Summary: What's Christmas without a little E/M cheer? Happy holidays!
December Picture Prompt:
He contemplated just sending it to her office. She might think it was a gift from a pro-bono client, and tuck it under her Christmas tree with the others. It would go unnoticed until she opened it and saw who it was from. He wondered how she'd react. Would she be angry that he'd remembered her at Christmas? Upset that she hadn't reciprocated, given their recent argument? Eli couldn't tell anymore. He used to be confident he could predict Maggie's reaction to most situations, but no longer.
In the end he decided to deliver the gift in person. Anything else would be cowardly. But he couldn't quite bring himself to go to the Posner and Klein offices – that would be crossing the line. He still felt it would be an affront to Jordan somehow. So instead he found himself at her door, working out what he was going to say before he knocked. He raised his knuckles to the wood a few times before withdrawing, each time deciding he needed a better opening line.
When he finally knocked, Maggie opened the door almost immediately, as if she had been waiting for him. Eli was surprised, and promptly forgot everything he was going to say. The look of shock on her face made him realize she wasn't expecting him, which caused him to suddenly panic. It wasn't until a split second later that he saw she was barefoot and in a pair of old jeans and an Ohio State sweatshirt, and guessed she wasn't waiting for a date to arrive.
"Oh… I thought you were the takeout guy," she stammered, her cheeks coloring as she did so.
Eli smiled, reassured by the fact that she seemed as nervous as he was. He hated fighting with Maggie, but that's all they seemed to do lately. He never set out to argue with her, in fact he was always happy to see her – more so than he liked to admit to himself. But invariably their conversation would head in a direction that ended with them yelling at each other, neither of them articulating what they were actually mad about.
It was a bad habit they had fallen into. He wanted it to change. It was another reason why he had come to her apartment.
"Sorry I didn't call first," he said. "I thought I'd just take a chance you were home."
"I am," she said unnecessarily, then smiled. "Come in."
Eli walked in slowly. He wasn't met with the Christmas wonderland he guessed might be lurking inside. He had always suspected Maggie loved this time of year. But her apartment was relatively unadorned with decorations, save the tree in the corner of her living room.
He finished surveying the room and his gaze fell upon her once more. She smiled hesitantly now, silently asking why he was there.
"I ah, I wanted to give you this," he said and pulled a small box from his coat pocket.
Maggie's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"Merry Christmas," Eli added, as if the festive wrapping didn't speak for itself. "I know it's a little early, but I figured you'd be heading home to Ohio soon and I didn't want to miss you."
"Thank you, Eli," she said, taking the box from him. She fingered its ribbon gingerly. "I'm staying here actually. I wasn't quite ready to face everyone just yet, not after the engagement party."
An awkward silence fell then Maggie grew flustered. "I haven't finished my shopping yet... I've been so busy with work. I haven't gotten you anything. I mean, I was planning to..."
"Maggie, don't worry about it. Aren't you going to open it?" Eli asked.
"Of course," she said quickly with a self conscious laugh.
She was careful with the bow before popping open the gift box lid. She let out a breath when she saw the crystal tree ornament inside.
"Eli, it's beautiful."
"I thought it was appropriate, you being the rising star at PK and all," he said, a little embarrassed himself.
"Thank you, I love it."
Her eyes met his again and she smiled. He tried to ignore the twist in his stomach when she did. Maggie didn't say anything else and Eli found himself unable to make small talk. There was so much unsaid between them but he couldn't go there either. Not now. Not when she was looking at him with those large eyes that always had a quiet yearning behind them. Her eyes made him wish for things that he shouldn't, made him almost believe they were there for the taking if he would just reach out...
But as usual he didn't. Instead he murmured that he should be going.
"Have you eaten?" Maggie asked quickly. "I ordered Chinese but there's always too much. You're welcome to stay."
"Oh... I don't want to intrude," he replied. He told himself he should just go. It would be easier on both of them if he did, of that Eli was certain.
"You're not. I was just going to have dinner and watch Working Girl. It's on the We Channel again for about the 1000th time. But it's sort of a tradition of mine."
"Yeah?" He feigned surprise. It wouldn't do to admit he'd been heading home to do the same, in all likelihood. Either that or end up camped out on Nate and Beth's sofa bemoaning his pathetic love life.
"Have you seen it before?" she asked.
"Working Girl? Yeah. Once or twice." Or five or six times, but who was counting. "Harrison Ford is the man. And David Duchovny's in it."
"You mean Alec Baldwin."
Maggie looked skeptical. "When?"
"At Tess's surprise party. Or something," he mumbled. It probably wasn't the best idea to sound so knowledgeable about it.
"I don't think so, Eli."
"Well, I guess I'll have to stick around to show you." He ignored the small voice in his head that urged him to leave. Instead he shrugged off his coat, allowing himself a small smile when he turned to hang it up by the door.
"Alright, I guess we'll see," she said.
Before they could settle on her couch there was a knock at the door and Maggie collected the takeout. She prompted Eli to turn on the TV in readiness while she retrieved some plates from the kitchen. They were soon eating Kung Pao Chicken and tapping their feet to 'Let the River Run', commenting about big hair and the promise that Melanie Griffith had before people realized she could only play one kind of character.
When Maggie spotted David Duchovny tucked away in Tess's closet she allowed Eli his victory. With a derisive grin she even handed over the extra fortune cookie. For the rest of the movie, however, she wore a faint smile which Eli didn't miss. The expression was mirrored on his own lips, and it had nothing to do with Joan Cusack's comedic talent.
He would worry about what it all meant some other time. For now they watched the screen in companionable silence. And, as always, silently cheered when the guy got the girl in the end.