Their remaining time in Gander passed in a blur. There were walks and talks and toutons and a subtle but definite shift between them. There was a closeness since returning from the airport that neither acknowledged, but both accepted. Neither strayed far from the other and there was a renewed physicality to their interactions that hadn't been there before. A gentle touch on the shoulder, a linking of arms, a not-so-accidental bumping of knees when they sat together, perhaps closer than was strictly necessary.
Nick never let himself read too much into it though. He didn't want to get his hopes up once more. Besides, this was an emotional time and she was probably just seeking comfort in this unfamiliar place. Best not hope for what isn't there, eh?
As they made their way on to the buses a second time, a quiet descended over them. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it was different.
That was one of the things Nick had first noticed about Diane, her ability to keep their conversation flowing. Where he tended to stammer and get tongue-tied, her easy conversation and gentle jokes helped assuage his discomfort. It was unusual for her to be so quiet. He wondered if she was ok. Perhaps she was nervous about flying – their last experience on a plane hadn't exactly turned out for the best.
Perhaps she was anxious to get back home to David. He knew that she had heard over the phone that he was alright, but that was different to seeing for herself that he was fine.
Perhaps she'd merely run out of things to say.
That tiny part of him that he'd found here on Gander – the brave part that kissed cod and danced and drank and held her hand on the tops of lookouts – wondered whether perhaps she wasn't feeling what he was feeling. Whether she had enjoyed this newfound closeness and would be sorry to see it go. Surely that was just wishful thinking. And yet…
Now that they'd settled onto the plane, he turned to take a closer look at her and was startled to see tears tracking silently down her cheeks.
He felt his heart reach out to her and wanted nothing more than to ease her sorrow and make her smile again. Before he knew what he was doing, he was reaching out to her and slid an arm around her shoulders. She turned into his chest with a shuddery breath and his fingers tightened around her shoulder as he tucked her head under his chin. As he held her close he felt her tremble against his chest and without thinking he pressed a soft kiss to her forehead.
At that moment, the plane jostled them together and Diane looked up at him in shock. He met her eyes and noticed her gaze flit down to his mouth and back. Her eyes glazed with a steely determination and before he knew it a pair of arms were once more wrapping around his neck and pulling him forward.
For a moment, everything froze. All Nick could feel was the warmth of two lips pressed against his own and the splash of Diane's tears against his cheeks. His brain stuttered in disbelief.
Diane was…kissing him. Him. Oh wake up, Nick Marson, you bloody fool! He thought to himself as he responded with delight, the arm around her shoulders pulling her closer and his other hand resting on her knee, clutching and pulling her close as his mouth moved against hers, barely able to suppress a smile.
After a while, they finally pulled apart - though Nick let his forehead rest against hers, a smile spreading wide across his face.
"I thought you missed, so I fixed it for you" Diane said, a rather pleased expression on her face.
"Well, I'm glad you did!" he laughed, pulling her close to kiss her once more.
"I mean, I missed out on kissing the fish, I wasn't about to miss out on kissing the Englishman once more" she teased.
"Wait…you….but I thought you didn't remember?" Nick gasped.
"It was a little fuzzy at first, but it all came back to me" she giggled. "Perhaps with a little help from Claude." She rummaged in her bag, pulling out a small bottle and handing it to Nick.
"He gave me this before we left today, said it might jog my memory".
Nick looked down at the nondescript flask before unscrewing the lid and taking a whiff.
Ugh. He leaned back instantly in disgust. Screech.
Diane laughed. "He told me everything that happened. Asked again if we'd like to be married." She blushed.
"I told him all in good time".
Nick beamed. As he gathered her up in his arms again and proceeded to kiss every inch of her he could reach, he couldn't quite believe his luck. What had started as an inconvenience, then a nightmare had somehow blossomed into one of the best things that had ever happened to him. As he and Diane melted into each other's arms, the time passed in a blur of hands and smiles and lips and closeness. They didn't even notice the flight attendant coming around with drinks and hot towels.
Fate had a funny way of working things out and Nick couldn't help but feel that right now he was exactly where he was meant to be.
All good things, right?