Title: Fading Scars
Rating: PG, some mature themes and mild language. Nothing too serious though. Subject to change.
Summary: Chloe keeps vigil at Oliver’s bedside, trying to deal with her emotions, after he is branded by Zod.
Warning: None at this point in time, but I only have a rough outline for the fic, so that may change. Also, because this fic is so rough, I have no idea how quick updates will be.
Spoilers: Season 9, specifically Sacrifice
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the Smallville characters. I’m just playing with them. Please don’t sue.
Previous: Fresh Wounds Pt 1, Fresh Wounds Pt 2, The Road to Recovery
Banner by nivieniv Thank you so much for the wonderful banner!!
Author’s Note: This chapter is unbeta’d because that is how I posted it to ff.net ages ago. I meant to post here, but LJ was being stupid and then school started and I’ve been monumentally busy. Sorry, but I can’t promise that I’ll get anything written any time soon, but I haven’t given up on anything. I just really don’t have the time to write. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
One Step at a Time
In one smooth movement, Oliver drew back on the bow and released an arrow. It spun through the air, landing solidly in the exact center of the target. He smiled.
The burn on his chest was finally healed. Thanks to Emil, the scar was barely visible and would swiftly fade. Oliver was usually quite proud of his battle scars as he felt they were evidence of the battles he’d fought for the less fortunate, but he was actually glad that he wouldn’t have to explain it away. The cuts and bruises and smaller scars were easy to lie about. With it’s distinctive shape, he’d have never come up with a convincing story. But more than that, he was glad that Chloe wouldn’t have to see it. He didn’t like the thought of her having to see that kind of reminder of how close he’d come to dying at Zod’s hand.
Oliver sighed and set his bow aside. He didn’t want to push himself, or think about Zod. If he kept practicing, that was inevitably where his mind would end up. He’d been quite successful in forgetting that they were on the brink of war with a bunch of aliens. During the past several weeks, he and Chloe had only occupied themselves with league business when necessary and that rarely went beyond reading the briefings that Victor prepared for them.
He walked out to the kitchen where Chloe was making a pot of coffee. It was too late in the evening for most people to be filling their systems with caffeine, but she was going back to Watchtower for the first time in almost three weeks and she was definitely going to need the help staying awake.
Walking across the room with silent steps, Oliver closed the distance between them and slid his arms around her waist. She didn’t even start. She just leaned back and rested her head against his shoulder.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “I thought you were back there practicing.”
“I was. Now I’m not.”
“I see that. So what are you doing?”
Se laughed at that. “Thank you so much for pointing out the obvious.”
“You’re welcome. I’m just here to help.”
“Well if you want to do that, then you can let go of me so that I can make a mug of coffee. I’ve got to be at Watchtower in less than an hour and I want a little bit of coffee in my system before I get there.”
Oliver rolled his eyes, but complied and let her go. Settling back in a chair, he watched her bustle about the kitchen. It was one of the things he’d loved most about having her around the past few weeks. She’d become at home in the penthouse, just as he had hope she would. Oliver loved watching her putter around doing whatever it was that she was doing at the moment. It felt...normal.
Cup of coffee in her hands, Chloe walked over to him and sat on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist.
“You ready to go back to Watchtower tonight?” he asked.
She leaned back against him. “I think so. It’s a little strange to be going back after you dragged me out. I feel like such a different person now.”
“Well that was the point,” Oliver chuckled, kissing her cheek. “I was worried about you before. You realize that I’m not going to let you do that again, right? It was hard enough getting you out of there the first time!”
“I’m sorry about that,” Chloe murmured. “I didn’t even realize how much trouble I was in until you forced me to see it. I should be thanking you for that.”
He slid his hand up to her hair and pulled her down for a brief, but hard kiss. “That’s what I’m here for. Someone has to watch out for Watchtower. It might as well be me. I rather like the job.”
“I’m sure you do,” she teased. “Especially when it means that you get me all to yourself.”
“That’s just a side benefit.”
“One that I am sure you enjoy.”
Oliver deftly took the mug from her hands and set it on the table. She cocked an eyebrow, but before Chloe could say anything, he pulled her around on his lap and kissed her. His mouth plundered hers eagerly. He broke away only when he was desperate for breath.
“I’m not denying that,” he whispered, before leaning in for another kiss.
Chloe put a hand up to stop him. “Keep it in your pants, hero. I still have to go to Watchtower tonight.”
“You mean we, right?”
“Oh, do I?”
“I’m not about to let you get there and realize just how much work you have to do and end up staying there all night,” he said, his voice stern.
She just arched an eyebrow. “You have to go to the office tomorrow.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve pulled Green Arrow duty and gone to work.”
“So you want to go to work with little sleep because you want to keep an eye on me?”
Her eyebrow rose higher.
“All right,” Oliver conceded. “That’s only one reason. I’m as restless as you are but we both know that I’m not ready to be back on patrol. I need to do something to help or I’ll go crazy.”
“So you were hoping to co-pilot the missions tonight?”
Chloe smiled and kissed him lightly. “Sounds like fun.”
Victor had done an amazing job putting Watchtower back together. It looked like nothing had happened. After filling in for Chloe for the past three weeks, he’d been given the next several nights off.
Most of the team was still scattered across the globe. Bart was in town to keep an eye on the crime since he could get wherever he was needed in just a few seconds. Everything was set up so that the rest of them, including the old members of JSA, would check in while Chloe was on duty and helping Clark and Bart with their patrolling.
Chloe and Oliver walked into the Watchtower command center side by side. She immediately walked over the main console and typed in her computer codes. Slipping the comm into her hear, she spoke two words that had more power to turn Oliver on that just about anything else.
He walked up beside her and put on his own comm device. Sliding his arm around her waist, he said, “Green Arrow, online.”
A few seconds passed before Bart’s voice sounded in their ears. “Bossman! ‘licious! It’s good to have you two back. Tinman was driving me crazy. He has no sense of humor when he’s telling me what to do.”
“He was just doing his job, Impulse,” Chloe said reprovingly. She sound quite a lot like a mother scolding a child. Oliver loved it.
“No, he was doing your job and you do it much better,” Bart pouted.
“Impulse,” Oliver sighed. “What’s your status?”
After grumbling under his breath, Bart quickly recounted what had happened so far that night. He hadn’t run into much trouble, just the usual crimes. Oliver could tell that he was bored. Doing the same thing over and over every night was hard on Bart’s tiny attention span.
Oliver watched the crime radar and walked Bart through his patrol, leaving Chloe free to work on searching for the Kandorians. She contacted AC, Dinah, Courtney, and Carter, who were all in different places across the globe, looking for any signs of Zod and his followers. They hadn’t found anything.
After a while, she ended the conversation and focused on her own research. They had talked about the Kandorians a little bit during their recovery period. Chloe had mentioned at one point that she didn’t think Zod would go very far. She thought that Clark was his main target as much as anything else and that Zod would want to be sure that Clark was one of the first to face the fury of their attack. Oliver thought she was right. That didn’t make it any easier to track them down.
They worked companionably, rarely speaking to each other. When Clark signed on, Oliver led him through patrol as well. It had taken quite a bit of work to get the other man on board with the Watchtower, but he’d eventually started coordinating patrols and actually working with them. More than once, Oliver wished that he was the one out there. He knew that Bart and Clark could handle it. He just wanted to help. Every time he started to get anxious, Chloe would lay her hand on his arm to calm him and he’d remember why he wasn’t pushing himself to get out there. He was trying to set an example for her.
When Clark finished his patrol, Oliver signed off and glanced at the clock. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. That wasn’t unusual for either of them when they were on duty. They often stayed up several hours longer. But he didn’t want to encourage her to fall into the same pattern of behavior as before.
“We should go,” he suggested.
Chloe looked up from her computer screen. Her eyes found the clock and she frowned sightly, as though realizing that Oliver was trying to hurry her out the door. Knowing how eager she’d been to get back to work, he braced himself for an argument.
“Just give me a minute to finish this,” she said. “The search can run itself once I finish putting in the parameters.”
His mouth almost fell open, but he didn’t say anything. He wasn’t about to press his luck. One thing he’d learned about Chloe was not to question when she did the opposite of what you expected. Especially when what she had done was what you wanted. If you said anything, she’d end up doing what you had expected her to do in the first place and you’d end up where you’d thought you’d been in the first place.
Not five minutes later, Chloe logged out of Watchtower and walked over to where he was standing across the room, looking out the window at the city. She leaned against him.
Oliver nodded, but didn’t move. Chloe followed his gaze out the window.
“Thinking about when you can get back out there?” she asked, despite already knowing the answer. Oliver just nodded. “I’m surprised you haven’t been training harder,” she said slowly.
He glanced down to see her gazing up at him with questioning eyes. Oliver shrugged. “I want to be out there. You know I do. But, well, considering how much grief I’ve been giving you about taking it slow and not pushing yourself out of a misguided sense of responsibility, I thought I should take it slow myself.”
There was a beat of silence and then Chloe sighed. “You are an idiot. You don’t need to slow down your own recovery to teach me a lesson. You accomplished that weeks ago. The team needs Green Arrow as much as it needs Watchtower. Whatever you think about me and my problems, you should be doing everything you can to get back out there. I’ve learned my lesson and you’ll be here to remind me of it if I forget. So stop being an idiot and get your sorry ass back in shape, Arrow!”
Chloe smacked his arm lightly in mock admonishment before grabbing his hand and tugging him toward the door. Oliver rolled his eyes and fixed a grin on his face. He allowed her to pull him along while he was lost in his thoughts.
What if I told you that wasn’t the only reason I’m stalling? he imaged telling her. What if I told you that I love spending so much time doing normal, mundane things with you? I don’t want to go back to living in an empty penthouse knowing that the only time I’ll see you is when you come over for League business or when we’re going to sleep together. I’m going to miss being around you with out sex or heroism being on the agenda. I want you to stay so that you’ll realize that I love you and let me in so we can stop doing this stupid friends with benefits thing and actually be in a real relationship.
If only he could tell her in reality.
Chloe glanced over at Oliver, who had been unusually quiet since they’d left Watchtower. She hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t the first time that he’d lapsed into deep thought in the past few weeks. She’d thought it was just because he’d been worried about the team and not being out there with them. Now that she knew he’d been going easy on his training because of her, she wasn’t so sure what was going on.
Knowing that he was ignoring the movie that they had put on to relax to, Chloe turned down the volume and crawled over to him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
Oliver snapped out of his thoughts. “Hm?”
“What’s wrong?” she repeated more slowly.
“Nothing,” he assured her.
“I don’t believe you.”
“There’s nothing wrong, Chloe. I’m just thinking about training again.”
“No you’re not. I’ve seen you when you’re thinking about new routines to try. You look more excited. Right now you look...” she searched for the right word for a moment. “You look pensive,” she finally decided.
Oliver chuckled weakly. “I was thinking about training. But I was also thinking about everything I’m going to have to do when I get back to the office tomorrow. I’m going to be buried in paperwork for the next ten years.”
That wasn’t the whole answer. After all the time she’d spent with him and dragging his ass out of the gutter, Chloe knew when he was telling the truth, when he was lying, and when he was telling a half truth. She couldn’t explain how she knew, she just did. Whatever was bothering him was more than he let on. She was surprised by how much it hurt to realize that he wouldn’t tell her.
She slid her hand down his arm and wove their fingers together. “Why don’t we get some sleep then?”
“That sounds good,” he murmured.
Chloe started to stand, but Oliver rose faster and pulled her into his arms, carrying her bridal style. She wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face against his skin. The feeling of being in his arms was something she would never get used to. It was the most amazing feeling of being safe and wanted, something she hadn’t felt in a very long time. It had surprised her how much she’d enjoyed living with him for the past few weeks. She’d felt a sense of normalcy in her life that had been gone for years. It had scared her a little bit at first, but then she’d realized just how much she liked it.
They reached the bedroom and Oliver gently laid her on the bed. She crawled under the sheets, holding them up so that he could slide in beside her. He pulled her into his side. She curled into him, resting her hand over his heart.
In a matter of moments, she heard his breathing slow. Careful not to stir too much, she glanced up to make sure that he was really asleep. Seeing that he was, she laid her head back down.
“I don’t know what you’re going to me,” she whispered. “I’d all but given up on actually being in a relationship with someone, so I came up with with this no strings attached arrangement. The only thing is, I think I’ve got more strings with you than I ever had with anyone else. And I don’t care. It scares me more than I can possibly tell you, but I’ve realized that we’re not just sex buddies. You’re my best friend and you’re so much more than that. You’ve become this anchor in my life. You’ve literally saved my life. I feel alive again because of you. I can’t help feel like this is going to end badly, but I just don’t care anymore.”
Oliver stirred in his sleep, his arm slid up her side, dangerously close to her breasts. Her breath shuddered in her chest. She moved closer so that she was whispering in his ear.
“I think I love you, Ollie.”