Pairing: Chloe Sullivan and Oliver Queen/Clark Kent and Lois Lane
Word Count: 6.778
Prompt: AU Crossfire: What if before her date starts Lois convinces her cousin to take her place? This was posted by julie_chan for the Summer Lovefest.
Author's Note: A huge thanks to all my Chlollie girls on Twitter who supported me when my muse was not cooperating with this story.
Stop and stare
I think I'm moving, but I go nowhere
Yeah, I know that everyone gets scared
Clark Kent sat in the production booth watching a video feed of an empty Ace of Clubs. It certainly looked like Lois had gone all out for her blind date. A single table was set near the terrace doors and he watched as a waiter lit the candles. He could hear soft music playing through the hidden microphone the sound guys had set up. Everything looked ideal for a romantic evening.
Lois should be arriving there any minute and he was less than thrilled at the prospect of watching the whole thing from the dark studio. It had been strange going on a date with Lois buzzing in his ear, but he’d still managed to have a pleasant time. Of course once the cameras stopped rolling, he’d politely told Cat he wasn’t looking for any kind of relationship. She’d understood, even if he hadn’t been telling the whole truth. He wanted a relationship, but he wanted one with Lois. Clark just wished he could figure out what she wanted and he really hoped it didn’t turn out to be her blind date.
“Did I miss anything?”
Clark looked up in surprise to see Lois Lane rushing into the booth and dropping into the empty seat beside him. “Lois, what are you doing here?”
“I’m working,” Lois replied. She sent him one of her “I can’t believe you function in society” looks.
He pointed to the monitor. “You’re supposed to be there. What happened to your blind date?”
“Oh, that.” Lois tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear and smiled at him. “Blind dates aren’t really my thing so I sent someone else in my place.”
It was Clark’s turn to look at her like she had two heads. Before he could ask her for an explanation, he heard the elevator doors opening at the club. He turned back to the monitor and watched Chloe step out. She was dressed up and she did not seem particularly happy to be there. He glanced at Lois and saw her beaming proudly at the screen.
“Chloe is the person you sent in your place?”
“She needs this more than I do,” Lois replied. She winced when she realized how that sounded. “I just thought it was time for Chloe to get back out there and have some fun. She gets too caught up in her work,” she pointed out.
Clark raised an eyebrow. “Look who’s talking,” he quipped.
Lois glared at him. “You sound like Chloe. I only have her best interests at heart and I think this will be good for her.” She sent him a look daring him to challenge her.
Clark just sighed and turned his attention back to Chloe. She had taken a seat at the table and she was fidgeting nervously with the napkin. He knew that Chloe preferred her behind the scenes role and he couldn’t imagine her agreeing to go on a blind date and have it taped for the local morning show. “Lois, how did you get Chloe to do this?” he asked.
“I have my ways,” Lois replied. She shifted uncomfortably when Clark just stared at her. Sometimes she hated that he knew her so well. “All right, so maybe I left out a few tiny details,” she admitted.
Two hours earlier…
Lois stared at the mess around her. She had pulled nearly every article of clothing she owned out of her closet and none of them seemed right for this. She needed her date to go well to show Clark that he wasn’t the only one who could meet someone fantastic online.
She kicked aside a pile of dresses and made her way to the kitchen. Maybe a pre-date drink would clear her head enough to pick out an outfit. She opened the refrigerator and was greeted by mustard and leftover Chinese food.
“We really need to do some shopping,” Lois muttered. She closed the useless refrigerator and glanced back at the mess of clothes. She was being ridiculous. Lois Lane did not get nervous before some silly blind date. It wasn’t like it mattered anyway. As much as she wanted to deny it and pretend it wasn’t happening, her heart was already taken by a farm boy turned bumbling reporter. The last thing she wanted to do was go on a date with someone who wasn’t Clark, even if it was for her career.
The apartment door opened and Chloe walked in carrying her laptop and texting on her cell phone. Lois tried to remember the last time she’d seen her cousin. She was always busy doing whatever it was that she did (which for the record, Lois was still very unclear on and Chloe seemed to determined to keep it that way) that she never took any time to herself. Now Chloe was someone who could use a blind date…
Lois grinned as a light bulb went off in her head. Suddenly, she knew exactly how to make this story a million times more interesting and fix Chloe’s all work and no play life at the same time.
Chloe Sullivan finished typing out the text and glanced up at her cousin. Lois had a look on her face that Chloe knew all too well. She was up to something, she was extremely proud of whatever scheme she had concocted and somehow Chloe knew she was going to end up suffering because of it.
“Hi Lo,” she said cautiously. She set her phone and computer on the counter and caught sight of Lois’ stuff out of the corner of her eye. “Was there a tornado I didn’t hear about?”
“Not exactly.” Lois tugged Chloe over to the couch and sat down so she was facing her cousin. “Clark and I are doing this segment for the new morning show about online dating.”
“Clark mentioned that. I can’t wait to see how you guys do,” Chloe said. She still couldn’t believe Clark had agreed to be part of the morning show and go on a date with someone who wasn’t Lois.
“Well Smallville did surprisingly well and my first instinct was to pull out all the stops so my date would be better.” Lois explained how she had rented out the Ace of Clubs and how she had gone to Oliver for a list of her faults.
Chloe laughed. Lois’ insecure side did not come out very often and she had a feeling the real person Lois was concerned with impressing was Clark. She gestured toward Lois’ wardrobe. “Do you need me to help you pick something out?”
Lois shook her head. “I need you to go in my place.”
The laughter died in Chloe’s throat and she stared at her cousin with wide eyes. “Excuse me? I thought the whole point of this segment was for you and Clark to go on dates and then talk about your experiences.”
“Technically,” Lois muttered. She waved her hand dismissively. “But I really think this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. All you ever do is work,” she pointed out.
“Pot, Lois Lane,” Chloe replied.
Lois rolled her eyes. “Okay, maybe I work all the time too, but I have Smallville with me so I’m having fun time as well. You need more fun in your life, Chloe.”
Chloe sighed. “I’m going to ignore the part where you’re basically calling me a loser and ask you for the truth. Why don’t you want to go on this date?” she asked.
“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Lois started. She saw the knowing look on Chloe’s face and knew there was no point in lying. “All right, maybe I don’t want to go on the date because I’d rather be with Clark. If you go on the date in my place, I can sit back with him in the studio and watch while you have your first date with the man of your dreams.”
Chloe had to give Lois points for being honest, but she wasn’t about to give in to her ridiculous request. “Except this date was matched up to your online dating profile,” she reminded her. “What makes you think I’d have anything in common with this guy?”
“We’re cousins,” Lois replied matter-of-factly. “We’re a lot alike and besides everybody lies on those things anyway. Come on, Chlo. What else do you have to do tonight?” she asked.
The truth was Chloe had nothing pressing on her agenda for the evening. Clark was working on the show and Oliver had just texted her to let her know he had plans and would not be patrolling unless John Jones called him for backup so she didn’t have Watchtower duties. She had come back to the apartment with visions of Thai food and a movie dancing in her head. But that did not mean she was going to agree to go on some pity date because Lois felt sorry for her.
“I don’t want to be your blind date charity case. I have plenty of fun in my life,” Chloe said defensively. “Besides, the last thing I want is all of Metropolis watching me on a date.”
“They won’t be,” Lois said quickly. “The camera will be set up in the restaurant, but I’ll make sure the footage is never shown. Clark and I will be the only ones who ever see it,” she said.
Chloe shook her head. “Somehow knowing that you and Clark are watching my every move does not make me want to do this,” she said.
Lois could see she was losing the battle and decided it was time for a desperate move. “Okay, I’ll call my boss and ask her to cut the feed altogether. I’m sure we can piece together a segment just using the footage from Clark’s date. I’ll handle the on-air interview with the dating experts and wade through their mumbo jumbo for my portion of the segment.”
“Problem solved,” Chloe said. She started to get up, but Lois grabbed her arm and pulled her back down.
“But there’s still the matter of my date,” Lois reminded her. “He seems like a nice guy based on his profile and it wouldn’t be fair to stand him up. Come on, Chloe. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might like the guy and at least you’ll get a free meal out of it. Please,” she added.
Chloe knew she was running out of logical arguments. Lois wasn’t going to let this go any time soon and she knew better than anyone what her cousin was like when she’d made up her mind about something. “Fine, but you and Clark are both going to owe me.”
Lois let out a shriek and hugged Chloe before jumping up and pulling her off the couch. “You’re going to have a great time. Let’s pick out something sexy for you to wear just in case.” She dragged Chloe to her room before she could protest.
“You lied to her about the video feed,” Clark said when Lois finished telling him a heavily abridged version of the story. (She had purposely left out all references to him and her real reasons for not wanting to go on the date).
“If she falls madly in love with the guy or at the very least gets some hot sex out of it, she won’t be complaining,” Lois assured him. She snorted when his face turned bright red at the mention of sex. “Oh, Smallville.” She could easily spend the rest of the night teasing him about this.
Clark heard the elevator chime and gratefully turned his attention to the monitor. He knew Chloe was going to be angry when she found out that Lois had lied to her, but he couldn’t help being slightly relieved that Chloe was the one going on the blind date instead of Lois. He watched the elevator doors opened and frowned when he realized who was walking toward Chloe.
Lois leaned forward to get a closer look at the monitor. “What is Ollie doing there?”
Ten minutes earlier…
Chloe walked into the Ace of Clubs and tried to get a grip on her nerves. She must have been crazy to let Lois talk her into this. The last thing she needed right now was to fumble her way through a blind date – especially a blind date who was expecting to meet Lois Lane. She hadn’t even gotten a chance to look over the guy’s dating profile because Lois had been rushing her out the door. She really was going into this blind (and she hated herself a little bit for the pun).
The romantic setting of the closed club was not doing much to keep her calm. Chloe smoothed down the fabric of the light green silk dress that Lois had assured her was the perfect choice for the evening. Lois had dragged her into the tiny bathroom and started straightening her hair before she decided that it should be curly and started redoing it. She had talked nonstop the entire time about how much fun the date was going to be and how Chloe would be thanking her in the morning.
While it had been amusing at the time to watch her cousin go overboard with the preparations, Chloe was regretting the fact that she had agreed to this. She glanced over at the camera and decided there was a good chance Lois and Clark were watching her because Lois had been a little too quick to reassure her that the feed would be disabled. She reached for her cell phone to text Clark for the truth when she heard the elevator doors open.
Too late now, Chloe thought. She tried her best to appear casual and relaxed despite the tension that was making her back stiff. It had been way too long since she’d been on a date. She forced a smile onto her face and it instantly faded when she saw Oliver approaching the table.
Oliver Queen’s confident stride faltered when he heard her voice and he stared at Chloe in confusion. His eyes roamed appreciatively over the green dress that hugged her curves before he could stop himself. He quickly shifted his gaze to her face and saw that she was every bit as confused as he was.
“Chloe, what’s going on?” He glanced at the camera that was set up behind the table and looked around for Lois.
“You’re Lois’ blind date? Since when do handsome billionaires need online dating?” Chloe tried to keep her tone light, but her heart was suddenly beating like she’d run a marathon. Going on a date with Oliver Queen was definitely not what she had signed up for.
“Not exactly,” Oliver replied. He accepted the two glasses of champagne from the passing waiter and made his way to the table. He handed Chloe a glass and slid into the chair across from her. “I paid Lois’ date to take a hike.”
“Oh,” Chloe said. She tried to ignore the way her stomach tightened at his words. Oliver was trying to get Lois back. She wondered how she had missed that. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Oliver had barely mentioned Lois over the past year and he had spent more time with Chloe than he’d ever spent with Lois – even when they were actually dating.
Whoa, Chloe thought. Where did that bitterness come from? Clearly this night was messing with her head. It wasn’t her business if Oliver still had feelings for Lois. But he had to know that Lois was all about Clark now and vice versa. The last thing she wanted was to see Oliver get hurt. That had to be the explanation for her strange reaction.
She opened her mouth to speak and realized Oliver was watching her. He’d probably been talking while she’d been having the weird fit inside her head. “I’m sorry, did you say something?”
Oliver laughed. “It’s probably not a good sign if I’m already boring you, Sidekick.”
“Sorry, I was just expecting to have to make awkward conversation with a stranger for a few hours and you being here is throwing me for a loop,” Chloe said.
“Yeah, about that.” Oliver gestured to the camera. “I thought this was being filmed for the morning show.”
“It was but Lois asked me to take her place and she was going to talk to her boss about cutting the feed.” Chloe glanced at the camera. If her cousin had lied to her and was watching this whole thing, she was going to murder her in her sleep.
“Why?” Oliver asked.
Chloe chewed on her bottom lip. She’d never been one to beat around the bush and Oliver was going to find out the truth sooner or later. “She didn’t want to go on a date with someone who wasn’t Clark.” She looked pointedly at the camera again. Try talking your way out of that one, Lo. She glanced back at Oliver expecting disappointment and was surprised to see a familiar smirk. “What?”
“Nothing,” Oliver replied. He knew Chloe thought Lois and Clark were watching and that was her way of paying Lois back for making her do this. “Tell me, Chloe, how did Lois convince you to take her place?”
“She caught me at a weak moment. But I’m sure this wasn’t how you envisioned this evening,” Chloe pointed out. She reached for her champagne and wished it was something stronger to get her through what was about to be an uncomfortable conversation.
Oliver shrugged. “I’m adaptable. I wanted to help Lois by giving her viewers a date with Metropolis’ most eligible billionaire bachelor.” He flashed her the famous Oliver Queen grin.
She considered herself immune to the Queen charm after all these years, but that smile of his never failed to unnerve her. He really was too good looking for his own (or anyone else’s) good. Chloe had to remind herself to focus. “Right, but the point was to be on a date with Lois.” She shifted in her chair and waited for the awkwardness to start.
“That’s what I thought but…” Oliver paused when realization dawned on him. Chloe thought he was there because he wanted another chance with Lois. Nothing could be further from the truth. He reached across the table and took her hand in his. Her eyes were wide when with surprise when they met his. “Let me explain,” he offered.
Twenty-five minutes earlier…
Oliver straightened his tie and tried not to focus on how many speeding laws Mia was breaking as she raced through the streets of Metropolis. He’d already asked her to slow down twice and she had thoroughly mocked him and called him “grandpa” so he was going to keep the lecture to himself and just hope they made it there alive.
Mia Dearden glanced at the man sitting beside her. He was a hard guy to figure out. People like Oliver Queen did not just fall out of the sky to help girls like her. Part of her was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. But he’d been pretty upfront with her so far and he genuinely seemed to want to help. Maybe he really was one of the good guys.
“So who’s the lucky girl?” she asked.
“Huh?” Oliver gripped the armrest tightly as she slammed on the brakes to accommodate a stop sign. Maybe he should have made sure his affairs were in order before getting in the car with her again. “What lucky girl?”
Mia gestured to his suit and pressed down hard on the accelerator. “The one you’re all dressed up for who I’m dropping you off to meet. Is it that girl who saw me in the towel?” she asked.
Oliver winced. It had stung when Lois had jumped to the wrong conclusion about Mia. But he couldn’t blame her after the way he had been failing everyone lately. Oliver was trying to get his life back in order after all those months of living in the gutter. He had been working his ass off to fix things he had neglected at Queen Industries and it finally seemed like the shareholders were satisfied and stock prices were on the rise.
Fixing his personal relationships was his main priority now. The team had been surprisingly forgiving and made it clear to him that the past was water under the bridge and they wanted to move forward. Even Clark had shaken his hand and welcomed him back like nothing had happened.
But Oliver knew he would still be drowning himself in booze, pills and women if Chloe hadn’t given him a reality check when he needed it most. He still wasn’t sure he deserved someone like her in his corner, but he was going to do everything in his power to be the man she needed him to be. He knew helping Lois was only a small part of that, but it was a start.
“Yes, Lois. But it’s not really a date,” Oliver said.
“You seemed pretty upset when she thought there was something going on between us,” Mia pointed out.
“You’re a teenager,” Oliver reminded her. “I’d prefer if my friends didn’t think I was some kind of pervert.”
Mia rolled her eyes at his sarcasm. “So she’s just a friend?”
Oliver nodded. “We dated a few years ago and we realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to work out for us. But we stayed friends and I put her through something rough recently and this is my way of making it up to her.” He filled Mia in on the morning show and the online dating segment.
“So let me get this straight,” Mia said as she barely slowed the car down to take the turn that led to Ace of Clubs. “You’re going to hijack your ex-girlfriend’s date because you feel guilty about screwing up. But it still seems like you’re trying to get back with her. Why else would you be willing to pay off her actual date?”
Oliver couldn’t blame her for being skeptical. It did sound like he was trying to get Lois back, but he wasn’t blind. Lois wanted to be with Clark and even though the big guy hadn’t come right out and said it, Oliver knew Clark wanted to be with Lois. But neither of them seemed willing to admit that yet and Lois wanted her date to make a splash. That was where he came in.
“My name will be good for the ratings and Lois won’t have to waste her time with a guy who’s not Clark,” Oliver explained.
“Oh,” Mia said knowingly. She stopped the car in front of the club and turned to face Oliver. “This is starting to make more sense. You really are the hero type,” she commented.
Oliver shook his head. “I’m just trying to be a good friend to people who were there for me when I didn’t deserve it. Do you need anything else before I go?” he asked.
“No, I’m good. Thanks, Oliver,” Mia added.
“Stay out of trouble, Speedy” Oliver replied. He unfolded his long body from the car and closed the door as she rolled her eyes and sped away. He pulled out his cell phone to make sure he didn’t have any messages from Chloe. She’d told him she was planning on heading back to the Talon for the evening, but she would call him if anything came up.
Seeing that there were no new messages, Oliver slipped his phone back in his pocket and made his way inside. It was time to turn on the charming billionaire persona and fake his way through a dinner date. Maybe he would stop by Chloe’s afterward. He wanted to tell her about Mia and get her take on the situation.
“Ollie.” Chloe squeezed the hand that held hers after he finished giving her the play by play of his night. “You don’t owe any of us anything. We all just wanted you to be okay,” she said. She wished she knew how to make him understand that it hurt her to see him in so much pain.
Oliver swallowed the lump in his throat and held her gaze across the table. He wished he could find the words to tell the woman across from him just how important she was to him. “I meant what I said, Chloe. You saved my life and I will never forget that.”
Chloe felt her skin heating under the intensity of his eyes. It wasn’t the first time he had looked at her like that and even though she told herself not to read too much into it, she couldn’t help the way her heart fluttered in her chest. “Ollie,” she said again.
He brushed the pad of his thumb lightly over her wrist and there was no ignoring the shiver that shot straight down her spine. “You make me want to be a better person. I won’t let you down again, Chloe,” he promised.
“You didn’t let me down,” Chloe replied, her voice barely above a whisper. “Oliver, you are one of the best people I know.” She blinked back the tears that were threatening in the corners of her eyes. “I’m just glad you’re back.”
His grip on her hand tightened. “You’re stuck with me for the long haul, Sidekick. Do you think you can handle that?” Oliver flashed a small smile to try and ease the mood.
Chloe sighed dramatically. “I suppose there are worst people to be stuck with,” she teased.
Oliver’s smile widened. “Well since we’re here and Lois went through all this effort, would you like to have dinner with me?” He reached for his champagne glass with his free hand and raised it toward her. “I am one of the country’s most eligible billionaire bachelors, you know,” he added.
“I think you mentioned that once or twice,” Chloe replied. His thumb was still stroking her wrist as he waited for her answer and she couldn’t help thinking there was a deeper meaning behind the question. Her first instinct was to turn and run, but she couldn’t – wouldn’t – do that to Oliver. She reached for her own glass and tapped it lightly against his. “I’d like to have dinner with you,” she said.
Clark watched Lois as she sat leaning forward over the desk to get as close to the monitor as she could without actually sitting in his lap. She had been purposely avoiding eye contact with him and shushing him when he tried to talk to her since Chloe had announced she wasn’t interested in dating anyone else. Aside from the knowing look Lois had shot him after Oliver said Clark wanted to be with her too, Clark was pretty sure she had forgotten he was there.
“Lois, maybe we should turn off the monitor like you told Chloe we would,” he suggested. Even though Chloe and Oliver both seemed to (correctly) think they were listening, Clark didn’t want to take any chances that one of them might slip up and say something Lois wasn’t supposed to hear.
“I should have seen this sooner,” Lois muttered, her eyes still focused on the screen as Chloe and Oliver placed their orders with the waiter.
“Seen what?” Clark asked.
Lois glanced at him in surprise and Clark decided she had definitely forgotten he was there. “The sparks,” she replied. When he just looked at her, she rolled her eyes and gestured to the monitor. “Come on, Smallville. Chloe and Oliver are practically setting the camera on fire.”
Clark frowned and turned his attention to the monitor. He’d seen Chloe and Oliver together before, but there did seem to be something different in the way they were looking at each other. Oliver had said Chloe saved him and Clark wasn’t sure what he meant by that. He had noticed that Oliver had been spending a lot more time with Chloe since he’d come out of his downward spiral.
“Lois, we really should give them some privacy,” Clark suggested again.
She waved him away and turned her focus back to the monitor. Oliver and Chloe were laughing about something and Lois noted they were still holding hands across the table. “I missed what they said! Is there a rewind button on this thing?”
Clark groaned inwardly. It was going to be a long night if he didn’t put an end to this. Making sure Lois was occupied with the monitor; he casually reached under the desk for the sound wire and snapped it in half.
“What happened?” Lois cried when the sound disappeared. She reached over and turned the volume up as loud as it would go and there was still no sound.
“Maybe there’s an issue with the transmission,” Clark replied innocently. He watched Lois as she started pressing buttons and ended up accidentally turning off the screen. He placed his hand over hers before she could turn it back on. “Lois.”
“What?” Irritated, Lois turned to face him and saw him smiling at her in that adorable way of his and suddenly everything Chloe and Oliver had spilled about their feelings for one another came back to her. She waited to see if Clark was finally going to make a move.
“Why don’t we get out of here?” Clark asked. “We could go get dinner and maybe catch a movie or something.” He waited for her to come up with one of her flimsy excuses.
Lois hesitated for the briefest of seconds and then nodded. “Okay,” she agreed. She reached for her purse and realized that they were going to have a lot of explaining to do when they saw their producer the next morning, but for once, she wasn’t worried about her career.
Clark offered his arm to Lois and she smiled at him and stood to join him. “What are you in the mood for?” he asked.
Loaded question, Lois thought, but she kept that comment to herself. “How about Chinese? We can get some takeout and go back to the Talon for a movie night,” she suggested.
“Or we could eat there and then go to the movie theater,” Clark countered. He knew the only reason Lois wanted to go to the Talon was so she could interrogate Chloe the second she walked in the door.
“All right,” Lois agreed. She knew he was onto her. “I just have one question. Why on earth does Ollie call Chloe ‘sidekick?’” she asked.
“No idea,” Clark replied. He quickly ushered her out the door.
“I never realized the food was so good here,” Chloe commented as she took another bite of her chicken. She was used to coming to the Ace of Clubs for parties or events and something crazy usually happened before any food was consumed.
Oliver nodded and cut off a piece of steak before holding his fork out to her. “Try this. I guarantee you’ve never had better.”
Chloe accepted the meat and tried not to moan at how easily it melted in her mouth. “Wow. I really do need to eat here more often,” she said.
“The chef used to work at a place in New York, but he moved back here after his mom got sick to take care of her. I can introduce you if you want to rave in person,” Oliver offered. He reached for the bottle the waiter had left and refilled their glasses.
Chloe smiled at him over the top of her glass as she took a sip. “You really do know everyone, don’t you?”
“I make it my business to know the best places to get good food on short notice,” Oliver replied. “It’s one of the rules in the billionaire bachelor’s handbook.”
“It’s one of Watchtower’s rules too,” Chloe replied. She bit her lip hard when she realized the word slipped out of her mouth. “Do you think Lois and Clark are still listening?” she asked quietly, her eyes wide with panic.
Oliver shook his head. He figured Clark had found a way to distract Lois by now, but he decided it was better to be safe than sorry in case Lois’ tenacity had won out. He leaned back in his chair and exaggerated stretching his arms over his head. He grabbed the tripod holding up the camera and unceremoniously knocked it to the floor. The camera hit the ceramic hard and pieces broke off, sailing in all directions.
“Oh no,” he said, his voice monotone.
“Oliver!” Chloe covered her face with her hands to try and hide her laughter, but it was no use.
He shrugged innocently. “It was an accident. I’ll buy them a new one. At least now we know it’s just us.” Oliver reached for his fork and resumed eating like nothing had happened.
“True,” Chloe agreed. She tried to get a grip on her laughter, but it was hard when there were pieces of the camera scattered all over the place. Oliver wasn’t even trying to hide the smirk on his face as he cut another piece of steak. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed so hard or when she’d been relaxed enough to have dinner with a friend and forget all the world’s troubles.
Oliver looked up from his plate and smiled at her. It was nice to see a genuine Chloe smile on her face. “I take it you’re enjoying your date with the billionaire bachelor,” he joked.
Chloe raised an eyebrow. “Ollie, if you use the words ‘billionaire bachelor’ one more time, you’re going to be wearing the rest of your dinner and mine,” she warned. But she couldn’t resist smiling at him and there seemed to be no way to stop the butterflies that had taken up residence in her stomach.
Oliver held up his hands in mock surrender. “There’s no need to waste good food, Chloe.” He winked at her.
Okay then, Chloe thought when her heart skipped a beat. She reached for her champagne and took a healthy sip. She should not be sitting there thinking about how cute he was or how much fun it was to be on a date with him. This wasn’t a real date and he was her friend. That was all he was ever going to be. She needed to bring the conversation back to something neutral.
“Tell me more about Mia,” she suggested.
Oliver didn’t miss the abrupt subject change or the way her hand shook as she held the champagne glass. But he knew Chloe well enough to know when not to push his luck. “She’s just a kid caught in a bad situation.” He told her about finding her fighting and then picking her up in the slums. “I think it’s going to take her awhile to fully trust me, but I think I can help her.”
Chloe nodded thoughtfully. “Training sessions will be good for her. Are you planning on asking her to be part of the league?”
Oliver shook his head. “Not at this point. I want her to relax and know she can depend on me before I ask her to suit up and fight the bad guys. But I would like you to meet her. It might help her to have a strong female presence in her life and not just me,” he said.
Chloe’s face flushed at the compliment. Oliver was giving her that look again and she knew there was no way she was reading too much into it this time. Her mouth was suddenly very dry and she bypassed the champagne and gulped down the glass of water that was beside her plate. The cool liquid did nothing to soothe her nerves.
“I’d like to meet her,” she said. Chloe was impressed when her voice sounded even and normal and not at all like her heart was bouncing around in her chest like a ping pong ball. She forced herself to get a grip and met Oliver’s eyes across the table. “She was right before when she said you’re the hero type.”
Oliver smiled and reached for her hand again. He was pleased when she laced her fingers through his without hesitation. He could see that she was nervous and he knew he was going to have to take this slow and not barrel over her with his charm. He was going to do everything in his power to prove to her that he was worth taking a chance on.
“How do you feel about dessert?” he asked.
Chloe was momentarily caught off guard by the question and his effort to lighten the mood. She let herself relax again. “I’m a big fan,” she admitted.
“Great. I know this place that makes the best cheesecake,” Oliver said. He reached for his wallet and pulled out several big bills that he figured would cover Lois’ expenses and the cost of the camera equipment he’d destroyed.
“Is this place in Metropolis or do I need to stop by the Talon for my passport?” Chloe asked suspiciously.
Oliver laughed. “You officially know me too well, Sidekick. Someday I will take you to this place in Bulgaria and you’ll never want to leave. But since I have a meeting bright and early tomorrow at Luthor Corp. you’re going to have to settle for Metropolis’ best.” He stood up and gently tugged her out of her chair, taking a moment to fully appreciate her dress.
Chloe felt herself blushing again and tried not to be self-conscious under his gaze. Oliver was not supposed to be looking at her like that. She was certainly not supposed to be enjoying the fact that Oliver was looking at her like that. What were they doing? She stepped into the elevator and waited for Oliver to push the button for the ground floor.
“There’s one more thing we need to do before we get dessert,” Oliver said.
Without giving Chloe a chance to ask what he had in mind, he leaned down and captured her mouth with his. The kiss was soft, barely a whisper of his lips against hers, like he was giving her brain a few seconds to catch up. He kissed her again, more firmly this time, letting his warm lips brush over hers. Every rational thought flew straight out of her head and she stood there frozen, too stunned to react.
Oliver took a step back and wondered if he had just made a serious miscalculation. She stared at him with wide eyes and he tried to think of a way to fix his mistake. “Chloe, I…” He had no idea what to say. He couldn’t tell her that he didn’t mean to kiss because he had. He’d been thinking about it since the moment he stepped off the elevator and saw her sitting there. (If he was completely honest, he’d been thinking about it since the day he’d confronted her about Roulette at the sidewalk café). But he couldn’t risk losing her because he’d been too impatient. “I…”
“Shh,” Chloe replied. She took a step toward him and slid her hands up over the hard planes of his chest to wrap around his neck. She rose to her tiptoes and pressed her mouth fully to his. Oliver’s arms came around her waist and he pulled her body flush against his. He held her there, deepening the kiss when her lips parted for him. His tongue slid over hers and she moaned softly against him.
He kissed her until they were both desperate for air and even then, he couldn’t stop. His mouth moved over the smooth column of her neck and she tilted her head back to give him more access. Chloe was confident her knees would have given out on her if he wasn’t holding onto her waist. She let her fingertips slide into his hair and he brought his mouth back to hers for a soft kiss.
Oliver eased back and lightly rubbed his nose against hers. She didn’t look like she was going to turn and run away, but he needed to be sure he hadn’t scared her off. “Are we still on for dessert?” he asked quietly.
Chloe smiled up at him. Her heart was still pounding and she wasn’t sure her brain would ever function properly again, but none of that mattered. She was exactly where she wanted to be. “Definitely.”
He grinned and wrapped an arm around his shoulders as they made their way out of the elevator. “You’re going to love this place, Sidekick.”