A/N: Dane and Nicole are back in their "bunny" mode. If that bothers you, skip the second half of the chapter and go right to the bottom.

Epilogue: Celebrate good times

Nicole grinned to herself as she made the final arrangements for tomorrow. Closing her cell phone, she wanted to click her heels. Entering the house, she called for Danny. Going into the living room, she saw her lover was knocked out on the couch with her leg up to elevate her broken limb. She was still in the cast and it would be there for at least another two weeks. Her ribs were healing nicely, but those too would probably not be completely healed for another couple of weeks.

She could not wait for those two weeks to be up, so she could stop being reminded of how Danny was almost taken from her. She hated remembering that she had come so close to losing Danny, not just their relationship, but Danny could have died. Making matters worse, their last moments together would have been an argument and over something that Nicole now understood was ridiculous. Of course, something good came out of it after so much pain and sorrow.

She and Danny had learned to better communicate with each other. Their relationship was stronger than ever. She was glad for that, but she wished it had not taken Danny almost dying for things to come to that. Shaking her head, she stopped thinking about those things.

Nicole leaned down and placed a chaste, sweet kiss to Dane's slightly parted lips. After that, she had to place a large box in the refrigerator and then went to get comfortable before she woke Danny up. Dane was taken from sleep in one of her favorite ways, feeling Nicole's fingers caressing her scalp. Smiling, Dane purred before opening her eyes.

"Hello, baby," Nicole greeted her lover.

"A better hello is said right here," Dane remarked, pointing to her lips.

Nicole chuckled and leaned down to give Danny the kiss that she wanted. Dane started to rise up, wanting to make the kiss deeper. A moan escaped Nicole as Dane's tongue stroked her own. She began pulling away, needing air and not wanting Danny to get carried away, as she had a habit of trying now.

"Baby, calm down," Nicole said in a breath, managing to escape her amorous lover.

"Why? No pressure on my ribs or leg, so why calm down?" Danny teased. She and Nicole had not really been intimate, now mostly because of her injuries. Nicole did not want to risk damaging her body in any way, which she thought was sweet, even if it was forcing celibacy on her, which she thought was cruel and unusual punishment. She could not wait for a clean bill of health and she promised herself that she was going to be very careful from now on.

"Don't try to reason your way into my pants, young lady. Now, tomorrow is someone's special day. Is there anything that she wants? Aside from me naked anyway," Nicole inquired, going back to stroking Dane's scalp.

"You don't have to be naked. I'll take a bow," Dane quipped, wiggling her eyebrows.

Emerald eyes rolled. "You can have that present when the cast comes off and the doctor clears you for such activities."

"What?" Dane huffed, even though she knew that was coming. They had had that talk several times.

"So, what else do you want?"

Dane scratched the end of her nose. "Nothing really. I'll be happy with just a nice night with you."

Nicole did not seem to believe that. "You don't want to go out for dinner or anything?"

"Nah. Can we watch some movies and just cool out?" Dane requested, glancing down at her leg. For a very brief moment, she frowned at the cast.

"We always do that. Honey, I know this cast has you hung up and everything, but you don't have to live on the couch," Nicole pointed out. Since Danny seemed content to just laze around because of her leg, Nicole had actually taken steps to get her to move around the house at least since she was not totally immobile anymore. She had put the air mattress away, so now Danny had to sleep upstairs, which Danny was actually thankful for. Nothing beat the bed for sleeping.

"I don't really know what to do. We can't go to any of my clubs with my leg like this," Dane stated, motioning to her leg. She would have liked to celebrate her birthday like they did last year, but she had the stupid cast on. They could not do much thanks to it.

"You're right about that," Nicole agreed. She knew what she was going to do for Danny the second she got her cast off.

"I really don't know what I want to do. I liked it last year when you surprised me. I never really thought about my birthday much before that. So, I don't know what to do," Danny explained with a shrug.

Nicole nodded. "All right. I can accept that," she said.

The musician smiled, happy to just be cuddled on the sofa with her lover and for everything to be all right. Her birthday was the next day, but she really did not want anything beyond Nicole's company, which she got. Nicole took the day off and made Danny breakfast in bed. They stayed in the bed for most of the day, kissing and cuddling, before Nicole suddenly got dressed.

"Chem, you going somewhere?" Dane inquired as she watched her girlfriend slip into one of her many sundresses.

"Just downstairs and so are you. Get dressed, darling," Nicole gently insisted, fixing her dress.

Dane was a little distracted; Nicole was wearing one of her favorite dresses. Because of that, Danny had not really heard what her girlfriend said. The attorney did not say anything, but pulled out some clothing for her lover. She helped Danny into a pair of her favorite black shorts, a short-sleeve blue shirt, and a black vest. Danny looked down at the clothing as she put it on.

"You sure we're not going somewhere?" the younger woman asked, sounding a little confused. She felt a little formal for just going downstairs.

"I am very sure we're not. I just want you to look nice for our lunch date," the redhead answered.

Dane blinked a couple of times. "We have a lunch date?" This was the first she heard of it.

Nicole giggled a little and smiled. "We do now. In the kitchen. Will you accompany me?"

"You don't have to ask me twice!"

The couple made their way downstairs and Nicole made them some tuna sandwiches. Everything seemed pretty normal, but the doorbell interrupted their light lunch. Nicole went to answer it and returned with a large bouquet of flowers.

"Happy birthday, baby," Nicole said, presenting Dane with the lovely floral decoration.

"Thank you, Nick," Dane replied, accepting the flowers with a happy grin. She had gotten bouquets of flowers a few times since her accident, but Nicole had been the first person to ever give her flowers on her birthday last year. She wondered if Nicole was working her way into making it a tradition.

Nicole smiled and leaned down for a kiss, which Danny was eager for. The kiss did not last as long as either of them would have liked because the doorbell interrupted them again. Nicole left to answer it, pulling away rather suddenly and leaving Danny in a daze. The daze was short lived as she was attacked out of the blue by her favorite boys.

"Happy birthday, Dane!" Luke and Thomas chimed in together, hugging her, even though she was sitting down.

"Hey, guys," she grinned, leaning down to return the embraces. The boys pulled away suddenly and stood proud before her.

"We brought you a gift," Luke announced, presenting her with a wrapped box.

"And a card," Thomas added, holding up his bounty of an envelope.

Danny did not get to make any inquires because right after the boys, Crow showed up. Minutes later, Mina and Clara showed up; Clara brought her son along since she knew Luke and Thomas would be there. Raymond and Kate entered the house right after that. Even Terri showed up within a half-hour of everyone else and Danny realized that she was having her first ever birthday party.

They did everything that Dane suspected happened at a normal birthday party. They played games. Most of the games, Danny had never heard of, but had a lot of fun playing. They all talked and had food. They even got Danny to sing a bit for them, which everyone agreed was wonderful. Adam actually looked like he was about to cry.

"Dane, I didn't know…" Adam trailed off, not too sure what he wanted to say.

"You didn't know this girl could blow?" Mina asked in disbelief, pointing her thumb at Danny. She knew Danny did not keep her talent a secret.

Adam's sienna eyes looked away in shame. "I didn't know she was so talented," he admitted.

"There are many things you don't know about me, Adam. Try to remember that," Danny informed him, maintaining a civil tone, but he picked up on the bite underneath that.

Adam opened his mouth, ready to hit her with a smart remark, but he thought better of it. He knew that he did not know Danny, but he wanted to know her. He wanted to know this woman who sung with a voice that was smooth like silk and sweet as honey and who had friends that would come to an almost childish birthday party for her. And he was very aware for that to happen, he had to open himself up to her and he had to stop acting like he knew everything about her. Plus, he had to take another step toward her.

"Hey, Dane," Adam approached her when she was relatively alone, getting herself something to drink in the kitchen.

"What?" Danny replied, leaning on her crutch to keep her balance as she poured some lemonade.

"You sing beautifully. I never knew."

"Hard to know if you never cared to find out," she pointed out. He did not even know she played an instrument until she showed his sons a couple of years ago.

He had to nod to that one. "This is quite true. I'm glad I know now. You know some good people too. They're all very nice."

Dane sighed. "Adam, is there a point in here? I'm not good with small talk." In fact, she had never been good at small talk.

He blew out a breath. "Obviously. Fine, I'll take the hint and stop trying to get you to open up through pointless conversation. How about I start with an invite? Come to my house on Saturday. We're going to have a little birthday party for Luke. You know he would love that."

"And Sharon?"

"Will have to take it. The boys love you and you are their aunt. She has to deal with that. I have to put up with people in her life that I don't like. She can learn to do the same," he stated with conviction.

Dane chuckled at the blunt way her brother put that. "You say I'm their aunt. When do you think you're going to tell them that?"

"Dane, whenever you want to," he promised. "Look, Dane, I know you're angry. You have a right to be. But, at what point are you going to let it go? We're going to be seeing each other a lot because of Luke and Thomas. It would be best if we could at least get along."

Dane shrugged. "You make a point. It's just going to take a while. You ignoring me my whole life…my feelings on it won't disappear in a day just because you're trying. I don't know why you expect it all to go away just because you say it should. That's just arrogant," she said, which was very much like her eldest brother.

Adam nodded and then he regarded her with perhaps the most remorseful expression she had ever seen on someone in her family. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "Sorry. I understand what you mean. We both need to get used to each other. I would like to apologize again, Dane. I was a horrible brother. I don't know if we'll ever get to the point where you accept me as a brother, but I would like us to at least be friends." He went so far as to hold his hand out for her.

Dane glanced down at his hand and then shook her head. "It'll take time," she informed him. "More time than a couple of birthday parties."

"I'm willing to try," he vowed, putting his hand in his pocket since she was not going to shake it.

"Then only time will tell."

He nodded again and their conversation was cut short as the boys charged into the kitchen, begging for juice to help cool them down. Adam took care of filling cups for them and then they ran off, going back to the backyard. Dane and Adam then rejoined the party in the living room.

Dane's favorite part of the day was when the birthday cake was brought out. It was a huge cake that was beautifully decorated. The message on the cake was simple: Happy Birthday, Love. Two candles sat atop the cake; they were shaped in the forms of the numbers two and six. She actually cried when they sang "happy birthday" to her and she blew out the candles, making the wish that things remained as they were. No one questioned her tears; most knew about her never having a proper birthday party and those that had no clue—Adam and Terri— did not want to ruin the moment by asking anything.

"Okay, now it's time for the best part!" Mina announced, shoving her gift into Dane's lap.

Dane did not contradict the attorney, even though she disagreed. "There are children around. Is this something appropriate?" she asked to tease Mina.

"Don't worry, I figure the inappropriate things should go to Nicole for her birthday," Mina quipped.

"Well, if you're shopping, I really like how satin feels on her," Dane said, wiggling her eyebrows.

"Danny!" Nicole gasped, glaring at her lover for saying such a thing with her parents present.

The birthday girl just gave an innocent smile before opening her gift. Mina had given her some perfume, which was not really something she wore, but it would come in handy. Nicole liked the aroma and she could wear it to formal affairs.

As the gifts rolled in, Danny noticed a theme. Opening one of the gifts from Raymond and Kate, she received the video game Guitar Hero. Terri's gift ended up being the guitar controller used to play Guitar Hero. And lastly, one of Nicole's gifts was the game system for Danny to play the games on. Once the kids saw that, they wanted to play immediately. Giving them cake placated the children for the moment.

Danny was able to get through her other gifts without the children bugging anyone. She was surprised that Raymond had gotten her more than one gift. The second present was a keyboard. Crow had been kind enough to get her two tickets to a music festival and showing that she knew Danny was not only about rock music, it was a jazz festival. Clara had gotten Danny a new MP3 player, which she very much needed.

"You guys are the best!" Danny declared with a happy grin. She doubted that there were words that could express her happiness, so she just hoped her expression did her emotions justice. From the way the party-goers regarded her, she believed that they understood what she could not say.

Everyone then had cake while Danny thanked them all over and over again for the presents. After having cake, they all decided that it was about time for them to start leaving. They claimed it was getting late, but really they wanted to give the couple time alone.

"Dane, don't forget about Saturday," Adam reminded her as he grabbed Luke and Thomas to head out.

"I won't," she promised.

Nicole saw everyone out while Danny hobbled into the living room. The couple met on the couch. Nicole then pulled Danny to her and the musician snuggled into the redhead for once.

"Chem, you are the sweetest person on Earth to throw all of this together for little me!" Danny declared with quite the content purr.

"Birthdays are a time for family to get together. I realized that this is the making of your family, baby. These are the people that love you," Nicole stated.

"I hope you didn't tell Kathleen that," Dane joked.

"I'll break the news gently to Mommy when she's already figured it out. But, you can't tell me Daddy isn't your family now," Nicole commented, grinning.

"Are you kidding me? That was about the greatest keyboard I have ever seen! I can't believe he spent so much money on me," the younger woman proclaimed. Raymond had given her an expensive and grand keyboard, knowing that she played the piano, but did not have an instrument to play. He did inform her that he expected a concert on it when she was completely healthy.

"I think he upset Clara because she thought that she had the perfect gift until that point," Nicole said.

"She did! I needed a new MP3 player. I can't believe she spent so much money on me," Dane replied.

"She likes you. They all like you," the redhead assured the birthday girl, caressing Dane's arm as she spoke.

Dane nodded and nuzzled her lover's neck. "You gave me extended family, angel. You are the greatest gift I could ever receive," she whispered before placing a gentle kiss behind Nicole's ear.

Nicole's breath hitched. "I want to give you so much more than that, though, Danny. Do you think you could wait here for a moment while I go get my other gift?"

"You got me something else? More than the fact that you bought me an expensive game system, just threw me my first birthday party, offered me an extended family, and can speak to my brother enough to get him to let the boys come over? Oh, speaking of the boys, Luke's having a birthday party Saturday and I said I'd go, but I want you to come too, okay?"

Nicole smiled and nodded. "I have so much more and, yes, I will go with you on Saturday. Wait here, okay?"

"Can't go many places with my leg still done up like this." Dane motioned to her cast. It was shorter than it was when she had the accident, but she still was not very mobile in it.

Nicole only smiled and got up, walking toward the door that led to the basement. That caused Dane to arch an eyebrow because during the party she had noticed Nicole go down there several times. The stairs were too steep for her to follow with her leg in the cast, so she suspected it was a great place to hide her present.

A strange sound caught her ear as she waited. She quickly found out what that sound was. A little ball of nearly white fluff padded into the living room followed by Nicole. Dane's face lit up like a Christmas tree.

"A puppy!" Dane hollered with joy. She reached for her crutches, wanting to get up and scoop up the dog.

"Danny, wait there. Don't get up and hurt yourself," Nicole said, picking up the canine and carrying him over to Danny. As soon as she was within distance, she passed the pup to Dane, who hugged him tightly.

"Oh, my god, Nick. Oh, my god!" Dane just held the dog underneath her chin and grinned like never before.

"I take it you like the gift," Nicole said dryly. Internally, she felt immense pride at being able to put such an expression on her girlfriend's face.

"I do, I do, I do! He's so adorable!"

The redhead nodded and smiled. "That's what I thought when I saw him."

"Where did you get him? When did you get him?" Dane inquired, unable to keep her enthusiasm down.

"One of my more friendly coworkers' dog had puppies. A lot of puppies. He certainly couldn't afford them, he said. As soon as they were old enough to part with their mother, he was telling any and everyone that he had puppies for sale. He actually gave me first pick."

Dane looked down at the puppy in her hands, trying to figure out what made Nicole pick him. He appeared to be rather small and happy. He licked the end of her nose while she studied him and she giggled—yes, Danny giggled like a schoolgirl.

"If you want to know, I waited until all the puppies were gone. He was the last one and it seemed like no one wanted him," Nicole explained.

"Of course you would do that, Nick. I think he's perfect, though," Dane declared.

"Yeah. That's what I thought when I saw him and I couldn't figure out why no one wanted him. My coworker said the little guy wasn't friendly to anyone else, which I thought was weird. He certainly seemed friendly to me. And to you too, apparently," Nicole quipped as the pup cuddled underneath Dane's chin.

"How did you hide a whole dog from me?" Dane asked in amazement.

"Mina brought him over here for me today. She held onto him for a few days, so he wouldn't end up being an early birthday gift for you. I think she might end up getting a dog from the way she was with him. She took the time to explain to me that he's not really just a gift for you," Nicole said.

"No?" Dane tilted her head curiously and turned her attention completely to Nicole, not wanting to miss this explanation.

"No." Nicole shook her head and put her hands on Danny's. She then looked her lover directly in the eye. "He's my promise to you that I'm going to be here for you, to help you care for him, and to be your family, Danny. We're a family. I'm here to support you in every way possible. I am committed to you," she vowed.

Dane was speechless; Nicole was the only person that could rob her of words. A kiss seemed to be the only way for her to express her approval and elation. Nicole accepted the kiss and returned it. She had to stop it once Danny pressed for more, even though Dane knew that she was not in any position to do more.

"Now, what should we name our proud son?" Nicole remarked, laughing as she rubbed the pup's head.

"Hmm…we should name him something that reflects both of us. Something that we both have in common."

Nicole nodded and it seemed easy enough. They liked music and since that was really Dane's passion, she thought that they should name the pup something to do with music. It took a while, but they named him Haydn.

Before the couple could get any further with the newest member of their household, the phone rang. Nicole was closest, so she grabbed it. Checking the caller ID, she saw it was a private number. Shrugging, she answered.

"Hello?" Nicole said, watching Dane continue to hug Haydn close.

"Hello, may I please speak to Dane?" the caller requested.

Nicole recognized the voice. "Hold on," she replied, covering the mouthpiece. "Danny, sweetie, it's your mother on the phone," she informed the infatuated musician.

"So?" Dane replied, confused as to why she should care.

"Baby, she wants to talk to you. Do you want to talk to her or not?" Nicole asked.

"Not really. It probably has to do with that stupid account or something," Dane figured. She and Nicole still had not touched the money that Christine put in the bank for Dane. They were not sure if they ever would touch it.

"Should I take a message?"

Dane thought on it for a moment and then shook her head. She put her hand out and Nicole handed her the phone. "What?" she asked, sounding a little frustrated. Her mother was taking away time that she could be using to play with their new puppy.

"Dane, I was just calling to wish you a happy birthday," Christine said, trying her best to sound normal.

"Why? You never have before. I'm surprised you know what day I born," Dane pointed out.

"Dane, I am trying," Christine sighed, sounding exhausted already.

"Yeah, well, good luck with that." The call was then ended and Danny passed the phone back to Nicole.

"You okay?" the lawyer asked as she placed the phone back on the cradle.

"Called to wish me a happy birthday. She's got nerve. So much nerve," Dane snorted.

"Are you okay?" Nicole repeated, wrapping her arms around her girlfriend.

Grey eyes glanced down at Nicole and a smile lit up Danny's face. "Of course, I'm okay. I'm sitting here with my family. Why wouldn't I be okay?" she countered, sincerity in her gaze.

With that answered, the couple turned their attention back to Haydn. He was a tiny white shepherd and did little aside from sniff the two women for the rest of the night. He seemed quite content to be cuddled and petted by Danny and Nicole. Nicole was not sure if she would be able to part the pair, especially when Danny carried him up to their bedroom.

"He is not sleeping in the bed," Nicole stated firmly. Yes, he was adorable and everything, but he was an adorable ball of fur that would get all over the bedspread. The idea was not very appealing to her.

"But, why? He'll be lonely on the floor!" Dane argued, clutching the pup to her chest.

"He'll be fine, honey. He has to get used to it and we need to train him as early as possible, not just with the sleeping arrangements, but with everything. Sleeping arrangements especially, though. I mean it, he's not sleeping in the bed with us," Nicole said in her strongest voice.

"But, he's our son!" Dane replied, grinning now. Never in her life did she think that she would utter such words, especially about a dog. But, then again, she never expected to have a dog. It was a great feeling. Only now did she realize how much she had always wanted a dog.

"He's on the floor, babe. I'm not changing that. I'll get him a pet bed tomorrow if it makes you feel any better, but he's not sleeping in the bed with us. We have to be firm with him and like I said we have to start training immediately without pampering him too much."

Danny pouted, but for once it did not get her anywhere. Nicole was kind enough to make Haydn a bed with a blanket. It seemed to be enough for the dog because he curled up in the fabric as soon as Nicole put him down.

Once the puppy was asleep, the couple went about their usual nighttime rituals. Dane needed some help because of the cast, but having to live with it for so long, she could do most things on her own. As they settled down into bed, Danny pulled Nicole as close to her as possible.

"Thank you for a wonderful birthday, angel," Dane whispered before placing a gentle kiss to Nicole's forehead.

"Get used to those, Big Dog."

"Then you get used to these." Dane leaned down, giving her lover a heated kiss. Nicole pulled away when she started getting overzealous.

"Sweetheart, you know we're not going there until the cast comes off and you're completely healed, so don't tease yourself. Besides, didn't you just point out our son is in the room?" the redhead teased.

Danny laughed, but she backed off. She cast their "son" a glance and grinned. She felt giddy just looking at Haydn. She held Nicole close to her and continued looking at Haydn. Nicole smiled, knowing that Danny truly appreciated that gift. It felt like the right thing and Haydn turned out to be the right pup for them.

He was very affectionate and bonded with both women quickly, loving to curl up with them whenever he could. They both enjoyed holding him and cuddling him. He liked nuzzling them and giving them "puppy kisses."

Nicole had to take him for walks and everything at first, but Danny was itching to get her cast off, so she could do the same. The guitarist wanted to take care of the pup too, which was why the redhead held off on buying many things for Haydn until Danny could go along with her. Danny did often play games with Haydn in the house, mostly fetch and tug-of-war. When they started training Haydn, Danny made sure to do her share, not even thinking about the cast. She just wanted to be there with Nicole for Haydn every step of the way and she wanted to know how to properly care for him just as much as Nicole wanted to know. They quickly became proud and caring parents toward their little puppy.

Haydn was quite the content and satisfied pup, having a very good life with his two owners. Later on, people would assure Nicole and Dane that they spoiled the pup. He did help bring his owners closer together, though. Somehow, he helped them see the world in a whole new light and gave them a different perspective on many things. It felt like his presence had taken their relationship to a new level and they were very pleased with that.

-8-8-8-8-

Danny grinned widely to herself as she moved about the house, working as quickly as she could. She was moving about with ease, so glad to have her cast off. Her ribs were healed and her leg was healed. All the bones had mended perfectly too; she was inclined to give Nicole credit for that since the redhead had been a dutiful nurse. Dane was the picture of health now. She had even agreed to get the surgery to fix her knee and leg as best it could. That appointment was a couple of months away, though, and far from her thoughts. Right now, she only had one thing on her mind—preparing the bedroom.

She had to be done by the time Nicole came in. The only thing that proved problematic was Haydn. She needed to get him out of the house, but with no car and no bike anymore, she was at a bit of a loss. But, Crow came through as usual and saved her ass on that. Sometimes, she wondered what she would do without Crow, but the Gothic woman always waved that off. Apparently, it was not something that she had to worry about.

So, now that she did not have to worry about Haydn, she was able to finish up her labor of love. By the time Nicole came home from work, Dane was there to greet her at the door. Leaning down, she welcomed Nicole home with a deep kiss. For once, Dane pulled away first.

"Happy anniversary," Dane whispered against Nicole's soft lips.

"It certainly is. If you'd step outside, I'd like to show your gift," Nicole replied in a low tone of her own.

Dane grinned; she certainly liked getting presents. Nicole tugged her lover outside and in the front yard Danny saw her anniversary gift—a brand new bike. Her mouth was pretty much on the floor.

"You got me a bike?" Dane asked in disbelief, eyes going from Nicole to the bicycle to Nicole and back to the bicycle.

"You need the exercise, baby. As much as I like this," she paused to grab Dane's slightly pudgy sides. "I don't want it to get too out of control. And your leg needs the workout too. I know how much you love biking." The redhead smiled.

Dane nodded eagerly. "Yes, I'm going to ride this tomorrow when I take Haydn for a walk. See if his little short legs can keep up with me," she declared.

"You better not overwork our precious pup," Nicole pretended to scold her.

Dane smiled innocently before going over to the bike. It was sitting pretty in the driveway and she circled a few times. Nicole would not have been surprised if Danny did a dance around the bicycle the way she moving so giddily around it. Nicole watched as Dane mounted the bike, testing it out by peddling only a couple of times.

"It's perfect!" the younger woman proclaimed.

"I'm glad you like it," Nicole replied, smiling.

"Like it? I love it!" Dane hopped off of the bike and rushed back over to Nicole, taking the redhead in her arms. "And I love you," she whispered, before dipping her head and taking Nicole into a heated kiss.

"Danny, baby," the lawyer said, pulling back a little. "As much as I love you, I don't like sharing it this much out on the front lawn," she remarked.

Danny chuckled and took Nicole by the hand. She led Nicole back into the house; it was safe to leave the bike out in the yard. She then directed Nicole into den, which the redhead thought was odd. Turning on the light, Nicole saw a dress draped across the couch.

"You change into that for an early dinner," Dane instructed. "I have to go get my own clothes on."

Nicole nodded and Dane limped out of the room, looking as giddy as she felt. Nicole changed quickly, even though she wished that she had been able to take a shower before doing so. She always felt more relaxed after having a shower. But, if Danny wanted an early dinner, then they would have that. She could always have her shower later.

Nicole was dressed before Dane and waited in the den, just in case Danny had surprises around the house. She would prefer that they stay surprises because she liked it when Danny was romantically shocking. When Danny returned, she was looking quite dashing; it was almost hard to believe that she had prepared herself on her own.

"My, my, my, our anniversary actually warranted a brush," Nicole remarked, running her fingers lightly through Dane's brushed and combed hair. Her usually wild onyx mane was managed and shining, her natural blond highlights popping out.

"I needed a quick tutorial from Terri on how to use the damn thing," Dane quipped. She had asked Terri for advice since their hair was practically the same length.

Nicole laughed, but thought that Danny did a wonderful job on her hair. She already knew that she was going to spend a great deal of time playing in the soft, short locks. She then took the time to take in Dane's outfit. She was wearing cream pants with a matching vest and a long-sleeve lilac shirt. The aroma coming off of her seemed to be the scent of lilac.

"You're wearing the perfume that Mina bought you," Nicole realized.

"I know you like how it smells," Dane answered, blushing just a little.

"It is intoxicating," Nicole admitted, moving to bury her face in Danny's neck. When the sniffing turned to kissing, Dane pulled away.

"Tsk, tsk. There'll be plenty of time for that later. Right now, we need to have our anniversary dinner. Well, actually we need to do something before that," Dane stated.

"Something before dinner?" Nicole was intrigued.

"Come."

Nicole nodded in agreement. She offered Dane her arm, which Danny readily took. Stepping into the living room, Nicole noticed that things had been rearranged, so there was a large empty space in the middle of the floor. While green eyes scanned the space, Dane grabbed a small remote and pressed a button. Soft music invaded the cozy area, causing the shorter woman to turn her attention back to Danny.

"May I have this dance?" Dane requested, leaning down to kiss Nicole's fingers.

Nicole smiled. "Of course."

Dane grinned and moved her hand to Nicole's hip. They glided through the open space as much as it would allow as the music played. Nicole pressed herself into Danny, resting her head against the musician's shoulder. A content sigh escaped the attorney as her eyes drifted shut.

"Danny, this is wonderful," Nicole commented, swaying with her lover.

"I figured you'd like dancing and I don't mind it when people can't see how bad I am at it," Dane remarked with a cheeky expression, not that her girlfriend could see.

The redhead snorted. "Okay, you stop talking now. You're ruining the moment and I want it to last for as long as possible."

Dane chuckled, but did as ordered. She savored the moment too, closing her eyes and resting her cheek against soft auburn locks. They moved together for the whole song, holding each other close and taking each other in. When the song ended, they kept moving, not realizing it was over for a while.

"Danny," Nicole whispered.

"Hmm?"

"I think the music stopped."

Dane's head popped up. "So, it has. I suppose we should stop dancing then."

Nicole cuddled closer. "Only if you want to."

"Well, dinner will get cold if we just stay out here, dancing to nothing," Dane pointed out.

A long sigh escaped the redhead. "I guess we can stop…you know, for the sake of dinner."

"You'll enjoy dinner," Dane promised. "Come on."

Nicole nodded and once again allowed her sweetheart to lead her off, both of them smiling like two happy teenagers all the way through. They went into the kitchen where dinner was set up on the table. All Dane had to do was light a candle for the right atmosphere and then motioned for Nicole to sit down. The couple smiled at each other from across the table, eating and feeding each other the rich meal that Danny had prepared.

"Baby, you outdid yourself with this," Nicole moaned as she swallowed down a juicy piece of chicken breast.

"I wanted to tantalize your taste buds," Dane replied with a wicked smirk.

Nicole smiled, but relished the delicious meal as best she could. She tried her best not to hurry through dinner, but paced herself in the same manner that Danny was. They went back to feeding each other until the meal was all gone. Nicole then got up and went to sit on Danny's lap, but was stopped.

"You should go take a shower while I get these dishes and things up," Danny suggested, a happy glint in her eyes.

Nicole pouted. "You mean there's no dessert?"

Snickering through her nose, Dane smiled and rubbed her hands together. "You'll get it once you get out of the shower. Oh, and use the bathroom at the end of the hall, not the one in the bedroom."

The redhead nodded instead of arguing, wanting to see what Danny planned next. Nicole marched off, swaying as she moved because she knew grey eyes clocked her as she left. Dane growled as she watched Nicole sashay out of sight. The movement of those hips and that ass got her moving to get to the next part of the day.

-8-8-8-8-

Nicole was of like mind on wanting to get to the next part, especially when she saw what was waiting for her in the bathroom. Danny had left the undergarments that she wished for Nicole to wear after her shower. Waiting for her to wear were white lace and ivory silk and she shivered in anticipation. She wanted to give Danny time to set up whatever she needed, but she could not stay in the shower for long. Once she was done, she strolled down to the bedroom, where the door was slightly ajar.

From the crack, she could tell the room was bathed in the expected candlelight, but she was not sure what else awaited her. Taking deep breath, she opened the door and immediately turned her attention to the bed, which was covered in shattered rose petals. Resting on top of the linen like some kind of big cat, Dane was reclined, hands across the pillows at the head of the bed, in all of her naked glory. She beckoned Nicole closer with a simple crook of her finger.

Nicole moved, swaying all the way, teasing her lover's senses. Once she got to the bed, she climbed up and moved on all fours toward Danny, not stopping until she was astride Dane's body and they were face to face. Unable to resist each other, their mouths drew together like opposite ends of a magnet and they stole each other's breath away. They did not pull apart until it was absolutely necessary.

The redhead was about to lean in for another kiss, but was halted when Dane presented her with a ruby red strawberry covered in whipped cream. So that was dessert, Nicole thought. Nicole had to make a show out of licking the cream off before taking the fruit into her mouth, twirling her tongue around it and sucking on it. It was not until Dane groaned in envy of the fruit did Nicole finally eat the strawberry.

"I hope you don't have many of these. I'm in the mood for a different sort of dessert," Nicole remarked with a smoldering gaze.

"No one said we had to eat them now," Dane commented with a smirk.

"Then let's save that for later and get to the real treat."

Dane nodded in agreement and Nicole's lips returned to hers. As they eagerly explored each other's mouths, Dane leisurely caressed Nicole's body. Her hands ran up and down Nicole's side, over her back, and eventually inside her silk gown. Nicole shuddered in pleasure as soon as her lover's tender hands were on her heated flesh.

"Take it off," Nicole begged, voice quivering, lips hovering right above her beloved's mouth.

"Your wish is my command, but for that to happen, you need to roll over," Dane bargained.

Nicole nodded in agreement and quickly moved so that she was lying on the bed. Danny moved over Nicole. It had been months since they had been able to be with each other like this. It was only recently when Danny's leg was able to support her and she loomed over Nicole in a way that made the redhead shiver with anticipation. She could not wait to feel Danny against her.

Danny peeled Nicole out of her gown and flung it somewhere at the foot of the bed while leaning in for another kiss. Nicole wrapped her arms around the younger woman and tried her best to touch Danny everywhere. Dane purred from the attention, but moved a bit every time Nicole touched her shoulder. Nicole did not think too much of it, figuring Danny was just eager. Dane returned the attention by stroking Nicole's breast.

The redhead moaned in pleasure, trying her best to press herself as much as she could into Danny's hands. All of the movement made Danny groan deep in her throat. It felt like it had been an eternity since they had felt their bodies together. It was almost a religious experience and they had not done more than kiss yet. They were both a little skeptical that they could survive a complete sexual session if a simple kiss was making them see stars. Of course, it was not going to stop them from trying.

Before long, Dane's mouth was mobile, kissing and licking her way down Nicole's body, reveling in the taste of her lover. Nicole hissed and arched her body into Danny's when the musician nipped at her neck; they both knew there would be a mark there later. Dane growled when Nicole's body rubbed up against hers, reminding her that she still had clothing to take Nicole out of.

"While you do look incredibly sexy in this, you're wearing too many clothes," Dane admonished the lawyer.

"You wanted me to put them on," Nicole reminded her, panting already.

"Silly me."

Danny moved to correct her mistake, reaching around Nicole to unclasp the bra. She smoothly removed the piece and flung that behind them. Nicole arched her body as soon as she was free, pressing her torso to Dane's body, causing them both to moan. They took a moment to enjoy the feeling of their naked torsos touching before Danny went back to kissing all over Nicole's sweet form.

Nicole clung to Dane as she moved. Throwing her head back, she howled when Dane's lips attached themselves to her left nipple. Delighted by that action, Dane applied more pressure while her right hand went to occupy the other sensitive gem. Nicole bucked against her and she groaned as she felt Nicole's center press against her thigh.

"Oh, angel, you are soaked for me," Dane realized, feeling the moisture against her leg.

"You know that your body against me like this drives me wild," Nicole replied with a feral growl. "And it's been so long," she added. Too long! I need her so much right now.

"Maybe I should just take the edge off for you. I want this to last," the musician said in a low tone.

"Just keep going, baby. Don't worry."

Dane responded by that switching breasts and rolling Nicole's nipple around with her tongue. Nicole mewed and wiggled, making sure to keep her grip on Danny, silently letting Danny know to stay close. The only time Danny left her was to slide her panties down her legs. Danny then kissed her way back up Nicole's body, pausing at the apex of her thighs.

"Don't tease me, baby. Please, don't tease," Nicole implored her lover, shamelessly pushing herself into Danny's face.

The younger woman kissed Nicole's most intimate area and then placed an almost shy lick to the same space. Nicole whined, which turned into a long moan as Danny's tongue stayed with her, explored her, mapped her center with tender care. Nicole's body moved with Dane's mouth and the musician needed to hold onto Nicole's leg to keep her steady. A long, almost-wail like moan escaped Nicole as Dane worked her tongue in, out, and around her core. Dane knew that she was doing everything right thanks to that strange noise.

"Danny, up!" the redhead ordered, knowing she would not last long with this attention, but she wanted to feel Danny's body against her when she climaxed.

Dane complied with one final nip, kissing her way up Nicole's body. Their lips met as Danny slipped two deft fingers into the warm, moist canal, making Nicole's breath hitch. The redhead arched and whined, waiting for her lover to do something. But, for a long moment, Dane was still, taking in the moment, reveling in the feel of Nicole gripping her. Nicole took that moment to slid her leg in between Danny's legs and the sudden presence jumped started Dane's brain. Slowly, Danny began to play her favorite song.

Nicole eventually broke the kiss, panting and growling as Danny moved within her. "That feels so good, baby," she murmured, moving to keep pace with her lover.

Dane did not respond. She kept her mouth occupied by nipping at Nicole's neck and collarbone, pausing only to whimper from the feel of Nicole's thigh against her. She was about to move back to Nicole's mouth when she felt the telltale signs of Nicole's peak. Nicole threw her head back, screaming in pure ecstasy. As muscles clamped down on her fingers, Danny did not stop, did not want to stop.

"Oh, god, Chem," Dane whispered, having to close her eyes for a moment and just take in what was happening between them.

The feel of those tight muscles gripping her long digits caused Dane to groan and she moved with more fervor against Nicole's thigh, falling off the edge herself. Even as she reached that apex, her fingers did not cease. Nicole soon was crying out again, tears dipping down the corners of her eyes.

"No more," Nicole begged in a small voice.

"One more," Dane countered, continuing on. She figured that she would be able to crest again too if they could just go a little longer. "I need to stay… You feel so good… One more…"

Nicole locked eyes with Danny and then nodded. As Dane picked up where she left off, the redhead leaned forward wanting another kiss. The kiss did not last long as Nicole tossed her head again, calling Dane's name as it felt like her body exploded in complete and total bliss. She clutched Dane tightly, forcing the younger woman harder onto her thigh and Dane joined her in that explosion. Clinging to Danny, Nicole tried to get her breathing under control as she felt Dane ease out of her. She whimpered a bit, almost feeling lonely without Danny's fingers.

The loneliness was forgotten as she watched Danny bring her fingers to her mouth and suck them clean. She moved and grabbed Danny's hand, pulling the fingers away. Dane was confused for less than a second as Nicole slipped the fingers into her mouth. Dane made a noise between a moan and gasp as Nicole's tongue ran up and down her digits.

"All clean," Nicole purred as she released Danny's hand.

"That was intense," Dane muttered, wiping a bit of sweat from her brow. She had almost forgotten that making love could be like that since they had been somewhat limited with her broken leg and busted ribs.

"That was only half of it," Nicole remarked, her fingers lightly trailing down Dane's body.

Dane chuckled a bit and glanced down, trying to see what her lover's busy fingers were up to. "I can't wait for the other half then."

Nicole smiled before pulling Danny down onto her, initiating another kiss. One her hand trailed up and down Dane's torso while her other swirled around Danny's bellybutton, purposely teasing her. The taunting stopped when Dane rocked her hips against Nicole, earning a groan from the redhead.

Nicole decided to get Danny back and moved her free hand to Dane's breast. Kneading the globe with great care, Dane let loose a long moan into Nicole's mouth. While Danny was paying attention to that sensation, Nicole's other hand slid to where it was wanted the most. Danny had to break the kiss and as moan mixed with a deep growl tore out of her throat. She was moving before Nicole's fingers were and Nicole had to settle her down because the redhead did not want a hurried pace.

"Slow down, baby. We're here all night," Nicole pointed out in a hushed down. All Danny could do was nod, thinking about how Nicole's fingers were so much better than her thigh.

With each stroke, Danny felt like she was falling apart and being pieced back together. She moved to kiss Nicole again, but Nicole decided at that moment to change pace and twist and crossed her fingers. Dane's head dropped to Nicole's shoulder and a voice she was certain was not hers groaned as euphoria rushed through her. Panting in Nicole's ear, the redhead took the heavy breathing as a plea for more and smiled as she moved faster, curling her fingers and massaging her lover from the inside out. A strangled bellow accompanied Dane's fall over the edge that time and she collapsed on top of Nicole, no longer able to hold herself up.

"I give. You win," Dane remarked as she caught her breath.

"I always win, baby," Nicole teased.

"That you do," Dane agreed. They were silent for a while before she had the strength to roll over. In the move, Nicole noticed something quite new on Danny's back.

"Honey, when did you go out and get a new tattoo?" Nicole inquired, only seeing a glimpse of the new artwork just now.

"A couple weeks ago," Dane answered with a strange smile. She had hoped, but had not thought, she would be able to keep it a secret that long. But, she managed to pull it off.

Nicole made a curious noise. "That explains why you kept wearing shirts with sleeves and wouldn't let me take a shower with you. May I see?"

"Of course."

Danny sat up and turned her back to Nicole. While the redhead focused on her new tattoo, she reached over to the nightstand to grab something. Nicole could not believe Dane had gone out and gotten a tattoo of angel wings on her shoulders. The wings flanked her other tattoo of the word "demon" down her spine. Inside of the wings at the top, on the right was the word "chem" and on the left were words "love forever."

"Danny, you didn't have to do this," Nicole whispered, voice mixed with awe and disbelief.

"No, I did have to. Just like I had to do this," Dane replied and she turned around to present Nicole with a ring.

"Danny…?" Nicole said, voice trembling as she looked down at the jewelry. It was a simple ring of a gold band and a row of small diamonds. Her body started to shake a little, not sure what to make of the gift.

Dane reached out and stroked Nicole's cheek, calming her down. "This isn't a proposal, Chem. I don't think I'm in the best place to propose to you just yet. I do have growing to do and you have growing to do, but this is a promise that I will forever be committed to you, to our relationship, and to our family. This is a promise that I will be ready to marry you soon. This is a promise that there will be a proposal in your future. This is a promise that I'm not going anywhere, no matter what. I promise that I will always be there and I promise that I will always love you," she vowed as she slipped the ring on Nicole's left ring finger.

Nicole could not even speak as tears welled up in her eyes and slid down her cheeks. Dane reached up and wiped away the tears before leaning down for a kiss. Nicole returned it with as much passion as she could muster.

"I have to go out and get you one of these," Nicole remarked as they broke apart for air. Tears still slid down her face as she held up the ring to admire it. She doubted that she had ever felt so overjoyed before in her life.

"Since I know I can't say anything to stop you, I'll just accept whatever you give me," Dane replied with a small smile. She was glad that Nicole had such a positive reaction to the ring. It gave her a boast of confidence and led her to believe despite their hardships, she was doing fine at this relationship. She just wanted to do better and be everything that Nicole deserved.

"I promise to always be there for you, Danny. I will always be your support and your shoulder. I will always love you too," Nicole vowed. She was flattered that Danny thought so much of her, going so far as to mark her body for Nicole. It made her feel more secure and it also made her feel like she had to better herself to be all that Danny deserved. "And don't think that you might not be the one with a proposal in your future," the lawyer added with a smile.

Dane did not dispute that. She just sealed the pledge with another kiss. They were willing to fight for each other, to keep each other, and they would always be willing to do that. They would always support each other. They would continue to grow individually and together. They would be all that both deserved and they would make it. They were sure sometime in the future they would be ready for a real engagement and then a marriage. They both wanted it and they knew if they worked for it, then it would be so. Looking at each other and seeing nothing but love, they knew that it would be so.

-8-8-8-8-

The end.

Thanks for reading. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Hopefully, we'll see these two again sometime. Until then, I hope you read and like whatever I post next. Hasta…