Author's Note: I do not own the characters of Nikki & Nora, nor do I make any claim to own them.

THE ALLEY

I'm not sure how long I've been sitting here, but it's somewhat irrelevant given the circumstances. It's late - that much I do know.

The world around me doesn't exist right now. My main focus is Nora.

I hold her hand in mine and watch the slow rise and fall of her chest as she sleeps. Her hand is warm, which is a good sign because it wasn't just a short time ago.

A soft whimper escapes from her as she shifts in her sleep, probably attempting to roll over. I put my hand on her arm, "Don't roll onto your side, sweetheart."

Her eyes open for a split second but the drugs in her system force them to roll back and close as she goes back to sleep. The sight rips my heart out but I snuff the tears away and try to be strong for her, even though I just want to fall to pieces, squeeze her tight and never let go. It's my fault that she's here...

"If we cut through the alley we can head him off," Nora said as she inspected her gun to make sure it was completely loaded.

"Uh uh. If we go back and get the car we have a better chance of getting him. He's gonna run and there are too many fences to climb over. We'll lose him for sure," I insisted.

"We're wasting time." The vein on the side of Nora's neck was evident, which always happened when she became agitated.

"No shit! That's why we're going to get the car and go! Come on!"

"I'm cutting through the alley. You gonna back me up?"

"Cut through the alley and I'll meet you on Dickerson with the car."

Nora bit her bottom lip as she shook her head and disappeared into the darkness...

I'll never forget the look on her face at that moment. It was the look of anger and disappointment. I didn't back her up and wanted to do things my way. Hell, we both wanted to do things our own way.

Tears start to roll down my cheeks as I can't hold them back any longer. "Nora, I'm so sorry," I say as I gently lift her hand to my lips and kiss the back of it before pressing it against my cheek. She's so doped up she can't even answer me. I wish she could say something, even if it's telling me to go to hell. I mean, I wouldn't blame her for hating me. I disappointed her. I'm her partner, in every sense of the word, and should have been right behind her. If I was, it wouldn't have happened...

I roared down Dickerson Avenue and slowed down when I came to the area where Nora was heading. Suddenly, I heard three loud bangs coming from the alley and my heart sank to my knees. "Nora!" I yelled while still inside the car. I was about to get out when our perp came running towards my car, sliding across the hood like the cousin of Bo and Luke Duke and hauling ass down into another dark alley way.

Immediately, I noticed the blood smeared across the hood and I smiled because Nora must have clipped him. I got out of the car and turned in the direction to chase him, but quickly stopped when I noticed Nora was nowhere around. She should be here right now, running past me, trying to catch him. My stomach began tying itself in a knot as I turned back and ran into the alley where the sound of the shots had come from. That's where the next vision will be forever imprinted in my brain...

She was lying on the ground, obviously in a great deal of pain. "Nora!!!" I screamed as I quickly ran to her side and dropped to my knees. "Oh my God," I kept saying as I took in the sight before me. She was sweating profusely and having trouble breathing. Her wheezing and gasping scared the shit out of me, not to mention all of the blood. Her chest was covered in it, as was the ground beneath her. "Let me see," I said to her as I tried to get her hands away to inspect the damage, but she was scared and in pain so she wouldn't budge. "Shhh, it's okay. Relax. Let me see it." She loosened her grip and I fought the urge to vomit as I saw the two bullet wounds in her ribcage that were leaking a steady stream of blood. I felt warm liquid penetrating through my jeans by my knee and noticed she was bleeding out of her back as her body rested up against me. Just seeing the havoc on the outside of her body made me fearful of what damage had been done to the inside.

With my best poker face, I forced myself to smile, "You're gonna be okay, you hear me?"

"H-hurts," she gasped in response as she let out a moan of pain that tore my heart out and beat me over the head with it.

"Just hang on and stay with me!" I whipped out my cell and called for an ambulance. It felt like forever until they came...

Looking at her now, calm and still, makes me feel only slightly better. The fact that she is in a tremendous amount of pain thanks to two bullets that ripped through her chest, makes me wish I could do something to make this all go away for her...

"Your partner is lucky," the doctor said to me as he sat down next to me in the waiting room. "One of the bullets went all the way through, exiting out her back, but low and outside so it didn't cause any organ damage. The second nicked her left lung and broke two ribs before becoming lodged in her back. She lost a lot of blood so we had to give her a couple of transfusions."

'Lucky,' I thought to myself. How could one be considered lucky when they could have been killed? That was my first question to myself as he was filling me in. But I see how it could be worse after it sunk in.

"She's in I.C.U. right now and will probably spend the next day there just to make sure there's no more internal bleeding. She's in a lot of pain so she'll be sedated for a few days."

'Pain' was the next word I digested - or tried to at least...

I put my head down on her arm, exhausted by the past twenty-four hours and also in an effort to get close to her. I just wanted to crawl into bed next to her and hold her - hold her until her pain went away.

I drifted off for a bit, lost in my own thoughts, but I was brought back to reality when I felt a hand on the back of my head. Looking up, I realized it was Nora.

"You okay?" she asked me in a quiet, raspy voice.

I lost it. The tears started to flow and I sobbed uncontrollably, my shoulders shuddering all the while.

"Hey," she whispered, somewhat confused by my reaction.

I tried to regain my composure as best I could. "I'm sorry," I said as I slid my sleeve across my eyes, sopping up the tears. "I'm so sorry."

"For?"

"For not backing you up and being behind you in that alley like a partner should have been. You got hurt because of me."

She didn't answer me and I could feel her tense beneath my touch. She tried to sit up but quickly found out that the slightest movement was a mistake.

"No. No. Don't move around too much," I said as I put a comforting hand on her shoulder - my lame attempt at soothing her pain.

Nora closed her eyes, sucked in a ragged breath and blew it out slowly, waiting for the pain to pass. "What happened?" she whispered as her eyes slowly opened and her head rolled to the right in order to face me.

"You don't remember?"

"I...I just remember...um...chasing someone...shot me...I shot him."

"You went down the alley and I...," I shut my eyes so the tears wouldn't fall, "I went around the block with the car. He ran out into the street. Freakin' dirtbag got blood all over the hood."

Nora smiled and laughed but the smile was soon replaced by a grimace, "Ow..."

I smiled, despite her pain - thankful for the light moment. "You're gonna have to take it easy for a while." I wanted to squeeze her hand harder but I didn't want to hurt her.

She put her right hand ontop of the covers where her wounds were and gave me a lopsided smile. "This sucks."

"I know. I wish there was something I could do to make it all better, sweetheart."

"Did you get him?"

Dammit. Just when things were heading in the right direction she asked the question I was hoping she wouldn't ask. I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I looked down at the floor as I tried to prepare an answer.

"He got away," she said n the most defeated tone of voice I think I've ever heard.

My head snapped up in time to catch the look on her face that was a mixture of disappointment and anger. "Nora, YOU were my priority not him. I knew something was wrong when you didn't come out of that alley. If I had chased him instead you'd...you'd be dead, okay. You would have bled to death."

She rolled her head away, breaking our eye contact. "We need to.." she paused as a flash of pain crept up on her, "...we need to find him, Nikki."

"WE don't but I will. You need to concentrate on getting better so I can take you home. I will take care of it."

"You're NOT doing it alone!" Nora snapped, her jaw clenching and her hand pressing on her wounds in response to her outburst.

"Easy, Nora. Come on. I need to do this. I need to make up for..."

"Stop it. You...you..d-don't need to."

"Yes I do!" I found myself nearly jumping out of my chair as I stood up. "It's killing me to see you like this! Seeing you lying here in pain because some violent asshole pumped two holes into your body. You almost died, Nora, do you realize that? I had your blood all over me because I couldn't get you to stop bleeding. I pressed harder and harder, even though it hurt you to do it but it wouldn't stop. And when we were in the ambulance, you kept calling my name. It tore my heart out because I was helpless. It's been my biggest fear ever since we were partnered up, that you'd get hurt and I'd have to figure out a way to deal with it. So I'm going to deal with it by catching the son-of-a-bitch that did this to you."

Nora inhaled sharply and bit her bottom lip. "Okay...fine."

"Look," I said as I took her hand into mine, "I'll be careful, I promise."

"No heroics."

"None."

"Okay then," she said as she did her best to relax. A hint of wetness lingered around her lids and I wanted to tell her to just let it go but figured it be best to let her cry when she felt ready.

I placed my lips over hers. "I will come by to see you tomorrow. Get some rest." I stroked the loose strands of hair away from her eyes and watched her eyes close. Within seconds she was fast asleep.


I spent the next week chasing down leads that only led to dead ends. This guy was suddenly a ghost. The only good news was that they were letting me take Nora home today. I think the nursing staff is tired of hearing her complain about the food and tired of hearing her bitch and moan about being laid up.

As I walk into her room, she's already waiting - sitting on the edge of the bed and looking at her watch.

"About time," she huffed.

I pushed a wheelchair towards her and motioned for her to climb aboard. "I'd be quiet if I were you. You should be here another week."

"I'm..." she grimaced and hissed in pain as she seated herself down in the wheelchair, "...I'm fine."

"Uh huh," I responded, pushing the wheelchair out into the hallway.

We got home and I walked around to her side of the car to help her, but little Miss Pigheaded wanted no part of it. She held up a hand in protest as the other rested on the car for support. "I can do it."

"Nora, cut it out. Need I remind you that you're recovering from being shot, for Christsake. Stop acting like it's nothing and let me help you."

Her jaw tightened and I could see the pain in her eyes, but still she trudged on. Her right arm held onto her midsection for dear life as she walked into the house and gingerly made her way over to the sofa, easing herself down with a grunt and series of choice words.

I blew out a breath in frustration before sitting in front of her on the edge of the coffee table. "Nora, please. It's only been a week and you're treating this like it's no big deal."

"I just want to get back to normal."

"And you will, it's just going to take time. There's no sense in rushing it and hurting yourself even further. No heroics, remember?" I took her hand and kissed it.

"If I recall, that comment was aimed at you not me."

"Yes, it was but you're not bionic. Hell, it's bad enough that you pretty much demanded they release you a week early."

"What? You don't want to take care of me?" she said with a coy smile and a wink.

I wasn't buying into it. "I"m serious, Nora."

Her smiled faded when she saw that I wasn't playing along and then I saw the tears begin to form in her eyes. "I...I just feel..."

"What? What is it? Do you want me to go get your pain medication?"

"No, it's not that. I just feel like I failed." A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I've been thinking, especially since that's all I've really been able to do for the past week, besides sleep. I remember what happened that night and I just feel like I messed up in that alley."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Nora, honey. You..."

"Don't. Let me finish. You know I don't take failure well. I had him! I had him, Nikki. He had his hands up and I was ready to cuff him and I fucked up. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush, but I didn't search him or secure him before I started to cuff him."

"Nora." Her words broke my heart.

"I made a rookie mistake and I'm no rookie, Nikki."

"Oh, sweetie," I said as I sat down next to her and pulled her close to me gently.

"It all happened so fast." More tears fell. "I went to put him up against the wall and when I started taking my cuffs out they got caught on my belt loop. I looked away for a split second, he pushed me down to the ground and shot me. It was so hard to focus. I shot at him as he was running away."

Now I started to cry. Just hearing what she'd been through made my own body ache for her. I kissed the top of her head and squeezed her hand. "I'm so sorry, Nora. If I had been there you'd be fine right now."

"I messed up. I couldn't even handle it on my own. What the hell good am I?"

"Stop. You stop right there," I said as I moved away from her, slightly. "Don't you even suggest that you're not capable. No one is perfect, Nora. Not even you."

"Okay, then stop saying that it's your fault that this happened."

I paused for a moment, taking in her words. "Then let's agree that it happened, there's nothing we can do to change it, and we need to learn from it and never let it happen again."

"Agreed," she said as she nuzzled next to me.

"Now, let's get you up to bed. You look wiped out." I stood up and put my hands on my hips, waiting for her to stand up.

Nora tried to stand but the pain was too intense. She looked up at me with the saddest eyes, "Can you help me?"

I grinned from ear to ear as I'd never heard her utter those words. "With pleasure, my dear." I helped her up and let her lean on me as much as she needed to. Then I got her into our bed, helping her gently lie down on the pillows that were propped up behind her. "Comfy?"

"Mmmhmm," she said as she shut her eyes for a moment - clearly absorbing the pain that was running around her body.

I climbed into bed next to her but for some reason I decided to straddle her - maybe an attempt to take her mind off the pain. Leaning in, I kissed her neck and whispered in her ear, "I've missed you."

Her arms came up and wound themselves around me as our lips met. "Missed you too," she mumbled through our kiss.

My body ignited with desire and I kissed her harder, but her grunts made me stop and take note of the situation.

"Sorry," Nora said as her brow creased and her right hand came to rest over her injured side.

I sat back on her thighs, "Don't be sorry, sweetie. I don't want to hurt you."

"You didn't. Just...not ready yet I guess."

My eyes left hers and I felt them immediately widen at the sight of the small red dots on her T-shirt just beneath her fingers. "Nora! Oh my God!" I shrieked with panic. I moved her hand away and pulled up her shirt to reveal the two squares of gauze taped to her smooth, olive skin - one stained with blood. "Shit! I...I didn't think I was that rough. I..."

"It's okay," she assured me. "They're probably still weeping."

I jumped off the bed, ran into the bathroom, retrieved all of the medical supplies we had and dashed back to her side. "Dammit! I shouldn't have..."

"Calm down, Nikki," she said as she was pulling off the wads of gauze. "See, no harm done."

My hand flew over my mouth as I saw her wounds for the first time - the thick black stitches that kept the wounds shut and the angry-looking red, black and blue skin around her entire left side. "Jesus," I hissed as I felt my breath catch each time I tried to breathe.

"Gimmie," she said as she grabbed the box of gauze pads and alcohol and began cleaning it up herself - biting on her bottom lip and closing her eyes as the sting of the alcohol grabbed her full attention. "You're gonna have to deal with this if you want to take care of me, you know. What kind of nurse are you?"

"I..." I didn't know what to say. I was stunned and nearly faint.

"You're gonna have to help me with the one in my back."

I gulped down the lump that was in my throat and did my best not to pass out as I tended to the exit wound in her back. I couldn't help but gasp at the site because exit wounds were always larger. "Remind me never to get shot." I tried to steer my thoughts away from the mangled flesh the bullet had inflicted on my lover, my partner...my everything.

"Yeah," she hissed as I cleaned it up and redressed it, "I don't recommend it."

"There," I said as I pulled her shirt back down, thankful that the initial shock of actually seeing the damage was now over. She rolled back over and got comfortable, or as comfortable as she could. "Why don't you get some rest. I'm gonna go get your pain meds down at the pharmacy. I shouldn't be gone long."

"Mmmm," she said as her eyes closed, "a nap sounds good." And that was that. She was out like a light.

As promised, I used this opportunity to head down to the pharmacy to pick up her meds. Not that she'd take them, but I didn't want to not have them in case the pain became too much for even her to bare.

When I walked out of the pharmacy and out to the car, I opened the door and was about to get in when something caught my eye...our perp was standing on the corner, trying to persuade a kid into doing something it seemed. Then I saw him point over towards the pharmacy. The scumbag stood on the corner as the kid walked across the street and into the pharmacy. I quickly got out and went back inside to have a chat with the kid.

I watched him talk to a tall man behind the counter before handing him what looked like a handful of cash. The clerk disappeared into the back and then came out with a small bottle, handing it to the kid.

I waiting for the kid to get closer to me before grabbing him by the sleeve and yanking him over into the next aisle. "What'cha got there?"

"W-what?" he stammered.

"The pills. Who they for?"

"Ssssome guy. Said he'd give me a hundred bucks if I came in here to get him some OxyContin."

"Hand 'em over."

"He'll...he'll kill me if I don't give them to him."

My grip tightened on his arm. "Give them to me!"

He slapped the bottle in my hand.

"Now stay here and don't leave until the police come, got it?"

He nodded.

I walked back out to the car, turning my head so he wouldn't see me. Then I climbed in, started it up and immediately saw flashes of Nora lying in the hospital bed and then another flash of Nora's wounds. My grip tightened on the wheel, I licked my lips and stomped on the gas, sending the car barreling towards the corner where he stood, leaning against a parking meter.

Innocent bystanders leapt out of the way but he was too slow. I got the car up onto the sidewalk and pinned him between the front end and the brick building behind him.

"My legs!!" he screamed.

"Too fuckin' bad for you," I said as I got out, climbed onto the hood and pointed my gun at him. "What's the matter, man? You in a little bit of pain? You looking for these?" I asked as I took the bottle of pills and threw them at him, smashing the plastic bottle and sending pills flying all over the sidewalk.

"Ahhhhhh, my legs!"

I squatted down in front of him, quickly reaching over and grabbing the gun I saw sticking out of the waistband of his pants. "'This the gun you used on my partner last week?"

"What?"

I tucked my gun away and aimed his own at him. "Is THIS the gun you shot my partner with?"

"Who the hell is your..."

I pulled the trigger and shot him in the side. "Now do you remember?"

"You bitch!!!" He screamed as he flopped over onto the hood.

"Nikki!" I heard Georgia yell from behind me. In all the commotion, I didn't even hear her pulling up.

"Sorry, Georgia, I'm a little busy here with this asshole who can't seem to remember the night he nearly killed my partner."

"Nikki, put the gun down."

"He resisted arrest, so I had to take him down by any means possible," I explained, my back towards her and my full attention on him. "The alley. You pumped two rounds into my partner's chest and nearly killed her. Any clearer for you?"

He laughed. "Oh yeah, the blonde bitch that thought she could catch me."

My anger reached it's full capacity and I kicked him in the face.

"Nikki! Stop!" Georgia pleaded as she was now to my left.

"He almost killed her, Georgia. Do you know what it's like to have your partners blood all over your hands and there's not a Goddamn thing you can do about it?"

"Back up is on the way. Come on. Get down and we'll let uniforms take it over."

"Nikki!" a familiar voice shouted from behind me, causing me to turn around.

"Nora?" I squeaked as my heart began pounding harder in my chest.

Dan helped her out of his car and she did her best to quickly walk over towards me. "Don't kill him, he's not worth it."

I hopped off of the hood and felt my lower lip begin to tremble. Then I sank to the ground on my knees in front of her, hugging her legs. I didn't have anything to say because there was no need. All my emotions spoke volumes.

"Shh, it's okay. You got him," she said as she hugged me back as best as she could. "Let's go home."

I got back to my feet and helped her back to Dan's car, tossing Dan the keys to mine, "Mind if we trade for a bit?"

"Not at all. But you need to come down to the station after you get Nora home."

I nodded as I got Nora safely in the car and then slid behind the wheel.

"What happened to no heroics?" Nora asked me as I started the car up and put it in drive.

I hung my head for a moment, "I just wanted to make it right."

"Dan came by to check on me and got the call while he was there. I seriously thought you were going to kill him."

"I just wanted him to feel your pain and be sorry for what he did to you, Nora."

"I've just never seen that side of you before."

"Well, when someone hurts someone I love that side of me tends to come out."

The remainder of the ride home was spent in silence. When we pulled up to the house, Nora got out and actually waited for me to walk with her into the house.

I brought her back up to bed and got her settled. "You need anything before I head down to the station? I'll try not to be long," I said as I wiped the hair out of her eyes.

"Nah, I'm good for now. But come back soon," she said with a smile.

"I will," I said as I leaned in and put my lips over hers. "Miss you already."

She smiled back and I left the room.

When I walked back out to the car I felt somewhat of a weight lifted off of me, but I knew that Nora wasn't happy with the way I handled the situation. I know I have some anger issues that no one, not even Nora, really know about. But it still hurts me to think that I came close to losing her and I think it's pretty clear to everyone now how much she means to me.

THE END