Authors Note: I have chosen to go the alternate universe route for this story so please keep in mind that Bo and Nora's divorce did not happen the way it did in canon. It takes place in July of 2000, about six months after their separation and neither of them are involved with anyone seriously. Sam and Lindsay do not exist in this universe.
Love's Broken Road
It was a beautiful summer day for a backyard barbecue. The younger generation was either climbing trees or swimming in the pool. The adults were making small talk as they waited for the rest of the guests to arrive. Everyone around him seemed to be telling stories about their children or their spouses and laughing about years gone by. His heart just was not in it tonight.
He was here with a woman from the police force that he had only asked out because he did not want to show up at a party without a date. She was not his type really and he was fast losing interest in their conversation.
That was when she walked in. It still amazed him how her quiet beauty could knock a grown man to his knees. He was not supposed to want her anymore. He was not supposed to miss her. Love her. He still did, every day. She was on the arm of her first Ex-husband and his friend, Hank. He wondered if they were an item now. If he kissed her in the same way that he used to do. Wait, why was he thinking about that. He did not get to choose whom she dated.
"Hello Bo," she says, as they join him and his date.
"Mind if we join you?" Hank adds and he cannot think of a single reason why they should not. He and Nora did not break up for any reason other than the fact that they had grown apart. They had tried so hard to fix things but in the end, they had agreed to separate because neither of them could stand the possibility that they would grow to hate each other one day. For their two young children, it was what was best. It had to be. Matthew was three and his sister Justice was two. They were at that age where they were still terrified of the fireworks so they were both at home with their big sister Rachel, who was too pregnant to spend outside in the heat.
Hank had his arm around Nora as he spoke to the other woman at the table. He knew her from the precinct but he did not know much about her. Nora knew he was just trying to be polite. Her eyes locked on Bo's and she could have sworn she saw a hint of that old spark that used to burn so bright between them. She must be seeing things. He could not possibly feel that way about her anymore. He was here with another woman, after all. She wondered how long they had been dating. Does she make him feel the same way that she once did? Does he kiss her the same way? Wait, why is she thinking about that. She did not get to choose whom he dated.
She forces a smile as she looks back at Hank. He had been a good friend to her after she and Bo had gone through their divorce. It had been so hard for her and she knew that without his support, she could have ended up in real trouble. He had been the one she called at 3AM when she wanted to call Bo but knew it was a bad idea. She had only gone with him to the Party because she did not want to be alone. Especially not when she knew that he would be here. She was supposed to be moving on, after all. She was not supposed to want him. Miss him. Love him. She still did, every single day.
The conversation continued a little longer and then it was time for the hamburgers. She was grateful for the break in small talk. She did not have to pretend that she was not still dying inside every time she looked at him and remembered that he was not hers anymore.
After dinner, the kids all gathered around a large flat screen television screen to watch The Sandlot. Most of the adults seemed content to join them with their beers or iced teas. Though most of the movie proceeded in silence, laughter was common among children and adults alike. It was probably why nobody noticed when Nora wandered away from the crowd. Nobody except for Bo. She had gone inside the house but somehow ended up on the front porch sitting on the porch swing with her head in her hands. These kind of gatherings were always hard for her. They reminded her of everything she lost.
"Are you okay," he asked, as he came to sit beside her. She wished he were not sitting so close to her. It was harder to avoid his eyes when he was.
"Aren't I always okay," she questioned, in response. He knew it was not really a question. It was just how she always felt she had to be. Even if she was breaking, she had to be okay. She had the kids to take care of.
"Why is it so hard for you to let someone take care of you? You do not always have to act so tough. It's okay to admit that you need a little help."
"Would that be so bad? Aren't we supposed to be friends? Friends help each other when they are struggling."
She stands up from the swing and begins to pace. She knows he means well. A part of her even wants to believe that he can help her. She knows better.
"What is it Red," he asks, as he puts a hand on her shoulder. Tears were streaming down her face and she was ashamed that once again he was the one to find her that way. She hated how he affected her when he called her that.
"You can't help me with this Bo. Not you. Especially not you."
"How do you know?"
"Because the last time you tried to help me, we ended up having sex…And every time that happens, I end up having to say goodbye to you all over again. I cannot handle any more goodbyes with you Bo. It hurts too much. Losing you was like losing a piece of my soul. We have had too many goodbyes in the last Two and a half Years. We need to find a way to be kinder to ourselves…and to each other."
"I don't know how I am supposed to be a part of your life and not want to hold you. You were not just some woman I used to love Nora. You were everything to me. Just because we fell apart does not mean my feelings for you have just died. I think it is even harder for us because there is no one to blame."
"But you are here with…with…"
"I'm not dating her Nora. I asked her here because the guys at the station kept telling me it was time to get back into the dating pool. I thought about coming alone but I knew you would be here and I started thinking about what I would do if you came here with a date and I just…I couldn't stand the thought of having to watch you with someone else all night without a distraction."
"So you're not…You haven't…"
"Not since you Nora, how could I move on when I still think of you as my wife? There is never going to be another you so I guess I just stopped looking. It is too much effort trying to pretend that I don't love you anymore."
He caressed the side of her cheek as he looked at her. "Are you and Hank…are you…"
"No. He is my best friend. He is the reason I did not fall off the wagon after you left. I would call him at 3AM when I was missing you and wanting to numb the pain. I wanted to call you Bo. I did. But under the circumstances, I knew it would not be a good idea. Hank kept me sane. He kept me alive. But I never once thought of anyone but you in that way. When I fell in love with you, I gave away my heart forever. There will never be another you, so why even bother trying to look. You still have all of me."
He wound his arms around her waist, pulling her as close to him as was physically possible. For a moment, they just held on to each other, as if nothing in the world was as important as this moment. Because it was not. Then, he brushed the stray hair back from her face, and looked deeply into her eyes. It did not matter what had happened in the past, how life had gotten in their way. For the first time in nearly three years, he felt the connection with her…the emotional one that had been lost shortly after their daughter was born. There was fire in her eyes…an intimacy that was much deeper than just sex. He missed that. He missed the soul connection they once had. The friendship. The sense of knowing where he belonged. That wherever he went, she would always be home to him. Was it really too much to ask that she felt it too? That spark when they touched…the look of familiarity when they looked at each other. Knowing what the other was thinking. The sheer joy of knowing that they had found the person that completes them. Dear God, please do not let me mess this up. Do not let me lose her again. There has been far too much pain between us.
They reach for each other at the same time, their hungry mouths dancing together as they reacquaint themselves with each other. With every touch, he pulls her closer and the kiss grows deeper and deeper. Only the need for air ends the kiss and they put their foreheads against each other.
"We are terrible at not loving each other," they say in unison.
"I tried so hard not to," he confesses. "It just never worked."
"So did I. But there was just no getting over you."
He smiled at her and for a moment, they just stared at each other. Almost as if they were afraid that if they blinked, it would not be real.
Then the fireworks started and he pulled her into his arms again. They did not need to watch the fireworks when they could make their own.