Pairing/Characters: Clark/Oliver, Hal Jordan, Bruce Wayne
Word Count: 10,445
Disclaimer: all characters belong to the CW/DC Comics
Summary: future fic; Oliver thinks Clark doesn't need him.
A/N: For my 10iloveyou table, prompt: "New Favorite
They all say it
I'll say it too
You've got a new favorite
Krauss Alison - New Favorite"
Another day, another meeting. Oliver Queen, decked in his Green Arrow gear, strode into the Hall, the chosen headquarters of the Justice League. As he glanced around, he exchanged nods and smiles with some of the other members, stopping when AC waved him over to the small group that had formed in the corner.
“Hey,” he greeted the other man, who was standing along with Dinah Lance, Bart Allen, and Diana Prince. Acknowledging the trio, all of whom were wearing amused expressions, he asked, “Did I miss a good joke?”
“No,” AC replied, grinning at him. “Bart was just bragging that he was here before Bruce.”
Ollie raised an eyebrow and smiled. “For one, he should be here before everyone, and two, how do we know for sure that Bruce is not already here?” he questioned, sparing a glance at the other man, and causing Bart to pout and the rest of the group to chuckle. Batman had gained quite the reputation of, despite having no superpowers of his own, disappearing and reappearing suddenly and without notice.
“Fair point, we should just ask Clark,” Dinah laughed. “If anyone is able to keep track of Bruce, it is him.”
Ollie’s smile strained but he nodded. “Yes, well, as much as anyone can keep track of Bruce anyway.”
“We should ask him his secret,” Diana remarked.
“No secret about it, “Bart interjected. “He’s just the favorite. As much as Batman can have a favorite anyway. Seems kind of terrifying to be Batman’s favorite anything if you ask me, but I guess it’s better than being on his shit list.”
“Think it goes both ways,” AC pointed out. “We all know Batman is Clark’s favorite too. I am surprised they are not together right now.”
“If they were, would we know?” Bart retorted.
Ollie swallowed the sudden lump in his throat, as the rest of them bantered, clearly entertained by the topic at hand. It was not like this was a unique topic of conversation amongst the League, but it still rubbed him the wrong way every time.
“I’m going to get some water,” he managed. After exchanging quick goodbyes, he headed toward the kitchen, taking a few quick breaths to try to calm down and push the conversation out of his head.
Once there, what he saw had him pulling to a stop, lips unconsciously curving into a smile at the sight. Clark Kent, better known to the world as Superman, wasn’t with Bruce, as some of his teammates thought, but instead was standing in front of the cabinets, a jar of peanut butter in one hand, and a box of crackers in the other, his lips pressed together as he seemed to be intently glancing at the back of the box.
“You know,” Oliver remarked, causing Clark to spin around at the sound of his voice, “I never knew a box of crackers could be that interesting. If it helps, I don’t think you have to worry about the calorie count.”
Clark smiled, the warmth of it hitting him like a ray of sunshine, making him want to stand there and bask in it. Ugh, such a sap. Stop acting like a pining idiot. Fortunately, his friend was oblivious to his thought process.
“I was just reorganizing some of the food,” Clark explained.
Ollie raised an eyebrow. “I would assume Superman had better things to do. Aren’t you busy enough as it is?”
“I’m no Oliver Queen,” Clark teased, setting the items in his hand on a shelf and closing the door. “Pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen you since our last meeting and that was over a month ago so if anyone is too busy, it is definitely you.”
“Oh right, you’re just trying to save the entire world,” Oliver pointed out. “I’m still limited to Star City.” The rest of the Clark’s statement hit, causing him to frown. “Yeah, I guess it has been a while.” As if he didn’t feel it, as if there weren’t moments in the middle of a day where it would just hit him how much he missed Clark and seeing him on a regular basis. Those were the times he wished he had stayed in Metropolis, but there were others where it just felt he was better off in Star City. Better off not being so close and having forced to see, forced to witness more of what he already knew.
What he was surprised was that Clark himself noticed. Between his work at the Planet and how much Superman was needed, Oliver believed Clark didn’t even think of him, much less realize how long it had been since they had seen one another.
“So we’re both busy,” Clark agreed, effectively snapping Oliver out of his thoughts. “Are you heading back to Star City immediately after the meeting?”
“Probably,” Oliver told him. “Unless there is a reason for me to stay-” He trailed off when he heard his name being called.
“Ollie, there you are!”
Oliver turned toward the sound, grinning at the sight of Hal Jordan walking in. The Green Lantern had become of Ollie’s closest friends in the League almost instantly after the other man joined, the two of them bonding through their sarcastic sense of humor and easy going nature.
Hal nodded toward Clark. “What’s up, Big Blue?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Clark replied, his smile seeming a little more forced. “How are you?”
“Could be better, have been worse,” Hal said, shrugging. Turning to Oliver, he added, “Sorry about bailing a couple nights ago.”
Oliver waved it off and shot him a teasing grin. “I’m used to you having to leave suddenly during our dates. How’d it go? Sinestro still being an asshole?”
Hal rolled his eyes at Oliver’s reference to Hal’s former mentor turned nemesis. “Yeah, nothing new there either. You free after the meeting? Do I have a story for you.”
“Sure, I have nothing planned,” Oliver responded. “And now I’m more than curious so this better be good.”
“I’ll try not to disappoint,” Hal shot back, brown eyes sparkling. “Meeting about to start though, right? I thought I was going to be late.”
“I was surprised you weren’t,” Oliver laughed. “We should probably head over though. I don’t need you to be dragging my reputation down to your level.” Suddenly, he remembered that he had forgotten Clark in the midst of catching up with Hal, and he turned to the other man, smiling apologetically. “See you there?”
Clark returned the smile and nodded, an unreadable expression in his blue-green eyes. Oliver didn’t have time to question it though and followed Hal as he walked toward the hallway and into the main meeting room, where he was greeted with the familiar sight of the large oval table in the middle of the room, and monitors plastered against the walls. With the way the League was still expanding, they were probably going to need a bigger room at some point, Oliver noted to himself, as he took a seat next to Hal.
Batman was already seated at the front of the table, folders in front of him; he and Clark alternated these days over who took charge of the meetings, Ollie surprisingly fine with taking a back seat as the team grew larger. For all that Batman had claimed he was a loner and Clark reluctant to take over what he felt was Oliver’s role, they had both settled in to the position nicely.
He watched from his seat as all the other members drifted in, Superman among them, deep in conversation with Victor Stone. The two parted and Clark walked over and took the seat next to Batman, the two of them greeting one another. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but Clark’s bright smile at the other man caused him to lower his eyes, remembering the conversation he had when he had entered. It wasn’t like they had been far from the truth about the state of Clark and Bruce’s relationship status. Bruce Wayne, which felt more like Batman’s alter ego than the other way around, and Oliver had interactions in their personal lives due to their jobs but not as much while in costume, and they had never been that close. Batman and Superman however were a different story. At the beginning, they were at odds, mostly due to Bruce’s distrust of Clark, but now they were partners and friends. “World’s finest” was what one paper dubbed them, after a joint save too many, a phrase that still left a bad taste in Oliver’s mouth.
But then again he tried not to think about it too much. Especially when there were tabloids speculated on whether the real love triangle was between Superman, Lois Lane, and Batman, with Superman in the center, not Lois. Oliver knew for fact that Clark and Lois were only friends, and they themselves got a laugh out the rumors about the two of them, but sometimes, he wondered about Clark and Bruce.
For better or for worse, Batman stood up, getting everyone’s attention and started the meeting, forcing Oliver to push the negative thoughts to the back of his mind, before he could continue to dwell.
At least the meeting went smoothly, Oliver managing to offer suggestions on a planned raid that was taking place in a few days, and they were able to end the meeting in less than two hours, which included a small break. Once it was officially over, Oliver stood up, glancing at his phone, trying to check on any notifications he had missed out.
Glancing over a few emails, he realized that he would be in Metropolis for a few days after all, meetings unexpectedly having popped up. Making a few notes on his calendar, he put his phone away, and lifted his head, finding himself locked with a pair of blue-green eyes across the room. Ollie shot Clark a grin and the smile was returned, causing Oliver to feel warm all over again. He thought about making a move toward Clark, let him know that he would be in town, and perhaps even suggest a meet up, but then just as quickly as he had Clark’s attention, it was gone again. Batman was speaking and Clark turned toward him, immediately focusing on the other man.
Oliver’s shoulders dropped and he looked away, meeting Hal’s own gaze, as his friend raised an eyebrow curiously. He just shrugged in response. “Still up for drinks? I think you owe me a story.”
“Yeah, of course,” Hal agreed. “Have a dinner date with Carol so not too long though.” Carol Ferris was Hal’s childhood friend and longtime on and off girlfriend. Clearly it was on again.
“You might want to be on time for that one,” Oliver joked, trying to liven up the mood and shove away any negative feelings. “How many chances is this now?”
Hal rolled his eyes and stood up. “Who can keep track? Just don’t remind her.”
“Think you’re safe there,” Oliver retorted, as they made their way toward the door. He suddenly stopped as it seemed another pair had the same idea, and his smile turned stiff at the sight of Clark and Bruce, who stopped their conversation to nod in acknowledgement of them.
“Looks like we’re not the only ones trying to get the hell out of here, huh?” Hal cracked.
Batman raised an eyebrow. “Apparently so, though I’m certain not as eager about the fact as you are.”
Hal shrugged, looking completely unapologetic. “Any exciting plans or are you going to go hide in your cave?”
“Nothing that would interest you,” Bruce told him, tone dry as ever.
“Eh, well, that was a given,” Hal replied. Oliver’s lips twitched but he didn’t smile. Hal and Bruce’s interactions tended to be entertaining; their personalities had caused them to clash from the start and even though Ollie knew that they had a grudging respect for one another, neither would ever admit it out loud. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Clark biting his lower lip, clearly trying to keep his own amusement in check and he felt a shared moment with his friend, despite being an outsider in the situation.
“And we should all probably get going,” Oliver interrupted, not wanting to wait around to see how long this would go on.
“Yeah, sounds good,” Hal said. They managed to maneuver and find themselves back in the hallway, all heading toward the entrance, both pairs falling back into conversation. Oliver couldn’t help but overhear Clark and Bruce’s conversation though.
“Did you still want me to come over for the-” Clark was saying.
“If it is possible,” Bruce replied.
“It is,” Clark said. The casual nature and the flow of their conversation caused his heart to twinge, but he pushed it away.
Oliver forced himself to listen to Hal and keep his conversation going. When they reached the door, he turned around, as so not to be rude. Bruce met his gaze and nodded.
“Evening, gentlemen,” Bruce told them.
“See you Bats, Supes,” Hal said cheerfully. Clark repeated the sentiment.
“Night Batman,” Oliver said, keeping his voice steady. “Later, Big Blue.” He turned toward Hal and followed him outside, not waiting for a response.
“So I have to go change,” Oliver told Hal. “Meet you at the usual spot in thirty?”
“Sure,” Hal agreed, before flying off. Oliver found his motorcycle, and hopped on, but before he left, he saw Superman and Batman exiting as well. What caught his eye was Clark’s expression seemed a bit distant. I wonder what’s going on in his head.
Not wanting to linger and catch their attention, he revved up his motorcycle and drove off. Besides, Bruce would be much better at solving whatever was going on with Clark than Oliver ever could. With that thought in mind, he headed to back to his apartment, quickly replacing his Green Arrow outfit for a pair of jeans, a forest green t-shirt and a black leather jacket.
True to his word, a little over thirty minutes later, he landed up at their designated meeting spot, Hal already there, and seated in a booth in the back. Sliding across from him, they exchanged smiles and greetings. Fortunately, the bar was casual and had enough people that he would be able to be inconspicuous.
Once they had ordered, they fell into an easy conversation, and Oliver felt more comfortable than he had all night. Their drinks arrived, and he took a sip of his beer, letting the last of the day’s tensions leave him. As Hal animatedly chatted about what went on at work, two guys walked past them, and the name “Superman” caught his attention. Looking up, he saw they were already gone, and the context missed him completely, but the image of Clark looking lost as he left earlier pushed to the forefront of his mind, making Oliver frown.
“Ollie?” Hal said, his voice breaking through Oliver’s thoughts. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Oliver responded, taking another sip of beer. “What were you saying?”
“Dude, you don’t look okay,” Hal told him, expression turning concerned as he leaned back in his seat.
Ollie paused. What was he supposed to say to that? “I’ll be fine,” he finally assured him, rubbing a hand on his face. “Guess I am just a little distracted.”
“Want to call it a night?” Hal offered.
He shook his head immediately. “No, I’ll be all right.” The only thing that would result in was him being left alone with his thoughts, and tonight was not the night he wanted to go down that particular path.
“If you say so,” Hal responded, doubt clear in both his expression and tone. He looked as if he was going to say more, but his eyes shifted toward the back wall. Ollie turned his head and followed his gaze, wincing as he saw what caught Hal’s attention. One of the TVs in the bar was turned on to a local news channel that was currently discussing a recent story about Superman and Batman breaking up a sex trafficking cult.
He turned back toward Hal, their eyes meeting. “Those two make quite the duo, don’t they?” Hal commented.
“Yeah, they do,” Ollie agreed reluctantly. The perfect partners, a duo that balanced each other out and saved the world together …one time, he thought he could be that other half for Clark, but that was clearly ridiculous. It was never going to happen for you. And it never would.
Hal must’ve seen something in his expression, because his shifted into one that seemed thoughtful. “You know, you can talk to me about anything, right?”
Ollie chuckled. “Does Carol know that you have this sensitive side?”
That got Hal to smirk. “I am a very sensitive person, in many a way.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” Oliver replied, with a sip of his drink. With that, they fell back into an easy banter, the rest of their time together going smoothly. Soon enough, they had to take off, and after a short flight to Metropolis, he found himself back in his apartment there, his mood slightly improved.
Once he settled himself, a quick glance to his watch made him realize that he should grab some dinner, and considering the state of his kitchen, he knew that it would have to be some sort of takeout. Grabbing his laptop to look up some menus, he wandered over to the chaise lounge and turned on the TV for background noise, only to quickly regret his decision.
Just his luck that the channel it was on was going on none other than the topic he was trying to avoid: Superman and Batman, and the depth of their so-called unique partnership. He knew he should turn it off or change the channel but instead just lowered the volume, studying the images on the screen. Even after all this time that Clark had been known as Superman, one of the greatest heroes the world had ever known, he could not help but remember Clark, the man he had met in this very penthouse. Always the hero, though much more reluctant to reveal himself to the world as such back then. Some days, it felt like he was completely a different person, but others, he could definitely still see the man he met all those years ago.
As for Batman, Oliver was certain he would never get a read on him. That was left to Clark, his other half, his perfect partner. Oliver did truly think once upon a time, that it could be the two of them, but how could it when Ollie had never fit Clark like Bruce did? Bruce, who somehow managed to beat him in every way possible, both in and out of costume, and not only that, had the same staunch moral “no killing code” that Clark to this day still proudly abided by.
A lump formed in his throat again, as he recalled Batman declaring that the League did not kill and the happiness and pride and most importantly, the relief, on Clark’s face. Oliver, on the other hand, would only always remember the look of horror when he remembered how cruelly he revealed his own murder of Lex Luthor. Sure, the other man ended up alive after all, but that did not make him any less of a murderer. Any less of a disappointment. It was a miracle that he even got to keep Clark in his life after all that.
Just like Clark upgraded from his red blue blur persona to Superman, he found a hero worthy to be his partner, in the crime fighting world and for all he knew, in his personal life too. If he was honest with himself, Oliver had never been a candidate for either position. Clark had never looked at him that way. Sometimes, he wondered if it was better to know for sure or just consider ‘what if’, but he could not settle on an answer. His mood ruined, he stood up suddenly, and turned off the TV, laptop and dinner options forgotten.
A knock snapped him out of his thoughts and he spun toward the noise, which was coming from the balcony, and took a startled step backward at the sight before him. The very person occupying his thoughts stood before him, behind the glass door. Clark, in his Superman outfit, grinned sheepishly and waved. He was stunned, but managed to quickly compose himself so he could walk toward the doors and unlock it, sliding them open.
“Hey,” he said, smiling, moving aside so Clark could enter. “I know the balcony and rooftops are your thing, but usually people take the elevator.”
Clark shrugged and grinned, as he followed him inside. “I didn’t even realize you would be home, but I was flying past your place, and saw you were in so I figured I would drop by.”
Closing the door, Ollie shook his head. His mind was jumbled but despite his mixed emotions, he was always happy to see Clark. “Well, hopefully you were not spotted. If the wrong people see you landing on my balcony, we are going to make some headlines.”
“I am sure the Inquisitor will be too happy to use a pun involving your last name,” Clark offered, chuckling.
Ollie shook his head and laughed too. “From Gotham’s knight to a Queen,” he joked, easily imagining all the possibilities in his head.
“Yeah,” Clark agreed, but then paused suddenly. “Wait, what?”
Ollie was walking toward the couch, moving his laptop to the glass table, and turned around at the confusion in Clark’s voice. “Hmm?”
“You said Gotham’s knight,” Clark pointed out.
“Oh yeah, don’t tell me you haven’t heard the rumors about you and Batman?’ Oliver asked, tilting his head, trying not to the let his feelings over the statement seep into his voice.
Clark shook his head, but answered, “Maybe once or twice. I didn’t realize it was that big of a thing. Mostly they still stick with my alleged romance with Lois.”
“You need to pay more attention then, Mr. Big Shot reporter,” Ollie joked. “It’s everyone’s new favorite topic.”
“I think I would rather avoid that type of story, thanks,” Clark retorted. “And I have never been one to pay much attention to gossip, especially when it is about me.”
“You would think that is the best kind, but can’t say I blame you,” Oliver agreed, wondering when an appropriate time to ask about the truth to those rumors, or whether he even he should, was. Not yet. He would need a little more courage, possibly of the liquid kind. “All done with patrol for the night?”
“Might head out again if there is anything significant, but yeah,” Clark told him. “No plans for you? I actually was surprised that you were in town.”
“Turned out I had some business here,” Oliver explained, gesturing to the couch. Once Clark was seated, he took a seat on a chair opposite him. “Just got in actually.”
“I thought you had some plans with Hal,” Clark said, his tone suddenly cautious.
Ollie shrugged. “We were only meeting for drinks. He had a dinner date with Carol.”
“Carol?” Clark repeated, tilting his head.
“Carol Ferris? Of Ferris Air?” He waited for Clark’s nod of recognition at the famous military aircraft company. “Yeah, she’s Hal’s girlfriend.”
“I didn’t know Hal had a girlfriend,” Clark said slowly, after a moment.
“Well you two don’t spend a lot of time making chit chat,” Ollie joked.
“So they’ve been seeing each other for a while?” Clark asked.
“They’re childhood friends,” Ollie answered. “Honestly, it depends on the day how steady the relationship is. They have had so many make up ands breakups that it makes your former relationship with Lana look stable.” He grinned, keeping his tone light, and hoping Clark would not take offense.
But Clark did not seem to register his comment, his expression a little distant, and serious, as he nodded again, seeming to take in the information.
“You okay?” Ollie had to ask.
As if seeming to hear him for the first time, Clark started, meeting his gaze. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You don’t seem it,” Ollie told him. “Is Hal’s love life weirding you out that much? Or giving you unpleasant flashbacks?”
A small smile graced Clark’s lips. “No, I was surprised. I thought-” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“What did you think?” Ollie wanted to know, leaning forward in his seat.
Clark rubbed his hand across his face, a blush coloring his cheeks. It was a cute look. He started to speak but then stopped, and sighed.
“You can tell me,” Ollie urged, his tone gentle. “I won’t judge.”
“Actually,” Clark said finally, letting out a laugh that seemed more forced than Ollie had ever heard it be. “I was surprised, because I thought, well, I thought you were dating Hal.”
“Me?” Clark could have told him almost anything, and it would not have thrown him off as much as what he just said. A bubble of laughter escaped his lips at the idea before he could think about it. “Why would you think that?”
“You two are practically attached at the hip,” Clark replied, running a hand through his hair, gaze facing downward. “And I don’t know, everyone has talked about how close you are, and sometimes you seem so flirty. I misunderstood, sorry.”
“No need to apologize,” Oliver was quick to reassure him, as he pondered the words, leaning back in his seat. Him and Hal? While Oliver could objectively acknowledge the other man was handsome and they had a good rapport, he had never thought of him as anything as a friend. As Clark’s words registered, he wondered out loud, “Who is everyone?”
“The League mostly,” Clark answered, wringing his hands together as he looked up once more.
“Didn’t realize I was such a popular topic,” Oliver murmured. Seeing the worry on Clark’s face, he smiled, hoping to express that he wasn’t upset at the suggestion. “They do love to gossip, don’t they?”
“Got to do something while they’re not saving people, apparently,” Clark replied, seeming to ease up. He seemed to want to continue but hesitated and stopped instead. Ollie waited patiently for him to continue, and fortunately, without any prodding, Clark did. “So, really, you two- never?”
Understanding his meaning, Ollie shook his head emphatically. “No, he’s one of my closest friends, but that’s always how it has been. Even if it Carol didn’t exist, it would not be like that.”
How could it, when no matter how much Ollie had tried, he could never forget the man sitting in front of him? He had dated, had slept with other people, but no one seemed to compare. Oliver was afraid no one ever would.
Oblivious to his thoughts, Clark frowned. “Huh. But just …. Earlier you were talking about missed dates and at the last meeting, I overheard him teasing him about your kissing skills?”
That caused Ollie to frown, until he recalled what Clark was referencing and chuckled. “Yeah, I was joking about the dates. Just the way we interact. And we’ve kissed, but we were undercover at the time. He has been having way too much fun with that story. Did not realize you heard.”
If he remembered that meeting correctly, Clark had been distant for most of it, and the rest of the League hadn’t seemed to blink an eye, but Oliver had noticed. He had to leave immediately afterwards so he didn’t have time to question his friend or analyze his behavior.
“I hear most things, for better or for worse,” Clark offered, relaxing once more. “See, this is why I avoid the gossip.”
“Yeah, you're right; half heard conversations have to be the cause of almost every misunderstanding, both in reality and fiction,” Ollie pointed out, grinning, and standing up. “I should tell you the story about what went down, and by the way, anything Hal says about my kissing skills is a lie.”
“Of course,” Clark replied, mock seriously, a twinkle in his eyes, standing up too.
“But I’m going to get some dinner first though,” Oliver said. Feeling hopeful, he asked, “Want to stay? If you haven’t eaten?”
“I haven’t eaten,” Clark responded, nodding. “If it isn’t any trouble?”
“Just going to order some food, won’t be an issue to order more,” Ollie said. “That is what I was doing, before you showed up, just thinking what to get. Any suggestions? There is some new Thai place down the block, right?”
Clark immediately shook his head. “No, Lois and I went there once, and their food is pretty good, but they use a lot of peanut oil. I think you can ask for a substitute, but you never know with takeout.”
Ollie wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, well, that’s a no go then. An allergic reaction would definitely put a damper on the evening. Maybe pizza then? What’s the name of the place you like again? Do they deliver?”
“Patsy’s?” Clark offered. “They do. We can get whatever you want though. I’m flexible.”
‘I’ll bet you are,’ his traitorous mind was too happy to chime in. Now that he wasn’t distracted by his thoughts, it was all too easy to be taken in by Clark’s too tight costume. The first time he saw it, he had to tease him to no end about how Clark clearly caved with the cape, or otherwise, he would have not been able to concentrate on anything but how the spandex like material clung to every muscle, showing off a body that Oliver was too used to seeing covered up and wishing he could see more of. Even now, being in close proximity like this was not easy.
“Pizza is good,” he managed. Pulling up the website, he noted the phone number and scanned the menu. “You will have to let me know if you have a favorite. Otherwise, I’m just going to assume you will want something with pepperoni and sausage. I know, no mushrooms.”
Hearing no response, he looked up to see Clark watching him silently. “Did I get that wrong?” Oliver wondered out loud, causing Clark to immediately shake his head.
“No, that’s right,” Clark responded, his mouth fixed in a line. “Anything with that is fine.”
“Ok,” Oliver said, a little thrown by his tone, but deciding not to dwell. He was personally getting hungry anyway. Making a quick call, he ordered two large pizzas, garlic bread, and two house salads. After he gave his information, he hung up, and smiled. “Looks like it will be thirty minutes.”
“That’s a lot of food,” Clark pointed out, chuckling. “Were you planning on secretly having a small party?”
“I’ve seen you eat,” Ollie shot back. “Also, you should just mentally prepare yourself, because I do plan on sending all leftovers home with you.”
“Somehow I will make the sacrifice,” Clark said wryly, making Ollie chuckle once more.
“You know, we have time, so if you want to go home and change, you can,” Oliver offered. “Or you know, put whatever you wear over it.”
Clark glanced down at his uniform and grinned. “Yeah, wouldn’t be professional if I accidentally got pizza sauce on my uniform.”
“At least it would blend into the cape,” Oliver teased. “But otherwise, you would end up in another type of headline.”
“Might make me more relatable,” Clark murmured. Oliver wasn’t sure he was supposed to hear it, but before he could even respond, Clark continued, “Okay, I will be back in flash.”
“Literally,” Ollie laughed. “Bart will be insulted if you steal his catch phrase though.”
Clark rolled his eyes. “I trust you can keep it between us.” Then, with a gust of wind, he was gone, and before Oliver could walk to the kitchen, he heard a noise, and spun around to be greeted by Clark, standing in the same place, but now in a pair of jeans and a navy blue knit sweater.
“Miss me?” he quipped.
Ollie laughed. “Yes, I didn’t know how I could bear another second. Want a drink? I was just going to get a couple of bottle of beers.” At Clark’s nod, he headed to the kitchen, and grabbed a few bottles of beer from the fridge, and once he opened two, he returned, handing one to Clark, who accepted it with a ‘thanks’.
“You know,” Oliver said thoughtfully, after they had taken their previous seats. “I thought you had plans this evening too. Wasn’t there something you were supposed to do with Bruce?”
Clark tilted his head and then shrugged. “Yeah, Bruce needed to me to take a look at something he had found. Didn’t take long, just wanted to verify his suspicions.”
Taking a sip of his beer, Ollie nodded slowly, taking in the information. “I think you’re one of the few people that Batman would willingly come to for help. I know you’re Superman and you always seem to achieve the impossible, but who knew you were a miracle worker?”
“It’s certainly a far cry from where we started off,” Clark acknowledged, laughing. “He’s guarded and reluctant to trust people. I can get where he’s coming from, even if we did have a few clashes when we first met. Not unlike us, I would like to point out.” Ollie tried not to dwell on the depth of Clark’s knowledge and understanding of Bruce and pushed on.
“We did have our share of disagreements,” Oliver agreed, drifting into memories that were not always the most pleasant. Some of those arguments could have and should have torn them apart for good, and maybe he should start being less jealous over what he wished he could have and be thankful for what he did.
“I’d like to think we came out of all of that stronger though,” Clark said suddenly, bringing Ollie’s attention back to the present.
“Probably because you never gave up on me,” Oliver pointed out. “I know I’d be dead a dozen times over without you.”
“And I am sure the same would have been true for me as well,” Clark reminded him. “At the end of the day, we are here because we never gave up on each other.”
Oliver ducked his head, his lips curving into a smile. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess I can’t argue with you there.” He never would give up on Clark, not that the other man had ever given him a reason to.
“That’s a first,” Clark joked. “Our arguments were a little different though; you weirdly never had any distrust in my abilities or origin.”
That caused Oliver to frown. “Why would I?”
“Bruce didn’t trust me, because of what I could do,” Clark pointed out. “And we all know Lex may be failing in his battle to ‘defeat the alien’ but it isn’t because he is lacking for supporters.”
Ollie’s frown only deepened. He knew this, and every time he saw Lex touting his anti Superman propaganda, he wished he had put the other man down for good, and really wanted to put an arrow through his head, as well as those who followed his xenophobic ideology. For all the times he had wondered how it affected Clark, he realized he had never thought to ask the other man. Clark was always so sturdy and strong, that Ollie forgot that Clark, of all people, had the biggest heart of anyone he knew, and he should have remembered that he would feel it maybe even more than others.
“Well I never felt that way,” Oliver stated firmly. “I guess I was a little one track minded when it came to your powers.”
“Yeah you didn’t care where they came from, just that I did something with them,” Clark chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to ask … you weren’t even a bit scared to find out that I was an alien?”
“No, after spending any time with you at all, it is really hard to see you as a threat,” Ollie admitted. “You being an alien almost made sense; you always did seem too good to be human.”
Clark ducked his head. “Not too good. You, of all people, should know that.”
“Me of all people?” Oliver repeated. “What does that mean?”
Eyes still focused on the ground, Clark shrugged, fiddling with the label on the beer bottle. “Well, you have seen me at some of my worst moments. You know exactly how many mistakes I have made over the years.”
Ollie raised an eyebrow, genuinely confused. “I would think it is really the other way around. You have usually kept it together.”
“Come on, Oliver, I have made some real mistakes in the past and it is not right to just sugarcoat them,” Clark pointed out, raising his eyes once more, irritation edging into his tone.
“I’m not sugar coating anything,” Oliver said evenly. “We have definitely had some disagreements over how to handle certain issues, and I can imagine you have wished you did some things differently, but that does not change the fact that you are probably the best person I know.” Clark did not respond, his expression unreadable. Unsure what to do, Ollie set the bottle on the table, leaned forward, and rested a hand on his knee. “There is clearly something bigger going on here. Don’t think I didn’t hear your comment earlier about being more relatable. Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
“I just …,” Clark sighed, biting his lower lip. “I guess I am tired of being seen as some perfect hero and it feels like that is the whole narrative these days, aside from Lex’s propaganda.”
“Superman is the favorite and people love to glorify their favorites,” Ollie pointed out. “It is like being an athlete or a celebrity; you get put on this pedestal, but that does not mean the part of you that they decide to portray in the media is all that you are.”
“Yeah, and on one hand, I need it to be like that, because the alternative would make my life a lot harder,” Clark admitted, setting his beer bottle down as well. “I need to have this perfect and clean image, because otherwise, I would be seen as more of a threat, with all my powers, but even when the people who know me see me as just Superman, it is harder to separate it all.”
Squeezing his knee gently, Ollie tilted his head. “What makes you think that?”
“It is just the interactions I have had lately,” Clark explained. “It was my idea to keep my head down and blend in, but so few people see me as just Clark. Even the League sees me as Superman, and that includes the people I knew before I put on the costume. Superman is part of who I am, but I don’t know, I just- I guess I don’t that side of me to be forgotten.”
“Last time I checked, Clark Kent was a Pulitzer prize winning reporter,” Ollie said teasingly, lips curving into a smile, causing Clark to chuckle as well. “Not exactly a nobody. There are those who see you, Clark. We haven’t forgotten you. I know I haven’t.”
“You haven’t?” Clark asked, hope filtering into his tone.
“Of course I haven’t,” Oliver assured him. “And I doubt I am alone.” He hesitated a moment, and then continued, “I noticed when I was about to leave early today, that you looked a little off when you were with Bruce. This has been bugging you for a while, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Clark agreed. “It has been building up a little by little. I didn’t realize you noticed.”
“Couldn’t help it,” Oliver remarked. “Why did you think that I had forgotten you?”
“I don’t know what you thought, to be honest,” Clark told him. “You … this is so ridiculous, but you called me Big Blue today, before you left, and well, you never called me that before. You were one of the few people who still used my name, despite knowing about my powers, and after that, I just wondered if I had lost you too. If, just like everyone else, you just saw me as Superman.”
Whatever he was expecting, it was not that. So he was the reason for part of Clark’s distance? He vaguely remembered calling Clark that, but it was not intentional.
“I didn’t mean to,” Oliver said, realizing he should say something. “I think I have just spent too much time around Hal. It just slipped out.”
“And you wondered why people think you’re dating,” Clark pointed out, but the smile that was attached to those words seemed weak.
“Because they are relentless gossips,” Oliver remarked, rolling his eyes. “I remember those few weeks that Dinah and I were partnered up, there were rumors in the gossip columns that our alter egos were hooking up, and the rest of the League would not shut up about it. She got so annoyed; Bart is lucky he escaped with his ear drums in tact.” Clark laughed at the memory before growing serious once more, looking at him inquisitively.
“But really, you two never got close to getting together?” Clark asked. Oliver was unsure why he cared so much, but he shrugged, and shook his head anyway.
“No, we can get along as friends, but I don’t think a relationship would work,” he explained. “I haven’t had the best of luck with relationships myself, but Hal is kind of a commitmentphobe, which is why he and Carol are such on and off again mess. Either way, he does love her and I-” He stopped suddenly and realizing what he was about to say, felt his stomach drop. I love you. And the worst part of it was that it was completely true. Looking into Clark’s curious green eyes, he could not deny it any longer. Even though he was well aware of his own feelings, realizing the depth of them was enough to shake him to his core.
“And you?” Clark prompted, bringing him back to reality.
“I, I don’t feel that way,” Ollie lied, lamely, knowing the truth was impossible but unable to come up with a believable lie. Clark nodded slowly, not completely looking like he bought it, but fortunately, also not looking like he was going to push the topic so Ollie continued, needing to move on quickly before he changed his mind. “Besides, the rest of the League shouldn’t be trusted with this stuff. Unless you would like to admit to me that you and Bruce are indeed secretly in love after all.”
He had to force the words out, but what better way to get the answers to a question that had been haunting him for months? Maybe he would not like the answers, but at least he would have them.
And it was almost worth it to see the way Clark immediately spluttered, eyes going wide and expression confused. It was almost comical.
“Bruce and I are what?”
“I told you about the rumors in the tabloids earlier,” Ollie reminded him, surprised at the steadiness in his own voice.
“Yeah, the tabloids, not the rest of the League,” Clark replied, eyebrows furrowed. “Why would they even think that?”
“Same reasons you thought for Hal and me,” Oliver said, the butterflies in his stomach easing, as he tried his best not to get his hopes raised. Even if it wasn’t true, there was zero chance that Clark would have feelings for him. “You guys spend a lot of time together, and they think that you “tamed” Batman.”
“No one tames Batman,” Clark muttered, pursing his lips together.
“You’ve gotten closer than anyone else could have imagined,” Oliver told him. “We all can see you two make a great team; I guess it was not hard to imagine things either had gone further or could.” Suddenly, he realized his hand had been on Clark’s knee way longer than was appropriate, and began to move it, only to have Clark cover it with his own hand. The touch was surprising, but felt nice, and Oliver could not bring himself to pull away.
“As friends,” Clark responded firmly. “Nothing more, nothing less. We’re definitely not dating now and I can’t see it ever happening in the future.”
After all the time he spent being jealous and the heartache, it turned out the answer was just as simple as that. Maybe one day, Clark would find someone, because Ollie knew he deserved it, but he could not help the relief he felt rushing through his veins at that moment.
“I guess we should both stop listening to rumors then,” Oliver said, grinning.
“Told you that they cause nothing but trouble,” Clark said, smiling as well.
His grin widened. “Yeah, yeah, you were right.”
“That is twice in one night!” Clark exclaimed. “Miracles do happen.”
“Whatever, boyscout,” Oliver retorted. “Don’t count on it happening again.” Meeting Clark’s gaze again, he realized Clark’s smile had somehow brightened further.
“Sounds like a challenge,” Clark teased. “Will I get a prize if I get you to do it again?”
“Sure, why not,” Oliver offered. “But you should be prepared to lose.”
“I will celebrate my current victories then,” Clark responded, taking Ollie’s hand and squeezing it lightly. “I’m glad we got to talk about this.”
“Seems like it was a little overdue,” Oliver replied. “We got a little off track though. How are you feeling?”
“Better now,” Clark assured him. “I guess I just needed to let my feelings out.”
“Sometimes, that is all it takes,” Oliver agreed. “I think a lot of us, especially those of us in the League, have a tendency to keep everything to ourselves and eventually, it will take its toll.”
“It something we all pick up pretty early and is a hard practice to break,” Clark said, finally releasing his hand. “I wonder if it is an unintentional requirement of being a superhero.”
Oliver immediately missed the touch and reluctantly pulled his own hand back, setting it on his knee, though Clark’s words brought out a laugh. “Maybe. We all have one major secret to keep already so everything else gets bottled up too. People seem to have different ways of coping.”
“The best way is still talking to someone, but I guess in our line of work, it is hard to be in a relationship, because of the secrets alone,” Clark replied, lifting his bottle of beer and taking a sip before setting it down once more.
“Some people make it work,” Oliver pointed out, thinking of some of the paired up members. “Even Wonder Woman is dating uh, what’s his name, the pilot …”
“Steve Trevor,” Clark filled in. “I’ve met him; good guy. It is hard to be in a relationship with someone that has such a big destiny, but he really balances her out nicely.”
“You would know,” Oliver remarked. Hell, even he knew. Lois and he hadn’t worked out because of it, and serious relationships after her had been a near impossibility; even if he disregarded his feelings for Clark, he had never found someone he felt he could let in completely.
“I definitely would,” Clark agreed. “I think you do too. Since you are apparently not dating Hal, is there anyone special in your life?”
Oliver shook his head. “No, I am still single. What about you? Still nothing between you and Lois?”
“As much as I imagine you have been waiting for an “I told you so” moment, no,” Clark replied, laughing. “We’re still friends. And there isn’t anyone else either.” There was a definite wistful note to his voice as he continued, “It would be nice if there were though. Some days, it seems like it just won’t ever happen.”
“It would be nice,” Oliver murmured, his heart giving a twinge as it always did. Raising his voice, he added, “I wouldn’t lose faith. I bet there is someone out there for you, someone who gets you, and who will also be able to handle your identity too.”
Clark just stared at him seriously. “Yeah, maybe.” To Ollie’s surprise, Clark’s face seemed to go through a few emotions as he took a deep breath, leaned forward, and continued, “Actually, Oliver-” That was the moment his phone went off, and staring at the unknown number, he held up a hand. As much as he wanted to know what Clark was going to say, he figured that this was their food.
“Hold that thought,” he told Clark and then picked up. It turned out he was right and pizza guy was there, downstairs in the lobby. Perfect timing, he thought. Telling him he would be there in a few minutes, he hung up, and got up.
“Pizza is here,” Oliver said, grabbing his wallet. “I’m just going to go downstairs and get it.”
“Let me get it,” Clark offered, standing as well, but Ollie just shook his head.
“No, it’s on me,” Oliver insisted. “Be back in a few.” Heading to the elevator, he glanced back once inside to find Clark watching him. Shooting him a small smile, he let the doors close. Even on the short ride to the lobby, his thoughts kept drifting back to Clark, but he tried his best to distract himself.
After reaching and paying the pizza guy, he carefully balanced the food, and headed back. Clark met him at the elevator door, and together, they took the food to the kitchen island, setting it out and putting it on a couple of plates. Ollie grabbed a few water bottles, and handed one to Clark.
Food and drinks in hand, they headed back to their original seats and started eating.
“The garlic bread is good,” Oliver acknowledged after a few minutes.
“Yeah, their food has always been consistently good,” Clark agreed. “The pizza places, and Italian restaurants around here in general, can be pretty hit or miss, but this one has never let me down.”
“If you are ever in Star City, I will take you to this restaurant near my office,” Oliver told him. “It is the best Italian food I have ever had in the States.”
“I will have to make my way there then,” Clark replied, taking a bite of his pizza. “You have piqued my curiosity.”
“Yeah, you will love it,” Oliver assured him. “The lasagna alone is amazing, and you may be one of the few people I know that can handle the portion size.”
“Well you have to try my mom’s recipe and see how it compares,” Clark told him, smiling warmly. “I will make it for you sometime, even if I can’t make it as well as she can.”
“Far be it for me to ever doubt Mrs. Kent’s recipes,” Oliver responded, matching his smile. “I didn’t know you cooked though.”
“My mom taught me,” Clark explained. “I try to do it now and then, but it is not as fun cooking for yourself, even if it does give me a little room to try some things.”
“Yeah, I am with you there,” Oliver said. “Cooking can be relaxing but it is far too much work for just one person.”
“So you cook too?” Clark asked.
“I’m not going to pretend I am anywhere close to your mom, but I can hold my own,” Oliver joked. “I make a pretty mean risotto and my chicken enchiladas have never failed to impress. One day, I will cook for you, and you can make the final verdict.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” Clark replied cheekily, in between bites of his own food. “Considering how long it took for this to happen, I’m not sure when we will be able to fit in all these plans.”
“We’ll make it work,” Oliver promised, standing up to get more food. “Though we should probably space it out so you don’t get sick of me.”
Clark stood up, following him to the kitchen, and chuckled. “Nah, I can’t imagine that happening.”
Ollie’s heart fluttered, but when he turned to Clark, he managed to remain outwardly composed and pointed his finger at him playfully. “I will remember you said that so you better not complain in the future.”
“You go ahead and remember, because there will be no complaints,” Clark shot back, as they filled their plates and lingered in the area, leaning against the granite counter of the kitchen island. He paused and glanced over at Oliver. “Might feel more normal actually. I get why you moved back to Star City, but it was weird not seeing you on a regular basis.”
It took every ounce of self-control Oliver had to not just gape at Clark. Instead he raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“A lot happened at once,” Clark admitted, shrugging. “I became Superman, the League expanded rapidly, and all of a sudden, you were moving. Maybe you never intended to stay here permanently, but it had been so long at the point when you left that I got used to you being around.”
As he ate, Oliver contemplated Clark’s words. “Yeah, you were right that I never intended to stay as long as I did. Metropolis was always supposed to be your city, and once Superman arrived, it felt like the right time. Considering how many members we were starting to gain, we should all be spread out a little more. Metropolis did not need both of us, and Gotham is not that far away, if a situation required a team up. Even if Batman didn’t seem all that amenable to them in the beginning, I knew he would not have joined if he didn’t like the idea of a team.”
“I always thought he did so he could keep an eye on us at first, and then grew to like the idea of a team,” Clark pointed out, a wry smile on his face.
“You’re probably right,” Oliver acknowledged, pausing to take a sip of water.
“And that’s the third time!” Clark said gleefully. “Didn’t you say to not expect that it would happen again?”
Ollie shook his head and chuckled. “First of all I said ‘probably’, so it doesn’t totally count.”
“Semantics,” Clark interrupted, waving his free hand. “The words ‘you’ and ‘right’ were still used without any negative words in between. So I win.”
“Fine, fine. You do win. This time. Would you like a prize too?” Oliver joked.
“Are you offering one?” Clark asked, sliding closer.
Unable to resist, Oliver closed the remaining distance, and smiled invitingly. “Sure, what do you want?”
“What are you willing to give?” Clark wanted to know.
“I’m open to pretty much anything,” Oliver told him, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. He wondered if Clark could hear it, what he thought of Ollie’s reactions if he did.
Clark’s eyes drifted to Ollie’s lips, causing him to lick them unconsciously, before meeting his gaze once more. “You shouldn’t make those type of open ended offers. After all, you never know what could happen. Someone might take advantage.”
“I think I’m safe with you, boyscout,” Oliver said with a smirk, tilting his head slightly.
“Are you sure?” Clark challenged, laying a hand on Oliver’s waist, and sliding it to rest on the small of his back.
“I wouldn’t complain if I wasn’t,” Oliver retorted. He didn’t know what was happening, but Clark wasn’t a cruel person so Oliver knew he wouldn’t mess with him. There was a real possibility that everything he had ever wanted was in his reach and he was definitely not backing down now. “Never been afraid of a challenge. And you still haven’t stated your terms. Hope you’re not expecting me to read your mind.”
“What if I don’t just want to say what I want?” Clark asked, his other hand moving to Oliver’s back as well.
“Again, not psychic. So you plan to show me instead?” Oliver asked, letting his own hands slide up Clark’s arms, settling on his shoulders.
“Maybe, I’ve always preferred doing to talking,” Clark replied, leaning forward. He hesitated for a brief moment. “Oliver, if you want me to stop-”
“Do you hear me complaining?” Oliver interjected. “Because I am very capable of saying ‘no’ if I am-”
That was about all he was able to get out, before Clark captured his lips, silencing him completely. He responded immediately, losing himself in Clark’s embrace, as he wound his arms around Clark’s neck. Clark, in turn, tightened his grip on Oliver’s back, pressing their bodies flush together, as the kiss deepened further.
Time seemed to stop, as all Oliver could focus on was the pleasure Clark’s soft lips were bringing him. After just this one taste, he was immediately addicted, knowing that nothing else, no one else could or would ever compare. Eventually, and reluctantly, they both did separate, but didn’t let go. Oliver’s heart was racing and he had to take a few sharp breaths to get his thoughts in order to form words, but as soon as he looked into Clark’s eyes, darkened with lust, he lost them all over again, wanting nothing more than to pull him back into another kiss, and see where the night took them.
“So,” he said finally. “If that is the kind of prize you want, I may have make more bets with you in the future, and I might even be ok with losing.”
Clark was so close that he brushed his nose against Oliver’s. “I’m kind of hoping that it won’t take that for this to happen again.”
“I never imagined you wanted it to happen in the first place,” Oliver murmured, secretly wanting to pinch himself to make sure it was not all a dream. He had spent so much time convincing himself that this would never happen, and now that it was, it truly didn’t feel real. Suddenly remembering parts of their earlier conversation, his heart sank, and he started to pull away. “Clark, look, I know that we both talked about being lonely earlier, but you’re not just-”
Before he could even complete the thought, Clark’s lips were on his once more, holding him close. Oliver’s fears disappeared as he kissed him back, and as they parted once more, Clark rested his forehead against Ollie’s.
“I’m not doing this, because I’m lonely and you’re convenient,” Clark told him firmly. “I kissed you, because I want to kiss you. I’ve wanted to for a long time.”
“I never knew,” Oliver said honestly. He had always considered himself to be observant, but he had somehow missed what was right in front of his face, while drowning in his own self-loathing.
“I thought you were dating Hal, so I never said anything,” Clark confessed. “Not that I had gotten any signs that you were interested, even before Hal entered the picture. Since I found out tonight that you were single after all and not interested in him, I’ve been waiting for my opportunity.”
“Is that what you wanted to tell me earlier?” Oliver asked.
Clark nodded, a small smile gracing his lips. “Yeah, we got cut off, and I didn’t know how to bring it up again naturally. Also, we finally got the chance to reconnect, and I didn’t want to ruin the moment.” He bit his lower lip and looked at Ollie hopefully. “So you do? Feel the same?”
“Of course I do,” Oliver assured him. “That’s the real reason it couldn’t be Hal, or anyone else. It’s been you for quite some time.”
“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” Clark wanted to know. “I mean, you stayed away for so long, that I didn’t even think you wanted to be around me, much less date me.” Ollie’s heart hurt at the ache in Clark’s voice and kicked himself mentally for any pain he had caused the other man while fighting his inner demons.
“I have missed you every single day we have been apart,” he said immediately, his words causing Clark’s eyes to widen. Oliver ducked his head, his cheeks feeling warm all of a sudden. “I believed the rumors about you and Bruce, like the rest of the League. If you weren’t together yet, maybe you were in the process of getting together, or there was at least some feelings there, and I couldn’t be around for that.”
“You did say that “we” thought Bruce and I made a good team,” Clark remembered, pursing his lips together. “In the moment, I wasn’t thinking that through or realized that meant you believed those rumors. Or cared.”
“I do care,” Oliver said. “A little too much, unfortunately. Superman had Batman, you had Bruce, and I felt like there wasn’t any room for me.” Pausing he added, ashamed, “Which was clearly incredibly shortsighted and selfish, because feelings aside, you seemed like you could’ve used another friend to talk to, and I wish I had been there sooner.”
“I was jealous of Hal anyway,” Clark sighed. “Otherwise I would have tried to go to Star City to see you. I was worried if I went there, he would be around all the time, and I would not get you to myself, in any capacity, and I just didn’t think you needed me. If you were happy, who was I to get in the way?”
Oliver cupped Clark’s face with his hands. “You make me happy, and I’ve always needed you.”
“I get that now,” Clark replied, smile growing. “If it wasn’t clear, I need you too. I always have, and I always will. The real truth is that I love you, Oliver. It may be too much too soon, but I’ve held it back too long to not say it now that I have-”
This time, Oliver cut Clark off and kissed him. Pulling away after a few moments, he grinned, feeling a weight being lifted off him at being able to finally, finally, express what was in his heart. “Good, because I love you too.”
“Well, that’s, well that’s good then,” Clark said breathlessly.
“Definitely good,” Oliver agreed, and without another word, pulled Clark into another kiss, which the other man clearly had no complaints about, with the way he instantly responded.
They could talk about everything else later. Clark was all his, and he was all Clark’s, and they had all the time in the world.
For now, this was good.
No, it was better than that.
It was perfect.