She was gone.
He had done it again. Messed things up for the two of them.
Actually, for once, it wasn't his stupidity or wandering eyes that had caused this. Pauline Fowler's death and Sonia's supposed 'involvement' in it had just pushed their old wounds back to the surface. He had defended her, even when half the Square wouldn't, but maybe it was because of her fragile, stressed state-of-mind, but she took the slightest bit of hesitance from him and ran with it.
It had always been like that - they would get together, hurt each other, break up, rinse and repeat. Ever since they were kids - painting storage rooms in The Vic and spray-painting love hearts in public - they had been on a long-winded collision course for each other. However, there was always something, or rather someone to send them crashing in the opposite direction. Zoe, Janine, Rebecca - people who had shaped their relationship for better and for worse.
He had never imagined of becoming a dad to an actual human being. His own father had been one of the rare good ones, and then all too soon, he was gone from his life - before he could ask him about girls, or how to become a man he would be proud of. Billy… he was never the ideal candidate for a role model, definitely not when he was first placed with him. These days, Billy had taken steps to improve himself, but Phil was the closest Jamie had to a second father. Through thick and thin, he and Phil had a rocky relationship, but Mitchells were all about family, and whatever happened, eventually the two of them would patch things up.
Taking care of a child, however, had been a whole new roller-coaster for him. Rebecca's arrival into the world was a kick in the teeth for him, and quickly drove a canyon between him and Sonia. Nevertheless, eventually, somehow he began to master the unsure skill of caring for little Rebecca. She wasn't his flesh and blood - the prominent presence of Martin in their lives was proof of that - but being with Sonia as man and wife and having Rebecca as part of their family… It seemed inevitable that slowly but surely, he fell hard for Rebecca as if she was his own.
Maybe that was why their leaving hurt so much?
Sonia needed a fresh start - away from people who had misunderstood preconceptions of her over Pauline's death. Sitting in the kitchen of The Vic, he was listening to Phil listing off all of the valid reasons for him to let her go. Their marriage was on tenterhooks, Rebecca was never his problem, she was a loose cannon - the investigation and the arrest had proved that… On and on he went.
He had let them leave, meeting her earlier in the day. Somehow, he just about held back the tears as they slipped into reminiscing on old times, giving Rebecca one last hug before turning away and walking out of their lives.
Phil was right. He was.
Even so, when he had seen Sonia Jackson walk up the aisle of the church to meet him at the altar, for once in his life, everything else fell away. All the anger, frustration, worry - gone. It was just him and her, the two of them against the world. At that moment, he knew that Ethel was the smartest person on the planet, or at least in the East End. She had spotted their spark before either of them had - leading to the ring that he slid onto Sonia Mitchell's finger. They were meant to be.
So why was he letting her and Rebecca go?
Sonia was always there. Always sensible, always sturdy, but always with a heart bursting with love. No matter how he royally messed up, she was always ready and waiting to love him even with his faults.
There was too much to lose. They had screamed, yelled, torn their hearts apart for too long for them to just nonchalantly let it fade away like this. He had to do something. Anything.
He had barely realised that Phil had left him alone in the kitchen, but he didn't dwell on it. His eyes were blurring with tears as he rushed from here to there, packing the bare essentials into the first bag he could find. Rushing onto the Square, he was so focused on his goal that he didn't care that the drizzle had turned into pouring rain.
He simply followed the path of the headlights in the distance, skillfully running across the Square just in time to stand in the middle of the road as the fateful cab turned in his direction.
Luckily, the cabbie had the decency to stop, lending him enough time for him to rush over to the door and climb inside, his shoes squeaking from the rain as he did so, to Rebecca's amusement.
At least he hadn't been the only one crying - Sonia's eyes were puffy but still as beautiful as ever. He waved off her exclamations of "What are you doing?!", instead choosing to speak from the heart.
"I can't let the two of you go without me coming too! Sonia - you've been everything for me for so long. You're beautiful, big-hearted, forgiving, a pain in the arse, but you're the other half of me. Ethel was right - we were meant to be, and maybe in 60 years time, we'll be throwing our dinners at each other, fighting about who's turn it is to take out the bins - but whatever we have to face, we'll face it together-" He glanced down at a beaming Rebecca. "-The three of us - as a family. Sonia Mitchell, I loved you when you were beating me into submission with a paint roller, and I love you now, all these years later. I want to grow old with you and watch this girl grow up to become as amazing of a woman as you are."
He finally took a breath, finishing his impromptu speech with a crooked smile.
"So how about it - or do I have to get out the old spray-painting kit to seal the deal?"
Her kiss on his lips was a welcome relief.
"I love you, Jamie Mitchell~!"
As the cab began to drive away from the Square, he placed a kiss on Rebecca's forehead, his eyes meeting with Sonia's. The love in her eyes was all the confirmation that he needed that he had made the right choice.
She had shown him the world in all its magical, hurtful, wonderful glory, and he would be spending the rest of his life trying to do the same for her.
They truly were soulmates - now and forever.