A/N: This was my entry for the April fic contest over at Sierra Oscar. I used a bit of artistic licence – Millie left Sun Hill because she didn't want her relationship with Jo to hinder her job as sergeant. I like this explanation so I'll stick with it!
'What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.'
The theatre crowds poured out onto the streets of London. Millie found herself pushed into Jo's elbow but when she made to step away an arm wrapped around her shoulders. She relaxed infinitely when a pair of lips pressed briefly against her temple.
'I'm sorry,' she said when the majority of theatregoers had moved on ahead towards the tube station, 'this was a terrible idea.'
Jo shook her head. 'We had the tickets. Stupid not to use them. Besides, it's a good show.'
Millie couldn't muster a smile. 'I know your head's back at the nick.'
Taking a deep breath of smog, Jo shrugged. 'You're just lucky you're at Barton Street. It's not a picnic camp at Sun Hill right now.'
'How's Smithy holding up?' she asked after a moment.
'Shit...' Jo drew them to a stop. An elderly couple behind them complained then forced their way past. 'I was meant to email my statement over to Lisa before end of play today. Completely slipped my mind.'
'Is it finished?'
'Then we'll stop in on the way home,' Millie replied. 'Won't take too long.'
'Do you mind? Don't want Smithy getting it in the neck for this. He's got enough on as it is.'
Millie answered by steering them towards the tube station a little faster. Jo leaned on her all the way down the steps and by the time they were sat on the train they were almost attached at the thigh. Not that Millie minded: since the accident Jo had seemed a million miles away. Perhaps the theatre had been a good idea, after all.
Aside from one dozing officer behind the desk, reception was empty. No doubt the nightshift were mainly out marshalling drunkards through the streets of Canley; a fun experience Millie got to relive every week at Barton Street, though without the bonus of Roger's running commentary on the whole situation. Funny, she reflected, she hadn't set foot in Sun Hill since her transfer and now she was here it was in the wake of… well, she didn't want to think about it anymore than Jo did.
After taking one look at the lazy officer, Jo buzzed them both through.
'Won't hurt,' she muttered, 'you're not exactly a terrorist. Look, it'll just take me five minutes. You wanna wait in the canteen or something?'
Millie nodded, squeezing her arm as they parted. Then she made her way down the familiar corridor, stopping to half-smile at the defaced photo of a drug dealer that no one wanted to take down. The canteen wasn't empty as she'd assumed it would be. There was one figure sitting with a polystyrene cup untouched in front of him.
'Oh, Smithy,' she muttered under her breath.
Looking up, his face showed nothing. Then, seeing it was her, the mask slipped minutely.
'What you doing here?' he asked.
Millie moved to sit next to him. From this angle, under the pale lights, he looked hollow. 'Jo needed to email her statement across. Didn't want to let you down, I think.'
He let out a long sigh. 'She's been a godsend this last week. Kept everyone going.'
'Yeah, she's good at that.' Pausing, she debated whether to ask the question. 'How are you doing, Smithy?'
His head snapped sideways. 'What's she said?'
'That you've been the picture of control. You haven't let anything get to you. Which, by the way, is a load of crap. That's not possible.'
For several seconds he stared into his cold coffee. Then he cleared his throat, 'I keep reliving it, you know? I just hope that I'll wake up in the morning and it won't have happened. I had to…' He forced himself to stop and shook his head.
Millie apprehensively touched his hand. It was stone cold. 'You can talk about it.'
Snorting, he muttered, 'No, I can't.'
'You might be Inspector now but that doesn't mean you can't have feelings. Though, you ask me, Jo's got the same attitude about being Sergeant.'
He took another heavy breath. 'It's like a splinter digging in,' he said finally. 'I can't get rid of the look on his face. I had to watch it, try and get the team over there and I failed. Simple as. I let him down.'
'No, he went in there on his own. He saw something and he stepped in to sort it out. You think those people he got out of the park, away from that psycho, aren't grateful? Of course they are. They'll remember Callum Stone for the rest of their lives. If that's not a legacy he'd want you tell me what is.'
'Millie, it ain't that – '
'Wait,' she interrupted, 'hear me out.' Closing his mouth, he nodded and she continued, 'Life isn't something you can control. It's just… it's transient. Things happen, people drift into your life, out of it. Doesn't make what they did while they were there any less important, does it? I knew Callum and if it was a choice of going out like a hero or standing by and watching a nut with a knife slice into a newborn kid or his mother then… well, I know what his pick on that'd be.'
Smithy dwelled on that for quite a while. It was only when they both heard distant footsteps that he conceded, 'He weren't the kind to listen to orders, especially not mine.' As the door swung open, he asked, 'So where you been tonight? You look nice.'
Recognising the desire to change the subject, she quickly followed his lead. 'Oh, I dragged Jo to see Avenue Q. Third time I've seen it, but I love it.'
'Yeah,' Jo said, catching their conversation, 'and she didn't stop telling me. What are you still doing here?'
Smithy shrugged. 'Paperwork: what else?'
Millie scraped her chair back. 'Don't forget to have dinner or something.'
'Oi, I had an apple. One of my five a day.'
'And the rest were…' she queried innocently. When he looked sheepish, she smiled. 'Point made, I reckon.'
'And what's your culinary delight, eh? Kebab and chips?'
'Homemade lasagna,' Jo answered. 'Well, homemade by someone anyway. Definitely wasn't us.'
'You two take care, yeah?' Smithy said as they backed off towards the door.
Millie met his eye before she lost sight of him. He gave an almost imperceptible nod and let out another heavy breath. Even when she and Jo reached the tube station she was still back in the canteen with her old Inspector.
'Oi,' Jo admonished lightly, 'stay with me.'
Entwining their fingers, Millie asked, 'How could I not?'