A/N: First P&R fic, set about maybe 3-4 years in the future. First of two parts.

i. the darkest hour of the night

It was the worst morning of Ben's life.

They sat together in the exam room, alone, as her doctor had stepped out momentarily. He had his arms wrapped around Leslie. His t-shirt was wet with her tears, and he kissed the top of her head gently to do what little he could to comfort her.

The doctor was back shortly, saying something about a follow up appointment. Leslie wasn't entirely sure. She felt the vibration of Ben's chest as he responded, but the conversation was all foreign to her. She closed her eyes and buried her face in Ben's shirt, not wanting to be under the harsh lights of the exam table. Not wanting to be here at all, in point of fact. All she wanted to was go back to sleep with Ben holding her so they could forget that any of this had ever happened.

But she couldn't do that.

No no no no no no no no no, she thought over and over again. It was really the only thing she could focus on. Her mantra was steady like a heartbeat, a constant reminder that there was only one inside of her when there should have been two.


It was the second one.

The first had happened not long after they had learned she was pregnant. She'd conceived almost right after they had started trying ("I guess we're just really fertile," she'd said, her face practically glowing with happiness), and it had been smooth sailing until she'd said one Saturday afternoon, face pale, "I think something's wrong."

After a lot of headache and tears, he'd cupped her face gently and promised her they would try again.

And all of that had eventually led to this morning. It had been 3 AM when Leslie had shaken him awake, her eyes wide. He'd gotten them to the hospital as quickly as he could. Held her hand throughout the entire thing.

It hurt a lot more the second time around. It felt like everything was magnified. And like something precious was slipping through the cracks of their hands, shirking away from them forever.

His heart had been breaking all morning, but he had managed to keep it together until he'd returned to their bedroom. His objective had been to get her a blanket. His eyes had fallen to their bed and he froze.

It was the spot where it had all gone wrong, and suddenly he was back there again, seeing her look so pale and pained when this nightmare had started.

He crumbled as he saw their stained sheets.

They had been so full of hope, but now, all of that was gone.

(He threw the sheets out before he left. He didn't want Leslie to see them.)


He made his way downstairs after his meltdown, blanket in hand. He covered Leslie with it once he reached the couch.

Her eyes fluttered open, "Hi."

He sat on the edge of the couch, "Hey. How do you feel?"

She shrugged.

"How are you?" she asked, knowing he wasn't unaffected by everything that had happened.

He stood up and looked out of their living room window, facing away from her.

"Ben?" she questioned.

"I don't want to do this anymore," he said firmly. His shoulders tensed as he anticipated her response. He knew she wasn't going to like this, would probably with him over it, but after two miscarriages, he didn't know if he could repeat the horrible ordeal a third time.

"What are you taking about?"

"I don't want us to go through this again," he turned to face her as he saw down again, trying to make her understand, "God, Leslie, I don't want you to wake up bleeding and hurting like that ever again, and I don't want us to hurt –"

He was unable to continue the thought, his shoulders shaking as he cried.

"Oh, Ben," she said as she scooted closer to him.

"I don't know if I can do it again," he spoke again once he had regained some semblance of composure, "And I just think it would be for the best if we –"

"I know," she interrupted, her eyes not dry, "That this is the most terrible thing, but Ben, we can't give up."

"Leslie, please."

"Ben –"

"No, Leslie, I'm not doing this anymore!"

A bitter expression came over her face, "You want to take the easy way out. So you're giving up on our family. You're giving up on me."

He left the house without another word, angrily shutting the front door behind him.


Later, he returned to find her curled up on their bed.

"I'm sorry," she said.

He joined her on the bed, positioning himself so they were both facing one another, "Me too."

"Sometimes I forget I can't be superwoman," she told him, "I can't do everything and deal with everything, as much as I would really like to. And I got like that earlier. I want kids with you so badly. But I don't want to go through losing one again, either."

He kissed her forehead.

Before he could reply, she spoke again.

"Oh god, I have to call work. I can't believe I forgot about that."

"Hey, it's ok. I called for both of us," he reassured her, "Talked to Ron. Most emotional I've ever heard him, I think."

"What'd he say?"

"'I am so sorry,' but it had a lot of feeling in it."

"Shower with me?" she asked a few moments later, "I feel icky."

He nodded, and they made their way toward the bathroom. They peeled one another's clothes off. He was wearing a white t-shirt and gray sweatpants; she was dressed similarly. She turned on the water, and they stepped under the spray together.

He gently rubbed her lavender body wash over her back and shoulders, then moving down to the underside of her breasts. He eventually made his way down to her abdomen – he didn't want to bring painful memories back to her but he had to touch her there, to acknowledge what had once been. Her hands glided to his, holding them in place as they memorialized what they lost.

"I love you," she said right before her voice broke.

"I love you too. So much," he replied, "We're gonna get through this."

Once they dried off, they got back in bed and fell asleep, safe in one another's arms and at least somewhat ready to take on whatever life presented them.