So, this is my first fanfic. With that in mind, please be patient with me!
I'm not used to playing with someone else's characters, so they may not be entirely accurate.
I can't write romance to save my life, so there won't be any.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, I wouldn't be posting it here!

Alec Hardy sighed as he wandered along the streets of Broadchurch at dusk, not caring where his feet took him. He just needed to walk, to do something besides sit in his hotel room alone with his thoughts. His chest ached a bit from the exertion of even a gentle walk, but he ignored it. After racing around for the case for so long, he was unaccustomed to sitting idly. And if he didn't give his body something to do, he'd get stuck in his head again, in a dizzying flood of images and emotions and conflicted thoughts. So he ignored the pain, and walked.

Ellie Miller sat on the front steps of her new house, staring blankly at the front walk. It had only been three days since the move, and in the whirlwind of packing, comforting the children, moving their things, and trying to contain her own emotions, she had not had much time to just stop and take a quiet moment for herself. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not – it had been three weeks since the case closed, and her mind was still reeling.

Thank goodness for Alec – who would have thought that the abrasive man had such a soft side? She'd grown to trust him, her previous frustrations replaced with respect and appreciation. He'd been by frequently, watching the boys, checking on Ellie, assisting with day-to-day tasks when the world started to overwhelm her. He'd even insisted on helping to carry the moving boxes, stubbornly ignoring Ellie when she suggested he needed to avoid such things and rolling his eyes as she watched his every move in case he over-exerted. She worried about him, noted the way his breathing would get heavier every time he so much as stood up, how he would lean weakly against the wall and close his eyes for a moment when he thought she wasn't looking, his occasional grimace of discomfort that flickered for a moment and was gone, carefully concealed. She hadn't seen him since he'd helped with the move three days before, and despite the worry gnawing at her mind, she knew that he needed space too. Crowding him, particularly with concern, would only make him push her away. But every night she called Becca anyway, just to be sure he'd been seen that day, awake and still breathing.

"Ellie?" She jumped as the familiar voice cut through her thoughts, and was surprised to see Alec standing in front of her, looking concerned.

"Hi," she said, by way of greeting. She looked at him a bit closer, noting that his face was a little paler than usual. Dark circles underlined his eyes, and he seemed weary.

"Are you all right?" she asked, trying to keep her concern from tainting her voice too much.

"I'm fine," he mumbled, and then a little louder, "I just wanted to check on you. Sorry it's been a few days…" He trailed off, looking a little guilty. Ellie shook her head.

"Don't be," she said firmly. "You've got your own life. I'm doing okay, really."

He looked her in the eye for a moment, and finally nodded. They both understood that "okay" was a relative term now. Ellie looked around with a frown.

"I didn't hear a car…"

"No," he said. "I walked." Ellie looked at him with some alarm. Although she had stayed in Broadchurch - Alec had been right, her life was here - she lived across town now, and he had no business walking all that way, especially alone.

"Alec…" she began, but he waved it off.

"Lay off, Mil-…Ellie." He paused, an apology in his eyes for the slip-up. Ellie hadn't changed her last name – it would be easier for the boys if she kept it the same for all of them. But Alec had quickly switched to calling her Ellie, aware that she didn't need another reminder of Joe. Once in a while, though, old habits showed and he'd slip up. Still looking a little guilty, he continued, "I needed it. Should get back now, though." And with a nod to her, he walked away, back down the street.

Ellie watched him go with a frown, and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed Olly.

"Olly? It's me. Look, could you come watch the kids? For a few hours? It's important."