Author's Note: This is a songfic (yes, I know, yet another), for the song 'Love Lives On' by Mallory Hope. The song and idea have been sitting on my list for something like a year, and I just got into a writing mood. As always, it's an awesome song (would I write for anything less? ;) and I totally recommend listening to it.
For those who may not already know this, and then would think I'm crazy, the weird references to a police box, a blimp, an immortal and a dinosaur are from Doctor Who and Torchwood. I figured this would be believable since Hardison mentioned watching Doctor Who in the Bank Job, and Torchwood is a spin-off thereof. Please ignore the fact that Torchwood is kinda R-rated :)
She woke up that morning. The best/worst thing about sleep, in her opinion, was that it let/made you forget everything. Every morning for nearly eight years, unless she was on a job and sleeping very lightly, she would turn over in their bed and reach out her arms slowly in that way she always had when she woke up. It was borne from the times she'd go to bed at ten after a cartoon and he'd stay up until three on his laptop. He got grumpy when she woke him at what he called 'way too damn early! The sun's not even up yet, why do I gotta be?' So she'd always reach out and give him a small hug (people can feel hugs in their sleep, it relaxes them, they just didn't know it) before getting up and doing whatever she was doing that day.
This morning, though. She woke up and reached out to give him her soft hug without opening her eyes. When there was nothing there, though, she sat up abruptly.
Just like she had every morning for the past four years.
The worst part about sleep was that it made you forget.
Another routine was her breakfast cereal and orange juice. She always had several boxes in their kitchen, and only a few were for Jasmine. Alec always had a coffee in the mornings, but never let her have one. He said they'd make her too jittery. She stole his most mornings when he wasn't paying attention, but never drank it. She didn't like the taste.
This morning. She turned on the coffee maker that sparkled as brightly as the day he'd unwrapped it. A wedding present from Nate. He used to clean it vigorously at least once a week. Now she tended to give it a light going-over every month or so. Yesterday, however, she'd scrubbed it until it shined.
She closed her eyes and breathed in deep, letting the roasting coffee send her back. Eliot had told her that smell was the strongest form of sense memory. When she sat like this, at what had been their kitchen table, letting the smell curl around her, she could almost imagine the sounds of his alarm blaring, his grumbling as he shut it off before it woke Jasmine and stumbled into the kitchen.
Opening her eyes, she sniffed a little more, though not for the scent this time. She pulled some orange soda out of the fridge and drank it from the bottle, just like he used to. The tangy taste was often on his tongue when he'd kissed her. She didn't know whether to smile or frown at the memories.
"Parker." It's an acknowledgement, today, rather than the usual loud, smiling greetings. But what else would she expect from today?
"It's good to hear from you."
"I just called to say…" Why had she called? She didn't know.
"You know, when Alec was twelve, I sent him to a sleep-away camp," Nana began, and Parker settled back in the couch for a story. "Every day, he'd sneak into the camp office at six thirty, when everyone else was at dinner, and use their phones to call me. 'I just wanted to hear your voice, Nana,' he'd say to me."
A smile ghosted over her face. She could remember dozens of times when she or he had been away on a job, and he'd called for the same reason.
"It wasn't that he wanted to hear my voice, sweetheart," Nana said kindly. Parker nodded even though the woman, hundreds of miles away, couldn't see her. She was a bit confused, but Nana had gotten used to clarifying the feelings stuff and the social stuff to her. They'd gotten close in the last few years, even more so than they had when they were first introduced.
"He was lonely at camp, and he wanted a connection. He wanted something familiar because he didn't know anyone there and he wanted what he was missing," Nana explained. "And that's why you called, today.""I call every Sunday," Parker argued half-heartedly.
"And you always start off with how Jasmine's doing in pre-school, and how Mr. Spencer and the Ford couple are doing," Nana answered gently.
Parker sighed. "I guess you're right."
"I don't blame you, sweetheart. I miss him too. I know what today means to you."
She bit her lip to stop it from wobbling. Her eyes burned. "Seven years ago, he said he loved me."
"I know, Parker." And she did know. Alec had told his Nana all their anniversaries. They hadn't meant as much to Parker, she didn't see the point, but now… now anything he'd cared about had become so much more important. "And I know he meant it, too. He loved you and Jasmine so much."The tears spilled out.
She'd wandered back into the bedroom, thinking she'd maybe make herself fall asleep for the last hour or so. That was before she noticed the door to the closet the slightest bit ajar, and remembered. A connection.
She opened the door, seeing all her clothes. The trend had changed from tight blacks to soft, flowy pastels. He said that yellows and pinks made her cheeks and her hair stand out, and light blues made her eyes iridescent. Iridescent, he'd said, and later pointed to the stars and said that's what iridescent meant.
Hanging way in the back, where you couldn't see it unless you moved that hideous flowery dress and a large suitcase, was a black t-shirt. The picture was chipped from age, but the blue phone-booth-type thing that said 'POLICE BOX' and a blimp with somebody hanging from it were still visible. It had been Alec's favorite shirt. He'd tried to explain the significance, but he'd only got as far as 'the Doctor's TARDIS! That thing travels through space and time and- you aren't listening to a word I've said, are you?' She wasn't.
She stared at it for a while, vaguely reminiscing, but more just enjoying its presence. Strange how that shirt used to annoy her because he'd always go on and on about 'daleks' and weird screwdrivers when he wore it and now it's the only shirt of his that she hasn't been able to put in that box in storage. She lifted it to her face, so that the fabric, worn soft by loving use, covered her nose. She breathed in deeply, and tears came to her eyes when she could still smell his scent in the collar.
Five minutes late, but that wasn't surprising. He was almost always on time, but Jasmine certainly wasn't a stickler. She opened the door when he knocked, and Jasmine ran into the house, already bubbling randomly about whatever movie 'Uncle Eliot' had taken her to. Parker let the happy sounds fade into the background as the five-year-old ran upstairs to her room.
"Thanks for taking her," Parker said quietly, sitting down with Eliot on the couch.
"Sure," he replied gruffly. He still wasn't one for showing emotions, that never changed, but times like this, when she needed it, he was always there. And it's nice. "Parker, you know, whatever you need…" The offer was long-standing and didn't need to be said, but it still warmed her inside.
"I know." She gave him a small smile to show her thanks. They sat in silence for a while. It was nice, Parker thought unhurriedly. It wasn't a sad silence, or even particularly a companionable silence. It just was.
"I miss him too." Eliot suddenly blurted. Parker looked up, and was surprised to notice a tear weaving its way between his cheek and his nose. She reached out to wipe it away, and wasn't surprised when Eliot leaned away from her hand, though he gave a small grimace that she understood meant it wasn't her. They'd reached a lot of understandings in the past couple years.
"Mama!" Jasmine shouted as she ran down the stairs and into the living room. "Are we going? Uncle Eliot bought me flowers!"
"Sure sweetie," Parker sighed, picking up her daughter and settling the dark-haired girl on her hip. "We're going." She looked to Eliot. "You wanna come?" She offered.
He shook his head, standing. "Nah. Today's your day. I'll see you this weekend, though? Sophie's hosting another spring party at her and Nate's house."
"Sure." Parker swallowed. At Jasmine's urging, they left the house, locking the door behind them.
"…And I got a gold star on my chart a'cause I got to 'M' in my alphabet, and Mama says if I'm good we might be able to get a puppy. And Jenna says she's gonna invite me to her slumber party next weekend, and we're gonna make caramel apples with her mommy…"
Parker stood a dozen feet away while their daughter chattered happily to the shining, dark blue gravestone. Parker remembered the day she'd bought it. She'd chosen the speckled, smooth stone because it was both somber and vivid. It reminded her a bit of the sky on bright nights, when it was more dark blue than black. Maybe she wanted him to be happy up there in the sky, either in the Heaven Nana told her was real, though she'd never believed in it, or the planets and times he was always saying that police box traveled to.
She watched Jasmine's happy face, her skin a light, creamy brown that Parker has decided on birth was the shade of a mocha latte with milk. Their daughter had gotten her love for cereal, his love for soda. Her blue eyes, his black hair. Her lithe body and catlike grace. And as Jasmine's enthusiastic babble turned to a man who couldn't die and a dinosaur in Wales, Parker realized that the little girl really was made of both of them. Alec was living on in their daughter, and wasn't that just the perfect expression of love, that young, amazing life that was the both of them.
Parker sat down beside her daughter and helped her arrange Uncle Eliot's flowers over the gravestone, and smiled with love for them both.