Banner By: Kyra_and_Co
Prologue: Something I Can Never Have
‘Burden of Sacrifice’
“I feel the darkness blanket over me, Seems like forever I’ve been paralyzed, What is the reason you have come to beckon me. Take my hand…rescue me, Justify…set me free, Break me down…make it right. Burden of sacrifice.” –Full Blown Rose
It hadn’t taken Oliver long to make his way across town from the cemetery to the building in the center of town that Chloe was currently staying at, or at least he’s pretty sure that was where she was staying. Dread filled his body as he glanced at the large building in front of him.
He didn’t want to go inside, but he knew he had to. He knew she was there, where else would she be? Plus Dinah had sent him an email saying she and Bart dropped her off there several hours ago before letting him know she’d be going her own way for a bit.
Bart had said something along the same lines earlier before leaving Dinah at the tarmac and speeding off to locations unknown. The team was disbanding and honestly he couldn’t really blame them. Oliver took a deep breath and forced his feet to move forward, pushing open the door and making his way into the lobby.
The building was old, but you could tell from the structure that in its day it had beautiful. The floors were scratched and discolored with age, but he could see the slight shine of stone beneath all the grime. There was a small desk where a guard or lobby clerk should be sitting, but instead it was abandoned as was the rest of the building.
He wasn’t sure how Jimmy managed to purchase the property, but the land was a prime location and he was sure with its steady structure and old money feel it would be up for sale as soon as the real estate agents got word of his death.
There were several businesses Oliver was sure would love to get their hands on a building like this to remodel and use for offices. It was something he would have to look into. He might not be able to bring Jimmy back, but the least he could do was throw money at people so Chloe could keep the building even if he didn’t understand how she could stand to be there.
He pressed the button for the elevator and waited for the doors to slide open. He slipped inside slowly as he glanced apprehensively at the panel of numbers in front of him. He pressed the button for the top floor as the doors closed heavily trapping him inside the rectangular box.
Oliver watched as the numbers lit up and the closer he got to his destination the tighter his chest got. His throat closed up at the memories that swirled around in his head. Jimmy’s bloody body, Davis off to the side, dead eyes staring at nothing, Chloe kneeling in a pool of blood hands clutching her husband’s lifeless body to hers.
His hand shot out, palm flat against the cool metal as he sucked in several deep breaths willing the images to stop replaying in his mind like an old video and just go. The chime of the elevator startled him, eyes shooting open as the doors slid slowly out of his way.
Oliver stood there for several seconds before blinking a few times and stepping out of the elevator before it closed on him again. He swallowed heavily and made his way down the barely lit hallway towards the double doors at the end of the hall which were propped open signaling someone was there.
He could do this…he needed to do this. It was the last lose end to tie up before he left Metropolis without looking back. Oliver walked over the threshold and glanced around the room, a frown forming on his face at the lack of light. He cleared his throat, voice slightly hoarse as he called out into the empty room.
“Chloe…” He let her name hang in the air for a minute before he heard a noise at the top of the stairs and watched as a blonde head appeared from the doorway upstairs. She moved into his line of vision carrying a medium sized box, dressed all in black.
She clearly hadn’t changed since the funeral and briefly he wondered what she’d spent the last few hours doing. Chloe paused when the sound of her name finally traveled to her ears, most likely several seconds after it was spoken. She glanced up and saw Oliver standing on the ground floor, shifting from foot to foot as he attempted to send a smile her way.
She looked back at the box in her arms heartbeat picking up speed as her throat went dry. Chloe hadn’t spoken to Oliver since the day Jimmy was murdered. He had been the one to pull her away from his body, blood staining not only her clothes and hands, but his uniform.
She blinked away the images and took a step forward careful in her movements as she made her way slowly down the staircase. If Oliver was coming to see her now, there could only be one reason. He was leaving town…just like everyone else had.
Her chest tightened, as she came off the last step and placed the box down near the side of the stairs before straightening herself up and looking at the man in front of her. She nodded towards him. “Oliver…what can I do for you?”
His hand moved to the back of his neck as she continued to move around the room piling boxes next to each other. “Nothing, I wanted to come by, check on things. What are you doing?” Chloe kept her back towards him as she took a deep breath.
She didn’t know why he was making small talk in the end it didn’t change anything. He was leaving just like Clark had taken off and just like Dinah and Bart had too. Her heart constricted at the thought of being in Metropolis utterly alone with nothing and no one.
She hadn’t even begun to delve into thoughts of what she was going to do with her most recent discovery, right now she just needed to focus on getting through the next hour. When she placed the last box near her on the ground she stood, schooled her features and turned to face him while motioning to the stack near her.
“I’m trying to get some of my stuff together, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t come here to talk about boxes. So…why don’t you tell me whatever it is you want to say so you can go.” He frowned at her crossing his
arms over his chest as he gave her a wary look. “Something you want to get off your chest first?”
She rolled her eyes and walked past him towards the small table busying herself with some papers and envelopes, a bitter hint to her voice as she spoke. “No, I just don’t see why you feel the need for small talk when it’s obvious you came here to tell me you’re leaving. If you're looking to get out of Metropolis so bad don’t let me keep you. I wouldn’t want that private jet of yours to leave without you.”
He pursed his lips and glared at her back. Where did she get off being angry with him? A voice in the back of his head shouted ‘since you helped murder her husband’ but he ignored it. Being angry was easier then acknowledging the guilt that filled his chest.
He took two long strides until he was standing beside her, brows creased in anger as he spoke, voice hard and slightly mocking. “You know I don’t even know why I bothered to come here. It’s not like you care if I take off. You’ve obviously already moved on from needing me around and you don’t work for me anymore so it’s not like I need to check in.”
The reminder that he’d all but fired her sent a pang through her heart, but she pushed it to the back of her head. Chloe whirled around attempting to keep the hurt and anger off her face as she let the glacial look in her eyes bore into him. “Is that it? You done? Because you’re right this was a wasted trip on your part. You don’t deserve to be here…not after everything that happened…not after what you did.”
She pointed a finger at him, venom in her tone as a voice in the back of her head screamed at her to stop pushing the man in front of her away that he wasn’t really the person she was angry with, but she ignored it and powered on. “You don’t get to come in here like nothing happened and act like you and I are friends…like you and your team didn’t screw up!”
Oliver felt like he was being sucker punched at her words. Blaming himself was one thing, but hearing his fears vocalized knowing that she blamed him too was too much. He cracked, a storm brewing inside of him as he sent a scornful gaze her way.
“Oh me and my team huh? You mean the team you were a part of before you decided to abandon us and run away with the enemy? Is that the team you’re talking about? The team who tried to save you even when you tricked us to help Doomsday?” Chloe returned his glare fury finding its way into her veins as her voice grew louder cutting him off.
“Davis…not Doomsday…Davis. And I came back. I did what I needed to do to protect Clark…to protect you, the team and everyone else I cared about…what’s your excuse? Or are we just going to chalk it up to another rash decision for the playboy billionaire Oliver Queen?” Before he could answer she waved her hands and shook her head.
“You know what I’m not doing this with you…you want to leave fine I don’t need you here…run away from your problems Oliver…it’s what everyone seems to be doing lately.” She turned back around towards the table, but Oliver was far from finished. He reached an arm forward and shoved his hand across the table making the papers scatter across the floor.
Chloe tried to remain stoic, but his aggression had startled her and when she glanced back at his face she could see the muted furry there as he spoke, voice hard and slightly cold. “Where do you get off being so goddamn self-righteous…taking a page out of Clark’s book I see…What about you? You can’t possibly think you’re blameless.”
She shook her head and Oliver let out a bitter laugh. “Oh you’re far from innocent Chloe. You are just as much to blame for what went down here….you ran away with the monster who destroyed your wedding…you hid a murderous creature in your basement…you fed his addition Chloe…you betrayed all the people who care about you for that thing…who only wound up killing Jimmy in cold blood in the end leaving you with nothing…”
Deep down Oliver didn’t truly believe what he was saying, but he wanted to hurt her, wanted her to feel the gut wrenching pain of guilt that had been eating away at him since he walked through that door to find her cradling Jimmy’s bloody body in her arms.
He motioned around the empty room before continuing. “You should be happy. This is what you wanted isn’t it? You’re all alone now. You don’t need anyone right…you’re an expert at making decisions yourself and not listening to the advice people give you…well here you go. You got your wish…now you can do whatever the hell you want…we won’t interfere again.”
And as the words left his mouth his stomach sank regret pulling at him at the expression on the face of the blonde in front of him. She had paled slightly, tears pooling in her eyes as she stared at him guilt swarming in her glistening green orbs.
A sob tore from Chloe’s throat as she lashed out at Oliver, small fists balling up as she pounded on his chest, the damn breaking, tears coursing freely down her cheeks, her voice filling the room, emotion covering every word as her sobs echoed around him.
“I hate you…I hate you! Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I know this is all my fault?” Shock colored his features as she slammed another fist against him and he let her. Chloe’s arms felt heavy and when he didn’t push her back she let her hands fall as she stumbled back slightly one hand gripping her stomach as she met his eyes.
“I destroyed him…the only thing Jimmy got for loving me was death…everything I’ve done…every choice…every minute…it’s my fault…” another sob left her throat as she broke down, no longer able to keep quiet. No longer able to silence the insistent pounding at her skull that because she lead Jimmy on, because she brought him into this life, she was the one responsible for his untimely death.
Every lie she’d ever told, every time she told Jimmy she was in love with him when she knew she wasn’t, had brought her to this point. She was a murderer…there was blood on her hands and it made her physically sick.
Oliver opened and closed his mouth as he watched her break down in front of him. He couldn’t remember a time where Chloe wasn’t composed and in control and the sight he was now witnessing made him feel about ten inches tall. He had done that.
Jimmy had barely been buried for a day and he had managed to come in and destroy any semblance of control Chloe was holding onto. His throat constricted as she continued to cry, heaving sobs leaving her throat as she lost her breath from the severity of her emotions.
Remorse filled him as he swallowed heavily and took a few steps towards her hesitantly reaching out to her. She shoved at his hands a whispered ‘no’ leaving her throat, but he didn’t let that deter him. He wrapped his arms around her as she once again pushed at his chest shoving him slightly.
But minutes later there was a different kind of pressure against him as her small hands gripped his shirt clutching his body tightly as she buried her head into his chest. Oliver was wracked with guilt as he ran one hand up and down her back while whispering words of comfort to her trying to ease the ache he’d created inside the young woman in his arms.
“I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have said that…god I’m sorry Chloe…it’s gonna be okay…” He fumbled over his words, not used to being in this sort of position and not really sure what to do. He could hear her mumbling over and over again that he was right…it was her fault…she was alone and needed to deal with the consequences.
He frowned not able to understand much after that as he stood there, holding Chloe in his arms in the middle of the room that had turned their world upside down. Oliver wasn’t sure how long after that the tears finally stopped, but as he heard short sniffles and small gasps he gently moved back slightly attempting to get a look at her face.
When she felt him move away, the breath left her throat. He was leaving…this was it. His words reverberated through her head. Once he left she really would be all alone. He studied her puffy eyes and red nose as he spoke softly. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom and get you some tissues…”
He motioned behind her. “It’s that way right?” She nodded releasing his shirt and wiping her eyes. He walked around her calling over his shoulder that he’d be right back as he went in search of the bathroom. Oliver moved past the stairs and to the far left of the room was a small door.
He walked over, pushed open the door, his hand fumbling against the wall for a second before slipping the light switch on bathing the small bathroom in an artificial glow. He glanced around for tissues, but didn’t see any so when his eyes caught the toilet paper he bent down to pull some off the roll.
His hand was just reaching forward fingers closing over the soft paper when he caught sight of something in the garbage next to the toilet. He paused tilting his head to the side as he read the rectangular box. Oliver’s eyes widened, his heart pounding against his chest as he ripped off a piece of toilet paper, plopped down on the seat and slowly dipped his hand into the garbage moving things around until he found what he was looking for.
He held his breath as he carefully lifted the plastic stick out of the garbage with the piece of toilet paper he had torn off. The large red plus sign stared back at him and he could feel his eyes burning as he let out a long breath. Chloe was pregnant. Not only was he responsible for getting her husband killed, but he was responsible for making her child fatherless.
Oliver leaned back squeezing his eyes shut as his shoulders slumped. He could feel a tear slip down his cheek as he swallowed heavily. He knew what it was like to grow up without a Father, the damage it could do…did Chloe plan on keeping the baby and if she did how was she going to take care of it in her current state?
It was while he was sitting there feeling sorry for himself and ashamed that a thought occurred to him forcing him to open his eyes once again glancing at the test in his hand. All these years whenever things had gotten rough or he’d messed up, Oliver would take off, run from his problems.
It wasn’t something he was proud of, just something he was used to doing…a habit. If he left Metropolis now and never looked back, a new form of guilt would no doubt eat away at him and turn him back into the drunken womanizing playboy he once was.
But if he stayed in Metropolis…if he helped Chloe, made sure she and Jimmy’s baby were okay and taken care of then just maybe he’d be able to find redemption. A look of determination crossed Oliver’s face as he straightened his body.
He was staying in Metropolis. He would be there for Chloe and make sure he didn’t let her down again. Everyone else might be running away, but Oliver was staying put for once. He might not be able to fix what happened to Jimmy, but he could fix this. This would be his penance…his burden of sacrifice, he owed it to the man whose life was cut short because of his actions.
He stood quickly making sure to keep a tight grip on the test as he made his way back into the large room. Chloe heard him coming and she turned around about to thank him for the tissues when he held up the plastic stick, his eyes unreadable as he spoke. “Are you pregnant?”
Her face paled as she looked between him and the test, heart beating erratically in her chest as she tried to figure out what to say. It wasn’t any of his business…it didn’t involve him and yet the way he was looking at her, she just didn’t have the strength to lie anymore.
She was tired of being strong, of pretending she wasn’t slowly dying inside. Her voice was hoarse and if Oliver hadn’t been listening for it he would have missed it. “Yes.” He pursed his lips and nodded, not sure if he was expecting her to deny it or not.
“Okay…are you…do you know what you’re doing?” She frowned slightly and shrugged wrapping her arms around herself. “I don’t know what to do.” Silence stretched between them and as it grew thicker, Chloe grew more anxious, not sure why he was still standing there. She was just about to say something when Oliver’s voice broke the silence.
“Well…we’ll figure it out. We should make an appointment with Emil…get you looked at figure some things out while you decide what you want.” Chloe blinked not sure she heard him correctly and just like that her defensiveness was back. She crossed her arms over her chest and frowned.
“We? Oliver this isn’t your problem okay. I appreciate the concern, but I don’t need your pity…I can handle things besides you’re leaving town…look thanks for staying while I had my little mishap there, but I’m fine now. You can go, you don’t need to worry about me or my problem.”
Oliver’s brows furrowed, but he shook his head. That was just it, he couldn’t. “Not anymore I’m not, besides you were right…running back to Star City isn’t going to change what happened here. I don’t pity you Chloe and I’m sorry, but you’re not fine. I can help…I can be there…don’t push me away…let me be there for you…”
The pleading in his voice caught her by surprise and she studied him closely. Oliver’s offer could be the answer to her problems. It wasn’t easy for her to admit that she couldn't handle things on her own, but the truth was she was out of her element. If she was being practical at this point in her life, she just couldn’t do this by herself.
Oliver wanted to be the hero…he wanted to rescue her…make things right and as much as she didn’t want to depend on another person she wasn’t sure she’d be able to deny his request. Her soft voice broke the silence as glistening green eyes met deep brown. “Why?”
He licked his lips avoiding the real answer and giving her one that was no less true. “Because you can’t do this on your own…” They stood there like that, across from each other in some kind of silent battle of wits until Chloe finally swallowed her pride. “Okay.”
Oliver let out a relieved breath and as he gave her the smallest of smiles, he could feel it deep inside his chest, blooming, making him feel the slightest bit lighter than when he had arrived…hope and for now that was more than anything he could have asked for.
Chapter Two: I'm In Here