It's been two weeks. Two weeks to the day. And now we're here, in our apartment, doing nothing but wait. And I don't even know what we're waiting for. Maybe we're waiting to wake up, maybe we're waiting for something to happen… I don't know. Sarah is standing in front of the windows, staring out onto the streets. Life has been a roller coaster of emotions the past two weeks and we don't know how to handle it. I realize that we're not coping very well. But I don't know what else to do. I'm trying to focus on the paper, but my mind keeps drifting off. There is this nagging feeling in the back of my head that something is wrong with the kids. It suddenly came up a few days ago after we talked to Gabe on the phone. Thank god for phone calls. We've visited them once in two weeks, took them to the park and everything. And we've been calling too. Makes all of us feeling better. But after that last phone call I got a nagging feeling that I can't seem to shake. I haven't mentioned it to Sarah, because if I do, she'll only get more worried. And if there is something that I don't want to happen, it's that.
Sarah turns to me. "Can we go for a walk?"
I look outside. It's snowing, as it should be in early January. God, the New Year started a few days ago, and if it hadn't been for the party at Bud and Harriet's, we would've missed it. Our back yard should be covered in snow, and we should be making a snowman with the kids right now. Get a grip, Rabb, I tell myself. There is no back yard in the apartment, and there are no kids. Taking a deep breath, I nod. "Sure, sweetie. A walk sounds great."
Without another word we get our coats and boots. It's cold outside, but it doesn't seem to bother her. We walk in silence; close together but not touching. Our hands stuffed deep in the pockets of our coats, we take of in the direction of the park. The sight in the park is heartbreaking for the both of us. We should've known this. Of course there would be families with little kids there, building snowmen, sleighing, throwing snow balls at each other… Sarah takes a step closer to me and I silently take her hand to give her as much comfort as I am able to give her right now. As much as I would want to, I can't wrap her in my arms. She doesn't say anything, just looks around, like she's trying to remember everything she's seeing. A little further down the park, there's a pond. Parents are skating with their kids; older kids are trying to teach their younger siblings. We stand there for a while, watching everything that is happening around us. And feeling completely left out. Two weeks ago, this is exactly what we would've done. Take the kids to the park (or better, our back yard) to build snowmen, take them to the park to go ice-skating…Damnit, Hammer, why do you keep reminding yourself of the "What if's" and "What should have been's"? There's no point. They're gone. The family you build in three months no longer exists. Stop it. But I can't. Every kid I look at has Gabe's face. Noa's smile. Sarah wraps herself in my arms and hugs me close. I kiss the top of her hair and we remain standing, completely still.
"Harm?" Sarah pulls back out of my embrace and looks up to me.
I wipe a strand of hair behind her ear. "What is it, honey?"
She plays with the zipper of my jacket. "Do you feel that there is something wrong with the kids, too?"
Yep, I should've mentioned it to her before. She feels the same. "Yeah Sar, I feel it too," I softly tell her.
The tears well up in her eyes. "I don't know what it is. Gabe sounded a bit down on the phone the other day, but he didn't say there was something wrong. I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me because deep down inside I want them back with us… That I was exaggerating…"
Biting my lip, I shake my head. "No, sweetheart. I heard it in his voice too. Even Noa didn't sound like her usual jumpy self on the phone."
Oh heaven. There really is something wrong with the kids. And we can't put our finger on it. Shit! I play the conversation with the kids over in my head again; trying to find something that might ring a bell, but there's nothing. But then something does ring a bell. I heard Shireen crying in the background, when Gabe was on the phone. At first I thought that it was just her usual "I'm hungry" cry, but now I come to think of it… It wasn't like that. And it didn't sound like she needed a diaper change either. Shireen doesn't just cry for no reason. Sarah frowns at me when she sees the worried expression on my face. "What is it?"
"Did you hear Shireen cry in the background the other day?" I ask her, not wanting to worry her too much.
She thinks for a little while. "Yes…"
"Did it sound like she needed a diaper change? Or was she hungry?"
It dawns on her. Her eyes meet mine the minute she realizes what I'm saying. She can't believe it. And honestly, neither can I. We missed every sign. When we went to pick the kids up last week, Gabe looked so relieved that we got there. He literally clung to me. As did Noa. Shireen actually smiled at us. Well, not really, but it sure as hell looked like a smile. Pam said that she hadn't done that before. No, seriously? All the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. And I'm angry. Outraged. What are those people thinking? Those kids deserve to be with someone who is going to love them! They've been with people who have hurt them all their lives already!
Sarah and I stand there looking at each other as the realization really sinks in. Pam and Jeff… The thought alone is enough to make me feel nauseous. Suddenly, things seem to go in slow motion. Sarah pulls out of my arms, steps around me and starts to walk back home. I try to stop her but I can't speak. My legs are leading a life of their own, because against all reason, I start to follow her. What are we going to do? We have absolutely no reason to go get the kids… other than our feeling, that is. Where is the solid proof that there is something wrong with them? "Sarah…"
Sarah has turned into Mac, the determined Marine, and right now, she is on a war path. I already know that I'm not going to talk her out of it, so why I bother to try…. "Sarah, wait." I grab her arm and swirl her around. "What are we going to do?"
For a while, she doesn't answer me. Then she looks up. "We're going to get married, and we're going to get our kids back. Right now."
A slow smile spreads across my face. "Married, huh?"
There is no joke. "It's not as if we don't love each other, Harm." She has a point there. I take her face between my hands and look into her eyes. "True," I admit. "But I always thought that I could've said 'I love you' before we were ever going to make plans."
Her eyes tear up. "I love you, Harm. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you but I want those kids back with us as soon we can get them."
I smile, press a short kiss to her lips and let go. "I love you too, Sarah. So much."
She nods, takes my hand and we run the last couple of blocks back up to the apartment. We're going to get our kids back. And this time, they're going to stay with us.

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