It's Not Over

I Carry Your Heart With Me

Note: Thanks to everyone who reviewed and favorite this story. I was totally stunned by how well it's gone over, and a super-sized apology for the late posting.

Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire.

-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

. . .

There was something to be said for paper-thin walls.

I don't think anyone's perfect.

Oliver nearly laughed as he made his way around Chloe's bedroom. He wondered if it was a conscious decision she'd made, or a coincidence that this room looked so similar to her one at the Talon.

Normally, he would have considered it an huge violation of her privacy to be going though her things, but considering he'd been relegated to her bedroom until she was finished taking tea with her friend, and hadn't given him any answers…he was going to have to take what he could get.

. . .

"Find anything interesting, Oliver?"

More or less unsurprised, Chloe caught him in her desk drawer rifling through her work documents. Did he really think that if she was hiding something more pressing that the price quote of a pot from the Ming Dynasty that she'd make it so easy to find?

Oliver closed the drawer, and looked over at her. It was the way he looked at her that killed her.

Maybe you don't care if I get you killed, Oliver-but I do. I'd rather never have you and know you're alive than be with you all the time and lose you.

"Not particularly." Oliver dropped the papers in his hand onto the desk. "I haven't found anything. All I have are over two years of unanswered questions, and I'd just love it if you'd like to bring the rest of the class up to speed."

"The less you know is for the better, probably." Chloe said.

Oliver laughed, "Right, I get it. You might run half way across the world and play at being a new person, but some things don't ever change."

"Like what?" Chloe bristled, crossing her arms against her chest as Oliver walked towards her.

"Like the way you still have a set of rules for yourself to play by separate from the ones the rest of us have to live with."

He stopped in front of her, the two of them caught in a match of wills.

"That's not true." Chloe leaned against the wall, unable to stop noticing for all the ways that she'd changed, Oliver was exactly the same.

Oliver couldn't imagine how badly she wished she could let her knight in shining green leather whisk her back to her life of stolen kisses, superheroes, and the happiest and most fulfilling time of her life.

"You should leave now."

Chloe watched the way his eyelashes fluttered across those big, brown eyes and knew, knew that if she let him, he could convince her to do anything; and she knew she was hurting him; she was hurting herself too…

But she couldn't let it happen. It was still her job to protect them, all of them-but especially Oliver.

Oliver laughed again, scrubbing his hand across his face.

Have you met me, sidekick?

"Do you really think I'd give up as simply as that?" Oliver shook his head. She couldn't really think that he could give up that easily.

Not especially, Chloe thought, but I really hoped you would.

Besides, he'd made his feelings for her clear, hadn't he? He thought they were crystal.

"I'm not asking you to give up on anything." Chloe said, "I'm telling you that you should go home and keep doing your job, and I'll keep doing mine."

And keep you safe in the process.

"Appraising art, pricing kettles, playing antiques roadshow?" Oliver raised an eyebrow, "C'mon Chloe, that's not you. You're the superhero behind all of us-you are Watchtower, that's your job."

"The job that almost got both of us killed." Chloe turned her back on him, refusing to spend another minute on his big brown eyes and earnest ideas.

You're more innocent than you think you are, Ollie. I love that about you. But you can't get through life on optimism, naiveté, and sheer tenacity.

"Chloe," Oliver eclipsed the space that grew between them as she shied away from him; running after her finally, and grabbing her hand.

"I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe."

That wasn't the point! Chloe struggled against his grip, annoyed with Oliver's persistence with the subject. The longer he stayed here, the worse it would be. She was never worried about herself; he was the one whose safety she worried about every single day.

She glanced up to tell him to let her go, and leave but the words caught in her throat. Oliver's gaze locked into her eyes and the look of desperation was crystal clear.

I'm so sorry, Ollie, Chloe thought, weakening under that gaze, I do love you.

"This time," Oliver's voice broke for a moment, but he regained his composure with the grace that Chloe remembered. "I'll take better care of you. I won't let anything-anyone-hurt you."

His hand no longer held her there; it lingered in the air over her face, his fingers brushing across her cheekbone. Chloe had stopped struggling against his grip a long time ago, and now only struggled against the tears that threatened to fall. She had been doing so well until he found her-and it only hurt all the more to see the pain she caused him, trying to protect him.

Maybe what I did was wrong…

Oliver obviously blamed himself for what had happened to her, for losing her, and for her entire rejection of the life that had once been hers.

"Okay, then…" Chloe said resignedly, watching Oliver's eyes sparkle sanguinely, and the corners of his lips turn upwards. This was the Oliver she remembered, and if the thought of losing him wasn't so devastating, she would have smiled.

"Okay," Chloe repeated, trying with difficulty not to let him draw her in so much. "But can you promise me the same thing about yourself?"

Oliver cornered her against the dining room table, and Chloe gasped when his hands closed around her waist and lifted her onto the table.

His lips closed over hers, and she could only think fleeting that this wasn't the answer to her question. She felt Oliver's fingers brush softly across her midsection where her shirt had been pushed aside, and her skin tingled.

Some small, insignificant and rational, part of her brain told her that she should pull away as Oliver's lips assailed her mouth, but everything else in her was screaming go, and never let the moment end.

Chloe moaned softly as his tongue dipped into her mouth with invitation.

Damn you and your lips, Oliver Queen.

. . .

Oliver felt small hands press between their bodies, and fingers fumbled at his belt. He pulled away from Chloe, and pressed his palms down against the table, savoring the moment.

I'm never going to let you go.

Her baby blues shone, but too quickly she ducked away from him to focus on his pants, and he decided she's was the beacon again, saving him from despair-until her hands finally managed to dispose of his pants; and disappeared between his legs.

Vaguely, he heard her asking something along the lines of, 'Is this good? Should we move?'

All he could think was that she was wearing entirely too much clothing. He took a step back to escape from the pants that were going to trip him up and he nearly stumbled when Chloe surprised him by cupping him from behind.

She was clearly as sure about what they were doing as he was.

Oliver struggled against the moan that threatened to escape. It had been too long, but he'd be dammed if they weren't going to enjoy every second of this.

He slipped his arms around her shoulders and behind her knees, pulling her to his chest, a laugh escaping as she squealed breathlessly.

"Oliver! The windows are open!"

No longer did he think she was worried about anyone exposing them for anything-at least not in a boring way. For all of a second he imagined Clark's reaction if he picked up the paper and saw him cavorting with Chloe.

Certainly it would put a stopper in Lois' objections to his never-ending search for Chloe. No longer would he keep hearing her, constantly telling him, maybe it's time to move on, Oliver.

No, if he knew anything it was that he'd never be able to move on without her.

He stopped in front of the windows, smirking. "Should we close them?"

Chloe kicked in his arms and he laughed, holding her tighter. "You're not getting away from me, sidekick."

Oliver gave up on the charade and disappeared into the bedroom with her, where he dropped her carefully onto the bed. His hand reached behind her, cradling her head and he straddled her body, absorbing the moment for what it was.

He was with her again, and nothing would make him leave her.

"You're beautiful." He smiled, kissing her softly. "I know there are so many things that you want that I can't promise you…but I can promise you that I love you Chloe-I've loved you since you left, and I'll love you until I die."

"I love you too, Ollie."

Her parted lips seemed to be inviting him, and he pressed his mouth to hers.

You are the only thing I want.

. . .

"So, you don't need to be Watchtower." Oliver said simply.

He had been ready to counter any disagreement or argument that Chloe had for leaving him when the sun rose on them again. Oliver supposed he had them prepared from the day that he realized he'd fallen in love with her.

For all the things Oliver Queen was good at, losing the people that he loved, for all the practice he'd had, was not something he had become proficient at.

Underneath his arm, he propped himself up on one of Chloe's bed pillows, resting his cheek on open palm and watched her with a smile. She was even more beautiful and wonderful than he'd remembered.

There was nothing that he wouldn't do for her.

"Oh, really? What then?" Chloe was sitting across from him, with a disparaging smile, and far enough from him that she escaped his range of motion.

Did she think that would stop him? If two plus years, and an ocean hadn't stopped him, a few inches didn't seem like much of a challenge.

Chloe looked at him from under the brown fringe that grazed her eyebrows, periodically brushing her bangs from her eyes. There was a challenge in her eyes that he was more than ready to take on.

I'm not going to lose you again, Oliver thought, following her gaze.

"I'm not an asset, Oliver. Even as Watchtower, even if we cut out..." Chloe gestured between the two of them, "I'm your weakness."

She paused, and Oliver was struggling to comprehend her consideration of giving each other up. He couldn't go back to that; he didn't want to-especially not when he could see that she wanted him too.

"You disobey protocol." Chloe's tone was accusatory, a glare of the old annoyance both of them remembered so well in her eyes. "You could have died because of it, and that would have been my fault."

"I'll follow protocol." He could see from the look in her eyes that both of them knew he was lying. Oliver knew that he would make the same decision in a second. Never would he risk Chloe's life.

"It can be different." He tried, making an effort to recover from the lie that neither of them believed.

"You're lying." Chloe told him, point blank; she didn't have the energy to dance around the argument any more. "And I don't love Watchtower more than you. The last two years have been more than proof that you can all function without me."

Chloe smiled, what did she see every morning in the Daily Planet? They'd all become the heroes that she always knew they would be. And it made her proud to see what he and Clark did every day and know that in her own way, she'd helped them along their path.

"You've been amazing, Oliver. I knew your wouldn't let me down."

"Then don't come back for Watchtower, or the League." Oliver paused, leaning towards her with a definite glint of determination in his eyes. "Come back for me, and I promise everything will be okay."

Had he forgotten that not everything in life could be accomplished through sheer persistence and determination? Whether either one of them liked it or not, there were some things that just could not work, regardless of how desperately you wanted them to.

"You're getting in the habit of making promises you can't cash." Chloe rose from the bed and stretched, turning her back to Oliver.

What had she been thinking? Right, she hadn't been. Chloe knew that the last thing she should be doing was falling into bed with Oliver, but he had the habit of confusing everything for her. Yet another reason to stay as far from him as possible-she didn't use her head when he was there.

She'd more than passed her quota of things that she wasn't going to do if Oliver Queen walked back into her life.

Let him in? Check.

Kiss him? There wasn't even any point to checking that off. She might as well scribble through it and write, in all capitals, FAIL.

Having him make love to her in her bed hadn't even made the short list, but she really wasn't feeling like that made the situation any better. Never mind the fact that they did it twice.

Just thinking about it was enough to flush her cheeks and to feel them burning with shame. She was supposed to be pushing him away, not giving either of them any reason to prolong their time together.

Twice! God, Chloe groaned internally, had she taken a complete leave of her senses, or was Oliver really that persuasive?

Oliver shrugged, "It's amazing the checks you can cash with a few billion dollars to back it up."

Oh…cute…Chloe thought sarcastically.

"Come back home with me." Oliver requested with an earnest edge to his voice. "I'll do anything-anything at all you want."

"Oh, yeah," Chloe laughed, picturing for a moment the headlines as she jetted into Metropolis with Oliver; playing Oliver Queen's girlfriend. Queen's It Girl. Eh-not the title she'd choose, but those reporters weren't exactly overflowing with creativity.

Being the news had never been in her range of interests, it was one of the reasons why she'd been so insistent to keep things casual back when there was still a 'them.'

"I think I'd be a tough act for the tabloids to follow after the Danish underwear model, and the up and coming actress, what was her name…?" Chloe looked up at him with a fleeting smile as she kept up the running commentary. "Never mind Lois Lane-now that one was fun for all of us."

"Funny." Oliver remarked without much humor in his voice, "You know, you never seemed to care about what the papers had to say before."

"You're being unrealistic, Oliver." Chloe pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail as she heard Oliver get out of bed. "This can't work."

He was as persistent as ever, Chloe decided as she felt his hands curve around her shoulders.

"Forget about the papers, forget about Watchtower."

Oliver gently turned her around until she was facing him. It was as she looked into those brown eyes that were just pleading with her to come home with him that it struck her once more.

She loved him so much.

"I have a high profile job for you." Oliver's smile made her heart skip a beat, "Something you'd like-I hope."

"You just won't give up." Chloe shook her head, "Will you, Ollie?"

Oliver shook his head, biting his lower lip; a move that never failed to turn her on. She didn't even think he realized he did it; it was just a piece of Oliver Queen. It reminded her of a little boy.

"When it comes to you, no."

Chloe sighed; he really wasn't going to make this easy for her.

"The title's a little hefty." Oliver dropped down to one knee, determined to do this at least partially right.

"Oliver." Chloe's heart skipped a beat for a second time, but not for the same reasons. "Oliver, this-"

Oh my... This could not be his solution to their problems.

"God, you are stubborn!" Oliver grinned, looking up at her with less confidence than usual, and she felt herself quiver as he clung to her hand, and stared at her. It scared her when he did that, because sometimes she felt like he knew exactly what she was thinking. "Can't I even get a chance?"

"Oliver!" Chloe hissed, his name catching in her throat.

This was not-it was not even possible. It wasn't even on her list of scenarios from which to deflect Oliver.

"Chloe Sullivan, will you marry me?"

. . .

A/N: For anyone interested, I had originally planned on a more explicit love scene for Chloe and Oliver but upon the advice of my beta, Ieresial, who thought it was above the M rating, I nixed it and will place it in my so far unused LJ. Just let me know and I'll share the link.