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Early the next morning, Ben wakes. He carefully unfolds himself from Smokes and wraps his silk robe around him. He puts his slippers on and quietly leaves the bedroom. He quietly putters around in the kitchen and soon, there are delicious smells starting to fill the house.

Happy Birthday

Ben spent all day preparing for Smokes' birthday. He wasn't sure Smokes would remember the day they'd picked for his birthday...but Ben was certainly going to be ready. He baked a cake and started dinner, wrapped presents, and cleaned house. Now, close to the time Smokes usually shows up, Ben turns out all the lights and hides in the laundry room.

Juliet's for Christmas

A day after Christmas, Ben makes his way to Juliet's house with a few packages under his arm. He also carries a plate of chocolate peppermint fudge and a tin of Christmas cookies.

He climbs the porch and knocks, hoping he'll be welcomed.

Christmas with Linus

Ben feels a little giddy as he runs around his house getting things ready for Christmas Eve. He's been baking cookies all morning and switched over to a delicious ham in the afternoon. There's an artificial Christmas tree up in one corner with a few wrapped presents under it. There are stockings hanging from the bookcase and candles burn on the dinner table. As evening approaches, Ben changes into a nice, dark suit and combs his hair. He's certain Alex won't be by again this year, but...he is expecting someone. The thought of spending Christmas with someone, especially someone who has never experienced it, makes Ben smile to himself. He can't wait to see Smokes' reaction when Santa brings the presents on Christmas morning...

He switches on a Christmas CD, choosing one that he hopes won't offend Smokes' tastes, and starts mashing sweet potatoes for the casserole.

A birthday

Ben dreads this day every year. It never brings any good memories. He knows that pulling out the old wood doll is probably not helping the situation any, but he does it every year. He turns the doll over in his hands, thinking back to Annie. His thoughts then turn to those other things that happened on this day: the death of his mother, killing his father, the Purge...

Dusk is starting to fall on the quiet barracks, but Ben still sits in his darkening living room. Will anyone remember it's his birthday? Would he WANT them to remember or mark it? It was hardly a day for celebration.
Using one crutch to support himself, Ben leaves his house. He goes around the back way to the infirmary, grunting in pain at the hard effort. The pain has become too much and he decides to see what he can find to help himself. Maybe Jack will be there and he can talk to him...

Grunting and sweating, Ben hobbles into the infirmary. The soft beds look so inviting: but he hasn't slept in days and he doubts even those beds will do the trick. He thumps back to the medicine cabinets and begins sorting through, looking for a pain medication. If there were pills to cure heartache, he'd take those, too...


Ben started his work in the kitchen early that morning. He put the roast in the oven to slow cook. As the day wore on, he added potatoes and vegetables, letting them soak up the beef broth as they too slowly cooked. While it cooks, Ben scrubs the whole house until it is more spotless than usual and manages to take a quick shower. As evening approaches, he starts on a salad and dessert, still laughing to himself as he imagines what Smokes' face will be like when he sees what a turtle cheesecake really is.


Ben hadn't done much since his confrontation with Juliet. He felt betrayed and angered and saddened upon learning that she had told James things he had thought were safe. Was his friendship really that much of a burden to her? Could she not bear his secrets or feelings alone? He didn't want to think anything worse of Juliet, that she might...

Ben sighed and swallowed hard. He had been let down and disappointed so many times in his life. Why hadn't he seen this coming, too? He should have known that her friendship was too good to be true and that it was certainly too good for him. He curses himself for not having seen it coming.


Dusk is giving way to dark as Ben finishes his dinner dishes (having eaten alone again) and wipes clean the table. Ben settles into his couch with a book, hoping to spend the rest of the evening relaxing. He's been trying to ignore how difficult it is lately to concentrate on reading or his work. There are other things on his mind and it's frustrating that he is having such a hard time controlling his mind.

He huffs a bit to himself and turns another page of his book.



Ben woke that morning and knew something was wrong. His throat hurt, his head was throbbing, and there was a terribly achy feeling all over his body.

He thought back to the last night. No, he hadn't been beaten. So what was the reason for the pain all over his body? Ben sat up and nearly fell back into his pillow. His head was spinning!

Clutching at the bed and then the wall and then the dresser, he made his way to the bathroom. He washed his face and looked in the mirror. He did look a little flushed..

Ben shook his head. He so rarely got sick and when he did the Island healed him before he hardly knew he had indeed been sick. Perhaps being kept away by the nightmares was finally taking its toll on his body?

Ben staggered out the kitchen and began making a cup of tea. This slight effort exhausted him and he leaned heavily into the counter. He coughed hard, wincing at the feeling in his throat. Why was the room spinning?