"I think you're wrong. I think we can be different."
Her smile is like a sun, coming out over all Seattle, drying up ponds and laying them bare. Islands connected to the mainland.
Having set fire to their history and scared her away, Stephen only wants to make amends. He invented his own sobriety, its definition and its requirements; it works for him but it works if you work it, so he's come to apologize.
"I should have told you about my past. You're a step up for me, and I'm a step down for you. Five steps down, for you. I just wanted you to see the good stuff."
Caroline can't laugh, although she wants to: "That is what I see."
For a moment he can see his fears through his eyes: The story doesn't simply end when you shout, yell, scare her. She's stronger than that. It's her call. The fears are small, from her end of the telescope; just more of the hassles of teaching him love.
"We had a fight. It happens."
He can't believe it, comprehend it. For every chaotic narrative death introduces, it's nothing compared to the open spaces of love. He showed her his worst face and she stepped out of the way. It happens. The adrenaline rush of this comfort, you can hear everything and see everything as it's happening: Becker looking into Ray's eyes, and handing him a world of compassion. Grace out of nowhere. Love out of nowhere.
Stephen was like Sarah Linden: A wild thing, always running. But that's just another way of tying a bow around the story, prematurely: To say someone -- yourself -- is irredeemable, or unlovable, or too wild to be tamed.
The trick of getting back is understanding: Nobody is an animal.
"Don't get too comfortable here," Becker says. Those eyes of Evan Henderson, looking back at him, still trying to understand the depths of him. "I spent half my life in this place. Just as much a prisoner as the rest of them."
It's easy to say, when you're the one ordering their days and nights; it's also true. Jail is a virus passed down through generations. He wanted so much, so badly, to be a man. He tried to teach Ray Seward, and broke in the process. He tried to teach his son, and made him a killer. But the definition remains; Evan Henderson helped him more than he knows.
And he learned. When Evan holds his son in his arms, he'll think of Becker, and when he counts to five, Becker will be gone.