Author: Tarafina PM
Tess has a point to prove, but when she does it's not the one she planned to. :Chlollie, past-Toliver:Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst - Chloe S. & Tess M. - Words: 2,916 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 2 - Published: 04-24-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5919754
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Bitter Heart
Spoilers: Checkmate (9x16), Charade (9x18)
Word Count: 2,676
Summary: Tess has a point to prove, but when she does it wasn't the one she planned to.
Tess' lips firmed into an unbecoming line of firm disapproval. She thought she was past this; she thought any bitter thoughts over what she often considered Oliver's playmates were long forgotten. One only had to look at a tabloid to be reminded that he was not the type to stick around long or invest himself in anyone. She'd been one of two who had tried and nearly accomplished taming him, only to realize failure hurt all the more when it was in sight. But unlike Lois Lane, Tess had worn her heartbreak like battle scars and she'd never quite recovered from it. In some ways, he was the reason behind who she was today; whether she should thank of hate him for that, she couldn't be sure.
And over the last couple years, she'd taken great enjoyment out of seeing him fail at interesting her once more. That she would even consider him after all they'd been through and all the hurt that came of it was laughable. Perhaps she was a willing partner in the more fun avenues they'd once enjoyed, but to put her heart on the line again would be love suicide. She knew that. Which was why she was confused now; why her feelings of late had come into question. Oliver Queen – ex-lover, sometimes nemesis, heartbreaker extraordinaire – was at it again. But the woman attached to him this time was not reminiscent of the past; she was not of money or out to get her face in the movies. In fact, she was more recluse than anything else, which was why Tess never really expected her to fall for the usual Queen charm. While she and Chloe Sullivan were by no means friends, she had to wonder if the young woman had bumped her head lately to risk herself with Oliver. Old wounds were quickly opening and she found herself sneering in memory of how cocky and secure in her status with Oliver Chloe had seemed. For someone so intelligent, she was being extremely dense. Didn't she know him at all? Didn't she understand?
A slash of pain at her chest reminded her that those wounds were buried for a reason and whether this was intense dislike for the new couple or the desire for the past she'd long wanted to forget, she couldn't tell. Oliver had broken her heart and it had never truly mended; if anything, it had hardened and darkened and was near impossible to find. There were times when she felt it beat again; pulsing with the intense desire she had whenever she came up with her latest ploy to save the world or destroy it, sometimes even she was confused on what she was doing. Justice, what a convoluted subject, and sitting where she was, surrounding by who she was, she was never quite sure which side she was on anymore.
To think, her ex-boyfriend was the Green Arrow, a figurehead for all that she'd never thought him to associate with. Part of her wanted to laugh, another to cheer, and another to weep over how very different they both were now. She, a CEO to Luthorcorp, ally to the Kandorians, bedmate to Zod, agent for Checkmate – even if she was AWOL, and he… He painted the same image he had then; a philandering, careless man, whose only dream was to spread his money and charm whomever he could. But then, behind the curtain there always was more to be found. Green Arrow, purveyor of justice, enemy to Lex, Zod… her.
And if you ever come near me or my friends ever again… I will expose you to the world, do you understand?
The last words he ever spoke to her, even after knowing that it could very well be the last time they ever saw each other. An apology, a hope for redemption, dashed, useless, tossed away. There was a moment, sitting there in the quiet of night, with nothing but the cold metal of the chairs they sat on and the tiny empty table between them, where she wondered… If she could go back, do it all differently, would they have made it? There was a time, he'd said, when he wanted to go back… to her freckles, to her… When he'd been able to trust her, to know that there was nothing more than a woman out to change the world for the better and love him while she did it. And he hadn't even flinched when he told her that was over, that those feelings were gone and could never come back. Why? she'd wanted to ask. She wasn't the only one who screwed up, who broke hearts… But then she saw it and she knew… It wasn't just him and her anymore; it wasn't just their past and their future.
There was a time when Oliver Queen had loved her, when just a smile from him to her could melt ice. There was a time when he'd spoke of marriage, when there was a future that saw the two of them happy. And then things changed, life interfered, the person he was clashed with the person he wanted to be and he let it. He let it take him away, to hurt her, to ruin any of those dreams. But she saw them in his eyes again; she saw that smile again. Only it wasn't directed at her anymore; now only icy indifference and heartbreaking disappointment was exchanged between her and Oliver. But that smile, those hopes and dreams and the warmth that had once touched her soul, had woken, fired to life, and now it had somebody else to focus on.
It shouldn't have hurt but God, it did. It burned and coiled around the scars of her heart, reopening every gushing wound until she could barely hide behind the mask of cold carelessness she'd perfected so long ago.
She knew that all too well when she stood in the quiet emptiness of Oliver's office with only the formidable and often all-knowing Chloe Sullivan to spar verbally with.
She stood like a sentinel, her feet parted, posture taut and ready to fight.
Tess removed her sunglasses, grinned humorlessly and scoffed as if it meant little, even if she saw it more clearly than ever as Chloe in between her and Oliver, as the one person standing between the past and the future. "Oliver gave you keys to his office… He must trust you with just about all of his secrets."
Chloe gave a quick, almost nonexistent smile. "Tess." Her brows furrowed with feigned confusion. "I thought you were supposed to be underground. You know if you're having a hard time finding your way there I'm sure I can help."
Tess gave a mental sigh, eyes widening only momentarily. "So we're over the temporary truce and it's back to fire at will," she recognized, stepping into the office. "Okay. Just remember Chloe that out there I might be MIA but in here....I'm still CEO." She cocked a meaningful brow but only received a smile that was all too insincere and knowing. Not for the first time, she wondered just what it was Chloe knew that she didn't. Pausing, she looked around the office before wondering aloud, "Where is Oliver?"
Yet another signature Sullivan smirk served to unnerve her. "Out of town," she replied with the kind of underlying meaning that rankled her. Caring little for what Tess thought or had to say on the subject, she walked past her to her bag.
Tess considered for a moment whether she wanted to ask or not, but ended up taking the bait. "I was curious how you two.....got into each other's orbit." She hoped her interest wasn't obvious and focused her face elsewhere in hopes that Chloe wouldn't be able to read her expression.
"Mutual friends." With a zip of her bag, she tossed over her shoulder, "Which I understand you could use some help finding… considering you have to go into outer space to look for them." Her dubious voice served to make Tess turn, a higher purpose making her face her once temporary ally.
"The Kandorians?" She smirked, feeling then as if she knew so much more than her. "You'll see, Chloe, they're better as allies than enemies." She took a step toward her, face hardening slightly. "Clark gets that, why don't you and Oliver?"
Not even slightly intimidated, Chloe nodded. "Clark optimistically thinks that Zod will be happy wearing an apron and slinging coffees. We don't." She turned back to her bag. "Especially now that he has powers." She walked toward the door then, as if the conversation was done.
Tess stared down a moment before asking, "We…?" She stared at Chloe's leaving back. "As in you and Green Arrow?" She took some small measure of enjoyment as Chloe paused. "Chloe...I get what you see in your heroes but what do they see in you?" Honestly, she couldn't say then whether it was a jab at her and Oliver or just at the woman herself.
With a quick turn, she shot back just as easily, "I can ask Zod the same question of you but I guess I don't have to anymore." A sinking in Tess' stomach told her more than Chloe's words would, though they would cement what she should have already known. "I've been watching you two and it seems like Zod hasn't been home for dinner in quite awhile." Her tone was not appreciated and nor was the warning that followed. "Be careful Miss Mercer… or you're gonna run out of people to betray." And as Chloe left, Tess knew more than she wanted to. That Oliver had shared with Chloe all that had transpired that night, including his lack of trust in her, and that perhaps Chloe Sullivan was right.
Right or not, however, it didn't stop some part of Tess from hating Chloe on principle alone. So it shouldn't have surprised her when she later found herself opposite Chloe once more, only this time it was Chloe who was caught off guard and not her.
"Excuse the language, but what the hell are you doing here?" Chloe snarked sanctimoniously.
"Taking in the view?" Tess replied nonchalantly, staring out the half-open stained glass window overlooking Metropolis. "And what a view it is…"
Crossing her arms overtop her chest, Chloe's brows furrowed as she walked toward her. "I'm aware. Now was that all or can you find your way out?"
With a half-smile, Tess turned, stared at her with all the penetrating anger she'd banked up over time. But unlike many of her enemies, this one did not shrink or look away. She had to give her credit, if nothing else, Chloe Sullivan didn't intimidate easy. In that moment, Tess wanted to say something that would kick her off her almighty pedestal and stop her in her tracks; instead what came out sounded more like a bitter ex than she'd ever wanted to. "You really think you're any different?" she wondered, eyes narrowing. "You think he'll be your Prince Charming?" She paused, snickered. "Trust me, it wears off."
Brows furrowed once more, her head reared back an inch. "Girl talk? Really? You wanted to stop in and give me the lo-down on Ollie?" She half-smiled. "No offence, but if I wanted his background with women I'd have consulted a tabloid." With that, she turned, ready to leave Tess and her advice in the dust.
"You know I always wondered… Who would do it? Who would be that one person who could take him off at the knees?" Knowing she'd caught Chloe's attention, she smiled to herself. "I thought it was Lois once… Your cousin has a knack with men, I'll give her that much. She's not easily forgotten." She tipped her head as Chloe turned to stare at her, lips firmed in a line of irritation. "But you… You I hadn't expected." She laughed almost incredulously. "I thought you of all people might be smarter than that."
With a deep breath, Chloe turned, hands on her hips. "I wouldn't put you in the dense column either, Mercer."
Her smile faltered. "Let's just say he was a different man when I met him."
Chloe's lips curled at the corners. "On the island, you mean?" Tess didn't like that she flinched, that she let her know it physically hurt that Oliver had shared that with anyone, let alone her. "A partner in my line of business involves a lot of trust, Tess. And I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I know everything there is to know about him. Business, romantic, or otherwise."
Tess' brow cocked while she held back a sneer. "So he's learned the meaning then? Because he may have tried but he missed a few lessons in trust and intimacy when we were together."
Bitterness. God, how she hated how it had enfolded her.
"He wasn't exactly trained when I got him either," she admitted with a quiet laugh.
Tess' eyes fell, stared at the floor a moment. "You really think this thing between you will last?" Her icy voice had returned but she couldn't say whether it was out of self-preservation or the need to remind Chloe that Oliver was not the knight in shining armor he might seem.
A full-fledged grin filled her face. "You misunderstand completely. Oliver and I are… having fun." She sighed. "Why that is so hard to understand, I couldn't assume. But there is no white picket fence or Queen spawn in the future, so if you think we're leading somewhere that will clearly hurt you in ways you overlooked, then don't…"
And for a moment, Tess felt the upper-hand return to her. "So that's it then?" She took a step forward. "You've convinced yourself that, what? This is all going to end well, bygones and all? Friends with benefits and a job to do?" She scoffed. "Who's the delusional one now, Chloe?" Tucking her hands in her pockets, she stepped forward until they were eye-level. "I came here because I thought it was only right I warn you… And yes, maybe I was even a little jealous or hurt…" Her eyes fell, turned to the side in remembrance. "That once upon a time feeling was mine for awhile and maybe you think I'm aligned with the devil but it doesn't change my history." Returning her sharp gaze to her, she sighed. "I see the way he looks at you and I see the way you look at him. That's not friendship or partners and certainly isn't a passing feeling." Her lips quivered momentarily. "You can trust me on that." Swallowing, she returned to her careless façade. "We're not friends and unless some earth-ending situation comes up, we're not allies, but from one woman who loved him to another…" She stared at her, honest and without need for exaggeration. "It's never really over. Not with him. So you can either have him all or have none of him." With that, she turned to leave, her shoulders straight and her chin lifted high.
"You came here to tell me that?" Chloe called after her.
"No…" She paused, smirked back at her. "I came here to dash any fantasies you might have of him being perfect." With a cocked brow, she added, "But then I realized you already knew that. What you didn't know was that you loved him, imperfections and all." With a shrug, she began walking once more. "Oddly enough, that might hurt you more than what I'd planned."
She left Chloe to consider that, walking out of her apartment and well on her way to returning to her own home. She hadn't gone to Chloe thinking she'd help Oliver in his latest love exploit; in fact, she'd more planned to destroy it. But perhaps she and Chloe had more in common than she expected. It didn't mean she liked her, didn't mean she trusted her either, but maybe that bitterness she'd known so well had ebbed some. Tess and Oliver had been matched once and all too mismatched when real life came knocking. But Chloe was no Tess and if she knew him as well as she said she did then maybe they had a better chance. She couldn't be sure and she wouldn't wager on it, but she did know that when she left she felt lighter. Maybe she was letting go of him after all, or maybe she knew he was in more capable hands. Either way, it would be one hell of a show to watch unfold.