DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Spelling/Goldberg Productions and Viacom Entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.

TITLE: Just When You Thought The Heartbreak Was Ending

RATING: PG-13

SETTING: Early third season

SUMMARY: It's been a rough year for Jill. First she gets shot and loses hers' and Mike's baby, then her psychotic ex-boyfriend, Cleve Andrews shows up to terrorize her and finally her father dies, forcing her to confront some unpleasant demons from her past. That entire trauma is bound to make anyone rather shell shocked. This story takes place almost a year after 'Justice For Jill Danko' (original airdate: Oct. 22, 1973).

AUTHOR'S NOTES: First and foremost, I want to thank Bridget for beta reading for me, as usual. I promise that I will finish my other story in progress, ASAP.
The idea for this story came after a recent tragedy involving my boyfriend's family. His niece asked her mother how long it would be before her heart stopped hurting. So the thought occurred to me to delve into what Jill must've been feeling in the months after the tragedy, especially after everything else that got piled on top of it, including Willie leaving and being replaced by Chris.

Also, I'm going by series canon with this story by having Mike and Jill's anniversary in October, which was when the 'JFJD' episode aired.

CHAPTER ONE: The Darkest Hour Is Always Just Before Dawn

It was the middle of a cool September night. Jill woke up in a cold sweat, badly shaken from a dream she hadn't had in months. She wondered if she had cried out, but one look at Mike still soundly sleeping beside her told her that she hadn't. The cry had only been in her dream. She clutched the blanket tighter around her chest and tried to go back to sleep, but as before when she'd had the dream, she knew that sleep wasn't going to return. After several minutes she gave up on going back to sleep and quietly got out of bed. She slipped on her robe before going into the living room. Walking over to the sliding glass doors, she looked out over the darkened apartment complex, before quietly opening the door and stepping out into the cool night. She stood there with the breeze ruffling her hair and whipping the bottom edge of her robe, trying to quiet the terror she always felt every time she had the dream.

Mike rolled over in his sleep and reached out for Jill, only to discover an empty bed. He sat up and looked toward the bathroom, to see if there was a light on. When all he saw was darkness, he sat up and switched his lamp on. Jill's side of the bed was cold, so he knew she'd been up for a while. He got up, concerned and went looking for her. His brow knit in concern when he walked into the living room and saw the patio doors open. Looking at the clock on the wall, he saw it was just part two thirty in the morning.

Jill was standing at the patio railing when she felt a familiar presence behind her. She smiled as Mike wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him, his breath warm in her ear, his heartbeat almost as familiar as her own.

"What're you doing awake?" Mike whispered in her ear.

"I had the dream again. I haven't had it in so long that I was hoping I'd never have it again," Jill replied, placing her hands on top of his.

"Why didn't you wake me up? I would've helped you through it," Mike told her tenderly, tightening his hold on her.

"There isn't anything you can do, Mike, except be there and you're doing that now," she informed him, turning around to face him.

"I know and I'm sorry. You know, it's been almost a year. Why don't we start talking about having another baby?" He asked, his face almost hopeful that Jill would finally say yes but she was already shaking her head.

"No, Mike. I'm not ready. There's been too much this past year and sometimes, I feel like I can't even think anymore. I'm sorry if I woke you up. Let's go back to bed," she suggested, pulling free of Mike's arms and walking back into the apartment.

Mike watched her as he slowly closed the sliding glass door and locked it. Jill's behavior had been somewhat distant since their return from Atlanta in July. He knew she was still trying to come to terms with her father's death, but Willie hadn't made things easier for her. They'd no sooner come back from Atlanta when he sprang the bombshell on them that he was leaving L.A. to return to Ohio to help care for his ailing father. They'd all considered Willie family and his leaving was like a dagger to the heart for Jill. Things had only gotten worse when she'd met Willie's replacement, a young man named Chris Owens, fresh from the police academy. Mike and Terry had gotten used to Chris and though he wasn't Willie, they liked him well enough. Jill was an entirely different story. Although she was civil to Chris, she didn't really like him all that much.

Jill hadn't had nightmares about the baby in four months or more, since right after the return of Cleve the previous spring. At first she'd had them on a regular basis, and then within a couple of months they'd started to taper off to once or twice a month. By the time Cleve had shown up she'd pretty much stopped having them. As soon as Cleve was killed and Mike got her safely back home and had explained everything to her, the nightmares started again. After a couple of weeks, they once again stopped and hadn't returned at all until now.

Jill was lying under the blankets with the covers up around her chin when Mike got into bed beside her. She didn't resist when he moved over and pulled her closer to him. After holding her close for several minutes she finally fell asleep. Mike lay there watching her, hoping she'd stay asleep for the rest of the night. He remembered too many nights when the nightmare repeated itself several times. He hoped this wasn't going to be one of those nights. After watching her sleep for several minutes, he finally fell asleep as well, instinctively tightening his arms around her.

When the alarm went off a few hours later, Mike reached over to shut it off; surprised that Jill had actually remained in his arms for once, something that didn't happen very often. She was sleeping so soundly that he hated to have to wake her up for the start of another workday. He decided to let her sleep long enough for him to make coffee and get in the shower. He disengaged her from his arms as carefully as he could before slipping out of bed and walking to the kitchen. He had just plugged the coffee pot in when Jill came softly padding into the kitchen. He smiled as she slipped her arms around him from behind and kissed him on the back of his neck. He turned around and pulled her closer to him, softly kissing her on the lips.

"Good morning. I was going to let you sleep a little longer," he remarked, leaning against the counter and holding her close to him.

"I heard the alarm go off, then I felt you get out of bed. You're not very sneaky for a cop," she teased with a grin.

"Then I'll have to work on that, won't I?" He smiled back, glad that she seemed to be in a pretty good mood. "You know, as much as I'd like to sweep you off of your feet and take you back to bed, the clock on the wall says we don't have time."

"We could skip the coffee," Jill suggested, playing with the buttons on his pajama top.

"No, we can't, because the guys are going to be here in about 20 minutes. Do you want the shower first or do you want me to get in?" Mike asked, cringing inwardly as he felt Jill stiffen up at the mention of the guys coming over.

"No, you go ahead. I'll fix your thermos while you're in there," Jill answered in a tight voice, pulling out of Mike's embrace and getting two coffee cups from the cabinet.

"I'll be out in a little while," Mike promised, kissing her before leaving the room. Mike was working on his second cup of coffee about half an hour later when the doorbell rang. He opened the door and let Terry and Chris in.

"Where's Jill?" Terry asked curiously, going to the cabinet and removing two coffee cups. He handed one to Chris while he poured himself a cup of coffee.

"In the shower. She didn't have a good night," Mike answered quietly

"Oh boy. Is she okay?" Terry asked with a grimace.

Chris looked confused.

"Yeah, she's just a little shaken up," Mike replied.

"Then you'll just have to see what you can do to cheer her up. After all, I'm sure that a little Danko TLC is just what the doctor ordered," Terry said.

"Am I missing something?" Chris asked blankly.

"Yeah, but not here and not now," Mike answered quickly, looking toward the closed bedroom door.

As if on cue, Jill came walking out of the bedroom, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she walked toward the kitchen.

"Good morning, Jill," Terry greeted.

"Morning, guys," Jill said as she walked over and poured another cup of coffee.

"We have to go," Mike suddenly said as he glanced at his watch. "I'll see you this afternoon. I love you."

"I love you, too. Be careful," Jill said, kissing him.

CHAPTER TWO: Sometimes its Good Just To Have Someone To Listen

Jill got to the hospital about an hour later. When she walked up to the nurses' station she caught the end of a conversation two of the mid-shift nurses were having regarding a case from the previous night.

"...I can't believe some women have the nerve to call themselves mothers," the first nurse concluded, shuddering in disbelief.

"I know. Just when you think you've seen everything there is to see in this world, something new pops up," the second nurse agreed, looking up to see Jill standing there. "You missed it, Jill. Some woman came in with her newborn baby, screaming that it wasn't breathing. Come to find out, the baby wouldn't stop crying, so she shook it in frustration. She didn't know what kind of damage you can do to a baby by shaking it."

"What happened to the baby?" Jill asked in horror.

"Oh, he lived, but the docs say he'll probably be blind and severely brain damaged," the first nurse answered.

Jill's friend, Meggy Moran, was finishing up reports while listening to the three nurses. She was one of the few people who knew everything that had happened the night of the restaurant shooting. Jill had made it clear before she'd returned to work that she didn't want everybody knowing about the baby. Meggy had been working the night Jill had been brought in. She still remembered the look of desperation on Mike's face when they'd taken Jill to surgery.

She looked up from her reports to see Jill standing there with tears in her eyes, still in a state of shock over the story her co-workers had just told her.

"Don't you ladies have something better to do than gossip?" Meggy prompted sharply as the two women jumped.

"Yes, ma'am," the women chorused nervously as they fled the area.

"Jill, are you okay?" Meggy asked in concern.

"Yeah, I just didn't sleep well last night," Jill admitted absentmindedly.

"Look for me later and we'll have lunch," Meggy promised as she walked by Jill.

"Okay, thanks," Jill agreed.



At lunchtime, the two women went into the nurses' lounge. Jill stared vacantly into her coffee cup.

"Do you want to talk about what's on your mind?" Meggy asked.

"I dreamed about the baby this morning. It started me thinking about that night and about Cleve coming back and...I don't know. This has been such a long year," Jill sighed, holding her head in her hands.

"What exactly have you been thinking?" Meggy continued compassionately, gently squeezing her hand.

"I don't know. I haven't given that night much serious thought in a while. I just keep thinking of everything Wainz took away from us that night. I mean,. I can't even enjoy going out to dinner with my husband, anymore. Every noise, every person who walks through the door sets me on edge. Going out with Mike was something I used to enjoy very much. Now, I don't even have that anymore," she confessed as tears filled her eyes.

"You don't have it because you're not allowing yourself to have it. Jill, don't you realize that you're letting Wainz win? By not going out with Mike and doing things that you both enjoyed before this happened, he's winning. You can't let him win. You have to take some kind of control over your life again," Meggy stressed.

"You're right," Jill admitted in a small voice. "Mike wants us to try again to have a baby. He brings it up all the time. I don't know, Meggy. I keep remembering the look on his face the next morning when I asked him about the baby. He was so hurt. I never want to see that look on his face again."

"Jill, the odds of something like that happening again are a million to one," Meggy told her.

"I know. I just keep thinking about the dream," Jill repeated, rubbing her eyes wearily.

"I'll tell you what. Why don't you go ahead and clock out? Go home and get some sleep. You look like you could use it," Meggy offered

"Thanks, Meggy," Jill replied gratefully.



Meanwhile Terry and Chris were on patrol. Terry could practically see the wheels turning in his new partner's head.

"Go ahead and say whatever it is that's on your mind," Terry told him.

"What?" Chris asked, startled. "Oh, I'm sorry. I just kind of still feel like the odd man out around you guys sometimes."

"I know. So did I, at first," Terry smiled.

"Yeah, but you don't any more and I still do. I mean, I hate feeling like an idiot when you and Mike talk about things that I know nothing about. Mike mentioned nightmares this morning. Isn't that kind of a childish thing?" Chris asked.

"Not to Jill. Look, I can't talk to you about the reason for Jill's nightmares. That's up to her. Look, Chris, the one thing that Willie and I learned about Jill is to just give her time. Eventually, she'll open up to you and you won't feel so outside the loop. Okay?" Terry explained.

Chris nodded slowly. He just wished he knew just how MUCH time Jill would need...



A few hours later Terry ran into Mike as he was getting changed to go home.

"Curiosity is killing my partner," Terry informed him, opening his locker.

"Oh, boy," Mike groaned, putting his shoes on. "He's asking questions about this morning?"

"Just about the nightmare. I told him Jill would tell him if she wanted him to know," Terry answered honestly.

"I know she doesn't like him much," Mike said, shaking his head. "Let me see if I can talk to her...convince her to cut him some slack. I know Chris isn't Willie, but then, who is?"

"I told Chris she didn't like Willie and I much at first, either. I still remember the first thing Willie ever said to her at Officer Shaw's retirement party. 'Mike tells us you never sleep.' I knew she was going to hate both of us after that," Terry reminded him..

"I can't believe he actually said that to her," Mike laughed.

"Oh, that wasn't all. He also made a comment that he just thought you were picking her up that day at the bowling alley. He didn't realize she was your wife. That comment didn't go over well, either," Terry told his friend.

"Well, I think I'm going to leave here and go see if my wife wants a ride home from work. Maybe we'll go out and have dinner before going home," Mike stated, putting his uniform in his locker and closing the door.

"Has that gotten any easier?" Terry asked curiously.

"No, but at least we can get through a meal now without her or me freaking out and wanting to run out the front door," Mike admitted while he shook his head. ""I'll see you in the morning," Mike got up and headed for the door.

"Night, Mike," Terry called after him.



When Jill got home, she walked straight back to hers' and Mike's bedroom and stretched out on Mike's side of the bed, hugging his pillow to her chest. She wanted to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come. All she could do was think.

The months after the shooting had been hard...both for her and Mike. Mike had even had to resort to therapy because he couldn't deal with the guilt he felt about that night. Both of them had suffered nightmares and sleepless nights. Just as they'd started putting that awful night behind them, Cleve Andrews had shown up, all sweetness and charm. He was the Cleve Jill had known when she was 14. The warning bells should've gone off, but they didn't and by the time they finally did it was almost too late. When the guys had rescued her and killed Cleve, Jill was so terribly confused. It wasn't until they'd gotten home that Mike told Jill what Ryker had told him regarding Cleve. The fact that he'd been in a mental hospital hadn't really surprised Jill. She'd always felt that's where he'd belonged. What had surprised her was how obsessed he'd still been with her. The nightmares following that night had been worse than the ones she'd had when she'd first met Mike. Several nights in a row she'd awakened Mike screaming.

Her father passing away the past summer had been like the icing on a really bad year. Jill lay there thinking that she wasn't sure how much more she could take.



Meggy was working on charts when Mike stepped off of the elevator and walked up to the nurses' station.

"Oh, it's my second favorite cop. I'd say you were my favorite, but then my husband would probably object," Meggy greeted cheerfully, looking up and smiling.

"Well, seeing as how he's a captain and I'm a lowly patrolman, we don't want him objecting to anything," Mike smiled back. "Have you seen my wife wandering around anywhere? I'm here to offer her a ride home."

"She seemed so down this morning that I gave her the afternoon off," Meggy informed him.

"Yeah, she didn't have a great night," Mike agreed with a nod. "I was going to take her home and see what I could do to cheer her up. I guess I'd better put my plan into overdrive."

"That sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe that's all she needs -- a little TLC from her favorite cop."

"Well, I guess if I don't get home and set things right, I won't be her favorite cop for much longer," Mike laughed, waving to Meggy as he walked back to the elevators.

"Good night, Mike," Meggy called as he walked off.



Jill didn't know how long she'd been lying on the bed crying when she heard Mike's key in the front door. She quickly wiped her wet face on her t-shirt.

"Babe? Where are you?" Mike asked, walking into the apartment and holding a paper bag in his hand.

"I'm in here," she called out as he walked toward the bedroom with both hands behind his back. "Why do you have your hands behind your back?"

"I brought you something," Mike announced, bringing out a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream bag from behind his back.

"Why are you bringing me ice cream? Are you having an affair?" She asked suspiciously.

"Am I having a what?! No, I'm not having an affair! I stopped by the hospital today and Meggy said she thought you needed some cheering up. Do you want to talk about it?" He offered as he handed her the ice cream and the little pink spoon.

"Could you put this in the freezer? I don't feel much like ice cream right now," Jill stated, handing the ice cream and spoon back to Mike.

Mike returned to the bedroom a minute later, slipping off his shoes before settling on the bed beside Jill, who promptly curled up in his arms.

"Jill, I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong. Now, is it more than the dream this morning?" Mike asked, stroking her back slowly, willing her to relax. She was wound up tighter than a spring.

"Remember when I was in the accident last summer?" She began slowly, looking up at him.

"Remember? Yeah, what about it?" He asked, wondering where she was headed.

"Well, I thought Cleve was alive, right?"

Mike nodded warily.

"I thought Cleve was alive, but some part of me deep down remembered the night of the shooting. I just don't understand why I didn't forget about that, too. I would've been perfectly happy to never remember that night and the nightmares," she whispered as tears threatened to flow once again.

"Baby, that night and what happened is never going to go away. I wish I had some magic words to make it so you'd never dream about it again, but that isn't going to happen. I think the dreams will fade after a while, like the ones you had about Cleve when you first met me," he reminded her gently as she snuggled deeper into his embrace.

"Do you still have them? Dreams about that night?" She ventured hesitantly.

"Sometimes. They lessened after I talked to that therapist. You know, maybe you should talk to someone who isn't objective. Someone who doesn't know the history of that night. Someone like...say, Chris," Mike suggested.

Jill stiffened and sat up, glaring at him. "No way!"

"Oh, come on, Jill! Give the guy a chance. He isn't so bad. Sure, he's young and he isn't Willie, but Terry reminded me of something today.".

"What?" Jill asked suspiciously.

"The first night you met Willie and Terry wasn't exactly a grand occasion. He told me that Willie's first words to you were, and I quote, 'Mike tells us you never sleep.'"

"Mike, I can't talk to Chris," Jill protested, rolling her eyes. "I don't know what I would say to him."

"Just open the door a little and let him in. Hey, you didn't like me at first, either, remember?" He grinned at her.

"I didn't like you because you were a pest and you never left me alone," she grinned back.

"A pest?" He stared at her in mock indignation for a second, and then started laughing as he began to tickle her, causing her to scream with laughter.

"Mike, stop tickling me! You know it makes me mad!" She yelled as Mike stopped and looked down at her.

"So, am I still a pest?" He asked, brushing a lock of hair from her eyes.

"Yeah, but a pest in a nice way," she whispered as he bent down to gently brush her lips with his own.

"So, do you feel a little better now?" Mike asked, helping her sit back up.

"I don't know," she admitted, shrugging.

"Then I'm not doing my job. I promised your supervisor that I was going to try and cheer you up. How about a bubble bath for two?" He offered..

"You know, as much as I'd love to take a bubble bath with you, I'm not much in the mood for where our bubble baths usually lead," she told him.

"Hey, it doesn't have to lead to anything. We can just lie back in the tub and relax. Come on," he pressed, holding out his hand to her. "You could definitely use the relaxation."

A few minutes later, Jill lay back in Mike's in a tub full of bubbles as he wrapped his arms and legs around her.

"You know, if we ever get a house, I want a bathtub like you see in the movies. One that's big enough for two," Jill sighed, leaning back against Mike's chest and closing her eyes.

"Why? Sometimes close is nice," he breathed in her ear.

"Ummm," she agreed, feeling the tension slowly flow from her body.

Usually, when they shared the tub, their hands would start wandering after a short while, but Mike had made a promise, so he remained content to just hold Jill close to him. He could feel her starting to relax.

"Mike?" She whispered, breaking the silence in the quiet bathroom.

"What? I thought you were asleep there for a second," he smiled, kissing the top of her head.

"Does your plan to cheer me up include food? I'm starving," she confessed, straining to turn around to look up at him.

"You're hungry?" He asked

She nodded earnestly.

"How does pizza sound?"

"Pizza sounds wonderful," she sighed, squeezing his hands tightly.

"Well, let's get out of here and I'll see what I can do about getting us some food," he promised, as Jill reached over to pull the plug on the tub, letting the water slowly drain out.

An hour later they sat side by side on the sofa in their bathrobes eating pizza. Mike was glad to note that at least she was willing to eat. Maybe things were finally looking up.

After they finished, Mike took the trash into the kitchen before returning to the sofa and pulling Jill back into his arms.

"Thanks for the pizza. I feel much better now," she smiled as he kissed her.

"Hey, I couldn't have you wither away on me. I'm not done with my plan yet," he said, grinning at her.

"I feel much better. If I could just stop dreaming...," she broke off in a shaky voice.

"Is it the same dream you always have? Where you go into the room and Wainz is taking the baby?" Mike asked.

She nodded. "There was one variation last night. It wasn't Wainz this time, Mike. It was Cleve. I'm surprised I didn't wake up screaming. I know I screamed in my dream," she admitted, as tears began to slowly slide down her face.

"I'm sorry, baby. I wish you'd told me this last night," he soothed, holding her close and rubbing her back.

"I didn't know how to tell you. I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes," she stated, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her robe.

"Jill, I love you. If you're talking about what Terry and Chris think sometimes, let me worry about that. I love you," he re-emphasized, tilting her chin until she was looking him in the eye. "I'm always going to love you. Even with the nightmares and the not sleeping and the not eating. To me, that's part of the whole package. That's just who you are. I knew all of this going in and believe me, I'm not about to back away now."

"I love you, too," she slowly smiled. "Even if you are a pest."

"Oh, so now we're back to the pest thing, are we? I don't want to have to start tickling you again," he grinned at her.

"You won't have to," she answered, leaning forward and kissing him. "Well, I've had my bubble bath with my husband, I've eaten and cried my eyes out. All in all, it's been a rather crowded afternoon. I'm exhausted."

"That's good, because I definitely think you could use the sleep. Come on. I promise I'll keep my hands to myself," he vowed, helping her off of the sofa.

"Mike, if that was part of your master plan...," Jill started to say before Mike stopped her.

"It's okay. You said a while ago that you weren't in the mood and I respect that. Come on, let's go to bed," he offered, taking her hand and leading her toward their bedroom.

Jill fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillows, but unfortunately she didn't remain in a dreamless state for long.

Mike woke up a couple of hours later to her tossing and turning and crying out in her sleep. He moved over and gently shook her awake just as she bolted awake in terror. She burst into tears as Mike pulled her into his arms.

"Shh! It's okay," he soothed, gently rocking her as she continued crying. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"It's just when I think I'm getting past all of the bad stuff, it invades my dreams," she cried, clinging to Mike.

"I think the bad stuff's been invading your dreams because it's been on your mind lately. Maybe we should get away for a few days...see if maybe Lt. Ryker will let us stay at the lake house. I think maybe a change of scenery would do us both some good," he suggested.

"That might be nice," she agreed, tracing a pattern on his t-shirt.

"I'll talk to him when I go back to work tomorrow," he promised, settling back on his side of the bed and pulling Jill close to him.

Jill snuggled closer to him, listening to the sound of his heart beating in her ear, reveling in the sense of love and security that he always brought to her. He was almost asleep when he felt her fingers slowly trailing down his leg.

"What are you doing?" He asked as she smiled at him.

"Proving that you're not the only person around here who has roamin' hands and rushin' fingers," she grinned at him wickedly.

"I thought you weren't in the mood," he reminded her, gently moving her hands to more neutral territory.

"Oh, that was earlier. I'm a woman. I'm entitled to change my mind. But if you're not in the mood..." she trailed off, moving back to her side of the bed.

"I'm a man. I'm always in the mood," he informed her as he propped himself up on one elbow so he could look at her. He slowly brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes as he bent down to gently kiss each of her eyelids before moving lower to kiss her even more gently on the lips. When he saw the look of quiet intensity in her eyes, he deepened the kiss while moving his hand lower to cup her breast. She moaned in ecstasy as his lips moved down to caress her neck before moving lower, unbuttoning her gown to gently tease her breasts with his fingers, smiling as he heard Jill's quick intake of breath. He moved back up to kiss her once again, while continuing to caress her bare skin. He once again propped up on one elbow so he could look at her, something that he never tired of. Jill opened her eyes to look at him.

"What's wrong?" She asked, puzzled.

"Nothing. I just wanted to make you still wanted to do this," he told her.

"Oh, yeah. I very much still want to do this. I love you, Mike," she said, pulling him back down toward her.

CHAPTER THREE: MIKE EXPLAINS THINGS TO CHRIS

The next morning Chris found himself partnered with Mike on Terry's day off. He liked Mike well enough; they just never had a lot to talk about when they rode together. Chris figured he had a long day to look forward to.

"Were you able to catch up with Jill yesterday? Terry said you were going to try to give her a ride home from the hospital," Chris finally threw out, trying to make conversation.

"No, Meggy had given her the afternoon off. She wasn't having a good day," Mike replied.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Chris said in sympathy.

"I don't know how much, if anything, Terry's told you about me and Jill. A year ago, we were in a restaurant when a gunman walked in and started shooting up the place. Jill was injured in the shoot-out," Mike explained, glancing over at the young man.

"Oh, man, Mike. I'm so sorry," Chris exhaled. "Did they catch the perp?"

"He's in prison. He'll probably be there the rest of his life. Anyway, we were just starting to move past that night when her ex-boyfriend decided to show up. The guy was a total psychopath. By the time we realized how crazy he really was, it was almost too late," Mike sighed.

"Terry did tell me something about that. He said the guy would've killed him, Jill and Willie if you and Ryker hadn't shown up when you did," Chris said.

"Yeah, Ryker had to shoot him to keep him from hurting anybody else," Mike said. "Then, last summer Jill was involved in an accident that messed her up pretty badly. She still hasn't completely recovered from it. I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is Jill doesn't open up to people very easily. Not even to me, at first. Just try to give her some time, okay?"

"Okay. I guess I can do that," Chris agreed thoughtfully.



Jill was sitting on the sofa that afternoon when Mike came home from work. He got a beer out of the refrigerator before sitting down beside her. She curled up beside him as he gently stroked her hair.

"Bad day?" He ventured, noting her silence.

"No, just kind of long. How was your day?" She asked him.

"Not too bad. I talked to Chris and told him to give you some time to get used to him," he said, feeling her relax as he continued stroking her hair.

"How much did you tell him?"

"Well, I didn't tell him everything about that night. Just the basics. I didn't tell him about your father. I figured you could tell him about that and about the baby if you wanted him to know. Fair enough?"

She nodded. "Thanks, Mike," she sighed sleepily.

"Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't I call him and Terry and see if they want to go out and have pizza?" Mike suggested.

"I've got a better idea. Why don't you call them and we'll order pizza in? I really don't feel like going out tonight. My right hand's been acting all bizarre again. I don't feel like going out in public and dropping things," Jill admitted.

"The doctor told you that you'd have some problems for a while," Mike reminded her as he gently squeezed her right hand.

"I know. Call them and invite them over. I'm going to take a shower," she said, getting off of the sofa.

Mike sat there for a few minutes after Jill left the room before an idea occurred to him. The bathroom was already filled with steam when he walked in. He quickly removed his clothes before slowly pulling the shower curtain back, causing Jill to jump a foot in the air.

"Mike, what're you doing?" She exclaimed, trying to catch her breath.

"Well, I just thought that since you were having problems with manual dexterity, that maybe I could wash your back," he smiled.

"I thought Terry and Chris were coming over," she countered, playing along with Mike's game.

"I haven't called them yet," he answered in a deep voice, stepping into the shower and pulling her close.

"Maybe you don't have to call them at all," she murmured.

"Maybe I don't," he agreed, gently kissing her and pulling the shower curtain closed.

The End