Chapter One


Disclaimer: They do not belong to me. Oh, but I would gladly be Nico's.

Author Notes: My take on the season finale minus Matt of course. This is my first Necessary Roughness fic. I've fallen for Nico and Dani, so I just had to write it the way I hoped it would have gone.

The knocking was very persistent and getting louder. Dani rolled out of bed and slipped her robe on. She hurried downstairs and pulled back the curtain to reveal Nico. He had a look on his face she hadn't seen before. She opened the door and met his concerned gaze.


"Are you alone Doctor?"

"Yes, the kids are at my husband's for the weekend. Why? It's late Nico. Can this wait?"

He pushed his way past her into the house looking around again.

"Who are you looking for?"

"I…uh…saw you talking to Matt earlier this week and I thought perhaps…"

"Funny thing. This guy I know said he couldn't compromise himself for anyone. It stuck with me and I realized I couldn't compromise myself either. Matt made his choices and now that they didn't work out, I'm not planning on going back down that road again. Nico, why are you here?"

"There's been an incident and I came straight here. I didn't want you to hear it from anyone else and I knew that you'd need a friend."

"Okay, now you're scaring me. What's going on? Tell me Nico."

"It's TK. He's been shot."

Dani froze and a look of shock crossed her face. She felt tears welling up in her eyes instantly. TK was like one of her kids now.

"How? Why? I…I don't understand."

"He's still alive, but we are needed at the hospital. Why don't you get dressed and I'll explain everything on the way."

Dani could only nod her head. It felt like she was moving in slow motion up her stairs. Nico stood at the bottom watching her. He knew this was a huge shock and she would need time to pull herself together before she had to be there for everyone else. It only took her five minutes to slip on some slacks, a tank top and tennis shoes. She came down the stairs zipping up a light jacket over her clothes. He had rarely seen her dressed so casually. As she reached the last step of the stairs, Nico stood waiting for her. She looked him in the eye as a tear slipped down her cheek. He was in front of her in one stride, reaching up a hand and brushing the tear away. This woman rocked him to the core. He had gone from being a skeptic to believing completely not only in her ability to help people, but in her character and her honesty. He admired her and beyond that he found himself feeling things for her he never had with any other woman including his ex-wife and Gabrielle Pittman. Dani leaned forward and fell into his arms. Nico held her close and rubbed her back gently.

"Shhh. It's going to be okay. He's a strong kid. It will take more than a bullet to take him out."

Dani tried to pull back and put on her professional front, but Nico held her in place.

"You don't have to always be so strong you know."

"But I do. Tonight I do. People will be bleeding everywhere and I am needed. Thank you Nico."

"That's what friends are for, right?"

Her voice was a whisper.


Nico placed his hand firmly at her lower back and escorted her out to his car. Dani could feel his strength coming from that one gesture of protectiveness. It made her feel so cared for. On the way to the hospital he told her the story about the angry fan and how well TK had tried to handle it. Dani began to cry as the story unfolded and Nico reached across to grasp her hand in his. He softly rubbed his thumb over the back of it the rest of the way to the hospital. It was very comforting as Dani tried to focus her thoughts on helping TK's girlfriend and his fellow players.

Once they were out of the car, Nico placed his hand on her back once again. It was so reassuring. Dani knew that with Nico beside her she could face anything. He was her rock. She knew that she could not do this right now if he wasn't with her. She drew strength from his presence. It made her stomach do flips, but it felt really good too. Just as the hospital doors slid open Dani felt his fingers curl into her back gently and then he patted her a couple of times. He stepped closer to her and his hand slipped up to her shoulder giving her one last squeeze before he knew she had to take charge.

They entered the ER waiting room to find almost the entire team and staff together. Dani's eyes landed on Vivica first. She was curled up in a chair with her arms wrapped around her knees, tucked into the smallest ball she could make of her body. Dani knew that kind of body language. She was in shock and had been traumatized by what she had witnessed. Dani made her way to her side and Matt immediately stood to allow her to sit with her. Dani slipped her arm around Vivica and pulled her to her side. She stroked her hair and leaned to whisper softly in her ear.

It became incredibly quiet as the team gathered around and sat on the floor. Nico watched with pride as Dani's "flock" began to gather. She had this ability to make everyone feel better just by having her in the room. It was amazing. It was a silent acknowledgement that if Dr. Dani was there, everything was going to be okay. Nico leaned against the wall and watched her work her magic with person after person. She pulled huge football players into her arms one by one and he watched as they became little boys under her care, cuddling up to her and listening intently to everything she whispered into their ears. His eyes followed her every move and from time to time she would look up and find him as if to reassure herself that he was there. Nico's heart swelled at the thought that he held that place in her affection.

By the time she was done, each and every person who had come there had time with her. He noticed she was careful to talk to Matt and Coach together, keeping a good deal of space between herself and Matt, leaning into coach instead. Three hours later the doctors emerged and everyone turned expectantly.

Nico moved to her side for the first time since they arrived. She leaned into him and slipped her hand into his. Nico wrapped his fingers warmly around it and gave a gentle squeeze before beginning once again to rub his thumb slowly over her knuckles in an act of comfort. She looked up at him and in that moment he felt as though his heart was going to burst. The doctor cleared his throat and spoke to the crowd.

"TK survived the surgery. He took a bullet to his chest, but no major organs were damaged. He did have a collapsed lung and we were able to insert a chest tube. There was also the concern of the possible onset of hypovolemia with the extreme blood loss. We have heavily sedated him, so he will not be able to see anyone until some time tomorrow. He will sleep for the next 18-20 hours. As long as he doesn't throw a blood clot, we can keep him hydrated and replace the lost blood volume we expect him to completely recover. He is a strong young man. A lesser athlete would never have survived the extreme trauma of such a close range gunshot. He will require a great deal of therapy, but I'm confident he will be able to return to the team some time next season. Right before he went under for surgery he asked for Dr. Dani? Who is that?"

Dani struggled to keep her voice normal, failing badly.

"That would be me."

"He asked that you come and see him when he got out of surgery. I promised him you would be there. It won't be tonight though. Everyone should go home and get some rest. He's going to be here for quite a few days."

Hugs were passed all round as everyone smiled for the first time that night and began to brush away the tears. One by one or in small groups they drifted away and headed for their cars. Vivica's mother arrived and promised to stay with her as she refused to leave the hospital. Nico spoke quietly with a nurse and soon the young woman and her mother were escorted to a private room with a couch and she was able to lie down and rest. Dani waited and watched while Nico now did his magic, making sure the young woman was well taken care of. He looked up at her as he closed the door to the room and walked towards her. He was trying to figure out what the look on her face meant.


"Nothing. Just watching you do what you do."

"Yeah, well, back at you. I got to watch you do the same tonight. Tired?"

Dani nodded and sighed, pulling her jacket around her and hugging herself. Nico surprised her by putting his arm around her shoulder as they walked out. She slipped her arm around his waist and they walked to his car in a comfortable silence. Neither one needed to say anything. They knew what they had done had made a difference and they both had a strong sense of what a great team they made.

On the way home Nico watched Dani start to wind down from the night. She amazed him. He had never known a woman as strong as her in his life. She was the real deal and he was falling head over heels for her. He parked in her drive and went around to help her out of the car. Exhaustion was written all over her face and he knew she had been holding in her emotions all night. Her fingers shook as she tried to open the front door, so he gently reached his hand around her and slipped them from her grasp, opening the door and walking inside with that steady hand at her back all the way.

Dani stood uncertainly at the bottom of the stairs. Nico spoke quietly to her.

"You should get some rest Dani. I will come early in the morning to take you back to the hospital. Maybe by then TK will be conscious and you can talk to him."

She kept her head down, nodding once in acknowledgement. The idea of being alone right now was more than she could bear. Her voice came out in a strangled sob.

"Nico would you…stay?"

Nico breathed a sigh of relief. He did not want her to be alone right now, but didn't know how to ask.

"Of course."

He moved to walk into the living room and settle on the couch, but Dani caught his hand. He looked into her eyes and knew he would do anything to take away the pain there. It was her home. He would follow her lead. He stepped back into her personal space and gazed into her eyes trying to figure out what she wanted. His expression was filled with affection.

This was really hard, but Dani trusted this man with her life. She pulled him with her up the stairs. Nico looked up at her as they climbed to her bedroom. She pulled him to her bed and as he stood at the end she removed her jacket and shoes and crawled up on top of the covers. Nico slipped his jacket, shoes and belt off and sat down on the other side. He scooted towards her and leaned back against the headboard lifting his arm in invitation. Dani was instantly in his arms burying her face in his chest and sobbing. Nico had never felt so honored in his life. Dani, his Dani, was allowing him to see her vulnerable in every way. They were truly friends now and not just colleagues. He felt his heart constrict. When did this amazing woman worm her way into his guarded heart? He knew without a doubt that he wanted, no needed to take care of her like this for the rest of his life. For the first time in a long time he didn't want to fly solo.