Fandom: Hot Fuzz
Word Count: 1,730 words.
Notes: Slowly working towards Nicholas/Danny slash. Title from the song by David Ford.
Summary: Friendship is a whole new uncharted territory that Nicholas has to navigate through carefully, and he takes it slowly, because he doesn't want to ruin it.
Nicholas has been surrounded by people his entire life. His family. His schoolmates. His work colleagues. His various girlfriends across the years. He has sat in groups, listening to conversation, occasionally contributing, watching interactions and understandings. But he's never had a friend. Someone he'd choose to invite round his house simply to be with them, simply for them to be with him. He's rarely spoken about aspirations and dreams, nor even interests with girlfriends. Normally, they've been people he associates with from work and that's taken up most of the discussion until they move into the more physical side of the relationship.
And he's never realised, because he's not usually prone to introspection or navel gazing, but Nicholas has felt lonely his entire life. Not just alone, which is a state of being and can quite easily be spent perfectly content and happy with all that's around you. But lonely, which is a pervading sense of continuous disconnection.
Friendship is a whole new uncharted territory that Nicholas has to navigate through carefully, and he takes it slowly, because he doesn't want to ruin it. He's always afraid he's too enthusiastic, or not enthusiastic enough. That he's either aloof or clingy. And it's stupid, he knows it is, because these are not the average concerns of a thirty-something cop with a flawless track record when it comes to catching criminals and the 100m sprint.
Andy and Andy are investigating. Just what they're investigating is a mystery to most of the Sandford police service, but they've been collecting documents and, according to Tony, talking to each other in code all morning, so it must be something important. One of the Turners is sleeping noisily in one of the cells and the other is playing Noughts and Crosses at the front desk. Doris is laughing as she chats on the phone, Bob is yawning, looking at his watch, and Tony's bashing his hand against the side of the 1992 Macintosh Performa that sits on his desk. It's just another day at the station.
Nicholas and Danny have just returned from the beat, wherein an extensive discourse on the best flavoured cornetto has been undertaken. It continues as they go through to the locker room.
"I'm telling you again, Danny, it's choc mint," Nicholas says, undoing his top button.
"No way, it's vanilla all the way. You can't beat the classics. That's like saying you prefer Vin Diesel to Chuck Norris."
"Well maybe I do."
Danny looks wounded, mortally wounded. "You've not never seen someone of Chuck Norris' calibre in something like The Pacifier. If you sealed Chuck Norris in a box with hydrocyanic acid, the question would not be whether or not he's alive or dead at the same time, it'd be how quick can you fucking run out of there before he gets out and murderizes you to death. That's just how great Chuck Norris is."
"... what have you been reading lately?" Nicholas asks, spraying deodorant and slipping on a t-shirt.
"Not reading. Watching the Discovery Channel. They've been having quantum physics week."
Nicholas doesn't respond to that. He wants to tell Danny that he loves how he can use noble pursuits like self-education to win arguments with Chuck Norris/Schrödinger's cat comparisons, or that the only Vin Diesel films he's ever seen are the ones he's seen with Danny, or that he doesn't really care either way because he's only bickering for bickering's sake --- he doesn't know any other way to communicate.
Instead, he says, "you're coming to the pub, aren't you?"
Danny nods and Nicholas leans against his locker as he watches Danny get ready, wondering if it's too intimate to brush the lint off his shoulder. Danny has hugged him in excess of seventeen times since they first met, but Nicholas still feels strange being the first one to initiate contact, as if it's a sacred ritual that must be conducted under strict regulations and he hasn't had enough practice to get it just right.
It's not like he's never been touched, because he has, plenty of times before. He's been stabbed, which is a lot like touching, only with metal and blood involved. But he still sits awkwardly next to Danny, occasionally glancing his way, registering the heat radiating out from his body and the steady rhythm of his breathing.
He has a closeness with Danny he's never had with anyone else, and sometimes feels will never have with anyone else ever again. Because when he's with Danny, he's not actually lonely. Confused, yes. Unsure, always. But lonely? Never.
It's partly that realisation that holds him back. He's always afraid he's going to say it. That at any given moment he'll blurt it all out in a dramatic monologue. All my life, I've been miserable, until I met you, Danny. You are everything to me. He's not prone to melodrama, and he's not especially good at expressing his emotions. And he half suspects his feelings for Danny run deeper than liking him, but he doesn't really know, because he's never exactly liked anyone before, and not been much liked in return.
"You're quiet tonight," Danny says, hand digging into the popcorn bag nestled between their thighs.
Nicholas attempts to remain collected. "Of course I am, we're watching Forced Vengeance. I'm not stupid enough to inspire you to enact it, am I?"
"You've been quiet a lot lately."
"I'm a man of few words."
Danny turns slightly in his seat, staring, and Nicholas can't help but feel that he knows. But the next thing Danny says is nowhere near what he was predicting. "D'you regret staying here, is that it?"
"Not even a little."
Danny raises his eyebrows, but doesn't say anything further, and Nicholas starts to think that maybe his self-prescribed silence is a mistake after all.
"Danny, I don't regret much I've done in my life. I mostly regret the things I haven't done."
Like tell you how much you mean to me.
"Uh, well, you know, the little things. And the big things. Things."
"What, like, get a dog, or a wife, or a new car or something?"
Danny seems to contemplate this. He blinks a couple of times and looks back at the screen. Nicholas can sense there's something he's not saying, but he doesn't push at the boundaries, because he's afraid of what it might be.
Lying on his bed, staring up at his ceiling, Nicholas doesn't really attempt to sleep. With sleep come dreams, and his dreams of late have been pre-occupied with subjects that distract him during waking hours.
It should be so easy. That's what they tell you in fiction. No inward cringing. No paralysing fear. No uncertainty. The one person Nicholas could conceivably tell anything to is the one person he can't talk to and it hurts.
He rolls to his side and gazes as the hands on his alarm clock tick around, as he mentally constructs a schedule for the next day, with timetabled toilet breaks, and an allotted water cooler conversation session. It doesn't take him very long, but it does keep him occupied and manages to divert him from the constant condemnation of his ineptitude when it comes to social interaction and how to get along well with others. Or even just get along at all.
Operating the speed camera is a routine like any other, and one he quite enjoys, most of the time. It means he and Danny in the squad car together, which usually consists of word games, or movie trivia, or talking about their childhoods and the differences between Gloucestershire and London in the 70s and 80s.
Not today, though. Today it means pursing lips and wondering why Danny isn't saying anything. It means being afraid to say something himself.
"I wish you hadn't lied to me, Nick," Danny says eventually, and his voice is soft and serious --- more serious than Nicholas has ever heard it before.
"Lied? I haven't lied."
"Yeah, you have. You're bored. You're restless. You're a big city cop who needs action and there's none here, so you're slowly getting more and more angry at yourself for not running when London called. I can see it ripping into you like a shark on speed."
"It's not that, Danny."
Danny squints. "What is it, then?"
Nicholas takes a deep breath and forgets entirely about logging the speeds being reached. "Well, if you must know, it's you."
"Me? What've I done?"
"You've been yourself. You've welcomed me into your life and given me affection and treated me like you want to spend time with me, like you admire me. And I don't know what to do about that. I don't know what I can give you in return."
Danny laughs, the sound reverberating against the roof. "That's what's been worrying you? You're meant to be the smart one."
"No one ever said that," Nicholas snaps, frowning.
"Maybe not, but they think it. Clearly, they're cocked in the head." Danny places a hand on Nicholas' arm and it's comforting in ways that make Nicholas even less comfortable. "Your mind is always ticking and turning, but it doesn't have to be. What d'you give me in return? Everything. You wanna spend time with me, you don't treat me like the village idiot, you give me affection in your own, Nicholasish way. That's enough. But it's not a competition. It never has been. I don't lay awake at night worrying that you're not pulling your weight in our friendship or nothing."
Nicholas dips his head. "I do."
"Why do you care so much?"
"Because you're the only person I've ever really cared about in this way."
Nicholas exhales. "Yeah."
Danny adjusts in his seat, gazing at Nicholas' face intently. "So you're not planning on going anywhere?"
"It wasn't part of my future plans, no."
"I'm glad. That gives us plenty of time."
Nicholas doesn't quite understand the quickening of his pulse at Danny's smile, nor the tremor of anticipation that surges through him, but he does feel like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders, and he lifts the speed camera back up to continue work.
"Thank you, for being my friend."
"No worries. If you ever need me to be anything else, just ask."