A/N: This is me, imagining a continuation of the finale in a way that most probably will never happen. At least I hope not.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Jeff Eastin.
Sara lets her gaze aimlessly wander over the plaza in front of her, sipping her espresso and letting the slightest breeze tousle her hair and tease the hem of her emerald sundress. She feels contentment, a feeling she had forgotten over years of not being satisfied, only settling for things she could have.
"You have wanted to go there for awhile now, right?" Sara remembers the sparkle in her husband's eyes when he'd told her he had bought her a stay at the Palazzo Sasso in Ravello, Italy. Just for her, a trip alone, away from everything and everyone, as if he'd known she would want to go there alone and not with him.
And now she is here, on the eighth day of her trip and with only two days to go, she feels a slight pang of disappointment. Since her arrival, she has, foolishly on her part, been looking around, waiting to spot the certain something – or, rather, someone – and feeling every bit lost whenever her eyes had deceived her. He wasn't going to be here and their conversation was a thing of the past.
She imagines this place fifteen years ago and wonders if she would've felt any less lonely then.
"It's lovely here, isn't it?" And just like that, Neal Caffrey materializes out of thin air and sits down and Sara forgets to breathe because she is pretty sure this has to be an illusion.
She doesn't say anything at first but watches him order a coffee for himself, the Italian coming effortlessly from his mouth. He's older than she remembers but not in a bad way – the silver in his hair and the smooth lines on his sun-kissed face give him a sense of refinement. He isn't wearing a suit which would be impractical in the Italian summer heat but he carries himself the same way he always did.
Most of all, she is quiet because it takes a while to search in herself, to pull out the Sara Ellis who had imprisoned him. This is all he is going to get after so many years.
"I could just give a shout out to the carabinieri and you would be taken into custody. So, maybe you should just get up and walk away." Her words are cold but they both know the threat behind them is empty and she curses herself for not being able to be meaner to him.
"But you won't." He gives her one of his dazzling smiles that hasn't changed a bit and she has to suppress the wave of emotion that one gesture releases in her.
"Cocky as always, I see." Sara makes a move as if to get up but it's more of a challenge for him than a real intent on her part to leave.
"Sara. I just want to talk, catch up. Isn't that what friends do after they haven't seen each other in nine years, five months and seventeen days?"
And just like that, Neal robs her of any capacity to walk away from him because they've both been keeping count. Still, she isn't willing to be nice to him. "I don't know about that, Neal. I thought friends don't disappear for nine years, five months and seventeen days and end up on FBI's Most Wanted list." But she sits down.
This time, his smile is more sad than charming. "I would imagine the active search for me has stopped by now. Aren't there more real terrorists to catch than an alleged thief?"
"You mean the thief and con-man who magically escaped from the FBI during his commutation hearing and has lived happily ever after in this paradise?"
"I don't live here."
"You just happened to be in the neighborhood?"
"Something like that."
He doesn't say he's always kept tabs on this place because a part of him hoped she would turn up one day. She doesn't say she's been expecting to see him here from day one.
They quiet for a while. Sara tries to look anywhere but him, afraid of what she might reveal when their gazes lock.
"So, how is everybody?"
"Well, Peter got demoted right after you left but managed to pull himself away from the mess you made in about five years or so. He still works with Jones and Diana. June died last year but she never rented out your apartment again."
Sara doesn't talk of the time a month after Neal's leaving when she had wandered to June's and under the tender gaze of the older woman, broken down. Or how she lived in the apartment for five months afterward, until the smell of him had completely vanished and she had soaked in it long enough to never forget it.
"What about Mozzie?"
The sadness in Neal's eyes after hearing about the people he left behind in New York cannot be masked by the fake smile he puts on. "Mozzie's living the high life in an undisclosed location. I think he's very happy."
Neal knows that she means Are you happy? but deliberately misunderstands her. "I've been spending my time in undisclosed locations as well. Sometimes with Mozzie, sometimes alone."
"Still a thief?"
"Alleged thief. And, allegedly, I've not let my skills go to waste and have been of assistance to those in need."
"How very humane of you, Caffrey."
The things they are not saying are hanging in the air between them, taunting, waiting to be addressed and Neal is the first to take the bait.
"Congratulations, by the way." She gives him a quizzical look so he continues. "On your marriage and the happiness you've found."
She inadvertently looks at her wedding ring and something about his words makes her want to hurt him for that. "Oh, right. Yes, I'm very happy with Andrew. He's honest, kind, trustworthy and very endearing." Like you never were, they both think but she stops herself from saying that as something undefinable but definitely painful flashes in his eyes at her words.
"How long have you been married?"
"Five years this summer."
He doesn't ask the next question but Sara thinks it's inevitable to tell him anyway. "I have a son, too. Daniel just turned three." She doesn't reveal that his full name is Daniel Neil Hastings, middle name after Andrew's father but not really, for her at least.
"What about you?"
"Oh, you know. A con-man never settles down, only moves forward. No ring on this finger." Neal smiles indulgently but it's a forced smile as he remembers Alex who found him on a Greek island and stayed. Alex, who wanted him to love her again but who left after he'd mumbled the name of this woman sitting opposite him too many times in his sleep.
Now a new, heavy silence falls upon them and Sara takes note of the lateness of the night, and the soft darkness takes her mind back to one faithful night at the archives where it all began and she suddenly has to get away from him.
"I should go back to the hotel; it's getting really late."
"Let me walk you." She doesn't have it in her to say no to that and they set off on the cobble-stoned streets.
Sara tries to ignore the hand that falls on her lower back for a second when they cross the road and the way he's walking almost shoulder-to-shoulder with her as they ignite the heat she's long been suppressing.
"I'm sorry for leaving like that." The words are a quiet whisper but she hears the heavy sadness that tinges them and her heart that accepted this loss nine years ago, suddenly awakens and demands her to do something. Her head screams at her, reminding her of responsibilities and the ring and how she is not an adulterer and she cannot be cruel to Andrew. Sara knows her head will win, like it always has, like it did when her heart whispered at her to leave New York, find Neal or let him find you and just let go.
They stop at the steps of the hotel and it's supposed to be the part where they say goodnight and leave forever and she will never see him again. And instead of that, her stubborn heart, yearning for the healing this man can bring, makes her step up to him and just kiss him.
It's like all those years haven't happened, how she's not learned to love another man while being in love with this man and he kisses her back, hands gliding into her hair as she melts into him. She cannot let him just walk away.
When they break apart, he's confused and startled but also incredibly aroused as she can see by his darkened eyes. The memory of what that means makes her stop him from apologizing or saying anything as she takes him upstairs with her and he follows because she isn't the only one who is letting her heart win this night.
In her hotel room, they come together like there hasn't been any time lost. Sara recognizes his touch and remembers his body, still so lean but strong and lets his familiar hands undress her as she repays the favor. He seems to remember exactly what she likes, how and where to touch her and she's breathless with the realization that this man still knows things about her that her husband hasn't discovered in five years. They cling to each other and instead of coming apart, it feels more like coming together.
In the morning, before she even opens her eyes, she knows he has left because the harsh sunlight reminds her of the life she leads in New York and she knows he would never ask her to leave that to be with him in a fantasy.
He lets her be sensible and adult about this and while she's grateful, she is also angry and sad. She loves him and he loves her but it doesn't make anything better; it only gives her more to miss.
A/N: Sigh. I just love these two so much. If you do too, please let me know.