One Night Only, Epilogue by Samj

Republisher’s Note: Tonight has one of my favorite lines from Manny fanfic. “Michelle still didn’t understand the attraction of futbol or why Danny couldn’t just call it soccer like the rest of the US…”We hit a Manny happy ending, but look for another fanfic to start soon.

AUTHOR NOTE: This is my response to Kellie’s challenge for the Amnesia RR. Kellie, I sure hope this is what you wanted, because I’m not writing anything else! Sorry it’s a little “rough” I only really had time to do a sketch rather than a well-developed chapter. And I have to admit that I feel a little silly posting the epilogue to a story I didn’t originally post here, but Carrie gave me her okay (and Kellie posed her challenge here), and I had to post it somewhere, right?

One Night Only, Epilogue

The next six months did in fact turn out to be the best of Michelle’s life…and the hardest. She and Danny were both incredibly stubborn individuals, and sustaining a relationship required an intense amount of work on both their parts.

On some things, they learned to compromise. Michelle still didn’t understand the attraction of futbol or why Danny couldn’t just call it soccer like the rest of the US but she managed to keep her comments to herself, even when games went into double-overtime. And Danny didn’t like the cliquish nature of Michelle’s friends from the hospital or the veiled remarks they’d make about his family’s business but he somehow managed to make polite conversation with them whenever he accompanied Michelle to hospital functions.

On other things, they agreed to disagree. Danny swore he would never again sit through a “modern dance” performance, no matter how much Michelle tried to tell him that they’d happened upon a particularly bad one. And Michelle refused to ride any roller coaster with “loops” or 300 foot drops, no matter how many times Danny called her chicken, or how much he whined about having to ride them alone.

And then there were the breaking points. Michelle almost walked out when Danny told her that he was thinking about going into a joint venture with Nino and Teresa. She wanted to believe him when he said the entire deal was legitimate, but she didn’t completely trust Nino or Teresa, and she was afraid that Danny’s family was pressuring him to help out his step-sister. They ended up in a huge argument, with Danny accusing Michelle of not trusting him and Michelle accusing Danny of maintaining his mob ties. It took four days (and sleepless nights), thirty-seven phone calls, and a trip to an independent financial advisor in a Chicago law firm before they were able to completely repair the damage.

Danny almost gave up when Michelle took on additional responsibilities at the hospital that ate up what little free time she had. Danny knew that her career was important to her, and he wanted her to be successful and happy, but he couldn’t help feeling neglected. He accused her of putting herself before their relationship, and of making it impossible for him to do what she expected of him, namely getting to know her and helping her get to know him. They had another huge fight, and this time it took five days, over forty phone calls, and a visit to one of Michelle’s supervisors (who explained why the temporary project could make Michelle’s entire career) to repair the damage.

And both of them felt the pressure of Michelle’s decision that they would not have a sexual relationship during their six week “trial period.” Danny had thought she was joking at first, but Michelle couldn’t have been more serious. She needed to know, she said, that there was more between them than just this incredible chemistry, and she didn’t want their obvious physical compatibility to confuse the issue. Danny had reluctantly agreed.

Michelle’s resolve lasted exactly twenty-three days….

[Flashback]

Danny took over control of Sancorp the day after Carlos’ death. It was a seamless transition internally, and Danny had few problems moving the essential personnel from Springfield to Chicago. Not all of Sancorp’s international customers were pleased, however, and one conglomerate in particular immediately refused to deal with the “child” who had been appointed out of the blue. Danny worked night and day trying to court them back, and finally, after three weeks of conference calls, he managed to arrange a face-to-face meeting at the conglomerate’s headquarters in London. With only twenty-four hours to prepare before his flight’s departure time, he chained himself to his desk until he knew every detail of the conglomerate’s dealings with Sancorp for the previous ten years.

Danny was still making arrangements as his driver brought him home. It was almost midnight when he called Michelle to say good-bye before his six a.m. trip.

“You sound really tense,” she observed immediately, concern evident in her voice.

You don’t know the half of it, he thought, rubbing the knots in the back of his neck. “I’m fine, really,” he assured her, not wanting to waste time talking about his problems when he could be hearing about her day.

“What you need is a nice, hot bubble bath,” she informed him. “That’ll relax those knotted muscles in your neck and help you sleep.”

“Don’t you think bubble baths are kind of a chick thing, Michelle?” he joked dryly, knowing his remark would get a rise out of her.

“Oh really, and what would be the ‘manly’ remedy Danny?” she shot back, half-joking and half- irritated. “Knocking back a few beers and hitting on the barmaid?”

“Barmaid?” he repeated, trying to control his laughter as he followed his driver to the front door and waited while the driver who doubled as a body guard disarmed the alarm system and let him inside. “I can assure you that I’ve never in my life hit on a barmaid!”

“Okay, whatever,” Michelle dismissed quickly, returning to the matter at hand. “Are you alone in the house?”

“Of course,” he answered, distracted by the scent of vanilla in the air. I can smell your perfume even when you aren’t here, he marveled. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

“Then no one will ever know about your chick’ bath,” she explained with a smile in her voice. “Now sit down on the couch and take off your shoes and socks.”

“Your wish is my command,” he answered, sitting on the arm of a chair and doing so. Hey, I at least need to take a shower before I hit the sack anyway, he rationalized, unwilling to admit that he was enjoying this new game.

“I’m guessing you’ve already lost your jacket and tie….”

“Uh-huh,” he grunted while trying to balance the phone on his shoulder and unlace his shoes with one hand.

“Well then, you can skip right ahead to taking off your pants,” she instructed casually, holding in her giggles at the shocked expression she imagined on his face.

He dropped the shoe he was holding directly on his foot, causing him to swear under his breath. “Excuse me?” he asked in disbelief.

“You heard me,” she answered in mock exasperation. “There’s no one around to see you, so just unbuckle your belt, unbutton the button, unzip the zipper, and take off your pants already.”

He couldn’t help laughing. “This is getting a little kinky, don’t you think?” he asked playfully, leaving his pants in a heap with his socks and shoes.

“Mm-hmm,” she purred seductively, remembering just how irresistible he looked in nothing but boxer shorts. “That doesn’t mean you want me to stop, does it?”

“Not on your life, baby,” he assured her, already working on the buttons on his shirt. “Not on your life.”

“I really, really like the way you think,” she began again, but before she could continue she was interrupted by Danny’s gasp as he opened the bathroom door and stepped inside.

The overhead lights were turned off, but the area around the oversized bath tub was illuminated by the glow of dozens of scented candles. Piles of bubbles filled the tub, and in the middle of it all sat Michelle, her face flushed bright red from the heat of the water and her own anticipation.

“Mi-Mi-Michelle,” he stuttered, his cell phone clanging noisily against the expensive tile as it slipped off his shoulder. “What are you doing here?”

She smiled her most innocent smile. “I was just making sure that the water was the right temperature for your bath.” Her smile turned wickedly seductive as she beckoned to him with one finger. “And it is, so why don’t you join me?”

He swallowed around the lump in his throat. “I can’t do this, Michelle.”

“Why not?” she asked in surprise, momentarily stepping out of character. Recovering quickly she amended, “Oh, you’re right, we’re still playing Simon Says.’ Danny, take off your boxer shorts and climb into the tub.”

“Michelle,” he groaned in frustration, “I can’t. Being that close to you, naked,” images of her body, glistening under the bubbles, prevented him from speaking for a moment “without being able to make love to you…it would kill me.”

Scooting up to the edge of the tub, she reached her hand out to him. “No, Danny, no,” she corrected quickly, so quickly that her words ran together, “that isn’t what I meant. I wouldn’t tease you that way.”

He crouched down in front of the tub and took her hand gently in his. “No, baby, I know you wouldn’t but…. This is important to me you’re important to me and I don’t want to screw this up.”

“Danny,” she said seriously, looking him straight in the eye, “over the last twenty-three days, you’ve convinced me that what we have is more than a physical attraction.” She sat up taller and kissed him lightly on the nose. “And, you’ve convinced me that you’re interested in more than a physical relationship. That’s all I needed to know.” She tugged on his hand, pulling him close so that she could whisper in his ear. “Besides, staying away from you has been driving me nuts!” she confided.
“You and me both,” he laughed, pulling away so that he could rid himself of his underwear and climb in with her.

She picked up a bubble-laden sponge that was floating along the water. “Now, let’s see what I can do to relax you,” she offered.

….He almost missed his flight that morning.

[End flashback]

Of course not all of their battles were with each other; in some they presented a united front against the outside world. Michelle’s battle had been against her family’s constant interference. Danny’s battle had been against the demons from his past.

[Flashback]

When Michelle finally told her parents about her relationship with Danny, they insisted that she bring him to Thanksgiving dinner. She was nervous enough about introducing Danny to her parents for the first time, but she became absolutely livid when she walked through the kitchen door to find Bill Lewis helping Maureen carry appetizers into the dining room.

Ed feigned innocence. “I don’t see what the problem is sweetheart. I thought you would be happy to see your best friend.”

“And Bill is a very important member of this family,” Rick added, giving Bill an encouraging pat on the back. . . . .

During dinner, Ed, Rick, and Bill merely glared at Danny, while Maureen and Meta “counseled” Michelle on the poor choices she was making with her life. The only person who seemed to be on their side was Abby, but she was too busy feeding bits of turkey to two-year old Tommy to offer much verbal support.

Half-way through the incredibly tense meal, Michelle stood up and flung her napkin onto the table. “You are unbelievable!” she declared, eyes blazing with anger. “All of you! Haven’t you learned by now that you don’t get to choose the person I love?” She searched her parents’ eyes for some sign of understanding. “Do you even care how I feel?”

Somewhere deep inside, Michelle admitted that she already knew the answer to that question. Afraid to hear the words out loud, she ran from the dining room, knocking over her chair in the process.

Only when he heard the kitchen door slam shut did Danny slowly and deliberately stand and push in his chair, then pick up Michelle’s chair and push it in as well. With all eyes upon him, he slowly pronounced, “You’ve already missed years of your daughter’s life because of your own incredible egos. One day, you’re going to realize your mistake I just hope it isn’t too late.” Walking to the doorway he ended politely, “If you’ll excuse me.” ….

He found her in the passenger seat of his car, crying softly. He held her close, murmuring words of comfort until she was able to speak.

She meekly accepted the tissue he offered and dabbed at her puffy eyes. “I’m so sorry, Danny,” she kept repeating, “so, so sorry.”

“None of that matters, Michelle,” he assured her, gently stroking her hair. “There’s only one thing I need to know.” He lifted her chin so that so she was looking straight in his eyes. “Did you mean it, baby?” he asked, terrified of her answer.

“Did I mean what?” she asked in confusion. Then, just as quickly, understanding dawned. “That I love you?”

He nodded, unable to breathe. His entire future rested on that question.

“Yes, Danny, I meant it. I love you.” She waved her hand absently toward the house. “Of course this wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to tell you.”

He let out a sigh of relief and pulled her into an embrace. “It was perfect,” he whispered in her ear. “You’re perfect.”

She pulled back and looked him in the eye again. “I should’ve told you sooner. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he assured her. “I already knew. I just wanted to hear you say it.”

She gave a half-hearted smile in response to his over-confidence. “Well, then listen very carefully,” she instructed seriously. “I love you, Danny Santos.”

“I love you, Michelle Bauer,” he returned just as seriously, leaning in for a long, slow kiss.

When they finally pulled apart for air he smirked, then turned the key in the ignition and gunned the engine. “Now let’s get out of here,” he suggested.

[End flashback]

Carmen didn’t ask any questions when Danny and Michelle showed up on her doorstep in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. She simply ushered them into the dining room, where two extra places had been set “just in case.”

Because of what happened at Thanksgiving, Michelle didn’t even bother making plans for Christmas with her family. Instead, she and Danny traveled to Spain to spend the holiday with Carmen, Bernard, Nino, Teresa, Mick and his family, and Pilar in a villa near the University which Pilar attended. It was almost impossible to imagine how any of them could’ve been happier. Carmen had her children and grandchildren together in one place for the first time since Miguel’s death, and they’d finally reached an understanding about her marriage to Bernard. Bernard found out he was going to be a grandfather in seven months. Nino and Teresa were trying to enjoy every moment of the pregnancy (morning sickness, however, posed a formidable challenge to their goal). And Mick, Danny, and Pilar were finally rebuilding the strong connections they’d had as children.

Danny whisked Michelle off to a private villa on a nearby island to celebrate the New Year, which also happened to mark the last day of their six month “trial period.” After a night of fireworks and dancing, they watched the sunrise from the balcony of their bedroom. As Danny carried her back inside to their bed and placed her gently on the edge of it, she told him she couldn’t think of a more perfect way to start off a new year.

He responded by giving her the most beautiful marriage proposal she’d ever heard, and a flawless diamond engagement ring as well.
~~~~~~~~~~
April 2, 200?

“Oh Michelle, you look absolutely breathtaking,” Katie sighed, securely anchoring one last wisp of hair before standing back to admire her handiwork.

Michelle looked up at her reflection in the mirror and could hardly believe what she saw. “That’s because you did an incredible job,” she gasped. Swiveling her chair to face Katie she said sincerely, “Thank you so much for being my maid of honor.”

“Are you kidding?” she replied. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“I wish my family felt that way,” Michelle admitted quietly, staring intently at the carpet beneath her shoes.

On the RSVP card Ed had written in bold, block letters, “You’re about to make the biggest mistake of your life, Michelle.” On the back he had added, “How can you disappoint your mother this way?”

Michelle had already been crying for an hour when Danny let himself into her apartment. She cried for another twenty minutes before she calmed down enough to tell him what had happened.
“Why?” she asked repeatedly. “Why did he have to be so cruel?”

Katie hated the Bauers for making Michelle miserable on her wedding day. “It’s their loss, kiddo,” she assured Michelle, drawing her back to the present with her voice, “because today’s going to be perfect.”

Michelle shook her head to clear it of her family’s disapproval and quickly changed the subject. “I feel like we’re forgetting something, you know, but I can’t figure out what.”

Katie took the hint. “What could we possibly be forgetting? We’ve checked off every single box on every single checklist that both you and Danny have written up.”

“But still….” Michelle objected.

“Okay, look ” Katie held up a stack of checklists, each of which had long columns of red x’s.
“There’s only one checklist left.”

Michelle’s eyes widened like saucers. “There’s a checklist we haven’t done yet!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Katie teased, “but it’s the easiest one. You remember the old rhyme: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

“Well, we’ve covered something blue,” Michelle drawled, blushing slightly at the thought of Danny removing the leg band during the reception.

“And this mantilla is definitely something old,” Katie observed, running her hand down the delicate lace. “I can’t believe that Danny’s great-grandmother actually made this for her own wedding.”

“And these earrings that Danny gave me at the rehearsal dinner last night are something new,” Michelle continued, carefully fastening them in her ears, “although they’re also entirely too extravagant. The only reason I didn’t throw more of a fit was because it didn’t seem appropriate the night before the wedding.”

“Poor Michelle,” Katie sympathized. “Stuck with gorgeous, expensive earrings on her wedding day. It must be quite a burden.” Easily deflecting Michelle’s hand as she swatted at her, Katie asked, “And you’ve got something borrowed, right?”

Michelle’s face went absolutely ashen. “That’s it! That’s what we’re missing.” She was practically hyperventilating as she pleaded, “Quick, quick, lend me something, anything.”

It took all of Katie’s self-restraint not to burst out laughing at Michelle’s panic. “Calm down, Michelle. This isn’t a problem.”

They were interrupted by a knock on the door.

Katie sighed in genuine frustration. “Danny,” she called through the door, “for the nine hundredth time today, you are not going to see Michelle until she walks down that aisle.”

“I’m afraid I’m not Danny,” revealed the woman standing in the now open doorway.

“Mom,” Michelle whispered, her throat going dry before she could say anything else.

Maureen could see the conflicting emotions written on Michelle’s face. Breaking the incredibly awkward silence she offered, “I heard you need something borrowed, sweetie. Will this do?”

Michelle looked at Maureen’s outstretched hand, which held a gold charm bracelet. “Your bracelet?” she questioned.

Maureen nodded. Fingering a gold stork she explained, “I know you’ve heard this story a million times, but your father gave me this bracelet, with this charm, the day you were born. Every single charm marks a special moment in your life, and I think you should have this with you for your wedding.”

Michelle was overcome with emotion. “Thank you so much,” she gushed, holding out her wrist so that her mother could fasten the bracelet on it. “I don’t know what to say….”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Maureen assured her, securing the bracelet despite her trembling hands.

Although she was afraid of ruining the moment, Michelle couldn’t stop herself from asking, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“You’re my daughter, Michelle, and I love you,” Maureen began. “And more importantly right now, I trust you if you truly believe that Danny Santos is the right man for you, then I’m going to support you.”

“That means everything to me,” Michelle confided with a quivering voice.

“Don’t you dare start crying Michelle Bauer,” Katie admonished seriously, relieved about the way the scene had played out in front of her. “I am not doing your makeup again.”

“I’m okay,” Michelle assured her with a shaky laugh, lightly dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. “But you can’t possibly expect me to get through this wedding without crying.” After throwing the tissue into the trash can, she picked up the mascara sitting on the dressing table and waved it at Katie. “That’s why we bought waterproof mascara, remember?”

“You know, there are a lot of things I’m gonna miss about you, roomie,” Katie began solemnly. “But your smart aleck remarks I can certainly do without.”

In response, Michelle stuck out her tongue, and Katie answered in kind.

Watching the two young women reminded Maureen of countless slumber parties where the Bauer’s living room had been filled with giggling grade schoolers. And now my baby’s getting married, she marveled.

“Okay girls, that’s quite enough,” Maureen broke in, gaining their attention. She tried to make her glance stern, but her smiling eyes gave her away as she declared, “I think we’ve kept your guests waiting long enough, Michelle, don’t you?”

“Absolutely,” Michelle agreed enthusiastically. “I can’t wait another minute.”

As Katie helped Michelle gather up her dress, Maureen added seriously, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get your father to come today as well. Sometimes I don’t know why I married such a stubborn man.”

“Because you love him,” Michelle answered simply, ignoring as best she could the pain of knowing she’d be walking down the aisle alone. “And because he needs someone to keep him in line,” she added more lightly. “I’m just glad you’re here.”

“Well, I’m not alone,” Maureen informed her as they made their way to the door. “I have one more surprise for you.”
~~~~~~~~~~
I’ve never seen Danny this happy, Ray thought to himself as he and Mick “ushered” guests to their seats. Just as he had that thought, however, he noticed that Danny’s huge smile had dimmed and that his jaw was beginning to twitch. Who is that guy he’s walking towards? Ray wondered, hoping that Danny wasn’t going to do something stupid and hotheaded just minutes before his wedding.

Danny made a beeline towards Rick as soon as he saw him approach. Keeping his voice quite because he was in church, his tone was unmistakably malicious as he warned, “Look Dr. Bauer, if you think you can come in here and stop this wedding….”

“That isn’t why I’m here, Danny,” Rick interrupted, hoping to avoid a confrontation in front of the entire church.

“Then why are you here?” he challenged in a low growl, his arms crossed defiantly.

“My wife” Rick used a nod of his head to point to Abby, who was sitting a few rows away with Tommy on her lap “reminded me of everything that she and I went through before we got married. See, her parents didn’t think I was an appropriate husband for her.”

“I can’t imagine,” Danny returned dryly.

Rick ignored the comment. “Abby’s never gotten over her family’s rejection,” he continued, the pain he felt for his wife evident in his voice. “I don’t want that for my little sister.”

Danny raised an eyebrow expectantly, both his patience and his self-control running thin.

“I love my sister, and I’m going to support her in everything she does,” Rick vowed. “Including marrying you.”

“That’s so big of you,” Danny scoffed, while simultaneously signaling a concerned Ray that he had the situation under control.

“Hey, you don’t have to like me, Danny. And quite frankly, I don’t have to like you either.” Danny’s lips quirked at the honesty of the statement. “But we both love Michelle, and she wants both of us in her life, so why don’t we call a truce, at least for today?”

“Fine, you’re right,” Danny conceded reluctantly. “I know how much Michelle wanted her family to be here today.” I remember how miserable I was when I cut myself off from my family. Michelle brought us all back together, he winked at his mother, sitting in the front pew with Mick’s wife and children, Bernard, Nino, and Teresa; Pilar was Michelle’s other bridesmaid, and Mick was his other groomsman and I repaid her by driving a wedge between her and her own family.

Danny briefly scanned the church. “I don’t suppose you managed to drag your parents here as well?”

“My mom’s here, but just so you know no one drags her anywhere. She decided that even gaining you as a son-in-law was better than losing her little girl.” Rick chuckled at his own little joke, but Danny remained unamused. Clearing his voice he continued seriously, “My dad on the other hand….”

“Thinks that Michelle won’t go through with this if he isn’t here,” Danny supplied, shaking his head at Ed’s audacity. His guard slipped slightly and his voice was pained as he asked, “Doesn’t he realize that all he’s doing is hurting her?”

Rick actually looked sympathetic as he reassured Danny, “My sister’s an incredibly strong person; she’ll be just fine.” Catching a glimpse of Maureen at the back of the church, he excused himself saying, “Right now I need to go beg her forgiveness and she if she’ll do me the honor of letting me walk her down the aisle.”

“Thanks, Rick,” Danny said sincerely, offering his hand.

Rick shook it firmly before walking to the back of the church to talk to Michelle.
~~~~~~~~~~
“You look beautiful,” Danny mouthed to Michelle as she practically floated down the aisle on her brother’s arm. I love you, he added silently.

Michelle had developed quite a knack for reading Danny’s mind. “I love you, too,” she mouthed back, her radiant smile somehow increasing in intensity.

When Michelle and Rick finally reached the altar, Father Tomas asked solemnly, “Who gives this woman away?”

“I do,” Rick replied confidently, placing Michelle’s hand in Danny’s and then giving her a light kiss on the cheek. “I’m her big brother,” he declared proudly.

“Very well then,” Father Tomas nodded, dismissing Rick to return to his seat with Abby, Tommy, and Maureen. “Dearly beloved….”

The end.

 

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