Stand Your GroundPROMPT:
In which Nicholas proves he still has a thing for CSI's. 23.Pop 24.Cliche 25.Memory
Police Sergeant Daniel Butterman, 29, born and raised in Sandford, Gloucestershire. Graduated King’s College in 2001 for criminology, with a minor in communications. Returned to Sandford immediately upon completion of academia and entered the police service, working under the tutelage of then-Constable Tony Fisher. Took several marksmanship and driving courses, earning honorable commendation for skill and performance behind the wheel.
He is currently in a prohibited relationship with PCI Nicholas Angel.
“Are you alright, Danny?” Nicholas asked tentatively, leaning against a patrol car parked outside the station, a plethora of emergency vehicles crowded into the tiny street, police officers from neighboring Buford Abby and Abbotonhill responding to the scene as crowd control.
A short distance away, Cassie was being loaded into an ambulance as Walker fought off the paramedics, insisting, “Idjwer jushraliddinan.” Andrew had been spirited out of Andy’s arms and off to Saint Peter’s Hospital the moment the first ambulance responded, without even waiting for a lock down of the perimeter. Turner was the second to go, despite his own resistance.
The paramedics had bothered the puss out of Andy, thinking his shirt meant he was injured, until the DC whipped the garment off, borrowing a jumper from Nicholas’s locker. The blood-soaked shirt was bundled protectively against his chest, and Nicholas suspected he’d have to give his poor shirt a good washing later.
Now, leaning against his squad car, Danny at his side, Tony and Andy sitting on the hood, Doris sitting shot-gun with the door open and Galen at her feet on the other side, the six remaining officers watched sullenly as foreign police did their job.
“Yeah, I s’pose,” Danny sighed, giving Nicholas a weak smile.
Nicholas smiled in return. There was something undeniably uplifting about Danny, and heaving an inward sigh of relief, he felt markedly guilty as the weight of his fear lifted. Without thinking, his fingers sought out Danny’s hand and intertwined with his shorter digits, the two of them holding hands desperately as they shared a meaningful moment. They were safe-
“Chief Inspector,” a sharply-dressed young woman with dark blonde hair accosted Nicholas, striding purposely across the carpark, her coat open and flapping in the breeze her brisk pace created. She flashed a badge in his face, something official, MI5, Terrorism, Clearance, capitalized words and excessive information there and gone before he could really catch it all. The name was Grace Kincaid.
He was losing it.
His hand leapt free of Danny’s, the two of them feigning innocence.
Behind Agent Kincaid, a shorter, somewhat rotund woman with long brown hair and a cheerful expression came jogging up, followed by a tall, lanky woman with jet black hair and olive skin, carrying an oversized tackle box or make-up kit; CSI gear.
“My name is Agent Grace Kincaid,” the blonde reaffirmed, pocketing her ID. “This is my partner, Detective Audrey DeLane,” she motioned toward the shorter brunette, who grinned and waved quickly, “And this is Jillian Monroe, CSI,” the raven-haired woman smiled and nodded weakly.
“Detective DeLane and I will be in charge of this investigation hence forward,” Kincaid informed coldly, looking from Nicholas to the rest of his crew, who had all slid off or come around the vehicle to cluster at Nicholas’s side. “Your cooperation will be appreciated.
“We will be assessing the scene and taking statements for the rest of the afternoon. I’d like it if all of you could please wait in the lobby until I call you in, and avoid wandering anywhere else inside; it is a crime scene, and I expect you all know how to behave yourselves at one.”
It was physically impossible for her tone to become any more condescending.
“Chief Inspector,” Kincaid continued, “Walk with me.”
She turned on her heel without waiting for a response, and flashing a quick, reassuring glance at the rest of the officers, who hit him with an array of exasperated and emploring looks, he jogged to catch up with the Agent.
“What say we head inside, eh?” DeLane said cheerfully. “I could do with a spot of tea, myself. And I think you all could, too.”
The air was tight in Nicholas’s office, a feeling he wasn’t used to. It seemed the Agent sitting in his seat, interrogating him as it were, had somehow sucked all the air onto her side of the room in order to choke a confession or something more sinister out of him.
“Mr. Angel,” she said calmly, “Please, continue.”
“I already told you everything that happened,” Nicholas sighed, “And you already know my family’s story, so there’s nothing more to say. I’d ask you on behalf of my team to expedite this, because we’re all anxious to see to the injured, if you catch my meaning, but…”
“Most people take me as heartless,” Kincaid picked up on his meaning exactly. She gave him a half-grin, leaning forward in her seat. “The trouble is, Nicholas, that there’s no reason for your cousins to come after you. You claim that they were looking for some sort of reunion, but the clandestine clues your uncle left you and the fact that some form of evidence is clearly missing from your lockbox indicates this isn’t merely some blood feud. They came after something, and whatever it was, I doubt they got it.”
“Because they stuck around,” Nicholas inferred.
“Precisely,” Kincaid nodded. “Their trademark is in-and-out, usually with a gratuitous amount of blood paving the way, but they don’t muck about for the local scenery. My hunch is, they’re probably still in town.”
“Lovely,” Nicholas sighed.
In the small lobby, Doris and Tony shared the bench, while Andy leaned against the cork board and Galen sat on the floor. DeLane had come and gone with tea, the empty cups and soggy teabags lined up on the front windowsill a testament to the length of time they’d been left sitting idly.
CSI came and went, carrying cameras and recording devices, evidence bags and one body bag.
They’d all recoiled when that last one came through. It was one thing to see a corpse, but there was an exceptionally creepy aspect to seeing a filled body bag.
The interior doors opened once again, this time allowing DeLane to enter, a welcome sight among a thousand other strange and unsettling ones. She gave them an encouraging smile before going to Andy’s side.
“You alright, then?” she asked, craning her neck back markedly to peer up at him.
“Your partner, Detective Wainwright, the hospital gave us a ring about him a few ticks back,” she continued, biting her tongue when Andy lunged at her.
“S’he alright?” he demanded, grabbing her shoulders a bit too fiercely. “Is he…he’s not…Is-”
“He went into surgery not long ago,” DeLane cut him off calmly. “He was stable, but there wasn’t much news besides.”
Andy stumbled back against the wall, sliding down to a sitting position, his knees bent at odd angles. Galen slid a bit closer, placing a reassuring hand on the detective’s shoulder, and across the room, Doris shifted closer to Tony on the bench.
“Would you like to speak with me about it? In private?” DeLane offered, giving him a smile straight out of a psychiatrist’s handbook. “Detective Wainwright’s attack seems to be effecting you more than the rest, Andy. I’m only here to help.”
“I’m a verified grief counselor,” Doris piped up. “Besides, we’re like a family here. We’ll take care of Andy, alright.”
“I’m sure that’s so, Miss Thatcher,” Audrey DeLane smiled winningly at her, “But this is partially my case, after all, and a one-on-one statement from me as to what Mr. Cartwright witnessed, as opposed to a he-said-through-you to Grace, will definitely get him out of the station and on his way to Buford Abby much more spiffingly. What d’you say, Andy?”
“…A’right,” was Andy’s curt reply, heaving himself to his feet. He staggered momentarily, but Audrey was there, offering him her shoulder, steadying him as they left the other three officers to fester.
“How’d it go?” Danny asked, leaping up from his chair to meet Nicholas as soon as his office door was closed.
Nicholas was weary, but he flashed Danny a weak grin. The station was a crime scene, and the two of them were to exit immediately, but they loitered for a bit amidst the familiar décor of the main office, comforted by the normalcy of this room when all the others, both upstairs and down, had become so chaotic and alien. Danny’s fingers found Nicholas’s again, and this time Nicholas didn’t think to pull away.
Let Agent Kincaid see. It didn’t matter what her badge said or who her father was. Nothing could change how he felt about Danny. Nothing could make it any less vital.
He didn’t mention to Danny any of the particulars of the interview. He’d given a succinct statement on what he’d done and seen, then filled in some blanks on his family history, his time at the Met, and discussed at length his theories on the NWA.
When Jillian Monroe came into the room, he felt a strange tightness in his chest that he couldn’t quite place. Scanning his memory rapidly in the few moments before she took the chair next to his, he realized it was the same feeling he’d experienced around Janine when they’d begun dating: Lust. More precisely, the need to pass on one’s genetics, but nevertheless a powerful motivator. It was confusing, watching her mouth move without really hearing the words, but he did his best to muddle through, avoiding his reptilian impulse to ask her out later.
He loved Danny. He loved Daniel Butterman
…was simply a gorgeous
...genetic replication mechanism. It wasn’t that he thought little of women; he respected them, befriended them, shared drinks and conversation with them, but when the idea of sex came up, it always seemed like a mating ritual, never a real intimate thing, just something that occurred during one’s lifetime.
But fuck-all if Jillian Monroe wasn’t throwing him for a loop.
The memory of it made him clutch Danny’s hand ever tighter as they exited the station, heading out the back and along a quiet street, the foot traffic concentrated around the front where the action had only just begun to die down in earnest.
“Nick?” Danny asked, giving him a concerned look. “You sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah, m’fine,” Nicholas replied softly, squeezing Danny’s hand reassuringly, the two of them abandoning the road for a wooded path that lead eventually into Nicholas’s backyard. His mind was miles away: What were they after? There was nothing of any substantial value amone his paltry possessions at the station, but they meant enough to him to leave them in a more secure location. Especially because he’d been doing so much moving about recently, he wanted to be sure things wouldn’t get misplaced.
His father had told him to be careful with the box when he’d given it to him. But why?
“Hello? Francis?” Nicholas called into the receiver, trying to hear over the heavy bass-line pounding on the other end of the line.
Danny was sitting on the couch in Nicholas’s living room, Nicholas pacing wearily from one corner of the small space to the other. They’d only just gotten in when Nicholas had nearly leapt out of his skin in glee, scaring the daylights out of Danny, as he shuffled through his old mail. There was a phone number in there he needed desperately, and he was vastly relieved to see he’d not been his usual twat-ish self (the Andes really had a point about that sometimes) and tossed it away.
“Franky, it’s Nick,” Nicholas tried again, the bassline volume dropping immediately.
” someone screamed into the other end so loud that Nicholas jerked the phone away from his ear and Danny clapped his hands as he bent over in laughter. “Nick, it’s been fecking AGES, man!
Where the fuck are you, anyway? My letters keep coming back from weird addresses…”
“Franky, I need you to try and remember something for me,” Nicholas said, Franky’s volume low enough to put the phone back to his head.
“Not until you tell me where you moved, bro,” Franky laughed. “Oi, Tadd, Nicky’s on the line! Come n’say hi!”
“Fuck no!” another voice called in the background, making Nicholas groan.
“Look, Franky, this isn’t a social call, alright?” Nicholas insisted.
“Well, you’re on fecking speaker now, mate,” Franky laughed, and the loud echo told him it was true. “Say hello to everyone!”
“Excuse me?” Nicholas asked, highly confused.
“NICKY!” a woman’s voice shrieked. “Why the hell
haven’t you called? We’ve been worried sick, dear, since that nice Sergeant over at the Met told us you’d been transferred, but I suppose he’s not a Sergeant anymore, is he…?”
“Hullo, mum,” Nicholas sighed.
Danny leapt to his feet.
“That’s your family?” Danny asked, leaning inquisitively toward Nicholas’s phone, trying to overhear the conversation.
“Someone’s with you?” Nicholas’s mother asked. “Sounds like a young man…Oh! New boyfriend, yeah?”
” Nicholas, Franky and Tadd all said together on both ends of the line.
“Cor, your family’s fun,” Danny laughed, shaking his head as he took a step back. “You should bring ‘em out here sometime, you know? Once all this has passed over, I mean…”
“Look, mum, I need you to tell me what was in the photo book dad gave me,” Nicholas cut in.
There was dead silence on the line.
“You gave it to him?” Franky murmured, the phone clicking off speaker and making a rattling sound as Franky handed the receiver to his mother.
“Your father did,” his mother replied quietly, holding the phone to her ear. “Nick, you need to get it somewhere safe, fast.”
“S’too late,” Nicholas sighed. “They’ve already come out here. Looked for it and all, I mean. The album’s still here, mum, but they were looking for something in it-”
“I know,” she cut him off this time. “Your sister was supposed to get it, but she left for France to find your uncle when I got sick, and I suppose your father…Well, he always was a bit petulant.”
” Nicholas repeated. “What d’you mean, was
, mum? He’s not…”
Nicholas sank to the floor, ignoring the couch and chair, bumping the coffee table and letting an empty glass tumble off it and shatter. Danny knelt beside him, remaining silent, but reaching out to rub Nicholas’s back. Nicholas leaned against Danny’s shoulder, rubbing fiercely at his face as tears began to form in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, dear,” his mother said softly, her words choked by tears. “It was…we haven’t been able to find
you…it was quick, at least.”
“Mother, Anselm’s dead,” Nicholas croaked. She gasped on the other end, taking the receiver away from her face to repeat the news to his brothers. There was a collective shout, and one of them pitched something across the room, making a tremendous crash at it hit something metallic. “And they’re still here-”
“Nicholas, where are you?” Franky shouted, grabbing the phone away from his mother. “Tell us NOW
, mate, or we’ll get Gavy to trace the call.”
“You leave her there,” Nicholas shouted, Danny nearly jumping out of his skin. “Franky, you are NOT
to bring out sister out here, understood?”
“Gavy, he’s where?” Tadd said in the background.
“Gloucestershire…Sandford. Fecking country
of all places,” a young woman’s voice replied in the distance. “Nicky, what the hell
are you doing there?”
“We’re coming to see you, Nicky,” Franky said curtly, and then the line went dead.
Nicholas let the phone fall to the floor, his body collapsing against Danny’s chest. Danny pulled him in close, wrapping his arms around Nicholas’s shoulders, kissing the top of his head.
“Danny,” Nicholas sighed, tipping his head back to catch Danny’s lips with his own. A weak sob shook his frame, making Danny clutch him tighter, rocking him gently. “Danny…my dad, he…”
Danny understood. Nicholas sighed, burrowing against Danny’s chest, tucking his head under Danny’s chin, before breaking down completely. His friends were hurt, in danger, scared, angry. Both sides of his family were suddenly thrust back into his life. The case had been usurped by the MI5. His uncle…his father
was dead. And now…
“It’ll be alright,” Danny murmured, rubbing Nicholas’s back. He wasn’t sure if that were true, but Nicholas needed to hear it. Danny felt like he needed to say it to make himself feel better as well… “It’ll be alright, Nick. We’ll be alright.”
Nicholas wanted to sleep downstairs that night, just to be safe, if anyone got odd ideas of breaking in. Just in case.