Nick stood in the airplane terminal. He looked up at the departure schedule and then knelt down in front of his four-year old son: the most important person in his world. Tommy Bennette didn’t understand the situation at all; why his daddy was leaving. Tommy’s auburn hair glistened as the sunlight beamed through the long glass windows, the rays dancing on each strand. His little freckles peppered his face as he frowned.
“You will have to come see me in Ohio, sport,” Nick said as he smiled.
“When can I come, daddy?” he asked.
Nick looked up at Jillian, Tommy’s mother and Nick’s ex-fiancé. She smiled.
“As soon as I get settled in,” Nick continued, “I’ll make sure you get to see me. It won’t be the same though. Not like now.”
Tommy nodded. He stood without speaking for a moment and looked up fervently into Nick’s eyes. “I’ll miss you, daddy.”
Nick’s heart broke inside his chest. “Oh, God, I’ll miss you too, little man.” He scooped Tommy up into his arms and fought back tears. “You be good for your mom.”
He had never been away from his son. Since his birth four years ago, he had been there for Tommy on a daily basis. Nick couldn’t even image not being able to see him every day. It was a reality that made him sick.
Gently, he put Tommy’s feet back on the ground and then threw his duffel bag over his shoulder. Wiping tears from his cheeks, he turned his attention toward Jillian, thousands of questions dancing in his mind.
“I will make sure he gets to see you as much as I can,” she encouraged. “This is a great opportunity for you, Nick.”
“I know, but at what cost? Is it worth it?”
“Listen, as soon as I can, I’ll start researching some firms there. If everything works out, maybe we’ll move there. I don’t have any family here. I know you and I haven’t always agreed about things or seen eye to eye, but you are the only family I have. There’s no reason for me to stick around this town,” she sighed.
“Not seeing him…” he began as his eyes stung.
“I know. It’s going to be alright though. This is a big promotion with big benefits. You’ve been waiting so long for this.”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“You deserve this, Nick. You’ve worked really hard.”
“So when is the van supposed to be there with your stuff?” Jillian said, trying to change the subject.
“They should be arriving tomorrow morning,” he answered, hopeful that he would have his bed to sleep on soon.
“Well, stay safe. You’re going to miss your flight if you don’t get moving.”
He nodded again. “Thanks, Jill. Please keep in touch.”
“I will, Nick.”
One more time, Tommy and Nick embraced. It tortured Nick as he left his only reason for existing behind. As good as the promotion would be, the tearing feeling inside of his body couldn’t be ignored. He knew being offered the director’s job was the FBI’s way of honoring his hard work and military service. He had to look at the situation that way for his own sanity.