Author Note: Spoilers for the finale, but takes place the following December. I know I'm a little late for a Christmas fic, but this idea hit me last night while I was at dinner with friends and basically started to write itself in my head. However, it was rather hastily written last night and this morning and only briefly edited, so forgive me for any errors. Happy New Year!
Chloe came awake slowly, aware of her husband's much larger frame tucked in behind her. She wiggled against him, sighing when his hand slid up to caress her rounded belly. Without opening her eyes, she murmured, "You're doing it again, aren't you?"
Oliver's hand continued the gentle caress on her tummy as he replied, "Doing what?"
She rolled onto her back and arched one brow as he shifted to lean his head on his arm. "Staring at me while I sleep. If you weren't so adorable, I'd find it mildly creepy."
Oliver smiled at her, his hand once again rubbing her belly. "Just waiting to tell my adorably grumpy, caffeine-deprived wife good morning." He leaned down and kissed her gently. "Good morning," he said softly before moving down to press a few kisses to her belly. "And good morning to you too," he told their baby.
Chloe smiled as she felt their baby kick back a good morning of his own. "You know, if we didn't already know this was going to be a boy, I'd swear it was a girl. He doesn't respond to anyone else the same way he does when he hears your voice." She raised her hand to run her fingers lightly through Oliver's hair as he continued to croon to their baby.
"Daddy's little man," Oliver boasted with a grin, delighting in the little kicks he could feel against his palms. "God that's so amazing – I never get tired of it."
Chloe felt her eyes growing suspiciously moist for a moment and she blinked rapidly. Damn hormones, she thought. She'd never been the weepy type, but she'd found herself sniffling over more than a few things ever since her second trimester. And Oliver being so sweet and so obviously in love with both her and the idea of being a father never failed to elicit that reaction.
With one final kiss against her belly, Oliver settled back on the pillow beside her. He reached over and pulled her closer, wrapping one arm around her as she shifted to rest her head against his shoulder. "I think I should cancel my trip."
Chloe sighed with exasperation. "Oliver, we've been over this and we both know you can't do that. It's only eight days, and you'll be back before Christmas. I still have at least eight weeks to go on this pregnancy and if you go now, you shouldn't have to leave again until after the baby is born."
"I don't know," he said doubtfully. "What if something happens while I'm gone?"
"Ollie, we have Emil on standby and he will be coming by to check on me once a day. Clark and Lois are also on standby, and if I know my cousin, Superman will be making a few fly-bys while you're gone. AC, Bart, Victor and Dinah are all in town, and they are also on standby. I'm only working half days at the paper, I've agreed to let the maternity nutritionist deliver at least two meals a day, and I've agreed to your ridiculous demands and will allow the car service to chauffer me to and from work. The baby and I couldn't be safer. What could possibly happen?" Her head still reeled when she thought of the long list of things she'd had to promise before Oliver would agree to make the rounds of Queen Industries' companies stateside.
"Ok, see now you've jinxed us," Oliver groaned. "Because I can think of too many things that can go wrong."
"Which is why you're not allowed to read any more pregnancy books, blogs, or look up symptoms on Web MD." Chloe still laughed every time she remembered a few of Oliver's more dramatic interpretations of her pregnancy symptoms, and she was pretty sure that Emil would be heading for a very long vacation once the baby was born.
Oliver sighed. "I want it noted that I'm leaving under duress, and if you feel so much as a Braxton Hicks I'm getting Clark to bring me right back."
"Duly noted," Chloe replied solemnly, raising her head to press kisses to his neck. "Now, I can think of other things I'd rather be doing this morning before you have to leave." She allowed her hand to drift lightly down his stomach, feeling the muscles clench in her wake. She yelped as he moved suddenly, looming over her with a grin guaranteed to melt her panties had she been wearing any.
"You know, the fact that you constantly want my body has to be the best pregnancy side effect ever," Oliver said as his hand drifted lazily down her body while he pressed hot kisses to that spot under her ear that always drove her crazy.
Chloe swallowed a moan. "How is that different from before, exactly?"
Oliver didn't answer and a few minutes later Chloe had forgotten all about their conversation.
Chloe glanced at her watch as she left work. With Oliver due back that evening, she had stayed at the office later than usual in order to finish a couple of articles. She planned to surprise her husband and take the next few days off to spend time with him at home. Christmas was only three days away, and she had enlisted the aid of Bart, Victor, AC, and Dinah in putting up the remaining Christmas decorations. She had also wrapped the presents she had been hiding from Oliver and put them under the tree.
For the next few days she wanted to embrace the Christmas traditions she had so often neglected in recent years, such as making cookies and trying her hand at one of Mrs. Kent's pie recipes. Because of her pregnancy, everyone was coming to Star City for Christmas this year. Even though Emil had said it was safe for her to travel, Oliver wanted them to spend their first Christmas together at home.
Chloe had protested briefly, wondering if it would seem less like Christmas in the balmy California climate. Now she was glad that they would be entertaining their friends and family in their own home. She couldn't wait to show Lois the nursery they had set up since her last visit. Lois was almost as excited about being an aunt as Oliver was about being a father, and Clark joked that half of Lois' paycheck had been spent on the baby ever since she'd found out her little cousin was expecting.
She sent a quick text to her driver, letting him know that she was going to make a stop at the nearby Galleria and that he could pick her up in front of Macy's in an hour. That should give her plenty of time to pick up the red leather handbag she'd seen advertised and determined was the perfect accessory for the jacket and scarf she had already purchased for Lois. Oliver had called earlier to say he would be landing by 7:00 and it was now almost 5:00, so Chloe picked up her pace as she walked toward the Galleria. She wanted to be at home when he arrived, preferably wearing the new lingerie she had ordered earlier in the week.
The smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and other baked goods wafted on the air as she turned the corner. Chloe groaned as she hesitated; she should have known she wouldn't be able to pass this way without stopping at her favorite little bakery. Her mouth watered and with a sigh of resignation, she pushed open the door to the little shop. The smells inside the bakery were incredible, and her stomach growled in anticipation. The baby suddenly kicked and Chloe patted her belly soothingly. "Don't worry, I'm about to feed you, but you should know this place is not on your daddy's list of approved baby nutrition."
"Talking to that little one again, I see," a jovial spoke behind her and Chloe turned to see the owner, Tom Gehry, beaming at her. "How are you today, Mrs. Queen?"
"Hungry," she quipped. "And you know you can call me Chloe."
"Chloe, then," he replied. "Hot chocolate and one of my wife's cream cheese cinnamon rolls?" When Chloe nodded to confirm her usual order, Tom waved her to one of the small tables and pulled the chair out for her before walking back to the kitchen.
Chloe heard her phone beep and she checked her messages. She had ordered a new watch for Oliver weeks ago, and to her relief it had finally arrived. The shop was also only a few doors down from the bakery, so she could pick it up on her way to the Galleria. She looked up as Tom walked out of the kitchen with her order and placed it on the table.
"Sonia will be sorry she missed you," he said, referring to his wife. "She's out picking up some last minute Christmas gifts for the grandchildren."
Chloe forked up a bite of the cinnamon roll, her eyes closing briefly at the explosion of cinnamon and rich cream cheese on her tongue. "I'm sure I'll be back before Christmas. In fact, Ollie and I are having some friends and family over for the holidays and these cinnamon rolls would be perfect for Christmas morning."
"Well, you come by on Christmas Eve morning and we can have them ready for you. They'll be better if you pop them in the oven Christmas morning to finish baking them, and then ice them yourself. How many do you want?"
"Two dozen?" Chloe paused, thinking about Bart. "You know what? Better make it five dozen."
Tom made a note in his order book. "When will Mr. Queen be back from his business trip?"
Chloe took a sip of her hot chocolate, savoring the taste of the cherries that Sonia added to her recipe. "Tonight, actually. I'm picking up some last minute Christmas gifts before I head home."
"The Galleria?" Tom guessed.
Chloe nodded. "But first I need to stop by Schuler's and pick up the watch I ordered for Oliver."
"You be careful," he advised as she finished her cinnamon roll. "Lots of crowds what with Christmas just a few days away. Your driver will be waiting for you at the shopping mall?"
Chloe took the last sip of her hot chocolate and stood up. "He'll be waiting outside Macy's around 6:00, so I should get going. Tell Sonia I said hello, and I'll be back on Christmas Eve for the cinnamon rolls."
Tom waved at her as she left and then stood in the doorway, monitoring her progress to the jewelry store. He sent a quick text to his son Mark, a local high school basketball coach. They were practicing in the park today and should be finishing up now, so Mark would be able to keep an eye on Chloe as she walked to the shopping center.
Chloe checked her emails on her phone as she waited at the counter for Mr. Schuler to return with Oliver's watch. The bell jingled and she glanced up to see a tall man holding a basketball enter the store. He nodded at her before he turned to one of the display cases. Chloe's brows drew together; the man appeared to be in his early thirties and looked vaguely familiar, but she was certain she had never met him before.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Mr. Schuler returned with a small box. "Here we are," he said. He placed the box on the display case in front of Chloe and opened it. "I thought the design turned out quite nicely."
Chloe smiled at him as she picked up the watch that she and Mr. Schuler had custom designed together. It was made of platinum, a strong yet simple design that was formal enough for Oliver to wear at the office or on an evening out, but it was also waterproof with a shatter-proof watch face. They had included a world time feature, so Oliver could set the time for multiple time zones and flip between them easily. She had also equipped it with a small GPS chip, as well as a few other features she thought might interest Oliver. She turned it over to look at the inscription.
-To my husband and hero on our first Christmas together.
Chloe traced her finger over the date below the inscription. "it's perfect – thank you so much for helping me with this."
Mr. Schuler looked pleased, pushing his gold spectacles higher on his nose. "It was worth coming out of semi-retirement for – made me remember what I love about jewelry design, and designing watches was always my preference." He took the watch from Chloe and handed the box over to his assistant for gift wrapping.
Chloe checked the time again. She was running later than she had anticipated, so she sent another message to her driver as the bell jingled to signal another arriving customer. She looked up to see a nervous looking man enter the store, weaving slightly as his eyes darted around the room. The smell of alcohol seemed to be oozing from his very pores, and Chloe instinctively pressed her hand to the swell of her stomach as she took a step back. Even before he pulled the gun out of his coat pocket she knew there was going to be trouble. She pressed the button on her phone that would send out a coordinated SOS to the team, inwardly sighing. Oliver was going to be impossible to live with after this.
She tried not to call attention to herself as the man demanded that Mr. Schuler empty the jewelry from the display case into a cloth bag he produced from another pocket. Chloe noticed that the man with the basketball had moved, little by little, until he was between her and the gunman. The drunken robber hastily opened his jacket and stuffed one bag inside while producing an empty one. Chloe could now see that he wore a work shirt with the logo of a local auto shop and the name "Harry" – she raised her brows, wondering if he was really so drunk that he had forgotten that he was wearing a shirt that advertised his workplace and name.
Suddenly they heard sirens and Chloe stifled a groan. Mr. Schuler's assistant must have tripped the silent alarm. The gunman turned, waving his gun rather wildly at Chloe. "You," he shouted. "Hey you, get over here." When Chloe didn't move he stumbled closer, his gun not even aimed at any particular target as he attempted to grab her arm. And that was when all hell broke loose.
Oliver sat in the car outside Macy's waiting for Chloe. His plane had landed much earlier than he'd told Chloe it would, and he'd been busy with some last minute Christmas shopping for her and the baby. When he had checked in with Chloe's driver and learned that his wife was planning to do a little shopping of her own, he sent the man home and decided to wait for her himself.
His phone beeped and he checked the screen, tensing when he recognized the code. He sat frozen for a moment as his heart began to pound. He snapped out of his panicked state, but his hands were shaking slightly as he hit the button to dial Victor. "Where is she?"
Victor wasted no time on pleasantries. "GPS puts her at Schuler's Jewelry on…"
"I know where it is," Oliver interrupted, already out of the car as he disconnected the call. Because of traffic he knew he could get there faster on foot, so he started running. When he reached the main street, he could hear the store alarm and the sirens of police cars. He burst through the doors of the jewelry store a few minutes later, looking around frantically.
Several uniformed officers stood over a handcuffed man who was leaning against the wall and moaning. Blood dripped from his nose in a slowing trickle, and one of his eyes appeared to be swelling shut. One of the officers straightened up as he recognized Oliver. "Mr. Queen, your wife is in the back with the paramedics. She's fine…" his voice trailed off as he realized that Oliver was no longer listening to him.
Oliver slid easily over the top of one of the display cases and raced to the back of the store. He found Chloe sitting in a chair while a paramedic took her blood pressure.
Chloe looked up and saw Oliver standing a few feet away. The panic and worry on his face made her heart clench, and she held out her free hand to him. "Ollie, everything's fine."
Oliver reached her in a few strides and his hand immediately grasped hers as he took a few breaths to calm himself. "God, Chloe," he said, his heart still racing. He swallowed the lump in his throat. "Are you sure you're ok? And the baby's ok?" When she nodded, he turned to the paramedic for confirmation.
The paramedic stood and said, "She and the baby are just fine thanks to these guys."
Oliver looked over and for the first time he noticed that both Clark and Bart were standing nearby, both in their uniforms. He walked over and threw his arms around first Clark, who patted him awkwardly, and then Bart, who shoved at him.
"Dude, get off," Bart complained. "Besides, we didn't actually do much. You should be thanking them."
Oliver looked around, expecting to see AC or Dinah in the room. Instead, he saw a tall man holding a basketball and a plump, older man wearing… was that an apron? Beside them an elderly man rested in a chair while holding onto a walking stick.
"Ollie, I want you to meet some friends," Chloe said, standing and taking his hand. She led him over to the group of men. "This is Mr. Schuler," she said, gesturing to the older man holding the walking stick. "He owns this store."
"Very nice to meet you Mr. Queen," Mr. Schuler said. "You actually stopped a burglary in my store once."
Oliver nodded, still wondering what was going on.
"And this is Tom Gehry – he and his wife own the bakery that makes those amazing cinnamon rolls. This is his son, Mark. He teaches math at the high school, and he's a basketball coach."
Oliver shook each man's hand before turning back to Chloe. "I don't understand. If Superman and Impulse didn't stop that guy out front, then who did?"
Chloe smiled at him and tilted her head toward the small group of men again. "They did – Tom, Mark and Mr. Schuler were my heroes today. As soon as that gunman entered the store, Mark put himself in front of me. Harry dropped the gun and Mark hit him in the face with the basketball at the same time that Mr. Schuler hit him with the walking stick. Poor Harry tried to make a run for it then, but Tom caught him at the door. That was when the police arrived."
Oliver tried to take all of this in as he looked at the group of men with new eyes. They were an unlikely group of heroes, to say the least. "And Harry is the guy out front?"
Chloe nodded, amused despite the situation. "He's still wearing his work shirt from a local auto shop, and his name is on the pocket. Not the brightest bulb in the string of Christmas lights this season. Of course, he's so drunk I'm kind of surprised he was able to stay upright."
Oliver stepped forward, shaking each man's hand again. "Thank you. What you did today… there's no way that I can thank you enough."
Tom said, "It's us who should be thanking you, Mr. Queen, for all that you've done for the people of Star City. You saved my daughter from a carjacker once."
Oliver was surprised; he looked at Chloe but noted that she seemed just as surprised. "I'm glad that I was able to help her."
"It was her junior year of college. Worst thing that's ever happened to our family and had you not been there, our lives might be very different today. You stopped a burglary here in this store, too, as Ed here pointed out. The park's a safe place for the kids to play basketball in the evenings because of your efforts. The citizens of this city owe you a lot, and if we can look out for Mrs. Queen when she's running her errands then that's just our way of saying thank you. After all, Green Arrow can't be everywhere all the time. Ordinary citizens have to step up and take some of that responsibility too."
"Wait a minute," Chloe spoke up suddenly as she looked at Mark. "You look familiar because I've seen you before when I've been shopping in this area."
Mark nodded a bit sheepishly. "We play basketball in the park a lot, so Dad lets me know when you're over this way and I sort of keep an eye on you. He's got a whole network set up."
"I wouldn't call it a network," Tom argued. "Just a few of us business owners around here, the newspaper office, and Queen Industries – and some patrol officers in those areas. My daughter's husband works for the SCPD."
Chloe looked over at Oliver. "Well, my supposed powers of observation have taken a serious hit today. I wasn't aware of any of this."
Mr. Schuler peered up at Oliver. "We weren't following her exactly, so I hope it doesn't offend you. We certainly have faith that you can protect your family. But it's only fair that you should get a little help now and then. I'm not as spry as I used to be, but I bet that rascal out front will be feeling that whack to the head he got from me." He shook his walking stick a bit, looking pleased with himself. A flush tinted his cheeks and suddenly made him look younger.
"No, I'm not offended at all," Oliver said. "I'm just… a little shocked, I guess. I never realized that the citizens of Star City felt like this." When he and Chloe had returned, there had been a certain amount of fanfare and much of it was related to his identity as the Green Arrow. But still, he hadn't really imagined that the people of his hometown would rally around them and go out of their way to protect his family in the same way that he protected theirs.
Tom suddenly clapped Oliver on the shoulder. "Well, son, you're one of ours and that includes this lovely wife of yours. Now, I had just pulled a new batch of cinnamon rolls out of the oven when I heard those sirens – anyone hungry?"
Bart's hand shot up. "I'll take a few!"
Three days later Chloe and Oliver sat on the sofa and watched the merry chaos in their living room. Lois was arguing with Bart and AC about a board game they were playing. Martha, Clark, Dinah, and Victor were sitting around the table talking and drinking some of the hot chocolate that Chloe had managed to get Sonia's recipe for. The cinnamon rolls had been quite popular that morning, and Chloe suspected they'd all be gone by the time Bart left.
"I want to do something for them," Oliver said suddenly. He was sitting beside her on the couch examining his new watch.
"For who?" Chloe turned her attention away from their friends to look at Oliver.
"Tom and Mark and Ed Schuler," he replied.
"Ollie, I don't think they expect anything more than you're already doing," she pointed out gently.
"I know they don't. People like that give me faith in the world that we live in… faith that what I'm doing – what we're all doing – it's worth something. I just want to give that feeling back to them, I guess."
"And I think every time they read that Oliver Queen created more jobs for people here, or built a park for the kids of a housing tenement, they get that. And then they read that Green Arrow saved someone from a mugger or a carjacker – and now they know that those two heroes are the same person. Trust me, you give that feeling back to the community every day."
Oliver leaned forward and kissed her, his hand automatically going to her belly and giving it a gentle rub. "I love you," he said simply before dropping down to press a kiss to her tummy. "And I love you." He smiled when he felt the answering kick.
Chloe leaned against him, turning her attention back to Lois when she heard her cousin shouting that Bart was cheating by super speeding the pieces around the board. It was definitely the best Christmas she could remember having in years, and she was sure they had even happier ones in their future.