A/N - Sequel to 'Of Motility and Backup Methods' and comes BEFORE 'Of Snooping Best Friends and Interfering Cousins' – I felt like I needed a transition piece to explain how they're growing as a couple
Oliver woke slowly, feeling very relaxed and content, and knowing that had everything to do with the woman curled into his side. He opened his eyes to the dim, early morning light slanting across his bedroom and turned his head carefully to look at Chloe. She was still sleeping soundly, her head on his shoulder. One hand was tucked under her chin in a way that made her seem almost childlike while the other was thrown across his waist. She had twined her right leg with his left, sliding her feet under him just enough to keep them warm.
He really loved waking up with her this way. It was a position that he would have extricated himself from immediately with women in the past, but now he wanted to stay. He wanted to wake up every morning with her snuggled next to him. He carefully moved his right arm and slid his hand down the curve of her back, pausing for a moment to appreciate the feminine curve of her hip. She sighed, burrowing her head against him as she shifted her legs, sliding her foot along his calf.
Chloe had been staying with him almost every night for the past few weeks, and while Oliver knew that it was mostly because she was trying to avoid Lois, he was still happy with the current arrangement. She was now just over nine weeks pregnant and beginning to show signs of her impending motherhood. He had noticed small changes in her body, such as her breasts being a little fuller and her hips a bit rounder. She had also gained a slight, pudgy fullness in her belly, something she had been complaining about all week due to the fact that several pairs of her pants and a couple of skirts refused to fasten properly.
Personally, Oliver loved the changes because they were all signs that she was expecting a baby. His baby. He'd known for weeks, but thinking of their child growing within her still sent a surge of possessiveness through him. He caressed the curve of her hip again and Chloe sighed, scrunching her nose up and tightening her arm around his waist. God, she was adorable – and sexy, a combination that had never much appealed to him. Now he couldn't imagine anything or anyone more appealing than the petite blonde beside him.
He shifted from beneath her, grinning when she made a sound rather like a disgruntled puppy. He propped himself up beside her and leaned down to kiss her brow. His lips trailed down her cheek to her neck, pressing soft kisses to her warm, silky skin. He breathed deeply, loving the scent of the new body wash and lotion she had purchased. It smelled like apples with just the slightest hint of vanilla, and it made him want to lick her like an ice cream cone.
Chloe moaned as Oliver slid his arm around her and continued his early morning wakeup call. She wrapped one arm around his back and pressed her lips to the top of his head. Oliver shifted to kiss the curve of her breast and then pressed another kiss over her heart. "Good morning."
"Good morning," Chloe murmured.
"How are you feeling?" Oliver asked as he kissed her shoulder.
"At the moment? Very, very good," she sighed, rubbing his back as she tried to pull him closer.
"No morning sickness?" Another sign of her pregnancy was the nausea that had struck rather suddenly a couple of weeks before. It seemed to hit mostly in the late morning and early afternoon, but she had woken feeling sick a few mornings as well.
Chloe responded by sliding her tongue against the sensitive skin just below his ear. Every nerve in Oliver's body jumped to attention, and he groaned. In a sudden move he shifted to his back and swung her over to straddle his hips. She gasped, bracing her hands on his chest, and then he felt something… wet? He opened his eyes as Chloe sat straight up, hands over her mouth and a horrified look in her eyes as she stared down at him.
"What's wrong?" Oliver asked, alarmed. He looked down. "Oh. Chloe, it's ok don't…"
She moved so suddenly that she was off the bed before he could stop her, and he sat up as she disappeared into the master bathroom. He grabbed his T-shirt from the floor beside the bed and wiped his chest before following her. The door was shut but not locked, and he opened it to find her sitting on the edge of his jetted tub, hands over her face.
"Chloe, it's ok," he said, moving to sit beside her. When she didn't say anything, Oliver sighed. "Come on, look at me."
She looked up and his heart hurt as he saw the tears streaming down her face. "I just puked on you while we were having sex."
"Technically we weren't having sex yet, but yeah… close enough, I guess. And you didn't really puke on me. Much. Baby, it happens – there's no reason to get this upset." Oliver reached over to rub her back.
"Puke happens? That's supposed to make me feel better?" She was incredulous as she looked up at him.
"Yes?" Oliver replied hopefully. He felt like he was in new territory with Chloe these days. He was very familiar with the Chloe who put up walls and hid her emotions behind snarky retorts. He'd learned how to get around the closed off front she presented to the world and, little by little, he felt like he'd gotten to know the real Chloe. But lately she'd become far more emotional than he had ever known her to be, and slightly less rational, which meant that his usual approaches were falling far short of his goal.
"Can you just give me a minute?" Chloe asked, sniffing.
Oliver hesitated, unsure if he should leave her alone while she was crying. Finally he stood up. "I'm going to go call Emil, see if there's something we can do to help the nausea." When she didn't respond he sighed and walked out of the bathroom.
He grabbed his phone from the bedside table and called Emil, who said he would call in a prescription for Chloe. He also suggested that Chloe try sipping tea or ginger ale, and he urged Oliver to make sure she didn't skip meals. Oliver wasn't worried about her skipping meals since he tried to have at least two meals a day with her, and he'd begun having some meals delivered to her when he couldn't leave the office. But the tea and ginger ale could be a problem since Chloe didn't really like either of them.
Oliver called his delivery service to pick up Chloe's prescription at the pharmacy as well as a selection of decaffeinated teas, crackers, and ginger ale. He had also called in their usual breakfast order at a small café which delivered to neighborhood clientele. By the time Chloe emerged from the bathroom, their order had arrived and Oliver was busy setting the table.
"Feeling better?" He paused to look at her, taking note of her pallor.
She shrugged as she walked over to the table and sat down without looking at him.
"Emil called in a prescription for you," he said, holding up the small bag.
Chloe took the bag, frowning at him. "A prescription for what? I'm already taking my prenatal vitamins."
"For the nausea," Oliver answered. "And he suggested a few other things to try."
Chloe was busy reading the information page that came with the medication. "I'm not taking this."
"What? Why?" he asked.
"One of the possible side effects is nausea and vomiting. And it's used to treat symptoms other than nausea."
"But it is safe for use by pregnant women," he pointed out. "I looked it up after I talked to Emil."
Chloe put the bag on the counter beside the table. "I'll try natural remedies, but I'm not taking drugs."
"Fair enough. The delivery service also sent some teas, crackers and ginger ale."
Chloe wrinkled her nose in distaste. "I hate ginger ale, and I've never been a fan of tea."
Oliver sat down, feeling slightly exasperated. His adorable blonde was definitely pushing his patience this morning. "Chloe, you have to try something. Maybe the crackers?"
"Would you just back off? I'll eat and drink when I feel like it." She stood, but Oliver stopped her before she could walk away.
"Chloe, I get that you're not feeling like yourself, but you need to make sure you're getting the proper nutrition. And if you're throwing up several times a day, you're not going to. I'm just trying to help."
Chloe looked away from him. "Yeah because excessive vomit was really part of our deal here."
Oliver struggled to hold onto his temper. "Do you think we could just shelve the fucking deal for a minute? Or is that too much to ask?"
Her head shot up in surprise. "Oliver…"
"No, just listen for a minute. I am fully aware of our deal. I was right there with you when we agreed that our relationship didn't need to be complicated, that we could have some fun without the messy entanglements. And I know you, Chloe. I know that somewhere in the back of your mind, you've got this idea that maybe the rules are only changing now because you're pregnant. But here's the thing – that deal we made? It was months ago, and if I'd been in it for the fun, I'd have been done long before you told me about the baby. I went into this knowing I felt something more for you than simple attraction."
Chloe swiped a tear off her cheek with her finger. "I know," she said softly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that the way that it sounded. Can we just chalk my crazy up to the hormones? I still don't want to take the drugs, but I'll try any other remedies you want me to."
"Why don't want to take the prescription?" He was curious about her reasons for being so adamantly against it.
She sighed. "I'm meteor infected, for one thing."
His heart jumped into his throat. "But that's dormant – you said you haven't shown any sign of abilities since Brainiac infected you."
"Yes, but dormant doesn't mean gone, and meanwhile I do still have meteor rock in my system. I just… I feel like that already puts our baby at risk, and I don't want to add to the risk if there's another solution. And I know that's not completely rational since Emil would never give me medicine that could hurt our baby, but I can't help feeling this way." Chloe looked miserable as fresh tears welled up in her eyes. "And dammit, I cry like ten times a day now, and it's pissing me off, and my pants won't button, and I want coffee."
Oliver reached out and grasped her hand as he pulled her down into his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. "We'll try the herbal remedies first ok? And I get where you're coming from on this, so just try to relax and let me help you as much as I can. We'll talk to Emil about your meteor infection if it's something you're worried about, and we'll get through it together. Now, why don't you try some of the teas and see if you like any of them, and if any seem to help with the nausea. You can try crackers first and then have your muffin."
She hugged him back. "Thanks."
He smiled at her as she began to look through the teas. His pregnancy book was definitely right on the money when it came to most of her pregnancy symptoms, and he knew her hormones were fluctuating wildly at the moment. He just needed to be patient.
A week later his patience was wearing very, very thin. Chloe's morning sickness had hit with a vengeance, and her constant worry about throwing up on him again had led her to try sneaking out of the bedroom to sleep on the couch a few times. He didn't want her to sleep on the couch; he wanted her to sleep with him.
She also continued to refuse the nausea medication even though Emil had assured them both that it was perfectly safe. She tried the ginger ale, but since she didn't like the way it tasted it seemed to aggravate her symptoms. He would have tried reasoning with her, but lately her emotional state was all over the map and he never knew from one moment to the next how she would react.
He began researching herbal remedies online, and he also had Emil researching the topic. He began experimenting with tea, mixing different types together to create a custom blend. And while she grudgingly admitted that some of them tasted ok, none seemed to really help.
Chloe was nearing her eleventh week of pregnancy when he tried mixing fresh ginger root with one of her favorite teas. The new mixture also contained a root he'd ordered from Tibet, and he was eager to see if his latest concoction worked.
When Chloe came to the table for breakfast and picked up her mug, she made a face. "This is not the tea that I like."
"Well, it is but I added to the mixture and I think this one will work. Go ahead and try it."
"Ugh, this smells really bad. What's in it?" She looked at the contents of the mug suspiciously.
"Ginger root and a special root I ordered from Tibet." Oliver gave her an encouraging smile. "Just try it and let's see if this works."
"I don't care where you got the root, or if the Dalai Lama himself grew it – I'm not drinking that." Chloe pushed the mug away.
"Chloe come on – you promised me that you would try all my herbal remedies. I'm worried about the fact that you're eating so little right now. And once we clear up nausea problem, I will really make it worth your while." He smiled suggestively and winked at her.
She sighed and looked down at the mug again, pulling it a bit closer. "Isn't there anything we could put in it to make it – I don't know, less stinky?"
"You can add more sugar if you want to. Look, I know it smells a little bad but it's supposed to work amazingly well for pregnant women."
She looked resigned. "Fine, I'll try it."
Oliver watched as she made a production out of adding sugar, stirring it for so long that he figured it had to be completely cold by now. Finally, she took the smallest of sips. She waited a moment before taking another one, and then another.
"Well? Is it working?" He asked.
Chloe sat back and frowned at him. "Seriously, out of all the teas in the world, it had to be the stinkiest one you could find that actually works?"
"I would say 'I told you so' but the first hundred or so remedies we tried didn't work, so let's just be grateful that this one did. Now, think you can manage some breakfast?"
She nodded. "Yeah, I think so – I actually feel a bit hungry."
"Good," he said with a grin. "Because I seem to recall mentioning something about making this worth your while. Never let it be said that Oliver Queen doesn't follow through."
"Pretty sure you will never hear me say that about you," she joked as she took a muffin and placed it on her plate.
Oliver couldn't stop smiling as he turned his attention to his own breakfast. He had definitely learned a lot lately about what made Chloe tick, and he was learning more every day. He had a feeling this journey they were taking together was only the beginning.
A/N – I intended to have this up a couple of days ago, but I found out on Wednesday that I'd be leaving for my next teaching job in Saudi Arabia on Sunday – yep, that's today folks. Very short notice, and I've been scrambling a bit to prepare. I've been trying to set aside time for editing this story but it didn't work out, so I did my best this evening. But it's late and I am literally falling asleep at the computer now, so if you see mistakes please point them out to me. It might be a couple of days before I have a chance to change them, but I'll get to it.
As I said, I'm leaving today so I'll get to the other updates once I get to Saudi. I will have wi-fi, and I've been told I shouldn't have problems with sites like LJ and FF, and I hope that's true. I arrive in Riyadh on Monday, so I'll try to post updates to Shadows and Letting Go soon. Thanks a lot to all who read and review, it's always very much appreciated!