Another Five Years

Disclaimer: I don't own the show or characters. Jason Robert Brown does, though.

Cathy stepped onto the subway train and blew her bangs out of her face. She plopped herself, exhausted, onto an empty seat with only a newspaper sitting next to her. On the cover was a humongous color photograph of Cathy herself in her new show, with "Five Stars for Hyatt" printed in big letters above it. Even though, from early on in her career, she'd sworn to herself not to read reviews, Cathy stole a glance at the article and saw words like "Enticing" and "Amazing." She smiled and slouched down in her chair. It was late, and not many people were trickling on at the various stops. Only five more stops to go until Cathy's, and a man stepped onto the train and glanced around for a seat. Jamie. Cathy snatched up the paper and buried her face in it, praying not to be noticed, but the picture on the cover got his attention, and he saw her face over the top of the paper. Jamie moved toward her as the train lurched into movement. He sat down next to her and turned his head to look at her. She pretended fiercely to be engrossed in the article on the back.

"Cathy Hyatt," said Jamie quietly. "I knew her once. Amazing woman."

Heart pounding in her chest, Cathy blushed harder than she'd have thought possible. "So," she said, still not looking at the man next to her, "what brings you back to the city?"

"New book. Touring. Y'know, autographs and stuff."

"Oh yeah. I saw a poster in Borders."

"From the looks of the paper, it looks like you've been doing some autographs too lately."

Cathy smiled a little, blushed slightly, and stole a glance at the man she once loved. He still had the same lopsided smile, the same energy, the same ability to make her heart leap just by being near. "It's been great. I have to thank you, though. One of your old friends got me the part."

"Congratulations." He continued to look at her.

Finally, Cathy turned her head to him and looked him in the eye. His face was more weary-looking than she remembered. She wondered if he was thinking about how she'd changed. Lines had crept their ways around her eyes, and she knew that they both were getting older. It'd been another five years since she'd seen him. "And, uh, how's Elise?" she enquired, recalling the name that she had believed had ruined her relationship with Jamie. Later on, she realized the real name that screwed things up was Cathy. But she was past that now. Well, she had been. Until now.

"Great. Fine. Awesome." Jamie closed his eyes and scrunched up his face with a sigh. "Gone."

"Ahh…" said Cathy, not knowing what to say next. The train lurched to a halt.

"My stop." Jamie got up and waved awkwardly. "It was, uh, nice seeing you again."

He started walking away. Walking away again, like he'd done so many times before. She didn't need that again. "Wait," cried Cathy, not something she'd been able to do the last time. She darted after him, off the train, and grabbed his hand. He turned around and looked at her, saw the solemn, sad look her face, the look that had haunted him for years, begging him to come back. Suddenly, he took her in his arms and pressed her mouth to his. Cathy surrendered to the kiss and leaned against his body. Then she rested her head on his shoulder while his hands moved carefully up and down her back and he kissed her softly one more time.

Jamie took her hand and they walked wordlessly together down the street, occasionally stealing glances at each other, until they reached the tall hotel where Cathy assumed Jamie was staying. He didn't look at her, just brought her upstairs and to the door of a room, where finally he turned and kissed her again, quietly and then fiercely, and he opened the door and they stepped inside, both of them recalling so many wonderful nights and blocking out so many others.

L5YL5YL5YL5YL5Y

Hours later, they lay in bed, and Jamie watched Cathy sleep, with one hand in his and the other hand resting on the bed with its fingers brushing his chest. She really was beautiful, and for a moment he couldn't remember why he'd ever leave her. Her eyes opened slightly and looked at him shyly, and he kissed her hand. It was still dark, and Cathy inched closer to his body before drifting back to sleep. He pulled her against him, and she rested her head on his chest while he mindlessly stroked her hair.

There was something different about her now. Something more fierce, not in a getting-what-she-wanted way, but in a do-it-on-her-own way. When he left, she'd been so dependant, obsessed with togetherness to the point of intrusiveness. But now she was like when he'd first met her, convinced that she didn't need anything, especially help in the form of a man. But she took one anyway. And both times, it was Jamie. He wondered if she'd met anybody, if it had been another man that had inspired this change. Of if it had been him leaving her. Either way, he was proud of her. She was everything she couldn't have been with him.

He got up and pulled on his clothes. Cathy sat up and watched him, a contemplating tilt to her head, and he came over and kissed her softly, cupping her chin with his hand. "I'm leaving tonight," he told her. "Going to Rhode Island. I'll miss you." Cathy bit her lip, obviously trying to keep back tears. Maybe she hadn't changed completely. "You know I wouldn't have done this if I thought it'd last." She nodded, and he held her close and let her tears stain his sweater.

"I loved you so much," he told her, "I'm sorry. You changed. I changed. I didn't meet your expectations anymore, and I was lonely. You weren't the woman I'd married." He kissed her forehead. "Now you're that first woman again, the one I loved, but I'm the same. I can't be with you, not when I know I'd been so dishonest, so… unfair. I was just holding you back." Cathy was staring at her hands, and Jamie reached out and held them. "I could be in love with someone like you," he started, the phrase jerking out past held back tears, bringing back so many memories, "but I don't want to hurt you again."

"I'm still hurting from the first time," Cathy admitted. "I still love you, Jamie Wellerstein." She embraced him fiercely, then dressed quickly and wordlessly and left the room without looking back. He stared at the door for minutes after she'd gone, then collapsed on the bed with regret in his eyes.

L5YL5YL5YL5YL5Y

Cathy bowed her head as the lights dimmed and the theater erupted into applause. When she came out for her curtain call, one figure, standing alone in the darkness of the back of the theater, clapped harder than anyone else, and he was the first one out of the theater. He walked out carrying a plane ticket and an eight-year-old golden ring that he hadn't taken out in years, but that he knew had no use now. He left it on a counter in a dressing room backstage, on top of a handwritten story on crumpled, tearstained lined paper with no name on it and a black-and-white picture of two people who would meet each other again, but never for long and never again with any hope.

Nov. 13, 11:00 PM