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30 October 2007 @ 03:39 pm
Response and Responsibilties (Part Three of Three - End!)  
Title: Response and Responsibilities, Part Three of Three
Fandom: Hot Fuzz
Character/s: NA/DB in a romance-y sort of way
Word Count: 6,500 (in three parts)
Rating: PG-13 (mostly for cussing)
Summary: Chick Flick romance! Unrequited love! Mistakes in judgment! Stupid Secrets! And…a baby girl!!!!


Response and Responsibilities, Part Three

Danny arrived four days later, looking crumpled. Nicholas nearly tore the cell phone out of his hand, as he kept calling the Reapers to check on Little Irene. Nicholas sympathized, but talking to his soon-to-be ex-wife every fifteen minutes was not helping Danny’s nerves much at all. Nor Nicholas’.

When they made it into Nicholas’ house, a nice two story duplex on the east side of London, Danny stopped cold inside the door. Nicholas had a small foyer that contained a delicate, wrought iron table covered with pictures of Little Irene and Danny. Nicholas put a hand on Danny’s shoulder.

“You put up all the pictures I sent you?” Danny sounded amazed.

“Yes. If not here at the house, then at work. I’m afraid I get ribbing about that.” Nicholas picked up Danny’s suitcase and angled around him to take it upstairs. Danny stood in the foyer for a bit before following after him.

Nicholas did not make any big plans. He had to work for the first two days, unable to secure a full week off, but he set Danny up at the house with a bunch of videos and food and almost no beer. Alcohol-induced weeping was not on Nicholas’ agenda, at any point. When he got home they sat on his couch and watched movies side by side just as they always did, and by the third day Danny looked rested and was only calling after Irene every few hours. As they ate breakfast that morning, Nicholas just sat back and watched as Danny went through a range of noises and fatherly utterances of devotion to his little girl. It was literally heartwarming to watch and Nicholas knew he was sitting there smiling like a goofy fool.

“Wot you starin’ at?” Danny asked defensively when he hung up.

“You.” Nicholas shrugged and turned back to his food.

“Just talking to my girl.”

“I know. You love her.” Nicholas smiled again. “I do too, you know, in my own way. Perhaps…well, I wish I could know her better, myself.”

Danny’s expression took a dark turn. “Nan…doesn’t approve of me bein’ here.”

“What could she possibly object to? And isn’t she the one filing for divorce?”

“She threatened to fight for full custody if I came.”

Nicholas nearly dropped his fork. “Is she mad?”

“What, like crazy? No. Not that kind of mad.” Danny stopped there.

“Then what? What on earth could possibly move her to threaten you like that? You’ve agreed to every demand she’s made, short of quitting the service.” Nicholas was furious and threw his fork down, rattling Danny, but he was past caring, red with outrage. “How dare she threaten us! And take away Irene? We’ll fight, Danny; I’ll get every barrister in London on this, and I know a few. Don’t you dare let her do this with our girl!”

“Nicholas!” Danny shouted and Nicholas sat back in shock. Danny did not look mad, but he was getting flushed just the same. “Listen to yourself! Why is she doing this? ‘Our girl’ and ‘threaten us’ and ‘we’ll fight’! Damnit, Nick, that’s exactly why she’s doing it!” Danny hit the counter with his fist but the exclamation was unnecessary. Nicholas got the point.

They sat still for a second. “She can’t possibly believe…Danny, that is absurd.” Nicholas nearly stuttered, feeling himself blush unwillingly.

“What, that I’m a bender? That you and I aren’t off shagging in the bushes whenever her back is turned?” Danny was full on yelling.

“I’m in London, Danny! Does she really believe I’m sneaking back to Sandford to shag you in the bushes?!” Nicholas yelled back.

“No! No!...no…just…it’s what she thinks, Nicholas.” His temper dropped as quickly as it flared and he sat back into his seat like a lead weight.

Nicholas rubbed his face, completely flummoxed on how to continue the discussion. Finally he decided he had to say something, anything, to bring Danny back from where ever his mind had drifted off to, which was certainly no place good.

“We both know that is not true. And whatever rumors were going that started her thinking this absurd idea are not true. We know that. She has nothing to stand on. And I do know some barristers, Danny; they can get you pointed in the right direction for help. Don’t let her do this to you because of her own disappointment with the marriage.”

Danny sniffed hard, not near crying but just trying to take a deep breath. “I won’t. But…it’s not…” He flushed red again and looked at his hands, then slowly leaned over and propped himself up on his elbows. “It’s not about the farm or the service or anything like that. It never was. It’s about…me.”

“How so? What are you talking about?” Nicholas shrugged, exasperated.

“She got proof, Nicholas.”

“What?” Nicholas blinked, and blinked again, confused. “Proof? I’ve been in London for two years…what on earth could…”

“Witnesses.” It was all Danny said and he buried his face in his hands.

“To WHAT? Danny! All we ever did was watch movies at your flat! Drink at the pub! Walk the beat! This is ludicrous!” Nicholas leaned back, spreading his arms wide, yelling again. “She have proof that I ate a cornetto in the police car while on duty!?! Jesus Christ!”

Danny put down his hands but kept looking at the table. “You remember…no, you don’t.” He breathed in deeply, steeling himself, and this was Nicholas’ first clue that he was going to be blindsided. “Once, one time…you was drunk. We were wrestling…you don’t remember, I know, I asked if you did…” He stopped, and in that pause, Nicholas’ entire world exploded in sudden awareness of where all this was going.

“Danny…” He said it softly, almost like a warning, but Danny was not listening.

“Oh god, Nick…I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…I know we’re mates…partners…but…there’s somethin’ in me, and…” He was starting to cry, but fighting it, and it made talking difficult. Nicholas sat in his chair, unable to move or even think. Danny might believe that Nicholas was innocent in all this, but he knew better, and he was devestated. “I…we was wrestlin’ and I didn’t mean nothing by it….just a kiss, you know? I meant it to be funny, but then it wasn’t and…we kissed for a long time. Oh god…” Danny wrapped himself in his arms and looked at the ceiling.

“No one was there, Danny. No one knows about that.” Nicholas said, staying neutral.

“I know. You don’t remember and I never told anyone but…then Nan was pregnant and I was getting’ married and you was transferring to London and everything was just so wrong, Nicholas. Irene…she was about the only happiness I had left.”

Nicholas leaned forward and rested on the table. “Danny, kissing a man one time when you are drunk is hardly proof of homosexuality. And I’m certain that no one saw…us.”

Danny shook his head, missing the implication in Nicholas’ phrasing. “No one had to, Nicholas.”

Nicholas shook his head in turn. “I don’t understand.”

“You can’t understand, I guess. I was so unhappy, Nicholas. Confused…an’ you weren’t there, yeah? So I had no one to…ask or anything. Not that…I know you’re not like that, Nick, not like…me.”

Nicholas’ heart dropped and he came to the clear, vivid understand that he should never, ever have left Sandford.

“What happened after I left, Danny?” Nicholas leaned forward and looked Danny in the eyes.

Danny did not answer for a long time while they stared at each other, clearly fighting out how he wanted to tell Nicholas what haunted him. Finally he drew in a breath and straightened up and looked directly at the wall. “Fielding…she’s good, you know?”

Nicholas squinted, confused by the swerve in the conversation. “I’ve only ever talked to her on the phone a few times. Seems like a very capable officer.”

“Oh yeah, she’s that. You know…she’s got this friend…”

“Her wife Sherri. Yes. She told me.”

Danny looked shocked. “She did?”

“Well, yes, she’s rather open about that, isn’t she?”

Danny raised his eyebrows in disagreement. “Not really, Nick. Everyone knows, ‘course, but she’s real shy about it.”

Nicholas could not reply to that, because it was exactly the opposite of his experience with her.

“Anyway, we was talkin’ one night at the pub. The Andes made some smart comment about us, you know, like they do, and kept callin’ you a bender an’ all. She just jumped on ‘em, Nick, like guns blazin’ – you shoulda’ seen it. I don’t think they stopped burning for days.” Danny gave him a very little, very sneaky smile.

“Danny, what does any of this have to do with the proof you think Nan has about you?” Nicholas tried to steer the conversation off Fielding’s defense of his sexuality, which suddenly made his conversations with her a lot more understandable.

“We talked about it. What the Andes said. She told me it was okay, and all about her an’ Sherri…and…” He stopped, flushing again. “Nick…I think she thought…we…well, what with everythin’ folks said, you know…we…” Danny sighed. “I let her think that. It was nice to have someone understand, Nick. I didn’t mean to make her think that…about you, you know. I’m so sorry.” He bowed his head, close to tears again. The emotional roller coaster was taking its toll on Nicholas, who leaned forward and set his head down on his arms.

“No, Danny, I’m the one who is so fucking sorry.” He looked up into Danny’s surprise. “You might be beating yourself up about it, but in all honesty, I thought it was a marvelous kiss.” He looked straight at Danny as he said it, uncertain of whether it was the right thing to say, but saying it anyway.

They stared at each other, Danny deep in shock. “You said you didn’ remember!”

“I lied.”

If possible, Danny looked even more shocked.

“I lied because I thought you would not be able to handle it. Honestly, Danny, I lied because I was worried of what you would think about yourself. Or me.” Nicholas ran a hand over his short crop of hair.

“You?” It was all Danny could manage to say.

“Yes, Danny. Me.

“…So you remembered? This whole time you been lyin’?” Danny acted more upset about that than what Nicholas was implying by the confession.

Nicholas nodded slowly. “Yes, I remembered, and yes, this whole time I’ve been lying.”

“Why did you lie to me?”

“I told you…I didn’t think it was something…well, I did not think it was something our friendship would survive. And I refused to let that happen. You are my best friend, Danny; I thought if you felt uncomfortable around me, I would lose that.”

Danny nodded. “I guess I felt the same way.”

Nicholas was almost numb from the repeated shocks to his system, so he just nodded at that. “I still don’t understand, Danny, what proof you think Nan has.”

Danny shook his head as if shaking off a bad dream. “Me. With a bloke.”

Nicholas shot up straight in his chair and shouted the first question that hit him. “WHO?”

Danny sat back in surprise and Nicholas realized that this road of inquiry was probably not appropriate to these particular circumstances.

“Never mind, it’s not my business. I guess I mean…how? The proof, I mean!” He was stuttering, trying to straighten out his words to match his thoughts.

“Doesn’t matter. Some bloke off Derby Lane, I met walkin’ the beat. It never really was him, though. It was always you, I guess; and Nan saw that and I didn’t and she just ripped us apart with her jealousy. Every time you called she’d threaten to leave and why do you think I never visited you before? She always said I’d come here and never go back…as if I’d leave Irene, ever…but she didn’ believe me and she was just mad with jealousy…well, she had her brother watch me, with his camera, right? One night.”

“Sweet Jesus, Danny…”

“Nothin’ serious, just some cuddlin’ we did, but…s’nough, yeah? So she’s got proof, Nicholas. And she can take Irene if she wants to, and there won’t be nothin’ I can do about it.”

They sat in silence for a long time before Nicholas got up to move away what was left of their breakfast, and then sat down again. Danny looked at him critically.

“So are you one, then, after all? A bender?” Danny asked it so sincerely that Nicholas could not laugh, although he wanted too.

“Sometimes. To be honest, Danny, I’ve been, er, active since I moved back. Nothing serious, but…I don’t sleep alone all the time.”

“With blokes?”

“Sometimes, Danny. I was like that before I ever moved to Sandford, though; it has nothing to do with you kissing me late one night when we were drunk.”

Danny snickered, a small sound that lifted the mood just a bit. “It does for me. I guess I could really lay this at your feet, Nicholas. I don’t think I would ever kiss a bloke, until I tried you.”

“Don’t you dare!” Nicholas laughed, just a little alarmed by the idea.

“Naww…” Danny laughed too, at very long last. “But that’s it, Nicholas. That’s why she threatened me with Irene, because she already told me she wanted a divorce, so she couldn’ use that anymore. Because I am a bender, and she knows it…and she hates you.” Saying that, Danny finally composed himself. He folded his hands on the table and looked at Nicholas, relief and worry still written on his face, but something of the old Danny Butterman shining through in his eyes as if a the truth telling between them lifted a huge burden from his soul.

“Hates me, does she? And I never laid a hand on you. Seems unfair.” Nicholas teased.

“Well, Nick…”

“Oh no, you kissed me. Not the other way around.”

“You didn’ exactly fight me off, as I now know you remember.”

Nicholas just smiled, enjoying the banter as it lightened the mood. “You want some more tea?”

“Not really. Could use a lager.”

They both laughed and Nicholas poured tea for them. “Danny, I know it isn’t my place, but I care for Irene too. I don’t want her separated from you; it would kill you, and that would kill me, not to mention that it would be wrong. You need legal representation. Please let me help you.”

“Nicholas, it would only prove to Nan what she thought all along.”

“Danny, let me be clear about this: I do not give a FUCK what Nancy Reaper thinks.” He said it even more fiercely than he meant to, and quickly drank half his tea, burning his tongue.

“I guess I don’t either, Nicholas, since you put it that way.” Danny raised his cup in a salute. He set it down and then reached across the table, grabbing Nicholas’ hand. Nicholas was lightly squeezing Danny’s fingers, trying to be supportive, when he felt the tug. Danny’s grip was too tight and he did not lighten up as he physically dragged Nicholas out of his chair.

“Danny…”

Danny pulled him into a tight, fierce hug, then brought one hand up around his neck to grab the back of Nicholas’ head. He pulled him down into a kiss that was every bit as marvelous as Nicholas ever remembered or dreamed of, and they did not make it out of the kitchen for a very long time.

SEVEN YEARS LATER

There were a few visits back to Sandford, usually when Irene graduated a class or had an important football game. Sherri Goldstein turned out to be a magnificent homebody and Nicholas and Amy Fielding took very long jogs together in the morning to work off the dinner and dessert and drinks from the night prior, before being forced into a large country breakfast later. It was always difficult for Danny to visit, to see the life his daughter had without him, but he handled it well enough at least when she was around. Often, Sherri arranged for him to chop wood or clean the gutters or generally work up a sweat in hard labor whenever he became mopey. Nicholas approved.

Irene was a large girl but grew up under Nicholas’ sharp eye and became lean and strong, rather than soft and round. He taught her how to kick a ball and they sometimes sat together alone in the yard after his drills and talked about her father or her mother or school or, eventually and to Nicholas’ horror, boys (which was about the time he began teaching her self-defense). She even visited London twice a year, which Nicholas called his ‘divorce week’ because he rarely saw Danny at all except as he shuttled Irene about visiting places.

Inspector Fielding finally retired, much to the Andes great relief. Before she sent in her paperwork, she held a private discussion with the Chief Inspector at the Met and while no regulations were directly broken, Nicholas walked into work one day to be told by Inspector Francis Diamond that he was being transferred to Sandford, Gloucester. Indefinitely. And would he be so good as to let Sergeant Butterman know of his transfer as well?

Danny nearly broke down at the news and spent three hours on the phone telling his entire family and anyone he might distantly call a relation that he was coming home. When he called Irene, he could not even speak so Nicholas sat on the phone as intermediary and after hearing her complain about placing second in the last track meet, he explained to her that her father was finally moving back to Sandford. She was silent for a few moments.

“Nick, does that mean you too?” She asked quietly.

“Yes, yes it does. I’m being installed as the head of the department in Sandford…my old position, as your father might have told you at some point.

“Good, ‘cause dad would not be happy here without you.”

Nicholas sat on the phone, speechless. It was true, of course, but he never expected her to quite get that. Certainly not at ten years old. He was reminded yet again that somehow, she managed to take after him more than either of her natural parents.

“Well, I…would not be happy if he were there without me, Irene.” Nicholas said it rather stiffly, not used to discussing these things with anyone but Danny, who was staring at him now as if he just dropped his trousers in the middle of Waterloo Station.

“You know mum doesn’t approve.”

“Many people don’t, Irene. It’s not like when you stay with us here in London. It’s something you will have to deal with a lot when we get there.”

“Oh they say stuff all the time already. Don’t think that’s gonna change.” She said it in a frankly sincere tone of voice.

“It might get worse.”

“Whatever. People are just jealous ‘cause both my dads’ are such rockin’ awesome policeman officers, that’s all.”

Nicholas handed the phone back to Danny, unable to speak, one hand over his mouth as he tried not to cry.

####
 
 
Current Mood: creative
 
 
 
the girl in the pj's!: hot fuzz | policemen | officersanesthezea on October 30th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
*dead*

there went the rest of my overly-wollopped heart! you killed it! :)

“Whatever. People are just jealous ‘cause both my dads’ are such rockin’ awesome policeman officers, that’s all.”

love it!
mikes_grrl on October 31st, 2007 10:25 am (UTC)
Yeah! Glad you love it! Thanks!
lacking in glitter: subtexttawg on October 31st, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
So many high-pitched noises being made... Yes, this was very, very chick-flick-esque.

I really liked how you handed the kitchen scene - with Nicholas giving away more than he intended to, and Danny... I think you wrote him very well in that scene, the stops and starts, and the body language.

Irene is possibly one of the few OC children who I haven't hated with a passion, and I really clicked with Inspector Fielding and Sherri. And Sergeant Francis Diamond... the name made me smirk, and the character made me smirk harder.
mikes_grrl on October 31st, 2007 10:24 am (UTC)
I think Irene works because she is filtered through Nicholas, mostly. She doesn't even appear until the very end, and has maybe five lines of dialogue. I did that on purpose; I am not familiar with children or how they act or talk so I knew that to put too much of her into the story would wreck it. Hey, I know my limitations!

Fielding is pretty cool, I like her too; she started out as just a name but became important and that was neat to write. I'm glad you got the Francis Diamond/sgt. deskjob character! I wanted to include him somehow.

Thanks for reading!
blood_theoryblood_theory on October 31st, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
both my dads
That just made me squee with delight.
Ahh, so cute! ^_^
mikes_grrl on October 31st, 2007 10:24 am (UTC)
Yeah I was going for the hardcore cute! LOL!

Glad you like!
zombie survivalist: lovebeccavox on November 4th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
okay...it went from angst to so freakin' sweet that I cried (and I don't cry at chick flicks...hell, I don't watch 'em). Anyway, I was yelling at both Nicholas during the kitchen scene, "See what happens when you lie...just like the last fic! Don't you learn anything, you tightly wound policeman officer!" And I like yelling stuff like that at stories.

By the way, if I haven't mentioned it before, you rock. And I'm really glad I didn't read this at work. I don't have Kleenex in my office.
mikes_grrl on November 5th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
Wow I've gone back and read some of your comments and no, I insist, YOU rock. Thanks for the glowing praise! I especially needed after the To Move Mountains chapter, which was NOT easy writing.

Glad to help with your primal yelling therapy, there. LOL! Yes this was so damn romantic-angsty-sweet that even I got teary eyed at the end. WTF? heh.

Thanks for your comments. Means a lot!
verob2002verob2002 on February 18th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Beautiful, wonderful, and left wanting more! Best story of yours to date!
verob2002verob2002 on February 22nd, 2008 07:44 am (UTC)
love this story, I can't stop reading it over and over again...sequel, pleeeeassee :)