DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thanks to the wonderful atfm who betaed every single day of the 'song.'
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas
By Ann


The old style recorder clicked, signaling the replay of the message; Nora fell back on the bed and closed her eyes at the sound of her mother's voice.

"Nora, it's your momma. I just wanted to remind you that your aunts and I will be dining over at Robicheaux's tomorrow at noon. I expect you to be there, all your female cousins will be, so, no excuses. If you don't show, I'm calling Bobby to come drag you out from wherever you're hiding, you hear me." The older Delaney paused slightly for effect, finishing with the usual trip down guilt lane. "This is tradition, Nora; it's the only time the Boudreaux girls get together, just us girls. Now, don't disappoint your momma. I'll see you tomorrow."

The sound of a light chuckle from the doorway overshadowed the pitiful groan emitted from the bed. Nikki pushed off the door facing and moved towards her lover, stopping just short of Nora's legs which dangled over the side.

"Looks like you'll be attending the 'Boudreaux luncheon' after all." Nikki brushed against Nora's knees.

Nora slid her arm over her eyes. "It's going to be horrible, Nikki."

Nikki stared down at her lover and smiled. Nora really could be quite childish at times. Placing a knee gently on the bed, she crawled next to the pouting woman.

"It's Christmas, Nora, a time for family. You're expected to be miserable every now and then; it goes with the territory."

"Well, I don't like it," Nora mumbled, refusing to move her arm from her face.

Nikki gently slid her hand under her lover's shirt. "Nora, it's just a couple of hours out of the year. Think of it as your sacrifice to make your mother happy." The hand strayed to a silk-covered breast. Nora pushed into the touch.

"Who's going to make me happy?" Nora dropped her arm away from her eyes.

Nikki moved a stray hair from Nora's forehead. Smiling, she leaned down and took possession of her lover's lips. Nora's happiness was all that mattered.

The next morning, at precisely eleven thirty, Nikki strode through the restaurant doors, hoping to get a seat next to the Boudreauxs' table. She'd told Nora that she'd seen a pair of boots over at Saks that she just had to try on, and for the first time since she'd heard her momma's recording, Nora was happy that she had somewhere else she needed to be.

Nikki slipped the hostess a twenty and soon found herself being led towards the back of the restaurant. The hostess gestured towards a high-back booth, and Nikki nodded her thanks. Just as she slid into the seat, she heard a round of laughter.

Peering around the side of the booth, she spotted a group of women, five older and seven younger. At the head of the table, an empty chair stood, waiting for its occupant. Nikki grimaced. Nora hadn't been kidding when she'd joked about being put on the hot seat.

A motion caught her attention, and Nikki turned her eyes towards the chair adjacent to the empty one. She immediately recognized the woman from photos she'd seen. It was most definitely Nora's mother. The group had evidently arrived much earlier than the scheduled time, judging by the number of empty glasses on the table.

"Okay, now that we've got that settled," Nora's mother flipped through a set of index cards, "let's have another drink. Nora should be here soon."

The women all agreed and motioned their waiter over. Nikki turned and faced forward, immediately noticing a mirror on the far wall, its placement perfect for a bird's eye view of the table. She ordered a tea and waited for the action.

Nora blew out a nervous breath and stepped inside the restaurant. Giving her party's name, she was quickly ushered back to the far table. Nora's mother was the first to spot her daughter.

"Nora! Over here!" The older Delaney stood and gestured towards the empty chair. Nora pasted on a fake smile and trudged towards the table. Nikki recognized the gait for what it was; Nora truly didn't want to take another step forward.

"Here, sweetie, I left you the chair by me. Say hello to your aunts and cousins."

Nora went from chair to chair, greeting her relatives with yet another false smile. By the time she'd reached her seat, the server was waiting for her, ready to take her drink order. Nora plopped down and requested a beer. She'd just call in and take the rest of the day off, there was no way she'd be able to make it through a Boudreaux inquisition without the help of alcohol.

Nikki's eyebrow rose when she heard her lover ask for a beer, and motioning her own waiter over, she ordered the same. If Nora was drinking, then so was she.

"So, Nora, I asked your aunts and cousins to list two of the most eligible bachelors that they know. We've each placed the names on 3 x 5 index cards, complete with the gentleman's strengths and weaknesses. After much discussion, we've also taken the liberty of ordering the names from the best catch to the least attractive." Nancy Delaney placed the cards in front of her daughter. Nora just stared down at the stack in total disbelief.

Nikki watched her lover carefully. From her reflection, it appeared that Nora was close to hyperventilating. Nikki was surprised when she heard the familiar voice sound so calm and collected.

"I appreciate your efforts, but I'd like to find someone on my own." Nora slid the cards back towards her mother.

"Oh, but Nora Belle, we even color coded the cards. At least give them a look see." Nora's Aunt Josie reached across her niece and moved the cards back in front of Nora.

Nora remained in control, impressing the hell out of her lover. "I know you all mean well, truly I do, but I've not had luck with blind dates in the past, so I believe I'll pass on your offer. Thank you though."

"Nora, how many blind dates have you actually had?" Cousin Jessie smiled and sipped on her straw. The woman truly got on Nora's every last nerve.

"Numbers aren't important; it's the percentage of losers that I'm concerned with." Nora countered, grateful that the waiter had finally returned with her beer. She guzzled half the bottle in one swig.

Nancy patted her daughter on the shoulder. "Now, dear, you can't give up. Mr. Right could be just around the corner."

Nikki smiled; Nora's mother wasn't far from wrong.

Nora, who had no idea that Nikki was nearby, replied, "I can promise you, Mother, that Mr. Right is nowhere in the vicinity."

"If it hadn't been for Cousin Carol, I'd still be an old maid," Cousin Mary chimed in, receiving nods from all around the table.

"Mary's right, Carol found the perfect match for my Mary." Aunt Cecilia smiled across the table at Carol.

Nora tried hard not to grimace. Mary's husband, Gerald, was certainly nothing to write home about. She looked up to see the waiter heading their way.

"Can I get another beer over here, please?" Nora lifted her empty bottle; she didn't remember drinking the last half of it.

"We really should get something to eat. The girls and I started a little early." Nora's mother grabbed her menu. "Okay, no talk of setting up my baby with someone until we've all decided what we want to eat."

Nora stared down at the offerings, hoping that the process would take the rest of the afternoon. She briefly wondered what her relatives would think if she just drank her lunch.

Fifteen minutes later, the orders were taken and the menus passed down to the waiter. He took another round of drink orders and nodded as he left the table. All eyes fell on Nora, and the moment Nora had dreaded most of all happened. Cousin Amy spoke her mind.

"How long has it been since you've been laid?"

Nora waited for one of her aunts to scold her cousin for her question, but instead, the entire table continued to stare, waiting for her to respond. Nikki, on the other hand, checked her watch and smirked, knowing full well that it'd been less than six hours.

"I'm not answering that question." Nora crossed her arms over her chest and stared across at Cousin Amy. The war had begun.

"Why? Because it's been so long your hymen's grown back?" The cousins all laughed aloud at Amy's question, but the adults weren't quite as amused.

"Amy! We're in public, watch your mouth," Aunt Lucy corrected her daughter. Good thing, too, because Nikki was seriously considering slapping the grin off Nora's cousin.

Amy sat up straight; she wasn't backing down, not even for her mother. The three margaritas she'd had made her crasser than usual.

"Am I the only one who really knows why Nora hasn't been on a date since the junior prom?" Amy looked directly across the table at Nora while she spoke.

Nora had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, and when Amy smirked at her, she knew the question was rhetorical. Amy was going to have her say come hell or high water. Nora suddenly wished for a flood.

"I saw you making out with Jane Fontenot in the barn your junior year in college. You're gay, aren't you, Nora?"

The dropping of the proverbial pin could be heard across the table and filtered into Nikki's booth. The breath left Nikki's body at the sight of Nora's panicked expression. She truly wanted Nora to acknowledge their relationship, but not like this.

"Nora?" Nancy Delaney's voice was shaky as she stared at her daughter, slack-jawed.

Nikki watched her lover. Driving the back roads of Louisiana, she'd seen many a deer in her headlight, and right now, Nora was definitely the deer.

Nora eased to her feet and looked to her mother. With tear-filled eyes, she swallowed hard to hold in the sob that threatened to escape. "I'm sorry, Momma." Just as she turned to leave, Amy called out her parting shot.

"I bet you found yourself another butch."

"Shut up, Amy." Carol and Mary spoke in tandem as they glared at their cousin, their defense of Nora too little too late.

Nora just kept walking, increasing her stride as she headed towards the restrooms. Nikki pushed to her feet and walked directly to the table of the Boudreauxs. She stopped behind Nora's vacant chair.

"Good afternoon, ladies. My name is Nikki Beaumont." She looked directly at Amy. "Nora's butch."

Twelve sets of eyes stared at the beauty.

"Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what I think about this little party of yours. This is supposed to be a time of reunion, catching up on the good things and sharing your special moments, but instead, you chose to meddle with Nora's life, deciding what's best for her without asking her what she thinks is best for her. Did you ever stop to think that maybe she's happy?"

Nikki paused, giving the Boudreauxs time to re-examine their priorities. Their eyes stayed glued to Nora's lover. Not fazed by the stares, Nikki turned her focus to Nancy Delaney.

"Mrs. Delaney, I know that you're shocked, and perhaps, saddened by the turn of events, but Nora is still your daughter. She's still the girl who grew up in your household, still the daughter who loves you fiercely, and still the woman who's chosen to protect your feelings rather than live her life openly. I can promise you that she never intended for you to find out about her this way." Nikki briefly moved her gaze to Amy before regaining eye contact with Nora's mother.

"I can only hope that with time, you'll sit down with Nora and talk. Fear of your rejection was the one and only reason she's kept her love life from you. Please, I beg of you, please see it in your heart to try to accept who she really is."

Nikki held eye contact for a moment longer before turning towards the restrooms, leaving the twelve women in a state of shock. Carol was the first to find her voice.

"That woman is so not a butch."

Nikki slipped into the restroom and peered under the stalls; only one set of feet could be seen. She walked towards the door and knocked softly.

"Nora? It's me." Nikki held her breath, hoping that the horrible incident wasn't going to cause Nora to run away from their love.

The sound of the bolt being slid back was soon followed by the stall door being opened slowly. The two women just stood and stared at each other. Nikki never moved; she just waited to see what Nora would do. Seconds later, she found herself with an armful of Nora. She pulled her lover to her tightly and held on.

"I'm so sorry, Nora." Nikki never thought she'd be apologizing for the one thing she'd hoped for.

"My mother hates me." Nora sobbed, her breath hitching with her words.

"No, she doesn't, Nora, she just needs time to take everything in."

Nora's sadness turned to anger. "Damn Amy, I should've known she'd say something. I always suspected that she'd seen Jane and me."

Nikki pulled away and wiped the tears from Nora's face. "I don't understand why she didn't just take you aside and ask. Why'd she confront you in front of your mother and aunts?"

"Because she's always been that way ever since we were little. She'd sneak around, eavesdropping on conversations, and when the time was absolutely wrong, she'd drop the bomb on whoever she could. Aunt Lucy could control her a little better back then, but now she just says what she wants to say when she wants to say it."

"Well, she certainly said it today." Nikki sighed. "What do you say we sneak out the back? After a day or two, you can go see your mother."

"She's not going to want to see me ever again, Nikki."

A voice sounded from the doorway.

"You're wrong, Nora." Nancy Delaney stepped further into the room. She'd only hesitated a moment before she'd followed Nikki to the restrooms.

"Momma?" Nora leaned into Nikki for support.

Nora's mother moved closer, gentling her tone. "Why didn't you tell me, Nora? All those times I've tried to set you up with someone, and you already had someone."

"I didn't want to risk losing you." Nora took a tentative step away from Nikki and towards her mother.

"Oh, Nora, you're not going to lose me. You're my daughter, and I love you."

Nora closed the distance and fell into her mother's arms. Nikki stood back and watched her lover cling to her mother. A lone tear slid down her cheek.

Nancy Delaney held on tightly to her daughter. She didn't fully understand everything at the moment, but she was determined to try. She looked over Nora's shoulder at the beautiful dark-haired woman and smiled. At least Nora had good taste.

Nikki and Nora started up the driveway, but halfway to the house, Nora stopped and stared at her childhood home.

"I'm scared, Nikki."

Nikki slid her hand into her lover's. "Me, too, Nora, but we can do this," she turned to look Nora in the eye, "we have to do this."

Nora nodded and turned back towards the house. The two walked hand and hand up the steps and to the front door. Just as Nora reached for the doorknob, the door swung open, revealing Nora's daddy. Nora froze.

Jim Delaney looked from Nikki to his daughter and then back again. He smiled and extended his hand.

"Hello, Nikki, I'm Jim. We're so glad you could join us for Christmas."

Nikki gripped the offered hand tightly. "Thank you for inviting me."

He nodded and then turned to Nora. "Hey, sweetpea, your momma made your favorite, coconut cream pie."

Nora's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Her daddy laughed aloud and pulled her into the house with an arm around her shoulder. Nikki smiled and pulled the door to.

This Christmas, both their dreams had come true.

The End

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