Home of Margaret Scully
Saturday, July 11th, 1998
When Dana got up Saturday morning she found her mother already in the kitchen fixing some breakfast, even though it was still dark out. A small TV on the kitchen counter was turned on low, set to CNN.
“Would you like some bacon and eggs, Dana?”
“Just a couple of scrambled eggs, please.” Dana went to the refrigerator and poured herself some orange juice as her mother whipped up a couple of scrambled eggs. “You’re up awfully early this morning,” she observed.
“I woke up wide awake and decided there was no use staying in bed. Besides, this way I get to make you some breakfast. You know, I’ve enjoyed you staying here,” Maggie said as she set a plate of eggs in front of her daughter.
The redhead smiled up at her mother. “I’ve enjoyed it, too, Mom. Thank you.”
“So what do you have planned for today?”
Dana let out a soft sigh. “Hopefully finish up the case. Or at least identify a viable suspect so the locals can take over the case and run with it.”
Dana looked up from her meal at her mother’s soft remark. “What did you say, Mom?”
“That’s Nicole,” she said pointing at the small TV, then reached over and turned up the volume.
They listened as the anchor went on to narrate a video taken earlier.
“What we see here is the outside of a Washington, DC club simply called The Mission. It is said that The Mission caters to the alternate lifestyle of the domination and submission culture, complete with slaves, pets, leather, and collars.
“In the early hours of this morning, this club was the subject of a raid by local and federal authorities following a violent attack on some of its patrons. What was found, in a secret basement, was an unprecedented amount of high grade, pure cocaine – 3000 kilos. Authorities say that once the cocaine was cut and distributed on the street, it would be worth an estimated 150 million dollars. This is the largest single seizure ever by American authorities. We’ve also been told that there was a ‘significant’ amount of cash and weapons confiscated as well.
“We take you back to the scene live with Arliss Cole. Arliss?”
The scene changed to a live shot in front of the club.
“Yes, this is Arliss Cole, reporting from on the scene here in Washington, DC. As you can see across the street,” he stepped aside to allow the camera to focus on the background, “there are several local law enforcement vehicles and personnel still present. I’m told that this unprecedented seizure of drugs, money, and guns and the arrest of over two dozen people was the result of an undercover investigation by the FBI.”
“There!” Maggie’s hand shot out and she pointed to a white-blonde head in the background.
Dana looked closely. Sure enough, there was a woman in dressed all in black leather that had the same short, white-blonde hair as her partner. And she appeared to be speaking with Skinner – recognizable by his bald head. Dana had stopped listening to the reporter and continued to search the people in the background. Then she saw it – a shock of bright blue hair. Ian.
She sat back with an almost imperceptible smile on her lips. That explained it! It explained Nicole coming in late, her seeming to be tired and listless at work, the secret phone call, her distance during the last week, her sudden departure without an explanation. She remembered what Nicole had told her about being made for undercover work. With results like that, it was obviously true. She felt a little bit of pride on behalf of her partner. Well done, Nicole, well done.
“That was her, wasn’t it?”
Dana was brought out of her thoughts by her mother’s inquiry. She nodded. “Yes, it was.”
The assistant director had received a call long before his alarm would have gone off. He answered it only to hear Logan tersely tell him to get down to The Mission club ASAP. For reasons he couldn’t completely fathom, he felt compelled to obey the summons by the woman who was nominally his subordinate. He dressed and was out his door within five minutes.
To say he was surprised to pull up and see a dozen cop cars with lights flashing was an understatement. He parked and got out of the car. Before he took more than a single step towards the crowd of cops and onlookers, a hand clamped on his arm and pulled him off to the side.
“We need to talk before you go any further,” Logan said, cutting him off.
“What the hell is going on?”
She ran a weary hand over her face as she sighed. “I was here with a friend on a private matter. I recognized someone, a major international criminal, from a previous case. I decided to stay and see what he might be up to since there’s no way his presence here could be a good thing.”
She closed her eyes, seeing the violent confrontation in her mind’s eye, and let out another sigh. “He made me before I could get close enough to…” She stopped and shook her head. “A confrontation became violent and some people were hurt. He got away, but my friend and I found a secret basement.” She met his eyes and held them. “There’s got to be 3000 kilos of pure, uncut cocaine down there, and a bunch of cash and guns.”
Skinner’s eyes widened. Holy shit. “That’s worth 100-150 million dollars on the street.”
The blonde nodded. “I think we stumbled on a new primary distribution hub for one of the Columbian cartels. Probably one to replace the hub taken out in Newark several months ago. If the DEA had an investigation going…” She shrugged her shoulders.
“Then there’s going to be some hell to pay for stepping on their toes,” he said, completing her thought.
“It wasn’t intentional, believe me.” I was after a far greater evil.
“Alright. I’ll handle coordinating with the locals and any other agencies that may have a vested interest.” He looked her in the eyes. “Is there anything else I should know?”
“There’s a dead body, a woman… I did everything I could. The killer is the bastard that got away.”
“I see. Anything else?”
“No,” she replied, shaking her head. “But it’s probably best if ‘I wasn’t here.'”
He nodded in understanding. “Got it – this was the result of an undercover investigation by the FBI.”
“Yeah.” With that she turned and walked away.
En Route to Logan’s House
Ian inconspicuously fell in step with Nicole and walked with her to the car. Once they were in the car he looked over at her before starting it up and heading out. “I’m really sorry, Nicole.”
She sighed. “It wasn’t your fault. He hasn’t been around for 1200 years and not developed an acute sense of his surroundings.”
He knew she didn’t blame him, but he still felt bad about Fritz getting away. They had been so close. They did managed to dust four other vampires that had been with Fritz, but the bastard had slipped away as he and Nicole fought with the others – and he did it behind the shield of an innocent bystander, who he then killed.
And that was precisely what was bothering the blonde the most. She’d had to choose between trying to save the woman’s life or getting Fritz. One could argue that going after Fritz at that point would prevent the greater evil, but there was no way Nicole could turn away from the woman bleeding to death in her arms. Fritz wouldn’t be seen in DC again since he always had a preplanned exit strategy, but she would cross paths with him again, even if it meant she had to travel around the world to do so. She would kill Fritz.
Ian parked in front of his friend’s house. “Do you want me to stay?”
She took a slow breath. “No. I’ll be okay. Thanks for your help, Ian.”
“Anytime – you know that.” He watched with concern as she got out of the car, walked up to her front door, and went inside.
Nicole was furious. Not only had Fritz slipped out of her grasp, but she’d also lost an innocent in the process. She wanted to hit something – someone. It was still a couple of hours until sunrise, but she wasn’t tired. She was too keyed up to even think about getting some sleep.
She went into her bedroom and changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Taking her leathers into the bathroom, she carefully and methodically washed off the blood that the dark color mostly concealed. She hung up the cleaned leathers to let them to dry. She then went down to the basement and into the workout room. She slipped on some gloves and started beating the bag hanging from the ceiling. With every punch that she threw she pictured beating Fritz’s smug face.
She’d had him! He’d been right there.
“AHHHHRGGGHHH!” she screamed as she pummeled the bag and then nailed it with a hard, sharp kick that split the canvas, spilling sand onto the floor.
She stood there staring at the sand spilling from the bag as she panted, sweat dripping off of her brow. Letting out a huff of irritation she turned and went back upstairs. She’d needed to go for a run.
That morning, at the hospital, Dana had been surprised when a janitor came forward and admitted to committing the killings. She and the local police had had no idea who their suspect was; they’d cleared everyone they thought had access to the patients. The police doubted the confession initially, but the man’s specific knowledge of the method used convinced Dana he was indeed the perpetrator. She turned the case over to the locals and headed for her mother’s where she picked up her things and said goodbye to her mother.
On the way back to DC the redhead had debated with herself about calling her partner. That debate didn’t end until she pulled up and parked in front of her partner’s house. She was feeling apprehensive and hesitant. Seeing Nicole on the news had thrown her a little bit, but as her mother had pointed out it did explain the blonde’s actions and lack of communication during the week. But was it the reason for Nicole’s distance?
She had spent so much time over the last few days asking herself over and over if sleeping with her partner had been mistake. Had she messed up the best partnership, the best friendship, she’d ever had or could hope for? By Friday night, she had almost convinced herself that if she needed to she could go back to just being friends and partners with the blonde. She’d rather have Nicole as her partner and friend than lose her completely because they’d crossed a line they shouldn’t have. Not for the first time she rehearsed her ‘partners and professionalism, friends instead of lovers’ speech.
And then she saw her partner come running around the corner. Dana watched as the blonde paced back and forth in front of her house, breathing deeply as she tried to cool down. Her face, arms, and legs glistened from a sheen of perspiration. When Nicole bent over, touching nose to knees, stretching out, Dana’s mouth watered at the sight of the blonde’s lean muscles flexing beneath smooth skin. And when the blonde moved onto the porch where she placed a foot up on the railing and again stretched, Dana felt a familiar tightness in her belly.
Oh yeah, it would be so easy to go back to just being friends, she taunted herself. The redhead closed her eyes. She was already in too deep; if things didn’t work out with Nicole Dana’s heart was going to be left in a thousand pieces. Her heart ached with her fears. When she opened her eyes again there was no sign of her partner. The blonde must have gone inside.
Nicole stripped off her sweaty clothes and stepped into the scalding shower. In an effort to tire herself out so she could try to sleep she had gone on a long run; she had run until her lungs burned and her legs were rubbery, but her mind had never settled. Failure never sat well with her. She could live with losing Fritz – she knew there would be an opportunity to go after him again, and even if there wasn’t, she certainly wasn’t the only Malakim that wanted him dead. Someone, someday, would eventually take him out. What was eating her up inside was the unnecessary loss of an innocent’s life.
She dissected the night’s events over and over and over again, looking for the one thing she could have done differently that would have saved that woman’s life. She questioned every action she’d taken, every thought she’d had, every decision she’d made. She questioned her ability to do what she’d been bred to do. She questioned her worthiness of all the gifts she’d been given.
Nicole opened her eyes and turned off the shower. She stepped out, dried off, and slipped on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Towel drying her hair, she went into the kitchen where she poured herself a glass of juice. She heard a knock on her front door as she put the dirty glass in the sink.
The blonde felt something indescribable grab her heart when she looked out the peephole and saw Dana. She opened the door.
The redhead was taken aback by the depth of the emotion in that simple, one-word greeting. She saw something she couldn’t name pass behind those dark green eyes. It compelled her to move forward and wrap her arms around her partner. “I’m here,” she said softly.
Nicole felt something inside give way. Her whole body began to tremble as she clung to the woman that held her heart. Before she realized it, the front door had been closed and they had moved to the couch.
Dana held Nicole, trying to provide the comfort her partner was apparently so in need of. She didn’t know what was bothering Nicole, but Dana knew she’d do whatever she could to help the blonde. She dropped a kiss on the top of Nicole’s head, then rested her cheek against it. “Whatever it is, I’m here, Nicole. I love you.”
After a couple of long minutes, the blonde finally seemed to calm down. She took a deep breath as she eased her tight grip on the redhead. She hadn’t actually been crying, but her eyes were red and swollen as if she had been. “Sorry,” she whispered softly.
“There’s nothing to apologize for.” Dana kissed the blonde’s forehead. “What to talk about it?”
Nicole took another deep breath as she sat upright. “I’ve been… working on something this week…”
“I know.” She saw the surprise in the blonde’s eyes. “I saw you on the TV this morning – outside The Mission. The news said there had been in undercover investigation by the FBI. That was you, wasn’t it?”
She hesitated in answering. She didn’t want to lie to Dana. Yes, she had been investigating, but not for the FBI. What she and Ian had been doing there was personal… sort of. She hadn’t officially been assigned to go after Fritz Klingemann; however, as a Malakim it was completely within her purview to go after the likes of him. Any Malakim would gladly take out a master vampire.
Dana misinterpreted her partner’s hesitation. “I understand if you can’t discuss the investigation, Nicole.” She reached out and took the blonde’s hand in her own, giving it a squeeze. “But something has clearly upset you. What is it?”
Nicole closed her eyes and took a slow breath. “An in–” Tears welled in her eyes and a painful stricture closed her throat. “The person we were after, our main target got away… and an innocent woman was killed.” The tears spilled and ran down her cheeks.
“Oh, Nicole, I’m so sorry.” She pulled the blonde into her arms again.
Emotional turmoil, exhaustion, and the comfort of Dana’s embrace combined to overpower the blonde and pull her down into Morpheus’ realm. The redhead didn’t want to disturb the woman in her arms, so she managed to shift a bit and lean back into the corner of the couch, allowing Nicole to sleep, the blonde’s head pillowed on her chest. Dana closed her eyes, a lack of adequate sleep the past few nights catching up with her, and also dozed off.
Hearing Dana’s heart beneath her ear when she woke up, Nicole’s lips curled into a small smile. She loved the way the redhead’s body felt against her own. Everything about Dana felt good – her body, her heart, her soul. The blonde took a slow breath. She couldn’t help the reaction her body had to Dana’s scent – not just the subtle vanilla perfume she wore, but her own natural scent.
Nicole had a number of good friends, but she’d never missed anyone as much as she’d missed Dana the past few days. Yes, it was her own doing – she’d had to protect Dana – but when she saw the redhead standing at her door she realized just how much of her own wellbeing was dependent on the presence of Dana in her life. Her heart felt like it was on verge of bursting, overflowing with love and need and belonging.
Dana woke up to soft, warm lips pressing lingering kisses to the column of her throat. She let out a contented sigh and wrapped her arms around the body pressing her down into the couch cushions. Her breath quickened as deft fingers slowly unbuttoned her blouse; warm breath and soft kisses caressed the tops of her breasts. She sank her fingers into corn silk hair as the front hook of her bra was undone, sucking in a hiss and arching her back when the moist warmth of Nicole’s mouth enclosed around her hardening nipple and suckled.
The blonde thrilled at the way her lover’s body responded to her touch, arching up into her own, the way fingers tightened in her hair, the way her name sounded when uttered as a low moan. She continued to suckle as her right hand reached down and slipped under the hem of Dana’s skirt, sliding her hand along a firm thigh, feeling the muscles twitch and flex beneath silky skin.
The warmth of Nicole’s soft hand sent chills along Dana’s spine, filling her with molten heat and making her glad the sticky humidity of mid-July heat made her forego hose. She was already wet and getting wetter. She felt bereft when Nicole pulled away, but then the blonde lowered her body onto hers and claimed her lips in a deep kiss. She slid her tongue along the one exploring her mouth and moaned at the thought of its slippery velvet on other parts of her body. And then the blonde was once again gone, leaving Dana to draw ragged breaths into her oxygen-starved lungs.
Nicole shifted to kneel on the floor, gently holding Dana’s ankle with one hand and removing her shoe with the other, then repeating with the other foot. She slid her hands up sculpted calves, under the redhead’s business suit skirt to caress the tops of shapely thighs. Her hands moved to the outside of Dana’s hips, caught the waistband of silky panties, and tugged as the redhead lifted her hips. Her mouth watered as the sight of auburn curls and glistening flesh. Dropping her lover’s panties aside she pushed Dana’s skirt up as she trailed her lips and tongue along the inside of a thigh.
Dana’s thighs spread further apart and trembled at the sensation of her lover’s mouth slowly working up her sensitive inner thigh. She let out an erotic moan and her hips jerked when the blonde ran the flat of her tongue along the length of her center. Nicole’s tongue dipped into her entrance and then slid up to circle her clit, lightly teasing, hinting at more. She felt more than heard the blonde’s hum as lips closed around her clit and softly sucked. She was writhing on the couch, pressing herself into her lover’s mouth, loudly moaning. Her back bowed and she fisted both of her hands in corn silk, pulling Nicole tighter to her just before her orgasm hit, her thighs clamping around the head between her legs and crying out her lover’s name.
Once released from Dana’s thighs, Nicole couldn’t keep from smiling at the sight and state of her lover. Dana’s business suit was rumpled and in disarray, her jacket open, her shirt un-tucked and open, her bra unhooked and pushed out of the way, her skirt bunched and pushed up over her hips. So much for the professional federal agent. She moved up and nuzzled below the redhead’s ear.
“Let’s continue this in the bedroom,” she murmured before kissing her lover.
The redhead tasted herself on Nicole’s lips and tongue and smiled into their kiss. The blonde stood and held out a hand to Dana, pulling her up from the couch. In the bedroom, Dana shed her clothes, uncharacteristically letting them lay where they dropped onto the floor, and crawled onto the bed.
“Sorry about your suit,” Nicole said as she removed her shorts and t-shirt.
“No you’re not,” Dana said with a smile, “and neither am I.” She wrapped her arms around Nicole as her lover joined her, kissing her deeply as she rolled the blonde onto her back. “I missed you this week.”
“I missed you, too,” Nicole replied, swallowing around the lump that suddenly formed in her throat. Her eyes closed and her back arched as her lover trailed steamy kisses down her throat.
“Does your chest hurt?” Dana asked her kisses neared the bandage above the blonde’s right breast.
“No-o.” Her voice hitched as the redhead began to lick and suck on her achingly hard nipple.
The redhead was torn. The thought of going down on the blonde was mouthwatering, but Dana wanted to watch her lover’s face as she came. She moved back up and claimed Nicole’s lips in a deep kiss, thoroughly exploring her mouth. She trailed the fingers of her left hand through downy curls and moaned as they slid over swollen and slick flesh. She pulled back and gazed down her lover.
“Look at me,” she quietly urged. She stilled her fingers when the blonde didn’t comply. “Open your eyes and look at me, Nicole.” She smiled when dark green opened and gazed up at her. “I love you,” she said as she pushed her fingers inside her lover.
Nicole tried to keep her eyes open but what the redhead was doing to her made it impossible. She felt Dana’s thumb rub her clit in time with the thrusting of her fingers. “Ahhh… Dana…”
She sucked the blonde’s earlobe into her mouth and gently nipped it. “Come for me,” she breathed.
A few more strokes and she felt Nicole’s muscles clamp down hard on her fingers and the blonde’s entire body shuddered. Once she was able to remove her fingers, Dana moved to lie more directly on top of Nicole, straddling a firm thigh and pressing her own against the blonde’s center. After a couple of minutes of kissing, they began to gently rock against each other. Before long their gentle rocking turned to purposeful thrusting until they both climaxed again.
Rolling onto their sides, Dana and Nicole held each other as they drifted to sleep.
Both women were awakened by the ringing of the house phone. Dana started to move, but Nicole held onto her, keeping her in place.
“The answering machine will get it,” the blonde murmured. The ringing stopped… only to be replaced by the sound of her cell phone ringing. “Voice mail,” she said.
“What if it’s work?” Dana asked without trying to move.
“If it is they’ll try your cell.”
They both smiled when the redhead’s phone remained silent. However, Nicole’s stomach started to gripe. She hadn’t eaten anything all day.
“I’m starved. I know it’s early, but do you want to go out for dinner?”
Dana snuggled into the blonde. “No. I want to stay here.”
Nicole smiled. “I don’t feel like cooking, so what would you like to have? Chinese? Pizza? Italian?”
“Yeah. There’s a small Italian restaurant not far from here. It’s 4:30 so they’re open. I can call in an order and quickly go pick it up.”
“Mm, that sounds good.”
Nicole kissed the redhead’s forehead and then rolled towards the side of the bed, grabbing her cell phone from the nightstand. She called Frederico’s and placed an early dinner order.
Saturday, July 11th, 1998
When Nicole got back to the house after picking up their dinner, she found the redhead in her kitchen. She set the bag containing their meal on the table and then walked up behind Dana where she stood at the sink. She slipped an arm around her lover’s waist from behind and nuzzled the redhead’s neck after brushing aside wet hair.
“Mmmm… you smell good.”
“I took a shower. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing some clothes.”
“You know I don’t. And that shirt looks better on you than it ever did on me.” She was wearing an oversized, cotton, button-down, men’s shirt.
Dana was smiling when she turned around in the blonde’s embrace to face her. “You’re biased.”
Nicole gazed into sapphire blue eyes. “Perhaps. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re beautiful.” She looked down to see the shirt was only half buttoned, revealing lots of smooth skin. “And right now I don’t know what I want more – dinner or… dessert.” She pulled the redhead’s body against her own and kissed her.
Dana slipped her arms around the blonde’s neck and deepened their kiss. She felt her heart rate and temperature both shoot up. Then Nicole’s hands slipped under the shirt tail and cupped her bare ass. She broke the kiss and rested her forehead on the blonde’s shoulder, panting. “Dinner’s going to get cold.”
“I have an oven.” Nicole took half a step back, breaking their embrace. She then grabbed Dana’s hand and led her back to the bedroom.
Dana was once again wearing the oversized men’s shirt, but she was also wearing a pair of shorts as she followed Nicole back into the kitchen. The blonde was wearing a pair of shorts as well, and a tank top that made it difficult for Dana to take her eyes off of the blonde as she moved around the kitchen reheating their dinner.
Nicole trotted down to the basement and quickly returned with a bottle of wine to go with their meal. While the blonde got their food from the oven, Dana uncorked and poured the wine. They sat down and looked at each other.
“Have I told you how beautiful you are?” Nicole asked softly.
Dana felt herself blush as she automatically dropped her gaze, but the blonde made her feel beautiful. She felt Nicole take her hand and bring it to her lips, lightly kissing it.
“Or how much I love you?”
She couldn’t stop the smile that graced her lips. “I think you just spent the last couple of hours telling me.”
Nicole leaned over and lightly kissed the redhead on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Nicole was washing the dishes after dinner when the house phone rang for the what had to be the fifth time since they’d started dinner.
“Do you want me to get that?” the redhead asked. “Whoever it is seems to be quite intent on getting hold of you.”
“Nope. I’m with you and on my own time.” The blonde quickly dried her hands, walked into the living room and unplugged the phone, silencing it. She turned and found herself wrapped in her lover’s arms. She took in the redhead’s smile. “What?” she asked as she slid her arms around Dana.
She blushed, but answered the blonde anyway. “That’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me.”
“What?” Nicole asked, confused.
“Turned off the phone to be alone with me.”
She gazed into crystal blue eyes as she reached up and tenderly caressed her lover’s cheek. “Then you haven’t been spending time with the right people.”
“No, I haven’t,” she breathed before their lips met in a tender but emotion-filled kiss. To Dana it felt like coming home.
They rested their foreheads together afterwards as they just stood in a loose embrace for a several moments. When they parted they decided to relax for a little while before going to bed by watching some television. In less than an hour they were both falling asleep on the couch, so they retired to the bedroom and were both asleep by 9:00.
Nicole growled as she sleepily reached out to silence her cell phone, not half an hour after falling to sleep. She found it, but then realized it wasn’t making the noise.
“Sorry… it’s my phone,” her bedmate said as the redhead snatched her phone from the nightstand. “Scully… What?… Just a minute.” She rolled over and looked at her lover. “It’s Ian – he sounds upset.”
The blonde took the phone and brought it to her ear with a sigh. “What’s going on, Ian?”
“Where the bloody hell have you been? I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I finally had to track down Thea to get Red’s cell phone number.”
“I’ve been busy,” she replied with a smile as the redhead laid her head on her shoulder.
“Well, stop whatever you’re doing and get the hell out of there.”
“Why?” Suddenly, every sense in Nicole went on high alert.
Dana couldn’t hear what Ian was saying on the phone, but she felt the blonde’s entire body suddenly stiffen. She frowned as she sat up and looked at Nicole.
“Lance called me; he said Fritz is still in DC, and apparently he’s not going anywhere until he settles the score with you.” He paused for half a beat. “Nicole, Lance says Fritz knows where you live. So take Red and get the hell out of there.”
The blonde abruptly sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She stood and walked over to a window. She peeked out the window through a crack in the curtains. She spotted something and clenched her jaw. “I think it’s too late for that.”
“I’m on my way. I should be there in half an hour.”
“Right.” She hung up, silently cursing herself for ignoring her phone earlier. If she’d answered her phone, or just checked her messages even, she’d have known and could have gotten Dana to safety. But now it was too late – there was someone already watching the house. As a master vampire, a lack of invitation was not going to prevent Fritz, or any humans helping him, from coming inside. And once a master vampire entered, so could a few of his vampire followers.
“Nicole, what’s wrong?” Dana asked with concern.
“Get dressed.” The blonde suddenly turned and grabbed a pair of jeans which she quickly slipped into before putting on some tennis shoes.
“What’s going on?” Dana asked as she pulled on her shorts and shirt.
Nicole snatched her tank top off of the floor and pulled it on, then grabbed the redhead’s hand. “Come with me,” she said, pulling Dana along behind her.
“Nicole! What’s going on?” She tried to get the blonde to stop, but Nicole was too strong as she pulled Dana through the kitchen and opened the door to the basement.
“I’ll explain, but right now I don’t have time. We’re about to have some unwanted guests,” she said on the way down the steps and through the wine cellar to the workout room behind it.
Dana’s eyes widened when the blonde pulled one of the padded mats off a wall and revealed what looked to be a door to a safe. Nicole punched in a code into the cipher lock and pulled the door open. She slapped her hand against a control and turned on the light. Only after the blonde pulled her inside the vault did she let go of Dana’s hand. The redhead could only look around the room in stunned silence.
There were weapons of all sorts hanging on the walls – guns, knives, bows, swords, and a few things she didn’t recognize. The blonde took down a crossbow small enough to be used one-handed and slipped several bolts into the back pocket of her jeans. She then slipped a couple of knives in her waistband and took down a long, sharp sword.
“Stay here until I come and get you,” Nicole said as she stepped out of the vault and started to shut the door.
The door closed without another word from the blonde.
Nicole hadn’t even reached the top of the basement stairs when she heard glass breaking. No more time for second guessing. Showtime, she thought grimly to herself. She would certainly have preferred to be more prepared for a showdown with Fritz, a time and place of her choosing, but things didn’t always go the way you wanted them to.
She crouched on her way through the kitchen. Peeking around a corner, she saw someone coming through a broken window in the living room. That would be one of Fritz’s humans. She took out one of the knives, stepped around the corner, and threw it. The knife pierced the back of his hand and embedded in the window frame, pinning him in place.
“Looking for me?” she asked just before coldcocking him, causing his upper body to hang from his impaled hand. She pulled out the knife and, wiping the blood off on her jeans, slipped it back into her waistband. The next sound came from the kitchen – the back door.
Nicole held off the intruders for several minutes. But then they smartened up and came at her from more than one direction. She was fighting with three men when the front door was kicked in. They all stopped fighting and looked as Fritz walked into her house as if he owned it. The three men backed away as Master and Malakim faced each other in heavy silence.
Fritz was the one to break the hushed stillness. “You have been a royal pain the ass, Virtue.”
“Glad to hear it,” she replied with a disdainful smirk.
“You made me give up my nest here in Washington.”
“You tried to kill me–”
“I’m only sorry I failed.”
“–and killed an innocent instead.”
“You killed her!”
He moved forward, forcing her to look up to maintain eye contact, and glared down into her eyes. “She would be alive if not for your actions, and we both know it.”
The blonde clenched her jaw in an effort to keep from falling into his trap. Too late. He smiled, coldly and knowingly.
“Some Virtue you are. What makes you think you can touch me? You can’t even protect one poor, helpless, innocent woman. You failed. You’re a failure as a Virtue, a failure as a warrior… a pathetic failure.”
He turned his back and walked away. “Finish her.”
Four vampires that had followed Fritz into her house attacked. Nicole fought fiercely, managing to kill two of them. But in the end, she was bested.
Dana tried to push the door open, but it was locked. She searched for some kind of control that would release the heavy door, but to no avail. She took a couple of deep breaths and then took a closer look at her surroundings.
Besides the weapons hanging on the walls, there were boxes stacked against two of the walls. She opened one and discovered some ammunition in a variety of calibers – bullets that were apparently made out of silver. Opening other boxes she found dried and canned food, full water jugs, some religious texts, more weapons, and expensive electronic equipment. What the hell is going on? And what is Nicole doing with all of this stuff?
She moved something aside on a shelf and saw a control panel and monitor screen like the ones upstairs that were tied into Nicole’s alarm system. Dana had never seen the blonde use the panels to do anything other than to turn the alarm system on or off when they left or arrived at the house, and she’d never seen the monitor screens turned on. She began to push different buttons in an effort to either get the alarm to go off or to turn on the monitor – preferably both. It didn’t take long for her to let out a frustrated yell and to slam the side of her fist against the controls.
Something beeped… and then the monitor came on.
Dana stared in horror at the image on the security monitor. Two men were holding Nicole in a kneeling position by pressing down on her shoulders and pulling up and back on her wrists, straining the muscles of her shoulders, arms, and back. A third man, older, stood over her lover, hatred clearly evident in his expression.
When the man grabbed a handful of the blonde’s hair and pulled her head up, Dana saw her lover’s battered face – bloody nose, black eye, split lip, cut and bleeding eyebrow and cheek. She saw the man’s lips move, but there was no sound. Then she saw Nicole defiantly spit blood onto the man’s suit.
Fritz looked down at the red stain on the front of his expensive, silk suit. With lightning speed he struck, punching her in the side of her face.
She let out a chuff of derisive laughter. “You’re a big man, Fritz, letting others do your dirty work for you. Sure, you can hit me – but only after siccing your goons on me and while two of them hold me down. Fucking coward.”
He lashed out and struck her again, before signaling the two vampires holding her down to let go of her. “Fine. It’ll be my pleasure to beat you to a bloody pulp… and then I’ll drain you dry.” He took off his suit jacket and handed it to one of the others as he waited for the blonde to regain her feet.
Dana never felt so helpless as she did watching her lover getting beaten on the screen of the monitor. After Nicole was allowed to stand up, the man hit her again, sending the blonde flying across the room. She landed on and broke the coffee table. It didn’t appear like Nicole was even trying to fight back as the man continued to land punch after punch.
When Nicole was knocked down for the fourth or fifth time, and didn’t get back up, the man signaled for his two ‘helpers’ to pick the blonde up. They marched across the room and one of the men grabbed her left arm.
Finally, one of his punches sent her flying so that she landed within easy reach of the couch. She slipped her right hand and arm under the couch and felt for her sword which had slid there earlier. She felt a hand clamp around her left arm and the presence of the second vampire to her right. When the one the vampire yanked on her arm, jerking her up off the floor, she brought the sword up and neatly separated his head from his shoulders. Before his body turned to dust, she continued the arc and beheaded the second vampire as well.
She squared her shoulders as she faced Fritz. “Now that we’re alone, let’s try this again.” She spat some blood onto the floor and held her sword at the ready.
She couldn’t believe her eyes. The two men Nicole had just beheaded had turned to dust! It had to be a trick or… something. People just didn’t turn to dust. Feeling like she was watching some kind of horror show, Dana couldn’t tear her eyes from the screen as the man suddenly transformed into some kind of monster. His pale complexion and mostly white hair morphing to a grayish, almost reptilian appearance; no hair; eyes sunken; nose, mouth, and ears all misshapen.
“Nicole!” She hit the monitor again in frustration, inadvertently turning on the sound.
He pulled the body and the ornamental handle of his cane apart, revealing a hidden sword. “You do know the origin of my family name, don’t you? Klingemann means weapons smith. I have over 1200 years of practice wielding a sword. You’re no match for me, Virtue,” he declared in a condescending tone.
“And I have the Creator’s mandate to destroy you, Vampire,” she snarled in return. “You will die here tonight.”
He let out a yell as he attacked. Dana watched as the two combatants went at each other, both drawing blood with glancing cuts to arms and legs. He shoved the blonde into a wall, momentarily stunning her. That was when his sword struck home, entering her abdomen near her side and exiting through her back and into the wall. He grinned in triumph as she cried out in pain.
Suddenly Nicole’s entire body seem to have a silvery-white aura, and she appeared to have sprouted large, snow white wings!
Fully shifting into Malakim form, Nicole grabbed the wrist of the hand wielding the sword and squeezed as hard she could. She felt more than heard the bones in his wrist break. He pulled out of her grasp, taking the sword with him. He quickly shifted the weapon to his other hand as the blonde pushed off the wall with her wings and advanced on him.
Fritz was having trouble defending against the blonde’s attack. She kept advancing and advancing. He ducked a swing of her blade that would have decapitated him, only to be thwacked so hard by a wing that his teeth rattled. He lost his sword, batted away by an expertly timed parry. The next thing he knew, he was on his knees, the Malakim holding him from behind with an arm around his neck. He felt an impossibly painful sensation. Looking down, he saw the wooden stake, a piece of the broken coffee table, protruding from his chest.
“Welcome to hell, Fritz,” she hissed in his ear, just before a balletic swing of her blade that removed his head.
His body fell to the floor with a thud, and then began to slowly turn to ash.
Unable to remain standing, Nicole crumpled to her knees. Her sword dropped to the floor with a clang as her vision dimmed and she wavered. Her eyes closed and she collapsed.
Tears blurred the image on the screen. Dana’s heart clenched painfully in her chest. Her mind unable to grasp the reality of what she’d witnessed – Nicole in a bloody sword fight, the decapitation of two men who then turned to dust, the transformation of a man into a monster, Nicole sprouting wings and looking every bit the image of an angel, Nicole killing the monster and then collapsing from the obvious blood loss – focused only on the fact that she could very well be watching her lover die while she was locked in a hidden room in the basement.
She’d never felt so helpless. She tried hitting button after button on the control panel in an effort to be heard, only to turn it off completely. “No!” She couldn’t get it to come back on.
Sunday, July 12th, 1998
Ian knew, that as a master vampire, Fritz would not have any trouble entering Nicole’s house uninvited, but only a handful of his vampire followers would be able to follow – even a master vampire had limits. The rest would still be prevented from entering without an invitation. Even so, it was likely that Fritz would send in his human, and most dispensable, followers first. A lack of invitation was no barrier for them, and they could soften up his target first.
So when Ian arrived and found a number of Fritz’s followers outside the house, he had to fight his way past them to get into the house. He made it to the front door just in time to see Fritz’s head and body hit the floor separately and then Nicole crumple to the floor.
Ian knelt next to the blonde, careful of her wings, full of concern for his friend. “Nicole? Nicole!” He pulled out his phone. “Where the hell are you?!… I’m here and she’s not in good shape… No, no, she did it. She killed him, but it looks like he almost took her with him… Okay, see you when you get here.”
After hanging up his phone, Ian slipped off his duster, folding it and putting under the blonde’s head. He then pulled his t-shirt off over his head and used it to press against the wound in her side in an effort to staunch the bleeding.
“Come on, luv, hang in there.” He looked around while holding the material in place. “Red!… Dana! Are you here?”
Ian was concerned because he knew Dana had been with Nicole when he called – he’d called the redhead’s phone, after all. But he didn’t feel he could leave the blonde’s side, afraid that she might bleed to death if he did. His head popped up when he heard someone’s footsteps on the porch after a couple of minutes.
“Red? Is that you?”
He was surprised to see Lance tentatively stick his head in the front door. “What are you doing here?”
“I was… worried.” The elf came in and looked around nervously.
“Don’t worry, they’re all dead or gone.” He paused. “What were you worried about?”
Lance’s eyes locked on the blonde. “Her… Is she going to be okay?”
“I hope so. If she comes to she should be able to heal herself.”
“And if she doesn’t wake up?”
“Then hopefully Thea can do something for her. She should be here any minute.”
“Who’s Thea?” the elf asked.
Both men whipped their heads around and saw the brunette enter through the front door.
“Thank god you’re here. She’s been unconscious since I got here,” said Ian.
Thea knelt next to her friend, careful to avoid her wings. She moved aside Ian’s hand and looked under the blood-soaked, makeshift bandage. “Dammit!”
“Do what you do; help her,” Ian said.
“Why not? You’re a witch, aren’t you?”
“A witch?” Lance exclaimed, backing away from her nervously.
“I can’t help her because she’s a Malakim.” She looked at Lance. “Don’t worry, you’re safe, elf… unless you had something to do with this.”
“Me?! No, no!”
“He’s a good bloke, Thea. Lance is the one who warned me Fritz was going to come after Nicole.”
Thea looked at the elf again. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
“So why can’t you help her?” Ian asked.
“Malakims are immune to magic. It’s one of the ways they’re protected.” She looked around. “Where’s Dana?”
“I don’t know.”
Witch, elf, and vampire all looked down to see the blonde’s eyes were open, though dulled by pain as she struggled to stay conscious. She retracted her wings.
“Where is she, Nicole?” Thea asked.
“I’ll get her.” She stood. “Continue to keep pressure on the wound,” she instructed before quickly heading to the kitchen and then down to the basement.
As soon as Thea opened the door Dana burst out of the room and raced up the stairs. “Nicole!” She dropped next to the blonde, appalled at the injuries she could see… and terrified of the ones she couldn’t. “Call an ambulance!” she ordered.
“No…” Nicole said softly.
“You’re hurt; you need to go to the hospital,” Dana argued.
“I’ll be okay… just need some time…”
It was clear that she wanted to argue the point, but Thea stepped in. “She’ll be okay, Dana,” she said, though she didn’t sound as convincing as the redhead would have liked.
Dana slipped into doctor mode in an effort to deal with her overwhelming fear. “She’s lost too much blood; she’ll go into hypovolemic shock.”
“We can get blood.” Thea looked at Ian. “Ian?”
“Let’s get her settled before you go.”
Ian very gently slipped his arms under the blonde and picked her up.
Dana felt confused and out of her element as she followed Ian to Nicole’s bedroom. He carefully laid the injured woman on the bed and then moved aside to allow the redhead to check Nicole out. He excused himself when Dana started to carefully remove the blonde’s bloodied clothes.
“I won’t be long.”
Dana gasped when she saw the wound in her lover’s side. And the dark bruises that littered Nicole’s body could mean some broken bones. “Nicole, this is bad; I have to call an ambulance.”
“No. It’s not necessary. I just need some time,” she asserted weakly.
Dana didn’t know what to think. The wounds were not minor, but Nicole was… Well, what the hell is she? She mentally sighed. What the hell do you think?! Humans just don’t sprout wings, glow, and fight 1200-year-old vampires.
She looked into those dark green eyes that made her heart flip-flop.
“I’m still me, Dana. I’m as human as you are.”
Somehow I find that a little hard to believe. She swallowed. “I need to get you cleaned up,” was all she said.
Dana left the bedroom to obtain and a large bowl of warm, soapy water and a clean washcloth. She found Thea and the young man she didn’t know straightening up.
“Do you need any help with Nicole, Dana?” Thea asked.
“Yeah, that would be good.”
“Just continue to clean up, Lance. I’ll take care of the blood stains later.”
Dana returned, set the bowl on the nightstand, and sat on the side of the bed next to Nicole. Thea sat on the other side and helped Dana to gently clean the blood from her lover’s battered body. The cuts on the blonde’s legs and arms weren’t overly deep, but they had bled a lot and marred her flawless skin. Nicole sucked in a painful gasp when Dana carefully cleaned the blood from the wound in her side.
Dana stood and went into the master bathroom, rifled through the medicine cabinet, and returned. “Here, take these, Nicole,” she said while holding out two strong pain pills – leftovers from the prescription Nicole got following her injury and surgery on her pectoral muscle.
The blonde hesitated, knowing her mind would have to be clear for her to heal, but she decided some pain relief would offset the delay. She took them.
“How do you feel?” Thea asked as she and Dana resumed their task.
“Like the tomato in a Ginsu commercial.”
Looking at the wounds made by the sharp edge of Fritz’s sword the comparison seemed more than apt.
Dana’s heart ached at the painful damage done to her lover’s body. Reluctant to make eye contact, she focused on the cut on Nicole’s forehead and spoke softly. “So what’s the penalty for trying to kill an angel?”
“Fingernails on a chalkboard… never-ending…”
Dana couldn’t suppress a small smile at the lighthearted answer.
Nicole exchanged a look with Thea, who nodded in understanding.
“I’m going to go check on Lance.” The brunette left the two women alone.
Nicole winced as the redhead continued to clean her wounds. She looked up into Dana’s crystal blue eyes. “And I’m… not an angel…”
With the pain medication kicking in, the blonde’s eyes closed and she drifted asleep. Dana finished cleaning Nicole’s wounds, bandaging the wound in her side, and then pulled the covers up over her. Taking the bowl of water with her, she left the bedroom. She found Thea and Lance in the kitchen. The brunette was fixing some tea.
“How is she doing?” Thea asked when she turned and saw Dana.
Dana emptied the bowl and washed it and her hands. “She’s sleeping.” She sat down with a sigh.
“Don’t worry, Dana, Nicole will be fine,” she replied, trying to convince herself as much as the redhead. She took in Dana’s expression as she gazed off into nothing. “Are you okay, Dana?”
“I’m just…” She struggled to find the words to accurately capture what she was feeling. “Nothing makes a whole lot of sense right now. I mean… that man was… he was…”
“A vampire – a master vampire to be more accurate.”
The redhead closed her eyes and shook her head. “How am I supposed to react to that?” She took a couple of slow breaths. “Or to what Nicole is?” She opened her eyes and looked at Thea. “What is Nicole?”
It was the brunette’s turn to sigh. “I think that’s something you need to discuss with her. It’s not my place.”
They all heard Ian return. He entered the kitchen and held out a pint of blood, some saline, and an IV kit to Dana. “Here. This is for Nicole.”
“How do you know it’s her blood type?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Thea said.
Dana whipped her head around. “It does matter. She’s not AB-positive.”
“I know. Her blood types as O-negative, but she can receive blood of any type. It’s… an advantage she has.” She saw the redhead’s skepticism. “Trust me. I’ve known Nicole most of my life and I would never do anything to jeopardize her. Our families have been close for generations.”
Given what she’d seen already that night, Dana was almost glad that someone else seemed to know more than she did about everything. She and the brunette went into the bedroom. She inserted the IV needle and opened the valve to let the blood flow. Tears filled her eyes as she again took in the blonde’s injuries. Thea sensed Dana could use a few moments alone, so with a reassuring pat on the redhead’s shoulder, she left the bedroom.
When Dana returned to the kitchen, the other three were sitting at the kitchen table sipping some tea. She poured herself a cup and then sat down.
“Don’t worry, Red, she’ll be right as rain,” Ian said. “Nicole’s a lot tougher than she looks.”
She looked at him. “What the hell is going on? And why were you at The Mission with Nicole?”
“Lance tipped me off that Fritz was in town. I told Nicole and she decided to go after him,” he answered calmly.
“Because it’s what she does. It’s who she is.”
“And who exactly are you?” she demanded, looking each of the three in the eyes.
“I’m Ian McGregor. I was born 117 years ago in Glasgow, Scotland.” He held her gaze. “And I’m a vampire.” He allowed his eyes to change and his fangs to lengthen. At the look in her eyes, he changed back and continued. “I do not feed on humans and despite the fact that Nicole and I are natural born enemies, we’re friends now. With her help I’ve… redeemed myself. I told you before – Nicole stood by me when no one else would. I know that if I ever need anything, all I have to do is ask and she’ll be there. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her.”
Before she could even process what Ian had said, Thea spoke up.
“I’m Althea Wickersham and I’m a witch.” She shot Ian a look of ominous warning, preventing him making any comment about her first name. “My clan has served Nicole’s clan for countless generations. My duty is to assist Nicole in whatever way I can.” She smirked and added, “When she lets me.”
“I thought you were a hacker and owned a software company.”
“I am and I do. Nicole’s tendency to work alone has left me with plenty of time to turn my hacking skills into a profitable software company. It was my company’s jet that flew you down to Great Thatch Island.”
Dana slowly rubbed her face with one of her hands before she pinned the other person at the table with a look.
Lance almost winced at the hard look in the redhead’s eyes. “I only met her a few days ago.”
“Lance is the one who warned me Fritz was going to come after Nicole,” Ian explained.
“And how did you know?” Dana demanded.
He shrugged. “I’m an elf; I hear things.”
“An elf?” Blue eyes widened.
He reached up with both hands, brushing the hair back on the sides of his head and tucking it behind his pointed ears. “Yeah. People don’t take elves seriously, so they don’t always notice we’re around.” He shrugged.
Dana had had enough; she needed to think. The redhead stood and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. She stood in the middle of the room with her eyes closed, trying to order her thoughts.
After several moments, Thea followed.
“Are you okay, Dana?”
“How am I supposed to believe all of this? I’m supposed to believe that Ian’s a vampire, Lance is an elf, you’re a witch, and Nicole is–” She couldn’t finish that sentence. “She has wings!”
“I know it’s a lot to take in. But Nicole has told me about the kinds of cases you work. Surely you’ve encountered things that seemed just as incredible during your investigations.”
“I’m a scientist, I need…”
The redhead turned to look at Thea who was sporting an amused smirk. The brunette gently grabbed Dana’s arm and coaxed her to move aside a couple of steps. She then recited something in what sounded like Latin but wasn’t. The redhead couldn’t believe her eyes as the blood stain from where Nicole had lain bleeding from her wounds disappeared. Dana shot the brunette a look of incredulity.
Thea smiled benevolently. “Go sit with Nicole; I’ll take care of fixing things,” she said with a wave at the coffee table, broken windows, and the splintered front doorjamb. “Then I’ll chase the other two out of here before leaving as well.” She put her hand on Dana’s arm, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “As far as Nicole goes… just talk to her, Dana. She’s the same person you’ve known all along.”
The redhead sighed but nodded. She met Ian in the hallway on the way to the bedroom. He gently caught her arm, and looked into her eyes.
“Red…” He wanted to find the right words to make things okay for his friend. “She would have told you if she knew how. She’s never stuck around long enough to have to explain.” He held her eyes to convey the import of his words. “Nicole chose to stay here… for you. She loves you.” After a moment he let go of her arm. “I’m going to go, but if you need anything call me – I left you my number on the counter in the kitchen.”
Not knowing what to say, she simply nodded and headed into the bedroom. In the bedroom, Dana checked on her lover, making sure her breathing was regular and her pulse was strong. She then sat in the chair… and watched Nicole sleep while trying to sort through her thoughts and feelings.
Sunday, July 12th, 1998
When Nicole woke up it was still dark out. She slowly turned her head to look at the clock radio on the nightstand.
“It’s just after 3:00 am.”
Dana’s voice almost startled her. She looked at the redhead, seated in the chair across from her bed. “You’re angry,” she sighed.
“I’m not sure what I am.” She took a slow breath. “You lied to me.”
“No, I didn’t. I just didn’t tell you everything.”
“You said your abilities were a result of you being able to use the unused part of the brain, but that’s not it, is it?”
The blonde closed her eyes and let out a slow breath. “It’s part of it.” She opened her eyes. Her fear for her relationship with Dana was almost too much to bear. Tears began to fill her eyes as she stared at the ceiling. Part of her really didn’t want to do this now, but Dana deserved answers. “I’m sorry, Dana. I’m sorry. I really believed that I couldn’t tell you. I tried to tell you… in small doses.”
“You still haven’t really told me.”
“What would you have had me do? ‘Hi, I’m Agent Logan your new partner, and by the way, I’m a Malakim. In fact I come from a long line of Malakims – like my grandmother.'”
“Malakim? But that’s an ang–”
“That is a commonly held misconception. Malakims are not angels. We’re human, completely human. We just… we’ve just been given certain… gifts… like enhanced senses, augmented strength and recuperative abilities, and the gift of tongues – the ability to speak and understand any language.”
“The gift of tongues? Then why do you have translation texts?”
“Writing and reading are different from speaking and understanding. Or at least it is for me.”
There were a few more minutes of silence, which Dana finally broke. “Is there anything else I should know?”
Nicole let out a heavy sigh. “Probably…” Nicole turned her head to look at Dana. “But can we, please, not do this right now?… I don’t have the strength for anymore right now.”
Dana looked at Nicole and saw the truth of her words in her eyes. After a couple of seconds she moved to sit on the side of the bed and grasped the blonde’s hand, squeezing it. No matter what, she loved Nicole and nothing had changed that. And… Nicole was right. What did she expect Nicole to do differently? If the blonde told her before the night’s events that she was a… a Malakim, Dana would have thought her crazy. And in analysis, Nicole did tell her the truth – she told Dana about her knack for languages, and demonstrated them; and almost from the first Nicole had said she was a fast healer and she was stronger than she looked; and she had told Dana about her enhanced senses. She brought Nicole’s hand to her lips and kissed the back of it.
“I am upset – more with the situation than with you. And I do have questions, but they can wait for now. I love you, Nicole, and I don’t want to lose you.”
The tears in Nicole’s eyes rolled down her face. “I don’t want to lose you either, Dana.”
Dana squeezed her hand and brought it to her lips once again. “You’re not going to.” She took in the lines pain had etched in her lover’s features. “Do you want some more pain medication?”
“No. I need to be clearheaded to heal.” She felt Dana squeeze her hand. “I really do heal quickly… even more so now… that I don’t have to hide it.” She gave Dana a small smile before closing her eyes.
As the blonde’s heart rate and respirations slowed, Dana stood and just looked down at her lover. The beating Nicole had taken was brutal, and the sight of her battered face and body tore at Dana’s heart. Tears began to roll down her cheeks. She wiped them away with a sniff and grabbed a robe. She escaped to the bathroom. She let out her sobs once under the running water of the shower. She jumped when she stepped out of the shower and saw Nicole leaning heavily against the doorjamb, still clearly in a lot of pain. Dana reached for a towel and wrapped it around herself as she moved towards the blonde.
“Are you alright? Do you need anything?” she asked full of concern.
“Are you alright?”
“Me? I’m fine.”
“You were crying.”
Dana’s first instinct was to deny it, but then she realized it would be of no use. “Just… everything catching up with me,” she said softly, looking at the floor.
Nicole held her arms out. “Come here.”
Dana almost hesitated, but she needed Nicole’s arms around her. She moved into her lover’s arms and they closed around her. She put her arms around Nicole’s waist, careful of her damaged ribs and the bandaged wound on her side.
Nicole held Dana’s still wet, towel-clad body to her. “I’m so sorry, Dana. I never meant to hurt you. I’m sorry. I understand if… if it’s too much–”
She pulled back. “Don’t. Don’t even finish that thought,” Dana warned.
The blonde took a deep breath and let it out. “Sorry. Guess things are catching up with me as well.” She pulled the redhead back close to her. “Just know one thing – I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Suddenly Dana felt Nicole slump a little. “Are you okay?”
She nodded weakly. “I need to lie down.”
“Let me help you.” With her arm around the blonde’s waist she helped her lover back to the bedroom and to lie down again. “Is there anything you need? You took your IV out – I should hook that back up.”
“No need to do that. I just need some time.” Her eyes closed and she centered herself, once again lowering her heart rate and respiration.
Dana slipped on the oversized, men’s shirt and retrieved her laptop. She settled in the chair in the bedroom and kept watch over her lover as the blonde slept, researching, trying to learn as much she could about Malakims. Everything she found said Malakims were angels, heaven’s soldiers and champions, single-minded in their love of battle and defeating the forces of hell. They were also known as the Virtues, and were sometimes called ‘the shining ones.’ They provided courage, grace, and valor.
Courage, grace, and valor… that’s a perfect description of Nicole, Dana thought to herself.
However, nothing she could find told her how to deal with having a Malakim as a lover. She closed her laptop and her eyes. What now? Where do we go from here? I love her, but…
No. No buts. For the first time in my life I know I’m in love, and Nicole makes me feel loved. I’ve just found her and I’m not going to lose her.
As the sun began to rise she turned off the light, set her laptop aside, and slipped into the other side of the bed. Despite her exhaustion, sleep did not come easily.
Sunday, July 12th, 1998
It was Sunday afternoon when Nicole woke up. She was infinitely grateful to find Dana sharing her bed instead of sitting in the chair across the room. She lay there simply watching her lover sleep for several minutes. She sent up a prayer of thanks that the events of the previous night did not cost her Dana and her love. Her heart felt it was about to burst with the love she felt for the redhead. She rolled onto her side and with a smile started to carefully unbutton the oversized cotton shirt.
“Mmmm…” Dana was slowly waking to the wonderful sensation of a warm, moist mouth suckling at her breast. She didn’t open her eyes, just reveled in the sensations. Oh, God, that feels so good… She felt her lover’s warm body shift and gentle fingers grazed auburn curls and then her wet and swollen lips. She moaned in pleasure. A hungry mouth captured hers and she returned the kiss. A warm, wet mouth nuzzled and worried her neck and throat as she arched up into her lover’s body. She brought her knees up, opening herself up completely and groaned as deft fingers filled her.
Nicole could feel Dana’s wet heat squeezing her fingers as she moved in and out of her. The redhead’s constant moans were music to her ears. Dana was completely unrestrained and uninhibited, totally lost in sensation. She had never allowed herself to really give up control with a lover before. Only with Nicole did she let go. Only Nicole made her feel safe to do so, made her want to.
She felt it begin deep within her belly, the warmth and tightness, growing and infusing her veins with molten heat. It spread throughout her body. Her heart was thundering beneath her breastbone, her lungs sucked in gasps of air, her muscles trembled, and bright flashes exploded behind her eyelids.
Dana came explosively, physically and vocally, and Nicole felt a sympathetic resonance sing through her own body. Her cry joined Dana’s as she also climaxed.
Nicole’s body bonelessly collapsed on top of the redhead’s. She felt Dana’s legs slowly settle onto the bed on either side of her. Dana’s arms still rested around her as Nicole’s head lay on her shoulder. Both were trying to catch their breath and slow their hearts. Soon the blonde rolled off of Dana, onto her back next to the redhead.
When Dana caught her breath she rolled over, partially onto the blonde’s body. She caressed Nicole’s cheek as she gazed at her face. She was surprised to see that the cuts, bruising, and swelling around her lover’s eye and on her lip were gone. She slowly ran her eyes, and hand, down Nicole’s torso, running over previously battered, bruised, and lacerated skin. As she did so, Nicole reached up and lethargically peeled away the bandage from her upper chest, revealing the absence of knife wounds and surgical incisions. Full of wonder, Dana removed the bandaging from the blonde’s terrible side wound. She touched every part of her lover’s body that had been injured, attempting to make the fact that Nicole was fully healed real in her mind.
“As long as I’m not unconscious and have a clear mind, I can accelerate healing. Injuries anyway. Things like a cold, migraines, and stuff like that I have to suffer through just like anyone else.”
“Is it difficult?”
Nicole gave her a half smile. “It took me a number years to learn how to do it.”
“So that explains how you recuperated so quickly after what happened in Chattanooga.”
The blonde nodded, remembering their first case together and the beating ‘Gumby’ had given her because she’d screwed up. “Yeah. Once the drugs and concussion wore off, I was able to heal.” She saw Dana frown. “What?”
“If you have to have your mind clear, then how were you able to recuperate so quickly when Brian Monroe drugged you?”
“I took some precautions earlier that day… a kind of antitoxin to help retard the effects.”
Dana thought for a moment. “Like the tea we had before going out clubbing?”
“Yes and no. The tea is definitely beneficial in a number of ways, but it was what I added to it.”
“You mean the substance you added to my tea when I was sick?”
“How can what you used to help me also be used as an antitoxin?
“Think of the substance like stem cells. It fills whatever role is needed. It’s what settled your stomach after radiation and chemo treatments, helped me resist and overcome what Brian Monroe drugged me with, and helped prevent a hangover from the alcohol we drank when we went clubbing. It was also the main ingredient of the balm that eased your saddle soreness in Montana, and in the sunscreen that prevented you from burning. It’s really quite amazing.”
“I know I didn’t ask for a sample after I got back, but…” She paused for a few moments before continuing. “Does the offer still stand? Can I still get a sample to examine?”
Nicole gave her an affectionate smile. “Yes. I’ll give you a sample.” She sat up, carefully released her wings, and plucked a feather. “Simply break open the quill and extract the liquid.” After retracting her wings she held the feather out to the redhead, but Dana had jumped off of the bed and was staring at her, dumbfounded, from several feet away. “What’s wrong?”
“They’re r-real. You really have wings.” She shook her head. “I thought I saw them on the monitor, but I…” She again shook her head. “And you glow!”
Nicole’s brow creased. “You saw me glow?”
“Yes, all silvery like.”
“Last night when you were fighting…”
“When you were fighting Fritz. And just now when you… when you had wings.”
“Come here, Dana,” she said gently as she held her hand out. “Please.”
She took the blonde’s hand and sat on the bed again.
“Normally, the only physical manifestation people can see are the wings and something in my eyes. It takes someone very special to see that ‘glow.'”
Dana didn’t have a clue about what to think or say. “I’m having a hard time believing my own eyes.”
“Then do more than look,” Nicole said gently. She once again released her wings.
Reflexively, Dana’s hand moved towards the snow white feathers of the wing outstretched in front of her, but she stopped herself. Her eyes cut to the blonde’s. “May I?”
Nicole nodded. “Of course. If you can’t touch them then no one can.”
Her hand continued its journey until her fingertips grazed the unbelievably soft feathers. She sucked in a surprised breath. “They’re so soft,” she said, wonder coloring her tone. She moved her hand to the top edge of the wing, running her palm along it, feeling the underlying strength and warmth of the bone and flesh beneath the feathers, her eyes wide. “How?” she whispered in awe.
“I know you have a lot of questions, and I’ll answer what I can. But I’m rather hungry since we haven’t eaten since last night. Let’s go get something to eat and we can talk. Okay?”
At the mention of food, Dana realized how hungry she was as well. She nodded. The two women got up. Nicole retracted her wings and slipped on her robe. Dana buttoned the oversized shirt and followed her lover into the kitchen. Working together they threw together a light meal of cut up fresh fruit. They ate rather quickly and then settled down on the couch to talk. They sat close, but facing each other. Dana stared at the feather she nervously worried between her fingers. Nicole reached out and took one of Dana’s hands in hers, watching her, waiting.
Finally Dana broke the silence. “Why?”
“Why what, Dana?”
“Why are you a… a Malakim?”
“Boy, you go right for the hard ones, don’t you?” she said with a small, rueful smile. The blonde squeezed Dana’s hand, and cut off her apology. “It’s okay.” She took a deep breath and let it out. “Malakims are… well, heaven’s soldiers, champions. Our purpose is to hunt and battle evil forces in the world. To carry out our duty we are given certain abilities… abilities angelic in nature. But Malakims are not, and never have been, angels. We’ve always been human. We’re paladins, basically.”
“Paladins? As in Charlemagne’s paladins?”
“No. No Malakim would ever fight for or against a particular religion. Charlemagne was a fanatical papist. All religions that further the goodness in people are valid paths to the Creator.”
“The Creator, you mean God?”
Nicole smiled. “That is one name, but also very limiting. The Creator is so much more and has been known by countless names. The Creator has been called God, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, Mother Earth, Tian, Yahweh, Wakantanka, Deus, or any of a thousand other names.”
“But why you?”
Nicole took a deep breath. “My family.”
Dana raised an eyebrow in question.
“One of my ancestors was chosen, thousands of years ago. Since then the duty, the privilege, has been passed down my family line ever since.”
“You said your grandmother was a Malakim?”
Nicole nodded. “Yes, but not my mother.”
“So it skips a generation?”
Nicole smiled. “It’s not that simple. Grandma’s father was also a Malakim. And remember, I could have chosen not to develop my abilities.”
“Who…” Dana hesitated asking one of the questions that scared her.
“It alright, Dana, go ahead and ask,” she said gently.
“Who do you work for?”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Nicole smiled. “I know what you mean. If you’re asking if I receive direct communication from the Creator, the answer is no. But there are others who are in the same fight.”
“Yes, and others. As I said, the world is full of all kinds of creatures, good and evil.”
“Do I want to know?”
Nicole shrugged. “I don’t know, but it seems to me you’ve already faced a number of the world’s evils, in their varying forms.” She gave Dana’s hand a squeeze. “And you’ve met some of the good ones – Ian, Thea, Lance, and Ariel.”
“Ian said he’s…”
“A vampire, yes. But he’s redeemed himself. He one of the good guys now.”
“And Thea is a witch.” It sounded like both a statement and a question.
“Yes. And Lance is an elf.”
Dana ran a slow hand over her face as she tried to absorb everything. “You also mentioned Ariel.”
The blonde smiled. “Ariel is an angel.”
“Ariel is a Guardian Angel. I knew her in life. When she died she became an angel.”
“But she didn’t have any wings… or a halo…”
Nicole couldn’t keep from smiling. She closed her eyes and sent out a call for her friend. By the time she opened her eyes a few moments later, there was a form coalescing a couple of feet away. Dana’s eyes were wide with shock as she watched Ariel take form right in front of her. The blonde felt the hand she was holding in her own tremble.
Ariel smiled benevolently. “I’m glad to see that you’re alright, Nicole.”
The angel looked at Dana. “And you look quite healthy and happy… though a bit shell-shocked.”
“I’ve told Dana that you’re an angel and she pointed out that you don’t have wings or a halo.”
Ariel smiled and then snapped her fingers. Suddenly she was every bit that vision of a ‘traditional’ angel – wings, halo, and flowing white robe. “Is this more what you’d expect?”
“I-I guess.” Dana couldn’t help but reach out to touch the woman.
Ariel caught her hand and gave it a squeeze. “Yes, I am real.” In the blink of an eye she changed back to her original appearance. She knelt in front of Dana, looking her in the eyes. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but trust me – everything will be fine. You have a blessed soul, Dana.” She glanced at the blonde. “You both do.” With that, she began to fade and was gone in a moment.
Dana’s hand that had been holding Ariel’s suddenly closed around nothing. She looked at the blonde in astonishment.
“She right. Everything will be okay.” Nicole leaned forward and lightly pressed her lips against the redhead’s.
Dana was silent as she tried to order her thoughts and feelings.
“What’s wrong, Dana,” Nicole asked as she observed the redhead’s expression.
“I’ve struggled so much with… the church, my faith the last couple of years.”
“Two entirely different things. The church is not your faith, Dana. And no matter what struggles you’ve faced, you haven’t let them change the good that is in you. Even when you have your greatest doubts you still have a good heart and soul. You are a good person. You are a beautiful woman, Dana, with a beautiful soul.” The blonde spoke in a heartfelt tone and meant every word.
Nicole’s words touched something deep inside Dana and she felt a lump form in her throat. She pressed her lips together and breathed in through her nose in an effort to hold back the tears that welled in her eyes. Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed by Nicole, who shifted and wrapped Dana in her strong, warm arms. They adjusted so that the redhead was sitting with her back to Nicole, and the blonde’s arms were around her. Dana turned her head and rested her forehead against Nicole’s jaw. She felt fingers trail through her hair.
After relaxing in her lover’s arms for a couple of minutes, Dana turned her face away from the blonde and Nicole felt the redhead tense up. She correctly guessed what Dana’s next question was.
“Why were you assigned to the X-Files?” Dana asked almost inaudibly. She was afraid of the answer.
The blonde took a deep breath. Finally she responded softly, but clearly, “Because of the Consortium… and because of you.”
Dana sat up, pulling away from Nicole. Her hands were shaking slightly and she closed her eyes. “So I’m still somebody’s pawn.”
“No, Dana, you’re no pawn.” She let out a sigh. “No one’s trying to use you, least of all me. I was supposed to take care of the Consortium, but the priority was to save your life. It wasn’t your time to die, Dana. And personally, I’m glad.” She sat quietly, allowing the redhead some time to process her words.
Finally, Dana spoke again. “Then why wait?”
“If you mean why wasn’t I, or someone else, sent sooner, I don’t know. And if you mean why did I wait until you were in the hospital… I did the best I could, Dana.” Tears filled her eyes. “Believe me, it killed me to almost lose you,” she barely managed to strangle out around the lump in her throat.
Dana turned and saw the stricken look on her lover’s face and the tears in her eyes. She immediately moved to take the blonde in her arms. She kissed Nicole and gently wiped the few tears that had escaped. “I’m sorry I questioned you or your motives.”
The blonde tightened her arms around her lover. “It’s okay… I understand. After everything you’ve been through… I’d do the same thing.”
They kissed and simply held each other for a couple of minutes. When they finally parted, the blonde kept her arm around Dana’s shoulders and the redhead laid her head on Nicole’s shoulder. She kissed Dana’s forehead. “Dana, I would change some things if I could, but I’m not sorry I was assigned as your partner. And I’m not sorry I was able to find a way to help you and to take out the Consortium.”
She squeezed the blonde’s hand. “I’m not either. It’s just… a lot to take in.”
“Why did you request a transfer when I came back?”
Nicole took a deep breath before replying. “Because I had completed my assignment – I achieved both objectives…” she paused before continuing, “… and because I’d fallen in love with you.”
“You wanted to leave because you fell in love with me?” Dana picked up her head off Nicole’s shoulder and looked at her.
“I didn’t think I stood a chance with you.”
“So why did you stay?”
“Because I’d fallen in love with you,” she said with a small smile. “And because you asked me to.”
“Where would you have gone if you’d left?”
“Back to Europe, back to the work I was doing before.”
Dana frowned. “Wait a minute, your file said you’d been on medical leave when you were assigned to the division.”
The blonde nodded and let out a sigh. “I know. That wasn’t exactly the case.”
“So the incident in Bucharest, your previous partner–”
“All true. Only the timeline was altered a little in my public file. I was already back to work, and in the middle of an assignment. I was recalled with no notice and that’s never happened before. I was back here in DC the same night as Agent Mulder’s death, and had my initial meeting with Skinner.”
“Skinner – does he know what you are?”
“Not exactly. He’s aware of a couple of things about me, but he doesn’t know everything, and he doesn’t know I’m a Malakim.”
“You’re the one who helped him, aren’t you? You said he was no longer compromised. You did something about it, didn’t you?”
Nicole nodded. “I merely offered him a second chance. It was up to him whether to take it or not. Just like you.”
They talked until late, until time to go to bed so they could get up and go to work in the morning. They retired to the bedroom. Nicole slipped off her robe and got into bed. Dana removed her shirt and also slipped under the covers. After only a moment’s hesitation the redhead wrapped her arms around her lover and held her close. They kissed tenderly.
Nicole saw something pass behind the redhead’s eyes. “What?”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course you can.”
“Is… homosexuality a sin?”
The blonde reached up and tenderly caressed her lover’s cheek. “No. The sin is in not being honest with oneself, in denying who and what you are. Love – selfless, giving love – is never a sin.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because the Creator not only made me a Malakim, but also made me gay. Homophobia – like hate, fear, racism, the crusades, the inquisition, etc. – is a construct of mankind, of the church, not a construct of the Creator.” She took one of Dana’s hands in her own and touched it to her forehead. “I know it here,” she laid Dana’s palm over her heart, “and I know it here.”
Wanting to fully believe Nicole, Dana continued with her probing. “But what about the bible? It says–”
“It says what fearful, misogynistic men decided it said.” She gave Dana a small smile. “Remember, there are over 50 versions of the bible in English alone. Which one is the right one?” she asked rhetorically. “I can tell you that in the original texts, in the original languages, there is no such condemnation. Even in the third and fourth centuries men could not agree on the interpretation of the bible.” She gave Dana a small smile. “Did you know that ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ isn’t even a commandment?”
“What do you mean?”
“In the original Hebrew, it’s ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ You’d be quite surprised how things are actually worded in the original texts.”
“So the church is wrong…”
“The church is a construct of mankind, an attempt at understanding the Creator and the Creator’s plan. But as a construct of mankind the church is fallible – most apparent in the position that their way is the one and only way to God.”
“You mean the Catholic church.”
“I mean all churches who claim that theirs is the only way, be they Christian or otherwise. There is no ‘one true way’ to know the Creator. The Creator is made known to each person in a unique and personal way. When you’re at peace, conduct yourself ethically, and strive for the betterment of yourself and others, you know you’re on the right path.”
Dana gazed in Nicole’s dark green eyes. “You seem so sure.”
“I have to be… to do what I do, I have to be.” She let out a deep breath. “But I’m just as human as the next person, and I have my doubts, and I get angry, and there are times I hate the Creator, and I…” she paused. “I have as many human failings as anyone… but I keep trying.” Nicole stopped and gazed into Dana’s eyes. “I know you were raised in the Catholic church and that its teachings are the foundation of your faith. Take from it what feels right to you and follow your heart. You have a good heart and soul, and as long as you listen to them, you’ll not go wrong.”
Everything Nicole said felt so right and fit so well with her own personal thoughts and feelings. She moved forward and kissed her. “Thank you.”
“For not dismissing my questions and discussing this so honestly and plainly. Faith isn’t always an easy topic of discussion.”
Nicole nodded. “I know. If I helped, I’m glad. But I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even sure of the questions a lot of the time,” she said with a small smile. “But I don’t ever want you to feel you can’t talk to me or be afraid to ask questions. I don’t want communication to ever be a problem. I love you, Dana, so very much. I’ve never felt this way about anyone.” She again caressed Dana’s cheek very tenderly. “You touch my heart and my soul.” They kissed tenderly.
They drifted to sleep in each other arms, contented smiles gracing their lips.
Monday, July 13th, 1998
They had to part ways in the morning since Dana had to go home to prepare for work. When she walked into their office the redhead smiled as she was handed a mug of fresh, hot tea… and received a kiss.
“Good morning,” the blonde said with a smile.
“Yes, it is,” Dana replied, also smiling.
“There was a note on my desk – Skinner wants to see us first thing.”
“Then let’s go.”
They were allowed to enter the AD’s office as soon as they arrived.
“Good morning, Agent Scully, Agent Logan.”
“Good morning, sir,” they replied in unison as they took their seats.
“I need to know if you’re up to working in the field, Logan.”
“Yes, I am.”
“It’s my understanding you’d need a few weeks of light duty.”
“Not necessary. I heal fast and I’m ready to go.”
He looked at the redhead questioningly.
“As Agent Logan’s physician, I can assure you she is well enough for field duty. And as her partner, I trust her implicitly to have my back.”
After a moment he gave a curt nod. “Very well.” He slid a couple of folders across his desk to them and proceeded to tell them about their newest case.
Dana and Nicole exchanged a look, and a smile, that verified their future together was secure – professionally and personally. They were partners, in every sense of the word.