Actions

Work Header

Forever Is Composed of Nows

Work Text:

Henry knows it’s a dream. He’s known since the moment he walked into the bar and saw James leaning over the counter to whisper something in Lucas’ ear. He’s known since he saw Jo, Molly, and Abigail exchanging furtive glances at the other bar patrons over a round of drinks. Over in the corner, he notices Nora carrying a steady conversation with both Mike and Joanna.

Abe sits across the table that Henry’s sitting at. He’s talking, recounting some old story, but whatever he’s saying doesn’t quite register in Henry’s mind.

As Henry looks around, he’s flooded with an undesirably large number of emotional memories. There are happy moments, of course, that fill him with nostalgia and longing and threaten to bring joyous tears to his eyes. Naturally, they are accompanied by the rest, the ones that cause stabbing pains in his heart and ceaseless headaches. He remembers the sickness and the injury and the long nights. He remembers what it’s like to be caught up in loss.

Some of the patrons stand up to leave. Among them are a few of the people he knows—knew. Abe gives him a rather pointed look and says something that’s lost in the din. Henry can tell what he’s trying to get him to do.

He turns around, looking forlornly at the retreating backs. He very much wants to get up to stop at least one of them. To get up and tell Abigail how much he loves her still, to say that he’s somehow going to make things right. He wants to face Jo and tell her the truth, to open his heart to her. He wants to grab Nora by the arm and tell her that maybe, just maybe, he might want to try making amends.

He does nothing.

***

It’s only natural that Henry wakes up with his heart beating rapidly and the age-old ache lingering in his scar. After he’s taken the time to calm himself down, he looks across the room at the analog clock to check the time before rolling over to check the calendar.

April 7th, he reads. Of course.

He arrives in the kitchen half an hour later, aloofness radiating off of him. Abe’s at the stove, preparing breakfast. Henry can smell the eggs, toast, and bacon.

“I wanted to do something nice for you,” Abe says without explanation. He hands Henry a plate, flipping an egg, cooked sunny side up, onto it. The toast joins it seconds later.

The look Abe gives him is one of poorly masked concern. Henry wants to tell him that he’s fine, but he knows it’s not true. He doesn’t want to lie. Abe doesn’t deserve that kind of disrespect. Instead, he offers his son his most gracious smile.
“It smells absolutely delicious,” he says.

It is delicious, naturally, and Henry tells him as such. Abe takes the chance to gloat good-naturedly, providing a very fine distraction.

Before Henry leaves for work, Abe takes him to the side and pulls him into a warm hug. It’s different than their normal morning hugs. It’s prolonged, warmer, and very, very comforting.

“Thank you,” Henry whispers, and Abe gives him a soft smile.

***

Lucas doesn’t know about Henry’s immortality, or that it’s the anniversary of his death. (In fact, Henry can count the people he’s told on one hand. Nora, the priest he shared a cell with in Southwark, Abigail, and Abe. Adam, he tells himself, doesn’t count.) However, Henry knows Lucas is far from imperceptive. It’s why he isn’t surprised when Lucas appears outside his office door with a bag of donuts and a pile of what he assumes to be graphic novels.

“Hey,” Lucas says meekly when Henry motions for him to open the door.

“Lucas,” Henry replies, setting his pocket watch down on his desk. His voice sounds far more unguarded than he likes.

Lucas sidesteps into the room, eyes cast onto the ground. He lacks surety. “I brought you donuts,” he says, setting the bag down on the desk, “and, um, some of my comics.”

Henry clears his throat, trying to think of what to say. “Oh,” he says at last. “Why?”

Lucas stares pointedly at the wall. “No reason?” he says. The silence drags on for uncomfortably long. “Okay,” Lucas says, breaking. “Alright, so for the past few years I’ve noticed that you’ve been really bummed out on April 7th, which is today, naturally, but you knew that, and, like, it’s none of my business, so you don’t have to tell me anything.” Lucas frowns, having lost his train of thought. It comes to him again, suddenly. “So I wanted to do something about it, and I felt maybe this might be good?”

“Oh,” Henry says again. “Oh. Thank you.” He looks between Lucas and the donut bag on his desk. “Thank you,” he repeats. “I…” He considers for a second telling Lucas about his immortality, about his death, but he dismisses the idea as quickly as it comes. “I appreciate it,” he says, nodding. He lets a small smile slip onto his face. “Tell me more about these graphic novels?”

Lucas brightens considerably, and he sets the stack down onto Henry’s desk, taking one off the top to use as an example.

***

Jo falls in step besides Henry when he’s released from work.

“Hey,” she says, following him into the elevator. “Everything alright in there?”

Henry contemplates an answer. “I’m doing well enough.”

“Something’s up, isn’t it?” Jo asks, leaning forward so she can look Henry straight in the face. “You haven’t been on the top of your game today. It’s nothing to do with the case, is it?”

Henry wants to fake a smile, to tell her that everything’s okay. He wants to, desperately. He doesn’t. “No, it’s not that. I…it’s just the anniversary of…” he trails off, staring at the linoleum flooring.

“Oh, Henry,” Jo says, her voice soft. The door opens just then, and they step out onto the ground floor. She opens her arms, offering Henry a hug. He accepts and she embraces him warmly.

“I know you’re an immensely private person, so I won’t ask, even though my curiosity is killing me,” she continues. She squeezes Henry a bit tighter before releasing him. She looks pensive for a moment before saying, “Let’s go for drinks.”

“What?” Henry asks.

“Drinks,” Jo repeats. “Later tonight, but not too late. Come on, it’ll be fun. We can—” she makes a wide gesture, her face excited and hopeful “—cavort. Make some new memories. It’ll be great.”

Her mood is catching. Henry feels a fond smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, despite himself.

“Whatever happened today,” Jo continues, “it doesn’t have to make that day terrible for the rest of your life.” She blinks. “Unless you think that it might be disrespectful or insensitive in some way,” she adds carefully.

Henry is quick to assure her otherwise. “No,” he says. “It’s not something like that.” He shakes his head and smiles. “I would absolutely love to go out for drinks with you.”

His words put a bit of the excitement back into her. “Meet me at the usual place, then,” she says, “right around eight.” Jo pats Henry on the arm before pulling him back in for a brief hug. “I can’t wait to see you there.”

Henry is left alone in the quickly emptying building. He watches Jo leave, feeling a warmth filling his heart.

He thinks, for a second, that being immortal might actually be worth it, the real reward being the people he met along the way. It sounds a bit ridiculous, cliché even, but he gives himself the moment anyway.

Jo is right, Henry decides. He can use some new memories.