You have a freak flag. You just don't fly it.

-Ben Stone

Nico laughs at the quote from the "Princess Bride." It had always been a private joke. Maggie has left

them Miss Dora Belle's shrimp gumbo. Nico is trying to figure out how Maggie got this from Boston…

because Maggie certainly didn't make it… She can't cook to save her own life.

He takes a peek out the side door of the kitchen. He notices that Maggie has the dining room set with

Christmas dishes and candelabras. There is a bottle of red wine on the table too. Nico shakes his head.

He grabs the serving dishes, lights the candles and opens the wine to let it breathe.

Once the mood is set along with the food; Nico pops into the living room to escort Dani to the dining

room. Dani is touched by how warm and gentle Nico is being this evening. He pulls out her chair and

fills her wine glass. Dani is not used to being waited on and is quite enjoying the experience.

Nico serves the gumbo. "This is Miss Dora Belle's Shrimp Gumbo. One of the closest things to heaven

on earth." Dani smiles. "So who is this Miss Dora Belle?" A warm smile crosses Nico's face. "Miss Dora

Belle is the O'Brien's housekeeper and the best damn cook in the world." Nico serves himself and sits

down across from Dani. He raises his glass in toast while Dani matches. "This does smell heavenly."

"It will taste even better." Dani takes a bite and agrees. "So how did you come to know Maggie's family

so well?" Nico laughs as he takes a bite. "Didn't Maggie already tell you?" Dani eyes him closely. "Did

you plant some kind of listening device on me when we kissed?" Nico laughs. "Ah no, I was busy at that

particular moment." He gives her a wicked little wink. "Maggie told me about your conversation with

her at the café."

"So you were married to her sister?" Dani figures that Nico wants her to know him. What better time

than now to get to know him, the Nico without the mystery and bravado. Nico looks up at her with a smile.

He knows it is time to open up a bit and allow his guard down. "I served with Maggie's older brother in

the SEALs. That was my introduction to the O'Brien clan." Dani is thrilled that Nico is letting is guard

down. "After being around Connie for a while, I started to date the second oldest sister, Amy." They

continue to chat and eat. "They are a hell of a group when they are together. Amy… well Amy was

quite intriguing, at least, to the younger version of me. Looking back, I'm not sure if I actually fell in love

with Amy or fell in love with her family." Nico pauses to have a sip of wine. "How did you end up so

close to Maggie? You two are thick as thieves." Dani continues to sip her wine. "You know, I kind of

watched Maggie grow up and then I got to know her as an adult; as an equal. It changed the

relationship. When we served together, I saw another side of her and we just got closer. She

understands me and she's family."

These words intrigue Dani. Nico has a softer side. Dani realizes that she knows how to breach Nico's

defenses. The way around his walls is as simple as Maggie said it was. You just ask. The old adage is

true; there is no need to break down an open door.

They finish their dinner. Dani helps Nico clear the table. They head back into the living room to

continue the wine and conversation. Once they are settled back on the couch, Dani picks up the

conversation again. "So, I couldn't help but notice the sentimental smile that crossed your face when

we opened the presents…." Nico leans back on the couch putting his arm around Dani's shoulders.

"When I was a kid, my mother would always buy us new pajamas every Christmas. It was the one gift

that we were allowed to open on Christmas Eve." Dani smiles at the thought of Nico as a kid in

Pittsburgh. "And the movies?"

"Holiday Inn was my mom's favorite movie." Nico gets a far-away but peaceful look on his face. "The

other is an inside joke. Maggie swears that they were wire-tapping her house for the script and I totally

agree with her." Dani gets a wicked look in her eye which Nico picks up on. He turns with a curious grin.

Dani kisses him on the cheek as she gets up for a moment. Nico is unsure what Dani is up too but the

look on her face was irresistible. Dani walks into the other room and grabs the gifts. She slips into the

powder room and changes into the PJs. She returns to Nico. She tosses the other box at Nico as she

holds up the movies. Dani realized that she has seen the movie. "So shall we let our freak flag fly my dear Nico?"