AN: So, I tried to leave this ship alone. And then couldn't. So, Chapter Two, anyone?

Warnings: None, except the amesome Nolan/Emily goodness. And if you didn't like that, well, you would be here.

Disclaimer: I don't own "Revenge".

Mastermind

Emily wishes she didn't need Nolan. She had masterminded her revenge perfectly, every movement, every word. And nowhere in those plans had she ever considered Nolan Ross. And yet, time and time again, she found herself calling him or answering his call to her because something, somewhere, did not go according to plan and now she needed him. Again.

She had never accounted for his smug little smirks or his arrogant half-waves, but she found herself looking for them. She had never included his computer skills in her plotting, but she found herself relying on them. Relying on him.

And that is something she's always known she could never do. She couldn't trust Nolan. Couldn't trust anyone but herself. Trust leads to betrayal, betrayal leads to failure, and she refuses to fail. But still, she calls, she answers, and she hasn't destroyed him yet. Can't destroy him, because she needs him.

Her perfect little saboteur.

And, somewhere in the back of her mind she wonders when she had started to think of him like that. Not as a tool to be used and tossed aside, but something that is hers. Something to be kept. Emily Thorne doesn't keep things. She ruins them. But her saboteur is different. Off-limits. Safe. Something valued and protected.

She needs him, after all.

He's moving people in the abstract. Plotting along her schemes. Shifting the pieces on the board. Emily doesn't like it. It skews her plan, her supposed-to-be-but-not-quite perfect plan. It almost feels like he's sabotaging her. But she knows he isn't. She can see the spider web of lies and truths spinning out around him, ensnaring the could-of-been-should-of-been-would-have-been innocent. Drafting civilians into her private war. Enlisting them to fight for her cause the way he had volunteered. As if she needs more people involved, more people twisting the plan. The almost-but-not-really perfect plan.

She thinks she might have to kill him when all is said and done and dead. He knows far too much about everything she's never wanted known.

She thinks she'll have to let him live when all is said and done and dead….She can't imagine ending him.

She tries to think about a world where Nolan Ross does not exist. One where he doesn't call and she doesn't answer. A world where she calls tech support when she needs computer help. A world where she's never caught off guard by a blue-eyed, blonde nerd casually breaking into her house.

A world where she isn't a mastermind plotting the ruthless ending of a dozen people and he isn't her saboteur helping her in ways even she doesn't really know about.

She can't.

Her mind simply refuses to process the idea. The very concept is wrong. Inconceivable. Blasphemous.

He is her saboteur.

And she needs him. She really, really does. No matter how much she wants to refute it, how much she hates it. And she does. She really, really does. She doesn't want to need anyone. People are liabilities. People get in the way. People change the equation she'd thought perfectly balanced, make her realize that it had been flawed from the beginning.

Nolan changes the equation. Shifts the battle lines, makes them malleable. Sketched in sand rather than carved in stone.

And worse, sometimes, he looks at her just so. So soft and gentle. Longing and want etched in every line of his face.

Like she could be his world. Like he could love her, if she'd let him.

But she won't. She can't. She's far too damaged to love and be loved.

But she does need him. Her saboteur, playing chess games on her board with her pieces. So when he calls, she knows she will answer. And when she needs to speak, to give voice to the planned plots and strategic schemes, she knows he will listen.

And if, sometimes, she catches herself returning his little looks, well, she is only human at the end of the day. So, every once in a while, she tells him with her eyes, not her words, never her words, that just maybe she's glad he signed up for her fight. Let him see, for just a second, that she does need him.

But that's all she'll ever let it be.

Because Nolan is her saboteur, but Emily isn't his mastermind.

(The fact that she has to think to make the distinction is already proof that it isn't there at all.)

AN2: Toying with the idea of doing more with this concept. Something like Daniel and Jack and Faux-Amanda's perspective on the Nolan/Emily friendship/partnership/relationship? Any takers? Let me know.