A/N: Another little addition to the 'I'm Not In Love' universe. This was finished ages ago but I've only just managed to edit it! Oh, well! The song is 'Tell It Like It Is' by Cast.


Oh, here it comes again,

I feel the heat again.

'He could've raped you!'

'Well, he didn't, did he?

'Yeah, out of sheer luck more than anything else!' Diane growled as her lover turned back to the mirror and adjusted her collar. 'Nikki, what the hell are you doing?'

'Getting back to my job. You should try it.'

'Take the afternoon off! Inspector Gold'll understand. I'm pretty sure she'll insist on it!'

'No chance,' Nikki replied shortly, lifting a finger up to push a stray hair back behind her left ear. It didn't escape Diane's attention that the hand was trembling but as she saw Nikki's eyes flicker back and forth in the reflected image she consciously decided to ignore it.

Stepping forward, she reached out. 'Nikki…'

The sergeant flinched and pulled away. 'What?'

Di withdrew, burned. 'Go home. Please.'

Nikki glanced over, a hint of bitterness on her face. 'Do you think I can't do my job: is that it?'

'Course I'm not saying that…'

'Then what are you saying? Come on, Di, I'm interested!'

Part of her wanted to grab Nikki- try to calm her down- but the way she'd just recoiled at her touch put her off that idea a bit. She wanted to hold her; she needed to, but… Finally, she muttered, 'I'm not saying anything.'

'Good. Because I don't need it.'

'I know,' she said softly, trying to nod. 'I'd better get back to work, eh?'

Nikki didn't meet her eye, only turned back to the mirror. 'Might be an idea.'

She waited for just a second. After all, this was making it harder on Nikki obviously- her being there; caring. That wasn't how it was supposed to work either. She was supposed to be able to comfort her; that was how it went. Trying not to audibly growl again, she left the toilets.

Blaze to the very end,

Rise like the sun again.

When she stepped out into the corridor she didn't have a destination in mind. In truth, she wasn't even watching where she was going. That was why she didn't notice Jo Masters until the detective had literally placed two hands on her shoulders.

'Oi, are you alright?'

Shaking herself free of her thoughts as best she could she tried to smile. Then- mainly because it was Jo- she shook her head. 'No,' she admitted eventually.

'Come in here, come on,' her friend murmured, taking her arm and leading her into the nearby empty briefing room. Closing the door, she crossed her arms. 'I heard about Nikki.'

'Is it all round the station?' Diane queried steadily, attempting to keep her strained emotions from her voice.

'Yeah, pretty much. Everyone's worried to be honest.'

'Well, they're not the only ones,' she said bitterly then checked herself. 'Sorry, I shouldn't be…'

Jo cut her off with a brief shake of the head. 'How you feeling?'

Di pressed her index and middle fingers into the corner of her eyes then winced. 'I wanna kill him.'

'That answers my question about letting you anywhere near custody,' Jo replied, her tone serious. 'What happened exactly?'

'Exactly? I don't know.' Glancing around the briefing room, she focused on the pictures of drug smuggling suspects to calm herself. Then she explained, 'Nikki and Tony were called out to a suspected burglary. Two suspects. Both chased: then they separated. Nikki took one; Tony took the other. She thought she'd lost him in an alley. It turns out she hadn't. That's all I know. And that I got from Inspector Gold.'

Hearing the anger, Jo sighed. 'You mad at her or him?'

'Him!' she replied, honestly shocked by the question.

I'm on my feet but I can't seem to stand,

Got control but I ain't got command,

The things I need slip through my hand.

Jo was still watching her. She knew it and it made her uncomfortable. Sitting down heavily on a plastic chair, she pressed her fingers against her forehead. Feeling Jo sit beside her, she finally murmured, 'She can't keep doing this.'

'She's okay, Di.'

'Yeah, by chance! You know, you get someone a little quicker off the mark next time or she doesn't get to call for backup and then what?' If she'd have been in the room with anyone aside from Jo- or Nikki herself- she wouldn't have added, 'I'm scared I'm gonna lose her.'

'I know you are. But what's your solution?'

'I don't know!'

Jo paused. 'You don't know how far it went, do you?'

She swallowed and turned her face away. 'No. I need to. She won't let me anywhere near her at the moment.'

'Give her some time. Let her go home and sort it out in her own head first.'

Di chuckled derisively. 'She's not going home. She's finishing her shift.'

'Sounds like Nikki,' Jo answered. 'I'd probably do the same.'

Standing, she nodded. 'Yeah. Look, I need to get back to work. Inspector Gold'll kill me.'

Her friend just shrugged so she took that as the green light to leave the room. Not pausing for fear of Jo emerging, seeing her idle and proceeding to try and talk more sense into her, she turned down the corridor and then saw Nikki coming out of the toilets. Her partner lifted her head, saw her and promptly turned in the opposite direction. What pressed itself into Diane's mind was the image of Nikki's tear-stained face and the signs of a botched cover-up operation. Maybe no one else would spot it. After all, they'd never seen Nikki break down before. But she had and, bizarre as it sounded, she'd enjoyed the fact that it was in her arms. It showed trust, a sense of dependency that she surprisingly cherished. What she felt now Nikki wouldn't even cry in front of her wasn't worth mentioning.

So I tell it like it is, always hit or miss,

Tell me to my face, like it really is,

Make it plain to see, straight from you to me.

Having been informed by Gina Gold that Nikki had left half an hour before her shift ended Diane had felt at a little of a loss. They were supposed to be having dinner tonight. That was, of course, off but she had expected to… Well, she'd expected to see Nikki. Instead, she was so obviously being avoided. With the realisation that she couldn't leave it be, she set off to Nikki's flat.

She'd had a key made ages ago, under Nikki's advice. It had felt like a giant step at the time, now it just felt like a blessing. She pulled out the key as she reached the door but stopped short as she saw a figure leaning against it. 'Liam?'

It was a mark of how mature he was becoming that he didn't question her presence there. He just got to his feet. 'The telly's on but she's not answering the door.'

Diane nodded. 'Why are you here? Not that you shouldn't be but…'

'Rebecca left a school letter here. She needs it for tomorrow. What's going on?'

'Bad day at work,' she said truthfully.

'Is Nikki alright?' he asked quietly. He'd evidently had experience of this in the past. Which, naturally, he would have, considering Nikki's propensity to throw caution to the wind and…

'I think she will be,' she finally answered. 'Tell you what; I'll go in and get the letter. Not that she wouldn't love to see you but…'

'It's alright. I get it.'

Glancing up at his tone, she frowned. 'You okay, Liam?'

'You're asking?'

This was part of the truce they seemed to have formed. They never passed the pleasantry stage of conversation. 'Nope,' she muttered. 'I'll get that letter.'

Oh, here it comes again, I feel the need again,

To burn like a flame again, burn like a hurricane.

She managed to locate the envelope in the kitchen on top of the microwave and delivered it to Liam without Nikki registering her presence within the flat. Not surprising really, given the volume of the television and the fact that when Di looked into the living room she saw her lover staring deep into space. After assuring Liam everything was alright, she closed the front door, steadied herself and approached the living room, knocking when she entered as rather an afterthought.

Nikki turned sharply then relaxed. 'Oh, it's you.'

Going into the room Di sat down on the sofa, trying to ignore the fact that Nikki edged away from her slightly. 'I was worried.'

'No need.'

'You can't just say that and expect me to accept it.'

'Why not?' Nikki queried icily. 'You would.'

That stung but she wasn't going to let it have the desired effect. Turning her attentions to the television, she asked, 'What you watching?'

'Erm…' Nikki's brow furrowed then she admitted, 'Haven't got a clue.'

'You want a drink?' Di questioned after a pause.

Nikki nodded and then as she stood to move, Di felt a hand grasp her own. Looking down at it, she followed the arm all the way up the body until her eyes met Nikki's. Seeing the pain there she sat immediately back down and allowed her lover to move into her arms. She exhaled heavily as she pressed her chin into Nikki's shoulder and felt her lover's own breath catch as she fought back some tears.

'I'm sorry,' Nikki murmured.

'Don't you dare apologise. You hear me?'

And when I look I just don't recognise,

It's all off course and bound to collide,

The truth I hear is a truth full of lies.

One glass of wine later and Nikki looked slightly better. Di still hadn't lost the haunting image of her exiting the toilets earlier that day, and each time she looked to her it kept repeating in her brain so she wasn't sure she could judge on any improvement. Still… Nikki was now holding her hand, and that was a vast difference.

'Are you okay?' she asked finally, recognising it was inadequate but not knowing quite what else to say.

Nikki nodded. 'I'm better now.'

Somehow Di didn't believe her. There was something in the way her knuckles whitened at any movement which convinced her Nikki was being overly optimistic. But, again, how was she supposed to argue with that when her lover had been spot on half an hour earlier? If it was her in this situation she wouldn't talk about it with anyone, probably not even Nikki. And part of that would be her just wanting to forget it but… No, there was a 'but'. She'd be able to recognise that Nikki would be going out of her mind and she'd talk. Well, she'd try.

'Nikki… I don't…' Stammering over what she wanted to say, she raised her eyes and exhaled as she caught sight of her partner's drawn face. So she changed tack. 'How'd it go with Inspector Gold earlier?'

'Oh, erm…' With obvious difficulty, and possibly because she knew that wasn't what Diane had been intending to say, Nikki shrugged and said, 'I just told her I was working the shift, that's all.'

'She just accepted that, did she?'

'Yep.'

Di nodded. 'Alright.' Swallowing, she quickly added, 'I need to know what happened.'

Nikki visibly flinched and withdrew her hand. 'I'd rather not…'

'I know,' she interrupted. 'I know all that. But…' Pausing, she tried to entwine their fingers again but found herself rebuffed. 'Nikki, please!'

So I tell it like it is, always hit or miss,

Tell me to my face, like it really is,

Make it plain to see, straight from you to me.

Nikki hadn't spoken for what felt like forever and what was more likely five minutes. The gnawing at Diane's stomach had increased tenfold during that time and now she felt like she just had to stand; she had to feel like she was doing something. Moving over to the window, she twitched back the curtain. There was a pedestrian walking on the opposite side of the street. She watched him disappear out of view then let the curtain drop back. But she didn't turn around.

'I need to know what happened,' she repeated, steadying herself by focusing on the deep red of the curtain on front of her eyes. 'I need to know because I've got stuff going round in my head and… Well, it might be true. It might not be. And I'm sorry if you don't wanna discuss it and, yeah, you're right, I'd talk about it in a few years maybe. I'm being selfish. I know that but…' Struggling to explain herself, she just trailed off and shook her head.

She hadn't heard Nikki approach her so it was a shock when a hand tentatively rested on her arm. She spun on her heel and looked at her lover squarely.

Nikki stared her out resolutely. 'If I… That's it. Never again.'

'Understood.'

'I'll need another drink.'

I'm on my feet but I can't seem to stand,

Got control but ain't got command,

The things I need slip through my hand.

Diane handed over the refilled glass then took a seat a good few inches away from Nikki on the sofa.

After a lengthy swallow, Nikki placed the glass on the coffee table and settled by the door with her back turned.

'We were on a shout; me and Tony. They ran; there was no reason not to split up. The one I was chasing… All I could see of him was the back of his head. Shaved, but he had a tattoo just under where his hairline would've been. A red rabbit.'

Di watched her back as she paused then continued.

'He turned a corner. I followed him. I honestly thought I'd lost him. I radioed that in then I… I turned around and he was stood right there in front of me. He had hold of a knife. I couldn't get to my asp or my radio. He came right at me before I could say anything, before I could think.'

Though her fingers itched to move over the room, Di refrained. This needed to happen.

Finally, Nikki continued, 'I was on the ground. He was above me; on top of me. He had me pinned with his right hand. He stuck the knife between his teeth. Then he smashed my radio on the floor and he… I don't know how he did it. He got my belt off. Anyway,' she continued suddenly, 'I bit him, managed to fight him off. End of story.'

Unable to help it, Diane let out her breath. Giving in to her urge to touch Nikki, she approached and carefully pressed her body into Nikki's while wrapping both arms around the stiff waist. 'Thank you.'

'I'm alright,' Nikki insisted, turning around into a proper embrace.

'I know you are,' Di answered, a little surer of herself now. 'I just needed to know, that's all.'

'I've written my statement. He's admitted to it.'

'End of story,' Diane said firmly.

Nikki nodded. 'Yeah. End of story.'

So I tell it like it is, always hit and miss,

Tell me to my face, like it really is.