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04 July 2007 @ 11:29 pm
Fic: Side With the Seeds (Nick/Danny) (4/7)  
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 a bit more caught up on the comments. Please, if I haven't responded to you, know that I really, really, really appreciate that you took the time to post.
Previous Entry: Chapter 3.

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



Chapter 4

Nicholas didn’t really sleep. He looked at the television without watching it, and listened to Danny’s even breathing. His breath was warm on Nicholas’ cheek, and it smelled a little bitter, and a little bit like the fish and chips. It was difficult to keep his eyes open. Danny’s breathing, his heart beat, his soft warmth, was almost lulling, hypnotic.

“In the garden…”

Nicholas blinked, but he didn’t jerk away from Danny. His eyes were still closed, and if he was just talking in his sleep, he didn’t want to wake him.

“What’s in the garden?” Nicholas tried softly.

“Time…”

Thyme?

“Yeah,” Nicholas agreed.

“What?” Danny asked, straightening.

“Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”

Danny wiped his hand over his face. “Oh, I thought you did.”

“No. How you feeling?”

“Groggy. Did I miss the whole movie?”

“Most of it, yeah. But you needed some rest. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Danny rubbed the back of his head. “I don’t think you did. I had a dream about something.”

“About what?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. Nothing important, I guess.”

“Are you hungry?”

Danny patted his stomach absently. “No, I think I’m still full from dinner.”

“I could put in the other movie, if you want.”

“Nah, that’s all right. I should probably go on home.”

“No.”

“No?”

Nicholas shook his head. “No. I’m going to keep an eye on you. I don’t want you to get sick.”

“Look, I’ll eat before I take my pills, and I’ll be sure to get some sleep and…”

Nicholas didn’t want to let him continue. He had hoped to put this matter to bed once and for all by making it a matter of Danny’s health. But clearly, things would have to be addressed. “Why don’t you want to stay here, Danny?”

“It’s not that.”

Nicholas believed him. “Then what is it?”

And now Danny looked as miserable as he did before Nicholas fed him and put him in front of the television. “It’s just been really hard.”

It’ll just take some time. “I know, Danny.”

“There’s that new chocolate ice cream at the shop. You know the one with all those brownie bits and nuts?”

Nicholas didn’t, but he nodded.

“And I think my dad would really like that, because he always loved brownies, you know?”

Nicholas swallowed and nodded again.

“And last week, I forgot, and I bought him a pint. I was almost out the door before I remembered, and then I didn’t want to eat it, so I just left it right there at the shop. I don’t like the pills because they make me forget things. That’s why I haven’t been taking them.”

“Oh, Danny…” Nicholas sighed. “Why haven’t you said anything?”

“You’re busy, aren’t you? Putting Sandford back together again. Somebody’s got to do it, and that’s more important.”

“No. No, it’s not. Danny, it’s not more important than you. Nothing…nothing here is.” He touched Danny’s cheek with the tips of his fingers. “I’m sorry. I should have made that more clear. Do you know why I came back? I’d like to say it was because it was the right thing to do. Somebody had to do it. But really, I came back for you.”

There was a beat, like Danny was trying to work out his meaning. And then the clouds in his eyes cleared. His face, always so open, immediately broke into a familiar, shy, pleased smile. If he were a puppy, his entire body would be shaking. Nicholas couldn’t help but return his smile, though his face a little too tight, and the muscles in his throat were sore.

“Really?”

“Yeah, really.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been the most important thing to anybody before.”

Nicholas hated to hear that, but he knew he couldn’t protest, or tell Danny that wasn’t true. If somebody had just put Danny first, just once in his life, maybe they wouldn’t be stuck in the impossible situation of burying most of the village. Maybe his reverend, and his doctor, and his father wouldn’t have calmly turned guns on him if he had ever been put first.

“Well, you are now. And if that means I have to call London and request more support here, I will. First thing in the morning.”

“You shouldn’t do that.”

“And why not?”

“Because people here trust you.”

“Then we’ll work something else out.” They had shifted on the couch during the course of the discussion, and now they were facing each other. Nicholas leaned forward, letting his head touch Danny’s. “Now, I’m going to ask you again.” He offered a wan smile. “Will you please stay here tonight?”

Danny nodded.

“Good.” Nicholas stood and reached for Danny’s hand, pulling him to his feet. “You are going to get a decent night sleep. I’m insisting.”

“You are?”

“I am.”

Danny allowed himself to be pulled into Nicholas’ small bedroom. Most of his limited space was devoted to a bed and a dresser. He had a south facing window, and the room was both cheery and drab. He hadn’t taken the time to decorate it, or put anything in it beyond the essentials. It wasn’t personalized at all.

Except for a Japanese Peace Lily. It wasn’t the same lily he brought with him to Sandford. That one had been left on the floor of the castle suite in the Swan for far too long. He never even got the chance to go around and collect it. He could only guess it had been thrown out, brown, dead, out of its soil for too long.

The new one was nice. It didn’t feel like his yet, though.

Danny stood in the middle of the room, looking at the bed like he had never seen one before, and he didn’t know what to do with the object before him now.

“Go on, then. Get ready for bed.”

“Bed?”

“I guess you could sleep fully clothed, but that’s probably not very comfortable, is it?”

Danny looked slightly confused, but he didn’t offer any more protest. He stripped down to his undershirt and boxers, and Nicholas gestured to the bed. Once Danny settled beneath the single blanket, Nicholas discarded his own clothes, except for his boxers, and pulled the blinds shut, blocking the early evening light. It took only a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the new darkness, and he saw Danny watching him from the bed.

“I haven’t really been sleeping either.”

“What keeps you up?”

“Everything. Scoot over a little.”

Danny did, turning on his side near the edge of the mattress. Nicholas settled behind him, his chest pressed against Danny’s back, his arm draped over Danny’s side, his forehead touching Danny’s shoulder. Danny was tense at first, but gradually relaxed, moving closer, like he couldn’t stand to allow even an inch of space between them.

“Did I ever tell you about the time Father Christmas stabbed me?”

“You never gave me the details, no.”

Nicholas began reciting the story softly, providing all the details. Like before, he knew Danny was trying to hold on, trying to stay awake for the whole thing, but his biological impulses couldn’t be defeated. But this time when Danny fell asleep, Nicholas allowed himself to follow, his heavy eyes falling shut before the sun sank before the edge of the horizon.

#

Nicholas tapped his pen against the desk absently, his gazed fixed out the window, though he wasn’t really seeing anything. He had been stuck in that pose for at least fifteen minutes, but maybe more. He kept thinking he should get back to work, but just thinking it wasn’t enough to prompt him into action.

If asked, he’d say he didn’t know what was wrong with him. He had never had this problem before in his life. It was one thing to be unable to switch off, but now he couldn’t seem to switch on. He wasn’t tired. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he had slept so well. For so long. A little over ten hours of sleep uninterrupted. He wasn’t hungry.

But he was distracted.

Nicholas’ alarm had gone off at five that morning, and he had reacted quickly, rolling over to shut it off before it could wake up Danny. It hadn’t been difficult to get out of bed. Or to go out for his morning jog. But when he returned to the cottage, Danny was sleeping on his back, the sheet tangled around his legs, and Nicholas was drawn to the bed. He had watched Danny sleep for several silent minutes, and Danny never stirred.

Was he awake now? Likely. It was late. Nearly lunch time. On the other hand, if Danny had been suffering insomnia for the past several weeks, his body might need more than a single night to catch up on its sleep debt.

Nicholas licked his lips. His mouth had been dry all morning, like he was in a perpetual state of anticipation. He was expecting something, but he didn’t know what. It would be reasonable to think it had something to do with Danny, but Nicholas wasn’t sure about that.

Maybe he would go home at lunch. Check on Danny. The morning was probably going to be a complete bust, but there was still hope for the afternoon. Maybe he would be less distracted if he knew Danny was okay.

Clicking his pen, Nicholas leaned over his desk once again and forced his mind back to the task at hand. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the page, and another few seconds to realize what he expected to see and what he actually saw were two very different things. He had expected to see more paperwork from the coroner’s office.

But it was a police report. From Liverpool. And it wasn’t just the missing persons report he had requested.

Nicholas narrowed his eyes, his lips moving slightly as he read. He jotted notes on his pad, pulling in the important details from the reports. When he was finished, he re-read what he wrote with a growing sense of horror.

On July 7, 2000, police were called to Richard and Charlotte Lenmark’s residence, after several noise complaints that sounded like a domestic disturbance. The responding officers investigated and found Charlotte Lenmark alone in her home. She said she was alone, and her family was on holiday in the country. Neighbors called the police again on July 30, 2000, complaining of an unpleasant smell. The same officers responded, but nobody was home. The matter was dropped, until Charlotte Lenmark, calling herself Charlotte Peoples, filed a missing persons report on August 15, 2000.

He flipped through the notebook. She claimed her family had been visiting Sandford in June of 2000. The details Danny could remember of her nephew supported that claim. Nearly ten weeks separated their supposed holiday from the filing of the missing persons report. Why would she wait so long if she truly did not know where her family was?

“Jesus Christ,” Nicholas said under his breath. There wasn’t much there, but his gut told him he wouldn’t be finding any of Charlotte’s late family in the castle.

Nicholas reached for the phone, hesitated, sat back in his seat. For a split second, he had been tempted to boot this back to the Liverpool authorities. It technically wasn’t his problem, and it wasn’t his jurisdiction, and didn’t he have enough on his plate without adding a murder investigation to the load?

But, for whatever reason, she had come to him. She had sought him out. She had brought this mess to him, depositing at his feet like a cat offering a dead rat as some sort of gift. Why she didn’t wasn’t as important as the fact that she had. So what was he going to do about it?

Question her, first.

Then see where things went from there.

#

Charlotte seemed surprised to see him, but not disappointed. In fact, when she opened the door to let him in, she was positively beaming. She had either forgotten her earlier annoyance with him, or she was doing a damned good job of pretending that Nicholas Angel was the only man on the planet she wanted to spend time with.

“Inspector Angel, please come in. I was just thinking about coming around the station this afternoon.”
“Well, then, I guess I saved you a trip.”

“Would you like something to drink? Coffee? Tea? Or maybe we could go down and get some lunch?”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“Well, please, have a seat.” She gestured at the single chair in the small room. Even though he politely sat, she continued to hover around him. But he didn’t think she was nervous. Finally, she sat on the foot of the bed, her knees pressed together, her hands resting on her lap. Her skirt rode up her thighs a bit, revealing more skin than necessary. Nicholas pointed ignored it, his gaze focused on her face. “What can I help you with today?”

“I wanted to make sure you were doing okay. I know the waiting game can be a frustrating one.”

“It is a little trying,” Charlotte said with a small smile. “I do miss my home a bit. But I don’t want to go back until I’m sure.”

“Of course. I do have one question if you don’t mind me asking. Why did you change your name?”

Charlotte blinked. “I fail to see what that has to do with my family, Inspector.”

“I’m curious. Have you remarried?”

She laughed. “Oh no, nothing like that. After my husband and I became estranged, I went back to my maiden name.”

“But Peoples is your mother’s maiden name, is it not?”

Her face froze for a moment. “Well, yes. I just wanted a new start, you know?”

“Oh?” Nicholas consciously relaxed his features and leaned forward slightly. “Why is that?”

She waved her fingers dismissively. “You know how it is. I’d been with Richard since I was fifteen. For nearly everybody, I was just….an appendage or something. When we finally separated, I wanted people to see me.”

“Sounds like you had a bit of a difficult time.”

Charlotte looked away, her eyes distant. “Yeah, you know, everybody loved Richard. He was always the smartest, and the best looking, and the most successful. Even my own family…” Her voice faded, and when she looked at Nicholas again, he wasn’t sure she was actually seeing him. “The night I left him, my mother actually drove me back to the house so we could patch things up. Like there was anything left to patch up.”

Nicholas nodded. “How long were you two separated before he disappeared?”

Normally, he would expect somebody to be able to answer this question immediately. But she paused, obviously doing the math. When she answered him, she sounded unsure, like she was asking rather than telling.

“Three months.”

“And he was still going on holiday with your family?”

Charlotte laughed bitterly. “Of course. Richard was the son they never had. And sometimes I thought they were more worried about keeping him around than they worried about my feelings. Do you have any idea what it’s like, Inspector Angel, to know your own family has such fucked up priorities?”

“No,” Nicholas answered honestly.

“I didn’t realize they were missing immediately,” Charlotte admitted. “Because I wasn’t on speaking terms with them. And I wasn’t taking my mother’s maiden name. My grandmother was always there for me. Her name was Charlotte Peoples.”

Nicholas believed her, to some extent. He believed she had been put in a difficult situation. He believed her parents turned their backs on her when she needed them most. He believed she probably wasn’t on speaking terms with them. But he also believed she was on holiday with them. And he believed she was not alone in her home on July 7, 2000.

“I see. It is a nice name.”

“I’m sorry, Inspector, I didn’t mean to go on and on like this. I’m sure you didn’t come here to get my whole life story.”

“No, please don’t apologize. Have you been living alone for the past seven years?”

“Yes. It’s better that way. Besides, there’s nobody waiting for me to come home, so I can stay here as long as necessary.”

“That might be a long time,” Nicholas warned. “This is slow, slow work.”

Charlotte shook her head. “I don’t mind. It is rather nice here in Sandford, isn’t it?”

“I like it here.”

“I had my problems with them, Inspector, but I never thought they deserved to die.”

“I know.” And maybe he believed that, too. He stood. “I’m sorry, I have an appointment. I just wanted to look in on you. Is there anything you need? Anything else I can do?”

“Just help me put this behind me. That’s all I really need.”

Nicholas nodded. He understood.
 
 
 
Hippie Geek Girl: SP - gratuitously cute triogypsyjr on July 5th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
I haven't commented on this yet, because I can't really think of anything constructive to say, but I'm really enjoying reading it.
kassrachel on July 5th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
This continues to be awesome. I love the pace at which it's unfolding -- and you write Danny and Nicholas beautifully. I can't wait for the next chapter!
Skitz_phenom: Fregg - Kissageskitz_phenom on July 5th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
This part made me go 'Awwwww' through practically the whole reading. (Well, except perhaps the bits about Charlotte - because I rather don't like her...). It's just so fantastically written and the emotion is so raw.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been the most important thing to anybody before.” That line made me tear up. Seriously... Poor Danny. And Nick's thoughts after that are so poignant.

I just love how the relationship between Nick and Danny is unfolding.

Danny was tense at first, but gradually relaxed, moving closer, like he couldn’t stand to allow even an inch of space between them. I love that last bit and the idea of them spooning. It's very sweet, but also very comforting which is obviously what Danny needs.

I'm definitely VERY interested in what Charlotte is up too. (I could definitely speculate about the convenience that Sandford's 'trouble' offers to someone with some secrets to hide). You're building up the anxiety and curiosity surrounding her really well.

Tomorrow can't come soon enough!