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Mind Over Matter

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Nicholas saved the peace lily. He went back afterwards and retrieved it from the floor, bought another pot and replanted it. It drooped for a few days, no denying that, but it was tough like Nicholas. At least, that's what Nicholas imagined Danny would say.

He had plenty of time to tend it back into good health. He took it to the hospital and sat it on the table, next to the window. Nicholas was at the hospital for as many hours as he could fit in around his duties, both before and after his working day, until the hospital staff grew quite used to seeing him about the place. The nurses grew quite fond of him, in actual fact, and would bring him a cup of tea when the trolley came round. Nicholas even got used to drinking them in the end. The team were all busy at the temporary police station (a considerable amount of paperwork) and sometimes Nicholas brought that with him too. Working on the table, next to the peace lily, in the light of the big picture window.

Sometimes Nicholas talked, because he'd been told that familiar voices sometimes helped, but it didn't come naturally. Often Nicholas resorted to reading the police regulations out loud instead, because he found it soothing and also it couldn't do Danny's education any harm. Maybe he'd absorb some of the detail in his dreams, come out of the coma a more informed officer.

Mainly, Nicholas just wanted Danny to come out of the coma.

He'd been conscious when they'd brought him in the ambulance, but slipped away before too long. The doctors all said that it was a good thing that he'd been conscious, that there was a great deal of hope in the case. Nicholas frowned and nodded and then quietly went away and hit something - a tree with a stick, the bullseye on the rifle range. He carefully didn't punch anything - the cut knuckles would have been difficult to explain, and he somehow knew that Danny wouldn't like it if he hurt himself. This wasn't firing into the air in an excess of emotion, this was messy and real, and Nicholas didn't know what to do. He hated feeling helpless but in the circumstances there was no other way to feel.

So he watered his peace lily and he drank his tea and he did his paperwork and he talked to Danny - and he held it together.

He was polishing the leaves of the peace lily when Danny first opened his eyes. Of course, Nicholas didn't know that, to start with. He had his back to the bed. So the first thing that Danny saw was Nicholas' silhouette in the sunset through the picture window. Danny could be forgiven for being disorientated - he'd just woken up from a coma, after all. He was both sad and happy, all at once, as it meant that Nicholas must be in the afterlife along with Danny - but it did mean he'd see his Mum again. Danny did think that his Mum would like Nicholas.

Which is why the first word Danny said after he regained consciousness was "Mum."

Nicholas didn't care about that, of course, he was just so relieved that Danny was awake again. He didn't know how to cope (emotionally speaking) so he fell back onto old habits, treating the event as though it was a situation. That meant calling the doctors and nurses, phoning the station to put in a report - everything in fact that meant he didn't have to think about the implications or talk to Danny himself.

Danny didn't mind. Partly because it was a really quick way to realise he wasn't in the afterlife at all (being poked and prodded by doctors does that) but also because he knew what Nicholas was like.

So it was an hour later (at least) before it was just Nicholas and Danny in the room.

"You saved my life," said Nicholas, because he wasn't very good at small talk, and Danny's selfless action had been weighing on him.

Danny nodded, as best he could. "Yep."

"You shouldn't have done that, Danny," said Nicholas, helplessly.

"You would have done the same for me," said Danny, simply.

"But..."

"Then you have to let me save you too. That's what being partners means." He stopped then, because even for someone as chatty as Danny, he had just woken up from a coma.

(Secretly, Danny thought that was so cool. A coma. Like Moonpie in Rollerball. Only he got to live, which was a bonus.)

So then Nicholas took Danny's hand and squeezed it tight because that was as close as he could get to a manly hug, what with Danny lying down and all the tubes and things. And Danny squeezed it back, marvelling at the physical affection, which he didn't get from anyone anymore - unless shoulder punches counted. (Except his Dad hugged him sometimes, but he couldn't think about that now. Not now, not after all his Dad had done.)

So then Danny, full of emotion, pushed the little rubber button and the top half of the bed began to slide up. It made him dizzy and Nicholas was protesting but it was worth it so he could see Nicholas properly, in all his round-faced frowning glory. Now that made Danny feel like he was alive again, it truly did.

"Move in with me," he said, impulsively, feeling like he could do anything in that moment, even ask Nicholas something as important as that.

"Oh, but..."

"I've got a spare room and your cottage still isn't ready and I'll finally put all those boxes away, because you won't let me leave them out, and we can have breakfast and you'll make me eat healthily, I bet, and despite that I still want you to move in with me," he said in a rush, before Nicholas said no.

But Nicholas was smiling. "It won't be as far to stagger home after movie night, will it? So it increases our efficiency. Danny, are you sure?"

Danny looked down at their clasped hands and then up to Nicholas' shining face. He'd never been more sure of anything in his life.

"It means you'll get to keep an eye on me while I'm getting better," said Danny, "Don't think I don't know why you're saying yes."

And then, to his pleasure, and giving him a warm wriggly feeling in the belly (the part not shot, that is) Danny got to see Nicholas Angel laugh.

"Now you can get me a cornetto", said Danny, in satisfaction, "They sell them in the little shop."