Four months later…
She didn't move in with Lennox officially but a few months into training the new recruits Felice decided that she didn't need her apartment at DC anymore. They were spending the better part of their downtime at his place anyway. Taking a few things with her to Oceana in order to make her spartan apartment more homely – Chris had nicknamed it 'the cell' when he'd once visited her – the rest of her belongings sneaked their way into Lennox' home.
And while neither of them considered it to be a big deal, it was Epps who saw the true meaning in this action: the two most stubborn people in the world finally getting it together.
One year later…
She was out at the carrier again when she got the call. Lennox had been severely injured on a mission. If it hadn't been for Sideswipe's new reinforced protective gear NEST now used, the Colonel would not have survived being hemmed in between a wall and the dead 'Con Bee had thrown aside haphazardly, unaware of the man standing right in the way.
Felice moved heaven and earth to get off the boat and back to the mainland, finding the leader of NEST lying in a hospital bed at some military base in the middle of nowhere. Neither a dislocated shoulder, nor the fractured leg or the broken ribs were keeping Lennox from cracking jokes about the incident, but one look in his blue eyes told her that he too was shaken about the close call.
He'd expected her to be mad and yell at him for being so reckless, therefore it came as quite the surprise when she suddenly reached for her necklace, slipping the ring from it and held it out to him.
"I am ready now." she whispered.
"'You sure that you are not overreacting?" Lennox teased as he took the ring. "I mean I am not dying so why the rush now?"
His smile faltered however when he saw her hurt glare.
"I'm sorry, Felice. I didn't mean it." he said softly, taking her hand and stroking it lightly. He looked back at the ring in his one hand and her slender fingers in his other.
"So this is what you want?"
"All in." she replied, a sheepish yet genuine smile enlightening her features.
He didn't need to be asked twice after that.
Two years later…
"Stroke of genius." Lennox murmured, still amazed as they walked out of the hangar, his arm boldly around Felice' shoulders.
"I always get what I want." the young woman retorted with a smirk, not hiding her satisfaction that they had managed to convince the higher-ups.
Every new applicant for the naval NEST program would have to go through six months of ground training at DC before starting the ACM-classes at NAS Oceana. Felice had had the idea after talking to a Marine fighter pilot on her last cruise. It was SOP for them and having been in a ground fight herself, she could relate to the love and respect for close-air support the Marine had spoken about. She wanted her pilots to get a feeling for the situation on the ground and after thinking it over, she'd reckoned as the best option for her to get back to DC yet stay in touch with her fellow pilots. Bricks would supervise the training at Oceana while she would train the recruits with Lennox and his team here in DC. At least that was how she had sold the idea to General Morshower and the other officials.
"But it means that you are not flying anymore. At least not that much." Lennox reasoned when they exited the car and walked the short way up to Epps' home who had invited the team for barbecue that evening. "Doesn't that bother you?"
He looked at her; seeing the inscrutable smile he'd noticed a few times over the past weeks broaden.
"I'll get used to it." she quipped; her thoughts trailing to the small while plastic stick that was resting in the drawer of her bedside table since a short while, the small ' + ' telling an unmistakable story.
She would tell him about that later.
Two years and three months later…
The team was taken by complete surprise when they announced their wedding. Having seen Felice and Lennox as an official couple for only a short while, it was clear they had not expected them to get hitched so soon.
They shared their joy nonetheless, yet demanding a fair amount of goodwill from the two who had to endure quite some jokes. But neither of them cared that much and so the guys – Jones and Epps prominent among them – soon became bored of teasing the 'lovebirds', wondering what made them so immune to their banter.
"Wait until they hear the other news." Lennox spoke out what they both were thinking.
"Oh, nothing will ever come close to your reaction, trust me." Felice whispered back, her voice filled with glee.
"You'll never let me forget that." Lennox groaned.
"Not a chance." Felice laughed.
It had been the evening after Epps' barbecue. They had been heading home and while he – Lennox – was busy packing his duffle bag for the next day Felice had approached him with a small rectangular box, holding it out to him.
"What's the occasion?" he'd asked, opening the box, the smile faltering immediately.
Vividly, he remembered the feeling when he'd recognized the item. It was as though he was back in a fighter jet, being shot off a carrier because the lurch in his stomach as he processed the news felt exactly the same. His mouth fell open, but no words came out. He continued staring at her and it took him a few moments to regain his power of speech.
"But are you sure…"
"And I am…" he'd trailed off as he saw her raised eyebrow and realized he'd said about the dopiest thing he could have.
"Sorry…" he'd mumbled, but Felice had burst into a fit of laughter at his expression.
"Smooth, Colonel." she'd giggled still marveling the look on his face. But then she got serious again. "Since we're doing everything in the wrong order..."
Lennox shot her another questioning look, evidently having lost his power of speech again.
"Our little thing in Qatar before starting to work with each other. We get engaged before living in the same place. Why not having a baby before being married?" she'd counted on her fingers in a matter-of-fact tone.
"So you planned it?" Lennox had asked, setting the box aside.
"God, no. But things happen. And sometimes they happen for a reason." she'd said softly and before she had moved another inch, Lennox had wrapped her up in his arms, his lips firmly on hers.
"That they do." he'd laughed, kissing her breathless.
The sun was blazing but the breeze that came from the ocean was cool and pleasant. Lennox' gaze wandered over the green lawn and towards the row of bushes behind which the dunes and the beach lay concealed. He stood next to Chris Edwards who had been following his gaze.
"I can't believe that your parents don't live here all year." he said with a hand gesture that included the property: a spacious beach-house just outside Virginia Beach yet in a quiet neighborhood that had nothing in common with the tourist places just a stone's throw away.
"Nah, they prefer to stay close to their grand-children up in Minnesota." he replied. "But I am glad that you like it."
"It's perfect." Lennox replied with a genuine smile as his gaze hovered on the four rows of chairs that had been arranged in the rear area of the garden.
Neither of them had wanted a big wedding like the one of their team mate James they had attended a few years ago. So when Chris had made the offer to Felice and him, they'd taken it more than gladly. Only their closest friends were there; Epps, Chris, Scott, Jones, Lori and Bricks among them. And while all their guests would be able to stay at the beach house after the reception, they had chosen a place that ensured a little more privacy – neither of them had breathed a single word about the plan of course.
They had insisted on no ties and so Lennox stood there in his dark blue suit and white shirt, the top button of his collar open, waiting for Felice. She was in the house with Lori and her parents and although he'd seen her dress hanging on the side of her closet a few days earlier, he now held his breath when she finally stepped outside.
She walked towards him, all calm and relaxed and while she did so, he couldn't help but think of a fairy. Her sheath dress, pearly white with a layer of pale silver floral lace covering it, didn't give away her condition as it glittered in the sunlight. She'd let down her hair. It floated in waves down her back, held back by a subtle hair circlet of miniature white flowers and pearls. Matching buckle pumps completed the look. Her outfit was plain yet so special; it took him a few moments to snap out of his trance.
Meanwhile, Chris had walked away to give them some privacy and taken his seat along with all the other guests so that just the two of them were standing a few feet away from the party.
"Last chance to run." she said, her voice playful and her smile vibrant as she fastened a flower that matched her circlet at his lapel.
"Oh no. Not a chance." he smirked, taking her hand, his thumb brushing over the tattoo on her wrist. "And you?"
"No way." she smiled, entwining their fingers and together they walked towards the aisle, waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Five years later…
"Mommy, can Ella come too?" the young girl asked, eagerly tugging at her mother's hand and looking up at her.
Felice shook her head with a smile.
"No, Grace. She's still too small." she explained softly to her daughter as she fastened the seatbelt around her waist. The blonde-haired girl pouted disappointedly so she knelt down, taking her small hands into her own.
"When she is older, she can come up with us, but for now she has to stay with daddy. See, she's asleep and we don't want to wake her."
Grace seemed to consider this for a moment; then nodded, peering towards the hangar. Lennox was standing there, hands tucked into the pockets of his dark jeans, the white t-shirt showing his athletic frame, wearing shades and a smile that made Felice' heart skip a beat even after almost seven years of relationship. As she closed the door and strode around the propeller-driven plane for a last check-up, he approached her, watching her actions.
"Recruiting another fighter pilot?" he asked with a grin as he saw their daughter literally soaking in every detail of the cockpit. It was Grace's second flight today and for what he could read in the little girl's face, her mother had done a pretty good job so far.
"You can take her sky diving when she's older. Then she can decide whether she wants to jump out of a plane or fly it." Felice retorted not missing a beat, returning her husband's grin.
"That's a deal." he replied, slipping a hand around her waist and pulling her close, his lips brushing hers.
Felice smiled into the kiss, knowing that she had already won. If it hadn't been she herself who was manning the Cessna, Grace wouldn't have flown at all because Lennox adored their eldest daughter and she doubted very much that his protective instincts would ever loosen enough to permit her to jump out of a plane.
She had given up fairly early persuading Lennox to take a less dangerous job at NEST, though it had taken her quite some time not to worry sick every day when he parted for work, knowing firsthand how dangerous it could get.
Soon after the birth of their first daughter she had become active again, now working as a consultant for the naval NEST program and to her great astonishment it had taken no time at all to become used to her new job which involved much less physical action than her previous employments. She still loved flying and did so as often as she could but her priorities had changed.
She looked at her two beautiful children, sleeping peacefully their father's arms that evening as he read to them – Grace clutching a plush airplane while Ella's hand was curled into Lennox' shirt – and thought that she wouldn't want to trade that for anything in the world.
AN: So that's it. The end of Lennox' and Felice' journey together. At least for now... ;-)
I want to thank each and everyone of you for reading, fav'ing and following the story, thereby giving me the motivation, inspiration and courage to continue writing. Your support means the world to me!
Lots of Love, Firefly! XOXO