Note: My lovely beta is the only reason you are seeing this chapter. Thank you, Sabs!

A weighty silence filled the room. Alicia wiped at her tears and looked at the wedding band on her hand in her lap. Then she spoke softly, with a sadness that belied the faint smile on her lips, saying, "Zach reminded me it was our anniversary today when I was paying bills." Tilting her head to the side, she pushed her jaw out, incredulous.

"I asked what the date was to put on the check. I didn't even remember," she said with a shake of her head. Then she looked at him, gauging his reaction as she honestly recalled, "I didn't know whether I should have felt guilty for not remembering or sad that it seemed so… irrelevant."

Peter's brow creased in concern at the scenario and her choice of terminology. He locked eyes with her briefly, letting out a small snort… a mix of shock and frustration… before looking away. It wasn't like Alicia to forget an important date. It bothered him more than he wanted to acknowledge that his wife could, not just choose to ignore their anniversary, but literally let it slip past her radar without remembering it at all.

Irrelevant? he repeated in his head. He shifted his position and cleared his throat, sensing a new level of anxiety began to form in his gut, but he took a deep breath and tried to stay calm. He didn't know where she was headed yet, so he decided to let her continue before getting too worked up.

Alicia could tell by the sudden stiffness of his body that Peter was not happy, so she added an afterthought, "He went on to tell me all kinds of meanings for number symbolism. It sounded like his English class had discussed it, and he thought it was cool" she said with a slightly amused look, remembering his geeky pleasure that morning.

It made Peter curious. "Yeah? Like what?" he asked, a small smile appearing reflexively in response, though it never reached his eyes.

She thought back to it for a moment before replying. "He said 19 is the number of surrender, endurance…things coming into focus. Apparently it's the symbol for winding up old accounts and starting off new… harmony…new beginnings. Things like that."

"Okay…" he stated warily. He was unclear whether this turn in the conversation should make him feel more or less confident since she had not actually answered his own question about getting another chance. He grabbed the back of his neck and rubbed at it, feeling his frustration level rise.

For Peter, trying to restore some sort of relationship with Alicia had been an endurance test since the moment he came home from prison, not just their 19th year of marriage. Still, he did resonate with many of the concepts regarding his wife, having realized his desire to win her back while being painfully aware of his utter dependence on her willingness to try again.

Alicia took a deep breath and really looked at her husband. The open vibe of the dialogue they had only minutes before now seemed to be lagging, and it made her uneasy. She waited a moment to see if he would speak. When she realized that Peter wasn't going to throw her a life line, she determined to finish. Wherever it led, she would at least always know she had said what she needed to say to him for her own sake.

She took a deep breath then, and let it out, determined. "In light of this evening, they are all things that sound pretty appropriate now," she stated in almost a whisper, twisting her wedding band again. "After my conversation with Grace, it really made me think…about the two of us, Peter. Where we are. Where we are headed," she said, meeting his eyes briefly.

He sat up straighter then and closed his eyes, mentally preparing himself for the worst. He didn't want to hear what he was afraid she was going to say, but he felt like a spectator at a highway accident, horrified, yet incapable of turning away from the scene in front of him.

"Alicia, please…" was all he could say, his heart breaking at the thought of their relationship truly ending right then.

"Peter, I..." she spoke at the same time. She couldn't stop now. She knew she might not have the courage to say it later, so she hesitated only a moment, cautious only because he refused to make eye contact, and she wasn't sure what that meant.

Steeling herself, she stated, "I want to be close to you again, Peter, but I don't know how." She looked past him then, thinking. Her voice faltered as she said, more quietly this time, "I miss how it felt to know you wanted me...needed me."

At that, Peter's head popped up and his eyes held hers. She knew she had his attention then. He reached out to clasp her hand, and Alicia inhaled deeply, relieved and grounded by the renewed contact. Letting her breath out slowly, it sounded loud in the otherwise quiet room.

"At other times," she continued, clearing her throat and willing herself not to cry, "I think of you with your prostitutes, and it makes me nauseous when you touch me."

He had been rubbing his thumb over her hand in a soothing pattern, but quickly pulled it away as though he had just gotten burned. Reaching over to cover his hand with hers, Alicia gave him a small smile. "It's okay right now," she reassured him.

It was his turn to breathe a sigh of relief then, as he reached over again and clutched her hand. "Good," he said with a voice full of emotion. "…Because I do want you. I want you to want me too. I want you to still need me too, Babe."

"I do, Peter," she stated simply. With watery eyes, Alicia admitted, "I've tried not to, but I realize now I do. Through all of this, I have decided all I really want is a happy life and to decide my own fate. When I look back, I realize, even with all the pain and difficult times we've had, I still want what I always wanted…us. I want us to be happy together again."

With that declaration, his face lit up with genuine happiness for the first time in a while. His body relaxed into the couch again, as he chuckled with relief evident in his voice. "For a couple of minutes there, you really had me worried, Babe. I haven't been that scared since you kicked me out of your apartment!" he admitted, threading his fingers through hers and sighing again in relief. Then he grinned.

Alicia laughed at that, a genuine throaty laugh, causing Peter's heart to melt all over again. "I'm sorry," she replied, reaching up to rub his cheek affectionately. He turned his head just enough to kiss her hand. "Come here," he said and drew her into a tender embrace.

They sat in comfortable silence that way for several minutes enjoying the closeness. Eventually, Alicia whispered, "I've missed this."

Peter held her a little tighter and agreed, "Me too. I've missed you." He kissed her head and added, "I miss us, too, Alicia. I want us to truly be a team now."

She looked up and held his gaze again. Hesitantly, she confided, "I may be inconsistent. I don't know how to do this…to relearn trust. It's not easy for me. It probably won't be a smooth process. Can you be okay with that? I may be unpredictable."

Peter's smile was immediate, confident, and reassuring. "I wouldn't expect anything less," he said before kissing her head gently. "Take all the time you need, Babe. I'm not going anywhere, okay?"

"Okay," she said softly, mirroring his smile. "Thank you."

It was settled.

Looking at his face, Alicia saw his eyes drop from holding her own gaze to staring at her lips. "Peter…" she said, smiling slightly and cocking her head with a knowing look.

"Hmm?" He smiled back, locking eyes with her again. "I was just wondering…if we could maybe…pick up where we left off earlier," he asked stroking her cheek.

She felt herself blush, and the embarrassment that followed the silliness of blushing like a school girl crept through her faster than the heat of the extra blood flow.

The instantaneous glow of her skin tone was not lost on Peter. His eyes flowed over her body again in slow appreciation. Alicia watched him watch her. She realized anew what a turn on it was for her as her heart beat faster and the rest of her body began to respond in kind seeing his eyes grow dark with desire.

He licked his lips before looking in her eyes again. "You're so beautiful, Babe…" he stated. There was nothing Peter wanted more in the world than to show his wife how thoroughly he wanted and needed and loved her.

She smiled again and pressed her face into his hand before slowly turning her lips to kiss it.

With this answer, he tentatively leaned forward and brushed her lips with his. It quickly turned passionate as she wrapped her arm around his neck, responding eagerly in kind. Peter broke the kiss just long enough to stand up and offer her his hand as they both tried to regain some much needed oxygen.

"Let's take this to our bedroom, shall we?" he said with an inviting smile. The term "our" wasn't lost on Alicia, but it felt right somehow…after everything.

Keeping her eyes locked with his, she hesitated just long enough for both of them to acknowledge the huge step they were considering. Then, with a deep cleansing breath and a tender smile, she accepted his offered hand and stood before him.

Her nerves revealed themselves in the cracking of her voice as she simply stated, "Yes," before kissing him once more, briefly, in reply. She put her hand into his, and they laughed softly together as they walked upstairs side by side.