Banner By: Kyra_and_Co
Chapter Four: Breath
“I want and I need, as much as anybody. Sometimes I cry, but doesn't everybody. I have secrets, I have scars, as deep as anybody. I have fears no one hears, but don't tell anybody. Sometimes I lie, but doesn't everybody…Sometimes.” –Melanie Horsnell
Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose as the head of the board droned on and on about a charity ball that was coming up in a two weeks letting him know what a big deal it was and how it was important that he and Tess both be present to show a unified front to the investors.
All things that he already knew. He glanced at the clock and noticed it was close to noon and Oliver couldn’t be more excited to finally have a reason to wrap up the phone call with the talkative older man. “Mr. Philips I hate to interrupt you, but I really must cut this call short. I’ve got a prior engagement that I’m afraid can’t be rescheduled.”
He could hear the frown in the other man’s voice as he spoke. “Alright, but please remember to be prompt…” He opened his mouth to respond when a loud bang came from the other room and he glanced up and frowned. “I will…sorry I need to go.”
Before the man could get another word out Oliver disconnected the call, pushed away from his desk and stood. He moved out of the room brows furrowed as he walked down the hallway towards the noise. There was another loud bang followed by what sounded like a growl.
He paused in front of Chloe’s door, raised his hand and knocked. “Chloe…is everything alright in there?” He could hear her mumbling something, but couldn’t quite catch the words. It had been close to three weeks since the night he came home drunk and things between him and Chloe were finally starting to get a little more comfortable.
Sure they still had their moments where she was being stubborn or overly moody, but for the most part their fighting had cut down to four or five times a week, tops and for them that was good. He was knocked out of his thoughts as Chloe yanked open her bedroom door, voice angry.
“This is ridiculous…look at this…look.” Oliver paused not entirely sure what to do until she yelled again and he moved quickly into the room. He glanced around taking in the mess of clothes strewn over every piece of furniture including the floor. What in God’s name was she doing? It looked like a small tornado had hit.
His gaze finally moved from the floor to the irate blonde in front of him, his eyes widening at her lack of clothes. She stood there pencil skirt on, but unzipped and a blouse that was buttoned up to right under her breasts. His eyes dropped to the twin orbs in front of him, cleavage pooling over her bra. Jesus it looked like she gained a whole cup size.
“Oliver!” His head jerked up and he gave her a flustered look as he made sure to keep his eyes on her face while his hand went to the back of his neck as he spoke. “This is extremely uncomfortable.” She rolled her eyes and pointed to her stomach.
“I don’t fit into my clothes…look at this…nothing fits. I’m huge.” Oliver was completely lost. He had absolutely no idea how to handle this situation. Sure he and Chloe had gotten to know each other a little better in the past couple of weeks, but not well enough for him to be standing in a room with her while she was half clothed and losing her mind.
He pursed his lips as she tossed yet another blouse across the room. “Chloe…be reasonable, you aren’t huge…your stomach is barely noticeable…other assets on the other hand should probably be covered up before we leave the apartment.”
She turned and glared at the man standing across from her folding her arms over her chest which only made her breasts protrude further from her shirt making Oliver even more uncomfortable. He couldn’t help but glance at them, they were practically staring him in the face and yet it made him feel like some kind of pervert.
Her voice broke through his thoughts. “Forget it…I’m not going.” Oliver sighed. “You need to go…Emil is going to do another sonogram today…you’re about thirteen weeks along…you’ll be able to see the baby this time…you know without it looking like a tiny spec of nothing.”
She could feel her emotions overwhelming her and her eyes started to water. She glanced up at Oliver and saw his body tense further as he noticed the tears in her eyes. “Oh no…Chloe don’t cry…it’s fine…It’s not a big deal, you’re pregnant you’re supposed to…expand.”
That didn’t seem to help in the slightest. She let out a small sob her head dropping into her hands as she cried. Oliver groaned internally. Another thing she’d been doing lately, breaking out into random tears. Just the other day he had been watching TV and she came into the room for a minute and wound up crying at a credit card commercial.
It was seriously uncomfortable for him. Crying woman had always made him uneasy. He took a few hesitant steps in her direction kneeling in front of her and speaking softly. “Chloe…you don’t usually get so upset about clothes…is there maybe another reason you don’t want to go see Emil?”
Chloe sniffled slightly as she glanced up meeting his curious brown gaze. She wiped a hand under her eyes and bit her bottom lip. She had woken up in a foul mood that morning and going through her closet finding out most things didn’t fit her hadn’t made it any better.
But that wasn’t her real reason for being upset and the fact that Oliver wasn’t fooled by her outburst surprised her. They had been able to keep things surprisingly civil for the past couple of weeks and she was finally starting to get used to his presence in her life, not to say that they still didn’t fight almost daily, but there was a lot less anger behind it.
She swallowed heavily, voice quiet when she spoke. “He’s going to ask more questions that I don’t have the answers to…things I should know…” Oliver sighed and there it was, the real reason Chloe was acting like a wild banshee.
He motioned to the spot next to her on the bed. “Can I sit?” She shrugged head still down. “It’s your house.” He shifted and the bed dipped next to her as he sat down choosing his words carefully before he spoke. “I get that you feel bad for not knowing Jimmy the way you should have, but really when did you have time to get to know him?”
She glanced up and frowned at Oliver confusion filling her voice. “What do you mean?” He shrugged. “Well with everything that happened before you were dragged into the black creek facility, Brainiac pulling his possession thing and then Doomsday…when did you and Jimmy really have a chance to get to know each other?”
She gave Oliver a thoughtful look and pursed her lips. “Not often…” He nodded. “Exactly. You made do with what you had and learned what you could in the amount of time you were given…you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. At the risk of sounding mean…it’s not like it’s something that can be changed now.”
She winced and he immediately apologized, but she waved him off. “No, you’re right.” Silence settled around them and after a couple of minutes he nudged her lightly causing her to look at him. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t ask any more questions…and you…finish getting ready. Try wearing a shirt without buttons…that might help and where a pair of stretch pants.”
He stood slowly and gave her a small smile. “After the appointment we’ll go shopping…get you some things that fit right.” Chloe frowned. “No, absolutely not I won’t have you buying me a whole bunch of stuff.” Oliver rolled his eyes as he made his way back towards the doorway.
“Do you know how often we argue about money? You’re the only woman in the world who won’t let me shove money at you…it’s incredibly weird, please stop.” The frown on her face deepened. “Oliver I’m serious…it bothers me. I don’t like taking hand outs.”
He could feel another fight coming on so he grunted and decided to cut it off before it started. “Fine, whatever, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to finish up sending out a few emails and then we’ll head out.” She nodded and watched as he made his way out of the bedroom.
She let out a long breath. This would be the first day since they’d agreed to start over that they’d be spending the entire day in each other’s company. He had taken off of work because her appointment was in the middle of the day and even though she had taken Oliver’s advice and reenrolled at Met U last week classes didn’t start for another week or so.
She wondered if it was possible for the two of them to enjoy a day together with biting each other’s heads off. Oh well, it looked like she was about to find out.
Chloe sat on the examination table, fingers tapping lightly against the paper as Oliver leaned against the cabinets, one of the prenatal magazines open in his hands. He scrunched his nose as he spoke. “Did you know the baby is only 2.9 inches long?” He glanced at her stomach and arched an eyebrow. “I wonder what’s it’s doing in there. Do you think it just floats around?”
She gazed at Oliver amusement on her face. “Really? Sometimes I really don’t know about you Oliver. You’re exceptionally strange. Stop reading those magazines and go tell Emil to hurry up...I’m hungry.” He frowned. “Did you eat breakfast this morning? I didn’t see you eat.” She shook her head. “No, I was busy.” He gave her a reprimanding look. “Yeah wailing like a banshee about gaining a few pounds…I remember. Chloe you know what Emil said…it’s important for you to eat properly and take care of yourself. Skipping meals is not taking care of yourself.”
She sighed. “Would you stop lecturing me like I’m a child? And I did not wail like a banshee! You know what next time I just won’t let you in at all. I’ll handle it myself.” Oliver groaned. He just couldn’t win, this was getting all kinds of annoying.
He pushed away from the cabinets and spoke. “You know what I think I will find Emil…” and just as he was about to head out into the hall the door was pushed open and Emil walked in. He smiled at them, folder in hand as he spoke. “Oliver, Chloe, how are you two doing?”
They spoke in unison. “She’s driving me crazy.” “He’s being an ass.” then again. “No I’m not!” and again…"Stop doing that!” Chloe let out a frustrated growl and tossed a folded up piece of paper at Oliver’s head. It hit him square in the middle of the forehead and bounced off.
He glared in her direction and then turned to Emil. “Do you see what I mean?” Their friend stood in front of them pursing his lips to keep from laughing at their antics. “I see…moving on Chloe how are you feeling?” She shrugged. “Okay I guess.”
Emil nodded and marked something down on the chart. “Any new developments I should be aware of?” Oliver shook his head as Chloe spoke. “Actually I’ve been getting small pains in my stomach. They don’t last long, but they are sort of sharp.”
Emil nodded as he motioned for her to lay down. She did as asked while Oliver moved towards the side of the table. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have made the appointment sooner…I said I’d help…” Emil glanced at Oliver and placed a hand on his arm. “Relax.”
He moved back over to Chloe lifted her shirt and felt around her stomach for a couple of minutes before pausing over her abdomen. “Is the pain coming from here? Sometimes more of a throbbing than anything else?” She nodded and he smiled. “That’s perfectly normal. It’s called round ligament pain. It’s just your ligaments stretching out to make room for the baby. Nothing to be worried about.”
He glanced down at the rounding of her abdomen, a small potbelly giving a hint of a semi-curve to her flat stomach. “I can see you’re finally starting to show a little bit.” Oliver’s eyes widened as he glared at the dark haired man in front of him as he spoke, tone irritated. “Really? Why would you say that?”
Emil glanced up at Oliver before looking at Chloe who immediately pulled her shirt down. “It’s an observation and a good one at that.” He looked back at the blonde laying propped up on the table. “It’s important for the baby that you gain the weight you need to. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and you look lovely Chloe. You’re glowing.”
Some of the tension left her body and she gave the older man a warm smile. “Thanks Emil.” He nodded and moved over toward the sonogram machine. “This appointments going to be pretty short today. Just the sonogram and then a few more prenatal tests.”
She frowned glancing between him and Oliver. “Why, what are these for?” Emil gave her a tight smile. “Just to make sure everything is good…some genetic tests and what not.” She felt her blood run cold. Genetic tests, she hadn’t even thought about that. She’d been so distracted by everything else that she hadn’t even considered the possibility that her baby could be like her or her Mother.
Chloe’s heart sank and her thoughts were interrupted by a warm pressure on her hand. She blinked and glanced to her right taking note of how Oliver was nodding his head at what Emil said while his hand curled around hers. She swallowed heavily squeezing it lightly, and for the first time, she was glad Oliver was there with her.
Emil set up the machine, moved over to her once again lifting her shirt and squirted some gel on her stomach. Chloe shifted as the cold gel was spread around her abdomen with the small sonogram nozzle thing. He moved it around concentration on his face as he stared at the black and white screen.
A couple of minutes later his voice broke through the silence. “Okay…there we go. See there’s the head, and the body.” Chloe teared up at the image on the screen, it actually looked like a tiny baby now. That was her baby in there and suddenly she couldn’t remember wanting anything more than to meet her child.
She tugged on Oliver’s hand, which was still holding hers, lightly as she spoke voice barely a whisper. “Do you see?” He swallowed hard and nodded as he stared at the image of a tiny person on screen. He knew she was pregnant and sure he had a picture of her first sonogram stashed away in his draw to remind him why he was doing this…why he was helping her, but seeing an actual baby in this image just made it that much more real.
There was a tiny person inside Chloe and he couldn’t help but stare in awe. “Yeah…I see.” Emil watched the different emotions pass across both their faces before clearing his throat. “Would you like to hear the heartbeat?” Chloe’s head turned quickly in his direction. “Can we?”
He nodded and she glanced up at Oliver eyebrow raised. He nodded his head motioning for Emil to do his thing and he couldn’t help how a small part of him warmed at her including him. Oliver was knocked from his thoughts as the room was filled with a slow, steady rhythmic thumping.
Chloe could hear the sound surrounding her and a tear slid down her cheek. Knowing she was pregnant and actually hearing and seeing the proof were two very different experiences. She raised the hand Oliver wasn’t holding and wiped her tears away.
“That’s amazing…can I have another picture?” Emil opened his mouth, but before he could say anything Oliver cut in quickly. “Me too?” He nodded and moved over to the screen pressing a few buttons and capturing the black and white image of the baby on screen before shutting the machine off.
“I’ll let those print out while I grab the equipment I need to take some blood. Things are looking good Chloe, everything is progressing nicely. Keep taking care of yourself and eating right. Also you should probably go out get some new things to wear, clothes that are too tight around your stomach aren’t healthy for the baby.”
She sent a glare at Oliver, “Did you tell him to say that?” Oliver blinked and glanced down at the woman next to him brows furrowed. “When would I tell him that? You’ve been sitting next to me this whole time…” She let out a slight snort but turned back toward Emil. “I’m not letting him buy me clothes…”
He held his folder and gave her a confused look. “Okay? Oh another thing I wanted to mention is if you’re having trouble sleeping getting a pregnancy pillow might help and don’t be surprised if you’re feeling slightly more energetic in the next few weeks.”
She nodded and he told them he’d be right back as he made his way out of the exam room. It was only then that Chloe realized her hand was still holding Oliver’s. She slowly moved it away from him and he shifted back to his original position against the cabinets.
Silence once again enveloped the room neither one of them really sure what to say. Finally Oliver purse his lips and spoke. “I’m off of work the rest of the day…do you maybe want to grab lunch?” She seemed startled by his question, though she probably shouldn’t be.
“Lunch?” He laughed lightly and shook his head. “Yeah… you know that thing you eat between breakfast and dinner.” Chloe grinned and she tilted her head to the side. “On one condition.” He rolled his eyes resting his arms over his chest.
“You and your conditions I swear…well…what is it?” She motioned for him to give her a paper towel which he did and she spoke as she wiped the goo gently off her stomach. “I’m sort of tired…can we get take out and bring it back to the penthouse? I think I might be lazy and watch TV for the rest of the day.”
Oliver gave her an amused look as he took the balled up paper towel she handed him and tossed it into the garbage. “Don’t you have the life…that can be arranged. Maybe before we head back to the penthouse we can even check in on Watchtower…see how the renovations are coming.”
Her face lit up slightly and she nodded enthusiastically. “I haven’t been there in about a week, I wonder what they’ve managed to get done.” She shifted herself into a sitting position and Oliver nodded as he studied her. Her face was flush with color and the dark bags that had been there for weeks were finally starting to ease.
But the thing that was most noticeable to him at the moment was that the smile she’d given him when he mentioned Watchtower was genuine…the first honest smile she’d sent his way in a long time. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
The elevator chimed and Chloe made her way into the apartment first, mouth moving a mile a minute. “I really love the way the paint looks in the bedroom. I think it fits perfectly with the shape and size.” Oliver followed her off the elevator carrying the bag of food in one hand and a bag from the local Rite Aid down the street in the other.
They had picked up Italian food then swung by Watchtower to check on things and of course the minute they walked through the door everyone had dropped what they were doing in favor of saying hello to Chloe and seeing how she was feeling.
He didn’t know how she did it. It was safe to say they all liked her more than they liked him. After they had shown her some of the newest additions before they left. It was on the way home when she got a craving for Twizzlers and ice cream that had lead to the detour at Rite Aid. He placed the bags on the island and shrugged. “I still think the Scallion would have been nicer.”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course you do…it’s because it was green and you have this scary psychological obsession with green.” She moved around him to grab some plates and forks as he put the ice cream in the freezer and went back to taking out the food.
His voice was muted when he spoke. “It’s not a crazy obsession…it was my Father’s favorite color…” She paused for a second before taking a seat across from him and putting both plates down. Oliver rarely talked about his parents and the fact that he just brought them up surprised her. He pulled out some of the ziti and put it on both their plates before taking a slice of chicken parm and putting it over the ziti as she spoke.
“Sorry…I didn’t realize.” He shrugged and gave her one of the plates. “How could you have?” She poked around her food and when his voice broke through the silence she glanced up at him. “He used to read me The Adventures of Robin Hood and his Merry Men before bed at night…and somehow green was always just woven into my life. It’s a color I associate with happy memories, which you can probably understand is why I surround myself with it.”
Chloe swallowed heavily and nodded, voice soft. “Yeah…that makes sense.” She cut a piece of chicken and pulled into her mouth, the noises from the room seeming louder than they had earlier as they shared their meal in silence.
Oliver was kicking himself. What in the world had possessed him to share such an intimate detail of his life with her? He was pulled from his thoughts by Chloe’s quiet voice and when he looked at her she was glancing at her food as she addressed him.
“When I was little my Mother used to make up stories to tell me at bed time…and when I was old enough to understand the concept she would let me tell the story with her. We’d go back and forth until I was too tired to keep going…and eventually that turned into me writing stories for her to read to me…it was what originally turned me on to writing and later reporting. She was a big part of that aspect of my life.”
He was startled by her confession and he tilted his head to the side watching her even though she wouldn’t look up at him. “That sounds like a good memory to have…” She shrugged. “Yea…it is.” He nodded not sure what else to say. It was hard trying to get to know someone, especially in their type of situation.
He pulled a forkful of pasta into his mouth and swallowed before changing the subject and speaking. “Are you looking forward to going back to school next week?” She nodded and finally glanced up at him. “Yea, I’m actually kind of excited it’s been a long time…thanks again for helping me with that.”
He nodded. “It’s not a problem.” She bit her bottom lip feeling slightly lost. Though she and Oliver had spent time together in the last three weeks, they were both usually multi-tasking or she was running him through patrol. They didn’t have much time to just relax together and she wasn’t sure how to go about it.
“How’s work?” He looked up from his food surprised by her question. Chloe never seemed to really care about what he did with his time. He shifted on his feet as he spoke. “Not bad…busy and Tess has thankfully kept to her side of the company, which is nice.”
Chloe nodded. “I can imagine…you know I’m actually sort of surprised that she hasn’t attempted to get you to spill the details on Clark now that she knows his secret…” Her voice trailed off as Oliver moved towards the fridge and grabbed two bottles of water handing one to Chloe.
“Maybe she’s finally given up on finding out more about him…” They glanced at each other before chuckling lightly. When her laughter died down Chloe spoke. “Doubtful.” Oliver made a face and sighed. “You’re probably right, but what are you gonna do…it’s not like he’s around anyway…”
His voice trailed off at the hurt he saw cross Chloe’s face and he swore mentally for stating the obvious. He knew even though she didn’t say anything that Clark taking off without so much as a goodbye really hurt. “Chloe I’m sorry.” She pushed around the little bit of food left over on her plate.
“Stop apologizing Oliver…you’re right. He isn’t here…and I’ve got more important things to worry about then that anyway…” He studied the blonde in front of him and scratched the back of his neck as he spoke. “Feel like watching a movie?”
Chloe glanced up at him the pain on her face replaced with interest. “Really?” He nodded. “Yeah…why not?” Chloe pursed her lips trying to see if he was being serious or not. Usually when he was home he worked on his laptop or had a scotch and left the TV on the stock market channel or sports. He didn’t often include her in his plans.
“Well it’s just…you usually work and stuff so I wasn’t sure if you had stuff to do.” He shook his head as he lifted his empty plate and dropped it into the sink. “It’s three in the afternoon, there’s not really much to do…plus everyone needs a break once in a while. I’ve got a drawer full of movies in the living room if you want to grab one…I’ll take care of this stuff.”
She went to get up and paused for a second. “You sure you don’t need some help?” He waved her off. “I’m fine. She nodded and as she was walking into the living room she called out. “Bring in some ice cream and twizzlers…and don’t eat any!”
Oliver grinned to himself and shook his head. Well at least she was comfortable enough at this point to be giving him orders in his own home. He sighed as he brought her plate over to the sink and started washing them out. Sometimes he just didn’t understand that woman.
Oliver’s phone vibrated in the back of his pocket and he shifted quickly, but carefully so as not to wake the sleeping woman who’s head was currently resting on his shoulder. Thirty minutes into the movie Chloe had passed out. He lifted the phone, pressed the button and spoke in a whisper.
“Hello?” Tim frowned as he spoke in forced low voice. “Oliver is that you?” He smiled and glanced at Chloe before gently lifting her head off of him and putting a pillow under it and getting up. He walked down the hallway quietly. “Of course it’s Oliver who else would answer my phone and why are you whispering?”
Tim blinked as he straightened up in his desk chair and cleared his throat. “Sorry…you were whispering and it was an automatic response. I just wanted to let you know that the finalized paperwork for the building in the center of town came through. It’s officially yours.”
Oliver grinned. “I knew I could count of you Tim…can you fax the papers over to me?” Tim nodded even though Oliver couldn’t see him and took the folder over to the fax machine in his office. “Yes, I’ll do it now and you know…you could have waited to start the renovations until you were positive you had the building…”
He walked towards his home office a light chuckle leaving his throat as he turned on his fax machine. “Like I said I knew you wouldn’t let me down. I’ll add copies of the paperwork to my files at home.” Tim finished feeding the papers through before tacking on two extra forms at the end and speaking.
“Also I wanted to give you a heads up on something I found that seemed sort of strange to me. It looks like Luthor Corp purchased three abandoned warehouses. I’m sending you the information now.” Oliver frowned as he watched the papers go through.
“Okay Tim thanks…I’ll go over everything and we’ll talk at the office tomorrow okay?” He heard the shuffling of paper before the older man’s voice came through the line. “Sounds good Oliver. See you tomorrow.” Oliver disconnected the call and pulled the papers free of the machine as soon as it stopped signaling it was done.
He went straight to the papers that showed the new warehouses purchased and his face clouded over. Why was Tess buying up old warehouses? It didn’t make any sense. He let out a frustrated sigh, it looked like he was going to have to call the woman in question…
Chapter Six: Just Tonight