After dinner, they took Isabel out on a passenger boat, where Isabel sat in Millie's arms, and Mike held them both. A soft wind whipped up, as it drifted towards Mahattan. Father and daughter stared out into the water, then, looking down, Mike wondered briefly what the infant was seeing...a blur of lights, the bobbing motion of the boat?
He squinted out in the direction of the city, and frowned, slightly, with the unwanted memories. He didn't even realize he was doing it until he felt Millie's hand on his arm.When he looked back at them, his features softened again.
"Hey, baby...where'd you just come down from?" she asked quietly.
"Me?" He knew the dodge was weak, but it was all he had.
"Yes. You look so faraway." She moved the hand to his face.
"Oh...you know me," he shrugged. "It's nothing."
"Tell me." Her hand stayed where it was, reassuring him and trapping him at once.
Taking a deep breath, he began. "Seeing the city this way, at night, by boat- it's like coming back from from Staten Island. Every night...ten years..." he lasped into silence again.
"You're not there any more." Her soft voice, enough of a reminder on its own. "You're different now, baby...everything is."
Mike gave her a small squeeze, looking off towards the lights. "I know...it just takes awhile. Sometimes, it doesn't feel real." He wasn't sure how else to explain.
A tiny hand smacked against him, interrupting his thoughts. He looked down into Isabel's wide brown eyes. She gurgled around a mouthful of stuffed rabbit, staring at his face.
He looked back, one hand in her soft curls. "What does she see?"
Millie answered for the infant. "Her daddy."
He finally smiled, and Isabel crowed in triumph, grabbing at his sleeve. Millie leaned into him as the baby kicked in exictement, and as the boat continued, moving, she turned to kiss him.
When they parted, his voice was hoarse, "I never knew I wanted this." She nodded, and he continued. "It's not...I don't know how not to have you anymore."
"You'll always have us, baby."
"I....I just don't know how." The boat swung around, so that the city was behind them, fading. The lights of Long Island City waited, the car, and the ride home were ahead.
"You will." She took his hand, tightly. "I promise."
He twined his fingers with hers, not trusting words. Whatever he'd still need to sort out, he couldn't let it touch this. If there was one thing he'd learned though, in twenty years on the job. More often that not, the past reached out for you, dragging you back. He had to keep trying, keep hoping...if for no other reason than Isabel.