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He knew his wife well enough to know that he had exactly ten seconds, maybe less, to say something before the slight shivering he felt from her as he held her awkwardly in the stairwell would turn into bigger sobs than he could handle in the middle of a work day.

“Listen to me,” he whispered into her ear, rubbing her back gently. “I’ll tell you a million times more that you didn’t fail at either of those things, okay?”

Her fingers tightened over his shoulders. Not a good sign, he knew. He continued, “Honey, you are doing an amazing job right now. You’re good at this; you’re fighting for a change. You’re going to win, because when you really want something, you get it. And you didn’t want to be a salesman. You didn’t like graphic design, right?”

“Mm-hmm,” she nodded into his neck.

“So, you’re going to go in there, kick some ass, and if you need a building, tonight after work we’re going to find an office building.”

“What if…”

“No what if. Everything will work itself out.”

“You always say that,” she mumbled.

“I know. I do. And what usually happens?”

“You’re usually right,” she inhaled, pressing her forehead into his shoulder before she pulled back to look at him.

“I believe in you,” he stared at her hard, his eyes imploring her to listen to him. “As insane as he is, I know Dwight’s going to crack.”

“You think?”

“Definitely. I’ll help you figure out a way to wear him down.”

“No. I have to do this myself. I got myself into this and I’ll get myself out of it.”

He nodded, closing his eyes as he kissed her forehead. “You will. You’ve been through tougher situations than this and came out a winner, right? I mean… you’ve got the scars on the bottom of your feet to prove it, right?”

Her smile appeared slowly, weak at first, reaching her eyes within a few moments, her hand touching his cheek. She sighed, nodded, turned and walked back into their office, her shoulders square and her head held high. He followed her back inside, kissed the top of her head before they entered the main office area, quietly telling her that she could do it with a simple squeeze of her shoulder.


Any single time she thought of herself as a failure, her fear of voicing it grew tenfold. It was never because he would think less of her for feeling that way; she knew she could talk to him about anything. But any time she would mention her disappointment in not passing her graphic design courses, or having to sit through weeks of making zero sales, a look would cross his face.

She could never pinpoint the name of it, and anytime she readied herself to voice a question about his eyes darkening slightly and his lips turning into a frown for a quick second, he would deny anything was wrong. Instead, he would fold her into his embrace, calm her fears and build her up again. He always knew what to say to her at any given moment.

When his arms went around her waist in the parking lot, a victory hug and his words of pride filtering into her ears, she felt good. Better than good.

She tended to her daughter when they arrived at home – another accomplishment, as Jim had pointed out a few months prior – she had a baby who adored her completely, negating her thoughts from years before that she couldn’t handle a child.

She recalled all of the times her husband had told her that she was an artist, that it didn’t matter if she had a degree in graphics or not. The things she created were still meaningful, special, truly her. She took care of her husband, a husband she never thought she’d have the courage and will and strength to wait for, to let fate play its hand and bring him back to her for good. Finally, all of the aching, all of the crying over him being gone all wiped away, as if it were a bad dream.

Somewhere between the car ride home and the microwave signaling that their dinner was ready, she realized she never had that reaction to not being a salesperson or not being a graphics designer. Sure it upset her, she reasoned. But nothing had ever meant more to her than her husband and family. Sometimes, she wasn’t so sure that he realized that.

She waited through the evening for him to address their work day events. But through dinner, dish washing, bathing their daughter and watching television, neither broached the subject aloud.

It wasn’t until they lay in their bed, quietly in the dark, his body pressed against hers from behind, that she felt him start to say something. She could tell without turning around in his arms that he was still formulating his thoughts, his breath coming out unevenly, his thumb tickling her cheek.

"You know what I love," he whispered, nudging the back of her head with his nose. "I love when you draw those cartoon pictures for Cece. She loves them, I'm telling you. I tried the other night while you were out with Penny, and she hated them. She said, 'Daddy, you can't draw like mommy, don't even bother trying.'"

She laughed, the humor pushing away the guilt that started to filter into her mind. "She can't even talk yet."

"It was in her eyes. The way she narrowed them and shook her head. You make her so happy."

She turned to face him, kissing his lips, her hand resting on his cheek. "So do you."

"What if you tried more of those? You could put something together, if you wanted to."

"They're just doodles."

"They're not doodles. They're art. You told me once, a long time ago. Art is what you make of it."

She didn't want to harp on the feelings inside of her, the thoughts that she wasn't good enough and tried to see what he saw in her, kissing him once more. She knew then, that the gift she would give him for Christmas - a comic book featuring Jim and all of the things about him - would be more than well received. She grinned at the thought of seeing his face when he opened it in a few more weeks.

"There's my smile," he said, brushing her hair away from her eyes.

She kissed the tip of his nose and closed her eyes. "Am I doing enough for you?"

He furrowed his eyebrows and his face fell serious. "Of course. What are you talking about?"

"You're always the one cheering me on, cheering me up. I just want to make sure that you don't think it's one sided. I love you, I care about you more than I think you'll ever really understand."

"I have never felt more cared for by anyone other than you."

"I just don't want to take you for granted, or make you think I am, or anything like that."

He swallowed and shook his head, looking at her for a moment. "And I don't want you to resent me and Cece, I don't want you to think you shouldn't be here, you should be following your heart with what you really want to do."

"I would never even think about that," she said emphatically, her heart stopping at the concern she saw on his face. She held her hand to his chest and continued, "You two are my life. You're more important to me than anything. If I lost you, I'd go insane. They'd lock me up and throw away the key."

His hand moved around the back of her head and he pulled her closer, kissing her lightly. She knew the conversation could go around in circles, assuring and reassuring one another of things they'd already said and proven.

She wanted to bring up things to him about his work - tell him that he could do better, he could do something that made him happy and fulfilled and not waste his talents selling something no one ever used anymore. She wanted to tell him to take a risk and open that bike shop he talks about so often in the quiet moments during work when he's left with nothing to do other than daydream. She wanted to tell him that she'd always think on some level that she'd failed at the things she'd tried hardest at.

At the end of all of the things she'd thought of, the only thought she had the need to push through and announce was, "I know you hate when I use the word fail. But I need you to know that I won't fail at this marriage. If you ever feel like I'm not doing enough for you, please tell me."

He looked at her seriously for a moment, shaking his head as it descended toward her slowly. His lips found hers again, this time with more fierceness and passion than moments before. She knew in the morning, when they drove to work, he would encourage her to draw and paint more, to use the studio she'd been somewhat neglecting in her efforts to take care of him and their daughter.

Which ever way the career wind blew, she knew that she was where she was meant to be at the end of every day; that she wouldn't change a thing in the past, no matter how much not passing her graphics courses and not having a career as a salesperson hurt her.

She couldn't live without him. And as she caressed his cheek as his head lay on her shoulder, listening to him tick off all of the things she was to him, she knew full and well that he would always believe in her.

She combed her fingers through his hair as he spoke, his voice so assuring and confident in her. It struck her as they kissed slowly, his hands beginning their usual explorations of her body, that she was not quite sure how she ever lived a minute of her life without him, or how she would ever be able to show him just how much he meant to her. There would never be enough time for that.

Chapter End Notes:
Thank you to Milk and Sugar and More Awake for giving this a once over! I'm in the middle of another story (it's coming out way longer than I imagined it would, so hopefully it'll be here soon.) Thanks for reading, hope you liked it! :) xx

Deedldee is the author of 19 other stories.
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This story is part of the series, Memories Are Made of These. The previous story in the series is Celebrate good times. The next story in the series is The day he bought a house for her.

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