After [Instance]Horticultural Headaches.
<Paige> It was a beautiful day and Paige was off, which seemed so rare to her. She and Jess and decided to take the girls to the aquarium. Somehow, pawning her child off on a Shaw had worked twice. She grinned down at Miriam as they paused in front of a tank of tropical fish. "Look, Ripley! Pretty fishies."
<Jessica> Jess had given up chasing Ripley around and was picking spots between her current distractions to stand so she could get to her in a hurry if there was a problem but otherwise leave her to flail and point at the fish as she would. Paige's voice had distracted the toddler again and she hurried over to investigate. Jess followed this time to pick her up so she had a better view.
<Paige> "Aren't they pretty?" Paige asked her toddler, shifting Miriam on her shoulder with a smile. She pointed to a pretty blue one for Ripley.
<Jessica> Ripley was mesmerised by the blue fish for a moment, Jess watched it too for a little while. Fish were odd looking things. The coral was pretty though. "Do you like fish, Ripley?"
<Paige> "Her father can literally be made of ice. She's a water baby," Paige giggled a bit.
<Jessica> "Fish don't do so well in ice," Jess whispered behind her hand so Ripley woudn't hear.
<Paige> "They can live under the ice," Paige whispered back. "Ice fishing is apparently a thing."
<Jessica> Jess nodded, "Mmhmm, extreme cold but not frozen solid..." she giggled, "Aaaaaand now I want fish."
<Paige> "I think they sell sushi here. Maybe fish and chips?" Paige offered, laughing. "Or is that morbid after looking at them?"
<Jessica> "I don't know and I don't care, I'm hungry." Jess put a wriggling Ripley down so she could go back to running from display to display.
<Paige> Laughing again, Paige nodded. "Ok then. If you get her into the stroller we can find the cafe."
<Jessica> "... How much cheating am I allowed to do?"
<Paige> "Please don't use powers on the toddler," Paige gave her a slightly worried look. "...ok maybe the sticky one. You might totally need the sticky one."
<Jessica> "I will need less epic hearing skills, that's for sure..." Maybe she could bribe the kid.
<Paige> "There's an elsa doll in the stroller. And maybe the Bobby doll. Not sure if I packed it," Paige offered, being helpful as she looked over at Miriam to coo at her. "You're such a good princess, Miriam. You're already good to go!"
<Jessica> "And I'm allowed to cheat with my own kid," Jess went after Ripley and scooped her up in one smooth movement. Squealing ensued but at least it was happy squeals... for now.
<Paige> "As a doctor I would say it's probably not the best idea, as you can never be certain of long term effects. As your friend, it's your kid do what you want," Paige laughed.
<Jessica> "I'm not using chemicals on the kid," she rolled her eyes, "That would be weird..." she tucked Ripley under an arm to carry her back to the stroller, which was apparently also fun. "Empathy is complicated but useful for screaming baby."
<Paige> "I just have to advise. I can't help it. I can't turn it off," Paige explained. "I kind of wish I had empathy to deal with screaming tantrums. At least Ripley can talk now."
<Jessica> "It's useful... but also kind of destructive to your own emotions. I can't turn it off or block it out... I have no idea how." She deposited Ripley in the stroller and fastened her in, "If you be good you can have a treat, okay?"
<Paige> Paige blinked at that. That wasn't quite the kind of bribery she would have used, but she said nothing. "Well you need to surround yourself with happy people! Then you'll be happy!"
<Jessica> Jess laughed, "Yeah... that works in principle but I'd like to know my own feelings on things sometimes... bit hard when I'm soaking up everyone else's like a sponge..." she wrinkled her nose, moving to push the stroller once she spotted the sign for the cafe.
<Paige> "Who can complain about being happy though?" Paige wanted to know.
<Jessica> "I think you're missing my point," Jess bumped her shoulder gently, "I pick up the roadrage outside the house too... bad enough that I can hear what they're yelling," she shook her head, "I really need to learn this shielding thing."
<Paige> "I think you're missing the point," Paige bumped back. "I understand wanting to know how you feel, but being happy is the emotion everyone strives for."
<Jessica> "Even if it's someone else's happiness and not your own? I don't know..." She glanced down at Ripley who was playing with her Elsa doll happily and babbling away to herself.
<Paige> "That usually is what makes me happy," Paige argued. "Seeing other people happy. Making other people happy." She snuggled Miriam. "It doesn’t always have to be about my own."
<Jessica> "But they're still your own feelings... it's hard to explain, I suppose... it just feels a bit like being manipulated which... I know I'm guilty of doing to other people for various reasons but it's only temporary... I've spent a lifetime of being manipulated by other people." She chewed her lip, turning them toward the cafe.
<Paige> "And there's no way to guarantee what emotions you'd get," Paige relented. "I understand being manipulated too. More than most." She brightened at the sight of the aquatic cafe. "Oh it's so cute!"
<Jessica> Jess laughed at the decour, "Oh God, what have I agreed to..." she shook her head, glancing at Paige again, "I know you get it... I was there too."
<Paige> "You were where too?" Paige asked, suddenly lost.
<Jessica> Jess sighed, it was only even in her head because of her talk with Shinobi about her history, "Circle Pines..."
<Paige> Paige faltered, holding Miriam carefully. "Yeah... yeah we were both there."
<Jessica> "Sorry..." Jess chewed her lip, "I know I shouldn't talk about it..." she shook it off and headed to the counter to look at the food options.
<Paige> "Why shouldn't we?" Paige asked, catching up with her. "It happened. It happened to both of us."
<Jessica> "It never goes well... I learned my lesson," she wrinkled her nose, "Every time I talked about it after I got back, people shouted at me... so I stopped."
<Paige> Paige put her hand on Jess' shoulder, trying to gently turn her to face her. "You can talk about that with me. I'm sorry people yelled at you. I had Bobby..." and Lorna. "And even after I didn't know who he was, he let me talk about it. You deserve someone to listen to you too."
<Jessica> "I had Bobby too... but even he got frustrated... I wanted to go back there..." She looked over the options on offer and made a few suggestions to Ripley from their kids menu.
<Paige> Looking over at Ripley, Paige swallowed hard. "I did too," she admitted softly.
<Jessica> "You did?" Jess looked up at her, crouched on the floor beside the toddler, "I wish someone would have told me that..."
<Paige> "Why would they? I only ever told Bobby... and later Rachel." She nuzzled Miriam. "It wasn't something I advertised."
<Jessica> "But Bobby knew I was struggling... it would have been helpful..." she sighed, "I could have talked to the others that were there, I suppose... but that wasn't easy either."
<Paige> "Except he respected my privacy by not sharing that," she pointed out. She was glad Bobby hadn't shared that. "I didn't really know who I was for a long time after that. I left a husband and kids behind. Even if they weren't really my family..."
<Jessica> "I get that... I had a family there, a job... someone to love and love me back... and then I came back to nothing, not even parents... and my best friend was angry with me for leaving..." she gave Ripley's request to the server and her own, "I didn't even actually leave by choice... and knowing what I did I couldn't work out why I hadn't."
<Paige> "I went there by choice. I wanted to stay. I resented them for bringing me back for a long time." Paige shuffled the fussing Miriam, getting her to calm again.
<Jessica> "I thought I was a prisoner there... I escaped and looked for help... and then I wished I hadn't and everyone was judging me over a past I had no memory of at the same time they were telling me I got a fresh start... it was a confusing time... I spent a lot of it very angry with everyone... I got into a lot of trouble."
<Paige> "I tried to get my children back. Once my memories started to return." Paige brushed her hair back from her face. "But aren't you glad now? The way it turned out now?"
<Jessica> Jess looked at Miriam and smiled, giving a small nod, "Yeah... honestly, if all of that hadn't have happened I don't know where I'd be now..."
<Paige> Paige pulled Jess into a hug. "You'd be somewhere not nearly as happy as you are now."
<Jessica> Jess resisted the flail... barely. "More than likely..." she sighed heavily, "I was so miserable back then..."
<Paige> "I understand that," Paige assured her. "I can't believe how happy I am now. I never thought I'd be happy again." She released Jess, planting a kiss on Miriam's cheek.
<Jessica> "Neither did I... I lost a lot in a short space of time... Made a lot of terrible decisions as a result... But Sebastian was a good decision."
<Paige> "Yes he was. I'm really glad you married him. You two are so cute and adorable together," Paige giggled at her. "I'll go grab us a table."
<Jessica> Jess laughed and shook her head, "Tell that to Bobby." She paid for the lunches for herself and Ripley before taking them to join Paige at the table.
<Paige> "Bobby is so weird about Sebastian. I don't get it." She laughed a little. "For someone so tiny you are getting so big!" Paige giggled, sitting with Miriam laying on her back , looking up at Paige. "Hi pretty girl."
<Jessica> "She is going to be a heartbreaker just like her daddy," Jess sat down and leaned over to press a kiss to her daughter's head.
<Paige> "Awwww yes she is," Paige laughed. "That one too," Paige eyed Ripley. "Those blue eyes.... they are going to do men in!"
<Jessica> "No one will stand a chance with these two... we'll have to watch them like hawks."
<Paige> Paige giggled at her, smiling at Jess. "We will! And encourage tattling."
<Jessica> "We'll have to drill that into them early... because otherwise they'll learn from Sebastian and I that keeping secrets is fiiiiine... until one of you finds out and then you fight really quietly and hope no one else in the house notices."
<Paige> "Oh that sounds... awful." Paige made a face. "I don't keep secrets from Bobby." Did they even fight? She had to pause. Had they?
<Jessica> "It's usually riddiculous things," Jess paused to poke the straw into Ripley's juice box for her, "Like... he'll be doing something on the sly like I won't notice or Viper won't find out and tell me... then he'll act all indignant when I'm upset that he's doing it to protect me... which he knows is a thing with me." She rolled his eyes, "Honestly, I think it's just a male thing. Ego or something..."
<Paige> "They are hardwired to protect us. It's just what they do. Trying to make them stop makes them feel emasculated.... and I sound like I swallowed a psych text book! Sorry! I just did a rotation in Psych."
<Jessica> She laughed, "Don't worry about it. I get it... it's just really frustrating. I spent over a decade of my life running and hiding from I knew not what so now I just get a little bit irritated when I don't know the whole picture. He brings the wrath down on his own head... for a genius, he can be pretty stupid sometimes." She popped the lid off her salad and took a bite.
<Paige> "If he was open about protecting you... what would you do?" Paige glanced over at Jess again.
<Jessica> "If he said he was protecting me and didn't give me details? I think that'd be worse... they're both as bad as each other. We promised not to keep stuff from each other... And, this isn't to say I'm not guilty of doing the same... but my reasons are different."
<Paige> "I don't think reasons really matter. If you both do the same thing, then you can't be mad at the other for it." Paige tickled Miriam, thinking about that.
<Jessica> "I only keep things to myself when there's nothing to tell that makes any sense... or when someone else has asked me to keep their secret for them. When I have the whole picture and there's something to tell or if I have to break that promise... then I speak up. I think Sebastian just forgets sometimes that I can look after myself... especially now."
<Paige> Paige giggled at her. "Of course he knows you can. It's that you shouldn't have to."
<Jessica> "But I want to..." she looked down at her food, prodding a bit of salmon with her fork, "I feel like I'm becoming someone I don't recognise anymore... Don't get me wrong, I love my family... but I didn't want all of this... I don't think I'm cut out for being a housewife... I can't be barefoot and pregnant and chained to the kitchen for the rest of my life... that's not who I am."
<Paige> "So go do something! What do you want to do? What do you want to be? I never in a million years thought I'd want to be a surgeon. I knew I wanted to practice medicine... but this kind of fell in my lap and it's absolutely what I want to do. I get to heal people and save their lives. I held a human heart a few days ago. How COOL is that?!"
<Jessica> "That is very cool," Jess glanced at Ripley who was fortunately too busy with her lunch to notice the talk of body parts, "But I've never had a dream like that... I've never wanted to be anything... I didn't know I could.... I'm not sure what I'm supposed to want for myself... or where it'd fit now."
<Paige> "So try something out. The worst that can happen is you don't like it, so you try something else. There's not really a wrong way to discover yourself, Jess Jess." Paige placed her arm on her shoulder softly. "And you always have a friend to go with you."
<Jessica> "What if I already know I like a lot of things and can't decide? How do I narrow it down?" She patted Paige's hand with her free one, "I'm so bored, Paige... I want to go back to school but I have a baby... and I'm sure it's just because I'm desperate to have something to do in the day that isn't cooking and cleaning... I practically begged Shinobi to let me give him help he didn't need with his homework..."
<Paige> "Never let her be an excuse for you to not get your education. So many girls think they can't. Day care isn't such a bad thing. Find one you are comfortable with and make it happen. Ripley goes with me all the time to the hospital. They have a child care center there for the staff. She loves getting to play with her friends." She dropped her hand smiling softly.
<Jessica> "Daycare? You really think Sebastian would go for that? Because I sure don't..." and she was reluctant to bring the subject up, "It's just so complicated... because our homelife isn't normal there are all these other things we have to think about all the time.... I don't know what to do... and I don't want to leave her with a stranger... honestly, I'd rather leave her with Viper... but Sebastian wouldn't go for that either."
<Paige> "Do you think you guys are unique in having a complicated homelife?" Paige actually laughed at her. "You realize my soon to be husband is gone a lot, right? Protecting someone else's life, being a member of SWORD. All of our lives are complicated. We don't make excuses because it's hard. We just make it work, however that looks that day."
<Jessica> "I have the President's daughter and a terrorist living in my house," Jess pointed out in a whisper, "Also another terrorist likes to drop in unannounced because she finds it amusing. You want to explain that to a nanny? At least working for the government is a legit dayjob..."
<Paige> "A nanny! Oo oo Jess! That's it! Let him hire a nanny!" Paige bounced excitedly.
<Jessica> "But then we'd have to explain our situation... and they'd have to be vetted by Tony's people... it's a whole load of hoops I don't want someone jumping through... I just want a simple life..." she sighed heavily and slouched in her seat, dropping her fork into the plastic container with her salad. "And it wouldn't matter how many hoops they got through anyway... it'd still be a stranger with my baby."
<Paige> "Jess... have you heard the saying you can't have your cake and eat it too? You can't have it both ways. You can't go out and 'be more than a housewife' if you won't go through the effort with something like this. Sebastian can handle that. He'd love to handle that for you. Let him go through the hoops. If they pass his checks, Tony will be a cakewalk."
<Jessica> "I'd still rather Viper than some stranger... what if I didn't like the ones that passed the tests? I don't want to leave her with someone I don't even like... I know to everyone else she's kind of a monster... but I trust Viper... and she wouldn't pass any of those checks."
<Paige> "You are condemning this poor person and you don't even know them, sweetie. Of course you don't have to use a person you don't like! It may take some time. It may take weeks or months. You have empathy. You will know if they can be trusted. Sebastian will do all the hard work. You just have to decide if you like them."
<Jessica> "I'm just so afraid something'll happen... and I don't want something to happen when I'm not there..." she looked at Miriam again, she was always so happy.
<Paige> "You can't live your life in fear. That's not living, Jess. If something happens, that will be horrible. Horrible. But if it doesn't? Jess I was trapped. I was literally trapped at home and not allowed to leave because Eve was too scared to let me out. Don't do that to yourself." Paige looked down at Miriam, swallowing hard. "It's not living."
<Jessica> "That was how I lived... for seventeen years of my life... I don't know how to be any other way - I grew up like that." And she still sometimes wondered what it would have been like for them if that truck hadn't collided with their car.
<Paige> "Don't do that to her.... Please. If you won't for yourself, then at least do it for her. I'm not saying when she's this young... but she needs to be with people." Paige brushed the dark hair softly on the infant's head. "Stop letting fear control you."
<Jessica> "It's a work in progress... and I know you're right. When I found myself in the real world I didn't know what to do about anything... I don't want her to feel like that. I never want her to feel that lost or helpless..."
<Paige> Paige rested her head on Jess' shoulder, swallowing hard. "You're a good mommy, Jess. Don't forget that."
<Jessica> Jess smiled a little, resting her head against Paige's. "Thanks... so are you."
<Paige> Paige giggled a little. "I try. Every moment can't be perfect, but I love that baby girl more than life itself. That's what matters right?"
<Jessica> "I can't think of anything that would matter more than that."
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