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She felt the mattress sink slightly under his weight when he sat next to her on the bed. His movements were soft whenever he was around her, and she liked it. She welcomed his kindness, his attention, his silent support and the burning desire in his eyes when he looked at her. 

Beep

Slowly, he reached for her lying silhouette and touched her shoulder. His fingers felt so good on her arm through the hoodie that she basked in the sensation for a few seconds before rolling over to face him.

Beep

His green-gray eyes bore into hers, roaming over her features as if he wanted to learn them by heart. As if he didn't know them already. He ran his knuckles up her neck gently without looking away from her eyes. When his hand reached her jaw, he stroked it too, leaving hot, invisible traces wherever his fingertips touched her skin.

Beep

He tucked a short, blonde lock of her hair behind her ear and then caressed it tenderly before bringing his hand to the back of her neck.

Beep

As if in slow-motion, he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss against her lips, as he had done so many times before, in what seemed like another life. She closed her eyes in the semi-darkness of the room to enjoy the amazing sensation. His touch set her skin on fire immediately.

Beep

The heat she felt in her belly became almost unbearable. 

Beep

The burning sensation in her throat finally forced her to open her eyes.

Beep

At first, Bonnie couldn't understand where she was. The lights were on, too white and too bright for her sore eyes, so she closed them again, looking forward to going back to the strong arms that were holding her only two seconds ago. She had the weird feeling that her own body didn't belong to her, because it suddenly felt heavy and uncomfortable. Her head hurt so badly that the persistent beeping was driving her mad. 

And yet the worst part was the dreadful void in her heart. 

She didn't know where she was nor could she remember what had brought her in here, but she was very aware of the deep sorrow that threatened to choke her all of a sudden. 

Bonnie didn't know whether it was the physical pain her body was enduring or the terrible grief in her soul that made her moan then, but the unsettling noise brought a woman in a light blue uniform to her door immediately. Tenderly, she took her hand in hers. The young woman -a nurse?- whispered comforting nonsense to Bonnie while she adjusted her medication. 

But Bonnie couldn't bring herself to stop crying, even if she wasn't able to wrap her cloggy mind around the reason yet. When the strong painkillers finally kicked in through her IV, Bonnie passed out again, the traces of her bitter tears still visible on her hollow cheeks.

****

The next time Bonnie woke up, she wasn't alone in the room. There was someone to her right who kept a hand on her forearm. She recognised Annalise and frowned at the concerned expression on the woman's well-known face. Annalise seemed to be trying to say something to her, but Bonnie was still too groggy to understand anything. Her words didn't make any sense at all.

Bonnie groaned. Something was so off. Someone was missing at her bedside, she could tell. Bit by bit, Annalise's words started to reach Bonnie as her brain caught up with reality around her.

"Bonnie, are you in pain?"

Making a big effort, Bonnie shook her head weakly. Her body was completely battered and she felt tired, but other than her head, nothing seemed to be causing her any trouble.

Annalise gave her an approving nod and an attempt of a smile while she stroked Bonnie's arm, but it never reached her eyes.

And then all of a sudden, as if a lightning had hit her, Bonnie remembered everything.

The images flashed before her eyes as if they were happening right now. The end of Annalise's trial, the satisfaction and relief, Frank with a gun aiming at the Governor, the deafening gunshots, Frank covered in blood dying in her arms, the infinite sorrow, the guilt, a burning sensation in her stomach and the realization that she was dying too, the fear of the unknown but, at the same time, the peace of knowing that she wouldn't have to live a life without Frank.

But, apparently, she hadn't died. And he had.

Bonnie's breathing became rushed all of a sudden. In a matter of seconds, all color disappeared from her face and the tears started streaming down her cheeks, the violent sobs almost choking her. As if she had been ripped in half, she finally let out a desperate and pained wail that sent a shiver down Annalise's spine. She reached for Bonnie's face with both hands and tried to soothe her, but it was impossible.

A nurse entered the room then and decided to give Bonnie an anxiolytic jab to help her relax. It took both Annalise's and the nurse's efforts to keep Bonnie's tiny body pinned down to the bed while the tranquilizer kicked in. After a long while, the sobs subsided and only silent tears kept rolling down Bonnie's cheeks. It was pretty clear by her tired expression and the sudden stillness of her limbs that she was exhausted.

"It's gonna be okay", Annalise whispered, her face just a few inches away from Bonnie's.

"Let… me… die", Bonnie mouthed. Her throat was so sore and raw that she could barely make a sound.

"No", Annalise's tone was final and strict, as always. She grasped Bonnie's hand firmly, but she softened her voice a bit when she spoke again. "I need you, Bonnie."

"I… wanna… die", Bonnie insisted in a hoarse whisper through her silent tears, even if all fight had just abandoned her body.

"Trust me. Everything's gonna be alright."

But it wasn't. And Bonnie knew it too well. There were no words that could comfort her anymore. There was no life left for her in this horrible world that had only brought her pain and suffering since the day she had been born. It was too much. Nobody had the right to ask her to live after all she'd been through.

When the medication knocked her out one more time, Bonnie welcomed the respite and, with her last bit of consciousness, she wished she could never wake up again.

****

But she did. Once, twice. Every time, Bonnie opened her eyes for a few minutes, half an hour at most, and then went back to unconsciousness. Sometimes, Annalise was there. Other times she was completely alone. Once she even saw Tegan out of the corner of her eye, but she wasn’t in the mood for a chat. 

Bonnie lost track of time. The moments she was awake were so painful that she couldn’t stop hoping for a quick death. She had already run out of tears after so much crying, but the grief was still so deep that it seemed to be digging a hole right in her heart.

Bit by bit, thanks to the medication, the nurses and doctors, her body started to recover. Annalise kept visiting her regularly. They spent most of their time together in silence, since Bonnie didn’t feel like talking at all. She couldn’t bring herself to articulate any sound. Sometimes, Annalise filled her in on the details of life outside her hospital room. 

That was how Bonnie learned that the bullet had gone right through her body, making her lose a lot of blood, but had damaged no vital organs. After an emergency surgery that had saved her life, she’d been sedated and intubated until a few days ago, when she had had everything removed from her body and she had woken up for the first time.

That was how she found out that Connor Walsh, the boy she herself had chosen for the Keating 5, had filed for divorce from Oliver and would go to jail to pay for his and everyone’s crimes. And there it went another life she had ruined...

That was how she heard about Nate’s new projects, about Michaela moving out of the group’s house for good, about Tegan’s and Annalise’s association...

And that was how she discovered that Laurel had vanished without trace once again, leaving them all behind, not even bothering to stay to say her farewells to Fr-. 

Bonnie swallowed hard. No. She couldn’t go there yet. She wasn’t ready. Annalise may know too, because she hadn’t even mentioned him , and Bonnie hadn’t asked either. She wasn’t ready to know how, when, where, why. Sorrow and guilt were already eating her alive.

When the doctor decided it was safe for Bonnie to start eating solid food, they removed her intravenous feeding. When she was brought her first meal, Bonnie turned her back on it and refused to eat, though. And so she did with the next and the next. The sooner her body lost all its energy, the sooner it all would end. 

But they summoned Annalise immediately after her third missed meal and, in spite of being determined to get out of the way as soon as possible, Bonnie had never been able to deny Annalise anything. 

So she let her former boss, her friend, this flawed woman she loved so much despite their tragic shared history, take care of her like the mother Bonnie had always wanted her to be. Because it felt kind of good, and Bonnie couldn’t fight anymore, not right now at least. She took little sips of water and picked at the tasteless food in her plate for Annalise’s benefit, meal after meal, until she recovered and was discharged a few days later.

Annalise suggested Bonnie to move in with her until she felt well enough to take care of herself. Of course, Bonnie refused her offer and decided to go home, even if the mere thought of going back there was excruciating. But it felt only right to put an end to things in the house she had shared with him . And making Annalise bother to take care of her just to throw all her effort overboard in a matter of seconds felt like the worst betrayal ever.

But Bonnie wasn't expecting Annalise to follow her wherever she went. Using her best manipulative skills, Annalise ended up convincing Bonnie to let her stay with her for a couple of weeks. Annalise asked the taxi driver to bring them to her luxurious flat first to gather some of her things and then both went to Bonnie’s house together. 

Though, at some point, Bonnie had come to think that she had no tears left, she was wrong. The moment she unlocked the front door and stepped inside her place, reality hit her with all its strength. 

After one month, the house still smelt of him .

Suddenly, Bonnie couldn’t breathe. She stumbled as she approached the stairs and had to hold on to the handrail so as not to fall. She felt Annalise’s hand on her back, but Bonnie was too focused on trying to breathe again to even appreciate it. Air finally filled her lungs with the first sob. Then she abandoned herself to the relief of being able to cry, to mourn him aloud. 

When her knees buckled, Bonnie sat on the steps slowly, as if her body weighed a ton, and hid her face in her hands, while Annalise sat beside her and brought her closer. Bonnie let Annalise rock her as her tears ran freely down her cheeks and soaked Annalise’s blouse. She couldn’t help but remember other times someone else had comforted her on those stairs. It seemed so unreal... 

Bonnie never knew how long they had been there holding on to each other for dear life, but when she finally raised her head from Annalise’s shoulder it was already dark outside. She used the sleeve of the cardigan Annalise had brought her to the hospital to rub at her eyes and get rid of the last traces of tears. She felt completely drained of energy. 

After standing up, Annalise held out her hand to Bonnie to help her on her feet too. Slowly, they went upstairs and walked down the corridor to Bonnie’s bedroom. Both knew it was stupid to pretend she would feel better in the morning, but she might be a bit less tired and a bit more ready to have the conversation they still have to deal with.

Once in her room, Bonnie almost had another anxiety attack. That last night she had slept with him before everything went to hell came back to her mind. Bonnie closed her eyes and swallowed as Annalise helped her take off her cardigan and into bed. As Bonnie curled up into a ball, Annalise switched off the lights and sat next to her to stroke her back soothingly in silence.

Bonnie fluffed her pillow a bit to get more comfortable and then grabbed the other, the one he used whenever he slept in her bed. She hugged and smelled it, and if she closed her eyes tightly enough, she could almost pretend he was there beside her, nuzzling her neck or caressing her ear, as he so much loved to do. Almost.

That night, Bonnie dreamed of him . He seemed to be somewhere in Oregon, in a place she’d never seen in her life, but the sand dunes were enough to prove her point. He was just standing there, staring at the horizon, his hair dancing wildly at the mercy of the wind. Suddenly, he turned around and spotted her. Then his lips broke into a sad smile as he mouthed something Bonnie couldn’t hear in the distance. The second time he said it, the wind carried his only word to her ears, 'Oregon' , and then he vanished into a sand whirlwind, as if the dunes had just swallowed him

And so, for what seemed like the umpteenth time, even in her dreams, Bonnie failed to keep him by her side.

****

When Bonnie woke up the next morning, it took her a couple of minutes to realize she was in her own bed, in her own house. Everything seemed so normal around her that it was difficult to believe that she would never get her old life back. 

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Bonnie hugged his pillow tightly, sniffling it softly to catch his smell one more time. In moments like this, he had always been there for her, holding her hand, offering to take care of her stuff, hugging her, turning her house into a home when she thought she would die alone. And now, without him there to keep her company, to make her life a bit better and worthwhile, it turned out she would.

Trying not to make any noise, Bonnie got up with a big effort. The pain in her lower abdomen reminded her that she hadn’t taken her pills the night before. Tiptoeing, she walked down the corridor and past his room toward the bathroom. Once inside, she lifted her T-shirt up to inspect her surgery wound. Surprisingly, it was almost healed, even if it still hurt a bit and the doctors hadn’t ruled out the possibility of getting an infection yet. It would leave a scar, of course, but Bonnie didn’t mind.

She turned on the faucet and let the water run through her shaky fingers for a few seconds before splashing a bit on her face and the back of her neck. She let out a sigh and turned it off. Then, swallowing deeply to gather a bit of courage, Bonnie went to the room he ’d claimed for himself when he had moved in with her and opened the door.

Everything was right like he had left it. There were some books on his nightstand, a scarf hanging from the back of a chair, a hoodie laid out over the bedspread. With tears in her eyes, Bonnie approached the bed and sat down. Carefully, she picked the hoodie and put it on, letting the warm fabric wrap her up in the smell of him .

Bonnie hugged herself around the waist and it was then that she noticed there was something in the front pocket of the hoodie. Sniffling to keep the tears at bay, she extracted a folded paper that she immediately unfolded in order to find out what it was.

A letter. 

'My dear Bonnie…' , it said.

For her. He had written her a letter. 

Frank.

'My dear Bonnie.

I hope by the time you read this, everything will be over.

I can't take this anymore, it's just too much. Learning who I really am messed me up so badly. I thought you knew me, how unstable I am, how unpredictable. You should have never told me.

Now I find myself in a very uncomfortable position. Sam ruined my life since birth, he abused and manipulated me into doing so many terrible things throughout the years… And it turns out he was my father. Did he know from the beginning? He was a monster. And so I am.

But I still have a chance at making things right, at protecting the ones I love the most in this world.

I'm so sorry, Bonnie. I hope you can forgive me at some point, like I'll try to forgive you myself.

You are and will always be the love of my life.

Frank'

Bonnie didn't know when she had started sobbing, but there she was, her knees up to her chin, one arm around them, Frank's letter firmly clasped in her other hand and the tears streaming down her face like waterfalls.

Obviously, the noises alerted Annalise, who appeared on the bedroom's door immediately, concern written all over her face. Since Bonnie was too distressed to speak, Annalise took the letter from her hand and read it herself. Gently, she brought her hand to Bonnie's knee in a comforting gesture, and Bonnie burrowed into her side in search for some warmth.

"It… was m-my… fault", Bonnie stuttered between sobs. "He died… because I told him… because I-"

"No, Bonnie", Annalise stroked the younger woman's shoulder. "You just tried to make your relationship work."

"I… killed him!"

"No! Stop it!", Annalise insisted, cupping Bonnie's face with both hands and forcing her to look into her dark eyes. "I know you think it's your fault, but you couldn't know how Frank would react."

"I should have! He was… doing better lately. He was… hopeful. We… were even daydreaming… about our future… together when t-the… trial was over", Bonnie let out a pained wail. "I never wanted... to love him so much. Or him loving me! I never wanted… to have anything… with Frank. Because… because I'm… so broken, and a failure, a… loser and, in… in the end, I-I... ruined his life!"

"Shhh, don't say that. You're not a failure, Bonnie. Nobody should be through everything you've endured, that's all. Frank loved you so, so much. And, as he says in that letter, yes, he was unpredictable sometimes, but he was as broken as any of us, and all he wanted was to be loved."

"I-I failed him…"

"I know you meant well. And Frank knew too. It hit him hard, that's all, because it was such a terrible piece of information to swallow in one go. I doubt he really had time to process the enormity of it when he decided to kill Birkhead."

"He just… wanted to die, Annalise. It… was a… a suicide mission", Bonnie hid her face in her hands.

"Yes. He knew the chances of getting out of it alive were scarce. But in the end he did it to protect us. Birkhead would have never stopped until she had made us all bite the dust. He sacrificed himself for us, Bonnie. It's so unfair, but I think it was his way of seeking redemption and be at peace with himself."

Bonnie knew Annalise was right, because Frank's last words when he was dying in her arms had addressed exactly that. But that didn't change the fact that it had been the information Bonnie had shared with him what triggered his decision. And it didn’t change either that Frank had died and would never come back to forgive Bonnie.

"What I'm sure of is that he didn't expect to almost drag you down with him", Annalise went on, her voice even softer than before. "If he had known he almost got you killed, he would have never been able to forgive himself. So I think you're now quits."

Bonnie shook her head. All she wanted was to stop feeling, to stop existing. She couldn't live in a world where Frank would never cook his special sauce for her again. Besides, guilt was so overwhelming right now that it almost made her sick.

"W-Where's his… his b-?", Bonnie tried to ask, but the words failed her.

Annalise sighed and swallowed before explaining. "He was cremated. We scattered his ashes around my family grave. We put a gravestone with his name on it too."

Bonnie only nodded. 

"I want to go."

"Not yet. I promise I'll drive you there, but not yet. It's too soon. You're not strong enough."

"I am", Bonnie insisted.

"Not yet", Annalise repeated, putting a hand over Bonnie's and patting it tenderly. "In a few days I'll bring you to see him. Trust me on this, please."

With an exhausted sigh, Bonnie shrugged and stopped fighting. What was the point, anyway? She was so, so tired of fighting… After a few seconds, she realized Annalise was shaking her hand gently to catch her attention.

“Are you listening to me?”

Bonnie raised her sad, questioning eyes to Annalise.

“I said the police will want to speak to you.”

With another shrug, Bonnie showed her exhaustion once more.

“I have nothing to tell them.”

“Yeah, I know, but there are some questions you’ll have to answer, anyway”, Annalise explained. “When we made our statements, both Tegan and I already told them that none of us knew what Frank was up to. But they found out you two were together and that kind of makes you a suspect, too.”

“When?”, Bonnie asked. When will you all leave me alone once and for all? When will this be over at last? She would help Annalise get away with whatever they tried to charge her with, but she needed it to end.

“Tomorrow morning. We’ll go to the precinct to let them question you. I’ll represent you so you don’t have to go through it alone.”

Bonnie nodded again and then lay on her side on Frank’s bed. Annalise patted her hip warmly and got up.

“I’ll bring you your pills and a glass of water, okay? And when you’re ready, come downstairs to have some breakfast. I made pancakes, like in the old times.”

And then she left, leaving Bonnie alone to her own destructive thoughts.

****

It was as if time had frozen. Every single hour felt like a whole damn month. Bonnie spent most of her day dozing off in her couch, letting Annalise wake her up eventually to feed her with whatever she'd cooked.

That night, Bonnie had to add a sleeping pill to her painkillers to get to sleep, as it kept evading her. When Annalise checked on her a few minutes before going to the guest room, she found Bonnie so distressed that she decided to get in bed with her. With all the tenderness she was capable of, Annalise took Bonnie’s hand in hers and ran the fingers of her other hand through her friend’s short locks. After some minutes, Bonnie finally managed to fall asleep.

The next morning, when she woke up, there was no sign of Annalise in her bed, though. It was Tegan who sat on the mattress by her side, shaking her shoulder softly. Bonnie was still under the effects of the sleeping pill, so she barely understood Tegan when she asked her to get up and get dressed for the questioning.

"Where's Annalise?", Bonnie asked rubbing her eyes.

"She had some business to attend, love. Don't worry."

"I don't need you to babysit me", Bonnie sat up slowly, holding her aching head between her hands.

"Hey, girl, who are you calling a sitter?", Tegan feigned annoyance. "I'm here to make sure you show up at the precinct on time. We don't want the police near our houses and lives anymore, right?"

Closing her eyes, Bonnie sighed and massaged her temples, but she said nothing else. Tegan pursed her lips in a pitiful gesture and observed Bonnie with sympathetic eyes.

"Listen, I'm… so sorry for what you're being through, but you need to trust Annalise on this, okay? Everything will get better, I promise."

The question in Bonnie's eyes was so obvious when she looked back at Tegan that she could almost read the word in her pupils. 'How?'

"It just will, you'll see", Tegan realized how empty her words might sound in Bonnie's ears, but there was nothing else she could do for her right now. "C'mon, get your ass out of that bed and get ready. I'll be downstairs if you need anything."

Tegan walked away from the bed and when she reached the door, she turned her head to glance at Bonnie again, an insecure expression on her face.

"Go. I'm not gonna kill myself."

Opening her eyes wide, Tegan blushed noticeably and looked at her feet, embarrassed. Without a word, she turned around again and left, leaving the door slightly ajar, though.

One hour later, both women arrived at the precinct, where Annalise was supposed to meet them. But she was nowhere to be seen. Tegan frowned and produced her phone from her purse immediately. Bonnie had remained calm at home and on the ride there -a side-effect of the pills she was taking- but Tegan's demeanor was starting to make her a bit nervous. 

When an officer called Bonnie's name a few minutes later, Annalise hadn't shown up yet and Tegan was still trying to contact her, so Bonnie followed the man down the hallway on her own until they reached an interrogation room. The officer instructed her to wait there for the detective who was in charge of the case and left, closing the door behind his back.

And at that very moment, Bonnie heard Tegan's yells in the hallway.

"Officer, did you just leave her in there alone?! ALONE?! That woman's on antidepressants and has already tried to take her own life!"

There was a pause and then Tegan resumed her shouting.

"Detective Kelly! Yes, I'm Tegan Price. That woman this incompetent put in there alone is Annalise Keating's client. She's been having suicidal thoughts derived from depression since she woke up in hospital. I'm Ms Keating's associate, and I'm in no way allowing you to leave her alone or question her without her legal team by her side. If something happened to her, it would be on you."

The door opened to a middle-aged woman in a gray suit, who stepped slightly aside to let Tegan enter the room first.

“You alright?”, she asked Bonnie. Then she turned back to the detective. “I’ll wait here with her until my associate comes.”

“It’s just a routinary interrogation, ma'am. We need to shed light on some details, that’s all”, Detective Kelly assured her.

“Anyway, I-. Oh, here you are.”

Tegan was now facing the one and only Annalise Keating, who was standing at the door with a yellow dress and a dark jacket that suited her perfectly.

“I’ll take over from here. Thank you, Ms Price”, she said, sending Tegan what Bonnie thought it was a conspiratorial glance. Something suddenly seemed so off, so staged... But she might be imagining things. After all, the grief and the pills didn’t let her mind work at full speed.

In the end, the questioning was, in fact, just a routinary one. All the police wanted to know was Bonnie’s involvement in Birkhead’s death and what she knew of Frank’s plans, but since there were plenty of witnesses that had seen Bonnie at Annalise’s trial from start to finish, nobody truly believed she had taken part in the Governor’s assassination. So after half an hour, both Bonnie and Annalise stepped out the interrogation room and into the hallway, where Tegan was waiting for them.

The three of them left the precinct in silence, but Bonnie was sure she caught another knowing look between her two companions. Once in the parking lot, Annalise led Bonnie to her car. Tegan squeezed Bonnie’s shoulder amiably and sent her a warm, beautiful smile. Then she took Annalise’s hand in hers and both nodded, as if they had just reached an agreement. Tegan turned around to leave, raising her hand in the air as a goodbye, and disappeared behind a car.

The ride home was silent. Bonnie knew Annalise well enough to notice she was a bit agitated, even if she tried to hide it. She tapped on the wheel whenever they got stuck in traffic and kept clicking her tongue at the traffic lights.

When they finally arrived at Bonnie’s place, Annalise went straight to a cabinet in the kitchen and took out a bottle of vodka Bonnie didn’t know it was there. She poured herself a generous amount of liquid and downed it in one go. Then she put down the glass and looked at Bonnie, who was staring at her with disconcerted eyes.

“Does this have anything to do with whatever you and Tegan are up to?”, Bonnie asked calmly, putting her hands in her pockets.

“Did she tell you anything?”, Annalise inquired. When Bonnie shook her head, she exhaled. “Good. This is up to me. Bonnie, we need to talk. I would offer you some vodka, but you’re on strong medication. Let’s go to the living-room. You’d better sit down.”

“What is it?”

Annalise took advantage of Bonnie’s confusion to take her by the elbow and lead her to the couch, where they both sat down next to each other.

“Annalise…?”

The older woman inhaled deeply before taking Bonnie’s hand in hers.

“Frank is alive.”

Bonnie didn’t register her words at first. She froze, her brow furrowed, and stared at Annalise as if she were trying to see inside her very soul.

“What?”, Bonnie said in a whisper, her eyes distrustful and her breathing rushed.

With a simple nod, Annalise confirmed her previous statement and squeezed Bonnie’s hand tighter. Bonnie’s eyes filled with tears and her lips started trembling.

Frank is alive .

“What’s that supposed to mean?”, she managed to ask, bewildered. Was this all a joke? Why hadn’t Annalise told her right away? Frank’s death had made her seriously consider the idea of killing herself!

“It means he didn’t die the day he shot Birkhead. He’s been alive and recovering all this time.”

Extracting her hand from Annalise’s, Bonnie brought it to her mouth to muffle the sobs she couldn’t contain anymore.

“Why… did you… wait all this time… to tell me?!”, Bonnie yelled. “All I wanted was to kill myself and you knew! Why did… you keep it from me?! Where’s he?”

“Bonnie, calm down. I know this is a lot right now, but you need to listen to me! I’ll explain everything, and then you’ll have to make a choice, but you need to get a hold of yourself first.”

Frank is alive .

Bonnie leaned in to rest her elbows on her knees. Then she hid her face in her hands and focused on breathing more slowly. This was a nightmare. She doubted her weak heart could take anything else without exploding. After a few minutes, when she felt a bit less lightheaded, Bonnie spoke again, but she didn’t look at Annalise yet.

“Talk.”

“That day was madness. When I saw you and Frank covered in blood on those stairs, I thought I’d lost you both forever. But fortunately for us, there were a couple of ambulances near the court building. Wherever a politician goes -a trial, an unveiling, a rally-, they’re followed by a huge cohort. Ironically, the paramedics couldn’t do anything to save Birkhead’s life. Frank aimed at her heart and totally hit the target, so she was dead in a matter of seconds.”

Frank is alive .

“But… Frank… passed out in my arms”, Bonnie reminded Annalise.

“Yes, as you passed out in mine”, the older woman agreed, a shiver running down her spine at the memory, and then went on. “But the bullets didn’t hit any vital organs or main vessels. In Frank’s case, he got shot twice: one of the bullets affected a small part of his liver and the other hit him an inch above his right lung. He was losing a lot of blood, but not enough to bleed to death right away on the stairs. Defying Birkhead’s bodyguards’ orders, the paramedics insisted on taking you both to the hospital to try and save your lives.”

Bonnie’s head was spinning. She pressed her palms against her eyes, trying to control the dizziness she was feeling. Annalise raised her hand and put it on Bonnie’s back.

“And they did, actually. When I realized Frank wasn’t going to die, I started to pull some strings. If he went out of that hospital alive after killing the Governor, he wouldn’t see daylight again in his life. There are still a few people out there who owe me some favors, you know?”

“And what’s Tegan role in all this?”

“Well, she also knows very interesting people who can make you... disappear without trace if needed. You know she’d done it before for Laurel”, Annalise shot her a very eloquent look. “We staged everything to make it look like Frank had died a week after the incident. A very collaborative doctor certified his death and sent his… body to the morgue. Said doctor must be enjoying his fortune in Bahamas right now, by the way. Of course, that body wasn’t Frank’s anymore. Unconscious as he still was, that night the real Frank was on his way to Memphis, Tennessee.”

Frank is alive .

“Your family home”, Bonnie raised her head at last. She was starting to follow Annalise’s reasoning and connect the dots.

Annalise nodded with an appreciative smile on her lips.

“My family home. Celestine’s been taking care of him until last week.”

“Of course, your sister is a nurse…”, Bonnie recalled. “But what did you do with the other body, the fake Frank? Whose body was it?”

“A lot of people die every day. We didn’t have to kill anyone, if that’s what’s bothering you. No more blood, I swear it. We just waited to fake Frank’s death until the perfect substitute came: un unfortunate homeless white man who died in an alleyway alone and undocumented. We then took the body from the morgue as if it were Frank's, staged a funeral and got it cremated. Bye bye to Frank Delfino.”

Bonnie was staring at Annalise as if she had grown a second head, both with fear and admiration. After a pause she used to try and understand the new pieces of information she'd been given, Bonnie shook her head in disbelief.

Frank is alive.

“God, I just… I can barely believe all this. Are you sure you’re not telling this to me to… I don’t know… cheer me up or something?”

“No! Bonnie, I would never do such an awful thing to you. What's the point of lying about this?”

“Where’s Frank now?”

“Oregon”, Annalise’s only word was so meaningful that Bonnie had to swallow so as not to start crying again. “He’s still recovering. His injuries were a lot worse than yours, but he’s out of danger now. He might have some health issues for the rest of his life, because his liver was a bit affected, but he’s strong. And he’s waiting for you.”

“I’m sure he still hates me, Annalise”, Bonnie shook her head while she wrung her hands.

“What? Of course not! Bonnie, Frank loves you. He almost had a heart attack when he learned that you got injured too because of him. Guilt is eating him alive: I told you yesterday without really telling you. You’re now quits.”

“And… what am I supposed to do now? What’s that choice I have to make?”

Annalise’s expression changed and she got sad all of a sudden.

“It’s time for you to choose between Frank and me, Bonnie.”

And there it was at last, the choice Bonnie had avoided half her adult life, laid out plainly in front of her.

“What do you mean?”, she asked in a very low voice, though she knew perfectly what it meant.

“Frank’s dead to the world. If you choose to go to Oregon with him, you’ll be dead too, so none of you could ever come back here. But if you decide to stay with me, you won’t be able to see Frank ever again.”

A silent tear rolled down Bonnie’s pale cheek.

“Listen, Bonnie”, Annalise rubbed her friend’s shoulder softly and then swallowed, gathering courage to open up. “The idea of losing you when I just got you back hurts a lot. But it’s your life. You more than anyone deserve to be happy. Both you and Frank stuck with me when things got dirty. You could have run away, but you stayed instead. Frank willingly sacrificed himself to protect me. I owe you two this, if this is what you want. A fresh start far away from here, where your past, your identities, our history, our problems, won’t follow any of you.”

Slowly, Bonnie leaned against Annalise’s side, hid her face in her shoulder and threw her arms around the older woman’s waist. Annalise put her arm around Bonnie’s shoulders and pulled her close.

Bonnie didn’t know if she were ready to make such a choice. Once again, she found herself on the edge of the abyss. How was it fair that she had to choose between the two people she loved the most in the world? 

As if she could feel the turmoil inside Bonnie’s mind, Annalise squeezed her shoulder.

“You don’t have to say anything right now. Take your time, sleep on it. And let me know when you’d made up your mind so I can set everything in motion to keep you safe. We have a plan in case you say yes.”

With a weak nod against Annalise’s shoulder, Bonnie confirmed that she’d heard everything Annalise had said. Her battered heart swelled with gratitude at the thought of everything Annalise was willing to risk to make her happy, perhaps for the last time in their lives. There was so much Bonnie still needed to process and figure out to be able to make that dreaded decision, but it would have to wait until later. For the time being, all she wanted was to feel safe in Annalise’s arms.

****

That night, Bonnie didn't sleep at all. After so much tossing and turning, sunrise found her still awake and really exhausted. 

Her mind was plagued with memories of her life. She'd been through so much… The abuses she'd suffered from her father, the loss of her child, Sam's manipulative behavior, all the times Annalise had snubbed her, what she had been forced to do to Ron after Nate's fit of blind derangement, the momentary loss of Frank…

Of course she was mentally unbalanced. And yet she was strong, right? She'd kept fighting despite everything, keeping everyone around her together, like Laurel said. 

All Bonnie had ever wanted was a family.

And now she had a chance at getting it. At last. With Frank.

Frank.

The man who claimed she was the love of his life. The man who had kept her safe, who had always helped her no matter what. The man she loved with all her heart. Even if he was as broken and flawed as she was.

With a sigh, Bonnie rolled over and lay on her other side. Her mind was already made up, and she knew. Deep inside, she'd always known she would choose Frank over Annalise. And Annalise knew too, but not even that thought helped Bonnie feel less guilty.

Annalise meant so much to her. Frank had been right: there was a strong and strange bond between the two women that Bonnie just couldn't label. She'd always looked up to Annalise. She loved her former mentor deeply, but sometimes she also hated her. It wasn't only Annalise's fault that Bonnie had come to need her so much, though, that she had become so dependent on her praise and acceptance. But after all this time, and for the first time in ages, Bonnie felt she could forgive Annalise and move on at last. And forgive herself while she was at it.

So that morning, when Bonnie went downstairs to have breakfast, she was ready to start a new life and leave the old one behind. From behind the kitchen island, Annalise didn't even need to ask Bonnie what she had decided: it was written in every gesture and feature of Bonnie's body. Both women melted into each other's arms with tears in their eyes.

When they were able to speak again, Annalise brought Bonnie up to date on the plan. The idea was pretending she had finally killed herself. Police would probably start an investigation, given who Bonnie worked with and their problematic lives, and that was precisely why Tegan and Annalise had been insisting on the dangers of leaving Bonnie alone while they were at the precinct: to plant a seed in the detective's mind. There would be a body, of course, an unrecognisable, blonde corpse found inside Bonnie's charred car. And, at some point, they would also find a suicide letter in her house, in Bonnie's own writing.

By then, the real Bonnie would be very far from there, traveling to Seattle under a new identity in the same flight Annalise and Tegan would take to go on their first well-deserved, seven-day holidays together. All the events would be booked in advance (hotel, shows, museum tickets and all) to provide them with an alibi.

Once in Seattle, Tegan would rent a car for their holidays, and then the three women would go to a five-hour road trip to a secluded wooden house in Oregon, not far from the abandoned village of Dolph, where a man called Kevin was already waiting for them.

Then Annalise and Tegan would go back to Seattle to pretend they were enjoying themselves in pubs and exhibitions while they waited for a call: the one the police would make eventually to inform them that Bonnie had committed suicide. After that, they would go back to Pennsylvania to cremate what was left of Bonnie's fake body and to make sure the police closed the case without further repercussions.

And then, they would never go back to the West Coast again in their lives.

Bonnie listened to Annalise with a concentrated expression on her face, trying not to miss a thing. She asked a few questions, but there seemed to be no loose ends, except for the fact that Annalise and Tegan would be putting themselves at so much risk if they would be the ones to drive Bonnie to Oregon. But Annalise dismissed her concerns with a wave of her hand.

"Let me do this for you, Bonnie. It will be the last time we see each other. I need to make sure you're safe."

When everything was clear, Annalise drew a flip phone from her pocket and made a call. Bonnie looked around, expecting to feel some kind of nostalgia at the thought of leaving the house behind, but she didn't. She felt at peace with her decision. She was ready to let this life go and start a new one where she would have the chance to be herself, hopefully free and probably happy too.

It was time to let Bonnie Winterbottom die.

****

Once she said yes, they had to wait for a couple of days and then everything started to happen really fast. Everyone involved in the plan worked like a clock and the events followed one another like falling dominoes. 

There wasn't much Bonnie could do or pack in the meantime, because she couldn't take much with her. Finally, the last day at five o'clock in the morning -just one hour away from leaving her home for good-, Bonnie wrote the suicide letter and left it on the kitchen island, as Annalise instructed. Then she got dressed, put on some sunglasses and one of Annalise's wigs to disguise herself a bit and, with a last look at the stairs, Bonnie and Annalise stepped outside and closed the front door behind their backs.

Both women hugged tightly and said goodbye to each other. They would meet at the airport a few hours later, but they wouldn't be able to acknowledge each other's presence until they landed in Seattle. 

With a burner phone and her new documents in her bag, Bonnie parted ways with her friend and walked a couple of miles on her own to put some distance between her and her house. Then she took a taxi to the airport, feeling excited, afraid, guilty, happy and adventurous, all at the same time. Bonnie still didn't want to believe everything would go swimmingly, because if anything went wrong, the blow would be too hard to take. She'd allow herself to celebrate when she could see Frank alive in Oregon with her own eyes.

The non-stop flight to Seattle was five hours long. When the aircraft finally landed in the city, Bonnie left it without even turning to look at Tegan and Annalise, who were seated five rows behind her. She asked a taxi driver to take her to the rent-a-car agency they had previously researched and sat in a teriyaki restaurant across the street to wait for Annalise and Tegan, who still had to do their check-in at the hotel they would be staying at and leave their smartphones in the room to avoid being tracked to Oregon.

One hour and a half later, Bonnie saw both women walk around the corner and enter the agency building. She waited some more minutes while they filled in the paperwork and then she paid the check for her drink. Immediately after, an old, black car left the parking lot and stopped right in front of the restaurant. After checking the two people inside were indeed her friends, Bonnie got in and the black car started its road trip to Oregon.

The trip was pleasant and calm. As they drove away from Washington, the sun started to set, making the landscapes even more beautiful and intense. The three women took turns driving so as to avoid making any stops on their way down. The less people saw them, the better. 

Even if none of them could forget the reason behind their trip, sometimes -with the music out loud and Tegan chatting non-stop- it was easy to forget they would have to say goodbye to each other for the last time in less than one day.

Five hours into their trip and following the instructions of a portable GPS navigator Annalise had brought with her, Tegan took the Dolph exit and in a matter of twenty minutes, when the sky was already dark, they reached a modest, two-floor, wooden house in the middle of nowhere. Braking softly, Tegan finally stopped the car next to a second-hand Ford Ranger and turned off the engine. Then Annalise turned her head toward the back seat and took Bonnie's hand in hers. 

"Here we are. Are you alright?", she checked.

With a deep breath and finally taking off Annalise’s wig, Bonnie nodded almost imperceptibly, but, in truth, she was so nervous that, at first, she didn't even notice the man who was comfortably seated in a deck chair on the porch. 

He saw her right away through the car window, though, and got up slowly, as if every single movement put him through hell. When Bonnie got out of the car at last and saw Frank standing there with tears in his eyes -thinner and grayer, but alive-, time froze and her head started spinning. She brought a hand to her mouth to muffle a cry and leaned against the car so as not to fall. But two seconds later, her knees buckled and hit the ground anyway, and Bonnie stopped fighting the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her. Through her liberating tears, she saw Frank's feet approaching her and the next thing she knew was that he'd fallen on his knees too and was pulling her into a tight embrace.

It felt like a dream. Bonnie’s body recognised the warmth and shape of Frank’s arms immediately, but she still had problems wrapping her head around the fact that he was alive and well. They held each other desperately, crying together in each other’s arms.

“You… were...dead”, Bonnie stuttered between sobs.

“I’m fine, I’m here”, Frank assured her with that guttural voice of his that always sent shivers down her spine. 

“I’m so... sorry, Frank.”

“No, Bon. I am. I was… so messed up and confused. I couldn’t think straight”, he said with so much regret in his voice that it broke Bonnie’s heart. “I almost got you killed and I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

“I told you… once. I-I can’t... live without you”, Bonnie said clinging to Frank’s body.

He caressed the back of her neck and brought her even closer, hiding his face in the crook of her neck to catch her characteristic scent better. Then Frank brought his hands to her face and cupped it while he pressed their foreheads together.

“I still can’t believe you’re here.”

“Frank...”, Bonnie pronounced his name with reverence.

“I love you so much, Bon.”

“I-I love you too”, she confessed just a few inches away from his mouth. 

Tentatively, Bonnie closed the distance between them and kissed his lips softly. It felt so right that suddenly, the world fell into place. Without thinking twice, Frank kissed her back a bit more intensely, while he stroke her cheeks with his thumbs. They’d missed this so much that it hurt.

When they parted for air, they stared into each other’s teary eyes as if they wanted to convey in one glance everything they needed to tell each other. Leaning in, Frank kissed Bonnie one more time and then took her by the arm to help her up, but he was still so weak that, in the end, it was Bonnie who ended up helping him.

They heard a sniff and turned around to see an emotional Tegan rubbing at her running nose and red eyes, her head on Annalise’s shoulder. Both Bonnie and Frank were so moved themselves that they approached the two women and the four of them joined in a family hug that felt too good to be true.

“Let’s get inside”, Annalise said after some seconds, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand while she patted Frank on the arm.

He took Bonnie’s hand in his and led the three women inside his new house. As he explained, he’d acquired it around four months ago under a false name and without telling anyone, right after he and Bonnie had really started fantasizing about a future together in Oregon, and of course, before knowing their lives would go to hell.

“I’m so sorry I barely have any furniture or food, but I’ve been here just a week and still can’t drive long distances every day”, Frank excused himself, his hand still squeezing Bonnie’s. “I befriended an old man who lives a mile away and dropped by when he found out there was someone living here again. He brought me some milk, eggs and vegetables from town the last time he visited me. If you haven’t eaten anything, I’m afraid all I can offer you is an omelette.”

The three women were so hungry and tired after flying across the damn country and driving six hours that they were happy enough with that omelette. Frank was an excellent cook and that hadn’t changed. They spent dinner time catching up on each other’s lives, filling each other in on the details of their recoveries and future projects. Bonnie couldn’t tear her eyes off Frank, and he spent all the time they were seated around his second-hand table running his fingers up and down her thigh.

When they were done with their meager dinner, Frank showed them upstairs. Even if the house was quite modest, there were three bedrooms on the upper floor. There was an old bed in one of them, the one Frank seemed to have claimed for himself, and a simple mattress on the other one, while the third remained empty. He insisted Annalise and Tegan slept on the bed, but they refused right away, arguing that he was the wounded one and needed all the comfort he could get.

Then Tegan went out to collect their things from the car, leaving Annalise, Bonnie and Frank together inside.

“How’re you feeling?”, Annalise asked Frank when he handed her a set of sheets for the mattress.

“I’m still in pain and on antibiotics, but I’ll survive. That’s what matters. And this”, Frank added, taking Bonnie’s hand in his and squeezing it. 

Bonnie looked up at him and smiled tenderly. Then she turned again to their former boss.

“Annalise…”, she didn’t know where to start telling her all the things she needed to say.

“I know”, Annalise cut her off, stroking Bonnie’s cheek gently. “Try to rest. We’ll see each other tomorrow.”

At that very moment, Tegan went back upstairs, carrying their bags. Annalise and Tegan said their goodbyes and wished Bonnie and Frank goodnight before retiring to their bedroom.

“Are they... together?”, Frank asked in a whisper.

“I think so”, Bonnie shrugged, a sweet smile playing on her lips. “But they still have so much to figure out.”

“Sounds familiar”, he said, staring at her. He brought his hand to the back of her neck and caressed the short hairs of her nape. When Bonnie lowered her gaze, Frank frowned. “Are you tired?”

Bonnie nodded, still not looking at him. She would need some time to get used to this odd situation.

“Will you… sleep with me tonight?”, Frank inquired tentatively, understanding her hesitation. He'd always been able to read her like an open book.

When Bonnie nodded again, Frank let out a relieved sigh and kissed the top of her head. She pressed her cheek against his chest to listen to his heartbeat and they just stood there holding each other for a while, until Frank stepped back.

"Wait for me in bed? I need to check the doors and take my pills. Be back in a minute."

Frank disappeared downstairs after running his fingers down Bonnie's arm one last time.

Without even switching on the light, Bonnie opened her bag and changed into something more comfortable. She hadn't packed anything but a couple of T-shirts, a cardigan, Frank’s hoodie and some sweatpants. When she was ready, she got in bed and inhaled deeply. Frank's scent was everywhere, and the relief she felt at the realization brought tears to her eyes. That and the idea of having to say goodbye to Annalise the next day. Bonnie knew that, even if the choice had been all hers, nothing could prepare her for that moment.

She felt the mattress sink slightly under Frank's weight when he sat next to her on the bed. His movements were soft whenever he was around her, and now more than ever. She welcomed his kindness, his attention, his silent support and the burning desire in his eyes when he looked at her. 

Slowly, he reached for her lying silhouette and touched her shoulder. His fingers felt so good on her arm through the hoodie that she basked in the sensation for a few seconds before rolling over to face him.

His green-gray eyes bore into hers, roaming over her features as if he wanted to learn them by heart. As if he didn't know them already. He ran his knuckles up her neck gently without looking away from her eyes. When his hand reached her jaw, he stroked it too, leaving hot, invisible traces wherever his fingertips touched her skin.

He tucked a short, blonde lock of her hair behind her ear and then caressed it tenderly before bringing his hand to the back of her neck.

As if in slow-motion, he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss against her lips, as he had done so many times before, in what seemed like another life. She closed her eyes in the semi-darkness of the room to enjoy the amazing sensation.

"You alright?", Frank asked against her lips.

With a nod, Bonnie ran her fingers through his beard and kissed him back. Slowly, she sat up and started taking off Frank's T-shirt. She needed to check on his wounds first, so she made him lie down on his back and discarded his T-shirt on the floor. 

The sight of his naked torso made Bonnie inhale sharply. He'd lost weight and muscle, and the two angry wounds on his chest and abdomen stood out against his pale skin. She leaned down and pressed her forehead against Frank's shoulder, letting him pet her hair as she tried to control her rushed breathing.

"It's okay, Bon", he whispered in her ear.

"I'm sorry for screwing everything up."

"No, no, stop it. You did nothing wrong. I meant it, I didn't want more lies between us, but you've always been stronger than me. I didn't take it well. Finding out about Hannah and Sam destabilized me, it was too much. I thought I was a monster. But I've been given a second chance and I don't want to let that piece of information define me. I don't want to be that man anymore, Bon."

Bonnie couldn't stop her tears from falling one more time.

"You're a good guy, Frank", she assured him, running her fingers down his side.

"That's exactly what you said before our first kiss so many years ago, remember?", he said lying on his side to look at her. "You've always been there for me, Bon. You helped me, saved me and believed in me. I want to make you happy for the rest of my life, take you to the sand beaches and stay inside with you when it rains."

"And go hiking?", Bonnie smiled through her tears.

"Of course", Frank agreed. 

Then he leaned in and captured her lower lip between his teeth, teasing her shamelessly. Bonnie ran her tongue along his upper lip before sucking on it. Soon they deepened the kiss and their tongues started searching each other for the first time in what seemed like ages.

Carefully, Bonnie and Frank undressed each other. She ran her fingers around the wounds on his torso and he kissed the scar on her abdomen, feeling a pang of guilt. 

Bonnie and Frank took their time making love that night. They didn't have to prove anything to each other anymore. Their movements were slow and controlled, because they were still weak, but not for it less heated or desperate. Their connection was deep and real, and now they had a lifetime together to explore it.

Sunrise found them asleep in each other's naked arms. Frank woke up first, every fiber of his battered body in pain, but satisfied and whole. Under the intensity of his admiring gaze, Bonnie followed suit. She stretched in his arms and then she let Frank pull her closer.

"Welcome to Oregon", he whispered in her ear with his sexy, raspy voice. 

Bonnie sighed against the skin of his neck. She still couldn't believe this was it, that they would finally be able to have a taste of the future they had been daydreaming about for two years, that they would get to be lucky for once in their lives after everything they'd been through and done. Did they really deserve to be happy, or would karma find its way back to them for all the lives they'd ruined and taken?

"Are you sure of this, Bon?", Frank's tone had changed. His words sounded now more serious and a bit worried.

She nodded and lifted her head slightly to be able to look at him.

"Yes, I am. I'm choosing you and Oregon. I don't deny it's gonna be hard to renounce my old life and… especially Annalise. I may be running away, I don't know. But it's you for me, Frank. I won't make it without you. I want this with all my heart."

Frank nodded and stroked her cheek gently, trying to convey in that gesture all the emotions and gratitude he was feeling. Bonnie kissed his bearded cheek and then snuggled closer, letting him wrap her up in his warm arms again.

When they heard movement outside the room, they knew Annalise and Tegan were awake too, so they got dressed and went downstairs to meet them. Both women were already putting away their bags in the car and greeted Bonnie and Frank when they showed up.

Annalise flashed them a welcoming smile, but Bonnie knew her well enough to notice how sad her eyes were. They had breakfast together around the table, but none of them spoke much. The impending goodbye could be sensed in the air already. All of a sudden, Bonnie couldn't get rid of the lump in her throat.

After a while, they finally stepped outside. The day was bright and the cool wind whistled among the trees. Once they’d checked everything was in order, Tegan and Annalise turned to Bonnie and Frank, who had been standing there the whole time witnessing what an endearing, old married couple the two women already were.

Tegan was the first to say goodbye. She shook Frank's hand and wished him good luck. Then she hugged Bonnie tight.

"Try to be happy, girl. I'm so glad for you."

"Thanks for everything you've done, Tegan. Promise me you'll take care of Annalise, please", Bonnie whispered in her ear. She was afraid she would break out in tears any minute now.

With a nod, Tegan stepped back and squeezed Bonnie's arm in an attempt to reassure her. Then she turned around and went to the car to give them some privacy.

Annalise was already talking to Frank, a hand on his arm.

“How are we gonna repay you for this?”, Frank asked placing his hand over Annalise's.

“It’s me the one repaying you here. You stuck with me till the bitter end, risking everything in the process. You saved us all, Frank. Enough is enough. Live your life, go hiking, have sex and try to forget.”

“I'll try, but I’ll never forget what you did for us, or you. Thank you, Annalise”, he said and hugged their former boss briefly.

“Just be careful and don’t get in trouble, huh?”

“I’ll take care of him”, Bonnie assured her, throwing an arm around Frank’s waist.

“Make sure you take care of yourself too. I’ve told you a million times already, but you deserve to be happy”, Annalise swallowed and dropped her gaze to the ground. Then she raised it again to look right into Bonnie’s eyes. “Listen, Bonnie. I know it’s been quite difficult between us sometimes, but now that I’m... losing you for good, I want you to know that... I love you so much. Even if sometimes I haven’t been able to show you, I really do. You’ve been my friend, my confident, my sitter and the daughter I never had. I’m so sorry I ruined your life. I hope this can make up for every wrong I’ve ever done to you.”

Annalise’s voice cracked, which made Bonnie finally break down too. She threw her arms around Annalise’s waist and hid her wet face in the woman’s shoulder. Since the moment she’d chosen to go to Oregon to live with Frank, she’d known that parting ways with Annalise would be hard, but it didn’t make the farewell less painful. There was so much history between them that saying goodbye to each other sounded a bit like dying.

Both women cried bitter tears for a long time, while Frank and Tegan exchanged sympathetic glances in the distance.

"I'm gonna... miss you... so much", Bonnie sobbed.

"Me too, but I know you'll be fine. And that makes me happy. If you had died that day after the trial, the rest of my life would have been miserable. But now I'm at peace because I know this is truly the only way to keep each other safe. And, who knows? Life is full of surprises. Have faith."

With the traces of tears still visible on her ebony cheeks, Annalise pulled back at last and smiled at Bonnie, who tried to smile back, even though her whole world was shattering. Suddenly, she felt Frank's comforting arm around her shoulders and she knew Annalise was right. Life was always taking twists and turns, and Bonnie's had finally found its place.

With a last look back at them, Annalise turned around and got in the car. Frank felt Bonnie tremble under his arm and squeezed her shoulder lovingly.

"It's still not too late to change your mind, Bon", he whispered without looking at her.

But rubbing at her still wet eyes, Bonnie shook her head.

"I'm exactly where I want to be," she answered resting her head on his shoulder, while she and Frank saw the black car reverse and take the asphalt path that led to the road. 

They saw Annalise's arm wave up in the air through the window before the car disappeared behind a bunch of trees, and then it was gone.

When the car engine couldn't be heard anymore, the silence became deafening and Bonnie wept. She let Frank hold her and whisper some nonsense against her hair for what seemed like ages. Bit by bit, the sound of his voice soothed her and Bonnie allowed herself to believe that all this was true and that they’d be alright. Taking her by the waist, Frank led her back inside, offering to take her to the nearby beach in the evening to see the sunset together, which raised her spirits a bit.

There was a surprise waiting for them in the kitchen that was what really helped make both of them feel a bit less empty. Someone had left a burner phone on the kitchen counter next to a note. Bonnie frowned and opened the folded paper with trembling hands. It was in Annalise’s edgy handwriting.

There’s a number in the memory saved as Mae. Use it now and then. Don’t tell Tegan.

Bonnie and Frank smiled to each other and hugged with relief. They would be incredibly careful so as not to put anyone in danger, but they knew the window Annalise had just opened for them would make the distance much shorter and the sorrow a bit less deep.

Once in a while, Annalise would receive a text with coded information about their lives. After a couple of years, she would even start getting a yearly picture of a growing girl called Annie, with green-gray eyes and short, blonde hair who was always smiling at the camera. She would have the chance to meet her one day in the future and become an important part of her life, but that’s another story.

For now, all Bonnie had energy for was letting the ocean breeze mess up her hair while she sat between Frank’s legs on the white sand of a breathtaking beach, waiting for the sun to set. She could definitely get used to this. As the sky started to become reddish and the chilly air made them shiver, Bonnie felt at peace. She knew this may not be fair, because they had totally gotten away with murder in the end, and she would always feel profound remorse for the damage they’d done, but they considered they had already atoned for their sins and both were determined to become better people. Now they had the rest of their lives to figure out how to do it.

Slowly, Frank wrapped his arms around Bonnie’s body to shield her from the cold. She leaned back against his chest and let his beard tickle her cheek. Then Frank’s voice sounded in her ear, raspy and low.

“Oregon”, he said it in a way that sounded so much like ‘ I love you ’ that Bonnie had to smile to herself.

“Oregon”, she whispered back, and then life suddenly started.