Because You Got Me a Fish
Summary: It's been three weeks since the kiss, and Dani still can't explain to Nico why she did it. That is until Nico shows up late one night with an unexpected guest.
AN: I own nothing except the story and the fish. Everything else belongs to Necessary Roughness.
"Why did you kiss me?"
The question had been running through Dani's head for the past two days and she still couldn't come up with a good answer. Ever since Nico had come by her office to discuss the newest TK drama, Dani had been thinking about that kiss and what it meant. Right after it had happened they had both ignored it, as if by some unspoken agreement. And Dani had been fine with that. More than fine, she had been completely willing to pretend it had never happened.
But then there they had been sitting in her office when suddenly Nico had brought up the kiss. He had done it so casually, so smoothly, that at first it hadn't even registered. He might as well have been asking what she thought the weather would be tomorrow for all the emotion that had been behind it. The question hadn't been accusing, or filled with hurt, or even a desire to know if it would happen again. It had seemed to be born out of simple curiosity. Dani knew however, that this was Nico's way of giving her an out. If she wanted she could say that she had had a lot of things going on in her life, that he had just brought her back the tapes, that she was upset Little Dude had died, that he had seemed so sad and hurt. Truthfully the fact that he felt she knew him had made her feel closer to him then she had felt to anyone in a long time, even Matt. Dani sighed deeply, staring at the place where Little Dude's bowl used to sit.
"You know." She said to the empty counter space. "I could really use a friend to talk to right now and I'll be honest. Talking to the countertop kind of makes me feel a little crazy."
A sudden knock at the door caused her to jump, looking around as though to make sure no one had seen her talking to the counter. Shaking her head at her own foolishness, Dani quickly made her way to the front door, wondering who could be calling at this hour. As she opened the door she couldn't help but suppress a smile at her late night visitor. She should have known really. No one else ever stopped by her house this late.
"Hey Nico, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, I had just wanted to stop by to see how things were. You had seemed a little distracted when you were at the Hawks office today and I wanted to make sure you hadn't had anymore late night callers."
"You mean besides you?" Dani said teasingly, unable to suppress her grin any longer. "No. All remains quiet and to the best of my knowledge our wide receiver is safely tucked in. Or at least, not in jail or on the news."
"Good," he said hesitating for a moment.
"Was there something else?" She asked, feeling nervous. She hoped he wasn't going to bring up the kiss again; she still didn't have a good answer for him.
"Just that…," he began his eyebrows knitted together in concern, "Just that, we don't ever have to discuss the kiss again if you don't want to. It was unfair of me to corner you like that. Whatever the reason was, it doesn't matter. It's in the past and it's never going to happen again so why bring it up."
"Oh, ok. Well great." Dani said, surprised at the disappoint she could feel creeping into her voice, and the sudden heavy sensation in the pit of her stomach.
"Yeah. There was one more thing." He said, suddenly looking uncertain. "Well, I knew how much you were missing Little Dude and I thought you could use a new friend to keep you company. So…" Nico said, leaning down to pick up a before unnoticed object sitting on the front porch. He quickly stood back up, this time holding a small goldfish bowl, a red angel fish swimming lazy laps inside. "I know he's not the same but these guys are supposed to be pretty hardy, so hopefully he'll last a while. Plus I have it on good authority that angel fish are great listeners. This one in particular will also make sure no one's listening to you," his expression turning serious.
Dani stared at him, confusion written on her face. "What do you mean?"
"You see the castle in there?" he asked, pointing out a moderately sized white castle, complete with a drawbridge that seemed to rise up and down with the small currents of the bowl. "Inside it is a bug jammer. It's got a range of about 100 feet so as long as it stays near your office it should keep all your private conversations private."
"Nico…"Dani's voice trailed off as tears caught in her throat. Taking a deep breath she stared up at him gratitude shining in her eyes.
"I know you've felt uncomfortable holding sessions here since the bugging incident even though we got the tapes back. This way I figured you could maybe start to feel a little more at ease here. Plus I know how much you've missed having your friend to confide in. Think of him as your own personal super spy." He added with a grin.
Dani simply starred quietly at the fish bowl, unsure of what to say. As she watched her own personal secret agent man continue to swim laps in his new bowl, she suddenly knew exactly why she had kissed Nico, and why she most definitely did not regret it. Nico had just started down the porch steps when a quiet whisper pulled him back.
"Because you got me a fish." Dani murmured.
"What?" Nico asked, quickly making his way back up the porch.
"You asked me why I kissed you. Because you got me a fish." Dani repeated more firmly, now looking directly into Nico's eyes, her gaze unwavering.
"Dani," Nico began uncertainly, "We kissed three weeks ago. I only got you the fish this afternoon."
"No. what I mean is…"She paused, frustrated, as she tried to sort out the thoughts racing through her head, trying to find a way to make him understand how important this was. "You saw me holding a fishbowl and instead of just seeing a crazy woman crying over a dead fish, you understood he was my friend. You understood how much it hurt to lose someone I could confide in, someone I could tell my secrets too, and who wouldn't judge me and wouldn't blab. Even if it was a fish."
"Everybody needs someone to talk to." He replied quietly, his eyes locked on hers now, the subtext of the conversation suddenly becoming clear.
"I'm always right here when you need someone. Even if it is at two in the morning." She said softly, a smile spreading across her features. "I'll even let you borrow SAM on occasion if you'd rather talk to someone who can't talk back."
"Sam?" Nico asked, confused.
"My fish." She replied, holding the bowl up between them. "Secret Agent Man. SAM for short. "
"I like it," he said with a small smile. "And I will definitely keep you both in mind the next time I need to talk." They stood quietly on the porch for a moment, starring down as the small fish swam easy circles in his bowl, unaware of his importance.
"Well," Nico said returning his gaze to Dani, "I had better get going."
"Are you sure?" Dani asked, not wanting the moment to end quite yet. "You could stay for a little while longer. Help me get SAM situated in his new home. We could even talk some more about…about everything."
"That sounds good." Nico replied, his smile growing more prominent, a light beginning to shine from his eyes.
"Good." Dani said relieved, as she turned to let Nico inside the house. She didn't know where they would go from here, but as she closed the door behind him she was certain that this night, and this fish, had altered the course of their relationship. And however it ended, she felt a thrill at the knowledge that this was only the beginning.