Inspiration: What if Bridget actually said something to Mark on their drive back home after the first trip to Rebecca's in Gloucestershire? (BJD: Edge of Reason, book universe)

On the drive back home from Gloucestershire, both Mark and Bridget were struggling with unspoken thoughts and desires, neither wanting to embarrass themselves with begging.

Mark had first-hand experience with a straying partner once before and felt that he had been unwise then by ignoring the obvious signs; somewhere in a small part of his heart that his brain was trying to over-rule he felt that this was not exactly the same thing, but his brain very logically laid out the evidence to the contrary. He was not going to beg her to stay with him, not after he'd already taken her for a romantic surprise Valentine's minibreak and taken this weekend off from work to spend time with her friends and told her he loved her, after only a month! He'd already made a big enough fool of himself if she was just going to get off with some young prat.

Meanwhile, Bridget was remembering all of her previous boyfriends and the times when she had cried or begged them not to chuck her. As much as she wanted to yell "Don't do this! She's trying to pinch you and it's all a plot. I didn't kiss St. John. I love you!" she was also afraid. She was afraid he'd leave her anyway, afraid that when all was said and done she'd feel even more of a fool for having thrown herself at him.

All too soon, they were outside of her flat. Mark hadn't said a word to her the whole way. And now was the moment where she had to get out of the car, but what to do? Should she just act aloof and icy in the hope that ... what would that really accomplish? Her hesitation caused Mark to look over at her with a questioning look. She took a deep breath.

"Look, Mark, I – I don't want to try to make you change your mind if you've already made it up," she paused trying to figure out where she was going with this, "but I really feel like you need to at least hear..." She could feel that she was flailing and was probably two seconds away from turning into a sobbing, pathetic mess. "Oh sod it, never mind!"

She was about to step out of the car when Mark stopped her, his hand on her arm, "Wait, Bridget, you're right, I never did hear your - well, that is, you started to tell me – er, what I mean to say is we were discussing things and Rebecca interrupted and I feel that perhaps there is more to say?" The end came out as a question and his voice was slightly higher than usual.

When Bridget looked at him – for the first time since getting into the car almost three hours earlier – she saw that his eyes looked sad and strained, maybe even blinking back tears? No, that couldn't be, but he did look sincere, like he did want to hear what she had to say. Bridget exhaled and also deflated; her attempt at the ice queen to save face all but gone.

In her exhaustion, she couldn't muster up the strength to be clever and simply opted instead to lay it bare for him: "Alright, look, I didn't kiss St. John," she saw Mark start to protest but rebutted before he had the chance, "you saw him kiss me, not the other way round." Gaining some steam again, she continued, "In fact, I don't think it was even an accident that you came in when you did. As I said before, it was all bloody Rebecca. She's been after you for a while now and -" seeing him about to interrupt, she forged ahead, "I won't stop you if you want to break up with me to go out with her, but I at least wanted you to know that I do love you and I did not kiss St. John, no matter what it may have looked like." There, she thought with resigned triumph, that may not have been perfect and of course now he'll go off with Rebecca, but at least I told him what really happened.

It took Mark a moment to process what Bridget had said. Normally, he felt rather pleased with his ability to take in and comprehend new information quickly but he often found himself at a complete loss when it came to understanding Bridget; although, he mused, perhaps this was one of the reasons he fancied her so much. Still, he couldn't help feeling the war between his heart and head; the one ready to forgive without delay and the other prepared to cross-examine her as a hostile witness, complete with evidence for her to explain away. He got stuck on the issue of Rebecca: "So, now, wait, what does Rebecca have to do with any of this?"

Irritation, aggravation, hurt, and exasperation all passed over Bridget's face before she huffed out a huge sigh and exclaimed, "Mark, I've bloody well told you! Rebecca fancies you! She's been trying to pinch you away since she first met you! I didn't even want to go to her damn 'country cottage' except you seemed so excited to go and I didn't want you to go on your own because then you'd be alone with her, and I knew something bad would happen, but I thought it would just be a lot of jellyfishes, not this! She planned the whole thing, no doubt, telling St. John we were splitting up and I fancied him and - argh!" She was babbling and getting worked up now, eyes filling with tears of frustration and hurt. She stopped herself instead of crying and embarrassing herself further.

Mark, who'd been frozen since hearing Rebecca fancied him, hardly listened to the last part. It had finally clicked for him that just as much as he'd been afraid Bridget was going off with "Sinjun" (even in his head he sneered the name), she was – apparently – afraid of him going off with Rebecca! Ha! Ludicrous thought, of course, but still, it meant that she cared... she did love him! He was about to turn and respond to her assertion about his supposed interest in Rebecca – absolutely preposterous – but when he looked her, once he noticed she'd stopped speaking, he saw tears brimming her eyes threatening to spill and she had begun to try to release her seatbelt.

He put his hand to stop her and quietly spoke, "Bridget, let's not have this conversation here. Can we go up to your flat maybe?" Her eyes were still a bit wary, and in truth, in her own mind she had mixed feelings about this plan, but she figured the damage was already done and at least maybe they'd get to shag one more time before he chucked her and it'd be a shame to pass up since, well, he really was a sex god, so she nodded her agreement.

Mark, ever the gentleman, grabbed her bag – but not his, she observed – from the car and carried it upstairs to her flat. Once inside, he put her suitcase down near the couch and stood awkwardly for a moment. Bridget made a gesture to the toilets and said, "Um, loo," quietly before darting off to splash a little water on her face and collect her thoughts.

Now that Mark understood that (1) Bridget still loved him, and (2) she was apparently afraid of him going off with Rebecca, he was better able to fit the other pieces together. And, being that he was a very smart man, despite being a bit naïve, they all clicked together remarkably suddenly once he had the general framework. Mark could have hit himself smack in the forehead! How could he have been so stupid to miss that she had been jealous and insecure? And Rebecca – well, that was another story! He felt a complete arse there, but he thought she was just another of Bridget's girlfriends and figured she would appreciate his willingness to spend time with her friends (and at least Rebecca had seemed supportive, as compared with Sharon and Jude...). He groaned, with his hand over his face as he recalled their Valentine's minibreak in a whole new light.

Bridget had stepped out of the loo and was just getting back to the living room when he groaned. Obviously not knowing what was wrong, she initially thought he was hurt or something and came over. "Mark, what's wrong?" Without thinking, she had put her hand on his shoulder. He spun at her touch.

"Bridget, I'm so sorry. This is my fault, I – I had no idea!" His hands were on her upper arms, not hurting her, but still quite firmly. "I didn't realize – I mean, I really had no idea that someone who called herself your friend would be so – so – underhanded. I thought she was helping, like with the Valentine's minibreak. She suggested it, told me about how you said you were a keen skiier and I thought it was odd when we got there that you'd never been, but I just assumed it was a mistake. Thinking about it, every time I ever spoke to her – and she kept turning up places I was at – she'd mention you or us, but I just didn't think -" Bridget stopped his rambling with a kiss and Mark, although temporarily surprised, was quick to reciprocate.

After a few seconds or minutes or hours of kissing, Mark, one hand on Bridget's cheek and the other around her back and splayed between her shoulder blades, pulled back slightly with a small smile, "Bridget, I love you too. And I'm sorry I doubted you. I've been -" he chose to avoid words like 'cheated on,' opting instead for, "hurt before and I think I may have been too quick to jump to the wrong conclusions." He stroked her hair gently and asked, "Can you please forgive me for being such a clod?"

Bridget – who thought she would spontaneously burst with joy at his earlier apology – now felt she was possibly melting into a puddle on the floor. Instead of answering with words – she wasn't even confident in her ability to articulate English words at this point anyway – Bridget kissed the tip of his nose and then each cheek and then, her lust getting the best of her, shifted slightly and pressed at first a gentle kiss on his ear, which soon became a nibble and then a lick... Mark chuckled softly as Bridget's kisses told him he was forgiven, "I'll take that as a yes..."

"Mmhmm..." was all the reply Mark got as Bridget tugged his hand and led him toward the bedroom.

A/N: I haven't written a lot of stories, so reviews and all feedback (constructive and supportive alike) is very appreciated! Not only does it make me feel good, but it helps me to improve. :)