~ EPILOGUE ~

Daniel's rather cruelly awoken by the insistent crying of a baby who really, really wants something.

God, babies. Why on earth had he been so keen on having them?

The crying simmers down to a curious gurgling and any other person would have been tricked into thinking the storm was over. But not Daniel; he knows this is a fake out that'll transition into all out screeching in precisely one to four seconds.

And … there it is.

He tumbles out of bed, trips over what he thinks is a baby bag covered with a trillion pink teddy bears and walks/falls/stumbles his way to the nursery to a cacophony of squeals. It sounds like a pig's been slaughtered except, it's not.

He looks down at the red faced baby in the cot and grabs the monitor by the change table.

"Ah honey … "

He's shouting even though he could've just used the baby monitor in his hand; he blames it on lack of sleep rather than abject stupidity. He's no workaholic by any standard of the imagination but it'd been an unusually busy week and being so rudely woken on a Saturday morning like this is, he concludes, just not fun.

Daniel isn't sure he's been heard until his wife replies through the monitor; he surmises from her disembodied voice that she's probably in the kitchen downstairs.

"She probably just needs changing again." Even through the crackling monitor, he can hear the impatience in her voice.

Right, of course. He approaches the cot again, peers over the side to watch his daughter's howling face. "Yeah, I think you're right."

His wife issues a string of reminders that he would find offensive, if they didn't help a lot. He's tempted to retort but she's ready for him. "Don't complain about changing nappies Daniel. Remember, you're the one who didn't want to get a nanny."

She neglects to mention there was no way on god's green earth she wanted one either, but he's been in this marriage long enough to know how to pick and choose his battles and so wisely keeps sarcasm to himself.

He throws the baby monitor down, gingerly picking up his daughter. Even after three months, he can't stop marvelling at his life. He has a wife and a daughter. Daniel Meade has a daughter.

"Hey Rosa." He doesn't think playing with her little hands and feet nor speaking to her like an adult is silly at all. He's confident she's inherited her mother's smarts and none of her dad's boneheadedness. "Daddy's going to try to change your nappy … really badly. I'm going to –" He places her tenderly onto the change table, noting the putrid smell that's just been unleashed. " – to apologise in advance, because I suck at this and you're probably going to get some rash thing somewhere but your mom doesn't seem to want to do it and –" He's holding his breath. "– not that I blame her, so you're stuck with me and any discomfort you may feel as a result can be entirely blamed on my incompetence – oh god that stinks."

He takes an inordinate amount of time changing his daughter's nappy which he's happy to say, is more than he'd spend on his hair but less than cooking his infamous Spaghetti Bolognese out of a jar.

Still, the assault on his sense of smell's entirely worth it when Rosa's cries stop and her frown melts into a crinkly smile that sends his heart aflutter.

She does it to him every single time.

He leans in, whispers in confidence. He knows Betty finds his habit of carrying conversations with their daughter hilarious but that's not ever going to stop him. "You are the most beautiful thing, you know that? Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You're beautiful. You'll be beautiful every day of your life."

He hopes he'll always be here to say it to her.

Betty's voice disrupts his rather soppy personal interlude. "Daniel, what's taking so long? Did you forget how to do it again? It's been three months, you really need to know this stuff."

"I'm done! I was just – never mind. We're coming down." He quickly finishes up, gives his daughter a quick kiss before scooping her up in his arms. Carries her downstairs one at a time, marvels at her tiny fingers and hands and feet and nose and eyes, eyes just the colour of Betty's in all their chocolate brown glory.

It turns out his wife's in the kitchen, cooking breakfast. Daniel carries their daughter to her, gives her a quick kiss and even though she warns him to be careful carrying Rosa too closely to the stove, he laughs and because he does, she does too.

He realises he'll change a million nappies if it gives him the chance to have mornings like this one, a wife and daughter and their smiles to wake up to. He's happy to take the good with the bad, the beautiful with the ugly because … well, that's just the way it should be.

[Finis]


Author's note: And ... that's the end. Hope everyone enjoyed it! I had a blast writing what is unashamedly the fluffiest of fluff pieces but hey, we all like reading happy fics once in a while, right? Anyway, I'm so touched by all the feedback and reviews I've received, and very grateful that you took the time to give me your comments. Every single one is treasured.