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December 29th: If I Didn't Have You

 
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Jackie Sullivan
The Hillbilly Belle
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 10 Nov 2011
Posts: 912
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:37 am    Post subject: December 29th: If I Didn't Have You Reply with quote

After telling Ben that she was more than happy to have breakfast with him and Adam the next morning, she took care in not going too overboard with drinking for the rest of the night. Hayley and Jackie still ended up at the Busted Knuckle and danced the night away on the bartop, but Jackie didn't wake up the next day in a snow drift. That was the definition of a reserved evening.

The next day she was up and at 'em leaving Hayley to sleep it off in the guest bedroom. It didn't take her long to get ready, an even shorter trip to get to Ben's. But it was in the parking lot where she lingered. This was different. This wasn't just hanging out with Ben or making sure Adam was okay. She'd known about Adam since her first night meeting Ben, but now they were going to have to actually sit and function together in some capacity.

The thing Hayley had said the night before weren't helping her worries much either. Adam was twelve, going on being a teenager. Would he like her? Would he like the idea of Jackie being with his Dad? Would he feel Jackie was trying to replace Ella? It was with her stomach twisted into knots that Jackie dragged herself out of the truck, to Ben's door, and after a long pause rapped her knuckles against it.

Ben wasn't in a much different place than Jackie. His night had been a lot more subdued, of course -- just watching hockey with Adam, and a late night run to get ice cream -- but similar things had been on his mind. How was this going to work, the three of them? It would work, wouldn't it? Adam and Ben hadn't really talked about Jackie, other than Ben asking if it was alright that she come over for breakfast. They had to at some point, didn't they? Or could it go on unsaid?

There's a pause before the door opens, and it's actually Adam standing on the other side of the door. He gives Jackie a shy little smile, a quiet, "Hi, Jackie," and then he steps back from the door, lingering sort of awkwardly there in the entryway to wait for her to put her coat away before traipsing off to the kitchen with her. Something is sizzling away in the kitchen, too, and Ben's in there tending to it all -- bacon and hashbrowns are done, scrambled eggs and pancakes still cooking. "Hey, good morning," over his shoulder to Jackie, that usual crooked little grin in place. "Not too hungover to eat, right?" Teasing.

She's staring straight ahead when the door opens, but her gaze sinks quick enough to take Adam in. A wide smile curled across her lips in response to his shy one. "Good mornin', Adam." She followed in along after him and once the door was shut behind her she allowed a large red zipped tote bag to sink to the floor. Then she was shrugging off her fur lined leather jacket to hang in the closet beside him. Beneath that was a simple enough grey sweater to top off dark denim and brown boots. She's following along after Adam, tense but smiling just a little easier. At least he didn't roll his eyes at her or anything. She's coming to a slow halt near the entrance of the kitchen, brows rising at the spread in the works. "Good mornin'." Her attention lifted to Ben, returning the grin. "I don't get hungover, remember? That's fer beginners." Her gaze lifted innocently. "I also might have made sure t' keep m'self in check throughout the night when I knew I was comin' over." Hands clapped and rubbed together. "Anything I can help y'all with?"

"Nah, it's all just about ready. You had an alright night?" Ben starts to split the rest of the finished food between the three plates he'd already set out on the counter; it doesn't take long to dole everything out. Adam grabs his own plate and heads into the other room -- the table in there actually has leaves that fold up on either end, so there's more than enough room for the three of them there. Ben's lingering in the kitchen a minute, pretending like he's double checking that the burners are off, but really it's so he can lean in close to Jackie and press a kiss to her cheek. "You got time to talk for a minute after we eat?" Quiet, and he's already handing a plateful of food to her and grabbing the last for himself, though he doesn't head over to the other room and the table until she answers.

"Oh yeah, Hayley an' I had a real good time. Come to find out, I offered up that idea of yers to her an' she was more than willin' to talk it over." She smiles to Adam in passing, watching him wander off for the table, her gaze lingering after him. But it's the press of a kiss to her cheek that's drawing her back to Ben, her gaze flickering up at him with a soft smile. The plate was taken, accompanied by a nod. "Absolutely. Long as y' need." Her reply just as hushed. When she's sure Ben's got his plate in hand she's following the same path Adam took to the table. "Everythin' looks delicious, Ben. Y' did a good job." Easing into a seat the plate is set down in front of her. "Did y' help out with this, Adam? It looks real good." Smiling aside at him.

"Really?" Brief surprise about Hayley agreeing so quickly, but it fades quickly into a lazy little grin. When Jackie says she's got time to talk, he touches her lightly on the back of the arm. "Thanks, sweets." Following after her, taking a seat too. "Wait to compliment me until after you try it." He's teasing though, again -- he's a good cook, and Jackie knows that already. He quiets, just starting to eat, mildly interested in the interaction between Adam and Jackie -- and when Adam just shrugs, pushing around some food on his plate with his fork, Ben gives him a warning (and sort of amused) little, "Adam," and nudges his son's shin under the table with his foot. Adam sighs a little, shoots Ben an annoyed look, but when he glances over at Jackie, he's smiling at her, just a little. "Yeah, I did, a little. You really think it looks good?"

"People eat with their eyes first, y'know." Offering up to Ben at his brief protest. Her gaze shifts back to Adam, not quite sure how to take the shrug. Should she leave him be? At Ben's warning Jackie's glancing his way with a slow blink. Woah, Dad voice. She hadn't heard him use that before. Which makes sense considering she hadn't been in the same room with the pair for very long so far. How did he manage to make her feel like she was in trouble? Brown eyes shift over to Adam and she's smiling softly in return. "I really think it looks good. I'm really not the type to say anything unless I honestly mean it." She's poking at her food before bringing a bite of eggs to her mouth. After chewing and swallowing she's giving a grin. "An' it tastes as good as it looks. What parts didja help with?"

Ben keeps quiet, just idly watching the two while he eats. Jackie could handle herself just fine on her own, right? Adam seems to believe Jackie when she says that she only says things if she means it, because after the compliment, he's smiling a little wider. "Pancake batter. And grating potatoes for hash browns. I wanted to do the bacon, but Dad wouldn't let me." Ben leans across the table a little toward Adam. "I told you, bacon is an art." Serious face, and he's reaching over to put a hand on Adam's shoulder. "When you're older, you'll be more prepared." Adam just rolls his eyes for Ben's goofing off and finally starts eating; Ben looks amused by that though, and lets him be. "He's good help in the kitchen. Good at dishes too," and he's totally ignoring Adam's groaning protest, just grinning at Jackie.

"Is that right?" Automatically Jackie is cutting into her pancake and taking a thoughtful bite of it. She's squinting at Adam very seriously the entire time, making quite the show of chewing and swallowing. Once she's done she's back to smiling wide. "That is a mighty fine pancake, Adam. Y'did good. An' y'know, my Mama is the best cook there is in the South, so I'm pretty picky when it comes to food." Her expression is pure amusement while watching the banter between Ben and Adam. "He don't let me cook the bacon either." Sympathetically to Adam with a chuckle. Then she's giving an outright laugh at Ben's comment about dishes and Adam's groan in response. "Well, it is fair since yer Daddy did a lot of the cookin' this morning." Aside to Adam. "One of these days we'll cook up somethin' real good for dinner an' we'll make him do the dishes. Maybe burgers?" Smiling as she takes in another bite of pancakes.

Adam is pretending like he's not paying attention when Jackie tries her pancake, but he's smiling, boyish, a little bashful, when Jackie compliments it. Ben sighs when Jackie comments about his control freak tendencies in the kitchen, but he's smiling too. "See, that's what I told him too, about cleaning up since I did a lot of the cooking. I think that's a great idea though. I'll do dishes if you two cook. What do you say, kiddo?" Maybe surprisingly, Adam isn't annoyed by the team of endearment, but he is back to pushing food around on his plate, eyes focused there. First he just shrugs, but then he's looking over to Jackie, smiling, shy again. "Okay, sure."

Ben's sigh got a lift of her brows in response. Something that said tell me I'm wrong. He couldn't. She continues digging into her breakfast, swallowing so she can pipe in. "Well, no one likes doin' the dishes ever, but fair is fair." Jackie's attention shifted aside to Adam when Ben asked if he was interested in that trade, making burgers to get out of dishes duty. Those shrugs! What do they mean? Is that how kids communicate these days? She always remembered her and her brothers being a lot louder. But when he finally confirms she's bobbing her head in a nod. "Hell yeah." Pause, lips pressed together in a thin line. "I mean, that sounds real good." Thankfully it wasn't the worst bomb that Jackie could drop, but she had to be aware of that. "Maybe you can help me pick out the sides to go 'long with it, too, Adam? I can probably cook anythin' your like. If not, I'll figure it out."

Ben knows he should probably be bothered by Jackie's little slip there, but he's not great at watching his own mouth around Adam, so he lets it go without any reaction. Adam doesn't really react to it either -- other than his smile getting a little easier, more relaxed, maybe just because Jackie seems enthusiastic more than anything else. "Okay. I'll think about it." Ben's watching the two of them again -- relieved, really. Not that he thought there'd be a serious blow up just during breakfast, but it was going better than he'd anticipated. He's just about finished with what's on his plate, so he puts his fork down and tips his chair back just a little. "Either of you want any more?" Adam thinks that over for a moment, and then he shakes his head.

When no one really seemed to bat a lash at her flub Jackie was relaxing a little more, too. "Sounds good, Adam." She's popping a few more bites of eggs into her mouth before Ben's asking if they want any more. She shakes her head and sets her fork down, swallowing down her last bite. "I'm stuffed. Y'all did an amazin' job an' it really hit the spot." Her gaze drifts between Adam and Ben before she's leaning in towards Adam. "Hey, 'member how y'told me y'like vampire movies? Well, I jus' so happen to have a few real good ones I brought over in that bag I had. Thing is, I always got a hard time settin' up the DVD player. You any good with settin' those things up? Maybe you could give it a look after the dishes. If y' want, of course." Jackie didn't know much about kids, but she did realize that they all were far too technologically advanced for their own good.

Adam's obviously excited when Jackie tells him what she'd brought. "Really?" Grinning ear to ear. "Yeah, I can set it up. Thanks, Jackie." Ben can't suppress the little smile as he watches them, but he realizes that that's alright. He's allowed to be happy about this. "After dishes. Quicker you do them, the sooner we can watch something." Adam's excitement only dims a little bit when he's reminded of his chore, but he stacks up the plates and silverware and takes them all to the kitchen without any complaining. A few seconds after he disappears into the kitchen, there's the sound of water running in the sink, and Ben relaxes, reaching over for Jackie's hand. "That was a good idea, asking to make dinner with him."

"No problem, Adam. Thank you for settin' it up. Too many cords." She's wiggling her fingers around midair. The truth of the matter was that Jackie wasn't lying in an attempt to give Adam something to do or make him feel good about helping. DVD players had way too many inputs, outputs, and all that nonsense. Her smile stays in place while Ben reminds Adam of his dishes. There's a light nod when he takes her plate and silverware. "Thank y'." Her gaze lingers at the spot where Adam disappeared to into the kitchen, but Ben's hand on hers brings her attention back to him and she's grinning sheepishly in return. "I guess I wasn't really thinkin' about it bein' a good idea or the right thing. Doin' dishes sucks." Chuckles. "But he seemed like he was real excited 'bout it, didn't he?" It was impossible for Jackie to hide the delight in her expression. She paused thoughtfully. "I am, too. I think it'll be fun."

Laughing quietly when she says she wasn't really thinking about her suggestion being a good idea, and he's still smiling, and only a little crookedly, when he responds. "He does seem excited about it. It will be fun, definitely." Tugging a little on her hand, he's getting up to his feet. Heading in the direction of the coat closet and pulling Jackie along with him, he actually does grab his coat out of it before letting go of her hand. "Hey, Adam?" Ben ducks into the kitchen to wordlessly show Adam the pack of cigarettes he'd pulled from his coat pocket; Adam makes a face and goes back to doing dishes. Ben's waiting for Jackie to get her coat on too, and then he's opening up the door for her so she can step out of the apartment first, though he follows her right away, shutting the door behind him. "I got ahold of Ella." Tapping out a cigarette and fishing the lighter out of the half-empty pack, he lights up and takes a deep drag from it before they even make it outside, tucking the lighter back into the softpack and slipping that back into his coat pocket. "I don't know what happened when ... you know," hesitant to refer to his blackouts too directly, it seems, "but whatever it was, she said she's fine with him staying here. And I mean ... indefinitely."

Her proud smile that she did something so good is lingering when she follows his tug to rise to her feet. Once she's released she's following Ben's lead to pull her jacket from the closet and slide it on. She watches the silent exchange between Ben and Adam with a faint smirk then she's stepping outside, a nod of thanks to Ben for holding the door for her.

Once outside she's turning up her collar and shoving her hands deep within the pockets of her coat. She's so focused on being warm, but it's Ben's first statement that brings her to a screeching halt and blinking up at him. She only gets briefly sidetracked when he tucks the cigarette within his mouth. There's something thoughtful in her expression before browns are flickering up to his bright blues. "Indefinitely." Repeating the word with a blink. "I... I can't believe she's alright with it. I mean, it's wonderful an' it means she can focus on her, but..." There's a shake of her head. She hadn't expected Ella to agree so easily. But that brought around a whole new round of issues. Jackie's once again squinting at Ben. "So, he's stayin' here for the long haul. I mean... wow. That's... there's a lot that goes along with that."

His movements pause for a couple of seconds when she meets his eyes, but when she goes on and responds, he's glancing away. She's seen Ben anxious before, but even then, he's usually pretty grounded; it's sort of a different energy around him today, where it almost seems like he's interested in the cigarette more for some kind of repetetive, mindless motion than anything else. "Yeah, it..." Trailing off, sort of thoughtful, and he huffs out a lungful of smoke after scissoring his cigarette between two fingers, ashing it with an automatic flick of his thumb against the filter. "She needs the time. She really does. And I'm fine with Adam being here. --not just fine. I'm happy that he's here; I want him to be here," a little quickly, concerned he's given her the wrong impression. "But ... yeah, there's a lot that goes along with that. Like ... school. I have no idea how that works here. And I don't know how I'm going to manage working late nights when I need to. And I'm going to need to find a bigger place, a two bedroom or something." Another drag, an exhale, and this time when he ashes the cigarette, he's biting down on his lower lip, uncharacteristically (at least, uncharacteristic when talking with Jackie) avoidant of looking at her.

It's a lot to take in all at once, but she's realizing very quickly that Ben is fully aware of this. She's understands too late that her telling him there's a lot to think about probably wasn't needed or wanted. Her hands are lifting, palms out, an attempt at a calming gesture since she's assuming he won't look at her because he's so overwhelmed and hates coming off this way. "Ella will get her time. She's somewhere safe where she can get help, it's a good thing. An' it's great that Adam is here. Y'all been apart for months now an' this is yer chance for catchin' up. Y' wanted him since the first night I met y', I know, an' now here he is." Her hands were lowered and stuffed back in her pockets, brows knitting together firmly. "Everyone else functions in this town jus' fine. It's possible. We jus' gotta... figure it out. Like school? Well, I know there are girls at work who got kids. I'd been happy t' pick their brains fer y' an' get some information." She's rocking forward and backward on the balls of her feet, either cold or antsy. It was hard to tell. "I can pitch in on watchin' im if need be. I don't think he hates me, so maybe he would be okay with that? An' I'll give y' the name an' number to my girl who set me up rentin' my house. See? Look, y' jus' lay out a problem and there's gonna be an easy enough solution to solve it. You got this, Ben." Really it was all easier said than done, but he seemed like he could use a massive peptalk right now and she was willing to oblige.

He seems to calm some when Jackie's reassuring him that she didn't misunderstand -- not that he really thought that she had, but it was nice to hear it from somebody else. That Ella was getting the help she needed. That she knows he's wanted Adam here with him for as long as she's known him. Still, even calmer, he's not any less avoidant, not even when she gives him all those solutions. He'd been working on his cigarette the whole while, and he's finishing it off right about the time she's quieting; he drops the spent filter onto the ground, crushes it out under his boot. "I know. That's not... Those aren't really the difficult things." Even though there's nobody else in sight outside, he's still on the quiet side. Tucking his hands into his coat pockets, leaning up against the wall of the apartment building, he's finally looking over at her. "I could probably handle all of this no problem. But what happens when I'm not me, Jackie?" Immediately after the words leave him, he's biting down on his lower lip again and his brows draw together; he looks a little pained.

Jackie's attention sinks to the ground along with the finished cigarette, lingering there even when it's stepped on and crushed out. Maybe if her face was sunk lower it would be harder to seen the obvious frown that settled on her lips when he laid out the real problem in Adam living with Ben. It had come to mind for Jackie previously, but it seemed almost cruel to voice it or even think about it too long. The fact that while Adam was more than safe with Ben, it was the rest of the boys she wasn't too sure of. Brown eyes lift to Ben's face again, the pained expression not making what she has to say any easier. "Well, y'worked real hard before to get them boys under control. I know it sorta fell apart, but y'can keep at it. Until then..." She's tucking her face further into the collar of her jacket. It might appear she's trying to gain more warmth, but really it was closer to a turtle pulling back into its shell for protection. "The three of us will hang out a lot. That ain't so bad. It's sorta what we want anyway, right? And y'can get him a cellphone. Maybe jus'... explain to him that if somethin' doesn't seem right with y' that he can call me immediately, anytime." She was still tucked within her jacket, not sure how Ben was going to take being told he might need to be supervised with his child. That Adam needed to have an emergency contact if the pair were alone and things went awry.
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Jackie Sullivan
The Hillbilly Belle
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 10 Nov 2011
Posts: 912
See this user's pet
Jobs: Cook, Barmaid
Can Be Found: Ramblin' through RhyDin
0.00 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So often, Ben doesn't quite look his age -- or his age doesn't look bad on him, anyway. Now, though, it looks worse; he looks so tired, worn out. He's still worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, and he's quiet for a moment, thinking over what she's suggested. Clearly he's conflicted -- doesn't want to admit that she's got a point, and that it's a good suggestion, but he knows in his heart that she's right, that he needs that kind of supervision. Eventually he looks away, sighing heavily, scrubbing a hand over his face. "That's probably a good idea." Voice a little tight. "Would you be okay with that? --wait," and he's looking at her again, expression suddenly a lot less distraught. Found a silver lining? "Is that what you want? The three of us to..." Gesturing meaninglessly with his hand before shoving it back into his coat pocket. "Hang out a lot?"

The longer the quiet looms between them, the heavier the knot in her chest seems to feel. Was he upset what she suggested it? Should she have kept her mouth closed and gave a shrug so he could piece something together on his own? But when he's agreeing it's a good idea she's giving her own heavy sigh, pure relief, and allowing her shoulders to sink. "I wouldn't have suggest-" She's cut off and confused, brows furrowing together tightly because she's not sure what has sunk in on him. His questions cause the tension in her features to ease away, though it's replaced with honest confusion. "Well, yeah. I mean, if that's alright with you an' especially Adam." Her shoulders roll and hands are pulled from her pockets, apparently there was so much to what she wanted to say that she needed to be able to freely gesture about for assistance to explain her point. "I ain't never been with someone who has had a kid, Ben. Plain an' simple, but if that was gonna be a dealbreaker between us then I never would have texted y' from the git. Obviously, I didn't know what was gonna happen between us, but I knew y' havin' a kid came as a package deal. Well, he's here now. That don't make me wanna see y' any less, but I ain't gonna get between a son an' his Daddy. So..." She finally seemed to remember what breathing was and did just that before finishing. "If Adam is okay with me bein' around, then yeah, I would like t' be. The three of us. So long as I'm not in the way. An' I don't want him thinkin' I'm tryin' to replace his Mama. No one can replace a kid's Mama. I jus'... wanna be there for him when he needs it."

"You're not going to be in the way, sweetheart." His expression softens then, and he reaches over to take one of her hands in his. "It's going to take adjustment -- for all three of us, not just for him, or for you -- but you aren't in the way." Giving her hand a little tug, but it's idle, more just to burn off energy it seems, than to really pull her toward him. "We've just never really talked about it, right? It seemed so far off that it... I don't know, it almost didn't seem like there was a point, to talk about these kinds of things with you." It was a little sad, maybe, to be admitting that -- but considering it hadn't turned out that way after all, it didn't really seem to affect him much. "So, I'm... I'm really happy that you want to..." Be a part of their family here? "To spend time with us."

A quick glance aside, then away, and then he's turning to face her, reaching to take both her hands then. "I don't want to make you responsible for him if you don't want to be -- you know, if you aren't ready for that kind of thing. But if you're really willing to be there for him, when he needs it..." They both knew what he was getting at there, didn't they? "There's nobody else I know that would be better to be there for him than you."

The sporadic movement of her hand stills when he takes it in his. She can't completely banish the worry that has worked its way into her features, wondering how and if this all could actually work. "I know. I mean, I didn't even think you comin' for the holidays was gonna be possible for years so we never talked about it much, but there it was. We keep... maybe we keep puttin' things off like we figure we got all the time in the world, which we sorta do, but then they sneak up on us and blindside us." She chewed at her lips as she went. "I figured you were gonna go see Adam. There was barely a doubt in my mind, but I never imagined him endin' up here like this. I guess it was a lesson." Her gaze dipped aside briefly, something weighing on her for a moment before she was forcing out another soft smile and looking his way. "Well, I'm happy that y'want me to spend time with y'all." A tender squeeze to his hand with the statement before her other hand was captured in his as well.

"I'm not takin' it lightly when I'm offerin' to help, Ben. I know y' ain't sayin' that, but I wanna make it clear. But..." She's hesitating, back to biting her bottom lip and dropping her gaze. It was easier to say when she was staring at his chest. "I know how it ain't a good feelin', when you're standin' there and it ain't you. I know what it's like t' look Sam in the face, see Harry actin' a fool. To not be sure what t' do or if there's anythin' y' even can do." She wasn't trying to make him feel bad, it was simply the honest truth. Her gaze lifted back to his face. "I don't want Adam t' have t' go through that alone is all. I want him t' know there's someone he can turn to when..." She didn't need to say it. "Someone who can wait with 'im for y' to get back. An' it means a lot t' me that y' trust me with that sorta thing, Sweetheart." One of his hands was lifted. A kiss pressed to the back of his fingers in an attempt to soften everything she had just said.

He catches that, the way she's got to look aside, the heaviness in her features before she's able to smile again. "What kind of a lesson?" The conversation wasn't light, but he didn't want to avoid things, didn't want to leave things unsaid, especially if it was something that weighed on her. When she says she's happy that he wants him to spend time with the two of them, though, he's smiling too, if faintly, and he squeezes both of her hands gently.

He listens quietly through the rest of her explanation. He knows she isn't trying to hurt him or make him feel guilty or upset -- but she has to know that when he does grow somewhat upset, that that can't be avoided either, right? There's some obvious emotion in his eyes, in the set of his mouth. Tired, a little hurt. But he's resigned, too. This is just how things are -- how they've been for a long time now. What good would it do to get worked up over it? "Thank you, Jackie." Quiet. "I don't want him to have to go through that alone either. I want him to have someone to wait with, and I'd like it if that someone is you. And maybe... maybe the two of you can help each other. Maybe we can all figure things out together, if... if that's something you want to do."

At his question she's taking in a gulp of air, pausing before replying. "Jus' that. Not waitin' too long on things. Not givin' 'em the chance t' sneak up on y' before it's too late." Her smile goes a little bigger. "I was thinkin' outloud. It's alright." The smile dims at the emotion in his expression. No, she isn't surprised by that. There really isn't a polite way to dance around it all and even if there was, would they want to? They could dance around things when it came to her, because she was able to handle herself for the most part against Ben's boys. But Adam was a whole different story. "Yer welcome, Ben." Just as softly in return. Throughout this entire situation she had gotten much better at not blowing off his words of thanks. It involved his son that he cared far too much about for thanks about keeping him safe and happy to be brushed aside. She's taking a step towards him, keeping their hands laced between them. It wasn't so much to make their position any more intimate, but so she could drop her volume even lower. "It means a lot to me that y' want me to be the one to wait with him, Ben. Him an' I will help each other. An' we'll always be waitin', ready fer y' when y' get back t' us. It ain't gonna be perfect at first, but like y' said, we can figure it out. The three of us. I would like that."

It's a surprising sort of relief, the turn this conversation has taken. After she says she'd like it if the three of them can figure all this out together, he lets go of one of her hands, presses his palm lightly to her cheek, stroking his thumb against her skin. He doesn't say anything, just making eye contact with her for that moment, one of those rare, soft smiles in place, and then he leans in and kisses her. It's a tender gesture, and afterward his forehead presses briefly to hers. "We can figure it out." Repeating, quietly, before putting space between them again -- not much, still holding one of her hands, though he drops his other from her cheek. "I'll tell him that today, if that's okay with you? --and who knows, he may not even need to call you. I've... It's happened a few times since he's been here," a slight knit of his brows, and he's glancing downward and off to one side, "but just for a few minutes each time, if that. It seems like he's handling that okay. So maybe I shouldn't even be worried about this." Not a lot behind that, because he knows firsthand how much damage even the most innocent of his boys can do to Adam. Clearing his throat, pushing that thought aside, "We should head back in, probably."

She's returning the look, just as willing to sit quietly for a few moments and let this peace sink in around them. It was welcome after how hectic the entire week had been. The kiss is returned just as chastely and she's left nodding faintly when he pulls away from her. A deep breath to clear her head and she's responding on the exhale. "Absolutely y' can tell him that. Maybe take him t' pick out some sorta phone later on t'day so it's sorta got a perk to it all?" She fades off when he says the boys have taken over here or there since Adam has been here. She just barely manages to restrain her frown at that. "Maybe he won't." She's trying to be as positive as he is on it, or maybe it's simply denial, but she's not doing a very good job of it. It's his next suggestion that's much easier to grasp onto. "Yer right. He probably figures yer out here smokin' the whole pack. Or, more than likely, he's already watchin' a movie without us an' ain't even realized we're gone." A hand reached out to his cheek, a brush of her thumb along his face before they had to separate. "Also, remind me t' give y' Hayley's number so y'all can lock down the terms of her babysittin'. I wasn't sure what the goin' rate is an' I promised her beer. I... don't think I should be in on it anymore." She smiled oh-so-sweetly, still unsure if babysitters were supposed to drink so she was covering her bases in case he got upset.

"Oh, that's a good idea." At least Jackie seems to be decent at figuring out kids so far, but that bright side is short lived, because then she's agreeing with him, and it's denial, or at least it is for Ben. On some level, he must know it, too, that this situation is far from ideal, or even far from very safe -- but what other option is there? He just has to hope, has to believe, that things will work out, that this plan will fix things. He doesn't push her on her own uncertainty or denial, but he's glad when she goes on -- even laughs a little. "You're right. About both of those things." Very slightly, he's tilting his head into her hand before she pulls away, and when he heads back to his apartment door, he has one hand at the small of her back for the short walk there. "You said you'd pay her in beer for babysitting?" A little pause. "She's not going to let Adam have any, is she?" It's hard to tell if it's a serious question.

Her steps are slow when she moves along with him towards the apartment door, enjoying this last bit of quiet contact before they're back inside. "Well, she wants beer in addition to her money. Not to be paid in full in beer." A matter of fact look was cast aside at him. "She's a Daniels." Like that said it all. His question earned a laugh because she assumed he really did have to check, for the very same reason she just stated. "No, it's strictly for her." She's leaning towards him, up onto her toes to drop her voice conspiratorially. "But she said if we want to hire her for a week, say if we plan to go on vacation someplace warm an' secluded, it's gotta be hard liquor."

Her laugh was reassuring, at least, and then he realizes that if Jackie trusts Hayley enough to seriously consider her to watch Adam, that he trusts her too. The last thing she says causes him to freeze for a couple of seconds, eyes a little wide, and then he's catching her in a sudden kiss, hands pressed to her cheeks for the couple of seconds that his mouth is on hers. After, voice low, "I think I can manage to get her a few bottles of hard liquor in exchange for a week someplace warm and secluded with you. Especially if you're still set on packing just a toothbrush." Letting go of her, though he's grinning at her crookedly, a little wild, before opening up the door and heading back inside. Jackie had guessed right; it sounded like Adam was indeed watching some kind of movie in the living room, if the ominous music was any indication.

She comes to a halt when he freezes, but before she can even begin to decide if she's said something wrong his lips are pressed firmly against hers. There's a sound of surprise and once he pulls away there's a goofy smile left in his wake. "Like I said, my goal is to bring a fannypack for a suitcase an' nothin' more. I figured with that on the line you would be more than happy t' figure it out." Her bottom lip is captured between her teeth. Unlike the other times it happened throughout this conversation this time it was to hold back her ear to ear grin while she followed him inside. Just a few pieces of dialogue and she was able to pick out the movie as Lost Boys. She thumbed to the other room, looking at Ben seriously. "He's got damn good taste."

"Yeah, more than happy to figure it out." The last thing he'll say on it, or else he's going to have to go out for another cigarette. "Doesn't he? I think this is one of his favorites." Seems like somebody's picked up on Ben's habit of watching favorite movies over and over and over. Ben's pulling off his coat and hanging it up in the closet before touching Jackie lightly on the arm. "Did you want to stay a little longer? I don't want to keep you if you've got things to do."

She wasn't making a move to take her coat off, unsure if it was time for her to take her leave so the two could bond. Jackie's gazing off towards the other room when Ben's touch brings brown eyes his way again. A light smile touches her lips, only a pause before she's nodding. "Sure, I'd love t' stay." Hands were working to unzip her coat, to follow his lead and hang it up in the closet. Once it was tucked away her smile at Ben widened some. "Got nowhere else I would rather be right now."

He's not sure if the small smile should worry him, if she didn't actually want to stay, but when it widens a little, and she says there's nowhere else she'd rather be, he's giving her a smile in return, only just a touch crooked. Wordlessly, he takes her hand and leads her into the living room, though he pauses before heading over to the couch, waiting for a pause in dialogue before, "Hey, Adam? Do you mind if Jackie and I watch with you? I like this one." Adam flicks a quick glance to the two of them, but then he's shrugging, retreating to one corner of the couch to make more room for them (not that he took up very much to begin with, even sitting in the middle like he had been). "Sure, that's fine."

Following Ben's lead on this Jackie comes to a stop when he does, tipping her head while waiting for Adam's response. There's that shrug again! At least him moving aside on the couch made it clear he was okay with the company, and especially when he said it was fine. Jackie continued along with Ben to the couch and sank down into the cushions in the middle. There was a pause when she realized she forgot to take off her boots so she was making quick work of sliding them off to settle them just beneath her on the floor. Her legs were then drawn up to fold beneath her indian style, hands settling on her knees. "Did Michael drink the blood yet?" Jackie preferred slasher flicks, but a good horror movie was a good horror movie.

Ben's actually a little surprised that Jackie sat right next to Adam, but he's definitely not upset about it. He really likes how much of an effort she's making -- and how natural it is. He sits down on her other side, and while he's got his eyes on the screen, the majority of his attention is on Jackie and his son. Adam actually glances over at Jackie quickly, first when she sits down, and then again when she asks her question; he shakes his head a little. "Nope. They're going there now." At least he didn't shrug that time. After he answers, his gaze is glued to the screen again, though he knows the whole thing, start to finish, the same way Ben knows Frankenstein, or Night of the Living Dead.

When Ben sits down Jackie is firing a small smile his way. If she can tell he's surprised by the seat she chose or she feels nervous about it herself, nothing is showing in her expression. Her attention is back on the screen, flickering between it and Adam. "Really? Good timin' then." She's leaning back into the cushions and directing her attention at the movie now. There are a few stray glances sent Adam's way now and then, but he's as engrossed in the movie as Ben is with his monster flicks and Jackie is with The Notebook. The rest of her attention is split between Lost Boys and glancing towards Ben, a soft smile given when she catches his look in return.

"Yep," Adam agrees, but then he quiets. Ben can't really suppress his smile either when he catches Jackie's eye, and maybe he shouldn't do it, because he's got no idea how physical he should be with her around Adam, but he reaches over to put his hand over one of hers, though he doesn't pull it away from her knee. If Adam even notices, he doesn't show any kind of reaction to it. Hope has been a dangerous thing for Ben through the years, and let him down so many more times than he can count, but already, he's finding himself hopeful that this will all work out -- that like he and Jackie had talked about just minutes ago, the three of them would figure everything out together. Being together like this was the happiest ending Ben's dared to hope for in years.
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