I’d come prepared to give Nightingale the appropriate amount of crap about ending up in hospital, but I arrived in time to catch the tail end of Dr Walid giving much the same speech I'd had planned, so I decided not to bother. Besides, he’d get it again from Molly when he got back home to the Folly - just in a slightly less verbal medium.
Even with clearing up the sadly dull administrative details of making an arrest which I couldn’t dump on Guleed or the rest of the Murder Team - which was of course most of them, since I wasn’t a DCI - I’d still made it to UCH in pretty good time, I thought. That's why I was surprised to see Nightingale already had some flowers next to his bed. I couldn’t think who they’d be from; most of the likeliest suspects were already in the room. They were a brightly-coloured bunch, yellow carnations and orange lilies and a few other things I couldn't name off-hand. I still mostly leave the botany to Nightingale, despite both his and Beverley's best efforts.
“Ah, you’re here,” said Walid, turning to me. “Try not to let him break any other bones before shift change, that’s a good lad.” He left before I could actually say hello.
“Who’re the flowers from?” I asked Nightingale, in place of serious conversation. He looked too pale for that, although at least he was conscious. Better than the last time he'd been in here.
“I’ve no idea,” he said, and shot them a very disapproving look.
“I’ll grant you they’re a bit gaudy, but it’s nice to know somebody cares, right?”
Although - were those foxgloves? Foxgloves are poisonous, I know that much. But the same drug’s good for heart conditions in small doses, so you can’t read too much into these things, can you.
“That’s not really the conveyed message, actually,” said Nightingale, still eyeing them dubiously. “Is there a card?”
I put down the grapes I’d brought on the bedside table and went to take a look. “Don’t tell me - this is how you say I hate you and hope you die in hospital with flowers.”
“Well,” said Nightingale. “More or less.”
There was a card; that was a surprise. I squinted at it and pulled the latex gloves I’d thrust in my jacket pocket once I left the crime scene out. I’m a copper, all right - I can’t help looking sideways at things, especially things that’re making my governor wear that sort of expression. Even if likely the only person who'd touched it was an innocent florist.
“Oh,” I said once I’d opened it. It was just “best wishes” and a name, but that was enough. “Lesley.”
“Hmmm,” said Nightingale. I wasn't even going to try to interpret that.
I hesitated before I started to strip the gloves off again. They were pretty, even if - even if. “Do you want me to -”
“Quite.” I turned back towards him. He’d already gotten into the grapes, so he couldn’t be feeling that bad, despite the IV. “I can’t even imagine how she got that together that quickly - foxgloves, and meadowsweet, it’s not the sort of thing you just walk into a florist and get.”
“And it’s nice to know somebody cares?” I stole a couple of grapes for myself; I'd missed lunch and it was well past teatime.
Nightingale laughed, a little hoarsely, but I felt some tension across my shoulders trickle away. It had been a bit of a long day.
“Well,” he said again, a smile tugging at his mouth. “More or less.”