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La Amada Inmovil

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In this story Ari looks like a mini version of Gabi. I really don't understand the show that really ignore the impossible chance Will and Gabi having a blonde daughter. Sami is a boss but her recessive genes wouldn't be able to give her a child with blond hair (they would only be carriers of that recessive gene) with Lucas as the father let alone a granddaughter who is also blonde. It needs to make some sense come on! Ari would not be a blonde with blue eyes with Gabi as the mother. She would be a brunette with brown eyes like Gabi and Lucas.

Gabi’s POV

I am so thankful Rafe got me out of jail. Even if it’s a technicality I am so thankful. I love him more than anything and him never giving up on me is the only reason I’m out. I’m just glad Nick can’t hurt me anymore or worse try to use me to hurt Will. I regret ever bringing Nick into my life, but I have grown from all of this and I want to make a better life for my daughter and myself.

I’m just walking through the square thinking there’s no way I’m going to be able to get a job anywhere so I think I will need to create a business and I start to think on what I like and I can style people and save up some money and then make my own clothes. I start to get ideas and I start to walk fast, and I walk into something hard and I realize I just ran into someone. A young girl and I feel like I met her before well its Salem I may have.

“I’m so sorry I was not watching where I was going! Are you okay?!” I help the girl get up and pick up some of her papers.

“It’s okay I wasn’t watching either. I was so preoccupied with my Latin American History paper I didn’t even bother to see in front of me.”

“Well I guess its neither of our faults then, so we are square.” The girl kinds of stares at me and I feel myself become quite defensive I don’t know what has been said about me.

“Have we met before?” She looks puzzled so I’m guessing she doesn’t know about me in an infamous way.
“No, I just came back into town. I was gone for a year.” Yeah in prison but I don’t want to scare this young girl off.

“Oh, okay I haven’t even been here a year yet so I guess we couldn’t have met. Anyways I’m Paige Larson.” I contemplate telling her my real name and I just decide it would be best and what do I care if people hate me. Nick was a horrible person and a manipulative and dangerous bastard.

“Hi Paige, I’m Gabriela Hernandez… you said you were thinking of your Latam History paper. What is it about?”

“I don’t want to take up more of your time. I bumped into you… I don’t have to add on my writer’s block with my homework too.”

“Listen Paige I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t interested. So, tell me what you have to write about?” I hope I didn’t come off as rude.

“Well its about choosing a Latin American figure and writing about their impact in Latin American history. I’m having writer’s block because I don’t want to choose the overdone war hero because I know just about everyone will be doing it, so it makes it harder for me to write because the pressure, but I fear that’s all I know.”

“Well if you don’t want to a war hero, I’m sure there’s plenty of other people who have had contributions. I can think of many.” Being Mexican my mother always made sure to talk about people dear to her.

“Well the problem is that the class is Latin American history but from basically colonial times to 1925. I won’t take the next level until next semester.”

“Hmm well then pick a warrior of the pen. There’s plenty of great literature that came out during the time and my favorite Mexican author is Amado Nervo. He was also a diplomat. If you want to impress your teacher pick him. His life was grounded in humanity, wonder and love and his works resonated with people all over Latin America.” I still cry when I read La Amada Inmovil.

“I’ve never even heard of him. I want to know more about him! If you don’t mind you know? My dad is Mexican, but I never grew up with him I maybe saw him a couple times growing up, but it has always been me and my mom or me staying with my grandparents. I wasn’t raised in his culture sometimes I feel like I’m drowning but I want to know so bad. I want to be connected to it. It’s the whole reason I am taking the class in the first place.” Its admirable to me that she wants to connect to her heritage and isn’t giving up because her dad is a deadbeat.

“I’m lucky that both my parents are Mexican because my father wasn’t in the picture for me either. He left when I was a baby. My siblings especially my oldest got time to know him and be raised by him but he left when I was an infant, but my mother was always there to guide us with our heritage. Sometimes a little overzealous. I am thankful for it now but back then it felt like going to a second school to learn more.” Gracias Mami por todo.

“Why do some men just do that? You have a responsibility to your children, and you leave them in a lurch.”

“Amen, sister.” Eduardo left us high and dry and Mami had to struggle and it pushed Arianna to join the wrong crowd and get involved in dealing drugs to try to help Mami and that caused friction because Mami would not accept what she calls blood money. Not that I can blame her… the cartels in Mexico have decimated countless families.
“So, I know I like this guy but is there anything you know about him. I want to visualize where I want to go with this paper.”

“Well when he died, he had multiple countries helping to transport his body from Argentina all the way to Mexico. He was buried with full state honors but one of his most enduring works is La Amada Inmovil. It was actually released almost three years after his death and the inspiration of it is his wife. His grief over her death was the catalyst and there’s people who claim they saw him visiting her grave every single day for a whole year in his grief. I’m a romantic at the end of the day and he speaks to me. He evoked many people’s hearts. Makes you want to catch your chest because you can feel his pain as if it’s yours when you read it.” I see her eyes a little glassy.

“His story sounds like one that should be heard.”

“I think so. I think he is brilliant.” Long ago I used to make poems and used his as inspirations since I could not speak of such a love and reverence.

“Are you studying in school too?”

“Umm no! I am actually going over ideas to start my own business.” Considering being my own boss is probably my only outlook at this point.

“That sounds awesome. I am studying business, but I think I might minor in something too.”

“Business that’s awesome and tough. When my business gets off the ground and all that definitely come see me about an internship.” I write down my phone number for her and I tell her I’ll see her around.

“Oh my god! Thanks so much that’s awesome you are launching your own business and thanks for thinking about me for an internship. Maybe I can call you too if I ever need any help with my Latin American history class.” I wonder if this girl has any friends.

“Sure, call me… text me whatever. I’m always ready to dispense my love for Nervo.”

“It was so nice literally bumping into you. I’ll see you around.” Paige gives me a wave goodbye and I can’t help but feel I was talking to Arianna. Arianna was sometimes shy but also a mix of me a ball of sass and strength of a battering ram. Difference between here and me was the restraint. She was so good at holding it all in and letting it out when she wanted.

Over the next couple of months Paige and I start to get chummy. After her professor told her that the paper, she wrote was so unique and left field as a choice and refreshing Paige came to seek me more. I sort of feel like a big sister which is funny since I’m the baby in the family. We go to Chicago sometimes to experience Mexican-American culture. Such a big population of Mexicans in Chicago and I want her to get that experience she has been desperate for and to connect too.

Her Spanish was so proper it was clear she learned it in school, but she is learning to speak in a more common everyday way, and she is good. When the girl concentrates, she can conquer any goal she wants.

“Gabi, I can’t wait for September! I’m so excited for the parade. What are we gonna wear?! What should we wear?”

“Hey just hold on, technically we can wear anything to the parade, but I think we should keep it simple. Let’s dress in Mexican colors we can build on it the more of them we go to.”

“Yeah you’re right we can’t over do it.”

“Girl when you’re Mexican there’s no such thing as overdoing it. When it comes to our celebrations the more elaborate the better but let’s step up from there. It happens every year” Plus Arianna is going to come too make sure she doesn’t overheat or anything.
Paige needs something to focus on because she is trying to make things with JJ work, but I can sense some sadness for it and her mother is a grenade. She needs some distractions from her life and the parade is going to do wonders for her.

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

 

Brady seems to think this plan will work but I can’t just manufacture a crisis Stefan is actually smart enough to sniff it out. He might be a burro, but he knows business. Brady tells me to leave it up to him and I will see.
Later when I get a call from the partners, they tell me that they got a competing bid for their services with Kirakis and I am mad. Brady wins in this whole equation even if I lose. I do need to strategize with Stefan because the burro is the money behind this operation, and I need his okay before I can get back to the partners.
Be confident Gabriella and make him want you like he’s never wanted someone in his life.
I walk into the DiMera mansion and I see him talking to Chloe about some picnic and not today Chloe Lane. You can go be a damsel alone. I don’t get guys loving whose dicks get wet from saving damsels. Not just Stefan but Brady too I really don’t get it.
I tell Stefan about the competing offer and how we are being undermined by Titan and I swear a vein jumps out and that is the golden word that makes him cancel his plans with Chloe and I do my best to not smile at the victory. I want to roll my eyes when they keep droning on about the picnic.
We get through negotiating the new price quickly I realize I need a new tactic or else Stefan will leave and Brady will flip his lid on the plan not working. Plus, it pains me to say I may detest Stefan, but I do like sparring with him. It’s exhilarating and sometimes I get wet. I hate that fucking Leo Stark called out the sexual tension. I always make sure to wear bras with extra cushioning so Stefan can’t see how hard I get.
He gets up and I get up to because when we spar, I make sure I don’t lose…
“Now that we’ve established that we both have this mutual hatred…” Oh Stefan don’t make it so easy for me.
“Oh no… passionate hatred…”
“Right, so when you suggested that we could both benefit from sort no strings-attached sex…” He starts pointing at me… burro.
“You thought I meant with each other?!” I ask this incredulously even though I snicker inside.
“Didn’t you?” He sounds confused with a tinge of anger.
“Of course not, although…” I make myself look like this is an airy thought and he gets riled up. I can feel it…
“Although what?!”
“I will say that maybe some good hate sex might get it out your system.”
“Get what out of my system…” Burro is so agitated I wish I could it eat like ice cream.
“The obsession you had with a woman that tried to look like me, took my name tried to be me?”
“She did not try to be you; Gabby was her own person…” Burro come on if she was not trying to be me why in the hell would she name herself Gabby Hernandez?
“mmm, we both know that’s not true, but I do know you cared about her. That she was the last person you slept with and that you’re never going to have her again.” It feels so good to twist the knife. “But don’t you see the real deal, the original Gabi she’s standing right in front of you…” And he just does just stare silent. Him scrutinizing me should make me feel uncomfortable but all it makes me is thrilled because he’s warring over himself. He acts like he wants some damsel to save but that’s not what you want… You like when you are pushed and challenged.
“What I shared with Gabby has nothing to do with you…” It would have more impact if you didn’t try to walk away. No one in this room can honestly believe that.
“So, it’s a coincidence she shared my name, wore my clothes?”
“None of that mattered it was about who she was, it’s how I felt when we were together that mattered. Our relationship was real.” She was literally trying her damnedest to be me so everything you say is hollow.
“Except for her, but I’m real Stefan and you don’t need proof of that. All you have to do is reach out and touch me.” He flexes and releases his hands and tries to back up and find the desk and braces himself on it. My… my… my is Stefan DiMera nervous?
“The hell you getting at Gabi?” He crosses his arms which is defensive body language. I’m getting to you Stefan and I love it.
“You tell me…”
“You’re throwing yourself at a man that you allegedly despise?”
“Is that what you think I’m doing? Throwing myself at you?” Oh no burro I’m not throwing anything I’m waiting for you to take the bait.
“You came into my house to talk to me about hate sex… to help get Gabby off my mind… to get it out of my system. So, tell me what is that you want?”
“I think you’re not asking the right questions. It’s not about what we want but what you need…”
“I don’t give a damn what you call it and I don’t care how long our dry spells have been going on for. I would not sleep with you if you were the last woman on earth…” I would believe it more el bobo if you didn’t make it your mission to get so close to me to emphasis your denial.
Ben comes in talking about the cartel and Stefan and I go back and forth for a little while longer before he leaves which is good because I need to use the bathroom. Stefan and I have been having foreplay for a while now and it always manages to make me wet with equal amounts of derision and arousal.
I come back to the living room to find Ciara and I don’t really get to talk to her, but I know she is dating Ben. We go back and forth about Ben and I don’t see why she would think I would have anything good to say about him. He strangled Will and killed Paige before I could ever forge a relationship with her. I do tell her about the situation with her mom and my brother. I don’t like it whatsoever and obviously I am on my brother’s side. Not to say Hope doesn’t have any real gripes would be foolish but I just can’t get onboard with children involved. Jordan helped Rafe when he was at his lowest and his confidence lost when he couldn’t walk. She gave Rafe a new lease on life and I know how happy Rafe is with helping care for David while Jordan is sick.

We hear gunshot and glass shatter and we huddle close together and try to get away, but some guy comes in with a gun and I didn’t sign up for this shit. Right now, looking at the barrel of a gun I am furious with myself and Brady for getting caught up in this mess. Ciara and I try to reason with this guy, and he are not having it. I try to talk to him English and Spanish and it does nothing to help. Ciara hits him with a laptop, and he goes down. I try to dive for the gun, but he gets it before me. Ciara tries to distract him while I text Rafe and he finds me, but I sent it before he could destroy my phone. Rafe will come for me… I know he will he always does.

Stefan and Ben show up and they try to reason with the man to let us go. He lets me go to the other side of the room and Stefan comes to me but then asks me about fucking Chloe. I tell Bobo that it’s his fault the man is here, and Chloe isn’t even here. The guy points his gun at Stefan and all I feel is being pushed to the ground and a voice feeling like Rafe’s scream my name. When I next open my eyes I see its Rafe on the floor bleeding and I scream for Stefan to call 911. After screaming to Rafe to not leave me my head gets into gear. I put pressure on the wound to help stem the bleeding and I’m so mad asking Stefan where the hell is the ambulance?! He tries to calm me down and tell me that Rafe is going to make it and that the ambulance should be on their way. Even though I am only paying attention to Rafe I don’t miss the fact he is trying to comfort me.
We finally get help and the paramedics put him in the ambulance. I just look lost and I’m shaking. I realize I can’t call an Uber because Hector destroyed my phone. I don’t want to drive but I have no choice because I need to know Rafe will be okay.
“Gabi let me drive you to the hospital. You can’t drive in this condition…” I just look up at him confused. I just nod and follow him. The car ride is silent, but I can feel him turn several times to look at me. As soon as he gets into the garage and parks the car, I hightail it. I can hear him speaking but its sounds faraway because I realize I’m running. As we are waiting for someone to tell me something. I am just so scared. I tell Stefan about how Rafe is all I have, and I can’t live in a world without him. Rafe is more than my brother. He is the only father figure I have ever known.
I find Kayla and she tells me that Rafe is going to be okay even though he lost a lot of blood. Of course, when I see him the first thing he wants to do is get out of bed. Eli comes in and they talk, and Eli tells him he has been benched all I can think is thank God. He tells me I need to go home and go to sleep. I nod and give him a kiss on the cheek.
I leave his room a little happier until then I didn’t really feel anything but frantic energy and now, I feel so drained. I don’t have to put on a brave face anymore and Stefan pulls me from my thoughts. I start thinking how the hell do I tell Arianna. She’s a little girl it feels like something big happens every couple of months.
Stefan asks me how Rafe is doing and I told him he already wants to leave so he is pretty much back to normal. Stefan volunteers to take me home unless I want to stay in the hospital. Rafe wanted me to go home probably because he will be signing himself out if I know him.
“Okay, here we are… Casa Hernandez.” I put my bag down and I think to myself that this day is almost over.
“Hmm, very nice…” I honestly don’t know if it is an insult or not coming from Stefan.
“It’s a far cry from the DiMera mansion but its cozy.” I am not going to let this piece of shit insult my house.
“Very cozy… How you doing Gabi?”
“Better. Much better. Thank you for everything you did for me tonight.” I find myself meaning it.
“Yeah, you don’t need to worry about any of this. Rafe will be back to himself tomorrow, and you and I will be back to fighting like cats and dogs.” I chuckle a little inside.
“Oh, I’ve missed that.”
“Right?!”
“Yeah…”
“I mean, this whole being civil to one another is tiresome.”
“Yeah, I totally agree.” His cellphone goes off. He tells me its his security team and Stefan being Stefan greets them with a threat. I think back to Stefan and I talking more like arguing without yells and him saying that I want him. It disgusts me to even admit it but there is a small part of me that does, and I hate myself for it because he framed me and put me in prison and I won’t be able to ever expand my family. I always wanted siblings for Arianna like I had.
“I should get going.”
“Yeah…”
“You sure you’re okay staying here by yourself Hector still on the loose.”
“I think he’s gonna wanna stay as far away from Salem as possible. Especially without Ciara.”
“You’re’ not answering my question.” I’m right in front of Stefan and he just looks at me like he doesn’t really want to go, and I know I have him I just have to give him a little push.
“What do you mean?” I try to convey I am not nonchalant even if today was scary as hell I don’t want Stefan to keep seeing me as some vulnerable wimp I’m not like Chloe or Abigail.
“You’ve been through hell today.”
“Well, I guess you’ve left me a little shaken up.” I just go for it.
I kiss him and he kisses me back. He holds my shoulder and looks like he’s going to lecture me.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I don’t know why I did that?” I just walk around him a little flustered.
“I don’t either. You hate me Gabi…”
“True…but”
“But what Gabi?”
“I just saw this other side to you, I guess.”
“What side?”
“You know the more sensitive side, the one that isn’t arrogant, rude, smarmy and full of himself side.”
“Oh, that one…” He’s smiling… come mierda chancho.
“It’s also been a long day okay, I’m scared to death for Rafe and you were being really nice to me, and you were acting genuinely compassionate, so I was just showing my gratitude.” I hate myself because I actually mean this.
“That move right there did not seem like gratitude to me.”
“What? So what?! Would you have preferred a box of chocolates?”
“Yeah that would have been more appropriate and just so you know I do like chocolates for the future ‘expressions of gratitude’” My…my… my it seems Stefan is flirting with me. Get him Gabi…
“Well you know what, it was just an impulse… no big deal.”
“I’m not saying it was a big deal. I’m just wondering why you were so willing to humiliate yourself.” HA! The gall of him.
“What are you talking about, humiliate myself? Because I kissed you? It’s not humiliating, you kissed me back?” He clears his throat.
“You caught me off guard.” Yeah okay bub.
“You could have pushed me away.”
“I should have. Give me another chance.” LOL what?! Do you hear yourself. You want a do over of kissing me to prove what?
“What?”
“To push you away.”
“Oh God, no. No, that’s not gonna happen, see, because I just remembered from talking to you, I can’t stand you.”
“Oh, nor can I stand you, Gabi, but as you stated, you have needs. You’ve been thinking about Rafe and the cartel and all of that obviously has gotten your adrenaline going and that as we both know causes us to do things we normally wouldn’t do. Like say give us superhuman strength to lift a car, for example cause us to kiss someone that you know can’t stand you with every cell of his being and wishes you would just vanish off the planet. It’s a kind of high.” It sounds like I’m not the one you are trying to convince Stef.
“That must be it then. That must be, and, damn, I wish I would have had a car to lift.”
“Me too.”
“You know what, there’ll be no further kisses. I can promise you that.”
“Good.”
“And after tonight, we can go back to hating each other as much as we’d like to cause the moment’s passed right?” I step into this personal space and el bobo looks a little nervous.
“Right.” I kiss him again and of course he kisses me back and it feels good. I feel powerful making a man like Stefan weak for me. He pushes me against the wall, and I feel his hands in my hair and I let myself get lost in the kiss.
“No more.”
“Yeah, mm-hmm.”
“Oh, this—ah enough. That is a bad idea.”
“Yep, that is enough.” He looks as disoriented as I feel.
“I should go.”
“Yep, did you want something to go? Juice, water, soda?”
“No thanks—”
“I have arroz con pollo.” What the hell was that?
“Not hungry.”
“Me either…”
“Well then, I’m gonna go.”
“God, you are so hot.” Por favor Gabi just act a little more eloquent.
“What?”
“I’m just saying you are hot. Look, I’m giving you a compliment, okay, your eyes, they’re just so captivating in this light and alluring.”
“Alluring?”
“Yeah, your eyes look nice.”
“Thank you, I like your eyes too, they’re… big. I like big eyes” And I thought my awkward flirting was horrible.
“Thank you, I never thought that I was pretty. It’s probably because I was chubby growing up.” I don’t know why I’m sharing this.
“You, really?”
“Yeah I had a thing for chocolate chip cookies and ice cream any flavor…” I still do and frozen yogurt is not a substitute I’m willing to make.
“Well you look pretty fit.” He comes a little closer to me and away from the door.
“Well it doesn’t come easy, I workout like a maniac every single day.”
“It shows.”
“Have I told you thank you for helping me today. It was a really awful day.”
“Yeah, you thanked me.”
“I, mean I’m pretty stoic but when it comes to my brother…”
“You mentioned it, you two are very close.” Rafe is basically my father and brother rolled up into one.
“Yeah, he’s the only one I can count on. The only person I feel I can trust. Pretty cynical. Especially about human beings, you know?”
“Yeah, I’m right there with you. I could totally live without ‘em.”
“Except…”
“What?”
“I mean I do get lonely sometimes. Don’t you?”
“Sometimes.”
“But I mean I am pretty resourceful. I find some ways to keep busy. Read a book or watch a movie. Learn an instrument.”
“What? Sorry, what instrument?” I can’t believe he’s laughing at me. It’s true!
“Keyboard, actually. I got one for myself last Christmas.” I like to think I’m decent.
“Oh. Well, I’d say I’d like to hear you play sometime, but…”
“But we hate each other with a vengeance and just because we’re being civil with one another doesn’t mean—”
“Doesn’t mean its gonna last…”
“Or should it.”
“Or will it. In fact, I’m going to get going.”
“Hey, you have something in your hair. Can I—Do you mind if I—”
“Go ahead…”
“Okay, there we go, so now that’s much better.” I look into his eyes and see he wants this just as much if not more as me. We stumble onto my kitchen table and start tearing each other’s clothes.

“Wow, talk about a sense of urgency.” Dios Mio. Lani is in my fucking house. What the hell is going on?!
“Yeah, Gabi I think I better get going. Call me if you need anything.”
“Don’t forget to button up there’s a chill in the air.” I must say that was a good line.

 

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV
Oh, hell no this bitch does not get to drag me in my fucking house. Not the woman who slept with two of my exes while I was with them.
“I asked you a question, what are you doing here?”
“Your brother asked me to watch the baby. Hi Mr. DiMera. You come here often.” Ugh Lani knows how to push me.
“That is not funny.”
“No, not funny at all. Two people who loathe each other going at it on the kitchen table.”
“I have had a terrible day, and I really don’t think—”
“Yeah, it didn’t look like you were thinking at all.”
“Who are you to judge? The person who cheated on their boyfriend whom you stole from and slept with another man and got pregnant.” Said man was the guy I was dating as well.
“Wow, Gabi you really want to bring that up?” Honey if you can’t take what you dish then you can vacate my kitchen.
“Well, you’re looking at me like I robbed some bank or something…”
“I’m looking at you like you and Stefan DiMera were about to have sex right in the middle of the kitchen.”
“Whoa, no one was gonna have sex, okay? We were just kissing?”
“Right.”
“And by the way, this is my kitchen, not yours. I can kiss whoever I want in here…”
“You know, what—just a little wonderful free spirit you are, do you ever think about anybody else?” Are you kidding me? I’m getting lectured by Lani on me being selfish. “Like your brother. What if he came in here instead of me?” If Rafe came in yeah it would be uncomfortable, but I would hope my brother wouldn’t shame me like you are doing right now.

“Oh, you don’t know yet.”
“Know what?”
“Rafe was shot and they took Ciara?”
“But Rafe is going to be okay Eli is with him.”
“He must be going out of his mind about Ciara. I really need to check in with the station. Can you watch David?”
“No, actually, I have to go back and get my phone from the DiMera house. I left it there.”
“Can it wait?”
“No, I need to get my phone.”
I make my way to Stefan’s house by taking Rafe’s car since I left mine at the Stefan’s house. I make sure to drive safe because there’s not reason for me to be acting like a maniac trying to get some dick and crashing before I even get it.
“Was that Chloe? How is she?”
“Fine, what’re you doing here?”
“Oh, I left my phone. Hector threw it across the room. It must be here somewhere.”
“Uh-huh, Harold picked it up. Here…” He tries to get me to flinch by pretending to throw it I get give him a face that Arianna does with Sonny. “…So, I guess I should go, unless…”
“Unless what?”
“Never mind…”
“No, tell me.”
“Unless you wanna finish what we started?”
“I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”
“Yeah, probably not. I don’t even know what I was thinking. Even though sometimes you do show another side, you still are an arrogant jackass.”
“And you, I may be an arrogant jackass, but I am way too much of a gentleman to tell you what you are.” This literally means you have no clue Stefan.
I just stare in his eyes and I feel the hairs on my neck just rise and we come together for a kiss. He just hugs me to his body, and we stumble to the sofa never losing a beat.
My goodness it feels so good. I can feel him getting hard and I feel Stefan has a lot to work with and it makes me moan louder.
He pulls me off the sofa and wraps my legs around his waist. He makes a beeline for the stairs.

“Stefan you better not fucking drop me.” I feel him going on the first step and I wanna look behind me, but his eyes look with mine and I can’t look away.

“Shut up, Gabi” He just keeps going up the steps.
“Make me shut up, cabron.” He nibbles on my neck and it elicits a moan that was louder than I intended.
“Talk to me dirty, baby.” He drops me on his bed. He gets on the bed and starts to unbutton the rest of my top.

“Don’t rip the top or I will kill you, bobo.” I’m not even joking. I make sure he knows I am serious, and I give him one of my mean stares and he just kisses it right off my face.

“You can kill me after I fuck you…” Don’t tempt me with a good time Stefan.

“Can you actually start doing that then, ugh you so annoy—” Before I could finish, he’s biting my nipple then sucking on it to take the edge off. I let him give my body some attention, but the attention makes me feel like I’m getting a fever. I pull on his hair and look him straight in the eyes. “Eat me out now, cabron.” To surprise he shifts down with a quickness and I realize I have Stefan DiMera on his knees serving me. He adds in a finger as he sucks on my clit and I think I’m going to lose my mind.
“Aye Dios Mio bobo. I want more...” He adds another finger as he sucks on my pussy lips and massage my clit with his other hand. It doesn’t take me long to long to cum and he just keeps fucking me though it like nothing even happened. He fingers fucks me upward and he finds my spot and he digs to press on it hard. Oh god it feels so good. My legs start to clamp together.
“You keep them open, entiendes?” He pushes them open softly his elbow and I pick up my head.
“Callate and get back to work.” He slaps my thigh to give himself a semblance of control I imagine not tonight cabron. He puts my legs over his shoulders and really goes to town. My eyes are shut tight and I feel the wave of my orgasm crashing into me. I catch my breath as Stefan kisses my pussy.
“Get on the bed…” He looks at me like I’m crazy. “…now.”
“I see you are bossy little thing in bed.” If you can’t handle it go be with Ms. Opera herself.
“I know you like it Stefan there’s no need to pretend right now.” I just wrap my hand around his dick to prove my point. I blow air on it slowly and gently to see him squirm before I give the barest of licks. His whole body shutters and goodness it gives me this heady feeling. I want him to beg.
“Gabi, you are not going to leave me with just that.”
“You’ll take what I give, and I guarantee you will love it.” I just dive in or well his dick dives into my mouth and I make sure to give him my best.
“Gabi…baby that feels so good.” I drag my teeth softly down the underside while grabbing his balls. I keep working my tongue up and down his cock. I don’t want him to get used to anything sometimes I bite his thigh or hold his balls a little too tight and hearing him drag a moan is enough for me to feel hot all over. I’m breaking him minute by minute and I won’t feel fulfilled until he’s a mess.

“You need to stop now…”
“Hmm why? You going to spill yourself like a teenage boy.” His jaw clenches and I give him an evil chuckle as I slide to get up from the floor. He stands up and we just stare each other down like animals waiting for the other to strike. He grabs me and lifts me in the air and I unfortunately am so ticklish on my sides I start laughing and he drops me in the middle of the bed. He smiles is a real one not like a shark. I just smile back, and he kisses me different. It’s passionate no doubt but its also softer I run my fingers through his hair and scratch his scalp lightly and he moans in my mouth. It sets him off he reaches under and zips off my bra and throws it and he get on his knees and takes off his boxers gracelessly and my goodness Stefan is working with a lot. Now he’s the one chuckling and opens up my legs and slides through. I start to feel him drag his dick up and down my pussy.

“Stefan…” My moan is dragged out from his teasing. He doesn’t give me any mercy he just keeps playing with me. He glides his finger with the lightest of touches cross my legs and it makes my body shiver. “…please” of course he wants me to beg. He finally goes where I need him to be and slowly enters me and my eyes flutter shut, and he kisses my eyelids and then starts to pick up the pace.

“Look at me when I’m fucking you, Gabi…”
“mmm… pendejo!” I do look at him with a scoff and he fucks it right out of me. I arch my back and I feel him deeper. He picks up one of my legs puts over his shoulder and I wrap my other leg around his torso push him closer.
“Damn, you are flexible Gabi.”
“I take a Pilates class on Tuesdays.” Why am I even telling him this? He rewards me with a quick kiss. I put the leg he had on his shoulder back at his torso and flip him over and I’m on top and I start to ride him.
“Fuck that was sexy.” He holds onto my hips and grinds me down as he pushes up his hip. My head just roll back.
“Callate…” I want it to be forceful, but it just comes out as a moan. I pick up my head and I shove some fingers in his mouth and he just licks them like he’s hungry. I bring those fingers to my clit and rub it roughly.
“Gabi, I’m close… I’m so fucking close…”
“Tell me what I want to hear…” I get close to his face and pin his arms with my hands. He looks at me and if Stefan really wanted, he could flip us over and cum if he wants.
“Make me come Gabi…” I go back to doing my magic meeting him thrust for thrust and then he lets go. I can feel his cum shooting inside me.
“Fuck…baby that was good.” Stefan sounds so sated that I feel like the bomb ass bitch I am. I slowly pull his dick out of me and it makes me shiver. I plop down to the other side spent. Stefan gets up and goes to the bathroom. I close my eyes and think to myself he’s probably going to kick me out now. I feel wet cloth where I’m most sensitive
“Mm, Stefan no I’m too sensitive.” I look at him and he isn’t angry or anything close. He looks like he is concerned about me.
“I know… I know but there’s no reason for UTIs, you would just chew off my ear about it anyways. It would be reason 487 on how I ruined your life.” He is right about the UTI but why is he caring?
“Thanks…” What else do you even say?
“Take a nap, I need to look at the Asian markets but when I’m finished, I’m going to want a second round… entiendes?” He’s in my face and I want to slap him even more than that I wanna kiss him. I put my hand in his hair and pull him closer and give him a sweet kiss that he returns. I wrap my fingers and his hair, and I pull roughly breaking our kiss.
“Espero puedas hacer un mejor trabajo la próxima vez.” (Hopefully you can do a better job next time)
“You are going to need all the sleep believe that.”
“Shut up and check your markets.” I just turn sideways and let the sleep come and take me. All I hear is Stefan laughing and feel him covering me with sheets. Probably to not let himself get distracted with moi. I know I look good.

Chapter Text

Stefan’s POV

I just had sex with Gabi Hernandez… I’m trying to focus on the Asian stock exchanges, and I can’t because all I can think about what Gabi and I just did. Is it so bad I want to hold the woman who ruined my life…? Well if she was awake, she would accuse me the same, but it wouldn’t be so much of a lie. I helped put this woman in prison for murder and she’s just fucked my brains out. She’s sleeping in my bed without a care to the world. I’ve barely looked at the screen to see how my investments are holding me up because my day has been a mix intense worry to heated sex and Gabi was front and center of it all.

I held her tight when she was waiting on news about Rafe. I held her tight when I was fucking her and God, I want to do it again. It makes my blood boil that she could make me want her so bad. I’m so mad I could throw the iPad against the wall in frustration. I like to think I have more tact than that, but I lose quite a bit of rationality when Gabriella Hernandez walks into the room. Even now as she is sleeping peacefully in my bed, I just want to do things that I would rather stay hidden.

It’s not even about the sex with her. She surely can make me hard and wanting at the drop of a hat… it would be simpler if it were just sex. When I see her in action it is like lightening in a bottle. She is so passionate about Gabi Chic and the spreadsheets support her. Gabi Chic is apart of the top 3 subsidiaries of DiMera and is a company in its infancy compared to the other two…

She’s savvy and has a way with the board in a way neither Chad nor I could ever have maybe it’s the fact she isn’t a DiMera that helps. I do get a little excited when she comes into the boardroom and explains projections and direction for GC. Even when she gets objections, she already has an answer waiting for a naysayer. Who knew she could make that old quack d’Alessandro shut the hell up… now he’s her biggest fan.

Gabi starts shifting in the bed and she is now facing me and god its tempting. I’m not going to be able to focus on business… not that I ever was. I set my iPad on the nightstand and lie down in bed and focus on Gabi and how we got here. Her skin is so soft, but she is tough as nails. It makes me smile that she backs down for no one.

I touch her cheek with my knuckle and her eyes flutter open and it makes my stomach flip. I keep my hand there and hold it to her face. She closes her eyes and damn if I don’t want to just kiss her. I rub my thumb across her chin and bring it to her lips. She gives me a gentle kiss to my thumb, and I feel like putty.

“How are the Asian Markets doing bobo?” Fucking Gabi… I should thank her honestly. She can make me go from flustered to angry in less than a second. Even know she dares to call me stupid and she is right. Having sex with Gabi Hernandez isn’t my most brilliant move. I grab her and pull her closer to me. She wasn’t expecting it because her eyes flick open and she catches her breath and even then, she can make that look downright sinful.

“The Asian Stock Exchanges are doing fine…” I grit my teeth as I look into her eyes.

“I bet you don’t even know do you. Couldn’t focus on that with me in your bed, could you?”

“It seems we are being cocky, aren’t we?” Goodness she is full of it.

“Yes, it does seem like someone is being cocky…” Oh god… Gabi has her hands on my dick stroking it through my boxers and fuck if it doesn’t feel good. My eyes fall shut and I let Gabi make me feel good. I feel her soft lips kiss the corner of my lips and I lose my mind. I get on top and pepper kisses all over her face and neck and she uses her feet to take off my boxers. She stops kissing me and I’m mad because I wasn’t ready to stop, and Gabi gets sexier than I thought. She gets on all fours and throws her hair back and just looks at me.

“Stef, stop looking like a fish… close your mouth and fuck me I’m waiting.” I am at a place where I don’t know whether to fuck her or kick her out my bed. Yeah right like I’d kick her out of my bed… I get closer to her and trace my finger across her back, and I can feel her shutter and the gooseflesh appearing. I don’t care about foreplay not when Gabi is in front of me like this. I finger her and make sure she’s ready before I’m guiding my dick in what’s becoming my favorite place.

“Gabi, you okay?” I don’t move because I don’t want to hurt her unnecessarily, but she starts bouncing back on my dick so she’s good.

“Yeah but I need you to fuck me harder…” Careful for what you wish for. “…dios mio Stefan fuck right there… do it again.” I’d be a liar if I said me making Gabi speak in different languages wasn’t a turn on. I love being able to fuck it out of her.

“You like it like that…huh?” I pull her hair roughly with one hand and pull her back while using my other hand to play with her clit and I can feel her cum, and I just keep fucking her through it because I’m greedy and wanna cum too. When it hits me, it feels like I’m being punched in the gut. I lose my reflexes and I fall on Gabi. I’m just shaking on top of her… breathing hard. She starts laughing and it makes me laugh too. I just kiss her sweaty back and I think to myself I’m here laughing with a woman I hate.

“I should go…” I don’t know why my brow furrows. She gestures me to move and I slip out of her.

“Gabi, it’s late and it’s no use trying to go home now just get some sleep.”

“Fine but you have to find my shit in the morning. You threw my clothes everywhere.” She maneuvers herself to get under the covers and I follow her.

“Looks like you got yourself a deal.” I turn her and pull her close and kiss her. I wonder if she’ll pull away, but she brings herself closer and puts her hands in my hair and does that scratching thing that makes me go nuts. I just hug her to my body I can feel her hard nipples against my chest and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing but I can’t seem to stop.

“If you get hard, you’ll have to take care of it cause I’m tired.” She’s looking at me with those eyes so innocent when she wants to be. She gives me a quick peck and her face is usually angry or seductive when she looks at me, but this is different it looks almost vulnerable. Gabi’s vulnerability is an aphrodisiac she seldomly lets it out and not to me but today has changed so much between us. I don’t know how much time has passed but her eyes flicker away from mine and I realize how much I don’t like it and I give her a peck back and she closes her eyes in a smile.

She sleeps on her back and throw an arm around her and my head lays near her hair and goodness her hair smells so good like fresh roses and berries. I feel my eyes getting heavy and I can’t think much of the uncertainty I feel as I fall asleep.

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I’m sorry for such a delay. My computer updated without me saving this chapter and I lost the whole thing, so this chapter wasn’t what I originally had in mind. ☹

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

I start to feel the edge of consciousness come back to me. The bed I’m in isn’t my own. I start to replay how I got here and goodness I think to all the sex Stefan and I had. It makes me upset that I enjoyed it so much, but I think about the plan. I felt the points when Stefan didn’t hate me… I need to capitalize on those times more. He kissed me at some points with passion but also with tenderness and Stefan does not do tenderness with me. I let myself get lost for a sec when I hear Stefan’s voice get more pronounced.

“…It was a long night, but things eventually settled down. After all the drama that happened here last night, I’m hoping to get everything back to normal...” So, he’s talking to Chloe. I was foolish into thinking this plan could work so easily. I am just going to have to step up my game and innocently wake up. I make some moans. “uh…uh no it’s just the maid…” Puta Madre no he didn’t just fucking call me a damn maid.

“The what?!” I angrily ask him what the hell he just said again. He puts his hand over my mouth to keep me from talking.

“Yeah… yeah after everything that happened last night this place got torn up…I’m just making sure the maid knows the trash needs to be taken out…” I find my bra and I’m ready to get out of here. “… I definitely saw my life flash before my eyes a couple times but it’s all good now…” He keeps talking but I could care less what he and Chloe talk about. She is probably acting like he hung the moon it’s ridiculous. He talks about trying to set up a date with Chloe while fastening my bra and he tries to call me trash.

“You are freaking unbelievable… just unbelievable.”

“I think she’s going to say yes…” This idiot is just so full of himself. I scoff because I can’t believe it. We bicker like we usually do, and I make him pay for calling me a damn maid. I twist his balls and make himself por favor for calling me that. I get my point across and I get up to get my shit and hightail out of here.
“What would you have me say Gabi? Hey Chloe, just laying here naked in bed with Gabi…”
“Well you didn’t even have to call her at all…”

“She’s important to me, I wanted to make sure she and the kids were okay… Would you rather have me broadcast it out that you slept with the man you claim sent you to prison? A man you claim to loathe… A man you could not get enough of last night?” I’m already rolling my eyes.

“You are such a pig you know that?”
“Pig, no no no gentleman…” He just scoffs at me.

“Oh hardly…”
“I protected that spotless reputation of yours, maybe I should have gone with the truth. Maybe I should have told Chloe that Gabi came slinking over here like some bitch in heat looking to get laid.” He moves his fingers up and down my arms. Stefan you made your way across the room just to touch me. It looks like you are the bitch in heat. He fucking barks and that makes me have enough. I try to slap him, and he catches my arm and then I try to use the other but he senses it and he grabs the other so I’m stuck. “These hands have touched me for the last time.” He fucking grunts at the end and I wanna punch him so bad. I pull my arms away from him and he releases me. I find my blouse to get away from him.

“I am never ever going to touch you ever again.” Well that’s a lie but I think I made it convincing. I need to push Stefan to his baser instincts to get what I want.

“Are you like this with all the men in your life because its exhausting.” Why are you trying to keep the conversation going Stefan? For someone so adamant having nothing to do with me you can’t seem to let me go. Why do you want to be a man in my life Stefan?
“You know my personal life is none of your business…”
“Take that as a yes… No wonder you’re single, hot but loco only goes so far?” So, you think I’m hot Stefan broke another barrier down. I just scoff like I’m supposed to be some docile bitch to be maneuvered in whatever way for man. Yeah… um no.
“Wow at least I’m not some predator who circles around damsels in distress like cray cray Abigail and La Traviata…”

“Oh, real women?! Women with heart, integrity, vulnerability they threaten you, don’t they?” I laugh because I can think of many instances the women, he described don’t live up to the pedestal he has thrust upon them.
“They what?! I believe you had more woman last night than you think you can handle.”
“I’d say you were proficient…” Ha! That’s why I got your head so twisted to put your pants on inside out huh?

“Proficient what?”

“It’s a pity that all you have to offer is sex.” Honey you know damn well Gabi Chic is stemming the bleeding going on at DiMera thanks to me.

“It’s a pity you didn’t have more to offer.” He looks so ready to argue and he takes my blouse.

“You are such a clever girl Gabi… such fire in your eyes… that mouth on you it’s a shame that all you have is dust around your shell of a heart.”

“You are unbelievable Stefan, don’t insult me again…”

“What are you gonna do about it?” He holds my blouse away and I can see him looking at my lips and I just know this is foreplay for him whether he knows it or not. I go to kiss him, and he’s wraps my body around his waist and brings me to the bed. He starts kissing me on the neck and I moan when I try to bring his head closer and he pins my arms and I’m not fucking having it. I wrap my legs around his waist again and flip him and yank his boxers off. I make myself comfortable sitting on his dick and he groans so loud it makes my ego swell. He goes to unclasp my skirt and I bat his hand away and it’s my turn to pin his arms. I start riding him hard never giving him a chance to catch his breath.

“Gabi, baby please...” I just stop and look at him
“If you touch me, I’ll leave you like this.” He just looks at me and I pour as much of my seriousness I can into my look, and he doesn’t dare touch me. I close my eyes and get lost in fucking him into abandon and use one hand to pinch my nipple and the other to rub my clit and I fuck myself through my orgasm when I feel Stefan’s… I just feel him underneath shaking and his eyes are closed like I gave him nirvana and I think to myself I really did.
I slide off him and get my blouse and is just there breathing hard.

“I did not mean for that to happen…”

“And yet it did… again” Honey you wanted it I just delivered.

“So, what are you gonna do… wait by the phone for Chloe to call you. Hate to break it to you. She didn’t say yes…”

“Meh, she didn’t say no either.”

“Uh oh…” A button is missing from my blouse.

“What?” I just look at him. I don’t care that much but I have to pretend that I do. I would rather Chloe find it. He starts to get dressed and we go downstairs. And lo and behold my button is in Chloe’s hands.

“Good morning, I’m guessing this belongs to you?” This is happening sooner than I though and I’m so ready. “Hi, who wants to go first? What’s going on?”

“Gabi busted into my room this morning with a work emergency.”

“What could’ve been so urgent that you needed to wake him up in his bed.” I just shrug.

“You know sometimes things come up.” I can’t help myself this is fun. I love seeing Stefan squirm.

“Okay Gabi time to go…”

“We weren’t done…”
“Yes, we were.” Oh, Stefan it will not be that easy for you. He looks into my eyes pleading for something.

“I just came to here to discuss that date that you had suggested but it kinda looks like I interrupted a date between the two of you.” I want to laugh in Chloe’s face, but I refrain. I just look to Stefan and he looks so nervous and it makes me so happy on the inside.

“Uhh… A date with Gabi that’s ridiculous… We can’t stand each other.” He couldn’t help but touch me tho. Stefan you are so tactile.

“Well I know you can’t stand her but I’m not so sure she feels the same way about you.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I’m miffed that this bitch really is blind to Stefan.

“It means you have been dropping by quite a bit lately and I’m not sure this business you’ve had couldn’t have waited until he wasn’t in his bedroom.” Wow Chloe you really are a dumb one.

“You want me to explain what I was really doing in Stefan’s bedroom. I’d be happy to tell you.” They both look nervous and that makes me so happy. “The reason I’m here---”

“You’re here again because you showed up unannounced. I honestly have no idea what’s going on with her but it’s not appropriate.” Oh, Stefan it was appropriate when you were eating me out last night.

“Not appropriate interesting choice of words.”

“Now our business dealing will go through my office. If it’s an emergency go through my assistant.”

“You want me to go through your assistant…”

“Yeah that’s what I said… we’ll finish this discussion while I show you out.”
“I am not leaving until I get what I came here for… my button.”

“You never explained how you lost it here.” My goodness la idiota.
“Obviously it must have happened when she was struggling here with Hector.” Wow thanks for the assist Stef. This bitch was the reason why the cartel came here and Me, Ciara and Rafael got caught in the crosshairs.

“Yup things got pretty physical here last night…” I leave it open ended, so Stefan knows not to fucking push me. “… Thank you for finding it for me.”

“You said you came here to discuss business and now you say it’s for a button?”

“It can’t be for both?” You should be apologizing to me.

“I guess it can be for both but that doesn’t explain why you’re wearing the same thing you wore yesterday.”
“Surprised you noticed… Yes, I’m wearing the same outfit because I was in the hospital because I was with my brother who was shot yesterday trying to protect me and Ciara from the thugs who were after you.” Thank goodness Rafael is going to be okay but he could have very much been in worse condition. I don’t feel bad for letting her know the severity about what happen yesterday it also gives me an alibi. Her face drops and the guilt is there.

“I’m... I’m so sorry about Rafe. I’m sorry you all got caught up in my mess…” You should be sorry.

“It’s not your fault Chloe. We’re just glad Hector is in custody and the other guy is dead and hopefully it’s over.” The hell it’s not her fault. Ciara could fucking die you asshat.

“Let’s hope.”

“Okay Gabi, you got your button time to go.” Aww Stefan you tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Sure whatever.

“Hang on one sec Gabi, uh…” What else could you possibly want?

“What now Chloe?”

“I would like to talk to you about your little scheme with Brady?” Ugh Brady is so dumb.

“My scheme with Brady? I have no idea what you’re talking about?”

“I saw the text you sent him.”

“Text… what?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, I saw Brady’s phone. ‘Chloe and Holly will be at the park without Stefan’. Does that sound familiar?” This bitch got a whole lot of nerve... girl bye.

“Oh the text about the park? Oh that text.”

“Is this true Gabi? You’re playing matchmaker with Chloe and Brady.” Shut up Stefan ugh.

“No and no. Yes I sent the text but no I’m not doing that. I just wanted to help I know that Brady is concerned about the cartel going after you.”

“And I was keeping her safe I had bodyguards with her at all times.” Yeah and the guards on your grounds let Hector in no problems

“All I know was that Brady was concerned and I tipped him off that she would be at the park with Holly in case he wanted to keep an eye on her. I’m sorry I thought I was doing the right thing protecting you.”

“Ugh, I don’t know something doesn’t seem right.” I’m tired and sore I don’t really care Chloe.

“Something doesn’t seem right does it Gabi?” Don’t even get me started Stefan because I can blow this up right now.

“I thought Brady just wanted to protect Chloe not doing anything sneaky. You believe me Chloe don’t you?” I could care less if she actually does but I know she can't accuse me anymore

“Well Brady has lied to me before so he is certainly not above it.”

“I never ever thought he wanted to trick you. If that happened to me I would be really upset too.”

“All right all right. Gabi you have your button for the last time… go!”

“Well you know you told me you were going to walk me out to finish our business discussion.” I am not taking no for an answer bobo so let’s go.

“Fine!”

“Hey… than you for not telling Chloe… we slept together.”

“Are you kidding me? I don’t want anyone to know that we slept together it’s humiliating.” Stefan looks affronted but trying to hide it.

“You didn’t seem to mind it when we were in bed…” Oh Stefan for someone who claims it will never happen again you love to bring it up.

“Neither did you…” I toss it right back. I know I threw it down.

“Yeah well uh it’s not happening again.” Whatever you say Stefan…

“Damn right it’s not, like I said we both needed to get it out of our system. And now that it’s gone there is nothing left between us right?” He is warring with himself when I let reality sink in.
“Right…” He says it like it’s a question rather than a statement.
“Chloe’s waiting for you…” I just sashay out of there will my head held high because I know I got him.

I make it home to change into something else. I stare at the blood on my blouse and I get a little teary-eyed but Rafe is fine. It just hit his shoulder and he’s almost back to normal.

I meet up with Brady at the park and I am ready to ream his ass out. He is not a good partner to have. He fumbles at the first scene something is not going well. I took most of the bounce back from dumbass Chloe. How can you be so fucking naïve to believe all of that?

He tells me the plan is off because he ruined his part with Chloe. Oh, whatever Brady. I have been doing most of this shit on my own so I’m going to drop you like the dead weight you are. I don’t have time for this shit. Go Brady I don’t need you slowing me down with you blubbering self. What did my sister see in him?

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I'm so ready for the Summer of Stabi how about you guys?

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

I talked with Sonny at the hospital and it feels nice to be able to speak to him. Use him as a sounding board. He’s my best friend and sometimes my rationality. I told him about my kiss with Stefan, but it has escalated since then. I can’t dare tell him about my night with Stefan. He would not let me live it down no way no how. Sonny doesn’t forget a thing and I do not seriously want to be teased about this for the rest of my days.

I start to strategize how in the hell do I get a repeat with Stefan to really put my plan in motion. His whole rescue Chloe schtick is getting on my nerves because it’s making it harder for me to get what I need. A challenge never stopped me before. My phone starts ringing but I don’t recognize the phone number but it’s a Chicago area code…

“Hello?” I hear so much static and I can barely make out anyone’s voice. The person is trying to say something, but the static doesn’t let anything through. All I hear is en paz and it could be a woman’s voice, but I can’t really distinguish anything, and I try harder to get the person to speak the call just drops.

I don’t know if this was just a wrong number. I try calling it back and it goes straight to voicemail and I almost think to leave a message, but I don’t. This press release for GC has most of my attention but I take a second to visualize how good it will be when I get Stefan to marry and I crush him like the bug he is. I feel it in my heart I can make Stefan so in love with me that I can see the hearts in his eyes. In my fantasy it feels so alluring when I give him his present of divorce papers.

Gabi basta! I stop myself from enjoying myself too much. I have more work to do. I have to keep striking while the iron is hot, and I pay my tab and I start my car with only one goal in mind. It’s not a long drive to DiMera but I use the time to figure out how I am going to get Stefan’s mind away from Chloe and steering towards me. I didn’t wear this dress by accident.

I just breeze on through the front door and make my way to the living room where I can hear Stefan before I see him.

“No Ben! You are not going to try to find this child… you are going to find this child it’s what I pay you for and if you don’t you’re gonna find yourself scrubbing toilets at rest stop outside of Branson, Missouri!” Its funny people cannot show how angry they are when they hang up the phone. Cell phones have nothing on slamming a phone down and the other person hears only you actually hang up and only dial tone. It feels great that Stefan can’t get this show of anger he so clearly wants.

“Oh God…” He is so happy to see he is chanting for God again. It’s a gift I have what can I say?

“I hope Chloe is not blaming you for her kidnapping.” I am sad a little girl is missing but that’s for me to feel later right now I have to crush this man who I know was not expecting to deal with me now.

“No… she is pretty much blaming herself.”

“You two were having dinner…?”

“Yeah, that’s right…”

“A date… she finally let you go out on a date?”

“I’m sorry Gabi but is there a purpose… to this line of questioning?”

“I’m just wanna know how far she let you go? Did she spend the night or what?”

“Don’t be crude Gabi…” Oh honey you like it when I am crude and bossy for that matter.

“Oh okay, so it’s really easy to be a gentleman now with Chloe, is that what it is?” I am going to have fun with you today Steffie

“What does that mean?”

“It means after your wild night with me, you got rid of all that pent-up sexual frustration.” He gives me a look just for a split second he gives me a chulo look before he is going to start with his denial bull.

“What happened between us Gabi shouldn’t have happened. I hope you didn’t come here thinking you were gonna get lucky.”
“Oh please, you’re the one who got lucky. I’m here on business!” I got a lot of business I need to handle with you Stefan.

“I’m not talking business while Holly is missing.”

“Really… you know what fine I can deal with this without you.”

“Hang on ugh Gabi… there’s nothing I can do at this exact moment to help Chloe anyways. SO why don’t you tell me what the problem is.”

“Never mind…” I got’em!

“Gabi come on. What else am I gonna do?”

“Okay, that’s what I thought.” I walk over to the sofa and make sure I get close enough where he gets a good view but not too close that he gets suspicious. I reach over and I start to gather some projections and I know that my plan worked because he is clearly checking me out well my breast but that was my intention. When I lift my head to look at him, but he turns, and I pretend that I can’t see him going right back to staring. Oh, Stefan I won’t rest until I make you mine.

“If we delay orders until next quarters sales figures then we are going to lose momentum.”

“We’ll get it back…” I thought he was supposed to be smart… idiota

“You are not focusing on the opportunity here. Can you please stop thinking about Chloe for one minute and get your head in the game?”

“This has nothing to do with Chloe.”

“No? Then why are you so distracted?”

“Because I am worried about Holly…” Fucking same difference.

“We are all worried about Holly, but we still have a business to run, so if you can’t focus then I will have to deal with this on my own and not wait for your approval.”

“Is that a threat?” Well duh Stefan what else would it be?

“No, I will just get the board to sign off on this and thank you very much for your time.” This is going to set him off in 3…2…1…

“Gabi!”

“What? I shouldn’t have even come here in the first place. I don’t even know---” I open the door and his hand comes out of nowhere and shut the door and is close to me and as much as I don’t want to admit it… it makes my stomach clench in anticipation.

“You’re not going anywhere…” His voice doesn’t yell it’s the same husky tone that made me cum four times that night.
He gets all in my face and it makes me feel for the first time in this exchange is that I am on the defensive.

“What are you doing?”

“Let’s get something straight… you may be the face of Gabi Chic, but I run DiMera.”

“Not very well at the moment. That’s why I am going to do things my way.” I feel some of my confidence coming back to me.

“You work for me… you do as I say.” Are you still talking about work Stefan?

“Oh really…”
“Yes, really.”

“In case you missed the memo Gabi… I’m the one who’s in charge here.” Hmm Papi I hate that I want him to fuck me right now.

“You wouldn’t know how to take charge---” He pulls me into a kiss, and I kiss back, and I don’t want to stop.

“What the hell?! This cannot happen again. I’m gonna go… I’m leaving.” I am not really going but I need Steffie to chase me.

“Fine, go.” Don’t give me an order cabron.

“You want me to stay? You want me stay and watch you pine for Chloe.”

“I’m not pining for Chloe.”

“Yes, you are…”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yeah, you are proving it.” Jaque mate Gabriella felicidades (Checkmate Gabriella congrats).

“You want me so badly…” I bask in my victory a little bit. I’m going to win and get some really good sex for it.

“As badly as you want me…” I pull him close to me and he gets on top and puts my arms above my head. Oh, baby that’s not going to stop me from getting my hands on you.

“Quítate la camisa porfa carrajo.” I’m a Little more anxious than I want to admit. I have been waiting a while to fuck him again and it’s been too long.
“Damn it… you know exactly what you are doing when you start speaking to me in Spanish.” He takes his shirt off faster than I have ever seen him and I wanna touch him again.

Before I can he makes a beeline down my body and he doesn’t even take off my dress he just hikes up my dress and sets underwear to the side and starts licking and I lose my mind.

“Stef… stop it.”

“You really want me to stop now?” He looks at me like I’m crazy.

“No more teasing please. I want you now!” The end of my sentence barely even sounds like a word because I’m so gone. I forget about the plan for a second and I let myself enjoy what’s coming to me.
I can feel the tip nudging me and my stomach does that clench of anticipation and when Stefan is in me, he doesn’t say anything he just looks at me openly here. I hate him because I can imagine him fucking me… every night. I give him a smile that makes him continue. He lifts my legs and slips a pillow under my butt and I want to cry from how good this feels.

“You like that baby?” Stefan smirks at me because he knows that he’s fucking me good. I am trying to string words together but it’s more difficult than it seems.

“Si, Papi.” That’s all that comes out I wish I could be a tad bit more eloquent, but it does the trick. He really is fucking me like a burro now and my moans almost feel like screams. I pinch my nipple hard with one hand while I rub my clit with the other and it doesn’t take me anytime to unravel. Stefan barely lasts longer than I did. I can feel his cum as my first aftershock hits and it makes me shoot through the roof.
I let myself fall into the sheets. I’m in the same spot as I was last time.

“That was… unexpected.” No, I expected it, but I didn’t expect another orgasm so soon.

“I know…”

“I didn’t think that was gonna happen again…”

“Me either.”

“What the hell are we doing?” I am coherent enough to want to know how far I have gotten with getting what I want.

“I have no idea. How did we just end up in bed together again? Especially with Chloe going through hell.” His biceps look so nice. He must do weights. I wonder how they would feel next to my skin.

“I call it multi-tasking.” Goodness I am funny.

“You’re making jokes now?”

“No…”

“There’s a child missing.” Yet you are in bed with me clearly enjoying what we were doing.

“My point is you’re very stressed out okay, you needed relief and now you got some. Now that your head’s clear you’re in a much better place to find Holly.”

“So what? This is a good thing.” What’s between your legs is a good thing Stefan…

“I wouldn’t go that far, it did serve a purpose, a very specific purpose for the both of us. Don’t get all tense up. We didn’t plan for this…” Well you didn’t but I did. Well not for today so I guess we both didn’t plan on this to happen.

“Guess you’re right.” Men are so stupid.

“You know I’m right…” He starts to get out of bed, and I wonder what stupid thing he is going to do now.

“I hate to admit it but that was damn good…”
“Right! But… but this can never happen again. This is not what I need in my life Gabi I mean it… We’re done.” We’re done when I say we are done.

“Totally agree.” He might want to put his pant on correctly if he wants to actually look serious. It’s cute that I get him so flustered.

“Really?!”

“Yeah, uh huh what did you think I wanted this to be some ongoing thing?”

“Umm… Well judging from your enthusiasm a few moments ago.”

“Listen we may be hot between the sheets but don’t forget we hate each other all right and as a therapeutic as this maybe I want in my life than just meaningless sex and we both know that’s all this will ever be.” Like you reduced to nothing.

“Yeah?”

“So now that we got all that out of our systems. We can forget it even happened.”

“Glad we’re on the same page… now why don’t you get dressed and Chloe gets back.” I wish he wouldn’t throw my dress like it’s a rag what a loser.

 

Damn it I see fucking Brady and the idiot has seen me too and of course it’s too late for us to run back up the stairs.

“Well, the hell is going on here? Wow you really are a pig…” This is getting annoying having to do this walk of shame.

“Chloe is in the other room completely upset about Holly and your upstairs having sex with Gabi.” Yes, he was but I’m not letting you think that.
“You don’t know what you are talking about?!”

“Can you go talk to Chloe; I’ll deal with him.” Stefan looks almost scared when he looks at me. He knows I hold so much in my hands right now.

“Ha-ha the walk of shame…”

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here? I thought we agreed to give up the plan.”

“You gave up! I never said I was out.”

“So, Stefan is in?”

“Well, I plan on seducing and marrying him and then taking him for everything he is worth.”

“Well it’s true you slept with the enemy! If you’re gonna do the nasty with Stefan at the same time he is romancing Chloe I think she needs to know.”

“Not so fast Brady. This plan was all your idea.”

“I know that fortunes have changed all right.”

“Well not for me… just because you gave up on Chloe doesn’t mean I have to give up on my revenge. Stefan has to pay for what he did to me.”

“Not with Chloe as collateral damage.”

“If you charge in there right now, you’re gonna look like a fool. You’re gonna look jealous, you’re gonna look vindictive…

“I don’t give a damn at this point.”

“Brady…”

“I’m not gonna let that bastard hurt her. I won’t let that happen.”

“If you would just shut up for one second, you’d know you’re getting this all wrong.”

“How do you mean?”

“Stefan and I did not sleep together…”

“What were you doing up there playing darts?” Brady is funny I almost forgot how much.

“All right fine I threw myself at him!”

“And?!”

“Jerk rejected me.”

“You said when you tested the waters, he was totally into you.”

“He told me he’s not interested he’s into Chloe so if you march in there not only are you gonna look like a fool but you’re gonna humiliate me and I already feel really stupid so please brady just leave it alone okay?” I can always count on Brady being dumber than a box of rocks. He believes me.

I make my way back inside to wait for Stefan.
“You told Brady everything?” I let him squirm a for a second which is nice to see.

“As in I made up a big fat lie and of course it was mortifying even though it wasn’t as mortifying as admitting that I… let’s not talk about that. I told him that I threw myself on you and you rejected me.”

“Brady thinks that you hate me why would he believe that you threw yourself at me?”

“Well because even though I told him you’re a disgusting pathetic excuse for a human being I’m somehow insanely attracted to you.

“And he bought that?”

“Well if anybody understands having the hots for somebody in your freaky family its Brady. I mean he did fall for your twisted sister.”

“That’s true but I’m nothing like Kristen.”

“Well why don’t we take a moment and think about that?” That jab really made want to high five me.

“You would rather have Brady think that you’re some total reject loser as opposed to having think we…” He makes a face that alludes to us having sex.

“Yes… yes I do because I knew that as soon as I told Brady he would go and tell Chloe. And Chloe is all upset about Holly I didn’t want to add to her pain especially because whatever happened between us is never going to happen to us again.

“Wow… umm… thanks for taking the bullet on this one.”

“Yeah well what are frenemies for?” I don’t even wait for him to speak again I just leave. I’m tired of dealing with anymore men right now.

Chapter Text

Sorry it's been so long since an update but Stefan is back starting today!

 

 

Lani has been helping out Rafe out here and there and she has had to contend with Gabi at the Hernandez house. She doesn’t understand this weird ass relationship dynamic she has with Stefan. They aren’t friends but Lani can’t help but be intrigued by it all because when Gabi left in a hurry that night she caught them hot and heavy… it was like you could taste the sex in the air.

 

She and Gabi were most certainly not friends but Lani cannot pretend that its all on Gabi. Most of it has been her fault. Even though she didn’t know JJ had someone special back home she still felt guilty. Gabi tried to make something go on with Eli and so much miscommunication happened and she recklessly slept with him. Eli is the love of her life and she knows that but it was under less than ideal circumstances how they got together.

 

It upset her that her dad was talking about Gabi in such a positive light. She at first had a lot of apprehension of him working at DiMera with all that he told her but he said he was there for Theo. Now sometimes he would talk about Gabi and she asked him with all that Gabi has done how could he possibly think that she is a good person. What she did to Abigail was reprehensible and she doesn’t know how anyone let alone her father could think anything otherwise... Even Eli wasn’t willing to think the way she does about Gabi.

 

She just doesn’t get it… but  she’s here volunteereing to watch David again for Rafe… when she is honest with herself she isn’t ready to go back to work yet.

 

She’s not in the right state of mind and she knows she can’t do her job effectively until she deals with the miscarriage.

 

When Gabi comes into the Hernandez kitchen the both of them sigh.

 

“I didn’t know you were here… again.” Of course Gabi knew which buttons to push but Lani chastises herself because she knows she makes it so easy for Gabi in the first place.

 

“Well hello to you too… did you find your phone?” It gives Lani a little thrill of happiness when her zing hits where she wants it too.

 

“I most certainly did…”

 

“Hmm didn’t think it would take you all night to find it…”

 

“Hmm I didn’t think it would either but I’m not complaining. I’m glad I found it nonetheless…” Lani can’t help it when she laughs. Gabi shouldn’t be this funny… its either that or she needs to get out more.

 

“What’s your deal Gabi?”

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Lani had anticipated the defensiveness but she was ready for it. Gabi is an enigma if there was one.

 

“It’s just I don’t understand you. My dad and Eli see a person I don’t…” She’s being honest she doesn’t get it.

 

“Maybe you see me how you want to see me and not for who I am…” It makes Lani uncomfortable because she likes to believe that she is fair to people.

 

“I don’t understand what you mean Gabi…”

 

“You look for a reason to hate me not like me or whatever because it probably makes you feel less guilty for the cheating… You probably think to yourself Gabi’s such a horrible person I don’t need to feel bad about JJ and Eli… ” Gabi knows she struck a nerve when Lani hand gripped the counter.

 

Lani wanted to just scream at Gabi that she was wrong and that’s not why she feels that way but she wouldn’t be her father’s daughter if she lied. It’s easier for her to give mistruths but she never feels good about lying and someone like Gabi would be able to see through it anyways.

 

“Be that as it may Gabi what you did to Abigail was horrible… she was sick!” She needs to pivot from what Gabi said so she doesn’t have to examine it.

 

“So what?! Everyone says well Abigail was sick… you need to forgive her because xy and z. Yes what I did was cruel but do I feel bad about it… No! I was framed for a crime I didn’t commit and it wrecked my kid. She had already been through enough dealing with the trauma of losing Will. Then he is somehow not dead but he doesn’t remember her. And then I get arrested and convicted for murder! My time in prison was not a vacation… my daughter felt that I abandoned her when I fought for my life and my family. I was beat up and harassed more times then I can count Lani. I may not to be able to have anymore children. I have nightmares still of being beat up where I can feel the blows as if they are still happening so give me a break. What the hell about my mental health? Does my trauma not matter? Does my daughter’s not matter?” Gabi is so upset that she unleashed. She doesn’t talk about her time in prison much outside of her therapist. She’s only told Sonny and Rafe but she assumes Will knows too. Abigail is never talked about in her presence which she appreciates.

 

“I’m… I’m sorry Gabi I didn’t know…” Some tears roll down Lani’s face… of course she knows prison isn’t a cake walk by any means and being confronted with it startles her.

 

“No one wants to know Lani. Everyone sweeps it under the rug because Princess Abigail cannot be confronted with the destruction she caused. I grew up without my father and I know what it’s like to feel left behind… There’s no way in hell I want my daughter to ever feel like she doesn’t deserve my love.”

 

“I get it Gabi… even though I have my dad now it was hard growing up without him. Seeing my friends being picked up at school by their dad and my mom didn’t really talk about it. I just learned to stop asking after a while and just tried to bury it and act like I didn’t care but I did.”

 

“It hurts Lani… it’s a hurt that never goes away and my daughter thought I did that to her. She felt like she wasn’t enough and that I left her on purpose. When I was found innocent people were already coming to me to ask that I forgive Abigail. I still had fucking bruises healing in a prison hospital. Every where I turn I find someone related to her speaking on her behalf before she ever spoke to me. Could you honestly tell me you would be so quickly to forgive when every time you see your daughter she says she hates you?” Gabi hasn’t really vented to anyone besides Sonny but it feels so good to let it out.

 

“Gabi, she won’t be like that forever… she’s just confused…”

 

“You’re damn right that she’s confused and no empty ass sorries is going to change that…” Lani pours a cup of coffee and slides it to Gabi. It throws Gabi but she still accepts the coffee. “Thanks…”

 

“Don’t mention it.” They both find it weird that they just had a conversation that didn’t devolve into a catfight. Lani guesses this is the Gabi that her father sees.

 

“The coffee is good but mostly because it’s from Mexico. What are you doing in my kitchen?” She’s not being mean, but she is surprised to see Lani in her house multiple times now.

 

“Rafe asked me if I could watch David because it’s been pretty much all hands on deck at the station…”

 

“Why aren’t you there with them?” Gabi sips her coffee and she thanks her mother for bringing them the coffee with her last visit.

 

“I’m not really ready yet for all that but I still need to do something so I don’t mind helping out with David…”

 

“Are you okay with that? Caring for a baby after what happened?” Lani appreciates Gabi not tip-toeing around her David. She hates when people act like she’s some weakling. When people try to be ‘polite’ it makes her want to pull out her hair.

 

“Yeah its hard because I thought I would be welcoming my baby to the world but this little boy needs some love until his mother can come back for him.”

 

“Well it’s a nice thing of you to help my brother…” Since Lani is being pleasant… she will too…

 

“So what are you doing today?” It feels weird to speak to Gabi about something as mundane as her day.

 

“I have to get to work… I need to start designing pieces for my new collection…”

 

“Well have a good day… maybe we should do this again…”

 

“Hmm maybe but let’s make it something stronger than a coffee…” Gabi winks at Lani and both of them are a little confused because did the ladies just become friends… with each other?

 

Chapter Text

“You got it bad…” Gabi laid her head on Stefan’s shoulder contemplating how to be sympathetic but she knows she really needs to get Stefan looking in her direction.

 

She needs to be patient but she truly doesn’t understand why Stefan is so gung ho on Chloe… but there’s chinks in the armor because he can’t help but want Gabi.

 

“I do…”

 

“What the hell?!” It surprises them both when they see Chloe in the doorway and Gabi has been hoping for the day Chloe found out about them but she just wish it didn’t happen while she was naked under the sheet.

 

“What’re you doing here?” Stefan is in for the shock of his life wrapping his head around how to explain this but he can barely find his pants.

 

“What are you doing here?” Chloe is just trying to figure out how foolish she could be.

 

“I thought you were at…”

 

“At Holly’s memorial… yeah I was and then Kate told me that Parker was upset turns out he’s fine in the other room playing with Ari… while the two of you were playing with each other…” With every second that passes by Chloe gets more upset with herself because how was she blind with it. Every time she was in the room with the two of them the undercurrent of sexual tension… it would choke her.

 

“It’s not what you think…” Gabi is calm but she knows she has to be for the long game. She doesn’t feel like she should have to explain anything to Chloe she just wants her to drop Stefan and make her life easier.

 

“Oh its exactly what I think… and you’re a pig…” She wants out of here… having to have a memorial for her best friend’s daughter… her son’s sister is hard enough for her she doesn’t want to be here to listen to the excuses of a man who she long suspected had feelings for Gabi.

 

“Wait… wait please!” Stefan wants to plead his case to Chloe… he can’t let her leave like this.

 

“Why?! What are you going to say that you didn’t mean to have sex with Gabi?! What… was an accident and you tripped and fell on top of her… and you’ve been sniffing around here for a while, was it good for you?”

 

Gabi gets up and looks for her things because she succeeded in what she came out here to do… “I’m going to let you two discuss this…” She just slinks out the room and neither she the hint of a smile on her face.

 

“All right Chloe… listen to me please I—”

 

“Sorry umm…excuse me…” Gabi reaches down to grab some more of her things. Stefan should have really been mindful to throw her things in a pile together while he was busy fucking her.

 

“Seriously?!” He would laugh if it wasn’t him in this situation.

 

After that day Chloe was just done with Stefan and she is not going to be doing any love triangles or whatever Stefan thought was going to happen.

 

His excuses were lame and if she were honest with herself when she saw Gabi and Stefan side by side they looked right for each other.

 

She knew she should have gone with her gut. She tried to make herself push for more because it had been a while since she really had dated but she her instincts proved her right when she caught Stefan with Gabi.

 

It was nice that someone offered her protection but she shouldn’t have based a relationship on gratitude. She wants to be with someone who has the same passion Gabi and Stefan have for each other.

 

 

Ever since that last night Stefan had been discreetly avoiding Gabi but she was aware that he was doing it. She didn’t know how to proceed with her plan if she couldn’t find Stefan. How can he fall in love with her if she never sees him?

 

“Kate hey its me Gabi, I need your advice I haven’t heard from Stefan. I don’t know what’s going on with him and Chloe… I don’t know anything okay and I need to be careful of what I do next—” She gets a little fearful of how much Stefan hears when she realizes he started speaking.

 

“Why do you need to be so careful?” He’s calm which sets her on edge but she knows that he can’t decipher her true meaning from her words so she’s still okay.

 

“I was telling Sonny I need to be careful with Arianna… She’s really upset about Holly…” He doesn’t look like he believes her but she knows he can’t call her out on it.

 

“Why aren’t you with her right now?” She has to bite her tongue because when she hears that she has a fuse that goes off. He cost her a good amount of time with Arianna and the irony of him saying that makes her upset on the inside but she’ll make him pay.

 

“I wouldn’t be much help to her because I can’t stop thinking about—” She throws the ball back into his court.

 

“About how Chloe caught us in bed together?” That’s one way of putting it…

 

“Yeah… Okay and I was thinking you two can work things out…”

 

“Well that didn’t go over well… Chloe and Parker moved out this morning…” Gabi knows she needs to hide her excitement because she’s not out of the woods yet. “…Whatever we had is gone and it’s your fault.” Gabi just thinks to herself he wasn’t complaining one bit when she rode him like a burro.

 

“How is this my fault?!” She knows that it was her plan to get him focused on her but she can’t make a man want her if he isn’t inclined…

 

“You were the one who insisted we have that last go around!”

 

“I do not remember insisting that?!”

 

“And that’s the one Chloe walked in on…” Gabi laughs to herself because he’s such a man. He thought with his dick and his mind couldn’t catch up.

 

“How was I supposed to know she was going to come home early?!”  She damn well knew Chloe would have rushed home early but Stefan doesn’t know that…

 

“It was a mistake getting involved with you… this whole thing—”

 

“Okay… I’ll go talk to Chloe and tell her it meant nothing…” She’s lying through her teeth but she wants Stefan to feel she will protect him.

 

“I already tried doing that… let’s just say it didn’t fly!”

 

“It’s going to be different coming from me!”

 

“No its not… you’re going to make it worse! That’s a natural talent of yours… making this worse!” He’s exactly right because she was going to do a subtle victory lap had he agreed.

 

“You know what… I am tired of being the scapegoat. You know what I did not force and I did not put a gun to your head to force you in that bed. It’s not my fault you can’t keep your hands off me…” She makes sure to bring it full circle and make Stefan go after what he really wants. He wouldn’t be at her house for any other reason.

 

“No you didn’t put a gun to my head but you were also barely wearing any clothes.”

 

“All right I am done! What are you doing here at this time of the night? Please tell me its not just to yell at me?!” Even though she wants Stefan to get riled up she really does not want to lose her patience and go off on him.

 

“Its not uncommon to yell at someone whose ruined every facet of your life? Especially at odd hours!” She finds it rich that he has the nerve to say that. She still has PTSD from prison… nightmares where she still feels the blows raining down on her… feeling like she can’t breathe no matter how hard she tries.

 

“Stefan, I don’t buy that. No, I don’t buy that at all. You needed some excuse to come and see me because you can’t stop thinking being with me and is that’s the case… you can forget it!”

 

“I didn’t come here to hit on you! I came her to tell you whatever screwed up thing we had is over.”

 

“That is fine by me, I’m no one’s consolation prize or worse a rebound relationship. It’d be fine if I didn’t know you were using me or if I thought you were had any feelings for me other than lust…”

 

“I don’t.”

 

“Good…”

 

“So good night and good luck!” He starts to make his exit when he looks back at her like he really doesn’t want to leave. “Wait… I… I don’t want to leave this way. I had no business yelling at you. It’s not like you tied me down and had your way with me.  Chloe left because of me because of what I did. So it was lousy of me to take it out on you. I’m sorry.”

 

“Apology accepted.”

 

“See you at work tomorrow?” He looks hopeful and it distracts her because the feeling of happiness crops up when he looks at her like this. Its in these seconds she forgets her plan and just let herself feel the moment.

 

She steels herself because she doesn’t want Stefan to see or feel her vulnerability.

 

“I’ll see you at work tomorrow.” She’s curt and he just gives a slight nod and he leaves.

 

Her plan is still in play but that funny feeling in her gut makes her a little upset because now is not the time for her to be feeling anything for him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Gabi gets to DiMera Mansion she is looking for Nicole’s ass. This whole business with hiring Nicole is eating at her. She wouldn’t have felt worried if Nicole wasn’t acting like a whole other person. At first, she thought it could be the Chloe angle but Nicole can’t stand the sight of Chloe right now so Gabi doubted it could be out of solidarity.

 

She turned Eric away and trying to cozy up to Brady which is weird because Will was telling her that Eric felt like it was their time the last time they saw each other. Maybe she feels he didn’t fight hard enough for Holly which is debatable. He was ready to go through with a custody battle for her. Its almost like she feels indifferent to her daughter’s death. If anything happened to Ari… Gabi doesn’t know how she would be. She knows she can’t judge someone’s grief… maybe Nicole can’t process her daughter’s death yet.

When Gabi makes her way to the living room she was expecting for Stefan to be there. She still feels anxious about everything and jumps a little when she hears someone cough. When she turns, she sees its Stefan and breathes a little easier. She doesn’t like people to sneak up on her.

 

“I thought Nicole was in here…”

 

“Yeah I did too… I was waiting around so she could sign these contracts. When I came to bring them to her she was gone.” Gabi is a little more on edge with how concrete it sounds.

 

“So you’re gonna do it? You’re gonna hire her?” She has one of the most successful companies within the umbrella and doesn’t want to be short-changed or worse out on her ass.

 

“It’s time for some new blood at DiMera Gabi... Abe Carver has accepted my job offer I’m sure its driving the old man nuts but I don’t do business the way he did. Nicole has the business savvy, Abe has the honest reputation… it’s the dawn of a new day at DiMera.”

 

“I get it… I get wanting to remake this company… it needs it okay. But I worry you’re trying to sideline me, trying to force me out.”

 

“That’s absolutely not true.” Stefan means it… he likes being able to work closely with Gabi… a little more than he likes to admit.

 

“I hope you’re not telling me what I want to hear because I cannot take another loss today okay. I just finished taking my daughter to her dying father’s wedding.”

 

“Will and Sonny got married?”

 

“Yeah they got married in his hospital room and it was beautiful but I am afraid that wedding was also his funeral. He’s the father of the only child I’ll ever have… my best friend.” She hates showing her vulnerability even worse to Stefan but she needs to let it out.

 

“Come here…” His voice is gentle and she walks closer to his open arms and she let’s herself be comforted by him. When she collects herself again, he tells her to sit and he’ll grab her a drink.

 

She sits on the sofa as he fixes her drink. “Thanks…” And she is thankful when he hands her the drink and sits beside her.

 

“I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.” He didn’t know when he started to feel the itch to comfort her when she needs it but its become instinctual.

 

“I’m just worried about my daughter. You know she asked me the other day if my dad dies will be come back again…”

 

“How did you answer that?” He feels uncomfortable for Gabi. He couldn’t imagine having to explain that to a child especially as young as Ari.

 

“I mean I’m glad she has Sonny and he’s never stopped trying to be her father… Rafe tried his best to take my dad’s place although he was an amazing older brother… it just was not the same.” Sonny has been the constant parent in Ari’s life weathering every storm whether it was Gabi in jail or Will dying and coming back but Ari cried out for Will in her sleep. She needed to sleep in Gabi’s bed sometimes to make sure her mommy didn’t leave her like her daddy did.

 

“I know exactly what you mean…” Stefan grew up without Stefano in his life and its still a void in his life.

 

“Well I guess growing up without a father is another thing we have in common.” She just sips her drink knowing she could take advantage of this moment when he’s letting his guard down but she doesn’t. She’s been warring with herself about the plan already.

 

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately…”

 

“Why lately?”

 

“Had a little chat with Victor Kiriakis… Didn’t hesitate to tell me I don’t measure up to the old man.”

 

“Take that as a compliment… you’re father’s not a good person and neither is Victor…”

 

“Thanks but I think he was getting at that I have a lot to learn which is true…”

 

“Weren’t you like the wolf of wall street?” She is not going to let a potential husband of hers let Victor get into his head.

 

“That’s corporate its totally different… DiMera now I’m part of a dynasty. I feel like I have to prove myself to an old man I never met before.” It weighs on him because his siblings knew Stefano while he never will.

 

“I think you’re doing all right…”

 

“The company’s not stable… It’s not what it used to be.”

 

“I think you’re exactly what DiMera Enterprises needs.”

 

“You don’t have to say that…”

 

“You know me by now… I don’t say anything I don’t believe…”

 

“Except when it gets you what you want…” Touché Stefan but Gabi really means it. This talk for her isn’t about her plan forming together. It ushers in doubt on whether she can go through with it.

 

“That’s true but I’m being honest. You’ve had a lot of distractions lately but you’re pretty focused now. I don’t know I think you have what it takes for people to say… Stefano who?” Stefan wants so badly to call her a liar but he feels the honesty oozing from her and he thinks for a second what it would be like to have her on his side always bigging him up.

 

“Thanks for the pep talk…” The shift of him comforting her to her comforting him is that something that doesn’t go unnoticed.

 

“Thanks for the pep talk…”

 

“I’m glad it helped.” As Gabi starts to get up to leave Stefan has to push down the feeling of disappointment at the fact that she’s leaving.

 

“I’m really really sorry about Will…” He doesn’t know what else to say but that. How do you comfort someone going through this?

 

“Thank you, he just really needs to make it. I’m not ready to think about what life would be like if he doesn’t. Buena noche…”

 

“Buenas noches…” He doesn’t speak as much Spanish since he moved here. He loves speaking to Gabi… in a way that’s more intimate because she doesn’t speak it to anyone they know… maybe besides her brother and daughter so it definitely makes him feel exclusive in a way.

 

Even though she leaves the mansion he thinks about her for the rest of the night.

 

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

I have to go to Stefan which I am excited for. It’s been a while since I wanted to confide in someone but I want to… I’m just afraid this inkling of trust I have for him is making it hard for me to focus on my goals.

 

The drive isn’t going to be too long and Rafe is watching Ari right now so just in case I get sidetracked with Stefan she’s with someone I trust.

 

As I’m driving I can hear my passenger vibrating and I realize I’m getting a call. I know it’s bad but I take my eyes off the road for one second and the number on my phone says unknown.

 

When I answer I hear that heavy static again and I have my Bluetooth connect on… I hear the static in surround sound and the person is speaking Spanish. I can hear them and I think they might be a woman. There’s about two seconds with no static and they say ‘el arquitecto de mi propio destino’…

 

I just yell asking who is this and I know they are speaking but its so muffled I can’t make out anything they say. The call drops and I’m pulling into the DiMera mansion.

 

The person on the call said I’m the architect to my own destiny and I wonder if there’s anyone else who might know about my plan with Stefan?

 

Brady is an idiot chasing after the ‘newest love of his life’ I doubt he would tell anyone about what I wanted to do maybe Chloe but she wouldn’t be calling me and she doesn’t speak Spanish.

 

I get a little nervous that someone could be onto me but I have to let the feeling go because the only one who knows is Brady and he’s to busy trying to chase around Chloe.

 

The call shakes me because its such a specific thing to say but they hung up before I could get any real answers.

 

I can think about the call later because I want to tell Stefan the news and I can’t keep obsessing over what that call means because I’ll be sitting in my car in front of Stefan’s house all night then.

 

Come on Gabi ring that doorbell and just tell Stefan the news … you can analyze the call later…

 

I wait for Stefan and the knots in my stomach is a familiar but distant feeling but I’m sure he’ll be happy to see me.

 

When he opens the door, I open my mouth but no words come out…

 

“I was just thinking about you…” Were you know?! Hmm

 

Be playful and fun Gabrielita “Should I be nervous?” I do feel a little nervous but its that good nervous.

 

“If you’re wondering if I read the GabiChic budget I haven’t but its at the top of this stack…” Honey I love my business, but I could care less right now.

 

“I didn’t come for business.”

 

“Okay…” I know he’s a little confused but I like to keep him on his toes.

 

“I just wanted to let you know that Will has made an amazing turnaround and he’s going to make a full recovery…” I’m so excited because Will is my family and I’m not ready to say goodbye.

 

“That’s good news.”

 

“Yeah…” I still can’t believe it.

 

“I’m so happy for you. Ari must be thrilled…”

 

“Oh yeah we spent the entire night at the hospital. She lit up when she saw him get better.”

 

“So you came here to give me the good news?” It was my first instinct to tell him and it worries me that I’m not as in control as I once was.

 

“No, I wanted to say thank you. I was really struggling the other night and you helped me get through that.”

“Glad I could help.”

 

We just stare at each other and I want to hug him but this is not going as I suspected. Its weird how we can be so hot together and so awkward at other times.

 

“Okay… uh so I should let you get back to your work…”

 

“Wait Gab… Don’t go…” When he says it like that it throws my focus. “… I was just about to sit down for dinner with all this paperwork… care to join…” Who am I to turn down a free meal?

 

“A working dinner?” Goodness I’m glad I’m not the only one that does the awkward flirting.

 

“Just dinner… A good meal and a great bottle from the cellar.” Hmm trying to wine and dine me Mr. DiMera?

 

“What about your stack of papers?” My confidence is building and even though stomach feels funny… I can feel my surefootedness coming back with each word I utter.

 

“They can wait… So what do you say? Unless you have to get back to Ari?” Hmm it seems I’m not the only one finding their smoothness.

 

“Ari’s at a sleepover so I’m free the rest of the night…” She is having a sleepover with David and Rafe.

 

“So it’s a date…” I don’t know where I find the will to not bit my lip when he says the word date but I do. But I’m happy when he says those words like they are nothing.

 

I feel every bit of the bad bitch I am and I strut my way into this man’s house and I can feel the weight of his stare checking out just how my dress hugs every part of me.

 

We go to his dining room and the food we eat is so good. It rivals a freaking restaurant and in my head I need to remember to ask the chef if they have a recipe because I need to make this for family night when I have Will and Sonny over because I’m going to be able to do that with Will again.

 

After dinner Stefan asks for a nightcap in the living room and of course I say yes I don’t want this night to end.

 

“I don’t know if I could get used to the idea of snapping my fingers and having a five star meal anytime I want.”

 

“Have?! I didn’t have this meal. I prepared it myself…” What the fuck? He must be shitting me because how Sway?

 

“Wait, you made the dinner? How’d you learn to cook like that?” I am thoroughly impressed!

 

“Well I didn’t grow up in a mansion with a staff… I made my own way and I taught myself how to cook. Mostly to impress the ladies but still…” Of course he did that to up his game. Stefan is the most prepared man I know outside of Rafe. It doesn’t surprise me that he has tools to make him look like the ultimate catch.

 

“Well it worked because that was amazing and these by the way look fantastic.” I’m going to have to work out extra hard with the dessert on that plate.

 

“Oh yeah… Parker and Holly used to love them. I used to sneak them to ‘em when Chloe wasn’t looking…” I feel sad on the inside because that little girl didn’t deserve to lose her life especially like that.

 

“You really miss them…”

 

“Yeah everyday… Still when I think about Holly its so hard to process.” He’d probably make a great dad one day.

 

“I know…” I do know because I’d burn the world to make sure my Arianna was safe.

 

“You know I even had a slide installed in the pool. Thinking we would be in there all summer but now there’s no one to use it so…” Come on Stefan you can’t go down that line of thinking…

 

“Well an empty slide that’s a sad thing…” I have to steer him back into the present and not get lost in the what ifs.

 

“Yeah it is… You’re welcome to bring Ari sometime to swim if you like…” Honey your little slide ain’t it because Victor went all out for Ari. It’s no surprise to anyone that Sonny is his favorite so Victor made sure she basically has her own private water park. It’s ridiculous but Sonny said he can’t help the fact that he’s the favorite.

 

“She’s always at Sonny’s pool…”

 

“Hmm of course…” He’s trying to invite me into his life a little more so I decide to throw him a bone.

 

“It doesn’t have a slide though. So maybe we can stop by next week…” Technically it doesn’t have a ‘slide’. Sonny said what it was in Greek and it was like nero something or whatever. Victor claim its not the same and all that. I just think it was an excuse for him to flex because it’s fucking Victor.

 

“I’d like that very much…” It annoys me that his soft smile makes my heart beat faster. I’m so used to the shark smile that I get lost in this feeling.

 

We keep talking to each other and learning so much that I don’t even feel the time fly or how many cups of wine I have had. I’m not drunk it’s a pretty low alcohol count but I’m shocked we finished the bottle without noticing.

 

“Wow… it is actually pretty late I’m gonna go and you have all those budgets to go over…” I don’t want this night to end but I do actually need Stefan to look over the budgets because I need to make sure my company is well-funded for my ambitious goals for the next two quarters.

 

“Oh yeah there’s nothing like looking over numbers after a bottle of wine…” It’s no time to play hooky. You didn’t get it done before so you need to do it now.

 

“Buzzed or not you’re going to realize that my plan is better than anything Nicole Walker has for Basic Black…” I still can’t believe that Stefan is going forward with this. I don’t want to have to fight with yet another company for resources. He’s laughing at me and I don’t appreciate it! “…What’s so funny?”

 

“Gabi, Nicole’s not a threat to you…” He says it so calmly I need to calm myself because I have the urge to give him a slap.

 

“Basic Black is a direct competitor.” How is he pretending to be so obtuse?

 

“I’m not talking about the company; I’m talking about you as a person. Gabi I have hundreds of employees and not one of them with your work ethic, your creativity and certainly not your passion. As for Nicole, she didn’t even show up to work today…” Hearing Stefan talk about me like that makes me feel a type of ways. Its different to hear it from him versus my brothers or my baby daddies.

 

“Well I told you it was a mistake to hire her.” I am never above saying I told you so. “Why don’t you just cut her loose?” If she’s not contributing what’s even the point.

 

“That’s what I was going to do but Abe Carver convinced me to give her another chance.”

 

“And you’re just going along with that?”

 

“She said she was not feeling well… I think there’s something else going on. I still think she’s mourning her child. There are days where you’re perfectly fine and there are days where you’re getting out of bed seems like a chore and I think today was probably one of those days. Hey… why you looking at me like that?” I could just kiss him. His compassion is really sexy. I may not be the biggest fan of Nicole lately but I can understand that. When I was in prison I didn’t feel like I had anything to live for when Ari didn’t want to come visit me anymore.

 

“Everyone in this town thinks you’re heartless you know that?” But they don’t know him.

 

“Do you?”

 

“No, not anymore…” And it’s not a lie which makes following through with my plan harder. I don’t know what to do because Stefan is just someone who could be so good for me.

 

He escorts me to the door with the biggest smile on his face and I just think he’s just the biggest dork when he let’s you know the real him.

 

“Don’t worry I am not going to ruin your spotless reputation for being heartless. I know you worked heart to cultivate that.” His smile widens when I say spotless reputation. I’m teasing him and using an inside joke to do it. It feels so intimate…

 

“I appreciate it.”

 

“And thank you for a surprisingly lovely evening.” I see his eyes move towards the stairs and then back at me and Gabi girl you still go it. He want it.

 

“Are you sure you have to leave? I mean we have a meeting here in the morning. It would save a lot of time on your morning commute if you just stayed?” He’s cute when he’s like this.

 

“Your worried about my morning commute?” Boy stop…

 

“You know traffic… this town… you know that time of day can be intense…” Really Stefan?

 

“Intense?” Tell me what I want to hear burro.

 

“All right you need me to say it.”

 

“What?” I gotta make him work for it. A meal don’t mean a thing.

 

“I would like for you to spend the night…” There it is! I let him squirm a little bit. I want to run to him and jump up and down but I’m not letting him see me like that because his ego is already big enough. When I step closer and closer to him… when we kiss my god does it feel right. There’s lust in the kiss I think there’s always that undercurrent when it comes to us but I also feel a lightness with the gentleness of us kissing.

 

When we stop kissing he just stares at me and holds his hand out and I take it and follow him up the stairs. With each stair I climb I feel my heart beating faster.

 

When we get to his room I don’t need any reminder of where anything is. I realize I’m next to his side of the bed. All the times we had sex the only time I laid on his side of the bed was when Chloe caught us.

 

I feel his arm snake around my waist and he kisses a sensitive part of my neck and my whole body shudders.

 

“God I could feel your pulse when I kissed you baby… Damn you don’t know how sexy it is for me to feel how I make you…”

 

“I can feel you too bobo…” Bobo may mean stupid in Spanish but he knows its said with affection. I’m so used to calling him his nicknames I couldn’t stop now and by the way he chuckles I doubt he wants me too.

 

When he pulls down the zipper of my dress slowly nipping the space between my shoulder and neck, I let out a loud moan. Stefan is the best sex I’ve ever had and he knows how to really turn me on because he listens and catalogues every moan… every want… he’s a bastard who likes me to beg but I always get my payback.

 

This time it’s slow but urgent. I feel like I must have kissed every inch of Stefan’s body and had him grunting probably trying to not blow his load before I could fit all of him when I ride him.

 

I ride him and we made sure to keep the lights on. We both wanted to see what we do to each other. Through the night we take turns to make each other cum.

 

When bobo makes sure I cum this last time I have to tap out and he kisses me lazy on my face and I clutch myself to him. The sex is emotional and this is not how I envisioned everything when I came up with my plan.

 

Our foreheads pressed together makes me pause. I can feel the heat from his exhales. Our bodies close together fits unlike anyone I have ever been with before.

 

As I fall asleep I realize that I am in trouble…

 

Chapter Text

 

Paige had kept asking Gabi for advice when it came to her LATAM history class and it opened so much for Paige.

 

She had been having such a hard time with feeling so alone after being betrayed by JJ and her mom. Feeling like a fool going to that party with liars like Jennifer Horton. She trusted Jennifer… thought she would be nothing like her mother, but it was a lie. Paige chastises herself because of course Jennifer chooses JJ… it’s her son! She was just the girlfriend… They were building something after all the missteps, and she loved him.

 

He stepped all over her trust and just lied over and over and over again. He could just never tell the truth. At her birthday party even as she asked him to tell the truth he just kept lying through his fucking teeth.

 

“Tía , you broke my crayon!” Paige looks down at the coloring pencil and Arianna is right she did break the pencil. She hadn’t really been focusing on coloring with Ari and the little girl was most certainly not impressed.

 

“I’m so sorry honey. Let me use the sharpener and good as new…” Gabi looks up from her laptop to see what’s happening between her daughter and this girl who she feels like the little sister she has never had. She feels a little like Arianna getting it… trying to be there for Paige…

 

It was nice to have someone in her corner that she could trust… She knows it was hard for Gabi to trust people after being with a loser like Nick. It feels nice to have someone trust in her as she trusts in them.

 

“Muñeca, are you okay?” Gabi has been a little worried about Paige lately. Normally she’s so focused and confident but lately she’s been a little scattered.

 

“Yeah, I just had some things on my mind…” Gabi knows what to do in order to make Paige more comfortable. She pulls up Sesame Street on her laptop and gives Ari some headphones and fixes Paige a look that says spill.

 

“So you going to tell me what has you in a twist that you are breaking colored pencils? You know Crayola is the most expensive brand at the store right?” Paige giggles at Gabi’s sass. She has this way of making Paige feel like she belongs.

“So my ex has been reaching out wanting another chance and I don’t really know what to do…” JJ is her first love and she wants to believe in him but he lied to her face and would have kept doing I if she hadn’t known the truth. How could she be with someone like that?

 

“Hmm he’s trying to get back what he lost but do you think that he is worth your time?”

 

“I don’t know… he hurt me so bad but he also loves me…” Sleeping with her mother is just about the worst thing she could have ever imagined he could do… then again how could her mind go to such a place.

 

“Baby girl… I can’t tell you what to do but maybe you are looking at it wrong…”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“If you are making excuses then it means deep down you still have reservations. So how about you try something different…”

 

“What do you think I should do?”

 

“You don’t have to marry JJ… Babe you’re 19 you don’t have to make it this grand thing. If you want to date do it doesn’t mean you need to marry him. If you want to be with him, you can set your own boundaries and if he actually gives a damn then he will have to do it on your own terms.” Paige thinks that Gabi might be onto something. She can take this time to decide what she really wants with JJ.

 

They both hear the front door open and they can hear Rafe on the phone telling the Salem PD that they need to find someone else because he’s not going to be enticed with overtime. When he comes into the kitchen, he’s happy to see his family and he’s happy he went to go buy food since it was his night to cook. Ari takes the headphones off hoping whatever her mother was talking about is done because Uncle Rafe is here.

 

“I come bearing gifts…” Ari gets excited by her uncle’s words but she sees its just food so she’s deflates a little…

 

“Oh I see what you are doing Rafael. It’s your night to make food so of course you get takeout…” Gabi loves giving Rafe a hard time but its all out of love.

“It smells like Alegrias…” Paige hopes she is right because ever since Rafe brought it home once it has become one of her favorites.

 

“It is! I am glad to know there’s someone who appreciates it!” He traveled to Chicago get the best Mexican seafood the least he could get is some appreciation.

 

“I appreciate you Rafe!” Paige has been waiting anxiously for the promise of dinner ever since she got out of class.

 

Ever since Gabi got out of prison its been hard for her to get back on her feet. Having her move in has kind of been a blessing in disguise for them all. Rafe was able to come home to his family and Paige has found a family she has chosen.

 

“Hey, I appreciate you too but you are not going to get away with being slick!” Rafe loves that his sister’s confidence is coming back to her even if it’s at his expense.

 

As they eat they tell each other about their day and it may seem like this is a mundane and ordinary practice but for each person in that room it means so much more because each of them remembers when they couldn’t do the mundane and ordinary.

 

“Why do you keep speaking nonsensical Spanish? How the hell is anyone supposed to find us if you won’t tell them where we are?” Nicole doesn’t mean to be so critical. Paige is a sweet girl but she just wants to get back to Eric. She might not speak it much but she sure as hell understands what Paige said and its not going to get them anywhere.

 

“Darling you know you’re my girl but I need to be out of here… I could be in Copacabana having caipirinhas being fabulous instead of stuck in this dreadful house.” Even if this house is slightly better than the last one and she isn’t by herself under constant guard she is still being held captive. Vivian admits that these ladies have grown on her even the child Holly but she wants to see her son.

 

“Just in case they are listening in on the calls they wouldn’t be able to understand what I mean. I just need a few more times before I’m sure she will understand. I also need to prove to Gabi that I am me. I can’t just say hey it’s Paige back from the dead and expect her to believe me. She will need to know things that no one else could know except me and the phrases will be proof to her.”

 

“Do you really think we can trust her? How do you know she won’t go to Rafe? Have a SWAT team coming over here? If they get spooked, they may just move us again…” Vivian knows she isn’t Gabi’s biggest fan after the frame job she and Stefan put on her. She may not like the girl but if Gabi is the one to come here then she just might get left behind.

 

“Gabi is like a sister to me, but I don’t think she would. Rafe would have to take time to coordinate something like that and Gabi won’t risk it.”

 

“Paige… there’s something you should know…” Vivian wants to tell Paige the truth about Gabi being her sister. Who knows if they will ever leave but she should know shouldn’t she?

 

“Vivian!” Nicole is not letting Vivian tell Paige what she thinks because that should come from Gabi or Rafe certainly not Vivian.

 

“Tell me what Vivi? What going on?” This is why Vivian hates getting close to people… Paige doesn’t like the looks between Nicole and Vivian and wants to know what they are keeping from her.

 

“Well… Gabi might not be so inclined to helping me…” Vivian decides to listen to Nicole instead of coming up with a witty insult.

 

“Gabi isn’t like that! The only people she wouldn’t help is someone who came after her or her family…”

 

“Well you see Paige I may have had a hand in sending Gabi to prison…” How does she explain to the girl who’s been her caretaker that she helped put her sister behind bars? She doesn’t even know that Gabi is her sister, but they have bond that predates Vivian knowing either one’s existence…

 

“Vivi that’s not possible! Nick was bastard all by himself. You didn’t tell him to rape Gabi… you didn’t even know him?!” Paige starts to get upset because she hates Nick for terrorizing Gabi.

 

“No absolutely not! I wouldn’t!”

 

“Then I don’t understand!” Paige is getting frustrated because why would Vivi say that?!

 

“Well I didn’t know about the circumstances of Gabi being in prison before. I helped my son set her up for a crime she did not commit. I didn’t want to do it, but I did it for my son…”

 

“You framed Gabi?!” Paige seethes at the revelation that Vivian could do such a thing. Gabi hated prison and Vivian helped send her back. Paige can’t help but think of Rafe and Ari it must have been torture for them, but Gabi is out she must be because she had her cell phone…

 

“It was unfortunate situation to be honest because I would have rather Abigail be shipped off. Admittedly I did find Gabriela annoying but under normal circumstances if she stayed in her corner, I would stay in mine…”

 

“What the hell does Abigail have to do with you helping frame Gabi?”

 

“Well Ms. Laura Horton genes are quite strong because Miss Abby didn’t fall far enough from the tree. She went psychotic and my foolhardy son tried to protect her by framing Gabi. Abigail was gallivanting around with her Party City wig calling herself Gabby with a y. I must assume Gabi is free now if she is answering her phone freely and it isn’t collect.” Nicole just coughs in Vivian’s direction because the dig about prison was wholly unnecessary.

 

Paige is so upset at Vivian for doing this, but her shock is magnified at Abby for this even more… Gabi must be traumatized from prison again… she was the first time... Paige wants to be there for her and reciprocate that support.

 

“As much as I love to render a person mute… that person Paige… it would never be you…” It’s so weird for Nicole to see Vivian Alamain being nice to anyone… well as nice as Vivian Alamain could be. She’s actually pretty sweet with Holly which still throws her for a loop.

 

“I’m really upset… furious even but if Gabi ends up forgiving you then I can too. She’s going to come for us you better ask for her forgiveness when she does. In the meantime I still have to make sure that you stay well because these idiots here share one braincell.” Vivian is glad to see that Paige won’t abandon her but what about her sister…

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Gabi wakes up in Stefan’s bed she is more surprised at the fact that she could sleep through the night without waking up even once. There’s not many nights where she can sleep soundly and this has happened a second time. This is something she doesn’t want to examine too closely. When she opens her eyes she sees Stefan getting ready and its like he knows she’s watching him because he turns and just smiles at her.

 

She tries to ignore the feeling inside of her gut so she hides into her pillow which only seems to make Stefan laugh. He tells her that she needs to get up because they still do have work but she just wishes she could stay in bed longer.

 

He’s right though, there’s no way she is going to let Nicole beat her at anything. When she shoots up out the bed to go get ready Stefan catches her and kisses her good morning and there’s no more sleep left in her body.

 

He doesn’t just kiss her he knows how to put his whole body into the kiss she feels his hands moving up and down her back until he settles them on her ass and it’s almost like it’s automatic for her and she wraps her legs around his waist and as much as she wants a repeat of what they did all night she needs to smash Nicole in the ground.

 

She plants her feet on the ground and gently pushes him away so she can get ready. She’s so glad that she keeps a spare outfit in her just in case she stains what she’s wearing because there’s no way she is being caught dead wearing what she wore the day before.

 

As she showers, she starts crafting what she is going to say to Stefan about her budget and the projected growth for the next three quarters once the money needed is allocated.

 

When she leaves the bathroom she is pleasantly surprised to see Stefan is still there. He’s sitting in the chair in the corner but he’s still there.

 

When she realizes he is waiting for her so they can walk together which makes her feel tingly because it’s only downstairs since Stefan said he would be working from home today.

 

She doesn’t like the feeling it gives her because she can’t fall for Stefan… she needs to make him pay for what he did to her.

 

She’s almost finish with getting ready for the day but all that’s left is her hair. She starts taking the pins in her hair and she knows blanquito is looking at her.

“You know I was fascinated last night when you left the bed to go do your hair. I thought I left exhausted but to my surprise you got up started doing your hair.”

 

“Oh… mi doobie?!” She loves that feeling when her hair starts to fall just right. Her hair looking just as bomb as yesterday.

 

“Si… Por qué te hiciste ese peinado?” He really is curious which makes me laugh because growing up her whole block in Humboldt Park it is a common occurrence to see so many ladies coming out of the salon with their hair like this.

 

“You don’t know how sexy it is to hear you speak Spanish…” It really is sexy but she wants to hit him when I can see his smirk in the mirror. “… Some people call it a wrap, some call it a doobie but it helps keep your hair straighter longer without needing additional heat after you blowout your hair. It’s really popular in the Caribbean and Latin America but also in the states where there’s Latin and Black salons.” Its cute to her that Stefan is curious without being weird about it.

 

“It’s crazy to think doing that one thing is what keeps your hair straight but your hair looks just as straight as yesterday…” I laugh at his curiosity but we can’t talk about the wonderfulness of doobies all day.

 

“Come on, we need to get a moving on those budgets since you just had to be a procrastinator…” He looks at her funny but she grabbed his hand so we can go downstairs and he looks pleased. She doesn’t know how to feel about that on one hand she’s progressing in her plan to make Stefan fall in love with her but on the other hand she just might fall with him.

 

When they finally get to the living room to work its not long until Nicole actually comes and she comes in hot. Gabi feels like she is in a battle with Nicole from the jump. Both are relaying their ideas for a launch party with Stefan and Nicole keeps being dismissive of Gabi’s ideas even though Stefan seems to like them.

 

“What do you suggest instead?” Gabi is miffed that Stefan is giving her the time of day but she can’t use the fact that she’s sleeping with him to have her way at least not yet.

 

“Honestly Stefan, these two brands aren’t equal… a joint party is like throwing out a purebred with well a mutt…” Gabi starts to get really upset with this racist dog whistle and she’s shocked because Nicole has never acted like that and why would she?

 

“Excuse me?!”

 

“I’m not saying we should cut Gabi whatever loose… I’m just saying that you should prioritize instead of dividing your resources you should put them into the one company that can guarantee to help restore DiMera and that is let me hear it… Basic Black…”

 

“No that is bull! You know my company deserves to be at that event just as much as hers” Gabi will not take Nicole waltzing in trying to demean her company which has made DiMera’s investment in her company millions. The company is in trouble and her brand is helping keep afloat the whole company afloat. Now Nicole wants to come in and use the money to relaunch Basic Black… Gabi finds that to be flabbergasting.

 

“Fine, we’ll have you set up in one of the rooms in the back somewhere…” Nicole is so serious which makes Gabi even more upset.

 

“She’s trying to set me up to fail… Please just look at GabiChic budget we have had exponential growth from the profits I’m bringing in. If anything’s a gamble its Basic Black…”

 

“She has a point.” Stefan doesn’t say anything besides that on one hand Gabi doesn’t like that this is the only thing he has to say on the other hand she knows she can handle this new and not improved Nicole.

 

“Oh you idiots this is not what father would have wanted…” When Nicole makes an outburst of father not liking it, Gabi just looks at her weird… Why would she be talking about her father now? What does her dead father have to do with DiMera?

 

“What did you just say? Did you just say father?”

 

“I meant your father…”

 

“I didn’t hear the your part…”

 

“Well that’s what you would have called him had you met him… No one called Stefano DiMera daddy… Okay my point is I knew Stefano well enough to know how he would have wanted this launch to go and its exactly how I described…”

 

“Why do you care about Stefano you hated him?” Gabi is so interested to know about Nicole’s new fascination with Stefano when she didn’t give two shits about him.

 

“You can’t argue his business acumen… Okay I was around to see some of DiMeras most successful campaigns. I have more experience than Gabi. That is why you should listen to me.” Be that as it may why would Nicole give two shits about Stefano’s acumen when she is supposed to have her own? Gabi grows even more suspicious because she feels in her bones that something is really amiss.

 

“You’ve been out the fashion loop for years…” That experience would mean something to Gabi if she was just starting out but Gabi learned some things from Nicole and she was never this nasty before to her when she was a model she doesn’t know why she’s acting like this when they are on the same team.

 

“Fashion and style come and go but its experience that counts…”

 

“You’re right… she’s right… but so do fresh ideas.” Stefan is trying to tread lightly among two headstrong women because at the end of the day he is trying to have two brands and one party because he doesn’t want the extra expense of having two parties when its not needed.

 

Nicole keeps shooting down all of Gabi’s ideas and its clear that she is making it deliberate and Gabi knows its to rile her up. When Nciole makes mention of the champagne and how Gabi should be the one to get it… Gabi finds herself ready to rip Nicole’s face off. She is acting like Gabi is the help and not an equal with a track record of success.

 

Nicole gets the shock of her life when Stefan tells her that she should be the one to get the bottles from the basement. Gabi is thankful that Stefan didn’t let Nicole’s condescending behavior towards her slide. Stefan said he didn’t do it to pick sides but he didn’t appreciate the kind of attitude she displayed.

 

Gabi is ready to show her thankfulness to Stefan he is not as enthusiastic to be lusting during work hours especially when anyone can come in at a moment’s notice. Stefan is trying to steer with his mind and not with his dick but Gabi is not letting up and he is just puzzled how they went from loathing each other to not getting enough.

 

While they keep talking through their stalemate Kristin wearing Nicole’s face finds Kate and Ted and is shocked to find them there because she gave an order to Xander to kill them both and even though she’s wearing the face of shock she is really seething inside that these two people are still breathing. Before Kate and Ted can get who they think is Nicole to help them she slams the door shut so they can’t get out.

 

Kristin knows she needs to have a few words with Xander for him wimping out on her. When she comes back up, she finds Stefan and Gabi talking some more and tries not to be miffed when they get silent on her.

 

Stefan is wondering what she is doing without the champagne and doesn’t find her answer about the servants drinking it to be logical because why would they drinks cases upon cases of the alcohol. Gabi is done and decides that she will do it and Kristen cannot have Gabi wandering and possibly finding Kate.

 

When Gabi asks her why not, Kristen swallows the little bit of pride she has left and apologizes to Gabi about being her dismissiveness. Kristen doesn’t have a need to lie about her last few years but she keeps it vague so they believe she is speaking as Nicole.

 

When Gabi says that she accepts the apology says that Stefan does as well she realizes her mistake which makes Kristen pause because Stefan can speak for himself but she can’t question them now because she needs to see Xander and kill his incompetent ass.

 

She listens to Gabi and Stefan schpiel about being a team and they give her shit about needing to leave. Its not ideal because if she is trying to be serious businesswoman Nicole Walker she can’t just leave now but she also can’t have this blow up in her face and everyone knowing the truth about who she is.

 

She makes up an excuse quick and gets out of there and leaves the two of them alone. Gabi and Stefan are trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Stefan by his desk thinking what the hell is up with Nicole when Gabi wraps her arms around him from behind and she is ready to get back to what they were doing before Nicole came back upstairs.

 

Stefan can’t help but question her motives of why she wanted to come to DiMera because it just doesn’t make sense to him and her acting weird just really adds to the distrust he has. They still have an event to plan so he just tables it.

 

Stefan sends her to the restaurant where they are supposed to have the launch party and imagine her surprise when Chloe tells her that she knows everything and could care less and even offers to help in the plan.

 

Stefan comes at the worst time but he didn’t hear anything that was said which is good for Gabi but Chloe informs them that she was not informed about any party and if they wanted the restaurant for the night they will need to pay triple which Stefan agrees to because they have no choice at this point.

 

He is upset about this turn of events and takes it out on Gabi saying that for a job that she said she wanted she is bitching about it which Gabi keeps her mouth shut for now but he won’t be getting away with it.

 

She makes the signature cocktail of her family and puts a little extra habanero because she knows Stefan won’t be able to handle it with his delicate palate. And on cue he starts coughing and needs some water and it puts a smile on her face. He’s shocked that she is just drinking it with no problem and he finds himself just as much shocked as he is turned on.

 

Kristen does comeback after he told Nicole to come down to the restaurant. Stefan has no choice but to fire which she doesn’t take well at all and Stefan starts to list how unreliable she has been since coming on board. The straw that broke the camel’s back for him is the fact that she forgot to book the restaurant for her own event and she tries to use Holly as an excuse and Stefan is done and tells her that he won’t be changing her mind.

 

Kristen just attacks Stefan and Gabi tries to get in between but it isn’t until Abe walks in and sees what is happening and wants to know exactly what is happening…

 

Stefan wants to press charges even though Abe advises him strongly not too and he tries to reason with Nicole but he doesn’t understand why Nicole is being this way… She hasn’t ever treated Abe this way and Abe has known her almost her whole life. Abe is shocked at Nicole’s behavior because they have had a strong bond since she was a little girl. Even before he ever found out about Brandon he cared about all of Fay’s children and did what he could to mitigate effects that Paul Mendez could inflict on them.

 

Stefan tells Abe if Nicole doesn’t play ball with her letter of resignation he will be going ahead with a police report. Abe doesn’t like it but it’s not like he could stop Stefan because Nicole did attack Stefan and he is a witness to it.

 

Gabi finalizes the details for the event tonight while Stefan writes his two press releases. Stefan can’t get past what Kristen said. Although he is really liking the trajectory of his relationship with Gabi he still has a hard time believing in it 100%. They started off really hating each other.

 

He wants to know once and for all where she stands. She gets agitated that he doesn’t believe her but as Gabi tries to convince him that she is genuine she hates how it sounds in her ears. It sounds real because it is but in her mind its too late now she can’t back down from this plan.

 

Love has gotten her nowhere so what’s the use in believing in it now? But one thing leads to another and they are going at it on the desk in the office at Doug’s Place and out of nowhere Gabi feels water all over her right side and she looks and sees Diabla Julie.

 

The first thing Gabi can think of is that the Vieja messed up her sleek hair. When she collects herself and goes back out there she hears Julie spinning her dusty cobwebs to Eli and Gabi isn’t having it.

 

She snatched the phone from Julie and tells Eli his grandmother is crazy and hangs up the phone. Gabi gets kicked out of Doug’s Place by Julie and she has a heart to heart with Stefan outside and she lets him know they can either be something more or stop right now and he chooses wanting to be something more and it makes her so happy that she gives him a hug.

 

When he proposes that they had back to his place she declines him which makes her feel good that he isn’t too happy about it but she does have to pickup Ari but its not until nighttime  which is great because there’s someone she needs to have some words with and its great that Sonny and Will live in the same house as El Traidor.

 

When she gets to the Kiriakis mansion she finds Brady and lets him know exactly what she thinks of him. She cannot believe that he told Chloe and he doesn’t even try to hide it. She rolls her eyes when Brady tells her to be careful because he fears she will fall for him like he fell for Eve and Gabi thinks back to earlier when she and Stefan kissed in front of Doug’s Place.

 

She snaps herself out of it and has to verbally make herself get back on track with her plan when she is interrupted by the himbo himself Xander.

 

They trade barbs and Xander tries to get too close to her which makes her have the overwhelming urge to just slap the shit out of him but she is surprised to hear the voice of her newfound friend Lani.

 

Lani explains to the both of them that she is there to arrest Xander and Gabi doesn’t believe that he is capable of doing it alone… Lani says as much and that’s why Stefan DiMera is being arrested too and Gabi cannot believe that Stefan did this. Well scratch that she can believe that Stefan did it but he wouldn’t ever let himself be caught. Kate and Ted wouldn’t have even known that Stefan would be behind it. This day has too many weird outcomes and she plans on getting to the bottom of it.

 

She just announces that she needs to go and Lani calls after her but she can’t stop. She races down to the police station and finds him being interrogated by Eli and she doesn’t like it one bit because she knows that this couldn’t possibly be true.

 

She does get some alone time with Stefan to find out what’s going on which she is grateful for they just became an official couple and now he might be going to jail.

 

Stefan professes his innocence and he’s just happy that Gabi believes him. They start to put their heads together on who could do this to him and when he tells her that he found bottles of champagne in the room the both of them know that Nicole is a liar.

 

They both conclude that its Nicole that’s the one setting them up and Gabi makes mention that it could be because of Holly and the pieces start falling into place that Nicole really didn’t get over it and was planning on nailing Stefan.

 

Gabi tells him that she is going to get to the bottom of this and get him out. Stefan just looks at her and believes her knowing that when she puts her mind to something she becomes relentless. When he tells her that he feels lucky to have her she bolts out of there leaving him puzzled but its too much for her and she has so much to think about and she needs to pick up Ari.

 

On the drive home while Ari is going on about her day Gabi can’t help but think about everything that happened today. In the morning when Nicole was there being so aggressive for no reason was just weird. Going on about Stefano’s vision for the company and why would Nicole give a rat’s ass about Stefano’s vision for the company. It wouldn’t even make sense to revamp Basic Black at DiMera. It’s John’s legacy and Stefan hated John. To Gabi it would make more sense to revamp Basic Black at Titan.

 

Brady is John’s son and Victor’s grandson… Gabi pulls up to the driveway still so focused on thinking about the connection and it has something to do with Brady she can feel it.

 

Nicole has been rejecting Eric and doing her best to get Brady which is so weird because after what Brady did Gabi wouldn’t have blamed Nicole if she wanted to skin him alive. But its like it never happened to her and the things she said this morning were not Nicole.

 

It’s not hard for Gabi to believe a white-passing Latina could say those disgusting things like mutt and ordering her around like she is the help but Nicole isn’t that person. Gabi has seen Paul Mendez’s mugshot and he’s browner than her. She knows Nicole isn’t in her right mind right now but Nicole wouldn’t disrespect herself because if she is calling Gabi a mutt by extension she would be one too.

 

Nicole has also never belittled people less fortunate than her. When she was still modeling Nicole told her that she escaped her circumstances and made herself into something doing the same thing. That Nicole she knew isn’t the one she was dealing with today.

 

Then she was saying father wouldn’t want this and her outburst was like a shock to the system for Gabi. It was like she wasn’t Nicole at all…

 

Gabi starts to make Ari her dinner when she comes to a conclusion that makes her feel crazy but she feels it in her bones. This town is filled with crazy ass people and weird happenings. She believes that woman she saw today isn’t Nicole… she must be brainwashed or programmed or whatever. She knows its possible in this loony town because John is just one example of someone believing they are someone else. Her clamoring to Brady and shunning Eric and being so prone to anger even at the slightest provocation is more like Kristen than Nicole…

 

Gabi feels like she is losing her mind because the pieces just fall into place. She said she knew what father would have wanted and it makes sense now. The person walking in Nicole’s body is Kristen DiMera and Gabi can definitely see Kristen having problems with Stefan running DiMera.

 

She wants to march straight for the police station but she realizes that she can’t do that just yet because Kristen is dangerous.

 

If she has someone as unflappable as Kate lying for her then she needs to be very careful. She’s going to prove Stefan didn’t do it but she can’t risk Kate.

 

----------

Here’s some translations if you didn’t understand the Spanish.

 

Si… Por qué te hiciste ese peinado? -Yes… why did you do that hairstyle?

Diabla- Devil

El Traidor- The Traitor

Vieja- Old Lady

 

Chapter Text

It’s a new day and Gabi is on the trail for evidence to clear Stefan. When she does run into Xander he makes such a big deal about his briefcase that she decides that she should just take it. When he tries to stop her, she’s able to draw some attention their way to get him to back off but not before he gets a taste of what its like to mess with a Hernandez… straight to the cojones.

 

She doesn’t know what to do with the briefcase so she does the only thing she can do. She takes it to Rafe… she’s trying to get better at keeping him in the loop when she has the impulse to just do something without thinking about the long game. When he tells her that he has no cause to see the contents in the briefcase even if he knows that Xander is up to no good.

 

She hates when he says that he would need probable cause in order to secure a warrant to be able to search the contents of the briefcase in the first place. He tells her to return it and she realizes that he is right. If she wants to free Stefan then she has to go through the proper channels because her just doing this could actually keep him in jail and that is the last thing that she wants.

 

When she sees Brady in the square, she’s so happy because she would rather give him the briefcase then have to deal with Xander again after she got him good because he might not take too kindly to that. Brady is so nosy and Gabi is tired of hearing that she is falling for Stefan because she has enough of that going on in her own head she doesn’t need to hear it from Brady. He’s happy to take the briefcase from her because it can give him leverage with Xander for Nicole’s sake and he’s ready to use it.

 

Gabi knows she’s back at square one and she needs to visit Stefan and give him an update or the lack of one. When she gets to the station they tell her that he is in interrogation now and she waits until she gets the okay. She sees Lani and their new friendship is still very early and it can go either way to be honest but she needs to try and get Lani to see since she is the detective on the case.

 

“He’s a charmer isn’t he?” Lani is just looking at Gabi like she’s a dead woman walking. She knows damn well after what she walked in on that these two are too electric to stay away from each other…

 

“Lani can we talk later?” Lani nods her head and Gabi is slightly happier because she needs to get Lani to see that Stefan is being framed.

 

She closes the door and sits. Stefan looks so hopeful at her and she feels her stomach drop because she doesn’t have the news that he wans to hear.

 

“Did you find anything?” Stefan has been beside himself… spending the night in jail is not something that he ever wants to do and it sullies his business reputation. He’s thinking to himself why the hell had he let his mother come to this damn place. She ended up dying here and he’s in the police station for kidnapping.

 

“No… No I wanted to get through to Kate but she’s sticking to her story…” She gets sadder when Stefan gets more frustrated. She wants to make him feel better but she hasn’t been successful yet.

 

“She’s lying, I had nothing to do with kidnapping her.”

 

“I know… I know and I’m sorry I feel like I’ve let you down.”

 

“No… no don’t say that…” Stefan reaches for her hand and she wants to laugh because he’s comforting her but he’s the one in jail. “…come on. You have no idea what it means to me that you helping me out like this. All is not lost because just now Lani almost admitted that something is wrong with their statements. She’s following up…”

 

“Good because I have feeling that Kate is hiding something… So after I spoke with Kate I went to see Nicole—”

 

“What?! Gabi you need to steer clear of her…” Gabi knows more than she’s letting on but she can’t go to her brother or Lani saying that she believes that Nicole is actually not Nicole because even though her own brother had an imposter but she needs evidence and that’s going to have to be something she proves later because she needs Stefan out of jail ASAP.

 

“I’m not afraid of her… I’m freaked out by her. I went to go see her and she told me that she wasn’t going to let me in. I told her fine but I wasn’t going to leave and you know what she did next? She opened the door wearing a weird Mexican wrestling mask…” It took Gabi out to see a Lucha mask on Kristen what did this gringa even know about Lucha? It is probably the most bizarre thing she has seen.

 

“You’re joking?!” Stefan wants to laugh at the absurd turn of events of his girlfriend’s morning.

 

Gabi knows that she has to pretend that this is Nicole and not Kristen because Stefan would surely think she is crazy if she told him her theory. “No I’m not… She’s taken mad with grief and run with it…” Gabi is still trying to figure it out what the hell Kristen’s angle was with that because she definitely has an angle.

 

“Did she offer any sort of explanation? Was she in the middle of a match?” Stefan tries to lighten the mood and distract himself from his situation.

 

“No, she told me to go away and slammed the door in my face.” Gabi thinks to herself that whatever Kristen is doing that she is in panic mode and trying to get a grasp on things.

 

“Maybe she was having a bad face day…” Stefan finds a way to make Gabi feel a little more at ease as if he isn’t facing years in prison. “… or this is much weirder than we originally thought.” Gabi resists telling Stefan her full theory because it means nothing for him getting out of jail because she still would have no proof.

 

“It was spur of the moment but Xander was acting so weird about that briefcase, I kinda kneed him where it hurts and I ran off…” Stefan is proud of his girl throwin’ down.

 

“I like a woman who knows how to play dirty…”

 

“Yeah but then I ran into Rafe and I’m glad I did because he’s right. Umm… Although there could be damning evidence in that briefcase I could never use it in court because I stole it. So I had Brady give it back at Xander. Are you mad at me?” Stefan softens when he sees Gabi’s doubt. No one is fighting harder than she is to prove that he is innocent.

 

“Hey come on… How could I be mad at someone whose gone above and beyond for me?” The reassurance means the world to Gabi and she is not ready to dissect what it means yet even though she has a clue. He doesn’t give her enough time to think because they are kissing again and it makes her head cloudy.

 

“Listen Stefan, I’m not going to give up I’m going to find a way to fix this okay.” Stefan is wondering how in the world he could have ever hated her.

 

They both hear the door open and its Lani announcing that Stefan’s lawyer posted bail and it’s a small relief for the both of them but they know its not over yet.

 

Gabi offers to drive Stefan home but he says that’s all right because he needs to make a stop and speak to Kate about implicating him and Gabi thinks its great because she needs to speak with Lani.

 

“Its about time you did your job…” Gabi knows that her tone is laced with attitude, but she is mad as hell because Lani knows something smells foul about this and Stefan spent the night in jail. “…Xander, Kate and Ted are lying and you need to find out why…” Gabi thinks its Kristen but she can’t prove it and she won’t allow anyone to question her sanity and get locked up in Bayview and away from Arianna.

 

“And here I thought we were starting to understand each other…” Lani scoffs at Gabi acting like she is some incompetent cop. She needs to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

 

“You’re right I’m sorry its just I know he didn’t do it no matter what they are saying but I have no proof besides my gut…”

 

“Are you sure that its only your gut you’re talking about?” Lani can’t with Gabi acting like it’s not a big deal that she has been to the station each day Stefan has been in jail.

 

“What time do you get off work?”

 

“In an hour why?”

 

“You want to meet up for happy hour at TGIFridays?” Gabi doesn’t want to see anyone who gets on her nerves and that’s guaranteed to happen if she shows up at a place like Doug’s place.

 

“You buyin’?” She can’t believe that Lani is serious because its Happy Hour at Fridays it will be really cheap but whatever.

 

“Sure it doesn’t faze me…”

 

“All right I’ll see you at Fridays.”

 

Gabi has nothing else to do because Will and Sonny are with Ari tonight so no pickups to worry about. She gets to Friday and she realizes all this running around town made her so hungry she orders herself a Blue Long Island Iced Tea.

 

She checks her work emails and of course the board knows about this mishap and they are evaluating whatever that means.

 

“I see you are going in on the potstickers…” Gabi got so involved with work she never noticed that Lani came in.

 

“They are endless so duh!” That was the biggest factor in Gabi coming here besides not wanting to see a town hypocrite.

 

“Well in that case…” Lani steals a potsticker from Gabi’s plate with no shame and Gabi is upset because she can’t steal anything from Lani because she has no plate.

 

“Get your own apps!”

 

“Well it doesn’t matter now does it because you are paying… so you know what I definitely will get my own.” She forgot that she told Lani that she would pay.

 

“Touché…”

 

“So you going to tell me why you out in these streets acting like Stefan’s personal PI?” Lani takes another potsticker from the plate and she’s too quick for Gabi.

 

“I don’t know I just know he didn’t do it…” Lani just looks at her new friend and wonders if Gabi believes her own words.

 

“Gabi, you are more sprung then a lily in spring. I see you two together in various settings and its isn’t an I don’t know kind of situation…” Gabi knows Lani is right but she can’t examine her feelings right now because she can’t have her plans derailed.

 

“Fine I know but I don’t want it…” She doesn’t need anymore complications in her life because how does she explain that to her daughter. How does she explain it to Rafe who hates DiMeras like he’s being paid for it.

 

“I can very well tell you the reasons not to get involved with him but knowing that your ass has been running around town on his behalf the dick must be good.”

 

“Girl! Let me tell you…” Gabi forgot what it’s like to talk to a girlfriend. After Abigail just obliterated her life it was hard for her to trust anyone outside of her nucleus. Just Rafe and her baby daddies but its nice to have a friend to give you a girl’s perspective.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s another day at the safehouse and the ladies pretty much have their routines. It can get boring being in such seclusion with guards out and about.

 

Never feeling too comfortable at night because one can never be too sure. Kristen puts a layer of fear out there so everyone always stays in line. Paige still can’t believe that they haven’t found the phone. She had moved one of the nightstands in the room she is staying in so it hides the outlet so they can’t see it charging. Its not the most sophisticated phones out there.

 

It’s those old flip phones only old people or people up to no good use. When she stole it from one of the guards she thought for sure that they would catch her but Kristen just called him an idiot and to get another burner phone.

 

She’s not sure how many minutes are left on the phone but she knows that Vivian and Nicole are getting more restless by the day to get out and she gets it but they need to be smart.

 

Kristen is dangerous and has them in a pretty remote place. They only have one chance and if they mess it up who knows what could happen. Its not a chance she is willing to take especially now that Holly is with them.

 

“You’ve been quiet for sometime Paige…” Vivian is always ready to be acerbic with just about everyone but Paige is special. Sure she still teases the girl but she doesn’t go for the jugular. Sometimes Vivian gives Nicole the brunt of her tongue but she finds that Nicole can dish it out as much as she can take it and she wondered why she had never thought to scheme with Nicole before.

 

Nicole isn’t fond of Kate which is a check for her. That’s all she ever needs to know. She will get her revenge on Kate if it’s the last thing she does. Vivian has to hope that Paige’s sister will get them out of here because there’s no way she would ever want Kate to think that she has won.

 

“I’m just thinking that I don’t know how many minutes are left on this thing and its not like we can just go and buy some cards to add minutes…”

 

“We should call Eric and have him come for us…”

 

“Nicole you said it yourself that he wouldn’t be the best option because he’s prone to making mistakes when it comes to high pressure situations. I don’t know how this isn’t the highest of pressure situations… Him having to rescue 4 people and escape gunfire from people Kristen has hired and we make it out alive? I promise you that I’ll get Gabi to get him to come to you…” For a goody two shoes Nicole was not expecting Paige to think in a manner like this. She hates that she’s impressed and even more upset that Paige is right.

 

She loves Eric with all her heart but she wouldn’t ever forgive herself if something were to happen to him or worse something happened to Holly.

 

She never thought there would be a day that she would have to rely on Gabi Hernandez for anything. It’s not like they ever had any problems with each other… she just remembers her as the eager model wanting to be successful. Her sister seems to believe in her and she is the best shot under the circumstances.

 

Stefan is a wild card and who knows if Kristen has moles in DiMera that could be tipped off if Stefan tries to coordinate anything. Rafe most certainly would be doing this by the book with a heavy police presence which Kristen would see from and hear from a mile away.

 

“You’re right but we need to hurry this up. The longer we are held by them it could mean that we change locations. You heard that bozo earlier Kristen is getting frantic and in my experience that’s when she starts making bad decisions and one of those decisions could be too move us…”

 

“Yeah I get it I do. Okay I have to think of one last thing to tell Gabi so she knows its me and not someone trying to trick her. God I wish I had my book it would make things so much easier.” Paige is so frustrated on how she can prove to Gabi that she is alive and needs help with a shitty phone as her only access.

 

She feels the pressure because if she fails then they are stuck here or worse Kristen decides to just get rid of them.

 

While the ladies at the safe house are trying to navigate how they are going to get help to get out of there… Gabi is marching into the Stefan’s place upset that he could be so stupid.

 

He’s just sitting there sipping on what she gathers to be bourbon… its like he was expecting her to come which just makes her more upset. She wanted to slap him for being so stupid because Kate went straight to the cops and claimed harassment and now it just serves to make Stefan actually look guilty but to her he only looks stupid.

 

When she asked him if he learned anything of course he told her no and that’s what she expected. If Kate doesn’t want to do something she sure as hell is not going to do it and it was foolish for Stefan to believe otherwise.

 

Gabi gives it to him that the alcohol he was drinking was really good and he’s catching on to the fact that this is more than about Holly. He doesn’t know that Nicole isn’t Nicole but her motives are clear she was gunning for DiMera which cemented to Gabi that its Kristen. If Nicole was really just so cozy with Brady why the hell would she think of going to DiMera? It would make sense to revive Basic Black at Titan. Kristen wants it all…

 

Gabi doesn’t understand why he would want to sack Not-Nicole when he could be keeping tabs on her by forcing her to actually do her job. It also makes it hard for her to observe Not-Nicole as well. Stefan can’t be swayed to agreeing with Gabi because he wants Not-Nicole gone but as he tries to fast-track her firing he finds out that he doesn’t have the authority to do that because he’s been suspended.

 

When he tells that to Gabi she is floored but of course a company would do that because a CEO being accused of kidnapping isn’t good for PR but also not good for their wallets.

 

As soon as Gabi hears that he could be replaced she realizes that she can’t only be worried about Kristen because Chadwick would be gleeful at the news and hop on the first flight back to Salem. She needs to do something fast because there’s no way in hell that she wants to be in proximity of that weak insipid man and that bitch who is still her smug self-righteous self.

 

She knows that they need more help then just them and she calls Abe to come over and help because he has the experience and know how on how to spin this and lessen the target on Stefan’s back especially when she knows that she has to help protect him from his homicidal sister and useless brother.

 

Abe tells them that he only accepted the job because of Nicole and that is how Gabi knows that this woman walking around with Nicole’s face isn’t who she says she is. Nicole could have never had that kind of attitude with Abe from before and even though she was rude as hell to him he still has her back. Even though Gabi is against Stefan getting rid of Nicole she knows she needs to back him up on it because she needs to support his decision.

 

It throws her for a loop when he decides that he won’t deal with Nicole until after his shitstorm dies down which is what Gabi wanted in the first place and she is a little excited that he is actually listening but he is being gullible and she needs to shut it down right now. She doesn’t want to be dealing with an older version of Chad right now.

 

She tells him that he cannot underestimate the threat of Not-Nicole because that’s what she wants and it will only hurt him later if he doesn’t open his eyes. Abe comes back before she can really speak with him and tells them that the press release is out and before they can take a breath Stefan is getting a call from Shin telling him that the suspension has only been given more strength and Gabi can feel the rage bubbling under the surface when he tells them they need to figure something else out.

 

When Gabi hears those words she has her brain going in overdrive about speeding up her timeline and marrying Stefan now. She announces to the both of them that he needs to marry them and Stefan’s neck just might fall off with how fast it turned but she makes sense and she can stick finally stick it Stefan and Chad. It’s a bonus to hit Kristen where it hurts too because that bitch should have never called her a mutt.

 

Stefan and Abe do throw up their reservations but she has a counter each time they have a question and they know she makes a lot of sense but it does miff her that the first thing that Stefan says is prenup. At first she is upset and she wants to launch into a tirade but she is subtle with her delivery of why she is upset and Stefan doesn’t back down.

 

She does think it over and she realizes that a prenup isn’t so bad as soon as Abe utters that it protects them both and she realizes that she could have lost GabiChic or at least more of it if a judge wanted to divide the assets of her company in a divorce.

 

Stefan says that he will have a lawyer draft one now, she makes sure to text Justin asking him to help her protect GabiChic because she needs to marry Stefan quickly to prevent some unsavory things from happening.

 

When she gets the go ahead from Justin’s assistant that her demands will be amended into the prenup drafted by Stefan’s lawyer she is happy. GabiChic is something that she has worked so hard for and built up from nothing and is her family’s legacy.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Gabi gets off the phone with Stefan ready to become his wife she turns and sees her brother. Rafe is already looking at her like he needs to talk her off a ledge. In her mind she is doing she needs to do and as much as she appreciates her brother’s opinion she will not be deviating from her plans.

 

She is so close to getting what she wants… too bad she isn’t sure on what that actually means yet. She tries to turn the tables on Rafe before he can speak because she already knows what he is going to say but he doesn’t care.

 

When he calls her by her whole name and gives her that stare she can’t help but crumble and tell him everything and to say he wasn’t having it would be an understatement. He tells her that this won’t be happening over his dead body.

 

He keeps it to himself about the real reason she needs to stay in the same home as him but he’s not letting her off the hook. Rafe thinks she is being reckless and ultimately say claims she can do whatever she wants but he has the nagging feeling that he will have to come fix her mess at some point. Being her brother is a full time job in itself he just wish that she would make it a little easier.

 

He tries to talk some sense into his sister because she is telling him all this stuff about helping save Stefan’s job and he feels incredulous. He rightfully tells her that Stefan was the one that helped orchestrate this whole plan and Gabi nose flairs and he can see the slightest change in her demeanor.

 

When she tells him that she hasn’t forgotten its like her hearing that makes her decision even more concrete from Rafe’s point of view.

 

He can’t help but think that her idiotic decision could only be based on one thing and he asks her point blank if she is falling for him.

 

Gabi doesn’t like being hit with that question because its one that she wrestles with herself still. When she tells her brother that she hates Stefan it makes him even more suspicious and he knows that she is knee deep in something and he just doesn’t like it.

 

He won’t let her leave until she tells him everything and Gabi feels like she is trapped in a corner.

 

While Gabi tries to reason with her brother, Stefan is telling Ben about the plan that’s happening today and both Ben and Ciara are in shock at what he’s telling them and Ciara reminds him what she did to Abby while Ben reminds him what Gabi did to him.

Ciara starts going on about kind of woman Gabi is and how she backstabbed Abby but Stefan doesn’t need to be questioned about his intelligence. And he really doesn’t want to chime in about how Abby upturned Gabi’s life because he would have to talk about his role in it.

 

Gabi tells Rafe she doesn’t have time for this because she needs to get to a wedding. When she gets there, she sees Stefan and he tells her that everything is set and gives her his mother’s ring and it makes her speechless.

 

Vivian was obviously not her favorite person, but she knows him giving her something from the only family he really had is something big and she re-thinks her plan again.

 

He makes them drinks to calm both their nerves and she tells him the chat she had with her brother and how he couldn’t change her mind about this which pleases Stefan. When he mentions the pre-nup Gabi bristles but she has to stay mindful about GabiChic so she signs it reluctantly.

 

Ben and Ciara show up and Gabi can feel the judgment and she finds it ridiculous that the man who killed her sister and Will is giving her any kind of judgment. He’s lucky that Will is alive but she will never forgive him for Paige and she told him that much.

 

She’s happy when Abe comes in on cue ready to marry them but when he says that Nicole is getting married to someone it causes her some alarm. She knows that Nicole is Kristen she just doesn’t know how but she knows it. She can’t announce herself to be Kristen its why she’s still masquerading as Nicole so what marriage would give her the leverage she needs?

 

So realizes that Chad doesn’t know about her because one would think if she is pretending to be Nicole she would have contacted him letting him know that he needed to come here and help her. She knows that Chad is coming she can feel it but he’s going to be gunning it solo.

 

When Ben speaks and his little girlfriend chimes in too Gabi has to restrain herself from walking over there and punching Ben in his jaw. He doesn’t get to talk to her like this not now not ever.

 

She starts to lose it when she realizes that Kristen as Nicole can just marry a DiMera and there’s very few of them left and the only one she can come up with is Theo. Chad doesn’t need her and she doesn’t see him divorcing Abby anytime soon even with all of her ‘baggage’.

 

Abe shuts it down quickly because he would never believe that Nicole would do this or that he would ever allow it. It would be almost incestuous, and he tells them that he spoke with Theo and Brandon and neither of them said anything remotely to this so he doesn’t put any stock in it. Abe mentions Stefano but Stefan says that’s impossible because Stefano would run the company himself if he wanted.

 

Abe mentions Peter when Gabi wonders who else could it be and she wouldn’t put it past Kristen to marry her brother as Nicole even if it is gross. Kristen is ruthless and doesn’t play fair. It can’t matter now because they need to get married now. Ciara comes in with a bouquet which surprises Gabi but she is thankful that Ciara could put away her differences and they can make this happen.

 

The wedding goes smoothly but as soon as its over Gabi is leaving voicemails, emails and texts to Shin letting him know that its pertinent that she speaks with him urgently and Stefan just loves the way she says Mrs. Stefan DiMera.

 

While he’s professing his love to her it makes her even more unsure about her plan. Him trying to seduce her is making her will crumble. His words are like silk and she gives in and kisses him.

 

Before they could go upstairs and consummate their marriage they get a knock on the door and its Mr. Shin. He asks to speak to Stefan alone but Stefan tells him whatever he can say to him he can say with his wife in the room and Shin tells him that they board has decided to fire him.

 

It feels like the air is running out of Gabi’s body and Stefan doesn’t look that far off from feeling that either.

 

Mr Shin starts to leave and says that he needs to go find another DiMera and Gabi refuses to let him walk out that door and give it to Chad or whatever Kristen conjures up.

 

Gabi tells Shin that she is married to Stefan and he wonders why tell him this and they let him know that they have been a couple for some time.

 

Gabi knows most of the board loves her because they see green and that’s what GabiChic brings to DiMera. She can count on Shin’s vote and he has the most sway with the board. Of course she will have to contend with Chad who unfortunately for her is Stefano’s son even if no one believes it.

 

After Shin tells them that he will have to convene with the board for an answer Nicole slinks in. Gabi knows that its really Kristen but she can’t announce to the world who she is because she is a wanted fugitive so she did find someone and imagine to her surprise when its someone who looks exactly like Andre. Only she tells them that its Tony and it makes Gabi upset that she is going to have to really fight for this.

 

When Tony says that he is there thanks to Dr. Rolf and Kristen it just cements Gabi’s theory. These are one of the times where she wishes that she wasn’t right.

 

It does give pleasure to Gabi when she announces that she and Stefan are married and she logs that it makes Tony amused at this fact so she feels that he isn’t hip to this marriage as Nicole is making it seem.

 

When Not-Nicole utters that she is the true heiress, Gabi can’t take it so she unleashes that Stefan is flesh and blood while Tony is adopted and Not-Nicole is trash.

 

Kristen keeps trying to flip the tables and tell Shin that Gabi would be a puppet and let’s everyone in that room know that she built GabiChic from nothing and it qualifies her more than being Stefan’s wife. When Kristen keeps urging Shin that Stefan will still run the shots Gabi points out that she as CEO can strip her husband of any powers which makes everyone’s eyebrows raise including Stefan’s.

 

While Stefan tries to blast her for her words she tells them that this is their only option because his status and freedom is in doubt right now. Kristen is upset that Gabi is smarter than she gave her cedit for and Tony calls her a clever girl.

 

Stefan and Gabi come back to the living room and tell everyone that Stefan will be giving over everything to his wife to prove that his best interest is DiMera and Kristen never believed that Stefan would actually do that.

 

After Kristen goes on a rant that this isn’t right Shin tells them all that Gabi will be the new CEO pending all of the necessary paperwork being signed.

 

Gabi wants to call it like she sees it when she knows that Kristen doesn’t give a damn about Holly and says that she can stay on at DiMera so long as she does the required work.

 

Gabi can’t believe that this actually worked and it didn’t take her a whole year to achieve but Kate’s words are running through her head again and she wants to prove Kate wrong.

 

Stefan brings her a glass of champagne and wants to of course celebrate with sex but she tells him that he needs to pack his shit and get out and he looks like he has heard wrong.

 

She tells him that she has been waiting since the day he framed her for Andre’s murder. She pushes the love she has for him down when she remembers the beatings. The days where she wished that she would just die so she didn’t have to feel the physical pain anymore… so she didn’t have to think of Ari hating her or thinking that she would ever leave her daughter behind.

 

Those feelings came back roaring and its almost like she is another person. The same person who needed to search for her agency when she didn’t have any. At the bottom of the prison system pyramid. Her body bloody and bruised as a way for other people to exercise power over her. She wants Stefan to feel just a little bit of her pain. She wants to rip it out of herself and smear it on his skin like a lotion so he could feel her helplessness.

 

She knows she can’t, so she will settle for this. She can’t lie that she still feels conflicted, but it feels so good to unleash her pain. This is better than her therapy sessions. Her screams in the night from nightmares, begging Rafe to please watch her sleep so she knows someone is there… Ari questioning her on where she went even though she hasn’t left the room. She remembers that when Stefan tries to tell her that they shared something real.

 

Be that as it may she loves a man who kisses the scars that he helped put there. When he calls her a bitch, she remembers all she hears is Diane calling her a bitch while pummeling her. Gabi refuses to let Diane get in her head… she stays grounded and in the moment and now only sees Stefan trying to get her to admit her feelings.

 

He tells her that they still have a prenup and she laughs because she will drag it out. Stefan knows that there’s more tethering Gabi to him than hate and he tells her that. He tells her when he finishes beating the bogus charges he will be back to throw her out on her ass. And he slams the door as he exits her new house.

 

She doesn’t think too much about it and drinks some more and Brady walks in. She thanks him for the whole idea and he’s shocked that it worked and she calls him out for helping Nicole try to be CEO.

 

Brady wants to toast because he’s really happy now that he can destroy DiMera but Gabi puts him on notice that they were allies before but that was over when he backed out and she is planning to run this company and make it a success.

 

While Gabi and Brady trade barbs, Stefan is telling Hope that he is going to see her boyfriend and get all of this straightened out. Her warnings of telling him to stay away do not sway him.

 

When he finds Ted though on the floor he turns him over and sees so much blood and is shocked that Ted is dead and he is even more upset when Eli and Jack are busting in the room and he already sees how it looks and he thought that his wedding day was supposed to be the best day of his life and instead the wife he’s in love with took everything away from him and put him out on the street and he’s being arrested for another crime he didn’t commit.

 

Chapter Text

Stefan is brought into the station in cuffs and he just thinks how did his day end up like this. He has lost everything he owned and he just might end up losing his freedom in one fell swoop.

 

When he refuses to tell Eli what he wants to hear he leaves him but he isn’t alone for long when he sees Ben and Ciara coming into the room wondering what the hell is going on…

 

He tells them all about what happened earlier with Gabi and they looked in shock at the speed of Gabi stabbing him in the back. He tells them that he needs help and Ben agrees.

 

When Stefan asks Ben to investigate someone and when he says alright Stefan tells him that its Ciara’s mother that he wants investigated.

 

Of course Ciara is upset at the accusation that her mother could shoot Ted when Stefan reminds her that her mother shot his father in cold blood. Ciara tells him that he has another thing coming if he thinks that he is going to railroad her mother like he did with Gabi and Stefan hates being reminded of what he did because he doesn’t want to examine that he would probably do the same thing that Gabi did to him if he was in that position.

 

Ciara is thinking to herself maybe Gabi wasn’t so wrong in doing what she did because Stefan is willing to throw other people under the bus to save his skin. Stefan tells Ciara he doesn’t think that her mother killed Ted but she did give him info that made her suspicious so it makes him suspicious. Ciara calms herself a little more now but she isn’t saying sorry but neither is Stefan.

 

He tells them about the woman in the park, the money and the necklace. Stefan tells him who he suspects of doing it but they both have a hard time believing that it could be Nicole. Ciara tells him that her mother would have known it was Nicole but Stefan tells her that her mother only saw the woman from behind but she said that the woman had to be familiar…she couldn’t place her though.

 

Ben tells him that he’ll do his best and even if he works for Gabi his loyalty is to Stefan. When they get ready to leave the police station they can hear voices speaking. Its night and they run a skeleton crew for night shift so its not many people around and the detective wing only has a couple of detectives working.

 

When Ben hears Stefan’s name he stops Ciara from leaving because he needs to hear what’s going on just in case it can give him some clues.

 

“Lani, I know he didn’t do it! He couldn’t have… I know him…” Ben wants to roll his eyes but he just continues to listen. “… What was the time of death? What did the medical examiner say because I can give you a timeline of where Stefan has been all day and I can get corroborating witnesses. We got married today and plenty of people say us…”

 

“What the hell? You got married today and didn’t tell me… Gabi what the fuck?!” Lani is upset that Gabi didn’t tell her because over the course of these months they got close and she would think that Gabi would tell her at the very least.

 

“Lani it happened really fast it was a business thing and my plan accelerated and I succeeded…”

 

“Yeah Gabi, but you are in love with him… why else would you be here at night pleading his case?” Lani quizzes her friend and she knows Gabi won’t have a rebuttal.

 

“Because I love him… I can admit it. Lani after everything that has happened in my life I cannot lose him too. I already lost Arianna and Paige…” When Ben overhears Paige’s name it gives him chills because he killed her. He remembers stalking her before she died and he thought it was weird that Paige would venture to the Hernandez house often but never told anyone about it. Her very last phone call to Gabi was excitement about a parade they were going to and it still haunts him because she was so excited about attending a parade. He never knew anyone besides children could be excited about something like that.  “…when Rafe got shot I felt like I wanted to die. He can’t go to prison! He shouldn’t have to endure anything like what I have… Lani please help me…” Ciara and Ben hear Gabi breakdown and crying.

 

“Gab Gab, let me take you into commissioner office… I know you hate to have anyone see you like this. Come on babe… let’s go.” As Lani helps Gabi to Eli’s office Ben taps Ciara telling them they have to go but quietly so neither of them know that they were there.

 

 

When they get to their car, Ben can’t drive yet because he isn’t in the right headspace.

 

“Ben, I’m sorry that must have been hard to hear about—”

 

“Paige… It might be hard for me to hear about it but Gabi has to live with it and you wonder why she hates me Ciara…” They don’t mention Will because they don’t have to because they both know.

 

“I didn’t even know she was that she was close to Paige…”

 

“She was… I followed Paige for weeks when I felt the walls closing in and they were a family. She would sleep there sometimes, babysit Gabi’s daughter, wait for Rafe and eat as a family. I took that away from them.” He still recoils at a conversation he had when he crossed paths with Gabi at the mansion. When she mentioned Paige he had asked for forgiveness and he could see her eyes glisten but her words were venomous.

 

“How did no one know that?” Ciara is starting to realize maybe she doesn’t know Gabi as well as she thinks. Even though she has moved on from her rape it took her the longest time not to feel helpless and weak and not in control of her life.

 

“They were just private and living their lives I guess. I asked Gabi for forgiveness and she slapped the shit out of me. She told me unless Paige came back to her she would always have to see her sister’s murderer walking about living his life while her sister lays in the ground…” Ben hates looking at Gabi because she is a constant reminder of what he did.

 

“I wish you could get that forgiveness you need Ben but its impossible. Maybe if we crack this case Gabi can hate you less…”  Ben is not hopeful hearing his girl’s words but he would help Stefan because he gave him a chance when no one else did and he’s his friend.

 

“I’m wouldn’t count on that but Stefan’s my friend and I want to help him regardless if it will make a difference in Gabi hating me less.” With that Ben drives away from the police station ready to help Stefan anyway he can.

 

Gabi collects herself in Eli’s office and she tells Lani she needs to see Stefan. Lani tells her visiting hours are over now but when Gabi begs she bends the rules and they walk over to the interrogation room.

 

“Even though I don’t feel bad at all for Gabi tricking you and leaving you worthless for the things you have done to her… she wanted to see you…” Stefan is surprised as hell that Gabi is here or that Lani is even letting her see him. “… Gabi you don’t have long I do have to take him back to holding. He’s going to be arraigned in Monday morning.” When he hears Lani he realizes that he has to stay in jail the whole weekend because its Friday…

 

Now that they are alone and Stefan is looking at Gabi and he wonder how on earth she could look so upset after everything she has done.

 

“Cómo podrías ser tan estúpida?” (How could you be so stupid?) That was definitely not the first thing he thought Gabi would say to him.

 

“Qué estás haciendo aquí?” (What are you doing here?) She doesn’t know why the hell he thinks he is going to be asking the questions here.

 

“Why the hell would you pick up the murder weapon? Why the hell did you go there in the first place?” When he sees how frustrated she is when she’s interrogating him he knows that she loves him as much as he loves her.

 

“Well wifey, I needed Ted to tell the damn truth because I was tired of having my freedom hang in the balance after losing everything thanks to you…”

 

“Stefan, I didn’t do anything to you that you haven’t done to me! When I thought I had lost everything prison taught me that was just the beginning. I didn’t do anything to you, yet you had no qualms to help put me away. You took my business from me and then had my freedom stripped from me. You took me away from Arianna. My daughter has lost so many people in her life and she thought I left her on purpose.” He didn’t know what he was expecting when she came in here but him feeling worse about what he did wasn’t it.

 

“I can’t change the past but I thought we got past it. We were happy and I know it wasn’t a lie. You came her to do what gloat?”

 

“You’ve never said sorry!” She slams her hands on the table and gets up and starts pacing. “… do you think its easy to love a man who sent you to your death? Do you?! I almost died there and a part of me wanted too…” She’s mad at herself because she thought she had dried herself of tears in Eli’s office with Lani but her she is crying in front of this man. Her crying scares him because he had never seen her cry like this. He’s never seen anyone cry like this… watching her choke on air while trying to breath breaks his heart. More broken then when Gabi told him to get out.

 

He doesn’t know what comes over him but he gets up and goes to her and he whispers a litany of sorry like he should have done in the first place. He hugs her and he can feel her violent shakes  and he tries to soothe her.

 

“Baby I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” He holds her face and her makeup is all ruined but she doesn’t look away from his eyes like she is judging his veracity.

 

“I won’t let them take you away, I know you didn’t do it but why would you be so stupid and touch the murder weapon?” He believes her even after the day he has had he knows in his heart that she is going to fight for him. He surely doesn’t deserve it but he is grateful that she loves him.

 

“I thought whoever killed Ted would kill me too so I picked up the first thing…”

 

“That’s dumb Stefan! Whoever did it… why would they come back? If you didn’t touch the gun. They could have excluded you because they wouldn’t have found any gunshot residue on you.” Her simple statement makes him realize that he did complicate things further for himself.

 

“Did your best friend tell you anything?” He meant it as a dig because of what Lani said earlier but even now Gabi can fix him a look that says quit while he’s behind.

 

“Not really… I asked Lani but she told me she doesn’t know that much because the case wasn’t assigned to her. Since its high profile they wanted a more senior detective so my brother is on the case. He’s still investigating but I left him messages. Only information I really got from her was that the medical examiner was able to determine an initial time of death window but it still doesn’t exclude you yet but I have hope.”

 

“Why you said it yourself that it doesn’t exclude me…” Before Stefan can hear what Gabi has to say to that someone is opening the door.

 

They see its Justin and Gabi runs to hug him. He told her that he would come as soon as he could and she’s just happy she he came.

 

Stefan doesn’t know how to trust a family so adversarial to his own even if he didn’t grow up with them.

 

“Let me be clear, I’m only here because Gabi asked me to take on this case…” It dawns on him that this is Arianna’s grandfather and that he is Arianna’s stepfather.

 

“Justin, he didn’t do it but he gave them evidence that they could use against him.” He takes offense to his wife’s words but he doesn’t have time to argue with Gabi because who knows how long they have to speak.

 

“How on earth could he do that?” Justin just roll his eyes at Stefan and wonders how much harder he is making it to defend him.

 

“He didn’t shoot Ted but he’s a vlákas and picked up the murder weapon and of course the police get there and arrest him. Did I say it right?!” It’s not like he wants to hear yet again about his lapse in sense. And he wonders what the hell a vlákas is…

 

“You did really well… He is an idiot. I could have had you out tonight. I’m not hopeful about bail but you are being arraigned on Monday. Let’s hope we get a more sympathetic judge.”

 

“Well that’s a problem Justin… I asked Lani if she could try and find out but its Judge Amistad.” Stefan deflates when he sees Justin cringe when Gabi says the judges name.

 

“Who is this Judge Amistad?”

 

“He’s a hard-nosed pro-prosecution judge. Considering you still have the kidnapping charges levied against you I don’t think he will grant bail. He knows whatever bail he sets that Gabi can pay it and being a DiMera doesn’t help because that makes you a huge flight risk. You aren’t getting out on bail. Obviously, I will do my best but you should prepare to be remanded. I will ask that you be remanded to the city jail instead of being sent to Statesville pending trial. Until I can have my investigators compile evidence to dismiss the charges this is going to be reality… Gabi do you need a ride? Its Friday—”

 

“I know its Scrabble night but I don’t think I’m in the right headspace and Ari would notice. I will take you up on the ride though. I’m just going to go home and wait up for Rafe… I just need a couple of minutes with Stefan…”

 

“Sure, I’ll be outside waiting…” When Justin steps outside its just them again and Stefan gathered so much information in this little exchange about Gabi that he never knew. She plays scrabble and he bets she’s good because she plays to win.

 

But the thing that nags him the most is that when she asked Justin to take her home it was the Hernandez home that she was referring to and not his. She really did take it away something she didn’t want to prove a point but it nags him because he wants where he lays his head to be where she lays hers.

 

“Baby, I promise I’m going to keep on looking for evidence regardless of what Justin’s investigators find. Its good news that he thinks he can get them to keep you in jail until we can gather enough proof to exonerate you.” Its hard for him to count that as good news but he doesn’t really know the difference and Gabi does.

 

She kisses him and he can’t resist it. Just a couple of hours ago he swore to himself he would never be duped by Gabi again but here she is fighting for him like she was just the day before.

 

He just wishes this day was a bad dream and he wakes up but he knows that this is reality.

 

“Only person who should ever get to punish you is me…” He wonders how cheeky she can be cheeky at a time like this.

 

“You promise…” Those little words set her ablaze and she wishes that Stefan wasn’t in jail so she could show him just what she means.

 

“I’m going to steal a pair of my brother’s handcuffs and handcuff you to the bed and have my way with you when I clear your name…”

 

“I’m looking forward to it. Don’t forget the key. We can take turns…” He’s fantasizing Gabi handcuffed to the bed and even though he knows he’s going to a cell it doesn’t makes him any less hard.

 

“Why would I need a key? I don’t plan on letting you out… Where would the fun be in that?” She kisses him one last time and she lets him know who’s boss by biting his lower lip. “I should go Justin is waiting for me…”

 

He just nods because he has no words left after a kiss like that. He gained a wife, lost her and gained her back again in less than 24 hours. She takes one last look at him before she goes.

 

She tells Lani good bye for the night and leaves with Justin. As she is walking out the police station, she sends a text to someone who just may help her.

 

This is Gabi and I think we should meet tomorrow I have news that will change your life forever. -Gabi

 

This had better be good! Text me a time and a place. -Anna

 

 

As Justin is asking Gabi about her day besides the fact of her husband being arrested on their wedding day, Lani is escorting Stefan back to his cell.

 

“I really don’t know why Gabi decided to stay with you but Stefan if you hurt her again, I will put you under the damn jail.” Lani slams the bar gate and it automatically locks. The look Lani gives Stefan feels like she can see into his soul.

 

She practically struts out and he just hopes between Gabi, Justin, Ben and Ciara that someone can find proof and get him the hell out of there.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Today has the be the day that Paige gets her sister to believe her this is all Vivian thinks and has been thinking for days… She is antsy because something is happening and its making the goons freak out which means Kristen is freaked out.

 

They are worried enough that they have left but they have locked them in so they can’t escape through any windows or doors. It has made Nicole freak out that wherever they go next they will not even know how far they are from home or how to get any help. It means that she will be even further from Eric which makes her lose more hope that they will ever reunite. Nicole tells Paige to copy the IMEI number done. She remembers one of her ho-drum jobs working at a phone company and when they used to get request to trace cell that’s the one thing they ask for. It doesn’t matter if its been almost 20 years somethings never change.

 

Paige makes sure to charge the phone until its full and they start getting ready to be rescued and they all have never been so scared in their entire lives. Paige just hopes that she doesn’t get any interference this time and that Gabi picks up. She had been debating on calling her grandfather but she thought he would believe it was a cruel joke someone was trying to pull and not read too much into it. She knows that she can make Gabi believe her but they need a little luck on their side that Gabi doesn’t ignore the call.

 

In Salem, Gabi had summoned Ben and he brought Ciara. Gabi doesn’t really care if Ciara wants to help it just means more eyes to help her. She did have a mind to fire Ben but she decided to keep him because he isn’t as dumb as he looks and he has been semi-competent at his job.

 

“Good you showed up… I’m sure you know that my husband got himself arrested. Even though I know he is innocent he did some really questionable things that makes him look no so innocent. Combined with the kidnapping charges he originally had the judge remanded him into custody. I already have retained Justin as his counsel and he has investigators working on the case but I also want you to work on the case as well…”

 

“Why do you want us to help you help Stefan? Didn’t you kick him to the curb like five minutes after the ceremony?” Ciara can’t help herself and Ben really wishes that she didn’t.

 

“My marriage is no one’s business but my own. If you don’t want to help me Ben, you’ll be fired effective immediately and have 20 minutes to retrieve your belongings…” Gabi doesn’t mind sounding cold she owes Ben absolutely nothing and she doesn’t have time to play because the longer they are not investigating Stefan’s frame job the longer he sits in jail.

 

“I’ll do it Mrs. DiMera… Do you have anything you want me to investigate in particular?” He looks at Ciara and basically begs her to not do this. They all want the end goal and after what he saw on Friday with Gabi’s breakdown its his penance to help her with whatever she needs help with as long as she needs him too.

 

“Yeah there’s a couple of things do you have something that can trace calls?”

 

“Yeah I would need the IMEI number but I can do it why? Couldn’t you call your brother?”

 

“My brother would need a court order to get a cell phone company to do something like that. I have been getting calls that don’t make sense on their own but I know they do in the bigger picture the number is blocked and I’m sure it’s a burner phone but they have called me a few times. I want to know where I can find them.” He just nods but he wonders what does that have to do with Stefan…

 

“What were some of the other things?”

 

“Stefan and I thought Nicole Walker was to blame for the kidnappings but I’m not so sure it is Nicole doing this…” Gabi is risking it all by telling them her theory but they have lived in this town and crazier things have happened.

 

“Stefan was sure it was Nicole the kidnapping… why do you think it is someone else?”

 

“Nicole has been saying things she would never in a million years say and doing things that are very much unlike herself. I could get her acting irrationally because of the death of Holly but I believe she has either been brainwashed or programmed to be someone else… Kristen…”

 

“Gabi that makes no sense Kristen is dead…” Ciara wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

 

“So is Princess Gina…” Gabi shuts Ciara up real quickly… “… I’m very sure we are either dealing with Rolf doing something with Nicole to make her completely someone else or using an impostor who looks like Nicole but is really Kristen. It sounds absurd but Stefano had an impostor that looked just like my brother and I couldn’t tell them apart.”

 

“Ciara, she has a point Rolf could have easily did something to Nicole… he’s done it before with your mom and plenty of other people…” Ben doesn’t like to think of Rolf being involved in something else but he can’t dismiss it because it’s a real possibility.

 

“Okay I can see that but why Kristen?”

 

“Besides the fact that Nicole basically had a personality transplant. She banished the love of her life for Brady after everything he did to her… I don’t think so. And when Nicole was here last week she said father would not want this… she tried to cover it up by saying she said your father to Stefan but she didn’t. Nicole would not give two cares in the world for Stefano’s vision but ‘Nicole’ was adamant but a daughter of Stefano would be. I know he has other daughters that have died but Lexie would have gone to Abe and Theo… Renee was before Rolf’s time with Stefano. It only leaves Kristen. Also Nicole called me a mutt and she was a purebred… her dad was browner than me …” It makes Gabi upset again that Kristen called her that.

 

“She called you a dog and that’s what made you think she wasn’t Nicole?” Gabi has to refrain from rolling her eyes because why would Ciara know this.

 

“Mutt is a racial slur usually used to refer to mixed people and Latinos. It can be used in a derogatory manner if the person saying it wants it to be. I know the real Nicole knows what it means and why she would never say it especially in a business setting. Kristen on the other hand probably didn’t know it was a racial slur but she was using it to say I was inferior to her.” She is done with educating them about microaggressions and less used slurs because its not her job to be a teacher.

 

“I didn’t know that Gabi… I don’t say the word but I’m glad to know that some people could find offense with the word.” Ben nods while Ciara is speaking, and Gabi is glad she doesn’t need to be the Dolores Huerta of Salem.

 

“Well thank you. Not-Nicole married Tony and she is able to do that because Kristen is a wanted fugitive and she wouldn’t be able to get DiMera because she has several warrants out for her arrest. It makes perfect sense for her to be ‘Nicole’. Kristen has a maniacal obsession with Brady and Nicole has been involved with Brady so it makes it easier for her to be near Brady without pretending she doesn’t know him…”

 

“Do you think Brady has suspicions that Nicole is Not-Nicole?” Ciara can’t believe that she is actually believing Gabi but she can’t argue that this makes perfect sense in a very Salem way.

 

“I think he has suspicions that Not-Nicole is acting very out of character but no I think he believes that she is Nicole because he has been trying to get Xander to drop his vendetta against Nicole.”

 

“Oh my god, you’re right. Xander was the first one to claim that Stefan was the mastermind and then Kate and Ted backed him up. I can totally believe that Xander was helping Kristen! He’s a snake and if ‘Nicole’ was distracting Brady then Xander could ingratiate himself at Titan! My grandfather was upset that Brady gave Xander a cushy job in an executive position. Xander probably made a deal with him fooling Brady into thinking he forgave ‘Nicole’ but he was really working with Kristen the whole time.” Gabi is impressed with this info that Ciara is giving her because it making her case stronger even if she can’t prove anything yet.

 

“That very may well be but how can you prove it to the cops?”

 

“I don’t know yet but I know Rafe has to get a court order so the security company will release all of the footage from that from the Medical Examiners time of death window. It can help widen the net of suspects passed…” She loves that her brother told her even though he wasn’t supposed to but she did relay it with Stefan and Justin. If Rafe can’t get the order in she believes Justin might be able to because it can prove that it could be more people besides Stefan.

 

“That’s good the more suspects the higher their burden is to prove Stefan did it…” Ben keeps working on clues and someone’s cell goes off but they all have iPhones so they can’t tell who it is.

 

It’s Gabi’s phone and she sees that the number is blocked.

 

“Hey, I need that trace it’s a blocked number Ben…” Ben goes to the program so he can trace the call. After Ciara was kidnapped he made it a top priority to make sure he had every tool he needed to make sure that it could never happen again.

 

“Hello?” Gabi tries to be calm but feels that eerie feeling she gets when she picks up the call.

 

“El que más ama perdona más Rafael…” Gabi drops her phone and it makes a loud sound and Ciara and Ben are just staring at her. She falls to the floor and grabs her phone like it’s a lifeline.

 

“Baby?!” When Gabi says this it makes Ben and Ciara pause. Both are wondering who the hell is she calling baby and it couldn’t be Stefan.

 

“Yes its me… I didn’t know if you would believe it was me. So I needed to find a way to prove who I was without you thinking it was a mean joke. Please come get me!” Paige never thought this would be happening and she just starts crying because she knows Gabi will come for her.

 

“I will always come for you… always… tell me where you are and I will come right now!” Gabi is so anxious and trying her hardest to not full on cry but she her mind is trying to catch up to her heart.

 

“I don’t know really but I think I’m in Skokie…”

 

“That’s good umm do you know the umm the… the IMEI number on the phone you’re using?”

 

Paige tells her and she types it in and the tracker is trying to locate her but they get a general area and Ben tells her it will keep tracing it more precisely.

 

“I will be there as soon as I can… I’m coming okay try not to hang up the phone.”

 

“Wait Gabi I need you to do some things if possible…”

 

“Tell me!” Ben and Ciara just keep wondering who could have Gabi acting like this.

 

“I need you to bring a car seat and if possible wherever you take me can you please have Eric there?” When Paige mentions Eric it just confuses Gabi but she just says okay. It does make her sad when her sister mentions a child because she doesn’t want to think about her sister having a child in captivity especially one with her abductor. It makes her feel sick. Paige mentions there’s some more people with her and Gabi just tells her okay she will find something big enough to carry them all.

 

She calms down and mutes the phone…

 

“We gotta go now…” Gabi is finding her sister today and as much as she loves Stefan he can wait.

 

“We have to find who’s framing Stefan…” Ben wants to help his boss… Stefan helped him when he needed it most he is just returning the favor.

 

“Ben I will forgive you for everything but you need to help me right now…” The chance at Gabi’s forgiveness makes him jump out of his seat and ready to go. “… Ciara keep finding information that can help us. I will pay you for your time. Ben you need go find a hoodie.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Ben did as Gabi told him and when he gets back to the main house he sees her in the baggiest sweats and wonders why they need to wear this but its clear whatever they are going to do is probably dangerous.

 

He doesn’t like the idea of possibly helping Gabi find a lover because that means she is stepping out on Stefan. He thought after what he and Ciara overheard at the station that she was in love with him but that will have to be something he speaks to Stefan about later when he gets a chance.

 

He is confused when Gabi tells him that they need to rent a car but he just listen to her because she is the boss.

 

She makes him rent the car in his name… he is quickly realizing that whoever they are going to pick up Gabi doesn’t want someone to pick up on the fact that she is involved.

 

Gabi can feel Ben’s eyes on her as he drives in the direction of Skokie and the map starts to get more precise the closer they get and it makes her so happy because it means she is getting closer to Paige.

 

She remembers that Paige told her to get in contact with Eric. She finds it weird but she guesses that he is her cousin after all and he can help her in a specific way that she can’t.

 

Hi Eric, I have a peculiar favor to ask of you. -Gabi

 

Okay… how can I help you? -Eric

 

Could you go to this address and just stay there until I can get there but you can’t take your car. I need to call you an Uber or Lyft… -Gabi

 

Gabi, you do realize how creepy that sounds right? -Eric

 

Eric, I know but please I need you to do this. This is to help someone that you care about. I will be able to explain more once I get them to you. They are in trouble and they asked me specifically for you. -Gabi

 

Fine Gabi, send me the info for the Uber… -Eric

 

Use the back entrance and just text me when you get there and I will let you in from my app. -Gabi

 

How fancy! All right I’m not working today so just let me know when you need me to go. -Eric

 

I’ll send an Uber for you right now. -Gabi

 

Gabi sends the Uber info to Eric’s phone. She bought her mother a house a couple of years ago when GabiChic first exploded. She has always made it a promise to herself to do it and she was happy she did it. Her mother still wanted to live in Mexico so she bought her a condo but Justin told her its good to have some investments in real estate so she kept the house. It’s in her mother’s name… her mother’s maiden name and she believes Paige will be safe there until her sister can tell her more.

 

When Eric texts telling him that he is at her house she remotely unlocks the door for him and she just tells him thank you and to sit tight.

 

“You must really care about this person to drop everything you’re doing to help Stefan…” Ben tries to make conversation but he is also trying to get some answers on who Gabi’s ‘baby’ is.

 

“Yeah I made a promise and never got to fulfill it. Still haunts me but if I can help someone I love dearly so its worth it.” Gabi knows exactly what Ben is doing. He’s fishing but she isn’t taking any bait.

 

“Is it going to be dangerous?”

 

“I think it could be there’s a chance it could be but I’m not 100% sure.” Good thing Ben brought his gun just in case. As soon as Gabi said that he needed to wear a hoodie was when his suspicion rose.

 

“Is that also why you made me rent a car?”

 

“Yes I don’t want a DiMera car to be used because I don’t know who we are dealing with and it could put a target by making it easy for them to track us down where as a rental car place makes it more difficult. Especially because we won’t be returning to any dealer close to Salem. When we are finished I need you to drive to Chicago and leave it at a Enterprise there. I would have you drive further but I can’t have you away from Salem long because we have to get back to our Stefan case. Chicago has to be good enough for now.”

 

Ben just looks at the road and he finds himself really fascinated at his friend’s wife because she is anticipating three to four moves ahead of whoever she is up against and she doesn’t even know who they are. He imagines them playing chess as foreplay.

 

She might be a little extreme but he’s glad that she is on Stefan’s side because if she wasn’t he’d be afraid that Stefan would stay in jail.

 

“It’s a good idea it will make whoever is after the people we are picking up have to work harder… just please tell me we are not going up against any law enforcement…” Ben knows it’s a little late to be asking that but he still wants to know. He’s not trying to go to jail again.

 

“No and you should have probably asked that when we were still at the mansion Ben.”

 

“I do realize that I was a little late in asking but you’re my boss. I figured if it was anything illegal you wouldn’t be in the car with me…”

 

“You’re smarter you look Ben Weston…” He chuckles because its one of the very few times that Gabi doesn’t show her complete hatred for him.

 

“Is that a compliment Mrs. DiMera?”

 

“It was inference based anecdotal but valid evidence.” He can see that she’s rolling her eyes but he doesn’t care.

 

“Mmhmm…” He never thought he would be having a pleasant conversation with Gabi Hernandez he just hopes its not a sign that he’s going to die.

 

“Its updating… oh my goodness we are getting closer!” Gabi is excited and absolutely terrified. Its not like she could call a cavalry. She unmutes the phone and wonders what she will be up against. “… is there anyone in there that could attack us?”

 

Paige scrambles for the phone when she hears Gabi’s voice, she did as she was told and let the phone stay on.

 

“No… I don’t think so at least not on the inside. They left and locked us in but I don’t know when they will be back… Are you close?” It feels like a dream that she could be leaving but she can’t get too excited because it could be a bloodbath as well.

 

“Okay that’s good. If they locked you in that means I’m going to break the door down…” Gabi is glad that she brought Ben because he is the muscle she needs right now.

 

“Yeah I think so we have tried but it’s no use I guess its easier doing it from the outside. I’m sorry…”

 

“Don’t be sorry, I will always come for you… always. I’m close but we need to be in and out so be ready to run.”

 

Ben can only hear Gabi’s end of the conversation but whoever is on the other line is obviously really important to her but he feels conflicted about helping her ‘baby’ when he’s loyal to Stefan. But he has also wanted Gabi to forgive him about Paige and kidnapping her.

 

He’s pretty nervous too because whatever Gabi has brought him into is dangerous and he can tell by how sparse the houses as they get closer to their destination. He parks the car and cautions Gabi. He keeps his head down as he looks for security cameras and if they are there they must be embedded because he can’t find any.

 

“Hey, stay behind me just in case…” He wants to make sure whatever happens that she can have a quick head start. He passes her the keys because her safety is his main objective.

 

“Ben don’t bust down the front door. Let’s go to the back or the side because if they come back they won’t immediately know that we are here.” He looks at her wondering why is she so good at this but those questions are not for now. She goes back to her phone and unmutes it. “… I think we are here we are going to come from the back door so try and go there.”

 

“Okay we’re going to the back now we’re ready…” As soon as Gabi gets the okay from Paige she nods to Ben. He steps in front of her and she holds onto him as they make their way to the back of the safehouse Ben finds a door and he tells Gabi to move. He gathers some momentum and rushes the door and it makes a big boom as it caves in.

 

Both Gabi and Ben can hear commotion inside. Gabi just runs and she can’t believe her eyes when she sees Paige. She also sees Vivian Alamain which should make her pissed but right now she can’t think of anything outside of her sister. They are hugging and crying. One not letting the other go. As they hug each other Ben is just frozen by what he is watching. Somehow Paige is alive and he feels a little bit better about himself.

 

“Gabi, we need to go! We don’t know when they might comeback…”

 

“Listen to the muscle I’m tired of being in this hovel…” Vivian isn’t one who can be silent for long and before Gabi can say anything she sees Nicole but this could be a trap.

 

“Wait… before we go anywhere, I need to make sure this is not Kristen… Speak Spanish…” She looks at Nicole waiting for her to speak. Kristen could know memorize Nicole’s whole life if she threatened her but she doubts she could learn to speak another language with such little time.

 

“Esto es ridículo…” Gabi believes this is Nicole with how automatic and confidently Nicole says it that she knows this isn’t the impostor.

 

“All right let’s go before these goons get back here…” Gabi adrenaline is running high and wants to get out here before the danger returns. She hears Nicole call out for Holly to come out and she’s shocked that Holly isn’t dead.

 

She can’t think of this too long because Ben is yelling at them to run. They get into the SUV and hightail it out of there.

 

She makes Vivian sit in the front so she could be with Paige. She had never thought that she would ever have this again.

 

“Ben, we need to go to Chicago first but drop us off to get something to eat and make it a place that’s close to an Enterprise. I will rent a car for us to go back to Salem with.”

 

Vivian just looks on between the two of them and she wonders what the dynamic between the bodyguard her son hired and the woman she helped frame. She takes a glimpse at Paige with Gabi and she can’t help but notice her ring on her finger!

 

“How on earth do you have my ring?” Vivian is shocked and wants what’s rightfully hers back.

 

“Oh can it Vivian… is that anyway to speak to your daughter-in-law?” Just about everyone in the car is shocked at this news but it just makes Ben laugh so hard. Nicole wants to give her props on shutting up the old bat but she is thinking of what she will say to Eric…

 

Its not everyday that someone can make Vivian Alamain speechless, but Gabi did.

 

The irony of her life being saved by the woman who she helped put away was one thing but the fact that the same person is married to her son is another thing.

 

“Well Stefan is pretty lucky because Gabi would do anything for family and Vivi it seems that she did just that…” Paige defends Gabi because she feels the longer Vivi is silent the more acerbic she will be when she does speak and she really doesn’t want to be the mediator between the two of them.

 

She just wants to look outside and get reacquainted with the world that has gone on without her. She can’t wait to get to Chicago because the promise of being able to choose the food she will eat is a freedom she hasn’t known for years.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When they reached Chicago it felt like everyone in the car could breathe a little easier. The further they got from that ram shack safehouse the less tension everyone had. Ben had been looking in his mirrors the whole time to check if anyone was tailing them. Taking longer routes just in case anyone did follow them, but he feels confident that no one is following.

 

He can’t believe that he is in the same car as one of the people he strangled… the youngest person he strangled. He thought he stole her future and he just looks in the rearview at how excited she is to be reunited with Gabi. The weird part for him is that she doesn’t even acknowledge that he killed her. He did wear a mask, but it makes him nervous because he doesn’t want to freak her out.

 

“Where would you ladies like me to take you?”

 

“There’s only one place to go of course. Spiaggia… they always take care of me there…” Now that she is out of that dreary shack Vivian Alamain wants the familiar comforts of her life again.

 

“Vivian you cannot go to a place you might be recognized! We need something a little simpler somewhere people wouldn’t really recognize but also very public…” Nicole knows that Vivian is used to her high-priced lifestyle but that’s a quick way for them to be found. Kristen would be the one to find out places they frequent.

 

“Fine! Then where am I going to spoil my palate on inedible food?” Paige finds it amusing that Vivi can even eviscerate the air she breathes.

 

“How about the Cheesecake Cake Factory?” Paige wants to eat typical… be typical… feel typical.

 

She and Gabi stare at each other and just start laughing and join their hands together.

 

“White bread, no wheat extra butter please!” They both screech the same thing in unison in a way only sisters could. Their laughter fills the car and everyone in it can’t help but feel the energy that radiates from them.

 

“Your opinions are automatically null and void because the wheat bread is superior!” Nicole is outraged at the thought of the wheat bread disrespect. She had been getting out of her own head more and calming herself to the fact that she and Holly are indeed on the outside.

After they switched cars, Ben drove them to the Cheesecake Factory, and he realized he is hungry himself.

 

The adrenaline from before has since dissipated and he can feel the hunger pains. He looks at his phone and sees that Ciara left him some texts. He knows that she is worried, but he tells her he is fine, but he will be home late.

 

They all get out of the new rental and the ladies are shuffling into the restaurant when Gabi looks at Paige. She never wants to let her sister out of her sight again, but her sister needs to do something.

 

She steps in front of Ben and just looks at him in a way that makes him stop is his tracks. He can’t believe that Gabi is leaving him alone with her sister.

 

“We need to talk… Don’t you think so?” Her angry face makes him take a step back. He was wondering when this would happen. Paige tells them sheand Ben will take a walk around the block and be back soon. Gabi doesn’t like it, but she acquiesces.

 

“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if Gabi or anyone was with us?”

 

“The switchblade my sister gave me will be fine enough company. Now let’s take that walk…” This is the first time in a long time that he feels legitimately frightened and the object of that fear to everyone else that might see them is this unassuming woman.

 

“Umm… Paige…”

 

“Shut up!” Paige has waited a long time to be in this moment. A moment she never thought would come actually so now that its here she will be the one to dictate the conversation.

 

Her tone is oozing with authority that silences Ben.

 

“Gabi tells me you supposedly reformed serial killer... Imagine my surprise when I saw you barreling through the door.”

 

“I don’t know what to say besides sorry but even that falls flat…” How does he apologize for killing someone who lives now? He is still trying to learn that with Will.

 

“Sorry means nothing to me Ben. It doesn’t change the intimacy we share. Most people never really see that part. The intimacy of it all… how close you have to be to strangle someone… I could hear you breathe as you stole the air from my body. The harder I tried to fight the harder you did to counter me…” Paige looks at him and she feels a sense of satisfaction that this is disturbing him. For so long she had nightmares… constantly reliving the last moments of her life. “The power you stole from me… Even though you were disguised I knew it was you. I thought to myself why is Ben killing me…” It strikes a chord with him that Paige knew it was him.

 

“You know it was me?”

 

“Are you kidding Ben?! Of course I knew it was you! You dated Abigail and I dated JJ! I could see your eyes and I knew who was killing me. I just didn’t know why you would chase me down. Why you would do that me? Why did you kill me?” When she asks Ben why he killed her it didn’t come out as a scream in fact it was quiet broken whispers. She’s pacing the sidewalk glowering at him for an answer.

 

“There’s no real or satisfying answer to that. Nothing I can say will ever justify what I did. Telling you that I had a psychotic break and did those disgusting things to you can’t diminish my culpability because I still feel what you felt. I did do those things and as much as they haunt me, they haunt you worse. My world crumbling made me lash out and destroy yours… your life. Your right there’s no amount of sorry that can change what I did or take away…” He doesn’t think having such an emotionally trying conversation in the street but its not up to what he wants right now.

 

“I was collateral damage! Was I wrong place, wrong time?!” She finally feels able to express her feelings about her dying.

 

“Unfortunately yeah… I was spiraling and Chad was at the center of that. He had recently gotten into some words with you and I had already killed Serena, so my mind wanted him to burn…”

 

“So I had to burn too…” Her grimace makes it harder for him to explain his mind’s twisted logic. “… why are you not in prison?!” She wasn’t the only person he killed yet here he is in front of her.

 

“I was in prison and a therapist there diagnosed me with Schizoaffective disorder. The worse my delusions were the more extreme I became to try to recapture what my mind perceived to be normal. I killed you when I was under extreme mental duress. My therapist and Marlena Evans told the court that I was an example of the lack of social welfare nets for people for who grew up like me. Their words and the prison overpopulation problem led to my release…” Ben tries his best to measure his words. He definitely doesn’t want to sound flippant about this and definitely not to her.

 

He gets a chime on his phone and he sees that its Gabi wondering what’s going on… He knows if they don’t head back soon that Gabi may just end him.

 

“I know its Gabi probably wondering what we are doing…” When Ben looks at his phone, he sees just how right Paige is.

 

“What do you want me to tell her?” Its weird for him to hang on what she might tell him.

 

“You’d do anything I ask of you?” Paige just at him scrutinizing everything on his face.

 

“Yeah I would…” It’s so automatic for him.

 

“Tell her we are walking back now… There is something you can do for me…” She’s gone back to looking around soaking in life around her. Ben believes she probably has a tight grip on the switchblade Gabi gave her.

 

“What is it?” The chance to help her is a choice he will always make.

 

“I want you to go to therapy with me. I am going to need help and you aren’t going away... I need to be able to deal with your… presence. I believe I will able to deal with what happened if I get the help I need and I think you being a part of it will make me have to confront it so I can move past it.” This was not what he expected her to say and what she wants will make him have to revisit a place he tries to run as far as he can from.

 

“Okay I’ll do it.” They walk back to Cheesecake and before his mind registers, he opens the door to let Paige through and he can see the cascade of emotions that passes her when she walks through. She had to get close to him to get through because of the amount of people coming in and out.

As she passes, he can hear the small intake of breath she has when she passes him. Now he wishes that he had let her get her own door. He stays a safe distance from her to not make her feel worse. He just follows her because she looks like she knows where she’s going.

 

They join the ladies at the table. Gabi glowers at Ben while telling Paige to sit next to her.

 

“You know Paige this restaurant is really not that bad… I find I am a fan of the white bread rather than the wheat…” Nicole rolls her eyes at the disrespectful treatment the wheat bread receives. Only Ben seems to eat it.

 

“Gabi you know what I don’t understand… How could you tell the woman in Salem wasn’t me?” Nicole is intrigued that Gabi was the one to deduce that Kristen wasn’t able to fool everyone.

 

“Well it was like a whole personality shift. As soon as she got to Salem, she attached herself to Brady and treated Eric horribly. I thought that was weird even if she was ‘blaming’ him for Holly’s umm accident. But even more so she said things I know you wouldn’t say. She called Stefano… father and went on about upholding his legacy when I knew you hated the guy. I had suspected her being an impostor when we were talking about a launch party and she called herself a purebred and referred to me as a mutt…” Gabi’s hands ball into a fist remembering what Kristen said with such a straight face.

 

“She called you a what?!” Nicole is upset to say the least and she wishes she was in Salem so she could punch Kristen in the face.

 

Paige looks just as mad as Nicole and Ben is starting to understand more about a slur he never knew about.

 

“Yeah she did, and I was like umm either cognitive dissonance is real or she wasn’t you. I never remembered you being ashamed of being Puerto Rican so I just kept thinking about it and remembering one time Stefano had an impostor version of my brother so I thought it was that… Plus she was so mean and rude to Abe so it just kept confirming to me that she wasn’t the real Nicole.” She remembers the fake Rafe and him killing her mother. When Gabi tells Nicole that Kristen has been mean to Abe there’s a tear from her cheek.

 

She loves Abe in the way she should have loved Paul Mendez. Her father was a maniacal bastard to them all, but Abe had always come around and check in with them especially when he beat her mother black and blue. No matter how much convincing Abe did her mother didn’t leave her father. Being a single mother to three young kids during that time was something only rich people could get away with.

 

He used to bring her favorite candies and she used to beg to God to make Abe her daddy instead of Paul. It never worked but she always found it ironic she begged and pleaded for Abe to be her father, but it was Brandon who had that luxury. She was the only one of them who could ‘pass’ with her blonde hair and blue eyes. Even though Brandon’s biological father is Abe, his skin tone is closer to her father than she is. Taylor looks like their mother but she has a deeper tone than Nicole She hates that Kristen is going around wearing her face calling people mutts… kids in school used to call them that and worse. Telling them it wasn’t possible that they could all be siblings looking so different from each other.

 

“When its safe for us to go out into Salem again before they haul her ass to jail, I’m going to give her the beatdown she deserves.”

 

“Yes… speaking of that just how are we going to go about that when Kristen is surely going to be apoplectic that we escaped.” Vivian would just love to go to the DiMera mansion and have her son take care of her, but she doesn’t know where and who the DiMera moles are and surely some are there.

 

“Well when we get back you guys are going to stay at a house no one knows about. Ben when we get there, I need you to install security cameras so you can monitor things. Their safety is your top priority now.” Gabi doesn’t need to explain herself twice to Ben. Security has become his expertise since being hired to work for Stefan. Now that Paige is back, he feels obligated to make sure nothing happens to her.

 

Gabi tells them what they simply can’t do when they get back.

 

The drive back to Gabi’s safehouse is a quiet one. Vivian Alamain talked up a storm until it tired her out and Nicole and Holly went right after. Ben looks through his rearview at Paige sleeping lying her head in Gabi’s lap. Gabi is silent and just looking out the window. He’s seen just how stony she could be especially with him, but he drives back to Salem knowing that she is slowly forgiving him for what is unforgivable.

 

 

  

Chapter Text

 Eric doesn’t remember the last time he has been so pissed. He’s been in this house all day waiting and waiting for Gabi to bring this person who needs his help. He’s been patient and her telling him that she had to make a pit stop first but she will be there soon.

 

Soon is arbitrary to Gabi it seems and he wants to leave but he thinks about someone needing help and it keeps him in place. He wonders why she asked him to come here? It’s a nice place very modern but it doesn’t look like anyone lives here. He thinks to himself maybe whoever she is bringing probably and wonders what kind of trouble has Gabi invited to her life? What kind of trouble she has invited into his life?

 

He doesn’t even know he’s in the right headspace to be doing this. Nicole just keeps breaking his heart and he wonders if she was right… Maybe Holly’s death is on him. He should have fought harder to keep her with him fulltime. He was with Nicole in that warehouse and she told him to take care of Holly. Yet Chloe always does what’s best according to Chloe. He never thought he could hate a person before but there’s two people at the top.

 

Chloe and her ridiculous attempt to think she was best suited to be Holly’s parent.

 

“It was my job! Holly was my job!” He screams into the room. The scream came from the deepest part of him. Holly was not Chloe’s to love. She lied to Nicole about Holly from the beginning and then tried to keep Nicole away from her.

 

Nicole wanted him to raise Holly and Chloe vowed to take him to court. Saying it was the best option, yet she had a cartel after her. He shouldn’t have listened at all. He should have taken her to court and explain Holly was a danger living with Chloe because of the target on her back. She’s the reason his daughter is dead. Holly died and Nicole came back a miracle and a tragedy struck him at once.

 

Now Nicole blames him but not as much as he blames himself. He can never hug Holly again… see her smiles… hear her laughs. That hurts worse than anything Nicole can say to him. Deep down her words are the same words he thinks of himself.

 

These are the times he just wants to take a drink, but he will never disgrace Holly that way. Her memory deserves more than him getting drunk. He needs to continue to help make a difference for people and his little girl’s memory is the motivation.

 

Eric hears a car and its parking in the back. He gets a text and Gabi’s telling him that she is there… he’s relieved even though its nighttime.

 

He felt a little bad when he went into Gabi’s fridge and ate some food, but she had him here all day without any explanation besides someone needing him.

 

He hears the door open and Gabi calling him. When he finally lays eyes on who Gabi is with, he thinks to himself is she serious Ben?! He killed his cousin Paige and Serena.

 

“Gabi please tell me you didn’t have me here all day just to help Ben—”

 

“Daddy!” Eric feels a cruelty go through him when he hears Holly’s voice. He feels like he’s losing his mind because Holly can’t hear anymore… she’s gone.

 

He feels his heart in his throat when he opens his eyes and sees Holly running towards him. He drops to the ground and he’s never felt a moment so perfect in his life her hugging him. His cries shake Gabi and Ben because his sobs are loud and labored.

 

“I missed you Daddy! You miss me?!” When Eric opens his eyes, he fully expects Holly to disappear but all he sees is Gabi and Ben and he still feels Holly in his arms. He feels confused but nothing can take away the enormous relief he feels.

 

“I missed you so much! So much!” He just takes a look at her because he just wants to memorize everything again.

 

“You miss mommy?” His mind races to Nicole and he has to tell her. Even if she’s been completely different, he knows she will be over the moon that Holly is somehow alive.

 

“Of course I do. I should take you to mommy…” He hates that Nicole is trying her best to rekindle a relationship with his brother.

 

“Mommy is right here…” Eric does a double take hearing Nicole’s voice and her walking into the room. Her eyes look different. They are soft and open so different than how she has been lately. How she has been with him…

 

He realizes he is still on the floor, so he wrangles Holly in his arms and Nicole walks closer and puts her hand on his face.

 

She has waited so long to just have this moment and everything she has gone through to get back to Eric is worth it now that she is here with him. Holly is here with them.

 

She remembers that they aren’t alone and she would like some private time to explain to Eric everything that’s been going on…

 

“Gabi—”

 

“Yeah, you can go upstairs and pick any room you want… I’ll make sure you all are safe here…” Gabi is happy that a family has been reunited and when she sees Eric she knows he is beyond confused but he thanks her and follows Nicole hand in hand up the stairs.

 

Nicole picks a room that they can all be alone in. She’s happy to see that Gabi has toys here that Holly can play with.

 

When she closes the door, she exhales ready to tell Eric everything.

 

“How is this possible?” The shock is settling in he is excited but still so confused about Holly being back.

 

“Holly, honey go play with those toys… mommy and daddy just want to have some grownup talk for a little while.” Holly didn’t need to be told twice… her mommy never lets her play with toys this late so she is even happier than she was seeing Eric again.

 

“How is this real?” Eric is also trying to get used to Nicole not being hostile with him. He keeps touching her like he’s afraid she will disappear.

 

“Oh Eric… I have been dreaming about this day and sometimes I would give up thinking it wouldn’t happen but it did.” It feels like déjà vu with her saying this. He knows in his heart he doesn’t care. If Nicole wants to be with him again then he’s going to jump at the chance. They have been through too much for him to care at her being cold since she came back. It’s something they can move past.

 

“I never thought this day would be here again. Holly is here and so are you… I can’t believe it.” His tears start back up again because how is this possible…

 

“Believe it Eric. I’m Nicole and we are going to have the life we deserve but it might take a while…” Her words make him pause and wonder what she means.

 

“What’s going on? Why do you say it like that?”

 

“Eric, this is my first time coming back to Salem after what happened in the warehouse…”

 

“No that can’t be. Nicole, I saw you just a couple of days ago…”

 

“No you saw Kristen! That bitch is walking around with my face Eric. She has been holding me captive and pretending to be me…”

 

“Why would she do that?!” Then the blocks start forming and he thinks to himself what has been Kristen’s obsession these past couple of years. “…Brady!”

 

“Yeah and she engineered Holly’s ‘accident’… She told me that she would get Holly, but I had to give you up because she was going to have Brady one way or the other. I had no other choice Eric, but I didn’t know that she would make you think that Holly had died. I would never do that to you…”

 

“Nicole, when it comes down to it there is no choice. Its always Holly… always…” Nicole is in awe of Eric’s words. She has never doubted Eric’s love for Holly but hearing him be emphatic about it makes her heart fill with even more love for him.

 

“Its not safe for us out there because Kristen is wearing a mask pretending to be me Eric…”

 

“So this is why Gabi told me to come here… But how did she know to save you?” He’s never been so grateful for something in his life.

 

“Well I wasn’t the only one being held by Kristen…”

 

“There’s more?!” He’s shocked but then again, its Kristen DiMera of course she would…

 

“Yeah so Gabi and Ben rescued us after Paige stole a burner phone from one of the guards and called her…” Eric shoots up off the bed when he hears Paige’s name.

 

“Oh my god?! She’s alive we need to call my Aunt Kimberly… She needs news like this right now…”

 

“What do you mean by that?”

 

“She has cancer… Theresa is taking care of her but news of Paige being alive I think would do wonders you know. She’s her granddaughter and she’s alive…”

 

“I’m so sorry about Kim… I wish we could but that would be one of the first places Kristen looks as soon as she realizes that we are all gone. We have to lay low until something can be done about Kristen…”

 

“Damn it! Damn Kristen but maybe we can do it discreetly… Maybe telling my dad and then him relaying a coded message to Shane. When its safe we can tell Eve… she’s gone off the deep end and turned into another person. Really hateful and mean…” Nicole takes in Eric’s words and she feels bad for Eve. She’s not her favorite person but she doesn’t wish the death of a child on any parent. Being away from Holly was the hardest thing she has ever done and Holly is a toddler. She doesn’t have a lifetime off memories like Eve does.

 

“That could work I think. God I missed you. I missed us putting our heads together and bouncing ideas of each other.” Nicole gives Eric a sweet kiss, she’s mindful that she can’t give Eric what she really wants because Holly is playing with her new toys looking at them ever so often.

 

“So Gabi and Ben saved you… I’m just floored you know just floored…”

 

“You and me both… I knew Gabi was coming because of Paige but yeah Ben kicked down the door and made sure we got home safely.” Nicole shrugs but she knows its complicated for Eric to take this information in. Ben strangled Paige and his mother.

 

“Never in my life have I ever thought I would have to thank Ben Weston for anything…”

 

“Yeah you can add me to the top of the list. You know what I think would be good for us…”

 

“What?” His mind starts going other places when Nicole smiles at him like that. Gabi can babysit Holly for a little while. He’s been waiting all day for her surely, she could watch Holly little while. Or they could wait for Holly to sleep and have fun in the shower.

 

“I think you should take a trip…” Nicole wants him to leave her now? She thinks she is out of her mind. He just got her and Holly back he isn’t letting them go ever again.

 

Chapter Text

“We have so much to talk about…” Gabi had been waiting all day for some time alone with Paige to tell some things.

 

Paige is a little worried about the tone of Gabi’s words but whatever it is can’t be too bad. They are back together and she doesn’t ever have to be locked up waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Gabi links her arm with Paige’s and walks them to the living room so she can have sometime alone with her to explain some things.

 

“So this world is sometimes so small even though it can seem big…”

 

“Gabi, just shoot it straight with me… there’s no need to speak in riddles. Life is a poem but not every minute…” She missed this… Paige’s sassy wit and sweet smile. You never know how much you miss something until you are confronted with it…

 

“Mi Eduardo es su Eduardo…” Paige whips her whole head at Gabi like she is crazy and this was something that Gabi had expected. Its not like they went on met on Ancestry.com or something.

 

The only way that she can make Paige understand is by taking out her phone and showing her pictures that she had with Eduardo and Paige gasps because this is her father.

 

She feels like she can’t breathe. Gabi isn’t just the sister she chose but her actual sister. They have aren’t just symbolic they are biological as well. That means that Rafe and Dario are her brothers too and Arianna is her niece.

 

She is sad to realize that she has a sister that she will never know as well. She would have liked to have met her sister Arianna. All her life she had wanted siblings and now she has them but they had been there even before they had the news.

 

She hugs her sister for the first time with this knowledge and from the moment they met she had felt such a connection that told her to pick up the phone and call Gabi. Blood doesn’t define everything, but she is happy to have this permanent link to Gabi.

 

Eduardo didn’t give her much in her life and it took her a long time to not be bitter about it. Jealous of kids at school with both her parents and siblings. It was easier when she lived with her grandparents in LA. Her mom was so busy traveling with her job and Paige was tired of changing schools and never settling down. When she settled in LA she asked her grandparents to find a way to get more involved with her culture.

 

She was proud to be their granddaughter, but she knows that she is different than the Bradys and Donovans. She had yearned for that identity because of the absence of Eduardo in her life. At first she had hated moving from Los Angeles to Salem but she made due and her mom said she wouldn’t be traveling as much for work anymore.

 

She felt a part of herself missing again and then she met Gabi. From the first meeting she felt an overwhelming urge to know her and her family. But Gabi’s family is her family. She’s not Paige Larson… she’s Paige Hernandez.

 

“I’m Paige Hernandez…” She tries the name on her tongue and it feels right. Right in a way she never knew until now.

 

“Yeah with roots from Monterrey and Linares…” Paige is so excited to hear this. Gabi has told her these are the places her paternal grandparents are from but know Paige realizes that’s where her paternal grandparents are one in the same.

 

“This is amazing… I can’t believe this… I know its true but it almost feels like a dream. I guess in a way we always just knew. From the first day I had a trust in you that I don’t give away… ever. It was like something compelled me to do it. I was led by my heart and not my mind which I like never do…”

 

“That’s definitely a Hernandez thing but you don’t want to make that a habit. When its safe again… you can work for me. I told you when I got my business off the ground that I would have a place ready for you. I have money and anywhere you want to go for medical school… I got you…” Paige knows that Gabi is serious about this. She’s happy that Gabi found the success she was looking for.

 

“For so long I had a plan for everything, but I think I want to take a break from that. I don’t know if I want to be a doctor anymore. I lost so much time… I guess I want to try new things when I get my feet planted on the ground again.”

 

“Whatever you want to do… I’ll be there to support you... always.” Paige hugs her sister again and realizes that she can have her sister’s cocktails because she’s old enough now so even a narc like Rafe couldn’t stop her. She can’t wait to see him again. She missed him so much when she was stuck in her purgatory.

 

“You know what I realized?!”

 

“What?”

 

“I can have alcohol now!” Gabi would always tell her she could make her drinks and Rafe never had to know but she just didn’t feel right doing it.

 

“That is very true. Let’s go back and I’ll make you something delicious.” They walk back and Paige knows that Vivi has been waiting for them to comeback most likely because she refuses to make her own drinks.

 

“I do cherish that you two had the family reunion you needed but Gabi dear you’re my daughter now and mama needs a drink!”

 

Gabi just rolls her eyes but she does go the bar. She thinks to herself that maybe she shouldn’t have gotten a fully stocked bar because now Vivian Alamain is probably going to drink it all.

 

“Fine what you like mère d'enfer?”   She gives Vivian a smile so sacchrine because she knows that she got her good.

 

“Hmm… Je ne savais pas que tu pouvais parler français ma bête…» Vivian realizes there’s been many times where she has underestimated Gabi especially when it comes to her cunning but its like she sees a whole new side to her. A side she would love to mold…

 

Ben is looking at the exchange back and forth. He doesn’t know a lick of French, but he thinks it’s hot as hell. Soon after he thinks it, he is grossed out because its Stefan’s wife and mother. He’s decided he’s going to do another sweep. He already ordered the cameras which should help him when he is remote but getting outside should be good for him right now.

 

He tells Gabi he is going to do a sweep and continue to do them every 15 minutes until he gets the right equipment available. To say he was impressed with the layout of Gabi’s house would be an understatement. She installed a multi-entry panic room within the house that look so seamless it makes the DiMera mansion look as dated as it is.  The panic room is a house in itself. Someone could live there for weeks if not months if they needed too. When she had this house made she clearly did it from a security standpoint and its paying dividends now with having the ladies here.

 

The the first thing he will do is install more cameras around the property since Gabi only put discreet cameras on the house itself. There’s enough shrubbery around here that people could hide without him knowing. He doesn’t like being a sitting duck.

 

As Ben combs the property Vivian decides she wants to play cards…

 

“What drink do you want to have next Vivi… I’ll have one with you…” Paige and Vivian played a lot of cards when they were being held by Kristen. It was one of the only things they had to pass the time.

 

“Hmm bartender I’ll have a Bramble and Bees Knees for the young lady…” Vivian never knew how much she could miss something as mundane as a good cocktail. Kristen DiMera… she can’t believe that foul wench had her locked up in that shit house. She is going to get her revenge on that two-bit hussy. She’s glad Kristen wasn’t able to use her as a pawn to get Stefan to relinquish DiMera.

 

“Here is a Bramble and a Bees Knees…”

 

“I know we cannot tell Stefan about my messiah status but I’d like to know what my progeny has gotten up to besides giving you my jewels…”

 

“Well Stefan’s been arrested on suspicion of the murder of Ted Laurent… I’m trying to get him out now…”

 

“What?! My son is no killer… that’s my job! Why the hell did you wait to tell me this now?!”

 

“Because the last thing I need you to do is to march down to the police station exposing yourself to Kristen. I can handle getting Stefan out especially since he is just as you said… not a killer. I think Kristen either ordered a hit or killed Ted herself as a way to show that she wasn’t playing. She had been threatening Kate and Ted and shutting Ted up was a message I’m sure that Kate need to keep telling the police Stefan kidnapped her when it was really Kristen.”

 

“Damn that little bitch! She wants my son out the way so she can have DiMera to herself!” Vivian seethes because its clear Kristen will destroy everything in her path to get what she wants. She wants the idiot son of John Black and DiMera. That company was fledgling when her son got it and of course these less worthy DiMeras want it now because its become successful. The fools run it to the ground and cry but suddenly its their brithright when DiMera is back on top.

 

Her son excels despite the fact that he’s a DiMera… the whole lot of them psychopaths or worse unquestioningly stupid.

 

“Yes and she isn’t the only one. I am fighting off her and Chad while trying to get Stefan released. I know Chad is in New York waiting in the wings trying to maneuver himself back to the CEO job. He was dumb enough to fly on a DiMera jet which alerted me that he was back in the states. I’m the reason that DiMera isn’t a heaping pile of shit. My company has become the most profitable and now these lessers want to infringe on Stefan’s job after we had been left to do the heavy lifting.” Vivian listens as Gabi speaks candidly about this situation.

 

“They could very well succeed in revoking the CEO position from you, Gabriella a DiMera by marriage means nothing when they have children available. You need to have a plan for this. My son is not losing the company to someone as crazy as Andre or as stupid as Tony…” She will not take anything less from Gabriella. She likes her better than Carly… she couldn’t take another woe is me coming into her family.

 

“Oh if they try it… I have protected myself. It would be their biggest mistake to sack me and I honestly wished they would...” Gabi drops off the drinks for them both ladies and sits down to check their emails.

 

Vivian can admire the bravado that Gabi has but she wonders if they can really rock the boat with her son in jail…

 

Paige just looks on and she is a little worried herself because she doesn’t want her sister to lose out on everything she has worked for. She sees her sister’s confidence and she knows the world should watch out when a confident Gabi Hernandez is out and about. “I believe I have won… gin rummy!” Paige thinks that Vivi has had quite the warning from their time in the safehouse.

 

“Aren’t you quite the petit loup?” Vivian cannot believe she lost a game that she has taught the girl. “Gabriella, pay the girl…”

 

“What?! You two are betting money?! You don’t have any!” Gabi just doesn’t understand why two broke ass people are betting money they don’t have.

 

“This is true but I am your belle-mère now… so cough it up toots!” Vivian is enjoying this immensely. She had been broke for so long and relied on Ivan then Stefan but now she has Gabi. But unlike getting things from Stefan she doesn’t have to listen to the endless blah blah blah… She has Paige to help her. Plus Gabi is too impatient to lecture her… she knows she would rather just do it and be done with it.

 

“Did you really think I was just going to supply this… this gambling endeavor?”

 

“Yes… yes we did.” Gabi narrows her eyes at her sister, but all Paige does is smirk and round up the cards.

 

“Fine then I want to play!” Vivian just sips on her drink as she watches this tête-à-tête with the Hernandez sisters.

 

“If we play with three people technically you can be the dealer but you can’t actually play. Its 2 or 4 and Nicole is gone so it seems you can be the dealer and the bartender…” Vivian is in an absolute tizzy when Paige winks at Gabi as she is dealing the cards.

 

“Fine! I don’t want to play the vieja game anyways! How about you two just write a ledger and tally it up so I know how much I got hustled huh!?” Gabi wants to pinch the smirk of Paige’s face but deep down she misses the back and forth. Her sister is no shrinking violet and she loves the banter.

 

“That can be arranged… Bartender I’ll have an Old Fashioned please.” If Gabi wants to call Gin Rummy and old lady game then Vivian decides she might as well have one of her favorite cocktails.

Paige giggles at Vivi’s comeback because it was really quick “Make that two Bartender!” She can’t help but join in on the fun.

 

Gabi just rolls her eyes at the both of them and goes back to the bar to make the drinks. Who would have ever thought that Vivian Alamain and her sister would be such bosom buddies?

 

Nicole, Eric and Holly come back to the kitchen and joined them at the table.

 

“Nicole would you like a drink? Gabi took a class on bartending turns out she’s good at something…”

 

“How about a virgin margarita?” Nicole is trying to be mindful of Eric. She doesn’t want to have alcohol on her breath.

 

“You can have the real thing if you want… don’t worry about me I’ll have the virgin one…” Eric loves Nicole’s thoughtfulness but he doesn’t want her to actively have to limit her life because of him.

 

“Okay Gabi seems I am having a regular margarita… You two playing Gin Rummy?” Nicole has watched endless games between the two of them.

 

Ben comes in after his sweep and Eric asks if he can speak with him alone in the next room and each of them raise their eyebrow because who knows how that will turn out.

 

Gabi hands him two virgin margaritas because she doesn’t want him drinking on the job. Ben isn’t sure how this is going to go but he just follows Eric into the living room.

 

“You know you two can play next round if you want. We can play in pairs! $50 buy in…” Paige looks over at Vivian and the older woman understands exactly what she’s doing without saying any words.

 

“Sure I’d love that…” Nicole is still trying to calm down from all of the adrenaline from today.

 

Gabi joins the table to learn the objective of Gin Rummy and be on Nicole’s team.

 

“So Gabi, I wanted to talk to you about something…”

 

“Go for it…”

 

“I think it would be best for Me, Eric and Holly to go away for a while but we would need help with getting to our destination…”

 

“You want to leave?!” Vivian can’t believe that Nicole would want to live now…

 

“Yeah do you really think it’s a good idea?” Gabi can’t help but think if Nicole plays with fire being out and about Kristen will get someone to track and follow her right back to this house which puts Paige and Vivian in danger.

 

“Eric is not leaving but if he stays in town he would have to keep up appearances like going to work… going to his apartment but if we were to take an extended trip until the Kristen thing has been dealt with then that would actually make Kristen happy if she thinks that Eric was far and out of mind.”

 

“But how are you supposed to get anywhere? Doesn’t Kristen have all of your identification?”

 

“She has my ID but that’s about it. Eric can get our passports, but we would need help getting to an airport not so close to flyout safely. Only my driver’s license says Nicole Walker. I don’t think Kristen is going to look for all of the people with the name Nicole Mendez and Holly Walker flying out.” Nicole keeps playing her hand but the cards are not coming together for her.

 

“Yeah she would probably only be looking for Nicole Walkers that fit your description. Hmm let me see… Eric will need to travel alone though. He needs to keep up appearances your right. But he needs to leave out of a nearby airport but I’ll get Ben to drive you away from here and see to it that you get to meet up with Eric. Eric needs to take a decoy flight somewhere and then get on another one. Where are you trying to go?”

 

“Puerto Rico. I have family there where we can lay low until we get word that we can come home…” Nicole is sure her grandmother would love to have her and meet Holly.

 

“Do you need me to send you with some security?”

 

“I don’t think so… Eric and I should be able to handle it. I think security might attract us attention we really don’t need…” Security can actually be a hindrance when you are going into hiding because you can stick out like a sore thumb and that’s the last thing she wants.

 

“Okay… tomorrow I’m going to get you all cells… obviously you can’t use it to call anyone but the people in this house but you don’t need to be completely cut off from the outside world. In the meantime if you feel anything suspicious get to the panic room. Ben and I will be alerted as soon its activated. Nicole you might have to stay here a week before being moved so Eric doesn’t look fishy to Kristen because she knows by now you all are gone and she’s going to be on edge and watching everything and everyone wondering if they are the ones responsible.”

 

“Yeah I figured. Thanks for helping me get out of here…”

 

“You two helped my sister stay alive so of course I’ll help you. Its really a bonus because I hate Kristen and I want her ass in cuffs…” She didn’t think that she could loathe Not-Nicole more but Kristen DiMera has to outdo everyone including herself.

 

Ben and Eric come back into the kitchen and Eric is left perplexed at the fact that his wallet is $100 dollars lighter but when Nicole tells him that the plan is going to happen, he doesn’t care about the measly hundred dollars anymore.

 

 

 

 ----------

Translations:

mère d'enfer = mother from hell

Je ne savais pas que tu pouvais parler français ma bête = I never knew you could speak French my idiot/beast/stupid

 

petit loup= little wolf

 

belle-mère= mother-in-law

 

vieja= old lady'

 

 

P.S: I thought it was fun for Robin Strasser to reunite with Camila and they got to act together again after almost 10 years! Especially after her dad on One Life end up being her dad on Days lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Eric feels like he heard wrong because he could have sworn he heard Nicole tell him that he should leave and take a trip. How could she ask this of him when he just got her and Holly again.

 

“Yeah Eric, think about it. You’re heartbroken over “Nicole” stomping on your heart and blaming you for Holly. Of course its understandable you would want to get away and clear your mind from everything that’s happened. No one would suspect that we left least of all Kristen. She will be so happy that her plan worked and you’re out of the way…” Eric hates to lie to the ones he loves but he doesn’t care if it means that means protecting his family and they get to be together.

 

“Just until Kristen is caught right? I don’t want to stay away from home forever…”

 

“Neither do I but Eric I can’t live another day without you and if we stay here for the time being… you would have to be incredibly careful.” He knows she’s right but it doesn’t make the decision any easier.

 

“Where would we even go?” If Kristen has assumed all aspects of Nicole’s life then she can’t really travel.

 

“We can go to Puerto Rico and stay with my grandma…” He thinks about it. He remembers her grandmother from just one meeting. Nicole always said the only good thing her father gave her was her grandmother. She bought her grandmother a house when she booked her first major campaign. Odds are that’s where they would be staying.

 

“But how are you going to travel with her having all of your identification?” Everytime he thinks they get closer to an answer he remembers another roadblock.

 

“Eric, you have to go the place we planned to start our lives over. My passport is in the desk. It says Nicole Mendez Walker, We’re going to book a ticket under Nicole Mendez and I don’t think Kristen will be any the wiser. We’ll book a ticket for Holly as Holly Walker. There’s bound to be hundreds of Holly Walkers. And we’ll fly out of another city maybe New York. I’m sure Gabi can get us a lift to New York.” Sometimes its scary for him to see Nicole’s mind work so fast. She’s thought of everything before he has. Its also why he loves her so much. She thinks outside the box where as he knows he gets tunnel vision sometimes. He helps keep her focused and she helps him see the bigger picture.

 

“All right, I’ll go and get your passports and then we will be together…”

 

“Let’s go tell Gabi and see if she can help us… Come on Holly time to stop with the toys.” When Holly is interrupted with her dolls by her mother, Nicole receives the most unimpressed face a child could give at that age. It makes Eric laugh and he knows that he isn’t dreaming because it’s the moments that don’t go perfect that reminds you this is reality...

 

Holly doesn’t move an inch and Nicole is telling herself this child better not try her patience after she let her play. It’s a standoff between Nicole and miniaturized version of herself.

 

“Holly can I have a hug?” Eric tries an alternative approach and Holly gets up on her feet and goes to Eric. She does have a doll in her hand but he counts it as a win because the girl got up.

 

Eric smiles at Nicole but true to form she rolls her eyes which makes him laugh and it makes him even more happy. He loves to feel her annoyance as much as her joy.

 

They go down the stairs and the living room is empty but they can hear voices in the kitchen so that’s where they venture off too.

 

Eric freezes when he sees Vivian Alamain in the flesh. Nicole remembers she didn’t warn him about Vivian being alive and she just says oops.

 

“Don’t just stand there like you’re some work of art… you’re name is Eric not David.” Eric definitely knows the moment is real when he hears the acid dripping from Vivian’s tongue.

 

“Shut up you old bat…” Eric just watches this exchange between Nicole and Vivian and he is seeing that they really have become familiar. He lets Holly down so he can hug Paige. Her smile is big and warm for him and he’s so happy that she can live again.

 

He thought she was just too young to be lost to the world especially when she had so much to give.

 

“Paige you don’t know how happy I am to see you… Let me look at you…” He takes her in. She doesn’t look all that much different but she feels a little more mature.

 

“Thank you Uncle Eric, it’s so good to see you too.”

He takes a seat and let’s her just talk about whatever she wants to talk about with him.

 

He knows what she has gone through must have been tough. The only thing that he could think of Kristen taking her was just to cause misery to their family. Paige is just an easy target for Kristen because she got to keep Kimberly Brady’s grandchild away from her. Continuing a terrible feud… Bradys vs. DiMeras and for Kristen it was probably because she knew she could.

 

He wants her ass in jail. She has done some really wretched things in her life and he knows all too well about Kristen punishing casualties because she just can. She used him to mess with his mother because she refused to approve of Kristen’s relationship with Brady. He has to think of Brady… that deranged woman orchestrated all of this to get to Brady. He just realized she engineered the whole accident with Holly just so she could blame him as ‘Nicole’ to set her sights on Brady.

 

Every time he thinks he couldn’t hate her more she finds a way to make sure he does. He agonized over what happened with Holly. He shouldn’t have listened to anyone but Nicole and everything else be damned. She would have still found another her way back to him and Holly wouldn’t have been a pawn.

 

But he is also happy that this day has come because in the end he still got his family back.

 

He just smiles as he hears Paige talk some more about what she wants to do now that she is back.

 

He watches Ben come inside and report that his patrol didn’t show any red flags.

 

“Ben could I speak to you please?” Eric’s face is stone and it leaves no argument that Ben will be speaking with him. Gabi passes him two drinks and he goes to Eric.

 

They end up in the living room out of earshot of all of the ladies. Ben passes him a drink and the only reason he trusts it was because Ben didn’t make it.

 

“For the longest time I didn’t have anything but disdain for you. You strangled Paige and my mother, you killed Serena. My mother told me that I should forgive you because of your condition is being managed but I was not in a place of forgiveness. I am not a perfect man and I never will be but after today… after what Nicole told me, my heart is able to be open to forgiveness. You helped bring my cousin back from Kristen. You helped bring my family back. I was not in a good place when Holly was taken away from me but she is back thanks to you and Gabi. Nicole, the real Nicole is back and is here with me. This is a day that I have dreamed for so long but it was always just a fantasy. But I am grateful for what you did especially knowing how dangerous Kristen and the people around her can be…” If someone told him that he would be thanking Ben Weston for anything he would call his mother so she could have them put in Bayview.

 

“Hey man, thank you. You really don’t know what it means to hear that. It doesn’t matter that I’m Schitzo, I am responsible for all the destruction I have caused. I have to live with that for the rest of my life. I would repeat this day over and over again if I had to without the intention of forgiveness. It was the right thing to do and ultimately you should thank Gabi for bringing me in on this and Paige for her ingenuity. I was just the muscle…” Ben takes a sip of his margarita and his eyes water a little because he was not expecting such a kick from a cold drink.

 

“I still thank you. You kept my family safe and that means something to me…” Eric sticks his hand out and Ben accepts the man’s thanks and shakes his hand.

 

They both head back to the kitchen and see Paige, Gabi, Vivian and Nicole playing cards and Holly petting her doll’s hair.

 

Eric goes to pick Holly out of her seat and puts her in his lap since there’s not enough chairs if he doesn’t. He sips on his virgin margarita and he wasn’t ready for the heat in it. When he looks at Gabi she just winks.

 

“I see you have felt the heat of the Monterrey sun in that drink have you?” Everyone in the room smiles at Vivian’s antics and Nicole pities him enough to get him a glass of water.

 

“Maybe Gabi can make you another Vivian to jump start that cold heart out of the ninth circle…” Vivian can’t help but be a little proud little Nicole for the bite in her words.

 

“Oh Nicole, you truly are a girl after my own heart. I believe I have Gin Rummy… pay up!” Vivian knows the best way to shut Nicole up is to beat her ass.

 

“Eric, I need your wallet…”

 

“What?!” Eric cannot believe this.

 

“I don’t have any money…” Nicole just looks at him expectantly and he thinks all that matters is she is home…

 

He passes her his wallet and is shocked when she keeps pulling out 20s.

 

“You bet 100 dollars?!” He just looks at her with his eyes narrowed and she just shrugs and of course it isn’t her money. “And what happens if Nicole had won?”

 

“Well my bartender would spot me… she’s my sugar mama too. Best part is she makes a mean Last Word…” Vivian was excitedly surprised when she asked Gabi to make her the drink and she did… “Oh Gabi could you make me a Tom Collins next? Can you believe it she’s like an encyclopedia of cocktails? Just marvelous…”

 

“Vivian, maybe space it out with some water… Eric I told them about our plan and Gabi’s going to help us…” Nicole still feels guilty when she sees the looks on Vivian and Paige’s faces. As guilty as she feels, she’s also excited because she refuses to be without Eric again.

Chapter Text

Eric didn’t get back to his apartment until the next morning. He took it upon himself when Ben and Gabi left to take up protecting the ladies until he was sure they would be okay. Nicole told him he needed to go home and at least get some things if he was going to come back because he didn’t have anything else but the clothes he was wearing.

 

He couldn’t sleep at all last night. He just watched Nicole and Holly sleep because he thought they would disappear if he closed his eyes.  He told himself if Holly was still there in the morning he would be more inclined to believe it.

 

When he gets through the door, he was not expecting Sarah to be there. He just assumed that she would be at work with Rex.

 

“Eric oh my god! I was so worried when you didn’t come home last night…” He forgot all about Sarah. She has been kind to him in his time of need and he mistook the sense of gratitude for feelings.

 

“I’m fine I was just helping someone and fell asleep at their house. Shouldn’t you be at work?”

 

“Well yes but I just wanted to make sure that you were okay... I told Rex that I would switch shifts with a colleague to make sure I saw you…”

 

“Well thank you but it wasn’t really needed. This happens from time to time, you shouldn’t stop your because of this…” He never really had to deal with this before because it was his place but Rex and Sarah have been here so long that he really lost track of it.

 

“Eric you don’t have to be so abrupt… You can talk to me… Is this really about helping someone or is it about Rex and I?”

 

“What about you and Rex?”

 

“Us staying here for so long… if it makes you more comfortable we can find somewhere else. We never meant to stay that long…”

 

“I think that would be best but there doesn’t need to be a rush because I’m leaving town for a while…”

 

“What?!” Sarah’s hands ball up because she can’t believe that Eric would leave Salem right now.

 

“I am taking some time away to think about things…”

 

“Eric you don’t have to be noble… Your mother told me and I get it… I truly get it…” Eric is getting upset because he told his mother in confidence and its going to start something because he has sorted out his feelings.

 

“And just what did my mother tell you…”

 

“Well she told me accidentally because she said that you were going to tell me so she assumed that you told me that you have feelings for me…”

 

“Sarah the reason I didn’t end up telling you is because I don’t have romantic feelings for you... You have been a great friend to me with everything that has happened in the last few months. I wasn’t in a good headspace and you have been really supportive and I conflated my feelings of gratitude with romantic feelings…”

 

“So what are you saying? Are you saying that you don’t have romantic feelings for me?” It does make Eric feel bad that it looks like Sarah might cry but he can’t have her thinking this while with his brother.

 

“No, I don’t… I do value your friendship. I’m sorry for the confusion truly this is why I didn’t tell you.”

 

“So, you don’t have feelings for me then…” Eric swears that he sees a sadness, but it should be a good thing that he doesn’t have feelings for her.

 

“No, I don’t but anyways I need to get packing…” He feels that he has wasted enough time doing this. Nicole is expecting him.

 

“You’re leaving today?!”

 

“No time like the present right. I’m sorry you worried for nothing but its nice to see that you care…” Eric doesn’t know what else to say because it is awkward having this conversation with his brother’s fiancée.

 

“Oh um okay…” Sarah is lost because she was planning on telling Eric that she feels the same as he does but she feels foolish now for switching shifts.

 

Eric puts his hands in his pockets and then proceeds to go to his room leaving Sarah in the living room wondering what just happened. When he comes back to the living room he sees Sarah on the sofa on her phone and the air is awkward.

 

“Where are you going to go?” She wants to chastise herself for the desperation in her voice. She felt a connection with Eric and its hard for her right now to deal with this even if she is with Rex.

 

“I’m going to go to Chicago for a while then decide where to go to next…”

 

“How long will you be gone?!”

 

“I don’t know yet… I really need to some distance from Salem right now. I feel like my life will be on pause if I stay.” He’s being honest here. His life is waiting for him at the safehouse and the longer he is away from his family the longer he feels like the life he wants is not being lived.

 

“Eric do you really have to do this? I know its hard to see Nicole and being reminded about… Holly but running away won’t fix anything… You’re also Rex’s best man…” He is reminded of what Kristen did and how she’s running around town with Nicole’s face messing up her life.

 

“I’m not running anywhere Sarah… I am taking the time to recharge and I don’t have to explain myself to you… I’ll be back for the wedding ” Eric is getting a little upset that Sarah is overstepping and telling him what he can and cannot do.

 

“I didn’t mean it like that. Eric I’ll support whatever decision you choose.” Sarah had never expected the conversation to end up like this. If she is honest with herself she doesn’t know what she was looking for with this conversation. She’s with Rex but her connection with Eric is unlike anything she has had before. She wonders how life would be if Nicole never came back… Would she have had a chance with Eric…

“Thank you… I’ll see you around Sarah. Good luck with everything.” He doesn’t really know what to say more than that.

 

He is quick to go to the hospital and the pub to tell his parents individually because he knows if he gave them the chance to team up they would definitely try to get him to stay. True to form his mother trying to keep him in town. His dad was a little more understanding asking him if this is something he needed. It was easy to get Roman’s support but in the end Marlena gave her reluctant support.

 

He took a Lyft to the safehouse he could already feel more alive with each step he takes. He rings the doorbell on the backdoor. Gabi got one of those doorbells with a camera and it makes Eric feel a little easier that he left Nicole.

 

“Hi Uncle Eric, welcome back…” It’s still wild to him that Paige is alive but with each passing day it gets easier.

 

“Hi Paige, it’s good to be back…” He gives her a big hug and sets out to find Nicole and Holly. His decision to not go to sleep is catching up to him because he feels dead on his feet but the feeling is worth it.

 

He goes up the stairs remembering the room he was in yesterday and he finds Nicole lounging on the bed looking as beautiful as ever watching television.

 

“Oh my god Eric you’re back. I thought you would have been here sooner. I didn’t panic or anything but Gabi hasn’t come yet with our phones so its been a little hard trying to figure this all out.” Nicole is out of sorts but it just makes Eric smile because he missed this.

 

“Its okay I just had to get some clothes and tell my folks that I was leaving for a little bit but its okay now because I’m where I need to be.” He kisses her missing the feeling but something is missing… “… where’s Holly?”

 

“Oh she’s in the panic room with Vivian… before you even ask no we didn’t have anyone sniffing around here. Vivian marches to her own beat and she’s taken a liking to the panic room... She calls it the east wing…” Nicole rolls her eyes at her Vivian’s machinations.

 

“But why is Holly with Vivian?” He doesn’t know what to think of his little girl in the casual company of someone like Vivian.

 

“Well Vivian Alamain is alarmingly good with children. Holly took a liking to her when Kristen had us locked up. So I thought great some time to you by myself but you’re late.” Nicole had been waiting hours for Eric to come and she missed him in every sense of the word.

 

“I guess we should make up for lost time shouldn’t we…” He pulls her into a kiss and she promises after they make up for lost time she will let him sleep because she knows he is tired.

 

 

While Eric and Nicole make love upstairs, Paige had enough time on the computer catching up on current events she missed she went back to the panic room because she had a feeling her Uncle Eric and Nicole didn’t want to be disturbed.

 

“Oh Holly look at who’s here?!” Vivian is walking to no place in particular but she needs her calisthenics at her age.

 

“Is my daddy here yet?”

 

“Yes but he was very tired I think he is sleeping right now…”

 

“I take naps too!” Paige just smiles at Holly being cute.

 

“That’s right a nap but later I’m sure he is going to be so happy seeing you…”

 

“Did your sister come back yet? I need to know about Stefan… it also doesn’t hurt that she knows just about any drink I could ask for…” It kept Vivian up half the night wondering about her son. Jail is more up Quinn’s alley than Stefan’s.

 

“She hasn’t come yet I’m sure she is probably still with him and maybe his lawyer trying to figure out how to get the charges dropped.”

 

“I just don’t like not knowing. Kristen DiMera ugh that witch needs to get what’s coming to her.”

 

“I know Vivi but Gabi is going to come later and have phones for us which will make it easier because you can text to her…”

 

“What’s the point in following the law when Kristen is running about?”

 

“Because you won’t be in jail like she will be. Look at us now we are in the East Wing and we couldn’t have thought this up a week ago…” Paige is doing her best to placate Vivian. Holly has long gone to play with her toys so it is Paige who needs to be the source of comfort for the old woman.

 

“No… but you know your sister should buy me a manor…”

 

“Vivian that is too much! You don’t even need all those rooms. This house is more than enough but who knows what happens when we get back to Salem… Do you want to live in the DiMera mansion?”

 

“Ha! No I want a modern house! With some delicate staples of classic European refinement of course. Even with the windows open DiMera feels dark. I love color… how else can she be reminded of the Mediterranean being in that dreary old mausoleum…”

 

 

“I’m sure we can figure it out… I think we should leave the panic room—” Vivian coughs at Paige’s words letting her now its unacceptable… “… excuse me I meant the East Wing. I’m sure Gabi and whathisface will be here soon.”

 

Paige gets Vivian and Holly to leave with her and go back and wait for Gabi. They each have something to look forward too. While Holly wants to see her dad… Vivian wants 5-star dining and Paige just wants to soak in the energy of her sister…

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Gabi had Ben take her home she was still buzzing. If someone had told her that one of her sisters was alive she would have beaten them like a drum for being so cruel to her. But it is true and that’s what kept her up all night. It was hard for her to pretend this morning while having breakfast with Rafe and Arianna. He knows something is going on with her but she just hopes that he thinks it is because of Stefan.

 

When Rafe asks her if she would like a ride to the station, she declines him because she is going to wait for Sonny to come pick Arianna up. Even though it’s her time with Arianna she had Sonny to take her to planetarium. She knows how lucky she is for Arianna to have two fathers so devoted to her.

 

Rafe tells her that he is going to see her later but hopes she doesn’t do anything stupid when she’s at the station. She just rolls her eyes because she knows how to conduct herself and keep up appearances.

 

Its not long that after Rafe leaves that Sonny comes and she’s always happy to see him.

 

“Hey is my princess ready to go?” It always brings a smile to her face when Sonny mentions Ari…

 

“Yeah she is… you know you make it difficult for me and Will. She would much rather spend all her days with you…” She’s teasing but they both know there’s a lot of truth in it. Arianna can trust that Sonny will not leave her. The only time Sonny was gone was those few months after they thought Will had died. Arianna can’t really remember those times which is a good thing.

 

“Its not my fault that I’m her favorite… If you would like to be tortured with watching Frozen 247 times to become her favorite then go for it…” Gabi hears Sonny loud and clear. She wouldn’t have minded the movie if they had watched it a couple of times but their daughter is obsessed.

 

“You definitely can have the title because there’s no way I could have ever dressed up as Olaf…”

 

“The things we do for that girl. Just wait until she finds out about our classics. Could you imagine if I had to dress up like donkey from Shrek?”

 

“I would have to be Kitty Softpaws!”

 

“You are definitely Kitty Softpaws. So you know I was not going to let this slide but color me surprised that I find out on scrabble night that my daughter has a new stepfather in Stefan DiMera… I’m shocked because I thought we would at least be invited to the nuptials.” Gabi was wondering how long she was going to get away with this but Sonny doesn’t even look surprised in the least. He had made a bet with Will the same day was talking a big game about hating the man. Now Will owes him…

 

“It was really last minute and even though we were dating our marriage was a strategic one because Nicole conjured up a dead ass Tony DiMera to play her husband so she could control the company…” Gabi wanted so bad to tell Sonny about Not-Nicole being Kristen. He is the one who can talk her down the ledge, but she has to keep mum until Kristen can be exposed. Kristen is unhinged and she could come after her family if she knew that Gabi was the one who rescued Paige, Nicole and Vivian.

 

“What?! Tony DiMera? I know I shouldn’t be saying this but because of Will but how come no one can actually stay dead in this town…” She’s glad that she could get Paige back and Stefan will be happy to know his mother is alive but she has to keep that information from him until she gets a plan together.

 

“I was flabbergasted when I saw him. I thought it was Andre ready to wreak some more havoc. No just another guy with his face. My family definitely would have been involved in my wedding if I did have more notice…” She gives her best friend a kiss on the cheek and a hug.

 

“Good… I just can’t believe I have to share the title of stepfather with someone else!”

 

“Who said that?” Gabi just keeps drinking her morning coffee like its no big deal but Sonny doesn’t feel the same.

 

“Ugh your marriage license?”

 

“You are nothing step to Ari. You’re her dad period… end of story. She has two dads and you have been the rock that she has needed through every storm…” Gabi holds his hand because she really wants to convey what she means. “…If anything happens to me and Will you are her legal guardian full stop, rights and all. So stop this dick measuring contest because you’re already her favorite parent.” She’s glad she could make Sonny laugh but she meant every word.

 

In her mind Stefan would have to do go a long way to be looked upon in the same light as Sonny when it comes to Arianna.

 

“So tell me what’s the deal with Stefan being in jail? Obviously I asked my dad and he wouldn’t tell me much. He said if I really wanted to know I should take a shot with you…”

 

“He didn’t kill Ted Laurent but instead of listening to me and staying away he went to go make Ted listen to him, but someone beat him to the punch…”

 

 She knows exactly what he’s going to say before he says it. She knows what facial expression means. “Oh Gabi why?!”

 

“I kinda slipped and fell in love with him…”

 

“God, I knew it. That day at the hospital I just knew it. The more you tried to convince me the more I knew you were bullshitting yourself…”

 

“I might as well let you just get this over with now…”

 

“I’m over it for now. What does this mean for DiMera?”

 

“I am the CEO for the moment but I know Abigail and Chadwick are in New York waiting in the wings like thieves in the night while I battle it out with Nicole…” Gabi is highly stressed by all that is going on in her life and she has no one to talk to about it because she can’t put any of her friends or family in danger with Kristen’s dangerous self out there unhinged.

 

“Hey Abby is my cousin and Chad is my best friend…”

 

“Hell no! I hope you don’t ever expect me to say a kind word about them. We can never have another baby now because of her... People tell me to forgive but how can I?! Why would anyone ever expect me too? As for Chad the same best friend who found out about Leo and didn’t give two shits so he could be the CEO of Titan? That same Chad? With best friends like those why would we ever need enemies?” Gabi pulls no punches and Sonny knows that, but it still makes him wince thinking about Chad’s betrayal and Abby’s lying. It was so difficult for him to explain to Ari why Gabi was in prison… or the fact that he was in the newspaper…

 

“You have a point but just don’t give them any room to counter you okay. If this is what you want then just do the work and they will be relegated to the wings…”

 

“I’m not so sure about that to be honest Sonny…”

 

“Why have you been doing what you need to?”

 

“Yeah I have but I am a DiMera by marriage and I think they want to give me unrealistic goals and can me when its convenient and use it as grounds to permanently remove me from the company because I’m sure that’s what Chad will want…”

 

“But Gabi Chic is their most profitable company and its your company…”

 

“I know but I know they are going to do something underhanded and I’ll be ready. I finally listened to you when it mattered. I always ask your dad to look at any contract before I sign because I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”

 

“Finally listen… more like the only time… but I’m glad because you are the reason its successful and I don’t want anyone trying to rip it away from you and try to profit off your name and likeness.” Gabi is happy that Sonny is on her side and not trying to play mediator.

 

“Fine whatever… you should get going because her show in finishing. I packed you both lunch.”

 

“Thanks mom!” Gabi smirks when Sonny calls her mom. She hears them leave through the front door

 

She knows she needs to get going because she needs to go see Stefan and then go to safehouse. She hates to keep Stefan in the dark about his mother but no one can know about them not even him.

 

I’m going to go see Stefan but we need to go to X soon. -Gabi

 

All right I will Mrs. DiMera do you want to meet up at the DiMera mansion? -Ben

 

No I’m going to send you an address to pick me up at we have to be extra careful. Don’t use a DiMera car… use the one I gave you. -Gabi

 

You’re right I’ll see you soon. -Ben

 

“Who was that?!” To say that Ciara wasn’t happy with Ben coming home so late. She was worried that Gabi had him in something that could send him back to jail.

 

“It was Gabi…”

 

“Ben, I don’t understand what’s going on… does she have you doing something illegal that you can’t tell me about?”

 

“Baby no! I wouldn’t jeopardize my freedom and being away from you for anything. What I can tell you is that I am helping Gabi keep someone safe and no it wouldn’t be considered aiding and abetting. I’m really just protecting someone in her family from someone dangerous…”

 

“Oh I get it but why can’t Rafe help them?”

 

“The people are dangerous and have high reach and even if Rafe would do things the right way they most likely have cops they pay off or can just bribe… Babe I hate to say it but so many people can get access and trust me if Gabi’s family is found they will be killed…” He thinks to himself that includes Stefan’s mother and he can’t have that on his head.

 

“Ben you’re making me more worried not less?!”

 

“Gabi has them staying somewhere really secure but I did an assessment and I am just adding more security equipment and being their bodyguard for the time being. Which reminds me could you take me to this parking garage?” Ciara thinks its weird that Ben asks for a ride but she realizes she should probably layoff because she knows Ben and if he’s being measured with his words, he’s doing it to protect her.

 

As Ciara drives Ben to the garage, Gabi is visiting her husband and she hates seeing him at the police station but its better than being in prison.

 

“How was last night?”

 

“You mean sleeping in jail… It could have been worse but I wasn’t home so not great. We need to find evidence that Nicole is setting me up…”

 

“We have to do things one step at a time but I’m working on it… I don’t think I will last long at DiMera…”

 

“Gabi its only been a couple of days I know you can handle it…” Stefan believes that his wife will do just fine because she can be shrewd and hang with the best of them…

 

“It’s not about me handling it. I got word that Chad is in New York… he got there before I was made CEO. I know that little worm is waiting in the wings and the other new Mrs. DiMera is going for the jugular. I won’t let them win but Stefan we need to protect ourselves. It’s a very real chance that they take away DiMera and fire me but it will be the biggest mistake they make…” One side of Gabi wants to stay at DiMera but the other side doesn’t believe that a board that changes CEOs as often as they breathe is a recipe for success and that’s not good for Gabi Chic.

 

“What do you mean?!” Stefan really can’t afford for Gabi to rock the boat with him in jail and his return to DiMera is murky at best at this point.

 

“I only care about protecting my family Stefan… Fuck DiMera and they want to screw us over I made sure that we get the last laugh. Baby we can go anywhere we want and do whatever we want…”

 

“Gabi, I’m a DiMera! Just stay the course please. I don’t know what I’ll do if you lose the CEO position…” She wishes that she could give her husband the good news that she knows would make him forget about DiMera, but she can’t.

 

She doesn’t tell him about her plans if she did, she knows that he would tell her to focus solely on DiMera and she really doesn’t want to get annoyed with him on top of everything she has on her plate.

“You’re more than a DiMera… I can’t stop the writing on the wall, but I can make sure we are not completely screwed. I don’t want you worrying about that now. I want you to keep your spirits high. Justin is coming soon to help you prep for the arraignment. I’m going to see what information I can go fish out…”

 

“Don’t leave yet… I don’t want to talk about the case or DiMera anymore. I just want to be with you.”

 

Her eyes soften at that and she goes over to him and hugs him which never seems long enough for either of them.

 

She gives him some sweet kisses as a way to try and calm him.

 

“I love you and really appreciate the support you’re giving me. You should hate my guts and you have more reason than just about anyone that I know.”

 

It was a hard dose of truth for him to swallow how he could treat the woman he loves more than anything the way he did. It doesn’t matter that he treated her like this before their relationship because no one deserves that.

 

“I love you too and I’m going to get you out Stefan. I promise…”

 

He knows his wife is scary when it comes to her promises. She follows through with a vengeance and it’s on his side.

 

“I know you will…”

 

They both miss the closeness and just hug. Neither knows how long they embrace but it never feels long enough for either one of them.

 

The door opens and its Justin coming in to confer with his client.

 

“Stefan, we need to go over your case.” Justin is brief but they do need to get the show on the road.

 

“Justin’s right… I am going to go see if I can work my magic. Thank you again Justin.”

 

Gabi kisses her husband one last time before she leaves telling him she will be back tomorrow. When she leaves the room she tries to find her brother or Lani.

 

She figures that Rafe must be out investigating since technically it is his case, but she does see Lani at her desk doing some typing and decides to ask Lani if there’s any updates to the case.

 

“Hey… I just had a visit with Stefan…” Gabi doesn’t want people to hear her in the busy station, so she starts to whisper. “Are there any developments in Stefan’s case?”

 

“We can’t talk here. Meet me here in ten minutes. I’m hungry anyways and I haven’t had lunch.” Gabi just nods her head and goes to the diner that Lani gave her.

 

Sure enough after ten minutes Lani is there and looks around, but the place is pretty empty.

 

“I don’t know much about the case to be honest but what I did hear was that the gunshot residue found on Stefan wasn’t consistent with him shooting Ted…”

 

“If that’s the case why hasn’t he been released yet?!”

 

“Because Gabi all it proves is that he was unlikely the trigger man, but you can still be charged with the murder if you are the accomplice of someone committing the crime. It doesn’t help that he is a DiMera… they have been known to hire muscle to do their dirty work.”

 

“But he didn’t!”

 

“That can’t be proven yet. From the timeline you told me its high unlikely, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Gabi I’m thinking from a cop standpoint… But Ted had quite a bit of people he made unhappy and so it opens the suspect pool. Rafe is getting footage of everyone who went to Ted’s room that night so that should help. Gabi is there a chance that he did this?”

 

“No he wouldn’t… if Stefan did this you’re right he most likely would have hired a hitman to do it not do it himself. He would have been planning this for weeks. He made a mistake going to talk to Ted but that’s all he went there to do.”

 

“If its true Gabi then he will most likely walk sooner rather than later. Rafe getting security footage will probably make or break Stefan. I don’t know much other than that. I only got a glimpse in Eli’s office but I can’t log in with my credentials because I could get caught and I really don’t want to get in trouble or worse it blows back on my dad.”

 

Gabi reaches for Lani’s hand and holds it. The ladies smile at each other.

 

“I don’t want you to risk your job okay? Us being friends isn’t predicated on you doing favors for me, but I do want to thank you for trying to help. I know Stefan didn’t do it and I have to believe that my brother’s impartialness will help find who really did this.” Gabi knows that it has something to do with Kristen but its not like she can just up and say that because the last thing she needs right now is for anyone to look at her funny. It wouldn’t be a far stretch for people to think she lost her mind with everything that has happened.

 

“I know but it goes a long way to hear it. I only got 45 more minutes so we really do need to eat because you don’t want me being mad at you because I didn’t have my lunch.”

 

Gabi chuckles at her friend’s remark. She feels the same way when she’s hungry. The rest of their lunch is spent with Gabi asking Lani how she is adjusting being back at work. She is appreciative to have a friend who asks her how she’s doing. She has many acquaintances in Salem but not many true friends.

 

As much as they both want to keep the lunch going Lani tells her she has to get back to work but they need to do this again soon and Gabi makes it a pinky promise.

 

Gabi decides to walk to the place she told Ben to pick her up at since it isn’t really far. It takes her maybe four minutes to get there and she sees Ben on his phone.

 

“You’re early Mrs. DiMera…” He gets kicks calling her that but he doesn’t know why…

 

“Yes I am… was anyone on the security team able to hack into the Salem Inn surveillance cameras?”

 

“Not yet, but I told them to contact me as soon as they did.”

 

“Okay… we need to go to Chicago before we go to the place. We need to get the phones and food Vivian will deem ‘edible’.” Her mother-in-law has a sophisticated and expensive palate for someone is broke as hell.

 

“I was going to say that she told me to remind you that she needs to have food that she could actually eat…”

 

“What she really means is an expensive price tag for serving size that wouldn’t even feed my daughter. While I’m looking for a restaurant with Michelin stars just start driving to Chicago. We’ll find the nearest Verizon in Chicago to go to get the phones.

 

The ride is pretty uneventful with Gabi catching up on as much as she can on work. She has less confidence with each passing day that it matters on how successful she is. She knows the board will move the goalpost farther and farther… They think they are pulling one over on her but she has something brewing for them and she’ll enjoy it all.

Chapter Text

When Ben and Gabi get to the house Gabi gives him the controller that opens a secret garage and the way he looks at her shows that he doesn’t know whether to be impressed or ask more questions. The garage door doesn’t look like a garage door but then again, he realizes that’s the whole point.

 

It goes through his mind that Gabi had this house made before she ever knew about rescuing her sister. He wouldn’t be surprised if she had fake passports and IDs at this point…

 

Gabi unlocks the backdoor via her app and they find the kitchen is empty but its not like the guests can go anywhere.

 

They can hear calm footsteps, but Ben still puts one arm in front of Gabi as the other reaches instinctually for reaches for his pistol.

 

Vivian and Paige make their way into the kitchen and both are looking at Ben like he’s crazy…

 

Vivian looks to where Ben’s hands are and her eyes narrow just the slightest even though his hand is moving away from his gun. “Aren’t you the excitable little puppy…”

 

“He wouldn’t Vivi… we all know he likes his hands up close to the action…” Ben swallows a difficult gulp at Paige’s acidic words hit him but the look she gives him is what freezes him in space. Its almost like he can see her eyes darkening in her fury. These are the times when he can see so clearly that this is Gabi’s sister.

 

Gabi doesn’t say anything but wink at her sister because she appreciates how doesn’t cower in front of Ben.

 

“Oh ho ho… That’s my girl!” Vivian places her hands-on Paige’s shoulders and gives her a little shake and her face shows a fondness for the younger Hernandez girl. “Gabriela you’re late but I will overlook the transgression because it seems you have a BOKA bag in your hand.”

 

Gabi knew that Vivian would be more amenable if she had her high-priced Michelin rated food. An easy Vivian meant one less headache in her life.

 

“Yes… I wasn’t sure what to get you, so I decided on the eight course menu which the hostess insisted was dine-in only but I know how to make things happen.” Gabi wanted to make sure the Maitre’d understood that she was not a customer to be told no and bought just about every entrée. She figured if Vivian had meals for the week she would be less on her back.

 

“Hmm that’s acceptable… I’m famished I do miss the dining experience though…”

 

Ben noticed that Vivian must have gotten some new clothes because she certainly looked poised to go out which most certainly won’t be happening if he has any say so.

 

“Vivi, I believe that a dining experience is not out of the question… I’m sure Ben would have no problem playing the role of a server… would you Ben?” Paige has had a lot of time to find herself and who she wants to be. Finding her power after everything she has been through hasn’t been an easy journey, but she is confident and no one can take that from her… if anything she will be doing the taking.

 

Ben just looks at Paige and thinks about the challenge she just laid down. He is the head of security for DiMera he shouldn’t be serving old ladies their food even if that old lady is Stefan’s mom. But he also doesn’t know how to say no to someone he killed. The worst part of it all is he knows that Paige knows that she is winning…

 

“Fine, I’ll do it just this once, but this won’t be a regular thing. I do security not moonlight as a server…”

 

He guesses that he is going to have to install the cameras later but they should be fine because the house is pretty secure.

 

The ladies go to the dining room and find their seats, but Paige doesn’t want Ben to serve her any food. She knows what she can and cannot handle and brings her food in herself. Having Ben walk behind her and to the side of her still terrifies her.

 

He understands what she isn’t verbalizing and decides that he will only serve Vivian, so he doesn’t have to stress her out. He can feel the uneasiness when he runs into Will around town and does his best to just avoid going to the places, he thinks that Will might be.

 

“I’m going to make some sides for you Vivian because the portions at this place leave much to be desired…”

 

“Gabriela it’s called refinement… I don’t want an all you can buffet with food made with no finesse.” Gabi just side eyes Vivian because the woman can pretend all she wants she knows Vivian likes what she cooks. “… but if you insist maybe you can make that arroz verde you made yesterday.”

 

She knew that Vivian would ask her to make something… she just didn’t want Vivian to ask her later and then complain that her food was getting cold while Gabi was cooking her something up.

 

“Sure Vivi, I’ll make you some. In the meantime as I start preparing that, Ben could you set up Vivian’s phone up. Paige, I doubt you need help with setting yours up just remember to make a new account. Don’t want anyone thinking that someone hacked any of your old accounts. Who knows if Kristen is monitoring it for any activity...”

 

Gabi gets everything she needs to make the rice and its not something that takes a long time to make which is great because she’s been on her feet for a while in heels. Paige brought her fuzzy moccasin slippers which feel like pillows on her feet which helped a lot but sitting will help even more.

 

Ben thought he would have time to set up some cameras outside as Gabi made food, but he realized that Vivian had eight courses. Gabi would be done with making food for all of them.

 

His server training came back to him easily, he still heard Vivian’s smart ass remarks but they didn’t have any heat behind them. Paige didn’t say anything to him but she always did watch him like a hawk anytime he came close. He couldn’t help but be close to her because she was sitting next to Vivian.

 

“Oh Gabriela what cocktail would you recommend for duck?” Vivian missed the finer things in life. She had been intermittently going through times where she couldn’t afford the lifestyle she had been accustomed too… if it hadn’t been for that nagging windbag Margaret Simmons! Victor had been hers first and she never neutered the man’s edge. The allure of someone as rich and interesting as Victor always made him her favorite husband. Color her surprised when he up and married that bargain redhead. Paige had taught her the word for someone like Maggie… basic.

 

She supposes life is how it should be though. She doesn’t have anyone to hold her down because a woman like Vivian Alamain cannot be held down by no man. She has found companionship in different forms. She has her sons and Nikki who will know of her survival when she gets her revenge on that devil Kristen DiMera like she did with Stefano. She has Paige and Holly even Nicole… who knew. She doesn’t mind Gabriela much after maybe 6 or 7 drinks.

 

She forgot how much she missed the high life but her Stefan is nothing like Quinn. Both her sons know how to make a buck but Quinn is short-sighted tries to make an easy payday but Stefan thinks outside the box and operates on a high caliber.  A high caliber which has been good to and for her.

 

“Probably a Third Rail or an Old Fashioned…” Gabi doesn’t know if Vivian expects her to make her drink as well as make this batch of rice. She likes to attend to her food to make sure it is perfect or else she just won’t serve it. She isn’t Rafe for Pete’s sake.

 

“Hmm Benny boy get me a Third Rail…” Ben has no problem with Vivian’s request but the bar is behind Paige. Its not close to her but it is still behind her.

 

Paige shoots out of her chair and takes a step back. “Vivi, I can make your drink no problem! Gabi just walk me through the steps…” Ben feels like someone has poured acid on him watching how Paige reacts. Vivian can see how difficult it is for Paige and doesn’t want to add on to it.

 

“Yes, marvelous idea Paige I would much rather have a drink made by you! The more you learn the better off I will be not having to wait for your sister to be late to make me some!” Gabi holds her tongue because she can see that Vivian is doing this for Paige.

 

“Well Vivian some of us work so their ungrateful suegra (mother-in-law) can eat eight course meals…”

 

“Pish posh… I would work if given the opportunity but you know… I’m dead…” Paige is the first one to laugh and the tension in the room disappears which delights her sister who joins in and laughs at Vivian’s self-deprecating joke.

 

Ben smiles, grateful that the awkward air has cleared for now. He realizes that everyone in the room is doing something for Vivian and it makes his smile widen further. This old lady sure knows how to get her way. He can hear Stefan in his head saying I told you so.

 

Vivian looks at him like he’s done something to affront her which he is noticing is pretty easy. She is like a hare trigger though. “Are you going to just sit there and eat your food?”

 

“Well… yes ma’am…”

 

“Did you or did you not say you would be my server for the evening?”

 

“Yes ma’am I do believe I did…” He forgot for a sec because he hasn’t eaten since early this morning after his workout but that’s long gone by now.

 

“Well finish your plate and get back to work because Maison Vivi is not closed yet…”

 

Nicole rolls her eyes as she and Eric walk hand in hand with Holly.  “Can it Maleficent… leave him be…” Even though Nicole isn’t Ben’s biggest fan he did save her from Kristen so he can eat without Vivian badgering him to be her butler.

 

Paige walks over with Vivian’s drink with a smile on her face that wars with the one on Holly’s. She likes to pretend that she’s above it but she loves the drama.

 

Vivian is affronted that she is not getting what has been agreed upon… while Gabi brings the pot of the arroz verde and places it on the table.

 

“A promise is a promise…” Ben just winks at Vivian and helps set up her next course and the older lady just looks at Nicole smug.

 

“We’re having that green rice from yesterday, it was good…” It was Eric’s first time having it but he was disappointed when he finished his plate. So many people being in the house he couldn’t have seconds.

 

“Eric say arroz verde…” Nicole wonders how he’s going to fare in Puerto Rico… Many people can speak English but it is preferred to speak Spanish.

 

“A-hose verti…” Just about the whole table laughs at his butchered words especially Holly.

“Daddy no español…” Holly’s giggle is infectious, but Eric’s smile quickly goes into a scowl when he realizes he has been dissed. He has his hands full with the girl and her mother.

 

“We’ll practice…” Nicole pats on Eric’s shoulder like he’s a child and before he analyzes it she just goes back to eating her food.

 

“You’ll need it because I made arrangements to get you guys to PR. Ben is going to take you and Holly to New York and Eric you are going to flyout from O’Hare to Miami and from there go to San Juan… Your flight arrivals are going to be within ten minutes of each other. From there I have arranged for you to get a ride service to take you to your grandmother’s house. I got some phones for you so you are not going into this blind…” Eric and Nicole listen to the plan and they can’t believe this is happening…

 

Even though Nicole is thrilled that they will finally be together she has a feeling of melancholy going over her.

 

“I won’t be able to tell Abe goodbye…” She knows its stupid for her to even attempt this because Kristen is running around Salem with her face, but she’s always seen the man before she left town even if he didn’t know she was saying goodbye to him.

 

“I’m sorry Nicole… If I told Abe he would most certainly get the police involved.” Gabi feels bad, Paige has told her about how special Abe is to Nicole.

 

“I know its too dangerous and I don’t doubt that Kristen would hurt Abe but do me a favor. Abe will figure out its not me. Ask him what he gave me when I was a child. It should help ‘me’ with everything that’s going on in ‘my’ life…”

 

“What’s the answer?” Gabi wants to know what to look for.

 

“It’s something only Abe will know, and he’ll know that there’s something wrong…” In Nicole’s mind if there’s anyone who should know that something is wrong with her its Abe. She bets his already alarmed by Kristen’s behavior but just hasn’t put on his detective hat on yet, but she knows he will.  He’ll make sure that she can come back home.

 

 

The confidence that Nicole feels starts to trickle in everyone else at the table. As this unlikely group of people break bread together so does the confidence that they will take down Kristen DiMera and she won’t have a clue that they are coming for her.

 

Chapter Text

After the dinner, Gabi cleared the table while Ben started to set up the cameras.

 

Vivian wanted to retire early to her room winding down with some tv and light reading on the Kindle that Gabi got her.

 

Nicole decided to show Eric the ‘east wing’ and brought Holly along. They decided to stay there and watch some movies there. Eric decided that he should introduce her to some animated movies that Holly has come to love while she has been gone. He figured it would be a great way to bond as a family.

 

Her anxiousness has increased a little as she has come to a decision. Paige knows she can’t live on pins and needles every time Ben comes close. He has been thrown into her life for a third time and now he’s tasked with keeping her safe.

 

He claims to be reformed and even Gabi backs him up so she has to trust in it if her sister says it’s true.

 

Ben comes back into the house giving Gabi a report on all of the cameras being live in the back and sides and he will do the front tomorrow while the sun is still up. He looks at his boss and tells her he’s going to take a shower break.

 

He sees Paige on the sofa in the living room and he doesn’t know what to do. He needs to go through the living room to get to the bathroom but he also doesn’t want to spook her. She looks almost like a statue to him. She’s looking straight ahead and the last thing he wants to do is scare her.

 

“We need to talk…” Even though she’s not looking at him she knows that he understands that she’s talking to him.

 

She gets up and goes straight to the home office and he just sighs… he follows her and before he can point out that he’s behind her, he notices she walks so swiftly she’s in the office before he can actually get close.

 

He doesn’t know whether to keep the door open or closed so he just waits to hear what she wants to do.

 

“Close the door…”

 

“Are you sure you—”

 

“Shut the fucking door Kevin…” Kevin Reynolds. He hasn’t heard that name in a while. It was weird as fuck when he arrived in Salem and he came across Paige and her mom. Even weirder when she was dating JJ when he was dating Abby. He hightailed it out of Florida as fast as he could when the illegal gambling ring bust really took off. He was dumb and hard up for cash but was trying to do things like Jordan and get an education.

 

He does as she asks and shuts the door.

 

She just looks angry but defeated “I can’t keep living like this… I just can’t!”

 

“What do you need me to do? I have to keep you safe until Kristen is busted. I can keep my distance as best as I can…”

 

“Ugh fuck!” Ben raises his eyebrows when she curses because its never something she ever did in his presence. “I know you have to keep me safe which is probably the most ironic statement I’ve heard in my life and that includes the first stint.”

 

He winces when he’s reminded of what he did with her. Its not something that he doesn’t think about because he does just about everyday but its different when you are being reminded of it from someone else.

 

“I don’t know what to say…”

 

“Of course you don’t! This is not an everyday occurring thing like finding lost keys!”

 

“So what are we going to do because you are on edge all the time... I promise you that my mental disorder is being managed by medication and therapy. Dr. Evans believes in my progress and she is unfortunately one of the people I had targeted… You can ask your sister if you want…”

 

“I don’t need to ask my fucking sister! She already told me… sit down.”

 

He listens to her and goes to sit down on the couch in the office. He can see her gripping on her switchblade but he doesn’t think she is a threat because she’s too far so he would definitely have time to react if he needs to.

 

“You know maybe when its safe again for you to go out you should see a therapist…”

 

“I’m already seeing a therapist!”

 

“What?! That’s not possible!”

 

“I’m doing it remotely idiot. And no I’m not using my name. I told my therapist another name…”

 

Ben realizes he can’t find any fault with her answers. He knows she will have a counter to anything he says. He always knew she was smart even when he met her and her mother in Florida.

 

“Has it helped?”

 

“Yes but talk therapy can only do so much. I want to try something…”

 

“What?”

 

“I want to try immersive therapy. It can be good for anxiety and fear… I don’t want you to hold any power over me…”

 

Ben had done some immersive therapy with Dr. Evans and in combination with everything else she had him doing it was pretty successful for him. But how could they do immersive therapy with no therapist?

 

“Shouldn’t we consult with your therapist first?”

“I have done a lot of research on it and I’m pretty sure that my therapist would not approve of it. She would probably think you being in the same room as me is too much but its not like anyone knows the circumstances of us being stuck with each other.”

 

As much as he wants to object she’s right. Immersive therapy is about gradual steps but they pretty much skipped a bunch of steps without having any choice.

 

“So… what happens now?”

 

“We’ll just have to do it ourselves… My biggest fear is me not being able to see you even when I know you are there. We have to practice that but it will be on some other day. I’m too full to do it now and I don’t want to throw up from making myself so nervous.” He nods at her and figures that is probably for the best. “…and if we did it now I would definitely know it was you because you smell like… outside…”

 

He tried to stop himself but he failed to contain his laugh. She had stopped him from going to take his shower.

 

   “Thank you for being polite but we both know I reek. I’m going to make myself not stink. Let me know when you want to start the immersive therapy.”

 

She only nods and he takes his leave. Now that she’s all alone she is trying to convince herself that she can do this. She holds onto her switchblade for reassurance. She’s almost afraid it might crack with how hard she holds it.

 

The urge to cry is overwhelming but the urge to fight is greater so that’s what she’ll do.

Chapter Text

Ciara has been trying her best to be patient with Ben, but Gabi has him working so often that she feels like she doesn’t really see him and when she does, he’s so exhausted.

 

It makes her miss the days when they were at the cabin and no one bothered them. Even though she had a broke leg it felt like a safe haven. It was only about them and life couldn’t get in the way there.

 

But its back to reality… back to bills needing to be paid and jobs needing to be had. She realizes she’s so up in arms about Ben being gone because she doesn’t have anything going on in her life at the moment. She kisses him off to work and waits for him to get back. She does have hobbies and she goes to see her family but she needs to find something that fulfills her.

 

In her mind she needs a job to pass the time. Her relationship with Ben has gone at lightning speed and its weird to be apart from him this much. Going from spending so much time together and now Ben telling her that he has to go out of town for work makes her feel so lost.

 

She finds herself at her grandmother’s restaurant wondering what she is going to do with her life. She knows one thing she loves her grandmother but she doesn’t think she could work for her. Her stint at the Brady pub wasn’t the best and Uncle Roman was way more than understanding. Her grandma would make her shape the fuck up and she knows her mom will definitely not step in.

 

“Ciara…” She feels like she has been transported back into the past because she swears, she hears Theo’s voice…

 

She looks over her shoulder and he is definitely behind her and she never thought she would see him after JJ shot him…

 

“Theo… oh my god are you real?!”

 

“I like to believe that I am.”

 

She missed Theo’s deadpan jokes so much. So much has happened in the last few years and all her friends are just gone. Joey is in prison… Claire is in Bayview, Tripp is in Cali and up until now Theo has been recovering in South Africa.

 

“I really can’t believe that I’m not dreaming right now. When did you get back?!” She wants to know everything. She keeps herself from crying because she doesn’t want to overwhelm Theo.

 

“I got back last night. I surprised my dad I almost felt bad because he looked like he might have a heart attack when he saw me. He rounded up my sister so quick and we had an impromptu welcome home dinner.”

 

“Oh man Theo… I can’t imagine how happy you made your dad… I know he missed you so much. I missed you so much. You really planned this good because I didn’t catch a whiff of this in any of your texts.”

 

“Maybe you just not that good anymore Brady…”

 

“Oh please Carver… its in my DNA… yours too. Sometimes I forget that both sets of our parents were cops.”

 

Ciara loved hearing stories about her mother’s life and she was thrown for a loop when she found out that she was always talking about Officer Brooks was Lexie Carver. Her mom told her that’s how Abe and Lexie met. They were partners before they became life partners.

 

Theo had been her best friend since she could remember because their mothers had been best friends with each other but her whole life she had only known Theo’s mom as Dr. Carver.

 

“Yeah pretty funny… how have you been? I feel like text doesn’t give me enough scope of how your life has been…”

 

Theo is too kind to say that he knows that she is keeping secrets from him.

 

“Well so much has happened that I don’t know where to even start. I broke my leg—”

 

“Wait what?!”

 

“It’s healed now but it was pretty gnarly when it happened. I was trying to clear my head after a bad night and I crashed…”

 

“Ciara that’s so dangerous… operating a motor vehicle while not being in the best state of mind is just I’m sorry to say this but it’s irresponsible.”

 

“Yeah I know that now and I really had to learn that the hard way but I met someone who helped me when I needed the most…”

 

“Do I know this someone?” Theo is happy that Ciara met someone even if he is disappointed she never mentioned them in any of their chats.

 

“Well yeah its Ben Weston…”

 

“You mean Ben Weston who murdered all those people Ben Weston? How could you meet him if he’s in prison?”

 

“Well uh he was released on the recommendation of Dr. Evans and he has a mental illness that contributed to him killing. It’s being managed by Dr. Evans…”

 

“And so what? I get being grateful to someone who saved you but Ciara this is something else. To be romantically involved with someone who has gone on a killing spree—”

“He’s changed and you don’t know him and you certainly don’t know him the way I know him…”

 

“I don’t need to know him because I know you.”

 

“You are stubborn and when you have made up your mind you refuse to listen to anyone else…”

 

“I will take that as a compliment—”

 

“I didn’t mean it as one and you know it. I don’t believe your mother approves this relationship.”

 

“It doesn’t matter if my mom approves or not. My grandparents didn’t want my mom to be with my dad once upon a time but they eventually came around…”

 

“Your dad didn’t go on a murder rampage before courting your mother big difference Ciara... Is Ben worth this? I’m not the best with body language but even I can tell that I struck a nerve.”

 

It’s always there in the back of her mind about how mama and her grandparents do not approve of Ben. And some place deeper she knows that daddy wouldn’t either and it scares her. She loves Ben so much but it hurts that her family can’t see what she sees.

 

“He’s changed and they will come around… they have too…”

 

“You can’t even convince yourself Ci… there’s no way your mom comes around on this and out of her and your dad she would be the one to be more understanding about something like this…”

 

She used to appreciate how honest Theo has always been but recounting the conversation she had with him a couple of days ago is haunting her. It doesn’t help that she hasn’t seeing Ben as much as she used too. His workload has increased lately and it makes her feel lonely.

 

She calls Theo hoping he’s free to hangout which in her mind he should be… it’s not like he has a job at the moment.

 

It feels good to be able to hangout with a friend again especially one connected to her old life. Sometimes she feels like she was forcefully shut out of it with how drastic her friend circle dwindled so quickly after a childhood of adventures together.

Chapter Text

Vivian had insisted on accompanying Holly and Nicole to the airport. On one hand she has come to care for her captive compatriots but on the other hand it was like kismet to be out of the house and in the most exciting metropolis that gives her anonymity. She convinced Ben the safest place they could be is with him.

 

He didn’t so much believe it but he would rather just acquiesce to Vivian so he didn’t have to hear her vicious tongue directed at him.

 

But it also meant that Paige would be in close proximity to him for an extended amount of time. The trip to New York took them about 15 hours but they stayed overnight at a hotel in Philly which added more time but ultimately made Vivian happy because Ben allowed her to eat out for dinner.

 

Paige had been relegated to finding a place suitable for Vivian and Holly. Nicole ended up taking pity on her because the most excited Vivian got the more it became clear Holly would probably not care for it. Nicole ordered room service for dinner while Ben escorted Vivian and Paige to Vetri Cucina. Ben didn’t feel 100% comfortable with leaving the hotel but Nicole promised to have her phone glued to her. Ben decided to leave only after they received their food to help soothe his paranoia. He didn’t want any chance of not protecting them with someone they had to interact with.

 

It wasn’t a far drive to Vetri Cucina which made Ben a little more at ease with the prospect of leaving Nicole at the hotel. He knows if anything were to happen to them that Eric would probably go to jail for killing him.

 

“Paige you did good with the restaurant. It looks divine!” It looks like many modern Italian places Vivian has visited upon the years. She missed being outside and even more she missed not worrying about how much money she had.

 

“Well Gabi might not be so happy once she sees the charges. This tasting menu cost $165 dollars per person.” Ben doesn’t remember at any point in his life where he had spent as much money on dinner for just one person.

 

“It’s mighty reasonable if you ask me. He’s a James Beard winner… I’ve been to places that charge more. They also did not give me a glass of Champagne as soon as I sat down. But then again you must be used to the dining of ‘Doug’s Place’” It’s like acid on her tongue to equate Doug’s Place with true fine dining.

 

“I think Gabi spent more money at BOKA than what we will be spending here so its fine. She can underwrite them as business expenses anyways so it will be a big dent in anyone’s wallet.” Paige looks Ben in the eye and she can do it for longer periods of time with the immersive therapy they have been doing.

 

Ben just shrugs because if Gabi gets on him for expenses he’ll just repeat what Paige said.

 

Their evening goes pretty well but Ben excuses himself from the table to make a call outside. He’s missing Ciara its been the first time that they have been apart not including the time Claire set the fires and blamed it on him.

 

When he just hears the phone go to voicemail he tries again and it’s the same thing. He leaves a message, but he finds it odd that Ciara didn’t pick up. He doesn’t expect her to be ready for him at a moment’s notice but she usually just texts that she can’t speak right now but he checks his messages and nothing.

 

He’s sure that she’s probably having dinner with someone in her family and can’t come to the phone. He doesn’t doubt if something did happen to Ciara that her mother would be blowing up his phone asking him what he’s done to her daughter.

 

He comes back inside and pays for the dinner and takes the ladies back to the hotel. They have an early day tomorrow and they need to get some sleep.

 

The drive from Philly to New York takes much less time and it was bittersweet. Even though Nicole is happy that she will be with Eric and they will be safe in Puerto Rico she has found a place of belonging with the most unlikely people she would have ever imagined.

 

“Don’t be gone too long… I can find a new blondie to harass…”

 

“Good luck spinster… I’m one of a kind.” She winks at Vivian and gives her a hug goodbye and Holly is a little sad to be saying goodbye as well.

 

The little girl hugs her new friends goodbye and promises are made to see each other but she is excited to see her family like her mommy promised.

 

Ben told Paige and Vivian to wait inside close to security just in case while he escorts Nicole and Holly to the gate. He stayed with them until it was time for boarding and had Nicole text him when she got on the plane.

 

He knew he was being extra cautious, but this was his job and he was nothing if not thorough when it came to this. He made Nicole promise to call him as soon as she landed and the same for Eric. It made no sense for him for them to get to 90% instead of 100%.

 

He went back and found Paige and Vivian easily. It did cross his mind of how he would react if he couldn’t find them when he came back but luckily they did what he asked.

 

“You two ready to go home?”

 

“Hmm I was thinking since I am in New York I simply must do some shopping before we go back.”

 

“Vivian we are looking at a 15 to 16 hour drive back…”

 

“Then it won’t matter if I go shopping and dine in New York. It won’t take away from the fact that we will be home tomorrow.”

 

“Ben, you are not going to win this so just start driving to 5th avenue so she get her shopping done.”

 

Paige knows that Vivian is going to have her way and she doesn’t want to stand around waiting around to watch Ben lose spectacularly at Vivian hustling him.

 

The more shopping Vivian did the happier she became. Ben is happy that Gabi bought him an SUV because it was definitely needed with how much Vivian bought. She even got Paige to get a few things even though Paige pointed out she doubts she would have any occasion to wear them too anytime soon.

 

The drive back felt thankfully faster than the drive there. Ben didn’t even bother checking them into a hotel for the night. He gave them two brief rest stops to use the bathroom and they came back home.

 

When they got back to the safehouse Ben carried a sleepy Vivian back to her room and brought all her bags to the closet in her room.

 

He sees Paige as he makes his way down the stairs. She’s just cataloguing his every move which he is starting to get used too.

 

“I want to do some more immersive therapy…” She crosses her arms when she sees his face. She wants to keep a consistent schedule and this road trip to New York was not good for her progress. She would do it over and over again to say goodbye to Nicole and Holly though.

 

“I’m exhausted I’ve driven for over 30 hours on top of making sure that you and Vivian are okay…”

 

“I’m not asking for 30 hours of immersive therapy!”

 

Why won’t she just let him be? He grunts and she takes it as a yes and goes to the office. He tells her to give him a couple of minutes and when he calls Ciara again, she still doesn’t pick up and she left him on read and he tries his best not to be annoyed.

 

They are at the furthest distance they could be from each other and he gets closer to her and she’s more keenly aware with every step he takes. There’s no uniform time of when he moves the unknowing is what helps with her progress. He’s about two feet away from her now and she starts to shake a little but its better than how she was the last couple of sessions.

 

When she feels his hand on her shoulder she shudders and he can see her visibly get more agitated. She looks like she’s choking for air and the best thing he can do is step away and let her deal with herself. She cries with no sound, wiping her tears and talking to herself. He knows its time to leave. She had explained what she wanted to do before hand so when this happened that she would be ready.

 

She finds him in the living room after she calmed herself down. Leaning against the wall keeping a comfortable distance from him was the way to go.

 

“I’m going to go you both should be good for the night. I have all the cameras installed and all the entrances secure but if you feel uncomfortable at all go straight for the panic space. Try your best to keep your phone with you and call me or your sister. I’ll be reviewing all the camera footage to make sure no one is casing the place but I’m confident you will be fine.”

 

She nods and he makes takes his leave. He drives to the parking garage Gabi makes him keep the car and takes an uber home. As soon as he closes the door he really feels the weight of the past couple of days wear on him.

 

He opens his eyes and he sees Ciara and he’s happy she’s okay but disappointed because she never responded to any of his phone calls or texts.

 

“Hey babe… man I missed you so much! I tried calling you a couple of times but I figured you might be busy with family stuff…”

 

“I missed you too Ben…” She goes to hug him and he always loves feeling her… the hug is extra tight which is exactly what he needed. “… we need to talk.”

 

He feels like he is right out of the movies with that line. He knows he’s been working really long hours lately and he is going to make it up to Ciara.

 

“Babe I know I’ve been working long hours even being away from home but it’s slowing down considerably. I put in the upgrades and its going to be smoother sailing now.” He’s excited to get back to his girl.

 

“I’m so glad to hear that Ben… I have to tell you something…” The look on Ciara’s face makes the hairs on his arms raise.

 

“This sounds serious maybe I should sit down.”

 

“I found a job well more like my grandfather is letting me work at Titan…”

 

“Babe that’s great! You scared the shit out of me no lie…”

 

“Well I went out celebrating with Theo. I don’t know if I told you he’s back in town but I kissed him Ben…”

 

He feels like he’s heard wrong because he could have sworn that he heard her say that she kissed Theo.

 

“What?!”

 

“Baby I’m sorry it was a big mistake. It didn’t mean anything—”

 

“How could it not mean anything? Ciara you told me that you used to have feelings for the guy.”

 

“Yeah I had feelings for him but that was in the past Ben…”

 

“It doesn’t seem like it because as soon as he comes back, you’re kissing him. Ciara what the fuck?”

 

“Ben it’s just you have been gone—”

 

“So you’re blaming me for you kissing someone else. I have been working Ci! And I called you so many times and you ignored me not the other way around.”

 

“It just happened…” He feels like this is déjà vu happening. The last time he was cheated on he literally lost his mind and became fixated and started killing people.

 

“I can’t do this again…”

 

“I didn’t have sex with him Ben it was just a kiss.”

 

“That you initiated right?” He combs his fingers through his hair trying to figure out what to say. “Ciara, I know I have been gone working long ass hours but I’ve tried to be present under the circumstances and you actively ignored me… now you’re telling me that you kissed someone else but it’s not a big deal… It is a big deal for me. Someone you have had feelings for before.” He tries hard not to bring Abigail into this because it’s not fair to Ciara but he can’t pretend that this doesn’t wound him extra deep because he’s been in this situation before. He doesn’t want to be like how he was before… obsessive but he had no control to stop.

 

“As soon as I realized what I was doing I stopped Ben. I love you…”

 

“But that love didn’t stop you from doing what you did. Maybe on some level you wanted to do this. Everyone in your life is against us as a couple…”

 

“Ben don’t start that I have defended you to my family countless times!”

 

“Yes you have but it doesn’t help that this is Theo. You never really resolved anything with him did you? Claire’s not standing in the way so maybe there’s a part of you that wants to explore what could be with him and kissed him. All I know is Ciara I can’t do this.” He can’t ever have his sanity in doubt and that’s his biggest fear.

 

He looks at her and it breaks his heart that she is crying. He didn’t even notice that he was crying himself but he doesn’t know where they could go from here.

 

“Ben its late…”

 

“You can stay the night here. I’m just going to grab some clothes and ask Gabi to stay at the main house or find a hotel to sleep at…” He already had his duffel bag that he brought with him from work and he just shoves some clothes and essentials in there and hightails it out of there.

 

He can hear her calling for him but he pushes one foot in front of the other and tries to drown her out because he really wants to go back running into her arms.

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

 

Justin is confident that he can get the charges dropped. He told her that the timeline established that the amount of GSR on Stefan was not consistent with him being the shooter. The trajectory of the bullet and proximity of how Ted was shot, showed that the height of the shooter was about 4 to 6 inches shorter than Stefan.

 

I have so many things on my mind right now. Nicole and Eric called me to tell me they made it to her grandmother’s house in one piece was one big worry off my list, but the demon copy is still running around town.

 

Even though the arraignment hadn’t gone our way thanks to the judge I’m confident that Justin will get Stefan out soon. Even though we have evidence on our side the Mayor is hellbent on keeping my husband in jail. We have numerous motions that we are filing on Stefan’s behalf hopefully while Justin is fighting to get Stefan out on any of those technicalities.

 

I visit my husband and I never knew I could be even more attracted to him but Stefan with a beard is sexy.

 

As soon as they bring him in I’m running to him. I missed the kisses among other things but I will settle for what I can have in the meantime.

 

“Hey… I missed you baby.” He wraps his arms around me again and I hug him back just as tight. It’s been so hard each time I have had to leave this room knowing that he’s going back to a cell.

 

I know he’s trying to be patient but I know it wears on him.

 

“I missed you too… Justin told me he is filing a slew of motions and maybe it gets the trial judge to bite…”

 

“He visited me before you came but I don’t care about that shit right now. I know I’ll be out because I got you on my side and I know you are giving people headaches. What’s going on with DiMera?”

 

“I have a meeting today with Mr. Shin and his freaking son. I know that today they are going to try and fire me Stefan. It doesn’t matter that I have weathered the storm for DiMera with everything going on and even had a two percent profit increase versus last year they are going to fire me. Chad used a company jet to go to New York and they think that they are flying under the radar, but I know everything. I have made my own arrangement and I’m burning all that shit to the ground…”

 

“Don’t burn anything its my family legacy. We can get back DiMera I know it I have a good relationship with the younger Shin—”

 

“Callate!” Stefan shuts the fuck up when I tell him too. I love that he’s trying to be optimistic under the circumstances, but my husband needs to see the writing on the wall and get ahead of it. “… They are going to put someone else in the driver’s seat but Stefan I’m going to make sure that I take the fucking engine okay. They crossed us and I’m going to show these motherfuckers what happens when they miss with the wrong ones.”

 

I can tell that he’s turned on but we are most certainly not having sex here. The last thing I want is to embarrass my brother at his work or worse get this privilege revoked.

 

“Damn you look so sexy right now… I wish I could—”

 

“Down boy there will be plenty of that when we get you out… I have some things in the works, but I want to get them to 100% before I tell you. Stefan there’s more to your legacy and birthright than DiMera.”

 

I want him to believe there’s more to him than that position. I have seen so many CEO changes at DiMera because that family is so fickle. They don’t know how to weather any storm because they refuse to. Stefan is nothing like that… he knows how to fight for the long haul and DiMera is foolish trying to get rid of the both of us.

 

“Its just you know I didn’t grow up with my father in my life. I was trying to restore his company as a way to maybe feel close to him. You know even though my mom is not alive anymore I got time with her. We became close but with my father its different I can only hear about him so DiMera Enterprises is the closest thing I can get to him…”

 

It breaks my heart to not be able to tell him that Vivian is alive and safe because of me but his loca sister is out on the loose.

 

“Baby… I know its hard even though Eduardo is alive he left when I was a baby. I had to hear stories from Rafe and Arianna about him. Dario didn’t really remember him because he was so young when Eduardo left. Even now he’s still so much of a mystery. The only good thing my dad really ever did for me is leave me amazing siblings. I know you don’t have the best relationship with yours but baby my family will be your family.”

 

I know Rafe hates Stefano but I hope he can give Stefan a chance because I’m not leaving him.

 

“I really needed to hear that. It gets lonely sometimes I can’t lie and being in jail makes it worse. Your brother has been surprising though. I know he didn’t want to be assigned the case but I feel like instead of giving the Mayor what he wants your brother is digging deep for the truth and that’s going to help us because we are going to prove I’m innocent.”

 

“You see Stefan… It’s going to workout I just need you to hold on okay. I have surprises for you when we get you out. So bookmark that in your head now…” I can’t wait to reunite him with Vivian even if the pendeja is being slick as hell with money.

 

“Oh I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m going through withdrawals being away from you…”

 

“I feel the same way…”

 

The rest of our visit is spent with Stefan just asking how everyone is doing… It’s thoughtful of him to ask about Ari and how she’s doing. I love talking about my baby girl.

 

After I left him, Lani wanted to have lunch and a little food couldn’t hurt before I have this big meeting where surely sparks will fly.

 

“So you going to tell me why you look like a woman on a mission?”

 

“What makes you think that?” Lani is learning too much about me and too fast!

 

“Because your body language is screaming even if your voice is calm.”

 

“Okay detective… I’m going to get fired today of that I am sure…”

 

“Girl you cannot tell me you are happy about that?!”

 

“Oh but I am because I expect it.”

 

“Gabi… you’re damn husband is in jail and you telling me that you are excited at the prospect of losing your job too?!”

 

“I’m excited at the prospect of showing people what happens when they fuck with me…”

 

“Now we are getting somewhere. Fuck!” I see Lani grabbing her phone and I know that look.  “… sorry I got to cut this short. I have a witness from a case at the station who remembered something. You better tell me about the aftermath you plan on inflicting because by the look on your face I can tell it’s gonna be good and you know I’m petty.” I laugh so hard when she says petty because we are cut from the same cloth. I give her a quick hug goodbye.

 

I go back to the office and I do see some people looking my way. The looks of pity on their face actually makes me giddy.

 

I make sure to have my Dictaphone with me because I record all of my meetings and the bylaws back me up.

 

When I get to the conference room I see Kate, Chad and Dollar Tree wig wife, Kristen’s nasty self disguised as Nicole and Tony. Of course Mr. Shin and his son who I must say is fine but fuck him because he is just as much of a snake as his daddy.

 

“Now that everyone is here, we can commence this meeting. What is that?”

 

“It’s my Dictaphone… I always record the minutes of meeting. Kate taught me that.”

 

Kate actually has the decency to wince because we both know that she is going to jump at the opportunity to be doing work for DiMera again but that’s okay.

 

“Oh very well. This won’t actually take long. The board has decided—”

 

“What has the board decided? I’m on the board and nothing has been discussed with me?” Stefan’s seat is my seat since he signed everything over to me. I am his proxy in every facet of his life.

 

“Well it was a special circumstance because it has to do with you. We thought it would be in the best interest of DiMera for Chad to be the CEO again. He will have Ms. Kate as his COO. He has been instrumental in DiMera international staying solvent…” The only satisfaction I get is that Kristen is highly upset. I guess all her schemes blew up in her face as well.

 

“Excuse me you are giving away my job to Chad because of what? DiMera International's companies collectively are down 14% since he took over whereas I am operating the whole company including international at a gain in profits versus last year. My implementation for better efficiency and streamlining our supply chains will make other companies besides the success that is Gabi Chic to turn profits stateside as well.”

 

“Effective immediately you are relieved of your duties of as CEO of DiMera enterprises as well as Gabi Chic.” I swear I see a smirk on Mr. Shin’s face but honey soon it will be me that has the shit-eating grin.

 

“Excuse you I am Gabi Chic…”

 

“You might be Gabi but Gabi Chic is a DiMera subsidiary. You’ll have to turn over the keys to every Gabi Chic Boutique. You’re done Gabi get over it and get out.” I can’t believe I was ever in love with this idiot.

 

“I wish I could say its been nice doing business with you Gabi but I don’t want to lie…” Shouldn’t Abby be out somewhere framing someone else for crime with her terrible renditions of other people…

 

“That would be a first—”

 

“Hey, be careful on how you speak about my wife…” They are like annoying muppets but I am having too much fun with this.

 

I love Kate and she has the decency to not look smug like everyone else in the room. Out of everyone in the room she’s the only one I’m not mad at.

 

“Fine I accept this nonsensical firing. But Gabi Chic is not a subsidiary of DiMera… it’s an associate company. So yes, I will be taking Gabi Chic with me wherever I go Chad. Also as stated in my employment contract if I am fired without just cause I will collect one tenth of whatever Gabi Chic generated last fiscal year. Seeing as my company generated 400 million dollars and DiMera of course has 30% that means 120 million went to you. So I will be expecting 12 million in my severance package Mr. Shin. My contract also allows me to buy back the 30% if our working relationship has ceased within the first five years of our partnership. My company is valued at 200 million as per your auditors just two months ago so that would set me back 60 million. That’s no problem I owe you a net 48 million. I’ll pay that no problem. One last thing I will be pulling the 50 million in funding from the last investment round that my husband put in which is my right as his proxy.”

 

“You cannot do that!”

 

“Oh but I can Chad and I did. Mr. Shin you made the biggest mistake of your business life firing me and if any of you piss me off some more I will make DiMera stock plummet even more by dumping my shares.”

 

They messed with the wrong one. I was so glad when Justin pointed these things out to me. When he structured my contracts he told me that he would do it with protecting my interests and Ari’s. As soon as I smelled trouble I asked him what were my options and he laid it out for me that I had a royal flush.

 

“Maybe we were too hasty Mrs. DiMera I’m sure we can find another resolution to your liking—” The younger Shin is trying to grasp some control of this situation but its over boo. Fuck you and your dad.

 

“You’re caving into her and her baseless posturing…” Chad doesn’t know how to quit when he’s behind.

 

I wish I could whip out my phone and take a picture of wig with her gaping mouth shocked. She was smiling with her whole bobble head but now she is speechless.

 

“Mr. Shin no I will not do business with you. You tried to steal my company and send me packing while also wanting the benefits to my success. My husband and I are literally the only reason this company is not a joke in the first place. You have installed someone who is mediocre as its CEO. The only sound decision you have done was hire Kate as the COO so Chad can’t run it completely into the ground but you made a mistake in firing Abe Carver in order to make it happen. Nicole I am shocked you didn’t say anything about that.”

 

“Why would I? People get fired everyday…” I glance from the corner of my eye and see that the comment makes Kate suspicious of Not-Nicole.

 

“That man only came to work here for you and Theo. You don’t even pay him any mind. Anyways I’ll have my counsel reach out to you soon and get all that worked out by week’s end, don’t want my company revenue to be siphoned when it doesn’t have to be you know…” I just chuckle into this room that’s dead quiet. “FYI Nicole with all big loss in operating income who knows if the Basic Black revamp even happens.”  The scowl on her face is worth it. I am glad that I could ruin Kristen’s day as much as I ruined Chad’s.

 

Especially with Kate running that and not liking the real Nicole ever and even less now because she thinks Nicole is being complicit with whoever (Kristen) is threatening her.

 

I pack up everything as Chad tries to argue that they need to sue but my contract is clear.

 

“Also Chad I hope you didn’t think of staying at the mansion... I own that house not DiMera Enterprises but I’m sure Abby’s parents could accommodate you.”

 

I take my work tote with me as I am exiting and I take a look at Kate who gives me a nod of approval. I know this isn’t going to be easy for her, but she looks proud of me for screwing over DiMera.

 

As soon as I close the door I stop recording on my Dictaphone. I sure as hell start strutting out the office. These people thought that I was the one being gamed but I made everyone in the conference room my bitch today.

 

People should learn that they should have just eaten their food and not choose to fuck with me.

 

I am going to make my cement Stefan’s legacy and crush DiMera while doing so.

 

Chapter Text

Lani had told Gabi the Penthouse Grill, she arrived before Lani and she is still feeling the wonderful high of her firing.

 

It felt as beautiful and satisfying eating the first bite of your favorite ice cream after a long time without. Nothing compares to the first bite. She really can’t stay long because she needs to go visit the safehouse and then get home to Rafe. It’s Will and Sonny’s week, so she is Ari free at the moment.

 

Ari was the first person she got in contact with after her smackdown. She just wanted to hear her child’s voice. These are the times when she remembers why she is sacrificing so much. She remembers what it was like growing up with so little money. Eduardo left them in a lurch and mami had it so hard. Trying to go back to work after being gone for so many years raising four kids on her own.

 

People trying to mock her mother and make her feel less than. She wanted to be successful the right way so she could make her mother proud and take care of her. Show her daughter that she could be someone important.

 

“Hey girl sorry I’m a little late. The traffic was weirdly busy at this time.”

 

“That’s okay I hadn’t been here that long. How was your day?”

 

“So you know how I had to run out of lunch like a bat out of hell?”

 

“Yeah I knew you were upset because you still had half your fries on your plate.”

 

“Why did you remind me?! Anyways when I get to the station my witness is this old ass I mean old lady with the coke bottle glasses talking about she saw everything out her window. I asked the woman okay so you originally said you only heard the two people arguing but you saw the accident. She nods her head and I’m like okay here we go…”

 

“Oh no tell me more!” Gabi laughs so hard she snorts.

 

“The first thing I ask the woman was if she was wearing them coke bottle glasses she had on and she told me no! She told me she really use the glasses for reading and I ask to see the glasses. She’s like of course you can dear. Gabi when I looked into those glasses I felt like I was going blind… Then the woman is like see of course I don’t need them. I just looked at my partner and she had to leave the room because she was laughing so hard. I was done but Mrs. Lockney the old lady says it was the blue car that caused the accident. I thanked her for her time and told her if we had any questions I would reach out to her. It was the biggest waste of my time!”

 

Lani makes up for lost time and starts chowing down on Gabi’s food which is exactly what Gabi thought she would do.

 

“But did the blue car cause the accident?!” She can’t help but want to know if Lani’s witness was right.

 

“Girl ain’t none of them cars even blue! One was red and the other was white.”

 

“I’m dead! She probably just needed to get out the house. I bet she wore her Sunday best too!”

 

“Yes she did! Church hat and all… The woman was sweet and earnest but the rest of my shift I was hot. In my head I was saying I wish somebody would.”

 

Lani’s story makes Gabi burst out in hysterics. Clapping her hands and laughing like the hyenas in the Lion King.

 

“You ladies seem to be having a good time.”

Abe is happy to see his daughter having a girlfriend to sit and have a laugh with. After everything his daughter has been through she deserves to have some fun and joy. He loves that they are close but he doesn’t want to be his daughter’s best friend. He wants her to have someone her age to cut a rug with.

 

“Hi dad! What are you doing here?”

 

“I had no desire to cook anything tonight so I thought let me pickup something on my way home. I had to lick my chops because I got fired today…”

 

“Dad they fired you too?! Gabi you didn’t tell me that!”

 

“Oh yeah Lani your dad got canned too but Abe I would love to get together tomorrow and talk business. I have a venture you might be interested in. I was going to text you when I got home.” She had figured that Lani knew that her dad would be terminated as well. That’s how it goes most of the time.

 

“Well you have my attention. Send me the particulars tomorrow. Now you ladies continue whatever it is that has you two laughing like little kids.”

 

They both tell Abe good night.

 

“Those bastards got rid of my father too. My god the damn nerve of them. Fuck’em all!”

 

“Oh they got fucked good… They thought they were going to game me but I turned those tables so quick Lani! I wish you were there but I have the next best thing…”

 

“Whatchu mean?!” The Miami slang is getting more frequent the longer Lani is away from work.

 

“I record everything on my Dictaphone. Put your earbuds on my Bluetooth.”

 

She does what her friend tells her and when Gabi sees that it has connected she starts to play the minutes of the meeting.

 

Lani is just looking at her with her hand over her mouth like she can’t believe what she’s hearing. It gets harder not to laugh as she hears more of the meeting transpire. When the recording finishes she just shakes her head at her friend.

 

“You mollywopped them girl. The whole lot of them damn!”

 

“Yes… yes I did!” She gets a literal round of applause from Lani who appreciates the savagery displayed in the recording.

 

It’s like they are on the same wavelength because they spot Abigail and Chad as soon as the couple walks into the restaurant.

 

Gabi had already decided she wasn’t going to say a word unless they really didn’t learn from earlier.

 

It seems like they might get out of here without having to deal with them but they underestimated the gall of Abigail.

 

“Hey Lani… how are you?” Lani knows what Abby is doing and she doesn’t find it cute at all.

 

“I’m doing well, how are you?”

 

“I’m good thanks for asking! I didn’t know you were so friendly with umm that…” Gabi is unimpressed with Abigail she had a good year and couldn’t come up with a better insult than that.

 

“If you mean Gabi then yes we are really good friends… #besties…”

 

“Well you should be careful with your bestie… she’ll stab you in the back…”

 

“Just like your best friends end up behind bars for murders you commit huh?” Both Gabi and Abby’s eyebrows raise from Lani’s comment. Gabi wants to give Lani a brava but Abby eye twitches like she can’t believe Lani just said this.

 

“Why are you even friends with her? Didn’t you sleep with two of her boyfriends? One of them being my brother. Lying to my brother making him think he was having a child but it was really my cousin’s?”

 

“Yes I did do that but that should serve as a warning to you Ms. Abigail. Don’t get on my bad side I might just fuck your man and get him to up and leave you because best believe I do have it like that. And it’s cute for you to come over to our table speaking with your whole chest about my child especially when you was fucking around with Chad while being with Ben and not knowing who was your child’s father. We didn’t send for you so you can go…” Lani thoroughly dismisses Abby like she was never even there.

 

The cop goes back to talking to Gabi like Abby is not there. Abby is floored by what she just heard and the fact like both of them pretend like she doesn’t exist. She walks back to her table no doubt complaining to Chad but neither of them particularly care.

 

Gabi told her she was so impressed with that take down. She felt it hit Abigail in her heart which no doubt made her feel so good. Gabi picked up the check and both the ladies call Ubers to take them home after the amount of drinks they had.

Chapter Text

When Gabi has Ben pick her up she was not prepared to see him looking as tired as he has. She wonders if she should send him home because she can’t afford for him to not be on.

 

“I know that look but I can work… I just haven’t been sleeping well that’s it.”

 

“We need to talk. You are being relieved of your duties as the Head of Security for DiMera…”

 

“Whoa you mean I’m fired?! I really can’t afford to lose my job right now Gabi. If you fire me that means you are taking my home and car too! I have been excellent under the circumstances.”

 

It’s been a long time since Ben has cried for something that didn’t have to do with his romantic life, but this combined with his breakup makes him feel like he might really go into a depressive state.

 

“I reluctantly have to agree that you have been good at your job. Stefan did well in hiring you, but I am fired from DiMera and Chad is the CEO…”

 

“Shit… I’m definitely fired…”

 

“Yeah you are fired from DiMera, but you don’t have to move out of the gatehouse. It’s not owned by DiMera Enterprises it’s owned by me. And I bought this car with my own money nothing tied to DiMera. It helps keep my sister safe.”

 

“I don’t get it… Do I have to start paying you rent in order to live at the gate house since obviously my employment has been terminated… Being jobless I won’t be able to keep up the maintenance cost on a car like this forever.”

 

“Stefan would not want me to leave you in the lurch. I’m offering you to be my VP of Global Security of my company…”

 

He really feels like he is going to cry because this is a whirlwind. He’s felt a low to high in less than five minutes.

 

“Hell yeah… I need a job. You aren’t the worst boss I ever had so…” He’s pretty sure she’s not running any illegal gambling rings in any of her stores.

 

“Thank you I guess for the maybe compliment. You are keeping my sister and mother-in-law safe. There’s no way I am getting rid of you unless you betray my fragile trust in you. You know too much anyways. If you do betray me, I’ll have my father come for you.” Ben remembers that her dad is an assassin and he shifts in his seat.

 

“I wouldn’t do anything to actively betray that trust. Stefan is my friend and betraying you is like betraying him… So I don’t have to move out?”

 

“Not unless you want too but free housing in Chicagoland is a dream.” Ben knows she’s right. It’s expensive as hell to live here and he has a sweetheart deal being able to save all the money he makes.

 

“Okay if you are hiring me I want a 15% increase in pay. I have gone above and beyond the scope of my job.”

 

“What was my husband paying you?”

 

“Well I just told him I’d do it for 75k and a place to live… At first I offered to pay rent at a subsidized rate, but he said he would let me live rent free…”

 

“You know my husband really is a bastard, he’s underpaying you… DiMera is a Fortune 200 company. Did you not do any research before you accepted the job?”

 

“To be honest no… he was giving me a shot and I took it…”

 

“Well I’m not going to lowball you. I will pay you 215k a year for your services. You are going to be my VP of Global Security for the company I am starting… Gabi Chic will be just one of the companies under the umbrella. You will need to be the head of hiring for key roles within that division. You will have your own umbrella of your own with more companies that we are minority or majority shareholders for.”

 

Ben looks at her crazy. He hasn’t ever heard that kind of money and him mentioned in the same sentence ever but he is going to be an executive. If Jordan could see him now…

 

“Whoa… You’re going to pay me all that money for real?! Wait can you also throw in business cards?”

 

“Yeah I can do that. I’ll have my head of HR send you a benefits package to your email. There’s only one thing I need from you.”

 

“If you need me to sign it in blood just tell me when!”

 

“That won’t be necessary. I want your complete loyalty. Never betray me… never sell secrets none of it…”

 

“I would never I promise! I think Vivian would shoot me dead if I did.”

 

“She probably would I gave her a gun.”

 

“Excuse me this whole time you’re telling me Vivian Alamain had a gun on her?”

 

“Yeah she needs to be able to protect herself and she asked me for a gun. She didn’t want a switchblade.” This whole time Vivian could have shot Ben if she wanted too. That’s all that goes through his head.

 

“I would have appreciated knowing this you know.”

 

“She wouldn’t shoot you unless she had to. She wouldn’t want to upset Stefan and worse she wouldn’t want to eat Applebee’s.”

 

This makes Ben laugh because he totally believes that Vivian would fall in line to keep her lifestyle going.

 

Gabi gets a text on her phone from her Paige and opens it up…

 

Vivian is asking for French preferably multi-courses. She believes that if I ask for it then she has a better chance of getting it. Love you -Paige

 

Of course she would think that. Tell her fine I’ll get her some food… Love you too -Gabi.

 

“We need to get Vivian French food… I’m going to order ahead so we can just pick it up and go. She has us doing endless driving which adds all this time to the trip…”

 

“I don’t mind. She’s really brutal with her insults sometimes but I know deep down she cares. If I have to literally ride into the city to get her food each day, then that’s an easy enough job then trying to keep people safe from a drug cartel.”

 

“Touché Ben…”

 

“Let’s get this show on the road…”

 

It takes Ben about 35 minutes to get into the city and Gabi is in and out of with Vivian’s food and takes a pit stop to buy a wine that would complement her food.

 

The ride to the safehouse is pretty routine at this point. Ben is always looking in every direction to check if he’s being tailed but he is comfortable in his opinion that they are safe.

 

As they approach, they don’t see either Paige or Vivian which is a good thing. Ben has been teaching them to always be skeptical of everyone that comes in.

 

“Do you have the goods?”

 

Vivian comes around from the corner and right behind her is Paige.

 

Ben just lifts his hands with the food and the wine.

 

“I didn’t ask for wine… you want something I can feel it!” Gabi did not expect Vivian to be able to sniff it out so quickly.

 

“First of all I knew you would bitch all night if I didn’t get wine to complement the French food you wanted. I thought it couldn’t get more French than having wine with your food. Second, I was fired today…”

 

“What?! Why the hell didn’t you lead with that?! Is this like a last meal type of thing?. Do not tell me I am going to be reduced to eating Carraba’s…” It makes Vivian visibly shudder to think about eating at a place that surely would send her to the toilet.

 

“Gabi is everything going to be okay with you not being at DiMera? I think what Vivian means is that will we be financially okay?”

 

Paige can see past Vivi’s veneer. She is afraid of not having money. It’s not the end of the world for her but Vivian has lived the high life and she has lived with the lows and she is not suited for the lows not at this advanced age and being so set in her ways when it comes to wanting the finer things.

 

“We’ll be fine it was their mistake. Ben could you please set Vivian’s dinner up… I’m sure she would appreciate it.”

 

“Oh yes Ben I sure would. Since my daughter-in-law is going to make us go into the poor house.”

 

Ben just keeps his head down and keeps it moving. He gets paid almost a quarter mil a year this means nothing to him.

 

“I made DiMera my bitch today and I’m happy that I am gone. I’ll let you have entertainment with your dinner.”

 

Gabi had ordered for all of them because she didn’t feel like cooking anything tonight. She wasn’t that hungry for herself because she had eaten with Lani earlier.

 

“I don’t really know how you could be so jolly about this? My son has worked so hard to make DiMera into a something again and you are cheering on your firing.”

 

As everyone sits at the table ready to eat their food Gabi takes out her Dictaphone and starts playing it. Everyone can hear the meeting that culminated in Gabi being fired.

 

Paige gasps when she hears the word fired. She knows how hard her sister has worked to make her company a reality and feels bad but there’s more she hears her sister start speaking.

 

Vivian had a sour taste in her mouth when she heard Kate’s name but when she heard her daughter-in-law saying her piece she thought to herself she has severely underestimated her daughter-in-law’s business prowess. She is cutthroat… shrewd… obviously intelligent. Vivian can’t help be reminded of her mother. Her father had a giant heart and could be taken advantaged of but her mother kept his head in the game. Her parents had gestures to communicate so her father never made bad deals. She hates to admit it but Stefan has made some missteps reminding her of her father.

 

“Yo! That shit is badass. They really tried to backtrack quick…” Ben just looks at his boss because she’s tough, but he has never seen her do her thing in the business arena. He reminds himself not to mess up this good thing.

 

“Yes Gabriela, Ben is correct even if the language was uncouth. I never thought I would be saying I was impressed with you but alas. Even your wine choice cannot be challenged.” It is hard for Vivian to give out compliments to anyone who isn’t herself because she simply doesn’t know many people worthy of them.

 

“Thank you I appreciate the kind words. They thought they were going to fuck me over and use Stefan’s money too. They really thought I was some stupid little girl who would roll over but I’m always ready. When I was visiting Stefan today, I told him I would crush them.” When she shoves the piece of lobster in her mouth it looks almost violent everyone at the table takes pause.

 

“It should go without saying that I think you pulverized them herm…” Paige is so proud of her sister taking charge and not allowing someone else to literally steal her success from her. The optics of a predominantly white company ready to try and steal a company from a woman of color would be disastrous from a PR standpoint. If this were to ever leak then DiMera would probably face some boycotts from the Latino community especially Chicanos.

 

“I am glad you got to flip the tables and that little twit Abifail was rendered mute.”

 

She doesn’t know what her son ever saw in the girl. Running around in a cheap wig how embarrassing it was for her to help her idiot son. He had a lust for the woman sitting right in front of her and settled for a literal pale imitation in a synthetic wig.

 

“It was pretty fun… but Vivian I have a proposition for you…”

 

“So I was right… you want to wine and dine me for something huh?”

 

“Oh please you literally use my sister to be your shield because you know I don’t say no to her.” Gabi tilts her head waiting for an answer and that’s what she thought. “Anyways its for Stefan okay. I told my husband that there’s more to legacy then being a DiMera. He’s also an Alamain. I want to re-incorporate Alamain International. We can keep it private so no one comes out of nowhere and tries to fire him for no reason. What do you think?” Vivian was right in a sense Gabi did throw in the wine because she wanted to see what her mother-in-law thought about this.

 

“You’re serious. I don’t like to be toyed with…”

 

“I’m serious. I’ll even put you on the board and you can have your own money. You can buy your own dinner…”

 

“I’ll take the job but I much more enjoy spending your money.” Ben shakes his head because this woman just doesn’t quit. She’s definitely Stefan’s mom.

 

“So you’re okay with this?”

Gabi isn’t trying to rock the boat but she knows relaunching Alamain will be her ultimate shots fired to Titan and DiMera. But she needs Vivian to okay it because she has the rights to the name.

 

“You have been showing me that you are more of an Alamain than I could have ever imagined… I’ll let you incorporate but I need somethings in return…” This is exciting for Vivian to re-launch her family’s company and crush DiMera for firing her son is incredibly appetizing.

 

“I’ll do my best to accommodate you but don’t always expect me to say yes and using Paige to do your dirty work is low…”

 

“I’m ruthless just like you and Paige certainly doesn’t mind. I’m refining her palate so think of it as a community service. But back to my demands. I need assurances that my other babies are taken care of too. Quinn and Nicholas need to be taken care of. I don’t need them to have jobs but they are Alamains and if I have the chance to take care of them then I always will.” She always has concerns with her son Quinn he always tries to do a new gimmick and she doesn’t want to worry about him. Nikki doesn’t need much help, but she wants to take care of him because its what he is afforded as Lawrence’s son.

 

“I don’t see why not…  Let me see what Stefan thinks when I see him tomorrow. I haven’t even told him about this yet because I wanted to ask you first.”

 

“When we can come back out into the world maybe get Nicole a job too?” When they were stuck in the hell house. Vivian got to really know Nicole and she’s a good businesswoman who can help her company.

 

“That was already on my mind. Vivian, I have big plans for the company and you obviously can tell I don’t fool around when it comes to business.”

 

“I can see that quite clearly. It seems you have killer instinct Gabriela. I enjoy that very much…” Vivian’s smiling is chilling but Gabi mirrors it. Viv enjoys that she doesn’t cower.

 

Ben just eats his food because even though he’s protecting her it doesn’t seem like Vivian really needs any help in that department.

 

“Herm, I think this is great. At least I know I’ll be interning at a successful company.” Paige remembers the promise her sister made her before she… had her incident.

 

“Intern?! How gauche… Gabriela you are not going to use your sister is free labor. I won’t allow it.”

 

“Vivi stop…”

 

“No Paige its okay. Vivian all interns are paid at companies like ours. Anyways Paige, she’s right when I told you I would make you an intern I didn’t even make Gabi Chic yet. When its okay for you to be in public we can figure out what you like, if you want it. You can go back to school if you want to as well. You know I’ll pay for it.”

 

The sisters hold hands and Paige’s wide smile makes everyone at the table smile for her.

 

Vivian just goes on about ideas of what she wants for her office and things she would like to see the company do. She likes being listened too especially when its about business. She did have some resentment for her brother because in her day it wasn’t a woman’s place to run a company. She loved her brother, but she did have envy because while he got to run Alamain… she was expected to just be a dumb socialite and mingle at parties. She loves parties but she also loves corporate meetings. She never noticed she ate all of her food because she spoke so much about her vision.

 

“I’m so ecstatic I’m going to polish my gun. Come along Paige…”

 

“Vivi don’t you think we should offer to clear our plates?” Paige knows that Vivian is not used to these things, but she does it when it’s just them.

 

“Now why would I do that when I have a gun to shine Paige?”

 

Vivian has a way of looking at people that makes them look like they are stupid.

 

“I’ll get the plates Paige, I wouldn’t want to keep Vivian from her pressing issues.”

 

“Thank you Gabriela. You see your sister knows I have priorities… Gabi would you be a dear and make me a cocktail to celebrate…”

 

“Do you want me to make you a Tom Collins?”

 

“Sounds great! Let’s go Paige.” Vivian crosses arms with Paige and they venture to her room to go polish her gun.

 

“I’m think I’m officially scared of her. The first thought she thinks after being thrilled her family company is being revived is to polish her gun…” Ben just rounds up all the plates including Gabi’s and scrapes the garnishes off the plates and loads the dishwasher and let it do its magic.

 

“Don’t piss her off then she won’t pop a cap in you its simple Ben. Let me go make this bat her drink.”

 

“I’m going to go do a perimeter sweep and then check the video footage from the last four hours…”

 

“Sounds like a plan. We’ll probably stay a couple more hours and then we can drive home.”

 

Ben remembers that he would be going to an empty home.

 

“I was thinking maybe I should move into the safehouse and use it as my base of operations. I don’t work for DiMera anymore so its not like I have an office to go to. If anything were to happen here I would be able to do something instantaneously rather than driving after the fact. Vivian texts me about four times each day asking me to do random things for her.”

 

“I honestly would love that and I wanted that to begin with but wouldn’t Ciara object to that?”

 

“Well we broke up so that won’t be a problem. I can do more thorough threat assessments if I am here. I can start looking for people remotely at first and can conduct interviews later at your offices. You did have offices right?”

 

“Sorry to hear that you guys were annoying… so clearly in love. Of course we have offices doofus. I’ll get you the things you need.”

 

“Sounds good I’ll get on that perimeter sweep. I can move in tomorrow but maybe you should warn your sister. I don’t want to overwhelm her.”

 

“I’ll only approve it if she’s okay with it…”

 

Ben nods and he thinks focusing on work could be a good distraction from the shit show that is his personal life.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Gabi got home, she felt like the day was catching up to her. She had barely seen her brother but he was thankful that she got home. He needed to leave to follow a lead on a case. Even though he didn’t tell her what the case was she had hoped that it could be pertaining to Stefan’s case.

 

As she got ready for bed she put the monitor for David next to her bed just as she was getting ready to fall asleep of course she hears his cries.

 

She gave him a quick feeding and decided to sleep on the bed in his room just in case he decided to cry again she would be right there.

 

Amazingly enough when she woke up it was morning and she checked on David and she say his tummy rising and falling so she knew the boy was still alive. Call her paranoid but she was an over-eager mother when Ari was a baby. It was her foray into motherhood and she hated reading about SIDS so she was always examining everything. She used to put a mirror close to Ari’s nose to see if she was still breathing. Some habits never leave she guesses.

 

She’s happy the first time David making noises for attention she has finished getting ready for the day. She hears the door opening downstairs and she thinks to herself did Rafe really not get back in until now?

 

“Let’s go see what papa is doing Chulito hmm…” David is an easy baby. He’s down for whatever which is great for Gabi because she feels like she is being pulled in a thousand different directions at once at the moment.

 

When she gets to the kitchen, she’s surprised to see Lani but its always good to see her.

 

“Hey little man… how are you doing?” She pokes David in his cheek and it’s the easiest way to make him laugh which makes both ladies smile.

 

“Not that I’m not happy to see you but what are you doing here?”

 

“I’m not on shift today so Rafe asked me if I could babysit. Since daydrinking is out of the question since I know you are going to see Stefan and then go to work, I thought I might as well scam a few bucks from your brother.”

 

“Girl, you’re a mess! I wish I could daydrink but you’re right I do need to get to work. I have so many requests for comment on my corporate divorce from DiMera…”

 

Gabi passes David off to Lani and starts to get her things together.

 

“If this is a divorce then I think it’s safe to say we know who the winner is… I got so many notifications on my phone because it’s set to Salem about it…”

 

“You know I like to make a splash. I got some time before visiting hours start. I can make you some enfrijoladas before I go…” Gabi had some leftover bean sauce from the night before last and it wouldn’t take her long to make the corn tortillas.

 

“Are you kidding me?! Your mom’s recipe is bomb.” Gabi knows Lani loves eating it and she appreciates that there’s people who care about David.

 

She puts on her apron and gets to work. It doesn’t really take her long to make it but she can’t stay for the end product. She does the last step of putting it in the oven for ten minutes on the timer and tells Lani enjoy and she’s out of there.

 

Justin told her he was going to pick her up today and they could ride to the station together. He’s right on time as always.

 

When she gets into the car she can feel the words oozing from Justin’s smile.

 

“I told you I could do it by myself…” Justin had been afraid that DiMera would try to pull something with making her sign something so he told her never to sign anything without him being present.

 

He spent all day in court and practically dancing when Gabi send him the recording from the meeting that took place. As far as meeting without counsel he has to hand it to Gabi that she played her cards right.

 

“I’m proud of you kid. You didn’t let anyone push you around. Your message was the highlight of my professional day. I had been in court all day long for a couple of my cases and it put a pep in my step.”

 

“Man… Justin it was exhilarating it felt like a game of whack-a-mole and I got them all. But I don’t want to stop now. I have grand ideas and I need more business advice. I know your plate is heavy and stuff—”

 

“Gabi, I’ve told you once… I’ve told you a thousand times come to me before you want to do something never after. You do know that I can juggle right?!” Gabi only gives him headaches when she does things after the fact.

 

“I know… I know I’m getting better at that though! I’ll wait to tell you because it involves Stefan to so I figure I should tell you both together.”

 

“Well I won’t have to wait for long because we’re here.” Justin chuckles to himself because Gabi is out of the car before he can finish his sentence. He can definitely say he has never seen her in love quite like this.

 

He always worries when she gets herself in these situations because the last husband she had… well he doesn’t lose sleep over Nick Fallon being dead. He was an abusive homophobe blackmailing Gabi while trying to keep his son and Will away from Ari.

 

When he gets inside the station, he sees Gabi waiting presumably for them to retrieve Stefan.

 

“You seem a little excited?”

 

He looks at her watching each of her hands clutching the other.

 

“I am a bit overzealous huh? I didn’t even have coffee this morning.” As Gabi speaks both her and Justin see Stefan coming around from the corner. The officers bring him to the visiting area with Justin and Gabi following.

 

Before the officer even shut the door Gabi was running into her husband’s arms.

 

“Hey… hey… I’m happy to see you too…” She doesn’t say anything to Stefan but he doesn’t care he buries him self in her neck and just breathes in her scent.

 

“Lovely reunion you too but we have much business to discuss…”

 

Gabi let’s go and sits at the first chair she finds.

 

“Justin, please tell me that you were able to talk her out of her whatever she was planning to do. She’s too happy so I assume that the board didn’t fire you yesterday?”

 

“Oh no she was definitely fired yesterday. It’s made headlines…” Stefan just holds his face in his hands when Justin tells him its true.

 

“Baby… how can you be so excited right now? You were fired yesterday unless this means I am going to be released…” If he is released, then he can go to the DiMera board and show them the baseless charges have been dismissed.

 

“Oh no… I made arguments in court and the judge said he would need a few days to render a ruling on my writs. As far as DiMera they are definitely worse for wear with Gabi gone. Play him the recording Gabi…”

 

Stefan just watches Gabi as she messes around with her bag and pulls out her Dictaphone. He always used to laugh when she pulled it out to record their meetings. He thought it was a little silly but it also showed him that she is focused and diligent.

 

When he hears how the meeting went, he was at first deflated when he heard those words from Mr. Shin. Gabi being fired was like him being fired all over again.

 

When he heard his wife going off on all of them he kissed the hand he held in his. He finally is starting to see what she meant when she would make them pay for getting rid of her. He is still a little sad that he it will be difficult for him to get back to DiMera after this. Gabi exited DiMera and she took their most profitable company. He knows the first order of business they would do is offer him the CEO position is to reacquire Gabi Chic and lock it down so it would be wholly owned by DiMera.

 

“Are you proud of me Stefan?” He looks at Gabi in her eyes. Her eyes are open and he knows that he could make or break her heart with his answer.

 

“Gabi, I have been in business a long time and this is one of the best executed reverse coups I have ever heard of. I’m so proud of you. You were right when you told me there’s more to me than DiMera. It didn’t matter to them how well you did not only in my absence but in general to help the company bounce back.”

 

Justin is looking between the two and whatever doubts he had about them as a couple have been thrown out the window. He can see that Stefan can and will support Gabi as much as she does him.

 

“Thank you for the kind words Stefan.”

 

“Mi amada inmóvil…” When his wife read to him the work of Amado Nervo, he couldn’t yet understand the depth of loss that Nervo felt with the death of his wife. He thought that he was gifted with his words… conveying his grief. He felt an iota of it when Gabi kicked him out of her life and her heart. It was in that moment he knew she was it for him. She kissed him on the lips and it was almost as he could feel the love from her heart touch his.

 

“Stefan this isn’t a time to make me cry with being a romantic!” She teases him… he should know better than to say words from her favorite poet. “I had an idea and I wanted to see what both of you thought. Stefan, I told you that your legacy is more than DiMera and I meant it. You are an Alamain too I thought we could re-incorporate it and run it together…”

 

Stefan just looks at his wife and wonders how long has she been sitting on this idea… he reckons its been as long as her probably feeling she would be fired by DiMera. This might be the biggest fuck you to DiMera…

 

“Gabi I honestly really love this idea, but Justin wouldn’t this be a conflict of interest for you considering?”

 

“I can see how you would think that but I am not doing anything at Titan presently and I represent Gabi and Ari’s interest and if Gabi wants to do this then I will make it happen for her. Besides there’s very little intersection of Titan’s core business and what Gabi is trying to do…” Titan is like most prominent Greek companies big emphasis on shipping.

 

“Well it seems like Alamain is coming back…”

 

“I’m excited. We already have Gabi Chic under the umbrella but I have a few companies I am thinking would be great for us as well. We can use the same facilities to streamline our supply chain that will keep our costs low. I have a designer in mind but I want to reach out to her and see her thoughts if she would like to come and work with us as a partner. I want us to be really big on diversity its important to me. It will give us an authenticity and frankly more avenues to be successful. Part of the reason Gabi Chic is successful is because its my face…”

 

“I think that’s a great idea and its big business. The explosion of companies like Fenty Beauty shows that companies that showcase diversity not just in who is being marketed but who is in power behind the scenes is a moneymaker.” Stefan nods to Justin because he’s not just a lawyer, he’s a businessman too.

 

“Who are you thinking of going after Gabi?” Gabi has to frame her answer just right because Stefan doesn’t know the Nicole he has interacted with not Nicole at all.

 

“Well she’s a Puerto Rican designer and businesswoman but she never has had her own line but she’s worked with some big brands so she has experience. I want to talk to her before we decide on anymore…”

 

“Well let me know how it goes but do you think you can hold off for a little bit. It’s a great idea to go after high caliber talent from different backgrounds but before you pitch her, I don’t want my legal predicaments be a hindrance to us so maybe when we get my charges dismissed we go after her…” Gabi doesn’t think she would need to convince Nicole much to come on board but it makes sense why Stefan would think that. It’s a very reasonable explanation that someone doesn’t want to go into business with someone being accused of murder.

 

“Yeah, I want to be able to support you here anyways. Right now we’ll just worry about your case and getting Alamain off the ground. GC can hold down the fort in the meantime. We’re already on track to match what we made all of last year by end of month.” Stefan is happy to hear that the momentum hasn’t stopped for basically the only brand that’s tied to his new company.

 

“I’ll start to file the necessary paperwork today. We are close to the finish line in regards to the criminal case. Establishing the list of enemies Ted had will bolster doubt. It also looks like that evidence Rafe is gathering shows the suspect pool widening. The judge is considering all of this right now…”

 

“See that’s good Stefan the more doubt we can throw means you’re one step closer to getting out.” Stefan wants to believe so badly in his wife’s optimism, but he won’t believe anything until he’s out.

 

“I’ll believe it when I see it…”

 

“Stefan I’m going to make it happen. I am due in court soon so I have to go. Gabi you’ll be fine right?”

 

“Yeah Justin I’ll just take an Uber or Lyft. Thank you again.” He gives her a wink and shakes Stefan’s hand… it’s just the two of them now.

 

“I missed you…” She loves the feeling she gets when he’s candid with her.

 

“I missed you too. I love you Stefan so much…” She’s doing so much for him… more than he could ever fathom.

 

“I love you too baby… You’re doing so much for me but I want to know something…”

 

“What do you want to know?” She’s a little puzzled at what means.

 

“How are you doing?” He knows his circumstance that the attention has been on him but he doesn’t want his wife to think that he doesn’t care about hearing about her.

 

She finds it thoughtful that he asks about her. She tells him about Ari losing a tooth and being on David duty. The rest of their visit is spent with her catching him up on the parts of her life that she can tell him. As much as she wants to continue, she has an appointment with Abe. Stefan tells her it’s a good idea to keep Abe on board wherever they go but the incentive of working there won’t be Nicole.

 

 

Chapter Text

Gabi is a little nervous with trying to bring Abe on board. He seemed receptive to meeting when she told him about the possibility when she was eating with Lani. She does plan on having the real Nicole join on board but that’s when it is safe and Kristen isn’t running around.

 

“You know I’m not an easy man to impress…”

 

Gabi’s startled that Abe was able to catch her by surprise, but she recovers quickly looking sharp as ever.

 

“Well Mr. Carver you should know by now I don’t take the easy route…” If Abe had a hat he would tip it to her.

 

“I do know as much. So what kind of venture do you think I could be interested in?”

 

Abe has never been a man that liked to waste his time and as he has gotten older he has become even more steadfast about it.

 

“Abe, I don’t have to tell you that I respect you and your resume. You are not someone who should ever need an interview for any job. You are an authoritative voice that people listen too… people believe in that credibility. When you were mayor, I was most impressed with your diversity program with the junior colleges and Salem U making it more accessible for low-income minority students with grants for higher education—”

 

“I didn’t even know that people about that program to be honest…”

 

“When I was in high school my guidance counselor helped me with the application process. My mom was a single mother who had been forced back into the workforce when my dad bailed. She wasn’t getting top dollar or even the bottom dollar. Rafe lives on a cop’s wages and my mother would not allow me to take money from my sister when she was alive. That program gave me a chance to experience college even if it was brief…”

 

“I never knew that Gabi, I’m glad that the program was able to help you. It was very important for me to create that program. I met countless children from my patrol days who were incredibly smart who needed to escape their circumstances.”

 

“Diversity is important to me not just from a moral standpoint but also a business standpoint as well. I know you walk the walk… you’re the real deal. And I think you are the most qualified person I have ever met. Stefan and I were talking and we have decided that we want to re-incorporate Alamain and I would love it if you were my COO.”

 

“Why would you think I would be the most qualified candidate for the job? You know I was just fired from DiMera?”

 

“And so was I! There’s a saying my friend’s mom used to tell us growing up. She said we had to work twice as hard for lower pay and hardly any advancement prospects. But guess what none of those brands did what my brand did for DiMera. It’s no coincidence that my brand highly successful but its on the dollars of black and brown women. Their buying power has been ignored for so long, but I leaned into that. Rihanna has leaned into it. And corporate business media are surprised that it has been so successful even though minorities buying things isn’t a novel concept… DiMera is failing because they are not innovative… their teams don’t offer opinions from people different to them. But Alamain will not be like that. We both know good business but also offer different perspectives which in the end will only strengthen us. Help me create something beautiful…”

 

Abe can see Gabi’s conviction and he really thinks about it. Being a high powered executive with a voice is something he has always exceled at. Creating and possibly cultivating an environment that fosters black professionals is important for him. He remembers when he started on the force he was the only minority… black or otherwise on the whole force. And it pains him that Lexie was the first black woman on the force it was the mid-80s when she joined. Even though he’s living in a new century, minorities in executive positions in any company is scarce and even more scarce for women of color.

 

“If and I mean if I were to partake in this endeavor, I would like us to set up programs to develop young minority talent. Partner with minority companies. Donating essential items to women shelters. Gabi if we are going to be about it then we need to be about it.”

 

“Abe I’m so ready, so is that a yes?”

 

“Well that depends on if you can afford me?”

 

“I’m pretty sure you’re priceless Mr. Carver but you will be well compensated and a generous benefits package to boot.” Gabi pulls out her file detailing the pay and benefits information for Abe. By the look on his face he seems to be more agreeable.

 

“It says that I would get 5% equity in the company…”.

 

“Abe, I’m not like them… the best way for us to feel like it is a partnership is if we are partners.  The only stipulation is that the equity cannot be sold to an outside entity. You can either sell it back to me, give it to your children or donate it to a charity of your choice.”

 

“You seemed to have really put the thought into this…”

 

“I don’t do anything halfway for better or worse.” This makes Abe unexpectedly laugh.

 

“Well Gabi give me a night to think about this. I’ll give you a decision tomorrow, but I have to get going now. I have to get to an engagement party for Marlena and John. It might be a little awkward though… I saw Nicole RSVP’d, she stayed at DiMera even though they fired me… it’s unlike her.”

 

 Gabi gets up and shakes Abe’s hand and hope he takes her up on the offer. One day he might actually get to work with the real Nicole.

 

“Abe, you know her better than anyone… she’s just not herself but if anyone could find the real Nicole it would be you…” Abe is thrown by the way that Gabi says it but he just nods and leaves.

 

He thought he would have enough time to go home and get ready but he decided that he would just go straight to Doug’s place.

 

As soon as he walks into Doug’s place he spots Lani and Eli. Seeing his daughter always brings a smile he can feel all the way into his heart. Its something he needs because the woman who is like a daughter to him seems so far away.

 

Lani is coming up to him ready to embrace her father. She’s excited for him after Gabi dropped some hints about a possible job the last time she saw her. “Hey dad! How did your meeting with Gabi go?”

 

“It was productive…”

 

“That’s all you’re gonna say Daddy-o?” His daughter is cute but she should know better.

 

“That’s cute but little girl I’ve been doing this longer than you been alive… Your old man is a vault. I’m surprised Gabi didn’t tell you what she was planning. You two are thick as thieves…”

 

“So its not just me that thinks so… Abe they can be so annoying I swear just giggling left and right. One time I found them giggling about mustard and then I asked them what’s so funny about mustard… both their faces turn to stone and told me I had to be there.” Its more than a little weird for Eli to have his girlfriend and his ex be such good friends but he welcomes it because Lani has been in a healthier mental space. They even have opened up to each other more about what the loss of their David meant for one another.

 

“Eli just learn to embrace it. When Lexie was alive, I swear she would have her inside jokes with Hope and Bo and I used to just sit at that table and nod…” He remembers some of the happier times of his life. What seemed like mundane double dates are things he took for granted but he misses them so damn bad now.

 

“See Eli you have it good!” He gives his daughter’s elbow a squeeze and spots Nicole and wants to talk to her.

 

She’s with Brady and she looks so antsy which makes no sense to him.

 

“Hello Nicole… Brady…”

 

Brady gives his father’s oldest friend a handshake but even Brady is struck that Nicole didn’t give Abe a hug. She’s usually happy to see him.

 

“Hello Abe…”

 

“How are you Nicole?”

 

“I’m fine! What do you want?” When Abe’s face falls it makes Brady feel bad with how Nicole could be so cold to him.

 

“I just wanted to see how you were… I was surprised that you didn’t leave DiMera after what they did to me…”

 

“Abe not everyone quits their job because of personnel decisions. You being fired had nothing to do with me…”

 

He’s just so confused that she’s acting like this and it puzzles Brady even more… Something changes in Abe, he feels the detective training is coming back to the surface…

 

“Nicole if you could answer me this one question…”

 

“What question?!”

 

“When you were a little girl, what did I give you?” Brady notices Kristen freeze at Abe’s question. It’s not something he knows about Nicole.

 

“Stupid dolls that served me no use…” Abe just nods and leaves them both. Brady notices that Nicole let out deep breath.

 

Inside Abe knows something is really wrong with Nicole. Her answer should have been automatic. And she was wrong. He had never gotten her any dolls. He feels like he should share his concerns with Marlena. It’s the last thing he wants to do on her engagement life, but Nicole could be suffering from memory loss or amnesia but that’s not his Nicole.

 

 

When Marlena and John walk into the room they were surprised that the other planned a surprise. They split up and start to make rounds thanking everyone for coming. It did make Marlena a little sad that Brady is the only one of her children that could celebrate this day with her. She understood that Eric was deeply wounded over Nicole being so cruel that he needed time away. It didn’t make her miss him any less. Sami and Belle are on different continents but what can she do.

 

It did make her a little upset that Brady brought Nicole to this party. Sometimes she wonders how Brady could be so careless towards his brother’s feelings when Eric tries to do right by Brady.

 

As she makes her round, she spots Abe who has a look of worry in his eyes and the urge to want to help never stops.

 

“Hello Abe, thank you so much for coming!” She gives him a big hug and is thankful to have had a friend like him support her and John forever. John has his best friend these are the times where she wishes her best friend Tamara was here. It’s nice that even though Tamara couldn’t be here that Lani could be. In a way her oldest friend is here with her.

 

“Of course Marlena. You know I wouldn’t miss it for the world…”

 

“That means so much to hear you know. Abe you look like you have a lot on your mind…” He just raises an eyebrow towards her trying to understand if she really wants to talk right now at her engagement party. “…Occupational hazard. Charm me…”

 

“It’s just ever since Nicole has come back to town, she really hasn’t been herself. It’s like she’s a whole other person. I feel that she maybe suffering from long-term memory loss. I asked her a question that she would answer quickly 100 times out of 100. Could she suffer that kind of memory loss from her accident? She’s just not my Nicole…” He’s really worried because he feels like it is an obligation to look after.

 

“Well its always possible for these things to happen. Its also hard to say because I didn’t examine her after her accident. It could be residual trauma that’s making her forget things. The best thing would be for her to seek therapy. Less stress on her mind can do wonders…” She herself has been suspicious of Nicole since she came back to town.

 

John heard this all and he believes his best friend is onto something… he goes back to Hope to discuss leads and he goes back to a memory of Kate saying that Kristen was coming out Nicole’s room.

 

He thinks about what Abe just said and Sarah mentioning Dr. Rolf and his creepy but highly advanced experiments.  Nicole’s cryptic words about making Brady happy.

 

“John, where’d you go?”

 

“You know how you said Kristen could be in this room?

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I know you’re right…” Hope is scanning the room even faster when John tells her that she is right…

 

Hope follows his eyeline and it rests on Nicole and she wouldn’t put it past Kristen. She is obsessed with Brady and masquerading herself as Nicole would give her easy access to Brady.

 

After John gives Marlena a kiss, he can see Kristen trying to rush t the door with Brady and he’s not letting her leave anywhere with his son. He goes right in front of her and stops her.

 

“Uh, we’re leaving…”

 

“You’re not taking my son anywhere…” She must be out her mind if she thinks John is letting her be near her son for much longer.

 

“Dad, what are you doing?”

 

“She’s behing Ted and Kate’s kidnapping and also Ted’s murder…” John knows he’s freaking out Brady, but his son needs to know the truth now.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. No, she’s not. Nicole would never do that.” Brady thinks his dad is going off the deep end for even making a claim like this.

 

“You’re right, Nicole would never. You want to do the honors or should I? John asks Hope if she wants to just claw the mask of this impostor.

 

“Mm, I don’t know. I say go for it.” Hope wants her to pay for killing Ted. Even though she was beginning to see Ted’s true colors he didn’t deserve to die.

 

Brady is even more confused with his father and Hope talking like no one else is in the room. “What are you talking about?” John marches forward and holds Kristen by the neck and starts pulling which sets Brady off “Dad what the hell are you doing?!”

 

Just about everyone in the room gasps at the same time when they see the true face underneath the wig and mask John pulled and sure enough its Kristen and Brady feels like he might throw up. The same woman who ruined his brother’s life and stole his son. Same woman who has tried to kill his mother on numerous occasions. One he stupidly fell for before he saw the lengths she would go to ruin his mother’s life.

 

When Abe sees who has been pretending to be Nicole he just turns furious. He felt it in his bones that something was wrong but then he starts to think its possible that Nicole might be alive and Kristen is holding her somewhere.

 

“Where is she?!” His voice booms through the room it even makes John stand back. Abe wants answers and he wants them now. Kristen resembles a feral cat but he has no desire to speak calmly.

 

Lani starts to get closer to her father. She doesn’t know why but its something she feels she has to do. Eli seamlessly follows her.

 

“She’s gone old man…  Dead in--”

 

“SHUT UP!” His voice so loud that it does make Kristen cease to speak “You used her! In order to get her IDs you needed information only she had. Where is Nicole?”

 

“I don’t know what to tell you she’s probably as dead as Holly…” His rage at her callousness just seems to grow.

 

“I don’t believe that… I will find where you are hiding her and I’m going to make sure you never get any semblance of freedom again. You are—”

 

“Is that really any way to speak to your sister-in-law?” Kristen tries to find her confidence in her snark but both Brady and John know she does that when she feels insecure.

 

“You are an abomination! Do you… D you  hear me… disgusting, cruel, and just all around unworthy to ever utter Lexie’s memory. You have betrayed her memory so many times! To think you have the gall to mention her now. You love nothing more than yourself. Get her out of my sight!” Kristen feels attacked because she did love Lexie.

 

Eli and Lani read Kristen her rights as they take her away.

 

“I apologize to you both for making a scene. I must go please excuse me.”

 

Abe doesn’t even know where to start but he figures the best thing he could do is start by going to the police department and filing a missing persons report for Nicole. He feels like he just failed Fay again.

 

Chapter Text

Lani encouraged her father to take Gabi up on her deal. She thought it was such a noble mission that Gabi not only wanted to make her new company about diversity but also giving her father a piece of the pie. It made her happier than she could ever show that her best friend wasn’t using her father as a pony trick. She wants the world to know that her father is worth more than they ever could afford.

 

What she didn’t expect was that Gabi would have him working as soon as he accepted her offer. He did welcome the distraction because Rafe hasn’t found anything on Nicole and Kristen keeps saying she doesn’t know where Nicole is. Lani took her father to the airport because he is supposed to be convincing some designer in Puerto Rico to join Alamain.

 

Abe had made it to his hotel just fine. He didn’t want to stay long because he figures that Gabi will need all the help she can get because technically her employees for Gabi Chic only work for Gabi Chic. He and Gabi are the only employees so far at Alamain. He didn’t mind the traveling though… it makes him excited to be working. In a way he is invigorated and he’s keen to contribute to the success of the company. He admits he was so down in the dumps when he lost the election. He felt like he was a great Mayor for Salem. But he supposed the bitter sting of defeat brought him here. He had met a few of the recipients of his diversity programs but he was surprised one of them had been Gabi.

 

He never been confronted the result of his initiatives. He had only wanted to make Lexie and Theo proud of him. Now he’s working with someone who benefited from one of his programs. Abe doesn’t realize that he smiles his whole Taxi ride. Gabi gave him the address of the designer and he finds himself nervous. He has to convince someone to join them. He’s confident in his abilities but he has a theory that the nervousness means he is excited for the challenge.

 

His driver tells him that he has arrived. The house Abe sees is unassuming enough. Gabi told him that the designer would be expecting him, so he thinks to himself here goes nothing.

 

He knocks on the door and just waits. It’s an older woman that answers the door with a smile on her face.

 

“Hola, tu eres Abraham Carver?” Abe’s Spanish is a little rusty but he still remembers some words.

 

“Si Senora—”

 

“Montalban… Buenissimo! Mi nieta está muy emocionada de verte. Entra por favor Señor Carver… (My granddaughter is very excited to see you. Come inside please Mr. Carver)” The woman speaks a little too fast for Abe but he recognizes some words and gathers that the designer is the woman’s granddaughter. Abe is struck by how excited this woman is to see him… one would think it was her getting ready for a business meeting. She is a polite hostess offering Abe a drink. He settles for limonada that Ms. Montalban says she just made.

 

He’s left alone in this woman’s living room just taking it in. He hears footsteps but it doesn’t sound like Ms. Montalban. He’s absolutely shocked to see Eric with the older woman. His confusion leaves him with so many questions as to why his godson is in this woman’s house.

 

“Senor Carver this is Eric…” Abe is struck that the woman also knows English but he realizes he never spoke to her in English so why would she offer it up…

 

“Yes… I know him!” Abe starts to wonder if Gabi sent him on a wild goose chase. It seems to be confusing Ms. Montalban as much as it confuses Abe.

 

“Abe… es mi… umm Padrino. (Abe is my godfather.)”

 

“Oh that’s nice. I guess that makes you family. You will stay for lunch no?” Abe doesn’t know how to answer this woman’s question and Eric takes it upon himself to answer yes for him. Ms. Montalban leaves them. Abe has to take a sip of the limonada which is really good, he makes a note to himself to thank Ms. Montalban.

 

“I’m sure you have a lot of questions Abe…”

 

“You’re damn right. Eric so much has happened since you left town and I don’t even know how to tell you.” Abe hadn’t expected to see Eric anytime soon.

 

“Is it Theo or Lani? My parents?”

 

“Oh no they are okay, but Eric I have some strange news… I was at your mother’s and John’s engagement party and Nicole was there, but she was so bizarre. To be honest she has been so out of character lately. I know she treated you poorly, but she did the same with me. She couldn’t remember things about herself. I asked her questions that she should know but she couldn’t answer them. I had relayed my concerns to your mother thinking that it was maybe some trauma induced memory lapses. But John was just so suspicious after overhearing my concerns. Well I don’t know how to say it but Kristen DiMera had been pretending to be Nicole ever since she came back to town. I was so upset Eric. I questioned her on where Nicole was. She said that she was dead but I refuse to believe it Eric. She needed Nicole’s IDs. I launched a missing persons report with Rafe but he hasn’t gotten back to me with anything worth writing home about. I had him inquire the DMVs and the state website. He’s getting back to me but Eric I am going to find her. She’s out there I feel it in my bones. Son I know it’s a lot to take in but in these times we need to have—”

 

“We need to have hope…” Abe can’t believe his eyes when he follows the voice, he sees Nicole running to him and sweeps him into a hug.

 

It’s been a long time since Abe has been met with a positive surprise, but he holds onto Nicole just hoping that she wouldn’t disappear before his eyes.

 

“Oh my goodness…” Abe marvels at the sight before him. Nicole is here and he has so many questions.

 

“I’m so sorry Abe. I wanted to see you before we left but I couldn’t because I didn’t want to risk Kristen hurting you or Lani. I would never leave without telling you goodbye and you lecturing me into staying.”

 

“Now I know I’m really speaking with the real Nicole…” Nicole is happy to hear Abe’s words. She knew if anyone would figure out it out it would be Abe. Even more so than Eric.

 

“How did you know she wasn’t me?” Nicole heard everything Abe told Eric. She had been listening in as soon as he walked into the house.

 

“Well besides her very uncharacteristic and bizarre portrayals of you… which she won’t be winning any Emmys for… she couldn’t answer something that’s very automatic for you. I asked her what did I give you when you were a little girl?”

 

“Hope… and in hindsight Brandon…” Nicole had a way of ripping laughs from him out of nowhere.

 

“That’s my girl. She said dolls…”

“As freaking if! I knew if anyone would get it that it would be you Abe.” This makes both Eric and Abe laugh.

 

“I admit I tried to explain away your behavior because of—” Abe remembers and looks to Eric and wonders if Nicole has been told about Holly.

 

“Because of what Abe?”

 

“Nicole, I don’t know how to tell you this or if Eric has but it’s about Holly…”

 

“Oh Abe! No Holly’s alive she’s here with us she’s just taking a nap. Eric told me what Kristen did. She told me that she would get Holly and give her to me if I let her pretend to be me. I didn’t know she engineered a car crash I promise. She kidnapped me and held me for months Abe…” Nicole wants to tell everything to Abe about Kristen but it starts to make her upset all over again.

 

“You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that Nicole… I agonized over Holly and that’s why I tried to make excuses for Kristen when she was disguising herself as you.”

 

“It’s okay Abe. I hate her for making me choose… I just want to come home…”

 

“You can… She’s in jail and I will make sure Rafe throws the book at her now that I know she held you captive but how did you escape? Eric you said that you needed to get away to clear your head…”

 

“Well about that Abe… I just needed to be with my family and we had to make sure Nicole couldn’t be found by Kristen or have the incentive to hurt you or Lani. We knew she wouldn’t hurt Theo but we felt that only Theo might be protected from retaliation.”

 

“Well when you put it like that it starts to make perfect sense but what I am puzzled about is how you escaped?”

 

“So it’s a long story…”

 

“Oh I got the time missy. You had better tell me everything.”

 

“So I wasn’t being held alone. Kristen was holding Paige Hernandez and Vivian Alamain. Paige had stolen this burner phone one of the guards Kristen had watching us and had been leaving clues for Gabi. At first, I told her that she should call Rafe but she told me that she knows her brother. He would be by the book and have SWAT coming there and Kristen would see it a mile away and move us. So she kept calling Gabi leaving breadcrumbs for Gabi to figure it out. Well Gabi figured it out. She and Ben Weston rescued us and put us in a safehouse. She sent Eric there and he was waiting for us when we got there.”

 

“Imagine my surprise when I see 3 people I love back from the dead… and Vivian Alamain…”

 

“I would have had a heart attack. This is exciting Paige is alive too. Kimberly and Shane will be pleased. Eve too I guess but I’m not too thrilled with her at the moment. But this would really lift Kimberly’s spirit to know her granddaughter is alive.”

 

“We didn’t tell her yet. I had my dad tell Shane a message. Paige said he would understand what it meant. They have some kind of code they speak in I guess for these kinds of circumstances.”

 

“Well it makes sense Shane would with all his years at the ISA.”

 

“I can’t believe you were saved by Gabi and Ben. This is so unexpected…” Abe is just digesting so much information and his mind just processes and he feels like he’s a detective again. “…my goodness, you are the Puerto Rican designer she was talking about…” The pieces are starting to fall in place for him now. Nicole just smiles and shrugs at Abe putting two and two together.

 

“Yeah I asked Gabi when it was safe again that I could see you. So we’ve just been here with my grandmother where I know Kristen wouldn’t find us. It’s been hard for my grandmother not to say anything to Taylor and Brandon, but she understood the severity of the situation. It hurt me to let you continue to think I was gone. You were the first person I wanted to see to let you know I was okay Abe.” She reaches out to hold Abe’s hand. Everything in her world feel’s right again. The two of three men she loved most in her life are in the same room and they both know she’s okay.

 

“Oh so that’s the Sonia that Brandon always talks about! My heart is a little fuller today you know. Brandon, Taylor and Theo are going to be so thrilled to know you are okay. So are you really interested in joining us in a venture?” He knows Gabi is charging this as a business expense as excited as he is to know that Nicole is alive he can’t be party to tax fraud.

 

“Well of course. I even had some ideas Abe. I want something for me. I have worked for other brands, but I want to build something for Holly…”

 

“I’m proud of you kid…” It makes both Eric and Nicole smile at Abe’s words.

 

“Thanks Abe… My grandmother was making lunch before you came. Holly should be up in a little while. Eat with us and watch Eric try to string along sentences in Spanish.” Eric just rolls his eyes, but his smile shows that he doesn’t take the words to heart.

 

Nicole tells them to just sit at the dining room table while she helps her grandmother finish lunch. Abe takes the chance to catch up with Eric about everything going on in Salem thinking to himself that his stint with Alamain is going to go better than his stint at DiMera.

 

 

Chapter Text

Ben thought it would be best to get away for a while so he could digest his breakup with Ciara. It had been about a month, but it was really awkward to run into her in Salem. Even though he had gotten through the worst of it doesn’t mean that he wanted to encounter her all the time. Sometimes she was even with Theo. He didn’t know what their deal was but it hurt less not to think of it at all. The distraction of work was more than welcome.  He didn’t even care that Vivian’s specific taste which led him far and wide sometimes for her meals because it was a great way to escape Salem for a while. He started leaving the gatehouse earlier and coming back later and just work. He usually never felt the bitter sting of being alone. When he and Jordan had to go their own separate ways, he got used to being alone and not being so bothered by it.

 

It gave him time to think and think a lot about he wants in life. He makes his way to the safehouse and wonders what kind of wacky thing Stefan’s mom will want today. He feels like he is making a lot of progress with Paige. When he walks into the room she doesn’t have an automatic scowl anymore. She hides it very well, but Ben has lived his whole life learning to read people and their reactions. He goes out of his way to never surprise her.

 

He had made that mistake once when he thought she heard him saying something. When she finally noticed him she ended up having a panic attack and he wanted to go and help her but realized he would only make the situation worse. He just stayed in the far part of the room and talked about anything. But he had been coached by her if something like this were to happen what he should do. He was a little impressed that she had so many answers to possible triggers. Hell if he had a grandmother who was a therapist, he might have noticed his own shit. Paige told him that would be highly unlikely. She told him people try to rationalize why they are acting a certain way instead of seeking help. He never really thought about therapists having their own therapists.

 

Ben snaps himself from his thoughts and goes back to work mode and always makes sure to clock if anyone follows him. The drives are boring and monotonous and listening to the radio can only do so much. The house is only a couple minutes away and when he finally gets there. He brings his bag with him. He didn’t bring all his clothes but he gathered he didn’t need that much and he can just wash his clothes at the house. Before he gets to the house he takes a quick scan and notices that one of the cameras he placed was facing another direction and it sets alarm bells in his head.

 

His hand reaches for his gun and he listens to the air to hear anything and it’s quiet. No footsteps on any leaves and he decides not to use his key. He rings the doorbell and waits but no one comes to the door.

 

His phone vibrates and he turns around so no one can get him from behind.

 

Did you ring the doorbell? I can see you on the Ring app but I’m not opening the door. I took Vivi to the east wing. If is really you use your fucking key if it isn’t you then hurry up and get here some shit might be going down. -Paige

 

It’s me. I was testing you and you didn’t fail. -Ben

 

He uses his key and he still decides to listen for anything and he starts going over the security footage and he breathes a little easier when he sees that it was a rabbit eating some grass and then hopped and accidentally hit the camera which made it pivot. He’s relieved nothing was amiss  but he is still going to sweep the property later. It happened after he did his regular morning review.

 

He can hear footsteps and the ladies come into his view, but he doesn’t deviate from rechecking the feeds.

 

“So you lied…” Paige folds her arms because she wants explanations because if they have been compromised then he’s doing a bad job on keeping them safe.

 

“It wasn’t a lie per se. I am just taking extra precautions. I saw a camera was not facing the right way, so my guard was up.”

 

“Has anyone been here?!” Vivian does not like the idea of being found especially because she hasn’t even been able to go out.

 

“No Ms. Alamain. It was a bunny… They were hopping away and accidentally hit the camera which made it move.

 

“You scared me because of a rodent?!” Vivian finds this incredulous.

 

“Well it’s not like I knew what it was before I went over the security footage. It happened relatively recent because I checked the footage in the morning before my drive here. I get paid to overreact for your safety. It—” Vivian has decided she is done with hearing this child.

 

“Blah blah blah! What is this duffel bag doing here?” Even though it is Vivian who says it Ben looks at Paige waiting for her reaction.

 

“It’s a safer bet for me to be with you should anything happen.” He had already discussed this with Gabi and she couldn’t argue that it was a good idea. She didn’t question why he wanted to make this move now even though she knows that he isn’t with Ciara anymore. “…Is that okay?” He won’t move in unless Paige says it’s okay. He can do his job more remotely but if something were to go down he’s fucked.

 

Vivian for once has nothing to say… she just looks from Paige to Ben wondering what will happen.

“If my sister thinks that is best then I guess it should be fine but you can’t move in yet…” Ben’s a little puzzled because if it’s okay for Paige then why should he wait?

 

“Why not? You just said that—”

 

“I know what I said Ben! But we are tired of being cooped up here. We want to go out and be with civilization. We can do it discreetly, but we want to stay in Chicago for a while. The house is nice and safe but we want to do shit outside of it like catch a fucking movie or something.”

 

“The logistics will take me some time—”

 

“No. We are going Ben… we can stay at the Peninsula in Chicago. And maybe go on a roadtrip to some other places…” Ben could tell that this was something Vivian cooked up and had Paige deliver it because he knows Paige would stay at a fucking Budget Inn if need be but the Peninsula is the best hotel in all of Chicago and definitely the whole Midwest.

 

 He just looks between them and almost chuckles when he sees Vivian roll her eyes. “Paige you were doing so great until you said the damn road trip. That is so gauche I simply do not road trip that’s for people who are—”

 

“Alive… Come on Vivi it’s not like we can just start manufacturing new identities so you can fly on private jets. Isn’t it enough you want to stay at expensive hotels? Next thing you’ll probably want to take a private jet.”

 

“Oh honey… do I look like I fly commercial? Anyways you’re telling me that Ben couldn’t find us what we need. Wasn’t he hmm Kevin Reynolds once upon a time.” Ben commends Paige’s patience with Vivian. It dawns on him that Paige must have told her more about their history and how it predated Salem.

 

“Ms. Alamain you will get what you want. The Peninsula is a good hotel for not being bothered and discretion is paramount but we are definitely doing everything by car. One getting good fake IDs takes time and patience seems to be a pet peeve for you.” He has no illusions or pretense of not being completely bare with her. She does narrow her eyes at him but he knows that she knows she can do nothing more because he has all the power here. “…I’ll give you two time to pack, how much time—”

 

“No need… we were waiting for you. Vivian has decided to not pack because she plans on seeing just how much wear and tear she can do on your card. Fortunately for you I’m not so inclined to doing that.” She keeps cutting him off but Ben doesn’t care. It means Paige has gotten more confident in dealing with him. They were friends once upon a time and he is foolish for thinking maybe they can be friends again but he’s always been foolish.

 

She goes to grab her luggage and a handbag for Vivian’s essentials and Paige is a little excited herself. As much as she would never admit it because she’s all about being sensible and safe, she likes the idea of going to Chicago and being outside. She had a good time the last time they were out. She does wish Nicole and Holly were here, but they are safe with Eric and that’s most important.

 

“I guess that means we should get going…” Ben has nothing to say to that. He really hopes that Gabi doesn’t kill him when she sees the bill because he swears, he can see the dollar signs in Vivian’s eyes.

Chapter Text

The drive into Chicago didn’t take particularly long for Ben. He had called ahead wanting to book a suite with two bedrooms. He figured he would just sleep on the sofa in the main area while each of the ladies had their own room.

 

Ben watches the ladies talk amongst themselves every now and then through the mirror as he cuts through traffic. When they get to the hotel, Vivian practically jumps out the car. When she takes in a gaze at the hotel she finally relaxes. Both she and Paige follow Ben after he gives his key to the valet service.

 

After Ben secures the suite for them and they make their way over.  When they get inside Vivian starts dancing with Paige in the middle of the suite. Ben thinks to himself this just might be the most ridiculous sight he has seen in a while, but he gets paid regardless.

 

“I feel like I can breathe again. Paige I need a whole new wardrobe…”

 

“You know I can take you to Rosemont it’s really no problem…” Ben knows he’s pushing his luck but he feels he has gotten familiar enough with Stefan’s mom.

 

The look she gives him would burn him if she had heat vision. Paige gives him a look herself. The last thing she wants to do is calm down an antagonized Vivian.

 

“Vivian Alamain does not do outlets and you best remember that I have your number Ben Weston…” Ben clocks it that Vivian must be referring to the gun that Gabi gave her and he realizes he may not be able to go to sleep calmly. A vengeful Vivian is more dangerous than the calm Vivian.

 

“You keep burning all this money like you have a job…” As much as Vivian wants to shut him up, he has the leverage here because he’s her protection. He just smirks at her little gasp.

 

“You are a child… I’m part feline and I haven’t used up all my lives. I get to live on my children’s dime now and guess what it’s the least of what this world owes me. I do appreciate you dropping the boy scout act though it was getting boring and between us killers I expect a little more. I can already tell I’m going to have fun with you. Paige be a dear and get me some water while I have my siesta.” Vivian of course goes for the larger bedroom and Paige gets her the water she requested and comes back to the living room to see Ben on his phone.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” She really doesn’t get Ben and this new cavalier attitude.

 

“Come on, I was just having a little fun with her. I think she secretly loves it. Live a little…”

 

“Says the person who killed me…” She doesn’t even wait for his reaction as she falls gracelessly on the sofa. Ben was unsure how to navigate what to say after that. He looked at Paige and her face was blank as he stared at her. After what like an eternity her face broke into a little smile which made him breathe a little easier.

 

“That’s not funny Paige…”

 

This makes her laugh so hard she has to hug a pillow.

 

“Oh come on Ben, you should lighten up… live a little.” To have his words thrown back at him dumbfounds him. He knows with all the therapy they have been doing together has gotten them to a much better place he had never envisioned she would joke with. “… Ben are you really mad I made a joke?”

 

“No… I don’t know it just feels weird… considering…” Before ever living in Salem he could never believe half the shit he has seen.

 

“Considering it happened. Ben I’m not here to assuage your guilt that’s for Dr. Evans… you did heinous shit. Nothing you do will make up for it. I’m only alive because I’m a pawn in a feud because of my grandmother’s last name. What you can do is live your life with a fucking purpose and help people. Always take your fucking meds and stop with this pity party shit.” In all the time he’s known her from Florida on he has never seen her be direct. She’s always been honest but her little eyebrow raise and her tone just told him she isn’t out here to listen to Ben self-loathing.

 

“I’ve moved on mostly and I’m getting the help I need but my past has had a way of creeping back up at me when I least expect it…”

 

“Hmm that’s a great way of saying you are being haunted by resurrected people that you have killed. You made a funny Kevin…” She didn’t think she could have so much fun not giving a fuck. She has spent most of her life always trying to be polite. Her grandparents influence has led to her normally genial manner but for better or worse she is her mother’s daughter and she’s having fun with the vicious humor. She can see why it’s so alluring for her sister and Vivian.

 

“Who knew that that your tongue could be so acerbic.” It’s a weird feeling that comes over Ben’s mind when he says tongue. A weird feeling he refuses to acknowledge.

 

“Really Ben… considering who my mother is, who my sister is, and I’m in the daily company of Vivian Alamain… I don’t know how you could ever expect otherwise.”

 

“Well when you put it like that you make me sound dumb…”

 

“I doubt you need me for that…” The way her answer comes out like it wasn’t something she has to think about should offend him but it actually makes Ben smirk. She’s more comfortable around him and he notices it in the little things. It gives him excitement he never says aloud because he’s always afraid of ruining it.

 

“Ha…ha…ha you’re so clever…” Paige bites her lip when Ben calls her clever and both of them think to themselves whatever is going on is dangerous and crazy. They are not willing to go there. The weeks they have spent in close proximity doing intensive therapy exercises has both of them feeling out of sorts.

 

“Hmm… I guess I am…” Her eyes never stray from his and he doesn’t know how to answer. They just keep on staring at each other.

 

 

“I am feeling refreshed from my nap. I am ready to shop. Paige you know I am going to have so much fun with your wardrobe.” Vivian’s voice breaks whatever staring contest they have with each other. They can hear her before they see her and true to form Vivian does look like she has a new lease on life after her nap.

 

Paige roll her eyes at not subtle dig about her clothes. This makes Ben laugh and that’s what Vivian happens to see when she enters the room.

 

“Paige, why is the valet laughing?” Vivian is back to her tit for tat with Ben.

“The what?” Ben doesn’t understand what she is getting at… He thinks Stefan’s mom is always talking like some poet that lived two hundred years ago.

 

“Manservant, personal attendant… I don’t have time to give you lessons. There’s only so much daylight out and I need to get a few things.”  Both Ben and Paige get up from their respective places and get what they need and Vivian takes a walk to the door and waits and Ben just looks around. Paige conveys with her eyes that he needs to open the door.

 

He eventually catches on and Vivian just huffs and marches out. The swiftness makes her caftan flow which makes her whole aura seem even more unimpressed by Ben’s lack of refinement.

 

As they get to the lobby the ladies just follow Ben to the car. Ben finds that it’s best that Paige chooses to sit with Vivian.

 

The car fills with the sounds talking endlessly about how nice it will be to get a resort wardrobe collection. She doesn’t pay much attention to what’s happening inside the car as she looks through the window trying to decide what store to shop at first.

 

Every so often Ben looks through the mirror and his eyes meet with Paige’s. Paige speaks to Vivian when she is asked something, but her eyes stay fixed on Ben through the mirror. Neither are sure of what they are doing but they also aren’t willing to stop at least not yet.

 

Vivian’s decided that she wants to venture to Max Mara first. None of this is far from the hotel since everything is on Magnificent Mile. The only reason Ben has been driving around the same blocks was so Vivian could make up her mind.

 

Vivian feels like her sanity is returning as soon as she steps foot in MaxMara. She never did think to call ahead and book an appointment with her specific stylists since she knew everyone who worked here but she has been dead and captive for a nearly a year so lots could have happened in her absence.

 

She sees the stylist on duty and she is thrilled she doesn’t have to deal with anyone new. She hates breaking the new ones in. She thinks to herself she is having enough trouble with Ben.

 

“Ms. Vivian it’s so great to see you again. It’s been a while since you were in. We tried calling you a few times, but you never got back to us…” The touch of concern makes Vivian happy even if it means its because she is a big commission.

 

“Oh that is my faux pas Nuri. I have been traveling all over and I got a new phone number. We’ll just have to update my account. I came because I simply need a whole new resort wardrobe. And my protégé here needs a wardrobe in general as I am sure you can tell. It is tragic as you can see but even the most hopeless can be saved. The work you do is immeasurable practically can save a life… socially of course.” Ben is used to Vivian’s soliloquy’s but this roasting of Paige is making him chuckle, but he knows better to actually make a sound and encounter the wrath of either woman.

 

“Yes we came to save her from herself. You can only wear caftans for so long…” The surprised laughter that escapes Vivian at Paige’s response makes the stylist raise her eyebrow in intrigue.

 

“Hmm it seems you bite as well…” Nuri tries to interject herself in the conversation because she knows what type of customer Vivian is. She enjoys her banter and wittiness.

 

“Only when I need to chew…” Paige is normally shy around people she didn’t know but that’s the old Paige.

 

“Isn’t she wonderful?!” Vivian is so excited with Paige’s vivaciousness she wraps her arms around her in a hug. Ben watches them and the smile that erupts from Paige’s face can make anyone think of sunshine. He chastises himself for even letting himself go there.

 

Ben just sits as the two ladies go throughout the store sipping on Prosecco trying on just about everything. He takes this time to check the security feeds at the safehouse and it’s clear there. Even if no one is home it makes him feel more at ease if no one showed up. He doesn’t even let mail be delivered to the house to minimize the contact that anyone could have with the house.

 

Someone offers him a drink but he refuses. He doesn’t rarely drinks so it doesn’t interact with the drugs he takes but even moreso because he’s working and he has to always be on protecting Vivian and Paige.

 

Paige comes over to him and tells him they are ready to pay and he didn’t realize how much time had passed.

 

When he walks over to the register, he is taken aback with how many bags are present and he’s thinking to himself Gabi is definitely going to kill. Vivian just looks at him expectantly and he rolls his eyes.

 

“Hi ma’am what’s that the total?” He’s holds his breath at the impending damage.

 

“The total is $54,682.63…”

 

“How is it possible you could rack up $54,682 worth of stuff?!”

 

“And 63 cents.” Nuri doesn’t know why she does it but just the comedy radiating from the three people in front of her made her quiet day so much more interesting.

 

“Ben…” Paige doesn’t need to say anything else because Ben was already pulling out his wallet. He knows Gabi will get an alert about the size of this purchase he just hopes he doesn’t have to call for the card to be approved.

 

He hands over the credit card that Gabi gave him designated for Vivian and the card is approved with no reference number to call. He knows he will have to do some explaining later when Gabi inevitably calls to curse him out.

 

Most of the stuff was being shipped to Gabi in Salem and Vivian planned on having Gabi bring it to her but they did leave with some bags and Vivian made Ben carry them all.

 

Vivian and Paige uses their new sunglasses traveling back to the car. Vivian says they need to stop by Bloomingdales to pick up underwear and Ben really tries to focus on not thinking about either of them in underwear for very different reasons.

 

It’s more of the same for him. Thankfully everything else they buy is considerably less. They settle for staying in the same district for dinner. Ben must admit that Vivian knows all the best places to eat because he’s never had food as good as he has until he started eating where she eats.

 

When they get back to the hotel, they all settle for watching some television and when Vivian announces that she is ready to retire she looks to Paige who follows.

The whole time Ben thought he would be sleeping on the couch in the main area but when they both say goodnight and Paige brings her suitcase to Vivian’s room, he realizes he has his own room.

 

He unwinds and replays today’s events while he’s in the shower. If he didn’t know any better he would say that it could be inferred that he and Paige were flirting but that’s a stupid line of thinking.

 

He turns on the tv in his room while he tries to find a pair of sweats. He doesn’t really pay attention to what’s on the television but the tv playing in the background.

 

Paige is in her room unable to sleep like Vivian. Her day has been interesting. She did like some of the new clothes she got and she knows Gabi will help her get more of a wardrobe with stuff from Gabi Chic. She slips out of bed and decides to get some water.

 

As she gets ready to go back to her room, she sees that Ben’s bedroom door is ajar and she hears low sounds from what she guesses is the tv.

 

She doesn’t feel in control, but her body takes her to his door and she softly knocks and pushes the door farther.

 

Ben is alarmed when he sees Paige at his door.

 

“Hey… did you hear any suspicious sounds?” He’s already in work mode getting out of bed and Paige just feels goosebumps everywhere when she notices that his shirtless and only in gray sweats.

 

“No… I didn’t hear anything I was just getting some water and I heard the sounds of the tv…”

 

“Oh umm well okay…” What does he say to that?

 

“I feel crazy but I don’t know why I came here Ben. What are we doing?!” He knows exactly what she means but will she like the answer that? He just wants to feel the silk on her pajama set. The thin straps of the camisole don’t help his confusing thoughts. And the shorts expose a lot of skin.

 

“I have no idea.” He doesn’t know if she doesn’t like the answer, but his eyes just follow her setting down her drink on the nightstand.

 

She comes back close to him and reaches out to hug him and it’s the first time they have actually hugged since… he tries to think. He hasn’t hugged her since they both lived in Miami. The therapy they have been doing has been about proximity but tonight was unprompted and not in a therapy capacity…

 

He doesn’t dare talk he just puts his arms around her too.

 

“This is crazy huh?” He tries to break the silence. She picks her head up from his chest and looks at him with a smile.

 

“Downright certifiable…” This shouldn’t be funny it’s actually fucking morbid for the both of them  but they both laugh. It would be so easy to kiss her but he’s already on shaky ground. “I miss hugging people. I missed touch. I was gone for so long and isolated. I never thought about it until I was all alone…” She doesn’t know why she tells him this. She was utterly alone for years before she shared a space with another person. Kristen kept her under lock and key.

 

“Yeah…” Smooth Weston. She lets him go and he’s a little disappointed at the loss, but his eyebrows raise when he sees her getting into his bed.

 

She just looks at him wondering what he’s going to do. He doesn’t say anything but goes back to the empty spot he previously was and gets in. They look at each other.

 

“Just don’t touch my neck when I’m sleeping…”

 

He whispers okay and he puts a timer on the tv and they just stay huddled together. He let’s her touch him wherever she likes. He remembered what it was like to be isolated and how it can make you yearn for such a small thing like a hug.

 

Chapter Text

Paige’s POV

 

My eyes feel heavy, but I feel my body start to wake up a little. Everything feels different. I feel an arm around me. Vivian sometimes sleeps how she wants and it means a limb might venture my way but I feel strength in this arm. Vivi’s skin is super soft and has like no hair on her arm but this one does. I can feel it on my stomach where my cami rode up a little. I can feel a large hand wrapped around my hip and I look to my right and I see it’s Ben asleep.

 

Fuck! I fell asleep in Ben’s room and I realize I’m not afraid of him… I’m afraid of anyone finding us together… This is a weird new development that I don’t really know how to wrap my head around.

 

“You think so loud you know that right?” I tense all over because I really thought he was asleep. I choke on my breath because that shit scared me. I try to catch my breath and I can feel his hand tighten on my hip.

 

“I thought you were asleep.”

 

“I was trying. I had to do my morning sweep…”

 

“You do that at what 6 in the morning?” I never really thought about what Ben was doing. I mean yeah,he oversees the security but we aren’t even there.

 

“Actually at 5 in the morning. If I am up I check every 30 minutes but if it’s when I am sleeping I do it every five hours. Unless one of you texts or calls me.” This just makes it even weirder. I’m attracted to the man who killed me and now he’s is tasked with guarding my life.

 

I feel like a lunatic. I used to just laugh at my grandparents and mom when they told me about Salem and the people in it. I feel a kiss at the edge of my jaw and it makes my stomach clench. I know he can feel the movement because he never moved his arm.

 

“I’m sorry though I didn’t mean to scare you...” The way he peppers his kisses on my face. I had always seen it in movies, but I never experienced it in real life. I only have JJ to compare it to. I’ve had crushes but they never went anywhere.

 

I can’t find my voice. “That’s okay…” Everything comes out as a whisper and I just look at him. I can see his eyes because of the lights from the city. I find myself doing things uncharacteristic of me. Cautiousness leaves me because I kiss him and wrap a leg and bring him closer. I take my time and he lets me. It scares me because I like it more than I should. His arms just hold me in a hug, I love the way it feels.

 

Everywhere my hand touches feel the appreciation he has for working out. It hits me in a deep place I don’t really venture too. A place I never really got a chance to explore because of the man who took my life is also the one who makes me catch my breath. This is all kinds of fucked up but obviously it didn’t stop either of us from getting to this place.

 

I pull my head back and stop the kiss and some part of my is mad I stopped.

 

“I should go… I was only supposed to get water and go back to bed.”

 

“Well technically you did…” He’s bathed in this orange-yellow light from outside. His smile is open and contagious.

 

“I shouldn’t be here…” I can’t believe he just smirks at me.

 

“You’re right you shouldn’t but I can’t say that I’m upset about it.”

 

“Me neither.” It’s his turn to be unsure. I can see my words have an impact on him.

 

“This is weird huh?” Thanks for stating the obvious Ben.

 

“Yeah it is but it didn’t stop us from whatever this is.” I steal a kiss and I like the way it feels.

 

“I really should go though…” I give him one last kiss and I feel his eyes on me as I walk away. When I turn back to look, he has that smirk it’s almost like he was made to smirk.

 

I walk back to my room and Vivi sleeps how she likes and takes up most of the bed. I find enough room where I won’t fall off the bed and I don’t wake her up. It’s not hard to fall asleep again because I am tired.

 

 

Morning comes to soon because I feel the sunlight shining even though I just want to bury myself in the bed some more.

 

“Wake up Paige!” Ugh I really don’t want to wake up.

 

“Vivi I just want to sleep…”

 

“Sleep is for the dead and we aren’t anymore so get up.”

 

“Fine! Fine! I’ll get up!” Sometimes she can be so annoying.

 

“One would think that you didn’t get any sleep by the way you’re acting.” Before I could read her expression, she left the room in a very typical Vivian fashion.

 

My shower should have made me feel more at ease but all I could think about was that Vivian knows exactly what happened. Well not exactly because Vivian would think we went further then what we actually did. But I can’t help but think that Vivian is dropping clues to me. She does everything for a reason. She’s the most calculating person I know with the exception of maybe grandpa but he’s a fucking spy.

 

When I come out, I see Vivian and Ben seated with so much breakfast it makes me slightly worried that we are going to have to throw some of it away. I don’t like wasting food.

 

I don’t know where to sit. There’s a chair near Ben and there’s another chair near Vivian and she’s just looking at me waiting for an answer. Come one Paige save yourself before you fall off the cliff.

 

“Why is there so much food?” I slip into the chair next to Vivian and try to play off my hesitation with the comment about the food.

 

“Oh don’t look at me. This was the valet… I simply wanted eggs benedict and a parfait. The last thing I needed was a lecture from you about brain food…” I looked to Ben and he looked at me for a split second, shrugged and went back to eating. I help myself to the waffles.

 

It makes me a second to figure out that he knows I like waffles. I ate them occasionally at the house because we have a wafflemaker. He ordered the food… he pays attention. Well duh he was an obsessive serial killer once of course he would be observant.

 

“Well thank you Ben I enjoy waffles and its great that the food was already because I am hungry.” I don’t know why it was important for me to tell him I appreciated it but he was dumb enough to smile for longer than a second because I know Vivian watched it all.

 

“Not a problem… What would you ladies like to do today?” I guess he’s in work mode now.

 

“Well I haven’t been to a museum and I have to teach you how to be acceptable for my standards. It won’t be easy given what I have to work with but I have done more with less I guess.”

 

I don’t know how she has the ability to be so cutting at every moment but it makes me laugh how brutal she can be with Ben. It almost seems like he prefers it.

 

“I can only do my best Ms. Alamain. It would be a shame for you to lose such privileges with me being so ill-equipped for a Madame such as yourself.”

 

“You two are ridiculous you know that… anyways a museum sounds nice. I’ve actually never been to a museum in Chicago before.”

 

“Oh mon poussin (my little chick) you haven’t lived. There’s some great artists on display here. Let’s hurry now. I do love to get an early start to things.” I give the woman what she wants and eat my food as fast as I can.

 

When we get to the museum I am wowed just by how spacious it is. It looks beautiful and so much art on display.

Both Ben and I follow Vivian’s lead and sometimes our fingers tangle together and I get goosebumps. We never do it long enough where Vivi can see it.

 

Ever since we first hugged I feel so greedy to touch him. Being alone so long really can fuck you up that you get so excited by brief seconds of joining fingers.

 

After about two and a half hours, Vivian decided she was done and wanted to have lunch. She gives Ben direction to the restaurant she wants to eat at it’s a nice bistro. Ben only gets something to eat but then I remember he had so much at breakfast. I settle for my pasta. Thankfully he doesn’t pay much attention to me. I look at him just scanning everyone in sight while listening to Vivian tell me about the art pieces we saw.

 

 We go back to the hotel so she can have her siesta. She leave us and we settle on the couch and watch some tv. It feels too natural when I reach for him. I settle for my own siesta because I was a little tired from Vivian waking me up so early.

 

“Aha!” What the fuck?! I wake up to find Vivian looking down at us. I had expected Ben to jump up and separate us but he pulled me even closer to him.

 

“Vivi you just scared the shit out of me! And I was sleeping!” I’m still tired.

 

“You guys are so obvious. I just wanted to catch you by surprise. I had my fun but now I’m bored.”

                                                          

“How did you figure it out?” I look at Ben wondering where he is going to go with this… He doesn’t even bother denying it.

 

“You two are easier to spot than a pigeon in a flock of doves. The stolen looks that you think are sly well they are not. The hand touching at the museum. The way you both fall behind me all of a sudden after you have always been by my side Paige. The fact you were missing all through the night.”

 

“I went to get water!”

 

“Oh come on now. I am a light sleeper. You have to be when you’re me. I saw you get up but after five minutes you didn’t come. I was alarmed and thought let me get the valet if Paige ventured into some trouble but lo and behold when I open the door, I see his arm around you and you’re just sound asleep.”

 

“You knew where I was the whole time?” I have been trying my best to be discreet.

 

“Well yes although I’m very disappointed it was so easy to come by this, I expected more of a challenge but any entertainment at my age will suffice.”

 

“And you’re not upset about… this?” I point him from him to me a couple of times.

 

“Why would I be? It goes without saying you deserve better. He has no refinement, he wears rock band tee shirts on purpose, doesn’t know the difference between Monet and Manet… has no pedigree. But you like these things and Paige I will not fight your shortcomings. You are a big girl and if you want to be with a dangerous man then you are the protégé I thought you had the potential to be.” Vivian is so twisted. The way she rationalizes things is scary but right now it’s also appreciated because I don’t think I want to hear about how I should feel or what I should want.

 

“So you’re not like completely disgusted with me?”

 

“Oh child no… if you want some cookie cutter safe choice then go ahead get it. But what has the safe choice gotten you? A boyfriend who filled your mother with his excrement. Plus you have your knife now so you can just stab him in his sleep if need be…” That’s not where I expected the conversation to go but you really never know with Vivian.

 

She’s obviously okay with whatever situation Ben and I are in but she thinks murder is foreplay. Eventually I will my family and how do I explain my attraction to the man who killed me?

 

 

Chapter Text

Gabi’s POV

 

Stefan’s mother sure does know how to rack a fucking bill up. I don’t even care that she is spending like a fish because Kristen has been found out and I wasn’t the one to do it.

 

I knew that bitch would just deny everything and try to shift the blame somehow on Stefan but she didn’t anticipate Xander giving her up in order to save his own ass. When it comes down to it he’s save his own ass instead of go down the flames with Kristen. I am mad that he won’t be going to prison because of bullshit ‘extenuating circumstances’.

 

Things were progressing slower than she liked but Justin said that it was procedural. It meant that Stefan had to spend a whole month in jail. I know it isn’t Justin’s fault. I remember my own trial the first time. It was when I realized that everything is not like tv. You don’t get someone arrested, tried and convicted within an hour with commercials included. You have to wait to be put on the docket for your court date.

 

While Rafe kept investigating my husband was still in jail. It’s hard to feel so helpless knowing I couldn’t do a damn thing for him. I couldn’t let anyone know of Kristen walking about without putting targets on my family’s heads because she didn’t have Paige, Nicole, Paige and Holly as leverage anymore.

 

At this point Rafe is verifying everything in Xander’s story so even though he is saying that Stefan had no clue about this plan it didn’t automatically mean that he was off the hook. The dummy did go to Ted’s room and he did have his fingerprints on the gun. Technically it was possible that he could have murdered Ted or be a party to conspiracy. She hates all these fucking technicalities because they don’t mean shit for Stefan.

 

I hear a knock on my door and I see that it’s Abe and this is a welcomed face. I unfortunately had to see Chad and Abby a couple of times complaining that I stole a company that I own. Me pulling out the money Stefan infused into DiMera had sent the stock into freefall. Made me laugh because they are a publicly traded company so me making Chad’s shares next to worthless was just an added bonus.

 

Changing the locks on the house and having the secret pathways lock from the outside was my best move that motherfucker can’t sneak in when he likes felt great. He and Abby tried to make me feel guilty by kicking them out of the DiMera family home even though I don’t live there. I told them that they can live at the Horton house. Why would I show them any kindness when they were smug and ready to steal Gabi Chic from me?

 

I don’t need to go down the rabbit hole because I have Abe waiting on me.

 

“Hello Abe, how was your trip? Were you able to convince the designer?” The man just laughs at me and gives me a wink.

 

“You know I knew you were smart but I didn’t know just how clever you could be Gabi…”

 

“We are what we need to be when the occasion calls for it…”

 

“These are very true words. What you did for her is not something I take lightly… Holding that secret was a heavy weight and very dangerous for the ones you love.” It’s been hard to try and keep this from Rafe but its easier to do than feel guilt if something were to happen to anyone we love.

 

“I would do it again and again. I knew it was high stakes but I had to hold firm. At the time I just thought it was my sister and I would move heaven and Earth for my family. When I saw Nicole there with Holly I knew that I was risking your family too. Even though it might upset Theo if Kristen was mad enough I believe she would target Lani. I knew if I sent you on a business trip it would mean that no one would be the wiser. Nicole was upset at the prospect of not being able to say good bye to you but it couldn’t be avoided.”

 

“She told me as much. It was great to see her and Holly. I know it couldn’t really be forewarned but I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the both of them. They were at ease and loving Puerto Rico. Eric was there butchering Spanish. I know I’m not the best but he makes me look good.” I remember Eric trying to learn some phrases and he had Holly just asking him to stop.

 

“I’m glad that you could be re-united. I figured with Kristen being in jail that they might have come back with you.”

 

“They wanted to stay in Puerto Rico a little longer to just do nothing. Sometimes living in Salem is like a full-time job itself and both Eric and Nicole need to recharge with everything they been through. They looked happy and that’s all I want for the both of them…”

 

“I’m glad to hear it. They can take all the time they need. How did Nicole feel about the job offer?”

 

“She was loving it she had an idea for her first line to be a jeans line. She thought it could be called Walker and Co. She already has ideas of having a campaign with women all around the Latin America and the U.S. showcasing different ethnicities and that anyone can wear Walkers. I think that ties really well into our mission statement. She also had another line in mind in the air of Carolina Herrera named after her grandmother. Super refined, elegant, ode to the classic but still fresh and modern looking. Her name for that line is Sonia Montalban. She wants to start on those two lines and focus on that for now. She doesn’t want to expand to too many lines before we can track the viability of these the first two…”

 

“Abe this sounds awesome. I have some buildings that Stefan bought with retail space. I will get Nicole’s take but what do you think of making Sonia Montalban a prestige brand with like just a handful of boutiques. Create an air and brand presence that reflects its refinement and Walker and Co. be the mass market premium denim and casual brand?” I’m loving the ideas Nicole had for starting up her fashion company.

 

“I honestly think she would love that kind of roll out. There is one thing that Nicole wants and I don’t know if it will be a deal breaker?”

 

“What’s that? If she needs to see what resources we can allocate her with. We can be more than generous Abe that’s not a problem. We have daycare if she needs for Holly…” Nicole didn’t mention anything about deal breakers when I broached the idea of us working together.

 

“She wants me to be the COO of her company…” Hmm Nicole is trying to poach Abe from me. I know I don’t really stand a chance against Nicole. She’s like a daughter to him so his loyalty is ultimately to her.

 

“Well how about this… You can be COO of Alamain and Nicole’s company. Our C-suite is a pretty small outfit now that we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves. We can always revisit it in the future if that’s something you don’t want to do but Abe its up to you.”

 

“I think I will take you up on the offer and maybe groom my successor. Of course we will have to negotiate my salary with the extra work and responsibility.”

 

“Abe, I told you I would not waste your time. How about an increase of 33% to your overall salary? That bump amount would be slightly above what the expected salary of a beginning COO salary would be. If you want to counter that’s fine. I meant what I said when we were talking about you coming on board. I am not going to nickel and dime you. You are an asset and a partner and a happy Abe means successful Alamain.” I do not want Alamain to have a reputation of underpaying anyone especially not someone with a resume as long as Abe’s. He’s also Lani’s dad and I would never rip off my best friend’s dad.

 

“Thank you for giving me what is fair. That’s was the amount I was going to ask for and you beat me to the punch. I can do both and when we get the footing off the ground with Alamain and Nicole’s company we can think about a mentorship program that caters to developing future corporate leaders.”

 

“You see that’s why I love doing business with you Abe. You see what I see… the possibilities and think about the growth. I want that as well. I was just going through the funding for Nicole’s company. We can use the same facilities as Gabi Chic to keep our costs low. Save on rent because we own the building. When Nicole is ready to come back to work we can set her up with some appointments with some Textile Chemists for her jeans and connect her with some of our fabric distributors for Gabi Chic. She can see if she likes anything. If she doesn’t we can look back at the drawing board.” I want to give them as many resources so they can hit the ground running. I want us to all be successful because I need to prove to Stefan that the DiMera divorce only strengthened us.

 

“This sounds like a plan. The sooner we can establish these relationships the sooner we can bring her sketches to life. She had some really beautiful designs but by now she has even more.”

 

“I’m glad to hear it. You don’t know how wonderful it is to work with people who take it as seriously as you do.”

 

“It’s a good mentality to have. Business waits for no one. You have to seize it before someone else catches your break. I do have to ask with Kristen in custody did Rafe give you a timetable on Stefan’s release?”

 

“No… he kept chiming on about it’s procedural and that we have to wait. Even though Xander is now starting the confess the evidence needs to corroborate what Xander is saying. Rafe said even if Xander wasn’t a pathological liar they would still have to follow the evidence. If Xander is telling the truth sooner or later the evidence will only prove Stefan’s innocence if he is innocent.”

 

“He’s right. People aren’t just released because someone who previously said something was true is now recanting. It means they are lying or they lied which is not good for anyone. Xander’s confession now doesn’t mean Stefan will be automatically released. It just means that there’s further doubt about his involvement but the police need to find information that exonerates him or get a decree from a judge saying there’s a lack of evidence to support the charge. I do think Stefan will be released. I’ve seen the evidence and most judges will dismiss it for the inconsistencies in motive and opportunity.”

 

“I hope so Abe. He’s been there a month and Kristen is thinking she is going to somehow get out of jail. I want her ass to be nailed to the wall.”

 

“Well soon she is going to have 4 kidnapping charges and Eric told me that she moved Paige across state lines so those charges will be federal.”   

 

“Abe that’s good to hear but Kristen always manages to slip through the cracks or have some leverage and I’m afraid she might comes after them.”

 

“You can’t slip the federal government on kidnapping charges. The least amount of time you can do is 20 years but given that she had Paige for years it will only levy a harsher sentence. And you found them outside of Salem. It will be the State Attorney office  of Cook County who will prosecute on the state charges. The sentences are by different entities so she would be doing time consecutively so even if she got time shaved for good behavior she would be leaving federal prison for state prison. Kristen is done. I had always hoped she’d be how she used to be for my wife’s sake but she just gets worse. She will be held accountable for her actions.”

 

“I’ve only known her to be a grade A nutcase but I was never in her path until she started pretending she was Nicole and it was too much. Stefan is still in jail because of her. I’m just tired of her having so much power with people in my life.”  My phone starts buzzing and I wonder who the hell is trying to be bother me right now.

 

I look down and see it’s a text from Justin saying he filed an emergency motion about the police not having enough evidence to hold Stefan. And he got Stefan released and I can’t believe it.

 

“Oh my God!”

 

“What happened?” I realized my outburst would make Abe worry but I’m just too excited.

 

“Justin got Stefan released. The judge said there wasn’t enough evidence to keep Stefan for the charges they filed. There’s more legal mumbo jumbo but I don’t care because Stefan’s been released. I need to go to the courthouse. We can talk more later but reach out to Nicole and see what she thinks. You can set up the funding for her projects and just cc me on it.”

 

I don’t even wait for Abe to say anything I can think about anything besides Stefan has been released.

 

I race to the courthouse and try to find them. I text a Justin asking what courtroom was it and the closer I get the heavier my feet feel. It doesn’t seem like it’s real.

 

I turn the corner and I see a Stefan and Justin sitting on the bench talking and it feels like time freezes. His eyes slowly drift from Justin to me and my heart catches when he looks at me. Before I take another breath I feel his arms around me. I don’t think I have ever felt this complete with any romantic partner I’ve ever had.

 

When we kiss it’s just as electric as the first time I slapped him.

 

“I love you…” I just hug him tighter as I absorb his words.

 

“I love you too.” He picks me up and twirls me around and it really shouldn’t feel like I’m a teenager finding out about boys and relationships but it does.

 

“I just want to go home and sleep in my own bed…” Oh we really not doing that boo…

 

“No we can’t… I want to take a trip for us to celebrate…”

 

“Oh like the honeymoon we never got… so tell me where are we going? Aruba? Barbados? Cabo?” It feels oddly satisfying that I will get to burst his bubble.

 

“Chicago…”

 

“Wow that’s so romantic.” His deadpan expression makes Justin laugh. I almost forgot he was here.

 

“It will be romantic because that’s where I will be and we have a lot of time to make up for so…” His devilish grin makes me giddy. He is going to be in for such a surprise.

 

“I don’t have to explain to either of you… please do not get into any trouble. I already have enough on my plate.”

 

“Don’t worry Justin it’s only criminal if we get caught.” I pull on Stefan’s wrist so we can get going. All I hear as we are leaving and the chuckles of disbelief coming from Justin.

Chapter Text

“So what’s so romantic about Chicago you decide that we should choose that as our honeymoon vacation?”

 

Stefan still can’t believe he is celebrating his freedom and newlywed status going to Chicago. His wife told him to just shut the hell up and drive it will be worth it.

 

He finds that hard to believe because he would rather be in the Bahamas eating his weight in conch and fucking his wife until the sunrise.

 

He huffs when the only answer to his question he gets is his wife rolling his eyes. She at least said that they would be staying at the Peninsula hotel so it will be a honeymoon that’s upscale.

 

He will have to make the most of it now that he can focus on everything else in his life now that Justin has gotten all of the charges dropped.

 

On one hand he almost feels grateful to Xander for finally speaking the truth but on the other hand he wants to throttle the bastard for ever implicating him in the first place. His lunatic sister cooked this shit up. She was really disguising herself as Nicole Walker in order to get close to Brady Black.

 

Of all people to be obsessed about she is obsessed with that himbo? Stefan truly can’t wrap his head around it but he cares less because he gets to get the hell away from Salem for a while.

 

He still can’t believe that DiMera ousted his wife and tried to take Gabi Chic leaving her high and dry. She got the last laugh though. He gets so turned on with how Gabi shut them all down.

 

He looks over to his wife and she’s just filing her nails and he even finds her doing that to be sexy. She knows how to activate this crazy part of him that makes him really come alive. Powerful… passionate… she takes intense and raises it a couple of notches.

 

When she displays her intelligence… her ingenuity… it’s like a siren’s song. Those DiMera fuckers tried to screw him and his wife and she turned around and created something for him… for them. Stood by his side, believed in him, helped get him out of jail.

 

He knows that she is his ride-or-die. She doesn’t have to prove shit to him anymore. He believes like he hasn’t ever believed in something before.

 

“You look sexy as hell right now…” Gabi looks so unbothered by Stefan. She just keeps filing her nails as he drives.

 

“I can tell you are real hungry for it but get your mind out the gutter. The first thing we do will not be fucking.” She’s having too much fun making Stefan lose his mind. She loves that he loves her as much as she loves him.

 

Stefan’s fingers grip the steering wheel a little tighter because Gabi is making him go crazy which is par for the course.

 

“This is turning out to be the worst honeymoon…”

 

“Stefan you are too damn grown to be throwing a fit. Trust me baby you will be so happy we came here. I am going to make sure you love it.” They both think of different scenarios in their heads to her words.

 

They get to the hotel and its been a while since Stefan has been here but after jail this is such a paradise. Home would have been a paradise but anywhere fair away from jail is great in his book.  

 

The first thing he wants to do once they get to their suite besides his wife is check how the markets are doing. He’s been itching to get back to his old life and he’s free to do that with some changes.

 

He looks at his wife and he knows, she knows he’s looking at her because their eyes meet. He usually sees the mischief in them, but he also sees the love she only has for him. He kisses her in the lobby of this busy ass hotel, but he doesn’t give a fuck.

 

“Despues mi amor… tengo una sorpresa para ti.”

(Later my love, I have a surprise for you.)

 

Stefan is itching to know what this surprise could be. Gabi had already gotten their keys, so he thinks maybe she booked them a couple’s massage or a reservation at a new restaurant opening.

She latches onto his hand and pulls him forward. They get on the elevator and he notices she presses the wrong floor number, so he presses the right one. When the elevator opens he’s ready to leave and she pulls him back.

 

He’s confused why his wife is acting weird.

 

“Trust in me Stef.” It’s all she says and once upon a time he would just fight her on it but every time Gabi says something like this his life gets better.

 

He just follows her and they reach a door and she knocks.

 

Ben answers the door and Stefan’s so excited to see his friend… pretty much his only friend in Salem at the other end.

 

He doesn’t know why Gabi would think that this is such a surprise but he remembers that she could barely stand to be in the same room with the guy. Bringing Ben on their honeymoon is not what he envisioned his surprise being but he hugs his friend regardless.

 

They all go to the living room and Stefan just looks from his wife to Ben wondering what’s going on. Gabi notices Stefan anxiousness and tries to find the right words.

 

“So babe… while you were in jail some things happened and obviously some things have changed like us having our own company…”

 

“Which I have to say is awesome dude and I never thought I would say it but Gabi’s a better boss than you…” Stefan shrugs at his friend’s words so they are on friendlier terms. He doesn’t know where this is going but they are being weird and his mind refuses to go to there.

 

“Yeah I am better but that’s not why we are here. I have had Ben on a special project since you have been away because things happened while you are away. Things that would be unbelievable but living in Salem you can see that unbelievable happens everyday there. Anyways remember I had been getting weird calls…”

 

“Yeah I remember they were quoting poems by Nervo and it freaked you out, but the reception was so bad you could not figure out who was calling you.”

 

“Yeah… but Stefan they were clues… Before you I had only shared my love of Nervo with my sister. So I thought it was cruel jokes someone reciting Nervo…”

 

“So one day I got another call but I had Ben start tracing the call. I figured out who it was. It was my sister—” Gabi’s words start to break when she starts to talk about her sister. “… she was alive somehow saved by Rolf and I made Ben follow the map of the call origin. We got to a safehouse and we found my sister.” Stefan sees a head of curls and Gabi get up and hug the woman walking towards them.

 

The first thing he feels is her kindness. She hasn’t ever uttered a word to him but he can feel the kindness in her smile. Sees how emotional it makes his wife for her to have one of the sisters that she lost. It makes him happy in a way he never thought he could be for another person. He’s happy she has someone she loved so dearly back in her life.

 

“Hi… I’m Paige Hernandez…” The woman comes closer to him and Ben. She sticks out her hand and he’s happy to meet her.

 

“Hi… I’m Stefan DiMera… I guess I’m your brother-in-law. Nice to meet you.” He’s a little dumbfounded by this even with knowing the craziness that goes down in Salem.

 

“When we found Paige she wasn’t alone. She was being held by Kristen and some goons but Paige called us when the goons were away from the house they had her stashed in. Kristen was holding the real Nicole Walker and Holly there…”

 

“Holly’s alive?!” Stefan has always had a soft spot for children and Holly dying and him thinking he had a hand in it really gnawed at him.

 

“Yeah she’s with her mom and dad safe. They couldn’t come back to town with Kristen pretending to be Nicole…” Paige figures she might as well jump in and help Gabi deliver this news.

 

“You knew Kristen was Nicole?!” He does feel a little upset that Gabi knew…

 

“No… not the whole time. I didn’t think it was your sister. I thought Nicole wasn’t acting herself. She was calling me a mutt and saying father talking about Stefano. I thought that Rolf brainwashed Nicole into thinking she was Kristen. Stefano did some really horrible things back in the day including bringing an impostor with my brother’s memories while he held my brother prisoner. It’s one of the reasons he doesn’t trust any DiMera. I thought it was like that. So when we found the real Nicole, she told us that Kristen was wearing a mask to look like her.”

 

“But I only got out of jail today. You didn’t tell anyone that my deranged sister was running around town. Gabi she tried to ruin me… tried to ruin us and you let me stay in jail…” He feels some betrayal from his wife because he knows she fought for him but he could have been out sooner if she told the truth.

 

“Gabi couldn’t risk Kristen flying off the handle. Kristen doesn’t know that Ben and Gabi saved us. It would have put a target on my brother, my niece, even on you. She could have had someone hurt you while you were in jail.” Stefan concedes that his sister-in-law is right. “…she wasn’t going to put my safety in jeopardy…”

 

“Or mine…” Stefan feels like he has heard a ghost, but he sees the red hair and his mother is in the room with him. He feels like he’s going crazy and he looks around to the other people in the room if he’s mind is playing tricks on him. His breathing is labored and wonders how in the hell is this real…

 

“Mother…”

 

“Oui, mon fils c’est moi.”

(Yes, my son it’s me.)

 

“Mother how are you alive?!” His legs carry him to his mother and its been years since he has cried but he’s afraid his mother might disappear from him.

 

“I’m feline my dear… I haven’t used up all my lives… Also prison doesn’t look good on you how could you be such an imbecile to let the police catch you red-handed. No son of mine should ever make it so easy!” Vivian is happy to see her son but she hopes he didn’t think that they wouldn’t talk about the mess he got her in.

 

“Mother… I haven’t even been your company for five minutes and you decided you must give me a headache.” The banter between them is back and they both have smiles on their faces.

 

“Oh shut it. You know I’m not opposed to your union with Gabriela… she kept us safe while trying to get that banshee nailed to the cross. She’s also a decent bartender.” Gabi side eyes her mother-in-law’s assessment.

 

“Yes I can attest to my wife’s bartending skills… Gabi you did all this?! You saved my mom?” This was her surprise he thinks. It’s about the best surprise she could have ever gotten him.

 

“It wasn’t just me. I love to take all the credit and glory, but Paige was and is still her caretaker and Ben was the muscle…” Stefan thanks Paige when Gabi tells him about her taking care of his mother.

 

“Thanks man this is far above your paygrade. Thanks for protecting my family…” Gabi smiles because Stefan said family with no hesitation. He included her sister and they only just met.

 

“Yeah above the paygrade you had for me but like I said your wife is a better boss then you…” Ben will always remind Stefan that either Gabi is incredibly generous or he is stingy as fuck with the pay.

 

“To be fair Ben you had no experience and I wasn’t expecting you to be good at your job… but I’m glad I was wrong…” He gives his friend another hug and most of the people he cares about are in this room with him.

 

“As fun as the sentimental hour has been… we have a reservation for dinner and the valet needs time to get us there.”

 

“Mother… you have no money to have a valet…”

 

“Ha! That’s where you are wrong my dear. I have healthy equity in Alamain and I don’t need to pay the man because that’s what my daughter-in-law is for… Valet we need to go…” Ben starts moving because he knows how Vivian operates and he won’t ever fuck with her because she has all the leverage.

 

“Mother… his name is Ben…”

 

“Benjamin, Oliver, Kevin… who knows what it will be tomorrow this is why I prefer valet.” Paige has to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

 

Stefan just looks at his mother and she decides she is done with the conversation and turns to leave. Ben of course goes to the door because he knows Vivian Alamain seldomly opens her own doors when company is around. Ben just shrugs he decides to be nice and hold the door for everyone. Gabi and Stefan hold hands while they follow his mother and Paige is the last one out the door and as she passes by their hands meet. She doesn’t smile or look back at him. He smiles for one second and just follows them all wondering what good food Vivian will have them eating today.

Chapter Text

After their dinner Stefan spent some time with his mother in her suite just catching her up on his life as of late even though it seemed Gabi gave her the main points. When his mother told him that she was going to retire he and Gabi decided to go to their suite. He can’t believe the day he has had. One part of him feels like he is going to wake up and be back in his jail cell and his mother is going to be dead again.

 

But he holds onto the fact that this must be reality because why would he dream about Gabi’s sister. He wouldn’t have known how she sounded like.

 

“Stefan this is real…”

 

“How?!”

 

“I went through the same I can recognize the looks… the silence. I was thinking it’s not possible. My mind must be playing tricks on me because life is cruel, but I knew it had to be real because had it been a dream I would have dreamed Arianna too.”

 

“I’m sorry…”

 

“Don’t be sorry… I’ve made peace with the fact that my sister is dead. I even made peace with Paige dying. I have to count my blessings because even though my big sister isn’t here anymore, I have my little sister, my husband is no longer in jail, my daughter and brothers  are healthy and we are going to build a fucking dynasty with Alamain.” Gabi doesn’t say much about her brother Dario because he has warrants out for his arrest.

 

“And you saved my mother…” Stefan knows he’s lucky as hell. Gabi have the best relationship with his mother and that was squarely his fault. She wouldn’t have even had Gabi on her radar if it wasn’t for him.

 

“Yeah there’s that… she annoys me endlessly with these bills she racks up. Stefan your mom spends money like it’s a job.” He just laughs at his wife because she is getting a crash course in Vivian Alamain.

 

“My mom sees it as a duty to keep all saleswomen employed…” She missed that he could make her laugh.

 

“Yeah that’s an understatement. I have given your mother some accounts, but she insists on sending me the bills and I’m sure Ben is happily obliging her because I gave your mother a gun…”

 

“You gave my mother a gun?!”

 

His eyebrows just raise wondering why in the world would his wife furnish Vivian Alamain with a gun…

 

“Well it was when Kristen wasn’t behind bars so I thought can’t be too sure and we all know she knows how to use it.” He can’t really argue with her at that point because Kristen is unhinged and if Gabi had been found out then he knows Kristen would have scoured the earth until she found his mother.

 

“Yeah I get that but now Vivian Alamain has a damn gun…”

 

“Meh… you win some… you lose some…”

 

“You are something else you know that right?” A single curl falls and get in his wife’s face and he slips it behind her ears.

 

“You love it…” And that he does.

 

“You really are my ride-or-die huh?”

 

“Period.” He’s smiling at his wife’s word and cups her cheeks with his hands which makes her eyes flutter. He loves the effect he has on her.

 

Stefan makes sure he kisses her slow because he wants to savor every second of this. He got so side-tracked with his mother that he forgot this this time should be celebrated with his wife. Even though he got arrested on his wedding day and spent the rest of the time from then till now in jail… he wants to spend time with his wife.

 

“I love you Stefan…”

 

“Te amo tambien Gabriela…” And he means it with every part of his heart. No one in his life has ever fought as fiercely as she has for him and she did it in ways he never imagined.

 

“As much as I would love to fast-forward and be amorous with you, we have things to discuss…”

 

“Gabi… why oh why do we need to talk right now?! This is supposed to be our time…” He’s spent a long while in jail and all he wants is to be with his wife in every sense of the word.

 

“Yes this is our time Stefan and we need to capitalize on it because I want to fucking crush DE for thinking that they could fuck with us… It’s not enough that we got out with Gabi Chic. I want to destroy them for thinking that they could steal from us in the first place. They were ready to use money you invested into the company while showing you the door and try to steal my company from me and then fire me. Stefan is fucking personal… I want Alamain to be so successful while they are trying to stop the bleeding. Do you understand me?”

 

“Gabi do you realize that this really doesn’t help the fact that I want you right now. You talking like that only makes me want to fuck you even more know.” He feels like a moth in her flame. When Gabi says words like destroy he’s ready to just fuck her on any surface he can find.

 

“You’re going to wait cabron…” She knows the effect she has on him and she revels in it.

 

“Fine… tell me what’s on your mind?”

 

“I can tell you of what I’ve been doing since I have been trying to get Alamain off the ground…The board at DE fired Abe the same day as me so he was a free agent. I asked him to come on board and he agreed he is the company’s COO. We have been quietly re-trademarking and copywriting everything Alamain. Your mom had naming rights so when I quietly had her death certificated voided, I needed her permission. Alamain is our parent company and I brought Gabi Chic under it’s umbrella under a similar deal that I had with DE. Abe has been the acting CEO of Alamain until we could get you out. I don’t want to get in trouble with the FTC because of the whole mess with getting the company from DE…”

 

“God you’re so fucking smart. It was the wise move to have Abe installed as CEO if you have Alamain as a minority owner in your business. Tell me what else babe…”

 

“The real Nicole and I are going to launch her own fashion label with her own distinct style and imprint but we are going to keep cost low with using the same vendors and have her things manufactured in Gabi Chic factories. You will like the real Nicole baby… she’s really business savvy and she knows her shit. She knows what she wants to do and the direction of the company. Nicole, Abe and I have made some outlines of how we are going to market the brand and really maximize sales in untapped regions like Latin America and the Caribbean…”

 

“You have been grinding hard while I’ve been away huh?! This sounds fucking amazing. Gabi, I can’t say I would have done it because I wouldn’t have been able to see that. You know this market better than I do and Nicole’s resume speaks for itself even though Kristen was the one co-opting it. If Abe is on board with it and you are too then I trust it.”

 

“That means a lot Stefan… I know I don’t have as much experience as you but—”

 

“But nothing babe. You have made GC so successful in a market that is really hard for upstart brands. I’m so damn proud of you being fearless. I didn’t even know you when you were starting out but when I came to DiMera and saw the portfolio I was wondering how the hell could a company be so profitable while almost every other company was in some kind of downturn…” Stefan was shocked that his wife’s company was one of the very few reasons that DiMera could stay afloat until he met her.

 

Even when he thought he hated her, he was turned on by how focused she was on succeeding and it showed in the sales. His eyes was always following her every move because her confidence was alluring.

 

His praise of her really got her going because she was pulling on his belt and ripping his pants off.

 

Gabi really didn’t know what came over herself because she bound Stefan’s hands with his belt and as soon as he was going to a word, she put a finger to his lips and silenced him. He just looked at her in a trance… drinking her in watching her curls fall from her shoulders.

 

He just watches her get up from the sofa and slinks of her underwear and lick her fingers and slip them in his favorite place. Her gasp makes him grunt because he wishes it was his fingers. He knows he could easily remove the belt from his hands but he doesn’t. He’s afraid his wife might stop and he gets nothing.

 

He’s splayed out on the sofa naked from the waist down and feels ridiculous because he still has on his fucking blazer but as soon as Gabi start licking his dick he could care less how he looks. Her loud moans from her fingering herself just makes her mouth feel even more amazing he has to will himself not to cum in her mouth.

 

He gets that heady feeling and finds hard to keep his eyes open because Gabi’s look at him with the same hunger she has when she beats her quarterly projections.

 

When she stops he doesn’t feel disappointment for long because she’s sinking down on him and riding him like she’ll die tomorrow. She makes him feel like a pervert puts her underwear on his face. Every time he inhales he can smell all of her arousal and he wishes he could just eat her out right now.

 

“Stefan you know I would never let you rot in jail right…”

 

“I know baby… fuck… I know…”

 

“Yeah you better fucking know… because the only fucking person who can punish you is me! Fucking say it…” He can feel her pulsing on his dick and she feels like a damn vise and he tries to move his hands and he knows he will have belt burns in the morning.

 

“Fuck… Gabi you feel so damn good…” She has him grunting like a man as she squeezes him tighter as she rubs her clit as hard as she can muster.

 

“Fucking say it Stefan!”

 

He loves the fury she gives him. The challenge in her eyes… the flare of her nostrils… he would laugh if he could control himself right now.

 

“Only you get to punish me!” He screams because he can feel it coming… he pushes his hips up and somehow, he knows he will pay for it later because she didn’t tell him that he could.

 

 He can feel her coming as soon as he said the words.

 

“Yes! Yes! Fuck Stefan…” She felt bliss but she refused to surrender to it she kept fucking him through her orgasm until she could feel his cum in her and had him biting his lip so hard, he drew blood.

 

They looked at each other and they both knew there would be no sleeping tonight.

Chapter Text

When Gabi and Stefan left it was just Ben, Paige and Vivian. Vivian was serious about her retiring to her room and she left the two in the living room.

 

Paige found her brother-in-law to be an interesting person. The dynamic he has with her sister makes her think that they probably engage in the most bizarre foreplay and looking to Ben every and then she knows that she was definitely right.

 

Speaking of Ben… he’s bringing her the glass of water she had asked for.

 

It was difficult for her not to reach out for him. Since Vivian knew about them, they weren’t shy about holding hands or kissing in front of the older woman. Of course they made sure not to go overboard on kissing and incur the wrath of Vivian but it was nice not to have to hide.

 

They decided that they were going to keep their relationship whatever that is under wraps until they could figure it out themselves. Paige is sure she has feelings for Ben which is something she is still trying to wrap her mind around. It’s just easier when they don’t have to deal with anyone. She doesn’t have to care about other people’s thoughts. She knows how she is and the inevitable comments of her siblings, her grandparents and mother will wear her down. She almost doesn’t want to venture into Salem so she doesn’t have with that but she has to because she won’t allow Kristen to not pay for her keeping her from her family for years.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Yeah I’m just thinking of what happens when we go back home…” She knows everything will change once they get back to Salem.

 

Ben of course doesn’t like this line of thinking. He knows exactly why she went there though. These are the times he desperately wishes that he was just a normal guy who hadn’t kill people. He knows he’s even more fucked up for being attracted to one of his victims. He’s still coming to terms with the fact that she’s alive even though they have interacted for quite a bit.

 

It’s easier for him when it’s just them. Even though he loathes himself intermittently she doesn’t look at him with a glowing rage in her eyes like she did before. Sometimes it makes him feel great but other it makes him feel even worse. It makes him hate himself more… him romancing someone he was violent with. He would have broken it off already had she not looked so happy. He finds it difficult to disappoint her now and when they talk at night about their impending doom she tells him she’s afraid but she is not willing to let anyone decide her future but her.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“I know we constantly talk about it and it’s probably annoying—“

 

“I don’t find it annoying. This is very difficult considering I killed you. You shouldn’t have been dead even for a minute and that’s thanks to me… not you. I was on a psychotic rampage and you suffered for it. Then some a bloodthirsty person brought you back to life just to get one over on your family. Now you have to deal with the ramifications because we’re together. I’m not ever going to dismiss you or tell you I’m tired of hearing it because Paige I know how much you are risking by just giving me the time of day.”

 

In all the times they have talked about this… he never told her all of this and she appreciates that he doesn’t lie to her. She only really has JJ to compare it too and he lied to her and was always keeping some secret from her. When she confronted him to tell the truth he tried to lie to her again. She was stupid to give him another chance, but loneliness was something she didn’t want anymore.

 

The fact that JJ dated Gabi and cheated on her too sealed the deal for her that she should have listened to her gut.

 

“Paige you have more at stake then I do. You have a whole family who despises me. Your sister only despises me less because I helped save you. I only have my sister and nephew and she is trying to better herself right now.” He didn’t mention that he thinks his sister is still in love with her brother.

 

“Yeah I guess… it’s going to be difficult for the both of us. Do you think I’m worth all this trouble that’s going to fall on your head when people find out.”

 

“It’s no question if you’re worth it. Paige you’re probably the smartest person I know, caring to a fault and you want to be with me. You’re more than worth it to me.” After Ciara he never thought anyone would give him the time of day because of who he is. But Paige did and he has required feelings for her. He’s selfish to not want to let go until she says.

 

“Well when you put it like that… I mean duh…” They both laugh at her joke. It’s the first time they have laughed in days.

 

Ben is really happy that his only friend is out of jail but that also means Stefan and Gabi are in their orbit. It makes Paige frantic at the prospect of her sister finding out about them.

 

Both know while Gabi may have forgiven Ben because Will and Paige happen to be alive because of Rolf… it’s something else entirely for her to support a romantic relationship between them.

 

They decide to get up from the sofa and go to their room. Paige liked watching movies in bed and since then it’s what they do. Paige tells him she’ll be back and goes to shower in Vivian’s en-suite while he showers in their room.

 

The two of them decided they weren’t ready to have sex yet. Paige suggested they do more immersive therapy so she could get comfortable with him on top of her. It’s one of the positions he strangled her in and probably the most intense. Even through the mask he could vividly see the life seeping out of her eyes. He saw the confusion and desperation. He didn’t know at the time that she knew it was him.

 

Even though Ben has never deviated from his drug regimen it doesn’t mean he doesn’t remember his crimes. He can still feel how he felt when he did them. He can recount them as if it were happening in the moment. He is scared himself at the prospect of him and Paige being together because he’s scared of being triggered. The drugs help him be regulated but being intimate with Paige frightens him to his core.

 

He is terrified he might do something unconscionable to her. Paige is just as terrified at the prospect of having sex with him but for different reasons. She knows introducing this new layer in their fragile connection can lead to disaster. She’s already risking so much by being with him she refuses to back down at this point.

 

When she gets back into the room, she sees him on the bed just watching tv and she decides she should just ignore the little nagging voices in her head that know things will go to shit when everyone finds out. She likes the way his arm feels around her… when he kisses her forehead.

 

She falls asleep to the rhythm of his heartbeat leaving the worries and doubts for the morning. Ben knows he isn’t going to last much longer than Paige. He does his last security sweep of the house before he turns off the tv. He pays attention to her but he’s always been that way. He knows she likes falling asleep next to him but doesn’t want to be in that position all night. It only took her one night and a crick in her neck for her to figure that out. He adjusts her to the pillow where she’ll be more comfortable and gives her one last kiss on the cheek before he falls asleep himself.

 

When it was morning Gabi thought she could surprise Paige and they could spend the day together at the spa. She wanted to pamper her sister because these were things she could do now. When she woke up, she knew Stefan would be up because he likes to view the international stock exchanges every morning.

 

They decided to not order breakfast in their suite when they could be having it with their family. Stefan realized that he had his mother’s keycard, so they didn’t bother to knock.

 

They both did not expect for no one to be up. Stefan knows his mother likes to get her day started early and Gabi was wondering where the hell was Ben… he should be up… she wasn’t paying him to be gone. When Vivian comes into view Gabi was expecting her sister to be right behind Stefan’s mom but she wasn’t.

 

She decides to go to the opposite room while Stefan speaks to his mom but as she gets closer she can hear Vivian trying to distract her with asking for a drink. When she opens the door… she sees nothing but red.

 

The last thing she ever thought she would encounter would be Ben’s arm around sister’s waist.

 

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!” Gabi is so loud that it spooks both Ben and Paige awake.

 

Ben realizes that this is not one of his many dreams he had about this specific moment. He’s doing his best to get out of bed, but the covers wrap his legs tighter as he tries to fight out of them and falls out the bed.

 

Vivian just stares at her valet in nothing but his boxers and she can’t even blame her protégé for trying to hop on that train.

 

“Mrs. DiMera! I can explain—”

 

“Oh I would really like to hear this… How are you going to explain you being nearly naked in bed with my sister?!”

 

“Gabi please just let us explain!” Paige did not expect this would be the way her sister found about her and Ben.

 

“Oh please enlighten me…” Gabi is livid and both Stefan and Vivian just let her stew in it because they don’t want any part of this.

 

“It was unexpected but Ben and I are in a—”

 

“He fucking killed you?!” Gabi can’t believe what she’s hearing right now.

 

“Gabi I was there I know! It’s not like I planned this! I can’t help my feelings—”

 

“Can’t help your feelings… do you hear yourself Herm?” Paige tries to be unaffected by the nickname but she fails. She is starting to feel overwhelmed with how everything is coming out right now. Ben can see her helplessness and wants to go and give her a hug but that would only make things worse.

 

“I know its not ideal but…” She’s at a loss of words. Trying to explain this to Gabi is much harder now that she has been confronted with it.

 

“NOT IDEAL?! TU TAN LOCA?!”

 

“I know that this is not what you envisioned for me but it’s not I shouldn’t be allowed to make my own choices. You married the guy who sent you to prison?!” Paige knows that Gabi knows that she has no viable argument so she is trying to deflect.

 

“Oh yes I know I married the dumbass…” Stefan’s eyebrows furrows as he has been brought into the situation, but he decides to keep his mouth shut. This is a Hernandez showdown and he wants to keep it that way. “… but guess what Herm… Ben was given this assignment to protect you. Not get into your bed… so guess what Ben you can pack your things because you’re fired.”

Ben feels the air leaving his body when Gabi says that he is fired. Paige feels terrible that he is paying the price for the both of them.

 

“Ben you’re not fired. My wife and I just need to talk but dude please put on some fucking clothes…”  Ben doesn’t really heed Stefan’s words because he knows that Gabi hired him to work for her and not them as an entity.

 

“The hell I am and you Vivian… you know about this…”

 

“I don’t see the problem… what’s a little murder between lovers? What I wouldn’t give to pull a gun on the love of my life…” It makes her breathless to think of her playing a dangerous cat and mouse game with Victor Kiriakis. “… did I want Paige to be with my valet of course not he is punching above his weight… he has no refinement. Terrible palate… uses a salad fork to cut his meat for Stefan’s sake but they like each other. I know he’s uncouth but and has that dopey face but she’s happy.” Ben looks at Stefan’s mom and doesn’t know whether to be offended or thank her.

 

“Gabi… I’ll stop but just please do not fire Ben.” Paige breath is labored to say those words, but she knew it was always a strong possibility that her sister would get rid of Ben because she wouldn’t approve of the situation. She did her best to hold in her tears, but she failed and Ben wanted nothing more to go to her and give her some comfort.

 

Gabi softens slightly when she hears how broken her sister sounds but this is still the worst situation that she is privy to now.

 

“You don’t get it. Rafael will blame me not you for letting this happen right under my nose…”

 

“Gabi… Ben has done a good job of keeping them safe from my psychotic sister. Yes, this situation is not what wanted for your sister but this is the reality. Don’t punish your sister for her feelings because you know she would have sacrificed herself for Ben to keep his job. Let Ben stay… we know he wouldn’t let anything happen to them…” Stefan is doing his best to try and get through to his wife for his friend’s and sister-in-law’s sake.

 

“Fine… Ben Weston can keep his job but Paige you will be the one to tell Rafael not me…”

 

Gabi has accepted the situation for what it is. She can’t control her sister and she doesn’t want too but she isn’t going to be rescuing her from their brother. When Rafe finds out he is going to flip his shit and it will make his objections to Gabi’s marriage look like a cakewalk.

 

She leaves the room with Stefan and his mother in tow. Vivian starts complaining abut something or another and her voice gets more distant.

 

It’s just Ben and Paige left in the room and he goes straight for her.

 

He hugs her and let’s her cry like she wanted to since Gabi stormed in the room.

 

“Gabi is right Ben…” He didn’t want to let her go but he would if that’s what she wants.

 

“You want to stop…”

 

“No… it’s just that my brother reaction is going to make Gabi’s feel tame. He is not going to be the least bit thrilled that you are my boyfriend” Paige doesn’t mention to Ben that there’s a strong chance of physical violence when her brother finds out about them being a couple. They both realize that she just called Ben her boyfriend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rafe had mounting circumstantial evidence piling on Tony and Kristen DiMera but the damn cameras only put Tony at the scene. The fact that Kristen was so damn smug really grinded his gears. It would be hard to prove that Kristen and Tony conspired with each other. Kristen is a seasoned criminal, he knows that she isn’t going to leave readily identifiable information via texts.

 

Sadly Ted Laurent was a hated bastard by many including Rafe which made Rafe’s case even harder. If Tony hadn’t been spotted by the cameras, then they would really be cold.

 

Tony had kept his mouth shut… not even Marlena could get him to flip on her. Rafe knows that Kristen has something over him, so he gave up on trying to nail Kristen for that.

 

What he could get her on was class X identity theft. The DA was sure that they could have her charged for impersonating Nicole and using Nicole’s information for gainful employment with a contract that exceeded six figures.

 

The sentence for class X was 6 to 30 years. Rafe was going to use that time to build other cases for Kristen. He knows her ass was committing crimes left and right. Xander implicated her in order to save himself but the evidence doesn’t corroborate anything because it wasn’t like Kristen was going to leave a trail.

 

He didn’t care about the pressure coming from city hall… he just really wanted to nail Kristen. She was so cavalier about everything and it didn’t sit right with him. She always looked at him with this weird glee. It drove him crazy but the opportunity to lock up a DiMera was so appetizing to him. He decided he needed to go home to recharge so he could get back and think outside the box. He knows he will have to think outside the box to really connect the dots.

 

When he gets back home, he sees a car in the driveway and thinks Gabi might be home. It’s not her regular car which makes him on edge and his suspicious nature rears it’s head.

 

He gets closer to the side entrance of the house and he hears multiple voices in the kitchen. He can make out Gabi and Stefan but he hears more voices.

 

At first, he thought maybe it could be Will and Sonny over but it wasn’t them. As he got closer he could hear his sister and he felt a little more at ease when he heard her calm demeanor. His threat index went down when he heard Gabi. His hand cautiously put his gun back in the holster. He didn’t want to scare anyone especially Ari with his gun out. When he gets closer to the door he hears another woman’s voice and it throws him for a loop.

 

It’s gentler and familiar… Rafe feels like he hears a ghost. He knows that he really does need to get some rest now because he feels like he can hear Paige.

 

His hand is on the doorknob, but he has to take a second and a deep breath. He can’t allow his mind to play tricks on him.  

 

He opens the door and holds onto the wall for support when he sees Gabi sitting at the table, but she isn’t by herself.

 

“What the hell?!” Rafe was thinking out loud. This figment of Paige looks so real and he tries to calm himself. Maybe he will wake up if he just doesn’t freak out. He just has to will himself to waking up from this dream.

 

The figment makes their way closer to Rafe and the tears in her eyes look so real. He’s almost afraid to reach out to it because it might disappear. He still dreams about Arianna sometimes and every time he reached out for her she would disappear but he wants so badly for it to not happen with Paige.

 

“Hi…” All he sees is a watery smile and then feels arms around him. he feels like he is fighting for air because she doesn’t disappear.

 

Rafe’s whole body is shaking but he dares to try and hold her. He’s shocked when she doesn’t disappear. He can feel his heartbeat in his ear as he tries to wrap around the fact that he hasn’t woken up from his dream.

 

The moment is so surreal. Gabi is at the counter just smiling. He’s dreamed this before but he hasn’t woken up yet.

 

He lets himself believe in the moment and he starts to think that the moment has to be real because there’s no way in hell he would have had Stefan in his dream.

 

He tries to find his voice, but he feels like he has eaten sand.

 

“How?!” His shock is registered to both his sisters and they just look at him. He still hasn’t let go on Paige and he really doesn’t want to. He still has fear in his heart that this is just another cruel dream.

 

“I know it’s a lot but it’s real. I’m alive Rafe… I’m alive…” The words don’t feel real when he hears her voice. How can she be alive he thinks?

 

Even in a town filled with so many people coming back alive, they had never been so lucky to get anyone back. He doesn’t count Will because even though he is Ari’s father it was never a Hernandez coming back.

 

“No mames…” (I don’t believe this.)

 

“Es verdad Rafael. She’s alive… I was as stunned as you were when I saw her but it’s real. She’s real!” Rafe thinks that the shock must have worn off pretty quickly for Gabi because she is just fixing herself a plate.

 

“But how?!”

 

“Kristen DiMera…” He stiffens just thinking about the woman again. Any time someone is resurrected somehow some DiMera is involved.

 

Paige just sighs and goes to sit down at the table that they have sat at so many times. Rafe doesn’t forget that Stefan is in the room so he chooses a chair where he can keep his eyes on his sister’s husband. The man has been quiet the whole time and as much as he likes it when a DiMera is silent it also means that they are most likely scheming.

 

“How the hell is Kristen involved?”

 

“Oh Rafe… you are going to nail her ass to a cross…” As much as Rafe wants to chastise his Gabi for speaking with her mouth full this occasion is too big to point out frivolities.

 

“Kristen had Dr. Rolf bring me back years ago. I guess as some kind of weird gross upper hand in this Brady-DiMera feud. I’m only alive because my grandma. I was just a personal pet for her to laugh at. I had a plan to escape and I was almost out, but I don’t know what happened. She just one day decides to double the security. She was so upset about something. She was screaming like a wounded animal it was scary.” Paige recalls the time that she thought that she might have been able to escape. When Kristen increased the amount of people to watch her made her feel like there was no hope.

 

Paige’s explanation goes to the inquisitive parts of him that wants to know more about her botched escape.

 

“When did you try to escape?”

 

“Umm like the spring of 2018… I can’t really remember the date…” Rafe tries to figure out what could make Kristen go over the edge. He knows that she’s smart which makes crazy people like her even more dangerous because you don’t really know what they will do.

 

“We weren’t investigating her…” He thinks hard of what could make Kristen react so volatile and paranoid… “… but Kristen has had a really morbid obsession with Brady and at that time… your mother was dating him… She stole Theresa’s baby and tried to pass it off as her own so I wouldn’t put it past her to hold onto you as a proxy for her rage.) The more Rafe speaks the more Gabi is shocked that she didn’t think of that angle. Kristen has beef with the Donovan family because of Brady. It makes so much sense when you hone in on the fact of how desperately obsessive Kristen is with anything in Brady’s orbit.

 

“I had never really thought of it like that. I thought she was just trying to use me as a pawn for my grandma. She just hates Donovans because of a man?” Paige didn’t like Kristen, but she finds Kristen to being sadder than she thought. She did all of this to her because of some guy… it’s pathetic to base your whole existence for a man especially one. “She kept me in captivity… shuffled through different states—”

“Wait did you say that she shuffled you to different states?”

 

“Yeah… she wanted me to be accessible to her so she would have us moved from time to time. I guess it was also so I didn’t get to used to surroundings just in case if I were to escape it would have been easier for them to find me. Eventually she brought me back to Chicagoland…”

 

“Because she finally could be close to Brady without risk of being arrested. She was walking around pretending to be another person…” Rafe is going to call the FBI about this… It was kidnapping interstate which means it’s federal.

 

“Yeah… I wasn’t by myself. At least not for the last stint. I was with Nicole Walker and Vivian Alamain… she threatened Nicole to give up her identity… the consolation prize was her bringing Nicole her daughter…”

 

“Holly is alive?!”

 

“Yeah… when the time was right… we escaped. Something happened and it made Kristen worried enough that she was going to move us again, the guards left to get prepared to move.  Gabi rescued us…” It makes Rafe’s heart race to hear that Gabi was the one who found Paige, Nicole, Vivian and Holly. He thought about it Kristen was probably going to skip town because of Ted Laurent.

 

He knows Kristen has connections with the most dangerous parts of society.

 

“You saved them?!”

 

“Yeah I did… Better me then you… that pendeja definitely has some crooked cops on payroll that would have warned here that you were coming…” He knows he can’t disagree with that. There’s been so many botched investigations because the criminals on their radar would always know about raids and sting operations. It drove him nuts.

 

“Well I’m just glad the both of you are safe… I’ll be right back I need to go store my gun.” Rafe gets up and goes to his room and puts his gun in it’s protective case.

 

While he’s away for the moment… Ben comes back from outside and sits next to Paige. Before she can tell him, anything is when Rafe makes his way back into the kitchen and the sight of Ben so close to his sister makes Rafe rage.

 

“You need to step away from my sister right now Weston…”

 

Gabi knew this was going to happen, so she just stayed where she was watching the back and forth.

 

Stefan tries to get closer because he feels like something just might go down and he probably will have to be the referee.

 

“Hey Rafe, it’s not what you think I promise…” Ben tries his best to get Rafe to calm down. It’s like trying to tame a bull and he knows he isn’t really getting anywhere because it only makes Rafe laugh in disbelief.

 

“Rafe… calm down… I have something to tell you, Ben and I are dating…”

 

Rafe starts cursing up and down in Spanish and it makes Stefan laugh a little.

 

Paige is shocked by the amount of curses flying out her brother’s mouth while Gabi just smiles into her agua fresca. Ben realizes he’s the only one who doesn’t understand anything, Rafe is calling him a gilipollas with resounding anger so he knows it’s not a good word and he now wishes he had paid more attention in Spanish class.

 

Rafe can’t believe the words dating, Ben and his sister were in the same sentence with each other. He just found out his sister was alive and now he finds out that his sister is with her murderer… He is in disbelief that this is real.

 

He just laughs and gets closer to Gabi calmly. So far he has only used his words and that makes Stefan happy because Stefan thought Ben might end up in the hospital.

 

When Rafe’s starts laughing it’s only Gabi who knows exactly what’s coming and she just takes a bite of her chicken marveling in how tender it still is when her brother punches Ben which sends the guy into dreamland.

 

Paige can’t believe this is her life and rushes to Ben looking to Gabi for help…

 

“No…no…no me mires. Te dije que no te iba a ayudar con eso.” (Don’t look at me. I told you I wasn’t going to help you with this…)

 

Rafe is somewhat proud of the fact that Gabi wasn’t on board with this. Stefan just looks at his wife just utterly perplexed that she never stopped eating her food as all this conflict was going down.

 

“He can think about his actions… let him sleep.” Rafe said this in such a calm manner but the authoritative undertone was what made Paige get up. “Paige you must be hungry, sit down and I’ll fix you a bowl of some leftover pozole. Gabi is your husband going to be eating our food or is he going to stand there?”

 

Gabi laughs as she tells Stefan to his ass down in a chair. Paige takes glances every now and again at Ben which only makes Gabi laugh harder. The absurdity of the four of them eating while Ben is laid out asleep on the floor.  

 

It isn’t even like this is the first time she’s been in this situation. She remembers one New Year’s years back when Uncle Javier was so drunk he kissed his brother’s wife by mistake and he get socked in the living room and her grandmother was not going to allow the unfortunate situation ruin lunch so they ate dinner with Uncle Sebastian just sleeping on the floor.

 

“This pozole is really tasty…” Stefan can’t deny that this is really good… he couldn’t even tell that it was a leftover.

 

“Compliments to chef Rafael Eduardo Miguel Hernandez Rincon de Calderon…” Rafe rolls his eyes as his sister which makes Paige laugh.

 

Ben wakes moaning to a sore jaw as he replayed all the events that led to him lying on the floor. He looks up and sees everyone eating food including his girl and his friend.

 

“Good you’re awake…”  Ben can’t believe that’s all that Paige says and she goes right back to eating your food.

 

“So you guys just ate while I was –”

 

“Sleeping…” He looks at Stefan’s amused face wondering when did he get so chummy to be sitting at the Hernandez kitchen table.

 

“When you got knocked the fuck out motherfucka…” Ben narrows his eyes at Gabi’s hysterical laugh but he doesn’t say anything because she’s his boss but when sees his girlfriend shrug he wants to cross his arms like a schoolboy.

 

“This was better than the alternative…”

 

Paige tries to leave it like that while she eats her food.

 

“What’s the alternative to getting punched in the jaw?”

 

“You’d be lechón…” Ben knows if he gets any further with Paige, he needs to learn Spanish because he doesn’t understand what that means. He can only think of the closest word he knows to that.

 

“I would be milk…”

 

“Ha! No Ben… not even close. Lechón is a pig slow roasted over an open flame for hours so count yourself lucky piggy.” As he hears his friend explaining he ventures to look at Rafe just smiling at him.

 

Ben had made it his mission to never hurt Paige but looking at her brother just made want to keep that promise more than ever.

Chapter Text

Eve was down on her luck. Jack was intent on divorcing her and she compromised herself in a way that she couldn’t fathom. She helped Jack win on racist policies that made her stomach turn now that she has had time to reflect.

 

How did she get to this point? She knew she had ambitions but why was it so easy for her to do such reprehensible things. She made campaigns demonizing people… people who looked like Paige.

 

“If Paige could only see her mama now… a raging racist bitch. How can you stand to see yourself in the mirror Eve Donovan?” She’s picked up the habit of talking to herself.

 

She was battling a hangover trying to assuage her guilt in deporting people she knows Paige would have fought to protect.

 

Volunteering at the local law clinic and donating what she had didn’t really change the fact that she hated herself.

 

She’s donating money now to try help mitigate the disaster that she helped create in Salem. Abe was now working with the State Attorney to try and get ICE out of Salem.

 

When she apologized to the man, he told her the sorry would only mean something if she devoted her time to rectifying her horrible and costly actions. She promised him but mostly promised herself to do better.

 

When Shane found out what she was doing, his disappointment hit her the hardest. She broke her whole family’s heart. It brought her back to the time when she just had Paige… she was over the moon. She loved shopping and putting her in those cute frilly baby clothes.

 

She and Eduardo were just walking around the park with Paige in her stroller when some woman she never met in her life called her a race traitor.

 

That woman made her feel low and like garbage, she cried the whole way home being shocked someone could think that way but what killed her was her husband didn’t say anything. He just ushered them away and drove them home.

 

She was silent making dinner while he had just played with Paige. She couldn’t hold it in anymore and she just plainly asked him why he didn’t do anything to that racist lady.

 

He just told her that wasn’t the first nor would it be the last time that someone expressed unreserved hate for him or Paige for that matter. If he told off every racist person then he wouldn’t have enough time in the day to be a father to Paige and a husband to her. He told her the only thing she could really do was fight like hell for their baby.

 

It was why she tried so hard to have money to give Paige access to resources for her intelligence. Her baby was so smart… always had been. Paige’s teachers had wanted to put her in the gifted program when she was in first grade. Even though they moved every couple of years she made sure to buy Paige tons of books. Was always taking her to the library when the habit became to expensive for her. It was so hard to raise Paige by herself when Eduardo left.

 

She had made the decision to find a higher paying job for her daughter. She left Paige in California so she could travel for work. It was so hard on the both of them because it had always been just them. She hated Eduardo for just vanishing, but he was right she needed to fight for their daughter because no matter how intelligent Paige was, her daughter would always have to fight harder. She wanted to make it easier for her daughter… money was the name of the game and Eve knew it.

 

But Paige was dead and in a way so was Eve. Happiness was always fleeting for her. Easy for her to put on a mask and become someone she hates. She has to do the work to try and mitigate the harm she put into the world. Make her daughter proud of her… she would do anything to hear little girl’s voice again.

 

Eve didn’t have a long time to get ready. She couldn’t be late to the center, she popped two Advil and finished her makeup and went about her day.

 

The hours flew by with helping a family navigate the process. She told them that she would be back tomorrow as well. She felt a little happy that she could help this woman… she still felt the guilt. She surmised that she would always probably feel the guilt but she wasn’t going to just sit there and do nothing.

 

When she got back to the Salem Inn she just felt different. She walked through the lobby and a smell had her hugging herself. Someone was wearing Paige’s favorite perfume. She had to get out of there. It made her walk to her room faster and it didn’t really help anything.

She felt like she could still smell it. When she opened the door to her room, she finds Ben sitting just looking at her and it’s like she’s been transported to her nightmares. She finds herself wondering if this was real or some kind of psychotic break.

 

She wasn’t going to let that freak do anything to her. She goes in her bag and holds onto her switchblade tight if he tries to make any sudden moves she will gut him.

 

“What the hell are you doing in my room?!” Her anger rolls through her with an intensity that she only feels when she’s in his company.

 

Going around town seeing his face grinds her gears. She doesn’t know how they could let this murderous freak out of prison. He killed so many women… he killed her Paige. It was like the world said that her child didn’t matter when they released him. She got a generic call saying he had been released.

 

“I just want to talk Ms. Donovan…”

 

“I am going to call the police… you broke into my place to talk with me? You KILLED my daughter and you have the nerve to stick around in the town where you killed her and now you want to fucking talk. You’ve got a lot of nerve!”

 

“Ma’am I know I’m not your favorite person, but I really need to speak to you…”

 

“What could you possibly need to say to me? What are you going to describe my baby’s last moments? Are you going to tell me that she was fighting for every gasp of air? I’m not here for you to have penance. You may have Marlena fooled with this reformed boy scout routine but not me. The day you killed my daughter is the day I died. You robbed the world of a bright light… a young woman who would tutored children… loved books and had a bad habit drinking disgusting s’mores frappucinos.” Eve felt like it was harder for her to breathe when she started to remember the little things about Paige. More than the achievement and awards but the little quirks that Eve thought was just so perfectly Paige. “MY DAUGHTER DESERVED SO MUCH BETTER THAN TO DIE BY YOUR HANDS AND BE LEFT LIKE LITTERED GARBAGE… My daughter mattered…” Eve struggling for air so she could scream at Ben left him bereft. This was the toll he left in his wake. The people he killed… he fractured families just like his father fractured him and Jordan. He wanted to be better than that, but this is the reality.

 

Before he could say anything, Eve starts reeling because she sees Paige just walking slowly and Eve needs to phone home.

 

She keeps telling herself that this isn’t real.

 

“This is not real… this is not real… Fuck what did Kim say to do again when this happens?” She runs a hand through her hair trying to remember the exercise her stepmother taught her the last time she visited. She starts whispering softly to herself. “… stay grounded in the moment, breathe and then clarity will arise…” Eve usually did this with her eyes closed. It was easier for her to manifest her intentions, but she can’t close her eyes with Ben in the room.

 

“Mama… I’m real…” Paige’s ghost takes a step closer and gives backs herself into the door and it startles her when it slams shut. Her tears are streaming down her face making her blind, but Paige still doesn’t disappear.

 

Eve goes into her bag and calls her father because she’s finally ready to get help… The apparition of Paige stops moving when she sees Eve calling her father.

 

The phone rings and Eve hopes her father picks up. It’s the first time she has had hope in such a long time.

 

“Hello darling…”

 

“Daddy! I need help… I’m ready now… I’m ready… I see Paige and the thing Kim taught me isn’t working anymore. Paige won’t disappear anymore…” Eve starts to think she manifested Ben in her hallucination too.

 

“Darling… I have been doing some investigations and don’t be alarmed but I think that Paige might be alive…”

 

“Don’t say that!” Eve looks straight at her hallucination of Paige while she speaks with her father.

 

“Darling… I’m quite serious. I’m not even home at the moment. Roman told me the phrase only you two know…” Shane had taught all his children specific phrases so he would know which child was in trouble. It was an occupational hazard but his family could be kidnapped by an enemy of his.

 

Paige had gotten close to her mother and hugged her side. Eve had wanted to believe so much that her dad was on to something.

 

She started saying the words only three people knew.

 

“A chirp is heard even from a cage, in a lurch you can always count on the shade…” As Eve said those words to her father, her daughter says the same words.

 

Paige knows her mother might not believe she is there but if she spoke to someone else and they heard her then her mother would be more inclined to believe she is real.

 

“I’m alive grandpa… I’m alive!” She says this into the phone and Eve just looks at her daughter. The phone drops and the first thing Eve could think to do was to touch her baby’s hair.

 

Paige always had the softest hair. She used to brush it at night always marveling at her daughter’s beautiful curls.

 

“You’re real?” The disbelief in her voice is still strong but Paige just hugs her mother tighter.

 

Paige regretted how she left things with her mother. They had been so far apart, but Paige helped put that wedge there. Her mom was trying, she thought she had all the time in the world but then she died.

 

“I’m real…”

 

Shane’s voice was still coming out the phone and Eve quickly said she would have to call him later and hung up the phone.

 

“How?! So this is real then why the hell is he here?! You need to stay the hell away from my daughter…”

“He saved me…”

 

“Paige, he killed you sweetheart. I don’t know if you know that because he was wearing a mask, but he killed you sweetheart and I won’t let him do it again. Stand the hell back…” Eve had a mind to call the police right this instant.

 

“Yeah I know mom… But he rescued me too. I was kidnapped…”

 

“How? I put you in the ground…”

 

“Kristen and Rolf did something to me. After everything went black… I woke up in a place I never been before and I had a heartbeat again. It was the weirdest thing. At first, I thought they brought me back to use me because of grandma. But after finding out what’s been going on, I think it might be a Donovan thing…”

 

“Kristen kidnapped you… that fucking bitch?! Paige you been alive since 2015?!” Eve’s daughter just nods… essentially her daughter has been alive this whole time, but Kristen let misery hit her family like a ton of bricks. The Donovans have had such terrible luck for the past couple of years.

 

“Yeah… I think she did brought me back and then kidnapped me because of you and Aunt Jeannie. She stole Aunt Jeannie’s kid because she was with Brady Black. And I almost escaped once but before I could she moved me to a whole other place. It was in the spring of 2018.” Paige let’s her mom connect the dots.

 

“I was with Brady then… She kidnapped you as a punishment because of me and Jeannie having a relationship with Brady…” Eve felt her blood pressure rising. She wanted to strangle that DiMera bitch with her bare hands.

 

“I don’t know but it seems like it. When she moved me, I had never seen her that upset the whole time she had me. She never really talked to me but it makes sense. She’s crazy about that guy right?”

 

“Yeah she is, but baby girl I’m going to go to that police station and give that bitch a piece of my mind.”

 

“You can’t not yet. I want us to do it together…” Paige knows she needs her mother by her side when she does this. She’s afraid of Kristen and even with all her anger towards the women she knows Kristen is capable of such horrid things.

 

“Oh sweetheart… I’m always here for you. I did some really bad things since you’ve been gone…”

 

“Mom, I know all about them. I was reading up on things going on in town and I was so hurt to see you joining in that racist shit… it still hurts…”

 

“I know and I’m so sorry. I can’t fix it but Abe is helping me try to repair the damage I caused and I’m volunteering at a law clinic for immigration issues. Damn, I’ve been donating the money from your college fund to help pay for the process.”

 

“That’s okay show me that you are really sorry by continuing that work… I would much rather you use that money to help vulnerable communities mom. Gabi has a job waiting for me whenever I want it…”

 

“That’s good honey… really good. I’m sure you know that she ended up being your actual sister if you have been reading up on things in Salem.” Eve was shocked when her ex-husband had a whole family he abandoned and she knew if she had that information beforehand she would have thought twice entertaining any kind of relationship with someone who could just up and leave his family.

 

“Yeah I know…”

 

“I’m not apologizing to fucking Kevin Reynolds even if he did rescue you. He wouldn’t have even needed to do that if he didn’t kill you in the first place. And that wouldn’t have happened if you want to Stanford in the first place.” Paige just rolled her eyes and played with her mom’s hair as she got another lecture about not choosing Stanford and she never knew that she could miss that so much.  

Chapter Text

Nicole and Eric came back to town discreetly. They decided it was best to stay in Gabi’s safehouse because it was easier for them to be a family there.

 

 

Eric knew that he couldn’t slip Holly and Nicole back into his apartment because he knew that for some reason that Rex and Sarah would be there still.

 

Even if they weren’t he knew it would be hard to have them go unnoticed. He had too many relatives and Abe had told them already that this was for the best for the time being.

 

 

Abe was making sure to stay up to date with everything that Lani could give him information on involving Kristen’s case. Jack had been really cracking down and Lani being his daughter was a hindrance to Jack. Lani was still on traffic duty and it made Abe angry that his daughter who is a brilliant detective has been reduced to investigating traffic crimes.

 

 

He never thought traffic crimes should be diminished but it was something clearly his daughter did not like doing it and she made her thoughts known about it to everyone who would listen.

 

 

Paige was staying at the Hernandez home and Gabi got Eve in there without anyone noticing. They both didn’t go out which made some people speculate that Eve had left town.

 

 

Rafe said that they could stay for however long they wanted after Eve apologized to him for what she did and told him what she was doing to combat it. Paige was appreciative of her brother forgiving her mother and giving them a place to stay.

 

 

She knows that she could have always gone back to the safehouse with her mother but right now the less interaction her mother had with Ben the better. She still hadn’t told her mother about Ben and it worried her.

 

 

They had caught up and didn’t really have time to speak about anything other than their selves. Eve was still unsure if this was a dream so she would hold onto Paige like she might disappear which made Paige quite sad.

 

 

She knew this scenario or a version like this had to have been dreamed up by her mother. Wanting this to be true and it didn’t happen was a torture she wished on no one.

 

 

She had so much time to think when she was being held by Kristen. She was always so mad at her mother and called her a bad parent and when she reflected on it she felt horrible. She had been separated from someone who loved her more than anyone else in the world and she treated her like trash. Being a single parent was the hardest and most thankless job there was and she knew her mom busted her ass and gave up her dreams for her.

 

 

And she did it for JJ… the things she used to say to her mother was not her. She was never like that, but she always felt that she had to be on the defensive to be with JJ. Paige hated to admit it but she was being young and dumb. She used to make fun of the girls who would be ready to pop off for their man and look stupid because he wasn’t worth it.

 

 

She was so hurt by her mom that she allowed it to blind her. She channeled that hurt and tried to inflict on her mother as much as she could and she knew that no could hurt Eve Donovan quite like she could.

 

 

She gave Eve all of her rage that bubbled in her life. Her father leaving, the constant moving because of it, JJ’s betrayals… she put all of that on her mom and it wasn’t fair or right.

 

 

She knew she needed therapy and she could have called her grandmother day or night and she knew that Kimberly would pick up the phone for her. But she always told her grandmother that everything was fine and talked about school and what she wanted there to deflect from the emotional pain she was going through.

 

 

She was always good at hiding in plain sight. When she got with JJ, it made her so happy because moving around constantly made it hard for her to form lasting attachments and here this guy was. She thought that she loved him but so many red flags she ignored to justify being with him.

 

 

She had always prided herself on not letting drama rule her life. When you grow up like she did, she really pushed messy situations from her life. She didn’t like to dwell on things that were pits of stress. Her mom told her it would only hinder her goals in life and Eve was right.

 

 

Being with JJ always seemed like after she forgave something about him, something else was around the corner. He was always keeping things from her which was what bothered her the most. He was never honest with her until he was backed into a corner or he was caught.

 

 

She remembered how she felt when she was at his house at her birthday party and it was one of the most hurtful moments of her life. He just kept lying to her and she looked around and the party was full people who were not important to her but important to him.

 

Even though she was mad at her mother her nor her Aunt Jeannie were invited to her party, none of her Brady family was either. JJ had the audacity to say that her mother was a liar when he was a liar too. Her anger was palpable because he could easily lie to her face like it was nothing. She looked in his eyes and his honeyed words were laced with poison and it made her want to scream.

 

His mother knew the whole bit and tried to act like Paige should just forgive JJ because he was sorry. So sorry that he would have kept lying to her had she been the gullible Paige that he thought she was. It made Paige see that at the end of the day, his mother was always going to ride for him like her mother would do for her.  

 

 

Sometimes her mother went about it in the worst way, but her mother told her from the get go that JJ didn’t deserve her and she stayed with him trying to prove that he was but all JJ did was prove her mother right.

 

 

Her worst mistake was deciding to go to Salem U instead of Stanford. Even though it led her to meeting Gabi and Rafe, she did it for the wrong reasons. Her whole life she had told her mother that she wanted to go to Stanford, it was her dream and that’s the whole reason her mother busted her ass moving constantly for work to pay for that dream.

 

When she decided on Salem U it was a slap in the face to her mother and her old self that made sacrifices so she could have that Stanford dream. She got back with JJ which wasn’t the best decision for her growth but the intoxicating feeling of feeling loved couldn’t sway her.

 

 

In a small way she knows part of it was also to get back at her mother. But things became more clear to her when she found out that Gabi and JJ dated as well. He cheated on her and then lied about it. It’s his go to and try to bury it which hurts more than the action itself. Keeping it a secret only allows the betrayal to hurt worse.

 

 

After her first year she knew that she had made a mistake taking him back, but that just reinforced it.

 

 

“Hey baby girl, what’s got you all in your head?” Eve was on her tablet doing remote work. She had asked for her old job back and they scooped her up telling her that they would pay her what she wanted. She had been on of their most productive employees and they were trying to recover from her leaving the first time. Thanks to advancements in technology she was able to be mobile without having to travel so much.

 

 

When her mother looked at her, she felt horrible… secrets is what put a wedge into their relationship in the first place she didn’t want that again.

 

 

“Mama, I have to tell you something and I’m pretty sure you will be mad at me.” She knew she had to tell the truth even though she knew it wouldn’t be pretty.

 

 

“I’m pretty sure, I couldn’t be mad at my angel baby.” Eve just tucks a curl behind Paige’s ear, dreams were no comparison to real life.

 

 

Paige tried to find her words, but nothing would come out. She had to be honest with her mother because she knew the longer, she kept this a secret the worse her mother would react to the news especially if it didn’t come from her.

 

 

“I’m with Ben!” Paige blurted this out and knew it wasn’t a scene her head when her mother’s eyes bug out.

 

Eve feels like she must be mistaken.

 

 

“Ben in the hell who?! You surely can’t be saying that you are with Kevin Reynolds!” Eve’s whole body starts to get hot. That menace terrorized her daughter and now he was what? Seducing her? She wishes she had a grip on her knife right about now.

 

 

Paige just closes her eyes and tears start to flow hard before she can stop them. She said she was going to be strong, but she doesn’t want to rock the boat.

 

 

“I’m going to break up with him… It was stupid to even do it in the first place.” Paige starts to sob and it’s a full-body experience for her. It makes her body shake and she just sits on the floor hugging her knees to her chest.

 

 

It starts to break Eve’s heart when she sees her daughter protecting herself and it stirs something deep in her. She promised herself that she would protect her baby from everyone and she never thought she would be one of those people.

 

 

“Paige…baby girl…”

 

 

“I don’t want to fight anymore. I died and then I wasn’t dead but I couldn’t come home. I missed you everyday… every single day and I hated myself for us not getting back to how we used to be. Just because I really like Ben, I’m not going to let anything come between us.” Paige had been thinking about breaking up with Ben ever since she saw her mom’s breakdown.

 

 

She was working through her own trauma of what happened and they were working through it together but it was another thing seeing the fall out from it.

 

 

Seeing her mother fall apart convinced that she was hallucinating was so hard to watch. Her mom had been strong her whole life and she never saw her cry like this. It made her heart heavy to see her mother desperately trying to call her grandparents for help because she thought she was losing her mind… again.

 

 

Even though she was real it was something that her mom has experienced several times before. Those were the real-life consequences of Ben’s actions. It wasn’t just her family too, Ben had other families that he did this too.

 

 

How was she supposed to have a semblance of a life with a man who would always attract looks? How would it be if she was ever in public with Ben? Eyes would always be on her… judging her for being with the man who killed her. It sounded so messed up. She thought maybe their attraction might fade once they were out of the safehouse, but her feelings only seemed to grow.

 

 

Whether she liked it or not people were always going to look at her funny in this town if she ever went public. She was someone that liked her privacy now more than ever.

 

 

Eve could see her daughter struggling. She was going to do everything in her power to make sure that she doesn’t lose another chance to have Paige in her life, but this was trying her patience and her sanity.

 

 

Ben killed her, her daughter shouldn’t even be alive now but thanks to Jeannie getting involved with Brady it made some psycho bitch bring back her daughter. It still made her mind confused at how twisted the DiMeras could be especially since the last time she was in town two decades prior Kristen’s sanity was intact.

 

 

How was she supposed to be okay with her daughter being with a killer even if he is reformed? What happened if Ben didn’t have access to his medication?

 

 

She thought JJ was absolutely not right for her daughter, but this was a whole other level.

 

 

“Paige honey…”

 

 

“I’m going to break it off mom. It was stupid anyways. It doesn’t matter how I feel, I just want our family to be left alone. After we confront Kristen and make sure that they charge her maybe we could go visit grandma, grandpa and Aunt Theresa.” Paige really wanted to see her grandmother after Eric had told her about her condition. It would hurt her if Kimberly took a turn for the worst and she wasn’t able to be with her.

 

 

Eve hated herself in that moment, but she hated Ben even more filling her baby’s head with any notions of love and desire.

 

Eve Donovan was no fool, she knew that Ben was easy on the eyes and her daughter was mostly inexperienced.

 

 

She only had one real boyfriend and had sex a couple of times before she died. It wasn’t hard to see her daughter could be attracted to Ben while he was keeping her safe. She was in a confined space with an attractive man who saved her from her hell.

 

 

But the reality was that same man was the one who killed her in the first place. If he never killed her daughter than Kristen wouldn’t have dug her daughter up and experimented on her.

 

She knows that having Paige is a blessing, but it disgusted her that her daughter’s autonomy was taken away from her more than once. She was a pawn in a war in which she didn’t even know existed and killed because she knew too much.

 

She hated seeing her daughter hurting but how was she ever supposed to be okay with any kind of relationship she had with Ben?

 

She just rubbed Paige’s back and her daughter was in her arms like a reflex. She just gave her a kiss on her forehead and let her daughter cry her tears.

 

 

“I think it’s a great idea to go see our family. Baby I know you will love being back home.” Eve knew she moved her daughter all across the country but when she left Paige with her dad and Kimberly it was the longest Paige ever was in one place. Where she grow the most as a person… she wouldn’t mind it if Paige wanted to live there for a while.

 

The vultures in Salem would never let her get any rest and all Eve wanted for her daughter was to feel safe and protected and she was going to do anything to ensure even if she had to burn the world in the process.

 

 

Chapter Text

Gabi had called Justin because she needed him. This whole thing with Paige was still very delicate. She had to protect her sister in every facet of her life, it was going to be complicated with her having a death certificate.

 

She needed Justin to have it unregistered with the state. It’s all cute to have your family come back from the dead but no one tells you about the logistics of that you have to undo when that happens. It was a mess when Will came back. It was a good thing Paige didn’t have any children because having to explain that the dead parent isn’t so dead to schools is confusing.

 

When she heard the knock on the door, she got up and opened the door. She was paranoid because she wasn’t alone in her office.

 

“Hey Gabi, I was able to get out of court sooner than I thought. So what’s the big thing you couldn’t talk to me about over the phone.” Justin being Gabi’s personal lawyer involves many aspects of the law. It was only by luck that he was specialized in business and criminal law. The overlap works well for his family.

 

Gabi just hugs the man who is like a father to her a hug.

 

“Justin so much has happened.” Gabi just shuts the door and locks it.

 

“You’re not in any legal sort of trouble… What about your husband?”

 

“No, but something unexpected happened and I need your help in rectifying things.” Gabi goes into her bathroom and tells them to come out.

 

Justin was shocked to see Eve at first because he thought that she left town after she got fired but he fell into a seat when he saw Paige come out.

 

“I know I had to brace myself too when I saw her.” Eve spoke into the silence.

 

“I guess I don’t have to wonder how this came to be. It must have Kristen mixed into it. Paige are you okay?” Justin had so many things going through his mind. Paige has been dead or rather that missing for almost half a decade.

 

“Yeah I am okay… My sister rescued me, Vivian, Holly and Nicole from Kristen.”

 

Justin’s eyes bulged when he heard the other names.

 

“What they are alive too?”

 

“Yeah, I have them in my safe house right now.” When Gabi mentions that she has a safehouse it’s like she took a page out of the Kiriakis playbook.

 

“My goodness, all of you were being held by Kristen?”

 

“Yeah, I was there for the longest but then it was Vivian, but Nicole and Holly spent the least amount of time with us.” Paige was trying to be as forthright as she could with Justin. He was her lawyer and both her mother and sister trusted him so she would too.

 

“Justin, I don’t want Kristen to find a way to squeak out of this… Salem exchanges freedom for information all the time but this bitch needs to rot in jail for eternity. My sister was held captive for 4 years. She moved Paige across state lines. That means FBI right.” Gabi already knew the question to that Rafe was an FBI agent for a decade before he came to the Salem PD.

 

“That’s exactly what that means. It would be federal charges, but we need to prove that Kristen traveled with Paige across state lines.

 

“Nashville Public Library, the Edgehill Branch, she let me go there with a guard once a week for four weeks. I made friends with the librarian, Agnes LaFleur.” Paige tried to think of every instance that Kristen let her out. “…Mecklenberg Library SouthPark, I got to go there once a week with a guard for six weeks. I made friends with the librarian Joesphine Turner. After that Kristen stopped letting me go to the library. She got suspicious of me after that. If I wanted books, she sent someone to get them for me. Rafe always told me if I’m in trouble always make myself memorable to someone and leave a trail…” Paige tried to remember the lessons her brother taught her and hoped it would be enough but no one ever seemed to notice anything and that was because everyone thought she was dead.

 

“Rafe is getting some of his old FBI buddies to check this out but that could be enough right Justin.” Eve wanted to nail Kristen to the wall herself. She had a beef with the Donovans, Eve was going to finish it.

 

“Yeah if they can corroborate Paige’s wearabouts and she provide an affidavit and testify to it then Kristen is looking at life in prison.” Justin said just about the same things that as Rafe.

 

Gabi really just needed Justin to protect Paige’s interest and help her get back her life legally because it was going to take a lot of leg work to get a lot of these things looked at.

 

Justin started coordinating a plan of how they were going to do that. He had enough experience this time in knowing how to go about this the right way after he had to do this for Will.

 

He had to roll the shock off so he could help Paige. Gabi was his family and of course he would do this no problem. Kimberly and Shane were also his friends. He had to help their granddaughter reclaim her life.

 

The ladies told him of their plan on confronting Kristen at the jail but Rafe told them they needed to hold off until the FBI could arrest Kristen.  

 

Gabi ordered them all lunch to continue learning of Justin’s plan for Paige to get back her life. It was a couple of hours but Justin was going to discreetly put things in motion for all the people involved. He had four people to legally make undead.

 

He got up and gave each woman a hug.

 

“You never make anything easy do you Gabriela?” He could tease her every day of the week.

 

“I keep your life interesting… Sonny is too much of a goody goody.” Gabi gave Justin a tight hug. She really appreciates everything he does for her. Even the lectures when she does bad things.

 

“You all give me grief even Sonny. Bye sweetheart. I’ll keep you posted on everything. Ladies I bid you adieu.” Justin quietly slipped out and left the three ladies alone.

 

“Do you really think Justin can get me my life back?” Paige has never been a part of something like this. She doesn’t even know if there’s a handbook about stuff like this.

 

“Baby girl, if anyone can do it, it’s Justin. He has done this before, I trust him.” Eve knew Justin was a good man. He helped her a lot dealing with her grief when she thought Paige was dead.

 

“Yeah Paige, your mom is right. He has done this before and he will do it discreetly. I trust him with my life. I wouldn’t bring anyone on this that I didn’t trust could do the job.” Gabi knew Justin would help them and would follow through on his promise. He wasn’t like Eduardo. If he gave a promise, he would fulfill it to the best of his ability.

 

“All right, I guess if you both say he’s the guy then he’s the guy. Hey Gabi, no one is here right?”

 

“Yeah no one’s here. I get alerts if anyone is trying to come into the office.”

 

“Since I’m going to be working here eventually you think I can take a look around. I think I might pick my new office.” Paige’s confidence came back to her when her mother and sister told her that she was going to get to be herself again.

 

“Sure but keep the door open and scream for us if you need anything.” Gabi getting the eyeroll from her sister normally would be met with a rebuttal but Paige was fast and out of the her office.

 

It was just Eve and Gabi left in the room.

,

“So, I’m guessing you know about her little so-called romance with Kevin…”

 

“Who?” Gabi was confused because she didn’t know any Kevin.

 

“Ben. It’s a long story.”

 

“Oh yeah, before you think anything. I did not approve of it. The last thing I wanted for Paige was to be involved with Ben especially because of what he did to her. Sick or not it was still him that hurt her.”

 

“So you agree with me that he shouldn’t be around her? We have to protect her…”

 

“Eve I didn’t say that. We don’t have to like it, but Ben makes her happy. He even got knocked out by Rafe and he still didn’t say to himself this is too much drama and dump her. I know what he did and I hate it but Paige has forgiven him. She is in love with him, I can’t stop her and I won’t stop her. I love my sister and I have to support whatever decision she feels comfortable making. I can’t change your feelings about Ben, but I know you love Paige more than anything in this world. Believe me I get it. I would do anything I had to protect Ari. I can’t lose Paige because she thinks we don’t support her. She is a grown woman, we need to give her the agency to make decisions for her own life even if it’s not what we would do. Kristen took 4 years from her, let’s not take even one day from her. Even though JJ was not worth her time, remember everything you did to try and prove to her he wasn’t good enough for him. All you did was make her dig her heels in and give him multiple chances to lie and hurt her. Paige will want to prove you wrong instead of knowing her worth. I don’t know if she and Ben will last but it should be Paige to find that out.” Gabi wasn’t trying to sway Eve to Team Ben, she wanted to make Eve see that they should be Team Paige.

 

“I know she’s a grown woman, and she’s so smart and beautiful. I just don’t want to anyone to hurt her.”

 

The ladies couldn’t see but Paige was right outside the door hearing the whole conversation. Paige kept herself quiet because she wanted to hear this whole conversation. It gave her perspective.

 

“Eve, I want that too but that girl is a Donovan and a Hernandez. She will cut a bitch, if she has too. Give yourself some credit, she learned how to fight for what she wants and she certainly knows how to fight for what she doesn’t want.” Gabi remembered when her sister told her about slapping the spit out her own mother’s mouth.

 

“You’re right, I know you’re right. I just want to bubble wrap her and protect her from all the hurt in the world. She has had to endure so much including from me.”

 

“Eve we can’t change the past but what we can do is shape the future. Just be her mom and love her. Just because she is an adult it doesn’t mean you stop guiding her. You may not be able to stop her from seeing Ben, but you never have to stop telling her she’s intelligent, or that she’s beautiful. She knows you love her but give her the space to find out that you trust her.” Gabi was trying to be the sound of reason because she was not a happy camper when she found out about the two of them, but the last thing Paige needed was to be putting out fires because of her boyfriend.

 

“Okay I’m going to try but I still punch Ben in his face if he looks at me wrong.” Eve could find any excuse to hit Ben.

 

Paige took a few steps back and made a shout.

 

“I found my new office!” She walked back into her sister’s office.

 

“You sure are mouthy for an intern.” Gabi just put her hand through her sister’s curls.

 

“Hahaha. I love you too so much. You’re my girls.” Paige just jumped up and down excited. Her mother and sister had no clue she heard their whole conversation.

 

“Well we love you too baby girl. Group hug.” Eve opened her arms and the Hernandez sisters closed it.

 

The three women hug thinking that big things were to come for all of them.

Chapter Text

With Nicole and Holly back in town it meant that the day to confront Kristen was coming sooner and it made every one of her former hostages feel an array of emotions.

 

Rafe told them that they needed to have a plan, it would be best if they arrived to the police station separately. Coming together would bring scrutiny to them all. It wasn’t something Nicole or Vivian minded for themselves, but Nicole was worried for how it would effect Holly and Eric said there was no way Holly was going to be further traumatized by everything.

 

Paige didn’t want that for herself as well. She wanted little to no blowback to come upon her.

 

They all convened at Rafe’s house where he told that he had an agent from the FBI waiting for them at the station. Even though they would be going to Salem PD, this was a federal case, and it would be the FBI they will be giving the information to. He added that he was going to use every resource available to make sure they got the justice they deserved.  

 

Paige wanted Ben to be the one to take her to the police station but that was probably the biggest billboard to invite the craziness of the Salem if she did that. She had to be fine with seeing him before and after.

 

Gabi told her that it would be best to have either her or Eve take her. They would only have a small window of opportunity to get out relatively unscathed.

 

Gabi was ready to make the necessary press walk in lieu of her sister to throw them off.

 

“This bitch is going down today.” Nicole said angry as she remembered the long nights wondering if Holly and Eric were okay. Hoping that they were together.

 

“Yeah she is, I want her to never have another free day.” Paige didn’t wish death upon anyone, but she hoped that Kristen wasn’t able to talk her way out of another spree of crimes. She was held for four years scared because Kristen was volatile.

 

She knew that it was above Salem PDs heads, but she has heard from her family about how much the older DiMeras have somehow been able to slip through the cracks only to commit more crimes.

 

Gabi got to the station first, no one on the staff there even knew about the shit that was about to go down except for Rafe. When she got there, Lani was happy to see her.

 

She did wonder why her best friend was at the station so early because it was even to early to have lunch. It made Lani think something bad happen and she just hoped it had nothing to do with Gabi somehow getting into it with Chad or Abby.

 

“Hey girl, what are you doing here?” Lani asked curiously.

 

“Can we go to a conference room?” Gabi answered which only made Lani even more suspect that something wasn’t right.

 

“Okay let’s go into interrogation room #3.”

 

The women just walk-in silence and it made Lani feel even more alert that Gabi was going to tell her something big.

 

When they got there, the first thing that Lani did was lock the door.

 

“Is this a code red?” Lani was wondering if Gabi was in some minor legal trouble or major…

 

“It’s not me… I’m not in trouble at least I don’t know that I am in trouble for anything.”

 

When Gabi said this it only confused Lani even more because if it wasn’t Gabi then maybe it had to do with Stefan.

 

She felt that it couldn’t be about Stefan because Gabi would have just asked if they could have lunch instead of venturing to the police station.

 

“Gabi what is it? You’re scaring me…”

 

“It’s about Kristen…”

 

“Oh lord, what has she done now?” Even though Lani wasn’t assigned to the case. She knew that Kristen was a handful by how Eli was acting.

 

“So… at this very moment I’m sure that there’s an FBI agent interviewing several people who were kidnapped and Kristen is the one who held them…”

 

“What the hell?! Why am I acting like this of course this is right up Kristen’s alley... But what… How do you know this? Kristen’s been in holding for a while…”

 

“It’s not that recent… Kristen held four people for varying time across state lines.”

 

“Girl that’s FBI.” Lani was quick with her answer, deep down inside she was happy. She knows that Kristen was slippery like a wet tub with no bathmat.

 

“Yeah I know. Rafe called them.

 

“What your brother knows?”

 

“Yeah, because I kind of rescued them…”

 

“What?! Gabi you crossed Kristen?” Lani was worried because Kristen for sure had people on the outside that probably could try to get to Gabi.

 

“Yeah I guess. One of the victims reached out to me, multiple times and I found out their coordinates and got them. Ben helped me…”

 

Lani knew about Ben being the head of security for DiMera when Stefan was in charge and Gabi didn’t immediately fire him, so it made sense to her that the most unlikely of teams formed.

 

“Tell me what happened next…” The detective within Lani wanted to know more and treated Gabi like a witness.

 

“When I got there, I was expecting only one person but there was four. It was the most unbelievable sight Lani. I can’t even explain it, I felt like it was a dream because never could I have thought that this would be a reality.”

 

“Gabi, who did you find?”

 

“Paige…” Gabi croaked out her sister’s name and started to cry again. It’s been a while since her sister came back to her but reliving the moment of seeing Paige for the first time… thinking it was a mirage or her mind playing a dirty trick on her.

 

Lani felt like she heard wrong because she could have sworn Gabi said the name of her deceased sister but the tears in Gabi’s eyes told her that she didn’t hear wrong.

 

“Oh my god Gabi!” Lani got up and went closer to Gabi to give her a hug.

 

She could feel Gabi’s sobs come from a deep place.

 

“I’m sure they are giving their statements now, but I need your help Lani. I know that this shit is going to leak. My sister isn’t me, she will be traumatized by the scrutiny and they will follow her home and camp outside my house. It’s going to be difficult for Ari and Paige to see the vultures outside…”

 

“What can I do?”

 

“I need a distraction, so they don’t harass Paige. Like they don’t even see her kind of distraction…”

 

“Gabi, I don’t know if it can be avoided really. You already know that they will be camped out every single exit just waiting for her. I feel the same way as you do. It’s going to get leaked pretty soon and I’m sure if there’s an FBI presence here right now, someone from The Spectator is probably coming as we speak. The only thing we can hope for is that Paige can get through the questioning as soon as possible.”

 

“There has to be something that we can do…” Gabi was already strategizing, she came up with an idea but she needed to get to Gabi Chic. She got up and was getting ready to leave. “I’ll be back…”

 

Lani didn’t think they were remotely done with this conversation, but she had a mountain of paperwork to do because Jack Deveraux was an asshole.

 

“Before you go, you said you found more people with your sister… Who are they?”

 

“My mother-in-law, Nicole and Holly.” Gabi slipped out right after she said it and raced out of the station to get to Horton Square.

 

She left Lani reeling at the revelation of four people thought to have been dead were walking amongst the living and she needed to sit down for this.

 

“This town makes no damn sense I swear to God, to think people always talk mess about Miami’s notoriety. If I ever uttered this somewhere else, they would look me up in a straitjacket and tell me I’m delusional.” Lani just talked to herself as she went back to her desk.

 

For once Lani didn’t mind the paperwork because it allowed her to have a front row view of everything happening at the station and could give Gabi a play by play.

 

“Detective Price, they still got you on traffic duty… what a shame!” Her colleague, detective Mahoney was still griping about Lani being on traffic duty.

 

This was a detective doing a patrol’s job.

 

“Yeah I know Janet but today of all days I don’t mind it…” Lani said, she had an excuse for being indoors and at the station.

 

When Eli came in and gave her a smile as he passed by, she gave him a façade of a smile that placated him, but she thought to herself, shit was going to get real and it was going to be quick.

 

She thought to herself if she should tell him about what Gabi told her but before she could do anything, Eli was talking to a man he apparently knew, Lani could overhear that they were colleagues at the bureau.

 

Eli was surprised to see the agent but when Eli said ‘let’s step into my office’ she knew that it was go time.  

Chapter Text

Paige in the end had come with Rafe. The police officers had a side entrance that they could go in and her brother ushered her there.

 

Eve drove in her own car to the police station to avoid any confused glances. It would have been peculiar for her to be walking with Rafe and this mystery woman in the hat. Most people knew the only real link between her and Rafe was Paige and that link was supposed to be dead and buried. She stayed to herself as she waited for Gabi

 

Gabi came back to the police station with tote filled with a disguise for Paige when the time came. She saw Lani and they went to a meeting room so they could discuss a plan for ex-filtrating Paige out of there. She texted Eve letting her know which room that she would be in.

 

She had talked with Nicole and Vivian and they decided they would ride together. Vivian decided to wear a headscarf and glasses while Nicole came in with a long red wig.

 

Nicole and Eric decided that it would be best to leave Holly with him at the safehouse because the last thing they needed was for her to have cameras shoved up her face.

 

When the woman got to the police station, they went straight for the commissioner’s office. When Nicole knocked on the door, both she and Vivian felt a bout of apprehension, but it subsided as soon as the door opened.

 

Eli was shocked to see Nicole’s face again. It was just recently that everyone in town uncovered that it was Kristen wearing Nicole’s face. In the end everyone thought Nicole was just dead. He was even more shocked to see Vivian Alamain.

 

He didn’t know the woman that well, but she was rather infamous in town.

 

“Oh commissioner it seems that the cat has your tongue?” Vivian said as she thought about how good it was to be walking around the living again.

 

“How?!” Eli looked to his colleague from the FBI and got a nod.

 

Eli thought to himself, so these were the kidnapping victims that Kristen held hostage. It made sense that she would keep Nicole under wraps.

 

“Anything is possible in a place like Salem don’t you think? Rafe has asked that we meet in the main visiting room.”

 

When Nicole mentioned Rafe, Eli furrowed his brow. Rafe knew and said nothing about this? He couldn’t believe that Rafe would do something like this.

 

Vivian slipped her sunglasses back on and Nicole gently grabbed her by the elbow and left.

 

Eli was not going to allow this to just go down like this. Him and Agent St. Victor went to the visiting room. When they got there, they saw Rafe with a woman.

 

“Rafe, you knew about Vivian Alamain and Nicole Walker being alive and you kept it silent?!” Eli wanted answers but he knew the best course of action was probably not in front of all these people.

 

“Actually Eli, he got in contact with the me and the FBI because it involves the crossing of state lines.” The agent made sure to emphasize that Rafe did contact the proper authorities.

 

“Yeah I did, I couldn’t afford any leaks that happen within the Salem PD. Not when I have too much at stake.”

 

“What are you talking about Rafe, why couldn’t you have said anything about Nicole and Vivian being alive or that Kristen allegedly is the one who has been keeping them captive?”

 

The woman who had her back turned to all of them turned around.

 

“Because I was with Nicole and Vivian. I’m Paige Donovan Hernandez…”

 

Eli was in the shock of his life. He didn’t personally know Paige, but he knew that Eve wanted to nail Ben because of what he did to her daughter.

“I went straight to the FBI Eli, because we both know that the bureau would have a better handle on this than the Salem PD. It wouldn’t matter because ultimately it would become their case anyways, but I couldn’t have any leaks involving my sister.” Rafe was serious when it came to his family. There was no way in hell he was risking any of them but most of all he wouldn’t risk Paige.

 

Eli understood how important Rafe’s family is, when he dated Gabi, he got a glimpse of how protective Rafe was. He knows anything involving Kristen was soaked in danger.

 

“I would like to give a statement. I was held captive by Kristen DiMera for four years.” Paige wanted to get this over with.

 

“Yes, I can get your statement, all of your statements.” The agent sat down wanting to hear everything.

 

Eli and Rafe knew that the bureau was salivating for something like this. The prospect of getting a DiMera convicted was a goal for an agent in the MidWest region. It always seemed that they slipped through the cracks but not this time.

 

Paige thought to herself Kristen made her biggest mistake. The woman should have left her dead, but she held her captive for four years because she was jealous of the women in her family?

 

It took about two hours to get all three of their statements. Eli was floored learning that Holly was alive.

 

The agent told them they had enough evidence to arrest Kristen with the librarians being able to corroborate Paige’s timeline. Paige covertly signing up for library cards at each one of the libraries was the quick thinking that the FBI needed to make their case that it involved state lines. Eyewitnesses are unreliable because the mind was a tricky thing, but Paige left a trail in her handwriting for them.

 

The agent shook both Eli and Rafe’s hands and said that he would be in contact with them to let them know the progress. They should be able to get a warrant for her arrest. He left the room to go back to the field office to get things underway.

 

“I want to see her.” Paige had been waiting such a long time to be the one to see Kristen in the cage.

 

“Do you think that’s the wisest idea?” Eli didn’t really know Paige, but he didn’t think that Rafe would let his sister around someone so dangerous.

 

“What are you saying commissioner?” Vivian fixed him with a look. Even though Eli knew martial arts and close combat the way that this old woman looked at him unnerved him. “We have a right to see that our lives are not in danger. We should be entitled to see with our own eyes that wench is actually behind some damn bars!” Vivian’s rose only rose a smidge, but she looked like she could breathe fire.

 

“Rafe?”

 

“My sister has waited a long time for this. The destruction Kristen has caused, I want to see the look on her face when she finds out her plans has gone in smoke. We may not nail her for Ted Laurent but she sure as hell going down for kidnapping them. My sister is a grown woman I can’t stop her from seeing Kristen.”

 

Rafe wasn’t going to be apart of taking anything away from Paige. She deserves the chance gain back what she has lost and a confrontation with Kristen might be just that.

 

Eli tells Rafe that he is going to relieve the officer on holding cell duty and then text him.

 

It was a couple of minutes when Rafe got the text to escort them to the holding area.

 

When they got there, they heard some talking.

 

“Did you just realize that you had no evidence to book me on this bogus charge?” Kristen said knowing that no matter what she had nothing to tie Ted back to her. She did feel a little bad that Tony would go down for it, but he should know that self-preservation is her outlook on life.

 

“Oh you see Kristen, you’re right. I can’t get you for Ted Laurent it did make me sad, but you know this morning I woke up on the right side of the bed.”

 

“Oh Commissioner Grant maybe you could avoid that problem if you just got a new bed.” She teased but she didn’t care. They would have to release her soon and she would reclaim everything that was hers.

“Thank you for the advice but I’ll pass it’s a Sleep Number. I thought to myself man, I’m just so mad because she’s a seasoned killer, she’s not going to leave any evidence linking her to her crime. But you see Kristen you have a weak spot.”

 

“Doubt it Commish, nothing about me is weak…”

 

 Paige couldn’t help herself she wanted to burst the bubble so bad. Kristen was too big for her britches.

 

“Oh is that right? Because I beg to differ...” Paige announced, she had a smile on herself when she saw Kristen’s face go from cocky to shocked to downright apoplectic. Her hands wrapped around the bars tight and Paige felt her smile turn into smirk.

 

“What’s the matter Kristen, you have never been one to be stunned to silence.” Vivian walked over to Paige and loved relishing in the sight of an angry Kristen.

 

Nicole was right behind her and took off the wig.

 

Kristen knew that she could not say anything about their escape without incriminating herself.

 

“Wow look it seems that you all survived…”

 

“It’s okay Kristen you don’t need to say anything. Apparently the latest crime you have committed can’t be tied back to you. You’re no longer being by the Salem PD for Ted Laurent’s murder.” Rafe was having his fun.

 

Kristen smiled but she knew that she still couldn’t say much.

 

“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer for my false imprisonment.” Kristen’s teeth were so clench that she could only grit out the words.

 

“Funny you should say the words imprisonment you cantankerous bitch! I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure you are locked up forever.”

Eve had made her way to the holding cells and she heard Paige talking with Kristen which only made her move faster.

 

“Everything in your power? You have a new lease on life. You should thank your lucky stars for your second chance. You should be thanking whatever force brought you back…” Kristen was less than subtle.

 

“Your blindspot is your downfall. It’s so funny that the supposed love of your life, has been in love with let’s see… my sister, my aunt and then my mom. It makes me laugh you know. You brought me back to life to have under your thumb for losing out to Donovans… You love a man who professes his love for a woman every year… I congratulate you Kristen, you gave me a second chance at life for a petty revenge over a man. At best you’re a notch on his belt, at worst you are a psychotic bitch who went through an elaborate plan to take out your frustrations on a proxy. Either way you played yourself. It’s game over for you bitch.”

 

Eve made her way over to her daughter as she ripped Kristen a new one. She felt like a proud mama to hear her daughter.

 

“That’s so imaginative Paige, I imagine you took some creative writing classes in school. Maybe you can become an author…”

 

“I am a good author but this is nonfiction Kristen.”

 

“Your theories are a little out there don’t you think?” Even now Kristen knew there was nothing tying her to them.

 

“Oh I put my writing skills to the test, when I signed up for library cards. You know one of the questions they ask is why I want to get a library card... In Nashville, I wrote ‘Kristen DiMera’, in Mecklenberg, I wrote ‘has me’. I actually thought you had caught on but imagine my surprise when you weren’t as smart as I was led to believe.”

 

“And that’s why Kristen, you have been released by the Salem PD for the being connected to the murder of Ted Laurent. You are however being held as a courtesy to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the kidnapping and imprisonment of Paige Donovan Hernandez, Vivian Alamain, Nicole Walker and Holly Walker since they have a warrant out for your arrest.” Eli showed her his phone that the warrant displayed proudly.

“You insipid little bitch… Wait until I get out!”

 

“Doubt that’s going to happen, remember you impersonated me to gain employment with a company known to have ties to the mob. If I can’t get you for fucking keeping me hostage while you ran around town pretending to me… I’ll make sure the federal government gets you and your fucking family on RICO charges.” Nicole had been silent most of the time, but she had just as much to say as everyone else in the room. She loved the look on Kristen’s face when she said RICO, she finally looked a tad bit unsure about herself.

 

“I’m a phoenix, I always rise from the ashes.”

 

“And I hunt…” Vivian let Kristen know that she would be coming after her. “Besides you’re more like a dirty pigeon that gets moldy bread no one will miss them if they are gone.” She kept it vague enough that she couldn’t be arrested but sure enough Kristen.

 

“She is threatening me, do you hear that? You are going to allow Vivian fucking Alamain to make threats and do nothing.”

 

“It seems you have been the one taking creative writing classes.” Paige added with a mock seriousness on her face. “Anyways gotta jet, by the way, orange really clashes with your skin tone.” Paige winked and then walked out of the room with her mother right behind her. When she turned the corner, she took a deep breath and had her mother hugging her.

 

Paige wasn’t normally this person; she didn’t call people cantankerous bitches on a normal basis. She didn’t verbally spar with murderers on a regular basis with the exception of Vivian.

 

“Let’s go see Gabi so you can get out of here without anyone knowing that you have been here. The news won’t stay under wraps for long baby.” Eve knew that the Salem PD had leaks far and wide.

 

Nicole and Vivian saw the exchange between Paige and her mother.

 

“We can gather the press and have them focus on us, so you can get out without any fanfare.” Vivian was protective of Paige, it was nothing to her to court the press. She knew how to make a splash.

 

Chapter Text

Paige had felt so confident after her confrontation with Kristen, she never had a problem standing up for herself… But it usually took a lot for her to get to that point. When she saw Kristen’s face a rage built within her, she wanted to let Kristen know that she would be the one in a cage for the rest of her life. She would be the pawn in the game now. The irony that she got a second chance at life by someone who called herself a Phoenix made her want to laugh.

 

 

This time she was going to live life up to the fullest, she wasn’t going to waste time or her energy on being unhappy or being in situations that she didn’t want to be in anymore. She knew that people were going to be hounding her in town, she knew that eventually she would have to see JJ at some point. She knows that it would definitely shock him to see her alive, she didn’t know if he would want to pick up things where they left off. It had been four years but JJ was the type of person who wanted the long haul, but she didn’t want the long haul with him.

 

She knew that it was messed up, but she couldn’t deny that she was in love with Ben, she wasn’t going to let anyone come in between them. She could admit to herself now that what they had was worth fighting for. She knew that he followed her lead and she wasn't sad anymore… She knew that her family was going to support her decision to stay with him even if they didn't agree with it. She knew that she was the youngest adult on both sides of her family, but they were treating her like an adult which was something that she needed to have. After being in captivity for so long she needed to have a sense of control. She wanted to be the one to make decisions about her life and who she wanted in it.

 

As she thought about what she wanted in life, her mother and sister were trying to figure out how the hell they were gonna get out of the police station. The press was circling, they didn’t actually know what was going on inside of the police station but they knew that something was big.

 

Everybody had been assuming that Kristen DiMera was going to get out of jail, but when she wasn’t, they knew that something was amiss. Most reporters thought that some new evidence must have come to light, they wanted to be the ones to get the scoop.  All of the reporters were trying to get their Contacts on the inside to give them some kind of info, but they kept coming up dry because Eli was keeping everything close to the vest. It was one thing too have leaks about Salem business. It was something that he never liked, but it was to be expected with the kind of characters that work there.

 

It was a completely different game when they dealt with the FBI, he was not going to allow any scandals they were typical and Salem to somehow derail a federal investigation. He wanted to be apart of the team that put Kristen DiMera away for life. For so long the DiMeras have gotten slaps on the wrist for incredibly serious crimes. They’ve wreaked mayhem and destruction and they have been able to escape justice for decades. Kristen was among the most psychotic of them. He was going to do everything in his power to make sure that she was never allowed on the street again.

 

The reporters were starting to get restless; Gabi had come up with a plan, Paige was going to act like someone who needed directions and at the same time of her getting direction, Vivian was going to come out.

 

At first Nicole thought she wanted to do that too to distract the press from getting to Paige. She changed her mind when she thought that this somehow could interfere with Holly's privacy. Gabi had brought her a brunette wig to camouflage her self.

 

Lani, pretended to give directions to them both in Spanish, it seemed to do the trick because almost none of the reporters even looked their way. One of them actually shoved Nicole when they saw that Vivian Alamain was alive and in the flesh.

 

Vivian head of flair for the dramatic and she loved the spotlight. Nicole and Paige made it into Ben’s SUV no problem. He drove them back to the safe house and it was like Paige could feel the sigh of relief. She felt like she could breathe again. She knew that she would see her mother later.

 

When they got back to the safe house, Nicole went straight for her family. It left Paige and Ben alone. She knew that Ben had been disappointed in her, he didn’t want to let the relationship go, but he was also not going to beg her to stay. He didn’t want her to feel as if he was pressuring her. That was very important to him because he knew the dynamic that they had. Even though they both wanted to, the reality of the situation was still there. They had a twisted history that neither of them could or would forget.

 

Even though it killed Ben, he would always abide by her wishes, anything less would be unforgivable for him.

 

“I was wondering if we could talk…”

 

Since Paige had pulled the plug, Ben had only been in the role of bodyguard, it led them to have some really awkward moments.

 

“Um, sure but I have to review the security footage first. Then we can talk.”

 

Ben only said it so he could have some time to collect himself. He didn’t know what they were going to talk about and the last time they had a serious talk, Paige was breaking up with him.

 

“Okay, I’ll be in our room.”

 

When Ben heard her refer to her bedroom as theirs, it gave him some hope, but he didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t good to get psyched up because you could always be let down.”

 

After he did all his sweeps and checked the camera footage, he went towards the room, he found Paige sitting on the bed. She had her hands folded together and her head was tilted down.

 

“So you wanted to talk, so talk…” Ben hadn’t meant to sound so abrasive, but it was too late.

 

Paige hadn’t been expecting Ben to be so curt. Her face went from blank to a grimace. Maybe it was too late, it’s what she said in her mind. Why would Ben need yet another reminder of his baggage?

 

His crossed arms and strong chin had thrown her for a loop. She was scared now; she was scared that she lost someone she really wanted to be with before they really had a chance.

 

“Ben, I’ve had a lot of time to think. I was really scared, I just got my mom back. It felt so nice to be able to have her hugs again. She was just so mad when she found out about us. I didn't think that she could ever support us. She said as much and I didn’t know how to lose my mother, not again. I know what kind of person I am, I love my family and even though I’m an adult, I’m going to want to please them. And my mom hates you, I can’t really blame her because from her standpoint, you deserve blame. I’m not trying to make you feel bad or guilty, I know that you do enough of that yourself. I just didn’t know how to move forward with you if my mom wasn’t on board. But my sister talked to her, she told her even if she didn’t like you, you made me happy and that's what matters. My mom told me that even though this wasn’t her choice for who I should be with, it wasn't her choice… It’s my choice.  I would still like for there to be an us if that’s possible… What do you think?”

 

Paige put her heart on the line, she didn’t know how this was going to turn out because she couldn’t read Ben. He looked stoic and unmoving like a Greek statue.

 

This was what Ben wanted to hear, but he would never assume. He didn’t want to get his hopes up. He had been broken up with twice because of what he did, but his relationship with Ciara wasn’t really in his mind. He couldn’t shake that fact, it hurt… But this time was different, Paige changed her mind, on one hand he thought to himself what happens if they got into a fight which she just keep going back and forth changing her mind? Did he really want to put his heart through that?

 

He only thought about that for about a nanosecond, he looked at her, he could see her unsure face, her face was how he felt. It was in that moment that he realized it was probably the same for her. She was scared of being hurt by him.

 

He got closer to her, he was cognizant of how tall he was, she was also sitting on the bed, so he didn’t want to make it seem like he was towering over her. He got on his knees in front of her.

 

“All I want is you baby. You don’t understand how happy it makes me to hear that you wanna be with me. I know that our history is… complicated and you're going through so much to even be with me. It’s not something that I take for granted or lightly. I love you, I can’t give you much in life, but I can make sure that I give you that. Every day, make sure that you know that I love you.”

 

Ben thought that he could almost cry from the type of joy he was feeling, he just hugged her close to him. His head was resting on her stomach.

 

“I love you too, I don’t need anything else from you but that. I really don’t because my sister’s uber loaded now as you can tell. I can be your sugar momma.”

 

 Paige's words made Ben laugh, because she was right.  She didn’t have to work a day in her life if she didn’t want to, Gabi was going to take care of her no matter what.

 

“So you can, can you?” Ben was feeling playful, he took a look at his girlfriend.

 

“If you play your cards right…” Paige giggled, she couldn’t believe that she was saying these things.

 

“Only thing I need you to be is my baby, I can handle everything else.”

 

Paige held Ben’s face in her hands, she wanted to do nothing else but kiss him, she lifted his face as a signal to him to get up.

 

It had been so long since she kissed him last. She knew that was a lie, it must have been at least four days max, but it felt like 4 days too many.

 

One of the things she missed most in those four days was the fact that Ben was such a good kisser. She could kiss him forever; she liked the sound of that… forever.

 

“Lock the door.” Ben looked at her like she was crazy, but he did what she asked.

 

“Paige, what are we going to be doing?” He was really curious because he was trying to figure out why his girlfriend was being so silly. He didn’t understand why she wanted to lock the door.

 

“Take off your clothes…”

 

Ben’s eyes bugged out; he really did not expect that to come out of his girlfriends mouth. He saw her starting to shed her clothes.

 

“Um… um… did you want me to make love to you right now?”

 

“You can make love to me later, I want you to fuck me right now.”

 

Ben felt like he was having a stroke, he could not believe what was happening, but he started to catch on to the drift really quickly. He took his clothes off with a quickness that made Paige laugh at him.

 

He got on the bed and started to think that he didn't have any condoms on him right now and he didn't know if Paige was taking any birth control.

 

“Baby I don’t have any protection, I’ll put a baby in you tonight, I don’t care but you might.”

 

“I’m always prepared, my sister said she wouldn't be taking care of any other babies besides her own, so she gave me a whole pack of condoms. We can worry about your dick later. Right now my pussy needs some attention.”

 

He had never heard his girlfriend being so sexually vulgar before. It made him so hard that he couldn’t think about anything else but being buried inside of her. He wasn’t selfish though; he took her panties off slowly. He enjoyed the goosebumps that he left on her skin.

 

He missed having sex, it was one of the things that he knew that he was really good at.  He made it a mission to himself to show Paige that sex with him was unlike with any other. He was going to ruin her for anyone else.

 

When he ate her out, he focused on her. He changed his tactics with every moan she gave him, every furrow of her brow or quiver in her lip… he listened to it all. He thought she tasted delicious, every slurp, every lick… he couldn’t get enough. He went to town on her… He didn’t know what kind of sexual experiences that she had with JJ, but he was going to show her everything he knew.

 

He had her moaning out for more, when she orgasmed, she bit her pillow and muffled her screams. He thought to himself they might need their own place.

 

He got up on the bed and went to kiss her. Paige felt his tongue, she could taste herself on his lips. It was something she loved, somewhere primal in her she thought to herself she marked her territory. He was hers and no matter what she was not going to let him slip through her fingers.

 

She was still feeling the happiness that came from her climax, she never felt something so utterly enjoyable in her life. It made her giggle into the kiss.

 

The happiness that radiated from her only made Ben happy. He put that on her face, he was the one who gave her pleasure. He felt like he could puff his chest out. And made him so turned on, as soon as he got a rubber, his phone started to ring.

 

It was about four or five texts in a row, he started to get really upset, of all times for him to be needed, he thought to himself why did it have to be when he was with his girl? He was supposed to be having reunion sex.

 

 “FUCK!” Ben was so loud, he said it’s so loud and right in his girl’s ear.

 

“Oh my gosh Ben, did you have to be so loud?” Paige could feel the same frustration, but her ears were ringing right now.

 

“Baby I’m so sorry, I’m just frustrated. Vivian Alamain is just about the perfect cockblocker in the business. She’s texting me telling me that I need to go to Chicago and go find her food. Did she give me any specification absolutely not! I already know how this is going to go if I get something that goes against the mood she’s in she’s going to say I brought her garbage.”

 

Even though Ben had been dealing with Vivian for awhile, she could be so indecisive about her mood. He could not take Gabi’s approach, he worked for them. Gabi could tell her, the hell with it and this is what she was going to eat and if she didn’t like it then she could starve. He had no reason to ever talk to her like that and he was also afraid of Vivian so he could never.

 

“Well I know what she likes, I can come with you.”

 

“You're such a good girlfriend, how did I get so lucky?”

 

“I can see why Stefan gets so disgusted with us, we’re that couple that is disgustingly cute with each other.”

 

The one person who was completely on board with their relationship was Stefan. That was Ben’s best friend so of course he was loyal.

 

“Yeah, you're pretty great.”

 

Paige couldn’t help but let out another giggle, she sometimes get so tired that he could make her laugh so much.

 

“I know I am, let’s get ready. We don’t know when she’s coming, we don't really wanna keep her waiting because if you’re late then you're just going to get on her bad side and that's not a good place to be.”

 

He helped her get dressed, but he was gonna have fun with it. Before she put her bra on, he sucked on both of her nipples. It made her moan and she almost had to slap him. She was going to make him pay for that. They had a long drive to go into Chicago and that's where she was going to enact her revenge.

 

She let him do what he liked; he wasn't going to see her coming. He should have known better than to try to get one up on Hernandez woman.

 

Chapter Text

Ben and Paige had gotten in the car, they were embarking on a journey into Chicago trying to figure out… What in the world to get Vivian Alamain for dinner?

 

Even though Paige knew quite a bit about Vivian, the woman's moods were known to change sometimes even minute to minute. You could think that she would be in the mood for French food and then she twisted around and says she wants Italian. Paige thought that it would be good to keep it simple, she thought the safest choice would be Mediterranean. Even if Vivian happened to not be in the mood for it, that type of cuisine encompasses so many different countries.

 

The older woman had been meaning to try a place the last time they were in Chicago, but Vivian didn’t get the chance. Paige knew that this would be the perfect opportunity, and it was probably going to be the option that got Ben in the least amount of trouble. Paige knowing Vivian the way she did, she knew that the woman would still have something to say because it was Ben delivering the food.

 

She was thinking to herself, she loved the fact that she and Ben worked it out. Besides the fact that it would have been very awkward for them to stay in each other’s vicinity… she would have felt guilty if Ben felt like he had to get another job. She knew how hard it was for Ben to find employment, even before everything went down. She was happier now because Ben was really good at what he did.

 

She was in the car blushing, she had promised him revenge, but she was still trying to get herself under control about what they just did. She did lose her virginity to JJ, but this felt completely different. She was always so nervous when she was with JJ, some of it came from the fact that she was unsure of herself. He cheated on her and it made herself conscious. She always used to think to herself was he thinking about someone else when he was with her?

 

She knew that it was a stupid thought, but she couldn’t really stop herself. She was always trying to compare herself to an invisible woman. It was hard for her too, reconcile the thought of being with JJ even when she was. On some level she wanted to stick it to her mom, she wanted to let Eve know that she wasn’t going to win.

 

 It took dying and being held captive for Paige to realize that it really wasn’t about her mother. She was in a battle with herself. She was with someone who didn’t deserve her, it was a scary notion for Paige to admit to herself that she would accept less than because she was lonely. Her mother was working all over the country and JJ and his family represented people who were there for Paige or so she thought.

 

But him doing what he did, it just reinforced things for her. She had given JJ chance after chance and he ruined it. He loved to be dishonest with her, it was so easy for him to lie to her. The one thing she hated in life was people lying to her. She thought being with JJ and looking up to Jennifer was something that she wanted. She could still remember the feeling on her birthday when she felt like her world was crashing down. She could remember how angry she was at her mother but as angry as she felt Eve, she was angrier with JJ and his mother.

 

Her mother eventually told her the truth, even though she had called her out on it,  Eve told the truth and when she confronted JJ, he lied to her face. He said she couldn’t believe anything her mother would say, she would break them up for just about any reason and would use any excuse.  Paige thought to herself so many times, why would her mother admit to sleeping with him, all she had to say as JJ was an ex-drug dealing addict, that would have been enough for just about any mother in the world to say why her daughter shouldn’t date someone. Why would she throw herself under the bus unnecessarily?

 

And there Jennifer was, defending her son, she trusted this woman and that woman lied to her too. But what could she expect, that woman was always going to protect her son even if he was a scumbag boyfriend... She had four years to think about what she wanted in a partner. She wasn’t about someone being perfect or meeting her mother’s standards. That was going to be nearly impossible, no one could meet her mother’s standards and perfect is an illusion.

 

She wanted to be unequivocally 1st in someone's mind. She didn’t want to have to compare herself to someone else or feel as if she was somewhat inadequate. She didn’t want to second guess herself and the choices she made. Was she doing something because it was going to be expected of her?

 

It was why when she looked at Ben that she felt good. He was by no means perfect; she didn’t need him or want him to be. They had a complicated history, it wasn’t like it was some walk in the park for them to get together. They had resistance, they had people in her life who didn't want that to be her relationship of choice.

 

But she felt seen, she felt wanted… She never felt as if she had to compare herself to anyone else when she was with Ben. He was focused on her and her only. One of the best things about Ben was he never lied to her. He was always asking her what she wanted… They spent so much time together, she only felt greater feeling for him. She was in love with him, and she could without a doubt say that this was the first time she ever felt this in her life. Her last relationship was always a struggle, she put ideals and illusions on it to give it importance. She had to quantify her relationship in order for it to seem like it was worth it.

 

Every time she looked at Ben, she didn’t have to make any excuses for it, shouldn’t have to look into her heart and wonder if it was worth it. She had a brief time where she didn't know how she was going to do it, but it didn’t diminish the love that she had for him.

 

“You good baby…” Ben asked as he drove. He looked over wondering what she was thinking about.

 

“Yes…” Paige blushed.

 

“You feeling good baby…” Ben was a modest person about most things, but he definitely love to tease Paige, she just made it so easy.

 

“Yes… I hope you didn’t think I forgot what you did.” Paige was thinking about how slick Ben thought he was.

 

“What did I do?”  Ben said in a mock innocent tone.

 

Page had unbuckled her seat belt and moved past the center console into Ben’s space. The action had made Ben swerve on the road, he was shocked at the move.

 

“Fuck… baby what are you doing?” Ben didn't like where this was going, but he knew he was really lying to himself.

 

“I’m just paying you back. I told you I would have my revenge.”

 

Paige had unzipped Ben’s black jeans, she pull down the waistband of his boxers and saw her target.

 

She saw that he was half erect, she reached over for her purse and pulled out the lotion that she brought with her. She never left the house without handcream, her mom told her that your face could look good, but if you don’t take care of your neck and hands it’ll give away your age.

 

She had gotten some hand cream and started pumping Ben’s dick.

 

“Baby…fuck!” Ben couldn’t think about anything other than Paige’s soft hands stroking him.

 

Just as he thought it couldn’t get any better, Paige licks the head, Ben started to sweat as he drove.

 

He had a mind to pull over, but he really couldn’t afford to waste anytime. It was clear that Paige had no intention to stop, she was swirling her tongue and it made him go crazy.

 

Every time he took a venture to look down, he could see that page was looking at him, her eyes were taunting him.

 

“Baby what you’re doing isn’t right?!” Ben said frantically. His was sweating more…

 

Paige's mouth left his dick with an audible pop. She still had a hand on him gripping him tight. She just pumped him while she looked at him.

 

“I don’t care about what’s right, I care about what I want. What are you gonna do Ben? It’s not like you can stop by the side of the road… Wouldn’t want you to be late getting Vivian her dinner, remember she has that gun… She’s been known to shoot people for less.”

 

Ben bit his lip, it was the only thing he could do when Paige taunted him some more, she went right back the bobbing her head up and down. Her tongue was licking veins that made him so sensitive.

 

“You might make me crash this car, Vivian won’t even have a chance to kill me because it seems that you want to be the first. Damn…Fuck! Baby I’m not gonna last.” Ben felt himself close, he didn’t even know how or why but his right foot set down on the pedal.

 

The car accelerated, they were going about 80 miles an hour as Ben shot his load, it didn’t even deter Paige, she just took it all and looked at him. Ben couldn’t even focus on the road, he looked in his girlfriend’s dark eyes.

 

It was in that moment that Ben realized that his girlfriend was an undercover freak.

 

Ben realized that he wasn’t that far off, he would risk getting shot by Vivian if it meant that Paige was going to give him some head.

 

Paige had neatly put Ben’s dick back in his boxers but didn’t bother fixing his jeans. She even kissed his crotch before she went back to her seat.

 

“Even though I am very appreciative of your revenge baby, you had me going 80 mph, could’ve have gotten that us killed…”

 

“Well, it's just something you'll have to deal with, if you do something that I don’t like hmm or if I do like it may happen again…” Paige was looking at herself in her compact, making sure that her face didn't look like she just sucked her boyfriend’s dick.

 

“So you’re telling me, if I do something you don’t like, that you may give me head and risk our lives,  or if I do something you do like, you might give me head… still risk our live?” Ben was trying to decipher what kind of woman was his girlfriend.

 

“I’ll do what I like, when I want to… If I feel like  giving you a blow job in the car, so be it… If I feel like doing it at a freaking Christmas party with you in an ugly sweater, so be it. See that’s the mystery, you never know when I’m going to do it. So when you wanna be bad and tease me, when you least expect it, I’ll be coming for you.” Paige said nonchalantly as she started to drink some water.

 

Ben was shocked to see this side of his sweet and almost unassuming girlfriend. He realized he was wrong, he still loved her but he just found out that is already dynamic girlfriend was even more dynamic than he ever knew. He was slightly terrified, but that kind of terror turn him on.

 

“I’m sorry for teasing you baby.” Ben didn’t even know what to say to that.

 

“Don’t be sorry, be ready… If I wanna have you on the side of the road, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna happen. Even if it means Vivian’s food gets cold. I guess we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.” Paige winked and pulled out a condom from her purse to illustrate her point.

 

Ben squirmed in his seat, he realized that he may be tested to his point, If Paige wanted to have sex on the way back, he was gonna fuck her, she already made him hard just from the thought. He knew that she was enjoying this, either way she won. He either would be hard the whole way home and give Vivian her food on time or only slightly late. Or he would be dealing with an angry Vivian, but he and his girlfriend would be completely sated.

 

“Damn you a mean one… baby.”

 

All Paige could do was just giggle.

 

“Yes.” Paige looked at her boyfriend with the taunting smile, she didn’t even know what she was going to choose. But she loved the thrill of making Ben squirm. Her sister always taught her when you wanna get revenge never make it equal.

 

 

Chapter Text

“You know things are really going to get interesting today, I think it would be best if we took a little trip. Doesn’t even have to be far, we can just go into Chicago and check into a hotel.” Stefan said from his desk. They were still using GC headquarters until they could create a building for Alamain International.

 

Gabi thought about it, she really did not want to leave, but she really didn’t think she had a choice. She was already imagining reporters at Ariana’s school. Even though Ariana knew that Paige was alive, she didn’t want her daughter to be hounded by these relentless fools.

 

 “I think that is probably a good idea, I don’t even want Ari to go to school tomorrow. I’m already envisioning people camped out at her school wanting to know her statement. You know these people can’t help themselves, they’ll do anything for clicks or likes. I just don’t want her to feel weird, you know she’s gone through so much in her life already and I just want her to have as normal life as possible which seems nearly impossible here.” Gabi was already texting Will and Sonny telling them that, she may have to take a short trip with Ari. She had to let the cat out the bag with Will, she didn’t want him thinking that she was doing anything stupid. When she told them, they understood and thought it was the best idea for Ari to be out of town. They could remember what it was like when Will came back to town, he didn’t even have his memories but so many people were hounding him, and Sonny had news crews camped outside of Titan as well as the Kiriakis house.

 

“I’m not gonna let anything happen to her, I promise. You know that she’s important to me, you’re important to me.” It was a privilege for Stefan it to get to know his stepdaughter. He thought that she was the most amazing girl, but he knew he was biased.

 

“I know you wouldn’t, that’s one of the reasons that I love you so much. It doesn’t outweigh how much I hate you though.” Gabi love their banter. She got up from her seat and walked over to him, she climbed in his lap and sat there straddled. It wasn’t the most comfortable position, they both knew that, but Gabi was turned on.

 

“I know it doesn’t outweigh how much you hate me, because you love me more than you hate me.” Stefan had a smirk on his face when he said it. In his mind, if his wife really hated him, she wouldn’t be contorting herself to be close to him.

 

“Is that what you think bobo?”

 

“There we go, I knew you were gonna pull out the nicknames soon. You are so predictable. You see, I like it though… When you get predictable, it usually means that you’re gushing like an open faucet.”  Stefan started chuckling, he picked his wife up and deposited her on the desk. He went up her dress and pull down the waistband of her panties, Gabi pushed herself up a little so he could take it off.

 

Stefan hated how his wife could fluster him so, just taking off his pants became a fumbling affair. Gabi started get impatient and slapped his hands away. She loosened his belt and unbuttoned his hands and use her feet to slide them down.

 

“Look at you, pathetic acting like a bona fide teenager…” Gabi enjoy taunting him, she knew that it made him hard as a rock.

 

She saw the look she liked, he was gritting his lips in his teeth, angry. She loved when he fucked her angry.

 

“I’ll show you teenager…”

 

He pulled his boxers down and gave his dick a couple pumps before he went searching for the warmness that he was addicted to.

 

 Gabi felt a sense of relief, the feeling of him being in her again made her tremble.

 

Her hands wrapped around his neck to bring him closer. He was fucking her with gusto.

 

“Is that all you can do? Definitely right, you’re showing me teenager.” Gabi laughed in his ear; the mocking tone was setting him off.

 

He was fucking her harder, knew how to change his angles. He made sure that every thrust he was grazing her G spot.

 

“Papi Chulo! Muéstrame tu fuerza mi burro!” (Handsome, show me that strength my donkey!)

 

Stefan looked at his wife, she really knew how to set him off. She knew he was weak when she started speaking Spanish. He loved it, it made him fuck her harder.

 

“Mi vida, carajo. te quiero completamente.” (my life, shit. Love you completely.)

 

“Fuck! Baby I’m going to come! Mmm… Stefan… I’m coming… I’m coming baby!”  Gabi looked him in the eye, she could barely see him though. Her eyes started rolling when her climax came.

 

Gabi’s oh face, made Stefan come.

 

When her orgasm left her, she looked at the time...

 

“Maybe we should pick up Ari early from school, we don’t know what they're willing to do. Your mom gave that interview pretty recently.”

 

“Yeah, we should get her. But of course you do this after you made my dick explode.”

 

Gabi rolled her eyes; she really didn’t have time for this. She was not going to act like he didn't want this.

 

Gabi and Stefan went to pick up Ari from school. Eric thought it was going to be the best to take an Uber from the safe house and visit Maggie. He didn’t want her to be blindsided by Nicole's survival. He knew that she wasn’t expecting him, he usually did call ahead. But he hadn't really been using his phone lately. He just knocked on the door. Holly had a huge hat on, her face was obscured.

 

“Daddy, I miss grandma.” It had been some time since Holly had seen Maggie last. The last time they were together they had lemon tea and sandwiches. Holly loved it.

 

“I know you did baby; I know grandma missed you a lot too. She’s going to be so excited to see you, she might cry but it won’t be because she is sad.”

 

Holly nodded just held on to Eric's leg. He had put her behind him. He actually did want it to be a surprise for Maggie.

 

When the door opened, it was Sonny.

 

“Hey Eric, you here to see Maggie?” Sonny had just gotten off of the phone with Gabi, he was still trying to figure out what was going on. He had Ari on his mind.

 

“Yeah, it is actually kind of a surprise. Could you get her for me?” Eric smiled wide which made Sonny feel at ease.

 

Sonny new that Eric was going through a lot right now, his whole life was exploding, and he wished out upon no one. He remembered what it was like when he had to deal with Will being gone.

 

“Yeah, sure man that’s no problem. I think I saw her in the kitchen. I’ll let her know that you’re here.”

 

Sonny walks off, he didn’t see what was behind Eric. Eric just made his way towards the living room, he sat Holly down.

 

Maggie was always happy to see Eric, but when Sonny told her that he had a surprise for her, she was a little puzzled. She made her way towards the living room.

 

She started to talk before she actually got to the living room.

 

“Eric, I heard you had a surprise for me!” Maggie felt in good spirits. She likes surprises.

 

“Lemon tea and sandwiches!” Holly said excitedly.

 

Maggie could hear her granddaughter’s voice, before she could stop her mind from playing tricks on her, she started to sing out loud their little song.

 

“That’s what we eat when it’s grandma and Bits, lemon tea and a little sandwich!” Maggie realized how crazy she sounded.  

 

She saw that Eric was with someone, she was going to apologize and tell them that she didn't know what came over herself. When she got closer, she saw that the person with Eric was a child. The child turned and Maggie thought she was having a stroke.

 

“That’s what we eat when it’s grandma and Bits, lemon tea and a little sandwich!” Holly screamed this out.

 

“Surprise grandma.” Eric couldn’t think of anything else to say. Maggie was in complete shock and he wanted to let her know that this was true, this wasn't some kind of trick or a dream.

 

“Holly…” Maggie got closer, she even bent down and got on her knees, she knew that she might regret it later, but she didn't care at that moment.

 

“Hi grandma, me and daddy brought you lunch, lemon tea and a little sandwich… See!” Holly pointed to the bag.

 

Maggie could care less about food right now; she didn’t know how and she didn't know why but she didn’t care cause Holly was alive.

 

“Can grandma have a hug please?” Maggie was struggling to even breathe. When she felt Holly in her arms and the girl didn't disappear, her cries only got stronger. She dreamed of this day every single night. But she never ever thought it would come true. She was holding her baby again. There was no better feeling in this world to her right now.

 

“I missed you grandma, I missed having my lunch with you.” Holly loves their time, sometimes her grandma would give her cookies too.

 

“Holly, I missed you so much too, my lunches have never been the same.”

 

“How is this possible? How did this miracle happen?” Maggie was really asking herself, but she was looking at Eric and he said he could explain.

 

“Baby, I know you’ve been waiting to have your sandwich, you wanna eat that now?”

 

“I eat when grandma eats.” Holly was hungry but she was always going to wait for her grandma to eat with her.

 

“Of course I’ll eat with you.” Maggie starts opening the bag and pulling out all the food. She gives a sandwich to Holly and little girl starts eating.

 

Maggie tells the little girl that she can watch some TV, she put it on Nickelodeon, she knew that they would have Nick junior on right now.

 

“Eric, how’s… how's this possible?”

 

“Maggie, I haven’t known long, I had to leave town. I did it for the safety of Nicole and Holly.”

 

“Nicole is alive?! Thank God!” Maggie couldn’t think that anymore good news could happen, and it did.

 

“Yes, I felt the same way, Kristen DiMera is behind all of this. She kidnapped them; she was wearing Nicole’s face while she kept her hostage. But that doesn’t matter now because Kristen is going to go to federal prison. She can’t skate by anymore. She didn’t just kidnap Nicole and Holly; she kidnapped my cousin Paige and Vivian Alamain. Nicole is at the police station right now giving her statement. We were in hiding, it wasn't safe while Kristen was running around with Nicole’s face. When we heard that she was caught and put in jail, that’s when we came back. We wanted to tell you, it was Nicole’s first inkling to tell you and Abe, but we didn’t want either of you to be in Kristen’s crosshairs. When Gabi sent Abe to tell us that Kristen had been arrested, we came back.”

 

“This is a lot; how did Gabi know?”

 

“Maggie, Paige had found a way to contact Gabi, Gabi was the one who rescued them.”

 

Maggie had realized after a second that Gabi and Paige were sisters, but she didn’t know that they knew each other. Apparently, there was a lot that she didn't know.

 

“I’m so grateful, I’m so grateful for her. If Gabi hadn’t done this then, who knows what could have happened. If they stop being useful to Kristen, then I would have never seen Holly again. Thank you for this. I thought I heard Holly’s voice in my head. I hear her all the time and I always have to tell myself it's not real. But this is real.” Maggie laughed to herself as she thought about it.

 

“There’s something else you should know; Gabi hadn’t been alone. Ben Weston helped rescue them. I didn’t believe it, but Nicole told me it was the truth. He brought them all back to us, he is Gabi’s head of security and apparently really good at his job. I know he’s done terrible things, things that he will have to live with for the rest of his life and so will the family of all of his victims, but I wouldn’t have Holly and Nicole without him. When I thought Holly was dead, Maggie I did not know how to function, I felt so close to the brink of throwing everything away. But she’s right here, she’s right here doing what kids her age do.” Tears sprang from Eric's eyes. Sometimes he was still in disbelief that Nicole in Holly were alive. If he didn’t live with them, he would be wondering when he was waking up.

 

Maggie was shocked to hear about Ben’s involvement with rescuing her granddaughter. She knew that this young man did reprehensible things, but right now all she could feel was gratitude. She has long known that people are rarely just good or bad, but Ben committed murder. The same person who broke families, reunited hers. She would choose to keep believing that her friend Marlena had to be right, Ben was reformed.

 

“Everything isn’t black and white, sometimes we live in shades of grey. I’m choosing to believe that this man is changing his life. He had to have some kind of good in him to rescue my Holly. And I am thankful for the bit of goodness in him.” It was all Maggie could say. “Now Holly, enough with the TV I’d like to hear about what's been going on in your life. Your daddy tells me that you were on an adventure.”

 

Holly loved her stories, Maggie hung on her every single word. She was just happy to be able to listen to her granddaughter's stories again.

 

It took about 6 hours for everything to hit the fan. When the press got hold of Kristen DiMera's charges, just about half of Salem was in disbelief.  According to the charges, it was alleging that Kristen held Paige Hernandez AKA Paige Larson for nearly four years.

 

It was just about stunning for anyone who knew her. They started to wonder if she was revived by Dr. Rolf, they knew that he had a special relationship with the DiMeras. Then it also made people think to what end, they had no prior relationship, they had nothing in common. People started to wonder why Kristen brought back Paige, but then they started to think because it was also being alleged that Vivian Alamain was also alive thanks to the same woman…

 

When reporters saw Vivian Alamain in the flesh, they had to get her comment. They thought that was probably the most sensational news of the day. But then when they saw the charges that were brought against Kristen, they wondered where in the world was Paige if she was alive. Was she at the police station and no one had noticed?

 

The press was reporting that Holly and Nicole Walker had been kidnapped too. All of Salem had been turned upside down. Ben had picked up Vivian after Lani dropped the woman off, so the press could be thrown of her trail. When Vivian got back to the safehouse all of Kristen’s hostages were out of the grips of Salem.

 

It was proving to be a good thing because the press were camped out of just about everyone’s house who has ever been connected to the victims. When Rafe got home, reporters were screaming from the street asking for a statement, they couldn’t come on private property and it made Rafe smirk. He would be going to an empty house tonight, but he could care less. Paige was safe in a fortress and Gabi was in Chicago with Ari. He gave them one quote.

 

“Today is a good day. That’s all I have to say.”

 

Chapter Text

Salem was buzzing, it had been a big day. So many revelations were coming out. People were shocked to find out that Kristen had masterminded a large kidnapping. She wasn’t even being held in the Salem PD anymore. She had been transferred to a Federal Correctional Facility in Chicago. It seemed as if the FBI had been building a case on her for a while. It really struck Jennifer Horton, she thought she was at the pulse of just about everything happening in town. This happened right under her nose and she couldn’t even explain it. Her sources at Salem PD said nothing to her. She tried to hit up Eli for information, she played the family angle and he didn’t budge.

 

 

She was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that Paige was alive. JJ had been so in love with her. Even though he bounced back eventually, she wishes her son didn’t have that heartbreak. A lot of his progress went down the drain when she died... She couldn’t believe that it wasn’t the case. Kristen had been holding her for over four years. Since Vivian Alamain gave her interview, no one has seen any of the reported victims in the case. Apparently, they had all made statements using the Salem PD offices, and yet no one knew where they were. Some people started to believe that they were probably in some kind of form of protective custody, it made sense because Kristen was a dangerous person. Who knows what allies she had?

 

Jennifer had made a headline with photos of all of the victims. It was also a bit of a call out shot, wondering where they were… If they were all in the clear now, why weren’t they visible? She wanted to see Paige, she wanted JJ to have a chance to see her. She didn’t know what it would accomplish but somewhere inside of her she knew that maybe there was a chance that they could reunite.

 

She liked Paige despite her parentage, she thought of Paige was somewhat of a protégé of hers. She wanted to be a good influence for her, she wanted to be able to counteract Eve Donovan.

 

As Jennifer was thinking of trying to reunite her son and Paige. The woman in question was reading the headline.

 

Paige had known that once they went public, just about everyone in Salem was going to have an opinion. She knew that one of the people who would be voicing it loudly was her ex is mother. The Devereaux family had a newspaper and it was one of the most popular ones in Salem, Of course Jennifer Horton was going to have something to say.  What Paige didn't appreciate was the subtle call out of where they were... It was none of Jennifer’s business where they were.

 

Ben had come back from doing one of his sweeps, he was happy to report that no one was able to follow him back. He was good at spotting a tail, but you could never be too sure. You could have numerous tails especially after everything that went down.

 

He noticed that no one was actually in the main living room. He knew that Vivian had taken Holly to the East wing. He could only surmise that Nicole and Eric were spending some quality time together. He would not be knocking on their door anytime soon.

 

He gave them a quick text just to cover his bases and Eric told him that they were fine. When he made his way back to his room, he noticed that Paige was really focused on her computer.  He knew that he teased Paige a lot about being a nerd, so it wasn’t an unusual sight for her to be on the computer.

 

When she slammed down the laptop, it had surprised Ben.

 

“Baby, you okay?” Ben asked because his girl has always been levelheaded, it took a lot to actually make her mad.

 

“It's just that I don’t appreciate people trying to draw us out. I just read an article that angered me. It was saying that Kristen was behind bars, she wasn’t a threat anymore so where were her victims? Why were they still in hiding? Why does it have to be that we’re in hiding? Why can’t it be that we value our privacy, and we don’t want to be trotted out. All they want is to shove microphones in our faces?! I’m so glad that my sister took Ari to Chicago because they’re camped out at her school right now. They were harassing her teachers asking about me…”

 

“Damn. I’m so sorry bout that baby. I’m sorry that you even have to go through this. You don’t have to do anything you don't want to do. I don’t want you to feel pressured to have to give some kind of interview thinking that's going to make them back off. They should not be at Arianna’s school. That’s really low. They were at GC headquarters too, I could at least understand that, but they shouldn’t be harassing your niece.”

 

“It’s because they’re not getting what they want, they’re not getting my sister. My brother only gave them one statement after they were trying to come on to his property. It’s not enough so they’re just going to keep going down the list until I don’t know they can draw me out or something. I don’t wanna have to give interviews about this. I just want to live my life and I know if I do an interview that people are going to start digging into my life and then they're going to find out about us. I’m not ashamed of us Ben, but the last thing I need is all these people giving me unsolicited advice.”

 

Ben at some point, it was going to have to do with their relationship period it was something that he was afraid of, he really didn’t want Paige changing her mind about them. They were new but he was in love with her. It was a dangerous position to be in, his heart couldn't take it.

 

“I knew as some point that it would have to come back to our relationship...”

 

“Ben, I want you to listen to me. I’m not going back on a relationship. I’m a grown woman, I can decide what I want in my life. I have the agency to make my choices. What I don’t want is people harassing me for those choices under the guise of wanting to take care of me. It’s not because they want to take care of me. It doesn’t even have anything to do with you to be honest. I had lost a little bit of me and my pride and my family. My relationship with JJ, I was trying to emulate his mother. Yeah, I missed mine, she was always working you know that, Jennifer was a stability. I thought Jennifer Horton was amazing, supportive but I grew up. It was great for her son, not for me. I feel like I was some kind of project for her, I was the daughter of her enemy, her rival… I don’t know maybe on some level she thought that she could make me into this potential daughter in law. I was this great influence for her son, because he was wayward, and I kept giving him chances because I didn’t wanna let go of that yet, it was nice to have a mother figure who was there. But it wasn’t real, not for me at least. Now looking back at it, I was lied to so many times and she was always talking about forgiveness… forgiveness… forgiveness. I don’t need anyone to be perfect to love me, that doesn't matter to me.  What I need is trust, that was violated several times, I was young and naïve. My mom told me from the get-go, and I told her that she misunderstood him. My mom grew up with guys like JJ, she knew more than I gave her credit for. And his mom was right there spearheading and cheerleading for him. She was his biggest defender and I get it, who wouldn’t do that for their kid... But baby that hurt me, this was someone important to me telling me that I should forgive him. So that’s what I did, I sacrificed things for him that I said I would never sacrifice for any kind of relationship. My mom is always talking about how I let my Stanford dream go for him. I resented her for it because she was right. And it’s true, ever since I was a little girl, I had always said that I was going to that school. That’s the whole reason that my mom worked so hard, she picked up every project that she could because she promised me that she was going to make my dream happen. She didn't want me to have that feeling of being able to get in, but not being able to go. My mom had been saving up since my dad left. It was one of the reasons that she left me with my grandparents, for my dreams. She saw that JJ was going to be that complication. And of course I don’t agree with all the choices that she made. My mom made some really dumb… crappy choices. But JJ had choices too. He chose to lie and hide things about himself that go beyond my mother. And it’s dumb because of course I was always going to find out. But like someone being young, dumb and thinking that they are in love, I chose to look past it.  The reason I’m telling you this, is I want to be honest with you. I want you to know that I cherish you and I love you. I don’t feel that way about our relationship.  I know we have our complicated history, but I am happy, I promised myself if I ever got out of there that I would only think about what makes me happy and not let misguided choices define me again. I listened to what other people wanted for me, but it wasn’t really for me, it was selfish on their part. I was what was good for JJ. There was no one saying JJ was good for me. I’m good for you and you're good for me. You make me happy, you truly put me first. When I broke up with you, you didn’t pressure me to stay. You thought about my happiness, my feelings… You put me first and I never had that before. You gave me room to breathe and think about things.  I came to the conclusion, I would fight for you, I would fight for our love. There's no one in the world that can come between us. If you can deal with my mom cursing you out and my brother knocking you out cold and still wanting to be with me, there’s absolutely nothing that can tear us apart.” Paige got up from her seat and went to Ben.

 

She took off his leather jacket and placed it on the chair. She went back to him and gave him a kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tiptoed into another kiss.

 

Ben was happy, he would always sacrifice his happiness if it meant that Paige was in a good place. It wasn’t something that came easy, it was something that he learned. It was so easy to talk about what you want and what makes you happy. But if you truly love someone else, sometimes it means that you have to let that love go. He happened to be on the receiving side of something good. Paige had decided to move forward with them, and he felt lucky.

 

He knew that it could have gone the other way, this is a person who didn’t need extra drama in her life. Her life had been a rollercoaster for so long even before she had been kidnapped. All she ever craved was peace and privacy. She was finally getting that and she wasn’t allowing anyone to disrupt it. Eventually they knew that people in Salem were going to find out about their relationship. It was going to be inevitable if they decided that they wanted to live there. He didn’t know what the future holds, a good portion of her family lives there and he was only trying to make her happy. He’s good at tuning out people’s dirty looks, but he was unsure if that was something that she could do.

 

“You know I think we should take a trip…” Ben had been thinking about this for some days. He was hoping that Paige would be on board because he felt it was something that they both needed right now.

 

Chapter Text

“That's unacceptable. The press can’t think that they’re going to have their way by harassing our employees. I get that journalists have a job to do but it’s very clear that they’re not going to find out where Paige is. How would our employees even know where Paige would be?! Abe it’s not like we have some kind of memo for this. We’re trying to protect our employees as well as Paige... I had to take my family out of Salem because I knew this was going to happen...” Stefan was upset, the first thing to start his morning should have been a coffee.

 

Instead he is getting a call from his COO telling him that the press is being relentless. They camped out at GC headquarters wanting a statement.

 

“Stefan, I’m in agreement with you as well. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for the press to be talking to our employees, I know that many are relieved that Gabi has her sister back. But there’s also some concerns. I believe that we need to put out a statement effective immediately. I completely understand the ones for safety, I have Nicole and Holly to think about.” Abe was just as concerned about how rabid people have been in Salem…

 

He always found it ironic that they pretend to want peace and civility and yet they act like vultures with the newest scandal that erupts. As much as he would like for Nicole and Holly to be as far away from this, it just wasn't possible. Kristen used them for her own ends, but they were the ones that had to suffer for it. He had to deal with Maggie wondering what was being done for Holly’s safety.

 

He told Maggie that he had told Nicole that it would be best for her to be as far away from Illinois as possible right now. It did hurt Maggie’s heart that she wasn’t going to be able to see Holly for a while in person, but it was nice to know that she could FaceTime her. It was something that she took to just about every day now. Even if it meant virtually eating lunch with the little girl, it was something she was going to do.

 

When Ben had suggested that he and Paige take a vacation, he actually meant it for everyone in the safe house. He told his boss that it would be nice for Paige to go see her grandparents. Paige was concerned about her grandmother’s cancer. She wanted to be able to see Kimberly just in case, it was something that was serious enough to make her aunt move back, so Ben and Paige thought it would be important for her to see them again. It was something that Eve agreed to. The three of them went to California and had been staying with the Donovans there.

 

Vivian wasn’t one to be scared, but Stefan was responsible for his mother safety. He knew that she would have enjoyed Chicago anyways, she would have been dining out at the places she loved. So he had Vivian join them in their suite. She got along splendidly with Arianna; Arianna loved it because it just meant that she had another grandma.

 

“Alright Abe, I’ll leave it to you to draft something. Could you send me and Gabi an email? I imagine that Gabi probably wants to add her own personal statement.” Stefan asked Abe.

 

“Alright I’ll start getting one drafted. I never thought I’d be one to say it, but I hope another scandal happens so at least this one can take a little bit of a back burner or a breather.”

 

They said their goodbyes and Stefan hung up the phone.

 

“Baby, what’s going on?” Gabi wanted to know because she was livid getting 5000 calls from Arianna’s school.

 

Stefan knew that his wife was concerned, if she was calling him baby instead of bobo, usually meant that she wasn’t in a good mood. he thought to himself why she would be… they had to leave the city. They weren’t exactly holed up in Chicago, but Ari wasn’t in school, and they didn’t even know when she would go back. Gabi had been doing lessons with her since they pulled her out. The fact that journalists weren't letting up, it gave the school that heads up to say maybe they should give Gabi some of the lesson plans so Ari didn’t fall behind.

 

“I’m going to have a put out an official statement, it will be the statement for GC as well as AI. Baby, I’m gonna make sure that everything is okay.”  Stefan got closer to his wife and rubbed her arms to try and comfort her.

 

Vivian had been doing some flash cards with Ari, she could see her son and daughter in law talk about the situation. Vivian didn’t care about things that pertain to her; she knew that she could take care of herself. But she was concerned for Arianna and Holly.

 

Holly was young enough where she didn’t actually have to be in school right now, but Ari did. The girl should be socializing with her friends, she was pretty smart, and the lesson plan could be done but she did make a mention of missing her friends.

 

There wasn’t even a timetable that Gabi and Stefan could tell the little girl of when she would go back to school.

 

“I don’t like it. Yes, a statement is going to be good, but they're going to her school. They are harassing her teachers. The principal calls me every single day, I’m more afraid of her getting kicked out of the school because of the well-being of everyone else.”

 

“If they dare try to do that, they will see what it's like to be dismantled. I’ll own that freaking school.” Stefan was cognizant that his wife made a lot of sense. The school could say that Ari was not worth the distraction and cut their losses.

 

It would be their worst mistake because he was not going to allow his sister to ruin his family. Especially not for a sister that he had no relationship with, she was going out of her way to destroy him. No he was not going to allow Kristen to have any more of a foothold on the lives of anyone he cares about. His sister kept his mother under wraps, he was so torn up at the fact that he had just gotten his mother back only to lose her. It was not something that he was going to take lightly. He wanted her to get the max on every single count. He didn’t want her to have another living day of freedom on the outside.

 

Gabi just kissed her husband, she knew that he had the power to do what he says, she also knew that he had the guts to actually do it. It was one of the reasons she was attracted to him. He made decisions; he wasn’t afraid of how it would be perceived. She loved that he was defending her and her daughter.

 

Stefan was starting to get lost in the kiss, he knew that he had to keep it PG because his stepdaughter was in the room.

 

“If you two need me to watch Ari, I have nothing better to do. It seems that you two do you have some things to catch yourselves up on...” Vivian gave them a wink.

 

It was disconcerting for Gabi to have her mother-in-law being her potential wingwoman. She was doing the absolute opposite of cockblocking. She knew that she should have felt grateful on some level, but she felt confused and awkward.

 

Stefan was in the same boat; his mother was offering to watch his stepdaughter so he could go and fuck his wife. That was probably one of the most peculiar moments he has ever had in life... He could honestly say that, and he’s lived a pretty interesting life up until now. He was still trying to get over the fact that his mother winked at them.

 

“Thank you, mother, we will be in our room.”

 

“Bye mommy, bye daddy Stefan.” Ari didn’t even pay them any mind. She was having fun with her flash cards. “Grandma I think I wanna try the literature flash cards next what do you think?”

 

Gabi just had to pull on Stefan’s hand. As weird as it was to have Vivian help them, she wasn’t going to be one to pass it up. They had told room service to have their lunch sent for 3:00 PM. They had some time to burn until then. What better way to burn some time with doing one of their favorite activities?

 

When Gabi got to their room, she pulled her husband inside. She had locked the door and push him towards the bed.

 

Stefan sat on the end of the bed. He watched his wife; he never really knew who the predator was and who was the prey in this relationship. He guessed it depended on the situation. The way she was looking at him right now, he knew that he was the prey.

 

“You know how I get when you take charge, the way you get when you say you'll destroy someone. The first thing that makes me horny.” Gabi started undoing his pants. She didn’t know why he still wore slacks even though they weren’t going anywhere until dinner.

 

All she wanted to do right now was fuck him, she was going to suck his dick and then she was going to ride him. She was so turned on when he said that he would own the school if they dared to mess with Ari. That’s what she wanted for so long, someone to fight for her and her kid. And mean it and show it. Stefan did that.

 

When she had the weight of his dick in her hand, it felt familiar, she loves the feeling of his hot dick in her hand, it was hard for her. She started to play with his balls, she knew how to make him go wild. She was gentle but firm with them, she licked him from base to tip. She like to tease him before she went in, she’s dragged her tongue on the tip and then started to swallow him inch by inch.

 

When she sucked his dick, she didn’t close her eyes, she likes to tilt her head up and look at him. He knew who is doing this to him and she liked the reaction that she could pull from him.

 

“Baby, you need to stop right now, or I won’t be able to fuck you. This is too good.”

 

Gabi reluctantly got up, she was taking off her underwear and slipped off the dress she had from her shoulders, threw them on the bed and climbed up on him. She pumped her fingers in and out a couple of times, she could feel her wetness. She was still trying to recover from their morning fuck. She took him inch by inch slowly. He wanted to kiss her, but she just pressed her hand to his chest, making sure that his back went to the bed. She wanted to possess the man who looked out for her and her daughter.

 

She started to bend; so she could kiss her husband. She dragged her pussy up and down his dick in slow motion, she liked this position a lot. Stefan got a little restless, he took his feet from the floor and planted them on the edge of the bed. It gave him the foothold he needed to start fucking his wife hard and fast, he could feel her surprise when her pussy started clutching him. He was making her moan, but he told her that she needed to keep it down. Didn’t want Ari to start trying to investigate.

 

“Stefan…fuck!” Gabi was climaxing out of nowhere. She didn’t expect the surprise move.

 

Stefan kept pounding her even though she had already orgasmed, he was searching for his relief. He loved being in Gabi’s velvety walls. He thrusted hard in her and started to cum deep within her. Something animalistic ran through him. He looked at his wife and could see her trying to recover from her orgasm. She was shaking like a leaf. He slipped out of her and she stayed close to her curled towards him. He planted kisses to her forehead as her orgasm elapsed. He held her close.

 

Stefan had fixed himself and got his wife’s dress and underwear from the far side of the bed and she put it on. He held her close, he didn’t think he could get enough of this. His wife was tough and a handful, but he knew she was underneath, and she was a woman who craved love and affection. While he cuddled her, she let out peaceful sighs.

 

A knock on the door spooked Gabi so badly, he could feel her flinch, her eyes shot open in alarm. She started to wheeze loudly. It scared Stefan.

 

“Mommy… Daddy Stefan, lunch is here.” Ari announced from behind the door.

 

“Okay, sweetie. Thank you.” Stefan responded to Ari.

 

Right now Stefan had to take care of his wife. It looked like Gabi could have a panic attack.

 

“Baby it's okay… it’s okay… you’re safe. You’re with me… it’s Stefan.” Stefan repeated himself over and over, he was trying to calm his wife. Rubbing circles into her back. It was disconcerting to hear someone scream silently. He could feel that she was still crying, and he let her. He let her go through the feelings that she needed to go through. These were the times he started to feel his most guilty. He helped cause this.

 

He never ever went out of his way to scare her as a joke, he knew that she would jump out of her skin, her heart would start racing. he was always afraid that something like this would happen. So he was always doing his best to minimize that, but real life happens sudden sounds and sudden movements happen. Aris knock just to tell them they had lunch ready was triggering his wife. He just held her tight like she wanted when these things happen, he would kill people if they hurt his wife, but he was the reason that his wife hurting. It was hard for him to reconcile that. When he did what he did, he had no regard for Gabi, she wasn’t his wife then. His conscience now was telling him that it didn’t matter if Gabi was his wife or not, someone living with PTSD from his actions was horrible. But the fact that this was his wife made it all the much worse.

 

“I’m okay now. I just need to go to the bathroom and find some eye drops to put in my eyes, I don’t want Ari to see that I was crying.” Gabi let go of her husband and got up.

 

She threw some cold water on her face to help with some of the puffiness. She put some eye drops into hopefully make her eyes look more normal.

 

When she came out of the bathroom, she noticed that Stefan wouldn’t look at her.

 

“Stefan…”

 

Stefan still wasn’t looking at his wife.

 

“Yes Gabi…”

 

“I need you to stop, we can’t change the past. It is what it is, but I can’t have you doing that avoiding thing when this happens.”

 

“But baby.”

 

“Stefan don’t do that. I just need you to be my husband and to help me get through it okay. I don’t need your guilt, already had that. What I need is your comfort and your love to help me get through it. Is that something you can give me?”

 

“Always…”

 

“Okay then, let’s go eat lunch.” Gabi started marching out their room with her regular boss lady strut when she's at work.

 

Stefan couldn’t help but admire his wife, the kind of strength that she possessed had him in awe sometimes.

 

“Stefan, rapido!” Gabi had turned around she did not hear her husband moving and she knew that he was checking out her ass. She knew Ari was going to get restless if she couldn’t start eating her lunch. It had always been a Hernandez rule if they were eating a meal together that everyone had to be at the table before they broke bread.

 

Stefan felt some of the guilt dissipate when his wife was back to her normal self. He knew eventually he would have to let this go or find a way to better deal with it. Right now he was just going to try and have a meal with his family, and he couldn’t think of anything better to do at that moment.

 

Chapter Text

Gabi refused to slow down; she had no urge to let them lose momentum. Even though they were not in Salem right now, business never cares. She was looking to quash DiMera in the ground. She didn’t just want to be successful, she wanted to vanquish her enemies.

 

Chad had taken the opportunity to try and swing and swing hard while Stefan was in jail. Too bad he wasn’t smart enough to make it land. She absolutely loved being in the room watching every single person let out a groan or a sigh when she said checkmate. They thought that they could muscle her out and try and steal her business. She wasn’t allowing it to happen, she would never let herself be victimized by anyone in that room again. The Shins, acted so recklessly, if they had just kept her CEO, then they could have averted everything.

 

But they listened to that idiot Chad, he thought that he had such a foolproof plan. He came back with a quickness, but she saw him coming. She made plans because after Andre screwing her… She had Justin comb through that contract like she was using a fine-tooth comb. She had Stefan’s money at her disposal. She was going to win, no matter what the cost was.

 

They thought that they could use Stefan’s investment without her input, they were sniffing glue if they thought she was going to take it lying down. She wasn’t going to be pushed out the room while they used her husband’s money and her company to win.

 

She was enjoying the fact that DiMera was still in freefall, they were like chickens running around without the head. Chad’s tenure as CEO was going exactly like she thought… horribly.

 

She just sipped her beautifully made Cuban coffee from the French press. Stefan had made her an immaculate cup of coffee just the way she liked it… plain. She was doing work for GC remotely, she was still meeting with for executives, she didn’t mind doing meetings via Google Hangouts. She was going to make GC reign supreme.

 

“What's going on in that mind of yours? You have that world domination look.”  Stefan was using his tablet to see what was going on in the global markets. Even though they had AI, he had a diversified portfolio. He had stocks in many companies around the world, it was how he made the bulk of his money. He was going to need that if he was going to invest in the business. A business that he was going to make into an empire for his whole family.

 

“You know me so well Bobo.” Gabi like that she and Stefan we’re on the same wavelength. They need it to be seamless, at least when they were in business mode.

 

“So I see someone is getting back to normal.” Stefan was amused, he liked his wife to be insulting, he thought it was cute…  it was their version of foreplay.

 

“Yeah, I’m not going to let what’s going on in Salem stop us. I want to crush DE and Titan. Simple as that and I’m living for the moment. We may not be as successful as Titan, but the bulk of their money comes from shipping. All of their other businesses, GC makes more money than them. I’m satisfied with our one company doing as well as every single company they have combined except one arm period of course we’re not going to be shipping and honestly, I don’t want to enter that space anyways. I want us to stay in our lane and execute that well. I just want to annihilate DE so much for what they did to us. They thought that they could use your money and my company without either of us being there.” Gabi loved being honest with her husband, she knew that she was cutthroat, she knew that she had to be because people were coming for them.

 

“You know you make me hard when you talk like that.” Stefan was doing his best not too though. As much as he would love to fuck his wife, he was on the clock and he didn’t play about business as much as Gabi did, even more so.

 

 

“Down boy. I’m really glad that Vivian is here, I never thought I would say something like that, but I am. She’s giving us the time and ability to focus on doing what we do by helping Ari with her lessons. I feel like we are destined to really succeed baby. We’re in such a great position and we have so much momentum. I was thinking of something…”

 

“Well don't leave me in suspense…”

 

“I was thinking, I think it would be the best idea for us to also make a satellite office in Chicago, I know it seems a little weird because of the proximity of Salem however I think it’s smart for us. Chicago is a hub for business. Even though Salem is pretty close, it’s still not really Chicago, I know it’s Chicagoland but it’s different. I think we will be more viable, more attractive if we have a satellite office in Chicago as well. We will have more access to some of the best minds to come join us as we expand. Think about it baby if we are going to have subsidiaries and partnerships. Wouldn’t it be better if we had a bigger hub? A bigger presence in a metropolis? We need to be attractive for perspective employees. With all of the firms that are in Chicago… all of the companies that are based here or have satellite offices here. We have to compete with them and be a farther distance, we need to be a perennial powerhouse. It’s cute if you are going to be a family organization headquartered in Salem.  but you know probably better than me that the major cities are where the major players are at or willing to go.”  Gabi hoped that she was making sense to her husband, she knew that Stefan had his heart in Salem now because that’s where their family lived. But she needed him to be the shark that he was and not think about her or Ari. She needed him to be focused on winning at least on a business front.

 

Stefan was appreciating his wife’s input; she was thinking rationally and being savvy about it. He couldn’t argue with her logic. It was sound. It didn’t matter how well Salem attracted business. There was always going to be more opportunities for employees in Chicago proper, of course there are companies headed all throughout Chicagoland, but the concentration of businesspeople is in Chicago, who are not going to be willing to travel outside of Chicago into the suburbs because there will always be a job that will say you don’t need to.

 

The thing about being a businessperson was knowing what you needed to succeed, he’s been in some of the world’s biggest business cities and his wife was right. It was going to put them in the driver’s seat to have better access to a more qualified pool of applicants.

 

There were many reasons why a lot of fledgling businesses were in Salem, some of it had to deal with nepotism, other reasons of those in charge not taking the business as serious as it should be, it wasn’t by accident that a lot of these companies go through changes in leadership because they can't function correctly. They didn’t have the right eyes; they were pretty much allergic to success because business was not at the forefront of what they were doing. It was one of the reasons that he was able to seamlessly become CEO of DiMera.

 

It was also because of the same ineptitude that his wife who was pretty much the racehorse of the company was given the axe. Just about everyone he has ever met at DE and Titan we’re bathing in mediocrity and had endless money at their disposal to fail. The instability of CEOs and presidents of the company happening every three to six months was not viable way to conduct business. He did not want that for AI. They could have their headquarters in Salem, but they also need to have a headquarters in Chicago. They were going to do it right; every arm of their business was going to be with the top businesspeople in that sector. He wanted to be seen as incredibly serious, the only thing that he wanted the expectation of was success.

 

It had to start at the top, they have to be about their shit 24/7.

 

“Baby you're right. We can have our headquarters in Salem, but we will need at HQ in Chicago. If we are going to be diversified and have multiple companies under our umbrella, we are going to need the best people. People from big cities like big cities, we can’t expect someone who is from LA or New York to want to come to Salem, it is a city, but it is not the same. People are going to want that hustle and bustle. We need to be attractive for our perspective candidates, we are going to be competing with businesses that have headquarters in Chicago. If we want to be taken seriously it needs to be here. Salem is always in the news for something ridiculous, people are not going to want to live there. Always something wacky in a news or a fucking serial killer on the loose. Yeah, if there’s a serial killer in Chicago, people feel a little bit safer knowing that how many people live here versus somewhere in obscure Chicagoland city that is always in the news for something so freaking weird. I don’t know how I would convince someone to want to live in Salem... I don’t think we could actually pay someone to live in Salem.” Stefan knew that it was smart, calculated decisions that was only going to put them in a better position.

 

“I’m glad you feel the same way. I really want us to be successful.  I want us to have a chance to really create our own legacy. I want Ari to have something more than we had growing up. She’s such an independent girl, and we could build something for her, she could be a force to be reckoned with. I want her to see us as role models of things that she could achieve.” That’s all Gabi had ever dreamed of. She wanted to do the best she can because she wanted Ari to have a better life than she grew up in, than her siblings grew up in.

 

It didn’t mean that Ari wouldn’t have challenges, or they were trying to take away the difficulties in life. She was just trying to give her daughter better options than she was given. Her mother always told her that you always want to do as well as you can in life so you can make it a little easier for your children.

 

Stefan softened at the mention of his stepdaughter. Ever since he had been with Gabi, he knew that Ari was a package deal. He was so in love with his wife, he would do the best he could for Ari. It was a given… He loved that little girl. There wasn’t anything that he wouldn’t do to protect her, give her the best leg in life that he could.

 

“Ari is going to be able to do whatever she wants, we are going to have the means to supply that, we do… But it will be more than that. She is going to see us in action and she’s going to say ‘man. my mom is so badass, I want to be just like her.’” Stefan had reached for his wife’s hand.

 

He didn’t get to hold on to it long because Gabi got up so quickly. She started running to the bathroom and Stefan went after her.

 

When he had gotten into their suite, he saw his wife hugging the toilet bowl. She was already flushing down the evidence. She was moaning clutching her stomach and it made Stefan concerned.

 

“Baby, what’s going on?” Stefan started feeling Gabi’s head and neck, she was a little warm.

 

 “I don’t know. One minute I was fine and then I just felt a weird rumble in my stomach, and it was starting to go up my throat, so I just ran to the bathroom. Maybe it was something that I ate?" Gabi was trying to think back about all of her meals that she recently had.

 

 “Gabi we’ve been eating the same meals, if you were sick from the meals then all of us would be sick.”

 

Gabi knew the Stefan had to be right, they were sharing the same food so if she was eating something contaminated then it meant all of them were eating something contaminated and no one got sick except her. She started to think to herself the last time she felt like this she was pregnant with Ari, but it couldn’t be the case… Could it?

 

She got a sad look on her face, it made Stefan frown. It was as if Gabi got even sadder.

 

“What’s going on? I need to know how I can help.”

 

 “I was thinking of the last time I felt like this and it was when I was pregnant with Ari. It was stupid to even think about… I can’t waste my time thinking about that Stefan.” Gabi started hugging herself, it was a stupid thought, but it was an innocent one.

 

“Baby, it wasn’t stupid thought, you were just thinking about the last time you exhibited symptoms like this. I don’t think its food poisoning because we would have all felt something by now not just you. I know that the doctor said that you wouldn't be able to have children but maybe we need to get a test.”  Stefan hugged his wife closer to him, he was careful. He kissed her temples and let her just absorb the comfort from him.

 

He felt his guilt mounting but he had to push it down for now because that's not what his wife wanted or needed in that moment. It was a reality for them, but somewhere deep down in him was thinking that maybe she was pregnant.

 

“Okay. We have to get a pregnancy test, why don’t we tell your mom that we want to have night have dinner just the two of us and her and Ari stay in the hotel room and order room service. We don’t need to stay out long you know, maybe just an hour and a half for two hours just so they know that we are actually eating and not hiding something. I’m too scared to take it here and have one of them find it. Your mom is not going to let it go. If there’s a little Alamain in me as she’s going turn crazy. And I also don’t wanna get Ari’s hopes up.”

 

Stefan just kept his wife close he just nodded; he knew that she was right. If his mom was found out, she would ask 100 questions and would probably go nuts if there was another member of their family coming soon.

 

“Alright, so if they ask us any questions in the meantime what should we say?”

 

“I’ll just say that I got my period and I felt it and I didn’t wanna ruin my underwear. You didn’t know why I was running and you were concerned.” It was a very plausible answer, it was something that she has said to Ari before.

 

“Okay. That’s what we’ll do.”  Stefan got up from the floor so he could help his wife.

 

Even though it was incredibly premature, he couldn’t help but feel a little hopeful inside. Even though it was a long shot, his wife could be pregnant. He knew down the line that she wanted to have kids, but that ability was taken away when she got beaten up in prison. He was always going to feel guilty about sending her there. He was dealing with that reality with his wife's PTSD, if there was one less thing that she had to be reminded of that time it would be nice if she was able to get pregnant.

 

Not just because he wanted to expand on their family but to give her hope again that avenue wasn’t closed to her.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Gabi was petrified.  She and Stefan did go through with their plan. She had bought a couple of pregnancy tests and it was weird, they all said different things. One of them said positive, the other two said inconclusive. As she ate her dinner, she couldn’t taste anything.

 

When they had gotten back to the hotel room, she went straight for her room. She felt like she was on autopilot. She took a shower and got ready for bed without saying a word.

 

Stefan was pretty upset himself. He didn’t know what was going to happen, he thought it was going to be a simple yes or no. They took multiple tests an the first one said yes and the other two said inconclusive. He hated uncertainty; you couldn’t make a conclusion based on uncertainty! That was risk… and he hated the fact that risk was being involved in knowing if he had a child or not.

 

The stakes were higher, this could affect his wife's sanity and he didn't like that this was emotionally torturing her… He tried to comfort her during dinner, and he knew that he was failing. How do you comfort someone who is going through something like this?

 

He knew that there was only one way to actually get answers. He booked an appointment with the top    OB in Chicago. They were going to get to the bottom of this. They deserve to have a clear-cut answer. If his wife wasn’t pregnant, they would deal with it and if his wife was, they needed a game plan.

 

Stefan knew that he had to throw his mother off, he knew that she was suspicious because they had dinner all by themselves and then said that they were going to be looking at sites for the Chicago office.  At first Vivian wanted to go but Stefan told her no, Vivian didn’t appreciate that. She felt that she should be included about AI. Stefan conveniently reminded her that they needed someone to watch Ari.

 

Gabi didn’t really want Ari out and about unless she was there. Vivian could understand from a parent standpoint what her son and daughter in law we're going for, but it didn't mean that she had to be happy about it. She made them promise to not make any decisions and bring her information on all of the sites that they were thinking of.

 

Stefan said okay so she could get off his back.  They were at the doctor’s office waiting on the results. Gabi was silent, she didn’t say anything when she woke up or as she got ready for the day.

 

She didn’t even make a sound when the nurse started drawing her blood. She didn’t know what to say, she was speechless. She had no urge to try and make conversation. She only had one thing on her mind, and she was scared of knowing but brave enough to follow through.

 

Gabi was happy that Stefan chose a place with its in-house lab. The doctor said that it could be a few hours at the earliest before they got a result. Gabi said she wasn’t leaving until she got an answer. She could not focus on looking at buildings or work with that question looming in her mind.

 

She felt like she couldn't move on until they were definitively sure. She hated to think about the possibility of being pregnant. She didn’t want to go down that road and start planning for things and only to be crushed by news that she wasn’t. She needed answers, she wished that the at home pregnancy tests were able to give her a conclusive answer.

 

So there she was, just sitting there in the waiting room. She couldn’t check her phone; she didn’t respond to any emails or work calls. She saw that her husband could, but they were in a different boat. She wasn’t able to split her focus right now. She felt like she was holding on to this deep breath and she was underwater.

 

“The doctor is ready for you.”  The nurse announces, only Stefan hears them.

 

“Baby, the doctor is ready for us.” Stefan had to give his wife a little nudge.

 

They just follow the nurse; they end up in the doctor’s office and the tension feels thick in the air.

 

Gabi knew that she was waiting for an answer, but she almost didn’t want to hear it. She feared the result.

 

They sat down and waited for the doctor to speak.

 

“Mr. and Mrs. DiMera, I have the results of the blood test. It’s conclusive and it shows that you're about 10 to 12 weeks along.”

 

Gabi just sat there stunned and in disbelief. She never thought that she would hear these words again and this time she was ready for a child. She was in the right space of her life to be doing this and it felt so good. But she was so scared.

 

“How is this possible? I had my period last month…” Gabi wasn’t really challenging the news; she was just confused because she remembered vividly having her period last month.

 

“That wasn’t a true menses, sometimes when women are going through pregnancy, it is perfectly normal to have some kind of spotting. Did you notice that this was a much lighter period compared to ones that you’ve had in the past?”

 

“Yeah, it was but the doctor that I was seeing before said even if you have light spotting it counts.” Gabi’s period got complicated after she got beat up. Her doctor said that she could have a new version of what normal was.

 

“That is true, any uterine lining descending would always count as a cycle. But what I believe is that your body was preparing itself for pregnancy. Sometimes it could mimic a cycle because you are used to seeing blood however it's different kind of shedding. I’ve had our lab technician double check. You are most certainly pregnant, and it is viable. If you would like you can have an ultrasound you can. It’s still pretty early so the ultrasound technician can tell you where your child is within your uterus.” The doctor was being compassionate, she got a brief rundown of her patient’s medical history. She could understand how someone could be skeptical after the trauma that her body had been through.

 

“I can see my baby?” Gabi was still trying to wrap her head around the result, bed having an ultrasound would make it real. It was one thing to have someone tell you, but it was another thing too look at the monitor and see her child.

 

“Yes. You can have an ultrasound if you like and even a photo. What I would like to discuss though is what your pregnancy will look like going forward.”

 

“Doctor. I’ll make sure that my wife is taking it easy. This is news that we never thought we would hear.” Stefan was excited. He couldn’t change the past… But this baby was a silver lining, an unexpected gift that he never thought he nor his wife would have.

 

“I can believe that you want the best for your wife. But we need to have a concrete prenatal plan for her.  Yes, Mrs. DiMera you are pregnant. This is also a high-risk pregnancy because of the trauma that your reproductive organs have gone through and your body in general. Your stress needs to be nonexistent. I understand your yearning for a child. What I want to do is make sure that you are able to carry your child to term. I’m going to set you up with some prenatal vitamins and some guidelines that I want both of you to have. This is going to be the easiest part of your journey. I know that you have a high-powered career and that comes with stress, I’m not telling you to take off of work, I understand being a career woman myself, what I am asking you is for you to share your load because I know you want to make this child your priority. You wear more than one hat, and that’s fine. I just want to make sure that you understand.”

 

Gabi listened to her doctor’s words. She didn’t care what she had to do. She was going to make sure that her child was going to make it. She was gonna do everything in her power to make sure that this pregnancy wasn't difficult for her.

 

“Doctor, I would do anything. Nothing in this world matters more to me than my family. I didn’t think that I would ever hear those words again. I have cried many nights because of this. I don’t care what I have to do, there’s nothing more important to me right now and then to make sure that my baby lives. Whatever plan you want us to do, we will do it. We will definitely do it.” Gabi burst into tears. It was such an emotional rollercoaster for her right now. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that in half a year she was going to bring a child into the world. She had already made it a goal in her mind that her baby was going to survive.

 

Stefan reached out and took his wife's hand. He was going to support her in anything she needed, he couldn’t believe that he was having a child. It was a dream for him, he spent his life chasing after money and success and delayed the chance for a future with kids. He used to get mad at himself because he had so many chances and he let them all go.

 

But he didn’t feel that way anymore, it wasn’t the right time for him, he wasn’t with the right person yet. When the doctor said the Gabi was pregnant, all he could feel was that this was it. He never felt a moment so right before.

 

After the doctor set them up with their prenatal plan and Gabi’s vitamins here, they went to the ultrasound technician so they can see their child.

 

The ultrasound techs showed them where their child was, the child was very small at this point but very much there. They got a photo and Gabi held it to her heart for about 2 minutes. She felt frozen. It was only them in the examination room.

 

“I’m so glad we got answers. I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I just stared at the wall. But I couldn’t say a word, I was so scared… I was afraid if I said anything, I might jinx everything. We're having a baby. I can’t believe I’m saying that.” Gabi was starting to come back to her senses.

 

Stefan knew that Gabi didn’t mean to ignore him, she was just in her head. Trying to not get her hopes up, he didn’t blame her. It’s a hard dose to swallow when you’re told that you can’t have children and then it seems that you’re being tricked into thinking that you may be can.

 

But it was true, they were having a child and he felt like he was renewed.

 

“Yeah, we're having a baby I thought marrying you was the best decision ever made... And it was, because now we’re having a kid, I couldn’t think of anyone else in the world I want to have a child with than you.”

 

They left the doctors office hand in hand, they still had to do their appointments. They had to get a headquarters for AI. They were just going through the motions with their real estate agent. Even though they were doing their jobs, it was on both of their minds that they were having a child together.

 

Gabi told him that she wanted to hold out as long as possible. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the news, she wanted to see how long she could last without having to say a word.

 

Stefan didn’t care, he wasn’t going to fight about the timeline that they told people. Right now the only people who needed to know where him and her. They would figure out the rest later, he was cognizant knowing that he shouldn't be stressing his wife out and that was the most important thing right now.

 

They had been gone most of the day, they had to get back because they were eating out tonight, they promised Vivian that she could choose the restaurant if she stayed with Ari in the hotel all day. They ventured back to the hotel feeling like they were on top of the world. It was the best feeling that Gabi had in awhile, everything she was working so hard for is coming true and she wasn't going to let anyone, or anything stop her I’m getting what she desired.

 

Chapter Text

Going to California was definitely something that Paige needed. It was amazing to feel as if she could breathe and not have anyone hound her. She forgot how much she could miss being out in public, she was out in the world again and she wasn't hiding… much of this last half decade has been hiding for her.

 

She felt comfortable here because no one knew who she was, the problems of Salem didn’t reach here. She could do what she liked without having to worry about someone hounding her or someone in her face. She didn’t have to worry about someone trying to ask her about things that she could never make promises about.

 

What she liked most of it was being able to hold Ben’s hand in public and not feel as if she would be bum rushed with people ready to pull them apart. She could kiss him and hug him and not feel as if the world was watching them. At most, people would probably think that they were overly generous with their PDA. It made her feel normal; she was normal 20 something able to make out with her boyfriend without feeling anxiety.

 

She felt freedom and it was such an intoxicating feeling, after being holed up by Kristen for so long, it was as if everything she did was a act of rebellion. She was moving on from that horrible chapter in her life. Every day that passed only made it easier to bear. She had her mother; she had her grandparents, it was such an emotional sight for her to see her grandmother.

 

She loved Kimberly so much and it was hard for her to even think about what it would have been like to finally gain her freedom and then find out that her grandmother was dead. Her grandfather Shane pulled her aside and told her that she was a miracle. He told her that she was a miracle, and she was giving her grandmother this internal will to fight.

 

It made Paige breakdown in tears because she wasn't ready to lose her grandmother. She lost four years of her life and it was four years away from the people she loved most. She was playing catch up, she found out that her aunt had a child and she loved playing with Tate. She loved her cousin so much and being able to see him, and him asking her questions. She got to see his inquisitive nature and how loving he could be.

 

She was missing out on all of this and one part of her was so bitter and upset, she missed out on so much, life is passing her by and she was stuck as if she was walking in molasses. Another part of her felt hopeful, their family got bigger and she was able to see it, be a part of it.

 

She used to think about what it would be like to see everyone again when she was still in captivity, she got so mad at herself for dreaming because many times it felt like there was no escape. But those dreams gave her hope, she probably would have never gotten out if she didn’t have those dreams, she would have just felt hopeless and let them do whatever they want with her.

 

It was an adjustment for her grandparents to see her and Ben together. It was really concerning for her grandmother and Paige didn’t know how to really explain it. Her grandmother shrinked her. She was always asking Ben questions; it wasn't something that Paige could blame or fault her grandmother for.

 

Her grandmother was a psychiatrist and Paige knew that her relationship is complicated. She’s romantically involved with a man who strangled her, it didn’t matter if Ben was remorseful, he did horrible things to many people, including them.

 

When Kimberly finally felt comfortable or as comfortable as she could be with their relationship, it helped Shane be able to reconcile Paige’s relationship with Ben.

 

He knew that he couldn’t force her to do anything, and the last thing he wanted to do was risk his relationship with his granddaughter when he just got her back.

 

Paige was thankful for her family at least trying to accept Ben, it meant the world to her because Ben was important to her.

 

It did help that Ben was honest and forthright with them and told Kimberly that anything that she wanted to know was no problem to him, he gave her the permission to speak with Marlena. He knew that Kimberly valued Dr. Evans opinion as a colleague and as a friend.

 

Even though Paige came to visit her grandparents and catch up, she didn't want to live under the same roof. She wanted to be able to be as amorous as she liked with Ben at a moment’s notice.

 

Ben rented them a beach house, it was nice for them to have their privacy and Paige loved that he listened to her. She told him one of the things that she missed most about Miami was the fact that they could go to the beach, she couldn’t remember what it was like to feel sand in between her toes.

 

It was something that she missed and being California would alleviate that. Ben had decided that it would be best for them to be close to the beach, he didn’t know how many times they would realistically go but he wanted Paige to have the chance to go whenever she liked. When he told her that surprise, she jumped in his arms and he felt like he did the right thing.

 

Ben had something up his sleeve, he wanted to do something nice for Paige. They were usually together just because he was very much concerned about her safety even if she was far away from Salem, he didn’t hound her and wasn’t at her back 24/7 but he wasn't ready to be out of reach.

 

It was scary for him to admit that he didn't know what he would do if she went missing. She never said anything about if he was hovering, he knew that she would say something if it was something she didn't want. When she visited her grandparents’ home, he gradually started increasing his distance.

 

Even though he loved being with Paige, he didn’t want to make her feel as if she was being held captive again, he knew that he wouldn't be able to be super far from her, but he also didn’t want to always be in her face making her feel trapped in a different way.

 

He knew that Shane had more skills than he would ever possess so he was alright with having a little distance from her.

 

He knew that it was something that she was going to need, she needed to feel independent, and he knew that he couldn't smother her because it was not going to be good for their relationship in the long run. It was something that he spoke to Doctor Evans about… he did have some insecurities about the longevity of their relationship not just because of their relationship to each other but how would be viewed by outside people.

 

He was doing everything he could to not fuck up this relationship with his hang ups.  It was one of the biggest reasons that he wanted to have the surprise dinner for Paige. He was trying to be romantic and all of that, he knew that she liked that shit.

 

He also knew that it was something that she never really got to have even before she was kidnapped. He wanted to be the one to give her these experiences. He would have never said he was overly romantic person, he was raised by Clyde Weston... But he was Googling and finding out ways to be romantic...

 

Paige was spending the day with her family again, so it gave him time to burn. He decided that he was going to get some candles and light their whole deck. The beach house that they rented had a beautiful deck… That gave way to a beautiful view of the beach.

 

The sun was starting to set, and Ben hoped that Paige would be coming soon. The sky looked it's most beautiful right now, the swirls of all of these colors felt like it was setting the mood. He started to transfer the food from that restaurant that Paige loves so much. He put food covers on them so it could stay warm, and no kind of bugs or insects would get in their food before they did.

 

Since he was outside, he could hear a car winding down their road. It was Ben’s ritual to always greet Paige when she came home. It was also something that had to do with safety, he was always cataloging what cars passed by their house. There was one thing that Stefan told him to never underestimate and that was the reach of Kristen.

 

He was outside their door and he was waving goodbye to Shane, Theresa and Eve as Paige was walking up to him.

 

“Hey baby, how’s your day?” he said as he gave her a kiss.

 

All Paige could think of was she loved being greeted like this… She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged her body close to his as she kissed him some more.

 

It was always intriguing to her how much she could want him. When they broke apart, a blush creeped up on her face.

 

As they walked into their house, he helped her get out of her jacket.

 

“It was really good, I was on babysitting duty because my aunt and my mom wanted to have a girls day which really just means day drinking my poor grandad but it was really fun. I love being with Tate he’s so cute and fascinating. We went to the park and it was just so nice to be able to do that and be with him.” Paige was testing the waters with Ben; she knew that he was ultimately always concerned about her safety, but she didn't want to have to feel like she had to call him to go to the park.

 

She just looked at him after she spoke, she was wondering if he was going to get upset that she didn't tell him.

 

Ben was contemplating what Paige was talking about, he did have concerns of her going out on her own, but he also knew that he had to let go some. It was normal for anyone still want to go to the park, by themselves if they wanted to. He knew that he would go ballistic if something were to happen to her, but he also knew that she was looking for her freedom, and she wasn’t looking for it to have conditions. At home it would be something else because it was different circumstances but here he knew that he didn’t want to be one of those people that Paige saw as an obstacle to her freedom. He didn’t want to be her jailer.

 

“Are you mad?” Paige’s words cut through his thoughts.

 

He realized that he had been silent the whole time and she looked nervous.

 

“No I’m not mad. I was just thinking. You shouldn’t have to check in with me every single moment of your life, I don’t want that for us, and I don’t think it’s sustainable. We’re not in Salem, you’re not being stifled here, and I know if something happened that you wouldn't hesitate to call me or your granddad. And I know you can take care of yourself and your cousin if need be.  Baby, I want you to do whatever you feel comfortable with, I’m always going to feel protective over you. I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love you, but I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong, because you’re not. I don’t want you to second guess yourself because you think is something that I may not like.  You are one of the most pragmatic people I’ve ever met, so I know you don’t go looking for danger or stupid, that’s me… I’m glad that you feel comfortable and safe enough to take those steps.”  Ben wasn’t just saying this because it was something he knew that Paige would want to hear, he meant it. He knew that Paige would want to be assertive with her life and wasn't looking to cower. She wasn’t going to look to him to see if something was right, she could discern that for herself. She was a grown woman and incredibly intelligent.

 

He also knew that she had 50 different scenarios with her grandfather if she were ever in trouble.

 

“Thank you for trusting me, you don’t know what it’s like to hear if from you that I’m capable.”

 

“Baby I know you’re capable, I’ve seen you with your knife. I have a surprise for you.”

 

“Ben, it better not be pepper spray from my keychain.” Paige knew what Ben’s idea of romance was…

 

Ben just guided her towards the deck as he chuckled at her joke. He actually did get her pepper spray for her keychain but that wasn’t the surprise that was just a typical Wednesday.

 

When they finally got to the deck, he removed his hands from her face and Paige opened her eyes.

 

She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, there were candles everywhere… all over the deck. They didn’t even need to have the lights on because the collective flame and the sunset was all they needed.

 

“What’s all of this?” Paige’s voice was exasperated because this was so sweet and unexpected.

 

“I know you like those romantic comedies and all that, so I just wanted to have dinner with my girlfriend and make it look kind of nice… You like it?” Ben was starting to get a little flustered because he was nervous. He wanted to actually impress Paige, so her answer really mattered right now.

 

“Like it? Baby I love it, I love it so much. No one’s ever done anything like this for me.” Paige felt elated, she had Gabi in her ear telling her what she deserved to have from a man.

 

It was when she was having her doubts about getting back with JJ, Paige ultimately didn’t listen, but she took it to her sister’s words, her sister told her that she was worth romance and deserve to have these kinds of experiences that they would watch on TV.

 

“I’m so glad you liked it. I had to go to 2 stores to get all these candles. I was asking all these sales ladies so many questions and they were so kind to help because I told him I wanted to have a special night for you.” Ben felt that he was out of his depth but it was nice to feel support even if it was from people he didn’t even know. It did help that he was spending money, but he knew that they really wanted to help him.

 

“You went to two different stores?” Paige was happy with the kind of effort he was putting.

 

“Yeah I did, I like measured the whole deck and wanted to make sure that I had enough candles to make it look nice. You wanna have a seat my lady?” Then gestured to Paige’s seat.

 

Paige just thought that Ben was a huge dork, but she could admit that when he called her his lady that it made her eyelashes flutter.

 

“Yes, I believe I do…”

 

 Ben helped Paige into her seat and then went into his own.

 

When he removed the meal covers from the plates, Paige knew exactly where he went to get their food and she was so happy.

 

She was so happy that he went all out and went to one of her favorite restaurants and got her favorite dish. The food was so delicious and she got to see the sun go down.

 

 They talked more in depth about the day they had and both of them had such wide smiles.

 

“Does this mean I’m gonna get lucky tonight?” Ben wiggled his eyes suggestively as he asked his girlfriend if he was going to get some.

 

Paige just laughed because of course It wouldn’t be Ben if he didn't say something goofy.

 

 “You are a donkey. I think it’s safe to say that you’re going to have a long night ahead of you Ben.” To emphasize her point Paige had extended her leg and rubbed her toe on Ben’s calf.

 

Paige was thinking of all the wicked things they could do and she giggled as she thought about it. She was not going to let Ben leave the bed. Paige couldn’t think of a better way to cap her day then to have sex with her boyfriend. She closed her eyes for a second and just smiled, she was glad that she didn’t lose hope because it brought her to this.

 

Chapter Text

Paige felt like her night was near magical. She had such a good time eating outside with all of the candles. Before she went to bed, she made sure to take plenty of pictures. She wanted to catalog the moment and be able to circle back to it later.

 

Ben thought that she wasn’t moving fast enough, he was really in the mood to be in their bedroom, but when he looked up and saw how happy she was, he had patience again. He felt proud because he was the reason for the soft smile on her face.

 

Paige had woken up the next day feeling refreshed. She was in such a good mood that she didn’t think anything could bring her down. She wasn’t planning on hanging out with her family today, so she was really just sleeping in and seeing where the day took her.

 

 She knew that she didn’t wake up earlier than Ben, he was always up early so he could check on all of the feeds, sometimes he would go back to sleep, sometimes he would get a workout in before she woke up. Today was one of those days when he went back to sleep.

 

She just looked at him and he looked so at peace. She took a second to enjoy the sight, it pleased her a lot to be able to be a part of the reason that he had a lighter heart now, he had a similar role in her life.

 

It did help that Ben usually went to bed shirtless, sometimes he would be completely naked, but the sheet was covering his lower body, but he was wearing boxers this time.

 

She wanted to do something nice for Ben after he went all out with their dinner last night. It was the first time she ever really felt cherished by anyone. It was one thing to say you love someone but it’s another thing to convey love, she wanted the actions and not the words anymore. Words could be powerful, but they could also be meaningless, and she spent so much time away from human contact how much she was impressed by tangible things and experiences... She loved the effort in showing love.

 

 The older she got, the more she realized what she wanted, she wanted someone who was devoted to her. She could see that Ben was devoted to her every single time he would scan a perimeter or check the feeds, it made her heart feel full, but it wasn’t romantic. His grand gesture with lighting all those candles and going to one of her favorite restaurants and making sure that they had dinner while the sun was setting. That was the romantic shit that she really liked. She didn’t care if it was cheesy, she wanted all of that. She wanted everything that she was denied for so long and he was giving it to her.

 

She loved him and she was gonna give him appreciation. She didn’t want to be one of those people who had those expectations but not be reciprocal. She decided she wanted to make him breakfast.

 

She knew that he loved her French toast, so she decided to make that even though she knew that he was a stickler for making the most out of his meals. He was a person who thought protein shakes were yummy… filling and nutritious... Sometimes he could be wrong including when he spoke about protein shakes, but she never said Ben was perfect. She thought she might as well make eggs too because he is going to want some kind of protein intake and she refused to make a protein shake. She made some turkey bacon, and she was proud of herself that this meal was coming together.

 

She was putting the finishing touches to her meal by getting a glass of apple juice. The last but most important part of the dish was using the right sugar. She knew that Ben wanted to throw away the confection sugar, but she wouldn't let him, she hid it in the house, and she knew that he was always looking for it when she was at her grandparents’ house. She went to her stash and pulled out the container of the sugar and sprinkled some of the powdered sugar on the French toast. She was so satisfied with herself and she made sure to race back and put it in her hiding spot just in case Ben somehow woke up.

 

She was super careful as she was carrying the food on the serving tray. She went to their bedroom and she saw that Ben was still asleep. She had put the serving trade down for a second and got into bed.

 

She got close to him and grazed his cheek with her knuckles very gently. It was funny how he was like Sleeping Beauty because his eyes fluttered open slowly.

 

“Hi.” Paige was so happy that he woke up and she did it in a romantical way instead of having to shake him awake. Sometimes he could sleep like the dead.

 

“Hi.”  Ben responded to her in a voice that was just as soft as hers. He was replaying everything that happened last night and this morning because his girl definitely showed her appreciation for his efforts.

 

He decided that he was going to do more of this romantic shit.

 

“Close your eyes. I have a surprise for you…”

 

Ben did as she asked and he had no clue what the surprise could be, but he knew whatever it was it was going to be good.

 

Paige had gotten the tray and set it down. It was perfect because now Ben could have breakfast in bed.

 

Ben could feel a tray being set down on either side of his hips. He opened his eyes, and he knew he was eating good today.

 

“Yo babe, you did all this shit for me?! Thank you. You know I love French toast. Thank you for real I love you for this.”

 

Paige was delighted that Ben was very happy about his breakfast. He did look at her suspiciously, she knew that he was still wondering where the hell she could put the powdered sugar, but it was a secret that she wasn't willing to share with him. It was for his own good.

 

“I’m glad that you like it. It’s kind of my thank you for last night.  It meant so much to me for you to do something like that. It’s not something that I was expecting, but it is something that I truly love. I love the demonstrative display of your love. I was having a good day but coming home and having dinner with you watching the sunset basically on the beach with all of those candles around, it turned into a great day.  it was so beautiful to me and fuck I might start crying again. Anyways this was just a small token of my appreciation.”

 

Ben just looked at his girl and it was in his head that he was going to keep on doing this because she looks so happy in that moment. This was in something that cost him little to do, the candles were expensive because he bought a lot, but he was getting good money now… everything was worth this moment and he wanted to keep being the reason that she looks so happy.

 

“Thank you, baby. Seeing you happy was enough appreciation for me, I didn’t do it for French toast even though I’m very very happy that I’m getting some right now, I just want you to be happy. I want to make you happy. I’m gonna make sure that we live good so you can have everything you want.” Ben meant every word of what he was saying, he knew that Gabi was richer than him, she could give Paige anything she wanted, but it was not going to stop him from wanting to make good money so he could make sure that Paige was living good with him.

 

 It thrilled Paige that Ben was saying these things. He was always talking about them in the sense that they were having a future together. He wasn’t only thinking of the now, he was thinking of what they were going to build and that was something so beautiful for her to hear. For the longest time she had no future and certainly no one to share it with. She wanted more with Ben; it was nice for them to be on the same page. She loved it, she loved that even though her sister could give her anything, it didn’t stop Ben from wanting to create a life together and make sure that he would take care of them. She was going to take care of them too because they were a team, but it was so nice for him to be so definitive and say that to her and show that he was very much in this.

 

“I know you will. And I love that you want to. I loved last night so much, I sent pictures in my group chat.” Paige was so proud of Ben that she was showing off to everyone.

 

Ben was cutting into his French toast when Paige told him that she shared pictures. Even though the French toast tasted good, and the bread was airy and the powdered sugar hit his taste buds just right, he felt taste escaped his mouth when Paige said that she shared this.

 

“Exactly who did you share this with?!” Ben was incredibly curious of what her answer was going to be.

 

 

“Not many people. Just my mom, my grandma, my Aunt Theresa, Gabi, Vivian, Nicole, Lani… let me see… no baby that’s it.” Paige mentions every single person that she sent a text to.

 

All Ben could do was chew slowly because he wasn’t going to have long to savor it... The breakfast was sitting heavy in his stomach now.

 

“Everybody said it was really sweet. I think that people are going to like you a little bit more now because they see how romantic you can be with me!” Paige felt triumphant however Ben did not share the same opinion.

 

He just nodded and let her believe that.

 

Lani had been at lunch when she got a text from Paige. She was absolutely beside herself at the fact that Ben had made such a romantic night for her friend. Then she thought to herself if Ben, the necktie serial killer can be romantic then why the hell hasn’t Eli done something for her like this? All he wants to do when they get off of work is order a pizza or order Chinese. He was going to have to do better than that...

 

She marched into his office not caring if she was interrupting anything.

 

When she opened the door, she can tell that he was deep into thought about something because she spooked him.

 

“Babe, what's up?” Even though Eli was looking over reports from other municipalities about missing kids, he always had time for Lani.

 

“You know what? It’s been a while since you have done anything for me. I’m going to need to feel appreciated in this relationship and don’t you dare try to order some pizza today and call it a night. You will find yourself cuffed and stuck if you do…” Lani didn’t feel like sticking around so she just slammed his door shut.

 

The blinds were open to his office so people could see him, and they were staring at him. Eli had no clue what just happened or why Lani was upset. She came in threatening him, he couldn’t even call it a fight because he didn't get a word in edgewise.

 

He was going to ask her what toppings she wanted too, they had a deal today it was two for one Tuesdays and now she's telling him that he's basically a dead man if he buys pizza. How is he supposed to pass up a good deal? He couldn’t believe that she hit him with a ‘what have you done for me lately?’

 

He didn’t know how to decipher this, so he was going to his best resource manual… His mother.

 

When Nicole had gotten her text from Paige, she was happy to hear from her. They had all gone their separate ways so they could all have some breathing room out of Salem. But they made sure to stay in contact, when she saw Paige’s text messages she was floored.

 

“Eric?”

 

“Yeah?” Eric was reading a book to Holly which the little girl did not appreciate her mother interrupting.

 

“You know Ben just gave Paige a wonderful date filled with candlelight and I can’t think of the last time that we had a meal that didn’t have strained fruit and vegetables on the menu...” It was a subtle dig trying to say they haven't had any time alone without Holly there.

 

Eric was speechless because he didn’t know how he was going to tackle this; he was dealing with a toddler who wanted him to finish this story, but he was also dealing with and increasingly cranky Nicole. He was in an untenable situation with no positive outcome in sight. And he started to get mad because Ben put him in this situation.

 

He whipped out his phone and decided to send a text.

 

Where do you get off being so romantic? Now I have an angry toddler and her even angrier mother thanks to you. – Eric

 

Shane was having a rather lovely day; he went to the park with Tate and the family dog Ruby. It was great because both the dog and his grandson tired themselves out, he was a little tired himself having to run after both of them, but it was worth it.

 

When he got home, he saw his wife and his two daughters in the living room talking. As soon as they saw him, they went quiet. It made him very suspicious, he didn’t have to be a spy to realize that something was afoot. He just took Ruby off her leash and let the dog roam, while Tate ran to his mother.

 

“Great day to be a Donovan?”

 

The three Donovan ladies just looked at each other and then looked back at Shane.

 

Something within Shane’s bones let him know that this was not the right thing to say.

 

“The only Donovan that’s having a good day is Paige. Ben had set up an elaborate dinner filled with candles and a sunset for her. When was the last time you did something like that for mom?” Theresa started folding her arms because she couldn’t remember the last time her parents went out on a date.

 

Shane was shocked at this line of attack that Jeannie was giving him.

 

“Yeah daddy, when was the last time you did something that showed your appreciation. When was the last time you did anything nice for me or Jeannie?” Eve was very interested in her father’s answer.

 

“Well… I did bring Tate to the park and I walked the dog?!” Shane was trying to showcase his strong points.

 

“Sweetheart, Tate is your grandson which means you have a responsibility to him and our dog it is also a responsibility, so how is that some kind of an appreciation for your wife and your daughters?” Kimberly’s face was giving away her massive confusion at how her husband could think picking up dog poo and pushing her grandson on a swing equated to the same treatment…

 

“Well I suppose, I could take my favorite girls out for a good bite and I’ll be back.” Shane rushed out the house and decided his best plan would be to get bouquets of flowers for his daughters as well as his wife.

 

I commend you for treating my granddaughter in a highly respectable manner, but did you have to treat her so bloody well?! Now have three expectant women just about ready to decapitate me. – Shane

 

When Gabi got the text from her sister, she was so happy to see Paige being treated well. She knew that her sister adored romantic movies, even if they were not realistic or feasible in real life, she loved the romantic parts of it. She saw all of the candles and Gabi could admit that she was upset that they were not Gabi Chic candles, but it was the thought that counted.

 

Then she thought to herself, there's absolutely no way Ben should be beating Stefan in the romance Department. This is like Stefan’s bread and butter and her man is being beat by Ben. Make it make sense.

 

She looked up from her phone and saw that Vivian had seen the same message. Gabi had gotten up and went straight for Stefan’s office.

 

She opened the door and he looked as if he was about to make a call.

 

“Couldn't stay away could you? You need the afternoon pick me up?” Stefan really liked his wife being pregnant, they were having even more sex now and he didn't even have to care about her period since she was pregnant now. He thought his dick would fall off by now but it was still hanging on by a thread.

 

Gabi narrowed her eyes at her husband.

 

“You would think that wouldn’t you?! I don’t remember the last time you treated me to a romantic night. That’s supposed to be one of your trademarks and here you are comfortable thinking that I’m going to fuck you. You are going to have blue balls for a long time if you don't treat me to a romantic night today! You also better treat your mom to a nice dinner, and you know what throw in Ari too okay... You need to appreciate the women in your life more! You are being outdone by a reformed serial killer! I’m going to need you to shape up.” Gabi just shut the door when she saw that Stefan was about to say something.

 

She didn’t want to deal with this right now, she was tired and wanted a nap, so she went into their room and locked the door.

 

Stefan’s mouth was still open trying to figure out what just happened. When he started to replay his wife’s words in his head, she gave a mention of Ben.

 

Yo bro what the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t know what you did with Paige but now has Gabi being crazier than usual and now you’re costing me sex. You’re lucky that Gabi is your employer because you’d be fired, best friend or not. Now I gotta go plan three different dinners. – Stefan

 

When Lani got off of work, she texted Gabi telling her that Eli was taking her out today and it was not going to be pizza. She was happy when Eli told her that there was a new restaurant in town, it was a Moroccan place, and it was something that Lani never had before. It was the perfect atmosphere because the lights were dim, and the music was smooth. She was glad that she threatened Eli, she liked having a random date night even if it wasn't so random because she made a demand but that wasn't the point.

 

“You know Eli I have to tell you that I am impressed, when I saw what Ben did for Paige it just made me wonder what my man could do for me.  I just wanna say I am completely satisfied with you taking me here I love it, we have to come back.” Lani was so happy that she was thinking of using cuffs for a different reason.

 

Eli finally had the answers he wanted, fucking Weston is the reason for all of this.

 

 I wish I could issue a warrant for your arrest. I’m spending $80.00 on an impromptu date night because of you. I’m also missing out on 2 for one pizzas at Marchetti's. Now I have to wait a whole week. Keep that romantic shit to yourself. – Eli

 

Ben had his phone buzzing all throughout the day, he decided that he wasn’t going to answer any of the messages except the one from Paige is grandfather. He could feel the anger in all of the text messages.

 

He wasn’t paying anyone any mind anyways; he had his girlfriend in his lap.

 

She laughed as she read a text.

 

“Vivian said you’re not as dumb as you look.”

 

That’s probably the closest he would ever get to a compliment from Vivian Alamain.

 

The day was going pretty well for him, he had a lap full of Paige and he thinks that a Bruins game might be on.

 

“That’s as nice as I’m gonna get from Vivian. I think there might be a Bruins game on.”

 

Paige ran her fingers through Ben's hair and pressed her hips down so her crotch could rub on his, she knew that he was already half hard and have been for awhile.

 

“Do you wanna watch a game or do you wanna play a game with me?” Paige traced the lines of his strong jaw.

 

 It didn’t take long for Ben to make a choice, he was going to have the best of both worlds, he was gonna turn his Bruins notifications off and record the game…

 

“Ben don’t keep me waiting before I change my mind…”

 

Ben had been fumbling to record but he got it in record time.

 

“Baby I’m all yours.”

 

“Good. Let’s play Backgammon.”

 

It was as if Paige could feel Ben's dick deflating. It made her laugh so hard, she got up so she could go get the board. Ben felt traumatized from those laughs. He couldn't back out now and he had already made a promise to Paige.

 

“I brought crazy eights too just in case.” Paige was enjoying trolling her boyfriend, but she really did wanna play a game and that's what they were gonna do.

 

 

Chapter Text

Rafe had given them the all clear to come back to town. Even though news had spread about the miraculous resurrection of Nicole, Holly and Paige, most people were focused on Kristen DiMera.

 

Before they all left Salem, Vivian was front page news with her press conference. She was able to steal the thunder which made Nicole and Paige able to fly under the radar. Even though new things had transpired, it would only be a matter of time before people wanted to hound Paige about where she has been for all this time.

 

That was Gabi’s biggest concern. She didn’t want anyone harassing her sister. It was clear that a whole bunch of people were going to be questioning her sister. Between journalist, JJ and his family, she knew that it was going to be a lot for her sister.

 

It was something that they talked about frequently over the phone. She knew that Paige only wanted her privacy. It was something that she was guarding very closely especially because she was in a relationship with Ben Weston. It was only going to be scrutinized more if anyone found out about her romantic life.

 

Ben thought it would be best for them to keep their relationship under wraps while they were in town. As much as Paige didn’t want to admit it, she knew that he was right. The freedom that she felt literally everywhere else, but Salem had made her feel spoiled. They had anonymity everywhere but there it would always be the necktie killer and his victim. People would think that she was off her rocker being involved with him.

 

Gabi was the first one to head back to town, she was the closest. Chicago wasn’t far at all from Salem even though the time away felt like it was everything she needed. She and Stefan still haven't said a word to anyone. Her bump was so small you wouldn’t know that she was pregnant unless you felt her stomach. She found herself doing it all the time when no one was in the room.

 

It did become more challenging because Vivian had no cares of which room she went into and neither did her daughter, so she found herself always slipping her hand away from her stomach.  It was easier said than done. She was still marveling at the fact that she was going to be having a child.

 

This was her baby she didn’t expect to have, she didn’t like to be defined by her proximity to other people, but this was different. A lot of times you don’t notice you want something until that choice is taken away from you. Gabi was so focused on her business and her daughter that she wasn't really thinking about having another child at that moment, she wasn’t with anyone, so it wasn’t something she seriously thought about.

 

It wasn’t until she heard those words that she felt like a part of her was crumbling. The kind of finality you feel when someone gives you life altering news is unlike anything she had ever experienced. She loved being a mother, she wasn’t looking to have Ari. She was the biggest surprise of her life, it actually made her life more difficult because she was so young and being a mother wasn't on her agenda. She was trying to go to school and figure life out. She wouldn't trade it for anything else though, she was happy to have a career and she knew how to do it well but the most important job to her was always being Ari's mother.

 

She was getting her second chance, this time she had the time and the wisdom. It felt like one of those commercials from Luv’s that she saw on TV. Your first child you freak out about everything and you make sure that there is safe as can be and you buy the most expensive diapers cause you think that they work better. She knew how to not take it as seriously now.

 

“How's my baby doing?” Stefan had disrupted her thoughts.

 

They were at the mansion and Gabi was in such a good mood that she wasn’t going to allow anyone to spoil it. She decided to come to the garden room and just be by herself. It was such a peaceful place that she felt nothing but serenity.

 

Stefan had known that this was one of her preferred rooms. He had always made sure that the flowers were impeccable because his wife would be there.

 

“The baby is doing good, I wonder when I’m going to really start to show. I have a mind to go back to Chicago and stay away from the fray when it happens. Is that bad of me?” Gabi was wondering because this was her daughter’s home, and her brother was here.

 

“I don’t think it’s bad of you. The one thing we want most right now is for you to have a stress-free pregnancy. I’m not going to lie this town has some of the most aggravating motherfuckers who live here so I can’t even blame you.” Stefan was trying to keep the mood light and fun. He knew that this would make his wife laugh.

 

Gabi clutched her stomach because her hand gravitated towards her baby not because she wanted to feel them, but it was the thing she always did when she had a belly aching laugh.

 

 “Don’t make me laugh like that, oh my gosh. Stefan you're so stupid.” She rolled her eyes at him, but she wasn't mad.

 

“You know I’m telling the truth, that’s why it’s so funny. This town is filled with hypocrites. At least when I’m dealing with bastards, I like knowing them upfront instead of them being sanctimonious. Like come on… the saints of this town are the people who have done the worst to it. But if you’re a Horton Hears A Who it's okay because you have some ancestor in the stupid center part of town that absolves you of all of your sins. If you’re a Brady, just because your family makes some clam chowder you get away with everything.”

 

Gabi couldn’t disagree with his assessment. He was right on about Brady and Horton family committing crimes carte blanche always getting away pretty much unscathed.

 

“I’ll have you know that my daughter is a Horton and a Brady.” Gabi did feel that she had to state the obvious because even though he was right, her daughter was a part of that bunch.

 

“And what makes her interesting is that she’s a Hernandez.”

 

Stefano was positively gleeful when he shut his wife’s ass up. He knew that she wasn’t going to have to come back for that.

 

“Touché mon amour.” She had a smile that was so wide that she thought the corners of her lips would crack. As much as he made her speechless, he made her happy as well.

 

“Don’t you go speaking other languages on me. Do you want me to fuck you in the garden room?” Stefan was completely serious.

 

It wouldn’t be the most comfortable for his wife but once she was in the mood she didn’t really care. He would fuck her in that chair and make her like it.

 

“I will do whatever I like, it was your greatest triumph and your worst luck to marry me. You see Stefan… I own you. Everything that you are belongs to me. So you can beg me to stop… It’s cute when that little vein pops. I don’t have to do a damn thing you want. That’s why you love me so much.” Gabi started to get up because she was done with this conversation.

 

It was cute of him to keep her company, but she had things to do.

 

Stefan bit his lower lip. He loved the kind of foreplay that his wife dished out on him. It was always a fight for control… Gabi was always all talk. It was one of the things that he admired about her, she could talk her way in and out of any situation. She was trying to assert her control and he thought it was cute. She was talking about control, but he would be the one to administer it.

 

“Where the hell do you think you're going?” Stefan wasn't going to allow her to have the last word.

 

“I have plans… don't wait up. I’m having dinner with Lani. We’re going to be catching up so I don’t know when I will be home or if I will be home to be honest... Just matters on my mood.” She smirked at him because she knew that he was stewing.

 

She knew that she riled him up and his ego could not take him not being able to do anything about this. She just laughed as she left the room.

 

“Oh baby you can laugh now. Wait till you come home.  I’m going to tear that ass up and let you know exactly who the Alpha is in this relationship.” Stefan was talking to himself, but he didn't give a damn.

 

He was mad because what the hell was he supposed to do now that his wife is gone? His best friend was at the safe house with his girl and the last thing he wanted to do was piss his off a Hernandez woman by crashing the house so he could hang out with Ben. It sucked because the safe house had a fully decked out game room.

 

Gabi was so happy to get out of the house. On one hand she loved leaving Stefan flustered, on the other hand she missed Lani, so she wanted to catch up.

 

They decided that they wanted to get dinner at a place where both of them would like so it was a definite no to Julie’s Place because the last thing she wanted to be subjected was to a horde of Hortons.

 

So she drove herself to the Lakeside Grille. She didn’t know if it was going to be busy tonight because it was a weekday, but you never really knew until you got there. But it was also not that serious where she had to make a reservation.

 

Thankfully she didn’t have to wait because on a normal day she could pick a fight but with her being pregnant it was so easy to give into the hormones.

 

Lani had texted her that she was a couple minutes away so she decided when she saw Lani come in that she would stand up in wave so Lani could see her.

 

It was so weird cause even though she hadn’t been gone long it felt like a lifetime. Because everything has been so intense it’s felt like they really needed to catch up.

 

They hugged and sat down. Both of them were smiling because they were together again.

 

“Girl, you don’t know how much you saved me tonight. Every goddamn Tuesday, I swear Eli doesn’t know with good for him. He’s always going on about 2 for one Tuesdays at Marchetti’s. It’s so annoying. And he acts like it’s always a surprise when he says it. He looked at me like he was wounded today when I said it must be Tuesday because it’s two for one Tuesdays at Marchetti’s.” Lani rolled her eyes.

 

It made Gabi laugh so hard because it was definitely Eli. She remembered when she dated him as she thought he could be so cheap and she told him.

 

“My goodness, I forgot how cheap he could be. I’m so sorry girl. What did he used to call it again?! Oh yeah… Oh yeah… I’m not cheap I’m just sensible.”

 

Gabi had to clutch her heart as she spoke while she remembered. It made Lani laugh so hard that she was swaying side to side in her seat.

 

“He always says that stupid line. Goodness gracious, I love him but damn he’s so fucking cheap and everybody knows it. I know he was mad because last week I made him take me out on a date and I told him it would not be pizza if he knew what was good for him.” Lani still remembered the night when Eli took her to the Moroccan place that had just opened up.

 

“Well I’m glad, you deserve to have a nice dinner out. Where you don’t have to worry about using a coupon with the meal...” Gabi knew that she was wrong for that, but she couldn’t help herself.

 

Is sent the both of them into a laughing fit again. their server had come asking for their orders. They quickly put it in because they’ve been here a number of times, they knew exactly what they wanted.

 

“Unfortunately the place has a loyalty program so you know his ass signed up! That reminds me, we are going to have to make a plan to go to this new Moroccan place that just opened up because Gabi the food was superb.” Lani still remembered Eli being completely unbothered by her stare. He told her it was sensible to be saving money. He wasn’t wrong but she didn’t want him to the spokesperson for all the Frugal Freddies out there.

 

Their food came and the both of them we're so hungry but for different reasons. It was a long stressful day at the office for Lani but for Gabby it was just the fact that she was always hungry.

 

“Not a problem. You know I love to eat.”

 

“So tell me what's been going on with you? You know even though we text it’s not the same.”

 

“I know. I’ve been wrestling with myself if I should tell you this... I’m not supposed to because Stefan and I agreed to not say anything to anybody, but this is not the same.”

 

“You have to tell me because I’m not just anybody. I got best friend rights and I am invoking them right now so bitch you better tell me?!” As soon as Gabi said that Lani shouldn’t know, was when she knew that it was something that she wanted to know.

 

“Alright gosh. I’ll tell you if you’re really twisting my arm. But you can’t say a word not to Eli not to anyone…” Gabi was serious because she didn’t want anyone knowing anything.

 

“I promise I won’t tell so just tell me now. Don’t give me a suspense it’s so rude and unbecoming. Ain’t you supposed to be fancy and sophisticated now?! You should know better than this…” Lani knew that she was being dramatic, but she didn’t care.

 

Ever since she was a little girl her mother says she had the uncanny ability to match someone’s tone, it didn’t help when someone was being dramatic because she would be just as dramatic.

 

“Okay fine! Only because you’re forcing me. I’m pregnant.” Gabi just looked at Lani and saw the state of shock.

 

“fuck out of here?! You telling me you’re pregnant. Oh my gosh I’m so happy for you! You’re gonna have your miracle baby… I’m so happy. Girl you made my night.” Lani felt like she was hit with the best news. she was wiping the tears from her face.

 

She knew that it ate at Gabi to not be able to get pregnant. Lani could empathize because when she lost David, it felt like a part of her died. Being told you wouldn't be able to have children anymore feels like a death because if that's something you want it becomes nothing but missed chances.

 

“Yeah, I’m pretty happy. I never thought I would have this again and this time I’m actually ready.”

 

“It's going to be so amazing. So we’re going to have to plan this because it may seem like it’s not going to be fast but we both know that it's gonna creep up on you. So as godmother… I will be planning the baby shower. Since it’s a secret I’m guessing you don't want to do a registry which is okay because I’m not giving y’all shit because you can afford it. What I am going to need is a budget because I need to know exactly how much I’m going to be able to use to make this a blowout. Do not ever expect me to use any coupons so don't be cheap I already have Eli in my life.”

 

“I don’t care what you do, there is no budget. The only thing is we are going to have to do this in Chicago or at the safe house because I don’t want it to be in town.”

 

“Oh I just had a great idea. We should have it at the rooftop of a super cute hotel in Chicago. Looking at the Chicago skyline and having a good time is just going to be amazing. I’m going to start this tomorrow. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

 

“I know if you on the case I certainly won’t have to. But how are you going to keep this away from Eli?” Gabi knew that Lani was a planner, so she was going to write things down.

 

“Girl, he may have trained at Quantico and been a special agent and he’s a police commissioner now but girl he is so oblivious when it comes to real life. I have been in lingerie, but if there is a football game and Washington is playing, he don’t even see me. Which is a damn shame... He’ll magically see me if the Wizards are losing or the Nationals don't have a fighting chance but if they do that man don’t even know who I am.” Lani rolled her eyes as she thought about all of this. She would just plan on Sundays and the nights any Washington sports team plays.

 

She did like sports, but she was from Miami so the best shot that she had was the Miami Heat and they could be solid one year and terrible the next and don’t even get her started on the Marlins or the Dolphins.

 

 After Lani stop speaking, the both of them noticed that Abigail and Chad walked into the restaurant and both of them rolled their eyes and suck their teeth. Of all places that they could go to they find the one place Gabi and Lani are dining at.

 

“Not even one night.” Gabi was feeling so good and then she saw Ms. Sourpuss herself.

 

Lani asked if Gabi minded if she ordered food to go. It was nice to have a rich best friend. Gabi told her order the whole menu if she wanted.

 

They just enjoyed the rest of their meal and Gabi picked up the check.

 

As they were leaving Lani asked hold her big ass bag with enough food for a week and saw her go over to their table and she knew that Lani was going to be foul. She kept her distance, but she could hear everything.

 

“Funny running into you guys here. Hey Chad, you're looking good?” Lani could feel Abigail’s eyes on her.

 

It only gassed her up more. She could see that Chad started to blush.

 

“Thank you, Lani. I got a new haircut.” Lani had to stop herself from laughing because Chad actually touched his hair.

 

 It made Abigail’s pale face get more red which made Gabi laugh from afar.

 

“I can see that’s not the only thing. It looks good but it looks like you’ve been working out too. Love to see it.”

 

She made Chad blush even harder, he was crimson red, and she didn’t pay attention to Abby, but she was pretty sure that the girl was redder than Chad.

 

“Yeah, I started boxing actually. Nice to know that is actually working.”

 

Lani wanted to go for the kill, so she licked her lips right before she spoke.

 

“It's definitely working. Text me the name of that gym. You know for me and Eli... It would be a great way for us to blow off some steam. You have a great night now. Don’t you forget to text me Chad...”

 

Lani was leaving but she definitely heard Chad say I won’t. Gabi could see that Abigail’s eyes followed Lani the whole way and then she saw Gabi. She waves to her hello and the two of them made their exit. Gabi changed her mind, she was definitely glad that Chad and Abigail chose this restaurant to dine at tonight.

 

She was in such a good mood and she knew that her night was only going to get better because she was going to encounter an angry Stefan. She was counting on him being fuming, the sex was always good, but it was better when he was mad.