This is where she comes to think. It’s hot and dirty and the smell isn’t the greatest, but it’s a place where no one follows, where even he can’t find her, or doesn’t choose to. It’s not that she wants to be away from him, but sometimes things are so intense now she doesn’t know what to do with the feelings, so she runs away, a little, to the wrong side of the tracks.
Sometimes when she comes here she thinks of the first him, the man that was a little rougher and somehow seemed like a tower of strength and like nothing could ever cut him down. Nothing but his love for her, saving her life in the end, sacrificing his own. She’s not sure he knows she remembers, but she does.
When she comes here, she remembers a lot. She can hear the people in the streets with their rough accents so reminiscent of his. It is almost painful, because his voice carried itself into her heart and when she hears those like it as a gruff background murmur, it reminds her of his fingertips grasping hers and his hands on her body in the dark for the first time, desperately giving into something bigger than both of them, only days before she lost him.
She remembers, too, the second man he was, so different from before. Loving her still, but carefully, always afraid that one or both of them might break. They got closer and further apart as they tried to get to know each other again. It was never as desperate and never as lost and never as intense. It was almost like he was afraid that one day he might have to die for her again, so he kept a part of himself closed off.
This one…this one is different. He doesn’t close himself off at all. His emotions are bigger than hers, bolder, almost frightening in their focus on her. This one whispers words she never dreamed of hearing from identical lips. This one focuses his entire universe on her and it’s almost too much. She doesn’t want to be his only reason for being.
She tries so hard to be enough, to be what he needs her to be, but she’s the same as she ever was. Tough, clever, heart on her sleeve, sometimes smart and sometimes not. She has come here less and less as she’s adapted, but today, oh today, she just had to come.
She glances down at the diamond on her finger, twisting the ring in circles. Five years they’ve been married now and she still chooses some days to run. Today is probably the last day that she’ll be able to. She’s happy and scared and a complete mess. She doesn’t know how to tell him. She huddles inside his jumper, the red one that she loves, as the wind picks up. She’s left her shoes by the top of the ladder, and her feet are cold against the grey aluminum roof. She’s lost the varnish off of half the left big toenail.
“Rose?” She startles and turns and has to grab hold of one of the chimneys to keep from sliding off the roof.
“Doctor. How did you find me?” she asks. “No one knows I come here.”
“You needed a place.”
She swallows hard. He makes his way across the ridge and sits down beside her. He makes no move to touch her, only cuddling her when she sinks against him.
“Why did you come?” she asks.
“It’s different today,” he says. “I felt like…you needed me more.”
“Been here a while.”
“Felt like you needed some space first.”
He understands her deeply, in ways the others never quite did. Nothing between them is just on the surface. It’s all so deep down it rests in each and every cell. She wonders if it’s the part that makes him human that does this, or the part that makes him mortal.
“I love you,” he says at the same time as she tells him, “I’m pregnant.”
His arm around her tightens and the hand on her upper arm convulses. He doesn’t tell her that she shouldn’t be climbing on rooftops. They both know she won’t after this, not until she teaches their child how to one day.
“Are you sure?” he asks.
Rose laughs. It’s bittersweet but honest in a way that only a woman can be, knowing her body like clockwork. “Yeah. Owen did a blood panel at my physical last week. Called me this morning.”
“I wasn’t sure it would ever happen,” he says.
Her eyes well up with tears. “I know,” she chokes out.
“Are you ready?” he asks.
She isn’t sure if he means to have a baby or to get off the rooftop. She wants to watch the sun go down. She wants to run from all the change that’s about to happen. She wants to hold a baby in her arms. His baby. She wonders if she can even be a good mother.
“I love you,” she says when she can’t figure out how to answer his question.
It isn’t long until streaks of orange and pink and purple cross the sky. They move without speaking to head for the ladder that leads to the ground. He goes down first, helps her with that final bit at the end, setting her firmly on the ground. It steadies her somehow.
She hugs him then and they stand like that for a long time. His strength is different. Better, because it weaves itself into her own. She pulls back and looks him in the eyes.
“I am,” she finally tells him.
He smiles in the dusky light and takes her hand. “So am I.”
“We’ll travel it together,” she says.
“And it is gonna be…” He echoes words from a long time ago.
“Fantastic,” she whispers.