whedonist: (Brit/Nurse Lopez)
[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: PG-13-ish, there are some adult concepts and themes, but nothing too over the top.

Summary: Nikki's not really "Nikki" and Nora's sings a differnt 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. 3 – Looking Up


Pulling up to the station at seven in the morning is never really a good thing.

Too early to be going to work, but it's a little worse when I park my baby, a Sixty-nine El Camino Five-oh-two, mint in all the right ways, in the station's lot and look over to see my phone lit up with 'Mom' on the display.

There's really no type of mental preparation that can be done to help with my mom. So I suck it up and answer the phone, "Hi, mama."

"Oh, good, Nora, I'm glad I caught you. I thought that I'd have gotten your voicemail and was prepared to leave a message." I huff. I'm an idiot. I should have gone with my first instinct. "Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about a few things."

"Is this going to take long?" I ask and slip the key from the ignition and into my pants pocket. "I have a meeting soon." I keep the time reference vague. If it'll help speed things along 'cause she thinks I need to be somewhere good. My first meeting isn't for, a look at the watch on my left wrist, forty minutes.

"Shouldn't take that long, I don't think," she chirps back instantaneously. "I know you said you didn't want to do anything big for your birthday..."

"Mama...," I grumble at her, knowing that it's a lost cause. Any excuse for her to try and get people together is one that she will not pass up.

"Now, Nora, I know you. You let me get away with murder on your thirtieth. I was just thinking that we have a nice family supper. You, your brothers and sister, Daddy," she pauses as I hear clanging in the background. My guess is she's in the kitchen, "I wanted to tell you to invite Georgia, her partner..." she clucks her tongue, "oh, his name's not coming to me..."

"Gauthrie," I supply to her delight.

"Right, thank you, I'll have to remember that. What's his first name?"

"Ryan."

"Yes, invite him. He seemed like such a nice young man at the picnic." I hear the refrigerator open and close as she prattles on, "Also, I invited Lois Hall's daughter, Michelle, you remember her? You and your friend, Kristina, used to play with her when she'd visit her grandparents during the summer."

"Mama," my voice drops in warning. She doesn’t need to say any more. When I was a teenager it was near any available boy that she could get her hooks into to come over for supper. When I came out freshman year in college, after the shock and crying over no grandbabies or a big wedding, she started in on the women. The women and PFLAG and GLADD, most times, dragging my poor dad around to the various meetings. A friend’s daughter simply translates to ‘setup.’

I don't get much else as she talks over me, "Well, Lois got a divorce. Ran into her at the market. She and her daughter have moved down here. I guess Michelle got a nice position with some investment firm or something. Educated and smart." She pauses to take a breath. The reprieve is short lived. "Anyway, I thought it'd be nice. You two know each other and she doesn't really know anybody else. Lois also let it slip that she occasionally plays for your team and she's currently single. Won't hurt if you got a date out of it."

"Oh, my God, mama!" I pinch the bridge of my nose and hang my head. "How many times do I need to tell you..."

"You've told me enough. Now Nora, I know you think it's a setup, but I guess she's one of them...switch hitters?...Well, Lois said she likes both, you know? So I thought that if you and her didn't hit it off, maybe Dan'll get a date instead. I saw her picture. She's a lovely young lady, Nora Eugenia. The least I'll demand from you is hospitality."

I wince at the use of my middle name. I cringe at her tone. I hate that tone. "Fine, but I'm only letting it go because Dan's getting setup here just as much as I am," I concede.

"Now, I expect at least you and Dan to be here at six on Saturday. Call me later today and let me know if Georgia and Ryan will be joining us as well so I know whether or not to put the extra leaf in the dining table to make room. One last thing, what kind of cake do you want me to make?"

"Hmm, uhm, yellow with chocolate icing." It's a sin really. My mother's food is really the best and her cakes will cause fights if there's only one piece left.

"I figured as much. Okay, well, I need to go or I'm going to burn breakfast. You and Daniel stay safe and I love you."

"Love you, too. Bye," I say. I wait for the click on the line to tell me she's disconnected. I drop the phone in my lap, close my eyes and rub my temples. My family is really great. I know that I really have nothing to complain about, not really.

They're just...intense and there's a lot of us. Six in my house, me, Bobby, Kevin, Kira and mom and dad. Then there was the extended bunch. I think at our last get together there were around fifty. That was just the aunts, uncles and cousins. I swear we’re like rabbits.

A rap on my window draws my attention and I open my eyes to Dan standing outside my car holding up a bag and a tray of coffee cups. He smiles and wiggles his eyebrows. I grin back. It's mainly due to the breakfast he brought, but if what I think is in the bag, is in fact there, today will be good.

I collect my jacket from the passenger seat and step out of the car. "Morning," I greet as Dan steps back to let me out. I shut and lock the door then turn my full attention to the food.

"Mama D.?" he asks, setting the food on the hood of my El Camino.

"Yeah," I nod and take the offered cup of coffee gratefully. "Thanks. Is that from Dechaux's?"

Dan nods, digging into the bag for my breakfast sandwich. "One bacon, egg, potato sandwich on a strawberry bagel for you." He puts the sandwich in my outstretched palm. The wax paper wrapping is warm and just a little greasy.

"You, partner, are my favorite person," I purr and put my coffee on the hood of the car so I can eat.

"I know," Dan says and opens his own sandwich. His is like mine, but the bread. He likes his on sourdough.

"Also, don't make plans for Saturday. You have to come with me to dinner at my parents. And, we're being set up." I smack my lips as I expose one side of the bagel. The smell wafts up and I close my eyes. I open them and sink my teeth into the sandwich. My eyes flutter shut as I chew. The bacon’s perfect, crisp and salty. The eggs are fluffy, with just the right amount of pepper.

If I could get away with it, I’d probably just commit myself to the sandwich Dechaux serves and swear off women...well, most, uhm, Victoria--Nikki, that dancer was...is--I shake my head and swallow my bite of sandwich.

"What?" Dan’s question is met with a startled look. I catch him just as a piece of food falls from his lips.

I laugh and tell him, "Your adopted mom is setting us up with the same woman."

He groans and rolls his eyes.

"If I have to suffer, I don't see why you should have to get out of the misery. Mama says she's pretty and works for some investment firm or something." I shrug and take another big bite of my sandwich.

I savor this bite a little more.

Heaven.

Pure, unadulterated, Heaven.

It's going to be a good day.




“So,” Dan whispers out of the side of his mouth, mindful of one Dr. Charlie Issacs and the dictaphone he’s been speaking in. The morgue isn’t as quiet as it usually is and if Adelai has a hard time hearing him over the chatter behind us, heads’ll roll.

I’d prefer it not be mine.

“So, what?” I whisper back from my spot on the other side of the door jam. Our shoulders press together, but we fit in the frame just fine if we stand a certain way.

“What’d you think of Badlani’s,” he shifts his arms and air quotes, “‘encouragement,’” his arms drop before folding back across his chest, “about wrapping this up?”

My tongue rolls across the back of my bottom lip before I answer, “I still don’t think it’s a suicide.” I hold up my hand and tick off the few and admittedly circumstantial reasons, “No history of depression, no medication, she had money...”

“We couldn’t afford her apartment if we combined our salaries,” Dan interjects.

“Nothing that would indicate personal problems and no note,” I finish up.

Dan bobs his head and adds, “I mean if it were me, in that type of situation, I’d leave a note. If you’re going to throw yourself off a seventh story balcony, why not let people know why.”

“Although,” I let the word linger causing Dan to groan.

“You’re going to play devil’s advocate aren’t you?” he groans.

“Well, she also doesn’t have much of a paper trail. Jane Dawson...do you know how many hits that pulled in the system? Her D.L. record was clean. Got her license five years ago. What was she doing before then ‘cause she doesn’t have any expired I.D.’s in the system either?” I wonder quietly. It was one of the major sticking points with the case that we both had.

Jane Dawson didn’t appear to exist five years ago.

“Yeah,” he agrees and rubs the back of his shaved head. “That bugs me too. Maybe we can get Charlie to look at her a little closer. Dental records would help. See if there’s anything else she has physically that we can use to dig a bit deeper.”

Nodding, I agree, “Sounds good. I’d like to rerun her prints through A.F.I.S.”

“After we leave here, then.” He bumps my shoulder and whispers playfully, “So did you see Veronica again?” He wiggles his eyebrows and I shoot him a look out of the corner of my eye. I can’t prevent the heating up of my cheeks. Catching on, he teases me a bit more, “You did, you dirty dog.”

“I may have stopped by last night,” I admit it. I mean I told him I was thinking about it. “Actually got there right in time. Some dipshit was getting handsy. Geno ejected him though.”

“Hmm, and what did you do?” he asks, smiling.

I shrug my left shoulder. “Noth...”

“Bullshit,” he cuts me off.

“I gently reminded the side of his face what the edge of a bar feels like.” I grin and wink at him.

“That’s my girl,” Dan coos to my annoyance.

“Hey, if ya’ll are gonna hang out in the doorway all day, the least you can do is say hello,” Charlie chides.

“Sorry,” I say immediately.

“We didn’t want to interrupt your genius at work,” Dan explains as we both push off the edge of the frame and step into the autopsy suite.

“Hmm,” he hums and raises an eyebrow, “I think you’re just trying to butter me up.”

“Maybe,” I smile. “We wanted to see if you had a chance to look at Dawson yet?”

He shakes his head as he peels off the bloody gloves he’s wearing. “You heard about the car crash that ended up in the river. I’ve been trying to get that done.”

“Ah, right,” Dan says.

I vaguely remember hearing about a car losing control and spinning off a bridge. I think it happened two maybe three days ago. Young kids if I recall correctly.

“That’s had me busy. I’ve got two left and a full locker.” He shrugs his shoulders. “I can promise a call as soon as I know something more,” he promises.

Our Charlie usually does make good on them. “Deal,” I readily agree.

“So,” Charlie looks to me and wiggles his eyebrows. “I hear Dan took you someplace special.”

Wide eyes are directed my partner’s way. “You told him?” I snap and backhand Dan in the chest.

“What?” His arms go up to defend himself, swatting away another hit to his shoulder. “We talked the other day and he was asking about doing something.”

“I would have gone, but...” Charlie grins widely.

“Oh, did I tell you she met someone?” Dan backs up this time, dodging another hit.

“Really?” the doctor coos.

“Veronica. Dancer. Leggy, busty. Hot,” Dan fills in. “She went back last night to see her.”

“I’m going to hurt you later, Harney,” I threaten and stab a finger at him.

“Ah, how’d it go?” Charlie asks.

“She slammed a guys face into the bar for her.” Dan recounts, tossing an arm over my shoulder to squeeze me.

“You were her white knight. Very Nora Delaney of you,” Charlie teases me. “So, did you give her your number?”

I draw in a deep breath and shake my head. “Exchanged.”

Twin hoots echo around the room. I can’t help the blush. I mean I talk to these two guys about pretty much everything. May as well be honest about this.

“I swear, Nora,” Dan chuckles and shakes his head. “What is it with you?”

I shrug.

“You’d think with as many numbers as she collects, she’d date a bit more,” Charlie agrees with my partner.

“Hey, now...” I stop talking as my phone rings halting the conversation. I reach down on my waist and unclip the device to look at the screen. I can’t help the grin as I answer and spin on my heel to take the call out in the hall. “Hello.”

“Good afternoon, Ms. Nora,” Nikki purrs into my ear.

“Hi,” I chirp back. “How are you?”

“Hmm, I’m good,” she answers and I prop myself just outside the door against the left wall. “I wanted to thank you again for last night. Actually, I wanted to do it more properly. Perhaps with dinner and some drinks if you’re free tonight?”

“I think I can manage that,” I say without thought to what, if anything, I have scheduled for tonight. I’ll cancel. “You off tonight?”

“I am indeed. I usually only work three days a week. So, tonight then? I’d offer to cook, but you really don’t want me anywhere near a kitchen unless it’s for a bowl of cereal or a cup of coffee,” she says.

Laughing, I agree, “Tonight would be great. I’ll make sure to get out of work on time. What time and where should I meet you?” I ask.

“Well, how about seven and I’ll text you the rest of details. I’ll recommend comfortable clothes. I promise not to take you anywhere too fancy tonight.”

“It’s a date then,” I gush and smack my forehead with the palm of my hand.

“Indeed it is, my dear, indeed it is. I’ll let you get back to work then. I have some planning to do.” I hear her rustle around some paperwork as she talks and I wonder what she’s doing.

“I look forward to it,” I admit. “See you later, Nikki.”

“Later, Nora,” she purrs and disconnects.

I press my forehead against the cool wall and inhale. The smell of antiseptic brings my mind back to focus. I have some work to do before I can bow out today. I clip the phone back on to my belt and prepare myself to face Dan and Charlie.

I spin around and see them both with matching grins standing in the doorway. “How much of that did you two hear?”

They waggle their eyebrows and Dan says, “Let’s go, partner. We need to make sure you’re home with enough time to get ready. Although, who’s Nikki?”

“Veronica’s real name,” I say with a grin.

“Never keep a lady waiting,” Charlie sing songs, “well, at least that’s what my mama used to say.”

I groan and roll my eyes. The next few hours are going to be torture.

Next>>>

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