When she reached her house, all the lights dim and not a person in sight, she realized how lonely she had become. She had given up on Matt when her infatuation with Nico had not gave way with the distraction that she hoped Matt would provide. She continued to date Matt even when she noticed Nico's dwindling presence. She hadn't considered herself best friends with Nico, but she had considered him her rock and confidant. When she couldn't speak to Matt about something without him trying to add in some sport related advice, she had realized how much she loved getting Nico's feedback and advice. He was always around, except now she realized he wasn't and probably didn't even want to be.
All Dani could think about while getting ready for bed was her hurting heart and the tears she was holding back as she came to the conclusion she would forever be alone without Nico Careles in her life. Considering his actions as of late that wasn't very likely to happen either.
Finishing his 1500th meter Nico could feel his muscles reacting to the strain of his nightly routine. Well, nightly as of late, he had switched from 5am swimming to 1am swimming when he realized that showing up to Dani's like he loved doing, was only hurting him more in the end. Nico had come to the slow and devastating conclusion that Dani wasn't and probably wouldn't ever know how much she meant to him. Nico had never found himself unwillingly, much less unknowingly deeply in love with a woman like he was experiencing with the Hawk's shrink. He missed her so much, and the only way to relieve that pain at night, or to keep him from parking outside her house and just wishing she would notice him, was to do his grueling workout during the time he normally spent with Dani. Since she had found Matt, and Nico had interrupted them, he no longer felt needed or as close to Dani as he wished he could be. So Nico decided to stick with what he knew best, enduring the pain and pushing his sorrows out through his swimming.
Swimming. Just thinking about the fact that he had this little small detail that no one knew, even Marshall who knew all his dirty little secrets, made him chuckle. He had been swimming since he was 8, part of the reason he chose Navy Seals. His swimming had put him in as an easy bet through training and basic. Sure enough, he beat all the other Seal records and even set a few that have held their own since he left. 30 years later, and he still swam daily. Even on those days when he hadn't slept for weeks, he always swam. Especially since the Hawk's facilities had a private pool that only 3 or 4 of the 100 players used. Even then the hours Nico chose to swam guaranteed him a secret swim session. He loved the water, the feel of cutting through a natural force and releasing his tension with the strokes he took. He could sit with a brick and just mold over his issues under the depths of a pool. Something no person had ever accomplished in the Seal's was the underwater restraint breakout. Nico had found it a fascinating challenge and with his ability to hold his breath easily he excelled quickly through Navy forces after his victory.
As he took a shower he thought back to his visitor. The only downfall of his swimming sessions, he found his focus completely gone in swimming. No telling how long that person was sitting there observing him. He got lost in the blue depths, sometimes he thought it reflected his life. Dark, deep and lonely until someone is brave enough to dive in, but even then, only able to stay in his heart for a short amount of time. He had an idea who the visitor could be, but sadly knew there was no way his luck would ever be that great. There was no reason for her to be in the stadium at this hour, he suspected she was tucked in at home safely asleep and curled in Matt's arms.
As he dressed, he contemplated running by her house just to check. Knowing that would only lead to him sitting at the top of her driveway and feeling sorry for himself he shook his head and started the trek to his car. He always parked it the furthest from the pool in case someone did come looking. The maintenance people all knew his vehicle so when nightly cleaning time came, if it was in the lot, they would leave and come back. Perks of being a scary Navy Seal he supposed. Crawling into his car and starting the engine he whispered Dani's name and drove home. Pulling into his driveway he shut the car off and sat for a few more minutes contemplating going to Dani's for the 30th time since he left the stadium. Again shaking his head, he grabbed his keys, workout bag, and walked to his floor. As he entered he set the coffee pot to brew knowing he was in for another restless night. Settling on the couch with his current read and a cup of Italian coffee, he resigned himself to another lonely night.
Dani awoke to small amounts of light shining through her blinds. She stretched and then remembered the night she had experienced, the new revelation along with the secret she unknowingly revealed to herself. Sadly, she started her morning routine. Dressing professional and just finishing the touches of her makeup, she jumped to three loud knocks on her door. It being only 6am she wondered who would already need her assistance. Walking briskly down the stairs barefoot but with her suit on, she peered through the blinds on her door window. Stopping momentarily, almost unsure if this was a dream, she recognized his handsome face and now saw the contours of his body that his suit used to hide from her eyes. Blushing and taking deep breaths she opened the door slowly.
"Nico? Haven't seen you in a while, what's going on?" Stepping aside for him to enter as she finished her sentence, she already began into the kitchen and hitting the on button for her coffee maker.
"Just a small bit of business Doctor, I assure you nothing pressing. I figured you would be up early. We have a new client for you, she is a soon to be national cheerleader for the Hawk's funding campaign. She however is having issues with fear of heights and stage freight, something she hasn't dealt with since early childhood." Stopping briefly to make his cup of coffee, he also handed hers made just how she liked it. "Her name is Annabelle Victorocia. She used to be a cowboys cheerleader. So Marshall wants her issues taken care of swiftly and before the first game." He took a sip of his coffee and waited for her response. Taking in her facial features and how beautiful she always looked to him, he noticed she had a shy and hurt look in her eyes. He also noticed that when she caught him observing her she would try avoiding his gaze.
"That's fine Mr. Careles. I will schedule her first appointment with Marshall and have him rely the details to you." As she turned her back, he could see her shoulders starting to hunch in a hurt display, obviously trying to dismiss him while being on the brink of a break down.
Suddenly Nico was overcome with his fierce need to comfort her, figure out what was wrong, and fix it. But, he knew that wasn't his place anymore, it was Matt's. Then another revelation happened, where was .
"Doctor Santino, I do hope I didn't disturb you and your partner." Seeing her shoulders tense he knew he hit a nerve. His question was what nerve was that? As she turned, his fears became reality along with his dreams. She looked torn and sad at the mention of a partner.
"Nico, there is no partner to disturb, so don't worry about it. If that is all, I think I have some things to do before my first appointment. Thank you for letting me know the update." She started to walk to her front door, but he did something not even the great Nico could control. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her into a hug. Hearing her reach behind him and place her coffee mug on the counter as she placed her hands on his back, he felt as well as heard her sigh into his chest.
"Danielle, whats wrong? What happened?"
She pulled away from him, only slightly at first. Then watching the emotions pass her face he noticed one of hurt and anger as she broke away completely from him and crossed her arms across her chest in a defensive manner.
"What? Suddenly you are worried, or interested in my personal issues again Nico? I haven't seen you in 3 days, and suddenly you care."
"No, I won't get my hopes up only to have them crushed."
"No, Mr. Careles thank you for doing your job, but I'm going to kindly ask you to leave."
Nico looked her in the eyes as she finished her statement, noticing the tears about to be shed. It tore him to see such pain across this woman's face. All he wanted was to kiss them away, but she still had her arms crossed and her face still contorted in anger. So he frowned and with his shoulders sagging in grief, he left her house. Looking back through the door he could see her silhouette fall to the ground and shake with tears. His heart felt a piercing pain he didn't know it was capable of feeling.
As he started the drive back into work, he also gave a bit of a gasp when he realized what she had said. No matt, she was alone. That moment, his knuckles tightened on his steering wheel as he promised he wouldn't let her stay that way long. He would be hers and she his, only as soon as he could make her realize his love.
God, how he wanted to jump in a pull and stroke through his fears and stress.
As she slid to the ground after closing the door, the tears came that she didn't even try to stop. Not caring that her applied makeup is currently running down her face, or that her suit will probably be ruined. All she could feel was heartache at the man who was leaving.
When the sobs and tears finally quit she headed back upstairs to change and try and appear presentable for her first patient. When the time came she would grieve for her lost love over Nico Careles, right now she has to fix other people's problems.
(Late that night)
After TK had finally left she felt even more beat down then before her first session. All she wanted was to be held by Nico once again and sleep peacefully after he kisses her stress away. Looking at the clock it dawned on Dani that she knew exactly where he would be. The pool. Running upstairs to change, not caring that her heart and mind was screaming that this could be leading straight to heartache again, she changed into sweats and a teeshirt and ran out of her house to her car.
Arriving to the stadium Dani suddenly felt less confidant about the whole "Charge in, interrupt sexy swimming, makeout" plan that she had constructed when leaving her house. At that moment, the song she loved, and the song that now helped her replay the events to Nico's secret being revealed came on the radio.
The moment I said it
The moment I opened my mouth
Let in your eyelids
Bulldoze the life out of me…
I know what you're thinking
But darling you're not thinking straight
Suddenly things just happen…we can't….explain.
As the last sentence rang out in Dani's car, she turned off the engine and grabbed her keys. Running to the stadium as her heart won over her conscious, all she could think about was watching Nico again. As she skidded to a stop infront of the pool door she felt her heart swell at the sight of him swimming and the song playing once again over the radio. Opening the door and walking over the shadows she sat and watched again. Her heart starting to beat to his strokes, her breaths in sync with his, she knew she made the right decision.
Curling himself under while flipping for his 700th meter he suddenly felt the familiar sensation of someone watching him again. Coming to a stop after doing another rep he paused the radio. Looking around he caught sight of someone's outline in the shadow. His breathing in sync with this person's giving her away even with being shadowed from his view.
"Dani?" Pulling his goggles off his face, and lifting himself out of the pool, he stood to his full height, almost feeling insecure with his swim speedo on. He also realized if this wasn't Dani, that he just gave a lot more away than just his workout methods. So he began to speak again even before his mind could stop him. "Dani if that is you, please just come out of the shadows."
Standing and stepping into the light, she took in his reaction. His eyebrows shot up, while his eyes darkened alittle. He stood alittle broader with strength and confusion written across his face.
"What are you doing here Dani?"
She took a couple steps closer and told him about how she came upon him by mistake the other day. Not giving away her lonely thoughts or missing him. When she finished her story, his arms loosened and hung by his side.
"So that was you the other day?"
"How did you know?"
"I didn't. I….just kind of assumed."
Stepping closer still, she looked into his eyes. "How come no one knows how magnificent you are in the water Nico? Why does that have to be a secret too?"
"The Navy knew. Why do you think I became a seal? Dani, its just not something I share. No one would understand my need for water, especially since it started when I was so young."
She started to turn away, but said something so quiet he almost missed it. "I miss you Nico." As she continued to the door he couldn't help but intercept her path after that sentence tore at his heart.
With her eyes down and muttering the one sentence she hoped he heard she started towards the door. When she collided with a solid wet body she almost fell backwards when two strong and naked wet arms surrounded her, holding her upright. Looking up she saw that Nico had moved into her path and caught her, with her breathing stopped she squeaked out a question.
"Nico, what are you doing?"
"Making up for lost time, making up for allowing my stupidity to push you away, making up for not being there when Matt was a fool, but most of all making up for not doing this along time ago." Leaning in so that her forehead was against his, her nose pressed against his, and their lips just almost touching. He hesitated, giving her a way out, but when she closed that last space between them his heart soared. Their lips met softly once, then with both gasping they collided, two forces held apart for far too long. The kiss before was only a whisper compared to the passion and angst this one had. She moaned softly as he slid his wet hands into her ponytail to hold her head at the right angle so that he could kiss her deeper. When the need for air became apparent he pulled way, still resting her foreheard lightly against his.
"Dani, I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you, I just thought.." She silenced his rant with another kiss that made him crush her body to his. He moaned and growled all at once as she raked her fingernails on his scalp while pushing off his swim cap with one hand, while the other slid between them up his abs.
"Nico, please take me home." She looked into his eyes, and he saw tears start at the uncertainty his pause gave her. "If you want that is, I mean, wow. I assumed.." He silenced her this time by turning with her in his arms to press her against the wall and crush her against him all the while capturing her lips in another toe curling kiss.
Taking another break Nico moaned "God Dani. I'm so happy. I'm not dreaming right?" Dani groaned and slid her hand onto his growing length that was hard enough to peak out of his swim speedo. Nico's sharp inhale in break and loud growl gave her the strength she needed.
"Nico if we are dreaming, I could care less. Just please take me home. I miss you and I need you."
He pulled back and looked at her with a breath taking smile on his face. "One condition Danielle Santino."
Her face started to fall as he finished his request, "This swimming secret never leaves us. Along with the secret of my heart, that will be yours if we leave this stadium. If you don't want the loaded package that I come in, then say it now Dani before I can't help but do what I've always dreamed about for the rest of our lives together."
Dani had tears in her eyes as she ran to the chair she sat in, grabbed her keys and phone and grabbed his hand after he dressed in his sweats and put his stuff away.
"Nico, tonight is what I've been waiting for since I met you. Matt was a distraction that didn't work, and my dreams have always never been enough. I want you, I need you, and after what you just said I have hope when I say I Love You Nico Careles."
Dropping everything in his hands he swept her off the ground and kissed her so hard she was sure she had bruises. But she didn't care as she moaned and whimpered with need while he kissed her like that. "Danielle." Between Kisses he continued to speak sweet words she dreamed of at night. "I"
"You, Danielle, My Danielle."
When he set her down he grabbed all their junk and practically dragged her home. When they got home, and entered the house together Nico and Dani's beating hearts became one. The love they made cherishing the fact that they now had each other and neither would ever have to be lonely again.
All because Nico had dropped his guard while swimming, and gave up on being lonely.
All because Dani missed him and gave up on Matt.
All because Love brought them together.