The Best Policy

April 25, 2014:

Helena goes to see Oliver and offer an over-due apology. What happens during her visit is unexpected.

Oliver Queen's Penthouse, Gotham City

A penthouse in the Diamond District.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Everyone needs a place to hang their hat. Even billionaire playboys. When he's on business in Gotham, Oliver Queen's haunt is a penthouse in the Diamond District.

It's a beautiful apartment. It's only natural that it would be. Thick-knapped carpets, gorgeous drapes, tasteful artwork. The view would be great, but all it really offers is an expansive look at an exceptionally dingy city.

Ollie is standing in front of the floor to ceiling windows with a scotch in his hand, occasionally sipping while he stares out across a never ending expanse of rooftop spires and gargoyle statues. He's dressed down for the evening, changing out his suit for comfortable jeans and a t-shirt. Ice cubes occasionally clink around in his glass, but the room is otherwise silent.


Normally the Diamond District is the last place a woman like Helena Bertinelli would be. Too posh, too froo-froo for her but tonight there's a reason for her to be, for her to come to the upper-crust part of Gotham which is such a far cry from the lower-class neighborhood she's taken to call home. It immediately discomforts her to be here and at first she entertains the idea of just turning around and leaving… but no. Stubborness wins over the feeling like she doesn't fit in and she makes her way into the lobby of the high rise building and towards the high counter that houses the reception area and security people.

"I am here to see Oliver Queen… no, he is not expecting me. Could you ring him and let him know Helena Bertinelli is here to see him? Thanks." And this is where it becomes a waiting game. Will they call up as she requested and let Ollie know he has an unexpected guest or will they instead call the police and ask to have her escorted from the premesis?


In the short time since he moved in, Mr. Queen's doormen have grown accustomed to seeing pretty women coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Helena is given a second look by security, but not the one she might expect.

Upstairs, Ollie clears her for entry, hangs up the phone, and polishes off his scotch. His glass is set aside, then he crosses the room and opens the door. "Helena. This is a pleasant surprise. Come in."

Without the suit that serves as his proverbial armor, Ollie looks more… normal. More relaxed. Barefoot, wearing comfortable clothes, having a drink and entertaining an unexpected guest. It's not a bad look for him.


For a moment… just a second, really… Helena finds herself hating Oliver once she sees how relaxed he looks. Definitely someone who has a right to live in such an environment. Makes her wish she'd thought to get dressed up. But there she is, dressed down in a ratty old pair of jeans which might've been gotten off of some bargain-basement type store, and equally old tee shirt that came from a concert for a band that's been broken up for at least ten years and athletic shoes that look like they'd been well worn-in and then some. The only thing that might've cost the teacher some kind of money might be that leather jacket she's got on but even that looks like it's a few years old. The twinge of emotion passes and she comes in, hands shoved into the front pockets of her pants.

"Sorry for not calling first," she offers as an apology while she quirks a quick smile. "I was… er, in the neighborhood. Thought I'd come by." Wincing, she shakes her head and Helena tries that again. "I wasn't. In the neighborhood, I mean. But I did want to come by. See how you're doing and everything.

The apartment is looked at now that she's done being an ass and she finds herself awed. Floored by the loveliness of it all. "I didn't even know pads like this existed in Gotham. Very nice."


"I imported most of the 'nice' from Star City." Ollie quips. "I'm glad you approve. And I'm doing well, thanks for asking. Hope you are, too."

He gives his head a jerk in the direction of the window he'd been using as a watching post. "Don't worry about dropping in. I was just citygazing. You can join me."

Without waiting, he moves back to where he left his glass. It's scooped up, along with another, and a few ice cubes are tonged into each from a silver bucket. He pours them both a modest measure of expensive scotch and offers the fresh glass to Helena wordlessly.


Scotch? Should she brave drinking? Not that Helena's a light-weight but still. All it'd take is not paying attention and suddenly find herself in a situation she might not be able to get out of. Or maybe not want to get out of is a better way of putting it? The internal debate as to whether or not she should lasts a few seconds longer than what might seem polite before it's taken, her fingers brushing against his while she smiles almost shyly. "Thank you, Oliver."

The glass is sipped from as she looks out over the view, her eyes catching little spots of light here and there as she gazes from building to building, making it a bit more obvious that her eyes are less brown and more an amber color, something that usually gets missed by all but the most observant. She looks at her host from the window, taking in his refection next, her brow droping, now lined in slight thought. "I wanted to come by and apologize, Ollie."


"Why? Because we got off to a rocky start?" Playful, flirty Oliver Queen is taking a backseat right now. This Oliver is confident, but in a simple, direct sort of way. His eyes bore into Helena's as he speaks. "You're not the first person to judge me based on things you'd heard and seen. I'd be lying if I said I didn't deserve it. There's more to me than you see in the tabloids, though."

He pauses for a long sip of his drink and his gaze shifts to a distant point in the cityscape. A few seconds pass, then he glances back over at Helena. "Unless you were talking about something else?"


"I'm talking about that mostly," Helena starts to explain, "but it's more than that. I really am not the best when it comes time to letting people in close to me." The scotch is finished, probably faster than what's good for her, and the empty glass is held out to him in a silent request for another. If she's going to be talking about her past then she's going to need another dose of liquid courage.

"You don't deserve how I treated you. Rumors. Tabloid lies. I know better than to believe that shit. And here I was, cold and bitchy and evil to you when we first met." Her shoulders slouch and her head bows as she whispers, "If you'll let me, I would like to tell you about myself. About why I am so cold a lot of the time."


"Helena, I don't have very many friends, but I consider you to be one of them. I don't often try so hard to get to know people, and in your case I'm glad it worked." As he shares his thoughts, Ollie heads back to the bar and pours them both another drink. When he returns, he hands Helena's glass back to her and meets her gaze calmly. "Friends are supposed to be able to talk to one another. Talk to me."


Helena's hand shakes as she reaches out, annoying her. She's supposed to be calm and collected. Not some ditzy basket case. The shaking subsides as soon as the glass is taken, thankfully, sparing her from anymore embarrassment. "I wish I could be more open but am glad you find it worth it. Getting to know me, that is. I have come to realize that it is worth getting to know you, too." The glass shifts to her off hand and she reaches out, brushing her fingers along his arm for a moment but the touch doesn't linger and soon she's pulling away, moving so to walk across the room.

"It is not easy for me to let down my shields," she starts, pausing here and there to take drinks as she does. "And the shields I have up are not easy for people to get past." Her footfall pauses before one of the displayed paintings, her head angling to the side when she takes in as many of the little details at once. "My parents and brother were killed when I was a child. I don't know how or why, but the men who were sent to assassinate us either forgot about me or didn't see me or… something. And I sought to shield my heart, even though I was such a young girl." Her head straightens only to tilt to the other side, her nose wrinkling. "It isn't easy for me to care for people who are not my students, Oliver. But I want to. I want to care about you and consider you my friend as you do me. And thanks for that, by the way. That means a lot to me."


Ollie smiles crookedly and salutes Helena with his drink before taking a hearty gulp. "Ahh. I try, but it's nice to be appreciated. Seriously, though. That's a terrible thing you went through. It changes a person. I'm sure you heard about my little vacation. I came back different, too."

He retrieves the bottle of single malt and pours them both a bit more, without bothering to freshen up the ice this time. "The point is, you're still here," he continues. "You endure. You teach, which means you change the world every day. All you can do is be content with what you've managed to accomplish. You've accomplished a lot, considering the circumstances. So drink with me, relax, and enjoy having a new friend." He ends with a smile and raises his glass again, offering it to clink with Helena's.


"I only just read about your ordeal, Oliver. I've never really was the kind to keep tabs on that kind of news. But yeah. We both went through a lot." The refill to her glass is given a slight nod of thanks and she sips, Helena really not bothered by the lack of ice to cool or dilute the potent drink. Hell, they could probably stand to drink it straight due to the gravity of the conversation they're having.

The couch is motioned to with Helena's glass then. "I have a feeling we may be talking for a while so maybe we should get comfortable?" Not that she's really expecting to be invited to stay for any real length of time. She fully expects Oliver to have plans even though it is already late in the evening.


Ollie curls up on the couch without hesitation, resting his back against one of the overstuffed leather arms and tucking his feet comfortably beneath him. Wisely, he's brought along the bottle of scotch. It's set on a sideboard and he tilts his head to better consider Helena. "I agree. If we're going to have a proper conversation, you should loosen up. Take your coat off, relax. You opened up to me, I'll open up to you. I'm sure you're curious. Ask me any question and I'll answer it as honestly as I can. Just one, though, so make it count."


The first thing Helena does is take off her shoes only to immediately regret that. Why did she have to forget to do laundry last night? Hopefully Oliver will ignore the fact that her socks are mismatched as well as a bit on the hole-y side. Not that he'll get to see them too long as she's quickly moving to sit and tuck her legs to the side. Ahem.

With her feet hidden and everything else, Helena turns her attention fully to him, Oliver considered carefully as is his offer. Just one question? Well, he's right. She better make it count. "What was it like when you were stranded on that island," she asks, moving to take off her jacket which is then tossed to the floor next to her shoes.


"Harsh. Unforgiving." Oliver's gaze shifts away and grows distant. Lost in memories, his voice is much quieter now. "Every day, every hour was a struggle. At first just to eat, to survive. There were predators on the island, at least the part where I washed up."

Good thing he brought the bottle, because he's already finishing the scotch he's working on. He pours himself another splash, but sips sparingly this time. "It wasn't uninhabited, either," he continues. "There were… pirates, I guess. Slavers, drug runners, whatever they called themselves, they were mean. I killed. I actually died once. It was a long five years."


She can't look at him now but while she isn't watching Oliver as he speaks Helena is definitely paying him full attention, not even letting the sudden need for another drink to cause her to move or speak. It isn't until she's sure that he's done responding that she does, her voice quivering when she replies. "You are a survivor," she says as a compliment, her tone saddened, "even more than I thought I was. It speaks very well as to just what kind of person you are. And I am glad we got to meet."

Daring to move, the brunette repositions herself, going as far as to move so she can sit next to Oliver. Total invasion of personal space due to how he's sitting and it isn't exactly the most comfortable for Helena who has to kind of bend over his legs in an awkward way, but it eventually gets figured out. Hopefully Oliver will see it as another way of his guest trying to let her shields down and let him closer and not her trying to make a move on him. Or something.


Or something, indeed. Moving with casual ease, Ollie reaches around Helena with his bottle-wielding hand and pours her another splash, then sets the bottle aside and drapes his arms around her shoulders. Not tightly, but closely enough to let her know that he feels comfortable as well.

"We all see our share of battles," he says, his voice low and rumbling. "Some of us come out the other side stronger. Not better, maybe. But tougher. More resilient. Some people never really come out the other side at all. I'm glad we're both survivors."


Indecision, the inability to make a choice in a timely manner. It is what Helena goes through now. She's not sure what she should do, what'd be appropriate or what'd be seen as too much to damn fast, leaving her have to consider everything carefully. In the time she comes to any conclusion she has her glass emptied and set down and her cheek against his chest.

There is silence that lasts but it isn't the kind that leaves one feeling uncomfortable. No, it's quite the opposite, like sitting with an old friend and knowing you don't have to say anything. "I don't know if it can be said I came out of it a better person," she whispers while reaching to play with his shirt where it falls over his stomach. "I am bitter. Not a very nice person."


"We all have fires to walk through. They're what forge us into what we are." Ollie's finally managed to detach himself from his memories. Calmer now, he sets aside his own glass and reaches up to smooth Helena's hair into place. "You never would've chosen what happened to you," he elaborates. "I know that. But it's what made you who you are. You can't change what happened, you can only change who it makes you. I'm angry that I spent a chunk of my life marooned on a tropical hellhole, but I can't let it affect who I am every day. I endure, the same way you do. And hey, you're nice to me. Now, anyway." This last bit is said with a teasing lilt and a smile on his face.


Affection is not something Helena's used to, that something she chose to go without for many reasons both giving and being on the receiving end. And here she is, being shown some by Oliver (that is what he's doing, yes?) at the same she is attempting to do the same for him. "I think I like being nice to you," she chuckles, his joke actually not falling flat with the mostly-humorless woman this time. Neither is how he plays with her hair. Goodness, that is actually nice. "I believe I could stay like this for a while."


Oliver brushes the hair back from Helena's eyes so she can see him. "Nobody's stopping you," he says, a smile taking hold on his face and growing. "I'm comfortable. You should be, too. I see the way you tense up sometimes. You don't have to try and impress me just because I have money. I'm not that guy anymore. I like your leather jacket and your mismatched socks."


Somehow Oliver is finding all the ways to endear himself to her. Everything right down to liking her socks, of all things. "I have to say that I rather like you in your jeans and tee," she mentions, the shirt in question given a little tug." Her head lifts off of his body for a moment. "I will try not to tense up around you anymore. I promise." Her shoulders lift slightly as she moves again, this time to give him a soft kiss. It isn't exactly given on the lips although it is placed close to the corner of his mouth, not urgent in nature but warm, for her.


Ollie doesn't roll into the kiss, he just relaxes and enjoys it. When Helena's done, he reaches up to trail the backs of two fingers along her cheekbone. "I'll only ever keep one secret from you. Promise. I figure that's a good start to us getting closer." His voice is low and husky as makes unwavering, unabashed eye contact. His free hand comes up to rest lightly on Helena's forearm. "Sound good to you?"


Her breath catches in her throat and for a moment she freezes. It takes her almost a minute to realize that the kiss was well-received, or so it appears, and she can relax, her head angling to the side as she tries to nuzzle those fingers as he strokes her face. "We all have secrets, Oliver. I have mine as well. I will never hold the fact that you do against you." Her hands settle upon his chest, palm to body, Helena's expression very pleased.


"Then I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship." Ollie's fingertips hover over Helena's lips for a brief, teasing moment before his hand drops and he curls his other arm around her as well. "Right now I feel safe and content. I'm exhausted, and I'm the most comfortable I've been in a long time. If you stay, I'll be asleep before you know it."

Rather than a warning, his words are an invitation. Coupled with a final, affectionate squeeze, there's little left to be doubted.


The invitation is timely as what Helena's had to drink has gone to her head and she finds herself a little too tipsy to dare drive home and taking cabs is an expense she saves for emergencies. "I will stay," she whispers sleepily. What isn't said should still be easy to see as she too is comfortable, this being the first time in a long time she's allowed anyone in. She forgot how good it feels. Grinning, she looks at him and adds playfully:

"You better not snore or hog the covers, Oliver Queen."

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