A/N: This is a collaboration work, written by two different authors. It is taken from a series of roleplays I did with a friend. She writes for Grell, I write for William. You will notice the changes in points of view, and the changes will always be marked with a horizontal line. Reviews are always appreciated, please take note of our different writing styles and if possible, leave feedback for the both of us.
-A FEW YEARS LATER-
William had many strengths to his character. He was hardworking, he was motivated, he was diligent, efficient, he was many excellent things, but he wasn't very good with names. It had taken him almost half a year to learn the names of all of his dispatch members, and even longer than that to learn the names of some of the people in the library or in General Affairs. It soon became a habit to address everyone he knew by both their first and last names. It served as a mini reminder to himself of who everyone was.
But in the past few weeks, he had quickly learned the name of one particular secretary from General Affairs: Cassandra Evans. She was new to the London division, and he had met her on the General Affairs floor when he had been turning in some paperwork related to excessive property damage and mishandling of corpses. The extra paperwork was courtesy of Grell Sutcliff, of course, and it was during one of these frequent visits to GA that she had become a regular acquaintance. Very early on, she had asked for his name and which department he worked in. William thought her overly friendly, but not excessively so. Soon after she learned where he worked however, William had never needed to go down to the GA floor, because she consistently came up to the dispatch floor to drop off papers for him or check that he needed papers to be picked up. He wasn't sure if it was a new system employed by the department, but William could admit to appreciating the convenience of it.
At first she would come once every few days, but within a couple of weeks she had made it a habit to visit every single day, at the end of the workday around 5 PM. So as it was nearing that end of the work day toll and everyone was clocking out for the day, Cassandra knocked on his office door (now this was a plus, she actually knocked and waited for him to allow her entry), and William let her in. She was holding a small stack of papers for him and smiled brightly as he opened the door for her.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Spears. I hope you had a pleasant day today. These papers are for you, do you have any that I need to take down?"
Not that particular day, no. And when William told her this, she merely smiled politely once again and gave a small nod of her head in acknowledgment. Then she began to strike up a pleasant conversation as she usually did when she came by, and William half-listened to her as he flipped through the papers she had delivered. Truth be told, sometimes she talked a little too much in William's opinion. It was reminiscent of one particular redhead, and he really did tend to tune out about half of the things that she said, but he managed to do it without being overtly rude. Perhaps it was because he had had so much practice with Grell.
"You're always working so hard, I really do admire your incredible work ethic, sir. It's of course incredibly impressive that you could be a division manager at such a young age. But still, I think it'd be good if you took a break from time to time, sir. Too much stress isn't good for you, after all. There's a great chance for you to relax at this weekend's staff party. If you were interested, I would love to see you there."
Grell's nails drummed against her desk. This earned her a few annoyed looks from the people working around her. She didn't care. Her eyes were narrowed, there was a dangerous scowl on her face, and she seemed tense where she sat, as if she were about to jump out of the chair, pull out her scythe and start a very bloody fight with someone. In fact, she dearly wished she could. She would have, if she didn't think doing so would give William a reason to throw her out of the office... permanently.
But really, just who did she think she was? This Cassandra, with her sweet words and lovely curves and low-cut blouses and wavy blonde hair and tight skirts and high heels and... It positively sickened Grell. She had been around for only a few measly weeks at most, and she already had the nerve to flirt shamelessly like that. With William. She couldn't even be half his age! Not that such a thing usually mattered when you were immortal, but still. And every day she would come prancing into the office all prettied up with some silly papers, as if William couldn't just go and get them himself like he had always done. Although granted, as long as she came up with them, Grell could at least keep a closer eye on what she was doing. And she was really, really starting to get out of line.
By this point, Grell had lost count of how many years she had spent pining after her supervisor. She knew when it had started, she could almost pinpoint the moment she had lost that futile fight against her own feelings, and while she might have been able to figure out how many years it had been since their final exam, she didn't want to. Because it was pathetic. She was pathetic. She should have either given up long ago, or just taken what she wanted. But she hadn't, just because it was William. And when it came to him, absolutely nothing made sense. And she couldn't give up, not now. But if she took what she wanted, what would happen then? What if William pushed her away? Properly, not just out the door. What if he never wanted anything to do with her again?
And yet, what if she kept waiting and suffering in silence, kept being pathetic, if someone else managed to get his attention? What if Grell wasn't what William wanted, and couldn't be, no matter how much she wished otherwise? What if it was someone like Cassandra he desired? Someone with long, natural eyelashes, dainty shoulders and pretty curves. What if.
Grell stood up, her hands shaking slightly with the anger she tried to hold back. William had his eyes on the papers in his hands, Cassandra was busy watching his face. Grell sneaked closer, and then leaned back against the wall, close enough to hear what that sorry excuse for a real lady was saying. If she had been thinking straight, she might have realised that that would not help in keeping herself from tearing the woman to bloody shreds. Because she was asking William out. She was doing what Grell hadn't dared yet, after only a few weeks of knowing him. If you could even call it knowing. It wasn't like she had been through the Academy with him or saved him or held his hand or been offered his glove to keep warm or been taken care off by him after a nasty fight or sat beside him while he was recovering from some bad wounds...
Well, Grell couldn't very well kill her in the middle of the office. But all the same, she had to do something, before she went mad, or before William gave her an answer, and what if his answer was yes, I would love to attend a party with a lady like you...
"Excuse us for a moment."
Almost before Grell knew it herself, she was at William's side, one hand tightly grabbing his arm and throwing an ice cold, murderous glare towards Cassandra, the polite words almost a hiss. And then she dragged William properly inside his office, shoving Cassandra out of the doorway she had been standing in before releasing William, slamming the door shut and leaning back against it, face slightly flushed. She didn't look up at him. She couldn't. How was she going to explain what she had just done? She had panicked, yes, but for what reason? She couldn't tell him that.
William had vaguely been listening to Cassandra's rambles, but his ears recognized the familiar invitation to a weekend staff party. He got notices for those on his desk quite frequently and he had only been to a couple, if only to have a stiff drink then leave. Parties weren't really his type of atmosphere. Too loud, too crowded, and usually full of death gods who were much too drunk. He was just about to open his mouth to decline her offer when he felt Grell Sutcliff's vice-like grip on his arm and soon he was being dragged into his office.
Grell slammed the door shut behind him, leaning against it and then finding sudden extreme interest in the floor. Honestly... what was it now? William knew that Grell had these moments of emotional instability, but they always seemed to pop up at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes Grell got the urge to just kill and see red everywhere he could so he would pick fights around the office just because. Most of the arguments were with other women in different departments, and William would usually have to stop him. There were even a few times when Grell would seem embarrassed or bashful (very rarely, mind you), and then would either lash out or run away from the office, hiding at home and refusing to come back to work. William wasn't sure which of the moods Grell was in this time, the pattern didn't fit exactly with any previous occasion. Just in case, he had his hand ready to summon his death scythe if needed.
Eyeing the redhead carefully, William put the papers on his desk and let out an exasperated sigh as he stood beside it.
"Honestly... what is it now?"
Grell had half a mind to yank the door open again, run outside, and kill that woman on the spot. Cassandra wouldn't know what had hit her, and if she were fast enough, William might not be able to stop her either. And while doing it wouldn't exactly calm her down, it would get her out of this situation. William would be too busy being furious to care about what had happened before the killing, and all that blood would be somewhat comforting...
"What were you going to tell her? About the party."
Once again, she did something without thinking, and immediately regretted the question. She didn't want to hear the answer. She shouldn't even care. But she did, and it was frustrating, and she found her hand going to the door handle. It would be a distraction. And Cassandra certainly deserved it, flirting with William like that...
She wrenched the door back open, furious eyes finding the retreating back of the blonde woman at once, smirking at how easy it would be. One arm around her neck, pinning her in place, the other one holding the death scythe. Maybe she would whisper something in her ear just before digging the blade into her skin. Grell set off, paying no attention to anyone else than her target, throwing her hand out to catch the handle of her scythe as it appeared.
Instead of receiving an answer to his question, all he got was another question. A completely off-topic question at that. What in the world did it matter what he was going to say? In any case, Grell of all people should have realized what his answer would be. William never went to these gatherings, despite their frequency, and he wasn't even sure why Grell cared if he did. Well, he supposed he would care enough to come to the party as well and spend the whole evening draping himself all over him, but aside from that, he wasn't sure why it mattered so much now. In any case, he was about to open his mouth and answer the question, however irrelevant, when Grell suddenly opened the door and left, just as quickly as they had entered.
William might have left the redhead exit alone if he didn't catch a glimpse of murder in those green eyes and looking out of his office, he saw Grell stomping down the hallway, death scythe in hand.
Summoning his death scythe, William ran to catch up with the redhead and upon reaching him, grasped his arm very, VERY firmly. Turning the redhead sharply around, he looked at him sternly and began to scold him with his glare alone. It had been a few months since Grell's last outburst, and he had been more than enjoying the peace. Whatever he was upset about, whatever had irked him, he would have to find another outlet for those frustrations instead of taking his saw to whomever he could find.
Grell's thoughts were abruptly cut off as someone caught up to her, catching her off guard and grabbing her arm. It could only be William. She could tell even before he forced her around so quickly she stumbled, and she knew it was useless to attempt and wrench herself out of his grip, even though she tried. And as she really had no choice but to meet those cold eyes, she tried to make her own defiant and angry, grip tightening around her death scythe. And at that one word, Grell wanted nothing but to run again. But she couldn't, not this time. William wasn't going to let her leave, not when she had just tried to kill someone. And she didn't have enough sense to get rid of her scythe either, something that might have helped her escape.
She was all too aware of the stares they were getting. Because once again, Grell Sutcliff was there to provide a break in the office workers' mundane schedules, and while she usually didn't mind making a scene, this time she could feel her act slipping, and she didn't want anyone seeing that. She wouldn't allow it. Except maybe William. There was a small, nagging thought in her head saying that maybe he wouldn't dislike her because of it. He hadn't done when he had seen her without makeup or covered in mud. And his office was the closest escape. And yet, that didn't make it any less scary. Once she was back in there, what was she going to say? Just the thought of being honest, completely honest...
Perhaps it was visible in her her eyes, how terrified she suddenly was. But relaxing just a bit in William's grip, she lowered her gaze a little, enough for him to notice but hopefully no one else, hoping he would somehow save at least a bit of her pride by insisting she followed him back into his office.
At least this time Grell actually stopped his rampage instead of then turning his rage onto William, which happened sometimes. His staff had gotten somewhat used to the outbursts, many of them didn't even bother looking in their direction but instead just kept on going about their business and doing their paperwork as usual. And thankfully, today wasn't one of those days where he would have to fill out extra paperwork for destruction of company property. One time when Grell had had an outburst, several desks had been destroyed by that chain scythe before William could finally pin him down into submission.
But he caught a glimpse of something in Grell's eyes before he lowered that gaze. He wasn't sure what it was. Penance, perhaps? But that seemed too good to be true. Seizing the chance while Grell was calm, William dragged him into his office, locking the door behind them and seating him on the chair somewhat roughly. Not putting his death scythe away but leaning it carefully against his desk, William sat down in the chair across from him and folded his hands together on the desk.
"What is it now?"
Sometimes, Grell would talk to him about why he was upset. Not a lot, it was really only ever snippets, but snippets were better than nothing. William was trying, he was actually trying, to understand what in Grell's psyche made him go off like that every so often. So far, he had been rather unsuccessful at deciphering the exact reasons, he wasn't sure if he ever could, in all honesty. But he felt that it was worth trying sometimes.
So far in their years together, William had learned of Grell's strange obsession with the color red. Who knew why, really, but it partially explained some of his murderous tendencies. He had learned, well, he had always known that Grell wasn't particularly emotionally stable. But truth be told, none of them really were. Grell was just more far gone than most. Most interestingly, he had learned of Grell's desire to be a woman. He knew the least about this particular nuance of Grell's character for the redhead didn't like talking about it much. But in addition to his flamboyant behavior, his clothes, his manner of speech, there was one time when Grell had mentioned in all seriousness that his body had been a mistake made by some cruel God to torment him. They had been on assignment reaping a young woman and Grell had mentioned her appearance, her curves, her lashes, her dainty shoulders, and William had wondered briefly if perhaps Grell was attracted to her. But as it turned out, he had only been envious of what he felt should have been his.
It was something William couldn't understand. Perhaps he was old-fashioned, perhaps he just wasn't as open-minded. But he couldn't understand how someone could feel like they lacked what they never had. He didn't understand how Grell could believe that he was meant to be a woman, that he was a woman inside despite how his body was shaped. How could someone think that they were meant to be something they had never been? How would you know what you were missing, how could you be so uncomfortable with what you had always had? William hadn't really taken the time to try and wrap his head around the concept, mostly because he couldn't get Grell to talk about it. He wasn't even sure if he could even if he tried.
He wondered if that had been the case today because Cassandra had dropped by.
Grell allowed herself a moment of relief as William did pull her along instead of leaving her standing. It was a very short moment though, and she soon felt herself trembling again, and this time it was not out of anger. She almost jumped as the door closed, and was then locked, and William nearly forced her down into the chair in front of his desk, to then walk around it and sit down while being all business, like this was just another one of those times when he brought her into the office for a scolding about some bloody case that had caused too much paperwork...
Oh god, she really hated feeling scared. It was an uncontrollable feeling that tended to only get worse if you thought about it. She didn't get scared a lot, which probably only made it worse the few times it happened. But this seemed like another kind of fear than what she had experienced before. Because there were no threat of dangerous fights with some strong creatures, and no one was badly hurt, it was just her and William and words that had to be said. And Grell couldn't. She didn't know how, and she was scared of what would happen if she started talking.
In the end, as she felt those damn tears threatening to spill over again, she dropped her death scythe to the floor and leaned forward to rest her head against the desk and hiding her face, almost wailing. It wasn't like her, being defeated by something so sentimental and cliché as love. And she had tried to deny it for so long, but then after that one time she had spent with William in the infirmary after he had been injured, watching his peaceful face as he slept, feeling the warmth of his hand in hers... She had just been sitting there, completely still until a nurse had approached and tentatively asked her is she was asleep. And she had looked up, feeling confused and disoriented, not realizing then that she had just lost a battle that had been going on since her final exam. Not until she got home did she realize that no matter what she did, she couldn't stop thinking about William and all those what ifs... that was when she started to realize what was going on. She hadn't been to work the day after that, and once William came to find out why, it had only gotten worse. It had taken her a week before she could function and act somewhat normal around him at all. And now... she was probably going to throw away all those years of effort. Because somehow, she couldn't stand it anymore. Somehow, Cassandra, the thought of competition she just wouldn't be able to win against, all of it now made it unbearable. And so, she gave up. She stopped struggling and allowed it to happen. Raising her head slightly from the desk, she locked eyes with William, her own still scared and slightly shiny.
"I'll show you."
She still couldn't get the actual words past her lips. She stood, slowly, eyes downcast and head bowed so that her hair hid most of her face. Stepping over her scythe, she moved around the desk in a way she hoped clearly showed she wasn't going to pick a fight. If William interrupted her now, she would definitely run. And once she was close enough, she sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. Then, quick enough for William to hopefully not be able to pull away, she leaned down and pressed her lips to his.
William was shocked. He had seen Grell upset. He had seen him as an enraged, murderous, dangerous creature with a scythe. But he had never seen Grell as this kind of upset. He had never seen those green eyes well up with tears instead of irritation, and he had never seen him so hopelessly drop his scythe as opposed to gripping it more tightly only to charge soon thereafter. None of this was usual, and it was all wrong. William expected anger, madness, blood. He knew how to handle those outbursts. He knew that the perfect counter to fury was calm and he knew how to counter every blow and swinging thrust from that scythe. He knew what to do to calm Grell's madness.
He had absolutely no idea what to do with tears. William himself couldn't remember that he had ever cried. It had been decades if he had. He couldn't remember what most strong emotions felt like, he wasn't even sure if he had even experienced them all. He didn't know what sadness felt like, or hopelessness, or extreme joy, or even anger. Certainly he got irritated. He was irritated every time Grell Sutcliff entered his office without knocking. He was irritated every time pesky demons got in the way of his work. He was irritated to death of being overworked and underpaid and the overtime that came with the bureaucratic nonsense he had to deal with every day as management, but any emotion outside of that was a complete and utter mystery.
He saw Grell weeping before him on his desk, his back hunched over and his face hidden in his hands and William felt a tug of sympathy. He hadn't felt that since they had to reap Thomas' soul and he had been forced to witness the painful struggle of human life. But he wasn't sure what he could say. He didn't even know why Grell was so upset.
But then as Grell got up and moved around his desk, and William watched him carefully, for some reason he sat still. Somehow he knew that Grell wasn't going to hurt him. His death scythe was halfway across the office on the floor, abandoned, and nothing in his posture or movements indicated any form of approaching hostility or promise of death. But then when Grell put his lips on his own...
William moved on impulse. He grabbed Grell's shoulders and immediately pushed him away, his eyes wide and his breath coming in panicked gasps. He felt his heart racing at a million miles a minute. And he understood none of it. He was confused, he was scared, he was all but about to go insane, he didn't know what any of it meant. He had never felt panic like this, even in the most difficult of fights with demons where his life was in danger. He had never felt such confusion, even as that time when he had been attacked by Thomas' cinematic record. And looking into Grell's sorrowful green eyes, he couldn't understand anything that he saw there. He never had. But it wasn't anger, it wasn't envy, and it wasn't all sadness.
And all William knew with any certainty was that he needed to get away from that moment, that situation. His office was stifling, Grell's body was much too close, his own racing heart he wanted to pull out of his chest and toss it out the window. Letting go of Grell's shoulders, he stood up abruptly and left without looking back. He managed to mumble a quick,
before he was out of the door, never mind that it was his office and that Grell was the one he should have ordered to leave. Walking swiftly down the halls, his own shoes clacking loudly, too loudly, on the tile floors, he rushed into a nearby men's lavatory and bent his head over the sink, trying to calm his breathing. Once his heart stopped racing, he felt sure he could rationalize things, as he always did. He just needed to calm down. He just needed to... not see red.
Grell felt very aware of everything that happened, every little detail. She had closed her eyes once she had found his lips at last, after so many, many years of wanting to do just that. And while it wasn't even much of a kiss, it was still perfect, for one wonderful little moment. And then once she felt William's hands on her shoulders, for one second, she somehow dared to hope it was to pull her closer, to accept her.
But then she was pushed away. She opened her eyes again, looking up at William, and for a moment, she couldn't comprehend what was happening. Maybe she didn't want to. Slowly, at least it felt like that to her, she became aware of the painful way her heart seemed to be trying to beat its way out of her chest, the irregular, panicked way she was breathing in. And she couldn't figure out what William's expression meant, too caught up in her own confused emotions to be able to. Something hurt, and it was unlike any pain she had ever felt before. A kind of tearing threatening to rip her apart, and while she didn't scream or writhe in agony, she found herself wishing it could have been that demon and its claws again. And she swayed where she stood as she realised what was happening. William had rejected her. He didn't want her, after all. Of course not.
William was leaving.
As soon as the door closed, Grell fell to the floor, wrapped her arms around herself and cried like she had never cried before. It wasn't like she had never felt sad in her life, about herself, how she sometimes felt all wrong and insecure and not all that beautiful. Sometimes she had felt sad about William too. It had been many, many years she had been trying to get his attention, after all. But nothing had felt like this. And all those years, wasted. Maybe it wasn't all that long for an immortal, but it had been a long fight for Grell.
She knew she couldn't stay there. She wasn't going to keep doing this. She couldn't do that, not to herself, and not to William. Slowly, she fought her way to her feet, digging one hand into her pocket and taking out a small mirror. Any other day, the face staring back at her from it would have upset her, but now she just raised a hand and wiped the black lines off her face with the coat, removing the fake eyelashes that were coming off due to the tears. She looked hideous. It wasn't all that odd that William didn't want her, was it? Another sob escaped her then, and she shook her head. Her. Even that was wrong, wasn't it? And as much as she tried, she couldn't fix that.
Holding her breath to try and stop the tears, it still took her a while to calm down enough to dare leave the room. Paying no thought to her abandoned scythe, she left in a hurry, desperately fighting to keep her face empty of emotions and seemingly very interested in the floor in hopes of that no one would notice the messy makeup. And once she finally reached her apartment, she quickly closed the door and leaned back against it, closing her eyes and immediately feeling more tears fall down her cheeks.
Moving forward, eyes darting around the room as if looking for some kind of escape, as if there was something that could have saved her from her own feelings, she eventually just stumbled out of her heels and struggled to get her clothes off. Then wrapping herself in a soft, red dressing gown, she fell down on top of the bed, wishing sleep would come quickly, though she highly doubted it. After all, there was the fear of her dreams maybe being about William.
It had been five days. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of Grell Sutcliff in the office. He hadn't called in sick, he hadn't requested vacation leave, he had just... not shown up. If anyone dared ask William Spears about it, they were given immediate, unexplained overtime, a generous portion of Grell's work that needed to be reassigned, and then thrown out of his office.
For William, the past five days had been... unbearably quiet. The daily interruptions into his office had ceased, he could peacefully do his work without interruption. The only problem was that he couldn't work. He couldn't focus. For the past five days he had barely slept, he had lost all of his appetite, and try as he might to not think about the redhead, Grell was the only thing consistently pervading his thoughts. The calm he had sought out five nights ago had been impossible. Even if he had managed to stop his panicked breathing and wide-eyed look of terror by now, he was still terribly, horribly confused.
Looking at the clock and seeing that it was time to leave but knowing that he had barely dented his paperwork, he resigned himself to another day of overtime, and very likely, another sleepless night. But not before he took a break of some sort. Leaving his stifling, stuffy office, he went to grab a drink from the nearby water fountain, ruffling his hair somewhat so that his bangs fell forward into his face instead of being tucked back. It was after hours and he needed to be just himself in order to think properly. He needed to not be William T. Spears, supervisor of the London division of reapers, he just needed to be William. Heaving heavy sighs from his chest, he returned to his office to see the stacks of paperwork, his empty chair... the chair that Grell had... kissed him in.
He could feel the choking feeling rising to his throat even as he thought about that night. The feeling of their lips touching, the softness, the warmth, the smell of roses... even though it had only lasted a moment, even though he had pushed him away almost immediately, that moment had been so vivid, William couldn't erase it from his mind. More than the kiss, the look that Grell had given him before and after doing it... the expression in those green eyes. It made William feel a tight, constricting pain in his chest and he didn't know what to do with it. All he knew was that it was Grell's fault. And that for some reason, not seeing him for five days had only made it worse, not better. He had expected it to subside, to go away if Grell wasn't there. He thought that once his initial panic had subsided that he could return to some semblance of normalcy and that they could just pretend that it had never happened. It was just more of Grell's excessive flirting, it was just a moment in time, nothing more.
He had had enough. Decades of games, teases, subtle and not-so-subtle hints, flirts, glances, touches, no more. One way or another, he was going to get a straight answer from the redhead. It was clear he couldn't get through this on his own without some explanation.
Charging into the records department, he quickly looked up Grell's address from his personnel file, and left the office, his overtime paperwork forgotten. Grell only lived a few blocks away from him, and once he got to his damned door in his damned apartment, William banged on the door three firm knocks.
Grell was a wreck. For five days, she had hardly eaten, slept only once she more or less fainted from exhaustion, only to then wake up again an hour or so later, head pounding from both the lack of sleep and odd dreams where she would for ages walk through the endless, empty white corridors of her workplace, looking for someone she could never find. She hadn't bothered with makeup, knowing she would end up crying and ruin it anyway, and while she had made the effort to take a brush to her hair once or twice, it was still far from the soft, well-tended but deliberately messy way she usually wore it in. It was now completely unstyled, hanging slightly tangled all over her shoulders and back. Neither had she bothered getting dressed, instead spending her days in one of her red nightgowns with the soft dressing gown on top of it. Not even her nails were painted, since once the colour had started coming off, she had just gotten rid of it all entirely.
She had been trying really hard not to think about William, and had not been particularly successful. It was just like that time she had spent with him in the infirmary, only much, much worse, because it hurt so much more this time. She was, however, trying to convince herself that it would get better, that she wasn't going to stay in this apartment forever. She would be going back to work eventually. Once she could sleep properly again, and once she didn't spent the majority of the day crying. She still wasn't going to let anyone see her like that.
As she heard the knocks on the door, she was on the bed, in one of those rare, blissful moments of sleep where she didn't have to think at all, even though she would wake up and feel just as bad as when she had first collapsed on the bed. But she wasn't about to do that yet, and instead she just whined at the annoying sound, turning around and burying her head in the red blankets that she hadn't even bothered to pull over herself. And it completely escaped her mind that five days ago, when she had arrived at her home after the horrible rejection, she had never bothered to lock the door.
He knocked three times to no answer. Then he knocked three more times to still no answer. Another three knocks and he was starting to get impatient. A normal person might have given up by now, but William was sure that Grell was inside and he was not leaving until he got what he wanted out of the redhead. Trying his luck on the door knob, he found that it opened with no resistance. Grell had left it unlocked. Whether on purpose or not he wasn't sure, but he stepped into the apartment, and took a moment to look around his surroundings. The apartment was, unsurprisingly, flooded with red. And on top of that, it was a complete mess. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that Grell had been home for five days without going to work, but really... his work clothes were strewn across the floor and on the couch, several crumpled tissues littered the carpet... From a room around the corner from the kitchen he heard a shuffling noise. It sounded like someone on a bed, and he knew that Grell would be in there.
Now that he was inside the apartment, all William had to do was walk less than twenty feet in that direction and he would be face to face with the redhead once again and could get all the answers he needed. But now... he found himself hesitating once again. And he never hesitated. He wasn't the type of man to be so uncertain, but there it was. He was always uncertain when it came to Grell. It really couldn't be helped.
For the first time in his life, he felt nervous and unsure and... guilty. For the first time in five days he considered the fact that Grell hadn't come in to work because he was perhaps just as confused and frustrated as he had been. That maybe he hadn't been playing hooky just because he was lazy, but because he was distraught as well. Sighing heavily, he forced his feet to move and walked into Grell's bedroom, where the light was peeking in slightly from the sheer red curtains, and he found a mass of red hair buried between red blankets and pillows on the bed. Grell wasn't even covered in the blankets, he was just lying on top of them with his face buried in them, wearing a long red night gown. Honestly... he wasn't even sleeping properly.
Grell didn't seem to have noticed William's presence in his room, standing over him beside the bed, so William cleared his throat to get the redhead's attention. As he stood there, in another moment he noticed a few more troubling things and sighed. He was under the impression that both of them had been severely sleep deprived and malnourished these past five days. Grell looked as though he had lost some weight even. William knew that when he looked in the mirror in the past few mornings he could see bags under his own eyes. Honestly...
Grell whined again, turning her head slightly and groaning as the light from behind the curtains hit her face, not really asleep anymore but not fully awake either. It would usually take her a while, and not until the suffocating pain in her chest and pounding headache had fully returned, accompanied by the now very familiar sting of tears in her eyes, would she be somewhat awake. Enough to think about William again, and enough to remember those distressing, pointless dreams. Enough to just want to go back to sleep, but also knowing she wouldn't be able to.
And once she opened her eyes, they were already tearing up, and as always she found herself wondering how it was even possible to cry so much as she had done lately. She certainly had never done it before. And as she raised a hand to her face to get rid of the tears, she suddenly froze, noticing the odd shadow falling across the bed. Her vision was somewhat blurry without glasses, which she hadn't bothered to put on for a few days either, after realising she had picked them out along with William all those years ago, but she knew at once it was a person standing by her bed. As if that wasn't enough to scare her half to death, that she immediately knew just who it was didn't help at all.
What should have come out as a scream was more of a broken, distressed wailing, and she fought to get her tired, shocked body to move, head spinning as she sat up too fast. Pulling the blankets up around her and clutching at them as if they could somehow protect her, her wide, bewildered eyes never left William's face, a thousand thoughts flying through her head at once and doing nothing to improve her headache. What was he doing here? Why was he here? What did he want? Why couldn't he leave her alone? If she should ever have any chance or recovering, he would have to stay away... But oh, how glad she was to see him again. Even though it hurt, even though she felt terrified, even though her own reactions still appalled her...
And Grell was not thinking straight, if at all. If she had ever been even a bit sane to begin with, there was no trace of that left now, not after five days of being all alone and driving herself mad with the tears and despairing and without proper sleep and food. And just as her instincts had told her to pull away and take cover when she first noticed him suddenly just standing there, she just acted without thinking once again, not caring about the consequences and about what would happen if William pushed her away again.
Letting go of the blankets, she nearly threw herself across the bed, back to the edge by which William was standing, and reached up to grab his blazer, trying to pull him closer. Entwining her fingers into his clothes, she then buried her face in them as well, craving the warmth and the contact, and not caring one bit how pathetic or childish it may seem.
At first, Grell seemed as though all he wanted to do was run and hide, like William had done. He looked at him with fear in those swollen green eyes, clutching his blankets like they were a lifeline, and William felt a pang of sympathy once again. Whatever trouble he thought that he had had these past five days was clearly nothing to what Grell had been putting himself through. But before he could open his mouth to speak and give Grell a piece of his mind as he had intended, the redhead flew towards him across the bed, grabbing his blazer and burying his face against them. He could feel the weakness in Grell's fingers as he clutched at them, could feel moisture seeping through his vest.
William put his hands on Grell's shoulders, repeating his actions of five days ago, thinking that he should push the redhead away again if they were going to speak properly. But once his hands grabbed hold of that delicate frame, felt how he could have crushed it, Grell had become so tired and worn, he couldn't bring himself to. Logic argued that he should push him away. That he needed to speak with Grell properly in order to get anything resolved. That if they held onto each other it would only be more confusing and difficult.
But another part of his mind, a part he was unfamiliar with, a part that he had never known to exist until recently spoke out against it with every fiber of its being, telling William that it wasn't just Grell, William needed the contact too after what he had been through.
Letting out another sigh, William began to speak, Grell's face still pressed against him and his hands on Grell's shoulders keeping the redhead steady.
"You owe me an explanation."
His grip on Grell's shoulders began to tighten.
"Explain to me what sorcery you used to do this to me. I can't think properly, I can't focus at work, and I feel- Well that's just it, I don't know what I feel. I'm not used to feeling so much. But for the past five days I think I've been unbelievably angry at you for a myriad of petty, stupid reasons and that I never want to see you again, but then every time I blink I see your face and this stupid red hair and your ridiculous grin. I can't sleep because I hear your voice in my ear telling me your usual teases and flirts that were never supposed to mean anything. And I'm... frustrated and tired and all I want is a straight explanation from you. Honesty. I just want you to be straight with me. And then I need you to explain to me what it is that's going on inside of me that feels like a crushing weight is in my chest whenever I think about you."
It was five days ago all over again, and this time, Grell had no hopes. She was resigned to the fact that William would push her away, sending her even deeper into misery. But knowing it still didn't make it hurt any less.
But then there was a sigh, and those hands didn't disappear, the grip instead turning almost supportive, and then even tightening as William began to speak. Grell didn't understand, and while she deep down knew it would only be even worse once he let go if she stayed where she was, she couldn't move. She could only listen, making the effort of silencing her own sobbing, though the tears kept coming, even more as she heard just what was being said. And she could hardly believe it, even finding herself wondering if she was still dreaming. But the tears and the pain and this warmth proved she wasn't.
William's words were everything she had felt and everything she could never quite put into words. But she still thought she knew what it was, what it meant, even though the fact that William was standing here saying them, about himself, almost made her think that maybe they had another meaning entirely. And yet, she knew one thing clearly, that she loved William and had no means of fighting it anymore. But he couldn't possibly be telling her he felt the same. He had always pushed her away, and five days ago, he had...
Well, he did seem to get flustered occasionally by her advances. And he was saying he had never thought those meant anything, when they had meant everything, because it was the only way Grell knew how to get that kind of attention. She could talk, she could rant and gossip forever without anyone being able to stop her, but speaking about herself and her own feelings, that was hard. Besides, she had never been in love before. She didn't actually know how you told someone such a thing, and since she hadn't even wanted to be in love in the first place... There were those three words that people in romantic books and movies and plays always used, but they seemed so overused, but at the same time so intense and final that it was scary. And while Grell knew she did love William, knew she wanted him, commitment scared her. She knew how easily she could get bored, and while all the years she had already liked him told her she wouldn't let him go if she could get him, Grell still needed a certain freedom.
But William was demanding an explanation, an honest one, and she couldn't think of anything more straightforward than those words. And so she forced her unused voice to work, mumbling against his clothes without letting go or looking up, and still crying, angry at herself for daring to hope again, and angry at William for giving her that hope.
"I love you. Ever since that damn exam, though I didn't realise it until you were hurt. I didn't want to, because I... I couldn't control it, it just happened, but I couldn't stop either. And all that, that you just said, I... know exactly how it feels. I can't stop thinking about you either. And it hurts. It always hurts, but not so much... when you're around."
Even before Grell started speaking, William felt as though he knew what the redhead was going to say. But even if he was half-expecting, he still didn't know how he would have responded. All he knew was that that knotted feeling in his chest wasn't going away, but it was getting... warmer. It was still... heavy, but all of a sudden it was so much more manageable. And somehow... William felt the smallest traces of a smile beginning to curve his lips, though he didn't let it get very far.
Perhaps what surprised him more than anything else was the fact that he actually managed to get Grell to be straight-forward with him. He had asked for the truth and Grell let it all out, showed all his cards, so to speak. And William knew that that took a certain level of trust. And all of a sudden there was nothing but relief. All the tension that he had been holding in for the past week was released in a moment and suddenly he felt all the things he hadn't been able to feel for the past week. He felt tired, he felt hungry, but more than that he felt... happy. And William couldn't remember the last time he had felt anything like happiness. And he didn't really know why or how. But Grell's words had truly calmed him.
With his hands still on Grell's shoulders, he pulled the redhead gently away from him to lay him back down on the bed. They both desperately needed sleep, that was for sure. And now that that was all settled and William could feel his limbs growing heavy with exhaustion, he knew that it would finally be time for them to get some much needed rest. Removing his blazer, vest, and tie, he crawled into the bed besides Grell, not even bothering to ask. Grell had intruded on him and his personal space for decades. The least he could do was offer half of the giant bed so that William could get some much needed shut-eye.
Wrapping one arm around Grell's waist so that their bodies were embracing in the bed, William quickly fell asleep, thinking that the shared warmth was incredible, natural, and that it was something he could get used to very quickly.
Grell kept crying as William did push her away after all, and while she wasn't surprised, and despite that for some reason, his hands stayed on her shoulders, she still gave him a frightened, despairing look. She was so scared of what would happen and what she would feel once he left that for a moment, she couldn't think of anything else.
Then there was slight confusion, as his hands pushed her back down on the bed, and she allowed it, failing to see a reason to protest, and lacking the energy to do it in the first place. And it felt nice, almost as if William was trying to take care of her. And she really needed to stop thinking about things like that... Shaking her head at her own thoughts, her eyes then went wide at the soft sound of clothes being removed, and she looked up in time to see William drop his waistcoat and tie to the floor. And once he moved into the bed, even crawling up to her, she was still staring, and almost looking scared again. He was so close, and while Grell was no stranger to being close to William, she would usually be the one taking the initiative.
She made a small, startled sound as William put an arm around her waist and pulled himself even closer. And then he just closed his eyes, seemingly falling asleep, and while Grell still craved the contact and the warmth, it just seemed too good to be true. She could almost imagine William disappearing if she blinked, but when she tried, it didn't happen, and she was so happy about that it was almost overwhelming. She couldn't make sense of it, and in the end it only made her exhausted head hurt even more. In the end, she closed her eyes and tried to not think too much, and while it was hard, she soon drifted off to sleep anyway.
For once, she didn't dream at all. But she didn't get much sleep either. As the hours went by, she would wake up again and again, eyes immediately wide open and desperately seeking William's face, every time terrified that he would be gone. And no matter how many times she would open her eyes and still find him there, she would be just as scared the next time she woke up. And as the light on the other side of the curtains grew stronger and stronger, until the morning sun peeked through and lit up William's face, Grell felt more and more exhausted every time she woke up. Not to mention she was starving. But she didn't dare to move even an inch. What if William would just leave the moment he woke up? What if he had just decided to sleep in her bed because he was so tired he couldn't be bothered to return to his apartment? Really, that was a ridiculous thing to do, especially for him, but he had blamed her for not getting any sleep.