Authors: pprbckwrtr & docwho2100
As I pull away from my parents' home I feel lighter than I have in a long time. I know we still have some things to work out, as mama wants time to adjust before telling daddy, but she took the news far better than I had ever imagined. Of course my imagination is what kept me from telling them in the first place, always think the worst that way you won't be disappointed. I don't want to be that person anymore, I want to be able to expect good things to happen.
My hand automatically goes to the medal around my neck, one good thing would be Nikki forgiving me. I don't know if I deserve it but I'm sure as hell going to fight for it. Nikki is everything I have ever, or could ever, want in a partner and if I don't get my head out of my ass I'm going to lose her; that is the last thing I can afford to let happen.
As I approach our home I spot Dan leaning against the back of his car, for a split second I consider driving past but I decide to bite the bullet and I pull the el camino to the curb. I take a deep breath and climb out of the car. "Hey Dan," I cringe at how completely un-casual that sounded.
"Been looking for you," he pushes off his car and moves toward me.
"It's okay Nora, I get that this morning was hard. We used to be partners, still are friends, you could have told me if it was..."
I hold up my hand to stop him. "I know Dan. You're right, I am sorry."
He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out an envelope. I try to control my breathing as he hands it to me. "It does have your name on it," he answers my unasked question.
I shake my head. He shouldn't be giving me this. "You took it out of evidence?" I ask as I try to hand it to him.
"No." He stuffs his hands in his pockets, refusing to take it back. "I found it on my desk."
I study him as I try to figure if he's telling me the truth. I look over the envelope, maybe Nikki found it. But then why wouldn't she just bring it home? Maybe because I really pissed her off. Would she really just leave it on his desk? I look up as I realize the back isn't sealed. "Did you read it?"
"Not my name on front," he answers matter-of-factly. "I figured the case is pretty solid," he winces and looks away.
"It's okay." We both know it's not really but what else can I say.
"I also know that if it's needed you'll do the right thing."
I can only nod at that; of course, do my job above everything else. "Right."
"Okay," he nods and starts to back toward his car. "You going to be in tomorrow?"
"Of course. I'll be fine." He looks unconvinced but smiles as he opens the door. "Thanks Dan."
I stand there watching as he drives down the street and out of view. After what feels like forever I clench the letter in my hand and head into the house. I find myself relieved that Nikki's not home yet; I study the envelop, torn between reading it now and waiting for her. I drag in a deep breath and pull out the letter, deciding that I need to be ready when Nikki and I talk, assuming she's still speaking to me.
Sorry is that too intimate, how about To Detective Delaney. I had considered To Whom it May Concern but then I realized that no one would be concerned about what happened to me, least of all you.
Since your main concern has always been your image and your career I thought I'd give you a nice easy case. I Carrie Ann Peterson murdered Erin Marie North. We had been arguing about our future for a few months now, with her eventually moving out to give us some space. After a month of living apart she decided that she preferred it while I did not. I wasn't intending to kill her or myself but without her in my life I had no reason to hang around. So there you have it, case closed.
Things could have been so different if only you'd come after me. You weren't supposed to just let me leave without fighting for what we had, but I guess we never had quite as much as I thought. Or maybe you were just happy to finally see me go, it certainly was easier for you that way.
I do hope you've finally changed because by the looks of your new girlfriend she's not the type to put up with your shit for too long.
"I've been looking for that all day." The sharp words pull me out of my daze and I jump to my feet. I don't know how long we stand there staring at each other but eventually Nikki tires of the game. "So you gonna tell me how it came into your possession?" she demands.
The urge to run that had me sneaking out of the station comes back full force but I stand my ground. "Dan brought it by," I answer as I hold the letter out to her.
She glares at me for a second before snatching it out of my hand. "Of course he did."
I can't stand having her anger directed at me. "I'm sorry," I say automatically and she frowns at me as she looks down at the note. "I have you know." She looks up and I'm relieved to see some of the anger draining. "Changed," I clarify. "I have changed. I swear I never meant to hurt you or..."
"Then why didn't you ever tell me?"
I shake my head as I try to gather my thoughts but when I hear her angry exhalation I realize she assumed I was putting her off again. I hold up my hand in what I hope is a reassuring gesture. "You know I haven't had many really serious relationships and I never told you about Carrie because, of the ones I have had, that was one I wasn't too proud of."
"From the tone of the letter I assume it didn't end well."
I shake my head. "When you talk about your past it's always happy and you talk about what they gave you." At her small smirk I try to lighten the mood. "And I don't mean your drawer of bling." My heart lifts slightly at the smile she tries to suppress. "It seems as though they all taught you something. Carrie only taught me fear. She was constantly pushing things to the edge, pushing me, and then she'd apologize and it would just start all over. We weren't together that long but I've let her manipulation influence how I act ever since."
"But Dan knew her, you took her to the station. And Bobby came by today because word was spreading. They all knew her...you took her to your parents'." I can hear the pain in her voice and I realize that last fact is what hurt her the most.
"As for my parents', Carrie and I were friends first so they already knew her, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't not take her. Even when I would go alone she'd just show up. Same with the station, I didn't bring her there."
"So that's why you've..."
"Yes. That's why I've treated you so poorly."
"Nora..." she starts to let me off the hook even if she does agree.
"I have, Nikki, but no more." I step forward but stop myself, not sure if she's open to contact. "I've been to my mother's; I told her about me."
"Us?" she asks hopefully.
"She knows but, no, I didn't actually tell her. I want to ease her into this and she wants to adjust before we tell my father."
"But you think she knows."
I smile as I think of some of mama's teasing comments. "Oh yeah, she knows and I think she's okay with it. She likes you but she knows the department rules about partners so she didn't say anything specific."
"But," she pauses and chews her lip, telling me she either doesn't know how to phrase her question or doesn't want the answer. "What about Dan?"
I take a deep breath, proud that I had already made this decision. "That's up to you. We won't be able to be partnered and one of us may have to transfer, which I am willing to do, but if you want to tell him then I'm fine with that. I owe you at least that much."
Her mouth hangs open, I don't think she was ready for that answer. "Really?"
"Wow." She stares at me for a second, clearly I've surprised her. "I don't know if I want to tell him. I want to be your partner...on and off the force."
My eyes slide closed as a tension suddenly leaves my body. "Good," I breathe.
"Actually though, I was wondering why, if your mother knew the rules, why she kept trying to set you two up."
"Oh that," I laugh. "She wanted him to knock me up so I would get off the streets." I laugh again as her mouth flops open again. "Yeah, I let her have it for that one."
"She worries about you." I watch as tears gather in her dark eyes and I realize we aren't just talking about mama.
"I know," I admit as I step forward. "And I'm sorry."
"I know." Her hand extends out toward my face only to pull back suddenly. "What does this mean to you?" she chokes.
"This." She holds up her hand and I see her St. Christopher dangling. Then she reaches inside my shirt and pulls out mine. "These."
"Everything." I answer honestly.
"Then why did she have one? It's how you knew it was her this morning. I'm sorry, Nora, I know I'm somewhat irrational but its bothered me all day wondering how many women wear your medal."
I reach out and take her hands in mine. "Only one." I pull her over to the couch and sit us down. "I didn't give her the medal." My mind drifts back to the last fight I'd had with Carrie...
"I bought this for you to apologize for what I did at your party," Carrie said as she handed Nora a small box.
"You didn't have to do that."
"I want you to have something to help keep you safe."
"St. Michael," Nora guessed as she opened the box. "Oh, a St. Christopher."
"Who's St. Michael." Carrie asked as her arms cross.
"Patron saint of cops..."
Carrie stepped forward and grabbed the medal out of Nora's hand. "I can never do anything right can I?"
"What? No, Carrie this is nice."
"Forget it Nora."
"She bought it for me shortly after my promotion, it was a peace offering but it led to another argument and she left me. I swear to you when we chose St. Christophers for each other I did not give Carrie a single thought; I wanted something different and special for just us. I knew it was her this morning because her name was on my caller id."
"The missed call last night?"
I smile as I remember the reason the call was missed. "Yes."
Nikki squeezes my hand. "I guess I should have let you answer it after all."
"No," I disagree. "You should and will always come first. Seeing her name this morning had her on my mind but I haven't thought about her in years."
"I'm sorry you had to be there."
"It's okay Nik. I'll admit it was a shock and I'm sad for her and pretty angry at her but in all honesty my reactions today had more to do with me and us. I was selfishly worried about how this letter would affect me and how this would affect us." I look down at our linked hands. "You didn't exactly react well and it had me scared."
"I'm sorry. You know I don't like surprises, unless of course if they include bling."
I snort at that comment. "Oh, you definitely are due for some bling." I look back up to find her smiling at me and I silently vow to keep that look on her face. "I love you. Only you. Always you."
A/N: Thanks for reading. I know we left a few questions but there is a sequel on the horizon.