As she promised, Jacklyn sent rough tapes of the songs she'd working on to Randell, and the time has come for the band to work them up together. All the raw emotions that went into these songs come out again as Jacklyn performs them. It's a difficult process for her, it always has been, but she knows it's what gives her songs their power.
When they finish their jam, Randell takes Jacklyn aside while Nico meticulously cleans and inspects all his gear before carefully stashing everything back in its case. On the road, the roadies have started calling him 'Mom' because of the way he hovers over them, making sure they are as careful as he is with his equipment.
"Jack, these songs are awesome," Randell says, his voice hesitant, "But are you two okay?" Jacklyn never spoke to Randell about what had been going with her and Nico, but that whole story comes out in her new songs.
"We're fine," Jacklyn says, not wanting to get any deeper into it than that, "We're working it out."
"I've been thinking," Jacklyn says when they get home from the jam, "These songs are so personal, maybe we shouldn't record them."
"All your work is personal, " Nico says, "These are too good not to record, Jack."
"And you'll be okay with that, playing these songs in public, knowing that people will know, you know, what you did?"
"I know what I did, that's hard enough for me to live with. Other people, I don't give a shit what they they think. Honestly, Jacklyn, you need to record these songs, and you need to perform them. I'm just honored to work with you."
She rests her head on his shoulder, "You're the best guitarist out there, Nico," she says.
"Yeah," he agrees, never lacking for confidence in his own abilities on that front, "We're both pretty amazing, but we're even better together. Listen, why don't we go out tonight. My brother can sit with Trill."
"Maybe I shouldn't wear my hair up," Jacklyn groans as they get ready for their date, "It just makes my giant nose stand out even more. And my chin, ugh."
"Stop that," Nico says, coming behind her to caress her face, "Look at yourself and tell me that isn't the most beautiful face in the world."
Since they're starting over, they went out to the place where it all began. Not the place where they first met, as neither of them can remember where or when that happened exactly. Their bands had played together in skanky dive bars all over the city so they knew each other by face and reputation long before they'd ever spoken. They both appreciated each other as musicians before the first spark of attraction flared between them, and they each have their own separate memories of when that happened, and neither can say who felt it first. All those gigs tend to become one long night in memory, and recalling exact dates for any one of them is impossible. So, tonight, they go to the club where they first danced together, first kissed, the night they first made love.
They have a drink, and they dance, pretending it's all new, that all the lies, the betrayal and the separation never happened.
"Why didn't we ever get together back then?" Jacklyn asks.
"I thought about asking you out," Nico says, "But I was broke all the time. And we were always playing, every night. There wasn't room for a relationship, for either of us. It would have come down to screwing backstage between gigs." There was also the fact that he had been making what money he had by selling his body to bored, rich housewives, but Nico decides against bringing that fact up again. Even though Jacklyn knows what he was, she doesn't need to be reminded of it.
"I never needed to be taken out anywhere fancy. It could have been beautiful, making love between gigs..."
"It can be beautiful now," Nico answers, pulling her in for a kiss.
They haven't made love since Trill was born. At first, Jacklyn was just recovering from giving birth. Then there was the confession of his affair and the separation. She let him back into her life and her bed, but every time she tried letting him get any closer, the other woman's ghost got between them, and Jacklyn would push him away. Their date tonight rekindled that passion she had for him, and she pushes him onto the bed before they've even gotten their clothes fully off.
"Nico, I have to know, did you love her at all?" Jacklyn asks. Even tonight, the other woman refuses to let go and get out of the way.
"No," Nico answers, "I never loved her. I don't think I even liked her, to be honest."
Jacklyn sighs and bites her lips, "See, I don't know if it would have been worse for you to be in love with another woman, or that it was so easy for you to fuck her when you didn't even like her."
"Jacklyn, if I had to be in love with a woman to have sex with her, you would have been my first. Sex has always been easy for me, never about love."
"How I am supposed to trust you knowing you can just screw any woman you meet like that?"
"When I lost you, I lost everything, over something that meant nothing to me. And I hurt you, don't think I don't know that, that I don't know what I did to you. All the women in the world could never be what you are to me. I won't lose you again."
Promises are words, promises are easily broken. She doesn't know if she can trust him ever again, but that hasn't stopped her from loving him, wanting him, and she doesn't want to lose him any more than he wants to lose her. So Jacklyn buries the other woman's ghost and lets the man she love back inside her. It's like first time, but then again, not; it's painful, not physically, but emotionally, because they know what they had is broken in ways they might ever be able to fix. They make love desperately, grasping for something more than their physical passion, and end in tears together, holding each other.
She could hear him from down in the nursery, retching in the bathroom upstairs. He's been like this since he moved back in with her, but he won't talk about it, tries to hide the pain that flares up at night, the nausea. She's given him his privacy, figuring it was just nerves, that he just needed time, but she's done with that now, she will make him talk.
"Nico, what's going on with you?" she asks gently, "You have to tell me what's wrong."
"I'm fine," he insists.
"Vomiting blood is not fine," Jacklyn says.
"It's my fault," he says, "Because of what I did to you."
"It doesn't work that way," Jacklyn sighs, understanding the way he thinks, "This isn't some divine retribution for your sins. Even if it were, you're going to a doctor."