Kathryn planned on going to her parent's vacation home in upstate New York. She packed her car, and was ready to head out of town. But, she knew she had some unfinished business to take care of before she left. Her indecision had caused Evan Wyatt pain, and she needed to apologize. So she found herself at her father's offices. She meekly knocked on Evan's door.
Kathryn took a deep breath and opened the door. "Hi," she said quietly.
Evan looked at her like she was from another planet. She was the last person he expected or wanted to see. "What the hell do you want?"
"I need to explain," Kathryn started, but truly she didn't know how to explain what happened.
"What's there to explain? You wanted the best of both worlds. You wanted to please your parents by going out with me, and you clearly wanted to please yourself by screwing your ex-boyfriend."
The words stung Kathryn. "That's not true. I wasn't trying to please my parents. I wanted to make things work with you. I was just confused. And I should have been honest with you. I should have told you about my feelings for Danny."
"Your feelings for Danny?" Evan laughed. "This was all a game to you. You don't have feelings. You wanted to make him jealous. You probably get off on it...maybe he does, too. Sounds like one sick relationship. I feel sorry for your son."
As the hateful words poured from Evan, Kathryn felt nauseous hearing her relationship characterized like that. "Leave my son out of this. I am sorry for leading you on, but you don't know anything about me or Danny."
"I know that he got you pregnant and didn't marry you. I know that he comes in and out of your apartment like he owns it...like he owns you. So once again, a stupid woman chooses to be with a guy who treats her like dirt, and ditches the guy who would actually treat her well. You're such a cliché, Kathryn."
"He doesn't treat me.... This was a mistake. Coming here was a mistake," Kathryn said as she headed for the door.
Before she could leave, Evan added, "You're a tease, Kathryn. A tease that gets off on being a doormat. You'll never be happy with anyone who isn't making you miserable."
She hurried to the elevator as tears poured out of her eyes. While Kathryn knew the things Evan said were untrue, she couldn't help but question her relationship with Danny even more. She wondered if that's what people saw when they looked at her. Did they see a doormat?
Kathryn spent three days at her parent's vacation home. She took the time to evaluate everything in her life, but especially Danny. By the second day, she missed Michael so much that she desperately wanted to go home. But she knew she was doing this for Michael. On the third day, she woke up and took a long walk. She watched the sunrise over the lake, and she finally came to a decision -- the best decision for her and Michael. After getting her things together, she started the drive back to the city. On the way back, she checked her cell phone messages. Danny told her he would call the vacation home directly if there were an emergency so she had left her cell phone off.
The only message was from Danny. He said, "Hey. Don't worry. Michael's fine. I just wanted to let you know that I dropped Michael off at your parent's this morning. A six-year-old boy went missing last night from his bed. We will be working 24/7 until we find him. I just wanted to let you know that we will talk after. I hope you are OK. Michael misses you like crazy. Drive safe."
Kathryn sighed. She was hoping to see Danny as soon as she returned. She didn't want to give herself any more time to rethink her decision. She silently prayed that Danny and his team would find the little boy alive soon. Her heart ached more and more in cases like these now that she had Michael. She didn't know how Danny and his co-workers handled it.
She went straight to her mother's to pick up Michael. When she walked in the door, Michael looked up from his play area on the floor and smiled. Kathryn picked him up and held him close as they giggled together. "Hey sweetness. I missed you. Did you and your daddy have fun?"
Michael said, "Da-Da...Da-Da." It was his favorite thing to say. Kathryn secretly thought Danny rigorously trained Michael to say it first.
"Do you miss your daddy? We'll see him soon, sweetheart."
"Welcome back," Kathryn's mother said.
"Hey, Mom. Thanks for taking him on short notice. Danny called and left a message."
"My pleasure. It's awful about that little boy that went missing. The news says there are no leads. It's like he vanished."
"Terrifying," Kathryn replied as she held Michael close. "Hopefully, they will find him soon."
"Did you have a nice time?"
"I don't know if I would say it was nice. I learned that I can't stay away from this guy for more than 24 hours ever again," Kathryn replied as she kissed Michael. "But I was able to clear my head and do some thinking."
"Good. Did any of that thinking have to do with Evan?"
Kathryn looked at her mother skeptically, "Actually, not really. I think I saw his true colors the other day."
"He told me what happened," her mother said in a disappointed tone.
"What? He told you? That's insane and a little sick. What exactly did he say?"
"That he caught you and Danny in a compromising position. I was so embarrassed, Kathryn. I assured him that things were over between you and Danny."
"Well that was your first mistake. It wasn't your place to assure him of anything."
"So what is going on between the two of you?" asked her mother.
"It's not your concern right now..."
"I'm concerned about Michael."
"Don't be. No matter what happens between Danny and I, Michael is always our first priority. That has always been the case. You can't question our commitment to our son," Kathryn said as she looked in Michael's eyes.
"I just want to see you happy, Kathryn."
"That seems to be the general consensus. I'm working on it, mother. I'll be OK," Kathryn said quietly. "Are you ready to go home, pumpkin?"
Kathryn took Michael home and anxiously awaited Danny's phone call. She watched the news closely to see if they announced any breaks in the case. Late into the evening, there was still no news so Kathryn finally went to bed. The next morning as she fed Michael breakfast, Kathryn turned on the news. The reporter said, "We are just receiving word that the body of a little boy has been located by FBI agents. We are getting unconfirmed reports that they found the body in a dumpster behind the Nyland Warehouse in Queens. We are waiting to hear more details."
Kathryn's heart sank as she looked at Michael. A tear ran down her cheek and Michael reached out to wipe it away. She thought about calling Danny, but knew that he may not be able to talk. So she waited. He finally called her a couple of hours later.
"Hello?" answered Kathryn.
"Hey...I...uh...I just wanted to make sure you got back OK," Danny said quietly.
"Yeah...I got back last night. I got your message, so I didn't want to bother you."
"Things have been kind of crazy here."
"I heard on the news. I'm sorry, Danny."
"Yeah...well... Listen...um...is it OK if I stop by tonight. I'd like to see Michael."
"Of course, stop by whenever."
"Thanks. I'll see you soon."
Danny arrived a few hours later. Kathryn opened the door. "Hey."
"Hi," Danny said as he walked in.
"Michael just finished dinner."
Danny went over to the highchair where Michael was sitting and picked him up. At the sight of Danny, Michael said, "Da-Da, Da-Da."
"Hey buddy," Danny said as he sat down on the couch. Kathryn just watched, as Danny seemed to block everything out except for his son. He folded Michael into his arms and kissed him on his head.
Kathryn sat on the other end of the couch. "Danny..."
"Have you been watching the news?" asked Danny.
"No, I turned it off after I heard they found his body. I didn't want hear any details."
"That's probably smart. No one needs to hear something like that," he said as Michael took hold of his unshaven face. Danny smiled at his son, and Michael laughed.
"If you want to talk about it though..."
Danny looked at her for the first time since he arrived. "You know me. I never like to talk about it. It's easier not to. It's easier to just block it out. That's the way I would usually handle it. I'd just let it go. It wouldn't affect me. But now..." Danny trailed off as he looked back at Michael. "How can it not affect me?"
"It was his father. The little boy's name was Ryan. And I guess he was acting up or something. He wanted to go to the zoo, and he kept bugging his dad about it. His father told Jack that he just snapped. He just got so angry that he hit his little boy. And his father hit him so hard that he staggered backward and fell down the stairs. Instead of calling an ambulance, his father put him in a dumpster. He could of still been alive, but his father just wanted to get rid of him. So we found him...I found him…in the trash. At first, it looked like he was just sleeping," Danny said as he looked off into space. He put Michael on the floor so he could play in front of him.
"That's awful. I can't imagine."
"See, I can imagine. My father used to get that angry. What if it's in me, too? I mean…my father drank...I drank. What if I'm capable of the same things he was capable of ...the same things Ryan's father was capable of. What if that's in me, too?" Danny was looking at Michael again as tears filled his eyes.
"It's not in you, Danny. You're not capable of that."
"How do you know?" Danny asked desperately.
"I know you. I know your heart. You could never hurt him," Kathryn said as she looked at Michael playing with his blocks. "You are not your father, Danny. You're not."
"God, I pray you are right. Promise me...promise me if I ever scare you...if I ever start drinking again that you'll take him far away from me."
"That won't happen..."
"Just promise me," Danny demanded.
Danny's phone rang as he sat watching Michael. "Excuse me," he said as he got up to answer his phone. He had a short conversation, and then sat back on the couch.
"That was Viv. I thought I was going to go back to do more interviews, but she said that they've pretty much wrapped it up. She also said the Medical Examiner confirmed Ryan was alive after his fall. He could have been saved."
Kathryn just shook her head.
"Sorry...you don't want hear all this. It's getting late. I should probably get home," Danny said.
"No...don't go. I want you to stay. You need to be with your son."
"Kathryn, I don't want to make things confusing for you especially after you finally got some distance. And then here I am again..."
"I'm not confused anymore. I want you to stay. You belong here with us," Kathryn pleaded.
"If you're saying this because you feel sorry for me..."
"This probably isn't the best time to talk about all this, but I need to say it," Kathryn said as she picked up Michael and put him in her lap. "I did a lot of thinking while I was away. To be honest, when I was driving up there, I thought we had to end this. I couldn't do it anymore. But then I started thinking about when we first got together. Next to having Michael, that was the happiest time of my life. I started to think about how much I've changed. As confusing as the past few months have been, I think I know now that all the changes have been for the better. I never knew love before I met you. Do you...do you remember the first time we made love?"
"I knew that night. I knew that night that you were the last person I wanted to be with. That's why I was so terrified that I would never hear from you again. I already knew that I loved you from the moment you looked into my eyes, Danny."
"What about everything I put you through after? The lies...the drinking..." asked Danny.
"When I was up at the lake, I watched the sunrise. And it kind of reminded me of us. We just need a new beginning...a new day. You've apologized for all of that. And I have forgiven you. We just need to start a new day together...the three of us," she said as she gave Michael a hug.
"So you aren't afraid anymore...you aren't afraid I'll start drinking again?"
"I won't lie to you. Of course, I'm afraid. But I love you and I believe in you. I believe in us. And we will deal with everything as it comes."
Danny moved closer to Kathryn and Michael on the couch. She handed Michael over to Danny, and then they put their arms around each other. Danny looked in her eyes and said, "Thank you. Thank you for giving me a family. I love you so much. And I will work everyday to be a good father and husband. That's my promise to you and Michael."
Danny and Kathryn got married a week later at the courthouse. They were both so happy to be together with Michael. Kathryn watched Danny with tears in her eyes as he said his vows to her. He was the last person she expected to fall in love with, but she was so happy she did. At first, he brought passion and happiness to her life. Then he gave her Michael, and they built a friendship as parents that she treasured. She was fairly certain that, as a family, they would have their ups and downs, but they would face each new day together. And together, they could get through anything.
Note: This is the final chapter. Hope I didn't get too corny at the end. I didn't know quite how to end their odyssey together. Thanks for all the helpful reviews.