Title: Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot…
Author: Veritas Found
Rating: T / PG-13 / Teen
Characters/Pairings: Maggie Dekker, Taylor Wethersby, Matt Dowd, Jordan Wethersby, Eli Stone, Nathan Stone, Beth Keller; Matt x Taylor, Jordan x Eli (friendship), Nate x Beth, Eli x Maggie
Summary: Years pass, firms pass, people pass, even loves pass – but here, right now, they have each other, and that's all that really matters.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note/Warnings: Written for the December picture prompts at Eli Stone Fic, using the following prompts (in order of use): 28, 29, 30, and 01. Spoilers up 'til 02x08, after which this just goes from speculation/denial. Was intended as a New Year's fic, 'til the Muses decided to hate me.
Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot…
This is the story of my life, and I write it every day
And I hope you're by my side when I'm writing the last page
"Story Of My Life" – Bon Jovi
Part I: I'll Say my Heart Tonight
She's uncomfortable, and he knows it – and knowing he knows it only serves to piss her off more. Maybe it's the hormones, maybe it's just being at a Posner and Klein office party, maybe it's how his associates haven't really given him a chance to spend any of the evening with her, or maybe it's a bit of each. She doesn't really know, and by this point she doesn't really care. She sips her cider and looks out the window, scowling into the San Franciscan night.
She doesn't want to be this upset; it's New Year's Eve, for crying out loud. She should be happy, celebrating – and if the new firm had been able to afford an office party, she probably would be. But then…well, she wouldn't be with Matt, would she? (Not like she was now – Martin Poser was making sure of that, the bastard.)
"I've been here a few years, and I've never seen it snow before. I didn't think it could," she's surprised by the voice to her side, and she turns her head to find Maggie has sidled up beside her. There's a glass of champagne in her hand and a whimsical glint in her eye, though it doesn't do well to mask the look of…what? Sadness? Loneliness? It's there, lurking just below the surface and tainting the smile the woman's forced onto her lips.
"It's rare, but it happens," she says, putting her observations aside to look back out to the night. She's surprised to see the flurries drifting through the air; she had been looking out this window for quite some time and hadn't noticed them at all. "Not usually this early, though."
"Must mean something good's going to happen tonight," Maggie muses, and she quirks a brow at her. She just smiles and shrugs. "Think about it, Taylor: it's snowing in San Francisco on New Year's Eve. That has to be a sign that something good will happen. A night for little miracles."
"I wouldn't hold my breath," she says, sipping her cider. Maggie frowns at her, but she pays her no mind. "So why aren't you back home? I would think you'd be spending Christmas 'til New Year's with the family."
"New firm picking itself up off the ground – not really a lot of time for week-long trips back to Ohio," Maggie says. She looks down into her glass, that sorrowed tint drifting back into her eyes as she plays with the stem. As for her part, she doesn't point out that the associates of Posner and Klein are more likely able to take week-long vacations than the associates of Wethersby, Stone, and Associates. "Besides, I don't really think I could handle being back in Ohio so soon after Scott. It was hard enough breaking the news to my parents, but…it's not something I'm interested in right now."
"So why aren't you spending it with Eli?" she asks a little too calmly, and she enjoys the way Maggie bristles at her comment.
"Eli can –" she starts, but she loses steam half-way through the comment and takes a swig of her drink, muttering into the glass once she's swallowed. She smiles and watches the snow continue to fall, growing in intensity as the night drags on. Maggie's words come back to haunt her, rolling through her mind and teasing her thoughts. A night for miracles, huh? So why isn't she going after her own?
"There's an old superstition about being with the one you love on New Year's Eve, Maggie. If you're alone, you won't have that person next New Year's," she says, and Maggie gives her a seething look. She brings her glass to her lips and offers her an innocent smile, trying not to look the role of local yenta. "Shouldn't you go get your kiss at midnight from George Michael's biggest fan?"
"He doesn't…feel the same way, Taylor," Maggie says, her grip tightening on the stem of the glass. For the first time that night, she feels truly sorry for her. She reaches out and clasps her shoulder, frowning.
"If you honestly believe that, Maggie, you really don't know him at all," she says, and the disdain in Maggie's face melts away into surprise. "Go to him."
"He doesn't…" Maggie tries, but she just shakes her head.
"He's too busy playing martyr to admit what he wants, but anyone with half a brain can see it's you," she says. Her smile softens as she gives her shoulder an affectionate squeeze. "Trust me, Maggie. Go to him."
She's reluctant, hesitant, but finally Maggie hands her her glass and turns, heading to the closet for her coat. She smiles as she watches her leave, watches her step to that ledge and just let go. She's gone within moments, and then she's turning back to the window to watch the snow fall and thinks...it would be nice to have that again. She doesn't want Eli; that's a train wreck and a half that had already upturned her life once before. But…a part of her, so small after the numerous beatings she's dealt it to shield her heart, wants it back – wants that feeling back. Loving someone so much it hurts, that it makes you act completely crazy…she wants that feeling of kissing in the rain, of –
"Taylor!" she jumps at the angered voice, spinning around as Matt snatches Maggie's half-full glass of champagne from her fingers. His face is scandalized, hurt and scared as he looks at the drink in his hand. "What were you doing?! You know you can't drink –"
"It's not mine," she says, rolling her eyes as she turns back to her window. "If you had been paying any attention to me at all tonight, you'd know that it was Maggie's. She just left to win her man back."
"…what?" he asks, face scrunching in confusion, and she sips her cider one last time before placing it on the table beside her.
"I'm going home," she says, but she stops as he grabs her wrist. "Matt!"
"Taylor, what's going on? What happened with Maggie now? And why are you –" she cuts him off, snapping her hand back to her side. His expression is troubled, worried, but she can't find it in her to care – much. She wonders if it's just the hormones, or if maybe the honeymoon period is finally coming to an end. Reality, Taylor Wethersby. Taylor Wethersby, Reality. And maybe the reality was this thing with Matt wasn't meant to work out after all.
He certainly never left an office party early just to sneak in a kiss at midnight from her. (Hell, he didn't even stay with her office when the battle lines were drawn.)
"Taylor?" he asks, drawing her attention back to him. He looks nervous, anxious, and suddenly her ire is gone and she just wants to hug him. She wants to wrap her arms around him and let him know it's ok, that she's fine, and that she's just being bitchy because of the stupid hormones. She wants him to know he has nothing to worry about, that she just doesn't want to do a PK office party. She wants to, but… "Please, Taylor. Talk to me."
"You've been ignoring me," she says, and it sounds weak – even to her. She watches his brow furrow, but all she can do is look back out the window. She doesn't even know how to comfort him anymore. A part of her wonders if she ever did to start with. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. I'm just tired, Matt. I'm tired and I feel out of place, and I feel like you're too busy playing office kiss-up to give a damn."
"Then let's go."
She's startled by that, and when she turns to face him her eyes are wide. He's completely serious, his smile reassuring and his face set, and she just can't believe him. The Dowd doesn't play like that. The Dowd never loses a chance to make appearances and impress those who need impressing. But…he takes her hand, pulling her towards the coat closet, and she realizes that Matt did. And at the realization, at seeing how quickly Matt could flip between his two personas and taking her father and Eli into consideration, she can't stop the wayward thought that wondered just how schizophrenic the men in her life truly were. The three most important men in her life, and…they were all insane, all dealing with this multiple-personality thing that seemed to present itself at the worst possible times.
"You don't have to leave just because I'm not having a good time, Matt," she says, her voice gentle as she lays a hand on his arm. He stops the search for their coats and turns his head, giving her a smile.
"Of course I do, Taylor," he says. "I want to spend New Year's Eve with you, not with a bunch of stuffy suits. Martin and Marci will understand, and if they don't…screw 'em. I'm sure they can remember a time in their lives when they had someone they loved enough to place before an office soiree."
"Mr. and Mrs. Heart of Ice? I doubt it," she snorts, and he chuckles as he grabs her red coat. He helps her into it before retrieving the black one that had been next to hers. Moments later they're out the door and he's hailing a cab, and her mind goes back to her former associate as she pulls her coat tighter about her.
"That has to be a sign that something good will happen. A night for little miracles."
A night for little miracles…
"Come on, before you get sick from the cold," Matt says, tugging her hand as he pulls her towards the cab she hadn't even noticed pull up. He settles in next to her, gives the cabbie the address to her loft, and then he lays his arm across her shoulders and tucks her into his side. She smiles despite herself, and she cuddles closer.
"So, you love me enough to put me before an office soiree?" she asks, reciting his words from earlier. He grins at her.
"I love a lot of things enough to put 'em before an office soiree," he says. "Like Taco Tuesdays at Ray's, the Superbowl, the prawn cocktail crisps at You Say Tomato, fishing trips with my dad…"
She gives him a look, and he leans in to kiss her cheek.
"And yeah, you," he says. He grins at her. "I told you, remember? I'm the girl here. I'm already in this too deep to back off without a fight. I'm just waiting for you to realize that you are, too."
"A night for little miracles."
"Maybe I am," she muses, taking his hand in her own and squeezing. She feels the way he stiffens, and her eyes glance up surreptitiously through her lashes. There's an emotion in his eyes that isn't familiar for the Dowd, but one Matt has been wearing quite a lot lately. She likes to call it hope. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you, Matt, and I know this really isn't the best time, but…I mean, a cab really isn't where I would have chosen to tell you, and it's nowhere near as romantic as a Seal concert, but…"
His lips press to hers, swallowing the words she's been trying so hard to wrap her mind around for months now.
"I love you, too, Taylor," he says, and she laughs.
"Thanks, but don't you want to actually hear it from me first?" she asks, and he shakes his head.
"No. Wait, yes. Yes! Please," he leans back, both hands grasping hers as he watches her. She compares him to an anxious puppy, eagerly awaiting its treat for a job well done. Glancing at his slightly mussed hair, she makes the comparison again and resists the urge to tousle it further.
"I love you, Matt," she finally says, and her smile is genuine as his grin splits his face. He was there first, he was right, but she was there, too. It just took her longer to realize it. "I'm sorry it's taken me this long to say it, but I mean it. I love you."
He's kissing her again, and she hears a chuckle from the front of the cab but she doesn't care. All she can focus on is Matt and how he feels against her and the excited little lurch her stomach makes as his hands caress her sides, and she thinks Maggie was right. This is a night for little miracles, and her little miracle is right here, right next to her and inside of her, and she only wishes she had realized it sooner.
She can honestly say she understands now why it's taken Maggie so long to stop beating around the bush with Eli. Thinking that, she can only hope Maggie does find him and gets her own little miracle out of the idiot tonight.
But then the cabbie pulls to a stop outside her – their – loft, and Matt's paying him and helping her outside, and she doesn't think about Maggie or Eli or anything but him the rest of the night.