DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Based on the best TV pilot that never was, "Nikki & Nora", which you can find on YouTube. Part of the "Trouble" universe but is more of a stand alone fic.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Trouble in the Dark
Supposedly our nightmares are a way for our subconscious mind to help make sense of the things our conscious mind sees but cannot understand or refuses to work through.
Too bad my conscious mind fully understands the depravity that I see day in and day out.
Murderers. Thieves. Junkies. Hookers. They're all coping with their own nightmares, but in ways that cause pain, either to themselves or to others.
I think it's how we deal with the things that cause our nightmares that either points us down the road to harm, or other, less harmful paths.
I remember having my first real nightmare when I was six. Not the nightmares that children often have, of the fear of sharks in the shadowed part of the pool, or the fear of furry monsters waiting to grab your ankles if you get up in the middle of the night.
No, my first real nightmare was after the first real traumatic incident in my life.
I have four brothers and one sister. There's me, who is a little over a year older than Bobby, the youngest. Then there's Clarence, the third oldest and Daryl and Harold, the identical twins being born first.
And my sister? The one born after the twins? The one our family never talks about? Whose pictures are locked away somewhere in the attic? Whose presence in the house was swept away just as cleanly as her possessions were given away to Goodwill?
I barely remember her before that one particular day. She was just another warm, safe presence in my young life. I remember a crooked smile as she played with me. I remember very curly bright golden hair that was always in a ponytail. I remember her looking a lot like our mother.
Then I remember that day. I remember the smile she gave me as she picked me up from school. I remember us walking hand in hand home, like we usually did. I remember playing in the front lawn as we waited for Mama and Daddy to come home. I remember my red rubber ball bouncing and bouncing and bouncing...
into the street...
the car horn blaring...
I'm always screaming...
That is the day and that is the nightmare. Flashes of memory, flashes of that damn ball. Flashes of her crooked smile and her laugh as she chased after it into the street. Flashes of the car. Flashes of the lights of the ambulance and the policeman coming to take me to my Daddy. Flashes... flashes...
Did that scar me? Of course it did, I was six. But it would have scarred me no matter what age I was. But unlike some of these people that I have to deal with on a daily basis, I had family and doctors to help me through what happened. I had people who loved me simply and completely. I grew up scarred, like all people do, but it healed and the scar is rarely seen.
It's the scars we get as we grow older that take longer to heal, but scar more deeply and are easier to break back open. At six, we never really understand the concept of guilt. That's something we learn from church or our parents. We know when we've done wrong, but do we truly understand it at that age? We're resilient. We heal from our wounds. We're changed forever, but we heal. Until something traumatic reopens that wound.
As I grew older, my nightmares changed. Lesser ones, the kind we all get. We dream of spiders and of our heads brushing through spiderwebs and we jerk awake. We dream of things in the dark, things in the light, things we don't understand or want to understand. We have nightmares of school, of tests, fears from our daily lives. We have fears that we'll laugh at later in life, because they're the nightmares of a more innocent time.
When I became a cop, my nightmares changed again. Worsened. I ran in darkness, down the alleyways of New Orleans. I faced shadows pointing guns at me. I would wake screaming to flashes of light, of guns going off in my face.
When I became a detective in Homicide, my nightmares changed again. Worsened. At night, I would see the faces of men and women in all manner of despair and trouble. I saw them beaten, bloodied, and in states that no human should be. It took me a long time to learn how to not let the nightmares keep me from getting sleep. I had to learn not to take the work home with me, to compartmentalize. Some cops do it by drinking the pain away. I did it by exercising. Boxing. Kick boxing. Running. Running was a good one.
When I met Nikki Beaumont and fell in love with her, my nightmares changed again. They became more personal. Gone were the white chalk outlines of faceless hookers laying broken in alleyways. Gone were the faces of gunshot victims and bloated bodies that rose up out of the Mississippi's depths.
She had more power than my subconscious. Power to drive away the fears and evils of men. She had the ability to take care of herself. She was a cop. She carried a gun. But sometimes... sometimes, after the darkest of days, when the sun's rays were eclipsed by the most terrible of deeds, I'd dream of her in those alleyways. I'd run down shadowy hallways that never ended, chasing the cries of my lover.
And every time I'd scream myself awake and she'd be there. There to hold me. Comfort me. To let me know that she was alive and well and loving me. And so I don't fear too often for Nikki. Only sometimes, when some drug dealer slammed her against a brick wall and drove his fist into her stomach. When the bullets fly, I worry but at the end of the day, before I fall asleep I know she's alive and well and loving me.
But today was a new day... a day that brought up all fears and all nightmares from an entire lifetime. Dragged them up past the gates and portcullis that I erected for protection and for healing. Dragged up all the fears into the harsh light of day. A day that never seemed to end as I was dragged down into nightmares when I finally fell asleep. Dragged down, so that when I rose up again, remembering, I am screaming.
The darkness surrounds me, holds me down, pinning me to black sheets and smothering me in covers.
The nightmare holds me down in the dark, away from the soft light arms of reality.
I see her, the child. Bright curly hair. Bright eyes. Bright smile. She holds a big, red ball in her hands. One moment she is my sister. The next she is the child of today, this week, the one we have been chasing to find... to save. The one we failed to save from the darkness.
Too late to save the children.
I shot the man who killed her. Shot him when he went for his gun. Shot him after our unit tracked him to an address on a pretty street full of blooming magnolias and old stately homes. Shot him after we finally got a lead, a print... a blood print found just under the bed frame of his last victim. A print that had been missed. We tracked him and I shot him, having been the first through the door. Having seen him kneeling over his victim, her blood still on his hands. I shot him and I'll always shoot him, again and again, in my nightmares, for I'll never dream about him. I'll never dream about her. I'll only have nightmares.
We were too late. So the dream died and the nightmare lives.
I see her. In my mind. Two children separated by a lifetime of memories. I see two curly blonde-haired girls with big red bouncing balls. I see the blood. I hear the sirens. I see the flashing lights.
I scream and scream...
and start to rise up out of the black pool of my nightmares.
My lover's arms surround me, holding me to her, pinning me to her breast and smothering me in soft kisses.
She brings me to the light, up from the mass of the black suffocating tendrils.
"Nora? Honey? Wake up," she whispers in my ear as I kick against the sheets that are trapping my legs. I push away from her, to distance myself, the night's terrors still walking around the edges of my half-asleep mind.
Taking in deep gulps of air, I stumble out of bed, tripping over the sheets that I hadn't managed to escape completely from.
"Let me help..." she says, getting on her hands and knees, helping to disentangle me from the sweaty cotton sheets.
I frantically kick away and keep going backwards away from the bed, like a crab trying to escape. My back finally hits the French doors that lead out onto the balcony, the cool glass panes a sharp contrast to what feels like waves of heat coming from my body.
"Nora?" she whispers, coming forward slowly, carefully, as if afraid to startle me.
I see all this, my brain takes it in, but my mind is still foggy with the remnants of my nightmare. It's like being handcuffed to a suspect and you don't have the keys.
"Nora?" her face enters the light shining through the glass, pale and almost ethereal.
Her eyes are dark, so dark... wide and black. My heart is racing... racing...
"Nikki?" I finally manage to say something, albeit the sound of it sounds foreign to me, more of a croak, than an actual word.
"Shhh... Sugah, it's OK," Nikki crawls forward and trys to wrap me in her arms again. This time I don't feel the need to escape. This time I feel the need to hold on to her as much as she's holding on to me.
"Help me," I beg her, my words barely a whisper.
Nikki's dark eyes glisten with unshed tears for me, but I don't want her pity. Right now I need... Nikki. I push her back, enough so that I can tear at her pajama top, ripping open a button or two until it's off. Flinging her shirt aside, I push her back, sliding my hands to her waist, to the underwear she's wearing.
"Nora..." Nikki whispers yet again. Not in a protesting voice, but more of an uncertain one.
I stand up and rip off my own tee-shirt in one fluid moment and step out of my silky pajama bottoms, not usually wearing underwear. I hold out my hand to her, offering her help up and she takes it, looking up at me with those big soulful eyes of hers.
"I just need..." I try to express it but I can't. Instead, I pull her up into my arms when she accepts my grasp and move us back to the bed. I crawl back, still holding her hand, urging her to follow me.
Ignoring the still soaked sheets that lay in a heap on the floor, I pull up the light blanket that's folded by the foot of the bed and pull it over us.
"Just hold me. Please?" I whisper, feeling shy and needy. "I need to feel skin. I need to feel... I need to FEEL..."
I'm trying to verbalize something that I'm just not able to right now.
But Nikki seems to understand and leans back into the pillows, opening her arms for me, wrapping them securely around me as I cling to her. Laying my head just under her chin, I feel... secure. Loved. I can feel her warm, welcoming body along my own and feel at home. Safe.
She holds me in her arms, not speaking, just waiting for me to either tell her what's wrong or for me to fall asleep.
It takes minutes before I can think more clearly, before I can breathe and not see the shadows in our rooms as a threat. It takes minutes before I can talk... before I can begin to tell her what scars have been ripped open and about the newest scar to go with my collection.
"I had a sister named Fiona..."
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