There and Back Again

Epilogue

If anyone had asked Danny Fenton when he was a child if he would marry his best friend, he would have said no, red-faced and stuttering even as a whispered voice in the back of his mind said, "I'd like to," even as his eyes flitted to her. They'd been married for five years and he was twenty-eight again, but Danny rarely flinched as he thought her said the words anymore. The eight years with the Sam that no longer was and never would be again were a memory that he kept, and the eleven years he'd lived his life in that other time were nothing more than that.

A pleasant memory, if somewhat distant and detached as he rolled out of slumber, yawning and stretching and finding the warmth of the blue walls without expecting anything else. The blankets were strewn across the bed, a testament to the vigorous wakeup Sam had given him when she started her day at dawn—he never understood how a woman who was still proudly Goth could be such a morning person. He'd had a much earlier morning than her with a ghost pulling him unwillingly from the warmth of their bed and her body, but he'd made it back and had still been awake enough to be excruciatingly thorough in their morning lovemaking.

Saturday morning, he realized with an almost coherent thought. They had the whole weekend together and, he glanced at the clock on the nightstand, it wasn't even noon yet. Another yawn later and Danny was out of the bed with a stretch and his habitual vertebrae realignment echoing as he arched his back. Jeans were tugged from a drawer in the dresser and he ran an absent hand across the jewelry box he given her for Christmas the first year he'd been back. This one was lacquered, a lovely redwood color that didn't really resemble the one from another life so much. It had been a conscious choice, even going so far as to keep it quiet and for nothing but decoration.

The late morning sun glinted off of the silvery ring on his left hand, his only other true concession to separating what was here and now, and what was there and then. He hadn't really given her much of a choice when he'd proposed, he'd picked her ring out by himself and she'd gone along with it to let everything match. The bands were still plain and simple, white gold instead of yellow, but he'd given her a brilliant emerald cut diamond instead of a solitaire. She understood; she always understood.

Even now he still smiled to see it on his hand. He expected that sixty years from now he'd still be smiling.

He brushed his teeth quickly, wincing at the strong peppermint flavor of Sam's current toothpaste and feeling the need to scrub his tongue against the almost painful tingling it left. His hair—it was a lost cause. He needed a trim, and he should probably shave, but he didn't want to waste time with that when he'd much rather just find his wife and kiss her senseless. And then maybe he could coax her back into bed, or give into her demands to watch a movie, go to the park, visit Tucker and Valerie. Anything would do so long as he was with her.

The radio was playing softly as he made his way quietly down the hallway, and Sam was singing along with it. She'd never admit it to anyone else, but sometimes, especially when she was cleaning or putting things away, she liked listening to the popular music that played on most of the local stations. She said it put her in a good mood, gave her more energy. Of course, then she said it also made her want to tear her hair out so she always finished whatever she was doing quickly in order to turn it off. He only kissed her at her semi-confession.

She was there, putting away groceries. It could have been a painful reminder if Danny hadn't already come across her doing the very same thing every weekend of every year since they'd lived together. This morning she was in a pale green shirt that clung to her body like a second skin, and a skirt in shades of green and black and (not very much) pink. Her feet were bare, sandals kicked off and in a corner of the kitchen as she stretched up to shove a bottle of olive oil into the cabinet, and then blow her hair out of her face as she cursed her height.

He smiled and slipped up behind her, quiet as death, and wrapped his arms around her as he pressed kissed along Sam's neck, her hair tickling his nose as he did. She started, then gave a laughing squeal as she realized he'd done it on purpose, and she slapped one of his arms as she wiggled away, knowing that her hips were far more enticing than she meant them to be but unable to help it as she rolled her eyes.

"Very mature, Danny," she said, a smile taking the sarcasm down a notch. "I got you a milkshake, so stay out of mine."

The moment her back was turned and she was shoving something else into a cabinet he grabbed the cup with the purple lip gloss painted straw and began drinking it, the strawberry sweet and cold. "You were out late this morning," he said as he wiggled the straw.

She shrugged as she straightened and turned, her hand outstretched and demanding her milkshake back. "I had to stop before I went shopping. Had an appointment."

"Where at?" he asked, not really concerned as he found the second milkshake among the bags still on the counter and took an absent swig of it before he began folding the paper bags that were already empty.

"The doctor's," was the only answer he got, and he glanced up with her.

He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. He wasn't surprised that she had, she'd been feeling sick a few weeks ago. Danny had blamed her tofu since he claimed it made him sick every time she made him eat it. She'd agreed when after a few days her stomach had settled and she'd been fine. But the lingering tiredness had stayed a little longer until even Danny was asking her if she felt alright whenever she sat down to rest and fell asleep, all unmeaning.

"So, virus? Food poisoning?" he asked, another bag folded and stacked with the rest. "I told you to stay away from the tofu after that bad batch."

She laughed, and he couldn't help but smile at the sound. She turned and caught his smile, returning it with a wide one of her own. "I'm fine, Danny," she said, her eyes sparkling. "I'm not sick. Just pregnant."

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Well, this is the end for me. I posted the last two at the same time to make everyone happy enough not to kill me when I tell them I've nothing new at all to post. I make no promises, since work and the new site are taking lots of time, but I'll try to finish up Challenge Theories soon, and then move along with other things. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful reviews (I'm answering most of the backlog since December, but not all...) and I hope to see you again soon when I have new evils to post.

CD