I marked this story as complete when I wrote the first bit but I couldn't quite bring myself to leave the fluffy, happy universe I made up, especially considering that damn finale-so here are three more future!fic oneshots. The first lot were really Julia-centric so I put these ones in Barbie's perspective. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
i. first date
Never one to back out of an agreement, Barbie dutifully organises their first date. It's s little difficult seeing as he's still finding his feet in Chicago and consequently doesn't have the local knowledge of restaurants to hand; eventually though, he finds a quaint little Italian that he thinks Julia will like.
The government's compensation package to the survivors of what's being called the Chester's Mill Disaster, which Barbie thinks is something to do with the missile strike on American citizens and the media embargo on reports of it. They both independently have the means to move anywhere they want, so since Julia still pined for it, they moved to Chicago after the army quarantine was lifted. Barbie had never been before they moved, but his previously nomadic existence meant that he had no real preference about where he wanted to live—Julia had shyly suggested he could come to Chicago with her, and just like that, it was decided. Barbie knows he'd follow her anywhere as long as she'd have him.
A few hectic weeks into their new post-Dome lives pass and things calm down a little, so Barbie broaches the subject with her. Julia laughs when she remembers their sleepily-made arrangement on her couch in the Chester's Mill house that had now been demolished along with the rest of the town. In truth, it hadn't been all that long since they had that conversation, but with everything that had happened after, it might as well have been lifetimes.
"Don't tell me: you've changed your mind?" Barbie asks on the phone to her, smiling even though he still half-expects her to say she had. Barbie has a fear that one day she'll see him for who he really is, that all his faults and past sins will put her off once and for all, and she'll run a mile away from him. He doesn't know what Julia sees in him that makes her stick around but she hasn't taken off yet, which is something.
"Me? Never." Julia tells him and a spike of relief floods him. "I'd just forgotten until now. Where are you taking me?"
Barbie grins even though she can't see him. "Now that would be telling."
Exactly as he said he would, he drives to her house for seven o'clock. He and Julia had decided, in a manner of speaking, not to live together for the time being so he rents an apartment while she lives in a house in the suburbs. Although he and Julia had not discussed in so many words why they felt it was necessary to live apart at first, Barbie still knows the reason behind it. It's to compensate for the less than ordinary beginnings their relationship had, since everything happened so quickly and intensely under the dome. They're both a little scared that their battle-born relationship might not survive in the 'real' world so they slow things down a little now they can.
And for all the extraordinary things that have happened to them since they met, the date does go remarkably normally. The conversation flows easily, they laugh (a lot), and go halves on the bill at the end. Neither of them really want the night to end, but Barbie walks her up to her front door from the car anyway. They stop on the porch, looking at each other with barely suppressed smiles.
"So," Barbie says casually. "This was fun. We should really do it again some time."
Julia snorts. They've been doing this all evening, laughing as they go through the ordinary motions of a first date despite already knowing everything about each other. "Count on it."
Barbie steps forward, a few inches away from her. "There's one more thing though." He leans down slowly and touches his lips to hers. They've kissed a thousand times by now; sometimes out of desperate longing, sometimes out of the joy of being alive, and sometimes out of the despair of parting but it always feels like the first time with her. Being in love will do that to you, he thinks.
They kiss until Barbie feels her smile against his lips. He pulls away a fraction. "Goodnight, Julia."
"Goodnight, Barbie." Julia opens her door and steps inside, but takes her time shutting it behind her, holding his eyes until the lock clicks.
The ghost of what happened in Chester's Mill never really leaves them. Barbie wouldn't want it to either, not really. As much as there are certain things he'd rather forget about, he also doesn't want to forget how to value the things that matter- something their shared experiences taught every survivor. He holds onto the things he has to thank the dome for, like his amazing girlfriend and the future he's going to have with her. Where would he have ended up had it not been for those damn cows on the road? A drifter, a nomad probably, and Barbie finds he's glad he swerved into Joe McAlister's field that day. He wouldn't swap the life he's got now for anything.
All this, though, doesn't stop the memories from haunting him. He used to have nightmares about Iraq, about the bloodshed and watching his friends die before his eyes. Now he wakes up covered in sweat and thrashing wildly because his mind is back in Chester's Mill. Every time it happens, Julia holds him close and cards her fingers through his hair, telling him to breathe and that he's okay, that she's here.
Julia worries. Barbie tells her that his nightmares are about feeling the rough twine of the noose constricting his windpipe and the floor dropping from under him, which isn't really a lie because sometimes that really is what he sees, along with Big Jim's triumphant reptilian smile. More often though, he sees himself back in that hospital room, his hands completely frozen above Julia's blood-stained corpse and the continuous flat line beep of the monitor drowning out everything else. He does not tell her this when they talk things out in the dark.
He's seen her body battered and broken one too many times. When they make love, he kisses the scar of where the bullet entered and brushes his thumb against the circular scar tissue on her ribcage; he's committed the location of both to memory. The little reminders that she survived, she conquered.
iii. night feed
Barbie is a pretty light sleeper anyway -one of those army things he never managed to shake off- so when Mollie announces her desire for a feed through the baby monitor at a frankly ungodly time of morning, he's awake if not alert instantly. Julia's toes nudge his calf insistently under the covers as he lies there, savouring the warm bed for a few seconds longer. "Your turn," Julia mumbles into her pillow, barely leaving sleep at all, but Barbie swears she sounds a little smug.
He tenses all his muscles at once, releases, then gets up and scrubs his face with his hands. He pads softly into the nursery and looks down into Mollie's crib. Her face is crumpled and red with the force of crying, her little fists balled up tightly in the air. "Hey, hey, shhh," he says softly, scooping her up with one arm. "Let's get you fed then, sweet pea."
Barbie has still not gotten to the point where he can hold his daughter casually, without the feeling that she's so precious she needs the most delicate treatment (even when their friends and family hold her, he still cringes a little when they jostle her what he perceives to be that bit too much) so he measures each step slowly and steadily down the stairs into the kitchen. He rocks her gently while they wait for the bottle to warm up. Mollie is slightly calmer in his arms now, clinging onto his fingers with both her hands, but he can tell she's still pining for a feeding.
It's still dark out, and the light from the street lamp filters through the slats in the blinds, casting everything in an orange glow. Mollie feeds contentedly, her tiny fingers reaching up to touch the warm bottle. Barbie is barely aware of much else until he feels another pair of eyes on him. Julia is leaning against the fridge, a sleepy smile on her face as she watches them.
"I thought you'd be enjoying your night off," Barbie says, gesturing to their daughter in his arms.
Julia shrugs, shuffling over to them in her slippers. "Couldn't get back to sleep." She props her head against his shoulder. "The bed's cold without you." Barbie smiles happily, even though her words evoke the ghost of a memory that's not so cheerful. He reminds himself that the very fact that they are standing here with a perfect being they created means it ended happily.
They stand in silence for a while, all four eyes on Mollie. Barbie hopes Mollie will know one day how deeply she is loved-or rather, it's his goal to make sure she does. Nothing in the world is so important as her. Mollie finishes the bottle and drifts back off to sleep peacefully, her lavender eyelids fluttering against her pale skin.
"When we met..." Julia says but trails off without finishing her train of thought.
He looks over at her. "What?"
Julia meets his eyes. "Did you ever think we'd end up here?"
When they first met, he'd thought she was a nosy, upstart journalist type. Not that he's going to tell her that. "Not for one second." He shrugs, laughing a little. "Glad we did though."
She nods, grinning too. "Oh, me too."