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A New Start

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Gemma and Steph walked into the bus terminal together, holding hands. Steph checked the bus schedule and saw that they still had some time before Dean would arrive with Terry. They stood by the entrance, Steph wrapping her arms around Gemma’s shoulders, pulling her into a hug. Gemma followed, her arms going around Steph’s waist. They stayed like that for a few moments, happy to be in each other’s arms for a little while longer as strangers looked on. They didn’t notice, too lost in one another. As Steph stepped back, she placed the lightest kiss against Gemma’s lips.

Steph dragged her arms down Gemma’s in a comforting motion. Gemma kissed the side of her head.

“I thought Terry drove,” Gemma stated, finding it weird they were meeting at the bus station.

“He does, but he likes to save petrol where he can. He’s always enjoyed a ride and then this way he can actually hang out with Dean a little longer. He doesn’t have to watch the road or anything.”

“That’s nice.”

“Yeah. They usually play a game or something. I think it also makes Dean happy.”

“And you used to just meet up here?”

“Yeah, it was an easier option instead of him driving all the way over and I never had a car so.”

“Do you know how to drive?”

“Yes, but the car was in Terry’s name so when we split, I let him take it. I had no use for it. I enjoy walking downtown and catch the bus when I need to.”

“And now you have me.”

“Which is the best part of all.”

Gemma smiled. It was busy at the bus station and Gemma looked around casually, seeing if she could catch a glimpse of the face she wanted to see most in this world while Steph leaned against her. Everyone who passed caught Gemma’s eyes. The hope still building even though she knew the answer: he was gone and she’d never see him again.

They heard the announcement of the bus coming in and Steph took a small step away from Gemma. She wasn’t ready to tell Terry nor deal with him. Gemma didn’t need to hear Steph’s reasoning. She knew and didn’t really mind. So many people were already in their business that not telling one person seemed almost like a relief.

“Steph!” Terry shouted. Steph could barely see him through the crowd. She looked around, wanting to see her little boy when “Mummy” was shouted. The crowd of people cleared as Dean appeared, running towards them. Gemma looked at the small boy with glasses. She could tell he was excited to see Steph, but something seemed off with him. Steph knelt down with her arms open. He fell into them as she picked him and kissed his head. “Hi, my beautiful boy. I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too,” he said, not letting go of her. He waved to Gemma, who was still standing behind Steph.

“Hey, Kid,” she replied with a polite smile.

Steph looked at Dean and noticed his demeanor immediately. “What’s wrong, Love? Are you going to miss your daddy?”

Terry walked up and joined them, handing his bag off to Steph. “Dean, I told you not to run when you saw your mum. I could have lost you.”

“I wanted to see her,” Dean said, matter of factly.

“I know, but we were still too far away for you to do that.”

“I don’t care.” It was evident he was mad with his father as he hugged Steph again. His arms were tight around her neck.

“Dean?” Steph glanced between her child and Terry. “Well what’s wrong? Why are you upset, Love?” Steph tried to look at Dean, but he wasn’t having it.

“He’s upset because he left his toy dog on the bus and I wouldn’t let him go back to get it. I’m sure it’s gone now,” Terry answered.

“What dog?” Steph asked.

“The one Gemma got me,” Dean mumbled against her coat.

Gemma, being distracted by the new location and looking for Tom, heard her name and saw the small boy looking at her. Steph put him down and kneeled down beside him again. Gemma joined them, now realizing how upset Dean really was. His eyes were red under his glasses and his cheeks were tear stained.

“What’s happened?” Gemma asked.

“I lost the dog on the bus and I can’t go back and get it.” His eyes started to water again.

“What dog, Dean?”

“The one you gave me. The dalmation.”

“Well it’s okay, Love. I’ll buy you another one.” Gemma rubbed his arm, trying to console him while Steph held his little hands.

“I want that one though.”

“And you’re sure you brought it with you? Didn’t leave it at your dad’s?” Gemma questioned.

“I had it on the bus,” Dean stuttered, trying not to cry and failing.

“Okay. It’s alright, Love.” Gemma cupped his cheeks and wiped his tears. “Which gate did you come out of?” Gemma asked, looking up at Terry.

“Number seven. It’s way over there on the other side of the building.”

Gemma stood and took off for the gate, hearing Steph call after her.

“I’m sure it’s left by now,” Terry yelled, trying to stop her. She ignored him, making her way to the gate as quickly as possible. She noticed a bus driver coming through the entrance and smiled.

“Excuse me, Sir? Is that your bus that just came from Birmingham?”

“Yeah.”

“Excellent. My friend’s son was on that bus and he’s very upset because he thinks he has left something. Would you mind if I checked?”

“It’s locked.”

“Can’t you unlock it?”

“I could, but I’m on my break.”

“It won’t take more than three minutes for me to look. Please?”

The bus driver sighed and rolled his eyes. “Look, I know it’s silly, but for whatever reason, that toy means a lot to him. I would greatly appreciate if I could have a quick look. Please.”

The bus driver was less than enthused, but walked back towards the bus. He opened the door. “Three minutes.”

“Thanks.” She was about to step on when she paused. “Do you remember seeing a little boy with dirty blonde hair and glasses with a man with brown hair?”

“Lady, I drive a lot of people every day. I don’t pay attention. You got three minutes.”

Gemma sighed and looked at the bus ahead of her. She soon realized how difficult it was going to be find this small toy. She had no idea where they sat, if it got lodged between a seat or on the floor. She checked each seat carefully around and under. She wouldn’t leave that bus until she found it, hoping Dean wasn’t wrong and hadn’t left it at his father’s house.

Steph tried her hardest to not argue with Terry in front of Dean, but she couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t have just gone back on the bus and looked for it.

“He didn’t realize until we were out of the terminal,” Terry said, trying to defend himself. “There were people everywhere and it would have been too difficult to go back.”

“He really likes that dog, Terry.”

“Yeah I know that, but it’s a small piece of plastic that some woman I don’t know got for him. I don’t understand why it’s so important.”

“Because Gemma is a good friend and Dean has grown fond of her.”

“I told you I like her, Daddy. She’s nice.”

“I know, Son and I’m sorry, but I didn’t think the toy was so special.”

“It’s okay, Love,” Steph soothed. “We’ll see if Gemma finds it and if not we’ll get you a new one. It’s alright.” Steph rubbed his back, ignoring Terry. Dean still wasn’t fully crying, but was definitely upset by the misfortune.

“Maybe I should go and look,” Terry offered.

Steph laughed with a surprised expression. “Now you want to look? He told you when you got off the bus, Terry. You had the opportunity to do that!”

“I know, but again, I didn’t think it was important.”

Steph looked up and could see a bright and smiling Gemma walking through the crowd of people. She couldn’t help her own features as they started to shine as well.

“Found it,” Gemma announced, holding the small toy in her hand. Dean tried to reach out for it causing Gemma to close her hand around it, “But it was on the toilet floor so I’ll need some hand cleaner which I have in the car to kill the germs.”

Steph let Dean down who immediately jumped onto Gemma. She picked him up and hugged him.

“Thank you, Gemma.”

“Of course, Love.” She wiped his tears with the back of her hand. “Dry those eyes. No harm done. He’s home.”

Terry eyed them as Steph walked up to both of them. She kissed Dean’s head while wrapping her arm around Gemma’s shoulder. She wanted to kiss her, but nuzzled her nose against Gemma’s cheek instead.

“You’re amazing,” she whispered in Gemma’s ear before pulling away. “Alright, Dean. Can you say bye to Daddy so we can go home.”

Gemma put Dean down and all his worry melted as he ran into his dad’s arms. Terry kissed his cheek and hugged him tightly, apologizing for not going back to the bus. Gemma and Steph smiled at one another, letting them have their moment. Gemma noticed Terry’s eyes were watering.

“Is he crying?” Gemma asked.

“Yeah. He hates having to do this more than Dean.”

“Should I go to the car?”

“No, just wait. I’ll be right back.” She held out Dean’s bag which Gemma took. Steph joined Dean and Terry, comforting them both as best she could. Gemma felt awkward and turned her back, allowing them to have privacy as she continued to look around. A boy with short brown hair passed and then a taller teenager. She looked at everyone she could when a small child took her hand.

“What are you looking for?” Dean asked.

“Nothing in particular.” Gemma looked down at him and smiled. “You alright, Love?”

“I’m going to miss my dad.”

“You’ll see him next weekend though. It’s not goodbye forever.”

“Do you think he’ll get a job at home?”

“I don’t know, but it’s possible.”

“I hope so.”

“I know you do, Dean. All we can do is hope.”

“Ready?” Steph asked, coming back up to them, wiping her eyes.

“You okay?” Gemma asked.

“Yeah. It’s not just hard on Terry. I hate having to do this to him just as much as he hates having to do it. Go say goodbye one last time, Dean. I think Daddy needs a big hug and a kiss.”

Dean let go of Gemma. Both women turned to watch Dean kiss Terry’s cheek as he picked him up. “It’s not fair, Gemma. He should be with his dad. I know Terry messed up, but I hate what this does to the two of them.”

“Hm,” Gemma answered, trying to hold back her own tears, feeling her own guilt. She had tried to keep Tom and Simon apart from each other and after all the time that had passed, she still thinks it’s the worst decision she ever made. Even though Simon had been in the wrong, hit her, made her life a living hell, she could only think that maybe Tom would have been a lot better off if she just would have let Simon stay.

Terry walked up to them, holding Dean. “Thanks again for driving Steph over here and making sure they get home safe.”

“It’s not a problem,” Gemma stated.

“Ready to go, Love?” Steph asked. Dean nodded, hugging Terry one more time.

“It’s alright, Dean. I’ll see you next weekend.”

“Not soon enough.”

“I know, but it will fly by like it always does.”

“Bye, Daddy.”

“Bye, Son.”

An announcement for the bus to Birmingham was called. “That’s me. I’ll call you tonight, yeah?”

Dean nodded. Terry put him down and he shyly walked over to Steph. “We’ll figure out next weekend later in the week?” Steph asked.

“Yeah, sounds good. See ya, Steph. Bye, Dean.”

“Bye, Daddy.”

Gemma felt odd standing in this mix. It was easier to drop Dean off. Her thoughts consumed of Tom. How he acted after Simon left. How quiet he had become, but, at the same time, she couldn’t help, but feel grateful that he was older. Watching Dean saying goodbye to his dad was torture even for her. She looked at Steph, who wiped her cheek.

“Come on, Love,” Steph said, taking Dean’s hand.

Gemma followed, her arm wrapping around Steph’s shoulder. Steph followed, her arm going around Gemma’s back. Terry turned to look at his son one more time, but was distracted by seeing these two women seemingly affectionate with each other yet again. He watched them leave, noticing Dean seemed to be more animated now that he was with his mum and her friend.

“Well what did you do, Love?” Steph asked as they stepped outside. “Did you have fun?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah? That’s it? Don’t want to share?”

Dean shrugged. Gemma helped him get into the car, leaving the door open. She went to the boot to put Dean’s bag away and to get some sanitizer from her medical bag. She put some on her hands and then on the little dog. She smiled at the thought that Dean had been so upset about losing it. She cleaned every crevice she could, closed the back hatch and went back to the passenger side.

“Here you are, Sir.”

“Thank you, Gemma.”

“He’s all clean. I think he needs a leash so you don’t lose him again.”

“He’s too small for one.”

“Nonsense. We’ll figure something out.”

“Okay.”

“Ready to go home?”

“Yeah.”

“Then let’s go.”

Gemma closed his door. Steph stood there looking at Dean. “You think he’s okay?”

“I’ve never known Dean to be chatty.”

“He’s usually a little more talkative after visiting his dad.”

“He’s probably tired, Love and still mad about the dog.”

Steph smiled. “Thank you for going back and getting it.”

“Not a problem. Couldn’t let the little guy be sad.”

“I just can’t believe you did that for him. You barely know him, but yet, your heart was so open to just help him.”

“I’m getting to know him better and it means something to me that, that little piece of plastic means so much to him.”

“I told you, he likes you.” Gemma’s smile was small, but couldn’t be missed. “Thank you, again.”

“Of course, Love.”

Steph reached forward, pulling Gemma into a kiss. It was light and airy, but did the trick. Gemma lingered before opening her eyes, meeting Steph’s glance. Gemma opened Steph’s door, letting her get in before closing it. She walked around the car and got in herself. She shook from the cold weather.

“It’s getting cold out there,” Gemma said, starting the car. She turned the heat on and let it blast through the vents.

“So now you’re finally cold?”

“It does happen. How are you back there, Dean?”

“Cold!” He shouted, excitedly.

“Well let’s warm our tootsies.” Gemma pulled out of the parking lot and noticed Dean playing with the small dog. “Does your puppy have a name?”

“It’s Jim.”

“Jim?” Steph and Gemma questioned at the same time.

“Yeah. I mean he’s a boy so I couldn’t name him Gemma. So I thought Jim was a good name.”

Steph smiled and made eye contact with Gemma. “Told you,” she whispered, kissing her cheek as Gemma pulled out onto the highway, smiling brightly.

“So how was your time with Dad?” Steph asked, taking Gemma’s hand.

“Good.”

“But?”

“We stayed home a lot.”

“But you went to the zoo, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, but that was it.”

“Did you at least have fun at the zoo?”

Dean nodded. “I told Dad all the stuff you taught me, Gemma.”

“You did? Did he learn anything?” Gemma asked.

“I don’t know, but I was proud.”

“Of what?”

“All the stuff I learned.”

“Well that’s good, Love. Learning is important.”

Dean nodded. He rested his head against the backseat. Gemma watched as his eyes became heavier and heavier before closing. Steph was about to ask another question when Gemma squeezed her hand.

“What?” Steph asked.

“He’s asleep.”

“Poor guy. He’s probably exhausted. He always sleeps on the way home from being with Terry. I worry he doesn’t get enough sleep when he’s there.”

“Do you think he had a good time, though?”

“I don’t know. I hope so, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.”

“Why’s that?”

“He’s learned to lie and I think sometimes he lies about how he feels on these trips. I don’t know if it’s more my benefit or his dad’s or even his. He usually comes back sad because he is sad that he won’t see his dad for another week but sometimes he’s sad for reasons like today. It just all depends.”

“Kids lie, Steph. Unfortunately, it’s natural.”

“I know. I just wish I knew what really went on.”

“Have you asked?”

“No. I try to just keep those moments between Dean and Terry private so it feels special for him. Something he truly has with his dad.”

“Well, maybe you should ask.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Steph’s eyes were closed.

Gemma huffed with a smile. “Are you falling asleep on me too?”

“You kept me busy all weekend and I’m tired.”

“I’m tired too.”

“Yeah, but you offered to drive.”

“Because you asked me to.”

Steph shrugged. “Could have said no.”

“What?” Gemma questioned, tickling Steph’s side. Steph laughed, grabbing her hand and kissing it.

“I’m sorry, Gem. My kid is back so I need some rest unless you’re really upset about it. Then I will force myself to stay awake and keep you company.”

“No, it’s fine, Love. Get some sleep. If I feel the need to do it later, I’ll do it when we get home.”

Steph smiled in her slumber. “Yeah please don’t nap while driving.”

Gemma grinned. She looked in the rearview mirror to see Dean completely passed out, sleeping in the same position Steph was in. Both of their heads leaning against their right shoulder, mouths closed and even their breathing was similar. Gemma wondered if Tom ever slept the way she did. She missed when he was a boy and would have a nightmare. The way he would quietly wake Gemma without trying to disturb her. Whispers of “Mummy” with a little shake of the hand or shoulder. The way Simon always grunted about how she babied him by letting him sleep with them. When he was younger, he would sleep in between them or with Simon, but once he reached Dean’s age, it was only Gemma. Anytime he felt scared or sad, he went to her and he would stay in her arms until he felt better. Night or day. Sick or tired. It was always Gemma.

She sniffled, following the road. She really had hoped that she’d seen him at the bus terminal. Wishing fate was on her side for once in regards to Tom. She would do anything to hold him one more time. Tell him it was going to be alright. That his dad was fine. That she loves him and has never stopped worrying about him. Flashes upon flashes of memories crept up. Their family trips. Tom’s laugh. His smile. Watching him play football as a family. How animated he would become when he was a child and learning something new. The first time he scored a goal and Simon had actually been there to see it. How proud he was. And their small moments. Their handshake before bed. The way he told her things. The time he was so sick, he didn’t want to be left alone so Gemma stayed with him all night, on the couch, watching cartoons, rubbing his back until she eventually had to lay down and he cuddled into her, clutching her while crying. The way he quickly fell asleep in her arms and woke up in the same position the next morning. Simon had taken a picture of it. She wondered where that picture ended up.

The drive passed by quickly. Gemma was close to Steph’s and forced herself to calm down. She wiped her eyes furiously and did everything she could to look like she hadn’t been crying since Steph fell asleep. There was only so much she could do while driving, but managed to pull it off. She parked in the driveway and lightly shook Steph’s hand.

“Hey, we’re home.”

Steph opened her eyes. “What?”

“We’re home, Love.”

“I slept the whole way?”

“Yeah.”

“Did Dean?” She asked, looking behind her, finding him fast asleep. “Oh Gemma, I’m sorry.”

“Why?”

“I didn’t mean to sleep the whole time. I wanted to keep you company.”

“It’s alright, Steph. Sometimes we just need it.”

Steph finally looked at Gemma and she immediately became concerned. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You sure? Your nose is red and eyes are watery.”

Steph reached out to grab Gemma’s face, but Gemma stopped her. She held her hands instead, kissing them. “I’m okay.”

“Okay,” Steph whispered, knowing it was a lie. “Dean, Sweetheart.” She reached back and shook his leg while Gemma got out of the car. Dean stirred, but wasn’t having it. “We’re home.”

Gemma opened the passenger door, Dean in and out of sleep. Steph getting out herself. “Come on, Love,” she whispered, unbuckling his seatbelt. He reached out to her, the dog tightly in his hand. She smiled and bent down to get him.

“Don’t baby him, Gemma. He can walk.”

“It’s fine. Besides it’s a little slippery. Rather carry him in the house then have him slip and harm himself.”

“I think you just want to hold him because you missed him.”

Gemma smirked. “Maybe or maybe I don’t want him to fall. I’ll never tell you the answer.”

“You don’t have to. I already know.”

Gemma picked Dean up, Steph helping to make sure his head cleared the doorway. “Can you get his bag?” Gemma asked.

“Yeah.” Steph walked to the back and grabbed Dean’s bag before following Gemma up the stairs.

“Steph?”

“Yeah?”

“Are the Priestley’s seriously looking through their window?”

Steph glanced over and waved obnoxiously only to see them quickly leave the space. “Apparently.”

“What do they think we’re going to do? Snog on the stairs while I’m carrying your child?

“I don’t know, Gem. But all I can say is get used to it.”

“I really don’t want to, but for you, I’ll give it a go.” Steph placed a light kiss against Gemma’s lips, Gemma had already puckered. Gemma eyed Steph curiously as they stood there for a minute. “Can you open the door? Aren’t you freezing?”

Steph laughed and opened the door, Gemma following behind her. She carried Dean to the living room and laid him on the couch, helping him take off his coat and boots. She reached for his glasses, sliding them off his nose and putting them on the coffee table.

“Dean, Love, I know Gemma is being really nice to you, but you have to wake up. It’s the only way I’ll get you to sleep tonight.”

Dean smiled causing Gemma to grin.

“Dean, seriously. I will tickle you if you don’t wake up.” Steph came up behind Gemma, seeing his little smirk. She bent over and started to tickle his sides. He erupted with laughter and squeals, tossing and turning as Steph laughed with him. “Are you happy to be home?”

“Yeah!” Dean yelled, his arms over his head in victory.

“How happy are you to be back with your mum?”

“So happy!”

“Yay!” Dean sat up and hugged Steph. She groaned falling against the couch with Dean on top of her. “You’re getting so big! I think you gained five pounds while you were gone.”

“No.”

“No?”

“It was ten!”

Steph laughed, hugging him tightly. Gemma looked on fondly. She couldn’t get Tom out of her mind and it was eating her alive. She stood and took her coat off, taking her’s and Dean’s to the foyer. She stood there, slipping off her boots. She placed a hand against the wall and took deep steady breaths. She could hear Steph and Dean talking through the door. It warmed her heart, but she couldn’t help the jealousy she was having.

“Tom,” she whispered.

“Gem?” Steph’s voice startled her. She didn’t even know when she had closed her eyes. “Are you alright?”

Gemma smiled. “I’m always alright.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” She stood up straight. “I, uh, I’m actually rather tired from the drive so I think I’m going to go upstairs and nap for a little bit, if that’s alright.”

“Yeah, of course.”

Gemma kissed her cheek in passing and walked up the stairs. She closed the door for privacy and sat on the edge of the bed, her head in her hands. She didn’t want to cry anymore. She was so sick of crying, but the pain and guilt she felt in her heart kept eating at her. ”You like Dad?” “Yeah.” “But you don’t like me?” “No... Not at the moment.” Gemma rubbed her head, trying to rid the thoughts. ”He says he doesn’t love you.” “He used to. He used to love me.” She laid down, curling into a ball, trying to cry as quietly as she could. She looked up to see his pictures on the bedside table. ”I love you.” Tom’s sad voice was so strong as she reached out for them, but stopped herself, rolling over to face the opposite way.

Steph rejoined Dean in the living room, concerned for Gemma, but allowing her to have her space. Maybe she really was just tired from the weekend and the drive. “So let’s talk about your trip,” Steph suggested.

“I told you, there isn’t really anything to talk about.”

“Yeah, but you went to the zoo. You love the zoo.”

Dean shrugged. Steph looked at him. “What’s wrong, Dean? What are you not telling me?”

“I just didn’t have as good of a time as I thought I would.”

“Well why? What happened?”

Dean shook his head scooting closer to Steph on the couch. She wrapped an arm around him and hugged him, kissing the top of his head. “Did you and Daddy have a fight?”

“No.” Dean paused, shrugging his shoulders again. “I just wanted to do more, I guess. We did get fish and chips though,” Dean said excitedly.

“Your favorite. Did you eat any vegetables?”

“Yeah, I did. Fish and chips was lunch at the zoo.”

“Well that is exciting.”

“Oh and Daddy helped me get something for you and Gemma!”

“He did?” Dean ran off towards his duffel in the foyer, rummaging through his bag. He came back and handed a keychain out to Steph. It was black leather with a gold plate and “Dudley Castle” was engraved.

“Oh, Dean! I love it! I will have to put this with my keys.”

“Do you think Gemma will like it? I have one for her too.”

“I think she will.” Dean ran towards the stairs. Steph ran after him. “No, Love. She’s napping.”

“I’ll put it on the pillow so she can wake up to it.”

“Sweetheart, I think we should let her be for a little bit.”

“No, no. It’ll be a surprise. I’ll be quiet.”

Steph wasn’t sure why but she didn’t try to stop Dean. She watched him climb the stairs and disappear around the banister. He opened the door very quietly, to see Gemma’s back facing him. He tiptoed around the bed when he heard a sniffle. The sound caused him to stop when he heard another.

“Gemma?”

Gemma jumped, quickly wiping her face for the young child. “Dean?”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Love. Can I help you with something?”

Dean looked at her. His hands behind his back. He slowly hid the keychain in his back pocket. “Are you crying?”

“No, Love.”

“Mummy says when you need to cry you should and then talk about it to make it better.”

Gemma smiled. “Your mother is very smart.”

Dean climbed onto the bed. “So what’s wrong?”

Gemma felt another tear escape, but bit her tongue and shook her head. “Nothing, Sweetheart. I’m fine.” She caught her breath as easily as she could, trying to calm herself. She felt this was a private matter for her to deal with on her own. She just needed to be alone, but couldn’t say that to him.

Dean sat next to her when he noticed something in her hands. He reached for it and Gemma let him pull the small picture frame away. She watched as he flipped it over to see the pictures of Tom. Dean recognized him almost immediately and then glanced at Gemma, handing it back. “Do you miss him?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“A lot?”

“Every second of every day.”

“So why not call him and tell him that? We have phones, Silly.”

Gemma laughed for Dean’s sake, but her heart ached with so much pain. “I can’t,” she choked around her tears.

“Why not?”

“I don’t have his number and I don’t know where he is.”

“What do you mean? Did he run away?”

Gemma nodded. “He did, Love. He ran away and I don’t know where he went.”

Dean laid down so he could be face to face with Gemma. “Do you think he’s okay?”

“Yeah. There is just something that mother’s have in regards to our children so we know when something is bad and I haven’t had that feeling.”

“But it makes you sad.”

“Yeah, it does. Some days are good and others it’s bad.”

“I’m sorry, Gemma.” Gemma closed her eyes, trying to stop her sobbing. “You can cry, you know. I’ve seen my mummy cry a lot and she says I give the best hugs when she’s sad. Do you want a hug?”

“I’m alright, Love. You should go downstairs and be with your mum.”

“But you’re sad. No one should be alone when they’re sad.”

Steph slowly came up the stairs, wondering what was taking Dean so long. Once she made the turn, she saw Gemma laying on the bed talking to Dean. She sat on the second floor landing against the wall and listened so they couldn’t see her. Dean looked back down at the pictures.

“What was his name again?”

“Tom,” Gemma whispered.

“Was he nice?”

“Very nice. He’s a beautiful boy.”

“Why did he leave?”

“It’s all rather complicated, Love. But he basically wanted a new start away from me.”

“But why? You’re cool!”

Gemma smiled. “You think so?”

“Yeah and smart and pretty.”

“Thank you.”

“Did he love you?”

Gemma smiled around more tears. “I don’t know.”

“Well, he’d be silly if he didn’t.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because your his mum. You’re supposed to love your mum no matter what.”

“That’s not always the case though, Love. Sometimes parents do bad things too that make their kids not very happy.”

“Is that what happened?”

“I think so, but he left so suddenly that I don’t know.”

“And now you just miss him?”

“I do and sometimes, it just becomes too much, you know? Like how sometimes you get really sad because you miss your dad. I just wish I had the chance to see him one more time to tell him that I love him and I’m always here.”

“I think you’ll see him again.”

“You do? Why?”

“Because my Gran says good things happen to good people and you’re good people.”

“That’s very sweet of you to say.”

Dean paused. “Is it hard?”

“Is what hard?”

“Seeing Mummy and I together?”

“Yeah, sometimes.”

“Well, if you want, you can talk to me when you miss Tom. Then maybe you won’t be sad about it. I know I’m not him and he’s older, but I can try.”

“Thank you, Dean, but it’s not the same.”

“But we can try.” Dean’s voice was so hopeful that Gemma couldn’t help, but agree.

“Yeah, we can try.”

They sat there quietly for a moment. “Can I hug you now?”

Gemma smiled and nodded. Dean shot forward, wrapping his arms around Gemma, who tried her hardest not to cry again, but couldn’t help it. She held that little boy so tightly, wishing he was Tom as her tears continued to fall. Steph thought about getting up when she heard Dean speak again.

“You’ll see him again,” Dean whispered. Gemma pulled away and looked at him. “I promise,” he stated.

Gemma nodded, feeling vulnerable with this small child. “Your mum’s right. You do give the best hugs.”

“Thanks. Do you feel better?”

“A little, yeah.”

“Good because I have a surprise.”

Gemma wiped her eyes. “A surprise?”

“Yeah! Daddy helped me get at the zoo for you.”

“Well what is it?”

Dean reached into his back pocket pulling out the same keychain he had given to Steph. “They didn’t have one with any of the animals we talked about, but I got this one for Mum and thought you’d like it too.”

Dean handed it to Gemma, who took it like it was real gold. She had the biggest smile on her face.

“Do you like it?” He asked.

“I love it, Dean. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I was going to leave it on the pillow to surprise you, but you were awake so.”

“Well I absolutely love this and will put it with my keys when we get back downstairs.”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“Well I do want to so I’m going to. Thank you, Dean. You’ve just made my day a little bit brighter.”

“I did?”

“Yeah, you did.” Steph smiled at the comment and headed back downstairs. Gemma caught a glimpse of her auburn hair before looking back at Dean. “I’m sorry if I made you sad though.”

Dean’s demeanor changed and he hung his head. “Well, I am sad.”

“Because you miss your dad?”

“No. I miss my old dad.”

“Your old dad?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s that mean? Your old dad?”

“Promise me you won’t tell Mummy. I swore I wouldn’t.”

“I can’t make that promise, Love, but I can listen.”

“Promise me!”

“Alright. I promise.”

“Daddy’s moved in with Lisa and the baby. He barely paid any attention to me the entire time I was there.”

“So when you got there, it wasn’t just you and your dad?”

“No. Remember when we pulled up and I said the light was on?”

“Yeah.” Dean shrugged. “That was Lisa? Was she there the whole time?”

“Yeah. Daddy says they’re getting married which I don’t understand because she’s married to Uncle Barry, but Uncle Barry wasn’t even there. Just my dad and Lisa.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

Dean shook his head. “I don’t like Lisa. She kept saying I needed to be a big brother, but I’m not.”

“Why do you think you’re not?”

“Because that’s Lisa’s baby. Not Mummy’s.”

“Right.”

“And I had to share my room with it. She cried a lot and woke me up. I felt bad for her, but Daddy was too busy to even play football with me. All I wanted was to come back home and be with Mum.”

“So the only thing you did with your dad was go to the zoo?”

“Yeah and Lisa tried to come, but he got her to stay home.”

“How?”

“I begged him not to let them go.” Dean looked down at the keychain. “We had a good time at the zoo, but I still miss my dad because I don’t feel like I was with him.”

“Well babies are hard, Love. They require a lot of attention from their mums and dads, but I understand how you feel. It’s not fun when you have expectations for your weekend and they seem to get pushed to the side.”

“Yeah.”

“But you’re home now.”

“Yeah.”

“No babies. Well just me.” Gemma pouted her lip and Dean laughed.

“You’re not a baby.”

“You sure? I was crying a lot.”

“Yeah, but not loudly.” Dean leaned forward to hug Gemma. She wrapped her arms around his back and rubbed it. “I’m sorry this weekend was hard.”

“I’m sorry you miss Tom.”

“Me too.”

“Just please don’t tell Mum.”

“I won’t, Love, but I think you should.”

“Maybe, but not right now.”

“Why not?”

“She’ll argue with him. I don’t want them to fight. They already have today and I just want her to be happy.”

“Well then, should we stop sulking and go downstairs and join her?”

“Yeah,” Dean answered, getting off the bed and standing.

“Piggyback?”

Dean nodded excitedly.

“Good. My legs are killing me.” Gemma joked, putting a leg over Dean’s shoulder. He laughed and ducked down. “What’s so funny? I asked for a piggyback!”

“I thought you were going to give me one!”

“You one?!”

“Yeah.”

“Right. I guess that’s a better idea. Might get down the stairs safer.”

Dean agreed. Gemma knelt down and waited until she felt like he was secure. She stood up. “Next time, the ride is on you, though.”

“Deal,” he giggled.

Gemma carried him downstairs and they were greeted with delicious smells from the kitchen. Gemma walked in smiling, Dean looking just as delighted.

“Dean, I hope you let Gemma get some sleep.”

“He didn’t,” Gemma answered.

“Hey!”

“What?” Gemma asked, lowly chuckling.

“Did he at least help?” Steph asked, walking up to them.

“He did.”

“Good.”

“Now I’ve got to put this beautiful key chain Dean got for me with my keys.”

“Mum, Gemma wanted me to give her a piggyback ride.”

“I did ask and he did agree.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You did.”

“Did not.”

“Did.”

“Not!”

“So I have two children now?”

“Maybe,” Gemma answered. Steph could tell that Gemma was in better spirits. She leaned forward and pecked Gemma’s lips. Gemma smiled as they pulled away.

“Yuck,” Dean said, still on Gemma’s back.

“Be disgusted all you like, Dean, but one day you’re going to kiss a girl or maybe a boy.”

“No I won’t.”

“No? You sure?”

“Yes.”

Gemma walked them to the foyer so she could find her keys in her purse. She put Dean down so he could stand.

“You don’t have to put it on there,” Dean commented.

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to.” She grabbed her set and started to slide it around the loop. “See this keychain will be my Jim. It’s very special to me, so whenever I’m not here and I pick up my keys, I’ll see this and think of you.”

“Not Mummy?”

“Well, full disclosure, I’m always thinking about your Mum so this,” Gemma stated, holding up the keychain that was snug on her keyring, “is what I will look at when I think of you.” Dean just smiled, his eyes shining from behind his glasses. “Should we help Mum with dinner?”

“Yeah.”

Dean took Gemma’s hand and walked her back to the kitchen. “What can we help with, Love?”

“Keeping Dean entertained while I cook you a meal.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Well it smells delicious. Are you making a curry?”

“I am.”

“Any special occasion?”

“Well it’s almost been a month since our first date-ish… our first night together and I thought it would be nice to eat a homemade curry to celebrate instead of ordering out.”

Gemma smiled. “Yeah, that sounds great.”

“And for Dean, since it was all I had when I invited you to dinner, fish fingers.”

“Yes!” Dean shouted from the couch.

“Do you not like curry, Dean?” Gemma asked.

“No.”

Gemma looked to Steph, who mouthed ‘no’ while shaking her head. “Are you sure there is nothing I can help with?”

“I’m sure, Gem. You drove a lot today and we had a busy weekend, so relax.” Steph kissed Gemma. “I’ve got this.”

They shared another kiss. “Okay.”

“Gemma?”

“Yeah, Kid.”

“Can you help me give Jim a leash?”

“You want to do that?” Dean nodded. “Sure, but we’ll need some stuff like yarn or string.”

“There’s a sewing kit upstairs from when I tried to be a good housewife. Never quite got the hang of that although I did make Dean’s beanie.”

“Did you?”

“Yeah. It was like the one thing I could make oddly enough, but have a go.”

“Want to make me a hat?”

Steph placed her hand on Gemma’s chest, above her heart. “You want me to?”

Gemma shrugged. “Could be cute.”

“Well yeah then maybe.”

Gemma smiled as they kissed one another. Dean cleared his throat, getting impatient. When both women looked at him, he pretended to cough.

“Upstairs you said? I have a very bored client who needs a leash for his dog, Jim.”

“Upstairs, the only box under the bed.”

“Thanks, Love.”

“I’ll come with you!” Dean said, excitedly. He followed Gemma to the door.

“Are you going to give me a piggyback this time? How strong are your legs?” Steph heard Gemma asked as they walked through. Dean’s giggle warmed her heart as they thumped up the stairs.

“Okay, Mister. Do you know where the box is?” Dean jumped off Gemma’s back. “Careful, Love.”

“I’m okay,” he said as he crawled under the bed. He pushed the box out, next to Gemma’s feet, before popping his head out with a smile. Gemma took the box and opened it to see an assortment of colors and textures.

“What color?” Gemma asked, taking out each spool for Dean to look through.

“Hmm,” he thought, looking over each one. “I like Red.”

“Red sounds good. He’ll match your hat.”

“Mum made it for me.”

“So she told me.” Gemma noticed a long, golden chain in the box and pulled it out, thinking of an idea. “And I think we should join her downstairs so she doesn’t have to cook dinner alone. What do you think?”

Dean smiled. “Good idea.”

“Will you help me put the yarn back in the box and put it back where you found it?”

Gemma grabbed the chain while Dean agreed, putting everything away neatly and then diving under the bed. On the way out, however, he was a little shy of the bed frame, whacking the back of his head against it.

“Ow!” He cried before slowly climbing out. He rubbed the back of his head.

“Are you alright?” Gemma asked. Dean nodded as his eyes started to well up and he sniffled before sobbing, the pain now catching up to him. “Aw, come here, Love.” Gemma knelt down and he cried on her shoulder. “I know it hurts. Shh,” she soothed, “it’s alright.”

“It really hurts.”

“I know, Love. Shh. Don’t cry.” Gemma rubbed his back repeatedly.

“Am I bleeding?”

“Let me look.” Gemma looked over his shoulder, running her head through his hair. He winced when she touched the knot that was forming. “No blood, Love. Just a big bump. Let’s go downstairs. Mum will make it better.” Gemma picked up Dean, then the yarn, and held onto the chain. Dean was still crying as Gemma made her way downstairs.

“What happened?” Steph asked as Gemma came into the kitchen.

“Bumped his head, putting the sewing kit back.”

“Aww,” Steph whispered, stepping up to both of them. She kissed Dean’s head and rubbed his back. “It’s alright, Tigger.”

“It hurts.”

“I know, but it’ll pass. Do you want a hug?”

Dean nodded. Gemma put him down and he immediately went to Steph, who held him. “I know, Sweetheart. I know it hurts, but it’s okay. It’ll pass. You just gotta be strong and I’m sure Gemma looked at it.”

“Let me look again, just to be safe.” Gemma walked up behind him and felt around his head. “I think I know what will fix the problem. The egg effect.”

“What’s that?” Dean asked, sniffling.

“I’ll show you.” Gemma made a fist on Dean’s head. “This is the egg.”

“You didn’t go to the fridge to get an egg.”

“Well, I’m a doctor so I’m always prepared. Now what I’m going to do is crack the egg.” She lightly tapped her fist. “And the yolk is going to soothe the pain.” She used her fingers to pretend as liquid was falling down his head. He laughed and shook his head.

“There’s no egg!” He exclaimed.

“No,” Gemma answered, smiling, “but how does your head feel?”

“Better.”

“See? Egg treatment.”

Steph kissed his cheek and smiled at him. “It’s alright, Sweetheart.”

Dean agreed, embracing Steph one more time before hugging Gemma. “Come on, Love. Let’s make a leash for Jim and then we’ll help Mum set the table.”

“Okay.”

“Steph, does this chain mean anything?” Gemma asked, holding out the thin gold chain that had a clasp on it. “No, not to me. Maybe it belonged to Terry or something at some point. Why?”

“Well it’s got this little clip, so if I can figure out how to get this around that dog’s neck, then Dean can clip it to his belt loop.”

“Why are you doing this for him?”

“I don’t want to have to search another bus toilet if I can help it, so I think this is a better option.”

“And it makes him happy.”

“Yeah, that helps.”

Steph laughed. “Dinner will be ready in fifteen.”

“I’ll have the table set by then.”

“And I figured that’s when we could talk to him.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Okay.”

Gemma puckered her lips and Steph kissed her. A light peck against her mouth. “Alright, Dean. I have an idea. Can you get me some scissors?” Dean popped off the couch and went to a drawer near the kitchen.

“What are you looking for, Love?”

“Scissors for Gemma,” Dean answered. “We’re making a leash!”

“I know!” Steph opened a different drawer and pulled a pair out. “No running to the couch. Walk there, okay?”

Dean nodded taking the scissors from her hands and taking them to Gemma. “Thank you, Love. So your mum had this old chain here with a clasp, so I’m thinking, if I can get this around Jim’s neck, then you can clip to pants, how does that sound?”

“Good.”

“Yeah?” And then I figured, we could just wrap the red yarn around it if you like.”

“I like the gold.”

“You do? Well then we’ll keep the gold.”

“Could we make his collar out of the yarn?”

“It’s quite possible. We can give it a go.”

Steph watched them as she cooked. Gemma and Dean stayed very close to one another as they chatted. Steph noticed Gemma’s kind eyes and smile that she always had with Dean. It filled her heart with admiration and love. Dean would laugh at the little things that Gemma would say about making sure he walked him and to clean up after him. Even though Dean took it as a joke, she knew Gemma was preparing him for the realities of having a dog, if Steph ever allowed it. “I’m not cleaning up poo,” Dean shouted.

“Well you have to if you want a dog.”

“With my hands?”

“No, with a little plastic baggie, but it’s part of it, but until then, I think Jim here is all ready to go, Love.” She held out Dean’s plastic toy and smiled. She had managed to glue the pieces of yarn together to create a collar and then looped the chain around it. She clipped the chain to Dean’s belt loop. “Go show Mum.”

“Mummy, look!”

Steph gasped. “Oh my goodness, look at your puppy!”

“Gemma made the leash.”

“Did you say thank you?”

Dean shook his head and quickly turned around. “Thank you, Gemma.”

She smiled softly. “Welcome, Love.”

“And what does this do?” Steph asked, holding the chain.

“Gemma put it on my pants so now I can stuff him in my pocket and I won’t lose him.”

“Isn’t that awesome? Sounds like you’re all set.”

“I think so.”

“Could you and Gem help me set the table for tea?”

“His paws don’t move.”

“Not that Jim. My Gem. Gemma.”

“Gemma, Mum wants us to set the table.”

“Coming, Love.” Gemma neatly cleaned up the clippings around the couch and coffee table. And grabbed the scissors, walking to the kitchen. She discarded the bits of cloth into the trash can. “Where do these go?” Steph took them from her, giving her another kiss.

“I’ll put these away and everything that needs to be set is on the table.”

“Alright. Dean, want to help me?”

“Okay.” Dean stood on a chair and helped as best he could. Steph started to bring bowls of food over to the table.

“Dean, can you go wash your hands, please?”

Dean popped off the chair and ran to the bathroom where he had a small stool. Gemma used the kitchen sink to wash hers. Steph stepped up behind her. She rested her chin on Gemma’s shoulder and hugged her. “Oh and I put your dirty underwear and clothes into the wash.”

“When?”

“I collected it yesterday when I got up. Just put it in the wash while you and Dean were upstairs.”

“Oh well thank you, Love.”

“Anytime.”

They could hear Dean’s feet coming back and separated. He took a seat in his chair as Steph collected the fishsticks from the oven. “Now, careful, Dean. Let them cool before taking a bite.”

“I’m not a baby, Mummy.”

Steph was surprised. “I know, Love. Just don’t want you to burn your mouth.” She kissed the top of his head, hugging him. “You sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah, just hungry.”

“Okay. Let me get you some crisps and then we’ll be ready to eat.”

“Where do you want me?” Gemma asked.

“Across from Dean. I also found a bottle of wine.”

“I can pour it.”

“I’ve got it. Seriously. Relax.”

Steph finished setting the table, placing a glass of wine in front of her seat and Gemma’s. She served food to Gemma’s plate before her own and then finally sat.

“This looks amazing,” Gemma commented.

“I hope you like it. I’m worried. I haven’t made it in a while. Dean, how are the fish fingers?”

“Good!” He commented, dipping one into brown sauce.

“Good. Uh, Dean, Ge-“

“Oh my G-d, Love,” Gemma moaned after taking a bite. “This is absolutely delicious.”

“Yeah?” Steph smiled shyly and blushed. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” A beat past as Gemma finished chewing her food. “Sorry. Continue.”

“Should I just wait until we’re finished?”

“No, we can do it now if you like.”

“Okay.” Steph patted Gemma’s hand a couple of times before holding it. “Dean, you know that Gemma and I are dating, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And that we like each other a lot.”

“Right.”

“Okay, well we were wondering how you would feel about seeing her here more often?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well like sometimes she’d come over for teatime and some nights she’d stay here with us overnight. Stuff like that.”

“So what Johnnie used to do?”

“Yes, except Gemma brought it to my attention that you need to be apart of this conversation too and that you have a say because this is your home.”

“Basically, Dean,” Gemma added, “Does the idea of seeing me here more often bother you or does the thought of waking up and me having breakfast with you two bother you?”

“Are you moving in?” Dean asked.

“No,” both women assured. “She would just stay a couple nights a week maybe,” Steph continued. “Maybe more or maybe less, depending on the week and what’s going on.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why does she need to stay here a couple nights a week?”

“Well?” Steph questioned, biting her lip.

“Dean, you know how sad you get sometimes when you can’t see your dad?” Gemma interrupted. He nodded, chewing his food. “Well it can kind of be that way too when you’re seeing someone.”

“We just like to be together, is all and sometimes we might have a sleepover, but only if you’re okay with that.”

“Do grownups have sleepovers?”

“All the time, Love,” Steph answered.

“Why?”

“Uh…” Steph looked at Gemma, who shrugged. “To have good, quality time together.”

“Right,” Gemma agreed.

“Without me?”

“No, not without you, Dean, just… you remember when Daddy lived with us and sometimes we needed to have grown up conversations?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s like that.”

“But that’s when you fought.”

“Well, not all the time. Sometimes we just needed a moment to sort things out.”

“To argue.”

“No, Love. Just to be with one another.”

Dean thought for a moment. “But you’re not moving in?” His attention back to Gemma.

“No, Love. Not in the slightest.”

“Then I guess I’m okay with it.”

“You sure?”

Dean nodded. “Gemma can give me a ride to school when she stays.”

“Well let’s not expect her to do that, Sweetheart.”

“But I can. I can do that.”

“And you’ll read me a story before bed?”

Gemma laughed through her nose, smiling. “Yeah, if you like. Any other demands in this agreement?”

Dean nodded.

“Well? What is it?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Want to come over here and tell me?”

Dean jumped out of his chair, wiping his fingers on a napkin. He turned to Steph. “Don’t listen.”

Steph put her hands up in surrender. “I won’t, Love.” She covered her ears.

Gemma bent down so Dean could reach her ear. He cupped it before whispering, “Don’t hurt her.”

Gemma pulled away. “I won’t. I promise,” she spoke with sincerity. She held out her pinky finger. “Pinky swear.” Dean hooked it and nodded. Gemma kissed the top of his head and he went back to his side of the table. He pulled on Steph’s arm. “You can uncover your ears.”

Steph smiled. “Did you know that I think you’re the sweetest kid on the planet?” Dean’s cheeks redden with color, the same as Steph’s. “I love you.”

“Love you too.” Dean leaned into Steph.

“Go finish your food, Mister,” Steph whispered, kissing the top of his head.

“So I have a question,” Gemma stated. “For you, Dean.”

“What?”

“Would you be alright if I stayed the night tonight or would you rather have alone time with your mum?”

Dean lifted his shoulders. “I don’t care.”

“Up to you, Kid.”

“Hmm,” he pondered. “You can stay.”

“And you’re alright with that?”

“Yeah.”

Steph took Gemma’s hand, giving it a squeeze. They smiled at one another and continued on with dinner. Gemma washed the plates once they were finished. Dean dried them as best he could. Steph finished drying them and then put them away where they belonged.

“Gemma?” He asked, handing Steph a plate.

“Yeah, Love?”

“Can we build a bed for Jim.”

“Sure. What do you want to make it out of?”

He shrugged.

“Do you have Legos?”

“Yeah.”

“I bet we can make one from there.”

“But will it be comfy?”

“I think we can make it that way. We’ll finish this, hang out with your mum a little bit and see what we can do.”

“Can’t be up too late, Dean. You do have school tomorrow. Why don’t you go unpack, get your school stuff together and get your Legos while Gemma and I finish here?”

“Okay!”

Dean jumped off the counter. “Did your dad wash any of your clothes?”

“No!” Dean shouted from the foyer.

“Will you put your dirty clothes in the laundry bin then please?”

“Yeah!”

Steph laughed.

“You like having him back home,” Gemma stated.

“Yeah, I do. I didn’t even realize how much I missed him until he was here.”

“I know what you mean, but I think I’ll miss you more on our days apart.”

“Yeah?” Steph put down her plate and wrapped her arms around Gemma’s waist. “I’ll miss you too. It’s going to be weird without you here.”

“But you’ll have Dean.”

“I know, but I like having you here.”

“I know you do, but for Dean, this is good. It helps him ease into our relationship, I think.”

“And we did a nose dive into it this weekend.”

“Exactly.”

Steph pecked Gemma’s lips. “Wouldn’t change it for the world, though.”

“Me either.”

They leaned in, slowly kissing one another, hearing Dean’s footsteps approaching. They separated, going back to the dishes.

“Gemma, I’m ready,” he announced, a Tupperware full of Legos shaking in his hand.

“Alright, Love. Let me just finish here with your mum and then we’ll be right over.”

Steph took the plate out of Gemma’s hand. “Go ahead.”

“No, he can wait. Patience is learned.”

“Yeah, it is and he knows it, but I know you missed him and need him right now.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know you saw me… at the top of the stairs.”

Gemma smiled. “Yeah I did.”

“And I’ve had you all weekend. Go build a bed for his dog.”

“You sure? Because you cooked and I never think it’s fair-”

“Go.”

Gemma handed Steph the plate that was in her hand and kissed her cheek. “Alright, Dean, what color?” She walked towards him sitting on the couch, noticing his face lit up.

“I was thinking multiple colors.”

“Multiple colors?”

“Yeah, so he can have all the colors with him.”

“Well did you know that dogs only see in black and white?”

“Is that true?”

“Yeah, well actually they can see some colors, just not all.”

“I think Jim is a special dog though.”

“Yeah? Jim is very special.”

“So I think he’s so powerful, he can see all the colors!”

“And that’s why he needs a colorful bed.”

“Exactly! So I have this flat piece, do you think it will work?” Dean asked, holding up a large square Lego board.

“I think that’s perfect, but we should let him lay and see if he likes it.”

Dean pulled the small dog from his pocket. It was no taller than an inch and a half and was about two inches wide. He laid it on there, barked and pulled it away quickly. “He says it’s spikey!”

“Well I think we should lay some cotton on it once you’ve got it built,” Steph said, coming in with a bag of cotton balls.

“Will you help me, Mummy?”

“Of course, Love.”

Gemma, Steph and Dean worked together to build Jim a little bed. Steph lined the inside of it with cotton balls and Dean delicately laid him on it. They got Dean ready for bed and he fell asleep halfway through the story he picked for Gemma to read. She headed back downstairs and joined Steph on the couch, who was watching the news.

“How did that go?” She asked, wrapping her arm around Gemma’s shoulders.

“He fell asleep halfway through.”

“Aww. He’s probably exhausted from the weekend.”

“Yeah.” Gemma thought about what Dean had told her about Terry, Lisa and the baby. “I think tomorrow, once I’m gone, you should ask Dean more about his trip.”

“Why’s that?”

“Just to be safe.”

“Did something happen?”

“No, I just think he’s not telling you something.”

Steph muted the television and looked towards her. “Did he tell you something?”

“No,” Gemma said, taking a sip of wine.

“You’re not a good liar. I thought you knew that by now.”

“I think you’ll find I’m an excellent liar.”

“Okay, but if I can tell that you’re lying, then you’re clearly not good at it. What did he tell you?”

“I swore I wouldn’t tell.”

“He’s six. He doesn’t get to make those decisions.”

“Just ask him about it. He wants to tell you and I think he would be rather upset that I told you.”

“Well why did he tell you and not me?”

“Because we were just talking about families earlier when you were listening on the stairs. He told me after you left.”

“Should I be worried?”

“About him?” Steph nodded. “No. Not at all.”

“So he’s okay?”

“Yes, he’s fine. He’s good and much happier to be home. Just ask him about it tomorrow. Don’t say I said anything. He’s just working out how he feels I think.”

“Okay.”

Gemma placed her thumb on the inside of Steph’s knee and rubbed it a few times. Steph curled into her, trying not to think or worry about Dean. She looked up at Gemma and then kissed her neck. “I’m going to miss not sleeping with you tomorrow.”

“I’m going to be so bored at my flat. Might actually have to get a drink with my coworkesr which I rather die than do.”

“Why do you hate them so much?”

“I don’t hate them. They just annoy me. I can’t say why because I don’t know why. They just all do!”

“You can always come back over.”

“That’s not fair to you or Dean. You guys need your time together. It’s good that I won’t be here tomorrow.”

“Well would you like to go to my office instead? They’re going to pry into our sex life and will want to know every detail.”

“What are you doing to tell them?” Gemma straddled Steph’s thighs, running her hands up her side.

“I don’t know,” Steph answered through ragged breaths. She grabbed Gemma’s hand and played with her digits. “Maybe tell them how long and strong your fingers are.” Gemma leaned in and kissed her neck, licking just below her tongue. “Or maybe how fast your tongue moves when you know I’m close or how it feels when it’s inside of me.”

Gemma hummed, continuing to kiss her neck. She cupped Steph’s breasts, Steph’s hands already yanking at her turtleneck. They met in a heated kiss. “Upstairs,” Steph mumbled against Gemma’s lips. She stood up, taking Steph with her. They turned off the television, lights and locked the doors before quickly, but quietly heading upstairs.

Steph closed the door and immediately started to disrobe herself, Gemma’s turtleneck already in the chair with her clothes. Steph walked up to her, kissing down her chest, while undoing her jeans. Steph managed to unbutton them and slid her hands down Gemma’s backside, grabbing her bottom and squeezing it. Gemma moaned into her mouth. Steph pulled back quickly.

“We have to remember to be quiet.”

“Right.”

“So I think we should make a pact. If one of us gets too noisy, the other has to just tell us.”

“I mean, I figured that’s how it would go,” Gemma said, undoing Steph’s pants. She yanked them down, followed by her underwear, no longer wanting to wait. Steph undid her own bra before taking Gemma’s off. Clothes were now thrown around the room as they collided on the bed.

“Under the covers,” Steph panted, pulling them back. Gemma was quick to help letting Steph lay on top of her. “Should we be quick or-?”

“Quick?” Gemma inquired.

“Well in case Dean wakes up. Like what should we do?”

“We could lock the door.”

“No, I think that would freak him out if something did happen.”

“I mean he was out like a light. What are the chances of him actually waking up at this point?”

“That’s true,” Steph said, kissing down Gemma’s chest and taking her nipple into her mouth. Gemma moaned from the back of her throat. If Steph did what she was thinking she would, being quiet wasn’t going to be easy. Steph continued kissing down her body and once she reached her curls, Gemma had to stop her.

“What? Why?”

“I don’t think I’ll be able to keep quiet,” Gemma confessed.

“Well try.”

“I’m serious, Love. Your tongue is just… wow.”

“Try anyways,” Steph said, swiping her tongue through her folds. Gemma bit her finger as her hips bounced off the sheet. She would only be able to keep quiet for so long. Her head was thrown back against the pillow as Steph’s tongue continued against her core.

“Uh, fuck,” Gemma whispered. One hand was clasped around her breast, while the other found the back of Steph’s head, tugging on her hair. She felt Steph moan against her and smirked in delight. Steph’s tongue was warm against her, soaking up every part of her. She glanced down to see Steph’s auburn hair, eyes closed and her mouth working. She had never seen anything so erotic. Steph’s fingers entered her, her other hand keeping her as open as possible. She followed the thrusts as easily as she could without bothering Steph but it was too much. Steph took a break, catching her breath, using her fingers to rub against Gemma’s center. After a few thrusts, she could feel her orgasm building and came almost instantly at feeling her tongue again.

Gemma’s body shot forward, still convulsing against Steph’s tongue. She lifted Steph’s head and they both smiled.

“I thought we weren’t going to be quick.”

“Your tongue makes that very, very difficult.”

Steph smiled and kissed Gemma’s inner thigh before kissing her way up Gemma’s stomach. She looked at the bite above Gemma’s breast.

“I’m still proud of this,” she commented, rubbing her finger over it. It was dark and purple.

“That’s because you did it this morning and for the record, I never left a mark like this on you,” Gemma said through heavy breaths.

“I also miss you being loud.”

“Well can’t do that now, can we?”

Steph now hovered over her. “No we can’t. I mean we could, but I think that would make me a really bad parent.”

“Yeah it would.” Steph laughed and kissed her. When they separated, Gemma ran her finger over Steph’s lips. “I love how swollen your lips become after you eat me out. They get so red and wet.”

“Yeah?”

Gemma nodded, flipping them over.

“Well why don’t you do it to me so I can look at yours?”

“Because I rather my fingers be deep inside of you.”

“Why not both?”

“That’s a good question.” Gemma kissed Steph’s lips again, placing her thigh between Steph’s, who started to rub herself against it. “Maybe I want what I do to be a surprised instead of being directed.”

“Sounds more like a personal problem, Love.”

Gemma moaned at how wet Steph was against her leg. She let her rub herself while she littered kisses all around her breast. She tugged on her nipple with her teeth, eliciting a loud gasp from Steph.

“Shhh,” Gemma husked, licking down the front of her body. “Quiet, remember?”

“Well what are you going to do me?”

Gemma ran her hands over Steph’s breasts and down her stomach before spreading her legs wider, bringing one over her shoulder and the other flushed against the mattress. She nibbled around Steph’s inner thighs, leaving light traces of her tongue. Steph bit her lip, trying to suppress her moans the closer Gemma got to her center.

“I don’t need foreplay, Love,” Steph whispered. “Just take me.”

Gemma teased Steph’s core, brushing it over lightly when she pushed two fingers into her. “Fuck,” Steph moaned. Gemma moved back up, keeping Steph’s leg over shoulder. She kissed the inside of Steph’s knee, thrusting her fingers inside of her. She looked down to watch the motion, her fingers glistening in the light from the table. She could feel herself getting worked up again, watching her hand pleasure Steph. She let Steph’s leg fall to the bed, but it quickly wrapped around Gemma’s lower back.

Gemma leaned over her, kissing Steph. “You feel so good around my fingers, Steph. So tight,” Gemma whispered into her ear before kissing her neck. Steph groaned into her mouth. She curled her fingers inside of Steph. Steph grasped Gemma, scratching roughly down her back. Gemma pulled back to look at Steph, her mouth open and eyes closed. “You’re so beautiful.” Steph opened her eyes, both of them stopping for a minute. Gemma stared into her blue eyes and smiled. “Just so beautiful.”

It was on the tip of her tongue. Steph wanted to say it, but the moment past and she felt Gemma’s lips against hers while her fingers started to penetrate again. Steph rubbed her arms over Gemma’s back, feeling the way her muscles work in her shoulders and lower back. “Touch yourself, while I fuck you,” Gemma demanded in a hushed tone. She straddled Steph’s leg and rubbed herself against it, Steph moaning in her ear as her hand traveled between their bodies. Gemma continued to thrust into her while using Steph’s leg to get herself off again.

“Gemma,” Steph murmured. “I’m so close, Baby.” Gemma watched their hands, feeling herself close as well. It took three more thrusts of Gemma’s hand before she felt Steph come against her hand, stifling her moan as best she could. Gemma kissed Steph, still moving her hips against Steph’s thigh. Steph flexed her leg and grabbed Gemma’s back side, helping her. She watched, feeling Gemma grind quicker. She loved every second of the older woman on top of her, using her body for extra pleasure.

“Almost,” Gemma stated before her throat caught in her breath as she orgasmed for the second time. She laid on Steph, catching her breath. Steph ran her fingers lightly over Gemma’s back, rubbing around her shoulders.

“I know I can go a night without sex, but I feel like now that you’ve been here, it’s going to be difficult,” Steph stated, her eyes already closing.

“I know what you mean, Love.”

“Are you falling asleep, Gem?”

Gemma’s head was resting in between Steph’s breasts. She nodded slightly, her eyes closed.

“Do you mind if we get dressed?”

“I’m comfy, Steph.”

“I know, Love, but I’ve got a six year old who sometimes creeps in while I’m asleep especially after trips with Terry. I think him grasping the idea of dating is one thing, but I don’t want to explain why we’re naked.”

“He never walked in on you and Terry?”

“Yeah, when he was little, but it’s easier to explain that, that’s what mummies and daddies did.”

“And Johnny?”

“Maybe once, but I still had my shirt on, pushed up, but this is like a whole other level. I don’t think he understands how romantically involved we are.”

“Well I hope not.”

Steph smiled. “Please, Love.”

“I don’t have pajamas. I told you that.”

“Well now see that’s okay because I have plenty.”

“Okay,” Gemma groaned, sitting up. Steph kissed her before getting up. “Do I have to put on underwear?”

“No, Love.”

Steph threw Gemma a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt. They got dressed at the same time, Steph getting back into bed. Gemma stayed on her back when Steph snuggled into her. She wrapped her arm around Steph as Steph rested hers across Gemma’s torso. Steph kissed her shoulder, both falling asleep.

A few hours later, Gemma felt someone crawling over and a small voice speak. “Mummy?”

Steph was now on her back, but her hand was still touching Gemma. She woke slightly. “Dean?” Are you alright?”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Come here, Love.”

Dean laid between Steph and Gemma. Steph turned on her side, holding Dean to her. She kissed the back of his head, falling to sleep. Dean looked towards Gemma, who hadn’t budge. He could see her hand and very cautiously reached for it. He held it as tightly as he could, causing Gemma to look at him.

“You alright, Love?” she whispered, rolling onto her own side.

Dean nodded. Gemma held his hand, holding it just above her chest. She kissed the back of. “We’re here, Love. You’re okay.” Dean laid his head back against Steph, but fell asleep holding Gemma’s hand, happy to be back home with his mum and his new friend.