you're completely trashing your careless playboy image right now. Good thing you know I can keep a secret."
Chloe smiled as she recalled that night and the way he'd laughed at her teasing. Oliver had definitely managed to surprise her, something she hadn't been expecting from him. She looked up as Clark returned with her coffee. "What, no caffeine jolt for you?" she asked, smiling up at him. Her smile faded as she took in his tense, rather guilty expression.
"Lana called," he said. "She wants to talk."
Chloe looked back at the papers in front of her. "Clark, I get it and it's fine. You guys should talk. I'm almost finished here anyway and I don't really need your help with the computer hacking later - no offense." She looked up and saw the relieved expression on his face.
"Ok, I'll see you tomorrow then. Call me if the team needs help tonight." With that he was gone and Chloe sighed before tackling the papers in front of her again. Two hours later she was finished and hurrying out the door, running later than she'd like given the mission she needed to be ready for that night. She heard someone call her name as she waited for the elevator - turning, she saw Jimmy walking toward her.
"Where are you going?" he asked, looking confused. "I thought you were going to wait for me to finish so we could have dinner and catch the late movie."
Chloe felt dismay sweep through her as she realized she had forgotten about their rescheduled plans. "Jimmy, I'm so sorry but..."
"You have to reschedule," he finished for her. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "Is it because of Clark?"
"What? No, Clark is at the farm with Lana as far as I know," she answered. "I really am sorry and I'll make it up to you." She felt her phone buzz and looked at the screen to see Oliver's name flashing. She looked up at Jimmy, only to realize that he had also seen the name.
Jimmy's eyebrows shot up. "Oliver Q. - as in Queen? Since when do you get calls from Oliver Queen?"
"I'm doing some computer programming for him on a freelance basis," she said. "Unfortunately, there's an emergency with the program I was working on."
"OK," Jimmy said slowly. "So the CEO of Queen Industries is looking to you for computer help? Doesn't he have a whole IT department dedicated to that sort of thing? No offense, I know you're good with computers, but I don't get why he'd be calling you personally."
Chloe felt her phone buzz again and looked between it and Jimmy. "Jimmy, can we talk about this tomorrow? I'm sorry but I really have to go."
Jimmy's expression shut down and he shrugged. "Yeah sure, we'll talk about it tomorrow."
Chloe smiled hesitantly at Jimmy as she answered the phone. "Oliver, I'm leaving the Planet now so I'll call you back as soon as I'm online, ok?" She stepped onto the elevator as she listened to Oliver's response, watching the doors slide shut as Jimmy turned and walked away. She felt nervous - she knew that Jimmy was upset with her right now and she couldn't blame him. She leaned back against the elevator walls - how had her life gotten so complicated?