Title: What Is And What Should Never Be
Spoilers: Roulette up to Fortune (at this point)
Summary: Victoria isn't convinced that Oliver's learned his lesson. She's got one more card to play though: Sending him into the future to show him what could be his. But just when Oliver's getting used to the future that he could have he finds himself back in his own time and is willing to do whatever he has to do to make sure that future he saw will come true.
Disclaimer: Don't own. Really want.
Author's Note: Here it is, the winner of the "What should I write next" poll!. This is a little different for me because I'm writing the story from Oliver's perspective. This is my attempt to explain the progression of Chloe and Oliver's relationship (and even why he kept going after Lois there for a while). It seemed as if Oliver was doing the one chasing and Chloe was a bit reluctant so I wanted to think of why Oliver would be soooo persistant in persuing her and why, despite thier very short relationship he was so reluctant to give up on her. As always reviews are most appreciated, they're sort of like water; I could live without them but I'd be awfully thirsty!
Oliver stumbled blindly into the clock tower. He didn't bother to turn on the lights, but did at least remember to set the alarm and lock up. The last thing he needed tonight was any more surprises. His entire body ached all over, his muscles protesting violently with every step he took. He pulled his jacket off, tossing it in the general direction of the couch, making a mental note to burn it first thing in the morning. He stopped at the foot of his bed, stripping the rest of his clothes off, knowing he should take a shower but unsure if he had enough energy.
The first rays of the morning sun were coming through the window, shining on the bar in the corner. The crystal carafe, half full of scotch caught his eye and Oliver's stomach churned. For the first time in a long time the thought of alcohol was not appealing, in fact it was actually making him physically ill. He smiled softly thinking maybe he had changed and then fell forward collapsing onto the bed, sinking into the plush mattress. He was halfway asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Victoria stood on the sidewalk outside of the Clock tower and stared. She'd watched Oliver get into the elevator fifteen minutes before hand but not a single light had been turned on since. She smiled to herself smugly, he was probably exhausted, with everything that she put him through he should have passed out hours ago. The only thing that had likely kept him going this long was the adrenaline and that would have worn off by now. Victoria was ready to pass out herself but she couldn't. Not yet. Her job still wasn't done.
All outward appearances would indicate that Oliver Queen had truly come to terms with the man that he was and the man that he needed to be, that he was ready to pull himself out of the gutter and get back on to the path that he needed to be. But Victoria wasn't convinced. Oliver had seen what kind of man he really was and more importantly what kind of man he wasn't but Victoria knew that sometimes, every once in a while that wasn't enough.
Some people needed something more. They needed something to look forward to, something to strive for to keep them on the right path. Victoria just knew, in all her years of doing this, that Oliver Queen was one of those people.
She turned away from the Clock tower and pulled open the door to the limo. A young man stepped out, his scuffed up blue Chuck Taylor's splashing in the puddle at the curb as he texted rapidly. "Max." She snapped and he typed faster, hitting send before closing the phone and sliding it in his pocket.
"Sorry." Max shrugged and looked up at the building, letting out a low whistle. "Dude's loaded huh?"
"Max, focus." Victoria snapped in his face. She was starting to reconsider this. His powers were amazing but he was young and unfocused. This would be his first time out and it was a big one. She'd found him in one of her casinos, using his power to look a bit into the future to cheat at roulette.
Even with his amazing power though he'd still managed to rack up a quite a large gambling debt with some very unsavory characters by getting too cocky and betting on things without bothering to use them. Victoria had taken him under her wing, paid off his debts and trained him, taught him that he could do so much more with his skills, stretched his powers to a limit that he didn't even know was possible.
He swore to her he was ready for this but Victoria wasn't so sure. She'd feel much better if his clothes didn't look like he'd spent the last forty eight hours sitting up playing video games. Discretely she leaned forward and sniffed his hoodie, recoiling at the smell of stale beer and bacon. "Did you even shower today?"
"Do you need me to shower to do my job?" Max asked, flipping the hood up over his head and smirking. "Chillax, I got this V." He cracked his knuckles and headed for the door to the clock tower.
"You know what he needs to see?" Victoria asked and Max waved her off, flashing the card that Chloe had given Victoria in front of the sensor. He tensed for a second until the red light turned green and looked down at the small piece of plastic, wondering if Victoria would let him keep it when the job was over.
Max waved the magic card at the sensor in the elevator and it took him straight to the top floor. When he got off he stopped for a second to let his eyes adjust to the darkness. This place was seriously awesome. Max looked around counting about five different pieces of art alone that could fund the most legendary weekend in Vegas the world had ever seen but he reminded himself to look and not touch. He had a good thing going with Victoria, she'd shown him stuff that he didn't even think was possible and he wasn't going to mess that up for one weekend of awesomeness.
Contrary to what Victoria believed, Max really wanted to prove to her that he could do this. So he forced himself to move forward to the open door at the end of the hall. Oliver Queen was lying face down in the bed, his legs hanging off the edges. It looked as if he'd just passed out and collapsed where he stood, which judging from what Victoria had put him through that day, was probably what happened.
"Alright Oliver Queen." Max rubbed his hands together. "Let's see what the future has in store for you." He reached out and touched Oliver's shoulder. Images flew into Max's mind, faster and faster, Oliver Queen's life playing out in front of him like a movie stuck on fast forward. There was a shit ton of boring stuff, business meeting after business meeting, seriously this dude was going to spend almost a third of his life in boardrooms but to each his own Max shrugged, cause there was also a lot of completely awesome stuff too.
Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow, a little piece of information that Victoria had conveniently not passed onto Max. Dude had some seriously bad ass moments coming up in life and Max noticed, just some seriously bad ones. He actually kind of felt for the guy. He waded through it all, trying to figure out what exactly Oliver Queen would need to see, what little tidbit of his future he needed a sneak preview of to keep him on the right track. "Bingo." Max said as he found it and smirked. Victoria was totally going to buy him a new car for this. This was going to be epic.
"Ok, this has pretty much been all theory up until now. Victoria's convinced that we can do this and we're pretty sure that it worked that one time with the monkey with no obvious signs of trauma. But this is my first time with a human so-just saying, it might not work." Max screwed up his face in concentration. He locked onto an image of Oliver's future, grabbed tighter onto his shoulder and then pushed, with everything he had. He slammed into what he'd been calling the Time Barrier because he thought it sounded cool but what Victoria had said was likely the fabric of the cosmos.
All Max knew was that when he hit it, it hurt, like a freaking wall, or a barrier and certainly not like fabric so whatever. He took a deep breath and remembered what Victoria had said, that it was flexible, that it needed to be eased apart, not broken through so Max did just that, he eased through it and suddenly they were free and they were flying through freaking time and Max would give up gambling for ever if he could feel like this all the time and not for the first time he thanked Victoria for taking pity on him and pulling him out of the metaphorical and literal gutter and teach him to do this in the first place. He should buy her flowers, chicks liked flowers.
He suddenly remembered where he was and what he was supposed to be doing and almost missed his stop. "And this is where you get off." Max said, letting go of Oliver's shoulder and letting him fall through time, funnily enough exactly where he'd been when Max had taken him from the Clock tower, only you know, ten years into the future.
Max opened his eyes and found himself standing beside Oliver's bed, Oliver's body still lying there, asleep. He was breathing so that was a good thing at least. Max shook off that weird weightless feeling he'd always got and reached for the clock on the bedside table and set the alarm for six. Oliver had a coffee date that he could not be late for in the morning. Good deed done, Max turned and walked back to the door.
He didn't even look at the paintings or the sculptures or the other millions of things worth millions of dollars in the apartment because he knew if Victoria found out she'd make sure that he was never able to do that again and he totally had to do that again, like a million times. He might even give the card back.
Oliver could feel the sun on his face and it was warm, almost uncomfortably so. He rolled away, digging his head in between the pillows in an attempt to escape the heat and let out a comfortable sigh when his cheek hit the cool sheets. He took in a deep breath and frowned, his eyes still closed. His sheets smelled weird, not bad, just different than normal. They still smelled like him and a hint of fabric softener, but underneath it all there was something else, some other smell. Oliver dug his head into the pillow even further, rubbing his nose along the cool fabric and took another deep breath. He groaned in frustration, the smell was familiar in a way that he was sure he'd smelled it before but he couldn't seem to place it at the moment. Whatever it was, it was intoxicating, he couldn't seem to get enough of it. Just as he was about to take another deep breath, a soft sleepy voice stopped him. "Don't sniff the sheets Ollie, it's weird."
He was about to open his mouth to defend himself when a soft warm body pressed up against him. A hand slid up from his stomach to stop on his chest, gently pushing him until he rolled onto his back. A head came to lay on his shoulder, hair tickling the underside of his neck as a knee slid up along his thigh, coming to rest against his hip.
He distinctly remembered that he went to bed alone the night before. He remembered because even if he hadn't been bone tired exhausted he was in no shape to pick up anyone presentable. He panicked for a moment, wondering if he'd woke up in the middle of the night and…ordered in. There was something about the body wrapped around him now, the familiarity the woman seemed to have with his body that just didn't scream high end escort to him.
He moved his hand instinctively to the woman's back, expecting to wince in pain at the movement but he didn't hurt, anywhere, at all. His muscles were loose and pliant, the headache completely gone. He brought his free hand up to his forehead, expecting to hit a few cuts and bruises but there was nothing. He paused, adding all of these little things together, the strange smell on the sheets, the body curled up against his and the lack of intense pain over every inch of his body and came up with the only logical solution, this had to be a dream.
The fingers on his chest started to move lazily back and forth, almost seductively and small soft kisses trailed up his collarbone to his neck. "A very good dream." Oliver mumbled slowly and the lips against his chin vibrated softly with laughter.
"Come on, it hasn't been that long." The voice protested, sliding completely on top of him. "By the way you were the one who came straight home and passed out last night remember."
Well that much was true at least. He opened his eyes and found himself looking up into the sleepy, smiling face of Chloe Sullivan.
"Hey." Oliver blinked slowly, slightly startled. Her hair was longer, falling in messy waves past her shoulders but it was undoubtedly Chloe.
"Hey." She smiled down at him, lowering her lips to his and giving him a soft kiss.
When her lips touched his he sighed against her mouth. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't had this dream before, Chloe smiling on top of him, his fingertips sliding up the soft expanse of her thighs as her hair tickled his face. It's true he hadn't had it in a while. It had never been the same after he killed Lex, seeing Chloe's disappointed face staring back at him hadn't exactly been a turn on. Then there had been the whole Davis/Doomsday disastrous and Oliver had been too mad at her to be turned on by her. And then Jimmy had died and Oliver couldn't look at Chloe fully dressed without feeling guilty, he couldn't imagine picturing her naked.
As her teeth nipped at his bottom lip and Oliver groaned. It felt exactly like he remembered what he imagined it would feel like and if he was honest with himself, he'd missed this. Even if it was just a dream. His hands slid up Chloe's back, pulling her closer, bunching her shirt between his fingers, surprised to find so much fabric.
He pulled back and looked at her confused. "Is that my shirt?" He asked, looking at t-shirt that was hanging off her small frame. He saw the familiar logo for the Excelsior Lacrosse team and smiled.
Chloe looked down and frowned. "I've been in Metropolis for two months. By myself. I got lonely." She told him.
"I like it." Oliver smirked up at her. "You in my clothes, I like it." He told her honestly.
"You sure?" Chloe asked, her fingers skimming the hymn of the shirt. "Cause if you're not, I could take it off."
"No, you're right, I hate it." Oliver smiled. "Take it off, take it off right now."
Chloe laughed, grabbing the hymn and pulling it over her head in one smooth movement, tossing it over her shoulder to the ground. "Better?"
Oliver looked up at her and swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. "Much better." He nodded and she leaned down to kiss him again. This time she wasn't soft though, she was insistent and Oliver certainly didn't complain, trailing is hand up the curve of her back to tangle in her hair, twisting her head a little bit to the side to give him better access, allowing his tongue to snake into her mouth.
She tasted like he'd always imagined she'd taste but then again since this was his imagination, that made perfect sense. "Boxers." She breathed into his mouth desperately and Oliver blinked confused.
"What?" He asked her.
"Your boxers." Chloe laughed, trailing kissed up his cheek to his ear. "Take them off." She whispered before nibbling slightly on earlobe.
"Right." Oliver said, unsure suddenly how to work his hands, her words sending shivers down his spine in a way that had never happened to him before. He licked his lips a few times trying to get his breathing under control and Chloe laughed again.
"You're hopeless." She told him affectionately, sitting up and smiling down at him. "Maybe it has been too long. You're acting like a kid on prom night who just got shown his first set of boobs."
The teasing seemed to snap Oliver out of whatever trance he'd been in and his eyes narrowed. He grabbed Chloe's waist and sat up suddenly tossing her onto her back and then rolling on top of her. "I'll show you a kid on prom night." He promised, reaching down with one hand to remove the offending boxers and tossing them over his head.
Chloe laughed leaning her head back and exposing her throat. The sight was just so enticing that he had no choice but to run his tongue along her pulse point. Her laughter turned into a moan and she arched up into him and it was Oliver's turn to smile.
Her fingernails dragged down his back as he made his way down her neck, along her collarbone, his nose brushing gently along the swell of her breast. "Ollie." She groaned deep in her throat as his mouth closed on her nipple, sucking it gently into his mouth. He moved a hand down her stomach to her hips and smiled, pulling away to stare at her in amusement when he noticed something he'd missed before. "What?" She frowned up at him, panting. Her eyes were glassed over, her lips swollen and slick with spit and she'd never looked more beautiful.
"No panties?" He asked, grinding his hips down on her. "Now who's the kid on prom night?"
"We've been apart for two months." She said again desperately. "I haven't touched you in two months." She brought her hands up, fingers dancing along his abs and up to the chest. "You haven't been inside of me for two months." She locked her eyes with his and he swallowed hard. "So what are you going to do about that?" She smiled mischievously and Oliver's fingers tightened on her hip before sliding his hand to her knee and pulling her leg up.
Before he even had time to think, he was sliding inside of her. She gasped, arching into him and then wrapped her legs around his waist. "How's that?" He asked, dropping his forehead to hers, panting as he slid in and out of her with an increasingly frantic rhythm.
"That—" She swallowed her words, moaning shamelessly when he grazed that spot deep inside of her. She dropped her legs from his waist and levered her feet against the mattress, pushing up, changing the angle and forcing him deeper, letting him hit the spot dead on. She moaned even louder, turning it into a breathless laugh halfway through. "That'll work." She assured him and he captured her mouth in a desperate kiss and he pumped into her faster and faster.
She seemed to know just where to touch him, just what to do to drive him absolutely wild. Her hands were exactly where he wanted them to be, her touch not too light, not to rough, her teeth applying the perfect amount of pressure along his shoulder blade and then she was whispering his name in his ear and it wasn't breathy and it wasn't desperate it was…loving, that was the only way to describe it and then she was clenching around him and he was coming.
He collapsed against her for a second, both of them breathing heavily, their sweat soaked bodies pressed together as tightly as Oliver dared without squishing her. He laid soft kisses against her forehead as they're breathing evened out and he got enough strength back to roll over, pulling her with him, draping her over his body like a blanket.
"Oh yeah, I remember this dream." Oliver finally said, still panting.
"Dream about me often?" She asked lifting her head up to smirk at him.
"You'd be surprised." Oliver said. "There are a few different ones actually. There's one where you're working late at the Watchtower and I bring you dinner and we end up on top of your desk."
"We've done that, a lot." Chloe said rolling her eyes. "Don't you have anything more exciting?"
"There is one where you're out walking home late at night, all by yourself." Oliver told her, grabbing a strand of her hair and twisting it in his finger.
"This sounds promising." She rested her chin on his chest and stared at him.
"So you cut through a dark alley—"
"Why would I do that?" Chloe asked him seriously. "That sounds incredibly stupid."
"You're in a hurry." Oliver explained. "This is my fantasy ok, let me tell it."
"I'm just worried about how much of an idiot I seem to be in your fantasy." Chloe pointed out. Oliver glared and she mimed zipping up her lips.
"Anyway, you cut through this dark alley and there's a man there. He grabs for your purse and you scream for someone to help you."
"Why don't I just tase him?" Chloe asked interrupting him again.
"I don't know maybe you forgot your taser, maybe it wasn't easily accessible." Oliver groaned in frustration. "You know what forget it."
"No." Chloe sat up. "I want to hear this."
"Obviously you don't." Oliver said, pretending to be hurt.
"No, I do, I really do." Chloe assured him. "Come on finish it." Oliver shook his head. "Ollie, come on, I'm screaming for help and…"
"And I'm come swooping in and save you from the guy and then…" He trailed off.
"We do it in the alley?" Chloe narrowed her eyes at him in confusion. "That's your fantasy?"
"What?" Oliver asked defensively.
"Nothing, it's just…alley's are generally dirty, dingy places and I'm presuming the guy who attacked me is there somewhere, either unconscious or incapacitated, it's a bit…" Chloe bit her lip. "Gross."
"Oh right and let me guess your fantasies are candlelight and rose petals." Oliver asked her.
"I think I can do better than that." Chloe said. "And I'm certain I can do better than sex in an alley."
"Let's hear it then." Oliver pushed himself up onto his elbows.
"Ok." Chloe sat up, tucking her legs underneath her. "Um…let's just say it involves, you and me in the pool at the Sky Villa at the Palms in Vegas."
"The one that hangs out over the strip?" Oliver asked and Chloe nodded, kissing him softly before crawling over him and off of the bed. "Wait, hang on, this was just getting interesting."
"Be that as it may, we're already running late." Chloe told him.
Oliver wanted to point out that since this was a dream he couldn't be running late but he liked the view too much to disturb the moment. Even when Chloe reached down and pulled on his t-shirt again. "I'm going to make coffee, don't go back to sleep, we have too much to do today."
"I believe this is my dream, therefore I get to dictate what we do and I say we have nothing to do today." Oliver reached out and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her back down on the bed and into his lap. She laughed, wiggling out of his hold easily and back onto the floor. She reached into the bedside table and pulled out a small hair clip, deftly twisting the hair around her finger and then securing it on top of her head.
"And while I'm sure that actually works in your dream world Ollie, here in the real world we need to be at Met U in an hour."
"Why on earth do we need to be at Met U in an hour?" Oliver asked her lazily, leaning back against the pillows, his hands behind his head.
"Mia's graduation." Chloe stared at him. "I reminded you about this last night." She said in exasperation.
"Right, Mia's graduation." Oliver frowned wondering who the hell Mia was and why on earth he would need to be at her graduation. Normally his X rated dreams were just that, X rated. There would be sex, maybe a little bit of dirty talk and then generally more sex. There wasn't usually this much non sex related talking, there certainly wasn't non sex related activity.
Oliver jumped out of the bed and grabbed her around the waist, spinning her around, trying to get this dream back on the right track. He kissed her softly and decided the quickest way to do that was to play along with this whole thing. "I've been gone for two weeks remember. So what do you say we skip this graduation and spend the day here, in bed."
"You're my husband and I love you, but she's been working so hard for this for so long that there's no way I'm missing it and there's no way I'm letting you miss it and deep down you don't want to miss it anyway." Chloe laid her hands gently on Oliver's chest and pushed him into the direction of the bathroom.
His breath caught in his throat the second she said "husband" and really everything else got tuned out after that. He looked down at her hand resting on his chest and stared at the modest diamond ring sitting on her left ring finger. The word husband reverberating over and over in his head and he wasn't sure if he liked how his heart sped up a bit when he thought about it.
This was definitely new, it was way out of the realm of his usual x-rated dreams, this was downright domestic and Oliver Queen didn't do domestic.
He looked around the room for the first time since waking up. It was his bedroom at the Clock Tower only it wasn't. His bed was still there, in the same place it always had been, only instead of his normal black comforter there was a soft fluffy down filled blanket in a pale green with a sort of swirly organic design on it in white and matching pile of small decorative pillows on the floor by the bed.
In the corner there was a large, overstuffed white chair that looked very warn in next to a large book shelf stuffed to the brim with books that looked like they were actually well read. A soft floor lamp hanging over it provided some ambient lighting for reading. The bar was missing, in its place was a desk covered in what looked like fabric swatches and blueprints.
In one last desperate attempt to get this dream back on track he grabbed her wrist and pulled her with him toward the bathroom. "Ok, since we're running so late, how about you jump in the shower with me?" Oliver asked trying not to look at the ring on her hand focusing on getting her into the massive shower stall.
"I would love to, trust me but I've got a conference call with the architect and the contractor." She placed a soft peck on his cheek then walked out of the room leaving him to wonder what just happened.
In a strange sort of daze he climbed in the shower for lack of anything better to do. Standing under the warm spray, he noted vaguely how detailed this dream was. His usual shower stuff was mixed haphazardly with what he assumed was Chloe's bathroom stuff. He picked up a large green puffy ball and stared at it for a second, confused at what exactly it could be used for before dropping it to the shower floor. Then he reached out for his shampoo but stopped and reached past it a bit to a white bottle with little pink flowers all over it.
He looked around the shower stall as if waiting for one of his team to jump out and tell him he was being punked or something. When no one showed up he opened the bottle and sniffed it then closed his eyes and groaned. This was the smell in the bed sheets, this was the smell that was undeniably Chloe. He felt the blood rush straight to his groan and placed a hand on the shower wall to steady himself.
This was ridiculous, there was no way he was going to stand in the shower and jerk it by himself in his very own dream. So he bit his lip, pulled his arm from the wall and turned the hot water all the way off. The shock of the cold water slamming into him was more than enough to cool him off.
"Ollie!" Chloe called out suddenly and he was so startled by it that the shampoo bottle slipped from his fingertips and slammed into the ground.
"Shit." Oliver grumbled, watching as a pink shimmering liquid poured out of the bottle and down the drain.
"Are you almost done?" She called through the glass door.
"Uh, just give me a minute." He called back, quickly grabbing the bottle and screwing the top back on. It felt unbelievable light but he didn't think about it as he grabbed his own shampoo and quickly washed and rinsed his hair. When he couldn't find a washcloth anywhere he finally realized what the weird green ball was used for. So he lathered it up and washed his body quickly. He slipped out of the shower and found himself face to face with Chloe in the process of undressing. She put a hand on his arm as started to push past him toward the shower.
"You're freezing cold." She looked up at him confused.
"I needed a cold shower this morning." He said with a small smile and her face fell just a bit before she reached up on her tiptoes and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
"I know you've been out of town a lot lately and the few days you've spent at home I've been busy with the League and trying to get the house ready." She sighed. "Tonight's Mia's party but tomorrow I swear it'll be just to the two of us. We can spend the whole day in bed if you like."
"Yeah?" Oliver asked.
"Definitely." Chloe assured him.
He smiled as she tossed his shirt over her head and climbed into the shower. The water turned back on and Oliver smiled when he saw a steaming cup of coffee resting on the edge of the vanity for him. He took a long sip and then dug through the medicine cabinet until he came up with his shaving stuff. Chloe's hot shower steamed up the mirror pretty quickly and he used a hand to wipe away the mist only to stop when he caught sight of himself.
He stared at himself in the mirror, he looked older, there were a few more wrinkles around his eyes mouth, more than he remember the last time he checked and if he looked close enough he could see some graying around the temple. He'd been avoiding looking in the mirror lately and he knew he hadn't really been taking that good care of himself but it wasn't as bad as he suspected. He looked older but not bad, he might even go so far as to say he looked a little better like this, a bit more distinguished.
"Oliver?" Chloe called over the spray of the shower and slid the glass door open a bit. He turned around to see her holding a now empty shampoo bottle in her hand.
"Oh yeah, that fell off the shelf and sort of spilled a bit." Oliver said sheepishly, moving back to the mirror to finish his shaving.
She glared at him and tossed the empty bottle in the trash can before closing the shower door. "I'll have to use yours." She called out him. "Which means I'm going to smell like you all day long."
The razor slipped against his cheek and he closed his eyes. If the smell of Chloe on the bed sheets turned him on, the mere idea that she was going to be walking around all day smelling like him was enough to negate the cold shower and get him hard in seconds. He cursed when he saw the steady stream of blood flowing down his cheek and grabbed for a scrap of toilet paper.
The rest of the morning went by in a flurry of activity, Chloe fluttering around him, the two of them practically on top of each other as they got ready. They were constantly in each other's way , the two of them trying to share one mirror and one sink and Oliver was starting to wonder who the hell decided this situation was an anyway ideal.
It was like Chloe could read his mind and she smiled up at him in the mirror. "Just think when the house is finished, we'll both have our own sink." She said it with such longing in her voice that Oliver couldn't help dropping a small kiss to the top of her head.
She turned around and grabbed his tie, undoing his very uneven knot and tying the whole thing over for him. He braced himself up against the sink as she wound the silk around her fingers and he took a deep breath, realizing just how close they were. The smell of his shampoo floated up to him mixed with the smell of Chloe and it was just as intoxicating as he thought it would be. "Not enough time big guy." She patted his chest, smirking up at him knowingly, their proximity alerting her to the growing problem in his pants. "Tomorrow I swear." She smiled, slipping out from under his arms and heading into the bedroom.
The dream just got weirder, which is to say it got blatantly normal. Oliver decided to attribute it to the rollercoaster of emotions he'd experienced the last few days and not out of any subconscious desire for a life like this.
They made it to Met U with more than enough time to spare and then Chloe got a phone call and excused herself to take it leaving Oliver standing alone. "Is she talking to the contractor's again?" A voice asked from behind him.
"No." Oliver shook his head trying to remember Chloe saying a name when she answered the phone. "Barbara I think," he said turning around and coming face to face with a complete and total stranger. "Hello."
"Wait, is Oracle having trouble holding up the fort while Watchtower's away?" The man frowned and Oliver just shrugged, unsure as to what any of that meant. "So you two guys were running a bit late this morning." The man clapped a hand on Oliver's back. "Making up for lost time?"
"Lost time?" Oliver frowned, something about that sentence tugging at something.
"How long has she been in Metropolis without you?"
Oliver remember her words to him this morning, You haven't been inside me for two months. He swallowed hard. "Two months."
"Damn," he whistled. "You guys haven't been apart longer than a week in…well…forever." Oliver didn't say anything. After this morning he could totally see how someone wouldn't want to be apart from Chloe for any longer than was absolutely necessary. "God, can you believe that Mia's actually graduating?" The man said, interrupting Oliver's thoughts.
"It's crazy." Oliver shrugged, still unsure as to who the hell this Mia person was.
"I mean seriously when you found her, in that fight club did you ever think you'd see the day she walked across that stage, graduating from law school of all things?" The man asked.
"No, I can honestly say I didn't." Oliver shook his head hoping Chloe would get back soon because then at least maybe he'd get to learn this guy's name.
"You've got to be unbelievably proud of her." The man shook his head. "Doing all of this on her own, refusing any help." The man's face suddenly split into a huge grin and he laughed. "Remember when she found out that you sponsored that scholarship she got? She was so mad she nearly cut off your balls." He shook his head. "She declined the money, even after you explained you had no control over who it went to. Took two jobs and barely slept for a year but she paid for it by herself. Pretty impressive."
Oliver still didn't know who this Mia was she did sound quite impressive. "Yeah, she's one of a kind." Oliver nodded.
"No doubt about that." The man said.
"Hal!" Chloe walked up a huge smile on her face. "I'm so glad you could make it."
"Of course I could make it. Mia's like my God daughter after all, wasn't going to miss this for the world." The man who Oliver now knew was called Hal pulled Chloe into a big hug and Oliver felt his jaw clench.
"Please let me watch when she hears you call her your God daughter." Chloe smirked up at the man, dropping a peck on his cheek. "I would love to see her kick your ass again."
Oliver who noticed that Hal's arm was still around Chloe's waist would also love to see that but he offered a polite smile. "Sorry dude, hands off I forgot." Hal said stepping away from Chloe as if he could sense that Oliver was getting annoyed.
"Oh God." Chloe rolled her eyes. "You two are pathetic."
"You knew that when you married him." Lois said walking up behind Chloe and pecking her on the cheek. "And yet you still married him." She smirked at Oliver. "Hey Ollie, Hal."
"Lois." Hal reached forward and kissed Lois on the cheek. "Clark." He nodded at the other man who was walking up. "You guys are actually on time? What didn't have to stop off to save a puppy from a burning vehicle?"
"No our commute was puppy free." Lois laughed. "But tensions have been rising at the border in South Korea so I'm apologizing now in case he runs off in the middle of the ceremony."
"Boy Scout disappearing in the middle of something, bite your tongue." Victor said walking up to the crowd, AC and Bart on either side of him. "That would never happen."
"You guys are hilarious you know." Clark glared at them all. "See if I come running the next time one of you calls out for Superman. Maybe the next time the opportunity to make fun of me comes up, you'll all remember that you're not bullet proof."
"I am." John raised his hand walking up to the group.
"I am too." Victor said. "Kind of."
"I don't have to be, I'm faster than a speeding bullet." Bart winked at him.
"You guys suck." Clark pretended to pout and Lois grabbed his arm.
"Come on, don't take it personally honey." she said kissing him softly.
Oliver stared at them in confusion, Lois and Clark, kissing in front of him. There was something really strange about it but at the same time not strange at all. He shook his head in amazement. Lois and Clark. "I'm here, I'm here, I'm not late am I?" A blonde that Oliver didn't recognize rushed up to the group, slightly out of breath, brushing the hair out of her face.
"Courtney." Chloe smiled at her, giving her a big hug. "You're fine, made it just in time."
"Thank God, I was in the library when I realized what time it was. I rushed halfway across campus." She relaxed a bit. "Bart, could you…"
Before she could finish her sentence, Bart was gone and then back again holding out a cup of coffee. "You are the best." She offered him a small kiss on the cheek and he blushed bright red.
"When are you done with your exams?" Lois asked.
"Wednesday." Courtney groaned. "And I'm so ready."
"Just think one more year and that's going to be you." Hal pointed out to her, nodding to the stage.
"It's crazy." Courtney smiled. "I just wish Carter were here to see it." Her tone was so wistful and sad and then Oliver felt Chloe squeeze his arm, offering him a sad smile like that sentence should have meant something to him. He smiled down at her and she turned back to Courtney.
"So are you going to come out to Star City this summer?" Chloe asked Courtney.
"The house is on a beach right?" Courtney smiled at Chloe.
"A private one." Chloe said.
"Oh God, I hate you both." Lois groaned. "How are the renovations going? Is it going to be ready by the end of the month?"
"It better be." Chloe said. "I swear this is the last time I do major renovations from five states away that's for sure." Chloe, Lois and Courtney broke off as Chloe went on and on about her renovation hell and the guys converged on Oliver.
He had to fake his way through the conversation but he thought he was doing pretty good. Except every now and then he would do something or say something and he would see Chloe giving him this strange sort of look but just as soon as he saw it, it disappeared so he didn't think too much of it.
"Are we late?" A voice asked from behind them and Chloe and Oliver turned around to see Emil standing behind him, his hand resting on the small of a woman's back. A woman who looked suspiciously like Tess Mercer, a very pregnant Tess Mercer.
"Oh my God!" Chloe squealed looking at Tess and offering her a very loose hug. "Should you be out of the house? Should you be out of bed?"
"We're a week over due." Tess said with an affectionate smile on her face as her hand rubbed the top of her belly. She looked like the old Tess, she looked like Mercy, like the carefree girl he fell in love with all those years ago. Perhaps a bit older, a bit more sure of herself, more secure in her own skin but happier than Oliver ever remembered seeing her. "I'm tired of bed rest, maybe if I walk around enough she'll just—pop out."
"That's not how it really works dear." Emil said. "There are a few home remedies that supposedly can jump start labor but the science behind it is very iffy—" Emil was shut up when Tess' hand latched over his mouth.
"Honey, I don't want to hear one more word about the science." Tess said politely but with a frustrated edge to her voice.
"Your right." Emil pressed a soft kiss to her temple and Tess leaned her body into him.
"Let's get to our seats, get you off your feet." Chloe stepped up and slipped her arm in Tess' and walked away, the two of the chatting together like they were the best of friends but Oliver was pretty sure the last time he checked, they hated each other with a passion. "So are you anxious to get back to work?"
"Horribly." Tess sighed. "Why are you anxious to get back to Star City?"
"I'm…" Chloe paused trying to figure out how to word it. "I'm anxious to get back to my own equipment."
"I know exactly what you mean. When I had to fill in at the London office last year I didn't know where everything was and just when I got used to it all, I came back here. Did you get Victor up to speed?" Tess asked, walking down their reserved isle.
"Yeah, he'll be fine to take over on Monday and he can stay as long as you need him too, until you're ready to come back to work." Chloe said.
"Was it strange? Playing Watchtower again?" Tess asked Chloe and Oliver studied her, wondering when exactly Chloe stopped playing Watchtower.
"A little." Chloe admitted. "Not enough to come back, but it was fun." Chloe sat down in her seat and Oliver sat down next to her. "I wish I could help you out longer."
"Hey, you've been here for two months, I appreciate you staying that long." Tess tried to lower herself down into her seat and Oliver jumped forward and helped her sit down.
"Two months was the least I could do." Chloe smiled. "Besides, no way was I going to miss my best friend's baby shower and I couldn't very well let you set up the nursery on your own."
Oliver saw Tess expression soften as she looked at Chloe and he frowned deeper. "Hey, it'll happen for you guys you know?" Tess said, laying a soft hand over Chloe's. "When it's meant to be—"
"I know." Chloe nodded and Oliver saw her wipe at her eyes quickly. "I know." Without knowing why Oliver slipped his hand into Chloe's free one and she turned to him and beamed, unshed tears glistening her eyes a sort of lost, haunted expression on her face and Tess seemed to understand better than Oliver that a change of topic was in order.
"So, how are the renovations going?" Tess asked.
"God." Chloe rolled her eyes. "You don't want to hear about that trust me."
"Please all I've been talking about for the past few weeks is stuff like breast pumps and episiotomies and how many centimeters I'm dilated…I want to hear all about the renovations." Chloe laughed and that slightly haunted look vanished from her eyes and for the first time in a long time Oliver wanted to thank Tess Mercer. This was a turning into a very weird dream indeed.
Eventually the conversation died down and the ceremony started. Oliver was looking through the crowd of graduates when a young woman caught his eye. She was staring straight at him and when she saw he was looking she smiled then rolled her eyes before sticking her tongue out. He smiled back at her and she turned around pretending to pay attention to what was going on in the ceremony.
All the speakers got up and talked about life and how you never stop learning and all those clichéd things they say at graduation and then they stared to call out names and when Mia's name was called and the girl who'd stuck her tongue out at him walked across that stage. Everyone in their section got up and started cheering. Chloe was standing beside him, her fingers in her mouth as she whistled loud enough to bust an ear drum and Oliver was sure they were louder than anyone else and he suddenly felt this strange sense of pride and added his own cheers in.
Chloe looked up at him, her eyes beaming with unshed tears, her face obvious proud and on instinct he threw an arm over her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. She smiled up at him, the strange look from early gone for the moment and he just let himself be in the moment.
The longer the dream had gone on, Oliver had the sinking suspicion that maybe, just maybe it wasn't a dream, but he wasn't sure what else it could be and honestly he wasn't in too much of a hurry to figure it out. The ceremony ended soon after and they were all waiting around in the parking lot of the auditorium when a tiny brunette came running up to them and flung herself in Oliver's arm. "Oliver! Did you see that? I freaking graduated."
"Yeah I saw." Oliver laughed, hugging her back and then pushing her away to smile down at her. "I'm proud of you Sidekick." He said, unsure what made him call her sidekick but judging from the huge smile that spread across her face it was the right thing to say. "Now I've just got to take the bar exam and then I am officially a lawyer. Are you scared yet?"
"Not a chance." Oliver kissed the top her head and she blushed.
"Ok, we've got reservations at Mirabell in twenty minutes, so we need to leave like now." Chloe said grabbing Mia's arm and pulling her toward their car, leaving Oliver no choice but to follow.
He drives them to the restaurant and Chloe and Mia talk nonstop on the ride over about things he's pretty sure he should know about but doesn't and he's glad that they're so absorbed in the conversation that he wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise even if he knew what to say.
He manages to fake his way through dinner pretty well, using generic answers to questions that confuse him and he's sure that he's got everyone fooled. Except for Chloe that is. As the night wears on, and Oliver gets increasingly more convinced that this is in fact not a dream, he can see that Chloe is realizing something is off, something's not quite right.
"Ok, ok, so I think it's time for Mia's graduation presents." Chloe called out once dinner was cleared and desert was on the way.
"I like presents." Mia smiled and rubbed her hands together. Lois and Clark gave her a really nice briefcase. Bart and AC went in together on a silver pen with matching business card holder. Victor gave her a new laptop. Courtney's gift was a brand new suit so she could look lawyer-ish and John presented her with a lovely wooden gavel with her name engraved on it.
"I'm just looking toward the future." He'd shrugged and Mia had given him a rather watery hug.
Then it was Chloe and Oliver's turn and Chloe turned him expectantly but Oliver was drawing a huge blank. "Right." Chloe jumped in for him. "So, here." She passed over a small bag and Mia opened it hesitantly. Oliver had joked the whole time that she was in school that he was going to take all the money Mia wasn't letting him spend on her tuition and use it to buy her a graduation present so she was a little surprised when she reached into the bag and pulled out a small key chain with a familiar set of keys dangling from it.
"This is a key to the Clock Tower." Mia said confused. "I already have a key to the Clock Tower." She reminded them.
"Yeah the key was sort of symbolic." Chloe shrugged.
"Symbolic of what?" Mia asked.
"We're giving you the Clock Tower." Chloe smiled.
Mia stared at her in shock. "You're what now?" She looked between Chloe and Oliver.
"Well we're going to be leaving at the end of the month for Star City and it'll just be sitting there empty so it was either sell it or give it to you."
"But what?" Mia was still slightly in shock.
"We can stay at the Watchtower when we come into town." Chloe assured her. "Mia, we want you to have it."
"Oliver?" She looked over at him and he smiled.
"You earned it." He shrugged and she smiled, actually crying this time as she gave Chloe and then Oliver huge hugs.
They left the restaurant four hours later, full on good food and probably a bit too much wine and Chloe couldn't help but smile because the last time they all managed to get together like this was far too long ago. She knew when they moved to Star City it was going to be even harder and she made a mental note to make the time. "Chloe." John said walking up beside her at the restaurant entrance where Oliver had left her to go get the car.
"John." Chloe smiled up at him. "I'm really glad you could make it tonight."
"I am too." John said. "I rather enjoyed myself."
"Good, I'm glad." Chloe nodded.
"I had such a good time that I almost hate to bring this up." John frowned and Chloe sighed, almost as if she knew this was coming. "Have you noticed anything off with Oliver recently?"
Chloe felt her mouth go dry. "Why do you ask?" Chloe looked up at him, her smile strained.
"I don't want to alarm you, but I was getting this strange feeling all through dinner. It was coming from Oliver." John said.
Everything that Chloe had been working so hard all day to ignore came flooding back to her in an instant. She thought about the look on Oliver's face that morning when she mentioned Mia's graduation, like he truly had no idea who she was talking about. She thought about how weird he'd been all day, some of the things he'd been saying, some of the things he hadn't said. Then she thought about earlier that morning, how he'd touched her and it had felt almost like it was the first time he'd ever touched her and she had to swallow hard to push back against the sudden swell of bile that was threatening to claw it's way out of her throat.
"Chloe, I'm sorry, but I don't think that man is your husband."
Chloe closed her eyes and a small tear escaped before she looked back up at John. "Yeah, I know." She said quietly.