Kate tilted her head back, closing her eyes as the warmth of the sun hit her face. It was the small things that she missed the most. Like wind ruffling her hair or the laughter of children in a nearby park. In some ways, she felt like she was experiencing the world for the first time ago. Things felt differently beneath her touch. Smells were stronger and colors were brighter now that her body was her own again. She didn’t even mind the hot hood of the car beneath her where she sat. It made her feel human. She knew that if she opened her eyes, she would see Seth next to her with his arms crossed tightly over his chest and his eyes devoid of emotion. He’d been trying so hard to shut everything out, including Kate, ever since she told him what she intended to do. Dropping her chin, she opened her eyes and looked over at him, reaching out to brush her fingers his hand. He flinched away, not that she blamed him. Her hands had been used for some terrible things. It must have been hard to shake the instinct to stay far away from her even now that Amaru was long gone.
“I’m sorry,” Kate said quietly, returning her hand to her lap.
Seth finally looked over at her. He looked like he wanted to say something but he remained quiet. Kate searched his eyes, looking for any clue about what he was thinking. He’d been quiet since she announced her intent, only speaking up to tell her that he would take her wherever she wanted to go.
Tell me not to stay, she begged him silently. Tell me to get back in the car with you. Say something.
“I should get back on the road,” he said.
Kate blinked at him before nodding slowly, looking away.
“Yeah,” she said, hoping that she imagined the waver in her voice.
She refused to let her tears fall. This was her idea. She didn’t have any right to cry.
“Kate,” Seth sighed.
She slid down off of the car without looking at him. He caught her hand before she could walk away, turning her back to face him.
“Tell me what you want here,” Seth said.
Kate looked up into his eyes reluctantly. It wasn’t her desires that led her here. If it was a matter of what she wanted, she wouldn’t be here. But she was so tired. She needed time to recover.
“I have to get away from that life,” she told him.
From your life. The words went unspoken but they both knew what she meant. The wounded look in Seth’s eyes struck her deep and she immediately wanted to take them back.
“It’s not forever,” Kate insisted quickly.
It was the same thing she told Scott and Richie when they questioned her decision to let Freddie help her get settled in a small apartment near his house.
“Whatever you need,” Seth said with a jerking nod of his head.
He looked away from her, though his hand still held hers tightly as if she would disappear forever if she let go. Kate swallowed hard before stepping closer to him. Her free hand lifted and she touched his cheek gently.
“I need to heal, Seth.”
He didn’t say anything but she watched the muscles in his jaw working as he stared at a spot over her shoulder. When she could no longer stand it, Kate slid her arms around his shoulders and tucked her face into his neck. Seth remained still for several moments before his arms hesitantly wrapped around her.
“It’s not supposed to be easy,” she whispered.
He let out a huff, pulling her in even closer.
“Is anything ever easy with us?” Seth finally said.
She would have laughed if tears weren’t gathering in her eyes and threatening to spill over.
“No,” she agreed before pulling away to look up at him.
They stared at each other for a long time, still holding onto one another.
“Tell me you’ll come back for me,” Kate said.
He smiled half-heartedly.
“All you have to do is call,” Seth told her.
She knew that he meant it. Kate had so many more things that she wanted to say but she knew that it would only be harder to let him go if she did. All those words would have to wait for another time, when they were both ready. Instead she pushed up on her toes and pressed her lips to his in a soft kiss. It was more than just a goodbye kiss. It was a promise of something. This time when a tear slid down her cheek, Kate didn’t know which of them it belonged to. She lingered for a few moments before pulling away and looking up at him. Seth stared at her with a surprise even though she remembered him pressing several kisses to her forehead and hands while she struggled through the aftermath of Amaru’s possession. When she nodded at him, a slight, sad smile tugged at his lips before he nodded in return.
“Bye Seth,” Kate said softly, stepping out of his arms.
As she turned to walk up the sidewalk to Freddie’s house, his quiet response still reached her ears.
“See you later princess.”
Kate didn’t smile but she didn’t cry either. As she heard the rumble of his car starting, she inwardly promised herself that she would see him again.