Ben walked into the Square, amazed at how much it had been transformed for John and Marlena's wedding. He was shocked when Marlena extended an invitation to him, but graciously accepted.


Ben began to stand up after finishing his session with Marlena when she put her hand out, "Ben, there's one more thing." Ben sat back down and sighed nervously.

Marlena continued, "I would like to formally extend an invitation to my wedding." Ben looked at Marlena is shock, "Really?" Marlena nodded, "I know that a lot of people in this town don't see what I and from what you've told me Ciara sees: that you've changed." Ben raised his eyebrows slightly, "And most of which are gonna be at the wedding."

Marlena smiled a small smile, "True as that may be, you can't isolate yourself in this town forever. Hiding out at Ciara's isn't going to do you or your mental state any good." Marlena folded her hands, "So... what do you say?" Ben sighed deeply and swallowed hard, "Okay, sure. What do I have to lose?" Marlena chuckled under her breath, "Good." Ben stood up and looked at Marlena for a moment before leaving her office.

Ben stood off to the side, knowing that 99% of the people there would want nothing to do with him. He also wasn't exactly in the mood to be accosted by Eve again so avoided her like the plague. Luckily, she and Jennifer seemed to be going at it, so she was distracted. Ben made a mental note to send Jennifer a thank you note later.

Ben noticed Ciara walk in with Tripp. Ben knew that Tripp didn't deserve Ciara, after what he did with Claire, but then again neither did he. But Ben knew that Ciara had the biggest heart in the world; that was why she stuck by his side when everyone had given her every reason not to. Ciara looked gorgeous in her red dress. Ben felt the air leave his lungs when she smiled. She was a good, decent person. That's why he knew that he didn't deserve her. After what he did, he deserved to be alone for the rest of his life, but he ESPECIALLY didn't deserve someone as amazing as Ciara. Tripp escorted them over to their seats when Ciara made eye contact with Ben. Ben noticed Ciara whispered something to Tripp.

Ciara then made her way over to Ben. Ciara smiled, "Hey. Don't take this the wrong way, but what're you doing here?" Ben laughed, "None taken. Dr. Evans actually invited me." Ciara nodded her head, "Wow. Well I'm glad to see you, but surprised that you didn't mention it since you know, we kinda sorta live together." Ben laughed lightly, "True, but if figured if Tripp knew…" Ciara finished his sentence, "He would make a federal case out of it and go to Marlena and demand that you be uninvited." Ciara chuckled and winked at Ben, "Got it." Ben couldn't help but laugh when he was around Ciara; she just brought it out of him. Most of the time, Ben couldn't forget what he had done. It would always be a part of him and all of the therapy and meds in the world wouldn't change that. But when Ben was around Ciara, he didn't feel like the 'Necktie Killer'. He just felt like 'Ben', the old him, the REAL him.

Ben and Ciara looked at each other for a moment before Ciara broke their trance and looked back at Tripp. Ciara pointed to Tripp, "I should…" Ben nodded, "Yeah." Ciara walked back over to her seat with Tripp in the front row and Ben took a seat in the middle of the rows of chairs, aisle seat.

Ben looked around as the ceremony went on and he was right: the only people there that didn't hate him was Ciara and Marlena. Thankfully, Hope wasn't at the ceremony so that was one less person that hated his guts.

All the sudden a woman bursted into the ceremony, "Aw, isn't this sweet?" Everyone looked back and saw Kristen DiMera standing there, holding a gun. Marlena looked right at her, "Kristen." Kristen laughed, "That's right, it's me: Kristen DiMera. Back from the dead. After SHE…" gesturing to Marlena, "…tried to kill me and left me for DEAD." Marlena started to take a step toward Kristen, "Kristen…" Kristen waved the gun, "DON'T! Move." Marlena sighed and took a step back.

Kristen turned and held the gun on Ciara, "Ciara Brady. I didn't expect to see you. I figured you burned to death." Ciara looked next to her and noticed Tripp was gone. Ciara's eyes widened and started walked toward Kristen, "YOU started that fire?" Ciara kept walking until she was face-to-face with Kristen. "That's right. Your mother killed my father in cold blood, so I thought it was only fitting that I return the favor. She left me fatherless so I'd leave her daughterless."

Ben stood up and in front of Ciara using his body as shield. Kristen sucked her teeth, "Ben Weston. The wrench in my plan. Ciara would have been dead if it wasn't for you. But that doesn't mean that she still can't be." Kristen cocked the gun and Ciara tried to move Ben out of the way, but he wouldn't budge.

"Ben, let me go." Ben didn't move, "I am not gonna let you get shot." Ciara sighed, "It's me she wants, not you. Don't be stupid, Ben." Kristen started laughing, "Isn't that sweet? The serial killer with a heart of gold. But the question is, are you willing to die for her?"

Ciara tried again, unsuccessfully, to get Ben out of Kristen's line of fire. Kristen pulled the trigger and hit Ben square under his chest. Ben collapsed to the floor. Ciara gasped as she moved hair behind her ear, "Ben! Oh my god, Ben!" Ciara looked up at Kristen, "Yo-you shot him!" Kristen laughed, "Oh, grow up Ciara."

Kristen stepped over them and got closer to John and Marlena. Ciara couldn't even hear Kristen's voice anymore. All she was focused on was Ben. Ciara supported Ben's neck with one hand putting her other hand over his bullet wound, "Ben, listen to me. Don't close your eyes. Just-just focus on my eyes." Ben smirked a bit through the pain, "Like I could focus on anything else." Ciara shook her head and let a tearful chuckle out. "You shouldn't have done that. You're always saving me." Ben grimaced, "I couldn't let her shoot you. I couldn't live with myself if something happened to you and…" Ben groaned, "…and I didn't do everything I could to stop it. I-I care about you too much."

Ben groaned again and Ciara sighed. She lifted her hand from Ben's wound for a moment but more and more blood just kept coming out. Ciara pressed on Ben's wound again and turned her head slightly and saw Kristen still holding the gun in front of John and Marlena. Ciara didn't wish anything bad to happen to them, but she did wish for Kristen to just do whatever she was gonna do already because Ben needed help, he needed to get to the hospital.

Ciara reached down to grab her phone and then remembered how they were put in a basket somewhere. Ciara looked around but couldn't find the basket. Ciara noticed Ben's eyes getting heavier and heavier. "Ben, look at me. You HAVE to stay awake. Let's reminisce about the cabin, just keep your eyes open." Ben's eyes closed and Ciara's voice dropped to a whisper, "Ben…" Tears began to fill Ciara's eyes, "Ben, please. Open your eyes."

Kayla walked over to Ciara who was still over Ben, "Honey, let me help." Ciara looked down at her hands. She couldn't tell where her hands ended and Ben's clothes began because of all the blood. Kayla gently put her hand on Ciara's arm, "Let me help Ben." Ciara sighed and took her hands off of Ben.

Ciara looked around and noticed that Tripp was still nowhere to be found. Ciara chuckled bitterly to herself. Ciara thought to herself "What a coward". Tripp runs away and Ben used his body as a human shield to protect her.

Ciara closed her eyes for a moment and looked down at her hands. She couldn't believe how much blood Ben had lost. Ciara put her bloody hand in Ben's and gave it a light squeeze. Ciara sniffed, "Aunt Kayla, is he gonna be okay?" Kayla was about to answer when Ciara interrupted, "Of course not. Look at how much blood he's lost."

Kayla sighed, "Ciara, he has a pulse and I will do EVERYTHING in my power to save him, okay?" Ciara, in a voice slightly above a whisper said, "Okay." Ciara wasn't exactly the praying type but prayed that Ben could feel her and knew that she was right there by his side.

Kayla turned around, "Steve." Steve came over, "Whatcha need Sweetness?" Kayla looked down at Ben, "I need you to help me get Ben to the hospital." Steve nodded and slowly lifted Ben up while Kayla supported his legs. Ciara sighed nervously and followed very closely behind with Ben's jacket in hand.

Ciara held Ben's jacket tightly as she watched Kayla run after the gurney carrying Ben which was headed for the OR. Ciara took a seat and inhaled Ben's jacket. It smelt just like the cologne he always wore. Ciara slipped it over her shoulders. Steve took a seat next to Ciara, "How you holding up?"

Ciara sniffed, "I'm not the one fighting for my life right now." Steve nodded slightly, "She's one of the best. She's going to do everything she can." Ciara swallowed emotionally, "I know. And normally I wouldn't doubt Aunt Kayla's abilities but…" "You're just worried about Ben." Ciara sighed as she nodded, "Yeah."

Ciara leaned back, "Why did Ben have to be such an IDIOT?! Kristen didn't want him, she wanted ME! If he wasn't so goddamn stubborn, he wouldn't be in an OR right now fighting for his life!" Ciara sighed, "He-he's always saving me. First with after I crashed Dad's bike and now this." "Let me ask you something Ciara and you can be honest. Are your feelings for Ben friendship or something more?"

Ciara looked at Steve in confusion, "What are you…?" Steve shook his head slightly, "I'm not asking as Tripp's father and I'm not judging you. It's just-the way you're worried about Ben. I'm just wondering if it goes further than friendship."

Before Ciara could answer, Hope came running into the hospital. "Baby?!" Ciara stood up, "Mom." Hope wrapped her daughter in a tight hug. "I-I heard what happened at the wedding. Are you okay?" Ciara sniffed, "Yeah, Mom. Because of Ben." Hope tensed slightly and Ciara continued, "He saved my life, Mom. He-" Ciara sighed, "Kristen showed up and said she was surprised to see me because she thought I died in the fire. Mom, Kristen's the one who started the fire at the cabin, not Ben." Ciara sighed emotionally, "Kristen was going to shoot me, finish what she started. Ben… Ben wouldn't let her. He wouldn't move. Mom, Ben got shot protecting me. An-and if he doesn't make it through this, I'll never forgive myself."

Ciara wrapped her arms around herself pulling on Ben's jacket. Hope rested her hands on Ciara's shoulders, "I'm just glad it's over and you're okay baby." Ciara sighed trying to stop the tears that threatened to form, "I'll feel a hell of a lot better when Aunt Kayla comes out and tells me that Ben is going to be okay." Hope kissed Ciara's forehead, "I have to get back to the station; there's still a manhunt for Kristen. But I'm just a phone call away." Ciara nodded, "I know Mom." As Hope walked away Ciara called Hope back, "Mama?" Tears threaten to fall, "You do whatever it takes to find Kristen. I want her to pay for what she did to Ben." Hope nodded, "And to you." Ciara took a deep breath as she watched her mom leave.

What felt like an eternity later, Kayla walked out to the waiting area still in her scrubs. Ciara stood up, "Aunt Kayla, jus-just tell me that Ben is going to be okay." Kayla smiled a small smile, "He should make a full recovery." Ciara wrapped her aunt in a bone-crushing hug, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Kayla chuckled, "He's not out of the woods yet, but things look promising." Ciara smiled, "Thank you. I-Can I sit with him? He's in that bed because of me." Kayla half-smiled and chuckled lightly, "I wouldn't even bother trying to stop you." Kayla held Ciara's face in her hands, "When you get like this, I see your father shining through." Ciara smile got bigger, "Thanks."

Ciara walked into Ben's room and took a seat next to his bed. Ciara ran her nails lightly up and down Ben's arm, hoping for a response but nothing. "I-I don't know if it's true that when people are unconscious, they can still hear what's being said. You are such a stubborn IDIOT Ben! Wh-why did you have to do that? Kristen-Kristen didn't want you, it was me she wanted. Just like it was me she wanted when she started that fire at the cabin. I-I care about you Ben and I don't want anything to happen to you. I-if you die, I-I couldn't handle it. You have become someone that-that I care so deeply about that I didn't expect. You have to wake up Ben, please. I know you said that you don't have anyone else…" Ciara gave Ben's hand a squeeze, "…but I am HERE. Please Ben." Ciara sighed and squeezed Ben's hand tighter, "Please feel that. Feel how much I care about you. I-I probably would never admit this if you were awake but I-" Ciara stopped talked when she heard someone coming in.

Ciara turned her head as she wiped her eyes and saw Tripp walking in. "Ciara, Kayla told me you were in here." Ciara stood up and starting walked toward Tripp. Tripp wrapped Ciara in a hug but her body stiffened at Tripp's touch. "I'm so glad you're okay." Ciara chuckled bitterly, "Yeah, no thanks to you." Tripp looked at Ciara in confusion, "You're not honestly blaming me for-" Ciara cut Tripp off, "For running away like a little bitch?" Ciara crossed her arms, "YEAH, I am."

Ciara glanced at Ben's unconscious body for a moment before looking back at Tripp, "When Kristen showed up, you ran and hid while Ben refused to let Kristen shoot me no matter how many times I told him to move. He even got shot in the process. He may die because he wouldn't let me get shot while my own BOYFRIEND hid away in the BUSHES!" Tripp looked at Ciara incredulously, "So the serial killer is a hero because he wouldn't let you get hurt?! That is oh so sweet of him considering he already tried to KILL you." Ciara crossed her arms, "Actually, you're wrong about that." Tripp chuckled, "Don't tell me, don't tell me that you still believe that Ben is 'innocent'." putting airquotes around innocent.

"I KNOW Ben is innocent, not just because I've always trusted and believed in him, but because Kristen admitted to starting the fire. She did it because she wanted revenge against my mom. So, like I've always known, Ben is innocent." Tripp's eyes got wide, "INNOCENT?! Are you serious?! He's killed FOUR people!" "Three, okay, Will's still alive." Tripp sighed frustrated, "Really?! Really, that's the argument you wanna have right at this second?!"

Tripp sighed trying to calm himself, "How about we talk about the fact that you are sitting by his bedside!" Ciara swallowed, "Ben has no one else. I am NOT going to leave him." Tripp chuckled, "Well, I wonder why he doesn't have anyone! Oh, maybe it's because he's a MURDERER!" Ciara inhaled sharply, "He was sick. He's not that man anymore." Tripp looked at Ciara in disbelief, "You're still holding onto that 'sick' claim?!" Ciara swallowed hard, "Ben's not the man he was when he did those things. If you could just stop with the preconceived notions and ACTUALLY listen to him, you would see what I see." Tripp shook his head, "And what DO you see?" Ciara sighed, "A man who is a good guy. He did some bad things. But he's not the same person anymore. I would think you would understand that." Tripp's eyes widened at Ciara, "Are you seriously comparing me to that murdering maniac?!"

Tripp grasped Ciara's wrist, "That's it, let's go." Ciara ripped her arm from Tripp, "No! I told you I'm not leaving Ben and I meant it." Ciara sighed, "Look Tripp, I can't do this anymore!" Tripp looked at Ciara in confusion, "Do what exactly?" Ciara gestured between them, "THIS, us!" Ciara sighed trying to calm down, "Look, ever since I got back from the cabin, I've been trying to make it work between us, but it's never going to." Tripp pointed to Ben, "You're ending us because of HIM?!"

"Tripp, I'm not ending things because of Ben. I-I just don't feel the same that I felt for you before." Tripp shook his head disgusted, "You're gonna regret this." Tripp walked out of the room and slammed the door shut without another word.

Ciara shook her head slightly and walked back over to Ben. "Sorry you had to see-or rather hear that." Ciara rested her hand on Ben's forearm, "Tripp's wrong about you, Ben. Everyone is." Ben's monitor starting sounding alarms. Ciara looked at it and then back at Ben, "Ben? Ben?!" Kayla and two other doctors came rushing in. Ciara was scooted to the other side of the room.

Ciara's eyes began to fill with tears, "Ben! Wha-what's happening?!" Kayla put her hands on Ciara's shoulders, "Go into the waiting room." Ciara shook her head violently as tears began to fall, "No, I'm not leaving Ben." "He's in good hands." Ciara sighed emotionally, "I know."

Ciara walked toward the door and glanced at Ben one last time before closing the door. Ciara leaned against the door and put her hand over her heart, "Please be okay Ben, please."

Ciara paced the waiting room for minutes, hours. Ciara lost track of time. Finally Kayla and the other two doctors walked out. Kayla barely closed the door to Ben's room before Ciara ran up to her like the Road Runner. "What happened?! Is he okay?!"

Kayla sighed, "Ciara, Ben went into cardiac arrest." Ciara looked at her aunt disbelievingly, "What? Wh-why? H-how?!" "My best guess is the stress from the injury plus the time it took to get him to the hospital was too much strain on his heart." Kayla's words soaked in and then hit Ciara like a ton of bricks, "Wait, 'too much strain on his heart'? A-are you telling me that Ben is dead?!" Tears began free-falling down Ciara's cheeks. "No. No, no, no."

Kayla rested one hand on Ciara's shoulder and the other on her cheek. "Ciara, we were able to get Ben back." Ciara looked at her aunt with a tear-stained face. Quietly Ciara said, "What?" Kayla nodded, "We were able to revive Ben." Ciara let out a breath of relief, "You were?" Kayla nodded again, "But I warn you, Ben is still in very serious condition. We're going to be monitoring him closely, but you can go back in there if you like." Ciara sighed, "Thanks Aunt Kayla."

Ciara sat down next to Ben and placed her hand in his. "Don't do that. Don't scare me like that Ben." Fresh tears began to pool in Ciara's eyes. "I-I thought I had lost you. I was so terrified that I would never see you again. Jus-just open your eyes Ben, please. I just want to see your brown eyes look up at me. I love your eyes Ben. You don't have to say a word, PLEASE." Ciara caressed Ben's cheek, "Please Ben." Ben began stirring.

Ben opened his eyes a sliver and looked at Ciara and his eyes widened in confusion, "Wha-what happened?" Ciara let out a relieved laugh as she rubbed his cheek, "I am so glad that you are okay. D-do you remember what happened?" Ciara dropped her hand and Ben furrowed his eyebrows, "Um, it was Dr. Evans wedding and… we were talking and then… then everything goes blank." Ciara swallowed, "Kristen DiMera showed up holding a gun. She was the one who started the fire at the cabin, Ben. She-she did it to get back at my mom because my mom killed her father. I walked up to her but… but you wouldn't let her shoot me, no matter how hard I tried to get you to move, you wouldn't. You were too damn stubborn for your own good."

Ben let out a slight chuckle, "It sounds like I saved your life." Ciara shook her head and squeezed Ben's hand, "Ben, you scared me half to death. When… when all that blood was coming out of you and the whole time that Aunt Kayla had you in surgery, I was so scared. Scared I would never see you again. And then your heart stopped. God, I don't know if I've ever been so scared."

Ben pursed his lips, "Most of Salem would probably say that I don't have one. Everyone probably would have been happy if I had died." Ciara held Ben's cheek tightly as she shook her head, "Not me. Ben, my life would not be the same without you in it. You changed my life in so many ways." Ciara leaned down and pressed the lightest of kisses to Ben's lips. Ciara picked her head back up and Ben looked at Ciara in shock. Ciara thinned her lips to a line and after a moment a small smile formed.

Ciara bit her lip, "I, uh, I guess you're wondering what that was about." Ben's confused face stayed as he nodded slightly, "Yeah, kinda. Considering you're with Tripp." Ciara sighed as she sat back down, "A-actually, I'm not with Tripp anymore. I broke things off." Ben cleared his throat and started to sit up, "Wh-why? What happened?" Ciara sighed, "You protected me and refused to let me get hurt while he ran away and hid in the bushes like a little bitch." Ben looked at Ciara confused, "Are you sure you're not confusing gratefulness with something else?"

Ciara shook her head, "No, Ben. Se-seeing you like that, it made me finally face what I've been avoiding and denying. I care about you, more than friendship. When I was so scared that I would lose you, i-it was like nothing else mattered. Wearing your jacket and smelling your cologne was the only thing that was giving me even the slightest sense of calm. I know that your life has been nothing but hell since I quite literally crashed into your life. An-and if you don't feel the same or don't want to pursue anything with me, I get it. I won't blame you. We can go back to being friends and pretend this humiliating conversation and this whole confession never happened."

Ciara stood up and placed Ben's jacket over his legs. Ciara sighed and began to walk away when Ben gently grabbed her wrist. Ciara turned back to face Ben. Ben swallowed hard, "Y-you can't just say something like that and then walk away." Ciara looked at Ben in confusion and sat back down.

Ben swallowed hard, "This is hard for me…" Ciara shook her head as tears began to well in her eyes, "Y-you don't have to say anything, Ben. I get it." Ben looked at Ciara in confusion and Ciara chuckled bitterly, fighting the tears that threatened to fall. "You're older than I am. You have been with far more experienced and less traumatized women." Ben shook his head but Ciara didn't see it and kept talking, "Why would I think that you could ever be interested in someone like me?"

Ciara met Ben's eyes and inhaled sharply. Ben leaned forward and caressed Ciara's cheek. "That's not it. In fact, that's not even close, Ciara." Ciara looked at Ben curiously and he continued, "I-I don't know quite how to explain how I feel about you. I care about you, way more than I should. I like you Ciara."

Ben chuckled and Ciara furrowed her eyebrows, "What?" Ben thinned his lips to a line, "I sound like I'm in high school. But Ciara, I look at you and it's like… I feel safe like I can just be myself and that's okay." Ciara covered Ben's hand with her own, "Ben…"

"You are the only person that looks past what I have done as just sees 'me'. Ciara, you… you make me feel like the a 'normal' life is possible." Ben sighed, "I-I don't know how to explain how I feel about you." Ben took a deep breath, "The sound of your voice, it gives me butterflies but also makes me calm at the same time. Your smile makes my heart skip a beat and makes me want to do anything to keep it there." Ciara wiped her eye with her free hand. "When I'm with you, I-I feel like I can do anything. Like anything is possible."

Ciara smiled as tears threatened to form, "Are you saying…?" Ben nodded, "In case I wasn't being clear, I don't want to be just friends, Ciara. I want to be with you." Ciara's smile got bigger, "You do?" Ben nodded and Ciara leaned toward Ben and captured his lips in a kiss. Ben caressed Ciara's cheek as he deepened the kiss.