A/N: Written for IDF 2009. Special thanks to widget007 for the beta.


It was a sight that warmed her heart in a way that she never expected. The sight of another wom-an holding her son so lovingly. She never knew she could love so deeply, so fiercely, until she held her son for the first time. It was a love that she knew she’d kill for – she’d do anything to protect her son. And it was so surprising to see that same fierce love reflected in the eyes of the other woman. A woman who loved her son as much as she did. A woman who had already put her life on the line protecting her son… and her.

Dana felt her heart skip a beat as Monica looked up and returned her gaze. Why was it her dark eyes always seemed to pierce her soul? Her eyes always seemed to see past the carefully erected walls of protection she hid herself behind. Monica knew her better than she liked to admit. Better than she thought anyone would ever know her. Without her cooperation, the dark beauty had brushed past her barriers as if they were nonexistent. And with her seemingly infinite patience and kindness, Monica had not only touched her heart, but set up residence there.

“I think he’s finally fallen back asleep,” Monica said softly. She stood and gently placed William in his crib, pulling his blanket up and smoothing it over him. With a final, loving caress she moved from the crib to stand directly in front of the redhead. “I wanted to let you sleep. Sorry if we woke you.”

“You didn’t. But I,” she paused, unsure of herself. “When I woke up and you weren’t there… I missed you.” God, that had been hard to admit.

Monica smiled as she reached up and tenderly caressed her cheek. She spoke softly, her words no less sincere for their lack of volume. “I’ll never go far, Dana. I’ll always be here for you.”

The lump that grew in her throat made it difficult to speak. “Always?”

“As long as you want me.”

Any remnants of her barriers crumbled into nothingness at the sincerity and intensity of Monica’s declaration. Dana found herself melting into her embrace, closing her eyes, and thanking God for such a miraculous gift. Tears stung the backs of her eyes and colored her voice. “Then stay… for-ever.”

She felt Monica pull back. Dana opened her eyes to see naked adoration in Monica’s eyes. She felt gentle fingertips brush away an errant tear.

“I love you, Dana.”

Her heart clenched with knowledge it was true. “I love you, too,” she whispered.

Her breath was stolen by the most tender of kisses.