If Only Tonight - By Andene, Chapter 8, Romance

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If Only Tonight - By Andene, Chapter 8, Romance

Post  Andene on Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:52 pm

Into The Storm

Chapter Eight: Chipping The Ice


Leaning back in her chair, Mia crossed her arms behind her head. It had been a long day; Matthew had once again skipped his appointment. She could have cared less. There would be a game on Saturday, and she was more worried about the players who would actually be playing. Lately, he had been avoiding her more than usual since they had met with Felix. She had noticed that he was usually out of the apartment before she woke up.

He hadn't acted like that since the first time he had come to his first appointment...Even before the first game, he hadn't avoided her. Then he hadn't avoided her it had been the other way around. At that time he had been venting his anger and frustration on everyone. Something had changed since the last game. But what? Mia wondered; she couldn't put her finger on it.

Music started to play from a corner of the office. Her cell phone was ringing. Sighing with exasperation, Mia got up lazily and found her phone on top of the counter, next to the sink.

"Hello?" She answered, sitting back down.

"MIA!!!" Came the excited squeal on the other end of the phone.

"Stacie!" Mia replied, with a laugh.

"Guess what!"

"Okay, what?"

"I'm going to Melbourne! I got the position!" Stacie told Mia excitedly. Her heart dropped. It meant Stacie would be leaving her for Australia.

"Great! That's awesome!" Mia said, trying hard to be enthusiastic for her friend.

"I know! I couldn't believe they would give me the position! I'm going to be teaching a Kinesiology course and I get a research group! No more paper writing for me! Well at least for a little while..."

"That's amazing. You deserve it!" Mia told her friend. She was proud of her best friend's achievement. If anyone deserved it, it was Stacie.

"Thanks! Dr. Garland actually admitted he would miss me!" Stacie laughed. Mia joined in.

"Did he say it in those words?" Mia asked, knowingly.

"Nope...but he came close too saying them." Stacie admitted.

"So are you starting next September?" Mia asked, hoping that she would get a little more time with her friend before having to say farewell.

There was silence at the other end of the line, it didn't bode well with Mia.

"I'm leaving on Saturday. I start teaching in January, but the research group will be starting immediately, it starts in October, and they've already gotten a list of graduate students who are taking part. I'll be heading up research on muscular disease and motor sensory." Stacie sounded less excited.

"Oh..." Mia said intrigued.

"Since I'm going to be leaving, I'm sending my stuff to my parents' house; is there anything that you left at the apartment that you want me to drop off or should I leave it with my parents?" Stacie asked.

"No, I already brought everything with me." Mia told her with dismay. It would have given her an excuse to see Stacie.

"I'm not going to leave without saying goodbye, Mia." Stacie said quietly. "Why don't you come see me off on Saturday?"

"I would love to -" Mia started, but as she looked at her schedule she groaned. "I can't there's a match on Saturday...and most of my roster is on the first team. I asked Felix to let Matt practice at the park...he gets really frustrated watching the others play when he's banned. But of course that back fired on me because Felix told me to go with him."

Silence settled on them once more. Mia didn't want Stacie to go without a decent congratulations/farewell dinner.

"How about dinner tomorrow at seven? Any place you want, my treat." Mia offered. Tomorrow was Friday, and Mia didn't have very many players to see.

"That sounds good. I'll see you then." Stacie agreed.

"Yea. Take care. Bye." Mia ended the call.

Her heart felt heavy. Hadn't they both known a time would come when they would part to be on their separate ways? Mia had never thought she would be saying goodbye to Stacie. Who was going to snicker at her now? Who was she going to hang out with? There wouldn't be any more girlie night outs.

What am I going to do now? She thought, knowing how selfish it must have seemed to want to keep her best friend with her. Mia was at a loss, she didn't know how she would deal with everything and Matthew, without Stacie...her eyes started to water.

-----

Might as well go...not like I have anything better to do, Matthew thought as he walked along the hall leading to the offices. He had been skipping appointments again. To his surprise, Mia hadn't said anything to him. She was probably occupied dealing with the players who would be starting the game on the weekend.

The game I won't be playing in, Matthew thought bitterly. He trudged along until he saw her office. The door was open, like it usually was. It had surprised him that she had gotten Felix to let him miss the games and practice in a park. He had been horrible to her, yet she was still trying to help him; even after he had lashed out at her. She knew it meant she would be stuck with him.

He stepped inside without bothering to knock.

She was sitting there, with her head in her arms. Is she sleeping on the job? Matthew thought, flustered.

He didn't know what to do, it was right then that he heard a sniffle before she straightened up.

Quietly, he watched, unknown to her, as she wiped her cheeks.

Deciding it was time, Matthew cleared his throat. He hadn't thought he would startle her, but Mia jumped, as she turned to face him.

Her eyes were red, the usually brilliant emerald green looking dull. Has she been crying? Matthew wondered.

"I didn't hear you come in." She told him, her voice sounding hoarse. Matthew remained silent.

"You missed your appointment." Mia said, stating the obvious.

"I'm here now." He told her.

"Can I reschedule your appointment? I-I have a really bad headache." Mia asked him.

Matthew couldn't believe what he was hearing. For the first time, she was offering to re-schedule his appointment. Something really bad must have happened. Or she really does have a headache, he considered, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

"Whatever." With that he left her office and headed for the gym.

Hours later, Matthew stalked to the apartment. He had not gone to the gym. Instead he had gone out for a drive; meandering pointlessly around London. What a waste of time, Matthew thought, slightly annoyed. He had actually shown up to Mia's office, albeit late, only to be turned away and rescheduled. The day had not been going well. Now he would be returning to the apartment for the night, having to share his room with both Oliver and Mia. Why can't I move into her room? He thought once more.

It had infuriated him when Oliver had told him that the room was still Mia's. "We can move your annoying treadmill into that room...it's easier to have the beds here and all the other stuff there." Oliver had rationalized. Matthew knew how much it irritated Oliver when Matthew ran on his treadmill early in the morning.

As Matthew entered the apartment and closed the door behind him, he saw Mia splayed across the couch fast asleep, she held a small pink elephant with spotted ears close to her. Tissues lay on the ground near her, and one was still in her hand. As Matthew moved closer to get a better look, he saw a trail of glistening tears running down her elegant face. She had been crying, he was sure of it.

Had he been on better terms with the girl, Matthew would have gently wiped them away. His hands itched to do exactly that, so he put them in his pockets. What had upset her so? He wondered.

Matthew walked quietly to the kitchen to get himself a glass of water. As he turned on the tap, Mia stirred. She looked over to see him.

"I didn't know you were here." She said her voice groggy and hoarse. Matthew watched as she wiped her tears away.

"I just got in." Matthew told her.

He watched as she picked up the tissues that had been scattered around her. Each movement was deliberate. Like she was forcing herself to gain control in front of him.

-----

Mia didn't know why he was still standing there watching her. It annoyed her. She had had enough today. Her best friend had gotten an opportunity of a lifetime, and here Mia was moping about Stacie going away. What kind of friend am I? Mia wondered once more. I should be over the moon that she got the job, Mia berated herself. I just don't want to be left behind...here...with him!

As she got up from picking up the last tissue, seeing Matthew still standing there with his glass of water, it grated on her nerves that he was still there.

Why is he still here? Mia thought, directing her unhappiness towards him.

"Why do you live in the dorms? Don't you have a huge house in Cheshire?" Mia asked the question that had been bothering her for ages. Matthew gave her a puzzled look, as though he hadn't been expecting her to ask him that.

Why couldn't he be somewhere else when she was feeling down? He's always around when I'm having an off day, Mia thought miserably.

"I do have a house in Cheshire, but some of its being rebuilt and extended. So I am stuck here for the time being." Matthew told her, all the while watching her with curiosity.

Oh...Mia thought dumbly. As she walked towards the bathroom to throw the tissues away, she heard Matthew speak.

"Since you asked your question, I'm going to ask mine. Why have you been crying?" His voice sounded concerned, or maybe her mind was making that up.

Throwing away the tissues, and washing her hands; Mia turned to face Matthew.

"I've not been crying...I have a headache...and my eyes are watery because it really hurts." She lied. He looked at her as though he saw right through the lie.

Mia walked back to the couch and picked up her small stuffed pink elephant; her father had given it to her when she was little. It had always been a comfort when she was upset. She walked in the direction of their room.

"You still have stuffed animals?" His voice sounded as though he was teasing her, but not in a mean way. For the first time he sounded like he was trying to be liked by her.

Mia decided not to reply, she didn't feel up to talking to him. It wasn't any of his business anyway. She walked into their room and curled up in to a ball on her bed. A tear streamed down her face as she lay thinking about Stacie's pending departure. How was she going to get through this with out Stacie?

It was a while before she heard the front door open. Oliver's voice could be heard. Matthew was no doubt telling him that she had been crying. As she heard footsteps near the room, Mia shut her eyes, trying to feign sleep. She heard the mattress to the right of her creek. It must have been Matthew, since Oliver's bed was to her left. Whoever it was didn't say a word. She half expected Oliver to come in and say something, but it never happened, simply because after a while Mia had drifted off in to a dreamless sleep.

-----

Saturday morning, Matthew woke up early. Both Mia and Oliver were still fast asleep. Sitting on his bed he watched Mia sleeping form. She was still clutching that ridiculous pink elephant. He had heard her mumble in her sleep. The words had been hard for him to make out. Something had been clearly bothering her. She had re-scheduled his appointment again. She hadn't been acting like her usual self. Although Matthew didn't really know what she was like usually, he knew she wasn't always sullen and moody.

Oliver had been informed, of course. The last thing Matthew wanted was to be blamed for Mia's tears again. Too bad Oliver wasn't having much luck. Mia had been steering clear of them both.

"Do you know what's going on with her?" Oliver had asked, in exasperation, having tried to confront Mia to no avail.

"She's having a migraine…or so she says…" Matthew had replied.

"Okay well make sure you don't make it any worse." Oliver had told him pointedly.

"What! I'm not the cause of her migraine!" Matthew had rounded on Oliver.

"Maybe not…but you very well could be!" Oliver had told him, prior to heading out the night before.

Matthew watched as she turned over, in his direction. She looks beautiful asleep, Matthew thought. It only took seconds for him to comprehend what he had just admitted to himself. Cursing in his mind, Matthew clambered off of his bed and headed for the bathroom.

Stepping into the living room, Matthew heard the answering machine go off. He hadn't even heard the phone ring. Standing still, Matthew listened to the message.

"Hey Mia, it's me Stacie, I tried calling your cell but it's off. Anyway I just wanted to remind you that my flight leaves at 4:30 on Qantas airlines. I know you have the game and stuff, but if you can get away and drop by...I'd love to see you before I go. I'll be waiting in Heathrow Terminal 3. Anyway I'll call you when I get to Melbourne. Love you!"

The message ended.

So that's why she's sad, comprehension dawned on Matthew. Her friend was leaving and Mia was upset. Too bad she can't go, Matthew thought. Mia was stuck with him. Since he couldn't play and Mia had asked Felix to let him practice on the field within the building or the park; too bad Mia had been assigned to watch over him.

Matthew headed for the bathroom, deep in thought. It would be a shame for her too miss seeing her friend, he thought. He stopped, turning around, and headed for the machine. Matthew deleted the message.

-----

Mia sulked into the living room. Having gotten dressed in her team shirt and a pair of black track pants, she sat on the couch. Dinner with Stacie had been fun, until the end when Mia had realized it would be the last of their dinners together. It would be the last time they would hang out. When Mia had dropped off Stacie, she had driven aimlessly around town before heading for home.

Having avoided both Oliver and Matthew the entire day, she had tried to muster up a look of nonchalance. Oliver had looked like he was about to ask her something, but she headed for bed.

That's how she had been avoiding most of their conversations.

Mia leaned over to reach the answering machine on the table next to the sofa. Maybe Stacie had left a message, she thought hopefully. She knew Stacie's flight would be leaving around four or something. That's when I'm stuck with him! Mia thought with irritation. Matthew was sitting on a stool eating his lunch at the counter. He hadn't said one word to her all morning.

Reluctantly, Mia pressed the button only to be disappointed. 'No new messages' the machine told her.

"Expecting a call?"

Mia turned to see Matthew watching her.

"No." Yes…but it's not any of your business, she fumed silently.

Turning back to face the television, Mia turned it on. Oliver had already left to join the rest of the team. Why is it that I try to help HIM and I end up stuck with HIM? How is that fair? Mia wondered once more, her anger directed at Matthew. She had only tried to be nice, but it had backfired on her. I wish I never said anything...

As she flipped through the channels, Mia stopped to look through the TV Guide. She looked to see the time. It was already one thirty. I won't be able to see her, Mia thought with another pang of sadness.

Sitting on the couch, lost in thought, Mia didn't keep track of time or of Matthew. So it was a surprise when she saw Matthew in similar clothes as her, with a jacket slung over his shoulder.

"Ready to go?" He asked her, standing by the door.

"What?" Mia said dumbly.

"You're supposed to come with me. Remember...Felix..." Matthew told her, he sounded as unhappy as she felt about having to go with him. He didn't need to be baby sat, and she wasn't supposed to be the babysitter.

"Right..." Mia said blankly, she grabbed her shoes and walked over to him.

"You need a jacket." He pointed out.

A jacket...right, that thing; Mia moved to the closet to grab a jacket.

As they headed into the parking lot, Mia instinctively walked towards her car.

"Where are you going?"

The question caught Mia off guard.

"To my car. Where else?" She asked him.

"I'm not sitting in some American muscle car. You're coming with me." He told her with glare. Mia scowled, wanting to argue but knowing him, he would probably win.

With a heavy sigh, she sullenly walked behind him; he motioned her to the passenger side. This was going to be one long afternoon, she thought with dismay. She waited for him to unlock the car, before getting inside.

Sitting in his car, Mia took little notice of her surroundings. Normally she would have been thrilled to sit in something so extravagant, but there was something more important weighing on her mind. She closed her eyes.

-----

Matthew glanced at Mia by looking into the rear view mirror. Her eyes were closed. What is she thinking? Matthew wondered as he returned his eyes to the road. He had felt a little nervous when she had checked the messages. He hadn't known how to broach the subject with her. What was I going to say? I know your friend is leaving, in fact I heard the message your friend left and I deleted it…that would be brilliant, he thought as he drove. Why did I delete it? He asked himself, not finding an answer.

She still hadn't opened her eyes, Matthew saw as he looked over at her again. Quickly he turned away, fearing that she would catch him watching her. He took the next exit, on the highway and headed in the direction of Heathrow. It was going to be a long while. How was he going to explain to her that he knew? Why am I doing this anyway? He asked himself. Matthew couldn't put a finger on it. I want her to be happy? Matthew almost choked on the thought. He quieted his thoughts as they drove along.

Urgh…what's wrong with me! Matthew thought frustrated with himself, as he saw the airport draw near. He turned in to the airport. This stunt would definitely shatter his cold image with Mia. He drove to the parking nearest to Terminal 3.

He parked the car and shut off the engine. How he was going to get away with this was beyond him. Pocketing his keys, Matthew cleared his throat.

"Let's go."

At once Mia's eyes opened to look out side, before turning to face him in confusion.

"What are we doing here?" She asked him.

"I have something to pick up." Matthew lied, saying the first thing that came into his mind.

"Oh…" Mia said; Matthew saw her eyes sadden.

As they got out of the car and headed for the building, Matthew saw her follow him in his peripheral vision.

He opened the door, allowing her to enter behind him. She was sulking again, he noted. Matthew fought the urge to tell her his plan. She would see soon enough.

Matthew paused for a moment. Mia stopped behind him, out of the corner of his eye; he saw her look around as though she was searching for someone. He glanced up at the monitors to see where her friend would be. Finding the location, Matthew started walking again, making sure Mia was right behind him.

As they reached the spot where passengers on the flight to Australia would be checking in, Matthew stopped near a pillar.

"What are we doing here?" Mia asked, looking over at him. Matthew leaned against the pillar, but before he could tell her another lie, a squeal sounded from behind Mia.

-----

"What are we doing here?" Mia asked, she watched as Matthew leaned against a pillar. He didn't look as though he would be answering her question any time soon. What exactly did he have to- Mia's thoughts were interrupted by a squeal she was all too familiar with.

"Mia!"

Mia turned on her heels, only to come face to face with Stacie. Looking at Stacie and then to Matthew, his face didn't give her any information. Mia tried to speak but when she opened her mouth nothing came out. Stacie looked thrilled to see her. Not being able to find words, Mia closed her mouth.

"You came! I didn't think you would be able to come. Oh and you brought him along too!" Stacie pulled Mia in to a big hug.

Mia couldn't believe the turn of events either. The whole time she had been brooding about not being able to come see Stacie off, and here she was.

"I'm so glad you got my message!" Stacie told her, as she let go. They walked to where Stacie's family was standing. Her family exchanged greetings with Mia.

"Message? What message?" Mia asked stopping in confusion, her words returning to her.

"I left a message for you. Your cell phone was turned off." Stacie told her.

Matt! Mia thought, as she looked over Stacie's shoulder to see the dark haired footballer look around at people passing him. Some of the people passing by did a double take, almost as though they recognized him. He leaned back against the pillar, his ice blue eyes met hers for a brief moment, and they weren't as cold as they usually were, before he turned to look away.

It didn't seem as though he was here to pick something up; more like let her see Stacie. He must have heard the message.

"Oh...that message..." Mia feigned, not having any idea what the message contained.

"So how did you convince the cold one to let you come?" Stacie asked, nodding her head in Matthew's direction.

"It's a secret?" Mia tried, not knowing how to answer that.

They were quiet for a moment.

Mustering up her words, Mia spoke quietly, hoping that her voice wouldn't break.

"Stacie...I'm really going to miss you. I hope everything goes well for you."

Stacie looked at her warmly. Mia knew her eyes were welling up with tears.

"Aww, Mia. I'm going to miss you too. It's going to be so weird without you. No more Friday night dinners together, or you screaming because of the thunder." Stacie laughed.

Mia gave a watery chuckle, as a few tears made their way down her cheeks.

"I'll be back in the summer, hopefully. Besides I'll still call you every day!"Stacie reassured her.

"I know." Mia said; she looked up to see Stacie with tears streaming down her face.

"Plus there is Christmas! Don't worry! We'll be alright...provided he doesn't run you out of England." Stacie joked, wiping her eyes with her sleeves. Mia laughed weakly.

An announcement was heard that the flight was boarding. Mia looked at Stacie.

"Looks like you're up." Mia said with a sad smile.

"Yea." Stacie said quietly.

"Don't worry…I'll be home for the summer. So take care of yourself and don't let Rossi over there get to you." Stacie told her wisely.

"I won't. Just enjoy yourself and take care. Call me when you get there?" Mia said at last. Stacie nodded in agreement.

She gave her friend one last hug, before Stacie left to say goodbye to her family. Mia looked on as her friend waved before getting into the line and getting through security. Stacie turned back to give them one last wave goodbye. Mia waved back. As Stacie disappeared from sight, Mia bade farewell to her family.

Making sure to wipe her eyes before turning around, Mia walked slowly to where Matthew was standing, hoping she could keep her face blank. He was still standing there leaning against the pillar; he was watching people walk by him, the picture of perfection. Mia was shocked at the thoughts in her head. Stacie would have gloated if she knew that she was right…I don't have any feelings for him, Mia tried to convince herself. I mean he hates me…and he treats me horribly…there's no way I could like him.

Maybe it didn't help make her case that as she walked closer to him, her heart beat faster. Keep it cool…I should be furious that he didn't tell me that Stacie called, Mia tried convincing herself.

-----

Matthew had watched Mia wipe her tears with the sleeve of her jacket. Had he brought any tissues with him, he would have handed one to her. No I probably wouldn't, he corrected.

He watched as she walked towards him. He couldn't read her face, it was expressionless. What are the chances that she knows I heard her message? He asked himself.

Mia walked up to stand in front of him.

"Did you pick whatever it was up?" She asked him.

Matthew knew he was caught, but tried his best to get out of it anyway.

"It didn't arrive." He told her, without directly looking at her.

"Did the wall tell you that?"

Matthew could have laughed, she was very observant. I should have walked to the front desk, he thought. He finally looked over at her. Although her face was blank, her eyes held amusement.

"You knew about Stacie's message." She told him. It wasn't an accusation; it was more like a statement.

Matthew didn't say anything. Instead he started walking towards the exit, her saw her follow from the corner of his eye.

As they walked into the parking lot, Mia hadn't said anything more. In the silence they walked to the car. He unlocked the door for her, and she quietly got in.

They drove away from the airport; Matthew glanced over to see Mia looking out the window. This time, he could see that although she wasn't thrilled to have let her friend go, at least she wasn't upset anymore. Matthew returned his attention to the road. They rode in silence.

It wasn't until he parked the car at the grounds that she spoke.

"Thank you." Mia said as she got out of the car. Matthew looked up to see her. Their eyes locked. This time Matthew didn't break contact. She had helped find a way for him to cope with the red card...he was trying to return the favor.

"Now we're even." He told her.
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Andene

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