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He questioned a lot in his life…mostly, who he really was, given that he currently suffered from amnesia. He thought it was just an accident, that his name was EJ and he was the son of Susan Banks…until he learned that his name wasn’t EJ, it was Will, and EJ was the name of his deceased stepfather and that Susan wasn’t mentally sound.

His name was Will Robert Horton, son of Sami Brady and Lucas Horton, and the father of Arianna Grace Horton. He was from Salem. He was a journalist, not a bartender. He was gay, not straight, and had once been married to a man named Sonny. His best friend was Gabi Hernandez, Arianna's mother, along with Chad DiMera, EJ's younger brother.

He’d learned a few things since coming to Salem; being out of the metaphorical closet was pretty nice, getting to do something he was passionate about was also nice, and being a father to his daughter he didn’t know he had was also very nice.

He also learned he was in love with Paul Narita and no longer in love with his ex-husband, Sonny Kiriakis.

And soon, with the help of that serum, he was going to remember all the things he’d forgotten. His family, his life before that, his life with Sonny…within the next week, he realized as he looked down at the letter from the chemist at the Salem Hospital, he would remember it all, if he was lucky.

“Will?” Paul called as he gently knocked on the door, “It’s me.”

“Come in,” Will said, not looking up from the paper, but he did look up when he head the door open.

In walked Paul, the man he recently realized that he was in love with. Tall, dark haired, brown eyed, loving, caring Paul Narita.

Will held up the paper, a weak smile on his face, “From your contact, I got it today. They say that I can call whenever I’m ready and they’ll have the serum within the week.”

Paul froze, staring down at the paper, “I didn’t expect him to…get back to you so soon,” he breathed out.

Will could tell Paul was hesitant about it all and he knew his reasons; he was worried about Will’s safety, of course, he was worried that Will would no longer want to be with him…

Will couldn’t see a world where he didn’t want to be with Paul. He never wanted to lose this feeling of happiness, loving, and safety.

He never wanted to lose Paul, ever.

Will stood up and cupped Paul’s face with his hands, “Paul...there’s nothing to worry about,” he pressed his forehead against his, “This will be the best thing to do for could save lives.”

Paul took a shaky breath, “I know, I’s just…” he trailed off and then sighed, “Will, you’re going to remember Sonny and your great love that you’ve had with him.”

“It’s not about him, Paul,” Will told him, “It has to do with me remembering who I am. Remembering my family, my daughter…”

“Yeah, I know that,” Paul sighed, looking away awkwardly.

Will raised an eyebrow, “But you’re a little scared?”

“Yeah,” Paul admitted, “I’m a little nervous about competing with your memories with Sonny,” he told him honestly.

Will smiled weakly, “But you won’t be competing. Remembering who I am is only going to make my feelings for you stronger. Just because I’m remembering everything, doesn’t mean I’m going to forget...what we have between us,” he told him, taking his hand.

Paul sighed, “I know that...but how do you figure? ” he asked, “About...making your feelings stronger?”

“Because then I can love you with all of me,” Will told him, “I can love you as a complete person. I’m not going to be missing these parts of myself that are gone from my head.”

“Well,” Paul smiled, trying to lighten the mood now, “I like your head...missing pieces and all.”

Will snorted out a laugh, “Shut up,” he said before kissing him softly.

Paul breathed out a content sigh as he pulled away, smiling at him, “Hey,” he said, rubbing his shoulders, “What do you say we go out for dinner tonight? I seem to recall you loving the food from the pub.”

Will grinned at him, kissing his cheek, “Fine, but I’m buying,” he pointed at him, going to grab his coat.

Will walked through the square, his hand securely clasped to Paul’s. He smiled slightly at it...being able to be open with the man he was pretty sure he loved.

Will’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he immediately grabbed it with his free hand; he’d noticed that about himself, recently, since Ari came into his life. He was always waiting for a message about her or a picture of her from Sonny, Rafe, or another member of the Kiraikis family.

Will opened the message that he saw was from Sonny and sighed. While he was hoping for a message pertaining to Ari or maybe another picture that he could save, it was more personal.

Sonny texts Will

Will shook his head and closed the message, not responding to it. He looked at Paul and gave him a smile, “Just Sonny. He wants to be at the hospital when I get the serum.”

“That’s…” Paul trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.

“Inappropriate,” Will said bluntly, shoving his phone into his pocket again and giving Paul a real smile this time, “Let’s get some food, okay?”

Will watched Paul smile and thank the waiter, who had brought him a beer and Will a water. The person at the hospital warned Will not to consume any alcohol or anything, since he’d have unknown chemicals in his system soon.

Will’s eyes widened when Paul took a pretty long drink of the beer and he tilted his head, “Paul?”

“Yeah?” Paul asked, a little breathless.

Will just raised an eyebrow.

Paul sighed, “Sorry,” he told him, shaking his head, “I’m just nervous about...everything coming up,” he admitted, “Despite everything you’ve said, I still…” he trailed off, continuing to shake his head.

“I know this is hard for you, Paul,” Will told him.

Paul just gave him a weak smile.

“I know it is, but I-I’m not going to be okay until I go through with this,” Will explained, “I need this and it would mean the world to me if you...if you’d be there with me.”

Paul nodded, “I might be nervous, but I wouldn’t be anywhere else than with you. I’ll be with you, by your side, no matter what.”

Chapter Text

A week later, Paul and Will sat in the waiting room of the hospital. Paul had his arm draped on the back of Will’s chair as Will played some mindless game on his phone. He honestly didn’t know what it was about and he was pretty sure Arianna had somehow downloaded it on his phone.

Will watched as the animated witch cheer that he’d won the level and kind of wondered why the witch wanted to pop all the bubbles.

“Is that Ari’s game?” Paul asked suddenly.

“Yup,” Will said simply, popping his lips at the ‘p’.

Paul snorted out a laugh and went back to the message he’d been typing to his dad, explaining why he couldn’t come in to work on the case they were currently taking today. He wanted to take the entire day off in case Will had a bad reaction to the serum. He knew they had a pretty big caseload, with cases John had taken but as well as them taking on Leo for Sonny...and for a discounted price, since it was a favor.

Paul moved his arm so it was more securely around Will’s shoulders, keeping him close.

An experimental serum was going to be in his boyfriend’s system very soon, he was allowed to be a little nervous, okay? He had no idea how Will would react to it, especially given his medical history.

Will had finally managed to get his medical records from the hospital so he could at least see if he was even allergic to anything, after he finally gave them proof that he wasn’t, well, dead.

Paul put his head on top of Will’s, finally causing him to pause the game and look up at him.

“You okay?” Will asked, blue eyes staring at him in concern.

Paul took a deep breath and then nodded, “Yeah...yeah, I’m just worried, y’know,” he smiled weakly at him.

Will turned to him and put his hand on his, “I know...I am, too. But I have to do this.”

“I know,” Paul told him quietly, “Will-”

“Paul, I love you,” Will breathed out, staring up at him.

Paul stared at him in shock, “I-”

“Will?” Kayla called, walking over, “Hey, sweetheart, we’re ready for you.”

“Come with me?” Will asked Paul, turning back to him.

“I...yeah,” Paul said quickly, “Of course.”

“Mar- Grandma,” Will said, obviously surprised when he walked into the room and saw his grandmother.

“I wanted to be here,” Marlena told him, a warm smile on her face.

Will gave her a weak smile, “Thanks,” he said, holding hands with Paul. He felt nervous and excited a the same time...he didn’t know how that was possible. He also didn’t know how it was possible that Paul must have sensed it, because his partner gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

Will squeezed back briefly, a silent thank you for being there.

“I, uh…” Will trailed off, looking at the syringe that was lying capped on the metal tray, eyeing the nurse nervously, “Grandma...c-could you maybe…” he trailed off, looking at the nurse, “No offense,” he mumbled, shifting closer to Paul a little bit.

“Guess I got my own personal bodyguard,” Will remembered saying in the mausoleum. He looked up at Paul, studying his face. He knew that Paul was still skeptical about the serum...and he was too.

“Are you sure?” Marlena asked.

Will nodded, “Yeah, I...uh...if that’s okay,” he swallowed.

Marlena smiled and whispered something to the nurse, who left with a soft smile on her face.

“Here, sit up on the table and pull up your sleeve,” Marlena said, patting the gray table.

Will nodded and moved, sitting up on the table slowly.

He had to let go of Paul’s hand to do so, but the moment he was situated, Paul had grabbed his hand again. Will’s eyes moved to his face and saw a reassuring smile on his face, though it was a little forced.

“I hate needles,” Will mumbled, looking away as Marlena wiped off the spot on his arm, “Always have, shots and everything,” he said bluntly, “That’s not a memory, by the way,” he added quickly, “I’m just up to date on my vaccinations.”

Paul chuckled, rubbing his shoulders, “Same here,” he admitted, trying to make casual conversation as he made eye contact with Marlena.

“Will, you need to understand that what’s in this vial is completely untested. We have no idea what this could do to you, i-it could do nothing or-” Marlena started.

“It could kill him,” Paul cut her off and stood up, not letting go of Will’s hand, “Look, I think it’s fair to say that we’re all scared. I know I am, but, uh...Will and I have discussed this in length and we know his risks, physical and...otherwise,” he forced out, “This is what he wants. I think we need to set aside our fears and support him.”

“Plus,” Will added, trying to lighten the mood, “It’s not like I can test this on a forgetful lab rat, right?”

“I know what you’re saying nad I respect it,” Marlena said, “But we just got you back...I can’t be responsible for anything happening to you.”

“It’s my choice, no one would blame you,” Will said, looking confused.

“Maybe Sami would,” Marlena laughed weakly.

“I know you’re worried but you don’t know what it’s like to have a part inside you that you can’t access. I know there’s going to be bad memories, like for example Ben trying to kill me. But there are all these amazing experiences and times that I shared with my family; birthdays, holidays, times I spent with Ari, times I spent with you, times I spent with Sonny!” Will said, getting upset now.

“Honey, I want everything that’s good for you,” Marlena told him, “It’s just very difficult for me to be a part of a process that could go very wrong here.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have involved you with this,” Will sighed, “A-And if you’re not comfortable, we’ll explore other options-”

“Okay, all right then,” Marlena cut him off, “So, we’ll take some more time, think it through-”

“No, no, no, no,” Will said quickly, “I don’t need more time. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love your help, but I’m doing this with or without you,” he said seriously, “One way or another this is happening .”

Marlena sighed, “Will, what can I say to make you think about this just a little more?”

“Nothing!” Will said, “Honestly, nothing! But if you don’t want to participate I completely understand.”

“Honey, I have serious reservations about this whole process,” Marlena told him, getting teary eyed now, “I love you.”

Will sighed, going to get off the table, but Marlena stopped him.

“All right, if this is what you really want, then I’ll be there for you...all the way,” she said finally.

“Thank you,” Will sighed in relief.

Will watched as she stared at him for one last moment before grabbing the needle again.

“Okay, deep breath,” Marlena told him, “This is gonna pinch a little bit.”

Will squeezed his eyes shut and held onto Paul’s hand when he felt a pair of lips that he knew was Paul’s brush against his temple.

“I love you too,” Paul told him softly in his ear, so quietly Will wasn’t sure if he really heard it...but he did.

“Breath out,” Marlena told him.

Will let out a breath and opened his eyes, staring up into Paul’s dark eyes. They were watery, like they were full of tears.

“Can I move?” Will whispered.

Marlena nodded, teary eyed as well.

Will wrapped his arms around Paul’s neck and hugged him tightly, “Call me crazy but...I got a good feeling about this,” he choked out.

“Okay, how do you feel?” Paul asked quickly, “Any pain, any-”

“No,” Will shook his head, “Just a little dizzy, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the sight of that needle,” he laughed weakly, earning a laugh from them both.

“Okay,” Marlena told him, “I want you to monitor everything . If you feel even just a little off, I want you back here. I-If there’s a bad reaction, I don’t want you to call the hospital, I don’t want you to call me, I want you to call an ambulance to bring you back here immediately, do you both hear me?”

“Trust me,” Paul told her, a weak smile on his face and an arm around Will, “Anything goes wrong, we’ll be back here immediately, right?”

Will nodded, “Right,” he added with a smile.

“We could go out for dinner,” Will said as they walked down the hallway to the apartment, “I could really go for a burger-”

“Will, if you want a burger, I’ll go get you one. But there’s no way you’re doing anything but lying down in bed right now,” Paul told him.

Will couldn’t remember if Paul had let go of his hand since the hospital.

When they finally approached, the space between their apartment doors, Sonny was waiting there. Will would have thought he came from work, given the suit, but he’d figured out recently that those were just a staple with Sonny...given that he didn’t have a job anymore.

“Uh, hey, Sonny,” Paul said awkwardly.

“Everything all right?” Will asked, leaning on Paul slightly.

“Yeah, I just...I heard you were getting the serum today and wanted to stop by and check on you,” Sonny said, sounding just as awkward as Paul.

Will had no idea how Sonny knew he was getting the serum today and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

“We’re just getting back,” Will told him softly, “Paul, can you...give us a minute?” he sighed, turning and looking at him.

“Uh...yeah,” Paul said, shifting away from Will, “I’m going to go get a change of clothes from my room, yell if you need anything,” he said, pressing a kiss to his cheek and taking out his keys.

Will didn’t say anything, making sure that Paul had unlocked his door and closed it behind him before he even looked at Sonny.

“How are you?” Will asked softly, “Any news about….about Leo’s case?”

“No, everything’s...the same, really,” Sonny ran his hand through his hair, “But...forget about that now, this is about you . How are you feeling? Do you remember anything?” he asked eagerly.

Will shook his head, “No...not yet. It’s experimental though,” he added hopefully, “I could...maybe remember something later o-or-”

“Hey,” Sonny grabbed his hands, “It’s okay, Will. I know I’ve been...pushing lately, but you take all the time you need,” he said, trying to get Will to look into his eyes, “I just...I really hope that you can...remember me and remember what we had ,” he whispered, pulling him into a tight hug.

Will swallowed, closing his eyes for a moment and hugging back. It felt warm and...familiar. He wasn’t uncomfortable like before.

He knew this feeling, somehow.

Will finally managed to pull away, giving Sonny the friendliess smile he could manage with what he was feeling right now.

Sonny looked up when Paul opened the door again and he let go of Will’s hands, “See you later,” he said quickly, walking away and brushing passed Paul as he did.

“You okay?” Paul asked almost immediately.

“I...yeah,” Will said, shaking his head, “Just...surprised is all,” he gave him a smile, “He was really...nice.”

Paul shifted awkwardly again, “You, uh...still want that burger? I can go get it-”

“I think I’ll settle for some cereal...and some alone time with my favorite person in the entire world,” Will smiled, looking at him.

“Who? Ari? Pretty sure she’s with Gabi right now,” Paul gave him a bright smile.

“Okay,” Will said, “Maybe my second favorite person, but it’s a pretty close tie,” he told him.

“Who?” Paul asked, giving him a playful smile now.

“You,” Will said, laughing as he unlocked the door, “I just want to spend a night in...with the man I love.”

“What a coincidence,” Paul said as they walked inside, “So do I.”

Chapter Text

Will wasn’t normally a light sleeper. He could sleep through just about anything if he was really tired enough. He remembered once, in Memphis, he’d slept through the fire alarms going off when Susan had tried to cook breakfast.

He wasn’t sure if it was the anxiety of the serum and worrying about getting his memories back or what , but he slept incredibly light last night.

That’s probably why it was so easy for him to wake up.

When he felt the blanket being moved under his chin, he opened his eyes, blinking a few times. He turned so he could see his boyfriend, who was staring at him.

“What’s up?” he asked tiredly.

“Sorry,” Paul laughed weakly, “I was just...worried about you,” he admitted, “How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” Will told him, “I...remembered Sonny hugging me, but that’s kind of it,” he told him quietly, “Sorry-”

“You don’t need to apologize for remembering,” Paul told him and then smiled, “I actually...I got you something,” he explained, getting out of the bed.

Will watched him walk, his eyes drifting down his partner’s body.

“I know you’re working on your journal, but I wanted to make sure you had something that was just...for your memories,” Paul explained to him, taking out a bag, “I saw this downtown and thought...maybe you’d like it,” he said, handing it to him.

Will smirked, “Man, I get a experimental serum and a present in the same week?” he asked, taking the bag.

Paul rolled his eyes, “Very funny, smartass, just open it.”

Will’s smirk turned to a soft smile and he opened the bag, revealing a deep purple journal. Will knew how much these things costed, especially in the boutiques in Salem that raised their prices every holiday rather than lower them.

“Paul, this is amazing,” Will said softly, opening the book to the first page, that had writing on it.

To, Will,

I hope you remember everything. Just know that no matter what, I’m going to be by your side through it all.

Love, Paul.

“Thank you,” Will said, pulling him down onto the bed and into a close hug, “I love it, Paul.”

“And I love you,” Paul mumbled against his shoulder, holding him close.

“Love you too,” Will told him quietly.

“Hey, how about I go get us some coffee and breakfast downstairs?” Paul asked, “You only had cereal for dinner last night, you gotta be starving.”

“I’ll just take some toast and coffee,” Will said, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“Peanut butter on it?” Paul asked, untangling himself from Will and grabbing his discarded t-shirt from the floor.

“Yup,” Will said, popping his lips and grabbing his charged phone from the table, going through his messages.

“Be right back,” Paul told him, walking out of the room.

Will opened up his Instagram and lazily scrolled through it and stopped when he saw something Sami had posted. It was a selfie of herself and three teenagers. It had the caption talking about how much she loved her kids and couldn’t believe how mature they are for their age.

“Allie,” Will breathed out, scrambling to grab the new journal he’d put beside him, “J-Johnny….” he said, opening up to a new page and wrote out the date, with his sister’s full name and his half-brother’s full name. Who was his brother’s father ?

Alice Caroline Horton


  • Goes by Allie
  • My full sister, she’s Lucas and Sami’s daughter




  • My half-brother through Sami
  • Who is his father?
  • What’s his last name?


One other sibling


  • What’s her name?


Will took a shaky breath, suddenly getting a pain in his head. His hand shot up, gripping right above his ear and closing his eyes. He’d gotten headaches before, sure, but this one was pretty painful.

“Johnny...was sick,” he mumbled to himself, writing under Johnny’s name again, “I-It had something to do with his eyes ...he was so small in that hospital bed,” he felt his eyes sting, like he wanted to cry.

It finally came to him and he wrote under Johnny’s name.


  • Johnny had cancer in his eye when he was a kid.


“Will?” Paul asked, surprising him.

Will hadn’t even heard him come in.

“Headache,” Will told him quickly, tapping the page with his pen quickly, “Paul, look at this. I saw a picture Sami posted online a-and I remembered my brother and sister,” he said, handing him the notebook.

Paul put the coffee and bag on the table beside Will, taking the notebook with his free hand. Before he looked at the notebook, he opened the drawer and handed Will a bottle of Tylenol, “Here, take this, it’ll help your head.”

Will took the bottle gratefully and grabbed his water bottle, taking the pills quickly. He guzzled a bunch of water before putting the bottle down, “Paul, I have to look at more pictures,” he said quickly, “Y-You can’t give me any answers, either.”

Paul looked up from the page he was reading and nodded, “Yeah, good idea. Uh...oh,” he said, opening up his phone, “Belle posts a lot when she goes to see everyone. We can look at some of her pictures.”

“Belle is my aunt,” Will said bluntly.

Paul stared at him with wide eyes.

“Sorry,” Will sighed, “Just...remembering something that Marlena told me, I was just making sure,” he told him, “C’mon, let’s do this,” he said, grabbing his journal back, “I’m going to keep a list of everyone I get right.”

“Okay,” Paul told him, “Will, if you don’t get some of these...don’t worry about it, okay? Just you remembering Johnny and Allie is amazing .”

Will gave him a weak smile, curling close to him and looking over at his phone.

“I follow Belle’s husband too, so you’ll be able to see a lot more of your relations,” Paul told him, opening a photo, “Okay...any ideas?” he asked.

Will squinted his eyes, looking at the two people. Belle and Shawn were in the picture with the two, happy smiles on their face.

“Dad,” Will breathed out.

Paul looked up at him, “No, Will…Lucas is your dad, remember?”

“R-Right,” Will said, “I...I know them,” he said, touching the photo with his thumb, “Am I related to them?”

“You are,” Paul told him, feeling a little bit of hurt that Will couldn’t remember the people who were so important to him.

“Carrie,” Will mumbled, grabbing his book quickly, “Aunt Carrie, that’s my aunt.”

“That’s right,” Paul said excitedly, “You know the other one, I know you do. Just...think.”

Will stared down at the photo, not saying anything.

“Wait,” Paul said, getting up and grabbing a photo album that Will remembered unpacking when he moved in, “I saw…” he trailed off, flipping through the photos. He stopped when he saw a picture of the man Will didn’t know again, holding a toddler, “Here, look at this,” he said quickly, taking the old photo out.

Will took the photo, looking down at it, “Austin,” he whispered, “My uncle.”

“That’s right!” Paul said happily, “Will, you did it.”

Will smiled weakly, “I stayed with them for a Switzerland. Things were so different there, it made me feel...relaxed.”

“Yeah,” Paul said softly, “Yeah, Will, that’s right.”

Will wrote down Austin’s name under Carrie’s, a smile on his face, “I think...I think I like them.”

“From what I’ve heard, you like them a lot,” Paul told him, “We’ll have to give them a call sometime...maybe we could go for a visit.”

“I’d love that...I’d get to see Noah too,” Will mumbled and then his eyes widened, “Noah is Austin and Carrie’s baby.”

“Your cousin,” Paul added.

Will rubbed his eyes, “Paul, this is amazing,” he breathed out, writing down Noah's name, “If I can get the serum again, just imagine all the things I’ll remember.”

Paul’s smile fell slightly at that. They were lucky this time, it seemed the most Will was getting was a headache...but who knows what would happen if he took an experimental serum twice.

“Yeah,” Paul agreed, faking the enthusiasm in his voice. He pressed a kiss to the side of his head, not saying anything else.

Will squinted down at the page, “I remember a place called the Spot in Salem...we should go there,” he said suddenly.

“Never heard of it,” Paul said, taking out his phone, “But if you remember it, we should go. You might get more memories back there.”

“We can get lunch there today,” Will said, shrugging and writing it down as well, “If it’s still around, I mean.”

“Yeah, sounds like a plan,” Paul said, kissing his head again, “Ready for more pictures?”

“Hell yes,” Will smiled.

Will tilted his head, looking up at the building, his hand linked with Paul’s. There was a blinking pink sign that said THE SPOT with an open sign under it. There was heavy bass coming from the music inside that hit Will’s ears; it was familiar, but he couldn’t place it.

“Bringing back any memories?” Paul asked.

“Not...really,” Will said, still looking confused, “I thought this was a restaurant or something. It sounds like a club.”

“Guess we should go inside,” Paul said, “Maybe you have a secret stripper past I don’t know about,” he smirked, “Wouldn’t mind seeing that.”

Will shoved him playfully as they walked inside.

Suspicions confirmed; it was definitely a club. Neon lights, a bar, a few people dancing, the whole nine yards. Will assumed it might be busier at night, given it was afternoon on a Friday.

“,” Paul said simply, “ You remember coming to this place? It doesn’t really seem like your scene.”

“I think so,” Will said, scratching his head in confusion, “I definitely...remember this place-”

“Horton? Is that you?” someone called from the bar.

Will was felt with warmth upon seeing the man, despite not really knowing his name. The man had kind eyes...and big muscles. He was wearing a tight white t-shirt that THE SPOT across it in big, bold letters.

“Looks like we have a clue,” Paul nudged him before approaching the bar with him.

Will approached, looking confused, “Look, this is going to sound crazy, but I don’t really-”

“Know me?” the man interrupted, “Trust me, everyone knows that you’re back from the dead with amnesia, don’t sweat it,” he held out his hand, “I’m Neil.”

Will shook his hand and Paul did the same.

“We’re going around Salem trying to figure out some of my memories,” Will explained, “I remember this place, but...that’s kind of it,” he told Neil, “Did you know me very well?”

Neil laughed, “You could say that,” he gestured to the barstools, “Take a seat, amnesia boy, let’s talk. I’ll answer any questions you want.”

Will looked at Paul, who raised an eyebrow, waiting to see if he really wanted to do this. Will gave him a nod and sat down, Paul following his movement.

“ did you...know me?” Will asked carefully, “How did we meet?”

Neil sighed, “Well, you were friends with Sonny...not really out , y’know? Sonny brought you to this party and you just got slammed , man,” he laughed, “You looked like you weren’t doing to well, so I came to check on you, see if you needed some water or something.”

“Then what?” Will asked, his cheeks turning slightly red, like he knew where this was going.

“Then we made out,” Neil smirked slightly, but it wasn’t a malicious one, “Sonny interrupted us and you ran off.”

“Oh my god,” Will groaned, hiding his face with his hands.

“Hey, nothing to be ashamed about,” Neil said, laughing a little, “Public intoxication happens in Salem way more than you think, buddy.”

“Did we…?” Will trailed off weakly.

“,” Neil shook his head, “We just hung out here mostly,” he shrugged, “Sonny didn’t like me too much, really. He thought I was a bad influence on you.”

Paul had to roll his eyes at that. God forbid Will have other gay friends or interests outside of Sonny, even back in the day.

“So, I kinda showed you the gay scene around Salem. It’s not that big, really. Most of the guys around here are stuck up jackasses ,” Neil shrugged, “Trust me, I’ve dated several.”

Will felt like he was zoning out all the sudden, remembering Sonny’s friends. He didn’t remember their names, just remembered that they made him feel pretty bad about himself.

Will slipped his hand into Paul’s under the bar.

“I think the last time we had a real conversation was at the police station, really,” Neil told him, “After you and Sonny got together, I didn’t really get to see you much after that.”

“The police station?” Will asked.

“Yeah,” Neil sighed, “Look, like I said, you weren’t really out. We didn’t date or anything, but I cared about you. I considered us friends. You were…” he trailed off and sighed, “You were trying to take the rap for Stefano DiMera’s supposed death because you couldn’t provide an alibi for the night he was shot. You didn’t really want people to know you were here with me,” he shrugged, “So, when I heard what you were doing, I couldn’t let you do that to yourself. I went to the police station and I was your alibi for that night.”

Will winced slightly.

“Everything hit the papers the next day that you were cleared, but it also revealed where you were and, in turn, who you were,” Neil shrugged, “I felt bad, but I don’t regret it.”

Will closed his eyes, remembering hugging Neil in front of his grandfather, Roman, at the station. He remembered their last words to each other.

“Call me.”

“I will.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I remember you,” Will said softly, “I didn’t know you worked here though.”

“New thing,” Neil shrugged, “I go part time between here and I inherited an apartment building from my dad, so I’m the landlord there. Had to support myself eventually, I guess.”

“Oh, uh...this is Paul,” Will said, gesturing to him, “My partner.”

“Neil,” Neil said simply, shaking Paul’s hand again, “I used to watch you play. Will here was a huge fan of your muscles.”

“What?!” Will croaked out.

“Oh yeah,” Neil said, “We went back to my apartment one night to smoke and watch the game. You had a thing for the pitcher’s muscles,” he gestured to Paul, “Him, being the pitcher...I assume he’s still pitching.”

Will’s groaned, “Oh, I definitely remember you now,” he said over Paul’s laughter.

Neil laughed as well, going to the customer that was waiting at the other end of the bar.

“You should ask him for his number,” Paul said the moment he walked away.

“Really?” Will asked, “You don’t mind?”

“Why would I mind you having a friend?” Paul snorted, “He seems like a nice guy, really. A little flirty, but…” he trailed off, shrugging, “Might be good for us to have some other gay friends in this town.”

Will smiled, pressing a kiss to his cheek as Neil walked back over. He looked up when he did, “Who was I covering for, exactly?”

“EJ DiMera, your boss...and later stepdad,” he explained, “Pretty sure that was your gay awakening, really.”

“What?!” Will demanded, choking on the air he was breathing.

“You were, like, seventeen. Hot, tall dude in a position of power? I wouldn’t blame you,” Neil shrugged, “You even told me that you thought he was hot when we were drunk once.”

Will just groaned again, resting his head on the bar and ignoring the laughter of both Neil and Paul.

“Look, we all have our embarrassing moments during that time,” Neil shrugged, “I had a thing for my tutor when I was fifteen, trust me.”

“Too much information, Neil,” Will laughed weakly, sitting up.

Neil smiled at him, Will smiled back.

“Hey, I, uh...obviously got a new phone,” Will shrugged, “Can I have your number? I swear I’ll call this time,” he joked weakly.

“Oh, sure,” Neil said, taking the phone from Will and putting his number in, “I could use some more friends anyways. All the people around here give me a headache.”

Will smiled at him, “Well, uh...we should get going. It was really nice to see you, Neil,” he told him, “Thanks for everything.”

“No problem,” Neil told him, still smiling as they got up to leave, “Call me this time, will ya, Horton?”

“I will,” Will laughed.

“Don’t lie to me,” Neil called as they walked out the door.

Will took out his journal the moment they were back in Paul’s car, writing down Neil’s name. He didn’t really know what their relationship used to he put what he wanted them to be now.

Neil Hultgren (a friend)

“I can’t believe you used to have a gay club phase,” Paul said, still laughing a little, “And that you thought I was hot.”

Will rolled his eyes, “Everyone with eyes knows that you’re hot, Narita,” he grumbled, sinking in his seat with his cheeks still a little red.

“Hey, I think it’s cute,” Paul said, leaning over and kissing his cheek, “It’s cute that we were meant to be together.”

Will gave him a soft smile, putting his journal back in his bag, “You sure you won’t mind me being friends with Neil?”

“Why would I?” Paul asked, starting up the car.

“We just...we have a history,” Will mumbled, fidgeting with his plaid button up awkwardly.

“Neil’s in the past,” Paul said, pulling the car out of the parking lot of the Spot, “You love me and I love you. That’s what matters, right?”

Will smiled, putting his head on Paul’s arm as they drove back home, “Can I say something?”

“Always,” Paul said immediately.

“He was a good kisser,” Will snickered.

Paul just laughed as well.

Chapter Text

When Will woke up the next day, Paul was looking at him again. He had his laptop in his lap, but his dark eyes were focused on him. Will gave him a sleepy smile, “Hey,” he told him.

“Hey,” Paul said, leaning down and kissing him on his head, “How are you feeling?”

“Good,” Will told him, sighing, “Nothing new, really. I just...did  you know I have a fear of tigers?” he asked, laughing a little, “But other than that, it’s all the same. No headache this morning though.”

“Good, good,” Paul told him, sighing as well, “I have to go into work today. But if you need anything , don’t hesitate to text me, okay?”

“Okay,” Will crossed his arms, “But, I have a suggestion.”

“What’s that?” Paul raised an eyebrow.

“Skip work, stay in bed with me all day,” Will said, making grabby hands at him, “I’ll make it worth your while, trust me.”

Paul laughed fully this time, “As adorable as you are and as much as I’m sure you would make it worth both our whiles, I have stuff to do today. I have to help my dad get this dirt on Leo before Sonny’s trial.”

“I guess you’re right,” Will sighed, “I need to finalize editing on his side of the story before I submit it anyways. I might go out and try to get some of my memories back too,” he explained.

Paul groaned, getting up and stretching his arms as he did, doing his usual stretches that kept his bad arm from getting sore.

Will watched him appreciatively.

Paul glanced over and rolled his eyes, “Stop checking me out and get ready.”

Will chuckled and got out of bed as well, going over to his dresser and picking out his usual clothes; a pair of jeans and a random plaid shirt. Half the time he didn’t even pay attention to what he was grabbing anymore since he didn’t really care...all he wore was plaid shirts, if he was honest with himself.

Will started to get dressed, having already showered with Paul last night, still watching Paul as he did. Will headed into the small bathroom off his room and started to brush his teeth and Paul came in soon after, grabbing his own toothbrush and playfully bumping his hip against Will’s to make room.

Will looked at them in the mirror, his toothbrush still in his mouth. They looked...strangely domestic. Actually, it wasn’t strange at all, when he thought about it. He always felt so calm and happy around Paul, even before they were together. Will assumed he probably felt this way before he lost his memories too, given that he’d been so drawn to Paul, from what he’s heard.

They complimented each other nicely, physically and mentally. They supported each other, their relationship was pretty healthy (compared to everyone else in Salem, if he was honest), and they just always had a good time together.

Will felt happy around Paul.

Paul spit into the sink and rinsed off his toothbrush, “What are you smiling about?”

Will spit as well and did the same, “,” he smiled slightly, putting his own away and giving Paul a minty kiss.

When Paul got to Black Patch Investigations, his father was already there.

They had rented out an office space before Paul even started working with him that was a decent size, enough room for a couple of desks, computers, and bulletin boards for all their current cases. The walls were a deep green color along with a dark hardwood floor. On top of the place being nice, the rent was a decent price that he could help his dad out now that he was working on wedding planning for his wedding to Marlena.

“‘Morning, son,” John said, looking up from the computer.

“‘Morning,” Paul said, smiling at him. He sat down at his own desk, logging into his computer as he did. He smiled slightly when his eye caught the picture on John’s desk that was beside his own; there was a recently framed picture of Will and Marlena, both smiling at the camera.

“Anything on Leo?” Paul asked when they had just fell into a comfortable silence.

“Nah, not yet,” John told him, “But we’re getting somewhere, we just have to dig a little deeper.”

Paul just nodded, opening up his browser and pulling up old Salem news articles, “Is it okay if I take the empty board on the wall?” he asked, looking at the empty case board. Right now, Leo was their main concern, given they were being paid well for the case by the Kiriakis family.

“Personal case?” John asked.

Paul nodded again, “Nothing I’m getting paid for, just something I need to look into for peace of mind,” he mumbled, looking down at the article on the computer.

John sighed, “Paul…”

“I have to keep him safe, dad,” Paul told him immediately, “What would you do if someone who tried to kill Marlena was lurking around the town you live in?”

John smiled softly at him, “Probably the same thing you’re doing right now.”

Paul hit print on the article so he could pin the mugshot that came with it to the board.


Paul had been great at baseball and he’d admit that. He was a professional, of course. But now that he had other passions in life, he was pretty sure that being an investigator was definitely one of his callings.

Maybe it just ran in his blood.

Paul looked up at the board, satisfied with himself. While they were at a standstill with Leo’s case, he was impressed that he’d managed to compile Ben’s board so quickly while just in the office. He’d found his relatives names, relationships, and victims all online.

The most notable, in Paul’s mind, being his boyfriend.

Paul touched the photo of Will that had been in the article, thinking to himself.

He couldn’t let this guy hurt someone again, especially Will. He might have the rest of Salem fooled in believing he’d changed, but Paul wasn’t going to be one of them.

“Hey,” Paul said suddenly, “I know the dad is in jail, but have you heard anything on his sister?”

“Jordan?” John asked, “Uh...transferred to a clinic in New York City.”

“I want to talk to her,” Paul told him, “Do you think that would be okay?”

“Haven’t heard from her in a while,” John explained, “Did you ever meet her at the hospital?”

“She helped with my physical therapy, yeah,” Paul explained, “I just...I think it would be good to talk to her, y’know? Maybe get a better background on Ben when they were younger, hopefully, figure out why he is the way he is...figure out the things that trigger him…” he trailed off, thinking, “You have the name of that clinic?”

“No, but she’s well respected in her field, she shouldn’t be too hard to find online,” John told him, “If we can’t figure it out, we can ask Steve to help as well. I’m sure he’d be willing on this one.”

Paul nodded, typing in her name along with PHd, hoping to get results. He did, thankfully. He found her on the New York clinic’s name that she was working at. He clicked the link and saw found her office extension and quickly wrote the clinic’s number down as well as the number he’d need.

“Got it?” John asked.

“Yeah,” Paul nodded, “Extension and all. I’m going to call her,” he said immediately, picking up the office phone on the desk. He rolled his eyes at his dad’s skeptical look, “I’ll keep it professional, don’t worry,” he said, typing in the number.

“You've reached the voicemail of New York City clinic number three. If this is an emergency, please dial 911. Our office hours are from 9 am to 8 pm, Monday through Thursday, and 9 am to 5 pm on Fridays. If you know your party’s extension number, please press two now. To leave a message, please press three-”

Paul pressed the two immediately and typed in Jordan’s extension, getting her voicemail as well. He glanced over at the clock, seeing that it was just now around eight o’clock, probably why he wasn’t getting any answers yet.

“Hello, you’ve reached Dr. Jordan Ridgeway, I’m the physiotherapist at the New York clinic. I’m currently with a patient or not in the office at the moment. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message, and I’ll get back to you.”

The line beeped and Paul cleared his throat.

“Hi, Dr. Ridgeway, this is Paul Narita, I’m with Black Patch Investigations in Salem. I’d like to speak with you, if that’s possible. It’s not an emergency, please take your time to get back to me. I hope to hear from you soon,” Paul said before leaving the office’s number along with his extension before hanging up.

“She’s a nice woman, I’m sure she’ll get back to you,” John said simply, still working, “What are you up to today?”

“I’m going to get Ben’s schedule down,” Paul explained, “I don’t want to run into him with Will around, he gets really uncomfortable with him around.”

“I’d be worried if he didn’t,” John told him, “Look, I trust Marlena’s judgement along with the place he was in...and I love her. But I don’t trust that guy after everything he did,” he took a deep breath, “Look, I’ve known Will since the time he was born...I know he’s your boyfriend but he’s also my grandson. Seeing him…” he trailed off, shaking his head, “Seeing Marlena’s reaction to it much it hurt her, how much we both missed him.

Everyone else might be able to forgive the guy, but I can’t do that.”

“I feel the same,” Paul whispered, looking down, “There is no way I’m going to trust Ben Weston.”

Will walked into Salem town square, his hand on his bag’s strap as he did. He had his laptop on him, as well as his journal.

Will took his phone from his pocket and opened up his Instagram, then looking at the people Paul followed. Will didn’t have much in the name of really...knowing his family members, but Paul did.

Will also barely knew how to use Instagram.

Will sat down on the bench, looking back at the plaque for Tom and Alice Horton with a sigh, “I wish I could remember you,” he said, touching the metal softly.

He sighed and turned back to his phone, pulling up Sami’s instagram again. He scrolled back further, until he found a picture of himself and the kids when they were younger. Will looked at the background, then the caption.

Sami had put “Finally back to see my favorite people in the world at home” as the caption. It had been posted back in 2013 and Will was on the couch of an apartment with his three siblings.

Will squinted, looking down at the photo before looking up. He looked around the square, trying to find someone that he’d met at the big Christmas party, hoping he’d find someone who could help him. He finally settled on Claire, one of the teenagers who’d been fighting at the party.

“Uh...hi,” Will said, once he’d approached the teen who was on her phone, “I don’t know if you remember me, I’m-”

“Will,” Claire smiled at him, “Yeah, you’re dating my uncle.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Will smiled at her, “So, might not know and that’s fine, I was just wondering if you might by any chance...recognize where this picture was taken? I’m trying to work on recovering some of my memories and I think it might be good for me to visit some of these places,” he said, showing her the picture on his phone.

“Oh, I think that’s Sami’s old apartment,” Claire said, “I don’t know where it is off the top of my head, but I can have my mom send you the address if you want, I’m sure she won’t mind.”

“Thank you so much,” Will told her, “Here, let me give you my number.”

Paul sat outside of the hospital in his car. He had a hat on as well as a pair of sunglasses on his face. He had followed Ben for most of the morning, from the time he woke up on the park bench he’d been sleeping on; he went to the pub for breakfast before going to Salem’s library for a while, then he went into the hospital about twenty minutes ago and he’d been in there ever since.

Paul sighed, putting his head back and texting Will.

Paul Narita: Hey, how’s your day going?

It didn’t take long for him to get a response.

Will Horton: Back at home, just waiting on your sister to text me with Sami’s old apartment address right now.

Paul Narita: Sounds like a lot of fun.

Will Horton: Bored?

Paul Narita: You must be psychic.

Will Horton: In public?

Paul raised an eyebrow.

Paul Narita: No, just me in the car.

The next thing he knew, he was sent an image.

Paul tilted his head and opened the image. He was met with a familiar shot of Will’s chest, taken from above. He licked his lips, looking down at the light trail of blond hair as well as his boyfriend’s unbuttoned pants. He had a glimpse of his boxers as well, but that was all he got.

Paul Narita: Will.

Will Horton: Have fun at work. :)

Paul Narita: Oh, very funny.

Paul was about to type another message when his phone started ringing, a call coming from Black Patch’s office. He quickly answered it.

“Hello?” Paul answered.

“Son,” John said on the line, “Steve and I put our heads together and dug into this research. We got a breakthrough on Leo. You’re going to want to hear this in person.”

“I’ll call Will and let him know,” Paul told him, “Want to meet for lunch? We can meet at the pub.”

“Sounds like a plan, I’ll see you soon,” John said before hanging up.

Will walked into the apartment complex, looking around. He didn’t really recognize anything there, but he saw the sign that indicated where the main office was and walked in. He walked up to the reception desk, waiting politely for the person who was working to look up at him.

“Hey, can I help you?” the person asked politely.

“Uh...this is going to sound kind of weird,” Will sighed, “I used to live here with my mother and siblings...I think. I’m currently suffering from...amnesia, as dramatic as it sounds,” he said, starting to ramble but he didn’t stop himself, “I was wondering if it would at all be possible for me to look at one of the apartments that would have a similar layout to the one she had?”

The girl hummed, tapping her pen, “I doubt it would be a problem, our manager is really chill, but it’s his day off,” she explained, “I’ll have to run it by him, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t agree,” she told him. She grabbed a sticky note and put the pen in front of him, “Write down your name and number, I’ll relay the message and he’ll get back to you.”

“Thank you so much,” Will said happily, writing down his name and number, “Tell the manager it’s no hurry, by the way.”

“No problem,” the girl smiled, taking the note back, “Nice meeting you,” she said, giving him a wave.

Will nodded to her, turning around and walking out. Before he could even get all the way out the door, his phone started ringing. He continued to walk as he answered the call, smiling when he saw it was Paul, “Yes, dear?”

“Hey, can you meet me and my dad at the pub ASAP?” Paul asked, “He says he and Steve got information on Leo that would look great for Sonny’s case.”

Will’s face lit up, “I’ll be right there.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t a far walk back to town square from the old apartment building, thankfully. Will wondered if that had been a selling point for Sami when she’d had the apartment, because it only took him about five minutes just to walk there.

When Will got to the pub, John and Paul were already there. He saw them in the window and smiled softly before going inside. He immediately walked up to the table and took the empty chair by Paul, giving him a kiss on the cheek as he did.

“Hey,” Paul said happily, smiling at him, “How’s your day been?”

“Tracked down an old apartment, the staff was really nice,” Will explained, “The landlord is going to call me back and might let me look at one.”

“Will has been going to old places to find some of his memories,” Paul explained to John, “We went to the Spot and he met one of his old friends.”

“Friends?” John asked.

“Neil Hultgren,” Will smiled, “He’s a really nice guy.”

John went silent.

“ he?” Will asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

“I mean, from what I’ve heard he is,” John told him, “But his family is a different story.”

“His family?” Will asked, looking over at Paul with concern.

“The Hultgren family basically runs the underground mafia around here,” John said bluntly, “Neil’s dad is kind of the head of everything, real close with the DiMera family."

“He said he inherited something from his dad, I thought that meant he was dead,” Will said, looking confused.

“Well, legally he’s dead,” John shrugged, “But does anyone ever really stay dead in Salem?”

Will sighed, shaking his head, “I guess you’re right about that,” he shrugged, “So you guys think Neil’s dad is alive somewhere?”

“We have our theories,” John sighed, “But they’ve never really bothered us, so it’s not something we keep too close of an eye on. The most they do is keep the bigger families in line as well as big businesses away from small places like the pub.”

“So mafia for a good cause?” Paul laughed.

“Pretty much,” John nodded, clearing his throat, “Anyways, Steve and I uncovered information about Leo this morning and we wanted to get it to you as soon as possible with the trial so close.”

“What did you get?” Will asked excitedly, “Is it something that could help Sonny’s case?”

John put the file onto the table, “It may be just enough to make this whole thing go away all together,” he said as Paul grabbed the file and opened it.

Will looked over at the papers, reading them with Paul.

“Leo Stark is an alias,” John explained.

Will laughed, “That’s not his real name?”

“No, his name is Matthew Cooper,” John told them both, “He’s got a sizable arrest record.”

Will stared at him with wide eyes for a moment before looking back at the file. He felt a little nervous for Sonny, especially if the guy had crimes under his belt. They certainly weren’t the best of friends but he didn’t want him getting hurt.

“For what?” Will asked.

“Says here mostly petty thefts but he was also a male escort,” Paul told him.

“He was a prostitute?!” Will demanded, trying to keep the smile off his face, “That’s great!”

“Will,” Paul laughed, just shaking his head and going back to the file.

“I mean, y’know, for Sonny’s case,” Will explained himself, rolling his eyes when he saw John holding in laughter at his comment, “You know what I mean.”

“I don’t know if it’s enough to clear Sonny,” Paul told him, “I mean, just because Leo has a shady past, doesn’t mean he wasn’t sexually harassed,” he said before explaining himself, “Look, I know we all know Sonny...and doubt he would do something like that, but until we have definitive proof that he didn’t harass Leo, we need to look at all our options here.”

“You think Leo might have actually been harassed?” Will asked, looking confused.

“I doubt it, but it’s important to look at all the angles here,” Paul told him, “We can’t just brush off these claims because it’s Sonny.”

“Well...I believe Sonny,” Will mumbled, “But, you’re probably right.”

“It might not be enough to deter the case, but it certainly proves that he’s a liar and that’s enough to plant reasonable doubt about his motives,” John told them both.

“I mean, this whole case is based on the integrity of his testimony,” Will agreed.

Paul sighed, “Why was this so hard to find? It took us weeks to uncover a simple arrest record? We can usually do this in a day. How did Leo do such a good job at covering his tracks?”

“I don’t think he set Sonny up on his own,” John said, “I think whoever made this happen has had experience at it and a ton of resources.”

“You think he had an accomplice,” Will realized, nodding.

“No, I know he did,” John told them, “I just need to find proof.”

“Okay, I need to get this file to Sonny right away,” Paul said, “He and Justin will need to use it in court tomorrow.”

“Oh, I can take it to him,” Will told him, “I was actually going over there to check on Ari anyways, since I’m kind of at a block with any memories or writing today.”

“That’s great,” Paul said, “I actually have another case I’m working on anyways, so that’s perfect,” he said, handing the blue file over to Will.

“ careful,” Will told him.

“Always am,” Paul said, giving him a smile.

“And tell Justin and Sonny if they want to go over that with me, that I’m here,” John said, “And that I’m more than happy to testify.”

“I will,” Will told him, “I’m sure they’re going to be so grateful for you help,” he said with a smile.

“Hey, that’s why we’re here,” John said, taking a drink.

“Yeah, we both just want the best for Sonny,” Paul agreed.

“Well, he’s lucky to have both of you,” Will nodded before grabbing his bag, “Okay, I’m going to go. I’ll see you later,” he said, leaning in and giving Paul a quick kiss, “I love you.”

Paul smiled, watching him get up, “Love you too.”

“Bye, John,” Will said before hurrying out.

“See you around,” John called, watching him as well.

Paul continued to watch him until he walked out the door before turning back to John, a smile on his face when he saw John’s look as well, “What?”

“That’s new!” John said with a laugh as the door closed.

Paul laughed, ducking his head, “Yeah, it is.”

“When did that happen?” John asked, honestly more excited than Paul had ever seen him.

“He told me the day he got the serum,” Paul said, unable to keep the smile off his face, “I told him that night. It’s been a thing ever since.”

John laughed, “Well, I’m happy for the two of you. It’s good to see you so happy.”

Paul just smiled, taking a drink of his coffee.

“I don’t know if I should threaten him if he hurts you, or threaten you not to hurt my grandson,” John joked.

Paul choked on his coffee.

Will got to the Kiriakis mansion quickly, excitement in his step. This could really help Sonny and make all their lives a lot easier, especially Ari’s. He knew Sonny obviously wouldn’t have told a child anything about it, but he’d noticed over the time he’d been in Salem can really sense their parents’ stress.

Will walked into the mansion, not knocking in his excitement, but stopped when he heard Sonny and Leo talking.

“The case goes to court tomorrow and I need your decision,” Leo was saying.

“My decision,” Sonny said quietly.

“Mhmm,” Leo told him, “Allow your business and your entire family to be destroyed...or marry me, make all your problems go away.”

“Okay….okay, I’ll do it. I’ll marry you.”

Yeah, Will couldn’t just stand there. Sonny was supposedly an intelligent guy but here he was about to marry a con-artist who’s plan sounded so dumb it would be on a soap opera.

“What?” Will demanded, walking in. He tried not to laugh, “You’re going to marry this loser?”

“Stay out of this, Will,” Leo said, walking in front of Sonny, “It’s none of your business.”

Will laughed, “None of my business? Sonny is one of Ari’s parents, she lives here , Sonny is my friend. If you actually think I’m going to stand here and let you do this, you’re crazier than I thought...and that’s saying something,” he added before turning to look at Sonny, “You can’t be serious.”

“You heard him,” Leo said, “He wants to marry me and we’re doing it now, I have a number for the justice of the peace.”

“Oh, cool, what name is going to be on the marriage certificate, Matthew?” Will asked bluntly.

“What?” Sonny asked.

“Stop,” Leo cut him off, “Will, you aren’t invited, get out of here.”

“Sonny-” Will started.

“Please, Will, you don’t understand-” Sonny started.

“I understand that you have lost your mind,” Will said, still looking at him in shock, “You can’t be serious about all of this.”

“No, you need to stay out of this,” Sonny said slowly, like he was talking to a child.

“Like hell I’m staying out of this!” Will yelled, “And stop talking to me like I’m an idiot! I’m not going to let you throw your life away by letting you marry this son of a bitch!” he snapped, finally talking over Sonny for probably the first time since Memphis, surprising the other man into silence.

“Look, nobody asked for your opinion,” Leo said, “You left Sonny and broke his heart, you have no say in this matter.”

Will rolled his eyes, “I didn’t break his heart. Do you know how stupid you and everyone else in this town sounds when you say that?” he asked, making eye contact with Sonny briefly as he spoke, “Would you really like to stay with someone who doesn’t return your feelings? And don’t answer that, because you’re obviously about to force him into marrying you when you’ve made his life hell for the past few weeks.

Me staying with him wasn’t fair to Sonny, it wasn’t fair to Arianna, and it wasn’t fair to me . So don’t bring that up, Matthew .”

The name finally snapped Sonny out of his trance as he stared at Wil, “What is he talking about? Why does he keep calling you Matthew?”

“Take a look at this file, see what Black Patch found out about this guy,” Will said, taking it out of his page and shoving it into Sonny’s hands, “Right now. Don’t say ‘later’, don’t act like I’m being hysterical, read it now , Sonny.”

Sonny opened the file, still shocked by Will’s sudden backbone towards him as he read.

“This is a trick,” Leo said desperately, “He’s bluffing, look at him he’s just...being hysterical and trying to get you to stop this wedding because he regrets what he did-”

One; I’m not bluffing . Two; I don’t regret a thing about what I did,” Will snapped at him, “So shut your damn mouth, Matthew. Let him see the person you truly are.”

Sonny read everything in shock, “What?”

“Yeah, Leo’s not even his real name,” Will said, satisfied that Sonny was finally acting sane again, “His name is Matthew Cooper; he has an arrest record and he was a prostitute.”

Sonny finished reading before staring at Will in shock. He closed the file and turned back to Leo, “Well, I guess we’ll be holding off on sending out those wedding invitations.”

“You weren’t going to send out invitations, you were going to do it here where no one could interrupt you,” Will deadpanned.

“It was a joke, Will,” Sonny sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“This doesn’t change anything,” Leo said, starting to get flustered, “I had another name, who cares.”

Will studied his body language and he could tell if anyone in the room was getting hysterical, it was Leo. He slipped out his phone once he was sure Leo was focusing on his conversation with Sonny.

Time to call for backup.

Will Horton: Kiriakis mansion, ASAP, SOS

Will put his phone back away, going to back to the conversation that was unfolding, “You’re a criminal,” he deadpanned.

“A couple of petty thefts? That doesn’t mean I wasn’t sexually harassed,” Leo/Matthew/whatever his name was said.

“No, but it proves you’re a liar,” Sonny said, snorting.

“What kind of jackass lies about this?” Will demanded, “You know, there are actually people in the world being harassed that are scared to come forward and you do something like this?” he snorted, shaking his head, “Then you expect to blackmail Sonny into marrying you?”

Leo ignored Will, “Are you changing your mind about marrying me?”

Will burst into laughter, “No, he’s just deciding what name he should put on the wedding invites,” he said sarcastically.

“This is going to be bad for you, if this comes out,” Sonny told Leo.

“How bad is it going to be for you, Sonny? Blaming the victim?” Leo asked, “This is not going to save you the way marrying me will.”

Will rolled his eyes, “Yeah, you’re unhinged.”

“This has opened my eyes,” Sonny said, “Will is right; you’re a loser and a con-artist. I’m not going to marry someone like you.”

“So you’re going to let your whole business go up in flames; allow your business and family to be destroyed?” Leo demanded.

“I mean, they’ve done worse, probably,” Will said under his breath.

“I’ll take my chances in court,” Sonny said, glaring at Leo and ignoring Will’s comment, “Matthew. Because I could rather be honest than spend my life with you. Matter of fact, I don’t want to spend another minute with you.”

Now, Will would later admit, he probably shouldn’t have been making as many comments during this serious moment as he did. But, it just felt so good to get justice for once, to see his friend acting rational and basically telling this loser to fuck off.

So he had to egg it on a little bit, if he was honest.

“Well,” Will said, walking forward, “You heard the man. So why don’t you get the hell out, before I throw you out.”

And that’s when things went south pretty fast.

Will didn’t remember what Leo had said, but his hands wrapped around his neck and Will froze.

Memories flooded back into his brain, despite Will kind of wanting them to stop for the first time. Any other time, he’d welcome the memories, but this time, things were different; this wasn’t something he wanted to know, this was Ben.

This was dying .

He was remembering dying at the hands of Ben Weston.

Time slowed down around Will; he remembered being in Ben and Abigail’s apartment, the red flashing light out the window. He was waiting on someone...the cable guy, maybe?

He was alone .

He was so alone.

Ben took pleasure in killing him, Will knew that but he didn’t know why. He did it slowly too, practically playing with him.

Will knew that it was Ben.

Ben was the one who killed all the others.

Ben was the one who was going to kill him.

Ben killed him.

Will’s ears were ringing, but he heard Sonny yelling at Leo to let him go.

It didn’t feel like falling asleep, dying, for him at least; but that was probably given the circumstances.

Will Horton had died alone, scared, and at the hands of someone he was supposed to be able to trust.

The hands released him and he was back in the Kiriakis mansion, his ears still ringing.

He watched as Sonny threw Leo and Leo stumbled into the fireplace, hitting his head and falling to the floor with a thud.

And Will didn’t care, not right now at least.

Sonny was talking to him, but Will couldn’t hear him over the ringing. He was checking him over, trying to get Will to move his hands from protecting his neck so he could see the damage, if anything.

“-okay? Will? Are you okay?” Sonny asked desperate when the ringing finally, stopped, “Talk to me, please-”

“Oh my god,” a familiar voice said, cutting them off.

Will turned and looked, Paul was standing in the doorway of the room.

Will didn’t stop himself when he ran over and hugged him as tightly as he could, breathing heavily.

“Will? Hey, focus for me,” Paul said, trying to get his attention in a softer voice, “Will, babe, come on-”

Will just shook his head, refusing to let go. He buried his head in Paul’s chest and let out a sob, one of his hands still on his neck.

“What the hell happened?!” Paul yelled at Sonny.

“I-I didn’t mean to kill him, I didn’t-” Sonny was panicking, “He grabbed Will’s neck, he-”

“Christ,” Paul breathed out, “Will, I’m going to pull your hand away, okay. I just need to make sure he didn’t do any damage.”

Will shook his head, not moving.

“Okay, okay,” Paul told him, his voice soothing as ever, “Sonny, call the cops.”

“What?! No,” Sonny said quickly, “Paul, do you know how this looks-”

“Yeah, it looks like you stopped someone from strangling Will-” Paul winced when Will let out another sob, “-in self-defense. The Salem PD will rule it a self-defense and everything will be fine.”

“Paul,” Sonny said desperately, tears in his eyes.

“Will, where’s your phone? I left mine in the car,” Paul said, despite knowing he probably wouldn’t get a response. He felt around on Will’s pockets before he finally found it and quickly called 911, using his free hand to rub soothing circles on Will’s back as he talked on the phone.

“Paul-” Sonny tried again.

“Hi, this is Paul Narita, I’m going to need the police and an ambulance to the Kiriakis mansion,” he said over the phone, “There’s been a murder.”

Paul was sitting on the steps with Will when the police arrived five minutes later; it was Hope and Roman, thankfully. Sonny was leaning on the wall outside the doorway, obviously in shock.

Will still hadn’t spoke.

“Will?!” Roman demanded, running over to him with Hope.

“It was Leo,” Paul explained, “We uncovered some information that would be bad for his case, Will brought it over here and Leo attacked him...all I got was a text from him telling me to come here, that’s all I know. Talk to Sonny, body is in the living room,” he mumbled.

“Will, sweetheart, let me see,” Hope said, touching the hand covering his neck softly, “The EMTs are here, they’re going to want to take you to the hospital to get this checked out.”

Will took a shaky breath, “I remember Ben,” he whispered, surprising everyone in the room.

“What?” Sonny demanded.

Will didn’t say anything.

Hope swallowed, nodding, “We’ll swing by later to get your statement later, Will,” she said before going over to talk to Sonny with Roman.

Will put his head on Paul’s shoulder as the EMTs came in.

The ride to the hospital was a blur; all Will remembered was being told to lay down in the ambulance, Paul sitting beside him along with a cute EMT in a blue uniform checking his vitals and trying to get him to talk before telling Paul that he thought Will was in shock.

Will didn’t remember much, if he was honest. The next thing he knew was that he was in a hospital room, lying in bed with his Aunt Kayla checking over his neck and trying to get him to focus.

“Ben killed me,” Will rasped out, “H-He didn’t even feel bad. Why did you guys let him out?” he demanded, not caring that he sounded hysterical.

Kayla gave Paul a look, tears in her eyes. Will couldn’t blame her, it was probably hard for her to see him like this, given that they were family.

“I’m going to tell Marlena to come here,” Paul told her, reassuring her silently that he’d be making sure Will would get help for the mental anguish he was currently in.

Whenever Kayla told Paul something and left, Paul was on the edge of his bed, pulling him into his arms. Will just relaxed against him, not saying a word.

Paul held Will close, silently regretting ever supporting Will getting the serum...silently cursing Sonny for being reckless...silent cursing Leo for existing.

Paul enjoyed seeing Will happy getting all his memories back, sure, he didn’t regret that part. He just regretted the state Will was currently, now remembering what Ben did to him.

“Oh, son,” someone said suddenly.

Paul looked up and saw John in the doorway. He gave him a weak smile, “Hey,” he said, before mouthing, “Ben,” at John, who quickly put the pieces together.

John sighed, “How you feelin’, kid?” he asked Will, “Your grandma is on her way and your aunt says you can leave tonight, if you’re feeling up to it.”

“Crummy,” Will said bluntly, “I’m getting pretty sick of people grabbing my neck when I don’t ask them to,” he grumbled, pressing his face against Paul’s chest again, “And I really hate being in the hospital,” he added.

“Well, once Marlena gets here, we’ll give you both a ride home,” John told them, trying to keep the mood light, “She told me to let you know it’s your turn on Words With Friends.”

Will huffed, “She played amphibology last time,” he looked up at Paul, “How am I going to beat that?”

“Beats me,” Paul said, trying to give him a smile and handing him his phone.

Will just hummed in thanks, opening up the app and not saying anything else.

Paul made eye contact with John who was now sitting down on the couch in the room, watching them. He quickly went back to holding Will and looking down at his phone, not saying anything.

It would be a long road to recovery ahead of them.

Chapter Text

Will was sure if he was little more calm and if the events of the day hadn’t happened, he’d be asleep right now. He was lying in the hospital bed, leaning his back on Paul’s chest while Paul played with his hair. Maybe if they were at home, he could be asleep.

Will wished he was asleep

He wished he’d never gotten out of bed this morning.

Will turned, burying his face in Paul’s chest, holding his shirt and not saying anything

“How you feeling?” Paul asked quietly, looking down at him.

Will just shrugged, closing his eyes and trying to relax for a moment. But he suddenly felt someone grabbing his shoulders and shoving him against the wall, hands rucking up his shirt.

Will’s eyes shot open with a gasp and he looked around the room.

“Will?” Paul asked.

He was still in the same place as before...Will was still lying on him.

“What happened?” Paul asked again, “Will?”

“A memory...I think,” Will said, looking confused down at his shirt, “I, uh...don’t remember...what else…”

“It’s okay,” Paul assured him, “Don’t push yourself too hard right now, yeah? You don’t look so good.”

“Gee, thanks,” Will said sarcastically, making John snicker.

“You know what I mean,” Paul mumbled, eying the bruises on his neck.

“Mhmm,” Will said simply, lying back on Paul again but not closing his eyes this time.

What was that? Will thought to himself.

“Will?” Marlena called, walking into the room quickly. She froze when she saw the bruises on Will’s neck, her hand going up to her heart. She seemed to be in shock.

“I’m okay,” Will whispered, “Sonny, uh...Sonny stopped him.”

“Oh, my sweet boy,” Marlena cried, walking over and pulling him into a tight hug, “What happened ?”

“Can, uh...we have a moment alone?” Will asked, looking at Paul, “Maybe you could find me a snack or something? I forgot breakfast this morning.”

“Yeah,” Paul looked over at his dad, “Hey, let’s get a coffee too.”

“Good plan,” John said, leaving the room with him, Paul giving Will a last lingering look as the door closed.

“I remembered Ben killing me,” Will blurted out immediately, “I could have remembered anything else in my life, but that’s what I remember. What does that say about my luck?” he demanded, looking up at Marlena from where he was lying in the bed, “I’m getting really tired of having bruises on my neck that aren’t-” he cut himself off, remembering who he was talking to.

He wasn’t about to make a sex joke to his grandma .

Marlena sighed, “Sweetheart-”

“A-And then, I’m just laying here and trying to chill out and then…” he trailed off, looking down awkwardly.

“What is it?” Marlena asked gently, not wanting to push.

“It was just this...weird flash,” Will explained, “I was lying here with Paul just trying to relax and I remembered someone pushing me...but that’s it.”

“Anything else?” Marlena asked, looking confused, “Do you remember where you were? Do you remember who did it?”

“No,” Will said quietly, “Just that they, uh...were pushing up my shirt. I didn’t like it,” he said, his cheeks heating up slightly. He groaned and rubbed his eyes, a little aggressively, he’d admit.

“I just wish I could remember . I want to remember the things I want to, not…” he trailed off and sighed, looking down.

“Sweetheart,” Marlena said, sitting down beside him, “Do you remember how excited you were for this serum? Or when you had your first memory of your family?”

“Yeah,” Will said quietly, messing with his hands with a small smile on his face now, “I remembered Johnny and Allie’s names...I was so happy,” he laughed weakly.

“So hold onto those memories,” Marlena told him, putting her arm around him and pulling him into a hug, “You have to take the good with the bad, but you don’t have to focus on the bad,” she told him, “A terrible thing happened to you, Will...but that’s not all that happened to you. You have a family that loves you, friends that love you, and a daughter that loves you...and they’re all waiting for the day you remember them.”

Will hugged her back, holding onto her tightly.

“Please remember something,” Marlena’s voice echoed in his head, “I will never, ever judge you. I just want you to be happy.”

Will knew it was a memory, but he didn’t want to say anything...not yet. He would tell her another time when there was less going on in their lives. He would tell her when things were more clear and he could get a better picture.

He was tired of disappointing people by not remembering them, especially when he remembered the bad things

Focus on the good things, Will thought to himself, Good things.

“Careful getting up,” Paul said, once he and John were back in the room. He was helping Will up, like he was going to break if he moved too much.

“It’s my neck, not my entire body, Paul,” Will laughed weakly, “I can walk.”

“Hey, if it was up to me, I’d be carrying you out of here,” Paul told him, grabbing both their bags and tossing John his keys, “Dad is gonna get my car from the mansion and your grandma said she’d give us a ride back home.”

“You guys don’t have to do that,” Will sighed.

“We just want you two to get home safe,” John told them with a smile.

Will had to admit he felt like a little kid, sitting in the beackseat with his grandmother driving, despite the passenger seat being entirely empty at the moment. He just really, really didn’t want to be away from Paul right now.

He had his memory journal out, writing in it, despite knowing Paul could see what he was writing. He didn’t care, wasn’t a secret.

He never wanted to keep a secret from Paul.

“Please remember something. I will never, ever judge you. I just want you to be happy.” - Marlena said this to me once, I think her saying the word “remember” triggered something

I remembered Ben killing me today. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that.

I remembered someone grabbing me and shoving me against a wall. I want to look into this’s concerning. They pushed up my shirt, not really a fan of it.

“Hey, whoa, whoa,” Paul said quickly, looking down at the page, “What’s that all about?”

“I don’t know,” Will said honestly, “When I know...I’ll let you know,” he told him, looking up at him and closing the book and shoving it back into his bag. He put his head on Paul’s shoulder as they turned down their road to the apartment. He pursed his lips, “Hey, grandma? Do you think you could get us Austin or Carrie’s phone number?” he asked suddenly.

“Oh, no problem,” Marlena told him, not taking her eyes off the road, “I have Carrie’s number in my phone, I’ll send it to you as soon as we stop,” she paused, “Did you...remember something about them?”

“I really love them,” Will said quietly, ducking his head, “I remembered Switzerland and may have...accidentally called Austin my dad when I saw the picture.”

Marlena just hummed, “He was always like a father-figure to you, Will, it’s nothing to worry about.”

“I just feel so awful and I don’t know why,” Will choked out, looking up at her, “Grandma...did I always feel like this?”

Marlena pursed her lips, glancing up in the mirror, “Yes, sweetheart, you did.”

“Well,” Will sighed, leaning on Paul again, “I don’t like it.”

Paul just rubbed his shoulder, sending a worried look to Marlena in the mirror.

“Thank you, again,” Paul said, leaning in the doorway.

Marlena glanced over to where Will was sitting on the bed, his journal in his lap as he wrote, “Make sure he gets some sleep, okay?”

“I will,” Paul told them, a weak smile.

“Let us know if you need anything ,” John told him, “Don’t hesitate to call us, anytime.”

Paul nodded, giving both of them a hug and receiving a kiss on the cheek from Marlena before closing the door. He turned to Will and sighed, “How you feeling?” he asked immediately, crossing his arms.

“Fine,” Will said simply, not looking up from his journal.

Paul walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, “Will,” he said, looking down at the journal, “I know you want to write, but can you please talk to me?” he asked. He noticed Will was just writing in his journal, not his memory journal. If he’d been working on his memory journal, Paul probably wouldn’t have interrupt him.

Will ducked his head, “I expected bad memories, I just didn’t expect them to be this bad,” he said, closing his journal, “I remember dying Paul. I remember Ben Weston playing around with me until he finally got bored and wrapped his hands around my neck. I remember not being able to breathe .”

Paul stared at him, before finally finding his voice again, “Will, I’m so sorry.”

“I was alone,” Will whispered, “I-I felt so alone , Paul-” he said, choking out a sob.

Paul immediately wrapped his arms around him, holding him close while he cried, “You aren’t alone now, aren’t,” he said, pulling away. He put his hands on his cheeks, wiping his tears away, “Come on, let’s get ready for bed and lay down.”

Will didn’t move.

“Will, c’mon,” Paul said, rubbing his shoulder.

Will sighed, finally getting up and going to the bathroom.

Paul pulled Will close to him once they were in bed. He wanted to be close to him right now, especially with Will talking about...everything. He couldn’t imagine his life without him now.

He couldn’t imagine anything happening to him again.

Will huffed and turned over so he was facing him, leaving Paul’s arm over his face, “Paul...I need you to answer something for me.”

“Shoot,” Paul told him.

“This is probably…” Will trailed off before deciding on the word, “An irrational fear. But i-if my memories start fading away again...don’t let that happen.”

“That won’t happen,” Paul told him firmly, “We’ll work on your memories everyday, if that’s what you want.”

Will gave him a weak smile, pressing a quick kiss to his lips, “I love you, Paul.”

“I love you too,” Paul told him, leaning over and turning off the lamp, “Let’s get some sleep, yeah? It’s been a long day.”

“Too long,” Will sighed, relaxing onto the comfortable bed and closing his eyes, relaxing in his boyfriend’s arms.

When Will woke up, it was slightly light outside. He felt someone shaking him and a hand on his arm. He opened his eyes and saw Paul staring down at him in concern.

“What?” Will demanded, voice full of sleep.

“You…” Paul trailed off, “Will, you were thrashing were crying in your sleep.”

Will swallowed, rubbing his eyes and taking a shaky breath. He sat up in bed and took a deep breath through his nose, breathing it out of his mouth.

“You were tossing and turning all night,” Paul said quietly, “I didn’t want to wake you, but when I saw you crying…” he trailed off.

“Sorry,” Will sighed, “I...I actually don’t remember what I was dreaming about,” he said, looking confused. He wiped the tears away, “I don’t...feel sad or scared or anything,” he glanced at the clock and sighed, “Paul, it’s six in the morning, go back to sleep.”

Paul sighed, “Will, I’m not going back to sleep when you just woke up crying.”

“Look, I’m not going to be able to go back to sleep, but you should. I’m just...gonna go write for a while, okay?” he tried, “I might see if anywhere is open yet to get us some breakfast,” he said, leaning down and pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“Will-” Paul started.

“Look, I’m going to get you pancakes, stop it,” Will told him, giving him a weak smile. He grabbed Paul’s sweatshirt from the floor and walked out the door, not caring if he was still in his pair of pajama pants.

He honestly didn’t care what Salem thought of him.

He wondered how that would have made Old Will feel. Old Will, who was sad all the time...who was insecure and worried all the time.

“Love you,” Paul called.

“Love you too,” Will called back before closing the door.

Will wandered through townsquare, shuffling his feet as he did. He doubted anywhere would be open at this point, but he just needed some fresh air.

He looked down at his phone and saw the message from Marlena from last night...she had sent him both Austin and Carrie’s numbers. Will bit his lip, debating for a moment. He typed in the current time in Switzerland, where he knew they lived, and saw it was already afternoon there, given the time difference.

And he hit Austin’s number, shakily putting the phone up to his ear and listening to the sound of the two phones trying to connect. He sat down on the couch slowly, shoving his free hand into his pocket.

It didn’t take long for him to answer.

“Austin Reed speaking,” he answered.

Will froze up, not sure what to say.

“Hello?” the man tried again.

“Hi,” Will managed to choke out, “Hi, Austin, it’s,’s Will.”

“Will?” Austin demanded, “Will, christ, how are you?”

“I mean...alive,” Will whispered, “I don’t know if Marlena told you a-anything were one of the first people I remembered,” he said, his eyes filling with tears, “I remembered you and Aunt Carrie and Noah so fast, Austin,” he said, wiping his eyes quickly.

“We wanted to come and visit you, but we heard about you not having your memories,” Austin explained, “We didn’t want to push things with you. W-We’ll be on the soonest flight to Salem. Just wait until Carrie hears-”

“You don’t have to-” Will started.

“Kid, I do. We both do...we have to see you’re okay,” Austin told him, “So cut the stubborn act and admit that you want to see us.”

Will smiled weakly, “I do.”

“Cool, then we’ll be there soon,” Austin said over the line, “So...catch me up on life, what’s been going on with you?”

“Well…” Will trailed off.

Chapter Text

“Okay, I admit I’m glad I couldn’t stop you from leaving now,” Paul said around a mouthful of pancakes from the Brady Pub.

Will just laughed, eating his own. He cleared his throat and smiled at Paul, “Guess who I talked to?”

“Who?” Paul asked, finally looking away from his food.

“My Uncle Austin,” Will said excitedly, “They were putting off visiting because they didn’t want to push my memories, but Austin says they’re leaving as soon as they can now to come and see me,” he said quickly.

“Will, that’s amazing,” Paul said, a smile on his face as well, “I can’t wait to meet him.”

Someone knocked on the door.

“Austin here already?” Paul joked, continuing to eat his pancakes.

Will sighed and got out of bed before jogging over and opening the door to reveal Neil.

“Hey, buddy,” Neil said, eyeing his neck, “Heard through the grapevine you had a guy grabbing your neck again and wanted to see how you were doing.”

“It happened yesterday ; how did you hear already?” Will sighed, crossing his arms.

“Gossip moves fast, especially when it involves a dead body in a big family’s living room,” Neil said, shrugging, “So, I’ll repeat; how are you doing?”

“Fine, I guess,” Will pursed his lips, “Wanna come in? I made coffee and we have a few extra pancakes from the pub we haven’t hate.”

“Speak for yourself,” Paul called, his mouth full again.

Will rolled his eyes, “ I have a few.”

“Yeah, sounds cool,” Neil smiled at him, following him inside and taking a seat at Will’s desk, it being the only open place to sit besides, well, the bed...and while Neil loved breaking boundaries with his friend, he wasn’t about to get into bed with Will and Paul.

Will went to get him a cup of coffee.

“Oh, hey, by the way, just let me know when you want to look at that apartment,” Neil called to Will.

Will whipped around, “ What ?” he demanded.

“Part-Time landlord,” Neil waved his hand, “I split it with one of my uncles. But just come by Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and you can even see the exact one Sami Brady used to live in. It’s empty right now.”

“Do you just have something to do with everything in Salem?” Paul laughed as he got up, stretching as he did. He took his plate to the sink, giving Will a kiss as he did.

“Basically,” Neil said simply, eating his own pancakes now, “I mean, it’s more of an...underground business, it’s not really prominent like Titan or anything,” he shrugged, “It’s inherited.”

“Yeah, we’ve heard,” Will told him, handing him a cup of coffee, “You do realize that Paul’s dad is John Black , right? He told us about your dad.”

“Yeah, my dad was a good guy though,” Neil said simply, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Uh-huh,” Will said, rolling his eyes despite Neil looking right at him, “Hey, I’m off today but Paul has to go into work-”

“Will-” Paul started.

Paul is definitely going into work because I’ll be fine,” Will said firmly and looked at Neil, “But he might feel better if someone is hanging around with me. Are you busy today? We could hang out for a while...i-if you want, I mean.”

“Sounds great,” Neil told him and looked at Paul, “Look, go to work. I’ll make sure we call you if he so much as coughs.”

Will rolled his eyes again.

Paul studied the two before sighing, “Yeah...yeah, okay,” he walked over and started to go through his dresser to find something to wear.

“Okay, Horton, prepare to get your ass kicked at Mario Kart because you’re dealing with the champ,” Neil pointed at him.

Paul came out of the bathroom from getting dressed only to see Neil and Will already playing Mario Kart on the TV, screaming at each other. Part of him worried if he should leave the two alone, given Will was trying to hit Neil with his controller, but they both seemed to be laughing and friendly with each other...and that was something he really wanted for Will.

Before Paul could say anything, there was another knock at the door. He looked at the two sitting on the floor, who didn’t move at all at the sound of the door.

Paul rolled his eyes, “Don’t worry, I’ll get it,” he said, going over to the door and opening it, “Yeah?”

Sonny was there.

“Hi, I...wanted to see how Will was doing,” Sonny said, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, “I got released this morning and they deemed Leo’s murder self-defense.”

“Oh, I’m sure they did that because the law was on your side,” Neil snorted from beside Will, “It has nothing to do with your big, scary family.”

Sonny stared at him and then looked at Paul, “What the hell?” he demanded.

Paul shrugged, “Will remembered Neil, they’re hanging out today because I need to go to work. I don’t want to leave Will alone after everything.”

“Why didn’t you call me?” Sonny demanded.

“Oh yeah, because the guy who keeps trying to harass him about his memories so he’ll get to fuck him again is the perfect person to leave him with,” Neil said, not looking away from the screen.

Paul pursed his lips, “Neil, c’mon, man,” he sighed, ever the peacemaker.

Sonny stared at the two before grabbing Paul’s arm and pulling him out of the room.

“Something I said?” Neil asked, causing Will to snicker.

“What the hell, Sonny?” Paul demanded when he shut the door.

“Neil...he’s bad news, Paul,” Sonny said quickly, “You need to keep an eye on him, especially around Will. H-He...His family is bad news too. You know he comes from a mafia family?”

“You know you basically come from a mafia family too, right?” Paul snapped. Neil being around had made Will happy and he seemed nice enough, especially if his father didn’t see a reason to even get involved with the Hultgren family.

“That’s…” Sonny sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, “Look, that’s not the point. He has a thing for makes him obviously uncomfortable.”

“Oh yeah, he looks absolutely miserable,” Paul crossed his arms, “Look, Sonny...Will is...dealing with it. I have to go to work.”

“You’re going to trust him alone with him?! After everything?!” Sonny demanded.

“YES!” Paul snapped, “He’s not a child. He’s an adult and he’s my boyfriend.”

“He’s my-” Sonny started.

“He’s nothing to you, Sonny,” Paul said quickly, taking a shaky breath, “Why can’t you just realize that he doesn’t remember you ? He’s not on some great journey to remember you either! He wants to remember his family! He wants to remember his daughter! Stop making everything about you!” he snapped and took a deep breath, “Sorry,” he said immediately, “Sorry, I’m just really stressed with Ben around-” he blurted out.

“, you’re right,” Sonny sighed, “And you have ever right to be stressed about Ben,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, “Look, just...I’m here if you need me...and my family is here if you need them to do anything about Ben Weston,” he told him before giving him a weak smile and walking away.

Paul watched after him, confusion written all over his face.

“Enjoy getting bitched out by Sonny?” Neil asked when he heard the door open.

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Paul said, walking over and kissing the side of Will’s head, “I’m off to work, okay? Call if you need anything.”

“Will do,” Will said, finally looking away from the TV and looking up at him, pointing at his lips.

Paul laughed, leaning down again.

Will leaned up and met him halfway for the kiss, “See you later,” he told him, smiling, “We’ll be here.”

Paul nodded, patting Neil on the shoulder before walking out.

“Hey, son, what’s on the list today?” John asked when he saw Paul walk in.

“I have a phone meeting with Jordan Ridgeway,” Paul said, giving him a smile, “And then...I guess we’re going to be working on our other cases, since there isn’t really...a Leo case anymore.”

“Well, that all depends,” John told him, “I got a message this morning when I came into the’re going to want to hear it.”

“It never ends, does it?” Paul sighed.

John pressed the play button on his answering machine.

“Hello, my name is Ted, I’m Leo Stark’s lawyer. I’m looking to put together a team for the investigation of my client’s murder-”

Paul reached over and slammed on the button, turning the message off, “No way we’re taking this.”

“If we don’t, someone else will,” John reasoned with him, “What if we gets someone else on it, Paul?”

“Christ,” Paul groaned, rubbing his eyes, “ have the wedding coming up and I have the case about Ben, maybe we should just...take a break.”

“Ben Weston isn’t a case, son, we’re not getting paid for that,” John sighed, “We need cases to keep doing our jobs.”

“Ben Weston is important!” Paul snapped, “Keeping him away from Will is important! Keeping him from hurting anyone else is important,” he looked down at the time on his computer, “Look, we’ll talk later. I was supposed to be on the phone with Jordan five minutes ago and I don’t want to keep her waiting.”

John held his hands up in surrender, “Okay, I can take a hint,” he joked, “You want coffee?”

“Yes, please,” Paul sighed, opening up the messaging system on his computer, “We shouldn’t be too long...just the usual interview format...I’m just hoping to get some information.”

“Good, see you soon. I’m going to lock the door on my way out so you won’t get interrupted” John called, walking out.

Paul waited a moment to make sure he was gone before going to his settings and indicating he was online.

And he waited for under one minute before an incoming call popped up.

Paul immediately hit accept when he saw Jordan’s name.

Jordan’s friendly face popped up on the screen and she gave him a smile, “Paul! It’s good to see you! How’s your arm?”

Paul flexed the muscles on the arm he’d always worked on with Jordan, “Still alive, just not pitching anymore.”

“From what I’ve heard you’re with Black Patch,” Jordan told him.

“You keep in contact with Salem?” Paul asked.

“Well, I made friends outside of the usual suspects,” Jordan chuckled, “So, I’m sure you didn’t call with me just to catch up.”

“No,” Paul said, sighing, “Look, this isn’t...anything for Black Patch, it’s more for my peace of mind,” he swallowed, “But, uh...I’m dating Will Horton now and we’re...we’re really happy together,” he explained.

Jordan sighed, “And you don’t have that peace of mind with my brother staying in Salem,” she said, the smile gone from her face now.

“Look, I...I’m grateful for all the treatment you gave me in the hospital,” Paul explained, “I consider us friends, even...but you have to understand-”

“I understand,” Jordan interrupted him, “So, ask me anything you need to know.”

Paul looked at her, confused, “But...he’s your brother.”

“He’s my brother, but he also murdered innocent people,” Jordan said, straightening her glasses, “He’ll always be my brother, but...he’s always going to be the person who murdered them too. There are things we can’t change...and I can’t change either of those things. I don’t believe he has gotten enough help and I don’t believe he should have been released...but that’s up to the doctors in Salem, not me,” she cleared her throat, “So please, get on with the interview. I want to help you the best that I can.”

Paul stared at her for a moment before shaking his head with a smile, “Okay...let’s try to keep this as professional as we can?”

Jordan nodded, “Of course.”

Paul cleared his throat and looked down at his papers, “What can you tell me about Ben’s childhood that wasn’t in the news? All they mentioned was that he was born in Poplar Bluff and his father was listed as Clyde Weston and an unnamed mother…” he trailed off.

Jordan sighed, “Clyde was my step-father and Ben was my half-brother,” she explained, “We have the same mother,” she told him, “Clyde was always rough on all of us, the entire family.”

Paul nodded, “And, in your professional opinion, did Ben ever exhibit signs of mental illness when you guys were young?”

“Well...yes,” Jordan said simply, “He had aggression issues that I didn’t recognize until we were away from Clyde. It was obviously connected to our childhood, but that doesn’t make it any less of a mental illness,” she sighed, “Paul, Ben has anger management issues, that’s quite obvious...but it doesn’t take a medical professional to see that with everything that’s happened.”

Paul nodded, looking down at the paper, “When was the last time you saw him before you came to Salem?”

“Not since 2006,” Jordan admitted, “He’d called me a few times, when he needed help or money, but I didn’t ask any questions. I partly blame myself...for not looking into some of the things he’d been into. I just saw him as my little brother who had a little bit of trouble because of the way we grew up…” she trailed off and sighed, “I wish I would have recognized the signs sooner and maybe the things that happened in Salem wouldn’t have happened...but we can’t change the past,” she told him, “And I can’t change who Ben is.”

“And who is Ben?” Paul asked.

“At the end of the day, Ben is just...a person with a lot of issues,” Jordan told him, “But he’s also a killer. He killed Serena, he killed Paige, and he killed Will...and I think the people of Salem should realize that before they come to trust him again.”

“Do you believe that we should trust him?” Paul asked.

“No,” Jordan said simply, “I don’t...but I believe with the proper help, he could at least have a little bit of rehabilitation.”

Paul nodded, pursing his lips, “And, you said he had anger issues when you were you know what any of his triggers were?” he asked.

“Well, I know some of the things he’d said to Abigail had to do with...cheating,” she said, studying Paul’s face, “Clyde was always accusing our mother of cheating on him, even when the claims weren’t warranted,” she said, “Look, I don’t know about Paige and Serena, but Will’s...situation was high publicized and maybe Ben saw that and just...lost it,” Jordan sighed, “I’m not trying to excuse what he did to him, I’m just trying to find a reason, the same as you. I don’t want to dig open old wounds.”

Paul swallowed and nodded, “Yeah...yeah, I know.”

“It might have been that Will was just getting close to what Ben had done too,” Jordan shrugged, “Will’s an investigative reporter, right?”

“He is,” Paul laughed weakly, rubbing his eyes, “It wouldn’t surprise me if he was getting close either...he’s smarter than people give him credit for...and loves getting himself into trouble, I swear .”

Jordan laughed, “Seems like it.”

Paul pursed his lips, “Thank you...for your help. This has actually been really helpful for my investigation, Jordan. I know it couldn’t have been easy, digging up these memories.”

“It never is,” Jordan explained, “But I want to help...just...from a distance,” she told him, “Salem isn’t good for anyone that wants peace in their lives. And if I can give you some advice?”

Paul nodded.

“There’s going to be a day in the future where you can’t take it anymore,” Jordan said softly, “And when that time comes, don’t try to stay in that town. It’s not good for your mental health...or anyone else’s for that matter.”

Paul swallowed, unsure what to say before looking back up at her, “Thank you, I’ll...keep that in mind,” he told her, “And thank you again, for letting me interview you.”

Jordan smiled, “No problem. Be sure to call if you need anything,” she said, “Bye, Paul.”

“Bye, Jordan,” Paul nodded, ending the call.

Paul sighed, rubbing his hands over his face, “Okay,” he mumbled to himself, going to get started on the notes, but another call started to come in.

Paul looked confused when the name Emi Narita popped up. He checked the time before hitting to accept the call. His face lit up when he saw his nephew, Jona, instead of his half-sister.

“UNCLE PAUL!” the six year-old screeched, causing Paul to wince.

“Hey, buddy,” Paul laughed, glancing down at the clock, “Does your mom know you’re calling me? It’s gotta be close to your bedtime.”

“It’s my day off tomorrow,” Jona said, smiling at him, “Mom and Dad said I could stay up late!”

“Well, that’s nice of them,” Paul told him, “Does your mom know that you have her laptop?”

“Yeah, I’m playing a game,” Jona explained, “But I saw you were online and I wanted to see you! I haven’t seen you in a while, when are you gonna come and visit?” he whined.

“Well things are...busy right now, buddy,” Paul sighed, “Hey, I have an idea. You should be on break soon, right? What if I talk to your grandma and ask her about bringing the whole family for a visit to Salem?”

“What’s Salem ?” Jona asked, getting distracted with one of his toys already.

“It’s where I live with my boyfriend, Will, and my father,” Paul explained.

Where’s Salem?” Jona asked.

Guess we’re playing twenty questions, Paul thought to himself.

“It’s in America, where I used to play baseball,” Paul explained gently. Jona was one of the reasons he was good with Ari, given that he’d had experiences with his own nephew just a few years prior to meeting her.

“That’s so far ,” Jona whined.

“Jona? Who are you talking to?” a familiar voice asked offscreen, in Japanese.

“Uncle Paul!” Jona chirped.

Emi came into view; she looked a lot like their mother, Tori, but was younger...though the years of her stressful job put a few extra years around her eyes.

Emi sighed, taking the computer away, causing another whine from Jona in the background, “Sorry, Paul, he was using my computer to play Minecraft,” she said, switching over to English as fluently as Paul did, “He didn’t bother you at work, did he?”

“No, I was just working on some notes,” Paul smiled, “It’s always good see him...and you,” he added, “Both of which I kinda wish I saw more often,” he said expectantly.

Emi sighed again, “Paul, you know work is busy this time of year.”

“You’re a fashion’s always busy,” Paul said, “It’s been busy since you got the job and you’ve never taken the day you should use those days off to come to Salem and see me...and meet Will,” he added, “I already told Jona I’d bring it up with mom.”

Emi rolled her eyes, “Yeah, I’m sure mom would love to meet Will. Oh wait, she already has...and has voiced her distaste for him non-stop since you told us you were dating.”

“Well...I might be in love with Will,” Paul said simply.

“Oooooh,” Jona said in the background, “I’m telling Great Grandpa Hiro that you’re in looooove.”

Paul rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to Emi, “Just think about it, okay? Tell Michi to take some time off too...I know grandpa agrees with me.”

Emi sighed and turned the camera of the laptop back to Jona, “Say bye to Uncle Paul.”

“Bye!” Jona called, waving his hand.

“Bye, Jona,” Paul called, smiling.

Emi turned the camera back to her own face, “ Goodbye , Paul.”

“Take some time off!” Paul called before the call disconnected and the screen went to black.

“Who was that?” John asked as he came in, “Didn’t sound like Jordan.”

“My sister, Emi,” Paul explained, gratefully taking the coffee from him, “I’m trying to convince my family to pay a visit to Salem...Jona seems to miss me.”

“Your nephew?” John asked.

Paul nodded, taking a long drink of his coffee before sighing, “Apparently my mom hasn’t been exactly...thrilled about Will,” he huffed, “Just what I need.”

“Hey, if I know your mom...and I do, she’ll warm up to him,” John told him, taking a seat at his desk.

Do you know her? Paul thought to himself, but opted not to say it outloud.

“How was the interview with Jordan?” John asked.

Paul thought about it for moment, before finally deciding on the word.


Paul unlocked the door to the apartment, not wanting to interrupt Will and Neil if they were still engrossed in their game. Instead, he opened the door and saw Will and Neil in the same place on the floor, but this time with a laptop and not their controllers from this morning.

“Okay, okay, okay,” Neil said, showing off a card from the deck, “Is this your card?”

“Shit,” the voice of Will’s seventeen year-old brother said in shock, “How’d you do that?”

“Skill!” Neil said simply, putting the card back in the pile while Will laughed.

Paul felt happy, looking at the scene. Will was talking to his siblings again and he was smiling. With everything so stressful in the passed few days, it was nice...just to see him smiling again.

“Hey!” Will said happily, waving at him.

Paul walked over and pressed a kiss to his head, “What’s going on?”

“Look who we’re talking to,” Will gestured to the screen.

Paul smiled when he saw two of Will’s siblings, Johnny and Sydney, now teenagers, on the screen.

“Hey, guys,” Paul told them.

“Paul!” Johnny said, energetic as ever, “What’s up, man?”

“Just got back from work and saw I was missing out on a party with you two,” Paul said, sitting down beside Will and draping his arm over the back of the bed, “How have you two been? Enjoying your summer?”

“It’s okay,” Sydney said, rubbing her arm awkwardly, “We’ve gotten a ton of time at the beach this summer.”

“I’m learning to surf,” Johnny added, looking just ask awkwardly.

“I’ll...give you guys a minute,” Neil said, standing up and pointing at the screen, mouthing “talk to them” at Will before going into the bathroom.

Will watched after him before turning back to the screen.

“Where’s Allie at today? Is she around?” Paul asked.

“Uh…” Johnny trailed off, looking over at his sister.

“She isn’t really...around a lot now,” Sydney said awkwardly, “She’s...busy.”

“Yeah,” Johnny agreed, “With school!”

“It’s summer,” Paul said, crossing his arms, “What’s she really busy with?”

Johnny and Sydney looked at each other.

Will pursed his lips, “Look, I know things are weird...but just know that you can talk to me. I’m still your big brother.”

“Even if you don’t remember us?” Sydney asked bluntly.

Will nodded, “Even if I do have a little bit of amnesia, I’m still the big brother here,” he told them, “Don’t ever hesitate to call me if you do want to talk, okay?”

“...okay,” Johnny said, wiping his eyes a little, “Tell Neil bye, we have to get to the beach before it gets dark. We’re going surfing again today.”

“Have fun!” Will said.

“Be careful!” Paul said at the same time.

The two laughed as they hung up.

“I’m worried,” Will said immediately.

“Same here,” Paul said but closed the laptop, moving it aside, “I missed you today. How was your day?”

“Good,” Will said, wrapping his arms around his neck and moving so he was straddling his lap, “Pretty boring. How was your day?”

“Had a meeting, talked to my nephew,” Paul shrugged, “Missed and worried about a certain someone all day.”

“Oh, Ari is with my dad, don’t worry about her,” Will waved his hand.

“Very funny,” Paul snorted, kissing the side of his neck, “I think we both know who I’m talking about.”

“Oh, Sonny?” Will asked, smirking.

“Oh, you’re going to get it,” Paul said, moving so he was on top of him and kissed all over his face.

Will burst into a fit of giggles, trying to retaliate, but they were interrupted by a clearing of someone’s throat.

Will looked up and saw Neil, though his vision was upside down, “Oh, hi.”

“Look, not that I don’t enjoy watching...this,” Neil gestured to them, “I gotta get to work, I have the night shift tonight.”

Paul got off of Will and helped him up, “Thanks for hanging around today, Neil.”

“No problem,” Neil shrugged, “Good to have friends...that I actually like,” he smirked, heading towards the door.

“See you later, Neil!” Will called before heading into the other room.

“Really, thanks again,” Paul said, leaning in the doorway after Neil walked out.

“Like I said, I like having included,” Neil added with a smile.

Paul was hit with a sudden realization then...he had a friend. His first friend in Salem (besides Will, that is) that wasn’t related to him. Neil seemed nice enough too, which was amazing...and Will loved hanging around him too.

Paul smiled at him, “Thanks, man.”

“And if you ever need to talk, even if it isn’t about Will or anything, feel free to shoot me a text,” Neil told him, “We’ll get drinks sometime!” he called, walking backwards down the hallway with a wave.

Paul smiled, giving him a wave back before turning back when Will walked out, texting on his phone.

“I missed you today,” Paul told him.

“Missed you too,” Will said, putting his phone down and walking over, wrapping his arms around his neck, “But I kicked ass at Mario Kart, so it wasn’t that bad.”

“Oh, I’m so easily replaced,” Paul said, holding his heart in mock-hurt, “I see how it is.”

Will rolled his eyes, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“How are you feeling?” Paul asked, serious now.

Will nodded, “Pretty good. The memories of Sydney are coming, I can feel it. It’s foggy,’s almost there,” he said with a smile, “I want to visit them in person soon. They seem to love you.”

“We’ll have to set up a trip to LA soon,” Paul said and thought about it, “Speaking of family visiting, I got a message after I was done with my interview was my nephew, Jona.”

“Everything okay?” Will asked, finally releasing him and sitting down onto the edge of the bed.

“Yeah, he just misses me,” Paul sighed, “I feel like I’ve seen him more through a computer screen his entire life than actually in person,” he ran a hand through his hair, “I brought up visiting to my sister, so...that might happen. I just wanted to give you a heads up.”

Will smiled weakly, trying to mask his nervousness, “I think that would be great...for you and for Jona. Oooh, maybe him and Ari can be friends.”

“That would be amazing,” Paul told him, “I just...I want my mom here too, so it’s going to take some convincing. But Emi’s always been better at convincing her of stuff than I am.”

“Does...your mom like me?” Will asked, trying to think, “I don’t really remember her.”

Paul stared at him, trying to make a decision. He knew he shouldn’t keep things from Will...but a part of him wanted to protect him as well. It was never good on someone’s mental health knowing that their mother in-law didn’t like them...and Paul knew Will had already experienced that so much when he was married to Sonny.

“She just hasn’t gotten to know you yet, she’s suspicious of everything,” Paul said, going to sit down beside him, “She was the same way with my sister’s husband before they were married and she got to know him. She loves him now though, like another son. I’m sure she’ll feel the same way about you, eventually.”

“And...your grandfather? What about your stepdad? Do I know them?” Will asked, staring up at him.

“Not in person, no. But I’ve told you all about them. My grandfather is so much different than my long as his grandchildren are happy, he’s happy,” Paul laughed weakly, “And honestly, I’m closer to John than I ever have been to my stepfather. We were just never close,” he gave a slight shrug, “But from the little we’ve talked, he likes you as well.”

“Well, I can’t wait to meet them,” Will told him, smiling as well and flopping back on the bed with a sigh, “Man, I’m beat. Writing is easy compared to beating Neil at rainbow road.”

Paul laughed, flopping back as well, “Figure out if Neil’s dad is dead or not yet?”

“Not yet,” Will rolled his eyes, “His lips are sealed, sadly. I need to get a betting pool going on this.”

“Twenty bucks says he’s alive,” Paul deadpanned.

“You’re on,” Will said with a laugh.

“Hey, think he’s ever killed anyone?”


“I’m just ASKING.”

Chapter Text

Paul was following Ben...again. He’d been at it since early in the morning, trying to get down the exact schedule, making sure Ben didn’t slip up and murder someone...the usual. He turned the corner and stopped suddenly when he saw Ben had stopped and looked directly at him, just a little ways away from town square.

“I’m not that dumb, y’know,” Ben sighed, “You might be a PI, but I could tell you’ve been tailing me since I left home this morning,” he said bluntly.

Paul paused for a moment, unsure of what to say. He cleared his throat, “I’m on my way to the square,” he lied, “I just happened to run into you,” he said, crossing his arms.

Ben sighed, “Look, Paul, I’ve changed-”

“Bullshit,” Paul snapped, cutting him off, “Look, I don’t know how you got out-”

“I got out because psychologists confirmed I was stable enough to leave,” Ben told him firmly, crossing his arms as well, “I’m to hurt anyone.”

“Then why are you here?” Paul demanded.

“I don’t have anywhere else to go,” Ben said firmly.

Paul rolled his eyes, “I’m sure you can go to another town.”

“My treatment is here,”  Ben told him, “And...I’m starting to have friends here.”

Paul scoffed, “Do those people know that you tried to murder my boyfriend?” he asked bluntly.

“They do...and they forgive me,” Ben told him, trying to keep his voice calm, “Will forgives me.”

“Will is traumatized because of you!” Paul snapped, “He’s never going to be…” he took a shaky breath, “Why can’t you just leave ?” he demanded, not caring that he was showing that he was upset

Ben rolled his eyes, “Why don’t you make me , Paul?”

“Oh trust me, I will,” Paul said, his voice dead serious.

“Is that a threat?” Ben demanded.

Paul shrugged, “Take it how you will,” he said, going to walk away.  

“If you were going to say Will is never going to be normal again, he wasn’t normal in the first place,” Ben called after him, “I mean, he already cheated on his husband, let alone everything else I’ve heard. He was fucked up before me, Paul-”

Paul didn’t really remember what happened, considering it happened so fast, but the next thing he knew, his fist had connected with Ben’s jaw and the other man was on the ground and someone was yelling.

Ben immediately jumped up and swung at him as well, causing him to fall to the ground next.

And that someone was Ciara Brady, pulling him away.

“What the hell, Paul?!” she demanded.

Paul took a shaky breath and ignored her, pointing to Ben as he stood up, “Stay the hell away from us!” he yelled, stalking away.

“I’m not saying the mansion is haunted, but-” Chad was talking to Abby cut himself when he saw Paul walking through the square, looking upset, “Hey, man!” he waved at him, “What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

Paul sighed out a shaky breath and walked over to the pair.

“Paul, you have a bruise, what happened?” Abby asked in shock.

Paul pulled out the chair and sat down, hesitating for a moment. He pursed his lips and looked at Chad, “What can you do about Ben Weston being in Salem?” he asked seriously.

Chad looked over at Abby before looking back to Paul, “You talking legal or illegal?” he asked bluntly.

Paul sighed, scrubbing his hands against his eyes and wincing when he touched his forming black eye from where Ben hit him, “I can’t...I’ve tried to do this professionally, from a PI standpoint. I’ve talked to the connections that I can, but…” he trailed off, shaking his head, “I can’t have him around Will, guys. I can’t…”

Abby crossed her arms and looked at Chad, “Well...I think we could look into doing something about the situation,” she said simply.

Paul pursed his lips and nodded, “Thanks,” he said, “I’m going to call Will, make sure he’s okay.”

“Nah, I’m on it, you go back to work,” Chad waved his hand dismissively, taking out his phone, “Or get some ice for that eye, you’re going to have a nasty bruise,” he said bluntly.

Paul looked at the two and nodded, “Uh...thanks,” he said awkwardly, walking away.

Chad cleared his throat, “Hey, you got eyes on Will?”

Will sat on the stool at the bar in the Spot, spinning around on it.

“Listen, you gonna order a drink or-” a familiar voice asked.

“I’m waiting for my friend’s shift to start-” Will stopped spinning and his eyes widened, “T?” he breathed out.

“Will?” T asked, just as shocked as he was. He quickly walked around the counter, “Shit, it’s really you.”

Will immediately jumped up from the stool and pulled him into a hug, “Oh my god,” he breathed out, “What are you doing here?”

“Had to get a new job,” T shrugged, “And turns out, I’m a pretty good bartender. I couldn’t…” he trailed off awkwardly, “Look, you and Sonny are both my friends, but I couldn’t stand around while he practically flirted with Paul Narita over your dead body.”

Will pursed his lips, “T, I don’t know if you’ve heard but…” he rubbed the side of his arm, “I don’t remember much...I-I actually can’t believe I remembered you so easily.”

“I was steering clear, I didn’t want to push anything,” T shrugged, “Besides, I work the evenings and nights around here, so I’m pretty much sleeping during the day.”

“And for a straight dude, T gets amazing tips from all the men thirsting after him,” Neil said, walking in and climbing over the bar using one of the stools to stand where T had stood.

“You’re early,” T commented before tossing him a towel, “I just cleaned that bar, any dirt you make you’re cleaning.”

Neil just stuck his tongue out at him and turned to Will, “What’s up, baby?”

“Just came to hang out with you while Paul was at work, then I saw T,” he grinned, looking at T, “Me and him go way back.”

“We were troublemakers, back in the day,” T said, slinging his arm around him.

“Nah, we were perfect angels, look at us,” Will said, “Aren’t we the picture of innocence?”

“Oh, yeah, picture perfect,” Neil rolled his eyes and leaned on the counter, resting his chin on his hand, “But, T, as your official boss, I order you to tell me all of Will’s embarrassing and hopefully naked stories.”

Will scoffed, rolling his eyes as well.

T snorted, “No way, man, you’ll use it for material to jack off to later,” he deadpanned and looked at Will, “I can’t believe you’re here ,” he laughed weakly.

“I’m back...well, I’m sort of back. I’m lacking some memories...but...not of you,” he said quietly, “I remember you, T.”

T smiled weakly, “Good to hear,’s good to have you back.”

Paul was walking back to their apartment with an icepack he’d gotten from the Brady Pub resting beside his eye. He was waiting for the line of his phone to connect to his mother’s, hoping she would pick up. Things had been strained since Paul mentioned he’d been seeing Will again...with good reason. Tori wasn’t exactly a fan of Will...and Will didn’t remember why.

“Paul?” Tori finally answered the phone after a few rings.

“Hi, mom,” Paul said, smiling when he heard the sound of her voice, “You’re not busy, are you?”

“I’m never too busy for you,” Tori said and Paul could hear the smile in her voice.

Paul smiled softly, “So, I don’t know if you talked to Emi-”

“I did,” Tori cut him off, “I don’t...think it’s a good idea. Everyone is too busy right now. Emi’s new line is coming out soon and there will be a launch party-”

“Come after that then,” Paul sighed.

“Why don’t you just come here instead of making all of us come to you?” Tori asked, sighing, “It’s hard on Jona to travel, you know how he gets on plane rides.”

Paul bit his lip, “I’m not...comfortable leaving Will for that long right now. He’s undergoing treatment for his memories right now and it’s experimental.”

“How could you let him do that?” Tori demanded immediately.

“It wasn’t my decision, mom,” Paul sighed, “I know it’s dangerous, but he wants them back-”

“I don’t mean about his memories, I mean about who he was before,” Tori said immediately, “He was extremely rude and tried to blackmail me, Paul. You don’t want to be with a person like that, you can’t . I didn’t raise you to be like this-”

Paul sighed again, for what felt like the millionth time in the short conversation, “Mom, I’m in love with him,” he cut her off, saying it to her for the first time.

Tori went silent before sighing herself this time, “Paul…”

“I’ve never loved someone the way I love him,” Paul admitted to her, “ scares the hell out of me, really,” he laughed weakly, “And, sure, he drives me up the wall sometimes...but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Tori swallowed, “Okay,” she said finally.

“You’ll think about coming to visit us?” Paul asked hopefully.

“I’ll think about it,” Tori told him, “I have to go pick up your grandfather now. Goodbye, I love you.”

“Love you too,” Paul smiled, hanging up, feeling a little better than he did earlier.

“So, I told you what I’ve been up to,” T gestured around the Spot, “I’ve been working at this dump-”

“Watch it,” Neil called from where he was leaning down the bar. The man with brown hair and icey blue eyes was leaning on the stool on one knee, leaning in to talk to Neil. Will was pretty sure Neil was going to do more than just pour the handsome looking guy a drink.

“What have you been up to?” T smirked, “I’ve heard some things, but I’d rather hear it from you. This town has the tendency to gossip...especially around this place.”

Will sighed, “Well, my family found me in Memphis and brought me back here,” he explained, “Sonny really wanted me back, I guess...he broke up with Paul, like, immediately. definitely grounds to get him locked up for insanity because have you seen Paul?”

T wrinkled his nose.

“Anyways, I learned that I like Paul a lot more than Sonny...and he’s a better kisser,” Will admitted, “He’s the best guy I’ve ever kissed.”

“Horton, you’re killing me here,” Neil called, clutching his chest, “I’ve been wounded.”

“You’re second, don’t worry,” Will called over the music, laughing before turning back to T, “So Paul and I got together...and I’ve never been happier!”

“What all do you remember?” T asked.

“A few things,” Will explained, “Neil is the first real friend I remembered, so we’ve been hanging out,” he told him, “I remember my parents, a little-”

“That’s unfortunate,” T commented.

“And a couple of my aunts and uncles too,” Will sighed, “My siblings too, which is amazing,” he grinned.

“Well,” T told him, “I’m happy for you,” he clapped him on the shoulder, “Neil, stop flirting with your boyfriend and get us two more beers since you’re on the clock.”

“One more,” Will told him, “For T, not me. I have to get to working on this article.”

Neil rolled his eyes and pecked the man on the lips before going to grab the beer for T.

Will’s phone rang before he could ask about that .

Will quickly answered it, stepping away from the booming speakers until he could hear the conversation a little bit, “Hello?” he called.

“Will!” a familiar voice called, “Guess who?”

“Uncle Austin, I have caller ID,” Will laughed.

“Well...guess where I am, kid!” Austin told him, “And where are you? That music is have sensitive ears.”

“Where are you?” Will laughed, ignoring his question.

“The airport in Chicago! We’ll be in Salem soon!” Austin said excitedly, “Carrie and Noah are here with me. We’re going to stay until after John and Marlena’s wedding!”

Will grinned, “Oh my god, that’s amazing!” he laughed in shock, “ me when you get to town, I guess.”

“Will do,” Austin told him, “And where are you?”

“Just out with some friends,” Will said, smiling and watching T and Neil bickering with each other, “I’m about to head back to my apartment though. We should get dinner tonight if the jet lag isn’t too bad.”

“Ugh,” Austin groaned, “The only thing I miss about Salem is the Brady Pub’s food . We have to go there.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Will smiled, “See you soon, Austin.”

“See you soon, kid,” Austin said before hanging up.

Will smiled softly, putting the phone in his pocket before going back to T and Neil, “Well, I’m off. See you guys later.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” T stopped him, “Fork over the phone, loser. I’m putting my number in there.”

Will laughed, letting him do what he wanted before taking it back, “See you guys later!” he called.

T turned back to Brian at the bar, “You’re so lucky he didn’t remember you.”

“Mmm, let him find out in his own time,” Neil waved his hand dismissively, kissing Brian again.

Will was walking home, pulling his jacket around him to protect himself from the cold, evening air. Fall would be here before they knew it, the nights were already a telling sign of it.

He smiled softly when he got a selfie texted to him of Noah, Carrie, and Austin in the airport. Before he could respond, he bumped into someone.

“Oh, sorry-” Will started.

He stopped when he saw Ben Weston was the one he'd bumped into. 

Chapter Text

“S-Sorry,” Will choked out, fear immediately filling him. All the happiness he felt from seeing his friends again, from knowing he was going to see his uncle again, drained out of him at the sight of Ben Weston standing in front of him.

Will quickly went to walk out of the space by the square that was surrounded by bushes. If he could just get into public, he’d feel better…

“Will, wait!” Ben said quickly, grabbing his wrist.

“Don’t touch me!” Will snapped immediately, trying to yank his wrist away from his tough grip. Part of him wondered if Ben realized what he was doing, wondering if he knew how much he scared him...knew how much he scared Paul .

And yeah, Will knew, deep down, Paul was scared. The investigation wa because he was scared of Will getting hurt again.

Will knew.

He wasn’t as oblivious as everyone thought.

“Sorry,” Ben told him seriously, putting his hands up, “I’m sorry...not just for grabbing you, but...for everything.”

“Oh, fuck off , “ Will snapped, going to go back into the square, “Whoever gave you that bruise is a lucky person.”

“It was your boyfriend,” Ben called after him, “He was following me...might want to ask him about that one.”

Will whipped around, “Excuse me?” he demanded.

“Yeah, your little guard dog has been following me around all over Salem,” Ben snorted, “Doesn’t he have a job or something better to do with his time? I’m not hurting anyone.”

“Oh yeah, not hurt anyone,” Will snorted, “You know what, Ben? Want to see something?” he demanded, “Come with me. Right now, let’s talk,” he said, stalking away from the square now. He was going in the other direction of safety, but he didn’t care . Ben saying he wasn’t hurting anyone just set something off in him.

It was a short and silent walk until they got to the graveyard and he marched right over and pointed at his own grave, “Look at this,” he whispered.

Ben walked over and stood beside him, looking down at Will’s grave, “Will…”

“They haven’t removed it yet,” Will whispered, “I came here, trying to figure out some of my memories, maybe...see my family that I don’t even remember dying,” he sniffled, wiping his eyes, “Do you know weird it was? Seeing this for the first time?” he choked out, “Seeing my own grave ?”

“Will, I-” Ben started.

“Excuse me, but what the hell do you think you’re doing?” a voice asked suddenly.

Will turned and Neil was standing in the opening of the graveyard.

“Weren’t you just at work?” Will asked immediately.

“Weren’t you just walking your ass home?” Neil demanded. He stalked over to Will and grabbed his arm, dragging him away from Ben, “Didn’t think that included going on a walk with your actual killer,” he snapped.

“Did you make T go back to work just to come find me?” Will demanded, looking back at Ben, who was just staring down at Will’s grave.

“No, but everyone there knows just to help themselves,” Neil said, still dragging Will along and texting on his phone with his free hand.

“That’s a terrible business model,” Will deadpanned as they finally got back to the square, “And stop dragging me , I can walk, y’know.”

“You’re lucky I didn’t carry you all the way here,” Neil snapped, looking around the square and sighed in relief when he saw Paul rushing in, “Finally. Where were you?”

“Working,” Paul said simply, still holding an icepack on his face.

“Oh my god,” Will breathed out, rushing over to him and taking the icepack, looking at the forming bruise on his cheek, “Paul.”

“Sorry,” Paul sighed immediately, wincing slightly when Will touched the mark.

“He could have killed you,” Will choked out, feeling angry all of the sudden, “What if he would have done worse, huh?!”

Paul sighed, kissing Will on the forehead, “Calm down.”

“While I do love the cuteness level of the caring boyfriends, I think I need to mention that I just found Will with Ben,” Neil deadpanned, “Almost everything looks good on you, sweetcheeks, but hypocrisy doesn’t.”

Will glared at him.

“WHAT?!” Paul demanded.

“Can we get coffee? I’m headed towards a caffeine crash,” Neil sighed, looking around the square, ignoring the impending couple’s bickering session as he checked his phone, “I just rescued the beautiful blonde from the crazy killer, I deserve coffee.”

Paul sighed, scrubbing his hands against his eyes, “We’ll talk about this later, okay?” he asked, turning to Will.

Will nodded, crossing his arms.

“We’ll get you coffee, Neil,” Paul rolled his eyes, grabbing Will’s hand, “I think we all need some.”

“Sweet,” Neil grinned, already walking off in the direction of the coffee shop.

“Sorry,” Paul mumbled, kissing the side of Will’s head once Neil was out of earshot.

“Me too,” Will nodded, still holding his hand as they walked into the pub, “Promise we’ll talk later?”

Paul nodded.

The trio were sitting outside talking a few moments later, with Neil happily sipping his frappuccino that Paul had gotten him and watching Will and Paul have a silent communication battle with a small smile on his face.

“I love it when couples have that little silent talking thing,” Neil said, breaking the tension, “It means you have good communication...good especially when you have kids,” he winked.

Paul choked on his own coffee before clearing his throat, “The only kid we have is Arianna Grace and that’s how it’s going to stay for a while.”

“Sure, sure,” Neil said simply, “Can I be the best man at your wedding? I can get you killer security.”

“Literally or metaphorically ‘killer’?” Paul asked under his breath.

Will elbowed him.

Neil just laughed under his breath and continued to drink his coffee, not saying anything.

Paul looked at Will with wide eyes and Will just sipped his coffee as well.

“Seriously?” someone asked suddenly, “You’re even in public with him now?”

Neil rolled his eyes so hard Will was worried they might get stuck, “Hi, Sonny, always a pleasure to hear the sound of your voice when I’m having a peaceful day.”

Sonny crossed his arms and looked at Will and Paul, “Seriously?”

“Don’t seriously me for having friends, Sonny,” Will said simply, “I like Neil, we had fun together, contrary to your belief- no, don’t give me that look, it wasn’t that kind of fun,” he squinted at Neil, “Was it?”

“Nope,” Neil said simply, popping his lips, “I mean, I taught you how to smoke, that’s about it,” he puckered his lips at Sonny, “Want a lesson?”

Sonny wrinkled his nose.

Will kicked Neil’s shin under the table.

Sonny looked at Paul, “Paul, come on, you can’t be okay with this. You know what they did.”

“We kissed? Big deal,” Neil shrugged, “Paul and Will are happy together , Sonny. I’m not the one trying to come in between them,” he smirked, taking another sip of his coffee.

Sonny’s face turned red a little and Will could tell he was starting to get angry now.

“Look, Sonny, I want to be friends with you,” Will told him softly, “But you need to accept that I do have other friends...and Neil is one of them now.”

Neil grinned at him.

Sonny shook his head, “Will, I just care about you-”

“Then let me make my own decisions, Sonny,” Will laughed weakly.

Paul stayed silent, watching them and watching Neil. He felt confused when he saw Neil reach for something on his belt when Sonny stepped closer to Will, but didn’t comment on it.

“Will, you might not remember it, but you’ve always had a hard time with that,” Sonny said bluntly, “Trust me on that-”

“Oh, I’ve had a problem making my own decisions?” Will demanded, standing up now, “Or you’ve had a problem with me making my own decisions? Elaborate!” he snapped.

“Will, c’mon…” Paul started.

“No, I want to know more about our epic love that everyone goes on and on about!” Will yelled, “What’s your favorite part, Sonny? The part where I cheated on you? You making all my decisions for me ? Or what about getting me a job and lying to me about it because you didn’t think I could do it myself?!” he yelled.

“You said you didn’t remember!” Sonny yelled back.

“Yeah, but I can do basic research and my family knows all about you!” Will continued to yell, “Not everyone in Salem is going to stand around and act like you’re a saint when you were really just a spoiled, rich brat!”

“Looks like the erratic nature came back!” Sonny scoffed.

Will grabbed Neil’s coffee from where he was sipping on it, took off the lid, and dumped it on Sonny’s shirt, “You bet it has!”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME-” Sonny started.

“Will?” someone asked suddenly.

Will turned and saw Carrie standing there, holding hands with Austin with Noah in front of them as she stared in shock.

Will pursed his lips and sighed, “Hi,” he said weakly.

Sonny stalked away before anyone could say anything to him, sugary iced coffee slush falling down his neat looking suit.

“Nice one,” Austin grinned.

Carrie elbowed him and Noah burst out laughing.

“How about some lunch?” Paul asked, breaking the tension.

Will sat in the Brady Pub awkwardly, feeling a little foolish and embarrassed that his aunt and uncle had seen him go off like that in public...and a little embarrassed that he did it in the first place.

Was he erratic? Was Sonny right?

Paul didn’t seem to mind, he was happily chatting with Austin and Carrie about the goings ons in Salem as well as his baseball career. Austin seemed to be a fan of him, but Carrie looked suspicious...and so did Noah.

“You gonna talk or just stare off in the distance all day, kid?” Austin chuckled, “How have you been?”

“Sorry for what you saw,” Will said, ignoring the question, “That was...embarrassing. I’m usually not like that. He just keeps pushing me .”

“You had every right to do it,” Neil said, appearing suddenly with a new coffee, “Just wish you would have used your own coffee,” he said, forcing Paul and Will to scoot over so he could sit down, squishing Paul between them. It was easier on the other side of the booth for Austin and Carrie, since Noah was still a small kid, but the three on the other side were pretty tight.

“It’s okay, Will,” Paul told him quietly, earning a weak smile from him.

“So,” Austin gestured to Neil, “Who’s this?”

“Oh, um...this is Neil Hultgren, he’s our friend,” Will smiled at him.

“Hultgren?” Carrie demanded.

Will groaned and put his head on the table, “Can we just...not do this all over again? I’m exhausted, I truly am.”

Carrie gave him a sympathetic smile, patting his head, “We just worry about you, sweetheart, you know that.”

“So, I’ve learned all about Paul,” Austin gave Neil a challenging look, “Tell me about yourself if you’re hanging around my nephew.”

Noah looked up at Austin and copied his look of suspicion to the best of his eight year-old ability, folding his hands on the able just like his father.

“I’m a part-time bartender and manager of the Spot and I also own and I’m the landlord of an apartment complex here in Salem,” Neil said simply, “I graduated from Salem U with a degree in Psychology.”

“Really?” Will asked.

Neil shrugged, “My family made me go to college and people are interesting to analyze.”

“Are you single?” Austin asked bluntly.

“Austin,” Will mumbled under his breath, rolling his eyes.

“In a way,” Neil said simply before taking a drink of his coffee, “Salem relationships, y’know.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Austin just rolled his eyes, earning another elbow from Carrie.

“So how long are you staying?” Will asked, getting the subject off of Neil before Austin grilled him into admitting to murder.

“Well, we have an invite to John and Marlena’s wedding, so we’ll be staying at least until then,” Carrie smiled.

“Or until the pressure gets to be too much,” Austin told them, “Listen up and listen good, kiddos, you don’t want to stay in this place too long. Get out before it sinks it’s roots into you and raise your kids somewhere safe,” he said, kissing Noah’s head, who promptly ignored him as he watched a show on the iPad Carrie had given him.

“Well, look who we have here,” someone said suddenly, breaking the tension of Austin’s comment before Will could start worrying about Arianna growing up here.

Will looked up and saw Lucas and Kate walking in.

“Didn’t know you were in town,” Lucas said, crossing his arms and looking at Austin and Carrie, “You could have called.”

“I did call,” Austin smiled, “I called Will,” he said, standing up and hugging Kate, “Hi, mom,” he said, kissing her cheek.

“Hello, sweetie,” Kate smiled, “Oh, just look at you and look so much alike.”

Noah was blond, like Carrie, and only had Austin’s eyes. Austin had black hair.

Will was pretty sure Kate was either blind or being petty...and he knew she could see very well.

“Why don’t we join you guys?” Lucas asked, looking at Neil, “Who’s he?”

“Our friend,” Paul said simply, watching as the two pulled up chairs uninvited.

More awkward silence ensued.

“So,’s it going, dad?” Will asked, tagging on the dad card despite not remembering the man in the slightest. The only father figure he could remember having was Austin...and he was sitting right there.

“Pretty good,” Lucas gave him an awkward smile, “Things have been...good with Chloe, since she got back...I think.”

Kate made a noise that sounded like she was dying inside a little.

“I love family drama,” Neil said simply, not caring that he was about to make the situation a lot more awkward than it already was, “Wanna hear my opinion as a person with a master’s degree in Psychology?”

“A Master’s degree ?” Will demanded.

“No, Neil,” Paul said simply, “Thanks for the input though.”

“We’ll talk later,” Neil gave him a wink.

Will just groaned, putting his head on the table.

His cell phone rang.

Will didn’t even check the caller ID before he was climbing over the back of the booth to get out of it, “Well, looks like I gotta take this,” he said, hurrying outside.

“Look what you did, you made him feel awkward,” Lucas told Austin immediately. But their imminent fight was cut off by the door closing.

“Hello?” Will answered without looking.

“Will? It’s mom!” Sami Brady said over the line happily, “How are you doing?”

Will cursed whatever gods hated him.

“Uh...fine,” Will said awkwardly, “How are you doing?”

“Good, good, we’re just packing up for a little trip back to Salem!” Sami said cheerily, “Me and the kids are coming to the wedding, but we wanted to come early so we could spend some time with you. Maybe seeing the kids in person will help you with your memories.”

“Uh...yeah,” Will said, looking in the window at Carrie and Austin, who were happily chatting with Paul, “That sounds…good…” he trailed off and sighed.

He didn’t remember everything, but he knew the past with Carrie and Sami...and Carrie and Austin; he’d heard things and logically, if you lie to someone about a baby being yours when it actually belonged to their couldn’t really end on happy terms.

Should he tell Sami that Austin and Carrie were here?

No, that wasn’t his place to tell.

Besides, Marlena would probably tell Sami.

“I just wanted to let you know before we showed up at your door!” Sami told him, laughing quietly, “I’m excited to see you again, Will.”

Will smiled weakly, “Yeah...yeah, you too….mom,” he added awkwardly, remembering Lucas’ happiness when he called him dad, “Uh, I’m at dinner with some friends right now. I’ll talk to you later?”

“Oh! Yeah, that’s fine!” Sami told him, laughing weakly as well, “We’ll see you soon, okay? I…” she trailed off before clearing her throat, “I love you, Will.”

Will looked down at his shoes, shuffling his feet awkwardly, “Yeah, love you too,” he said before hanging up. He sighed, looking up at the sky before going back inside.

“That was nice,” Paul said as they walked into the apartment, “I mean...aside from your dad and grandma invading,” he laughed weakly.

“Yeah, that was…” Will flopped on the bed and put his hands over his eyes, groaning, “It’s a lot at once, Paul.”

Paul flopped down beside him and grabbed one of his hands so he’d stop rubbing his face, “Neil would say you’re going to give yourself wrinkles.”

“I’m already going to get those from stress,” Will moved so he was lying on his side so he could face Paul, “Sami called...said she was coming early for the wedding and bringing the kids.”

“Well...on the bright side, the kids are coming,” Paul smiled weakly, turning so he could face him as well, “And you looked so happy with your aunt and uncle today.”

“Did I?” Will laughed weakly.

“It’s the same look you have when you’re with Ari,” Paul told him, tracing circles on his clothed chest with his index finger, “It’s a good look on you.”

Will snorted and rolled his eyes, “Whatever, you sap,” he sighed, staring up at the ceiling, “My mom called me...she’s coming in for the wedding and bringing the kids.”

“Oh, that’s…” Paul trailed off, unsure of what to say, “I’m glad you’re going to get to see your siblings, Will.”

Will smiled, “Not glad that I’m going to get to see my mom?” he challenged.

“Uh…” Paul trailed off awkwardly.

“Kidding, Paul,” Will rolled his eyes, “Everyone in Salem knows I’m not excited to see Sami and the drama she brings with her…” he trailed off and gave him a small smile, “But I am excited to see the kids other than on a screen.”

“I can’t wait to meet them on a more official basis,” Paul added with a smile.

Will smiled too before it fell, “We should talk about today, Paul.”

Paul’s smile fell as well and Will felt a small bit of panic enter his system. He didn’t know why; whenever he and Paul had issues they’d talk it out. He was never worried about Paul getting angry or acting...well, like the little bit he remembered about Sonny , always making him feel so bad and wrong…

Will shook it off. He’d save it for another time.

“Look,” Will sighed, sitting up and grabbing both of Paul’s hands, causing him to sit up as well, “I don’t care if you investigate Ben...but I’d rather you be safe . I don’t want to tell you what to do, but just…” he sighed, “I remember what he did to me, Paul. I’m just...scared the same thing would happen with you.”

Paul went to say something.

“And trust me, I know you’re a big, strong man who works out,” Will smirked when Paul rolled his eyes, “But...I am too, and he’s still managed to get his hands around my throat twice now.”

Paul winced at Will’s bluntness about his murder and almost-murder.

“You’re right,” Paul told him, “I’ll...take someone with me from now on,” he pursed his lips, “But, Will, you can’t just...go off with him either. When Neil texted me, I was…terrified,” he whispered, holding his hand, “I’m not going to tell you what to do...or who you can and can’t spend time with...but Ben …”

“I know,” Will swallowed, “He just made me so mad, trying to say he changed. So I showed him my grave,” he said bluntly, “Which...I kind of wish they’d remove that.”

“We’ll work on figuring out how to get it removed,” Paul said immediately, nodding.

Will flopped back on the bed and sighed, “And despite that, I’ve never felt more content.”

“Why’s that?” Paul asked, lying down again.

“I missed Austin, Carrie, and Noah...a lot,” Will added, “I didn’t realize how much until I saw them in person,” he smiled weakly, “I remember Zurich...and how much I loved it there.”

“We should go one day,” Paul told him, “Maybe take Ari too.”

“Yeah...yeah, I’d like that,” Will grinned.

They were lying in bed in pajamas and more comfortable under the blankets later that night. Paul was sleeping away, an arm around Will’s waist, but Will was awake and going through his texts, replying to some occasionally; most were family members, trying to ask if they remembered him without being rude (sometimes failing) and there was the usual stream of awful memes and shitposts from Neil...and he was texting back and forth with Austin.

Will: Yeah, I have an appointment with the hospital soon. I’m hoping to get another dose, but I’m not sure they’ll go for it.

Austin: You want one?

Will: Yeah...remembering you guys was honestly the happiest I’ve ever felt. I want that for my whole family and all my friends, even the bad memories.

Austin: Well, if you want it...we’ll make it happen. Don’t stress over it.

Will smiled softly, wondering what Austin was planning.