Will had been eager to escape from work. Deidre would cover for him and take care of any emergencies that came up. He felt so blessed to have such a competent assistant who not only liked him but felt tremendous loyalty to him. It was definitely a feeling that was returned. Frankly, he couldn't imagine his office life without her.
Thoughts of his loyal subordinate were soon forgotten, however, as he entered the restaurant where he'd agreed to meet Peter. He was feeling jittery and nervous, far too excited for something as simple as a meeting with his friend. He'd noticed that he'd been feeling this way every time he even thought about Peter despite the understanding they'd come to.
"Will, over here."
He turned when he heard Peter's voice and smiled at him.
"Hey, you," Will said, heading for the table. He was pleased to see it was in a corner towards the back so it would afford them some semblance of privacy.
"I'm really glad you were able to make it," Peter said, standing up to give Will a hug in greeting.
"Me, too," Will smiled. "I wasn't sure if I'd be able to sneak out. They've really been riding my ass lately."
Peter frowned as they took their seats. "How come?"
"I think it's because they're getting ready to expand their operations and want to make sure I'm not fucking anything up."
Nodding, Peter signaled to the waiter to bring over a bottle of wine. "They should know you wouldn't fuck anything up," he said softly. "I bet they're testing you, if anything. Maybe you're going to move up the administrative ladder and they're making sure they're making the right decision."
Will hadn't thought of that, so he looked at Peter with something not unlike awe. "You really think they would do that? How can you think that? You haven't been around me for years. I could be a complete tool who doesn't do his job well and is being ridden so hard because he messes everything up."
Peter looked at Will for a few moments, then started to laugh. "Jesus, Will, unless you've changed completely over the last few years, I don't see that being the case. I remember you being a smart, stand up guy who could do whatever he set his mind to. Don't tell me that's changed."
Will couldn't help blushing at the compliment and in an instant he felt as if he and Peter had never been apart. All the affection and love he felt for his best friend welled up inside him in a flood so intense, he had to look away for a moment to gather himself.
Nodding, Will took a deep breath. "I've missed you, Pete," he whispered. "And I'm so sorry--"
"You've already apologized for what happened," Peter said softly, reaching for Will's hand. "You don't need to keep doing that. And I've missed you, too." He said it patiently, but Will wondered if he was tired of hearing it.
Will raised his eyes to Peter's. "How can you be so understanding about what I did? I don't get that."
Peter squeezed Will's hand before letting it go. "Because you were right, remember?"
"I was?" Will frowned. "About what?"
"You're getting senile," Peter smiled, teasing him gently. "You were right about marrying Talia, I told you that you were trying to hide who you really were, and you proved me wrong. You're still happily married and I... I misjudged you." The way Peter said it, it seemed as if he'd been rehearsing it. Yes, he'd said something similar the day of the funeral, but this time Will swore it sounded as if he was trying to convince himself that it was true. "Any of this sound familiar?"
Will felt his heart sink a little bit at the thought that Peter was trying so hard to admit he had been wrong, when the truth was that he couldn't have been more right. Licking his lips, Will lowered his eyes. "I... Maybe you..."
Peter tilted his head. "Maybe I what?" He moved a little closer and took Will's hand again. This time, he wasn't just touching it. He had taken it in his and was holding it, something of which Will was suddenly very conscious. It was a signal in direct conflict with the boundaries Peter had wanted to establish, and it left Will feeling a strange combination of relief and annoyance. What made it worse was that Will was sure Peter had no clue about the conflict currently warring inside of him, nor that he was the cause of it.
"Maybe you were right to be concerned about why I was marrying Talia," he said. The confession made him panic for a second because he didn't want to be shut down because he was misinterpreting the way Peter was holding onto his hand.
"Well, yeah," Peter nodded. "Yeah, you admitted that you did it because of your dad always giving you such a hard time. Remember?" he said again as if trying to make Will think about that talk over at the PR building. "But was there another reason besides that and the baby?"
The question wasn't what Will had been expecting. A part of him had been sure that Peter would know the real reason Will had gotten so angry with him. But he chose to grab onto this as if it were some life line that would prevent him from confiding more than he should at the wrong time. How could he tell the man he'd pushed away, his best friend, that he had married his wife so he wouldn't have to face being in love with him?
"Yeah, there's something else," Will said with a nod, a voice in the back of his head telling him to shut up. "I...shouldn't have married her. She... I never told you, but I think she lied about being pregnant. I made a mistake. And...and I shouldn't have..." He felt his resolve crumble in that instant and leaned towards Peter, seeking comfort from his friend. "I'm so miserable, Pete," he whispered. "I try to be a good husband, but she makes it so hard to do the right thing. I wish...I wish I could take it back."
"Hey, it's okay," Peter whispered, pulling Will to him and cradling him gently. "It's all right," he said, trying to make it better for the man he'd spent so much of his life caring about. Without thinking, he closed his eyes and kissed Will's forehead.
"It's not all right, Pete," Will said softly, leaning against the other man. He was suddenly too aware of how much he wanted to feel those arms tighten around him, how he wanted to feel those lips on his own, making every awful feeling go away. The thought terrified him and he pushed Peter away with a soft gasp. "I...I need to go..."
"Will?" Peter was stunned by the sudden turn. "What... Did I do something wrong?"
It was in that moment that Will understood Peter never had any clue just what he had been feeling. Back at the office, Will had been sure Peter had stopped him from confessing anything because he hadn't wanted to hear about it. But, the truth was that he had probably been giving Will what he thought he wanted. Peter thought Will wanted friendship and nothing more and had been trying to make it easier for him to have it.
"No, it's me. I..." Will felt as if he was on the verge of tears as every confusing emotion he'd thought he'd put behind him came rushing to the fore. "I don't know what to do, Peter," he said, his voice hitching.
"No, about... I mean, yes. About Talia. But about...you, too."
Peter took hold of Will's arms and made him look at him. "What about me, Will? Are you... Do you want me to leave you alone?"
Will's eyes were filled with uncertainty as he looked at Peter and shook his head. "No. I don't. That's the last thing I want. I..."
Looking back on it, Will would think that what happened next was so quick, it was almost as if it hadn't occurred. But it had. In the few seconds Will found his courage, he leaned forward and kissed Peter full on the mouth, making it clear that he wanted so much more from him than friendship. When he pulled back, his eyes were wide, his face flushed.
"I-I really...I n-need to...I have to go," he stammered, getting up and ignoring Peter's protests as he headed for the exit.