Naomi was lucky enough to have a warning that she was going to die sooner rather than later. Unlike countless others, she had a time frame. None of what was to come was going to be a surprise to her.
When Naomi finally died, she didn't have many requests. She had handled all of it. There were still a few that had gone to Little Guy.
The first wasn't surprising: Take care of Alyssa. This was left almost open ended for a reason-- If he felt as if he wasn't suited to take care of a child, he wouldn't be forced to. He just had to make sure she found a good home.
The second one carried less weight. 'Take care of my plant.' She didn't have the heart to uproot it simply because she was going to die, and it couldn't have been that much of a nuisance for someone else to assume taking care of.
At first, he was surprised by such a menial task.
Her office wasn't emptied out right away when she died. They should have started when she was hospitalized for the last time, but they always held hope. Afterwards no one had the courage to do it yet.
He remembered what she had asked of him. Just to take care of the plant.
The first time he went into her office after she passed, it... It was a shock. A lot to swallow.
The room was so much bigger now with no one in it. Her chair sat empty. It felt wrong to be in here, without her to greet him. It felt wrong to be in her office, her space without her. He waited for a few minutes, standing in the empty silence of her office. Everything was just as she left it. There was even a pen still sitting next go her keyboard, waiting for her to pluck it and put it back into its holder.
When the initial anxiety of waiting for Naomi to come in after him, barking to get out of her office faded away, the realization that she wasn't going to do that set in.
She wouldn't push the door open, carrying a coffee in one hand and a manilla folder in the other. The chair wouldn't be pushed out by a finely sculpted leg again, the keyboard wouldn't clack under her fingers. It was weird to be on this side of the screen. He gazed at himself in the reflection of the monitor.
So... surreal. To think that they wouldn't be bantering back and forth anymore. He felt like he never got a real goodbye from her...
He missed her, even down to her sassing him or telling him off. Little Guy had never been more productive in his life. His gaze swiped over the desk before he saw the green of the plant.
There was a pitcher next to the plant. Still half full of water, must have been so that she didn't have to run to the break room every day. He picked it up, imagining for a brief second it being her hand instead, before pouring water into the pot. This was her daily routine, her peace. He blinked as the dirt absorbed the water, leaving nothing but a dark patch.
The second time he went into her office, he found himself hating the silence.
Each time after that became slightly easier. He noticed things that brought him comfort. There was a note in one of her drawers in her handwriting, just a checklist from their last case.
Check in with Little Guy in about thirty. Alyssa will be out of school at 3.
She left notes like these occasionally-- Her memory failed her terribly right before she passed.
The scent of her perfume still lingered in the office as well. It wasn't that it was oversaturated, it just happened to cling onto the things she touched. Sometimes he would sit in the chair and let himself relax in it.
She did this on purpose, didn't she?
Naomi Kimishima was one of the smartest people he had ever met. Everything she did (usually) had some meaning.
He wanted to run away from her death. If she hadn't asked him to do this, he would have never set foot in her office again. He found himself grateful for her foresight. This made it easier. The plant took the water every day, flourishing in green leaves and soft white flowers.
Even if she passed on, she left something to thrive. She left something for him.
When it was finally time for a new hire to take the office... When someone could finally replace Naomi, it was easier to swallow. He had no idea of knowing how he would have felt had this plant not given him the strength to find peace in the light of her death, but... He liked to think that he was stomaching it better now.
The office needed to be gutted before they could move in. He had no idea who they were, what they were like, or even if he would be working alongside them. It stirred some anxiety within him, but he forced it down.
She made him strong enough to help clean the office. Her chair was gone, computer had to be wiped (that part stung a lot), and her trinkets had to go. The pens he could leave behind. He pocketed a picture frame of Naomi and Alyssa together at Resurgam for his office. More office supplies, generic at best, were left to get trashed.
Then came the plant.
He had gotten a new pot for it, something that matched his office a slight bit better. It was a lighter shade of blue, and he hoped that it would really bring out the deep green of the stems. The white flowers should tie it all together... He let the dirt dry just the slightest bit, going a day without water just to make it easier to uproot the plant for the new pot.
New soil, a new pot... This thing was going to get spoiled. He could even put some decorative rocks in it.
He hoped Naomi was pleased with it. He sure was. Maybe she was never attached to it in the first place, and just knew he needed an outlet to grieve healthily.
He pinched the very base of the plant between two fingers, lifting it upwards. It felt rougher than he expected. The dirt gave way and--
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me."
The stem came together in a bud at the bottom. There were no roots. It was then he felt the seam underneath his fingers: The plant that he had so lovingly cared for was fake.
No wonder it had stayed so lovely.
In the empty office, he laughed. He didn't know what was funnier-- That Naomi had set him up, or that he had fallen for it for so long. He snorted, electing to stuff it into his new pot regardless.
Wherever Naomi was, he could feel her laughing alongside him.