Carrie was curled up on the couch with some work from Titan she wanted to finish. The apartment was quiet and she was completely absorbed in the task at hand. Dammit, things were just not matching up. Carrie grabbed a pencil and was about to erase the number she'd just put down when a mug of tea appeared in front of her. She jumped in surprise. She'd been concentrating so hard that she didn't notice Austin standing in front of her with tea in hand. Carrie smiled at him, and then she stopped a moment and stared up into his face.
She'd felt so distant from him lately: like there was a wide gulf separating them and she didn't know how to cross it. She knew Austin had noticed, and he'd tried his best to help her. He just didn't understand those romantic dinners at Chez Vous and passionate nights weren't doing anything to bring Carrie back. It was almost like they'd been separated so long that they'd forgotten how to be together beyond going through the motions. As Carrie stared up at Austin, she realized that she'd missed him.
She missed his piano playing, his passion for life, and his dedication to her. She remembered when the acid had scarred her, and how Austin had refused to give up on her, no matter how much she pushed him away. She remembered when he'd donated bone marrow to save Abby's life. She remembered that night he'd played the piano and the beautiful music had drifted into her room, connecting their souls together. Then Sami had come along, and they'd been pushed apart until they didn't know how to act around each other anymore. Austin was sweet. He tried hard, but the dinners, the flowers; they all felt hollow and empty to Carrie. She'd started questioning whether she should have married him in the first place, wondering if Marlena, her dad and Mike had all been right about her taking some time before marrying Austin.
All of that washed away as Austin stood with the mug in his hand and Carrie stared up at him. They were mesmerized. The soft scent of the chamomile tea washed over them and everything seemed to stand still. Carrie felt her heart clench in her chest. She tried to say something, but the words wouldn't come out. She took the mug from him, her eyes never leaving his face, and set it down on the coffee table. Austin turned to walk away, his face growing sad, as if her silence was another confirmation of her distance.
"Austin?" Carrie whispered. He turned back to her. Carrie reached up and took his hand in hers and their fingers intertwined. She held it for a minute. It felt right.
"I love you." She said, her voice still soft, tentative and a little questioning. Austin smiled.
"I love you too." Austin bent down and gave her a soft kiss on the lips. "Now, finish your work and I'll start dinner."
Carrie smiled and her heart felt like it would burst. All the distance fell away and Carrie knew one thing with more finality than she had ever known before…she was home.
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