Disclaimer: The following fiction is loosely based on characters currently owned and operated by the producers and writers of NBC-TV's Days of Our Lives. I claim no affiliation. Gratuitous entertainment purposes only.

10 Cents Off (1 of 1)
by Fidomom

Brady watched him enter Chloe's hospital room and was concerned he might upset her. He decided to go in and just be there in case he was needed to escort him out. Brady entered the room covertly- even ill as she was she didn't like anyone through word or action intimating that she was in a weakened state and needed extra TLC. He sat in a chair by the empty bed on the other side of the curtain, ready to come to her defense if he was needed. He raised his eyebrows at the conversation he was hearing though. It went nothing close to how he imagined it might and he could not seem to stop eavesdropping.
Chloe heard her door open and waited for her visitor to peek around the curtain. She smiled in happy anticipation expecting Brady's handsome, smiling, familiar face. He always smelled so good. When her visitor finally showed himself Chloe could not have been more shocked. She felt a little foolish too. Of course other guys wore the same cologne as Brady. She shouldn't have assumed it was Brady by that alone. When she could finally speak she addressed her visitor.
"Jason, what are you doing here?"
Jason looked very awkward and uncomfortable as he shuffled from one foot to the other.
"I'm not here to make trouble. I just wanted to talk with you ... I won't stay long .. if you'll let me stay at all, that is. I mean I'd completely get it if you had me tossed out on m- ..."
Chloe interrupted him,
"You can stay, Jason. Have a seat and tell me what you want to talk to me about."
He hesitated seemingly surprised she was letting him stay. He walked over to the chair and pulled it up beside the bed. He sat down and looked at her obviously struggling with what was on his mind. Chloe smiled at him reassuringly. He let out a long breath smiling nervously.
"I never imagined I would find myself sitting and talking to you on purpose. I guess I want you to know that I was stunned to learn you have leukemia. I was more stunned to find that I wasn't pleased by the news. I thought so many times that I wished you would just drop dead so I wouldn't have to deal with you at all . I want to try to explain why I've been so awful to you. Selfish of me I suppose to want to relieve my own conscience but that is what this is about. Surprised that I even have a conscience? Me too. Some of the stuff you said at Graduation and even at the dance, actually made it into my brain and has been niggling at me since. Got me thinking back on things I did to you and all the other kids who didn't fit in. The day you walked into Salem High I hated you on sight. I guess because you were different and you wore it like a badge. It made me too aware of how much I conformed to the whole peer pressure thing. Nobody likes to have their weaknesses rubbed in their face. I did everything I could to try to find some weakness in you so I could give you a taste of what it felt like to be shown up. You just don't stay down. I was mean and a bully and you were so unintimidated it freaked me out a little. No matter what I threw your way you just kept standing tall. That made me hate you even more because that impressed me. It is so not cool to be impressed by an outcast. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was wrong to treat you the way I did and I am sorry. Don't misunderstand Vamp- sorry ... old habits I guess ... I mean Chloe ... I don't figure you'll forgive me or nothing. Sorry doesn't undo anything and I know that. I'm not suggesting we be friends or anything either. I just wanted to tell you that you have one less enemy in the world. I don't hate you at all anymore if I ever really did. I umm I actually am still impressed by how strong you are. You're the kind of person who's gonna knock the world on it's a$$ and I'm probably always gonna be the pain the world feels when it lands on it! That's it in a nutshell I guess. Oh, but there's one more thing. Here, this is for you to use any way you want. That pay site Jan made of you in the shower well it was shut down so quickly that nobody was able to view it however I knew exactly who had plans to and I hit them all up for what they would have spent to view the site."
Chloe accepted the envelope cautiously. She opened it and extracted a certified check for an amount that made her gasp.
"Oh my God! Maybe I should have switched career options. I can't believe how much money people would have spent. Jason? Thank-you. For coming here today and relieving your conscience. It actually has helped me understand my highschool experience at least a little better. As for the check ... I'm really touched not only that you've given this to me but what it symbolises. Thank-you for trying to make amends."
She looked at him and taking a chance she held her arms out to hug him. He leaned forward to hug her immediately. He hugged her hard trying to convey he really was sorry for everything. Chloe's face was so close to his neck she could smell his cologne. She smiled and suddenly she was overcome with an urge she simply could not resist. Jason jumped back with a yelp of pain and surprise holding his neck. He looked at her in disbelief,
"Excuse me but did you ... did you just bite me?"
Chloe nodded her head smiling smugly,
"You bet I did. Are you kidding, me? All those times you called me Vampira, how could I resist when you left yourself so wide open to it?"
Jason raised his eyebrows,
"Touchee! Guess I did deserve that. Damn you have sharp teeth!"
Chloe smirked at him,
"Oh, come on Jason you know you've been fantasising about me biting your neck for years so quit belly-aching about it now that I have!"
He smirked back at her,
"Actually you're right I have, I can't deny it!"
Chloe laughed enjoying the bantering,
"You're just a big flirt!"
He nodded,
"Yeah I totally am!"
They looked at one another smiling silently. Jason broke their gaze and shuffled his feet a little.
"Well, I said I wouldn't stay long so I guess I should go."
Chloe hesitated briefly then cleared her throat,
"If you wanted to stay a little longer and keep me company until Brady gets here I wouldn't mind talking with you some more or do you have something better to do?"
Jason smiled with relief,
"Actually I would like to stay and talk some more. So you're expecting Belle's brother to come by?"
Chloe nodded smiling,
"Yeah. Brady has been here everyday visiting me, sitting here for hours sometimes, saving me from boredom and keeping me laughing! I really don't know what I'd do without him and I hope I never find out!"
Jason knitted his brows together,
"What about Philip? Does he still get psycho jealous over Brady?"
Chloe shook her head,
"No ... at least not in my presence. He and Brady seem to be getting along better which is a relief to me because they ARE family and I've recently come to understand how important family is. Philip has been really sweet to me too. He's been bringing me flowers and gifts everyday. He loves me so much."
Jason narrowed his eyes,
"So Phil, does he stay here for hours too?"
"No way! I mean he would if I let him but he's a little too tightly wound and well I tire very easily if he stays too long. Oh that sounds mean I know, but it's true. Don't get me wrong I really do love Philip, but I can only handle short visits with him."
Jason was in a nosy mood.
"So when Brady stays for hours and makes you laugh that doesn't make you feel tired?"
Chloe laughed,
"No, just the opposite actually! I always feel much stronger by the time Brady leaves me for the day!"
Jason smirked
"So does he know?"
Chloe looked at him blankly,
"Does he know what?"
"That you're in love with him."
Her jaw dropped open.
"How do you know that? I mean why would you think that?"
Jason chuckled,
"Late recovery Lame-O ... oh sh1t sorry ... Chloe I mean! "
"Don't worry about it Jase old habits are hard to break I know."
He looked at her pointedly,
"Yeah, you do know about that don't you?"
"K man."
"Philip? What? Are you saying Philip is just a habit for me? How can you say that to me? I love Philip!"
"Maybe but you just admitted that you're IN love with Brady and there is a difference."
Chloe squirmed uncomfortable about hearing that out loud twice in the same number of minutes.
"If you don't mind Jason can we change the topic. I don't want to talk about me anymore. Why don't you tell me something about you. I really don't know much about you at all."
Jason nodded,
"Okay sure. What do you want to know?"
"Tell me about your family. Do you have any siblings?"
He laughed,
"Technically I'm an only child but don't tell the family dog! I swear that dog thinks he's human. I live with my dad and my step-mom. Wags, that's the dog's name, was ours before my dad hooked up with Claire, my step-mom, but Wags acts like Claire belongs to him totally! Follows her around, gives her sloppy kisses, whines at her for approval, tries to get between her and my dad if they are being affectionate with eachother. Wags actually growls at my dad if my dad hugs Claire. Dad was really offended at first because that's his dog but now he just laughs about it. Claire loves Wags so much she'd totally lose it if anything ever happened to him. Even she gets annoyed with his behavior occasionally though like when he squirms in between her and my dad. She's had to send him out of the room or outside sometimes when he's like that, it kind of embarasses her, I think."
Chloe watched Jason's face carefully as he talked about his step-mom.
"Do you get along with Claire?"
Jason pulled a wry face,
"Not at first I didn't but I do now."
"What changed to make you get along with her?"
He shrugged,
"I guess just seeing how much in love she is with my dad and vice versa. How genuinely happy they are around each other, because they're together. I mean sometimes they are so sappy it hurts. Mostly though it's kind of cool. They've got this weird eye thing going on where it seems like they're having an entire conversation without actually talking out loud ... kind of creeps me out a little. I can't imagine having that sort of connection with anyone."
Chloe looked pensive for a moment and then she brought her attention back to Jason.
"Umm listen Jason I'm actually feeling kind of tired right now. I think I should probably rest before Brady gets here."
Jason jumped to his feet
"Oh. Yeah, of course, of course. Chloe? We both know you didn't owe me the chance to clear my conscience so I want to say thanks for hearing me out and not having me tossed out of here the moment I arrived. I really want you to get well, okay? Get well and go knock the world on it's a$$! I hope you always dare to be different. You're actually a pretty cool person. Hey is there still a mark on my neck where you bit me?"
Chloe shook her head,
"Nope. All gone like it never happened!"
"Damn! If the mark was still there I could have shown it to Hawk and messed with him a bit. Sorry but if I told Hawk that Vampira bit me and I had teeth marks to prove it I could so have him squirming and biting his nails like a little girl! See I'm still me. I'm still the jerk you knew in highschool."
Chloe grinned wryly,
"Jason, do you want me to bite you again hard enough to leave a more lasting impression?"
He kind of swaggered turning on the charm,
"Yeah Chloe. Bite me. Really hard."
"You really are an incorrigible flirt! It would hurt a lot if I do it, are you sure?"
He nodded in mock gravity,
"It's okay I can handle the pain. Besides I deserve it. Bring it on."
He offered his neck to her and gripped the siderail of her bed. She bit him hard and his knuckles turned white. She pulled back.
"You okay?"
He nodded smiling as he fingered the deeply grooved toothmarks on his neck.
"Yeah absolutely! Hawk is gonna squeal in horror. I better motor or they'll fade before I can find him! Don't know why you're being such a good sport about this but it's way cool!"
He turned to leave but she stopped him.
"Jason? Thanks again for stopping by and for trying to make amends. I'll put the check to good use. If you want to stop by again sometime you can."
The look that passed between them said they both knew he wouldn't.
"Yeah well, Chloe, it's like this I'm a little like a 10 cents off coupon. It only works once, it feels like a bonus for a few seconds when you cash it in, it has no real face value and in the end you still pay a considerable price.Take care Chloe. Bye."
She smiled sadly,
"Bye Jason. You too."
She waited to hear the door click, counted to three and announced loudly,
"Brady Victor Black, if you even think of leaving this room and then re-entering like you weren't just spying on me, I'll ... I'll ... well I don't know what I'll do but I will get back at you somehow! Get yourself over here now!"
He poked his face around the edge of the curtain smiling a little sheepishly,
"I didn't mean to. I thought he was gonna get you all upset and I just wanted to be nearby in case you needed me to esc- ..."
His voice trailed off as her face lit with a grin.
"I've always loved a good guilt trip, Brady!"
He chuckled and took the seat recently vacated by Jason
"So when was I busted?"
She grinned and winked as she said,
"The first time I bit him!"
He looked puzzled,
"I don't get it. How? Did I do or say something to give myself away?"
"No. When I was close enough to Jason to bite him I realised he wasn't wearing the same cologne as you do and I could smell yours as soon as you walked into the room!"
Brady closed his eyes in defeated understanding then opened them,
"So I stink up the place do I?"
She nodded smiling softly,
"Yeah, you do and I'm really glad because the scent of you is one of the most comforting things in the world to me."
They had a little eye chat. Brady looked away suddenly then back at her.
"So can I see the check or is it too private?"
Chloe handed it to him.
"I'd like to donate it to the Toscano Foundation."
Without even looking to see the amount of the donation he smiled at her gratefully and with a fierce pride in his heart. He finally looked at the amount on the check and let out a long low whistle. Then he was silent a moment. He looked up at her and said in all sincerity.
"I would never let you change career options even if it could make you rich and famous. Someday Chloe when you are healthy again and stronger, what's underneath your clothes is going to be for my eyes only."
Her jaw dropped open and she blushed making her look healthier with the added color in her cheeks.
"Brady, I think that is the most blatantly sexual thing you've ever said to me! Figures you would say it when I look like this ... when I look so awful."
He looked almost angry,
"I never want to hear you say that again. I'll be honest Chloe you definitely do not look healthy because you're not right now, but you're alive and you will be healthy again soon! Don't think for a minute though that you look awful because you don't. Chloe not even cancer could make you look awful. You are still very beautiful."
Her eyes watered heavily as she looked into his,
"I'm in love with you, Brady."
"I was hoping it was true. You do know that I'm madly in love with you too right?"
"Well, I was kind of hoping."
They smiled at each other.
"Brady? I really am tired but Idon't want you to leave. If I umm if I move over in this bed would you climb in beside me and hold me while I rest a while?"
He got up to oblige immediately then paused with a sly grin.
"On one condition. No biting!"
She laughed and nodded
"I promise I won't bite you ... until I'm healthy that is. Once I am then all bets are off!"
He chuckled,
"Move over Diva."
She did and he climbed in beside her. As she snuggled into him Brady had to know the answer to something that was bugging him.
"Chloe why did you co-operate with Jason's plans to continue calling you names to Hawk?"
Chloe smiled
"Jason will never show anybody that bite mark not even Hawk. It was solely for him. He'd have too much to explain if he showed it to Hawk and said I did it. Jason will completely forget visiting me, getting the check, giving me the check, the talk he and I had. For him this day won't stay in his memory and he knows it won't. There will however be a bruise on his neck for at least a few days to remind him that today happened. As a matter of fact I'm rather glad you were here eavesdropping and can corroborate this memory for me or I might even have started to wonder if I imagined the whole thing."
Brady shrugged,
"Okay sure Diva. If you say so. It's a little weird."
"Brady? Are you going to make me wait until I'm healthy before you kiss me?"
He smiled and looked down at her upturned face. He leaned down and gave her two soft slow kisses. Their mouths made quiet, gentle smack sounds as they parted from one another. He pulled away looked into her eyes and kissed her on the nose.
"Apparently not."
"I guess I'll have to be more assertive with Philip and let him know that while I do love him it's you I'm IN love with. If he won't listen to reason we could always send him outside when we feel like being affectionate!"
Brady's eyes widened as he laughed out loud,
"Chloe! I cannot believe you just referred to Philip like that!"
"Yes you can and it pleases you to no end. You've always been aware of my mean streak and it's never scared you away."
His grin widened
"Are you kidding? It intrigues the hell out of me!"
"Oh Brady you and I have so much to look forward to when I'm healthy again!"
"You bet we do but I plan on enjoying every moment I can spend with you along the way too."
"Me too, Brady. I've had this song running through my head for days now. Do you mind if I sing?"
"Of course not. Let 'er rip."

"If I could save Time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you"

Brady smiled as his eyes watered.
"That was beautiful, Diva. I've always liked that song and now it's ours."
Chloe looked up at him and touched his face,
"You free my heart."
He kissed her mouth for that comment.
"I love you Chloe."
Her face lit up for him.
"Brady I'm tired but I can't fall asleep and I think I know why."
He frowned,
"Why? What's wrong?"
"No biggie. It's just you haven't given me my giggle dose yet!Laughter being the best medecine and all!"
He rolled his eyes grinning.
"Okay fine. Lemme think a sec. Ok I think I've got a rather appropriate one. Little Billy he's a first Grader he shows up at school with some unusual-looking marks on his forehead Teacher asks Billy what happened? How'd you get those marks on your forehead? Billy looks her straight in the eye and says I bit myself Teacher frowns at him in disapproval Billy, that's a fib you couldn't have it's impossible Billy insists I'm not fibbing I bit myself Teacher crosses her arms and says oh really and just how did you manage that when your forehead is so far above your mouth? Billy looked momentarily disappointed then lifted his chin and proudly announced It was no problem at all I stood on a chair!"
Chloe groaned,
"Oh Brady that was awful! I said make me giggle not groan. I swear when we get married I'll make you take my name just for the sheer pleaure of getting to call you Lame-O when you tell me such awful jokes!"
Brady stilled and became serious,
"Chloe do you have any idea how happy I feel inside to hear you talk about us and the future like it's a given?"
"Oh. Well it is a given. You gave me your heart and you're never getting it back- but you can have mine instead if you want it."
He laughed softly,
"Yeah. I do want it. So you still need to giggle huh? Since my joke fell flat there's just one option left to try. Maybe your funny bone is in your side today."
The threat alone started her giggling and she tried to squirm her side away from his fingers but it was no use. After a few minutes she called a halt,
"Okay , okay, stop I've had enough!"
He stopped immediately.
"You okay?"
She looked up at him and said with wonder in her voice.
"I am sicker than I've ever been with a life threatening illness and my plans for Juilliard are on hold once again. Somehow though I'm the happiest I've ever been. Right now. In this moment and you my love; my very own personal silver lining, are the reason.Thank-you Brady. I love you."
He kissed her head.
"I love you too, Diva. Close your eyes now and rest okay? I'll be here when you wake up."
She closed her eyes sighing contentedly as she snuggled into him again.
"I know Brady. You're always right where I need you to be. With me. Always with me."
A serene smile graced her lips as she drifted off to sleep. Brady kissed his finger and placed it against her lips.
"Sweet dreams Diva."


Song lyrics credit: Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce