Welcome to My Chlollie World...

Welcome to my blog. I've created it mainly as a place to archive my writings. Currently, my focus is on the pairing of Chloe Sullivan/Oliver Queen of Smallville, also affectionately known in fandom, as Chlollie. I began writing for this couple as Smallville entered it's seventh season, not ever really expecting them to become Smallville canon. So imagine my pleasant surprise (okay, I squealed like a fangirl in the throes of a fangasm) when the showrunners decided to put them together. I don't know what the show will do with them, but I don't care. I'll always adore them, and Chlollie will ALWAYS be my One True Pairing. I write about them for fun, as creative outlet, and because I think they're perfect together, and have the potential to be a supercouple, comic-book "mythos" be damned. The Green Arrow of Smallville belongs with his Watchtower. Most of my stories contain adult content, so please don't read if you are under the age of 18. All story graphic arts and manips are created by me unless otherwise stated. Feedback is always welcome. Thank you for reading!

And now for the boring stuff so no one sues me. Feel free to read it in that fast talking lawyer kind of voice, like at the end of a radio commercial.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Final note: I never believed in the years that I've loved this couple, that the show would do the right thing by them. But as a fangirl I just have to say, OMGOMGOMG! THEY ARE MARRIED!!! Thank you, Smallville for giving my couple the happy ending they deserve!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Signal Fire Chapter 16

Signal Fire

Chapter 16

Lex had explained the entire plan before pressing the speakerphone button, so that Philip, who stood hovering around anxiously, could now be privy to the entire conversation. “And what makes you think I’d help you?” came the deep, raspy voice on the other end.

“Make no mistake, ultimately we’re doing each other a favor. Let’s call it mutually beneficial,” Lex swiveled confidently in his chair.

Philip paced the small office, listening intently, glancing nervously from Lex to the disembodied voice floating up from the desk phone. That Lex wanted to involve an outside party, unsettled him.

Lex, continued. “It would be in our best interests to work together.”

“We do have a common enemy,” the sandpaper voice allowed.

“I’m sure you can empathize with my situation.”

“All too well.”

“Then I can count on you and the False Facers, Roman?”

The gravelly voice on the other end laughed sardonically, causing Lex to smile, and gooseflesh to rise, traveling across Philip’s skin. He shivered. “Taking revenge against Wayne. Kidnapping Wayne Enterprise board members. It’s right up my alley. But the Star City Gazette? What’s in it for me?”

Lex sat upright in his chair. “You help me take down Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne, and I help you regain control of Janus Cosmetics. Think of it; legitimate businessman by day, king of Gotham’s underworld by night. It’s perfect.”

Lex knew he’d find an ally in Roman Sionis. Roman had known Bruce since childhood, and learned the fine art of hypocrisy from his parents when it came to the Wayne family. The masks his parents wore in public caused his resentment to grow, festering over time. When Roman inherited his father’s cosmetics company after murdering his parents, setting their home ablaze, he’d run the family business into the ground. In a last ditch effort to revive the company; Roman had scientists develop a new make-up. Unfortunately, it went to market before it could be tested thoroughly, and the chemicals proved to be toxic, disfiguring several hundred women. Bruce Wayne offered to bail out Janus Cosmetics on the condition that Sionis give up control, and allow Wayne to appoint a new board of directors. Sionis agreed, but couldn’t escape the sense of fury and humiliation he felt over the entire incident. Since that time, Roman Sionis had taken to wearing a black mask fashioned from his mother’s casket. He’d become a force to be reckoned with in Gotham’s underworld, a criminal mastermind, with a league of followers known as the False Facers. Each member wore a mask while on the job, and in his presence.

Lex knew Roman Sionis, A.K.A, Black Mask, had reason to target Wayne. If Lex could convince him that working together would benefit them both, there was no way they could lose. Unlike Philip, Sionis would have no qualms about harming Chloe Sullivan. He was sadistic and ruthless, known for killing his own men on the spot when they disobeyed his orders, and for disfiguring his own estranged girlfriend. Lex knew the man was at best mentally unstable; but weren’t they all?

Lex smirked. “I know you want revenge against Wayne, just as I do. He and Oliver Queen all but stole my company right from under me, just as Wayne took from you. Together, we can beat them, Roman.”

There was a long pause, and then Black Mask finally spoke. “I’ll agree on two conditions,” he rasped. “All of your men must wear masks on the job, and they must follow my orders.”

“Of course,” Lex replied indulgently. “As long as there’s no hitch in the plans, and it all goes down as we’ve agreed.”

The phone line clicked dead. Lex sat back in his chair, a smug, pleased expression crossing his features. Philip closed his eyes, turning away.

* * * * *

After the night of the gala, Chloe and Oliver took a secluded weekend getaway in Malibu, where he’d hinted more than once at his offer of a lifetime ‘merger’. For someone who had wanted to wait for the perfect moment to ask her to marry him, his timing was awful, he knew. He didn’t even have a ring, but that was the least of his worries. There was so much uncertainty now, with the Green Arrow’s reputation teetering on the verge of ruin, Lex out there somewhere plotting against them daily, and Bruce’s warning to keep Chloe safe echoing in the recesses of Oliver’s mind. His timing couldn’t be worse. But maybe it was for those very reasons that he’d wanted her so desperately to be his, permanently; the eminent danger and uncertainty around them, creating the emotional need to keep her forever close to him.

“This will all be over soon,” she’d whispered in his ear, finally speaking after he’d made love to her on the darkened, secluded beach. The pulse of rolling waves lapping the shore echoed the rhythm of their lovemaking, and now the sea breeze cooled their heated skin. Her small hands made dents as she moved them, pressing down against the muscles of his lower back as he lay spent and languid above her, his forearms bearing most of his weight, his face buried against the curve of her neck. She held him there as they calmed, not wanting him to go, wanting to keep him inside her. “And when it is,” she sighed contentedly, “I promise I’ll let Lois know we’ve decided to make it legal.”

He could hear the smile in her soft voice. Lois had been after them for months since Chloe had come to live with him in Star City. Oliver moved his hips forward slightly, still sensitive there, yet pressing himself into her in spite of it. He loved it when she held him, telling him with her body and her hands that she wanted him to stay and remain a part of her. Sometimes after they’d made love, he’d stay inside her for long moments, surrendering to her soft touches and kisses until he grew hard again. Other times, they’d remain connected until it was no longer possible, and they both succumbed to sleep.

“I’m sure Lois will be glad to know,” he murmured against her throat.

“I do want to marry you, Ollie,” she reassured him, clasping him tighter against her. “After this is over.”

“What if it never ends, Chloe?”

Her hand drifted to his hair, fingers threading into the softness, cradling his head. There would always be challenges, danger would always exist around them, but there would be moments of respite, like this one. “It will end. It has to. And when it does, the tabloids will be wondering how much groveling and begging you had to do, to convince me to marry you.”

“Mmmm,” he rumbled against her skin. “The only begging I recall hearing recently was yours.”

A short laugh burst from her lips. “You love hearing me beg for you,” she whispered saucily, nipping his earlobe gently.

“I do. And I just might give you everything you want, every time,” he answered playfully, palming her breast, passing a thumb over her nipple and enjoying the small sound of pleasure she made. “I have to keep my sidekick happy.” He lifted his head from her then, eyes searching hers in the dark earnestly. “Marry me, Mistress Watchtower.”

Chloe thought back to another time, a lifetime ago it seemed, when another man had asked her to marry him. Blue eyes just as earnest as the dark ones she gazed into now, as he offered her a plastic kiddie ring. She thought she had known then what love was. She couldn’t have been more wrong. This man, the man who hovered over her now, filling her body, engulfed in her arms; this man was love. “Yes, Arrow.” It was the only answer she could ever give him.

Oliver’s face broke into a smile for her, and it was all she could do not to melt into a puddle of goo beneath him. His grin turned playful as he slipped from her body, and rolled them on the blankets, eliciting a squeaky giggle from her lips. Chloe, straddled above him now, began kissing him everywhere, her hands and mouth awakening his beautiful body once more, teasing him mercilessly until he was the one begging. Turnabout was fair play after all.

The weekend was over all to quickly, and Monday morning meant back to work, back to reality and the real world.

“Looks like Bruce has his hands full,” Chloe uttered, sipping the last gulp of coffee down at the breakfast table. She handed her portion of the newspaper to Oliver. “This is awful. Why didn’t he tell us about this?”

“Two Wayne Enterprises’ board members kidnapped in two days, and its only Monday,” Oliver answered, his brows furrowing as his eyes scanned the article. The board members had been taken from their homes during the night, dragged out of their beds by men dressed in black, wearing dark masks.

They lifted blonde heads simultaneously to look at one another, unspoken communication passing between them. It was Lex. It had to be.

Oliver folded up the paper, rising from his seat. “I’ll call Bruce, then head into the office later.”

Chloe glanced at the wall clock, picking up their dishes and heading for the sink, depositing them. “I’ve got to get going,” she said, grabbing up her purse and keys from the counter, eager to get to the Gazette, the investigative reporter in her, just itching to find out more information about the Wayne kidnappings.

Oliver grasped her wrist, pulling her up against his side and slipping a hand at the curve of her spine to hold her there. She gazed up at him quizzically as he pulled out his cell phone with his free hand, instead of giving her the good-bye kiss she expected. He pressed one of the buttons, holding the phone to his ear. “Ms. Sullivan is leaving now. Remember my instructions?” He paused momentarily before responding. “Good.”

Her brows furrowed as she watched him slip the phone back into the pocket of his dress slacks. “What was that all about?”

Oliver enfolded her with both arms now, dipping his head to press a soft kiss to her lips. “Nothing. Only that you’ll have company at work today. Bodyguards.”


“We can’t be too careful, Chloe.”


“Humor me.”

“You’re expecting trouble?”

“Trouble’s your middle name,” he quirked a brow, a playful grin on his lips, trying to dispel her worry.

“Oliver, what’s going on?”

“Just trying to keep Star City’s up and coming reporter, and the defender of the Green Arrow safe,” was all he would say, refusing to reveal his very real fear over Bruce’s warning. If it were up to Oliver, he’d have her stay home at the manor house under armed guard until Lex was behind bars or dead, but he knew she’d never agree to that. Having bodyguards escort her everywhere, when he couldn’t be with her, was the next best thing.

She knew he wasn’t telling her everything, or that perhaps he was simply being overly protective. She willed him to tell her more with her eyes.

“Just a precaution,” he answered softly. “After all that’s happened, it’s not unreasonable, right?”

She sighed. “All right. But they had better stay out of my way.”

“As long as you don’t try to give them the slip,” he touched the tip of her nose with his fingertip.

She rolled her eyes, the corners of her mouth turning up in a sheepish grin. He knew her too well. “I won’t.”

“Good,” he murmured in relief, lowering his head once more to possess her lips with his before she headed toward the door.

Like two dutiful Dobermans, her bodyguards stayed with her the entire day. Chloe had the urge to ask if they were housebroken, but thought better of it. They were only doing a job after all, no sense in making their lives miserable when her mood had turned sour over unwarranted comments from co-workers, and her boss, Mr. Byrne, as well. Having to explain the need for two very large men in suits to check the women’s restroom before she entered, and stand outside of it until she’d finished was bad enough.

Chloe submitted another Green Arrow editorial at the request of Byrne. People were eating them up, he’d said. The newspaper’s circulation had increased, and her editorials were the talk of the town. If she kept up the good work, she’d soon be sitting pretty under the Tiffany lamps.

In-between real work, Chloe tried to dig up information on the Gotham kidnappings, but could find no other new information. She’d called Oliver and he’d only said that Bruce was working on it, and that he believed Lex was behind it as well.

Finally, most of the day staff was gone or readying to leave. Chloe glanced at the time on her computer. It was nearing 6:00 pm. She fished her cell phone out of her purse, dialing Oliver to let him know she was on her way home.

“Hey,” she spoke, glancing over her shoulder at Doberman number 1. “Everything’s fine, normal day. I’m about to leave the Gazette building in a few minutes.”

“Good. I’m stuck here at the office for awhile longer, but I shouldn’t be too late.”


Suddenly there was a commotion coming from the outer lobby area, shouting, screaming voices, the sound of shattering glass as windows were smashed, the echoing report of machine gun fire. People began running toward the inner office where Chloe rose from her seat in shock. She blinked, not hearing Oliver’s panicked voice on the other end.

“Chloe? Chloe! What’s happening?”

Her bodyguards stood at attention, weapons drawn, but the crowd of Gazette workers streaming into the room, made it difficult to discern friend from foe.

“Oh my God,” was all he heard her say.

Dozens upon dozens of men dressed in black military fatigues, dark masks covering their faces, wielding machine guns poured into the room, blazing their way inside, herding the terrified group, aiming at the ceiling, taking out overhead lights. “Everybody get down!” someone yelled. “Get down!”

Chloe couldn't move. She watched, horrified, as people shrieked and cowered beneath the ceiling dust and shattering glass fixtures. Some of the men in black shoving desks and knocking furniture over, out of the way, clearing a space in the center of the room. A large body knocked her down behind her desk. Her bodyguard no doubt. Only when she strained to look over at him, she saw that his eyes were sightless, a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. Chloe couldn’t stifle the scream that escaped her throat. Another grunt, and thud nearby toppled her chair, and she knew the other guard was dead as well.

“Chloe!!” Oliver could hear it all, muffled through the cell phone, her scream ripping through his heart. What the hell was going on? “Chloe!!” He wasn’t going to wait, and left his office, pressing the elevator button impatiently, heading for the lower level-parking garage.

Suddenly she remembered the cell phone in her hand. “Ollie! We’re under attack!” A shriek of shock and pain escaped her again as someone grasped a hunk of her hair at the back of her head, lifting her up from the floor by her hair. A blur of green leather filled her vision. She gazed up, wide-eyed into the hooded face, shock coursing through her. Dark glasses covered his eyes, but she knew. “Philip?” she panted as his grip on her hair tightened. “Why?” But he didn’t answer; merely shoved her closer to the crowd of others huddled in terror on the floor.

Sick fear coiled in Oliver’s gut at the sound of her cry, his entire body trembling with adrenaline as he willed the godforsaken elevator to move faster. “Chloe!” She didn’t answer, but the cell phone connection was still open, the sounds of screaming and shouting and gunfire still coming from the other end. Oliver fished out his business cell phone from his suit coat pocket, dialing 911. Finally the elevator doors opened and Oliver ran toward his car.

“911 Emergency.”

“Yes, there’s an attack taking place at the Star City Gazette building!”

“We’re already aware of that sir, we have crews on the way.”

Oliver jumped into his car, fumbling with the keys in his panic and haste, cell phone still pressed to his ear. “Talk to me Chloe!” he shouted, pleading now, desperate to hear her voice, willing her with every fiber in his being to answer him. The phone line went dead, and he made several frantic attempts to call her again, getting her voicemail every time. He’d nearly tossed the phone out from the car window in anger as he sped through the garage on his way toward the Gazette Building. It rang.


“It’s Bruce. I know you’re on your way to the Gazette. Don’t go. Meet me first.”

“Are you insane? Chloe’s in that building!”

“And if you don’t go off half-cocked, we’ll get her out. Keep your head, or you’ll lose her.”

“No way. I’m going in there and getting her out. Now.”

“Listen to me,” Bruce continued to speak calmly. “You don’t know whom your dealing with. This is not just Lex we’re up against. It’s Black Mask and his False Facers. He practically runs the entire underground in Gotham. He’s the one responsible for the kidnappings. He’s already disfigured and maimed two of my board members. Don’t think he won’t do the same to Chloe. One false move and she’s dead.”

Oliver gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white as he drove; he could barely breath, his heart pounding with anxiety, the heat rising to his eyes, he pressed his lips together, teeth clenching as tears of anger and frustration threatened. Traffic was becoming congested as he neared the Gazette building, police redirecting cars as the roads surrounding it were shut down. He wanted to tell Bruce to fuck off, to leave him alone and let him handle this. He wanted to ask him what the hell he knew about possibly losing the woman you loved, a woman who meant everything.

Oliver swallowed tightly. “Where are you?”

“I’m at the manor house. I flew in as soon as I could. A source with a last minute change of heart dropped a few hints earlier, and then filled me in on their entire plan moments ago. It was too late to stop it. But we can still save everyone, including Chloe. Meet me first.”

“Son of a bitch…” Oliver growled, fist pounding the steering wheel, his voice trailing off, not wanting to delay further, every part of his soul screaming for him to get to Chloe, now. But he turned the car around, tires squealing, heading back toward Queen manor. “You’d better be right about this,” Oliver answered, his voice hard, threatening.

“Just get here.”

End Chapter 16

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yin and Yang: Chloe and Oliver Oneshot

Title: Yin and Yang
Pairing: Chloe/Oliver
Author: Genevieve
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Summary: Oliver decides to train Chloe
A/N: This little ficlet was inspired by manips made by kc_2009 of LiveJournal, aka Kryptochloe at Ksite , and used with her permission, cuz we make a great team like that. This is written a little differently, a bit quirky, but I hope you enjoy.

Yin and Yang

Day 1

She waits for him impatiently, not really wanting to do this. She doesn’t see a reason. When he enters the makeshift gym, wearing nothing but black sweat pants, she swallows. She wants to tell him to put a shirt on, then thinks better of it. She folds her arms over her chest and scowls instead to show her displeasure.

“Ready?” he asks with his charming grin, somehow knowing she’s not entirely displeased.

“I still don’t see why I have to do this.”

“I think the shiner you’re wearing is proof enough.”

She juts her chin out defiantly, well, as defiantly as she can with a black eye. “I handled it.”

“Right,’ he says, lifting her chin with his fingertips, inspecting her slightly fading injury, his brows knitting with concern she doesn’t want to see.

He tapes up her knuckles, his touch almost too gentle, and she notices for the first time how large his hands are in comparison to hers. He fits her with red boxing gloves. She feels ridiculous.

Until he stands behind her, and grasps her elbows. He’s only showing her the correct fighting stance after all. But his body is too close, and she’s eyeing the heavy bag warily. Good thing he can’t see her face, because she’s not sure if the uneasy expression is for the bag in front of her or the man behind her. Does it matter?

Day 5

They’ve been at this for five mornings now. In a row. Five mornings of torture. Stretches, yoga, meditation, Tai chi, mock duels. It’s not so bad really, and sometimes she enjoys it, more than she thought she would. Especially the first time she actually takes him down. She can’t help but gloat and smile. He laughs good-naturedly. Secretly, he’s proud of her. She’s sassy. He likes it.

Day 10

Maybe he can do handstands, but she can’t, and no matter how many times he’s grasped her ankles and held her up, her body eventually starts leaning in one direction or another as soon as he lets go. There’s a moment though, when she can hold herself up, and then she comes tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty, his hands grasp her upturned thighs in an effort to catch her, and he comes tumbling after, and somehow they’re laughing on the floor, and suddenly his face becomes serious and his eyes darken, and he’s looking at her with that look. Her heart flutters.

He clears his throat, blinks, looks away. “Maybe that’s enough for today, Sidekick.” He mutters, and leaves the room, heading for the shower.

Day 15

She’s sure she’s got this whole tai chi, fighting thing down by now, only now she’s fighting herself. He stands beside her in all his shirtless glory as they ease into the next position like a dance, and she wonders how she’s supposed to concentrate.

She doesn’t notice that he’s fighting too.

Focusing the mind on movements of the body is supposed to bring about mental peace and clarity.

Neither of them is feeling peaceful.

But maybe there’s clarity. Just a little.

She beats the crap out of the heavy bag later. He’s thoroughly impressed. But not enough to end their training sessions. Not yet.

She smiles at his praise. He melts a just little.

Day 20

“It’s called pushing hands,” he explains close to her ear behind her. His voice makes her entire body tingle. She closes her eyes, relishing the sound of it, the feel of his body at her back. Concentrate.

Pushing hands works to undo a person’s natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. She’s wearing this skintight black workout outfit. It’s torture. And he wonders vaguely why he’s resisting, why he doesn’t yield and redirect the force of energy she has over him. His hands linger a little too long at her waist as he positions her. He pulls her just a little too closely against his body. If his hands had a mind of their own, they’d be going places he didn’t want to think about right now. His breathing is heavier, and he almost groans out loud. And worse, she notices.

She has to notice. But she’s not protesting, and he realizes that she hasn’t protested anything in at least a week.

Day 25

Training with a partner allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner's intention.

His intentions are not good. Well, they are, but.. not. He’s sure she knows. She doesn’t seem to mind though. She flirts with him over the comm later during a mission. He eats it up. And right there in the middle of a mission he thinks he just might have fallen.

Day 30

They are getting good at this. Yin and Yang. Male and female. She anticipates his movement, and redirects him. He knows her too, senses her now before she even begins to move. He knows her in a way he’s never known anyone else.

She saves his life. He saves hers. She guides him. He listens. She heals him. He protects her. Watchtower and Green Arrow. Oliver and Chloe. Man and Woman. Yin and Yang.

He stands behind her, arms coming around her, it’s almost an embrace, his hands gently push against hers. Eyes closed, mental peace, and then clarity. And it’s all so clear now, so loud in the silence, it makes them both wonder why they hadn’t seen it before. Why they resisted.

Yin and Yang. Female and Male. Watchtower and Green Arrow. Chloe and Oliver. She’s become the other part of him somehow.

Chloe knows him. So well it doesn’t even scare her anymore. When he moves again, she's right there, he redirects her, she moves with him then redirects him. Male and female. Green Arrow and Watchtower. Oliver and Chloe. He’s become the other part of her somehow.

He moves, she follows. She moves, he follows.

They’re standing face to face, bodies brushing from breast to hip. They become still, as still as the silence between them. He’s giving her that look. And this time she’s returning it.

Yielding to the force, he moves. She follows. And when their lips touch, meeting breathlessly for the first time, there’s clarity. There’s peace. Yin and Yang. The perfect balance. Oliver and Chloe. Chloe and Oliver. Friends. Lovers.

End Oneshot

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Signal Fire chapter 15

Signal Fire
Chapter 15

In a span of two weeks, there were three more murders with all indications pointing to the Green Arrow. Someone claiming to be the Green Arrow called in a bomb threat to the mayor’s office that had all of Star City at a standstill for an entire day, a bank robbery. Terrified bank tellers and patrons said a man wielding a crossbow, dressed in a hooded, green leather costume along with several accomplices dressed in black fatigues, their faces covered with ski-masks had demanded the money.

Lex noted that Queen had been silent and nearly invisible through these incidents. Chloe Sullivan continued her defense of the Green Arrow, through continued editorials and articles. She’d been making a name for herself in Star City over the past weeks with well-written rebuttals to criticism of the Emerald Archer, proving the crimes to be the work of an impostor and creating doubt among the citizens of Star City, rallying many of them behind the true Emerald Archer. But the public wanted to know where the real Green Arrow was hiding, and why he’d remain silent over an impostor hell bent on ruining him. A call rose up for him to defend himself publicly. Little did they know, he already was, through Chloe’s written words.

Philip entered Lex’s hidden Star City office, removing the dark glasses, and pulling the green hood down as he tossed the fresh copy of the Star City Gazette on top of Lex’s mahogany desk, over some building blueprints he’d been studying and marking up with red ink.

“Is it over now?”

Lex’s eyes swept over the headlines and fuzzy video camera photos from the bank heist. When his gaze lifted to Philip, still dressed in the Green Arrow’s costume, his blue eyes turned hard and cold. Philip had been out making mischief tonight. “Hardly. Queen is trying to ruin me. They’re finalizing the takeover of LexCorp.” Lex pushed himself up from his chair and stood, rounding his desk. “And preparing to celebrate my demise with a big party in Gotham,” he said, stepping over to the mini-bar in his office.

“Tess ruined you. Not Queen.”

Lex grasped the nearest bottle, smirking lightly. “Yes. And she’s dead.”

“When will this stop?”

“When I’ve achieved the complete and utter downfall of Oliver Queen,” Lex retorted, as if that were obvious.

“Mr. Luthor.”

“No one is indestructible, Philip.”

“Including yourself.”

Lex poured amber liquid into a glass. “I like that about you. You’re not afraid to speak your mind.”

“When,” Philip demanded.

“There’s one more thing I have in mind,” he gestured toward his desk, where he’d been working on the newest plan.

Philip’s eyes flicked briefly toward the building schematics on the desk; half covered by the newspaper he’d just tossed there. He waited. “Attack them at the party?”

A short haughty laugh escaped the back of Lex’s throat. “Come now, Philip. Wouldn’t that be too obvious?” Lex took a seat behind his desk once more; drink in hand. He swirled it around, gazing into the liquid as though it held all the answers. “How do you feel about visiting your old place of employment?” Lex lifted his eyes then, gauging Philip’s response.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, all those editorials in praise of the Green Arrow. Every time the he commits a crime, she seems to find all the inconsistencies in the evidence, all the mistakes, and she turns them around, thwarting our efforts, turning them into one big conspiracy theory against the Green Arrow. People believe what she writes. It’s a bit annoying, don’t you think?” Lex leaned back in his chair, lifting the glass to his lips, sipping quietly as he eyed Philip over the rim.

For all he’d turned completely to the side of darkness, Philip’s heart wrenched at Lex’s implication. Chloe was the only secret light that remained inside of him. Something precious he kept hidden away from the world, most times even from himself. Gone were dreams of a home and family and a quiet life as a reporter in Metropolis. He’d become someone else now. Someone he didn’t care to know, or consider too closely. “You want Queen, fine. Go after him. You don’t need Chloe Sullivan.”

“I do want Queen, I am going after him, and Chloe Sullivan is the best way to achieve my goal. You know that as well as I do, maybe better,” he intoned meaningfully. “Let’s give her one last thing to write about, shall we?”

“What are you planning?”

“Next week. Monday morning, the Green Arrow will call in a bomb threat from the Star City Gazette building.”

“Another bomb threat?”

“This one’s real.”

“Mr. Luthor…”

“You’ll need all the men we can round up. Rig the entire building with explosives, then swarm it, holding hostages, releasing them gradually over a period of time of course, with the exception of one; Ms. Sullivan. And then we barter for her life. Queen would pay whatever price the ‘Green Arrow’ demanded, I’m sure,” Lex nearly smiled at the twisted irony of it all, his eyes glazing over briefly, as he imagined the scene and how it would all unfold. “What do you think, ten million? That would be nothing to Queen, especially to save the woman he loved.” Lex took another sip of his drink, relishing the burn as the liquid warmed his throat.

“Mr. Luthor…”

“Once the drop is made,” Lex put his now empty glass down on the desk with finality. “You’ll have to kill her,” he went on unaffected, rising once more from his chair, and moving closer, stepping around Philip. “The ‘Green Arrow’ kills the one person who’s been his staunchest public supporter. I think that would put an end to the debate, don’t you?”

Philip’s lips pressed together, thinning in an anguished grimace; every part of his body and soul screaming to be released from this dark, inescapable prison. He’d gone too far, was in too deep, and now there seemed to be no way out. He shook his head, one simple word leaving him in a fervent rush, his voice deepening like gravel. “No.”

“Your concern for Ms. Sullivan is noted, and oddly, quite touching. But if you don’t kill her, one of my other men will,” Lex threatened smoothly, circling Philip, coming to stand behind him as Philip turned his gaze to the floor between his feet, his breath becoming erratic, the heat of the form-fitting, green leather costume suffocating him.

He continued to shake his head. “No,” he ground out with rough anxiety.

“Kill her. Kill her and get her out of your blood once and for all.” Lex lowered his voice meaningfully, taunting quietly close behind. “She’ll never be yours Philip. Not now. Not ever. You’ll never have her. How does it feel knowing that? Having to live with that knowledge?” Lex lowered his head, stopping momentarily, his voice hard and resentful. “I know what it’s like to love a woman you can never have. It’s not fair that a man like Oliver Queen has a woman like Chloe by his side. He doesn’t deserve her love. Not the way you do. But there is something you can do about the injustice.”

At this Philip turned around, anguished eyes staring at the man in front of him in disbelief. Killing Chloe would be killing the last decent part of himself that remained. “I can’t.”

Lex returned Philip’s gaze. “Take from Oliver Queen what you’ve been denied,” he urged, his voice was velvet, yet edged with steel. “Destroy that which you can never have; finally be rid of her. It’s the only way to keep her from haunting you forever, and wondering ‘what if’. You owe me Philip. You owe me your life, twice over. I own you. Chloe Sullivan dies on Monday. Would you rather she die by someone else’s hand, or yours?”

* * * * *

Every day he read the papers, news feeds, the Internet articles about the latest crimes the Green Arrow had committed. And every time, Chloe was right behind the scenes, getting information from police sources, the coroner’s office, investigators; completing her own research. She’d written some of the most amazing work he’d ever read, and though he anguished over the horrible things done by someone using one of his costumes and his gear, he couldn’t come out publicly and simply proclaim himself as the Green Arrow; he couldn’t defend himself. Chloe was his best chance of fighting back right now.

She’d watch him silently as he read the latest. Watched his face. The sadness, the anger, the frustration that crossed his features, feeling helpless to do much more than use the power of the pen to fight back. She’d go to him silently, and gently lay her hands on his shoulders, and he’d reach for her, accepting her comfort, and offering his own.

Until Lex made a grave mistake, until he made a move, it seemed there was nothing more they could do. They didn’t know where he was, or how he’d been orchestrating events, or where he’d strike next. They didn’t know who had been posing as the Green Arrow. Was it Philip? Chloe had her suspicions. Philip and Oliver were of similar build and height. The suit would probably fit him. She tried to remember any other guards who might be able to don the green leather, but they were a blur in her mind. She hadn’t paid close enough attention in the sea of nameless, faceless guards in black fatigues in their time at Black Creek.

It weighed heavily on both of them, but Chloe wasn’t going to give up. So when the final merger was completed, and Bruce had invited them to celebrate the takeover of LexCorp with a gala, meant mainly to create public spectacle as an insult to Lex, Chloe insisted that they go. Since they’d returned from Black Creek, they’d remained somewhat secluded in the manor. They had to put on a show, for the public, and most of all to show Lex that no matter what he did, he wouldn’t stop them. Besides, she’d said, as she’d wrapped her arms around his neck; it would be the first time they’d been out at such a swanky event in awhile, and it was a good excuse to enjoy themselves for the first time in weeks. Oliver’s answering smile, and the soft kiss pressed to her forehead lightened her heart.

Despite the recent turmoil, Chloe couldn’t help but be a bit excited. She’d never been to Gotham City before. The city was a mix of old and new, brick and glass, gothic and modern structures that said eclectic, if not confused. Somehow it worked, and Chloe found herself quite intrigued and fascinated by it all.

As soon as Oliver exited the limo in front of the Gotham Arts Centre, the camera flashes erupted, interspersed with those calling his name, and asking who accompanied him. Was there someone new? Had Ms. Sullivan left him after the rumors of his infidelity were published weeks ago? They quieted somewhat as he reached for her, waiting. Oliver winked at her as they shared a smile, then took her hand in his, giving her an affectionate squeeze. At once, a deluge of lights flashed rapidly, and the sounds of voices, whistles, catcalls, and a few cheers rose up at the sight of Ms. Sullivan dressed in a white halter gown. She was beautiful. Oliver’s eyes danced with amusement as he looked at her, and then he turned, presenting her proudly. Oliver stopped on the red carpet, pulling her close to his side, and they wrapped their arms around one another, Oliver leaning in, smiling for yet another photographer. A few paparazzi shouted out questions, which Oliver politely ignored, merely waving at the crowd, his smile genuine. He then whisked her away toward the entrance of the Gotham Arts Centre.

“Should they be so surprised?” she asked, as Oliver took her hand, tucking it beneath his arm, holding her close.

“We’ve laid low recently. I’m sure they were wondering.”

“I’m glad that’s over with,” she sighed, as they entered the building.

Oliver chuckled lightly. “Me too.” He looked down at her, mischief lighting his eyes. “They’re obviously happy that I haven’t traded you in yet.”

“Or that I haven’t dumped your rich, worthless behind.”

This time a genuine laugh erupted, causing Chloe to realize that it was a sound she’d missed lately. He stopped just inside the closed entrance doorway, reaching for her other hand and pulling her up against him, not caring who might be watching them. “How’d I get so lucky, Mistress Watchtower?” he whispered.

“Queen charm.”

Oliver kissed the smile from her lips. He’d have continued kissing her if a host hadn’t cleared his throat, welcoming them, and ushering them into the large reception room.

Chloe met Bruce Wayne once, when he’d come to Queen Manor to offer suggestions on the building of the Green Arrow room. That was months ago, and since that time, her curiosity had been piqued. She wondered aloud, “Are you going to ask him?”

“Maybe,” Oliver answered, covering her hand with his, absently stroking her fingers.

“I think he’d be a great asset,” she said, taking in the sight of the huge banquet hall, and the various occupants, all dressed for the lavish occasion. An orchestra played soft dinner music at the far end of the room. Waiters meandered about in white jackets serving drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

“I think he prefers flying solo.”

A passing waiter offered them champagne in gold-tipped fluted glasses. Oliver passed one to Chloe. “What should we toast to?” she asked feeling giddy just being out somewhere with him. She held her drink aloft.

He smiled at her, his brown eyes like warm chocolate as he regarded her. He raised his own glass. “To mergers. And I don’t mean the business kind.”

“The pleasurable kind?”

“The spend the rest of your life with me, kind.”

Chloe’s smile softened as his eyes searched hers, waiting, expectant, hopeful. Suddenly speechless, her heart fluttering wildly, she could barely breathe. She hadn’t expected him to… to….

He hadn’t expected it either. For a while now, he’d been waiting for the right time to ask her in the proper way. But there never seemed to be a right time. And now, the words simply left his lips without conscious thought, surprising even himself. He’d always been able to read her eyes. They betrayed her every emotion. He’d always known, since the first time he’d ever kissed her that cool, crisp night on the balcony of his Metropolis penthouse almost a year ago. He knew he would kiss her then, even as she sputtered her protests over why they’d never work; her eyes told him her true feelings. Her stunned silence now didn’t worry him. It was there in beautiful green eyes that gazed up at him. He knew what her answer would be.

A voice interrupted the moment. “Oliver.”

It took a few long seconds for the couple to tear their eyes from one another.

Oliver recovered first, turning to the man who’d approached. “Bruce. Good to see you again.” He shifted the champagne from one hand to the other and the two men shook in greeting. Oliver gestured toward the woman beside him. “You remember Chloe.”

Chloe blinked, regaining her senses, and lifted her own hand toward the dark haired man before her. “Mr. Wayne,” she smiled at him, and Oliver could see that even the brooding Batman was enchanted. Chloe’s smile did that to everyone.

Bruce took her hand, holding it in his. “Please, call me Bruce,” he answered, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly. “No need for formalities here.” Bruce squeezed her hand gently before releasing it. “I’ve been reading your editorials and articles in the Star City Gazette, Chloe.” He turned to Oliver. “You’ve got an amazing woman here, Queen.”

“I know,” Oliver grinned, slipping a hand at her waist.

Chloe felt the heat rushing to her cheeks at the compliments. Bruce was no doubt a charmer in his way as well. She wondered if it was a trait of all handsome billionaire crime fighters with secret identities.

Oliver lowered his voice. “We don’t know where he his, or who’s impersonating the Green Arrow.”

Bruce stepped closer to the couple, closing the gap in order to speak more privately. He cast a furtive glance around before speaking. “This takeover is hurting him more than we thought it would. He’s desperate. He’ll make a mistake, and when he does, we’ll be there.” He looked as though he wanted to say more, but cast a quick glance at Chloe, recovering a look of concern with a quick smile. He’d speak to Oliver later in private. “Enjoy the evening,” was all he said, before silently walking away.

After dinner, Oliver led her to the dance floor, where other couples whirled around them, as they seemed to stand still in comparison, bodies gently swaying in unison. Neither of them mentioned the earlier toast and talk of mergers, but each of them thinking of it. After their dance, one of the hosts came to ask Oliver to meet with Mr. Wayne. Oliver followed the gentleman out onto a veranda where Bruce waited.

After the host left, and Bruce was certain they were alone, he spoke, staring out onto the darkened gardens below. “She’s important to you,” he said without preamble.


Bruce nodded, then lifted his eyes to Oliver. “She’s a target.”

“She and I both know this. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“But it could be the last. Are you prepared for that?”

Oliver’s heart skipped a beat at the words, and he wondered what Bruce knew, but wasn’t revealing.

“He’s ruined. He’ll do anything now,” Bruce continued. “I’ve dealt with his brand of evil before.”

“So has Chloe.”

“She knows who you are, she knows who I am…”

“She’d never reveal that to anyone. She’s part of what I do, what my team does.”

“That makes her more valuable to him.”

“No different than any other member of the team.”

“You love her.”


“That’s the difference.” Bruce turned as if to walk away, then stopped, speaking over his shoulder. “Keep her safe. If you need me, let me know.”
End Chapter 15

Click Here For Chapter 16

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Signal Fire Chapter 14

Signal Fire
Chapter 14

“Ollie! Holy shit! Come look at this! Quick!” Bart’s agitated voice sounded loudly from the conference room in the Arrow command center. He rose from the overstuffed chair, remote control in hand raising the volume as Chloe, Oliver, Victor and A.C. trotted into the open space, eyes wide at the images appearing on the screen. The words, Breaking News: GREEN ARROW MURDERS? Emblazoned beneath the newscaster in large white letters.

“Oh my God,” Chloe gasped softly, reaching up to grip Oliver’s arm in shock.

The blonde anchorwoman spoke as they watched taped footage of emergency personnel wheeling a covered body from an abandoned warehouse. “It appears that Star City’s most famous vigilante may have inexplicably traded sides, as evidence implicates that either the Green Arrow, or a copycat may have committed more than one murder. The body of Adriana Spencer, ex-wife of former Star City Sanitation Commissioner, James Spencer was found last night in the warehouse district near the Oceanside Docks….”

“What?” Oliver’s astonished voice cut through the newscast, as gooseflesh raised the hairs on his arms.

“…. Preliminary evidence suggests an arrow, similar to those used by the Emerald Archer, was shot through the woman’s heart, killing her instantly. Police are conducting forensics, as well as trying to determine if there is any connection to another murder; the body discovered only this morning, identified an hour ago as Tess Mercer.

The image cut to that of a police official addressing the media. He spoke amid intermittent camera flashes, and reporters shouting questions. “The bodies of two women were found within a mile of each other in the Oceanside Docks area, each with similar injuries. Custom-made arrows, like those we’ve seen before, used by the Green Arrow were found at both crime scenes. We don’t know at this time, if this is the work of the Green Arrow, or someone attempting to implicate him….”

“Someone attempting to implicate him, you dumb-asses!” Bart shouted at the television.

“And we know who that someone is…” Victor murmured.

“Tess is dead?” Chloe could barely speak, unable to take her widened eyes from the screen as an image of Tess appeared behind the newscaster, before cutting to the next top story. “Adriana too?” Chloe gazed up at him worriedly. “Oh, Oliver!”

Oliver had left an arrow embedded in Adriana’s dressing table mirror. And later, when he’d gone to Black Creek to trade himself for Chloe, they’d divested him of his weapons. They had his arrows, his compound bow, his costume, voice distorter, everything he’d brought with him; they’d taken. It would be easy to use them to fabricate a crime scene. His fingerprints would no doubt be on everything, his bow gloves allowing thumb and forefinger to be exposed.

Oliver ran a frustrated hand through his hair, still shocked at what he’d just seen and heard. “Lex can’t expose me. Not publicly. He has no proof, but he can try to ruin the Green Arrow… and me, in the process.”

“But why would they kill Adriana?” Chloe wondered, still in shock, unable to help but feel a bit sorry for the poor woman who’d simply gotten in over her head in her attempt at getting back at Oliver over a failed affair. She’d paid the ultimate price for it; unaware of the true evil she was dealing with.

“Maybe they were afraid of leaving loose ends; afraid she’d talk. I don’t know…” Oliver’s voice trailed off as he moved to sink into the place Bart had vacated. He was weary of a sudden, and rubbed his eyes, resting an elbow on the cushioned arm of the chair, his forehead in his hand.

“We can’t let him get away with this!” Bart’s voice again, shrill and defiant.

“Have you heard from Bruce?” Victor asked calmly, seemingly out of the blue, causing Chloe to glance from him to Oliver in confusion. Why he’d bring up Bruce Wayne at a time like this was a mystery.

Oliver sighed wearily, lifting his head toward Victor, nodding. “It’s going down.”

“What’s going down?” Chloe’s curiosity demanded that she have answers now, especially with the events they’d just seen on the television. “What aren’t you telling me?”

Oliver took a deep breath. He had intended to tell her, but with everything that had happened, and nothing finalized he wanted to wait. “Lex gave Tess control of Luthorcorp in his absence.”

“Yes, I know that, go on.”

Oliver’s palms fell to his knees. “Lex was gone, presumed dead, Tess missing...”

“I know that too. What are you talking about, Oliver?”

“Remember the meeting I had in Gotham?”

Chloe nodded, recalling the hand-written note Adriana left in his pocket about the phony tryst she and Oliver had. “Yeah.”

“It was all about luring board members into a deal with Wayne Enterprises. LexCorp and the subsidiary Wayne Tech have long been rivals. Bruce and I have been buying major shares on the open market. An easy thing to do when both heads of the company are unaccounted for. Bruce got a few of his own people on the board. Luscius Fox helped convince the rest of the members that a merger would be beneficial. When Tess suddenly reappeared, she thought she’d be able to maintain control, and make major decisions, even with Lex around; when in reality, she’d have none. What neither of them suspected was a complete takeover by Wayne Tech. It’s in motion. We’re taking over a subsidiary of Luthorcorp.”

“And now she’s dead.” Chloe pointed out. “Lex saw her as competition.”

“No doubt,” Oliver agreed.

“Yeah, but now Baldy is framing you for her murder,” Bart interjected. “And that other chick too. Who was she?”

“She unknowingly had a small part in Chloe’s abduction,” was all Oliver said, not wanting to go into all the details.

Bart was insistent. “How can we clear the Green Arrow’s name?”

Everyone was silent at that.

Chloe thought for a moment. “Maybe we shouldn’t try,” She spoke softly, taking a seat across from Oliver.

He looked up at her, surprised.

“What do you mean?’ A.C. asked.

“I mean, no matter what we try, it will only bring more unwanted attention to the Green Arrow. Even if Oliver goes off on some saving the citizens of Star City spree, it won’t change the fact that two women are dead, and he’s a possible suspect. Anything he does now will only call more attention to him.”

“What about fingerprints and DNA evidence they might find? If they have my gear, and they’re planting evidence…” Oliver wondered aloud, leaving the rest unsaid.

“Still untraceable to you,” Chloe interrupted. “But if you go out patrolling, there’s a chance they’ll be looking for you, and not only the police, but the average Joe on the street might try having his fifteen minutes of fame by catching the Green Arrow. Besides, you do have a few other enemies aside from Lex, you know.”

Oliver rose from his chair, stuffed his hands into his pockets and began to pace. “We can’t wait until Lex ups the body count. How many will be killed with evidence conveniently implicating the Green Arrow before he stops? Who will be next?”

“You can’t go out, Oliver. You can’t possibly be everywhere at once. And they could catch you.”

“I can’t let more people die either Chloe.”

Chloe stood up and moved toward him, placing a hand on his bicep, soft fingers absently stroking his arm, her expression pleading. “Don’t do anything yet. Let me do some digging. Contact a few of my connections in law enforcement for more information.”

Oliver gazed down at her for long moments, uncertainty and worry in his eyes. This was a new kind of torture Lex had orchestrated. Oliver nodded finally in agreement.

Chloe immediately took up her place at the computer console of the command center. Oliver knew well enough to stay out of her way unless she needed him, and trusted her to do her job. She was good at this. If anyone could get to the bottom of this, and find information that would exonerate the Green Arrow, Chloe could.

A few days later, Chloe entered the Star City Gazette offices for the first time since her abduction, slowing in her steps as she reached Philip’s desk. It was empty. It appeared as though someone had cleared it out. Chloe couldn’t help the prickle that crept up her spine as she stood in front of the desk, staring at it. A copyboy passed by her, and Chloe turned abruptly, stopping him up short. “Tommy, what happened to Philip?”

The young man simply shrugged. “Don’t know, I think he just quit. Came in yesterday and got all his stuff.”

Anxiety crossed her features. Philip had been here only yesterday. Some nerve he had showing up here in the first place. She was silently grateful that she’d taken a few extra days off. She couldn’t face him again. Did he kill Adriana? Tess? Chloe couldn’t be sure, but it was a possibility she couldn’t deny and another shiver coursed through her. Yes, he’d let them go, but Philip was no better than Lex’s dog. One that could seem tame in one moment, and attack you without warning in the next.

Whatever stares and gossip she’d endured the week before over the article about Oliver’s love life had died down, replaced by the latest new shiny story. The public’s attention span could be short, she’d discovered. The newsroom was abuzz with the latest Green Arrow stories. People claimed to have seen him as recently as last night, something Chloe knew was not true; it wasn’t Oliver dressed in green leather. But if someone had his costume they could use it. And a debate began rising among the citizens of Star City over his guilt or innocence. Some were staunch supporters, others condemning him.

Chloe had discovered through her connections at the coroner’s office that Tess Mercer’s body had apparently been moved after death, and that the fatal wound she received was inflicted by a sharp knife, not an arrow. Yet an arrow had been shoved into her body, post mortem. When this information was released it fueled the debate, some claming the arrow placed after death proved that the Green Arrow was indeed being framed. Others claimed he must have stabbed her, then moved her body and shot her as a way of leaving his calling card.

Adriana Spencer however was a different story. She had apparently been bound and gagged, taken to the Oceanside Docks and was killed at the scene; a custom-made arrow piercing her heart.

Chloe’s lips thinned in a grim line as she sat at her desk, brow furrowed, eyes scanning the coroner’s report on her screen. Various fingerprints had been found as well as other DNA evidence, but thus far all untraceable. Still the Green Arrow was considered a person of interest in both deaths. Chloe blew hair out of her eyes and cleared her screen. Maybe she was wrong about not trying to do anything to exonerate the Green Arrow.

She squared her shoulders. “Time to fight fire with fire,” she murmured to herself, opening a new document; the blank page staring back at her. She’d play Lex’s game, and fight back the only way she could. It seemed fitting. She began to type:


Her editorial began by cataloging the major good deeds of the Green Arrow that had been reported and documented in the past year alone. She compared him to every day heroes; police, firefighters, EMTs, teachers, caregivers, any person who worked for the greater good or helped to better their community in any way. She compared him to Batman, and the Red Blue Blur. She rounded out the editorial by stating that we all needed heroes, and people to look up to, people who give us hope, and that the Green Arrow was just one of many. It was unfair to label him a murderer, and the evidence showed obviously, that the crimes committed were the work of some deranged mind seeking to destroy a true hero of Star City.

An hour passed, maybe two. Chloe lost track of time. Satisfied with her work, she printed up the rough draft, and headed toward the floor editor’s office. They gray-haired Mr. Byrne pushed his glasses back up as he talked on the phone, and gestured for her to hand him the paper she held, then waving her away. Leaving his office, knowing it was better not to press him, since he was more agreeable that way; she sat at her desk once more.

She busied herself with other things, stories she’d been working on. She waited.

And waited.

Two hours later the floor editor approached her desk. “What’s the meaning of this Sullivan?”

“I wrote the truth. Facts checked and all,” she defended simply.

“Do you know Adriana Spencer’s funeral is tomorrow?” When she didn’t answer, he crossed his arms over his chest as though considering this fact. A slow smile spread on his face. This would be perfect timing. “I like it. Best work you’ve done yet, Sullivan!” He walked away from her, paper in hand, waving it around, and tossing words over his shoulder, a grin so wide she thought his face would split. “It goes in tomorrow’s editorial column! As is!”

Chloe sank back into her chair, relief flooding her. She picked up her cell phone, excited to share her news with Oliver.

The following day, as promised, her editorial appeared. The paper received hundreds of calls regarding it; most of them positive, and Chloe was quite pleased with herself. Oliver was proud of her too, and appreciated her efforts to gain public support for the Green Arrow. Maybe they could fight this after all. In the mean time, they’d have to try to be one step ahead of Lex, yet he was a master at disappearing at will, and his whereabouts were unknown to the team, making surveillance impossible. Just one false move. He needed to make one move, one mistake and maybe then they’d be able to stop him.

Her desk phone rang the following morning.

“Sullivan speaking, how can I help you?” she answered, her voice cheerful.

“A deranged mind. Interesting choice of words, Chloe.”

Chloe’s blood ran cold.

“Do you really think your insignificant editorial is of any consequence to me? People will have forgotten it by tomorrow.”

She swallowed harshly. “Lex.”

“I’m not finished yet. But by the time I am, the Green Arrow’s name will be synonymous with terror. The murder of two women?” He made a sound of derision in the back of his throat. “This is only the beginning.”

End Chapter 14

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Signal Fire Chapter 13

Signal Fire
Chapter 13

Somehow, though he knew she was long gone, she was still there. He felt her deep in his bones. It was inexplicable, but there she was, seeped within him. And he wondered if she would always haunt him, or if this was merely an after effect of the serum they’d given him. He couldn’t believe it. The serum had worked, just as it had on Tess, and several times during his shower, he’d had to examine himself searching for signs of a bullet hole. Each time he checked the spot on his chest, there was nothing. It was as though he’d never been shot. And the swollen features from Oliver’s fists. Gone, as though he’d never been beaten.

Philip, freshly showered and dressed in black fatigues once more sat on the edge of the bed, hunched over, tying up a bootlace as Lex stepped into the infirmary room. He sat up straightening, lifting his head in acknowledgement at the man who probably now owned his soul. The knowledge was not comforting, not like the comfort of Chloe’s presence that still seemed to flow in his veins, but was fading gradually with every new beat of his heart. It was useless to hold onto it and he vaguely wondered how many times Chloe had healed Oliver Queen of injuries, and if that had anything to do with their connection. No, that wasn’t entirely it. She was in Queen’s blood, in his soul, and probably always would be, never to fade.

Philip felt no dread as Lex stepped into the room, eyeing him. It was more like resignation. Facing your lot, and living with it, even if it wasn’t what you wanted. Acceptance of something you had no control over.

“I’m glad to see you’re well,” was all Lex said as he scrutinized Philip with an expression that dared him to defy. Lex knew he had Philip exactly where he wanted him.

“Better than ever.”

“This isn’t over, you know.”

Whether Lex meant for Philip, or for Chloe and Oliver, he wasn’t certain. Either way, it didn’t matter.

“What about Tess?”

Lex’s eyes turned steely blue, narrowing, his shoulders lifting in a near shrug as though she were of no consequence. “You did me a favor. I returned it.”

“You could have saved her instead of me.”

“Let’s just say, you’re more valuable.”

“How so? This entire scheme was orchestrated for her.” Philip rose from the edge of the bed now, his frustration evident. Chloe’s kidnapping was designed in part, to restore Tess to health, and yet, Lex had ultimately allowed her to die. It made no sense, and seemed a waste of resources and time.

Lex turned away from him, to stare through the opened doorway of the infirmary, his gaze not particularly focused on anything. “Tess forgot her place among the ranks,” he spoke with a quiet coldness. “She didn’t know the meaning of discipline. Tess was power hungry. Thought she could control me.” He turned his head in Philip’s direction, speaking over his shoulder. “She’d been making decisions about Luthorcorp in my absence that were contrary to my wishes, behind my back. She wanted it all for herself.” Lex turned fully to face Philip once more. “And now I have to clean up her mess.”

“By getting rid of her.” Philip never liked Tess, but taking her life was not what he’d planned, and that he’d unwittingly done Lex’s bidding by disposing of her, did not sit well with him. Had he once again been Lex’s puppet, controlled by invisible strings?

“It’s a start. Unfortunate, but necessary.”

Somehow Philip didn’t believe Lex thought it unfortunate at all. He swallowed visibly, wondering if Lex knew he was the one to let Chloe and Oliver go. “So now what?”

“We carry on,” Lex stated matter-of-factly. “We know the true identity of the Green Arrow. That’s a victory in and of itself.”

'He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight,'” Philip retorted. “'If your enemy is in superior strength, evade him,'” he continued, quoting the passage from memory.

The corners of Lex’s mouth curled up slightly at the reference as he took a step closer. “Sun Tzu also said, ‘The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.’

“I’ve seen them together; I’ve had a chance to observe them more closely than you have. Their bond is stronger than you think.”

“There will be another opportunity, Philip. I’m not worried.” And he wasn’t. He knew despite whatever misgivings Philip might have over the entire situation, that Philip would follow him. He owned Philip body and soul as surely as he owned Luthorcorp down to the last brick.

Philip knew it too. And as this realization dawned, the reluctant acquiescence that appeared on his face spoke volumes, as he watched Lex turn away, leaving the room, victorious even in this.

* * * * *

They slept the entire night through, too exhausted to do much else once they reached the manor house. Light filtering into their bedroom caused them both to awaken moments apart from one another, and though each knew the other was awake, neither of them spoke, simply holding one another, eyes closed, unwilling to leave their bed. They shifted, Chloe lay her head, cheek pressed against his chest, as strong arms moved to cradle her.

They lay there naked together, each of them lost in their own thoughts as the dreamy, comforting fog of sleep lifted, and they had to face the harsh reality of the events of the past few days. Chloe didn’t think the visions of Oliver’s mutilated body strung up before her, would ever leave her for as long as she lived, and her hand rose once more to caress the smooth skin of his chest, over the hard contours to trail down his sculpted torso, as though to reassure herself for the umpteenth time, that there were no marks or injuries.

Oliver divined her thoughts, taking her hand and pressing it against his ribs, holding it there, his hand large and warm covering hers. She had checked him over a least a dozen times, running her hands over him, making him turn around for her inspection. She’d even healed his bruised knuckles against his wishes. He wouldn’t fight her over it, knowing how tortured she’d been after she bore witness to what was done to him. But he had endured it too, and thoughts of Tess tormenting him with words, the slice of the blade, against his flesh, the plunging of her knife into his gut and then his chest, made him grimace at the thought of it. And Lex. His face swam before Oliver’s closed eyelids, taunting him with threats against Chloe, lashing him with the whip so that his entire body was flooded, engulfed in a shock of pain. Oliver pressed his lips to Chloe’s hair, nuzzling her in an effort to rid himself of the visions.

Tess. He should have killed her while he had the chance. After all she’d done to him and to Chloe, he’d have felt no remorse over it. Chloe moved against him in answer to his kisses, snuggling closer, her leg rubbing up and down over his. She made a sleepy sound of contentment. He could have killed Tess, but would Chloe have forgiven him for it? Maybe she would have, but Oliver couldn’t take that chance. She was always the voice of reason, whenever he’d acted impulsively, yet he knew that she had attacked Tess as well, and maybe she would have understood. She’d reminded him once that it wasn’t up to them, that it was what separated them from people like Lex. If he had killed Tess, he’d have become what she was.

Lex was alive. Where he’d been, and what he’d been doing for the past year was a complete mystery. They’d tried to find him, and even when Chloe had once possessed Brainiac’s intelligence, she could not locate him. Lex knew. He knew the identity of the Green Arrow. What would he do with this knowledge? Now more than ever, he and Chloe would be targets. Oliver didn’t think Lex would go public with the information. It would be too difficult to prove, and unless Lex was prepared for a lawsuit of libel or slander, he’d have to keep his knowledge of the Green Arrow’s true identity to himself. But that made him more dangerous.

Maybe there was a way out of this, a way to buy them some time, and lots of it.

“If your thoughts were any louder…” she murmured playfully against his skin.

“You woke me up with yours,” he teased softly.

There was a long pause before she spoke. “Ollie…I can’t… I can’t get it out of my head. I can’t stop picturing you…”

“Shhh…” he soothed, stroking her hair, pressing more soft kisses to the top of her head.

“Lex and Tess. They aren’t finished with us. You know that,” she whispered. “And the Green Arrow…. They know, and…” her voice began to rise in panic. “What should we do? We have to do something, Ollie…”

Oliver rolled them, effectively quieting her, moving her onto her back. Large hands encircled her wrists, holding them captive against the mattress near her head, he pinned her with his body. His head descended, pressing soft kisses to her cheek, lips trailing softly down over her jaw line and throat, where he stopped to nuzzle at the curve of her neck. He breathed more kisses there. Oliver didn’t want to think. Not right now. He wanted to forget Lex, Tess, Philip, his torture; Chloe’s tear streaked face as she wept over his broken body. She’d suffered, probably more than he had. She not only had to witness his torture, she’d endured his physical pain as well, upon healing him. And then there was Philip, with his hands all over her, creating a jealousy Oliver could no longer pretend he didn’t feel… and now all Oliver wanted was to make her feel good, make her forget for awhile, give her some pleasure in the only way he could at this moment.

They both needed to forget, right now. God, he needed her. It was an admission he could no longer cast away. She did things to him – made him feel things that he’d never felt for another woman, ever. Made him dream of a future he never thought he could have. A family. A home. Some semblance of a normal life. He needed her like he needed the air to breathe, and now his need to show her how much he loved her grew more desperate with every kiss he pressed to her warm skin.

“Ollie…” she whispered, vaguely wondering what had come over him.

“I love you, Chloe,” he breathed against her flesh. “Love you,” he whispered, over and over again, the words leaving him repeatedly between kisses as his mouth traveled, lips grazing her skin with heart-rending tenderness. He’d bare himself completely, without fear because right now, she was the only thing worth clinging to, worth having, ever his anchor, his signal fire.

Chloe was nearly surprised at his gentle assault. The air suddenly grew thick with emotion, and she found herself helplessly swept up in him. He’d told her he loved her before this, but Oliver could be quite stoic, and his actions spoke louder than his words. Something about him in this moment was different. He was humbled, exposed, raw, and open after all they’d endured. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t meant it those other times, but now the power and purity of his words, spoken softly and fervently, not once, not twice, but over and over again, whispered like a litany, tingling against her flesh seemed to hit home with new clarity and realization. The ache in his voice telling her all she needed to know.

“I love you…”

A knot rose in her throat, her heart swelling in her chest at the depth of feeling this man had for her, and she wondered how she could ever have doubted him. She shuddered beneath him; his voice and his lips sending a whirl of sensations as one lone tear escaped the outer corner of her eye. “I love you, Oliver,” she returned his words on a near sob, meaning them every bit as much as he did.

His body grew hard with wanting, pressed against her. “Mine… only mine,” he breathed the words harshly as his ardor increased, a low growl in his throat, and Chloe wondered if he’d been thinking of Philip, and what he’d done, how he had touched her. Oliver released her wrists; fingertips sliding down her arms, sending shivers through her. He moved over her, mouth grazing, breathing a path between her breasts, and over her belly, his hands following, caressing her body, until he reached the juncture of her thighs. Fingers spread folds of soft pink flesh as the first swipe of his tongue sent her senses reeling, her breath catching in her throat in a soft gasp. His tongue swirled around the sensitive nub before suckling it gently. She writhed against his mouth, tongue laving her with increasing intensity. Sweet-musky, feminine, he loved the way she tasted.

He shook her to the core. Her hands balled into fists gripping the sheets beneath her as her body arched. “Yes…,” she managed to hiss breathlessly. There were a thousand questions and concerns to worry over, but in this moment, Chloe didn’t care about any of them. She was with the man she loved, safe for now and his mouth was making incredible magic, making her forget the pain of the past few days. “Yours… only yours.”

A moan escaped her. Oliver felt her convulse with pleasure, listened as she cried out softly from the stroke of his fingers at the place he’d been kissing her.

She reached for him, desperate with need of him, an urgent groan of want passing her lips as he moved across her body. Oliver cupped his hands beneath her bottom, tilted her hips, and let her take hold of him, her small hand guiding him to her. The force of need pulsating through his blood urged him to take her, possess her, sink himself so deep inside her, and find the comfort and ease of his soul that only she had ever given him. A rush of air escaped him as he slipped past the folds of her slick entrance, impaling her. Her hands gripped him the way the tight heat of her body gripped him. His hips began to move in delicious rhythm. Familiar, comfortable, and nothing on earth could be more right than this. The past didn’t matter, there was only now, and whatever the future would bring. Each of them knowing that no matter what tomorrow held for them, they would face it together.

Sensations rolled over her like a tidal wave as he pushed her into rapture, immersing himself deeper and harder with every thrust. Shudders wracked her body, until he knew she was so far gone, the last vestiges of his control shattered, and sweet release flooded them both in prolonged ecstasy.

Oliver dropped soft kisses on her face and throat as each of them struggled for air. But he wouldn’t leave her body. Not yet. He sank down upon her gently, his heart hammering in his chest. It was her turn to cradle him, stroke his heated skin, caress him. After a time, he slipped out of her warmth, and she pulled him to her breast, closer. Oliver’s eyes closed over; languid as her comfort surrounded him like a warm blanket, and for a time at least, they let the world fall away.

There was hope. Maybe. The slightest bit of hope that they could stop Lex or in the very least, cripple Luthorcorp. It was something that had been in the works for weeks. He’d been waiting for the phone call that would confirm it. “I love you, Chloe,” he murmured sleepily against her breast one more time.

“I won’t ever doubt you again, Oliver,” she whispered softly into his hair, knowing now, that after all that had happened, they’d never be the same again, and that no matter what Tess or Lex or Philip or anyone could do to them, no one would ever tear them apart.

End Chapter 13

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Signal Fire Chapter 12

Signal Fire
Chapter 12

Oliver didn’t waste time. The initial shock of darkness would wear off in moments once all eyes were adjusted, and he had to move quickly. The last remnants of daylight still faintly diffusing their way through clouded windows, would offer just enough light to make out various shapes.

He spun, heading back toward Philip, figuring his odds would be better attempting to slip past one person, rather than two. Chloe, to her credit, remained as silent as possible, for all the jostling endured as he whipped around, and moved through the corridor, squinting and focusing so as not to knock into anyone or anything.

Lex lost sight of them, and Philip heard the footfalls, sensed and felt the soft rush of air pass him, saw the hint of Chloe’s blond hair. “Freeze!” he called after them aiming his weapon in their general direction, but the shape kept moving.

“Shoot him!” Tess called, and when Philip hesitated, as the vague, fuzzy shadow of Oliver’s form carrying Chloe rounded the corner, she became livid, removing her own sidearm, in pursuit. “You idiot!” she screeched. “You could have had them!”

Even in the dark, Philip had the decency to look roundly chastised. “I couldn’t get a clear shot,” he defended.

Lex’s voice sounded from behind her, stopping her up short. “Tess, wait. They won’t escape, and if they do, we’ll find them, and if we don’t, they won’t survive the Montana wilderness for long. Either way, we win.” Lex took out the handset from his pocket, speaking into it as he stepped away, trying to survey the darkened area with minimal success. “Get this power back on, immediately!”

Tess shoved at Philip. “After them. Now! I’m holding you personally responsible for this mess!”

Philip did as she ordered. He could move faster, thanks to the gift of Luthorcorp legs and Project Ares. He tried to remind himself that he owed his life to Lex, but after all he’d witnessed here, he wasn’t certain gratitude was what he was feeling at the moment. This is my last mission, he vowed, thinking that whatever debt he may owe Luthor, should now be paid in full. And once again, his dream of moving back to Metropolis to settle down to a quiet, normal life resurfaced.

Chloe. She had fooled him, and he’d allowed himself to believe her, his judgment clouded by his feelings for her. Oddly enough, he felt no anger or resentment toward her over it. Oliver Queen was the man she loved. How could he blame her for using his own lust against him, employing the weapons in her feminine arsenal if she thought it would save the man she loved? Philip felt a twinge of envy as he ran, rounding a corner and entering a new corridor, searching for where they might have gone through the darkened facility. He’d give anything to have a woman love him as much as Chloe loved Oliver Queen. A woman willing to put herself in danger for him, devote herself to him. He’d seen them together. He’d seen the deep love between them; before, during and after the tortures they’d endured. He should have known. He could never come between them.

Lex thought he’d won. He thought he was the ultimate puppet master. Thought he knew all about the deception of war, and maybe that was true. But Lex knew nothing about the power of love, and that would be his eventual downfall. Even if he succeeded in killing both of them, he’d still never be victorious. For all Lex had orchestrated to separate Queen from the woman he loved, all he’d achieved was to further cement their bond.

Philip rounded another corner, and just as he’d once surprised the Green Arrow in an abandoned home, he’d found that he’d run right smack into a shocking, sudden fisted bomb to the face. Philip staggered backward, starbursts appearing before him, his eyes watering, nose stinging horribly; he felt the warmth of blood filling his nostrils and flowing down over his mouth.

“That’s for touching her,” he heard Oliver’s low growl as he attempted to recover from the blow, shaking it off. As he righted himself, Oliver spun, and Philip was met with a booted foot to the midsection, causing the air to whoosh out of him with a grunt of pain, his body lurching backward from the impact, slamming against a wall. “That’s for your little scheme with Adriana,” Oliver slugged him again, grunting. “And your damned article.” Oliver’s voice was hushed and raspy, yet filled with rage.

Philip, for all his training, gun still in hand; didn’t have the heart to fight back this time. And when Oliver began methodically pumping brutal fists, pummeling into his face and torso, like a prizefighter who had his opponent against the ropes, Philip’s legs gave way, causing him to slide down the wall, landing on his bottom in a heap. Pain thundered through him as he sensed another strike aimed at his head, fogging his brain as dizziness overcame him and he thought he’d lose consciousness at any moment.

“Ollie! You’ll kill him!” came Chloe’s panicked voice pleading from some nearby corner.
Moments before, Oliver had placed her gently along the corridor wall, when they’d heard someone’s footfalls close behind them. He’d handed her the gun, and readied himself for the surprise attack, not knowing whom to expect. That it was Philip somehow made his rage sweeter. Once again her voice had stopped him, and now she stood on shaky legs approaching them. Oliver stood panting, a faint sheen of sweat glimmered over his chest in the dimness like violence radiating from his skin, his knuckles bruised, fists clenched out at his sides, still in a fighting stance over the fallen body of Philip seated limply against the wall. He gazed down, eyes burning with fury at the man who’d played a major role in Lex’s orchestrated drama, daring him to make a move.

Chloe moved to Oliver’s side, and raised the Desert Eagle, her hand trembling with the effort, and pointed it at Philip, his breathing labored. “You did that?” she asked in disbelief, and he could hear the hurt and dismay in her voice. “Why?” She’d known he had been behind her abduction, but hadn’t known the extent of it.

Philip didn’t answer, only lifted swollen eyes to her, trying to discern her features in the darkness.

“You wrote that article? You put it on my desk, didn’t you? You had Adriana go to Del Monaco’s. That’s why you wanted me to meet Oliver there. There was no political source named Mr. Ambrose, was there?” Philip heard the click of the pistol as she cocked it. “Why?” she demanded. Her tear-laced voice cut through his heart. “How much did Lex pay you?” she asked, sniffling back the tears, her voice now hardened. “Was it enough? Enough to be bought and sold, and used?”

Philip struggled to catch his breath. He couldn’t explain to her why he’d done it. At one time he felt he owed Lex his life, but he couldn’t explain. Not now, when his reasons for helping Luthor no longer seemed to exist. She was right; he had merely been another puppet for Lex to use. Philip shifted his head against the wall to find Oliver’s shadowed form still in the same position, ready to strike him again at any moment. “Take her,” he breathed through parted lips, licking away the blood. “Take her and go,” he paused to swallow down the blood and saliva that had begun to fill his mouth and throat. “I’ll do what I can to hold them off. Just… get out of here.” And to prove his sincerity he added, “Take my gun. You’ll need it.” He turned the pistol in his hand, raising it so that Oliver could grasp the handle. “It’s fully loaded.”

Oliver’s body relaxed somewhat, and he took the proffered weapon cautiously. Chloe never took her eyes from Philip, her gun still aimed at him, shaky and unsteady in her grasp. She had regained some strength, but was not completely restored.

“Take care of her,” he indicated Chloe with a movement of his head. “Now go,” he urged softly, and watched as Oliver gently touched her arm, sliding his hand toward her wrist, easing it down.
Even in the dimness, he could see her expression soften, and for that Philip was grateful. Somehow he knew it would be the last time he’d ever see her, and he couldn’t bear to have her last gaze upon him, be one of disdain.

Oliver took the gun from her hand, un-cocked it, slipping it into the waistband of his black B.D.U. pants, and put an arm around her, turning her. As they made their way down the darkened hallway, she looked back over her shoulder, trying to discern the shape of Philip against the concrete wall. His black uniform made it difficult, but she knew he was still there.

He was letting them go. She didn’t know why, and maybe she shouldn’t ponder it. The sound of approaching voices and the echo of running feet had Oliver grabbing her up once more, pulling her along at a faster pace. He knew another exit had to be nearby, and he’d hoped they’d not find much resistance once they got there.

While Lex barked orders into his handset, Tess grew impatient with waiting. She wanted to find Chloe and Oliver; refused to allow them to escape. The games were over. There’d be no more torture, now all she wanted was death for them, and nothing else would do. Finally, she’d put her loathing and her rage against Oliver to an end. His end. She’d be rid of a man she could never control, and never have. She and Lex would finally be rid of the terrorist who’d attempted to destroy them. They could continue their work unmolested, studying and recruiting meta-humans to fight against the coming invasion. Chloe’s ability would be a loss, but it was a loss Tess could live with.

She glanced back at Lex, still attempting to communicate to his men, but most of them seemed to have disappeared during the power outage. It was no matter. She’d handle this, and settle the score once and for all.

While Lex’s attention was diverted, she trotted in the direction Philip had headed. Moving carefully, pistol drawn, her eyes searched the dimness, growing ever darker now with the onset of nightfall. Lex called after her, but she was too far now. She’d take care of everything for him. He had entrusted her with Luthorcorp after all; surely she could handle this.

Tess followed the path toward the opposite exit. That’s probably where they were headed. As she moved through the corridor nearing an intersection, something or someone appeared to be slumped against the wall. Raising her pistol, she stepped toward him. Lex called for her again, his voice sounding much closer now. She ignored him.

The dark object on the floor turned out to be Philip. From what she could see of him, he’d been badly beaten. She raised her weapon, directing at him. “Where are they? What happened?” she demanded.

Philip shifted on the floor. “He caught me by surprise. I lost them.”

“You fool. Get up.”

“I can’t."

“Don’t tell me Queen did this. I though you were… special. Did your added strength suddenly disappear?”

“I told you. He caught me by surprise. I didn’t know he was there.”

Tess didn’t believe him. She knew that Philip was one of the first Project Ares prototypes. She knew more about him than he thought. “I think you let them go,” she accused. “Too soft on Ms. Sullivan, perhaps?” She nudged him with her foot. “You’ve gone soft. You’re no soldier,” she taunted, her voice laced with bitterness. “Get up,” she ordered. “Help me find them.”


Tess was becoming more livid with each passing moment. This was her chance to get them back, to finally kill Oliver, to make Lex proud. She moved the pistol menacingly, cocking it. “You can’t, or you won’t?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“You don’t matter. Not anymore,” she whispered between clenched teeth, and fired.

Philip, already hurting, felt the impact of the bullet enter his chest. She’d kill him, he knew, but before she fired another shot, before he died here, he’d show her how much of a soldier he truly was. She’d said he wasn’t a soldier, she knew nothing of what she spoke. He’d endured much worse than this, seen things she’d never imagine, and with the last bit of strength he had, he reached for the blade hidden in his boot, grasped the handle, and flung it in her direction. And though split seconds passed between her first shot, and his throwing of the blade, it seemed to travel in slow motion, end-over-end as he watched it embed itself perfectly, exactly where he wanted it. He was a soldier. Philip felt his shirt becoming soaked with the warmth of his blood as he watched her, felt the life ebbing from his body. He still had it, and despite his pain, a small grin curved his lips.

Tess’s eyes widened, her mouth agape as she gasped for breath at the sudden, searing pain emanating from her chest. She lowered her head to find a knife plunged to the hilt into her breast, a numbness engulfing her; she could do no more than stare at it in disbelief, as though some oddity had suddenly grown from her. She couldn’t breath. Sinking to her knees, the gun falling from her hand, she thought she heard Lex calling her name once more.
Lex caught her up, before she fell sideways.

“Philip,” she gasped, and then said no more. She wilted, her eyes suddenly turning cold and lifeless.

Lex lowered her to the floor gently, and approached Philip. He crouched next to him. “I’ll get you out of here, Philip. We’ll fix you up. You’ll be better soon. Better than you’ve ever been before. We still have serum from Ms. Sullivan’s blood.”

Philip attempted to shake his head. If Lex fixed him, he’d only be further indebted to him, and Philip thought he’d rather die, than owe his life to Luthor. He’d never be free. “Tess,” Philip gasped, coughing up blood, unable to breath, barely able to speak. “I killed her.”

Lex lifted his head, his eyes narrowed, searching the darkness for her body, lying in a fetal position on the floor. A brief smile flitted to his lips. “Yes. Collateral damage. An unfortunate accident,” was all he said, then reached once more for his handset, calling for men to help carry Philip to the infirmary.

* * * * *

Oliver shoved the exit door open as a shot rang out from somewhere behind them. The sound had them both stopping in their tracks briefly. They looked at one another, unspoken panic communicated between them. Oliver pulled her through the door, gun drawn, expecting guards to be surrounding them. There was no one. It had grown darker, shadowing the compound and the surrounding landscape in a deep blue haze. He didn’t know where they were going, as long as it was away from here. If they could make it to where vehicles were parked, perhaps they’d find a car, hell he’d be happy to find his motorcycle, but he didn’t want to stay near the compound for too long, fearing discovery.

Philip had given them this chance. Oliver didn’t know why. Maybe the man had a conscience after all. He wondered who’d fired the shot they’d heard, and then decided that it was probably for the best that he didn’t know.

Chloe seemed to read his mind as they picked their way over rocks and through shrubs, coming around to the front of the compound, where most of the cars and other vehicles were parked. “Who do you think that was? Why isn’t anyone around? Something’s not right, Ollie,” she whispered as she clung to his arm.

Oliver stopped for a moment, feeling light-headed, suddenly realizing he was unable to recall the last time he’d eaten. Before he could answer, there was a whirl of dust blowing around them, and when it stopped, Bart stood in front of them.

“About time you guys got here,” was all Oliver said, causing the wide smile on Bart’s face to fall. Oliver noted his friend’s expression, and immediately regretted his tone.

“Glad to see you too, amigo.”

“I’m sorry, Bart. I’m glad to see you too. It’s… it’s just a long story,” he placed an apologetic hand on Bart’s shoulder, and clasped his hand, shaking it in gratitude as they continued to walk in the direction the younger man indicated.

The smile returned to Bart’s face. “Yeah well, next time you decide to go off by yourself, don’t leave stupid binary code messages that no one but Victor can figure out. Took him forever to decipher your text message. He got the flight records though.”

“Wait. How long have you been here? Is that why there are no guards posted?” Chloe asked. “And the power?”

“Yup. We took care of all of it. In fact we were just about to bust into the place when we heard the gunshot, and then saw you two coming out. Looks like you handled it pretty well without us.”

“No. If it weren’t for you guys cutting the power, and taking care of the guards, we might not have made it out. It was a stupid idea, and I never should have left without the team,” Oliver said as they approached the League van used for missions, hidden behind an overgrowth of rock. “They threatened to hurt Chloe if I didn’t come alone.”

“You should know better than that,” Victor admonished, jumping out from the hold, as Bart hopped in. Vic clasped Oliver’s hand in greeting. “Team leader still needs a team.”

Oliver winced at Victor’s grip, his knuckles sore from having used Philip as a punching bag. He nodded his agreement sheepishly, glad that the ordeal was over for now. What would happen next, he didn’t know. Tess, Lex, and Philip were still inside the compound, still capable of their own brand of evil, and Oliver knew this wasn’t over yet. The team would come back and take care of this place, but neither he nor Chloe would be safe as long as Tess was hell bent on revenge. And Philip. He had let them go, but Oliver still didn’t trust the man. The return of Lex was another story entirely.

“How’s our Tower?” Victor asked, putting his arm around Chloe. She smiled up at him, grateful and relieved to be among her friends again. “I’m fine, thanks, and happy you’re all here. I just want to go home.”

“Your chariot awaits, milady,” he grinned, giving her shoulder a squeeze before turning back to the van and climbing in.

Oliver turned to her. “Home. Metropolis?” He wanted, needed her to be sure.

Chloe smiled up at him, placing her hands on the smooth skin of his chest. “No. Home is wherever you are.”

Oliver grinned, swept her up in his arms, and capturing her lips with his, he kissed her so thoroughly and possessively, that Chloe knew she’d lost herself in him.

A.C. popped his head out from the driver’s side of the van. “Hey, I’m kicking your ass later Queen, but right now we need to get the hell out of here.”

End Chapter 12