I did say that one of us was going to get send out of town, didn't I? I did. And one of us got send out of town. TAD out of town. Meaning that Sarah will be gone for a few weeks. And now that the time has finally come, I'm scared to death and dreading the moment she's actually going to leave. I softly close the door of her office behind me and Sarah looks up when I do so. Her lips pull into a soft and careful smile. "Hey." She folds her hands on the desk in front of her.
We don't say anything else as I sink into a chair. Sarah's biting her lip. She doesn't want to go. Shireen hasn't been feeling all too good the past couple of days; she's been clingy and she cries more than she usually does. Our baby girl has grown in the past three months; she's eight months old now. She's impatient, wants to sit; if she has her own fork she'll end up having more food over her own head and bib than in her stomach… She's our sunshine. So Sarah and I both can't stand to see her like this.
"Are you going to be okay?"
I nod. "We'll be fine."
"That's not what I meant, Harm."
She means if I am going to be okay. I know that. Just trying to see if I could avoid an actual answer to that question. I guess not. "I'll manage, Sar. It'll be tough the first couple of days, but I'll find a way to manage."
Sarah lets her breath out. "I hate to go now that Reen isn't feeling well."
"That's it about the call of duty. Always comes when you can't use it." I give her a small smile. "It'll be fine. You'll be back home before you know it."
We both know that's not really the case, but it's all I can say right now. We're going to miss each other like crazy. I'll be sleep deprived for as long as she'll be gone. Especially if Reen really gets sick. God, I hope not. Maybe all of this will be over within a few days.
"What are you going to do about Moreno?"
Moreno visited again, although he still has a restraining order. His threats have become more frequent now, and although Sarah and I try not to let it affect us, it does. We're concerned. If he really tries something… We're being extra careful but with a guy like him you just don't know what will happen.
I shrug. "I have the law on my side, Sar. I'll find a way to manage it."
"Like you're going to handle things at home." She eyes me. God, she knows me better than I know myself.
"I guess," I admit. I already hate the fact that I have to do it without her the coming undefined period of time. We're not used to it. But that's the thing with being in the military… They get to pack you up and move you every time they damn well please. Then something suddenly hits me. "Noa's birthday…"
Sarah presses her lips together. "It's another month away, thankfully. I should be back in time for her birthday."
We both know that she's making some sort of promise she may very well not be able to keep, but we both need to hear that she'll be back in time for Noa's birthday. We got this whole party planned around it. Took us days and hours of brain storming, but it should be a lot of fun. Her first real birthday party… When I lift my eyes up to hers, we smile. Our family. Gabe has made amazing progress in the past three months. When he realized that they were really going to stay at home, that the big guys had decided that it was okay, he's become this mini version of me. After school he's either drawing or playing outside with his friends. And now the weather is getting better, he's been playing with some guys from his school in the playground just outside our house. With Emma supervising of course. Just the other day, I found him lying on his back in the grass, staring up at the sky. The little guy is too smart for his own age; he'd figured that getting a blanket to lie on was better than the cold ground. I haven't met a five-year-old who figured that our, before Gabe. When I asked him what he was doing, he said that he was just looking. I wanted to know at what.

"What you're looking at?"

Gabe shrugs as I sit down next to him on the blanket. "The sky."

"The sky?" Okay. I did this. Stare at the sky. As for as I can remember, anyway. "What are you looking at the sky for?" I ask as I sink next to him on the blanket.

Gabe doesn't answer. He keeps staring at the sky. "Daddy?"

"Yes, sport?"

"Why is the sky blue?"

Oh oh. How am I going to answer that? What did Dad tell me when I asked that? "Um… why do you think the sky is blue?"

He shrugs. "Maybe because God likes the color blue?"

I start to smile. That's a good enough answer, I guess. "I think that's a logical explanation. Because God likes the color blue."

He turns his head to me. "My real Mommy liked the color blue."

Wow. That's the first time he actually talks about his mother. Honestly, I have no idea what happened to Nadine after she left the hospital after Shireen's birth. But it's a breakthrough he starts to talk about his parents. "She did? How do you know?"

His lips pull into a little smile. "She said that. One time. After she read us a story."

So Nadine did read them stories. That's a surprise. "Did your Mom do other things with you?"

Gabe shakes his head. "No. Mommy didn't do the things you and Mommy do now."

I stroke over his head. "Did your Dad hit your Mom too?"

At that, he nods. "Yeah. And he'd come to Noa and me when he was done." The tears form in his eyes and I pull him into my lap when he softly starts to cry. Crying is good. In Gabe's case, it's very good.

"Oh, sport…" One thing is sure though. The healing has begun.

Sarah and I are still looking at each other. "How are we going to explain this to the kids?" she asks.
I lick my lips. "I don't know. We're going to have to, somehow."
That night, after dinner, we gather the kids. Sit with them on the couch and explain that Sarah has to go away for a little while. "But, why?" Gabe wants to know. "Why do you have to go?"
"Well… because they need someone over there. And my boss thinks that I'm the person who can handle it the best, so that's why he asked me to go."
Gabe nods. "Are you going to be long?"
She shrugs. "I don't know. I hope not."
Again, Gabe nods. "Can't your boss send someone else?" He slides off the couch and climbs into her lap.
Sarah pulls him close. "I'm afraid not, honey. He really wants me to go."
Gabe looks up to her. "I'm gonna miss you, Mommy."
"Me, too, baby. I'm going to miss you, too." Sarah hugs him close. Gabe is not the only one who is going to miss her. Although Noa is a little small, she's going to miss her Mom too. And Shireen will know that Sarah isn't around.
Like I will know. Our eyes lock over Gabe's head and we both see the same thing in each other's eyes. We both hope that this TAD will be over soon.

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