DISCLAIMER: I don't own Nikki & Nora or the other characters associated with. Nancy Myatt and others do. I'm just playing with them for some recreational fun and entertainment. The original characters I do. The series title and story titles are as follows and belong to the entities as stated below (I thank each group for the entertainment and inspiration): Series Title - Why Don't You and I – Carlos Santana and his record company 1.1 - Despite All This – Cock Sparrer and their record company 1.2 - White Riot – The Clash and their record company 2.1 - Corozon de Oro – Rancid and their record company 2.2 - Leave the Pieces – The Wreckers and their record company 3.1 - Up to My Neck – ACDC and their record company 3.2 - Whiskey Sour – Sixer and their record company As a side note: If any of you are looking for the above music, you may find the better known bands, but you may have trouble with Sixer or Cock Sparrer…if you wanna give them a listen, contact me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had been off work sick. That translates into me being bored. That usually means badness. The good was that I started reading some fanfic about a show that never saw the light of day except for a pilot episode that's available on YouTube (thank you, Ralst). There's a few things you should know about me, I love detective stories, with the caveat that they are well told and the science isn't bunk *cough – CSI – cough*, I love femslash, there are a few fandoms that play to those things that I dig. Nikki and Nora did. So my mind took a little adventure as I was bummed that this show didn't make it. I think that it would have been great. It sort of reminded me of Firefly in so far as the way the cast gelled from the moment they appeared on screen. Firefly had that. Nikki & Nora did as well. What I've planned are three sets of two stories in each set. Here's the first of the lot.
THANK YOU'S: The creators of the show, the music that's listed above, Winddrinker for some beta work and to Abby who served as primary beta for this side project.
PLEASE NOTE: I really suck at spelling, it's a proven fact. While this has been through a round of beta work, I'm sure there are mistakes…Oops. Blame me 'cause it's usually all my fault anyhow.
FEEDBACK: Good, bad, I usually take it all…leave it here or drop me a line: whedonistic.tendencies@gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.


Up to My Neck
By Whedonist


My hand fumbles towards my bedside table as I groan. Who the hell is calling this early? A few seconds of groping and my hand finally manages to find the annoying, ringing, piece of crap that I should toss through the open window. I hit 'talk' instead and grunt, "Eh?"

A light, lilting laugh comes through on the other end and I rub my eyes. "Good morning, gorgeous," Jill purrs into her phone.

I groan and mumble, "What'd I do?"

She laughs again and says, "My dear, over-worked wife asked me to call and make sure that you were alive."

Realizing this is actually going to be a conversation, I sit up and rub my face, swiping some of the hair away from it. I squint over at the bedside clock and with a little mental math, figure that I've got enough time to talk and have breakfast before getting ready for the horrendous day ahead of me.

I yawn and stretch as my friend says, "I figured you'd be awake by now. Sorry, Nor."

"It's alright, I should get up anyhow." I stand and scratch my back, shuffling out towards the kitchen to start the coffee and pick my cereal for the morning.

"Ann got called to Wichita, Kansas like right as we were leaving the airport last night. So this morning when I talked to her, she asked me to call and make sure you got in okay."

I listen to her talk and shuffle into the kitchen, making a beeline for my coffee pot. There's a trick to my morning coffee. The coffee and filters are all located in the cabinet right above the coffee maker, I've gotten so good, I can make my coffee with my eyes closed. This morning I practically do.

Pulling out a chair, I plop myself down and continue to listen to Jill prattle on, "How was the flight? What time did you get in?"

"Flight was okay, remind me next time I come visit you two that you're springing for first class." I hear her in the kitchen and figure that she's going for her own breakfast. "Lemme guess, Life?"

She huffs, "Yes, and it's a good cereal."

"I still think Coco Puffs are better. I got in at like eleven last night," I finish answering her questions.

Not missing a beat, she says, "Chocolate isn't meant to be eaten for breakfast and are you ready for today?"

Internally I groan, as if I needed the reminder. After Tombridge, I lucked out and got partnered with Daniel Harney and moved to Special Crimes. Really, it was the best damn thing to happen. Dan and I have been together for the last two years. Except today he becomes my acting captain, while I get saddled with a new partner. Thinking out loud, I gripe, "I hate getting new partners."

"Ya know," Jill says around a mouthful of food, "Ann says the same thing." My coffee finishes and I go grab a cup. Sitting back down, I take a sip and sigh as she asks, "You know anything about the new partner?"

"Nope." I take another drink and my eyes crack open a little bit more. "The only thing I got before I left to come see you two was that it was some hotshot detective from the Narcotics/Vice division."

"And we all know that it's probably going to be some no-neck Neanderthal," she chuckles into the phone and I grunt in agreement.

Sighing, I say, "Well, I can hope not, but…anyway, Jill thanks for checking in, when you talk to Ann tell her I said hey."

"I will, sweetie. Go get ready for your day."

"Well some of us need to make an honest living," I rib her.

"I do make an honest living!" she protests. "I'll have you know that what I do is real work."

"Uh, huh. You stand in front of a camera and look pretty, Jill."

She laughs and says, "And I do a fan-fucking-tastic job of it."

"Yeah, yeah. Alright. I'm headed off. Talk to you later?" I ask.

"If Ann doesn't call you soon, I will. I wanna know all the juicy details from today."

We finish our goodbyes as I polish off my coffee. I make my way out of my kitchen and back to the bathroom to get ready for today.

I wonder if praying would help…?

I look out of the windshield again to the slate sky of the morning. It's cold, most likely going to rain and right now, a bit too foggy. I know the sun's up there somewhere, now if only it'd come out and play to burn this shit off.

Groaning, I reach for my jacket, open the door and step out of my car. I take a second and enjoy the feel of the lining of my coat encasing me in some type of warmth then make sure June Lee's all locked up. Satisfied, I spin on my heel and march towards the squad room to face my sentence.

Should have known taking that vacation before getting a new partner was a bad idea. If I had stayed on desk duty, I probably could have gotten more information.


No, to desk duty, I'd rather be…well, it's a tossup, hospital or desk jockey? I weigh the alternatives as I sign in and take the steps up the three flights to my squad room. By the time I reach the top of the steps, I still haven't come to a decision and drop it.

Both options suck ass.

The room's quiet this early which is again a tossup. Either the streets of my fair city are flooded with crime and everyone's out or it's been slow, which we can hope for, and no one's in yet.

I'll let my optimistic side come out to play and say that it's been slow.

My gaze travels from my desk to the one across from it. It sits empty except for the computer, keyboard, mouse and…I laugh…someone took the ink blotter, pencil holder and trays from the desk. I sit down at my desk and survey the mass hysteria that developed since my departure two weeks ago.

Reports are stacked in the inbox. They threaten to spill off to the side. Message slips are stacked and tucked under my keyboard. I slip out of my jacket and twist round to put it on the back of my chair. I power up my machine and start going through my messages.

Four from the D.A.'s office, one from Bobby, one from Patrick, one from Terry, two from my mother and the rest are follow-ups on what is more than likely, prank calls. Leaning down, I toss the unimportant ones in the garbage, pretty much everything that's not from the D.A.'s office and start to lean back up, but stop as I notice my bottom drawer is cracked open.

Curious, I pull the drawer open and a small pack of Pampers stares back up at me, a post-it note attached to the face of the baby on the packaging reads:


The squad pitched in and thought maybe you could use some help with the new partner.

Good Luck!

I huff…no one actually signed the note. I rumble and shut the drawer, deciding to leave those where they are. Then I laugh. That was actually pretty funny. My computer is finally to the point where I can log in. Typing in the required information, I let it process and pluck the first file from the stack on my inbox. I start to comb through the piles, dividing them up.

As I work through my pile, people begin to trickle in and offer hellos. Distractedly, I offer my own greetings. A shadow falls over my desk and I blink, looking up from the report. C.S.U's newest detective looks down at me and smiles. "Hey, Georgia," I greet the only other female detective in the squad.

"Welcome back." She smiles and hooks a thumb over in the direction of Dan's office. "Word on the bebe?" She winks at me and my eyes narrow. I should have known.

"Nope. Although, someone was kind enough to leave me a pack of diapers." I scowl at her and she starts to study the cracked linoleum.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

"So," she says, trying to change the topic, "How was vacation?"

I let it go, while I secretly plan my payback and shrug. "It was good."

"Where'd you go?" she asks taking a sip of her coffee.

"Visit an old Academy buddy turned Fed," I answer, not offering anymore.

Her eyebrow rises and she shakes her head smiling. "Alright. Well, I'll let you get back to sifting through those reports." Grinning, she turns away and heads back to her desk.

I laugh a little and go back to reading and signing off on paperwork. How come no one ever told me this would be part of my job?


My head snaps up and I see Dan leaning against the doorframe to his new office. His shirtsleeves are rolled up and his tie is crooked. How long has he been here?

"Yeah?" I holler back not moving from my desk.

He stands there expectantly. Good luck, pal. I don't jump when people bark. He knows this. It takes him a moment, but he relents and saunters over. "Usually Nora, when a superior yells your name, you're supposed to go see them," he teases. It's also his way of testing the waters given the new power dynamic.

I told him when he first put in for the job that it wouldn't bother me. I'll be honest and say that the man's earned the job. He wasn't a kiss ass, he kicked ass to get the new digs. I won't fault him for that, but if he thinks pulling the macho, 'I'm your captain now' bullshit is going to work, I may just have to hand him his ass.

I smirk back up at him as he leans against the side of my desk. Leaning back in my chair, I mirror his posture with my arms folded across my chest.

"Would you," he breaks first, "be so kind as to accompany me to my office? I've been speaking with your new partner and I'd like to introduce you."

He's been here the whole time? With my new partner?

Wow. I guess the bump in pay really did do a number on him. I grin and stand. "I don't see why not."

His face finally splits into a grin and we hug. He squeezes tight and whispers into my ear, "It's good to have you back, Nor. This place sucks without you."

"Good to be home, Dan." I let him go and our eyes skirt around the room hoping that the brief display of affection was unnoticed. Thankfully, the only one that seemed to notice was Chuck and he could give a rat's ass. "Come on," I say walking towards his office, "let's go."

He scurries behind me. I give him the courtesy of going in before me and truthfully, I'm a little anxious.

Bracing myself, I step into the room and watch the person rise from one of the two chairs in front of Dan's desk.

It's then that everything kinda slows down. I take in every detail, the half unpacked boxes around the small office, Dan grinning idiotically to my right, the small bit of moisture in my palms, the beat of my heart.

Then I look into my new partner's eyes and everything else just sort of fades away. I look into the most gorgeous set of brown eyes I've yet to lay eyes on and I swallow. Hard.

It's a she.

She's a she and she's stunning.

Oh, fuck.

Somehow, I manage to not drool all over myself and my new partner as Dan says, "Detective Nora Delaney, I'd like to introduce you to our newest member, Detective Nikki Beaumont formally of Narcotics."

I stick my hand out instinctively and she takes the offered greeting, lightly shaking my hand and giving me a thousand watt smile.

I know my brain's supposed work, I know there are things I need to say and do, but my body won't cooperate with my brain and I'm stuck.

Until Dan's loud, exaggerated cough snaps me from the stupor.

"Hi," I manage thickly. "Uh, Nora. Nice to meet you."

"Nikki, Nora," she says releasing my hand and I'm not sure if I imagined the lingering touch or not because the blood rushing through my ears muffles sound and makes everything feel a little distant.

"Alright ladies," Dan puts a light hand on our shoulders and begins steering us from his office, "I'll leave you two the day to get acquainted. Nora, show Nikki some of the ropes in this squad." He ushers us out on to the squad room floor and to our desks. "Nikki, you let me know if this one doesn't treat you right." He casually flirts with her and I can take a good guess that's what he's been doing in here most of the morning.

"I'm sure Detective Delaney will treat me just fine," she husks playfully.

With that, Dan winks and heads back to his office.

"So, Nora, that," she says pointing to my desk covered in manila file folders, "is your desk?"

"Yep," I manage, "and I'm your…uh, this is yours," I stumble a little managing to salvage my slip up a little.

I just need to reel it in. She's my partner. She's my new partner and we all know that this must be kept professional. Besides which I don't even know if she's gay, but that is so not the right thing to think. It's not even in the ball park of right.

"Uh-huh," she says letting it slip.

I can do this. I walk around to my desk and start organizing the folders. "Give me a minute and I'll show you around."

I don't look up as she answers, "Take your time darlin', we have all day." The tone of voice she uses sends shivers down my spine and I curse myself for the reaction.

And since when did they start making detectives that looked like that?

It's going to be a very, very, very long day.

My head's cradled in my hand as I prop my head against the car door and wait for my new partner to make her way down to me and June Lee. It's day four of 'Let's Torture Nora' and so far I feel like I'm holding up pretty good.

Our first day was a bust; I took her around and made the introductions. Then we both settled in getting our desks in order. Day two found us neck deep in river mud 'cause a body washed up on the river bank, day three was a bit more of the same, except this time it wasn't raining cats and dogs and I managed to look like a complete ass.

Falling off the dock is not a way to impress the new partner. Dan made sure that I was aware of that little fact by the time we cut out of the squad room last night.

I gotcha Dan, damn smartass.

So here we are on day four and I'm feeling pretty good about it. She's not bad to work with so far. She's smart and quick on her feet. She also uses her looks to her advantage.

I look back out the passenger side window and see her making her way down the apartment complex steps. I allow myself a few seconds of unabashed admiring. Long legs, long brown hair, big brown eyes all encased in black cotton pants, a maroon button down shirt and a thigh length leather jacket.

I'm still trying to figure out how she's walking in those boots; the heel must be four inches long. As she gets closer, I see the actual heel being no bigger around than my pinky.

I shake my head. Some girls can just wear that sort of thing and not trip, fall and break their neck.

Sadly enough, I'm not one of them.

She smiles as she sees me and I give a little wave. I really need the weekend to be here. I could use a day off to regroup.

Leaning over, I pop the lock on the passenger side door and partially open it for her as she approaches.

I watch her slip inside as she greets me, "Good morning."

"Mornin'," I parrot back. Looking around, I wonder where she actually parks her car. There's no garage to park in and the streets are bare right in front of her building. "Where's your car?"

She looks at me funny and I feel the need to explain, "I never see you with car keys and there are no cars parked in the area that I feel would belong to a woman like you."

A waxed eyebrow rises and her arms fold across her chest. "A woman like me?"

Oh shit.

I pull a mental Homer and try to clarify, "I mean that, they, the cars aren't…" I point to a few of the vehicles on the street and say, "Like the brown Ford Taurus or the hunter green Honda Accord are not yours. The parking's good here at least right now, I just…"

I finally manage to look at her and she's wearing the sexiest smirk this side of the Mason-Dixon.

"I get it, honey," she says, letting me off the hook. "My car got totaled a few weeks back. I'm waiting on my insurance company to cut me a check and go shopping."

I blanche a little. "You weren't hurt?"

"Naw, but my wheels looked like an accordion." She shrugs and motions for me to get a move on. "What time is our meeting with the A.D.A.?"

Glancing at my watch, I cuss, "Shit." If I bust a few speed limits, we may get there in time. "It's in fifteen minutes." I put the car in drive and head south. "What happened?"

She crosses her legs and answers, "I was squeezed into a spot in an alley trying to make a bust. The dealer got a little happy with the gas pedal on a garbage truck and…" she turns her hands up in a 'what are you gonna do' gesture.

"Where were you when all of this happened and how have you been getting to and from work?" I need to know and then I need to find the dealer and make sure he walks funny the rest of his life.

"I've been walking and taking a cab to answer the last question first and I was in the driver's seat." She smiles sweetly at me and I manage to focus my eyes back on the road and the yellow light I'm running. Waiting a beat, she finishes, "I jumped out of the car right before it got hit." Sighing wistfully, she laments, "I'm not too sure what to be more upset about, the car or the shoes?"

I look at her. She didn't just say shoes? Since when is a pair of shoes more important than a car? "Shoes?"

"Yeah, they were a special pair of heeled boots. Beautiful, soft Italian leather," she nearly purrs and I swallow. "They also happened to belong to…" As she falters, I glance in her direction and a flash of grief passes over her features. "They belonged to a friend. More sentimental than anything."

I think I can see that. Just not for shoes. Now, if it were my car, we'd have problems. I try to commiserate, "Well, if it were June Lee I'd understand."

"June Lee?" she asks.

I pat the dashboard lovingly and make the formal introductions, "Detective Nikki Beaumont, allow me to introduce you to my pride and joy, June Lee."

She gapes at me for a moment and then her face breaks into a slow grin. "I am then to presume you have a serious emotional attachment to this hunk of metal?"

My head snaps in her direction and I shush her, "Don't let her hear you call her that. She's much more than that."

"Uh-huh," my partner says unconvinced.

I sigh and explain further, "I was fifteen. Had worked like a dog all spring and summer. Saved every damn penny." I pull up in front of the courthouse and look down the street aways. Finding an open spot, I gun it and perform the world's quickest parallel parking job. "Anyway, I was saving up for a car. When my brothers, dad and me went looking, we found June Lee." I step out of the car and grab my jacket. By the time I have her all locked up, Nikki's ten feet ahead of me.

She turns around and walks backward as I scurry to catch up. "And that's the tale of the El Camino."

I smile and say, "Some of it. There's a harrowing tale of rescue, refurbishment, and resuscitation. You know all the good, juicy parts happen after I got her home."

She spins around gracefully, not missing a step as I fall in line with her. She glances my way and says, "At least now I know what type of gal you take home, detective."

I roll my eyes and hope I'm not as red as I feel.




She just had to go and twist that around.

I bump my refrigerator closed with my hip and carry the makings of my dinner to the kitchen counter, while cradling my phone between my shoulder and ear. "So Wichita was?"

"Boring, boring and more boring," Ann gripes. "I mean I'm sure that it has its happening spots, but they were nowhere near my hotel."

"Ah, question: Swiss cheese or provolone?" I ask as I spread a thin layer of mayo over the sliced open French roll.


"Roast Beef."

At the same time we say, "Swiss." I plop down two slices of cheese and stack the meet on top. Now if only I had some fresh tomatoes. I sigh.

Ann asks, "No tomatoes?"

I roll my eyes and get annoyed that she knows me that well. "Nope. I had some, but this is the first evening I've spent at home since I got back. Let's just say they were growing little tomatoes."

"You'll live. So, how's the new partner?"

"Uhm, they're alright," I answer vaguely. "I mean we've only caught the one case, but they pulled their weight." I top the sandwich off with a little pepper and smash the second piece of roll down, securing the contents of my meal.

"They, we…You do know that I know how to play the pronoun game. What gives?" That's my Ann, no bullshit, she never allows me any.

"It's a she," I answer.

"Really?" I hear it in her voice, intrigue and sarcasm all in one go. "What's she like?"

"Yeah a she, shocked the hell out of me too." I take a bite of sandwich then sit down on the couch. This feels sooooo much better. A cold beer, a good sandwich, a fresh change of clothes. Do I know how to live or what?


"Sorry," I squeak, "I was basking in the glow of a good sandwich and clean clothes."

She laughs. "Never underestimate the power of taking a shower in your own bathroom."

"Amen," I agree, wholeheartedly. "And she's alright like I said. We've only caught the one case, but she pulled her weight. The jury's still out as a whole, but she can be…frustrating." I swallow and hope Ann doesn't do what Ann does best.

She reads people like a psychic, but she's not. It's why the Bureau took her. She's an excellent profiler.

"Hmmm, is she hideous? Does she have a hump and look like Quasimodo? Buck teeth, uber-butch with a mullet and flannel? Come on Nora give up the goods."

I remain silent as I hear Jill in the background, "Ann, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Nora's new partner is a she and I'm trying to find out what kind of she, she is," Ann answers her lover.

Do I even need to be here for this conversation? I take another bite of my sandwich and listen to the banter in the back.

"Oh really," Jill says, "Nora! I need details!"

"Oh God," I groan. "See what you've started Ann."

Some rustling on the other end of the line and a click. Damnit, they have me on speaker.

"You do know putting me on speaker phone just annoys the hell out of me?" I say.

"And I want details. Ann never gives me the good stuff," Jill quasi-pouts on the other end of the line. "So baby, you were asking about buck teeth and bad hair. Nora, please tell me there's no buck teeth and bad hair?"

Ann laughs as I try and figure out how to describe Nikki without getting myself into a whole other type of mess than finding my new partner attractive. I'll go with vague, "She's a few inches taller than me. Brown hair, average weight, average build. No buck teeth, no mullet and I think she may melt if flannel anything ever touched her."

"Ohh, she likes clothes?" Jill asks.

"I think, but from everything I've heard, I think she likes shoes more." I smile at the thought of her in those heels she had on today. They weren't tall, actually they were just the right height, but I think they made her ass look better. "And I like clothes," I amend mildly miffed.

"Nora, you like t-shirts and jeans. That does not make you like clothes." I should have known not to open my mouth when talking to Jill about clothes. Why did I even go there? She sighs and ribs both me and her wife, "How you two dated for as long as you did is completely beyond me."

"What?" Ann and I both say together.

I can see Jill's eye roll. "You two, I mean really, are way too much alike. It's cute, but you would have never lasted."

"And just how," Ann says, offended enough for the both of us, "can you say that?"

"Well, when you two are together, it's like I've got two Ann's except one of them has blonde hair and gray eyes and I can't ravish her in the bedroom like I can the other. Even Lee says so."

I sigh, she's right. I hate it when she's right. "Ann, give up. She's right. We both are t-shirt and jeans girls."

She adds her own sigh and she says, "But we were good in the bedroom department, if I remember right, there was plenty of sizzle and spark and fireworks too."

Jill and I both laugh. "There was," I agree.

"Awe, sweetie, I wasn't talking about your skills as a lover," Jill coos over her wife.

I think I may be sick, they're so cute together.

"Can we can the bedroom talk?" I ask. We really need a different topic of conversation.

"How does she take her coffee?" Ann asks out of the blue.

"Two crèmes and a pack of sugar," I answer, wondering what the hell kinda question that was for her to ask.

"Long lashes and big, brown eyes, Nor?" Ann follows up.

Oh, Christ. Here we go. Maybe I should be careful what I ask for.

"She does have brown eyes," I keep it simple, but Jill squees, literally squees, on the other end of the phone.

Contemplatively, Ann says, "I'll require a bit more data, but Nor, you're up shit creek dear."

I take a drink of my beer before I protest, "What are you talking about?"

"Ann," Jill warns.

"Nothin' Nor. Look, you enjoy your sandwich and it's your turn to call us next weekend," Ann lets it go.

"Actually, it's your turn to call Ann. I'll be in Denmark," Jill follows up.

"Alright," I agree. "I'll call you next weekend."

We share our great heaping pile of love for each other and right before I hit 'end' Ann says, "The piper's callin' Nora."

I blink as the line goes dead. Eh?

I think being in Kansas did something to her.

It's cold, rainy and there's no moonlight which means that I can barely see twenty feet in front of us. The few street lamps that are lit provide only a small pool of light directly under the bulb. Pulling my jacket tighter around me, I slouch further in my seat and wait on our current piece of scum to come out of his apartment.

This is also the main constancy in my career, the one tried and true rule: stakeouts suck!

I sneak a peek at Nikki in the passenger's seat and see that she's having as much fun as I am. Well, I could try for conversation. At least we'd have more to do than stare at a door thirty feet away. "So," I start, knowing full well that I just suck at small talk. "How was your one day off?"

She looks over at me and shrugs. "I did some laundry, went to lunch with my C.I." She turns a bit on the bench seat and directs more of her attention to me.

"You have lunch with your C.I.'s?" It's not a common thing. The few criminal informants I've used, well, the only thing I'd do for them is buy them some hand sanitizer and deodorant.

She smiles and says, "He's a special guy. Maybe if you're good I'll introduce you." She props her head on her right hand and looks past me, not really at anything as her eyes become unfocused. "He's the one that gave me the tip about our latest suspect."

"Ah," I say, not sure what else to say. It's Sunday and I would be at home doing laundry myself, trying to avoid phone calls from my mother if I wasn't here.

"What about you, detective, how was your Saturday?" Her attention is once again focused on me and I wonder how long she's been looking at me.

"Cleaned up, spent a really long time in the shower."

She smirks and her eyes travel over me. In the dark of the car, it appears innocent. Almost.

"No boyfriend to make it up to?" she asks.

I shake my head. "Sorry to spoil, but I've not met a man yet that can keep up. You?"

"Not even close. There are two men in my life, one of them I share fifty percent of my D.N.A. with. The other's family. What about your family? I mean we're partners. We should at least get to know one another on a more personal level, don't you think Nora?"

I nod. "I don't think that could hurt, seeing as how we're gonna be sitting here for a while."

"Well." Her attention is fully on me now. Her left leg's bent at the knee resting on the seat between us with her back against the passenger door. "Let's see, you are obviously a native of our beautiful city. Family?"

I shrug. "We're pretty boring." I smile and offer more, "Irish, Catholic and all of us are in some type of civil service. We blame my grandfather the first Delany in a line of many, my dad was a cop, I'm a cop, my youngest brother, Bobby's a cop. Patrick, the eldest, is in the Marines and my other brother, Terry, is with the National Guard stationed in Baton Rouge."

She nods and asks, "Mom? Dad?"

I sigh. "Mom's a career house wife and the occasional pain in my ass, but I love her. My dad passed away awhile back, it's been nearly three years."

"Oh, sugga, I'm sorry." She reaches out and rests her hand on my knee, squeezing it in an attempt to comfort me.

"It's alright. It wasn't fun, but I'm just glad he's not suffering anymore."

She nods sympathetically and I notice that her hand hasn't moved from my knee. It rests there causally, heating up the skin underneath my blue jeans.

I won't complain.

"What about you, Nikki. Family?"

"Only my daddy and me left. My momma passed when I was six so I remember a little, but not a lot."

"Ah, so you're a daddy's girl?" I smile, teasing her.

Her eyebrow lifts as she proudly says, "Through and through. I bet that you are too."

"Yeah," I laugh and shake my head, "I was." Trying to be delicate, I ask, "How'd your mom die?"

"A heart defect. It was quick and no one really caught it in time. Daddy was devastated."

"And you?" I wonder aloud.

"I was too young. It's different when you're a kid. Kids are resilient, ya know?" I look her over and she seems okay with it.

She's also right, kids are way better at handling things like that.

"So," she says, "Boyfriends?" Her eyes sparkle in the glow from the ambient light as she asks.


"But you and Dan?" she probes.

"Were partners only." I emphasize partners and follow up, "He asked, I declined. He's not…don't get me wrong, he is nice to look at, there really isn't a flaw on him, but he's not my type."

Her eyebrows go up mildly surprised. "So what exactly is your type?"

"Not Daniel Harney."

She scooches over on the bench seat so that our shoulders are touching and purrs, "I will have to file that away for later."

What the…

Her breath warms my neck and I manage to control the shiver. Trying to turn the tables, I say, "What about you? Boyfriends?"

"I haven't had one of those in a very, very long time." She smiles at me.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone more beautiful when they smile.

And I need to stop.

I cough and say, "There's always Dan."

She smirks and says, "He's really not this southern belle's type." Her hand twitches on my knee and she squeezes it again, moving just a fraction of an inch higher than where it's sat for the past few minutes.

Oh, really. "And what would be your type, Ms. Beaumont?"

Her eyes look out of the windshield for a brief moment and she hisses, "Shit." Looking back over at me, she smiles apologetically. "We'll talk more later. Our suspect just came out."

Shit. I wasn't even paying attention.

I scramble for the door and she follows me out of the driver's side. The rain hits every free surface, pasting my hair to my head in an instant.

We run across the street and stop on the sidewalk about five feet in front of the kid, Jackson Aguire, that we think is responsible for dumping the body of our victim, Sean Von Temp, early this week. His eyes go wide as he sees us, they dart from my face to Nikki's and then to the badge that's displayed on my hip.

The fucker's gonna run.

And he does. It takes a second longer, but he turns heel and darts away in the pouring rain.

Unthinking, I take off after him. The cold and rain forgotten as it all becomes about me tracking down my prey.

This kid's not too bright.

He's quick. I'm quicker as I gain ground on him. I look past him and see the street is ending. He's got one of two choices, stop and fight or try to jump the eight-foot tall brick wall ahead of us.

I go back to focus on him and can almost reach out and touch him, I'm that close on his heels.

Fuck it.

I take one giant leap and tackle him from behind. My arms close around him and I drag him to the ground kicking. I hit the ground and the wind is briefly driven from my lungs. The water soaks through my jeans and even through the nylon of the supposedly waterproof jacket I'm wearing. Rolling, we slam against the brick wall and I manage to pull a hand back, driving a fist into a kidney.

He cries out, but stops moving.

My free hand tangles in his shirt collar and I position us so that he's face down in a soppy puddle of grass, while I straddle his back to start locking the cuffs around his wrists. Some of my ambient light gets lost and I blink up into the rain to see Nikki gun drawn with the muzzle pointing at Jackson.

She's almost as soaked as I am and she looks pissed.

"You have the right to remain silent," I begin to Mirandize our suspect, hauling myself up and bring him with me. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford one, one will be appointed to you by the state." I start to frog march him back to my car as Nikki holsters her gun and follows me. I hear her cursing under her breath. "Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you, you stupid piece of shit?" I cuff him in the back of his head and he stumbles against the car.

I look between him and June Lee and realize I have two options: Let him sit between Nikki and me on the way back to the station house or use Nikki's set of cuffs and make him ride in the bed of my car.

"Nikki, give me your cuffs," I demand.

I look over at her and she's trying to figure out why, but she doesn't ask as the pair she has materializes in front of me hanging from the tip of her right index finger.

"Thanks," I chirp, take the cuffs and begin to hoist our collar into the back of June.

"Hey," he starts to protest, "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Shut up and get in the back," I growl and let him clamber in the rest of the way. Once he's sitting down, I clap one cuff on his wrist and the other I snap around a utility bar that's hidden under the lip of the bed's side.

He looks between the both of us shocked at where he's going to be riding. "You can't do this!" he shouts.

I ignore him and get into the car. Nikki jogs around to the passenger side a small smirk playing at the corners of her mouth. As she closes the door, I start up and begin to pull away from the curb, but she stops me with a hand on the steering wheel.

Before I know it, she's next to me taking my chin in her hand. "You're bleeding," she says as she wipes away some of my hair. Her hand comes down in front of my eyes wet with blood.

I reach up and feel my forehead, wincing as I start to feel the gash in my forehead. Shit.

I shake her off. "Let's get him back to the station and worry about me later."

She nods, but stays next to me, using a couple of tissues she pulled from her purse to press against my forehead. I look at her like she's crazy and she says, "Just drive."

The look she shoots me tells me that I better not argue.

I reach over and crank the heat. We're both soaked. Her body presses against mine and I can't tell if I'm shivering 'cause of her closeness or the cold.

Maybe it's her that's shivering.

I relent and let her do what she wants as I press the gas pedal and head towards the station.

If this is how all our stakeouts are going to end, with her next to me, I might actually learn to like them.

"Nikki," I protest, "This isn't really necessary." She hasn't let go of my hand since we got out of the car. I get led up the steps to her apartment as she ignores my protests. I sigh and give up. After we processed Aguire, she demanded we go get my head checked out at the hospital.

Four stitches and explicit instructions from the doc and all of a sudden she's Florence Frickin' Nightingale. The doctor said concussion and I wasn't to be left alone. Nikki volunteers and not only do I agree for some insane reason that I've yet to figure out, but I also let her drive my car!

Bobby's driven it once. And that was because it was for Ann. That's it. He hasn't gotten to touch it since. And now, not only am I actually letting her take care of me, I let her drive my car, my baby, my June Lee.

After only knowing her six days!

That's it.

I know what my problem is. I just need to get out and get laid. It's been a while, between work and taking that vacation, I should call Casey, see what she's up to. I mean it's been years and we've kept it casual which in and of its self is nice and rare.

She's had relationships that she's floated in and out of and I've well, I've had work. She's always been there in a pinch though. And given this bout of insanity, I'm sure she'd be available.

And what does that say? A causal relationship that's lasted for, my mouth pinches as I think and I receive a funny look as Nikki looks back at me. She is pretty. Just look at that mouth. It's very…I draw in a breath and shake it off. What was I…oh that's right, Casey, it's been like four years or so and it's like perfect.

I get to have sex with the gender that I'm attracted to while not having to deal with the crap and hell a relationship would wreak on my personal and professional life.

As we reach the front door, I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm not just a bit stoned from the pain meds they gave me. Nothing strong, but I.V. Percocet for someone who only takes Motrin is a bit much.

Darting through the open doorway, we manage to get inside just as a bolt of lightning illuminates the sky and a crack of thunder echoes around the complex. I stand there while she bustles about. She strips me of my coat and hangs it up in a closet by the entryway. My medication bag and the bag that's holding my soaked clothes are set behind the couch.

I look around and take in the home of Nikki Beaumont. It's…simple. Not like Spartan simple or me simple, 'cause me simple's just well, I think my mother thinks that I could live in a hut. I mean my place isn't bare, it's just the basics. I'm not home much, why bother sprucing it up when I barely get there to sleep and shower.

But Nikki's place is, it's got that home like feeling. Everything's done in these rich, vibrant colors that draw you in. The tan leather sectional sofa takes up a lot of space in the living room. There's a fireplace off to the side with a door to a balcony on the left of it. The main wall is hidden by a large entertainment center with movies and books. And, hey look at that, she likes to read.

See, I knew she was smart.

The kitchen is open and off to my left and straight ahead is the hallway that Nikki disappeared down. I would muster up the feeling to be offended if watching her walk away wasn't such a treat.

I squint my eyes; even in the low lighting it's still bright. There are a few pictures on the wall, some of her and friends and/or family. I shuffle further into her apartment and move towards the entertainment center. I look at the framed photographs. There are only four stacked on two shelves. The top right has a photo of a little girl, who can only be Nikki with a man and woman. I'm pretty sure that's a family photo. My eyes dart down and I see her standing sandwiched between a black woman and black man. All three are smiling. It looks like it was taken at some party. I look right of that picture and see the same man sitting with Nikki in a booth at a restaurant.

They look happy together. So that's the type of guy she likes? I mean, well, he looks…he looks like some of the people I've busted, but…

I shake my head, that's not fair. Looks don't mean everything and I've seen plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing.

I glance up to the last picture, the one next to the family photo. This picture has the girl from the one below it and Nikki. They're looking at each other and I squint harder as my mouth drops open a little.

That isn't the way you look at a friend. It's a candid shot of two people very much in love.


"Nora?" Nikki's voice pulls me from my revelation and I look at her with glassy, dazed eyes. I blink and she says, "I've made up my bed for you. Come on. Fresh sheets and all."

I don't move and instead point to the photos. She comes over and takes my hand giving it a squeeze. She looks between me and the photo of her and that woman. She sighs and runs her free hand through her hair. "I think, darlin' we're gonna hafta talk in the morning, but tonight, we need to get you some rest."

I mutter, "The doctor said no sleep for six hours."

"I know, we've got five to kill." She smiles and tugs me towards the bedroom.

I swallow and ask, "Just how exactly are you going to keep me awake?" And holy crap I'm going to be in the same bed with her.

I'll be lucky to survive the night.

She smiles back at me as she pushes her bedroom door open. "You are going to read to me," she says it so innocently that it makes me break out into a grin.

"Do you like being read to?" I ask.

She shrugs. "Depends on who's doin' the reading." She has some pajamas laid out on the bed for me and says, "Go ahead and change. I'll step out and use the powder room."

I nod dumbly and watch her close the door to her bathroom. I fumble for a minute or two and finally manage to get undressed into the soft cotton pajamas. I sniff the sleeve and my stomach tightens.

They smell like her.

Collapsing onto the bed, I cradle my head in my hands and try to get the fog to clear. I know that I'm…more uninhibited right now. It's exactly how I don't need to be, especially around her, but here I am and here she is and…

I'm screwed.

I look up as she comes out of the bathroom wearing a similar set of pajamas and I smile. She returns my smile, plucking a book from the dresser next to her. She walks over and stops in front of me, setting the book on the bedside table.

I'm eye level with the underside of her breasts and I feel my cheeks heat up. Her finger hooks under my chin and she tilts my face up to look at her. Her free hand tucks the hair that's escaped from my ponytail behind my ear and she's still smiling.

I grin stupidly at her and say, "Ya know, you're awful pretty. Like when I first saw you, I could like barely speak, pretty."

She laughs and I turn red.

I can't believe that I just said that. I may never be able to meet her eyes again.

She surprises me too and says, "That made two of us, sugga, but this isn't something we should talk about now." A hand ghosts down the side of my face and she sighs, "We're gonna hafta talk. Not tonight. Tonight, you get to read to me," she looks at the spine of the book, "How does, Fall On Your Knees, sound."

My face scrunches and I say, "Painful."

She giggles. Actually giggles and backs away from me. "Well, you're just gonna have to suck it up. I've been told it's a helluva book."

I sigh and shrug. "Fine, but I get the left side of the bed." Scrambling around to the other side of the mattress, I make myself comfortable and prop a few pillows against the headboard.

Nikki crawls in next to me and places the book on my lap. She situates herself in a similar fashion and I crack the spine on our reading material. I look over the first few pages and begin. Nikki scoots over to me; laying her head on my shoulder. I smile as the first chapter gives way to the second.

Maybe this whole stoned, concussion thing will work in my favor.

Consciousness laps at the edges of my sleeping mind. It's the muffled sound of two people talking that pulls me from my slumber and there a few things that register before I even attempt to open my eyes. I tick them off in my head; one, I'm not at home, two, I've got a nasty headache and three, I'm pretty sure that if I open my eyes my head will explode.

Bravely I crack one eye open and am thankful that there are blinds covering the two large windows. Almost no light gets in that way and the only illumination comes from the cracked doorway where the voices are coming from. Opening the other I try to sit up and with a groan flop back on to the mattress.

Yeah, that worked.

Pushing away the pounding, I try again and stay up this time. Mopping my face with my hands my fingers grazes the stitches and it all comes back to me or at least some of it. I remember running that kid down, the car ride to the station, the booking and the hospital. I'm lost after the hospital.

Where the hell am I?

I look around and know this isn't Casey's place. I look over at the dresser and a picture of Nikki and a group of cops looks back at me.

I'm at Nikki's.

Well, that explains fuck-all of nothing.

I growl and stand, preparing to make it out into other parts of the apartment. I move gingerly as taking large steps seems to make my head hurt worse. I near the end of the hall and the voices carry clearly.

"Darius, this is serious," Nikki whines.

"Kouzin'," the man I'm to assume is Darius answers, "you got problems. My advice, you want it or not?"

I hear her groan and whine some more, "Fine."

"Keep it in your pants, Nik. She's your partner. You can't touch that. You know it. She should know it and I know them people you work for know it," he answers.

Another groan of frustration and I decide to make my presence known. "Nikki?" I call out softly.

I step into the living area and Nikki is getting up from the couch while a skinny black man, the one from the photo…

Oh, shit!

It all comes back to me and I blanch.

I need to get out of here. I need to leave and never look Nikki Beaumont in the face again.

Instead, she comes up to me and smiles. The urge to flee flies away and I'm left standing there tongue tied.

"Morning, partner." She steps to the side and waves a hand between Darius and me. "This is Darius Jamison. Darius meet my new work partner, Nora Delaney."

He smiles and waves. I nod back and say, "I'd be more presentable but…"

He waves me off. "I was given the story. Look, Nik," he turns to her, saying, "you needta think about this. It's not what you need. You here?"

I look between the two of them a little lost. Instead of clarifying, he looks back to me and says, "Nice meeting you, but I'm needed elsewhere this morning."

Neither say anything else as he grabs his coat off the back of the couch and leaves.

Well that was certainly interesting.

It's way too early for this and I need coffee. A large vat of it that I can stick my head in and drown in.

Nikki starts toward the kitchen and I follow her. The coffee's gotta be around here somewhere. I follow my nose. She watches me as I help myself to a mug off the dish rack by the sink and pour myself a cup.

I don't even bother with cream and just drink it straight. Moaning, I know nothing has ever tasted this good. I close my eyes and take another drink.

"Nora," Nikki says.

I open my eyes and look at her. My uninjured left eyebrow rises and I wanna say it's too early for this conversation, but I look at the clock. It's after eleven in the morning.

"Did you call Dan?" I ask, somehow knowing that she's already taken care of it.

Her nod is my confirmation and she pulls out the chair next to her. "Come sit."

I do as requested after pouring another cup of coffee.

"How much do you remember of last night?" she asks.

"Well, it was a little foggy until I saw Darius' face. Then it sorta came back." I set my coffee cup down and lean back in my chair.

"That wasn't exactly how I had intended on telling you," she says looking me over. Running a hand through her hair, she mirrors my posture and continues, "I guess the easiest thing is to just come out with everything and figure it out together."

"I…," I stop unsure of what to say exactly.

Amusement dances over her beautiful face while she talks, "Let's be clear. I saw you and I'll admit I was stunned. Darlin', you are a sight. The fact that you're just too cute for words when you get flustered has only added to my, shall we call it, my attraction." She leans forward and takes the coffee cup from my grasp. Expecting her to take my hand, I laugh when she takes a sip.

"So you're…" I stammer.

"The word you're lookin' for is gay, Nora dear." She winks at me and for some reason I grin back. "As I was sayin', I'm attracted to you. You, after your confession last night and the way you've been lookin' at me are, I will bet my bank account, are attracted to me as well."

I flush and she hands me back my coffee cup.

"I am," I admit. "But, I know that…well, we're partners Nikki. I didn't…you were… are gay, I just…hell, I don't know. I just know that…"

"We have a good connection," she finishes.

I nod and sigh relieved that she gets it. The last six days have been good. Really good. I lied a little to Ann the other night. Nikki's easy to work with. We click and it's good.

"We can't," I say.

"I know," she says.

We both laugh breaking some of the tension. We look at each other, searching one another for confirmation that this mutual confession will be enough. I resolve myself to make that commitment and finally, I see the same in her.

"Partners?" I extend my hand across the table.

She nods as she takes it and gives it a firm shake. "Partners," Nikki confirms.

We smile at each other and then she leans over and smacks me on the arm.

"Ow!" I whine rubbing the spot she just hit. "What was that for?

Her arms fold across her chest and her mouth pinches together. After giving me the stink eye, she hisses, "You ever take off on me like that again and I'll shoot you."

I rub the back of my neck, embarrassed. She's right, I broke protocol last night and it ended with me at the hospital.

I try for apologetic and give a tight-lipped smile. "Sorry?"

"Sorry my ass, you scared me shitless." She glares a few seconds more and then, her face cracks into a room brightening smile. "I will say this though sugga, watchin' you run is a thing of beauty."

I swallow as I feel the temperature rise in the kitchen.

Yep, I can do this whole 'partners' thing. It'll be a breeze.

The End

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