Dana’s Malakim pt 21-24

Part 21

The Hashmalim
Monday, February 23rd, 1998

When Dana arrived at dinner, which was served out on the deck, she was surprised to see a small wrapped box sitting next to her plate. She picked it up and walked over to where her partner was leaning against the railing. “Nicole, after everything you’ve done, you certainly didn’t have to get me anything.”

The blonde smiled. “That’s not from me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s from your mother. I managed to sneak in and meet with her for a couple of minutes, to let her know you were alright. She gave that to me to give to you for your birthday.”

Dana didn’t even think about it, she simply threw her arms around her partner’s neck and gave her a hug. “Thank you,” she said softly, her voice full of gratitude and joy.

“You’re welcome,” Nicole replied returning the hug.

After a few moments they parted and Dana opened the pre­sent to reveal a beautiful bracelet.

They enjoyed a wonderful dinner and a relaxing evening together. When Nicole asked Tommy where Max was, she was told Max had left the boat to open up, provision, and prepare the villa for them.

“Which villa?”

“The one here on Providenciales,” he answered as he refilled their wine glasses.

Nicole smirked at Dana who shrugged. “I decided I liked it here. The weather’s perfect, the water’s beautiful. Why go anywhere else?”

The blonde chuckled. “I agree. It is beautiful here.” She looked over at Tommy. “Would you ask Captain Tully to weigh anchor and lay in a course to take us to the villa?”

“Of course.” He got off the phone to the bridge. “The captain says we’ll be underway in a couple of minutes. He was anticipating your request.”

Sure enough, less than 90 seconds later they felt the boat begin to move.


Providenciales, Caicos Islands

About an hour after getting underway the Hashmalim once again dropped anchor. Tommy and Les prepared the launch and shortly after that they took the two women to the pier.

The sight that greeted them was stunning. Max had the villa lit up, including the pool lights.

“It’s beautiful,” Dana said.

“Good choice,” Nicole said with a smile.

They walked up the beach and up the walkway over the raised ridge of rocky landscaping leading to the infinity pool. Then they walked over the bridge over one end of the pool. Max opened the patio door and admitted them.

“Good evening. Please allow me to you show around the villa.”

When they came to what was expected to be the second bedroom suite, they found a very well furnished workout room. Nicole arched an eyebrow at Max behind Dana. But it was Dana who actually spoke.

“I thought this was a two bedroom villa.”

“It is, or rather, was, Miss Dana. This sec­ond suite, as you can see, was just recently converted. I do apologize for any inconvenience. If you would prefer, you may, of course, choose a different villa.”

“Oh, no. I didn’t mean it like that. There’s no need to go anywhere else,” Dana spoke as they exited into the huge common room. “This is beautiful.” Dana and Nicole walked into the master suite. “You don’t mind sharing, do you?” she asked the blonde to make sure.

“I don’t if you don’t.”

Both women changed and settled in for the night.


Tuesday, February 24th, 1998

Nicole woke up in the morning and slipped out of bed. She decided to let her partner sleep in for a while. She grabbed a change of clothes and headed into the bathroom. Once changed, she went out through the great room and onto the patio. She looked at the small package Maggie had given her the other day. She didn’t know why, but for some reason she felt embarrassed by the gesture. She opened the small package and smiled at the small cross dangling from a fine gold chain. It looked just like the one that Dana always wore.


When Dana got up she found her partner fixing breakfast.

“Good morning. You’re just in time. What would you like in your omelet?”

“Just make mine like yours.”

“You got it.” A couple of minutes later Nicole placed a plate full of a huge omelet in front of the redhead. She also put a bowl of cut up fresh fruit and a glass of orange juice in front of her. She sat at the stool adjacent to Dana’s with the same fare. “Go ahead and dig in.”

“Do you really expect me to eat all of this?”

The blonde just grinned and started in on her own meal.

Dana took a bite of her omelet. “Mmmm, this is good!”

“Glad you like it.”

When she took a drink of her orange juice she gave the blonde a surprised look. “Mimosas?”

Nicole smiled again and shrugged a little. “It’s vacation.” And there’s a lot to celebrate – you’re alive, Dana. The cancer is completely gone and the Consortium will never be able to hurt you again.

They finished their breakfast (Dana ate all of hers) and Nicole started washing their dishes. She dried her hands when she was done. She looked at Dana a moment in thought. She then grabbed a bottle of wine, a corkscrew and a couple of glasses. “Come on, let’s talk. You have questions and it’s time you got answers,” she said on the way to the living room area of the huge common area. She set the wine and glasses down on the large square coffee table before going to the wall facing the patio. She hit a switch that withdrew the pocket panels to open up the 25-foot glass section of the wall. She then rejoined Dana on one of the couches and uncorked the wine.

“It’s a little early, don’t you think?”

“It’s up to you.” Nicole poured herself a glass and sat back.

Dana just looked at her a few moments at first. Then she finally spoke. “I’m not sure where to begin.”

“Why don’t you just ask me a question and I answer it? We can go from there.”

“Okay… You said the uh… the Cigarette Smoking Man was dead?”


“Are you sure? He’s… well, I wouldn’t put it past him to somehow fake his death.”

“He’s definitely dead. He killed himself in front of me.”


“That was the choice he made. He chose that over facing up to his many crimes.”

“As if that would have ever happened.”

“It would have and he knew it. I confronted him with the evidence needed to ensure it. Clarence Gaines Bradley Spender, former State Department employee and major Consortium player was, in the end, a coward.” She took a drink from her glass. “I was there, Dana, he is dead.”

She just sat there for a few moments absorbing the news. “What kind of evidence?”

The blonde set her glass down, stood up, and walked into the bedroom. She returned with an expandable file holder that appeared to be pushing its limit of expandability. She removed the two large bands holding it closed and withdrew a folder, handing it to Dana. “This is an outline of what we dug up on CGB Spender: his early career and partnership with William Mulder in the State Department, his affair with his partner’s wife, his associations with Nazi scientists the government co-opted after the war, and many of his activities on behalf of and as a member of the Consortium. Activities which include authorizing the compromise of AD Walter Skinner and the method used, his actions as the handler of Section Chief Blevins and Assistant Director Kersh, both on the Consortium payroll, and personally coming up with and supervising the little science project that was devised specifically to deal with you.”

Dana skimmed through the file. She was stunned by how much information her partner seemed to have dug up on the mysterious man.

Nicole pulled out a second, thicker, folder. “This is just some of the evidence we have to backup what’s in that file – documents, signatures, photographs, transcripts of recorded conversations, interoffice memos, classified files, and so on.”

The redhead suddenly moved forward and poured herself a full glass of wine. She took a couple of very large gulps before setting the glass down. “How? How the hell did you get all this?”

“Well, it was mostly Thea who did it. If anything’s ever been on a computer it’s a good bet she’ll eventually be able to dig it up one way or another. She’s one of the top five hackers in the world.” Nicole sipped her wine. “Actually, I highly doubt that anyone could beat her ability when it comes to hacking. She simply has skills none of the others do. I’d bet anything there’s not a system she couldn’t get into if she really needed to.”

Dana was quiet as she sifted through the material on Spen­der. She stopped when she got to the documentation about what had been done to her. There were transcripts of conversations discussing what was to be done about her. It showed how Spender was responsible for proposing she be used as the first test subject in one of their new projects that he’d suggested and just gotten approval to start – to attempt to bioengineer a DNA-specific agent that would produce cancer in the targeted subject. It also included the transcript of the meeting after Mulder’s suicide where the Leader had suggested letting her get well, but Spender persuaded the group it was best to just let her die. She finished her glass of wine and refilled it.

Nicole watched her partner, gauging her mood. “I know it’s a lot to take in.”

She nodded. Finally, she spoke. “If I hadn’t been through the last few years I’d find this all too incredible to believe. Unfortunately, I know otherwise.”

“Do you want to know more?”

“Yes. I’m so tired of being lied to and of being manipulated and used.”

Nicole nodded in understanding. “Alright.” She opened up the expandable file again and pulled out another file. “This is the de facto leader of the Consortium.”

Dana opened the file and looked at the name and picture on the first page. “Oh, my god. He’s…”

“Yes. Now you know just how deep, and how high up, their reach goes. Or rather, went.”

She skimmed through the file. “My god, the names he named…” She looked up at her partner again. “Why would he voluntarily give up other members of the Consortium and those they controlled?”

“Because I interrogated him nonstop for almost three days.” It was Nicole’s turn to suddenly empty her wineglass and refill it with the last of what was in the bottle.

“That was where you went when you left the boat for three days. When you came back…” Dana reached out a hand, placed it on her partner’s arm and gave it gentle squeeze, “you were so upset, you worked out and ran for hours…”

The blonde took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “It was a very… distasteful and disturbing experience. But it verified much of what we already knew, and filled in what we didn’t.”

“Who’s ‘we’?”

“Thea and Ian both went above and beyond in helping me. Thea obviously did a lot of digging around with her computer. Ian handled surveillance and provided access when a physical presence was needed – especially when I wasn’t available.”

Dana gestured to the expandable file holder. “You obviously have files on more than just these two,” she said in reference to the men they’d already discussed.

The blonde nodded. “This contains reports on each of the members of the controlling council of the Consortium. It’s yours to find whatever answers you need.” Nicole handed the overly full file to her partner. “I have the raw data secured where no one can get to it.”

The redhead knew she couldn’t go through all of it in one sitting. It was just too overwhelming. She found the magnitude of what her partner was handing over to her to be indescribable. “How long?”


“How long have you been doing this? You couldn’t have done all this just since we left DC. How long?” she asked quietly, not sure if she really wanted to know. If she’s been do­ing this the whole time then… Then what? Does that mean she was sent? If so, by whom? And if she was sent, who does she answer to? Can I trust her? Oh, God! Who else is going try to control and manipulate my life?!

The next thing Dana knew, she was looking up into her partner’s beautiful, concerned-filled, green eyes. Her shoulders were supported by the blonde’s arm and her head was cradled against Nicole’s chest. She could hear Nicole’s heartbeat under her left ear.

“That’s it, breathe easy, Dana, breathe easy.”

She felt the support of an arm come out from under her knees as her partner gently set her on one of the couches. She missed the comfort and warmth of the blonde’s heartbeat and closeness as Nicole replaced her arm with a pillow and pulled back to kneel next to her.

The blonde checked her forehead for a fever, then tenderly brushed hair away from her face. “How do you feel?”

Even feeling a little fuzzy, Dana couldn’t miss the concern in her partner’s eyes and voice. “What happened?”

“You asked me how long I’d been gathering info on the Consortium. Before I could answer, you stood up suddenly and fainted.” Nicole frowned, “I think it would be a good idea to have you checked out.”

Dana started to sit up. “No, no. I’m fine, Nicole.”

“I’m a little concerned; that’s the second time in two days, Dana.” Nicole moved up to sit on the couch next to her partner.

She took a deep breath and let it out. “I just… it’s stupid really.”


“I let my thoughts run away with me, and I… well, I forgot to breathe. It’s out of character for me, to be so… out of control, but it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. Re­member, the doctor checked me out just a couple of days ago. Besides, I am a doctor.”

Nicole let out a snort. “You were winning your argument until that statement,” she said chuckling.

Dana looked at her in surprise, but then smiled and chuckled with her. “So, ‘I’m a doctor’ isn’t going to work with you?”

She shook her head. “Uh uh. Not when you use it in an effort to convince me you’re okay. Doctors are the worst patients.” She paused. “Okay, I’ll let it go for now, but don’t be surprised or upset if I have someone take a look at you soon – just to make sure you’re still where you should be as far as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. Especially since I don’t know how long it’ll be before it’s safe to take you back. The cancer may be gone, but your body is still recovering systemically. I want to keep you on the road of recovery and not have any unnecessary setbacks. I’m sure you want that as well,” she finished up with a challenge in her tone and the arch of an eyebrow.

The redhead nodded, deciding not to argue the point.

“Well, I think we ought to take a break. As I said, I know it’s a lot to take in. I’m not going anywhere; you can ask more questions later.”

“Will you answer the one about how long you’ve been digging into the Consortium?”

Nicole looked her partner straight in the eye. “Since I came to DC. Remem­ber, I read all the files in the office, and I spoke to Skinner before I met you. I wasn’t exactly clueless when I was assigned to work with you.”

“Skinner! Oh, my god, what about Skinner?!”

“What do you mean?”

“The files said he was compromised by the Consortium, he’s been–”

Was, Dana. Past tense. Walter Skinner is a good man. He made a difficult choice and has been free and clear of their influence for a while now.”

I wish he’d told me, the redhead thought to herself. But then she recalled what he had said to her the day she found out Nicole was her new partner.

“I can’t trust anyone… sir.”

“I know you believe that, but you can trust me and–”

“With respect, sir, I know you are sometimes… not the one in charge.”

“That has been true… but things change.”

She shook her head. He told me he was his own man again – I just didn’t realize it.

Nicole could see that her partner was thinking. “If you’re okay, I’m going to work out for a bit then probably take a dip in the pool. Is there anything I can get for you?”

“No. But I do think I’ll take a nap, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not. You are on vacation after all,” she replied with a smile.

Both women headed into the bedroom. Dana lay down on the oversized bed while the blonde quickly changed into a pair of shorts and half-tank top. Nicole then headed to the opposite wing of the villa to the workout room.


When she was done with her workout, the blonde quietly, so as not to awaken her partner, slipped into the bedroom and retrieved her swimsuit. She changed in the bathroom and took a dip in the pool. She then decided to just relax poolside and take in the cool breeze and warm sun. She stretched out on one of the provided lounges. This is nice. I don’t remember the last time I simply took a vacation and relaxed. A small smile took up residence on her face and stayed.

Her phone rang. “Logan.”

It was Captain Tully calling just to touch base and make sure everything was alright.

She assured him everything was fine, but she did have a question for him. “Why did you suggest this villa to Dana, Tully?”

“She was having difficulty choosing and indicated how much she enjoyed it here. And she didn’t want the need for additional security. Besides, with the Hashmalim anchored here, the equip­ment for jet-skiing, sailing, diving, and fishing are just minutes away.”

“The weather and water here in the Caribbean are wonderful, but the Dominican Villa offers more than this one does – especially more actual beach. The Hashmalim could have had us there in less than a day. So, spit it out, Tully – what was your real reason?”

He let out a soft sigh. “It did not escape my notice that while the Hashmalim provided a number of cabins, you chose to sleep in the office adjoining the master suite whenever you were aboard. Nor did I miss the effect of your absence on Miss Dana. While I believe under normal circumstances she is undoubtedly a very strong and independent person, she is still recovering – emotionally as well as physically. Staying here, with the second suite converted, provides a reason for you to stay in the same room. Staying in another villa with several bedrooms would not provide such proximity without one of you requesting it – something I believe neither of you would have done.”

“I see.”

“Did I err and overstep my bounds?”

“No, it’s okay, Tully.” She hung up.

It was only a couple of minutes later when Dana, wearing her own swimsuit, joined the blonde on the patio. “How’s the water?”

“Nice. You ought to check it out for yourself.” Nicole smiled as she heard her partner slip into the pool.

A little while later Dana exited the pool and moved to the loung­er next to the blonde’s. “You’re going to get burned if you’re not careful.”

“Nah. I’m fine.”

“Must be nice. I wish I didn’t have to worry about burning.”

Nicole picked up a jar from the ground and set it on the small table between their loungers. “Use that lotion and you won’t burn.” She smirked, “You may even manage to get a tan.”

The redhead scoffed at her partner in mock anger. “Are you saying I’m pale?”

“I just call them like I see them.”

They both chuckled. Dana opened the jar of lotion and applied some. She then stretched out on the lounger on her stomach. “Would you put some on my back?”

“Sure.” Nicole sat up and moved to sit on the edge on Dana’s lounger. She put some lotion on her hands and began to rub it on her partner’s back. She made sure to get under the thin strap of Dana’s top. “Did you get the back of your legs?”

“No. Do you mind?”

“Not at all.” She put some more lotion on her hands and made sure Dana’s legs were completely protected. “There you go, paleface,” she quipped when she was done.

The redhead managed to playfully smack Nicole before she got out of reach. They both laughed.

The blonde lay back down on her lounger. “God, I can’t remember the last time I actually took a vacation and just relaxed like this,” she said with a smile looking over at her partner.

Dana returned her smile. “I know what you mean. And I certainly never took a vacation with my partner before.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Nicole! I’m not complaining. I enjoy your company. And I’ve never been on a vacation with a partner before, because I never wanted to. There’s no way I would have been able to stand taking a vacation with Mulder. We were partners and we relied on each other. I would even say we were friends, but it never really translated outside of work. Whenever we spent time together outside of the office, it was inevitably to review files or discuss a case. Without work we would have never had anything in common, or even to talk about,” she finished with a shrug.

“Well I’m glad you haven’t gotten sick of me yet,” Nicole responded with a smile.

“Not yet anyway,” Dana quipped in return.

They both relaxed by the pool and enjoyed the sunshine.

After a bit the redhead turned over onto her back. She looked over at her partner who appeared truly relaxed as she stretched and turned onto her stomach. Yes, I enjoy your company, Nicole. You’re one of the kindest people I’ve met. No more second guessing myself. Everything you’ve said and done… you’ve gone way above and beyond in proving yourself trustworthy. I’m going to follow my own instincts and judgment, and everything in me says to trust you, complete­ly. You’re my partner and my friend; I couldn’t ask for better. I can count on you and you can count on me.


Part 22

Providenciales, Caicos Islands
Friday, February 27th, 1998

As the days passed the two women spent time relaxing and playing. They did some sailing, snorkeling, fishing, and diving. Nicole was ever vigilant, keeping an eye on her partner, making sure the redhead didn’t over-tire herself, whether they were playing, or Dana was working out in the fitness room. Even so, she still wanted a doctor to check her partner out.

Nicole made sure she had the medical supplies necessary then settled herself on one of the cushions in the gazebo set down toward the beach from the patio. She closed her eyes and concentrated. She reached out with her mind and soul. When she opened her eyes Ariel’s misty form coalesced in front of her. She immediately smiled.

“Hello, Nicole.”

“Hey, Ariel. Are you busy?”

The angel smiled as she took a seat on a cushion. “You know if I was, I wouldn’t have been able to join you.” She took in a deep breath of the fresh sea air and gazed at the beautiful waterscape before them. “It’s beautiful here.”

“Yes it is.”

Ariel turned back to her dear friend. “What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to see you. I miss you, Ariel.”

Ariel reached up and tenderly caressed the blonde’s cheek. “I’d love to spend some time with you.” She leaned in and placed a tender kiss on Nicole’s other cheek. Pulling back, Ariel smiled and then tapped the tip of the blonde’s nose with her finger, “But that’s not the reason you called me here, my dear.” She sat back.

“I didn’t lie to you.”

“I know that, Nicole. But there is an additional reason you’ve asked me here,” she said affectionately.

Nicole nodded. “I want to ask you to do a quick checkup on Dana.”

“How has she been doing?”

“Good. I just want to make sure it stays that way. I don’t know how much longer it’ll be before it’s safe to take her home, and she fainted on me a couple times a few days ago.” Before Ariel could say anything Nicole cut her off. “I have everything you need.”

Ariel smiled. “I should have known. Well, where is she?”

“She’s inside. But we don’t have to go in right away… unless you’re short on time. She’s asleep.” The blonde smiled, “So you see, I could have waited to contact you, but I really do want to spend some time with you, Ariel. We haven’t had a chance to talk in a long time.”

The angel reached out and gently rubbed her thumb back and forth above Nicole’s brows. “You’ve been thinking too much. Haven’t you?”

“Why do you know me so well?”

“Because you don’t shield yourself from me.” When Nicole gave her a small smile Ariel reached out and squeezed her hand. “It’s okay, sweetie, it’s what friends are for. Now lie down on your stomach and undo your top.”

Nicole looked at her, clearly surprised. “What?”

Ariel smirked, “Malakim or not, if your mind has been working overtime I know your neck and back are paying for it. Now move,” she finished in her doctor tone.

The blonde nodded and smiled. She spread her towel out and lay down as Ariel instructed. “Ow,” she exclaimed as her friend’s hands zeroed in on knotted muscles with the precision of a surgeon.

“I thought so.” Once Ariel could tell Nicole’s muscles were starting to loosen up she prodded her, “Okay, sweetie, now talk to me. What’s got you so preoccupied?”

Nicole took a deep breath and let it out. “Once it’s safe to take Dana back home, I will have completed all the objectives of my assignment.”

“Ahhh, I see. So you’ll be moving on soon. Any idea where you’ll go next? Back to Europe perhaps?”

“I don’t know,” she replied softly.

“Any preference?” Ariel’s question was met with silence. “Nicole?” She still didn’t get a response, so she dug into a knot­ted muscle a little harder than necessary which made the blonde flinch.

“Damn, take it easy, Ariel.”

“Just making sure I’ve got your attention,” she quipped light­ly. She then massaged the same muscle soothingly. “So, what’s your preference, Nicole?”

There was no mistaking the heavy emotion in her shaky and whispered answer. “I don’t want to go anywhere.” A silent tear also ran down her face and into the towel.

“So don’t.”

“It’s not that simple. You know that. My duty–”

“Is something you’ve never turned away from. And yes, you are needed, Nicole. But Europe doesn’t have a monopoly on evil or monsters. You can find plenty of both in the States. Don’t you think it’s time you tried something a little different, something new… a new challenge?”

“A new challenge? Like what?”

“Well, like not always going it alone, working with someone, having a partner.”

“I have had a partner, Ariel. Dana and I have worked several cases together… until she almost died. And I had Thea and Ian helping me since then. In fact, without their help I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish my objectives. So I’m not exactly a stranger to working with others.”

“You are if it’s a more permanent situation – like officially being assigned a partner – a long term partner.” Ariel paused. “But then again, you may not be able to handle any kind of long term arrangement. It just may not be in your nature to settle down in one spot long enough to commit to anything beyond one mission at a time,” she said, attempting some reverse psychology on her friend.

“I know what you’re doing, Ariel. The problem is, you may be more right than you think. It very well may be beyond my capacity to commit… to anything long term. And maybe as a Malakim it’s best that it’s not in my nature.”

“Damn it, Nicole, I didn’t mean that and you know it!” Ariel stopped her massage. “Look at me. Look at me!”

The blonde turned over and looked up at her.

“You are one of the most caring, courageous, and sensitive souls I’ve ever known, but you can also be so… so… AHHRRG!” Ariel took a couple deep breaths and let them out. Then she spoke in a low, even tone, intent on getting through to her friend. “Nicole, when it comes to your duty and responsibilities, and facing down whatever monsters or evil are in your path, you don’t question your ability, you do what you have to, no matter what.”

“Which makes me either brave or foolish, or both. But I knew that was part of being a Malakim.”

“So why do you hesitate so much where humans are concerned? And I don’t mean victims – you are exceptionally sensitive and caring with them.”

“I know what to do with monsters. It’s easy. People… people are hard.”

“Yet you sense and intuit their needs, their feelings, their very souls even.”

Nicole swallowed a lump in her throat and tears began to sting behind her eyes. “They hurt.”

Ariel let out a quiet sigh. “Yes, we all do. But that’s not all we feel.”

The blonde let out a shaky breath as tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. “That’s not what I mean.” Her chin began to tremble as she fought to hold back more tears. She thumped her breastbone with the heel of her hand twice, “They hurt here.” She broke down into quiet sobs.

Ariel scooped the crying woman into her arms and held her close. Even as an angel, Ariel never fully understood, until that moment, how big a price her friend really paid. Tears of understanding and sorrow silently flowed down her cheeks, even as she held and gave solace to the woman in her arms.

It was some time before Nicole was cried out. Her eyes felt raw and her nose was stuffy. They had shifted about a bit so Ariel was leaning against a cushion, while Nicole sat between her legs, curled into her, her ear resting over Ariel’s heart. Ariel continued to hold her close, murmuring quietly, rubbing her back and occasionally kissing the top of her head.

Even as she comforted the woman in her arms, Ariel’s heart and soul sent up a plea of her own. Hasn’t she done enough? Hasn’t she given enough?! She’s always done her duty, and more. She’s done all you’ve ever asked of her! Doesn’t she deserve better?!


Then why?

{If one does not know pain and sorrow, how can one know pleasure and joy? There can be no light without the dark.}

She’s had more than enough pain, it’s time she had peace.


Then let me–

{You must not interfere. Malakim or not, she is still human – her path is her own to walk, her choices her own to make. Free will, Guardian Angel, free will.}

Ariel bit her tongue at the admonishment. It was times like this she struggled with her own nature and that of being a Guardian Angel.

{Trust in her to follow her path and find her place. She is, indeed, a blessed soul.}

The softened addendum took the sting out of the earlier rebuke.

What of her partner? Let me at least watch over her.


Ariel felt her anger and frustration mounting again. She knew if she could watch over Dana, that it would give Nicole at least some peace of mind wherever she ended up.

{She is also a blessed soul.}

The woman in her arms began to move, drawing Ariel’s full attention after the quiet explanation. Arms encircled her waist and gave her a squeeze as Nicole uncurled a bit. Ariel cocked her head and looked down at the woman cradled to her chest.

“Thank you,” she whispered, her voice roughened from tears.

Ariel smiled affectionately. “You’re more than welcome. As I said, it’s what friends are for.” She lightly kissed the blonde’s forehead. “Unless I miss my guess, I’d say that’s been building for a while.”

“More than I realized, I think.” Nicole closed her eyes and listened to the heart under her ear. “It’s easier hunting monsters, their pain and sorrow can’t touch my soul the same way humans can… Working regular cases with Dana… it’s been hard. I’m a Malakim, Ariel, not a Guardian Angel, a hunter, not a caregiver.”


The unexpected response made the blonde open her eyes and look up at her friend in confusion.

“I know how caring and giving you are. You don’t hesitate to help those who need your help. You don’t do that because it’s your duty – many times it isn’t. You help because you genu­inely care and want to. If that’s not a caregiver then I don’t know what is.” She caressed Nicole’s cheek. “And don’t for­get, Malakim or not, you are still human, my dear, with human wants, needs, and emotions. Don’t forget to take care of the one person that’s the most dependent on you – you.”

“So what should I do?”

“I can’t tell you that. You have choices, only you can make them. I trust that you’ll find the right path. I believe in you.”

Nicole glanced up towards the villa, sensing her partner’s movements. “I guess it’s time to go up, Dana’s up.” She looked at Ariel’s top, stained from her tears and runny nose. “I’ve made a mess of your shirt.”

Ariel smiled. “Tears and a runny nose? I’ve been covered in a lot worse.” She waved her hand over the stains and they disappeared. “However, there are some advantages I have now, that I didn’t before,” she quipped with a twinkle in her eye. As Nicole stood Ariel smirked at her friend. “You may want to get dressed though.”

The blonde rolled her eyes as she bent to retrieve her swimsuit top. “If only I could blame the redness in my face on embarrassment,” she said referring to her red, puffy, bloodshot eyes and red, stuffy nose.

As soon as Nicole had her swimsuit top back in place Ariel stood, reached out, and gently cupped the blonde’s face in her hands. They stood close, mere inches apart, as Ariel tenderly ran her thumbs over Nicole’s eyelids, down her nose and across her cheeks. “There, easily taken care of as well.”

She smiled. “I hope that wasn’t a violation of the ‘no helping’ rule.”

Ariel returned her smile. “No.” They hugged.

Nicole turned her face into Ariel’s hair. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“You’re welcome.”

They pulled back far enough to rest their foreheads together, without letting go of each other.

“I love you, Ariel. You’ll always have a special place in my heart.”

“I love you, too. I always will, Nicole. I’m so thankful to still be able to be here for you in some tangible way.”

“You’re going to start me crying again,” she replied with a smile.

They kissed lightly on the lips and hugged again.



When Dana awoke, the first thing she noticed was Nicole’s absence. The second thing was the time. It was almost afternoon. She and her partner had been up most of the night talking and laughing after a day of sailing and snorkeling. Out on the sailboat Dana fondly spoke of her father and their relationship. She had forgotten just how much she enjoyed the water. It was something she and her father shared, even more than her brothers, even though they went on to follow his footsteps and join the Navy. It had always been Dana that truly loved the water as her father had.

The redhead had already known her partner lost her mother when she was young, and that she loved her grandmother, but the previous night her partner had shared several personal and intimate stories about her grandmother and their relationship. From there they had touched on many things, finding things in common, and appreciating their differences.

She went into the bathroom and went through her morning routine. She put on her swimsuit, noting that Nicole’s was already absent. They hadn’t made any plans for the day, but a dip in the pool was a given. She exited the master suite to find the glass wall already open, but she didn’t see her partner. She walked to the opening to verify the blonde wasn’t in the pool. From there she went into the other suite that had been converted to a fitness room. She still didn’t find Nicole. Then something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She opened the sliding door and stepped out onto the patio.

Nicole was in the gazebo. Dana could see her blonde hair as she sat up. She took a single step before being stopped by the sight of Nicole standing up… without her suit on, well at least without her top. It’s not like I haven’t seen her before, especially sharing a room these last few days, but damn, she really is beautiful. She’s not self-conscious about her body – not that she has reason to be – but she really doesn’t realize just how great a body she has. Beautiful, without knowing she’s beautiful… which of course makes her all the more attractive.

She didn’t want to get caught staring, but was once again stopped by what she saw. As soon as Nicole put her top back on, another woman stood up into view! She was a brunette about her partner’s height. She watched as the woman reached up and tenderly took Nicole’s face in both her hands. They were standing so close. Then they hugged…

No, they’re embracing. It’s obvious they care a great deal about one another. The way they’re resting their foreheads together, standing there so closely embraced, talking quietly, it’s so… intimate. And that was definitely a kiss, she thought as she watched the two women kiss and then embrace a few more moments.

Well, I guess that answers a few questions. So yes, Nicole is at least bisexual, and no, she’s not interested in me. Dana took a deep breath. But we are friends and partners, and she can count on me to support her in her personal life as well as at work.

Dana saw her partner and the other woman move arm in arm from the gazebo. She wanted to go inside so they would­n’t know she’d witnessed their private moment, but then Nicole waved and shot her a bright smile. The other wo­man smiled as well. She watched as the two approached. The other woman was actually very attractive. She had a pretty smile and the form-fitting t-shirt and shorts she wore certainly attested to her fit figure. She exuded an aura of authority even from a distance. And if you love her, Nicole, as it appears you do, then I’m sure she’s a wonderful woman.

“Hey, Dana. How did you sleep?” Nicole asked.

She smiled. “Like a log.”

“Dana, I’d like you to meet Ariel. Ariel, this is Dana.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Dana said with a smile as they shook hands.

“It’s nice to meet you, too.”

The redhead noticed Ariel’s expressive brown eyes. They seemed warm and friendly, and her smile was infectious.

“Have you eaten yet, Dana?” Nicole asked.

“No. I just got up actually.”

The blonde smiled at the woman with whom she still stood arm in arm. “Would you like to join us for a late breakfast, Ariel?”

She arched an eyebrow playfully. “Very late. What have you been up to?” she asked.

“Well, we went sailing and snorkeling yesterday, then stayed up most of the night talking.”

“And I’ll just bet you had some of that great Bordeaux, too, huh?”

“Nope. Don’t have any here.”

“I don’t believe you. You’ve been hiding out on a luxury yacht and this paradise island, with nothing to do but relax and have fun, and you’re trying to tell me you haven’t managed to buy, or bring from your own wine cellar, your favorite wine?”

“That’s right.”

“Then you’re a pod-person and I want to know where the real Nicole is. Or, you’re holding out on me,” she said with a bit of a warning tone.


“We’ll see. I have ways of making you talk.”

Nicole lost her smile and momentarily looked flummoxed. Then she smiled and stepped out of Ariel’s encircling arm. She led the way inside – quickly. Funny how leading seemed like a retreat.

“I’ll set another place for breakfast.”

Dana easily picked up on the playfulness in the exchange between her partner and Ariel. It made her smile to see the couple interact in such an easy way.

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Anything’s fine with me,” Dana responded.

“I know what I want,” Ariel declared. “I want one of your omelets,” she replied.


“Yep. You make the best omelets.”

“Well you are the one who taught me how to make them.”

“Maybe, but yours are better.” She quickly cut Nicole off as she opened her mouth to protest, “Ah.” Her finger raised in emphasis. “It’s your own fault – you asked me to teach you. Now get to work, woman. Chop, chop.”

Nicole rolled her eyes and chuckled quietly as she did indeed prepare to chop ingredients for the omelets.

Ariel turned to Dana where they sat on stools at the kitchen island. “Have you had one her omelets?”

“As a matter of fact,” Dana replied smiling. “And they are delicious.”

“Well, they have improved with practice. You should have seen the first couple,” she paused half a beat, “hundred or so,” she said with a smirk.

“I heard that!” Nicole quipped from where she stood chopping at an opposite counter with her back to the two women.

“That good, huh?” Dana smiled.

“You wouldn’t believe it.”

Nicole chuckled as she returned to preparing breakfast.


After breakfast Dana found out why Ariel was there, especially when the proverbial doctor’s bag appeared. She didn’t put up much of a fuss and accepted the fact that being checked out wasn’t really a bad idea. She was impressed with Ariel the doctor. The brunette was completely professional, but gentle and caring.

As Ariel put things back in the medical bag she gave the redhead a smile. “I must say, you’ve come a long way from just a few a weeks ago. Everything appears to be normal, especially at this point in your recovery. Of course, you should have a thorough physical once you return home. I would hazard to guess you’re probably still a little anemic, although that too, will correct itself as you continue to recover. Have you been taking any supplements?”

“No.” She let a quiet huff of amusement. “Unless you count whatever Nicole’s been putting in my tea.”

Ariel’s lips curled in a small smile of understanding. “Ah. Nicole’s tea – her cure-all. Well, that will do you more good than anything else possibly could.”

“Do you know what’s in it?”

“I know her tea is an old family recipe her grandmother taught her. It has been handed down through countless generations,” she answered with a smile. “And I know it’s good for you.”

“Well, I certainly can’t complain about how she’s cared for me while I was sick. She saved my life,” Dana responded softly.

Ariel sat down near her. “She’s been more than a little worried about you, Dana. And even after you get back home and are given a completely clean bill of health, knowing Nicole, she’ll probably still be rather… protective of you. I get the feeling that’s not something you usually tolerate very well. Try not to get too upset with her if she gets a little over-pro­tec­tive on occasion. First off, it’s in her very nature to be caring and protective of those around her – it’s an elemental part of who she is. Asking her not to be would be the same as asking her not to breathe. And secondly, this has put both of you through an emotional wringer. It’ll take time for you both to completely regain your equilibrium.”

Dana let out a sigh. “You could say that again.” She paused. “Being that sick, that close to…” She took a deep breath and let it out. “I’ve changed.”

Ariel nodded in understanding.


With Dana’s approval, Ariel told Nicole how her checkup went. The redhead, thinking her partner and Ariel could use some privacy, announced she was going to go down to the beach for a bit and lay out down there. So with towel, water bottle, and lotion in hand, she left the villa.

Nicole and Ariel talked for a few minutes before the angel had to leave.

“I can’t thank you enough for today, Ariel, for listening and for checking on Dana.”

“You’re always welcome, Nicole. It was my pleasure.” They hugged. “Take care, and don’t worry quite so much about Dana – she’s okay.” With that Ariel shimmered away into the ether.


Part 23

Providenciales, Caicos Islands
Sunday, March 1st, 1998

Dana went through all the files her partner had given her on the leaders of the Consortium. Nicole also answered whatever questions the redhead had. A couple of days after Dana’s checkup, Nicole hooked up her laptop and web­cam to the large screen TV, then called Thea.


“Thea, it’s Nicole.”

“Hey! How are you doing?”

“Great. Look, I’ve got Dana here with me and I want to go over some things together. I’m set up on this end, how about you?”

“Just give me minute. You caught me just as was I getting in.”


It wasn’t long before Thea indicated she was ready. They both signed into their scrambled chat and brought up their webcams.

“Can you see me?” Thea asked.

“Sure can. And if I must say so, you look like crap. What the hell have you been up to, Thea?”

“Work. And it’s all your fault, Nicole!”

“What are you talking about?”

“The FBI brought me in to tweak my software and to personally scrub their mainframes and run searches for some people who have attempted to drop out of sight since everything’s hit the fan. I’m just getting in after about 30 straight hours of computer work.”

Nicole smirked at the image on the screen. “And you love it.”

The brunette grinned. “Yes I do. I don’t get to do this much hands on much anymore. My employees usually get all the fun. You really kicked up a shit storm this time, Nicole. Oh, sorry, no offence,” she said, apologizing to Dana for her language.

“None taken,” the redhead replied with a smile.

“By the way, you look great, Dana. Glad to see you doing better than the last time I saw you.”

“Thank you, Thea. I appreciate your help as well.”

“Not a problem.”

“Thea, I’ve given the files I printed out to Dana and she’s gone through them. I’ve also answered a number of questions for her, but can you bring us up to date on the current events?”

“Sure thing,” she responded, ready to get down to business. “Have you been checking the news at all?”

“Not in the last week. So take it from the start of the news reports.”


As Thea brought them up to date she displayed images on their TV screen – newspaper clippings, pictures, and videos – for them to see as needed. She focused on the status of the Consortium council first, then the second tier and third tier captains. She then brought them up to date on others that were complicit with the Consortium – such as Blevins and Kersh. With the evidence that she and Ian made sure got into the right hands, executives of corporations were being indicted, politicians were resigning (some were also being indict­ed), infighting with the leftovers of the Consortium were producing murders, and witnesses were turning themselves in. Of course, without knowing the whole picture, to the outside, none of it seemed connected since it was so spread out across the country and in different sectors of the public.

Thea was grinning as she came back on the screen. “Like I said, Nicole, you really kicked up a shit storm here.”

“Can’t thank you enough for your help, Thea. I better let you get some sleep. Tell the FBI not to work you quite so hard.”

She smiled again, “Actually, I completed my work for them. Except for one thing though.”


“I’m still running searches trying to locate a missing agent – Dana Scully,” she said with an amused smirk. “But, I’ve assured them I can do that from home.” Thea chuckled at the situation. She had done some searching, just to make sure there was no trace of either Nicole or Dana for anyone else to find. “There’s no sign anywhere of either one of you. So you’re safe wherever you are.”

“Thanks for the update, Thea. Now go get some sleep.”

They signed off. Nicole sat back, clearly thinking.

“What are you thinking?” Dana asked.

“That it should be safe to take you home soon. I’d say a week to ten days,” she said with a smile. “We should head back to the Hashmalim in a couple of days so we can be ready.”

Dana shook her head.


“It’s just hard to believe everything that’s happening.”

Two day later they re-boarded the Hashmalim and headed north. Dana’s strength continued improving each day as evidenced by her increased time in the gym. She also continued with the yoga and meditation she’d started at the retreat – finding it relaxing and refreshing.


The Hashmalim
Ocean City, MD
Friday, March 6th, 1998

Nicole paid close attention to the news and by the time they dropped anchor off the coast of Ocean City, MD, it was time to finalize their plans. The blonde was going to head back to DC the next morning while Dana waited on the Hashmalim until she heard from Nicole. It would look less suspicious if they didn’t return at the same time.

As soon as Nicole was ready, Tommy fired up the launch and waited for her. She and Dana said goodbye and then the launch was on its way. Once Tommy dropped her off, she rented a car and drove back to DC.


Logan’s House
Washington, DC

As she sorted through weeks of mail and listened to messages on her answering machine, she moved through her home, dropping her bag of clothes in the laundry, getting something to drink, and apologizing to Lyssa for being gone so long. She picked the small cat up and nuzzled her against her cheek.

“I’ve really missed you, Lyssa. I’m so sorry I had to be gone so long, but I have some really good news – Dana is all better, she’s no longer sick! And she’ll be coming home in a few days.”

Lyssa meowed and nuzzled her back.

“Thanks for understanding. I know Thea looked in on you a few times, but let me change out your box. Then I have to go and check in with Skinner and go see Dana’s mother.”


FBI Headquarters

Nicole first went to the basement office she and Dana shared, as if she expected to find her partner there. She hadn’t even put on a suit to go in, wanting to appear as if she’d just arrived back from her undercover assignment. She was in her ‘cover’ apparel and didn’t look anything like an FBI agent when she arrived at the building. The security guards gave her quite the looks, until she produced her ID.

She smiled to herself as their eyes widened when she had to relinquish her weapons long enough to get through the metal detectors. Especially since she’d had a couple hidden in her outfit they would have never guessed at. She smirked at the guards as she replaced her weapons. “Undercover, guys. Didn’t have time to change.”

“If you say so, Agent Logan,” one of them replied. “That’s a lot of hardware.”

“Yes. And better safe in here, than out in the car.”

They had to admit she had a point.

After going to the basement office Nicole headed up to Skinner’s office. His executive assistant, Kimberly, was surprised to see her. But she was kind of shocked at her appearance.

“Agent Logan?”

“Hi, Kimberly. Do you know where Agent Scully is?”

Her whole demeanor changed as her face fell and her shoulders slumped. “Oh, God. You don’t know, because you’ve been gone,” she replied softly.

“Know what?”

“She’s missing.”

“Missing?! What do you mean she’s missing?!”

“She was in the hospital. She simply disappeared from her room in the middle of the night. It was right after you went undercover.”

“What?!” Nicole exclaimed, playing her part. She pointed to Skinner’s door. “Is he in?”

“AD Skinner is in a meeting, but I’ll let him know you’re here as soon as he’s done. Have a seat.”

“Don’t bother,” Nicole ground out, marching to the door and barging in without bothering to even knock.

Kimberly tried to stop her, but the blonde moved too fast.

Skinner jerked around at the interruption.

“What’s this crap about Scully missing?!” Nicole demand­ed as she barged into his meeting. “It’s been weeks! How many agents do you have trying to find her?!”

“Agent Logan! My office door was closed for a reason. I’m in a meeting!”

“I don’t care! I want to know what you’re doing to find my partner! Christ, it’s been almost two months!”

“I know! And we’ll talk in a few minutes. Now go have a seat outside and wait,” he growled.

It was then the third person in the room spoke up. “No. It’s alright, Walter. I understand Agent Logan’s feelings.”

Nicole turned to the other man in the room. She gave him a nod of respect. “Director.”

“Good to see you back safe and sound.”

“Guess this saves me a trip to your office.” She then pinned Skinner with a glare. “Now, I want to know everything you have on Scully.”

Skinner looked at the Director who nodded. He then got up and went to a locked file cabinet. He opened it, pulled out a file, and handed it to her.

She flipped through it, not even bothering to sit down. “That son of a bitch,” she growled when she got to the notes on Blevins and Kersh.

“Have you seen the recent news?” Skinner asked.

She glanced up. “Some of it. I had no idea Scully’s disappearance had anything to do with it.” She flipped a couple more pages before pinning him with a determined look. “So where are they?” she growled.


“Blevins and Kersh to start with.”


She placed her hands on his desk and leaned on them. “So I can interrogate them, get them to tell me where the hell Scully is.”

“They don’t know.”

“Then I’ll interrogate the others – one of them has to know where Scully is!”

“Can’t let you do that, Logan.”

“Why the hell not?! I’m the best damn interrogator you’ve got!”

It was the Director’s soft spoken voice that calmed both Nicole and Skinner down. That and his hand on her shoulder. “You are the best interrogator we have, but you’re too close to this.” He squeezed her shoulder. “I promise, we’re not giving up on Agent Scully. You have my word, Nicole.”

She looked at him and they held each other’s eyes. “I still want to go through the files.”

“Okay, but you’re just getting off an undercover assignment. Take some time off. You can go through the files, but you can’t work the case.”

“Dammit, she’s my partner!”

“I know.”

“Larry–” she started to object, but he cut her off.

“No, Nicole. Not this time.”

They held each other’s eyes again. This time Nicole backed down with an almost imperceptible nod. Skinner was surprised to hear Logan address the Director by his first name.

She took a breath. “I’m going to go see Mrs. Scully.” She turned and marched out with the file.


Home of Margaret Scully
Baltimore, MD

Satisfied with her performance at FBI Headquarters, Nicole headed to Maggie’s home. This time she didn’t have to sneak around. She pulled up in the driveway and walked to the front door. Maggie opened the door only a few moments after Nicole rang the doorbell.

“Nicole!” They hugged.

“Hi, Maggie.”

“Come in, come in.”

The blonde brought Maggie up to speed on what was happening. “So in just a few days she’ll be home, safe and sound.”

“I can’t wait! It’s also hard to believe.”

“I know. And it will be hard to believe until you see her with your own eyes and hold her in your own arms.” Nicole reached up and wiped away a tear from Maggie’s cheek.


Ocean City, MD
Tuesday, March 10th, 1998

It was almost midnight Tuesday night as Tommy brought the launch to the beach.

A man stepped forward and helped Dana from the boat. “Welcome home.”

“Thank you, Ian.”

They got into the car he had waiting. “Nicole asked me to pick you up. She’ll meet us outside DC.” He paused and gave her a good look as he started the car. “You look a lot better than the last time I saw you.”

She smiled. “Thank you. I feel a lot better.”


Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 11th, 1998

A couple of hours later Ian pulled the car over and Nicole stepped out of the shadows. She got into the car and he got out, giving them some privacy.

“Are you ready for this?”


Nicole pulled a hypodermic out of her coat pocket. Dana eyed it, feeling a little uneasy, but still determined. The blonde didn’t miss the look in her partner’s eyes. She put her hand over Dana’s and gave it a squeeze. “I promise the effects on your memory will wear off after about a week. You will not lose any time – I wouldn’t do that to you, Dana.”

Dana looked her partner in the eyes. “I know that. I trust you. I just… I remember what it was like waking up and finding out I’d been missing for several weeks and having no memory of it. I still have no memory of it – beyond the time I was held by Duane Berry.”

“You don’t have to do this, Dana. We can skip this part of the plan.”

“No. I know from last time how everyone’s going to react… grilling me over and over in an effort to make me to remember. If I don’t remember it’ll be easier, more convincing, and less suspicious.”

Nicole nodded in agreement. “I’ll be there, Dana, right by your side.”

“I know.”

With that, Nicole very gently slid the needle into her partner’s arm, unerringly finding the vein and pushing the plunger. “When you wake up, you’ll be in the hospital and you’ll see your mother.”

“And you.”

“Yes, and me.”

As the redhead’s body began to go limp, Nicole moved to support her. She eased her partner’s head onto her shoulder. She could tell Dana was fighting to stay conscious.

“It’s okay, I’ve got you, Dana. I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise. I’ll keep you safe.”

Dana’s mind hovered just above unconsciousness for a few moments. The blonde must have signaled Ian somehow since he got back into the car and started it up. She could hear his voice, but was unable to understand his words. And it felt so good to be held by Nicole.

“Well don’t you look comfy?”

“Not now, Ian.”

“What? I’m just saying.”

Nicole shot him a look.

“Oh, don’t give me that. She’s a nice bird. And anyone who knows you can see how much she means to you.”

“I said not now, Ian.”

“So what if you fancy her? I say tell her!”

“Just drop it… please. Let’s just concentrate on getting this done.”

It was a silent ride the rest of the way.


George Washington University Hospital

Ian had volunteered to place the redhead, but Nicole felt she had to do it herself. She knew she’d have plenty of time to get back to her house after ensuring Dana was found. The hospital would concentrate on determining her condition before her identity anyway. Of course, once they ID’d her all hell would break loose. The blonde knew she would be one of the first people called after that.

Nicole tenderly held Dana in her arms, wrapped in a blanket. She kept to the shadows and moved silently. Finally her opportunity came. At the ambulance entrance a crew finished cleaning up their unit. The driver sat in the front doing some paperwork as his partner went back inside to pick up their replacement order for used supplies. Unseen, Nicole dropped down, and with a tender kiss on Dana’s forehead, gently laid her on the floor of an ambulance just inside its open backdoor. Just as silently she took to wing and hovered above, watching and waiting.

Only a minute later the second EMT returned with their new supplies. She saw the blanket-wrapped form in the back of their ambulance. “Brad!”

Her yell set everything into motion. The EMTs quickly checked Dana. Instead of wasting time they immediately carried her into the ER. With Dana safely being taken care of, Nicole quickly flew home.


The call actually came sooner than Nicole expected – probably due to Thea’s search program. As soon as Dana’s general description was entered into the hospital’s system, the FBI’s system alerted. One agent with a picture ID’d her instantly, and from there calls were made to Skinner and other top brass.

As soon as Skinner laid eyes on Scully himself he called Mrs. Scully and Logan.

Nicole came flying into the hospital like she was on fire. She unerringly found Skinner and started demanding answers no one had yet. He told her everything they knew. She then planted herself at Scully’s side – her self-appointed guard and protector. It was immediately apparent to everyone that dynamite wasn’t going make Logan move from Scully’s side. Skinner gave in to the inevitable and simply assigned agents to keep watch in the hallway, knowing Logan wouldn’t let anyone near her partner.

Skinner was also the one to meet Mrs. Scully when she arrived. He was once again reminded from where Scully got her strength as he spoke with her mother and told her everything they knew. He then took her to Scully’s room. Skinner noted the obvious affection with which Mrs. Scully embraced Logan when the blonde stood to greet her.

The doctor came to check on Dana and didn’t like so many people in the room. He informed the group that only family could remain in the room with her. The FBI would have to post their person outside the room.

Skinner nodded in acquiescence, and gestured to Logan to follow him out.

Mrs. Scully put her hand on Logan’s arm to keep her in place. “Nicole is family. She stays,” she pronounced in a tone of voice that brooked no argument. The glare she gave the doctor left no doubt she’d get her way.

The doctor backed down. “Alright. But no one else,” he said and left.

Alone, Nicole and Maggie talked quietly. Everything was going as planned.


Dana awoke as expected, and as planned, the injection Nicole had given her had blocked her memory of recent events. She didn’t even remember the late night visit by the blonde to her hospital room as she lay at Death’s door. The last thing she vaguely remembered was the terrible, unending nosebleed that sent her into hypovolemic shock. So it was a great shock to find out she’d once again been abducted and had no memory of the weeks she had been missing. It was also with mixed emotions she took the news that her cancer was gone – not in remission – gone.

And of course, Skinner and others kept at her, trying to get her to remember anything about where she’d been. Dana’s mother was supportive and understanding, but seemed to have a deep sense of peace about her that the redhead couldn’t understand.

Through it all, her partner, Nicole, was as protective as a mama bear. She was ever present, even when her mother wasn’t. She didn’t push for Dana to talk or to remember what she couldn’t, but simply let Dana know she was there. She didn’t try to fill the silence when her partner needed quiet. And she kept the wolves at bay when Dana couldn’t face them.

More than once Dana overheard Nicole get into it with Skinner and others, at first asking them to leave Dana alone, then arguing with them.


Saturday, March 14th, 1998

When it was time for Dana to leave the hospital, she declined her mother’s invitation to stay with her in Baltimore. She also clearly articulated her need for some time alone. Nicole respected her wishes.

Skinner told Scully to take whatever time she needed. He had been blindsided by Logan’s submission of a request for transfer. He informed her it would take some time to process because of the shakeup that was going on within the Bureau. Since Scully was off anyway, he talked Logan into taking some time off as well, hoping she would reconsider the request.


Kenilworth Park
Sunday, March 15th, 1998

Nicole walked through the park and took a seat on an emp­ty bench. She thought about everything that had happened over the last ten months since she’d been pulled from the countryside outside Hamburg, Germany to be assigned as Dana’s partner.

She had attained the mission objectives – Dana was alive and well, and the Consortium was no more.

It had been a difficult assignment for Nicole in many ways. She had not dealt with so many human victims, survivors, and perpetrators in a long time. Nor had she worked so closely with a person as she did with Dana. Not even her Romanian partner, Rishka, worked that closely with her – when she was undercover she was essentially alone. She usually hunted alone as well. She had gotten so used to being alone – in more way than one. It had been that way since she was a child. Being different did that. And in her case she believed it was for the best. After all, her life was all about hunting and killing monsters.

It really is for the best. Dana has been through so much. Now she can have a fresh start without cancer, without having to look over her shoulder… and without having a partner with inappropriate feelings for her.

In the time since Dana had woken up, she had completely withdrawn emotionally. And while Nicole understood it, and had even anticipated it, it hurt more than she’d expected. She missed the closeness that had developed between them, especially since she’d finally admitted to herself that she had fallen in love with Dana.


Scully Family Cabin
Rural Carroll County, MD
Tuesday, March 17th, 1998

At the cabin, Dana was dealing with the shock of being told her cancer was gone – as if she’d never had it. She felt used and manipulated… violated… again. Strangely, her mother hadn’t seemed quite so shocked, even though she shed some tears of happiness. She didn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings when she turned down her invitation to stay with her, but Dana needed some space to process things. Nicole seemed to understand her need to withdraw.

Nicole. That was another thing she needed to think about. During their last case, before taking on Humbaba, Dana had finally admitted to herself she was attracted to her partner, but she had also thought that it was a moot point since she was dying.

Well you’re not dying any more… so now what? Ironically, dying had given Dana a sort of freedom. She had allowed herself to feel things she normally would have nipped in the bud at the first inkling. After all, she was dying, so it wouldn’t matter. But now, now things were different. She had let the blonde in… or Nicole had let herself in. Either way, things were different now. But what does that mean for me… for us? I still don’t know if she’s interested in women. And even if she is, if she’d be interested in me. I don’t even know if I want her to be – we’re partners!

As Dana watched the sunset while sitting on the porch, she started remembering things. At least they seemed like memories… flashes of memories… or maybe dreams… it was hard to tell. Images, sounds, even smells ran through her mind in a disjointed fashion. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. She kept seeing Nicole – her smile, her eyes.

Dana shook her head, trying to clear it.

That night she dreamt of Nicole, of her partner telling her she was going to live, of her partner getting beaten up by some blue man, of Nicole and her sailing, of her partner making love to a glowing brunette…

She woke up from the last very aroused. She rolled onto her side and curled up. Just great… now I’m having wet dreams about my partner.


Wednesday, March 18th, 1998

The next day Dana, plagued with more dreams and memories (if that’s what they were), decided she needed to talk to Nicole. She needed to figure out what the memories were and what they meant. She tried their office number but got no answer. So she tried her partner’s cell and got the voicemail. She then tried the blonde’s home phone and got the answering machine. Feeling frustrated, she called Skinner and asked if he knew where she was.

“I’m sorry, Scully, I don’t.”

“Could you give her a message when you see or talk to her?”

“I doubt I will be talking to her. At least not anytime soon.”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought you knew. Agent Logan has been given some time off until her request for transfer comes through. With you off, there was no reason for her to come in, and with everything that’s going on it’s taking some time. It’s just as well since she just got back from an undercover assignment. She hasn’t left town though, since she said she’d notify my office if she wasn’t reachable at her home phone – so we could contact her when her transfer came through.”

“Alright, thank you, sir.”

“Is there anything I can do for you, Agent Scully?”

“Not at this time, sir.”

“Alright. Let me know if there is.”

“Goodbye, sir.”


Dana hung up. “What the hell is going on, Nicole? Why did you request a transfer?” She dialed Nicole’s home and cell numbers again, leaving a message at both. She tried several times during the day and evening to reach the blonde. She left numerous messages. But Nicole never answered her phone; neither had she returned any of the messages. Dana went to bed that night very unsettled and worried.


Part 24

Logan’s House
Washington, DC
Thursday, March 19th, 1998

Nicole was in tears. An extremely bad migraine woke her up around 3:00 in the morning. She had thrown up and was trying to settle herself enough to regain her feet. She hadn’t felt so bad in a long time. Finally she was able to flush the toilet and push her way up to lean on the bathroom counter. Her head swam as she opened the medicine cabinet to get a vial of DHE. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, trying to hold back the nausea. Another couple of minutes passed. She opened a drawer and took out a sterile packaged syringe and alcohol swab. Now she just needed to prepare the injection.

Suddenly there was loud pounding on her front door. She wanted to yell at whoever was pounding to stop, but her own raised voice would have driven her to her knees. Her stomach flip-flopped but she once again fought back the nausea. She unsteadily made her way to the front door, feeling the pounding in her head throb with the pounding on the door. She was ready to tear someone a new asshole, but when she squinted out the peephole, she saw a teary-eyed Dana. She opened the door.


Dana, tears rolling down her face, threw her arms around Nicole’s neck and hugged her. The redhead had woken up a couple of hours earlier from a nightmare… and remembered everything from the last two months. She hadn’t hesitated – she jumped in her car and drove straight to Nicole’s house.

As she clung tightly to her partner, events played before her mind’s eye – the blonde’s visit at her death bead, the weeks of slowly regaining her health, the revelations about the Consortium, the trust and closeness that had grown and deepened between her and her partner, her friend. Dana was alive, and that was due to Nicole.

Skinner said Nicole had put in for a transfer. She didn’t want to lose the blonde as her partner or her friend. The blonde hadn’t just saved her life, she had given her back herself.

Nicole wrapped her arms around the redhead. “What’s wrong, Dana?” she asked softly.

“Thank you!” she whispered tearfully. “Thank you for everything.”

The blonde moved a hand up to cup the back of her partner’s head. “Your memory’s returned,” she said quietly. She felt Dana’s nod. “Sorry for the turmoil of the last few days,” she whispered.

“No, it was the right way. We made the right choice – I don’t think I could have been convincing when I was questioned if I had remembered everything.” She gave the blonde a squeeze. “I’m sorry I’ve been so distant.”

They finally parted. “It’s okay, I understand. Especially after everything you’ve been through.”

They moved so Nicole could actually close the door.

“I’m sorry for coming in the middle of the night,” Dana apologized.

“I was up anyway,” she replied as she locked the door.

“Nicole, why did you request a transfer? Was it something I said or did?”

The blonde heard the question, but was occupied with trying to keep her stomach from again rebelling as she closed her eyes, tears squeezing out the corners, and leaned against the door.

“Nicole?” Dana moved towards the blonde when Nicole didn’t turn around and realized her partner was trembling.

With a whimper Nicole suddenly jerked away from the door, roughly pushed past her partner, and lurched down the hallway to her bedroom. She barely made it to her bathroom in time.

Stunned, it took a moment for the redhead to react. She quickly followed her partner and found Nicole in her bathroom dry heaving. She knelt next to the blonde and gently rubbed her back. She was surprised when Nicole crumpled, fisting her hands over her eyes and crying quietly.

Dana had obviously spent enough time around her partner over the last ten months or so to know that she got occasional migraines, but she had never seen the blonde get this bad, though she suspected they did get quite severe at times since she knew what medications Nicole took for them. She wrapped her arm around her partner’s shoulders and pulled her close, supporting her. “Come on, let’s get you to bed,” she said softly.

“No moving…” she moaned quietly.

Dana wiped the tears from her partner’s face. “Just to the bed. I’ll help you.” She helped the blonde up, into the bedroom, and into bed. Nicole curled into a ball on her side, once again whimpering and pulling a pillow over her eyes. Dana pulled the covers up. “Have you taken anything for your migraine?”

“I was… about to…”

“I’ll get it.” The redhead went back into the bathroom and saw the vial of DHE and the still sterile syringe. She prepared the injection and returned to the bedroom. She sat on the side of the bed. “Let me have your arm.”

Nicole moved the pillow a little and whispered, “Hip… it goes in–”

“I know. But if I give it to you intravenously it’ll work faster,” she said gently.

The blonde moved her arm so her partner had access. Dana gently and accurately slid the needle in place and injected the medication. She settled in on the other side of the bed to keep an eye on her partner. She had seen Nicole hurt before, but she had never seen her so openly display being in pain. As the minutes changed on the clock she felt her eyes close against her will. The emotional revelations that came with the return of her memory and the middle of the night drive from the cabin combined to beckon her back to sleep despite her concern for her partner.


When Nicole woke up in the morning she almost purred at the soothing sensation of fingers lightly massaging the back of her head. She did not feel very well, but was a lot better than she had been a few hours earlier. The fingers in her hair stopped their movement. She took a breath and smiled at the wonderful scent of… Dana.

That was when her brain was jolted into full wakefulness and she realized where she was. She was in bed, snuggled up against her partner, head on her shoulder. She tensed immediately and then quickly scrambled to the side of the bed. Her sudden movement woke the redhead.

“Nicole? Are you okay?” she asked sleepily, but obviously concerned.

“Yeah…” she replied a little hoarsely as she stood and made her way to the bathroom. She closed the door and leaned against it, letting out a whispered moan, “This is not good.”

When Dana heard the shower start she got up and headed into the kitchen. She wasn’t as familiar with the blonde’s house as she had been her apartment, but she had no trouble finding the tea and starting a pot in the coffee­maker. Thinking Nicole wouldn’t feel like eating very much she pulled together a light breakfast of fresh fruit and toasted bagels.

In the bathroom, the blonde was in the shower trying to sort through her memories of the night, hoping she hadn’t done anything inappropriate toward Dana. Once she cleared her mind as much she was going to be able to, she turned off the shower, dried off, and put on her robe.

When she entered the kitchen she found her partner placing a couple of toasted bagels on plates.

“Have a seat,” the redhead instructed. She then set a plate and a mug of hot tea in front of Nicole, before grabbing her own plate and mug and joining her at the table. A plate of cleaned and cut up fresh fruit already sat on the table.

They ate in silence. When they were through the redhead grabbed the plates before her partner could. She refilled Nicole’s tea and then washed the dishes, which took only a couple of minutes. She refilled her own mug with tea and returned to the table. She looked at the blonde who seemed a little distant. Dana reached out and put her hand on Nicole’s arm, giving it a gentle squeeze. “How do you feel?”

The blonde closed her eyes and took a slow deep breath. “I’ve been better,” she answered softly. She opened her eyes and looked at her partner a moment. “Thank you for your help last night.” She then took another sip of her hot tea.

“Anytime,” Dana replied with another gentle squeeze of her hand before she removed it from her partner’s arm. “I know you get migraines, but I had no idea they got that bad.”

“I haven’t had one like that in long time – over a year.” She took a breath and slowly let it out. “Really kicks my ass when it they hit though. Takes me a day or so to get back to normal.”

Dana nodded in understanding. “Is it okay if I take a shower?”

“Of course it is. You know where everything is – help yourself if you need something to wear.”

While her partner was in the shower, the blonde got dressed, made another pot of tea, and then settled in the living room. Dana came back out in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt pilfered from one of Nicole’s dresser drawers. She got a refill of tea and then joined Nicole on the couch. There was some soft music playing, and again, the blonde looked to be somewhere else.


The blonde turned, pain still showing in her eyes, looking world-weary.

“Lie down here,” Dana said as she indicated for the blonde to lie down with her head in her lap. “Come on. Trust me,” she coaxed at her partner’s confused look.

Nicole moved slowly and without her usual fluidity and grace. She lay down on her side with her head on her partner’s lap.

Dana watched her partner’s eyes close as she slipped her fingers into the blonde’s hair and began to tenderly massage her scalp. “That’s it, relax.”

The blonde hadn’t had enough sleep and her partner’s soothing fingers soon had her drifting. Once Nicole dropped off asleep, Dana laid her head back on the couch and also dozed. About half an hour later the redhead realized her partner was having a bad dream. She calmed her partner and then sat there simply watching her… and thinking. She didn’t want to lose Nicole as her partner or friend. But then she remembered Ariel.

Maybe she’s requested a transfer to be closer to Ariel. I never did ask where she lived. And with Nicole working so much undercover their time together must be limited. Dana decided that if her partner was requesting a transfer so she could have a personal life, then she certainly wouldn’t give her a hard time about. Nicole deserved to have some happiness in her life. However, she still needed to know why Nicole wanted to leave. She continued to lightly massage her partner’s head.

When Nicole woke a while later, she could feel Dana’s fingers gently carding through her hair absentmindedly. She took a deep breath.

“How do you feel?” Dana asked gently.

“A little better. Sorry I conked out on you.”

“Don’t be. You needed it. Besides, I got a nap too.” She paused, trying to figure out how to bring up what brought her there in the middle of the night in the first place. Finally she just decided to be direct. “Can I ask you something?”


“Skinner told me you requested a transfer. Why?”

Nicole sat up and let out a sigh without looking at the redhead.

“Have I done or said something to offend you?”

“No! No, of course not, Dana. It’s not you. It’s just…” I’m in love with you.

“Is it to be closer to your girlfriend Ariel? If so, I can understand that. I just wish you would have talked to me about it.”

She looked at the redhead, confused. “Ariel? What makes you think–”

“I saw you,” Dana said gently. “I didn’t mean to intrude on anything private, but I saw you two in the gazebo at the villa.”

The blonde took a moment to think about what had happened in the gazebo. She realized what things must have looked like from Dana’s point of view. She smiled gently. “Ariel’s not my girlfriend.”

“I saw you put your suit back on and the two of you kiss,” Dana countered softly.

“It’s not what you think it was. Ariel and I are good friends. She probably knows me better than anyone. What you saw was me putting my top back on after she’d given me a massage. And then two close friends hug after a particularly emotional talk. Yes, we kissed, but it wasn’t anything more than a quick kiss between friends – not lovers.”

Dana accepted what Nicole told her since she trusted the blonde and knew her partner wouldn’t lie to her. She nodded in understanding.

“I can see how you reached that conclusion though. Ariel is a very dear friend.”

“Okay. Then why the request for transfer?”

The blonde took a deep breath and let it out. She spoke softly. “A lot’s happened in the last year. Everything is different now. The Consortium is a thing of the past. There’s no need to always be looking over your shoulder. You’re safe. With your record you can write your own ticket, get any posting you’d want – instructor, major crimes, domestic terrorism, OCB, you name it. There’s not a division out there that wouldn’t be lucky to get you. And with your health back there’s nothing holding you back. You’ve got a clean slate, Dana.”

She took a moment to weigh her words before replying. “You’re right, a lot has happened. I’m not the same person I was before. I’ve changed – for the better I believe. And it is refreshing, if still somewhat hard to believe, that all the troubles with the Consortium are done and over with. But I have to tell you, that despite all the grief the X-Files have brought, I like the challenge of solving unusual cases. Cases that I wouldn’t get to work in any other division. So I’m not interested in any other assignment at this time. But regardless of what division I’m in, what kind of cases I work, one thing I want, one thing I need, is partner who’s good at what they do and is someone I can trust completely.” She paused. “I have that with you… and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose you, Nicole, as a partner or a friend.”

Nicole was touched by her partner’s words. “You’ll never lose my friendship, Dana.”

“I’m glad. But is there anything I can say or do to keep from losing you as my partner?”

She dropped her head and closed her eyes as she took a long, slow, deep breath. She quickly reviewed her reasons for requesting a transfer. But what do you want? ‘I don’t want to go anywhere.’ That’s what you told Ariel. It’s true. I want to stay and work with Dana.

Dana waited patiently as the blonde retreated into her thoughts. She still didn’t know why Nicole requested the transfer, but she could see her partner was honestly considering her decision, and ultimately, it was a decision that Nicole had to make for herself. She wanted Nicole to stay, but she didn’t want to pressure the blonde into something she didn’t want to do.

So quit being a coward and make the choice. Nicole took another deep breath and slowly let it out. She gave a small nod. “Alright. I’ll stay,” she said softly.

Dana reached over and gave Nicole’s hand a squeeze with her own. The blonde turned her hand to clasp her partner’s and returned the squeeze. They sat in a comfortable silence until the house phone rang. Nicole got up and went to answer it.


“Agent Logan, it’s AD Skinner.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to talk to you about your transfer request.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.”

“Is there any way you would reconsider?”


“You would?” She had obviously surprised him with her quick answer.

“Yes, I would. I already have actually. I was going to call you.”

“Then I guess I can drop your request in the circular file instead of forwarding it to personnel.”

She could hear the smile in his voice. “Yeah, that’ll be fine.”

“So we’ll see you…”


“Monday it is. Have a good weekend, Logan.”

“Thanks.” She hung up and walked over to the couch. “How about a refill on that tea?”

“Sure.” Dana handed the blonde her mug.

She returned shortly with fresh hot tea. She handed a mug to the redhead and then sat down. “I’m going back in to work Monday.”

“Monday it is then.”

“You don’t have to go back yet if you’re not ready.”

“No, I’m ready. After all, I’ve already had my vacation,” Dana added with a smile.


FBI Headquarters
Wednesday, June 24th, 1998

Nicole and Dana went back to work Monday, March 23rd. With no Consortium to worry about and no health issues to slow Dana down, their work took off. Dana was still frequently called on for autopsy consults, just as Nicole was for suspect interrogations, but they really shined when they worked cases together. As a team they seemed unstoppable and had an unsurpassed solve rate. They cleared every single case that had been assigned to them.

They also spent time together outside of work. As before, Maggie insisted that Nicole join her and her daughter for dinner every other week, work permitting. The partners had dinner, or did something else together, at least a couple of times a week and made a point of not talking about work. So their friendship was nurtured and grew as well. Their personal feelings for each other also deepened, though neither one broached the topic – both relishing their partnership and friendship, and afraid of damaging them.

Three months after their return to work, Dana entered their office on a Wednesday morning. It was June 24th. Nicole rounded her desk and met her partner as she came through the door, and hand­ed her a cup of freshly made hot tea.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning. Looks like you’re going to get your wish.”


“Yesterday you said you wanted to get out of the office. Skinner left a note; we have a meeting with him at 10:00. He’s got a case for us,” Nicole explained.

“Then I need to finish up my report on the Dickens case.”

“Do you have enough time?”

“Yes. I’ve got the initial autopsy report; I just need to put the finishing touches on it since the labs came in yesterday.” Dana sat down at her desk and booted up her computer. She stole a look over at her partner who was studiously working on some paperwork of her own. And watching her is the reason you didn’t get the report done yesterday afternoon. Focus, Dana, focus.

At 9:45 the redhead printed out her finished report. As it printed, she retrieved an interoffice envelope from the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. Behind the cover of an open file folder, Nicole’s eyes watched her partner. Dana, while having regained her health, remained leaner than she had been before getting cancer. However, she was more fit than she’d ever been in her life. It showed in the way she held herself and moved, a physical confidence that was quite appealing. You’ve seen her in a skimpy bikini, but she makes a business suit sexy! Nicole quickly averted her eyes when Dana stood and returned to her desk.

With her report done and ready for pickup by the mailroom, Dana slipped it in the pickup slot as she and Nicole headed up to Skinner’s office. Kimberly instructed them to sit and wait until Skinner was ready for them. Soon, Skinner signaled Kimberly to send them in. He stood as they entered and moved to the chairs in front of his desk.

“Good morning, Agent Scully, Agent Logan.”

“Good morning, sir,” they replied in unison.


Holiday Inn
Indianapolis, IN

Having received their assignment, Dana and Nicole made travel arrangements and met up at the airport for their flight to Indianapolis. They were met at the airport by Detective Lance Finneran who informed them that a third body had been found nailed to a tree – crucified. The FBI had been contacted after the second body was found. The first had no other sign of trauma and a completely clear tox screen. The second was the same, except for a strip of flesh (four inches by half an inch) had been removed from the victim’s chest – ante mortem.

Det. Finneran led them straight to the morgue so Dana could get started on the autopsies of the second and third victims. He then took Nicole to the most recent crime scene. Afterwards he took her back to the precinct so they could go over the case files.

It was late when Dana got to their hotel. Nicole heard the redhead enter the adjacent room and knocked on the adjoining door. Dana opened the door after dropping her bag on the bed. The blonde took one look at her partner and knew she was beat. The redhead sat down on the bed with a moan. Performing two difficult autopsies in one day had worn her down, made her feet hurt from standing and her back hurt from leaning over the table.

“Sore?” Nicole asked, sitting down next to her.

She nodded without opening her eyes. As she had hoped, she soon felt Nicole’s fingers rubbing her shoulders, massaging the tension out of her corded muscles. She began to relax and lean into it, enjoying the pleasant sensation that was flowing through her. The blonde’s hands leeched the soreness and tension from her body. She drifted, enjoying the feel of her partner’s touch and the closeness between them. Behind her closed eyes memories played.

Nicole caring for her when she got so ill following radiation treatment.

Breaking into a hotel to rescue Nicole from a killer.

Nicole’s gentle smile when she told Dana her cancer was gone.

Nicole holding her when she awoke from a nightmare.

But she also recalled her previous partner. She recalled all the times Mulder had ditched her. Mulder seldom using his best judgment. Mulder always unwilling to listen to anyone else. Mulder letting a quack doctor drill a hole in his head to bring back childhood memories. Mulder killing himself the very next week.

Her two partners were so very different from each other – a difference of night and day, misery and joy, self-centeredness and selflessness. A flash of guilt passed through her as she thought how grateful she was that Nicole was her partner, but that only Mulder’s death allowed that to happen.

She had relaxed into Nicole’s touch, reveling in it. Suddenly Dana became aware that their positions had changed. She was leaning back against the blonde, completely relying on her partner to keep her upright. Her head was resting on Nicole’s shoulder. The blonde’s hands had stopped their massage and Nicole’s arms were loosely resting around Dana’s waist. She did­n’t want to move, she just wanted to stay there, resting in her partner’s arms. Even more, she wanted to turn her head and find soft lips with her own. But if you do, you’ll mess up the best partnership you could ever hope for and maybe lose your best friend.

She sat up abruptly startling the blonde. She quickly got off the bed and moved to the dresser, feeling a need for distance, the space to regain control of her emotions.

“What’s wrong, Dana?” Nicole asked with gentle concern.

Dana dropped her head and shook it. “I just… I’m tired, that’s all.” I’m in love with you!

The blonde stood and moved over to where her partner stood. She placed a warm hand on Dana’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Then get some sleep. You know where I am if you need anything.” And she left.


Holiday Inn
Thursday, June 25th, 1998

Thursday morning Dana had downed two cups of now-unac­customed coffee while waiting for her partner, but it was already 7:45 and Nicole still hadn’t arrived. Dana hadn’t slept well, thinking about the blonde, thinking about them. She wished she could express her feelings, but there was so much at stake, a partnership, a friendship. No wonder it seemed so hard. But now it was time for work, and she tried to put all those other issues out of her mind. There would be time to deal with them later.

She checked her watch and looked out the coffee shop and across the lobby to the elevators for what seemed like the hundredth time, frus­trated that she still didn’t see her partner. Finally, she dropped a couple of dollars on the table and headed back to elevators.


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