“Will, you know I want to believe you, but this is just a little hard to swallow with everything you’ve been doing lately.”
“Sonny, I’m telling you. Paul and I talked everything out. That’s why they agreed to go to dinner with us, to bury the hatchet.”
“If you say so, Will,” Sonny sighed, resigned to a stressful evening.
They had planned to meet at the pub for a late dinner with Paul and Derrick. Will picked his usual table in the corner, next to the bar. They decided it would be less weird if they sat on one side. Rather, Sonny decided there was less of a chance of Will ‘getting upset’ if Paul sat next to him. They ended up with their backs to the door while they awaited their dinner guests.
If Will was being honest with himself, he didn’t have purely altruistic motives. He wanted to see what would happen if he tried to make friends with Derrick and Paul. If Will really was wrong about Paul and he really wasn’t the type to scheme and back stab then he would never try to ruin a friend’s marriage. All Will needed to do is make sure he rekindled the friendship he initially rejected by lashing out at Paul and his mother.
He knew that he wasn’t exactly winning points with Sonny for his abrupt about face but he realized that he was losing even more with his lying and scheming. Besides, he was trying to be a friend to them, it’s not like he was hacking into their cellphones and personal computers to see if they were up to any-- no. No he wasn’t going to go there. Friendly. He had to be friendly.
“Will, why are you doing all of this? Making amends with Paul, checking to see if he’s dating anyone, inviting him and Derrick out to dinner, I mean, you even asked T to cover my shift to make sure I could be here. What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Will exclaimed. “Nothing is going on. I just, I realized something lately and it’s made me change how I see things, that’s all. I realized that if I kept acting the way that I was, I would lose you and since that’s the last thing in the world that I want, I decided to see if Paul would let bygones be bygones. That’s it, I swear. I’m just, trying to be friendly.”
Will watched Sonny warily as he shifted in his seat. It was apparent that once again, his husband didn’t believe him. Will couldn’t blame him either. He had lied and broken Sonny’s trust so many times in the last eight months that he felt he didn’t even have the right to be angry about it. So even though he was furious at all the times he was called out on his lies and his secrets while Sonny managed to make his look harmless, he pushed it down. Bottled it up.
“I just don’t understand, Will. Why were you so desperate to save our marriage?” Sonny just kept asking that question. Like he couldn’t possibly understand. Like he was upset with Will for having fought so hard to keep him. Will finally snapped.
“Why weren’t you,” Will finally snapped back, his voice raising enough that people shot them curious glances. “You keep talking about how you don’t understand why I did what I did. You seem to forget that you used to be willing to break laws for me. You used to be willing to kill for us. To steal a gun and then fire it. How can I be so desperate to save our marriage, Sonny? How can you not? How can you just sweep everything off to the side and just choose not to fight for us? I’ve been going crazy! I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I’m going to couple’s counseling even though that scares me. I’m going to a personal psychiatrist even though the thought alone makes me physically ill. I’m going out and I’m breaking laws, I’m destroying my relationships with other people. I’m doing things that could get me thrown in prison, Sonny. Because that’s what we did when we loved each other. So when? When did you stop?”
While he had retained his composure for the incriminating parts of his speech Will had definitely shouted by the end. He glared at Sonny who sat motionless in controlled shock and fury at his side. The restaurant was still for a moment before it crept back into motion. Sonny’s face was drawn tight and his jaw was clenched. Panic and fear filled Will and he held up both hands.
“Sonny, I’m sorry. Of course that’s not true. I just-”
“Hey guys,” Derrick interrupted. “Sorry we’re a little late.”
The husbands, and God how that hurt to think about now, turned to see Paul and Derrick stood behind them. The obviously uncomfortable air said that they had heard at least some of Will’s rant. Will felt like digging a hole and never climbing out. Sonny made small talk with Derrick and Paul as they circled the table and took their seats. Will had only listened idly and was therefore surprised when Derrick took the seat in front of Sonny. Paul, now forced to sit across from Will, was strangely silent.
To say the rest of their dinner date was awkward would have been a big understatement. Every time that Derrick had asked about Will’s job and seemed interested in his response, Paul leaned forward and if he knew the answer he would answer first. It had surprised Will, how much Paul remembered from their conversations in his hotel room. Paul had also, apparently bought the magazine with Clyde’s article and tried to discuss it with them all.
Sonny, however, immediately shut down every conversation that had centered on Will’s job and glanced at Paul with a hard, closed off expression that would have given Will hope if it hadn’t also shifted to him shortly afterward. Derrick got the hint soon enough and he stopped bringing up Will’s career. Unfortunately, Paul was now sitting ramrod straight in his chair, and was seemingly finding great joy in bringing up all of Will’s accolades wherever it was natural for him to talk about them.
Will found his spine straightening over the course of their dinner, and though his face burned with embarrassment, he kept his head held high and steered the conversation back to Sonny each time. When dinner had wound down, Derrick leaned back in his chair and slung an arm around Paul.
“So should we get out of here? Maybe grab a nightcap?” The euphemism was obvious enough that Sonny looked uncomfortable.
“Oh, I thought the two of you were just friends,” Sonny asked hesitantly.
“Oh we are. We are very, very close friends,” Derrick answered with a smirk.
“But only just friends,” Paul interjected quickly. He shrugged Derrick’s hand off his shoulder and glanced at Will before he ate the last of his dessert.
“Uh, yeah,” Derrick said, seemingly confused. “We’re not dating.”
“Oh, so you’re just sleeping together,” Will asked a little sharper than he intended.
“Will,” Sonny snapped as he shot him a glare.
“Sorry,” Will soothed. “It’s none of my business.”
“No,” Paul stated firmly. His eyes locked on Will’s and didn’t waiver. “It’s fine.”
Will swallowed and forced himself to drink some water to clear the lump in his throat. Of course, then he almost choked when he felt Paul’s foot pressed against his ankle under the table. His eyes shot up to find Paul had never looked away. Will stared back as he tried to decipher the message in those beautiful eyes.
“But, anyway,” Derrick interjected, his voice sounding odd. Will’s gaze jerked to him and caught him as he stared between the other three awkwardly. “How’s the club been doing, Sonny?”
“It’s doing better than it has the last couple of months but it’s still not where it used to be. I’m hoping I can get it back up to where it used to be by the end of next month,” Sonny answered uneasily.
Will tried to ignore that Sonny’s eyes were locked on his mostly empty plate. It was made infinitely easier when Paul hooked his foot around Will’s ankle and drug it forward. Paul’s eyes slid down Will’s face, lingered on his lips for a moment and then slid down his neck to the exposed skin at his collar bone. Will felt it like a physical touch and closed his eyes for a moment as goosebumps broke out over his skin. Will looked over at Sonny and kept his gaze there. He pulled his foot away and saw from the corner of his eye that Paul leaned back in his chair and glanced at Derrick casually and then promptly dismissed him.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it, Sonny. You’ve always been capable of turning things to your advantage for as long as I’ve known you. This club thing should be no problem for you. Of course if there’s anything we can do, we’d be happy to help.”
Paul’s easy charm raked over Will’s nerves and he reached out to grasp Sonny’s hand like a lifeline. Paul’s smile widened.
“Thanks,” Sonny’s voice was strangely hard and his gaze pierced through Paul like he was paper and he intertwined his fingers with Will’s. “I think I’ll be set. As long as you or anyone else don’t suddenly start going to Victor’s club instead I’m sure it’ll all work out. You don’t mind showing up there every once and a while do you? You always seemed to like the place. It wouldn’t do for you to ditch it for the newer club.”
“Of course,” Derrick jumped in. “I’ll swing by too. We’ll see if we can’t drag some friends with us too. Get the place really packed.”
“Sounds good,” Sonny smiled thinly and stood. “Why don’t I go grab our check and we can head out.”
“Oh, no let me,” Derrick followed after him. “It’s not right if you pay for the whole meal. At least let me pay for our portion.”
Left alone, Paul and Will had no choice but to finally look to one another again. Paul licked his lips and Will tracked the motion before he could stop himself.
“I’m sorry,” Paul was saying. When had he started talking? Will couldn’t remember. “Derrick. I’m sorry about Derrick. He’s just messing around. I haven’t- We haven’t slept together. At all.”
“Well, you should,” Will said hurriedly. “He’s really into you, and even if you don’t really want to date right now, he seems like he’d go for the casual thing.”
“I don’t really do much of the casual sex nowadays. I outgrew it.”
Will fought the urge to shift in his chair and drank more water to keep himself busy.
“Listen,” Paul finally continued after hefting a sigh. “I think we should get together and talk sometime. Just you and me. I think you were right about us having to clear the air and- Well, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. Something I’ve needed to talk to you about for a while now but I didn’t think you’d be interested in hearing it.”
“And now,” Will asked softly while his eyes roamed Paul’s face.
“Now, I’m pretty sure you need to.”
“All right,” Sonny said abruptly, suddenly at Will’s side holding out a hand to him. “We’re all set. We should do this again sometime.”
“Yeah,” Paul stammered immediately while he stood.
“I’ll call you,” Sonny replied quickly never so much as looking at him. “I already said goodbye to Derrick for us. We should get back and relieve the sitter.”
“Oh,” Will stumbled getting out of his chair, even with his hold on Sonny’s hand. His legs trembled dangerously and it took another moment before he was stood at Sonny’s side, hand encased in a firm grip. “Have a nice night, Paul. I’ll see you around.”
“You too,” Paul murmured back. “Will.”
Will followed Sonny out the diner and had to fight with himself to remember that he wasn’t supposed to look back.