hey guys, hope you enjoy this. as ever, reviews and advice or opinions are always much appreciated! G x

2 months later…

Frantically trying to get away, with bigger priorities than the new case that has just been dragged into AAU, Ange slipped through the double doors. As they swung shut behind her, she took the stairs 2 at a time, virtually throwing herself down headfirst. She was late to meet Chloe for lunch… it was just a quick pit stop in Pulses before her shift, but Ange knew it still meant a lot to Chloe. She knew he'd been to therapy that morning, and whether Chloe would acknowledge it or not, she knew she found it tough.

Whilst she seemed happier, growing in confidence every day, Ange knew her too well. She spotted every nervous glance over her shoulder, wrapping her fingers around each other, twisting her hands in knots under the table. Whether she was waiting for Evan to rise from the dead and slip around the corner, knife in hand, or whether she was just apprehensive of inevitable knowing, well-meaning and sympathetic yet intoxicating glances, well she didn't know.

Knocking the door open with her elbow, still moving at a rate of knots, she narrowly avoided sending one of the porters flying, and came to a stop by the counter. Nervously scanning the tables for Chloe, she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her sat, smiling at the far end. Yes, she'd tucked herself into the corner, but she was there. There was still a seed of doubt in Ange's mind that had questioned whether she'd be there at all.

Picking up her coffee, and thanking the barista, somewhat absent-mindedly with bigger things on her mind, she walked over to Chloe and sat down.

"Sorry I'm late… it's chaos up on AAU"

"Isn't it always?" Chloe chirped back.

She seemed happy but there was an edge to her voice that Ange couldn't quite place and it made her uneasy.

"Well perhaps! You settled back at the flat okay? Have you got everything you need? You're happy?"

"Whoa, what's with the 20 questions? I'm absolutely fine" Chloe retorted.

Ange was kicking herself, she really shouldn't let Chloe in on her worry… she had more than enough to deal with already.

"Sorry! Sorry! I'm glad you're okay. How's work been?"

Maybe a more subtle approach would work better?

"Oh the usual. It's been nice being back if I'm honest, I feel more like I'm back on my feet with a bit of normality again"

"You aren't rushing things are you? Please be careful…"

She was letting her worry show again. It was like she couldn't resist. Every time she let it show, she hated that little part of herself. But she'd surmised at this point that it was purely her innate nature to do harm to Chloe. As much as she hated it, regretted everything she did, she couldn't help blaming herself. Afterall it had to be her fault. She was the common denominator. Her brain, as ever, was a hypocrite to itself. She desperately wanted to pull Chloe close and never let her go. But at the same time, the voice in the back of her head was screaming, whispers echoing around her head when the voice grew hoarse.

"Mum?" Chloe questioned somewhat nervously, filling Ange with yet more dread.

"Yes?"

"My therapist thinks, you know, after confronting Phoebe and whatnot, that I've made good progress"

Ange sent her a small smile, she was endlessly proud of her daughter, she really was. And while the voice in the back of her head was crying that she couldn't get better this quickly, that she was running from the truth and burying her head under the sand, it was also just a distinct possibility that Chloe was coping with this 10x better than Ange had ever done… a hard pill to swallow. It seemed ironic. Chloe had always struggled; anxiety had crippled her from such a young age. Yet this, phoebe resurfacing, well she'd hardly broken stride.

"and should start focusing on more positive things"

Ange's mind drifted back to the conversation at hand.

"Such as?"

"Career, social life… relationships."

That word tied Ange's stomach in knots.

"She's just encouraging me to feel good about myself, you know, not to be defined by what happened with Evan."

"No. No of course"

Ange wasn't sure if she'd ever pause for breath, or look up from the depths of her reusable coffee cup, of course she had a reusable coffee cup, it's Chloe. Alarm bells rang in her mind, and she watched Chloe spin her fingers around the rubber rim. All these tell-tale signs… would anyone else notice?

Regardless, she looked across supportively, yet her eyebrows were furrowed with deep buried concern. You can tell. She stumbles over her words.

"oh, so what happens now? I mean… hmmm"

Chloe scoffs, as if mocking her mum's innocence.

"I know but it's just so hard to meet people these days. Like, good people, I mean – nice. "

She smiles, and immediately follows Chloe's gaze, spotting Jamie and Cameron stood behind them. She's not sure who Chloe was looking at and well, she really doesn't get the nicest feeling from Cameron, despite everything he's done for her, she can't explain it. She picks her next words carefully.

Chloe shoots her eyes to the floor, anticipating what might come next, the regret written plainly across her face. With a knowing smile, Ange continues.

"You know, there is someone out there for you, when you're ready. Ok, someone who will look after you, care for you. You might have been staring at them this whole time and not even realised."