A/N: So medie and I were talking about the awesomeness that is this show and then it turned into "What if Nikko was a girl?" So this is the start of Nikko as a girl. And it's all her fault (even if she blames me).
Finding Your Footing
There wasn't much in her life that Nicole Zond regretted. Things happened, including mistakes, and there really wasn't time for stupid worrying and moping. This philosophy usually served her well, as did the fact that she could usually chalk most of her stunts up to typical teenage behavior.
Suck it up and move on, a motto she lived by and expected others to adhere to. Not that there were a whole lot of people she worried about, at least not until recently.
And that was the real problem. Nicole wasn't used to feeling like this, like something was trying to climb out of her from the inside out, because she made a stupid mistake and hurt someone's feelings. She wasn't used to caring enough to regret anything, especially someone's emotional state.
"I think I was better off at boarding school," she muttered to herself, pushing her long brown hair off her shoulders and staring at her reflection captured in the glass casing.
She jumped slightly when a hand landed on her arm. She looked down at the hand and then up at Vincent, who was wearing his most annoying I-am-Zen expression.
"It's not too late to fix this," Vincent said.
Nicole shrugged. She hated how easily Vincent could read her.
Vincent squeezed her arm gently and added, "It's going to take time for the two of you to find your footing again, but Solomon's your family."
There was a lot Nicole wanted to say. That it was all a big misunderstanding and that she never meant to hurt her father's feelings, but those were both lies. She had meant it, at the time, had wanted to see the pain in his eyes and know that she was capable of inflicting it…but when she had time to calm down, a moment to breathe and think things through, she realized that it was a big mistake. Mostly, she wanted to tell Vincent that this whole thing was going to end badly, that 'finding her footing' with her father was exactly the wrong thing.
Not that she was sure that was true.
"You're both stubborn, but someone's got to make the first move, and I think it would mean a lot to your father if it was you."
She knew the ball was in her court. She knew that this was one of those do-it-now-or-regret-it-always moments, where her relationship with her father would forever be altered in some way or another.
"Having someone to count on isn't a bad thing, Nicky."
She grimaced and replied, "I'm beginning to think you're psychic, you know," she replied.
"You're easy to read."
She glared at him and said, "I am not easy to read. I'm aloof."
"Keep telling yourself that, kiddo," he replied with a light laugh in his voice. He pushed her toward the door and said, "You can't change the past, Nicky, but you do have some say in what happens next."
Before she could respond, Vincent disappeared.
She stared at the door to her father's office, unsure what to do or say. She knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to apologize and try to fix things with her father, but it scared the hell out of her.
The door opened and Nicole found herself face-to-face with her father. His face was indiscernible at first and slowly worry carved into his features. He reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder, asking, "Nicole? Are you okay? Has something happened?"
She shook her head, pried free of his grasp, and walked past her father into his office. She took a seat on the edge of the desk, unsure of what to do and how to approach this. She said, "No, I'm not okay. I'm completely un-okay and feeling really bad about earlier, which freaks me out."
Her father nodded, closed the door and moved toward her. He leaned against the desk so that they were shoulder-to-shoulder and said, "We're both figuring this out as we go, Nic, and we're gonna hit some road blocks. We're not going to agree on everything."
"I guess, but…" she paused and tilted her head to look at her father. This whole day had been too bizarre for her liking. "Nevermind."
Her father put his hand up to stop her before she could bolt and he said, "Don't do that. You can talk to me, Nicole."
"Since when," she replied. It was an automatic response and she wanted to take it back as soon as it slipped out. She shook her head and said, "See…this is just…even when I try to apologize, I mess it up."
He stepped in front of her and said, "It's okay."
"And stop being so nice. You're only making this harder."
"I'm completely lost now."
"I'm getting too attached to this place and it's not good."
"My life became infinitely easier when I realized it was better to depend solely on myself. No complications, no hurt feelings, no regrets. And now, you're changing the rules on me and I'm not sure what to make of that. Or what I'm supposed to do. And it weirds me out that I actually care that I might hurt your feelings."
Her father stared at her for a second and then laughed. He reached out and pulled her into a hug and said, "I think that's the most you've shared with me in years."
She actually managed to bite her tongue and not respond with a sarcastic comment. She stepped back from the hug and stared at her father, his bemused gaze never leaving hers. She said, "Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I like long talks about feelings."
"And the hug has only managed to weird me out even more," she replied.
"We're quite a pair."
"For the record, I'm not going anywhere, Nicole. I've spent years trying to protect you and I'm beginning to see what a mess I've made of things…I'm your father and you're stuck with me," he replied. He chucked her chin, something he used to do when she was little, and said, "I love you, kid."
She nodded, but looked at him warily. She asked, "Are we gonna hug again?"
"I was thinking of grabbing some dinner. Hungry?"
Nicole smiled and said, "I can always go for a pizza."
"You've had pizza three times this week."
She shrugged and said, "It's got all the important food groups covered. I'll even get broccoli as a topping to get my veggies in."
"Whatever you want."
As her father grinned at her, Nicole felt like things might be okay after all.