She wasn’t sure who had picked the sunflowers to be the flowers around Nate’s grave but it seemed like a Parker thing to do. Everyone else had finally left so Sophie was alone with Nate’s headstone. Which looked almost wrong surrounded by the large bright yellow flowers but they still felt right. They felt like family.
It was hard to admit where she was. It had been less than a week since she had lost the only man who had ever gotten through to her heart for him to truly be her husband.
There was a large crash from the kitchen and Sophie dropped her director’s notes and ran for it. When she got there she found Nate lying on the floor surrounded by broken glass. When he didn’t respond to her saying his name Sophie immediately ran for a phone and called for an ambulance.
She waited forever for the paramedics to arrive and when they did they pushed her out of the way and took Nate away. Sophie was allowed to ride with them but it still felt as if they were taking him away from her.
Less than a week and she went from her happy ending with her one true partner to alone again. Sophie dropped to the ground in front of the headstone, unable to stand any longer. The sunflowers were perfectly arranged to frame the stone, almost like a halo.
The waiting room. She hated the waiting room. More than any other part of hospitals Sophie hated the waiting room. She couldn’t see her loved one and she couldn’t get timely updates. But the hospital staff had made her wait in the waiting room instead of near her husband. She was the only one other than the staff member whose purpose was to keep people in the damned waiting room.
Distantly she was aware of the doctor entering the room but didn’t pay him any mind until he was standing directly in front of her. He did not have a hopeful look on his face.
“Mrs. Ford?” he asked.
“Yes,” she managed to get out.
“I have some difficult news for you.”
In less than an hour her whole life had collapsed around her. And she had to go through it alone. There had been no one else in town she was comfortable calling to help her. And now all she had left was a headstone with sunflowers and a house full of reminders. She almost regretted making everyone go away.
Somehow Sophie had made it home. She wasn’t completely sure how she had managed it but vaguely remembered the taxi ride home. Through instinct alone she made a cup of tea and sat down with her phone. She had to call and tell the team what happened. But she couldn’t make herself push call.
Eventually she did and listened to it ring.
“Hello, Sophie,” Maggie’s voice said on the other end. “What’s up?”
“Nate’s gone,” Sophie said and she could hear the pain in her own voice. She couldn’t say anything else past the tears that were threatening to fall.
“I’m on my way.”
In less than a day everyone she had wanted there was there. And some people she didn’t want but felt like she needed to be there. Everyone had been supportive and helped get everything together. She was pretty sure Hardison had gotten the entire funeral planned before those three had touched down in Boston. There were some benefits to deciding what they had wanted in case they died ahead of time.
But she didn’t think the sunflowers were his doing. They were too happy for Hardison to have chosen for a burial. But they were something Parker would do, trying to make the event a little brighter and a little less sad. Even if there was no way to take away the grief even a little.
With how hard it had been to talk to Maggie Sophie wasn’t sure she could call anyone else. But she had to. There were too many other people that needed to know. Her tea was still sitting next to her, now no longer steaming but still warm. She dialed the phone again.
The click letting her know the recipient picked up rang through her ears and before he could say anything Sophie spoke.
“Nate had a heart attack. He’s gone.”
“Bloody Hell, Sophie,” Sterling said.
The years had gentled their relationship and brought Sterling closer to being a friend or a member of the family than he had ever been before. But Sophie didn’t know why she had called him.
“He’s gone,” she whispered again.
She couldn’t decide if she hated the sunflowers or loved them. They almost seemed to mock her grief. But they were flowers and they couldn’t do that. Instead they just sat there being the brightest color in the graveyard that Sophie could see and trying to make things a little less awful.
Sophie was alone and she didn’t want to be. But there was no one she wanted to be there. Just her husband who was gone forever.
This time she had to do it. She had to call her team. Her family. Nate’s family.
But the phone sat on the table in front of her next to the now room temperature tea. She had no idea how she was going to tell them. Sophie didn’t want to tell them. Didn’t want it to be true. Telling them made it real.
The phone rang and Eliot picked up.
“Hey Sophie,” he said.
As soon as she heard his voice the tears she had been holding back began to fall and she let out a sob.
“Sophie,” Eliot said gently. “What’s wrong?”
She couldn’t speak through her tears. And she couldn’t stop them now that they had started.
Eliot’s muffled voice was coming out of the phone. He wasn’t talking to her but someone on the other end. When she heard him clearly again he had pain in his voice.
“Fuck,” he said. “Hardison found it. I’m so sorry and we are on our way. But I’m staying right here on the phone as long as you need me.”
Her crying only got harder.
Sophie wasn’t sure how long she sat there staring at the sunflowers. Long enough that they started to blur out and the distraction of them disappeared. And her tears came back. She just sat there and sobbed on her husband’s, on Nate’s, grave.
Sunflowers were no longer a happy flower.