Title: At Last
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Fandom: The Lake House (2006)
Summary: The two years spent waiting after Kate's last letter were the longest of Alex's life. 1300 words.
Disclaimer: Alex and Kate belong to Keanu Reaves and Sandra Bullock, not me.
Notes: I was unexpectedly ambushed by this plot bunny as I walked out of the theater after seeing the movie. This is all from Alex's POV; see my crossover drabble "Temporal Anomaly" for a stab at the mailbox itself. =)
*Two years*, Alex thought with a heavy heart as he read Kate's letter one more time. *Two more years I'll have to spend waiting for a woman who doesn't even remember what I look like.*
*Two years, on the other hand, with a pot of gold waiting at the other end: a woman I love, who also loves me, who will be waiting for me when I get there. How many other people ever get that kind of guarantee?*
He held onto the letter, folded up in his hand, as he got out of the truck. He wouldn't go near the plaza-- he wasn't about to make Kate go through that all over again-- but he had to see her one last time. One final glimpse to last him through all the coming months without her.
Henry was going to think he was crazy. But then, he was pretty sure Henry thought that about him already. Hell, if Henry'd been the one going through this, he'd probably have thought the same thing himself. Not that it made any difference. However this had happened, however impossible or crazy it might seem, he'd been given the chance to know and love a remarkable woman, and he would never regret it.
One of the first things Alex did when he walked away from Kate that day was to buy a twenty-four month calendar, from 2006 to 2007, on which he circled all the important dates Kate had mentioned in her letters. She'd forbidden him from seeking her out during that time, and frankly, after finding out about his narrowly-averted death, he was a little leery of messing with the timeline any further. He didn't understand the mechanism that made the whole cross-time thing work, and he didn't want to inadvertently spit in the eye of Fate. He had a date set for 2008, and he didn't want to get struck down by a lightning bolt before he made it.
All the same, it gave him a feeling of connection to keep track of what she was up to-- what date she'd walked the streets of Chicago with his map and saw the graffiti he'd left for her, what date she'd remembered that the random stranger she'd kissed in 2004 had been him, what dates she'd worked late and wrote of her longing for a strong shoulder.
In the meantime, he and Henry got the firm up and running: Visionary Vanguard Associates, the dream they'd always had together. Henry had one of his best sketches of the lake house framed and hung in their front conference room, and Alex thought of Kate every time they held a meeting there. His days were full for the most part, but he still missed her. Henry did think he was crazy for continually refusing to go out and meet women, but it didn't matter. In 2008, he'd see for himself what Alex had been waiting for.
The hardest day of the entire wait, the closest he came to ignoring her plea and going to see her, was the day he knew that she'd "left" him. The day he'd stood her up, failed to make the dinner appointment at Il Mare that he'd scheduled two years before, and she'd asked him to stop writing the letters. He was alive this time through; it would have been so easy to just show up and meet her. But she'd asked, and by failing to cross that plaza, he'd tacitly agreed to it. Besides. One more year, and she'd be with him anyway; that wasn't really very long, when he thought about it. Not very long at all.
Finally, finally, the year rolled over once more and 2008 arrived. Alex found himself flinching every time the phone rang and scanning the firm's appointment book every time he passed it; the deadline had almost arrived, and there were only a few hoops left to jump through.
When the day finally dawned-- February 14, Valentine's day, four years since he'd found her first letter-- he dressed down before going into the office, brown turtleneck and jeans instead of the usual suit and tie. Henry had scheduled them both in for the meeting with Kate and Morgan, but he already knew he wouldn't be there. Even if he hadn't been aware of the way things were supposed to play out, though, he didn't think he could have stood to sit down with them as if nothing unusual was going on. He still remembered vividly the way Morgan had reacted to his appearance at the man's office in 2005 when he'd gone to deliver the keys to the lake house; he doubted another meeting between them would be anything but unpleasant. Especially since Alex would be the one walking away with Kate-- again.
Henry frowned at him when he arrived, and the frown only deepened when Alex announced he was blowing the day off. Alex knew his explanation was only going to make things worse, but he had to at least try. If nothing else, to give Henry some kind of warning for the way Alex's life was about to change.
"Look, I know you've never really believed in the thing with Kate," he said. "The girl from--"
"The girl from the letters," Henry said, looking mutinous.
"Yeah, you remember," Alex nodded. "You remember Valentine's 2006, when I took off and drove out to the lake? I got one last letter from her then, and-- well, she wrote it today. She'll be here, in the office, in a few hours."
"What?" Henry stared at him as though he'd gone mad. "You don't mean-- Kate as in Dr. Forster? But you've had the designs for the renovations on her apartment on your desk for weeks. Why didn't you say anything before? And why on earth would you not want to be here to see her?"
"I'll explain it all later," Alex answered, with a wry, lopsided grin. "Just-- put her and Morgan in the front conference room. Take one of the associates in with you and do the meeting without me. Then, when she asks you about the drawing of the lake house, you have to tell her it's mine, and that I died two years ago."
Henry's eyebrows shot up. "Alex, what is this about, really? Are you in some kind of trouble?"
"No, nothing like that." Alex shook his head. "Just trust me. Tell her I was killed in an accident, two years ago today. Tell her it happened at the plaza, you know which one. And don't be surprised if she runs out of here afterward and leaves her boyfriend behind."
Henry shook his head again and sighed. "If this doesn't pan out, you realize I'll be making an appointment for you with a psychiatrist tomorrow," he said, a resigned, fond expression on his face.
"Don't worry," Alex told him, grinning more widely now. "It's her fault I'm still here. I'm just going to go and return the favor." In a few hours, he was going to see her, and there'd be no more waiting. He almost felt sorry for Morgan-- almost, but not quite. He was hardly a saint.
He ran back out of the office with a song in his heart and a bounce in his step. He felt lighter than air, almost as though he could fly. Maybe he *was* crazy, to have made so much out of so little. He'd only kissed this woman once in four years, only seen her a handful of times, but he was ready to give her forever. As long as they could be crazy together, though, he didn't care; he'd dedicate the rest of his life to making her happy.
He got into his truck and headed home. At last. At last.