TW: Mentions of infant loss
It seems like years before they touch down in the small town just outside of Seattle. The pavement is still wet with rain from this morning, it won't have long to dry, she can already feel the moisture in the air. It will rain again soon.
"It's a bit chilly, isn't it?" Her mother comments as she steps out of the plane. Mary tightens her jacket around her body, but going from ninety-degree weather and sunshine every day, to clouds and rain in a matter of hours; it does very little. She shivers against the small breeze.
"I should call Gideon," Mary says softly when they get to the hotel. Her mother got them two rooms, adjoined, she doesn't know why the woman just didn't get one room with two beds.
"Let him sleep, Mary."
"He asked me to call after we landed."
"He probably didn't mean immediately." She says with a sigh. "Besides, he's been at the hospital a lot, he hasn't had any sleep. And once Anne finds that you're gone; he won't get any."
"I should have just brought her with me," Mary mutters as she sets her bags down on the bed and runs a hand through the tangled strands of hair on her head. The plane ride really did a number on her hair it seems.
"We'll need to find you a gown for Saturday."
"I thought you already had one," Mary says with a quirk of her brow. She swears her mother already had one picked and ordered for her to wear. Mary didn't bother finding one or even looking, in all honesty, she was planning on wearing something casual. She doesn't intend on staying long.
"I had one in mind but it wouldn't do any harm to look at some." She hums, "You could get the girls together and look for yourself. It wouldn't kill you to catch up a bit."
Do they know she's in town, that she's back? She can't remember if she told them, this week has been a blur.
"Go on then, give them a call." Her mother hums as she gathers her own luggage and retreats to her own room.
"How are you not freezing?" Mary asks over the chattering of her teeth as they walk, she should have brought a heavier coat, this is terrible. She wouldn't be surprised if it started snowing. Kenna shakes her head as she positions herself in front of Mary and zips her jacket up more, running her hands over her leather clad arms and sighing.
"You're just not used to the weather." Kenna hums as she adjusts Mary's jacket so that it's tighter around her body. Kenna is only wearing a white sweater, tight because...it's Kenna and when has she ever been known to wear loose fit clothing, and a dark pair of jeans.
No jacket because the woman is a lunatic and her light brown hair falls in soft curls around her shoulders and down her back.
"There, better?" She asks when she's finished bundling Mary up like a child.
"No." She mutters as she shivers.
"You'll get used to it," Kenna says as she returns to Mary's side, linking their elbows as they continue on with their slow walk down the busy street. "You used to live here, remember?"
"I'm not starting anything." She pouts, "I know why you had to leave. It took me so long to stop being enraged at the sight of-"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"We're not talking about it."
"If it's any consolation he didn't fare well after he realized you actually left."
"I don't think he left the house for months."
"Bash had to practically drag him out." Kenna continues with a sigh. "But he seems to be over it now. Or less...open about it. I don't know, I don't see him much you know, just sometimes...we run into each other."
"Okay. Good for you."
"It's probably good that I don't see him...what with the uh-" her voice dips into a low whisper, "Secret baby." Mary glares at her friend. "Your secret is safe with me."
"Although maybe...it wouldn't be the end of the world if you-"
"No.," Mary says quickly.
"I don't want to?"
"It's adorable that you think that's a good enough reason." Kenna coos as she leans her head on Mary's shoulder.
"It would be too complicated." Telling him now, it would be catastrophic, she would have to tell his giant family for one and Catherine would surely spontaneously combust at the news that she has a secret grandchild. And there's no telling how Francis would react? Would he try to take her to court, he would rightfully be furious that she kept it from him for so long.
It could potentially hurt Anne in the long run and she doesn't want that. She doesn't have time to say anything because Kenna stops abruptly and in one quick swoop, she shoves Mary into the alley they were passing, narrowly missing a brick wall and mouthing hide before turning back.
"Hey, handsome." Kenna smiles, all flirty charm at the approaching shadow. She hears a car door and the rustling of a bag and then she hears it.
Or rather, him.
"Kenna, it's a bit early for you isn't it?" Francis teases as the door shuts. Mary crouches behind a dumpster.
A fucking dumpster.
"Early bird catches the worm and whatnot." Kenna laughs.
"I guess." He says, "What are you doing?"
"Can't go for a walk?" Kenna asks, "It's called fresh air, look it up."
"Says the girl who sleeps until it's dark."
"All the time."
"I did not come here to be lectured." Kenna shifts her eyes towards Mary's hiding spot, pleased to find she doesn't spot Mary.
"Would you like a ride home?"
"Aha, no." She says quickly, "No." She says it more calmly.
"You're acting strange."
"Why do you keep looking over there?"
"Because." She says, "Nice seeing you blondie, but I gotta run." She says as she starts to walk past him.
"Bye Kenna," Francis says with a bit of a laugh and then she hears the car door open again and an engine start. Kenna doesn't turn back until the car turns a corner and then she's jogging back to Mary's hiding spot with a sputter of apologies falling out of her mouth.
"I thought he'd be at work, I really didn't think we'd run into him, oh my god did I shove you too hard?" She's brushing the dirt off of Mary's jeans as she helps her stand.
"I'm fine, Kenna." Mary says softly as she steps back, "Just...wasn't expecting to run into him so..."
"And for him to seem so..." Fine. Unbothered. Content.
"Oh he looked delicious but that's not the point," Kenna says quickly as they retreat back to the sidewalk.
"Let's not make that a regular thing."
"You got it," Kenna says with a heavy sigh.
Greer and Lola are already at the dressing place when they walk in.
"Sorry, we're late, ran into Francis," Kenna announces when they find her other friends by the door.
"Oh, Mary are you okay?" Lola asks with a sympathetic expression.
"He didn't see me." She says softly, "Kenna shoved me behind a dumpster."
"Is that what that smell is?" Greer asks with a wrinkle of her nose and Mary rolls her eyes.
"I can't believe Catherine invited you," Greer says as Mary shoves herself into another dress.
"I thought she forgot I existed." She says from behind the fitting room door, "Or I hoped she had at least."
"It wasn't your fault the marriage ended." Not entirely the truth but she doesn't say anything. She just zips the dress up and adjusts it in the mirror.
"How is Anne?" Lola asks after a few seconds of silence.
"She's good. She's talking more." And she is starting preschool soon, which is terrifying and bittersweet. Mary can't believe she's old enough to even be looking.
"Okay," Mary says after a little more adjusting and she pulls the curtain back before stepping out. "Is this fancy enough?" It's just a plain black dress, long and form-fitting, a halter neckline that leaves her arms and shoulders exposed.
"You gotta turn around," Kenna says with a little twirl of her finger.
"I didn't come here to be objectified."
"Then you shouldn't have brought me." Kenna fake whispers and gestures for her to do a spin. So she does.
"Ooooooh, girl, do you have that thing insured?" Kenna asks and it sends the rest of them into a laughing fit while Mary covers her red face with her hands.
"That- I- why are you like this?" She asks after the laughter dies down, "I can't take you anywhere."
"I'm sorry you just look so good. Are you seeing anyone?"
"Hey baby, does that ass come with a warranty?"
"Kenna!" More laughter. Mary shakes her head and retreats back to the dressing room.
"It should definitely come with a warning label!" She yells so Mary can hear her.
"I think you look pretty." Greer tries a tamer compliment than Kenna.
"Yeah, you look amazing," Lola adds.
"Thanks," Mary says in a dry tone, but she appreciates it. And Kenna's...compliments surely helped in her decision making as she zips the dress in a bag and carries it out of the store.
They don't run into Francis again after that. Not today anyway and once Mary has some time alone, she takes a taxi to the place she's been wanting to go since she got here.
The small cemetery is just outside of town, next to an old playground that has been abandoned for so long, everything is wrapped in a thick sheet of rusted paint. There's caution tape around it to keep people off and it always did give her the creeps.
The swings move gently in the steady breeze.
The cemetery is always shrouded in a light fog, no matter the weather, and today the fog seems heavier. She sees a crowd of people as she walks through, all in black huddled around a casket in the back. It's too far away for her to disturb them but she tries to walk a little lighter anyway.
She reaches the large oak tree towards the back corner, over the slight slope hill until she reaches it.
She's done this a million times but it still sends shockwaves through her body every time.
The last time she was here the grass hadn't fully taken over yet, there was still a little dirt over the hole in the ground. The little stone is clean like it's been well taken care of and there's a small garden statue of a baby angel with a stuffed blue teddy bear tied to it. She remembers it was the one she had in his crib, that she left there for months. In her grief it seemed rational, it seemed logical, to have something in his crib. Instead of it being empty.
"I'm sorry it's been so long since I've visited." She says softly, "I had to go away for a little while." She sits on the grass, toys with the ribbon around the bears neck as she swallows hard, "I hope that you know it...it wasn't because of you, the thought of leaving you...it almost killed me." She knows that there won't be an answer but she talks anyways, she talks about where she lives, Gideon, she talks about Anne.
She wonders if Francis still comes out here. If he visits. He used to, they used to visit together every Thursday at three. He never missed a day. Well, one time his car broke down and she didn't talk to him for weeks because of it.
She wonders if he still comes here every Thursday at three.
She has some of his ashes, it's in a locket that's locked in a jewelry box, she only gets it out on his birthday. Sometimes when the grief hits her out of nowhere she digs it out and she holds it to her chest like that'll somehow make the waves hit less.
"I love you so so much." She says softly, "I really do..."
She remembers that day like it was yesterday, it's still so fresh in her brain she can't imagine that she'll ever truly forget. All the blood and the pain and how she knew it was happening but Francis tried to reassure her that it was fine, he was fine.
She remembers having to sign a death certificate and a birth certificate on the same day, how she barely got to hold him before they took him. The way Francis tried to shield her from the preparations, how lightly he tiptoed around the word funeral and cremation like he knew it would undo her.
It started and ended so quickly she barely had time to process it.
They tried again a few months after but it didn't happen again for them. The doctors said it might never happen for them. That she wouldn't get pregnant and on the off chance that she did, it was unlikely she would carry to term.
That was the beginning of the end for them, she completely shut Francis out, she blamed herself and she took her self hatred out on him. And then Olivia happened.
So it wasn't all his fault. She had already taken her side of the blame.
"Does daddy ever come to see you?" She whispers, "Did he put these toys here?" She asks, there's a few little baby toys at the foot of the stone. She's surprised the wind hadn't blown them away.
She sits for what feels like hours, just talking to nothing, and no one. Every car she hears, she thinks it's going to be Francis but it isn't. She's glad, she doesn't want to run into him here. She can't imagine that would go well and there's a funeral service going on, she wouldn't want to cause a scene. Eventually, she gathers herself enough to stand and leave without looking back.
"Anne's asleep. It was a bit rough once she realized you weren't here." Gideon says softly and he seems tired, more so than usual. "But she was fine after a few hours."
"I should have swallowed my pride and brought her."
"We're fine, Mary." He reassures her as he runs a hand over his face.
"No notable changes..." He says but she can see that something did happen, even if he isn't outright saying it. He probably doesn't want to worry her, but she's worried all the time.
"She just had a bad night."
"They have her on oxygen at the moment, but I don't know...there isn't much else they can do without a transplant." She's been on the list for a few years now, with no luck. It doesn't help that she's near the bottom, but hopefully, now she gets bumped up a few slots.
"I'm sorry, I wish I was there to help," Mary says softly as she shifts in bed. Gideon shakes his head, tells her all she would do is be waiting right along with him, but she can't help but think that he shouldn't be alone right now.
And taking care of her daughter on top of it all seems unnecessary.
"Keep me updated."
"Always." He says with a tired sigh, "I'll call you tomorrow morning. Get some sleep."
"You get some sleep."
"I'll do my best." He laughs, "I love you."
"Love you too." She hits the end call button after a second and sets her phone on the nightstand. It's not that late, but her mother already turned in and she figured she probably should too.
Tomorrow is the big day and she goes to bed with her stomach twisting.
A/N: Told you guys this was an angsty one.
I'm open to suggestions, I'm just writing this as we go, I don't have much planned. :)