"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. "
Alesha wasn't lying when she said she'd grown up knowing what it is that drives people to hate authority. She's the authority and sometimes, sometimes she still does. Because you can wear all the right clothes and get a first from Oxford and ace your bar exams and yet, they still just see secretary at best.
Ronnie Brooks is a surprise and a half, but she'd liked him immediately. He'd gotten her a cup of tea and a biscuit, without a hint of being condescending. James, James was different all over again. He's not entirely a posh white boy (later, later she finds out he's a bull-headed idiot but he's her bull-headed idiot - hers and Matt's and the kids) and he's not entirely understanding but he tries and he learns and anyway, they work brilliantly together in a way that scares her at first because they are so very in sync and it's never what she expected when working with James Steel, who'd been a razor sharp rumpled QC.
She didn't expect him to have a sense of humour either; especially not a sense of humour about his own faults.
" There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. "
John Gregory Brown
He honestly thanks God in Heaven that none of them knew him before; when he was drinking. The Guv did, but the Guv is the one who gave him the second and third chance no one else did and Ronnie Brooks still wonders why, sometimes. But here he is - with his girls and his grandson and the grand-kids that are his grand-kids too, though not by blood.
Natalie Chandler and an AA pin save his life. Matty just helps it along the way. The guv had found him when he'd been demoted back to DC and was about to drink his life away. She'd dragged him outside and given him a right bollocking and a half and then told him she was there if he needed help, any time. For some reason he'd nodded, taken the card she'd offered and gone along and ever since, he's managed to not have a drink.
Matty reminds him why. Sunny, golden Matty who beguiles people by his innocent niceness and then swerves and reveals steel underneath the smile - he's like Alesha in that way, Ronnie thinks. It's to the good they found James as well, to balance the two of them out with someone blunter or everyone might have expired of the sweet teasing. Not that there isn't more than enough of that now, he swears.
He adores her, admires her and wants to give a hug like he gave his girls. When the trial comes he reads and listens and keeps on buying her a hot chocolate every morning and listens, when she wants to talk to him. Sometimes they just talk about books (she jokingly calls him 'Old Stoneface' and he cries, when he reads the Discworld books and understands Vimes) or TV or something ridiculous and sometimes she cries. Sometimes she'll talk about the rape. They keep it up, afterwards - he knows she goes to a support group and that some days are good and some days are terrible. It's a privilege to have her trust.
" It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers. "
She never expected him to be such a good listener either. Nor the best supplier of hot chocolate in the greater London area ("it's my great love of French cuisine, Lesha") but Ronnie is all of those things to her. He's the one who let her cry all over his coat and who asked her what he should do if she had a flashback. He's still the one she calls, sometimes, even now. He still buys her a hot chocolate all the time.
Ronnie Brooks, for all that he's a rumpled old school copper is very very gentle and a damn good listener. People don't expect it, looking at him but it's there, even in the worst of cases and the worst of times. Even when you'd least expect it, he's good at being. And when it's being Ronnie Brooks? That's bloody fantastic.
"An older sister is a friend and defender - a listener, conspirator, a counsellor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too. "
Jake Thorne had never thought he'd needed a big sister. Then Alesha Phillips came in to his life and despite being younger than him by well, by an amount that is slightly embarrassing for him to admit she appears to have become one for him. Complete with bossing him about and occasionally, teasing him as needed. She brings his ego down a peg which he admits is probably good for everyone (thank god James Steel has gone off to an NGO because the rows would have been epic and completely horrid) and somehow, she might actually be getting him to think before he speaks.
He knows he's not the most likeable person in the world - actually he's probably down near the bottom but somehow, Alesha sticks with him and laughs at the thought that he could ever seduce her. It hurts his ego for about half a minute before he starts to laugh because well, that's Alesha for you, dragging people in to decency and being honorary uncles. Somewhere, somehow his previous partners are having hysterical fits of laughter, he just knows it.
And somehow he cannot bring himself to give a damn. Not about the whispers that he's going soft or the way Alesha gets him to do bunny ears. It's too bloody fun to worry about the fact he's been bossed around by a dynamo in adorable berets and coats. Frankly it's more fun than bumbling along by his lonesome.