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Breaking Down Barriers, Chapter Five

Chapter Five - Woman's Intuition

To tell the truth, he had no idea why he was nervous.

Okay, so he had more than a few ideas. He wasn't a mind reader, so he didn't know if Gill would reject him or not, or if he was even interested in the first place. Ivan had a pretty good idea of his effect on the younger man, that Gill was at least intrigued by his existence to name something, and could recognize that certain glaze your eyes get when...

Or maybe he was just nervous. No one really likes rejection.

The brunet swung a little harder than he should have with his sickle, whirling around from a shattered weed to slice off a leaf on one of his tomato plants. It was nearing fall and the weather was getting a bit cooler, but he knew that the crops he cared for so attentively would keep him company for a little longer.

Staring at the healthy green vines of the plant, he inhaled slowly and deeply. Or maybe I'm just nervous about what happens after. He had a few reasons to dread a relationship, even one he'd been wanting for a long time.

Men were greedy, greasy, horrible little creatures. So were women, but he was just more interested in the dangly bits. And maybe they were a little less greasy, but more cut throat, and... Well, you get the picture.

But maybe three years or so before he came to the island Ivan had found a man who was a little less greedy, greasy, and horrible than the rest. His name was Duncan, a pretty funny, tall, confident kind of guy. Ivan didn't even know that he was gay, or else he would have asked him out months before then, until the funny, tall, confident guy leaned over their table in the library and waggled his eyebrows at him suggestively, making vague motions towards the door and wolfing down an imaginary drink. They were roommates in college, where he was working towards an English major. Duncan was never his own Heathcliff or Mr Rochester, but he knew him like the back of his hand and he was content, comfortable.

Ivan really thought that maybe they were perfect, or at least something close to perfect. A taste of something so amazing, so breath taking that sometimes you just had to stop and think about how blessed you are to have this person.

And it he never expected it to be a sham. A trick, a dream, a lie. How quickly he could think he was cursed after thinking that he had the most wonderful man in the entire existence of the world.

It was his junior year when he found Duncan, a messy tangle of limbs and dark brown hair twisted with the body of a woman in their own dorm room, his haven where he could spend hours with Duncan and his studies. The pain that ripped through his heart was like no other he had felt before; it was something akin to having your insides ripped out and played with right in front of you, a kind of feeling that someone else had control of your body and was taunting you with it.

Then, at that moment, Duncan had his heart gripped in the softest hands he'd ever known, squeezing it and grinning mercilessly.

To be brief, it hurt. A lot.

And although Ivan knew Gil was nothing like Duncan, who was actually a greedy, greasy, horrible man who only wanted him for his notes and his money, it didn't make him any less apprehensive. When you know the pain of having your so called love take you and stomp all over you, you'll never forget it.

I think you know whether or not you'd be doing the wrong thing, just because you read people so well
. Chase's words rang in his ears and he sighed heavily.

He knew what he needed to do. He needed to move on, and Gill would be a perfect example of what Duncan wasn't. To learn from his mistake...

But he supposed it wasn't really a mistake.

"You work here so often, it's like you don't have anything else left to do, Ivan," Elli drawled, her gaze out the window. She was sitting at a table by the window, sunlight pouring in and highlighting the soft curve of her round cheekbones. The baker really was a pretty woman.
The brunet laughed, walking over to ruffle her shoulder-length hair. "You dreaming about your doctor in there, Elli?"
"Doctor, right," Gill snorted, crossing his arms. He leaned against the counter behind him. It was another slow day, though the only real business they had was from Ivan himself. He was still trying his best to get the mountain plot. "I'm sure that he just makes sure that your nose is clear and that your coloring is normal and calls it a day."

"I resent that!" The reply was half-hearted, devoid of the force it took to make the retort effective. Elli sighed wistfully, playing with a few strands of brown hair. "And he is a real doctor, Gill. I was his nurse, you know."

Ivan grinned and elbowed the woman. He lifted an eyebrow and winked at her. "You were his nurse, eh? Does that come with the whole short skirt and hat, too?"

Elli flushed and pushed the rancher away from her. He burst into laughter as she spluttered indignantly. "I-I'll have you know that I wore this same outfit when I worked at the clinic!"

Ivan waved a hand at her, wandering away from the window. "Sure, sure." He reached a bookshelf and stopped, resting a hand on the top of the wooden surface. Brown eyes drifted to the blond wiping the counter, his eyebrows drawn together and set with determination to remove the dust particles only he could see. A smile made its way to his lips and he said absently, "Hey Elli, could you excuse us for a moment...?" Gill's head shot up at his request and from Ivan was standing he could see a blush color his ears.

The baker giggled and the screech of her chair filled the room. Her long skirt swished as she started up the stairs. "No problem, Ivan. Just don't forget to tell me the details later, 'kay?"

The rancher waited a few moments, listening for her light steps up the stairs. About halfway through, he could tell that Elli wasn't moving anymore, only mimicking steps by pressing her feet against the stairs at a rate that gradually became lighter, resembling that of ascending steps.

"Elli," Ivan said firmly. The movement at the stairs stopped almost guiltily. "I know that you're still in ear shot, especially if you can hear me."

A beat passed as the words registered in the baker's mind. When he thought that they did, he heard her scramble up the steps, the sounds loud and hurried. It's good to know that she knows what I'm capable of.

His smile grew as he approached Gill, moving to stand casually against the counter the blond was currently staring at. A content sigh escaped his lips as he admired the stubborn man. Ivan watched as Gill turned his head away, refusing to allow the rancher to see his red face.

"Business is slow today," Ivan stated conversationally, lifting a hand to examine his glove. He picked at the fading white garment idly as he continued, "So I thought maybe you and I could go out for lunch...?"

Gill slowly turned his head to face Ivan, blinking softly. The corners of his mouth twitched and he could tell that he was fighting back a smile. It could be a giddy smile, a sarcastic smile, an amused smile, but at the moment, he didn't really care; just as long as it was a smile.

Blue eyes flickered to the side for a moment, God, where the hell did he learn to do this?, that small smile creeping to his lips. His eyelids looked heavier than usual and he appeared very enticing. Ivan held his breath, though something in the back of his mind told him that he had nothing to worry about.

The blond tilted his head back and Ivan's eyes followed the movement. His smile melted into a nonchalant smirk that resembled that of the rancher's usual expression before he replied, "Sure."

Ivan had told him to meet him under Daren's tree at one. Gill simply nodded in reply as he attempted to maintain his current aloof demeanor. The rancher had given him a quizzical look, which made him question his own method, before leaving with his signature wave.

On the inside, Gill was panicking.

"Elli!" he called out desperately, cupping a hand around his mouth. "Come down here!"
A rush of pounding steps flooded the room and soon enough the brunette was standing at full attention in front of him, her hands held behind her back. She looked almost innocent, but Gill knew better than to assume that she had entirely good intentions.

"Ivan just asked me out," Gill stated, throwing up his hands to emphasize his words, "And I don't know what to do! Should I dress up? Would that be overdoing it? Should I bring food? What should I do?!"

Elli tapped her chin thoughtfully.

"And don't think that I'm asking you because you're special. You just happened to be the closest female," the blond added quickly, looking away as he crossed his arms. He chanced at quick glance at her and she was smiling knowingly.

"You could dress up, seeing as you wear that outfit almost everyday," she said slowly, still pondering on the situation at hand.

"Hey!" Gill exclaimed indignantly, a blush rising to his cheeks. His indignant state caused him to unfold his arms to gesture vaguely, something he did when he was panic stricken. "I happen to like this outfit, okay?"

The baker ignored him, reaching out to place her hands on his shoulders. He dropped his arms at his sides, eyebrows drawing together as he regarded her curiously. "What are you doing?"

A hiss of breath hushed him impatiently as she turned him around. Gill swallowed thickly at the feeling of being closely scrutinized, complying mutely by walking a full circle. He felt like the fashion models that Elli used to watch when she babysat him. Goddess, is she taking advantage of my whole "gay" thing?!

After turning a full 360, Gill swatted the hands on his shoulders away, huffing quietly. Elli offered him a slightly concerned look, but the blond merely lifted his chin defiantly. A shrug rolled through her shoulders and she took a step back to examine him from a different angle.

Gill opened his mouth to say something, but Elli interrupted him by grabbing his wrist and pulling him through the arch attached to the counter. He almost tripped on her long skirt as she dragged him out of the building. A frown pulled at his lips; he didn't like the feeling of being controlled. Tugging hard, he broke free of her grip and slowed down, demanding,
"Where in the world are you taking me?"

"Home, of course," Elli stated, rolling her eyes. She sighed impatiently. "What, are you afraid that we might miss a customer? We have almost no business. If it makes you feel any better, you can put a "gone to lunch" sign by the door."

Throwing his head over his shoulder, Gill spared the town hall a glance and slumped in defeat. She was right, and he was being childishly stubborn. They shared a tight relationship, and if he trusted anyone, it would be Elli.

"Sorry," he muttered lowly, extending his hand so that she could grab his wrist again. Elli smiled softly, patting the top of his hand instead of taking it.

"Let's just go," she said, her voice demanding nothing. The usual sweet Elli, almost as sweet as the cakes she baked.

Gill followed her to his home. His father wasn't home, as he was taking his normal stroll through the island, so the two co workers had the place to themselves. Being completely honest to himself, he had no idea why there were there, so he merely stood dumbly in the doorway. Elli pushed past him, heading towards the stairs.

"Come on!" she yelled, continuing her path to his room, "I have to go through your wardrobe!"

Blue eyes blinked. Oh. Right. Gill hurried to join her, managing to catch up just in time to see her open the doors to his closet. His room was neat and tidy; a single bed sat near the window, which was closed against the cool fall winds; a desk sat adjacent to the bed, neatly organized so that paper was on the left and pens and pencils were on the right; a bookshelf sat near the bed, housing all of his town history books; and finally, the closet was in the wall near the foot of his bed, the white doors reflecting a bit of the light that spilled in through the window.

Elli wasn't the tallest person in the island, and Gill had to admit that it was slightly amusing to see half of her upper body shoved into a huge closet. Not that he had a lot of clothes, he just liked to be... prepared.

The blond leaned casually against the wall near the door, watching her bustle from one end of the closet to the other. She would occasionally pull one shirt, examine it, then put it back in, repeating the process several times. Raising his left wrist, Gill glanced at his watch. He had about half an hour until he had to meet up with Ivan, so he let the baker take her time.

"Okay," Elli said from her position half in the closet and half out, her voice muffled, "You have a lot of dress shirts and matching pants. It's kinda creepy and organised."

A blush started to rush up his neck and Gill fought hard to somehow magically stop the blood from reaching his cheeks.

"But it's okay," she continued, pushing through a couple of jackets. Gill was glad that she couldn't see him struggle with his body. "Last time I checked, being casually dressed up looks good. As long as you avoid tucking your shirt and loosen up a few buttons, you'll look fine."

The blond was about to complain about how he didn't tuck his shirt often, what in the world was she talking about, when she turned around with a handful of shirts, vests, jackets, and pants and placed them on the bed in front of her. He could feel his eyes widen in disbelief as she placed her hands on her knees and exhaled slowly. It did look a little heavy for the slim woman.

"Okay," she drawled, the word sounding bland after being used for the third time, "I have decided that tight clothes might be good for you."

"What," Gill blurted, the blood draining from his face. He hugged his arms self-consciously. "B-B-But you kn-know, he probably has a much better body than I do, why would you even consider--"

"Oh shut up, diva," Elli hissed, annoyance coloring her tone, "I know what I'm doing. You have a good body, Gill, no time to get worried. Besides, you have a nice ass, much to your advantage."

Just as quickly as it had gone, the blood rushed back to Gill's face in a bright blush. Goddess, I have to stop doing that.

The sleeves of Elli's blue dress disappeared under the piles of clothes laid on the bed as she sifted through the many garments littering the mattress. Her mouth twisted wryly, mumbled words spilling from her mouth, "But what colors, what colors... You wear too much blue. Hmm... You're pale-ish, so I guess black would be good..."

A frown tugged at the corners of Gill's lips, Elli's mutters drifting into his ears. I do not wear too much blue.

Before he could object, Elli threw a black shirt at him. It hit him square in the face, one of the buttons clicking softly against the teeth of his open mouth. Still frowning, he held up the shirt daintily, as if the fabric would crumble if he didn't handle it with care. It was cotton, slightly wrinkled, and by the slimness of its shape, he figured it would hug his torso. Biting back another frown, he looked over the shirt to stare incredulously at Elli.

"Are you serious?" he asked, his eyebrows drawing together to fit the perfect picture of confused disbelief. The baker refused to answer and threw a white vest at him. He barely managed to catch it, fumbling clumsily with the other garment in his hands as he fought to right himself. This garment was similar to the vest he was wearing now, though it wasn't quite as long. It had a pure white front and a black back.

It's a tad simple, Gill mused, looking it over. He squinted at it scrutinizing, turning it over in his hands. And it's been a while since I've last worn this. Lifting the vest, he brought it to his nose to take a good whiff of it. Eh, still good.

When Elli threw a pair of dark jeans at him, he was prepared for the attack. With the other two articles of clothing on his arm, he caught the pants deftly. The baker spared him a smirk before brushing past him, patting his shoulder as she said, "Get dressed!"

She closed the door behind her carefully, the knob turning with a soft click. Gill stared hesitantly at the clothes in his arms for a brief moment, daring to question Elli's taste. He shrugged when the moment passed, throwing off his clothes in exchange for the new outfit.

I suppose I could trust her. She is a woman after all.

Gill wasn't the only one who dressed up. Ivan had ditched his entire farming outfit for a graphic shirt under a green button-up paired with straight-cut jeans, his bag hanging limply on his elbow. Inside were carefully packed lunch dishes and drinks, the containers clinking together when he moved.

With a quick glance at his watch, Ivan determined that it was currently two minutes to one. He had been standing there for about ten minutes and was trying his best to calm himself.

If anything, he'll find my nervousness humbling,
Ivan thought wryly, running a hand through his hair. So excuse me if I'm a little... early.

Well, he was little bit more than early, but he wouldn't admit it to himself. Taking a deep, calming breath, Ivan patted his hair back down. No need to get anxious now. He'd be lying to himself if he said he wasn't eager, standing on his toes to peer back on the main town, where he was sure he'd sighted Gill and Elli disappear to. Gill rushed out from the Mayor's home, combing his fingers through his light blond hair in a rushed manner. A smile lit up Elli's face and Ivan knew that she was laughing.

Daren's tree was a great place to rest his weight against he decided, pressing his back on the thick trunk. It was a little bumpy, sure, but it aided his usual cool, detached look as Gill huffed up the stairs to the Town Square. As he made his tired ascension, the rancher took the time to give him a once-over.

God, does he look fine in that
, Ivan observed, a dreamy sigh escaping his lips. The blond was close enough to hear it and he blushed, averting his eyes. I bet Elli helped him with that. That woman has a fine taste in men. I wonder what this Doctor Trent looks like?

"Hello," Gill greeted, his voice deceptively calm despite his ruffled look. The brunet bit his bottom lip at the sight. "I hope that it wouldn't be too much to ask about where we're to be having lunch...?"

Smiling secretively, Ivan leaned in to brush a lock of hair away from Gill's eyes. "Just somewhere over the rainbow."