Genre: Alan/his wife canon pairing (is that still gen?) - Angst.
Spoilers: Nothing specific, based off a throw-away line from Structural Corruption. Set pre-S1.
Summary: She made him promise. An Alan fic.
A/N Notes: Again, thank you to devra who alpha-ed this short little ditty right after she read it. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Numb3rs or anything connected with it. I'm just borrowing and will return all in one piece. Really.
"I want you to go out and meet new people."
She was facing the window and from where he was standing he stood see the sun beams shine across her face.
"I already know plenty of people."
She shook her head, but didn't turn. "Alan. You know what I mean."
He did. But he didn't want to talk about. It wouldn't happen. Next week they were celebrating their thirty-six year anniversary and if that was all they ever had, he'd be perfectly fine with that. He didn't need anything else. Or anyone else.
"I mean it." This time she did turn, twirling her body around, shifting the sun away from her eyes. Without it, she looked pale, tired, sick. Everything she was, and everything he wished she wasn't.
"Maggie," he started, but she held up a hand.
"You have to promise," she interrupted. "I know if I don't make you, you won't do it."
He gave her a weak smile. "You know me too well."
"After almost thirty-six years of marriage, we should know each other very well." For a brief moment she paused. "It's lonely without someone."
"I have Charlie. And Don," he pointed out.
"Don doesn't live here," she reminded him gently. "He has his own life. Charlie, he…." She let out a sigh. "Alan, I want you go out. Have fun. Meet someone, even have her spend a night or two."
"Maggie." His tone was subdued. It felt odd to have this conversation with her, yet at the same time he didn't expect any less of her. She knew when she needed to give him a push.
"Everyone has needs," she said simply. "Would you want me to move on, if it were you?"
That was a loaded question, and he was careful how to answer it. "I would want you to be happy."
She stepped towards him and gripped his hands. Her fingers were icy, as they had been for a few weeks. The end was coming and she knew it. She accepted it.
He wasn't sure he was there yet.
"Pining over me forever wouldn't make you happy."
"Pining," he repeated. "I wouldn't—"
"You would." She stroked the outside of his palm. "Promise."
He hated this. He hated it because it was wrong and cruel. He hated it because she was right. Giving in meant he was admitting it.
"Promise," she repeated.
He couldn't deny her this. He couldn't guarantee he'd follow through, at least not for some time, but he loved her enough to try. "I promise."
"Thank you," she said. "I don't want worry about you."
"I'll be fine."
She let out a short laugh. "You won't, but you'll pretend you are. Just like Don does. After all, where do you think he got it from?" She leaned into him and he could felt the exhaustion in her limbs.
"I'm so tired," she muttered. "I worry about all of you. Especially Charlie."
"Charlie's being foolish."
He felt her shake her head against his shoulder. "He's coping. I…" Her words trailed off as if she had intended to stay something else, but changed her mind. Whether it was about Charlie or a different thought all together, he could only guess. It was his turn to push.
"You what?" he asked, unconsciously stroking her back and swaying slowly. Back and forth.
She was a silent for a good thirty seconds and he figured whatever it was, she wasn't going to finish it. But she surprised him.
"It's not time yet," she whispered. "But, someday, someday soon, Alan, it will be." She closed her eyes. "I'll miss dancing. You were a wonderful dancer."
"Wonderful? I stepped all over your toes that first night we went dancing, remember?"
She laughed, a burst of laughter he felt vibrate across his chest. "You did. But you learned and then you were the most wonderful dancer."
For a moment, they both just stood there, gently moving back and forth, to what seemed like a silent melody.
"You could find someone wonderful," Maggie murmured and he tightened his grip.
"No one as wonderful as you."
"Of course not," she responded. "I'm one of a kind. But she could be wonderful all the same." She shifted, lifting her head a little. "I love you."
"I love you, too" he said, and he kissed her forehead as she laid her head back down. He couldn't picture himself with anyone else. He couldn't see himself moving forward. Dating again. Still, for Maggie he would try. Someday.
For now, he'd just dance.