Disclaimer: I don't own Smallville!
Memories are in italics and are center aligned.
Head down, hands in his pockets, he was wandering around his hometown, with no particular destination in mind. The sun was shining, he could feel the Californian breeze through his brown hair. It reminded him of the time she had woken him up by running her hands through his hair.
"You should see your face," she had said, chuckling at his annoyance. "I bet you regret marrying me."
"Never," he had replied, before physically showing her how much he loved her.
Then again, everything reminded him of her. Especially here. Star City, where in another world, they had headed, to start their forever together…
Maybe this was his penance.
"Hey, Mr. Queen!" someone shouted as a greeting. He lifted his head and saw a man waving at him.
"Hey," he nodded at the stranger.
The nod was all it took for the man to continue on his way, a smile gracing his old face. Proud to have been greeted back by Star City's prodigal son.
If only they knew.
With a sigh, he looked back down, and kept walking, going wherever his legs were leading him, until he realized that once again, they were leading him to her.
A her that wasn't his, in this universe. A her he would never deserve.
He stopped at the front of the Star City Register. Looked up at the building that had once put so much awe into his Chloe's eyes.
"Won't it make you miss The Daily Planet?" he had asked her, after her first day at the Register.
"The Daily what?" she had replied, grinning at him. "I don't miss the DP. I don't miss Metropolis, Ollie. I love it here," she had then continued. "It's my husband's hometown, after all."
He felt his throat constrict at the memory.
He wanted to turn around, to run back to his penthouse, to drink himself into oblivion and finally forget everything. But no amount of alcohol could permanently erase the ghosts in his head. He had already tried that, hadn't he?
He hated that place, hated how everything was so eerily similar and yet so painfully different.
He took a breath, willed his eyes not to water and instead, turned around and calmly made his way back.
"Hello, Mr Queen," an old lady exclaimed and he lifted his head and greeted her back mechanically.
Though in this world Oliver Queen had never had a penchant for green leather, his city still saw him as a hero. He personally hated the recognition. Hated that he now had to live his life esteemed by everyone. He didn't deserve it.
Everyone saw him as the man who had lost everything to the Luthors. A man who had become hated for his business decisions. A man who had nevertheless helped the world to neutralize Ultraman.
Everyone therefore admired him.
He could understand why; this world's Oliver Queen had been admirable but that wasn't really him. He wasn't that brown-haired Oliver Queen who had stood up against Ultraman.
And yet, there he was, pretending to be. Pretending he didn't have her blood on his hands. Pretending he still had the hero in his heart.
His pace quickened; he really needed to head back. He needed a drink or two.
He walked back into his penthouse, switched on the lights, and threw his keys down on his accent table. He was in the process of loosening his tie when he noticed the blinking light on his answering machine. He immediately knew who it was.
After all, he had started that painful game. He had been the one calling her after leaving Metropolis. He had been the one using his other self's influence to get her number. He had wanted to charm her, to resume his life with her. He couldn't have done otherwise when he had learned about her being alive, in this world.
In his hometown, working as a reporter. Just what his Chloe should have been doing in their world.
His need to see her had been stronger than his better judgement, but after hearing her voice, after numerous phone conversations where he had surprisingly gotten her to open up to him, he hadn't been able to go through with his plan.
It had hurt too much to hear her say his name, to carry simple conversations with her; seeing her would have surely been unbearable.
Because he had come to the realization that she was not his Chloe. She would never be.
He poured himself a glass of scotch and took a few steps towards the machine, considering hitting the erase button without even listening to her message. He should have known better than to make himself suffer like that. But it seemed like he was a glutton for punishment. He pressed play.
"You have one new message."
He tried to compose himself, tried in vain not to remember the corny message they had recorded for their own answering machine.
"Hello, thanks for calling Mr. and Mrs. Queen. We're currently unavailable, being either in bed or out, saving the world. Please call back later or leave a message and we'll get back to you."
With a sigh, he ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes, thankful and at the same time anguished when he heard her voice.
"Hello Oliver, this is Chloe Sullivan. I was supposed to… interview you for the Star City Register two weeks ago, but you stood me up and did not show up for the rescheduled meetings."
The interview, a euphemism for their first date.
She paused. He took a deep breath.
"Have you perhaps… changed your mind?"
Yes. He had, but he couldn't tell her that. Because she would stop calling and he didn't want her to stop.
"If you want to reschedule it again, please call me back."
The message ended. His finger lingered over the erase button for a few seconds, but instead, he hit the play button again.
"Hello Oliver, this is Chloe Sullivan."
He stopped it, and played it again.
"Hello Oliver, this is Chloe Sullivan."
He stopped it and then played it again. And again.
This is Chloe Sullivan.
"You're not her," he muttered to himself.
This is Chloe Sullivan.
"You're not her!" he shouted, sweeping the answering machine off the table. It fell down onto the floor with a loud thud, but continued to play the message.
"Hello Oliver, this is Chloe Sullivan…"
"You're not her," he said again, slumping against the wall, his hands on his face.
His hands dropped to his side. He wondered for a moment if he was sleeping, if that was all a dream. He always seemed to hear her in his dreams.
He opened his eyes, looked straight ahead, and there she was, looking at him with concern on her face. An expression he had hoped never to see again.
"Don't do this, Ollie. It's not you."
"Ollie?" she repeated, taking a few steps towards him. "I was in the living room, I convinced the security that I had an appointment with you – are you okay?"
He tried to back away, he couldn't hear what she was saying. He could only see her, alive and well, in a green blouse and a black skirt. Tauntingly out of his reach.
"Come on, Ollie. This isn't you. Whatever's going on inside you, you can beat it."
His hands were around her throat. He was helpless as if imprisoned in his own body as he watched her gasping out the words, concern for him etched on her face.
"Ollie!" she exclaimed, and he snapped out of that nightmare, trying to keep his focus on her words.
"What – what are you doing here?" he asked, hoping his voice wasn't betraying his agony.
"I figured you were avoiding my calls. So I decided to corner you," she said, with a small smug smile. "I now realise that this might not be the best time. Are you alright?"
No, he wasn't. She was too close, too similar to his Chloe. He wanted to apologise, to hold her in his arms, to kiss her.
He lowered his gaze, he couldn't look at her. Not when the memories were resurfacing so suddenly.
"Did I – Oh God, what did I do?"
"You were right. I've changed my mind," he managed to utter, "please leave."
Chloe approached him, lifted her hand to touch his arm. He recoiled at her touch.
"What happened to you, Ollie? You've been living as if you have a death wish since you came back to Star City."
He was unable to stop his mind from wandering at her words. He couldn't stop himself from thinking of that day at the Metro Café. When he had learned that his Chloe had saved him.
"Please leave," he requested, ignoring her question.
"You used to be a fighter; you fought for yourself, for a second chance. You're an inspiration to millions, ever since you managed to help in the capture of Ultraman. I never knew you personally but even I can see that you have changed. It's like you became a shadow of yourself."
"Oliver..." Clark had started, his eyes red. He had never seen Clark so vulnerable before. "It was Darkseid. It wasn't you, it's… not your fault," the younger man continued. "You've been corrupted by him. We're sending you to a place where he won't be able to affect you. He won't hurt anyone else, I promise."
He had barely registered Clark's plan, how he had even managed to open the portal and to get his other self to exchange places with him. He had only been able to stare at his hands, replaying what they had done in his mind, again and again.
"Leave," he asked again, almost pleadingly.
She lowered her eyes, but he still caught a glimpse of the hurt in them. "You're the one who sought me out, Oliver. Just know that I'm not giving up on this. I'm not giving up on you."
He watched her leave.
"I wish you would," he said to the empty room, once she had closed the door. "You're not her."
Back in the real world…
"Chloe, you should rest. I'll ask Tess to take over the research. You haven't had a proper night of sleep in months."
She lifted her eyes from her computer screen, long enough to glare at him.
"Clark, you've sent my husband to a parallel universe, where he must be agonizing over the fact that he 'killed' me. My healing powers are back, Jor-El is refusing to open the portal again, and I'm stuck here with a version of Oliver, who's set his eyes on Black Canary. Do you really think I have any time to rest? I need my Ollie back."
I was on the bus yesterday, and this story came to my mind. It's based on my award winning speculation. My Ksite friends know what I'm talking about lol. It's really rough, wrote it today while being sick and watching Shining Inheritance. Also, this hasn't been proofread and yes, English isn't my first language. Thank you for reading.
(if my Assignment readers got notified for this, I'm very sorry for not updating Assignment in such a long time. still trying to get it done...)