An Unexpected Life
"I have lost two great loves in my life. One was taken from me. The other left me of his own volition and never looked back. I am not sure which one hurt more." –McCall. A series of letters written by McCall to Hunter as she deals with a complicated time in her life. The lesson she learns, though, is that you cannot always believe everything you are told. The story begins toward the end of season 5, post "The Last Run."
May 21, 1989
It's been over a month since the last time I talked to you, six weeks since I last saw you. I have tried calling a couple of times – Charlie gave me the phone number where you are staying in Miami. I hope you aren't too mad at him for that. He is not very good at dealing with crying women, and I am sorry to say that I did use that tactic on purpose. I think he feels sorry for me. It has been tough going to work every day without you there. Your desk is still unoccupied and I am still without a partner. I'm beginning to wonder if Charlie cannot find anyone willing to partner with me. Maybe everyone is worried that they can't fill your shoes. I guess that is probably true. I am not much help either, I will not choose one for myself because I refuse to give up on you.
I was really hoping that I could talk to you, that I could tell you my news myself instead of leaving it on an answering machine. I finally gave up hope that you were going to return my calls, though. You do understand that I had to tell you, even if it was in a message.
I get that you do not want me in your life anymore. You made that clear when you called me last month. I am confused by the sudden turn of events, but I respect your feelings all the same. I knew there was a risk in changing our relationship from strictly platonic, to, well, something very not platonic. I guess I was naïve to think that our friendship was strong enough to weather a failed romantic involvement. I am realizing the hard way that "we" meant more to me than it did to you.
We made a baby, Rick. I'm scared to death, but that little phrase makes me smile. We made a baby. You can do the math – one weekend together six weeks ago – that makes me about eight weeks along. I never actually thought about having a child with you, I mean we were barely lovers before it was over, but now I cannot imagine being pregnant by anyone else. It seems perfect, you know. A little piece of us lives on, even if 'Hunter and McCall' no longer exists.
I love this baby. I want this baby with every fiber of my being. You may be gone, but you left me a parting gift. I finally get to be the mother I always wanted to be. It's not the perfect situation, but I can deal with it. It's not the first time I have contemplated being a single mother, as I am sure you remember.
I realized I was pregnant a little over two weeks ago. One morning I woke up and nothing fit. It was the weirdest thing. Out of the blue I could not button my pants, not that I'm showing yet, my whole body just seemed to swell up overnight. It was certainly strange since I will admit to being a bit depressed lately, and having very little appetite. How could I possibly be gaining weight? When the nausea started later that afternoon I knew something was going on. Nine positive home pregnancy tests later, there was no denying it.
I know you never really wanted children, so I'd never force you into being a father. If you do not want us in your life, which it appears you do not, I will respect that. Although, I am not giving up hope that maybe, just maybe, someday you will love our child even if you no longer love me.
I'm still not used to you being gone. For six years you were my best friend, the person who kept my secrets, the person who always answered their phone when I needed someone to talk to at 2am. I hardly know what to do with myself these days. I have so many things to share with you, so many things I want to tell you and yet I can't. So I decided to write it all down, in a way I guess I am pretending that I am talking to you. I do not actually plan to send this letter, out of respect for your wishes, but writing it has helped me feel a little less alone.
I hope everything is going well for you in Miami, and that this new position with the MPD is everything you were hoping it would be.
June 7, 1989
I heard the heartbeat today! My first doctor's appointment was this morning. I am ten weeks along now. I was able to see the baby on the ultra-sound. I am amazed at what you can see at only ten weeks! And the heartbeat…strong and steady and perfect. It's real. There really is a baby growing in there, and he or she is perfect. Can I admit to you that I cried? So far, all I have felt is morning sickness. There's no kicking, I'm not showing, I am just sick and exhausted all the time. ALL THE TIME. Seeing the baby and knowing it is real, it was so very overwhelming.
Ok, so things are not exactly perfect. I'm losing weight instead of gaining. Morning sickness is whipping my butt and I have yet to figure out why it's called morning sickness to begin with. In my case it's all day long, never relenting, pretty much sucking the life out of me sickness. I am trying to eat when I can and I am following all of my doctor's suggestions. Hopefully this will pass soon. You should see the lengths I go to trying to hide this, but I'm probably not as successful as I think I am. Charlie has been asking questions, he must be suspicious. I started out with the excuse that I had a stomach bug….a stomach bug that has lasted five weeks now. Yeah, the rumors are probably starting to fly.
I finally got assigned a new partner – a rookie detective who is too preoccupied with trying to prove he's the best detective ever to grace the streets of LA…with his very first case…to even notice how often I disappear to the lady's room. (Or behind the car or around the corner of a building or that strange little alcove in the parking garage that we always thought would make a great hiding place for a mugger. That alcove is now home to the remains of yesterday's lunch when I just couldn't make it into the first floor restroom fast enough.) I am really not in a position to be training some new hotshot right now, but he is overly eager for a good report from me and is willing to do anything I tell him. Thank goodness, too, because the sterilized death smell of the morgue sets my stomach off as soon as I open the door. He accepts every one of my excuses for skipping out on those trips to morgue without hesitation, and that right there tells you what a fabulous detective he is not.
So far nobody else knows. I am not ready for the questions, the assumptions, the knowing looks I'll get from the rest of the squad. I am also not ready to be chained to my desk, of course.
It's getting late and I feel a wave nausea coming on, so I am going to try to fall asleep before dinner makes a second appearance.
June 14, 1989
My doctor has me coming into her office weekly to check my weight. The good news is that I have not lost any more weight. The bad news is that I have not gained either. I am eleven weeks now. One more week and I will be in the second trimester. Everything I have read says the morning sickness and the exhaustion is supposed to subside after the first the trimester, fingers crossed. I am really tired of drinking ginger ale and ginger tea. I never want to taste ginger again.
I am working a case with Brad and Kitty right now. Yep, you guessed it, another rape-homicide. My favorite…. Working so closely with Kitty, she recognized my symptoms pretty quickly. I have no doubt she has also figured out that you are the father, but she has never asked. It's nice that someone knows, nice to have someone I can talk to now. She has been a good friend, and Lord knows I need one right now. She even covered for me a couple of days ago. I was so tired I was falling asleep during an interrogation, so I skipped out early to go home and sleep. Apparently Brad and Charlie think I spent the entire afternoon tracking down a potential witness that doesn't even exist.
People still ask me about you all time. Everyone is assuming that we keep in touch. It's a hard question for me to answer. When I plaster a fake smile on my face and respond 'I haven't talked to him' they just keep looking at me waiting for some explanation. That's when I turn around and walk away, not giving them an opportunity for additional questions.
I told my mother that I'm pregnant. I am sure you can imagine how that conversation went without me telling you, so I won't.
June 20, 1989
Well, Charlie now knows that I am expecting. I had been planning for weeks how I would tell him – what I would say, how much I'd tell him, what kind of tone I would use. I had decided to be cheerful, give him the news as if I had been trying and praying for this baby for years. It wouldn't be too hard, you know, I am honestly happy and excited about having a baby. I tried to imagine how he would react and what questions he would ask. I definitely wanted to be prepared for THE question – is the baby yours. The way it all unfolded, however, was not at all what I had in mind.
I was in Charlie's office going over my case with him, and when I got up to leave I collapsed. I told you I thought he was suspicious, well fainting in his office confirmed it. He rushed me to the hospital and stayed with me for several hours. You would be proud of him, he was gentle and caring while keeping me company, the same way you always were on the various occasions I found myself in the hospital. It's a shame his marriage did not work out, Charlie would have been a great father.
I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, a fancy name for severe morning sickness. Hmm, yes, I could have diagnosed myself with that. Despite all my efforts, I was dehydrated and malnourished and spent the next 24 hours on IV fluids.
I feel like a failure. I failed in caring for my child. The baby is small for as far along as I am. He (she) is not getting enough nourishment to thrive since I have been unable to keep food down for the past few weeks. There is a very strong chance I will miscarry.
My mother is with me, helping me out while I am on bed rest for a few days. All I can do now is wait. Wait to see if our little one is going to make it. I have no doubt he or she is a fighter. You are the strongest person I've ever met, physically and mentally. See, right here is where you would tell me that I am, too. And then I would get embarrassed and change the subject before things got too serious or too emotional. I could really use your strength right now…and a well-timed, but wholly inappropriate joke. I cannot remember the last time I laughed, an honest to goodness laugh.
I am doing everything I can to save our baby. I can't, I just can't lose him. I don't know how you can become so attached to something you can't see or touch, but you can. Maternal instinct I guess. He's my little buddy. It's just me and him, the two of us together facing an uncertain future. It's been less than three months, but I already cannot imagine my life without this little one with me. As you can see I have started thinking of the baby as a boy. Maybe because I picture a tiny you every time I dream about holding him.
Sleep, I am supposed to be sleeping. At the hospital I was told that I am also suffering from exhaustion. That seems impossible since I fall into bed as soon as I get home every night and sleep until the nausea wakes me up sometime in the wee hours of the morning. In any event my mother will have my hide if she finds me writing instead of sleeping.
July 11, 1989
I am still pregnant! 15 weeks already, can you believe it?! Four days of bed rest and having my mother around to cook and offer some moral support apparently did wonders for me. I am still struggling with the morning sickness, but it is getting better. I had a follow-up appointment with my OB last week and I have gained three pounds. It's not a lot, but it is something. The baby's heartbeat was stronger than it was at the hospital after I had fainted, and he has grown – all wonderful news. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are headed in the right direction.
I have started calling the baby Baby H. I was tired of saying 'he or she' all the time, and I absolutely refuse to say 'it.' Obviously, the baby's last name will not be Hunter. I would never do that without your consent, but to me he or she will always be Baby Hunter. And, come on, only a Hunter could make me this sick ha!
Watching you eat rabbit food all these years has finally served a purpose, turns out I learned a thing or two from you about eating healthy. I have been trying to eat better ever since I found out I was pregnant, but after our scare I am pulling out all the stops. You would not recognize my refrigerator. So maybe broccoli isn't all that disgusting after all. I still refuse to eat kiwi on my pizza, though. I have to draw the line somewhere.
I am officially on desk duty now. Charlie and I had a long discussion about my future as a cop. I cannot continue as a homicide detective and be a single mother. It looks like I have a couple of options, though. First, there is a new position being created called a Crime and Investigation Analyst. In a way it sounds like I would be doing similar work to what I am doing now, except that it is 100% a desk job and lots and lots of reports (you know how much I LOVE typing reports). It is a civilian position and feels like a safe option. Then, the academy is looking for a trainer for the sex crimes course. I certainly have the experience do teach that, but not sure I can really deal with that topic day in and day out. The job that interests me most is CPS investigator, but of all the options this one is the least likely to be nine-to-five. Thank goodness I still have a few months to decide.
Your mother called me last week; she was asking about you. She has not heard from you in months, and like everyone else, assumed I had. She sounded truly worried about you after hearing that you were not speaking to me either. I did not tell her about the baby, that is your option, but it was so hard not telling her that she is going to be a grandmother. It would make her so happy.
I am worried about you, too. Charlie, however, says you are doing well. He seems to be the only one in contact with you. This is not the first time I have gone to Charlie asking about you. Early on, I went to him questioning the phone number he gave me. I was hoping that you had changed numbers or moved or something, anything that might give me hope that you had not received my messages. That your radio silence was from lack of knowledge instead of lack of care. With pity written all over his face, he assured me that the phone number was correct.
You need to call your mother,
July 22, 1989
I'm showing! It's the tiniest of little bumps, nobody will be able to see it under my clothes, but it's there. Finally. I have been longing for some sign, beyond the horrid morning sickness. This also means Baby H is growing! This could be premature, but I feel like I can breathe again. I did not realize until now that I wasn't breathing, that I have just been a big ball of anxiety waiting for next shoe to fall.
I know that soon enough I will not be able to hide my expanding waistline, and that will bring a whole new set of challenges. Until then I am going to enjoy this little bump, a little something to run my hand over and remember. Remember that I have somebody that depends on me to be strong, to keep pushing, that my life has a purpose. Remember the love that created that little growing bump. You said that you lied when you told me you loved me, but it was love when we made Baby H. I am sure of that. And for that brief moment in time my world was beautiful.
August 5, 1989
18 weeks and I am getting bigger every day. I am still able to hide it pretty well although my cheeks and my hips are starting to get a little plump. Except I am sure that Bob and Frank have noticed that my chest is bigger since they stare in that general area every time I talk to them. Humph.
I was reading a few nights ago that Baby H is now the size of a sweet potato. What a funny thing to compare him to. I am hungry all the time now, a wonderful feeling! The nausea is not completely gone, but it tends to only pop up when I haven't eaten in a while. There are lots of not-so-fun symptoms going on, as well, but I will skip over those. I doubt you want to hear about them anymore than I want to tell you, so I will spare you the details. My body is definitely changing and finding ways of coping with my little invader.
So…I have a big announcement….I am no longer an LAPD detective. Shed a tear with me? It is painful to even say it. I took the civilian crime analyst position, which I started last week. You know how every time I experienced a traumatic event (the rape, getting shot, etc.) I had an almost desperate desire for normalcy? I think this job will give me that feeling as my personal life is in a constant state of chaos. I am still part of the Central Division, still working at Parker Center, still working with detectives and helping to solve cases. It is an entirely new position, so there is an opportunity to create and mold this into something really beneficial. There is a substantial amount of training, which will probably fill the remainder of my pregnancy. I will be doing some travel, as well, in the near future while I still can. There is a conference in Washington, D.C., that I will be attending soon. I will be working under Lt. Kyle, did you ever meet him? He is a good man and is sympathetic to my situation. He has two children himself, the second is just a few months old. He understands the demands of young kids, being yoked to daycare hours, all the various illnesses and doctor's visits. He is also supportive of my request to take the full twelve weeks allowed for maternity leave.
Now the down side is that I took a pay cut. Between the maternity leave and daycare, it will be a financial struggle. The important part, though, is that I have a safe and stable job and that I can be home with Baby H as much as possible. There is also very little chance I will ever again be on disciplinary leave without pay, so there is that. Remember how it used to seem like we were always under some kind disciplinary action? It has been a while, though, since either of us has been on forced leave hasn't it? When did we become rule abiders and responsible adults? Oh, that's right, when we got old. In any event, I better lose all of the baby weight and fast because my wardrobe budget is taking a pretty serious hit.
I allowed myself to walk through the baby section at a department store for the first time. So many women talk about drooling over all the adorable clothes and having the nursery completely decorated the moment they find out they are pregnant. I have almost been scared to even look at baby stuff, as if there is still a chance I will lose him and buying or even just dreaming about the stuff would be too much to bear. It's a ludicrous thought because I could not be more attached to Baby H than I already am. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about pregnancy and birth and babies. I guess I feel a need to prepare myself mentally before I start preparing physically, you know. Oh, but seeing the cribs and swings and blankets and the teeny tiny clothes makes it really hard to contain my excitement. I picked out a little newborn outfit, a jumper that was baby blue with white stripes and a football on the front, and I was equal parts marveled that in a few months I will be holding a tiny person small enough to fit in this outfit and horrified that I will be birthing something large enough to fit in this outfit.
Your mother called me again, your phone call to her made her very happy. She wanted to let me know that you are well, and I was glad to hear it. She did not say much more than that in regards to you, and I did not ask. If you wanted me know about your life now, you would tell me yourself. We spoke for a long time, it was really nice to talk to her. She has always treated me like a daughter, and I thank you for bringing her into my life. She never did bring up the baby, so I assume you did not tell her.
August 30, 1989
We are having a girl. A little girl! Pink tutus and bows and dollhouses and tea parties. I cannot wait. I was so sure Baby H was a boy. I had dreams of a miniature Rick running around the house and making messes in the backyard. Honestly, though, I have absolutely no idea what to do with little boys. Plus, with no other male around to help out with the boyish things, yes, I think having a girl is just perfect.
She (oh, I get to say SHE now!) is still growing and developing, a little behind schedule but catching up. Now that the morning sickness is gone we are both growing by leaps and bounds. This giant belly that appeared overnight leaves no doubt that I am indeed pregnant.
Kittens and glitter and butterflies and princesses, oh my!
September 2, 1989
I felt Baby H kick! Such a wonderfully strange feeling! You know what I did when it happened? I reached for the phone to call and tell you about it. It has been five months and I still miss you. You are still the first person I think of when I have a funny story to share, the first person I want to share good news with, the one and only person I want to share bad news with.
I am so confused about what happened to us. You just left. One day you were here and everything was great and the next day you were gone. How could your feelings for me change so suddenly? We have been best friends, been through everything together, know each other inside and out and you just woke up one day and decided you wanted me out of your life? Why didn't you tell me what was going on? You tell me you love me for the first time, all the while you are considering moving to Florida? None of this makes sense. I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble reconciling the man I knew, the man that I fell in love with, with the man who left.
You were the one person in my life that I trusted beyond a doubt. I trusted you would never hurt me, never. But you did. Our relationship was beyond petty arguments and misunderstandings. We talked about everything, there was no topic too embarrassing or too personal. So why didn't you talk to me? Did you think I wouldn't understand? You have never been a man to run away, you are strong and tough and the most confrontational person that ever lived, so I know you cannot be running away now.
Do you remember the things you said to me? Do you remember that night that everything changed? How we had been working really hard on that Grinaldo case, which had been emotionally draining. That Sacramento detective's daughter had been tortured and killed before we were able to find her, and then he turned his own gun on himself in front of you. It had already been a tough a case that had brought up a lot emotions, but after that you were really struggling. After spending that entire Friday doing the paperwork we picked up burgers and a bottle of wine for dinner to decompress at my house. It was something that we had done countless times, perfectly normal. But that evening was not normal. Although it was that detective's daughter that we were trying to rescue, we had been working under the pretenses that the woman was actually his partner. There were several moments throughout the case that we had contemplated what if it was one of us? How would we feel, what would we do, how would we react if it was us? Desperate. He was desperate, and we would have been, too. Sitting on my couch, after we had eaten and had had a glass of wine, you commented how you had identified so much with that detective. That watching him, you saw yourself if you were ever in that situation looking for me. But then we find out she was really his daughter. You said it made you question if maybe your feelings for me are further beyond professional than you even realize. I had been feeling the same way. Then you told me you might have done the same thing, suicide, if you had found me dead and tortured. That you wouldn't be able to live without me, especially with the weight of knowing you hadn't been able to save me in time. You held out your hand across the sofa cushions waiting for mine to meet it halfway between us. So I did. We sat there, holding hands, for a several long seconds. That could have been the end of it, one contemplative moment between friends acknowledging an affection for each other. Again, something not wholly out of character for us. But then you tugged my arm, just a slight little tug. Nothing pushy or insistent, just a quiet indicator that it was my decision to keep walking down that path or to stop. I took the invitation and moved closer, placing my hand on your cheek to turn your head and kiss you. I will never forget the feel of your smile against my palm or your sigh of relief against my lips. Do you remember this? What it felt like to kiss for the first time? As you pulled me closer and into your lap, deepening our kiss, the moment suddenly got real. I started questioning in my head if I was doing the right thing and if I was moving too fast. It had been such a dark, bleak couple of days – maybe I was just overly sensitive. That's when you broke the kiss just long enough to say, "Just so you don't have to ask, that is NOT my gun." It was as if you were reading my mind. The tension was broken. It was the craziest time for a joke, such a serious and emotional moment, but it was the perfect reminder of why I was there in your lap straddling you. I loved you, I loved us, and I didn't want to be anywhere else. I laughed, probably harder than the joke was worth, but I welcomed the comedic relief. I buried my head in your neck and hugged you tight, absorbing the moment. The smell of your skin. The feel of your pulse against my face. The sound of your breath as it tickled my ear. One of your hands toying with my hair at my nape and the other wrapped around my waist hugging me back. That was when you whispered that you loved me. I thought I was going to melt right into you until we became one person. I had never realized how desperately I wanted to hear those words from you. Joy spread across your face when I returned the sentiment. You cannot tell me that this happened to me alone.
We talked and laughed and joked all night, curled up and entwined with each other as if we were afraid to let go. You would think that we had no secrets left to share between us, but we reveled in this new found territory of topics; confessing secrets and telling stories that previously would have tripped the delicate balance of our friendship. We talked about the future, too. Our future. Where you lying when you told me you were ready to end our partnership because you wanted a romantic relationship instead? Our discussion on how long to wait before telling Charlie, how long we thought we could get away with being partners and lovers, and did we even want to try to do both or would it be too dangerous was purely entertainment for you? I wasn't entertained. I meant every word I said.
I poured out my heart and soul to you that night. How could you take my honesty and my sincerity, and turn your back on me without as much as an explanation? How could you not care? We spent six years caring about each other. Six years encouraging each other, pushing each other, consoling each other. Sitting at each other's hospital bedside, holding hands in ambulances, bandaging wounds, wiping away tears, and now that I need you most you abandon me.
Do you remember Saturday morning? Sleeping in late and lingering in bed, the lazy and sleepy love making. You made me pancakes for breakfast, although it was nearly noon. We took our pancakes, coffees and newspaper back to bed with us, where we spent the rest of the day. I never wanted that day to end. Sunday we walked on the beach and watched the sunset while wrapped up in a blanket, content to stay cuddled together long after the sun was gone and the inky blackness of the water was all we could see in the moonlight. I didn't know exactly where we were headed, if we would last, if marriage was something you would ever consider, but I didn't care. We were together and we were happy. It felt right.
Monday came and it was a little awkward at first, but soon enough the routine nature of our jobs took over and our professional rhythms fell into place. As the day progressed, however, you became increasingly distant. I kept telling myself that you were just overcompensating, like a rubber band pulling in one extreme trying to hide the other. By the time I was ready to leave for the day I could not even find you. You showed up at my home late that night, preoccupied and stressed. You would not tell me what was going on, but do you remember what you did say? You told me you loved me. You kissed me; a knees weakening, butterflies in my stomach, take my breath away kiss. As you held me right up against you, you begged me to never forget that you will always love me. Well, Rick, I haven't forgotten. Maybe that is why letting you go seems like an impossible task.
That was the last time I saw you. I had assumed you had gone undercover. We each had a couple of cases that we working independently at the time, and Charlie seemed to be in the know of your whereabouts although he would not give me any information. I was worried about you. It has always been difficult for me when I am not your backup – I just don't trust anyone else. More than a week later I finally heard your voice. I was so relieved that I nearly cried. That whole time I felt like a zombie, I was walking around and doing my job but I was barely living. My emotions were like a thin sheet of glass, holding strong as long as nothing bumped into me and shifted my careful balance. Your phone call shattered that glass. This was when you finally told me where you had been, about the new position in Miami. How you had flown there to interview, but things were happening so rapidly that you had already started working on a high profile case. That you would be moving to Miami permanently, but would not get a chance to come back to LA for your things for a while.
My whole world came crashing down around me as you told me our relationship was over, professionally and personally. I couldn't speak; I couldn't breathe. You said that you were wrong when you told me you loved me; that you realize now it was not love but a long-standing infatuation. You said you needed distance from me, and that you needed a life separate from me. The shock of it all paralyzed me. You said your peace, and then hung up without saying goodbye.
I have lost two great loves in my life. One was taken from me. I was able to grieve in public, and my pain was expected and recognized by those around me. The other left me of his own volition and never looked back. My pain is unknown to the world. My grief only allowed in my solitude, behind closed doors with a carefully painted façade of indifference. I am not sure which one hurts more.
I am hurt. I am frustrated. I am confused. But mostly, I miss you.
To be continued...
I have no idea what prenatal care was like in 1989, so I used what I know of today's standard. I otherwise try to be as accurate as possible to the time period. Chapter 2 coming soon!