Oliver rubbed a hand over his face as he listened to his friends talking over each other through the video feed on his computer. He had two monitors linked up on his desk so he could see everyone and all they had been doing for about a half hour straight was arguing.
It had been two very tense weeks since Chloe had walked out of his apartment and he hadn’t seen her much since then except for the whole Justice Society, Icicle incident where she’d needed his help finding something and he was later thrown through a window.
Good times. He sighed before clearing his throat to get the team’s attention before speaking. “Guys, please cut it out and just listen. I’m sorry. I messed up, but that’s no reason to not get in touch with Chloe. She’s been trying to bring the team together for the last two weeks.”
He paused, catching sight of Dinah, Bart, AC and Victor on the feed. “We could have really used your help with this whole Justice Society thing. I mean it turned out okay and now we’ve got another set of allies, but still…you’re angry at me, I get it. I inadvertently made you all forgive me without actually apologizing for being an ass.”
He pointed to himself and gave them a small grin. “I’m sorry for that too, but we’re a team…and we really need to start acting like one again. Before this whole thing went down, we actually had things up and running again and I don’t know about you, but I really want that to continue. The work we do…it’s important.”
Oliver leaned back in his seat, face completely serious as he watched his friends glancing at each other; they were all together even though they were on separate cameras. He waited patiently for their response and just when he was getting anxious, Bart spoke.
“How do we know you’re not going to up and leave again?” Oliver pursed his lips and leaned forward, voice soft as he spoke. “You don’t. We all have our weak moments. Everything that happened last year…it really messed me up…but I’m on the right track again. You four aren’t just my teammates…you’re my friends.”
He swallowed heavily, remembering Carter’s words about how he didn’t let people know they were important to him. It was time to change that…all around. The people he valued in his life were going to know it…that was the first step he was taking in starting over.
“We’ve spent the last three years together, fighting Lex…fighting crime and just being a part of each other’s lives. We aren’t just a team of vigilante superheroes…we’re family and I’m tired of pretending that I don’t have people I care about, because I do.”
Dinah glanced at AC and he shrugged before they glanced at Victor, who let out a sigh and nodded. The three of them turned to Bart, who pursed his lips for a second before a small grin slipped onto his features. Victor turned back toward his camera and spoke.
“We care about you too, Ollie. If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t have helped Chloe with her plan to knock you on your ass and it looks like it worked. It’s good to have you back. I’m pretty sure I speak for the rest of the team when I say we’re looking forward to getting back to work.”
He grinned and AC moved forward, his face getting closer to the screen as he spoke, smile on his lips. “Dude, does this mean you’re coming back to Star City? We could really use the structure and the busy work…it’s totally dead out here.”
Dinah arched an eyebrow at him and he hesitated as he shifted in his seat. “I don’t think so, guys…at least not right now. I have…there are things I still need to work out here before I take off. This is something I can’t run away from…”
He frowned at his words and shook his head while speaking. “What I mean is, I don’t want to run away from it. I made my bed, now I’ve got to lie in it...you guys weren’t the only ones affected by Zatanna’s wish. I need to fix this.” They nodded and Oliver watched as Bart scratched the back of his head through the feed.
“Have you spoken to Chloelicious at all?” He let out a heavy breath and leaned forward until his hands were folded against the table. “No, not really. The only time she’ll talk to me is when I’m on patrol, when she’s briefing me on team related issues, which by the way, thanks guys, there haven’t been many since you won’t return her calls.” He sent a glare their way before continuing.
“Other than that, no. I think she’s actually talked to Clark more than me lately and they aren’t even really that close anymore. It’s ridiculous.” Victor and AC exchanged looks at the sight of a pout on Oliver’s lips.
They tried to keep their smirking to a minimum as Dinah spoke. “Well maybe you should try talking to her in person…clear the air.” He nodded. “That’s exactly what I plan to do when we’re done here. She can’t hide forever…I know where she works. So are we good for now? Will you guys promise to check in with Chloe?”
They nodded and a chorus of ‘yes’ and ‘we promise’ could be heard through his speakers. He smiled. “Great then I’ll talk to you guys soon, have a good one.” They said their goodbyes and he closed out his feed which automatically disconnected him from all calls.
Oliver glanced around his empty office and sucked in a deep breath, pushing away from his seat and standing. It was time to get off his ass and face the music. He just hoped it went better this time than it had last time.
Oliver prayed that Chloe would be willing to hear him out because he wasn’t willing to give her up. He finally knew what he wanted and no matter the obstacles, Oliver Queen always got what he wanted and right now he had his sights set on Chloe Sullivan.
Chloe swore as she typed in another wrong code, making the system push her all the way back to the beginning for the third time that morning. She let out a frustrated growl and slammed her hands down on the keyboard. She closed her eyes and took a step back, taking a deep calming breath.
She couldn’t keep doing this. It had been two weeks, two agonizingly painful weeks. Her eyes fluttered open and darted around the room at the various gifts littering different surfaces of Watchtower. There were four dozen tulips in varying shades, all with notes from Oliver. There were a dozen red roses, quoting her favorite poets and two dozen orchids spouting apologies in several different languages, ‘just in case you can’t understand English’ according to Oliver.
She let out a sigh and her gaze drifted toward the kitchen where a basket full of fresh ground gourmet imported coffee lay. Every flavor she could possibly image sat astride the small plush cushion inside the large wicker basket and whenever she looked at it, it made her grin a little, which only pissed her off further.
She was angry. She didn’t want to smile when she thought about Oliver, she wanted to be able to be angry at him for making her do and say things she hadn’t been anywhere close to doing or saying, if that made sense.
Chloe hated that she’d let her guard down and let him in. She hated that she’d unconsciously disclosed her fears and worries to a man she wasn’t even sure she completely trusted anymore. She hated that she had let him into her heart and gotten used to his presence in her life, but most of all, she hated the way she didn’t hate Oliver. Not even close, not even a little but, not even at all.
It was confusing. On one hand, a part of her was so angry that he could make a wish that unintentionally gave up her right to free will or free thoughts, but on the other hand, she missed Oliver in ways she hadn’t even begun to realize yet.
She missed the way it was so easy with him, how no matter what she told him, he never looked at her differently. How when she’d opened up about her parents and told him what it was like growing up with just her dad and how hard it was had been finding out about her mother, he’d just nodded and let her talk, never once interrupting.
Then there was the night she’d talked to him about Jimmy and her regrets before breaking down in his arms. Still, he’d never left her side, he’d stayed with her, whispering words of comfort in her ear until her sobs had stopped and then he had listed the reasons he thought she was an amazing person and how in the end, Jimmy knew what he was getting into and he’d chosen her anyway.
Chloe missed the way he brushed her hair out of her eyes, or laughed at inappropriate jokes while waggling his eyebrows at her when they watched movies. She missed his presence that seemed to light up Watchtower even when he wasn’t physically there and it quite literally made her want to slap him for embedding himself so deep under her skin that she couldn’t get rid of him no matter how hard she tried.
She blew out a short breath, her hair blowing aside lightly as she tried to shake thoughts of their resident leather-wearing vigilante from her thoughts. After everything that had gone down in the past week, there was plenty of work for her to do. Plus, she was re-doing Watchtower to make it feel homier, in hopes that the team would eventually break their silent streak and make their way back to headquarters.
Courtney had been right. They needed a place that the team felt comfortable going and that was important to her. That no matter where they were or what they were doing, they knew there was always somewhere they could call home. Chloe was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the light rapping on the door.
Oliver ignored the fact that she didn’t answer and pushed the double doors open, walking into the large room, slowly catching sight of the blonde he was looking for standing directly in front of the largest monitor in the room. He swallowed heavily before taking a deep breath and speaking softly, but loud enough that she’d hear him.
“Hey…” Chloe’s hands froze above the keyboard, her heartbeat picking up speed at the voice behind her. Her tongue darted out, licking her bottom lip before she turned around slowly, coming face to face with the man she couldn’t seem to get out of her mind.
She pursed her lips, the sound of her heart echoing in her ears as she spoke. “Hi…” He took a step forward and he watched as her body tensed. He stopped and ran a hand through his hair before words started desperately falling from his lips.
“Chloe, I know you’re still mad and I get it, I do, but I can’t keep doing this with you. I care about you, do you hear me? I like you and I’m not willing to give up on us.” She opened her mouth and he held up a hand, brows furrowed. “And before you say there is no us, hear me out…whether you want to admit it or not, we spent the last two months getting to know each other…opening up to each other…trusting each other.”
He paused and took two more steps toward her as she spoke hesitantly. “It wasn’t real, Oliver. You and I both know that. All the time we spent together…everything we did was because of Zatanna’s spell…I was forced into making decisions I wouldn’t normally make.”
The words were spoken with little conviction and Oliver slipped his hands into his pockets as he tilted his head to the side and shook his head. “It was real for me…and I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that you wouldn’t have made the same choices. I know you, Chloe…I mean really know you.”
She swallowed heavily as his eyes met hers, a small grin pulling at the side of his lips. “I know when you’re nervous, you bite your lower lip. When you’re being playful, you like to hit or tease me about my ego. When you’re frustrated, you have a tendency to play with your hair while letting out long sighs.”
Chloe’s face softened slightly as he continued speaking. “You make the most adorable faces when you eat Thai food and you sing along to the iTunes library that you keep minimized on the desktop when you think no one’s around. When you kiss me…”
Oliver paused, closing a little more of the distance between them, voice lowering slightly, “When you kiss me…it’s like something is setting my body on fire. I’ve been with a lot of women, but not one of them has ever made the world around me disappear.”
He shrugged. “Is it cheesy? Yeah, completely and I sound like some ridiculous cliché but it’s true. I’ve sent you flowers, chocolate, coffee and even bought you two new computers and I’m not going to stop.” He arched an eyebrow in her direction as she nibbled on her lower lip.
“I’m going to keep putting myself out there…I’m going to keep harassing you with gifts and lavishing you with attention because someone once told me that the things worthwhile…the things that really mean the most…take the most effort and Chloe….” He made sure her green eyes were locked onto his as he continued to speak. “You’re worth the effort.”
She stood there, mouth floundering slightly as she tried to put her thoughts into words. Oliver had come in there determined to get her to listen to him and she had. Her thoughts were jumbled, but there were a few things she needed to say, so now it was his turn to listen to her.
Chloe straightened up slightly, swallowed hard and folded her arms over her chest, but not out of defensiveness, more along the lines of needing something to do with them. “I don’t like not being in control of things.” She paused, making sure he was listening and when he didn’t interrupt, she continued.
“There have been many points in my life where outside forces have influenced my decisions and actions, which it’s why I am the way I am. It’s why I take things so seriously and why I keep to myself and don’t let a lot of people in. Why I have an overwhelming need to be in control of everything.”
She let out a long breath, her arms falling to her sides once again as she used them to gesture while she spoke. “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me…I can see the changes in you Oliver, and I’m sorry that I was so short with you a couple of weeks ago, but regardless, it doesn’t change the facts.”
Her chest ached slightly and she could feel a slight burn to her eyes as she continued. “Your wish…you brought me back to that place. Everything I told you…that stuff is private…personal. They were things I haven’t shared with anyone, Oliver.”
He nodded voice soft. “I know…” Her eyes were red-rimmed as she caught his gaze and arched an eyebrow. “Do you? Because I’m not sure you’re getting the severity of it. It might not seem like much. Memories and small details about my past and my feelings, but to me…those were moments that defined the person I am.”
Oliver nodded and took a step closer to her. “I get it Chloe, but the thing is you weren’t the only one to put yourself out there. I told you about my parents. About before they died…and everything that followed after they were murdered. I told you how it made me feel and the dark path I went down afterward…”
He stood less than ten feet away from her as he motioned between them. “I invested myself in this…that night when I was with Zatanna…she said that I thought my wish. I never said it out loud…but I guess I did think it. Do you want to know what I was thinking about?”
Chloe tilted her head to the side and gave him a questioning look. Oliver smiled as he spoke. “I wished that I was surrounded by people who accepted and loved every part of who I am and who I could eventually become. I wanted the team back together and I wanted an amazing woman who understood this life by my side. And when I pictured that life, Chloe…the woman standing by my side was you.”
Her eyes grew teary and she spoke in a shaky voice. “I don’t know if I can give you that. I don’t even know if what I’m feeling for you is real or leftover from the spell and that’s why I’m so angry Oliver, because I care about you now differently than I did before.”
Her admission made him grin, but she wasn’t done just yet. “I hate that you aren’t around all the time anymore and I’m so frustrated that I miss you because I’ll never know now…don’t you see? I’ll never know…” He frowned.
“Never know what?” A tear slid down her cheek. “I’ll never know if what we have is real. I’ll never know if what you make me feel is really us or if my feelings and thoughts are leftover from the magic Zatanna spun. How can things work with us if everything we’ve learned about each other and everything we’ve experience in the last two months began with a lie?”
Oliver took a hesitant step forward, placing his hands gently on her arms and when she didn’t pull away; he rubbed them lightly in a reassuring gesture, a hint of trepidation on his face. “Is that why you’ve been avoiding me? Why you refuse to return my calls? Not because you hate me…but because maybe you kind of like me a little?”
The hopeful sound of his voice and the nervousness on his face made her face soften slightly. “I could never hate you, Oliver…I just…this isn’t how I would have wanted things to start between us. I’m not emotionally ready for a serious relationship yet…but at the same time I don’t want to lose you and yet I can’t help pushing you away.”
She sighed and shook her head. “I’m a walking contradiction.” He chuckled lightly and grinned at her, his hand brushing a stray hair behind her ear, causing her to meet his gaze as his touch sent a wave of heat through her body. “I sort of like that about you…and surprisingly, I might have a solution.”
She arched an eyebrow at him and his grin only widened. “How about this, you’re upset because you don’t know if what we have is real…so why don’t we take our time and figure out if it is. Let’s get to know each other the right way.” Her brows furrowed in confusion, not entirely sure what he meant.
“What do you mean?” He shrugged as he dropped his hands from her shoulders before speaking. “You know…I stop by with food, we talk. You let me take you out…we spend time together. Not as Green Arrow and Watcher, but as Oliver and Chloe. I’ll get to know you for the person you are and you can get to know me for the person I am…we’ll take it one day at a time and see where it goes. No expectations, no promises or regrets…just you and me, Sidekick.”
She bit her bottom lip again as she studied his face to see if he was telling the truth. “You’d do that? Start over from scratch….” He nodded. “Yes, if that’s what would make you comfortable then I’d start from the beginning…I want you in my life and I’ll take what I can get. If you need me to prove that you can trust me, then I’ll earn your trust. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and I’m still me, so I’ll probably manage to mess up a few times and piss you off, but at least you’ll know it’s real.”
Oliver shifted on his feet, head tilting to the side as he gave her a cheeky grin. “So what do you say, Sidekick…you game? Am I worth the risk?” Chloe stared at the man in front of her, willing her pulse to slow down. This was another one of those defining moments. Whatever she chose would shape the path of the next journey she took.
For so long she’d been broken and unhappy, but the last two months she’d experienced something completely different than she ever had before…ultimate acceptance. As she looked into Oliver’s eyes, she could see how badly he wanted her to say yes, but she could also see his determination if she decided to say no.
He was willing to fight for what he wanted and Oliver Queen wanted her. It sounded odd, even in her head, but it seemed to be true. Chloe took a deep breath and swallowed hard. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for this kind of leap, but she had racked up enough regrets for a lifetime and she wasn’t ready to tack on another one.
She released the tension in her body and gave him a small smile. “Yes…I think you’re worth the risk.” Oliver grinned and pulled her into his arms, lifting her slightly off the ground, causing her to chuckle as her arms went around his neck.
They stayed like that for a couple of minutes before he put her down, his arms loosening, but not leaving her body as he smirked down on her. “It’s because I’m amazing in bed, isn’t it?” Chloe flushed, rolled her eyes, and slapped his chest.
“Cut it out and just for your information…there will be no more sex until I’m comfortable with whatever this thing is that we’re doing.” He nodded, his face completely serious as he spoke. “I completely respect that…I’m just not 100 percent sure you’ll be able to resist me.”
She snorted and pushed away from him to make her way back toward the computers, but he held onto her arm and yanked her back against him gently, his face softening as he looked down at her. “But seriously…thank you…for being willing to try.”
She nodded before cupping his cheek, voice barely a whisper. “Don’t break my heart…” He mated his forehead against hers and shook his head gently. “I’ve got no intention to. You and me…we’re going to be the stuff legends are made of…”
She grinned. “You’re such a sap.” He smirked. “I’m pretty sure that’s going to work in my favor.” She arched an eyebrow. “Hmm, it just might.” He pulled back slightly, cupping her face in his hands and hesitated briefly before leaning down slowly, giving her enough time to pull away if she wanted to, before pressing his lips against hers in a soft kiss.
Chloe’s eye fluttered shut as she gripped his arms and opened her mouth under his, letting him deepen the kiss. When they pulled apart, she let out a soft sigh before opening her eyes to find him studying her face. “What?” He shook his head. “Nothing…I was just thinking that Zatanna was right.”
“About?” He grinned, tossing an arm over her shoulders and walking her back toward the monitors. “She told me not to give up on my dream and to fight for what I want. That magic is complicated sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t give you the push you’re looking for.”
Chloe nodded. “Oh, it definitely pushed alright…remind me to send Zatanna a little thank you…” Oliver grinned at the tone of Chloe’s voice and he doubted it would be much of a thank you; more like something that would drive the poor sorceress insane. “Now, now Sidekick, let’s not burn bridges…”
She snorted and moved out from under his arm before moving back toward the monitors and getting started on her work again. He watched her typing and warmth filled his chest. They were really going to do this. Chloe was going to give him a chance and he couldn’t be happier about it.
It looked like persistence wasn’t the only thing Zatanna had been right about. Her words reverberated through his head. ‘You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may, however, have to work for it.’ His wish had definitely come true and to think he owed it all to a chance encounter with an old friend and a silly wish. Oliver grinned. Who knew rain checks could be so rewarding?