A/N: Here's the final chapter. Finally got around to revising. Thank you everyone for reading.
The marina was beautifully decorated. White lights were strung neatly around the railings of boats, up tall posts, and in trees. Henry was going to flip but mostly because he didn't enjoy having the spotlight on him too often. He was a simple guy who liked simple things. Abby knew that, but his other friends couldn't have cared less what he wanted. They talked it out with her and decided amongst themselves that Henry Dunn was in no condition to make decisions for himself.
So what did they do? They took on the task of creating the nicest, most fulfilling party they could assemble for him. Who cared if he wasn't the biggest partier out there? He would be tonight, and they would all be damned if he didn't enjoy himself. Especially Abby. She didn't fly all of the way out there for nothing, and something about her conversation with Trish had her feeling optimistic tonight.
Henry approached the excessively ornamented harbor with Abby riding on his back. She had both hands covering his eyes while Malcolm and Danny led him carefully to the party. The owner of the boat shop down there was all too happy to allow them the party space. After all, Henry's birthday attracted tons of young customers with money and his yachts got free advertisement.
"Stop peeking!" Abby demanded. "I can feel you blinking!" She flattened her slender fingers against the front of his face and hooked her elbows over his shoulders to keep from falling. Henry felt her slipping in her panic to shield his eyes at the same time she did and used his hold on her legs to push her back up.
"Maybe because your hands are squashing my eyeballs?" He guessed innocently. "I swear you used to be much gentler when we were kids…" She giggled and he couldn't help smiling himself.
"Da-da-da-da!" Sully sang as he came rushing up from down the longest pier.
The guys cheered at the wine bottle in his hand and Booth came jogging to them from the crowd of people Henry had gotten to know since he started at Washington State. Some were students, some were locals, and they were all quietly waiting for their cue. Sully had been running a quick check of everything to make sure the party was set and was just now returning to them.
"Are we ready?" Danny asked. Sully fake punched the air above him Rocky style.
"Hell yes," he told them. He nodded at Abby and she grinned, uncovering Henry's eyes. When he opened them, an explosion of sound came from the docks and Abby wrapped her arms around his neck to hold on for dear life.
"SURPRISE!" They shouted. Embarrassed, Henry laughed at Abby whose guilty twitching eyes peeked over his shoulder at him.
"Surprise!" Henry said back. "You guys told me about this-I'm not surprised!"
"Shut up, Henry!" Sully yelled at him. "Act surprised goddamn it." He chuckled at his exasperated friend.
Abby gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Happy birthday, Henry," she said and he leaned his head against hers lovingly. She slid down his back to stand with the others right after.
It felt so nice outside. It was a perfect night for celebration. With the combination of the wind and the water and the seventy-ish degree weather, everyone was in a good mood. Danny swallowed Abby in a partial hug and she laughed, accepting the friendly affection.
"Thank you, everyone, for coming," Henry said to the mob of people waiting for him to say something. "This is amazing. You really shouldn't have. It means a lot." Sully passed the wine bottle in his hand to him, and Henry raised it, chuckling. "Enjoy yourselves." And with that, they raised their glasses in cheers.
Abby hurried back to Henry's side before someone else ran off with him and held her arm out as an invitation. He automatically hooked his arm through hers without question, and she then bobbed her head toward a quieter area further down from the party.
"Come on," she grinned. "I have something for you."
He smiled, following her lead.
Abby walked Henry to one of the boats where few people were hanging out. She wanted to give him his present in private without criticism from the other guys. She was positive they went all out for him this time and spent money they didn't have on making him feel better, so she didn't want her inexpensive gift being undermined by a bunch of rich doofuses. She loved them all dearly, but Henry still liked simple things and not to brag but… she'd practically known him since birth. Abby wins.
They stood at the nose of a pleasantly lit yacht away from the others.
"Okay, I know I'm cheap," she vomited.
He only had a second's pause to say, "You're not cheap," before she went on. He gave her a meaningful glance but she overlooked it.
"But I was going through some of my old stuff from back home," she continued, her voice soft as ever. "And I found a few… interesting things." Henry turned his head slightly disturbed by the excited glint in her eyes.
"Oh no." He watched as Abby unbuttoned her purse to pull out a thick square booklet. The spine was worn, but the memories were still good as new. "Oh my god, you didn't." Abby tensed enthusiastically as his eyes widened on the scrapbook in her hands.
"I know, I thought it was lost forever after I left to California but my dad must have packed it away with the rest of my junk. I never really did finish unpacking."
'It' was a very special book to them. Abby's mother gave it to her on her eighth birthday and they spent the rest of their years on Harper's Island writing down every little dream and pointless thought they ever had. They had to stop after her father sent her away and by then they had pretty much outgrown the hobby. All but the last couple pages were filled. There were a lot of good times written down in there.
She opened the book to the first two pages to reveal a close-up picture of young Henry squashing his cheeks together with both hands. She'd also gotten a disposable camera that birthday as well.
He covered his face, laughing. "Oh my… god. I was such a nerd." Abby put her hand up.
"Uh, in that nine year old's defense, he spent a lot of time with this dorky girl who lived down the street? Abby Mills? Ring a bell?"
"Oh yeah," he played along, tapping the picture with his finger. "I remember her. Poor guy. He was such an angel. She used to get him into trouble all the time."
Abby smiled mischievously. "Still does." Henry released a heavy sigh, and she leaned into his half-hug. As she was turning the page, she caught a glimpse of the next picture and threw her head back. "Oh wow."
He straightened up to look and laughed just as she exploded into giggles. There was a photo of them covered in mud from head to toe in their swim suits with a sprinkler shooting water off between them.
"Is that your yard or mine?" Abby contemplated. "I don't remember that."
Henry scratched his head. "I have no idea… Oh wait, look. There's that creepy gnome your dad put in the front yard. If I'm remembering correctly, I came around a lot less often after that." She laughed. She did remember that gnome. It warded off unwanted troublemakers better than any scarecrow ever could.
Abby ran her finger down a numbered list off to the side and chuckled at Henry's sloppy writing. Fortunately, he improved it somewhat over the years. If he hadn't, with crappy handwriting like that, she would have recommended he pursue a career in medicine.
"Number five," she read. She started at the bottom of the list of random things young Henry wanted to do in life. "Sneak into a rated R movie."
Thoughtful, Henry squinted. "Um… Silence of the Lambs… '91. My cousin snuck me in. Scared the hell out of me but got it out of my system." He shrugged. Abby popped her eyebrows at him impressed. She never had a taste for those kinds of movies. He was brave for watching one on the big screen at ten years old.
"Number four: steal one of Mrs. Cooler's baby water…melons? What the hell, Henry?"
"Uh…" He chuckled. "My cousin again. I don't know if you remember him but he was a pretty dedicated skeet shooter. When he ran out of ammunition, he liked to shoot fruit from the catapult." Right. Abby remembered him. Benson? Was that his name?
"And that brings us to number three," she went on. "Marry... a… princess." She looked over her shoulder and saw that Henry was frowning. All of the sudden he was sad again and it was all her fault. She instantly felt terrible for reading that one, but he would have seen it anyway. Though depressed, she could see, he tried to keep the mood light.
"Well. At least I had my priorities all figured out," he half-smiled. "Went straight from kidnapping a baby melon to marrying a princess."
Filled with dread, she said, "I… wrote that one for you. I remember you were stuck on that one… so I filled it in… I'm sorry, Henry." She lowered her eyes back down to the book and he shook his head at her.
"What do you have to be sorry for?" He laughed. "Seemed like a good number three at the time."
Abby couldn't help herself at that point. She walked over to set the book down on a nearby table and quickly returned to grab Henry by the arms. This was the opening she had hoped for. She talked to Trish, and now it was his turn for a one-on-one.
"It still is," she encouraged. "What did I say, huh? If you want her, you need to go get her. I happen to know Trish loves you very much. And I can see you love her too."
"So what?" Henry was the complete opposite of encouraged. "Obviously she wasn't satisfied or we wouldn't be having this conversation." Abby forced eye contact and every time he tried to look away she moved her head in his line of sight.
Shaking her head, she said, "Do I need to slap you or something? You're my best friend right? Am I not your best friend?"
Henry sighed at her approach. "You know you are, Abby."
"Then trust me, Henry. If there's anything I've learned in life, it's to never let go of the people you love. To just drop them from your life? It'll drive you crazy."
He laughed a little. "No," he said flatly. "You know what drives a person crazy? Love. Betrayal. Dishonesty."
Abby nodded and looked down.
"It's like I said." Henry watched her attentively. "Trust me. I know."
She was thinking about all of the people she left behind four years ago on Harper's Island. Her father may have been the one to send her away, but she was the one who never looked back. The one who abandoned the one true person she ever had feelings for and never wrote, never called. Abby did know how Henry was feeling, and all she wanted was for him to understand that before he ended up making a similar mistake.
He looked down at her hands closing over his, but she wasn't seeing much progress. He still looked as dead as he felt cold. Abby was fixing to drop the subject altogether when her finger brushed something rough on the top of his wrist. He looked down at her confused as she pushed the end of his sleeve up.
Abby winced. "Henry," she breathed. "What happened?" There was a long gash running partially up his arm from his wrist. It wasn't bleeding, but it didn't look like it had too much time to heal either.
"Played football with the guys last week," he said. "It doesn't hurt." Abby hovered her fingers around the area and then took her hand back. It looked nasty. He needed to put something on it to help jump-start the healing process if it was still looking like that after a week.
She chuckled. "I guess you had fun," she said. They used to joke back when they were kids that whoever had the most scars had the most fun that day. He remembered.
Henry smiled, his eyes wandering to the water.
"I guess I did."
Sully was hurrying to meet Henry halfway down the dock before he even had a chance to make it back to the heart of the party. Abby left him to go find a drink or two, so he was walking alone and looking at the scrapbook she gave him before he came along.
"Dude," Sully eagerly called to him. Henry leaned in to listen once he made it to him and he saw the look on his friend's face. "I didn't invite her I swear." He glanced to his right without doing anything obvious to draw attention to them, and Henry searched the area for the 'her' he was talking about.
Finally, his eyes found Trish Wellington, standing parallel from them at the other end of the pier. Henry glowered at Sully as if he didn't believe him, but his sandy-haired friend put his hands up in surrender.
"I swear," he said again. Unwilling but still forced to acknowledge her presence, Henry released an ill breath and stepped around him to make his way over to her.
In a pink miniskirt and a light blue spaghetti strap shirt, Beth Barrington, Trish's roommate for two years, made her way over to Abby. She was grabbing her second glass of champagne from a refreshment table when she made it to her.
"Abby!" Beth said. She turned to face the person calling her name and was surprised to find the girl already stepping into a hug. "Hey," she laughed. Abby's eyes widened on her shoulder.
"Beth," she greeted. "How are you?"
"I'm good, thank you." She had a very sweet smile on her face, and the decorative light shining down on her made her all the more pretty. "Trish told me you were here. I wanted to say hi before you ended up leaving again. Oh and bring Henry his present. I've had it hidden for weeks."
Abby glanced down at the birthday bag in her hand and all of the lime-y paper poking out of it. Henry had more friends than she could count. If she couldn't cheer him up maybe all of those millions of presents would.
She nodded. "That's nice of you."
And before she could say anything else, she caught sight of Trish and lost her breath. The sight of her was as much a surprise as it was worrisome. If she was here unannounced, she was probably going to get an earful from a bunch of angry guys who felt it was their duty to defend Henry's honor any second… but then she noticed Henry also standing there with her and the queasy feeling in her stomach died down to some small extent. He was talking to her. And calmly. Neither of them were shouting, and she had to wonder how long they had been there. Or how long Trish had.
Beth noticed her attention stray and looked around to see what she was focused on. She spotted the two of them seconds later, and she didn't look back at Abby.
"Trish is really sorry." She frowned. "I hope he can forgive her." Abby glanced at her, figuring they drove there together, and opened her mouth to agree but was interrupted before she could.
"Hey." At once, they both turned to see Lucy Daramour approaching. "What are you guys doing?"
Beth leaned close to whisper as though it were a secret. "Trish is talking to Henry." Lucy's eyes grew round as Abby took a swig of her drink and the girls stared openly at their conversing friends.
"Uh-oh," Lucy cringed. "Worried to see how this turns out." Beth nodded and Lucy bumped her arm. "Oh, by the way. Did you hear about your R.A.?"
Abby turned her back to the girls to grab another glass.
Beth shook her head. "No. What happened?"
"Her boyfriend killed himself," she said quietly.
Beth put a hand on her chest. "What? That's terrible."
"I saw it on the news earlier, so I asked around to see if anyone knew her," Lucy explained. "That was when I realized who she was. I knew I recognized her name. I only ever met her once but I know you know her. She found him hanging in his apartment. Isn't that sad?"
Sarah Taylor left a friend's house late this afternoon to find her fiancé Navy Houston dead in his apartment complex.
Abby swallowed, setting her drink down on the table as her hands, her legs, her entire body grew heavy. There was that word again. She looked around college students blocking her line of sight and saw that Trish had her arms wrapped around Henry's neck. She was crying, and he was holding her tight. From her perspective, he wasn't mad. He didn't look sad anymore either.
He was satisfied.