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Hard to Let Go

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"So. Walker and Larkin, back together again."

Almost identical to the words you spoke to her a few minutes earlier, although this time there's a touch of desperation in your tone. Sarah didn't respond then and she doesn't respond now. At least, not with words. But she has both hands in the pockets of her jeans and she won't look at you. Her expression is troubled and you know something is eating at her, just as you suspect what that something is. It's not the first time you've seen that look on her face, the one that says she has to make a decision she doesn't want to make, wishes she didn't have to make. It's not even the first time you've put her in a position to make such unwanted decisions.

You force a smile you don't feel, throttling back that trace of desperation, the knowledge that you're not the one who breached her defenses, and you push at her again. "We've always made a great team, haven't we?"

She still won't look at you; instead she turns back to the closed-circuit monitors, takes her hands from her pockets, and starts tapping away at a keyboard. "Yeah, Bryce, we did," she says and your heart sinks. You wanted her to admit out loud that you and she were good together, and admit it she did. It's just that you were hoping that it wouldn't be so casually past tense.

Everything about her, the set of her shoulders, the line of her jaw, the dispassionate tone of her voice tells you that it's over between you, nothing left but a professional relationship. But you can't let it go, like poking compulsively at a loose tooth with the tip of your tongue. "I bet it'll be a relief, working with someone who knows what he's doing." Her shoulders stiffen as her fingers pause briefly, but then she merely shrugs and, because you're suddenly feeling like a bastard, you continue, "Not that Chuck isn't a quick study."

Her phone rings and she stops what she's doing to look at the screen. "I'm sorry, Bryce. I have to go." She smiles, her mind clearly somewhere else. "That was my reminder to get ready for Ellie's wedding. I'm one of her bridesmaids, so I can't be late." This time her smile is real, it lights up her face, but it isn't for you. You're pretty sure it isn't for Ellie Bartowski, either.

As she walks up the stairs without a backward glance, you realize that you've lost her, that her decision is made, even if Sarah hasn't yet admitted it to herself.

But it's hard to let her go.