Ólafur Arnalds feat. Arnor Dan
He wasn't fully aware of her up until the moment she approached him, a glass of whisky in one hand, a smug smile on her face. "DI Alec Hardy, I presume" she said with a velvet voice, sitting next to him on the counter and taking a sip of her drink. He glanced at her sideways.
The bar was full of cops and detectives. It was a celebration to the retirement of DSI Patrick Smith, the man who was Alec Hardy's mentor during his early years in the Met. Had it been anybody else celebrating any other shit and he wouldn't have come, but he owned Smith that much. The woman next to him was somewhat familiar, but Hardy had way too many glasses of whisky to remember or even care to remember who she was. She was definitely stunning. Slender, blonde, with an attitude to her that frightened and attracted most men. She wore a silk white blouse with just the right amount of buttons undone, and he had the feeling that she knew it.
She was absolutely fuckable. Hardy knew that much. Lucky for him that he also knew that he was shit at picking up woman. God knows how that went the one time he tried it back in Broadchurch...
"No, sorry" he said, grumpily, staring down at his own glass of whisky.
She seemed just a bit surprised. "Oh, but I saw pictures of you. Smith talks about you. You are Alec Hardy" she insisted.
"Oh, I am Alec Hardy alright" he mumbled in response, scratching his unshaved beard. "What I am not is a DI".
She bit her lower lip, holding back a smile. He wasn't her style at all, but he was cheeky. That was sexy, at least to her. "Right. I forgot. All that stuff up in Broadchurch".
He finally turned towards her, a bit fed up. He hated small talk. "Is this conversation leading anywhere at all?"
The blonde woman smiled at him, very pleased with herself. "Oh they said you were grumpy".
"Who said? What are you talking about?" he was really impatient, that's what he was.
"Your former colleagues from the Met" and she pointed in the general direction of Smith's closer friends, who happen to be other coppers that Hardy had worked with back in the day.
Hardy rolled his eyes, got up and put a fiver down in the counter. "That's it. If they think they're doing me some kind of fucking charity favour by asking you to come up to me..."
"Excuse me?" the blonde woman said, looking appalled and amused at the same time.
"You know what I mean" he didn't have time or patience for that. He swallowed the last of his drink in one swift motion.
"So a woman can't come on to a man without being labelled as a whore?" she asked in her smooth voice, matter-of-factly.
"I never said that" he retorted, impatiently.
"Yes, you did".
"Look" he took a deep breath and leaned in closer to her. "I didn't mean to offend you. Considering your attire and, you know..." he waved in her general direction, struggling with the compliment that wanted to crawl out of his throat. "... your class, you're definitely not a whore. You're probably... What? A DS? Willing to hook up? Had maybe too many of a drink and they convinced you I was a good option?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "So not only am I a whore, I am also a drunk, uncontrollable random copper who can't resist wanton?"
"Oh, that's brilliant. A fucking feminist" Hardy mumbled, rubbing his eyes. "Look, as I said, I don't have time for this".
He turned and started to leave. The blonde woman called out from behind him: "I'm Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, since you didn't ask".
He stopped in his tracks and closed his eyes, making a face. Stupid, he thought. "Good thing I'm not a copper anymore, then", he replied, still with his back turned to her.
"And are you happy with that?"
He turned around. "It's not like I have a choice".
She looked him in the eyes, a mixture of admiration and sadness in them. "You're dying, Mr. Hardy".
"Thanks for the reminder" he said, mockingly saluting her. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes, actually" she got up from her seat by the counter, took a sip of her whisky, and took three steps forward, getting face to face with him. The mayhem around them was completely unaware of them, and they were completely unaware of it. "I must say, your performance in Broadchurch was outstanding, despite all the trouble... And it's a shame that as a reward you were cut out of the force". Hardy looked away and rubbed his eyes. "You are one of a kind, Mr. Hardy, and god knows we need more bright detectives around here".
"Yeah, you lot lost a good one in Broadchurch as well".
"Are you referring to former DS Ellie Miller, I suppose?"
"You suppose right, ma'am".
"Please, don't call me that. It's Stella", she said, finally offering a hand.
He looked down at her stretched out hand, then up to the ceiling, sighed and let her name slide through his tongue: "Stella. Stella" he looked back at her. "I think I'll stick to DSI Gibson, but thank you" and he turned around, ready to leave.
"I read your file, you know" she said, giving a step forward, and make him turn once again, this time, rage was sparkling in his eyes.
"What's that supposed to mean, DSI Gibson?" he asked, giving a few steps in her direction once again and, this time, getting really close. He could smell the whisky in her breath from where he was standing. Whisky and something else... Something warm and fresh. Her perfume. Just a tinge of a citron smell.
"It means, Mr. Hardy" she said, in her velvet, yet professional voice. She wasn't at all intimidated by him. "That I don't believe you're comfortable with you current situation". He tried very hard not to dismiss her with a look and waited for her to finish. "I believe that, given the chance, you would be willing to work with the Met again".
"There's nothing here for me anymore" he mumbled, tiredly.
She ignored his last comment and produced a card from her purse. "Here are my contacts, if you feel like talking" DSI Gibson said, handing it to him.
He looked down at the card and back to DSI Gibson. "We could use some help once in a while, you know" she said lowly, despite the noise around them.
"Good luck with that" he replied, turning back and leaving the bar without a second glance. Stella Gibson just stood there, watching him go, ignoring the party going on around her. She took one last sip of her drink and sighed. That man would be a difficult one.
Her first impulse was to come on to him and politely ask for a one night stand. However, she had made the huge mistake of befriending DSI Patrick Smith a few weeks ago, and the man talked a lot about Alec. Then, she got curious, and she made the bigger mistake: she read his record, and she couldn't help but feel for him in several different levels. Stupid, she thought to herself. Just ruined a proper night.
Then she made up all that shit about wanting his help in some cases... But she knew he wouldn't call. She knew the minute she saw him, the kind of man he was. Those dark, sad, bitter eyes showed her what she needed to see to go along with what she had heard and read about him. Time and again, she would see those eyes looking back at her in the mirror.
Someone from across the bar shouted her name and she snapped out of it. Tonight was about saying proper goodbyes to Patrick, and she wasn't about to ruin it.
"Yes, I'm coming!" she screamed back, making her way through the crowd, only to be met by Patrick himself, who was large and round DSI.
"Where's Alec?" he asked, his cheeks pink with alcohol. "I thought he was with you!"
"I'm afraid he had to leave" replied Stella "but he asked me to give you his congratulations, and he hopes that you enjoy your retirement", she added.
"Nah! He didn't say that!" retorted Patrick Smith, laughing. "He just left, didn't he? And you're just covering for him!" Stella gave him a smile. "What did you do to scare him off like that?"
She just shrugged. "I'm not sure".
"Did you talk about Sandbrook?" asked Patrick, referring to Alec's failed case prior to Broadchurch.
"Not at all" answered Stella. "Tell me, Patrick. If given the chance, do you think he would come back to work?"
"That bloody man?" replied Patrick, smiling. "He'd jump at the opportunity!"
Stella sighed and said, in a very low voice: "Then why he doesn't?"
"Oh, you see..." Patrick was very talkative. All he needed was a few beers. "There's his daughter. And his heart condition".
"I thought he was working despite his heart condition in Broadchurch".
"That was different, Stella" murmured Patrick, suddenly looking very serious. "Just imagine... He had failed that Sandbrook family. And then Broadchurch happened. He wouldn't leave before finishing his job. Would you?" he asked, pointing at her.
"No" replied Stella without having to give it a second thought. "No, I wouldn't".
They were the same, thought Stella, while she turned around to get herself another glass of whisky. They were just the same, Alec Hardy and Stella Gibson; and she wasn't very sure that she liked this idea.