Disclaimer: The characters used in this story belongs to creator Shonda Rhimes, ShondaLand, The Mark Gordon Company and ABC Studios. No copyright infringements intended.


He's trying to decide which brand of cereal to go with, when a mess of curls rushes past him in pursuit of a little boy. He thinks nothing of it until the woman, finally caught up with the child, speaks and he recognizes the voice.

"Violet Turner?"

The woman, still crouched down in front of the child, turns around. It must be four years since the last time he saw her. She looks good. Seeing him, she frowns slightly, as if she's having trouble placing him, and then a flicker of recognition runs across her face and she replies, "Alan?"

She smiles at him, but it's nothing like she used to. Her smile is one of greeting an old friend she hasn't seen in years. "How are you? How's Cami?"

It takes him by surprise how casually she mentions his wife. Ex-wife, he reminds himself. "Gone," he shrugs. "She left me."

"What happened?" Her voice is filled with genuine empathy.

"She wanted kids, and turns out, I couldn't give them to her." He tries to make light of it, but he can't help but feel bitter. Just days after the doctor had delivered them the news, Cami was back with her parents. Two weeks later, she had filed for divorce.

"I'm sorry." The boy, who up until now stood patiently by her side, starts to wander off. "Lucas? Honey? Don't go too far, you hear me?" She sighs.

He detects the frustration in her voice and he can't help but chuckle, remembering well Violet's dislike towards children. "I can't believe someone actually talked you of all people into babysitting."

Her attention completely on the child, she shows no sign of having heard him. "Lucas, no! Put that back. Mommy already told you, we're not getting ice cream!" Sighing, she walks over and picks the boy up.

Returning, she offers him an apologetic smile, "Sorry, I can't seem to take him anywhere these days. You were saying...?"

"That's your son?" Alan fails to mask his surprise.

The smile he receives is warm and maternal and she gazes lovingly at the child in her arms, "Yeah."

"Mama," the boy murmurs and cuddles up to her.

Spotting the ring on her finger and estimating the child's age, he draws a conclusion, "Don't tell me you and Cooper actually..."

This earns him a laugh as she shakes her head, "No, Cooper married Charlotte King last year."

The name sounds familiar and he ponders a bit about it before he recalls where he knows it from, "Wait, ice queen, chief of staff, Charlotte King?"

"What can I say, they're made for each other in a twisted kind of way..," she shrugs, "Besides, she's not that bad. I kind of like her. And Cooper's happy..."

"So are you," Alan points out, trying hard to ignore the knot in his stomach. Four years ago all he needed to do was snap his fingers and Violet would come and be by his side. Now it's like she's looking right through him. He no longer matters.

Before he can ask her about whoever it is that's making her this happy, her phone rings. She shifts the child in her arms, freeing one hand to flip open her cell, checking the caller ID, before holding it to her ear, "Hey, Pete... I put it in the dryer before I left, it should be done in," she checks the watch on her wrist, "two minutes ago... So, crisis averted? ... Good... No, we're still at the store. By the way, you won't believe who I just ran into... You remember Alan? ... No, he's behaving himself, don't worry... Okay, I will... Love you, too."

She closes the cellphone and slips it back into her pocket, "Sorry, just a little crisis at home. My daughter spit up all over her favorite plush animal, so I had to wash it, and she won't go to sleep without it..." She smiles and shakes her head. "It's a vicious circle, what can I say?"

"You're with Pete," Alan states, though it is more like a question. "Pete Wilder?"

She nods. "I am."

"Chasing every young thing in a skirt, Pete?"

Violet cocks her brows at him. "Look who's suddenly the pot calling the kettle black," she laughs, obviously referring to his marriage to Cami, who at the time had barely reached twenty, while he, himself, had been in his mid-forties.

Alan decides to ignore it and instead asks, "So, Pete is...?" He tilts his head towards the child in Violet's arms.

"Lucas' father?" Violet supplies, "He is."

"Shotgun wedding?" He doesn't know why he's trying so hard to provoke her, it just bothers him how little his presence is affecting her. And maybe part of him is jealous of her happiness, considering his own life is in shambles.

She laughs, miraculously unaffected by his words, "Hardly... Pete and I got married two years ago. Lucas turns three next week." The boy proudly holds up three fingers to demonstrate.

"He's a cute kid," Alan acknowledges. "And you mentioned a daughter?"

Violet smiles and nods, "Emma. She had a slight fever this morning, so Pete's staying home with her. I'd show you a picture, but I think Pete stole it from my wallet."

The child in her arms begins to fuss. She shrugs apologetically as she shifts him over to the other arm, "I probably should finish up, here. Lucas doesn't exactly have the world's greatest patience for grocery shopping, but it was nice meeting you, and I hope things work out between you and Cami."

Alan doesn't point out that there's nothing to work out between him and his ex-wife. Instead his gaze follows Violet as she takes her son over to a half-full shopping cart and pushes it in the direction of the produce section. He can't help the sinking feeling in his gut. He always figured Violet would be there, ready and willing, should this thing with Cami (or any other girl for that matter) not work out. Doesn't matter how he pushed her away, how he barely gave her a thought during his marriage, in his mind she remained a last option, his safety net. It didn't even occur to him that she could actually move on, find love and happiness elsewhere.

He never realized he could be too late... until now.


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