A/N: The final curtain, so to speak. Except it isn't really. I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who's been so enthusiastic about this story, I think you might've enjoyed reading it as much as I've loved writing it and that's really something! So I decided I couldn't let the characters go. Yup, that means more Nikki/Di at an indefinite time in the (near) future and, in the meantime, another story in what I'm coming to call the 'I'm Not in Love' universe with a different pairing but still hanging on the fact that Nikki and Di are together. Let me know your thoughts and let me know if there's anything mentioned in Nikki and Di's relationship that you'd like to see developed more. I'm open to ideas and I'd love to please anyone! (Now don't take that wrong way!) In all seriousness, thank you. And especially thank you to Lou, who originally gave me the ideas for this story. A hundred thousand words later I think I can be sure it grew out of all proportion! The song in this chapter is 'Something About the Way You Look Tonight' by Elton John. Enjoy x.

There was a time,

Diane grinned as she heard the phone begin to bleat for the fourth time that evening. Deciding she'd allow Nikki to get it- since the last calls had been Rebecca, Daisy, Rebecca and Liam respectively- she instead moved over to the mirror and examined her reflection in the glass.

Not too shabby, if she did say so herself. Realising she was missing the simple necklace she'd bought for the occasion, she retrieved it from the dresser before returning to the mirror and slipping it around her neck.

She vaguely heard Nikki talking on the phone but couldn't decipher any individual words. Besides, she was too concerned with that minor jolt in her stomach that had been present off and on throughout the day to worry about phone calls regarding Bert the incredible hamster.

'It's Robert for you,' Nikki called through from the living room.

'Coming!' Going through she grasped the receiver from her partner and muttered, 'You'd better get dressed. I want to see what you've hiding from me.' When Nikki chuckled and disappeared towards the bedroom, she lifted the phone to her ear. 'Hiya, what's up?'

'Dad wanted to know what time you'd be here on Boxing Day,' her son replied casually.

'What, and he nagged you to call me?'

'No, I offered to.'

I was everything and nothing all in one.

Diane half-smiled and then answered, 'We'll be there around lunchtime, depends on how the traffic is.'

'Is Liam still coming?' Robert questioned.

'Yeah, if his dad's still alright with it,' she said carefully, not wanting to give him absolute confirmation just yet. The lads had met in the autumn holiday when Robert and Steve had come to London for a few days and they'd seemed to get on, bonding over the fact their parents were so uncool and irritating apparently. And, since Doug was trying to keep his son happy and relatively normal, he hadn't objected to the friendship or the original notion that she and Nikki take the girls and Liam away between Christmas and New Year. Since she and Nikki had both drawn the short straw and were working on Christmas Day while Doug wasn't it seemed like a good solution.

'What've you got me for Christmas?'

'Who says I've got you anything?'

'Nikki told me?'

'Yeah, nice try,' she said. 'Listen, mate, I've gotta go. It's the work Christmas party tonight.'

'Oh, is that tonight?'


'Good luck.'

'Cheers. Think we'll need it.'

And when you found me, I was feeling a cloud across the sun.

After putting the phone back in the cradle she returned to the bedroom, stopping short as she caught sight of the dress Nikki was wearing, the one that she'd deliberately kept from her for the past week. 'Wow.'

Nikki glanced over her shoulder. 'You like it?'

She let out her breath into a light laugh. 'Yeah, you could say that.' Examining the folds of black fabric that hovered just above the floor, Diane lifted her gaze slowly up her lover's entire body. 'I'm not sure I want you out in public dressed like that though.'

Smiling, Nikki queried, 'Can you zip me up?'

Walking over, she did as requested, then turned Nikki towards her. 'You look absolutely gorgeous. I mean it.'

Her partner blushed. 'Thanks.'

Briefly kissing her, Diane questioned, 'You nearly ready to go? I'll call a cab.'

'You're eager.'

'Well, let's just say if I look at you for much longer while you're in that dress, you won't be in it for much longer.'

Nikki playfully teased a finger around her neck. 'I could live with that.'

'Don't tempt me,' she warned. 'I'm deadly serious.'

I need to tell you how you light up every second of the day.

Reaching across the taxi to hold Nikki's hand, she whispered, 'Are you okay? You look a bit… green.'

'I'm just a bit nervous, that's all.'

Di sighed and squeezed her hand. 'You know, we don't have to…'

'No, we do,' Nikki interjected. 'And I want to! I'm sick of people asking me if I've found someone else yet. I want them to know.'

Since it had been Nikki's idea initially to let the Sun Hill gossips in on their secret Diane was willing to leave her be. It hadn't been a prospect she'd particularly liked- Roger Valentine questioning her on why she was attracted to women, Nate trying his luck etc, but… No, part of her was secretly pleased. If the suggestion they ever went public was going to come, she'd always imagined it would have to come from her. And she'd never have voiced that idea anyway, for fear of scaring Nikki half to death. But for Nikki to have broached it like she did- hesitantly over a romantic dinner- was fantastic and, yeah, while things probably would get a bit rough at work in the coming weeks she was prepared to deal with it. After all, she'd put Nikki through worse than that in the past, hadn't she? This was payback of sorts. Or, she supposed, just a sacrifice of love.

But in the moonlight you just shine like a beacon on the bay.

When they walked into the hall rented out for the occasion, Diane glanced to Nikki to make sure she was still alright and hadn't fled without her noticing. Her lover squeezed her hand discreetly. 'You don't have to keep looking at me like that. I'm fine.'

'I know you are, I just… Sorry, I'll shut up.'

'Probably for the best,' Nikki commented.

Going further into the hall, Diane remarked, 'Anyway, we won't be the centre of attention. Not with the DI pregnant with the DCI's kid.'

Nikki conceded that with a slight laugh. 'Mmm. Look, there's Jo and Lorna.'

'I'll get the drinks in,' Di announced. 'I'll see you over there in a minute. Oh, and Nikki?'

Her girlfriend looked back to her. 'What?'

'I meant it when I said you look gorgeous.'

And I can't explain, but there's something about the way you look tonight.

While she was waiting at the bar she felt a presence beside her. Glancing sideways, she relaxed. 'Hi.'

John Heaton nodded to the ten-pound note in her hand. 'I'll get these.'

'Should I be worried?' she questioned, popping the money back into her bag.

'What, of me?'

'Mmm. Of you.'

John smiled and waited until he'd finished his transaction with the barmaid before he queried, 'You're happy, aren't you?'

She took a sip of her pint then threw him a quizzical glance. 'Beg your pardon?'

He motioned for them to move away from the bar. 'I've been watching you these last couple of months.'

'That's one way to make a girl paranoid,' she replied then shrugged. 'So I'm happy. So what?'

'Well, nothing. I'm in favour of it. I wasn't too sure about your relationship with Nikki at first but…'

'John,' she interrupted, 'you don't have to do the brotherly act. I'm fine.'

'I know,' he answered. 'And you'll most likely tell me it's none of my business and I should keep my nose out of your personal life but I just wanted to tell you that I'm pleased for you. Is that allowed?'

She nodded. 'I suppose I can allow it.'

Takes my breath away, is that feeling I get about you deep inside.

Passing Nikki her drink, Di smiled at Jo and Lorna. 'Hiya.'

'What was the Super bending your ear about?' Jo questioned.

Diane rolled her eyes. 'Do you ever switch off from being a copper?'

Lorna shook her head. 'She doesn't.'

'Well, it's a mite better than this morbid woman who spends all her time talking about dead bodies!'

Diane glanced to Nikki who shook her head and muttered, 'Don't go there.'

Taking the good advice, she changed the subject. 'Have you seen the DI yet?'

'I'd be surprised if she shows up,' Lorna answered, sipping her wine.

'Oh, it's Samantha Nixon,' Jo retorted. 'She'll be here. Trust me.'

'I don't know,' Diane argued. 'The point of a Christmas party is to get bladdered, go home with some stranger, vomit over their carpet then pass out on the bathroom floor. Can't do that if you're four months pregnant.'

Nikki glanced to her. 'Thanks for that enlightening analysis.'

'Think you might be going home alone, Di,' Jo commented with a wicked smile.

Looking sideways to Nikki, she grinned. 'No chance.'

And I can't describe, but there's something about the way you look tonight.

When they were stood alone again twenty minutes later- Jo had dragged Lorna over to the bar where the view of Samantha and Jack was apparently best- Nikki queried quietly, 'So, what were you and John talking about?'

Since the truth was practically the same as a lie anyway in this case, she just shrugged. 'He reckons I'm happy. Think he's getting sentimental in his old age.'

'Must be,' Nikki agreed, allowing their hands to meet in the shadows. 'Looking forward to Christmas this year?'

'You wanna know the truth?' she questioned.


'I'm terrified,' she admitted with a slight smile. 'You, me, Steve, Robert, Liam and the girls all in one room? Recipe for disaster really, isn't it?'

'I dunno,' Nikki argued mildly. 'I'm warming to the idea.'

'Are you sure you didn't start drinking before we left the flat?'

Her lover glanced over at her. 'Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, but I reckon you secretly love the idea.'

'You're wrong,' she lied smoothly, knowing that Nikki didn't believe a word of it. Finishing her pint, she placed the glass down on a nearby table and questioned, 'Are you sure about this?'

Reaching out, Nikki pushed a stray hair clear of her face and tucked it behind her ear. 'Positive.'

'There'll be no going back,' Di warned.

'I know that.'

Takes my breath away, the way you look tonight.

The song had switched to a slow ballad. Leading Nikki out into the midst of the couples on the floor, who were all switching from the gyrating movements of the previous number to close romantic poses, she wrapped her arms around her lover's waist as they began slowly circling the floor. 'Close your eyes,' she instructed softly. Instinctively, she knew Nikki had done so and she tightened her grip as she rested her head against her shoulder. 'Just remember I love you. And remember I'm not going anywhere either, whatever happens.'

'Right back at you,' Nikki replied quietly, her nails scraping over the bare skin on her back.

'Have I told you how bloody gorgeous you look tonight?'

She felt Nikki smile. 'You might've mentioned it once or twice.'

'Can't wait to get you home. Want you all to myself again. Okay, Nikki,' she said suddenly, feeling her courage bubble to the surface as the alcohol she'd consumed finally hit her, 'look at me.'

Her lover did so, albeit half-reluctantly. 'Di, I…'

Not giving her time to conclude her doubts, Diane pressed her lips tenderly against her partner's, relieved as the response was positive. Nikki yielded completely into her arms, something she never tired of experiencing. Holding her tighter, Diane continued the kiss for more than a minute before she gently drew back and muttered, 'You keep your eyes closed.'

Nikki complied until the end of the dance. When all the couples were breaking apart, they managed to slip off the dance floor mostly undetected, although Diane recognised from a couple of glances tossed towards them that their little display of affection hadn't been in vain.

With that smile, you pull the deepest secrets from my heart.

Practically as soon as they were safely off to the side, Gina Gold appeared with a drink for them both. 'Thought you might need this.'

Nikki took hers and swallowed it almost in one gulp. 'Thanks.'

Diane looked to her nervously. 'Nikki?'

'I'm alright. Just keep 'em coming.'

Gina shook her head then disappeared back towards the bar muttering something about alcoholic sergeants. Meanwhile, they were approached by Jo, minus Lorna this time. 'You're brave, aren't you?'

Di shrugged. 'Or stupid.'

Jo shook her head. 'Nah, I reckon you did the right thing actually. People have been talking a bit, you know.'

Nikki looked up immediately. 'What?'

The detective smiled. 'Well, you don't have to worry about that anymore, do you?'

Reaching for Nikki's hand to calm her, Di asked, 'So what were they saying- just out of interest?'

'There was a lot of speculation about what happened with Doug: why you left him,' Jo elaborated with a glance at Nikki. 'Mickey was willing to bet you were the one having an affair with the DCI before Sam came clean.'

To Diane's surprise, Nikki burst out laughing. 'Sometimes the truth doesn't seem that bad.'

I'm speechless and I don't know where to start.

There were people examining them in their little corner but Diane didn't mind it as much as she'd thought she might. The six or seven drinks she'd had since arriving had worked their magic and she was too distracted with thinking about what she wanted when they finally returned to Nikki's flat to care what the gossips were muttering.

Grasping Nikki by the waist, she kissed her then murmured, 'I love being able to do that in public.'

Nikki let out a contented sigh. 'I do believe you managed to get me drunk, PC Noble.'

'See, I had my wicked intentions, after all.'

'And I went along with them.'

'Does kind of make you the guilty party,' Di conceded with a playful smile.

'Tell me something,' Nikki said after a few minutes of watching Samantha dancing with her head resting on Jack's shoulder. 'Are you happy?'

'Yeah,' she said with a sincere smile. 'I am. I'm closer to Robert now, more than I've ever been, work's great and you're… Here. Which is amazing.'

And I can't explain, but there's something about the way you look tonight.

'Nikki,' she said, watching a drunken Lorna drag a very reluctant Jo onto the dance floor, 'are you?'

When her lover opened her mouth to reply Smithy rudely interrupted with, 'So how long you two been hiding things from me then?'

Quickly switching track, much to Diane's dismay, Nikki answered, 'Oh, about a year.'

He raised an eyebrow. 'That long and you didn't tell me about it?'

'Well, I'd have thought a top-notch copper like yourself would've had it worked out already.'

Smithy grinned. 'I came to ask you whether you wanted another drink but now I don't reckon I'll bother.'

'Oh, go on,' Nikki said, throwing him an innocent glance. 'In fact, I'll give you a hand with them.'

Di watched them move off to the bar together then sighed and rested back against the wall. Usually it was her who neglected to answer intimate questions; not Nikki. Which led her to ancipate the reply wasn't as positive as she might've hoped. Still, tricky didn't start to explain the things were with Doug at present. They were getting along on, but Nikki was practically walking on eggshells around him. Probably due to her wanting desperately to see the girls at Christmas yet…

Takes my breath away, is that feeling I get about you deep inside.

'You and Nikki Wright. Didn't see that one coming.'

Refraining from rolling her eyes, she attempted an easy smile. 'Alright, Roger? Having a good time?'

'It's been entertaining,' he answered, leaning against the wall beside her.

'If you've got something to say, Roger; just say it.'

After a moment he shrugged. 'Okay. I think it's unprofessional behaviour, sleeping with your superior officer. And I'd like to know how your little display is going to go down with the top brass.'

Diane smiled, properly this time. 'Actually, Inspector Gold and Superintendent Heaton were informed… hmm, almost a year ago now. We wanted to keep things as professional as possible.'

'Then maybe one of you should transfer,' he suggested, glancing at her.

'Well, yeah, if we were the ones with the problem,' she replied. 'I do my job, Nikki does hers. And if you've noticed anything that says otherwise in the last year then please fill me in. Otherwise, keep your nose out.'

'If you didn't want people to know, why the big scene?'

'We don't mind people knowing, Roger. It's just them telling us what we should be doing that's not on.'

Conceding that with a swig of his drink, he then said, 'Good luck to you.'

And I can't describe, but there's something about the way you look tonight.

She'd hardly seen Nikki alone for the remainder of the night. First they'd been accosted by Reg offering his congratulations (and advice) then Beth, then even Jack Meadows had decided to stick his oar in. No more negativity though, which boded well. That was, of course, if they were actually on steady ground in the first place.

Saying goodbye to Jo while Lorna was getting her coat, she said, 'Can I ask you something?'

Jo shrugged. 'Sure.'

'When you first found out about me and Nikki… Did you think it stood a hope in hell of lasting?'

'Not really,' the detective answered with a small smile. 'Not at first anyhow. It's a bit late to be having your doubts, isn't it? A year down the line.'

'I'm not having doubts,' she replied with a shake of her head. 'I just…'

'Me neither,' muttered a voice behind her as an arm snaked round her waist. Jo made her getaway as Nikki added, 'I'm about ready to leave if you are.'

Di nodded, feeling a blush rising on her cheeks. 'Yeah.'

Takes my breath away, the way you look tonight.

'Don't be so insecure,' Nikki advised as they waited outside for the taxi.

'Haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about.'

'No, course not.' Lifting her hand up, Nikki turned her face gently and kissed her.

Di smiled as she drew back. 'Alright, maybe I've got an idea. But it's not important.'

The black cab pulled up and they bundled in quickly, grateful to be out of the biting December cold. After they'd driven for a few minutes, Nikki murmured, 'I am happy. If there's a problem it's just that half the time I feel guilty for it, that's all. You know, guilty for leaving the kids, guilty for what I did to Doug. But most of the time… Yeah, Di, I'm more than happy.'

Luckily, the darkness masked most of her reaction to that. Clearing her throat, Diane squeezed her hand. 'I think I just needed to hear it. I'm sorry.'

'Don't be,' Nikki replied, entwining their fingers. 'Just don't forget it.'

'So…' Diane said after a lengthy pause. 'Are you ready for facing work after tonight?'

'Nope,' her lover answered with a smile that was evident even in the darkness. 'But let's do it anyway.'

The way you look tonight.