A/N: Well…it might be kind of a copout but here it is…the end of Willful Love. To be honest I could have gone a few different ways to drag this thing out but it would have just been fun and fluff and not really helpful to the overall plot of the story. So instead of dragging it out and keeping you all waiting, I chose to end it instead so that both Nadia and I can move on with our child-filled futures. A huge thank you to Mikell and Melody for being such great beta's. Thank you to everyone who followed this, who made it a favorite, and to every kind, heartfelt review that you took the time to leave. I appreciate everything and thank you all for helping me see this fic to the end.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of TMNT and make no profit from the writing of this fic. I also do not own The Hunger Games but there is one small reference so better safe than sorry!
Closure wasn't something Nadia ever thought she would get when it came to Victor. And yet…she got it. In the most unlikely way, she got it. It came one late evening when the weather had started to shift and windows were being left open in hopes to gain some reprieve from the New York heat that everyone was looking forward to seeing the end of. Except the guys. They loved the heat. She'd caught Michelangelo basking in it once when she'd come home early in the afternoon from work. Thinking he had passed out, she'd tapped him and asked him as much only to have him respond with a sleepy "feels good." And she couldn't deny that it looked like it felt that way…so instead she'd joined him.
The evening the phone call came proceeded a day that had been much the same way – sunny, unseasonably warm and uneventful. Nadia had just stepped out of the shower when she heard the first notes of her ringtone through the door. Quickly wrapping a towel around her, she sprinted to the kitchen table where her cell phone lay and answered it.
"Um…yes, hello. Is this…is this Nadia Ramos?"
The voice wasn't one she recognized at all and something about the nervous waver in it made her want to hang up the phone. Instead, she answered, "Yes, this is she."
There was a long pause on the other line. "This is Barbara."
The name was familiar. And not familiar in a good way. It sparked a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach that had her reaching for a chair in hopes of gaining some stability. There was something about that name that brought too much back. "Barbara?"
The breath left her in a sudden rush and she sank into the chair she'd been holding onto. "Barbara-."
"I'm sorry to be calling you. Well, no…that's a lie. I'm not sorry. I needed you to know."
Nadia's eyes searched the apartment for Michelangelo. She suddenly wanted him near, yet at the same time she wanted him as far away as possible. Her ugly past was coming back for her, threatening her new life. "What do you want?"
"I don't want anything from you," Barbara said quickly. "I just want you to know."
"To know what?"
"That I know…everything. I know that Victor was with you. I know that your child is his. And I know that he forced himself on you."
Her throat was suddenly dry and it took a painful amount of effort just to ask her how.
"Because…" Barbara stopped and sighed softly. The sound wavered. She was crying. "Because he did the same thing to me. I admire you, Nadia…for running like you did. For getting away. You may have had a moment of weakness where you came to our home and wanted him to be there for you…but you still left and got as far away from him as you could. I only wish I could have had the courage to do the same thing."
It was a shock, hearing that Victor had treated his own wife the same way he had treated Nadia, hearing that he'd done it for years. The pain she once felt for herself returned, but this time it was for Barbara. "I'm so sorry-."
"I would have killed him."
The statement was rushed, spoken in a whisper filled with conviction. "If he hadn't come to you…if he hadn't gotten himself killed….I would have done it. I was going to…"
Her voice drifted off and an uncomfortable silence fell over the line. Nadia wasn't sure how to break it. She didn't know what to say. Nothing she'd force herself to deal with had ever involved talking to the wife of the man who had raped her and listening to her admit her intent to kill him.
"Not that it matters. Not now. I just…I wanted to call you and tell you…that I'm sorry. For what he did to you…for what he did to me…for what he put us both through. I'm sorry."
Nadia swallowed hard. A tear traced down her cheek and splattered against her arm. "So am I," she murmured.
"We can put it behind us now."
She didn't sound convinced. She sounded like she was searching for the answer to a question. And although she had no obligation to this other woman, she found she fiercely wanted to give it to her.
"Yes, we can."
And there it was. Almost like a chunk of ice breaking away from the berg that held it, her past drifted away and she felt lighter than she had in years. She felt relieved. And not in the way she'd felt relieved upon finding out Victor was dead. This was better. It was healthy. It was closure.
"Thank you, Nadia."
"Thank you, Barbara."
She disconnected the call and laid her phone down on the table beside her, staring at it for a long time. Then, leaving it there, she pushed away from the table and started towards her room. The lull of a soft, male voice met her halfway and she smiled.
Michelangelo lay propped up on the bed, Tavian sprawled over his blanket covered plastron and sleeping with his tiny mouth slightly agape. Stroking the infant's thick black hair slowly, Michelangelo read-.
"The Hunger Games?!" Nadia quietly choked out once she saw the title.
Mikey looked up and flashed her a grin. "What? It's a good book!"
Nadia rolled her eyes and crawled across the bed to him, settling beside him and releasing a content sigh when his arm stole around her shoulders and pulled her even closer. "How long has he been sleeping?"
"Since they got to the Capitol. The fancy people bored the hell out of the kid."
Nadia reached up and drew the tip of her finger down the curve of Tavian's fragile jaw, the simple band of gold on her ring finger glinting in the light. Tavian squirmed a little and a tiny smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"Mi niño precioso," she whispered, leaning up and kissing the spot she'd just touched.
"I understood like…half of that," Mikey muttered.
Nadia laughed and cleaned up even further to grace his wide mouth with a kiss before whispering, "Te amo, mi Tortuga."
"And all of that. I love you too." Mikey gave her an indulgent smile before lowering his head to deepen the kiss.
One day, she would tell him about the phone call from Barbara. But not tonight. Tonight was new and her past was still drifting away, pulled by a dark ocean that would eventually swallow it whole. Her future – her husband and her son, the life they'd created together – was all right here in the room her and Michelangelo shared. And all she needed to do was just be in it and continue to let that past drift until it was nothing.