Hello all my fellow Nico/Dani lovers! I like all of you are completely in love with this episode and after reading all of the amazing fic's that have come out of "Double Fault" I decided to add my own 'could have been' moment to the mix and although we all know what happened in the next episode this is my take. Even if I'm not entirely happy with it.
I hope everyone enjoys and as always I have no beta, so all spelling and grammatical mistakes are my own.
1) The force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass.
Gravity…there was no other word to describe the inescapable force drawing her toward Nico in this moment.
"Look at me." He coxed forcefully for the second time and despite herself she turned her glittering gaze only to be caught and pulled in by thousands of invisible strings all leading her toward salvation, or possibly damnation. Dani wasn't entirely sure there was a difference at this point.
Each breath that caressed her face was another string embedding in her skin, drawing her in, closer, and closer…"You're not alone."
There was a promise in his honey coated words that sank in, through her pores, raced along her veins and finally wrapped around her aching heart in a warm embrace of hope.
Turn away, an inner voice whispered. She should turn away, escort him out the door, slam it on his smug ass and then sink back into her black void but she was frozen. Somehow, without her notice time had slowed to a crawl around them and she was rendered immobile.
Another string drew her nearer, inch by precious inch, closer until…he jerked away as if stung.
The snapping of stings was almost a physical pain and just like that gravity fell way with the invisible fibers. She was free-falling and Dani knew that when he walked out that door she would be lost, drifting without an anchor to keep her grounded. She had longed for the reprieve but now she wasn't so sure she would survive the fall.
How did this all get so mixed up? Hadn't she wanted him to leave only seconds ago?
The sound of the door closing behind him was expected, but what was not expected was the silence that engulfed the room as he hovered near the door unmoving. One large long-fingered hand that only moments ago had been wrapped around her trembling fingers hung poised over the door knob in weighted indecision.
A second later the decision was made, Dani watched with something akin to bafflement as Nico swiveled from the door and headed in the general direction of her…kitchen?
The strings knitted back together, stronger and more resilient than before. Now they were a tether, yanking her off the couch and without a conscious thought she was stumbling down the hall after his retreating figure.
"What are you doing?" The shrill sound of her voice was akin to a thunder-clap shattering the oppressive silence that held her prisoner, but Nico ignored her despite the tightness in his shoulders he continued rummaging in her cabinets with causal ease.
Something in her flared to life at his dismissal. How dare he ignore her after she told him to leave and after she almost let him…well that was a thought better left un-thought in her opinion.
"Nico, I said what are you doing?" His dark head snapped up like a whip to regard her. For a second Dani thought she saw a ghost of a smile grace his lips but couldn't be sure as he turned back to the stove top and proceeded to set the kettle to boil. Once again dismissing her question.
"Tea?" He asked with an air of indifference. As if the question were just a formality and her answer was as meaningless as the inquiry.
Dani swallowed back a groan; he was playing with her. "I asked you to leave Nico." She sounded tiered to her own ears but maintained the firm edge she intended. Dani was proud of herself for keeping it together this long when she was unraveling at the seams on the inside.
Without turning he replied calmly. "As I said before Dani, no. I am not leaving you alone."
Oh…and wasn't that just a beautiful line wrapped in a delectable package, designed to stop her heart and steal her breath from suddenly starving lungs.
Pulling in a shuddered breath, Dani mustered up her last bit of stubbornness in a final plea for mercy. "I'm not al—"
"Your mother is in Atlantic City, Jeanette is on her way to the airport and the children are with their father for the night, so unless you have someone else you would like me to call, I repeat...I am no leaving you alone." He ceased his preparations long enough to pin her with a pointed look.
This was a challenge, she deduced from the hard set of his jaw and the slight arch of his brow. Suddenly she knew how to get him to leave, it was written across his face as clear as day. Matt. With one little utterance of a name she could call this a victory and he would walk out of her house without protest.
He would walk out of her house and possibly out of her life, she realized.
One of the many strings wrapped precariously around her heart gave a violent tug at the possibility of Nico walking away from her, never to return. It left her gasping and aching inside. Could she really do that to him, to herself, she wondered.
"Honey!" She yelped; decision made. Drawing in a deep breath to calm her nerves she continued. "There is honey over your left shoulder for the tea."
He remained unmoving for a long moment, watching her, looking for something but when he didn't find it his rigid stance diminished. The hard-line of his jaw softened and his shoulders relaxed under the sleek lines of his suit jacket. Matching smiles settled into place and just like that the tugging lessened to an steady pull.
Hours passed with barely a word spoken. Dani was struck with the ease of it all. Years of marriage had taught her the value of silence but there had always been an underlying tension with Ray and even Matt toward the end, but there was only comfort with Nico. Slowly she relaxed and conversation flowed naturally after a time. They avoided the pink elephant between them by the name of Marshall Pittman. Instead he asked about the children with a genuine show of interest and she gladly took the opportunity to unload some of the weight pulling her down. Time passed and subjects touched on that nether Dani or Nico had spoken to anyone about in years.
The clock struck 3 am before either of them noticed the passage of time.
They made their way to the door with slow but steady steps. The strings remained attached but their hold had loosened over the last few hours. The stress of the day still clung to her skin making her want to scratch the itch away but she could stand the irritation now. There was a spark of something blooming in her chest now, something akin to hope that over shadowed the lingering discomfort.
Dani believed Nico when he said he would take care of this. She fixed people and he fixed situations. It was the natural order of the world she lived in, a certainty in a sea of uncertainty.
The bitter remnant of winter greeted her once they stepped out side, a harsh reminder that they had left the small bubble of security that had cocooned around them over the last few hours, for the sharp knife of reality. Tomorrow was coming faster than she would have liked but another matter pressed on her mind at the moment.
"That woman; Vera Dade, were you and she…" Having sex, in love, in a committed relationship, her mind supplied helpfully. "Involved?" Was what she settled on, the words leaving a sour taste lingering on her tongue. She had caught him off guard by her inquiry.
He stared down at her with a calculating expression, dark eyes hooded and a small down cast frown gracing his lips. Nico had once said that he had never and would never lie to her but for a moment Dani could detect a sliver of indecision clouding his eyes. That brilliant brain of his was working to concoct a believable line that would satisfy her curiosity without compromising his need for privacy.
Finally he sighed as if he knew his next words could damn him. "Yes."
Alright, didn't that just hurt like a bitch...She had known the answer before his lips formed the words but hearing them spoken was like a slap in the face even thought she knew she had no logical reason, nor right to be jealous.
Jealous, is that what she was? Yes, Dani reluctantly admitted, she was jealous of Vera in all her well dressed glory. She hadn't noticed it until moments ago, but seeing the beautiful brunette slinking out of his office, the way she stood just a little too close to be considered entirely professionally, had bothered her far more than it should have.
Well, this was turning out to be quite the night for personal revelations.
Unconsciously she withdrew from him at the affirmation of her suspicions; the act propelled him forward as if the strings that had pulled her toward him all evening had a similar hold over him.
"Yes, we were 'involved' as you put it, but that has been over for some time now." Stepping into her personal space he lifted her chine until she met his eyes. Caught she could only watch him transfixed, waiting for his next words with rapt attention.
"Why?" She whispered.
"Don't you know Dani?" A look of bewilderment was her only response. "She isn't you."
Like a rip cord being pulled, the stings yanked in unison, propelling her into his arms. Lips met and clashed in a passionate ballet until they were both oxygen starved and shaking from the thrill of the sweet rush of adrenaline. Only then did they pull away, both gasping for breath and clinging to one another for dear life.
Dani was sure that her chest was going to explode any moment but it would be a good kind of explosion, the kind that left you painfully aware of just how alive you really were.
"I…I had no idea Nico." She whispered against his lips, but that wasn't entirely true if her was being honest with herself. She had a clue, the barest inkling that there was a passing attraction sparking between them but this was no spark, this was an inferno burning bright and all-consuming.
There had always been Matt, he was who she wanted wasn't he?
Half standing, half dangling off the ground, supported by Nico's arm circling her waist, bodies lined from thigh to chest, foreheads touching, and each breath shared, Dani wasn't sure about anything anymore.
Something dark and acrid twisted in her belly right then, a sliver of doubt crept in.
"This is all moving so fast, and I don't know it…what I want right now…" He recoiled and set her on her feet leaving a biting chill creeping down her spine. Dani instantly wanted to steal back her words, pluck them from the air before they found there was to his ears but it was too late, the damage was done.
"Nico, that's not what I meant…" Pleading she reached out to him but he spun away, dragging a hand through the thick mess of dark hair she had felt caressing her fingers seconds ago. Pain, deepened the lines on his face. Lines that marked him as older than her, but they were lines she had found attractive from the day she met him and lines that marked him as a survivor.
Her mind flashed back to there first few interactions. It had been simpler then, he didn't like or trust her and she was to busy fawning over Matt to consider him as anything more than an annoyance. But somewhere along the way they became friends, confidants, and even occasionally partners in crime. Dani respected and admired Nico, but Matt was what she wanted. Matt was stable, kind, and everything she needed in her life, wasn't he?
Then what was this pull she felt toward Nico, this desire coiling around her insides? Dark and imperfect in its flaws, as wild as the coarsest seas but could still tamable, if only she could weather the storm, hold on long enough she could almost feel the morning light kissing her skin through the parting clouds.
"It's alright Dani, I understand." He reassured but his back remained turned, the tension from earlier returning and his shoulders shrank under the strain.
How could he understand when she didn't understand herself? Doubt circled in her mind and the answer to her question remained allusive, teetering just out of her reach, but maybe…maybe that was the answer.
She had spent months trying to rationalize everything, make sense of the chaos in her life. Trying to fit Matt into the nice mold she set out for him, only he hadn't fit in her mold or if she set aside the attraction they shared, her life planes either. But would Nico fit? Better yet did it matter anymore, she wondered. These last few hours had been a safe port in the endless storm and it was all due to Nico and his stubborn ways.
Approaching quietly as not to startle him, Dani reached out a hand to sooth the hard lines of his back. "Nico, please look at me."
Unreadable eyes turned on her, resignation the only emotion she could discern on his face. She had done this, and she was going to undo it.
Taking surprisingly cool hands within hers, she used her grip to pull herself close to him. "I'm sorry Nico but you don't understand, nether do I really. This is all moving too fast and I have no clue what's going to happen tomorrow…but I do know that I want you there with me." Dani didn't think about the words coming out of her mouth, she just let them flow from her heart with out sensor. "You are the last man in the world I wanted in my life. You're complicated and stubborn, so secretive that it drives me insane most of the time…but you're also caring and considerate. You have always been there for me whether I wanted you there or not." He laughed at that, a deep rich sound that warmed her quivering heart and she took it as encouragement to continue.
"You've protected my children and even my heart from harm, all without being asked. Like I said you are nothing that I have ever wanted but I am beginning to think you are exactly what I need, Nico. If you can give me some time to sort this out, I think...this might be something good." Tears prickled at her eyes as she waited for his response, it had taken more than she could have imagined to lay all of her feelings out before him but it also felt freeing. It was on him now and what she saw reflecting in his face let her know it had been worth the risk.
"Dani…" When words were inadequate, actions spoke louder and clearer in her experience. Swooping down he dragged her smaller body off the ground and pressed her against him in a death grip. Lips sought out and found each other and he was devouring her again, with such passion she was sure steam sizzled off their exposed flesh. She was distantly grateful for the light top she wore when his hands sipped under the fabric and scorched hot trails over her back. In return her hand buried in his hair; forcing his mouth and body in closer contact with hers.
This wasn't quite what she had in mind when she sought to fix her blunder but it was a fine alternative, one that could quickly become addictive.
"I'll give you anything you want, as long as you want, Dani. Just so long as you say this isn't the last time I can hold you," he emphasized with a squeeze of her waist, "touch," the hand caressing her back traced higher sending a flash of desire pooling low in her core, "and kiss you like this." His lips descended once more and she was lost. Seduction, yet another skill to add the already long list of things Nico was good at.
Pulling back with a coy smile, Dani leaned in until her lips brushed the shell of his ear ever so lightly. "You've got your self a deal Mr. Careles."
Merry Christmas all and a happy holidays!
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