So hopefully, this time, I'll be able to produce something worth reading.

One thing I feel like asking. There's a scene here that could be smut but since this story is rated T and I want to keep it that way I skipped the details. If I get enough people telling me in reviews to actually go into the full scene, when I go back to write this sequence in Perspectives I'll do so. Perspectives is already gonna be rated M for the sadistic violence and blood that my Muse likes to inflict anyway so I might as well throw in some smut if my readers want it. I offer because it has actual plot relevance, and not pointless lemons just for shits and giggles, which I prefer not adding. This may be registered as a "romance" story but their relationship isn't so focused on the physical.

The room was nearly pitch-black, except for the watery orange glow leaking through the blinds from the streetlamp outside. The bedroom door was closed, and other than footsteps from the neighbors, there was complete silence. Next to her, he was stretched out on his back with one hand supporting the back of his neck. She was curled on her side facing him, gazing wordlessly at his face. His eyes were closed and his features relaxed, but she knew he wasn't asleep.

"Albert?" she ventured, so quietly that her voice did not seem to break the silence at all.

His eyes slid open and he tilted his head toward her. "Yes, dear heart?"

She hesitated for a beat to organize her thoughts. At first they did not come, and she sighed in frustration. Albert turned onto his side and cupped a hand over her cheek. His gaze, though trained unwaveringly on her face, was relaxed. He would wait for her to find the words she wanted to say.

"What's going to happen now?" she finally asked. "We're here, but there's no way we can go back to the way things were. Too much has happened. We've both changed. I still… I love you, Albert. Thinking of you was what kept me sane, and if I lose you again, I don't know what I'll do. I wish we could just forget everything and go back three, four years, but I know that's impossible. I just…"

His thumb rubbed across her cheek soothingly. "I understand," he murmured. "And for right now, I'm willing to wait and see how things turn out." She sighed again, and he lightly brushed a lock of hair out of her face.

"I was planning to move out of this apartment soon," he remarked. "There are just too many memories here. The lease is almost up, and I've been looking around for something suitable. I found a small split-level house in the next county; still close enough that I can commute to work, but far enough from here that everything will seem new." He paused and judged her expression. "Would you prefer that?"

"I think… I think I would."

The next day, Albert contacted the owners of the house he'd found, and arranged to come by to take a brief tour. By then, of course, Sherry had come to drop Takoa back off with her rightful owners. The sleek torti made a show of mewing and rubbing against Albert's leg; she sniffed Jill's hand curiously, but appeared not to recognize her. Jill wasn't surprised.

After that, they got into the Eclipse (Jill had to admit that it was a nice car, if not as extravagant as his Audi) and drove for about half an hour, into the city of Springdale, Maryland; within a short commute of SAARIBOW in the outskirts of D.C., but in a completely different setting than their previous apartment. Albert pulled into the driveway of a handsome little house, decorated with faded moss-green paint and tawny bricks. They both stepped out of the car and were greeted at the door by the owner: an older man, looking like a new retiree with too much residual energy. He greeted them with a smile and welcomed them into the house.

"I'm glad you could make it up today, actually, since I just finished repainting the spare room downstairs. Can I get you anything to drink?" he asked.

Jill politely declined the offer, and he took the two on an abbreviated tour of the place. There were three bedrooms and three bathrooms, all with showers, and several rooms on the bottom level that could be converted into office spaces or storage. The current owner had kept the place in good shape, and he told them that he probably wasn't going to take all of the furniture when he moved out. "I'm downsizing, so I won't need all this extra stuff," he explained. And since the price he was asking reflected the state of the market, it was nearly irresistible.

Jill found herself becoming rather fond of the place, as they toured through it. The structure was several decades old, and had stood through some rough weather and several fallen trees; the owner swore by the integrity of the place, and Jill believed him. It had a homey feel that just couldn't be achieved by an apartment, no matter how well decorated. She caught Albert's eye and nodded; if he was willing to get the place, she was all aboard. He nodded in return, and told the owner they'd be in touch. The man showed them out with the same warm smile and wished them a good day.

After that, Jill and Albert stopped to have lunch with Chris at a shopping center near their current apartment. The three sat down at the booth, and Jill looked around with something approaching confusion in her expression.

It had been so long since she'd been there that it was nearly alien: all the people bustling about, their casual chatter, it seemed unfamiliar. Invasive, almost. She knew it was a natural reaction and she'd get used to it eventually, but for the short-term, it was slightly uncomfortable.

Her table-mates clearly noticed this, because Albert lightly touched her hand, and when she looked back over, Chris was giving her a concerned look. "You all right?"

She managed a faint smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just… not used to this."

Their server came up and took their drink orders; as soon as the teen left, Chris reached across the table to cover her hand with one of his. "We can leave, if you need to," he offered, but she shook her head.

"No, it's all right. I'd rather be here than sitting around doing nothing… I'd prefer trying to get back into the swing of real life."

He seemed to understand, for he retracted his hand and said no more on the subject, though he did seem more vigilant toward her changes in mood. She had to smile. Sometimes, Chris got overly protective, and while it was just endearing for now, she knew it was going to get old. But she had already resigned herself to the fact that she'd have everyone treating her like fragile glass for a while, until she recovered a little. It was inevitable.

They moved into the house a few weeks later. Chris, Claire and Sherry – who miraculously had a day off – helped them transport and arrange their belongings from the apartment to the new place. The previous owner also lent a hand, and as they were taking a break he good-naturedly chatted about the neighborhood.

There was an elementary school a few blocks away, with a track that many people used to walk their dogs. The maze-like grid of houses had its own labyrinth of hidden paths that wound through the area like game trails; some of them wended along next to the creek that trickled through the neighborhood.

The whole thing was quaint, and such a change from their usual environment that Jill and Albert quickly settled in. Albert set up a study in the office space downstairs, and they took the master bedroom with its attached bathroom. The front room was a comfortable den-like area, where Jill liked to sit and glance out the windows as she watched TV or perused a book.

There was a substantial backyard that Takoa, once they were confident she wouldn't try to go back to the apartment complex, loved to explore. It faced west, making it a perfect place to sit and watch the sun set.

That was where Albert found Jill one evening, not long after they had moved in. Takoa, who wasn't used to being allowed outside much, was sitting next to the beach-towel Jill had spread on the grass. The torti had reacquainted with Jill and now they were close again, since Jill paid her attention (unlike Albert who was often too busy to pet her or play).

He sat down next to Jill and leaned back on one elbow, following her gaze to the resplendent array of rusty oranges and honey-golds that vaulted above, staining the clouds' underbellies with rose. "How are you, dear heart?"

Jill's fingers idly toyed with the hardback cover of the book she had been reading. "Peaceful," she replied, a smile playing about her lips. "For once. I like it here. It's a fresh start." She rolled onto her side and rested her arm across his chest. "And what about you? Already impatient to go back to SAARIBOW?"

She knew him too well; he smirked. "Perhaps. However, I have recently found something to occupy my time that is not in the lab at SAARIBOW," he purred, cupping her cheek and stroking his thumb across her lips.

Jill leaned down to bestow a kiss onto his lips. "And what is that?" she asked, tilting her head in mock curiosity.

"I'm look at her right now, in fact."

Jill smiled and leaned her cheek against his chest, listening to the steady thrum of his heart and letting the warmth of his skin seep into hers. Her eyes slid closed as she released a sigh, content to let him lightly stroke the side of her face. Moments such as this were the most valuable things, in her mind; memories that couldn't be taken away. "I love you," she murmured.

Albert propped himself up and pulled her face closer into a gentle kiss. "And I love you, my very dear heart." Their brows touched as Jill's hand fell from brushing his hair into place down to the collar of his shirt, a mischievous look tugging up one corner of her mouth. He caught her suggestion. "Shall we go back inside?"

She got up without a word, gathering her book and scooping Takoa up off the grass. She carried the mewing cat back in while Albert collected the towel; they placed their burdens, Takoa included, on the dryer in the laundry room leading to the back door and trotted upstairs. They slid into their bedroom and Albert pulled the door shut.

As they both crawled onto the bed, they were eager but still gentle. They had both been back long enough for their thoughts to go back to these desires, but the passion and need was tempered. It was almost like their first time again, and it was a chance for them to explore each other and reacquaint after such a long time apart. Instead of heated glances they studied each other with tender curiosity. Albert lounged on his back and allowed Jill's hands to roam, finding the decades-old scars and the new marks Uroboros had left on his upper body. His own fingers found the marks left by the P-30 applicator and traced the ring of thin punctures, golden-orange meeting soft gray.

After all was said and done, they lay together and basked, Jill once more with her cheek resting against his shoulder. He had his arms around her, and they watched the ceiling fan stir the air lazily for a time, savoring the afterglow and the moment of peace.

Jill absently watched the hand Albert had draped over his chest, which tapped occasionally as some thought occupied the tyrant's mind. "What're you thinking about?" she asked softly, not wanting to disrupt the complacence that had settled over them.

"Reassuring myself. It's nothing," he replied.

Her brows furrowed. "Reassuring yourself about what?"

"The test results on your immune system."

Jill rolled her eyes. "Albert, how many times did you redo all of the tests? Two or three times? If they came up the same every time I think we'll be fine. I'm not going to get sick."

"I know. It's just difficult to undo a decade-long habit. I should have remembered to buy –"

"Albert, I seriously doubt condoms have been on your shopping list in the past three years. Between the t-antibodies from Raccoon and whatever that serum did to my system, I'm sure that if anything transmits I'll be fine. You tested against everything you have, right? From what I read of the report you and Darren did, nothing got through," Jill asserted. Though she wasn't surprised at all, she had hoped that Albert would let himself relax.

She traced her index finger around the discolored area near his solar plexus left by the Uroboros weak-point that had manifested in the volcano. "I was already immune to Uroboros anyway since my cells were used to make it."

He brought up one hand to comb through her hair. The roots were beginning to darken into a sandy, caramel brown; lighter than the coppery sepia it had been before, but losing the platinum blonde tones nonetheless. Her irises were also fading back, having reached a gray-blue by now. They weren't sure if her hair and eyes would darken any further; her complexion hadn't changed much, though she had been spending enough time outdoors to regain a healthy tan.

"I know," he sighed. "But the risk still worries me. I don't want one stupid mistake to cost me so dearly."

"It won't, Albert." Jill raised a hand to lightly stroke the side of his face soothingly. "After all we've been through, I won't let it."

He snorted wryly, and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

Jill laid her head back on his shoulder and idly traced the lines of his chest. A thought came to her mind then, and she glanced up at his face, wondering how he would react. He cracked an eye open. "What's on your mind, dear heart?"

She went back to watching her hand follow the smooth lines of his pectoral muscles. "Just thinking."


She moved down to trace this abdominal muscles and obliques. How was the best way to say it…? "The future. Our future."

She sensed a bit of concern from him and looked back to his face. His brows were furrowed subtly. "Nothing bad. Just thinking about the future," she assured him.

"You're being vague, Jill," he scolded.

Well, might as well be out with it. She exhaled heavily and rested her head on his shoulder once more. "It's something that was on my mind before everything went wrong, but it we hadn't quite reached an appropriate time for it to be more than a whimsy. But…" she sighed. "I guess it's a biological imperative that's been creeping up on me. Unlike you, I'm still getting older, and soon enough it'll be too late to do anything. I just –"

"Jill." He knew what she was getting at. She looked back up at him. "It's not possible."

"What?" She sat up enough to fully face him.

He propped himself up on his elbow. "Infected can't reproduce. I haven't specifically tested to see if my semen is viable, but even if it is, the genetics won't match up. Even if fertilization occurs, it will in all likelihood spontaneously abort within days. Progenitor-based viruses are not kind to fetal development."

"Didn't you tell me that Umbrella made Hunters by infecting a human embryo?" Jill demanded. It wasn't much of an argument, she knew, but his outright rejection of the idea was troublesome.

"Embryos that were grown in the lab and carefully monitored, where we had the ability to directly manipulate them if anything went wrong. Those conditions do not exist for a fetus growing inside a human uterus."

Jill sat up completely, folding her legs under her. Her brows furrowed. "Albert, are going to not even try just because of that? Since you haven't done the tests, there's no way to know if it is or isn't possible!"

"Jill, it is not safe. Ignoring the potential to pass the infection directly between us, if a fetus did begin to grow and then abort, do you realize how easy it would be for something to go wrong? Every cell in my body has the viral insertion by now, even my semen, which means that even assuming that our genomes are similar enough to hybridize successfully, the fetus would be infected."

"So you aren't even interested in trying because of fear," Jill stated flatly.

"As I said before: I'm not going to lose you again."

"You talk about risks like you've never done anything dangerous in your life," she snapped, becoming more and more incised by his belligerence.

"If it was me, I wouldn't object so strenuously. However –"

"What am I made of; glass?" Jill sat up straighter, fists clenching. "I'm not as fragile as you seem to think I am, Albert."

He narrowed his eyes. There may have been something in them akin to contrition, but Jill didn't see it. "Comparatively, you are."

Throwing her hands up in frustration, Jill got off the bed and paced over to the closet to retrieve a nightshirt. "I may not be a tyrant, Albert, but I'm not going to shatter if the slightest thing goes wrong. I'm tired of being treated like the slightest breeze is going to knock me over."

Before she could quite make it to the closet, a hand was on her shoulder, pulling her around to face his stern features. "I'm just not going to take any chances, dear heart. I've come too close to losing everything."

Jill snatched a robe from the peg and jerked her shoulder out of his grasp. "You've lost everything?" She scoffed. "I can't believe you're being so selfish, Albert. Try thinking about what I want and need." With that, she stalked out of the room, leaving him clenching and unclenching his jaw.

The next day, when Jill came up the stairs from her night spent in the guest room, she was alone in the house. Albert had left a note saying that he was at SAARIBOW and would call later. Her anger had cooled once she took into consideration the fact that he was just concerned about her well-being, but she was still piqued enough to snort scathingly as she tossed the note into the trash can. "That's his response to any stress. Bury himself in his work and wait for it to go away."

Jill decided she'd had enough sitting around the house. She got dressed and headed for the door with every intention of walking into town. It wasn't far enough for her to waste the time to catch a bus, and either way, she preferred being active. She had her hand on the doorknob when the cell phone she had recently acquired went off.

The caller ID informed her that it was Albert. She found it odd that he was calling so soon, but answered anyway. "Hello?"

"I take it you saw my note."

"Yes. Presumably no one at SAARIBOW was shocked to see you back so soon."

"I had made arrangements to start back this week."

Not surprising at all. "Thanks for telling me." There was no reply for a moment, and Jill sighed. "Look, Albert –"

"No, you're right. I apologize. Last night, I was being rather selfish. You have to understand, Jill, that I wasn't meaning to hurt you with the things I said."

Jill paused, looking at her phone incredulously. "Woah, wait. Hold on a second. You, Albert Wesker, apologizing? Is there a way to make this phone record conversations?"

On the other end, Albert sighed. "Jill, I'm being serious."

A smile had crept unbidden to Jill's lips. "I know, I know; but you so rarely apologize for anything that it always surprises me."

She could almost hear him rolling his eyes. "I'm aware."

Leaning against the closet across from the front door, Jill crossed one arm over her stomach. "Apology accepted, Albert. I thought about what you said, and I understand your concerns. I still happen to think you're being overly paranoid, but we can come to some compromise about this. Just know that it's not something that I haven't given a lot of consideration. I just… I want to move on. I want to put the past where it belongs and try to gain a little normalcy in my life."

"I understand that." He paused. "May we continue this conversation when I return?"

"When will you be home?"

"Six o'clock, probably."

Earlier than he had in the past. "All right. I'll see you then." She shut the phone and went back to her original task of trotting down the brick steps and down the gentle slope of the driveway. The walk into town got her heart pumping and gave her a chance to sort through her thoughts further. They had already settled in the way only a night's sleep could settle them, but now that she was no longer upset, they required further contemplation.

Once she reached her destination of the mall – nothing like aimlessly browsing to kill time – she had come to the conclusion that what Albert said had its merit. There were risks to any normal pregnancy, and when you threw something like the t-virus and its relatives into anything it always amplified the potential for disaster. That, if anything, was a lesson she had learned years ago.

Still, he was being paranoid. Or… the more she thought about it, the more she came to realize that there was more to his objections than the safety issue. As she wandered through Sears with part of her concentration actually on what she was seeing, in case she saw something useful, Jill contemplated that possibility. What else could he have a problem with?

That wasn't too hard to figure out. As far as she knew, he'd never so much as considered offspring; it didn't seem to be a priority at any level. She well knew that he was single-minded, and once he had an outlet through which to direct his drive, he didn't appreciate anything new trying to pull his attention away. That wasn't to say he didn't like change, generally speaking, but he had his set of priorities and it took a lot of effort to convince him to reorder them.

Also, though he would never admit it, he was still adjusting to this new change in his lifestyle and adding yet another new situation even more alien than the current one was not something he was prepared to deal with. It was probably weird enough to find himself trying to fall back into having another person around, sharing his space. The first month or so after returning from Africa had been like the very beginning of their relationship all over again, since both of them had changed so radically that it was less like picking up the pieces as it was starting anew. And honestly, that was probably for the better.

Jill paused in her browsing to grab a milkshake and a bench to occupy. It wasn't as if she didn't understand where he was coming from. She'd originally had her misgivings, back when the idea first came to mind. She had known it was out of the question until they had reached a point where they could properly settle into a stable enough situation to raise a child; she had come to terms with the fact that it might never be possible for one reason or another. That wasn't what had upset her so much the night before.

There was also the concern that: was it really fair to bring a child into a lifestyle like theirs? Even now that Jill had officially left the BSAA, Albert wasn't likely to feel any need to leave SAARIBOW. He had invested too much energy and effort; to be honest, he probably needed it as much as they needed him. And to have a parent involved in anti-bioterror, even on the level Albert was, wasn't ideal. And Jill knew that even though she was done with the BSAA, she wouldn't be content with a boring desk job. She would find something engaging whenever she was ready to find work, and for her, engaging meant that it had a level of risk.

That wasn't even taking into consideration the various philosophical arguments against bringing a child into the world. They passed Jill's mind and she gave them some thought, but honestly, she'd never been the type to concern herself with nebulous philosophy. She was an action-oriented person, and she was concerned with the immediate, physical ramifications.

By the time late afternoon rolled around and Jill went back home to contemplate making dinner, she had thought through everything and made her final conclusions. There were pros and cons, but as far as she was concerned, it was worth it. She would present Albert with her thoughts, let him present his, and they would reach a compromise that suited both of them. She knew one thing that would be a deal-breaker: if he wasn't going to be involved. She wanted it, but if she was going to have to do it alone for any length of time, it ceased to be worth the effort. He would be an equal party from start to finish or it just wasn't going to happen. She wanted this to be for both of them, not just herself.

With her thoughts worked through, she could go about heating up leftovers with a fairly clear head, and waited patiently for Albert to return. And, as promised, he pulled up not long after six o'clock and stepped into the house to the smells of tenderloin.

Takoa greeted him at the door with a purr and a few passes through his legs, before she allowed him to make his way into the kitchen without getting his feet tangled in cat. He seemed surprised to see her looking so serene, and accepted a kiss in greeting before raising his eyebrows questioningly. "What brought this on?"

Jill shrugged slightly and transferred a portion of tenderloin onto her plate, leaving the rest for him. "I spent the day thinking about things, and I'm okay with what I figured out. Let's eat before we get too deep into the debate, shall we?"

Once they had both eaten their fill and were sitting back on the living room couch, leaning against the opposing armrests to face one another, Jill broached the subject. "I just want to hear your thoughts on the matter, no matter how silly they sound. I'm taking this very seriously and I hope you are as well."

His face was blank and contemplative. He took a long moment to organize his thoughts and take a sip of his drink. "As I said before, your safety and well-being is my main concern. Your immune system is probably able to handle the exposure you'd get from unprotected intercourse, but should you carry an infected fetus, the risk increases because of the close proximity of maternal and natal blood. And, should an infected fetus spontaneously abort, I can say with confidence that it would not go smoothly.

"It also depends on which virus the fetus carries, and whether it carries more than one. Uroboros naturally is the lesser of the two evils, given that it was designed to be compatible with a wider range of genomes and encourage the survival of its host. I am more concerned if Arklay carries over. Arklay is too mutagenic to be at all safe for a developing fetus, and its presence would almost certainly engender complications.

"I'm not sure how well your body could withstand an aborted fetus infected with either Uroboros or Arklay. Both have a tendency to mutate uncontrollably when their host takes damage or dies, and immune stability aside, it could – and likely would – cause injuries to you, and it would put anyone around you at risk. Of course, this is ignoring the chance that both viruses would carry over, which would almost certainly result in abortion very early on. The sooner it happens, honestly, the better, since the smaller mass the viruses have to begin with, the less damage they can cause."

Jill furrowed her brows. "How likely is it that one or both viruses make it?"

He sighed and rubbed his temple. "Twenty-five percent all ways; none, both, or either one or the other. It's the luck of the draw as to which genes of mine make it to fertilization." He dropped his hand to look at her. "No matter how you look at it, simple probability says that there is a seventy-five percent chance that at least one of the viruses carries over."

That wasn't terribly comforting. Jill wasn't sure she was happy with that. She had thought the chances were slimmer – but apparently she'd been wrong on that count. Seeing her expression, he nodded. "Now you see why I am concerned."

"Yes… I do," Jill admitted, her mind once more a whirl of thought. She took this new information into consideration, and it added weight to the list of cons in her mind, but before she made any further decisions she wanted to hear Albert out. "Is there anything else? I can't think you haven't put any thought into it at all since last night."

"I was awake the better part of the night thinking," Albert told her, shrugging one shoulder. "And there is more, but they are all personal, selfish reasons that are my problem to deal with."

As expected. "I want to hear them anyway, Albert," she said, shaking her head. When he gave her an irritated look, she returned it with a stern one. "Seriously, Albert. This is important to me, and what you think about it is even more important since I don't want to force you into anything."

He heaved a sigh and looked across the room. "To be brutally honest, it's just nothing that ever interested or concerned me. It's nothing to do with fear or hesitation, since I had quite a bit of experience helping with Sherry when she was growing up, but my experience then was enough to convince me that it wasn't something I wanted to get involved with. Sherry was an obligation, at first, and even after I got used to her presence and began enjoying it, caring for her was still an obligation. Having her around was an inconvenience, many times. I am aware that the situations are vastly different, but not so much that having a child underfoot will not continue to be an irritation."

She certainly hadn't expected that. Jill sighed. Sometimes, she was convinced that Albert never parted from some of his bachelor ways. "So that's how you see children? Inconveniences? What about the kids you bonded with at your apartment before you joined the AUM?"

"They were never directly under my care. I don't object to children, and have found them to be much more pleasant to deal with, in many ways, than adults, but they present a hassle that I just don't have the patience for." Before Jill could say anything, he raised a hand. "Let me clarify. I would not neglect a child if it became my responsibility, but such a situation is not desirable to me."

Well, that was disheartening. Jill suppressed the desire to call him out, since she had asked for his honest opinion and that's what he was giving her. It wasn't his fault that it wasn't what she wanted to hear. She studied the leather upholstery while she mulled over the information she had just been imparted.

"Now that I have said what I have to say, I would request that you return the favor, dear heart," Albert said quietly.

Jill's answer came easily, given the thought she had put into the matter. "I'm honestly not sure how much of what I feel is part of the instinctive urge to pass on my genes, but I do know that it's something that's been on my mind for years. It fell into the background for a while, obviously, but I've been considering it since before we got engaged." If he was surprised at all by this confession, she wasn't watching his face to see it. "I knew, back then, that if it happened at all it would have to wait for a time when we were settled and stable enough to provide a healthy environment. And, even though neither of us are perfect, I feel like I'm far enough on the road to recovery – however much one can recover after the bullshit we've gone through – that I can handle it, personally. It's an important decision in any adult's life, the question of bringing a child into the world, but I already know what I want to do."

She finally looked up at his face, which was neutral. "I just want to have something that's a little bit of both of us. I feel like, if something like that exists, then no matter what happens to either of us, some part of what we were will live on. I guess I'm just looking for something concrete and tangible to hold onto after everything that's happened."

She looked back down at her lap. "Along with that, I know that unless you are one hundred percent as invested and committed to it as I am, it'll stay nothing more than a thought. I want this to be something we do together, from start to finish; I don't know if I'd be able to do it alone, and I don't want to alienate you by pushing something into your life that you didn't want in the first place."

She felt the couch shift, and when his hand curled under her chin to lift it back up, she didn't resist. "I've weighed the pros and cons on my end, and I still want to go through with it. You can take all the time you need to think about it, and when you figure out what you want to do, let me know. I won't argue or try to sway you even if your answer isn't the one I want. You're too stubborn for me to change your mind once it's made up, anyway." She smiled faintly, and it was mirrored by the subtlest quirk of his mouth.

Jill tilted her head to kiss his hand and stood from the couch, gathering their dishes. He let her go without a word, the both of them too absorbed in their own separate thoughts.

Crickets had begun their nocturnal serenade; a high-pitched counterpoint to the low whir of the air conditioning system and the lazy hum of the ceiling fan. Jill was already curled up in bed, a book braced on her knees, as Albert came into the room. He changed and slid under the sheet, sitting so they were at eye-level.

Sensing his attention, Jill closed the book and turned to look at him.

"I've come to a decision," he said softly. Jill nodded and inhaled, prepared for whatever he might say.

"Because of the various biological complexities involved, I have doubts that it is even possible for the two of us to produce viable offspring." Well wasn't this off to an optimistic start. "I still have my reservations about the risk of complications. However, I have had to remind myself that you are perfectly capable of recognizing and calculating for yourself the levels of danger involved in any undertaking. And, if you have deemed the risk worth the reward, then I will trust your judgment." He inhaled and huffed a soft sigh. "Once those concerns were addressed, I found that I could not honestly defend my more selfish reasons for objecting. They stemmed from a situation so far removed from the one we are dealing with right now that it was foolish of me to cling to them."

A smile had been growing on Jill's face. "So in a less wordy and long-winded manner of speaking…," she prompted, unable to resist taking that little jab at him.

It did not go unnoticed, for he gave her a sharp look with absolutely nothing to back it up before continuing. "I am willing to try."

You can tell that the first third or so of that was kind of stilted and forced, but after that I managed to get it typed in one long outpouring of uncharacteristic coherence. This always seems to happen over the span of the wee hours of the morning (it's nearly six in the morning now) and it's incredibly frustrating to lose so much sleep.

Overall though, I'm very happy with how the last two thirds of this turned out. Very happy indeed. We got just enough drama to remind us that both of them are human (well mostly) but they dealt with the spat like adults, and reached an acceptable compromise while we got probably one of the fluffier moments of the whole fic. I was even touched by Jill's little speech.