In All The Ways We Say Goodbye (and the one time we say hello)

2012:

"Don't follow me."

Bay doesn't say goodbye after Emmett's confession. She storms off, and he lets her. He lets her because he's afraid of what will come next. Perhaps afraid is too light of a word. Terrified is more like it. Even if Bay forgives him, he knows what happened tonight, what happened that night with Simone, changes their relationship irrevocably. From this point on, it's before and after. He only hopes after can be as good as it was before. Or how before was supposed to be.

2013:

"It hurts too much to be with you, but not be with you."

"But that's all that I can handle right now. I'm sorry."

"Then I guess I'll see you around."

Emmett looks pained as he walks away and that makes Bay feel like complete and utter shit. It wasn't that she didn't want Emmett or even love him; she just wasn't ready. There's no in between with Emmett. You can't just be with Emmett, like, casually. When you're with Emmett, you're with Emmett. And all that encompasses it. For the most part, Bay had always moved too quickly throughout life. Was too impulsive and reckless, never letting herself stand still long enough. With good reason. You stay in one place for too long, you get hurt. Move fast, talk fast, quick with a witty retort, and they can't get to you. Being with Emmett was the first time in her life she was able to stand still and just be. And then Simone. All of the sudden, Emmett was like everybody else. It's why she ran. It's why she's still running. She's not ready to be still with Emmett yet. Not yet. One day, but not yet.

2013:

"I'm not going to wait around for someone who can't figure out that the guy she's with isn't even into her."

He regrets the words as soon as he says them. It was a dick thing to say. It was. But doesn't she know how crazy he is about her? How he'd do anything? Move a mountain? Sure…if the request comes from Bay. But he can't go back. This was his line in the sand.

2013:

"It's a fresh start."

She feels like an utter ass to be quite honest. The whole exchange was so embarrassingly juvenile. He was right. What had she expected after she threw that whole "you'll cheat on me" line at him anyway? She's still messed up over Ty. She knows that. But she's still messed up over Emmett, too. That's the thing. She can delete every e-mail Ty sends her, but Emmett? Emmett's an immovable force she can't seem to shake. He's under her skin, like a permanent marker or a tattoo inked with 'The One.' It's a feeling she's yet to reconcile with. Listen to her head or her heart? Her head is telling her to move on. Maybe even forgive Ty. But her heart is a fixed point on Emmett Bledsoe. Her compass only points to him.

2014:

"I love you."

He's played this scene over a million times in his head. The one where he comes and tells Bay he's not leaving her. Not now. He'll defer a year and when she gets done with house arrest and community service, then they'll go. Together. They've spent too long apart as is. There's no reason to voluntarily spend more. Especially when most of the times it feels as though the universe is conspiring against them. Like if they allow an inch, life will take a mile. For a second time, he feels this is a moment that will change their relationship forever. It'll be before and after. If he goes, he'll be embarking on a new life without Bay. Time changes people. So does distance. If he stays, he can buy them some time. If he leaves, there's a part of him that feels he is setting them up to fail. But he goes.

2015:

"You do this now, it's done. It's forever."

She tells herself to keep walking. Don't look back. Don't look back. If she looks back now, she'll renege on the whole ultimatum. Is this what dying feels like, she wonders? Can you be dying and still be able to move your legs and arms. Is this an out-of-body experience? It takes every ounce of strength in her to not turn around and run back to him and scream that she'll wait. She'll come back when he's done with school. But she can't go back. This was her line in the sand.

2020:

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."

He looks at the clock and notes that it's four a.m. His bags are all packed for his two month movie shoot, which he's totally stoked about. Really. Not one ounce of regret. Except for having to leave this beautiful sleeping angel in front of him.

"No, no, I wanted you to wake me."

She sits herself up.

"You really okay with me being gone for two months?" He asks, a question filled with mild trepidation.

"Of course. Emmett, it's Meryl Streep for crying out loud. This is the opportunity of a lifetime…..even if it is Australia."

He sighs and rubs her arms.

"I know, but we just got married. We didn't even get to take a honeymoon."

He feels like a real tool about that. The movie had been such a shot in the dark. It had been on and then off and then on and then off so many times that he figured it would never happen. But then he got the call saying it was definitely, positively, absolutely happening and he would never ever in a million years guess who signed. Well, of course he had to say yes. But being without his new wife is killing him. Even though they have spent longer amounts of time apart. It's different now. They're married. After so many near stops and misses. So many times of thinking – but hoping against all odds that it wasn't – it was over.

She would have come with him. She wanted to, but Bay had just gotten a chance to showcase her art in a gallery and she needed to be here. Plus there had been some concerns with her aneurysm. There had been a scare. A shadow really on an MRI had come up. Better safe than sorry.

"We'll take one when you get back."

He follows her gaze as she looks at the clock. Then she turns back to him, her face betraying her true emotions as she attempts to shield them.

"We will. I promise."

She nods.

He gets up and kisses her goodbye, takes his luggage, and walks out the door.

But at least this time they both know he'll be back.

2035:

"I'll call you when I get there."

"You sure you don't want me to come?"

She smiles at her husband who is currently holding their youngest daughter in his arms, complete with spit up on his shirt.

"Yeah, I'm sure. I appreciate the offer, but I don't want to disrupt the kids' schedules or yours."

"Bay, I'm writing a screenplay. I can do that from anywhere as long as I have my laptop."

"I know, it's just I don't want the kids seeing my dad like that. Plus I don't want my mom to be more overwhelmed than she is already is."

The elder Kennish had recently fallen and broken his right hip. He was currently in a rehabilitation home, and if that wasn't bad enough, he was exhibiting early signs of dementia. It made Bay sad. At forty, she wasn't ready for this part of her life, the part where parents age and eventually, you say goodbye.

She fights back tears as Emmett cups her chin.

"You don't always need to be strong, Bay. You can take care of others while letting others take care of you, all at the same time. It's uncanny, I know," he says flashing those annoying white teeth at her. It's ridiculous that he can still make her weak in the knees after all of this time. It drives her even more crazy that Emmett knows that….and knows how to use that against her too. How else do you think she ended up with three kids?

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head, but manages a smile as well. "Smart ass."

"Um, that's Mr. Smart Ass, to you."

She laughs. She needs that. Today, she really needs that.

"I love you."

She kisses him. It's slow and gentle and encompassing of all their years together.

When they break away, her cheeks are damp.

"It's gonna be okay, babe."

And she has to believe that it will.

June 6, 2090:

"I have loved you my whole life."

His breathing is slow and difficult. He can no longer do it on his own anymore. It'll be over soon. He feels it. But he's not upset. He's not angry. How can he be? He's lived a long and glorious life, ninety-five years of it, and since the time he was sixteen, he got to spend it with the most amazing woman alive. Yeah, they had their ups and downs, but they made it. Three beautiful children; six wonderful grandchildren. More than a few noteworthy films. A dozen or so paintings sold all over the world.

He could never have asked for more.

And as he takes his final breath, he looks one last time at the woman who gave him the world.

June 7, 2090:

"I've been waiting for you."

No one is surprised when Bay goes the very next day. It was as if she had planned it that way. She had been strong for him and when he was too tired and frail to go on, she gave him permission to let go. And then she herself let go.

Heaven is not what she expects. There's no fluffy clouds or angels. Instead, she's in a beautiful park where the grass is so green she can hardly believe it. And although there's no mirror anywhere in sight, she knows she's young again.

The brrrr of a motorcycle comes from behind her and she smiles. Turning around, she sees him. The spitting image of his sixteen year old self. She doesn't wait for an invitation. She runs to him. It may have only been twenty-four hours since she last saw him, but it felt like an eternity.

When she reaches him two seconds later, he smiles and holds out his hand.

"I've been waiting for you."

And no truer words had ever been spoken.

He gestures to the back of his bike and Bay gladly accepts and hops on.

Where they will go from here, who knows. In the end, it's not important either. They've already spent a lifetime together; now they'll spend an afterlife together, too.