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The Book House

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Hardy slowly made his way up the cliff side. The moon illuminated the area almost as bright as a foggy day on the beach. He shook his head at the thought, insomnia was making him soppy. As he crested the hill, he realised that he wasn't alone on this particular stretch. He had chosen to walk a little further from the tourist beach, not wanting the awful reminder of a young boy's life cut short. It seemed that fate was not going to be kind to him though, as he saw a figure on the cliff top. A tall young man was staring out over the ocean, his body slightly swaying in time with the sound of the waves. Hardy swore as he realised that this was one of the areas where people went to commit suicide. He started running toward the young man he saw him get closer and closer to the edge and he tackled him away from it.

"What the bloody hell do ya think you’re doin’?!" he yelled as he scrambled to his feet.

Sam was dazed. He hadn't been caught off guard like that in ages. He must have been further into his head than he thought. "I was just looking over the edge." He muttered as the man continued his tirade.

"... of all the bloody reckless things." Hardy stopped as his brain clicked on something very important. He looked down at the young man who was staring back at him in bewilderment. "What did you say?"

"I said 'I was just looking over the edge'" Alec snorted. Of course, this would happen, he was over forty years old, and this happens.

"Right, well, don't do that again. It's dangerous around here, the ground is unstable." He motioned back towards the trail, "Don't be crossin' the fencing, it's there for a bloody reason" he internally winced at every word as he rambled awkwardly.

The young man regarded him in confusion. "Okay," he said slowly as he picked himself off the ground.

Hardy exhaled in surprise. Up close he realised the young man was tall, taller than he was at a hundred and eighty six centimetres and his hair was something else. Even in the fey moonlight he could tell he was attractive, Hardy's brain tripped up at that thought, he wasn't going to let himself sentimental now. "Where do you live?" he asked abruptly. He was reluctant to leave the young man there and desperate to know more about him at the same time.

Sam raised his eyebrow at the older man. Clearly, he was not the sociable type. "I live at the Book House. My name is Sam by the way."

"Ah," that explained everything and nothing. The man was an American and from the gossip that he heard whenever he spent time with Miller and her family, he had just moved to the area. They hadn't moved, and Hardy realised abruptly that Sam was waiting for him to introduce himself. "DI Alec Hardy, that means,"

Sam cut him off, "Detective Inspector, yes, I am aware." Sam strode away and it took Hardy a moment to realise he was heading in the direction of the aforementioned location.

They walked in silence and it gave the detective sometime to remember what he had heard the Latimer girl telling Miller about the new inhabitant. They thought he was the boyfriend of the lady who had lived there. Miller had pointed out that was incorrect because she had left a few days after he arrived. There was a rumour that the Book House was haunted because it used to be a church that burned down in the Middle Ages. Hardy only knew what the Book House was, because one of the Constables had to arrest a man a few months ago for trying to set it on fire. The place was a privately owned library with an attached cottage for the custodian. The lady must have been the previous one, and now he was sure he was accompanying the new one there.

Sam was wondering when the older man was going to say something. He was almost one hundred percent sure that the detective had said his words, but from the way the man was acting, Sam wasn't so sure he had said his. They arrived at the cottage next to repository and stood in the door way for a few awkward moments. Finally, Sam broke the silence, "Would you like to come in?" The detective nodded and Sam opened the door, leaving him to come in on his own.

Hardy glanced around, puzzled and intrigued. There should have been at least a few moving boxes, but the cottage was devoid of them. He could tell that the furniture had been there previously, though the gaps in some places indicated some were missing. There were no personal pictures or even clothes strewn about that would hint at new bachelor status. He heard the kettle go off and was infinitely surprised when Sam walked out with a full tea service on a tray. He laid it on the table and motioned for Hardy to take a seat on the sofa.

Sam waited until he had poured the man's tea and handed it to him before he asked, "So are we going to talk about it?"

"I wasn't sure, since you didn't say anything, but yes, you said my words." Hardy watched the younger man slump in relief. He figured he was being a right bastard but he was irritated. Sam looked so much younger than him, his daughter was probably closer in age, this couldn't possibly be a good match. "You have to understand. I am not fond of the idea that there is this magical force between two people that makes them perfect for each other. You're a complete stranger and practically a wee bairn compared to me."

Sam snorted, if only he knew. "You can't be that old, I'm 32. I'm not really that wild about Fate dictating how I live my life but I do believe soulmates work more often than not."

Just to be difficult Hardy replied, "I was born in 1973."

Sam snapped back immediately, "Ten years is not a large gap in this day and age. I'm older than the standard trophy wife. Try some other excuse."

"I have a daughter, and I'm divorced. I would be no good at this."

"None of that is a good excuse. People move on afterwards, or are you trying to tell me you're still in love with your ex-wife?"

"No, definitely not in love with her," Hardy said lowly. He wasn't about to elaborate on the adultery; that could wait till he got to know the young man better. Then he realised he was just being difficult, since if he thought that way it was a foregone conclusion that he wanted to get to know him better.

Sam wasn't trying to be pushy, but this was something different. He had joined the Alexandria Organisation to start a new life. It was uncanny how just as that happened he finally met his soulmate. Sam wasn't got to let this opportunity slip away because the man was an obstinate grump. "I understand you want to know more about me, how about a date? It would be the same if we hadn't been soulmates; just two strangers who met and decided they wanted to know more about each other."

“Fine, tomorrow at seven then.” Hardy racked his brain for a moment, then decided he would just ask Ellie where to go. “Meet me at the entrance to the boardwalk.”

Sam rolled his eyes. He could tell that unless he put his foot down, the man would steamroll over him when it came down to making decisions. He could let this one go, since it didn’t really matter where they went. Arguably, he had actually gotten his way and gotten what he wanted, a date.

The detective looked around, “What is it you do here? What is this place? Also, you never told me your full name.”

Sam smirked; he knew that was going to be an issue at some point. The organisation may have cleaned up his records, but some of the stuff on there was still pretty objectionable. As law enforcement, Alec would definitely be wary about his background. Well, he would cross that bridge when he came to it. “Samuel William Winchester, formerly of Lebanon, Kansas in the US.” He was deliberately giving the Alec everything he needed, if the man was any type of detective, he would find out everything he needed to know about Sam sooner or later. “I’m an archival specialist for a private charity called the Alexandria Organisation. The ‘Book House’ as I’ve found the locals like to call it, is one of their collection sites for rare books.”

“Hmm, so you’re a librarian.” Hardy very much doubted it was as simple as that. When he had tackled the young man earlier, he had felt some serious musculature underneath him. Sam also didn’t move like a scholar, he looked at ease but his movements spoke a precision that only came with a certain amount of fighting or training.

Sam laughed, “Pretty much.” The younger man gathered up the empty tea mugs and put them on the tray. He picked it up and moved to the kitchen. Hardy normally ignored social conventions but he knew this was an unspoken way to signify the visit was drawing to a close.

He also rose and moved to the door; Sam joined him a moment later. The night air had turned chilly and he hesitated a moment before stepping into dark. “Tomorrow, at seven.” It came out more like a command than a statement.

Sam smiled, his eyes crinkling in unspoken mirth, “Yes, at the boardwalk,” he confirmed. Hardy turned and walked off. He resisted the urge to turn and see if Sam watched him go. He shook his head as he made his way down to the beach. One meeting with his soulmate and he was already getting sentimental.