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29 September 2007 @ 08:50 pm
"Shot Down" Pt. 2  
Title: Shot Down, Part Two of Five
Fandom: Hot Fuzz
Character/s: NA/DB/Liz
Word Count: 28,000 total (part two, 6,250)
Rating: NC-17+.
Summary: The beginning of the Ring Cycle.

Background:
Part One



Shot Down, Part Two


Liz sat at the pub, looking at her lunch. It was some kind of pudding, and she was hesitant to ask for details. At least the lager was at the right temperature. She was allowing herself the joy of a pint in the middle of the day as a celebration of finally, after nearly two weeks of solid effort, organizing the office. The paper, which came out every week, was riding on AP stories and subscription fluff like puzzles and cartoons until she could focus on it. Now that she had the back end straightened out, she thought it was time to stop thinking like a secretary and more like a reporter. That, at least, earned her a pint, but she did not feel very joyous about it.

Danny had not visited for several days. She saw him out on his patrol, and once he even waved, but he was definitely avoiding her. She surprised herself with how much she missed him, because she was not used to missing people. The joys of being a misanthrope were numerous, and one of the main ones was never feeling the need to pine after anyone, for any reason.

She met most of the town in an incidental way by now, and knew there was plenty of time ahead of her to get to know everyone far too well. Danny was different, though. He just lit up the room with his smile and made Liz feel happy about being in the present moment, something she was not very good at. She was usually too focused on working, writing, research, editing, drafting, remembering…everything. Danny’s few visits gave her the same peace of mind she got around Geo: everything was going to fine, don’t worry, everything will turn out okay. It never did, not for Liz, but it felt so good to pretend every once in a while.

She spent the rest of the day going through the stack of story ideas that Tim Messenger typed out – on a typewriter, no less – and filed away. Most were crap but one or two were still valid leads, so Liz made a few phone calls, a few appointments, and a few rough drafts. It was 8pm before she even looked at the clock.

Someone knocked on the door and she jumped. Her London instincts were still strong, and she debated calling Geo just to have her on the line when she answered the door. Shaking her head, she frowned at herself and got up to answer it.

“Good evening, Ms. King.” Inspector Angel stood rigidly in front of her, neither friendly nor rude.

Liz was not pleased to see him. “Inspector, please come in. I’m glad to see you.”

She thought his facial reaction was a bit shifty, but he came in and stood politely in the middle of the office. She was distinctly unhappy about this, and wondered suddenly if he had been checking up on her. More spying, more snooping, and it churned her stomach.

“Please, have a seat. I went and bought some extra chairs for this place, now that there is room for them.” She motioned to one of the nice office chairs against the wall. Angel stood still and visually, methodically, inspected the room. He could send chills down the back of a polar bear, she thought, and then hit on the idea that it was sexy. He was sexy. And that bothered her most of all.

“You have improved the place a bit.” He finally said before sitting down.

“Took quite a while, really. Tim Messenger was not very organized and the temporary editors did not have any motivation to straighten the place out. Took forever.” She sighed and sat down at the desk, reaching out to automatically straighten the pens in the desk organizer so they all leaned the same direction. She could not decide whether to smile at him or not, and then thought that it was stupid to think about it in the first place, and finally laughed at herself.

Angel gave her a peculiar look. “I beg your pardon?”

“Laughing at myself, no bother.” She straightened her face and reminded herself that he was cop, and so she needed to stay on his good side, if he had one. “Since you’re here, I want to thank you for Sergeant Butterman.”

Angel jerked in the chair, an unconscious and particularly odd movement. “I’m sorry?”

“Sergeant Butterman. He was so much help to me, coming by to go through papers and stuff. He knows everyone and it helped to have that kind of insight sorting a mass of documents full of names I don’t recognize. He told me that you approved his coming by on patrol. I know it’s a bit outside the spectrum of police work, but it really was tremendously helpful.”

Angel stared at her and she thought for a second that something dark and dangerous floated through his eyes, and she began to wonder what his story was. Maybe he just did not like Danny at all, despite his show at the pub. She could see a hard ass like him not being too generous with sweet, bumbling Danny, and the idea filled her with disdain. Anyone who did not like Danny was someone she did not need to like herself.

“Not at all, Ms. King. I’m glad he was able to help.” He gave her a blank expression.

They stared at each other in silence.

“May I ask what brings you by here at this late hour, Inspector?” She asked, trying to sound cold and professional in order to put him on the defense.

“Danny enjoys his visits with you, Ms. King.” Nicholas’ voice dropped about an octave and the hackles on Liz’ neck stood up in alarm. She could not get a bead on this man, and that was not a familiar situation. It was her job to read people and understand them, but neither was happening right now, and she was one step short of terrified. She knew that feeling too well and she knew what would happen if she did not keep control of the situation, but backing off was pretty much all she could do right now.

“Yes?” She asked simply, arranging her face into innocent curiosity.

“That’s all.” He was studying her like a cat with a canary. She interviewed a terrorist in jail once, a man who was a zealot to his cause and absolutely, breathtakingly insane. Nicholas reminded Liz of that man, right now, calculating and dangerous and very unstable. There were no guards here to pull this man off her if he went ballistic, so she decided to let him play his game, to a point, and steer him out as soon as possible.

“He’s a good man.” She stated it, staring right back at him, trying to remain neutral even as she heard her voice pitch up in defense of Danny.

That seemed to catch him off guard, though, and he stood up abruptly. Nodding, he headed for the door, but stopped before opening it. Slowly, she stood up and walked up to where he was standing, careful not to get to close. Her plan was to just be there to make sure she locked the door after he left.

In the next instant he turned and shoved her back and pushed up against her, breathing hard, holding her arms pinned to the wall, but not looking her in the face, and keeping most of his body away from hers, just his shoulders and upper chest pressing down on her. It was aggressive but not entirely threatening, since his legs were set wide and she could knee him in the balls very easily if she tried. She did not want to try, actually, because she felt his body shaking and it occurred to her that if she did put up a fight, it would be the answer to his prayers. Somehow she knew he was not here to rape her, and he was not there specifically to hurt her, but he was trying to subdue her, and he wanted her to allow that to happen.

“Let go of me motherfucker.”

He bounced off her in shock and gave her a terrified, confused look, almost as if she had slapped him. His mouth opened, trying to say something.

“I think you need to leave, Inspector.” She pointed at the door, and his gaze followed.

“My god…I…” He was talking to the door, then took a deep breath to face her again. He looked crushed, as if something inside him was broken, and Liz actually began to feel sorry for him. He squared his shoulders and looked her in the eye with what appeared to be the last of his determination.

“Stay away from Danny.”

He walked out, slamming the door behind him.

-----

Nicholas knew Danny was expecting him. He knew there was some kind of takeout waiting on the coffee table and a movie set to play. He knew Danny would not understand why Nicholas went to Liz’ office, and he knew that he could not justify it. Even to himself. His actions to both Danny and Liz were entirely out of line, and out of character, and Nicholas felt himself cracking into a million pieces as he walked slowly back to the station.

He had gone into that office jealous of her, he finally admitted. He wanted to see what Danny saw, and figure out if it was something Nicholas could give him instead, as ridiculous as that sounded to him now. He wanted to prove to himself that she was deranged, and that Danny could never think of her the way he thought of Nicholas.

Instead Nicholas came up against a woman who was as sharp and hard as Nicholas was himself. Or at least, the way he used to be. She had been polite, kind, solicitous, and in the end as vicious as a bitch protecting her young. He watched her manner change when the subject of Danny was brought up, and he suspected that it was his fault it happened that way.

Nicholas was no bully, and he hated bullies, but he knew he had tried to bully her. He wanted to scare her away, or…something. He remembered her hard look at him at the door, before he grabbed her: self-confidant, unafraid, determined. It was not a vision he saw in many people, and it aroused him in a way that he thought Danny never could. She was willing to fight him and she was willing to win, and his legs went weak with the idea of being overpowered by anyone, even as he knew it was something he did not need nor want.

He grabbed her in confusion, uncertain if he was trying to seduce her or bully her or scare her, or if he was just trying to grasp something he felt was lost to him. Or if he was pushing her just to have her push him down.

And then he understood that it was not just about Danny anymore.

------

Liz slid down the wall in shock, completely forgetting to lock the door.

She knew she should be scared, that she should be calling someone and reporting the inspector’s behavior. There was no compulsion in her to do either, so she just sat still.

His last words to her still hung in the air. It was more than what he said, because she was fairly certain that she could not trust anything he said, particularly in relation to Danny. It was the way he said it. Desperate, broken, heart-broken…all very good adjectives to use, she thought analytically.

Smoothly, like a key in a lock, the pieces fell together: Nicholas Angel was gay; he was in love with Danny; and he could not deal with Danny caring for anyone else. She felt even sorrier for him, because it was obvious to her that Danny’s adoration of Angel was that of a boy to a man, nothing sexual at all, just reverence. Angel wanted something he could never have, and so he did not want anyone else to have it either. A trifle selfish, perhaps, but who hasn’t felt that way at some point? Liz shook her head.

Danny probably felt the undercurrent, and that was why he was avoiding her, trying to keep himself on Angel’s good side. She could not imagine Danny in a sexual way, even though she admitted to nursing a small, friendly crush on him. He was just sweet and innocent and kind, and it rubbed her raw to think of him being in the cross hairs of a genuine bastard like Angel.

She brought her shaking hands up and rubbed her face, grateful for the fact that she washed up after lunch and there was no makeup left to smear about. The smell caught her attention unexpectedly: his smell. Angel’s cologne was on her, somewhere, and she felt an electric current run through her as she thought of his breath on her neck and the feel of his hands gripping her arms and how good it felt press back, to fight him off, and her mind immediately went to the thought of him under her, gagged...

“God DAMN it!” She hit the floor with her fists.

-------

“You lied to me.”

“S’not anything, Nicky! It’s not!” Danny was raging, pacing back and forth in his kitchen, alternating currents between despair and anger. Nicholas sat at the table, his hands flat down on it, looking at the tips of his fingers.

“You’ve been lying about your patrols, too, Danny. That’s not about us. That’s about the job.”

“The job? That’s what you’re on about? Or her?” Danny stood like a cornered bear, staring down Nicholas from across the room. “I ain’t been vistin’ her since…you know…last week…” Danny looked down, a bit embarrassed to be referring to Nicholas’ sexual attack. It backfired on him, though, because that memory only brought Nicholas’ shame to the surface and made him more determined than ever to do this.

“Danny, I’m just saying that your…our priorities are messed up right now. Maybe…we just need some time apart.”

Nicholas blinked when a wrenching flashback of this same conversation with Janine came to mind. Not quite the same, as there were no concerns about job priorities, of course. But it was close to the same, with Janine raging about the unfairness of it all and Nicholas just calmly, simply, letting her know that it was over. Danny was seething in helplessness, scared and angry and confused, and Nicholas could not bring himself to help. He believed he needed to do this, to push Danny away before they really hurt each other.

He was not sure how they might, but it seemed very real to him right then. He was jealous of Danny and was utterly terrified that Danny would betray him, yet he was also afraid that staying with Danny would rob him of his own soul. He had seen his reflection in Liz King and it was so familiar, so important, that he wondered where it had gone for him. And he wanted her, in that blinding moment of insanity. He wanted her flesh and her mouth and her smell and he wanted things that he simply should not want, and he wondered if that meant he did not love Danny the way he thought he did. He was not gay, after all, so it was likely that his affection for Danny was just a phase; but to say that to Danny would just be pointlessly cruel.

It was this cauldron of conflict that drove Angel forward with his resolve, that made him walk out of Danny’s apartment without turning around. His last view was of Danny standing in the middle of the kitchen, looking down, destroyed.

-----

“Wow, you fucked everything up in record time.” Geo marveled.

“Oh ghod, I did not. Danny tried to kiss me, I didn’t let him, end of story. That was nearly a month ago anyway.”

“Holding out on me. Hunh. And the Angel? Where does he come in, here?”

Liz wondered when Angel went from being “the fascist” to “the Angel,” and how much she could tell Geo about him either way. She decided that she could not tell her anything without setting the woman off like a fire cracker.

“You’re not telling me something.”

“Damnit, Tipsy, do you have to be so damn psychic?”

Geo did not answer.

“Fine. He came by the office the other night. It was…a scene. I don’t know what he wanted. I think he is gay and love with Danny, and totally torturing himself over it.”

Geo whistled. “I really need to move to the country.”

“I would so love that.”

“So the fallout?”

“Danny and the Angel not talking, Danny and me barely talking, everyone else in town talking too much.”

“And you and the Angel?”

Liz cursed inwardly. “Definitely not talking.”

“What the hell did he do?”

“Just a scene, Geo.”

“What, like a kinky scene, with whips and t’ings? Or?”

“Or.”

Geo was silent for a brief moment, but not long enough for Liz. “He’s jealous of you, and thinks you were going to steal his boi?”

“That’s my assumption.” Liz focused on carefully lining up her notepad with the stapler with the tape dispenser.

“Stop it with the desk-jongg.” Geo clucked at her.

Liz growled and sat up, nearly dropping her phone.

“You really don’t want to talk about him.”

“I really, really don’t want to talk about him.”

“You like ‘im!” Geo whistled.

“Not like that. Not even much at all.”

“But….” Geo pressed.

“Okay, he’s sexy. I thought…stuff I don’t need to be thinking about. And he can’t be trusted. And he hates me, and he’s jealous of Danny. And…”

“Awesome. You have crush on a gay man who hates you for stealing his het boi toy. Tell you what, I come visit, I’ll bring the gags and an’ some paddles.” Geo laughed, and Liz felt like slitting her wrists. Or Geo’s wrists. Whichever.

There was a knock at the office door.

“It is fucking nine at night, who the fuck is bothering us?” Geo grumbled.

“I don’t know, Tipsy. Stay with me, just in case.” Liz cradled the phone as she went to the door. It was Danny, looking drunk and forelorn. “Oi, Danny. What are you doing here?”

“Oh ‘allelujah, Cuddles. Get laid, okay?” Geo said quickly and hung up. Liz looked at the phone in frustration before reaching out to pull Danny into the office.

------

Nicholas finished himself off with a small, strangled cry. He was never one for masturbating much – it seemed such an empty experience – but his enforced celibacy over the last few weeks was killing him. Seeing Danny every day at work and not touching him at night was killing him. Watching Liz studiously avoid the entire police department while chasing down stories about missing swans was killing him. Sexual fantasies running back and forth between Danny and Liz were killing him. In fact Nicholas Angel could not think of any portion of his life right now that did not, in some way, both turn him on and kill him. Except maybe the swans.

This time he did not get up immediately to wash off, to pretend that he was not doing exactly what he was doing. He held himself in the dark, feeling the warm liquid dripping down his fingers, panting a little, listening to his empty cottage.

He loved Danny and he knew, somehow, he would make up with him. The knowledge settled on him comfortably and comforting: it was true. And just as true was the fact that he had no idea where Liz fit into that. Was Danny in love with her? Was she in love with Danny? And just how did he, Nicholas Angel, feel about this woman he physically assaulted? He wanted, desperately, for someone to tell him what to do. Danny had done that for a while, earlier, by telling Nicholas when to shut down and when it was time for sex and when it was time for work. But as their relationship moved forward Danny gave up more and more of his control to Nicholas, which made sense, but left him feeling like a listing ship. Nicholas dreamed of Danny topping him, wanted it so badly he could scream, but he dared never to ask for it because it was his job. He was in charge. He was supposed to hold everything together, and the fact that he broke up with Danny only proved how terrible he was at it.

And Liz was just physical need. He had not been with a woman since the last time he had sex with Janine. He was probably craving it, and he knew it. She was strong though and it was a turn on he tried not to think about. Danny was stronger. He had no way of explaining that to Danny though.

He rolled off the bed and headed to the bathroom. Not in the mood for a shower, he grabbed a towel while he thought of how he was going to make up with Danny, and what he could do to him as well. That would definitely be the best part, he thought: the make-up sex. Clinically he debated his approach, both emotional and physical, and felt himself getting aroused again standing in front of the sink. It was a bit silly, and he laughed at his own libido. He could hear Liz’ laughter in his head, remembering the time at the pub when he overheard her asking Danny if Nicholas was a sex-crazed idiot, right after Danny tried to kiss her. Suddenly, unbidden, the image turned into Danny and Liz kissing, and Nicholas was so hard it hurt. He leaned over with a soft moan of surprise and held the sink with both hands, holding himself up, driving the image out of his brain. The only place it went was south and Nicholas grabbed his cock, pulling and rubbing it as he imagined Danny fucking the hell out Liz, the two of them sweating and groaning as Danny held her hips to his, pushing himself deeper and deeper into the woman, her breasts pressed up against Danny’s broad chest, her mouth round and sucking on Danny’s lips. The image kept playing until Nicholas almost heard the two of them coming, Danny shaking in his familiar way, Liz grinding in her unknown one, both of them hoarse with pleasure, and Nicholas came with an orgasm so powerful it drove him to his knees. His chin hit the sink as he fell, and his last fleeting thought before passing out was that Liz had a way of making his face hurt.

-----

Danny just sat silently, watching Liz. She did not find it bothersome, as Geo had the same habit when she was stoned. In a way, it was very familiar, and Liz wrote more that night than she did all day.

“Danny?”

“Yeah, Liz?” He was starting to sober up from when he first tripped into the office two hours before.

“Danny, I have to interview the inspector tomorrow.” She was hoping to break it to him easy, but he just gave her a blank look. “Angel, Inspector Angel. Nicholas. I have to interview him tomorrow.”

Recognition lit up in his eyes. “Aaie?”

“This drug ring the Andes broke up, it’s big news…”

“Three fourteen year olds and a bag of weed? Gawww.” Danny snorted.

Liz felt the same way, but it was her job. “Yes, that. So I’ll be by the office tomorrow. Do you…would you rather I not, you know, stop by to say hi, if you’re there?”

Danny looked at her and blinked. “Liz?”

“Yes, Danny?”

“Why d’you keep straightening up your desk so much?”

“Oh. Well. I just like everything to be in order. Is all.”

“But it is straight. S’mat wrong with how straight it is now?”

Liz realized she had the stapler in her hand. “Geo calls is desk-jongg; always moving things around. They just never seem…perfect enough.” She put down the stapler.

“Nicky’s perf’k.”

“What?”

Danny looked as if he was trying very hard not to cry, and Liz froze, flummoxed.

“Nicky’s perfect. Don’t you think he’s perf’k?” Danny leaned forward, so sincere it hurt to look at him.

Liz most certainly did not think Angel was perfect, or perf’k, or in any way close to it. She was not looking forward to seeing him tomorrow, and this conversation was not making her any more comfortable with the idea.

“Who is Geo?” Danny asked. Liz was getting a headache keeping up with the swerves.

“She’s…my best friend. My sister. She’s everything, really.”

Danny’s eyes lit up. “You love her?”

“Of course I do.”

He nodded. “I love Nicholas.” The tears came back, he refused to say anything else, and suddenly Liz understood a lot more than she had before. Danny left not long after, and Liz did not expect to see him again any time soon.

She poured a large, overly large shot of vodka and sat back down, thinking that Nicholas had taken Danny from her again. She did not know why she thought of it that way, and she did not want to think about how she felt about Nicholas in relation to that. He clearly did not know what he wanted, and while she was willing to meet it halfway and say that she wanted him physically, she could not think of him as anything but a bastard.

Nicholas Angel made Danny cry. Somehow, she thought, that son of a bitch should pay.

------

“Thank you for seeing me, Inspect…what happened to your chin?” Liz stood in the door of Nicholas’ office, surprise on her face.

“Nothing, I fell.” He touched the bandage on his face, knowing that it did not cover the bruise that blossomed around the actual cut. “Please, come in, Ms. King.” He motioned to the chair across from his desk. He could not tell if she was wearing make-up – women were very sneaky and clever about that, he learned over the years – but she looked fresh and clean and soft. He tried to steer his mind to safer waters, but he was having a very hard time looking at her without thinking of the cataclysmic fantasies he was nursing about her and Danny. Just thinking of them now nearly left him speechless.

“Thank you. I’m here about that drug ring…”

They went through the motions of the interview, Liz asking the expected questions and Nicholas giving the expected answers. He could tell she was hurrying it, and he also caught her furtive glances over towards Danny’s desk in the main room. Danny was out on patrol with Doris, though, so Nicholas felt comfortable enough in the meantime.

“Well, thank you, Inspector. I appreciate your…”

“Lunch?”

“What?”

“Lunch. Food. Eating? I’m asking if you will join me for lunch.” He repeated himself when she failed to respond. It was an entirely spur of the moment invitation and Nicholas felt as surprised as Liz looked.

They sat down at the pub rather formally. Nicholas could not shake the feeling that it was a first date, and he hoped to hell that she was not feeling the same way.

“I’m sorry, Ms. King, if you are uncomfortable…”

“Well I am. If I remember correctly, last time we were together you threw me up against the wall.” She spoke tersely, and Nicholas wondered what inspired him to this fit of insanity. Then she looked at him, severe and disapproving, and he fought down a very inappropriate hard on.

“I was…distraught. I even wish I could blame it on drinking.”

“I usually do.” She sighed and looked away.

“I beg pardon?”

“Just…go on. You were apologizing, and doing a bad job of it. Try to redeem yourself.” She just simply refused to look at him and that act was as powerful to him as any verbal reprimand. She was treating him like shit, and he knew damn well he deserved it, and his hard on raged underneath the table.

“I’m sorry. I’m genuinely, honestly, sorry.”

She looked at him. “That was good. And next time?”

“Next time what?”

“Next time you decide to throw me around. What will your apology sound like then?” She looked up and stared hard at him, fierce, and empty. Nicholas sat back.

“I don’t do that.”

“You did.”

He stared at her, because she was right. And on top of that, he had short of assaulted Danny earlier that same week, and now he was feeling dirty and evil. That was not him, though, not at all, he did not act that way. He was a police officer. A good man…

“I’m…a bit…confused.”

She stopped her glaring and blinked in surprise. “About what?”

“I don’t know.” He stared at his food, trying to be honest but not having a clue as to what he was supposed to be feeling or saying. She ignored it and started eating again, and he followed her lead with relief.

“Do you miss Danny?” She finally asked, breaking the silence. Nicholas froze with a fork halfway to his mouth, then slowly lowered it.

“I work with him every day.”

Liz sighed heavily. “He misses you terribly, he’s just a wreck. You need to make up with him.”

Nicholas stared at her in horror. “You think…you think I’m gay?”

Liz gave him a withering look. “The man cries over you. You nearly rip me apart for making doe eyes at him. Just what the hell do you expect anyone to think?”

“Danny and I are close partners, and friends. I don’t think that necessarily leads to the idea that…”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” She threw her fork down and rolled her eyes.

Nicholas swallowed, and made the next move, and when he made it, he realized that it was what he planned all along.

“Can I talk to you, Liz?”

------

They were both careful not to make their meetings very obvious. There was no way to keep people from seeing them eat lunch a the pub together regularly, or from noticing that the Inspector stopped by her office a lot when he got off work, but both she and Nicholas went to great pains to make everything look above board and professional, and most importantly, invisible to Danny.

Liz was not entirely pleased about it. Nicholas seemed to be vetting her approval, and she did not approve of anything he did. Not the way he attacked her, not the way he dumped Danny, and not the way he apologized for either. She particularly did not like the way he moved, his elegant athletic grace tightly wound up in a very fit and attractive body. He was not handsome but his face was hardened by experience, and his eyes flashed when he became passionate about anything. She hated all of that, because she did not want to like him that much. She debated seducing him and fucking him and getting it over with, but alarm bells went off when she considered that plan, and she learned from Geo that alarms bells were a good caution sign. She kept her hands to herself and her libido on “off.” Or at least, on “vibrate.” Whatever buttons Nicholas Angel was pushing, she was not going to allow to register.

Geo, of course, knew better.

“You’re dating the gay one?”

“We’re not dating, Geo.”

“Huh.”

“We just talk a lot. He’s got a lot to talk about. That whole shoot out last year shook him up and then his relationship with Danny came from left field…apparently he’d never been attracted to guys before.”

“Melt down material, if you think you’re straight.”

“Actually he does think he’s straight.”

“The whole time he shags his boyfriend, he thinks he’s straight? Love it!” Geo howled with laughter. Liz really did not have a reply to offer that, as she thought it was very stupid herself, and had said as much to Nicholas. Who, she noted with grudging admiration, ignored her completely on that topic.

“What about Danny, then? You see him much?”

“Not really. He’s spending a lot of time at the pub and Nicholas says when he’s at work, he never talks directly at him.” She put Geo on speakerphone as her ear was beginning to hurt.

“You sound like you miss him.”

“I do.”

“Go talk to him.”

“It’s not me he needs to talk to.”

“You’re just trying to get them back together, aren’t you?”

“Well…yeah, I guess I am.”

“Nice.” Geo sounded angry.

“What does that mean?”

“It meaaaaans that you have found the perfect boyfriend. Or boyfriends. Perfect. For. You.”

“Just what the hell does that mean?”

“It means this is a great way for you to set up shop there without actually having to get intimate with anyone. Hell you can fuck them, but no pressure, they can got each other to go home to, and no bother for you at all.”

“You sound really angry, Geo, and I don’t know what the fuck all you are on about.”

“Oh Christ! Liz! Date a straight man!”

“I tried that, Geo!”

“No you just pretend, don’t you? You like being seen with a guy on your arm but you don’t want to come home to one!” Geo was shouting, and the speakerphone magnified it to epic proportions.

“It wouldn’t be any different with women, Geo!”

“That’s not what the fuck I’m saying! I know you’re straight! Keee-rist, Liz! Your home is your castle but that don’t mean you have to pull up the bridge forever!”

“I will NOT allow it to happen again!”

“You won’t! It don’t follow, Liz! It is not one way the other, completely alone or completely destroyed! Can’t you allow yourself to fuhkin’ be happy?

“I’m bloody fucking fantastically happy!” Liz snarled.

“You!” Geo was full out yelling into the phone. “You wear Andrew like a martyr! Let it go!”

“If he’s martyr it’s your fault! Not mine!”

“Don’ you dare lay that bloody mess at my feet!”

“I don’t need anyone, Geo! I don’t need Angel and I don’t need Danny and I don’t fucking need you!” Liz punched the phone line to hang up. She sat at her desk, head in her hands, trying to calm down. And then the worst feeling the world came over her.

She looked up to see Nicholas staring her.

------

Danny had gone home to change and clean up, as usual, and afterwards nearly ran out of the apartment. Everything in it, every movie, every scrap of junk food, every pillow reminded him of Nicholas and he could not take it sober. He walked down the familiar road to the pub and tried to think of something else. The only thing that came to mind was the other person in Sandford he was trying to avoid.

Thinking of Liz was not quite as painful. She was so strong and beautiful, and understanding. She never asked him to explain anything and she got every movie reference he made. He really wished he was not quite so hung up on Nicholas, because part of him really wanted to hit on Liz. He remembered their brief encounter at the pub before she clocked Nicholas, and the memory was warm and sexy. He liked to remember it a lot. He also liked to remember the earlier part of the evening, when Nicholas and Liz were both laughing together and smiling and everyone was having fun. Danny thought at the time that he could not have been happier, with those two sitting next to him, making rude noises at the Andes. Danny admitted that they looked very good together, though, and he knew that Liz thought Nicholas was very handsome that night. She might not remember saying so, but she did. Not for the first time, he wondered if Nicholas would have hit on Liz if Danny were not around. Part of that idea struck him as a turn on, but his heart lurched at the idea of Nicky with anyone else. Not that it mattered now that Nicholas was done with him.

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Nicholas never asked her about the phone call, nor told her how much he overheard. He walked in that night, put his arm around her, and let her cry on his shoulder. He asked her about Geo and how long they were friends, and where they met, and what they did together. He was a little taken aback to find out about they way slept together, spooned like sisters, completely without sex and cuddling for hours, but he did not say anything. He talked to her, kissed her on the cheek like a brother, and told her everything would be better the next day.

She ground her teeth in anger, but her world did not collapse because Nicholas found out a few private things about her. He seemed to realize that they had not talked about her much, mostly always discussing his problems instead, and so started making a concerted effort to ask her questions about herself during their lunches. She tried desperately to avoid answering any of them.

Slowly, Inspector Nicholas Angel was starting to act like a human being, someone she could care about and trust, and she hated it.

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Cont. (Links go to my LJ):
Part Three
 
 
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