Epiphanies

Recap: Chloe figures out she is in love with Oliver the day before her wedding to Jimmy and runs out on her nuptials. Determined to change her life for the better she returns to Metropolis ready to do the deep introspection needed to accomplish that. She keeps her love for Oliver a secret from everyone and pushes him away. Slowly Oliver manages to figure the new Chloe out, finding out about her healing ability and everything that comes with it, leading him to figure out he loves her after she "dies" healing him from the gunshot. Davis is following Chloe, absolutely convinced that they should be together, but Chloe is focused on Oliver, especially after he starts waging a campaign to make her notice him as more than a friend. Lana is back in town and reconnects with Clark who still has feelings for Lois. Chloe embarks on a relationship with Oliver, while holding back, waiting for the inevitable end. Oliver and Chloe finally say their 'I love you's.' Lois and Clark end their fledgling relationship (again), but Lois decides to torture Clark by showing up with a prominent date to the DP's 100 years in business gala. The beast attacks the party injuring Oliver mortally while trying to kidnap Chloe. The team pulls together with Lex as an unexpected ally, and Chloe heals Oliver. Hiding out at Watchtower, the team pieces together what they know about the monster. Chloe figures out it's Davis, Clark wants to save him, Lois finds out about Bruce and Dinah, and the team (minus Clark) implement their plan to take down Davis once and for all. Davis is buried at the Geothermal plant site, Chloe and Oliver seem happy, even if they are homeless, Clark is upset at everyone, and Tess returns with nefarious intentions.

Chapter 33

CO-CO-CO

Three days later Chloe and Clark still haven't talked, and Oliver decides that enough is enough. No matter what Chloe said, she was sad about the rift with her oldest friend, and Oliver hated being the cause of it. Oliver heads to the Daily Planet, but instead of entering the building he goes to a nearby alley.

Five minutes later Clark enters the alley, already pulling at his tie to loosen it. He stops short when he sees Oliver leaning casually against a brick wall. "Oliver. What are you doing here?"

"You should really think about varying up your routine, Clark." Clark frowns and opens his mouth then clamps it shut again. A heavy silence fills the alley. Oliver looks darkly amused. "OK, I'll start. If you want to be mad at someone or whatever it is you're doing, be mad at me. Chloe doesn't deserve to be treated this way."

Clark remains silent, but looks faintly guilty.

Oliver continues, "Chloe was in danger, maybe you were OK with letting the situation drag on, but I wasn't. The team may have agreed with me, but it was my decision and I stand by it. You and I look at the world and see different things Clark and I don't think either of us are going to change anytime soon, but we should agree here and now to leave Chloe out of whatever problems we have with each other."

Clark relaxes a tiny bit, but still manages to appear like he's looking down his nose at Oliver. "Agreed. Chloe is my friend and I only want the best for her."

Oliver smiles at the backhanded criticism. "As do I. Chloe and I are in it for the long haul Clark, maybe you can start getting used to the idea."

Clark tries to hold his tongue, but doesn't manage it. "You never stay anywhere or with anyone for long Oliver. How am I not supposed to be concerned about Chloe when you decide to leave?" Oliver smiles, knowing that he won't be leaving Metropolis until Chloe was ready to come with him. Clark continues his complaints, "We both know that time will come, and you'll do what's best for you regardless of what's best for her no matter how much you say you care."

"Are you sure you're not projecting your issues onto me, Boy Scout? I may have been selfish in the past, who hasn't, but I'm not selfish when it comes to Chloe. If you were paying attention I think you'd have seen that. I'm fine if you want to cast me in the role of heartbreaker, but I think we both know who has hurt Chloe more in this life."

Clark reels back, not able to deny Oliver's words, so he chooses to proceed with his attack. "I know I'm not perfect. But I'm trying to protect her. Chloe is my best friend. Who do you think will be here to pick up the pieces once you're gone?" Clark says, completely sure that he is right about the outcome of their relationship. "And what if it does last awhile? She's already having to deal with being associated with you publically."

Oliver frowns, Chloe hadn't mentioned any problems to him.

"People know her face now, know that all they have to do to get to you is get to her. You're dangerous to her as Oliver Queen or Green Arrow."

Oliver's jaw tightens, but his voice is level when he replies. He's nearly seven years older than Clark and is determined to not yet the younger man goad him into saying something that will worsen the situation. "She's been in danger since she met you Clark. How many of her close calls were because she was involved with you? Chloe is in this life, she's in it. I'm doing everything I can to make it as safe as possible for her. Don't you think that you're being a hypocrite to question me about Chloe's safety?"

Oliver barely bites back the words that when and if he left Metropolis, Chloe would still be with him. They might have to do the long distance thing for some time while they figured things out, but Oliver's long term plan was to be with Chloe. Somehow he doubted that Clark was ready to hear that when Oliver left, he was taking Chloe with him.

Clark doesn't respond, so Oliver continues. "So we're agreed then. Any problems you have with me don't effect Chloe. Good talk." Having accomplished his goal, Oliver nods to Clark and walks away, his gait deceptively relaxed, while Clark was rigid with tension.

CO-CO-CO

At Oliver's repaired loft, Chloe looks up to see Oliver as he enters. "I can't believe I beat you home, considering you work just two floors down," she teases.

"I needed to run an errand." Oliver walks over to Chloe and drops a lingering kiss on her lips. "What's for dinner?"

Chloe tilts her head consideringly, and Oliver begins to kiss a path along her neck. "Take your time," he murmurs. "I can amuse myself for awhile."

Chloe never questions that billionaire CEOs don't run their own errands.

CO-CO-CO

The next morning Chloe is startled when Clark actually greets her as she comes into the office. Her eyes track his progress as he walks to his desk. "Clark… good morning to you too." His smile to her is an odd compression of lips that looks more like constipation than any actual happiness at seeing her. Chloe arches one eyebrow, waiting for another indication of his change of attitude towards her but he busies himself with work. Chloe shakes her head and returns to her own story.

CO-CO-CO

Chloe meets Lana for lunch that day. The girls get through most of the hour with light conversation and a silted recap of events regarding Davis for Lana.

"I'm glad you're safe Chloe."

"Me too. But not just me, all of us."

"I can't believe he… it…"

Chloe smiles, "Pick your pronoun, we all go back and forth still."

"It… was at the Talon. I could have been there."

Chloe smiles ruefully, Lana still had a way of making things about her. "Yeah. So are you coming tonight?"

"Tonight?" Lana asks in confusion.

Chloe draws back, suddenly feeling awkward, quickly followed by annoyance at Clark for remaining in limbo in his relationships with Lana and Lois. "Yeah," Chloe says slowly. "The team is going out to celebrate while everyone is still in town. Sorry, I thought… Clark even agreed to come, so I thought…"

Lana smiles sadly. "Clark doesn't really talk to me anymore. About anything, but especially not about this kind of stuff." Chloe smiles awkwardly. "I know he's just trying to protect me, but I don't know how we can be together if he's keeping all this stuff from me. Maybe that's the point."

"The point?" Chloe inquires reluctantly, not wanting to be any more involved than she is.

"Maybe we can't be together. Maybe he doesn't want to be with me anymore," her voice is so soft Chloe struggles to hear her words. "Maybe too much has happened, maybe he doesn't love me anymore."

Chloe cringes internally at Lana's words, not knowing what to say to her. Chloe hesitates, not wanting to be in the middle anymore, but both are her friends. "Lana," she takes a deep breath and blows it out with obvious tension. "I'm not telling you what to do, but you deserve to be happy. And if you can't be happy with not knowing what's going on with… whoever you're with, then you need to acknowledge that and either work it out with… him, or you need to decide that you deserve better and end it." Chloe stops to look at Lana with regret. "I'm sorry, but don't you think it's time that both of you faced your issues like adults and made a decision, one way or the other?"

Lana nods slowly, sorrow filling her dark eyes.

"I don't want you to wake up in a year or three years and realize that you're still waiting for him to decide that he wants you enough to give you what you need to be happy. Either you accept how it is or he changes. Or you both change, I don't know."

"You can tell me to shut up at any point here, you know?" Chloe says with forced humor.

"No, I think you're right. I just don't know if I'm ready to make that decision yet. I love him," Lana says with certainty.

"I know."

CO-CO-CO

That night the team meets up at a bar called The Local. The vibe was laid back with darts, shuffleboard, a long curved wooden bar with scattered bowls of peanuts and the music provided by a jute box. A popcorn machine stood against the back wall, offering free popcorn to whoever wanted some.

Chloe looked around the room, smiling affectionately as Victor and AC faced off at shuffleboard, Bart standing nearby trying his best pickup lines on their server. Lois was sitting beside her, cracking jokes about how she could beat both AC and Victor at any bar games. "I could teach you, you know. Every girl should be able to throw a dart and sink at least one ball when breaking at pool," Lois offers.

"Thanks Lo, that's generous. But my hand eye coordination is not optimal for darts after I've had more than one drink, and if I'm going to suffer through the condescension of lessons at pool, I'll do it with Oliver."

Lois grins in response. "Where is Jolly Green anyway?" she asks.

Chloe glances around the room a sad smile gracing her face. "He and Clark are… not seeing eye to eye, so he thought it would be better if he didn't come," Chloe says tactfully.

"Translation, Clark wouldn't come if Oliver was here," Lois scoffs.

Chloe shrugs, that was close enough to the truth.

Clark enters the bar and comes over to say hi to Lois and Chloe. When Lois and Clark start to flirt, Chloe takes her leave, heading over to watch the boys play shuffle board. Bart wraps his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his conversation with the server. "Chloe will vouch for me, right Liscious? I'm a good guy, right?" he asks eagerly.

Chloe smiles back, "The best."

The sever looks from Bart to Chloe. "I'm not even sure you're legal yet kid, let alone a safe bet."

"Of course I'm legal," Bart boasts. "You saw my ID with my address, feel free to stop by whenever."

The server laughs. "Right, I'll remember that. If he's so great, why aren't you dating him?" the girl asks Chloe.

Chloe arches a look at Bart. "Ah man, she totally broke my heart, totally fell for my friend."

CO-CO-CO

A little while later, Bart had managed to convince the server to have a late dinner/early breakfast with him that night. Clark had come over to say hello to the guys, but had refused to take his turn at shuffleboard. Chloe rolls her eyes at him and takes his turn, playing against Victor. Lois hollers directions to Chloe from across the room while AC trash talks Victor about what it will mean to lose to a girl.

It's then that Lana walks in. Lois's gaze locks on the shorter girl then shifts to Clark who suddenly looks tense and uncomfortable. Lois waits for Clark to react, but he just says hi to Lana softly as she greets him with a happy smile. "It took me forever to find this place," she breathes. "Sometimes I forget how big Metropolis really is."

Lois rolls her eyes and looks in askance at Clark. "Lana, I wasn't sure you were coming… let me get you a drink," Clark offers.

"Thanks Clark, I'll have a white wine," Lana says in her whispery voice.

Lois snorts. "Lois, do you want anything?" Clark offers, trying to straddle the fence between the girls. "No. Looks like if I want something, I'll have to get it for myself. Like usual."

Lana blinks in confusion as Lois walks away, and Clark looks upset.

Things only go downhill from there.

Lois is playing against Chloe at shuffle board, when Lana comments, "I don't think I understand this game, I thought the goal was to get as far down the table as you could without falling off, not to knock off the other player's discs."

"You could play it safe, only get far enough down the board to get one point maybe two, not put enough effort into the game to go for the best score, trying to avoid the other player's positions. But that's boring. It's like life. If you want something you have to commit to it, go all out, be willing to knock some people around. That's how you win. But I guess mediocrity is good enough for some people. Right, Clark?"

Clark flushes but Lana clearly doesn't get Lois's point. "Wouldn't it be better if we all tried out best without damaging anyone else's position?"

"No," Lois disagrees and smashes Chloe's disc off the board.

"Great," Chloe says darkly. "You win, and I'm getting a drink." Chloe flees back to the bar with AC and Victor following her closely.

"Wow that was awkward," Victor says with some amusement.

"Yeah," AC says with a frown, looking at Lois's angry expression.

"How are you not reacting to the extreme level of awkward here?" Victor asks, nudging Chloe's shoulder.

"I work with Lois, and I've been friends with all three of them for longer than I care to remember. You kinda get used to it. Like a tolerance to alcohol. Or how you stop smelling something bad if you're around it all the time."

AC laughs.

CO-CO-CO

Not much later Lois and Chloe are both fairly drunk, having taken to doing shots at the bar. AC promises to get Lois back to Watchtower safely, and Victor walks Chloe back to Oliver's. "What are we going to do about Oliver and Clark?" he asks, not bothering to ease into the topic.

Chloe jerks her head around to stare at him, not having expected the question. "I don't know, and any plans I could come up with after…" she counts on her fingers, "… five, no six drinks is not a plan you should try."

Victor laughs. "But you do have a plan, right?"

Chloe looks sad, the answer clear, and Victor smiles at her in reassurance. "Don't worry Tower, between the two of us we're smart enough and stubborn enough to knock some sense into those two."

Chloe laughs, "You're a good friend Victor."

CO-CO-CO

Oliver is sitting at his desk when Chloe spills off the elevator into his loft. He looks up and grins at her messy hair and flushed cheeks. "Had a good time, I see."

"It was alright," she says with a pout. "Would have been better if you were there." She walks towards him deciding that crawling into his lap is a good way to express how much she missed him. Oliver laughs and pushes away from the desk to give her more room.

"How early did you start drinking if you're this drunk at," he checks his watch, "10:38." Oliver's hands brace her precarious perch in his lap, holding firmly to her waist as she wiggles around trying to get comfortable.

"I was drinking with Lois," she states imperiously, as if it explained everything, and it mostly did. Considering that topic closed she moves on to what she really came for. "Ollie," she leans in to kiss him, but her lips land somewhere to the left of his mouth.

"Did you miss?" he asks with eyebrows raised, wondering just how drunk she was and what he should do with her.

Chloe sits back in his lap, nearly overbalancing and falling right off if Oliver's hard hands hadn't been strong enough to pull the balance of her weight back. "Are you laughing at me?" She blinks bleary eyes at him, trying to focus on his face. His mouth is a straight line but his eyes are gleaming with amusement.

"That's not very nice." She tries to stand up but Oliver merely tilts back in the chair pitching her forward onto his chest where she lands with a soft "Oomph."

She struggles to get free of him but between her own clumsy drunkenness and his position and hold on her is completely unsuccessful. After a minute she gives up and presses kisses into his neck trailing upwards to his ear. "If you can't be nice, I'm gonna' go home."

"I'm more than willing to be nice, Chloe." He settles her against him more comfortably, sliding his hand into the silk of her hair to angle her face up to his. "I wouldn't let you leave here like this even if your apartment was repaired."

Her lip pouts out again and he captures it between his own.

CO-CO-CO

The next night Oliver is back on patrol, with Chloe guiding him around the city from a remote linkup to Watchtower from his loft. "Alright, the B&E at the jewelry store is handled, MPD will have a gift wrapped surprise when they arrive, what's next?" Oliver asks in his distorted voice.

"The grid is clear Arrow."

"Hmm. So tell me then Tower, since we have some time to kill, what are you wearing?" Chloe's laughter fills his ears and he grins.

"You have a one track mind."

CO-CO-CO

At the Kent farm, Clark is standing in the barn loft staring across the green fields with a pensive expression on his face. Lana's light footsteps sound as she ascends the stairs. "Clark?" she calls out uncertainly.

"Hi Lana," Clark greets without a smile. "We need to talk." Clark watches, feeling his chest constrict as Lana's face falls, her eyes filled with sadness.

"It's not working is it. As much as we want it to," she says.

Clark nods, not sure that he really tried all that hard. This time when Lana came back he had thought their path was clear. No Lex, no secrets. But his thoughts always seemed to circle back to Lois, not Lana and Clark couldn't seem to let go of the past. He couldn't forget, and he didn't understand why Lana had done so many things. He wasn't sure he knew who she was anymore.

The night of the attack on the DP Gala he'd left Lana there, while rescuing Lois. He hadn't even remembered that Lana was there until after he'd lost Doomsday in a crumbled building.

"I thought… I thought that since we loved each other it had to work out. But I guess not. There really are no fairy tale endings."

Clark doesn't reply, and Lana's last hope that he would say something, anything to stop this from happening disappears. "It's Lois, isn't it?" She smiles, sad and with a bit of bitterness. "You've been asking a lot of questions and I guess that's your answer… I'm not the girl you're in love with anymore."

"I'm sorry Lana."

"I know. So am I. More than you know." She turns to leave.

Even then Clark feels the urge to call her back to promise that it can work out if they just give it one more try, but he realizes as she climbs into her car and drives away, that Lana had always been a fantasy to him, never a real person. He'd put her on a pedestal and when she'd fallen off, he'd never managed to look at her the same way again. Lois was real, Lois was flawed, and strong, and somehow she was the one that Clark really wanted. He wasn't willing to compromise for Lana, but he'd already accepted the things he'd have to deal with if he and Lois started dating for real.

He smiled at the prospect, suddenly feeling lighter than he had in years.

CO-CO-CO

The next day is Sunday and Oliver is looking forward to spending a lazy morning in bed with Chloe, but a emergency call from work, forces him to head downstairs to his office.

When he returns to the loft over an hour and a half later he is complaining about corrupt government officials and the difficulties of having manufacturing all around the globe, when Chloe exits the closet wrapped only in a towel with her hair still hanging in wet clumps around her face he breaks off in the middle of his sentence. Both his eyebrows rise as his gaze lowers to take in her body, Chloe's eyebrows furrow then a smile lights her face. Oliver feels his chest warm that she was still so easy pleased by his attention.

When he remains silent, staring at her she runs her fingers through her hair, trying to comb it to some semblance of neatness. Oliver's hand snakes out and fists around the knot that is holding the towel up, using his grip to reel her in.

"I had plans for us this morning. Naked plans."

She grins as her hands caress up his biceps. "Morning's almost gone."

"I'm flexible," he states with a suggestive grin as he pulls the towel away from her body, letting it fall to the ground. He shakes his head lightly. "Beautiful."

Chloe's smile widens, and Oliver is gratified that she doesn't try to cover herself from his view. "So will I be the only one naked here?" she flirts.

CO-CO-CO

Across town, Tess Mercer is sitting at a bank of screens, watching surveillance video of Oliver and Lex. Both men had burned her, Oliver twice, but Lex was the brunt of her anger. Tess still had a soft spot for Oliver but she wouldn't let it stop her from taking her revenge. And Lex, he had manipulated her, controlled her, used her, then dismissed her as if she had no more consequence than a fly. His words echoed in her ears. He'd caught up with her after she'd fled Metropolis, his men brining her to an abandoned shack outside of Nice.

"Tess," he'd paused to take in her terrified expression before she'd masked her reaction to seeing him. "Don't be afraid, I'm not going to kill you. Killing you would be more trouble than it's worth. You can't hurt me, you can't do anything. I just wanted to make sure we understood each other. You betrayed me. If I was my father's son you would be dead already. I'm showing you mercy. You have one chance. I'd suggest you take it. Don't involve yourself in my life again, Lutessa. Consider this your only warning."

Tess felt the burn of anger and resentment. Despite Lex's warning, or maybe because of it, she was using her position at Checkmate to take down Lex and Oliver. Both were involved in all kinds of things that Checkmate had found interesting once made aware of the billionaires interests.

Tess cued up another video watching as the Blur crashed into a Metropolis building with the monster that had attacked the Daily Planet Gala. Long after the Blur rushed away, a man crawled from the rubble. Tess had identified him as Davis Bloome, EMT. Interestingly enough, Davis Bloome seemed to have a set routine. Home, work, stalk Oliver's new girlfriend, and repeat. Although sometimes he did deviate. Sometimes his day consisted of home, stalk Chloe Sullivan, work, stalk Chloe Sullivan, then home again.

Tess sneered at the idea of little, bright eyed Chloe Sullivan from podunkville Kansas being the one girl to finally hold Oliver's interest. But there must be more to the blonde than Tess had given her credit for, considering that she seemed to have Oliver and Davis Bloome following after her with their tongues hanging out. Even Lex and Lionel seemed to have a soft spot for the girl.

CO-CO-CO

Back in the Clock Tower, Chloe is enjoying being held in Oliver's warm embrace. "You know, I think these uber-expensive sheets might actually be worth it. If you have money to burn," she says while rubbing the ultra soft cotton between her fingers.

"Any other pearls of wisdom for me?" Oliver says as his hand strokes over the silk of her skin.

"Hmm, well… Lois once implied that Clark was a better kisser than you... but I have to disagree."

Oliver's nose wrinkles. "She implied it?"

Chloe grins. "She might have said that the Green Arrow could teach you a thing or two. But she did say..."

He cuts her off with a kiss.

"It's disturbing to think about our little square peg of coupledom," Oliver says lightly.

"Hmm. You're right. Bringing up the fact that you and Clark tried to run your little scam on Lois..."

"Tried?" Oliver asks indignantly.

"And yet with a single look at the photographic evidence I knew..." Chloe says ponderously.

"The police sketch? That's when you knew I was the Green Arrow?"

"Oh yeah," she laughs. "Now, if we were going to talk about our four sided past, I could tell you about how I tortured Clark by having Lois tell him the story about how the Green Arrow Bandit kissed Lois." She smiles devilishly.

"While that sounds like fun waiting to be had, I think I'll pass if it means never thinking about the fact that you've kissed Clark."

She smiles, eyes glinting with amusement. "Jealous?" His jaw tightens. Her smile widens. "It's kind of hot. Jealousy."

"Yeah?"

"In moderation."

"Most things are better in moderation," he offers.

"Maybe. But not you. I'll take all of you, all the time."

"Is that right?" he grins.

"You know what I think?"

He shakes his head, wrapping his arms around her waist as she slides over his body.

"I think we've talked enough for one night."

He grins and pulls her head down for a kiss, putting every bit of skill and feeling he has for her into it.

"Wow. I mean. Wow," she says while trying gasping for breath.

"I'll show you wow."

CO-CO-CO

Tess stands over the dig site at the Geothermal plant with two men walking around waving machines over the disturbed rocks. "We're getting a heat signature, holy shit, it's moving. There is something alive down there," one of the men exclaims in wondrous horror.

"Something, or someone," Tess says to herself.


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