Eighteen months later…

"You better be sure, because I sure as hell am not moving again!" Janice yelled warningly up to Cole as she brought in yet another bundle of clothes that needed to be hung up.  There was a truck full of boxes and the like, and still more furniture they needed to decide as to what they were doing with it.  Right now, she was unloading her car and he was getting it up and down the stairs.  Moving was much easier when you had someone like Cole helping you.

Cole trotted down the stairs, and grimaced seeing the clothes she had on hangers.  There was a ton of stuff already, and more in the drawers.  Then there were shoes.  Okay, he wouldn't complain about the shoes, but there was only so much closet space.  Then he thought about being able to come home at night to her, and the rest didn't seem quite so bad.  He'd already made the room for her entertainment equipment, and it wasn't like he needed all that much closet space anyways.

"I'm serious," Janice continued when he came into the kitchen.  "This doesn't work, and you're the one moving out."  She paused to wipe some sweat off of her forehead.  Only idiots chose to move during the hottest part of the year.  This must be proof that love turns intelligent people into fools.  In any case, after all the moving around she had done over the last two years, he was the one that was going to leave.  But then he smiled at her, and she wasn't worried about that anymore.

"For some reason, I am not worried about being kicked out of my place," Cole replied, taking the clothes from her.  He leaned over and kissed her sweetly.  The last year and a half had been incredible, and it seemed only natural that they moved in together.  They were practically living together anyways; she already had clothes and toiletries over here and he had as much at her place, but now neither of them would have to worry about having to get up early to go home and get dressed for work or things like that.  There had been some fights along the way, God knows both of them could set off the other's temper, but making up was always quite sweet, and neither of them held a grudge for long.

A feminine throat clearing from the back door caught their attention.  Cyra was standing there with a box from the car, wearing an amused / disgusted look.  "Well, it's not as bad as other times, I suppose," she commented, wrinkling her nose.  "Please try to contain yourselves while I'm around."  Then she smiled, and the two adults laughed, Cole harder than Janice.  Janice knew exactly what her niece meant, and it was still embarrassing.

Janice's birthday was February 19th, and that year it happened to fall on a Saturday.  Cole had spent Friday night with her and they were planning on celebrating her birthday that day before she had to make her duty-visit to whatever her mother was planning.  They were snuggled in bed very early in the morning, talking for the longest time, and then things started to get just a bit more intimate.  Actually, they were both quite caught up in each other to the point where neither heard the front door opening.

Janice's bedroom door had burst open, a couple of cameras flashing as her mother and sister thought it would be funny to wake Janice like that.  Her two younger nieces, Zada and Nilac were holding a cake that said "Happy Birthday Janice" on it.  Cyra was quick enough to clap her hands over their eyes as Janice and Cole scrambled to cover themselves decently.  The family was shocked.  They new there were someone Janice had been seeing, but she had made it seem casual.  Janice didn't sleep with someone that was still casual.  That was more Christy's field.  Cyra knew better, but she hadn't thought her aunt would have him there that morning.  Needless to say, it was one of those experiences that most people pray never happen.  Cole found it much more funny, but in his family, not only was it not upsetting to walk in on someone in the act, but carrying on a conversation, as long as the topic was important, was perfectly okay as long as they made it quick.

Cole had never really had the experience of being "introduced to the family" before, but he was sure this was not the usual way of going about things.  It was rather amusing to him, but his family would have handled the situation differently.  Hers didn't really bring it up again, but Cyra had no problem teasing them about it.  Of course she was the only one that lacked an annoying personality, so maybe that was why Cole didn't mind her.  Cyra didn't flirt with him and make subtle suggestions like her mother did, and wasn't nearly as bothersome and prying as her sisters and grandmother.

"Mom is so pissed that you didn't ask her to help," Cyra added, carrying the box into the house.

Janice shrugged.  "We all know she didn't want to help move."  She shot a sideways glance at Cole.  "She had other things on her mind."  Christy was proud to be a man-stealer.  Her first two husbands were married to other women when she met them.  She had gotten quite frustrated that Cole wasn't responding to her "innocent" flirtations, and that was probably the only thing keeping Janice from introducing her big sister to Nightshade.

Cyra took the box upstairs.  She was glad for her aunt's organizational skills and each box was labeled where it was to go.  Her family had moved around a lot, and it was always an excuse for her sisters to steal some of her stuff because the box ended up in the wrong room.

From outside, Janice and Cole heard a jubilant voice.  "The cavalry has arrived!" Daniel announced as he bounded through the door, Xander close behind.  Daniel had surprised them this morning by calling and saying he was waiting to be picked up from the airport so he could help them move.  His classes had recently ended and he had done some clean-up work, and decided to help out before going home to Seattle for the summer.

"Just in time," Cole said with a smirk, and pointed to the truck that was stuffed.  Both Xander and Daniel's faces fell.  It was amazing how much stuff could be fit into an apartment, and it not look overcrowded.

"By the way," Janice said in a low voice, "my niece is here, so all play nice please."  They understood what that meant.  Janice had absolutely no plans on introducing her family to the more colorful aspects of Cole's life.  Seeing any of the guys doing things that people just couldn't do was not keeping it low-key.  Since they agreed with her discretion, no enhanced abilities were to be obviously used.

"Aunt Jan!" Cyra called out just then, coming down the steps, "did you keep out your…" her words trailed off as she hit the base of the stairs and noticed the two new arrivals.  She knew that Cole had a stepbrother, Xander, but she hadn't met the younger one before.  Six foot.  Broad shoulders, nice build to go with it.  Dark blonde hair.  Crystal blue eyes.  Damn, the boy was fine looking.

Daniel's eyes bounced from Janice to Cyra.  He had only met Janice a couple of times really, but had he known there was a girl looking like that hanging around, he might have been down more often.  She had long dark hair that just begged to have hands plunged into it and a face and body that should be on a magazine cover.  She wasn't tall enough to be a model, maybe 5'4", but everything else in that compact, curvy little package just worked, and worked quite well at that.

"Cyra, this is my nephew Daniel Raleigh," Cole introduced.  "Daniel, Cyra Melikertes, Janice's niece."

Daniel gave her a rather charming smile.  There was something familiar about her.  "I know you from somewhere," he said.  "I just can't place it."

"Cyra is also going to NYU," Janice said.

"Ah, I must have seen you around campus then," Daniel said.  "I knew you looked familiar."

"You know," she said, "I thought I recognized you.  Did you go to the Kappa Delta party a couple of months ago?"  Most people would have been fooled by her sweet smile.  Janice knew her niece was about to pounce and let Daniel know what slime he was for going to that party.  She had heard about it for two hours from Cyra, how she was expected to get naked with the two other girls in the basement and mud wrestle for the guys.  It was supposedly a mark of honor to be picked or some crap like that.  Cyra had ended up kneeing one of the frat brothers where he wouldn't forget it, and stormed out calling every guy there a whole litany of names.

"You might have seen me hauling Connors out of the back," Daniel replied.  "I don't like KD's parties at all, but I was there for like ten minutes because I was the only one that could get him to put down his Jack Daniels and go to a hospital."  He gave her an odd look.  "You were there?"  He knew his opinions of girls that stayed late at that party.

She gave him a little smirk.  "Long enough to know why I won't go back.  Besides, I don't think Steven is going to ever let me come back."

Daniel burst into laughter.  "You're the one that nailed him?"  She nodded, and he glanced over at his uncle who was looking rather confused.  "He's this big football player sized guy, and he was doubled over, moaning and puking in the bushes when someone found him."

Janice started laughing.  "I guess being around all of your mother's degenerate men actually had a good effect."

Cyra shook her head.  "Takes a lot more than a drunken college boy to intimidate me now."  She looked back at her aunt.  "Anyways, did you leave out that stuff you were holding for me, or is it packed?"

"It's in my trunk," Janice replied, and the two women headed out to the car.  Xander followed to get a look at the truck.  He had places to be that night, and had no plans on being stuck there till all hours.

Daniel and Cole stood side by side as they easily watched the women from the window.  Daniel leaned over to Cole, and very quietly asked, "Can you read a thing from Cyra?"

"Not a single thought," Cole replied, not taking his eyes off of Janice.  "She gets it honestly though."

"How do you deal with a woman like that?" Daniel asked hesitantly.  It was rare he'd run across such a person.  Rather fascinating experience.

"You believe in God?"

"Of course."

Cole clapped his hand on his nephew's back, and looked at him directly.  "Then I suggest taking up praying.  Pray long.  Pray hard.  She's more like her aunt then her mother.  Trust me, you're going to need some divine guidance."  With that they both headed out to join Xander in unloading the truck.

Unloading didn't take terribly long at all.  Janice got Cyra to go upstairs and help sort, and while she was out of sight, the guys could move a lot more a lot faster.  Some furniture and the like were going to end up in storage, and other things were going to replace some of Cole's stuff.  Xander was glad he wasn't going to have to be involved with the logistics on who keeps what.  Janice had better taste and style, and Cole didn't like his surroundings to change.  Oh well, as long as he didn't have to patch up bullet holes, Xander wasn't going to try to interject an opinion.  He would just stay in his place, and laugh and point on a regular basis.

They were done with the unloading by late afternoon, and sat down to take a break for a while.  The rest Janice and Cole were going to have to do to figure out where everything was supposed to go.  Janice had already scoped out where her music equipment was going to go, and as they sat there, most of her mind was occupied with how she was going to arrange the equipment properly.  She's figure out where other stuff was going later.  Certain things took top priority.

Cole took her hand, bringing her attention back to him.  "We need to return the truck soon," he reminded her.

Janice looked stricken for a moment.  "I have equipment to take care of," she protested.

"You do have a couple of other capable drivers," Daniel said quickly, seeing his uncle gearing up for an argument.  He knew when Cole was really frustrated when Xander was having a hard time not laughing at his brother.

"My car is here," Cyra added, looking at Daniel.  They had been rather subtly flirting back and forth all morning and afternoon, and this seemed as opportune a time as any to see what was going to happen.  "If you drive, then I can bring you back here."

"Sounds like a plan," Daniel said quickly, ignoring Cole's glare.  He jumped up from the table.  "Ready?" he asked Cyra.  She smiled and got up as well.  The keys were on the counter and Daniel snatched them before Cole could say anything else.

The twosome wandered outside, and Cyra decided to use her favorite man test.  "You know, I won't sleep with a man I'm not married to," she said conversationally.  If they were worth the time, the man would make a joke.  An arrogant jerk would make a comment about her changing her mind after being with him.  The majority had a different reaction.  Daniel wasn't expecting that line, but he could deal with it.  Most men might have freaked and ran, but with his background, the strange and unusual were rather commonplace.

"And to think I was going to suggest going to this little pizza place down the street," he said with a happy little smile.  His blue eyes sparkled as they gazed on her.  "What the hell, we'll go there anyways.  A girl like you deserves a wedding reception."

Cyra bit back a laugh.  "But my favorite activity for a first date is picking out names for our children."

"You pick the names for the kids, I get the pizza toppings," he countered, amused with her.  She started giggling finally, and he thought she might be amused with him as well.  He couldn't read a single thing going on in her head, but that was actually making this kind of fun.

"Listen," he said, stopping, and facing her.  "I'm going back to Seattle tomorrow to be with the family and all that, but I'd love to take you out tonight.  And if we like where it goes from there, maybe I can call you every now and then, and maybe we'll run into each other on-line."

Cyra smiled for real, and Daniel thought he was going to just start staring and drooling or something.  It was like watching an angel smile.  "I like maybe," she said softly, and then broke off to go to her car.  She stopped as she got to the door and called out to him.  "What if I like anchovies on my pizza?"

Daniel was halfway in the truck, and leaned out the door slightly to see her.  Dear God, she wasn't kidding.  "Then our first daughter is going to be named Tanya!" he called back.  He had seen a movie a couple of years ago and the heroine was named Tanya.  It was a dumb movie, but the actress did a great job considering the lousy writing, and no when he thought of a strong female, it was attached to Tanya.  Dumb maybe, but he still liked it.  Cyra's laugher followed him as he climbed all the way in.  Uncle Cole had suggested requesting divine guidance.  Daniel realized the sooner, the better.

The adults in the house watched the kids, two of them able to actually hear what was being said.  "Twenty says he comes back early from break," Cole said quickly.  He grimaced slightly as Janice punched his shoulder.

"I know you did not just make a bet on my niece!" she declared at both of them.

"Of course not," Xander replied.  "We made a bet on OUR nephew."

She glared at him.  "If I see Cyra's name in Cray's book, you both are going to regret it," she warned.  Janice didn't notice Cole wink at his brother.  What else were code words for?

Luckily, Cole's pager went off, and that broke the tension.  He went to get the phone to call back whoever it was.  Janice got up as well and gave Xander a hard look.  "And if I hear one word about a pool for when and if they sleep together, I swear there's going to be a naked picture of you as everyone's computer wallpaper."  He gave her a charming smile, and she cracked a tiny grin before going upstairs.

Cole checked the number on his pager and muttered a few obscenities.  Work had gone much easier since Wellington had been replaced, but the new guy, General McAllister, had also been briefed about Cole.  Wellington had given him all of the gory details with relish.  Instead of being frightened, McAllister had accepted what he had been given, and done his best to make use of Cole's talents.  He knew there were things Cole was doing for his superiors, but instead of being threatened by it, used it to show what a brilliant leader he was by "helping such an important officer do his duty to country".  It sounded like it should be crap, but it was getting him a second star.

"Jan?" he called out, going upstairs into the living room.  She was sitting in a tangle of wires, hooking up her stereo.  That should keep her busy for a while.  She looked up, expectantly.  "I have to go into work for a bit," he explained apologetically.

Janice grinned.  "This is why it's good to be dating the boss's brother."  He looked so upset to be leaving when he had sworn he had the day off.  "Don't worry!  I'll get this done and call it a night."  She gave him a sensual smile.  "And then we'll figure out what to do after you get home."

Cole returned the smile, appreciating the thought before he ran downstairs and grabbed Xander.  "Under no circumstances is she to go digging in the bathroom closet," he ordered his brother.

Xander raised an eyebrow at him.  "Hid all your old porno in there, huh?"

Cole let out a little growl of frustration.  "Just keep her out until I get back, okay?"

Xander had long since given up on Cole.  He thought he was frustrating before?  This Cole in love thing was flat out nerve wracking in a funny sort of way.  Everyone was betting on when Janice was going to shoot him.  Any woman that could put up with him and not make an attempt on his life had to be a keeper.  Cole just wouldn't let it go.  He wanted her to move in with him.  Guy was nearly wetting himself the day he brought it up to Janice.  Her lease was coming up, and he had rehearsed it a thousand times to ask her if she would rather move in here than renew the lease.  Xander had even been interrupted at a rather critical moment with a certain lady for Cole to ask if he thought maybe the wording should be changed.  Bad enough to be interrupted.  Worse for her to be the one to answer, and give assistance before going back to what she had been doing oh so well.

Xander finished his beer and flipped through his new car magazine before dutifully tromping upstairs.  Janice was finishing up attaching all the wires to the equipment and storing it on the proper racks.  She didn't know why Cole thought it was going to take her a while to do all this.  She was used to working with more complex equipment than this.

"Need any help with anything?" he asked.

She shook her head.  "Not really unless you're in the mood to pick up some mint chocolate chip ice cream."  Xander was pleased at that response.  Ice cream he could do.  And if she were eating it, she wouldn't be in the bathroom. 

"Oh," he said smoothly, as if just remembering something, "Cole told me earlier that the bathroom up here is messed up, so if you need it, use the downstairs."  And people wondered why he was climbing the CIA chain of command so smoothly.

He went to go back downstairs, and then remembered something.  She hadn't told him a brand.  He wasn't in the mood to get nagged into going back into the store and getting the right kind.  He went back up the stairs, but the living room was empty.  There was a heavy feeling in his stomach, and he just knew where she was.  For some reason, agents like her had an instinctive ability to be exactly where others didn't want them to be.  It was what made them so great.

He went to the bathroom.  The door was half-open.  Of course.  He opened the door to see her kneeling in front of the cabinet under the sink.  It wasn't the linen closet.  Cole couldn't be pissed then.  Xander went to say something, but the blue box on the sink defeated him before he could say a thing.  It was no man's land in there now.

"Problem?" Janice asked.  He didn't exactly respond, just looked down and made some odd noises.  Janice blinked at him, and then realized what he was staring at.  She sighed.  Well, he was just going to have to get used to having a woman around.

"They are called tampons," she said like she was explaining something to a child.  "Women require them on a regular basis."

"I know," he muttered, still averting his eyes.  God, this was so not what he wanted to be thinking about.  This was "WOMAN STUFF".

Janice rolled her eyes in frustration, and pulled one out of the box.  Xander winced when he heard the paper rip.  "See," Janice said, holding it up.  "Do you want a demo on how it works?"  Xander paled.  "Will you just get me my ice cream?" she asked in disgust, and then on afterthought flicked it at him.

Xander used every bit of his inborn speed and coordination to miss having that bit of cardboard and cotton from touching any part of his body.  He fled down the stairs as quickly as he could move.  Manticore had taught him to never run from an enemy or a mission, but Manticore had also not taught them about other parts of life either.  There were some things that even a super-solider didn't want to mess with.

Janice snickered at Xander's reaction.  Men.  They were so funny.  It was a totally natural biological function, and it terrified them.  She stood and opened the box sitting on the toilet.  It had her favorite big fluffy towels in there, and she wasn't giving those up for anything.  She opened the closet, and started moving his towels around, wrinkling her nose.  Men!  They had no idea that there were different bath towels for different purposes.  There were the grubby ones, and the guest ones, and then the cuddly ones.  She shoved a pile out of the way to make room for hers, and noticed the box in the back.

It was black velvet and rather small.  Not something that she would expect to see in Cole's bathroom.  Or anywhere in Cole's place for that matter.  She should leave it.  It was way in the back, and might be something he shoved back there and didn't want to think about.  Well, she wasn't CIA for nothing.  They had long been seen as incurably nosy, especially when they shouldn't be concerned about the matter at hand.  She reached back and pulled it out.  It wasn't dusty like most of the other stuff back there.  He had recently put it there.  She flicked the lid open, her eyes widening, and breath ceasing in her throat as she looked at its contents. 

The ring was nothing short of exquisite.  The center diamond was heart shaped on a platinum band with two baguette diamonds on either side, the band twisting gracefully around the center stone where two rubies were set at the end of the baguettes.  The gold beneath the baguettes was slightly wider than the rest of the ring, and she flipped it over to read the small inscription.  "My dawn, forever".  She slipped it out of the box, admiring the way the stones caught the light.  It was beautiful.  And he had been hiding it from her.  She was just going to have to come up with a way to thank him for that one. 

When Cole came back home almost two hours later, he breathed a sigh of relief.  Janice was in the kitchen, munching on a bowl of ice cream.  Xander had found a way to keep her occupied.  Thank God.  She couldn't have had time to explore if she had been hooking up all that equipment and then eating.  Mint chocolate chip.  Nothing distracted her from mint chocolate chip.

The exact moment she lifted her hand to take another bite was when Xander walked into the room.  He was getting ready to go out, his dark hair wet and slicked back, tie wrapped around his neck, wrist cuffs still unbuttoned.  For a moment, time seemed to freeze as Cole put together two very simple facts.  Xander had obviously just gotten out of the shower and dressed.  And there was no mistaking the ring Janice had on the third finger of her left hand.  After all, he had spent hours at many jewelry stores, and had one clerk on the verge of tears before he had made the decision

Maybe there was a better way to react, but he was just as much a member of the Manticore family as the rest of them.  The kitchen knife was in his hand, and he cleared the table in a single jump.  Xander's reflexes kept him from getting seriously injured in the initial attack.  From that point, it was a total free for all.  Janice had to quickly lift her bowl out of the way as the two bodies skidded across the table, Xander on top, trying to get the knife away from his brother.

Cole used his extra height to get some leverage on Xander and flipped him over his head, but Xander was faster and a little stronger.  His foot hooked behind Cole, who was trying to stand, and put him back on the ground again.  Xander had no idea what the hell was the matter, but it had been forever since Cole deigned to get into an all-out brawl like this.  Xander, Cray and Lon had gone out and gotten into a couple of bar fights just for the fun of it, but since Cray was in California now, it just wasn't the same.  Cole wouldn't join them.  Xander didn't know what got into Cole, but he was going to have to figure it out and do it again.

Janice was bemused watching them scrap in the kitchen.  She thought about tossing her ice cram on them to calm them down, but that would just be a waste of extremely good mint chocolate chip.  That would be purely sinful.  She calmly got up and put the bowl into the freezer.  Then she went to the sink and grabbed the spray hose.  They were still on the floor, but the knife was now embedded in the linoleum.  They were still busily engaged in the act of killing each other though.  It was almost too cute to try and stop them.

But there was no way she was going to be able to talk to Cole if he ended up with his jaw wired shut or something.  She turned the water full blast on cold and squeezed the trigger, hosing them both in a spray of icy water.  Cole had been on top of Xander, and jerked back, shocked at the suddenly onslaught of water.  Xander took the advantage and shoved him off, only to also get doused in the spray.

She shut off the water and smirked at them both.  "Is this the way it's going to be after we get married as well?"

Xander blinked, and then noticed the ring on her hand for the first time.  He had a sneaking suspicion it had been in the bathroom.  He further concluded that seeing Cole stupefied was one of the most beautiful moments in his life.  As much as he didn't want to, after all this would provide him with teasing ammunition for possibly several years to come, he probably should leave them alone.  Shawna was thrilled that Cole was so happy with someone, and if she knew Xander had messed up a nauseatingly sensitive moment, she would pull a hell of a lot more than a knife on him.

"You two have fun," he muttered, making a graceful exit.  Nobody had bet on this happening.  Xander sighed.  Sometimes it sucked to be roommates with the unpredictable one.  And now he had two of them.  Oh well.  Made life fun.  In the meantime, he had better get cleaned up and out of there.  Some people in the family might not respect private moments, but he certainly did.  Well, not when there was money to be made off of it, but that was a whole different consideration.

In the kitchen, Cole was still flat on his butt, staring at Janice, barely noticing his brother's hasty exit.  He was normally very intelligent and very quick, but this was taking a moment to process.






There was no mistaking the ring as anything but what it was.  No way anyone could say a ring like that said he was just happy that she was shacking up with him and that was all.  She was wearing it.  She had said, "After we're married".  She was wearing the ring.  His eyes met hers, and a brilliant smile slowly lit his features.  Her smirk turned into an answering smile.  He slowly stood, and walked over to her, taking her hand and lifting it between, the diamonds catching the sunlight and glittering, casting a prism of fire deep in their center.

"You're wearing it," he whispered softly, the awe in his voice evident.  He had known she loved him.  He had known she wanted to be with him.  But to make a lifelong commitment?  He hadn't been sure.  They had talked about kids once, and he told her that it was too dangerous for any sixer whose location was known to ever produce a child.  A child could be taken and experimented on or used to restart Manticore.  She had shrugged and said it didn't bother her at all.  She didn't say it, but seeing the ring on her finger proved that she would rather have him than a child he could provide.  She really wanted that commitment between them.  A promise that would really last.  And there was no doubt in either of them that this was forever. 

"Well," she said softly, trying to be facetious, but not quite making it, "I found it and it was my size and I really liked it, so I figured you wouldn't mind."

"You're really wearing it," he repeated, ignoring her attempt at teasing.  "You really want to."

"This," she said, holding up her hand a bit higher, "is just checking the size.  I haven't agreed to anything yet."

Cole suddenly dropped to his knee.  Janice blinked.  The last thing she was expecting was a dramatic gesture.  Cole was normally much more subtle when he did things.  Of course, this last year and a half, she had come to realize that if a grand reaction was needed from Cole, she could get one far faster than any of his siblings could.  Still, her breath caught and she felt tears prick her eyes when he kissed her hand.  At that moment she could see the appeal of the age-old chivalrous gesture.

Cole had been trying to think of the right thing to say and do to do this properly.  He'd discarded a hundred different speeches and scenarios since the day he bought the ring.  He had thought about taking her to Greece and standing on top of the Acropolis and asking her at sunset after the tourists were gone.  Something that would sweep her off of her feet.  Kneeling, soaking wet, in a kitchen after getting into a fight with his brother had never even crossed his mind as a possibility.  But when had conventional worked for them before?  Somehow, this just felt right.

"Janice," he said, his voice a little shaky with emotion.  He hadn't rehearsed his words at all, but they just spilled from his heart.  "You are the love of my life.  I know that now for sure.  I can't put into words all that you've given me; saved me from, and you did it without even knowing you were doing it.  I love you Dawn, and I swear to you that it's only going to grow as we go on together."

She was already crying at this point, and he knew he was on the verge of tears himself.  "There's only one more thing I ask you to give me," he continued, trying to get it out.  It wasn't that he was scared she'd refused.  He just hadn't counted on how intense it would be for him.  "And that is to allow me the incredible honor and privilege of being your husband.  Janice Anne Miller, will you marry me?"

She knew it was coming, but that didn't lessen the impact of the words.  She'd heard them once before from another guy she had been dating, but they hadn't made her feel anywhere near like this.  A slight sob escaped her and she covered her mouth with the fingers of her free hand to try and keep from breaking down.  And he was still kneeling there as if he didn't know what the answer was.  Well, she had insisted on a question.

"I'd love to," she managed to get out, her words causing such obvious joy in him that she then couldn't control the sobs.  He stood quickly, and pulled her into his embrace, holding her as tightly as he dared.

"Yes?" he murmured, wanting to hear the word that would erase all doubt.

"Yes!" she cried out, laughing and crying at the same time.  Their eyes met, and so much love shone out of hers that it was almost painful.  "Did you think I could say no to you?"

"I know it now," he replied, and then kissed her.

They held each other tightly, wanting to preserve the moment for as long as possible.  Cole looked up for a moment and noticed the late sunset through the window.  He smiled.  Ending and beginning.  For so long he had done his best to make sure there wasn't anything he could lose that he would miss, besides his siblings.  Then he looked down into his fiancé's dark shining eyes.  Some things were worth the risk.  They kissed again as the dark shadows of evening began to fall.  This wasn't an end for them.  This was only the beginning.



A/N:  Well, this is where I get to drop a line to everyone and give ya'll a thank you for sticking with the series so far.  I really appreciate all the feedback I get, and I'm glad you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  To answer the question, yes, there is a fourth in the X-6 series in the works.  Possibly a fifth one as well if you must know.  In any case, farewell for now, and I'll be seeing you all again very soon.  Ta!!   - Cat