"Will, did you get the ice?"
Will blinked at Talia as she looked in the chest freezer, and realized that he'd been daydreaming again. "Sorry?"
"Oh my god, you're worse than a little kid, I swear," Talia snapped at him, slamming the freezer door closed. "I asked about the damn ice for the margaritas. For the dinner party that's starting in exactly fifteen minutes. Dinner with friends. Ring a bell?"
"Jeez, I didn't get it," Will said apologetically. He'd meant to get it. In fact, he'd even set out to stop by the store on the way home from work, but he'd gotten distracted and ended up stopping at a book store to get the latest bestseller he'd had his eye on. It was ridiculous to forget such a simple task, but he'd been so off his game lately, it wasn't much of a surprise to him. Still, he didn't want to ruin Talia's evening or make her mad at him before everyone arrived.
"I'll go get it right now and be back before you know it," he said, already grabbing his car keys.
"Fine. Just hurry up," she said with a scowl and returned to filling trays with the hors d'oeuvres she'd made for the cocktail portion of the evening.
Will rushed out to his car and was about to back out of the driveway when he saw Peter's car pull up in front of the house. "Oh, jeez," he muttered to himself, put the car in park and quickly got out to go meet Peter.
"What's going on?" Peter asked as he got out of his car. "Did I get the time wrong?"
"No, I fucked up and I'm making an emergency ice run," Will explained, grabbing Peter's hand and dragging him over to his own car. "Come with me. Otherwise, you'll be trapped with Talia alone and I wouldn't wish that on anyone when she's in this kind of mood."
Peter made a face as he followed. "Wow, you're really not selling me on the prospects for the evening," he said, getting into the passenger side of Will's car.
"It'll be fine. I just forgot to pick up a bag of ice for her to make drinks. It was stupid and I'm totally at fault." Will finished backing out onto the street and soon they were on their way to the store. He glanced over at Peter and noticed for the first time how he was dressed. Will was used to seeing Peter in suits and ties for his job, but today he was casual in a jacket and silk shirt with the first few buttons undone. It wasn't really that much different, but for some reason it looked really good to Will. That thought made him blush. Thinking Peter looked good was most definitely not the way he wanted to spend the evening.
"What's wrong?" Peter asked, noticing the funny look on Will's face. He looked down at his shirt. "Did I get something on my shirt?"
"No, no," Will said quickly. "No... You, um... You look great."
"Thanks," Peter smiled at his friend. "So do you. That color blue makes your eyes look amazing."
Will looked down at the sky blue shirt he was wearing. Talia had bought it for his last birthday and he'd never really given much thought to how it made him look before. Now, though, he found himself wanting to wear it around Peter all the time. Another bad thought to be having, he scolded himself. What had happened to his agreement to just be friends? Maybe it was just his nerves about how the evening would go with Talia making him start to think all of these inappropriate things.
"Thanks," he finally said, feeling the blush in his face going all the way out to his ears.
"Did I embarrass you by paying you a compliment?" Peter asked with a teasing laugh.
"No, why?" Will said, not very convincingly.
"Because you just passed the grocery store," Peter pointed out, laughing even harder.
"Shit!" Will pulled a U-turn at the next intersection and blushed more as he finally got them to the store.
"You're really nervous about this dinner, aren't you?" Peter asked as they pulled into a parking spot.
"Yes," Will said, killing the engine and opening his door. "And we can discuss it while we get the ice."
"Yes, sir." Peter grinned as he got out of the car and followed Will inside.
Will entered the store and immediately spied the ice case. He made a beeline for it and flung the door open, hoping that he wouldn't have to go into too much detail about why he was worried about this dinner.
"So, why are you nervous?" Peter said, right by Will's side. "I'm the one whose lifestyle she despises. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the meal."
"That's not true and you know it," Will said, pulling out a bag of ice and pushing it into Peter's arms. "I've got a lot at stake here."
"You do?" Peter frowned and followed Will to the cashier. "What do you have at stake? Besides..." He put the ice down on the conveyor belt and his face fell a little. "Oh, I get it."
"Get it? Get what?" Will fished out his wallet while he threw Peter a confused look.
"You're afraid of me embarrassing you and you having to defend our friendship," Peter said.
"What?" Will turned to face Peter and shook his head. "No, Pete, that's not it," he said, his voice softer now. "I don't have to defend anything about you, all right? I don't feel that way because I know you can defend yourself. I'm..." He bit his lip, hesitating before he confessed. "You might decide you don't want to be friends with someone who can be married to someone like Talia."
It was clear that Will had surprised him, but Peter managed to recover quickly. "Um, you'd better give the lady her money," he said softly, walking past Will to pick up the bag of ice.
"Oh, um, sorry," Will mumbled, taking out a few bills and giving them to the cashier. He watched Peter head back outside to the car as he waited for his change.
When Will got back outside, he saw Peter leaning against his car, holding the bag of ice like a baby.
"It's locked," Peter said softly, nodding at the car.
"Yeah, I know," Will nodded, hitting the remote to unlock the doors. "I'm sorry." He wasn't talking about the doors being locked, and he was fairly sure Peter knew that. "Listen, I want to talk about this."
"About what?" Peter got into the car and put on his seatbelt. He didn't look at Will.
Will sighed and got behind the wheel again, not knowing what else there was to say. Had he offended Peter by not giving him enough credit? Or was it something else? As they drove back to Will's house in silence, he tried to think of what he could have said wrong, and it wasn't until they pulled into the driveway that it hit him. He killed the engine and turned to his best friend.
"God, Peter, I'm so sorry," he said softly.
"Why?" Peter asked, still not looking at him. "Look, this is cold. Can we go inside?"
Will touched Peter's arm. "Not until you know that I don't believe for one second that you'd let Talia's actions affect how you feel about me. You'd never do that, especially because you love me." In that moment, when Peter turned to look at him and nod, he knew he'd unraveled all of their efforts to be nothing more than friends.
"We should..." Will knew that if he didn't get out of that car, he was going to do something he couldn't take back.
"Someone just pulled up," Peter said softly, offering Will a small smile before getting out of the car.
Will took a deep breath and looked in the rearview mirror in time to see the couple who'd been invited introducing themselves to Peter. There was no turning back now.
"Talia, the ice is here," Will called out as he entered the house, guests in tow. "And--"
"It's about damn time," Talia called back. "If you're lucky, they'll be running late as usual."
Will glanced apologetically at the couple. George and Nancy and been friends of theirs since they'd moved into the neighborhood, but there was always a part of Will that felt they liked Talia more and considered Will to be part of the package if they wanted to be friends with her.
"Actually, sweetheart," he said, quickly heading to the kitchen. "They're here."
Talia's face went pale, but she recovered enough to glare at him. "You did that on purpose," she spat, then pushed past him to go greet her friends.
Peter joined Will in the kitchen, having been passed by Talia in her quest to make nice with George and Nancy. "Here you go," he said, handing the bag of ice to Will. "I don't think she saw me."
"She saw you," Will sighed, putting the ice in the freezer. "She's just pissed that I didn't know what was going to come out of her mouth when she didn't know her friends were here."
Peter walked over to the doorway and looked at Talia with George and Nancy. "She's out there laughing with them about it," he said. "She's not mad."
"Yeah, she is," Will sighed. "She's embarrassed and I'll hear about it later."
"God, Will," Peter said, frowning and going back over to his friend. "She treats you like a kid. How can you stand it?"
Will looked at Peter and found himself wanting to lean against him and feel his best friend's arms around him. "It's fine," he said, turning away before he let Peter in on what he was thinking. "I'm used to it."
"Used to what?" Talia had come back into the kitchen, friends close behind her.
Peter saw the panicked look on Will's face and stepped in. "We were just talking about Will's job and the hours he has to work."
"Oh." Talia appeared to be satisfied with that explanation and smiled. "You must be Peter. Sorry for the abrupt greeting," she said, holding out her hand, "but it's good to finally meet you."
Surprised by how gracious the woman appeared to be, Peter took her hand and shook it. "Good to meet you, too," he said, smiling in return. "I've heard so much about you from Will. He's quite proud of you."
Talia looked over at Will and her smile widened. "That's lovely to know," she said softly, then walked over to Will to kiss him on his cheek. "Thank you for getting the ice, sweetheart," she murmured.
In that instant, Will knew that all would be forgiven and he didn't have to worry about any repercussions later. Yet again, he found himself owing Peter for getting him out of a scrape the way he had so many times when they were kids. Granted, Peter had also gotten Will into a lot of trouble during those years, but the good times far outweighed the bad.
Peter had given Will an amused look when Talia kissed his cheek, and Will had blushed bright red in return. This was probably going to be a very interesting evening.