Futuretake written for Fandom4LLS.
If you haven't read Together, you can find the PDF on my WordPress—link on my profile.
Beta'd by HollettLA
So…remember Togetherward, otherwise known as Cryward? Yeah, this one's sickeningly sweet LOL. Sappy is his middle name.
Together – Futuretake
His Five Girls
(12 years after the epilogue)
I thought Kate's high school graduation was the world coming to an end, but it turned out I was wrong. I've been wrong plenty of times. Not even Sophie's high school graduation was the end of the world, and when Ava graduates in three years, I'm sure that won't be the end, either. Or when our youngest—Harper—graduates in seven years.
I gave Kate away a few hours ago.
I didn't cry…much.
It's okay, though, 'cause you were all teary-eyed, too, Bella.
It's been a beautiful day; I have to admit that. Warmer than what's normal for Chicago…the sun was shining brightly…all that crap. And now we're all gathered in a massive—I really mean massive—tent in our backyard for the reception. Dinner was fucking delicious, and I think I speak for several of us when I say that I can't wait for the fucking cake.
At the age of forty-five, I'm a growing boy.
"Time to cut in, handsome," you whisper in my ear.
I nod and tilt my head toward you, quickly capturing your lips in a soft kiss.
"The last dance is yours, sweetheart," I murmur before standing up. You give me a beautiful smile in return.
Walking across the makeshift dance floor in our garden, I reach Kate and Garrett.
"Dance with me, honey." I grin at my Kate and place a hand on her lower back. "You'll get her back, kid," I tell Garrett. He's a good man, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't mock him a little.
"I guess I should dance with my mother," Garrett chuckles. "See you soon, love." He kisses her tenderly and lets go.
I shake my head internally.
Not that I'm not happy for her. I am. She made a life for herself before committing to someone else. At the age of thirty, she's an amazing doctor. Right now, she's in the middle of her fellowship, and in a year and a half she will be a pediatric oncologist.
Garrett happens to be a resident at the hospital where she works here in Chicago.
Love at first sight, Kate told me.
"Are you happy?" I ask her as we start dancing slowly to the song.
She beams up at me. "More than words, Dad."
"I'm glad," I whisper and kiss her on the forehead. I'm not going to cry, but I want to. This is…fuck, so hard. To me, even if I was a kid myself when I had her, Kate will always be five. All four of my girls will be five forever.
Thank God we never had boys, Bella. Just saying.
I know girls. Hell, sometimes I'm one of them. But Emmett is the same with his own three girls. Oh yeah, we're severely outnumbered.
Nah, I'm happy with my girls. Boys don't come to their parents with their problems the same way girls do. And I remember most of it. I remember kissing Kate's knees once I'd bandaged them after a fall or something. I remember when she was sick and crawled into bed with me. I remember what a perfect big sister she became when you and Sophie entered our lives, Bella.
Later in Kate's life, she called me from New York when she needed me. Throughout pre-med, med school, residency…
We talked late into the night when she had to watch one of her first patients fade away from leukemia.
"What are you thinking about?" Kate asks softly.
I smile at her and twirl her around before pulling her close again.
"You," I answer. "Your mother and I couldn't be any prouder."
I doubt Kate and Garrett will ever give us grandchildren, but that's okay. What they do for the children at the hospital leaves them with little to no personal life. It's the way they want it. They devote their time to the countless little ones who are sick.
At first, I thought Sophie would one day be in Kate's shoes, considering she's the one who had lymphoma. But then it made sense—to see Kate go that way instead. Watching Sophie struggle with cancer almost broke Kate.
"I love you, Dad," she murmurs. "But please don't cry."
"I'm doing my best," I chuckle.
She grins. "Good. Now, I think there's a line forming behind you."
Looking over my shoulder, I spot our table where you were sitting earlier, sweetheart. But now you're dancing with your brother. Rose, their three girls, and our other three are there, though. And I think Kate's right. Sophie's definitely waiting on her turn. She's in college now—in DC—and I've missed her like crazy over the past few months.
I smile at my eldest again and thank her for the dance. "I love you, honey," I add with kiss on her cheek. "Go dance with your husband."
Leaving Kate behind, I walk over to Sophie, whose smile widens as I approach.
"Finally my turn, Dad?" she ask, grinning.
I laugh through my nose and draw her close. With her finals taking up most of her time, she didn't arrive here in Chicago until this morning. So, I've barely had any time to talk to her before now.
"My Sophie," I sigh contentedly. "You just couldn't find a college here in the city, could ya?"
One day, she will rock the shit outta Washington, DC. Because while Kate saves lives at the hospital, Sophie has taken it to another level. Through politics, Sophie wants to help parents of children with various illnesses. Cheaper healthcare, better insurance…no one left behind…
"Aw, I miss you, too," she says with a pout. "But at least I'm coming home for the summer."
I let out a humph at that. The summer isn't enough, dammit.
She's graduating from college in a couple of months, but she dropped the bomb on us last week, stating she was starting an internship after the summer.
"When does your internship start?" I grumble.
"Late August," she responds and drops her forehead to my collarbone. I take the opportunity to kiss the top of her head. "I'll visit as often as I can."
"I know you will, princess," I say quietly. "Mom and I will fly out, too."
We own four Lizzie's Diners now, so the economy has definitely taken a turn for the better in our household. It means we can visit our daughters often—wherever they are. It used to be Kate who we flew out and visited in New York, but she's finally home again. But now it's Sophie, and I have a feeling she's not returning to Chicago for a long time.
"How long is the internship?"
"Just 'til Christmas."
Huh. "And then what?"
She looks up at me, a nervous smile playing on her lips. "Um, I'm coming home."
Come again? "You are?" I ask in disbelief. "Sophie—I…"
I'm fucking ecstatic to hear that; I just didn't expect it. Sophie loves DC.
"I have to." She shrugs. "Actually, I don't have to, but I want to. I need to. We both do."
I frown, confused. "What do you mean? And who is 'we'?"
Has she met someone?
I shudder at that thought.
"Listen," she sighs, "this is Katie's night, okay? I will tell you and Mom everything tomorrow. Just know that I'm very happy."
"I…" don't really know what to say.
"Dad," she whispers. "You managed, remember? With Katie. You did it all. You and Mom both did. You worked hard, but you made it. I will make it, too, and I wouldn't change this for anything in the world."
I still don't know what to say.
I'm so confused.
I hate being confused.
"Ava's waiting for you," she says softly, reaching up on her toes to kiss my cheek. "Love you, Dad."
Um. "Love you, too, princess," I reply dumbly.
Then I have my thirteen-year-old Ava in front of me, her hands on her hips.
"Wanna dance, Dad?"
I can't help but grin. "Stupid question. C'mere, angel." I pull her close and dip down to kiss her dark brown curls. "Have I told you how beautiful you are today?"
They all are. Kate is stunning in white, and her sisters are gorgeous in matching purple dresses.
She beams up at me, green eyes happy and light. "You told me at the church."
"Well, it's worth mentioning twice." I twirl her around, making her laugh.
"Daddy!" she giggles.
And when I catch your eyes, sweetheart, my smile grows wider. You sit with my sister and your brother, a camera in your hand. Our gaze is broken when Rose and Emmett's youngest drags him to the dance floor, and I spin Ava around once more.
"Ugh, Garrett's brother's son is totally staring," Ava tells me and scrunches her nose. "I hate him."
So do I, because I know why that kid constantly teases Ava.
It's what dudes do when they like someone.
"Don't grow up, angel," I sigh.
Ava is still our old soul. But there's a mischievous streak in her, too. Her favorite pastime is to bury her nose in books, but if anyone says the word "prank", the book is forgotten for a while.
"You know I will," she says, straightening my tie. "There. Better."
I shake my head, amused.
After a while, the song changes into another, and my dance with Ava is over.
"I love you, Ava."
"Love you, too," she sings and walks away.
Spotting Harper over by the DJ booth with two of her cousins, I hurry over and grab her hand. "I know you hate dancing," I chuckle. "But you don't have a choice."
"Hmm, I guess I can live with one dance," she says, sighing dramatically. She giggles when I tickle her side. "Stop it, Daddy!"
Harper, our ball-buster, is eleven going on two. Yeah, she's a kid and loves it. For once, I have a daughter who loves being young.
She's wild and looks like her mother, except for her hair and eyes.
"When are we gonna cut the cake?" she asks, looking down at our moving feet. She's concentrating, and she looks so fucking adorable.
"We just ate dinner, my little shortcake," I chuckle, though I wonder, too.
On a constant sugar high, this one. It's a good thing that she lives for sports, because she can eat candy like no other. Her sweet tooth is even worse than my own.
Every day after school, she does her homework at the diner where I have my office, but it's only because we serve Kate's strawberry shortcake, pies, and cupcakes.
"When I get married, I'm gonna have shortcake instead of that thing," she says decidedly and waves a hand toward Kate and Garrett's wedding cake. "It's gonna be huge. With lots of whipped cream." She adds a firm nod for good measure.
"Kids don't get married," I state flatly and hug her a little tighter. "It's against the law."
She's my youngest; may she never grow up.
"Oh. But can I have shortcake on my next birthday, then?" She tilts up her chin to face me.
I nod and kiss her on the nose. "Definitely."
"Yes!" She fist pumps the air. "My God, you're friggin' awesome, Daddy."
"I know he is," your soft voice chimes in. When I look to you, your smile is wide. "Is it my turn yet?"
"Oh, yeah." Harper nods furiously and takes a step back. "Swoop in, Mom."
"Hey, I'm offended," I tease. "So eager to get away."
"Um. Yeah. Hate dancing," she says, shuddering. "But I love you!"
"Nice to hear it. I love you, too." I snicker. "Now, get outta here. Ask Kate when it's time to cut the cake."
"On it!" She runs off, looking too cute for words in her fancy dress and well-worn Chucks. "Katie, my lady!"
Gathering you in my arms, we share a laugh as we watch Harper speed toward her oldest sister.
"She's nuts," you chuckle, peering up at me. "I wonder who she got that from."
I squeeze your ass, 'cause that's how I am. "You. She got it from you."
"All right. We can say that." You find me so amusing. Don't ask me why. "Anyway, did you notice anything with Sophie tonight?"
My brows furrow. "A little. She said she's gonna talk to us tomorrow about something."
You hum, your eyes lighting up a little. "Well, I have my guesses."
"Care to share?" I kiss your temple and then give you the twirl I gave our daughters. It makes you laugh, too.
Still so damn beautiful, sweetheart.
"I won't share what I think, but I can share what I know." How very cryptic of you. "And what I know is that she hasn't had a drop of champagne. Not even before the ceremony when we toasted to Kate. She had water."
I frown. "And that means something?"
Admittedly, Sophie has a thing for toasting, especially if the "bubbly" comes with strawberries. At her sweet sixteenth party, we let her have a small glass of it, and she stuffed it with berries and made yummy noises.
"You'll figure it out," you whisper, locking your arms around my neck. "Or maybe you won't."
That so earns you another ass squeeze.
And then I tell you, "I love you."
"I love you right back. Now, kiss me."
I do. Oh, I do. I give you one of those kisses that make our girls pretend to gag.
"Get a room!" Sophie laughs, sitting by our table with all her sisters.
I waggle my eyebrows at you. "We should obey her."
You just cock a brow at me. "What about the cake, hubby?"
Shoot. "After the cake." I nod firmly.