Dedicated to: karrikln1671 who kindly offered assistance to publish this story on the Thoughtcrimes Community site, Matterothemind, on LJ. The summary is hers, so many thanks too for that!

Dedication to Duty

"Hi," she said.

"Hi," he said back, as if... it'd only been an hour ago they'd last spoken and not the goddamned eternity of a week.

"How did you find me?" she asked, in the same flat tone, staring down at the space at her feet.

"A lucky guess?" And he tried a smile. Because, hell, she needed it.

Her glance at him then... brief... grateful... as he allowed her to see the images that were there.

"Guesses... lucky guesses," Freya corrected. He'd tried a dozen different places before Michael had suggested Chest Harbour. And Brendan, had narrowed it down to the cemetery, always fearful he'd gotten it wrong. Please let her be here.

"We were worried..." he explained, but she wouldn't have had to be a mind reader to have fathomed that one out... worried when she'd freaked out and took off... after she'd identified June's body at the morgue.

"You all thought I'd go crazy..." she murmured. Not a question. A statement. And she probably wasn't even looking at his thoughts. A good guess.

He shrugged a reply, putting hands deep into the pockets of his dress coat, fighting the shiver of the cold east wind blowing in damp off the sea... the trembling of seeing her again.

"Could put it that way." And determinedly blocked all the scenarios that had gone through his head... the relapse that would mean a return to the mental institution... or... damn, even the bottle of pills... the bridge jump...

"There was no need to have... worried..." she replied. "To have gone to all that trouble over... me..."

And yes... he ought to be reading her the riot act now... to tell her a phone call would have been good. And no. He'd been wrong to think those things. She was tougher than that. And even Michael had reassured them that she simply needed space to be alone. But there were times, despite surviving those nine years, despite her always being there at Brendan's side, through thick and thin, there were times when she seemed so... fragile... Like now, a face, pale and white, moist with the ocean air and grief... a young girl again, who needed protection... and he didn't care if she could sense any of those things, however confused it all seemed, however much the anger was all swirling round in his head with the sheer damned relief of finding her safe...

And it must have been a mess in his head, either that, or she was being tactful, as she let it pass.

"I was travelling back today anyhow..." she explained.

Now you tell me!

And she threw him an apologetic look, but turned away instantly, quickly wiping her eyes with a gloved hand. "The Coroner rang..." And she could hardly speak... "They're releasing... June's... well... I have a funeral to arrange..."

And he shifted uncomfortably, and absently began kicking with the toe of a shoe at the wet, silver-beaded grass at his feet. Aware of his hands fidgeting in his pockets. Flustered. A lapse in concentration. Letting slip how he was feeling. Right... arms around her time... the consoling pat on the back... allow her to cry it out on the shoulder... sure as heck want to... can't... daren't... she sure as heck could do with it... but... she let that pass too... Not the right thing to do then... thought not...

He cleared his throat. "Um... I could help you with that, the funeral," he offered shyly, instead.

"You... you scarcely knew her," she said, stuttering, bravely holding back the sobs that threatened.

"An argument and saving her life once, doesn't count?" he defended cheekily.

She smiled weakly at that. And they fell silent a moment before Freya, nodded to her father's headstone. "A coincidence. Both of them... killed in car accidents. They were murdered, you know... I'm convinced of it... I hate myself for thinking this way... it makes it seem like I'm out for some sort of revenge... someone to blame..."

But she could see that he thought so too. That he'd been looking at her files. Initially to obtain address lists for Chest Harbour. Something just didn't feel right... about her father's death.

"It'll get sorted," he promised.

And she turned to him, bemused, despite the tears. "By the office? Harper would never sanction an investigation, not one based on... a hunch."

"I'm owed time off." A lot.

"You'd do this?"

"Free time..." and he shrugged again, "generally it's your choice what you do with it..."

"You'd do this, even though I left you standing there and ran off without a word?" She shook her head, amazed. "You've already signed off, haven't you?"

And he pulled a face... Yeah, dedication to... duty, huh?

"Come on," and he turned to leave abruptly, "we've got work to do." Ultimately, it was going to be the best thing for her, he decided. Except she didn't realize... well, she did now...

"Agent Dean! This is not the normal way for normal people to spend a vacation!" And she was back to her old scolding self already, though he could detect a laugh in there somewhere...

He turned round, walking backwards, arms outstretched, grinning and squinting against a thickening drizzle all at the same time. "And d'yer see anyone normal here?!"

And Brendan turned again, following the pathway to the exit.

"Coffee's on me!" he called back over his shoulder. Lets get out of this awful place.