A/N: Hopefully there is a little more here to chew on than the last time I posted. dancesabove, who is the reason I began this story, has my thanks for the use of her talented eyeballs.
So, she called and let him ask, in his halting way, if he might come over to her place…
The visits that followed weren't dates. Neither could, nor would, give those evenings that name.
After all, he was still married. And would be for months, no doubt, until things were figured out. But more than that, there was too much history between the new pair. Too much to allow anything between them to seem as mundane as a date.
When they were together, it was a very intentional sort of 'together.' He thought about how different it was from the days he'd spent with Linda in the past year or two. He did not want to compare. But he could not help but do it.
He was a man who had been married 19 years. Who had thought he was in love with his wife. Who had thought his wife was in love with him.
And Marcey could read the resultant unease in him as he stood there facing her in her living room.
She fixed him with something of a worried look. Although her face was gentle, all the same. "Is it just that you need to be with someone while you wait for things with the divorce to work though? It's difficult, I know..."
"No." His manner suddenly was quite sure. "It's that I want to be with you. And if that bothers you, you'll need to tell me now."
She shook her head. "Doesn't bother me."
The tension between them was working up now. Like some static charge that needed to leap out soon. She was getting a flash of a school trip from years ago. A machine in that old museum hummed, pitched higher and higher as the charge built inside it.
And here stood the pair of them. Some threshold having been just crossed, and that charge still building.
I want to be with you, Greg was plainly saying.
It's okay to want that, she was letting him know.
And still they had not touched, not really touched. Certainly had not kissed, although she wondered with keyed anticipation how his lips would feel against hers.
But she reminded herself that, as much as she wanted to finally kiss him, it was all too soon.
Linda had left only two weeks before, on the day of the funeral. But now Marcey stood playing things back, wondering whether Greg had signaled even before that he wanted there to be something more between them.
"About three weeks ago you were here and you... put your hand on my arm," she said quietly, seriously.
"And you accused me of wanting one more thing not to talk to my wife about." There was a bit of nerves in his tone suddenly – a touch of frustration– as he shifted his weight.
"Well... was it a move? You said it wasn't," she fired back quickly.
He sighed. "Not a conscious one. Oh, Marcey. It was just that... I wanted to..." He gestured helplessly, reached for her now. As lost in this moment as he'd been then.
"You wanted to touch me," she guessed.
"I wanted to hold on. To hold on to you," he tried to explain. "There are people who don't understand me. Who don't think I communicate anything at all. But you understand. At least I thought you did. That's what I thought everything we've managed together meant."
And he couldn't help but recall all those moments when she had just known what he needed: a pot of coffee put on, that glass of water that appeared on his desk. The arm that had grounded him, and shamelessly given him hope. Or the look that reminded him of what it was to have someone care.
When things had been darkest, most frantic, Marcey had had all the answers. She had given him surety. Leant him her confidence and acceptance. And now she was acting as if she hadn't noticed the way things were between them. Had he invented all of this, in his starved little middle-aged mind? he wondered.
"All of it," he added, as if hoping she could read his mind just one more time. "It did mean you understood me... didn't it?"
"Really, Greg. Don't look mystified. I'm not psychic or something. I just..."
"Wanted to help a poor nutter? Or... cared about me."
She smiled, first with broad amusement over his manner and then with the sweetness he caused in her. "I cared about you. Eventually. Yes. At first, I just... I did just want to help someone who needed me. Appreciated me."
"Oh, dear God," the words burst tensely from him. "Appreciated? You've no idea. Just no idea how much..."
"Greg?" She risked a hand to his arm then, and he stepped a little closer. Leaned closer still.
His words came as a whisper. "Why can't you believe that you are special—even if you didn't hear it... before... from him?"
She turned away for a moment, needing just a bit of distance from their conversation. "It's late."
He nodded, winced over his stupidity. "Sorry. Really... sorry." He was sure he had just botched the whole evening.
"It's all right. Just..."
"It's late," he supplied sadly.
She wanted him to know that he was not being punished. And so she smiled for him. "It really is late. And I'll see you... soon."
"Soon? How soon?" he asked quickly as she walked him out.
Marcey laughed at what she hoped was only a play at extreme insecurity.
"I like it," she admitted. "That you think I'm special."
"Yes!" It was his quiet bit of self-congratulation that she heard as the door closed behind him.
… … ...
There was a sense of deja vu four days later, when they again found themselves at her flat. She looked at his face as the evening wound down. At the questions there. And she still wanted to kiss him. But would that be the beginning of a complete disaster, or not? she paused to wonder.
It wasn't that she'd been without men in the two years since she'd been divorced. There were men in the circle of people she socialized with. Men to chat with. Men to dance with. One who had stayed the night, with the promise of no complications. They were just friends, with that common need to dispatch.
But that was not what Greg was. Not what he would ever want. She'd known him a tenth of the time she had those other blokes, she realized, yet he had drilled deeper in that time, claimed more of her...
If she kissed him—and dear God, how she wanted to—it would mean admitting she wanted that something real. Something, someone for keeps. Deep in her soul.
"It's late," she told him. An echo of that other conversation from a few nights before. But tonight she took hold of his sleeve as she whispered the words to him, and her voice was not at all steady.
What she'd said was less a statement of fact than it was her wondering how this night might end.
... ... ...