A/N: This is it, the final chapter. It's kinda short and may not answer all your burning questions but if it did there wouldn't be a need for a sequel.
Dan walked into Nora's room to find her parents flanking the bed. "You're looking better." He held up the flowers he brought as three heads turned his way. "From the unit."
Nora's mother jumped up to take the flowers. "These are beautiful. I'll put them with the others," she said as she moved across the room and added the new vase to the others lining the windowsill. She then stepped back toward the bed and set a hand on her husband's shoulder, "why don't we let these two talk."
Nora watched as her parents walked toward the door. "Not too long though," Mrs. Delaney said pointedly before she stepped out.
"Yes ma'am," Dan and Nora replied in unison.
"Thanks," Nora said with a smile.
Dan lowered himself into the chair vacated by Mr. Delaney. "I didn't do anything," he said, confused.
"You got my parents to leave," Nora sighed as she laid her head back on her pillow. "That's pretty good in my book."
"What do you expect? You did almost die."
"Don't remind me." Nora opened her eyes to look at him. "About that. Have you found the bastard yet?"
"Nikki and Agent Vargas are on his trail as we speak," Dan informed her. "I should actually get back soon in case they bring him in."
Nora pushed up in her bed, excited by the news. "Do you have a team backing them? Or are the Feds taking the lead?"
Dan held up a hand to calm Nora's concern. "Don't worry about them, they work pretty well together. I think Nikki actually likes having a partner who's not always kicking down doors," he teased.
"I have to be the one to do that so she won't break a heel," Nora joked, although she didn't much like the idea of Nikki getting along so well with the agent.
"Seriously though," Dan continued. "I don't expect much trouble on the arrest."
"It turned out to be the priest. We got his prints off the syringe he left."
Nora's brow creased into a V as she puzzled over who Dan meant. "Am I supposed to know what you are talking about?"
Dan studied her for a second, contemplating how much she was ready to hear. He had already decided not to mention that the FBI was in New Orleans to track a possible ricin attack, the detective's grudge was large enough already. He figured that since she was partially responsible for the information that led to Father Timothy she deserved to hear at least some of it, he just hoped she didn't ask about the syringe. "How much do you remember?"
Nora rubbed her forehead as she thought, "not much. And my parents won't tell me anything."
"Do you remember the priest that was at the port the night of the bombing?"
"Yeah," she nodded as the pieces started to come back. "I saw a picture of him somewhere."
"He was involved with a charity in Africa. The Franklins donated some medicines that were responsible for the deaths of children. He came here to get retribution."
"Well he missed his target," Nora said bitterly as her head dropped back to her pillow. She turned her head to look at Dan. "So Nikki worked well with Vargas?" She tried to keep her tone light and her jealousy out of her voice.
"Oh yeah," he chuckled as he stood up. "I wouldn't be surprised if you lose a partner and gain another Fed to hate," he laughed as he move to the door. "Get some rest. I'll fill you in once the case is done."
"Thanks," she replied with a forced smile. Nora laid her head back on the pillow, she knew her parents would be back soon so she took a few moments to enjoy the silence. She thought of Nikki transferring to the FBI and had to admit to herself that the idea wasn't shocking. Nikki would make a great fed and Nora didn't hate the idea of actually having one she could get along with. What would that mean for them though. It could be good for their relationship, distance making a fonder heart and all, but then Nora worried that the distance would have Nikki realizing how much more there was for her out there.
Before Nora's mind could go on down that dark path, her parents re-entered the room and she pasted her fake smile back on and continued the conversation Dan had interrupted earlier.
One thing Nikki always appreciated about being a cop was the fact that she could get in anywhere with a quick flash of her badge. There were occasions where she felt guilty about using it, such as getting faster service a her favorite restaurant but there were other times when she had no misgivings about forcing her authority. Such as this last week when she would stroll into the hospital after visiting hours, tonight though, she was determined to actually make it into Nora's room.
Silently Nikki pushed open the door to her partner's room, as she stepped inside she flashed back to the first night when Nora was full of tubes and wires and Nikki had feared the worst. Tonight though as she stood in the dim light of the room she was relieved to see that her partner looked much more alive. She quietly moved to the chair next to the bed and sat down, she reached out taking Nora's hand firmly between her own and brought it to her lips. She leaned forward to rest her elbows on the bed, still holding onto Nora like a lifeline, she laid her cheek against their combined hands and watched her lover sleep.
"Nik?" Nora's soft whisper pulled Nikki from her prayer.
"Hey darlin'," Nikki replied as she wiped a hand across her moist eyes. "How are you feeling?"
Nora forced her eyes open. "Great now that you're here," she said as she pulled Nikki's hand to her lips. "Missed you."
Nikki leaned back from the bed, attempting to avoid Nora's gaze. "I know, me too. I just..."
"Hey," Nora cut in as she released Nikki's hand. "It's okay. Catching this guy was more important than sitting here holding my hand. I get it Nikki, it's the job. If our roles had been reversed I would have been the one hunting the bastard."
Nikki peered through her bangs at her all too forgiving lover, she tried to force a reassuring smile. "I was really scared," she finally confessed.
Nora could tell that this latest incident had really shaken her partner. She wanted to wrap her arms around Nikki and promise her that it would never happen again but she knew that with their jobs it would be an empty promise. "If our time together has taught me anything," she began as pushed herself up a little. "It would be to avoid doing something that might piss you off."
A sad chuckle escaped Nikki's lips. "Yes, dying would definitely put a crimp in my day."
Nora smiled, "I will be here as long as you want me."
Nikki furrowed her eyebrows as she puzzled over Nora's statement. "I want you here forever."
Those were the words Nora longed to hear, but she couldn't help the doubts that still lingered. "Dan said that you worked really well with Agent Whatshername."
Picking up on the subject change Nikki smiled. "We got the job done."
"So I heard. Dan said I may even get myself another fed to knock heads with." Nora tried to keep her voice light but the look Nikki gave her told her that some resentment may have spilled out. "You know, with your record and your father's connections you could get into the Bureau without any problem."
"I'm not leaving the department." Nikki shook her head, she knew Nora wasn't just talking about her career. "And I'm not leaving you."
"I wouldn't blame you if you did." Nora looked away when she felt the tears prickling at her eyes. "I'll be honest with you, it hurt not having you here, but I know it was mostly my fault."
"Nora..." Nikki said as an exasperated sigh. When Nora didn't turn back Nikki reached out to lightly trace Nora's chin with her fingertips, "hey." Finally the blonde turned back to look at her. "I shouldn't have stayed away this week. I was scared and stupid," Nikki told her with a wry smile. "But I love you Nora Delaney."
"And I love you. I've had a lot of time to think and I realized how selfish I've been. Especially after listening to mama going on about how this incident should help me get my life in order. Well, I think that my life is in order and I think it's time that I told her that. You deserve more than I have given you but if you'll forgive me I promise to make it up to you."
Nikki's heart threatened to pound out of her chest at Nora's soft words. "You give me everything I need so there is nothing to forgive."
Nora allowed herself a moment to get lost in the dark brown eyes before she slid over in the bed and patted the empty space with her hand.
Nikki's eyes widened and she glanced quickly toward the door. "Is that a good idea."
"I've missed holding you."
Nikki smiled bashfully, she wanted nothing more than to climb up onto the bed so after two seconds of contemplation she gave in to her urge. She kicked off her shoes and settled in next to her lover. She gave Nora a quick kiss before she nestled her head onto Nora's shoulder and threw an arm possessively across Nora's waist.
Nora, in turn, wrapped her arm around Nikki's back to pull her in closer. She reached over with her free hand threading her fingers through the thick brown hair. She buried her nose into the top of Nikki's head and took in a deep breath of her lover's scent before she laid a kiss there. "I love you."
"You are the best thing in my life," Nikki whispered, echoing the words that not long ago she had feared would be Nora's last.
A/N: Just a personal note: I've never written a story with anyone else before and I wasn't quite sure how it would go but I must admit I had a lot of fun.
It's nice to have someone else to pick up the slack when your ideas are lacking.
So thank you doc for allowing me to help on this one and for not telling me to pound sand once you realized what my help actually meant. I'm looking forward to the next one (wait, did I actually admit that).
And thanks for everyone who read!