Hello all you happy readers! I know I said I'd probably continue Walking The Tightrope, but this was just calling my name! This is a chapter fic with the second part done already, but that won't be for at least a day or two.
This is spoilers for the finale as well as my take on what they have in store for us this winter. Read and enjoy, and please let me know of any feedback you have. I hope you like it, enjoy!
"You got something to ask me Matt?"
"Is there something you wanna tell me Nico?"
The conversation was still fresh in Nico's mind as he watched the way Matt flirted with Noelle no more than 50 yards from him. He was well aware of the ploy to get the player from Denver, but the relationship that arose seemed hollow in the wake of their situation. He knew that Dani and Matt had been together until recently, but the brief conversation the day after his kiss with Dani had put things in perspective for him. Their kiss had been spontaneous and heated, but the exhaustion and need for human companionship seemed to outweigh everything else. He wouldn't deny that he hadn't enjoyed it, but the real question was whether or not him and Dani were on the same page. He'd asked her point blank why she kissed him, and it just so happened that he had a situation that couldn't wait. Matt seemed to be more than willing to speak to him about it, but the only person's opinion that mattered was the very person he had been dodging for a month. Matt's blatant inquiry was understandable, but that didn't mean that her rejection was any easier to swallow.
"You seem to be in deep thought Nico"
He turned, smiling slightly at the sound of her voice, welcoming the minor distractions from his mind that he couldn't seem to shut off.
"Vera, I thought the Hawks were in the clear?"
"The Hawks are Nico. Does that mean I can't just stop in to say hello?" she smiled at him warmly, laying her hand on his arm for a second before retracting it as she turned to watch the players coming from the tunnel for practice. Just as he was about to turn back to Vera, he saw TK walking steadily at the rear with Dani at his side, his face indifferent as she kept stride with him.
He saw the way Terrance turned and looked down at Dani as she spoke softly to him, her words earning a genuine smile from him as he reached down to give her a hug. As he broke away from her, the team and coaches clapped, his return from rehab positive and welcoming. As Dani turned to watch the team huddle out on the field, he noticed that he wasn't the only one staring at her. Matt was looking between himself and Dani, giving Nico loaded looks in between bouts of conversation with the oblivious reporter. As his eyes flickered up from Matt to Dani, Vera turned in her direction and smiled before looking back at him. It gave him an uneasy feeling as he saw Dani squint at both himself and Matt separately before she made her way to a seat alone. Before Matt got a chance to make his way over to her, Purnell thankfully called him over to look over plays. He was about to talk to Dani finally when he felt a light touch on his arm. He had forgotten that Vera had witnessed the entire silent exchange and the look on her face gave him pause. She looked like she was up to something, and before he had a chance to stop her; she made her way over to Dani. He couldn't bear to watch the interaction, so he slipped back into the tunnel and headed for his office, making a few calls along the way to begin to repair the damage he has inadvertently caused.
"So, you're Dr. Santino" Dani turned to the brunette at the end of the aisle, nodding her head politely as her eyes scanned for Nico, not finding him anywhere.
"Mind if I sit? Nico had something he had to attend to"
Dani looked back at the woman, her relaxed demeanor presenting a friendly face, but the fact that this woman had something to do with Nico made her suspicious. If it was towards the woman herself or Nico, she wasn't entirely sure yet.
"How do you know Nico?" Dani asked, the question asked with forced nonchalance that both women were aware of.
"I think the better question is just how well you know Nico Dani. It is okay that I call you Dani, right? I'm Vera, by the way" Dani wracked her brain for the name but came up empty. If she was someone from Nico's past, she wasn't privy to that bit of information.
"Of course Vera. Nico and I work together"
"You see Dani, I find that entirely hard to believe" Vera replied, "seeing as how he talks about you"
Dani looked at Vera sharply, her eyebrow raising and her eyes squinting, unaware of just how much this woman knew. Nico had said that aside from Marshall, Dani was the only other person that knew him. She was starting to get the idea that he wasn't being entirely forthcoming.
"I'm sorry, how did you say you know Nico again?" Vera simply shrugged and turned slightly toward the field, distracting herself with practice for a minute.
"Look Vera, I'm not sure what Nico has told you-"
"He hasn't told me anything I didn't already know. I come back from business to see how he's doing and he can barely manage to pretend to flirt back with me. I'm not an idiot Dr. Santino, I was well aware of this thing between you and him weeks ago. I just didn't think he'd ever do anything about it"
"He didn't" Dani muttered, and shut her eyes at the sharp look the other woman sent her way. She wasn't saying that what happened was nothing, but if they were going to get technical, she was the one that kissed him. The simple fact that since they were interrupted he had been ducking her calls and managing to never be in the same place, it sent his guilt over the situation loud and clear.
"So, you're telling me there's nothing between you and Nico?"
"You're very blunt Vera" Dani said suddenly, hoping to divert the woman's attention. It didn't work.
"You're very clever Dani, I can see why he and I never worked out"
That comment had Dani fixing Vera with a look as the other woman ignored her in favor of tense silence. Dani was well aware that Nico had this secretive aura, but never did she think that there was a woman in his life, even briefly. It had been a little over a month since their kiss, and Nico had been avoiding her ever since he asked her why she had kissed him. Her silence seemed to tell him something, but in all honesty she wasn't ready to put a reason on her actions. All she knew was that it felt right, and that was all that mattered to her. The kiss feeling right had been unexpected and scared her.
"If you'll excuse me Vera, there's something I have to do before my sessions today" Dani made her way sat the woman and smiled politely, but turned back to the woman before she lost her nerve.
"You and Nico...you didn't work out because..." Vera knew exactly what the other woman was asking and gave her piece of mind, knowing that if she were at peace, Nico would be too. She liked Nico sure, but not love, and he deserved someone that could give him what he needed; Dani seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
"We didn't work out because at the time, his main focus was on trying to make sure he didn't disappoint his friend Dani. I wasn't naive enough to think I'd hold his attention the way you do"
Vera smiled genuinely at Dani and stood, making her way around Dani as she walked back down the bleachers and disappeared around the side if the field. Dani leaned against the railing and blew out a breath, unsure of what to make of her encounter with Vera. Just as she was about to follow in Vera's footsteps, Matt's sunny smile made an appearance as he bounded towards her. She inwardly cringed, but put on a good face as she remembered her hushed conversation with him before Marshall Pitman's death. She knew he was with someone by the tone and nature of the conversation, but she wasn't willing to burn her bridge with him. He was still a friend, but she had lost that sense of security with him. Nodding at him as he made his way closer, she sunk down into a seat, making room for him as well.
"Hey Dani, how's T doing?"
"He's doing well Matt, that's why he's here" she replied in a clipped tone, the residue of his moving on still rubbing at her. While she may want them to maintain that friendship, she was more than willing to put some more distance between them.
"Look Dani, I know we haven't been close lately-"
"Matt, please, can we just not talk about this?" she said tiredly, suddenly feeling drained at the mere thought of the conversation ahead of her.
"Dani, I just wanted to say I was sorry. I knew that us making a break would be best, but I honestly never thought that when you moved on, it'd be with Nico" she looked at him, shock written across her face as she regained the ability to form coherent sentences.
"Matt, how did you-"
"Remember how you called me and…it was late?" he said uncertainly, aware of the look of disbelief she threw him as she shook her head, biting her tongue to let him continue.
"I came by your house the night TK went back to rehab. I saw the two of you…" he made vague hand gestures and quickly moved on, clearly uncomfortable with the actual words, "Well, I saw the two of you. It was pretty clear that you'd already found a shoulder to lean on" he finished sadly, his eyes conveying what he wasn't willing to put into words. Dani expected him to be angry, but he seemed to accept things as they were.
"I am so sorry Matt…" he grabbed her hand and held it, his grip light as he looked into her eyes.
"Don't be. You deserve to be happy, and we each deserve the ability to try to find what we're looking for…even if it isn't with each other" he said as he squeezed her hand before letting it go, getting up to leave. Just before he turned away from her, he leaned over and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
"I hope the two of you are happy Dani, really" he murmured into her hand, pulling away and retreating back down to he field, leaving Dani there to sit bewildered as she tried to process the last half hour. The only thing that kept coming to mind was how she was supposed to be happy with Nico; he wouldn't even look at her, let alone be in the same room together for any amount of time. She had her work cut out for her, so her first stop had to be her house.
Next chapter won't pick up from this point exactly, but you'll see why it's all important. Probably a 3 chapter story, maybe 4. Keep coming back!