Ben was sitting on the couch in the loft thinking about how his life had changed. Not even a year ago he thought that he would be living the rest of his life in the sanitarium. He would be forever indebted to Dr. Evans for deeming him to be fit to return to society and even more so to Ciara. She stood by his side even though everyone around her tried their damnedest to convince her otherwise.
Ciara walked out to the living room and sat in one of the chairs across from the couch. Ciara looked at Ben, "Are you doing anything tonight?"
Ben gestured around the empty couch, "Yeah, I'm hanging out with all of my friends since I'm SO loved in this town."
Ciara grimaced, "Sorry."
Ben half-laughed and shook his head, "I was just joking. Why? Got some big plans?" Ben put his hands under his chin like he was a part of a gossip circle.
Ciara chuckled, "Since you're not doing anything tonight, how would you like to be my plus one for John and Marlena's wedding?"
Ben looked at Ciara in shock, "You really think that's a good idea? Everyone in this town hates me. They already think you're nuts for defending a serial killer."
Ciara interrupted Ben, "EX-serial killer." putting emphasis on 'ex'.
Ben continued, "Either way, I really don't think I'd be welcome there."
Ciara thought about it for a second, "Well, there's at least 2 people that don't hate you. Me and the bride."
Ben nodded, "That's true, but do you really think it's a good idea?"
Ciara lifted her bad leg up a smidge, "I could need someone to LITERALLY support me. You've caught me I don't even know how many times. What do you say?"
Ben sighed, "Alright, you talked me into it." Ciara smiled and clapped slightly, "Thank you." Ben smiled knowing that he couldn't say no to Ciara.
While all of Salem was buzzing making sure the day was perfect for John and Marlena, Ben was across town coming as just a guest. Not even a guest, but a guest's plus one, but was as nervous as if it was his own wedding. He knew that that had to do with the fact that he was accompanying the beautiful Ciara Brady to the wedding.
Ben sat at the island waiting for Ciara. Ben was wearing black dress pants and jacket and a white dress shirt unbuttoned at the top. Ben had to keep reminding himself that he and Ciara were just friends and to push down any feelings that he felt for her. His feelings for Ciara caught him off guard completely, but also wasn't about to do something stupid like confess them and risk annihilating the one person that was on his side. He would do what he has continued to do since he started feeling this way. Push them down and just be grateful that he has someone as amazing as Ciara on his side.
Ciara walked out of the bedroom in a maroon-colored dress with a little maroon-colored lace at the top. Ben literally felt his breath leave his body. Ciara was absolutely the most gorgeous thing he had ever seen. In anything, Ciara looked amazing, but especially right here, right now, in this dress.
Ciara noticed the way that Ben was looking at her and put a piece of her black curls behind her ear and blushed. Ciara always thought that Ben was attractive but knew that he would never see her that way. She took in whenever she saw a glance of him shirtless going in or out of the bathroom.
Ciara walked up to Ben, "Wow, I figured that you cleaned up good, but you clean up REALLY good."
Ben blushed slightly, "I don't hold a candle to how amazing you look. You look beautiful."
Ben twirled Ciara around. Ciara smiled," Thanks, I originally was going to wear black heels, but I figured since…" Ben glance down at Ciara's feet, "The leg." Ciara nodded, "…Ballet flats were a better option." Ben turned back to face Ciara's face, "Well you look drop-dead gorgeous either way."
Now it was Ciara's turn to blush. Ben gestured toward to door, "Shall we?" Ciara giggled, "We shall." Picking up her black clutch as Ben escorted her out of the loft.
When Ben and Ciara entered the hall, Ben could feel all eyes on him, and that wasn't because he was accompanying the most beautiful girl in the world.
Ben noticed where Ciara's family was sitting. "You go sit with your family; I'll sit back here." motioning at the last row of seats.
Ciara looked around before looking back at Ben, "Are you sure?" Ciara put her hand on Ben's upper arm before continuing, "I'd be more than happy to sit with you."
Ben fought the smile that came to his face, "Yes. The last thing I want to do is make a scene. After the last wedding in this town I appeared at."
Ciara nodded slowly understanding, "Okay, but we ARE sitting together during the reception." Ben opened his mouth to argue, but Ciara interrupted him and pointed her index finger at him, "And that's NOT up for debate."
Ben did a military-style salute, "Yes, ma'am." Ciara laughed to herself lightly as she walked over to where her family was sitting.
Physically she was with her family but mentally, she was sitting with Ben. Ciara avoided Tripp's glance not wanting to look him in the eye. Throughout the ceremony Ciara kept looking back at Ben while John and Marlena said their vows. Ben noticed this, but convinced himself that it was just her stretching or a tick or something. Surely, she couldn't be thinking of him like THAT. Why would she? She is the most amazing person in the world and he's the 'Necktie Killer'. As much as he didn't want to be seen as that anymore and when he was with Ciara he didn't feel that way, he felt like just 'Ben'. He tried put the 'Necktie Killer' name out of his mind, it was always there, a constant reminder of what he had done. And all of the therapy in the world couldn't change that.
Ciara let her mind wander during the ceremony too. She thought about how Ben saw her as strong and amazing. Even 'Rockstar'. After Ben found out about her most vulnerable moment, he never for one second saw her any different. Never as 'weak' or a 'victim'. And that was one of the things that made Ciara fall for Ben as hard as she did. She imagined Ben saying the words that John was saying to Marlena to her. Little did she know, Ben was doing the exact same thing.
Ciara didn't even realize the ceremony had ended until Claire nudged her when everyone stood up while John and Marlena exited the altar.
Ben exited the hall and ducked behind a corner. Ciara looked around trying to find Ben, but was disappointed to find that he had left already. She wanted to spend as much time with Ben as possible. She had never been around someone who made her feel so at ease, but make her heart speed up at the same time.
Ciara looked around as she exited the hall, and saw Ben sitting down on a bench in the corner. Ciara walked over to Ben and sat down next to him. Ben's eyes instantly lit up seeing Ciara. Ciara returned Ben's smile. Ben watched as everyone exited the hall, "Why aren't you going with your family?"
Ciara looked at Ben obviously, "Because I wanted to walk in with my 'date'." putting air quotes around date.
Ciara put her hand in Ben's for a moment and gave it a light squeeze. Ben let go after a moment and stood up. He extended his arm out and Ciara put her hand in Ben's as he helped her up. Once she was steady-ish, Ciara let go of Ben's hand. Ciara linked her arm with Ben's and Ben said, "Mi'lady." Ciara giggled as Ben escorted her out of the hall.
By the time Ben and Ciara got to the reception, it was already in full swing. Ben dropped his arm from Ciara's not wanting to make a bigger scene. To Ben's shock, Ciara laced her hand in his.
Ben looked at Ciara for a moment and Ciara just smiled at him. Ciara gave Ben's hand a light squeeze as they walked through the hall ignoring the looks and whispers that followed them. After Ben and Ciara got to their table and sat down, Ben whispered in Ciara's ear, "They're just staring and whispering because of how beautiful you are." Ciara blushed at his comment.
Ciara and Ben pretty much kept to themselves during the reception. That is until Hope approached. As she approached, Ciara muttered to Ben, "Here we go…"
Hope approached Ciara like she was a woman on a mission. And Ciara knew that she was and the mission was to run Ben out of Salem. "Ciara Alice Brady, how DARE you bring this psychopath here!" Ciara stood up and took a deep calming breath, "Mom, I have every right to bring my FRIEND as my plus one." Ben's heart both swelled and broke from that one statement. On the one hand his heart always sped up when Ciara defended him but on the other hand hearing the word 'friend' broke his heart because he knew that he wanted more and knew now that Ciara didn't; she just saw him as her friend.
Hope lowered her voice but her tone remained stern, "I don't understand why you continue to defend Ben. Oh, Ciara if your father could see you now, he would be SO disappointed in you!" Tears welled in Ciara's eyes for a moment before she blinked them away, "You're wrong, Mom." Hope looked at Ciara is disbelief, "You HONESTLY think that your dad would have approved of your 'friendship' with a serial killer?"
Ciara glanced at Ben for a moment before continuing, "Dad would have at least listened to what I have to say, how I feel about Ben."
Ciara took a step closer toward her mother, "Doesn't this remind you of something?" Hope looked at Ciara in disbelief, "You can't honestly tell me that you're comparing your father to this EVIL being!" Ciara thought back to her conversation with Doug.
"You know you remind me of your mother about 35 years ago." Ciara looked at Doug, "With Dad?" Doug nodded, "Yes, the way you defend Ben, with that passion in your eyes, reminds me of how your mother used to defend Bo to me. But I didn't listen, I just thought that he was a street thug who wasn't good enough for my princess."
Ciara came out of her flashback,"I know Mom. The way you had to defend Dad because no one thought that he was good enough for you. Well that's the way I act with Ben because you know what? Ben IS good enough for me, just like Dad was good enough for YOU."
Ciara grabbed her clutch and stormed out of the hall.
Ben looked at Hope for a moment before standing up, "I'm just gonna… yeah." and followed Ciara out of the hall.
Ben found Ciara standing in a corner fighting back tears. Ben walked up behind Ciara and put a hand on her shoulder, "Hey, you okay?" Ben took one look at Ciara's face, "Stupid question, of course not." Ciara turned around and wrapped Ben in a tight hug. "How dare she!" Ciara choked back a sob before continuing, "How dare she try to use my dad against me!"
Ben ran a hand up and down Ciara's back, "I'm sorry, this is all my fault."
Ciara pulled back from the hug and sniffed, "How is this your fault?"
Ben wiped a tear that threatened to fall, "If I wasn't here, that fight never would have happened." Ciara sighed deeply, "The truth is, that was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen."
Ben glanced back at the hall, "I'm gonna go. Let you enjoy this time with your family and not turn it into a drama-fest because of me."
Ciara sniffed and shook her head, "No, I invited you here and I want you to stay. I'm gonna go back to the bathroom to freshen up and then we are going back in there and we're gonna have a good time." Ben smiled a small smile and Ciara gave Ben a quick kiss on the cheek before heading toward the bathroom.
As she walked away, she turned back and mouthed, "5 minutes." to Ben. Ben couldn't help but chuckle.
Ciara took a look in the mirror and wiped her eyes. She couldn't believe that her mother would try to use her father against her like that. Ben had his issues and was troubled and Bo was known as a bad boy with a good heart. Ciara saw that in Ben. She knew that deep down Ben had a good heart. That was one of the things that made Ciara fall for him as hard as she did.
Ciara took one last look in the mirror before leaving the bathroom. When Ciara met Ben at where they had left and wrapped him in a hug.
Ben pulled Ciara out to arm's length, "Are you sure you're okay?" Ciara nodded, "Yes." Ben started to walk but Ciara just stood there. "Ciara?" Ciara sighed, "I'm sorry."
Ben looked at Ciara confused, "For what?" Ciara looked at Ben shocked, "'For what?' How about the fact that since I came into your life you have been arrested, accused of kidnapping and arson, hit over the head with a frying pan, thank you very much Claire. Accused of horrible things. Maybe-" Ciara sighed deeply before continuing, "Maybe if I had just let you leave Salem when you wanted to, maybe your life would be better than it is now."
Ben took Ciara's hand in his, "Ciara, listen to me. There is no way in hell my life would be better without you in it. You make me happier than I have been in… I don't even know how long. I have never had someone defend me the way you have and I am forever indebted to you for that."
Ciara smiled and wrapped Ben in another tight hug, "How do you do that? Always know exactly what I need to hear." Ben pulled out of the hug and shrugged his shoulders and blushed slightly, "I don't know what I would do without you, Ciara." Ciara smiled at Ben brightly and turned Ben's light blush even darker.
Ciara took Ben's hand in her own and they walked back into the hall. Ciara looked around and noticed a slow romantic song was playing.
Ciara turned to Ben, "Would you like to dance?" Ben looked confused, "But, your leg…" Ciara shook her head, "It's a slow song. I will let you do all of the moving, promise. Scout's honor."
Ciara giggled as Ben chuckled under his breath. "If you insist. After you."
Ciara took Ben's hand and led him to the dance floor. Ben put one hand on Ciara's waist, careful not to go too far because the last thing Ben would want is for Ciara to be uncomfortable. Ciara wrapped both of her arms around Ben's neck as they swayed to the music. Ciara wasn't the type of girl who believed in fairytales, but right now in this moment, she felt like she was in one of those fairytale clichés that she swore she would never become. As much as Ben was enjoying this moment with Ciara, he couldn't help but notice that basically every single person at the wedding was staring at him.
"Everyone's staring. And I don't think that's because I'm with the most beautiful girl here." Ciara blushed and looked around for a moment, "Well, then. Let's give them something to stare AT." Ciara pulled Ben close and placed a kiss on his lips. Ben felt the air leave his body, but he didn't give a damn. This was everything that he could have ever wanted. Neither of them even heard the collective gasps that filled the room. He didn't want this moment to end, but after what felt like a second, Ciara pulled back.
She looked at Ben for a moment and they both had a huge smile on their faces. "I-I've wanted to do that for a long time." Ciara confessed. Ben's smile got even bigger, "I've wanted that too. I just didn't think you could ever return my feelings." Ciara laughed under her breath, "I felt the same way."
Ciara pulled Ben in for another kiss and this time Ciara's grip around Ben's neck tightened a little bit as she grasped the hairs on the back of Ben's neck. Ben's grip of Ciara's waist tight a bit as well. He never thought that he would be as close to her as he was now, and he never wanted to let go. Ben lifted Ciara up a bit, which wasn't that hard considering he was taller than her, and spun her around a bit. Ciara giggled as Ben put her down.
Ben glanced to where John and Marlena were before turning back to Ciara, "Looks like Dr. Evans isn't the only one who got her fairytale today." Ciara smiled as Ben leaned in to kiss her.