attention: major sappiness is in this fic, so don't read if you are prone to passing out from too much gooey mushy bleh.

AN: it was not intended to turn out the way it did. but my fingers wouldn't stop typing...

I DON'T OWN ANNIE. GET OVER IT.

What the Heart Wants

---

Her lips graze the forehead of the sleeping child with tender warmth, and reflected in the azure eyes is an infinite adoration that dares not show itself except in this sort of moment. The red-headed youth is not hers to cherish, and yet the heart always wants what it cannot have. So the woman makes do with what she can obtain.

Yes, each night, this is hers.

The established woman has a fine career. Yes, a private secretary is paid well. Very well indeed. Attractive styles, expensive perfumes, fancy supplies – all are hers for the taking. Yet as the one she works for has come to discover, what's the point of wealth, without someone to share it, and everything, with? The brunette sighs, smoothes her skirt, and steps back. A soft hand goes to her cheek, as she silently observes the peaceful sleep of the little girl. The painted lips form words:

"I love you."

Yet no sound issues from her mouth. The employee knows better than to disturb the rest of the angelic figure. Even more so she knows that this is someone's daughter – not hers. It would not be right for her to love this child as her own.

But she realizes that, in fact, she does, as she realizes every night, and there is not a thing she can do about it. Another inaudible sigh escapes, and the woman turns, head cast downward, blue heels clacking softly upon the ivory tiles. Putting a hand upon the doorframe, she turns once more to gaze affectionately at the eleven year old, dreaming in complete ignorance, before she smiles minutely and turns to go, head drifting upwards again as she adopts the formal, composed persona of her everyday life, like it is just another outfit to don.

She freezes as she meets the gaze of a man, whose piercing gaze stares directly into hers, only inches away. Another step and she might crash into him, so the only option is to look straight back into the eyes that are so similarly hued to hers - and yet glitter an onyx shade in this low light – and say, "Good evening, sir."


His foot taps anxiously under the antique desk upon which mounds of paperwork and files are scattered. A cigar wobbles in his mouth as he leans backward, and a glass of champagne perches precariously in one hand. His glance is directed out the window, but he's not really seeing any of the night outside.

His thoughts remain on the child who has, quite frankly, stolen his heart.

The young girl went to bed hours ago, and it's only now that he realizes how quiet it is when she's not around. Certainly, she's not there all of the time – otherwise, the billionaire might never get any work done. But when he's been working so long, and had a bit too much to drink…well, it's understandable that he would notice it more.

He sighs, takes the cigar from his mouth and hands it to one of his servants, who gives him, then the roll, a strange glance before hurriedly rushing it away. He smiles ruefully. He really shouldn't be so lazy.

Upon that note, an idea forms in his head. Since he misses her so much, why not go and visit the child? Plus, he would actually be doing something, instead of sitting here, drinking and smoking. Straightening his lapel, the man stands and marches from the office, hands clasped behind his back. A strange eagerness is present in his gait, and all the servants, who are finishing up their duties, smile knowingly. Their master is such a changed man. What a difference the presence of a child can make.

He knows it better than them all.

Finally, his steps bring him to her open door. So keen is he to see her that he almost doesn't notice the figure stooping by her bedside. He stops short, dumbfounded, when he recognizes the woman. The man, however, is curious – why ever in the world is she here?

As he watches, all is revealed.

His eyes adjust to the darkness as he sees her bending over to fondly brush away disobedient strands of auburn hair, and then kiss the pale forehead of his child. He watches her lips move in a silent declaration, one only he has given before to his daughter.

Yet, somehow, it doesn't feel wrong. In fact, the man feels like…smiling.

He doesn't, though, because he sees the woman turn and walk his way. He has not been seen, and should escape. This he does not do either, because he is frozen – frozen by the fear he knows she will feel should she be caught here; by her boss, nonetheless.

And of course, by then it is too late.

Her hand is on the doorway, and in no more than five seconds she will probably turn and see him. She does. He finds himself staring into bright blue eyes, ones that would be icy if they weren't infused with such devotion. Now, though, they are filled with shock – shock that mirrors his own. He feels slightly guilty when she is the one who recovers first.

"Good evening, sir," she murmurs, gaze not leaving his own.

He wonders if she feels as trapped as he does. "Oliver. It's Oliver, Grace."

She blushes, but of course, he can't see it in the shadows. "Oh. Certainly. Good evening…Oliver."

"Good evening, Grace," he replies.

An awkward silence approaches, and to avoid it, she begins to babble. Which, she discovers, is actually quite worse.

"I…I thought I heard something, in her room, and I w-w-wanted to check on her. I know, I should have called you or the Asp or Punjab or…or someone, but I just wanted to make sure she was all right…myself, you know? I'm sorry, you'll probably just want to be with her now, so um…I'll go. Oh, and, well, she's all right. If you wanted to…know…" she trails off, a furious red that he can see coloring her cheeks.

He almost wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of the entire situation. He wants the woman to laugh with him. He doesn't want her to feel like she…like she can't love the girl, too.

"Grace," he says softly, actually taking her hand. He's never felt a woman's skin before, except his mother's, and jumps, slightly – it's soft; welcoming. His breath shortens, for reasons he doesn't know. He also doesn't know that hers has, too, and that her pulse is thundering madly, and her heart is throbbing in her chest.

"Grace," he begins again, "It's all right. I…I understand." It's hard for him, being any ort of emotional figure.

She startles. "Understand what?"

"I…I saw you." He tries his best to remain kind, and not at all…disturbing – most young women he had ever encountered didn't appreciate being watched. "Grace, do you remember how I didn't want Annie?"

He can barely remember something that seems so impossible, but she nods yes.

"So it's fine…if you love her, too."

A strange silence, not exactly uncomfortable this time, occurs. She breaks it.

"What do you mean?" she asks, trying to nervously laugh it off.

"I mean that you were the one who first loved her enough to want her to stay here. You were like…are like…a mother to her. So it's natural, Grace…to love her as your own."

It's quiet, until he notices she's crying. He's unaccustomed to dealing with crying people, and, once again, can't move with terror. What can he say? He wonders. What can he do?

Then she sobs softly, "But she's not, Oliver, and I don't want to live like that – as if she's mine, because she's yours, and we're not…" she abandons the sentence, but the meaning is clear.

And then, suddenly, he knows what to say.

"Sometimes, Grace, we love things that are not ours to love – the heart wants what it cannot have."

She laughs inwardly, wondering how he knows exactly what she was thinking earlier. He doesn't, but he continues, almost pleadingly.

"And sometimes…sometimes, the heart can have what it wants. You can love Annie, Grace. I'm not the person to tell you that you can't."

"But…"

"I'm not finished," he says authoritatively, and she is quiet as he goes on. "No matter what you say, I want you to know that Annie loves you, too. This time," he repeated, "the heart can have what it wants, because you both love each other."

He smiles, teeth glimmering in the growing dark, and she can't help but shyly smile back.

"Oliver…thank you."

"You're welcome."

"She is your daughter, though. Don't forget that," she attempts with an edge of playfulness.

He laughs. "I won't. It seems everyone loves my daughter."

After they chuckle together, the developing quiet becomes unnerving, and she quietly says goodnight, and turns to walk away.

Then he decides without much consideration but with a firm resolve that tonight, his heart will have what it wants, and he grabs her hand as she begins to go, then kisses her as she twirls around to meet him.

And the little girl "sleeping" behind them sighs in utter contentment.