A/N: This story was inspired by a request from Russell Zavala. This one is for you.
Ciara sat in Doug's Place basically against her will while her had yet another 'intervention' from her family. Ciara rolled her eyes as her mother went through a slideshow of crime scene photos.
"This is what Ben Weston did to Paige Larson. A sweet young innocent girl. Who had her whole life ahead of her when Ben ended it."
Ciara sighed, "MOM! I am perfectly aware of what Ben did. He was sick then. I'm not disputing that. But he's different now. He's changed."
Hope groaned and Abigail walked up. "Ben kidnapped Thomas when he was born." Ciara straightened up, "To be technical, he thought Thomas was his son. You can't kidnap your own child."
Abigail rolled her eyes as Hope changed the slide to the cabin. "This is what he did to me and Chad. He tried to KILL us by setting us on fire. Sound familiar? Well, it should since he did the SAME damn thing to you!" Ciara huffed, "Ben did NOT try to kill me! He looked me in the eye and SWORE to me that he didn't set the fire. I won't lie, he did question if he could have not remembered something while he was off his meds. But Marlena hypnotized him and he remembers EVERY moment now. He didn't start the fire."
Abigail rolled her eyes, "Oh, PLEASE. You think Ben looking you in the eye means ANYTHING?! Do you know how many times he laid in bed next to me after committing murder?!" Ciara swallowed, "And didn't YOU lay next to your husband after YOU committed murder?" Abigail shook her head, "That wasn't me, that was-" Ciara cut her off, "Gabby with a 'y'? Huh, isn't that interesting? But to be technical, you became sick AFTER you committed crimes, not before or during like Ben." Abigail stuttered, "I-I-Well, I-" Abigail walked away.
Ciara stood up and clapped her hands once, "Thank you again for this LOVELY event." Ciara headed for the door. Hope stood up, "Ciara, don't you see what Ben is doing? He is driving a wedge between you and everyone that you hold dear." gesturing to everyone that was there. Ciara crossed her arms, "No, that all of YOUR doings. Ben has NEVER once asked me to choose between him and my family. That you guys. He's never given me an ultimatum saying 'it's me or your family'. Ben is my friend. And beside Marlena, I am the only one who is willing to give him a chance and the benefit of the doubt."
Hope crossed her arms, "This is it, you need to make a choice: all of the people that you have known all your life or a psychopath. Ciara scoffed, "You're serious? It's Ben or you guys?" Hope nodded, "Yes, Ciara. It's either your family or Weston. If you choose him, you will have no family and no one besides him. Consider yourself shunned." Ciara let out a light laugh, "'Shunned'? What is this, an Amish community? You're the big Bishop who will shun me if I don't do what you want or what you find 'acceptable'?" Hope arched and eyebrow and deadpanned, "If that's what it takes."
Doug stood up, "Hope, maybe you should…" and motioned for Hope to shut up.
Ciara sighed deeply, "No, it's fine. I know my answer. I choose Ben, because he's never asked anything of me. Unlike you guys." Ciara stormed out of Doug's Place without another word.
When Ciara walked into the loft, it was dark except for a light by the couch. Ciara noticed that the couch was clear. Ben's makeshift bed wasn't there. "That's strange" Ciara thought to herself.
Ben walked out of with his backpack. When he saw Ciara, he looked like a deer in headlights. "Hey, I didn't hear you come in." Ciara nodded, "Yeah, just got here."
Ciara noticed Ben's backpack, "Are you going somewhere?" Ben looked down for a moment, "Uh, yeah. I guess you could say that." After a moment Ben continued, "I'm leaving Salem."
Now Ciara looked like a deer in headlights. "What, what do you mean you're leaving Salem? I thought we talked about this. You deserve to live your life the way you want and WHERE you want. What, did you suddenly decide that you don't want to live in Salem?" Ben shook his head, "No, that's not it." Ciara crossed her arms, "Then why? WHY are you leaving Salem?"
Ben sighed, "Because of your family." Ciara looked at Ben confused, "My family? Why?" Ben swallowed, "I-I went to Doug's Place today and I didn't go in but I heard the conversation. I-it's not fair to you to have to defend me. It's not fair to drive a wedge between you and your family." Ciara shook her head, "That's not your fault, Ben. You're my friend, and if they can't handle it, well, that's just too damn bad."
Ben pointed, "That's it, right there. All I have done since I came into your life is cause pain and heartache. I can't do it anymore. I care about you too much." A slight blush came to Ciara's cheek and Ben sighed, "Besides, I'm never going to get a job here. Until the day comes that you open your own business, I'm not going to have a job."
Ben headed for the door. As he was right in front of it Ciara lightly grabbed his shoulder and turned him around. "Ben, please. Don't leave." Ben sighed and looked sadly at Ciara, "There's nothing for me here in Salem. Unless you can think of something or some reason that I should stay?" Ciara sighed and stayed silent. "That's what I thought."
Ciara tightened her lips, "Wait, where will you go? What will you do?" Ben shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know. Maybe to Jordan's. I haven't seen her in so long. I'll take a bus and see how far I can get." Ciara nodded sadly fighting the tears that threatened to form, "Well, let me give you some money to-"
Ben gently grabbed Ciara's arm, "No, I can't do that. I can't take anything more from you. I've already taken too much." Softly Ciara said, "Ben, you're my friend. I will do anything I can to help you." Ben lightly touched Ciara's neck, "And I appreciate that, I do. But I can't." Ben opened the door, "Thank you for everything, Ciara. I will never forget you."
Ciara sighed as tears began to fill her eyes, "I won't either. Goodbye Ben." Ciara closed the door without another word.
Ciara leaned against the door letting the tears fall. Little did she know, Ben was leaning against the door as well. To himself, Ben said, "Goodbye Ciara." Ben walked away from the door and Ciara forever.
Ciara slid down the door and put her knees to her chest. Why was Ben leaving effecting her so badly? She wasn't even this upset when she ended things with Tripp. Ciara thought about all of the moments she and Ben had spent together. Every moment flashed through her mind. From being scared of him in the cabin, to beginning to trust him, to then coming back to Salem and almost being torn apart but their bond only got stronger. Ben had quickly became one of her best friend. Then it hit Ciara, she didn't just feel friendship for Ben. It was more. SO much more. Ciara stood up. She had to get to the bus station. She had to stop Ben from leaving before she could tell him how she felt. Ciara quickly wiped her eyes and grabbed her keys.
Thankfully there weren't too many buses headed for New York. Ciara ran around the bus station like a chicken with its head cut off until she found the right bus. Ciara saw Ben about to get onto the bus. "BEN!"
Ben turned and saw Ciara running toward him. A million thoughts when through Ben's mind. Once Ciara was face-to-face with Ben, she caught her breath.
Ben looked at Ciara confused, "Ciara, what-what are you doing here?" Ciara breathed heavily, still catching her breath, "I can't let you leave Salem." Ben shook his head slightly, "Why not? There's nothing for me here." Ciara stood up straight and swallowed hard, "Nothing? Not even this?"
Ciara reached up and pulled Ben's lips to hers. As soon as they connected, Ciara felt those 'fireworks' that people always talked about when the first kissed someone that they wanted so bad. She always thought that it was a myth or a wives tale and had never felt it until that moment. Ciara pulled away and Ben just looked stunned.
"I love you, Ben. I'm IN love with you. I love everything about you. I love that your jaw clenches when you're thinking hard. I love how your chin turns pointed when you smile really big or laugh really hard. I love every piece of you. The good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. I love how you know about the most horrible moment of my life and when everyone sees me as weak and a victim. You see me as strong and badass. I believe your words were 'Rockstar'." Ben chuckled slightly under his breath and Ciara sighed and softly said, "I love you, Ben."
Ben still had a stunned look on his face. Tears began to well in Ciara's eyes, "And based on your face, I can tell that you don't feel the same. I-I couldn't let you leave without you knowing how I feel. And now that you do…" Ciara turned to walk away and before she could get more than a few steps before Ben grabbed Ciara by the elbow, spun her to him and pulled her in for a kiss. After a moment Ben pulled back, "Of course I love you. I just never thought you would."
Ciara covered her mouth and chuckled, "And I never thought YOU would."
Ben sighed, "Ciara, I love you. I love how I just look into your eyes and it's like I'm safe and home. I feel secure. A feeling I haven't had since I was pshh, 7, I think. You are my anchor. You were able to talk me down and get me to see what was real and what wasn't. You are the only thing I could hear over the voices. You look at me and you don't see 'the necktie killer', you just see 'Ben'. You see who I want to be, who I desire and strive to be, not who I was. You made me feel like redemption was a possibility, even after all that I had done. All of the people that I had hurt. You stood up to the people that you love time and time again for me. How could I NOT have fallen for you? You are the most amazing understanding person in the world." Ciara smiled a half-smile, "Say that again." Ben looked at Ciara in confusion, "You didn't hear me?" Ciara chuckled, "Say those three words again." Ben smirked, "I love you, Ciara. I love you Ciara Alice Brady." Ciara smiled a big smile, "I love you too, Oliver Benjamin Weston." Ben couldn't help but smile hearing Ciara call him that.
Ciara put a hand on Ben's neck. With her lips against his, Ciara said, "Don't go. Please. Stay. Come home." Ben smiled even bigger as he captured Ciara's lips in his own. "Do you really think I can go anywhere? I am here to stay."
Ciara let out an almost Claire-ish squeal as she wrapped her legs around Ben's waist. Ben couldn't help but let out a laugh. Ciara kissed Ben on the cheek.
Ciara got back down on the ground. "Let's get you home." Ben's smile got even bigger and put his hand in Ciara's as they walked out of the bus station.