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Hardy finds his shirt where he's left it – crumpled on the floor by the couch, puts his shoes on and grabs his jacket, all the while trying very hard not to over-analyse what he's just said. He hopes. He hopes they'll make it work, he hopes she wanted him to say what he couldn't. Mostly he hopes she loves him back, because even with quite a bit of evidence in that direction, he'll feel even more elated hearing it for sure. His brain needs hard evidence and confessions. Still, Hardy feels unusually good about the world.

It's not yet seven on a Saturday morning, and the weather is uncharacteristically nice, so he decides to go walk along the cliffs – better to have them under him than looming over his head.
Hardy fully intends to think things through as he walks: prepare a strategy for work, figure out how to tell Daisy, how to interact with Miller's boys, Tom especially, work out how their lives can sync up, how they can balance out working together and being together – except his mind is absolutely quiet.
He'd freak out about that, seeing as he's usually at least mulling over a case, thinking about Daisy and pining after Miller, but he draws another blank. He's just content. Quietly content. He's got no idea how things will work out, but as long as Miller wants him, he's confident it'll be fine.
Hardy rides out on this new-found optimism and goes to fetch Daisy from the Latimers', buys pastries on the way for Beth and the girls.

“What's wrong?” is the first thing Beth says to him, and he frowns.
“Nothing, I've just come to get Daisy, we're riding over to Ikea, apparently I need new bedsheets”. He shrugs. Beth is gawping at him from her front door, which she's still not opening for him.
“It's seven thirty. The girls are asleep, they're teenagers, they'll be asleep another two hours at least.” This dampens his enthusiasm a little more.
“Right. Sorry, didn't mean to wake you. I'll be off, then. Sorry.” Hardy's about to leave when he remembers the croissants. He shoves the bag at Beth, who takes it, more out of reflex than anything else. “Breakfast. For you, and the girls. Tell Daisy I'll be home when she's ready to go, yeah? Right. Thanks. Sorry. Thanks for having her.” He concludes, then turns around and leaves.

Maybe it's a good thing he's not found Daisy up, Hardy muses as he walks home, because he hasn't changed clothes or even taken a shower, and he probably smells like sex.
Most of the time he's in the interview room, Hardy wonders at the never-ending stupidity of people – he listens to suspects' justifications and everything sounds idiotic. People refuse to explain the simplest of their actions, or struggle to come up with a motivation for their unusual behaviour, and it makes him mad, and suspicious.
Right now, though, he'd be hard pressed to explain what's gotten into him. He replays the scene on Beth's porch – her, obviously dressed for a morning run, him, absurdly certain he'd find his daughter up and about at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, pushing croissants at her. No wonder she'd been worried, why else would a cop turn up on her doorstep? Her husband's left after attempting suicide, her son's been killed, and he's never once before called on her socially. Shit. He hopes she isn't too shaken. He'll make sure to ask Miller about it, see if this warrants an apology. Beth's her best friend, he wants to try and get along with her.

Hardy gets home and takes a shower, gets dressed in the few casual clothes he owns and settles on the couch to wait for Daisy. He gets restless after about five minutes, eats a vague piece of toast for breakfast – vague, because he's got no idea what he put on it, tries to focus on a crossword puzzle for all of three minutes, resolves on tidying up a bit, wanders about the house moving things around, adjusting books in their shelves, and generally making everything that less organised. Daisy's never going to be able to find anything anymore. He just wants to go back to Miller.
They've finally gotten things right, when he hadn't even thought there were things to get right, and it's seems unfair that they can't just get lost in each other for a while.

---

When she checks her phone after breakfast, there are two texts waiting for her.
One's from Hardy.

Hardy:Went out walking, thought I'd think things through. Turns out I'm all thought out, there's just you

For someone whose whole brand is being uncommunicative, he's not that bad at this, she thinks.
She doesn't know what to answer. She's got no doubts either – she's told him she'd thought about this and she has, but it's easier for him, Daisy's grown up, and she wants him to have someone, the boys... Well. That's one thing she'll be clearer on tonight. For now though, she goes with cheek.

Hardy:Sure hope it won't be just me tonight.

The other text is from Beth.

Beth:Did you finally get your way with DI Hardy?!!

Miller: What? Why?

Beth:He turned up smiling like an idiot on my doorstep about an hour ago

Beth:Brought croissants

Beth:Got very confused when he understood no one was up.

Beth:Also that's not a no.

Beth:What did you do to him? Shagged his brains out?

Miller: Must have ;)

Beth:ELLIE!!!
Miller: What?! You started it.

Beth:Yeah, but ...

Beth:Well done. Tell me about it soon?
Miller: Sure, don't say anything yet though, gotta tell the boys first.

Beth:Right. Good luck with that.

“Mum?” That's Fred, through the door he's pushing open. She'd sent him to get dressed after breakfast. He's six now, he'll start proper school in September, so she's decided it's time for him to learn how to dress himself. It makes for interesting colour schemes.
“In here Fred, come on, let's see what you picked.” Miller calls to him and he runs in, bare feet tapping on the floor boards, and jumps on the bed where she's been checking her phone. He gets himself up and spins around to show her his green shorts and purple t-shirt combo before settling next to her. He's brought a book for her to read. It's their weekend morning ritual, reading in bed waiting for Tom to emerge.
She'll have to delay it a bit today.
“Fred.” She says, and there must be some tension in her voice because he immediately stops running his fingers along her arm and looks up at her.

“Do you remember much of your dad? He left when you were still just a baby.”
Fred shakes his head no. They never talk about this. He'd asked after his father when he started kindergarten, but she'd told him not to. It's not something she's proud of, but she always felt he was too young to know. He's still too young to know, but when is the right age to learn your father is a murderer and a possible child molester?
“Well. His name is Joe, and he left because I told him to. He's done something very bad, and he's dangerous, so I didn't want him to see you or Tom, do you understand?” She 's trying to keep her voice soft, hopes he won't ask what bad thing exactly.
“I thought mums and dads were in love.” Fred frowns up at her.
“They are, usually. And we were, but I didn't know about the bad thing, and when I learned, I didn't love him anymore. Sometimes that happens, people stop loving other people.”
“Because they do bad things?” Fred asks, and he sounds scared.
“Not always no, sometimes love just... fades away. But not parents' love, it's a different kind, you don't have to worry about that.” She kisses the top of his head, and he seems to relax a bit.
“Okay.”

“What did my dad do?” Fred asks after a minute or so. Miller takes in a deep breath.
“Well. You know Beth, right? She had a son too, along with Chloe and Lizzie, his name was Danny. Danny was a friend of Tom's, and Joe...” She closes her eyes. Opens them again. “Joe killed Danny.”
“Why?” Fred asks, because death is not yet a thing that scares him, or that he makes sense of. Miller packs in all the emotions that resurface every time she has to think about Joe, and tries to answer that. Why?
“I'm not sure, Fred. Joe said he was in love with Danny, and Danny wasn't so it made him mad and he attacked him. But... You know grown-ups can't be in love with children, right? Not the way they're in love with other grown-ups.”
Fred is nodding very seriously through all this, taking all this information in stride.
“Yeah, I know, Miss Thompson told us.” He shrugs. Of course, the teacher told them. Since Danny, all sorts of prevention programs have been implemented, some of them at Beth's initiative.
“Good.”

“Can we read the story now?” Fred asks when she doesn't go on.
“Not yet, love, I've got something else to tell you.”
“Okay.”
“So, I just told you sometimes grown-ups fall out of love, and it's sad. But the good thing is, most of the time, people who've fallen out of love, well... They find someone else and they fall in love with them instead.”
Fred is listening, she knows, because he's pulling at his shorts' hem, and it's something he does to concentrate.
“And you know Hardy? Uncle Alec? Mum's working partner?” Hardy's her boss, but Fred just knows they work together, and she doesn't see the point in complicating this any further.
“Yeah?” Fred frowns, like he can't see the link between the two.
“Well, that's who Mum's fallen in love with now.” She tells Fred, even though she hasn't told anyone yet, barely admitted it to herself. He won't get how momentous the occasion is, but he will understand it better that way, and it still feels good to say it.
“Why?” Fred asks, because of course he does. Why? Miller knows, and doesn't. Hardy is... Hardy's solid. Trustworthy. Inflexible and stubborn, sharp-focussed and distracted. Hardy is soft, she now knows, and generous. He's hurt, and righteous, and angry. But mostly, maybe, Hardy understands her, and doesn't judge her.

“He's nice.” Is what she tells Fred. He's not. Hardy is not nice, generally speaking. He's nice to her, but most of the time he's too focussed on some greater goal to be nice to people. She briefly thinks that this might mean he's focussing on her, and it tugs nicely at her heart strings.
“He got me ice cream that one time he came to get me from school.” Fred tells her, nodding his assent.
“See?” She says, too cheerfully. You over compensate, four-years-ago Hardy says in her mind, but she shushes him away. “So, that means we're going to see a lot more of Hardy around, and maybe sometimes Mum'll kiss him, or hold his hand.” Fred nods some more. “Is that okay with you then?” Miller asks, just to make sure. Fred is an easy child, nothing seems to faze him much, but still.
“Okay.” Fred shrugs and presses his books into her hands. He's going through an obsession with Where the Wild Things Are, and she'd recite it for him instead of reading, but he corrects her when she misremembers, so she's got to go at it seriously.

---

“Beth said you came by early?” Daisy asks as she comes in. He's finally settled down, reading the paper on the couch, and she steps right up to him, through the open veranda doors.
“Yeah, lost track of time.” Hardy says, and it's true, in a way.
“That's for when you're late. Not for when you stop by before eight on a Saturday.” Daisy frowns curiously at him. Is he like this? Does he have mutliple frowns? Miller would say yes, probably. He'll ask her.
“Just wanted to get going on that Ikea trip.” Hardy tries, knowing full well she'll call bullshit, but he's embarassinlgy giddy about it all and he doesn't know how to express it.
“Really, dad?” Daisy puts a hand on her hip and raises an eyebrow at him. She looks freakishly like her mother, and his mother, and possibly every mother in the world trying to get through an obvious lie. It still works.
“Nah.” Hardy gives up. “I. Huh. Sit down Daise.” He thought it'd be easier. Daisy knows about Miller, or at least she knows that he likes Miller, so there's no reason why she shouldn't be thrilled by the news, but talking about his feelings has never been his strong suit. Daisy sits down, looking a little worried.
“So. You know how we talked about me dating?”
“Yeah.” She lits up, sits a little straigther next to him. Hardy straigthens up too.
“Well. You were right. Turns out I was not that interested in the women I went with.”
“Because of Miller?” Daisy smirks at him. She's earned it, he lets it pass.
“Because of Miller.” Hardy nods. But doesn't go on.
“So... Does that mean you're together now? Wait. Did you come get me at Chlo's directly from Miller's?”
“Aye.” Hardy smiles up at her, his daughter. She's an adult now, technically, but right now she looks like an over-excited kid on Christmas morning.
She squeals, then hugs him. Hardy smiles uncertainly, she hasn't been that joyful in a while, and he's got no idea what do with it, so he hugs her back. He's happy for her, mostly, glad that she's regained some of her liveliness.

“Can I tell Chloe?” Daisy asks him as they stroll through Ikea, marking down references with their too-small wooden pencils.
“About you and Miller?” She clarifies when Hardy fails to respond. He's been trying to understand the difference between all the lightbulbs. He needs lightbulbs, the screw-on kind, why are there so many? Used to be screw-on or bayonet, now it's all about Lumens, and Hardy feels old.
“Daise. I can't with the lightbulbs, pick one, I give up. I'm old.”
She laughs at him. “I think you need a meatball break.”
“Maybe I do. I think I had toast for breakfast, but this place is wrong Daise, it sucks all the energy out of you.”
“I like it.” Daisy says, but stirs him away from the lights and through the maze, somehow honing in on the cafeteria.

“So can I?” She asks again, dragging a meat ball through some sauce.
“Can you what?” Hardy's lost the plot, he's been texting Miller about the lightbulbs. She sympathises.
“Tell Chlo about you and Miller.” Daisy rolls her eyes at him. Again.
“Not yet, darling. She needs to talk to the boys first. Well. Fred's alright about it apparently, but she hasn't spoken to Tom yet.”
“Oh.” Daisy nods, like she understands. “Yeah. I wasn't too keen on Dave at first. I had a point though, considering.” She shrugs. They've never talked about this. She hadn't even known about Tess cheating until a year ago. He suspects her finding out has a lot do with her coming to live with him.
“Let it go Daise, let your mum be happy, yeah? You can't live with the maybes and the what ifs. Chances are, we would have broken up anyway, eventually.”
“Right.” She looks a bit sad now, and he's sorry.
“Hey. It's alright, okay? I'm all fixed, and Tess's doing well, and I'm doing well. We're both happier now, that's what matters.”
“I guess.” She shrugs some more. “It's just. Everybody seems to break up all the time, like Chloe's mum and dad, or you and mum, and I... I don't want to have to do that.”
He frowns at his plate.
“Hold up Daise. What do you mean? Is there a boy? Or a girl? Someone you don't want to break up with?” Hardy can hear himself go into full protective mode, but he can't really stop.
“Nah, dad. Calm down. I was just saying, it's sad.” Daisy shrugs some more, then smiles at him. “I swear, the day there is actually someone I'm going to have to hide them from you.”
“Right. Sorry. I'll work on that, please don't hide, I'll rein in the detective.”
“Yeah, like you can.”
“I'm trying Daise.”
“I know. It's alright, at least I know you've got my back.”
“Always.”

---

“You can't.” Tom crosses his arms in a definite sort of way.
“I can Tom, and I will. I wish you were happy for me, or at least okay with it, but I'm not asking for your permission.” Miller tries to keep her calm. Tries not to feel too hurt. Mostly she fails. She's sat Tom down after his breakfast, when she judged him awake enough to have a talk. She thought it'd be easier to tell him straight, and so she has, and there they are.
“Why would I be happy? He's the worst!” Tom seems oddly earnest, like he really doesn't understand.
“No he's not! Look, I understand things are a bit tense, because of Joe, but I thought you'd finally come round. You know your Dad is guilty, Tom, you can't be mad at Hardy forever because he's the one who found out.”
“What? No. That's not what I mean.” He looks at her, confusion clear in his eyes, and quite a bit of hurt too. Shit.
“Oh. What did you mean?” Miller forces the harshness in her voice to subside, they've been fighting more than enough lately.
“I mean...” Tom bits his lip. “I mean, Hardy's... Look. I know you're sort of friends, because you work together and all, but he's a dick.”
“Language!” Miller says automatically, but a part of her is relieved. If that's the gist of Tom's objection, they'll be fine.
“And no, he's not.”
“Yeah, Mum, he is! He never smiles, he barely talks to people, he's never nice to anyone that's not Daisy, he yells at you all the time!! He's mean to you, he's got your job, and he doesn't like anyone! You can't be with that guy, Mum. You just can't.” Tom deflates a little, looks up at her with big eyes, and she can see him as he was, a little boy eager to please and slightly over-caring. He's worried. He's worried Hardy isn't going to treat her right. Even after all the yelling and grounding, and smashing of computers, even after what Joe did to them, Tom is trying to look after her.
“Okay. I see where you're coming from.” She really does, from what he's seen of their interactions, that's a very fair conclusion for Tom to draw. “But you're wrong.” Tom tries to speak again, but she cuts him short. “No, you are. Hardy may not be the easiest person to be around, I'll give you that, but he's not mean, he's mostly just a big bear. Grouchy, grumpy, slightly terrifying, but also very soft and cuddly.” She must make a face then, because Tom goes, “Huh, Mum! Gross.”
“Oh hush. I mean it, Tom. I know he seems hard, but I know him better than you do, and you've got nothing to worry about. I trust him. I really do, and there's not a lot of people I would say that about, not anymore.”
Tom nods.
“Alright.” He doesn't sound too enthusiastic about it, or very convinced either, but it's as far as they're going to get today.
“Alright.” She smiles up at him and he shrugs, then goes up to his room, to do whatever teenagers do with no phones and no computers. Maybe he's reading. He used to read a lot, before Joe.

As the afternoon goes by, Hardy texts her. He tells her about the apparent hell that is Ikea on a Saturday, about Daisy's choice of curtains, about how he wishes she were there. He asks if her day's going well, and if she needs something from Ikea. She says lightbulbs.