Title: "Silence" 1/1
There are things they don't tell each other and it is this that she thinks about as he stands in her office, a spiky bundle of nervous energy and tells her that their being together could not, would not be disastrous because other, unspecified things, are worse.
She has never heard such a poor justification for a relationship, and she tells him this, scoring easy points off his arrogance - even though his eyes are softer than ever before and his voice and his intensity are like velvet, winding around her limbs and her boundaries so that she is suddenly susceptible in the one place where she had learned to think of herself as invulnerable.
But there are things they don't tell each other and she is old enough and sometimes wise enough to worry about the silences of their friendship and how they could damage a more intimate relationship.
She has never told him about a pregnancy that she lost, years ago now, or that it was part of her past before it had even been part of her present or her future. She does not tell him about the men she has sometimes woken up with, or that her hurry to forget them is due to their fleeting resemblance, in manner, or speech and once, unforgettably, in fire and passion to him.
They have talked about her spectaculary poor track record with relationships, but she has never told him that when she left California, following him to New Hampshire, she left behind a man she still thinks she could have learned to love. If she were ever to talk to him about this, and of course that's out of the question, he might tease from her the fact that what concerns her the most is that she left with scarcely a backward glance; and that there is no one else in her life who she trusts so implicitly as she trusts him.
She knows that he keeps his secrets hidden well, and perhaps that is one of the things that has always intrigued her about him, and one of the things she has always understood.
She knows that although they have talked about the end of his marriage, he has by no means told her everything. Still, she reached the conclusion long ago that she and Toby talked about the end of his marriage far more than he and Andi ever did - and she finds that sad, somehow.
She has told him that it wasn't his fault, or just his fault, and that sometimes no matter how much you want things to work out - they just don't. But she has never told him about a 3am phone call from an angry, hurt and probably drunk Andrea that laid the blame for the disintegration of their marrigae squarely at her door. She has never told him how much these accusations hurt when she'd spent years, conspicuously keeping her distance, being the friend he talked to but seldom saw, carefully not interfering.
It is not easy, it can never be easy. She knows this because in all the years she has known him the moments of peace they have shared have been few and far between - and as she grows older she has come to realise the value of peace. It would be easy to say they have never been peaceful, that their entire relationship, personal and professional, has been based on noisy debate and argument. It wouldn't be true, but it would be easy to say it.
Easier to say than to admit that in these last crazy years all of her moments of silence and peace have been shared with him, that now she can not imagine stillness without him at her should, watchingover her, a talisman to her contentment.
She knows he keeps secrets, she has heard the lies and the evasions in his voice - and perhaps she is fascinated by his distance. But if she is it is not that that makes her curve her palm around his cheek, whisper soft words in his ear and hold him to her as he sleeps. What brings her stumbling to the decision that will change the course of her future is the pain in his voice and his eyes; the sense that every word costs him dearly and the knowledge that he would not lie, or keep secrets unless he had no choice.