Paige held Jessie in the kitchen, where it was bright, and tried to smile at the girl. "You don't want to sleep in your bed?"
Jessie buried her face in Paige's neck once more and shook her head back and forth.
"We can stay up there with you," Paige added. "Do you want to sleep in my room?" she tried. Jessie didn't change her attitude. "Mike's room?" Jessie looked up at Paige, and hesitated, but then shook her head no again.
Paige took a breath, "So we're sleeping on the couch down here?" Jessie's eyes were pleading with Paige. The girl didn't nod, but she pointed over at Johnny and Mike, who were still seated at the table in the kitchen.
"They're sleeping on the couch too?" Paige asked, understanding what Jessie meant.
The little girl nodded once before laying her head back down gently on Paige's shoulder.
Paige snickered over at Mike. "Can you hold her while I go get changed? I'll grab her pajamas too."
Mike nodded and walked over to them. Having heard Paige's comments, Jessie let Mike take her from Paige and she latched onto him tightly.
"Hey, Johnny!" Paige yelled from the top of the stairs a few minutes later. "Can you help me out?"
"Yeah, P!" Johnny ran up the stairs to meet her and Mike moved into the living room, sitting down with Jessie on the couch.
He didn't know what to say to her and decided to just sit in silence with her until Paige got back.
Mike smiled when he saw a giant pile of blankets walking itself down the stairs. "Am I at the bottom, Mikey?" Johnny asked.
"One more step, John," he replied.
"Oh screw it," he said. Johnny spread his arms apart and let the pile of blankets, pillows and a comforter fall to the floor.
"Look," Mike whispered to Jessie. She twisted her head over to see Johnny, and a smile creeped across her face.
Johnny had fallen forward onto the pile, stretching out over the mountain of bedding. "This is what you wanted, right?" Johnny said to her. His voice was muffled by the pillow that he had face-planted.
Jessie giggled to herself, but averted her eyes over to Paige when she saw the woman coming down the stairs behind him.
"Johnny! Really?" she said, stopping on the steps.
He sighed and pushed himself off of the pillows. He stood up and grabbed one of the blankets from the bottom and pulled at it to get the whole pile to slide away from the stairs.
Paige walked straight passed him, over to Mike on the couch. She placed what she was holding on the coffee table in front of them.
"Can I hold you?" Paige asked her, putting her hands out towards Jessie.
She nodded at her and Mike helped shift her over to Paige's lap. Before Jessie could cuddle into her, she motioned to change her into the pajamas. "Let's put some clean clothes on, ok?" Paige said softly, while gently pulling Jessie's shirt up over her head.
Mike took out his phone to take pictures of the bruising.
"Can you put your arms up over your head?" Paige asked her. She held the girl's hands and moved them upward to expose the sides of her ribs.
Johnny had brought the pile of blankets onto the carpet and now sat on the table to look at the marks as well.
Mike quickly took some pictures and Paige helped Jessie put on the new t-shirt.
"I'm gonna go...," Johnny said, standing up form the table. Jessie flipped her head around and reached out to him, wanting him to stay.
"I'll be right back," he said to her, "I can't sleep in these clothes!" He gestured to his dress-pants and the button-down shirt, which were very un-Johnny-like.
She nodded and turned her head back towards Paige. Mike placed his hand on the back of Jessie's head. "I'll be right back too, ok?"
Jessie wrapped her arms around Paige and let Mike head upstairs to get changed as well.
"C'mon," Paige said standing up with her, "let's go brush our teeth and use the bathroom before we fall asleep."
Paige was a bit surprised when Jessie tried to wiggle out of her arms, wanting to stand up and walk over without being carried. She took the toothbrush from Paige and followed the woman into the bathroom. Paige helped her with the toothpaste and lifted her up a bit so she could reach the sink. When she had finished, Paige helped her with the pajama pants.
"Do they fit, ok?" Paige asked her. "I don't think you've worn these ones yet."
Paige pointed to the toilet. "Do you need to go?"
Jessie nodded and Paige picked up the other pants from the floor.
"Just come out here when you're done ok?"
Jessie nodded once more and allowed Paige to step out of the bathroom.
Mike was already back down in the living room. "She ok?" he whispered, noticing that Jessie wasn't standing with her.
Paige shrugged her shoulders. "She still hasn't said anything."
Mike took her in an embrace and they locked eyes before sighing into a kiss. They pulled away from one another when they heard a small squeak from the door. They snapped their heads over to the sound and Jessie ran over to them as quickly as she could, throwing her arms around their legs.
Mike bent down and lifted her up. "You all ready for bed?"
Jessie looked at him and then slowly pointed over to the lamp.
"We can leave the lamp on," Paige told her reassuringly.
Johnny jogged down the stairs. "What'd I miss?" he asked.
He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and some dark basketball shorts. He grabbed a pillow and blanket off the floor and pointed to one section of the L-shaped couch.
"Is this where I'm sleeping?" he asked Jessie, continuing to act as if she was in charge. Jessie smiled at him and nodded.
Johnny put the pillow down by the corner cushion and laid on his back with his feet outstretched all the way to the end of the couch. He lay in silence for a few seconds before looking back over to them. "You're gonna make me sleep by myself?!"
Mike realized that Johnny was trying to help them out. "Can you keep Johnny company?" Mike asked in a whisper into her ear. Jessie nodded and Mike put her down.
Jessie walked over to him and Johnny helped her climb up onto the part of the couch where he was.
She lay flat on top of him, using his chest as a pillow. Johnny fixed the blanket so that it covered her up to her shoulders and wrapped his arms around her back. He smiled when she grabbed onto his sleeves.
"Mike and I will sleep right here, ok?" Paige asked her, putting their pillow on the opposite part of the corner cushion.
They were grateful once again to have a reason to sleep in each other's arms, and Johnny not being able to make fun of them for it, made the situation even sweeter.
Mike got situated on his side, but realized they might need just a bit more space, so he took all of the back-rest pillows off the couch and tossed them onto the floor. He slid back to give Paige more space, and when she lay next to him, he felt so comfortable with his arm locked around her torso. Paige snuggled into him and pulled the blanket they were sharing up towards her face.
Jessie looked over to check on them for a second before she finally shut her eyes.
Jessie didn't know what time it was when she woke up a few hours later, but the noise at the door made her snap her head up off of Johnny's chest to look. She relaxed when she heard Paul and Charlie's voices, and they were equally surprised at the scene in the living room.
"Are you ok?" Charlie asked her sweetly. Jessie nodded and rested her head back down.
"You made them have a sleepover?" Briggs asked her, laughing to himself. Jessie nodded and pointed to what was left in the pile of blankets.
"Oh, should we sleep here too?" Charlie asked her.
"Chuck, it's one in the morning, and there's no more space."
"Oh, come on," she whispered, "we'll sleep on the down comforter and use all of these pillows from the couch. I don't even want to get changed. I'm too tired to go upstairs."
Briggs turned the auto-fireplace on low and made a bed out of some of the thicker blankets and the pillows. He took off his jacket and his shoes before laying down next to Charlie on the floor. He grabbed the remaining blanket and covered the two of them, happy to have Charlie in his arms.
"Goodnight," Briggs whispered up to Jessie. She stared at the small dancing flames before shutting her eyes once more.