Who can say Who can say Night keeps all your heart Who can say Who knows - only time
where the road goes
where the day flows
And who can say
if your love grows
as your heart chose
Who can say
why your heart sighs
as your love flies
And who can say
why your heart cries
when your love lies
when the roads meet
that love might be
in your heart
And who can say
when the day sleeps
if the night keeps
all your heart
if your love grows
as your heart chose
And who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows
Who knows - only time
Who can say
Night keeps all your heart
Who can say
Who knows - only time
This story takes place more or less in the current season of 7th Heaven, beginning in the summer of 2005; for the bulk of the last year, Simon has been floundering. He still hasn'ttruly recovered from the accident that killed another boy – and he definitely hasn't recovered from the roller coaster known as Cecelia. After spending a miserableyear at home with his parents (stubbornly refusing to do anything but get a menial job and continue to wallow), Simon goes to visit Matt and Sarah, who have moved to NYC.
Author's Note: First, thanks for stopping by and having a look at this tangled web I've woven. I hope you enjoy it - I certainly have had a great deal of fun in the writing. This story is not yet complete, but I felt compelled to begin posting. There is quite a bit done and as I edit, I will be posting more.
Only Time is a crossover in the grandest sense, and really belongs to my grander Beauty and the Beast Saga - but in this chapter of the saga, the Camdens take centre stage (ergo the filing under 7th Heaven). I tend to write out of sequence (that is, as an idea hits, I write the story and then fit it into the grander scheme of things.) So before you ask, as of this writing, I have not yet completed the tale of Elliot Burch and Amy Gray. Rest assured, it is on its way...in the mean time, if anyone is interested in what I did with the infamous third season of Beauty and the Beast, you can find that story on my website ). Or, just read on and enjoy Only Time by itself.
Disclaimers: all the usual stuff - I didn't create, nor do I own anything owned/created by someone else. Law & Order and its spin offsbelongs to Dick Wolf, the Crow belongs to James O'Barr, Beauty and the Beast Belongs to Ron Koslow, Alien Nation belongs to Kenneth Johnson, Judging Amy belongs to Amy Brennen and...someone else whose name escapes me...and 7th Heaven belongs to Brenda Hampton. If I've missed something - just assume that if you've seen it on tv, it doesn't belong to me!All other characters are mine. (The Crow character Kate is mine - the concept behind her origin is not.) Hopefully I don't have to tell you that Enya wrote the song which inspired the title ;)
Because my chapters are reletively short, they're clumped together on this site by threes and fours. I hope that this will prove more convenient rather than inconvenient for the reader - but please, let me know! All feedback, even technical, is always welcome.
This storyis dedidcated to the memory of my grandmother, Helen Garzia Bruand. I would also like to thank the wonderful people of the Beauty and the Beast FanFiction writing group on Yahoo for their assistance and support.
Strawberry blond curls tied back with blue velvet bow…
"Earth to Simon," Matt Camden waved his hand in front of his brother's face. Looking in the same direction in which Simon was staring, he saw the cause of the distraction. "Hang it up, she's out of your league."
"How would you know – unless you know her – you know her don't you?" Simon, who had been unable to stop looking at the woman across the café now turned to eye his older brother suspiciously. Nope – there was no lying now, he saw that he was right. "You do! Introduce us."
"No way – you'll just make a fool of yourself."
"Look – I came out here to forget about Cecilia – what better way to do that than to meet that gorgeous girl." Cecilia – what a heartache! First she dumps him, then she wants him back, then she dumps him again; then he dates his ex (while she dates Martin) – only Simon's really just sleeping with the girl he's dating – which of course is one of the biggest taboos in a Christian household. And Simon had to admit, at least to himself, and maybe God too, that it had been a really stupid thing to do. It wasn't just spending more money than he had to go out with her – he hadn't been ready to sleep with her. He didn't love her – he wasn't even sure he knew what it was to be in love. He thought he'd loved Cecilia…but it was hard to tell so much about what he'd felt that year or two of his life…before everything changed so horribly drastically…the last five or six months had just passed by as a grey blur. It was like nothing was ever going to be right again… he didn't want to go to school, he didn't want to date – he knew his parents were seriously worried about him, it was just that he couldn't muster the energy or desire to want to do anything… maybe he should cave in and see a doctor – he just didn't see the point.
The girl looked up from her book, smiling shyly. She was probably 17 or 18, from the look of her. Her eyes and the ribbon in her hair were sapphire blue – her hair cascaded down around her heart shaped face in red-blond curls that fell all the way to the curve of her hips. Her lips were full – and her face lit up when she smiled.
"Oh no," Matt groaned. He'd hoped to get Simon out of the café before she noticed them.
"Matthew Camden," Caroline said as she walked towards them.
From where Simon was sitting, it was like everyone parted for her when she walked - her movements were fluid and graceful – feline. She was shorter than Cecilia – and her figure was all soft curves, only slightly obscured in the soft folds of the blue cashmere sweater and long plaid skirt that she wore or the old bound book she carried in her folded arms. Her voice was all velvet and silk. Simon was only vaguely aware that he was blushing.
"What serendipity. I was going to call on Sarah tomorrow – I just finished this and promised her she could read it when I was done." She handed over the book.
"Thanks," Matt didn't suffer from the same flush of hormones that were plaguing Simon. "I'll make sure she gets it."
Caroline smiled, waiting. Then, "And this is?"
"Simon. My kid brother."
"Nice to meet you," Simon held out his hand, after wiping it off on his jeans first – he felt flushed and nervous.
"My name is Caroline Chandler-Wells," she accepted the offered hand, and returned his handshake gently, well aware that her grasp could crush a man's bones. She was, after all, her father's child.
"You have beautiful hands," Simon blurted out.
Caroline laughed – the sound was like tinkling bells that filled the air. "I don't think anyone has ever said that before." The truth was that he hands were as calloused from playing as they were from helping out in the Tunnels. She tried to keep her nails nice – not out of any sense of vanity, but because it was better if she did her best to fit in. There was a part of her that would have liked to never have to leave her world – but she wanted to be a lawyer, like her mother – and she couldn't do that from Below.
Simon flushed a deeper shade of pink. He cleared his throat. "Well – they are. Nice. I mean. It was nice to meet you."
Her eyes twinkled with merriment – although Simon was sure she was laughing at him, she wasn't. "It was very much a pleasure to meet you also, Simon Camden. If you'll excuse me, I think my ride has just pulled up." Fin had been waiting for almost a minute already – he was laughing, she could sense it as clearly as she sensed his presence on the street. It wasn't like a bond – but much like her father, she was highly empathic – it was stronger with certain people – and outside of her family, she was the closest to Odafin Tutuola, her godfather and favourite uncle. She nodded a quick good bye to Matt and Simon and turned to run towards Fin.
Simon watched her dash towards the big black dude who'd been standing in front of the 'stang – it was a vintage Mustang, black and sleek. "Whose that?" he asked Matt – the guy looked – like a body guard or something. The guy was at least six foot tall and wore the sort of smug grimace that kept strangers afraid and at bay.
"Dunno – never saw him before," Matt shrugged.
"Hey there, Pip-Squeak," Fin greeted her with a bear hug, lifting her off the ground easily.
"Are you ever going to stop calling me that?"
"Dunno – you ever gonna be taller than me?"
"So who's Romeo over there?"
"Matt Camden – I volunteer at the hospital where his wife is interning."
"I think I'm referring to the other guy."
"Oh. His name is Simon," she tried to hide her blush. Given the way Fin was chuckling, it wasn't working. He was hard to fool.
"Hang it up – he's too old," Fin opened the door for her.
"I know – but he's cute."
"Your father would have a conniption."
Caroline chuckled. "Wouldn't it be worth it, just to watch?"
Fin thought about it for a second – then laughed harder. Yeah, it would at that…
She glanced back at Matt and Simon as they pulled away – something about him pulled her – but Fin was right, he was defiantly too old. Not that either Matt or Simon would realize that – she looked a good three or four years older than she really was, thanks to the same marvelous genes that gave her the strength to crush a man's hand…
"So what's the book?" Simon asked after the 'stang pulled into traffic; he felt sure that she'd given him a second glance, just before it did.
"Huh – oh," Matt looked at it. "Looks like some old book of Irish Faerie Tales – by some lady named Bridget O'Donnell. I think Sarah said something about her coming to town this week – must be why she wanted to read this. She took a poetry class one semester and has been hooked on stuff like this ever since," he shrugged. "I tried to get into it – but I usually let her go off on her own when it's a poetry thing." Truthfully, finding things that they could do separately had been the best thing for their marriage. She liked poetry and plays – and he was really getting into jazz and blues. Richard could relate – Rosina hated it when he pulled out the blues. So it gave him something in common with is father in law – and something not in common with his wife…and everyone was the happier for it.
"Simon, are you sure you want to tag along," Sarah regarded her brother in law quizzically. He'd changed outfits three times – now he was wearing a black pull over and dark pants – at least it was better than the shirt and tie she'd assured him were too stuffy. "Even Matt doesn't like coming with me."
"I like being with you – and I'm glad you found something you enjoy," Matt called from the kitchen. He just didn't care for poetry on a personal level. He walked out, carrying a sandwich on a plate – his supper. "I just can't get into watching a bunch of old hippies recite poetry all night – even if one of them is famous." The truth was that he'd never heard of Bridget O'Donnell – but apparently, a lot of other people had because her being in New York was a big deal. "As far as Simon goes, you said the magic words."
"Oh?" she looked up, as she pulled her coat on. Evenings were getting chillier with the approach of autumn.
"Yeah – Caroline Chandler-Wells."
"I see," she eyeballed Simon suspiciously. "So that's why you keep changing cloths."
He blushed. "That's not it," Simon tried to lie. "I just – don't know what to wear. I've never been to a poetry reading before."
"Then dress comfortably – I went once. It lasted all night."
Sarah threw a pillow at her husband. They both laughed. Then, she turned to Simon, "You look fine – and if you want to actually get a seat, we'd better hurry."
"Are you sure," Simon looked down at the sweater. "I don't look like some kind of goth wannabe or anything?"
"You look fine," Matt told him. "Besides, she might not even be there."
Simon took a deep breath – she was there all right, wearing a long dress of emerald velvet and ebony lace; the high collar lace collar reminded him of Edwardian England; so did the cameo at her throat and the way she wore her hair. She turned and smiled in his general direction – Simon felt weak in the knees and short of breath.
"You ok?" Sarah whispered.
"Yeah – fine," he lied. Caroline was there, sitting all regal and beautiful and graceful, surveying the room as if she owned it. If she was a Queen, than next to her sat her King. His majesty wore a black leather jacket, black leather boots, and a black silk shirt. He had shoulder length dark hair and an earring. He had eyeliner with black nail polish. And worst of all, he oozed the same sort of feline grace that she did – he was clearly in her league – something that Simon clearly was not.
"Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" Sarah asked.
"Um – sure – why not." He found an empty seat near the door.
"Didn't you notice Caroline?"
"Oh yeah. I see her."
"And you're not going over?"
"Nope. Matt was right. I'll just make a fool out of myself."
"Suit yourself," Sarah shrugged. She passed Caroline on her way to the counter and said hello.
"Hi – I'm glad you could make it," Caroline looked up from her tea. "This is Jake – we're actually going to hear him play tonight," she grinned puckishly.
"Hey – just because I haven't picked this thing up in a couple of years," he tapped the flute case under his chair, "Doesn't mean that I never play."
Caroline laughed. "Tell Simon I said hello, will you?" She asked Sarah.
"You could come over and say hi yourself," Sarah suggested. "I'm sure he'd like that – I have the sneaking suspicion he didn't come here to listen to poetry."
"Oh?" Jake queried, eyeing his sister – then he turned to glare at the boy.
Simon tried to hide – whatever Sarah had said to them, it had to be bad. At least for him – the guy in black looked as if he could chew a guy up and spit them back out again without working up a sweat. Then Caroline smiled at him – and it didn't quite seem to matter.
A young woman clad in black took the stage; she welcomed everyone and introduced a special performance by Caroline and Jacob Chandler-Wells.
Simon blinked. Caroline and Jacob Chandler-Wells. Her brother? He was her brother? And he was carrying – a flute? Boy, talk about not judging a book – the guy still looked like he could chew a guy up and spit them out without working up a sweat, though.
Jake did a quick warm up – without saying a word, Caroline began to play. The piece began quietly – but as soon as her bow hit the strings, the room became silent. He counted out the measures and began – it was an eerie sound, beginning in the lowest octave. William had written the piece just for them – he said it reminded him of the way the mist sometimes rolled through certain places in the Tunnels – the second movement was called the Crystal Cavern. The final movement was called Sunrise over New York. The title of the piece was Above and Below. The music had so enraptured the audience that they were hardly aware of the presence of a third person on the stage – at least until she spoke. Bridget went straight into a piece she'd written about their parents without waiting for any sort of introduction – not that she needed one. Even if no one had seen her picture, her brogue was unmistakable. Softly, Caroline played in the back ground – again, Jake counted out the measure and joined in – William had worked for months on the music to go with this poem. It was one of several of Bridget's poems he'd put to music.
"That either takes guts," Sarah whispered, "Or they know each other."
When she finished speaking, Bridget turned to the children – not so much children any more it would seem – sharing the stage with her. "Now that's what I call playin'."
"Could never have done it without you," Jake kissed her hand.
Bridget laughed – the children quietly resumed their seats and she turned back to the microphone to begin. She read a mix of work – some hers, some written by others – and while the audience sat rapt, she suspected that half of them were just caught up in her accent. Americans, it seemed, were quite taken away with an Irish accent. She only stopped when she knew her throat was going to give – and besides, they'd set up a table and she knew that she would be obliged to sign autographs – and assuming these nice people wanted to close up shop before morning, it might be best to start soon – the time it seemed had slipped past quickly. Blessedly, Jake made it to the head of the line. "How're yer folks?" She inquired – he had brought her a cup of tea instead of a book to sign. "Oh, bless you."
"Mom and Dad are fine – they say they hope you'll come see them before you have to go."
"I'll get away if I can. Give them me love, though, would' ya? And a great big hug to your brothers and sisters?"
"My pleasure," he leaned in and kissed her cheek.
Simon was aware of Caroline moving towards them – she smiled at him, but held her hand out to Sarah, "Would you like to meet Ms. O'Donnell?"
"I take it you know her?"
"She's a friend of my mother and father's. Simon? You coming?"
"No – I – it was great – but I'm just here because Matt had to bail and I didn't want Sarah to come out alone."
"How sweet of you."
"Yes. How sweet," Sarah gave him a look.
"So. You're a friend of Sarah's?" Jake asked the blond, sitting down next to him without an invitation.
"I'm her husband's brother," Simon tried to sound more sure of himself than he felt; Sarah and Caroline were almost to the head of the line. The place had become noisy again, as people chatted and the house speakers didn't quite blare the violin ladenrock/folk music ofthe Corrs.
"Simon," he accepted the other's handshake – Jake's grip was vice-like – nope, he definitely wasn't going to say word one about the guy playing the flute. "I'm visiting for a couple of weeks."
"So you don't live around here?"
"Glen Oak, California."
"Never heard of it. My uncle lives in San Francisco."
"Never been there."
"His wife plays with the symphony – she was one of our early music teachers. Caroline's the one with the real gift, though."
"You both sounded pretty good to me."
"That's only because our brother William wrote the piece for us – he knows what I'm good at and where I suck."
Simon laughed, just a little. Ok, so maybe the guy wasn't here to kick his butt. "I never learned to play anything."
"We all had to take lessons. Caroline's the one who's stuck it out the longest. I only blow the dust off my flute for special occasions."
"Bridget's a friend of our parents' – and she doesn't get over to this side of the Atlantic very often." He leaned in a little. "Don't take this the wrong way, Simon – because you seem pretty ok. But my sister's never really had a boyfriend – just don't be a jerk to her, ok?"
Jake shrugged. "I know it ain't like it's going to turn into anything – but I saw the way you were looking at her – and from a strictly brotherly point of view, yeah, I know she's something to look at. All I'm asking is that you aren't a jerk to her. Don't make promises you aren't gonna keep. Remember, I'm a guy too – I know what we can be like to get what we want."
"I guess I'd feel the same way if she was my sister," Simon had to admit. "I've got three sisters – only one younger, though – the other two are married."
"I'm the oldest," Jake said. "But even with just one younger sister you understand. I'm glad." He stood up, "Be seein' ya." He waved good-bye to Caroline.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked him – she and Sarah were almost to them.
"I thought I'd drop in on Kate and hang there for a while."
Caroline continued to glare.
"Look – you can come with me if you want to – hey, Simon, you ever been to a real New York City Goth club?"
Simon glanced up at Caroline – in her long velvet skirt, he had a hard time imagining her in any sort of 'goth club' – he had an even harder time imagining himself in any sort of goth club…
"Simon?" Sarah queried – she gave both Jake and Caroline a questioning look.
"You only have to be eighteen to get in," Jake said. "Or know the bouncer," he winked.
"You shouldn't let my brother strong arm you into something you're not into," Caroline said softly. She turned to Jake, "But rest assured Jacob Elliot, I'm coming with you to make sure you stay out of trouble. For a change."
"Who me -?" he tried to look innocent.
"I – I'd love to go – if you guys really don't mind having a third wheel along." Simon stood up – he was aware of Sarah's glower.
Jake laughed, "Trust me, you can't be a third wheel to a pair of siblings."
Simon wasn't quite sure he liked the look in the guy's eye – but if Caroline was going, it had to be all right. Right?
They grabbed their instruments and headed out the door, with him following, a little uncertain of what it was he was about to get himself into…
"Moon's full tonight," Caroline said, idly.
"They call it a hunter's moon," Jake said, to Simon. "Because hunters could see by it's light."
"Jacob," Caroline warned, softly; her voice had become as ice.
He laughed, "I'm just making conversation. Lighten up, little sister."
"Maybe if you were a little less lightened up, you wouldn't have flunked out of school."
"I didn't flunk out – it was merely suggested that I might find public education more suited to my ill temper," he grinned at Simon. "In other words I got into one fight too many and the head master chucked me on my ear. I hated the uniform anyway."
"Yeah – I ah –" never went to a school where we had to wear a uniform…Simon felt like an idiot next to these two.
"Where do you go to school?" Caroline inquired of Simon, almost as if she could read his mind.
"I'm – kinda between semesters." They walked the remaining six blocks to the subway in uncomfortable silence with Simon glancing nervously down every darkened alleyway, waiting for a mugger or worse to jump out at them. Nonetheless, they arrived whole and unmolested. "You sure it's safe?" Simon asked as they descended into the inky darkness. Over half the lights seemed to be out.
"The subway isn't as scary as people make it out to be," Caroline assured him gently. "And it's faster than walking there."
"Where is there?" Simon inquired.
"Pretty bad neighbourhood, I'll warn you now," Jake said as they got on the train. "Oh don't worry, she can handle herself," he said to the blond's inquisitive look towards Caroline. "They gotta teach you not to judge books by their covers in California."
"Yeah – well…" Simon shrugged – then he noticed the knife handle sticking out of the inner pocket of Jake's coat…and wondered if he'd made a mistake. There was something about the boy – an arrogance – that was unnerving. Mostly, Simon thought, because he got the feeling that Jake's self-confidence wasn't unwarranted – he wasn't boasting or blowing smoke. He was for real…it was hard to reconcile that with the flautist he'd listened to, less than two hours ago.
"You got subways in Glen Oak?" Jake inquired.
"Just buses," Simon felt more and more unsure with each passing moment. Then he gazed down at the azure-eyed beauty…
Forty minutes later they got off the subway – Jake hadn't been kidding about the neighbourhood. Burnt out buildings lined the streets – homeless people meandered by – a hooker gave them a quick second glance then went about her business, and on the few intact walls, gang graffiti was scrawled in brilliant colours. He glanced at Caroline – she didn't seem uncomfortable. He took a deep breath – ok, if a girl was ok here, he could be ok here too. Several blocks later, he lost some of his courage when they turned down an alley way – this had to be bad…except that at the end of it there was a single door way. In front of the door stood a girl. She looked like a kid, even if she was wearing a leather mini-skirt, fishnets and Doc Martin boots. A leather jacket parted to reveal milk white flesh and a black leather bustier that laced up the front – her long dark hair hung around her shoulders, and her face, though pale, was accented in dark hues of grey and maroon. But when she looked up, she smiled and her grin was genuine. "Jacob Wells – you here to cause me trouble again?"
"Nah, not tonight."
"Hey girl," she favoured Caroline with an even warmer smile. They embraced. "Who's Mr. Sunshine?"
Simon blinked, unsure of her meaning.
"Simon Camden," Jake introduced before either Simon or Caroline could speak. "He's from California."
"I don't suppose you're actually over 18?" the dark girl asked him.
"Ahh – yeah."
She waved aside his attempt to show id and took the instrument cases from Jake and Caroline. "Ok. Behave yourselves." She opened the door. A wave of solemn techno music hit them full on – Jake led the way down a flight of black iron steps; half way down a sign welcomed them to 'the bowels of Hell.'
"It's just a play on words," Caroline assured him. "The place is owned by a guy whose real name is Dante Milton – we think his parents must have had a wicked sense of humor."
Simon swallowed – he felt like he was entering the script of a really bad horror movie. Down below him, he became aware of writhing bodies – leather and lace, silk and velvet – shades of black and scarlet – they danced to music that Simon had never heard before. "You like this stuff?" He had to holler now to be heard over it.
"Sometimes," Caroline answered. The darkness was only occasionally punctuated by bright flashes of light from the dance floor – fog swirled four feet off the ground, cranked out by dozens of fog machines. People mingled – the air smelled of spilled beer, well-oiled leather, sweat, sex, and cigarette smoke.
She slipped his arm into his – and he realized that she was protecting him, not the other way around. "Can I buy you a drink?" She asked.
"Um – sure. Whatever you're having." He felt rather than saw her slip away from him – the lighting was so dark in here it was almost impossible to see anything. Oh God – ok, just let me get out of this in one piece and I swear, I'm mend my ways! Suddenly she was back. He took a sip of the bottle she handed him. Raspberry?
"I hope you like it," she hollered. "They were out of grape."
"What is it?"
"Seltzer. You didn't think I was getting you anything alcoholic, did you?"
"No – of course not," he lied.
"Do you dance?"
"Um – I'm not sure how – I mean to this."
"Follow my lead," Caroline led him towards the mass of squirming bodies. Somewhere out there Jake was already 'getting a groove on' – he was having entirely too much fun, abandoning her and Simon like this. As if she'd really abandon the poor boy in a place like this. The darkness didn't bother her – and the people certainly didn't frighten her. Most of them were actually harmless – the few that weren't quickly learned not to cross Kate's fury. No one messed up here, not unless they wanted the bouncer to bounce them through a wall. She found a spot that was almost clear and put one hand on Simon's hips. "Follow me," she said as she began swaying. "Keep your hands on your drink."
"No, not that. Well – sure it happens," she explained. "But you don't want it cleared away until you're done either."
He nodded. He watched her dance, though he barely swayed himself – no one seemed to care. All eyes were on her anyway – no one seemed shocked by her outfit – well, not like they'd have any cause to talk. No few of the other patrons were dressed out of other centuries too, in top hats and long coats – half of them looked like extras from a vampire flick. The other half looked as if they belonged in a video for some guy like Marilyn Manson or something. Dad would have had his head if he saw this – Mom would be sure he'd been smoking – as it was, he knew he'd have a lot of explaining to do when he got back to Matt's apartment… Caroline had finished her drink and set it down. With nimble fingers she pulled the pins from her hair and began to truly dance – her hips swayed back and forth – it was like some combination of belly dancing and – and Simon didn't know what. He was mesmerized by her.
A hand on Simon's shoulder brought him from his trance. It was Jake. "Remember, that's my little sister you're ogling."
Simon nodded – still, this time it didn't escape him that Jake was smiling.
Simon had no idea of the time when they finally left – just he and Caroline. Jake, she assured him, had already gone home.
"Won't your parents worry, you coming in so late?"
"Yes. But Jake will tell them I was here."
"They're ok with you being in a place like this?"
She nodded. How could she explain to him that they knew Kate wouldn't ever let anything bad happen to her? That Kate wasn't at all what she appeared to be and had known them since Jake was a baby? Caroline saw the big black bird flying overhead, following them back to the subway. Father would lecture her about taking advantage of the situation – how they shouldn't depend on Kate, they should stay out of trouble on their own. Mom would look a little worried – then be quietly glad that they know enough not to go into places where they really could get hurt. "You hungry?" She asked as they got on the subway train.
"A little – why?"
"Well, if you're not in a hurry, we could go get a bite to eat. My treat."
"So – I know you're from California – and I know you're staying with your brother for a little while – and you've definitely never been to a goth club. What else is there?"
"Well – I'm kind of sorting through some stuff right now. A couple years ago I – I killed a kid. It was an accident," he said quickly. "I was driving – he was on his bike. He was stoned. It still hurts."
"You blame yourself."
"I keep thinking that if I hadn't been driving – if I'd been paying attention – if – I don't know." He shrugged, unsure why he was opening up to a total stranger… he didn't like to talk about it – not with the family, not with anyone.
"And you're angry at him."
"If he'd been wearing a helmet – or if he hadn't been stoned – we went to the same high school. I knew his brother. His parents still haven't really recovered."
"There is nothing so painful as loosing a child."
He looked at her – she couldn't be speaking from experience – or could she.
Caroline shook her head, once again, as if reading his mind. "My Aunt Diana – she and Uncle Fin didn't really plan on getting pregnant – but things happen. She lost the baby at six months."
"That had to be really rough."
"It was. That was a few years ago – but noting is as painful as loosing a child. That's what Mary says."
"Sorry – a friend."
"I have a sister named Mary."
"It's a beautiful name."
She smiled, "It was my grandmother's name."
"Has she been gone long – you said 'was'."
Caroline nodded, "She died when my mother was a little girl."
"So you never knew her."
"No – or my mother's father. He died a few years before I was born."
"My mother's mom died when I was a kid – her father died just a few years ago too."
"Life and Death are a never ending cycle – but sometimes it seems like death is so unfair." She thought of Kate – life after death could be even more unfair. "I – can't begin to imagine how you must feel, having taken a life, even accidentally." She knew how her father felt – she saw the haunted look in his eyes. She knew how Fin felt when he had to kill someone in the line of duty. "My Uncle Fin's had to shoot a few people – he's the guy who you saw the other day."
"He's a police officer, silly," she said to his bug-eyed look.
"I guess – he doesn't look much like a cop. My sister's married to a cop – and we've got a good family friend who's a police officer. They're both – a little more clean cut."
"Fin used to do undercover for Narcotics. Now he's with a special unit."
"He – doesn't look much like you."
She laughed, "He's not related by blood – Grand Father says that family is more than the group of people you're born into. Your real family is the one you choose."
"Sometimes I wish I could choose a new family."
"Your brother seems nice – so does Sarah."
"They are – and don't get me wrong, I love my family. They're just a little crazy sometimes."
She laughed, "I am the second oldest of six. Crazy I understand."
"I'm in the middle of seven. Matt, Mary, Lucy, me, Ruthie and the twins. Sometimes – growing up I envied my friends who didn't have such big families."
"And I'm sure they envied you for having such a large one."
"Yeah. Everyone wants to be a Camden." He laughed, "Sorry – inside joke. Over the years we've had more people living with us – this kid Mary used to date moved in – then a guy from down the street whose dad was overseas and his aunt was moving here – then Kevin came to live with us because he wanted to marry Lucy – he finally asked and she finally said yes. Like I said, it's always pretty crazy at the Camden house."
"I think it sounds perfectly wonderful," Caroline smiled. Of course, her extended family lived around her – everyone tapped out messages on the pipes for everyone else to hear. There were no secrets, it seemed – and almost no privacy. "I still share a room with my two sisters."
"I only got my own room a few years ago – now I have the apartment over the garage that my mother made for Kevin."
"She must really have liked him to go through all that before he'd even proposed to your sister."
"She did – we all do. Now they live down the street from us."
"Most of my family is pretty close by, too – it's only my father's brother who lives in San Frisco."
"You hate it, don't you - having him so far away."
"Matt lives here and Mary lives in Buffalo with her husband, Carlos – I miss them."
"I hope I never move that far away from my sisters or brothers." Caroline stood up, "This is our stop coming up. The diner should be just about opening up."
"Where are we?"
Simon looked out at the lightening sky. "Your parents aren't going to skin you alive, aren't they?"
"Oh, probably." She led the way to the diner, just a few blocks from the subway station. "And after breakfast, I really do have to get home. Think you can getback to your brother'sfrom here?"
"Sure – but what about you?"
"I don't live far from here," she smiled; the diner was just across the street from the park.
"I mean about getting home so late – should I walk you?"
"I'll be fine."
"I know my dad would have my hide if I stayed up all night like this – as it is, I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do, to my brother."
"My father will lecture me – and probably ground me. I don't usually do stuff like this – unlike Jake, I'm the responsible one. I'm not sure if he'll go easier or harder on me because of it."
"With my dad that would be a fifty-fifty toss up, too." They sat down and ordered breakfast. Afterwards, Caroline saw him safely into a cab, and then headed into the park…