LEGENDS: This is How She Avenges
Characters: Chloe, Oliver, JL, Connor
AN: 13th of the series. This arc will continue on to the next story, and not as much of a oneshot as my other parts. Thanks for your interest. It might help to reread the arc This is How Friendships Last to This is How Shadows Conceal.
Summary: An unexpected enemy reenters their lives.
This is How Marriages End
This is How Families Grow
This is How Friendships Last
This is How Oliver Survives
This is How Lois Becomes
This is How Shadows Conceal
This is How Mothers Talk
This is How Walls Crumble
This is How Lives Begin
This is How Hearts Soar
This is How Mia Returned
This is How They Choose
This is How She Avenges
She glimpsed a bit of herself in that reflection. Across the room there was a large mirror. As if her hot hormonal dreams were not enough, then certainly the sight of her husband's bare torso leaning over her in the dark of the night was enough to cause a pleasant ache inside her.
She closed her eyes once again. Her lips curved at the sensation, of the feeling of his insistent lips in the crook of her neck. Chloe murmured low in her throat. When his arm wrapped around her waist, over the slight curve of her belly, she laid one arm over his and burrowed back, deeper into his warmth.
"Someone's pretending to be asleep," he said with amusement. "And I don't know why."
"Maybe because when we're awake life starts up again," she confessed. Chloe avoided specifics. Specifics came with names. Names drew very real issues. In their bed, they had agreed long ago, it was only the two of them. At their doorstep always the world ended. Their home was all their own. And even when she opened her eyes Chloe felt him lie down behind her, his lips now buried in her hair.
It was so easy to forget there was a world outside, that there were people they loved and who counted on them. Sometimes it was hard to tell that they were heroes; they were so utterly selfish alone in their marriage. When they held each other this way she could pretend that outside Lois still struggled with a thirst for vengeance that would not be quenched by the knowledge that now Chloe was happy and home, that the girl that Oliver had protected from the streets would succumb to an illness that haunted her like a ghost from a past they had nearly forgotten, that somewhere between this reality and someone else's there was someone with her flesh and blood who was being raised by the enemy.
When she felt Oliver's hardness prodding at the small of her back, when he was sliding down as he pressed behind her, when she was pushing inside her the way he did right then—
It was easy to forget.
A long held breath whistled quietly through her lips. Her mouth parted. Her eyelids fluttered closed as her eyes rolled back as silent lightning brightened her vision.
His hand slid under her nightgown. He pushed up the hem and she felt the cool breeze on her leg.
"Oliver." The name flew from her lips. She was so full. She turned her head to bury her face into the pillow. She let out a harsh exclamation when he gripped her waist and suddenly buried himself to the hilt. And then he was drawing his length out of her, and she almost groaned out loud in her frustration.
And then he moved to lay her on her back. Chloe blinked up at him, trying to catch her breath. He pushed her nightgown over her waist. Her eyes widened when he knelt above her, right between her parted legs now. And then Chloe gasped when he laid one hot palm over her belly. His gaze rose and met hers. Chloe bit her lower lip. She watched as he rested his elbows on either side of her as he lowered his torso over her. Chloe moved to widen her legs and make room for him. He kissed the hollow between her throat and Chloe reached between them to hold on to him and then, while she threw her head back to make room for his lips her body stretched to accommodate him.
He thrust inside her. And then his lips were on her ear. He mumbled her name, some other exclamation, somehow incoherent but he made sense to her. She pushed up over and over. When he came he collapsed on top of her. Before she could even make a sound he had gathered her up in his arms and taken her with him when he rolled onto his back. Chloe curved over his body. With a slick sound he slipped wetly out of her.
She felt his breath in her hair, the way his arms tightened around her body when he said, "All things considered, we have a good life, don't we?"
Immediately she regretted the murmured comment from earlier, because whether or not the entire world was corroding around them, she could not imagine herself being dissatisfied with everything that she and Oliver had managed to scrape together from the remnants of their old lives. It would be selfish to be regretful. They had already destroyed one family—no matter how gracious Dinah had been.
"We have a damn good one—the greatest," she assured him.
It was he who fell asleep first this time. When he was so relaxed underneath her, it was easy to slip back and doze off. But she was still Watchtower despite all the changes they had made in their lives. She rested her eyes for a moment until her racing thoughts went back to the problem they had tabled from the night before. Carefully Chloe pulled out of Oliver's arms and made her way to the bathroom, beginning her morning ablutions too early. When she emerged from the bathroom it was only to find him seated on their bed, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
"Did I wake you?" she said easily.
Oliver shook his head, regarded him quietly. "You couldn't sleep either?"
Her lips curved slightly. "Not for your lack of effort to exhaust me." He raised a hand towards her. Chloe walked forward and took his hand, then allowed him to pull her back and sat on the edge of the bed. "The attack on Bart," she began.
"I knew that's bothering you."
Because it was always going to. Things like these could not just be set aside even when they decided their family life came first and foremost, and that the rest of the world should not interfere in their bedroom. The team was just as ingrained in her blood now as it was in his.
"It's the same pattern as the attack on Victor a couple of weeks ago," she told him. "There is someone very skilled out there attacking the Justice League."
From his look Chloe realized that Oliver had noticed the same. In fact, he had gone to bed without telling her about his suspicions.
"I know you don't want me to worry, Oliver, but you could very well be the next target. The Watchtower comes out of hibernate when you're in danger."
"And you have to realize that there is a team of heroes who have my back." He pointedly asked, "Don't you trust them, Chloe?"
"I trust them with your life as much as you trust the team with mine, Ollie," was careful answer.
She achieved the exact balance of truth and defiance, but Oliver could not protest further. It would have been hypocritical. That was an end of the conversation that he could hardly accept, but Oliver did and he did not complain when she turned up dressed for the Watchtower, prepared once more for work that she had minimized the last two months since the spotting.
Chloe walked with Oliver to the car outside. The back of her neck prickled, and she looked up immediately towards the shadows and narrowed her eyes. The corner was empty. Chloe shook her head and allowed Oliver to help her into the car. Her hand idly fluttered to the swell of her belly.
When the car sped away, Chloe raised the makeup compact up, then glimpsed the rapidly diminishing figure of a young woman stepping off onto the street, right where Chloe had thought someone stood to watch them. Her heart froze at the cold hatred in the young woman's eyes. Chloe snapped the compact shut and without second though grabbed Oliver's arm.
"Someone's watching us," she said quietly, even in the emptiness of the car.
At once Oliver stopped the vehicle, then looked at the rearview mirror. The street behind them was empty. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Chloe nodded. "She was right there, Ollie."
"And you saw her watching us."
"If looks could kill," Chloe trailed off.
Oliver's lips thinned at the response. He pushed down the gas pedal, and Chloe held on to the door handle despite being strapped in. When they turned the corner Chloe placed a gentle hand on his. He glanced at her, then muttered an apology before slowing down. When they were at an acceptable speed Chloe's hand rested on her thigh. Chloe waited in silence until he stopped in front of her decoy building. She turned to him to say goodbye, but he had already gotten out of the car. The next that she noticed he was pulling open her door and helping her out.
When they reached her doorstep, Chloe turned to him to say a quick goodbye, to make plans to meet for lunch. Instead Oliver ushered her in and stepped into the room after her. She made a quick move after him when he went directly to the hidden passageway that led to the Watchtower section of the establishment.
Oliver propped himself up. He nodded towards the main computer. "I know you came in to track down the attacker. I assume you got a picture of the woman you saw earlier."
"I haven't connected the two," she informed him, because inside the Watchtower it was not going to change—he was the Green Arrow, the leader, and she was the one who worked for him. There was no hiding information from the boss.
"But that was why you wanted to come in today. You wanted more information on the Justice League attacks. And that woman from the street just made it so much easier for you."
Chloe nodded. She took out the compact she had been using earlier, then removed the memory card at the side where the hidden camera saved the shot she took when she pressed at the bottom of the case. Chloe loaded the card into the computer, then retrieved the images she had taken when she spied the young woman watching them. Chloe enhanced the image after zooming to crop only the stranger. While the computer worked to fill in the pixelated graphic, Chloe glanced at Oliver.
He watched her so avidly, so intently, that Chloe shifted from one foot to the other.
His lashes were lowered, half hiding his eyes from view. Chloe nodded and turned back to the computer. Once the small photograph was captured Chloe ran the facial recognition software. Queen Technologies had created the fastest search system in the world, and even then the search came up with nothing. He was behind her now, looking over her shoulder. Chloe sighed when he rested his hands on her waist.
Oliver's lips dropped on her shoulder. She blinked her eyes at the bright, fat font that declared there were zero results at the search.
"It can't be," she murmured. "She didn't just appear out of nowhere."
"Maybe she's not in any police database. The scan pulls from international intelligence archives, Chloe."
"So she has never been caught or suspected of anything. That doesn't give me any assurance, Ollie." She took a deep breath. Even as she did so she remembered that she needed to relax, to keep herself from stressing out. "She's so good that she's never been caught."
"Or, Chloe," Oliver said, the voice of reason once again, and she found it odd that this had become their relationship now, this odd balance, "the girl could be some random stranger from the street who happened to see us."
Chloe turned back to the small picture, clearer now after the application treatment. There was enough hatred in the glare that she was convinced this was not random. She ran the scan again, and as expected it gave the same exact result—nothing.
From behind her he reached forward and rested a hand on the swell of her belly, and almost immediately she felt the movement of her babies in reaction to Oliver's touch. Chloe's hands rose from the keyboard and rested over his. She looked up behind her and met his gaze. She did not ask for much, but Chloe's heart raced and she heard her own breathless plea when she said, "Let's leave."
His brows furrowed, but his response was not a rejection. "Where will we go?"
Chloe wet her lips. The team was here, but Clark was always the strongest and he could stay. He could protect everyone else. "Paris. Australia. Bangkok," she enumerated, every place so vastly different, every destination ever farther. "Anywhere but here."
"Because the attacks happened here," Oliver surmised.
And if Oliver denied her this, if he was brave enough to stay and stupid enough to put the team above her own concerns—"I'm not going to be strong enough to keep you alive if she goes after you. And I'm definitely not strong enough to lose you," she confessed.
"Of course you are." And Chloe had to remember that he had seen her at her worst. He had seen her as a grieving widow to Jimmy. Oliver had watched her when she punished a helpless man who was a threat to Clark. He had seen her with Brainiac inside her. He had even seen her half insane desperation as she had sought to protect Davis. "You're Watchtower. You're Chloe Sullivan."
"Not anymore," she reminded him. Because she was a Queen now. For all intents and purposes, her life was inextricably linked to his. "Please."
He nodded. When he reached for his phone to call the pilot, Chloe stilled his hand.
"I'll take care of everything." Oliver nodded. Chloe stepped away and rummaged through a drawer of lost and found, still unclaimed even though everyone likely knew who the items belonged to. But the team insisted on leaving their belongings to make her Watchtower a home. Chloe took a baseball cap that Bart had left behind, then proceeded to her husband and placed the cap over his head.
"Do you trust me?"
"With my life," he told her. Then, to her surprise, he took off the baseball cap. "But I'm beginning to doubt if you've actually thought this through, if you think a baseball cap is going to be enough to disguise me." When she seemed uncertain, ready to protest, he assured her, "I'm coming with you. We will go. We'll run away if that's you want to do."
"Don't call it running away," she said softly.
"First I need to say goodbye to Connor," she said, remembering now, with the panic over Oliver's safety somewhat calmed, all of the reasons she could not just pick up and leave. "And then we need to check in with Emil, figure out if it's safe to travel now."
When she and Oliver stopped at Dinah's, Chloe left Oliver to discuss a high level overview of the plan with Dinah. There were no specifics, no way to trace them once they leave. They would be anonymous, hopefully keep the strange woman from tailing them.
"Your identity is still secure," Oliver told his ex-wife. "As long as it's hidden, Connor is not in any danger. Either way the Queen bodyguards assigned to Connor will be watching from a distance. If there's any problem, they will send a message to Oliver Queen. You can send a message through the Watchtower. Wherever we are, we will fly back for Connor, Dinah."
At that, Dinah's lips curved. "I always am. If anyone dares to touch my son, I will cut their throat." She nodded towards the room stairway where Chloe had gone. "You be the one extra careful, Oliver. While I'm here within easy access of the team, I'm protecting myself and one child. You're taking your entire family along for the ride."
Oliver walks up the steps and up to the doorway of his son's bedroom, where Chloe sat on the edge of the bed with Connor by her side. She read from the book, the Bernstein Bears. She had taken to reading and rereading one particular story to Connor the last few weeks—the New Baby, and Oliver had to gather that it meant something to the two. Connor's body was slumped against Chloe's side, telling them both that his son was sleepy and tired.
"The end," came Chloe's whisper soft voice.
On cue, Connor climbed into the bed and Chloe tucked the blankets on either side of him. "I don't like your new babies," the boy declared once his head his the pillow.
Chloe calmly put the book down on the nightstand. "The Bernstein boy cub liked his new sister, didn't he? You'll love your siblings."
"No I won't," Connor claimed sleepily.
Chloe leaned forward. Oliver stepped inside abruptly. Chloe looked up at him and placed a finger on her lips. Oliver swallowed his protest. Chloe returned to Connor. "Do you think your daddy and I are going to love you less when the babies come?"
"Then why, Connor?"
Connor's brows furrowed. "They make you sick all the time. They make you throw up, and then you went to the hospital when we were in Smallville. You didn't get to each Aunt Lois' ice cream."
He did not realize it before. But Oliver's stiff shoulders relaxed at his son's answer. "Connor, your mommy was sick a lot too when she was pregnant with you. It's just how the body adjusts. But we loved you then just like we love the twins. Can the babies count on their big brother Connor to love them, even when they make Aunt Chloe sick? They don't mean to do it."
Reluctantly, Connor nodded.
"I love you, Connor."
"I love you too, Aunt Chloe." And then Connor sat up to hug Chloe and his father. Connor bent down low and whispered loudly, "I love you too, babies."
"Listen, Connor, daddy and I are going away for a little bit for a vacation," Chloe told the boy.
"Can I come?" the boy asked, eyes blinking earnestly up at Chloe and Oliver.
"Not this time, buddy," Oliver answered for Chloe. "But I'll bring you back something cool , alright?"
"Okay. Come home soon," Connor reminded them when he curled back into the bed.
To Oliver's surprise, Chloe leaned forward and kissed his son's forehead for a long moment, breathing in his scent for an endless moment before rising quickly and brushing away the tears from her cheeks. She walked past him, and Oliver followed quickly behind her until they were outside Connor's door. At that point he caught her arm.
"Something's wrong," he concluded.
"Something is wrong," she agreed. "One by one your team is getting attacked. I don't want you to fall next," she repeated the same narrative over and over. Almost to the point, he thought, that he could believe her. "Please. Let's just go. The longer we're here the longer we're exposing Connor to danger."
He did not argue. Oliver quickly left Dinah's with Chloe. He opened the door of the car for her and took the driver's seat himself.
"The plane is waiting at the tarmac," he assured her.
Chloe nodded. Oliver started the car and slowly backed away from Dinah's driveway. Oliver's phone rang. He pushed the button to answer. "This is Oliver Queen. Speak."
"Oliver, get me off speakerphone," came Victor's voice.
Oliver frowned, then took the phone from the cradle and held it to his ear. He slowed the car to a stop in the night, the headlights on still. Chloe glanced at Oliver with concern.
"Glad to hear you're working again," Oliver greeted the member of his team.
"Can't put a good hero down, right?" Victor returned. "Listen. I've tracked down the hacker who attacked my system. She was good, nearly untraceable—but I'm better."
Oliver sat up straight in his seat. If they found this woman now, then there was no need to run away to pacify his wife. They could take her down from America.
"There's one problem."
"I've traced the IP activity and it looks like the same source has sent a bulk of emails and calls to Chloe. I'm having a hard time decrypting them from Chloe's system. But it's pretty evident that Chloe didn't want us to know that someone's been stalking her."
Oliver said goodbye and hung up the phone. He turned to Chloe. "If there's something wrong, would you tell me?"
"I want to leave and take a break with you so we can forget everything for just a little bit," she answered.
"Whoever this is, she's after you," Oliver realized.
"I don't you," she answered. "I understand less of this than you do. But Bart was attacked after he left Watchtower. Victor was attacked after we worked all night linked virtually. I won't wait for her to come after you."
Oliver nodded, eyes back on the road. He saw the dark figure in the distance and slowed the car. Chloe grabbed his arm. The slender figure of the young woman remained, fearless of the vehicle barreling down at her. As they neared the headlights illuminated the green leather jacket that hugged her body, the dark jeans that covered her legs. And then, they saw the glint of the barrel of the gun she raised and pointed at Chloe. Instinctively Oliver hit the brakes and unsnapped his seatbelt, then threw his body forward and over Chloe's.
The tires came to the screeching halt, but there was no gunshot. Oliver cautiously looked back outside and found the street empty. Chloe shook in her seat, grasping his body tightly to her.
"She's gone," he murmured.
And then he heard her sobbing. Chloe's fists beat on his arms, then his chest. "Stupid," she gasped. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
"Hey," he said gently, soothingly, "we're fine."
"Stupid!" she repeated. "You don't get to do that, Ollie. You don't get to get shot for me. I'm not living the rest of my life guilty of getting you killed!"
"I didn't get killed," he said weakly. "But I wasn't going to sit back and wait for the bitch to shoot you. I'm just as stubborn as you are, unfortunately, Mrs Queen."
Chloe swallowed. With unsteady hands, she pushed him back and off her. She scanned the dark street and found it empty. She blinked. "She's gone. But she's coming back. I could see it in her eyes, on her face. She's coming back for me, Ollie."
They said never to let emotions rule. Emotions got her father killed. Emotions certainly played the most part in her mother's downfall. All these years she had been successful in cutting off her propensity of the weakness of emotion, but one encounter and she could feel it shaking inside her, rattling inside her body like they were old skeletons in a closet.
She tossed the gun onto the table, then pulled off the stained green leather jacket and hung it reverently on the back of the chair.
Her father gave that to her mother, lovingly chose it because of all that it stood for. Once upon a time it symbolized security, until her mother turned her back on a hero and betrayed him, letting him die in a pool of his own blood on the nursery floor. Right where she slept at night.
It took years, but she was finally prepared to avenge him.
"Regina, what the hell do you think you're doing?" demanded the voice of reason, across the dimensions that she helped her travel.
"I'm doing everything you people were afraid to do," she responded, her voice biting through the communicator link.
"You don't have a place in that world, Reggie."
"Don't call me that," the young woman replied. "She called me that, right until she left me with you. I'm the Emerald Queen."
It was a hell of a pathetic way to honor her father, but it was the only way she knew how, because the woman had taken away any chance she had of knowing him. But the Justice League from her world had shown her the truth. Oliver Queen, her father, had been the greatest hero their world had ever known. And the greatest hero fell—not in a battle, not while saving lives. The Green Arrow died with a bullet in his back, because he had come and visited his daughter in her nursery.
"That is not a valid reason to use the transporter," Tess insisted.
The young woman's eyebrows rose. "My father's money paid for everything in there, including the transporter. You don't get to tell me what to do!"
"Regina, those people in there may look like your parents," Tess explained, "but they are completely different people. There is no place for you there."
"Because she killed me. She jumped and she killed me here," the young woman answered. "Just like she killed my father and kept it from me. An eye for an eye, Tess. She took away my family. I'll do the same to her."
"Do you really hate her?" Tess asked softly. "You wear her jacket every day, even before you were big enough for it."
"She didn't deserve it when my father gave it to her. I thought it should be worn by someone who loved him."
The idea of him at least. Chloe Sullivan took away her chance of knowing who Oliver Queen was.
Emotions always got the best of you—Anger defeated you. That was what Tom told her, and he was the only father she had ever known. Chloe took that away from her too on the day she decided to leave the Squad and hand her over to the team of the man she killed.
"Come home," Tess said to her once again.
Regina closed her eyes. "Not until I find some peace, Tess." Blindly, eyes closed, Regina picked up the gun and whirled around, shot straight and jerking back. Again and again, until the bullets were gone. Then, without opening her eyes, Regina picked up the compound arrow she remembered was sitting at the corner. Again she rotated her body until she knew she was at the same precise angle, then fired off three arrows.
The arrows were embedded on the wall exactly where the bullets hit. A clear four feet off the ground, practiced and measured to be precise. If she hit straight there very time, every last one of her shots was sure to shred Chloe Sullivan's heart to pieces.
She had no use for a heart anyway.
Away from home, back fifteen years into the past. This was how Regina Queen would avenge her father.