a/n A big thanks for the alerts, "favourites" and reviews. Enjoy the last chapter.
Dinner was a spectacular feast. Emil was treated to authentic local French cuisine and to the finest wines Oliver's money could buy. Emil looked at Oliver's bandaged hand, "You know I am a doctor."
"Douglas is a man of many talents," he looked over to where Douglas was sitting and smiled. "It's nothing. Accidents like these come with the territory. Douglas has tended worse."
"Oh like that time when…." and they spoke for hours until the 5 course dinner had been devoured.
"I'm stuffed. Douglas you outdo yourself everytime," said Emil patting his stomach.
"A cognac?" suggested Oliver.
"Of course…Hennessey Paradis?" asked Emil.
"I keep it just for you."
Emil avoided the discussion topic of earlier in the day instead choosing to focus on the new medical facility he'd run in Versailles, funded by Roberts Industries. They discussed Oliver's dealing with his new company and how now his net worth was embarrassing. Oliver laughed. They spoke about old times until late into the night when Emil stood, "Ollie I'm exhausted. Mind if I retire?"
Oliver smiled at his friend, "You know your way Emil. Sleep tight. We run tomorrow." He couldn't see it but he knew it was there, Emil's frown.
"Night Oliver." Oliver waved him away.
While the boys were talking, Douglas had his own agenda. He ventured outside quietly until he spotted the intruder. "Hello Miss…?" said Douglas quietly.
Chloe jumped out of her skin as her heart pounded furiously. She had been caught. "Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan."
"Miss Sullivan I have a plate of leftovers would you like some or do you intend to stalk the chateau all night?" asked Douglas with a wry smile.
"You're not calling the police?" asked Chloe ready to run.
"Goodness no. I know who you are. Please do come in. The boys are in the reading room far from the kitchen."
Chloe felt embarrassed but mostly relieves, "Ok I am a bit hungry."
He extended his hand, "This way."
She entered the kitchen. The place was incredible. It was immaculate, state of the art and so tastefully Oliver. "Mr. Oliver has impeccable taste. When he bought this he insisted on decorating it himself," said Douglas placing plates of goodies in front of her. "Now would you prefer wine or coffee?"
Chloe's ears pricked at the word coffee, but a glass of wine was preferable. "I think I'll have the wine thank you…?" waiting for Douglas to give her his name.
"Oh I'm sorry. I'm Douglas, Mr. Oliver's butler and once butler to his father."
"How long have you been here?"
"Oh since Mr. Oliver bought it so long ago. He shared wonderful summertime memories with his parents here. He wanted to hold on to those by buying the chateau. He's nostalgic like that, don't you find?"
Chloe's face suddenly reddened and she nodded. Then placing her fork down, she looked at Douglas busily cleaning the kitchen, "Douglas?"
"I know that tone anywhere. If you want answers my dear, you need to speak to Mr. Oliver himself. I can't and won't get involved, sorry Miss Sullivan," said Douglas.
Wow! Now she understood why this unassuming man worked for Oliver. "Ok…tonight?"
"Best not. He is in a good mood and he's had a bit to drink. I know your discussion will not be a light one, so I suggest tomorrow morning. I'll prepare a bed in the servants' quarters away from the main part of the house, if that's satisfactory?"
"That's..I never expected this. I thought you'd call the police or just kick me out," apologized Chloe.
"Butlers know everything. I know your relationship and history with Mr. Oliver and I know you both need to sort things out. As much as I know the effect it will have on Mr. Oliver I think it's necessary for both of you to resolve issues and shed some light on some secrets. Mr. Oliver is lonely, even though he doesn't admit it," said Douglas looking directly at Chloe.
She was so amazed by his candid admission and overwhelmed by his honesty, "Thank you Douglas," and they smiled.
The sun blazed in the sky as it welcomed the new day. Chloe woke surrounded by silk sheets, so much for servants' quarters she thought. She loved everything about the chateau. It was so Oliver. She felt her heartbeat hasten and anxiety grip her as the moment of confronting Oliver grew near. She showered and dressed and fixed her hair. Looking in the mirror she said, "It's now or never Sullivan. Tell him exactly how you feel about his selfish behavior."
She entered the kitchen and saw Douglas dressed impeccably in his suit, preparing breakfast. "Good morning Miss Sullivan. Hungry?" he said as he offered her a cup of deliciously smelling coffee.
"Not yet…maybe after," said Chloe taking in the aroma.
Douglas nodded, "You'll find Mr. Oliver sitting outside. Dr. Hamilton always rises after 10. You have plenty of time. Just…tread lightly. He has had a lot to deal with."
The final comment threw Chloe. But she nodded and opened the French doors that led outside. He wasn't there. She looked around when she heard splashing. He was swimming. She decided to watch until he noticed her. He swam for an eternity then he hung onto the edge and looked directly her way. She tentatively smiled but he didn't respond. She became agitated but she was resolute. She'd wait and face him. He pulled himself out of the pool grabbing the towel he had placed in the very same position he placed it every morning. The movement was fluid and so Ollie. He was a god: his perfect features glistening in the sunlight. Her heart ached, as did other parts of her body. She yearned for him so much.
He walked towards the several steps leading up to the verandah in measured steps. She noticed however the awkwardness he displayed when he got to the steps. He was disjointed and clumsy. He regained his composure and walked towards the table. His left arm wildly searching for a chair until it hit one. His fingers ran along it until he found the seat and sat down. Chloe felt suddenly unsure, as if she was intruding. There was no way he couldn't see her. She stood a couple of feet from the table. Her heart was beating faster. He wrapped the towel around his neck and soaked in the sun until…
"Oliver?" she whispered.
Suddenly she saw him become rigid as he drew up into the chair. She saw the movement and walked over to his side, "Oliver?"
He recognized the voice and his face flushed, "Chloe, what are you doing here? Douglas didn't announce any visitors." He kept looking ahead feigning indifference hoping he'd anger her enough that she'd leave. But Chloe knew something wasn't right. Two very stubborn people.
"I came looking for you. I needed to see you," she said moving in front of Oliver. His eyes darting about trying to focus but exaggerating the fact they couldn't. His hand stumbled for his sunglasses and he forced them on. Now he felt more in control. But the whole event wasn't lost on Chloe. She started to suspect and she felt herself crumbling.
"I thought the whole idea of leaving and moving to France would've screamed…I want to be alone," said Oliver coldly.
"Your actions speak loudly. But I wanted to hear you articulate the reasons for your desertion," said Chloe.
"My desertion? That's choice coming from you…oh no that's right, you can take the moral high ground because Dr. Fate advised you to. It was to protect and save us in the future. Oh our great savior. You and Boyscout make a great team! Gods determining our future. I'm surprised you even remembered or cared about mortals like me. I'm truly honored. But I hate to disappoint you Chloe. I'm not the self-sacrificing hero you thought me to be. My reasons are not that noble. I left because I got bored with the whole superhero stuff. It was time for Oliver Queen to move on. Now if you don't mind I'd like you to go and forget this address," said Oliver, still not looking at her.
She was hurting as his words cut like razor blades. Deep down she knew they weren't true but he spat them out with so much conviction that her resolve waivered but she was determined to stay strong, "Wow…I didn't know that's how you felt. I came wanting some answers and I guess I got them. So all those times we were together, the times we'd lay in bed and talk about the future; it was all meaningless. The inspiring talks you gave to the JLA meant nothing. The lives you saved, all trophies for your drinking buddies. Well Oliver I am sorry I disturbed you from all your debauchery and mindless wandering of the party scene. I'm surprised Emil thinks your still worthy of his friendship!"
He scoffed before she left and said, "He only puts up with me because I've built him a new Medical Facility in Paris. You'd know what that's like Chloe remember when you BORROWED money from me. That's all people want is my money oh and by the way my personal worth is over 16 billion just in case you want to BORROW more."
But before he could finish, Chloe slapped him with all her hurt and pent up anger. He had no way of knowing it was coming and it pushed off him balance sending him crashing to the floor. She stood there horrified. Her Ollie would've grabbed her hand but he didn't. He took it full force. He got his bearings and started to get up but all the furniture had moved out of position and he floundered. She saw Oliver, her Green Arrow, searching for something to lean against. She saw his eyes darting around. He was acting so strange. She extended her hand. He didn't take it and she pulled it back. He clumsily found the edge of the table and pulled himself up, wiping the corner of his mouth where he tasted the coppery flavor of blood. "Good got it out of your system, now leave!"
"Ollie look at me," she said sternly. He refused. He kept his head down.
"Ollie LOOK AT ME!" she yelled hysterically.
"GO HOME!" he grunted.
She grabbed his handsome face and turned it towards her. He fought it but Chloe was like a tenacious terrier. She held it, looking deep into his eyes and she saw nothing. "What colour top am I wearing?" she asked afraid of the answer. But none was forthcoming.
He slapped her hands away and turned he hoped, in the direction of the chateau. He took a few steps then stumbled as he fell down the steps that led to the pool. Chloe stood in horror, "OLIVER!"
He gathered himself and sat defeated. "Get out," he begged, "please just leave me alone."
"You can't…" Chloe just couldn't say the words. She choked up, tears started to stream down her cheeks and she started sobbing.
"See…no I can't Chloe. I'm blind. My optic nerves are completely damaged. All I see is darkness. Not shades of grey or shadows but total and complete darkness. Are you happy now? Are you satisfied that you've taken that small amount of dignity away from me? Is this what you wanted? Go and tell them that the Green Arrow is a cripple, tell them how the mighty have fallen and how I deserved it. So then I'll not only have your pathetic pity but theirs as well!" screamed Oliver.
Chloe stood holding herself. She feared if she'd let go, she'd fall to pieces. Her wonderful Oliver left because he was blind not because he didn't care about her or the JLA. How could life be so cruel? Oliver had already lost so much, more than a lot of people and now he had lost his sight, the only sense he truly needed and depended on. She felt his heartbreak, she felt his desperation and she understood why he had left. She watched him pant and fight to regain his composure, "What, now you're speechless?"
Chloe didn't bite. She edged herself closer to Oliver and eased herself down. He jumped at her closeness. She placed her hands on his cheeks, he tried to pull away but she held on and she kissed him. She felt him tremble under her hold. The kiss lingered as she felt him hiccup. His emotional walls were crumbling and he started to sob. He never really felt the loneliness until she kissed him. She drew him closer to herself and held him, "You left because you had lost your sight Oliver. You left because you couldn't face everyone's pity. There is more to you than your sight Ollie, you are more than Green Arrow, you are MY hero and the love of my life. You are more to your friends than money or leadership; you are their friend foremost. You were so wrong to believe or think otherwise. Come home."
Oliver's hands searched for Chloe's face. Her fingers grabbed his hands and placed them on her face. He felt her tears and he wiped them away. His fingers tracing her face, the face that he'd grown to love. He found a point to focus and pictured her green eyes, her smooth blond strands and that smile that had brought him to his knees. Then for the briefest of moments Chloe saw Oliver's eyes focus on hers, for a brief moment all the hurt and all the pain disappeared. His thumbs ran over her lips and he moved in and kissed her, "I forgot what it was like. I have missed you so much."
"I want you home. Please come home with me."
Oliver let her go and sat pensively, "Chloe they say eyes are the windows to the soul and mine are broken."
"I've always been able to see into your soul Ollie…always. I don't need your eyes. I know it's noble, loving and strong. Let me love you, Ollie for who you've always been, for who I know you are. You're not broken. You've already proven how determined and strong you are on your own, imagine what you can achieve surrounded by people who care about you," she argued placing her hand on his knee.
"I've changed, Chloe. I'm not the same man I was before. My dark moments are dark. I wouldn't inflict them on anyone. I'm fine here. I've got Douglas and I couldn't face going back. But you could stay here with me for a while," suggested Oliver, feeling for her hands.
"I could do that on one proviso."
"You let me tell the others."
"No." He was adamant and took his hands away and stared ahead, his heart rate quickening.
"Please," pleaded Chloe. He couldn't see her doey eyes, but he knew they were there.
Oliver was silent. He got up and straightened his lean body, wincing at the scrape on his forearm, "Point me to the house," he said curtly.
She got up and grabbed his hand, "Take my arm."
He hesitated then started in the opposite direction he had fallen down the stairs. She looked on, just like a mother watching her child and shaking her head. He heart was aching watching Oliver, who once had some much grace, agility and prowess, resemble a baby giraffe taking its first steps. She saw the chair and she saw him stumble right into it.
"Awww…shit. Bloody chair," cursed Oliver. Whilst rubbing his shin, he angled his voice to her, "Finding this funny, are you? You stood there and watch me walk straight into it, didn't you?"
Chloe was giggling now as she walked over and grabbed his arm, "Let me help you!"
He pulled it away angrily, "I don't need your help and I don't need your pity."
She huffed at his stubborn nature and grabbed his arm again, "You do need my help, we all need help and it's not pity you big dufus, I love you."
That's when she saw his head turn trying to locate her face and a slight smile appeared. It looked so perfect on his face. This time he didn't pull away, "Come on let's get that checked out," and she helped him back to the chateau and back to the extremely surprised face of a waiting Emil and a very please Douglas.
"Chloe?" Emil asked shocked at the presence of Chloe and, "Oliver?"
"It's time for a family reunion!"