DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NTOE: I'm sorry, I'm a middle-class British kinda-white woman. I apologise profusely for my attempts at New Orleans black street talk. I hope it's not too awful.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE RESPONSE: To SFC#3.
Mardi Gras Sting
By Lesley Mitchell
The night would have been warm and humid, anyway. In a city which rarely saw the thermometer drop into the 40s or less than four inches of rain in a month, hot and humid was pretty much a given. However, when you threw several hundred thousand partying souls into the mix, packed into the narrow spaces of a city still drying out... well, then you had something that bordered on a definition of hell, thought Nora, as she felt another trickle of sweat slide down her back, to pool between the butt of her pistol and the delicate tattoo which adorned the small of her back.
It never seemed this bad, thought Nikki, when you were part of the crowd. She trailed her partner through the foul smelling alleyway that provided a less crowded shortcut, glad at least that she'd worn her least favourite pair of sneakers. This pair, she swore, stepping in yet another unidentifiable squishy mass, were going in the trash when she got home, tomorrow. They weren't even going to cross the threshold, and Nora would just have to put up with a trip to replace them. Payback, she felt, for volunteering them to Dan as backup on Mardi Gras night.
The noise crescendoed as they reached the far end of the alley, and both women blinked as they burst back into the sounds and light of the real world. The smell of huddled, heated, living humanity washed over them, blasting away the lingering cling of death and decay from their transit.
Nikki moved up behind her lover, to where she stood scanning the crowd from the relative anonymity of the alley mouth. She found Nora deeply engrossed in an apparent conversation with herself, and took the opportunity to risk a little display of affection given the semi-private nature of the spot. Stepping close up behind the distracted woman, she moulded herself to the blonde's back, slipping one hand casually in the back pocket of her jeans and allowing the other to play lightly across the firmly muscled stomach beneath the loose t-shirt. She dropped her head lightly onto the shorter woman's shoulder, and listened in to the last of the instructions being provided by dispatch over the radio earpiece.
"Hey," said Nora, looking round at the brunette.
"... to look a little less obvious for a bit," interjected Nikki, capturing Nora's lips.
They were both more than a little breathless when they parted.
"Uniform have been tracking the subject to his current location, and are watching to make sure he stays there while they wait for us to arrive and go in."
Nikki nodded, not once ceasing the movement of her fingers.
"Oh," grunted Nora, as the tip of a short, well manicured nail grazed along the flesh just above the low slung waistband of her jeans.
"So, Dan wants us to go get the guy and take him back to the precinct?"
"Yeah... er, yeah. Once he's booked, we're done for the night."
The women fell silent, each enjoying the other's closeness. A few moment's respite in a hectic day.
The vibrations, through butt and groin, made them both jump. Sandwiched together as closely as they were, they were much stronger than usual and it took a moment for Nikki to identify the source. Pausing only to feather a brief kiss on her partner's neck, she stepped back and pulled the offending cell phone from the front pocket of her jeans.
"Hey, Darius. What've you got for me?"
"Hey, baby! Git your arses down here! Your guys were damn obvious. Nearly spooked him more'n once."
"You got a good view?"
"Sho thing, Nikki. Guy can't take a piss without passin' me."
"And if he does use the bathroom?"
"Ain't no windows a fella his size is leavin' by. You got my word on that, sweetness."
"Thanks, Darius. Keep us posted if anything changes."
"You got it!"
Nikki flipped the phone shut, and stuffed it back in its pocket.
"Come on. No rest for the wicked," she said moving towards the thinning crowd of revellers heading for Bourbon Street. "And we need to have a little chat with your brother about not crowding a suspect."
The French quarter was even more packed than the rest of the city, but the three uniforms who'd been drafted to help this operation were just as obvious as Darius had claimed. They drifted with the crowd along the street, until they pitched up behind Bobby.
The young man took several seconds to realise that the people in his personal space weren't more of the Mardi Gras tourists.
"Hey, sis. Hey, Nikki."
"Your guy's still in there, and, man, do I envy him. That place has the best damn tequila, ever."
"Stick around, bro, and try not to spend all your time imagining how you're gonna spend the overtime."
"Aw, come on," he replied, but the detectives had already pushed off into the human current, making their way, unobtrusively towards the bar's open doorway.
The music was loud and the heat even more oppressive than outside. They passed their suspect as they meandered towards the bar, both automatically noting the best places to approach him from and the three-quarters empty bottle of gold tequila on the table where he sat alone, and slightly apart from the other patrons.
"Dos tequilas, por favor," yelled Nora to the pretty latina behind the high bar, struggling to make herself heard over the pounding beat.
A small plate containing a salt cellar and two lime wedges appeared, swiftly followed by two shot glasses, which were quickly and efficiently filled to the brim with the pale amber liqour without a drop going to waste. Nikki smiled and casually tossed a bill at the girl. Turning back to her partner, she availed herself of the salt, then taking a lime wedge in one hand and her glass in the other, they performed the ritual simultaneously, the kick and burn of the alcohol hitting their bloodstreams mingling with the joy of the slightly illicit activity. Dan, they knew, understood all too well the necessity of fitting in when on a case like this, but he'd still give them hell when they tried submitting an expenses claim for the most expensive tequila in town.
"Ladies! Wanna make a po' boy happy and share his table?"
Darius barrelled up behind them, dreadlocks swinging freely with his unsteady gait and an open bottle clutched tighter than a lover. A fleeting, silent conversation passed between the women, and with a shrug, Nora plucked the bottle from Darius's grasp, and the two women linked arms with him to make their way back to the small table at the back of the bar. After sitting down, Darius poured three shots from the bottle he'd deftly reclaimed, slopping liquid onto the table with each one, and keeping up a running drunken patter, whose content gave the lie to his apparently inebriated state.
"Your guy bin sat with that bottle for 'bout 30 minutes, tops. He's gotta be pretty tight and ready for a little action."
They knocked back the drinks. The flavour caught Nora by surprise and she came up coughing.
"Take it easy there, pretty girl."
Darius smiled. "What? You want me drinking on de job? And at these prices? No, man. I got me a agreement with that sweet little girl tendin' bar. She make like I was buying the good stuff, but give me this instead. I reckon she want to see a little magic from me, later, too."
"You couldn't have warned me?"
"Sho I could. But where's the fun, girl?"
Nora glared at Darius, but at a warning kick from Nikki she schooled her features into something closer to drunken amusement, and watched intently as Darius fixed up another round. She felt, rather than saw, their target move past, and the gust of cooler, but urine and detergent scented air that followed, suggested that he had indeed headed into the bathroom.
She looked over to Nikki who nodded, and together, they rose and casually followed the large man.
The light reflected clinically off the white tiles that lined the bathroom, but the place was anything but sterile. It was, however, empty, except for the large man drunkenly fumbling with himself, and adding to the general lack of hygiene in the room.
"Hey, big boy!" called Nikki, in as seductive a tone as she could manage.
The suspect turned, surprise and pleasure flashing across his face, right before he slipped in the puddle he'd just expanded and went down harder than a washed up prize fighter throwing a fight. His head slapped damply against the tiled floor, and he said no more, his hand slipping away from his groin slightly as the muscles relaxed with his unconsciousness.
"Ah, hell!" cursed Nora, surveying the gross body, as Nikki stepped forward gingerly to check for a pulse. "Dispatch, we need an ambulance..."
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