Title: Made with Love

Fandom: 24

Characters: Michelle Dessler/Tony Almeida

Word Count: 813

Rating: PG

Summary: Made with love, and that's what matters.

Author's Notes: Takes place after season 2. No actual spoilers.

Crap. She was late. He was probably waiting for her, and she was late. She'd promised him dinner, home cooked and made with love when she couldn't even boil water. What was she thinking? She'd ruined her first two attempts within minutes of putting them on the stove. After that, the only food left in the apartment was a box of cheerios left over from her niece and nephew's stay. She'd also realized that the brilliant idea of zipping over to his favorite Italian restaurant and getting back with plenty of time to get ready was a pipe dream, because traffic was, as always, horrible. It took her twice as long to get there and back as it should have, and she just knew that Tony was going to ruin her ideas of subterfuge.

Sure enough, Tony's car was parked next to her usual space, and the man himself was leaning lazily against the railing by her 2nd story apartment door. When he spotted her, he smiled and waved.

Parking the car, she despondently reached over and lifted the bag of take out off the floor. With him watching her, she knew she couldn't do her usual pep talk, where she reminded herself that it would be okay and Tony wasn't going to care if she wasn't good at whatever it was that day. Instead she had to leave her car and climb up the stairs to meet him.

When Tony smiled even wider, so sincerely, she felt even worse for ruining the dinner she'd promised him.

"Hey," he called, meeting her at the stop of the stairs and bending to kiss her gently. Distracted by her own failure, she only reciprocated half-heartedly, which clued him in instantly that something was up.

"What's wrong?"

She shrugged; trying to play everything off like it was no big deal. "I had to run out to get some stuff, so I'm not ready."

"It's okay. I'm early, and you look great anyway. You know I wasn't expecting dinner to be on the table. You did have work, after all," he assured nonchalantly, expecting her to feign offense for his feigned chauvinism.

When she didn't, he frowned and lifted her chin. His thumb made a gentle circle on her cheek. "What is it, Michelle?"

Blinking back irrational tears, and fighting the desire to mutter under her breath at her irrational behavior, she only made it about twenty seconds before spilling.

"I ruined dinner, Tony. Twice."

She could tell her was fighting back a chuckle when he said, "So that would be why I smell Vinnie's."

She colored, raising the bag for his inspection. With a small smile not intended to upset her more, he took her keys from her fingers and opened her front door. Once they were both inside, he reached for the take out bag and set it aside.


"Shh, come here."

She was fairly certain he would have pulled her into the same tight embrace even if she hadn't gone willingly. As it was, she sank into his arms like they were her last sanctuary. After a second, she felt his lips press against her hair.

"Thank you for dinner."

She laughed roughly. "You should thank Vinnie. I incinerated everything I made."

He shook his head. "No one else apart from my mom has even tried to make dinner for me. So, you still deserve thanks, Michelle, even if you did burn it."

"Twice," she added, feeling slightly less miserable.

"Twice," he agreed, squeezing her and waiting for an answering squeeze of affection. "Just do me a favor?"


"Dish it out onto some plates with that love you promised and I'll be okay."

Her heart jumped into her throat, and she nodded. "That I can do."

Tony's knees bent, and he met her eyes. He made her feel weak without even trying, and she shivered when his mouth brushed hers. She hoped that, on some level, he could say he felt the same.

"Michelle, I love you. Don't ever think otherwise, okay?"

And to top it off, the man was a mind reader, too.

"I-I won't – I don't!" she insisted, holding his neck and kissing him slowly.

"I love you, too, Tony."

They both knew he'd never had even the slightest reason to doubt that, but he grinned anyway.

"Get the wine while I get our gourmet meal finished?"

"I guess I can do that." He nuzzled her neck, brushing his nose against the spot that he knew drove her crazy. "Or we could work up an appetite and heat it up in the microwave later."

"I like the way you think."

"You'll like the way I do other things, too," he promised, bending to scoop her up over his shoulder.

"Tony!" she squealed, but let him haul her into her bedroom cave-man style. She really had no doubt about that either.