Them being together like this once more really felt like a first time all over again to Melinda Gordon. His touch was unfamiliar, yet not… anxiety-inducing, yet exhilarating. There had never been another but Jim for Melinda; never had there been anyone but him to touch her that intimately. Although she knew most women her age must have shared the bed with multiple men, she had never really considered it as a missing experience in life that she hadn't.

Jim had always understood her, accepted her… for who she was. His unique empathic ability must have extended to their most intimate experiences. Why would she ever have had need to go find other, if she already had the best?

She knew this was still him, the man she had so madly fallen for so many years prior. The intense vigor with which he kissed, the warm hand disappearing teasingly under her singlet to climb higher across her ribcage to stroke across one nipple through her bra once reached… that was Jim, no doubt. Yet the hand was not entirely Jim's anymore. It felt slightly different, slightly rougher from a past in architecture as opposed to Jim's in medicine.

He slowly disengaged their heated kiss, resting his forehead against hers… panting slightly. "You're nervous," he stated.

She quietly opened her eyes. "A little," she confirmed, the smile upon her lips never gentler. Jim had always been able to read her so well, merely feel what was not said. Through the years of their relationship, he had definitely learned to do this quite well indeed. The verbal element was no longer always necessary. It felt… comfortable. Reassuring. Jim had accepted her as she was.

"I can't imagine how all this must be for you, but I'm still me, Mel… I'm–"

He then discontinued himself, Melinda's hand warm upon his stubbly cheek. She leaned further into the pillows, reducing her Cyclops vision. "Jim. I love you for you; for what's hidden inside." Her thumb trailed his cheekbone.

A warm smile passed over both familiar and unfamiliar features. "Close your eyes now," he whispered, lips touching her jaw… like he always had – he, Jim Clancy. He made love to her the way he had come to learn she liked, touching upon all the spots he had experimentally learned made his wife feel dizzy. He loved her so.


"I'm so happy for you," Delia repeated, the two females seated on a bench together on the square, while sipping from their respective coffees occasionally, in-between talking. "I'm glad that Jim's memory did return in the end, so that you can share this miracle fully with him. I can't begin to imagine how… hard it must have been, to see the man that you love beneath the exterior of a man you barely know; to know it all, while he doesn't really recall you or the life you shared." Blue eyes fell upon chocolate. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you–"

Melinda's head shook, wry smile upon her lips as she did. "He would remember some, not know what it really meant."

Delia's features grew more concerned, watching as Melinda's already weak smile faltered entirely. She didn't know what to say… so she moved her fingers atop Melinda's, wanting to convey that she was there to listen. "I'm sorry," she repeated. "I never meant to make you sad."

"I know," Melinda whispered, gazing ahead for but a moment, then shaking her head once more in order to wave off Delia's unnecessary guilt. "I'm fine. I just – He remembered we were hoping for a baby. He never realized that the woman whom he might have wanted children with, was me. He never– He never–"

Delia's fingers tightened; Melinda's shifted so as to enable her to hold her best companion's, gathering strength to continue what she really wanted – maybe needed – to say. While Jim hadn't been himself, the secret had fallen upon her entirely. Melinda Gordon hadn't really wanted to make the miscarriage a burden for Delia, or anyone, in addition. However, as both women sat there…

"I miscarried," Melinda admitted in a calm tone of careful resignation. "I couldn't fully support the life that was gonna grow inside me. So I was sent home with a note from the doctor at the hospital for prenatal vitamins… It isn't so uncommon, it seems. Most of the women who have been in my position conceived once more within one to six months. I did, too."

Delia nodded. She wondered for a moment why Melina hadn't mentioned the miscarriage until then, or that she had been hoping for a baby with her husband. However, she was telling her now. That's what mattered. "I'm so sorry, Mel…" she murmured. "You know that you can tell me all that, right?"

A slight smile of gratitude passed over Melinda's features. She gently squeezed the hand she held onto. "I know," she whispered. "I'm sorry. We– I wanted to wait until…"

"You don't have to tell me," Delia said, slightly shaking her head. "Jim dying, then returning... You haven't had it easy lately. I'm sure that it was far from your mind."

"Yeah."

Quietude fell between both women again then – none of an uncomfortable sort. Talking was not necessary. It felt quite reassuring, to be able to sit with one another like that. To enjoy the quiet, rather than endure it. Delia gently sipped from her tepid coffee, while Melinda gazed ahead into the distance.

"I'm not sure I would have been tough enough to do this if Jim's memory had not returned."

"I'm sure that you would have," Delia said. "If not, I'd have always been there to help. I still am."

"I know. I'm lucky to have you," Melinda said, a sigh eschewing from her lips. Neither Delia or she herself could define its emotional origin. It didn't really matter. She leaned her head upon the shoulder of the older woman. "I curious about it all," she said. "I have read that a lot of women enjoy feeling the baby kick. I would like to experience it."

"Oh yes…" Delia agreed. "That's quite unique… Ned was always very active," she recalled. "He would keep me from falling asleep sometimes. As I grew closer to the end, I sometimes had to turn the radio off merely because he was kicking and wriggling so much. He has liked listening to music from within the womb, you could definitely say. I could have guessed already then, how he would be in his teenage years. Anyway, I'm glad that he's not like I used to be then. I was a wild rebel: I never said no to any alcohol, I smoked… I then pierced most of the holes I still have in my ears myself when in a mood of self-assurance. Of course, it infected… painfully so. I got a tattoo on my shoulder in a good mood, too…"

"You have got a tattoo?" Melinda asked in momentary disbelief, rhetorically so. She didn't ask what Delia had thought to be cool for a tattoo as a teenager, though. "I would never have guessed that from you. What made you change?"

"Ned," Delia replied. She sighed at the faraway changes. "Ned was a surprise really. I never regretted having him, though – especially since Charlie suddenly passed away just a few years later. I wasn't ready when that test showed positive, though. I cried," she recalled. "I quit partying, though. I never touched even one cigarette anymore after that or any kind of alcohol – not until years after Ned was born."

"Charlie?" Melinda wondered.

"I told him a couple of days after I took the positive test, and had it confirmed. He never said a word about leaving me. Instead, he asked how far along I was. That's when I really realized Charlie was my…"

"…your one."

Delia nodded. "Indeed. Still I was afraid I wouldn't be a good mom, though. I have lost a lot of sleep worrying over whether or not I would be suitable enough as a mom already.

"I firmly believe you're a great one at it," Melinda said, then laughed.

Delia momentarily laughed, too. She shifted on the bench slightly. "I had a very hard labor until finally he arrived. As I first laid eyes upon him, though…" She sighed at the memory. "I immediately knew I would give my entire life for him if necessary. I knew that I would try better than my best to make that boy happy. Charlie and I somehow worked as a mom and dad; I'm glad that we did. He's slowly becoming a man, though…"

Melina smiled. "Oh yes. He's passed the mommy's little boy stage already. He would make a good godfather, I believe. Maybe I should mention that to Jim."

"I'm sure that he would be excited… I should go make sure he hasn't reduced the house to mere ruins and has done his homework now, though…" She stood, turning to Melinda, who just remained seated.

"I'll see you at the store tomorrow," she said.

Delia's eyebrow quirked, but she did not say a word more. Instead, she nodded. She smiled one last time, then turned to walk home to her son.

Melinda remained looking after her until she had disappeared from sight entirely. She then stood as well, mind made. She continued to walk without thought, until finally Melinda halted. She let chocolate eyes slide over the name of the person who she knew would have immediately come with suggestions for baby names. She squatted. "Hi, Andrea."