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. 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. 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. Chloe and the team pool their resources, and figure out Davis is the beast. They enact several plans to kill Davis or send him to the Phantom Zone, but Clark opposes them insisting that killing is wrong and Davis can be saved. The team regroups to find a solution to end Davis's reign of terror. Hal returns to Earth, and the team is hopeful that they'll be able to defeat Davis once and for all. Chloe goes to Lex for help, just as Davis reappears. The final fight takes place out in the open, with the team being decimated before Hal and Chloe manage to push Davis through the vortex into the Phantom Zone. The team settles back into normal life, Clark takes off to parts unknown, Lana heads back to Paris, and Chloe moves in with Oliver officially.

Look at all those bright, shiny reviews… it's like Christmas! Thanks.

Chapter 42: Epilogue (Part 2)

CO-CO-CO

Oliver didn't know how to feel about Chloe and Lex having any type of relationship, even if it was merely mutual respect.

"Chloe... Lex may have a soft spot for you, but you need to remember-"

"I'm not delusional or fooling myself about who Lex is, Oliver. You don't have to worry. I know that the only reason he's ever helped or protected me was for some end game of his own. I might not know what his reasons are, but I do know that," she says calmly. "I admit I fell for it before. But I was a teenager then. I know better now. We can't trust Lex to do anything but what is best for him. We might be able to use that, but making a deal with the devil has costs that are usually more than we're willing to pay."

Oliver nods, glad that she was clear on where she stood with Lex. "Control."

"What?"

"That's what Lex wants. What he's always wanted. Control."

Chloe nods slowly, seeing the truth in Oliver's assessment.

CO-CO-CO

Oliver has to go to Star City again the following week, he'd put off a lot of obligations to be in Metropolis during the crisis. He also has a trip scheduled to Germany and Estonia planned for later in the month. Queen Industries has significant holdings and manufacturing in Germany, much less in Estonia. The Estonian government was interested in adapting one of Oliver's newly proven green energy to a plant outside their capital.

Chloe and Oliver talk each day and every night, trying to set a good pattern for keeping in touch while separated, knowing that separation was a pattern they were destined to repeat. Chloe's job was in one fixed location, and Oliver's took him around the globe.

Oliver returns from Star City after six long days, eager to see Chloe in person. Walking through the door, he drops his jacket and bag in the entryway, seeing Chloe seated at his desk. She looked up at him warmly. "I wasn't expecting you for another..." he cuts her off, catching her in his arms and sealing his mouth over hers passionately.

Lifting her off her feet, Chloe eagerly wraps her arms and legs around him, forgetting about the research she was doing for Dinah the second his lips touch hers. Oliver carries her up stairs and straight to their bed, intent on reacquainting himself with her lush curves.

Lying in bed much later, Chloe turns to Oliver. "I missed you too."

He smiles at her his eyes soft and peaceful. "I missed you."

When she makes a move to get out of bed he wraps his long fingers around one of her thighs, holding her in place. "No more work tonight."

She smiles and slides her hand up his arm, enjoying the texture of his skin, wrapped tightly over bone and muscle. "No work, but I do need to brush my teeth, wash my face, and get a glass of water."

Oliver watches her pull the sheet away from her body, admiring her compact form visually. She walks to the bathroom naked, but he can tell she is still a bit self conscious under his rapt gaze.

Stepping up behind her as she brushes her teeth, he wraps his long arms around her stomach, resting his chin comfortably on top of her head. Oliver had been with a lot of women in his lifetime. Most of them could reasonably be called statuesque. Chloe was different. In bare feet the top of her head barely reached his shoulder. But it wasn't just that she was short. Her neck and wrists were small, as was her waist. Oliver thought women referred it as petite. She was petite. And she made him feel big and strong, and possessive and over protective. Which was part of what he hated about traveling without her, he had no idea what trouble she was getting into back home.

"Anything exciting happen while I was gone?" he questions in an absent tone.

"Not really," she replies blandly after rinsing out her mouth.

"So you didn't bring down the 32nd Street Gang?"

She smiles brightly at him in the mirror. "I may have shined the light on a way for the police to take them down..."

"Uh-huh," Oliver said grumpily. "You know, for someone so tiny you get into a lot of big trouble."

"I'm not tiny," she says, diverting the conversation from his real point.

"Right," he kisses the top of her head to punctuate his point about her stature.

"It's not my fault you're freakishly tall and have a long neck," she sasses.

"And you have perfectly shaped breasts and a beautifully rounded backside," he responds, cupping her breasts firmly then releasing one to slide his hand down to caress her bottom. She looks scandalized. "Since we're apparently referencing each other's body parts."

She opens her mouth to respond to his hubris, but he rolls one of her nipples in his fingers, causing her response to fade to a gasp as she arches into his touch.

CO-CO-CO

Chloe awoke the next morning, hating that she had to get up and get to work. A large part of her just wanted to spend the day in bed with Oliver. But it was Thursday, so she just has to get through two days until the weekend.

Oliver watches her move around the bedroom, closet and bathroom as she gets ready, enjoying her process. She was definitely not at her best until she'd had her second cup of coffee. "I need to go shopping."

"What do you need?" he inquires idly.

"A lighter weight suit. It's been so warm and humid lately."

"You know if you ever do move to Star City," she exits the closet with a sleeveless blouse in her hand, arching her eyebrows, "you may have to change your stance on me buying you stuff, you know since your wardrobe is mostly jackets, and California is warm and sunny most of the time."

"Nice try."

"What?" he asks innocently.

"When we move to Star City I'm sure my wardrobe will hold up just fine," she says drily. "I'll just wear less layers. At least it's not humid there."

CO-CO-CO

"I got you something," Oliver's voice sounded behind her, and Chloe turned to see him approaching with a gift wrapped box.

The long rays of a beautiful Midwest sunset lit the Watchtower's stained glass window, bathing them in colors. "Ollie, I don't need anything." She pauses, cocking her head to the side. "Unless it's coffee. Seriously rethinking your offer for a coffee plantation." He grins and kisses her lightly on the lips. "Or some new tech. Victor and I were talking-"

"Just open it," he interrupts.

Chloe frowns at him but opens the box to find what looks like a Star Wars toy. "You got me... the Death Star?" she makes a face and peers up at him, waiting for an explanation.

"No," he laughs. "With the team spread out, and your new alert system, as well as CheckMate and whatever new threat pops up next, I thought we could use some dedicated support."

Chloe nods, her lips pursed out. "From... the Death Star?" Her smile breaks out. "Humm," she says in a Yoda voice. "I understand not you. Explain more."

" I had Queen Industries launch an orbiter dedicated to... Watchtower."

Chloe's face slowly goes slack, her mouth gaping open. "Wait a minute. We have our own satellite?"

" Yeah."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?"

"Gift it was," Oliver replies in his own Yoda voice. "For you it was."

Her face lights with a smile. "Uh...well, I guess giving you a sweater for your birthday is sort of out of the question now."

She sets down the toy satellite, and pulls him into a kiss.

"Well, the satellite's up and running, but the transponders haven't been initiated for downlink yet. We need to flip a couple of switches at the earth station in order to be able to spy from the sky."

Later that night as Oliver leaves on patrol, she stops him. "Ollie?"

"Yeah, Sidekick."

"I have plans for you tonight, so, do me a favor, okay? Just keep a low profile." Oliver returns to her side and kisses her deeply, wrapping his arms around her. "I'm wearing green leather..." Chloe chuckles. "So I'll do my best."

CO-CO-CO

Chloe asked for a day off to give her a long weekend to spend with Oliver once he returned from his European trip. He returns late on Thursday, looking tired and jet lagged. They expect to have three full days together but just after 8am the next day his phone rings and keeps ringing until he answers.

"I have to go downstairs for a bit."

Chloe sighs but doesn't complain. He had a lot of responsibilities, and she wasn't going to make it any harder on him that in already was. "OK, I'll see you in a bit."

As soon as he leaves her expression falls and she flops over to bury her face in his pillow, pouting lightly. She gets out of bed 20 minutes later when her stomach grumbles, demanding food.

Oliver comes back upstairs to find she had been working. Her computer is open on the kitchen island with lines of script scrolling across the screen. A few bites of a muffin sat next to the computer, but Chloe is missing. Oliver hears slight sounds from the kitchen and follows them, only to be treated to the sight of her dancing with earbuds in as she makes a fresh pot of coffee. It was a familiar sight, but her outfit was new. Chloe is dressed in his old Harvard sweater with a pair of athletic knee socks on. He catches a glimpse of white cotton panties as she shakes her hips, reaching up for the sugar.

She turns around, coffee in hand, and screeches in surprise. Pulling her earbuds out by the wires, she glares at him. "Scare a girl much?"

"I worry about your diet, but right now I have more pressing concerns," he says seriously as his eyes trace her outfit causing her cheeks to flush. "I don't know whether to hope for a sexy bra underneath there, or nothing at all." He begins unbuttoning the sweater, starting at the bottom, his hands caressing each inch of skin he revealed, splayed wide to touch as much of her thighs, butt and hips as possible.

She bites her lip and looks up at him. "Doesn't seem like it's going to take you long to figure it out."

CO-CO-CO

"Ollie," Chloe's voice rings out from their upstairs bedroom. "When are you going to tell me what's going on?" her voice carries a plaintive complaint. She hated being left in the dark. About anything.

"What part of the word 'surprise' don't you understand?" Oliver is standing downstairs, waiting for her to finish getting dressed.

"The part where you think I like to be surprised," she answers back pertly, appearing at railing, dressed in color block dress that fell to her knees. The bodice was black, loose and with a modest boat neck neckline and a mustard yellow wrap skirt. She fussed with her small evening purse, checking to make sure she had everything she needed. Not that she knew what she needed, since he refused to tell her where they were going or what they were doing.

"You look beautiful, but you need to relax."

She puts her hands on her hips and glares down at him. "Watch it pal, or you'll be sleeping in the guest room."

Oliver grins, but his eyes dart to the kitchen where Chloe can't see what he's looking at. "That might be awkward..." Gabe says as he steps into view. "Since Oliver was so kind as to invite me to stay in the second bedroom."

Chloe's mouth falls open and her eyes flood with tears as she scrambles down the stairs and throws herself into her father's arms. "Dad!" Oliver watches with a smile.

Gabe chuckles, hugging his little girl. "Hi baby."

She angles her head back so she can see him. "Why didn't you call?"

"Oliver called me," Gabe says simply.

CO-CO-CO

Chloe sits at a table in one of Metropolis's most famous restaurants, on top of a high rise, with panoramic views of the city. "I can't believe you two," Chloe says with faux anger. She turns her gaze on her father. "I talked to you just last week, and you said you were swamped at work."

"A little white lie," Gabe dismisses.

He is glad to see Chloe, he hadn't spent enough time with her in the last 4-5 years. But the purpose of his trip was to gauge her relationship with Oliver Queen. Chloe had called to tell him see was dating the billionaire with a reputation as a ladies' man, and Gabe had worried. But as the relationship had lasted now for several months, and Chloe had moved in with the man, Gabe had jumped at the chance to meet Oliver in person.

"So Oliver, tell me about yourself."

Chloe suddenly looks worried, realizing that this is the prelude to the 'what are your intentions towards my daughter' question. "Dad..."

"What do you want to know?" Oliver replies easily. He had been nervous about meeting Chloe's father, he'd never met a father before, not in this context, and he knew his reputation would have preceded him. But Gabe was warm, intelligent, and seemed open to finding out who Oliver was without preconceptions.

"What do you want from life?" Gabe asks, and Chloe nearly sags from relief.

"To be happy, purposeful, to love and be loved. A family."

"Good answer," Gabe says, relaxing. He didn't really need any answers. Chloe would do what she wanted, what she felt right, and from what Gabe had seen already, it was clear that they were in love. "But you don't want to rush into anything. Happiness and a family take time to build. You need a foundation."

"Dad..." Chloe complained, shifting in her seat uncomfortably.

"I agree," Oliver said easily. "Chloe is still young, and we have plenty of time. But I love her and I plan to make a life with her."

"As long as you make her happy," Gabe said, finally letting himself smile.

CO-CO-CO

In Star City, Hal comes home to find that his parking spot had been fenced in. Climbing out of his jeep, Hal begins to laugh, the laughter growing until he is bent over clutching his stomach. Behind the simple metal fence were two baby goats, frolicking in a pile of hay and sawdust. As he watches they chase each other around, butting heads and trying to be the only goat left standing on the small sturdy structure in the middle of their pen.

He pulls out his phone and types in a text to Oliver. "What the hell and I supposed to do with two goats?" As he watches them playing, two girls come up to him, drawn in by the baby animals.

"Oh, they're so adorable!"

"Are they yours?"

Hal smiles, his eyes twinkling. "Yes. Yes, they are. Do you want to help me name them?"

CO-CO-CO

When June rolls around, the stagnant heat of the summer began to wear on Chloe. Grateful for air conditioning and not having to worry about being able to pay her utility bill, she stays inside as much as possible and before mid month she has finished her last online class to complete her degree.

Chloe felt like everything in her life was going too well, and knew it couldn't last. Not that she was looking for trouble, but trouble always seemed to find her.

She felt a little guilty too. Her life was going swimmingly, but Lois was unhappy. She'd thrown herself into work and a series of random dates, never making it to a second date, since Clark's departure.

Chloe had no idea where Clark had gone, it had been six weeks without a word from him.

CO-CO-CO

Chloe paced anxiously in the lobby of police headquarters. I wasn't the first time, nor did she hold any hope that it would be the last, that she had bailed Lois out of jail. This time Lois had been arrested for punching a man while getting breakfast at a diner close to the Daily Planet. Lois said he grabbed her butt, and Chloe believed her, but the end result was the same. Chloe spending her afternoon waiting for Lois to be released after Chloe paid her bail.

"Chloe," Lex's cultured voice drew her attention immediately.

"Lex." Chloe looked around. "What are you doing here?"

"Speaking to the commissioner about how to revitalize the areas around Waterfront Park."

"You mean gentrify."

Lex smiles, but doesn't engage in an argument. "And what brings you here?"

"Lois..."

"Ah. Yes your erstwhile cousin who only got her chance at the big leagues by sleeping with her editor."

Chloe bristles. "Maybe, but she's proven her metal. How did Grant Gabriel get the job as editor is a better question. And whatever happened to him anyway?" she asks pointedly. "It seemed like I had a different editor every month there for awhile. Perry, Grant, then Tess. Hmm." She stares at him point blank, not flinching from the power he held. "Until Oliver bought you out."

"You're right, as it turns out, I don't have much of a nose for news. I'd rather make it than report it."

They fall into silence and Chloe wonders what on earth was keeping Lois.

"I haven't seen Clark around in awhile," Lex says abruptly. "I don't suppose he went to Paris with Lana."

"No."

"Off to parts unknown again? For a homebody without much desire to explore the wider world, he seems to disappear quite often."

"I wouldn't worry," she replies with a tight smile. "He'll be back soon. Clark never stays away for long."

CO-CO-CO

On a visit to Star City, Chloe exits Queen Manor with Lois to find Oliver and Hal playing shirtless basketball. "Whoa! Nice!" Lois calls loudly, immediately taking a seat with a good view of the two men's chiseled chests. Chloe trailed after her cousin, holding a tray of iced tea.

Suddenly she finds herself floating through the air towards Hal and Ollie. "Hey!" she yells, but knows better than to struggle with Hal's energy control. As she gets closer to the two men, Hal lifts the tray from her, bringing it to himself and settling her right into Oliver's waiting arms. "You're all sweaty," she complains.

"That's not usually a problem," Oliver says suggestively and Chloe slaps his chest.

Hal laughs and offers them both a glass of tea.

All four sit in the shade to stay cool, as they drink their refreshment, appreciating that while it was warm, it was hardly the sweltering humidity of Metropolis.

"Chloe, I thought I could give you another aerial tour... since you wanted to get to know Star City better," Hal offers.

"Sure," she agrees quickly.

"Have her home by nine," Oliver instructs blandly.

Lois is about to open her mouth to demand her aerial tour, when one of the (formerly baby) goats comes up and tries to chew on her shoe. "Go away!" she yells. The goat ignores her and tries to pull her shoe off to have as a tasty treat. "Go... away!"

Hal laughs and stands up to corral the goat away from Lois.

"You need to train them," Oliver smirks at Hal.

"Train a goat? Are you serious?" Hal says incredulously.

"I think they're cute," Chloe said looking at the brown and white Nubian goat with his large, pendulous ears. "And they keep the lawn short."

"No kidding, they ate everything in my mother's yard, then they stared in on the fence," Hal complains.

"Well they seem to like living here," Oliver says with humor. He'd had no idea Hal had brought the goats to Queen Manor until he'd brought Chloe and Lois for a quick weekend trip to escape the Metropolis heat.

CO-CO-CO

Flying over Star City, Chloe smiles and breathes deeply, secure in Hal's hold. "Can we get a better view of Star Park?"

"Your wish is my command," Hal replies.

"You really are a bit of a genie, you can conjure anything you can imagine."

Hal laughs and sets her down atop a tall building just beyond the park. "I wanted to talk to you."

"Uh-oh," Chloe jokes. "I promise, I've been nice to Oliver lately, he hasn't tripped over my shoes in at least a week."

Hal laughs. "God, the Green Arrow, out of commission for two days for falling over his girlfriend's louboutins."

"It was pretty funny," Chloe recalls.

"You need to record these things for me," Hal demands. "You know that Ollie's birthday is next month."

"Yeah, his 29th. A biggie."

"Isn't that 30?"

"It's been 20 years since his parents died," Chloe says softly.

"Oh, right." Hal frowns. Hal had lost his father when he'd been 16. He couldn't imagine losing his mother too. "Well, I wanted to throw him a party."

"OK."

"Here in Star City, he has a lot of friends here."

"That's fine," Chloe agrees again. "What do you need me to do?"

Hal's large grin sets off warning bells. "I was hoping you would ask that."

CO-CO-CO

A month later, Chloe sits with Lois and Oliver on the balcony of the Clock Tower. Oliver had added several more trees and bushes to it, affording them some additional privacy. The media were still running stories on Oliver and Chloe on a weekly basis, but at least they'd seemed to settle down some after the couple had failed to do anything else attention grabbing – that the media knew about.

Lois hands Chloe a wrapped present. "Open it."

Chloe looks at the gift curiously. "You got me a gift? It's Ollie's birthday."

Lois rolls her eyes. "I know it's his birthday, that's his present."

Chloe looks at Oliver to see if he was following Lois's train of thought any more than she was, but he just grins and shakes his head, indicating that Chloe should open it.

"OK," Chloe acquiesces. She opens the paper, taking her time and popping the tape off each seam, preserving the paper, knowing it will drive Lois nuts to have to wait.

"Seriously Chlo!"

Chloe grins and finally gets the box open. She folds back the tissue paper inside and finds a pile of skimpy underwear, all monogrammed with custom messages. She laughs and holds up a pair of green lace boy shorts. "Team Ollie."

"Very nice," Oliver says, taking them from Chloe and running the soft lace through his fingers.

Chloe holds up another pair, this time black lace bikinis. "Property of the Emerald Archer."

"That's right," Lois agrees, proud of herself.

Chloe laughs and continues to pull out pairs of panties. "Team Green. Property of Oliver Queen. My heart belongs to the Green Arrow. Oliver's girl. My heart was pierced by the Green Arrow."

"Thank you Lois, excellent gift," Oliver smirks at the two girls. "Now, please be ready to go on time. The jet leaves at noon."

"Yeah. Got it. Calm down Green Monster. I'll be there," Lois huffed.

Oliver holds up his hands in surrender and he and Chloe head inside to fill their plates with the breakfast they'd had delivered. "I thought you said we were leaving at two?" Chloe questioned as she pondered what berries to select.

"We are," Oliver confirmed.

"Sneaky archer."

CO-CO-CO

In Star City, Oliver's penthouse overlooking Star Park was filled with people. The alcohol is flowing, laughter filling the modern, industrial space, but all the people are friends. His team members are all there, including Zatanna, but excluding sometimes joiners Bruce and Clark. Hal is there of course, with his cousin and siblings, all of whom knew Oliver well, but didn't know about either man's secret. Lois and Chloe, of course were moving around the party, meeting people and in Lois's case leaving them bewildered.

Also in attendance are: Dennis O'Neil, a few friends from Excelsior Academy, several of Oliver's frat brothers from Harvard, and people he worked closely with at Queen Industries.

Oliver holds a microbrew in his hand, looking around for Chloe, who he'd lost in the crowd and hadn't seen in over 15 minutes. Victor and AC approach him.

"Happy Birthday, man!" Victor said happily.

"Looks good on ya," AC said giving Oliver a one armed hug and slap on the back.

"Have you guys seen Chloe?" Oliver asks, craning his head to search the kitchen.

"Yeah, she's here somewhere," Victor says, but changes the topic quickly. "Did Z offer you a birthday wish yet?"

Oliver turns to look at his closest friend on the team. "No. I don't think that's the way it works."

"Hey Zatanna," AC calls, drawing the beautiful dark haired magician to them. "Does Ollie get a birthday wish?"

She laughs. "Of course. You may have a wish," Oliver looks alarmed so she holds up her hand to calm him. "A normal wish, if it is within my power, I will grant it. And of course you have your one wish still to call upon, should you like."

"No, but thank you," Oliver said with a genuine smile. "On both. I don't need anything. Just to find Chloe."

"Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You..."

Zatanna smiles deeply. "You need no magic for that wish to be granted. But I foresee that she will be delivered to your side... an moment now." She steps aside as the people milling around begin to sing Happy Birthday as Hal and Lois wheel a large, (very large) cake out to Oliver on the balcony.

"Happy Birthday Dear Oliver,
Happy Birthday to You..."

"Somebody call the fire department," Bart calls out loudly, earning laughs, though 29 candles in such a large cake hardly looked overwhelming.

"From good friends and true,
From old friends and new..."

Oliver frowns, wondering where Chloe had taken herself off to. The singing comes to the end, but there is still no sign of her.

"May good luck go with you,
And happiness too!"

Just as the last line of the traditional song rings out, the top of the cake swings open and Chloe pops out the top dressed in a sexy black strapless dress. Oliver's eyes bulge, then he grins stepping forward to lift her out of the cake. "I like the outfit change," he whispers in her ear, his hands exploring the soft satin of her skin and the dress as it hugged her curves. She had been wearing a green Grecian wrap dress that dipped low over her chest and left her shoulders bare except for thin straps, but had changed for the cake reveal.

"Happy Birthday Ollie," she says softly, and he draws her into a long kiss, as the crowd cheers.

"Cake will be served in the kitchen, come on people, stop gawking," Lois herds the bystanders back into the house, leaving the lovebirds alone.

"So do I get my wish now?" Oliver asks looking deep in her eyes.

"Your wish?"

"At your birthday you said that the birthday girl, or guy, got a wish."

Flashback

Chloe opens her present from Clark to find a copy of Tales of the Weird and Unexplained. She lifts it out and looks at it wistfully. "Wow," she sighs, "I haven't seen this in ages." Her eyes are soft and wistful, lost in the past.

Oliver's eyes haven't left her face. "At the risk of you biting my head off and kicking me out of your party before I can even get a slice of cake… you OK?"

She turns to look at him, smiling lightly. "Yeah," she reassures him. "Birthdays just make me a little reflective. Before you got here I was just thinking how much has changed this year."

"Things didn't just change, Chloe. You changed them. You took control of your life." His tone is admiring, as is his gaze as he looks down into her eyes, taking in her large green eyes, smooth cheeks, and full lips. "Wanna give me a birthday wish and finally let me in on the secret?"

"What secret?" she laughs.

"Whatever happened to make you take stock of your life, change it to suit you." He can see her defensive walls come up and curses himself. He just couldn't leave well enough alone.

She smiles and shakes her head. "Sorry, no can do. It's not your birthday. Wishes are reserved for the birthday honoree."

"Then I'll have to make sure you're in attendance at my next birthday," he teases.

End Flashback

"I did? Well, I suppose you've already had your cake," she teases recalling how she hadn't known Oliver was in love with her then, just that he was acting weird and was seemingly obsessed with her birthday cake that night. "What is your birthday wish, Ollie?"

"To know what happened to make you take stock of your life, change it to suit you. I like the outcome, but you've never told me what started it all."

"Oh," Chloe says reluctantly. She swallows thickly. "I… I saw you. With someone." Oliver frowns. "You must remember. Just before my wedding, I came to pick up a notebook I left at your place. You… weren't alone."

"Alejandra," he says softly, stroking her back.

"Yeah. And I suddenly… knew. I was in love with you."

Oliver shakes his head, considering their relationship history with that knowledge. "I'm sorry it took me so long to see how much you meant to me," he says softly, pressing his lips to hers in an ardent kiss.

CO-CO-CO

Sometime after 2am, Chloe collapses onto the couch beside Oliver, tugging down the short dress so she didn't flash anyone. The only people left are the team members, Lois and Hal.

Hal sits on the couch's arm next to Oliver, clapping him on the back. "Just so you know, the Chloe cake was my gift to you." Chloe frowns at Hal, who grins back at her. "I tried to talk her into a Playboy bunny outfit and theme, but she wouldn't have it."

"Damn straight," Lois says.

"I would have liked to have seen that," Oliver opines softly, looking at Chloe and clearly imagining her in the skimpy outfit.

"Would you have liked for everyone else to see that?" Dinah drawls with obvious amusement. Oliver's expression twists. "Thought so," Dinah crows.

"Don't worry man," Hal faux whispers. "I got the outfit. It's in your room."

Chloe rolls her eyes, but cuddles into Oliver's side, ready to go to sleep. She and Hal had argued for hours over her wearing the damn bunny outfit, and while Chloe liked the novelty of it, there was no way she was wearing it in front of room full of strangers. Just getting in the cake had been weird enough.

Hal raises his glass in a toast. "To friends, and the family we make, and may we all be blessed with a beautiful member of the opposite sex jumping out of a cake on our birthdays!"

"Here, here!"

CO-CO-CO

The following Monday, Hal comes home to find a metal cage with a big fluffy bunny inside. With it is a short note. "I owe you big. Oliver"

Hal shakes his head, brings the bunny inside and pops open a beer. "People are going to start thinking nasty things about me if Ollie keeps sending me farm animals."

CO-CO-CO

Pictures and video from Oliver's party dominate the entertainment news for the following week, with several pictures showing Oliver and Chloe cuddling, kissing, and dancing. But the picture that is run most often is one the captured Chloe standing in the cake and Oliver's stunned and amorous expression. The cropping and angle of the picture made it look like she could be wearing lingerie and Chloe was not pleased. Oliver thought she looked fantastic and asked for the picture to be sent to him digitally.

Chloe sat by Oliver in their bed, her laptop in her lap as she plugged away, her expression forbidding.

"Are you going to put that away?" Oliver cajoles, his eyes dancing with good humor.

"Are you going to get rid of that?" she asked pithily, her gaze cutting to the framed picture sitting on his bedside table.

"No."

"Then no."

"It's a good picture," he argues. She ignores him. "You look beautiful."

"It's inappropriate. I look half naked."

"That's why it's in here, not on my desk at work," he says with a grin. "It's a good picture," he insists again. "What do I have to do to get you to agree with me?" he slides his hand up her thigh, hoping to distract her from her bad temper.

"Be right."

"I am right," he says lightly looking up to meet her eyes as she stops his hand with hers.

"Impasse," she says pithily.

Oliver laughs, undeterred. "Let me make it up to you."

"Are you going to jump out of a cake at my next birthday?"

"I could."

"In a thong."

Oliver looks less amenable to that idea. "I had no idea you wanted to see me in a thong." He grins and trails his fingers along the edge of her panties again. "You know, these," he slips the tip of his finger under the fine lace, tracing a line around her upper thigh, setting fire to her nerve endings, "say that you are my property." She levels a hard look at him, but he can see that she is softening.

"And?"

"And I think it's time I conduct an appraisal."

Her belly starts to shake with silent laughter and Oliver knows he's won. He lifts the computer off her lap, setting it aside on her bedside table. He pushes down the covers and peels off her tank top, leaving her only in a bra and her panties. "I like the picture," he says kissing a trail up her stomach as he tugs her lower in the bed so she's lying down. "I like looking at you." He settles himself between her thighs looking at her breasts, lifted by her lacy bra. "I like touching you."

"I…"

He releases the clasp on her bra freeing her breasts into his waiting hands. "Can I keep the picture Chloe?"

"I…"

"I really like the picture," he says in a deep resonant tone that sends shivers down her back. He kisses a trail up the center line of her chest, between her breasts. "Chloe?"

"Fine, keep the damn picture."

Oliver grins and kisses her, delving his tongue into her mouth, enjoying the feel of her body under his, wanting to always have her with him.

CO-CO-CO

Oliver wanders through Alfie's Antique Market on London's Church Street. He was looking for a present for Chloe. It would help if he knew what he was looking for, but he had no idea what she might like. The market was full of goods, stuffed into every nook and cranny possible.

Oliver had just bought her a Vintage Fred Press Coffee Carafe when he stumbles across a jewelry case full of vintage items. He pauses to look closer.

CO-CO-CO

Returning to Metropolis, Oliver forgets about his gifts until the next day. Chloe bit her lip as she looked at the two white boxes, one the exact size of a ring. Feeling her chest tighten, she opened the larger one first finding a ornate coffee carafe. Glass with gold and brass details and a black handle the item was obviously old.

She smiles, pleased but bewildered. "A carafe?"

"A 1960s vintage Fred Press coffee carafe."

"It's beautiful."

"Open the other one," he instructs with a secret smile.

She opens the box, ignoring the slight tremble in her fingers. Inside is a black ring box. She looks up at him uncertainly.

"Come on, open it."

She bites her lip and flips open the lid, seeing an antique spoon ring. The sterling silver looks soft, the elaborate design of roses and swirls wrapping half way around it. She looks up to meet his soft gaze. "A spoon ring?"

He shrugs lightly. "I saw it and for some reason I thought you'd like it."

"I do."

She lifts it to slip onto her finger but he stops her. "I know what you're thinking."

She smiles, a bit shaky still. "Well you just gave me a ring, so it shouldn't take a mind reader…"

"I want to marry you. I think I've been pretty clear on that point. But this…" he fingers the ring. "This is just a gift. But if you want it can be a… symbol of my promise to you. If you want."

"Ollie," she says softly, not sure what to say.

"I want forever with you Chloe, or as many years as we can get. But… I know you're still young, and I want you to know that I can wait. I'll wait for as long as it takes for you to be ready."

"I want forever with you too, Ollie. I know that, and I hope you know that too."

"I do." He pauses. "Chloe, I know I've been pushing you since we started this, and I'd like to apologize for that, but I won't. Not when the result is you and me, here together. I love you."

"I love you too."

He smiles and leans in to kiss her, his lips hard and demanding, but he keeps the kiss brief. "I don't regret it, but I don't want you to wake up in three months or three years and realize that this isn't what you wanted."

"I want you Ollie, I want us."

"I know." His hand rubs down her arm to soothe her. He can feel her anxiety; see her pulse pounding rapidly in her neck. "This isn't bad, at least I hope you don't think it's anything bad. I'm not very good at this. Everything with you is so new for me."

"Ollie, what…"

"Do you ever think about the future Chloe? What you want? Where you see yourself?"

She doesn't answer immediately, not sure if she really had considered her future in full detail, but his words recall another discussion she'd had with him back when she hadn't known that he had feelings for her and he hadn't known she was already in love with him. But she knew she wanted a future with him.

"You know I'm open to the idea of moving to Star City... when the time comes."

"I know," he reassures her, squeezing her arm. "But I'm not just talking about living together."

Flashback

Oliver watched Chloe move around Watchtower, her actions all easy, precise, her focus on the information they were analyzing. He wished he could focus on the mission, but his focus was on her. He was in love with her, but he could barely even get her to have a serious conversation with him. He just wanted to reach out and touch her, hold her until she realized that they could have something good, but she wasn't ready and he had to be patient. Hal's plan was working, he just had to wait.

"Do you think you'll still be doing," he waves his hand around Watchtower, "this in five years? Ten?"

"Exactly this?" She questions, curious about his mood, but glad he seemed to be keeping his hands to himself for the night. "I don't know. But if you're asking if I think in five years I'll have a normal life that doesn't involve aliens or superheroes or villains… I doubt it."

"I forget that you've been doing this longer than I have. You were dealing with aliens and meteor powers when I was still at Harvard, having and extended adolescence," he says with a sad smile. "You've never really had a normal life."

She smiles and tries to lighten the mood. "What's normal anyway? I think we get to make our own normal. I mean do doctors or firefighters and their families have the normal normal?" Her eyes meet his and he moves towards her wanting to be close to her. "They save lives and risk their own on a daily basis. That's not so different than what we do."

"I guess not," he says as he brushes his hand over her shoulder. Chloe feels her heart contract.

"What about you Oliver? Do you want the American dream? Two point five kids and a white picket fence?" Her tone is teasing, but there is some strain behind it. She meant it to be a joke, but he appears to be considering her question seriously.

"I haven't had a family since I was nine and my parents died. Having kids, a wife, I think I do want that." He smiles his eyes suddenly gleam with a teasing light. "As for the white picket fence, I'm sure the Queen Manor could provide acres of fence enough for anyone."

"Queen Manor, that was your parents' place, right?"

"Yeah, my grandfather built it originally, my father and mother expanded it. I guess it's a bit out of date now, nobody's lived there since they died." She squeezes his hand in compassion as the sadness of his parents' deaths darkens his eyes. "I haven't been there in years," he pauses and his eyes meet hers intensely. "You know, I think you'd like it."

End Flashback

"You want a family."

"I never thought about it much, before you, but I've always imagined that I'd have kids one day. It was just some idea, off in the distant future. Until I realized what I could have with you."

Chloe feels her chest tighten, her emotion a mix of fear, anticipation, and love. "Ollie, I…"

"I'm not asking you to marry me and spend the next five years barefoot and pregnant. Yet." Chloe's mouth drops open and she mouths 'five years' with an awed expression. "I don't want to feel like I'm pressuring you into anything. But I've been thinking about the future. My future. Green Arrow, Queen Industries, Metropolis, Star City, and the one constant in every possible future for me is you."

Her eyes are watery with tears, her face filled with heartbreaking tenderness. He brushes his thumb over her cheek, his hand cupping her jaw as he leans in to kiss her forehead. "You don't have to say anything. Nothing has to change right now. I just thought you should know what I'm thinking."

She swallows hard. "I love you Oliver Queen, and while you might be ten steps ahead of me again, any future that I might have would have to have you in it."

CO-CO-CO

"The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor.

He's dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he's a hero the whole time."

Frank Miller

CO-CO-CO


Words 7160

Yeah… it's done! I had this last scene written out for months and months, but I didn't realize it was the last scene in the story.

Yellow and black dress from dinner with Gabe: /pin/282741682825904158/

First (green) dress from Oliver's party: /pin/282741682828025206/

Cake surprise dress: /pin/282741682828025252/

Coffee craffe: /pin/282741682828024807/

Spoon ring: /pin/282741682828024854/

To follow pins: go to the popular pinning site then enter the numbers from above.

Some of you have asked about weddings and babies… which I didn't deliver, but I did give you goats. And a bunny (or two). I had shorter term stuff I wanted to do, but I do have a few sequels already in mind… but it all comes down to time and inspiration.

Others asked about other Chlollie ideas… which I do have, but… see above. Most of them are darker than this story was. I also have some Chlex ideas, but my plan is to return to my VM story.