TITLE: Whisper
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah
SUMMARY: Danny and Molly's relationship continues to move forward.
SPOILERS: General season 3
RATING: M – I'm sorry, I tried to keep it clean, but I just couldn't do it. There's bad language and suggestive dialogue and sexual situations and all that good stuff.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with CBS or Jerry Bruckheimer. I assure you that no profit is being made. Please don't sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Takes place roughly six months after "Georgia on My New York State of Mind" and therefore about seven months after the end of "Falling". (So that would make it November, I think.) It can be read on its own but I highly recommend that you read those two stories before attempting to read this one, because otherwise it won't make much sense. Okay, it will still make sense, but I still think you should read them, because this story follows the canon of my other two fics and not the actual show. And not just because I want everyone to read those other two stories. Of course not. That would be wrong. So very wrong.
There are plans for another, multi-chapter sequel, but as of this moment I have no idea what it's going to be about. I just know that I intend to write one.
Flashbacks and characters' thoughts are in italics. If you can't tell the difference, I'm worried about you.
Based on the song "Whisper" by Oval Opus. I had to put that in here just because I'm giving mad props to Oval Opus, one of the world's best bands, and a bunch of really nice guys who like to serenade sorority girls in their foyer. Hee hee hee. Good times, good times.
The use of the word "retarded" later in the story is not meant as an insult in any way. I stole the phrase from the movie Mallrats and I don't wish to offend anyone. I just like the way it sounded.

Reviews are always appreciated. So is cake.


"You can't be serious," said Danny.

The look that Molly gave him was incredulous. She truly didn't seem to realize what she had just admitted and the sheer magnitude of her confession. She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry, but it's true."

Danny refused to accept that as an answer. It was just wrong. He leaned forward, gazing deeply into her bright green eyes, trying to gauge her emotions from the telltale flickers reflected in them. He'd gotten quite good at that. "Tell me you aren't serious."

Molly rolled her eyes. "I don't see what the problem is," she said, and he didn't need to interpret the meaning in her eyes to make out the annoyed tone of her voice.

Danny made a noise of disbelief in the back of his throat. "The problem," he said, "is that my girlfriend has just admitted to being a Rod Stewart fan. That's the problem."

Molly marched over to him and ripped the shoebox that contained her assorted CDs out of his hands. "Oh, don't act like that," she said, though he could see the amused sparkle in her eyes and knew that she wasn't really mad at him. "You've got some questionable CDs in your collection, too."

He held the offending CD at arm's length with his thumb and forefinger, as if it would contaminate him if it came in contact with any more of his body. "Maybe, but Rod Stewart? Excuse me while I hurl."

"Please," she said, throwing him with a wink. "I know you know all the words to 'Do You Think I'm Sexy'. Don't even try to deny it, Agent Taylor."

Danny held up his hands in defense, but he couldn't resist a grin. He loved when she called him that. "There's a difference between tolerating one or two of his songs and actually shelling out hard-earned money to purchase one of his albums."

She grabbed the CD from him and shoved it into the shoebox with the rest of her collection. That annoyed tone had returned with a vengeance. "You never said anything about it before."

He shrugged. "I never really saw your collection until now."

Six months after her return from Georgia, she was officially moving into his apartment, even though she had technically been living there for almost eight months. If she hadn't already been living there, the idea of her moving in would have scared him half to death, but since she had been living there practically since they had started dating, it wasn't so bad. The thought of her actually having a key to his apartment no longer made him want to run screaming into the East River. It really made him feel pretty good – he'd never had a relationship that had lasted this long; he'd never had a girlfriend where things had gotten this serious. It was kind of nice, actually.

And Molly had a lot of nice stuff. That sounded kind of shallow and materialistic, but Danny's apartment had only the barest of bare essentials. His furniture was second-hand and most of it was falling apart – he'd been using an old newspaper to prop up his sorry excuse for a kitchen table for weeks now. Molly had nice furniture – her table was actually made of wood – and decorative objects that made Danny's apartment feel less like a place to sleep and more like a home. The bookshelves had books on them, there were pictures hanging on the walls and cooking utensils in the kitchen, and she had pretty much quadrupled his CD collection. It was like a completely different apartment.

He still couldn't believe he had actually asked her to move in with him. And it seemed like Molly had just been waiting for him to do so, because he had only asked her two weeks ago and already she found someone else to rent her apartment, gotten the lease transferred into said renter's name, and moved her stuff over to his place. But that night when he'd actually asked her, it was like he wasn't even in control of the things that came out of his mouth.

Molly lay on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, scrolling through her cell's log of missed calls. Every now and then she would make a face at a phone number, obviously not happy that a certain person had called her. Danny lay partially on his side, his arm stretched out to trace lazy patterns on the bare skin of her exposed back. Whenever she shivered – which she did often – he would flatten his palm against the small of her back so that he could feel her body shaking beneath his touch.

"I like you like this," he said suddenly. He had no idea what had made him say that; it was like he had been prompted by some unseen force, some invisible specter whispering instructions into his ear. Perhaps it was because she looked beautiful at that moment – her hair was still messed up from where Danny's fingers had tangled in it, her cheeks were still flushed, and there was still a sheen of sweat on her forehead and the nape of her neck.

She smirked but didn't look at him, continuing to cycle through her missed calls. "What, naked?"

He swallowed and felt his cheeks burn with humiliation. He withdrew his hand from her body and immediately missed the contact with her warm skin. "Well, yeah, that." It wasn't what he meant, but it wasn't untrue either. "I meant here. I like you here."

She looked at him, her brow furrowed. "In bed?" she asked, sounding genuinely confused.

He shook his head. "No. Well, yes, but that's not what I meant either." He abruptly sat up and slid backwards along the bed until his back was against the headboard. He was suddenly very frustrated that he couldn't find the words to express what he was feeling and that she couldn't tell what he was trying to say. "I like you here with me."

She smiled, and the flush that had previously been contained in her cheeks spread suddenly to her hairline. She bit her bottom lip and reached over to set her cell phone on the floor next to the bed.

He loved her so much, and he couldn't always tell her that. He was always tripping on the words, sputtering incoherently, and finally mumbling something clichéd and trite when he knew what he really wanted to say but the words just didn't roll off his tongue as easily for him as they did for her. She never seemed to have any problems expressing herself vocally.

Which she did. Often.

This thing they had was insane. He felt like he had given up a portion of himself but gained a part of her in return. She was so thoroughly entrenched in his mind and his heart that he didn't think he would ever be able to extricate her. And he didn't want to. He liked that she had staked out a permanent place inside of him. He couldn't ever remember having felt anything remotely close to the way he felt about her.

"You should always be here," he said.

She lifted one eyebrow. "I am always here."

That was true. She hadn't been back to her apartment for longer than a few hours since her return from Georgia. But it wasn't what he meant. "I know. I meant…" He didn't even really know what he meant, truth be told. Then that disembodied voice was back, feeding him his lines. "You should move in."

Molly's eyes widened. "You – you want me to move in?"

Danny froze. Had he just asked her what he thought he had asked her? What the hell was he thinking? He hadn't even considered the remote possibility of maybe asking her if she might have wanted to move in, and all of a sudden he was telling her that she should, like he'd been mulling over this decision for weeks.

Okay, so technically she already lived with him in the sense that she spent every night in his bed and kept all of her clothes at his place, but she still had her own apartment in case something were to happen – like, if they were to break up or something.

But suddenly Danny was so positive that they were going to last that he didn't even care what a hassle it would be if they did break up. "Yeah," he said, his voice firm and confident, even when his brain was in shambles. "I do."

The grin that nearly split her face in two was the most beautiful smile Danny had ever seen. It went all the way to her eyes. She was still grinning when she launched herself at him.

He cried out in surprise as the force of her attack knocked both of them off the bed and onto the floor. And even though his shoulder felt like it had splintered into a thousand pieces, he wasn't complaining, because she was straddling his stomach, and he loved the hungry look that had suddenly settled itself in her eyes. "You," she said, her voice husky and throaty and so damn sexy, "are going to get so lucky."

He shot her a dopey grin. "I already am."

She laughed and leaned forward, resting her arms on his chest. "Corny sayings aside, are you sure this is what you want to do?"

"Oh," Danny said, knowing that although he couldn't see his lower appendages, they were ready for action again, "I'm sure."

She lightly slapped his injured shoulder, and he winced in spite of himself. "Not that, you horndog. I meant moving in together. Because if I move in to your apartment, we'd actually be living together."

He gave her his most frustrated look. She really shouldn't try to have a serious conversation while sitting naked on top of him. It just wasn't done in civilized society. "We already are living together," he said.

Molly rolled her eyes. "I hadn't noticed. It's just that… Moving in seems like a really big step and you…"

She trailed off before finishing her sentence, but she didn't have to finish. He knew what she was going to say. He had freaked out before, and who was to say that he wouldn't freak out again? He shook his head firmly. "This is what I want. You've been pretty much living here for months and you still call it my apartment. I want it to be our apartment."

She smiled and ran her tongue along her bottom lip. Danny shivered in anticipation. "Good answer," she said. And she lowered her head to meet his waiting lips.

"What did you end up doing with Kate's stuff?" Danny asked, shaking his head to clear the images of what had happened next, lest he get aroused. Even though he had a feeling she would be more than receptive if he wanted to move this conversation into the bedroom, he knew that she was anxious to get unpacked, because she couldn't stand having boxes lying around.

He waited patiently for her answer, searching her face for the hint of guilt he knew still lingered beneath her invulnerable façade. Months after it had happened, she still had nightmares about that night. She tried to hide them, and they weren't as bad as they had been before she left for Georgia, but she sometimes talked in her sleep. He would wake up to her whimpers and pull her to him until she had quieted; he was under the impression she wasn't even aware of this, though, as she had yet to mention it to him.

Molly hesitated barely a fraction of a second before glancing up at him from her place on the floor, where she had been reconstructing her CD tower – meaning that she was alphabetizing all of her CDs. "Gave it away. I asked her brother if he wanted any, then I tried to sell some stuff, but in the end I just gave it to Goodwill." She returned to the task at hand, but he knew he wasn't imagining the hitch in her voice. "Most of the furniture was mine anyway."

He crouched down to see if he could offer his assistance, but she seemed to have a system. He didn't understand the system, but whatever. "What are you doing?" he asked. He'd assumed she was just putting them in alphabetical order, but it didn't look that way to him.

She gave him a look that suggested she thought the answer was obvious and gestured at the tower with her copy of Heavier Things. "Putting away my CDs."

"You've got Fall Out Boy and Green Day above Mariah Carey," he said. "I thought you were putting them alphabetically."

She nodded. "Right. Alphabetical by genre. I hardly consider American Idiot to be the same type of music as The Emancipation of Mimi."

Danny found that all he could do was stare at her. He would never remember the order they went in, and if she was this anal-retentive about it, she was likely to flip out if he stuck a CD in the wrong place. "You aren't serious."

Molly raised her eyebrows at him as if to say, Oh, I'm completely serious, but her face dissolved into a grin. "No. I don't put them in order. I generally just shove them in there."

He furrowed his brow in confusion. She had her clothes organized by color on half of his closet, and her CDs were just in some random order. Why did that not make sense? "But then, how do you find one when you want to listen to it?"

She gave him a "duh" look. "I look for it. You're acting like I've got several thousand to search through. I don't even have a hundred. It's not that difficult." She must have seen that he was still confused, because she sighed patiently and went on to explain. "I used to have them alphabetical, but every time I bought a new one I had to completely rearrange the tower, and once you get past fifty, it's really a big waste of time. So now I just stick them in there. I'd rather waste thirty seconds looking for the CD I want to listen to then thirty minutes or however long it takes to reorganize them."

He lifted one shoulder in a barely perceptible shrug. "I guess that makes sense."

She snorted, but he could tell that it was in amusement. "Glad you approve."

When she was completely unpacked (which she did rather quickly, once Danny stopped bothering her and actually helped), they retired to their – he really got a kick out of that – bedroom. Gone was his pathetic double bed and in its place was Molly's more comfortable queen size. At first, he hadn't wanted to switch; he liked his bed, he'd had it for years, but when he sat down on Molly's mattress he nearly fell asleep on the spot – it was the most comfortable bed he had ever been on, and he practically insisted they toss out his bed and move hers in.

"I still can't believe you agreed to get rid of your bed," she said, as his mouth worked on the sensitive skin of her neck.

He basically ignored her. She should know better than to try and have a conversation with him when they were like this. It was damn near impossible. His blood was already flowing in a southerly direction, and there just wasn't enough left to make his brain function well enough to think.

"I mean," she said, and he rolled his eyes, "yours was so much smaller, it pretty much guaranteed that we'd have to sleep on top of each other, there wasn't enough room."

Danny also ignored that, placing a soft kiss at the base of her throat, because he was actually looking forward to sleeping in a bigger bed. Molly was a clingy sleeper, and he liked his space. With more room in which to spread out, he might actually be able to breathe at night. But he wasn't about to tell her that. Mostly because she liked to cuddle, but also because he was rather busy at the moment, and his lips were sort of occupied.

Mercifully, she stopped talking and ran her fingers down his chest. Her touch was feather light, but it sent chills up his spine anyway. She knew just how to touch him to make him lose his mind, and from the look on her face, she knew it, too.

He stared down at her. "Not fair."

She gave at exaggerated pout, and he wanted nothing more than to suck on that delicious lower lip of hers. "Life's not fair," she said.

He smirked. "And payback's a bitch." He leaned forward to exhale lightly on the shell of her ear, and damn if she didn't almost come on the spot.

She moaned. It was the most highly arousing sound Danny had ever heard. When her eyes came back into focus she grinned at him. "You're evil."

There was very little talk after that.

Later, when Danny was lying on his back on his side of the bed, completely sated and hovering in that almost-asleep state, he asked Molly, "Do you think it's like that with other people?"

She gave a contented sigh. "I think the mechanics of sex are pretty much standardized," she said, and he didn't have to look at her to know that she was smiling.

He shook his head lazily, already drifting off. "Not what I meant."

"I love how articulate you are," Molly said. There was a pause, and he could feel his eyelids grow heavy. "Out of curiosity," she said, "what did you mean?"

But he couldn't answer. His tongue was thick and immobile in his throat and he could feel the blissful unawareness of slumber descending on him. The conversation could wait. It wasn't important anyway.

Living with Danny was nothing new for Molly. He wasn't wrong when he said that she'd basically been living there for months. She never had been able to summon the courage to set foot in her apartment after what happened with Kate – it was like walking into a recurring nightmare, only it was a nightmare from which she couldn't wake. Those few times she had gone back to her apartment – to pick up clothes, to sort through her mail – she had to be accompanied by someone. It was usually Danny, but sometimes Emma, Melina, or Heather would volunteer. Every time she stepped through the door it was like stepping into a time warp, and sometimes, if she listened hard enough, she could hear Kate's voice. It scared her, so she didn't make it a point to go to her apartment that often.

However, there was a difference between living with Danny and living with Danny; she no longer had her own apartment to which she could retreat – not that she ever had even when she'd still technically lived there – and all of her belongings now mingled with Danny's in every room of the apartment. Her clothes hung next to his in the closet. Her books were stacked with his on the shelves. His CDs were put away in her tower. Their DVDs were piled on top of the television. Pictures of the two of them sat on the end tables by the couch. The intimacy of the whole situation was…powerful, to say the least. Even though it only differed from their previous arrangement in that it was now official, it seemed like they were taking huge giant steps away from what they had been before. Molly wasn't sure if she was ready for that.

It was still new, still overwhelming, the way she felt for him. She knew now that it was love – it only took her almost two months of denial to admit that, but whatever – but it was still frightening, to think that she needed someone so much. After her parents died, she made the vow that she would never need anyone, because people left you. Whether it was because they wanted to or because of something else, people eventually left and broke your heart. And Danny… Well, she didn't think she could go on if he left her. So she had left him before he got the opportunity to leave her.

But it hadn't worked, and she knew, deep down, that it wouldn't, and in the end she had come back because the sheer bliss of being with him would far outweigh the pain she would feel if he did leave. Not that she would ever let him leave, of course. Oh, no. She had dug her heels in, had sunk her teeth and nails in (literally and figuratively, in that case) and would claw out eyes if it meant keeping Danny. Because damnit, he was worth it.

Case in point, one Saturday night about a week or so after she had officially moved in, she and Danny were out with Sam and Martin, who were almost as sickeningly sweet as she assumed she and Danny were. The four of them went to Claddagh's because Finn gave them free appetizers. Danny had apparently spent a lot of time at Claddagh's while she was in Georgia, and he and Finn had become quite close, so she let them talk baseball (even though the season was over) with Martin while she and Sam talked.

The girls moved a safe distance away from the boys, taking seats down at the end of the bar. Sam sat on the very end, facing the door and the guys at the other end. Molly sat facing the television that was bolted above the beer taps, trying not to pay attention to the NCAA football game being broadcast on ESPN.

"Closing in on that rock yet?" Sam asked Molly once the other bartender had brought them their drinks – water for Molly, gin and tonic for Sam. That was Sam's favorite way of starting a conversation. Molly just looked at her, then held up her left hand with its noticeably bare ring finger.

"Can't hurt to ask," said Sam, grinning. "The way you two work, I'd be surprised if you lasted another month without running off to Atlantic City." She lowered her voice and leaned closer. "They're taking bets at the office, you know."

Molly shook her head and took a sip of her water. She had a feeling Martin was behind that one. "I don't want to elope. I want to have a ceremony, if only because no one will believe that I'm actually getting married, and they'll need to come see it as proof." She pursed her lips. "And I don't want a traditional engagement ring."

Sam nearly spit out her gin and tonic, and Molly continued. "I've always wanted a Claddagh ring," she said. "You know, the two hands holding the heart with the crown on top?"

"Not me," said Sam, almost dreamily, and Molly wondered just how long it was going to take Martin to pop the question to Sam. They'd been dating for some time – even officially dating and not just sleeping together, for longer than Molly and Danny had. "I want people to take one look at my ring and go, 'I can't even see where the Titanic hit it'."

Molly sniggered into her water. "Well, Martin can certainly afford an iceberg." But she didn't linger too long on that topic. For some reason, Martin's family's wealth always made Sam uncomfortable. "I don't know, rings like that always seemed kind of…empty to me. Like the guy has to prove how much he loves the girl by buying her the biggest ring he can find, even if he has to promise their first born child as payment." She held out her hands and examined the backs of them. "I like a ring that means something."

"Hell," Sam said, "you really want a Claddagh ring that badly, I'll get you one. They're like twenty bucks. You can buy them anywhere."

"Somehow, I doubt it would mean much coming from you," Molly said.

"Come on," said Sam, covering Molly's hand with her own and dropping her voice an octave, "you know I've always had a thing for you."

The girls burst out laughing. It took a while for them to calm down, and Molly had to gulp her water greedily to try and curb the sudden bout of hiccoughs with which she'd been stricken. Then Sam snorted because she was laughing so hard, which set the girls off again, and by the time they finally managed to stop, Molly was out of breath and her eyes stung with tears.

"So…" Sam said, after they both managed to get their breathing under control, "if Danny were to propose to you, what would you say?"

Molly hesitated. What would she say? She shrugged, feigning nonchalance, and said, "Hadn't really thought about it."

Oh, you are such a liar, Sheehan. You think about it every second of every day.

Shut up, you.

Sam didn't seem to buy that excuse any more than her subconscious did. Damn her subconscious. She hoped she didn't get into another argument with herself in the bar. "Uh-huh, right," Sam said. "You've never thought about it, then?"

Molly exhaled deeply and leaned her elbows on the counter. Her eyes flicked briefly to Danny, where he was engaged in an argument with Finn on the merits of the designated hitter rule. She could tell that was what they were talking about by the way he was flailing his arms about – he only did that when he was passionate about something, and for some reason, he was passionate about the designated hitter rule.

Although she really couldn't talk. She got passionate about all-day "Star Trek" marathons on the Sci-Fi channel.

She had thought about it. Of course she had. What girl, dating a fabulous guy with whom she wanted to marry and have lots of babies, didn't think about marriage? Hell, she thought about marriage even when she wasn't dating anyone. It was just something every woman eventually thought of, and Molly was no different. She wanted to get married, someday. She wanted to have someone who would be with her always, who would cheer her up when she had a bad day at work (which rarely ever happened, her job had fast turned into one of the most boring on the planet), who would cook her dinner when she wasn't feeling well. But she had that now with Danny even without the officialness of being married. She also wanted someone with whom she could have children, with whom she could grow old. She wanted that someone to be Danny, but the way he was with relationships – hell, the way they both were with relationships – she wasn't expecting that to happen for a while. They were totally retarded for each other, but both of them had been burned so many times in the past that the slower they went, the better.

Molly almost snorted out loud. Since when had they ever gone slowly? They'd slept together after knowing each other less than twenty-four hours, for God's sake. She'd basically moved in with him almost immediately following.

"Even if I have," she said at last, turning her eyes back to Sam, "Danny isn't going to propose. He's not ready to do that yet." She cleared her throat, suddenly uncomfortable. "I don't know if I'm ready for him to ask me, either."

Sam seemed to realize how discomfited Molly had become with the conversation, so she smiled broadly. "Well, the moment ever comes, I'll have to take Danny ring shopping, and we'll find the most beautiful – "

She broke off mid-sentence, staring down the bar and looking shocked. Her mouth had dropped and her eyes bulged, then narrowed. She hissed in a sharp breath. Molly turned to see what the hell was pissing her off and felt the blood drain from her face.

Danny and Martin both had an admirer. Molly really didn't pay all that much attention to the girl acting as Martin's coat, but the girl throwing herself all over Danny was suddenly on top of her hit list. (Oh, yeah, she had a hit list – she was CIA, she could get away with it if someone mysteriously disappeared. She'd just claim they were planning to overthrow the government or something. Her boss would believe that.) This girl was thin – too thin. Obviously anorexic, thought Molly bitterly, as her eyes took in the tiny scraps of fabric this girl was trying to pass off as clothing. She was wearing a leather miniskirt that barely covered her butt and one of those shirts with no back, only two strings to tie it closed and keep her from flashing everyone. She wore too much mascara and her lips were too red and her hair was bleached blonde and…

Molly gripped the edge of the bar so hard that her knuckles turned white. Good god. Did she just do what it looks like she just did?

She had. She'd just put her hand on Danny's thigh. It didn't matter that Danny was clearly not interested, that he tensed whenever she touched him, that he kept removing her hand from his leg. No, what mattered was that this whore had the audacity to sit there and touch Molly's boyfriend in a way that only Molly was allowed to do. Then she did it again, and Molly pushed her stool away from the bar. She'd had enough.

She vaguely heard Sam's stool scrape across the floor, and in the back of her mind she realized that Sam must be following her, but she only saw the girl who had the stones to feel up Molly's boyfriend in public.

"Excuse me," she said through clenched teeth, poking the girl in the shoulder. Painfully, she hoped.

The girl whipped around, purposely tossing her hair over her shoulder, and Molly idly wondered what she would do if she just grabbed that hair and yanked on it. Probably wipe the smug smile off her face, that was for damn sure. "Do you mind?" the girl asked. But she didn't wait for an answer. She turned back to Danny.

Molly raised her eyebrows, then gripped the girl by the shoulders and turned her around. "Back off, Barbie," Molly said, growling low in her throat.

But Barbie didn't back off. "I'm kind of busy here, all right?" she said, and she did it again. Her hand inched up Danny's thigh, towards –

Molly reached out and grabbed Barbie's wrist, halting the forward momentum of her hand. She tightened her grip, hoping that if she squeezed hard enough she could pop a few bones, and said, "Listen, sweetie, there are two ways this can end. One is that you take your homewrecker whoring somewhere else, and the other is that you and I can take this outside."

Barbie ripped her wrist free of Molly's grip. She didn't seem the least bit fazed. "It's a free country. I can do whatever I want."

Molly's nostrils flared. "Touch him again, and you'll find my foot shoved so far up your ass you'll be sucking my toes till the Fourth of July."

"No ring," Barbie said, pointing to Danny's bare ring finger. "He's fair game."

"That kind of logic won't stop me from beating your bony ass," Molly said, though a part of her wondered if she were going to have to deal with this until there was a wedding band on Danny's finger. She would gladly throw down with as many skanks as it took until people realized that Danny was not on the market, but tossing a ring into the equation reeked of permanence, and Molly wasn't sure she could handle that.

Barbie's eyes finally widened, albeit slightly. "You wouldn't," she said.

"Oh," said Molly, nodding emphatically, "I would. I've already killed for him. You think kicking the crap out of you is so far out of line?"

If Molly had been thinking clearly, she would have realized that she had casually and quite callously tossed out mention of what had happened with Kate in that church, but she wasn't thinking clearly, and anyway, it had the desired effect. Barbie narrowed her eyes, grabbed her slutty friend by the elbow, and walked away, but not before saying, "Bitch," under her breath.

Molly rolled her eyes. "Skank," she said. She didn't even turn to watch the homewrecker twins depart; she looked at Danny with one eyebrow raised, a look that clearly said, Explain yourself, Taylor.

But he didn't explain himself. He was leering at her, a wolfish grin on his face that she was quite unaccustomed to seeing on him. It was disgusting, really, and incredibly sexy. She felt the heat creep up the back of her neck and knew that she was in trouble.

"Would it be wrong for me to say that that totally turned me on?" he asked, rising slightly off of his stool.

She took a deep breath and tried to regain some semblance of control. Yeah, that didn't work. "You could have made more an effort to give her the message," she said, but she said it without any real malice, because she was already thinking of how she could more effectively mark him as her territory. She noticed absently that the scar on his collarbone had healed. It was about time for a new one.

His pupils had dilated so much that his eyes were obsidian. He licked his lips and Molly shivered. "I could have. But then I wouldn't have gotten to see that and… Damn, woman." He had risen completely off the stool and towered over her, looking at her like he couldn't wait to rip off all her clothes. "You're killing me here."

He reached out to touch her lightly on the arm, and she lost what little control she had. She placed her hands on the back of his neck and pulled him to her until their lips met in one of their trademark fiery kisses that sucked all the heat from the surrounding atmosphere and placed it between their lips. She was breathless when she finally pulled away and had completely forgotten that they were in public until she heard snickering. She peered around Danny and saw that Martin and Finn were trying very hard not to laugh and not succeeding. Sam smacked Martin on the arm – apparently she was in the middle of telling him off for not sending homewrecker number two packing and he had the gall to not listen to her.

Danny ran his hands up her arms to grip her shoulders, his fingers skimming the bare skin of her forearms as he did so. He leaned forward, until his lips were directly beside her ear. His breath was hot, and she shivered again. Damn that man. "Let's go home," he said, and never before had those three seemingly meaningless words sounded so damn sexy.

She was unable to utter a coherent response and allowed him to drag her out of the bar, not even bothering to acknowledge the others as they left. He attacked her the minute they were out on the sidewalk, and she had no clear recollection of actually returning to the apartment – all she remembered was kissing Danny until she thought her head might burst from lack of oxygen. Yet somehow they ended up on the bed, their legs tangled together, his face buried in the crook of her neck, and Molly knew that it really didn't matter how they had ended up there. The important thing was that they had.

When he pulled away from her throat to kiss her on the lips, she surged forward and sank her teeth into his shoulder until she tasted blood. He cried out – in pain or pleasure, Molly neither knew nor really cared – but then he gasped when she ran her tongue over the wound.

He leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. "Staking your claim?" he asked. How he was lucid enough to form complete sentences was a mystery to her, but it was something she was determined to rectify as soon as possible.

"Mine," she said, by way of a response. It came out as a growl, and she'd really meant to say more, but she couldn't be expected to concentrate when he was inside her. Seriously, it was physically impossible. She dragged her fingernails down his back, hard enough to break the skin.

He shuddered, and she felt a rush of triumph. "Yours," he said between gasps. "Most definitely yours."

She grinned, but then he moved on top of her and she lost all conscious thought.

When she came back to herself, some time later, she became aware that Danny was rolling off of her but still staying close. He didn't often do that – he hated to cuddle, he thought she didn't know that – so she took advantage of the opportunity and ran her fingers over the scratches on his back.

"Admiring your handiwork?" he asked, though his voice was already becoming groggy, and she knew she only had about five minutes of semi-intelligent conversation before he would fall asleep.

"Far more effective than a ring," she said. She cocked an eyebrow. "Wouldn't you agree?"

It seemed as though he was attempting to shrug, but by now he was so drowsy that he apparently lacked the strength to do so. "Ring wouldn't be so bad."

She froze. What did he just say? Did he just say what it sounded like he just said?

"Danny," she said, glancing at the wall. If he proposed to her then, she would probably accept, but were they ready to make that step? She loved him so much it literally hurt, and she didn't want to lose him. But it was there, in his unintelligible words – the whisper of a promise of a future. She exhaled through pursed lips and turned to face him.

He had fallen asleep.

She raised her eyebrows. Sooner than usual, she thought. Almost like he did that on purpose.

Danny woke up to find that he was alone in the bed. Of course, morning wasn't his best time of the day, so it took him a while to figure that out, but when he rolled over to where Molly should have been and discovered nothing but sheets, he caught on rather quickly. It did, however, take him a good five minutes to remember why his shoulder was throbbing and why his back stung like holy hell.

Damn that woman, he thought, as his fingers came into contact with the scratches on his back, which were beginning to scab and therefore itched like crazy. Why can't she just give me a hickey like a normal person?

Then he remembered the rest of that conversation – if "conversation" was even an accurate description of what had happened. As he recalled, he hadn't been very talkative. But he distinctly remembered saying something about how a ring wouldn't be so bad, and now he realized she'd been talking about marriage, and he had basically said they should get married.

He hoped Molly wouldn't hold that against him. He should never be held accountable for the things he said in that state of post-coital bliss, and of course Molly always lasted longer than he did, so she naturally remembered all of things he muttered as he drifted off to sleep. Of course she would remember this.

Where the hell was she, anyway?

Rather than searching for his boxers – clothing was everywhere, it was really impossible – he pulled the top sheet off the bed and wrapped it around his waist. He wouldn't have bothered except his apartment had a lot of windows and he didn't feel like giving the neighbors a show at the moment; they'd probably gotten enough of one the previous night to last them a lifetime. He and Molly were, to put it lightly, passionate.

He wandered down the hall, stumbling as his feet got caught on the hem of the sheet and found Molly sprawled on the couch on her stomach, typing furiously on her laptop. She wore one of Danny's button-downs and not much else. He loved when she wore that. If it were up to him, she would be required to wear that at all times, except for when she was at work or they were out in public or something.

"Morning, Sunshine," she said, not even looking up from her laptop. She looked exhausted, and he wondered if she had gotten any sleep at all. "So nice of you to join us."

"Bite me," he said. He couldn't be expected to come up with a witty comeback at this ungodly hour. What time was it, anyway? He squinted at the clock and saw that it wasn't even nine a.m.

She grinned maliciously and glanced at him over the top of her computer. He saw again that there were dark circles under her eyes and she looked paler than usual – which was quite a feat, because she was already pretty pale. "Already did. Or did you want another one?"

His right hand automatically went to the mark on his left shoulder; his left hand held the sheet around his waist. He chose to ignore her comment. "You're up early this morning."

She shrugged, but he knew something was up. Sundays they usually stayed in bed until about eleven. They'd take a shower together – to conserve water, of course – and then either make brunch or go somewhere and get food to bring back to the apartment. They'd watch football all day until one of them dozed off on the couch, and then they went to bed. Part of him couldn't believe that he'd fallen into such a boring routine, but another, much larger part of him liked the familiarity of it.

Plus, whenever she deviated from their routine, it was a clear indication that something was wrong. It was like a big sign with flashing neon lights saying, Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

He sat down by her feet and she rolled over and settled against the arm so that she could see him. He absentmindedly took one of her feet in his hands and began to massage it.

"Do you ever think about marriage?" she asked.

His hands stopped their ministrations. Oh, shit. How did I know we were going to have this discussion? She looked at him curiously and he resumed massaging her foot. "Marriage in general?"

She shrugged again. "Yeah." But that wasn't what she meant. What she meant to say was, No, you idiot, marriage to me. That's why I asked. But she wasn't going to say that and he certainly wasn't going to acknowledge that that's what she had intended to say, because then he could play dumb for a while longer.

"Sure," he said. "I think about it sometimes."

Ooh, liar, liar, pants on fire. You think about it more than 'sometimes'. You think about it every time you wake up in the morning and she's laying half on top of you. You think about it whenever you see her doing reports at the table in nothing but your shirt. You think about it every time she makes that cute, frustrated face when she's losing at Playstation.

In short, Taylor, you think about it a lot. So why can't you just say that? Why do you have to be such an idiot about things like this? Why can't you ever come out and say what you want to say?

Because I'm an idiot. You just said so.

Don't change the subject.

Oh, shit, she's looking at me funny. I bet I was talking to myself again.

"Danny," she said, and there was something different about her voice, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what, "I'm not saying I want to get married. I just asked if you think about it."

"You mean you don't want to get married?" he asked, and it took him several moments to realize that the way he said it sounded like he was disappointed that she didn't want to. Well, maybe he was disappointed. Because he did want to marry her. Just not, like, in the next five minutes. Or even the next five months. But eventually, yeah, he wanted to marry her, because she'd look so beautiful in a wedding dress, because he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her as the first thing he saw in the morning and the last thing he saw at night, because he wanted to have kids with her, but mostly because he was so in love with her that it sometimes felt like he was losing his mind.

"Not now," she said, sounding exasperated, and he released a breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. "I'm not suggesting we blow off our football games and go to Atlantic City instead. I just want to – "

"Make sure we're going somewhere?" Danny asked, feeling a thousand times better.

She gave him a half-smile. "I know that sounds stupid, because you did just ask me to move in, and you wouldn't have done that if you didn't think we weren't going anywhere, but Sam and I were talking last night and – "

Ah, of course. Sam – the magic word.

Danny let go of her foot and positioned himself on top of her, holding his body above hers with his arms and his knees. He kissed her lightly on the forehead and she immediately ceased her babbling. "Sam is just jealous because she and Martin are still in separate apartments."

Molly bit her lip. She had absolutely no idea how sexy she looked when she did that. "Actually, I think it's Sam more than Martin that's preventing that from happening."

He nodded, amazed that he could maintain a conversation about Sam and Martin while holding himself just inches above her half-dressed form. "Me, too, but he hasn't even asked her. She'd probably say yes if he asked her."

She dropped her head so that her forehead touched his collarbone. The skin-to-skin contact was jarring, and Danny was overwhelmed with the sudden desire to be inside of her. "I swear she just does that to torture me."

He laughed and stretched out his legs, lowering himself more fully on top of her. He forced himself to picture Jack doing a jig naked in order to calm his erection, which was already raging out of control. "Probably. Good thing it doesn't work, huh?"

She grinned sheepishly and slid along the couch so that she was completely beneath him. "Good thing."

Hell. Even a naked, jig-dancing Jack couldn't help anymore. He pressed his lips against hers, and, as usual, stars exploded behind his eyes. They kissed like that for several minutes – slow, deep, erotic kisses hat left him breathless and throbbing in his lower appendages. But then he pulled away abruptly, his mind reeling, and remembered the conversation from a week or however long ago it was that they'd never finished because he had fallen asleep. He should have learned by now not to attempt to talk afterwards, because he never lasted very long, but he was an idiot.

"Danny?" Molly asked, and she sounded almost fearful. He was pleased to see that her eyes had that glazed look in them.

"Do you think it's like this for everyone?" he asked, and before she could make some smart comment and throw off his train of thought, he continued. "I feel like I lose myself completely in you, like it's not me and you anymore, it's just us. Do you think everyone feels like that?"

Molly smiled shyly. "I think if you're lucky, you do."

He bit the inside of his cheek and fought back tears. He was so overcome with emotion that he thought his heart might burst. "I'm lucky."

That wonderful glint was back in her eyes. "Not yet," she said, "but you're about to be."

She arched her back off the sofa, bringing her hips into contact with his, and he lost himself in the sensations, and suddenly all that mattered was getting inside of her again, of melding his body with hers.

Everything else could wait.