whedonist: (Kenzi FTW)
[personal profile] whedonist
Title: Near Life Experience
Disclaimer: Not my characters – except for one or two. The rest of the ladies and gentleman contained herein belong to entities with a higher pay grade. Thanks for allowing li’l ole me to play; I promise to return them as I found them…just like the tools I borrowed from dad when I was a kid. Also, this is unbeta’d so…mistakes are really all me. Sorry about that.
Fandom: Nikki & Nora
Pairing: Nikki/Nora
Rating: R for this chapter.

Summary: Nikki's not really "Nikki" and Nora's sings a different tune.

A/N: I've been absent. Between moving, a new job and a 6 hour commute for a month, it's been a bit crazy. Life's starting to right itself so I thought I'd get this up and running to motivate me more.

Aside from above, this story is an A.U.-like really A.U. The two aren't a working two and don't each other, yet. Dan's still Nora's partner and Nikki, well, you'll see. Read, enjoy. Church has started so I'll be there.



Ch. 7 – Trail of Crumbs


TThe morning is murky and cold. Looking around at the fog blanketing the area, I have to wonder how in the hell the body was found? Who noticed, how did they notice? The sun’s trying, lamely, to burn off the night and the fog. It hasn’t succeeded yet. I yawn as Dan pulls me along the edge of the property line, following the path laid out by a set of scene techs and a few uniforms.

Waking up is proving to be a bit difficult. Nikki lulled me to this languid state of exhaustion when her early Sunday morning visit turned into a very long, pleasurable Sunday afternoon, evening and resulting late night. I’d complain about the lack of sleep, but it would stupid.

My weekend was amazing.

Then Dan called. He also seems to have noticed I’m not even sort of awake…if the not-so-subtle comment on the large travel mug full of coffee in my hand is anything to go by.

I do my best to ignore the slight smirk on his lips as I ask, “So why did we get this call?”

My partner shrugs and holds a branch covering our path out of my way as I duck under it and stumble over an exposed tree root. His hand clamps around my left bicep, steadying my feet and stopping the forward progress I was making to the soggy ground.

“Woah,” he grunts as I shrug his arm off and right myself.

“Thanks,” I mumble and move towards the silhouette of the body ten yards ahead. The techs are milling about as we approach and I only see one Uni managing the scene.

“You weren’t out drinking were you?” Dan asks from my left, his hands are stuffed in the pockets of his favorite dark blue, flight jacket.

“Don’t be an ass,” I snap before sipping the coffee Nikki made.

“Well,” he shrugs at me, “you look like you haven’t slept, but you aren’t exactly annoyed that you haven’t slep…” He looks me over again and then it happens, a slow, knowing grin grows.

“Stuff it,” I manage and prevent the smile. Smiling around a dead body is just considered rude. Even if it takes serious effort for me not to.

“I didn’t wake you up when I called you in, did I?” he asks, bumping his shoulder into mine.

“I was dozing,” I say unwilling to admit anything more.

“Hmm, I take it Nikki was as well?” He side eye’s me.

“Dan,” I warn, “not the time.”

“What’s not the time?” a voice pipes up from behind me.

“Kira?” I ask before even turning around.

“Hey, sis,” she waves her hand at me before opening her arms to Dan.

“Well, this is interesting,” Dan says as he gives my sister a bear hug and lifting her off the ground. “Why are you here?”

“Because I’m here,” my dad jogs up to us being followed by two men in jeans and wind breakers with F.B.I. logos printed on the left side of their chest.

Dan drops Kira back to the ground and he shoots me a look.

Well this certainly is interesting.

Kira pulls her shoulder length blonde hair back into a ponytail and then slips on a pair of latex gloves before offering the small group we’ve assembled their own pair.

“Good morning, dad,” I greet as he leans over to peck me on the cheek. I look around the area of the park and see a small bench off to my right. I set my coffee my down and turn back to the group.

“Dad,” Dan greets with a shake of my father’s hand.

“Dad, Matthew?” the agent on the left side of my dad asks.

“Vince,” my dad turns to the man and makes the introductions, “This is my other daughter, Det. Nora Delaney and her partner, Dan Harney.” He turns to us and says, “Vince Jackson and his partner Chris Cunningham. They’re with the Criminal Intelligence division out of Quantico.”

We all shake hands and make pleasantries before heading over to the body. I’m sort of grateful as Dan picks up the slack in the conversation department. My brain is sluggishly trying to process the new pieces of information it’s gathering along with the presence of my dad and my sister.

Jackson and Cunningham are in town for the task force Dan and I have been assigned to. Kira, it looks like is also on this little venture that’s been put together. I lean over to Kira and ask, “Fill me in?”

Her green eyes light up and she grins, “It’s actually a little more boring than you’re thinking. I was called to the scene about an hour ago.”

“Why?” I ask as I begin to study the body in front of me.

“The Uni, Ofc. Foos, made a good call.”

I glance up and frown at her.

“The Jane Doe was found with a needle in her arm,” Kira clarifies. “Dispatch called me, since I’ve been tagged to come in as a first responder to all potential O.D.’s. The task force you’re on now is working with my department and Special Crimes.”

I hike an eyebrow and she tries to put me off, “Let’s process this, first.” A hand goes up to halt the protest on my lips. “Once we clear the scene, we’ll let Dan buy us breakfast and I can fill you in on it all. It’s actually pretty cool and pretty big.”

“How come we were pulled in?” I ask.

“You mean is Daddy playing favorites?” she guesses correctly. I dip my chin. “I actually requested you and Dan. We needed two bodies with cross-functional experience, which is what you do in S.C.U…”

“The magical land where all major crime comes to live,” I snicker.

“I would have went to Georgia and Gauthrie, but Sean said they’re in and out of court over the next few weeks.”

“True,” I confirm.

“I like Walsh, but I’d rather eat a bucket of ‘gator claws then deal with Chastain,” Kira says as she rifles through the contents of the victims small clutch. No I.D. falls out. In fact the only thing that comes out of the purse is a tube of lipstick.

Hmmm…

“Can’t fault you there,” I agree.

“So yeah, that left you and Dan. I got pulled in because my Lieu just wanted me out of his hair.” We both stand as she hands off the two evidence bags to a tech.

“Loggia’s got it in for you still?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “Nah, but he’s still pissy and Bec’s still out on maternity. No current partner so…”

“How’s the by the way?” I wonder about Becky Evlyn, my sisters partner in Vice. She’s on baby number two. I still can’t fathom how she manages to work long Vice operations and still keeps a husband and raise a kid, now two. She either never sleeps or there are two of her.

“Good. I stopped by Saturday. The baby’s adorable,” my sister gushes. I shoot her a look and her eyes narrow. “Look, sis, just ‘cause you have more interest in dogs than you do kids…”

“They live shorter lives and are less expensive,” I rattle off my standard argument.

“Kids are better. Period. You don’t have to join the baby craze, but I can’t wait,” she gushes.

Rolling my eyes, I elbow her good naturedly. My sister’s such a girl. “Well, you need to find a partner for that,” I rib her.

“Pfft, or a turkey baster,” she jokes.

“Ew, seriously,” I shudder. “You’re the queen of rom coms…I know what you’re holding out for.”

“True, but…” she looks over at Daddy, the agents and my partner, “if it doesn’t happen, I can be a single parent.”

“Hmm,” I say as I start to examine the body. The victim’s white halter dress is stained and muddy. From a cursory glance, I can’t see tearing or blood stains. Nothing to indicate any type of assault. That’s good, well as good as a situation like this can be.

Her light blonde hair is matted from the moisture in the fog and the mud. The fair skin is equally grimy.

“I’ll get Charlie to snap a couple of solid pics of the half sleeve,” I say pointing at the floral design on her left arm. “If we can’t I.D. her in a day or two, I’ll take it around to some local shops, maybe someone will recognize the art.”

“Sounds good,” Kira says absently as she scribbles on her clipboard.

She’s going to have to do a lot of filling in over breakfast. For now, I let her to it and stand, telling her I’m going to go round up Dan and see if I can get an E.T.A. on Charlie so we can get out of here. She nods, not looking up from her work and I smirk. At least I know I come by my focus honestly.




“Cute,” I say as I step through the doorway as Nikki ushers me in. I give her outfit, high heels with cut off jean shorts and a tank top another once over. “But,” I say spinning around and hooking a finger into one of her belt loops, “why the heels?”

Her shoulder lifts up in a shrug and she says, “I was actually working on one of the club’s routines when you called.” She points to the pole and small linoleum tiled area in the corner of her living room. “I just didn’t bother to change.”

Biting my lower lip, I feel my brow knit together. “I’ve heard of being dedicated…” I trail off at her look.

Her raised eyebrows and crossed arms don’t look too good. “Well, regardless of what I do, I like to be prepared.” The statement is clipped.

“Of course,” I say as seriously as possible. “I, uh, well, I just didn’t think…”

“Think what?” she asks pulling away to put the chain on her door.

“Well,” I pause and rub the back of my neck, stalling to find the right words, “it’s just someone that does what you do, I didn’t think that those types of people…”

Shit.

“No,” I swallow, “that came out wrong. Dancers, clothed or not, I mean, don’t you usually work in a studio?” I finally get out.

“Did you come over spoiling for a fight or are you that cranky because of work that you have no idea how what you just implied can be taken?” Her right eyebrow lifts up as she waits on my answer.

I feel the heat rise in my face and have the good sense to look at the floor.

“Nora?” she asks again, her tone belying her waning patience.

“More work, I’m sorry, it really did come out all wrong,” I finally say. “Between the call so early this morning and having to leave you in bed…” I try to excuse my lack of tact. “I wasn’t trying to imply…I know we talked.”

“Which was before we spent half the weekend in bed,” she reminds me, her tone softening a little as she leads me around to sit on the couch.

“Right, and that hasn’t changed,” I try to reassure her as we plop down and I draw her to me, wrapping my arms around her shoulders so she can cuddle against me. “I just wasn’t thinking, then you in heels sort of made my brain extra gooey and then the pole, which I’ve seen, just sort of forgot about.”

“Hmm,” she hums against my chest, her breath moist and warm as it spreads through the thin material of my t-shirt to settle against my skin. “So what you’re saying is that you’re an idiot?”

“Exactly,” I agree.

“As long as we’re still…”

“We are,” I reassure again. “Chalk it up to my stupidity and let’s start over. Hi Nikki, you look amazing. How was your day?”

Snickering against me, she let’s me off the hook and plays along, “Boring, worked a little and then did laundry. How was your’s and why did you have to leave so early this morning?”

“Just an emergency at the office. Dan and I got put on this project and it started sooner than either of us were expecting is all,” I play it off, knowing that eventually I will have to tell her what it is that I actually do.

“So it was that bad?” she wonders as she shifts in my arms and sits up to put my feet in her lap. She tugs at me sneakers, pulling them off and lets them drop to the floor.

I wiggle my toes as their freed from the black ankle socks I had on. “The first half of the day wasn’t bad. The second half was cutting through government red tape,” I grumble remembering the hours spent on the phone trying to push through some of the basic forensics that need to be done on our Jane Doe.

“Which prompted your want to come over…”

“That would be it,” I agree and watch as her hands slide up my legs and move to the snap on my jeans. She flicks at it and I watch the button pop open. I stop her hand as it moves to my zipper, “Nikki.”

“Yes,” she says not looking up from her task of trying to remove my hand.

I grab her hands in mine and bring them to my chest, resting them there to get her attention. “Nikki, seriously, I didn’t come over here to get laid.”

Her brown eyes go a little wide and I hurry to clarify, “Nikki, I just wanted to see you. I was hoping your sarcasm would scrub away the bureaucracy.”

She starts to pull away, faltering as I hold tight to her hands. I let go as she struggles a little more and retreats to the other side of the couch.

“Nikki?” I ask trying to figure out what I said that set her off this time. Is it me? Am I really that out of it right now that everything I’m saying is upsetting?

“Nora,” she presses her lips together and pauses “I…”

I sit up a little straighter and wait. I know I’m tired. I know I’m a little cranky and my filter’s slightly off, but…

I have to be missing something here.

“Did I say something wrong, again?” I need to know.

Running a hand through her hair, she sighs and starts to shake her head, but stops. “I just…we talked about this.”

We did?

What did we talk about?

Her job, some of her history…letting the conversations we had tumble around in my head for a minute more, it finally clicks and I say, “Is this not casual enough?”

Did I overstep my bounds? I didn’t think…

“No, yes, I…”

“Nikki,” I say her name gently, leaning forward to pull her feet into my lap. Slipping her high heels off both feet, I settle her left, but take her right and begin kneading it. “I need you to understand that while the sex is amazing, I just don’t want that from you. Even if we don’t have sex, I like being around you. If the sex confuses it, I’d take friends.”

“But Nora,” she tries.

“No, I’m serious. Casual is good. I agreed to that. But I don’t want you thinking that the only thing I’m around you for is to use you.” I hold her gaze briefly, trying to convey how serious I am about this. Knowing some of her history in her failed attempts at relationships. “You’re not a fuck buddy, you’re not my property. If we have sex, great, but you’re more than a pretty face with a great body.”

“I know…”

“You do and you don’t,” I stop her protest. “So, let me prove myself and let’s not over think it. Can we just relax; you can come back over here and cuddle with me while you tell me funny stories about the club?” I pout at her and bat my eyelashes, trying for a bit of playfulness.

I hold my arms open wide and wait her out, giving a few sniffles to make my point. She huffs, blowing the bangs from her eyes before relenting, and crawling back into my lap.

“You staying here?” she asks as I settle my arms around her and rest my hands at the small of her back.

“If you want,” I yawn as I feel her breathe in and out.

“Yeah,” she mumbles rubbing her nose on my shirt. “I guess, but if you get too clingy, I’m going to put you in a box on the curb with a sign around your neck that reads ‘free to a good home’.”

“Hmm,” I mumble as I struggle to keep my eyes open. “Okay.”
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