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June 6th: Disarm

 
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:23 pm    Post subject: June 6th: Disarm Reply with quote

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 -- mid-morning

Might be the calmest span of days Ben's ever spent in Rhydin. Just as he'd predicted, he'd spent most of the day sleeping through movies, even though Adam was home (and for most of the time, stayed right next to his slumbering father the entire day). The next few days weren't any different, whether it was just Ben and Jackie at home or if it was the evening or weekend when Adam was home too: sleeping, sleeping, more sleeping. Watching hockey replays (the games were too stressful), eating when Jackie made him. No concussion symptoms had surfaced, so he was, according to Thomas' instructions, clear to take vicodin, but Ben wouldn't, even if Jackie went to fill the prescription. Instead, he just relied on Tylenol (which barely took the edge off) and... sleep.

By the time Monday rolls around, he's still not feeling great -- still feeling pretty awful, really -- but he's feeling good enough to hobble down the stairs on his own mid-morning, get himself something to eat (even if it's only a bowl of cereal and an apple), and try to slip into the office undetected so he can try to find his appointment book and maybe make some work-related calls.

Jackie was waiting for the moment when Ben became stir-crazy and began rebelling against Thomas' instructions for him to take it easy, but until then she went out of her way to make sure his days were as utterly uneventful as possible. After the ordeal he went through the most he should worry about is sleeping and healing. She would run her errands when Adam was around or when Ben dozed off for one of his long naps, but other than that she stuck to the house and keeping herself busy with gardening, tending to Sullivan & Associates here and there, or reading the collection of baby books she was slowly getting her hands on. Close enough if Ben needed her but out of his hair so he didn't feel like she was babying him too much. That would have only made keeping him in recovery mode for a week or so more difficult.

While she was able to keep busy she was also in a constant state of high alert, listening for Ben just in case his rasping coughs went on too long or he called for her. Unfortunately for Ben, Jackie was tending to a load of Adam's clothes in the laundry room that wasn't too far off from the office and Ben's stubborn attempt at sneakily working was cut short quickly. The washer was turned on, announcing her presence, before she made her way across the hall to lean against the doorway of the office with arms folded over her chest. "You're not going to find it in here," his day planner, the thing that Ben lived his life by when it came to work and had been held hostage by Jackie since the day after his incident.

He'd heard the washer, but he'd hoped that meant she was in housework mode and would be less likely to notice him, maybe even hadn't realized he'd slipped into the office. No such luck. "What?" He'd been going through one of the drawers in the heavy wooden desk in there, but he glanced up at Jackie poised in the doorway like he wasn't disappointed to see her and to get that information. He makes a little pained noise when he drops down into the chair behind the desk, but the tightness in his expression is mostly gone after a few seconds. "I don't know what you think I'm looking for. Just needed a change of scenery." Putting on a thoughtful look then, absently tonguing the split in his lower lip. Not that he was anywhere close to healed anyway, but those kinds of injuries especially were slow to heal on Ben; he had a hard time not messing with them. "But since you brought up finding stuff, do you know where today's paper is? I was reading it earlier, but I must've put it down somewhere and now I can't find it. Head injury, right?" It's all a lie, but he's just hoping she's bluffing about his planner not being here, and if he sends her off on an errand then maybe he can find it.

She winces at the noise from him, no matter how many times she heard it she couldn't get used to it. It almost makes her want to give into him and hand over his planner if it's going to bring him some peace, but the fact he went right into a fib squashed that urge rather quickly. A new urge arises, one to tell him to stop playing with the cut in his lip, but she manages to refrain so she's only hassling him about one thing at a time. "I put it on the dining room table. I will happily go get the paper for you, but I'm going to make it perfectly clear that your planner isn't in this office. After I rescheduled your appointments I hid it. Should I still waste my time goin' to get that paper or are you gonna let that go?"

Ben doesn't answer right away, but after a few seconds tick by, he sighs heavily, dejected -- makes him cough a couple of times, but it's nothing too concerning. "No, don't waste your time getting the paper. Can you at least tell me what room you hid it in?" He uses the edge of the desk for support when he hauls himself to his feet, limps over to the door she's blocking. He was refusing an air cast, but at least he'd been good about keeping his ankle wrapped. He'll edge past her through the door if she'll move out of the way. "It'll be a fun game, c'mon. Or you could always give me my phone back." Because he was pretty meticulous about keeping client contact information in there, too.

Jackie's expression is unmoving yet patient while she waits for him to figure out his answer. She would happily go get the paper for him if it's what he actually wanted, but she was far too aware that wasn't the case. There's a small 'mhm' when he tells her to forget about it. A few steps are taken into the hallway so he can get through the door, but when he passes by she trails along after him. "I'm not tellin' you what room it's in, Ben. I toldja already, I called everyone you had lined up and explained to them that we had a family emergency leavin' you occupied for at least a week. They're aware there is nothin' that can be done about it and for the most part everyone was pretty understandin', wishin' us the best in whatever we got goin' on. You're not gettin' the phone, either. Can you just sit down, please? Get to where you're goin' and I'll get you anything you need. Don't act like this already, it's only Monday."

"Oh god, only Monday," mournful. "It's not just clients. I need to call witnesses too. Persons of interest." Though he knows that's not going to sway Jackie, and, resigned to searching the house room by room when she's occupied with something else (already considering asking Adam to fake like he's absolutely stumped with homework tonight to give her a distraction), he drops down onto the couch, and with a grunt of effort, pulls his legs up onto it, sprawls out. "What I need is to do something other than sit around the house doing nothing." Yeah, he was in a sour mood now, though at least he's on the sullen side as opposed to heated. "I know Thomas said it'll be weeks before I'm all healed up, but that can't mean I need to do nothing the whole time. You're being overprotective," though he knows she isn't.

"Horrible, isn't it? Stuck in a house, alone with me, with nothing to do, and tons of time on our hands." While her tone was dramatic it was far from sympathetic. "You know that was the basis of our honeymoon, right? Y'weren't bellyachin' at me then." Her head picks up in a quick shake. "No, you don't need to do any of that. If people can't wait for you to get better than they can find a different detective to go with. None of the cases you had involved missin' persons or anything that was a matter of life and death. You know it, and worse for you, I know it. Isn't workin' with your wife swell?"

As Jackie spoke she had wandered over to the bookcase and was poking through it. Finally, two books were pulled from the shelf and she wandered over to him. One was set in Ben's lap before she took a seat at the other end of the couch and folded her legs beneath her comfortably. "There's plenty for you to do. You have a baby on the way and it's been more than twelve years since you dealt with a pregnant woman. I picked that up at the store for you yesterday while I was out." The thing she had picked up was a book titled What to Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding: A Reassuring Month-by-Month Guide for the Father-to-Be, Whether He Wants Advice or Not. Jackie on the other hand was thumbing through her book, the much more traditional What To Expect When You're Expecting. She didn't even lift her head from the pages to ask him, "If the tables were turned and I was the one you found beat and bloody up in an alley, and someone told you to keep my ass at home so I could get better, how much different would you be actin' compared to me?"
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yeah, well, on our honeymoon, we could be a little more physical. Makes a little bit of a difference." He makes a face, and he still looks a mix of annoyed and dejected when she points out that she knows none of his current cases are urgent. "Starting to rethink you being my secretary." With how over-the-top glum he sounds, it's hard to take him seriously.

He gives the book a glance, and after fighting off the urge to just sulkily toss it on the coffee table, he carefully opens it, props it up on his stomach, and starts to page through it idly, stretching out so his feet are in Jackie's lap, ankles crossed, sprained one over the healthy one. "Honest? I probably would get Hayley or somebody to keep you in line so I could hunt the guy down." He peers over the top of his book at her for a second, then drops his focus to the pages again. "Because it wouldn't be the first time I've done something like that. But..." A pause for a wheezy little sigh. "Yeah, okay, I get your point. I'd do what I had to to make sure you took it easy. That's different, though." Doesn't get into how. Probably shouldn't have said anything like that to begin with.

"We could be a lil' more physical if I didn't have to waste what little energy I had chasin' you 'round the house like a toddler. But I chalk it up to practice and refrain from bruisin' your ears." She flipped a few pages and with the way she was smiling it was obvious she wasn't offended by his teasing threat. "Startin' to rethink you being my boss. You're not very reliable at comin' into the office. I hope these are paid vacation days I'm spending at home."

Her book was lifted and legs were adjusted to better accommodate his feet. She took some time to look over his ankle, at how swollen and discolored it was even if it was a small improvement over the night he received the injury. Once satisfied with her findings she continued to skim through her book. "Keep me in line." Scoffing good naturally at the idea of anyone being able to accomplish that. Brows rose when he says it wouldn't have been the first time. "When did you do that? Do I even wanna know? Either way, do y'see? You got a habit of takin' care of those y'love whether they like it or not same as I do. You only think it's different because you're Tarzan an' I'm Jane."

"What? Now you tell me. That would've been a good incentive for me to behave," nudging her in the thigh with his heel. He just huffs a quietly offended noise when she tells him he's not reliable and leaves that conversation there. "Yeah, keep you in line. Because it is different because I'm Tarzan and you're Jane. It's different." He's silent a moment, turning a few more pages, like maybe he's not going to answer her other questions, but eventually, "When Adam was missing. Not a lot of the making sure someone was staying put or whatever, but... hunting someone down. You know me, I get single-minded. Tenacious." Obsessive. It's nothing he'd ever deny, only try to word positively.

"Well, I'm not the one who got busted in the mouth, so obviously somethin' can always be done. Though, I think we're in quiet time right now. I'm not sure, that part is in another book." Fingers release her book long enough to threaten his feet with a wiggle of fingers like she might tickle the soles of them but, of course, she refrains. "Right, so different. Except I'm watchin' after you following your run-in with Lonnie same as you watched after me following my run-in. The Mama bear can growl just as loud as the Papa bear." After a purse of her lips she closed her book, fingers holding her place. "I love you just as fiercely as you love me. And just about every stupid thing I do, I do it for you." Lucky Ben. Jackie seemed to be content after getting that off her chest until his confession about his habits after Adam went missing made her frown lightly. "Can't fault you for that one. I don't think I would be able to sit still either. Well, except I don't think I could even begin to put myself in your shoes." The gloomy expression she wore taking its time to dissipate.

"We've been in quiet time for the past four, five days," protesting. "Sick of quiet time. You using your non-busted--" A little sound of surprise when she faux-threatens to tickle, but he just curls his toes and barely pulls his feet back. Doesn't really think she'll do it, and she doesn't, so he relaxes again. She has a point, that she's just as protective as him, and her declaration that her love is as fierce as his gets a small, soft half-smile from him. It's true, and he knows it. He's back to leafing through his book when she frowns, so he doesn't notice it -- can sort of sense the shift in her mood when she speaks, though. "It's not something I'd wish on anyone. Not my worst enemy." Though he realizes, with an audible scoff of laughter, that it had happened to his worst enemy, in a way. And history repeats. He pretends like maybe it was a reaction to something he'd read, though, not bringing any of that up.

"You'd tell me if I was being unreasonable with him, right? Like overprotective? I want you to. I probably already had a warped sense of what's a normal level of protective just from being a cop. And after all that, too?" He doesn't even get into the details -- the way his heart felt like it stopped every time a boy about Adam's age had been found during those two long years, how he always felt guilty for hating the families the living ones actually belonged to and were reunited with -- how he felt a sick blend of relief and misery and guilt every time another family positively identified the dead ones. The time he'd had to go try to ID a boy's body himself. The time, near the end of it all, when he'd been convinced Adam had been taken for human trafficking, for pedophiles. It made him ill to think about, even now; he closes his book, lays it down on his chest, goes to rub a hand over his face -- but his eyes are swollen and still darkened, his nose throbs at the lightest contact, and he ends up just scratching at his jaw, the few days worth of scruff. "I want you to keep that in check for me. Not just with Adam, but..." The little half smile returns, and he lightly nudges her in the stomach, just a little touch with his toes. "With whoever that turns out to be, too."

"We've been in quiet time for days and you feel better today than you did last Friday, so somethin' about it is right." He was no where close to being fully healed but there were some improvements, he couldn't deny that. Lips are still downturned and pursed while her mind began to tread towards those dark thoughts of what Adam and Ben went through years ago. Thankfully for them both, since if left unattended Jackie would dwell on this for far too long, Ben's question snaps her back to the conversation at hand. It takes her a moment to think about it before she treads lightly. "I try to follow your lead on a lot of things with him because I think my upbringin' was sorta on the opposite side. My parents watched after us, of course, but back in Thomaston you could unleash your kids on the town until the street lights came on and not think twice 'bout it. But I don't think you done anything real outta line with him since he's been around. Y'know, the real test is gonna be this summer. This is his last week of school and we aren't gonna be able to keep him under our thumbs the entire time."

Her gaze turned away, pondering how they were going to manage to keep Adam occupied all summer without losing their senses. "I still think archery would be nice for him to take up. He's plenty old enough and I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't think he could handle it. He's got the focus for it." Attention turned back to Ben. "But that would just be somethin' mixed in with him goin' to day camp like you were talkin' about. I know Mama has been badgerin' me wantin' to have him go stay with her an' Daddy, too." His toes brush her stomach and it instantly causes a face splitting grin. Even though Jackie wasn't showing much so far in her pregnancy, only looking like she was slightly bloated if you really paid attention, she brought her hand down to rest against the top of her eventual bump. "I promise I'll keep you in check with the lil' one, too." Her gaze tipped down to her stomach. "Either it'll be another lil' boy to raise hell with Adam or... well, if it takes after its Mama it'll be a lil' girl to raise hell with Adam." The two possibilities left her snickering.
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I might feel better physically, but my mental state is deteriorating. I'd be climbing the walls if I was capable of climbing." Huffing, annoyed, but that gets a wince out of him. Quiet while she tells him that she doesn't think he's been out of line but that the real test will be this summer, he nods a little, agreeing with her, though he sort of makes a face when she brings up archery again. It's a good thing she's looking away, and he's neutral, or begrudgingly agreeing, when her attention shifts to him again. "You're right, he has the focus for it. I guess I'll start looking for camps that offer that."

Faintly amused when she brings up her mother bothering her to bring Adam to Thomaston -- more amused when she snickers. "I'm pretty sure if we end up with a daughter, she'll raise even more hell than a son would. If she takes after her mama -- and she would. No doubts about that." He picks up his book again, opens it to where he'd left off (though he'd just been skimming, barely), and his eyes stay on the pages, though the vast majority of his attention is on Jackie. "I'm sure Ella would like to spend some time with him, too." Still a little wary of bringing up his ex around Jackie since that meltdown she'd had a couple of weeks ago, so he keeps his tone pretty neutral, measured. "She did really well with him when we were in Europe. She's a good mother when she's sober and pretty stable. And she doesn't really get to see him much during the school year." Tonguing that split in his lip again, absent as always; this time he doesn't even realize he's doing it until he can taste blood, faintly.

Peering over the top of his book at her, she probably can't see anything below his eyes, but just from the way they narrow a little more, it's a good giveaway that he's smiling. "I think that'd be fun, for him to spend time with your parents. He's never had grandparents to dote on him before, right? Plus, if we wait a month or so for you to bring him, you can tell your mum she can stop worrying about never having a grandchild."

"Y'know, if I wasn't such a wonderful wife I would tell you that you're bein' dramatic. Thankfully, I'm just too darlin' to break the news to you." The sweetest of smiles expands when he agrees to look into camps offering archery. "I know you're skeptical about it, but I think Adam will take to it like a fish to water. It ain't like he's going to be out huntin' next week. Find a camp that offers lessons, but I'll get my equipment out and fine tuned. It would actually be a lot of fun to teach him a thing or two, somethin' for him and I to do together. Besides, I can't pole dance, I can't go to the gun range, I can't drink, I can't go four wheelin'. Archery is probably one of the last fun things I can actually do." She looks even more excited, though she manages to smooth out her expression some. "Of course, this is mostly for Adam."

Jackie's expression is brimming with quiet pride when Ben muses on the idea of a little Jackie junior causing trouble around RhyDin. It would be a blessing and a curse, that's for sure. Her glee is interrupted when Ben brings up Ella. Her expression doesn't exactly turn irritated or angry, but it does manage to dull it quite a bit. "That's his mama, of course he should go see her." The rest of what he says is lingering in the air, that Ella is a good mother when sober. Jackie isn't exactly able to conjure up something polite to say about all of that and the internal debate plays out across her features until she finally gives up and sinks her attention back down to the held page of her book. A visual cue she wasn't going to delve any deeper into the subject of Ella than that.

At least Ben was kind enough to bring up another line of conversation that Jackie was much more inclined to talk about before the quiet could become awkward, whether that was his intention or not. "Is dote a nice way of sayin' they're goin' to spoil the hell outta him? Because I already predict that's going to be the case. I picture Mama cookin' up a storm and feedin' him non-stop, tellin' us we need to put more meat on his bones. Daddy on the other hand'll take him out to the garage and show him every last part of an engine, considering he hasn't had someone to teach that to for some years." The final piece of his plan makes Jackie lower her book to the armrest of the couch. "When I tell her we'll just have to be positive we want everyone to know. Mama can't keep a secret to save her life and she'll be quick to alert everyone that her baby girl has a bun in the oven." Thinking on it, she smirked. "I suppose it would save us money on announcements, hm?"

Part of him is wary of turning Adam over to Jackie's care for archery instruction -- not because he doesn't trust her specifically, but because it's a potentially dangerous endeavor, and it's Adam. If it were anyone else offering, he'd actually voice the hesitation, but it's Jackie, so, "Right, I'm sure it's mostly for him." Amused, and it's visible in his eyes before his gaze drops to his book again. He doesn't push the subject of Ella, content to leave that conversation. Jackie at least could go by the 'if you don't have something nice to say' rule now, which was an improvement from last time, so he'd take it.

"Yes, dote is a nice way of saying they're gonna spoil the hell out of him. When I called your parents to ask your dad's permission to marry you, your mum already mentioned that, that I must not feed him enough." Still amused. He'd had a hard time not laughing when it happened. When Jackie puts her book aside, he does too, reaching over with a quiet noise of effort to set it on the coffee table before settling down again, hands folded on the flat of his abs. "It would save us money, that's for sure. What's your book say about when to let people know?"

Jackie was aware that Ben wasn't 100% behind the idea of Adam learning archery, but she knew she had to stick to her guns. Giving in to Ben on archery for Adam and saying that maybe it wasn't the best of ideas would be the beginning of a very slippery slope that could lead to Adam missing out on even more. At least she met him somewhere in the middle. "You're more than welcome to come hang out with us while we practice, obviously. I bet Adam would be real excited to do somethin' so cool in front of his Daddy." And maybe this would show Ben that Adam really could be trusted to do a lot more than he gave him credit for. It was a winning situation all around in Jackie's opinion.

"Maybe you should let him get the basics down before I come with. I don't want to make him nervous." Not really the reason -- he wanted Jackie and Adam to have bonding time that didn't involve cooking or homework, and maybe he wanted to challenge himself, prove that he could let Jackie do this with Adam without Ben being there to hover. "But I'll tag along sometime. I wouldn't mind learning too, when I can."

Ben relaying his conversation with Jackie's mother had her laughing. "I knew it. Considering all my brothers are as thick as barns that's what's she's aimin' to get him up to, a lil' linebacker. We have to make sure to explain to Adam that he can tell her no and doesn't have to eat every single thing she puts down in front of him." His question prompts Jackie to lift her book again and scan the pages even if she already knew the answer by heart. "The risk of complication drops a lot after the first trimester, which is 'round ten to twelve weeks. Right now I'm at seven weeks, 'cause next week is my first doctor's appointment which I scheduled for my eighth week. Really, your guess of tellin' her in 'bout a month was pretty spot on." The book was lowered and a smile was sent aside at him. "You're gonna come with me, right? To the doctors?"

He laughs a little, quiet, when she points out that her brothers were all solid and that's what her mother was comparing Adam to. "Tell her he wants to be a soccer player or a baseball player. Maybe that'll help her reframe how much he should be eating." Something in what she says about the timing of everything has him pulling a faux offended face (obviously false, because it's over the top). "A guess? You wound me, sweets. Wasn't a guess." Drops the act though, just smiling crookedly, though it's absent the usual cockiness. "Yeah, of course I'm gonna go with you. I'm still not gonna look very pretty, but I want to be there with you for that. --for all of them, every appointment. Important to me." He starts picking at a loose thread at the bottom of his tee shirt then, just idly. Bad at sitting still. "How're you feeling about it all? Obviously excited, happy, I can see that." Smiling at her again. "I know you're tired. Sore, too? And I've been so out of it I don't even know -- nauseated still?"

"You probably got a point, but it won't take long. Smart as Adam is he'll pick it up quick." Pride found its way into her tone already. "And that's a real good idea, you learnin' too. It's just another sport I can whoop your ass at." Her book was lifted, covering her grin and she peered at him over the top of it snickering like a child. With a shake of her head she lowers the book. "No way, I don't think Mama will get it. You tell her he's going out for any sport and she's going to say he's a growin' boy that needs his energy before pilin' up a big plate for him. I'll have a talk with her though. Explain to her that all boys ain't meant to be built like Daniels."

Her head tilted at his faux offended face, returning it with her own faux impressed look. "That wasn't a guess?" Her scoff just as over the top. "Then you been sneakin' peeks at my baby books. How diligent of you." Her smile softened considerably. "You still look pretty to me, black eyes an' all. Handsome as ever." Lips pursed, an air kiss blown his way. "But I'm glad you want to be there for all of them. I don't want to go to them alone." The book is finally closed and set on the armrest beside her so hands can fold over her stomach with fingertips drawing idle circles into the fabric of her shirt.

"I'm happy and excited, yes. Still sorta nervous, but I like readin' the books because it makes me feel like I got some sorta sense about me." Her nose crinkles to go along with her smile. "Tired as all get out. My boobs are what really hurt, which I guess is the trade for them bein' so damn big, but all of me just feels drained. Inside my head I get these crazy thoughts goin' on where it's like, one second I want to yell at a woman for gettin' in my way at the grocery store and the next thing I know I want to eat an entire cheesecake by myself." She sank back further into the couch with a groan. "Cheesecake sounds so good." She simmered on that craving for a while before gesturing at him. "And the morning sickness. Which is false advertisin' because it doesn't just stick to the mornin'. It's still here and it's an all day sickness, but crackers an' I are becomin' fast friends." She went quiet after her laundry list of issues then looked to Ben with a smile. "Glad you asked, sweetheart?"

"No, that wasn't a guess. I'm diligent. Thorough." He lifts one hand, lazy, to catch the kiss she'd blown his way, presses his fingers to his cheek before folding his hand over his other one again. "Well... yeah, of course I want to be there for them. My kid too, yeah? And I want to be there for you, too." A little smile, though his eyes are drawn to the play of her fingers in her shirt for a moment, and then he just shuts his eyes, though he's still listening to her. Laughs a tiny bit when she gets dramatic about the cheesecake too. "How bad do they hurt? Can't be that bad, right? I think it's a good trade." Opening his eyes again to grin lopsidedly at her, some of that usual devilborne attitude back, though it vanishes when he pushes himself up to sit with a quiet 'oof.' Not going anywhere, really, just turning around so he can lay back down with his head in her lap, looking up at her. "I'm glad I asked. I haven't exactly been observant the past few days, and I'm sorry for that." Kind of making a face, but he lifts one hand to rest it lightly at the curve of her waist, right above her hip. "I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay. I guess if I was gonna get the *** kicked out of me, now was the time for it to happen. A few months later would've been way worse." As if that was the kind of thing you could schedule or plan.

"I know, I know. It's not like I'm surprised or anything considerin' you wouldn't leave me on my own and say 'see you in nine months', but I'm thankful 'cause not every man is so inclined to be as involved. Just another reason on a long list why I love you." For as sweet as that was, her expression quickly contrasted it. "Can't be that bad? Oh, sure. How bad does your broken nose hurt anyway? Can't be that bad, right?" Finger lifted. "You say somethin' like that again and you don't get to touch 'em 'til after this baby is done breastfeedin'." Teasing, though as unpredictable as Jackie's hormones made her who knew if someday that playful threat could become something much more real if pushed? At least that time wasn't now and when he put in the effort to make his move Jackie unfolded her legs to make her lap that much more welcoming for his head.

Once he was settled her fingers went to his hair to comb along his temple gently. "Quit apologizin'. You've been busy gettin' better like I want you to. If something was that wrong with me I would let you know, but for now, according to everything I've read, I got the normal symptoms comin' and goin'." Eyes narrowed. "Yeah, right, a perfect time to get your ass kicked. You're so thoughtful." The shake of her head and roll of her eyes said it all. Other than that, she didn't want to focus on the idea of Ben getting beat up. Sure, she constantly had visual reminders of it every time she looked at him, but it didn't mean she was entirely comfortable talking about it. Instead she reached aside to take his hand, nudging his thumb and forefinger to curl together until they formed a small circle in the middle of them. His hand was then lifted into his eye line. "Did you know that our baby is that big now? 'Bout the size of a blueberry." And even though it was only a space between his fingers, Jackie still looked upon it with a soft smile like she were actually gazing at their newborn baby.

Ben makes a quiet noise, a whine of protest, when she makes that threat, and it's hard to tell if he's playing along or if he thinks she's serious. It must at least be partly the latter, because he's not pushing the joke any further. He closes his eyes when her fingers delve into his hair, a hint of a smile at his mouth. Quiet time was sort of nice, even if he'd been complaining about it earlier. "Sounds normal to me," just a murmur. It's not until she takes his hand that he opens his eyes; his fingers are easy for her to move and position however she wants them. His smile hooks a little more crooked when she explains, focus on the space she'd set up between his fingers. "Oh yeah?"

He's about to make some quip about how it's going to get a lot bigger than that, but his gaze shifts to her face then -- and unpredictably, his features go blank a moment, though it doesn't last, and a couple of slow blinks later, he's shaking his head a little, trying to clear the weird dark away from his vision. "I didn't-- did I-- Where'd I go? --I mean, did I--" He cuts off with a huff -- which turns into a cough, and a groan that came with a grimace, and then he turns over onto his side to face her, slipping his arms around her. Not quite hiding his face against her stomach, because any pressure on his nose was going to be unbearable, but that just means he ducks his head further, forehead against the barely noticeable swell below her navel. "Nevermind."

"It's perfectly normal." Attempting to drive that point home so he would stop worrying about her and focus on himself instead. Her attention still lingered on the spot between his fingers while she nodded. "Mhm, an' it's got a lil' tail if you can believe that." Chuckling she turned her gaze down at him to get his reaction but instead she was met with the blank expression. To most people a blank expression was nothing to worry over, but for Jackie it was cause for great concern. She was holding her breath in the few short moments it took for him to come back to her and even then she wasn't entirely sure it was Ben that would be greeting her. Bracing herself she waited for a sign and when his question came, where'd I go?, she gave a soft relieved sigh. Jackie gives him time to huff, cough, and get comfortable. When he's settled one arm drapes over his shoulder and down his back as her other hand once again finds its way into his hair. "Y'weren't gone for long, it's okay." Her voice was quiet and careful as she spoke. He might have said nevermind, but she figured it might be something he would want to know. There was no use in them ignoring it between them. "Y'were barely gone. I don't know what happened. We were talkin' about the baby and you had a lil' fade, but it's okay, baby. You're here now and that's what matters, right?"

It was something he wanted to know -- just didn't want to ask. The tension in his shoulders isn't obvious until it releases, at least partly, when her fingers find his hair again. "Just a little fade, yeah?" Quiet, and a little muffled besides. "I don't know what happened either. I don't feel..." Trailing off, trying to think of how to articulate it, but he just makes a little frustrated noise instead. "It's just... right when I think I have even just the beginning of a handle on it, right? When I think I'm figuring it out, when I really think I'm starting to know the triggers, and-- like, who could that've been? Why?" Maybe it's the cop in him that is especially frustrated that he's missing so many pieces to this puzzle -- not to say it wouldn't be maddening if he'd had any other profession, too. Another sigh, softer this time, and then he tries to push past the negativity. "Yeah, you're right, I'm here now, sweetheart. That's what matters." His fingers curl lightly into the back of her shirt, let go, though his hands stay splayed at the small of her back. "I think I need a nap, maybe. Maybe I'm just tired." He was exhausted, just didn't like to admit it.

When the muscles in his shoulders loosen somewhat her fingers knead between his shoulder blades, attempting to work out the last bit of tension to get him to relax. She gives a soft 'mhm' when he asks her to confirm he was only gone a short while then she's quiet as she listens to him try to work it out verbally. "Maybe it's not somethin' we're ever going to have a full handle on? Maybe it's like tryin' to put together broken glass. You'll get some pieces that line up, but it's always going to be missin' those little shards and ain't no way to get rid of them cracks. So, maybe the first step is acceptin' that?" It wasn't the most uplifting thing she could have said, but it wasn't her job to sugar coat everything for him. She was there to help him work through it. "I think a nap sounds like a real good idea, sweetheart. Why don't we go upstairs an' I can join you before I go pick Adam up from school? I think I could use one right about now, too."

Ben never expects her to sugarcoat anything. She never has; she's always been honest with him, always been straight with him. He's quiet for a while, just letting the tension melt out of his shoulders under the continued attention of her fingers. What she says doesn't cause any of it to come back, at least. Eventually, "You've already accepted that, haven't you?" Turning onto his back takes some effort, but once he's there he looks up at her, lifts one hand to press his palm to her cheek. "That this probably will be how I always am? That I might never get better, find all the pieces?" A little twitch of a smile. Seems like he wants to say more, but he's at a loss for words for a moment. Finally, "I love you. At least that's something I'm sure of." Fingertips trace along her cheek for a few seconds, and then he drops his hand from her face. He's just reaching for the throw blanket draped over the back of the couch, though. "Maybe we can take that nap here? Don't really wanna tackle the stairs back up right now." He'd probably avoid it until he went to bed in the evening, if he could.

Her brows pinch together slightly, obviously perplexed by what he's saying though her soft smile stays curled at her lips. "Sweetheart, I didn't marry you because of the man you might be someday. I married you because I love who you are here an' now, today. Obviously, we're both gonna change 'cause that's how people are an' can't no one stay the same, but when it comes to this? Nothin' could ever change with it, it might never be different, an' that's somethin' I decided a long time ago was worth bein' with you." Her head tips, pressing her cheek further into his fingertips. "I love you, too." It seemed Jackie was just as willing to forgo dealing with the stairs because as he was covering up with the throw blanket she was straightening her legs out to rest them across the across the coffee table and sinking further back into the couch. "Wherever you want, baby. Just relax. Get some sleep." Fingers continued to comb through his hair. "But know that I'm countin' this round of quiet time as a huge success." Her smile widened, rather pleased with herself.

"You know I'm broken, got missing pieces." Already settled on his back with his head in her lap and her fingers in his hair, his eyes are closed, voice at a murmur. "But you told me once that you just want to make those pieces I do have shine. I believed that. Believe you." It had been the moment he knew absolutely and without question that he needed to make her his wife -- not just because of her devotion, but because she wasn't waiting for something that might never happen. She loved him as-is. She understood. "I hope I'm making you shine too, sunshine. Making you glow." Quiet a moment, and it's believable that maybe he'd fallen asleep, but his silence is interrupted with a sudden scoff of a wry laugh after her quiet time comment. "Don't get used to it. I'll get my strength back soon enough and put up more of a fight. Because I really am sick of quiet time." Though he seemed pretty comfortable with it right now. "Lemme know if your legs fall asleep and you want me to move. And wake me in a couple hours if I don't on my own so I can take more tylenol."

"I wasn't lyin'. I'll make you shine, but at the same time I'm gonna love the hell out of you even on them days when you're not quite gleamin'. More than likely, those are the days I'm goin' to love you more." Jackie does her best to not disturb him, but it's hard when she's shaking with a small amount of laughter before she can voice the reason. "You do make me glow. Even more than just this baby glow you knocked me up with." Another bout of snickering was given when he fussed over quiet time. "It's going to take you a week or two to get your strength up. I'm not opposed to sittin' on you if it's my only chance of gettin' you to sit still." She settled herself, comfortable, fingers combing his hair and the other hand settled on his chest, content. "I don't want you to go anywhere. But don't start tellin' me how to properly baby you. Nurse Jackie has got it under control. Go to sleep now, sweetheart."

He laughs a little too, just a huffed out chuckle. "Baby glow. Got on that right away." A soft smile is at his mouth, but it's still crooked, and just the slightest bit smug. "'Go to sleep now, sweetheart.' Yeah, yeah, whatever Nurse Jackie says..." He's only playing at being sulky, though -- the smile is still there, gives him away -- and he reaches up with one hand, traps her hand against his chest, over his heart. It's not long after that that his breathing evens out, deepens slightly, and he's out for the time being.
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