28 Aug 2009

I confronted Ian right after the Director’s Meeting that afternoon. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Mitchie told me earlier during lunch, and I hated that I couldn’t get it out of my head since then. I wanted to talk to him right after lunch but he wasn’t at his desk and the next time I saw him was when I got into the Ecclesiastes Board Room. Ian usually comes in after me during the meetings because my desk is closer to the board room, but this time he was there before me. How he managed to pass by our area without me seeing him, I have no idea.

So as soon as the meeting was over, I took my chance. I grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the meeting room and all the way to the nearest vacant huddle room, ignoring the looks of Chiara and Melody, who we passed by in the hallway. I had to hand it to Ian though; no protests came out of his mouth as I pulled him away from everyone.

Once we reached an empty huddle room, I closed the door and turned to face Ian and demanded, “Are you spying on me?”

The look on his face as he processed my question was a look of utter beffudlement that I almost backed out of my questioning. But then his face showed some signs of recognition, and to my annoyance, he actually smiled.

“What is this about, Ruth?” he asked patiently.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know, Mr. Balboa,” I said, crossing my arms and glaring at him.

“Seriously, Ruth, what is it?” he asked again. He pulled a chair from the table and motioned for me to sit, but I ignored it. He then shrugged, sighed and sat down on another chair.

“Ruth, if you’ll be pulling me into huddle rooms just like that to ask me questions, I need to know why. I’m not a mind reader.” He looked at me again and there was that look. The one that feels like he was trying to read me but not in an arrogant or condescending way. It was the look he gave me when he was trying to figure out what happened between me and Matt, the one that eventually made me tell him what happened a few hours later. I found myself softening as he gazed at me, and I sighed, dropping onto the chair he pulled out for me earlier.

“Well?” he pressed gently.

Somehow, everything that I was annoyed about earlier felt like it didn’t matter anymore. I looked at him, met his eyes and said, “I talked to Matt earlier.

There was no hint of surprise in his features, just as I suspected. I wasn’t expecting that he’d nod, though, and confirm that he did see us earlier. “I didn’t know what to ask you when I saw you guys, so I just told Mitchie that I saw you with him.” He paused for a while, and just as I was about to speak, he spoke again, “I knew you’d talk to her about it eventually. I wasn’t spying on you.” Ian said the last part quietly, but with a small smile.

I found myself smiling back as I leaned back on my chair. The Monday is not yet over but I was already wishing for the weekend. I thought the emotionally draining days were over already, but it wasn’t. All this because of a stirrer. A stirrer!

I reached absently for the LAN cable that poked out of the little compartment on the table in front of us and fiddled with it while I tried to compose what I was going to say next. There was nothing else I could think of saying to Ian, though, except, “I’m sorry.”

Ian chuckled. “It’s okay. You sure have a very strong grip.” He rubbed the arm I grabbed earlier and mock-winced, and then looked at me expectantly.

“Har har,” I said, trying not to smile, but failing. Ian’s smile grew wider as I did, and he reached over to pat my hand comfortingly. Somehow, this action made my face heat up, and I pulled my hand away hastily.

If it was too hasty, I didn’t see Ian notice it, because he just leaned back in his chair and looked at me carefully and asked if I was okay.

I shrugged. “Just tired.”

We fell silent after that. Ian’s a good friend that way; he doesn’t always ask too many questions, and we never had awkward silences, at least until after that night when he rescued me from my date’s the jealous ex. He’s always been there for me ever since, and his concern for me and the people important to me is touching, and is something I don’t understand sometimes. I never asked any questions though, and even if it’s been only a few months since we’ve gotten closer, I can’t imagine going through a day now without seeing or talking to him. Even if he can drive me nuts sometimes.

“Do you want to go back out to the office now?” Ian’s voice interrupted my thoughts. I blinked and focused at him, and he still sat there, looking at me. I nodded, and we stood up, and made our way to the door.

Ian reached for the door knob and was about to turn it but stopped when I put a hand on his arm and motioned for him to stop. There was something else I had to know before we go back. He looked at me questioningly but waited patiently for me to speak.

“I have one question,” I said. “Why did you tell Mitchie? I mean, other than knowing I’d talk to her. You could have just asked me about it, or just not mention it at all. Why?”

It was a stupid-sounding question, I know, and it’s really something I shouldn’t bother to ask…but something in me wanted to know. And if I knew Ian right, I knew he’d answer this one. How truthfully, I have yet to know.

Ian shrugged. “I care for you. That’s why.” With that, he gave me one more smile and opened the door.

[1036 words]

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