43800

San Francisco

a part of 43800, by SleepingInTheGardens.

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SleepingInTheGardens holds sovereignty over San Francisco, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Setting

Default Location for 43800

Minimap

San Francisco is a part of 43800.

2 Characters Here

Ben Chapman [74] Somebody make me feel alive and shatter me.
Jacob Song [73]

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor - #bbc89c - outfit
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Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxall my faces are alibis
xxxand me, i'm half the man i wanted to be
There was something almost hypnotising about watching Jake cook. Ben was a functional cook, he cooked whatever was easy and semi-healthy and tasty. But there was almost an art to the way Jake did it, like he didn't even have to think twice about it. Maybe it had been that easy to Ben once, back before he had to worry about slicing his finger open with a tremor. Nothing was second nature to him any more.

The question caught Ben off guard. He exhaled at the thought. He tried to think of a way to formulate it, to make it sound less depressing. But he couldn't. So he just shrugged and said, "More than I can say," with a shrug.

"It was all so... simple, back then," he found himself saying, not even really looking at Jake. "College wasn't always super easy. Residency was tough. But it was... we were so... hopeful. We had no idea what the world had in store, and that was... exciting. Not terrifying. That was what got us through those rough nights, the nights where we were so exhausted we didn't know how we'd ever wake up. We'd think about the future, about when we were amazing doctors, the top of our game, the peak of our lives."

How far he'd fallen. As a student, he'd often longed for something that would let him see into the future. To see where he'd be in a few years. And now as he stared at his hands, counting out the scars, he was just really glad that he'd never had that. Because hope was all that kept him going. And now that was... gone.

"What about you? Did you go to college?" He asked, eager to move on and change the subject. He wanted to let Jake in, but if he was just going to disappear in a few days, then he wasn't going to put himself through that. He wasn't going to split open his soul for someone who would only go away.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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There was something hypnotic about the way Ben spoke. Something far beyond just the English accent he’d no doubt picked up during his days of living there. The way he spoke about his college days, his words carrying both nostalgia and and bit of longing. His short stories about those days spoke volumes about who Ben was. The real Ben, not the idea of the skillful doctor Jake had been looking for. It was clear to him that a lot had changed, and despite how much he wished to know what caused it, it was none of his business.

Jacob’s dark brown eyes searched the man’s features for a moment, immediately picking up on the fact that the memories of times past brought back other things he would have rather not remembered. If the way he looked anywhere else but at Jake while he spoke didn’t tell enough, his sudden question surely did. He was eager to change the subject from himself onto Jake. The young father didn’t mind. He’d always been an open book, even with strangers.

”I did!” he said a bit too enthusiastically as he dropped the raw noodles into the now boiling pot of water. His lips shaped into a soft smile as the bittersweet memories began to flood his mind. ”I majored in photography” he added, the contrast between their degrees of choice being almost comical. Jacob’s parents always talked about how Jake was smart enough to become a skilled doctor, but the young version of him always refused, determined to put his love for art first. Looking back now, he wished he’d listened to them. Maybe he could have helped Autumn himself.

”It was a struggle, just like you said.” the young man continued, unintentionally avoiding eye contact with Ben as he spoke. ”Especially after finding out my girlfriend was pregnant.” admitting it now was a bit embarrassing. It sounded exactly like something an irresponsible teen would do. But Jake was far from that, and Aubrey was never meant to be a short term thing. ”We had to postpone our studies, but it was fine because we were going to have a beautiful daughter, we were going to be a family. At least…that’s what I thought.” his word rolled off of his tongue as if they had a mind of their own. It’d been a very long time since Jake had spoken to anyone about what happened between him and Autumn’s mother, and as much as he didn’t want to burden Ben with all this information he didn’t need, it felt nice to get things off his chest.

”not even two months after Autumn was born, her mother decided that she didn’t need us anymore and just...left.” Jake could feel the all too familiar stan of pain in his gut, the usual side effect of talking about what happened. ”I think what hurt the most was not that she left me but...that she left her only daughter and has either forgotten or pretends she doesn’t exist”. Jacob had always been an emotionally strong person, but that had changed after Autumn came into his life. Whatever hurt her would hurt him twice as much.

Jake could feel a knot starting to form in his throat before he quickly cleared it away and half-forced the soft smile he had started out the conversation with. ”Ah, I’m sorry. You don’t need to hear all that,” he said, regret very evident in his eyes as he finally looked up at Ben. They hadn’t known one another for very long not to mention Ben had his own issues. Jacob had no business venting to him no matter how safe and comfortable the guy, and his place for that matter, made him feel.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor - bbc89c - outfit
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Image
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xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be

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Hearing Jake talk about his hopes and dreams for a family made something in Ben sadder than he could put into words. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t wanted that. A happy, somewhat nuclear family. A doting husband and two kids. A dog and a picket fence. And it had just driven home how far away that was now, how he could never have something that good. And it also reminded him that this one person he was actually connecting with, the one person who knew who he was, had a completely different life. An ex wife and a kid. They were two separate stars in separate solar systems, passing by briefly.

But still, they spoke as Jake prepared dinner. At some point, Ben opened the bottle of wine, and they started drinking it. The conversation flowed as they told stories of their college lives, of bad dates, of crazy stories. At some point, Ben relaxed. Felt his walls start to drop for the first time in years. He laughed more in an evening than he had in months. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t acutely aware of the alcohol’s grip on them, even as they opened a second bottle. This is irresponsible, one voice said. Another told him to drain his glass.

β€œThat food was amazing,” he sighed. It had reminded him of his love for Asian food, of what actual good home cooked food was like. He leaned his head on Jake’s shoulder almost subconsciously. He wanted to say he was glad that Jake had found him, but he wasn’t quite drunk enough for that, because it sounded like he was glad Autumn was sick. And that wasn’t right. But Ben didn’t know how the hell he was going to find someone else like this.

β€œIt’s gonna be lonely when you go back,” he mumbled, half to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob wasn't the type to feel awkward around strangers. He'd always been able to talk up a storm with just about everyone he met without the fear of coming off as odd or uninteresting. But even he, with all his social attributes, was surprised by how naturally the conversation between him and Ben flowed. Two strangers that knew nothing about one another's existence until just a couple of days ago, and they spoke as if they'd known one another from their very childhood. One story turned into another, and another, with no intentions of stopping.

Jake found himself laughing more than he had in a very long time, his worries taking a backseat for the moment as he focused on the second bottle of wine that was being opened. His lips stretched into a smile as his glass was filled for who knows how many times now, every responsible brain cell being silence by the dull buzz of the sweet alcoholic drink. "I told you" he mildly taunted, the sound of a grin very present in his voice. "Gordon Ramsay's got nothing on me."

He finished his glass and set it on the coffee table just in time for Ben to use his shoulder as a pillow. He'd be lying if he said the gesture and the comment that followed didn't set lose a few butterflies in the pit of his stomach, though he did silently blame it on the alcohol. "It's gonna be lonely for us too..." Jake admitted. Although he had a good family, they all had their own lives and families to worry about. Most of the time, it was just him and Autumn, and though he never had any problems with that, it did get lonely. Especially now that he had no one to turn to but himself, no one's shoulder to cry on, or to tell him that it would be okay. "Autumn really likes you, you know...and, well" he could feel the rest of the phrase just hanging on his lips. He turned his head slowly, so as to not alarm Ben. His face was closer than he expected it to be, and for a fraction of a second Jake thought it imagined Ben looking at his lips. Maybe it was the effect f the alcohol, or his lack of rest, but whatever it may have been was also responsible for the words that left Jake's mouth next. "So do I." Suddenly, Jacob forgot where he was, and why he was there in the first place. All he knew was that he really wanted to kiss Ben...so he did.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor - bbc89c - outfit
Image
Image
Image
xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
He really didn't want to think about them leaving. About the hole that would be left in his life. He just wanted to be here, with Jake. Forget about everything else that was going on and just... be here. But Jake talking about how Autumn genuinely liked him was... nice. And then Jake was looking at Ben, and Ben was suddenly aware of his heart pounding in his chest.

And then Jake was kissing Ben, and Ben was kissing him back. For the first time in what felt like years, his mind was still, actually just focusing on what was happening. His hand moved up to cup Jake's face, his hand actually still for once. He moved away for a moment to catch his breath... and then he realised what they were doing.

This was only going to make it hurt more. And for a moment, he was stone cold sober. He didn't want to move away. But he had to.

"We... we shouldn't," he said. "I... wish we... I'm sorry. You should check on Autumn, make sure she's okay," he said, picking up their empty wine glasses and moving out to the kitchen. He put the glasses down and swore silently to himself, running his hands down his face. He'd ruined perhaps the only good thing he'd had for a long time.

Washing the glasses with the shaking in his hands became incredibly difficult and he was afraid that he'd break one. Part of him wanted to break it, wanted to break something, anything. He just wanted to destroy something, something that wasn't his own goddamn life.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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For what it was worth, Jaehyun's attraction towards the other make had nothing to do with the alcohol. Though the red liquid was responsible for his actions, because sober Jacob wouldn't have acted so whimsically, it was clear enough to the young father that there had been something between them from the moment their eyes first met in the middle of the crowded book store. A small part of Jacob imagined it to be one-sided, but that thought was tossed out the window the moment Ben returned the kiss. His hand, instead of pushing him away, brought him a bit closer. But all good things come to an end, and this was no exception.

"We... we shouldn't," though Jake knew Ben was right, the words still stung a bit. In the midst of his alcohol-induced haze, a part of Jake's mind thought maybe something good could come out of this trip. Meeting Ben had been well enough on its own, but something told Jake that Ben didn't want to be a part of their life. Or rather, he didn't want them to be a part of his.

"Right..." he muttered, unable to process what had just happened for long enough to think of anything else to say. By the time he did, Ben had already vanished into the kitchen. A soft sigh left Jake's lips as he contemplated this being one of the dumbest things he'd ever done in his life, and he's done plenty. He wanted to apologize but wasn't even sure where to start. He wanted to say something, anything, but forming words was too heavy of a task at the moment. He opted to simply pick up the rest of the dirty plates to leave in the kitchen before doing as Ben suggested and checking on Autumn.

The plates were quietly set down on the counter, eye contact being avidly avoided on both ends, as Jake very quickly realized he'd done the impossible and made it painfully awkward between them. He considered apologizing for several long seconds, but when he opened his mouth to speak another sound was heard.

"APPA!" the call wasn't its usual tone. Not the kind he heard when Autumn wanted a snack, or when she wanted to call his attention to show him something she'd made for him. It wasn't the usual call, but it was one that was starting to becoming painfully familiar. "APPA!" the sound of his little girl's strained voice sent chills up Jacob's spine. Everything that had just happened was quickly shoved aside as Jacob's panicked gaze met Ben's for a fraction of a second before his feet rushed to his daughter's call.

She sat on the bed, small hands clamped over her stomach, as tears began to run down her pink cheeks. A knot instantly formed in Jacob's stomach as he fell to his knees beside his little girl. "What's wrong? What is it, baby? Does it hurt?" there was no verbal reply, only a small nod before the five-year old's flushed face was buried in her father's chest, begging for him to make the pain stop.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor - bbc89c - outfit
Image
Image
Image
xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
Ben was steadily ignoring Jake's presence in the kitchen, finding the smallest things to focus on instead. Hearing Summer's shout was a brief moment of relief, until Ben realised that something was wrong. There was a moment where he just wanted to stay in the kitchen, just wanted to take the distraction. But then the doctor in him, that stupid little part of him that kissed Jake back, all the good parts in him screamed at him, and then he bolted out of the kitchen and after Jake into the room. But he brushed past Jake and to the bags, starting to search through them. He found the bottles he was looking for and looked at the various names, looking for the painkiller. He retrieved the bottle he was looking for along with the plastic spoon. He cracked open the bottle with ease and pressed it into Jake's hand along with the spoon. "Two spoonfuls. I'll go get some juice because that tastes nasty if my memory serves me right." He said, his hand lingering on Jake's shoulder for a moment longer than it should.

He made his way back out to the kitchen, his heart pounding loud enough that it felt like that was responsible for the shaking in his hands, in his arms, in his entire body. And there was a tiny messed up part of him that loved it, that made him feel alive again. But the tremors didn't go away, and he dropped the glass as he pulled it out of the cupboard. It shattered, and he cut his hand as he stupidly tried to pick it up. He swore under his breath, wrapped a towel around it, and using one hand, filled a glass with orange juice. He dodged the broken glass on the way back out, making his way back out to the room and putting the glass of juice down on the bedside table. "Is she okay?" He asked, his heart pounding for too many reasons.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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This was nothing new to Jake. Moments like this had become all too familiar. So much so that even Autumn herself had become accustomed to them. She didn't protest, not even after Ben's confirmation that the medicine tasted horrible. Jake eyed the bottle, unsure of what do do. Autumn had been given her medicine, modified enough to where she could take them down comfortably, but he didn't have any of those on hand. At least not at the moment. "Just two big gulps, okay?" he instructed, his voice as gentle as he could manage. "Appa got you some ice cream. Cookies and cream just like you like it."

A faint smile formed on her flushed face before opening her mouth to accept the medicine. Her face contorted into several expressions of disgust, but she swallowed the syrupy liquid. Jake could have sworn he heard shattering glass coming from the kitchen, but the thought was momentarily forgotten the moment Ben arrived with the juice. The cup was taken and handed to Autumn as Jake took a seat on the bed beside her. The back of his hand pressed against her forehead, a frown quickly taking place. "She still has a fever..." he muttered, his eyes watching his little girl as she carefully slipped on the orange liquid. "It's...really unpredictable sometimes. I think...I should take her to the hospital." neither he nor Autumn liked the hospital, that much had been established between them. Ever since losing his mother, Jacob avoided hospitals at all costs. But it wasn't about him anymore. There wasn't a single thing he wouldn't endure for his daughter.

Jake's eyes finally left Autumn's small body to look at Ben, but the thank you hanging on his lips was forgotten the moment he spotted the towel wrapped around one hand. His eyes widened, his nurturing instincts immediately taking a careful hold of the injured hand. "Oh my god, what happened? Are you okay?" it didn't take long for his mind to connect the dots as he got to his feet, concerned eyes focused on Ben's hand. "Did you cute yourself?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor - bbc89c - outfit
Image
Image
Image
xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
Ben knew by the look on Jake’s face that it wasn’t good. Autumn was still visibly upset, and Jake looked troubled. The thought of going to the hospital made his stomach twist, but he couldn’t deny it. At best, it was an infection. At worst... he wasn’t even going to think about it. And then Jake spotted the towel wrapped around Ben’s hand and took his hand gently, making Ben’s stomach twist in a way he didn’t want to dwell on.

β€œYeah, I dropped a glass, cut myself trying to clean it up. It looks worse than it actually is,” he said, not sure about the last part. He hadn’t stopped long enough to look at it, but he didn’t think that it was deep enough to need stitches. But to demonstrate, he unwrapped the towel from around his hand and was glad that it didn’t even look too bad. β€œI can patch this up. But you’re right, we need to get Autumn to the hospital. If you get her stuff together, I’ll clean myself up and I can call a taxi.” He would offer to drive them, but there was too much alcohol in his system. He could feel it weighing at the corner of his mind, lingering like a heavy fog. The part of him that wanted to kiss Jake again, tell him that it would be okay, tell him that he could help. But none of that seemed true.

He pulled his hand away, putting his good hand on Jake’s shoulder for a moment again, before going back into his bathroom. He took a deep breath and took a closer look at the cut, using the light on his phone to examine it. Not too deep, but opening and closing his palm was going to hurt. Ideally, it probably did need a stitch or two, but he didn’t have anything suitable. Instead, he dug out some surgical tape from his first aid kit, taking longer than he would have liked to fix it up and wrap it with a bandage. But eventually he was done and went back out to check on Jake and Autumn.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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Ben spoke with conviction as he explained to Jake that his injury wasn't anything serious. Still, Jacob couldn't help but worry, for a brief moment focusing his attention on Ben instead of Autumn. His insides twisted in guilt as Ben suggested they all go to the hospital together. True, he had come in search of Ben in hopes he could help, but after seeing how much distance the former doctor had put between himself and the medical world, he had decided to drop the subject. Now he had unwillingly dragged Ben into his and Autumn's problems. Jacob opened his mouth to protest but wasn't given a chance. Before he knew it, Ben had left the room to clean his hand.

The young father turned to his little girl, her usually pale face flushed in pink and her features twisted into a look of pain. He took a seat next to her, eyes watching her with every ounce of love he felt for her as he took one of her small hands in his. "You'll be okay, munchkin. Just hold on for a little bit, okay? Can you do that for appa?" Her mouth didn't move an inch, but her head very carefully made a nodding motion. Jacob leaned in, placing a soft kiss on her forehead, before moving to gather her things. This would mark their fifth time going to the hospital just this month, and something told Jake it wouldn't be the last.

By the time he finished, Ben had made it back to the room. Jacob sat Autumn's belongings at the foot of the bed before scooping her small body into his arms. Like a puzzle piece, she twisted her limbs to mold to her father's shape, rest her head against his shoulder. He made sure she was secure before turning to Ben, apologetic eyes finding his. "Thank you...for...well everything." his voice was low, weakened by the small bump building in his throat. "But you've done a lot for us already...You don't have to come with me. We'll be okay..." it was a statement that Jacob wasn't entirely convinced of, but this wasn't Ben's problems to deal with.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
He hadn’t even really been thinking when he’d offered to go with Jake. But as he waited for them, he realized that... it mightn’t have been the right call. First of all, hospitals still gave him major anxiety, afraid he’d run into an old colleague, someone who knew him, someone who had questions he couldn’t answer. And secondly... he’d been the one to pull away for a reason. He couldn’t let himself get too close. Goddammit, Jake had enough to deal with without Ben’s mess of a life being anywhere near him. It couldn’t last. This was the least painful route, he told himself. This was how he minimized everyone’s pain.

So when Jake said that he didn’t need to come, there was a little too much relief in Ben’s chest for him to be okay with. But there was a flurry of emotions too, fear that he’d just hurt Jake more, fear of leaving Jake alone with Autumn in case something happened... Fear that he might never see them again, that they will wouldn’t come back. He could see that Jake was upset and scared and there was a moment when Ben nearly said β€œfuck it”, a moment where he didn’t give into his own fear. But instead his own fear, his own self preservation, rose up and threatened to engulf him. He swallowed and nodded.

β€œI can.... if you...” he exhaled. β€œYou have my number, call me if you need... anything. Company, a half decent cup of coffee, whatever. Jake, I...” Words rose and fell in his throat, jumbling in his slow, sluggish mind. β€œI’m sorry, for earlier. I just... just call me if you need anything, okay?” The vibration of his phone with a text made him glad of the distraction. β€œThe taxi’s outside, you... you should go.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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If Jake said he wasn't just the smallest bit disappointed by Ben's answer, he would be lying. Sure, he was the one that suggested Ben stay home, but somewhere in the back of his mind he expected, no...he hoped Ben would have protested, even if just a little. Maybe he hoped too much and too high. After all, hope is what got him here in the first place, and things clearly didn't pan out the way he hoped they would.

The young dad couldn't entirely hide his disappointment, but Ben had a right to refuse to get involved. It's not his problem to deal with, Jacob. This was all his mind could repeat back to him as nodded, handing Ben one simple smile to assure him he'd be okay despite it all. Perhaps, somewhere inside, Jacob thought he'd found someone that would be staying in his life for once. Unlike everyone else that had left. But that too was wishful thinking. "No, Ben...It's okay..." his voice was low, yet firm. There was a good chance Ben had only made his offers out of the guilt of not tagging along to the hospital, and that didn't sit right with Jacob. The last thing he wanted was to inconvenience someone who just days before had been a complete stranger simply because said someone felt some form of guilt.

"You've honestly done enough already...I-shouldn't have even come looking for you in the first place. It was a stupid move..." He grabbed his and Autumn's belongings, having no plans of coming back. He'd figure out where to go, but he wasn't going to stick around and unintentionally force Ben to do things he wasn't comfortable with. "I mean...I'm really glad that I got to know you. Even if just for a little while."

Autumn's arms tightened around her father's neck, which meant it was past time for him to go. God knows how long they'd have to stay in the hospital this time. Jacob's hand let go of the suitcase for a brief moment, carefully taking Ben's. "Take care of yourself a little more, please. Your health is important too." He let go of Ben's hand just as tenderly as he had taken it and wrapped his fingers around the suitcase handle. "I promise we won't bother you anymore. Just...take care okay?" he couldn't stop the sad smile that formed on his face, but he didn't let it sit for long. Before Ben could respond, Jake had already begun to pull the suitcase towards the front door, trying not to think about how just like Ben, Autumn would probably be leaving him very soon.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
He had to tell himself that it would be okay, that this was for the better. But the sadness in Jake's eyes, in his body language, in his voice, was enough to make Ben reconsider everything. Especially when Jake grabbed all of their stuff, saying that he wasn't coming back without actually saying it. Jake taking his hand made a lump form in Ben's throat, especially as Ben told him to look after himself. He turned to leave, and Ben suddenly felt more sober than he had in a long time. Jake turned to leave and before Ben knew what he was doing, he was kissing Jake again, careful to avoid Autumn.

"I'll come with you. If you want. Just... I'm not ready for you to go yet," he said, the words coming out before he had even time to really dwell on them. In the moment he didn't care about the hospital, he didn't care about being seen. All he knew was that the thought of being alone right now, the thought of Jake walking out and never coming back was bigger and more terrifying than being recognised. There was that one small part of him that asked if it was Jake or if Ben was just so goddamn lonely that he needed somebody, anybody. But right then he didn't care either.

"If you still want to go, I'll understand. I'm... not the easiest to deal with. I'm a bit of a mess, but... I'll come with you to the hospital. You can stay, just for tonight. If that's what you want," he said, for the first time realising that Jake might still say no and feeling completely unprepared for that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob has never been the best at hiding his emotions, no matter how hard he tried. He thought he’d been fairly vague with Ben. He didn’t want to leave.he didn’t want Ben to stay behind. But he also didn’t want Ben to feel obligated to come along. So, as hard as it felt, he walked towards the door with full intentions of not walking back through it. But before he could even reach, he was stopped. And then Ben was kissing him...again. This time the kiss lasted less, but felt just as impactful.

His eyes were wide and bewildered as he looked back at the man while he spoke. Something about Ben not wanting him to made Jacob feel almost hopeful. Hopeful that he really had found someone that would stay in his life a little longer than most. But he quickly reminded himself that hopes never got him any good results. ”That’s not- I mean….” his grip on his suitcase handle grew tighter as he spoke, struggling with his words for the first time in a long time. ”you’re...really easy to talk to. You’re not...you’re not a mess.”

His words were the most honest they had been in a long time. A mess is what Ben would get himself into if he decided to stick around Jacob and Autumn for too long. A mess would be what Ben would be left with if he stayed long enough for Autumn to leave. Whatever Ben’s past brought couldn’t be any worse than what Jacob’s future would bring. So he settled on a night. One night to gather his thoughts. One night for Autumn to recover enough for them to go back home. One night to get accustomed to the idea of having to go back home without Ben.

”I um… okay.” his words were slow, as if giving Ben a chance to reconsider his offer. ”Let’s go then.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
There was a moment when Ben thought that, for a moment, Jake was going to turn and walk out the door and leave Ben behind. Something in him was braced for that, even with Jake's attempt to convince him that he wasn't a mess. It was just a reminder of how little Jake really knew about Ben, and about how he still might leave. But Ben's desperation to not be left alone was too overpowering. Jake's words were slow, as if he was having to really think about it. But then he said yes, and Ben exhaled a little, smiling despite himself. "Right, okay. We better go," he said, opening the door for Jake and holding it to let Ben and Autumn out ahead of him. He quickly checked to make sure he had his keys, phone, and wallet, before following them out to the taxi.

It was only once he was actually sitting in the taxi that the fear came back. He ran a hand through his hair, able to feel his hand shaking as he did so. His instinct was to hide it, to press his hands between his legs or to fold his arms. But for some reason, the exercises the physical therapist had told him to do to help his hands. And as they pulled out of his gateway, he found himself doing some of them, almost idly. They hadn't helped the first time, but it was something to occupy his hands. It was something that just might help.

He got out of the taxi and helped Jake and Autumn out, following them in to the emergency department. He stepped inside the hospital, and the smell, the sounds... made him feel as though he was stepping back into the past. Once upon a time where he would run in and get stuck straight in without the slightest hesitation. When he could trust himself and his body. There was a moment when he questioned if this was a mistake, if it was worth it. But he looked over at Jake and forced a smile, ignoring the pounding feeling in his chest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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The ride to the hospital felt so much longer than what it was. Jacob's head spun in every direction his mind would take him. Should he have just told Ben to stay? Should he have just walked out without saying a word? Should he not have even come to England in the first place. Autumn lay motionless in his arms, the only sign of her still being awake was the tight grip she kept on her father's jacket. There were so many things Jake wanted to say to Ben, but his thoughts were a mess and the moment they reached the hospital, his body sprung into action as he carried Autumn from the Taxi to the emergency room. There was a moment of still silence, just long enough for him to glance over at Ben and realize he'd made a mistake.

"Right this way" one of the nurses led them towards the room Autumn would be staying in, all the while bombarding him with questions about her and her health. He cooperated as best as he could, answering every question to the best of his knowledge up until the pain medication had put Autumn to sleep, and the two men were asked to leave the room while the doctors performed whatever tests needed to be done. They were asked to wait just outside the door, which only aided in riling up Jacob's nerves. He ignored the bench set right by Autumn's door and subconsciously began to pace in front of the door.

Personal experience told him that every time tests had to be done on Autumn's consit8ions, they never brought good news with them. Given how often she'd been feeling sick lately, Jake could do nothing more than prepare for the worst. As he paced, his eyes caught hold of Ben and a sudden wave of guilt took over. He shouldn't have had to be there dealing with this. "I um- thank you again...for coming i mean" he came to a stop in front of the other man, his hands nervously running through his hair. Some part of him wouldn't dare to even look at Ben in the eyes, so he kept his head down as he spoke, his dark brown boring holes into the floor tiles. "I'm sorry, you- you shouldn't have to be dealing with this I-" For someone like Jacob who was normally good with words, times like these proved to be very difficult. "If you want to leave, I get it. Just um-" his head finally lifted to reveal deep, dark eyes brimmed with tears which he refused to let out. "Text me...when you've made it back safely or i won't stop worrying." he forced a small smile in hopes it would crush the lump in his throat. As much as he didn't want to be alone, he also didn't want to make Ben's life any harder than what it already was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
There was nothing more that Ben wanted to do than turn and run back to safety, back to his old life, anywhere that wasn't this hospital. The smell felt like it was filling up his lungs and making it a little harder to breathe. The anxiety over Autumn wasn't helping either. He'd seen the looks on the doctors' faces, heard some of the terms being thrown around, and they were doing nothing to help him.

But he looked at Jake, and he could feel his heart practically breaking. Jake had always been good with words, and here he was, struggling to get out a full sentence. As much as he wanted to leave, he couldn't do that to Jake. He'd seen too many parents in this state. Before, he'd always been able to help. Now, all he could do was watch. Seeing the tears in Jake's eyes nearly brought tears to Ben's own eyes. "Jake," he said softly. "You shouldn't have to do this alone. I'm not leaving you here alone." For now, anyway. He wondered how long he'd last, how long it would be before he gave in to the fear, until he couldn't handle it any more. How long until his cowardice won out.

"Come on, we'll go get a coffee, okay?" He said, forcing a smile. He couldn't be here, couldn't be where there was doctors coming and going, where somebody might see his face and might make the connection. He half held out a hand, subtle enough that if Jake didn't want to take it, it wouldn't be obvious. He'd only come across a handful of single parents in his time as a doctor, and they were always the hardest, always the most heartbreaking.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob guessed that Ben didn’t want to be at this hospital anymore than he did, anymore than Autumn did for that matter. He’d given the man full freedom to leave as he pleased, and the young father wouldn’t hold it against him. He was fully prepared to do this alone, yet again, as he’d done so in the past. Ben, however, proved to be more persistent than he imagined as he insisted on keeping Jake company. Jake’s vision had clouded from the accumulated tears, so he almost missed the hand offered to him that came along with the coffee invitation.

There was a moment of static as Jacob processed Ben’s offer. His mouth opened to speak, but any words that had originally planned on coming out were now lodged in his throat blocked by tears. Instead, he opted to quickly wipe away the scattered ones that did manage to break free and carefully took Ben’s hand. His heart pounded against his chest for so many different reasons, and now Jake knew that this man and the brief accidents that had happened between them was one of them.

When Ben mentioned coffee, Jake hadn’t a clue where they could even go. Instead of asking as he normally would, he kept quiet and followed. His throat burned with the need to cry, but crying now wouldn’t help Autumn. It wouldn’t help anyone. He kept his hand in Ben’s until the other let go, he only spoke when spoken to or when he needed to give his coffee order. As they sat at their small table for two, one of Jake’s hands wrapped around the coffee mug while his dark browns traced the small foam design laid out on his latte.

His heart aggressively thudded against his chest the moment he finally looked up to meet Ben’s gaze. There was a lot happening now that Jacob wasn’t used to. For one, he was normally alone during times like these so if he needed to cry he simply did. There was no need to worry about making anyone else uncomfortable.

On the other hand, this marked the first time Jake felt anything like this towards another man. Granted, Autumn’s mom had taken up most of his dating life, but even before that, he’d always be seen with a pretty girl at his side. This was new territory for Jake and as much as he wanted to], he couldn’t lie to himself. He liked Ben, which could only mean heartbreak for him in the end. And yet, pushing the man away proved to be more difficult than keeping him close all the while preparing for what he knew was coming. ”Thank you again…” his voice came out much more steady than he’d imagined it to, but the panic in it was still very present. ”ah, I feel like that’s all I’ve been saying since I got here…”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
xx
As they made their way through the hospital, Ben felt like with every breath he was taking on water. He was tense, waiting for somebody to recognise him, to call his name, to ask where he'd gone. Jake's hand clutched in his kept him somewhat grounded, stopping him from floating away. From running away. He hadn't felt like this in... a while. The presence of one person, one particular person, who was worth more than his fear. He didn't understand it and it felt strange, almost counter intuitive. He'd been alone for so long. He'd been entirely independent of other people even before the accident. His work had been his life, and he'd been okay with that.

His hands were shaking too much to drink his coffee. Every time he attempted to pick up his mug, it felt like he was dangerously close to spilling it. So instead he was mimicking Jake's pose, his hands wrapped around the mug to hide the shaking. How long could he hide this? How long before Jake found out and decided that there was too much in his life, too much else to deal with, without Ben crashing in and making everything worse?

He shook his head as Jake thanked him for everything. He could see the tears in Jake's eyes and felt a lump rise in his own throat. "It's fine. Nobody should have to deal with this alone. I'm just... I wish there was more I could do. But..." He couldn't get the words out. He couldn't. "I'm sorry." That person, the person who could help, felt like a different person. So long ago. How easily he had done it. Why had it been him? Why had he been the only person who could help? He had been a good doctor but there had been nothing special about him. Why had the universe decided that he had the talent to do that, only to snatch it away? Beneath the fear and the confusion, anger burned deep down. It wasn't fair, and it felt like there was nothing he could do.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jake shook his head at Ben's comment. Though he wasn't helping in the way Jacob had originally hoped for, just having him as company was more than he could have asked for. "YOu've helped more than you can imagine...". Jacob's dark browns held sincerity to accompany his statement. It didn't take a genius to be able to figure out just how much Ben wished he could help AUtumn, the fact that he even came with them to the hospital given his history was more than enough proof to Jacob that Ben's heart was in the right place. "I usually have to do this all on my own...so...just having you here is more than enough." he swallowed down the small lump in his throat before giving Ben a subtle but genuine smile.

Sitting at the table across from him, Jacob came to realize there wasn't much he knew about this man. So far the only solid facts he had were that he worked at a bookstore, he used to be a skilled doctor and he left the practice. The reasons were still unknown to the young dad, and though he wanted to know more about Ben, he didn't want to intrude. However, on more than one occasion, Jacob had noticed the shaking in Ben's hand. At first, he thought it may have been due to nerves, but the shaking was persistent which meant there was probably a lot more to it. A big part of Jacob wanted to know. He wanted to know more about the man that had pulled new feelings out of him. But he and Ben had barely met. He was in no position to ask personal questions, nor did he want to push Ben away for wanting to know too much.

However, he couldn't shake off what Ben had said back at his apartment. Jake bit his bottom lip nervously before making eye contact with Ben again with just a simple question in his mind. "Back at your apartment..." he paused, wondering if he should even be asking this much, but Ben's words were engraved in his mind until he figured out the reasoning behind them. "Right before we left, you called yourself a mess...why?" As far as Jacob was concerned, the only messy one here was him. A divorced young dad with a sick five-year-old wandering through life in hopes of finding the answers he needed. Ben, though he clearly had a past, at least seemed to know what he was doing.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
xx
Jake's words brought a small smile to Ben's face. He couldn't quite get the words out to answer it, because what would he even say? He was glad he could help? Because if he wasn't such a disaster, if his body didn't betray him like this, he'd actually be able to help. He'd be able to make a difference to their lives. But now he had to just sit by and watch and know. Know that he would have been able to help if he'd made one decision a little differently.

Almost as if he'd heard Ben's thoughts, Jake's question took him aback, feeling a little like he'd been kicked in the chest. He struggled with the words for a moment as he processed. How much he should say. What he should say. He traced the pattern in his coffee as he struggled with the words. "I... I didn't just give up medicine because I always wanted to... live in the back end of nowhere and sell books. I... I can't operate any more and that..." He sighed, taking a minute to gather his thoughts and his words.

"They wanted a surgeon in Iraq. I went. Something... happened. And... it's hard to get yourself together after that. Especially when you can't do the only thing you ever want to do." He held out his shaking hands, for just a moment, to demonstrate. And then he wrapped them back around his mug. He didn't want to think too much about it. He could still visualise the carnage, feel the pain, and the sheer shock of it all. He didn't want to remember it but he didn't have much of a choice. The pressure in his chest seemed to increase, almost to the point of pain. But he couldn't leave Jake, he told himself. He couldn't help Autumn so he had to be there for Jake.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
xx
Jake's words brought a small smile to Ben's face. He couldn't quite get the words out to answer it, because what would he even say? He was glad he could help? Because if he wasn't such a disaster, if his body didn't betray him like this, he'd actually be able to help. He'd be able to make a difference to their lives. But now he had to just sit by and watch and know. Know that he would have been able to help if he'd made one decision a little differently.

Almost as if he'd heard Ben's thoughts, Jake's question took him aback, feeling a little like he'd been kicked in the chest. He struggled with the words for a moment as he processed. How much he should say. What he should say. He traced the pattern in his coffee as he struggled with the words. "I... I didn't just give up medicine because I always wanted to... live in the back end of nowhere and sell books. I... I can't operate any more and that..." He sighed, taking a minute to gather his thoughts and his words.

"They wanted a surgeon in Iraq. I went. Something... happened. And... it's hard to get yourself together after that. Especially when you can't do the only thing you ever want to do." He held out his shaking hands, for just a moment, to demonstrate. And then he wrapped them back around his mug. He didn't want to think too much about it. He could still visualise the carnage, feel the pain, and the sheer shock of it all. He didn't want to remember it but he didn't have much of a choice. The pressure in his chest seemed to increase, almost to the point of pain. But he couldn't leave Jake, he told himself. He couldn't help Autumn so he had to be there for Jake.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob didn’t know how he’d been expecting Ben to answer his question, but he certainly wasn’t prepared for the answer he got. Just as he imagined, Ben had left the medical field after an accident, or traumatic event. In all honesty, he wasn’t certain of what exactly happened and he wouldn’t force Ben to tell him. But the word β€œIraq” was all he needed to hear. That, coupled with Ben’s shaking hands made it more than clear to Jake that whatever happened had been something that would affect Ben for the rest of his life.

Jacob only stared in silence for a moment before realizing he hadn’t said a word. ”I’m sorry…” Jacob glanced down at his own coffee mug feeling a bit of guilt for bringing up such a traumatic event for Ben. ”I didn’t mean to bring those bad memories up again.” he let out a small sigh. Common sense told him to drop the subject. It was probably something Ben didn’t want to talk about to anyone, most definitely not a stranger he only met a couple of days ago. On the other hand, the caring part of Jacob’s soul...the fatherly part...told him that maybe that’s exactly what Ben needed. Someone to listen, and offer comfort. Granted, Jacob was in no position to be comforting anyone at the moment but he needed Ben to know how he felt.

He took a long sip of his coffee before sliding the mug aside, his deep browns offering Ben as much comfort as they could hold. ”I don’t know...what happened out there. And you don’t have to tell me anything. But…” he took a leap of faith, hoping that Ben would take his words as what they were: an invitation to trust him. There wasn’t much he could do, but at the very least he could be there for him. With careful movements, Jake took Ben’s trembling hands in his, holding them steady as he spoke. ”Being affected by it doesn’t make you a mess...it just makes you human. And I don’t know, maybe...maybe you don’t want anyone butting into your new life but...you shouldn’t have to go through it alone” Those same words were given to Jacob several years back, right after his wife had left him and their baby behind. But his older sister reminded him of just how much people needed people, especially when they didn’t want to accept it.

After a moment of realization, Jacob slowly let go of Ben’s hands, hoping he hadn’t pushed too far. He wanted Ben to feel comfortable around him, not pressured. He gave the man an apologetic look with a muttered β€œsorry” before dragging his mug of coffee back to its place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
ben chapman
Image
ο½› dialogue: #bbc89c; outfit: here }

xxi feel so damn worthless
xxanother day is gone
xxand all my faces are alibis
xxand me, i’m half the man I wanted to be
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In his darkest moments, all Ben had wanted was to not be alone. To have someone else there who would make the emptiness seem a little less empty. But now, the thought of bringing someone else in... it terrified him. Especially because that person was Jake, who had already lost and who still had to lose. He didn't need Ben's demons too. He had enough. But the feeling of someone holding his hands still, of just that physical contact making him feel a little more human.. he didn't want to walk away. There was a voice humming in the back of his mind, reminding him that this was something more, something that another presence in his life wouldn't make go away. Something serious and dark and... but this was his punishment. If he'd taken the call, he would have been able to help. If he'd taken a cushy lectureship, he would have been able to help even more people. He'd made the choice. This was the result.

He smiled a little sadly at Jake. "Thank you. But... you need to prioritise Autumn. And yourself. You shouldn't have to worry about me as well," he said, softly, quietly. But he reached out again to take Jake's hand and squeeze it. He wanted to stay in that moment, but it wasn't the right thing to do. Someone else needed them. "We should go back. The doctors might have some news." He said, letting go of Jake's hand and getting to his feet. He just wanted to do his best to help in one way or another.

He would have been lying if he said he was fine. The memories were burning in the back of his mind, making his heart pound and his thoughts race. But he needed to be here. He needed to be present for them.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jake knew Ben was right, to some extent. This wasn't the time to be thinking about things such as the unusual and sudden attraction he felt for Ben. He had to prioritize his daughter, who now lay in a hospital bed being subjected to who knows how many tests. He wasn't so worried about taking care of himself. Autumn came first, and perhaps...maybe just for the time being, Ben came second. "Right" he nodded, taking one last sip of his coffee before getting to his feet. There was a knot in his stomach that told him to expect nothing but bad news from the doctors, but his optimistic disposition had to protest.

The two men walked for a few minutes in silence, Jake's mind a whirlwind of words he wanted to form into sentences but couldn't. He bit his lip nervously as his hands made themselves at home inside his pant pockets. "I know you're right..." he spoke finally, his words slow and calculated. "Autumn is my first priority..." his mind raced a mile a minute, urging him to blurt out everything he was thinking. But he silently willed it to stay calm. He had to make sure his ideas made sense to Ben, otherwise, he could very easily push him away and that's the last thing he wanted. "But I am stronger than I look! I'll be fine," he came to a slow stop in front of Autumn's room as he turned to face Ben. There was so much he didn't know about this man, but what he did know was enough to make Jake want to stay by his side if only for a little longer. "Which means I don't have to worry about myself, and instead I can worry about you..." his statement came with a soft smile. He hoped Ben could see that his words were honest, down to every last syllable.

He wanted to ask how Ben's injured hand was feeling, but before he could get the chance, Autumn's door opened followed by one of the nurses. "Ah Mr. Song, your daughter is awake and she's asking for you." Jake nodded, giving Ben one last glance before turning to the nurse. "How is she...?" he asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. There was a short pause, which only added to Jake's uneasy state before the nurse responded. "She's doing better. Her fever has gone down, and she says she feels okay." it was a good answer, but something told Jake that wasn't all there was to it. "I'll let the doctor know you're back, he wants to have a word with you." the nurse left behind a sense of insecurity as she scurried off to find the doctor. Before going inside the room, Jacob turned to Ben one last time. "Are you okay? Do you need to go home? You can if you want to, I- ..." he scooped in a breath of air, willing his nerves to settle before continuing to speak. "I'll be fine." It wasn't necessarily untrue. Sooner or later, Jake always recovered. Ben had no reason to subject himself to bad memories because of him.