(a/n): Jake and Sherry are so OTP they're practically married. So they are married in my headcanon. I wrote this in the span of like 6 hours starting at 3am yesterday morning, so I won't be judged for the content.
Jake had been a mercenary for almost four years, mixed up with gangs since he was old enough to curse, and fought through the fucking China outbreak. He had seen some damn scary shit in his lifetime, but this present situation was by far the most unnerving and terrifying event of his life.
Sweet, loving Sherry was curled up in the fetal position on their bed, a hot water bottle pinned between her thighs and her stomach, and a heating pad turned on high balanced on her lower back. The room was dark, with the shades drawn shut, because she insisted that she wanted sleep. However she seemed to be quite thoroughly preventing herself, constantly jiggling one ankle and rolling back and forth on the bed.
Earlier, Jake had kindly suggested she try to keep still. He was not going to make such a suggestion a second time. He was also definitely not going to laughingly remark that her pained grumbles, moans, hurried breathing, occasional wails and bouts of loud swearing sounded an awful lot like the noises she made during sex. Nope. He rubbed the tender spot on his ribs where she'd twice landed ruthless punches. For someone who was seemingly incapacitated by pain, her aim was vicious.
The quiet, strained voice stopped him instantly at the door (he'd been pacing back and forth along the hallway for a while). "I'm right here," he approached the bed, but kept a few hesitant steps away from it in case she was luring him in for a trap. Experience was teaching him to be wary of this woman who looked like the woman he loved but was potentially a frightening alter ego. "Do you need something?"
She'd mostly been keeping her face hidden against the sheets, but she turned her head now towards him. Her eyes were a little hazy as they squinted to focus on him in the darkness, cheeks flushed, expression scrunched up in discomfort. Her short hair fell around her face in a disorderly fringe. The sight of her so diminished chipped at his defenses, and he closed the remaining distance to the bed so that he could lean down and rub a hand across the part of her back that wasn't covered by the heating pad.
"I know you're there," she mumbled. "And if you don't stop being right there-with your stupid face and looking in here every five seconds I swear I'm going to go crazy and I'm going to murder you."
His hand stopped moving against her back as he frowned at her, and a moment later he backed up a hasty few steps when she jerked upright. "I'm just checking on you!" He was offended. Here he'd been pretty worked up himself, struggling against the emasculating feeling of helplessness while his woman suffered, and she was mad at him for it?
Shaking her head, lips pinching into a tight line, Sherry yelled "No!" Her hands clenched into fists and she raised them in irritation. Jake took another step back just to be sure that he was out of reach. "You're pissing me off is what you're doing! How would you like it if I broke your legs and then walked in circles around you, staring at you? 'Just checking' on you!"
"That's not even a similar situation!" he tried to reason, and Sherry shook her head again, not having any of his logic.
"No, no, it's not!" She shifted on her knees so that she was facing him fully. "Breaking your legs wouldn't be painful enough! I'd have to find a screwdriver and stick it into your back and then your stomach and then your back again," she emphatically twisted an imaginary screwdriver, "and I'd have to peel your skin off in individual layers starting from the inside!" Sherry was on a roll, now. "That would be a start, for sure, but d'you know you still wouldn't be all bloated or have sore boobies or be full of hormones and I DON'T THINK YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE ALL OF THAT SO STOP STARING AT ME, DAMN IT."
"JESUS," Jake roared, turning around in a huff and hurrying out of the room.
It was beyond him how this was the same gentle girl who hid behind his shoulder during horror films and rarely swore, even when she stubbed her toe on the annoying doorjamb to the kitchen. Before this morning, he'd had no first hand experience with a woman on her…cycle. He knew what it was, obviously, but nothing about the PMS jokes he'd shared with his mercenary comrades had prepared him for this shit.
He stormed into the living room and threw himself down on the couch, snatching the TV remote and pressing the power button before tossing it away in excess frustration. The news was on, but he barely focused on the television, crossing his arms petulantly and glaring mindlessly at the screen.
How long was this crap supposed to last? Sherry had woken him up at four in the morning with her fidgeting, and it was already past ten o'clock. Would it be a few more hours? Or, the thought was alarming, a few more days? He raised both hands and pressed them over his face, wondering how he would manage to deal with the stress of having this strange creature in the house, when his worries were interrupted by the sound of the buzzer.
Scowling, he crossed the room to the intercom and jammed his thumb down on the button like he was squashing a bug. "What do you want?!"
"Asshole!" came the immediate response. "What if I was some old woman who lost her keys? Or girl scouts or something? Is that how you greet people? There's something wrong with-"
Jake pressed a second button to open the lobby door, cutting off the sound of Piers' tetchy complaints. Two minutes later he stood in the open doorway, glowering at the former soldier who came traipsing up the staircase. Jake leaned against the door frame, one arm blocking the entrance. "State your business, dilweed." he demanded.
Piers made a face, rolling his single eye up towards the ceiling and drawing his shoulders up in indignation. There was snow melting on the shoulders of his parka and a plastic bag hanging on his left arm. "Is Sherry home?" he huffed.
"Don't answer with a question-"
"My business is with Sherry-"
"-punk ass coming over all early in the morning-"
"-just returning her books you cocky son of a-"
"-YOUR UGLY FACE IS THE LAST THING I WANNA SEE BEFORE BREAKFAST!"
"-BITCH IT'S ALMOST THE AFTERNOON ALREADY!"
It was a common pattern of greeting. As was also common with their arguments, it was interrupted by Sherry. The sound of her approach had been covered by their squabble, and it was a gentle tap to his shoulder that had Jake jumping in surprise and stepping back enough to unblock the doorway.
The sight of her out of bed caused a rush of worry - was she well enough to be walking around, shouldn't she be resting? - and also a fear for his immediate physical safety. He abandoned the task of giving Piers a hard time, instead focusing on watching Sherry. He had to be ready to either run away if she lunged at him, or catch her if she lost her strength and fell over. Surprisingly, though, she looked almost normal. Her expression, at least. She still looked a bit of a mess, wearing a wrinkly too-big shirt of Jake's with her pajama shorts, and her hair sticking out every which way.
Piers, clearly able to see her disheveled and woozy condition, stepped into the apartment and moved towards her, frowning. "Are you alright? You don't look so good, Sher."
"Oh, I'm fine," she waved a hand dismissively, her voice husky. She tottered a little unsteadily to the door and pushed it closed, then leaned momentarily on Piers under the guise of taking his winter coat from him.
Jake couldn't believe it. A comment about how bad she looked, and that didn't set her off into a rage? He was slightly miffed that Piers was getting better treatment from Sherry than he'd been receiving, but it was outweighed by a sudden relief that perhaps she was actually returning to normal.
Sherry took Piers' heavy parka, and was turned halfway to the side in mid-reach towards the coat hooks when she froze. Like he'd done with many of his long-sleeved shirts, he'd sewn the right sleeve of this faded green crewneck up to the shoulder so that it wouldn't get in the way. Sherry stared at it with a blanched, unreadable expression while both men watched her in growing apprehension.
Suddenly, the coat slipped from her hands and she burst into tears. "I forgot," she wailed in between heaving, full-body sobs, tripping over the coat and throwing her arms around Piers' neck.
So much for back to normal.
As Sherry wept without restrain into Piers' shoulder, Jake took a moment to sort out the jumble of emotions clogging up his thought process. First of all, why the hell did he get beat up on and this chump got tears and a hug? Tears weren't necessarily better than anger, but it was less painful for him and easier to comfort her when she was sad and not irrationally violent. He was also sick with renewed dread, because clearly this meant there were even more stages to Sherry's mood swings than he'd yet encountered.
And finally, most predominately, he felt a wave of dutiful, husbandly possessiveness with a strong twist of jealously - because in her bedridden state, though it was apparently of no concern to her, Sherry was wearing just an old thin t-shirt and no bra.
Piers had automatically wrapped his arm around her to awkwardly pat her back, but as he too became directly aware of Sherry's compromising outfit, a shade of red like a bruised tomato swept over his entire face.
Jake was able to contain himself for about fifteen seconds, which was a remarkable feat. His gaze shifted between Sherry and Piers, chest swelling, and he bellowed: "ARE YOU TOUCHING MY WIFE'S BOOBS?"
Piers wanted nothing more than to say no, never, wouldn't dare, but there they were, unmistakable as Sherry clung to him like a friggin Velcro monkey. "N-NOT ON PURPOSE," he nearly shrieked, voice coming out in a panic.
"CUT IT OUT!"
Starting forward, to do what he wasn't really sure, Jake advanced on Piers who quickly backed in the opposite direction at the threat of attack. Sherry came along with him, still crying dismally and muttering something about "poor babies gone through so much." She was leaning on him so much that he couldn't just push her back without risking knocking her to the ground, but Jake was liable to knock him upside the head if he didn't get her off somehow.
"SHERRY," he pleaded, escaping to the kitchen with her in tow, "C'MON, YOU'RE MAKING ME UNFAITHFUL!"
Blessedly, Sherry finally eased the stranglehold she'd secured around Piers' neck. He swiftly put a safe distance between them, throwing his arm up in the air as a sign of innocence. Sherry stood on her own for a brief moment, wiping at her eyes with one hand before she gracelessly sank to the ground in heap, and once again dissolved into piteous weeping.
Jake's righteous fury almost entirely disappeared at the sight of her on the floor, and he immediately bent down - forgetting that she might at any moment turn on him like a feral cat - and scooped her up. She didn't, but shook with upset and feeble tears as he carried her back to their bedroom.
"Everyone's yelling at me," she wailed miserably, "and my uterus is shedding and it feels like zombies eating my guts, Jake, and all I want is some peach cobbler and an orange dreamsicle." A fist hit at his shoulder, but it was far from the aggressive attacks from earlier. "And why are my thighs so faaaat?!"
Eventually he extracted himself from the bedroom, leaving Sherry tucked securely under the blanket with a second dose of Midol and the heating pad turned up a setting. It was like playing a harp to quiet a ferocious beast - Jake earnestly loved that heating pad.
Back in the front room, he found that Piers had made himself comfortable on the small sofa, parked in before the television. Jake continued on to the kitchen, too out of sorts to think up some snarky comment about Piers being an unwelcome guest. He'd never admit it, but he was actually pretty relieved to have another guy around. He grabbed two beers out of the fridge, returning to the living room and dropping onto the couch beside Piers.
He handed one of the cans over without bothering to ask if it was wanted, glaring with determination at the football game that Piers had turned on.
"So I heard you…uh," Piers took a swig of his beer, "talking in there."
Jake stiffened, freezing with his own can of beer halfway raised to his mouth. For the past twenty minutes he'd been dutifully assuring a blubbering Sherry that, no, it didn't appear as though her thighs were jiggling any more than usual when she walked and of course he loved her and wasn't going to divorce her for having too much body fat, which he then once again reassured her she did not have.
He took a slow drink, simultaneously fixing his archenemy with a narrow stare from over the cheap can. "Don't mention it again, and I won't mention to Claire how you felt up her baby sister." Piers glared back at him, considering the proposition and how difficult it would be to convince Claire that Jake was lying, when the man tacked on: "Plus I won't beat the shit out of you for touching them in the first place."
After a moment, Piers grunted something that was half derisive snort and half genuine. "Fine, deal."
They both turned back to the game, though neither was particularly interested, resting in the rare sense of camaraderie that had settled over them. Who knows, Jake thought, maybe Sherry's doppelganger personality would actually force real friendship out of himself and Piers - something more than the base tolerance they held for each other now. What the hell, he decided, why not give it a shot?
Piers ruined it when he casually asked Jake's opinion on the jiggly properties of a linebacker's butt.
Well, fifteen minutes was a new record for the length of time Jake spent with Piers while not hitting him. When Sherry woke up - and returned to her normal, uncrazy self - she would definitely be proud.