Disclaimer: Not mine, not for profit, for entertainment only.
Spoilers and changes to the timeline: Dark Thursday never happened, Lex is bad, but not evil (similar past to the show without the more extreme things, ie. he never kidnapped Chloe). He dated Lana to try to learn Clark's secret for a short time, but there was no marriage or baby. The larger issues of alien invasions will not play in this story, but there are still meteor freaks, and Lex's interest in meteor freaks. Chloe and Clark are 21, Lois two years older but the same year in college, Oliver and Lex are older (6-7 years).
Money can't buy love
"You'll never guess who I met today," Lois said abruptly, which was normal for her, as she dropped into a seat across from Chloe at the younger girl's favorite café, conveniently located across the street from the Daily Planet. Chloe looked up from her laptop with a preoccupied look, but her gaze immediately went back to the story she was working on. "Chlo, are you even listening to me? If I don't see the whites of your eyes in-
"George Bush," Chloe guessed, interrupting her cousin's threat.
"Hotter," Lois said smugly, sitting back in her chair and crossing her arms.
"Taller," Lois said in a tone that clearly said she was imagining dirty things- either with George Clooney or the mystery person she'd met.
"Derek Jeeter," Chloe guessed again, combining three things that Lois would be enraptured about – tall, hot, and baseball.
Chloe finally looked up, saving her document and closing her laptop. "Seriously Lo, do I need to keep guessing?"
"Yes," Lois said. "You invite me here then ignore my big news."
Chloe rolled her eyes but pursed her lips as her eyes drifted upwards, deep in thought. "Ben Affleck, A-Rod, Jeff Goldblum...
"Who?" Lois said, shaking her head.
"Jeff Goldblum, tall, hot, actor." Lois still looked blank. "He was in Independence Day, speaking of, Will Smith."
"That's nerd hot, not hot-hot. I thought we'd discussed this and arrived at a mutual conclusion that you were no longer allowed to play Scully to the nerd boys anymore."
Chloe looked exasperated. "Gerard Butler. John Corbet, Mr. Big..." she frowned to think of some more. "Conan O'Brien?"
"Funny, but not hot. Seriously Chlo, I'm beginning to think you need a serious intervention."
Chloe began to look annoyed. "Fine. Hot. Tall. True Blood. Joe Manganiello or Alexander Skarsgård."
"Ah, good guesses, but if that were the case I'd still be drooling over them. Not here with you."
Chloe laughed, her annoyance at her older cousin forgotten. "I give up."
"I said I give up Lo, just tell me."
"Oliver Queen," Lois said, looking like the cat that ate the canary.
"Oliver Queen. Here in Metropolis?"
"Yeah, I was- "
"What's he doing here? Some deal with LuthorCorp?" Chloe pondered that then shook her head. "No, not likely. Another business deal?" Chloe didn't know much about the young billionaire beyond the basics. He was orphaned when his parents died when he was a child, he was a renowned playboy, but had managed to graduate from Harvard. He was attractive, blonde and brown eyed, which she knew from seeing his face on the cover of countless tabloids and magazines. He was the CEO of Queen Industries, and had been for several years, and since the company was still solvent, either he wasn't a complete idiot or he had a good team behind him. And he didn't do business with LuthorCorp. Which was the most interesting thing about him as far as Chloe was concerned.
Lois slumped back in her seat. "You're hopeless. I tell you a hot billionaire is in town, and instead of wondering how we can run into him, and seduce him, you want to interview him for a story. And I'd bet my best jeans that you wouldn't even slip him your number afterwards."
"That's not very professional Lois."
"The man is sex on legs. Really long legs with amazing thighs."
Chloe frowned. "He's news."
"His thighs, Chlo. Do you think I notice many men's thighs before I've seen them naked? No." But Lois's words had no impact, Chloe already lost in thought, wondering how to find out what Star City's favorite son was doing in the Midwest. Lois sighed and gave up on convincing her cousin to the error of her ways. Chloe dated enough, the blonde hair, big smile and curves being enough to pull guys in, but she seemed to be drawn to the nerdy awkward types. Lois just wanted her cousin to have one hot burning affair with a man that could scorch her panties with just a look, a man that would distract her – just for awhile – from stories, and her nerdy-hot best friend, Clark Kent, and her nerdy-boring boyfriend.
"He owns the Star City Mariners, he came to see Smallville at the farm," Lois reported anticlimactically.
Chloe's face lit up with a smile, but the smile didn't reach her eyes. She knew Clark couldn't, wouldn't, join the NFL. Using his abilities to help pay for college had been a big enough gamble. But he'd taken the chance after his father had died and his mother had been strapped for cash. Martha had ultimately decided to take over Jonathon's state senate seat, but the salary hadn't been enough to pay off the Kent Farm's debt, keep the farm, and send Clark to college. So Clark had walked onto the Met U football team their freshman year of college and earned a full ride by the end of his first week. So Oliver Queen was bound to be disappointed.
But from the look on Lois's face, her cousin wouldn't mind cheering the man up. "Should I even ask if you slipped him your number? Or maybe your panties?"
Lois scoffed. "Of course not. He has women throwing themselves at him all day long. I let him know what he'd be missing if he didn't chase me," Lois said with an arch look.
Chloe laughed and the laugh grew until she was holding a hand over her stomach, imagining the interaction between her confident, brash cousin and the oversexed, over indulged billionaire. "But you still want me to throw myself at him?"
Lois shrugged, "I'd totally walk away from his fine ass if it meant you finally embrace your inner sex goddess."
Chloe nodded sagely. "You're a good cousin, Lo."
"The best." Her eyes turned dreamy again. "Seriously Chlo, the best. You didn't see that ass. The man keeps it tight."
Chloe started laughing again, wondering not for the first time if Lois had made a man feel like the prey instead of the hunter. Even a man like Oliver Queen.
After getting another coffee with Lois, Chloe returned to work, or rather her internship at the Daily Planet. She received a stipend, which barely made a dent in her student debt, and she was lucky to get that. The paper was swamped with applications from college students, new graduates, and journalists who'd worked in the field. Chloe was one of only two students who received a stipend, the selection of which was based on past performance.
Chloe loved being a reporter, she loved working in the bullpen with the other DP journalists, and she loved the fact that as a junior she'd earned the editorship at the Met U Free Press. She loved it, and she was good at it. In two years she'd graduate and with any luck (and a lot of skill and due-paying) she'd land an entry level position at the Daily Planet. It was her dream job, the only job she'd ever considered. Ever wanted.
She googled Oliver Queen and Metropolis to see why the west coast's most famous playboy was in her town, but turned up no relevant results. There was a story there, even if it wasn't as exciting as Chloe's last story which had exposed police corruption in one of the worst burrows in Metropolis, or her current story about real estate fraud that she was still working on getting enough proof to print. There was a story, a story her editors would appreciate having, and Chloe would deliver it to them.
Chloe ended up writing the article about Oliver Queen's presence in Metropolis after ferreting out that he was opening a new manufacturing plant for microships on the edge of a poor neighborhood, but one that was not yet overrun with crime. The factory would offer jobs, and the on the job training program would ensure that the people in that neighborhood could be eligible for those jobs.
He was in town to smooth the way to getting permits, wanting to fast track the process. Chloe wondered about the larger implications of Queen Industries setting up shop in LuthorCorp territory, but she didn't think the answer to that question would be so easy to get, even if she posed it to the man himself. So she'd written her story, gotten a few of her fellow reporters in trouble for not knowing before the student intern did, and moved on.
Chloe still hadn't met the man in person, though she knew he and Clark had developed a friendship, and Lana and Lois were happy to enjoy the spillover of the VIP treatment Oliver received wherever he went.
To Lois's disappointment, Oliver had not pursued her, but she'd bounced back quick enough, her newest boyfriend being a hot fireman. Chloe didn't bother to learn their names until they made it past the one month mark. So the hot fireman, known only as Hot Pants, joined the ranks of Long Haul (a marathon runner), Hotty Po-po (a hot police officer), Speedy (a race car driver), Oorah (a hot marine), Tweedy (Chloe's hot political science teacher, but thankfully not Lois's), and Blue Balls (the hot soccer player, nicknamed not for his sport, but for the fact that he insisted on no sex for the three days before any game).
For her part, Chloe was busy actually attending classes (which was more than she could say for her cousin, who only put in enough class and study time to actually pass), working at the student paper and the Daily Planet, and rekindling her romance with Jimmy Olson. They'd met when they were just 16, and dated on and off since then. When Chloe got frustrated enough with Jimmy she broke up with him, and sometimes dated someone else, but much to Lois's annoyance they always seemed to get back together.
Lois's barely polite behavior towards Jimmy was partially why Chloe was not looking forward to the night ahead. Oliver had invited them all to the opening of a new night club, the Ace of Clubs. Arriving at the venue with Lois, Chloe looked around for Jimmy who was supposed to meet them there. "OK, Lo, I need you to promise to try to be nice to Jimmy tonight."
"And I need you to try to date a man with an actual backbone, so neither of us is getting what we want," Lois replied blandly.
"Lois..." Chloe sighed.
"Hey!" Lois called out, waving at Oliver who was one of several people in the VIP section. "Oliver!"
The tall blonde man looked over at them and smiled, motioning with his hand for the bouncer to let them through. Lois slipped past the red velvet ropes but Chloe paused to check their names off the list the bouncer held, sending him a bright smile. The bouncer broke his stern stare to wink back at her with a quirk of his mouth and Chloe laughed a bit. Lois always acted like being nice to people was a huge waste of time, but Chloe didn't struggle to be kind, and she never knew when a random person she met could come in handy on a story, so she usually made the effort.
Chloe stepped through the velvet ropes and approached Lois and Oliver Queen.
"Finally," Lois complained. "Oliver this is my cousin, Chloe Sullivan."
Oliver flashed a million dollar grin, all white teeth in a too attractive masculine face, extending his hand. "So I finally get to meet the elusive Chloe."
Chloe arched one eyebrow, but took his hand. His fingers were long and tapered, everything about him from his casually expensive clothes and perfect physique speaking of quiet wealth and aristocratic breeding. "What can I say, I'm a busy girl," Chloe demurred, somewhat surprised by his controlled energy. She'd expected a mostly out of control party boy, at least at the club opening, but she sensed a well of cool reserved control that would rival Lex.
His handshake was firm, perfect really- not too hard, or soft, not too long or short, and he gave her his full attention, his eyes staying on her face despite the cleavage revealing shirt she wore. His hand was so large compared to hers that Chloe registered how tall and broad shouldered he really was. The refined cut of his clothing did little to disguise his muscles, and Chloe wondered if he spent half his day in the gym. Oddly, his fingers and palm were calloused, which Chloe only noticed because she'd expected baby soft hands. Hands like Lex's.
He released her hand, and waved over a waiter to get the girls' drink order. Clark arrived and Chloe was vaguely surprised not to see Lana with him, but didn't bother asking, beyond caring what little tiff or giant fight over trust and secrets the two had gotten in this time. Oliver greeted Clark as Chloe turned a bright smile on her best friend, the city's resident secret crime fighter.
"Hey Clark," she greeted, stepping into his side so they could give each other a casual one armed hug that spoke of friendship, comfort and familiarity.
"At least you're not wearing flannel," Lois said, indirectly insulting Clark's outfit choice.
The conversation flowed around her, Lois baiting Clark, Clark blustering, and Oliver alternately defending Clark and egging on Lois. Chloe tried to crane her head to see if Jimmy had arrived, but couldn't see much of anything, surrounded by giants as she was. Oliver Queen easily matched Clark's 6 foot 3 inches, though slighter of build. At 5 foot 3, Chloe was a good five inches shorter than her older cousin, and suddenly felt a bit claustrophobic trapped in between the three taller friends. And Chloe realized abruptly that Oliver and Clark were friends, which was surprising.
Both Chloe and Clark had been burned by Lex Luthor, so Chloe had thought Clark would be more wary of a new billionaire inserting himself into their lives, but she saw no sign of it as the men talked.
"I'm going to go find Jimmy," Chloe said to no one in particular and took her leave. She wanted to check out the club and hopefully find her boyfriend.
Later that night Oliver watched as Chloe danced with the guy Lois referred to only as "Photo Bomb" when Chloe wasn't around, Oliver knew from Clark that the guy's name was actually Jimmy, and he was Chloe's long time boyfriend. The blonde girl had a smile that could light up the room, a fact that Oliver knew from her smiling at everyone but him. She was pretty, in a much different way than her cousin, or Clark's girlfriend. She had the spark and intensity that Lois had, but also the quiet kindness that Lana exuded. Adoration shone out of her eyes when she looked at Clark, but the ease between them said it was completely platonic, a fact reinforced by Lana's simple friendship with Chloe, despite the dark haired girl's insecurity about her relationship with Clark.
Chloe was currently arguing with her boyfriend at the end of the VIP bar, an argument apparently brought on by Chloe's not immediately quitting the dance floor when a guy joined the group of girls during a popular hip-hop song. Anger, impatience, and annoyance blazed in Chloe's eyes as the argument continued. Clark and Lana were occupied in a conversation just for two, and therefore he hadn't noticed the growing intensity of the altercation, but Lois looked ready to stomp over and deck Photo Bomb, which prompted Oliver to act.
He scooped a drink up off the table, not worrying about whose or what it was, having no intention of drinking it, it was just a prop, like so much of his public life. He plastered a big, slightly sloppy drink on his face, letting his eyelids droop. He nearly bumped into Chloe, but pulled back just in time, the drink slopping out of the cup and forcing Photo Bomb to step back or get soaked. "Chloe," Oliver greeted her with the happy tones of a drunk. "What are you doing over here? D-ya need another drink? It's on me!" he boasted.
Chloe turned to face him with a frown. "No," she said sharply, then drew back, forcing herself to calm down. "Thank you, but I'm fine. And maybe you've had enough too?" she pointed out gently, her hand reaching out to take his elbow. Jimmy huffed and stormed away, and for a moment, Chloe looked like she was going to follow him, but she changed her mind, compressing her lips in annoyance, then forcing herself to smile at Oliver. Most people would consider it a smile, but Oliver had seen her real smiles, and knew this barely qualified.
She turned towards him and tugged on his elbow, leading him to an empty couch. "Let me get you some water. If you're like Lois, you can hold your liquor, but no one likes a hangover."
Oliver smiled, watching her flag down a waiter for him. People never tried to sober him up. The "drunker" he got the more he spent, buying rounds, giving out newsworthy large tips, and generally backing up his playboy reputation. Chloe handed him a glass of water, and sat with him while he drank it under her watchful eyes. Once he finished she stood up, and caught Lois's attention, pointing at her wrist to indicate the time, and then the door. Lois frowned, but shrugged off her disappointment in her cousin's impending departure. "Thanks for tonight, I could never have afforded to come here, the cover charge alone is my whole entertainment budget for the week, so… thanks. Have a good night."
Oliver frowned, watching her go. That was another first. A sincere thanks for paying the bill for a night out. And without even a hint at being invited in the future. Even his best friend Hal, didn't say thanks anymore. But then Hal also knew that Oliver needed to throw money and debauchery around to keep people from looking too closely at him.
Not long after the first Green Arrow sighting in Metropolis, Chloe began to look at Oliver with suspicion. There were too many connections. Star City. Their heights. The gadgets that would cost money. But as just as Chloe was about to determine, once and for all, that despite the unlikely nature of the man that she knew, shallow, vain, easily amused then easily bored, that Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow, she happened to see the Green Arrow in action, while she could visually confirm that Oliver Queen was elsewhere.
Their loose group of friends was gathering to celebrate Lana's birthday at a fancy French restaurant on the waterfront. Chloe had left the table to take a call from a source, needing the break anyway from Jimmy's constant ass kissing towards Oliver. When he was in Oliver's presence, he constantly flattered the older man, but once they were along Jimmy pointed out all Oliver's flaws and at least every other time accused Chloe of flirting with the billionaire. It bothered Chloe to no end. So when the call came she took the opportunity to not only leave the table, but leave the restaurant. On the street outside she happened to see a woman mugged, and rushed to help, but before she could make it two steps, the Green Arrow, in full green leather outfit swooped down from the rooftops and took down the mugger in a flying tackle. Within 60 seconds, the criminal was zip tied, the purse returned to the sobbing woman, and Chloe's suspicion that Oliver Queen was a vigilante was vanquished.
"Did it work?" AC asked later that night, sipping a glass of water while looking out of Oliver's Clock Tower window at the river below.
"Like a charm," Oliver confirmed. "Clark said that she not only scrapped her idea, she decided to put her investigation onto the back burner. Not that he thinks she would have revealed my identity regardless."
"Boy Scout trusts her, but you don't. Is there a reason?"
Oliver shrugged. "She's know him a lot longer. Loves him. Me, she barely tolerates," Oliver said with a shrug, but AC could hear the discontent in his voice.
"You have led her to believe that you're pretty much a wastrel, if she doesn't like you, that's your own fault," AC stated simply. "I remember Chloe, she has drive, integrity. She's not the kind to have her head turned by a fistful of money or a handsome face. She saw through Luthor quick enough, and she was just a kid then."
"I know," Oliver said quietly. "But even if I wanted to tell her the truth about me, I promised Clark that I wouldn't. He doesn't want her drawn into danger any more than she has been, and considering some of the stories I've heard, I have to agree. She's safer not knowing."
"If you say so," AC said, not agreeing or disagreeing.
Six months later, Oliver entered Chloe's favorite coffee shop, looking around and finding the small blonde sitting at the corner table. It was raining outside, and condensation gathered on the windows, partially blocking out the world outside. "Chloe, looking beautiful," he greeted her easily, sitting down across from her.
"Hey Oliver," she replied with a half smile.
"No computer?" he questioned. It was an odd occurrence for Chloe to be seated alone at a café, or her office, or couch, without her computer open before her.
He knew from one of Lois's recent rant's that Chloe had broken up with Jimmy again, and gone out with another guy. News that somehow had made its way back to Jimmy and led to a big public blow out.
"Sounds exhausting," he teased, earning an arched eyebrow and look of mixed amusement and derision.
"What are you doing here?" she questioned.
"I saw you, thought I'd say hi. I haven't seen you around in awhile." She'd been lying low, brooding according to Lois.
"I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not much of a partier."
He nodded and then turned to smile at the waitress who'd brought over his green tea. He talked to her for a minute, smiling at her obvious flirting, but sending her away quickly enough.
"No wonder your ego is so out of control," Chloe laughed.
"You really don't like me much do you?" Oliver said with forced easiness. He liked her. Her sarcasm, passion, sharp intelligence (in everything but her choice in boyfriends) and humor, in combination with her drive to make the world a better place had made him admire her more than any other woman.
He saw the shock on her face that he'd called her out, but she quickly pushed aside her discomfort. "I think you're…" She broke off knowing that what she'd been about to say was also an insult. "I, ah…"
"It's OK, you can say it. It's not like you've hid it all that well so far," he couldn't stop himself from needling her.
She pursed her lips at him, her expression serious. "You're generous, charming, quick, obviously intelligent. But you spend your time thrill seeking. If you're not dulling your boredom with booze and women, you're jumping out of an airplane or flying the newest experimental design. You're nice to your friends, but you treat women like they're disposable. I doubt you can even name the women you've slept with this month alone." She shrugged. "I don't like or dislike you. You're a good guy sometimes, and a complete douche other times. I'm never sure which one of you is going to show up, so I just…" she waved her hand as if to dismiss him, and he nodded.
He'd asked for it, and she'd given him her honest opinion, he couldn't be angry about it. "I got it. Thanks for your honesty," he said in a calm voice, but while there was no anger, there was also no humor, no warmth, and Chloe frowned.
He stood up, shaking his head. "No, Chloe, don't try to take it back. You didn't say anything that's not true." He slipped an envelope out of his jacket pocket and set it on the table. "I found that information you wanted," he said in a business-like tone, causing Chloe to freeze as shame filled her. "But I think you should look more at the land records. Something there isn't right. I got the parcel numbers, the plans are public records so I know you can take it from here."
Chloe's eyes met his, and he saw regret in the green orbs clearly enough. "Oliver…"
"It's fine Chloe. I may not like it, but I appreciate your honesty regardless," he slipped a twenty dollar bill under his cup, and turned to leave.
"Ollie…" she called out, and he turned back, unable to deny her. "I'm…" she bit back her apology, and forced a smile. "Thanks."
"No problem. Try not to get in any sticky situations this time, huh?"
She smiled, but once again it didn't reach her eyes. Oliver slipped outside and Chloe watched him pull his jacket closer around him as he walked back towards the Clock Tower.