Author's note: I don't know that I will end up exploring it much in this story, but I think Alice and Jean could be great friends. They are very similar. Intelligent and independent, their strong personalities tend to put people off. Jean is much more socially adept than Alice, but Jean has many acquaintances and few friends, and they go out of their way in S2 to show how lonely she is. I think her proud personality keeps people from getting to know the kind, loyal Jean. I think if Jean could come to tolerate Alice's personality, they could become close. You see the beginnings of this towards the end of S4.

...

Alice did not consider that she owed a debt to Dr. Blake. She might have, it just was that she had never thought about it. However a short time after her humiliating experience at the hands of the Ballarat police, Blake found himself in need of aid. A murder investigation involving some old friends of his father's brought up questions about his own mother's suspicious death. Still in Munro's firing line with an investigation to solve, he needed support both with the current case and someone who could pursue his mother's investigation in a way that would not attract attention. To make things more difficult, his housekeeper seemed to have disappeared. He abruptly stopped talking about her several weeks ago. It was impossible not to notice, he usually talked about their day to day activities the way a sane man would talk about his wife. And she had stopped showing up at the police station or hospital when he worked on cases. Alice wondered what he did to get fired by his housekeeper, but decided it was best not to ask. On top of that, several of the constables that he worked with had turned on him, probably under pressure from Munro. Blake was running out of friends. Alice was not sure she could be his friend, or even how, but she could certainly help him. After what he'd done for her, it was only fair.

Before it was all over Munro was gone, but so was Blake, disappeared on some mysterious errand. Again it was Lawson, now Superintendent again, who came down to the morgue to tell her. Alice thought the visit was entirely unnecessary. It was not as if Blake would be there unless they had an autopsy.

"Ah, Superintendent. It is Superintendent, right?"

"For now."

"Blake called, he is going to be in Adelaide for a few weeks."

"What on earth is he doing there?"

"I think the less we know, the better."

Something in Alice's gut told her this had something to do with that housekeeper, but she didn't ask.

"Alice do you ever get tired of working down here in the morgue?"

"Like you said, it's quiet."

Lawson snickered. "Well, if we get a suspicious death while Blake is gone I may need you."

"Well that's just fine then. I might as well, Dr. Blake is gone more than he's here."

"Come now, Alice, I think we can manage to be kinder than that."

Alice glared at him. "And how many times have you fired him?"

Lawson seemed to smile and wince at the same time. "Point taken."

He tapped the brim of his hat and nodded in Alice's direction, and left the room.


Alice was surprised when Blake showed up in her morgue less than two weeks later, to look at the body of a race car mechanic.

"Dr. Blake, you're back. I thought you were in Melbourne."

"Adelaide."

"Well, Adelaide then. What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you too again, Alice. As it happens I'm here to perform an autopsy. It is what police surgeons do, you know. If that's ok with you, of course."

Alice could not help but smile at that. She really didn't mind having him back. "Well, suit yourself then."

Murder investigations were always barely controlled disorder, especially when Blake was involved. But this one took a turn that no one could have imagined. A suspect rammed his car into Lawson and a sergeant. The sergeant came away with broken ribs. Lawson had pushed him out of the way and took the brunt of the impact. Lawson's leg was crushed and he had lost a lot of blood. He might lose his leg or worse, his life.

Alice was upset and concerned. It was only natural, Matthew Lawson commanded a lot of respect in the community. It was only right that she should be worried for a colleague. She had tried to check in on him when he was first in recovery but he was too out of it to respond. Alice was in the hospital a lot in the days following, working on the case. She went to Lawson's room several times, intending to visit and see how he was feeling. But every time she got to the door she realized she had nothing to say and decided he was better off left alone to get his rest. If any of the staff noticed her lurking outside his room they didn't say anything. She was a frequent presence in the main part of the building during the course of her work. The nurses would have overlooked her standing in the hallway. Even Blake passed her on his way in to visit Lawson and didn't seem to think it odd. Alice was glad.


Six weeks later, the Blake house

Dr. Lucien Blake sat at the kitchen table, idly paging through the evening paper. Jean, his housekeeper, was busy at the kitchen counter preparing dinner. Lucien folded the paper and looked over his shoulder at her.

"I thought I might go over to see Lawson tomorrow afternoon. Rose says he is getting stronger and starting to get restless. I thought he might use some company."

"I'll go with you. I haven't seen him since the hospital."

"Actually Jean," Lucien got up from the table and leaned back against the kitchen counter, arms crossed. "I was hoping you could do me a favor."

Jean looked up at him expectantly. Lucien continued. "Alice keeps asking me about Matthew. She's worried. I think she wants to visit him, but she doesn't want to go alone."

"She could go with you."

"I thought maybe it would be easier if it were just you ladies. You know how Alice can be around...people."

Jean raised an eyebrow. "Yes."

"I know she's not the easiest person to be around, but she means well, and I think this would mean a lot to her. And to me." Lucien did his best to look charming, the same look he used when he was in trouble with her. It usually worked.

Jean smiled and returned to chopping carrots. "She's not that bad. She's an odd person but I've come to like her. You know it's not easy being a smart woman in a man's world. She must feel isolated even among the people she's close to."

Lucien could see Jean was not just talking about Alice when she said this. He put his hand on top of hers.

"I'll bring Matthew a casserole later in the week. I'll ring Alice and ask her to come along and keep me company."

Lucien looked grateful and kissed Jean on the cheek. "Thank you!"