Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, trembles at your touch
His first thought, when he opened Nate’s door and found Maggie standing on the other side, was ‘Ambush.’
His second was, ‘No, Nate wouldn’t arrange to have his own briefing interrupted.’
It wasn’t until those thoughts had cycled through his brain that he got around to noticing how beautiful Maggie looked, and that she was actually here and smiling at him for some reason he couldn’t begin to fathom. The fact that his mind automatically turned to threat assessment before wary but pleased surprise was really just another sign that he’d made the right choice in letting her end things, he supposed.
“Eliot? Who is it?” Nate called impatiently.
Eliot opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Maggie shook her head at him, still smiling, and gently nudged him back into the apartment so she could slip in past him. “It’s me,” she replied to Nate.
This was not good. Eliot took a deep breath and turned slowly to face the room. Maggie had stopped just behind him, so he found himself looking over her shoulder at the rest of the team, who were studying them with expressions that ranged from cautiously pleased (Sophie) to mildly confused (Parker) to smug delight (Hardison, and what the hell was that about?) to… some kind of weird mix of annoyance and concern from Nate. Eliot shifted his weight nervously, resisting the urge to balance himself to take an attack (he’d have to get in front of Maggie first anyway), and wondered why nobody really looked all that surprised at their unexpected guest.
Which brought him right back around to thinking ‘ambush,’ but it was still a pretty ridiculous theory. And Nate, the only one who might have set it up thanks to head wounds and fever working better than torture to make Eliot cough up dangerous information, didn’t have his conning face on.
Hardison slapped his hand on the counter, palm up, in front of Parker. “Pay up, girl. I so called that one.”
Parker’s look of confusion dissolved into narrow-eyed annoyance, which she turned first on Hardison and then on Eliot as she pulled a wad of cash out of… okay, Eliot was going to pretend he didn’t just see her reach down her shirt for it. “Way to go, Sparky. I’m never betting on you again. You owe me twenty bucks.”
“Bettin’ on me?” Eliot growled, trying to glare, but worried he wasn’t conveying the proper sense of quiet menace by the way no one so much as flinched.
“On which one of you was gonna be the first to man up and try to patch things up,” Hardison explained, fondling the twenty Parker had reluctantly given him in a really inappropriate manner and smirking. “Which was obviously gonna be Maggie,” he added.
Eliot crossed his arms over his chest and tried to focus on his anger that they were making bets on his personal life, and not his startled panic that they knew about his personal life. Not that it was easy to keep information from Hardison, the jerk probably read through all their email and phone records for fun, and why had that never occurred to Eliot before? None of them looked surprised or confused by the situation, though, and that was…
They all knew. They’d known, apparently, since before Maggie had ended things.
He looked warily at Nate, who met his eyes with an expression composed of equal parts irritation, resignation, and that weird sort of warmth Nate sometimes directed at him that he wasn’t comfortable qualifying. Nate sighed and ran a hand through his hair, further disarraying it. “Yes, well, this is all very…” he waved a hand vaguely and shrugged, apparently at loss. “But we were sort of in the middle of a briefing, so, Maggie, if you wouldn’t mind…?” Nate nodded toward the door, and Eliot felt a surge of relief. There were multiple exits from the building from Nate’s apartment, so unless Maggie planted herself in front of the door he could easily make his escape. And even then, he could manage one or two of the windows.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” Maggie assured Nate, walking in and stealing Eliot’s seat at the bench. She shared a grin with Sophie and Parker, who didn’t seem to blame Maggie for her monetary loss, before raising her eyebrows at Nate. “Please, continue,” she urged.
Nate gave her one of his nonplussed looks and made his ‘I don’t quite know what to say to that’ noise. Eliot edged slowly toward the door until Hardison cleared his throat and wagged a finger at him. Eliot scowled at him, but stopped moving, mostly because now everyone else was looking at him, too. He shared his scowl around the rest of the group, skipping over Maggie’s fond smirk, then stomped into the kitchen for a beer. So it was ten a.m., who cared. It would take the edge off the dangerous feeling of being trapped.
“Well, uh. I suppose we could… take a short break,” Nate muttered.
“Oh, don’t stop on my account,” Maggie insisted brightly. “It’s not like I’ve never seen you setting up a job before. I’m just not letting Eliot out of my sight. He’s already moved house to avoid me, I wouldn’t put shimmying down a drainpipe past him,” she added wryly.
Eliot nearly choked on his beer, scratched one of the windows off his mental list of escape plans, and turned slowly to face the amused and disapproving looks from his team.
“Seriously? Dude, you have intimacy issues,” Hardison informed him, like that was news to anyone. “Issues,” he emphasized. Eliot rolled his eyes.
“You didn’t actually move?” Sophie asked incredulously.
“Well, not – not cuz of Maggie,” Eliot defended, leaving the ‘only’ unspoken. “It’s – I do that. Nate? Tell them I do that!”
Nate raised his eyebrows in a manner that clearly conveyed the question ‘You’re asking me to dig you out of this?’, but he shrugged and offered neutrally, “In Eliot’s defense, he does move periodically. Price on his head,” he explained dismissively. Because none of them really took the threat of death and capture he lived with seriously. Eliot’s life was hard sometimes.
Maggie, at least, frowned like she might actually be thinking about that, and Eliot was at once pleased and disappointed. It was good for her to get a clearer picture of why he was such a bad choice for her, why she’d done the right thing to let him go, but… Seeing her here, close enough to touch, made him want to beg for another chance. It was selfish and stupid of him, he’d come to terms with the reality that he could never give her anything like the life she deserved, but he still wanted her. Still wanted to know there was someone out there who would pick up every time he called, someone who made him feel almost like a real person.
Someone who loved him.
He shut the insidious thought down with a scowl, turning his back to the assembled group and finishing his beer in a few quick swallows.
Nate sighed heavily from behind him while Eliot considered the merits of another beer. “Alright, this is… yeah. Okay. Everybody out so Eliot can patch things up with my wife,” he ordered grumpily, sighing again at the chorus of “Ex-wife,” that followed. Eliot stood in front of the sink, staring at nothing and vaguely hoping and dreading that Maggie would just leave, too. His trained hearing didn’t pick out the sound of her moving amidst the general shuffle of people vacating the apartment, though.
He heard Nate’s steps stop near the doorway, and the older man cleared his throat. Eliot turned to meet Nate’s eyes. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting to see there, anger, jealousy, disapproval? But Nate just looked a little sad and a lot annoyed and maybe just a touch that warm thing again.
“No make-up sex in my apartment,” Nate ordered.
“No promises,” Maggie shot back with a smirk. Eliot swallowed hard and decided against the beer.
Nate rolled his eyes. “At least don’t tell me about it,” he amended, then shook his head at them both and left, pulling the door shut as he shooed the rest of the group away from it.
When the door was shut, Eliot leaned back, bracing himself against the counter as he studied Maggie nervously. She stared right back at him, a smile hovering around the edges of her mouth.
“Alone at last,” she murmured, sounding amused.
“Maggie,” he started, and then didn’t know where to go from there. What was he supposed to say? He couldn’t even make up his own mind if he wanted to talk her into staying or going.
Maggie slid off his stool and walked slowly over to join him in the kitchen. She kept a careful distance between them, her eyes flickering over his shoulders, noting the tension he couldn’t ease. She sighed and crossed her arms, the not-quite smile fading into a serious expression.
“The thing is,” she said slowly but firmly, “I do love you.” She held up a hand when he opened his mouth, and he stayed silent. “I know you have a long list of reasons why that’s a bad idea. But they don’t matter, Eliot. I can’t change the way I feel because you think I should.”
He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face and into his hair. “I’m not… I don’t think you should change how you feel, Maggie. I can’t… change how I feel, either. But just because we feel… something, it doesn’t mean…” He shrugged and looked at the floor. “Love isn’t always enough,” he murmured, remembering when he’d learned that lesson. He’d rather let Maggie go now, when he could convince himself he was doing it for her, rather than wait for her to decide being with him wasn’t worth the hardships it entailed.
Maggie startled him by laughing softly. He looked up at her, a little hurt that she’d be so dismissive of his half-confession, but she was smiling gently at him, her eyes warm. “Eliot,” she said, shaking her head a little, “I’m not some starry-eyed teenager who believes in fairy tales and love conquering all. I know a real relationship takes more than love and hope, and I know that a relationship with you will never be easy or simple. And believe me, Eliot, I know it’s likely it will all end in tears, as they say.”
“Then why – ” he broke in, reaching out to her reflexively, almost startled when she caught his hand in hers and held it gently. He stared at their hands for a moment, train of thought disrupted by the contact. Finally he sighed and shook his head, looking back up at her face. “I can’t make you promises, Maggie. I’ve… been there, and when I end up not being able to keep them, it’ll only hurt both of us. You’d be better off – ”
“You’ve really been spending too much time with Nate,” Maggie interrupted, shaking her head with a fondly exasperated expression. “You need to stop telling me what I should do, Eliot. I understand you’re trying to look out for me, but I’m more than capable of looking out for myself, and…” Maggie trailed off, tilting her head to peer at him with a frown. “And… this really has nothing to do with what’s best for me, does it?”
Eliot frowned, trying to tug his hand free from hers, but she tightened her grasp and he didn’t want to hurt her. “What do you mean? Of course it’s about what’s best for you, I lo-uh… care about you, and I want you to be happy, and – ”
“And I couldn’t possibly be happy with you, with what you can offer me,” Maggie stated flatly. “Because what you can give me will never be white picket fences and a house full of children and a husband to take care of me.”
Eliot swallowed down the bitter taste of failure, but nodded in agreement.
Maggie sighed and closed her eyes, shaking her head. “Eliot,” she said softly, “I’m only going to point out the obvious here once, because you’re a smart man, and I think you’ll be able to grasp it.” She opened her eyes again and squeezed his hand. “I am not Aimee. I am not your high school sweetheart waiting on a wedding ring. I am a mature divorced woman who isn’t interested in remarrying. I’ve borne and lost the only child of my own that I will ever have. I’ve learned to live on my own and be comfortable with solitude. But I prefer to have someone in my life I know cares about me and thinks about me, no matter how infrequently we can actually be together. I prefer to have you in my life. I can survive without you, just like you can survive without me. But I don’t want to, and I don’t see why I should have to, if the only reason is that you can’t give me things I don’t even want.”
Eliot could only stare at her after that speech, processing and analyzing her words, looking for a lie, a trap, a doubt. She made a pretty solid argument, he had to admit. He supposed anyone who’d been married to Nate would have had to learn how to argue effectively. Still, there was one fairly major concern of his she hadn’t addressed.
He met her gaze squarely and asked quietly, “And what about when I get myself killed somehow? People in my line of work don’t die from old age, Maggie. Forget picket fences and dogs, I can’t even promise you I’ll still be alive in a year. You gonna tell me whatever’s between us is worth settin’ yourself up for that?”
Maggie slowly closed the distance between them, moving into his personal space until he could feel the warmth of her body, so close, almost touching. Her eyes searched his face for something, solemn and sad, and she laid a hand on his cheek. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” she murmured. “I love you. And I’m pretty sure you love me. And I know love doesn’t come with a warrantee, and I know, god do I know, how it hurts to lose someone who’s a part of your heart. But it’s always worth it to love someone, Eliot. The joy is worth the pain. It’s worth it to me to love you, no matter how it ends, no matter how much time we have. You’re worth it to me.”
And that was it, he had to kiss her. He slid his hands into her hair and tilted her face up, pressing his lips to hers lightly, chastely, just the softest touch making his heart hammer. She laid a hand on his chest and deepened the kiss, and he wondered if she could feel his heartbeat, and then he stopped thinking of anything but the feel of her body pressed against his, and the softness of her mouth under his.
An eternity later, she pulled back gently, brushing his hair back from his face with a smile. “Are you alright?” she asked him quietly. “You’re trembling.”
He gave a soft, surprised laugh, realizing she was right. He could feel the fine shaking, almost but not quite a shiver, running through his body. The things this woman did to him. “I love you, Maggie,” he whispered, pressing his forehead to hers, his eyes shut.
She laughed lightly, sounding pleased, and asked, “Was that so hard to admit?”
God, yes, he thought. Harder than you’ll ever know. And it’s still probably a terrible idea, and you’ll still probably live to regret it, but –
“Worth the effort,” he replied huskily, bending forward to nuzzle at her throat. She gave a little moan of pleasure and tugged just a bit at a handful of his hair, which just encouraged him.
“Nate did… oh, right there… make a not unreasonable request,” she reminded him.
Eliot smirked against her skin and took a moment to leave his mark on the pale column of her throat. “So we won’t tell him about it,” he murmured. He hoped she wasn’t really going to resist him. He was still battling a host of uncertainties and reluctance, and he needed this, needed her, the solid reality of her body in his arms, to anchor the decision in his mind. He was worth the risks to her. It might just be enough to counter his urge to protect her from all the pain he knew being involved with him would bring her.
Maggie gasped as his teeth grazed her collarbone, her fingers digging into his back and making him shudder and suddenly really miss Nate’s old couch.
“Oh, hell, I’ll buy him new sheets,” Maggie decided. Which was all the encouragement Eliot needed to sweep her up in his arms, startling a laugh out of her as he made his way as quickly as possible up the stupid spiral staircase and into the bedroom.
He laid her down on the bed, trying not to think about whose bed it was, and straightened up to strip impatiently. She matched him for urgency in removing her own clothing, but when he crawled onto the bed and braced himself above her, she reached up and stilled him with a light brush of her fingers down his chest. He caught his breath at the sensation, staring down into her eyes, heart in his throat.
“You’re trembling again,” she observed.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “You kinda do that to me.” He wished he could explain fully, how terrified and elated he felt, that she hadn’t given up on him when he’d handed her the chance, that she understood what he couldn’t offer her and was willing to accept what he could, that he was worth the risk, worth the pain, to her. But he couldn’t begin to find the words, not with her body warm and soft beneath him.
Maybe he’d try, the next time he called her. For now, he bent down to kiss her again.
Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, Nate's POV
The hell of it was, Nate had never expected it to work.
When he’d finally figured out that there was something going on between his wife and his hitter, Nate had been irritated more than anything. He’d been irritated, because he thought the two of them were too smart to get involved with anyone so completely wrong for them as each other. Maggie couldn’t, and shouldn’t, put up with another man who kept too many secrets and pushed her away emotionally, and Eliot shouldn’t… well, Eliot just wasn’t cut out for a relationship that lasted past breakfast.
He’d grumbled as much to Sophie when he was forking over the money he’d lost on the two of them not lasting another month. She’d smirked at him and pointed out that Eliot was obviously a frustrated romantic, and that if Maggie wasn’t drawn to difficult men she would never have married Nate. Nate’s protests that he hadn’t been difficult then had only made her laugh, because Sophie had known him for a long time.
Still, romantic urges and bad boy complexes aside, the whole thing was a disaster looking for a place to happen, in Nate’s opinion. He shared that opinion with Hardison while being forced to endure a Doctor Who marathon when they lasted another two months. Hardison shook his head and grinned and told Nate that now he was just being stubborn. Long-distance didn’t work for everybody, but it was kind of perfect for Eliot and Maggie – they both got to have their own lives, with the added bonus of great phone sex and a low maintenance significant other.
Nate considered making the arguments that Maggie wasn’t nearly as low maintenance as she seemed, and Eliot was actually surprisingly dismal at phone sex, but didn’t feel like explaining either statement, so he just sat back and stared blindly at the TV and considered the remainder of Hardison’s explanation. That this thing worked for Eliot and Maggie because they both got to have their own lives.
Nate didn’t like to think too deeply about the people he was close to. He didn’t like to analyze them like marks. But he could. And he knew Maggie pretty well, and Eliot probably about as well as anyone could, and that idea just struck him as wrong. Having their own lives, being apart most of the time… it might work for a well-established relationship. It might work with Hardison’s internet ‘friends.’ But for Eliot and Maggie…
Maggie needed someone reliable, someone stable, someone she could trust enough to let herself lean on sometimes. Eliot needed someone to watch him and sit on him when he was being too stubborn to take care of himself. They were both good at being strong and self-sufficient, but they both needed more out of a relationship than a voice on the phone. Though Nate still had his doubts about Eliot’s capacity to even be in a relationship, but that was beside the point.
The point was, he couldn’t see how they’d lasted this long, and he couldn’t see them lasting much longer. He wouldn’t take Parker’s bet, though, because whatever Eliot and Maggie were doing, it was obviously worth the effort to them, and it didn’t seem right to bet against them. Even if he was pretty sure he’d win eventually.
But he missed the signs, somehow, when they did end it. He’d sort of gotten used to the idea by then. Not that he didn’t still feel a reflexive twinge of jealousy when he thought of the two of them together, and not that it didn’t still take him a little by surprise when Eliot refrained from casual flirting, but overall, mostly, he’d accepted that Maggie and Eliot were… a thing.
And then Eliot got himself knocked over the head with a baseball bat, leaving him with a concussion on top of the fever he’d already had from a mildly infected knife wound he hadn’t bothered to tell anyone about. After a few hours of watching Eliot suffer and snarl through pain and hallucinations, he would have done just about anything to help the man relax and get some actual rest. Even give the most blatant sign of approval he could, whether he was sure he approved or not, to this thing with Maggie.
Nate didn’t like being taken by surprise. He didn’t like to think he missed signs, especially not in the members of his team, his family. But he’d somehow missed completely that Maggie and Eliot had finally ended the romance he’d been sure from the beginning was doomed.
Nate ignored the team betting pool that developed once the others figured out Eliot and Maggie were ‘taking a break.’ Betting against them seemed wrong. Betting on them… well, it just didn’t seem like a wise investment. Not even after Maggie started calling him, asking his advice on dating a man Nate had come to consider one of his best friends. And then she’d showed up in the middle of a briefing, and they’d all trooped down to the bar to give her and Eliot a little privacy. Nate had even made Hardison turn off the audio and video surveillance, which had him pouting in his orange soda.
“I think it’s weird that Eliot’s going to have sex in Nate’s bed before Nate gets to,” Parker declared thoughtfully. “Isn’t that weird?”
Sophie raised an eyebrow at her. “And how can you be so sure Nate’s never had sex in that bed, hmm?” she asked.
“Have you?” Parker asked Nate bluntly.
Nate made an annoyed, noncommittal noise and sipped his whiskey.
“Not like we got any idea what’s goin’ on up there. Cuz someone won’t let me make sure nobody’s dead or getting’ emotionally scarred for life,” Hardison grumbled.
Parker frowned at him. “I also think it’s weird you’re so mad Nate won’t let you watch Eliot and Maggie having sex.”
“Now that’s definitely weird,” Sophie agreed with a smirk, while Hardison choked on his soda.
Nate rolled his eyes and wandered over to the bar, leaving the rest of them at their table. He wasn’t precisely thrilled by the idea of his wife and his hitter sleeping together in his bed, but it was surprisingly preferable to the alternative, that they were tearing each other’s hearts out up there. That Maggie’s needs and Eliot’s fears were destroying whatever slim chance they had at happiness.
The hell of it was, Nate had never expected it to work. And he was afraid, in the end, he’d win that bet.
Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, love is scary, especially when it's crumbled through your fingers once before
Eliot hadn’t been good at sleeping for a long time, and even with Maggie curled up in his arms, he still only lasted a few hours before unsettled dreams chased him back to consciousness. He laid in the dark and stared at the only vaguely familiar ceiling of his latest apartment, trying to drive the images out of his mind. He didn’t remember the dream with much clarity, he never did, it was just a haze of white and red, pearls and satin and white roses and pale skin and blonde hair, and a creeping crimson stain drowning all the light.
Eliot’s subconscious was not particularly subtle.
“You awake?” Maggie whispered softly, making him tense in surprise. “Guess so,” she murmured, snuggling closer. “You were… talking in your sleep, a little,” she murmured, sliding one hand over his chest in a slow, soothing circle.
He was silent for a moment, waiting for his heartbeat to slow, then settled his hand over hers, stilling its movement. “…yeah,” he acknowledged.
“Anything you want to talk about?” she prompted, when he didn’t say any more.
“Nothing new,” he muttered, closing his eyes. “Just the usual.”
“Really?” she murmured. “Because I know we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to spend the night together, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard you muttering wedding vows in your sleep before.”
Well. Eliot supposed there was nothing he could say to that. So he didn’t say anything.
“You seemed a little fixated on the ‘til death do us part bit,” Maggie told him gently.
Eliot sighed, and accepted he was going to have to say something. “Well, yeah,” he muttered. “It’s a concern for me.”
“We’re not getting married,” Maggie pointed out.
Eliot shrugged, careful not to dislodge her head that was resting on his soldier. “Not now,” he acknowledged.
“Not ever,” she shot back vehemently, startling him into looking down at her. She was frowning up at him, something wary and fragile in her eyes. She shut them, and pressed her forehead to his shoulder, curling her hand into a fist under his. “I… I can’t… do that again, Eliot. I love you, I do, but… I’m not ever going to marry you.”
“Oh,” he said slowly. She’d mentioned something about not being interested in remarrying, once or twice. But that had mostly been before this whole ‘I love you’ thing, and he’d thought maybe…
But no. So okay. That was fine.
“That’s fine,” he told her.
“Is it?” she asked quietly. “You were dreaming – ”
“I was dreaming about blood on satin and roses,” Eliot cut her off flatly.
“Ah,” she said slowly. “Well, that’s…”
“Fucked up,” Eliot agreed, turning his gaze back to the ceiling.
“Worrisome,” she corrected, rising up on one elbow to look down into his face with a frown. “Do you have that kind of dream about the team, too?”
Eliot shrugged. ”Sometimes,” he admitted. “But those are more… specific. This dream is… was kinda vague.”
Maggie brushed hair off his forehead, studying him thoughtfully. Eliot watched her from the corners of his eyes.
“You’ve had this dream before,” she murmured finally.
He looked back to the ceiling silently, but that was answer enough.
“Eliot,” she said, “when did you… oh.” He glanced at her face when she got it, then quickly away from the sympathetic sadness in her eyes. “Aimee,” she murmured.
“Aimee,” he agreed after a moment. “She took to tellin’ me a promise ring was no use if I wasn’t gonna keep the promise, and I… I loved her, Maggie. I wanted to make her happy, but I couldn’t… I just couldn’t. I’d go home to her with scars I couldn’t explain and blood under my fingernails and she’d be talkin’ about starter houses and baby names, and… I’d have that dream.”
She kept stroking his hair as he talked, nodding slowly in understanding, and smiled softly at him when he finished. “Well, you don’t need to have it with me, Eliot, okay? We want the same things, you and I, so – ”
“But we don’t,” he blurted out, starling both of them. He sat up and swung his feet to the floor, but didn’t get up. He could feel her eyes on his back, but she didn’t touch him. He sighed and ran his hands through his sleep-tangled hair. “I couldn’t bring myself to put her in that kind of danger. I couldn’t ever tell her why, though, couldn’t explain it to her, and she… well, she gave up on me. She was the one pushin’ for commitment, and… But it wasn’t her fault. I kept her waitin’ too long, it wasn’t fair.”
“When I married Nate, I honestly thought it would last forever,” Maggie said quietly behind him. He didn’t turn around. “When I had Sam… I’m not saying everything was perfect, we had our problems. He was always a difficult man to love, and it’s not an easy thing, to raise a child. But it was worth it, at the end of every day, knowing I had them. And then… it all fell apart. After we lost Sam, I needed Nate, so much, and he… I don’t blame him, I never could blame him. I knew he was hurting as much as I was, but we were supposed to help each other, and he… couldn’t. We tried to hold on for a while, but… whatever those vows were supposed to mean, they were broken when we lost Sam, when our hearts broke.”
Eliot closed his eyes and let his head fall forward, feeling guilty. His loss was nothing to hers. Who even ended up with their high school sweetheart anyway? It had been a stupid pipedream from the beginning, and probably they never would have made it even if he’d just had a normal tour and gone back home to train horses.
Maggie’s hands slid cautiously around his shoulders, clasping over his chest as she leaned against his bowed back, pressing her cheek to his shoulderblade.
“I’m sorry, if that’s what you wanted, Eliot, to get married. I just can’t… I can’t put my faith in a ring and a promise again – ”
He couldn’t help stiffening as those words hit him with a powerful, painful sense of deja vu, and she fell silent, pressing an apologetic kiss to his shoulder.
“I don’t want to get married,” he said quietly. “I couldn’t risk you like that any more than I could Aimee, any more than I could anyone. I don’t need a ceremony and a piece of paper and a ring, but I… I want those promises, Maggie. I want the vows, I want forever. And I can’t ever really ask for it, because I can’t give any of it in return. I’ve been livin’ day to day for so long I’m not sure I remember how to do anything else anyway. Honestly, the whole idea scares the hell outta me. But I still want to believe in a future, in a tomorrow with someone, with… you, and…”
“Hey,” she interrupted his rambling gently, squeezing his shoulders and hooking her chin over the left. “I’ll still be here tomorrow.”
But what about the day after that, he didn’t ask. He didn’t have any right.
Eliot closed a hand gently over her forearm and rested his temple against her cheek. He supposed he should feel reassured, he knew that was what she’d intended. He turned his head to brush his lips along the delicate line of her jaw.
“That’s all I need,” he lied.
Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, Say Anything (movie titles theme)
“You’re quiet tonight,” Maggie observed thoughtfully, breaking the long silence.
“…yeah. Sorry. Kinda tired,” Eliot replied slowly. Maggie bit her lip and shifted against her pillow, wishing she could see his face. As skilled as she’d become at reading his voice over the years, there was still something more intimate in being able to look into his eyes, see his expression. She always missed that after a visit.
But this time, after her impromptu trip to Boston, the longing to see him was particularly strong, because he’d never sounded so far away. She’d talked to him when he was in some foreign country halfway around the globe, and felt almost like he was there in the room with her. Now, when he was just across the country, just a few hours away by plane, it felt like their connection was strung out to the thinnest fragile thread.
“Maybe I should let you go, then,” she murmured. When he didn’t respond, she frowned and sat up in bed. “I mean, to sleep, Eliot. Maybe I should let you hang up and go to sleep,” she clarified, maybe a little sharply. “I’m not letting you go in any other way.”
He gave that familiar raspy chuckle, but it held more of an edge than usual. “Yeah, you made that pretty clear,” he drawled.
“Eliot,” she started, and then didn’t know where to go from there.
She knew she’d done something wrong in Boston. Hell, she knew exactly what she’d done wrong – she’d misjudged what he wanted out of this relationship. She thought it was a little unfair of him to have suddenly started talking about wanting promises of forever, but then, after all this time, she supposed it was a little unfair of her to be so surprised. She should have known he wanted those things, because she knew him, knew how badly he wanted, deep down, the things he thought could never have – friends, family, love. A home, a future.
But somehow she’d never thought a wife was on that list. The way he’d always talked about Aimee, and how in the end it had really been for the best that he’d lost her, Maggie had thought he’d given up that particular dream a long time ago.
Just the thought of it made her panic – she couldn’t risk that much of herself again, couldn’t promise so much of her heart, because if she lost Eliot like she’d lost Nate, she didn’t think there would be enough of her left to keep going.
She loved him. But as she’d told him, she was old enough to know love wasn’t always enough.
“Eliot?” she repeated nervously, realizing he’d been silent too long again. “Are you still there? Say something.”
“What do you want me to say, Maggie?” he asked reasonably. So calm, and so reasonable, and so tired, and so very far away.
Say you love me, she thought. Say you miss me. Say you forgive me. Say I can make you happy. Say we can work this out.
“I don’t know,” she murmured, slumping back against her cold pillows. “Just say something. Say anything. I need to hear you.”
He didn’t answer at first, and she gripped the phone harder, suddenly afraid he’d just hang up. Would she fly out to Boston again to make him admit he still loved her, if he did? Would it work, if she tried?
His voice was rough and low, almost too low to hear, when he finally spoke. “Do you need to hear me, or do you just need to hear someone?” he asked.
“What?” she whispered, heart in her throat.
“…never mind,” he said with a sigh. “Sorry. I didn’t mean that, I just… I’m really tired, Maggie. Okay? I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“I love you,” she blurted out, afraid he’d hang up before she could say it.
“…I know,” he said softly, tenderly, and she curled up around the phone, feeling closer to him than she had for the entire conversation. “I love you, too, darlin’,” he told her, warm and gentle, his voice like a caress.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Eliot. Okay? I’ll call,” she promised.
“You don’t have to,” he said, surprised. “I can –”
“I want to, Eliot,” she insisted. “I want to.”
“…well, okay,” he agreed. He sounded cautiously pleased. “I’ll talk to you then, sweetheart.”
“Okay,” she said. She thought, I hope so.