Banner By: JulieteChapter 1
‘Winds of Change’
“The waltz never quite goes out of fashion; it is always just around the corner; every now and then it returns with a bang . . . It is sneaking, insidious, disarming, lovely. . . The waltz, in fact, is magnificently improper...the art of tone turned lubricious. . ." -H.L.Menken
Chloe stood near the bar that had been set up towards the side of the large room in the house eyes drifting over the crowd of people around her. She was just about to make her way further into the room when a drink was placed in front of her.
She glanced up at the bartender brows furrowed in confusion as he smiled. “It’s from the gentlemen in the corner.” He motioned in the direction of the man in question and Chloe sighed as her eyes met Oliver’s.
He lifted his hand, drink clasped tightly in it as he nodded in her direction. She lifted the drink from the counter, held it up and inclined her head before bringing it to her lips and taking a sip. She got his message loud and clear. Relax…calm down…don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself…then again how could she not?
It was Friday night slightly after nine and she was standing in the middle of one of the biggest social events in Metropolis since Oliver’s last party, which she’d only gone to for about thirty minutes before bailing in favor of spending the night at Watchtower, and he was her friend...sort of.
But this, this was different. District Attorney Raymond Sacks was having his annual birthday party bash and this year it was being held in his newly renovated home, a home that looked to be just a little too large for someone working for the City of Metropolis, which was exactly why they were there.
She lifted her hand to her ear discreetly, fingering her earring before her finger slipped slightly pressing into the com in her ear. She brought the glass to her mouth, pausing so it hovered there as she spoke quietly. “How’s it going Cyborg…Impulse…are you in position yet?” She moved the glass the rest of the way to her lips and took a healthy sip of the amber liquid making a face as the liquor burned her throat slightly.
Oliver had managed to get two extra invitations so Bart and Victor could attend the party. He figured the best time to break into Sacks’ house was in the middle of the party because according to Oliver he’d be too busy entertaining his guests to notice.
So they had put together a plan where the four of them would attend the party as guests and the boys would sneak away and search the house for the paperwork on Sacks’ cases spanning the last eight months. He was revered as Metropolis’s number one DA and yet over the past several months every time the Justice League took down members of the local mob or drug cartel, they somehow wound up walking because of him.
Chloe was pretty sure the guy was a dirty DA, but they needed evidence to hand over to the police, which was what had prompted their little mission into Sacks’ house in the first place. Victor’s voice crackled to life in her ear startling her slightly, as he moved quietly through the upstairs hallway, Bart by his side.
“We’re on the second level of the house…waiting for your instructions.” Chloe shifted back towards the bar and put her drink down for a second as she reached into her small black clutch and pulled out her cell phone. She powered it up and waited a few seconds while the screen loaded.
When it came up she touched the screen pressing on an icon and her login ID for Watchtower came up. She signed in and the mobile version of Watchtower filled her cell phone screen. Several seconds later she had the floor plans to the house up on her phone. Chloe squinted and then enlarged part of the image on the phone.
She glanced around and caught sight of a corner in the room. She walked quickly over to it her eyes staring at her phone memorizing the pathway as she paused once she was off to the side and put the phone to her ear, pretending she was talking on it.
“Okay right now you guys are in the main wing of the second floor. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. You’re going to need to go straight down the hallway until you see a small staircase off to your right. Go down the stairs, but not to the first level.”
Victor frowned as he and Bart made their way down the hallway, both dressed in suits as they sulked through the house. “What do you mean? Where else would we go?” Chloe pursed her lips trying to figure out how to explain it so they’d understand.
“It’s hard to explain but once you see the stair case you’ll know what I’m talking about. Halfway down the stairs is a small landing and you can step off of them into a small hallway which is where the office is.” Victor tilted his head as he caught sight of the stairs.
“That’s weird.” Bart shrugged and he made his way to the stairs pausing to glance over his shoulder at Victor. “Dude who cares if it’s weird…let’s just get this crap done so I can get the hell out of this suit ugh…” Chloe smiled slightly, head tilting to the side as she listened to Bart complain.
He was one part of missions she always enjoyed, a breath of fresh air. It was nice having him round again even if it was only for a little while. She cleared her throat slightly and spoke. “Guys, focus, once you get inside the office you have everything you need to break into his safe and get into the computer correct?”
Victor nodded even though she couldn’t see him as they made their way down the stairs and then noticed the small landing Chloe had been talking about. “Yeah, we’re good from here Tower…I’ll make sure Bart checks out the files and what not while I work on the computer.”
Chloe crossed one arm over her chest as she spoke. “Sounds good…be careful boys.” Victor motioned towards Bart to open the door and when he tried it was locked he sighed slightly before answering Chloe. “Will do, Cyborg initiating radio silence, over and out Tower.” The com cut off and Chloe moved the phone away from her ear and pressed a button before tossing it back into her clutch and making her way back towards the bar.
She took up the same space she had before as she glanced at the couples on the dance floor laughing and having a good time. She still didn’t understand why she had to come on the mission. It wasn’t like she often went out in the field with the team. She always guided the team from Watchtower, but Oliver had been insistent that they all go in case Victor and Bart needed on site support.
She frowned slightly when she felt eyes on her and tore her gaze from the dance floor looking around in her general vicinity. She caught sight of a man to the left of her leering slightly before sending a wink her way. She gave him a look of disgust as his eyes roamed over her dress before he took his drink from the bartender and walked off, but not before sending a wink her way.
It was ridiculous how some of the wealthy business owners of Metropolis were sometimes just as sleazy or even more so sleazy than your common criminal. She glanced down at herself and shifted self-consciously. How had she let Oliver talk her into this outfit?
The sleeveless dress she wore fell a few inches above her knee and the gold silk encased her body hugging her curves in all the places she never bothered to show off. When the dress had shown up at Watchtower two days ago, she thought it had been a joke. Apparently it had not been and she still wasn’t happy about wearing it.
She felt exposed and out of place with the generous amount of cleavage spilling from the dress, the silk slipping against her skin every time she moved as the four inch stilettos made her legs look much longer than they actually were. Suddenly Chloe was missing the wrap she’d checked to the coat check when she first got to the party.
“Stop fidgeting would you?” The voice near her ear startled her making her jump slightly as she glanced over her shoulder at a smirking Oliver. She frowned in his direction and gave him a disapproving look. He was always popping up out of nowhere, stealthy little tight wearing thief. “I wish you wouldn’t do that…”
He shrugged while she shifted her eyes back to the people around them as she spoke voice low. “Look I think I’m going to head out…the guys are in the office now…this shouldn’t take them long at all…so you don’t really need me anymore.”
Brown eyes flickered to the woman beside him and he could see the anxiety coming off her in waves. Lately it wasn’t often that she ventured out of her ivory tower and into the outside world so it was possible he might have made an excuse about onsite support to get her to come out with the team.
He hadn’t meant to trick her into, but lately she had seemed so disconnected with everyone and he figured after what Carter had said to him, maybe it was time he started showing more concern for his team members. He’d gone out of his way to ask Bart and Victor to come to town and help with the mission, not necessarily because he couldn’t do it without them, but because he was trying to bring their team back together.
And that included helping Chloe out of her funk…it was the least he could do after everything she’d done for him. He let out a small sigh at the pleading look she sent him as he spun the drink he held in his hands while speaking. “Chloe…its one night, what happens if you leave and something goes wrong?”
She let out an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes slightly. “Oliver nothing is going to go wrong.” The second the words left her mouth several men in suits from Sacks’s security team found the man of honor on the dance floor and Chloe frowned as they spoke to him quickly and the smile immediately left his face as he said something and then moved out of the room with them.
Oliver pursed his lips as he leaned his head down and whispered quickly. “That can’t be good.” She shifted away from Oliver and turned to face him opening her mouth right when the com in her ear came to life.
“Impulse to Tower…we’ve got an issue Chloelicious…it seems we might have triggered a silent alarm…and then windows and crap started sealing shut…this place is like Fort Knox or some crap like that…any alternate routes outta here without crashing into the party?”
Chloe closed her eyes for a second as she went over the layout of the house in her head. Her voice was in control as she spoke quickly while Oliver watched with a frown on his face. “Yeah, don’t go back to the first level we just saw the security team come in here to get Sacks. Here’s what I want you to do. Go back up the stairs to the second floor head to the end of the hallway and let me know when your there.”
Oliver’s eyes scanned the faces around them to make sure no one was listening to them and it seemed aside from the two women sitting at the bar grinning at him, no one was paying any attention to what they were doing. Chloe’s voice brought his attention back to her.
“Okay…there’s going to be a door on you left hand side. Go inside and there should be a balcony in that room. You can get out that way. It should lead to the back of the house. The gate in the back should be open because of the party.”
Victor grunted as he pushed open the door right as they heard a voice enter the hallway. Bart sped to the balcony door, pulling it open and motioning for Victor to follow. He pressed his finger against the com and spoke. “Alright we’re on the balcony…where gonna get out of here.”
Chloe nodded and let out a relived sigh as she spoke. “Okay were you able to find the information.” Victor grinned as he jumped off the balcony his feet hitting the ground with a loud thud as he spoke. “Yup…we got all the records…we’ll drop them off at Watchtower for you.”
“Okay, we’ll leave now and meet you there.” She clicked off the com and motioned for Oliver to follow her as she started to walk away, but he gripped her arm lightly stopping her movements. She glanced over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow in his direction. “What?”
Oliver saw an angry looking Sacks make his way back into the main room before his gaze once again drifted to the blonde in front of him. “You’re joking right?” Her brows furrowed in confusion, face scrunching slightly. “What do you mean?”
He gave her an incredulous look. “We can’t just walk out of here right now. He knows someone stole something from him…he’s a fairly smart guy or he would have been pinned for what he’s been doing a long time ago…if we left right now it would make us look guilty…”
Chloe hesitated before gently pulling her arm from his grasp and scowling. “So what do you suggest we do?” He motioned around them and made a face. “We stay here for a while longer and ride out the party...pretending like nothing happened since none of the other guests seemed to have caught on.”
Chloe let out a small groan. She’d been waiting for an hour for the mission to be over and now that it finally was she couldn’t even go home. Oliver caught the look of annoyance on her face and nudged her slightly causing her to gaze up at him.
He gave her a small smile. “Come on…it doesn’t have to be that bad…at least we’re stuck here together.” She gave him an odd look and he quirked an eyebrow at her. “What?”
“Where’s your date?” He shook his head as he motioned to one of the waiters walking around the room and motioned him over as he spoke. “I didn’t bring one.” She gave him a startled look as he grabbed two glasses of champagne and nodded his thanks as the waiter move away.
“Why not?” He handed her one of the glasses and she took it hesitantly as he watched her with amused eyes. “Because we came here on a mission and if something would have gone wrong where I needed to step in I didn’t want to be bothered with having to explain to a date why I was taking off on her.”
Chloe nodded as he took a sip of his drink and followed suit before lowering the glass and pursing her lips. “I guess that makes sense…” He motioned with his head and then put a hand to the small of her back to guide her towards the tables that had been put up and he felt her tense at the touch of his hand.
He frowned slightly and waited for her to say something about personal space, but she never did. His brows creased in thought as he wondered when the last time anyone bothered to touch her was, a hug here, pat on the back there.
People could only go so long without the comfort of touch. After too much time without it the body develops a natural flinch reflex when someone finally does touch you. He should know…after all that time on the island…before he found Tess and the other people she was with…it had just been him.
They had just reached an empty table when Oliver heard his name. He turned around and came face to face with Raymond Sacks. He gave the dark haired man his best media smile and took his offered hand shaking it in a tight grip.
“Oliver, it’s good to see you. When I got the RSVP I couldn’t quite believe it.” His eyes drifted to Chloe and he watched as the man gave her chest an appreciative glance. He saw her shift beside him as her arms came up slightly in a discrete attempt to block what her dress put on display and he could tell she was uncomfortable with the attention.
Maybe he should have listened to her when she said she didn’t want to wear the dress. He just thought it was a nice gesture, plus there was a certain dress code for the party…and he knew the other women there would be wearing something similar, though Chloe was surprisingly the only one in gold.
Sacks’s voice brought him out of his thoughts as his gaze shifted from Chloe back to Oliver. “So who’s you’re lovely date this evening?” Chloe blinked and shook her head about to tell him she wasn’t Oliver’s date when the blonde next to her wrapped an arm around her waist pulling her slightly to his side as he spoke, a sly grin curling at his lips.
“This is Chloe…we work together.” Her body was completely ridged next to him as she gave Sack’s a tight smile. “It’s nice to meet you.” He nodded. “You too…” Someone called his name and he gave them an apologetic look. “Sorry…I really should mingle, but thanks so much for coming.” Oliver returned the smile and nodded.
“Of course and happy birthday.” Sacks sent a grin their way before moving back into the crowd. Oliver’s hand loosened its hold on her immediately slipping slightly to the small of her back right above the curve of her ass and when he didn’t move it right away she slapped his arm slightly.
He let out a sharp ‘owe’ as he glared down on the tiny blonde, brows furrowed as he rubbed his arm. “What was that for?” She sent a ‘you know what that was for’ glare his way. “I know you’re used to women letting you put your hands wherever you want, but I have a personal bubble.”
She motioned to the area around her body as she slid into the seat at the table and he bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing, which only seemed to intensify the glare she was shooting at him. “Do not mock me Oliver.” He let out a small laugh then and shook his head as he sat across from her.
“I’m not mocking you. I’ll have you know I have amazing hands…people tell me all the time beside I was doing you a favor…I was staking my claim as your date so that lowlife didn’t try to put the moves on you…I was being a good friend…” She arched an eyebrow and pursed her lips but he could see the corner of her mouth lift up slightly.
He gave her a solemn look and nodded. “So you see…really you should thank me I saved you from unwanted advances from a pervert.” Chloe rolled her eyes snorting lightly. “Oh yes, you saved me from the bad guy pervert, and left me with Metropolis’s number one playboy…good job.”
A grin broke out on Oliver’s face as he shifted back slightly and pointed at her. “Did you just make a joke? Wow…Chloe Sullivan can joke…who would have thought…and just in case you were wondering,” he leaned in from across the table, “I almost always behave myself…unless asked otherwise.” He waggled his eyebrows and a grin broke out on Chloe’s face as she chuckled.
Who knew Oliver could be so amusing? Her body relaxed slightly as she nodded amusement coloring her tone. “Ah that’s right I forgot you enjoy taking orders.” Oliver’s grin widened as she bantered back and forth with him. It was something they hadn’t done in a long time…“Only from you Sidekick.” He gave her a charming grin and she rolled her eyes.
“You’re horrible, is there anything you don’t flirt with?” His face turned serious and he nodded right as she brought her drink to her lips. “Men…and animals obviously…neither do me any good.” Chloe choked on her drink and they both chuckled. When her laughter died down the smile was still on her face.
She and Oliver had never really hung out before, but she’d forgotten how much fun he was to be around when they actually did spend the occasional day or night in each other’s vicinity. She blinked when she felt him shift his chair closer to her as he spoke. “Want to play a game?”
Humor danced in her eyes, his hand settling around the back of her chair as he waited for her answer. “What are we…five?” He rolled his eyes and huffed at her. She watched him for a few seconds as he pretended to ignore her and when she couldn’t take his silence anymore she let out a sigh and spoke. “Fine.”
As soon as the words left her mouth he pointed to a table on the other side of the room. She glanced over and saw a man with his head dipping down by a woman’s ear making her laugh as they presumably flirted with each other. She arched a confused eyebrow at him and he spoke.
“You see that guy right there? He runs a multi-million dollar corporation, he’s got two kids, drive’s a Porsche, and he’s married…but not to her.” Chloe’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open as she glanced between the man and Oliver. “Oh my god…that’s horrible…how do you know that?”
He grinned at her, ignored her question and motioned to the woman. “Now you go.” Confusion filled her face for a second before she realized what Oliver was doing. She bit her bottom lip then looked at the women sliding her hand up and down the man’s leg. She smirked.
“She’s one of those society social climbers. She knows he’s worth millions and that he’s married, but she’s going to take him home with her tonight…and sleep with him anyway starting the beginning of a purely physical affair so she can get pregnant with his illegitimate child and keep herself in the lifestyle of wealth she’s become accustomed to.”
Oliver looked back at the couple and then at Chloe with a hint of surprise on his face. “You might be better at this game then me…” She laughed lightly and he gave her a warm smile as they moved on to the next couple.
One hour, two glasses of champagne and several couples later they sat together laughter filling the air around them as Chloe placed a palm on his arm the other one over her mouth as she attempted to stop the laughter falling from her throat.
She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed this much. “You’re joking…please tell me you’re joking.” Oliver shook his head and scratched the back of his neck. “Not a chance…I don’t think I could joke about that if I wanted to…god it was horrible…and the minute my body slammed into the water I got a mouth full of ocean and there was enough sand in my trucks to fill a small sandbox. It was ridiculous.”
She nudged his leg with her heel as she spoke. “Then why did you do it?” Oliver snorted, eyebrows scrunching as he gave her his patent ‘why do you think’ look. “Are you kidding? And let some guy think I was a chicken shit for backing out of a bet? I’m sorry have you met me? I’m Oliver Queen…I do stupid things just to prove I can.”
She laughed again her hand once again finding his arm and not even realizing it. “But Oliver…surfing blindfolded and in the middle of what California dubs a freak cold front? You could have seriously hurt yourself.” And yet she couldn’t stop laughing.
He grinned. “Well I’m glad to see you’re worried about my well being Sidekick, but as you can see I lived to tell the embarrassingly horrifying tale of the one time I publicly failed at something.” Her eyes widened as she smirked. “I bet the guys got a kick out of that story.”
He shook his head quickly as he gave her a stern gaze. “The guys don’t know about that story…and it better stay that…or else.” She arched an eyebrow and leaned back in her seat while resting her arms against her chest and speaking “Or else?”
He nodded, brown eyes meeting green. “Or else Green Arrow knows where you live.” Chloe smirked and leaned forward, voice soft when she spoke. “Word to the wise…that’s probably more intimidating to someone who doesn’t actually know the Green Arrow…plus I’m indispensable to the team…you need me.”
He squinted his eyes at her and pursed his lips, “Hmm I’m not sure I like that…I think you need to level the playing field…I need some dirt on you that way I know you aren’t going to spill my secrets.” She gave him a slightly disbelieving look. “Seriously? I have juicer gossip on you than what you just told me and you’re worried I’m going to tell on you about this?”
He nodded while scoffing. “Well being the Green Arrow isn’t embarrassing…me getting knocked off a surfboard while blind folded while people watched is…it’s all relative just tell me something…be fair now Sidekick.”
Chloe sighed thinking back through the years and attempting to find something to tell him that wasn’t too embarrassing. “Okay fine, but what I’m about to tell you, you are not allowed to mock me for…got it?” He crossed his heart with his fingers and spoke. “Scouts honor.”
Her brows creased and she pointed at him. “Where you even a boyscout?” He made a face. “Does that matter?” She couldn’t help the grin that slid onto her lips. He motioned for her to speak. “Okay…so the first time I met you back in Clark’s barn? Well I might have possibly thought you were slightly attractive…”
A large smirk filled his face, eyes dancing with amusement as he winked at her playfully. “Of course you did…I’m Oliver, nine out of ten women find me completely irresistible.” She rolled her eyes and waved him off. “But that passed when I got to know you.” Oliver frowned.
“Are you trying to tell me my personality made you not like me? Jeez way to hit me straight in the heart.” She chuckled lightly placing a small palm over his hand a warm smile on her face. “No, it means I got to know the real you…and I dunno…I saw past the looks and realized there was more than that…does that make sense?”
He smiled slightly. “Yeah, it does.” He opened his mouth to say something else when Sacks’s voice came over the microphone drawing everyone’s attention towards the dance floor that had been set up in the middle of the room. “Alright I know you’re all sad to hear it, but the night’s coming to an end…one more song and then you don’t gotta go home, but you gotta get the hell out of here!”
The people around them laughed lightly and Oliver made a face as Chloe hid her smile while Sacks motioned to the piano player to start. She glanced around the room finally taking the time to take in the design and set up for the party. It was tastefully decorated and dimly lit, the light from the full moon outside traveling through the plate glass windows making the room appear to glow in certain places.
The room itself appeared almost majestic. If they weren’t sitting in the house of a man who was most likely responsible for letting killers walk free she might have even asked him if there was some history behind the architecture of the house.
A warm hand on her arm brought her out of her musings and she glanced at Oliver and let out a small ‘hmm’. He tilted his head and nodded towards the dance floor. “Last dance…what do you say you let me take you for a spin around the dance floor.”
She waved him off and shook her head as he stood. “Oh no, you don’t have to do that it’s totally fine…we should probably head out…I can’t believe we stayed until the end of the party…” He smiled and took her hand pulling her up. “One dance…come on…”
She bit her lower lip and as he waited for her answer. Oliver recognized the sounds of Johannes Brahms Op. 39, No, 9 Waltz start wafting through the room. Tired of waiting he took her hand and led her to the dance floor where several other people were already moving to the prominent sound of the piano echoing through the room.
Oliver lifted one of her arms so it was over his and holding onto his bicep as he wound one of his arms around her the other holding her hand in and upright position. He pulled her slightly closer to him and she gazed up at him stumbling for words for a second before she spoke voice soft. “I don’t know this dance…”
His eyes never left her as he spoke. “It’s a waltz…I’ll guide you through it…just follow my instructions and make the opposite moves I make.” She nodded swallowing hard. Oliver stepped forward with his left foot and Chloe stepped back with her right foot. He moved his left foot forward and she countered with her left one moving back.
He moved them to the side, than his feet went back as hers moved forward and eventually they found their rhythm. Oliver could feel the minute she released all the tension in her body and just let herself follow his movements and get lost in music. His hand glided over the soft silk of her dress, as the song continued for longer than he remembered it being until he realized the person playing was doing an extended version of the original piece.
Chloe’s voice broke through his thoughts and her tone held a hint of breathlessness to it as she spoke. “I didn’t know you could dance so well…” He nodded as he moved their bodies closer, his hand sliding to just above the curve of her ass as her palm clenched around his arm.
“I took lessons when I was younger…” She acknowledged his comment with a soft ‘hmm’ as her fingers once again flexed, the muscles beneath her hand tensing and coiling, coming to life under her finger tips. She could feel the heat of his body surrounding hers and when he spun her slightly and then pulled her back in against him she sucked in a heavy breath, her heart beat quickening as he stared down on her a hint of confusion on his face.
Oliver gazed into the green eyes of the woman in his arms and he was suddenly aware of just how close they were. The hand that was supposed to be on her back hand now slid to her hip, his fingers dancing along curves that he’d never really taken the time to notice before right now.
Her eyes were painted with a smoky black, hair curly and wild. He could smell her perfume from his positions in front of her and when he shifted forward dipping her body he thought he heard a light gasp leave her mouth. He held her like that for several minutes as she gripped onto his arms tightly, their eyes never leaving each other, both searching for something and not sure what it was they were finding.
Oliver pulled her up, but she didn’t release him, gaze still lingering on each other. Chloe could feel something shift between them as his thumb rubbed circles onto her back. There was something different about him tonight…something that seemed to draw her in. He opened his mouth right as the music stopped abruptly.
Sacks’s voice once again sound through the room as people clapped while he gave a speech thanking all his friends for coming out to celebrate his ‘special’ day sending the rest of the guests into a frenzy.
Everyone except Oliver and Chloe who stood silently on the dance floor, hands still intertwined, lost in each other’s eyes as something sparked between them, igniting a foreign hope that neither had felt in a long time. It was only one night…one dance and suddenly winds of change had shifted between them.
Chapter Two: Learn You Inside Out