A/n: Well here we go. I fell in love with this show and more importantly fell in love with the relationship or potential relationship between Danny and Riley. This is as of now just a one-shot but if I receive positive feedback it could be more. Let me know what you think!
Riley usually considered herself a smart woman. She was a young woman who got into law school and was doing well in law school. She learned what she had to do in order to lose the weight she had for all of her life and she did it until she lost the weight and was at a normal, average, maybe even skinny, weight for a woman her age. That has to take a level of perseverance and self control that a smart woman has to have.
However, as smart as she was in the more practical aspect of her life, she knew she absolutely lacked in the romance department. She was doing well with Jack, they connected very well, he was funny, intelligent and sweet, everything Riley could have asked for. And yet, somehow she found herself still very much attracted to Ben Wheeler. He was her best friend growing up and yes, she did sit on his head, a lot, but it was only to hide the fact that she was in love with him. A boy as attractive as Ben Wheeler would not go for "fat pants" Riley. And whether she admitted it to herself or not, that did have some play in losing the weight. When she found herself turning up in Ben's life after a few years, she hoped to impress him with her new body, and her intelligence, but just as before, Ben saw her as nothing but a friend.
She would do almost anything for Ben no matter how much it hurt. All he had to do was turn on his charm and she'd be sucked right back in, which, she had to admit was not much like a lawyer.
Her heart still ached at the thought of the whole fake marriage debacle. She dreamed for years of what it would be like to marry Ben and now she had a glimpse and she found she didn't much like it. And yet, her heart still beat his name.
But more recently Ben wasn't the only Wheeler boy on her mind. Danny was always much nicer to her than Ben and she knew he'd protect her even from his little brother if he had to, as evidenced by his little speech.
Though Riley began to wonder if it was just a speech and he was just making good on his promise to not let her get sucked into Ben's problems or if he actually meant it.
Part of her told her that it was ridiculous. After all, no matter how different Danny could be to Ben sometimes he was still a Wheeler and in some ways even more appealing than Ben. He was taller, older, a professional athlete and could be more responsible. A man like Danny Wheeler could go out on the street, smile and have a flock of girls around him wanting to be with him. Guys like that did not go for guys like her, no matter how much she weighed.
Another part of her thought about all Danny had done for her, every time he was there for her as she whined over Ben. She thought about that time in the bar when he lied and said Ben was interested in her so she wouldn't go after Jack. She thought about how over protective and jealous he acted when he found out she did start to see Jack. She thought about the last few days when she agreed to be Ben's fake wife. The blue dress comment, which she only realized afterwards described her to a T, the way he held onto her hand as he slipped the fake ring back onto her finger, when he strangely turned up at her doorstep looking anxious but then only asking to use her bathroom, his speech and the fierce and genuine determination in his eyes and the way he held her after she thanked him, gently like she was the most precious thing in the world but his arms wound completely around her as if to lock her in place.
Riley considered herself a smart woman but when it came to love she was not only stupid, but blind.
For years she focused her heart on Ben, having it being broken over and over again by his silent denials. And yet right under nose, or better yet, standing right over her was a man who she knew for just as long as she knew Ben, who didn't ignore her except when it became beneficial for him, who saw her before she could even see herself.
She was blinded for too long by her over-zealous crush on Ben that she failed to notice Danny. She took him for granted too many times to count. And if what she thought was true, if Danny did really love her as he said, she hated herself for putting him through the same thing she went through. There was nothing worse than hearing the person you love pining for someone else, especially if that someone else is close to you and in Danny's case, his brother.
She always felt safe and happy when she was in Danny's arms but never took that as anything other than trusting him and having him as a good friend. But now, Riley began to wonder if it was a secret love that hid under her more outgoing love for Ben. Ben was the first boy she ever had feelings for but she was young and perhaps she held onto those childish feelings for too long. Perhaps that feelings of belonging, that feeling of happiness and safety, that trust that she had for Danny was more of an adult love.
There was an attraction with Jack, she wasn't going to deny that. She loved spending time with him, he made her laugh and happy but there was something missing and she thought that something missing was Ben. But what if it wasn't Ben?
She always thought she was destined to become a Wheeler. Riley Wheeler, she admitted to writing it down in her notebook and couldn't deny the perfect way it flowed, even to this day. But perhaps it wasn't Ben Wheeler that was attached to that name...what if it was Danny.
Riley's heart pounded as something swept over her. It was a feeling she got only once before in her life, when she has reached her ideal weight. The feeling that she had let go of her old life, a destructive life that would hold the real Riley back.
"Fat Pants" was gone and joining it now was the future Mrs. Ben Wheeler.
Riley glanced over at the clock and bit her lip softly. It was getting late but she knew Ben was working late so there would be no chance of seeing him. She could wait until tomorrow but her heart was bursting over her new found realization. She had to see him, she had to know.
With her mind made up, Riley grabbed her jacket and her keys and made her way out the door.
She didn't live that far from the boys' apartment building but the journey there had never seemed longer.
She debated taking the elevator but she hated the thought of waiting in silence as it slowly rose to their level and took the stairs instead. On the last couple of flights she took them two by two, her breathing just slightly out of sorts once she reached the door.
She composed herself as she stood outside their apartment door, staring at the numbers she knew by heart. It was a strange feeling to know that her pounding heart, the fluttering in her stomach was for once not for Ben. But it was freeing and exciting and nerve wracking but she was Riley Perrin, future lawyer, she could do this.
Letting out a deep breath she summoned her courage and knocked on the door. There was silence on the other end for a while and slowly her resolve began to slip. There was a chance that Danny could not even be home. There was an even greater chance that Danny could be with a girl. She didn't need to count how many times she had been to there apartment in the morning and seen a girl come out of Danny's room. What if she was disturbing a date just as he had disturbed hers with Jack?
Doubt started to pull at the back of her mind. What if she actually was wrong about Danny? What if Danny was just like Ben and saw her only as a friend? What if she misread his signals as she so often had done with Ben in the past?
Her confident smile started to slip and she bit down on her lip, about to take a step away from the door and head back home and drown her sorrows when the door clicked unlocked.
Riley held her breath, her eyes widened as she waited in anticipation. Slowly the door pulled open and she was met with the one person she was there to see.
Danny stared back at her, his brow raised in surprise and she slowly let out a breath at the sight of him. His brown hair was tussled and he was dressed in only a white undershirt and striped boxers. It was nothing she hadn't seen before of course but with all she had discovered about herself that night...Danny Wheeler had never looked so attractive.
Her eyes quickly snapped up to his before he could catch her staring at his body. Slowly his surprise faded and he frowned, a look of dejection in his eyes. "Ben isn't here." He said a bit cooly and it stung her to know why.
She shook her head slowly, never taking her eyes off of his. "I'm not here to see Ben." She whispered.
His brow furrowed in confusion and she couldn't help the smile that tugged at her lips at how adorable he looked. "Did you leave something?"
"No." She shook her head. "Well...I don't know, maybe, sort of?" She sighed in frustration at how flustered she was becoming. She never got this way around Ben. "Can I come in?"
Danny looked clueless but he nodded and stepped aside, letting her into the apartment. A small smile tugged at her lips as she looked around at the living room, baby stuff thrown all over the floor and then once she was fully into the room, turned back to look at Danny.
Danny closed the door behind her and stood in front of her, looking back at her curiously.
She let out a quiet laugh and glanced quickly down at the ground, finding amusement at the fact that she was standing there, feeling this way, and about to have this conversation with Danny and not Ben. But somehow it still felt right, strange, but right.
"What's going on, Riles?" Her heart fluttered at the nickname and she bit her lip, looking back up at him.
"I need to ask you something." She stated firmly.
"Alright..." He nodded, still looking confused.
"It's about what happened at the bar the other night." She continued confidently, despite the pounding in her heart. Danny's eyes suddenly widened slightly and she could see the beginnings of a panic on his face. She licked her suddenly dry lips and keeping her eyes on his, took a step towards him. "When you told me you were in love with me...you really meant it, didn't you?"
Danny now looked like a deer caught in headlights and she could immediately see the change in him. Despite his size, Danny always carried himself lightly, confident yes but never rigid. He stood rigid now, his shoulders tense and his arms pressed flat against his sides as if he were facing a lion instead of her. His chest fell heavily up and down and then slowly his eyes closed and he nodded silently.
A flood of emotions passed through Riley at that moment. Even with his silent confirmation she almost couldn't believe it. Danny Wheeler was in love with her. And what was even more unremarkable was she might love him too.
A smile spread across her face and she took a few steps forward, opening her mouth to say something when Danny cut her off with a heavy sigh.
"I'm sorry Riley. I shouldn't have said anything, it was stupid and impulsive and I don't know what I was thinking." He moved around the couch, running his hand through his hair, his back now facing her. "I wanted you to know but," He sighed again and shook his head, "I should have just kept my big stupid mouth shut."
She frowned and slowly started to make her way over to him as he continued to ramble, "I know you're in love with Ben and I know that nothing will ever happen between us. So we can just...forget I ever said anything at all."
She reached out, slipping her hand onto his arm, pulling his attention to her. Her eyes implored his and her heart broke at how sad he looked.
"Danny." She whispered, her tone serious and his brow twitched. She smiled warmly, and squeezed his arm gently and a look of confusion filled his eyes followed then by a twinge of hope.
"Don't be sorry." She shook her head, her smile growing. "I'm glad you told me because it made me realize something."
"What?" Danny whispered breathlessly.
"That I was the stupid one." She could see Danny beginning to protest and she held up her finger to shush him, giving him a pointed look. "For years I was chasing after a childhood dream, that childhood dream being Ben. But I'm an adult now and I'm making a brand new life for myself, one that doesn't include silly childhood crushes. I was holding on too tight to my feelings for Ben that I failed to notice more real feelings developing for somebody else."
Once again, a sadness passed over Danny's eyes and he sighed dejectedly, "Jack."
She scoffed, rolling her eyes and whacked him across the arm. He jumped, startled, staring back at her wide eyed. She grinned back at him, amusement dancing in her eyes.
"Not Jack! You."
Danny blinked at her in silence as her words processed in his brain and then his eyes widened in shock. "Me?"
"Yes." She smiled up at him tenderly. "You." She let out a breathless laugh as she rubbed her arm shyly. "I feel so dumb that I never noticed it before. How you felt for me, I mean, and when you told me I started to think about it and I realized...the only person I can truly be myself around is you. Nobody, not even Ben, makes me feel as whole as you do." She met his still wide and shocked eyes and smiled. "I trust you more than anyone else in the world and you make me happy, you make me feel safe and loved. No one has ever made me feel like that before."
A smile, his lovely smile, began to tug at his lips but he still wary. "What about Ben?"
She rolled her eyes. "What about Ben? Danny, I am done pining over Ben. I saw what it was like to be with him and I don't want that. Ben and I, we're not compatible and I can't believe it took me this long to realize that."
Danny's smile slowly grew. "And you think we are? Compatible?"
Riley bit her lip softly with a smile as she nodded. "I do. I mean, we won't know for sure until we give it a try." She stared up at him in anticipation.
Danny's eyes lit up in hope as a smile crossed his face. "Try? As in..."
She grinned up at him and lifted herself onto her toes, grabbing the back of his head, threading her fingers through his hair and bringing their lips together in a kiss. She felt him gasp against her and he hesitated for only a second before his hands found rest at her hips.
The kiss didn't last long, just a few seconds nor was it too deep. It was just enough to prove the feelings they had were real. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open, her hands trailing down to rest at the base of his neck as she sucked in her bottom lip.
A week ago she probably would have laughed at the thought of kissing Danny.
But she had never felt like that while being kissed by anyone else. It was a brand new, exciting, thrilling feeling. One that she hoped he felt just as much as her.
She held her breath waiting for him to respond in any way. Finally, his eye lids fluttered and opened to reveal captivating blue eyes, staring back at her in awe and with such adoration that her heart nearly melted into her shoes.
Simultaneously they both smiled, their matching grins threatening to take over their whole face.
"You kissed me." Danny stated dumbly and Riley giggled, tightening her arms around his neck.
"Yes I did."
"And it wasn't weird..."
She figured Danny must have gotten the notion into his head that she would think it was weird and not too long ago she probably would have.
"Surprisingly no." She shook her head. "It just felt...right."
"Yeah." He whispered, dazed. "It felt absolutely right." But just then he seemed to snap out of his love sick daze and he pushed her away from him, furrowing his brow with a frown.
Her own smile faltered and she lowered her hands to her sides, staring up at him curiously.
"What about Jack?"
She sighed in relief, worried he would say something much worse. "Jack doesn't matter, it wasn't that serious with him anyway. I thought it could be but," She shrugged, her smile returning to her face, "I think I may have found someone better."
She crossed her arms over her chest, raising her eyebrows pointedly.
"Oh! Me! Right!" He grinned sheepishly and she laughed quietly, shaking her head slowly.
"Danny, what am I going to do with you?"
"Well," He snuck a quick glance over to the clock, "It's not that late. You could always come out for a drink with me." His brow rose in anticipation, a slight worry in his eyes as if he actually expected her to reject him.
Her eyes lit up as a grin split her lips. "I'd love that."
"Really?" He beamed and she nodded. "Great! Let's uh, let's go!" He started to head towards the door and she pressed her lips together to stifle a laugh.
She scratched her eyebrow lightly. "Uh - Danny?"
He paused, looking over his shoulder at her. She motioned to his body and he looked down, noticing his current dress, or lack there of.
"Oh." For the first time in their entire life Riley actually saw Danny Wheeler blush. He laughed softly and scuffled off towards his room. "I'll be out in a sec."
She nodded to him with a smile as he disappeared into his room. She let out a soft sigh, wrapping her arms around herself as she sat down on the arm of the couch.
It was still hard for her mind to wrap around that she could be feeling this way for anyone other than Ben, feeling this way for Danny, but she wouldn't change it for the world.
Danny came out less than two minutes later, dressed in a pair of dark wash jeans and a purple shirt (she always thought purple was his color) and his hair neatly combed through and he wore a smile as bright as the sun.
Riley slowly rose off the couch, this time not even trying to hide the fact that she was eyeballing him. "Looking good Wheeler."
He squared his shoulders smugly and she laughed, the pure sound even music to her own ears.
He walked in long strides across the small apartment and held out his arm like a true gentlemen. "Shall we?"
She smirked and linked her arm with his. "We shall."
Their eyes locked for a long moment, matching smiles adorning their faces and then Riley subtly titled her head towards the door and together they walked out the door knowing things between them would forever be changed for the better.