... ... ...
"That's not what I meant," he told her as soon as the call was answered.
She didn't respond right away but he knew she was still there; he could hear her breathing down the line. He waited. He could give her time. Well, he could give her a little time right now. He had to admit he wasn't doing very well at giving her the other time he had promised her.
When she did speak, her voice was quiet, soft. "You said you need help."
"I said we need you."
Another pause. He imagined her sitting in her latest apartment, recalling that conversation: Because he certainly was.
"I remember," she said eventually. "… She's good."
He allowed her to steer them away momentarily. "She's not you."
He heard a small laugh, but it seemed devoid of any actual amusement. "I'm not me."
"You're close enough." He smiled as he delivered his words, hoping she'd hear it; hoping to ease some of her pain; hoping to remind her how things used to be.
"Nate..." That tone of warning.
And then they were in another silence. This was his second chance at the moment he let pass by. He knew, in London, he knew exactly what he needed to say. Much as he knew now. And much as he had known when he picked up the phone to make this call.
"Sophie," he said, softly, "I need you."
He preempted her argument, cutting her off. "Whoever you are, whoever you turn out to be. Soph, I have seen you as various different women and I love you all. I understand that you want to find yourself, but please do that here. There is no one you could be who I wouldn't love. Let me support you with this."
She didn't respond so he continued.
"Please? I miss you. Surely you miss me."
Her voice was heavy with emotion when she replied, he could practically hear the tears in her eyes. "You think a lot of yourself."
"Wishful thinking... Sophie, come home."
"I need a break, Nate."
"Have it here. Tara can work with us."
"Then I might as well stay here."
"But then you can't see me whenever you want to."
"Oh yes, of course."
She was silent again and Nate couldn't help but feel that he was failing to get his point across.
"Sophie, what happens if we don't fit into the life you find?" No, that was evasion again. "No, not - ... Me. What happens if I don't fit?"
"I'm not looking for a life without you in it."
"But if I'm not with you, you might find one."
"I don't want to lose you," he whispered, terrified that she still seemed to be resisting.
She sounded so sure of that; he wanted to believe her.
"You won't, Nate. I'll be back."
This time her laugh did have some levity to it. "Soon... Sooner than if you hadn't called."
"I shouldn't have let you walk away."
"I don't think our first kiss should be in a cemetery."
Nate smiled at her choice of tense; the certainty that there would be a first kiss. "Where should it be?"
"What about the airport? I'll let you know when."
His smile widened. "Okay. But I'm holding you to 'soon'."
"And you should know that I understand 'soon' to mean 'within a week'."
She didn't say anything else so Nate reluctantly accepted that he wasn't going to get any more of a promise, or a return date, out of her. "I'll let you get back to your break."
"Thanks... Say hi to the others for me."
"I will... Take care, Soph."
He was just thinking she had gone when she added three words that brought a grin to Nate's lips:
"See you soon."