"So, where were you today?"
Will looked up from his supper at his wife's question. "What do you mean?"
"I called work and they said you'd taken a personal day," Talia replied, her tone more than a little icy.
Slowly lowering his fork, Will wiped his mouth with his napkin and gave her a curious look. "Were you checking up on me?"
"No. I was going to ask you to pick up some cooking sherry for me. Why would you think I was checking up on you?" She picked up her wineglass and took a sip of her cabernet. "Have you been up to no good, William?"
Will could feel the color rising in his face. He had taken the day off so he could spend it catching up with Peter. Since Kory's funeral, Will had been finding himself taking off more and more time in order to do that, but today had been the first time he'd taken off the entire day so he could hang out with Peter at his office and see what it was that he really did. It wasn't until Talia brought it up that he could see how it could be interpreted as sneaking around behind her back. He decided to be upfront with her. After all, he had nothing to hide. Technically.
"I played hooky," Will said with a sheepish grin and a shrug. "Nothing to hide but the fact that I felt like going to have a little fun instead of pushing paper."
"And you didn't want to have it with me?" Talia asked, one eyebrow raised. Will should have known that she wouldn't let this drop. "I could have used your help today."
"My help? With what?" Will frowned. He wasn't quite sure what Talia would need him for. She had her own job over at an attorney's office and he never called her or went over there. What on earth could she have needed his help with?
"Have you forgotten the dinner party we're having tomorrow?" Talia rolled her eyes and pushed her chair back from the table. "God, Will, are you even part of this marriage anymore?"
"Talia, there's no need for you to start down that road again," Will grumbled, looking at his empty wineglass with a frown. "I have a lot on my mind, okay?" He reached for the bottle of wine and refilled his glass. "I didn't realize you were asking me to help you with the dinner party. I thought you..." He sighed. "It doesn't matter what I thought."
"No, it doesn't," Talia said with a smirk. "But I still want to know where you were today. I wonder what kind of fun you were having. And what was her name?"
That took Will by surprise. In all the years he and Talia had been married, he'd never given her any reason to think he'd been unfaithful. The hypocrisy of that thought was not lost on him.
"Come on, Will. I'm not a fool. You've been sneaking off from work all week and today you take off the whole day. What else could you be doing with your time?"
"You automatically think I'm cheating on you because I've been taking time off? Have I ever done anything to make you think I'd cheat on you?"
She took another sip of her wine and put down the glass. "Just be honest with me, Will."
Will took a deep breath. "Look, this is stupid, sweetheart. Do you want to know what I've been doing?" At her nod, he continued. "I've been catching up with an old friend of mine. Do you remember me talking about Peter Cavanaugh? My best friend?"
"The guy you knew in high school?" Talia furrowed her brow. "I vaguely remember you telling me that you were no longer friends. That's who you're spending all your time with?"
Knowing that his wife wouldn't care about the details of what had brought them back into one another's lives, Will simply nodded. "We've been catching up."
"I see." She refilled her glass and gave Will a long look before continuing. "You two just happened to kiss and make up after all this time and now you're running around like best pals again?"
From the look on her face, Will could tell she didn't believe him. "What do you think is going on?" he asked her, trying not to get distracted by why she'd said something like 'kiss and make up' when she had no idea that he and Peter had stopped being friends because Peter was gay. And she couldn't possibly know about that one kiss that one time, could she?
"I think you're making up a ridiculous story to cover up the fact that you're sneaking around with some slut behind my back."
Will couldn't help laughing, and he lowered his head to try and make himself stop.
"I'm glad you think that your infidelity is so amusing," Talia said, raising her voice.
"Jesus Christ," Will snapped, his good humor gone in an instant. "Peter's lover died a couple of weeks ago, all right? I found out from Mom and went to pay my condolences at the funeral. He was interested in our being friends again. End of story."
He was pleased to see her look a little shocked by the revelation. "Will, I...didn't know..."
"No, you didn't. It's my fault you didn't, but I didn't think I needed to tell you about him. Besides, I know how you feel about gay men. I didn't think you'd care."
Talia wrinkled her nose at the mention that Peter was gay, and it was clear to Will that he'd hit a nerve. "Oh, well, in that case... "
"Listen, I'd really like to have him over for dinner some time. I'd like him to meet you."
"I don't know about that," Talia said, clearly uncomfortable.
"Look, about a minute ago, you were accusing me of cheating on you with some woman. Now that you know the truth, you don't want to meet a childhood friend of mine?"
"Not if he's a fa--." She stopped and took a deep breath. "Will, I would rather not meet any of your homosexual friends."
"You make it sound as if I have a gang I run with," Will said bitterly. "God, I never should have said anything to you. I should have let you keep on thinking I was having an affair."
"Do you try to be a bastard, or is it simply a natural talent of yours?" Talia got up from the table and took her plate into the kitchen.
Will knew that meant the conversation was over. Talia had always been the one to decide when a fight was over, and it was usually when she'd had the last word. But, this time, Will wasn't going to let it go. He got up and followed her, finding her loading the dishwasher.
"Talia, I don't know why you're such a homophobe, but I promise you that Peter is a decent man who was a very good friend to me for a time. He's one of the people who helped me survive my father."
At the mention of Tobias, Talia stopped what she was doing and looked at Will. "Honey, I know that you and your father didn't always get along, but I just can't believe he was the monster you make him out to be. He was always so nice to me."
"And you're the only one who matters, right?" Will clenched his jaw, not wanting to tell her that the reason Tobias Porter liked her so much was because she was proof his son wasn't "some faggot." Will could have married a whore and his father would have still approved of her. For all he knew - and as much as he hated the thought - he wouldn't have been surprised if Tobias had been attracted to Talia, too.
"I'm not saying that," Talia sighed. "I'm only saying that no one can be all bad or all good and that you make your father out to be some sort of devil you needed to survive."
Will lowered his eyes to the floor. He knew that she would never understand what it was like. Talia's parents had always doted on her and she expected all parents to be the same way. For some reason, though, she didn't get along with Inez. That had always struck Will as odd and gave rise to suspicions that he'd rather not address.
"I told you what he was like," Will said softly. There was no point in talking to her about it, but he really did want to make her understand why Peter was so important to him. "Even if you don't believe it was that bad, doesn't it matter that Peter was there for me when I really needed a friend in my life?"
"You were a kid," Talia snorted. "How deep could that friendship have been?"
The question was ridiculous. Anyone who'd ever had a childhood friend knew that there was nothing in the world like that kind of loyalty and affection. Perhaps Talia had never experienced it and that was why, as with everything else, she was unable to see another point of view.
"Do you love me?"
Talia was clearly surprised by Will's question. "What kind of question is that?"
"A pretty straightforward one, I'd think," Will said. "Do you?"
"You know I do," she sniffed and returned to her chore. "Sometimes despite my better judgment."
Will ignored the jab and walked over to her, gently taking hold of her arm. "Then meet one of the people who made me the man I am today. I really want you to."
She still looked skeptical, but slowly nodded. "All right. If it's that important to you, we can have him over tomorrow night. It won't be much trouble to add one more table setting."
Smiling, Will kissed her cheek and nodded. "Thank you, baby." That was the first fight he'd ever won. He really wanted to call Peter to celebrate.