Part Nine – A New Year

It was hard to believe that it was already New Year's Eve and I was spending it like normal, on my couch… Though this year was a little different, I wasn't alone this time. Cassidy had protested, sighting that she was oh so much older now at all of nine and should be able to stay up, I shut that down, however….

Still, as I looked around my living room, I had a few people over, and by people I mean kansen. We had set up a countdown till midnight and it was getting so very close. I spotted Richelieu making her way over to me, being as discreet as she could, we still hadn't announced anything to the base yet, so only Jean Bart knew what was going on in the room.

10….

I felt Richelieu bump me with her hip, letting me know where she was.

9….

I gave another quick scan of the room.

8… 7… 6…

"Everyone, grab someone!" called out Bremerton as she got up on a chair with her phone out to snap a picture.

5… 4…

I turned to face Richelieu.

3… 2…

Richelieu smiles at me and winks.

1…

I kiss her with as much passion as I could display for her. What surprised me was the room was silent, you could hear the beeping on the alarm; everyone else was holding their breath. When our kiss broke, we put our foreheads together and it was Richelieu who spoke first, "I love you, Daniel."

From around the room, we heard a collective, "What?!" One call of, "Took you long enough." And one door opening and closing.

Richelieu squeezed my right hand as she laced her fingers through it while she tried to hide her face in my shoulder. I had hoped for a quiet event, but it turned into one of being grilled for as Bremerton put it, the deets.

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I closed the door behind Jean Bart, who was the last one to leave and I turned to face Richelieu while she cleaned up some of the cups, I smiled to myself, these last two weeks had felt so right, so natural to share this house with her. She looked up and smiled at me as she said, "That went better than I thought it would, they all seemed accepting of it."

I nod and sit on the couch, I knew what I wanted to ask right now, and I had a good feeling about what she would say, but I need to confirm something first. I reach out and pull her to sit across my lap; Richelieu tilts her head to the side and asks me, "Daniel, what is on your mind?"

Running a hand over my head, I sigh and I ask, "How have you felt about staying over here, getting a front-row seat into my life outside of work?"

Richelieu puts her index finger against her chin, clearly thinking about how to answer my question. After a few moments, I see her shrug and tell me, "It has been interesting."

Huh… non-committal.

She seems to pick up on my neutrality to her answer when she twists slightly to place her arms around my neck and tells me, "It is not been an unpleasant thing, and truth be told, I have enjoyed it."

I nod, and swallow hard before I ask, "So, if I were to float the idea of you moving in…"

She smiled at me, putting her head against mine as she says, "Oui."

"But I haven't asked anything…" I say to her, trying to have some fun.

She leans back, smiling and putting some false hurt in her voice, "Are you saying that you do not want me to?"

"I'll have to check with Cassidy first…" I say to her, turning serious in my tone.

From above us on the second floor, I hear my daughter, who is up way, way past her bedtime; call out, "I'm good with it!"

Richelieu winks at me as she says, "I think we have an answer."

I sigh and call up the stairs, "Cassidy, you need to get to bed."

I hear her sigh out, "Fine…."

Richelieu slips off of my lap and tugs on my hand as she says to me, "That sounds like a fine idea for us as well. All of this will keep till we wake up…"

Yeah, I didn't need any more convincing…

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Once Richelieu had moved in, I was surprised how quickly we all fell into a routine and how quickly Richelieu and Cassidy were bonding with one another. It honestly warmed my heart to see them taking to each other so fast and easily. It made time just fly by, before I knew it almost half a year had gone by and I found myself walking up to Jean Bart's hideaway, feeling like my insides were doing backflips.

Once I got close I saw Jean sitting on a rock, a bottle of rum beside her, just looking out at the sea. I cross onto the beach and take a seat beside her and without looking at me she handed the rum bottle to me. I put my hand up and I say, "Thanks, but I'm on duty."

She shrugs and puts it down beside her before leaning back and propping herself up with her arms she asks, "What bring ya by Commandant?"

I sigh and look out at the water before I speak, "Things with Richelieu have been going really, really well."

"I know, Richi talks." She says to me before sighing.

I take my cap off and rub my head that causes Jean to laugh and tease, "She's right, you do, do that when you've got something on your mind."

I smirk and put my cap back on before I take a deep breath and ask, "Jean, could I ask you a favor?"

She shrugs and makes a motion for me to ask what is on my mind, I close my eyes and take a calming breath before I ask, "Would you mind going with me into town to try and find a good engagement ring for Richelieu?"

She laughed, and laughed hard before she told me, "You've got one already."

I blink a couple of times as she elaborates, "You stuck it in your desk… I didn't find it; so much as I had it made ahead of time after Richi started to talk about you, a lot."

"I don't follow…" I say to her a little stunned.

Jean sighs before sipping more rum and laying it all out for me, "I knew you two would get there eventually. I saw it when the two of you sat on that rock and held hands with each other, there was something there, something that would grow into something big."

I reach over, putting an arm around her shoulders and pulling her into a hug as she made a sound of surprise I said to her, "You are a fantastic sister-in-law…. if she says yes, that is."

Jean pushed me back and teased, "I'm not taking that bet."

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When I got home that evening, I could hear music being played in my house, actual music not that noise that Cassidy likes to listen to with Bouge and Maury. As I enter I can see that Cassidy's shoes are gone and I look at my watch, she'll likely be home soon for dinner, this actually makes things easier.

I move through the house to the kitchen and I see long strawberry blond hair standing at the stove, making some kind of sauce, she is singing along with the music in her native tongue, it sounds so beautiful. I lean against the doorway to the kitchen and wait, after a few moments she turns slightly to look at me over her shoulder and she smiles at me with that warm, loving, and welcoming smile. I cross the room, slipping a hand into my right pants pocket, and take out the ring that Jean had given me all those months ago that I had just tossed in that drawer. Richelieu looks at me sideways, raising an eyebrow as she asks, "Daniel?"

I stop just in front of her, kneeling as I take her left hand in mine and use my right hand to slip the ring onto her left ring finger as I say to her, "Richelieu, you awoke something inside me, something that I had thought was long lost, long dead. That I had only been pushing myself through to make sure Cassidy grew up safe and happy. Now though, I have someone and something in my life beyond that, someone that has become so important to me that I cannot go a day without being with her…"

I pause to look up at her; I can see tears starting to well up in her eyes as I ask, "Will you marry me?"

After a moment, she gave me a smile that turned a little sad for a moment before she said, "Oui. But understand Daniel, as the one who guides Iris Orthodoxy, I cannot make an oath solely to you. However, I vow to protect and support you for as long as I live. This, I vow, on the holy name of Iris..."

I nod, I understand, she was after all more or less a head of state, so I got it… still… I'll take what I can get.

I stand and warp her into a tight embrace, before kissing her, almost pushing her over in the process she kissed back. I slide my hands down to her thighs, bending at my knees slightly before I lift her onto the kitchen island, while my kissing moved from her lips to her neck. Richelieu started to pant and moan as I let my hands start to roam up and down her body, she said, "Dinner… it… will… burn…"

My kissing moved from the side of her neck to her chest and I said back to her, "Let it burn, we can get take out."

She made a noise like she really liked what I was doing before she said, "Then take me to bed."

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I pull the tape gun across a box lid and check the labels on the box before I look around the living room again. The boxes were piling up, on the couch I saw my daughter hugging her friends tightly as she says to them, "If you ever get to Toulon, please drop by! I'll write when I can…"

I felt a hand run across my shoulders and I look up to see my wife of nearly a year now standing there, her strawberry blond hair framing her features as she whispers to me, "Are you sure, she will be okay with this move?"

I nod as I say, "I'm sure she will and I'm lucky that the brass were okay with letting me be the Eagle Union liaison officer to the Orthodoxy."

Richelieu smiles at me more broadly as she tells me, "You will love it there, good food, good wine, sunny beaches…"

I laugh and reach up to squeeze her hand as I add, "And lots of rebuilding now that it's been freed."

She giggles, "Oui, that too."

When Bouge and Maury left, I watch as Cassidy picks up her backpack and I get a full view reminder that she's growing up and I sigh as I grab my own kit and head down to the docks. Cassidy wraps her arms around mine and looks up at me with a smile as she asks, "When we get to Toulon, do you think Mom can take me shopping? I want to get some clothes that I'd feel better getting with her."

That sent a shiver down my spine; I didn't need a reminder that puberty was just around the corner for her… if it wasn't already taking hold. I smile at Cassidy as we climb up the ramp to Richelieu's hull and I say to her, "You'll need to ask her."

"Ask me what?" came the voice of my love from up ahead of us as she looked at a check-list in her hands.

I watch as Cassidy hurries over to Richelieu and whispers in her ear before I see Richelieu nod and tell her, "Oui, a girl should always have something pretty."

Yeah… I'm not ready for this. So glad I have Richelieu to tackle these issues now.

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La fin.

A/N: Thanks to everyone that read this, thank you for taking time out of your day to read my works. This marks the end of this story and I'll likely be getting started on the next story either next week or the week after. I've got a bit of a rough outline in my head for Intrepid, it'll likely be back to my normal 4-5 chapter format and I hope you come along for the ride.