Disclaimer: Nikki & Nora are not mine, but it kinda feels like they are. The characters from the pilot aren't either. BUT - there's a whole lot of original ones that are in this little story so...*yay* for me.
Author's Note (this is gonna be a longish one)
There are a few things to get out of the way before you start reading:
First: There's dialogue directly taken from Putting the Damage On - not a lot of it, but some. You really don't have to read that story to read this one, but it can't hurt. I reference the happenings there quite a bit as it is a direct continuation of the piece.
Second: Generally, I write from only Nikki's and Nora's POVs. This is one also contains Ann's. To make it a little easier to follow, each chapter is character specific. The pattern is as such: Nora, Ann, Nikki, Nora, Ann, Nikki... I wasn't going to at first, but then well, since this is as much Ann's story as it is Nikki and Nora's it felt like the right thing to do. I hope you don't mind too much.
Third: I warned you it was long...and vague disclaimer's are no one's friend...We are here, the last of this series. I've no plans for another Nikki & Nora story after this (feel free to spit and sputter my way) and that's mainly due to this series occupying the brain space available for plot development. I can with 70% certainty state that in terms of the world created here...this is the end.
Lastly, this story is about three years in the making. At the end, I hope I've did the characters here a bit of justice and yinz all have enjoyed the ride. If this doesn't satisfy you, blame DocWho, she's responsible for planting the seed for PtDO. :P
I'm done now. thanks!
Ch. 1 – Riddled Savageries
"Nikki!" I call out from inside our closet trying to get my lover's attention in the bathroom.
I hear the shower shut off and just decide to head her way. Better me going in there than her tracking through the bedroom. She usually makes a mess when she showers anyhow.
And I swear all I really want to do is call off. Tell Dan I'm dead and sleep the rest of the week.
I don't get it.
It used to be easier, this going nonstop.
Of course, the sensible part of me, reminds that that was fifteen years ago. I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Huffing, I right myself and head into the bathroom.
The smile's automatic as I witness her towel off.
"Oh, no," she warns, noticing my smile and covers up with her favorite light-blue, over sized towel, "We don't – a. have time, b. I'm way too tired and c. you," she points her finger at me and narrows her eyes, "you fell asleep on me as I was taking off your jeans last night."
I suck in my lips and have the decency to look away. She's right. I was so tired last night that I'm surprised I made it into bed. Although, I suspect that had more to do with Nikki taking care of me and less of my ability to be an adult when I'm exhausted.
"I, uh," I start trying to smooth things over. The stutter gets me a raised eyebrow. "Sorry," I mumble instead. "Really, I, uh…"
"Save the apologies for later," Nikki says with a grin. "I'd rather just get through today and take the three days we have coming to us." She resumes her regimen and I try to remember why I came in here in the first place.
"Nor," Nikki says gathering my attention. I follow her line of site down to my bra clad upper half and the half-zipped jeans and open button.
"Sorry, I was calling you, but the water and the shower. I can't find my belt," I tell her and look around the bathroom. Maybe I left it in here. A scowl firmly plants itself on my face as I notice more things have been moved.
My running shoes were tucked under the bed. There was a pile of clothes in the corner that needed to go to the dry cleaners and they're gone.
Wait a minute…
I stop looking through the belts on the back of the bathroom door and turn around sweeping a discerning eye over our bathroom.
A bathroom that was in need of a thorough scrubbing yesterday morning when we were getting ready.
The clothes hamper isn't bulging, the spots on the two vanity mirrors are gone, the shower stall door looks polished. "Nikki…" I rumble in the direction of my lover's bare, retreating backside.
"Nicolette Joyelle Beaumont," I snap and march into the bedroom while she disappears into the closet I was just in. "What'd you do, Nikki?" I rest my hands on my hips and wait for her.
She has to come out of there eventually. My foot taps against the thick carpet. I hear her rummaging and cloth sliding across skin before she emerges in black slacks and purple button down blouse that's hanging open to reveal a purple satin bra. Her smile is wide and her hair is wrapped up in her towel.
"Yes, dear?" she asks, batting her eyelashes my way.
My right hand comes up and I point my finger at her. "What. Did. You. Do?"
She comes up, takes a hold of my finger and laces our hands together before pressing our bodies together. "I may have enlisted some help." She tries to peck the corner of my lips, but I turn my head, making sure she only catches my left cheek.
"Nik," I gripe and step away, buttoning up my pants and doing the zipper up as I build steam, "we've talked about this. We're capable individuals who are quite adept at keeping our house clean and put together. I won't have someone, especially someone I don't know, come into my home and…"
My rant is stopped by a slim index finger pressed against my parted lips.
"Nora Marie Delaney, now you look here," she gripes right back at me, "I don't disagree with you on any one of those points. But," she removes the finger from my lips and stands back to allow me to put a shirt on, "we have been going nonstop, if not at work, than at the foundation for longer than I care to admit. I was, in no uncertain terms, going to run down to Target and buy a new set of underwear just so I could have some clean ones to wear, again." Her hands settle on her hips and she finishes, "Once a month is one time too many. Twice a month is unacceptable."
"But…" I try again.
She goes over to the dresser and…
There it is.
Handing me my belt, I say, "Thanks, but, Nik…"
"Look, I just asked Gale, you know Daddy's house keeper, that it would be amazing if she could pop over here while we were working and straighten up. We've been so busy, baby. It's not that big of a deal," she reasons while ducking back into the closet and coming back out with a pair of shoes and thin trouser socks.
I thread the belt though my jeans hoops and buckle it up before securing my gun and badge to their respective space along my hips. I really want to huff and puff and blow her reasoning away but…
"So does that mean I can put my two day old socks in the hamper?" I ask as concession.
"Already did that, sug," Nikki titters making her way to the bathroom to do her hair.
I shake my head, grab a freshly laundered pair from my drawer and reach for my sneakers peeking out from under the bed. I've been up for a little longer and leaving Nikki to her morning routine seems like the solid option. "I'm gonna take Mister outside for a quick lap around the block, be back in fifteen!" I holler over the hair dryer.
"M'kay!" she hollers back.
Well, at least there are clean clothes. I look back at the bed and then it registers, the sheets are tucked in. Snorting, I shake my head. We even got clean sheets with a fresh made bed and I didn't even notice.
Snatching Mister's leash from around the door knob, I trot downstairs and seriously reconsider this whole 'refusal to have help' thing I've been protesting for the past year.
She may actually be on to something.
"Come on, buddy," I call out to the mutt lying against the kitchen island. His head pops up at the sight of the leash and my voice. I hold the back door open for him; he scrambles up and takes off. I set out at a brisk pace to catch up with him waiting at the end of the walkway.
"Oh, my God!" Nikki exclaims as her arms stretch above her head and she drops her pen on the stack of files she just closed. "I'm done. If I have to fill out another box or report, I'm taking a header off the station roof."
I glance up from my last report and cock an eyebrow at her. "A little dramatic there princess."
She just groans and leans over her desk, resting her head along its edge. I can't really blame her. We had two meetings with the prosecutors for our last two cases and then paperwork.
The fun stuff that they don't tell you about in the academy.
"Well, if you give me ten minutes, I'll be done and then we can get out of here," I tell her and go back to filling out the last section of the report, 'Officer Assault'. I mark off the appropriate boxes because nothing happened, the take down here was routine. A warrant was served and hopefully, a bit of justice.
I scrawl my name across the bottom of the page, date it and then close the file.
"Done," I state while stretching myself.
Nikki's smile lights up the quiet room and asks, "So, if you're done and I'm done…" she exaggerates looking around, our colleagues' desks are all empty, the uni's are keeping to themselves and Dan left a half hour ago, "Does that mean that it's officially our weekend?"
I lick my lips and in the most serious tone I can muster I say, "I'm not sure I would go that far. We need to slip these in Dan's inbox and sign out."
"I'd gather quickly," Nikki says and stands collecting the outstretched folder from me. Hers go under that and she saunters to Dan's door and plops the file in the bin nailed to the wall beside it. I shut my computer down, joining her with her coat and purse as we meet at the bull pen entry way. "Thoughts on what we're going to do for three whole days?" she asks as I hold her jacket up so she can slip her arms through.
I pull her hair out from the collar and shrug. "Sleep, eat, relax," I reply as she slips her arm through mine and we head downstairs to sign out for the day.
"Hmm, that sounds wonderful. Dinner?" she asks as we hit the landing and sign out, giving Sean a wave over my shoulder before we head outside.
Ugh. Rain. "Wait here. I'll go grab the car so we're both not completely drenched," I try to leave without a protest, but Nikki doesn't let my arm go and until she starts off in a jog.
I pick up my pace, remote Bruce open and dash towards the SUV. I lose the impromptu race. She's already in the passenger seat by the time I slip into the driver's side. On the upside, it wasn't raining too hard and I'm not completely soaked.
I cut my eyes to Nikki. The last thing I need to hear about is her frizzy hair. Thankfully, it looks manageable. "Don't care. We can pick something up or go home to relax a bit and go out?"
Turning the car over, I secure my seat belt, back up the beast of a vehicle and head towards home. "I don't think I'll want to leave once we get home. Let's just…" my girl trails off and I glance over. Her phone is pressed to her ear and I hear, "Hi, I'd like to put in an order to go. Two orders of the enchiladas, pancho villa's nachos, a bottle of the Graffigna Pinot Grigio and one order of the traditional flan."
She must be ordering from the El Gato, that's the only time she orders enough food to feed a small army. Wonder if she has something up her sleeve?
Sighing, I change course and signal left to head towards the restaurant. Not that I don't like their food. It's good, all of it, but I can barely eat half the dinner portion on the enchiladas and she got an appetizer and desert.
"Thank you, we'll be there soon," she ends the call and dumps her phone in the cup holder of the middle console.
"So did you invite people over for dinner that I don't know about?" I tease her and hold my hand out for her to take. She takes the offered hand and shrugs.
"I'm starved and the wine sounded good, but the wine goes better with the nachos and I know you have a sweet tooth, so…" she ends it there by way of explanation.
"Just to clarify, the plan is to fatten us up, get us drunk and then…" I wonder and see the sign for the El Gato Negro come up on my right.
"Well," Nikki purrs, her right hand reaching around and dancing her fingers up my arm to bop me on the tip of my nose, "I was thinking sustenance, a little wine to help for relaxation and then a bath where I may be persuaded to let you ride me until we can't move for a whole day."
"Okay," I manage through my still floored mouth. Who was I to argue with my partner's plans for us this evening?
"Then I suggest you pull over so I can run in and get the food," she singsongs and pecks my cheek.
I shake my head and realize that I was too close to try and pull up next to the place so I double park, put my hazards on and shoo her from the car. This gives me time to regroup. The whole bathtub bit of her plan sort of threw me. I rub a hand over my face and crack my neck.
Thank God I got some sleep last night.
I watch the traffic out the front and let my fingers drum along to the radio as I wait. Traffic's starting to slow because of the rain. Not a good sign for patrol cars. They'll have more accident reports than they'll know what to do with tomorrow.
A tap on my window snaps my head in its general direction. A uni's got his Maglite out and waving it at me. I bite my lips and kill my snicker. Squinting, I read the name plate, Whirly, and don't give him time to open his mouth as I roll the window down. I unclip my badge and flash it his way.
"Can I help you with something?" I ask as he registers the gold shield.
"Sorry, detective, but you're double parked…" he trails off at my raised eyebrow.
"My flashers are on; I've been here less than five minutes, Ofc. Whirly. Did you bother running the plates before you stepped out of your vehicle?" I ask with just a hint of annoyance. I'm not really, but the kid looks like he should be in middle school, not in uniform. I can only hope I didn't look that young in uniform.
Nikki…seeing the pictures from her academy graduation. I involuntarily tug at my t-shirt collar. It does funny things to me.
"Uh…I…no…ma'am," he stutters.
I prop my arm on the door and lean out the window a little, risking the rain to be heard over the noise of passing traffic. "Allow me to provide a little bit of instruction since they have you riding without a partner." I look over my shoulder to verify. Stupid budget cuts. "If you're going to pull a vehicle over or approach a stopped vehicle, you run the plates. That's week two of training. There's a reason for that. What if the car had been stolen? What if the plates didn't match the vehicle? What if I was a fellow officer and you have to suffer through an embarrassing lecture?" I poke my finger out and tap his chest to make sure he's wearing armor. I nod when I feel the Kevlar's resistance.
"Now, on top of all that, the way you approached the vehicle, bad form. You were in front of me, you approach, you approach from behind and stay off to the side. It's hard as shit to shoot over your shoulder." I retract my finger and look back at his blushing features. "You saw a blonde woman in a car and made assumptions. Were those assumptions correct?" I ask and use my right hand to nudge back my jacket to reveal the butt of my gun.
He shakes his head.
"I'd like to see you alive at the next function the brass makes us go to, Whirly. Make sure you remember this," I say and roll up my window not bothering with anything else. Really what else is there to say? My eyes are glued to my side mirror as I see him trudge back to his cruiser.
Nikki slips inside and immediately the car is filled with the spicy aroma of good Mexican food. "What was all that about?" she asks hooking her thumb behind her.
I shake my head. "Kid was just trying to bust me out for double parking. I…"
"Dressed him down. I heard, sug," she laughs at me. "I'm surprised he's still walking right."
She pecks the corner of my mouth to take the sting from her words, but I still protest, "He…"
She shakes her head. "You did the right thing. Now, Det. Delaney, why don't you take me home and we can kick off our weekend with a bang?"
I offer her another dip of my chin, kill the hazards and pull out into traffic. "Yes, ma'am."
I don't need to be told twice.
"Nikki," I press back against my lover and she barely stirs.
Sighing, I blindly reach out towards the night stand and fumble along the top. The buzzing stops as I hit the green button and croak, "Delaney."
"Nora?" the man on the other end questions…I know that voice. "I thought I called Nikki's phone?"
Benny. It's Benny.
"You did," I say softly and try to move away from Nikki, but she takes her duties as big spoon seriously and tightens her grip. "Nikki's the big spoon tonight and I'm closer to the phones. What's up?" I finally ask as the fog clears.
"Oh, you two naked? It'd make my night if you two were naked," he teases me and despite myself, I grin.
"As the day we were born. When's the last time you had a gorgeous brunette molded to your back?" I give as good as I get and hear him groan.
"Been too long, but I'm afraid…look I know you two aren't due back for another day, but I have a favor to ask. Dom and I are up for rotation and got a call from the desk, but you know Rosie's about to pop and she pitched a fit when Dom was getting ready to leave and I know it's like…"
"Three a.m.," I fill in as I look at the bedside clock.
"Right," he sighs. "You don't have to take the case, just go out there and clear the scene. Dom and I will cover the morning for you and you and Nikki can go back to sleep for a bit. Please?" he begs.
"No problem," I say automatically. Rosalie's been a bitch and it's their first child. "Call dispatch and tell them we're coming instead, be there within the hour. Text me the location."
"You are…next time I see you, Delaney, I'm planting one on you," he breathes relieved.
"Do it and lose your balls, Armstrong. We'll see you in the morning." I disconnect the call to his snicker.
"Baby," Nikki moans from behind me.
"We need to go, Nik. Come on," I urge her with a gentle thrust of my hips that dislodges her arms. Sliding off the bed, I turn and watch her rollover and open her eyes. She blinks a few times looking up at the ceiling and then groans.
"Time is it?" she asks sitting up as I start to gather our clothes. I toss panties, pants, bra and t-shirt on to the bed. I grab the clothes I had on tonight and start getting dressed.
"Three," I answer when she moves to start getting ready.
"Hmm, and I was hoping for a lazy morning roll in the hay," she grumbles and stands to pull up her underwear.
"Best laid plans…" I trail off and slip my shirt over my head.
She grunts and that's the end of the conversation. We finish getting ready with a practiced routine for these early morning wake up calls and are out the door inside of twenty minutes. We may not look all that pretty, but really, what do people expect.
The address Benny texted is a good twenty minutes on the surface streets and taking the highway would just take us in the wrong direction. So I suck it up and let Frankie rumble along the quiet streets this Monday morning.
As we turn down the alley, a uniform stops us and then waves us through as he recognizes me. Scene techs are out in force and there are spotlights set up for the forensic photographer. I look up at the night sky and see not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful night has been ruined for someone.
"Nora? Nikki?" Charlie calls out from down the alley, where the body's laid out.
I snap a pair of gloves on and hand a pair off to Nikki. "G'mornin', Charlie."
"Well, I was expecting Barrett and Armstrong. How'd you get roped into this?" he asks using his pinky to scratch at his forehead.
"Barrett's wife is pregnant and due soon. She wanted to keep him home so…" Nikki fills in for us as we approach the M.E. and the dead body.
"Ah, well, then, it's lovely to see you both." His grin is way too genuine for this time in the morning.
"Would you like to start us off?" I ask and start scanning the body. I start with the feet. Size alone tells me male, tall and male. The jeans are dirty and the white t-shirt the vic has on is grimy from the alley floor.
I scan further up and stop at the chin.
My eyes flick to the vic's face and I wince.
I close my eyes and reach for Nikki.
I blink and she turns away from Charlie to look at me. I see her eyes track over my shoulder and her mouth drop open.
"You see what I'm seeing, right?" I ask, needing her to tell me exactly what I don't want to hear.
"Do we have an I.D. yet?" Nikki turns away from me and back to Charlie.
He nods and reaches down to a small pile of evidence bags. He finds the one he wants and tosses up to me. I flip the bag over and look at the Missouri driver's license. The name 'Dennis Addison' glares back at me.
Well, isn't this just…
The phone's in my hand before I blink and it's ringing as I bring it up to my ear. On the fourth ring, she answers, "Flemming."
"Ann, it's Nora," I greet and spin on the ball of my right foot to look down at her primary suspect in a string of murders.
"I got that. What's up chicken butt," she laughs at me. She must have been awake.
Jill's going to kill me.
I mean really how exactly do I tell her this?
I clamp my eyes shut tight and just go for it, "Okay, two things: one, never say that to me again, and two, what's up is me looking at the corpse of your person of interest in the No Profile killings. Mr. Addison is lying upright and looking at the big NOLA night sky without the proper grin to match."
"What?" the disbelief saturates her tone.
I'm right there with you, hon.
"Dennis Addison is dead. Nikki and I are looking at his corpse right now, Ann," I inform her gently.
This isn't going to end well.
I hear her sigh and say, "We'll be there as soon as possible."
The line goes dead and I slip the phone in my back pocket.
My hands go to my hips, my lips purse and Nikki looks just as unimpressed as I am.
So much for Benny and Dom taking point on this when they get in in the morning.
So much for us going back to bed to enjoy the last day of our three day weekend.