Tango
by Judith Freudenthal
2002

Nick was going through some paperwork for the Brabant Foundation and found a flyer which caught his attention. He read it and put it aside to show Natalie.

A short time later the lift motor started and he picked up his paperwork, stacking it into a neat pile on one side of the table. He heard the lift stop and the door open. He met Natalie at the door, the flyer in his hand, which was down by his side.

"What's up? You have that look," Natalie said.

"I was going through some paperwork for the Brabant Foundation and found this," Nick said as he showed her the flyer.

"Sounds interesting. Are you going to enter it?" She asked curiously. "I bet you're quite good at it."

"You interested in joining me?"

"I don't know how to Tango."

"That's okay. I'd be more than happy to teach you, if you're interested."

"I'd like that," Natalie said with a smile. "Can we keep it from our friends?"

"Sure. Any reason why?" He asked curiously.

"Not really. I just want it to be something for just us. And I'd probably be a bit more nervous with them watching us."

"I like those reasons. Especially the part about it being just for us."

Natalie took a closer look at the flyer and realized that the contest date would be here before they knew it. She was thrilled he'd asked her to be his partner, and he was just as happy she'd agreed to dance with him. "When do we start practicing and where?" She wondered if they could be ready by contest time, knowing that they had to be. if they were serious about entering.

"We can practice here if you want. We can start either tonight or tomorrow night, your choice."

Natalie looked at her outfit realizing that the jeans and sweatshirt would work just fine for practice. She looked around the loft.

"Is there enough room? Do you have the music?"

"Yes and yes. If we need more space, I can always move some stuff out of the way."

"Okay. Why don't you start the music and we'll give it a try." Natalie was looking forward to learning how to Tango, but wasn't sure she would be graceful enough.

Nick walked over to his stereo, turned it on, stuck the correct CD into the player and pressed play, then repeat. While he did that, she did a brief stretching routine, not wanting to accidentally pull a muscle.

Nick walked back over to Natalie, his expression asked if she was ready. She nodded.

Nick showed her the proper position to start and walked her through it as the music played. They did their best to keep in time with the music. Natalie found it was harder than it looked and did her best to do as Nick instructed her to.

"Relax. Let the music wash over you. You're doing fine," Nick said, encouraging her.

Natalie relaxed a little and found it a bit easier, especially after listening to the music as she moved.

The song ended and Nick looked at her, his expression asked if she wanted to go again and she nodded. As they went through the routine again, Natalie realized that it would take a lot of work to be ready for the contest.

Nick could tell that Natalie was ready for a break when the song ended. H e shut it off and they took a break. Natalie grabbed a paper towel to wipe the sweat off her face and edges of her hairline, then grabbed a glass of water. She took her glass over to the couch where she sat down, with Nick taking a seat next to her.

"It looks easier."

"You up to one more try after you've rested? Don't want to push it too hard tonight."

"Sure. Give me about five more minutes," she replied as she finished her water.

When Natalie was ready to continue, Nick started the music and they took their places. They went through the dance again. As soon as the song finished Nick turned it off. Natalie did a little stretching before heading for the kitchen sink again.

Natalie splashed her face, then dried it. She refilled her glass and took it over to the couch again. Nick sat beside her. They both thought the first lesson had gone well, and began to believe they could be ready by contest time.

Natalie managed to find a snack to munch on as they watched a movie to unwind from the dancing. After the movie, Natalie headed home.

 

When Natalie slipped into bed that morning, she had no trouble falling asleep. She woke up that afternoon and got ready for work. She packed a bag with a long t-shirt and leggings, along with her sneakers and carried it with her as she left for work. She also had her briefcase, medical bag and purse.

 

Nick and Natalie had a busy night between crime scenes and autopsies. They both left as soon as their shifts were over.

They met up at the loft. Natalie was surprised that Nick had rearranged the living room to give them ample space to work in. Everything from the center had been moved to the walls.

She went upstairs to his bedroom where she changed into her long t-shirt, leggings and sneakers. She tied up her hair with her Scrunchi and after a brief stretching routine she was ready to practice.

Nick was in his jeans and a loose white shirt, sneakers on his feet as well.

He started the music and approached her. They took their positions and started dancing.

After two run throughs they took a break. Natalie splashed her face at the kitchen sink and grabbed a quick drink of water before settling on the couch for a few minutes.

"It's a very sensual dance," Natalie commented.

"They say it's like making love with your clothes on. And I can't think of anyone I'd rather Tango with," he said with a warm smile.

"I can't think of anyone else I'd rather Tango with, either." She returned the warm smile.

 

Over the next week, both Grace and Schanke wondered where their friends went every day right after work. Since both left promptly every night, they knew it was no coincidence. When they asked all they got was a mischievous grin.

By now Natalie had mastered the steps and now it was just a matter of making the dance flow more naturally. She and Nick worked together every night after work and on their days off as well. Even if neither would admit it, they both wanted to win the contest.

That night after they'd finished their second run through they took their usual break.

"You're doing great," Nick cheerfully told her.

"It is getting easier. It's actually becoming fun now that I know the steps."

They practiced two more times before taking another break. They both noticed her endurance had increased over the last week. She felt better than she had in a while and chalked it up to the exercise and the pleasure of dancing with Nick. She had noticed the positive effects it had on Nick as well.

 

During the next week, Natalie and Nick's movements grew more fluid as they continued to practice. They were beginning to look like they were two people sharing a single soul, which probably wasn't far from the truth. They both loved the passion of the dance, knowing it was the closest they'd get to making love. And the contest gave them the reason to enjoy that feeling every night as they practiced. What had started out as work to learn the steps was now sheer joy at making it a work of art.

At the end of the week, Grace and Schanke commented on how they seemed more alive, and Natalie seemed maybe a couple pounds lighter. They were even more curious about what their friends were up to but no amount of probing could get any answers out of them.

 

During the next week Nick and Natalie felt they were as fluid as they were going to get and by mid week they headed to the mall to pick out their costumes. Nick was going to wear a tux and Natalie was going to wear some sort of a fancy gown. The first thing they did was find a pair of high heels for her to wear during the contest. They both knew she'd have to wear heels much higher than she was accustomed to get the right look. Once they'd found her shoes, they looked in all the stores for the perfect dress.

Natalie tried on a form fitting, shimmery sapphire blue gown, with a slit running up the side of the dress to her mid thigh to allow for a full range of movement. Nick was speechless when he saw her walk out of the dressing room wearing the gown. His expression confirmed her own thoughts that they'd found the perfect gown. The gown didn't need a single alteration as it hugged her curves just right. The gown was a bit more seductive than she was used to, but it was necessary to match the tone of the dance. It was quite elegant looking, especially on her.

The next night, Natalie slipped into the heels to try and get used to them as she walked around the loft. When she felt secure enough in them, they tried a run through. Natalie was a little uneasy wearing the heels, but she knew that with practice it would grow easier.

By the end of the week she was more used to the heels and could comfortably dance in them.

 

By the middle of the next week, Nick and Natalie were once again growing graceful and fluid in their movements. And by the end of the week they practiced in their wardrobe to get used to it. They were even more fluid. She became used to the slit clear up the side of her dress, up to her thigh.

At work, their friends commented on their good mood and how Natalie seemed to be more fit and trim than they'd seen her in years. They knew their friends had to be doing something athletic but still couldn't get any information out of them. This frustrated Grace and Schanke to no end, yet amused Nick and Natalie.

 

They had two more practice days before the contest. They ran through their routine a few times each night. They were confident they knew their routine flawlessly.

 

It was time for the contest. They arrived dressed for the competition and checked in. They waited for their turn. Natalie noticed how good the other dancers were and the butterflies started.

"Relax. You're as good, if not better than they are. Just relax and you'll do fine. We're here to have fun."

"Thanks. I needed to hear that. Are you nervous?" She asked, sensing he was a little nervous.

"Yeah, a little. How about you?"

"I have elephant sized butterflies."

His arm was wrapped around her shoulder and he gave her a little squeeze for reassurance, smiling at her. She smiled back at him reassured.

Their names were called next. They took their positions. When the music started they moved as one. The heat radiated from them as they gazed into each other's eyes, their love for each other clearly showed. They very gracefully moved across the dance floor and back perfectly in tune with the music. All eyes in the room were on their graceful, fluid movement.

The wait was hard as they watched the last several dancers perform. When everyone had done their routine before the judges, there was a short break. When the judges reentered the ballroom, the winner was announced as Natalie Lambert and Nick Knight. Nick and Natalie were surprised they'd won, yet they knew all of their practice had paid off. There was a round of applause for the winners as they took to the stage to accept their gold medals. Each noticed how radiant the other looked. Nick leaned over and kissed her. She smiled as she looked into his eyes.

 

The next night they went into work and received even more compliments on how alive and happy they seemed. They frustrated their friends even further by not revealing why. They knew the current gossip was that they were doing undercover work of a very personal nature.

 

After winning the contest Nick and Natalie made it a point to go out and dance at least once a week. The tango was their favorite, but they'd dance to what ever music was played.

 

Two months later the announcement for the Policeman's Ball came out and Cohen told Nick and Schanke that they had to at least make an appearance.

 

Another month passed and it was time for the ball. Natalie was pleased that for once she didn't have to shop for a dress.

"You know that if we do the tango, that we'll only confirm the office gossip and won't ever be able to claim being just friends," Natalie commented a little on the playful side.

"I know. I'm up for it if you are," Nick responded in a matching tone.

"I say let's knock their socks off. How about a practice dance?" She knew they didn't really need it, but enjoyed dancing with him.

He nodded. He enjoyed dancing with her as much as she enjoyed dancing with him.

 

Two weeks later it was the night of the ball. Natalie and Nick arrived, he in his black tux and she in the shimmery sapphire blue gown she'd worn to the contest, including the high heels.

When they entered the ballroom, heads turned as their coworkers had never seen them looking so elegant before. Those that suspected Nick came from a well bred family had it further confirmed with the grace he showed as he and Natalie moved to the table where Grace, her date, and Don and Myra Schanke were seated talking. They also noticed Natalie's grace as she was escorted by Nick.

At their friend's table, they enjoyed the shocked looks on their faces.

"You two look great. Natalie, you're stunning," Don said.

Grace and Myra nodded, feeling no need to repeat what Don had said.

Natalie blushed, "thank you. You guys look great too."

"I have to know what made you pick that dress. It's quite a different style for you," Myra asked.

"I just felt like wearing something different. Nick and I thought it was the perfect dress."

"What about the heels? They look uncomfortable and hard to walk in," Grace said.

"They were at first, but I got used to them."

They joined their friends at the table for dinner and a night of no shop talk. Everyone loved that part of the night, as they so rarely got a chance to do so.

After dinner the band played the first song.

"Nat, care to dance?" Nick asked, holding his hand out.

"I'd love to," she said, as she gracefully rose from the table and took Nick's hand.

"Myra?" Don asked.

"I'd love to," Myra said.

Grace's date asked her to dance as well.

The three couples took to the dance floor. Natalie and Nick were the most graceful of the three. Their friends watched them dance and wondered if that wasn't part of what had them in such a great mood lately.

Everyone there noticed the intense chemistry between Nick and Natalie, and how it was different from the usual, more intense, more passionate.

A few songs into the set, a tango was played. Nick and Natalie danced to it just as they had in the contest with the exception that it was totally for fun this time and there was no pressure on them whatsoever. Their friends stopped and watched Nick and Natalie's perfectly synchronized moves. It was the most sensual thing they'd ever seen.

One by one others noticed and stopped what they were doing to watch. Nick and Natalie were lost in each other's eyes and didn't realize that everyone in the entire ballroom was now watching them dance. None of their friends or coworkers had seen anything remotely like that in all the years they'd known Nick and Natalie, even after those two became friends.

When the song ended there was a loud, enthusiastic round of applause from everyone in attendance. Natalie blushed right down to her toes. She and Nick turned to face the crowd and bowed before heading off the dance floor as the band was taking a break.

"Was this the secret you wouldn't tell us?" Grace said.

Natalie nodded, her eyes sparkled with delight.

"Any reason you learned this particular dance?" Grace asked.

Nick and Natalie exchanged a quick glance and then Nick said, "we entered a Tango contest."

"How'd you do? If your performance there was anything like tonight's, I'd bet you won," Don said.

"You're right," Natalie cheerfully said.

"You were incredible out there," Grace said.

"And don't try that just friends line again as we're not buying it. Any hotter and the sprinklers would've gone off," Schanke said.

 

After the ball was over, Nick escorted Natalie down to their limousine. Natalie enjoyed this little extra bit of pampering. Nick could see this and was glad his little gesture was appreciated. And the limo would help protect him, if they were out until dawn, or later.

Inside the loft, Natalie and Nick changed into more comfortable clothes. Natalie settled on the couch while Nick headed for the fridge. Moments later he took a seat next to Natalie with a plate of snacks in one hand and an ice tea in the other.

"Thanks," she said with a grin. "How'd you know I'd be hungry?"

"Just a hunch," Nick said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and voice.

They watched a movie as Natalie quickly ate her hearty snack. Nick noticed that she grew sleepy during the second half of the movie. After it finished he moved to the chair to allow her to stretch out, which she quickly did. She fell asleep almost instantly. Nick covered her with a blanket and headed for the fridge where he very quietly removed one of his wine bottles and headed upstairs. He was careful not to disturb her.

Upstairs, he took a couple of gulps before changing into his black silk pajamas and took a couple more gulps before recorking the bottle and setting it on the nightstand. He crawled under the covers and was almost instantly out.

 

The next afternoon Nick was the first to awake. He made a phone call before showering, dressing and getting ready for work. He quietly walked down the stairs and over to Natalie, who was still fast asleep on the couch.

He squatted down in front of her. "Natalie, time to get up," he softly said, not wanting to startle her too badly. "Natalie, time to get up." He gently stroked her hair and placed a kiss on her temple.

She woke up and it took her a moment before she was totally awake.

"Good morning," she said as she sat up and ran her hands across her face.

Just then the door buzzer rang. Nick walked over and saw it was a delivery person so he buzzed the guy up.

"I knew you might not have time for a proper breakfast at homeÉ" Nick said as he paid the delivery boy and took the bag from him.

"Thanks. Is my suit still here?" Natalie asked as she looked at her watch, nearly panicking when she saw the time.

"Yeah. I even had it cleaned with the last batch of mine."

"Thanks." She knew that she now had enough time to eat without choking it down, getting a shower, dressed and to work on time.

"You know, our arriving at work together is only going to fuel the rumor mill."

"I know. I don't care, do you?" Nick asked.

"No. They're going to think whatever they want, no matter what."

 

Nick dropped Natalie at the morgue first, then headed over to the precinct. They knew it raised a few eyebrows but didn't really care. During their shifts, Nick and Natalie received some teasing, but mostly people were still stunned that they'd done such a hot dance number. It seemed so unlike the pair they thought they knew. People wondered what other secrets they hid. As Natalie got ready to go home that morning, she didn't mind the teasing, and she enjoyed keeping a few secrets from her friends. She was part of a fascinating mystery which she wasn't ready to see end just yet.

 

The end

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