Hewlett had assembled a small team on the stairs of the cells. He absolutely dare not make a move or make to interfere at this point. It was silent in the cell, Hewlett guessed Nick had "backed off " enough to allow Broderick to consider his decision.

Suddenly Broderick called out, "I've had enough! You hear me I've had enough!"

"What do you mean?" Hewlett called back.

"I'm giving it up. I'm going to throw this knife out the door. Like this copper says to do."

"Go ahead Thomas. Thomas, have you any other weapons?"

"No, no, just the knife."

There was a clatter and the lethal looking knife landed on the floor outside the cell.

"Go, go, go" Hewlett screamed at his team and they poured into the small cell.

Broderick had relinquished his grip on Nick once the knife had been thrown away and sat with his head in his hands. Nick wriggled clear, pushing himself into a corner of the cell, getting himself out of the way as the team piled into the cell, bundling Broderick down onto the floor and cuffing him. Nick watched impassively as he was dragged away and then suddenly felt total exhaustion sweep over him. He closed his eyes.

"All right lad, its over." A kindly hand was put on his shoulder and Nick opened his eyes to see Hewlett kneeling next to him, fiddling with Nick's cuffs and unlocking them. "You've done well, boy, very well. How are you?"

Nick rubbed his wrists which were sore. He said, "I'm okay sir. Just want out of here, sir."

"I'm sure you do. Can you stand?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine."

With Hewlett steadying him Nick pushed himself upright. Hewlett kept a firm hand on the young constable's arm and guided Nick up the stairs from the cells. Broderick had been bundled straight outside into a waiting van.

Nick thankfully eased himself down into a chair in the duty room, then looked up as a familiar and welcoming figure rushed into the station.

"Kate!" He put his arms round her realising she was shaking. "Hey come on love, I'm all right."

"God, I thought I'd lost you!" She pushed his hair back looking at the lump on his head. "Oh Nick that looks awful."

"Its fine, really." He looked past her, at Blaketon and Phil and Alf who had come in just after Kate. "Honestly I'm really all right."

"You had us worried you daft sod!" Phil managed a shaky smile.

"Nick, I'm so sorry. I had no idea about Broderick and the knife," Alf said miserably.

"Alf don't blame yourself." Nick was upset by what had happened but he felt that could not blame Alf for it although he did feel some bitterness towards Hardy who after all only had had to carry out a thorough search to find that weapon what ever the circumstances.

"You did right well in there lad." Blaketon put a hand on Nick's shoulder. "I'm that proud of you." He looked at Phil. "Lets get the lad an ambulance."

"No." Nick shook his head. "I'm really all right. Kate's a doctor, if I don't feel well later she'll know what to look out for."

"Nick you hit your head pretty hard," Oscar said glancing at Kate.

"Get yourself checked out love," Kate said pleadingly. "To keep me happy and stop me nagging you if nothing else."

"All right," Nick said with a sigh. "But no ambulances. Someone can take me down to the hospital for a check."

Phil nodded. "I can do that."

Another constable came into the duty room. He looked at Hewlett. "We're ready to take Broderick over to HQ now, sir."

Hewlett nodded. "All right. I'll catch up with you there."

"What's Broderick going to be looking at sir?" Nick asked suddenly.

"Well, he's made enough trouble for himself, " Hewlett said evenly. "He's got his problems but I'd have no sympathy for him lad."

Nick nodded quietly. Then there was a sudden hush. He looked up to see young Hardy had come in.

"I need to speak to PC Rowan, Sarge," the young probationer said, to Oscar Blaketon, nervously but admirably firmly.

"Nick really isn't up to this!" Kate murmured and Oscar Blaketon nodded.

"I quite agree. This will have to wait. As I told you PC Hardy!"

But Nick held up a hand. "I'm all right. Its fine. Although – could I talk to PC Hardy alone, do you think."

"If you're up to it," Kate said uneasily. "Although I do think this is something that should wait."

Nick waited whilst they'd left and then somewhat wearily brought his attention back to Hardy.

"Look Pete," he began but Hardy interrupted.

"I can't believe I didn't find that knife. The guy was going mental Nick I swear. I did my best but he'd already knocked me flying once. And he had this padded coat on and I think that's why I missed it." The lad paused. "I know I've screwed up and I know I'm finished in the job. It doesn't matter. I nearly got you killed."

"Look." Nick tried to find some strength but in truth he felt pretty done for. "They may allow you another chance. In the circumstances. Especially if we speak up for you. You've done well up to now they may allow you to come back from this. I can't say for sure of course. But they might. If you want to."

"I don't know that I do." The lad sat down looking miserable.

"That's up to you of course. But I think you should fight for it. I bet you don't' ever make that mistake again." Nick leaned forward. "I did feel angry with you when I was down there with Broderick. Of course I did. But I know how it happened. I can work with you again if that's what's worrying you. And if I'm asked I'll tell them that."

"Thank you," Hardy spoke softly. "I can't ask for much more."

Nick sat back wearily. "Then let them back in and I can get out of here." He managed a weak smile.

Kate put her arms around Nick concerned as he was half leaning forward with his head in his hands. But he sat up and managed a grin.

"I'm all right love. Just tired. Come on, I want to get out of here."

"I'll run you down to the hospital now Nick then after that you can get yourself home." Phil went off to bring the car round to the door.

Nick looked quietly across at Oscar Blaketon. "I'm glad to see you in one piece, lad," Oscar said, "and I'm right proud of you today."

Nick and Kate glanced at each other quietly . It had been an exhausting day, a day that could have ended so differently but they'd come out on the right side. Tomorrow, the day after, could take care of itself.