A/N: I haven't got much time right now, but I thought I'd put this up anyways, so I'll skip to the thank yous.
Blessings from heaven go to the reviewers of Chapter Eight, namely meahra and chlollie_4ev. I can't thank you enough for all your support for this fic.
Right, Enjoy the Chapter,
“The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.”-Omar N Bradley
Oliver felt the headache before he’d opened his eyes. His body seemed to ache from the inside out. His stomach felt raw, and sick, and there was a rotten taste in his mouth. There was a burning feeling down his throat; he got the feeling that he’d been throwing up, and wondered if he’d gotten drunk and passed out, again. Eyes barely open, he reached instinctively for his phone, only to come up empty. When he didn’t find it, he began to wonder exactly what was going on. He squinted his eyes open into the red sunlight, and peeked around the room. From what he could tell, the bed he was in was Chloe’s.
How did I get in Chloe’s bed, he thought, opening his eyes a little further, and lifting up his head. It occurred to him for only a moment that he and Chloe may have… But no, even if was actually drunk enough to do it, Chloe would never consider it.
It was then that he noticed that Chloe sitting in a chair to the side of him, and felt his brow contort in confusion. She was engrossed with a spot on the floor, staring at it, with her fore arms resting on her knees, and her whole body leaning forwards heavily. If he hadn’t seen her eyelids blink, he would have thought she was asleep. He tried calling out to her, but his voice came out as little more than a croak.
Chloe raised her head, eyes coming to meet his. There was a flash of relief on her face, before it disappeared. “Don’t try to talk.” She said, before reaching down, and grabbing a bottle of water, it seemed from nowhere.
She held the bottle to his lips, and ordered him to take a large sip. The liquid soothed his raw throat, and seemed to wash away most of the rotten taste in his mouth. “What happened?” he asked, still a little hoarse.
Chloe ignored him, and placed the bottle on the bed-side table, “How’re you feeling?” she said, absently.
“Like shit.” He said grumbling, bringing a hand to rub his forehead. “What happened?” he asked again.
“What you don’t remember?” Chloe said, her voice laced with suppressed anger.
Oliver glanced over at her, confused at the anger on her face.
“Well ten sleeping pills will do that to you.” She said deadpanned.
Oliver’s eyes widened, before the memories hit him. He remembered finding the bottle in the medicine cabinet. He remembered reading that the prescription was for Chloe Anne Sullivan… and he remembered downing the whole bottle as fast as he could. Suddenly, he felt a mix of emotions, relief that he was alive, anxiety because he was alive (and if Chloe was anything like Lois, he was not walking away from this), and strangely, guilt… though he had no idea why.
He risked a glance over at Chloe to gauge just how much trouble he was in, but couldn’t read the expression on her face. “Listen, Chloe-” he began.
“I’d better get Emil.” She cut him off, and walked out of the room.
Oliver sighed, as he watched her leave. It didn’t look like she wanted to hear his explanation.
Chloe waited by the door, while Emil checked Oliver over. Oliver would glance over at her occasionally, but she openly watched him, her face void of emotion, but Oliver could still tell she was furious. It made him squirm under her scrutiny.
Eventually, Emil was done and gave Oliver an encouraging smile. “There were no lasting effects from the pills, Oliver.” He said, packing away his things, “With some rest, you’ll be fine.”
“Thank you Emil.” Oliver said.
“I wouldn’t thank me,” Emil said. “If it wasn’t for Chloe, I’m fairly certain you would be long gone.”
Oliver looked up at her, she held his gaze for a moment, before finding that spot on the floor again.
Noticing the thickening tension in the room, Emil excused himself, telling Oliver that he needed to get some rest, and to drink plenty of fluids. He made a swift exit, and left Oliver alone with Chloe.
Oliver knew he needed to explain himself. But it was hard to go over his thought process at that moment without seeming like a complete idiot. “Chloe… um” he began. “Thank you.”
“For what.” She said humourlessly as she moved back to her chair, “from where I stood it looked like you wanted to be dead.”
He swallowed nervously at that, recoiling under her gaze. Talking his way out of trouble had never been a problem for Oliver, and yet when her green eyes blazed with quiet rage, he couldn’t seem to find words.
“Yeah, I-uh… I guess I did.” He stammered
Chloe said nothing, quite content to watch him squirm. Silence fell over them, and Oliver tried to think of something to lighten the mood.
“So, how did you do it?” he asked with a nervous smile. “How’d you save me? You get me a stomach pump? Or a-uh…”
“I stuck my fingers down your throat.” She said coldly, interrupting him.
His eyebrows rose at that, a little taken aback. Looking at her, he could see her expression didn’t change, it was slightly unsettling. “Oh… well-uh… Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me.” She said. “I was trying to see if I could pull your balls out through your oesophagus.”
Oliver swallowed; his eyes wide as tennis balls.
“How could you have been such a coward?” Chloe asked quietly, her eyes narrowing, the first real expression she’d shown in what felt like hours.
Oliver couldn’t look at her; he turned his face away from her. He didn’t want to feel guilty about this.
“You wouldn’t understand-”
“Try me.” Chloe said. “I’d think pulling you back from the brink of death buys me at least one explanation”
“It should have been me.” he said quietly.
Chloe almost rolled her eyes, “Victor’s death wasn’t your fault Ollie-”
“It’s not that.” He said, cutting her off. “I know I said the world doesn’t need us to be heroes, Chloe. But… I was wrong. Victor was a hero… And I’m not.”
Chloe’s eyes widened when she realised what he was saying.
“Victor should have let me die.” He said finally. “There is no more Green Arrow; there is no more Justice League… I’ve got nothing left to give you so I-” He faltered.
“You thought you’d get yourself out of the way…” Chloe finished for him.
Oliver clenched his fists subconsciously. “Everything I touch withers and dies, Chloe” he said. “So… I thought if I was gone, you’d have … some kind of chance.”
Oliver was fixated by the threads of Chloe’s sheets, fiddling with the cotton. He didn’t turn to look at her, but he could practically feel her anger boiling and boiling. Daring to turn his head barely and inch, he noticed flashes of confusion in her green eyes. He dropped his gaze back to the sheets.
“Look at me, Oliver.” She said suddenly.
He didn’t dare to, and kept his head bent over the sheets.
“Oliver Jonas Queen.” Chloe said slowly and almost gently. “I want you to hear what I am going to say to you very clearly right now… So I need you to look at me.”
Slowly, Oliver lifted his head, and turned to face her. But before he could even focus on her face, her hand slapped across his, snapping his head to the side. He turned back to her, mouth agape, completely shocked. “Chloe-”
"How could you have been so stupid?” she hissed.
“Did you really think that we would have been better off without you?” she nearly yelled “Scratch that- did you think, Oliver?! Huh? Did you think at all?!”
Oliver just gaped at her.
“Of course we need you! The only reason any of the others came back is to save you. Did you think that was a coincidence?”
Oliver honestly didn’t think about it at all.
Careful not to raise her voice too loud as to disturb the others, Chloe continued. “There are people who need you Oliver, people who care whether you live or die. I don’t care if you don’t think your life is worth anything Oliver, because Victor was willing to bet his life that there was a hero in you.” She paused, lowering her voice further. “Victor believed in you, and so do I.”
Looking at her face, he suddenly realised why he was feeling guilty. He’d hurt her. There were glassy traces of tears welling up in her green eyes, but she wouldn’t dare let them fall.
“So this pity party is over.” She said with finality. “We haven’t got time anymore.”
She sat back in her chair, and tore her eyes from Oliver, blinking to keep back the tears. For a while, Oliver could do little more than rub his stinging cheek, and stare at Chloe in wonder. Eventually he found words. “Chloe-” he began, but she didn’t want to hear it. She rose and left the room. As she passed through the doorway, Oliver noticed her bring a hand to her cheek, wiping tears away.
Chloe blindly wandered into the first room she’d seen and shut the door fast. It strangely enough happened to be the bathroom. In the dim red light, the bloodstains on Oliver’s discarded shirt, and the spatters of blood and water on the sink stuck out. For some reason, the sight of blood made something break inside her. Everything seemed to flood over her, her anxiety over AC, her confusion over the red sky and what it could mean. She fell against the door limply. Victor’s death hit her at the knees, and she let all her emotions fall on her as she slid down the door, and curled up on the floor. And Oliver… as everything piled onto her she began to sob, holding a hand to her mouth to muffle them.
How could he have ever thought that she didn’t need him?! So much had begun with this tower going live, and Chloe had no idea how to handle it. Aliens taking over, and Tess Mercer, and civilians in Watchtower, all of it was too much. It burst out of her in hot angry tears, cold scared tears, warm sad tears, any kind of tear that was ever thought of, Chloe cried. Everything she had kept so well hidden caught up with her in that bathroom. And she cried for all of it.
Chloe shut her eyes, as tears streamed down her cheeks and over her hands, she sobbed harder. Why am I crying? she asked herself silently. I don’t want to cry. Why am I crying?
It’s gonna be alright, Bright-eyes…
Chloe sobbed again. “Jimmy.” She whispered through her tears, helplessness making her bones feel heavy. “Oh Jimmy what am I gonna do?”
“Chloe?” Chloe jumped as she heard the voice from behind the door, suddenly realising that she was talking to the air again. After a few deep breaths, she stood up quickly and moved to the mirror.
“Chloe are you in there?” Dinah’s voice came through the door.
Chloe quickly wiped the tears off her cheeks “Just fine.” She called out, cleaning up her smeared make-up.
“Okay… well I-uh”
“Dinah what is it?” Chloe asked.
After a pause Chloe heard Dinah’s voice again. “Can I talk to you out here?”
Chloe took a deep breath to calm herself down and opened the door.
As Chloe opened the door, Dinah looked ready to say something, but her expression seemed to change, as her eyes fell on Chloe. Chloe could blatantly see her concern all over her face, as she looked at her damp cheeks and red eyes.
“Are you okay?” she said, worriedly. “We didn’t really get a chance to talk after-”
“I’m fine, Dinah.” Chloe said cutting her off.
“Are you sure, I thought I hear you talking to someone-”
“Who would I be talking to, Dinah?”
Dinah opened her mouth as though to say something, but closed it immediately apparently having thought the better of it. “You know…” she said a moment later, “It’s okay to feel sad.”
“A friend is dead. It’s alright if you feel sad.” Dinah said. She reached for Chloe’s arm. “If you need to talk-”
Chloe ducked away from the contact. “I’m fine Dinah, seriously.” She said, putting the matter to rest. “What did you want to talk about?”
Dinah looked at Chloe strangely for a moment, before beginning “Okay…” she said. “I was thinking about the meteor rocks.”
“What about it?”
“I was wondering if you knew where we could get more.”
Chloe raised an eyebrow “Why?” she asked.
Dinah let a little anxious smile crease her face “Well, right now, it’s our only real defence against the Kandorians. It would probably be a good idea for us to stockpile as much as we can; if we want to stand a chance of defending ourselves that is.”
Chloe nodded, but thought for a moment. “True, but maybe there’s a better way to use it rather than just hitting them with rocks.”
This time, Dinah raised an eyebrow, and followed Chloe down the stairs toward her desk.
“When we were in High School, one of our classmates went psycho, and started assassinating anybody who was possibly meteor-infected.” Chloe began as she dodged the civilians who seemed to be watching the news. Frowning at that for a moment, she continued on to her desk, “He came after Clark with a kryptonite bullet.”
“A Kryptonite Bullet?” Dinah asked.
“If we could weaponise kryptonite in the same way, but on an industrial scale; bullets, arrows, knives, grenades-”
“Don’t judge me-” Chloe said, “Dinah you wouldn’t happen to-”
Dinah pursed her lips in thought, “I actually do know a guy. But he’s a bit of a jerk. Not to mention, he’s gonna need a whole lotta kryptonite. Where are we gonna get enough?”
“Funny you should ask” Chloe’s fingers hit the keys and one of the screens revealed a map. “I’ve been watching our favourite red-head, and she’s been doing some weird things recently- Though mind you, a number of things have begun to make sense. Tess has been recently gathering meteor rock from Smallville, and storing it at this old military warehouse, called Libertine Ridge. At first I thought that she was trying hurt Clark. I was getting ready to shut the place down, but then all this happened.”
“So, what was she doing?” Dinah asked
“Probably trying to clear the Kryptonite minefield that is Smallville.” Chloe said. “She was most likely planning on destroying it all somehow.”
Chloe’s fingers flew over the keys, and she came up with the inventory list for the warehouse. “Will that be enough for your man?” she asked Dinah, looking up at her.
Dinah nodded “I’ll make the call.” And began to walk away.
“Wait, Dinah?” Chloe called, catching up with her. “Um… who put the kids in front of the TV?” she gestured over to the sofas where the newly freed hostages, had gotten comfortable watching the 24hr news. Some had even found popcorn. It looked like microwave popcorn. Chloe frowned. She didn’t even know she had microwave popcorn.
Dinah shrugged “It seemed like a good way to occupy them.” She said. “I figured showing them that we have basic cable, would prove we weren’t some kind of terrorist cell.”
Chloe sighed, and let Dinah go make her call, returning to her desk. she was left to consider the previous hostages that Dinah had brought back with her. There was Grayson, a Texan, and apparently the heir to an oil company. He had a barely recognisable accent, and seemed to always be annoyed about something. His girlfriend was Amanda, a model, who was very easy to talk to. Not like Magalli, and Lillian, the two French Fashion designers, who either could speak English, and chose not to, or only spoke French. Either way, Chloe wasn’t in the mood to recall her French classes, and so chose to get to know the English speaking people. Mary Goldman was the wife of a Naval officer, a Captain or something. Then there was Barry, from New York, the bartender. And Dr Horace Abbott, who Chloe had to lend a shirt to… his had been covered in someone’s blood.
Altogether they were quite the mismatched group, and very amusing to watch, as Mrs Goldman would yell at the Magali and Lillian, while they spoke about her in French (Chloe heard the word for “cow” loud and clear). Barry seemed to be quite engrossed in the news, while Dr Abbott was in his own little world. And Amanda and Grayson were whispering to each other as couples do. Except it seemed more Amanda whispering to Grayson, and keeping him calm. She seemed quite devoted to the man. Chloe couldn’t imagine why. He seemed to her completely abrasive.
All the same, Chloe couldn’t help but think that each of those people had a story; a life. They didn’t choose this like Chloe and the others had. They were thrust into a terrible situation. And yet Chloe couldn’t think of any way for them to get back to that life now. As far as she knew, Zod had plans for world domination… which meant nowhere was safe; not even Watchtower.
Her eyes drifted to the screen which had been frozen on the tower, as she wondered what Zod was doing now. The waiting game had succeeded in setting her on edge, and she was ready to find out what Major Zod had in store for earth.
She was snapped out of her thoughts by Clark’s hand on her shoulder. “Chloe?” he said.
She jumped a little. “Clark!” She said. “It’s almost as bad as the superspeed.”
“Sorry.” He said with a little wince. “How’s Oliver?” he asked.
Chloe’s thoughts immediately returned to the defeated billionaire, with too many troubles. She groaned, and ran a hand over her face.
“That bad, huh?”
“No.” Chloe sighed. “He’s recovering nicely, just needs some rest and fluids etc.”
Clark frowned. “So what’s wrong?”
“Just… Oliver.” Chloe said
Clark made a face. “I’m not sure I’m following you…”
“Look, Oliver is fine.” Chloe said standing and turning to face Clark, “Physically at least. But… psychologically… He’s got some issues to sort out.” She looked Clark over, “What about you?” she asked “How’re you doing without your powers?”
Clark looked down.
“That bad, huh?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s just… weird.” He said. “I can remember, when we were in high school, I just wanted to be normal… Now I am, I don’t feel normal… I just feel weak.”
“You’re not weak Clark.” Chloe said. “You’re human-”
“But I’m not human.” Clark interrupted. “Jo-rel’s training has taught me that, powers or no powers, I’m still not human. I’m reaching for things, and can’t grip them, because I keep thinking that I’ll hold it too tight and crush it. I’m subconsciously controlling my breathing because I keep thinking I’ll blow a wall down. Even walking over here, I had to remind myself that I won’t put a trail of shoe shaped holes in the floor.”
Chloe’s face contorted between serious and amused. “I don’t know whether to crack out my violin, or burst out laughing Clark.”
“It’s not funny Chloe.”
“It’s a little funny.”
Clark ignored this and continued. “I have to get my powers back, for my own sanity.”
“And just how do you plan on doing that Clark?” Chloe said, still amused
Clark glanced at her. “Maybe Jo-rel can do something…”
“I don’t think Jo-rel works like that Clark.”
“Well he did it before-”
“That was different, no one had turned the sun red. I think you’re stuck.”
“I can’t be stuck”
“Why not, what’s wrong with being-”
“Because I need to stop this!” Clark cried finally. Chloe’s mouth dropped open, and almost everyone in the room turned to Clark.
Clark realised the attention he was drawing and lowered his voice. “This is my fault Chloe. I have to find a way to fix it.”
Chloe put a hand on Clark’s shoulder. “Clark, we’ll fix this whole mess. We’ll stop Zod, and put the world back to normal. Together. It doesn’t matter whose fault this is. We’re in this together… Right?”
Before Clark could answer, someone from the sofa let out a loud yelp, catching everyone’s attention. “Ms Sullivan!! Ms Lance!!” Barry called out. “Come quick.”
Clark and Chloe headed over to the TV as fast as they could, and looked at the screen. Dinah and Emil joined them just as Dr Abbott was turning the volume up.
“… I, President of these United States, address you, its people, with a matter of extreme urgency, and gravity. This matter may seem nonsense to you, but I swear to you and to God, that it is true.
“This morning, I received a message from a General Zod of Kandor, of the Planet Krypton, that he is claiming governing rights over this country, and over the rest of the world. His message also stated that he had sent this same emissary to the other world leaders, including our allies, and that we had twenty-four hours to respond, or else be at war with Kandor.
“It is with this knowledge that I have made my decision on this matter. We will not be intimidated by this General. We will not have our freedom forced from us, by thugs. My fellow Americans I ask that you are brave and vigilant in the face of these aliens. As the good book says, “Be not afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth by day.”
“Having consulted with the Secretary of Defence, and the Secretary of State, and with several generals and others; it is our firm decision that we declare war on these intruders. And having consulted with our friends in London, we understand that our allies our behind us.
“To the citizens of Metropolis, Kansas, and those in the immediate surrounding area, we will be evacuating the area from 1200hrs to 2300hrs tonight. We firmly suggest that you leave area.
“God bless you all.”
As the message ended and the voices of the news presenters came back over the air, everyone seemed to be looking at each other for answers, no one quite able to find words just yet.
Eventually Chloe managed to whisper. “They’re gonna nuke Metropolis…”
Which only served to prolong the silence, until it was broken by a voice everyone had missed.
Bart had leaned up on his gurney, squinting into the red light, and over the rail at the crowd of people watching the TV. “…What the hell is going on?!”
A/N: So, I hope I haven't insulted any presidents present, past or future! :D Hope you enjoyed the chapter!