A/N: So thanks for staying with me! Hope you enjoyed this story and this final chapter is a good enough ending to it…
I still don't own them.
It was fairly late into the evening and the noises from the streets had long died out. Sandford wasn't a place with a rich night life anyway. Danny kept sitting on his sofa, in front of the TV set that hadn't been turned on for ages. He was pondering on watching a movie but dismissed it quite soon. He was afraid that it would turn out to be the same movie they had watched with Nicholas the night before everything had gone upside down. Why didn't he remember what movie it was so that he could avoid it for the rest of his life?
His phone rang for about the third time that evening but he ignored it. He was too wrapped up in his trance-like state to actually acknowledge the sound.
It had been several months. Danny had been back at work for about four weeks now. He had hoped it would help him get back to normal faster but he was so wrong. He did the usual work, patrolling the streets and watching the roads. But it only made him feel more alone. He remembered all those days he had spent patrolling the same streets with Nicholas, discussing movies they had watched previously or telling each other stories from their lives. And now it was all just silence. Of course, he wasn't completely alone, as usually Doris and once even Bob Walker accompanied him. They had tried to start conversations but Danny didn't feel like it. Almost every day after work he just rushed back home and spent the rest of the evening staring at the black empty television screen. He barely even slept at nights, too scared of what he saw when he did pass out on that same sofa.
"Danny," the voice was soft and quiet, almost a whisper, but it made the sergeant jump, making his stomach twist inside of him. He didn't need to look up. He knew the voice, he would never forget it or confuse it with someone else's. He also didn't want to look up. He was afraid of what he might see if he did. Every time he merely imagined the face he couldn't help but see it deadly pale and covered in bruises and blood. So much blood… He still had this feeling of his best friend's lifeless body in his arms, could still taste the metallic saltiness of his blood on his own lips…
Right now he was just scared that he got trapped in another one of his nightmares. He saw them way too often nowadays. It was a bit like when his mother had killed herself. She would come to visit him at nights, and at first it had felt so great. As if Mum was back, as if that terrific driving off the cliff thing had never happened. But then she would suddenly start turning into the corpse he had seen right after the incident, and the imagery would just get worse until he woke up.
Danny tried to say something, to stay reasonable. Like "What are you doing here?" or "Why are you here?" He knew it was the same thing but he genuinely couldn't decide which option to choose. And so he sat in silence, refusing to look up.
"Do you think it was my fault?" Nicholas' voice was still soft and quiet. It would feel soothing if Danny hadn't been so scared.
"No," the sergeant replied, staring down at the floor. He took a deep breath and finally looked up. There he was. Nicholas didn't have any blood on him right now. He merely was so pale and thin that for a second Danny could swear he was almost see-through.
"What are you doing here?" he finally asked, swallowing a lump in his throat.
"I can leave if you want," Nicholas sounded hurt now. Danny shook his head. He didn't know what he wanted anymore.
"Danny…" the younger man felt the cushions on the sofa move next to him, as the voice got closer. "Are you alright?"
Danny had no idea how to respond to that. He raised his head up and found himself looking into a pair of big blue eyes looking at him with the usual scanning intensity. He quickly turned away.
"Danny, I've been worried about you," Nicholas went on. "You are not answering any calls, you seem to be avoiding everybody…" he paused. "I understand why you might avoid me after what you've been through, but please don't lock yourself up here".
Danny got shaken by the last sentence. He never wanted Nicholas to think he blamed him. He wanted to say it but what came out was something else.
"I don't think it was your fault," Danny could feel his eyes water up. "It wasn't your fault, Nicholas".
"Then what is it?" Nicholas inquired. There was no answer, and he placed his hands on his friend's shoulders, sending shivers down the younger man's spine. "Danny, look at me," the sergeant obeyed and sniffed loudly, looking him in the eyes.
"I just," Danny suppressed a sob. "I can't forget that day. Every time I fall asleep or just close my eyes… I just keep seeing that cellar and those goons and blood and… and you…" he probably said something else but it couldn't be heard anymore through the intensifying sobs. He felt two arms wrapping around him and leaned forward to return the hug, clinging to his friend with all of his might. He could feel Nicholas' heartbeat against his own chest and it was so beautifully constant. He could sense how real and warm he felt.
"How did you get in?" he suddenly asked, trying to keep his hold onto reality, as he suddenly remembered how sleepy he was.
"The front door was open," Nicholas replied matter-of-factly. "And remind me to talk to you about it someday," for a split second Danny sensed there was a shadow of a smile in his friend's tone but he couldn't be sure. He let out a noise that was both a sob and a soft chuckle.
Nicholas didn't say anything and just held him tightly. And Danny wasn't going to let go any time soon. All those months of first being at hospital due to his own concussion and then having to sit with Nicholas, hoping and praying that he would make it and trying to erase those images from his mind, and then being unable to look at his friend's face after his release were now running past his eyes, somehow causing them to well up even more as he tightened his grip around Nicholas. He suddenly felt so calm and safe. Something he had never felt in the past weeks.
They had sat like that for a very long time. Danny didn't notice when tears stopped escaping his eyes and his eyelids got heavy, as he fell asleep, his head resting on Nicholas' shoulder which was almost completely healed now. He didn't see any nightmares, or anything he could remember at all, for that matter. He just felt calm and warm. And everything was going to be just fine.