Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of CBS and are only used for fan related purposes. Any dialogue from the thirteenth episode, "Sigh", included is used only to further the story.
When Henry Dunn was ten years old, summer wasn't just a season—it was magic.
From the moment his family docked at the marina and disembarked from the ferry that brought them from Tacoma to Harper's Island, it was like someone had whisked him away to a young boy's heaven. With rocks to climb and waves to crash into and endless fish to catch... summer was his.
Well, his and Abby Mills'.
In the summer, the days seemed longer as if the clocks suddenly had extra hours to spare; the nights were absolutely incredible, the stars twinkling up above and the fireflies winking on and off like their own personal nightlights. You never had to go asleep during those magical months—let the dead sleep. Summer was for the living, for the vibrant and alive.
There was always something to do: a trip down to the marina, watching the fisherman, trying to catch their own pet guppies with a set of butterfly nets Charlie Mills provided them with. They could live down at the water's edge, lying out in the sun, building sand castles and poking fun at the tourists. And that was when they weren't playing in the local woods, camping out underneath the gnarled trees, telling ghost stories.
And then there was playing games. Playing soccer. Playing make-believe—pretending you were someone else.
Pretending you were from somewhere else.
There were the baseball games and loyally rooting for the Mariner's, and hose-water sprinklers that, while feeling just the same as the constant rain and drizzle, was just better. Sno-cones and ice cream cones and home-made chocolate chips from Sarah Mills' kitchen when the brain freeze wasn't enough and you just wanted an honest to goodness sugar rush.
All of those were reasons why, as a boy, Henry believed in the magic of summer.
But it wasn't why he lived for that time of year.
Henry saved that for Abby.
Their parents thought they were playing hide-and-go-seek or kickball or any of their childish games before the ferry left and the two were separated until the next summer. But to Henry Dunn and Abby Mills, it was more than a game.
Even if they were hiding.
Summer was ending, and you could feel it in the air. They were both dressed warmly, their only acceptance that fall was coming before long: he in his sweatshirt and her in her sweater. A soccer ball was tucked under Henry's arm and, as they ran, pretending they couldn't hear his father's calls, they headed down to an empty dock along the water's edge.
"Your dad's gonna be so mad," Abby said when they reached the planks. She glanced behind her to see if the adults had followed them but, surprisingly, they hadn't. Besides, it wasn't like they could run any farther. That was one of the downsides of living on an island—not that she could every convince Henry of that.
He shrugged, as if the idea of his father being angry didn't bother him... as if there was something else that bothered him more. "It's okay," he told her.
And Abby knew very well what was bothering him. "I don't want you to go either," she admitted.
"Yeah." Henry frowned and hugged his soccer ball close to him. "I just wished I lived here all the time like you, Abby. I mean, you don't know what it's like. Tacoma's so..."
"Boring?" supplied Abby.
"It's just not here," Henry said finally.
"But you'll be back next summer, right?"
"Yeah," he said, but even then he knew that it wasn't enough.
And leaning in, her sun-chapped lips sweet against his ear, Abby whispered:
"I wish you could live here with me forever, just the two of us."
When Henry Dunn was thirteen years old, summer wasn't just a season—it was a transition.
Summer was that time between the last school year and the next, from middle school to high school, from being a boy to finally starting to become a man.
He got a job that summer, the summer of '94, working on the boats down at the marina. He ended up helping with the repairs on a big, ritzy yacht owned by some stuffy, uptight man named Wellington from the mainland. It was hard work but he thrived. He knew his way around a boat, he took orders well and, like all the other locals, he learned to love the smell of salt and fish on the air.
Besides, he kind of liked the attention...
Mr. Wellington had a young girl about his age, a pretty brunette girl who always turned up in her teeny, weeny, frilly bikini whenever Henry was around (and, most noticeably, when her father wasn't). She offered him glasses of lemonade between batting her eyelashes and trying to come off as half as sophisticated as her older sister Shea. It didn't work too well—Henry thought she was cute, something she wasn't really going for—but, despite Mr. Wellington's obvious disapproval, he found another friend that summer.
That summer was the first where Henry had something to do beside tramp around Harper's Island with Abby. But, just because he was busy with his new work, that didn't mean that he didn't spend any and all of his free time with her when he could.
There was always something to do. There were bonfires on the beach and roller skating in the local rink and, on rainy days, visiting the Maritime Museum. There was the old cemetery to walk through and make up stories about the people who lived and died on the island before it belonged to Henry Dunn and Abby Mills. Running away from old Reverend Fain when he chased them from the gravestones was always worth it when he was running with his lifelong friend.
And, one memorable afternoon behind the Cannery, they could even share a quick, experimental kiss that Abby would later laugh off while Henry cherished it. Trish Wellington didn't kiss half as well as Abby in his opinion and, when it was over, all he could think about was going back home to Tacoma and rubbing it in Sully's face.
Except... it already felt like he was back home. At least, he was where he belonged.
Abby stood at the edge of the water, throwing rocks and skipping stones and trying to hide the pout that clouded over her dark eyes. Henry stood behind her, watching her wrist flick and the rocks fly and the stones dance. Her movement was so natural, so graceful, and he would've watched her for hours.
Except he couldn't. And they both knew that.
But that didn't stop them from spending their last day of summer together on that same empty dock they claimed as kids.
"What time is your ferry coming?" Abby called behind her, her voice quiet and dull and so very un-Abbylike.
"Tonight," he answered. "My parents said we could take the late one back."
Thunk. The rock sank in the water, Abby's snort of laughter throwing her rhythm off. "Did you threaten to throw J.D. overboard if they didn't?"
"Maybe," Henry said indignantly with a shake of his head. "Hey, last year we had to leave a whole week early because of my dad's stupid job. I couldn't let them do that to us again."
Slap. This time the rock hit the water with enough force to make it splash. There was suppressed teenage rage behind that toss.
"I don't know why you want to stay here any longer," Abby mused darkly. "I mean, it's just a boring old island—"
"I like Harper's Island."
"—and then there's all of your friends back home," she continued, as if he hadn't said anything at all. "What about your new best friend Sully? I bet you miss him. You sure talked about him enough this summer."
And, suddenly, Henry understood Abby's mood: where it was coming from and just what it might mean. The end of the summer was especially painful for him every year but Abby... she felt it, too. She always had, which always made his leaving even harder. He should've known that. And that wasn't all...
Trying not to think about that one afternoon behind the Cannery, Henry surged forward and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Listen, Sully's alright," he admitted, because how many other eighth graders made out with a junior in her car? "But he's not my best friend, Abby."
"Oh, really? Then who is? Trish?"
"Don't make me laugh. Trish? Trish Wellington? Um, no." He regrettably took his hand back and bumped into her playfully. "You know you are. You've been my best friend forever. Nothing's ever gonna change that."
The next time Abby let a stone fly, smiling to herself as she did so, it skipped beautifully for three jumps before sinking peacefully into the Pacific.
When Henry Dunn was nineteen years old, summer wasn't just a season—it was everything.
Summer started early that year. As soon as exams had ended, he packed his suitcase, paid Malcolm and Booth to clean out his dorm room and then whisked Trish off to Harper's Island before any of his friends could stop him (or Sully could try to tag along again). He just hoped Thomas Wellington didn't assume they ran off and eloped.
Though it did make him smile just a little to imagine the old man's face if he ever heard that his precious daughter was going to marry a nobody like Henry.
He needed to be back on Harper's Island. He needed to see Abby and find out what was going on between her and Jimmy. He needed to leave the mainland behind and give his relationship with Trish a good once-over without her Barbie doll girlfriends watching him, judging him, trying to fit him into their mold of what a perfect Ken boyfriend had to be.
One thing for sure: Henry wasn't anything like that schmuck Hunter Jennings all the girls seemed to be falling for.
Summer was a release, and one he'd been looking forward to for far too long now. Henry needed that break from school, from Trish's expectations, from his father looking at him as if he was carrying on the fine Dunn tradition. Considering what was going on with Uncle Marty and, well, there was always J.D., but he could see what his dad meant. Still, it was a lot riding on the shoulders of a college sophomore.
He needed Harper's Island. He needed Abby.
They were his everything.
To Henry, they were summer.
Henry had waited until the last minute to return back to the mainland and on purpose, too. Tomorrow he would spend the whole afternoon moving back into his dorm. But tonight... tonight he had one last star-filled, muggy night with Abby—
"Henry, toss me another one, would you?"
—oh, and Jimmy Mance too, he supposed.
The three of them were sitting in the bed of Jimmy's old, beat-up pick-up truck, sharing a sixpack of beer between them, even though if he caught them, Abby's father would've put Henry and Jimmy in the cells over night for corrupting his seventeen-year old daughter. Actually, Henry didn't like the idea of Abby drinking all that much either and he gladly tossed the beer over to Jimmy. The way he saw it, that meant one less beer for Abby who was way too much of a lightweight and was already sitting far too close to Jimmy for Henry's liking.
The beer opened with a snap and a whoosh as Jimmy lifted the can up high, letting the foam flow into his mouth. Abby laughed as she scooted away to avoid the spray and, since that meant she scooted right into Henry's reach, he allowed himself a small smile as he sipped his beer and, ever-so-casually, slung his arm contentedly over her shoulder.
Abby relaxed into him, tilting her head back so that she could look up at Henry. He felt he could drown in her dark eyes—until she said quite innocently, "It's a shame Trish had to leave so soon. She's missing all the fun."
He tried not to let her see how much her words stung him. Just then, his girlfriend was the last person on his mind. "Her daddy sent her to spend the rest of her summer with Shea and the baby," Henry told her.
"You mean, he wanted to get her off this island and away from all these bad influences," Jimmy offered with a charming grin, gesturing at Henry and Abby with his beer.
"Jimmy!" she scolded.
"No," Henry said, "don't worry about it, Abby. Jimmy's right. It's no secret Mr. Wellington wants me as far away from his precious little girl as I can get. Especially," he added, poking her in the side, "after what you did to that stateroom on his yacht."
"That wasn't me," she squealed in defense, wiggling to avoid Henry's poke. "Someone else must've drunk that expensive bourbon and then threw up all over his pillow."
Purposely avoiding his knowing gaze, Abby looked away from him and, instead, looked out over the ocean. Suddenly, she gasped and then pointed. "Look! A shooting star! Quick... let's all make a wish."
There was a moment of silence as Jimmy's beer still fizzed and the three of them made their wishes. And then, when it was over—
"So, what did you guys wish for?"
"We're not supposed to tell, Jimmy. Then they won't come true."
Jimmy chuckled at Abby's earnestness. "Well, I'll tell you. Me, I wished for my own boat. When I get her, I'm gonna call her the Sea Jay." He took another sip of his beer. "She'll be the best catch in the marina."
It was Abby's turn to laugh. "You wasted your wish on a boat?"
"Yeah, why not? Everything else I want I already have."
Despite the glaze in his eyes from downing three beers already, Henry could see what Jimmy was doing. Worse, from the way Abby reached out and took Jimmy's hand, it was working. Henry nudged Abby in her shoulder. "What about you?" When she hesitated, he smiled boyishly over at her as he added, "Come on, we're all friends here."
Abby gave in with a rush of breath as she said, "Alright, fine. I'll tell you. I wished to become a famous writer." And then, before either of the two boys could say a word against her wish, she hurriedly turned the question back on Henry. "What about you? It's your turn, Henry. What was your wish?"
Henry had no problem revealing his wish—or, at least, part of it. It was the same wish he'd made on every shooting star, birthday cake and wishing well for as far back as he could remember:
"I wished I got to live here," he said simply. "I wished it was summer all year round."
And he would've been able to, and probably soon too, if it wasn't for John Wakefield's rampage next summer that cost Sarah Mills her life, Abby her home and Henry his dreams of a happily-ever-after.
It was June 20, 2008: the first day of summer.
Henry Dunn was twenty-seven years old and, for the first time in seven years, he wasn't taking the ferry ride over to Harper's Island. And why should he, really? Abby wouldn't be there.
Not, of course, that that had stopped him those last six times, these last six years. No matter what, no matter what Trish wanted him to do that day or if he had a business meeting or his father had someone he wanted Henry to practice his, ahem legacy on... no matter what, he always took that day off and took the ride over if only to remind himself that the island was still there.
That it was waiting.
Neither of them would have much longer to wait...
But that was just it. The wedding was only three months away and with Trish thisclose to becoming a Bridezilla, Henry couldn't chance it. He couldn't risk this one day if it meant he might not get his forever. So he called Abby at her office, and he wished her a happy first day of summer, and he bugged her for the umpteenth time, teasing her about sending in her RSVP.
And then, slipping out of the apartment as Trish and Shea had another two hours discussion about some inane detail—the color of napkins, or something equally as ridiculous—he watched the sun set on the longest day of the year and smiled.
He would let them all have one last summer. Henry Dunn, for the first time in his life, was actually looking forward to September.
End Note: Well, happy first day of summer! I've been wanting to write a little more HI recently and, considering I happened upon the airing of the series last night on the Chiller channel - I know, what? I've never heard of the Chiller channel before yesterday - I was really into revisiting poor Henry, who is still my favorite character ;) Add that to the fact that today is the first day of summer and, well, this thing basically wrote itself.
Here's to hoping that I have a couple of more HI fics willing to be worked on :) At the very least, I do have half of another chapter to Inside a Broken Mind done, if anyone even remembers that!
Anywho, drop me a review, if you would. I'd love to hear what you think about this!
- stress, 06.21.11