Growing up in California, Sara was always used to perpetual sunshine. Blue skies and warm weather were the norm for her, not the exception, and if she’d harboured any doubt that that was the kind of weather she preferred, the year she’d spent in Boston had removed them. Snow had been a novelty at first, as had ice and frost, but by the end of that cold winter, she’d taken to humming “California Dreaming” under her breath, had literally dreamed of the roar of the Pacific against the rocks of Tomales Bay, waking up with the smell of salt in her nostrils.
If you’d asked her, during her sophomore year when she’d transferred to Berkeley, if she’d ever move back to the East Coast, she would have said that there was more chance of her winning the lottery.
But then she’d met Tony.
She’d met Tony, and she hadn’t hesitated in packing up her life, moving clear across the country to be with him, and she’d never regretted that choice. Not even in those terrible months when their lives fell apart around them, when she’d run away to Las Vegas, spending nearly six months working with Gil Grissom’s team, had she regretted what she and Tony had.
But she’s home now, back where she belongs, and as she shifts in Tony’s arms, feeling them tighten momentarily around her, she reflects that this was one advantage that San Francisco and Las Vegas never had. Not the man, not exactly; after all, she knows Tony would have relocated with her if she’d asked him to. However, neither in Las Vegas, nor in San Francisco would they be doing this; sitting on the couch, wrapped in one another’s arms, in front of a roaring fire.
The fireplace had been, way back when, one of the reasons they’d bought this place, even though it had been in need of a little renovation, even if it was a little bigger than they’d originally planned. One look had been all it had taken to convince Sara that this was where she wanted to live; for the first time in her life, she’d walked into an empty room and had seen it decorated in a perfect mixture of her taste and Tony’s, her mind’s eye supplying the flames in the fireplace, the streets lights from outside reflecting in the large bay window opposite, and she’d seen herself and Tony, and who knows, maybe a kid or two, being happy there.
They had been happy, and they’re happy again now, together. The cold November night is securely kept outside, and, unlike so many nights in the previous few weeks, she knows that there will be no phone calls, no Time Bar killing. That case is closed now, safely put to bed, and when Tony walked in the door tonight, he looked as if ten tonnes of weight had been lifted from his shoulders. They’d had a quiet dinner – Chinese takeout that he’d picked up on the way – and a bottle of wine, and now her head is pillowed on his chest, one of his hands running through her hair.
“Andy and Connie came to see me today.” His quiet voice breaks the silence, breaks her reverie, and she shifts slightly so that she can look up at him.
“Oh?” she says, because it’s not exactly unheard of for two of his detectives to call into his office. However, considering it’s these two detectives, considering their aborted wedding plans in the summer, considering the semi-amused, semi-wistful tone of his voice, she’s listening very carefully.
“The wedding’s back on,” he says, which doesn’t surprise her, and, “Tonight,” which does. “Right about now,” he says, eyes darting to the clock above the mantelpiece which reads half past eight.
“And you know nothing about it,” Sara surmises, a statement that has his teeth flashing white between his lips, brown eyes dancing with amusement.
“Naturally,” he agrees. “But that’s not all they had to tell me.” Sara looks up at him again, tilts her head in silent question, and one hand tangles in the ends of her hair, the other resting on the small of her back as he tells her, “Connie’s pregnant.”
It’s the last thing she was expecting to hear. “Wow,” is her first spoken reaction, part surprise, part genuine happiness for the couple. But at the same time, she can’t help thinking back to another night spent here, in front of this fire, on this couch, when Tony had held her close and kissed her, his smile threatening to split his face wide open. She can see him coming home the next night, finding her already there, in his hands the tiniest baseball mitt she’d ever seen. More painfully, she remembers going to that couch when he took her home from the hospital, remembers the tears she cried into the cushions, the ache in her body nothing compared to the ache in her heart.
She shakes herself, trying to banish the memories, because she wants to be happy, genuinely happy, for Andy and Connie. “That’s great,” she says, trying to sound like she’s putting her whole heart into it, but she knows it falls a little short. She looks down, momentarily ashamed, but he doesn’t act surprised, or upset, just keeps his hands moving over her hair, her back.
“Yeah,” he says, sounding nothing so much as wistful. “It’s great.”
“How’s Andy taking it?”
She’s talking without any real idea of what she’s saying, needing to hear Tony’s voice, needs to feel it surrounding her, like his arms surround her. “I’ve never seen him happier… he even smiled.” She chuckles and so does he before he pulls her tighter against him, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “You ever think…”
His voice trails off, but she knows what he’s thinking, feels the knowledge burn her throat, make her eyes water. “Yeah,” she whispers. “Yeah, I do.”
It’s the first time they’ve ever come close to talking about it, certainly since she came back, and she feels him sigh. “Me too,” he murmurs. A pause, then, “I think about a little girl…looking exactly like you…”
She’s about to say that she wouldn’t wish that on any child, but stops when something else occurs to her. “I thought you wanted a boy,” she queries, lifting her head. “You brought home that baseball mitt…”
One shoulder rises and falls in a shrug. “What, you think girls can’t play baseball? What are you, stuck in the Dark Ages?” He’s teasing her, employing one of her more oft-used rants – usually directed at Andy Sipowicz – against her, and she swats his chest gently. “I wanted our baby, Sara… boy, girl…I didn’t care.”
Her throat seizes, and she buries her head in his chest, wanting to say a hundred different things, unable to come up with the right words. He doesn’t say anything, just strokes her hair, waits for her to be ready to look up again, to admit, “I was so scared.” She sucks in a deep breath, lets it out slowly. “You know what my childhood was like… I never had what you had… I didn’t know if I could be a good mother… and I didn’t know… I didn’t know how much I wanted our baby… not until it was too late.”
When she finishes, tears are sliding down her cheeks, and he reaches up, wipes them gently away before kissing her. “You’re going to be a phenomenal mother Sara,” he tells her, and, lying here with him, looking at her with more love than she’s ever seen shining from his eyes, she can almost believe him.
“Promise?” she asks, and he nods.
“I promise,” he tells her, drawing her close, pressing his lips against hers as the fire rises up between them, wrapping itself around them, shutting out all her fears, her doubts, her insecurities.
They stay there until that fire, as well as the one in the fireplace, burns itself out. Only then do they sleep.
Almost a month later, Sara thinks back to that night as she stares at the thin pink line in front of her, unsure whether to laugh or cry. Not that the result is a complete surprise to her; after all, she’d felt like this before. Never regular, the missed period hadn’t been a clue, but the queasiness every morning this week, this morning’s complete inability to stomach the smell of coffee were well remembered from a couple of years ago, had been enough to have her detouring into a drugstore on her way home from work.
The queasiness in her stomach at the moment doesn’t have anything to do with morning sickness though. Instead, it has everything to do with the memory of how she had indeed felt like that before, had found herself sitting in this very bathroom, staring at an identical pink line. More specifically, it’s because she remembers how that particular pregnancy – a complete surprise, and, at the time, not an entirely welcome one as far as she was concerned – ended. She can still see the worry on Stella’s face as she drove her to the hospital, hear the catch in Tony’s voice as he’d tried to be strong for her. Most of all though, she can still feel the pain, physical and mental, combined with the nagging guilt that maybe, just maybe, this was all her fault. That, somehow, her emotions, her fears, had caused the miscarriage, that somehow the child had known it wasn’t wanted.
She knows better now, knows too that the baby had been wanted, even if her fears had blinded her to that fact. Just as she knows that this baby, while just as unplanned – they hadn’t been trying to conceive, yet hadn’t been doing anything to prevent it – is just as wanted.
Now, she’s just afraid of history repeating itself, because she couldn’t go through that again.
A knock at the bathroom door makes her jump, because she hadn’t heard the front door open, hadn’t heard him come up the stairs, hadn’t realised how long she’s been sitting here, staring at that thin pink line. “Sara? You in there?”
She doesn’t answer, not sure she can speak. Instead, she stands on knees that are somewhat less than steady, opens the door and feels momentarily guilty when she sees his face drop as he looks at her.
“What is it?” he demands, gripping her by the shoulders, looking her up and down, as if expecting to see some kind of physical injury.
“I’m fine Tony,” she tells him, right hand smoothing down the lapel of his jacket, left hand rising, shaking, to point to the washbasin. She sees his eyes shift slowly from her face, sees him frown as he sees the box, eyes flying back to her face as he registers what’s written on the side of it.
“Sara?” He asks, voice sounding half-fearful, half-hopeful, and she nods slowly, tears unaccountably springing to her eyes.
“I’m pregnant,” she whispers, waiting for his reaction.
It’s not long in coming, because the next thing she knows, he’s pulling her close to him, lifting her clear off her feet, and her face is buried in his neck before she registers the beaming smile on his face.
In that moment, she smiles too, because it’s easy to believe that everything’s going to be all right.