As usual, I apologize for any errors. Hope you enjoy!

Things seemed to have settled down since Chloe's strident meltdown, and for that Oliver was thankful. It was nice being on an even keel again. He spent last night with her at Watchtower, but was forced to head out early for an excess of painfully mundane meetings while she scurried around getting ready for the day. He decided to drop by around lunchtime in hopes of working over some of their theories regarding the meta infliction, but he was having a hard time staying focused. His mind kept inconveniently wandering to sex.

Chloe was leaning against her desk, ankles crossed demurely as she skimmed through a folder. He chuckled at the juxtaposition: tight pencil skirt with a ridiculously high slit, scarcely appropriate low cut blouse and enticingly high heels giving the illusion of a decency he knew she'd lately held inappreciable at best.

She glanced up at him and smiled. "So I've been looking over the files and finally came across something worthwhile. With the R&D Dept. funding them I've finally managed to catch a paper trail." She turned and leaned down to grab the documents from the bottom drawer.

Oliver stared shamelessly and smirked. He couldn't help it. He flashed back to last night—when Chloe was breathing hard as he bent her over the couch, her skirt bunched up around her hips as she begged him for more.

"Oliver, are you even listening to me?"

He shook his head, clearing away the brazen image. "Sorry," he offered impishly as she eyed him with a quizzical expression. "What were you saying?"

"Martin Wearson signed off on a project spearheaded by Dr. Kratzer, which proves Tess knows what's going on," Chloe informed him, shoving the folders into his hand. "She's still underground, but it won't last long. We were right you know, she's still working with Zod. She knew he had his powers back.

Oliver skimmed through the pages. Sure enough, Martin's signature was signed on the dotted line along with his department and title—Director of Biomedical Research. "How much do you want to bet she helped him find a way?" he suggested.

Chloe folded her arms across her chest in a gesture of frustration and self comfort. "She had labs Oliver. She said she'd been running experiments on kryptonite."

"Do we know if that's it?" He asked suspiciously, watching as Chloe snagged some aspirin off her desk and washed them down with a bit of coffee. Her headaches were becoming more frequent, but that seemed to be her only symptom as of late so he brushed it off with a latent concern.

"No," she answered. "But it feels a bit too familiar, doesn't it?" Chloe had thought Lex and his labs were a thing of the past. The possibility they could be resurrected made her feel sick with burden. She felt personally affronted the atrocities committed within 33.1 could occur again. "You know, I'm glad Brainiac wiped out my powers," she admitted rather morosely. "God only knows what she'd do if she saw me as an asset."

Oliver glanced up at her. He hated the thought of her strapped down to a table somewhere as someone's inconsequential guinea pig. He wanted her safe–with him, and Tess seemed determined to thwart his newfound cast at happiness. "It's like Lex all over again," he groused as he leaned against her desk. Chloe joined him. "She may have shut down the lab and helped the meta's escape, but knowing Tess she could easily have been covering her ass in order to move on to something more corrupt."

"She's got to be using them for something else," Chloe contemplated with a diminutive tilt of her head. "Tess wouldn't stop at mediocre experimentation."

"I have a gut feeling it's got something to do with the meta's."

"You really think Tess is using the labs to kill them?"

Oliver tossed the folder aside. "At this point, I honestly don't know. I've said before it doesn't mesh with her skewed idealism, ruthless as it may be. But as she morphs into this watered down version of the Luthors, the more I think...maybe. And Zod knows about them too—he has to."


"Because she knew about his powers; they're working together, sleeping together, plotting world domination together..."

"If they gather the rest of Zod's dysfunctional little family they'll be a regular Brady Bunch, only slightly more homicidal."

An hour later found Chloe and Oliver sitting on the couch; papers strewn across the coffee table and half eaten Chinese takeout containers littered throughout. Oliver's suit jacket had long since disappeared and his tie had joined Chloe's shoes on the floor.

"My best guess is the labs are being used to dig into the meta's. I'm not sure what they're hoping to gain or find out, but it seems pretty damn specific," Chloe said.

"Oliver scratched his head. "I know. Three victims with their heads sawed open and Tess funding underground labs—there's definitely a connection. At some point it'll make itself clear, I just hope it's not too late."

Chloe tucked her legs underneath her. "You know, I'm worried about the team. So far, all the meta's targeted have been damn powerful, and our guys easily fit the bill." It was a concern she'd cultivated since day one. The league was more than a judiciary means to an end; they were family, and Chloe was terrified of losing them—even Dinah, despite their initial animosity. She knew Oliver felt the same.

"At the very least, we need to warn them; bring them up to speed a bit," he suggested.

"Anything to keep them protected I guess. But I don't want them taking this on as a personal crusade. We don't know enough yet."

Oliver had been thinking the same thing. The team had a tendency to well-intentionally run amuck—much like himself—and he didn't want them hurt in the process. "I'll handle it," he assured her. "They can be hard to wrangle, but they'll listen." Playing leader to a misanthropic group of heroes was like trying to keep frogs on a dish—impossible. They each held a fairly egocentric agenda, despite their striving for the greater good. But the responsibility wasn't without its rewards.

"Good." She turned to face him. There was a topic she needed to broach with him, and it was something he was sure to balk at, even if it was a necessary evil. "So I've been thinking..."

Oliver paused, his hackles immediately raised. "Which usually equates to you doing something incredibly dangerous yet useful. So what's up?"

Chloe smiled, amused with how well he knew her. "I want to pay a visit to the good Dr."

Oliver needed less than a second to formulate his response. "Absolutely not Chloe. This guy is knee deep in whatever crazy shit Tess and her psycho boy toy have planned and I'm not about to let you walk in blind with only your laptop as a weapon."

"Look Oliver, this guy knows something. Tess isn't going to come waltzing in here spilling her double crossing guts any time soon and we have to stop this." She placed a hand gently across his cheek, forcing his gaze to hers. "Could you live with yourself if another meta was killed because you felt a need to play it safe for once?" she countered with a lift of her perfectly manicured brow.

Oliver scowled. "I'm not playing it safe Chloe, you are. It's been too many close calls, and we need you here, manning the Watchtower safely. I need you here Chloe."

She smiled in spite of herself, strangely amused by his arbitrary display of affection. "I know you do Oliver, and believe me when I tell you I'm in no hurry to play the hapless vigilante. But someone needs to interrogate him and we both know I'm the girl for the job. It's not like we can ask Lois."

Oliver sighed and relaxed back into the couch, pulling her with him. "Alright, so you have a point. But that doesn't mean I have to like it."

She nestled herself into his side, fingers idly tracing patterns on his chest. "I'm not asking you to Ollie, but you have to trust me on this."

"Fine," he reluctantly conceded. "But if you come back with even one mark on you I didn't put there last night you're in for one hell of a spanking."

Chloe peered up at him, a wicked little grin spreading across her face. "You promise?"

Oliver's eyebrows flew up to his hairline, and he returned her grin wholeheartedly. "Man, I love it when you get kinky," he responded happily before pulling her in for a kiss.