Author's Note: Apologies for the long wait. And if you are one of the new followers/favourite(ers?) and I haven't sent you a thank you yet (I have become senile in my old age), please know that I am extremely grateful to have you along for the ride. And for all my reviewers...you are wonderful. I don't know if I could have continued this far without your feedback. I have a couple of prompts that I can work with again, so expect a little more soon. Also, I bent things a little here with the way Felicity...dresses.


Her dresses aren't that short.

He misses her panda shoes.

She has always been beautiful to him, regardless of his inability to admit that fact to himself. His first impressions were of a woman secure in her skin, even through the babbling and the countdowns and the quirky, perceptive nature; his second were of a professional that had no issue jabbing at him in her own subtly snarky way. His playboy eyes, the ones he thought would be easy to ply her with – ineffectually, though not without some amusement and surprise on his part – had once been drawn to a woman's face, her clothing, her makeup; he met her for the first time and only saw a guileless smile and honest eyes.

He doesn't remember a skirt.

Later he recalls skirts paired with eccentric tops, cardigans that forced him to hide a smile in their presence. She is so bright, so wonderfully colourful that the beauty of her personality bubbles over into the fabrics she wears; she is different from the other women he's known, knows, and this brings a thought to mind now that causes him to pause.

He colours aren't so bright anymore.

True, there are reds and blues and shades of colours he is bad at naming, but they are all matched with greys, neutral tones that mute the brilliance of the pigments he is so accustomed to seeing her in. It has been since her move, the one he forced upon her, that her colours have been less vibrant. The dresses are just the visual representation of her change in life, a shift that he created for her because he needed a cover.

Now she wears dresses to match how professional she's become, she wears her hair down because isn't that a reflection of how grown up she is? This isn't how he wanted to see her hair styled, not if it was just a mask for her to hide behind, not if it was down to mimic the unlike-her clothing. He'd itched to pull down that ponytail before, wanted to see those (dyed) curls fluff around her face, splay out over her shoulders and provide all the more for him to run his fingers through.

He still wants to bury his hands in those tresses.

It wouldn't be the same now.

There are rare occasions where she will pull up her hair, and don her glasses – they are something infrequent now that he misses too – and look all the more like herself. She is still willing to stand up to him, moreso now that they have been sharing so much of their time and (his) pain together, and he is secretly grateful that she does. But that alone doesn't sweep aside all the changes made over the past while, changes that have been brewing since he nearly bled out in the back seat of her car.

She is harder now.

What she has seen, what she has done, they are all changing her, and it is on him. She is losing – slowly, almost imperceptibly – the innocence she once had, replacing it with knowledge of things she should never witness.

Things she should never experience.

And yet she cares for him.

She has saved his life now more than he cares to count, and remains by him even as he is ungrateful for her help, stubborn and flustered. She begs him to promise things he can't, but he wants to anyway, wants to tell her he will be safe and return and all the things that he knows are impossible to ensure. There is that beauty he sees in her, the kind that isn't makeup or dresses or hair dye, and it is invariably drawing him closer to the dangerous part of him that craves emotion.

But it isn't because of the dresses.

He's come to realize he doesn't like them, not as much as a grown man with an attraction to a woman should. He sees them much in the same way he sees his suits and ties and expensive shoes: they are costumes for the world. They exist for the sole purpose of hiding in plain sight, and she is doing it remarkably well; she is no longer displaying who she truly is.

He misses the panda shoes.