Disclaimer: I don't own Baby Daddy and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
The relationship between Danny Wheeler and Riley Perrin was irrevocably changed on what started out as a normal Saturday. Ben had asked her over to baby-sit since he had to work, Tucker was out on a date with his latest girlfriend, and Danny was meeting up with some friends from work. However, when Danny's plans fell through, he returned home to the apartment and grinned from ear to ear when he saw Emma and Riley playing a game together. "You're amazing with her. You're going to be a great mom someday, Riles."
She looked up at him and smiled. "You say stuff like that all the time. You're so sweet. Look who is home, Emma. It's Uncle Danny!" Riley adored Danny and Emma's relationship since he was so sweet with her. Emma was very lucky to have the family she did.
"Hey, Princess. Are you having fun with Aunt Riley?" He walked over to his niece and held his arms out. Emma giggled and held her own arms out, which led to Danny and Riley transferring the baby between them. He kissed the top of Emma's head and started swaying with her. Riley thought it was adorable and mentioned that fact to him.
"Hey, it's no big deal. I don't mind hanging out with my two girls." He cringed and hoped she hadn't noticed the slip. Then again, she hadn't noticed any of his other attempts at telling her how he felt. It was driving him a little crazy how oblivious she was actually, but Danny would never mention it. He was terrified of rejection.
And while Danny was thinking about how much he loved Riley, she suddenly had an epiphany. The realization hit her like a bolt of lightning and she panicked. Danny was in love with her. He had to be – His behavior over the past few months since he had moved back to town and Emma's arrival suddenly made a whole lot more sense. And now she felt stupid for not realizing it sooner – Danny had told her he loved her, but she assumed it was to help her. And oh God, how long had he felt this way? Who was Girl X? Was she Girl X? Did Tucker and Ben know? Was that why Tucker had "accidentally" destroyed Danny's journal? Riley opened her mouth and closed it several times, unsure of how to broach this subject. And how did she feel about him? She still liked Ben, but Danny was also great. She wasn't sure what to do now. Finally, she just gave up and said the first thing that popped into her head, which proved to be a mistake. "You're in love with me!"
Danny froze and stopped paying attention to Emma's babbling. He sat the baby down in her playpen and stared at Riley. "What? That was random. Where'd you come up with that idea?" He had a really bad feeling now and just knew this wasn't going to end well. He ended up being right, but he had no idea how bad it was going to get. If he had, he would have tried harder to deny the truth.
"Oh my God. Holy fuck, I'm right. You are in love with me. How long Danny?" Her heart was pounding a mile a minute and she couldn't believe this was happening.
"I'm not in love with you!" Danny cringed at the volume of his voice – He hadn't meant to screech like that, but it was too late now. He really didn't know why he was denying the truth, but he later realized it was because of fear of rejection. He didn't want to lose Riley in any way.
"Yes, you are. Tell me the truth, Danny!" Riley didn't know why she was pushing it, but she had to know. This was pretty important, and she wasn't about to let it go. It was probably why she wanted to be a lawyer.
Danny picked up on that too and he laughed nervously. "Where did you even get that idea, Riles? It's crazy! You know, you'd make a really good lawyer." He tried desperately to think of another topic so the subject could be changed, but his mind was blanking. He really hoped Emma would start crying or need a diaper change or something so he could bolt the fuck out of there.
"Danny, just stop. You told me yourself a few months ago! You kissed me and we never brought the subject up again, but I clearly should have. It's okay – Tell me the truth." She steeled herself and prepared for him to finally tell her the truth.
He wasn't sure how much longer he could do this, but he broke and just gave in to her line of questioning. It was clearly too late now to deny anything, and he had to be truthful. What if she felt the same way about him? Danny had to take the chance. He just hoped this didn't fuck up their friendship at all. He really should have listened to his gut feeling about the situation because that would have saved everyone from heartbreak. "Yes. I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you since high school and I never stopped."
"Oh my God." Riley was definitely seeing things more clearly now and she couldn't believe Danny had helped her out with Ben when he had feelings for her. That was pretty selfless behavior, but she pushed that thought away because it wasn't important at the moment. Now she was freaking out beyond belief.
"Yeah. So, what are you thinking about?" He wasn't sure he wanted to hear it, but he had to know that she had forced the truth out of him.
Unbeknownst to Danny and Riley, Tucker was eavesdropping from the hallway. He had forgotten something and had come back to get it. Their conversation had stopped him dead in his tracks and he had to listen to it. He hoped this didn't end badly for either of them, although he thought it might since Danny's previous attempts at telling her how he felt hadn't gone well at all. Tucker had a plan to interrupt them if things got too heated.
"I can't believe this. Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Riley's emotions were all over the place now, and were warring between anger and fear. There was a little bit of happiness in there too, but she squashed it. Now was not the time to be happy.
"I guess because I was afraid. And you're in love with Ben! I want you to be happy and that's it, even if it wasn't with me." That was the truth – Danny loved her and wanted to be with Riley, but he'd be happy if she was happy with someone else, no matter how much it hurt. And he had been hurt a lot lately. He was pretty much used to the pain now.
She scoffed. "I can't deal with this right now."
"What are you doing?" Danny panicked some more and watched her grab her purse.
"I'm getting out of here, Danny. I can't do this. It's too much. You're too much." She was aware that she was hurting him, but she needed to get the hell out of that apartment right that minute. Riley couldn't face him right now because she had to process everything.
"Riley, don't. It's okay. I won't make you do anything you don't want to do. Just please don't just go!" He hated that he was begging, but he wanted to stop her. Danny had a feeling that if he let her walk out that door he'd never see her again.
"I'm sorry." She turned around and fled, not even noticing Tucker outside. He stared after her in shock and then went back into the apartment. Danny was just standing there looking heartbroken and like the rug had been pulled out from underneath him.
"She doesn't feel the same way about me." Danny's knees felt weak and he slowly walked over to the couch. He had been afraid of this for a long time, and now his worst fears had come true. What if he had fucked up everything between them? What was he going to do then? He hoped he hadn't lost her for good.
"It's okay, Danny. Really." Tucker was at a loss on what to say or how to comfort him. He had tried to help him out a lot these past few months, but he hadn't ever expected it to work out this way. Because he was worried about Danny being alone, he texted his girlfriend and cancelled their plans, hoping she would understand. He'd find some way to cheer his friend up.
"I figured she'd at least understand, but she just left." Danny couldn't stop picturing her fleeing – in disgust? Probably. How could he ever think she'd feel the same way about him? He was just Danny Wheeler's hockey player brother. Ben clearly won out over him and probably always would. He was just the third wheel in Ben and Riley's relationship. He hoped his brother knew that he was an idiot for not realizing that he was lucky to have Riley in his life. Danny would make sure that they'd get together and be happy – It was the least he could do for Riley. He'd gracefully bow out and leave Ben and Riley to start a relationship. Riley could be Emma's mother, and he and Ben could have more kids. He'd just continue to be cool Uncle Danny – It was working for him now.
Tucker was worried about his friend, especially since Danny seemed lost in his thoughts and heartbreak. "Danny?"
He startled. "Yeah? What's up, Tuck? You want to go to the bar and get drunk?" He needed a release from the pain that was overtaking his entire body. Why was he freezing? That was weird.
"Um, no. We have Emma. We can get drunk later, I guess." Tucker would normally encourage Danny to get drunk, but he thought that would make things worse. And he wasn't sure how much worse it could get, although he could imagine it. He figured the next week or so was going to be extremely tense and awkward. Tucker had no idea how right he was although it was going to last longer than he thought it would.
"Oh, right." Danny had forgotten about his niece and desperately hoping she would cheer him up. He needed to be happy, at least for a few minutes. So he picked Emma up and started playing with her, wishing that she'd help. The baby did distract him, but not for very long since she got tired and needed her help. After setting her down in her crib and watching her fall asleep, Danny headed back into the living room and plopped himself down on the couch again.
Eating a snack in the kitchen, Tucker eyed him worriedly. Danny was being unusually quiet and he didn't like that at all – It wasn't like him. He wondered if he should bring in the big guns and call Bonnie since she would know what to do. She wouldn't let him wallow in despair like this. So he texted her and told her that Danny needed her as soon as possible. Luckily for them, Bonnie was there within twenty minutes.
"What's up, sweetheart? You look sad." Bonnie had been surprised to see a text from Tucker, but now she understood why he had called. Her son clearly needed her.
Danny had been in the same spot for a while now and refused to move. His voice broke when he started to talk and he berated himself for it. "I told Riley how I felt and she doesn't feel the same. She just left and I haven't seen her since." He wanted to make this up to her somehow, but he didn't know how. What was he supposed to do to reassure her when it felt like his entire world was collapsing in on itself? He had never had to deal with this before.
"Oh, sweetheart." Bonnie sat down next to her son on the couch and listened to him tell the entire story with some interjections from Tucker when Danny forgot something. She had known about Danny's crush – and then love – for Fat Pants since high school. She had thought it was a victory when he had finally admitted it to her before. She had figured maybe Riley would feel the same way about him, but hadn't held out much hope. And Bonnie was glad she hadn't. She just hoped that Fat Pants didn't run to Ben and make this entire situation even worse than it already was.
"Why did I tell her, Mom? It was a mistake." He should have kept on denying it until the bitter end and gone on pretending that everything was normal. Danny wanted to go back to yesterday when Riley was still oblivious and hadn't hurt him. But it was too late and now they all had to live with the consequences.
"Never think it was a mistake. You would have pined after that girl forever if you hadn't said anything and you know it. Telling her was the right thing to do because now you know she feels about you. You can move on and find someone else to fall in love with. Someone who won't hurt you." Bonnie stroked his hair, something she normally wouldn't get away with, and just thought. She didn't think this was the end of Danny and Riley's relationship at all, but she wasn't about to give her son false hope. He had to face the facts.
"It doesn't feel like the right thing to do." Danny was relieved that Riley knew now, but that was completely overshadowed but what had occurred afterwards. He had lost his footing and didn't know how to get it back.
"I know it doesn't know, but it will later. Once the pain fades and the scars go away, you'll be okay. This day will haunt you forever, but it doesn't have to define you or anything. Tucker, why don't you take my son out and get him drunk? Maybe a one night stand will cure him." Bonnie didn't think it would, but she had to make him do something to get his mind off his love for Riley.
"Will do. You'll take care of Emma? She's napping in her room."
"Sure I will! Always love spending time with my granddaughter. Are you nuts that I wouldn't stay?" She planned on sneak attacking Ben when he got home and telling him the truth. He had also been in the dark for far too long and Bonnie didn't like that.
"Fine. Come on, Danny. Let's get drunk and have some fun." He literally had to drag Danny out of the apartment and to a bar – Not Ben's, though, since Tucker didn't think that would go over well. Danny needed to get drunk with some total strangers. They ended up bar hopping the rest of the day, but Danny didn't go home with anyone. He ended up making quite a few potential one night stands crying by telling them his story, however. They each encouraged him to try again and get back up on that horse, but he didn't listen because all he could think about was Riley. He didn't think he'd ever be able to move on from her, no matter what his mother said. They stumbled into the apartment at four in the morning, drunk off their asses. Luckily, they didn't wake Ben or Emma.
Ben had been shocked when he got home earlier and was promptly ambushed by Bonnie. He felt incredibly idiotic for not realizing his brother had feelings for Riley earlier and sympathized with him when he heard how Riley had reacted. Bonnie pulled no punches – She also told him how Riley felt about him because she couldn't take his obliviousness anymore. The truth needed to be out before more people got hurt. She wasn't about to let that happen.
By Friday of the next week, Riley finally worked up the courage to return to the apartment. She and Ben had had a long talk a few days earlier, and he informed that while he was flattered she liked him, he didn't feel the same way about her and valued their friendship. He didn't mention Danny, however, because he wasn't sure how to bring it up.
Danny was in the middle of making a sandwich when Riley showed up and he just couldn't stop looking at her. They hadn't seen each other since that disastrous Saturday and were unsure of how to react. It was definitely awkward as Riley ignored him, and Danny didn't say a word to her either. He didn't know what to tell her – He was still hurting from her reaction and subsequent disappearance.
Tucker and Ben felt like they were in the middle and tried to run interference between the two. They made sure they didn't sit together once it was time to eat dinner – pizza from their favorite place – so Danny and Riley didn't have to interact other than what was necessary. However, they went for a napkin at the same time and their hands accidentally brushed. Danny pulled his back fast, as if he had been burned. And in a way, he had.
Riley glared at him, but didn't understand why. She had no clue why she was so angry about this. Danny had been truthful with her and she should have appreciated it. But she was furious instead and decided to lash out because it was much easier. "Nice manners, Wheeler. You always treat a girl like that?"
Danny floundered, suddenly confused. He had no clue why she was reacting like this – She wasn't the one whose heart had been stomped on and smashed to pieces. "What did I do? I just went to get a napkin, Riley."
She rolled her eyes. "You were rude."
"I was rude? I haven't even seen you in days because you panicked and left!"
Ben and Tucker took their plates – and the pizza box – with them and headed into the living room to avoid the train wreck that was happening. Neither wanted to be in the middle of this situation – It was too late now, but they could avoid it as much as possible.
"You know what? I left because I wasn't sure what to do. I'm out of here." Riley quickly finished her slice of pizza and went to leave.
He laughed bitterly. "Running is what you do, isn't it? Riley Perrin apparently can't face the truth. You're scared and you can't take it."
"Fuck you, Danny! I don't have to listen to this." Riley was aware of her behavior, but didn't care. She stormed out, unaware that she had left her phone on the table. Ben would return it to her the next day.
Danny sat down and put his head in his arms. Somehow, instead of getting better, this situation with Riley was getting worse and he didn't know how to fix it. And he did want it fixed, but was at a loss on how to get everything back to normal. Hell, he'd even take friendship with Riley at this point, no matter how much it hurt.
Riley and Danny's run ins continued for the next few weeks. It was awkward, but ignoring each other – even in the apartment – seemed to work. They just avoided each other and pretended like the other wasn't there. It was killing them both, but neither sure of what to do or how to mend their friendship. Bonnie, Ben, and Tucker were constantly caught in the middle and made sure to hang out with both of them separately as to avoid any more fights. It worked, at least most of the time. Sometimes fights did erupt between Danny and Riley, but they made sure to avoid them as much as possible.
"I can't take this anymore – Danny and Riley are driving me crazy." Ben was stressed out now and he wasn't sure how much longer this could go on. Danny and Riley needed to sit down and have a mature conversation for once. This had been going on for a month now, and that was entirely too long.
Bonnie sipped her drink and shrugged. "It may to be too late to do anything now, sweetie. I'm not sure if this can be repaired. And I think Riley's just scared, but lashing out is easier and it's making things worse. We could lock them in a closet."
Ben stared at his mother. "We are not locking them in a closet. Are you nuts? Something has to break eventually." And he was right about that, but he didn't know that yet.
Tucker sighed. "I feel like they're my parents and it's creeping me out. We need to think of a way to get them back together, even as friends." He had a constant headache from all the stress Danny and Riley were causing.
Things finally came to a head about five weeks after that. Exhausted from trying to fix something that seemed broken forever, Tucker, Ben, and Bonnie finally gave up. And then Danny was in a car accident and injured badly.
He was rushed to the hospital and then emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding, one of the numerous injuries he had suffered. Ben took a chance and called Riley, terrified and worried about his brother. She stopped what she was doing and immediately headed to the hospital.
Fear – a familiar she was familiar with ever since Danny had confessed he was in love with her – enveloped Riley. She sat in the waiting room with them and just waited to hear what was happening with her best friend. Bonnie was in a chair crying and desperately hoping her son would be okay. Since Ben had freaked out so much, Tucker had called Ray, and he and Steve were on their way, too. Emma was with a neighbor since no one had wanted her in this place.
A surgeon finally came out into the waiting room several hours later to inform them of Danny's prognosis. Riley had had all that time to think and had come to a startling conclusion about her behavior for the past two months. If Danny survived (Why was she thinking that like? He was going to survive since he was a fighter, dam it.), she would try her best to make it up to him.
"Is he okay?" Bonnie bit another one of her fingernails and tried not to panic some more. Ray gripped his ex-wife's shoulder in support.
"He's pulled through, but the next forty-eight hours will be critical. Along with the internal bleeding, he's broken fingers, his left arm, and suffered numerous contusions. We fixed the internal bleeding and are giving him a blood transfusion. We're confident Mister Wheeler will recover, but again, he's still critical." The surgeon turned around and left.
Bonnie breathed a sigh of relief and her knees buckled. Steve and Ray led her over to her chair and sat down next to her to calm her down. Riley started crying out of relief, while Ben and Tucker beamed in happiness. They were still worried – and probably would be for a long time – but maybe now they were past the worst of it.
When Riley went home that night, she sat down in her kitchen and started to sob. She had been so afraid that Danny would die – and still was actually – and now she didn't know what to do next. She couldn't believe how she had acted since finding out how Danny felt about her. And that's when she finally figured it out. Riley Perrin was in with Danny Wheeler. And she had been hurting him ever since she had found out, something she now deeply regretted. Maybe her reaction had been a result of fear? She wasn't sure, but she hated herself for it. Danny was the sweetest guy she knew, and she had hurt him over and over again. She would make sure to try and fix that once he got better.
Danny steadily improved over the next forty-eight hours and was aware enough to finally talk to his family on day four. Riley was the last one to stumble into the room and waited awkwardly at the foot of his bed. She wasn't even sure how to start the conversation, let alone tell him she had finally pulled her head out of her ass. Would he ever forgive her? She wasn't sure, but she hoped he would.
Everyone filed out of the room to give Danny and Riley a chance to talk – They couldn't waste any more time. Danny was still a little angry and hurt, however. He was not about to let her off the hook. "So, you've seen I'm okay. Why are you still here, Riley?"
Riley cringed, but took it. She deserved his anger. "I'm here because you're my best friend. I'm so sorry, Danny. You have no idea how much I regret my actions and how I wish I could change them."
He sighed and tried not to wince when one of his stitches pulled a little. "Well, you can't change them at all, so why don't you get out and leave me alone? You don't even want to be friends with me anymore, so I guess that's that."
Riley tried desperately to hold back the tears because one, this was her fault, and two; she wasn't giving him the satisfaction of her crying. "I'm so fucking sorry. I freaked out and I shouldn't have. I should have stayed and talked to you, but I was just terrified. And I have no excuse for my actions, but I want to fix this." Against her better judgment, she sat there and wept, waiting for his reaction.
Danny could never handle Riley crying and this was no exception. "Fine, we can talk. But after I get out of here."
"I can do that." And she would wait until he was discharged. It was only fair since she had apparently kept him waiting for years.
And for the first time in a long time, everything started to return to normal. Bonnie, Tucker, and Ben were relieved and just hoped they worked everything out. They even had a bet going that Riley and Danny would finally get together, something the two didn't find out until years after the fact.
Danny was discharged from the hospital three days later with instructions to not overdo anything. He was benched from hockey for the rest of the reason, but all his coach – and the team – wanted him to do was get better.
Riley finally worked up the courage to talk to him only two days after he got home – She had played it off as wanting him to re-acclimate, but everyone knew the truth. Bonnie, who had temporarily moved in to help her son, pulled Tucker and Ben into Emma's bedroom and closed the door so they could eavesdrop.
"So, what's up, Riles? You look terrified over there." Danny eyed her warily; unsure of what she was going to say to say to him.
Riley sat down and nervously cracked her knuckles. "I just want to apologize again. I am really so sorry, Danny. I don't know what came over me and why I repeatedly hurt you like that. I never meant to, but I panicked and lashing out was the easiest thing to do. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to make this up to you."
Danny gingerly bumped her shoulder, careful not to jostle any of his numerous and painful injuries. "It's okay. I do forgive you. And I understand why you did it, even though it did hurt a lot." He still loved her and would probably forgive Riley for anything.
That was Riley's next question. "You still love me after everything I did?" She would understand if he didn't and then try to move on.
He nodded. "Duh. I've never stopped loving you, Riley Perrin. Don't think I ever will. What about you?" He was terrified of her response. What if she said no? But what if she did have feelings for him?
She closed her eyes for a minute and tried to work up the courage. When she finally did, she opened them. "I realized how much of an idiot I was after I was called about your accident. What if I had lost you? Thinking about what could have potentially been our last words opened my eyes quite a bit. And then I realized that I am in love with you. I'm pretty sure it happened after Ben got Emma. You're so good with her and you're such a sweet person." She was terrified of his response.
And Danny was terrified too, but for an entirely different reason. What if she only felt this way because of what had happened? He wouldn't be able to handle it if Riley took it back. So he mentioned it to her. "I had to ask, I'm sorry."
"No, no, don't be sorry. I get it, Danny. It's a legitimate question. And the truth is, the accident may have opened my eyes, but I was falling in love with you long before that. I think it's one of the main reasons I freaked out so much when I figured out that you love me. Probably why I ran like that in the first place. And I will regret everything I've done for the rest of my life."
Danny was elated and he would have jumped up and down in happiness if it wasn't for his injuries. He settled for grinning from ear to ear instead. "I love you, Riley Perrin. And I'm going to prove it to you for the rest of our lives."
She teared up again. "I love you, too, and I very much look forward to that." She took initiative and kissed him. He leaned in happily, but Riley pulled away a few seconds later when he groaned in pain.
"I don't appreciate this accident ruining this." He wanted to kiss her as much as possible, but couldn't when it hurt so much.
She gave him a small peck and beamed at Danny. "The accident didn't ruin anything, Wheeler. We'll make up for the lost time as soon as you heal."
"And I look forward to that." He leered at her and she would have slapped him, but remembered not to.
It had been a long, painful road to love, but Riley and Danny looked forward to the next chapter of their lives together.