Ok this is my first attempt at NR fic. I have several half formed ideas running around my head but thanks to the season finally I got enough inspiration to finish one of them and this is the result.
This fic has now been edited all thanks to my fantastic beta dimplz. Thanks a bunch.
Please review! *Grin*
A Shot it the Dark
It was the Hawks annual Pre Season Gala, and the entire team was living it up like there was no tomorrow. That was most likely because as of Monday morning they would all return to non-stop practices and for most of them the party really would be over. TK being the obvious exception. For Terrence King the party would never be over but Dani had to give him credit. For the most part TK had abandoned his old ways and settled down as a one woman man. A solid touch down for personal growth in her book.
Dani smiled proudly as she watched the team, whom she had come to think of as her second family, enjoy themselves so much. The morale was high due to the recent announcement of the Hawks safety from the epic Pittman vs. Pittman custody battle of last year. The Hawks were once again the sole property of Marshall Pittman, and all thanks to Nico she was sure. She didn't know all the details, but it was common knowledge that Gabriella Pittman had been sent packing and Nico was still the unofficial head of security and their resident fixer of all situations big and epic.
That thought brought a smile to Dani's face, but it was short lived as she caught site of a certain couple grinding across the room oblivious to the attention their little show was attracting. Matt was dancing, if you could even call it that, with his latest floozy, oops she meant girlfriend, no more than twenty feet away from her current position. It was hardly appropriate to be that handsy in public; some things are best left to the bedroom. Never mind the fact that they had only broken up a few months ago. Was it really too much too ask that Matt avoid flaunting his new conquest in her face until she had found someone new? Yes, she knew she was starting to sound like Lindsay, the result of living with two teenagers she was sure.
After the playoffs and Terrence's shooting, which thankfully had not been life threatening, after a few months of physical therapy and a few more months of time spent on her couch. He was better then ever and Matt and Dani jumped head first into a relationship. Dani thought that she really should know better at this point in her life than to jump into something with out taking the time to test the waters.
Everything had been perfect in the beginning, as it so often was. The chemistry that had brought them together over a year ago had ignited anew, leaving Dani feeling giddy but a little out of breath. Matt was charming, witty to a fault, and surprisingly good with her children. Her mother and friends fawned over him constantly.
It was only after the fact that her mother decided to confide in her that she thought Dani had rushed into things a bit to quickly with Matt after the divorce. Loads of help that little gem had been.
They seemed like the perfect match but as time went on Dani's feelings toward Matt cooled, until the fire that had burned so brightly before was all but extinguished. Dani woke up one morning only to realize that as much as she cared for Matt, she wasn't in love with him any more. It was a hard thing to face but Dani wasn't entirely sure she had ever been in love with Matt or if it had just been the idea of him. Either way she couldn't see continuing in this relationship, and reluctantly Matt had agreed.
'So why is it so hard to see him with someone else?' She wondered morosely.
Moments like these Dani would have given anything to have her best friend Jeanette by her side. They still talked and Ray Jay had even set it up so that they could Skype but it wasn't the same. Jeanette would have known just what to say to ease Dani's troubled mind. She would have assured her that she had made the right decision and then get them another glass of bubbly to toast the single life, however Jeanette was in Barcelona, living her own fairy tail while Dani was here alone, and completely pathetically miserable.
Feeling depressed Dani glanced back at Matt only to catch them going at it again. Looking away in disgust she downed the rest of her glass in one gulp. Now where was that nice waiter when you needed him?
"If you squint any harder you may just succeed in burning a hole in Donnally's head."
Startled out of her thoughts Dani turned to glare at her sudden companion. She truly hated it when he appeared out of nowhere.
"Nico, didn't your mother ever teach you that it's not polite to sneak up on people?" She scolded lightly.
"She may have skipped that lesson I'm afraid." With his trade mark half smile in place he offered Dani one of the glasses of Champagne he came equipped with.
She nodded her thanks, her attention once again drawn to her ex and his date. They were currently engaged in what seemed to be a riveting conversation. Their heads were bent together and their hands touched after every other word. A completely inappropriate display in Dani's unbiased opinion.
"Shall I dispose of him Doctor?" Nico's smooth voice once again interrupted, an effective reminder of just how pathetic her musings really were.
She turned to regard Nico, laughter falling from her painted lips in unexpected mirth. During the last year she and Nico had forged a tentative friendship. Nico had confided in her regarding his affair with Gabriella Pittman and she intern offered him her unconditional acceptance. They had a bit of a game going, a push and pull to see how much information she could extract out of him and how well he could evade her questions. So far he was winning.
"Do I even want to know what that would entail?"
"Probably not." He shrugged nonchalantly taking a sip from his glass.
Dani resisted the urge to roll her eyes at his attics.
"Thank you for the offer Nico, but this is not a situation that needs 'fixing'." She made quotation marks in the air for emphasis. "Matt is free to see whomever he chooses."
As much as Dani appreciated Nico's semi serious offer, she had made her own decision and now she would have to live with it.
"Maybe not," he continued after a minute, looking first at Matt and then fixing Dani with a penetrating stare. "But you haven't taken your eyes off of them for most of the evening. This is a celebration. You're meant to dance, mingle, and most of all relax. Standing over here alone is hardly considered sociable."
This time Dani did roll her eyes. Hypocrisy thy name is Nico, but she was grinning despite herself.
"That's rich coming from you Nico." She snorted, but he didn't seem to take offense. "So we have already established why I'm here alone. What about you Nico? No date tonight?" Dani inquired casually in an attempt to change the subject.
"As I previously mentioned, some birds prefer to fly solo."
"Or some birds just think they prefer to fly solo." She challenged. "You can't tell me that after everything you've been through you don't get lonely Nico."
He furrowed his brow slightly and regarded her thoughtfully for a time. Dani had to stomp down the urge to fidget under the weight of his midnight stare. For a second she thought he was going to say something but then he turned away motioning across the room to where Matt and his date were still wrapped in each others arms. Redirection it is then. Another point for Nico, the master of avoidance.
"Is that why you're glaring daggers at Donnally, because you're lonely Dani? I was under the impression that the two of you split amicably."
"We did." She conceded with a sigh. "It's just moments like these I'm reminded of how nice it was to have someone to talk to and even dance with if the mood struck. No Nico, I don't like being alone, and although that was a masterful attempt at redirection, I don't think you like being alone either."
Suddenly feeling deflated, she wrapped her arms around her middle protectively as silence descended over them. She could feel his eyes on her, studying her, but she kept her gaze fixed on the crowd. The music changed from the pounding beat of the last hour to something softer, more melodic. Dani smiled fondly seeing TK escorted Vivica to the dance floor.
Daring a glance at Nico, she was caught by a particular look clouding his coffee colored eyes. It was not a look she recognized but it left her feeling strange. Before Dani had a chance to consider it's meaning, it was gone.
A waiter breezed past them, Nico stopped him with a causal word and handed the young man their empty glasses. Dani didn't hide her confusion as Nico thanked the waiter before moving toward the now crowded dance floor.
Oh my, could he…
"Would you allow me the honor of a dance, my lady?" He asked gallantly, a spark of amusement dancing behind his eyes when he turned back to offer his hand to her. For a second Dani was sure her heart skipped a beat. Nico Careles was asking her to dance? She must have had one too many glasses of Champagne tonight because she was obviously hallucinating.
Shock clearly written across her face she excepted his out stretched hand and allowed herself to be led out onto the floor.
Suddenly time stilled and Dani was back in junior high. She didn't know what to do with her hands and all she could think about was not stepping on his toes.
"Relax, Dani." He breathed into her ear as if sensing her chaotic thoughts. The warm puffs of air leaving a trail of gooseflesh behind. He pulled her close but still leaving enough room between them to be considered appropriate for a dance between friends.
Dani took a deep breath to steady her nerves and let her body fall into the easy rhythm he set.
Once her heart resumed it's normal rhythm she took the opportunity to admire Nico in all of his impeccably dressed goodness while his attention was directed elsewhere.
He may drive her mad more often than not but he was unquestionably one of the most attractive men she had ever met. Dark and mysterious without a doubt, but it was his quiet confidence that made him so appealing in Dani's eyes. Nico was a man that knew what he was capable of without feeling the need to prove himself. That was a very attractive quality in a man.
Noticing her silent appraisal he quirked one heavy brow in question. She resisted the flush of blood to her cheeks at being caught red handed but she held her head high and met his gaze levelly.
"Sorry, I was just admiring the view." Was her saucy reply. "You're looking quite dashing this evening Mr. Careles." She complemented giving him another once over for good measure.
In return he grinned down at her with a look that could only be described as 'wolfish' before allowing his own dark gaze to sweep over her satin covered curves.
All at once the temperature in the room jumped ten degrees
"Thank you Dani, and may I say you are a vision in sapphire?"
He was all but leering at her now and oddly Dani couldn't find it in herself to mind.
Lindsay had helped her choose the dress, claiming that the deep blue and dangerously low back would have Matt at his knees. Not that that had been her goal for the night. But with Nico's eyes taking her in, Dani sent a silent thank you to her daughter and her wardrobe intervention.
Still caught up in this new turn of events, Dani was spun out into the crowd and pulled back so that her bare back rested against Nico's broad chest before her mind could come up with a suitable comeback.
"Where did you learn to dance?" She inquired between giggles while he continued to spin her around the dance floor.
"My mother thought it would help me impress the girls in school." Pearls of laughter rang out over the music at the idea of a young Nico being forced to take dancing lessons against his will.
The combination of this new information and the excitement of dancing with such an experienced partner left Dani feeling breathless and all together, giddy. With another heady spin Nico pulled her back to fit their bodies together in perfect alignment. He pulled her close and adopted a more traditional rhythm. In response, Dani's laughter died down and was replaced by a content smile.
Her mind was racing a mile a second trying to make sense of this evening and the emotions Nico's touch was invoking in her, but in the end she opted to ignored them all.
They swayed softly to the music for what could have been an eternity. The feel of his capable, impossibly warm hands settling on her lower back, his thumbs lightly running over her bare skin where her dress ended had a sigh bubbling from her lips unnoticed. Resting her head over his heart she listened to the steady beat, the steady thumb matching to her own heart beat. At some point Nico moved to lay is head against her's and pulled their joined hands to rest against his chest.
The unlikely couple were too lost in one another to notice that they had gained the attention of half the room. Matt wore an unbecoming frown, while TK watched on grinning proudly at the picture they made. Nico's dark form wrapped protectively around Dani's smaller frame while she stood curled snugly in his embrace.
They may not see what he was seeing yet, but they would figure it out soon enough. Of that Terrence King was sure.
The drive home was spent in comfortable silence. Nico had offered to take Dani home seeing as she had arrived via taxi. Dani had anticipated consuming copious amounts of alcohol to get through this evening, but she hadn't counted on Nico's half time intervention.
Dani was feeling a bit like Cinderella, only instead of an enchanted horse drawn carriage that resembled a pumpkin she was riding in a sleek black Lincoln. There was no Fairy Godmother, but Nico had come to her rescue so he counted in her half inebriated state.
She giggled under her breath while Nico wordlessly walked her to her front door as visions of Nico in a blue sparkly dress danced through her mind.
Oh my, maybe she shouldn't have had that last glass.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing." She replied trying to compose herself.
One look at Nico's face was all it took for thoughts of pumpkins and singing mice to vanish from her mind in a cloud of fairy dust.
That particular look from earlier was back, but now it left heat pooling in her stomach. Suddenly Dani was hyper aware of how close they were standing and the heat radiating off his body was almost unbearable in the cool morning air. A heady mix of pine, mint, and something distinctly Nico invaded her senses leaving her feeling dazed.
She shook her head trying to clear her thoughts before meeting his gaze again. "Thank you for driving me home Nico. You know, you can be quite the gentlemen when you're not trying to be all cloak and dagger about everything."
Nico's eyes cleared at her words, lightening from their usual coffee color to a rich hazel when he smiled down at her. He scratched his temple in a familiar gesture of discomfort before his hands disappeared into his pants pockets.b
"Well I'm glad I could provide a suitable replacement for the evening. You deserved to have a good time tonight Dani."
His words struck Dani like a physical blow. "Nico, you're no one's replacement." She whispered hoping her eyes conveyed what she couldn't say out loud. He was not a stand in for Marshall Pittman or Matt, not to her.
He held her eyes for a second before looking away. Tears welled behind her eyes at his avoidance. This was not the Nico she knew, not her Nico. For the first time since he had come to her all those months ago to confide in her about his ill fated relationship with Gabriella Pittmen, did she feel hate for the woman that had damaged Nico so. She tried to be understanding of the woman's motives but this could not be forgiven.
Dani laid her hand against his cheek to gain his attention. His jaw twitched just a bit, but he didn't pull away from her touch. A positive sign.
"Not to me Nico, never to me. There is not a day that goes by that I'm not grateful to have you in my life."
He moved his hand to trap hers against his skin seeking the comfort he had so long denied himself, comfort she was happy to provide. Dani went willingly when his free hand cupped the back of her neck, pulling her closer. Temple to temple they stood simply breathing the same air.
"Thank you Dani…" Words ghosted over her face and into her soul. Dani made to speak but he placed a finger over her lips stilling whatever inadequate words she would have uttered.
They were frozen in time until he leaned forward replacing his finger with his lips.
There were no fireworks exploding up above, sparks going off behind her closed eye lids or any other cliche at the touch of his lips against hers. Just the feeling of warm honey spreading from her lips down to her toes. This was not a kiss designed to inflame, but a kiss to seal a promise.
Neither one of them was ready for a relationship but there was no denying that there was something building between them. A spark had been lit tonight and with a little time and attention they might just have the makings for their very own Happily Ever After.
I've never opened up to anyone
So hard to hold back when I'm holding you in my arms
We don't need to rush this
Let's just take it slow
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
No I don't want to mess this thing up
I don't want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I've been waiting for my whole life
So baby I'm alright, with just a kiss goodnight
Just a Kiss by Lady Antebellum