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keeping pace

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When the letter had arrived with his potential execution date, Hardy had set it aside, tried not to think about it. It was easy really, he’d been doing it long enough.

But it had loomed over everything, his secret Sandbrook schemes. A mental tick, sucking on his brain.

Now the day had arrived, his date with the death lottery just a few hours away. Hardy sits in court, endlessly thankful he’s not told Miller in a moment of weakness, thinks of all the concerned questions she’d have struck him with, all the fuss.

He tells himself it’s to protect her, save her from worrying, from coming to sit with him only to be told he died on the table.

But really Hardy just doesn’t know how to have the conversation. It had been hard enough telling Tess and he’d mostly done that so she could prep Daisy. Even he had to admit it would be a shit thing to do to die in surgery, not give any warning to his family.

He tries not to think he’s doing the same thing to Miller, tells himself all the reasons why it’s for the best. Though really he’s just scared, can’t say the words.

So he hadn’t told her. She’s going to be furious whether he lives or dies. And seeing he’s fairly sure he’s not going to make it, he won’t be around to deal with the consequences.

Some part of him knows it’s a shit way to think about it. That after all he’s put Miller through, dragged her into Sandbrook with him, she deserves to know.

But she’d only come and sit with him, worry. When she’d rather be in court, watching the trial.

So when court lets out for a recess, Hardy makes sure Miller isn’t looking as he grabs his bag, slips out the courthouse and gets in a taxi.

When he arrives at the hospital he doesn’t go in right away, instead pulls out his phone and stares at it blankly. He’d waited so she wouldn’t get the text until she was back in court, phone off. But now the task seems rather intimidating, impossible.

There’s a real chance this is the last thing he’s ever going to say, communicate to her. When he thinks of it like that, this stupid little text seems significant, problematic.

Going into hospital for pacemaker. That part’s easy.

Then what? If I die, too self pitying. If I don’t make it, trite. If I don’t see you again, sentimental.

He’s hopeless at this. Doesn’t even really know what he’s trying to communicate. That he likes having her to look to, confide in. That he’s thankful for her help, even though he demands it. That she shouldn’t worry for him, she has enough on her plate.

Obviously he’s not going to say any of that.

If this is it, I’m sorry.

Well that’s true. And succinct.

Hardy looks at the text in entirety – Going into hospital for pacemaker. If this is it, I’m sorry.

Honestly it’s better than he thought he’d manage. Presses send before he can question himself any further.