Author's note: Thanks timmy and Dahlia once again. I cherish your reviews and the time you take to write them. I am grateful to everyone who has read this story from start to end, as well. I was unsure if you guys were out there since I seem to be the only writer who is active in this fandom. To know that you're here means so much to me and the fans of this awesome movie.
It was almost a week later; they had just put Oliver to sleep for the night. Their hands were clasped as they left his room and went into theirs. After she finished washing her face and brushing her teeth, she slid underneath the blanket. Resting her head on his shoulder and with her arm are over his bare chest, she watched the nightly news with him. In turn, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. When he turned off the television he looked at her and didn't start speaking until her stare met his.
"Nate was four when it happened. That morning, we had played with his favorite ball in the yard before I left for the shop." He briefly closed his eyes, the scent and feel of his first child was still fresh in his mind.
She held him close, "What were your last words to them?"
"What I always said to them….'Have a good day and be safe. I love you both, goodbye."
It was then she understood why it had taken him so long to say those words to her and Oliver.
A long exhale came from him before he spoke again, "We were..we were supposed to meet at our usual diner for lunch like we always did. They arrived first and Amelia would wait to eat until I joined them. Nate always ate the same thing as they waited..chicken nuggets."
A slow breathe came from her mouth, "What happened Smith?"
He cleared his throat, "I was running late and just as I was about to close the shop, the officers came. The diner's busboy had been fired weeks before because of his erratic behavior. He had lashed out at the customers and employees.
So..that morning he walked into the diner and shot everyone inside before blowing his brains out. There were…no one survived," he pushed those words out of his mouth.
Her big doe eyes glisten with tears of sympathy, her hold on him tightened, "I'm sorry that happened to you Smith," she stroked his face.
The look in her gaze made him feel ashamed; he viewed it as pity even though he knew it wasn't. What he had to say next scared him because he feared that she would hate him as much as he did.
From the expression on his face she could tell he was struggling with his next choice of words, "Smith?"
The familiar feelings of guilt, rage and grief begin to suffocate him. He despised himself as he got up to leave the room not wanting to finally confront those emotions, except he couldn't. Donna blocked his path and held his face.
"Donna let me go," he tried to pull away from her but her grasp was unyielding.
"No Smith! Not until you say it!"
"WHY?" He nearly wailed and loathed himself upon hearing the desperation in his voice.
Her hands brought his face to her, "Because you can't heal until you do."
After a moment he took a hold of her waist as he finally let his walls crumble down exposing his broken soul to her.
"I sold him the shotguns..That piece of shit pulled the trigger but my family and those innocent people would still be alive if it weren't for me!" He cried out then bawled on her shoulder releasing years of turmoil through his tears.
In empathetic pride she wept with him before lifting his face from her shoulder, "You can't punish yourself for what that horrible man did."
"It's my fault! Don't you see that?"
"He was gonna kill those people whether you sold him those guns or not. What he did-he couldn't cope and blamed others for his mistakes. It was his failure to be a man, NOT YOURS. Understand?"
He slowly nodded pressing his forehead against hers, "I-I'm just afraid of it happening again.."
That's when it dawned on her, "Your nightmares?"
"Yeah," he inhaled, "I couldn't stand losing you two."
A small smile spread across her face while she moved her hand over his heart, "You'll never lose us, le nostre anime saranno sempre con voi perché il vostro è con noi."
With wry grin he replied, "I didn't understand a damn word you just said..but thanks."
The tips of her delicate fingers wiped away his tears, she smiled at him, "Our souls are always with you because yours is always with us."
With a deadpan look he stated, "That was my first guess."
Rolling her eyes she began to say, "Tell me Smith, do you ever stop being a smarta-.." his kiss cut off her sentence and she didn't mind one bit.
Smith knew that she deserved more than a kiss for breaking through to him. For the time being, he savored the taste of her soft sweet lips hoping that it would suffice.
During the last days of winter spring began teasing its arrival with temperatures in the mid sixties while the sun made sporadic appearances. Smith and Donna decided to take advantage of the weather by bringing Oliver and Duchess to the park.
"Come Duchess, lunch!" Smith hollered to the happy canine causing her to follow him while still holding a Kong ball in her mouth.
Donna welcomed them both once they approached the picnic table where she finished setting up their lunch. When Duchess dropped her ball in the compartment underneath Oliver's carriage, Donna petted her head and fed the obedient hound a Crunch Snax treat before sitting next to Smith.
"Come on little boy, burp for your mama," Donna rubbed the Oliver's back
The five-month-old's belch was so loud that even Duchess briefly stopped eating her lunch to look at him.
"Good boy," she wiped his mouth and kissed his cheek before placing him back in the carriage.
"Are you full?" Smith asked her just as he finished his sandwich and threw away the wrapper into a nearby trash can.
"Until dinner, why do you ask Smith?" she turned to him.
"I wanted to know if I could offer you anything," he reached into his leather coat's inner pocket. "Carrot?"
Her eyebrows curiously creased until she saw a platinum ring on the orange vegetable.
A wide smirk came across his face when he saw her dark eyes grow large as she removed the ring from the carrot, "Inside." He told her.
She read the engraving inside the ring welcoming her tears of joy, "Amore mio. Oh Smith…"
He took the ring from her hand and slid it onto her finger then held her hands, "I know that you said you didn't need it..but you more than deserve it. There's no one else who could deal with my bullshit and still love me like you do."
Her head modestly shook, "You've done the same for me."
"Donna..I was a broken man and I still was after we got together. I rescued you from Hertz but you were the one who saved me by showing me that I wasn't nothing. That I was a good man. You made me realize that I was deserving of the incredible life that we have together."
"Because of you.." her hand briefly stroked his face.
His head slowly shook, "You provide so much to this family and me..more than any man could ever want or even dare to imagine."
Crying, she felt her spirit soar. She took hold of his face, "I love you Smith."
"I love you too..Now get your sweet back door over here," he pulled her onto his lap.
In absolutely elation their mouths met as they relished in the warm embrace of their love. Through time, patience, and understanding, they put together the pieces of their broken pasts building a strong foundation for their future.