I have my last final of the semester in FIVE HOURS.
As bad as it was,
as bad as it hurt,
I thank god I didn't get
what I thought that I deserved.
Sometime life leads you down a different road
when you're holding on to someone that you've got to let go.
Someday you'll see the reason why...
When he saw her sitting on the bench in the park, he swore he could feel his heart jump straight to his throat. It had been nearly ten years since the last time he saw her in person and he couldn't help but think that she looked just as beautiful as he remembered. Her hair was longer now, and lighter, though there was still not a touch of gray streaking through as the sunlight glanced off of it. As he moved closer to her, he couldn't resist calling out to her, and he felt his lungs fill at the sight of her wrapped up in a red peacoat, a scarf wound around her neck with her hands shoved into her pockets, her cheeks flushed from the autumnal chill that had finally settled itself over the city as she looked at him, a surprised smile blooming over her face.
Just as beautiful as he remembered, and yet, oh so different.
The angles of her face had softened. She had some more laugh lines around the corners of her eyes. Her eyebrows were different, he thought inanely, but it worked for her. The shape of them opened her eyes more - Her bright, hazel eyes that looked so unguarded, so unburdened.
So very… free.
It made him stop short for a moment, and he stood there staring at her until she raised an amused eyebrow at him, and he felt something tugging on his hand.
"Daddy can I go play?"
He looked down at the little girl whose hand was wrapped around his finger, her blue eyes so like his, her blonde curls so like her mother's and he had to bite back the surge of affection for his daughter.
He let go of her hand, nudging her in the direction of the playground a little ways away from the park bench with a smile and she took off.
"She's beautiful," Kate said, giving him a smile.
He sat down next to her on the bench, getting comfortable before looking fondly towards the playground his little girl was running towards, ignoring his urge to go over and carry her all the way there just so she didn't fall and hurt herself.
"She looks just like her mother," he said tenderly before looking over at her, glancing at her up and down quickly, "You look good."
Kate raised a good-humored eyebrow at him before she let herself relax, her smile softening.
"You look good, too."
They sat in a comfortable silence for a moment.
"When did you get back to New York?" she asked quietly, looking over at him.
He had to think about it.
"Ah… It was… three years ago. Yeah, right before Natalie was born. Sarah wanted to see the city and we just… never left."
She smiled at him, glancing back at the playground momentarily, the wind picking up her hair as the cool autumn breeze blew through the park.
"So what about you?" he asked, "Did you ever leave?"
She turned back at him, laughing lightly as she shook her head.
"I never had a reason to go."
He watched her eyes go unfocused for a second, though her smile never faltered, and he fought back a sigh.
He had worried about her.
He hadn't meant to fall in love with Sarah the first time he met her, but he had. And before he knew it he was retiring and asking her to marry him and a year later they were back in New York with a daughter and he was happier than he ever thought he would be.
But Sarah loved the Nikki Heat series, so every time a new book came out he thought about her again. He had told her about how he knew Nikki Heat, all of their history, but she wasn't the jealous type. It never bothered her. And she understood.
He'd always love Kate in a way.
He thought she was his only chance at forever until he met Sarah.
He hoped that Kate found that eventually.
The taste of forever.
He didn't keep up with popular news anymore. He never found much of it interesting to start with. He was still in New York when she got shot at Montgomery's funeral, and he considered sending her flowers while she was in the hospital but he didn't know how she'd take it, or even if she'd accept them.
The dedications in the Nikki Heat books never gave him any indication if anything had changed. Every novel was still dedicated to her, a simple 'To Kate' that always made him wonder if she'd gotten her head out of the clouds and finally came to her senses because when he'd met that man he was already 3 steps towards falling in love with her. He couldn't blame him for it, but Kate hadn't changed since he had seen her the last time before that. She was still stubborn and determined, haunted and guarded. She was still the unstoppable cop that his caught his eyes so many years before.
So different than the woman sitting next to him right now.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his mind unable to stop the question in his thoughts from tumbling out of his lips when something cut him off.
Kate looked over towards the playground and Will followed her gaze, understanding quickly filtering through his mind as he watched a little boy with brown hair run towards them. He couldn't be much older than Natalie, his short brown curls bobbing in the wind, his hat starting to slip from his head as he ran as quickly as he could, his tongue peeking out past the corner of his lips and his blue eyes focused on Kate.
Kate sat up straighter, waiting to speak until the boy parked himself right in front of her, his tiny chest heaving as he smiled at her.
"What is it?" she asked, reaching out and tugging his hat firmly back in place over his ears.
"My watch went off! We have to go!" the boy declared, holding up his wrist to reveal a little plastic watch, the face showing it was quarter to two.
Kate laughed lightly, pulling up the sleeve of her coat to look at the watch he knew had once belonged to her father, before she nodded.
"You're right," she said, "Your daddy will be out of his meetings soon. You ready to go?"
The boy nodded furiously, and Will couldn't keep the smile off of his lips as the boy quickly took a step back, bouncing on his heels as he held out his hand to her.
Kate fixed her sleeve and straightened her coat slightly, pulling her phone out of her pocket and checking it before stretching slightly.
"Come on, momma!" the boy said, still bobbing up and down on his toes, "We have to go save daddy from the evil publishers!"
Kate laughed, finally reaching out and taking the little boys hand, letting him pull her up.
"Did he tell you they were evil?"
The boy just kept tugging on her hand, trying to get her to move.
"Calm down," she said, trying to sound stern but failing miserably before she turned back to him, her smile genuine.
"Good seeing you, Will."
Will nodded, the corner of his lips tilting up at her.
"Good to see you, too, Kate."
She turned away from him with a little nod, looking down at her son and the two began walking away, the little boy trying to run but Kate constantly tugged him back, forcing him to walk beside her.
Will smiled warmly, watched until the two of them faded from his line of sight onto the crowded streets of New York hand in hand. He leaned back against the weathered wooden bench, his hands finding their way into his pockets as he looked back towards the playground just in time to see his nearly 3 year old daughter attempting to climb the monkey bars. He immediately sat up straight.
"Natalie! Be careful!"
Sometimes, yeah sometimes
there's good in goodbye.
- Good in Goodbye, by Carrie Underwood.