A/N: I was playing around with a few story ideas and wondered about Oliver's pre-series relationship with Tess... Oliver was Green Arrow at the time, did he ever come home sporting cuts and bruises? What did Tess do about it?

I do not own Smallville, plain and simple. There is no money being made, and there never will be.

Please enjoy the drabble-ness.


Fool Me Once

|Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.|


He comes home late and there's a cut above his eye. His lower lip, usually thin, is filled with blood that trickles out down his chin. He swipes at it with the back of his hand, knuckles raw with cracked skin.

Tess keeps the lights low and takes his face in her hands. She chooses to see an obscured truth, shadows raked across Oliver's face to mask the worst of it. What he tells her is what he always tells her, and if she chooses to pull the veil she'd notice the absence of alcohol in his breath.

But her denial is a comfort and Tess doesn't question it.

She tips the bottle onto cotton and it stings Oliver when she gently dabs the cut. His vocal objection to the sharp pain makes her smile.

"Come on, this is what hurts?" she teases, because she wants to lull this into normalcy.

Oliver's fingers curl around her hand, and Tess stops to look at him in the dark. His touch is light but means so much, it reaches deep into her and Tess thinks she would do anything for him.

"Pain is simple," he says back to her, gently. "Love is more complicated."

And he kisses her, like he loves her and it hurts his lip but this is more important.

They break apart and smile at each other, the darkness a shroud and a necessary oneā€”their eyes would betray them.

Tess returns to mending Oliver's wounds, the rubbing alcohol offering an illusion. "You really need to stop getting into bar fights."