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21 December 2007 @ 03:57 pm
“The Twelve Days of Christmas - Day 3”  


“So this is the big day.” Gail looked at Karen from across the kitchen table where they sat having their morning coffee.

“Mmmm.”

“Nervous?”

“A little.”

“Well, you haven’t seen him in a while. And considering everything that’s happened…”

Karen continued just staring out the window, hands wrapped around the mug of coffee, just thinking about all the possibilities. Gail decided it probably would be better not to discuss it anymore since all she was getting were one or two word answers.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bill showered, shaved twice, changed twice, and stared at himself in the mirror longer than he had ever remembered. Combed his hair, then messed it up a bit. Wrapped her gift, wondered if it needed a card, wondered if the wrapping looked okay. He should have had the jeweler wrap it he decided. Couldn’t eat, but had a coffee, his second in an hour. Brushed his teeth again.

And it was still only 9:30 am.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Karen showered, did her hair, then wet it and did it again. It was longer. She wondered if he’d like it. Got dressed, more than a few times. She really hadn’t packed an appropriate outfit she decided, but then what was appropriate? She took off the turtleneck, not enough skin, and changed into a blouse - too loose. Settled on a light blue fitted v-neck sweater than showed a hint of bust. Jeans, sure they looked good with the sweater and boots - Bill always liked her boots - the one with the heels. Makeup done, not too much - just enough and a spray of perfume - his favorite would do.

It was 10:00 am. She should leave in an hour.

“Hey, Karen, they’re calling for a bad storm tonight - rain, freezing rain turning into snow.” Gail entered the guest room.

”Yeah, I heard that too, but it’s not supposed to hit ‘til later tonight. We’re just having lunch. I should be home around 4:00 I would think.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bill arrived first and was seated by the hostess toward the back of the restaurant. Decorated for the season, it was ablaze in red poinsettias and lights and looked quite festive. He sat nervously keeping watch at the front door, feeling his stomach churn every time the door opened.

After about 5 minutes, it opened and there she was. She spotted him almost instantaneously, probably because he was the only person in the restaurant staring incessantly at the door.

As she walked toward him, he had no idea what to do. Do you kiss your wife that you walked out on? Probably not. Do you shake her hand. No. So what do you do?

She wondered too. What would he do? And she wondered what he thought as she walked what seemed like a mile-long aisle. Did he still find her attractive? Would he like her hair?

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

He reached toward her elbow and helped her into her seat. “Smooth,” he thought. ‘How much colder can you get than that?’ He sat down across from her and both averted their gazes elsewhere, almost embarrassed to look at each other.

He finally broke the silence. “It’s nice to see you. You look good.” He had to consciously stop fidgeting.

“Thanks, so do you. You’re growing your hair, I see. No more slicked back bureaucrat look?”

“Nah, this is easier - you know wash and wear. I like yours … longer - it suits you.”

She smiled, the first smile either of them shared in months.

“I’ve got some mail for you,” and she reached for her purse, pulling out several envelopes.

“Karen, I hope you’re not here just to deliver my mail. I was hoping we could maybe discuss everything. You know, we’ve never really talked about it and we probably should.”

She put the mail in front of him, then said, “Where do we start Bill? So much happened.”

He didn’t know either, but decided to take Elsie’s advice and start with an apology.

“Karen, just hear me out…”

“Hi , can I get you two some drinks. A tall bubbly young lady wearing a Santa’s hat interrupted to take their order. And suddenly Bill got nervous. He had it all planned what he was going to say and it suddenly disappeared.

“Just a water for me.” “Me too,”

Karen looked at Bill. “You were saying.” “God” he thought to himself, “this is so hard.”

“Sorry.” That’s all he could get out, and he got all choked up, picking at the corner of his napkin, he wished the waitress would hurry with the water.

She lifted her head and for a moment they locked eyes and she was taken aback by the fact that he looked like he was about to cry. It only took that briefest of moments for her to realize why she had fallen in love initially with him. At the same time, she wondered if they could fix all that had gone wrong. The waitress suddenly returned with their drinks and proceeded to rhyme off a plethora of daily specials, none of which either of them consciously heard. They each ordered an entree and decided to share a Thai Mango Salad for an appetizer.

“Bill, it wasn’t all you fault. I’m sorry too. Really.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t the one to walk out. I know you Karen, you would have talked and talked and resolved this long ago, but it was me who was the jackass and took off.”

She wanted to reach across and put her hand on his, but it just didn’t seem like the time. Maybe it was still too early to really know if things would work out.

He continued, but looking around first making sure no one was close enough to hear their private conversation. He now wished they were somewhere else, not in such a public place getting busier by the minute.

“I took your advice and went and saw a therapist. She helped. I think it was good to have someone unattached to the whole situation shed some light on it.”

“So, what did she have to say.” Karen was curious.

“Basically, she told me a few things, one of which I already knew.”

“And…”

“One, I finally came to terms with Milo’s death and realized that it wasn’t our fault. Two, I realized that your firing me wasn’t some sort of personal vendetta.” She smiled. “Is that what you thought?”

“No, of course not, I don’t know what I thought about the firing. I was just mad and stressed and had no idea how to handle it all.”

“So what did she tell you that you already knew?”

He looked at her with that goofy grin that she grew to love so quickly. “Well, she told me that it was one of the few times someone’s husband came in to discuss their wife and failing marriage and only talked about how wonderful she was.”

Now it was Karen’s eyes that were welling up, and she too wished that they weren’t in such a busy place.

“Here’s your salad, and I’ve brought two plates for you to share it.” This waitress had impeccable timing.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

After talking a lot more, and actually managing to eat something despite the nervous stomachs they both had, Karen got up to excuse herself to go to the ladies room. They had talked for almost 2 ½ hours. By the time she returned to the table, she had decided to invite him to Gail’s for Christmas dinner. She honestly couldn’t stand the thought of him being alone.

“I can’t Karen. Wouldn’t it be kind of weird for everyone?”

“No, actually, with all the advice I’m getting there, I think it will be weirder without you. The kids love you Bill. They both have asked if you’re coming.”

“What about you? Are you okay with it?”

“Yeah… actually I am. I think it’ll do us both some good, and you know, it will be a chance to talk some more if we can manage to get a moment’s privacy.”

“Alright, I’ll drive down Christmas morning if that’s okay.”

She smiled, that lovely, breathtaking smile that he loved, that said ‘I’m looking forward to it’ even though she didn’t actually say the words … he just knew.

As they exited the restaurant, Bill noticed the rain had turned to freezing rain. “Karen, maybe I should drive you back. Leave your car here.”

“Bill, I’m fine. It’s only just started. The road will be okay, I’m sure.”

He hesitated about letting her go, but it did seem like it was still okay and he assumed by her driving south, she’d be driving away from it.

“Alright, but leave your cell phone on and call me if it’s bad and call when you get to Gail’s.”

“Yes, dear,” she said sarcastically. He took a mental note - she hadn’t called him ‘dear’ in a long time, even is it was with a sarcastic tone, it still meant something.

“Let me walk you to your car. You’ll probably slip in those boots of yours.”

Hmmm, she thought, he noticed the boots. Good choice. Instinctively she slid her arm through his and they walked to her car. It was getting a little slushy and slippery.

As she opened her car door, he reluctantly let her arm go. Out of his coat pocket, he pulled the small wrapped box. “Here, I got you a little something”, he said sheepishly.

“Bill.” She was lost for words and simply muttered his name.

With that, he bent down and gave her an unexpected peck on the cheek. “Thanks for lunch.” Despite the rain and ice pellets falling down on them, she suddenly felt a tingle of warmth spread throughout her body. She fumbled with the gift. “Thank you. Can I save it ‘til Christmas morning when you’re there.”

“Sure.”

She slid into the driver’s seat. “Bill, I’m glad we did this.” With that he smiled, told her to drive carefully and watched in the pouring rain as she drove out of the parking lot. He would have stood there all day if he had to. Things were definitely looking up.
 
 
 
cosmic_lcmcosmic_lcm on December 21st, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this fanfic! I really love this story!It was so good to see them finally together (I mean they are the couple like CJ and Danny on THE WEST WING)! I can't wait for the next chapter! I'm in Paris, France, so I guess I'll read the next chapter sunday morning!
Thanks a lot!

Sorry for my bad English I'm French!
destinylake on December 22nd, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
Your English is great. Thanks for reading. I'm in Canada so know a little French.
poloparadise on December 22nd, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
Awww - I've just read the other parts of this fic, and this chapter. It's adorable, I can't wait for the next few days!
24fanatic8: Bill/Karen [S5]24fanatic8 on December 22nd, 2007 04:01 am (UTC)
I loved this chapter and I am so happy they finally met. I loved the awkwardness between them and how you portrayed that.

Can't wait for the next chapter! :)
Cara: karen: oh really?caramelapples11 on December 22nd, 2007 04:11 am (UTC)
Awesome chapter!

But, why is it that I get this horrid feeling of dread? Like something bad is going to happen?

Update soon!
(Anonymous) on December 23rd, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
Great update! Thank you for giving me something to look forward to everyday!