A/N I'm not back completely I'm afraid. But I am going to try and get a few chapters of this story out asap. Hope you enjoy!!
Chapter Six -Neela
"There is something that I see
In the way you look at me
There's a smile, there's a truth in your eyes"
-"It Is You I Have Loved" Dana Glover
"Ray I..." I looked at him, a face so familiar despite the years we'd been apart. A face that was constantly in my dreams. I don't know what had made me want to tell him, I guess I just didn't want to go through the same ups and downs as last time. I had wanted to be open. But what was the point unless I wanted to risk everything with him...
I hadn't expected him to feel the same way. I realised that now. I had truly thought he would freeze, then awkwardly tell me he thought we should just be friends. I hadn't thought that he too had spent these years thinking of me. And even now, after all I'd told him, all my mistakes... he still wanted me. He had kissed me. My head was telling me not to risk it, that I'd end up hurt again. But my heart was telling me to take the risk. I had listened to my head for so long and I'd always ended up hurting myself and Ray. Maybe for once the option that seemed the least sensible... maybe that was the right thing to do.
"Could we... do you think... we'd be able to?"
He nodded. "We can try. Maybe it won't work out... but after all we've been through..."
I knew what he meant. After all we'd been through, surely we deserved this. This one good chance. And it could work. "What about... the baby?"
"Neela, I love you. You're the only woman I've ever truly loved. And nothing would ever ever make me stop loving you. Obviously it isn't my baby but it's yours and I think I would love it just as well as any father... if you wanted me to. It's up to you how involved I am."
"You'd actually... want to be a dad?"
His eyes lit up. "There's only been one woman I can imagine having a family with."
I smiled. "Well, let's see how it goes. We could... date for a while?" I couldn't believe I was saying those words to him. He was only just back in Chicago. Surely neither of us were really being this open, this forward. And yet... after everything we'd been through... of course we were. We'd wasted so much time, there was no point in wasting more. If either of us hadn't wanted this we could have had a friendship, I was sure. But both of us did want the other. Needed the other. Why say no?
"What on earth will Abby say," he said, laughing.
"She may faint with the shock of it all. Us, being open with each other? What has the world come to?"
"Let's promise that, whether it works out or not, let's promise we'll be open with each other."
"Good promise," I said grinning. Then, daringly, I leaned forward and kissed him again. The thrill of knowing that this was allowed, that no-one was getting hurt made the kiss even better.
Two weeks later I was sitting in a play park with Abby. Joe was running round with one of his friends and we were talking on a bench. It was a lovely February day, the weather was just starting to get sunny again. Though it was still too cold to not wear a coat.
"I saw Ray yesterday," she said, looking at me meaningfully.
I sighed, "Go on."
"That man does not shut up about you Neela. It's annoying. I thought he was bad when he was secretly in love with you, but now..." she smiled. "It's sweet, it really is."
"I thought it was annoying?" I said with a smile.
"No, the moping around was annoying. This I can live with. But I'm still going to tease him about it."
I grinned. "You're evil. But I think I shall too."
"So it's going well?" she asked.
"Extremely." I was unable to hide the grin that spread across my face. "Everything just seems to work... we're taking it all casually, but it's just... nice."
Abby nodded, knowingly. "I'm glad. I would hate you guys to mess it up again."
"Don't speak too soon. We still have a birth to get through. I'm not sure what that's going to do to us."
"Neela. You know about me and Luka. As much as I love Joe and could never imagine being without him now, at one point I seriously considered having a termination for that exact reason, I thought it would be too much stress for us to cope with. But it just brought us closer together. And with you and Ray I'm sure it'll be the same."
I smiled at Abby, she really was all-knowing. She'd gone through a lot, just as we all had. I just hoped she was right about this. Even though Ray and I were being casual, it wasn't the same as casual anywhere else on the planet. With Ray and I there was always something more. We lived in seperate apartments, thought sometimes he'd stay at mine if we were watching a film, more often than not the night would end with him walking me home and some kisses in the streetlamp. We hadn't progressed any further. I think both of us were scared of ruining what little snippet of happiness we had. One day we might have to take the next steps. But it was early yet. Spring was just starting.
That night Ray sat on the couch next to me, his eyes drifting to sleep. He yawned helplessly.
"You should get home, sleepyhead."
"No, no, I'm fine. I'll wait til the end of the movie."
I grinned, "What's the point? It's not like you have any idea what's happening."
He looked over at me, "The point, silly, is that I get to spend time with you and that doesn't happen all that often." He stroked my hand. "Trust me, I make the most of the time I get."
"Well if that's the case, you can stay if you want. No funny business. But you know, sleep."
"Would I ever dream of anything else?" He asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Barnett. It's you. Of course."
He grinned. "That's the old me. I'm a changed man. Sworn to a life of celibicy."
"A whole life?"
I began to get up, "Well you'd best be going then."
He gaped, "Neela Rasgotra, are you saying that if I don't have sex with you at somepoint in the future our relationship is over?"
I settled back down and considered. "Yep. I am indeed saying that."
"Well if that's the case." He leaned over and kissed me, then began kissing my neck, my shoulders...
"Some point in the future Ray!"
He grinned. "Future. Gotcha. But yes, I'd like to stay, if that's alright."
"I'd love it."
A little later, once we were cuddled up in bed he asked "So thought of any names?"
I groaned, "Ray, I thought you were tired."
"And you are avoiding the question. Neela, you're nearly six months, you should at least have some potentials."
"Any I like the sound of I don't like the next time I hear them."
"You're just beign fussy. This baby will have to have a name you know. Baby Rasgotra, as cute as that is, might get a little teasing in kindergarten."
"I'll decide a name. I will."
"I've got a great one."
I looked over at him, grinning cheekily. "Go on?"
"Ray. Or for a girl. Rayola."
I burst out laughing. "Rayola? You have got to be joking."
He looked hurt. "What's wrong with Rayola?"
I tried to stop myself giggling. "Oh nothing I mean... it's just..."
He started shaking and for a moment I thought I'd made him cry. Then I realised he was shaking with laughter. "Oh god Neela, please never ever call your child Rayola."