Now That It's Over

It was a cool spring morning, the grass covered in a fresh layer of dew crunching under his feet as he climbed to the top of the hill. His muscles ached and his joint popped from the bit of exertion. Twenty five years of chasing after bad guys had taken its toll upon his aging body. He wasn't as young or as spry as he'd been when he'd first made this trek five years before.

But this was something he knew he had to do. It had been weighing heavily upon his shoulders since the last time he'd seen her. He'd never told her the truth of what was in his heart even when she'd begged for him to do so. It hurt his heart to know that he'd never gotten the chance to do so.

He'd regretted it since the day she'd breathed her last breath.

He had to stop before he reached the cresting rise of the hill. Tears burned their way down his wrinkled cheeks from his blue eyes. She deserved to know the truth.

Taking in a deep calming breath, he dug his cane into the green grass at his feet, clutched at the flowers in his other hand and continued on.

The view from the top of the hill was breathtaking. He could see the sunrise in the east just above a sparkling man-made lake where a small collection of water foul had begun to gather together for a refreshing morning swim.

His heart warmed at the sight. It reminded her so much of the woman who'd claimed his heart so long ago and continued to hold that special place in his heart. It was a reflection of the beauty he remembered seeing shining forth from within her, and yet as beautiful as it was, it still would never be able to compare to her.

Closing his eyes, he allowed a gentle breeze to ruffle his graying hair before he turned his focus on the real reason why he'd come here today.

The stone was still as immaculate as the day it was carved. It was smooth granite with carvings of roses etched above and below her name. Simple, yet elegant. Just like she'd always been.

Dropping down to his knees, he laid the beautiful red roses against the headstone and brushed a few dead leaves away so he could see her name clearly. He couldn't resist allowing his fingers to trace the delicate scrollwork, following each and every letter of the engravings.

Lucille Alicia Dotson

Beloved Granddaughter, Daughter and Friend

He could pretend not to notice the lack of the title "wife", but it was all he could focus on. The guilt inside him flamed anew. It was all his fault that she hadn't been able to have that title. It was also his fault that she hadn't had anyone to continue the legacy of her warm and caring heart. It was all his fault and he would never be able to change that, no matter how many times he'd wished and dreamed that she could get the happy ending that she'd always dreamed of.

He was startled when a drop of moisture landed on the perfect bloom and even more so when he realized it had come from him. Wiping his head, he breathed in deeply. He couldn't afford to lose himself to his emotions and back out again. She deserved to hear the words from him, even if she wasn't there in person, he at least hoped that she would be there in spirit.

When he was sure he wouldn't backtrack, he rested back on his haunches and got himself comfortable for the talk that was way overdue.

"Hey, Luce," he said aloud, noticing the way his emotions were affecting his voice. It escaped him in a husky tone, far from the haughty protective shield he'd protected over the years. But it didn't surprise him. She'd always been able to bring out the best in him and build him into the man he'd become; the one he'd always wanted to be. "I know I'm probably the last person you'd ever expected to visit. But there are a few things that I need to say… things that I probably should have said a long time ago…"

Hey Lucy, I remember your name

I left a dozen roses on your grave today

I'm in the grass on my knees, wipe the leaves away

I just came to talk for a while, got some things I need to say

Finding the words was difficult. How was he supposed to start? How was he supposed to reveal what was in his heart when she wasn't even there with him anymore?

"I'm sorry," he croaked out as tears began to gather again. This time he didn't push them away. They seemed to help get his thoughts out into the open, so he just let them flow. "I so, so sorry… for everything." A breeze swept across the hilltop, leaves rustled from a nearby tree, and a faint fragrant scent danced across his senses. His eyes drooped as he breathed it in. Lavender in its most purest form; it was her scent.

Was she here with him? Was she listening to his words?

Picking nervously at the grass, a humorless chuckle escaped him. "I know the words are probably meaningless now, but I figured the time had come for you to finally hear them. I'm sorry, Luce and if I could change what happened between us, I would."

It had happened so many years ago, but to him it felt like it had been yesterday. It was after Sue had decided to remain in DC; long after that. But it was during that time that he'd begun to realize just what he'd lost when he'd planned that trip to Miami with that other woman. Too many years had passed for him to even remember her name! All he could think about, now, was the angel he'd let slip through his fingers… and the night he'd realized he could never have her.

"Oh, can you believe that Jack and Sue are getting married?" She was glowing with excitement almost as much as the bride-to-be.

He'd never thought he'd never live to see the day that Sir Jack would get off his duff and reveal his heart to their fair Sue; it was twice as shocking to discovered that he'd proposed! But he supposed that almost losing Sue to New York had finally made him see the light. Lucky man. "It's great," he said as he poured himself a fresh glass of lemonade. He tried to keep the dejection from his tone, she was too far up in the clouds to notice.

"It's better than great!" She just couldn't think of a better word.

They stood there in companionable silence as they watched the two lovebirds from afar. It was inevitable that Jack and Sue would end up together; no matter how slow they both had been on the uptake. Of course, Jack's little promotion hadn't hurt either. He was still their team leader, but he'd been given a new title that debunked the no-fraternization policy.

He smiled behind his glass as he watched Sue proudly show off the flawless diamond engagement ring to Tara and Donna.

"Do you think they'll always be this happy?" she asked.

He didn't know what to say at first. All he could focus on was the warmth of her body as she curled herself around him to get a better view of the lovebirds. "I'd like to think so," he told her truthfully. If anyone deserved a lifetime of happiness, it was Jack and Sue.

He'd made so many mistakes in his life, the biggest one standing right beside him, the warmth of her palm filtering through the fine silk of his dress shirt. What he wouldn't give to get a second chance with Lucy Dotson, a beautiful firecracker that brought so much peace and laughter into his life.

"Myles?" Her voice was so soft that it was barely above a whisper. She was looking at him with a puzzled expression on her face, a single eyebrow arched in wonder.

And he didn't blame her. He supposed the fact that he was staring at her had caught her completely off-guard. Tearing his eyes away from her, he distracted himself by taking a gulp of his drink.

His ears burned with embarrassment and he could feel the color beginning to creep up to his cheeks. He hadn't meant to let her see. It wouldn't do any good now, anyway. She could never completely forgive him for his previous actions, no matter how much he had changed before her very eyes. "How about we go congratulate the happy couple?" he requested, hoping to get away from her piercing gaze.

He took a step forward, but the grip on his arm had stopped him in his tracks.

"Myles, do you think we might be able to try again?"

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I'd give up all the world to see

That little piece of Heaven looking back at me

The bold question had caught him completely off guard. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever believed that she would even consider taking him back, let alone trying it all over again. It had been a complete shock to his system and now that he was looking back at it, he desperately wished that his answer had been different.

He should have said yes.

She should have been his.

But he didn't and she wasn't.

"I was so terrified that the past would repeat itself. I'd hurt you once because I was scared of the love I'd felt for you and I didn't want that to happen again." Another mirthless chuckle rumbled from within his chest. "Of course, I still ended up hurting you anyway, didn't I?"

The pain in her eyes at his rejection had made his heart crumble to a million pieces. And now as he was reliving the memory, he felt it break all over again. More tears were rolling down his cheeks and he didn't even bother to brush them away.

"I wish things had ended up different. I wish that my answer had been different and I would have been able to come home to the life we'd made together. I wish I would have been able to hold you every single night. I wish I would have allowed myself to love you."

Trembling sobs shook his shoulders as his emotions took over, pouring like two raging rivers from his eyes.

"I loved you so much, Lucy. And even today when you're no longer here with us—with me—I still love you. I never wanted it to end like this for us. I never wanted you to leave me without knowing the truth. I've fought it for so long, but I don't want to anymore. I want the world to know that you've always been the only one that my heart beat for."

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I've gotta live with the choices I made

And I can't live with myself today

It was little consolation now, he knew and still wished that it was her face he was revealing these things to instead of a cold piece of stone. But she was gone and no matter what, there wasn't anything he could do to change that.

Blinking away the final remnants of his most recent emotional outburst, he returned his gaze to the piece of rock sitting before him. His eyes traced over the two dates listed, but settling on the first and just staring. He wouldn't pretend not to notice the date. June 6th. Today.

It was the day of her birth, the day that she was brought into this cruel world only to be destined for heartbreak. Ironic wouldn't begin to describe it.

"Happy Birthday, Lucy," he whispered to the wind as it weaved through his hair. "I love you."

Closing his eyes, he sent a silent prayer heavenward, hoping against hope that she would somehow receive his admission and apology. The scent of lavender became stronger and a sense of calm warmed his chilled heart. She'd heard. How he knew, he wasn't sure, but someone up above had delivered the message.

He chuckled at the tears that dripped onto the backs of his hands. These ones weren't of sadness, but joy. She'd heard his words and that was all that mattered.

After adjusting the bouquet of Crimson Myles roses, he braced himself up on his cane as he climbed to his feet, his aging joints crackling and popping at the movement. It was time to go home. So, with one last glimpse at the beautiful view from the quaint little hill, and one more look of longing to the gravestone, he turned and began his trek back to his life of solitude and loneliness, without the woman he loved.

Hey Lucy, I remembered your birthday

They said it'd bring some closure to say your name

I know I'd do it all different if I had the chance

But all I've got are these roses to give

And they can't help me make amends

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I'd give up all the world to see

That little piece of Heaven looking back at me

He was home. At least, that's what he was supposed to call it. To him, it was just a place he lived in. If it was his home, it would be filled with love and laughter, delicious smells, the people he loved…

A depressed sigh rushed from his lungs as he shrugged off his trench coat and hung it up on the coat rack against the wall. He kicked off his shoes, leaned his cane against the wall and set his keys down in their place beside the door.

The house was quiet. Much too quiet for his liking.

Outside, the world was alive with joy. The children down the street were happily playing in their yard as their mother prepared dinner. He could hear the little girl's squeal of delight as she and her older brother played tag.

His old heart couldn't bear the pain. He could have had that, love, children, a completely different life when he didn't feel so alone.

He chuckled as he walked down the short hallway to the kitchen. Sue constantly reminded him that he wasn't alone. He still had his friends around him. And while it was a small consolation, it wasn't what he truly wanted.

'Can't change anything, now,' he reminded himself as he reached into the fridge and made himself something small to eat. He wasn't really hungry. The day had tired him out more than anything and all he wanted to do was crawl into bed and move on with the rest of his life.

He quickly made a sandwich and poured himself a glass of milk. Sitting at his kitchen table, the silence was almost too much to bear. Maybe Tara was right. There was nothing he could do about his past now, but he could certainly focus on his present and future.

She'd been trying to pawn off one of the furry little beasts she and Koala Boy's dog had whelped and he would admit that a companion, even a furry one, might help him rid himself of the personal funk he'd found himself in.

He would call her tomorrow and see if she was still holding on to the little runt of the litter for him. For now, he was going to bed.

Setting his plate and glass in the sink, he headed upstairs to his bedroom to change into his pajamas. The room smelled of roses. In fact, his entire house smelled of them.

He had the beautiful blooms in every corner of the house. But these weren't his notorious Crimson Myles's. They were a new breed he'd concocted and had even competed in competitions with after he'd retired from the Bureau. They were his prized Lucy Bells; bright yellow blooms with bright red tips. They reminded him of a flickering candle and even more of the fire in Lucy's eyes when she was alive.

He was going to present them to her while she was in the hospital, hoping that perhaps they could help her recover from the illness that had infected her so terribly. But when he'd arrived, he'd discovered that it was already too late. The pneumonia had already spread to her lungs and she'd passed early in the morning.

Turning back the covers of his bed, he refused to allow anymore tears to fall. He was one to barely shed a tear and he'd cried more today than his entire lifetime. He hadn't even cried so much during the funeral. His body had still been struck by the shock that she was gone.

No more, though. He'd said what he'd kept buried deep inside himself for so long and that was what he'd set out to achieve. Whatever happened now, he needed to promise himself that he wouldn't shed another tear.

That decided, he crawled into bed, flicked on the little television in the corner and lay there until he finally drifted off in a peaceful slumber. His first in a very long time.

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I've gotta live with the choices I made

And I can't live with myself today


He stirred slightly at the voice calling his name, but was wrapped so tightly in his blissful dream cocoon that he wasn't ready to wake up yet. "Five more minutes," he mumbled and rolled over onto his stomach.

"Wake up, Harvard!"

A sharp pinch to the back of his thigh jolted him into consciousness. He rolled over again, only to find that he'd run out of bed. He landed with a thud upon his hardwood floor. "Ow!"

A soft giggle reached his ears. It was a beautiful sound. Almost like wind chimes blowing in a summer breeze. "Did you ever think of adding carpet to this room?"

"The thought had crossed my mind," he groaned as he tried to pull into his lungs the oxygen he'd lost during his tumble.

There was that tinkling of laughter again and it made him freeze. A chill ran down his spine as recognition took hold. He knew that laugh. But it couldn't be; it just couldn't."

Taking care not to injure himself anymore than his fall probably had, he pushed himself up onto his knees. But as he did so, he noted a difference. The usual crackle and pop of his joints wasn't there. In fact, he felt none of his usual aches and pains and his arms were even strong enough to support his weight. He felt rejuvenated, refreshed… he felt incredible!

"It's a great feeling, isn't it?"

He jumped back. Her voice had moved closer to him and he swore that he could smell fresh lavender. And as he looked up, he could see why. If he was dreaming, he wasn't sure he ever wanted to wake up. She stood before him, a vision in a simple white sundress. She looked positively… angelic.

"Lucy?" Her name got stuck in his throat as he choked on it. How could she be standing there, in his bedroom, looking as young and lovely as she had when he'd first fallen in love with her?

"It's good to see you again Myles," she smiled at him, holding out a hand to help him up. He glanced between that beautiful smile and the hand that hovered just a few inches away from him, skepticism clear in his eyes. Her smile only widened. "I'm not going to bite, I promise."

"H-how are you here?" His eyes widened at a sickening thought. "Am I dead?"

She laughed at that question, but shook her head, dark tendrils bouncing back and forth as she did. "No. You're still very much alive." Although his current lifestyle might make some believe otherwise.

Accepting that, he reached out to accept her help getting to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught his reflection in the floor-length mirror that was situated in the corner of the room. Slipping away from her, he took in the shocking sight. He hadn't seen this reflection in almost twenty-five years. No wonder he felt so different this morning. He was young again!

His gaze shot back to Lucy as he pointed back to his reflection. "How?"

She continued to smile at him as she bridged the gap between them. "It's a long story; one that I can't even comprehend myself. But, you and I, we've been given a gift." His confusion spoke volumes and she wished she knew all the answers to wash it all away. "Apparently, I wasn't the only one who'd heard your words yesterday morning." She shrugged and left it at that and by the look in his eyes, he was ready to accept that.

"How long do we have?"

Her brown eyes filled with sadness. "Not long." Not nearly long enough, anyway.

So, that meant he had to take full advantage of this time they had while he could. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her to him, breathing in deep the scent that had plagued him for years. He took in the warmth of her body, molded together with his; her soft curves and perfect fit to his broad angles.

He didn't speak as he held her in his arms. He just savored the moment as she clung to him as tightly as he did to her. Her lips brushed against the column of his throat and he shivered in response. His own grazed against the shell of her ear and he both heard and felt the air rush from her lungs.

My God, how he loved this woman. And now it was time that he told her, face-to-face. No more fears. No more worries. Only what was in his heart.

He pulled away only a fraction from her. He continued to hold on tightly as he stared down into those gorgeous eyes as she smiled up at him. Cupping her chin lightly, he positioned her just the way he wanted her before leaning down and unable to resist brushing his lips against hers in the briefest of kisses. "I love you, Lucy," he whispered against her mouth as she responded to his diminutive ministrations.

The warmth of her hand covered his and gave a gentle squeeze. "I know, Myles. I love you too."

Here we are, now you're in my arms

I never wanted anything so bad

Here we are for a brand new start

Living the life that we could've had

"I don't want this to ever end," he spoke tenderly into the smoothness of her hair. A few measly hours just weren't enough to be with her.

"I know," she sighed contently as she stared out at the luscious rose garden decorating his backyard as he pushed the porch swing into motion with one foot. It had certainly expanded since the last time she'd seen it and it was only more beautiful with each and every colorful bloom. The day had been absolutely perfect. She and Myles had talked for hours, clearing the air between them one final time. "This has been the best day of my life."

The motion of the swing stopped as he stared down at her. The expression on his face was indescribable and she broke out into fits of giggles because of it.

"You know what I mean." Her brown eyes rolled Heavenward as she shook her head at him.

He chuckled in return as he pulled her closer to him. She willingly snuggled up into his chest, her ear pressing against the steady beat of his heart. "I just wish…" He was stopped from finishing that sentence by two fingers gently pressing his lips to silence.

"Don't. Please, Myles, you promised. No more regrets." She was pleading with him. She hated seeing the pain in his eyes as the guilt continued to eat at him.

She was right, he knew, but he couldn't help the way he felt. "I know," he growled and pulled away from her as he climbed to his feet. "It's just… if things had turned out differently, we would have been able to experience this together every single day… If I hadn't run, you could have been all mine."

"I was," she informed him, hoping that her words would put him back in his place. "I still am. And I always will be." Climbing to her feet, she stepped toward him and curled both her arms around one of his own. "No matter what, Myles Leland, I am yours and nothing will ever change that." Sighing, she rested her head upon his shoulder, inwardly smiling when his arm snaked around her waist. "We're together now and we'll be together again. How about we just enjoy the time we have left?"

"I like the sound of that." Curling his fingers around hers, he gave a tug. "C'mon, I have something to show you." He led her from the porch to the very rear of the garden where the collection of Lucy Bells were growing, their intoxicating fragrance washing over them.

Her gasp of surprise made him smile. Leaning down, he gently removed one perfect blossom from its place among its brothers and sisters and presented it to her.

She breathed the scent, a gorgeous smile parting her luscious lips. "They're beautiful."

"They're called Lucy Bells. I've been growing them for years." His tone suddenly filled with sadness as the memory washed over him. "I was going to present you with a bouquet when you were in the hospital…" he trailed off as tears filled his eyes.

Tears filled her own eyes as realization washed over her. "But, I wasn't there anymore," she finished for him. He nodded and wiped away the moisture that was hovering over her long silky eyelashes. "I'm sorry I left before you had the chance to give me these. They really are beautiful."

"Just like you," he replied simply.

Oh, this just wasn't fair. She wasn't so sure this visit with him was a gift anymore. It felt like she was being tortured. How was she supposed to enjoy just this one day and then leave it all behind? Especially now when she could see the sun beginning to set. "I love you Myles."

He shook his head as she pulled away from him. "Don't go."

"I have to." Reaching up, she tenderly cupped his chin in her palm. "But, I promise that we'll see each other again soon and then we won't ever have to be apart again."

"I love you Lucy," he told her tenderly and dipped down to taste the sweet nectar of her lips one more time before he had to let her go yet again. "I'll see you soon."

She smiled against his gentle ministrations to her lips, matching his ardor kiss for tender kiss. "Not too soon," she mumbled breathlessly as she gazed up into his shimmering blue eyes that glazed over with confusion at her words. She leaned in and kissed it away. "Take Tara up on her offer. You won't regret it."

"How did you know about that?"

She grinned as she slipped from his arms, a warm breeze shuffling the skirt of her dress. She was being called back. It wouldn't be much longer now. "That's the best part about being up there," she told him with a playful wink, "you get all the best gossip."

He shook his head and rolled her eyes at her comment. "I love you."

She blew a kiss in his direction. "I love you too."

Me and Lucy walking hand in hand

Me and Lucy never wanna end

Just another moment in your eyes

I'll see you in another life in Heaven

Where we never say goodbye

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I'd give up all the world to see

That little piece of Heaven looking back at me

He woke with tears in his eyes and fresh moisture streaking down his cheeks. It was a bit disorienting as he tried to take in his surroundings, but the softness of the mattress underneath him and the soft stream of light filtering in from the window told him that he was back in his bedroom.

Of course…

Had he ever left? Had his day with Lucy been nothing but a dream? Had the stress of revealing his true feelings affected his subconscious and deliver him with such a wondrous night that hadn't even been real?

He winced as he rolled over onto his side. His back was as stiff as a board this morning, so he clutched at the duvet to help him roll the rest of the way over. His fingers brushed against the softness of silk and his immediate response was to grab hold of it and never let it go.

But it was only a rose.

He peered at it curiously as he picked it up and twirled it between his fingers. It had been the bud he'd plucked and given to Lucy in his dream. Odd. And even more so was the fact that there was a golden thread tied around the stem, a small folded piece of paper attached to it.

Curious, he untied it and unfolded it to read the one line scribbled upon it:

"I Love You."

His heart warmed at the sight. It hadn't been a dream after all. It had been real. He'd actually held her in his arms. He'd tasted those sweet, pouting lips. And he felt complete for the first time in years.

Now that it's over, I just wanna hold her

I've gotta live with the choices I made

And I can't live with myself today

Here we are, now you're in my arms

Here we are for a brand new start

I've got to live with the choices I've made

And I can't live with myself today

He whistled along to the radio as he greeted the day. He showered, welcoming the soothing heat of the water, shaved and dressed all still with an extra bounce in his step. He fixed himself a simple breakfast of toast slathered in strawberry jam and stood at his kitchen window, just staring out into the beauty that God—with a little help from himself—had created.

He was still unsure about his… encounter was the only word he could think to describe it. There were so many things he just couldn't explain; things that had been pure dream and others that had been so very real. If it had been real… well, there was certainly no way to explain any of it. His friends would probably think him crazy if he'd even tried to tell them about it. But, if it had been all a dream, then how had he woken up with the very rose he'd given to Lucy laying beside him and a note with her handwriting on it?

It hurt his head to think so hard about it. Perhaps it was better to just accept it as a moment of bliss and treasure it for the rest of his life.

He smiled at that thought as he placed his dirty dish in the sink and prepared to head outside to tend to his garden.

He heard the cars pull up outside before he had the chance to escape into his own private Garden of Eden. Shaking his head, he chuckled and started toward the front door instead. He should have known that he would be getting a visit today. It was after all—according to the radio—June 7 and for the past five years, he needed the companionship of his friends. Boy, were they going to be surprised by his demeanor today.

Opening the door, he greeted his friends with a warm smile as they moved up the path. Sue and Jack greeted him first, both wearing expressions of sheer surprise when they didn't see the usual frown he wore on this day. A deep depression fell upon his entire home the day after Lucy's birthday and they would try their best to just be there for him. But, they were surprised to see that he was doing well. In fact, he looked better than they'd seen him in a long time.

"You're looking good, Myles," Jack commented, slapping his old friend on the back as he followed his wife inside.

"I'm feeling good, Jack," was his response as he waiting for Tara and Bobby. They had opened the rear hatch of their SUV and were fiddling with something. He could wager a guess as to what that something was.

A shrill yipping sound coming from within informed him that his suspicions were correct. A few seconds later, a young Australian Shepherd pup hopped down from the vehicle and began sniffing its new surroundings.

Chuckling, he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the door jam with a shake of his head. "You just couldn't resist, could you?"

Tara merely shrugged as she took hold of the leash attached to the puppy and smiled. "What can I say?"

"You should know better by now, Harvard, that when my wife gets an idea in that brain of hers, it'll stay there until it's through." Bobby laughed heartily at the glare his wife shot him. "It was a compliment, Luv," he reassured her with a kiss to the top of her head.

She just rolled her eyes at him and turned her attention back to Myles. "I just knew that when you met her, you wouldn't be able to resist."

Darn it if it wasn't the truth, too. The animal was covered in black and white fur, her eyes a brown color that caused a slight stir in his heart. Those eyes… they reminded him so much of…

"We named her Lucy." Tara's voice was barely above a whisper, but he'd heard.

His heart did a summersault in his chest as he gave the furry beast a once-over. He'd only just met the dog, but the name fit. "I like it," he told her and beckoned them all into his home.

Me and Lucy walking hand in hand

Me and Lucy never wanna end

I've got to live with the choices I've made

And I can't live with myself today

Myles had to admit, the animal had spirit; just as much as her namesake.

He chuckled as Lucy tackled the stuffed toy Bobby tossed to her, flipping herself end over end until she landed on her back with her feet up in the air. Rolling back to her feet, she didn't miss a beat as she tossed it up in the air with her nose and chased after it.

"She'll be a handful," his old Aussie friend warned him as she became bored with her toy and wandered back over toward him. He rubbed at her muzzle, which she seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

"But, it'll all be worth it," Tara assured him with a grin. She wore the same smile she'd worn the day each one of her and Bobby's four children had been born. Little Lucy was just another one of their children that was just about to leave the nest.

"You can stop trying to convince me, you know?" He'd known them long enough to know that that was what they'd been doing.

"So, you'll take her?"

One side of his mouth lifted in a smirk. Tara was about to burst with happiness. Glancing down at his young charge, their eyes met and some sort of silent communication passed between them. He wouldn't be making a mistake with this, he was sure of it. "How can I turn away a face like that?"

He wasn't sure how it happened, but the rest of the morning had turned into an impromptu celebration. It was a blend of two completely different things; remembrance of an old friend and the welcoming of a new member into their close-knit family. It had been Sue and Tara's idea from the beginning, he was sure. And Lucy would have loved it if she'd been there.

He smiled at the thought as he poured some water from the tap into new Lucy's bowl. She thirstily lapped at the cool liquid as he found himself once again staring out at his garden. A stray breeze brushed against the vibrant blooms and his heart swelled with love.

She'd been there with all of them today as they all toasted to her, sharing stories and memories of a time thought long forgotten.

She'd been there then, and she'd be there with all of them for the rest of their lives. They would never forget her, just as she would never forget any of them.

Hey Lucy, I remember your name…