Title: To the Waters and the Wild

Author: Soleil

Rating: Pg? Pg-13?

Disclaimer: I own not.

Summary: Speculation fic. Based on the speculations about the spoilers. This may never happen. It will certainly never happen the way I wrote it. But I wrote it anyway.

A/N: 1) I didn't intend to write this. 2) When I started writing this, I meant it to be happier than it turned out. 3) Possible tissue alert. Nothing sad, just emotional. (If it came out right.)

putting in spoiler space




Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand

For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

-WB Yeats, The Stolen Child

Fairy lights ringed the patio, echoing on the water. The mill creek's current was sluggish and cherry blossoms drifted in heaps along its banks and floated on its surface. Candlelight flickered on the tables; the breeze pulled at the flames and stretched the lights into thin wisps of fire. The leaves rustled softly, sifting petals onto the patio and railings, showering the tables in pink.

Her fingers traced the rim of the table and skirted over the ironwork. She smiled at him, her lips quirking slightly at the corners, before easing her shawl back onto her shoulder and looking away. "This is nice," she murmured. She crossed her legs beneath the table and let a shoe dangle from her toes. "How did you find this place?"

"I bring all my dates here," he teased. "Actually, I read about it in the Post the other day."

She nodded and studied the patio and the buildings along the creek. "It's pretty here." She inhaled slowly, breathing in the scent of flowers and the damp smell of the water. "I'm glad you brought me."

"I'm glad you could come." Her shawl slid down her shoulder again and his hand moved forward to put it back in place. His fingers skimmed along the surface of her skin before settling back on the table.

She smiled her thanks and secured the material around her arms. "It's been a while since we did this." She waved at the table between them.

"It has," he agreed. "You thoughtlessly went out and got a social life."

She contemplated him for a minute, watching the way the light softened his features. The way it reflected in his eyes. Her fingers wanted to trace the faint lines around them, to smooth them out. After eight years of knowing him, she'd never found anyone else with such nice eyes. "Yeah," she said quietly. "Well, that's over now." She glanced away and fiddled with her napkin.

"Uh," he started. "Oh," he finished.

"Yeah," she concluded, "oh." Shrugging, she added, "It's okay." She bit her lower lip and concentrated on her refolding her napkin.

"Mac," he said, "I'm sorry."

She shrugged again. "It's okay," she repeated. "I'm the one who ended it."

"Why?" He leaned back against his seat to allow the waitress to put their coffee in front of them.

She flinched and turned her coffee cup around in her hands. The steam rose into the air and disappeared in the tree branches. Someone in a rowboat drifted by the restaurant. The oars knocked against the wooden sides and water splashed against water as it passed. Low voices and silverware against plates formed a backdrop of noise, filling the spaces left by their words. "It didn't have a future." She watched the rowboat glide by, a vague shape as it moved away from the ring of fairy lights.

He sipped his coffee carefully. "Well with a spook," he began.

But she interrupted, shaking her head. "It wasn't that." She shifted in her seat and let her shawl dip low on her arm again. "I don't really want to talk about it, okay?"

"Okay," he agreed.

"Did you buy AJ a birthday present yet?" She changed the subject. "I think I might buy Jimmy something little, too. So he doesn't feel left out."

"Mac, he's not even a year old." He watched as her guilty grin pushed away the last of the tension around her mouth. "I have to talk to Harriet."

"Why?" She frowned. She bounced her leg under the table. Her shoe clicked lightly against the metal legs as it swung like a pendulum on her toes.

"To see what he wants," he said absently. He glanced down at her foot. "How can you wear those shoes?" He studied the slipper.

"What?" She angled her foot to see her shoe. "They're comfortable," she defended them. She leaned over to readjust the strap around her heel.

"How many pairs are you up to now?"

"Enough," she smiled. "You'll never understand, so give up trying."

"Just tell me this, how many are comfortable?"

She poured milk into her coffee, blanching it of its color. Her spoon hit the sides of the mug as she stirred. "Enough," she said again. She tilted her head and leaned against her palm. "Almost two out of three ain't bad," she said quietly.

"Almost two out of three?"

"I have a good career." She ticked off a finger. "And I almost have lots of comfortable shoes."

He eased back from the table and crossed his ankle over his leg. He didn't want to ask the next question, but the words seemed to have a force of their own and demanded to be heard. "No one waiting in the wings?" he asked. The table became a no man's land as the words lay siege on the conversation.

She hooked her chin on her shoulder, watching the flow of the water. "No," she sighed. "I've given up on that. It's better that way." She crossed an arm over her chest and squeezed her hand around her bicep. "Maybe not everyone is meant to be married."

"I thought you wanted a family."

She shook her head. "You don't always get what you want." She added, "Look at you and Mattie."

Silence, thick and heavy, landed between them. He laced his fingers together over his stomach and studied the side of the restaurant. He cleared his throat but didn't say anything.

Her hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, damn," she said into her fingers. "I'm sorry, really. I didn't mean it the way it sounded."

"It's okay."

"No, no it's not." She blinked rapidly, her breath catching in her throat. "I'm in a foul mood and I took it out on you."

He shrugged and scanned the patio for the waitress for their check. "You didn't say anything that wasn't true."

She swallowed quickly and pulled her wrap tightly around her arms. "It was a horrible thing to say. You didn't deserve it. I know you must miss her."

"Yeah," he said quietly, "I do."

"She can still visit, right?"

He nodded. "Of course, but we agreed that it would be best to wait for while." He shrugged again. "Until she gets adjusted."

Classical music slid out of speakers hidden in the trees and eased between the tables. "It'll get easier." She laid her hand on the table, resting it palm up. Only the breeze curled around her fingers. "It really does."

The side of his mouth tilted in a half-smile. "I know."

She pulled her hand back and put it in her lap.

"Why are you in a bad mood?" he asked after the silence had stretched into minutes.

"I'm not," she said quickly, looking up from her coffee. "I'm having a good time."

"You just said you were."

She pushed a strand of hair back from her lips and said, "It's nothing really." She bit her lower lip.

"You're lying."

Her fingers re-creased the napkin, folding it into a fan. Making the lines sharp and thin. She nodded and sighed, but stayed silent. Her lashes fluttered as she blinked to clear her vision and she sniffled and swallowed. Brushing the back of her hand over her hair, she said, "But I don't want to talk about it."

"Is it Webb?" he asked, concerned.

"No. No, it's nothing like that," she said quickly. "We don't even talk anymore."

"Is that the problem?" He studied her face, searching for hints in the candlelight's shadows.

"No," she told him. "Really, he has nothing to do with this." She gave him a little smile. "Let's talk about something else."

"What do you want to talk about?"

The fabric of her wrap pulled against her shoulders as she shrugged. "I think Sturgis and Varese are getting serious. He's bringing her to AJ's party."

He nodded at the waitress to get her attention. "Do you want dessert?" he asked.

"I could be persuaded," she murmured.

"It's hard to believe that five years have passed already."

"Time flies," she mumbled.

He braced his arms against the table and raised an eyebrow. "It seems to me," he began, "that we have a deal."

"Ah, the infamous deal," she breathed the words into the night sky. "I guess that's out of the question now." The words were said under her breath but he heard her.

"Why?" His spine tensed and the muscles in his back tightened. "I thought you weren't with Webb anymore?"

"I'm not." She rubbed a hand across her forehead and closed her eyes. "I can't - I - the doctor called me the other day." She inhaled slowly and let her breath out in a soft gust of air. "I can't..."

"Mac?" He leaned forward. "Sarah? What's wrong?"

"I don't - I haven't said this out loud yet." She looked at him. "I didn't know how hard it would be to - I can't have children."

"I..." His voice fell flat and he studied the tabletop that separated them. "Sarah, I'm so sorry."

Nodding, she waved her hand and looked away. Her head angled towards the water, she brushed a finger under her eyes. "I don't really think I want dessert now," she paused. "If that's okay by you."

"That's fine." He signaled for the check. Standing up, he walked over and crouched before her. "Are you okay?" He rubbed a thumb along her cheek, tracing the lines of her bones with his finger.

She nodded against his hand. Her eyelids drifted shut, the lashes darkening her cheeks, before opening again. "I'm okay," she whispered into his palm. "I guess we both lost children."

"Yeah," he whispered back, "I guess so."

She glanced down at her lap, her gaze flicking to the table when the waitress dropped off the check. "I guess we should go."

He straightened his spine and stood up. Dropping a few bills on to the table, he held out his hand. Her fingers curled around his and gripped. "Thank you for dinner," she said as she gathered her purse.

"Thank you for coming with me," he responded.

Her heels tapped a staccato rhythm against the patio, a jarring sound in the music and quiet conversations. The air whispered over her skin and ruffled her hair. She sighed and laced her fingers through his. He smiled down at her as they stepped out onto the sidewalk and she leaned her head against his shoulder. "Thank you for putting up with me," she murmured against his sleeve.

"The feeling is mutual." He stopped walking and circled her waist with his arms. She hesitated; her arms hovered above his shoulders before responding. He stared down at her face and quietly said good-bye to the images of dark-eyed children. "We could always adopt," he said softly.

"Don't you - don't you," she fumbled over the words and stopped. "Why?"

He took a deep breath and released it, letting the words he should have said five years before float into the stars. "I want children with you."

Resting her forehead against his shoulder, she sniffled and nodded. Her fingers plucked at the fabric of his shirt as she shifted her hands on his back. "Why?" she choked out.

He sighed. "Because," he began, then paused. His arms tightened around her waist. "Because I," he repeated.

She nodded again, her head gently bumping his arm. "Yeah," she said, "because I, too."

Behind them, lights were flickering on along the waterfront. Over her shoulder, he could see the water eddying along the banks and pooling the shallows. The current pulled at the lights, washing them downstream, creating tiny rivers of light in the dark creek. He watched as the night sky darkened and the streams grew wider, filling the surface. Leaving no room for the shadows.