Title: A Wedding Song--- Chapter 1--- Time in a Bottle....

Author: BuffyAngel68

e-mail: vg68@msn.com

Rating: PG

Category: Romance, Romance, Romance! (Okay so there should be some angst and a little adventure thrown in as well, but.... the title says it all!)

Summary: This will take you up to and through Bobby and Darien's commitment ceremony. Grab tissues and prepare to bawl until you can't bawl anymore! (It makes a very slight detour into song-ficly type areas near the end, but it really isn't one! Trust me, the appearance of any music is plot-driven and I set it up way back. Song-fic haters don't you dare abandon me! Have faith!)

Notes: Love truly is a wondrous and miraculous thing. May we all find in reality the perfect love we adore helping our borrowed fictional characters find. I'm not making any money off the characters (unless you count my fee as wedding planner) and they're not mine nor are they anybody else's at the moment. (Shoot and tarnation and gol-darn-it! I really need to get my T.V. executive mind control device finished. Maybe with a change or two I can use it on fan-fiction site owners too....)

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"You said yes?" Claire squealed elatedly, wrapping her arms around Bobby. "I've been praying he'd find the courage to ask you! Congratulations, sweetheart!"

"Thanks, Claire.... Hey. Wait a minute. How did you know before I knew?" Hobbes asked, pulling away a short distance.

"Darien and I had a little talk. He wanted advice on whether he should bring up the subject. He was afraid you'd reject the idea out of hand. I'm so glad you didn't!" she cried, hugging him again.

"Not that I don't enjoy this, Claire, but I'm an engaged person now...."

"Oh, yes! Of course." she replied, moving away from him, but her prim and proper fa├žade lasted only a moment. Instead of making the faux pas of embracing Bobby again she directed her excess exuberance into leaping and dancing around the lab for a few minutes while Hobbes watched in amusement.

"An' I thought I was excited...."

"What? Oh, sorry." she apologized when she'd finally wound down. "It's out of my system now, I promise. Come sit down and tell me everything! I want every detail." She enthused, leading him by the hand to the admin. chair.

"Not everything. Some of those details.... they're private. I'll give you the good stuff though. We were sittin' on the couch together like we do sometimes. When one of us has somethin' to tell the other that could be hard to say, or it's really serious, the one who's gonna listen stretches out one leg on the sofa an' the one who's talkin' sits with his back to the other one's chest...."

"Oh my God... you cuddle. How utterly adorable...."

"I thought you wanted to hear this."

"I do, I do! Pardon my outburst of femininity. Please continue."

"Okay. See, I've got a couple things I'm workin' through in therapy... things Fawkes didn't know about. Nobody did 'cept me an' my shrink. I... I told him about one of 'em the other night. We both bawled, he thanked me, said he loved me.... an' said he hadn't been totally sure before, but now he was.... That's when he asked me to marry him."

"What did he say exactly? Give it to me verbatim!"

"Sheesh, when you decide to be a girl, you really go for it. Lemme think... it ain't exact, okay? I think he said, 'Will you stand up with me, in front of Claire an' Eberts an' get committed."

"Bobby... that can't be right."

"Hang on... oh yeah. It was 'will you *make* a commitment to me, to our baby an' to our love."

Claire shut her eyes, squeaked again, pushed off with one foot and began to spin around on her lab stool, both arms wrapped tightly around herself. When she finally slowed to a stop and opened her eyes they were slightly crossed, eliciting a guffaw from Bobby.

"Gives a new meanin' to dizzy dame...."

"Yes, it does... doesn't it. Am I still rotating... or is it the room?"

"It's your head. Give it a minute. And don't do that again. It makes me nauseous to watch."

"Sorry... I'm just so happy for you and Darien! After all you've come through to be together and to have and keep your child... noone deserves it more than the two of you. Have you talked about where's and when's yet?"

"Well, seein' as you an' Ebes are the only guests, I was thinkin' our place would be the easiest. We could have the reception right there, make it simple for everybody. When.... well, we ain't sat down to hash that out yet."

"Oh, Bobby. He hasn't contacted his family?"

"Not once durin' the whole pregnancy. I tried to talk to him about it, but he just keeps sayin' he's got a real family now. Says he wants to leave everything that came before Bobbi an' me in the past where it belongs. I can see his point, I guess."

"Does that mean you won't be calling Vivian to tell her you're getting married again?"

"Oh, right. I'm gonna call Viv an' tell her I'm in love with my partner, my *male* partner, he gave birth to our little girl an' now we're gettin' hitched? I got my meds right up in my office. I can go get you some if you want..."

"If you tell her that she'll wonder just what medication you're really taking. Tell her about Darien yes, but when it comes to the baby just tell her what's on the birth certificate and the paperwork Eberts got for you."

"What? That Bobbi's mom died in childbirth? I could, yeah, but.... it's not worth it to drag up all the hurt again. Darien's right. Leave the past in the past an' move on."

"It's going to be hard to make any sort of forward progress with her dragging at your heels, Bobby. Darien has his own breaks with the past to make. Perhaps if he sees you're able to deal with yours, he'll be better able to face up to his."

"I don't *want* him cuttin' off his aunt an' his grandma. I'm still workin' on getting the three of 'em together."

"I was talking about Kevin, actually."

"We dealt with that back at the cemetery that day..."

"No, you didn't. You comforted him and told he didn't have to think about it anymore just then, that you'd straighten it out between the two of you later on. Then came Arnaud's death and Liz Rendell and the baby... Unless you did talk it out and I never heard about it, he hasn't gotten the closure he needed."

Bobby gave the concept several minutes of serious thought, then spoke his conclusion.

"Yeah.... but that's blackmail. I can't do that to him."

"It may be blackmail, but it's also necessary for both of you. Don't drag any old, festering issues into this marriage if you don't have to. Both of you start with a clean slate."

"Clean slate. That sounds really good, ya know? It'd feel even better. Thanks again, Claire. You're the best.... even if you are a dizzy dame." Bobby told her, initiating the hug this time.

"I think that was a compliment."

"Trust me, it was. Ah, crap! Briefing in ten minutes! I gotta run. You comin'?" he asked as they separated.

"I'll be right behind you."

"You always have been. Don't think we don't appreciate it, either." Bobby said just before he rushed out the door.

Glad he couldn't see the flush that his words brought to her cheeks, Claire gathered up the papers she needed for the briefing and followed him out, locking the lab behind her.

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"That's enough, Alex. Either you calm down or you go somewhere else. The three of them will be here any minute and I won't have you standing at my side if you can't maintain control."

In response, Alex merely clenched her teeth, tensing the muscles on both sides of her jaw, and forced out a few words.

"Easy for you to say."

"Stop complaining about it and do it! Within two weeks my new assistant will be here and you'll be back in the field. I promised you that, didn't I?"

"You also promised that Fawkes the freak and that hairless Chihuahua he calls a partner would get what they deserved. Planning on making that happen any time soon?"

"The child is protected. I told you that."

"You have yet to tell me why."

"It's none of your business, Alex! They're here.... Just shut up and don't speak unless you're spoken to!"

As Claire, Darien and Bobby filed into the room, Alex systematically tuned out all of their chatter and retreated to the dark space in her mind, a lonely, demoralized place that she'd been cultivating and nurturing since the birth of the baby.

{So. Is that the way it is, Charlie? I trusted you to do the right thing, old man. You swore you had the perfect plan to pull them out of this fantasy world and back to where they belong. Now it looks like I'll have to step in and get the job done..... my way.}

"Gentlemen. Keeper. This is your new assignment." The Official grunted, tossing manila folders across the desk. The trio leaned in to grab their copies while he continued his briefing. "This one won't be easy. In fact it may be one of the hardest things I've ever had to assign. As of tomorrow morning we only have forty eight hours to pull this off. If we don't make it in time.... it's all there in your folders." The Official told them, his expression grim, his skin pale.

Bobby was the first to reach the relevant portion of the text and he immediately turned a sickly shade of green.

"You can't be serious, boss.... Even Chrysalis wouldn't... they couldn't do.... this.... It.... no..."

"I'm afraid the intel is from an extremely accurate source."

"H... How accurate?" Claire asked, trying valiantly to keep her gag reflex from kicking in.

"The source is one of the children that are slated for... inclusion in this heinous act. He managed to escape, somehow made contact with the FBI who, in their great esteem for our agency, thought he was insane and sent him here."

"Sir.... how are we supposed to stop this?" Darien asked, his voice trembling. "Fifty kids.... God... they're gonna just slaughter fifty kids.... 'cause it turns out they're not totally perfect.... how...."

"Any way we can, using any means necessary. You won't be alone. There'll be plenty of backup."

"And me? Why include me in this?" Claire questioned.

"In case any of the children gets caught in weapons crossfire, or if we can't get to them before.... I can only pray you won't be needed, doctor, but I want you there...."

"In case. I understand, sir. May I go throw up, now?"

"All of you are free to go. At 0600 tomorrow morning you're to be here and ready to deploy."

Claire and the men rose from their chairs on shaky knees and slowly left the office. Bobby wrapped an arm around Darien's waist and they supported each other over the threshold and into the hall. Only when they were gone did Alex speak up.

"I assume I'm part of the backup."

"No. I need you here to coordinate things between the office and the agents on site."

"Sir..."

"No. For the next two weeks your job is here in this office, Agent Monroe. Accept that. I need the file on Jared Stark. Maybe if I review it one more time I'll find something.... anything that might help. Monroe? Are you listening? Find me that file."

"Yes... sir."

Grinding her teeth together even harder than she had been before the briefing, Alex stalked out of the Official's office to go and retrieve the file he'd requested.

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TBC.....