Title: Our DNA Combines Beautifully (Because You're the Beautiful One)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Inspiration hit me and wouldn't leave until I wrote this! And I really want to see Danny apologize to Mindy on the show for some of his hurtful comments during their early working days. This is set in a happy, fluffy future universe. Please comment if you read, thank you!
Credit for the first baby name goes to luna_dove at livejournal who posted a Danny/Mindy fic with the name, and I fell in love with it. Thank you to devilishdiva84 for reading the piece first, and credit goes to anderspants at tumblr for the icon caps.
"Hey, what's up with Izzy?" Danny asks as he stands at the kitchen counter making sandwiches for dinner. He officially does most of the cooking in the family, while Mindy at least has the ability to scrounge up something for lunch. Well, she does buy an impressive assortment of cereal to provide choices at breakfast time, and can order takeout for dinner without a hitch. But some nights, it is necessary to feed their children something nutritious, and that's where Danny steps up.
"She... had a bad day," Mindy answers hesitantly from the living room where she's reviewing patient files.
"Just, girl stuff." Mindy waves her hand vaguely as if that answers the question.
"What kind of girl stuff?"
"Jeez, Danny, nosy much?" she jokes as she grabs a bottle of water from the refrigerator. She stands next to him and snatches a carrot from the salad he's tossing together. He nudges her playfully and she says, "It's one baby carrot, you won't miss it!"
"If you mean am I nosy about my own daughter and what's happening in her life, then yeah, I am," Danny replies back. "So, what happened?"
"Oh, god, she didn't get her period, did she?" Danny turns to Mindy in horror, the salad forgotten as he begins to stutter in dismay. "Because I am not ready for her to-"
"What? No! She's five! Seriously, did you even go to med school?" Mindy shakes her head at him and giggles at his pure panic.
"Oh, right. Yeah. I just... I thought maybe..."
"Seriously, Danny, you have to get over your period fears. You have two daughters now, it's gonna happen one day."
"Just tell me it didn't happen today."
"It didn't happen today."
"So what did?"
Mindy pauses and looks up at the staircase to make sure Isabelle isn't eavesdropping. She knows her daughter's been holed up in her room all afternoon to spend some time by herself, but she still fills Danny in using her hushed don't let the kids hear voice. "Okay, don't get mad..."
"Why would I get mad? What did you do?" Danny grabs the platter of sandwiches and the salad bowl, and follows Mindy to the dining room table. He peeks into the playpen and sees that little Emma is still sleeping soundly.
"I didn't do anything! Rude," Mindy scolds, hitting his arm playfully. "I didn't mean get mad at me," she points at herself, "I meant get mad in general."
"Who would I need to get mad at?" Danny asks curiously as he waits for Mindy to explain.
"I don't know, let's see. Izzy's classmate Jessica, Jessica's mom, the principal, the Board of Education, the media industry, the universe." Mindy ticks off all those choices on one hand and takes a breath to continue on the other, so Danny puts up a hand to stop her.
"Okay, stop. Just tell me what happened."
Mindy takes a deep breath to begin telling the story. In the end, all she says is, "She called her fat."
Danny's eyes widen and he raises his eyebrows in surprise. "Who called who fat?"
"We'll, not fat, per se," Mindy clarifies, "the actual term used was 'bigger'." She uses air quotes for emphasis and scowls as she says the word with clear disdain, her eyes flashing with anger. "They girls were playing outside at the end of the day, and Izzy wanted to go on the seesaw, but Jessica made a comment about how she'd rather go on it with Molly because they're about the same size and Izzy's bigger than her and the seesaw wouldn't work right with her on it."
Danny takes a moment to digest the recap, and another moment to control the flash of rage that's roaring through him. "Are you kidding me? Izzy? Our Izzy?"
"Yes, our Izzy, Danny. There aren't any other Izzys in the neighborhood."
"She's not big! She's perfect. What the hell is Jessica talking about?" He tries to remember that they're talking about a five-year-old who doesn't even know how to read yet (while Izzy can already read most of her Dr. Seuss books by herself, the ones with all three-letter words at least), but that fact is really hard to remember right now when he thinks of the fact that someone, regardless of their age, hurt his daughter's feelings.
It's a fact that's hard for Mindy to remember too, because she says, "I know! She's such a bitch. I had her pegged as one when I brought in cupcakes for their class last month and she had the nerve to ask whether they were gluten-free. Like, what the hell, kid?"
"She's an idiot! Izzy is perfect. She's normal. No, she's not normal, she's special. She's beautiful," Danny says, correcting himself as he begins to pace in the living room out of pure frustration.
"You don't have to convince me, babe, I'm the one who gave birth to her," Mindy reminds him, as if it's something Danny could ever forget. That's not likely to happen considering how many times she uses the I was in labor for hours giving birth to your child line on him to get her way. "Anyway, she was crying in the car-"
"Oh, god. She was crying?" A pained expression crosses Danny's face as he thinks of his baby girl shedding tears. "Crying tears?"
"Yes, Danny, human tears." Mindy reaches out to pat him on the arm reassuringly, because even after all these years and two pregnancies with plenty of hormone-filled roller coaster rides of emotion, he's still not comfortable around crying women. Mindy tugs him to the couch so he's no longer a flurry of frantic movement.
"As I was saying, she was crying and I talked to her about self-esteem and self-concept, and the media's unnatural portrayal of beauty, and how puberty will eventually kick in and put all little girls' bodies through hell, and how there's only like, a .04% chance that Jessica's dream of wanting to become a singer will come true. There's only one Kelly Clarkson, thank you very much," Mindy declares offhandedly. "Then we went for ice cream and I took her to the bookstore."
"Then why's she still in her room?" Danny questions, glancing at the stairs as if expecting their daughter to make an entrance any second now.
"She's probably reading her new books or coloring, duh." Mindy rolls her eyes at his dumb question, as if that was obvious. "How was your day?"
"My day? What?" Danny shakes his head at her casual question when there are much bigger matters to discuss, like who to hurt for making his daughter cry. He's thinking about starting with anyone related to Jessica in any way, and tracking down the inventor of seesaws for his involvement in this too. "Min, what are we gonna do?"
"Danny, we can't do anything," Mindy explains with a sad smile. He looks even more worried at that answer and she rests a hand on his cheek in reassurance. "The world sucks sometimes. And girls can be bitches. We just have to remind our daughter that she's beautiful and perfect and flawless and we love her. That's all we can do."
"Great." Danny stares at her with even more emotion swirling in his gaze. "You make it sound so easy, but-"
"It's not. I know it's not. Trust me, it's not," Mindy repeats wisely. She only says a few words, but her voice carries years of experience about dealing with this matter. Danny wraps an arm around her in reassurance and pulls her against his chest. "And it'll only get harder, because some girls turn into even bigger bitches as they grow up. But we can do it."
"Yeah." Danny nods into her hair, inhaling the familiar smell of her citrus shampoo and whichever celebrity perfume she's trying out this month. "We can do it."
They sit for a minute in quiet silence, breathing in unison as they take in the luxury of being at home with their daughters on a beautiful April afternoon. Danny runs his fingers through Mindy's hair while she closes her eyes and enjoys the comforting rhythm of his chest moving up and down with every breath he takes. She tries not to doze off, knowing they still have to eat dinner, and she needs to feed Emma and change her, and she has to look through Izzy's take-home folder, or maybe she can have Danny do that while she finishes her patient files, and there was a new Project Runway on last night, and she should probably do the dishes since Danny made dinner but maybe she can trick him into it, and-
"How'd your delivery go?" Danny asks.
She looks up at him with a smile, watches the way his eyes brighten as he smiles in return. "Wonderfully. She went into labor at the perfect time, right before I had to pick Izzy up from preschool."
"That's good. I could've covered for you though, if it had happened a little later. No worries."
Mindy only grins at his honest offer, her eyes lighting up as if she's recalling a fond memory from the past. She is; one from their past. "Trying to steal my deliveries again, are we?"
Danny gives her a lopsided smile, his eyes darting to her lips before he shrugs and responds. "Well, you know, it's been a tough year financially, and I have mouths to feed."
"Mhmm, yeah, okay, whatever," Mindy says back, but she leans in to kiss him, smiling against his mouth when he chuckles at their inside joke which never seems to get old. "You stalker."
"Only when it comes to you, babe." Danny turns his body toward hers on the couch, leaning in to kiss her more deeply and groaning in approval when she opens her mouth in response. She whimpers in protest when he breaks the kiss, but it's only so he can nuzzle at the soft skin of her neck. Her hands are restless as they wrap around his neck and force him to return his lips to hers and kiss her right where she wants him to. He obliges, because, hell, it's not exactly an imposition.
"Danny." Mindy mumbles his name as she pulls him closer and her hands grab at his shirt for leverage. She's become more horizontal than vertical on the couch and she has no problem with that whatsoever. Neither does Danny it seems, because his hands slide under her shirt, his warm fingertips dancing across her stomach and trailing up her-
They stop immediately when the sound of a crying baby fills the living room and interrupts the ambiance of their impromptu make-out session.
"Augh! Why does my own flesh and blood have the worst timing?" Mindy asks in frustration, sexual frustration, glaring at Danny as if it's his fault. Which it is. His fault for giving her a child, and getting her all hot and bothered on the living room couch and not being quick enough to finish what he started. They have two kids under the age of five, they're supposed to have perfected quickies by now.
But, no, not Danny Castellano. He likes to take his time.
Thinking about that isn't helping the butterflies in her stomach disappear or douse the feeling that her skin's tingling all over, so she pushes him off her and hurries to pick up Emma from her playpen. The one-year-old quiets immediately now that she's in her mother's arms. "I'm sorry, baby girl, your daddy distracted me." Mindy drops a kiss on the baby's forehead and looks at Danny accusingly.
"No, I didn't!" Danny argues. "You distracted me first."
"Okay, this is pointless. Do you want to breastfeed your daughter," Mindy jostles Emma in her lap as if clarification is needed, "or tell your other daughter to come eat dinner? Pick one."
"Yeah, the second one," Danny answers quickly.
He smiles to himself when he hears Mindy singing an Adele song to Emma as he heads up the stairs to call Izzy down for dinner.
"Hey, kiddo. Whatcha up to?"
Izzy Castellano's eyes light up and she smiles as her father comes into her room and sits down on the floor next to her. "Drawing a picture for Uncle Morgan's bulletin board."
Danny examines her latest drawing with much consideration then says, "I like it. But we don't have any dogs."
"Those are the strays Uncle Morgan keeps at the office."
"He's still keeping them there?" Danny asks in surprise, but his daughter clams up and reveals nothing more. "I need to have a talk with Uncle Morgan."
"Don't tell him I told you, Daddy, he's my favorite uncle!" Izzy looks pained at the thought that Morgan may get angry at her.
Danny bites back a smile because that's not even remotely a possibility. Morgan dotes on Izzy so much that they've had to put a cap on how much he can spend on her at once. Last year, he overdrew from his bank account by spending hundreds when they went to Chuck E. Cheese's, all because he was determined to get Izzy the life-sized pink pony stuffed animal. He didn't seem to understand people use their tickets from multiple visits to win the big prizes. He was determined to win it in one go. Danny and Mindy only found out when he couldn't afford the co-pay for his pills that month. After that, a spending limit was set.
"I won't tell him, I promise," Danny assures her, "he won't know a thing. It's time for dinner."
Isabelle nods and begins putting crayons away into her supply box. She arranges them in rows, stacked one on top of another so the tips all point one way. Danny smiles because he does the same thing, unlike Mindy who throws them haphazardly into the box without a thought about order or arrangement. It still surprises him when he notices his traits in his daughter; it humbles him.
She's a mix of her parents' coloring with the same dark hair and dark eyes, but everyone says she looks more like Danny, and acts more like him too. She's quiet, and a great artist, and she loves to play the piano with him, hitting random keys and making him smile when she asks in seriousness where the music comes from. She patiently talks to Emma to reassure her when she cries, and she always turns the television off the first time they ask when they announce it's bedtime.
She's perfect. She's absolutely perfect.
And she's whip smart too.
Izzy judges the silence and catches his eye as she finishes putting away her art supplies. She says quietly, "Mommy told you, didn't she?"
Danny sighs and knows there's no point in lying, so he nods. "Yeah. I'm sorry, baby. That girl is absolutely stupid and has no idea what she's talking about. You are perfect. You're a Castellano, we're all perfect."
She grins at him and nods. "That's what Mom said."
"Exactly. Don't listen to that girl. You know, your mom and I were big kids when we were little." Danny can't believe he's actually bringing up his own chubby stage from childhood, but anything to make his daughter feel better, even picking at his own insecurities. "You remember the pictures you saw of me at Grandma's house?"
Izzy can't help but giggle, although she's polite enough not to outright laugh in his face. "You looked different."
Danny grins at her statement, because she's so damn adorable and they've raised the sweetest kid. "Of course I did. I was a kid. Everyone looks different when they're little. You're still growing, and you're healthy, and that's all that matters to your mom and I. Got it?"
Izzy nods dutifully in understanding and he marvels again at how she got so big so damn fast. He swears it was just yesterday he was setting up the nursery and sweating an ocean when Mindy went into labor. "Hey, maybe after dinner, we can walk to the park and I'll go on the seesaw with you, okay?"
"Absolutely. The swings, the slide, anything you want, babe." Danny stands up and reaches down to pull Izzy into his arms, smiling in success when she squeals and laughs at the sudden movement. "But for now, dinner time."
"Don't get mad at Uncle Morgan, Daddy, he's your best friend."
"Okay, Izzy, if you say so."
Mindy doesn't bother looking up from her iPad, but makes a sound of acknowledgement that she's listening. Danny swallows nervously as he gets into bed. He can already feel his hands becoming sweaty and he surreptitiously wipes them on the covers as he looks at Mindy next to him. God, she's beautiful.
Hearing those words from him has Mindy intrigued enough to put down her iPad and look at him in surprise. "Oh, no. What did you do? Who do I have to apologize to now? Because I told you, Mr. Rowan already said sorry for putting his trash in our trash can last week. Do not march over there again and-"
"No, no, not that. I saw him this morning, we're cool."
"Okay, good." Mindy looks relieved for a moment before she thinks of something else. "Did you hurt Morgan's feelings again? Cause I'll have to invite him to dinner again to apologize and it's been like, the fourth time this month already."
"Although it does give me an excuse to get the girls all dressed up for dinner!" Mindy's eyes light up at the thought of Emma's extensive wardrobe. "Gwen got Emma the cutest little sundress from Saks the other day, I have to show you." She moves to rise from the bed but Danny grabs her arm and pulls her back, not letting her go and making him the focus of her attention again. "Right, sorry. You were saying something. Go."
"I just..." Now that Danny has her attention, he feels like a jackass again, but he takes a deep breath and starts to talk. "Back before we were, you know..." Danny waves a hand between them as if that's the exact physical definition of the word he can't seem to find.
"Um, before we were what?" Mindy furrows her brow in puzzlement as she tries to follow along. He's gotten better in the communication department, but every now and then, there's a relapse she has to deal with. "Together? Intimate? Married with kids? In bed before ten o'clock?"
Danny snaps his fingers and points at her in success. "Yeah, that. All of the above. There were times I would give you a hard time about your... about..." He stumbles over the words then finally blurts it out, shame sweeping through his veins. "Your weight."
All traces of laughter vanish from Mindy's face and her body stiffens. Danny tries not to feel hurt, because those feelings from the past don't belong here in their bedroom today. It was from their history years ago, a part of the story they had to live through before arriving at a future of coming home to a townhouse in the Village together, carpooling their daughter to preschool, and arguing over closet space in their bedroom. (Mindy wins. Mindy always wins.) It's not how things are today, yet the mention of how they were still causes Mindy to look away from him and stare at her hands in silence. He itches to touch her, but gives her a moment and tries to finish saying what's been bothering him all afternoon.
"I'm sorry. I was a jerk. I mean, I'm still a jerk, but I think I've become less of one since I somehow managed to convince you to marry me. I mean, you got a really bad deal there," he jokes sardonically. "Thankfully our kids aren't crazy sweaty. And they're the sweetest kids in the universe because you're their mom and-"
"You're not a jerk," Mindy interjects. She looks at him, smiling slightly when he stops talking abruptly with pure relief and gratitude on his face. "I mean, you're a little bit of a jerk, but you wouldn't be you if you were completely cured."
"Well, thanks." Danny ponders over her words, and decides to accept the compliment anyway. He doesn't deserve anything at all considering the horrible comments he'd made when they first started working together. He has no excuse but he'd been insecure about Christina cheating on him, and he felt like his territory at Shulman & Associates was being breached. Mindy was just so everywhere - her clothes, her personality, her decorating the office, bringing color into his life when he was determined for it to stay gray and bland and boring. It had been so damn frustrating.
It was also hard to resist.
He is so glad he gave in.
Danny eyes her again and hesitantly reaches for her hand, letting out a sigh of relief when she doesn't pull away and instead, scoots closer towards him on the bed. He lowers his voice like he does when he's about to get emotional, as if he's uncomfortable there may be someone listening in and could blackmail him with the words or something. But there's no one else, there's only Mindy staring back at him, her brown eyes warm and inviting, her hand soft and familiar in his own clammy one.
"I'm sorry if I made you feel bad, if I ever hurt your feelings. You're beautiful, and you're perfect, and..." His eyes dart to their bedroom wall, and Mindy knows he's thinking of Izzy whose room is next door. He's thinking of their Izzy and how she shed tears today, real human tears, because of a comment someone made about her appearance. It makes her heart ache too. She had enough of those comments when she was growing up, hell, even after she was grown up, and now she has to endure it when her daughter hears such things too. "Our kids are beautiful and perfect because, well, because they're part you. And I love you, and... that's all," he adds as he finishes lamely with a shrug.
Mindy smiles at him sweetly, her grin beautiful and bright even as her eyes water with unshed tears at his heartfelt words. It's not often Danny gets sentimental. He goes more for subtlety than making grand declarations - the lingering brush of his hand against hers when they're at work, bringing her a snack on his way home, picking up a copy of People magazine if she complains hers hasn't arrived yet, and staring at her with such appreciation that it takes her breath away. Usually the declarations are quiet, in between touches and moans when they're in bed together, but those fall in a whole different R-rated category altogether.
"You're getting mushy on me, Castellano," she teases even as she leans in to give him a quick kiss.
"Sorry." But he smiles gratefully as he pulls her into his arms and they lay down facing one another. "I should have pulled a Tom Hanks and brought you daisies."
"Oh my god, that would have been amazing!" Mindy squeals at the reference and squeezes his hand with pride. "Except I like orchids, remember?"
"Of course I remember. How could I forget?" He pulls her closer so he can kiss her, their lips settling into a seamless rhythm without a moment's pause. It's been years of kissing, years of sleeping together, years of dinners and breakfasts, of dirty diapers and dirty dishes, but the spark is still there. It feels like the time they survived a heavy bout of turbulence on a flight home from Santa Fe, when all they felt was their hearts beating wildly and the touch of each other's hand assuring them they'd made it out alive, igniting the idea of them for whenever they'd be ready to embrace the possibility.
Danny breaks the kiss and looks down at her. Her lips are wet and swollen, and she's breathing heavily; she's never looked more beautiful and sexy. That is, until the next moment he looks at her and she takes his freaking breath away. He places a trail of kisses down her neck and murmurs, "I don't forget anything about you."
"You forgot our anniversary last year," Mindy comments, her tone trying for scolding, but she mostly just sounds breathless as his warm hands caress up the soft skin of her stomach.
"I didn't forget!" Danny lifts his head at the accusation and tries to defend himself. "I was gonna remember when I got to work and looked at my calendar. You didn't give me enough time!"
"Stop. Don't even. That's not an excuse." She shakes her head at him in amusement, smiling broadly as her hands make quick work of his t-shirt. "I forgive you though. For all of it," she adds meaningfully when they lock eyes.
Danny swallows and nods at the words, his hands tightening around her as if he never wants to let go, as if he's so lucky to be holding her right now in this very moment, and in the moment after, and in the moment after that. "Thanks."
Mindy kisses him, and he kisses her back, and this time, there's no Emma to interrupt them.
He brings her a bouquet of orchids the next morning when he goes out for lunch, and she kisses him passionately right there in the waiting room. Morgan separates them and sends them to their individual offices to cool off, saying something about the office being a place to deliver babies, not make them.
They end up conceiving baby number three there a couple months later anyway.