Title: Again Tonight, My Dear
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: She's fifteen years older, grown into her long legs, more graceful and self-assured. He'd know her anywhere.
Spoilers: through late season 5


"Annie!"

His head snaps around, the name a trigger like none other could be. She's running across the street to the man who'd called her name, straight blond hair catching the reflection of streetlamps and raindrops. She's fifteen years older, grown into her long legs, more graceful and self-assured.

He'd know her anywhere.

It's the first time he's had an assignment on the mainland, but Ben is not naïve enough to believe his being sent to this particular city on this particular night is any mere coincidence. He holds his breath and watches, her head thrown back in a carefree laugh. The man lifts his hand to run fingers through the hair at her face, casual, intimate.

Ben reaches into the satchel at his hip and his fingers find the familiar figure, worn, rough-hewn wood. For a moment he thinks she turns her head to see him, but it's just an illusion. He aches, with a regret he hasn't known since he was a boy, returning from the Temple to discover the other children had all been evacuated. He closes his fingers around the figure as the couple across the street clasp hands and duck into the doorway of a restaurant.

It's us. That's you and that's me. He murmurs her long-ago words to himself and the ache grows. He's twelve again, and the island's loneliness touches him everywhere as he turns to walk away.