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[personal profile] luminare91
Summary: Oliver has been missing for two years, ever since his boat went down in a sudden storm. Chloe is still grieving for him. What will it take for her to move on and live her life again? What happened to Oliver? Will he ever come back? And who's behind the mysterious disappearances in Star City?

Rating: PG-13 for the most part, however there are sections that are NC-17 (my first attempt, for the record) for sexual content. This fic contains violence and language. Chapters containing sexual content will be preceded by a warning.

Spoilers: The entire series, basically. The basic setting is season six with a twist, but anything is fair game if it works for this fic.

Warning: Again, this is AU and is a continuation of my fic Twist of Fate, which you really need to read first or this isn't going to make any sense. There will sexual content and violence.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, I'm just playing around with them.

Previous ChaptersPrologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6

Banner by [livejournal.com profile] geek_or_unique 


Author’s Note:
So it seems threatening is the way to go if you want reviews, lol. Just kidding! Things are heating up now, and as I said before, I'm stepping out of my comfort zone here, so as much support as I can get is much appreciated

Chapter 7

Definitely a major step back, Oliver grumbled to himself, a week after the benefit.

Whatever progress he and Chloe had made toward getting past their problems, had been completely obliterated when they’d let their hormones overrule them. If he hadn’t lost his head and tried to kiss her, everything would have been fine.

Since she’d almost literally fled into the crowd, Chloe had done an excellent job of avoiding him.  She claimed that it was just late nights at the Register, a couple of emergencies for Clark. And while he was willing to believe that was part of what was taking up her time, he doubted that it was an adequate explanation for why she’d so skillfully avoided him, even when he stayed awake half the night waiting for her.

The only thing working in his favor was the fact that it was currently Saturday and Chloe hadn’t managed to slip out of the apartment yet. He was going to do everything he could to fix things between him and Chloe. He was going to spend the day proving to her that they could just be friends so that at some point they could be more than that again.

***

Frowning, Chloe bent over her computer. It was Saturday morning and as much as she wanted to relax, she had way too much to do. Oliver was at an early meeting.

She hadn’t seen much of Oliver since the hospital benefit gala. The article had gone over well, thanks in part to a couple of quotes Oliver had given her the day after. Her editor had been more than impressed that she’d managed to get coherent sentences from the city’s former wild child. Chloe had been indignant on Oliver’s behalf.

Since then, however, she’d been given more articles which had let to several light nights. Clark had called almost every day, needing help, making her nights even later. On top of that, a story had crossed her desk a few days before and her weird-o-meter had kicked into high gear. She was actually anxious to talk to Oliver about it.

As if on cue, the elevator rattled to life and Oliver walked into the living room a few moments later, already loosening his tie. He grinned at her as he passed on his way to his bedroom. A few minutes later, he reappeared dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, looking determined.

“How was the meeting?” she asked when he joined her at the table.

“Boring and long,” he sighed. “Nothing out of the usual. We need to talk.”

She raised an eyebrow and looked up. “Something wrong?”

“You’ve been avoiding me ever since the gala,” he said pointedly.

Chloe groaned quietly. She’d been slightly worried he’d see it that way. It had been awkward for a while, but honestly she’d expected something like that to happen. They’d been seriously dating and now they were trying not to. Just because they had good reasons to step back for the sake of their relationship, didn’t mean it was going to be easy to pretend there was nothing between them. It was only to be expected that there would be some slip ups. She’d easily gotten over it.

“Oliver, I swear I wasn’t. I pulled a couple of all nighters for Clark and my editor was seriously impressed with my article on the Gala thanks to the quotes you gave me. He’s kept me ridiculously busy. I promise, I haven’t been avoiding you. I actually kind of need your help.”

Feeling more relieved and relaxed than he had in days, he cocked his head and moved closer. “With what?” he asked, welcoming the change of subject.

She bit her lip and her gaze flickered back to the computer screen. “Do you remember when I first got here how I thought I was seeing connections when there weren’t any?”

Oliver frowned. “You’re going to have to be a little more specific here. What do you mean that you were seeing connections?”

“Between the two murder cases,” she explained. “I was searching through the Register, trying to get a feel for it and I came across two recent murders that I thought might be connected. I brushed it off thinking I’d just spent too much time around Clark, dealing with the craziness in Smallville and that I was seeing connections that weren’t there because I was used to looking for them. Now, I’m not so sure I was imagining things.”

Oliver stared at her for a moment. He remembered that conversation. It had happened the first night they’d been in Star City, right before they’d talked about what had happened during the two years he was on the island. “What did you find?” he asked curiously.

“Another body was found a couple of nights ago. Since I’m on the city crime beat, the information crossed my desk. There wasn’t much there, so I hacked into the police database and pulled up the reports on all three cases--”

“You do realize that’s illegal, right?” he teased.

“Yes, I realize it’s illegal,” she snapped. “Now stop interrupting. I compared the cases. The people themselves have little in common, except that they have no family and were jobless. There was no one to miss them. The bodies were all dumped in remote locations, with absolutely no trace of what had happened. They were all naked and the only sign of trauma were needle marks. The symptoms don’t match any drugs in the databases, so the police think that they’ve gotten their hands on some new designer drug. But it leaves no trace. They’ve been ruled accidental overdoses.”

“And you don’t think they are,” he concluded.

“What kind of druggie gets butt naked to get high?”

“What’s the explanation the police are using?”

“That they were robbed after ODing. According to the autopsy, there are signs that the bodies were moved after death. But why take all the clothes? Shoes and jewelry I can understand. But the underwear? Who wants recycled underwear?”

“Good point,” Oliver mused.

“There’s more going on here,” Chloe said, gazing at the information on her computer. “I just don’t know what. Yet.”

Oliver groaned. “I don’t think I like the sound of that.”

“Why not?” she challenged. “It’s just like tracking down meta-humans.”

“And how many times did that result in a near death experience?”

She didn’t answer.

Knowing there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop her, Oliver sighed. “Just be careful, okay?”

She grinned at him. “Aren’t I always?”

“I’m not even going to answer that,” he chuckled.

“It’s kind of sad,” Chloe said softly. “There’s so much crime out there that the police don’t have the time to really look into anything.”

Oliver leaned forward, a pensive look on his face. “Was Metropolis this bad?”

“Before Clark started the whole superhero thing, it was pretty bad. Still is,” she added.

“Maybe Star City needs a hero of it’s own.”

“Yeah, but who?” Chloe asked. “The few meta-humans I’ve met who are willing to use their powers for good like Clark is have their homes in other places. And those cities need them just as much as Star City needs someone. And I can’t exactly put an ad in the paper.”

“Hopefully some day, someone will step up,” he murmured.

“Here’s hoping,” she sighed.

Trying to lighten the serious mood that had descended on the two of them, Oliver changed the subject. “I was wondering if you wanted to spend the day exploring Star City. You’ve only been here once and we didn’t see much. And since we’ve been back we’ve both been busy--”

“Avoiding each other?” Chloe teased.

“Funny,” he said, giving her a look. “Anyway, it should be relatively safe to wander around the city now that everyone’s got used to the idea that I’m not dead. And I’d really like to show you my home, especially since you’ll be here for school.”

Chloe laughed.  “Give me a minute to change and we’ll go.”

Smiling, Oliver watched her disappear down the hall, smiling broadly, completely relieved that there was nothing wrong with their friendship.

But the moment she was gone, the smile slid off his face and he turned to her computer. Ever since he’d gotten back, he’d noticed the higher crime rate, not just in Star City. While he was on the island, he’d promised himself that he would stop wasting his life. He’d started that in Smallville, with Chloe’s help. It had mostly been to be near her, not for any other reason, that he’d helped track down the meta-humans. He’d gotten some small satisfaction from helping others. But that had only been a side effect of being near Chloe.

Since staying on the island, he’d realized just how lucky he was, despite the tragedies that had occurred during his life. He’d done a lot of stupid things. Saving Tess had not only given him a rush, but had also given him a sense of accomplishment and wholeness that he hadn’t felt in a long time, something completely different than what he felt when he was with Chloe.

Clark was making a difference in Metropolis. Granted, he had superpowers and was practically invulnerable. But Chloe had been fighting criminals and meta-humans for years. She didn’t have any powers. She often got hurt. But just as often she out smarted the bad guy. Maybe it was time he did the same.

It was something he hadn’t thought of before. But it was an appealing idea. And he knew he wasn’t the first regular joe to try it. Now if only he could work out the logistics.

***

“So what do you think of Star City?” Oliver asked.

He’d shown Chloe all of his favorite sights of the city. They’d gone to the museums, walked through one of the many city parks that his parents used to take him to, and gone window shopping downtown. Chloe had been fascinated by the city, which had warmed Oliver’s heart.

Their last stop had been SCU. Chloe had thought it would be a good idea to know how to get there from his penthouse. They’d stopped to eat at a little restaurant just off campus and were currently on their way back to Queen Tower.

When she didn’t answer immediately, Oliver elbowed her lightly in the side. “Come on. What did you think?”

“It’s amazing,” she said with a laugh. “So much brighter and cleaner than Metropolis. I think I’m going to like staying here.”

“Awesome.”

Chloe leaned into his side, wrapping an arm around his waist. “What was it like growing up here?”

“No different than anywhere else,” he shrugged. “I spent most of my time at the house just outside the city. But my parents brought me into the city with them all the time. Mom used to love sitting next to that fountain I showed you earlier.”

“I bet you spent a lot of time at the beach,” she teased.

Oliver chuckled. “Not really. My parents died when I was ten. I wasn’t old enough to go to the beach by myself and they were generally pretty busy. The staff took me every now then, but they all had jobs to do. By the time I was old enough to spend the day at the beach by myself, I was at Excelsior. But I did spend a lot of time goofing off during the summer.”

“I usually spent my summers doing odd jobs. Your way sounds much better.”

“Yes, but you were definitely more productive.”

Chloe rolled her eyes. “Like that means anything to a teenager. I used to resent never being able to go with Lois when she went to see the general. I’d love to go see the places she went to.”

“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” he asked.

“Ireland,” she answered without hesitation. “I’d love to go to Ireland. There’s so much history there and it’s so beautiful and my dad’s got family there. Have you ever been?”

He nodded. “Once with my parents and then a couple of years ago with a friend for Spring Break. I’d like to go back though. I was too little to really remember the first time, and my friend and I spent the entire time partying. We didn’t exactly go see the sights.”

“So what did you do?” Chloe asked with sly grin.

“You really don’t want to know,” he laughed. “I really don’t want to be the one to tell you.”

“All right,” she pouted.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “You know enough about my more irresponsible days without me telling you more stories.”

“What happened about being open and honest with each other?” she challenged.

“I was referring to the past two years. Like I said, you know enough about the person I used to be. If you find out anything else you might go running for the hills.”

“Nothing else has sent me running scared. I doubt a few indiscretions would.”

He grinned down at her. “Well, you can never be too careful.”

A scream suddenly cut through the night, overriding whatever snarky remark Chloe had been about to make. They stopped short and looked down the street in time to see a young woman being dragged into an alley way. Without bothering to stop and think about it, Oliver took off after them, Chloe close behind him.

As they drew closer, they could hear the woman pleading to be let go and calling for help. Oliver sprinted into the alley. The mugger had the woman pressed up agains the wall, a knife to her throat, Without thinking, Oliver grabbed him and tossed him across the alley. Chloe ran up to the woman and, after making sure she was okay, helped her out of the alley and told her to call the police before rushing back to see if Oliver needed help.

He didn’t.

With one swift punch, he knocked the man out. His lip was split. The mugger had obviously gotten one good punch in.

“Call 911,” Oliver panted, wiping the blood off his chin.

“She already did,” Chloe said. She walked over to him and examined him closely. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah. He was a lousy fighter.” He attempted to grin at her, but winced slightly when the gesture pulled at the bruised muscles in his face.

A few minutes later, two patrol cars showed up. The woman was still standing outside the alley, her arms wrapped around herself, crying softly. Paramedics came to tend to her. Chloe and Oliver gave their statements. The police hauled the mugger into one car and an officer gave Oliver and Chloe a ride home in the other.

When they got back up to the penthouse, Chloe went straight to the freezer and made Oliver an icepack. She gently pressed it to his jaw. Smiling slightly in thanks, he covered her hand with his. She slid her hand out from beneath his.

“That was pretty brave,” she said with a smile. “And slightly awesome.”

“Thanks,” he said.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked.

Oliver nodded. “Yeah. He only hit me once. But it’s going to fun explaining the bruise to the board.”

“I’m sure they’ll understand. It’s not as if they can fault you for trying to do the right thing.”

At her words, he frowned slightly. “That used to be one of the safest parts of town. The officer I was talking to told me that crime’s gone up all across the city. That you can’t go anywhere after nightfall without being in danger. What the hell has happened to world?” he asked softly.

“I don’t know,” Chloe whispered. “I just don’t know. But it’s happening everywhere. At least Metropolis has Clark. But the cities with heroes are few and far between. I’m not sure what the rest of the world is supposed to do. There aren’t enough heroes to go around.”

“What if there were more?” he asked slowly. “What if someone else stepped up to protect Star City?”

“Then I guess the problem would be solved. But who’s going to do it?”

“What if I do it?”

Chloe’s eyes grew round. “What?”

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but I got this particular idea this morning when we were talking,” Oliver admitted. He dropped the icepack and began pacing back and forth. “When I was in Smallville, I thought that the hero stuff should be left to Clark. Every time we got involved beyond research someone got hurt. But I managed to save Tess and stop the mugging. I think I could do some real good out there.”

“So you plan on beating criminals up with your bare fists?”

He shrugged. “I was actually planning on using archery to protect the city.”

“You want to fight crime by chasing down bad guys with a bow and arrow?” she asked incredulously.

He smiled weakly. “Robin Hood was my childhood idol.”

“Ollie, you took down one guy. Fighting the criminals of Star City is going to be completely different, and incredible dangerous.”

“I know that,” he assured her. “I’m a decent fighter and I’m good at archery, but I’m going to need a lot of training and probably some gadgets before I start. But I feel like this is something I need to do. Chloe, I got a second chance. A lot of people don’t. The murder victims you’ve been investigating didn’t. If I hadn’t been out there tonight, that woman could have really been hurt.”

Chloe gazed at him intently. “You really want to do this, don’t you?”

“I think it’s the right thing to do. I think I can really make a difference.”

“I’m not talking you out of this, am I?”

“No. I understand if you’re worried. I know what I’m planning is dangerous and I’m not Clark. But you’ve seen the papers. Someone is doing this in Gotham without the powers. I know I’m going to get hurt. I won’t force you to help me or even to be part of this. But I’m doing it. It just feels right.”

Chloe gazed at him carefully. She’d never seen him so determined and suddenly the strange looks he’d gotten every time he saw what she was working on made sense. “All right,” she sighed. “But you’re not doing this alone. I’m with you the whole way.”

Oliver grinned from ear to ear. “So do this make you my sidekick?”

She smiled at him. “I guess so.”

Author’s Note: So what do you think? Oliver’s discovered the hero within, lol.

Chapter 8
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