Recently marathoned the first four DVD seasons of Blue Heelers... man, I miss this show! I have a real fondness for the Maggie/PJ romance...

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

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Step One: And so it Begins

It was a brief moment of weakness, spurred on by the events of the night before and the emotion of the bitch giving birth to her litter. But Nick had seen them. She was sure of it, though he had not said anything in the time since. It had been wonderful. Sweet, soft, tender. Short. Rudely interrupted by a certain oafish someone in his size twelves. Everyone had been fawning over the dog Clancy had found and colluded with Nick to hide at the watch house while she delivered her pups. They were unbelievably cute – warm, wriggly balls of fur. Maggie had stayed behind after the others had gone on to continue their Christmas celebrations, not that she had really noticed their retreat. It was not until she turned around to say something that she realised that only she and PJ remained. He had this small half-smile as he looked at her and told her that he had fantasised about saving her and she knew that he had this time. She saw his bruised cheek and touched it, asking a wordless question as she lent in. His expression one of such affection that she willingly gave into his kiss. And then Nick came back. Bloody Nick.

Maggie found it difficult to pinpoint when her feelings towards PJ had begun to change. When she first arrived in Mt Thomas, she found him to be an arrogant, selfish…. man-whore, really. He seemed to have a date every other night, and not a lot of continuity. In fact, it seemed that he had dated or been turned down by every single or unhappily married woman in the district. For the last year or so, though, he had settled down. Not that he had turned into a celibate saint – as far as she knew – but he was certainly not schmoozing with every female he came into contact with. He actually seemed to be focussing a lot of his attentions on Maggie. They had definitely grown closer and formed a solid friendship since Maggie had been working so closely with the CIB side of things. She knew he cared for her, and respected her. And yes, there was some degree of attraction between them, but PJ's overtly flirtatious behaviour had always made it a bit of a joke.

Things had come to a head several weeks earlier, when the officers had been given a tipoff from the wife of a recently-released con, who just happened to be sharing Wayne's bed. Maggie and PJ were sent to replace the target and his girlfriend in order to capture the crim who actually was not so ex. PJ had looked like someone from one of those Jewish communities, with a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of half-rimmed glasses. And Maggie's form-fitting clothing didn't leave many inconspicuous locations for her weapon. But, if nothing else, Maggie was known to be a very resourceful officer. Besides, PJ seemed to recover quite quickly from the uncomfortable positioning of her gun when she was on his lap. Disconcerting at first to have a gun in contact with a part of his body at which no man ever wishes to have a gun positioned; however, an attractive woman sitting on one's lap is no doubt a cure-all for many ills. Once no longer in any reproductive danger, she thought he seemed to enjoy the close contact.

There had been kissing involved then, too. At first, of course, it was strange to kiss a man she worked with and she did not want to risk dropping her guard during the operation. After all, it was PJ – the man who cracked onto every female within a twenty metre radius just by smiling at them. But it did not seem like the entire thing was acted. It had actually seemed like it could have been a setup to give PJ the chance to legitimately come into close quarters with Maggie, but then they had both relaxed into their undercover roles. If the others had not radioed about Joe Kenny not being with his brothers, Maggie was not sure that they would have stopped anytime soon. And then Joe had burst into the clearing and knocked PJ down, taking his gun. Turned out Maggie's hiding place was highly effective; despite groping her Joe did not find her weapon so she was able to save PJ's life and help recapture the armed thief.

There was no question that Maggie and PJ shared a mutual attraction. If only they did not work together. Intra-office trysts were well-known to cause all sorts of problems for all involved. At least that was what they told everyone at the academy. Yet even with being second-generation force, she had not ever heard of it happening in reality. Still, there was something holding her back. He had asked her out for dinner when they were debriefing in his office later that evening, and she had at first accepted. In the next breath, though, she had made some excuse about processing the Kennys. There was something that made her hesitant about allowing things to go any further with PJ. There was no denying that they were attracted to each other, yet…

It was simply easier to tell PJ in the morning that they should keep their relations as strictly professional. She was a career cop, surely he would understand that. So, why did it feel like she was making a big mistake?

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Step Two: Same Old Tricks

Unbelievable. Un-bloody-believable. How could he? How could she? Well, Maggie supposed, it's not like she had actually said anything to Gina about PJ. But she should still have known that PJ was off limits. Maggie had come home late the evening before and seen the poker upside down near the fire – a sign that her housemate had not-to-be-interrupted company. Good for her; a bit of fun never goes astray.

In the light of the next morning, Maggie's mood was still celebratory. Gina was in a good mood – obviously her company the night before had not been substandard. The two flatmates joked back and forth for a few moments before Maggie heard a voice she knew all too well. Her stomach dropped. PJ. Gina's good night had been thanks to her pal, PJ. How could he do that to her? True, Maggie had told him that she wanted to keep their relationship professional, but surely he should have understood that it did not give him carte blanche to make moves on her flatmate. Bastard.

The fact that he could not keep his pants zipped up confirmed her decision not to pursue things with him; to leave their Christmas kiss as just that – a gesture of the season's spirits. It hurt, though. It really gnawed deep. Maggie realised that she could not really put blame on Gina. Gina did not know what had happened, did not know that Maggie was falling in love with PJ. No, the blame lay solely on PJ Hasham's shoulders. He definitely knew how she felt, at least to some degree. Even if she had said that she preferred a professional, platonic relationship, surely he knew how she felt. He had to. Plus, her flatmate? That went against every rendition of Girl Code ever left un-written.

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Step Three: Separate Lives

The whole thing was PJ's idea. After ribbing her with the others, he had actually made a useful suggestion: hire a tutor. Of course, he figured that not only would it be difficult to find a tutor, but if she succeeded it would be some octogenarian past his prime. No competition for him, and Maggie would obtain the help she needed. Win-win for all parties involved.

But, along came Roman Kellerman. Young, handsome, intelligent. Everything PJ felt he was not. Plus, there was something about this guy he simply did not trust. Call it a gut instinct.

-X-

PJ was being a jealous fool. Maggie did not think the others knew the real reason behind why he was acting this way, but it was obvious to her. He was a bloody overprotective jealous hypocrite. He had moved on – to Gina of all people – but when she found someone else to place her affections on it became a whole different story. What the hell was that all about? Dates crashed, lewd comments, she dreaded to think what he would come up with next.

-X-

He carefully placed the phone's receiver back in its cradle. There it was. Proof that not all was as it seemed with the charming Professor Kellerman. PJ felt justified in his poking around his colleague's new beau now that this information had come to light. He had thought that there would be more than this one insidious fact, though. Roman completely rubbed him up the wrong way, and PJ had a gut feeling that there was more to this guy than anyone knew. He was definitely hiding something, and PJ was certain it was more than what he had just discovered. The big question remained, though: how the hell was he going to tell Maggie that her new boyfriend was already married?

-X-

A fight of epic proportions. She had screamed at him, hurled abuse and insults, cursed him and cried how little he valued their friendship; that he delighted in interfering with her love life, wreaking havoc with her emotions. She was furious that he had not trusted her judgement, that he had snooped around behind her back. Granted, Roman had been found to be involved in that girl's death, but before that fact had come to light PJ had still been trying to drive a wedge between them. She was hurting and so angry at him that she lashed out, walloped him a good one before fleeing into the night.

-X-

After a sleepless night, and given the time to consider the events of the previous few days, Maggie was contrite and ready to discuss things with the detective. Only he was not there. He had pushed his leave forward, leaving a week earlier than planned. Maggie was devastated, figuring their explosive blowout the night before was the reason behind his absence. She knew she would not see him now for quite some time. And with this knowledge, the fragile fabric of her heart tore a little bit more. Not only had she lost her lover in the last forty-eight hours, but now she had also pushed away her best friend.

-X-

First day back had been a hard day. In fact, it had really been a hard couple of months; his uncle's death, the subsequent trip to Lebanon; his fight with Maggie and the conflict it had sparked within him. It took until end-of-shift before PJ had to opportunity to even glance at the paperwork on his desk. He sifted through, vetting the important from the less important. Nothing terribly urgent that could not wait until the next day. A red envelope fell out from the middle of the pile. Intrigued, he slit it open and was reading the card inside as Maggie anxiously entered his office. Her heartfelt admission and apology, with some gentle teasing on his part, helped both their wounded hearts start to heal.

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Step Four: Heartbreak

It had been her worst nightmare, buried alive when the mine shaft collapsed, trapping then below ground. Matt Cansella and Jamie Burgess had been laying charges to blast the mine and conceal the evidence of their gold nugget. PJ and Maggie had gone out to the mine to investigate their theory, and discovered evidence of the fraudulent scheme. The two men detonated the charges, causing the roof of the shaft to cave in and trap the two coppers. Maggie was terrified that they would not be found, that they would die without anyone knowing what had happened. She was severely claustrophobic, and borderline hysterical. It was not until she physically lashed out at PJ that she realised how far gone her state of mind was, and forced herself to calm down.

They had used the time in captivity to talk. Really talk. About the things that each had wondered about the other, but been afraid to ask. Why Maggie joined the force – the real reason, not what she wrote on her application or told her father; why PJ had yet to settle into a serious relationship with anyone; what each of them saw in their futures. How they felt about each other.

Why did he have to jeopardise everything by being so protective? It was not like she was unable to look after herself. She was a trained police officer – clearly capable, by her job description alone, of looking after herself. It is an innate desire to protect those we love, and Maggie knew that PJ would always put her safety and wellbeing above all else, even to the detriment of his duty. And she knew that she could not live with that – personally or professionally.

I don't want to lose what we have, our working relationship, our friendship. You're my best friend, PJ.

Let me just ask you this: do you love me?

Yes, I do. Very much.

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Step Five: Broken Walls

He had offered to put his career on the line for Robbie. No. Not for Robbie. For her. To help her. He had said that he could not let Robbie hurt her anymore. That he would do anything to stop her from being hurt, even if that meant losing his job. She guessed it was fair turnabout. She had faced disciplinary action when she had defied Sergeant Draper's direction to cease investigating the media flower-up during the hearing into PJ's fatal shooting of Raelene Darcy. But there was a big difference between a note on her record, and him potentially losing his job over corruption claims.

Maggie realised that his desire to protect her from being hurt was not because he thought she was incapable of doing so herself, but because he wanted to feel like she needed him to help her. That he could offer her something that she could not do for herself… except that – generally speaking – she could. One of the drawbacks of being an independent woman of the modern age.

PJ had been pushing Maggie for some time, trying to convince her that her trust in her brother was misplaced. It was not until she put all of the clues together herself that she realised that he had been right. Her blood ties had clouded her judgement, and it was that thought which left her vulnerable. PJ's insistence that he could 'fix' everything, that he would put himself in the firing line for her was the light-bulb she needed. They had been dancing around each other for months, ever since their tryst in the gold mine, and she knew it had to end one way or another. They respected each other too much for things to continue as they had been. PJ's impassioned plea to allow him to help quelled the aching in her heart, and she was drawn to him once more, letting him in, trusting him. This time, she knew, there would be no going back.