"Rhapsody"
by Lint

Note: A different version of when Danny and Evelyn first date. Imagine that he asked her out when he returned her hankerchief, and she said okay. :shrugs: That's just the idea I came up with.

***

All eyes stared at Danny as he walked up to the hangar where all his buddies were working on one of the picked apart frames of a P-40. Wrenches clattered to the ground as Red and Billy looked up to him. He was dressed in a cream colored spread collared dress shirt, loose tan tie, pressed black slacks and spit shined executive shoes. His hair was slicked back and he carried a bundle of flowers in his hand.

"Well, well," Billy said as he approached. "When did you turn into such a good-looking son of a bitch?"

The guys chuckled as Red walked up to him.

"Am I seeing things?" He said looking Danny over. "Nice clothes, clean shaven, hair styled, flowers... I could swear you had a date."

"Yeah, yeah," Danny said pushing him back. "Get your yuks in. Anybody else? Anthony? Gooz?"

"I think they got it," Gooz replied.

"Well who's the girl that pulled the mole from his hole?" Anthony asked. "We haven't been able to get you to do anything for how long? And poof? One gal just comes and snaps you out of it?"

"Jesus Anthony, I'm glad it was girl," Earl threw in. "We've been worried about our pal Danny for awhile haven't we boys?"

"A lot actually," Red agreed.

"Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. Let me get this straight," Danny said. "You all have been thinking about me that much and you're worried about my orientation?"

He let a smug smile curl on his lips when no one had a response.

"Thought so."

"Smart-ass," Earl muttered.

"You never answered me," Anthony said.

"Answered what?"

"The girl," he repeated. "Who's the lucky girl?"

"Oh..."

"It is a girl right?"

"Yes it's a girl," Danny said. "It's...uh, it's Evelyn."

Shock, confusion, and acceptance seemed to play on the faces of all his friends at once. He looked to Red who merely nodded. He understood.

"When the hell did this happen?" Anthony asked.

"Last night," Danny said. "Look guys..."

"You don't have to explain anything to us," Red assured. "It's not our place to judge you on this."

"I know. But I just wanted too..."

"But nothing," Red insisted. "If she feels its time to move on, then I say go for it. Both of you."

Danny placed his hand on Red's shoulder. "Thanks."

"Anytime," Red replied. "So, where are you going?"

"I thought I'd take her to the Underground Club," Danny said.

"Classy," Anthony shot in. "Chasing after your best friend's skirt in high style."

"Hey, shut yer trap Brooklyn boy," Earl piped up.

Danny stared at Anthony for a minute, thinking not for the first time that maybe pursuing something with Evelyn might be wrong. Still, he couldn't help himself. There was just something about her that made him want to no matter what the consequences.

"So why are you working on this heap?" Danny asked after a few minutes of silence, pointing at the P-40.

"Need to pick it clean for parts," Earl said. "We got two more planes with busted valves over there."

"And why are you guys helping?"

"Because we're nice guys?" Billy said as more of a question than a statement.

"Because I told you to, that's why," Earl bellowed.

Danny glanced to Earl, a grin on his face. "Smooth."

The sound of heels clicking along the pavement caused all the men's heads to turn. Eyes squinted against the shadows of the night. And suddenly there she was. Dark brown hair perfectly curled in a forward roll, face powdered and lips red. The red silk dress looked custom made for her. Danny looked on awestruck.

"This is our cue to leave," Red said patting Danny on the shoulder. "Have a good time Danny. You deserve it. Come on guys," he said to the others. "Let's go."

"Go get'em," Billy said walking past.

Gooz just smiled at him.

Anthony stared at him, then at Evelyn. "What I wouldn't give to be in your shoes," he said, dodging the swat Danny aimed at his head. "Change your mind that quick?" He taunted.

He watched his friends walk off, each one of them shooting looks over their shoulders. They seemed to be okay with it. He was glad. His eyes turned back to Evelyn and the awe returned instantly.

"Hi," she said taking a moment to look him over and grinning in approval. "You look good."

"Th-thanks," he stuttered. "You look...I mean you look very...Wow."

"Is there a compliment somewhere in there?" She asked.

"You look beautiful," he said pushing the flowers toward her. "These are for you."

She took the flowers from him and brought them to her nose, inhaling lightly. "They're lovely," she said. "Thank you."

They stood face to face, not knowing what to say next, but still enjoying each other's company.

"Shall we go?" He asked.

"We shall," she replied. "Unless your idea of dancing with me was on a runway next to a gutted out airplane."

"I'm not *that* stupid," He said gesturing for them to walk. "Lead the way soldier," she said looping her arm in his.

***

Danny pulled the borrowed Cadillac up to the curb a few feet from the door of 'The Underground Club.' He got out and rounded the hood, rushing to Evelyn's side to get the door for her. He took her hand as he helped her out of the car and held onto it as they walked toward the club. He felt like a schoolboy sneaking glances at her then looking away when she caught him. She must have thought it was cute because she'd playfully nudge him each time.

He slipped the doorman a five for a decent table and they were escorted to a booth just to the left of the stage. The atmosphere was mellow, and everyone around seemed relaxed in that easy going Hawaiian way. The band on stage flowed through "I Hear Rhapsody" as smooth as Tennessee whiskey. Danny's eyes darted between the couples already on the dance floor, and Evelyn whom was also watching them. A waiter came by and took their drink orders. A white wine spritzer for the lady and a Manhattan for the gentlemen. They sat comfortably next to each other, not to close, not too far. The position of two people in the beginning of something.

They talked about growing up in small towns. Evelyn coming from somewhere in the mid-west and Danny about his childhood in Tennessee. Evelyn escaped her one-horse existence by joining the Army. She wanted to see the world. If she'd stayed she knew that would have never happened. She'd been a nurse for a few years. She loved her job. She loved being able to help people. Danny spoke again of he and Rafe always wanting to be pilots. He told her more about the time he and Rafe both took turns jumping of the roof with wings they'd fashioned out of sticks and an old bed sheet. She laughed when he'd said Rafe's mother nearly rung their necks after Rafe had gotten another broken leg and he a broken arm. They were surprised that they felt no awkwardness talking about Rafe. He'd been such a big part of both their lives, and consciously they knew it should be no problem speaking of him. It was a different matter when they did speak of him and it was actually okay.

They sat there watching more couples dance; their hands clasped together under the table. It took Danny a few tries to actually work up the courage to grasp her hand. Hesitantly reaching for it and drawing back several times. She smiled at him when he finally took it in his. Danny brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it softly, his eyes drifting up to meet hers. His heart pounded at the way she was looking at him. At *him* and no one else but *him.* It was then that he could truly believe the possibility of her loving him. It was then that he realized that he was indeed falling in love with her.

The band started into "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time." Danny could feel his palms begin to sweat and he knew that now was the time to dance. He rose from his seat, never letting go of her hand, and bowed before her.

"May I have this dance?" He asked.

"Indeed you may," she said lifting herself from the booth.

He wrapped his arm around her waist as he led her to the dance floor, her head resting on his shoulder as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He spun her into his embrace once they'd reached the polished wood floor. His arm stayed around her waist as his other hand grasped hers. He stepped forward slowly, getting a feel for her against him like this. A slight backward step, a slow turn to the left. The music flowed over them, wrapping them in a sort of melodic warmth. Her head rest against his chest and he couldn't resist kissing the top of her head. They swayed together, the music overtaking them and making the rest of the world disappear. She could here his heart pounding. She smiled knowing it was beating so fast because of her.

"I can hear my heart beating in my ears," he said softly, spinning them slowly around the floor.
"I can too," she replied.

Her head lifted from his chest and her eyes searched his. The soft brown orbs focused on her and only her. She could see his admiration for her in them. His absolute thrill of being with her. His growing, dare she think it, love. Her fingers ran up the front of his shirt, slowly wrapping themselves around his tie. She pulled him to her slowly, wetting her lips as he inched closer. His hand ran up her back and as their lips touched gently for the first time, each was surprised by how freeing it felt. Freeing in the way that in that moment the chance that they *could* move on to something more, was being replaced with the fact that they *would* move on. The music flowed, the passion grew. And neither one of them dared try to stop it.