"Would you like to say a few words?" Danny asked.
"I - I killed him, Danny," Nicholas said. "He trusted me, and I killed him. Without a second thought."
"Well now," Danny said, gently patting Nicholas on the back. "Bet you thought about it at least one second, eh? See what I did there?" Nicholas gave him a teary look. Danny coughed. "Sorry. But still, better him than you, right?"
"I didn't give him a choice. I just grabbed his pot and smashed it." Nicholas sniffled a bit.
Danny patted his pockets, looking for a handkerchief. He only found a package of chocolate cigarettes and some gum. "You were always very good at watering him. I remember that."
"He was my best friend," Nicholas said, and Danny hopefully waited for the disclaimer 'until I met you'. It didn't come. "My lone companion. Always waiting for me when I got home."
"Or she," Danny said, because saying 'so would I, if you gave me your key' just felt a tad inappropriate, given the circumstances. Besides, their shifts always ended the same time, so it wouldn't work, anyway.
Nicholas's expression was confused. "Beg pardon?"
"Could've been a lady Peace Lily, couldn't it?" Danny said. "I mean, it's a bit sexist, don't you think, to just go on assuming it was a guy." Nicholas's expression did not improve. Danny coughed. "And anyway, he's in a better place now. The great, big heavenly garden. Got a real angel watering him now."
"Are you implying my mother might have been unfaithful to my father?" Nicholas asked sharply.
Danny considered the question carefully. "I don't think so."
"Good," Nicholas said. "I think we're done here."
"You want a few moments alone?" Danny offered. "Only I could run to the shop. Get you a Cornetto. Take your mind off things, what?"
"No." Nicholas set his jaw. Danny wished he'd brought a camera or something. "Only in remembering our past mistakes can we hope to avoid repeating them in the future."
"Right you are." Danny looked around the field. He didn't know a lot about Japanese Peace Lilies, but he figured that as far as final resting places went, this one was a good deal more cheerful than, say, the cemetery. "Well then, back to work we go."
Danny's own Peace Lily was doing pretty well. He'd finally liberated it out of the evidence room, and he'd marked his calendar so that he'd remember watering it.
He'd thought long and hard about where to put it before narrowing it down to two locations: the living room, or the bedroom.
If Nicholas ever did come in for that cup of coffee, Danny figured the bedroom would be the better spot. He'd be able to bring it up, all casual-like, on the morning after, show what a good, responsible fellow he was. He could imagine Nicholas looking a little impressed and approving. That'd be nice.
On the other hand, putting it in the living room felt like maybe it'd improve his chances of Nicholas actually making it that far. Hard to have a morning-after without a night-before, so to speak.
"What's on your mind, partner?" Nicholas asked.
"You, actually," Danny said. "Naked. Well, not naked, just - "
"The man, not the uniform." Nicholas nodded. "We're partners. Friends. It's perfectly natural."
Danny took a while to digest that response. "You mean you think of me in the altogether, too, sometimes?" Nicholas frowned. Danny suppressed a faint sense of panic. "Look, a swan!"
Nicholas obligingly turned his head. "Where? Did we get a report?"
"It could be, you know. One of those pro-active things," Danny said. "Very twenty-first century, pro-active policing."
Nicholas stopped the car. "Could just be a wild swan."
"Yeah, no, you're probably right. Say, you got anything to do tonight?"
"Pub?" Nicholas suggested.
"It's like you're reading my mind."
"Look, look, you can still see where the bullet holes used to be." Danny pointed.
"Sorry, bad memories?" Danny put a friendly, comforting hand on Nicholas's shoulder. "Those were the days, eh? Well, day, more like."
Nicholas stared into his beer.
"Good fun!" Danny stared at his own empty glass. "You going to drink that?" Nicholas shoved the glass at him. "Cheers, mate."
"Is this about the plant again? The - whatsisname, the Peace Lily?"
"Yes," Nicholas said, grabbing his glass back just as Danny wanted to take a sip. "I'm rather afraid it is."
Danny considered. "Grieving's normal. You gonna take some time off? Buy a new one, maybe? Some cute, little guy, looking for a good home?"
Danny decided some serious measures might be called for here. Something a bit more than comforting words of wisdom and lots of beer. "Know what, I don't think you should be alone tonight."
Nicholas blinked at him. "What?"
"Yeah, so you should just, you know, come home. With me. And I'll make you feel better and then tomorrow morning, you're going to feel like shit all over again, but that's just going to be the hang-over."
"I'm sorry, I'm not following," said Nicholas.
"Breakfast in bed," Danny said. "Pancakes, strawberries, eggs'n'sausage - the works."
Nicholas put down his empty glass and got up. "All right."
Danny stared at his own and suddenly wished it was still full. He felt like he needed it. "All right."
"I'm a cad," Danny said, blinking at his alarm clock.
"Go back to sleep, Danny," Nicholas said. From the other side of the door. From the couch.
Danny went back to sleep. Then he realized he didn't actually have any strawberries. "I'm a cad," he whispered to his Peace Lily.
It obligingly failed to disagree.
"No, I mean, seriously, did you love your plant more than you love me?" Danny asked.
"That's not a valid question," Nicholas said. He was driving today, which meant Danny could spend a lot of time admiring his profile without being too obvious about it.
"I just feel like you've been pulling away from me lately."
"He means nothing to me," Nicholas said. "Not anymore. We broke up. Literally."
"We hardly talk anymore. And you're always home late."
Nicholas parked the car and turned his head. "What's this about, Danny?"
"He didn't save your life by jumping on someone's head and getting smashed to smithereens, now, did he? That was me," Danny said. "I'm a better friend to you than he's ever been. I wish you would see that."
"You got shot," Nicholas said. "You didn't get smashed to smithereens. And - look, I'm grateful. I greatly value our friendship, and I apologize if I've seemed ... distracted, lately. I've just had a lot on my mind."
"Like what?" Danny asked. "Come on, tell me. I mean, I tell you things, don't I? I tell you things all the time. We're partners."
"We're partners," Nicholas agreed. "Friends."
"While you were in the hospital, I considered going in there and shooting you again," Nicholas said. "I'm sorry. I'm not proud of it, but I feel you deserve to know the truth."
"Um," Danny said. "Like, shooting me to death? Or just, you know, shooting me a little, like a flesh wound or something?"
"Even during working hours, I often find myself thinking of you in a highly inappropriate manner."
Danny decided to drop the shooting thing and pursue this new line of inquiry. "Really?"
"I picture you eating a Cornetto with alarming regularity," Nicholas said. "Slowly. With tongue."
"Wow," said Danny. "Cool. Hey, want me to get one right now?"
Nicholas frowned. "When I say 'Cornetto', what I actually mean is - "
"Oh, right," Danny said. "Wow. Cool."
"I don't actually mean I would want you to eat it."
"No, no, I got it. Figure of speech. Like, 'eat lead, motherfuckers'."
Nicholas coughed. "I've lost my Peace Lily. I almost lost you, too. Both of you are irreplacable, but I can promise you that I have never wanted to put my Peace Lily anywhere near my bedroom."
Danny thought for a while, then said, "Let's go to your place, after work. Mine's a bit messy."