Banner By: Kyra_and_Co
Chapter Six: Just Tonight
‘Ashes and Wine’
“Is there a chance, a fragment of light. At the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight? Is there a chance you may change your mind, Or are we ashes and wine?” –A Fine Frenzy
Chloe stood at the computer console eyes squinting, hands flying against the keyboard as she tried to track the pattern of quick movements across the globe. It had been one week since she moved out of the penthouse and back into the newly renovated Watchtower.
She hadn’t seen Oliver since she left, though he called or emailed daily to check in, making sure she was ‘taking care of herself’ as per Emil’s orders because god forbid he actually call just to say hello to her, not that it actually mattered.
She let out a small sigh as she brought the mug of tea to her lips, taking a quick sip before shifting to the monitor on her left and glancing at the progress of the facial recognition software running Lois’s photo. She had decided that in order to get an accurate reading, she was going to match Lois to every face in Metropolis.
If that didn’t work she’d expand the search throughout Kansas and if she still didn’t get any hits she’d search nationwide. One way or another she was going to find her cousin. Chloe took a few steps to the right passing the monitor in the middle that she’d just been working on and heading to the one next to it.
She pushed a few buttons as she answered a couple of questions for an online quiz for class. She was nothing if not a champion multi-tasker. Her stomach growled and she glanced down at the small bulge in her shirt before looking at the clock.
Chloe groaned. Did she forget to feed herself again? She shook her head as she moved towards the kitchen pulling open the small fridge as she glanced inside for something to munch on. Without Oliver around she had a habit of getting lost in her work and occasionally forgetting to take food breaks.
She pushed things aside and grabbed some ice tea and the leftover Chinese food from the other day. She dumped it out onto a plate and popped it in the microwave. As she was waiting for her food to heat up she glanced around the room.
Watchtower was definitely nice and the bed…well it was probably the most comfortable one she’d ever slept on, but something was missing. The place felt…disconnected…quiet…almost empty even with all the computers and equipment she had to keep her company.
The microwave beeped and she pulled out her food, grabbed the ice tea and moved back towards the computer console. She glanced at the clock noticing it was a little after six at night and figured she could probably finished up her homework while she ate.
She stayed focused on the monitor on the right as she alternated between eating her Chicken Chow Fun and clicking ‘A’ or ‘B’ on her exam. She was in the process of answering question number ten when the monitor in the middle chirped.
She turned her head and grinned as Bart’s stats filled the screen. It had only taken two days to find him. She knew he had to stop sooner or later. When she left Oliver’s she had decided that maybe it was time she looked up the rest of the team. One down three to go.
Oliver undid his tie as he walked into his apartment and towards the living room, glancing at the clock on the wall as he passed by. It was only six thirty and he was tired, cranky and felt like he had enough bottled up tension to fight a wild animal.
Things at the office had taken an exceptionally bad turn now that it had officially been announced that Tess sold her shares and disappeared. He still couldn’t believe she’d done that and that she was now avoiding the consequences of her actions.
It wasn’t like her, so much so that he was considering paying a little visit to Smallville to see if maybe she was held up at the mansion so he could find out what the problem was. Another thing that didn’t make any sense was that his new mystery ‘partner’ and he used the term loosely, was also AWOL.
No one knew his name, what company he’d worked with previously or even if he was a he. It was seriously infuriating. Oliver tossed his tie on the chair and moved over to where he kept the scotch. He poured less than half a glass, lifted it to his lips and downed it in one sip.
His eyes took in the room around him and his brows furrowed as he caught sight of something sticking out from between the couch cushions. He bent down and pulled it out swallowing hard as he realized what it was. A highlighter. Or more accurately, one of Chloe’s highlighters.
It had been a week since Chloe moved out and even though he called or emailed her once a day it still wasn’t the same. He hadn’t realized how quite the apartment was without her. He got used to coming home to find her studying in the living room or working on her laptop.
Occasionally she’d even cook dinner, though those nights were rare. He never thought he’d miss her crappy taste in music or hell even arguing with her. The apartment just seemed…for lack of a better word empty. He tossed a few ice cubes from the bucket in his drink and filled it halfway before plopping down on the couch and holding it to his head.
But Chloe wasn’t talking to him. Unless he counted the one word answers she gave him over the phone or when she was guiding him through the streets of Metropolis while he was on patrol and according to her she was only doing that because she didn’t want his death on her conscious.
He snorted at the thought. If he didn’t know better he’d say it was her wacky ass hormones…unfortunately he did know better and he knew she was pissed off at him, which didn’t matter much because he was pissed at her too.
He sighed once again glancing at the clock. He pursed his lips as he looked at his drink with disdain and then out the window. Maybe a quick patrol wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Chloe was in the middle of tracking Dinah when a small box popped up in the side of the window and the mechanical voice spoke. “Incoming communication from Green Arrow.” She swallowed hard before taking her headset and pressing the power button near her ear.
“Watchtower is online.” There was a brief pause over the lines before Oliver’s distorted voice came through. “I’m thinking about taking the West end tonight…” Chloe reached forward touching the screen and dragging the box running the search for Dinah to the side, before tapping an icon at the bottom of the screen opening up a grid of Metropolis’s streets.
She enlarged the west end of town and activated Oliver’s GPS. A green dot flickered to life on the screen between Main Street and Rosewood. “I’ve got you. Head down the screen and make a left on Cardinal Street a store alarm was activated close to a minute ago.”
Oliver ran across the rooftop, took a leap and somersaulted onto the next building. Chloe heard the sound of boots hitting the ground as he grunted and spoke. “I’m on it. Notify the police if they haven’t already been notified.” Chloe shifted towards the keyboard and hacked into the stores security system.
She brought up the video feed right as Oliver sailed down from the roof his foot knocking one of the guys directly in the head. She watched him disconnect his arrow from the building quickly sliding his smaller bow behind him as he moved forward engaging the second man in hand to hand combat.
Her eyes followed his movements on screen and she frowned at the force he was exhibiting as he continued to hit the guy even after he’d slumped in his arm. Chloe’s stern voice came through his ear. “That’s enough Arrow…he’s out…tie them up and leave them for the police…they should be there in approximately five minutes.”
He dropped the guy to the ground finally taking notice of his bloody face and unconscious body. He pulled out two zip ties and one by one pulled their arms behind their backs and secured them there. He checked their pockets and grabbed the bag full of things they had taken moving back towards the store.
A young woman stood cowering behind the counter tears streaming down her face as Oliver walked carefully over the broken glass. He held up a hand when she saw him and skittered away. “Ma’am…it’s alright…the police are on their way…I think this belongs to you.”
He placed the bag of stolen things on the counter and ran towards the door and right as he was over the broken glass she called out to him. “Thank you!” He turned, grinned and nodded. “Anytime.” He pulled out his grappling compound bow held it up and shot the arrow up.
It secured itself into the building and he gave her a nod before pushing the button causing him to fly up until his was at the edge of the roof. He flipped himself over and landed on his feet just as the police cars pulled up at the scene. He ran across the black top pressing a hand to his ear. “Next stop?”
Chloe looked away from the police cars on her screen and turned back towards the map accessing the video feeds from the camera’s on the lights, searching for any sign of trouble. It went on like that for the next hour. She would give him a location and he would stop whatever crime was in the process of being committed. At around seven forty-five things had slowed down and Oliver had been scaling roof tops for the past ten minutes with nothing to do.
He cleared his throat gaining Chloe’s attention as he spoke. “How are you feeling?” She pressed enter sending in her quiz and she glanced to her left quickly checking if there had been any matches to Lois’s picture yet. She sighed when there weren’t any and answered Oliver.
“I’m fine…you?” He pursed his lips and he jumped off the building onto one right beneath it. “I’m fine.” She rolled her eyes of course he was. “That’s great…look it seems like things have finally slowed down for the night. Maybe it’s time you packed it in. It’s getting late and with what the papers have been printing about Queen Industries and Luthor Corp I’m sure you have other things to be doing.”
He was jumping from the second building down to an ally when she spoke and he lost his balance at her words banging into the wall as he hit the ground. He winced and grunted as he leaned against the brick wall and took a deep breath. “Well it’s nice to know you’re still reading the paper…but maybe you shouldn’t always believe what you read. My company is fine thank you…”
She arched an eyebrow. “I don’t remember saying it wasn’t.” He let out a heavy breath ignoring her last comment. “I’m on Easton Street. I’m heading up two blocks to Jenkins Road where I parked my bike and I’m gonna call it a night. Arrow logging off.”
Chloe opened her mouth, but before she could say anything his green dot was already gone. She stared at the screen for a minute before rubbing a hand over her eyes and sighing. She shook the thoughts away and closed out the screen she used to help him patrol before refocusing on the search for Dinah.
When in doubt…occupy your time with something else…a motto that lately Chloe had taken to living by. Because the truth was she wasn’t sure how much longer she could do this…
Oliver had tossed the com in a pocket on his thigh and made his way down the street. A part of him wanted to walk the two blocks to Watchtower and ask Chloe why she had to be such a bitch, but the other part of him new better than to try to talk to her when they were both upset.
He had just turned up the corner of Jenkins and could see his bike down the long stretch of the ally when he felt something slam into his back knocking him forward onto his knees.
What the fuck? Oliver saw the shadow of a hand coming down and he shifted rolling onto his back as he blocked his attackers hit. He kicked out, his foot colliding with the guy’s stomach sending him jolting back a few feet as Oliver flipped himself into a standing position.
He felt a surge of pain go through his back from where he’d been hit, but when his dark hooded attacker charged him, he ignored the pain and met him punch for punch. He frowned as the man spoke voice slightly erratic. “You gonna die Gumby green…”
Oliver snorted. “Yeah…I think you’ve been knocking back too much crack buddy…seriously haven’t you ever heard those endorsements…Crack is Whack?” He grunted when the guy landed a hit to his stomach and he frowned.
Something didn’t seem right. The guy in front of him looked like some homeless druggy and yet his fighting technique…that was professional. Right as he had a solid grip on the guys face and was about to slam it into the wall, a larger man with dark stringy came around the corner knocking his fist into Oliver’s back.
He immediately released the smaller guy and clenched his jaw in pain as he glanced up from beneath his glasses at the guy in front of him. His body thicker than anything Oliver could remember seeing. He let out an internal sigh. This really wasn’t looking good for him.
He got up and as the bigger man rushed toward him he stepped out of the way causing him to stubble into a garbage can. Oliver came back around sending a round house kick at the guys back knocking him to his knees as he shrugged. “You know what they say buddy…the bigger they are the harder they…”
His voice cut off when he felt a steal metal tip slip into his side, a strangled groan leaving his throat as the knife was pulled out, a blinding pain settling over him as the man in front of him turned and grinned. Oliver’s hand went to the front of his body, warm liquid filling his hand as he was shoved towards the wall.
The skinny hooded guy was laughing hysterically as the bigger man pushed him towards the edge of the ally. “Go…hurry.” He gave one last glance over his shoulder and the last thing Olive could remember seeing before the goons disappeared from sight was a large tattoo of what appeared to be a panther ripping out from beneath the skin of the guy’s neck. Their eyes met and then he was gone.
Chloe let out a tired sigh and glanced at the screen one more time as she moved down the spiral staircase. She really needed to turn off the machines that weren’t being used. It was barely eight, but she was exhausted. She’d gone upstairs to change into pajamas only to find that she was more tired than expected.
She was halfway down the stairs when the double doors burst open startling her. She took another step down about to start yelling when she watched Oliver stumble into the room. Her eyes widened, face paling when his body hit the ground. Her heart beat sped up frantically in her chest as she moved quickly down the rest of the stairs.
“Oliver!” She was just kneeling down when he tossed his glasses aside wincing at the sharp pain that shot threw his side. He had no clue how he’d managed to make it the two blocks to Watchtower but he had no doubt his blood was most likely decorating several streets of Metropolis.
Her eyes turned toward the door and caught the trail of blood making her gasp slightly as panicked hands moved around his vest trying to figure out where it was coming from as she spoke, voice shaky. “What the hell happened Oliver?”
Her hand slid when it reached his side and she pushed his hands away, tears pooling in her eyes. “Oh god…” He clenched his jaw. “Two fucking idiots…” When he hissed in pain she shook her head. “Don’t talk…just…I’m gonna grab some first aid stuff.” She moved to her desk quickly, yanking open the drawer and pulling out the kit while grabbing her cell phone on the way back over to Oliver.
Her hands shook as she dialed Emil’s number and put the phone to her ear as she ripped open gauze from inside the kit. Chloe leaned forward unzipping his vest and when she saw the wound on his side she nearly let out a sob.
“Hello…” She sniffled slightly and spoke, voice hoarse, “Emil…I need you to come to Watchtower…Oliver’s hurt.” Emil was already moving around the office packing up his bag at Chloe’s frantic voice. He spoke soothingly through the phone. “Everything is going to be fine. What happened?”
She shook her head tears blurring her vision as his blood slowly seeped into the white gauze spreading until it touched her finger tips. She could hear his shallow breathing as the damn broke and tears spilled down her cheeks. “I don’t know…I think…it looks like he might have been…stabbed.”
She choked on the last word and Emil sucked in a deep breath. “I’m on my way Chloe keep pressure on the wound and try to keep him awake if you can…take deep breaths…calm down Oliver needs you to be strong okay?”
She sucked in a deep breath and nodded, her voice barely a whisper as she spoke. “Okay…” He said a few more things and she nodded numbly before hanging up the phone and shifting Oliver so his head was on her lap as she increased the pressure on his side.
Oliver glanced up at her pale face and he shifted his hand so it was on top of hers making her eyes fly to his face. He pursed his lips and spoke in between puffs of air. “I’m sorry…I lied.” Chloe glared down on him eyes angry. “I swear to god if you start apologizing for shit right now…I’ll hurt you. You can apologize later do you hear me?”
He nodded his hand sticky as it patted hers. She held him slightly and when she went to move her knee she slid. Her eyes fell to the floor, her nightgown was slick with his blood, she could see his eyes fluttering slightly and she gripped the side of his face with her free hand.
“Oliver don’t close your eyes…OLIVER…” His body felt numb and he was exhausted he just wanted to sleep for a little bit. He could feel her hand pushing down on his side the other one gripping his face. He wanted to tell her he was sorry for putting that look on her face. He’d seen that look before.
Tears streamed down her face as she said something to him, and his brows furrowed because whatever she was saying he couldn’t hear it. Her body was covered in blood and for a minute he thought maybe she was hurt. He blinked and an image of her in all black cradling someone’s lifeless body in her arms blood pooling around her entered his mind.
Was that him? No…she wasn’t wearing black…he was starting to get dizzy and he tightened his grip over her hand. Chloe glanced at her hand when she felt him squeeze it. When she glanced back up his eyes were sliding shut and she cried out. “Oliver no! Open your eyes….open them damn it…”
She could feel his blood on her clothes, and his uniform was a mess. As she stared down she couldn’t help the déjà vu that surrounded her. She couldn’t do this…she couldn’t let someone else shared cared about die in her arms…
A sob broke from her throat as she bent over him, holding his body tightly one hand on his wound the other over his chest as she spoke through tears. “You can’t leave me…Oliver please…” But Oliver never heard her last few words unconsciousness had already pulled him into darkness.
Emil let out a tired sigh as he made his way up the spiral staircase and moved into the bedroom glancing at the worried looking blonde sitting in a small plush chair by the bed. Her face was pale and he could see her leg rocking back and forth in a nervous gesture, one hand resting on her slightly curved stomach the other on the arm of the chair.
He cleared his throat and gave her a warm smile as he held out a cup of Chamomile tea. Chloe glanced up at him and then the tea before taking it, voice low when she spoke. “Thanks.” He nodded as her head turned back towards Oliver.
“Of course…you know Chloe you really should eat something. There’s been a lot of commotion in the past day and a half…” She was already shaking her head before he finished his sentence. “I’m not hungry.” Emil frowned as he tried to reason with the woman in front of him.
“This isn’t healthy for the baby…I don’t even know the last time you ate. You’re pale…probably dehydrated…beyond exhausted. Putting strain on your body and the baby isn’t going to help Oliver heal any faster.” She turned her head glaring at Emil, voice angry.
“Then tell me Emil…what will. You’re the doctor.” She pushed herself out of the chair onto unsteady legs a wave of dizziness hitting her as she gripped the chair to steady herself. She put the tea down on the nightstand and pointed towards Oliver’s body lying in her bed.
He had on a pair of black sweats and his midsection was bandaged from jut above his belly button to just below his pec. “Why isn’t he awake yet? It’s been almost two days Emil…two days…I told you we should have brought him to a hospital…there was too much blood…”
Her voice faulted, hands shaking as she grasped her stomach, sucking in several deep breaths and Emil quickly moved towards her helping her bend her head slightly and rubbing her back as he spoke softly. “Chloe you need to calm down. You’re giving yourself panic attacks…I already told you Oliver is going to be fine. We couldn’t bring him to the hospital right now because there is too much press involving his company and if word of this leaked out…well it wouldn’t be a good thing.”
Her breathing was starting to calm down and she straightened her body slowly before he helped her back into her seat continuing to speak softly to her. “I stitched him up and sure he lost more blood than I would have liked, but he’s going to be okay…he’ll wake up when his body is ready.”
She nodded silent tears streaming down her cheeks. He let out a long breath and he kneeled in front of the fragile looking blonde. He pursed his lips attempting to get her attention, but her eyes were still on Oliver. “Tell me what you need Chloe…what can I do?”
Red-rimmed eyes met Emil’s, her voice barely a whisper. “Make him wake up…can you do that?” When he didn’t say anything she glanced away from him and he let out a long breath before standing and turning to face Oliver as he addressed Chloe.
“I need to go back to my office and get some more things…will you be okay here with him for a little while?” She nodded and vaguely heard him say he’d be back soon before closing her bedroom door behind him. When Chloe heard the click she stood slowly and pulled the chair closer to the edge of the bed before sitting back down and pulling her legs up and under her.
She watched him lie there and the thought that she’d never seen him so still crossed her mind. Oliver was always moving…always doing something…in constant motion and seeing him like this…filled her chest with this unbearable pain. Every time she looked at him the only thing she could see was his blood on her hands.
When Emil had showed up he’d had another man with him. Chloe hadn’t recognized him, but considering his apparel she assumed he was a friend of Oliver’s. He wore skin tight green and he’d been the one to move Oliver upstairs, or flown him up was more like it.
He was gone before Chloe could catch his name, but honestly she hadn’t cared. As Emil worked on Oliver upstairs she had sat there on the floor in the middle of Watchtower, a small pool of blood around her. Chloe had tried to clean it…scrub the carpet free of it…but it had just seeped deeper into the fibers reminding her that almost directly beneath where she sat was a similar bloodstain.
She squeezed her eyes shut trying to block the images out of her head, not wanting to go back to either of those memories. Not when Oliver laid before her alive and according to Emil on his way to recovery. Chloe’s eyes fluttered open and she shifted reaching out and curling her hand around his not sure if he even realized she was there.
Oliver felt the warm pressure on his hand and he attempted to move his fingers, but he couldn’t do it. Everything hurt and just as he was about to try and pry his eyes open he heard a voice…no not just any voice, Chloe’s voice as she spoke, words slightly shaky as they tumbled from her mouth.
“You were right…I hate admitting it because it just makes your stupid ego skyrocket and god knows you’re already full of yourself enough…” Her voice trailed off and she continued in barely a whisper, tears sliding down her cheek as she looked at the entwined hands.
“I was using you…but not for money or anything like that…after Jimmy…every just left…they took off and I was trying so hard to be strong to pretend I didn’t need anyone because the truth was I didn’t think I deserved anyone. I know that everyone left because they blamed me for what happened…”
She swallowed hard finally admitting something she’d been holding in for so long. “I blamed myself for Jimmy’s death…I still do…but I took it out on you because…I guess I needed someone to blame…I needed to get off my chest how I felt about myself and I sort of…projected it on to you…”
She paused for another second before continuing. “And then when you said you were staying…that you’d help…I knew you weren’t doing it for me…it wasn’t because we were friends or you cared about me…but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be a lone anymore…I still don’t.”
A small sob left her throat as she bent slightly closer to his hand. “Oliver…I’m sorry…I’m sorry I got angry…you should have told me about the building, but I shouldn’t have run away…I don’t want to be this person anymore…I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t have anyone…You might have been there for me for your own reasons…but you were still there.”
Tears were flowing freely hitting his hands as her voice wavered. “You held my hair back for me when I got sick even though I yelled at you every time…you put up with my attempts to make you leave even though I wanted you there…the dinners…redoing Watchtower…everything.”
She sucked in a deep breath. “I was scared…to let you in and be your friend…because I’m terrified once I do you’ll leave…or you’ll get what you needed and that’ll be it…but I need you Oliver so you have to wake up…you’re all I have and this time it’s not because I can’t do this alone…it’s because I don’t want to…I want us to be friends…”
Her voice trailed off as her body shook slightly and Oliver’s heart broke at her words. He used every ounce of strength he had to pry his eyes open, the soft light hurting them at first as he saw her head against his arm. He swallowed heavily and very slowly lifted his arm before carefully laying it on her head.
The movement caught her off guard and when she glanced up he gave her half a smirk, voice hoarse. “I’m sorry too…” She sat up quickly eyes widened as she wiped her face. “Oliver…” She saw him wince and she quickly got up from the chair, moved into the bathroom and came back with a cup full of water.
She placed a hand under his head and helped him drink it before putting it on the nightstand as she opened her mouth he shook his head, voice quiet as he met her eyes. “It was my fault…I should have told you…and you’re right…this wasn’t about you…when I found that pregnancy test…”
He swallowed hard shifting slightly and biting his bottom lip at the sharp pain he felt in his side. She frowned and he continued speaking voice slightly strained. “I felt guilty…I felt like it was my fault that your kid was going to grow up without a Father…and that the only way I could fix it was to make sure you and the baby were okay…to help you in any way I could.”
He shook his head and let out a long sigh. “I got it into my head that the only way to make the guilt go away…to fix the pain inside myself was to help you…I’m sorry…I messed up…I keep messing up I don’t want to be lost anymore…I don’t want to keep fighting with you…and somewhere along the line I got used to you hanging around…”
He paused taking a deep breath, his lungs burning slightly, but he needed to get this out…to clear the air between them. “You’re the only person who’s always been there…good or bad…you know my secret and you don’t judge me…you never have not even when you first found out…I don’t like thinking you hate me…”
She shook her head fiercely and touched his arm as she spoke. “I don’t…I never did.” He leaned back against the pillow, voice tired. “Yeah…I get that now…not so much then…” He took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly as he spoke and she swore she caught a glint of humor in his eyes.
“So…how about we star over…again? From this point on…I’ll stick around not because I need to…but because you’re my friend…and I want to…and you’ll stick around because you’re my friend…and you want to.” He looked at their hands before glancing back up at her, a grin falling on his lips. “What do you say Sidekick? Feel like giving me a third chance?”
Her face broke out into a smile and laughter bubbled from her throat as she rolled her eyes giving him mock thoughtful look. “Hmm I guess that can be arranged…on one condition…” Oliver shook his head. “I get stabbed and you’ve still got conditions…alright lets have it…”
Her face softened. “No more lies…honesty no matter what.” He pursed his lips and nodded voice quiet. “Deal.” She nodded and patted his hand. “Good now get some rest…Emil ran to get a few more things, but you still need to relax.”
Oliver arched an eyebrow. “On one condition…” She rolled her eyes, humor dancing on her face. “Really?” He nodded and shifted slightly away from her, wincing and then grunting as he pulled at his wound slightly. Chloe frowned standing and pressing a hand against his chest. “Cut it out.”
“Ask me…” She sighed and spoke. “What’s the condition.” He motioned to the empty space next to him. “You lay down and get some rest…keeping with being honest you look terrible…I’ll rest if you’ll lie down and rest to.”
Chloe hesitated and Oliver closed his eyes for a second before speaking quietly. “Please…there’s more than enough room…and I’ll even let you put the pillow’s up as a barrier if you feel so inclined to do so…just…in order for me to relax I need to not be worried about you…”
Chloe bit her lower lip and a few seconds later climbed carefully onto the bed adjusting herself so she was facing him with several inches in between them. As soon as her head hit the pillow she could feel the exhaustion take over and she had to fight to keep her eyes open.
Oliver watched as she struggled to stay awake and he spoke in a whisper as he closed his eyes again. “Close your eyes Chloe…its fine…I’m not going anywhere…I’ll be here when you wake up.” His words soothed her and minutes later she felt herself drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
Oliver’s last thought before following her into a deep sleep was that, the voice in the back of his head that he’d been trying so hard to fight all these months was finally gone...silence taking its place…settling within him like the calm after the storm.
Chapter Eight: Something Good Coming