A/N: So, yeah. Printed out a list of prompts and the next thing I know, I have a scene for Life or Something Like It, but I haven't figured out where it's going to go, so for now, this is a one-shot.
And marshmellowluvr, LSM, bored...this one is, as always, for you.
By the way, H:LOTS isn't mine. I'm just borrowing it for the time being.
The night was oddly cool for being summer; Rose had the windows open, it had been quite windy all day, and the same held for now. It was the middle of August and just like always, with the seasons, something else was changing as well. The clock read ten o'clock when I looked at it, but I couldn't make myself move. The lights in the living room off; Kai and Michelle had fallen asleep watching a movie, and the sound of voices from the television drifted into the kitchen, where I was.
"I can't believe you're actually leaving." Abby's voice jolted me out of my thoughts, and I looked over at her, sighing.
"I told you about it a month and a half ago, and you still can't believe it?" I asked dryly. She gave me an annoyed look and picked up the bottle of soda in front of her.
"You know what I mean," she said. "It's going to be weird around here without you two."
"She has a point," Rose remarked from the sink, where she was finishing up the last of the dishes. "Come dry these for me, huh?"
I rose to my feet and walked over to where she was, picking up the dishtowel that sat on the counter and reaching for the bowl she handed out to me. "New York isn't really that far away."
"Yeah? You try being stuck in a car with Rose's kids for four hours," said Abby. Rose rolled her eyes.
"They're not that bad on short trips and you know it. It'd be different if they were going to, say, Maine."
"I'd never visit you," Abby said, glancing at me as a smirk crossed her face. "You'd have to come back here, because there's no way in hell I'd stay in a car for that long."
"You wouldn't be in a car the whole time," I pointed out, "It'd take a few days for you to get there."
"She means she doesn't want to be stuck with me for that long." Rose pulled open one of the cupboards and started putting away the dishes that I'd already dried. "But she'd deal with it."
"Says you." Abby took another sip from her soda and shook her head. "You know, if you wanted to make it before morning, you should've left a while ago."
"I promised Kai we'd spend a few hours with you guys before we left," I replied. "She'd skin me alive if I didn't let her say goodbye to the two of you."
"Not to mention Michelle," said Rose. She ran a hand through her hair and sighed. "She's going to have a hard time with this."
"Imagine that," said Abby. "Those two have been friends for what, twelve years now?"
"And Michelle doesn't find it odd that she's seventeen with a twelve-year-old for a 'best' friend?" I asked. Rose laughed.
"Not that I know of," she replied. "She'd rather have her over than anyone else, I can say that much."
"She'll find someone else to be friends with," said Abby. "Might take a while, though."
"You're telling me," I said. "Kai's already told me she's not going to talk to anyone when she starts school this year."
"There's a lie if I ever heard one," Rose said dryly. "She'll talk. She's not going to have a choice."
"I wish I didn't have to do this to her," I remarked, glancing towards the living room. Abby sighed.
"Well, it's too late to go back on it now," she pointed out. "You're already retired down here."
"I know that," I said, and as silence fell, I suddenly realized exactly how strange Abby's last statement had sounded. I'd only been 'retired' for about a day, and already, it was starting to annoy me. But she was right: it was too late to go back. Going on to New York was the only choice I had.
"You'll bring her back to visit, though, won't you?" Rose's voice broke into my thoughts and I glanced at her, smirking.
"I'd be hard pressed to keep her from you and Abby," I told her. "You've practically raised her."
"You helped," Abby quipped, and all three of us laughed, the first time we'd done so since Kai and I had showed up hours earlier.
"Seriously," said Abby, once we'd stopped. "You will, won't you? I heard her tell Michelle you said that you weren't coming back once you left."
"Kai takes me seriously more often than she should," I replied. "I didn't mean that we weren't coming back to visit, I meant that we weren't coming back to live."
"I should live to see that day," said Rose. "You'll end up back here sooner or later. Just watch."
"You can take the cop out of Baltimore, but you can't take the Baltimore out of the cop," Abby said, mock seriously, and I glanced over at her, shaking my head.
"That's great, Abby," I said mildly. "You two really think we'll end up back here again?"
"Sooner or later," Rose said again. "I think you will. What else would you do?"
"I could always get married again," I said. "Then I'd have to stay in New York. "
"Unless you got divorced again," said Abby, "How many times would that be, five?"
"I lost count," I told her. "I'm starting not to care anymore." Rose rolled her eyes and pushed at my foot under the table.
"You care," she said, "Ignore Abby. You'll find someone one of these days, trust me."
Abby snorted. "I should live to see the day you stay married," she told me. "Not that I think you won't, it's just that I'll probably keel over and die when you tell me."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," I said dryly, "Maybe I just won't tell you at all."
"I think I've had enough of this conversation," said Rose. She picked up the soda bottle as Abby set it down and took a sip from it as she continued. "What time were you two planning on leaving?"
"I think Kai's hoping I'll just leave her here if she's asleep," I said, "But we're probably going to head out in a few minutes."
"It's almost eleven," said Abby. "You're really going to drive four hours at this time of night?"
"It's better than running into morning traffic around here and not getting there at all." said Rose. "Now's probably a good time to leave."
"Well, then, it's a good thing you've been drinking coffee, because I'd hate to read about you two in the morning paper," Abby said dryly. She rose to her fee and walked off; when she disappeared from view, Rose sighed and took another sip of soda.
"I think it just dawned on her that you really are leaving Baltimore," she said. "She tends to forget things she doesn't want to hear."
"I know," I said. "I've lost count of how many times I've told her that we were leaving today."
"It's not really going to hit her until she wakes up in the morning and Kai's not here like she normally is," said Rose.
"And you?" I asked. "What's your take on all of this?" I already knew what it was. But talking about Abby's take on it had made me uncomfortable, and I wanted to change the subject. Rose eyed me for a long moment before shrugging.
"I think it's good that you two are leaving," she said, "Not that I want you to. I'd prefer you stayed, but change is usually a good thing. Maybe you'll learn something there that you can't learn here."
She always had been the dependable one. Suddenly, I felt that much better about deciding to take the position up in New York City, but despite this, I looked away, and when I did, Rose reached for my hand.
"Hey," she said. "You'll be fine. You can't possibly get into anymore trouble there than you did here, even if there are more people up there. And Kai will learn to adjust. You'll just have to give her time."
"You think?" I asked, turning back to face her and placing my other hand over hers. "I hate doing this to her right before she starts middle school…"
"I did it to Liana, and look how she turned out," Rose said in reply. "She's married, she's got a family…she's normal."
"How normal can you possibly be when the only women in your life have been cops and State's Attorneys?" I asked.
"Well, seeing as the only State's Attorney Kai's really been around is Abby…" said Rose, laughing as she trailed off.
"That's not exactly comforting," I remarked, glancing at my watch as silence fell. "I really should wake her up. It'll be easier to leave if she's still tired."
Rose pushed her chair back and got to her feet. "You're right," she said, "Let's get this over with before it gets any harder."
She turned away, obviously hoping that I hadn't seen tears welling up in her eyes, but I had and I reached for her, pulling her into a hug so she could hide her face in my shoulder.
"I think it's just starting to hit me too," she admitted, sniffling as she finally looked up at me.
"I figured," I replied. "Where'd Abby take off to? Kai's going to want to see her."
"I'm right here." Abby reappeared as I finished speaking. The lights made it obvious that she'd been crying; her face was red and she was wiping at her eyes.
"What?" she said, looking at me, "I'm not allowed to cry over the fact that you're finally ditching us?"
"I'm not ditching anyone," I told her, letting go of Rose so that she'd be able to walk. "You coming or what?"
Abby nodded mutely, and together, the three of us entered the living room. Rose reached out to flip the lights on as we did, and Michelle stirred.
"Turn it off," she said, her voice laced with sleep as she opened her eyes to glare at us, but Abby shook her head.
"Wake Kai up, will you?" she asked. "They're leaving." Michelle glared at me for a long moment before turning to prod at the smaller figure asleep beside her. Kai sat up and reached for the glasses sitting on the coffee table, blinking as she put them on.
"It's not morning," she said, giving Michelle a look. "What'd you wake me up for?"
Instead of answering, Michelle hugged her, and over the older girl's shoulder, Kai shot me a look.
"We're leaving, aren't we?" she demanded, and when I nodded, she looked away, burying her face into Michelle's shoulder.
"You'll come back," Michelle told her quietly. "Even if I have to come up there and get you myself."
This was one of the reasons why I'd tried to talk her out of wanting to come in the first place: I was perfectly all right with goodbyes until they came to this point. Rose glanced at me for a moment before moving forward and putting a hand on Michelle's other shoulder.
"They've really got to go, Michi," she said quietly, and Michelle nodded, glaring at me again before letting Kai go, reaching for the package that had been hidden behind her the entire time and handing it to her.
"Don't open this till you get there, huh?" she said, and Kai nodded, yawning and pushing her glasses up as they slid down her nose.
"Where'd my backpack go?" she said, ignoring me and directing her question towards Rose, who pointed to the front door. She walked off in that direction and the three of us followed. Michelle remained where she was, waiting until we were out of sight before turning the lights off again.
Abby reached down to ruffle Kai's hair as Rose pulled the front door open, letting the cold outside air in.
"Keep an eye on your dad, huh?" she asked. "Don't let him do anything stupid, all right?"
"There are only so many stupid things you can do as a cop," I said dryly. "I hardly think she needs to keep an eye on me."
"You're an idiot," Abby told me, "Of course she does." She bent down and hugged Kai for a long moment before letting go as Rose moved to do the same. When she'd been released, she walked out the door without looking at me.
"She's going to hate you for a while," said Rose. "She'll get over it, though."
That was certainly a relief. It was bad enough having received the silent treatment for the better part of a month, but the thought that Kai would hate me for the rest of her life for taking her from Baltimore had been bothering me for a while. Abby rolled her eyes and put a hand on my shoulder.
"She's right, you know. One can only hate you for so long before they have to get over it."
"And I suppose you speak from experience?" I asked, and she swatted at me before leaning forward to hug me.
"Yeah," she replied, "I do. Come and see us sometime, huh?"
"Do I have a choice?" I asked in reply, and as she moved back to let Rose hug me, she shook her head.
"No," she said, "You don't. If you don't come back, we'll come up and drag you back ourselves."
"Is that a threat or a promise?" Both of them laughed and pushed me out the door before moving to lean on either side of the doorframe.
"Both," they said. "And trust us, we'll go through with it." I shook my head, smirking in their direction as I headed towards where Kai was, waiting in the car and staring forward, as if she thought that looking hard enough would make things change.
"I'm counting on it," I told them. No reply came, but they remained where they were, and as I got into the car, I saw Michelle standing in between them. Kai still wasn't talking to me; in fact, she hadn't even acknowledged that I was sitting beside her now, but she was already half-asleep. By the time she woke up again, we'd be long gone, hopefully where we were supposed to be.
Glancing in the rearview mirror as we left, I could still see the three of them standing there, and I knew they'd wait until we were long out of sight before closing the door behind them as they turned to go inside. It was another one of those reasons why I still felt slightly guilty about changing so much all at once.
And it was another one of those reasons why I'd always had the opinion that farewells were more often than not more trouble than they were worth.