Jack sat outside Oliver’s office waiting for him to be done with whatever useless conference call he was on at the moment. He glanced down at the papers in his hand and let out an irritated sigh. He hadn’t heard much from Cynthia lately on how their plan was progressing so he’d decided to take a few things into his own hands.
He spent most of last week in private meetings with the rest of the board of Queen Industries convincing them that when Oliver got married he wasn’t of sound mind and therefore due to his drunken nuptials he hadn’t sighed a prenup, which in turn would leave the company in jeopardy should his marriage not work out.
It hadn’t taken much convincing and it was mutually decided that he would approach Oliver with the approval of the board and several different solutions to the problem. He figured this should at least help move things along a little and give Cynthia a chance to possibly worm her way in.
He glanced at his watch and when he looked back up Oliver’s secretary was standing in front of him smile on her face. “Mr. Queen can see you now Mr. Wilson.”
He nodded and stood. “Thanks.” He moved towards the door pushing it open as Oliver waved him in. He sat down in one of the chairs and smiled. “Good afternoon Oliver.”
Oliver nodded, "Afternoon Jack, sorry about the wait." He pulled a glass from his table and began pouring himself a glass of water. "Can I get you anything?" He offered.
He shook his head, "No I'm good thank you. Sorry about squeezing into your schedule today, but I thought it was important we spoke about this before the rest of the board got too antsy."
He cleared his throat and glanced down at the folder in his hand before placing it on Oliver's desk. "First I just want to say that we're all glad to have you back in Star City full time...now in other news for the past week or so the board has been meeting to discuss your current...situation. I know you're aware that there have been some concerns since your recent marriage correct?"
Oliver took a drink from his glass and took his seat behind his desk, "With all due respect, Jack... My marriage has nothing to do with the company, and thus is not anyone's business but my own."
Jack nodded while giving Oliver a placating look, "I understand completely why you feel that way, and I'm sure under normal circumstances the board would agree. But it has come to our attention that when you married Miss Sullivan...well you weren't exactly of sound mind and we don't have a prenuptial agreement on file." He paused trying to gauge Oliver's reaction to his words.
Oliver pursed his lips, "Well, Jack, I assure you one wasn't necessary." He leaned back in his chair, his jaw tightening as he considered what the older man was insinuating, "Mrs. Queen was never out to get me for my money, and furthermore, we're in wedding bliss." Oliver tilted his head, his lips slanting into a smirk, "And again, let the board worry about the company. I'll worry about my marriage."
Jack nodded, “Well the board is concerned Oliver…especially after they got news of the latest story that has been picked up by the Gazette. Did you know that your wife has been married once before? And there was an investigation into the death of her husband? He was killed less than five months after they were married…”
Jack pursed his lips and motioned towards the folder before sitting back in his seat. “That’s a copy of the article that will be in tomorrow’s paper…I really think you should read it. Look all the board is asking is that you get Chloe to sign some papers relinquishing her share on the company.”
He held up a hand before Oliver could speak, “The board is not trying to run your marriage Oliver, what you do with your money and your assets is your business, but we all have stake in the company. She isn’t fit to run a business should anything happen to you. So they sent me here to request that you get her to sign the papers under the article.”
Oliver glared from across his desk, "Chloe was barely an adult when she was first married and I sincerely hope you weren't implying that my wife is a criminal." He shook his head, "Because she isn't. Both she and her first husband were attacked at their reception, I was there."
Oliver held up a hand, motioning the other man not to interrupt, "And it was the same assailant that killed her ex-husband."
He reached for the phone at his desk, "Is that all Jack? Because apparently I have to call the local press before they print an embarrassing false story."
Jack held up his hand and stood, “Don’t shoot the messenger Oliver and I wasn’t calling her a criminal just merely stating that it’s better to be safe than sorry. At least look over the paperwork that was drawn up…they are expecting you to take care of this…and I’m afraid of what they might do if you don’t.”
He stood up and motioned to the folder on the desk, “The papers are under the article…and if I were you I’d make a few calls…I don’t believe the Gazette is the only one with the story…but I can tell you they were they most tactful with how it was written up.”
Oliver removed his hand from the phone and narrowed his eyes. He picked up the folder, going through the stack of papers before pulling out the documents they had drawn up, expecting him to convince Chloe to sign and relinquish her rights to his company.
He tossed them onto the desk and nodded his head toward them, "Take them; my wife won't be signing them."
He stood up from his desk then, making sure they could see eye to eye, "Chloe is the only person I would want running my company should anything unfortunate happen to me."
His fingers laid on top of the papers before he slid them to the other edge of his desk, "And I'd want it to stay that way until our son or daughter was of age to take care of anything."
Jack pursed his lips and shook his head, “I thought you said she wasn’t pregnant?”
Oliver clenched his jaw, "She's not at the moment, but this is the woman I want to raise a family with, Jack. So there could be children in the near future."
Jack sighed, “You know Oliver…I have worked for this company since your father ran it…and even he had a prenup with your Mother until their marriage reached a certain point…I can see that you are very sure about the woman you love…and I respect that. I just hope she’s as sure about you because the minute she decides it isn’t going to work whether or not you want it to work won’t matter and then she get’s half of everything. Company included.”
He shrugged, “But you do what you want, you always have. Keep the papers. I’m not taking them back to the board it will only cause more of a stir. I’ll see you for the next meeting.” He inclined his head in a goodbye and made his way from the office leaving the door open behind him.
Oliver frowned, watching the man fully retreat before he hollered for his secretary. Annabeth watched Jack walk to the elevator with a grin on his face before moving quickly into the room with a frown. Oliver did not sound happy.
“Yes, Mr. Queen?”
"Anna I need you to get a hold of every paper in the state, and please cancel all my meetings," Oliver exhaled slowly and returned to his chair. "Apparently I need to do some damage control." She swallowed hard and nodded.
“Of course, consider it done. Anything else?”
"Yeah," Oliver lifted the documents and held them out to her. "Shred these please." Her hands closed around the papers.
“Not a problem.” She headed towards the door and paused briefly before turning to face Oliver. She pursed her lips and then spoke hesitantly.
“I hope I’m not over stepping my bounds Mr. Queen, but for what it’s worth…I think your wife is a wonderful woman…and she seems to make you quite happy. I’m sorry other people can’t see that, but I’m sure everything will work out.” She gave him a tight smile and started to make her way back to her desk to start calling the local papers.
"Anna," Oliver stopped her, and gave her a small smile. "Thank you."
Chloe shifted along the computer station as she moved between monitors. Getting used to the new setup was taking a little time, but she didn’t mind too much since it was giving her something to do. She paused glancing at her cell phone and biting her lip lightly.
She sighed and pressed a few buttons on one of the computer screens bringing up the call feature before plugging in Lois’s number. She’d been busy lately and apparently so had Lois because she hadn’t talked to her cousin in a while and for some reason she was sorely missing their banter lately.
She multi-tasked, going back to decoding some files for Victor while a ring sounded through the computer speakers as she waited for Lois to answer. "Lois Lane," cheered the voice on the other end of the phone. "Is this my beautiful and sorely missed cousin? Because I think this is a Star City area code I see..."
A grin broke out on Chloe’s face as she chuckled. “It most certainly is…how are you Lo’? I feel like we haven’t talked in weeks.”
"Other than missing you terribly?--I'm doing alright," Lois smiled as she reached for her snacks in her desk drawer. "So how are you? How awesome is the Queen manor? Think you're adapting to its forty some rooms okay?" She exaggerated slightly.
Chloe smiled at her cousin’s enthusiasm. “The manor is gorgeous and way too big,” she chuckled, “But really pretty.” The smile left Chloe’s face as she bit her bottom lip and pressed a few buttons. “I’m adjusting good…Oliver’s been amazing and he’s ridiculously perfect, though that’s not really surprising…and Mia seems to like it...and the guy next door.”
Chloe plopped down in one of the chairs and glanced at the screen even though nothing was there but work, her voice light, but not nearly as excited as Lois’s. “Everything’s going great…how are things in Metropolis?”
Chloe toyed with a pen as she leaned back in her chair. "Nothing new here, Smallville, of course, ran off to do something real quick, some emergency or other... So I'm writing our article, what else is new?"
Lois popped a cheeto in her mouth chewing and swallowing before speaking again, "You sure you're okay? You don't sound like the happy little wife."
Chloe laughed lightly, but her smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Yeah, no I’m definitely fine…and just because I’m married now Lois doesn’t mean you need to refer to me as 'a little wife'…god the next thing you know I won’t even have a name anymore…it’ll just be ‘oh yeah that’s Oliver Queens wife’…”
Oliver had been on his way up to run interference with Chloe and talk to her about the article before she got blindsided when the story was released. He had done his best at damage control, and the Star City Gazette, being one of the more respectable papers, had at least agreed to not write the scandalous fiction, not wanting to be liable.
But Oliver had promised their top reporter an interview with him and Chloe in exchange, telling their story from their meeting, growing friendship, to love.
He felt it was a small price to pay to clear his wife's name from the awful lies that were bound to spread. And while he couldn't stop people from thinking and speculating what they wanted, he could let them read the truth. Oliver paused just outside the doorway, catching the end of Chloe's sentence and taking a step back into the shadows.
"Uh oh," Lois's voice came over the speaker. "Trouble in paradise? What's wrong? At least the tabloids have left you alone." There was a shuffling of papers, "Well, except for this cute and harmless photo of you two furniture shopping...Cute top by the way."
Chloe smiled, "Thanks I actually think that's my new favorite top and no Lois there's no trouble in paradise. Oliver's amazing...and he's so patient with me and he's just been so great..."
She let out a heavy sigh shifting in her chair, "Anything I tell you is strictly confidential right? Just between cousins?"
Oliver's stomach turned, feeling guilty over continuing to listen to what was now, obviously an intended private conversation between his wife and her cousin.
"Absolutely," Lois sat up in her chair, straightening her back. "Cross my heart."
"I miss you...and I miss my Watchtower and I even miss Clark rushing in while I'm in the middle of things. I dunno I guess I'm just feeling a little homesick. I mean Star City is beautiful...and Oliver's here so it obviously beats out Metropolis by far, but I just feel like I don't fit here...and it's completely my fault."
She cleared her throat as she stood before starting to pace, heels clicking on the floor. "Why didn't you tell me I was a horrible girlfriend Lois? I mean Oliver has this whole life out here and I never even tried to be a part of it."
She grunted as she spoke to the computer monitors. "And yet Oliver managed to insert himself in my life in a way that quite literally makes it impossible for me to be without him. Do you know there’s a women here who practically raised him after his parents died and I just met her?"
Chloe’s shoulders deflated, "I just...I should have known and I feel bad...I have no one here to talk to about it and I don't know how to be a wife...I'm trying but seriously my confidence is waning and I don't think there's one person out here who thinks I make a good wife for Oliver except Oliver…well and maybe Maggie she was really sweet. But other than that...not even his company thinks I'm good enough...what if they're right?"
Oliver inhaled sharply, not realizing how hard the move still was on Chloe. He had been an idiot thinking things were instantly going great...
"Whoa, whoa, whoa...Slow down their kiddo," Lois tried to get Chloe to breathe from her end of the phone. "First off, his company doesn't know what's best for Oliver. They know his business world, not his personal life, and they most certainly don't know what he needs."
She paused until she realized Chloe wasn't interrupting. "Second, since when does Chloe Sullivan allow someone to make her feel inferior? Oliver loves you, and this Maggie who helped raise him, if they think you're a good wife for him, those should be the only two people whose opinions matter."
She snorted, "Except me of course. I matter too, and I think the two of you are perfect together." Lois smiled into her phone, "Seriously Chloe, you two were meant to be where you are. Don't doubt that, I need to see you two make beautiful blond babies together so that I can spoil them."
Chloe groaned, "Why does everyone keep trying to knock me up? Don't you think it would be a good idea to focus on helping me stop having nervous breakdowns about my marriage before you have me spawning the next generation of Queens?"
Chloe dropped back into her chair as she pouted, "And I know Ollie loves me and trust me when I say if I didn't love him there's no way I would be here right now...I would have run after Vegas...but I dunno. I guess all the doubts bottling up and not having anyone to talk to about them is getting to me. It's making me unsure...not about him, but about me.”
She groaned, "God I sound so needy do you hear this? I'm whining. And you're right...Chloe Sullivan doesn't let anyone make her feel inferior...but Chloe Queen has no clue what she's doing. I just wish you were out here to give me a kick in the ass when I need one. It would be nice to know there's one person on my side..."
"But you do have someone in your corner, Chloe," Lois's voice echoed over the speaker. "You have your husband, and really, I think you should try sharing your feelings with him. Chloe Queen is still the same person that Chloe Sullivan was...Only Chloe Queen has a hunky, supportive husband, and a nicer checkbook to go shopping with."
Chloe let out a short chuckle, “Oh yeah that’s what I need…to be labeled as a tramp of a wife who’s spending all my hunky husband’s money…I’ll pass…besides you know me I don’t feel the need to shop for no reason like you.”
She leaned back in her chair and let out yet another sigh, “But on a serious note Lois…Oliver has been working hard lately to make sure everything is perfect. He’s bent over backwards to make me feel comfortable and to run interference with the press and his company and everything else…”
She paused before speaking quietly, “The last thing he needs to hear is that I’m having doubts. He’ll feel like he pushed me into moving here and it will make him feel bad and that isn’t what I want.”
Oliver swallowed as he leaned against the wall for support, he felt so incredibly selfish for not realizing sooner that their wonderful life wasn't so wonderful to Chloe.
"Then tell him that part too," Lois let out a sigh. "Chloe, you're in a marriage, and for better or worse, you have to be able to talk to each other about these things." She took a deep breath before continuing, "If you don't, your self-doubt about all this will silently hurt both you and Oliver. He knows you better than anyone Chloe, he's going to know when you're putting up a front and he's going to think it’s all his fault. Spare him that and try to work it out together."
Chloe swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded even though Lois couldn’t see her, “I know you’re right…I need to talk to him…and I will as soon as I find the right time. I just…god I’m scared Lois. I love Oliver more than I’ve ever loved anyone…I didn’t even think it was possible to love one person so much…and I don’t want to disappoint him. I don’t want him to feel like any of this is his fault because it’s not…for once this is all on me.”
She glanced at one of the screens that was blinking and typed in a few codes to bypass a security wall she was trying to hack before continuing.
“Any other person would be blissfully happy right now. I’m married to this amazing guy…who as you pointed out earlier is as hunky as they come…we have this crazy big house that I still manage to get lost in…don’t even get me started on how I accidently locked myself out the other night…I have everything I could possibly ask for…and yet I’m sitting here complaining to you. I sure take the cake as most ungrateful person ever.”
"I wouldn't say ungrateful," Lois chimed in. "More like confused. You're Alice, and this is a totally different Wonderland for you..."
A small smile touched her lips and pressed into her phone, "You don't need to be scared; Oliver loves you and understands you better than you do yourself I think. It'll all work out, you'll see." Her smile widened into a grin, "And go give his company hell, kiddo. No one tries to make a Sullivan-Lane woman feel inferior."
Chloe let out a real laugh, her smile stretching across her face. “You’re right. Who cares if a bunch of stuffy old men don’t like me…How many people have disliked us over the years? I’ve never needed anyone’s approval and I sure as hell don’t need it now.”
Chloe smirked and shook her head, “Thanks Lo’…I needed that…so favorite cousin of mine any chance I might be able to get you to come visit me? I’ll give you a shiny nickle…regardless of having Oliver around I can’t talk to him about everything. I still need my girl talk…so I can gush about his sexiness without giving him a bigger head then he already has.”
Lois wrinkled her nose, "I don't really need to hear about his sexiness... Thanks." She let out a small chuckle, "I'll try to get out there and visit, after I know your communication skills between you and your husband have improved."
Chloe pouted, “Hey I’ve had to listen to your random stories about all kinds of crazy crap, plus we always do girl talk…and that’s blackmail…Lois…I’m your cousin…I’m calling you and telling you I need reinforcements and you’re saying no? That hurts…and must you keep saying husband like that? Can’t you just call him Oliver?”
"Sorry cuz, I can't be your crutch," Lois popped another cheeto into her mouth, and her voice was followed by a few moments of crunching.
"And, husband, husband, husband! Seriously, you need to face that fact real quick. Cause if you can't listen to people calling him your husband, how are they going to see you as his wife?" There was a slight pause and Lois rolled her eyes instinctively, "And don't pout, I'll be there when I get the chance. In the mean time, go get your boxing gloves."
Chloe rolled her eyes, “You know what I changed my mind. You aren’t my favorite cousin anymore. I’m trading you in for Lucy. And I’ll remember that when you marry Clark…now I’m sure you need to finish your lunch and I have a list of things I need to get back to doing so I’ll just let you go…I guess I’ll see you whenever.”
"Oh please, Lucy is too busy partying to even lend an ear..." Lois snorted again. "And you and Oliver are still in your honeymoon phase--I'm sure the last thing he wants, after Mia returns to school, is another cock-block."
She tapped her fingers against her desk when Chloe didn't say anything, "And please just take my advice, okay? I love and miss you and promise to visit when it’s a good time for both of us."
Chloe snorted, “That’s probably the only thing my husband can’t complain about. Even with Mia in the house he get’s constant sex…you think just because there are people around I’m going to deny myself? Please I don’t love you guys that much. And I said I would talk to him okay? Just…leave it alone. Thanks for listening I’m fine now…”
She glanced at the clock and groaned, “I really do have to go I’ve got a ton of stuff to do and it’s later than I thought. Give me a call soon okay?”
"You can't ask for my advice and tell me to leave it alone." Lois opened her mouth to argue, but decided against it, "And alright, I have to go too. Take care, love you."
“Love you too…bye Lo’.”
Chloe clicked the button and let out a heavy breath. She knew Lois was right and she needed to talk to Oliver, but she just wasn’t sure how to do it yet. There was a beep and she turned to the screen and smiled. At least one thing never changed.
The team always needed her for something which always took up a good amount of her time.
She lifted her ear piece off the desk and placed it in her ear. “Watchtower online, you’re linked up Impulse, what do you need?”
“Hey Chloelicious? How you enjoyin’ that California weather?”
She chuckled lightly, “It’s beautiful…did you need something?”
“Yeah…I’m sending you some files from the recon mission I just ran…I should be back in California in two days…I’m taking the civilian route home. And I might have picked up something sweet from Switzerland for you gorgeous.”
Chloe shook her head, “Watch it Impulse I’m a married woman…I don’t think my husband would like me taking gifts from other men.”
Chloe grinned, “I’m sure he’d make an exception just this once.”
Bart laughed and sent the files through. Two minutes later Chloe had everything up on screen. “I’ll organize and decrypt the data and we’ll go over it in the meeting at the end of the week.”
“Thanks hot stuff…adios senorita. Impulse out.”
Chloe took her ear piece out, smile still on her face as she walked across the room towards the kitchen and started a new pot of coffee. Oliver wasn't sure how long he had remained hidden in his spot after Chloe had hung up with Lois...But he knew he wasn't moving until he could walk into Watchtower without looking like he had just had his heart ripped out.
He knew Chloe loved him. She had told Lois the depth of her for him, and while he had found it reassuring, the problem was that she thought she wasn't ready to be married, to be his wife. And he had to face the fact that she may never be ready.
Swallowing his fear, Oliver sighed and walked through the main hall and headed toward the kitchen when he smelled the scent of fresh coffee. He stopped when he came to stand behind her and spoke softly, "Hey."
She turned surprise coloring her features before a genuine smile broke out on her face. She moved in wrapping her arms around his neck. “Hey you, what are you doing here? Not that I’m complaining, but I thought you had meetings all day?”
He gave her a small smile, "Had to cancel them, something more important came up."
She grinned placing a kiss against his jaw. The coffee maker beeped and she moved out of his arms, turning her back to him as she got a mug ready. "Like spending time with your favorite blonde? Do you want some?"
"No thank you," his eyes followed her as she moved to fix her coffee. "I actually need to talk to you about something." Oliver bit the inside of his cheek, "Jack Wilson came by my office today..."
She took a deep breath and turned to face him coffee in hand a tight smile on her face, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. “If it isn’t my favorite board member…what’d he want?”
She motioned for him to follow her back into the main room where the computers were set up. She put her coffee down and typed in a couple of codes before glancing at him briefly eyebrow raised in question.
Oliver pursed his lips, "You might want to sit down."
Chloe paused turning around at the tone of his voice. She took one look at his face and any of the good mood she had leftover from her conversation with Lois and Bart was gone. She pursed her lips, brows furrowed, worry in her eyes “What’s going on? Is everyone okay?”
"Yeah, everyone's fine. This is more of a..." His eyes fell to the floor, "You and me kind of thing."
Chloe lowered herself slowly to her chair, her stomach tightening as he looked away from her. The fact that he had cancelled all his meetings to come talk her about their relationship wasn’t a good sign.
“Okay…” She hesitated before continuing, “Did I do something to upset you?”
Oliver reached for her hand and took it in his, "No, not at all." He took a deep breath and took the seat next to her, "Jack came by my office today to give me the heads up on an article about to go to print about you and me."
His eyes drifted down to their joined hands, watching his thumb stroke the back of her hand for a few minutes before he sought out her gaze again, "The press is printing a story about you and your marriage to Jimmy..."
Chloe froze, her body tensing as a thousand scenarios ran through her head about why they would possibly be doing that. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips as she met his gaze, the look in her eyes slightly shuttered. “Why?”
"To paint you as a villain...With this being your second marriage, and my first..." He sighed and ran his other hand through his hair, "I've tried to do damage control, and stop all the articles, but I could only get a few to agree not to run with it and print the story."
He bit his lip, unsure how she would take the next news he was about to share, "And in exchange, I agreed for the Star City Gazette to interview us, about how we met, our friendship and how it turned into more..."
Oliver stared at her sincerely, "I am so sorry, Chloe. But there wasn't much else I could do." Chloe was quiet for a minute. She was doing her best to stay calm she knew how hard Oliver was trying.
Everything inside of her was telling her to run for the hills…that she couldn’t do this…that this wasn’t her life, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave.
She loved Oliver and she promised she’d try. This was just another obstacle…she could do this. And maybe if she kept telling herself that eventually it would be true. She didn’t speak until she knew her voice would be steady and nodded.
“Thank you…for telling me and for trying. It’s appreciated. And the article for the Gazette is fine…just tell me when and I’ll add it to my schedule.”
She gave him a small smile, “Is that why you came by?”
"We're married," his finger traced over her ring coincidentally at his words. "It's my job to protect you." Leaning in, he placed a soft kiss to her temple, "The interview is scheduled for tomorrow...Sorry for the short notice but the papers are going to release the trash tomorrow and the Gazette agreed to wait until our interview was done before they'd print their paper."
He unlaced his hand from hers, drawing his arm around her back as he massaged her neck and shoulders, "This way we have the truth out roughly at the same time."
He turned and gave her a small smile, "Since I've had an awful day though, and I'm already here... What would you say if I asked you to lunch, and to spend the rest of the day with me?"
She opened her mouth and shut it quickly, “How about we compromise and order lunch for here? I’ve really got a lot of crap to do…besides…I’m not in the mood to go out. But on the plus side now that you’re here I can show you what I’ve been working on for the fundraiser…I could use your opinion on some things.”
She motioned to the computer screens where one was linking up with Justice League stuff, the other had all kinda of codes on it, and the last one was filled with websites full of color patters and center pieces.
He followed her over to the computers, glancing at the images on the screen as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Can I just say how wonderful I think you are for helping plan this?"
His eyes softened as he kissed her lips gingerly, "Okay, so show me how you envision it."
Chloe returned his kiss and shrugged. At this point thank god she had something to occupy her time with or she'd be going out of her mind.
"It's not a big deal...and you absolutely don't get a preview. But I don't want to pick a color scheme you don't like."
She pointed towards the screen, "So you have a choice of these three colors here and these two center piece designs."
"Hm..." He studied the screens for a few moments before reaching a decision, "I like the green and silver scheme, and the star center piece." Oliver turned to her with a smirk on his face, "But I'm sure you already knew that."
She gave him an amused sigh, "Yes...well I was hoping you'd branch out, but I suppose that's not a horrible color scheme. Oh, by the way tell Cynthia her information was very informative and I went with the companies she suggested."
She pushed a few buttons sending a message to the company before closing out the window and moving to the next monitor. Chloe glanced at her email for the confirmation before letting out a long sigh and pinching the bridge of her nose.
She turned away from the screen and towards Oliver, voice light but the smile she gave him didn't reach her eyes. "I'm gonna go get the take out menus for lunch. I'll be right back."
Oliver frowned as she turned away from him, inhaling and feeling a heavy uncomfortable pressure in his chest, "You know what, I'm just going to head back to work, try and salvage the day." He headed for the door as fast as he could without drawing attention to his sudden rushed behavior, "You should call Mia and see if she wants to have lunch." He gave her a bittersweet smile before ducking out, "I'll see you at home."
Chloe frowned, “Ollie wait…” but he was already gone. Something wasn’t right and she had a feeling that whatever it was, she was at fault. He wasn’t having a good day, he’d said as much…She let out a breath and glanced around Watchtower an idea forming in her head.
She moved to her desk and picked up her cell phone dialing Mia’s number. Three rings later she picked up, “Hey Chloe…what’s up?”
“Are you home?”
Chloe smiled, “Do you think you can do me a favor?”
Mia sat up on the couch putting her glass of water on the table as she held the phone to her ear. “Sure.”
“I need you to go to the grocery store and pick up a few things. I’ll email you a list, I’m gonna be home in about twenty minutes. If you could run out before than I’d be your best friend.”
The teenager chuckled as she stood, turning the TV off and looking around for a spare set of keys, “Sure I’ll wait for your email then head out.”
Chloe’s voice was soft, “Thanks Mia.”
She frowned at the older woman’s tone and paused, “Is everything okay Chloe?”
“Yea…everything’s fine. I’ll see you at home in a bit.” They said their goodbyes and Chloe hung up immediately going to the computer and sending Mia a list of the things she needed. She switched Watchtower to mobile mode, grabbed her laptop and keys and headed out. She was having a bad day, but so was Oliver and maybe making his day better would make hers a little better too.
Oliver shoved his key into the lock, turning it and opening the door before walking in, and closing it behind him with a sigh. After leaving watchtower, he had called Anna from his cell phone and asked her to reschedule some of his meetings, and he managed to at least keep one meeting for the day.
It wasn't until four unfortunately, so he had been held up in his office, neglecting his work as he stared at a picture frame encasing his parents wedding photo. His mind had wandered all over the place, his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as his eyes started to sting.
He hadn't been able to stop himself from thinking that if his parents had lived, his father would be able to offer him advice on how to save his marriage. Oliver had been so young when they were taken from him; neither his father, nor his mother had even tried to give him advice on girls.
And Maggie's advice had always been 'treat females with respect' while at the same time, be careful of his decisions and the motives of the women he chose to hang around. He had reached for his phone earlier that day to call and ask Maggie for advice, when Anna had stepped into his office, informing him his four o'clock meeting with the advertising company they had hired had just arrived.
The presentation had lasted longer than he had expected, as he was just now getting home close to seven. His eyes glanced around the dark rooms, and dimly lit hallways, and he guessed with the quiet silence that greeted him, he was home alone.
Which made sense, Mia had probably stuck around watchtower after lunch with Chloe, and Chloe probably got caught up in the watchtower upgrades.
He shook his head forcing himself to acknowledge that with the way she had been distancing herself and obviously avoiding him, there was a possibility she wouldn't be home till after nine, and he wondered why he even bothered to try and convince himself otherwise.
Oliver let out another breath, and headed for the kitchen. His throat was feeling constricted, and he thought a glass of water might help while he looked over some takeout menus.
He crossed the hardwood floors slowly, passing under the archway into their dining room on the way to the kitchen when he froze, his eyes falling on the candlelit table set for two with a simple white china holding his favorite dinner meal that smelled fresh and warm as if it had just been placed out.
His heart swelled and he instantly lifted his gaze to see his wife standing in the entree way between the kitchen and dining room. Chloe gave him a small smile as she leaned against the side of the doorframe.
When Chloe had come home from Watchtower she had changed into a simple deep green t-shirt dress with a black belt around her waist and Mia had helped her straighten up and make dinner. Spending time with Mia had been nice and was able to calm her down slightly.
When dinner was done Mia had taken her cue and went out to go see a movie with Dinah and AC who had just gotten back from a mission a few days before. She tilted her head to the side as her bare feet shifted on the wooden floor.
Her tone was reprimanding, but her expression was warm when she spoke. “You bailed on me for lunch…but I’ve decided to forgive you because you said you were having a bad day…thought maybe a little dinner for two might make you feel better.”
A natural smile curled onto his lips, "This is a nice surprise." His eyes drifted back over the table, traveling over every detail before returning to her, "I think I love being married to you," he grinned. She smiled her face turning playful.
“I am kinda awesome aren’t I?” She couldn’t keep a straight face though and she chuckled before closing the distance between them and moving her hands under his suit jacket and around him as she leaned up on her toes pressing a light kiss against his lips before deepening it, only pulling back when they both needed air.
She closed her eyes and leaned against him as she spoke softly, “I needed that…I’m sorry…about earlier. I know something I did must have made you rush out of Watchtower…I’m not sure what it was, but either way I’m sorry. I just…”
She pursed her lips together before moving back so she could look in his eyes. “I thought the papers had finally given up the chase…everything that happened with Jimmy…that’s still not something I like talking or thinking about, but its fine.”
She rubbed his arm lightly before glancing down and unbuttoning his suit jacket before tugging on it and helping him take it off. “On a more positive note I might have crashed a few severs today…and possibly hacked into a few computers effectively deleting certain stories from people’s folders…I sort of love how everything is done electronically today…I doubt I got them all but it was worth a shot.” She shrugged as she tossed his jacket aside and pulled him into the dining room.
Oliver nodded before wrapping his arms around her and tucking her head under his chin as pulled her in for a hug, "I'm sorry I left like that..." He exhaled slowly.
"I wish I could make the tabloids and the press go away... Apparently you're better at it than I am," a small smirk touched his lips. "But they shouldn't matter, the only two people who should get to decide whether or not Oliver and Chloe Queen are happy, are Oliver and Chloe... Screw what everyone else thinks."
Chloe nodded as she glanced up at him her face softening, "You're not wrong."
A second later she made a face and snorted lightly, "With some of the garbage I read their lucky my moral compass is still mostly intact and I didn't take out their entire publication."
She smirked up at Oliver, mischief in her eyes, "If Star City doesn't watch out their gonna find out just how easily I can make them do my bidding with a few clicks of a button."
She took his hand guiding him to the table. “But if it ever comes to that you'll know because the whole damn city will be singing our praise."
He pulled out her chair for her, taking his seat beside her after she sat down, "Depending how dinner goes, I'll be singing your praise tonight." He flashed her a grin, "How long until Mia comes home?"
She shook her head good naturedly at him, "You doubt my culinary abilities? I haven't burnt down the kitchen yet Romeo."
She gave him a playful glare before leaning in and cupping his cheek as she placed a kiss on his lips. She pulled back, but kept a hand on his leg.
"Dinah and AC just took her to grab Japanese about twenty-five minutes ago and then I think they were gonna go see a late movie, so we've got a while."
Oliver picked up his fork and knife from the side of his plate and began cutting the chicken delicacy Chloe had cooked for him, "I confess, I've been hoping to persuade Mrs. Queen to go skinny-dipping with me, once we were alone..."
Chloe shifted pulling one leg underneath her on the chair and using her other one to nudge Oliver's leg with her bare foot.
She grinned as she took a bite of her chicken, "Well you know I have yet to use the pool...I've been meaning to though. I suppose I can let you tag along."
"I hope they're seeing a long movie," he pushed his fork toward the noodles. "Because we have to wait thirty-minutes before swimming now," he took a bite, his taste buds singing at the combination of the seasonings and oil on the buttered noodles. "This is delicious; I think you might have to cook for me again tomorrow."
She rolled her eyes and laughed, "We'll see." She poked at her chicken taking a few more bites before pausing. She gave him a sideways glance and hesitated briefly, tone soft.
"I missed this...you know? Just us," she glanced at her plate before continuing, "spending time together...no pressure... I feel like we rarely get that anymore...also Clark's birthday is coming up in a little over a month..."
She took a sip of her drink eyes still on her plate. "I thought maybe we could visit Metropolis for a day or two for the party I'm sure Lois is going to be throwing him...think you'll be able to swing it? I know things are kinda hectic here so if you can't that's fine...Clark's not really big on his birthday anyway."
She shrugged before twirling some noodles around her fork and pulling them into her mouth.
Oliver froze, halting the movement of his fork and knife that were cutting off another piece off from the chicken, "You can go...I think I'll honestly be too busy, and between both Jack and the board breathing down my neck right now, I don't think I should try to piss them off more."
His knife and fork resumed cutting as his eyes focused on his plate and the task at hand, "I'm sure Lois is dying to see you already, and I know Clark would be happy to have you there for his birthday."
She glanced at him and shook her head, "I don't want to go without you, its fine. I'll have his lazy but speed over to Watchtower so he can get his gift. It's not a big deal."
She gave him a small smile and stood kissing his cheek as she walked towards the kitchen. "I'm in the mood for some wine do you want some?"
"Sure." He smiled at her when she returned with the wine a few minutes later, taking his glass from her and taking a sip before setting it down, "It’s okay if you want to go without me, Chloe. The press should die down by then, and I know how much you miss home."
Chloe froze and glanced down at him, her grip on the wine glass tightening slightly. "Why would you say that?"
Oliver swallowed the tight lump in his throat before lifting his eyes to Chloe's and speaking barely above a whisper, "It's the truth isn't it?"
She sat down slowly and put her glass down as she studied his features. She had been so careful to hide her insecurities from him, and she was sure he hadn't known.
She replayed the last week in her head trying to figure out if she'd done anything that might have tipped him off, but she couldn't think of anything. And then it dawned on her the only time she ever mentioned missing home was when she was taking to Lois today.
She pursed her lips and frowned, voice tense. "Oliver...how long were you at Watchtower today before you came inside to talk to me?"
Oliver felt his stomach drop and he placed his fork and knife down, reaching for his wine and nearly downing half of it before setting it back down. "You probably should have updated watchtower's entrance sensors first, huh?"
She closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath. "Apparently I should have...didn't think I needed to....I'm sorry...I'm sorry you heard all of that...especially after you obviously had a bad morning..."
She glanced at him, eyes watery, jaw tight, "You shouldn't have been listening Oliver...there was a reason I was talking to Lois and not you, but I guess none of that really matters now though..."
She glanced down at her hands, voice quiet. "So go ahead...say whatever it is you need to say."
His jaw clenched, "Yeah ‘cause it was my intention to walk in on that." He threw his napkin on the table, "Ya know what--thanks for dinner the thought was nice." He pushed his chair back and stood from the table.
She glanced up at him, tears pooling in her eyes, "So what that's it? You hear something you don't like and now you run away? Jesus Oliver I've been doing the best I can! I'm sorry that's not good enough, though that seems to be a theme lately."
She pushed her chair back and stormed into the kitchen not making an effort to lower her voice. "I knew if I told you, you'd feel guilty, and you'd think you pushed me into this and then you'd have doubts....don't you get that? After everything you've done for me I didn't need you feeling bad because of me."
A few tears fell from her eyes as she looked away from him.
"I'm trying…so hard because I love you so much...but most people have time Oliver...they have an adjustment period. We went straight from dating to married. We never even talked about marriage...and I know that's because you were scared I would run."
Her eyes were burning and her throat was dry, but she needed to get this out, it had been eating away at her for weeks.
"If you had asked I would have been terrified, but I think I would have said yes because we could have been engaged for however long it took to get me comfortable with the idea...we could have gone through the pros and cons of living together and weaving our lives together at a normal pace..."
At this point she was crying freely, her emotions all over the place. "But we can't even have that adjustment period now because of all of them!" She motioned out the window at nothing.
"God forbid I look upset or we fight or we leave town without the other it's a huge deal and its splashed all over the papers for the whole world to see...all I need is time to adjust...to figure out how we do things from here on out and I can’t even get that...I wish it wasn't so hard for me I wish it could be perfect and I wasn't such a mess..."
She sobbed quietly, "I don't want to keep disappointing you Oliver...because if I do...what if you start believing what everyone is saying and you leave me? What would I do without you?"
She pressed a hand against her chest as her red glassy eyes met his, "The thought of having a life without you scares me more than being in this one...but I don't know what to do....I don't know how to make myself fit this role...I'm so overwhelmed....and confused and I'm just lost Ollie..."
Oliver took a step closer to her, "I would have preferred you had told me instead of talking to everyone else about it."
Chloe threw up her hands, "When did Lois become everyone else? She's the only person I've spoken to period.”
He shook his head as his eyes started to water even more, "I'm your husband, Chloe, but you can't even stand that word let alone share with me how you're really feeling."
He took a deep breath, "I would do anything for you--you know that... And I know you love me, but maybe you trying to fit into this role you have so many high expectations for isn't helping you because you don't want to be in this role."
He snagged the inside of his cheek between his teeth, "You never did, did you?" Chloe watched him closely and she could see the pain etched clearing into his features. This moment right here had been why she didn’t want to tell him.
“This," She pointed at him, "is why I didn't tell you...I didn't want to see that look on your face Oliver..." Her voice was barely a whisper, tears still making their way down her face, "I know you'd do anything for me...but you can't fix this...and I know you Oliver...I can already see you blaming yourself...feeling guilty saying to yourself you should have known or done something but that's just it. You've done..."
He watched as she attempted to compose herself, but he could see it wasn’t working and he wasn’t far behind her in being emotionally distraught. “It’s not that I can’t stand the word…it’s just I know we’re married Oliver…I don’t need people reminding me twenty times a day…this is a big step and I’m still trying to be okay with it and having people bombard me with oh your husband this, Mrs. Queen that….it’s overwhelming to me right now…”
She wrapped her arms around herself, words falling from her mouth quickly, “You being my husband doesn’t make me love you anymore than I did before…I love you more than I’ve ever loved another person…I don’t need a piece of paper or a title to prove that…”
She met his gaze and her chest actually hurt from looking at the amount of pain in his eyes, but she had to keep going. She had to be honest with him or they’d never be able to get past this. Her voice caught in her throat as she weighed her words carefully.
"And you're right I wasn't ready for it I...I wasn't expecting this role...and," she paused swallowing hard to moisten her throat, "...and if Vegas had never happened...it's possible I would have went on being perfectly content with where our relationship was...but that doesn't mean this can't work."
She wiped her face lightly to try and dry some of the tears, but they were just replaced with new ones. "Not everything in life is planned...we kind of took a sharp turn where I thought we were going straight...but I haven't given up hope that we'll find our way back...which is why I'm still here."
Oliver inhaled sharply as he tried to keep his tears from falling, "Do you want to go back to that other road?" He looked her in the eyes, "If that’s what you want...I--" He tried to shake his head to clear his vision, but it only seemed to get more blurry.
His words brought more tears to her eyes another small sob ripping from her throat as she leaned against the kitchen counter. He was still trying to fix things. "Oliver stop...please just stop trying to fix things..."
She shook her head, her breathing ragged from all the tears. "You wouldn't be able to go back...and you know you wouldn't...you expect me to be honest to tell you things...what about you? Don't you see the problem?...it's always been about what I wanted ever since we started this relationship...this is a perfect example of why I don't deserve you...you've always accommodated me Oliver and what have I done? Nothing. I am as horrible as they all make me out to be I can't even do this for you...I don't need you to fix everything! I need you to tell me what you want...how you're feeling...I need you to talk to me like you used to before all of this."
Her shoulders slumped eyes pleading with him, "I feel like ever since we got married all we do is walk on eggshells around each other and I miss the honesty we had...where we'd talk for hours at night about nothing and everything...I feel so far away and it only makes the anxiety over being married worse...talk to me without holding back because you're afraid I'll take off. I'm right here...I haven't left yet."
Oliver felt tears spill from his eyes, and he flinched as if they had pricked his skin, "Yet..." The word sounded as if it had been ripped from his throat.
And he suddenly remembered Jack's warning earlier that day, about how Chloe would end their marriage whether Oliver wanted it or not--whether he was prepared or not. And his chest burned at the evidence proving the man's words true.
Chloe took a step forward when she saw tears spill from his eyes, but paused a note of panic in her voice as she tried to make him understand.
"That's not how I meant it Ollie...I meant...after everything that's happened I haven't left yet...so why do you keep thinking I'm going to run away now? I wouldn't wait until we were thousands of miles away to run back home...if I wanted to leave I would have let you walk out the door that first morning you came home from Star City after the article with Cynthia..."
"Why? Chloe do you think I can't tell when you're keeping something from me?" Oliver stared at her as if she had just slapped him.
"What do you think you holding back from me does to my doubt?" He threw his arms in the air, "We could be in Metropolis or Star City, it doesn't matter! But when I feel you pulling away from me..."
Chloe bit her lip and nodded as she once again swiped at the tears on her face. She hadn't cried this much in a long time...she forget how incredibly exhausting it was. She glanced at him, eyes damp, voice hoarse. "You're right and I'm sorry…but there isn't anything left Oliver. You know everything now. What I'm afraid of...how I feel...so talk to me. Tell me what's going on in your head."
Oliver sighed, trying his best to ignore the tears stinging the corner of his eyes, "I'm sorry I ruined dinner... What you did tonight..." He gave her a small smile, "It really made me happy."
Chloe frowned for a second at his words before chuckling through her tears. She covered her mouth to try and keep the laughter at bay because she didn't want Oliver to think she was laughing at him, but she couldn't help it.
The noise bubbled over and fell from her lips and it was the most honest and happy sound she'd made in a while. When she calmed down there was a small grin on her face as she leaning against the counter, shaking her head, face softening. "I'm sorry...I just...It really doesn't take much to make you happy huh?"
Oliver stepped closer to her, circling one arm around her waist as he lifted his other hand to cup her jaw, his thumb darting over her cheeks to brush her tears away, "Only you."
Chloe melted into his arms turning her head to place a kiss against his thumb before glancing back at him her arms clutching his waist, eyes searching his. "Are we okay? Are we going to be able to make this work Ollie?"
His hand at her waist moved to rub her back soothingly, "Yes... But you have to stop trying to fit into everyone’s expectations for my wife."
He curled his fingers into her hair gently, "I fell in love with Chloe Sullivan... And that’s who I wanted to marry." He tilted her head back so she could look at him, "Having my last name isn't about you molding yourself to fit into it..."
He brushed his knuckles under her jaw gingerly, "It's about making my name mold into who you are."
Chloe stretched on her tippy toes and gripped his face pulling his head down to hers. She molded their lips together, not pulling away until her lungs burned for air. She wound one arm his neck, the other at his side as she pressed her forehead against his.
"I love you...and I'm sorry I've been so distant and crazy lately...I think we just need to take this one day at a time...and if there's something that's bothering me...I'll tell you, but only if you promise to do the same...whether or not you think it will upset me. I don't want you to hold back anymore...I'm not glass I won't break."
Oliver pressed his lips to hers, "I promise." His arms tightened around her and he bent his neck, his forehead placed to hers as his nose nuzzled hers, "Does this mean we get to try make-up sex?"
Chloe chuckled before a pout slipped onto her lips, "You act like we've never had make-up sex...and I thought we were having pool sex...remember...the pool? I was kinda looking forward to that..."
His fingers slipped down the curve of her back to the slope of her ass as his fingers pawed her gently, "Yeah, but we've never really actually fought before..." Oliver tilted his head, "However, how often is Mia not going to be home...Let's have pool sex."
She grinned and gave a little cheer, her other arm joining the one around his neck as she tightened her hold on him, "Exciting...and don't worry I'm sure you'll do something to irritate me again at some point...then we can have make-up sex. Now pick up your favorite blonde, which by the way in case you've forgotten is me, and bring us to the pool...please cause I'm lazy and you're all big and strong."
She leaned in her mouth against his ear, breath warm, "And maybe I kinda like having my legs wrapped around you...did I mention I might have forgotten to put on my panties? No? Opps..."
His hands dipped to her legs, and he hoisted her up, her legs wrapping around his waist as he carried her out the patio to the pool, "Well my favorite blond, sounds like you had dessert planned out as well..."
She nodded and let out a wistful sigh as she clenched her thighs around him before leaning in and speaking between small kisses against his jaw. "I did...sex on the dining room table...with whip cream and strawberries..."
Oliver groaned, "Now you're presenting me with a tough decision..."
She shook her head quickly. "No, no...focus. Pool. Sex. Dining room table sex can wait...pool sex must be had a night and look it's nighttime." She motioned around them with her hands before arching her body against him, smirking when he groaned. "Pool's closer..."
Oliver nodded quickly, "You're right." He set her down, ripping his shirt off in haste, a few scattered buttons falling into the pool accidentally. He then began shrugging his shirt off his shoulders and down his arms, "Hope you can breathe under water..."
Confusion crossed her face as she unbuckled her belt tossing it aside and pulled her dress over her head. "No one can breathe under water Ol..." Chloe didn't get chance to finish her sentence before he lifted her in his arms and tossed her into the pool, a small shout leaving her throat as he grinned and dove in after her.