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Title: Broadchuch: Sins Of The Father

Date of commencement: September 22 2013

Date of completion: December 24 2014

Series: Broadchurch, a sequel to the original, and following on from Life Without Joe

Rating: M

Authors: tkel_paris and tardis_mole

Summary: Two years after Danny's death, life is slowly getting back to normal in Broadchurch. But Hardy's happy life is about to be turned upside down by a spectre from the past he had hoped had been laid to rest. Someone from his past wants to talk to him, someone wants revenge, someone wants to see him ruined. But it's not one 'someone'. But first, he must face the girl in his garden.

Disclaimer: We own nothing, but this is based on Broachurch by Chris Chibnal, with added clues from the novel by Erin Kelly. We gain no financial benefit nor gratuities, only the enjoyment from writing and working together on this epic journey, shared for the enjoyment of others.

Dedication: Chris Chibnal, long time friend. bas_math_girl, for her beta. And each other for hopefully not ruining each other's lives for too long during the writing part.

Warning: If you have not watched Broadchurch in its entirety, do not read this. We mean it. You will be spoiled. Stop and go back. Now. Ideally you have seen the entire show, not just what was aired on BBC America if you live on that side of the pond, but this is understandable in either case. Also, if you have not read tardis_mole's Life Without Joe, that's okay. It's possible to read this without reading that, if you're not on Moley's approved list. You'll probably find this makes a little more sense if you have read it, but you should be fine without it. Take the time to read Erin Kelly’s novelization, if you can, as it provided certain details that helped with writing this. Though you won’t need to rely on it.

Authors' Notes: See Episode One, Part One. They're a bit long to include in each post.

/=/=/=/=/=/

Previously...

Episode Six, Part Two: A Father’s Protective Instinct

Hardy hurried into the Social Services office in Bridport; a man on a mission. At the windowed main desk, a man sat going through a pile of freshly delivered mail. Impatient as he was, Hardy waited until he was finished.

“Good morning. I'm looking for Mrs. Henshaw. Is she in?”

The man glanced at the duty board on the wall on his side of the glass and saw her name. “Yes, sir, she’s in. Do you have an appointment?”

Hardy flashed his badge.

“Oh. Well, you still need an appointment.”

“Can’t I just go through?”

“Of course not,” the man replied. “For one thing, you aren’t staff. You don’t have access or a key card.”

Hardy secretly longed for the good old days when all this security wasn’t needed. But he could understand it. This department of the government was there for the protection of Britain’s most vulnerable children. He had to respect that. “Sorry. It’s quiet urgent that I speak with Mrs. Henshaw. It’s regarding one of her cases currently in Broadchurch Hospital. Could you let her know that DI Hardy is here to see her?

“Take a seat. I’ll call her now,” the man replied.

That’s better, Hardy thought silently. He took up position that covered both internal doors, not knowing which one the woman in question would come through. Also waiting was a young mother with a toddler son. He wondered why they were here. The girl was well dressed and the baby in the pushchair was clean and tidy and well fed, playing happily with a crinkle plushie, seemingly oblivious to his mother’s obvious uncertainty. There was a black bag on the seat beside her and another stuffed into the basket under the pushchair. Hardy wondered if that meant she had been evicted at short notice. He supposed the social services got plenty of hard-luck cases. He wouldn’t want to work here. His heart would break too often.

He watched someone exit the far door and approach the young mother and ask her to come through to the interview rooms. With interest, he watched the woman lift a card key to a scanner and wait for the lights above the door to turn green. With a mild clunk the door opened and the women, girl, baby and all disappeared inside.

So, that was what the receptionist meant, Hardy thought.

After another two minutes, the door at the far end opened again and another woman exited. This one approached him.

“DI Hardy?”

Hardy stood up and shook the proffered hand. “Mrs. Henshaw. Good to meet you in person.”

“Come through. We’ll find an empty interview room.”

The security key, the clunk and the doors and finally he was inside. The entire suit of small offices had the feel of a police station. There was no welcoming air here. Suddenly he felt a shard of worry for the unfortunate young mother and her baby. Mrs. Henshaw ushered him into Room 12.

“Please, take a seat,” she said.

He did so. He felt obliged, as if he had been arrested and marched in here for interrogation. And, for once his line of work and reputation of being of few words and no comfort was a help to him. So, this was what it was like to be a prisoner. His interview with the Super have been in a private office, with a carpet and nice pictures. This room was stark, sterile and no place for an adult, let alone one to bring children into. He had expected to see a box of toys in the corner, but no. There wasn’t even a pleasant picture to look at.

Mrs. Henshaw sat down opposite him. “So. What brings you here, DI Hardy? Do you have information for me about Baby Enoch?” she asked as she laid down her notepad and clicked her pen.

“None that's useful,” he admitted. “I'm here for help.”

That surprised her. “What do you need?”

It was hard enough to have got those last words out. But these would be even harder. “I need to know whether there's enough grounds in this information for me to win a new look at the custody arrangement for Daisy.”

“Daisy?”

“Sorry. My daughter, Daisy Hardy. She’s also in Broadchurch Hospital, looking after her brother, Ben Hardy.”

“We don’t deal with custody arrangements. You’d need to consult a solicitor in Family Law.”

“I understand that,” he quickly agreed. “But there may be a few things you don’t know.”

He handed over his handwritten notes on what he knew about Daisy's life, Bruce's actions, and Tess' comments.

Mrs. Henshaw read them silently. “You have a lot of uncertain information.”

“Daisy has been prevented from talking with me ever since she arrived and for the five years before that. The look in her eyes when she saw me, the way she hugged me, she wants to speak with me. It was not her doing that I haven't heard from her. It has to be her mother and Bruce Stratton's doing. But I'm barely able to exchange a few words with her.”

“It’s not grounds to get children’s services involved,” she told him honestly. “We need something from her or your son to justify us stepping in.”

He tensed. This might hurt him. “Ben might have my name, but I’ve been told I’m not his father.”

“Did you sign the birth certificate?”

“Yes. The results of a paternity test had not arrived until after that time. Both Ben and Daisy are in an abusive environment, controlled and kept away from other people. Surely, that’s enough to raise a few red flags?”

“You say abusive, what to you mean? Does your wife hit them, neglect them?”

“Ex-wife,” he corrected. “Ben has been in hospital for several days and he does have signs of physical abuse. I don’t know about Daisy. She hasn’t been examined.”

“Ex-wife?” Mrs. Henshaw repeated as she made noted. “Is it a possible jealous streak you’re having, Mr. Hardy? No offence meant, but you have to look at it from our point of view.”

“No. I was given access and visitation by the Courts, but my ex stopped me at the door every time. Since Daisy arrived in Broadchurch on holiday a few of weeks ago, I’ve barely seen her. A friend’s daughter, Chloe Latimer, has befriended her. Got her trust. She offered to pass on any messages from me to her. I was desperate, so I agreed. Chloe came to me saying Daisy nearly broke down on reading it. She confirmed that her mother took her phone off her, a phone I bought her to maintain contact between us, as agreed in Court. She’s terrified of the man her mother is with, and so is Ben. Daisy has been the one doing everything for Ben and is with him constantly to avoid leaving the boy alone with him.”

“What’s his name?”

“Bruce Stratton.”

“Is he Ben’s father?”

“I don’t know,” Hardy admitted.

“When you say, Daisy does everything, what does that mean?”

“During a police investigation, our officers observed that Daisy dresses him, makes sure he’s fed and puts him to bed at night.”

“While his mother is doing what?”

“I have no idea.”

“How old is Daisy?”

“Seventeen, nearly eighteen.”

“She’s too old for Children’s Services involvement,” Mrs. Henshaw explained. “Did she keep the note you sent?”

“No, she told Chloe Latimer that she was afraid her mother or Bruce would find it.” He took it out of his pocket and opened it out.

Reading it, the woman took a deep breath. “You easily come off as a father who's been trying just to reach out to his little girl - not so little, if you’ll excuse me? - and in total ignorance of her life since you left. However, there are no grounds for our involvement. Unless the hospital gets in touch with us, we can’t step in and remove the children, but we will pass on your concerns to Children’s Services in Daisy’s home town.” She paused for a moment, her eyes going back to the notes he had written in front of her. “Your ex is at least turning a blind eye to something that has caused Ben to have the injuries he has. That is most definitely within our purview.”

“Injuries?! What are you talking about?”

“Bruises on his wrists and legs that could be from being tripped, and his ribs have been bruised and a few have been broken, though none of the injuries were reported to a doctor. The doctor I spoke to suspects that these injuries have all put a strain on Ben’s heart and may have caused his heart attack.”

“Oh god,” he gasped.

“The hospital explained us that not all if the injuries are consistent with typical childhood accidents. When I spoke to the parents, Mr. Stratton claimed Ben was a clumsy boy, but Daisy was overheard telling a nurse that he's not. When the doctors explained this, Mr. Stratton, who by the way has been refusing to reveal his own medical history or his family's despite your ex's claim that he's the father, suggested Juvenile MS. The doctors informed us - but not yet them - that they can eliminate MS as an answer. Not all of the injuries could possibly have been caused by an MS episode or fall. But, again, since the injuries are mild and not life-threatening we can’t act on it unless and until we have firm evidence from a second medical witness, and that has to come from the family’s local hospital.”

Mrs. Henshaw’s phone buzzed with a text. She took it out of her pocket and read it. “I’ve been called away on an emergency. Thank you for keeping me informed on the wider picture. Let me know what if you find anything about Baby Enoch,” she said as she got to her feet. “But let me say this much, DI Hardy. Proving Ben is your son and not Mr. Stratton's would be the best thing to happen to that little boy. I wish you luck.”

Hardy gathered up his notes and Mrs. Henshaw walked with him back to the main entrance, the doors clunking shut behind him. And with a warm cheerio she left him there and returned to the other doors; security tag, green light, and she was gone.

Hardy could not move. In his mind he was picturing what could have happened to cause the injuries described. Not for the first time, he desperately wanted to be wrong. The last time was when he first suspected Joe.

It felt even more sickening for him now. Unlike Ellie, he had had choices about what to do, chances to see what was going on. Now, he was firmly in Ellie’s shows, seeing it from her point of view. And there was nothing he could do.

For the first time since he made the decision to accept the blame in Sandbrook, he wondered if the truth should have come out instead. Would it have made a difference? If Tess had been disciplined, would it have helped him or hurt him where Daisy was concerned? And what would have happened to Ben?

/=/=/=/=/

Disappointed, Hardy left and went to a local solicitor in family law. And then repeated everything that had been said

“You have enough to prove that you've acted within the bounds of the Court agreement, and it puts your ex's actions in a poor light,” the man spoke. “Get confirmation from Daisy that it's her mother's doing, or at least that her mother has done nothing to ensure your daughter is allowed to contact you, and I will get you a re-hearing. The only thing that could go against you is the matter of her little brother. Social Services, from what I understand, does little to keep siblings together. But the Family Court doesn't like to break up siblings.”

Hardy took a moment. “I had a paternity test run when Ben was born. It said I wasn't his father, but... I don't know if I can trust that result anymore. He looks like me, he has the same heart condition I have, and my wife at the time had me sign the birth certificate. Is that enough to push for custody?”

“Unfortunately, the Court would take paternity over birth certificate. You could sue her for not changing it,” he suggested.

Hardy was reluctant. “Tess was utterly shocked and devastated when the result came back,” he recalled. “And Ben is Daisy's little brother, no matter what. She's protective of him and from what I hear he adores her. I don’t want to split them up. If she fears someone is abusing Ben and I win custody, what will that mean for him?”

“How did you find out about Ben's condition?”

“I was at the hospital for my check-up. My own doctor thought Ben was my son and gave me a full update on his condition. Ben had had a heart attack the night before. He was genuinely surprised when I said Ben wasn’t my son. He said his condition is identical to mine and is inherited. As far as I know, Bruce Stratton doesn’t have a heart condition. He works out, he jogs; he lifts weights. I can’t do that, even with a pacemaker. My doctor urged me to have the test redone. I don't know what to do.”

“Have that test redone,” the man advised. “If this one says Ben is your son then you have even stronger grounds for custody. Your ex is at least turning a blind eye to something that has caused him to have the injuries listed here. What has children’s services said?”

Hardy sucked in a breath. “They informed me that they are seeking a second opinion from a doctor once Ben is transferred home.”

“I’m shocked that they aren’t more interested. But not surprised. In their shoes, I would be cautious, too. Juvenile MS is tricky to manage and the injuries from a fall can be hard to distinguish from abuse. Have you seen the boy?”

Hardy shook his head. “I wasn’t allowed. Ben’s in a serious but stable condition and is only allowed close family in. Usually it’s only parents allowed, but when the staff asked Daisy to leave Ben became so distressed that it caused a second heart attack.”

The solicitor nodded. “I can take on your case, Mr. Hardy. There is enough here to take it back to Court on grounds of breaching an existing ruling. But let me be very clear on this. Proving Ben is your son and not Mr. Stratton's would be your only legal avenue to securing custody of him. Daisy is almost eighteen, at which point custody would be irrelevant, even if you prove an abusive situation is involved. If a new paternity test proves Ben is your son, it would be automatic grounds to force a re-evaluation given the deception. If the test proves otherwise, then we have grounds to sue your ex-wife of fraud and can push for child support reimbursement to yourself.”

That news had lightened Hardy’s mood to no end. That money would come be very handy. On the other hand, he felt bad for Ben if it turned out to be negative again. And he very badly wanted it to be positive. He didn’t know who to turn to in Broadchurch to see it done. Ellie would know.

He turned his car towards home and was there in less than ten minutes.

/=/=/=/=/

“DI Hardy?”

Hardy closed and locked the car and looked around. Chloe approached him with her friends Sonya and Chelsea in tow. He greeted them warmly.

Chloe held out a note. “I got this from Daisy,” she said.

Hardy took it and tucked it into his jacket outer pocket. “Thanks. I’ll read it as soon as I get the chance and give you a note to take back.”

“All right,” Chloe agreed. “I’ll be at the park at 4 o’clock.”

He watched the girls return to the road and walked inside the police station.

No sooner had Hardy stepped inside, his ears were assaulted by a horrendous din. He could hear yelling and screaming coming from the duty desk. Someone was being arrested. As the man struggled to free himself from the cuffs, his arms came up and struck the arresting officer in the face.

The arresting officer immediately pounced on him to subdue him. Hardy could tell who it was now. Beneath the bleeding nose and torn lip was PC Bob Daniels. Hardy’s eyes widened as he saw Daniels land a punch in the prisoner’s face. As the Duty Officer cried out a warning, Hardy grabbed Daniel’s wrist.

“Stop,” he ordered. “Get up! Let him go!”

“Not on your life!” Daniel’s grated. “I caught him watching my daughter in the bath!”

Hardy pushed him back a little way to allow the Duty Officer to help the man in the tracksuit to his feet. “Book him in.”

“What?!” the man cried.

“You want to press charges?” Hardy asked the man.

The man paused. “No. He caught me fair and square. I just don’t want to go back to prison!”

His face was badly bruised and blooded, but to Hardy he was instantly recognisable at the Peeping Tom he had arrested a few months before. “Well, you’re going. Book him in for resisting arrest,” he said again. “I’ll speak to him later.”

Bob choice that moment to have a go. “You’re lucky I don’t wrench something off-”

Hardy grabbed Daniels’ shoulders and marched him up the stairs and into a room. He toed the door shut behind him. “Sit down.”

“Sir, he was ogling my little girl.”

“Bob!”

Daniels plonked himself into a chair by the table, spent and defeated.

Hardy drew several deep breaths, knowing full well that if he had tried that stunt before his pacemaker was fitted, he would have been a dead man now. He pulled out another chair and sat in it.

“I heard her scream,” Bob whimpered. “I thought someone was attacking her. I thought I’d find her dead, like the other girls. And I rushed in there and I saw him at the open window. I climbed out of the window and punched him. He punched me in the face and ran off. I followed him, chased him up the street. And I arrested him,” he admitted. “But I was so close to losing it and doing something worse.”

“You can’t do that, Bob. You’re better than that.”

“But he was watching my daughter in her bath!”

“You could be forgiven for what you did,” Hardy told him. “The law has some leeway. He was on your property without consent, breaching the privacy of an under-age girl, and he doesn’t want to press charges against you. Under the Law, as it stands, you could argue that you were defending a child and you wouldn’t face any legal repercussions.”

Bob sighed with relief.

“However,” Hardy cut into his burgeoning triumph. “You punched him while he was down and cuffed. That could have you suspended and off the force.”

Bob waited, holding his breath. But as he stared at Hardy he watched his features soften and reveal the understanding and the pain underneath.

“If it had been me...” Hardy hesitated. “If it had been me I’d have gutted him,” he admitted. “I’ll tell the Super that you showed exceptional restraint.”

Bob was silent, staring at him.

“My daughter is out there, somewhere. And I can’t get to her. And she’s being stalked, targeted by the same person who killed the others. And I can’t tell her. And there’s a man out there, right now, who’s hurting her psychologically. And I can’t touch him.”

“Oh god, sir, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

“I know. And I’ll admit something to you. I’d love to get my hands on him. What I wouldn’t do in the defence of my little girl. Only she’s not so little as yours.” He leaned forward, his eyes swimming with unshed tears. “Understand, Bob. We’re better than that. We have to be. Otherwise we’ll be at their level. And the public need us to protect them from men like him downstairs. You need to be stronger.”

“Both of our daughters are potential targets.”

“I’ve been told mine specifically is a target. She witnessed the precursor to a violent crime and they want her dead.”

“But there’s rumours going around that you killed those girls.”

“Thankfully, I can prove that I didn’t,” Hardy replied. “Do you think your Pepping Tom killed them?

Bob instantly shook his head. “No. He’s just a Peeping Tom. Several of us in the canteen put names forward for possible suspects, but he was the first to dismissed. For one thing he had alibis. But even so, he’s always known to look. Like he doesn’t know what to do next. He’s not right in the head.” He took a breath. “Has anyone interviewed that reporter woman?”

Hardy frowned. “Karen White?”

“Yeah, her. Maybe you should check her alibis. She always seems to turn up as soon as there’s trouble.”

Hardy almost smirked. I’d love to, he thought. Instead, he said, “I’ll bare that in mind. In the meantime, there’s a crime I need to log in. And I also need to touch base with my wife. I suggest you go straight to the Super’s office and tell her what’s happened.”

“Yes, sir,” Bob agreed. “Sir?”

Hardy paused, his hand on the door handle. “Yeah.”

“Thanks.”

“Any time.”

ĐĐ

To be continued...

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