Title: In Step
Beta: The wonderful Seattlecsifan
Summary: Tony finds himself having to apologize.
Author's Note: Reviews are appreciated, and I hope you enjoy.
X X X
My dearest, my wife,
I know I make an idiot of myself on a regular basis. Funny, but you never have to point it out, because I pretty much know I've screwed up the minute the words fly out of my mouth. Then today, you told me your big secret – the one we'll keep to ourselves for just a little longer. And like a jackass, I walked away without a word.
I hurt you, and for this, I am so very sorry. It wasn't that I was unhappy. Quite the opposite, actually. When you married me, I was thrilled. Content, even – an often undervalued emotion. Now… now I'm terrified, but happy too. Quite the conundrum, because I just can't say the words that you need to hear. Not that you'll listen. The slamming of the front door as you stormed out confirmed that, and I don't blame you. I just hope I can write what I want to say in a way that will make you understand.
So I'll start at the beginning.
You see, for all his faults, I know he loved her.
As a child, after the parties, I would sneak out of my room. I would watch them from my perch at the top of the wide staircase. Everyone would be gone, with maybe a guest or two crashing in a guest room. Servants would sweep in like a swarm to clean up the ballrooms and halls of our mansion. And in the middle of the organized chaos of rolling trays and dust cloths, I would watch my parents dance.
Their eyes always locked, and soft smiles played on their lips. Dad might twirl her as the sound of the servants' portable radio played around them. I always liked their radio better than those formal musicians Mom hired to entertain. The servants who wandered in and out of the formal rooms would smile softly at the couple; some would look up at me and wink. Always, always, always, I was happy.
Eventually, and I remember this so vividly that I can still smell Mom's perfume, they would climb the stairs hand-in-hand, reach out to me, and carry me back to bed. They would tuck me in and kiss me in turn. Like a dream.
To this day, the smell of gardenia makes my breath hitch and I look around for just a second in hopes I'll see her. But I don't. I can't.
She died, and that ethereal light shining throughout our home faded into shadows. Dimensions folded in on themselves until the world was flat and gray, like an old movie, and not a good one. So by the time I was shipped away, my home had already disappeared, as had my family. I was so very alone.
Anger became my constant companion, mingling with bouts of self-doubt and loathing of the world in general. I so often have wondered why… Why did he try to replace her so often? Why wasn't I enough?
I had to approach middle age to find a hint of an answer to any of it. And it began with a dance – a simple sway of the hips, shuffle of feet, and press of two hearts together. It started with you.
For years, I'd watched Dad try to dance with women. So very many women. In that, he and I are alike. We both love women. In his case, it turned into a number of step-mothers along the way for me. A couple of them I liked, a couple I didn't. There are probably some I don't even know about.
I didn't understand why he couldn't make it work. I just never really got it.
And then you came along. Since the day we met, we have danced together, you and I. Occasionally, we step on each other's toes. Always, we dance, though, rarely breaking stride. I don't count the little bobbles here and there. That's life, and crap happens.
Only once did we step away from one another, and it nearly killed me. Since then, I've held you close; as close as I can. And you hold me, too.
So when you told me your secret, it all became so very real, because I finally understood. I dance with you the way my parents danced. In step. Perfect. Full of grace.
And now I'm scared. Because if something happens to you, will I become the man my father did? Will I become a man who never learns to dance with another partner? Will I become a man who leaves his child in the shadows?
I love you so very much. Please forgive me my fears. Please…
X X X
Stupid hormones, she thought and sniffled. Placing the letter on the nightstand, she rose from the edge of the bed. Her hands trembled and she calmed them by rubbing the legs of her jeans. The very jeans that seemed just a little tighter than they had a couple months ago. Drawing in a watery breath, she soothed her nerves, and set out to find him.
It only took the drive from their home to the Navy Yard to compose herself. Of course, that was where she would expect him to be, working diligently at ten o'clock at night, under lamp light.
Watching him from a few desks away, she admired the way his rarely-used glasses slid down his nose as he signed a form and picked up another. And she smiled, because that was the man she loved. Public servant. Flawed. Hers.
"I cannot predict the future," she quietly said, moving to stand in front of his desk, where he slowly rose. As she looked up into his eyes, she more softly added, "I cannot stop bad things from happening."
Watching the emotion swirl through his green eyes, she held a palm up to his cheeks and whispered, "But should something happen one day, I can guarantee one thing. You will love our child."
Coming around the desk without breaking contact, Tony gulped hard to hold back the sob. His chest ached with it, and he pulled her in tight, dropping his head onto her shoulder.
She'd only heard him cry once before, and that had been while in the throes of massive, physical pain. So as the sob erupted and he shook, she squeezed. Because she didn't know what to do, but hold him close, while he swayed just a little with emotion.
Eventually, he loosened his hold, and the storm in his eyes eased back, leaving a moist emerald in its place. Moving her hands to frame his face, she wiped away the last droplets that slid from his lashes and she smiled.
"I'm so sorry," he somberly whispered.
"You do not need to be," she softly replied. "I really do understand."
Tony leaned across his desk, tapped a couple of keys, and turned up the computer's speakers. Old Blue Eyes crooned throughout the bullpen in the dark of night.
"I love you both," he murmured, running his left hand around from her back to her abdomen. "I will always love you both."
And as a family, they swayed.