DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHORS NOTE: It's been two years since Katrina hit our state, and thousands of people from Louisiana (as well as Mississippi and Alabama) are still struggling to put their lives back together. Many in New Orleans and scattered across the country face mental as well as physical health crises as a result of the storm, without the support and resources they need. If you are dealing with the aftereffects of Katrina, you can find help online at http://www.coping.org/katrina/links.htm or at the APA website, http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=107.
DEDICATION: To all those whose lives were affected by Katrina and Rita, especially those who lost loved ones.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Comfort and Crawfish
By Lafitte


"Nora! Nora, wake up!" Nikki called. It was almost 2 am, and her partner was having a nightmare again.

Nora didn't respond, too caught up in her terror. Tossing restlessly, she whimpered as if in pain. Carefully, Nikki reached out to touch the blonde's shoulder. At the contact she bolted awake and nearly toppled off the bed.

"Whoa, there!" Nikki tugged her back from the edge.

"Nikki?" the other woman mumbled, disoriented and breathless.

"It's me, baby. You're safe." She held Nora close, running soothing hands over her arms.

Confused, the blonde pulled back to examine Nikki's face in the faint moonlight from the window. "But you're dead. I saw you, you were—"

"Shhh, don't say that. I'm not dead," Nikki replied. To prove it, she took her partner's hand and laid it on her chest, where her heart beat steadily. "It was just a dream, Nora."

Nora drew in a deep, shuddering breath. "God, it seemed so real. I was scared, I thought I'd never see you again." At the last words, her voice shook. The usually tough policewoman broke down, silent sobs wracking her body.

Her own throat tightening, Nikki moved even closer to her on the bed and wrapped protective arms around Nora's shoulders. "Tell me about it."

Nora shook her head. "I can't. I don't want to even think about it."

"You know the fear won't go away if you just try to repress it, baby." They'd had this conversation before, after the first nightmares began. That was months ago. They were less frequent now, but Nora still kept a lot of her emotions bottled inside. "It's like the smell of crawfish cooking, it'll just hang around until you clean it up and deal with it."

That actually earned her a brief chuckle. "You're the one who doesn't like the smell of crawdads," retorted Nora. But after a few moments she sighed in defeat. They lay entwined as the blonde haltingly described her nightmare.

"I was in a boat, a metal pirogue, like after the hurricane. It looked like Lakeview, but different. I was going from house to house trying to get people out, but I didn't know where you were. We'd gotten separated. I kept calling your name but you never…"

Her voice broke again.

Nikki murmured, "It's okay. I'm right here." She trailed her fingers through the blonde's hair and down her neck, to soothe herself as much as Nora.

Soon the woman calmed enough to speak, her words now tumbling out in a rush. "And then I saw a—a body floating, caught on the fence. I looked at the face, and it was you." She pulled back to look at Nikki again, stroking her cheek with tentative fingers. "I thought I'd lost you, Nik. I don't know what I'd do—"

The brunette understood what she was saying, but she had grown up with a Catholic grandmother in a city full of superstition; she didn't want to hear such words spoken aloud. Instead she leaned forward and kissed Nora. Her lips tasted of salt.

"I'm right here," Nikki repeated. "You won't lose me anytime soon. I'll make sure of that," she added in a teasing voice.

"Really?" Nora sounded uncharacteristically vulnerable.

The dark-haired woman pulled her close, kissing the top of her head. "Really."

"Even if I stink up the kitchen with my crawfish?"

Nikki could feel her girlfriend's smile against her shoulder. "Don't push it, Nora."

The End

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