LEGENDS: This is How Angels Wept
Characters: Chloe, Oliver, JL, Connor
AN: 14th of the series.
Summary: Not all successful missions of vengeance turns out to be based on the plan.
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
This is How Angels Wept
For as long as she could remember, Regina Queen's mother wept.
That was not to be mistaken as Chloe Sullivan crying all the time, every second wiping away her tears or sobbing hysterically in one corner of the house. No. Chloe Sullivan was stoic even, expressionless at best. But every time Regina saw her, even in her silence, even when she smiled, Regina could see straight into her soul and she knew that Chloe Sullivan wept. When Regina passed by the lonely bedroom—which was always cold despite the warmth of the California night—she would hear her mother's quietness, hear a muffled gasp, and Regina knew in those quiet moments Chloe Sullivan wept.
When she was a little girl she made it a point to crawl into bed with her mother, hug her tightly, even assure her—when Regina truly had no right or power to change the way things were—that everything would be alright.
By that time, Regina could remember, Tom had already left for Moscow. The cloud of sadness hovered over her mother from the day that Uncle Tom had spent an entire day through the night without taking off Oliver Queen's face. Shortly after that, Chloe deposited her at the doorstep of a large, yawning tower powered by computers and surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows.
That day before her mother left, Regina saw for the first time the sparkle of her mother's tears.
"Reggie," her mother said her name. She was so young then, but Regina remembered the conversation even when she had forgotten every bedtime story and each lullaby. After all, every night after that she lived through her mother's goodbye. "I named you after him, you know. Even when I thought he'd turned his back on me, I gave you that name. Because I loved him."
And she was too young to know to ask. Regina had been too young to challenge her.
"They're going to tell you all about your dad, okay? You listen to them. Listen to all their stories and always remember me."
And with those words Chloe Sullivan left her life for good.
All the better. In the months and years that followed, with every detail that Regina learned, she loved her father more. It was Impulse's tales of legendary rescues, Aquaman's description of the way he led the team, Dinah's worn out photographs that showed him handsome and strong and golden like Reggie as she grew, Victor's stories of his intelligence and wit. Tess avoided speaking about him. She supposed the redhead behind the computer had nothing to tell. And then once in their late night gatherings when Clark idly mentioned her father's name Regina caught a glimpse of Tess' face.
"He was the best—the best of all of them," Tess finally admitted to her. "You would have loved him. Your mother really did."
Chloe Sullivan loved him so much she traded her life for his, loved him so much she turned around and killed him. All because she loved him.
Regina did not understand how that was love.
But one love she understood. It was not the love Chloe claimed she had for her daughter. After she claimed to love her, Chloe Sullivan had turned around and walked away.
One love Regina understood. It was the love that made Tom enter into the Watchtower, gave him the strength to face down and walk past the members of the Justice League that saw him as an enemy. It was the love that Tom had in his eyes when he knelt in front of Regina and took her hand—the kind of love that was gentle and shamed at the same time.
"Your mom ain't coming back, sweetheart," Tom had told her, placing in her hands the ring her mother wore that told the world she married her father. There was a hitch in his voice, Regina remembered, like his breath cut off when he needed air the most. Abruptly he broke her gaze and looked down at his boots. And then he gathered himself, because of love, Tess told her afterwards—her observation as she watched from a distance. He looked back up at Regina, tilted her chin so he would stare into her eyes. "And I swore to her I'd come for you. She saved my life in Moscow, and I swore I'd take you if you want."
This was the love that Regina understood. Love saved, kept promises. Love was not abandonment, not killing. Chloe Sullivan reserved all her love for someone else.
Back then, as a child, she shied away from his touch like he was not the man she had grown up to recognize as her father.
Regina crouched on the rooftop, monitoring the arrival and departure to the building. Tess had claimed her mother was genius, before she turned to the Suicide Squad. Regina had to wonder about the state of her inheritance, when the woman could not even recognize a fake when she saw one. Chloe Sullivan's hideout was at face value impressive. But after a few days of her watch, it was easy to identify that this was this time's Watchtower.
Victor came. So did AC. Clark managed a visit once in a while. And though her eyes were not trained enough to see him come and go, Regina was sure that Bart was a frequent visitor. And then Dinah had come, with a little golden haired boy in tow. With her binoculars Regina watched from her perch as Chloe Sullivan picked up the boy and held him tight. And she cursed her faulty binoculars—the fogginess was certainly not her tears—for making it difficult to see. Chloe whirled him around and around and produced a plastic little dinosaur toy from her drawer, laughed when the boy jumped up and down, kissed him on the top of his head like Regina never remembered she did for her.
She licked her lips. Soon her time here would be over, and Tess and Emil would find a way to suck her back into her space in time. Before then she would exact her vengeance for the life she led.
Regina would see her bleed yet.
She could have had a father, a real father. She could have grown up with a man who did not peel away the face of someone else. And lieu of that, maybe a mother who did not cry the entire time as if life with her was hell on earth, a mother who did not walk away to get herself killed for someone else.
Maybe she would not have to watch quietly, without a trace of guilt, as she pondered the many ways she would like to watch Chloe Sullivan die while she held a little boy who laughed and squirmed in her arms.
Regina slid the knife into her boot, then checked the pistols on either side of her waist. She narrowed her eyes at the depth of the drop to the street. Regina jumped, landed on her feet with her knees bent. It was one of the things she learned from Dinah. How apt that on the day she made her move, it was Dinah inside the Watchtower. She could match the woman every offense, knew every defense.
When she straightened she tugged at the bottom of the green leather jacket to straighten it. "This is for you, dad" she whispered, thinking back and hating that the face she remembered was Tom's disguise of Oliver Queen. She could not even remember how very precise Nemesis drew his masks.
She ran across the street, slipped into the alley and stopped at the window. Very carefully, quietly, Regina cut a round opening big enough for herself through the glass window and slipped in.
Right there, in the center of the hidden Watchtower, was Chloe Sullivan.
And her throat itched for her to call her mother.
The woman looked exactly the same way when she turned her back and walked away, the day she swore she loved Regina, that time when she decided saving Nemesis meant more than keeping her daughter. From the day Tom spent the entire day with them as Oliver Queen, her mother had never been the same.
Chloe paused at the computer. The way Chloe's shoulders stiffened and she raised her head, Regina knew that her mother recognized another presence was in the room. Before Chloe looked at her, she glanced surreptitiously at the hidden doorway towards where Regina knew Connor and Dinah waited. Even now she thought first of other people before deeming it worth her time to look at her.
"I'm right here," she said in a mock whisper. Regina cocked her head to the side. She absolutely hated the look on her mother's face now, like her brain raced to find a way to keep her from knowing what she already knew. "Don't think of them yet," she advised. "I'm here for you, Chloe."
Chloe's gaze scanned her face, and Regina remembered how Tess would say how very much she looked like her father. Regina could not tell the degree of its truth. After all, she barely remembered him.
Before Chloe could respond, Regina bent down and grabbed the hilt of the knife. Within a split second she had thrown it towards Chloe Sullivan. Her mother reacted quickly, lunging behind the computer. The knife embedded into the wall. She would have to get that. It had been Canary's gift to her. The Canary in her world, at least. The one from here had turned to be a weakling carting around a little boy who seemed to think Chloe was his mother too.
"What do you want?" Chloe demanded as she cowered behind a computer.
"I have a score to settle," Regina drawled out. She needed to keep it simple. She hated long expositions. Her knife was gone, and a gun would just call attention. This Dinah that was stupid enough to become a mother could still so easily slip into the Watchtower and open her mouth.
Regina burst into a run and grabbed Chloe's shoulder, then pushed her down on the ground. Chloe panted underneath him. She expected her to throw her hands up to ward her off. Regina had mentally prepared herself for that touch. Instead her mother threw her arms around her belly in a protective gesture. Regina looked down between them. Her lips parted at the sight.
Almost always when she watched from afar, out in the streets Chloe had been bundled up, through the windows she only saw part of her. Regina blinked, then rose and stepped away from Chloe so quickly she almost crashed into a column.
Chloe raised her upper body up from the floor, her eyes wet with tears now, and Regina hated herself for suddenly pitying her. She wondered if Chloe was not in pain.
"Don't hurt them. Whatever you want, we can talk about it," Chloe claimed. "We can always talk about," she said, like she believed it, like everything depended on a conversation.
Fuck her lies. She did not talk it though with her when she decided to leave her daughter to the Justice League and get herself killed off in Moscow.
"Just don't hurt the babies."
Regina spied the compound bow that sat on the table not far away. It was a sign, she thought. Her father had left her a sign. They said her accuracy was inborn, a gift from a father she never really knew. Within moments the weight of the bow was in her hands. She pulled at the string, relished the taut strength between her fingers, wondered if the smell that surrounded her was her father's essence.
The door yawned open. Chloe turned wide eyes towards the crack. Regina glanced towards it.
"Don't," Chloe cried.
Regina's lips curved. The little boy that thought this woman was his mother. That little boy whose heart would bleed when Chloe Sullivan left him behind, like she was bound to do.
She released an arrow, the tip buried and screaming beware to anyone who would dare to enter. Chloe had made it to her feet now, wavering slightly and Regina had to conclude that maybe there was some effect to her attack.
"Thank you," Chloe whispered. The two words hung in the air between them.
"I didn't do it for you," Regina growled the correction.
"It doesn't matter. You kept Connor away."
Chloe Sullivan's pale hand rested on the swell of her belly. The sparkling diamond was brilliant and blinding, called Regina's attention to the movement. They had everything denied to her, everything she lost, everything she would have had if her mother had done it all another way. Regina blinked away that tears that rose unbidden to her eyes. She slowly drew out another arrow and set her eyes on that woman. And she whispered, "I wish to God you knew the reason you're going to die."
Regina ignored the way Chloe's eyes drifted closed. Instead she eyed the tip of the arrow, primed and ready as it were.
The noise was like an explosion. The backdoor burst open and the alarms sounded around her. Soon they would come like ants, would fill the Watchtower like they did in the event of a threat. Regina let loose the arrow right in that split second when a leather-clad hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her. She ignored the cry behind her. She froze where she stood as she faced the man in front of her.
He was clad in shining green leather, his hood raised to cover his head, his face half hidden by black shades. Tess was right, she told herself. His face was chiseled, the lines of his face angular and beautiful and she understood why everyone remembered him fondly. He was in every way a hero straight from dreams. "Daddy," she breathed. And for a second she was small again, standing in that playground looking across the yard, waiting for Tom in his other face. For a brief moment she was a little girl sitting abandoned in the Watchtower, listening to Tess tell stories about the Green Arrow. She threw her arms around his neck, pressed herself tight against him. "Daddy!" she repeated, jubilant that this was not a waste, that this time she would save her father.
Unlike every attempt she had made to go to the past, every time she watched her mother walk into that nursery and empty a barrel of a gun into Oliver Queen's gut.
Regina had dreamed of this so long, she knew the next thing she would feel were his strong arms wrapping around her. Instead the Green Arrow took her by the arms and threw her back against the wall. She dropped to the floor in a daze, recovered and pushed herself up. The Green Arrow stood there and pulled the hood down, removed the shades that hid his eyes.
The front door leading to the mock office opened at a kick, and Regina found herself looking at the figure of Oliver Queen. When Dinah and a child rushed behind him, the Green Arrow threw up a hand in warning. "Cover his eyes!" the Green Arrow yelled in warning, and without question Oliver pushed the kid into Dinah's arms and rushed them away.
Chloe Sullivan pulled herself up on the column. Regina glared at the sight of the bleeding arm. Flesh wound, she recognized. The Green Arrow, who had seemed like her father but now revealed by unmasking was not, went over to Chloe Sullivan and covered the wound with a cloth he produced from nowhere.
"Connor," Regina heard her say in recognition.
Regina watched as Oliver Queen approached the young man. In morbid fascination she watched as Oliver Queen checked his wife's wound, then take Connor into his arms and wrap him in an embrace that made her throat tighten, made it difficult to breathe.
And then the Green Arrow was on her—vaguely she realized this could have been her brother—maybe, some way—until she was certain that in her world her father never married his mother. This brother that never a brother, this is the man who would be the death of her. His large hand wrapped around her neck. His thumb and forefinger pressed at the sides of her throat. Her vision darkened.
She was going to die, and she never even got to hug her father.
"I'd have chased you until the edge of the universe, Reggie," he said, in a way so familiar and bitter that she recognized how much this meant to him, how long he had spent on this very goal. Maybe as long as she had spent finding a way to avenge her father. "I wasn't going to let you turn my life into what it's become after you killed my brother and my sister."
She struggled under his hand. He was so much stronger, she thought. Her eyes rested on the scar that ran from the corner of his eye to the top of his lip.
"I'm not going to take up the weapon before I have to," he spat out. "Not because you had a temper and a skewed view of the past. I don't care that you're his daughter too. I won't let you destroy my life."
And it was not so farfetched that his future enabled him the same way it enabled her, to search out the root of the problem, the cause of misery. Only in his future, Connor had identified her.
His hold on her slackened. Regina looked at the hand that Connor raised, the hand that faded right between them.
"You're insane!" she spat out. "If you change your past, you're not going to exist!" In any other way, in a world that was normal and not theirs, it could be construed as a sister scolding a younger brother. But the way he faded away saved her life.
His figure was transparent, almost. He looked back once to Chloe, who leaned heavily against Oliver. He gave a small smile. "Better this than the life you were going to let me live, Reggie." And then, he walked back towards Chloe and his father. Regina watched as he faded with every step. He was thin as smoke when he reached them again. Oliver reached for him but his hand passed through the air. Connor was mist when he leaned and rested his lips on his aunt's cheek.
And then they turned to her. Regina gasped as she caught her breath, rubbed her neck as she recovered from Connor's attack.
Her heart clenched when Oliver took a step, placing himself between her and Chloe Sullivan. But he was closer to that woman, infinitely closer when Regina had lived most of her life yearning for him.
"Daddy," she said again.
His eyes narrowed. His jaw locked. He did not budge.
Her eyes filled. "Daddy, I just wanted to save you."
His hands fisted at his sides. Regina saw the flare of his nostrils. He shook his head very slightly. "Go home," he said in a gravelly voice. Regina took a step forward. "Go back, Regina. Go back while I still remember how you looked like sleeping in your mother's arms."
He remembered. And then, like there was slow, falling rain clearing her vision, Regina thought back to the night that Tom refused to take off her father's face. It was right before Chloe Sullivan abandoned her. She squeezed her eyes tight.
"It doesn't change the fact that she killed you," she whispered.
When she opened her eyes, her father had turned her back to her. He tended to the wound she had caused.
"Ollie," she heard the soft, pained voice. It was her. It was Chloe Sullivan.
And finally, Oliver turned around and walked towards her. Regina trembled in anticipation. Oliver stopped a foot away. She choked a cry in her throat, then threw her arms around Oliver's body. Regina took a breath deep enough that she would inhale enough of him to fill the void of the years she had spent without him, deep enough that there would be memories of his scent for many more years to come. And then, reluctantly at first, Oliver wrapped his arms around her.
"I missed you," she whispered. Regina had said it to her father countless times in her dreams. This felt exactly the same. "I love you," she said.
"You don't know everything," her father said into her ear. "If there is one thing you need to know, if there's one lesson you will learn from me, it's that. You don't know everything, Reggie."
When he moved to release her, Regina clung for a hundred more heartbeats. And then she let him pull away.
"Your mother loved you," he said. She glanced towards the woman she had wanted to kill ever since she could remember. Regina turned her eyes away. "Did you learn about your father from the Justice League?" When she nodded, he continued, "Then you learn about your mother from Tom. You're old enough to travel across; you're old enough to accept the truth. You will look at yourself in the mirror one day and you'll see her." His voice grew stern. "Go home and figure it out."
"They're both dead," she whispered. "It doesn't matter."
The hair on her arms rose when he grabbed her wrist. "They're both dead?" Regina nodded. "Then it matters like it didn't matter before. It matters because you're the only thing they left. That's why it matters that you go home and made the right different in that world."
Regina's gaze wandered towards Chloe, who looked at her like she wanted a moment with her, to take her in her arms the way Regina wanted to hold her father. Instead Regina took the device that she had taken from Tess. To her father she said, "I'll make you proud, daddy." She was silent when she turned one last look towards Chloe Sullivan, before transporting herself back to the dark Watchtower.
Regina stood in the empty room. It was cool, and she wrapped her arms around herself, breathed and wished she smelled her father still. But the scent had gone as quickly as his face faded. Regina looked at the reflection of herself in the mirror. She pushed back her hair, then made her way across the room. The silence surrounding her was deafening. Finally she entered the bedroom she had been provided, and she walked towards the drawer cabinet. She placed the travel device heavily on the mantel, knocking out the few knick knacks she had left. Regina rubbed her neck idly. Her bastard of a brother almost killed her before he faded away.
Ad her father would have two more babies—a brother and a sister, Connor said in his rage. She wondered if they even knew it before Connor's furious rant. They would be beautiful. They would have Chloe and her father. Completely. Without complications. They were the luckiest children in the world.
Regina bent down and picked up the few items that had dropped to the floor. She spied a glint under the cabinet and reached for it. Her hand closed over metal. Regina sat on her unmade bed and looked down at the ring in her hand.
Fifteen years ago Tom had returned from Moscow and told her that Chloe was dead, closed her hand over the ring that lied to the world. But the lie was gone, forgotten, never mattered. They were gone—both of them. Oliver Queen and Chloe Sullivan, and it did not matter one bit to everyone left behind whether they married, whether Chloe killed him. Regina was the only one left of the two. She closed her hand tight around the wedding ring.
All that mattered was that they were gone.
She was left behind.
Regina curled her tired, beaten body on top of the crumpled sheets, cradling the ring before her and she let out a sob. Alone, in an empty Watchtower, abandoned and orphaned, too unforgiving for a last embrace—
This was how a proud Queen wept.