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04 July 2007 @ 03:44 am
Fic: Side With the Seeds (Nick/Danny) (3/7)  
Title: Side With the Seeds
Rating: R, to be on the safe side
Summary: Set about a month or two after the NWA's reign of terror, Nicholas Angel plants bodies and buries seeds. Nick/Danny
Notes: I'm still behind on my comments for the first chapter of this story, and my icons. So for now, I'm going to give a blanket Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and I'll get caught tomorrow, hopefully!
Previous Chapter: Chapter 2

Crossposted to pepperlandgirl4, fregg_love, sandfordpolice

Embracing the situation
Is our only chance to be free
I’ll side with you
If you side with me
--"Side With the Seeds" Wilco
You can download the song here, if interested.

Chapter 3

It’ll take some time to grow.

That’s what Nicholas had said to Danny after they spent an afternoon planting seeds.

It would take some time to sprout through the soil.

It would take some time to develop.

It would take some time to blossom.

They just needed some patience.

Nicholas and Danny stood side by side, staring at the tiny hint of green in the cleared earth. After weeks of tending to the garden, of weeding, and watering, there was finally something to show for it. A single, perfect sprout.

“It’s so small,” Danny said softly.

“Yeah. But it’s got a good start. By this time next week, the ground will be covered. And look,” he pointed to a thin, spidery vine hugging the wall of his cottage, “I didn’t notice that before.”

“That’s not a weed, is it?”

“No, it’s not.”

Nicholas slid his gaze sideways to study Danny’s face. He looked normal, if a little pale. Nicholas had been waiting for Danny to say something about his doctor’s appointment earlier that day, but Danny hadn’t volunteered any information, though he had been willing enough to answer Nicholas’ direct questions.

“How are you feeling?” Nicholas asked.

“Fine, like I told you.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you today.”

“It’s fine. You had to work.”

“It’s not fine. I told you I’d go with you,” Nicholas said, his voice sharper than he intended.

“Nicholas, it’s fine. It was just a standard check-up, right?”

“Right, I know. But this…” Nicholas stopped. He was going to say, this is how it always happens. Jeanine’s dad’s funeral hadn’t been his first missed date. It had been the cumulative affect of missing appointments, birthdays, and dates over months and years. He didn’t want to do that to Danny. He didn’t want to start down that road.

“But you’ve got some strange woman running around town. I’d rather you be figuring out what’s going on with her than sitting in hospital, waiting for me. What did you learn, by the way?”

“If she lied about her name to trick us, that’s all she did. She was easy enough to track using her parents’ information. She just gave us her mother’s maiden name.”

“That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?”

“It might be.”

“She likes you, you know.”

Nicholas snorted. “No, she doesn’t.”

“Yes, she does. I saw her.”

“What you saw was a woman trying to work some sort of angle. She’s probably accustomed to using her considerable talents against men.”

“But her considerable talents didn’t work on you?”

“No,” Nicholas said. “They did not.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not interested,” Nicholas said, moving up the walk to the front door. Danny followed him into the dark, cool cottage, the door clicking shut behind him. Nicholas braced himself for another round of questions, but Danny walked over to Nicholas’ growing movie collection to study it.

“Haven’t you gotten anything new?”

“I’ve ordered some. I’m expecting a few in the post this week.”

“Oh. If she wasn’t a liar, would you be interested?”

“No,” Nicholas answered honestly.

“You’re not lonely?”

“Not at all. I have you here, don’t I?”

“It’s not the same, is it?”

“Isn’t it?”

Nicholas realized what he said the second Danny’s brows furrowed. And there wasn’t any way to call it back. Danny could easily counter that it was different. It was very, very different. For one thing, Nicholas had never touched Danny the way he would touch an attractive woman. But that was just a technicality. It wasn’t like he hadn’t thought about it. Once or twice.

The look they exchanged seemed to last for five, maybe ten minutes. Nicholas was more than happy to take his cues from Danny. If he insisted it wasn’t the same at all, that’s where he’d leave it. Danny meant too much to Nicholas to push it, to make him uncomfortable, to go in a direction he didn’t like.

“I was going to go home early tonight. I’m a bit tired from the appointment.”

Nicholas nodded, but he didn’t let it go like he promised himself he would. “I’d like you to stay here tonight, Danny.”

“You don’t have any new movies to watch.”

“I don’t really want you to stay for a movie.”

“Nah, I’ve got to get going. But I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

Nicholas’ lips thinned, but he nodded. “Yeah, I’m expecting the coroner’s office to call tomorrow.”

“The doctor said he can clear me to come back to work in a few weeks.”

“That’s good. Though you practically spend all your free time at the station anyway.”

“Nothing else going on, is there?”

“Do you want a lift?”

“No. The doctor said I should get a bit more exercise.”

Nicholas nodded. “Right.”

It was a bit strange for Nicholas to watch Danny leave, as though he didn’t spend pretty much all his time with him. But Nicholas let him go without further protest. He had paperwork to do in preparation for the new coroner’s report anyway.
#

It’ll take some time to get back to normal.

That’s what Nicholas told himself when Danny didn’t come to the station at all the next morning.

It would take some time to get back to the center.

It would take some time to find a balance.

It would take some time to put it behind them.

Nicholas had time, these days.

The last group of remains that went to the coroner had been a mess of bones. Three men, one woman. All four had been identified. The names were unfamiliar to Nicholas, but that didn’t matter. At least they had names. That meant families needed to be contacted. And then his part of the job would technically be over, as their kin made all the necessary decisions and plans. He’d find out what they were one way or the other, though often the families were kind enough to contact him.

It wasn’t a secret that he personally attended every service, of course.

Every time the door opened, he looked up, hoping to see Danny’s familiar smile. He didn’t understand why Danny was finally staying home, like Nicholas had been insisting he should for the past month. Why listen to him now?

It would take some time, but Nicholas didn’t feel like waiting. He was tired of waiting. His patience was exhausted, but he had a duty, a moral obligation, to keep his cool, to keep plugging away, to keep things rolling. Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to pretend things could be normal again, because everybody was all out of sorts, and nobody could take this mantle if he dropped it.

But he never thought he’d be waiting on Danny.

“Your new friend has checked out of the hotel and moved into the Swan,” Fisher said from the doorway.

“What?”

“Charlotte Peoples.”

“Lenmark.”

“What?”

“Her name is Charlotte Lenmark.”

“Oh. Well, she’s moved to the Swan now. Do you still want me to keep an eye on her?”

“Please.”

Putting Tony on the case of watching Charlotte had seemed like a good idea at the time. It gave the man something to do, made him feel like he was a part of keeping things going. Plus, Nicholas was very curious about what the woman was up to. He only hoped she didn’t yet realize Tony was shadowing her, but given Tony’s style, she probably did.

“Have you heard from Sergeant Butterman today?” Nicholas asked, the only outward sign of what was consuming his thoughts.

“No. Guess the doctor told him to take it easy.”

“I guess so.”

Nicholas never left work early during the week, but he was tempted to do so now. Maybe tend to his garden, or the plots he was taking care of in the cemetery. He was a bit obsessive about the weeding, he knew, but he was also self-aware enough to realize why. Plants required more patience than anything else in his life, but he would see a return on his investment. Something would blossom eventually. He didn’t have that guarantee anywhere else.

But he couldn’t. Because he still had work to do.

Nicholas took the phonebook out of his bottom drawer and flipped through the pages until he found the P’s. There was only one E. Poundstone listed. He dialed the number and listened to the tone of the ringing phone.

“Hello? Am I speaking to Emily Poundstone?”

“Yes.”

“Ms. Poundstone, this is Inspector Nicholas Angel with the Sandford….”

“Oh my god.”

He paused at her outburst. It wasn’t unusual. Everybody always knew why he was calling.

“Ms. Poundstone, I’m calling to inform you that Robert…”

“They killed him, didn’t they?”

“Robert Poundstone’s remains were found in the castle.”

“Oh my god. Oh my god. They told me…he’s been gone for so many years.” The floodgates opened then, and Nicholas listened patiently. He easily recognized this mingled sound of relief and grief. “Mary Porter told me he left a note…” Her voice caught. “I thought he was living in London all these years. I thought he abandoned his child. I’ve…I’ve hated him…I’ve hated him so much these past years.”

She may have had the breath to talk, but as soon as she said the last word, her sobbing resumed. His face remained passive throughout the outpouring, so if anybody came to his office, they would never know how much these calls broke his heart. It wasn’t that he never delivered this sort of news before. It was just relentless. There wasn’t an end in sight.

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“I suppose you just keep doing what you have been doing,” Nicholas said, oddly unprepared for her question.

“No, I mean, what am I supposed to do about the body.”

“Oh. Right. I’ll give you the number for the coroner’s office, and they’ll release the remains to you so you can hold a funeral.”

“I’ve never planned a funeral before, Inspector.”

“Reverend Adams will be more than happy to help you with anything you need. And Mrs. Poundstone, accept my consolations for your loss.”

“Thank you, Inspector.”

The line went dead in his ear.

Nicholas replaced the receiver slowly. That didn’t get easier. It wouldn’t, he knew. He began flipping through the phone book, looking for the K’s. If he finished all his calls, he could leave early, like he wanted. Maybe swing by Danny’s place and see if he needed anything from the shop.

Nicholas had his finger above the key pad, poised to dial the next number, when a knock at his door stopped him.

“Mind if I come in?”

Nicholas couldn’t stop his smile of relief erupting. “Of course not, Danny. How are you feeling?”
“Like rubbish.”

Nicholas’ smile instantly turned into a frown. “Are you ill? You shouldn’t have come down here if you weren’t feeling well.”

Danny waved his hand. “No, it’s nothing like that.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, Nicholas.”

“Oh. Than what’s the problem?”

“I shouldn’t have left last night.”

Nicholas shrugged, trying to be nonchalant. “It’s all right. You said you had to rest.”

“Hey, look, do you want to stick around here?”

I have work to do. His automatic answer sprang to his lips, but he pushed it back. The truth was, he didn’t want to stick around, and even if he had a whole fucking mountain of forms to deal with, Danny was more important. Whatever Danny had to say was more important.

“Can you give me a few minutes to finish up here?”

Danny nodded. “I’ll just be waiting outside then.”

Nicholas decided to ask Doris to make the other three calls. He wanted to see to as many of them as possible, but Doris at least had a personal connection to these people. Even Tony could probably handle it. There was no reason Nicholas had to be the one to call them, and he didn’t want to keep Danny waiting.

Once everything was taken care of, delegated, filed, and otherwise dealt with for the afternoon, he slipped quietly out the side door. He thought Danny would be waiting there instead of out front, and he was right.

“I didn’t really think you’d agree to knock off early.”

“You asked me to, didn’t you?” Nicholas buried his hands in his jacket pockets. “Are you up for a stroll or do you want to drive?”

“A stroll is fine.”

They walked in silence for a moment before Danny said. “I hear they think they’re about done with the castle.”

“Yeah. Unless they find a new room or something.”

“When do you think we’ll be moving into the new station?”

“Soon,” Nicholas said neutrally, keeping his gaze fixed at his feet instead of looking over to study Danny’s face. “The interior isn’t quite done yet. You know, since they’re doing a bit of updating, it’s taking a bit longer.”

“I don’t really like the castle.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

More silence. Nicholas didn’t mind so much. Silence with Danny was different from the silence that pressed on him when he was alone. Maybe that’s what made Danny so special to him. He changed the silence.

“Nicholas? What were you thinking last night? I mean, when you asked me to stay?”

He took a deep breath. “I was thinking I’d like you to stay with me, Danny.”

“Just for the night?”

“No, in general.”

Danny didn’t respond immediately, and Nicholas wasn’t sure he would reply at all. Maybe he’d ignore it, like he seemed to ignore Nicholas’ request the night before. When he did speak, he sounded different. Not like himself at all.

“I’m so tired, Nicholas.”

Nicholas frowned. “Have you been sleeping?”

Danny shook his head miserably.

Nicholas had been attributing Danny’s drawn and pale look to pain, but now he realized it could just as easily be a result of exhaustion. Nicholas hadn’t been sleeping well himself, but usually he could at least get a few hours a night. Enough to keep him going, if not enough to feel rested.

“Because of your stomach?”

Danny shook his head again. “It’s like when my mum died. You know suicide is a mortal sin.”

“I didn’t know you were religious.”

“I worry a bit about…where she is. And what’s going to happen to my dad.”

Nicholas swallowed hard. He could tell Danny exactly what was going to happen to his dad. He could tell Danny what sort of treatment Frank Butterman could expect in prison. He could tell Danny the reports he had already received from his friends who worked as guards in the prison. But that’s not what Danny really needed—or wanted—to hear.

“And it keeps you up at night?”

“Some nights. Other nights I think about them.” He gestured towards the castle. “I don’t know how you go to all the services.”

“It’s my duty.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Have you been eating?”

Danny’s shrug was all the answer Nicholas needed.

“Come on then.”

“Where we’re going?”

“We’re going to get some fish and chips, and whatever else you want. Aren’t you supposed to eat when you take your pills?”

“Yeah, you know.”

“Danny, you’re going to make yourself sick. Do you know that?”

“I don’t feel sick.”

Nicholas didn’t think that was true. Nicholas thought Danny was so accustomed to being ill, to feeling pain, that he didn’t notice it anymore. It was his normal state. And that was entirely unacceptable.

And, Nicholas felt, it was entirely his fault. He should have been looking after Danny. He should have been going with him to his appointments. He should have known that Danny wasn’t sleeping. And he had no excuses for his neglect.

“But you probably feel hungry. After we eat, we’ll go around to the shop.”

Nicholas touched Danny’s arm, gently redirecting him towards the car. A pleasant stroll was the last thing either of them needed now.

#

Despite’s Danny protestation that he wasn’t hungry, he tucked away two servings of the fish and chips while Nicholas merely picked at his own meal. He even licked his fingers with a familiar enthusiasm that Nicholas hadn’t seen in…well, a very long time. When he pushed the greasy bag away, he flashed Nicholas a genuine smile.

“I guess I was a bit peckish.”

“I guess so.” Nicholas stood and began gathering the bags and napkins and Danny’s ketchup packets. “Now, do you have your pills on you?”

“In my jacket.” Danny moved to stand, but Nicholas pushed him back to the couch gently. “I can get them.”

“Just stay put. I’ve got them.” He pulled the bottle out of Danny’s pocket and shook two in his hand. “Do you need water?”

“I’m good.”

Nicholas pulled two DVD cases out of the shelf. “Die Hard or Kill Bill Vol I?”

“Both?”

“Of course. Which one do you want to watch first?”

“Die Hard.”

Nicholas smiled and popped the movie into his recently acquired DVD player. The corner of Danny’s mouth lifted, his eyes alight with anticipation. As soon as the movie started, Nicholas settled on the couch beside Danny, as close as he could. Danny looked down at where their legs touched, but otherwise didn’t react.

Nicholas kept one eye on Danny, his heart twisting a little as his smile widened. He was losing himself in the world of John McClane, and that was fine with Nicholas. He knew his plan would work, if only because is had worked so many times in the past. And he wasn’t seeking a permanent solution to this problem. He just needed to buy a little time. Just a few hours for now.

Despite Danny’s excitement, his eyes began to droop. Nicholas caught him nodding off a few times, but he always caught himself at the last second, like he didn’t want to let himself go. Nicholas didn’t say anything. He simply watched until Danny’s chin touched his chest, and he didn’t start awake again.

Gently, Nicholas touched Danny’s cheek and guided his head towards his own shoulder. Danny sighed softly, but didn’t wake up. He turned his body, as if seeking Nicholas’ heat, and his face went slack with sleep.

 
 
 
Señorita Major English, Esquire: partners ftwmajorenglishesq on July 4th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
so this is the part where i melt down and whimper: "oh, BOYS!" how i love them. how i love Nicholas for catching what he's doing to himself, cutting himself off before he makes Danny the next Janine by missing things like that. how he's beating himself up though he knows he doesn't have to, simply that he *should.* how Danny is maybe getting that sneaking, nagging, omfg get off my back i know i haven't been to church in goddamn *eons* kind of feeling.

oh, and Nick's care with him (oh, BOYS!) and the Die Hard Lullaby! OH BOYS. i'm melting. and "in general" - OMG, BOYS! how you let me love them!
kassrachel on July 4th, 2007 12:48 pm (UTC)
This is brilliant. I love the way the gardening metaphor is woven through everything -- of course Nicholas would garden, given the chance. And I love the way Nicholas realizes what Danny means to him -- and oh, Nicholas attending all the funerals --!
Klokkrazysteralizetheemo on July 4th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
I melted in pure wibbleness. *hearts* This is the purest sort of adorableness..heeeeeee. <3333
dj_intheuk: Angel Heartdj_intheuk on July 4th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
Peas & Rice! This is great stuff.

It wasn’t a secret that he personally attended every service, of course.

I love that, very in character, and something super-hero guilt about it because he feels he could have stopped it. Aww.

Danny and Nick's conversation about Danny's parents - brilliant.
La Femme Crayola: Epcot Food and Wine Festivalannlarimer on July 5th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
*makes Japanese schoolgirl noises*
Skitz_phenom: Fregg - Sexy Loveskitz_phenom on July 5th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Gosh I love coming back to comment - gives me an 'excuse' (not that I need one) to reread!

First - thank you for sharing the song! Idiot me just noticed now, so I'll be sure to come back for it later (cannot download from work).

I love how this bit starts!

A single, perfect sprout.

“It’s so small,” Danny said softly.

“Yeah. But it’s got a good start..."
*Melts* So much love! Says so much with so little.

“Right, I know. But this…” Nicholas stopped. He was going to say, this is how it always happens. Ugh - this broke my heart a little bit. The idea of Nicholas struggling with his inherent nature in order to be a better person for Danny is so touching.

I love Danny interrogating Nick about Charlotte... poor guy thinks he's gonna get off easy, but then his big ol' mouth has to give it all away.

Nicholas never left work early during the week, but he was tempted to do so now. So endearing that he does end up doing just that... just for Danny.

Plants required more patience than anything else in his life, but he would see a return on his investment. Something would blossom eventually. He didn’t have that guarantee anywhere else. Oh, such a brilliant insight into Nick's motivation. Especially later when he's beating himself up about not taking enough care of Danny.

Nicholas kept one eye on Danny, his heart twisting a little as his smile widened. Awwww... my heart twists a bit at reading that.

Sorry this was little more than quoting your own story back at you *sheepish grin* - I'm just enjoying the overall feel of this story so much, and its progression and emotion, that it's hard to do more than cement the specific parts that really get to me. It's just so fantastic!
Pandonkey: HF blue skypandonkey on July 6th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
Wonderful chapter.

“Right, I know. But this…” Nicholas stopped. He was going to say, this is how it always happens.

Oh, Nicholas.