I said I have the intention to finish two of my stories while on vacation. Well, at least I got around to finish one. Yes, this is the last chapter of this story. Enjoy!
Chapter 15: A new beginning
He was finally at home. He'd hoped that the nightmares would stop when he was out of the hospital but they didn't. So far he'd managed to hide it from Lexie, managed to not wake her up with his trashing around. He was afraid that he could hurt her. She or the baby.
His hand was getting better with every day. The prognosis was perfect. He would regain back complete ability of his fingers and hand. His body had healed, but his soul, his mind still tortured him every night. He'd talked to a psychiatrist, but it didn't help.
Leaning against the door frame he watched Lexie sleeping and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. They would get married tomorrow. He'd insisted that they would at least go to the City Hall before the baby was born after Lexie told him that she intended to have the big wedding with the appropriate party when she was able to drink alcohol.
He'd understood perfectly and he didn't care how they got married as long as she was going to be his wife tomorrow. Tomorrow he would finally be able to put the wedding band on her finger, making her his wife. Finally.
He was standing in front of the window and Lexie could see at the stiffness of his body that he tried to stop his body from trembling. Another nightmare obviously. She slipped out of under the covers, walking slowly towards him, putting her hand between his shoulder blades. "Mark?"
He whirled around, his jaw clenched shut tightly, a wild expression in his eyes. "Come back to bed." Lexie whispered, stepping back surprised when his hand shot to hers, grabbing it painfully.
"I don't need your pity." Mark hissed. "I'm fine. Go back to bed."
Mark released her hand and stomped out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him and Lexie stared dumbfounded at the now closed door. They needed help. He needed help. He wasn't himself anymore.
"Lexie! What are you doing here?" Eric asked surprised, as he opened the door and saw Lexie standing on the other side.
"I need a favor, Eric." Lexie replied quietly.
"Why don't you come in first?" Eric opened the door wider, stepping back to let her in.
Lexie walked directly into the living room, slumping down on the couch. "Where is Molly?"
"Out on a walk with Laura." Eric said, watching her intently before he added. "What do you want to ask me?"
"It's … I know it's none of my business but I need to ask you." Lexie began, shifting nervously, kneading her hands. Licking her lips, she looked up and continued. "It's … I need to know for Mark."
"Sure. You can ask me anything." Eric told her. "You know that."
"While you were overseas ..." Lexie trailed off, not sure if she should ask the question.
"Did you ever get tortured?" Lexie blurted out before she could change her mind.
Eric looked at her for a few minutes, completely silent, before he sighed heavily, rubbing a hand over his face. "Promise me you'll never tell Molly."
"I promise." Lexie said softly.
"Molly doesn't know about it, though I'm sure she suspects something." Eric explained. "I've told her the scars were caused by splinters of an IED. She was pregnant with Laura when I was … when some terrorists had kept me as a prisoner. They knew they should keep it from Molly as long as they could if something like this would happen to me. I made Steve promise me."
"Steve was with you?"
"Yes. He was the one who led the rescue mission. They found me already after four days."
Lexie saw how Eric pressed his lips together, telling her more with this gesture than words could have. "But it wasn't fast enough."
"No." Eric confirmed. "They wanted information about the troops and they tried everything to get them."
Lexie could see the shadow crossing his eyes as he remembered and Lexie was sorry that she had to bring back those memories but she needed to know. "Did you have nightmares?"
"Still have them from time to time." Eric replied.
"How … how are you able to live with them?"
"Is it that bad?" Eric raised his eye brows quizzically and Lexie stared at him confused, so Eric added quietly. "With Mark?"
"He doesn't want to talk to me about it." Lexie told him quietly. "But I can see that it's eating him up."
"You want me to talk to him?"
"I … I just think it might help."
"I don't know, Lexie. I'm not a psychiatrist."
"Eric, please." Lexie pleaded, hoping that Eric was able to help Mark.
"You know what." Eric said determined. "Steve is coming this weekend. What about you are coming over for barbecue on Saturday?"
"So Steve, too?" Lexie asked softly.
"We are Navy Seals, Lex. There is hardly anyone amongst us who doesn't have scars. On their body and soul."
"There are never gonna go away, you know?" Eric spoke quietly, taking a sip of his beer bottle. They were sitting on the porch, enjoying a cool bottle of beer after they'd just filled their stomachs with tons of meat. Molly and Lexie was standing at the other end of the lawn, watching Laura on the swings.
Mark looked at him confused. "Excuse me?"
"Lexie talked to you." Mark said, knowing that only Lexie could have told him.
"She is worried." Eric explained.
"I know." Mark replied quietly.
"You learn to live with them and after a certain time you won't have them every night." Steve said, leaning against the balustrade, putting his beer down next to him.
Mark looked from Steve to Eric, seeing the understanding in their eyes. There was no pity, there were only trying to help him and he suddenly realized that they were probably speaking out of experience. They were Navy Seals after all.
"But how … how do I learn to live with them?"
"Take your wife!" Steve replied bluntly, grinning when he saw Mark's shocked face. "No joke, man. It's the best medicine. Forget yourself in her. Forget everything for a few minutes. It helps. Believe me."
Mark looked completely stunned and his gaze went to Eric, making Eric chuckle. "He is right, Mark. And when the little one is here. Talk to him."
"I did it with Laura." Eric told him.
"What do you mean talk to him?"
"Tell him everything that is on your mind. He won't understand anything. He won't judge. Believe me, you are gonna feel better afterwards, after you've relieved your soul without having to fear that he will look at you with different eyes."
"That sounds insane."
"Maybe. But they are your anchor." Eric pointed towards Lexie, standing beside Molly, one hand pressed against the small of her back, the other hand laying on her pregnancy belly, a small smile on her face. "And they wanna help. So ..." Eric waited until Mark's gaze returned to him. "Let them help you."
Lexie awoke from his cold hands pressing against her face. She turned around and even in the darkness of the room she could see the haunted expression on his face. She didn't hear him but he must have had another nightmare. He didn't say anything, just pressed his lips against hers. He pulled her pants down, his fingers brushing tentatively over her nipples who responded immediately to his caresses, oversensitized due to her pregnancy. She didn't need to ask. She knew what he was doing. He needed her, needed to get lost in her and she didn't even hesitate as she took him in, giving him what he needed most. It was the only way she could help him. Reassuring him that they were still there. Both of them.
His head was lying on her chest, his breaths evened out as he slipped into sleep and Lexie was threading her fingers through his hair, rubbing softly over the frown between his brows until it disappeared, hoping that he could sleep through the rest of the night without having any more nightmares.
He was sitting on the floor, his knees were bent so that his son could lie comfortably against his thighs. He had had another nightmare, the first since the birth and he'd stood up and walked to the crib, stroking his finger gently over his son's cheek. He hadn't wanted to wake him but as if his son felt the sorrow of his father he had opened his eyes and stared at him, not crying, only gripping Mark's finger tightly and Mark had scooped him up, walking out of the room, settling down under the window, the moon bathing them both in its light. His son looked at him wide-eyed and Mark started to talk. He told him everything about the dream, told him about his fears and it seemed as if his son was listening intently. Eric had been right. It did help.
Lexie stepped quietly out of the room, spotting them immediately. She didn't walk over to them, realizing that they were sharing a special moment and as Mark turned his face slightly, she could see the tear streaks on his face, but she could also see the smile. She slipped back into the bed room without one of them noticing that she was even there. A few minutes later she felt the mattress shifting as Mark came back to bed and she turned around, locking eyes with him as he laid their son between them. Their hands met over the body of their child, Mark rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand while he watched his son's face. As he looked up into Lexie's eyes, Lexie could see the newfound freedom in them.
They'd been through a lot. But they were both alive and healthy, enjoying their little family life. Lexie squeezed his fingers, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears. "I love you, Mark Sloan."
Mark leaned over, pressing a kiss against her lips. "I love you too, Alexandra Sloan."
"I love you.
I am who I am because of you.
You are every reason, every hope,
and every dream I've ever had,
and no matter what happens to us in the future,
everyday we are together is the greatest day of my life.
I will always be yours. "
The Notebook – Nicholas Spark
Okay, this is it. The end of this story. Thank you so much to all of you, my dear readers, for reading and for all of your reviews. You're the best.
No matter what happens in the future I will never stop loving Mark and Lexie. They are perfect for each other.