Peter felt a hell of a long way from Chicago, even after a few months of working at the Manhattan D.A’s office. He’d not only left a career behind, but an entire life, although that life had been in shambles long before he moved.
Three years ago, he had you.
The two of you had one of those adorable little meet cutes at a coffee shop in Chicago, he had an open bottle of water in one hand, coffee in the other and his phone pinched between his shoulder and his ear. Because of the distraction, he didn’t notice you slipping passed him to grab your own coffee. You didn’t notice him until half of the open bottle of water was spilt down your arm. He fumbled out a hurried of string of apologies, dropping the bottle to grab a handful of napkins. You laughed, waving him off as you accepted the napkins, dabbing at the dampened skin. You shot him a dazzling grin, joking that it was a lucky break you were already in workout gear that wouldn’t hold the water long. Peter felt his cheek’s flush up to the tips of his ears at your smile, getting lost in your eyes before shaking out of it quickly. He returned your grin, fishing out a business card and insisting that you call him so he could make up for it with dinner.
Dinner ended up being until the restaurant was closing, the two of you had clicked so instantly and so easily, it was so simple to fall in love. You got along impeccably well, you understood Peter’s long hours and heavy work load and you enthusiastically accepted his love for baseball. You surprised him on your third date when he took you out to a diamond near his apartment and you cracked his pitch so far neither of you could find the ball after. Smirking you admitted you played all the way through college, and he scooped you up in such a enthusiastic kiss you let out a shriek of a giggle, your breath laughing into his lips.
You were inseparable, on his arm at every event, and him constantly stopping by your work to make sure you had lunch, a snack, a coffee, or just to say hi, dropping a gentle kiss to the top of your head. Everyone had commented on how perfect you were together, once you’d moved in together things seemed to just be perfect. Peter would finish up paperwork on the couch, your legs draped across his lap, free hand tickling at your skin. Or you’d curl up in a big chair in his office with a book, he couldn’t help but smile, getting distracted when your brow would furrow, the way you’d tug your lip into your mouth over a suspenseful scene.
Things couldn’t have been going better, Peter had a ring picked out, just waiting for a way to sneakily figure out your size. You were curled into his side, head resting on his shoulder while you were walking home from dinner when you paused in front of a playground. A simple question of ‘how many kids do you want? I think an even number’s better so they can’t team up on each other.’ Had Peter stumbling, his heart suddenly racing in his chest as he admitted that he didn’t want kids, at all, ever.
It didn’t take much after that for you to leave. You both knew in that moment it was over anyway, as much as you worked together so incredibly well, and still loved each other terribly, kids were a dealbreaker, on both sides. You wanted nothing more than to have a family, to raise children, Peter wanted to stay as far away from it as he could, both due to work and to his not so perfect relationship with his own father. It was just something neither of you had noticed the little side comments about that would’ve brought up the issue earlier on, when it would have been easier to say goodbye.
Things were left amicably, you still cared for each other but knew there would be no changing minds. You said a soft friendly goodbye, with a tight hug, and went your separate ways. Peter ran into you a couple of times in Chicago, but then he’d only see people who he thought were you, then you’d all but vanished all together.
Now, he was in New York, and instead of waking up beside you, it’s another day waking up alone.
Peter was finishing up his regular Saturday mid morning run through Central Park, slowing to a walk as he knew the trail was coming to an end. It was a warm spring day, the park full of families, couples and friends enjoying the sunshine. He knew there was combo coffee/smoothie shop around the next bend, while he usually grabbed closer to home he was feeling in the need for something now. The door was propped open, and he nearly stopped in his tracks at the sight of you leaving the café, tray of drinks in your left hand. Your eyes were down on your phone, a small smile on your cheeks as you walked, heading directly across his path for the grass.
“Y/n?” He softly called, half thinking that it couldn’t have been you, the other half remembering it had been three years, you might look completely different by now. But your head lifted up, glancing around for the sound that you could’ve sworn was your ex’s voice until your eyes locked with his. Thankfully for him, your cheeks split into a grin.
“Peter?” You huffed out a small laugh as the two of you moved together, exchanging a brief one armed hug. “I didn’t realize you stayed in New York.”
“Stayed?” His brow scrunched.
“I heard about your Dad, figured you’d be here for the funeral. I’m sorry.” You gave his hand a soft squeeze, “I tried to call, but your number’s changed.”
“Thanks.” He sighed lightly, “uh…yeah…kinda got roped into stay. McCoy’s pretty persistent.”
“So I’ve heard.” You smirked and he laughed.
“You know, I thought I saw you at the bus stop the other day. I thought I must’ve been going crazy.” You both laughed softly, “how long have you been in the city?”
“Almost three years? A teaching opportunity came up with better pay and benefits not long after we split, I figured why not? Didn’t have anything keeping me in Chicago.”
“Congrats.” He smiled, “I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice any more difficult for you.”
“Hey, we were something, don’t you think so?” You nudged at his arm with your elbow.
“Yeah. We really were. It would’ve been fun, if you would’ve been the one. I’m honestly really glad you’re in the city, we should grab dinner, catch up.”
“Pete…” you cast him a look, half a smirk on your lips and he laughed.
“As friends! Promise.” His finger raised to draw a cross over his heart and you laughed, shaking your head at his ever playfulness. “Hasn’t exactly been a warm welcome…friends haven’t come too easily this time around.”
“M’sorry.” Your face fell slightly, “how’s Pam?”
“Uh”- Peter had never in his life been so happy to be interrupted, a shout coming from the field of grass beside you caused your head to snap in that direction.
“Mommy!” A small brunette girl came bounding up to you, “my smoothie ready?”
“Whoa! Munchkin!” You easily scooped her up with your free arm and Peter was in awe at the way you were able to balance her on one hip with the coffee tray in the other hand completely perfectly, especially as the girl grabbed at the pink cup. “Where is Momma Casey?” A little chubby hand pointed out to the blonde approaching, a bemused expression on her face.
“Miss Abby what did I tell you about running ahead?”
“Sorry Momma.” Abby, hands clenching around her drink buried her head into your shoulder.
“You know for someone who’s three feet tall you think she wouldn’t be so fast.” Casey muttered to you, quickly kissing your cheek and freeing your hand from the drink tray. It was then Peter noticed the sunlight glinting off a diamond on your ring finger, a matching one on Casey’s.
“Thanks.” You murmured, now able to properly hoist Abby up on your hip, “this is Peter.” You gestured to the man across from you and Casey turned, a sudden surprise on her face.
“Hi!” She extended her free hand out, “I’ve heard a lot about you. You’ve been the talk of Hogan Place since the Barba case.”
“You heard about that?” He asked, brow quirking suddenly and Casey chuckled.
“Yeah. Casey Novak. Homicide.”
“I was at SVU for nearly seven years, don’t take it personally if they’re not bringing out the welcome wagon. They’ll warm up eventually.” Peter gave her a soft smile, wondering if it wasn’t just him the squad had a problem with, but any new comer.
“Thanks for the advice.” He noticed the very obvious bat bag slung over Casey’s shoulder and chuckled, turning back to you.
“Turns out you certainly have a type.” He teased and you laughed, rolling your eyes as you swatted at his arm.
“What can I say, I know what I like.” You nudged at Abby, “can you say hi to Mommy’s friend Peter?”
“Hi!” She stuck out a now sticky hand in a small wave, “I’m Abby and I’m this many!” Sticking up five fingers she giggled and Peter laughed.
“Well it is so nice to meet you Abby.” He looked between you and Casey, “she’s…?”
“Adopted.” You both answered in unison, used to the question by now considering your kid was older than your relationship, and honestly didn’t look too much like either of you.
“They’re my forever Mommies!” Abby squealed excitedly, pulling small laughs from all of you.
“That’s right baby.” You nuzzled into her cheek, kissing it softly, “my wishes came true.”
“They certainly did.”
Peter couldn’t help but smile looking at the three of you, the warmth and love in your eyes as you smoothed back a piece of your daughter’s hair. The complete adoration radiating off Casey as she sucked it all in, the three of you were far more than happy, and had managed to find each other in a world that sometimes seemed to be surrounded by misfortune. In all the years he’d been with you he’d never seen you this happy, and in that moment, he couldn’t have been happier that the two of you had let each other go. That little moment in the park gave him hope that just because things felt rough right now, didn’t mean that his happy ending wasn’t out there. You’d found yours, and he was overwhelmed with joy at that, loving that you were loved and happy.
“Hey..” you started gently, “Case and I usually hit up the cages on Sunday while Abby’s with her grandparents, if you wanna join? We can all grab a drink after? I’m sure Casey knows some people who’ll be much friendlier than your squad.” Peter glanced between the two of you, he assumed Casey knew the history between the two of you and didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable or like he was intruding but she had a very welcoming expression on her face.
“That’d be…really great.” He smiled, he patted his pocket before realizing he only had his debit card on him, “I don’t have any cards…” Casey laughed, swiftly fishing one out of her bag and passing it to him.
“Considering we work in the same building I’m sure it wouldn’t be too tricky to track each other down.” She half teased and he laughed.
“We’ve gotta run.” Casey nudged at you with her arm, her watch twisted to show you the time.
“Ugh.” You half rolled your eyes before turning back to Peter, “someone’s got a friend’s birthday party to get ready for and we can’t be late.” You poked at Abby’s side and she giggled, “it was really good to see you Pete.”
“You too.” He smiled back.
“And don’t forget to call okay? Promise it’s more fun than working yourself to death in your office.” You teased and he laughed.
“I won’t. It was nice to meet you Casey.”
“Likewise.” She nodded, giving him a warm smile as you waved in goodbye. Casey’s hand easily linked in yours, leaning in to kiss your cheek as you walked away.
Peter watched for a moment longer as Abby demanded to be put down so she could hold both of your hands, being swung between you as you made your way out of the park. It was weird, but he felt like this could be closure on the rough patch of his life he’d been going through. Part of him had always felt a little guilty about moving on when the woman he’d once loved so deeply was out there potentially hurting. It was as if this was the go ahead for him to branch out, to embrace the good, get on some new shit and start saying yes instead of no.
As fate would have it, it was as if his run in with you gave him the courage to not only say hi to the cute girl inside the smoothie shop that day, but flirt enough with her to exchange numbers. A few weeks later, the two of them joined you and Casey on a double date, and awkwardness was quickly faded, it had been long enough after all. Life had a way of keeping those who were important around you, even if you hadn’t quite figured out what role they were meant to play yet, things had finally come full circle for Peter, and he was finally, truly happy. And so were you.