Title: The Rules of Engagement

Summary: CJ + Danny "Sometimes he wishes things could just be peaceful between the two of them."

Disclaimers: Not mine. Not at all, but shouldn't we get to have them now?

Feedback: please

A/N- Post Canon.

The Rules of Engagement 1

Early February 2007, California

He is angry and she is furious, and in the middle of his tirade she does something on impulse. She grabs him and kisses him on the open mouth so hard she can feel the bruise starting. Neither of them are prepared for the electric arc of passion that flares between them and almost before they realize it they are wet and hard on the floor of the kitchen. It's short, sudden and severe, and they are both still breathing heavily when he says, "I'm not done."

"Oh, I think you are," she snaps.

"No." he says, and he reaches out and turns her face towards him so she can see the fear in his eyes. "This is not a good solution for us." He struggles to his feet, pulls her up and hugs her. He takes a deep breath. Her rubs he cheek where it is red from whisker burn. "I think passion is fine, and forgiveness is fine, and gentleness and joy are all fine, but I think anger is not a good place for us to come from." He can feel her want to leave, but he won't let her go. Not with his arms, not with his eyes. "Because I love you. And I'm scared to use anger to get there…. I think a fair fight is a fair fight."

"And you think I cheated."

"I think we both cheated. I think sex can be a dangerous weapon, and now that we both know that it's there we shouldn't use it that way."

"You'd prefer a cold war?"

"I'd prefer peace talks, but I'll go with yelling, screaming, and sulking." He grins, "And I'm talking about me here. I imagine you'll just go with the yelling."

He can feel her settle into him. She smiles and runs her hands over his hair to pull him close enough to kiss softly.

"Want to start again?"

"Where from?"

"Here will do fine." He kisses her slowly and gently and starts to help her undress.

************

The Rules of Engagement 2

Late February 2007, California

"For the love of God, Danny that's ridiculous!"

He grabs her by one wrist as she turns to go.

"You know," he says gently, "You don't have to pick a fight to have some time alone."

She stops. Frozen. "I'm not…" she starts. "I wasn't…" She looks at him with realization dawning in her eyes.

"You could just say it…. 'I need some time'… ' I need some space'… I could live with that."

She's looking at him in amazement, but she still can't find any words.

"So here's what I think," he continues, " I think we need a house. A house with many rooms and a back yard. We should stop looking at condos and apartments and just look at houses that will give us the space to make this work. I need space and you need space… wasn't that Virginia Woolfe… a Room of One's Own…"

'You're quoting feminist axioms? At me?"

"Well you didn't seem to be doing much quoting yourself" he grins.

"It should have pool." She says. "No point in a house without a pool."

"You sure? I've heard stories…"

She pushes him gently on his chest "I can swim …and I look good wet. We need a pool… Besides, you said you'd teach me to Eskimo roll."

****************

The Rules of Engagement 3

Early March 2007, California

The day is grey. Slate grey. Sky grey. Ocean grey. Not exactly raining, but the wind whipping in off the Pacific has a raw edge that makes him hunch his shoulders as he trudges down the beach. He wonders what it is about himself; why he always falls in love with difficult women. Then he thinks about his diamond bright mother and sisters, and how family for him is all about opinions and emotions and flashes of brilliance. And sometimes he wishes things could just be peaceful between the two of them, but he knows it's not likely, and really, not the road he's chosen. He pushes on into the wind, and the gritty almost rain and about a quarter of a mile down the beach he finds her huddled on the sand, with her back against a silver grey log staring out at the ocean.

He steps out of his shoes, peels off his socks and sits down beside her, burrowing his feet into the sand.

"It's not that big a deal you know," he says, "It's only a house. It's just property."

"We need to talk to a lawyer."

"Almost everyone you know is a lawyer, C.J. They'll all say the same thing as the real estate agent. Both our names go on the bill of sale, and on the mortgage… it's ours. How we define that is up to us. It's not the legalities that are bothering you."

She runs a hand through her hair and looks away from him.

He looks down at his feet in the sand and sighs. "If it's so important to you, you can just buy it on your own. I'll do something else… buy some vacation property or something…. Whatever. It's just …"

"Kind of juvenile?" she throws in.

"Not exactly the words I would have chosen, but…" he says with a half smile.

She looks at him, her eyes wide with uncertainty. "I've always looked after myself."

"Well what's stopping you, Sunshine? It'll be ours. Together."

"What if we disagree about things?"

"We'll run a line of masking tape through the middle…..We'll work it out." He looks up at her and smiles, "You can have a lock on your office door."

"How about the bedroom?" she teases. ..Just a little bit… Like testing the water.

"Oh no. No no no. That's neutral territory…. Negotiated truce…common ground."

There's a smile lurking behind her eyes now, like a tiny patch of blue sky. He reaches out and captures her hand, lacing his fingers through hers.

"Mi casa es su casa."

"What's with you? You're here two weeks and you're already with the Spanish?"

He focuses on their hands. "I'm a friendly guy. I try to get along….Where ever I am…" he says.

She sighs. "I fought so hard to be independent… self sufficient…"

"This doesn't change that." There is a silence, and he can hear only the wind and his heart pounding. And then he says "Ask the other question."

"What?"

"The one that's so big you had to leave the apartment. The one that's so loud you had to walk all the way down here to get away from it."

She looks out into the ocean, willing there to be a whale or a bird or a boat, or anything to take the focus. She can't form the words.

"What happens if we split up?" he supplies at last.

"Well?" she says softly.

"We jump off that bridge if we get to it," he says with more conviction than he feels, "but I'm not about to let that wisp of an idea inform my actions now." He sighs again. "We can see a lawyer if you want. We can sort out whatever legal issues you want to deal with. It just seems like such a poor foundation. You know… like building a house on this," and he pushes a pile of sand up with one foot.

"Why are you being so fucking reasonable?" The wind whips tendrils of hair across her face.

He looks up at her slyly, laughter dancing in his eyes. "I have my moments," he says, "but we can't all be princesses at the same time."

And by some miracle he's said the right thing, because she leans in to him and gives him that half smile of acquiescence that drives him wild. But he takes a deep breath, and instead of pushing her down in the sand and kissing her breathless he stands up and pulls her to her feet and says, "C'mon, we'll pick up lattés on the way back to the apartment," and they start back across the beach hand in hand.

*****************

The Rules of Engagement 4

April 2007, Santa Monica, California

She's laughing and holding the magazine just out of his reach.

"No, seriously I think this may be some of the best work you've ever done! I mean it's a whole new genre….not that I think there's really a lot of slug aficionados out there"

"But I know I'm now top on their list of favorite authors…Okay. I get it…Enough!" he grins.

"It's deep, and insightful… kind of slow paced.. but"

"Give it back!" he holds out his hand, but she turns away, still holding the National Geographic. Its cover sports an extreme close up of a bright yellow slug.

"No wait, "she says, "I'm looking for the quotes…"

He's trying to get the magazine away from her, but she's still keeping it out of reach. She steps up on the couch, leafing through it. He puts his arms around her, and lifts her down, letting her slide through his arms to the floor, trapping her in his embrace. She's still holding the magazine from him, but instead of trying to take it he kisses her. Her arm drops as she buys in to the kiss. As soon as it's within reach he grabs the National Geographic and drops it on the floor behind him, keeping his mouth on hers. She pulls back. "You don't play fair."

"Really?" he says pulling her down on to the couch with him. He kisses her again. "Well, I learned from a master."

"What do you mean?" she asks suspiciously.

"I used to have this girl friend that used kisses as a distraction"

"Yeah? And did you always fall for it?" she flirts.

"Always."

She grabs his hands and traps them against his chest, pushing him into the corner of the sofa and kissing him long and sweet. Then quickly, before he can recover, gets up and grabs the magazine off the floor, and walks out to the kitchen, reading.

He puts his head back, sighs, and then calls out, "There'll come a day when that won't work, you know"

"Think it'll be any time soon?"

"Not really, no."

*******************

The Rules of Engagement 5

May 2007, Santa Monica, California

He's sitting in the corner of the sofa reading. She's sitting back to him, leaning against his shoulder, with her feet up on the seat, going over a document with a highlighter.

"Do me a favor?" she says.

"Sure what?"

"Marry me."

"'Okay. When?"

"I was thinking tomorrow."

"I'm busy tomorrow. I've got a thing downtown"

She turns and looks at him over the top of her glasses. "Is next week better?"

"Oh my god! You're serious, aren't you?"

"Shouldn't I be?"

"No… I mean yes… I mean, sure let's do that."

She keeps marking her report. He's not reading anymore.

"You know you're kind of vibrating a little," she says as she drops the report and the highlighter on the coffee table. She swivels around so she's facing him.

He turns his head and looks at her. "I'm kind of vibrating a lot" he says.

She leans forward and kisses him and he grabs her and nuzzles into her neck and ear, pulling her over on top of him. "You really want to do this? You don't want a party? I thought you were the party girl around here"

"We could have a party. That could be fun. I wasn't sure you'd want to."

He kisses her. "Oh I think this is one of the really good reasons for a party."

"So… not tomorrow then."

"Well, I have this thing downtown," he grins at her, "You're not going to change your mind?"

"I don't think so."

"Should we maybe do this before you have time to reconsider, and have the party later?"

She laughs. "No. It can wait. I won't change my mind."

*********

Rules of Engagement 6

May 2007, Santa Monica, California.

"I got a package from my mom today."

"Yeah? How is she? Did she send cookies?"

"No. Well… yes, but that wasn't the important thing."

"What kind of cookies?"

"You're not interested in the other thing?"

"Not until I get a cookie."

"Hey, I'm trying to be serious here!" he grins.

"Well you're not doing a very good job. Hand over the cookies."

He passes her the box.

"Mmm, ginger cookies! These are my favorites!... Does she do this for all of your siblings?"

"I'm not sure. I don't think so."

"Just her baby boy?"

"I'm sure she bakes cookies for Meg and Didi…I just don't think she sends them to Cal or... oh hell! I don't know! You want to do this later, or what?"

"No, I'm paying attention. What did she send you?"

"Well it's us… she sent it for us. Well, she sent it to me, but I'm supposed to give it to you."

"Okay. Let's see?"

He looks around kind of nervously, and sighs. "This isn't right."

"What do you mean?"

"Leave this." He takes the cookie out of her hand and puts it on the table.

"Hey!"

"Come here." He takes her by the hand and pulls her outside into the back yard. Skirting the pool he pulls her up a small path to a shaded bench. "Here. Sit." He sits beside her.

"Danny.? What's up?"

"Look around for a moment and see how beautiful this is."

She looks at him and smiles. "It is beautiful Danny, and I love it here." She touches his cheek with one hand.

He reaches in his pocket and brings out something in his fist. He takes her hand, turns it over, palm up, places his fist over top of it, and holds it there, while he says, "This was my Grandmother's. I'm not sure why I get it, but my Mother says it's mine. Well she said it's mine, but she made it pretty clear I was supposed to give it to you. I know you said that you didn't want an engagement ring, I know we said we'd just do wedding bands, but this is different… this is kind of both." And she feels him place the warm gold in her hand. She looks down for a minute to see the bright metal, worn smooth; two hands clasping a heart with a crown. She looks back up at him.

"It's beautiful," she says before she leans over to kiss him. He wraps his arms around her and pulls her closer.

"Here, we'd better put this on before you drop it."

He reaches for the ring, and takes her right hand.

"Hey, wrong hand!... Or did you change your mind?"

"No, no… That's how this works. When you're engaged you wear it on your right hand with the heart turned towards you. When we're married you wear it on the left hand with the heart turned towards you."

"What does it mean if the heart is facing the other way?"

"That you're available. I'll be checking it on a daily basis." He grins cheekily.

"Hmmm. Seems to me you're going to need one too."

"What? The leash and collar aren't enough for you?"

"You'd wear one?"

"A claddagh ring? Yeah. The leash and collar? Only metaphorically… or in private."

She laughs and kisses him. "I'll see what I can do."