DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta.
"This is unacceptable."
"No, Nikki, don't you 'Dan' me. Not only am I disappointed that the two of you didn't trust me enough to inform me about your relationship, you also violated department policy by getting involved with one another. You're partners, for heaven's sake!" The chief looked uncharacteristically serious and was clearly upset with his two detectives.
"It doesn't have anything to do with trust," Nikki insisted. "But, we knew you wouldn't approve of it, and we're also aware that it's against the rules, so we figured if we didn't call your attention to our relationship, you wouldn't be forced to deal with this dilemma."
Leaning forward in his chair, Dan placed his hands on the surface of his desk. He was uncomfortable, wishing he didn't have to utter his next words. "Now that I've found out about you, I'm gonna have to take action. I'm breaking the two of you up."
Silence descended upon the room for a moment as two women stared at him, dumbstruck. Then, Nikki exploded. "What! You can't do this; we're your best team! I thought we might be able to find a solution that's agreeable to all parties."
"I'm afraid I have no choice," Dan replied apologetically. "Rules are rules, and even you have to adhere to them."
"Let me summarise this you're disappointed that we didn't trust you with the matter and, now that you know, you're ending our partnership," Nora stated flatly. "Yeah, I really feel bad that we didn't tell you. No, wait, that's a lie. Great, this is just great."
Nikki glanced sideways at her partner, not really surprised by her bout of sarcasm. It was her typical reaction when she was upset about something; Nikki had been on the receiving end of it on more than one occasion. Folding her arms across her chest, the brunette looked back at Dan. "She's right, that's as hypocritical as it gets. Besides, you know how much more efficient we are as a team. Having each of us work on our own won't get you the best results." She still hoped to convince him.
"Oh, you won't be working on your own. As of tomorrow, each of you will be partnered with another detective from the force. You, Nikki, with Cohn, and you, Nora, with Henry Campbell."
"That dim-witted idiot!" Nora burst out. "You've gotta be kidding me. He can't even tell the difference between a stab wound and a blunt force trauma."
"He's still fairly new at the job, give him a chance. In a few years, he'll make a decent detective. You can teach him a lot; try looking at it that way." Dan was obviously trying to soothe Nora's temper.
"You mean I can play babysitter for him." The blonde glared at the man sitting across from her. "This is cruel and unusual punishment," she added gloomily.
"Nora, punishing you is the last thing"
"Who the hell is Cohn?" Nikki interrupted him, apparently deciding it was her time to complain about her prospective partner but unable to do so without knowing who it was. "Never heard of him. Or her?" At that, Nora shot her a look. "Him," the brunette quickly repeated and prayed that Cohn was indeed male or else Nora was prone to give her a hard time about it.
"He's one of our best men; you've probably seen him around in the precinct. Now, ladies, I expect both of you to be professional about this and cooperate with your new partners. Your good work is not to be influenced negatively by the fact that you're no longer partners. Is that clear?"
Both women mumbled something unintelligible in unison. When Dan raised an eyebrow, a blonde and a dark-haired head slowly nodded, accompanied by two pairs of shoulders being shrugged.
The confirmation was hardly convincing, and when he dismissed Nikki and Nora, Dan had a hunch that things wouldn't run as smoothly as he wished they would.
Nora crouched next to the dead body, surveying the length of it with a trained eye. In her mind, she went over the facts of the case and pondered what the best approach to solve it was. However, her train of thought was interrupted by a voice piping up behind her.
"He was shot, wasn't he?"
Rolling her eyes, Nora replied dryly, "Judging from the hole in his forehead and the gunshot residue on his face, yes, I'd say he was shot."
"But who would do something like that? He looks like such a nice old man."
With a sigh and an inner mantra to remain calm, Nora forced herself to turn around to face her new partner. Looking him up and down, she thought that with his neatly combed hair and checkered sweater, he looked more like a high school chess club captain than a homicide detective, only his intelligence didn't quite match that of a chess champion. "It's our job to find out. Why don't you go and knock on some doors, see if a neighbour heard or saw something?" That way he wouldn't get under her feet so much, she hoped. When the young man dashed off eagerly, Nora called after him, "But show them your badge and ID this time! You scared that old lady."
She shook her head and wondered how Henry had made it through the academy. All morning he'd been getting on her nerves with dumb questions and had displayed a blaring inability to interview potential witnesses, leaving Nora with a feeling that she'd have to do all the work herself if she wanted to get anywhere. How she wished Nikki was here. She never had to explain anything to her, and they simply complemented each other perfectly in their jobs.
Apart from that, Nora missed being able to look into that pair of sparkly brown eyes whenever she desired to do so, whenever she needed something to make her smile. Sometimes, she felt like duct-taping Nikki's mouth when she was being way too chirpy, but the truth was that she loved working with her girlfriend.
When Henry walked back into the crime scene swinging his arms energetically and looking like a boy skipping home from the playground, Nora took a deep breath and turned to face him. "Patience is a virtue," she quietly reminded herself.
In a different part of the city, Nikki felt like she was talking to herself. Ever since she'd arrived at the scene, Cohn hadn't spoken a single word. He'd acknowledged her with a quick nod when she had introduced herself, but that had been all.
"Well," the brunette now mused, "it appears she's the victim of a robbery, no purse or wallet on her. She must have put up a struggle, and the killer whacked her over the head. Have her prints been taken yet for identification? She might have scratched him, too; perhaps, the lab can get DNA from under her fingernails. Do you think this is related to the murders from last week?" Nikki paused briefly, waiting for a response, and when none came forth, she continued. "They'd already arrested a suspect, but the evidence wasn't tangible enough, they had to let him go. I suppose that'd be a good starting point, and you don't talk much, do you?"
She peered curiously at Cohn, who didn't even bother to raise his eyes. Standing over the corpse and staring down on it, he looked like the avenger of the dead in his black trench coat.
Nikki stepped closer to him. "Hey, can you even hear me? Somebody home?" She resisted the urge to knock on his head. When the other detective didn't react, she snapped her fingers in front of his face. Finally, he looked up and focused his gaze on her.
"Can. You. Understand. Me?" Her enunciation was slow and overly clear for which she undoubtedly would have earned a deprecating look from Nora had she been present.
In fact, the glare she received from Cohn came quite close to the way her girlfriend might have looked at her. "If you shut up for a minute, I'd be able to concentrate on the case at hand and think about it for a moment," he growled.
"Standing next to a dead person and mulling over her untimely demise helps you solve cases? Funny, I do it by questioning suspects and following the evidence," Nikki mocked.
"I'm doing this my way," Cohn snapped, "and if you have a problem with that, you're free to stop pestering me."
Nikki blinked. She knew the saying went that still waters ran deep, but she hadn't expected such hostility. How she wished Nora was here. With her, she could investigate cases her own way. Even better, it wasn't simply her way of working, it was theirs. Sometimes, Nora's biting sarcasm took Nikki down a peg or two, but the truth was that she loved working with her girlfriend.
"Okay, I get it, you're not on the partner train," she retorted. "I'll go and see if there are any security cameras around here. You stay here and think things through. Make sure you don't move, I'd hate to not be able to find you when I come back later," she added in a snide voice before taking off down the street.
"So, how was your first day with little Henry?" came Nikki's voice from the bathroom, her question followed by the sound of the scrubbing of a toothbrush over teeth and then by a gargling noise.
Nora, who was lying on the bed and rubbing her aching temples with her fingertips, groaned at the question. "Don't remind me. Like I told Dan, I had to babysit him. Kid knew nothing and asked the most irritating questions."
Nikki emerged from the bathroom and proceeded to crawl on the bed to settle down close to the blonde. "Well, at least he talked; can't say the same thing about Cohn."
Reaching over to brush a small remnant of toothpaste from the corner of Nikki's mouth, Nora replied, "He called me 'Miss.'" The look on her face was a mix of exasperation and horror.
"Okay, that's bad," the brunette admitted. Then she grinned. "But, it's kind of sexy, too." She dodged a pillow being flung her way.
"And Cohn's the silent type?" Nora quickly changed the subject before Nikki could delve into the fantasy that had obviously formed in her mind immediately.
"Yeah, he's like a Buddhist monk, only less Zen. Told me to shut up so he could think. I swear, men and multitasking."
"Well, I'm sure you talked enough for both of you," Nora smirked. Her pounding headache was subsiding and her sense of humour returning.
"Seriously, hon, we need to do something. Cohn can't be my partner. It'd be like working with a grumpy stone."
"Got any ideas?"
"Funny you should ask, as a matter of fact, I do. Henry seems to consider you his mentor. He's like a puppy looking for guidance. Be mean, be unfair, treat him badly, and he'll run."
"You want me to scare him off? I'm not certain that's gonna work." Doubt was evident in Nora's voice.
"You can be quite intimidating, 'Miss Delaney.' Use that to your advantage."
Nora seemed to ponder the suggestion for a moment before nodding. "I suppose it's worth a try. What will your strategy be?"
With a mischievous gleam in her eyes, Nikki explained, "Well, he doesn't seem to be too fond of the spoken word. From tomorrow on, I'll be talking his ear off. I won't shut up until he quits."
"Huh. Talking someone into doing something just got a whole new meaning." Nora looked pleased. "It's a deal then. You'll be annoying, and I'll be scary."
"In other words, we'll do what we do best."
"Care to seal that with a kiss?"
"Do you have to ask?" With that, the brunette rolled on top of her lover, capturing soft lips in a deep kiss and sliding a hand over the warm skin under Nora's shirt.
"Miss, the shoeprints"
"If you call me that one more time, I'll bite your head off. I'm not your fucking school teacher, got it?"
"I'm sorry, Mi"
"And stop apologising all the time. It'll get you nowhere. Keep your mouth shut and listen to me, you might learn something."
"Ooh, Cohn, look, the victim's wearing Prada shoes! I love Prada. Do you like Prada? Does your wife like Prada? Are you even married? I don't think you're married. You wanna know why? Because you would've had to say 'I do' at the ceremony and that would've involved talking. But, you could still like Prada shoes. You wouldn't wear them to work, though, would you? I wouldn't. You get blood on them, and they're ruined. You could wear them when you go out, though. Do you go out? You'd have to talk if you went out, so you probably don't."
Nikki paused for a moment to be sure Cohn didn't whip out his gun and shoot her. She almost got on her own nerves with her exaggerated giddiness but, if it helped her to get rid of this guy, she'd keep it up. Taking a deep breath, she followed up her first monologue with another one.
"Perhaps, you don't even like Prada. How stupid of me to go on and on about it, isn't it? You might prefer Gucci or D&G. Or maybe no Italians at all? Have you ever been to Italy? Do you like Italian food? I love pasta. I could eat it every day. What's your favourite cuisine? No, wait, don't tell me, let me guess. Greek? Or Moroccan? Samoan? Or "
"Oh, for fuck's sake, Henry, don't trample through the crime scene like evidence means nothing to you! What kind of cop are you?"
"Butbut I thought it'd been cleared already," the young man stuttered.
Nora put on her best grim face. "Don't think, know. You might have rendered the decisive traces useless with your carelessness." She felt somewhat bad for going off at the newbie detective because, of course, the scene had already been cleared, and, of course, he had destroyed no evidence. The poor boy looked so intimidated and unhappy. Even though she still doubted he'd ever become a proper cop, Henry really didn't deserve to be put down like that. Telling herself that he'd be better off with someone else as his mentor, Nora could justify her harshness towards him. She wanted Nikki back.
"Dammit, put on your gloves, will you!"
"Hey, hey, Cohn, where are you going? We're not done here yet. Are you going outside to think? Am I talking too much again? When Nora was still my partner, she said I talked too much. Asked me if I'd ever shut up. She suspected I didn't have friends when I was little and always had to entertain myself. Can you believe that? Like talking a lot is some sort of psychological problem. A batty detective, how wrong would that be? But maybe that's what the departmental shrink is for. Have you ever spoken to him? Okay, I know that look. You're suggesting I go speak to him, aren't you? No way, dude, no way."
Dan sighed and eyed the two women sitting on the opposite side of his desk only a week after their last conversation. "What am I gonna do with you?"
"What do you mean?" Nikki asked innocently while Nora chewed on her bottom lip to keep from grinning.
"Well, let's just say your respective partners aren't quite happy with you. Henry feels that you, Nora, are hampering his development as a detective, and Cohn insists that Nikki is giving him murderous thoughts."
"And is there anything we can do about that?" The fake concern plastered on Nora's face would have done any professional actor proud.
Her boss shuffled some papers lying on his desk before replying. "We need our teams to get along to be efficient, so I'm gonna have to end your current partnerships. And since there are no other detectives available who I could possibly assign you to, the two of you will be working together again. I know you displayed that behaviour on purpose, and I can't believe I'm letting you get away with it."
Both women grinned broadly, not hiding their contentment with Dan's decision. "What about department policy?" Nikki carefully dared to enquire.
"I'll just pretend I never saw anything. Don't ask Dan, he knows nothing. We can keep this between the three of us and go back to the status quo."
"Thanks, Dan," Nora smiled. This time, her sentiment was genuine. Nikki nodded in agreement.
After leaving the office, the two detectives shared a high-five.
"You know," Nikki mused, "we did a pretty good job there. Seems like we were pretty convincing. They should really give us more cases where we have to work undercover. Don't you agree? We'd be so good at that. Perps wouldn't stand a chance against our combined skills. We'll have to ask"
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