For complete disclaimers see part 1.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at:

1049 Club
Kim Pritekel

Part 13

Reenie was almost vibrating, the excitement making her body flush, palms sweaty as she repeatedly wiped them on the thighs of her jeans. Beside her stood a very anxious Gloria, who had started to pace once more in the tiny terminal for private planes, connected to the main airport at BUF. They had been waiting for the past hour, all three, Gloria, Lizbeth and herself, growing more anxious by the minute.

The editor had had next to no sleep the night before, arranging to get Rachel home, as well as her mind was wide awake no matter what her exhausted body had to say. She had left a message on Matt's phone, but he had yet to return it. It had been a fight with herself to not just hop a plane anyway, and go to Rachel. She missed her with everything inside her, and was beside herself to see the blonde again. It had been miracle of miracles, and the dark-eyed woman couldn't keep her emotions under control. She'd been crying off and on since she'd received one of the most important phone calls of her life.

After hanging up with Rachel, Reenie had cleared everyone out of her loft, not saying a word. She didn't think Rachel would want a media circus just now, and had tried to call Gloria, only to get sent directly to the Italian woman's voicemail. From that point, she'd hopped into a cab and raced over to Carrie Tillman's. Together they devised a plan. Carrie assured Reenie she'd get Rachel home as quietly as possible, though Reenie was warned that the publisher would want to milk as much publicity out of this as possible.

Outside the massive windows, a plane was coming in for a landing. A small plane. A private plane. Lizbeth said something to her granddaughter in Italian, Gloria smiling as she turned to see what the old woman was pointing at. Gloria looked over at Reenie, and they both took a deep breath.

"I can't believe this is happening," Gloria whispered, hands wringing in front of her.

"I know. If I didn't believe in God before, I do now," Reenie blew out. The three watched in silence as the plane landed, then taxied over toward them, crew members out on the tarmac directing the small plane in to a bright white X painted on the ground.

Gloria wanted so badly to run out that door, down the stairs and to that plane, but knew it wasn't possible. The man who had directed them there was stern in his instructions that they were to wait in the lobby. He said they weren't even supposed to be there, but circumstances being what they were, the airport had relented.

"Holy god, that must be Dean," Reenie whispered, watching as a thin, very tan, man stepped out of the plane, dressed in a simple polo shirt that looked to be a little too large, and a pair of cargo shorts. His face was clean shaven, but his dark brown hair was long and shaggy. The editor held her breath when she saw the sunlight glint off of a white shoe as someone else neared the open door. From the whimper she heard to her left, she knew it was Mia.

Gloria hadn't even realized she'd made a sound, her heart pounding, eyes already stinging. She couldn't take her eyes off of her daughter. "Oh my god," she said, voice cracking on the last word. "She's so thin."

"She's alive, my child," Lizbeth said, equally unable to take her eyes from the sight. Next a petit blonde stepped off the plane, her hair blowing around her head and shoulders as a slight breeze caught it. Gloria sucked in a breath.

"That's Rachel Holt,"

Reenie ran over to the door, face almost pressed to the glass as she watched the three being led toward the steep, narrow iron staircase. She was openly crying now, unable to take her eyes off Rachel. She couldn't believe how long her hair had gotten, how thin she was, and when green eyes rose to meet her own, Reenie was taken aback again by the deep sadness that filled them. Stepping away from the door only because she had to allow them to enter, Reenie flew back the instant the door was out of the way.

"Reenie!" Rachel cried, grabbing her best friend and pulling her close. She was stunned to see how hard the editor was crying, having never seen the woman cry in all their years of friendship. The display of emotion got her own tears going again. And just when she didn't think she had any tears left.

"Oh, Rachel," Reenie cried into the blonde's neck, almost crushing the author to her. "I thought you were dead," her words were almost unintelligible with the intensity of her emotion. Rachel said nothing, just held her, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

"Mamma!" Mia almost bowled Rachel and the editor over in order to get to her mother. Gloria met her halfway, the impact making them both lose their balance. Gloria barely managed to keep them both standing. She crushed Mia to her before pushing her away, needing to see for herself that she was okay, that she was alive! She touched the girl's face, her hair, saw Mia's overwhelmed emotion, much like her own. Pulling Mia back to her, she held her tight, rocking her just like she did when she was a child.

Mia had never felt so much relieved comfort in her entire life. The feel of her mother's arms around her, the sight of her even, brought her back to the days when she cried at a scraped knee, needing her mothers warm, comforting touch and words to let her know it was all okay.

"We had a funeral for you," Reenie cried, pulling back just enough to be able to look into green eyes, made verdant from the tears. "Goddamn you, don't you ever do that again!"

Rachel almost laughed as she was pulled into another bear hug. "I'm so sorry," she finally whispered. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you, too." Sniffling and attempting to get herself under control, Reenie smiled through her tears, bringing a hand up to touch the author's face. "I'm jealous of your tan."

Rachel did laugh, leaning into the touch.

"You're so thin, Rach. And your hair is so long," the editor ran her fingers through it. She just couldn't get her mind to wrap around what was happening, that Rachel was alive after just shy of fifteen months.

"I know," the blonde touched her own hair, so glad to have it clean and combed. She looked behind Reenie's shoulder to see Mia's reunion with her mom. The look on the woman's face made Rachel tear up all over again. An older woman stood off to the side, watching, her hands at her mouth. A rosary dangled from her clasped fingers.

"Mamma," Mia said, swiping at her face and taking deep breaths. "I want to introduce you to two very important people." Turning, she saw Rachel standing with a woman with short, dark hair, their arms around the other's waist, and Dean, who stood off to the side, his face flushed and moist from the touching scene. "This," she reached her arm out for Dean, who quickly entered the girl's personal space. "is Dean."

"Oh, Dean," Gloria said, taking the attorney in her arms. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Without your Will, I wouldn't have my baby back."

"It was my pleasure," Dean said softly, squeezing the woman before letting her go with a watery smile. Stepping aside, he motioned for Rachel.

"Mamma, I'd like you to meet Rachel Holt." Mia was proud to be able to introduce her mother to her favorite author, able to make her mother's day that much more special.

"Your daughter is one of the finest people I've ever known," Rachel said, her voice soft and sincere. She smiled at Mia, then turned to Gloria, only to find herself lost in another hug. Smiling, she hugged the woman back.

"Can you believe that most of our time on the island, I had no idea who she was?" Mia laughed, wanting to try and bring some levity to the emotions. Gloria and Rachel both chuckled, then shared another hug.

"Thank you for keeping my baby safe."

"Any time, Miss Vinzetti." Rachel turned to Mia. "You keep in touch, young lady."

Mia saluted with a wide grin. Turning to Dean, Rachel's heart automatically softened. She took his hands in her own, feeling their softness. "Go get him, Dean," she said softly, looking into his eyes, which were just as red-rimmed as the rest of theirs were. Dean nodded, beyond words as he took Rachel into her embrace. He hoped it wouldn't be the last time he saw her, but squeezed her as though it were.

"Take care of yourself, Rachel, and don't let her get away," he whispered into her ear, then placed a soft kiss on the side of her neck. Hugging Mia one last time, Dean backed out of the door, back toward the plane.

After introductions were finally over, Lizbeth's words of gratitude translated, Reenie took the blonde by the arm, leading her out of the small lobby, and into the rest of the airport toward the parking garage. As they walked, she kept glancing over at the author, still not believing her eyes.

"What?" Rachel finally asked, feeling Reenie's eyes on her for the sixth time, and they hadn't even reached the editor's rented car yet.

The brunette shook her head. "I don't know. It feels like I'm in a dream, I can't believe you're here." Stopping them with an arm to the blonde's arm, she pulled her into yet another hug, which was enthusiastically returned. "I'm glad your nightmare is over."

Rachel sighed into the hug, needing so badly for physical affection. Never before had she thought she was without it. Until Denny. "I'll tell you about it, Reen. Not now, but I'll tell you everything."


"Ah, son of a bitch," Duke muttered as he began to taxi.

"How the hell did they find out?" Garrison asked absently, eying the crowd that awaited their return. The cameras and lights gave it all away. "Shit!"

Denny heard the pilots talking and was curious to see what the problem was. It didn't take her long to find out. Dozens of reports and media had amassed outside the hangar, just off the tarmac. Vans from local news stations were clogging the parking lot, and men were setting up camera equipment as the door to the plane was opened. Immediately the sound of shutters clicking and questions yelled filled the cab. The three passengers exchanged looks, each feeling their nerves triple.

"Looks like you guys are outright celebrities," Duke said as he climbed out of the cockpit.

"Goody," Pam muttered.


Hannah closed her eyes, arching her head back to give Tiffany more of her neck to kiss. She moaned softly when she felt her breast cupped, the nipple growing hard at the warm contact.

"Oh, yes," she whispered. Laying back on the couch and taking the accountant with her. It was their nine month anniversary, and it had been a wonderful day, spent talking, eating the wonderful dishes Tiffany had created, and making love. Their relationship had taken a physical turn three weeks ago when Hannah finally felt she could go through with it. It had been awkward and tense, but ultimately, a wonderful night, and the right decision for the researcher.

Having sex with Tiffany that time had been difficult emotionally, as the last person to touch her had been Denny. She'd disappeared into the bathroom afterward, crying for a short time before she made the decision to let go, and commit fully to a new life, without Denny.

Now, as she could feel wet heat growing between her legs, Hannah blocked out thoughts of her dead lover, knowing that it would do no good anymore. Denny would never be forgotten, but ultimately, her memory had to be put away, stored in a safe place.

"Turn the TV off, baby," she whispered, the noise from the program they'd been watching distracting her. Tiffany hummed her acknowledgement of the request, but her mouth kept working on the brunette's neck as she blindly searched for the remote control.

"Shit," unable to locate it, Tiffany left her girlfriend's neck and fell to her knees on the floor in front of the couch, reaching underneath. Feeling the smoothness of the stubborn control, she was about to pull it out from under the furniture when she stopped, her gaze riveted to the TV screen.


"Oh, fuck," Reenie muttered as she turned the corner leading to her building. The drive from the airport had been long, and traffic had made it worse. Reenie had kept the radio on, as Rachel, who was quiet by nature, was damn near mute. She sensed something was very wrong, and tried to stay silently supportive, reaching over to squeeze her friend's hand from time to time, but said nothing. She figured when Rachel wanted to talk, she would.

Hearing the curse, the author brought her attention back from the clouds and to the mob of reporters swarming the outside of the editor's building.

"Shit, should I just keep driving? And what the hell?! Carrie said she'd take care of this!"

Rachel couldn't say she was all that surprised. When she found out her publisher was footing the bill to get everyone home, she knew they'd want some sort of return.

"No. They can't follow us inside. Let's just deal with it now."

"Are you sure?" Reenie was surprised. At one time the blonde would have had them slink off to a hotel for the night.


Trying to swallow her anger down, anger at Carrie for going back on her word, and anger at the damn hungry public who would do anything for news. She gunned the engine, startling a few of the reports, and pulling up in front of the building. A valet man was right there to meet her.

"Do not let those bastards near my car," she growled, shoving an uncounted wad of bills into the kid's hand. She grabbed Rachel by the arm, and together they faced the swarm.


Michael had no idea where to look or what to do or say. As they climbed down the stairs of the plane, they immediately had cameras and microphones in their faces, and dozens of shouted questions. He kept hearing his name, and when he'd turn to respond, he was met with another bright flash of light.

"Hey, give them some room!" Garrison yelled, trying to get in front of the three rescued. "Jesus! They just get back to civilization and this is the welcome they get? Get outta here!"

Duke quickly rushed the three into the hangar, the more aggressive journalists following.


Hannah absently put her shirt back into place, eyes riveted on the screen.

"It is an absolutely miracle in New York, today. Last summer the country was stunned to hear about the three survivors, dubbed as the Lucky Three, who survived international flight 1049 in the off-course waters of the Caribbean. Fifteen months later, three more survivors, including novelist Rachel Holt seen here, were rescued from an unmapped island. It's not yet known how the survivors were found, or exactly how many there are."

"Oh my god," Tiffany breathed, transfixed. She watched the footage of the blonde author, long through dead, being ushered into a building, a woman with short, dark hair guiding her by the arm. Rachel Holt looked dazed and very tired. She said nothing, just hurried through the throngs until she disappeared behind the double glass doors of the building. The newscast moved onto other things. "Let's see if there's anymore coverage." She flipped the channel, and was not disappointed.

"Rob, we couldn't get any of the survivors to talk to us today, but we're told that there are six survivors total," the reporter explained, glancing down at her notes.

"Do we have any names as of yet?" the anchorman asked.

"We do know that the author Rachel Holt is one of the survivors. Other than that, no, we have no names." Suddenly the reporter's voice was the voice over of footage shot earlier in the morning.

Hannah shot off the couch, eyes huge as she fell to her knees in front of the entertainment center where the TV was housed. She watched as three people disembarked from the small seaplane, two women and a man. She watched as the three were ushered away, a small, blonde woman trying to shoo the reporters away. Hannah didn't care about any of that. What caught her eye was the woman with dark hair. She was tall, deeply tanned and very slim. She thought about Denny, and her constant complaining about the last fifteen pounds she wasn't able to lose. This woman's body looked nothing like Denny's, but her hair, the color, longer than Denny's, but...

Hannah's gasp caught Tiffany's attention. Turning to the screen, she saw the tall woman with dark hair had turned, facing the camera, very brief, but not brief enough.

"Oh my god," the accountant whispered, stunned beyond stunned. "That's Denny, isn't it?" She'd seen enough pictures of the beautiful brunette to know her, though Hannah's reaction had mostly pointed toward that conclusion. Even now, the researcher could only nod, her hand covering her mouth, eyes filling with unshed tears.


Dean stepped off the plane, glad to see the car waiting for him that Reenie had arranged. The door was opened for him, and he settled into the backseat. The attorney's stomach was turning, leaving him feeling nauseous and anxious. Leaning forward, he noted the time on the dashboard clock, and knew that Will would be in his office, probably working on his third cup of decaf.


Dean let out a long, slow breath at the thought. Running a hand through his hair, which was far too long and heavy, he closed his eyes for a moment, allowing images to enter his brain unhindered. He couldn't wait to see him, couldn't wait to be able to inhale Will's cologne, run his fingers through the thick, sandy hair.

Over the time he'd been gone, Dean had thought a lot about their relationship. It was good, had always been good, but he realized just how much they'd taken each other for granted over the decade and some change they'd been together. After more than a year away from Will, Dean couldn't ever imagine taking for granted the fact that he can wake up next to him, see his face, hear his voice, feel his touch, every single day. As far as he was concerned, the town car he was currently in couldn't get to Will fast enough.


Denny rested her head against the back of the mini-van seat, breathing out then sucking in lungfulls of air. She hadn't been expecting the welcome wagon, and could tell Michael and Pam were just as rattled. In the front seat of the van, Garrison and Duke were in a heated discussion about who could have alerted the media.

"I'm telling you, Monk, I made all of my people sign a sworn document. I don't know who talked."

"What about your wife? Any of your kids..."

"I don't know." Duke shrugged. "I can't imagine they would, but I just don't know. It could've been anyone."

Denny allowed their conversation to ease into a constant buzz in the back of her mind, her thoughts returning to her surroundings. She was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings racing through her. She felt almost like she'd landed on another planet, gazing in wonder at the cars that passed, the buildings and people strolling along the sidewalks.

"Feels weird, doesn't it?" Pam whispered beside her. The brunette nodded, grateful for the warmth of Pam's body sitting next to hers.

"I'm not sure what to look at first." She smiled absently at Pam's soft chuckle.


Rachel was almost tossed into Reenie's apartment, the editor slammed the door shut behind them, leaning against it.

"Son of a bitch!" she exclaimed, blowing dark bangs out of her eyes. "I'm going to fucking kill-" Reenie was cut off by a gentle hand to her upper chest. She looked into tired, green eyes.

"Let it go, Reen. It was bound to happen." With that, she stepped into the editor's personal space, and Reenie found herself enveloped in a warm hug, soft, blonde hair resting on her shoulder. She smiled with a soft chuckle.

"You know, in all the years I've known you, you've never initiated a hug before."

Rachel thought about that as she tightened her arms around her closest friend. She so desperately needed the comfort of familiarity. "Life changes people."

"What happened to you on that island, Rach? Your eyes," Reenie pulled gently away, looking into the blonde's face with drawn brows. She studied the depths of Rachel's eyes, amazed to see just how expressive they were, usually so guarded. "Was it bad?" she whispered. She was relieved by the small smile and shake of Rachel's head.

"No. Just..." the author tried to think of exactly what it was. "altering." She knew that made little sense, but it was the best she could do.


Will Ash winced as his third cup of coffee singed his tongue. "Damn it," he grumbled, setting the mug down on the corner of his desk, then walking over to the wet bar in his corner office, snatching a paper towel to wipe the small amount that had dribbled down his chin. He was just glad he'd managed to get to it before it had spilled on his new tie.

Tossing the soiled paper towel away, the architect walked back over to his desk, sighing heavily as he sat in the leather chair, swinging around to the computer terminal against the window-lined wall. It was a beautiful day in Manhattan, not too hot, scattered clouds in the sky. Perhaps he'd take a nice, leisurely walk at lunch.


The town car pulled up in front of the skyscraper, Dean craning his neck to see up to the sky. With a smile of gratitude to the driver, Dean let himself out of the car, slamming the door behind him. Looking up and down the familiar street, the attorney breathed in the scent of Manhattan in late summer. He couldn't wait to take a walk in Central Park with Will, hand in hand.


Brad Schuester typed the email, fingers flying over the keys at seventy-two words per minute, the gold ring on his left pinky glinting off the light from the reading light anchored above his head. He chewed on his bottom lip, wincing as he caught a single hair from his neatly trimmed goatee.

"That should do it," he muttered, tapping the send key and waiting for the sent confirmation. Getting the screen he needed, the assistant twirled his chair around to the filing cabinets behind him, about to tug open the drawer with files landing from O-Z, as he knew Will would want the Rollings-Homestead file pulled for his meeting at ten that morning.

The door to Will's personal office suite opened, letting in a cacophony of shrill protests.

"You can't go in there, sir!" Martha Munez was exclaiming, running after the strange man who just sauntered right past her desk, headed to Will Ash's offices. He ignored her, even as she managed to get her plump body out from around her desk, short, stubby legs working hard to catch up to him.

Brad sucked in a breath, heart stilling in his chest.

"Brad! This man-"

"It's okay, Martha," he breathed, unable to say anything else.


Will smoothed down his tie, readjusting the gold clip as he switched on his drafting table light, spreading out the plans he'd been working on over the weekend. Walking back over to his desk, he grabbed a pencil from the cup, tapping it on the palm of his other hand on the way back over to the table. His attention was drawn toward his office door at a shrill voice in the outer office.


"Dean?" Brad whispered, a manicured hand reaching up to remove the gold rimmed computer glasses from his nose. His movements were slow, as though he were moving through water. The man standing before him, hair long and shaggy, skin deeply tanned, and devastatingly handsome, grinned at him, nodding. The assistant threw himself at the attorney, unsure of what to say, or how to react. He was in a deep fog, the only reality the strong embrace he received.

"Is he here?" Dean asked into the man's ear. At Brad's nod, Dean pulled away, then with a wink, headed toward the door with the newly spit-shined WILL ASH engraved in it.


After the shrillness, there was complete and total silence. A little niggling feeling tickled at the back of Will's neck, causing him to toss his pencil on the drafting table and head towards his office door to make sure everything was alright. Reaching his hand out toward the doorknob, he jumped back, startled, as the door swung open, barely missing him. Standing back, he watched as a man walked in, dressed in Army green cargo shorts and a gray polo shirt. Will's eyes trailed up tanned arms, noting dark, shaggy hair, and dark, twinkling eyes.

The force of what stood before him hit Will square between the eyes, knocking him to his knees. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think, could only stare. He watched as the apparition sank to its knees in front of him, warm, trembling hands taking Will's cold, clammy ones.

"Hey, baby," Dean whispered, seeing the cold shock in Will's wide eyes. "It's me. I made it." He felt hot tears making their way down his cheeks, matching those that had begun to leak out of Will's own eyes.

"I knew you couldn't be dead," Will breathed, finally feeling his heart begin to beat again. "Oh, god, Dean."

The attorney was knocked back against the door with the fierce hug he found himself surrounded by. He banged his head, but didn't care. All that mattered was the man he loved was in his arms again, their tears mingling as Will began to pepper kisses all over Dean's face, pulling back to look at him, making sure that he was, in fact real.

"I love you," Dean cried, squeezing Will to him, almost painfully so, but he didn't care.

"I looked so hard," Will sobbed, finally knocking the attorney to his back, half lying on top of him. He couldn't stop the emotions that were flying through him. Brushing long strands of hair out of Dean's eyes, he looked at his face, guilt beginning to pool in his stomach. "I don't understand how this happened," he whispered, touching Dean's face, running a thumb over his brow and down his cheek bones, caressing the skin of his jaw. "We," the architect swallowed hard, his eyes dropping even as tears continued to fall from them. "We stopped the search."

Dean's heart broke as Will shattered before him. Pushing himself up to a sitting position, he pulled Will in again him. "Shh, it's okay," he whispered, rocking the sobbing man. "Keller and Garrison made one last go at it, and they found us, Will. They went for you."

Overtaken yet again, Will clung to Dean, burying his face in a warm neck. "Oh, my Dean."

Rachel sat up against the headboard, Reenie's laptop balanced on her thighs, an empty Word doc waiting to be filled. The cursor had been blinking at her for ten minutes, the screen finally going black before it changed to Reenie's screensaver of dancing penguins. Green eyes didn't notice, instead staring straight ahead.

It amazed the blonde how she could be in a place that was a second home to her, filled with familiar sights and smells, and filled with the love of her best friend. Yet she had never felt so alone.

The slight tapping on the closed bedroom door brought Rachel out of her distant, dark thoughts. "Yeah?" Shaking her head, Rachel looked down at the screen as though seeing it for the first time. She ran a finer over the touch pad the dispel the screensaver.

"Hey. Here." Reenie stepped into the room, a steaming mug in both hands. "Mint fudge hot chocolate."

"Ohh," the blonde almost purred, setting the laptop aside as she took the proffered mug. The brunette slid onto the bed beside her friend. Dark brows drew.

"You've been in here for two hours, and haven't written a thing." She met sheepish green eyes. "Honey, that's not like you." Reenie reached up, brushing a long, golden strand out of the author's face. "Are you okay?"

Rachel sighed, resting her head against the editor's shoulder. "I was fine, Reenie. I was totally focused on my career, my writing was steady and my head clear." The blonde's voice was soft, almost a whisper. She sipped from her drink, swallowing slowly. "My life was fine."

Reenie heard the soft words, bringing up a hand to run through the long strands. It was strange for the brunette, expecting to see Rachel's beautiful, golden, short hair. The longer style just didn't suit her, somehow. Bringing her focus back to Rachel's words, she cleared her throat.

"What happened, Rachel?" The blonde set her mug on the side table, then turned back to her friend, curling up to her side. A comforting arm snaked around her shoulders. "Talk to me."

After a deep sigh, Rachel began her story. "I met the most amazing soul on that island, Reenie. My eyes and heart have been opened in a way that I just don't know what to do with here back home. There," she snorted ruefully, "she was just part of my everyday." The blonde felt the sting of tears behind her eyes. "I feel so lost," she whispered.

Reenie was stunned, but said nothing. She rested her cheek against the top of Rachel's head and continued to run her fingers through her hair.

"It's not only her. I just feel like my entire world, the world I knew, doesn't exist anymore. I'm not sure where to begin."

"I'm so sorry, sweetie." Reenie kissed the golden head. "I can't imagine what you're feeling right now."

"I just feel numb. Completely and utterly numb."

"You've been given a second chance, Rach. That has to be for a reason. You're not alone, and I'll be here for you every step of the way. You've got to know that."

After a moment, Rachel nodded. "I do know that." Another pause. "I'm going to ask Matt for a divorce. I need to set him free."

"I can't believe that son of a bitch did that to you." No matter what kind of amends the editor and the detective had made, it still made Reenie angry to think of the pain he'd caused her friend. Rachel shook her head.

"None of that matters anymore Reen. I'm over it, and ultimately I can't say I blame him." She felt the editor grow stiff as her anger grew. Rachel pushed slightly away, just enough to look back at her friend. She placed a calming hand to the woman's shoulder. "It doesn't matter, Reenie. Truly. That's all over with now."

The editor decided to let it go. After all, it wasn't her marriage. "So, tell me about this woman."

Rachel's smile was instant, yet her heart began to ache. "She's wonderful," the blonde whispered, staring off into distant space. "She's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, Reenie. Her heart, it just, it just... glows."



"Have you ever been attracted to a woman before?" The editor sipped from her cooling mug of mint chocolate.

"No. In truth, I've never been truly attracted to anyone. Before. No, not even Matt," the blonde said, forestalling the question she knew would be coming. "I feel like I've been reborn."

"Where is she now?"

"I don't know. On her way back to her partner in Buffalo, I imagine."

Silence reigned as Rachel felt silent tears run down her cheeks, Reenie lost in her thoughts. She was trying to get her mind to somersault over what she had just been told, yet not react. She could feel the pain radiating off Rachel in waves, the slight body shaking with the intensity of her emotion.

"It's going to be okay, sweetie," she whispered, placing another kiss on the blonde's head. "It's going to be okay."


Tiffany chewed on the oversized sleeve of her sweatshirt, body curled up against the arm of the couch. She watched the images on the screen, now just about the only thing on TV. She tried not to listen to Hannah's pleading voice on the phone.

"There has got to be some way for you to get me through," the brunette demanded to the woman on the other line. Her forehead was wrinkled in consternation. "I don't give a shit what the station manager said! One of the survivors that were brought in, and your cameras caught, is my goddamn partner!"

Tiffany was startled by the loud expletive then the sound of the phone slammed into its cradle. "No luck?"

"No," Hannah blew out, running her hands through her hair. She pushed up off the couch, almost tossing Tiffany off with the force. Walking to the front window of the small house, she blew out another breath. Hannah's mind was filled with a tempest of thoughts and feelings. She was standing in her girlfriend's house, where they'd spent the past thirty-three hours sharing their bodies, and she believed, Tiffany's heart. So many thoughts and feelings were throwing themselves at her, Hannah wasn't sure which one to latch onto first. So deeply entrenched in her thoughts, she cried out in surprise when her cell phone chirped to life in the other room. The researcher hurdled the coffee table in her haste to get to her phone.


"Hey, baby. It's me."

Hannah blew out a breath, falling to sit on the edge of the bed, eyes squeezed shut. "Oh god, Denny. Oh, god. I saw you on the news, I've been trying desperately to find a way to get hold of you..."

Denny ran a hand through her hair as she rested her elbows on her thighs. She wasn't sure how she'd feel once she heard Hannah's voice: would she be filled with guilt? Uncertainty? Regret? She felt none of those things- only relief.

"I'm here, Hannah. I'm coming home today. I'll be in later tonight." Denny's eyes slid closed at the sob she heard on the other end of the line. "Please don't cry," she whispered. "I can't stand it when you cry." She felt her own tears brimming.

"God, Denny, I've missed you so much!" Hannah gushed, suddenly overwhelmed by her need to see the tall brunette.

"I've missed you, too, baby." Denny covered her face with her hand, trying valiantly to focus her sole concentration on the voice at the other end of the line. "I can't wait to get home, to you, get my life back," the last words were muffled behind her hand.

Hannah's eyes flew open, her hand covering her mouth. "Oh, god," she breathed.


One last shuddering gasp, and Dean found himself enveloped in a desperate, full-body hug. He tried to get his breath back as he clung to Will, who had begun to string baby kisses along his neck and jaw. The attorney chuckled, gently pushing at Will's shoulders.

"I need a breather, baby," he panted, wrapping his arms around the architect's neck and pulling him close. Dark eyes closed as Dean inhaled his partner's scent.

"Mmmm, I missed you," Will whispered, rolling to his back and pulling Dean with him. Dean said nothing, just snuggled in, luxuriating in the feel of skin, the hardness of Will's body and softness of the bed beneath them. "We're going to have a huge party, invite all our friends, reintroduce you back into the world."

Dean sighed, content and sated. "I want to just lie here with you forever, Will."

"We can do that, too."

Dean raised himself so his cheek rested in his palm. He studied the handsome face of the beautiful man he'd just spent all afternoon making love to. It had all happened so soon, so quickly, like a whirlwind. One minute they'd been there lying on the carpet of Will's office, the next settled into Will's Lexus, driving home. Dean hadn't been able to take his eyes off the architect the entire ride, drinking him in like water in the desert. As soon as the car was parked, the two men had hurried inside the building, Will pushed against the elevator wall as the door whooshed shut. Dean couldn't keep his hands and mouth off of him, the year's worth of abstinence catching up in one fell swoop.

At the moment, lying in their bed. Almost forgotten in Dean's album of memories, nothing else mattered- not the luxury cars, the amazing loft in downtown Manhattan, not even the hundreds of pairs of finely polished Gucci loafers lined up in the closet, all waiting for Dean to come home and wear them. Gazing into Will's face, brushing sand-colored hair back from his brow, Dean realized his world was complete.

"I love you so much," he whispered, leaning down to place a soft kiss on Will's lips. The architect smiled softly. He always knew Dean loved him, but he couldn't remember the last time he'd heard him say it in such a long time, even before he boarded that plane for Milan.

"I love you, too, Dean. Always."

"And forever."


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