DISCLAIMER: The characters contained herein are not my intellectual property. They belong to Nancylee Myatt and other people that I don't associate with. If they were mine, Nikki & Nora would still be in production and we would all be very very happy. This is for fun
read - me mucking about for some entertainment in another person's sandbox, not for money. While this has been beta'd, we're not perfect and I accept full responsibility for all mistakes.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This picks up about 8 months after Reasons. With only the first chapter of this being completed, updates are going to be coming a little less frequently than a schedule I would like to maintain. My hope is that posting this will spur the muse and I will be able to hammer out the other 8 chapters. This chapter is split into two parts and you will be reading that next week as hopefully it will buy me a little time to at least complete chapter 2. Thank you to my long suffering beta, the poor bastard has to put up with my awful spelling, bless you Dirk! Lastly, read and enjoy.
FEEDBACK: To whedonistic.tendencies[at]gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Here's to the Night
Chapter 1 - Impermanence
The soft lights reflect off the crystal dinner wear as I glance around the reception hall. The place is littered with tables covered in thick cotton while people in suits and gowns chat amiably with each other. It isn't so much that I dislike the charity functions and the one or two foundation boards that I sit on
It's just a hand ghosts over mine and then rests firmly on top, linking our fingers together. I blink, stepping away from the petulant child in my head and look over at the smiling face of my partner for the evening.
Jill's head is cocked to the side and her eyebrow is raised in question. I waive her off and she leans into me, giggling, "Lemme guess, sitting around with a bunch of holier than thou white folks who wouldn't know the meaning of the word suffering if it came up and beat them with a rubber hose not really cutting it for you tonight gorgeous?"
"In so many words, that's about it," I admit.
"Nikki," she says, shaking her head, "I think you've been around Nora way too long."
I resist the urge to stick my tongue out at her and say instead, "Haven't been around her nearly long enough. And it's more than that I suppose. These things are a necessity for charities to get the funding they need; I just would not like to be a cog in the wheel of the hypocrisy that dominates the New Orleans Elite."
"Ah," the model says patting my arm, "But the thing of it is, is that you are. It was what you were born in to, no? And hon, it's not just the elite here in your city; it's pretty much every-fucking-where."
"Touché, on both accounts." I smile at her and make a note to thank Ann for insisting that the two of us attend the dinner of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation together. I can at least be thankful that it is an important dinner for the department as the proceeds tonight are going to be going towards a few building renovations and some new equipment for our men and women in uniform.
"Nicolette, be a dear and pass me the pepper and Tabasco sauce you seem to be keepin' all to yourself," my father says, smiling at me, his hand outstretched.
My lips purse and I contemplate handing him the requested items. The last check up with his doctor was less than promising.
"Ms. Flemming, if you would be so kind as to," he says pointing a finger at the requested items.
Jill doesn't think twice, picking up the Tabasco and pepper shaker to pass to my father as she says, "It's Missus actually. I'm married."
His face registers surprise as he turns a little pink and I smirk. "Oh, well," he stammers looking at her right hand that's passing him his heartburn in a bottle, "I see that. Tell me who is the lucky man?"
A grin spreads over my friend's lips in a way that I've come to adore on one hand, yet pity the person on the receiving end. "My Ann would be none too pleased by the intimation that she's endowed with certain external organs, Mr. Beaumont. She," Ann purrs emphasizing the she, "we've been married eight years this past May." The model beams and continues on while my father does his best not to swallow his tongue, "We were married in Denmark while I was on a shoot."
"Oh," my dad stammers again, "How wonderful." He dabs at his lips with his napkin and I grin around the sip of water from my glass. While he's been nothing but supportive of me and my choices, I do think that this is his first time coming face to face with another woman with the same proclivities.
I look him over and confirm what I thought all along. I really would like to tell him that my love of the female form isn't a phase that I haven't grown out of nor will I.
Ann looks to me and I nod answering the unasked question of my "out" status. She breathes a sigh of relief and my father asks, "How exactly does that work if you don't mind me asking?"
"Does what work?" she asks.
"Well, division of assets, it's not legal in the U.S. and are you going to have children?" he answers bluntly.
She smiles and says, "Well there's a lot that can be done about assets, we've got legal paperwork out the wazoo and enough backups to make the Vogons look like they don't know the meaning of the word 'paperwork'."
"Vogons?" I ask.
Rolling her eyes she looks between me and my father, "Do neither of you read?"
"Uh, depends, what's a Vogon?" 'Cause really, I have no idea and by a quick glance in my father's direction I can see he's just as confused.
"Aliens," Jill supplies. "Just think of them as paper-pushing, triplicate-loving aliens."
I nod and shrug. Okay.
"As for kids," Jill drawls, playing with her wedding ring as it spins around her finger, "Ann and I have crazy jobs and an even crazier schedule."
My head tilts to the side wondering why this is the first I'm hearing about. The near whistful look in her eye well, it almost looks like she does want them.
"Besides," she winks at me, "I'm not a kid person. Ann, maybe, I've never seen her interact with them, but I know I'm not."
Or maybe not. Making a note to bring this up later, I smile at her.
"Ah," my daddy nods. "That does put a damper in things. I personally would have had a dozen more, if Nikki's mother would have lived a bit longer."
"Please," I laugh and smack my daddy's arm, "you could barely handle me."
"My dear after you, a dozen children would have seemed like a holiday," he laughs and grins at me, leaning back in his chair and rubbing at his stomach.
"Was Nikki really that bad?" Jill leans forward resting her head on the laced fingers of her hands.
"She was," my daddy says, "a most troublesome child that demanded everything her heart desired."
"And I made damn sure I got it too." Smirking, I wink at my friend and we all laugh.
Tonight is a nice change of pace. Although for the past few weeks, things have been quiet. The fact that Nora and I have turned our usually oddball hour job into a regular nine to five at least for the last week or so hasn't escaped my attention. I will assume that won't last, but I do intend to enjoy every minute of it while I can.
Mulate's is bright and the crowd of diners thick as Ann and I look at the entree's that were just put on our table. She scowls towards my crawfish etouffee and unable to resist I grab my fork, make sure that I grab a chunky piece of mudbug and devour it, smacking my lips in earnest as I chew. Ann's face scrunches more and she looks down at her own plate, grilled catfish, veggies and a twice-baked potato.
Truthfully, she hates the things, but she'll also let me eat them unlike Nikki who refuses to even look at me until I've brushed my teeth after eating them. Smiling, I take a sip of my water and keep the grin. It's actually nice just the two of us hanging out. We get to catch up without Nikki or Jill to add their commentary.
"So tell me again, why you eat those things?" Ann asks, shaking me from my thoughts.
"Uh, they're good," I reply around a mouthful of the etouffee.
Her nose scrunches and she shakes her head. "To each their own, I guess, but those things are just gross."
"Why is that? Nikki can't stand to watch me eat them. They really are good." I pick up another forkful and eat.
"Uhm " her mouth screws to the side and she huffs, "I don't know, but they always just seemed icky."
"Yeah, icky as in gross, disgusting, vile or worthy of my ick reflex." Ann waggles her eyebrows then goes for a subject change, "Do you think it was a good idea sending Jill with Nikki?"
"Depends," I say setting my fork down, "on if they can go shopping during or after."
Ann snorts, merriment dancing in her eyes. "So you think we're crazy?"
"For?" I wonder.
"Well, Nor, look at us," she answers and idly I wonder if she's being vague on purpose or if I'm missing something. Before I can ask, she says, "I mean we got together when, ninety-two, and it's two-thousand-two, I'm with the F.B.I. and you're with S.C.U. I just think that it's weird."
My eyebrow arches of it's own accord as I feel the need to intake something a little stronger than the water I've been drinking, I reach for the Jack and Coke that's been sitting next to it. "You've been thinking about this?" I ask around an ice cube.
"No well, yeah, I guess. When we were together "
"For less than a year," I remind her.
"Yeah, but we were good together," she says thoughtfully.
"True, would have never lasted though." I smirk at her.
I look her over, the new hair cut that's shorter than I'm used to seeing on her, but the shoulder length cut and layers look good on her, her eyes are still kind and mischievous all at the same time and still beautiful after our time in our jobs. Staying with her, I can be honest and say I don't know how it would have happened. Ann's never been one to shy away from who she is and it's something that I've always respected and to an extent yearned for
Unthinking, I reach out for her hand and lace our fingers together. "No," I say definitively, "we're too much alike for one, but the spots where we're different, it would have driven us apart."
She squeezes my hand and nods. "I guess."
"Plus," I say, my tone light, "There's that whole cliché of falling for your high school best friend that you went and did."
Her face brightens and she looks down at the simple ring and band set on her left hand. "There was that." I watch as her thumb plays with the underside of the band and she says, "Did I ever apologize for that?"
"No need. I think it worked out for the best." I wink at her and she snorts.
"Yeah, who'd a thunk? You pretty much shacked up with a politician's daughter and really Nora, the look is good for you."
"What look?" I ask, tilting my head to the side.
"You happy wait you are happy, right?" Her face darkens at the thought.
"Really happy actually. Work's good and of course there are the bad days and the good days, but Nikki makes both better. I mean we have our problems, the obvious and the not, but we work through most of them," I answer.
"Yeah, that working through shit's a pain in the ass. Jill always wants to talk. The crazy thing is that I actually like it. Most anyone else and I'm telling them to stuff it." I watch my friend for a moment get lost in her own thoughts before she asks, "What about you and Nikki? At the very least you two could move in together. If I'm not mistaken, Jill said that Nikki told her she had broached the subject?"
"Why did we introduce them?" I groan.
"I think our logic went something like if we give Jill a playmate she would be less bothersome and allow the adults to talk," Ann deadpans.
Rubbing my forehead, I reach for my drink and silently curse the three most important women in my life. Figures that the one sore subject between Nikki and me, Ann had to pick it. "Yeah," I snip, "she did, but "
"But what? She loves you, you love her. What's to 'but' about Nor?" Ann cuts me off.
I purse my lips at her interruption then say, "BUT, moving in together takes our complicated situation and makes it more complicated. I don't think I can handle that," I try to explain.
"Hmm," my ex hums and turns her attention back to her food.
I can't help but think I've stepped in something here. I just wish I knew what it was. Shaking it off, I go back to my food as well, trying to salvage the evening.
The truth is, is that I would like to move in with Nikki. I think a year together day in and out is long enough to avoid the U-Haul cliché. Also, the nights she's by my side I'm better rested and apparently in a better mood.
Dan, in his ignorance, made a point of it during a case he helped with. We were sitting outside a bar waiting for our suspect to come out and he says, "You mind telling me why you've been in a foul mood all damn week?" I just stared out the car windshield and tried my best to ignore him, but he was persistent and said, "If I didn't know any better, and really I don't, I would say you aren't getting enough action."
It was then my eyes slid to him as he leered and his tongue snaked out, licking his lips. "My offer from before still stands Nora." He winked at me then and for him annoying me, I snorted and flipped him off.
His comments had hit a little too close. I hadn't seen Nikki all week, I hadn't slept and he was right, it had been nearly two weeks since Nikki and I shared a bed or intimate moment. To top it all off, I was doubly fed up with fielding phone calls from my mom and Dan's persistent advances.
I would like to say or at least think that he is someone I could fall into bed with, but despite the rumors, that I think he started, and good work chemistry, I'm gay. I came to that personal revelation sometime ago. Dan's also confused our platonic chemistry and his libido with a notion of "us" turning into something more.
Ann had once asked why my 'super gay ass' had never had a girlfriend before. My answer to that was Catholic guilt and the need to repress. I'm just buried so deep in the proverbial closet I can't see the light peeking from under the door.
I allow myself a brief moment of brutal honesty and recognize the fear and abject terror the idea of coming out brings. And right before the abyss swallows me up I shove the idea back inside and go back to my food.
It really isn't a reason to ruin a perfectly good supper.
Looking around the club tonight, I'm surprised that it's not more lively. For a Saturday night, Happy Phantoms is pretty subdued. The DJ they've hired for tonight is either the cause, playing slower, more intimate music, or their reacting to said vibe and just going with the flow. The patrons pock mark the space and a few couples, gay and straight, dance in front of the stage.
"Nik," Nora's soft voice causes me to turn my attention to her.
"Hmm?" I answer, sipping at the single malt Casey has taken to making sure I have unless requested otherwise. I will say one thing for Nora's ex's, she seems to know how to pick women.
The fact that I'm actually friends or at least friendly acquaintances with the two, surprises even me at times. But here I am so many months later and I can't help but love Ann and Jill to pieces. Casey, I'm slowly coming to see that she's a girl you would like in your corner. That and her friends that Nora and I have been out with once were enough to scare me, if I was easily scared.
Nora said that Casey had grown up with two of the guys, skinheads of the non-Nazi variety. One of them, Bill, seemed interested in taking the time to explain to me the difference between the Nazi kind and the non-Nazi kind. How did he say it?
"Dance?" Nora asks.
My lips press together as I answer her question with a question, "Baby, what did Bill say about skinheads?"
Her mouth turns up at the corner and her eyebrow rises to match as she probes, "That's what you're thinking about?"
"Well," I answer looking at Ann, Jill and Nora, "I was actually trying to tell Darius about it and it seems to have slipped my memory." Leaning into her, I press my hand to the inside of her thigh and give it a squeeze. "Since I know you pay attention to all the things that I seem to miss, I was hoping you could enlighten me once again."
"Uh-huh," she says, the muscles underneath my hand giving her away. "If you must know," she sighs, "the lecture we were given went something like this, apparently the whole skinhead thing came to be because Jamaicans were immigrating to England."
"Eh?" Ann grunts in the most unintelligent fashion.
Nora smirks and clarifies, "As it was relayed to me, it was the combination of the Jamaican culture merging with the British working class youth that spawned the whole skinhead movement." My lover shrugs and continues, "It wasn't until the early eighties that the white supremacist movement infiltrated the subculture and used the look as a shock troop uniform."
The look of disbelief on the face of Jill and Ann I know mirror my own, but Nora presses on, "Casey's friends from Chicago have moved down here. A few of them are skinheads. Nikki and I went out with Casey a bit ago and got an interesting history lesson on punk subculture."
"Who knew," Jill shrugs. "Although, that explains something I saw a while back."
"And what, Mrs. Flemming did you see?" I ask.
She sips her water and says, "A black skinhead walking with a small group of punk rock type kids in Richmond. I was a little shocked, but just shrugged it off."
"So," Ann asks, "how does the non-Nazi group feel about the Nazi faction?"
"Bill, one of Casey's friends, said that there are certain factions of the skinhead movement. Interesting stuff actually, there's the traditional skinheads, who don't care one way or the other, the non-Nazi one's who are, and I quote, 'almost militant in their non-racist beliefs' and then the Nazi skinheads are usually referred to as boneheads."
"Hmmm," I and the two other women at the table say at the same time.
"Sugga, you have an endless storage space for trivial bits of information," I purr in her ear. Taking my actions one-step further, I nip her earlobe and then down to her neck, sucking on her pulse point for a moment before laving the area with my tongue.
I hear the groan, just low enough not to be heard by anyone else, but definitely loud enough for me to discern amongst the din of the bar.
"Nikki, if you don't stop that, I will call the local authorities," Ann teases from across the table.
I turn my attention to my friend just in time to see Nora's middle finger retract back into her fist as she lays it on the table.
"Ann," I say, grinning, "We are the local authorities."
"We aren't going to start a small pissing contest ladies," Jill warns. "That's it! All of you up," she commands motioning us out of the booth. "I avoid the party scene on shoots. I will not avoid it with my beautiful wife and our friends on vacation. Time to boogey."
"Baby," Ann says, "no one says 'boogey' anymore."
Jill waves her hand dismissively as we pair off and says, "I'm bringing it back."
I take Nora's hand and we move to the middle of the dance floor as a folksy acoustic number kicks off. Jill offers me a small wave before hands lose themselves in the back pockets of her wife's jeans. I nod at her and lace my fingers behind Nora's neck, drawing her closer.
The song, while not sensual in nature is soft and romantic. Her arms lock around my waist as we swing our hips in time with the melody, Nora rests her head on my shoulder and breathes gently into my neck. The warmth causes me to flush and I slip my leg between hers, starting a slow grind.
She moans into my shoulder, nipping my exposed skin. My hands draw random patterns over her thin blouse and we dance letting one song blur to another.
The world falls away around us as it has the tendency to do when I have her in my arms. I hold her close and breathe her in. In our time together, she has been my pillar.
And my pillar, much to my annoyance, has been avoiding the subject that I broached a few weeks ago. I want us to live together. I can't stand sleeping without her next to me and the idea that I'm well rested after a night alone is laughable at best. The most aggravating thing of this all is that I know she feels the same.
She doesn't need to say anything, she says it all when she comes to pick me up in the morning and she's grumpier than a bear with a thorn in its paw. Entirely too cute for words, but snappy and more than irritable.
The DJ queues up the next song that has a heavier dance beat and Nora is the first to respond. Her arms slips free of my waist and she spins me around. I catch her eyes and they are lit up with amusement and mischief. Unable to prevent my smile, I stop her next move with a hand on her shoulder and spin her around, pressing my front to her back.
I feel the shiver course through her as my hands lay flat against her stomach. I sway us to the beat and take possession of my lover in ways that I know she's never allowed anyone to.
Thoughts of our living arrangements go to the back of my mind as I feel her hand reach around, pull my head down and her lips attach themselves to mine.
I wake up before my cell phone starts vibrating across the end table. Looking at the display, I groan and realize that the stupid thing won't go off for another thirty minutes. I debate the pros and cons of getting up a half hour early and decide that the warm naked body flush against my backside is reason enough to stay in bed for at least the additional time. I keep the cell phone in my hand, just in case I fall back asleep and as gently as possible, turn myself around so that Nikki and I are front to front.
Unconsciously my girlfriend makes the adjustment and seeks out the arm I was slithering under her neck. Her right arm pulls me to her and she snuggles in. I kiss the top of her head and hold her.
We're coming up on our year anniversary and I wonder if she'll remember. I'm not sure what to expect. Ann and I didn't make it a year, almost, but not quite. If I count from the first day we met, then we did, but we both know that's not fair to Tommy.
And wow I hadn't thought of him in forever. Asshole. I know I broke it off quickly, never giving him any warning, but the reaction to the news was inexcusable.
But are there any amicable break ups?
Ann, well, let's be honest, the first few months after were stilted conversations and awkward silences. It took Jill butting her nose in where it didn't belong to get us to start talking again. I also know Jill regretted it once she did until the three of us found some common ground
Relationships are truly a pain in the ass.
To emphasize my point, the woman in my arms palms my left breast and I bite my lip to keep the groan from waking her up. It's not that I don't want to move in with her, I just don't know how we're going to be able to. If Dan found out that we were together, I could say goodbye to working with her, if my family found
Thankfully, the phone in my hand buzzes and I'm excused from early morning ruminations about the state of my amazingly complicated love life. Gently, I slip from the bed and use my pillow to replace my body that Nikki gladly cuddles up with. I watch her a moment more admiring her sleeping form and wonder why in the hell I had to fall for my partner!
That thought persists as I shower, make some coffee and put together a small tray of breakfast type items for my girl. Fully dressed, gun holstered and badge on display I slip inside the bedroom and set the tray down on the end table on Nikki's side of the bed. She stirs as I sit down and gather her hand in mind, kissing the knuckles.
"Hmm, whatimeizit?" she asks muzziley.
"Early," I say gathering her in my arms to kiss the corner of her mouth. "Since you have the day off, I figured breakfast in bed would be nice. I do need to go though."
"M'kay," she says burrowing into my lap.
Sighing, I slip from under her and she grunts in annoyance.
As I make my way to the door, I hear, "Be safe Nora. Call me later and I love you."
"Love you to," I shoot over my shoulder, closing the door to the front of the apartment and outside to June Lee. The drive is shorter than usual and I spend the entire ten minutes dreading the paperwork I have waiting for me at my desk. Because not only do I have my reports to do, I lost a bet to my lover and have agreed to do hers as well. I roll my eyes and step out of my car cursing my love and the insanely muggy August weather.
Half way to the doors of the station, I hear my name being called. I look over my shoulder and see my brother, Bobby, jog up to greet me. Smiling, I wrap him in a brief hug and give him a once over. It's been a few weeks since I saw him last and the suckiness of that isn't lost on me. He's the only one I'm remotely close to in our family.
"Nora," he says, grinning at me.
The tone and the look cause my eyes to narrow and my hands go to my hips. "What's up, Bobby?"
"Hey you remember Neil Diabisi?" he asks as he shifts his weight from foot to foot. Whatever this is, it can't be good.
"Yeah, that goof you graduated the academy with a few years back. He's working out of the Third Ward if I'm not mistaken, foot patrol," I rattle off the facts that I remember.
"That would be him. Well, see," my brother says, rubbing the back of his neck, "We were supposed to go on this double date, but his date can't go and my date doesn't want to go alone. So I was wondering if you would like to go with us tonight?"
My mouth drops open and then my face sours, I feel my brow crinkling and the thin line my lips become show my displeasure. "One," I spit, "No, 'cause goin' on a date with my brother eww to the weird; two, no, 'cause I've got friends in town; three, no, 'cause did it ever occur to you that I might be seeing someone?"
"I no, not really " he trails off and I wonder what the 'no, not really' was to.
"Doesn't she have another friend that she can torture?" I ask.
"Uh, I " he trails off.
"Lemme guess, you didn't even ask?" I mop my face with my hands and wonder how he could be so smart and so dumb all at the same time. It's fucking infuriating.
"I can call and ask." He goes to leave and turns back looking me over. "Nora, I know well, if you are seeing someone you should tell mama, it'd do her a world of good."
I shoot him my best annoyed look and he turns to skitter off around the corner. Like I need the headache and heartache that would cause.
I stomp towards the building and head in the entrance for officers, signing in along the way and up the three flights of stairs to my desk. As I hit the third floor landing, my phone rings and I answer, "Delaney."
"Nor," Bobby's voice boarders on whiny with an edge of pissed off. "Look, I just about earlier, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed you would be available."
"Bobby, really it's not necessary," I try to let him off the hook.
"No, it is, but the thing of it is, sis, is that mama said she hasn't heard hide nor hair from you going on three weeks. She worries. And I'm just a tad irked with the self righteous B.S. you've been pulling." He pauses for a breath and steamrolls over my pleasant morning, well it was pleasant until I left home, "And ya know, it'd be one thing if it was only now and again, but Nor you just about cut all of us out of your life over the past few years, more so in the past year. We're family Nora not the damn burden that you seem to want to treat us as."
Before I have a chance to respond, he disconnects and leaves me no room to justify myself. Not like I can, but a lie to cover it up couldn't hurt. I sit down at my desk, slumping in the chair. Reaching for the monitor screen, I see Dan's door open and four people pile out. Two I don't know, but the other two are my ex partner-turned-boss and the other is my ex-lover-turned-federal agent. All four smile at me and surround my desk.
Ann shoots me what could only be construed as an apologetic glance while Dan beams at me and says, "Nora, I'd like you to meet John Mallone, director of Special Investigations of the F.B.I., Ann you know and this is Megan Diea of the A.T.F., they're in town working on an investigation and I was tasked with finding their liaison. You've been asked for personally to be the representative of the N.O.P.D."
I plaster on a fake smile and send glares over at Ann who shrinks under my stare as I shake hands with the two new people.
It was supposed to be a quiet day around here.
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