Author's Note - The final chapter or is it? Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all my readers/alerters/favoriters/reviewers, you all made this story go on. True story, I was gonna delete it after chapter 3, didn't think it was good enough. But I got a few reviews begging for more and I wrote more, then it snowballed into a piece I'm super proud of. Shout out time - DeDe324, mama if you hadn't started reviewing like crazy and pushing me, it would have taken me longer to finish it, it's good and bad. All your love and support and just being so damn funny helped in ways you couldn't imagine. Thank you honey, I love you! PS - if you haven't read her stories do so, Make This Go On Forever and Ashes & Wine are amazeballs!
I appreciate every single person who took time to read even a single chapter. So please enjoy the last chapter of Walking Through Fire. After the curtain closes, please be so kind as to drop me a review and tell me what you think of the end. I would love it! Thank you all again.
"Is there a Flynn Humphrey here," the Irish bartender asked. The name caught the ear of two of the three men huddled in the back of the near empty bar. A tall red headed man raised his hand and stood exasperated.
"That's me," he walked over to the bar, "You better have a damn good reason for using my middle name kid," he barked into the phone at Quinn, the only person to call him Flynn Humphrey. Her brother's expression changed from annoyance to one of pure happiness, "What? When? Where? Who," he laughed loudly at her scolding, "Only kidding Q."
The lighter haired man's head snapped up at the nickname, he turned to his brother, "That's Quinn's brother."
"What's he doin' here," Murphy asked hushed trying to get a better look at him.
"Yeah, of course I'll be there, are you kidding? You're sure next July. Let me talk to the punk. I'm sure my dad and Rome have threatened you so I don't need to. Welcome to the family. Act like I scared you," he let go of a laugh when Quinn started to scold him, "Only protecting my sweet and innocent baby sister. I'm so happy for you, be good to him. Ok, love you too," he hung up the phone an enormous smiled plastered on his face, "Barkeep, next round is on me," cheers erupted from most of the patrons. The three men in the back nodded to him. Flynn brought the drinks over to them. "Here ya go gents, celebration is in order!"
"What are ya celebratin' lad," the older gentleman asked.
"My baby sister is getting married."
"What," Connor yelled but Murphy kicked him, "Ow, fuck!"
"Congrats," the darker haired twin clapped the red head on the back, "Who's she gettin' hitched to?"
"A detective," Flynn smiled, "Better than her previous, real asshole that one," he snorted. It felt like a knife was driven into Connor's chest and he forgot how to breathe for a moment before Flynn continued, "Never liked that Robbie guy." A rapid breath of relief escaped the lighter haired twin, taking a gulp of his Guinness. Quinn's brother looked at him, "You ok, you look like someone punched you in the gut."
"He's fine, just got some bad news about a girl," Murphy said, trying to hide his smile.
"Ah, I feel ya buddy, well gotta get back to my team. Last round before we head back to base," he walked away downing the beer.
"What the fuck Murph," Connor growled slapping his brother.
"What are ya gonna do," he rolled his eyes. Connor hit him again.
"Boys," Noah stopped them, "Enough," he took a drag from his cigar, "She's in good hands me boy. Don't make me tell ya again."
Wedding planning commenced immediately after the joyous news was spread far and wide. Quinn left most of it to her mom and Rome, since her school schedule filled up most of her time. The couple agreed on July 17th of next year. Giving Quinn time to get her class schedule cleared and time to find everything for the day to be perfect. It was going flawlessly until 6 months into their engagement. Rome, Amanda and a few of Quinn's bridal party from school were at a dress shop having a good time, Quinn trying on dresses and Rome directing her sister to dresses that would not make the bridal party look ridiculous.
"Ah, Rome," she whined, "What about that burgundy burlap sack you forced me to wear at your wedding?"
"Please I was just trying to keep eyes off of you, you were just a child. Now this," she pulled out a silver sheath dress pressing it to her body, "is perfect!"
The red head rolled her eyes, "You're not gonna outshine me on my wedding, Roman Holiday!"
"Is that right your majesty," both girls busting into hysterics which were quieted quickly by a sharp stare from their mother. Amanda never cared too much for the nicknames the kids had given themselves.
"Your majesty," Lucy asked, her blonde curls covering her left eye, "Isn't that what that Irish guy used to call you? What was his name? He was so fine," her questions were inherently innocent but they stabbed Q in the chest.
She took in a sharp breath looking between Rome and her mom, trying desperately to hold back her tears. She hadn't thought of Connor or Murphy in ages. Not that she would ever forget, but she had been so busy first with school and then added a wedding on top of everything they were pushed aside. She wanted Brendan more than anything at that moment. Taking a few deep breaths to stop the hyperventilating, "His name was Connor, Luce. And he was more than fine," she smiled a bit as his smiling faced passed through her memory.
"Whatever happened to him?"
"Not sure, just one day he wasn't there anymore," she lied, not wanting to relive anything that happened two years ago.
"Oh well, his loss," Lucy smiled looking at the bridesmaid dresses.
The three Cavanaugh women looked between one another; this secret might be harder to keep under wraps than they thought. The sales woman, Robin, brought in a few more dresses for Quinn to try on. She and Rome went into the room, tears spilling down Quinn's face.
"Hey," Rome hugged her sister, "Knock it off, Lucy's right, his loss, totally and completely."
"It's not that Rome, I was hoping to never having to think about the MacManus men again," she whispered.
"Well don't, put on this fabulous dress and come show everyone out there how stunning you are," she ordered helping Quinn in to an off the shoulder ivory gown. Bodice covered in lace with corset lacing in the back and full satin skirt. "Oh. My. Goodness. Who are you and what did you do with my kid sister?"
"Shut up," Quinn walked out to a collective gasp.
"Aren't you a vision," a familiar scarred voice piped up amongst the silent women. Paul Smecker stepped into view.
Quinn ran to hug him, "Paul, what are you doing here?"
"Heard Duffy was making an honest woman out of you," he smiled, all that swagger still coming off of him in waves, "Your dad told me where you were. You're getting that dress, won't know what hit him," he winked at her.
"You're coming, right?"
"I'll do my best, can I talk with you?"
"Sure," she followed him to a secluded corner, "What's this about Agent Smecker?"
"Just making sure you haven't heard anything from the boys," he raised an eyebrow.
Quinn shook her head, "No, nothing, I hope I don't."
"You'd tell me though?"
"Yes, you'd be the first person I talked to, even before Brendan," assuring him.
"Good girl," he hugged her again.
The dress was picked, bridesmaid dresses were elegant, the church and reception booked and invitations sent. All that was left to be done was the ceremony. Quinn paced in the tiny room filled with her mom, Rome and four other girls. Dress on make up half applied.
"If you don't stop, I'm sending you down the aisle as you are," Rome snapped at Quinn, pulling her down in front of the vanity. "Come on kid, the hard part is over; it's just two little words, barely syllables."
"Tell that to the dinosaurs in my stomach," Quinn said grabbing her midsection.
"What's there to be nervous about, it's not like he's gonna run he loves you too much and he'll have three members of the Cavanaugh clan after his ass if he does. Two of them are trained to hit moving targets," a playful smile crept onto her older sister's face.
"Rome," the bride complained but laughed.
"Now sit still," Rome scolded as she applied the rest of her make up. It was an array of natural pink, brought out her features but wasn't overdone. "There, perfect. What do you think?" There was another collective gasp at Quinn's reflection. The ginger hardly recognized her reflection, bright red hair cascading in curls past her shoulders, soft pink skin accented just right to make it glow and dressed in the most beautiful gown. Her lip started to quiver. "Not till after the ceremony, ya big baby," Rome said with a hug.
A knock on the door interrupted as the Colonel walked in wearing his dress uniform. "You ready…" he lost words at the sight of his youngest daughter; "Oh, Bee, you look so beautiful," his emotions were starting to break through to the surface.
"Don't you start too Daddy, I just had to tell her to stop. Yes, she's ready. Come on girls, places."
Rome, their mother, the rest of the bridesmaids and flower girl left leaving Frank and Quinn alone. He hugged Quinn, "Can I take back my permission and lock you up forever?"
"Daddy," she said softly.
"I know Bee, he's a lucky man," he held out his arm, "You ready?"
She took a deep breath, "I am now," she took his arm.
He walked her to the archway meeting up with the wedding party. The string quartet started up and the Mindy went first throwing flower petals like confetti, just like Rome that one. Then Rome went followed by the 5 bridesmaids. Quinn took a few deep breaths to settle the dinosaurs in her stomach as Pachelbel's Canon in D started up. The ginger looked at her father who gave a smile, patting her on the arm. Her veil was lowered and the walked steadily together toward the awaiting Brendan. Not having seen him in two days, her eyes were glued to her dashing detective; he looked good enough to eat in that tux. Brendan saw her coming in her gown and lost his breath, Dolly had to hold him up as his knees buckled.
They arrived at the pulpit, "Who gives away this woman to this man?"
"Her mother and I do," Frank said in the strongest voice he could muster. He handed her over to Duffy.
The priest started the ceremony, "Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to join Brendan Duffy and Quinn Cavanaugh together in holy matrimony." He continued citing scripture and prayer until the vows, "The bride and groom have chosen to write their own vows, Brendan."
Duffy nodded, "Quinn, as I told you in the interview room which seems like a lifetime ago, you're safe. You are safe with me, I will never let any harm come to you. You keep me guessing everyday; make me laugh and cry and think. You turned my world upside down and I thank you for that. You've made me so very happy by agreeing to marry me. I accept the challenge to keep you happy and loved for the rest of our lives together. The answer to all my boyhood prayers is you," he kissed her hands, placing the ring on her finger.
Quinn dabbed away a few tears, "Brendan, you made the impossible possible. You kept me sane," a few laughs echoed through the church, "I never would have been able to get through that mess without you. I am thankful everyday that mess pushed us closer together. I have never loved someone as much as I love you. You care and take care of me, make me laugh and let me make mistakes. I couldn't ask for a better lover or friend and I get both in one handsome green eyed man," she placed his ring on.
"If there are no objections," the priest paused for a moment, "Do you Brendan take Quinn to be you lawfully wedded wife?"
"Do you Quinn take Brendan to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
"I do," she smiled.
"By the power vested in me, I now pronounce man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Brendan pulled Quinn into him, gripping her waist firmly and kissing her. The audience cheered as the couple walked back down the aisle, bells ringing, music playing and shamrocks being thrown at the happy couple.
The reception, held at McGinty's for the very generous discounted price of free at Doc's insistence, was hopping. Tables moved to the far corners of the room so dancing could commence. It was a happening party for about two hours. Then just Doc, behind the bar, Duffy, Dolly, Greenly, Smecker and Quinn, and a few party stragglers remained. The five of them sat around the familiar booth raising toasts to anything they could think of. Quinn stood, a bit wobbly, and raised her glass, "To Connor and Murphy MacManus, without whom I never would have met my husband!"
"You a friend of the bride or groom," a stray guest asked the man standing in the door as he lit a cigarette, staring at the couple.
"Both," he blew out a puff of smoke.
The tipsy girl smiled at him, "Isn't she beautiful?"
"Aye," he took another drag, "Even more than I remember," he said smiling, taking one last look at the red head that used to be his before walking away.