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Fear of Flying Ch 2 - Lost But Not Alone

Disclaimer: See chapter one
Rating: PG-13 for subject matter
Pairing: Nico and Dani
Previous Chapters: Ch 1 - Stepping Into The Darkness

Fear of Flying


Ch 2 - Lost But Not Alone

By Lattelady


“The price of being misunderstood, he thought. They call you devil or they call you god.” – From Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

4:58 AM

Dani Santino woke slowly to a pounding head, nausea, and a light, vaguely familiar scent of spiced lime coming from her pillowcase.

“Ohhh,” she moaned and forced her eyes open.

“Easy, you’re safe.” Nico Careles leaned forward in his chair to tunnel his fingers through her hair, pushing it away from her face.

“Nico!” she squeaked. Even feeling like death warmed-over, she recognized his distinctive timbre. “What are you doing in my house?”

“We aren’t in your house...” His natural inclination was to leave it at that, a half finished piece of information that allowed him to tell the truth without giving any details, but Dr. Browning’s warning from the night before made him continue, “We’re in mine.”

“Yours...but...I…we…?” Dani instinctively looked under the covers and was relieved to discover she was still wearing her tank top and jeans from the night before, though her loose fitting metallic fishnet sweater and leather jacket was missing. “We didn’t...ah...you and I?” She flicked her finger back and forth between them.

“No we didn’t.” He smiled gently, understanding what she needed to know.

“Everything is vague…I can’t remember how I got here.” Her voice was rough with emotions that were threatening to swamp her. Something dark and frightening lurked deep in her mind but she couldn’t pin it down.

“How badly are you hurting?” He reached to cup her shoulder but drew back when uncertainty flittered across her face.

“I think my head is going to fall off.”

“Close your eyes.” He instructed. “I’m going to turn on the lamp.” Moments later, soft light from a reading lamp with a blue leaded-glass shade created an intimate pool around them. “Is that too bright for you?”

“It’s fine...but...but what am I doing here?” She blinked, as much to control the sudden sting of tears that threatened to fall, as to get used to the illumination. “Why can’t I remember anything?”

“Sit up and take these first.” He shook two Ibuprofens onto the table next to a glass of water and leaned over to help her sit up.

“Nico, what aren’t you telling me?” She leaned tensely against the pillows he’d put between her back and the headboard. “Don’t you understand, not knowing is more frightening than anything you could tell me.”

“There is nothing to be afraid of. You are perfectly safe. Now take the these.” He handed her the pills and steadied the glass for her. It took all of his self-control to keep from reaching out to her, touching her, doing anything to help her, as she choked and almost gagged on the pills. Because he knew that she was wrong and what he had to tell her was a lot worse than ignorance.

“I’m all right. They’re down.” She reassured him as she pulled her knees up and curled her arms around them. “Now tell me what happened.” She demanded. “What am I doing in your bed with all of my clothes on?”

The air seemed to be sucked out of the room. The only sound was the heavy patter of rain on the bank of windows behind Nico as he met Dani’s gaze. Both knew that there was more between them than business. Both had wondered what if...but neither was willing to take a chance, because they knew that once breached, the walls they’d put in place would never withstand the explosion that would follow. He protected his side with cool looks, evasive answers, and stories about birds that flew best alone. She used sarcasm, the excuse of professional ethics, and when all else failed to keep her from thinking about him as more than a friend, pretended he was simply hired muscle.

Her last question cut to the bone of something that Careles was not going to answer, truth be damned. Some truths were too dangerous to bring to light, so he did what he’d learned to do when he’d tried to keep a marriage together while being a member of a covert Navy SEAL team. It was a skill that he’d honed to perfection during three years of law school and used almost everyday since going to work for Marshall Pittman: if you don’t like the question, don’t answer it; pose one of your own. “What do you remember about last night?”

“Hmmm?” She blinked realizing she’d been caught staring. “What?” she whispered.

“Last night, what do you remember?” He leaned back in the old Gustav Stickley rocker that had been his grandfather’s.

“Most of the night is fuzzy. All I remember for sure is that I was supposed to meet my friend Margo at Solstice. I was sitting at the bar when I realized how late it was getting and checked my messages. Her son was ill. She couldn’t make it.” Dani rubbed her forehead trying to remember more. “I’d ordered a glass of Pellegrino, I think...but beyond that it’s all blank.” She looked up needing to know what else happened. “Were you there? Is Solstice your Friday night place?”

“No, you called me.” He hated to do this but knew it was necessary. “Someone put Rohypnol into your drink.”

“Rohypnol,” she gulped, “the date rape drug?” her voice whistled with panic. What little color she had drained out of her face. She threw back the covers, clamped her hands over her mouth and tumbled off the bed as her stomach twisted. If Nico hadn’t grabbed her, she would have hit the floor, instead he carried her into the bathroom. Seconds before she lost the battle to control her stomach he knelt with her beside the toilet. One arm was securely around her waist, as he dug his free hand into her hair pulling it up and out of her face.

“Shhhh it’s all right. You’re safe. I’ve got you,” he whispered over and over, his lips pressed against her ear while Dani threw up until her body shook with dry heaves.

“You should have taken me to an emergency room.” She complained weakly when she could, slumped against him exhausted and trembling from exertion and from too many emotions to count.

“I did better than that. I brought the emergency room to you.” He wiped tears off her cheeks with a cool wet washcloth and pulled her closer, trying to keep her warm. “Her name is Dr. Margaret Browning, and I’ve already emailed you her contact numbers. Here, rinse out your mouth.” He handed her a glass of water from the counter between double sinks, only one of which was used.

Dani gulped the water and spit it out, afraid that if she swallowed the smallest amount it would set her stomach off again. With hands that shook, she wiped her lips and turned to face Nico.

“How ba...bad?” her voice broke, but she refused to look away. “What did Dr. Browning find?” She was sure he knew. Screw doctor patient confidentiality. If she’d had an examination of any kind while in his care, he knew the outcome.

“The exam and the rape kit were negative.”

“What does that mean?” She needed to hear the words, to know exactly what did or did not happen.

"None of the swabs indicated semen or any evidence of a condom." His voice was stiff and hard, hiding the pain he felt that she'd even had to have the exam, let alone hear the results from him.

"What about the urine test?" Black spots were forming in front of her eyes but she breathed through it.

"Margaret didn't believe it was necessary. When I got there, you had the glass you'd been drinking from with you. That was tested and the lab found your Pellegrino was spiked with Rohypnol."

"I'm sorry, Nico. I'm sorry I put you through that, but...Oh God, I had to know what you knew." She covered her face with her hands and leaned her forehead against his shoulder. It was too much to absorb. There were too many hours that were nothing but a blank wall. As much as she wanted to believe she'd gotten away with nothing but a bad hangover, she knew that people weren't that lucky.

"Shhhh, I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s going to be all right." He ran his hands through her hair and up and down her back until he felt her begin to calm down.

"Dani, look at me." He gently pulled her hands away from her face and tipped her chin upward. "You trust me. I wouldn't lie to you." She looked broken, and he found it physically painful. Dani Santino was a strong woman, but this morning she looked defeated.

"I know. It's just that...I'll never know for certain, no matter what the tests say. Unless I can remember, I'll never know. Ever."

"Add this to the information from Dr. Browning. You called me as soon as you realized there was something wrong. You had gotten yourself to the Ladies Room and made that call. When I got there, you were fighting the drug to stay awake and on your feet. Your clothes were intact and you were buttoned and zipped in all the right places."

"Then why do I feel so...used?" The question made her choke, but this time, she refused to let her stomach win. This time, she gripped the front of Nico's shirt and buried her forehead against his neck, borrowing some of his strength to gain a tiny bit of control.

“Because you were.” He closed his eyes and gave up fighting. He simply held her as tightly as he could, sitting on the bathroom floor, listening to rain pound against the glass block wall that ran the length of the room. She’d been forced past the boundaries of her safe world, and for the moment, she needed someone to hang onto. He would be that person and give her the added stability of complete truth not simple honesty. “You were used. You were drugged. But if I believed someone had had his hands on you, there would be police here right now.” He didn’t add that those police would probably be arresting him for murder.

“Does anyone have to know?”

“That’s up to you. You’re the therapist.”

“I don’t feel like much of one.” She sniffed and wiped tears off her face while she pulled back until she was sitting on her knees between his spread thighs. “I don’t know what I’d tell a patient. My mind is too jumbled to think straight.”

“You’d tell her she needed therapy.”

“You’re right.” She wrapped her arms around her body to keep from crumbling. Dani wanted very badly to be alone so she could fall apart and try to rebuild. “I really appreciate the hospitality but would you take me home? My car must still be at the club, if it hasn’t been impounded.”

“Your car is parked next to mine in my building’s parking garage. Rohypnol can remain in the system for as long as thirteen hours. You’re staying right here where I can keep an eye on you until at least noon. Then, I’ll take you home.” He expected her to argue with him, and when she didn’t, he realized no matter how much better she was pretending she felt, she was still balancing on the edge.

“Could I...um...use your shower?” Dani whispered. She felt tears bubbling up in the back of her throat, and she needed privacy to let them fall.

“Sure.” He reached into a large drawer behind him and handed her a clean towel and washcloth. “There is shampoo and soap on the ledge. The door opens inward. There is a robe in the closet.” He pointed to the door at the far end of the room, between a large whirlpool tub on the left, against the glass block wall, and a stall shower on the right. “Toss your clothes into the bedroom and I’ll put them in the washer.”

“Thanks.” She shuddered, wishing she could simply throw them away.

Dani slid to the shower floor, sitting with her back pressed against a tile bench. She wrapped both arms around her bent knees and buried her face in the crook of her elbow. She was finally alone, safely hidden by the sound of hot water pounding on her head and shoulders and echoing off the walls. With each ragged breath, her tiny scrap of hard won control slipped a bit more until she was rocked with jagged tears.

She didn’t know how long she cried. It could have been for a moment or forever.

Finally her breathing slowed and her muscles relaxed. She raised her face directly into the spray of water and let it wash her skin clean. Experimentally, she licked droplets from around her lips and carefully swallowed. Each little bit of water that stayed down encouraged her to drink more, until she finally opened her mouth and drank her fill.

Ch 3 - Things Fall Apart



Latest Month

September 2012


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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