Back in the Narrative



Scene Title Back in the Narrative
Synopsis You could have done so much more if you only had time.
Date March 7, 2020

Bay Ridge: Nicole's Home

It had taken a trip to The Vault to track down a player for the disc Nicole had received in the mail, but the trip had panned out just fine, and only minutes to connect it to her laptop computer. Shaking hands gently place the disk on the tray and push it closed. Her hand on the trackpad chooses the autoplay option when it pops up on the screen.

She glances at the bubble pack the disc had arrived in. No return address. As the screen flickers to life, she already knows what she is going to see.

There is true regret… pain… deep shame in Benjamin Ryans' gaze as he stares into the lens of the camera, through it, and to the woman on the other side of the screen. As if they might be connected in this moment. Together, even now, divided by space, time, and death.


“Nicole.” The rumble of Ben's voice is one that Nicole can feel in her breast. Already, she can feel the tears pricking in the corners of her eyes. “I don’t expect you to ever forgive me for locking you and Pippa in that cellar, but.. I… I saw that look in your eyes…” The tears well up, spilling out from their reservoir and down her cheeks. “I knew you would have never let me leave there without you and Pippa, even if it made both of us fugitives.”

He's goddamn right about that, and that makes her angry, in a sense. Nicole lets out a scoffing sound that doubles as a sharp inhale to ward off the breaking of the dam.

“I…” The regret is written all over his face, the way his eyes close and brows twitch downward. “I couldn’t do that to our daughter. This isn’t the right life for her. She needs you. Not to have you watching her grow from the other side of a glass partition or hanging from the gallows and raised by strangers. A child will always need their mother. And I know I have no place to ask you for anything, but please,” Ben pleads with the camera, “don’t blame my kids for my actions. All they will have left is each other and Pippa.” Here his voice cracks and he is forced to clear his throat again to free it of the ball of emotions blocking his words.

“Jesus, Ben,” Nicole breathes out, as though he might be able to hear her. She closes her eyes and lets the tears come now. “I would never… They're my girls, too.” They never married, but once she returned to New York with their daughter, she knew she would be the one there for his other girls when they needed someone.

Because he's right. A child needs their mother.

But they need their fathers, too.

A woman needs the other half of her heart.

“I know that you will raise her well. I’ve made a video for her too, for when she is old enough to understand. I just—” Ben’s voice betrays him again, this time he looks away and blinks his eyes a few times. It's a side of him she never saw before that last day in Providence. It's like a man she'd never known, wearing the skin of one she had loved so deeply. “I will always love you for giving me the joy of one last child.”

Nicole's ragged sob almost causes her to miss the rest of what he has to say.

“And I pray you both find happiness and peace going forward.”

He goes quiet, and the video fades to black.

In this world, he had been hers for only the briefest time. Just long enough to create such a beautiful light in the world. A reason to go on living when everything had seemed so very hopeless. By giving in to a love that they hadn't earned in this timeline, Ben Ryans had saved Nicole Nichols' life. That it hadn't been enough to save him is something that will haunt her until the day she sees him again.

The least she can do is look after their children. To tell his story to their daughters. To preserve his legacy.

I love you,” Nicole whispers to the darkened screen.

“Goodbye, Ben.”

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