Two Women

Sitting on a bench with a woman who technically is Natalie, you're not happy. Not comfortable, not content, not any of the things you think you should be. Natalie is gone, officially and truly never existed, and now here's this woman Caroline, who's in some ways scarily like her, but is not and will never be Natalie Vincent, even though she seems to be trying to do just that.

It's even making you a little angry.

Three days ago you were in a hospital trying really, really hard not to remember a kiss that never happened. Three days ago you believed that once in your life you had a moment, a brief, glowing spark of a moment, when you truly got to connect with another person, on a level deeper than any you'd ever known.

Now you know that never happened. Just like your kiss with Kate, a flash of joy and fire that you'd never touched before. You never touched it at all, only the pale imitation of it that your brain cooked up to torture you with.

She's peering over your shoulder at the crossword and you know she's biting back the answers, and you hate her, because she is the reason you've never known the love of another person. Because she is real, and her name is Caroline Newsome and she went to University of Michigan, Natalie never existed and you never met the most wonderful woman in your life. Because you've always been holding out for Natalie, in some part of your heart, you've never taken a chance on anyone else. Not even Kate, who is still apparently willing to put up with you, and that must count for something, right?

Her hands are so little, and weirdly soft considering she handles a gun professionally. Warm, with slim little fingers that have to grip tight at her palm presses hard against yours, trying in vain to circle your hand. Comforting. You know that was real, you remember it more clearly than anything else that evening. Kate Moretti in your arms, Kate Moretti by your side.

And Kate Moretti, kissing you in the basement of the FBI. You know that wasn't real, but that doesn't mean you'll ever forget it. You may well die with the memory of that kiss, probably the most passionate you'll ever know, searing on your lips, the phantom caress that never happened. Just the thought makes your heart beat leaden in your chest.

Natalie, no, Caroline, is still behind you, and you think you should probably speak. Say something. But you're sick of saying things. You're sick of talking to people who aren't there, and never being able to say the things that matter to the people who exist. You're sick of dreaming of kissing Kate.

And you feel sick sitting there, realizing that the two women you love are further away than they've ever been.