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Rating: PG-13 for adult subject matter – I may frighten the characters I work with, but I don’t cause them physical harm.
Pairing: Nico/Dani
Disclaimer: I don’t own either Necessary Roughness or Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The quote seemed to work so I borrowed it along with the characters.
Timeline: For the purposes of this story TK was shot late on the first day of the playoffs, Saturday, January 7, 2012
Beta: Olfactory-Ventriloquism – Amanda has edited the last few chapters and is now kind enough to start on those that were posted before she came onboard.
Enjoy

Fear of Flying


nico-and-dani-evaluate-tk


Ch 1 - Stepping Into The Darkness

By Lattelady

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"When you come to the edge of all the light you have known, and are about to step out into darkness, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen. There will be something to stand on, or you will be taught to fly.” - From Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
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3 AM - Thursday January 12, 2012 - 5 days after TK was shot

The cell phone vibrated insistently against his abdomen, waking Nico Careles from a restless sleep. He swung his feet over the side of the couch, running one hand through unkempt hair as he put the phone to his ear.

“Talk to me, Margaret.” He said curtly. Leaning his elbows on his knees, he locked out all emotion; fear and anger wouldn’t help now, but later, when he found the person or people responsible, he would put the anger to good use.

“It was as you suspected,” Dr. Margaret Browning, head of Emergency Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and one of Nico’s many contacts, sighed. “The liquid in the glass you gave me was carbonated water laced with Rohypnol. No alcohol, thank God. The drug is bad enough on its own, if there had been anything stronger than water mixed with it, I doubt she would have been lucid enough to call you.”

“And the rape kit?” He clenched his fist; the images the question brought to mind were unimaginable.

“It was negative.”

“You’re sure?” Nico demanded.

“As sure as I can be. The swabs didn’t turn up anything unusual: no semen, no spermicide, and no lubricant. I didn’t see any damage when I took the specimens last night. Unfortunately, enough of that kind of thing comes through the Emergency Department. I know what to look for.”

“Jesus,” he gasped, remembering pacing the living room while Dr. Browning had examined the unconscious woman in his bedroom. “I sometimes wonder how you can do what you do.”

“It’s necessary,” her words were soft, clear and honest. “And I can help people, if they let me.”

He waited for her to add the obvious, ‘that she wondered how he could do what he did’, when she didn’t, he was gratified. “Thanks for the house call...for the help.”

“She’ll wake up with the mother of all hangovers and no memory of what happened. You’re going to have to tell her everything, including my visit last night. None of that evasive language you’ve perfected to an art form. It may keep you honest while giving very little away, but that’s not what she needs right now.”

“I’ll take care of it.” He pursed his lips; the doctor was too damn observant. “How’s Val doing?” He asked about her husband as much from interest as a need to deflect the conversation.

“He’s much better. I’ll never be able to repay you for getting him out of trouble. He attends AA regularly and hasn’t missed a day of work since he left rehab.”

“You don’t owe me anything, especially after last night.” Nico was in a hurry to get off the phone and impatience leaked through his usually calm tone.

“We can argue about who owes whom later. There is more you need to know.” Margaret was perturbed and let it show. It was always the same when dealing with Careles, once he’d concluded his business he faded into the shadows. “It may not be wise to keep this below the radar. When you brought me in, you made her my patient, so she comes first. You have to ask her what she wants. She wasn’t raped but that doesn’t mean she won’t feel violated. She is going to need therapy and reporting what happened may be a first step in working it through."

She was his responsibility; one he'd taken on because he'd wanted to, not because he'd thought it was necessary. A ghost of a smile tugged at his lips when he thought of how indignant she would be, if she knew how much he’d learned about her. Moments later, he buried the thought and the odd warm feeling that had accompanied it. “I’ll do whatever is best for her.” It was all he was willing to say on the matter.

“Even if it is in direct conflict with what is best for The Hawks?” Browning pushed.

“Good night, Margaret, give Val my best.” His voice was cold steel. He wasn’t about to explain that what was good for her was good for the Hawks. It was something he knew in the marrow of his bones, and it helped ease his conscious.

It was for the team. All the snooping into her background and watching over her these last months was for the team. There was nothing personal about it. When he put it in that context, it made sense, and he felt the long muscles in his back begin to relax. Nico kept repeating the sentiment like a mantra in his head, as he left a text for Xeno. He’d sent his large ex-Special Forces friend to the club the night before to start the investigation. It wasn’t in Careles’ nature to delegate a sensitive situation, but his priorities had shifted the moment he’d understood the worst-case scenario.

After all, taking care of her was in the team’s best interest.

Rubbing his eyes, he flipped on his espresso machine so it would heat up while he showered. The thought of what could have happened tonight left him feeling dirty in ways he hadn’t felt in a very long time.

“Therapy, hmmm,” he sighed as the light from the bathroom gave him a glimpse of dark hair kissed with sunlight scattered across his pillow. Her face was in shadow but he knew every laugh line and curve of her cheek. He’d seen her fighting mad and gently soothing a person in sorrow. Who the hell was going to be the one to give therapy to the therapist? Who the hell was going to sooth her sorrows? He’d be damned if it was going to be that fly-by-night guy she’d been seeing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday 4:10 AM –

Nico sat with his bare feet crossed at the ankles and propped on the foot of the bed watching Dani Santino sleep. He was dressed in faded blue jeans with a rip in the left knee and an old white button-down, the sleeves rolled to just below his elbows. Light from the partially open bathroom door cast shadows on her sleeping face and made the wall of windows, at his back sparkle with raindrops, as a pre-dawn storm rolled in. His iPad was in his lap and a large latte was within easy reach on the bedside table. He had been trying to concentrate on the report Xeno had sent him from the first round of interviews, but he’d read it twice and very little was making sense. He kept remembering the sound of panic in Dani’s voice when she’d called him less than six hour earlier.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Wednesday January 11, 2012 at 10:55 PM -

“Nico, I need...uh...back up,” Dani’s words came through his cell slurred and slow.

“Dr. Santino, have you been drinking?” He grinned at her unusual behavior.

“No, no...But I feel...I feel...Oh God...everything is spinning,” she gasped. “Help me?”

“Where are you?” Icy terror shot through him. She was in trouble, and he should have realized it the second he saw her caller ID. She almost never called him, and when she did, it was never at odd hours.

“In the...uh...uh...Ladies’ Room?” she asked as if she wasn’t sure herself.

“Dani, think, concentrate.” He ordered. “Where are you?” He was in the elevator heading for the parking garage of his loft in the Village, but he needed more information if he was going to find her.

“Uh...Solstice...yeah…Solstice,” she sighed. “Jeanette…no,” she shook her head and almost lost her balance. “Not Jeanette…Margo…meet me but couldn’t…I think…it’s all fuzzy.”

“That’s okay.” He drove uptown as fast as he could to the trendy club. It was one of Terrance King’s favorite post-game hangouts. Many of The Hawks spent time there. It would complicate matters if any of the team was there tonight, and it could become a publicity nightmare, but that was the least of his concerns. For now, all he wanted to do was to keep Dani talking so that he knew she was safe. “Are you still in the restroom?”

“Yeah...please hurry…I…feel so strange.” She was cold and hot at the same time, and nothing was making any sense. Ideas slipped through her mind and were lost in the corners of the room before she could grab onto them and make them stick.

“You’re doing great. Just stay where you are. I’m almost there. Did you eat or drink anything at the club?”

“Pellegrino,” she whispered. Her mouth was dry and she was thirsty. She had a death grip on the glass she’d been drinking from but a tiny voice in her head warned her against having anymore.

“Dr. Santino, talk to me!” he demanded.

“I...what...about...” her speech was heavily slurred, and she was sounding more confused.

“Where are your children? Tell me about Lindsey and Ray Jay?”

“Ummm they’re not here...uhh Ray...he...uh...uh...the Hamptons for uh…week?” Again she posed it as a question, doubting her memory and everything that was happening. “I’m so tired....

“Dani, you keep your eyes open and keep talking to me.” One quick glare at the doorman and he was slipped past the velvet rope and long line of people who were waiting to get into Solstice. Loud music made it hard for him to understand the soft words coming from the phone pressed to his ear.

“Please hurry,” she whispered. Every muscle in her body was gripped tightly in an attempt to stay upright.

Nico’s long stride ate up the distance across the room. His dark coat flapped around his calves. Moments later, he opened the door to the Ladies’ room and found Dr. Santino leaning against the wall her eyes half closed.

“Dani, I’m here,” he called to her before he touched her.

“Nico, I can hardly stand up.” She went easily into his arms, allowing him to support her.

“It’s no wonder with those shoes.” His eyebrow arched as if he was examining her footwear when he was really doing an inventory of the condition of her clothes. Nothing was torn or messy under her leather jacket and her slim fitting jeans were zipped and fastened.

“Help me, please.” She looked up at him glad he was holding onto her because her muscles were slowly loosing the ability to support her.

“Are you hurt...did any one try to hurt you?” He slid his hand against her neck, tilting her face upward, trying to read truths she might not want to share. Her eyes were dilated and glassy, lacking their usual sparkle but all he could see was confusion.

“Hurt…me?” Dani’s nose crinkled as she tried to make sense out of his question.

“Yeah, you had me worried.” He forced a smile. “Lets get out of here. Can you walk?”

She nodded, but when she didn’t move, he pulled her tightly against his side and slowly guided her out of her hiding place.

“Hey what’s going on?” Danny Martello, the owner of Solstice, took one look at the tall dark man practically carrying the small woman out of the rest room and knew he’d missed his chance. His only option was to play the part of concerned manager and hope that she didn’t remember him.

“My friend has had a little too much to drink.” Nico stopped and looked the man coolly in the eyes. He’d carefully tucked Dani against his chest. His free hand covered her face from chin to hairline, hiding her identity from prying eyes.

“Ya need help?” Danny questioned, putting as much concern as he could in his voice. “I can call ya a cab?”

“No.” He felt Dani begin to shiver and as she tried to tighten her grip on the front of his coat, he realized her muscles weren’t cooperating. He wasn’t sure how much longer she would remain on her feet even with his right arm wrapped around her and his hand digging into her upper arm. If he ended up carrying her out of the club, it would be all over town by morning.

“Nico, can we please get out of here.” She carefully strung her words together with only an occasional slur.

“Nico?” Martello paled when he realized he was talking to the head of security for The Hawks. Danny had heard the dark man’s name whispered around the City for years, but had never been able to put a face to that name, until tonight. The club owner had always scoffed at the other man’s reputation, believing that Careles used anonymity to make people think he was more dangerous, than he really was. One look at Nico’s flat dark eyes and cold demeanor changed that theory forever. “Sorry Sir, I didn’t realize… I…uh…” Before he finished stuttering out an apology the couple was out the door.

Danny broke into a sweat and his hands shook. This was bad, very bad. He’d never realized that Terrance King’s honeys carried enough weight to bring the head of security down on his head.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It wasn’t until Nico was helping Dani into his car, that he realized she was still holding her glass from earlier in the evening. One quick look was all it took to see that it still contained some of the potentially dangerous liquid.

“You are one smart woman, Dr. Santino.” He smiled at her as he put the half full glass in the coffee cup-holder of his car and reached for her seat belt.

“Taken…you…long enough to figure…to figure--” She lost her battle to stay awake and slumped against his arm.

“You go right ahead and sleep, Dani.” He straightened her carefully against the seatback and fastened the safety belt. “You’re safe. I’ve got you, now.”

Ch 2 - Lost But Not Alone

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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