Peter owned and ran Cavanaugh PR, a business he had started after putting in some time with a competing firm and being let go after an altercation with the owner over how good Peter was at his job. At least, that was Will's understanding after he spoke to his mother and had been told what she and Peter had talked about. Will had been impressed when his mother had filled him in on Peter starting up his own business. He'd also been extremely proud that the man his high school principal had predicted would end up spending the better part of his life in prison had, in fact, turned into something of a success in his field. When they arrived at Peter's office, Will couldn't help smiling excitedly at seeing his friend's name on the building.
"Wow, you have a real office building," he gushed with obvious pride.
"What did you think I'd have? A cardboard box in an alley?" Peter teased him.
"No, I just thought... A whole building? How'd you manage that?"
"Okay, Will, I appreciate you being happy for me, but it's not that big a deal," he laughed, blushing a little. "It's only a converted warehouse that no one else wanted and I put too much work into."
Will looked at Peter and reached to give his arm a squeeze. "Don't make it out to be less than it is," he said, his voice gentle. Peter only ever blushed when he was feeling as if he didn't deserve something. "This is a huge achievement, Pete. I couldn't be prouder if it were my very own place."
Peter slowly shook his head as he looked at Will as if trying to figure him out. "I've missed you, too," he finally said, leaning in to kiss Will's cheek.
The buss made Will turn bright red and quickly turn to fumble to open the car door. "Give me a tour," he said, scrambling to get out of the car. Peter had kissed his cheek plenty of times. When they were teenagers, they'd even had a few drunken make out sessions that, when pushed, Will would conveniently deny ever took place. But this kiss felt different and Will didn't know why or what it meant.
Peter got out of the car, giving Will a curious look. "You okay?"
"Yeah, great," Will nodded, focusing on the entrance to the building instead of Peter. "Just excited to see what you've done with the place."
"I shouldn't have kissed you," Peter said when he joined Will on the sidewalk. "I'm sorry. I should have known you--"
"Let's just go inside and discuss this, okay?" Will touched Peter's arm to soften the words.
Peter nodded and unlocked the front door, then rushed inside to turn off the alarm. Will followed him inside and closed the door behind him. Peter had managed to maintain the open feeling of the warehouse while making it look like a real office space and the combination made it feel comfortable but still professional. There were so many touches around the place that made it very clear Peter had been completely hands on for the decorating, turning the space into a warm and inviting place for business that Will was sure contributed to Peter's success.
"C'mon, let's go upstairs," Peter said.
"There's an upstairs?"
Peter grinned. "Yeah, there was an old manager's office I made into my office. I can gaze down on my minions any time I need a power boost."
Will laughed at that and followed Peter towards a flight of stairs. "Yeah, I can just see you lauding over your kingdom like the little despot you are." It felt good to be joking around with him. He could handle this.
"Excuse me, but I'm not a little despot," Peter said, looking back at him as he climbed the stairs. "I'm a huge despot."
"True," Will said. "Your ass is looking kind of big." He didn't know what possessed him to say that, but he knew that he'd just opened the door for a world of teasing.
"Will, stop checking out my ass before I call your wife and tell her I've made you my bitch."
"Peter!" Will laughed. "Don't say stuff like that."
"Sorry," Peter said, clearly not sorry at all. "But if you're going to freak out because I kiss your cheek, you shouldn't be checking out my ass the next second," he continued to tease him.
"I wasn't checking out your ass," Will said, chuckling. "Trust me, it's not anything I'm interested in. And the kiss just...it embarrassed me."
They reached Peter's office and he gestured for Will to take a seat on a sofa inside. "I've got some scotch. Maybe a drink or three will get you over yourself."
Peter had smiled when he said it, but Will didn't feel like he was teasing him any longer. Still, he didn't say anything as he took a seat and waited for Peter to return with their drinks. His friend had every reason to be angry with him, and it was a relief to now have the opportunity to get everything out in the open. He had a lot to explain.
"Here you go," Peter said, handing Will a glass and sitting down next to him. "Salut." He touched his glass to Will's and took a sip.
"You know you shouldn't stay away from the wake too long," Will said, slowly sipping his drink. "People might talk."
"Since when have I cared what people say about me?" Peter asked softly. "That's more your area of expertise."
That stung, but Will knew he deserved it. "I'm sorry, Pete," he whispered. "I was a coward."
"Yeah, you were." Peter took another sip. "And I was an ass."
Will looked at Peter, a little shocked. He hadn't been expecting that from his friend. "You were? I seem to remember you trying to warn me that I shouldn't marry Talia because--"
"I thought you were gay. You said you weren't and I had no right to come down on you like that. You're still married and you proved me wrong."
Swallowing hard, Will debated telling Peter everything about his current life, including the thoughts he was currently having about the only man he could honestly say he loved. That thought made him feel flustered and confused, but he didn't want to bring that up when Peter had just buried his lover. That ship had sailed and Will knew he could never take anything back by wondering what would have happened if he'd made a different decision that night twelve years ago.
"I shouldn't have cut you out of my life," Will said. "When we had dinner that night, I was so excited to tell you everything that was happening to me. I was getting married and finally getting my dad off my back."
"I know that's why you were doing it," Peter murmured. "Glad to hear you admit it."
"But, Pete, I honestly thought it was the right thing to do. Talia was pregnant and I couldn't not marry her."
"Even though you weren't in love with her."
Will looked down at his glass. "I was in love with her. I still am."
"I see. Well, that's good."
Something about the way Peter said it got under Will's skin. "Look, what do you want me to say?" he asked, annoyed. "She's my wife, Peter, like it or not. I'm sorry for being such a dick to you that night, but you... Jesus Christ, I told you I was engaged and you started laughing at me."
"I was surprised."
"Because you imagined you and I had some sort of relationship, Pete. It was weird."
"No, Will," Peter said, sitting up a little bit straighter. "I 'imagined' you were denying who you were because you were afraid of your dad killing you if you came out of the goddamned closet."
"He would have."
"You should have trusted me to protect you." Peter drained his glass and set it down on the floor. "I would have stood up to that bastard."
Will's heart ached when Peter said that because he knew that it was true. Peter had always defended him as best he could against his dad. "Peter, I was too scared," he whispered. "And...god, when you told me that I was making a huge mistake and then you... When you..."
"When I kissed you," Peter said, finishing the thought for him.
"When you kissed me that night, it scared me even more."
"He wouldn't have found out," Peter said softly. "I wouldn't have said anything to him."
"No, that's not why it scared me." Will couldn't believe he was about to admit this. "Pete, I didn't run from you that night because I was angry."
Peter looked at him intently for a moment, then shook his head. "You were really angry, Will. You called me a fucking faggot and told me to get the hell away from you before you beat the shit out of me." The way he said it made it clear to Will that he'd replayed those words in his head more than a few times. "You don't have to say something else now to make me feel better, okay? Just say you were sorry it happened and let's leave it at that."
Will felt ashamed that he had treated Peter so badly when all the man did was try to make him see the truth.
Taking a deep breath, he nodded. "I'm sorry, Peter. I'm so fucking sorry." The words felt so hollow and not nearly strong enough to undo the damage he had done all those years ago.
Peter leaned closer and hugged him tentatively. "I'm sorry, too," he whispered. "Now we can get back to being friends and forget all about this stuff, right?"
Will clung to Peter, silently giving him permission to hug him a little tighter. He didn't want to forget all of it, but if it meant keeping Peter in his life and getting this second chance, he'd do anything. "Friends," he whispered, knowing that if Peter said it, that's all they would ever be.