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Dr. Stern's Revenge

Title: Dr. Stern's Revenge

Rating: T

Author: Kendra Crispin

Genre: Revenge

Series: Stopping Nikki Dearest

Spoilers: “Anti-Thesis”, “Zoonotic”, “A Person of Interest”, “Great Barrier”, “Grow”, and “Slither”. Can interpret tiny spoilers for “Dramma Giocoso”.

Disclaimer: Apparently Dick Wolf and Co wouldn't let this happen...

Author's Note: I'm adding a new method to the “Stopping Nikki Dearest” series. I think this brings it up to 117 ways... In any case, this isn't up to my usual standards for a reason; I wanted to get this out of my head so I could move on with other stories.

Summary: After Gavin Haynes posts her bail, Nicole starts showing unusual symptoms. When that's brought to police attention, Alex and Bobby notice something overlooked on the test for anthrax.





I don't understand it,” Gavin Haynes tells his lawyer. Alarm radiates through his body as he paces. “She snapped at the maid for not letting her presence be known. My wife should have seen Maria coming.”


The lawyer, having just talked with her, shares the concern. “So, she's having unprovoked mood swings, she's not seeing things in certain places relative to her position, and she's jumpy. That's not the only thing she's showing, is it?”


Haynes collapses into his home office chair. “No, she... She couldn't remember where the spices were stored. We had to remind her every time.” He rubs his forehead for lack of other things to do.


And this all started a few days ago?”


With no sign of abating.” Desperation seeps into his voice.


Elizabeth should see a doctor.”


A tired laugh. “She refuses. Says she just has the flu or something.”


Frowning, the lawyer has to check something he hears in his client's tone. “Has she refused medical help before?”


Haynes hesitates for several seconds, then drops his hands to his desk. “She...” His voice drops to a whisper, forcing the lawyer to lean forward in his seat. “She has fertility problems. Thinks she can't have children. I got a referral from my doctor, and she told me to mind my own business.”


That's not good, the lawyer thinks. Especially when the both NYPD and the District Attorney's office are accusing her of being a murdering liar.


I need to know what's wrong with her,” Haynes mutters, struggling for ideas, “but she won't let me help her. I want to, I want this and the whole trial mess to go away...”


The lawyer gets an idea, but how to phrase it to Haynes is another matter...




So Nicole's having unexplained health problems.” Deakins shakes his head numbly at Carver's announcement. “Now her husband is asking you to order Nicole to submit to an examination because she won't go willingly?”


Under any other circumstance, Alex would snort at the improbability of the whole thing, but Bobby's still sensitive about being played by Nicole. “She must know that something would come up that'd prove her charade false, something that would push Gavin away if he knew.”


Except,” Carver coolly informs them, arms folded, “that we need probable cause to convince a judge to force her to comply.”


Bobby, silent the whole time aloud and in his mind, finally has a breakthrough idea. “Well,” he ponders, standing, “she had to get the anthrax from Stern somehow. He's not a trusting type. He'd demand to meet directly with anyone wanting something from his collection, or wanting him to obtain something.”


Alex nods. “Yes, so?”


So, in light of what he did to his ex-girlfriends, why don't we insist on ensuring that she hasn't been infected?”


Deakins' eyebrows pop as a wry grin crosses his face. “We can claim public health concerns to the judge, given her positive test for anthrax exposure.”




This is an outrage!” Nicole's voice carries throughout the house, even to the street. Grasping the table, she glares at the ADA and the Major Case Captain. “You're seeking to violate my rights.”


While it's still questionable whether you have those rights,” Carver coolly reminds her, “it is entirely proper to ensure that the health of the servants of the court are not being jeopardized by a contagious disease. You were exposed to anthrax, and are on the tail end of your booster's effectiveness. We want to know what you have."


Haynes reaches his wife's side. “Dearest, I don't like not knowing what's happening to your body. These changes aren't scaring you.”


She shakes her head sharply, ignoring her slightly spinning sight by closing her eyes. “I've survived worse.”


Deakins bites back a snort. “That I'm sure of.” The thought that he is probably spending too much time around Eames occurs once again.


Nicole's eyes dart to him. “You still believe your detective's insane theory about me?”


I've known him for almost four years. I'd sooner believe any of his... hypotheses than the words of one who lies regularly to the police. Your behavior only gives further weight to his hunch about your childhood. For a professor of English, you should know the distinction.”


Before you complain further,” Carver interjects, seeing the growing fury in their perp's eyes, “look carefully at the details. If you don't come with these officers willingly, then you will have violated your bail and will be imprisoned... after our doctors sedate you for the examination.”


Nicole glares at the “servants” of the system. Bastards...




Once your Miss Wallace stopped complaining, things moved smoothly. Except, of course, for the pap smear, but I've never heard of a woman who liked that.”


Doesn't look good for her claims of being under her boyfriend's thumb, Alex thinks before she shakes off her distraction. “Found anything useful?”


Rogers checks the reports. “Well, the results of the smear and the blood tests won't be back for a few days. Lab wants to run the whole rigor on them since she can't drum up past health records.”


Deakins grimaces. “They'd probably be fake.”


So here's what we have,” Rogers continues: “Teeth and gums are in good shape. No skin conditions. Reflexes are a bit jerky. She lost her footing during a stress test, and she got fatigued far too early for someone in her apparent health.”


Carver sighs. “Any evidence of the cause?”


The internist couldn't find any clear indication of infection. We wound up performing a CAT scan to check the internal organs. Those results won't be back for a few days, either.”


Bobby takes those papers. “What about her vision? Anything to account for those difficulties?”


Rogers sighs. “That was the bizarre part of whole day. She's 20-20, but she has extra blind spots.” Seeing blanks on everyone except Goren, she continues, “Eyes have a natural blind spot, where light comes directly toward the area where the optic nerve goes to the brain. We aren't aware of it because out brains can fill in the area based on the surroundings.”


Alex's eyes widen. “But she's experiencing that in places she shouldn't be?”


Not at her age,” Rogers states, shaking her head. “While they're very small spots, her license will be revoked if it gets any worse. However,” she remarks, pulling the huge cardboard envelope out from under her arm, “this is why I came here.”


Carver frowns. “You said the CAT scans-”


Dr Marshal had the lab rush a few images through because of what she thought she felt during the pelvic exam. In obtaining the pap smear sample, she noticed scar tissue in Miss Wallace's vagina, consistent with years of abuse. Almost certainly from childhood, maybe even early prepubescent.”


Bobby takes a deep breath. “So much for her denials.”


Rogers yanks out two images and hold both up to the light, at an angle where all can see. Nicole Wallace's pelvis, sans the skin and color. “See how the pelvic bones are positioned in relation to each other?”


The men all stare in confusion, but Alex spots it immediately. “They've separated,” she whispers, shocked.


Taking the x-rays back down, Rogers nods. “Like they should for a woman who's had a baby.”


Silence seizes the room. Bobby's hands shake, but he finds his voice in seconds. “I, uh... I have to call Sydney...”




Two days later, Carver walks into the squad room, directly toward Goren's desk. The big detective and his partner – leaning against his desk – are staring grimly at files on his desk, and Deakins glares at said files. “Anything?”


Deakins exhales, shaking his head without looking up. “Our lead has turned to squat.”


The Australians can't prove that the body those dogs found is Vikki Wallace,” Alex announces, barely suppressing a groan. “The high iron levels in the soil apparently destroyed the DNA. We referred them to another forensic anthropologist, but God knows how long it'll take him to find anything. If he does.”


But,” Bobby breaks in, “they found some people who saw her researching that detail of Aussie soil before her daughter vanished. She was looking at maps of the land.”


Unfortunately” Deakins finishes, rubbing his forehead, “it's not enough for the Australians to press charges. Which is what Nicole's feared all along.”


Shaking his head at the set-back, Carver opens his mouth to comment when Rogers suddenly appears next to him. Surprised, he comments, “I thought you barely came out of the morgue.”


Her eyes' tone almost match her fiery hair. “For important things, or for opera, I come out. And this whole operatic drama with Nicole Wallace has brought me back here.”


Bobby barely resists reaching for the files. “The lab results are back?”


Rogers simply hands over two copies, one to Bobby and one to Carver. “Yeah. Pap smear was clean. Nothing to hint at a past infection that destroyed her fertility.”


Alex smirks. “One more story proved false.”


But it's the blood work that's critical,” Roger adds. “I think you'll be chatting with some recent jailbirds over them.”


The silence greeting the announcement seeps beyond the desk. Yet it doesn't compare with the one when the four read the papers.




Nicole enters the ADA's office ahead of her husband and lawyer, noticing the detectives are already sitting. She smiles at Bobby. “Oh, how charming to see you again, Detective.”


Alex smirks. “Ah, you won't call him by his name with your husband around. Smart woman; if you did, he'd realize that he's not the one you really want. Worse, that the object of your desires is a man who makes maybe a tenth what Gavin does.”


Detective,” Haynes admonishes, glaring at Alex, “my wife loves me.”


Carver raises his hand, warding off any further reply. “We'll see. Now, please have a seat and we'll get to the point.”


The lawyer, ever business-minded, immediately moves to the seat next to Carver. He waits for Nicole to be seated, with Haynes' courteous aid, in the next seat while he and Haynes take the remaining chairs.


No problem,” Alex smiles, tone placating. “Because your wife's luck has run out.”


What a little pagan you are, Detective,” Nicole mutters, staring condescendingly at Alex. “Don't you know the secret of luck is never to trust it?”


That Nicole's seat puts her directly across from Bobby irritates Alex, but she pushes it aside. We've got a job to do. “Mr. Haynes,” she begins with a curiosity-filled tone, ignoring Nicole's barb, “are you and your wife planning on having children?”


Nicole stiffens. Haynes feels it instantly, through their clasped hands. Bewildered, he stumbles slightly in his answer. “Well, we're... seeing what can be done.”


Bobby spots their first opening. “You want children, and she doesn't.”


No,” Haynes insists. “That's not what I meant at all.”


Then she's told you that she's infertile, but refuses to see a specialist.”


I didn't refuse,” Nicole hisses. “I just didn't see the point. People like you and me just aren't fated to have children.”


That wasn't in your best interest, Nicole... That knowledge dulls the bite of her words. Bobby finds himself mentally shaking his head at her audacity. “Well,” he murmurs, “don't count me out yet.” Holding Nicole's gaze, he counters, “So what caused it? The abuse you suffered as a child?”


You don't listen, do you? I was not abused. But since you'll hound me until I answer, I can't conceive because of an infection I contracted during my misspent youth.”


Our doctor would've found evidence of that,” Carver counters. “What she did find during the pelvic exam led us to do some digging into your past, Nicole Wallace.”


Depending on the size of the uterus,” Alex takes over, before Nicole can open her mouth to protest, “or the position of the pelvic bones, a specialist can tell if a woman has given birth. Even six years after the blessed event.” As she finishes, she slaps copies of the birth certificate and the first photo in front of the lawyer and Gavin.


The lawyer can only stare at his client in shock. How many lies, he wonders, have I been told? Suddenly, the case looks like a loser.


Gavin's eyes are transfixed by the certificate. She's a mother...?!


She's adorable,” Bobby compliments Nicole. The last one she will ever get from him. “Where is she?”


Swallowing, Nicole thinks quickly, pausing long enough to keep her voice level. “I decided to leave her with the good sisters at Mater Hospital.”


It doesn't escape the notice of any of our heroes that Nicole's pronunciation isn't the actual Latin version that enunciates only the letters present, but one that adds a “y” sound. But all three tacitly agree to not bother calling her on it.


They placed her with a nice, middle-class couple,” she insists, pushing away the photo.


Why didn't you tell me?” Haynes' shock fills his tone. “I would have cared for any child of yours.”


The care in his voice stabs Nicole's heart. Struggling to gather her wits, she takes a deep breath. “I... kept thinking about what I missed, regretting giving her up. Besides, she was a miracle to me, one I was sure wouldn't repeat. It was too painful to speak of.”


While Nicole tries talking her way out of the situation, Bobby glances at Alex. It's time, his eyes whisper. She nods, pulling out some photos.


I wasn't sure I'd be a good mother, though, so she's better off where she is...” She trails off when Alex slaps a photo in front of her.


That,” Alex explains for Haynes' and the lawyer's benefit, “is the little girl, Victoria, with her father, Rohan Bartlett. He told the Australian authorities that Nicole took the picture. This was on Vikki's third birthday.”


Haynes and the lawyer both pale, but Nicole feels like she'd be transparent except for how skin works. She can't even gather enough blood to her head to look embarrassed.


I'm not up to more of your lies about that, Alex thinks at Nicole. Let's see you talk your way out of this one... Before anyone can speak, she plops one copy each of The Report in front of the lawyer and Gavin.


Mr. Bartlett filed this with the Brisbane police in 2000,” Carver flatly states, feeling no satisfaction from seeing Gavin's face fall further. “It's a missing person/accidental death report.”


It says that you were alone with Vikki on the beach all day, Nicole,” Bobby comments softly. No reason, he thinks, to let her know yet that we have the whole truth. “That you turned your back for one second.”


Yes,” Nicole whispers, tearing. “She loved the water.”


Is there comfort in that?” “Or is it just cruelly ironic that you lost her in the water?”


Well, I suppose it's a little of both.”


Is she censoring her words like she used to...? Alex wants answers. “Now there's just all-powerful emptiness. No wonder you can't bear to think or talk about her. Was Vikki independent, strong?”


She was bright, Detective, like her mother.”


Yes, of course,” Bobby agrees, priming Nicole for the emotional kill. “Close to her father? You, daddy's girl.”


Aren't they all?”


She isn't censoring herself! Alex stares in shock. The disease is hitting her harder than we thought...


Bobby feels like his eyes are almost popping out. “All little girls flirt with their daddies, is that what you're saying?”


Nature of the beast.”


Not a smart thing to say with your husband around, Bobby mentally shakes his head. “Is that,” he whispers, “what you thought when you saw them together? When he stroked her hair, or she gave him baby kisses on his eyelids, that she was replacing you as the object of his affections?”


What?! Haynes opens his mouth to protest, but an even paler Nicole shakes her head violently as she weakly insists, “She could never.”


She was precocious, this way, wasn't she?”


Stop talking about her!”


Three years old,” Alex interjects, adding her knowing tone to the mix. “That's how old you were when your father first molested you.”


I won't listen to this,” Nicole snaps.


He said it was your fault,” Bobby immediately speculates, not giving anyone a chance to speak. “That you seduced him, that all little girls flirt with their daddies.”


Nicole scrunches her face, wishing to curl up and go deaf. So caught up in her memories and emotions, she doesn't see that her husband and lawyer have both been shocked into silence.


You believed this big lie,” Bobby continues, deceptively soft. “What other explanation could there be? Why else would your father do such horrible things to you? So when you saw your daughter with her father, how could you not see her as a sexual rival?”


Nicole tries to spring back in a fury. “Get-” The scream is cut off when she falls to the floor instead. Haynes instantly helps her up. The horror over her reaction – and the dawning realization over its cause – robs him of any ability to form words.


Bobby waits for Haynes to put Nicole back into her seat before picking up where he left off. “How could you not be jealous of her? You couldn't allow her to take your place.”


Her head shakes violently, eyes wild. Her voice is a series of broken pitches. “I did not kill-”


I'll bet that if it weren't for your illness and the mood swings it gives you, you wouldn't have managed one solitary tear for her.”


My child drowned,” Nicole blurts, carefully pushing herself up to standing. Leaning against the table, she bores into Bobby's eyes. “You're insane to think anything else.”


Alex and Carver both eye for any hurt from that, but are pleased to see Bobby not even blink. A staring contest has begun.


Nicole breaks first. You can't be this even, she thinks wildly. “Who helped you concoct this theory, your mother?”


Seeing Bobby blink, Alex straightens, wanting to slap Nicole, but she knows Bobby wouldn't appreciate it. He wouldn't want me getting into trouble, and he needs to show her that he's recovered.


Somehow, seeing his nemesis so severely ill lessens the sting of her words. I wasn't wrong about you, he thinks at her. Time to deliver the last blow in this arena... He slowly pushes himself to standing, and copies her actions, easily towering over her. “In her wildest delusions, she never spawned anything like you, Nicole.”


What...?! His calm throws Nicole's anger into the air, blowing away with the AC. She draws back, but needs her hands against the table for support.


The beginning of the end... The thought doesn't tempt Bobby toward grinning; this is about to get worse for Nicole – and Haynes. He waits for Alex to have the last photo ready. “And my... hypothesis only needed one thing to confirm it.”


As Alex places the picture of the bones in front of Haynes, Carver takes over talking. “Those are the remains of a three-year old girl, found 100 miles from Stradebroke Island in iron-rich soil by local dogs. The discovery was almost a year after the... accident report. There were no other children that age reported missing from the area in the past two years except Nicole's daughter. Less than two days after this hit the papers, Nicole vanished. Only to resurface under the identity of Elizabeth Hitchens.”


Nicole drops into her chair, limply. Gavin's hands fall away, his mouth hanging wide. His lawyer is equally shocked.


If you'd trusted your luck,” Alex primly informs Nicole, pleased to throw the earlier barb back in the tramp, “you would've learned that the bones fossilized and the medical examiner was unable to obtain DNA samples. Rohan mentioned seeing you researching the various soil regions of the Australian landscape nearby. You would've been home free and never been in trouble here. Not to mention that you wouldn't be dying.”


What?!” Nicole's head whirls on Alex. “What are you talking about?!”


The real reason we called you here,” Carver states simply.


Dr. Stern rolled on you, Nicole,” Bobby informs the room, dropping a statement in front of Gavin. “He told us how you got him to get the anthrax, how you forced him to give up the two grams and not tell anyone.”


I didn't do anything. He's lying.”


No,” Bobby retorts, “and we can prove it. Thanks to Scott Borman.” With that, he grabs the remote from the TV that's been behind him the whole time and turns it on.


The smug – but somewhat deflated – veterinarian sits in a prison questioning room, in a prison-issue jumpsuit. “Roger said he had a private investigator follow this... Marissa woman when she left with the vial. Her insistence on secrecy made him realize she was trouble, and she wouldn't let me near her. Once the PI told us where she lived and that her husband regularly bought fancy chocolates for her, I went to that store and... befriended the girl who put the gift box together. I talked some co-workers at the zoo into making the store completely packed, so the girl was needed up front, leaving me alone with the gift box. I used these tiny needles Roger had specially soaked to prick the chocolates in the little indentations left by their covering process, and had the box closed for her when she got back.”


No, no, no... Nicole shakes her head. “I would've seen it.”


This time, Carver hands over a report, first to the lawyer and then to the Haynes'. “According to the lab, it worked. The disease Drs. Stern and Borman claimed to have infected you with is the one our doctors found in your blood: bovine spongiform encephalapathy, also known as 'Mad Cow Disease'.”


Three heads whip to meet his eyes in shock.


In humans,” Alex continues, pushing the latest edition of the Merck Manuel in front of Nicole, “it's diagnosed as variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, a progressive neurological disorder.” She pulls her hands back, elaborating, “Usually it can take years to kick in, but Dr. Stern made sure it was at peak efficiency when you were exposed.”


Haynes instantly reads the details of the symptoms underlined in pencil. Dementia, vision loss, fatigue, coordination problems... Everything she has...


Eventually,” Alex continues, not even feeling sorry for Haynes at the moment, “patients can't speak. In less than a year, they're bed-ridden, and dead within a year or two of that. The lab ran the tests three times. You're infected, Nicole, and onset has kicked in.”


Nicole's hands shake against the table as reality sinks in.


Bobby glides slowly away from the TV. “Stern wanted to turn the women who put on airs, who tried to change him, into animals. With you, he went one step further: he went after your mind. Your greatest asset, the one that gets you in and out of so many messes.”


The lawyer sees the necessity of speaking. “What are you offering?”


That Nicole doesn't object tells Carver and the detectives that her brain was addled by the news. “She pleads to five counts of murder, two counts of conspiracy, and fraud. We put her in a prison hospital where she'll be monitored as her condition deteriorates. It would also be appreciated if she surrenders the money she stole from Elizabeth Hitchens to the Australians so the embezzled funds can be returned to the Foundation. And we want a special statement regarding her French boyfriend in case he ever appears in the States.”


For the longest time, it seems like Nicole has hit the inability-to-speak phase. To her, however, it is an enternity as all of her plans fall apart before her eyes. Not even being acquitted from lack of evidence will save her from the ravages of disease, or save her marriage.


Dr. Stern had the last laugh after all.





( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I could see it playing out in my head. I love how you show that Bobby is moving on and getting better. I'll bet Alex wanted to slap Nicole! I would have! Lovely work! I hope you post more CI fic in the future!
Apr. 22nd, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
And yet he has compassion because this isn't something he would've wished upon her. :)

Thank you. Yes, I'll post more of my CI fics soon to LJ. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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