Will had turned off his cell phone after he'd left the restaurant. He hadn't wanted to ignore Peter if he called and felt that he wouldn't be guilty of that if the phone wasn't actually on. It was ridiculous reasoning, but his mind was so muddled, he didn't want to add something like obvious guilt to it. Kissing a man he'd previously rejected for having the nerve to call him gay was guilt-inducing enough as it was.
The drive back to the office was a blur, but it gave Will enough time to gather himself. He had to force himself to stop replaying the kiss in his mind. It had been so fast and impulsive, he still couldn't be sure that it had even happened. That was a lie. He knew damn well what he'd done and now he wasn't sure how to deal with the fall out.
"Are you all right, Mr. Porter?" Deidre asked when Will walked past her desk.
"I'm... Yeah. Why?"
"You look a little flustered."
Will touched his face and swallowed, wondering if she could tell what he'd done. "I, um... Thought I was going to be late getting back."
Deidre raised an eyebrow slightly and glanced at the clock on her desk. There was still about forty minutes before Will had to be back, but she didn't say anything. "Yes, sir."
Will offered her a relieved smile and made a mental note to get her something nice for administrative assistant's day.
"You have a few messages," she said, reaching for her notepad.
"Did Mr. Cavanaugh call?" he asked, hoping he sounded casual.
"Yes. He called three times and your wife called twice."
"Okay, thanks," Will nodded and started for his office. "Oh, um..." He paused and looked at Deidre, trying to keep his expression neutral. "If Mr. Cavanaugh calls again, tell him I'm in a meeting."
"Yes, sir," Deidre said with a nod.
Will started for his office again, then stopped once more. He knew he couldn't shut Peter out like that, especially when the man hadn't done anything wrong.
"Actually, if he calls, go ahead and put him through."
Deidre nodded slowly. "All right. And what about your wife?"
He winced a little. "I'll give her a call right now. Thanks, Deidre."
Going into his office, Will sighed and shut the door behind him. This place would have to be his retreat for a little while. He knew that Peter would be calling him soon and he knew that he owed him an explanation. All he had to do was come up with something to explain what he wasn't even sure about himself.
He had just sat down at his desk when the phone rang and he answered it.
"Mr. Porter, Mr. Cavanaugh is here."
Will was sure he'd heard her incorrectly. Peter wouldn't have shown up at the office, would he?
"Mr. Porter? Should I send him in?"
"I... Yes, sure. And, um, hold my calls, please."
Will stood up and waited for Peter to come through the door. He could already feel his face turning red at the prospect of having to face his friend after running out on him the way he did, but he had to do it.
Peter was smiling as he entered the office and closed the door behind him, and for a moment Will wondered if he was going to start laughing at him for being such an idiot.
"Will, I'm so glad you agreed to see me," he said, and Will realized the smile was one of relief.
"Yeah, I... I'm sorry for running out like that," Will said, gesturing for Peter to take a seat on the opposite side of the desk before he sat down himself.
"It's okay. I just wanted to make sure you're all right." Peter sat down but kept looking at Will with something like expectation in his eyes.
"I'm fine. I'm not sure why I did what I did but..." Will shrugged and looked away. "Peter, I don't want you thinking that I'm...like you. I'm not."
"No, of course not," Peter said softly, the light in his eyes fading a little. "You're just confused, right?"
Will looked back at Peter, surprised. "How did you know?"
"Best friend, remember?" Peter managed a grin this time and sat forward a little more. "Look, you and I have always had this really close relationship and maybe we've crossed some lines that other friends wouldn't. But I know that you wouldn't be able to return my feelings and I won't put you in a place where you feel like you have to. I won't lose you again, Will."
"Return your feelings?" Will asked, his voice cracking the tiniest bit. "There are feelings?"
"Of course," Peter said, looking a little confused himself now. "There probably always will be, but, like I said, I know you're not able to return them. It's okay."
Will leaned forward and put his elbows on his desk, burying his face in his hands. "Oh god, Peter, I wish I could tell you that you're right about that."
There was a pause then Peter carefully asked, "Right about what?"
"About me not being able to return your feelings."
Peter sat back in his chair and frowned as he looked at Will. "You've lost me. What's going on?"
Will lowered his hands and forced himself to look at his friend. He owed it to him to tell him the truth.
"Pete, the night you told me that I shouldn't marry Talia because you knew I was gay, I... The reason I ran away so fast was because..." He let out a sharp breath and shook his head. "God, I made such a huge mistake," he whispered. "I was so desperate to prove to Dad that he'd been wrong about me for all those years, I ran away from you and the truth."
"The truth." Peter narrowed his eyes slightly. "Will? The truth?"
Will nodded. "Yes, about how I feel. And...and now that you're here, I don't know what to do."
"You're married, Will," Peter said, clearly pained to hear what Will was saying. "And it's too late to change anything that happened in the past."
"Yes, but, can't I--"
"Will, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions," Peter said, his tone growing colder. "I don't want to hear that you would have chosen to be with me if you'd been feeling braver when I asked you not to marry Talia."
The change in Peter's demeanor threw Will off, and he got up to go to him. "Pete, I--"
"I don't want to hear this," Peter said, standing up. "I can't hear this right now."
Will took hold of Peter's arm to stop him from leaving. "Peter, please... Hear me out."
"I can't, Will," Peter said, his voice cracking. "I... God, I missed you for years. I pined for you, Will. When I met Kory, I only wanted to be with him because he reminded me of you. He looked like you. He had the same sweet, slightly cockeyed view of the world that you did and I fell in love with him because I couldn't be with you. When he...when you showed up at the funeral..." He lowered his head and Will could see that he had started to cry. "God, help me, but I thought it was because you were coming back to me."
Will took in a shaky breath as he put his arms around Peter and drew him close when he began to cry harder. "God, help me, Pete," he whispered, "but I think you're right."