Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Cuddling in public".

Chapter 14 :: Fourth of July
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter

++ Dana ++


Now that Ziva and Natalia have determined their Sentinel-Guide bond is in fact valid, they don't need me and Monica dogging their every single step nearly as much as just a few short days ago. And since Tony woke up earlier today, they've been spending the bulk of the day at the hospital with him, as well as the rest of the NCIS contingent. The last I'd heard from Calleigh was that it looked like Tony would have some permanent damage, but should be pretty good. I know that Sam's already offered the Healing Device to Monica, but I don't know that these poor people are quite ready for alien technology on top of everything else right now.

"Mama! Ice cream?"

William's eager little voice brings me out of the heavy contemplation I've been caught up in. Today is a day off for all of us, and I really shouldn't be dwelling on such serious and potentially morbid things.

"Ice cream?" I ask incredulously as he comes running toward me, swimmers pulled onto his chest and arms. "How can you ask your mama for ice cream when you're going to go swimming with Kat and your Mami? You can't eat and swim at the same time, silly little man."

He pouts for a moment at that realization. Monica sneaking up behind him to scoop him up into her arms easily distracts him from going into any sort of temper tantrum for ice cream. He giggles and clings to her neck easily as she leans over to offer me a quick kiss.

"Wanna join us?"

"Give me a few to finish this thought first, okay?"

Monica quirks a curious brow as she stares at the journal I've got open, but doesn't question me further. "We'll be having all sorts of fun without you. Don't make us use it all up waiting for you."

Chuckling, I shake my head and shoo them off toward the pool. This UV shade that we had built over the entire pool area was quite probably the best thing ever. While we still use sunscreen, there is practically no chance of serious sunburn while in the water. I don't know where Monica and Dace came up with the idea, but for pale skin like William and I have, it's truly a godsend.

Monica pauses by the water's edge. Setting William down, she grips his hand tightly until Kat swims over to where they're at. William claps his hands and squeals as she dives under the water and surfaces right next to the wall.

"Kat! Again!"

Kat laughs and shakes her head, saying something that doesn't quite make it over to me in intelligible words. She and Monica share some conversation before William is handed down into the water to latch onto his favorite babysitter. Kat drags him out a little further in the water, slowly letting him get used to the temperature. Once he's out of range, Monica takes a deep breath and dives into the water smoothly. I lose track of her body for a few seconds as she arches down beneath the surface, holding my own breath until she surfaces again in the middle of the pool. William's happy reaction melts my heart.

Glancing down at the journal in my hands, I find that I am unable to complete the thought I'd been jotting down just a few moments ago. I have all the time in the world to contemplate the complexities of the Sentinel-Guide bond and how to better determine matching up the pairs before they meet. Right now, I would much rather spend the afternoon with my family and friends. Getting to my feet, I cross to the edge of the pool and wait for Monica to notice me. When she swims over to me, I crouch down and smile at her.

"Change your mind?"

"I can't seem to concentrate on this dry, academic speculation right now," I reply with a wry grin. "I'm gonna run this back to the apartment so it doesn't get wet or anything, then I'll be back to join you, okay?"

"Don't forget the sunscreen this time, baby," she teases and laughs when I stick my tongue out at her.


I haven't had to be this stealthy in quite some time, but it's worth it. Easing into the water, I duck my head to get the shock of the water over with. Thankfully, it's not nearly as cold as I'd have expected for midday on the Fourth of July. I slowly make my way over to where everyone seems to have converged in the water. William is completely distracted by showing off how well he can kick, which makes it easier for me to sneak up on him. Emily suddenly glances up to meet my gaze, but the movement escapes his notice, and she smiles before helping to distract him further. Finally reaching that end of the pool, I stand quietly behind William as he explains some story to Kat and Emily in the stuttering speech he affects when thoroughly excited.

"Boo!" I whisper, fingers reaching out to tickle his sides under the swimmers.

William squeals in surprise, splashing water everywhere in his attempt to turn around and see who scared him. "Mama!" he finally cries out when he spots me, arms stretching toward me.

With practiced ease, I take my son from Kat to hold him close, and smile my thanks to the young woman. She grins, waves at William, and dives under the water to swim away with a few powerful kicks. "Did Mama scare you, handsome?"

"Yes! Again!"

"Again? You're being silly!" Chuckling, I lean in to rub noses with him. "But I like it when you're silly." Glancing around the pool, I see Monica on the far end, talking with Tessa and Dace. Startled to see Tessa in the water, I smile at William. "Look at that, William. Auntie Tessa and Uncle Dace are over with Mami. Should we show them how good a swimmer you are?"

At his expected nod, I grip his sides, holding him next to me, and wait for him to start kicking before I slowly make my way over to the other adults. The water barely reaches my chest, and William's frantic kicking is keeping me wet. I'm not sure how he manages to keep kicking and not get my face wet, but I'm not complaining.

"Careful, Mon," Dace says with a smirk. "I think there's a shark coming after you."

"Is that mi hijo I hear splashing toward me?" Monica asks, turning to face us.

"Mami! Catch!"

Monica holds out her hands, letting him grab on tightly as she pulls him closer. "Look at you, Billy Bear! You are such a good swimmer!"

"Mama help."

She glances up to smile at me. "So I see. It's fun when Mama comes swimming with us, isn't it?"



The sun is finally starting to set as Dace announces that the fireworks will be starting soon. It's been a long day, and I want nothing more than to pass out and sleep for at least a week. I don't think I've spent so much time in the pool since I was a child, playing with my brothers and sister. William is nearly asleep, but I know he'll wake up once the overhead show begins. Shifting to sit forward, I glance over to the blanket just a few yards away where Justin and Emily have corralled the younger kids together to watch the fireworks. They have an entire pile of blankets and pillows for all of the kids to get comfortable. Bless Karen, Art, and Dace for coming up with the idea of a semi-slumber party. There are more of the same back in the Great Room, where the actual slumber party will take place for everyone but Wynnie. She's still too little and needs her mom just a little too much yet.

I'm actually looking forward to the slumber party. It will be William's first, and we will actually be leaving the door between the Great Room and our apartment open. Then again, we may change our minds and join the kids. I know they'll have enough chaperones, what with Kat and her moms, Dace, Alex and Olivia, and Karen and Art keeping an eye on all fourteen of them. But it is William's first slumber party. And I really hate missing any of his firsts.

The gentle touch of fingers stroking across my forehead startles me for only the barest of seconds before I recognize Monica's touch. "You're doing it again, Dana. He's just fine."

Taking a deep breath, I force it out slowly and lean back into her arms. "I know he is."

"We're camping out in the Great Room tonight, aren't we?" There's a definite thread of teasing in her voice, and part of me wants to smack her for it. Except she's right, and I know it. "Good," she whispers in my ear, her breath against my skin sending a shiver down my spine. "I kind of didn't want to miss it myself."

Grinning, I shift to capture her lips in a teasing kiss. She moans softly as my tongue darts out to trace her lower lip. When she eases back onto our blanket, I let her pull me down, unwilling to end the kiss just yet. Shifting onto my side, I mold my body along hers, straddling her left leg. When her hand slides up to cup my breast, I pull back from the kiss.

"Not now, amante," I murmur, breathing heavily. "Not in public."

Monica's groan of frustration turns into a wry laugh. "You are going to kill me, Dana Katherine Scully."

"I'll die with you," I offer, only half-joking.

"You realize that if we join the slumber party, we can't continue this tonight."

Leaning up on my elbow to stare down into her dark, mesmerizing eyes, I smile. "I know, but think of the fun we'll have tomorrow when William's down for a nap."

As Monica's delighted laughter bubbles up, causing more than one head to turn our way, I simply smile and cuddle down into her body for warmth. My head rests on her shoulder, and I can hear her heart beating beneath my ear.

And all is right once again in my world.