The setting sun gave the marina a blue glow that the lights strung up along the docks from pole to pole did little to fight. Not far from the harbor, he could hear the ringing of a buoy floating in the water, knocking side to side from the wind. The water lapped at the edges of the boats all lined up in their assigned spots, tied to the dock, some rocking noticeably while others gave only a faint sway. The ocean water gave the air a salty scent that he was well used to by now. A foghorn blew somewhere out in the distance, a cruise ship passing by. Oliver stood staring out over the water, his hands tucked in the pockets of his jeans, watching as the lack of light began to turn the blue depths black.
"Since when does the almighty Oliver Queen live on a houseboat?" her voice called out, drawing him from his thoughts.
Turning, his brows furrowed, he spotted her standing on the docks, arms crossed loosely over her waist. "Not living, exactly…" he said. "Although my neighbors might argue that since I've been here all week."
Her lips quirked with amusement. "Given your history with the yacht, I'm still a little surprised you're willing to set foot on one."
"Wasn't the boat that tried to pillage and kill me… Just the captain." He lifted his shoulders high and folded his lips. "And since I'm the captain and I'm not feeling particularly suicidal, I think I'm good for now."
She shrugged, ticking an eyebrow. "Permission to come aboard, Captain?"
He grinned. "Granted." Crossing to her, he pushed at a piece of the wall of the boat that lowered to create a set of three stairs. He held a hand out to take hers and squeezed as it slipped into his own. She jumped forward and let her weight and him pulling her in propel her onto the boat, skipping the steps entirely, her body colliding with his abruptly. She raised her chin to look up at him, her hand still wrapped in his. He put it on her shoulder before letting his fingers slide down the top of her hand and over her wrist, pausing to play with the yellow, green and red wood beads of her bracelet while his free arm wrapped around her waist. "It looks good on you," he told her, nodding his chin toward her jewelry.
She jangled it on her wrist, staring at it admiringly. "Yeah, well, since you went through the trouble of finding it for me, I figured I might as well wear it."
His lips curved, amused. "I stopped at an island on my way back; they had a street full of handmade jewelry and clothing… I saw this one and I thought of you."
"Breaking down fears everywhere you go," she mused. "Not just on a boat but visiting islands, too. I'm impressed."
"I think you'd have been more impressed if you came with me," he told her, sliding his hand up and down her back, the soft fabric of her orange top riding up with each movement. "Of course, we wouldn't want to jinx this…" He pursed his lips with mocking seriousness, "'whatever' this is by taking another joint vacation…"
Rolling her eyes, Chloe shook her head. "So I didn't feel like traveling the open seas with you… For all you know, I get motion sick and was just trying to save you from the unfortunate memory of seeing me upchuck all over your nice, shiny yacht."
His brow arched. "Really? You turned down sailing away with me on my extravagant boat because you thought I might be turned off by a little puke? I— I'm actually offended, Sidekick. That you think so little of me that a little vomit would actually change my feelings."
The teasing quality of his voice made her tip her head and stare at him, lips pursed to hide her smile. "Uh-huh, feign offense all you want, Queen. But you'll appreciate it later… One day I'm going to get sick and you're going to wish you could erase my puke-face from your mind."
"Puke-face," he repeated, a chuckle vibrating from his throat. "That's quite an image, actually."
He shook his head, grinning lightly. Letting his fingers glide down her arm and up to her shoulder, he walked them over the spaghetti strap of her top and into the curve of her neck. "Well, puke-face or not, I still think you would've had fun…"
"Since you spent an extra week docked here and didn't call me, I can only assume you survived without me," she reminded, giving him a wry smile.
"Well, maybe I was giving you more time to miss me," he argued, burying his fingers at the nape of her neck, tangled in her hair.
"So what? Next time you spring a surprise vacation on me I won't hesitate to go?" she deduced knowingly, raising both eyebrows as she stared at him.
"You're getting way too good at anticipating me," he told her. "Seriously, it's scary. If you ever go dark side, I don't stand a chance."
Chuckling under her breath, she cupped his face, her thumb rubbing his cheek. "Ollie, I didn't say no to the vacation because I wanted to get away from you… I didn't even say no because I feared puking in front of you. I've got a pretty strong stomach, especially after riding the Bart and Clark express as often as I have."
He winced. "Riding gives me a weird image… Can we reword that to something that doesn't make me think two of my team have seen you naked?"
Her eyes fall. "Technically, Clark has—"
"Hm-mm," he interrupted, shaking his head, his mouth folded in a grimace. "Yeah, we're not going there. Personally, I choose to pretend that incident at the B&B never happened. He didn't see anything. In fact, he was momentarily blinded!" He nodded, feeling good about his mental rewrite of what had happened.
"Okay, fine, so I wasn't riding any team members…" She amended, "Besides you… When you're lucky."
He smirked. "I seem to remember being very lucky… In fact, I'm feeling a hot streak right now."
"Well try and hold onto it a little longer, because we're not done talking," she told him. Unwrapping herself from his arms, ignoring the pout he gave her, she walked away to where seats were built into the structure of the boat, just short of a set of stairs that would bring them down to another level. Taking a seat, she patted the spot next to her.
With a sigh, he followed, sitting in the corner of the booth seat and resting his arms on the back. "Is this the part where you put all my fears about our relationship and whether or not you're on the same page as me to rest? Because I have to admit, I've been waiting on it awhile…" He closed one eye and thinned the other. "In fact, I think it's been about since three weeks ago when I told you I planned the perfect romantic getaway for us and you shot me down flat…" His lips pursed, the lines of his jaw standing out more defined. "Or, more accurately, maybe since this whole thing started and you were manning the brakes a little heavy-handed…"
Turning herself to face him better, she gave him a soft smile. "So I've been hesitant," she admitted.
His eyes widened at what he deemed a very big understatement, but as he opened his mouth to tell her that, she raised a finger to stop him, her expression warning. He relaxed, nodded, and waved a hand for her to continue.
"My history with men is…" She shook her head. "Difficult, at best…" She frowned. "Just from what you've seen, between Davis and Jimmy, I mean that's not… That is not normal!" she reminded rather shrilly.
He conceded her point, even while thinking in his head that he was pretty far from being like Jimmy or Davis. Mild-mannered photographer with very little information on the superhero world was a pretty far cry from cocky billionaire vigilante, in his opinion. And as for Davis…? Well, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what that man/alien really was. Whether it was the paramedic who wanted to save lives or the monster that lived inside him who wanted to destroy them, all with having an unhealthy attachment to Chloe, Oliver could honestly say he didn't think he and Davis were all that alike. Dual identities included, Oliver had a better handle on his double life and thankfully his leather-toting side wanted only to stop corruption and save the innocent, rather than maim and kill. But he could see where Chloe was coming from; her last two relationships, if Davis even qualified, were a mess. She'd been married to someone she hadn't shared her whole self with, keeping far too many secrets for a marriage to survive, and she'd harbored a murderous fugitive before striking out on her own with him in the hopes of keeping Clark safe. Her altruistic lack of self-preservation was something he both loved and hated; he admired that she thought of others before herself, but a large part of him wanted her to realize just how important she was; to him, to the team, to the world at large.
"And before that? Well…" She laughed deprecatingly. "Let's just leave it at a long list of homicidal meteor freaks who held a torch for me that I really wish had blown out earlier…"
Besides reading each of her Torch articles from way back when, he heard it first-hand from her when she broke down her dating history some time ago. Now that he thought about it, they really needed to work on their pillow talk. All in all, he knew that her past with boys and men alike had been anything but forgiving.
"I get it," he told her sincerely. "Every normal relationship you tried your hand at blew up in your face… Massively… Sometimes even literally." He reached out and squeezed her hand, dragging it into his lap. "But give us a little credit here, Chloe…" He shook his head. "We've got no secrets between us; it's all laid out on the table. I'm not infected and if I was, I'd really hope I'd reach out for help before I lost my mind." He smiled teasingly. "And I'd like to think I'm the antithesis of all things Doomsday, so…" He stared at her searchingly. "I'm not saying I'm perfect… I've got my own closet of skeletons and I was by no means Mr. Relationship before this, but…" His thumb rubbed against the pulse hammering at her wrist. "I love you." He watched her face soften and felt his mouth curve in a smile. "I want this to work and I'm trying really hard to show you that you can trust me and be with me and it's not going to turn into another mistake you add to your dating history…" He smirked then. "I like to think of myself as the exception to most rules, so it doesn't surprise me that I'm coming out at the front of this looking like a champ."
Chloe laughed, her head falling back. "Wow, and you had me going there until your massive ego jumped in and ruined the whole effect."
"I don't know about ruined… Maybe dented," he argued.
Still chuckling softly, she leaned back in her seat. "So maybe I should've had a little more faith and come on vacation with you," she admitted.
Raising his hand, he tucked it behind his ear and furrowed his brows. "What was that? Was… Was that you admitting you made a mistake?"
Her eyebrow arched. "Yeah, don't push your luck, Queen."
Smiling, he shrugged. His arm pressed against the back of the seat curved around her, fingers combing through her hair. "I missed you… Somehow sailing off into the sunset on my lonesome was just a little bit depressing…"
"Yeah, well, coming home to an empty clock tower was more than a little lonely…" She turned her eyes away and admitted, "And I might've spent the last two weeks at your penthouse, but I think all the green only added to my melancholy."
He hummed, her hair sifting softly through his fingers. "Victor did say you were kind of grumpy the last few times he saw you…" he mused.
"I don't know how you wrangled this team before me!" she told him, her brows hiked meaningfully. "It's a two-person job minimum…" She shook her head. "Bart and Victor bicker like children and AC only goads them on… And Clark? Talk about no help at all. Whenever he stopped by and they were acting out, he'd swoop in, get what he needed, and swoop out before I could even ask him to help mediate or lend a hand in separating them before somebody got hurt or something got broken!" She scoffed. "Which reminds me, I don't know how they did it, but they broke a coffee maker and my toaster… They're lucky my caffeine addiction meant I had a back-up, but still… Since when is it okay for two grown men to wrestle?"
Head tipped, he just watched her as she released her frustrations, smiling in amusement.
"So it wasn't just that you missed me so much as that you needed me…"
She glared at him. "For back-up purposes, sure."
"And because you were lonely and missed my company… both in and out of bed."
"I might've missed you in my bed a little more than out of it…" she snarked, "There's less talking."
He snorted. "Good to know I'm appreciated."
Rolling her eyes, she reached out and, pinching the fabric of his dark brown shirt, gave it a tug. "Oliver, if all I wanted was sexual gratification, I would've cracked open that green vibrator Lois gave me for my birthday last year."
He choked, his eyes widening slightly. "I'm only just hearing about this now?"
She laughed. "It got stuffed away in my boxes when I was moving things around. I don't even think it's out of its packaging."
"Oh, I think you'd remember if you opened it," he argued, waving a finger.
She grinned. "Now I think you're just digging for the dirty details…"
"I wouldn't be opposed to hearing about what Mr. Green and you did while I was away, no…"
"Mr. Green? Really?" She quirked her brows and tipped her head questioningly. "We couldn't come up with something a little better than that?"
"I don't have a whole lot of details to go on here, Chloe. It's green and it vibrates. Now if you were to elaborate a little more…" he suggested, taking on a faux-innocent expression.
"Elaborate?" She nodded, turning her body and raising her chin so she was closer to him, their mouths nearly brushing. "Like maybe where I was, what I was thinking about…" She licked her lower lip and then sunk her teeth into it. "How it felt when I—" She hitched her breath on purpose and Oliver's breathing grew shallow, his eyes darkening as he stared at her mouth. Which curved slowly, teasingly. "Maybe some other time."
He frowned, glaring at her. "You are a cruel woman…"
"Seriously, I've been away three weeks. No touching, no kissing, no petting, heavy or otherwise… and here I come to you, offering to help you name my temporary replacement and this is what I get."
With a smirk, she replied, "Who said anything about temporary?"
Scoffing, he shook his head. "You're pushing it now, Sidekick…" He wrapped his arms around her, hands topping one over the other against her ribs. "I think we both know I'm the best bed partner to ever rock your world."
"Hey, you said it yourself!" She wagged a finger. "You don't know the details of Mr. Green, so you can't speculate that—"
He was nodding dismissively at her until his mouth was suddenly on hers. Her words were cut off immediately, replaced with an approving hum. Sliding her arm around his neck, she gripped the short blonde hairs at the base of his head and met his hot, slanting lips as they met hers. His tongue dragged across hers before curving up and teasing the roof of her mouth. It was a few minutes of just his teeth grazing, nipping, and his lips suckling hers between them, breathing becoming heavy pants between each kiss, before he finally drew back. Chloe looked slightly dazed, her lips red and swollen, her teeth pinching the bottom one as she stared at his mouth a few long seconds.
"Since Mr. Green can't do that… I'm going to have to stick to my guns here and say I come out on top." Leaning in, he brushed her nose with his, adding, "Although, under you isn't an unpleasant position to be in either."
Cheeks flushed, Chloe's eyes darted up to meet his. "It's been a long three weeks…" she mused.
He grinned. "Absolutely."
Tipping her head, she raised her hand up and let her thumb graze his cheek, her fingers buried just behind his ear. His eyes wandered to her bracelet once more before he looked at her again. "Before we take this to the bedroom…" He rubbed his thumb over her side. "I want us to take a vacation together… I want us to be able to do anything and everything that normal, every-day, non-superhero type couples do…" He shook his head. "I know it scares you and I know you haven't had the best luck in the past. But I really don't think that pattern is going to repeat itself with us…" He stared at her wonderingly. "So I'm asking you to take a real chance on me."
Chloe met his gaze seriously. "Since Clark has been falling down some in his wrangling duties, I don't think it'd be the worst plan if we asked him to watch the team for a week while we broke out our passports and put them to good use…"
His face split in a grin. "Really?"
She nodded, chuckling slightly. "You make a good argument."
"Okay…" He licked his lips but couldn't keep his smile at bay. "I'll call Boyscout in the morning, set something up, and then you and I will charter my jet for anywhere you wanna go…" He raised a brow questioningly. "Any ideas?"
Shaking her head, she lifted up and moved closer. "Let's figure that out tomorrow," she said decisively. "Right now, I'm more interested in getting reacquainted…" She wiggled an eyebrow. "Clothing optional."
Laughing, he drew her in close and met her smiling lips in a kiss.
The following day, Clark was left looking more than a little irritated when Victor and Bart tried to explain how they managed to total the Watchtower, somehow breaking a couch and the fridge. When the "he started it"'s started flying, he rolled his eyes, massaged his temples, and hoped Chloe and Oliver's vacation was worth the headache.
Lying on a private beach, sharing a lounge chair, arms wrapped around each other as the ocean water lapped at the sand, the happy couple were blissfully unaware of his predicament, which, if their opinion had to be known, really was worth a little headache on Clark's part.