Meanwhile over the other side of town Michelle had got home and picked James up from the babysitter, after holding the nebuliser on him for a while she finally got him to sleep. She was just cooking dinner as Ian got home.
"Hey, how'd it go?" Michelle asked sipping on a glass of red wine
"You left me there" he moaned
"Lara needed me, plus you had your men" Michelle defended.
"I needed you, it's always about your team, never me"
"Ian, I have a job to do, what is this about?" Michelle asked wondering where this had come from.
"I shot someone today, I wanted my wife there to comfort me"
"Lara had been kidnapped, and almost raped, she also watched a man died, she needed a friend, not a boss, a friend. I know you think you needed me too, and I'm here now but in front of your men it would have been unprofessional" Michelle explained moving nearer him, hugging him tightly at her touch he let go, crying into her hair
"I know he was a scumbag but oh god I killed him,"
"And saved a life, I'm proud of you" Michelle said glad Ian seemed calmer whilst wondering where the outburst had come from.
"You always make me feel better" he claimed "We got a few of Crooks guys to talk, I think they realised there was no way out, we got 6 of them singing and it only time before the other 4 break."
"We'll still need Lara to testify but we don't foresee any threats on her life?" Ian warned.
"That's great news come on I made your favourite" they settled down to watch TV and then got an early night happy James was sleeping.
The next day Michelle was at the station early reading through Lara's report. Ian was waiting to interview her and was reading over her shoulder. It was clear from reading she was blaming herself.
"She was truly taken in by him" Ian noted "She have daddy issues?" he asked
"Yes, her father pushed her hard, so hard she almost killed herself trying to impress him. They argued. She moved away when she gave up gymnastics, he now lives in a care home with severe dementia." Michelle told him.
"Wow, so she never forgave him"
"What about her mum?"
"She died when Lara was young she competed in the Olympics in gymnastics. She died in a car crash,"
Michelle moved to the desk to access the personnel files, she wanted to know for future reference who Lara had listed as next of kin.
The box sat empty, Michelle frowned she'd have to ask Lara about that when she came in. Hearing noise outside she saw Dean and Chase walking in. They sat at their desks and began typing there reports. Next in was Heidi and Lara, before Lara could sit down Michelle called in.
"Lara, a word" she missed the look of panic on Lara's face as she hobbled into the office taking a seat in front of the desk, Michelle sat next to her while Ian sat in Michelle's normal seat.
"Ok I read your report I just have a few questions," Ian warned her "Did David Crooks order Mark I mean Charles to be shot?"
"Yes, both of us, he ordered the bodies to be dumped at Pauline's lake I think they used it a lot"
"How did you avoid being shot?"
"They ran out of bullets, they went to reload I escaped" Lara explained,
"And you are sure they intended to kill you?" Ian asked,
"They pointed the gun at my head and pulled the trigger, when it didn't go off they swore and went to find more bullets, out in the woods before you got there they were going to kill me again but decided to rape me first" Lara told him anger lacing every word.
"Ok, are you willing to testify if needed?" Ian questioned backing down as he knew he had crossed a line
"Yes" Lara replied in a heartbeat. She had thought about it overnight, she didn't want anyone else to go through what she had.
"Ok, we got him on drugs trafficking, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and some of his goons are talking so were just adding up charges. In short he is likely to get life no parole."
"That's good" Lara said, "Will he make bail?"
"No, there is no chance" Ian promised. He stood up, "I think that is all for now, I'll let you know if we have more questions" he shook Lara's hand before leaving.
"Is that all Michelle?" Lara asked,
"Not quite, I noticed your personal document has no next of kin listed, I thought we could amend that now" Michelle asked as she opened the file, she saw Lara tense.
"Err, well, I don't really have anyone, no brothers or sisters, no aunties or uncles, no really close friends, it's only you guys at rescue really. I suppose you could put yourself, Vince or Dean down" Lara offered
"I'd be glad to but is there nobody better?" Michelle asked, Lara shook her head a few tears escaping as she realised how lonely she felt.
"No I mean my dad doesn't even know who I am half the time so he isn't the best option" Lara admitted,
"Ok then I would be happy to be your next of kin, and I know Vince and Dean would too"
"Thank you" Lara said. She stood hugging Michelle awkwardly.
"Were rescue we look after our own"
Lara left the office; she spent the day co-orientating as Vince took her place on rescues. She was bored already, the only bright sparkle was Dean's visits. After shift she met him in his car.
"We going home?" he asked
"Actually I need a lift somewhere first if that's ok?" Lara asked
"Sure where too my lady?" Dean asked
"Sun Valleys retirement home, on east boulevard" Lara directed,
"Are we going there to see your dad?" Dean asked,
"If that's ok, I think even if he doesn't understand me I need to make my peace" Lara explained. They sat quietly, Lara planning on what she was going to say, and Dean letting her have some space.
Arriving at the home Lara got out and went into the building going to is room by memory. Dean trailed behind.
"Miss Knight he will look forwards to having you visit he has been talking about you so much" the nurse said as she opened the door. Inside an elderly man sat in chair, the Australian gymnastics championships on TV. Lara went in sitting next to him while Dean stood in the door way.
"Hey dad" Lara said rubbing his arm.
"Hey, who are you?"
"It's me dad, Lara"
"Lara, I had a daughter called that, brilliant girl could have been a great gymnast but she gave up"
"I didn't give up dad I was just never was going to be enough to compete"
"You did, I know you had it in you like your mother"
"I know you wish you'd had a better daughter, one who could have been a gymnast, made you proud, I'm sorry I was such a failure" Lara sobbed, she went into the small attached bathroom to dry her tears. Dean entered
"Hello there Sir, I'm Dean I work with Lara in rescue"
"You know Lara she never comes and visits you know she is too busy, she saves lives in that rescue team, have you seen her rescue I saw her on the news once she was a hero. I'm so proud I wanted her to be a gymnast but she did better she saves lives." Lara hobbled out of the bathroom, smiling through her tears.
"Thanks dad" Lara cried she hugged him tightly
"Hey you look like my daughter Lara have you seen her?" he asked.
"Yes dad I'm here" Lara replied patiently, "I'm going home now I'll visit you soon"
"Bye if you see my daughter, send her in" he told them. Lara and Dean left, going straight to the car.
"You alright?" Dean asked
"No, yes, maybe, can we go home?" Lara asked still shocked by the fact that her dad said that she was proud of her. She thought she would never hear it.
Dean drove watching carefully over Lara she was pale and slightly shaking.
"I never thought I'd live to see the day my dad was proud of me" Lara suddenly confessed.
"How could he not be" Dean responded surprised that Lara could even doubt that anyone wasn't proud of her.
"When I was little gymnastics was a way of being with my mum, having fun. One day she went to the shops and never came home. From then on gymnastics became a passion of my dad's he said I needed to do it in mums memory. I hated it, every day I got told how I was never going to be enough, everyday those happy times with mum at the gym slipped further away. In the end I began hating it, that's when I quit. Dad said if I quit that was it I wasn't his daughter anymore. I quit and didn't speak to him again until the hospital called, said he had dementia, couldn't go home what did I want to do?" Lara confessed.
"How do you pay for this place it's pretty swank?" Dean asked.
"Sold mum and dads house, it should keep him there another 5 years, I'm saving up for when that money runs out"
"Wow, I never knew that about you"
"It's not something I normally talk about"
"I'm glad you share it with me." Dean told her sincerely stopping the car as they arrived at Lara's house.
"You're easy to share things with," Lara told him leaning a bit closer to Dean. Dean also leant in; this was it they both thought, the first kiss. As their lips brushed, they knew this was right and parted their lips. Breaking apart as the need for air became apparent.
"Dean, wow" Lara whispered, looking around she remembered they were still in the car, "let's go inside" she asked, Dean was right behind her.
6 months later exiting the court room having heard David being sentenced to 3 life sentences and found guilty of all crimes, with Dean at her side Lara felt on top of the world. It had started as a mess, some of the worst days of her life, but it had opened her heart to love, to Dean and that was priceless.