A/N: Well, this is it, finally! I'm so sorry to have taken so long with this fic. I want to thank the fantastic so original for beta-ing the whole thing with such efficacity!! Thanks so much! Big thanks also to all the readers who have followed this story!! You guys are the best!!
Kate had rented a car and driven to Montana almost without stopping on the way.
She still didn't know what to do about Sawyer and the baby, but the more she thought about the life slowly growing inside her, the more attached she became to it. But could she keep it if it meant losing James?
It would help a lot if she could figure out what his relationship with Clementine was, she'd thought. That was why she was heading to his house right now, hoping she could see them together without being noticed. If things came down to it, she could always call Cassidy and ask her bluntly what she wanted to know.
She knew she wasn't being reasonable. She wasn't acting the way a grown adult should. She should just face him.
But she just couldn't find the courage to do so.
As she neared his house, she suddenly saw a woman she recognised. Cassidy! It was her, walking up to her blue car with a little girl in tow. It must be Clementine. Kate slowed down the car, her heart pounding in her chest. Had they seen her? She didn't think so.
On an impulse, she turned the car around and followed them.
They stopped at a nearby bookstore and Kate followed them inside. She didn't know what she was expecting exactly. Maybe she only wanted to see Sawyer's daughter better. Imagine what their own kid might look like…
Cassidy went through the novels while Clementine wandered around for a while. She then grabbed a book and went to her mother. Kate was close enough to overhear them.
"I want to get daddy this book," the little girl said.
"Honey, it's a children's book," Cassidy told her after glancing at it.
"But Daddy loves reading me stories! He will love this one. It's about bunnies."
Cassidy smiled tenderly.
"Alright, we'll take it. Just let me find a grown up book, too, okay?"
Clementine watched her mother got through books for a moment before saying:
"I miss Daddy. Where is he? When is he coming back, Mommy?"
"I told you, honey. He went to find his girlfriend. He called earlier today saying he'd be back tonight."
"But why can't he be your boyfriend? Moms and dads live together."
Cassidy knelt beside her daughter.
"We don't love each other that way anymore, honey. I've told you."
"Does he love his girlfriend more than he loves me?"
Cassidy hugged Clementine and held her close as she spoke.
"Of course not, honey. He loves the three of us very much, but differently, that's all."
Kate had heard enough. Hurriedly, she left the bookstore and went back to her car. Four years ago when they had met, Cassidy had told her she was pregnant with Sawyer's child and didn't know what to do about it. How ironic was the present situation! Kate was now the one pregnant, and by the same man! She couldn't help but smile derisively as she sat in the rental car.
Cassidy had decided to keep the baby and, against all odds, Sawyer was now present for his daughter. He loved reading to her… and she seemed to love him very much already. Why cheat him of the happiness of knowing his second child from the start?
The news would probably come as a shock to him. Their life would not always be smooth sailing. But it would also be an incredible adventure.
Kate started the car, a big smile on her face.
She was going home.
When she turned her car down the alley, Kate couldn't see the house, as it was hidden behind some trees. The place was very private, and it suited Kate just fine. And when she did see the house, she abruptly stopped the car. It was perfect! Sawyer couldn't have chosen a better place for them to live.
To avoid scaring him away when he returned, Kate parked the car behind the house. That way, he wouldn't think the authorities had come for him. Then, feeling like Goldilocks going into the three bears' house, Kate went to the front door and tried the handle. The door was locked. Glancing around, she noticed an empty flowerpot. She lifted it and smiled: under it was a key. She tried it… bingo.
Upon entering the house, Kate was surprised to see that it was empty, except for a big screen TV, still inside its box, and the kitchen appliances. Was James waiting for her before he bought anything, so they could chose together?
Before going upstairs, Kate took off her boots and her coat, leaving them in a place Sawyer would easily notice when he got home. She hoped it would prevent him from having a heart attack if she was asleep when he came back…
Once upstairs, she found a king size mattress sitting on the floor. She couldn't help but smile, realising that they could finally sleep together in a real bed, after all those uncomfortable nights spent on the beach. How different was life here with him going to be compared to how it was on the island? She didn't know, but she was dying to find out. She couldn't wait for him to get here. She missed him so much!
On the bed was one of Sawyer's t-shirt and, on an impulse, she undressed and put it on. She felt closer to him than she had in months, and it almost brought her to tears. 'Come on, Kate, get a grip on yourself', she told herself. But it was as though the adrenaline that had been rushing though her veins since leaving the island was now going away, leaving her more tired than she'd ever felt. Kate lay on the bed and, smelling him on the sheets, she quickly fell asleep.
Feeling down, Sawyer almost didn't stop at Cassidy's. All he really wanted was to crash in front off the TV with a bottle of Jack Daniels. But while he had a TV, he still didn't have a couch to crash on. 'Damn', he muttered when he realised that the only thing he could sit on was the bed and that carrying the TV all the way up to his bedroom was more trouble that he was willing to go through.
Looking at his watch, he realised that little Clementine was about to go to bed. The urge to see his daughter surprised him. He had missed her more than he'd thought possible. The moments he'd spent with her were probably the one thing that had kept him sane since leaving the island and waiting for Kate to come back to him.
So he went directly to see his daughter, arriving just in time to read her a bedtime story. Then he went down to the living room and sat beside Cassidy. She just looked at him, and he could see that she was wondering how his trip had gone but didn't know if he was ready to talk about it. He sighed. The pre-island James wouldn't have said a word, choosing instead to get drunk to forget his pain. Not only had he changed, but now he also had people around him who actually cared how he felt.
"She went to see Jack," he began.
Cass silently waited for more,
but he wasn't sure how to break the news of Kate's pregnancy to
her. Surely she would feel threatened. Would she feel as though she
and Clementine suddenly weren't as important to him?
"And…?" she finally asked.
"She told him she needed an abortion," he blurted out.
Cass seemed shocked for a few seconds, but quickly recovered.
Sawyer shook his head.
"No. He tried to convince her to keep the baby. And to talk to me," he added, his voice breaking. He clenched his jaw, hating to be weak, especially in front of Cassidy. "He doesn't know what she decided to do," he added.
Cassidy put a soothing hand on his arm.
"How do you feel about all this? About a baby?" she wondered.
James took his time before replying. He'd spent the last several hours asking himself the same question. And just now the answer finally seemed clear to him.
"Before crashing on that island I would've told you that me being a father was a ridiculous idea. But now I feel differently. Clementine is the best thing that ever happened to me, Cass. Having another one, with Kate… that'd be great. Scary as hell, but great."
"I know how she must feel right now," Cassidy commented after a beat. "Bringing a child into this world is a big decision. A big responsibility. And when you're scared you might end up alone… you really have to think things through. But I also know that…" She looked away, but Sawyer had time to see her eyes shining with tears. "… she would be a fool not to come back to you, James."
His heart filled with affection and respect for the woman next to him, Sawyer hugged her. He knew that there would always be some degree of regret between the two. They would always wonder how differently things might have turned out if they'd had a real chance. But he also knew that he'd always be there for her and their daughter. He swore to himself that he would, no matter what.
"No matter what happens with Kate, you have to know that I'll always be there for you two. You and Tiny are my family, Cass," he said in a low voice. "You have to believe me."
"I do believe you, James."
Both not used to big displays of emotion, they let go of each other.
"I'm okay with Kate being a part of our lives. I really am," Cassidy said as she smiled reassuringly. "She'll come back to you. Just give her some time."
Sawyer nodded, suddenly exhausted. He said goodnight to Cass and left.
The cold night air hit him as he exited the house. After all that time living under the tropical sun, what on Earth had he been thinking coming so far up north, he mumbled to himself?
A short moment later he was home.
For what felt like the millionth night in a row, Sawyer came into the empty house. That house he'd bought for her, the house that should've witnessed their laughs and their dreams.
But it was desperately silent and empty.
Sawyer took off his boots and threw his jacket on the stair handrail, but missed it. The jacket fell on a backpack sitting on the floor. It took a few seconds for that information to make its way to his brain. A backpack? It wasn't his…
He rushed upstairs, his heart beating like crazy. Was it her? Was she here?
He entered his bedroom. It took his eyes a moment to get accustomed to the darkness. And then he saw her, asleep. He couldn't move, could hardly breathe as he studied her. Her hair was different, but it was her, it really was.
His feet agreeing to move at last, he approached the bed. Emotion submerged him as he fell on his knees next to her.
"Kate," he whispered to himself. "My Freckles…" he added as he delicately stroked her cheek.
Her eyes fluttered open; a smile lit her face as she murmured his name.
"I love you, Kate," he said on an impulse, his feelings for her just too strong not to voice.
She sat up and they hugged so tightly they could hardly breathe.
"I'm pregnant," Kate whispered in his hear. Her anxiety was perceptible and he held her face in his big hands as he slightly pulled back.
"I know," he simply replied. She looked puzzled, so he explained, "I went to see Jack and he told me. It was a shock at first, yeah, but now I couldn't be happier. You changed my life for the better, Kate, and this child will only make it more wonderful."
Kate was speechless for a moment; then he felt the tension leave her body.
"I love you too," she murmured, her eyes locked into his.
"Lean on me, Kate," he told her, his voice laced with emotion. "Together we'll make it."
Kate's only response was a big smile before she pulled him up in bed.