A few days later, Kate looked for Spencer when she got to work. “Hey, Spencer.”
“Hi, how are you doing?” Spencer looked like he was headed out somewhere, since he was spinning his keys on his fingers and had his hat on.
“Fine I guess. Are you free after work?”
“Sure.” Curious, Spencer dropped his keys into the front pocket of his uniform pants.
“Can you come over?”
Spencer thought about giving Kate a hard time, but reconsidered, thinking she’d been through enough lately. He simply asked, “What time?”
“I’ll be there.”
“I’ll have something for dinner.”
Spencer gave her a small smile. “I won’t be late.”
Kate nodded and headed for her cube. Spencer headed out the door, needing to run an errand across the base. He adjusted his hat and walked to his car. He hoped Kate wanted to discuss how she was going to get Sarah home. And he hoped her plans included him. He was more than willing to help Kate as much as she would let him. He tried to keep his heart from thundering in his chest. He knew she had a long way to go before she could think about falling in love with him. He hoped it worked out that way.
Because he was already gone.
Spencer stopped by his place right after work to change out of his uniform, and picked up some iced teas before going over to Kate’s. He had no idea if she had anything besides coffee.
After eating a simple but delicious meal of baked chicken and salad, they cleared the table and Kate loaded the dishwasher, putting away leftovers. During dinner they had skirted the elephant in the room, chatting about work mostly. Buttons waited patiently for little tidbits to come his way, but was sadly disappointed when he didn’t get any. The humans seemed to be too focused on themselves to pay him any attention.
Once dinner was over Spencer and Kate sat back down at the table and Kate got serious. “Spencer, I need your help.” Tears slid down her cheeks and she wiped them away with a napkin. “This is too big for me.”
“I understand, Kate.” Spencer swallowed a lump in his throat. “I’ll help however I can, you know I will.
“Good. How much leave do you have right now?” She toyed with the napkin, putting holes in it.
Spencer put down his ice tea. “Plenty. When do we go?”
“As soon as possible. Sarah’s lost both her parents after all.” Kate wiped her eyes with the napkin before disappearing for a minute. She came back a minute later, with a map in her hand. She studied it for a few minutes and said, “It looks like it’ll take about eight to ten hours as the crow flies to get there.” She tossed the map onto the table and sighed. “We have to pack, get leave approved and buy clothes for a two year old.”
Spencer sat in silence.
“So young not to remember either parent–how sad.” Kate tapped the map with a finger. “I need diapers, clothes, toddler food, a car seat, stroller, bibs–”
“Kate,” Spencer interrupted. “I think they probably have some of that where she’s staying.”
“Right. I need a crib, educational toys, safety gates…” She looked around her apartment and groaned.
“Kate, I think we need to call our First Sergeant. First.”
“That too.” She got up and came back to the table with a notepad and pen. He sat in silence while watching her write furiously. Suddenly she dropped her pen and announced, “I have to move.”
“Move? Why?” Spencer was having a hard time keeping up with her abrupt turns.
“I only have a one bedroom apartment. I can’t sleep with a toddler in my room.” She picked the pen up again and rapidly tapped the tablet with it. “Could my life be any more upside down?”
“Only if you have to deploy,” he offered.
Kate glared at him. “Are you for real?”
“Well, you asked.” Spencer was trying to lighten the mood but was obviously failing.
“It was rhetorical.”
“I know.” He grinned at her, which only made her frown.
“What would I do, if I did have to deploy? Who would watch Sarah?”
“Kate I didn’t mean to—”
“I know you were joking, but what if I did have to go? There’s a likely possibility.” Kate put her head on the table, lightly bouncing it up and down while groaning.
“I would watch her.”
Kate looked at him, surprise on her face. “You? Why? How?”
“Well, because you’re not related to her. She’s not your responsibility, you’re not a daddy. You’re not–”
“I didn’t say that.” Kate looked down at the floor. She knew she wasn’t the least bit qualified, but now motherhood had suddenly been thrust on her and by George, she was going to give it her all.
“In every other way, you did. But yes, I would do it. With pleasure. I have a few nieces, but no, I’m not a daddy.” Not yet.
“Spencer, are you serious?” Kate looked at him like he just landed from Mars.
“Of course! John was my friend too, you know.”
Kate sighed. “I know. Sometimes I forget. Sorry.” She rubbed her temples, thinking about how her life had changed so drastically in such a short time. “Well, that’s a relief. I only have a few million things to do.” She sat for several minutes, her pen flicking the notepad again. She knew she needed help with this one. How on earth would she cope? Her boyfriend was dead and she was going to be his daughter’s stepmother. She knew she had to swallow her pride. She would definitely need Spencer’s help. And probably a lot of other people’s.
Until next time,