This is the start of an AU story that is so far off on timeline and storyline that it is only a "The District" fanfic because it is borrowing those characters. In order for this universe to work with another universe that I crossed these characters over into, the show needs to have taken place in the early/mid '90's. So, this story take place in about 1997, which means for this universe Nancy found out about her Huntington's disease in 1995 and Ella Farmer died about the same time. Also, Nancy never took the promotion to Detective in this series, but she does work closely with Debreno and Temple as needed.
"Chief? Debreno said you wanted to see me when I got in?"
Metro Police Chief Jack Mannion looked up from the report he was writing and smiled fondly at his former assist, "Yeah, how's Mrs. Nancy Brander today?"
Moving into the office, the redhead's gold-green eyes twinkled and her ruddy skin blushed across her high cheekbones, contrasting nicely with her blue uniform, "I'm good, Chief, really good."
"That's excellent. The honeymoon was good, then," the chief stood and rounded the desk. Jack Mannion was a throwback to a different generation, making suits that were last fashionable in 1952 look like something from Ermenegildo Zegna. He was a tall, lean man with an aire of authority and mischief about him. When his grey eyes sparkled, you could never be sure if you were being pulled into his office for punishment or inclusion in the latest scheme or punishment by inclusion in the latest scheme.
Nancy Brander, nee Parras, smiled as she smoothed a piece of her long red hair back into her tight French twist. She was slightly embarrassed talking with her boss about her honeymoon, but then he was the one that had arranged for her and her new husband to spend a week and a half away from their respective Metro Police duties and in the city of Nashville. "It was lovely. Thanks for getting Phil and I the time off together, sir."
"Not a problem, Nance," Mannion leaned towards her and kissed her cheek. "I couldn't let you two go on separate honeymoons. I'm just really sorry that we had to send Phil to a different precinct, but it wouldn't work to have you both here at headquarters."
Nancy nodded, "Honestly, when we decided to get married, we flipped a coin to see who would have to leave the force."
"Well," Nancy laughed softly, "Phil did, but he'd already talked to his cousin and was going to work with him in the exterminating business if one of us had to leave the force."
Mannion wrapped an arm around Nancy's shoulders as he led her out to her desk, "He loves you."
"Yes, sir. And I love him, very much."
Phil Brander loved his job… most days, but this wasn't one of those days. First day working out of a new precinct and his first call had to be a domestic. He hated domestics. And this? This wasn't just a domestic. No, this was a murder/suicide domestic, even worse.
Plus, now it meant that he had to deal with detectives. Phil wasn't a fan of detectives mainly because he so desperately wanted to be one, but, unfortunately, he always froze when taking the exam. Phil definitely wasn't dumb, but was had just never been good at the whole test taking thing. The detectives at headquarters had finally figured this out and had come to like and appreciate him, but these 'guys' didn't know him from Adam and he suspected that they were going to look down at him. Still, he'd do his job and do it well.
With his new partner as backup, Phil began to methodically clear the apartment, making sure that there wasn't another suspect. Not that the guy with the .45 in his mouth with no back to his head in the living left much doubt as to what happened.
Opening the door to what he assumed was a closet, Phil felt his breath catch. This tiny closet had been turned into a makeshift bedroom. There was a ratty pile of blankets for a bed and a couple of big flashlights for lamps. The few yard sale toys indicated that it was a child's 'room.'
"Aw, man, is that what I think it is," his partner, a green kid named, sadly, David Davison, asked from behind.
"Yeah," Phil shook his head. "Who'd do this to a kid?"
"Same type of guy would shot his wife in the leg and chest," David replied.
Phil swung to look at him, a light bulb practically appearing over Phil's head as his blue eyes lit up, "He shot her in the leg. You don't shoot to kill by aiming for the leg. He was after the kid and she protected her child. Start looking for the kid."
"Boy or girl?"
Phil looked back into the pathetic excuse of a bedroom. Most of the blankets were blue and there were a few battered match box cars on the floor. "Boy."
"Right," David scurried off to check out the rest of the tenement apartment, but Phil moved further into the closet.
Phil Brander was a big man with a fair sized girth. The tight squeeze of the closet made him feel slightly claustrophobic, but he carefully lowered himself next to the blankets. The pile seemed just a little too big, even though it was perfectly still. Slowly, he pulled back blanket after blanket until a mop of dirty, red hair emerged. Again, his heart constricted. The hair was the same shade as his wife's and the tear filled eyes that looked up at him were her shade as well.
"Mommy gots hurted," the little boy cried. "Don't let Daddy hurted me, policer man."
"I promise, he'll never hurt you again," Phil cautiously reached for the boy, intent on looking for any wounds, but suddenly his arms were filled with four year old, redheaded boy and his shirt was being dampened by salty baby tears.
"What," Kevin Debreno looked up from the reports he was reading to look across the room at his sometimes partner.
Nancy sighed, shook her head and punched a few keys on her computer. Standing to cross the work station where the shredder and printer/copier stood, she waved a stack of paper at Debreno, "For the last two months, I've been signing my name 'Nancy Brander' and having to redo reports cause it wasn't legally my name yet. Guess what I just signed this report?"
"Um, Nancy Parras," Debreno smiled as he leaned back to watch her angrily stuff the first report into the shredder. Lacing his hands behind his head, he asked, "So what is it like being married to Phil? I mean, I still can't see you guys together."
Debreno at least had the courtesy to look embarrassed, "Well, you got to admit, Phil certainly doesn't look your type. I mean… Well, Phil's a great guy, but…"
Nancy stared at the detective as he trailed off. Sure, Phil wasn't the most physically attractive guy (he's blond hair was dramatically thinning and he was larger than he should have been), but he was the kindest, funniest, most loving man that Nancy had ever meant. She really didn't care about his hair and when he held her, his size made her feel small, lady-like and like something to be protected. As a police officer, she didn't get to feel like that often and liked it.
Shaking her head, she headed off to her desk again. Kevin Debreno was never going to understand her relationship with Phil. Debreno wasn't gorgeous, but he was classically handsome. He was tall and thin with a Roman nose that had suffered a break at some point that gave it character and a square jaw with a slight cleft. He was dark haired and dark eyed with a slightly brooding personality that drove some women wild. The biggest problem was that Debreno knew he was good looking, knew he appealed to women, and he just came off smug sometimes. He'd let Nancy know on several occasions that he'd be more than happy to fall into bed with her, but she could never imagine him falling into love with her. Still, his pain over losing contact with his step-daughters after his divorce did prove that he was human and capable of love. That was probably why she felt so close to him. Outside of her husband, Police Officer Ray Cutter and Detective Kevin Debreno were probably her closest friends.
"You know you're an idiot sometimes, right, Debreno," she softened the rude remark with a smile.
Debreno smiled in return, "Only sometimes?"
"Mostly," she laughed. The phone ringing on her desk stopped any further discussion as she scoped up the receiver, "Officer Brander…. Are you okay?... Okay, I'll be there as soon as I can. Love you."
"Everything okay," Debreno asked as Nancy quickly gathered up her things.
Her head shook, "Phil's at the hospital. He… He found a little boy and the kid won't let anyone near him except Phil."
"So what does Phil think you can do to help him?"
Nancy shrugged, "I'm not sure, but I think he needs a hand. I need to talk to the Chief."
Nancy paused outside the exam room that the ER nurse had pointed her towards. In an odd and slightly ironic twist of fate, the room Phil and the little boy were in was the very room where she had learned of the disease that lurked normally silently within her, Huntington's. It was also in that room when Phil wrapped his strong arms around her and held her as she cried that she realized she returned the love he felt for her. That was two years previous and now they were married looking forward to a happy and hopefully long life together, even with the reality of what the Huntington's Disease would do to her.
Taking a breath, she pushed open the door and stepped into the room. The sight before her made her smile brilliantly. Phil was laying in the hospital bed with a little redheaded boy laying on his stomach, his head tucked under Phil's chin. They were watching the TV on the wall across from the bed and laughing at an old episode of "Dukes of Hazard."
"Got room in that bed for me," Nancy asked, pulling both their attentions away from the screen.
The little boy's eyes got huge and he let out a small whimper as he rolled over and buried his head in Phil's chest.
Phil smiled briefly at his wife before soothing a hand down the boy's head and back, "Johnny, it's okay, Johnny. This is my wife. She's a police officer, too, but she's just here to visit me and meet you."
Johnny sniffed as he peaked his head out of Phil's chest.
"Hi, Johnny," Nancy smiled as she slowly came near the bed. "I'm Nancy."
Johnny's mouth twitched several times before finally opening, "Hi. Daddy can no hurted me again."
"I know, sweetheart," Nancy could feel her heart breaking for the child.
"Oftifer Phil said you had hair like me and you do. Daddy hated my hairs cause they were red and his and Mommy were brown. I like your hairs," the little boy rolled back over, obviously accepting her presence in the room. "Dos you like 'Duck 'n Hazzward'? Theys gots a flying car."
Nancy giggled slightly, "I do like 'Dukes of Hazard.' Do you think I could watch with you and Officer Phil?"
"Sure, we's gots room," he tried to pat the bed, but couldn't reach from his position.
Toeing off her shoes, Nancy crawled carefully into the bed between the rail and Phil. Phil's arm wound around her and squeezed gently. She tucked her head on his shoulder and brought a hand up to run over Johnny's filthy hair, "Johnny, I bet if your hair was washed it would like even more like mine. Think we could wash it?"
"Sure," Johnny nodded. "Can wait til the show gone?"
"Of course, sweetheart."
Phil kissed her forehead, "I knew you could do it. I've been trying to get him to let the nurses bath him for three hours."
"Redheads stick together," Nancy whispered back. "We'll have to wash him, but we'll get a nurse and children services in to make sure everything is okay."
Phil nodded and wrapped his arm around them both a little tighter.
As the trio laid there watching the exploits of Bo and Luke Duke, similar thoughts raced through Nancy and Phil's minds. Thoughts about how, if it weren't for the Huntington's, this could be them cuddled with their child. But Huntington's was a genetic disease and they had long since determined that children were out of the question as they dreaded passing a chronic and fatal illness to their child.
Nancy could feel Phil's eyes on her as she towel dried her hair. A glance in the bathroom mirror proved that he was sitting on the edge of their bed watching her with a thoughtful expression. Hanging her towel over the rack for use in the morning, she made her way to Phil. As she neared him, he pulled her to him and kissed the skin on her stomach that she had scrubbed red and raw in the shower. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders as she laid her cheek against the top of his head.
It had been a horrible night. They had finally gotten Johnny to agree to a bath only to discover his small body covered in bruises and bug bites. At least twice Nancy had to actually leave the room as Phil and a nurse carefully washed him, but she had made it through washing his hair as Johnny had asked. They had stayed until he fell asleep and until the woman from Children Services told them that they needed to leave so that Johnny won't get too attached. The problem being that they had already grown attached themselves.
"Do you think he'll be okay," Nancy whispered into the quiet, darkened room.
Phil sighed, a wave of hot breath rippling across his wife's stomach, "I'm not sure. I called Detective Westing and he said that they've found absolutely no evidence of any family. The next door neighbor, who was a friend of the mother, told them that his parents had both grown up in the system and had no family."
"God," a tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek into Phil's hair. "That poor little boy. He's going to get tossed into the same system that failed his parents and there is nothing we can do about it."
"That's not necessarily true."
Phil pushed her back just enough so that he could look her in the eyes, "What would you think of becoming foster parents? Johnny's foster parents. I know we said we weren't going to have kids, but, Nance, think of all the love and care and advantages we could give him."
Nancy blinked a few times trying to clear the tears in her eyes, "Phil, we haven't even been married a month. Are you sure you want to bring a child into our home? It will bring a rather sudden end to the honeymoon period of our marriage."
"Nance," he reached up and gently wiped a fallen tear from her cheek, "our honeymoon will never be over. And, yes, I'm sure I want to do this. Holding the two of you tonight I felt more complete than I'd ever felt in my life. It was like all the pieces came together, like we were a family."
Nancy nodded. She had felt the same thing laying there stroking the boy's head and listening to the sound of Phil's heartbeat under her ear. "Okay," she whispered with a smile before kissing him with enough force that they toppled onto the bed.