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Blue Since the Day We Parted

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After checking in with her team, Kate headed off to go find Etta or her wife.

On her way, she spotted Roger leaving his temporary office, followed by Bertie and John. Roger’s hair looked distinctly mussed, and the trio all looked much happier than they had earlier.

Kate was hit with a sudden wave of nostalgia and jealousy. She remembered making Bertie smile like that; remembered being the one with her hands in Roger’s hair.

But things were different, now. John was with them instead of Etta. Etta was married and had kids. And Kate was… well, Kate was doing her job.

“Hey, Kate,” Bertie said. “We need to tell you something.”

“Congratulations,” Kate said. “Roger, you might want to fix your hair.”

Roger looked startled, then hurriedly tried to comb his fingers through his hair. Bertie did his best to help, while John smiled at them indulgently.

Kate started to walk away from their reunion. She was happy for them, really, but it was still painful to watch.

“Wait, Kate,” Roger called. “That wasn’t what we wanted to tell you.”

Kate sighed and walked back over to them.

“What is it?” Kate asked. “I’m still working on the investigation.”

“We won’t keep you from it, but there’s something you need to hear f—” Roger trailed off, distracted by something over Kate’s shoulder. Kate spun around, half expecting to be under attack.

At the end of the hallway were two figures. For a second, Kate wondered if Etta was as unchanged as Roger, before realizing that she was looking at the wrong person. Etta had aged just as Kate herself had; there was gray in her hair and laugh lines on her face. She looked more sure of herself than the girl Kate remembered, and Kate couldn’t help but sorely wish that she had been there to get older with her.

The girl with Etta was undoubtedly her daughter. Kate estimated that she was only a few years younger than Etta had been when they’d first met, but she seemed carefree in a way that Etta had rarely been.

“Actually, I think I’ll let them explain,” Roger said.

When Etta and her daughter reached them, Etta smiled nervously and said, “It’s good to see you all again. I know it’s been a long time, but I’d like you to meet my daughter.”

Etta’s daughter smiled and said, “Hi, I’m Sophie.”

“Wait, you’re Sophie Perrault? Are you the one who invited us all here?” Kate asked.

Sophie blushed. “That was me, yeah.”

Kate glanced at Etta’s left hand. She wasn’t wearing any rings. “I guess I can close my investigation, then. When we figured out that Etta hadn’t invited us, we were concerned that it could be a sign of a resurgence in cult activity,” Kate explained.

“I’m really sorry about that,” Sophie said. “I just wanted to meet all of you.”

“There’s something else you all should know,” Etta said. “Sophie’s… well, she was born eight months after I left the watchtower. I don’t know which one of you got me pregnant, precisely, but it was one of you.”

Kate stared at Etta.

“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” Bertie asked. “John figured out that Sophie must be one of ours earlier, and I’ve been trying to understand that ever since.”

In the back of her mind, Kate noted that that was why the others looked less shocked than she felt. She didn’t bother processing that, too focused on taking in the fact that they had a daughter.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was kind of a mess,” Etta said. “We’d all just broken up, I’d just found out my mom was evil, and I’d just been reunited with my aunt. And I was just… I was feeling very unwanted at the time, and I kept remembering how it felt, knowing that my aunt had put her life on hold for me as a child. I didn’t want that for Sophie. And later on, I still didn’t want that for Sophie, or for any of you.”

“I missed you,” Bertie said. “When all the dust settled, Kate ran off to do whatever she was doing for BOAT, and you left with your aunt. We never even broke up; we just all left. I didn’t know how to fix that. I tried to get us all in one place, for my wedding, but that didn’t work out, and after that I just gave up.”

“I wanted to go,” Etta said. “But I knew it was going to hurt, going there and being reminded that I wasn’t a part of your life any more. And Sophie was only a few months old, and I didn’t want to leave her, and I was too afraid to bring her.”

“I would have loved to meet her,” Bertie said.

“I’ve missed you,” Etta said. Bertie opened his arms, offering a hug. Etta immediately accepted, wrapping her arms around in him return. They leaned into each other, squeezing each other tightly.

Once they let go of each other, Bertie said softly, “Don’t disappear again. Please.”

“I won’t,” Etta promised.

“Not to ruin the moment, but can I ask why you look like you’re in your thirties?” Sophie asked Roger.

“It’s a long story, but basically, I won a bet. I’m immortal, but I can’t leave the Bridge,” Roger said. “I know it’s a lot to take in.”

“Everything about today has been a lot to take in,” Sophie said lightly. “I think I can handle one more complicated surprise, although I do want to hear the full story at some point.”

Kate looked back towards Etta, only to realize that Etta was watching her.

“What are you thinking?” Etta asked her, as Sophie started saying something to John.

“I don’t know,” Kate said. “I’m thinking of what-if’s and could-have-been’s, I guess.”

“I know the feeling,” Etta said. “I thought I was doing the right thing, raising Sophie by myself. But seeing you all again is making me question that.”

“If it makes you feel better, it still might not have worked out. My ex-wife, she left me because I spent too much time on my job. The same might have happened with us.”

“Right now, I can’t imagine anything that would make me want to leave again,” Etta said.

“What do you want, then?” Kate asked.

“Right now? I want you,” Etta said.

Kate leaned in to kiss her. It was their first kiss in over twenty years, but kissing Etta still felt like coming home.

When they broke apart, Kate saw that Sophie was beaming.

“It’s nice to meet you, Sophie,” Kate said. “Now, I’m new to this whole parenting thing, but I know we all want to know everything about you.”