We Have a Situation
Word Count: 3,945
Spoilers: References something from 1x11, but goes AU in the middle of 1x06.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I just break things.
Summary: She thinks he thinks everything is a situation. Trouble is, he's right. She just doesn't know it yet.
Author's Note: So, epilogue time. Yeah, I'm calling this the epilogue. I got everything I felt I needed to wrapped up, everyone made an appearance, and I got my corny ending. Yes, ENDING. It's done. I have a few outtakes, one crackfic, and there's a vague possibility of a sequel, but this is definitely done.
A Happy Ending
"Okay, if your kisses created a monster before, now... oh, it's been said so many times and it's usually an exaggeration, but I really don't think we should leave this bed," Dani said, stretching out . His eyes never left her, not for a second. The intensity made her whole body feel warm. Again. "Nico, I... Stop looking at me like that unless you're planning on doing something about it."
"Your words are tempting but impractical. There are too many reasons why it is impossible for us to remain in this bed forever. Food, water, assorted other needs of the physical body, not to mention the various responsibilities that we have. Your children. Your patients. My family. The horse."
"Do you have to send him away? Isn't there another option?"
"The herd won't take him back, and now that someone's been feeding him, he won't survive on his own. It's best that he go to someone who will take care of him full time. The stables here are in no shape to support that, and gentling a mustang takes a concentrated effort and strict adherence to the guidelines. We have no one here that does that, but I have located a farm in Virginia with previous experience in caring for horses like this one," he told her. "The animal will be well cared for."
Dani nodded. "I know. It's not that I don't trust you. I know you're doing the best that you can for him. I just... want to keep him around for longer. That's selfish of me. I kept thinking—as long as we were here, we could keep an eye on him."
"The vet doesn't think that he should travel right away, so he won't leave the area immediately. You can visit him," Nico said, and she smiled at him. He touched her face. "He should be here by now, so I should—"
"Stay right here. That's what you should do," she said, pulling him close again. "If the vet was here, he'll come to the door. You don't have to anticipate him. He's not one of the people you have to put on an image for, and... I want you to stay."
"After last night, you should be exhausted."
"A bit sore. I haven't had that kind of workout in a while," she admitted. He looked at her. She frowned. "What, do you need me to say that what you and I did was better than my night with Matt?"
"I think that Donnally is a subject that should not ever come up when we are alone together."
She laughed a little. "You really don't like him, do you?"
"He is a good trainer. The team likes him. He's a bit too... clean for me. He can be that way, and maybe that's what irritates me about him. I never had that luxury, and I get very annoyed when he questions my methods."
"He used to. You're the only one that does anymore," Nico reminded her. He had reacted differently when she challenged him, but then, she was not Matt. She knew that. "Or you used to be. I am going to shower, and after that I'll start breakfast. By then, the vet will be at the door."
She sighed. "So... The mood is completely gone? I didn't—I was only teasing about Matt, and the thing is that Matt and I only had the one night and I didn't stay with him and I'm still here now and I don't—Matt was fun and flirty and it was right after the divorce and Ray and I had not really been—compared to Ray anyone would have been amazing—and so it being good with Matt wasn't really a surprise—not that last night was a surprise, but I'd been pretty close to expecting perfection and I think I was—Oh, god. What did I just—I have to—just go shower. I need a few minutes to... sew my mouth shut or something."
"That would a shame considering everything that you do with your mouth."
"What, like make a fool of myself?" Dani asked, and he gave her a look, not one of his usual ones, but still pointed. Her mouth dropped open again. Was he... talking about what she thought he was? That... She couldn't hardly believe she'd done that. She had gotten bolder as the night went on. "Nico..."
"You said you were expecting... perfection. What did you get?"
"I told you that I didn't want to leave the bed."
"Yes, but that's not the same as how well it met your expectations," he said, and she shook her head. This was not what she was expecting this morning, that was for sure. She'd kind of expected him to be practical and want to get up rather than spend their entire day right here, but the accidental conversation about Matt and then the babbling and now this...
"Do I have to spell it out?"
He shrugged. "How you answer is up to you. As is whether or not you answer."
"Not answering you would give you the wrong idea," she said. "I don't want you to have the wrong idea because... well, you were right about creativity and even though my ankle isn't healed and I kept accidentally touching sore spots on your back... That was as close to perfect as it gets. Though... maybe I should ask you because we discussed before that I have less experience."
"Experience doesn't necessarily mean that I would know better. Isn't the best judge the other party?" Nico asked with that same intensity that made her glad there was a bed underneath her because she would have melted right there.
"I shouldn't ask, but can you have the vet come a bit later, please?"
"We'll make time."
"I'm not ready to be home," Dani said, opening her front door. She looked around, a half-smile on her face. "I missed it, but then again... I don't know. There will be so many people, more situations, no time for a break..."
"We'll make time," Nico told her, guiding her toward the kitchen and—she was certain—the nearest chair. She would be glad when her ankle was finally fully healed and she was able to do things on her own again. She loved being with Nico, she really did, but she didn't like being dependent on him. She would have liked to have been able to walk the nature preserve on her own, to do more than sit near the fence and watch the horses. She wanted to be able to fend for herself, to cook—not that Nico was a bad cook, but there were so many things she'd taken for granted before her ankle.
"Making time. That's going to be our new motto now, is it?" Dani asked, and he shrugged slightly, just before the door opened again.
"See? I told you I heard someone down here, Ray Jay," Lindsay said, shaking her head at her brother. Dani smiled at her and opened her arms for a hug. Lindsay rolled her eyes, but she came over and gave her one anyway. "Mom, you can let go any time now."
"Sorry," Dani said, moving on to her son. Ray Jay smiled a little as he gave her a hug. "I missed you. Both of you. How long have you been home?"
"Not long. We were just here to pick up a few things and—"
"And you were hoping your mother would not notice the new vehicle that you drove here in?" Nico asked, causing them both to jump guiltily. They looked over at him like they hadn't realized that he was there. What, they'd thought that he'd just leave her? Not Nico. Not after that incident with the bathtub.
That wasn't even the big issue. She folded her arms over her chest. "New car?"
Lindsay winced. "Well... Dad was all upset and freaked out because he suddenly got it in his head that we like your new guy better than him—and that's not true, by the way—"
"Of course not," Nico agreed, and Dani gave him a look. He shrugged.
"—So he got me a car," Lindsay finished. Dani stared at her. "He signed me up for a driving school, too, but I haven't actually driven anywhere. Ray Jay did. Not me."
Dani blinked and forced herself to swallow. Oh, he did not. He did not get to buy her children's affections—and wasn't only a month ago that he was trying to file for spousal support? Was Ray kidding her? He was not going to get away with this. "I am going to—"
"Danielle," Nico began, touching her shoulders gently, and she looked up at him. He lowered his lips to her ear. "Threaten to kill your ex-husband in private, where the children can't hear you. In the meantime, know that there are ways to ensure that your daughter does not drive the car until she has a license. Some problems can be impossible to pin down even for expert mechanics."
She smiled at him. He had such a devious mind. It was perfect. "I love you."
"What?" Lindsay demanded, her eyes widening with horror as she looked back at her brother. He looked about as stunned as his sister did. Dani sighed. She didn't know that she should have said that in front of the children, not yet. They weren't ready for her to be in love. They were barely able to cope with the divorce and dating at this point.
"It's..." Dani tried to find the right words. How did she explain this? She had feelings for a man that was not their father, and how would they react to that? How could they? They'd be confused, angry, and hurt.
"Hello? Anyone here?" Jeanette called, interrupting them. Dani turned with relief, watching her best friend poke her head into the doorway. She smiled warmly. "Oh, wow, what a trip. I think we bought out an entire line. Tall, Dark, and Scary, I don't suppose you have any of your goons around to help us carry in things from the car?"
"They could push one of the buttons," Juliette suggested, following Jeanette into the room. Her outfit was almost outrageous, hanging off one shoulder and looking like it only covered half of her body. She held up a hand. "Relax, Uncle Nico. It only looks like I'm wearing half the dress. See?"
He shook his head. "And you want to look like you're half-naked?"
"It's just this light. I missed you, too, Control Freak," she said, crossing over to kiss his cheek. "You look better. Less... tired. Happier."
"You're imagining things, and the answer to your implied question is that it's none of your business," Nico told her. "Let's see about this stuff that you bought, then. You might have more than Danielle's house can store, and if you do, then you are going to have to start looking for a new place of your own."
"What? I have to leave? I don't want to go—I'm not ready to—Dani, please, I don't have to go, do I? Lindsay? Ray Jay? Are you going to kick me out, too? I can put some of the stuff in storage or sell it or—"
"Juliette, calm down," Dani said, giving Nico a look. He caught her before she could leave. "You don't have to go."
"I don't?" Juliette asked, looking up at her uncle. He nodded. She sighed. "I really freaked out there. I'm sorry. They... They reduced the dose on the pills, and I think I've been kind of weird ever since."
"It's to be expected. It'll pass," Nico assured her. "How much did you buy, anyway?"
"Too much. And don't think you fooled me for a second," she said, pointing a finger at him. "No way Jeanette had that much money to spend on me. You cheated and gave me access to the trust fund again, didn't you?"
"That's your money. You can spend it as you please—as long as it's not on drugs or worthless men," Nico answered, going out of the kitchen with her. Dani wished she could have gone with them, offered to help, but no one was going to let her do that even though her ankle was a lot better now.
"So... What's with the tension here?" Jeanette asked, looking around at the three of them. "Come on, Santinos. Spill."
"Ray bought Lindsay a car."
"Mom's in love with the scary guy."
Jeanette somehow managed to get that even though they all spoke at the same time. "Okay. Car, awesome but a little early. And of course she does. She's been in love with him for longer than she wanted to admit. Important thing to remember, kids, is that he loves her right back and he treats her right. When he doesn't, then you get upset. Your father let her down there. She deserves someone who will love her and take care of her, and your father didn't want to be that man. He's still your father. Nothing changes that. Your mom even still loves him. But she can't be with him. Nico's not a bad man. We even have proof."
Lindsay sighed. "It's just a lot to take in. And she's so going to take my car away."
"I never said that," Dani began. "The car is not to be driven by you until you're licensed, but that is another issue entirely. And I know that the dating and the divorce and the papers are all huge things right now. That was why we all got away for a while. We had some time, we cleared our heads, and if we need more time, we'll take it. We'll get through this together. I told you already that I don't expect you to replace your father or think of Nico as one. You don't even have to like him. But you do have to get along with him because he's not going away."
"Mostly, we do like him," Ray Jay began, and Lindsay frowned at him. "We do. Lindsay took longer to accept him, but I think he's decent, and I've seen the way he looks at you. Jeanette's right. He loves you. So... I can take him being around. It's not easy, but he's not making it hard on us, either. It's not like he's tried to take Dad's role in anything. Not even the panic buttons. That's his job, Linds. TK told me the players with kids—all of those kids have the same keychains or security details. Devin's got one of them, too. I don't know. I don't hate Nico. I don't know that I'll ever love him, but hell, he's not that bad. And I like Juliette. I like having her around. She's fun. Bitter sometimes, hyper sometimes, depressed sometimes, but she's not that different from any of us. She even got you to play a video game. That's... big. I think she's good for us."
"You're definitely good for her," Dani told them. Lindsay shrugged. Dani figured that was as good that she was going to get from her daughter right now.
"Yo, Santinos! You all in here? Door's open, so I'm guessing so," TK's voice called out to them, and Dani groaned. She couldn't believe that Nico would have left the door open, but Juliette might have. "Hey, look. Everyone's back. We got good timing, D."
"Yeah," Devin said, smiling at them. "Hi."
"TK, I know that the door was open, but I—"
"Doctor D, I gotta tell you, man, I had nothing to do with that betting pool, I swear. I would have put some money down on something, but after I saw the stuff, I didn't. I'm gonna kick some ass when I find out who was behind it, though. I've been talking to a few guys and I think I'm getting close to an answer, and when I do, I'm going to open up a can of—"
"You don't have to do anything, Terrence. I have names, and I'm going to kill them and feed them to my panther," Nico said as he reentered the room. "Starting with a certain assistant trainer who set up the pool in the first place."
TK frowned. "You're... kidding, right? Doctor D, he's joking, isn't he? At least about the... panther, right?"
Dani just shrugged. She didn't know how long she'd keep a straight face, but she was going to try. TK shook his head at her. "You are spending way too much time with him, you know that? Now you're gonna be messing with my head like he does."
Dani laughed, shaking her head. "No one can do that quite like Nico."
"Lindsay, come help me put away my clothes," Juliette called from the doorway. "I'll show you what I got you."
"You got me something? Really?"
Dani winced as her daughter left with Nico's niece, thinking she was not going to like what Juliette ended up giving her. Jeanette gave her a look of pity. "Okay, I confess. She bought the dress just to see what Tall, Dark, and Scary's reaction would be. She didn't even like it. What she got for Lindsay can't be bad. Promise."
"You know, as nice as it was to get away, I kind of missed all this," Dani admitted with a tired smile. "It's crazy, but it's my life."
"And you thrive on chaos," Nico reminded her as he came up behind her. She rolled her eyes, reaching for his hand and pulling his arm around her. It was good to be home. Even if it was crowded and full and a little tense. This was her family. This was where she belonged. She had everything she wanted.
Except, maybe, some time.
"Where are we going?"
Nico's eyes left the road for a moment, looking over at her, and she waited, but he went back to the road again. She always had to ask. He was coming to realize that it wasn't lack of trust, just that never ending need to know, to understand. She always needed to make sense of whatever situation she found herself in, and when there were loose threads, she picked them apart until she found what she was looking for.
"This really isn't funny, Nico. I hate when you do this to me. An answer would be nice."
"Patience is something you might want to work on."
She sighed. "You haven't said anything since we got in the car. We haven't been back for that long, and TK would have called me, so he's not the situation you called me away for. Juliette's doing fine. She and Lindsay have been almost inseparable since Juliette gave her that shirt—and it's an amazing shirt; don't get me wrong; I'm actually jealous—but that means that she's not having problems or anything, even with the new dose. Ray Jay's supposed to be at a study group but is really on a date, and I'm going to have to decide if I'm going to confront him about that. Jeanette has a new man that she's not telling me about, but she will soon, and that's not something you'd pull me aside for anyway, so... I can't figure it out. What is this situation? Is it Gabriella? Did she change her mind about the divorce or the rehab again?"
"It has nothing to do with my sister," Nico said. "She still intends to divorce Marshall, eventually, and she's been moving money around, supposedly sober while doing it, but she hasn't gone to rehab again. Not yet."
"Okay, so... what? What could this situation possibly be? Another player? Bobby Caldwell again? Booz? What is going on?"
Nico turned into the parking lot and pulled into a space. "We're almost there."
She shook her head again. "I don't understand why you can't just tell me. I could use a bit to prepare for whatever it is we're going up against. You're not taking me away from everyone just to tell me that Shadow died or something, are you?"
Nico frowned. "No. I wouldn't do that. I'd talk to you in private, but that could have been done anywhere. The horse is fine. He's almost ready to go to his new owners. They have assured me that they will update me with the animal's progress and that visitors are always welcome."
"Good," she agreed. She still frowned when he opened his door and got out. She opened hers as he crossed around to help her out of the car. "I really have run out of possible situations that we have to handle right now, so I have no idea what we're doing here."
He smiled at her, leading her into the building. She was quickly losing patience with him, but they would be at their destination soon enough, and he was not going to tell her before then. It needed to be like this. She would understand it all very soon.
They walked into the elevator and let the doors close behind them. She looked up at the ceiling and back at him. "I don't know why you can't just tell me."
"I don't know why you can't wait a few more seconds until we're on the right floor. Down a couple doors, and then we'll be there."
"It's not my birthday. Can't be a surprise party, so... I really am giving up now."
He laughed a little as the elevator's doors opened, guiding her down the hallway to the door and opening it. He waved her inside, and she frowned again as he shut the door. "Wait. I know where we are now. This is your apartment. Why are we here?"
"I told you we had a situation."
"Yes, but you still haven't told me what it is."
He closed the distance between them and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, holding onto him until neither of them could breathe. She pulled back first, catching her breath. "So... this is your idea of making time, is it?"
"Blatant abuse of the situation equals emergency impression that everyone has, yes," he agreed, and she laughed, leaning her head against his chest. "Though if you consider that we haven't had a chance to do that since we got back, maybe it does qualify as an emergency."
"I would classify it as one," she told him, kissing him again. "I didn't know how we were going to find time to ourselves again."
"We can't do this every time. Some situations really are emergencies, and calling this a situation blurs the lines—a lot—but if it's only an occasional abuse or just a one time thing, I don't think it would be too much of a problem."
"I am all for blurring the lines right now, Nico."
He smiled at her again before picking her up and carrying her into his bedroom.