Tom has really come into his own. He loves his new job and is actually pretty great at it. They just broke ground on his first skyscraper last week, a monumental banking building that will also house a preschool on the ground floor and a cancer research foundation on the fourth. He is secretly proud of himself every time he slips onto the worksite with his special credentials, wearing the hardhat as he surveys his work and garners compliments from various project managers. This is what he dreamt of all those years ago when he was still in college. This is more of the life he had in mind.
He also had a new girlfriend to go with the new job. Autumn was humble about losing out on the job to him, especially when she found work with a competing firm a few months after. It gives them something lively to debate over, but it never turns into an argument. She is perfectly content just to support him despite her occasional ribbing, and the two of them are very much in love. She still has her place, a cute loft in West Hollywood she shares with her best friend from grad school. However, she spends many nights at his place in his bed, and Tom never grows tired of having her there.
He has all these things and is actually doing pretty great until he sees Summer one day in the middle of October, standing in line at a café where he was supposed to meet a client. It's been a year since their day in the park, with the appropriately mature conversation and wistful thoughts about what could have been. Tom still misses her sometimes, though he would never admit it. There are some people you just never get completely over, and Summer was always going to be one of them for him.
He watches her for a moment before she spots him. She is smiling as she waits patiently in line with her sandwich and coffee, and Tom thinks about letting her leave the place unacknowledged. However, someone drops a tray behind him and the whole café turns, and just like that, his presence is known. She lifts her hand in a silent wave, her eyes dancing and her smile wide. Tom ducks his head sheepishly and scratches the back of his neck before looking back up at her with a slow grin.
"It's so great to see you," she greets him warmly; juggling her sandwich and coffee with one hand so that she can give him a hug. "It's been awhile. How have you been? I heard that you were working for an architecture firm now. That's wonderful."
Tom tells her a little about work and fills him in on his friends. She talks about the art classes she has been taking and about the little house she just bought up in the Hills with her husband. She asks if he is seeing anyone, and that leads to a conversation about Autumn. Tom's cell phone rings mid-conversation, and his client lets him know that he is running about 15 minutes late. He invites Summer to get a table – "hey, we both have to eat" – and the two of them hole up in the corner to talk about the new Decemberists album.
It's warm in the café, something she acknowledges before she stands up to take off her coat. It was unnoticeable before then, but as she shrugs off her khaki cargo jacket, Tom sees the smallest hint of a baby bump beneath her navy blue peasant dress. Summer realizes that he has realized and her hands drop to her stomach self-consciously. It still shouldn't hurt after all this time, Tom thinks, but it does.
"You're pregnant." It's not a question, an accusation or a cry. It's just a statement, this numbing observation that kills the little part of his heart that's still in love with Summer. "Uh, I mean, congratulations."
Summer smiles politely and takes a sip of coffee. "Yeah, four months," she answers softly. "This whole decaf thing isn't great, but I'm liking being pregnant. I find out in a few weeks if it is a boy or girl."
Tom wants to throw up, throw his drink and run out of the restaurant, but he can't do any of those things. Instead, he takes an extra long time to chew a bite of his turkey sandwich and then forces himself to smile again. "I am sure the baby will be beautiful," he tells her.
They talk for a few more minutes before his client shows up, and Summer excuses herself to head back to work. They hug briefly at the door, talk about getting together again soon, but Tom is relieved to know that it will never happen. He manages to get through the meeting and the rest of his day, but he's grateful when the clock finally strikes five and he's headed home on the freeway. Autumn is waiting for him when he finally makes it upstairs, her heels strewn about in the foyer and the remainder of her clothes littered in the hallway.
He finds her in pajamas – a pair of his old shorts and his favorite Smiths shirt – cooking pasta in the kitchen. Autumn asks about his day and he confesses that he ran into Summer. She listens to him as he talks about the pregnancy and is quiet as she observes his reaction. Finally, when he is finished talking, she sets down the spoon on the stove and comes around the bar to hug him. When she pulls away, he smiles at her sadly.
"What was that for?"
"For loving me because I am Autumn and not just because I'm not Summer."
It shouldn't make sense but it somehow does, and Tom knows that it's time to finally let it all go. Autumn isn't Summer and Summer isn't Autumn. In his book, that makes Autumn pretty great. She's his favorite season and his favorite girl. And a year later, after they've been married three months and she meets him at the same café on an October day, Tom finds out that it's his turn to be a father.