|The Nearness of You
Author: Genevievey PM
At the end of Series 2, as Assumpta contemplates leaving Ballykea for greener pastures, Peter is there - as always.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Friendship - Words: 1,210 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 02-20-12 - id: 7854041
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own "Ballykissangel". It and its characters belong to Kieran Prendiville and the BBC, both of whom I respect. I gain nothing from writing this but simple vicarious enjoyment. The title is taken from a beautiful love song by Hoagy Carmichael, circa 1938.
Author's Note: This is a little between-the-scenes moment that insisted on being written. I was watching the final episode of Series 2 ('Chinese Whispers'), and I love all the warm camaraderie in that scene when Niamh's happy news spontaneously provides a cover against the 'revenue men': and I noticed how the final seconds of that scene show Assumpta smiling and stepping into the shed to join Peter. So, I'm just carrying on with a conversation between them, which I feel is necessary.
I haven't actually decided yet whether or not this story is complete, a oneshot, or whether I'll be tempted to continue with it...at any rate, if I do, it probably won't (or at least shouldn't) be any time particularly soon...but then I always say that, and still end up writing fanfic when I should be writing essays...
At any rate, I hope that someone enjoys this. Reviews are always appreciated, if and when you have the time.
The Nearness of You
"And don't worry Assumpta," winked Quigley, as he stepped out of the curate's shed hand in hand with his beloved daughter, "I'll pick up the tab." The young publican laughed, still leaning against the doorframe with relief, a touch overwhelmed by the roller-coaster of the past few days.
"Thanks Brian, that's a relief."
Stepping inside with a sigh, she gave Peter a warm, slightly giddy smile, which he could only return wholeheartedly after the ordeal they'd been through and its happy result. The last time they'd been alone, he had confronted Assumpta about her plans to leave, and the discussion had been a fraught one: but enough had changed since then to alter their moods.
"It's wonderful news," Peter grinned.
"It is: God knows they deserve it."
"And now we have a legitimate reason to drink up this," he smiled, gesturing to the shelves of duty-free alcohol. Assumpta nodded, breathing a relieved laugh.
"I swear I've got someone looking out for me," she grinned, and before Peter had time to consider that it was an unusual comment for a cynic, the woman's smile softened and she dropped her gaze, kicking at the dusty floor with her boot.
"Speaking of which, I wanted to say…Thank you, for all your support, lately, and before. I'm not sure I deserve it at all."
Peter's eyes were wide, and he floundered for a moment. "Of course you do…You're a great support to so many people yourself."
"Well, my bar does prop up Brendan and Padraig on a regular basis-"
He shook his head, smiling, insistent. "I mean what you do – Fitzgerald's is great, it's true, but no number of pints or sandwiches could replace what you do, for Niamh, for Ambrose, for the community…for me."
In the dim light, it looked as though Assumpta might have been blushing, and for a moment it struck Peter that a dusty old shed probably wasn't the ideal place to be having this (or any) conversation: but then, they never did things the ordinary way, did they?
"Ah well," the woman shrugged, trying to sound casual, "it's just what you do when you care about someone, isn't it?"
Peter couldn't look away from her, and before he could speak he had to swallow hard. She was, in her way, righting the hurt she'd done cutting him off in the kitchen: not in so many words, but her intention was clear, and somehow the feeling expressed was all the more intimate for the roundabout way it had been delivered.
"Yeah," he managed, turning his gaze to the shelves again. "And I'd better give you a hand with these boxes – help you out while I've still got the chance – if you want to get your van up here again."
Assumpta blinked at the change of tone, then managed a grateful smile. "Oh, yeah, that'd be great. I expect everyone could do with a drink."
Patting her pockets and trying to think where she'd left her keys, a moment passed before Assumpta realized that the man was already lifting boxes from shelf to floor, piling them nearer the doorway in preparation to move them back down the street again to her pub: when hiding them in his shed had been his generous offer anyway. She could only imagine the scandal if it got out that Father Clifford hid a great pile of duty-free beer in his shed…but he seemed to think nothing of taking the risk, for her. Just like every other time he'd gone out of his way (and bent the rules) to make things better for her: the publican's race, for one.
Was there anything he wouldn't do for the people he cared about? And she wasn't even a parishioner. True, he was kind and selfless to everyone…but Assumpta couldn't help suspecting that he wouldn't corner anyone else in their kitchen and declare, 'I care about you' in quite the same way…
But more than any other feeling, as Peter bent to pack more beer it hit Assumpta with some force what a true friend he was. Going out of his way to help her, again, while he still had the chance, because he knew she was considering leaving. God, he was wonderful…
"You right, Assumpta?"
She realized, at that point, that she had been staring at him, silent in thought for the past several moments. She flustered, despite – or perhaps because of – her little epiphany.
"Oh, yeah, fine, I'll just get the van…"
But she couldn't hurry away from him, not then, not when she wanted more than anything to hold him close and whisper just how much she 'cared about him' into his beautiful hair…
"Peter," she said, looking back at him from the doorway.
"Mmhm?" He stood up straight, dusting off his hands, and looking to her expectantly as though awaiting instructions.
The words were simple and few, and hardly enough to encompass everything she felt in that moment, but she endeavoured to meet Peter's gaze with the honesty he deserved, and it seemed that he caught her meaning – or something of it, at least. After a moment, he offered her a small, endearing smile.
"You're welcome. Now, get that van up here or I'll go on strike."
Somewhere between the time she left the curate's shed and the time she unlocked her van, Assumpta Fitzgerald admitted to herself that she would not be leaving Ballykissangel anytime soon. And later that evening, when Peter looked her straight in the eye and told her that she could 'find it anywhere', she could not believe him: Assumpta had a feeling that she'd never find it anywhere else but where she was already.