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1. Campaign Update

New news is awesome, no news sucks and Nancylee's shared with us that if the campaign can reach $46K then one, very generous donor will chip in the last $4k to round it out to $50K.

Possible list of places spare change could be hiding out: The pocket of that one pair of jeans that you wore that one night, but haven't washed yet (you know those puppies are good for like at least a fiver), grandparents couches (my pap was always good for walking around like an arcade worker, some of that change got ate by the couch...goldmine!), car ashtrays (older models only, I don't think they make cars with ashtrays anymore), aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, friends, acquaintances, I'm sure their couches and cars and don't forget the recliners and love seats, would all kill for the attention.

Right now the campaign's at $38,260 with 518 donors (effing awesome) so $7,740 is left to go with a little over 6 days left...

DONATE HERE and if you can't donate, 'cause, well, I get that too, tell people about it, there's that thing called facebook, I avoid it, but some don't, twitter, blogs, street signs, banners, sky writers, billboards, radio, streaking at national sporting events (although that might get you in more trouble than necessary and I'm not bailing you out, so on second thought)...

Title: Near Life Experience
Disclaimer: Not my characters – except for one or two. The rest of the ladies and gentleman contained herein belong to entities with a higher pay grade. Thanks for allowing li’l ole me to play; I promise to return them as I found them…just like the tools I borrowed from dad when I was a kid. Also, this is unbeta’d so…mistakes are really all me. Sorry about that.
Fandom: Nikki & Nora
Pairing: Nikki/Nora
Rating: PG-13-ish, there are some adult concepts and themes, but nothing too over the top.

Summary: Nikki's not really "Nikki" and Nora's sings a different tune.

A/N: I'm trying to get back an every other week posting schedule, sorry updates on this aren't up to my usual consistency.

Ch. 9 – Uncharted Waters

“Where’s Kira?” Dan asks as soon as his door swings open.

No, ‘Hi, partner. Thanks for bringing dinner.’ Just an immediate question about my sister. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so old.

But it really—pathetically, is.

The problem with Dan is that he’s oblivious.

“She’s coming,” I say instead of the million and six different responses that want to whip from the tip of my tongue at his idiocy. “She needed to swing by her place and grab a few things.” I push past him, leaving the drafty hallway for the kitchen so I can set our supper down. Cracking the top box open, its spicy aroma drifts out, causing my mouth to water for some of the best pizza to be found in my old, li’l city.

“Oh,” Dan sighs and shuts the door as I look to the dish rack for three clean plates.

Unsurprisingly, there are none in the sink or the drying rack. Dan and Bobby have a strange synchronicity and obsession about keeping an orderly home. It’s, in a word, immaculate. Finding this out about Dan didn’t really surprise me, but Bobby…

He and Kevin could never keep their room clean.

Him moving in with Dan was something I expected to not go well. Actually, I figured one of ‘em would have ended up in the hospital after the first month. It’s been over a year and they’ve managed to produce far less drama than what I thought Dan capable. They fit well together as bachelor. Much like the mix-matched, well-worn furniture filling their home, there’s the aged, brown leather sofa Bobby got as payment for playing a friend’s graduation party, the hunter green recliner that has Dan’s ass cheeks imprinted on it and the oak coffee table they picked up together at the River Road Flea Market one weekend when I needed a dresser.

I shrug off Dan’s obvious disappointment and focus on plating the pizza, grabbing 3 clean plates from the cabinet to my right. I move about the kitchen like I live here. This place is like a second or third home to me, so it’s not really a stretch. I’ve spent more than few nights sacked out on the couch a little too drunk to make it home by myself.

Dan makes himself useful and grabs three bottles of water to set on the coffee table. Just as I finish plating the food, the front door opens, signaling Kira’s arrival. “Okay! I’m here,” she announces her presence, the volume of it causes me to wince slightly.

Our family is anything but soft spoken.

My raised eyebrow the only reaction I give.

Dan, however, bounds the short distance of living room to entry way like the puppy he is. “’Bout time,” he ribs her as she leans up, pecks his cheek, and takes the files in his her hands.

Kira’s eyes cut to the plates I’m juggling and she groans, “Best. Sister. Ever.” She takes the plate resting on my forearm, following Dan into the living room with me on her heels. Setting the plates down on the coffee table next to the files, Kira and I settle on the couch while Dan takes his chair.

“Food first, information second,” my sister demands as she bites into her dinner.

“How about I cover some basics while you stuff your face?” I venture not terribly hungry due to my late lunch. She shrugs and continues to chew happily. “Got an I.D. back from our Jane Doe, Jamie Ramirez, age twenty, missing since Oh-seven. She was reported missing by her parents, George and Anita Ramirez of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was fourteen when she disappeared.”

“Shith,” Kira hisses with a mouth full of food.

“Charlie was able to match the dentals pretty quick thanks to the N.C.M.E.C. Locals have notified the parents. Although, I’m not sure when or if they’ll be coming to claim the body,” I fill in after swallowing my own food.

“Wh’ not?” Kira asks as she stands. “And anyone want more?”

“Bring the box back,” Dan tells her and sips from his water.

“Don’t think they have the funds too. We’ll send her back one way or the other. In fact, it might be best if they didn’t come here…” I pause reaching for a slice of pizza from the box Kira set on the table.

“True,” Dan agrees. “We don’t have much to offer them. And what we do…if it were my kid, I wouldn’t want that as my last memories of her.”

Kira’s lips go thin and she nods.

“Tox screens came back, she’d been drinking a little, but there was enough snow in her system to drop a damn rhino. She was with at least four men before she died. Scarring told him that she’s probably been in the business for about as long as she’s been missing,” I tell her, feeling the usual burn lick through my stomach.

She only nods at the information I gave her, but asks, “We get anything that looked like she might have had some friends? Place of residence?

Dan shakes his head. “No clue where she was living or if she was living with anyone. No one’s come forward about missing her either…”

“So then ‘no’ to any friends or people that might be missing her,” my sister fills in the blanks to her own questions. “The markers match?”

I nod. “The cocaine in her system matches the samples you’ve provided the lab. Slight variation from the batch, but it’s from the same source.”

Kira puts her plate down, wipes her hands along her jeans, and then runs her right hand through her messy blonde curls. “The net’s pretty big on this operation. From what Cunningham has said, the major distributor is in Miami, but they boat stuff up our way, use us a port to go west…”

“Not easier to get up through Mexico and into Texas or California?” Dan asks.

“Nope. You’d think, but the Mexican police and the cartels that litter the boarder make sure that you funnel anything through their trade routes, you pay. It’s cheaper for the primary supplier to go through Miami and handle distribution with alternate means.”

“And no clue on who it is we’re looking for?” I ask again. I was irked when they couldn’t put a face and name to the person that they’re going after.

Of all the half assed, bullshit…

“No. That’s the whole point. The few people they’ve managed to snare that work for them…never seen the distributor and no names were given,” Kira tries to explain again.

“Right, just ‘the distributor’,” I snip back.

She purses her lips at me. It’s a look she developed as a baby when I’d take her toys. It’s gotten the same reaction from me, a firm eye roll and dismal, every time she’s tried it.

“Now, that Nora’s caught you up on all the facts, I have some interesting pieces of information that I’d like to share with you.” He leans back in his chair, resting his palms flat on the arms. “Sent a query over to a buddy of mine at the D.O.J…”

“You have friends?” I ask, smiling.

“We dated for a week.” Dan shrugs me off and carry’s on, “She works at the Human Smuggling Trafficking Center. Our vic was in the business. When we got her I.D. back I got curious…”

“You think she was nabbed and put to work?” Kira asks beginning to pick up our thought process.

“Makes sense,” he shrugs. “She sent over some files of interest. A couple of dossier’s that we should look at more closely.”

I reach out to the files my partner’s talking about and hand them to Kira.

“I guess I have some catching up to do. Just how does this impact our case though?” she wonders absently as she flips through the top folder.

“Dunno,” I fill in. “Just seems like a loose thread. How Jamie ended up here, when, who brought her? They may not all be interrelated, but I just don’t think they’re completely separate either.”

She nods at my words and bites her lower lip. “It’s worth looking at.” She worries her lip a bit more before sitting up and tossing the file on the coffee table. “Let’s get started then. We’ve got some time lines to build. We can exclude the first two of my vics that pulled me into this case. They were habitual users and have various, unsavory ties to the community.”

“She’s the first that seems out of left field?” Dan wonders.

Kira nods. “As sick as it sounds, she might just prove to crack the case.”

“I’ll need to leave before eleven,” I state before we get started. I refuse to be late picking up Nikki.

“Yeah, she’s got to pick up her new squeeze,” Dan teases.


Why I bother telling him anything…

“Oh, who is she? What she like? When am I going to meet her?” Kira hops a little in her seat at the rapid fire questions.

I shake my head, rolling my eyes in the process. “No, no, no…” I start in.

“Nora,” she starts to whine.

“No.” I cut her off.

Or try to. “Why do you always do this? It’s not like we’re going to break out the photos of you in middle school. But if you like her…and you obviously do, ‘cause you haven’t mentioned anything and you’re not telling me anything but ‘no’. We all know what that means.” Her voice gets a little higher the longer she talks, much like when she was eight and realized that her whining in that tone got us all to give her what she wanted so we didn’t have to hear it anymore.

This time though…

“It’s not serious,” I tell her.

“Bullshit,” Dan and her say at the same time.

My partner’s jaw works as he thinks something through. “She’s a stripper.”

“Shut your fucking mouth, Harney,” I warn, with enough venom to get my intent clear.

“No.” He folds his arms over his chest and rocks back in his chair. “I can’t tell if you’re protective of her ‘cause you’re falling for her or you’re embarrassed about her.”

“I will shoot you.” I don’t want to get into this.

“Sis,” Kira tries a softer approach, her left hand squeezes my right thigh. I cut a gaze in her direction to see her come to a conclusion. “She likes her.”

“Shut it.” I take her hand off my thigh and toss it in her lap.

“You’ve gotten this way about only two people, Michelle and Katy. We only knew Michelle long enough to say she was a manipulative witch, but Katy…I swear mom and dad took your split harder than you,” Kira reminds me.

“Look,” I grind out, “regardless of history, Nikki and I very clear about what we are and are not. Since we are clear it’s not serious, introducing her to any of you won’t be happening.” I direct my gaze to Dan and stab a finger at him. “And you, Daniel Michael Harney, need to shut the fuck up about things you don’t understand. You may be shallow enough to feel embarrassment about someone’s line of work. I’m not. It’s her choice.”

“Okay,” Kira puts her hands up between me and my partner, “no fighting tonight. We’ve got other work to focus on and I’ll make sure you get out of here in time to pick your friend.”

“Hey,” I greet Geno as I walk up to the back of the club. Him and another bouncer watch over the back parking lot. Nikki said they do it every night as the place is shut down. Nikki said they’re one of the only clubs she’s worked where the manager’s decent enough to make sure the women he employbs are safe when they leave.

“Nora, right?” he smiles at me and gives a small nod to the other guy who moves along down the building to start a short patrol down the back alley.

“Yep,” I say and stuff my hands in the pockets of my jacket.

“Nik’s just finishing up. Quiet night.” He looks me over, trying to figure out what, I’m not sure. Considering we’re almost eye level it’s a little comical.

I bob my head. “She said as much in the text I got earlier.”

“Hmm,” he hums. “You’re the first that Nikki’s done this with, you know. I hope…”

I hold a hand up to stop him. “She said you were a good guy. I get it.”

He ducks his head, but says, “It’s pretty cool of you, though. She’s a good woman. Messed up a bit, but…”

“Aren’t we all?” I respond with a need to defend her.

“That’s not what I meant,” he stops and licks his lips. “I’ve seen a few come and go, try to date some of my girls. All of ‘em end up getting tossed on their ear inside the first week. They step in here,” he hooks a thumb over his shoulder towards the bar, “acting like they own it. You’ve been in and out of here a dozen times and you’re just as respectful and patient as you would be if she did some bullshit office job.”

He shrugs, scans the parking lot, and finishes, “It’s good for her. Good to know that people are capable of it.”

“Capable of what?” Nikki asks as she steps from the door to our left.

We both shake our head in response to the question.

Geno grunts and looks back at me. “Have a good night, Nora.”

I dip my chin in understanding, then watch him walk off towards the other end of the lot for a quick sweep.

Nikki’s smile is still questioning, but I grin at her, trying to stop anything further being asked about the interrupted conversation. I don’t think Geno would like Nikki knowing I just got the equivalent of a ‘hurt her and you’ll be sorry’ speech from her boss.

“Hey, sug,” she purrs molding her front to mine. I pucker up accepting the kiss being offered. Her hands fist the opposite sides of my jacket as she pulls me closer to deepen the kiss.

I stop her though, pull back a little and explain, “As much fun as P.D.A. can be with you, I’d like to get us home. More fun things to do. Clothing is entirely your choice though.”

“Hmm,” she hums as she releases me. “I like the way you think.”

I lace her left hand with my right to lead her towards my car when another pulls right up behind my El Camino.

Nikki’s hand slips free from mine and she says, “Give me a second.”

Curious, my head tilts to the side as I watch her approach the lank, black man exiting the car. They’re far enough way that I can’t make out what they’re saying, but Nikki’s posture tells me she’s familiar with him.

The hug they share makes me wonder how familiar they are.

Maybe it’s best if I just not know. Rolling my shoulders, I get to my car and pull the door open. The interior is warm and chases the slight chill of the night air away. My fingers drum along the steering wheel as I cast a look in my rearview mirror.

I’m usually pretty good about most things. Especially when I’m off duty.

What I see happen in the mirror makes me sick.

Nikki and Darius are huddled close enough together to think they’re lovers having an exchange. And they may not be lovers, the envelop she passes him as he slips a crumpled paper bag in her purse is most definitely an exchange.

My jaw clenches as I come to the conclusions being presented to me.

I watch her lean over and peck his cheek before spinning on her three inch heels to head my way. I let her slip in the car and buckle up. The pads of my fingers drum along the steering wheel as I make very short work of the distance between her place and the club.

As I pull in front of her duplex, she asks, “Nora?”

The entire car ride was silent. I’m sure she knows something’s not right.

“Something happen?” She slips the safety belt free and slides to the center of the bench seat. I shy away from her touch and press against the door.

“I don’t think I should come up tonight,” I tell her. The first words I’ve spoken since the parking lot.

“What? Nora, don’t be silly,” she tries.

“Look in the glove compartment,” I tell her, my voice lower and scratchier than I’d like. I had planned to tell her, eventually, when it seemed like the right time, but now…

I hear the latch release on the compartment and the routine sliding of my gun tumbling out. She catches it in her hands, her reflexes cat quick.

“You…” she trails off looking at the item in her hand and then at me.

“I’m a cop. Didn’t think it would be a huge deal when I told you, it’s not something I tell people I’m dating casually. It either scares them off or they get too curious and I get uncomfortable,” I try to explain. “But I saw you, with him,” the accusation, clear. “I’m usually pretty good at looking the other way if I’m off duty, especially if it’s little stuff, but Nikki…” I lick my lips and finally look at her.

Her face is blank. I’m sure if I could have more time with her, get to know her a bit more, she’d have a tell. Right now, I can’t tell if she’s pissed or scared or indifferent.

I need her to understand though, “I can’t look the other way with what I saw though.” I never really thought to consider her using. It just seemed…

Silly and out of character for her.


I’ve seen exchanges like that more than I can count.

“I won’t.” I tell her as I twist my hands around the steering wheel.

She says nothing as she stuffs the gun back in the glove box and slams it closed. She doesn’t look back as she throws herself from the car and scurries up to her apartment.

I wait, watching until I see a light come on in her apartment. Then I lash out, cracking my fist against the hard dash of my baby. The first burns and numbs. The second is a little wet and very painful, but satisfying.

Just fuck me.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
Dang :( That put a crimp in their relationship!! How is Nikki going to respond, after she has time to think about it.

Waiting for more :)
Apr. 22nd, 2013 02:21 pm (UTC)
Drugs do that with most... :0/

Apr. 17th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
Love it! Cliff hanger!!! What is Nikki going to do? What is Nora? The mystery of them coming from two different places in life then they were in the pilot is so refreshing! You just don't know what's what!

Eagerly waiting for the next update!

(I think I used too many ! in this comment......oh well, go big and silly or go home!!! ;p )

Apr. 22nd, 2013 02:21 pm (UTC)
Good to know you like cliff hangers, you'll love next chapter...thank you!!!
Apr. 19th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I hope this doesn't hurt their relationship maybe Nikki will take this opportunity help Nora with her case once she realize she was there that night. I have a feeling that is Nikki's lipstick at the crime scene.
Apr. 22nd, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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