Title: Christmas Miracle
Prompt: Picture | Christmas Shopping
For: smallearth – Advent Calendar – Day 07
Word Count: 2,706
Summary: From busy malls to mistletoe, Oliver might just get his Christmas miracle…
Oliver observed the bustling mall with a furrowed brow, lips pursed. Eyes darting to the right, he stared earnestly down at the blonde by his side. "Don't I have an assistant for this sort of thing?" he wondered hopefully.
Chloe scoffed. "You have an assistant to pick out gifts for business acquaintances, not your closest friends…"
"Okay…" His eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Don't I have a close, personal friend I could trust my platinum card to?" He stared at her beseechingly.
She raised a brow. "I'll help, but I won't do it for you."
He shrugged. "I gave it my best… But just a forewarning, I'm not a much of a shopper."
She smiled. "Said the billionaire."
"Personal shoppers, Chloe… They're godsends."
She rolled her eyes, hooking her arm with his. "Big breath, Oliver, we're going in."
Eyes darting to and fro at the many people running from store to store in a frenzy, he wondered if maybe chasing down bad guys with guns wasn't easier.
Seeing his expression, she shook her head, amused. "You have a list, right? This'll be easier when we just jump in and get to it. Standing around gawking at the rest of the shoppers isn't going to bolster your confidence any…"
He frowned. "Are you suggesting I'm being cowardly? Because they reported a mob trampling last week at this very mall!" His brows rose for emphasis.
"Okay…" she drawled slowly. "You run around in green leather at night and fight crime… You can't face one small shopping spree?"
He pursed his lips, eyeing the others as if they were the enemy. "We get in, we get out, and next year I start my shopping a month early."
She smiled. "Right… Make it a new year's resolution." Tugging him forward, she took out the list of gifts and perused them. "Okay, Bart first…" She scoffed, glancing up at him. "I don't care how many times Bart asks for a Ducati, it's not happening! Not even if he puts Streetfighter Edition next to it… As if that's a selling point!"
"He purposefully writes next to it that he's asking Santa," Oliver reminded, eyeing the list. "Didn't know Kringle built those in his little toy shop."
"He doesn't… And neither does Oliver Queen," she told him purposefully.
He held his hands up in surrender. "Fine, no death-defying super-bikes… I'll just get him a Red Ryder BB gun and be done with it."
She grinned. "He'll shoot his eye out."
"Football then," he decided, sighing faux-mournfully.
"Sure, and I'll be sure to pick you up a nice classy leg-shaped lamp while we're at it."
"Don't forget the fringy shade… The boys will be so jealous!"
Giggling, she drew him toward a shoe store, searching out the converse sneakers. "Okay… Anything red, unique, or decidedly Bart…" She tapped her mouth as she searched, pulling down box after box, holding them up for inspection and trying to imagine Bart wearing them.
"Check these out… Dr. Seuss!" He held them up for her, the bright orange color and signature stripes making her smile.
"Perfect," she decided.
He stuck them under his arm and kept looking. By the time they were done, they left with six boxes of shoes, all for their favorite speedster.
Oliver frowned down at the bags hanging from his arms. "You realize if we keep this up, I'll run out of fingers to hold all these…"
She smiled up at him. "Put those muscles to good use, Queen!"
He half-rolled his eyes, smiling nonetheless. "All right, who's next?"
"Um…" She looked down at the list, biting her lip. "AC."
"And he wants…?"
"The BP oil spill cleaned up…" She shrugged. "Somehow I don't think that'll fit in a gift box…"
He laughed under his breath. "Anything else?"
"An Xbox Kinect," she answered, smiling. "Opposite spectrums, but okay…"
"I can do that…" He nodded. "Any games?"
"He says he wants Kinect Sports, but we both know what he really wants is the dance games…" She raised a brow. "For a water-lover, he can really bust a move."
Oliver chuckled. "So we'll pick him up both… What about Victor?"
"Covered," she said proudly, beaming up at him. "He's got a deluxe package with two tickets for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena."
His brows rose. "Really?"
She nodded. "He was the star wide-receiver for Metropolis high and he's been following every game. He aspired to get on the college team, the Sharks, but…" She frowned, lifting a shoulder. "After the car accident and Lex's doctor theatrics… It wasn't gonna happen."
Oliver frowned thoughtfully. "You think he misses it?"
"I think all the boys would be happy to have a little pick-up game some time."
Smiling, he nodded. "That'll be interesting."
She grinned, imagining the many varying degrees of strength between the men she knew and tried to imagine them all playing together. She wondered if she could convince John to put down the Christmas cookies and get in the game as well.
A couple hours later, laden with gifts, Oliver and Chloe arrived back at his apartment in Queen Towers. "I really think now should be the time I put a foot down and hire somebody for the rest," he told her, carrying the bags into the living room.
"Please!" she scoffed. "A little tape and wrapping paper won't kill you, Oliver."
"You've never seen me wrap anything, Chloe… I have little patience for folding corners and color-coordinated bows… I'm sure my secretary would rather be wrapping gifts than answering phones anyway," he offered hopefully.
She raised a brow at him.
He frowned. "Fine…" He backed away from the many bags. "You get started and I'll open a bottle of wine for us."
Circling the red couch, she plopped down on the leather seat and began looking through bags, drawing out various gifts, and glancing around the apartment which was in no way celebrating the holiday spirit. "Where's your tree?" she wondered.
Oliver appeared next to her, bending and offering a glass of red wine before he took a seat on the couch next to her. He shrugged. "Packed away somewhere."
Her eyes narrowed. "As in a plastic monstrosity that you just fold up when you're done?"
He grinned at her appalled tone. "Yes… It's a little white one, with pre-hung red balls… I told you, I don't usually have time for shopping or decorating. I take shortcuts where I can."
She rolled her eyes. "The tree is not one of those places! It's like the center of it all… You go real or you go home, Queen!"
He chuckled. "It's more efficient this way. If I had more time, I'm sure I'd lug a heavy tree up the elevator just for you."
"Efficient," she muttered, scoffing. "Where's the unique shape? The fresh pine scent?"
Vastly amused, he offered, "I can rough it up a little for you and hang a few air fresheners off it."
She pursed her lips. "Let's see it."
She raised a brow. "It's either that or you break out the scissors and help me wrap up all these presents…"
He took a look around at the many different gifts they'd bought for their friends, going overboard on DVD's, CD's and games by far. But Oliver wasn't being thrifty with his credit card, beating Chloe to the till before she could spend a dime of her own money, and it seemed if she so much as glanced at it, he tossed it in the cart as they went. He wasn't even sure who half of the gifts belonged to, only knowing something had sparked a memory in her mind and a reason she might think someone she knew would want it.
But while buying was easy for him, the minute details of wrapping all the presents were just not something he was looking forward to. And so he stood from the couch and went in search of his old Christmas tree, half-rolling his eyes at her smug smile. He found the plastic 'monstrosity' in a storage closet, tucked away in its box for safe-keeping. There was a box of other decorations he dragged out, knowing she was going to hassle him to get the rest of his apartment in the mood as well. With the tree under his arm and the box on his hip, he came back out and dropped them to the floor where she'd made room before returning to the gifts, peeling off price tags.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor now, gifts piled around her, tape, scissors and wrapping paper at the ready, he had a moment where his heart thumped hard in his chest. She reminded him of his childhood for just a second, bringing in the warmth and light-hearted fun the holidays used to be about for him. She'd plopped a little red bow on top of her head, the sticky bottom clinging to her hair, and looked up with her bright green eyes before looking to the box of decorations animatedly.
"All right," she said, eyeing the box speculatively. "Blow my mind."
He stuck his tongue in his cheek to keep from grinning too widely when a flush of knowing bloomed across her cheeks. She obviously hadn't meant it in that way but still… He'd much rather be doing just that.
Their friendship over the last year had meant everything to him and if he were being honest, he'd be happy if it took a very needed leap into something more. But Chloe was keeping things very much in the platonic zone and after everything she'd been through, he wasn't about to push her when she wasn't ready.
Dragging the plastic white tree out from its box, he situated it on the floor and bent to push branches down, separating those that were tangled and the ornaments that hung precariously. When he was done, he stepped back, staring at the snow white tree that stood out against the dark green background of his apartment.
She tipped her head thoughtfully. "It's not as awful as I expected…" she allowed. "But I still prefer pine to plastic… The scent alone brings back good memories."
"If by the time these presents are all wrapped, you can find an all-night tree store, I'll bow to your wishes," he offered, half-smirking.
She narrowed her gaze at him and his challenge. "All right… You finish putting up the decorations and I'll get the presents wrapped… Then we're going to find a little Christmas cheer to bring back home."
Nodding, he grabbed up the decorations box and got to work, wondering why it was he was looking forward to walking through aisles of pine trees with a woman who would rather pretend he was like a brother than risk her heart on the relationship he was half-desperate to take place. He spent the next hour and a half putting up wreaths, garland, wall decorations and lights. By the time he stepped back, the apartment looked like Santa threw up and all of his cheer and spirit infiltrated the once empty apartment. Chloe slipped up to him then, tucking her arm around his.
"Not bad Queen… I think you're slowly being de-Scrooged…"
He snorted, looking down at her side-long. "So I'm not much of a Christmas person…"
She half-smiled, squeezing his bicep softly. "Hey, the holidays have a way of kicking you when you're down, especially when family isn't exactly around to share in the tidings…" She turned, staring up at him with knowing eyes. "But you won't be alone this season… You've got the guys and Lois and they all promised to share a giant turkey dinner with you as long as you didn't cook it, so… Something to look forward to."
"And you?" he asked, staring at her wonderingly. "Where's my favorite professor spending her holidays?"
She grinned. "After you decorated your apartment so nicely? Like I'd want to be anywhere else."
His lips quirked at the corners.
She winked then. "And you owe me a real tree, too… Presents are wrapped, apartment's decorated… I'd bet money we can find a tree lot open still…" She eyed the time thoughtfully and turned back to rub it in when she spotted something just above his head.
Oliver glanced up, surprised to see the sprig of green and red mistletoe resting above the doorway. He remembered putting it up awhile ago, thinking Bart would try to use it to his advantage around Dinah, Chloe and Lois that coming Christmas but hadn't expected to step under it himself.
She stared up at him, her eyes rather wide but almost expectant.
It took him a second to do anything; the look on her face making his stomach warm with anticipation. How long had he wanted something like this? For her to look at him like he was more than just a friend or one of the guys. Months. Instead of letting her hide away in his apartment and telling himself that QI work was more important, he took her out for dinner, engaged her in conversation, encouraged her to spend more time with him than her computers. And all that time, he'd been hoping that she'd look up at him and see that he'd fallen in love with her along the way. But Chloe kept her heart heavily guarded and he'd been hesitant to breach the walls for fear she'd shut him out.
Finally, he bent toward her, pausing just short of her mouth. Her eyes fell to half-mass and she let out the tiniest of sighs, her warm breath fanning across his mouth. Closing the distance, he pressed his lips to the corner of her mouth, more her cheek than her lips. He lingered, wanting to move those few millimeters left to take the sweet soft lips that were so close and so far. Instead, he drew back, disappointment and loss weighing heavy in his gut. It wasn't a couple hours ago he'd reminded himself that where their relationship went, whether it stayed in friendship or moved forward, would be in her hands and he would not pressure her.
He was barely parted from her when her hand wrapped around the back of his neck, fingers lightly feathering through his short hair.
"That the best you can do?" she teased lightly and his heart flip-flopped moments later when she leaned forward to do what he wouldn't.
Lips smoothing together, she took that last step into something more, dropping all barriers. Oliver wasn't about to let his one small chance slip away. Instead, he wrapped an arm around her waist, tightly anchoring her to him. His free hand buried in her hair, knocking her red-ribbon adornment from its place, and stroked her soft cheek with his extended thumb. She tasted vaguely of the wine he'd poured them, her warm tongue meeting and tangling with his own. He turned her then, so she was pressed against the doorway, her back flattened and her front pressed tight to his. His knees shook as the sheer intensity of emotion swelled through his veins, setting his skin afire and his heart hammering.
Months of hoping and trying and waiting ballooned into this one moment, where it only the necessity for air that finally had them separating. Chest heaving, eyes half-glazed, she stared up at him.
"No take-backs," he murmured, hopeful.
She licked her lips, drawing his eyes down once more. "That one's definitely for keeps…"
Her eyes widened slightly. "Not sure if it should be labeled Christmas miracle or the gift of all gifts…"
"That depends on what you say to dinner tomorrow night…" He arched his brows. "And giving this a fighting chance…"
"This," she repeated.
"Us," he said determinedly. "And if it was anyone's miracle, it was mine, Sidekick."
She raised a brow, arguing lightly, "You can't hog the miracle – it was mutual."
He smirked. "I might be persuaded to share… But it's a long road ahead."
She grinned slowly. "You keep it up and you can't cry mistletoe and backtrack…"
He tugged playfully on her earlobe. "I'm not going anywhere."
Sliding her arms around his neck, she tipped her head. "I'm gonna hold you to that."
He grinned, slow and genuine. "Good."
A miracle indeed.