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Title: Broadchurch: 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 Broadchurch by Chris Chibnal, with added clues from the novel by Erin Kelly. We gain nor 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 Three: What No Parent Wants To Hear

Hardy stepped out of the room, leaving Daniels to pull himself together, and walked along the corridor to the CID room. His wife’s desk was deserted. Frank and Anna were in, discussing tight spaces and measurements. “Broome, have you seen Miller?”

“She went to speak with SOCO. They had some results for her.”

He sighed. “Let’s hope it's good news.”

Frank grimaced. “We could use it. Any luck on finding the baby's family, Sir?”

“No one's willing to admit to someone being pregnant who's now not, but I also haven't seen anyone who looks anything like the boy.”

“Odd,” Anna recalled. “DS Miller said she was certain that she knows someone he's related to. She said something about his face seemed familiar.”

Hardy looked again at the photo on the incident board. He stared at it hard, trying to see what his wife might have seen, or something he had missed seeing the baby for himself. After a moment he exhaled sharply. “Either I don't know them, or I need to clear my head to see it.”

“Any luck?” Ellie called out, hurrying toward him and sorting the files in her hands.

“None.”

“The interviews at the hospital took a while?”

Hardy took a breath. “I ran out of people to interview over three hours ago. I took a detour to Bridport Social Services.”

That surprised Ellie. “To see if they had any insights on who his mother might be?”

“No.”

“Then why?”

He wanted to take this to a more private setting, but decided the force would learn about it soon enough. Besides, being a bit more open might help him. “I asked for some advice on what I can do since I have a feeling my daughter is being at the very least psychologically and emotionally abused. They assured me that they would pass on my concerns to the Sandbrook office. Once I’d spoken to them, I went to see my solicitor. I've put in a challenge to the custody arrangement over Daisy, and to have a new paternity test run for Ben.”

Frank and Anna’s eyes widened, which Hardy expected. But Ellie was not surprised. Her only reaction was a slight increase in her tension. “You don't believe the result of the original test?”

Hardy took a moment to put together his thoughts into words he was willing to say before someone not his wife. “Between hearing about his condition, my doctor urging me to have the test rerun, the memory of Tess' shock when the original test said he wasn't mine, and Daisy's apparent conviction that he is mine... it's been on my mind. If the samples were tampered with, even accidentally, then I've cost Ben almost five years of my time as a dad. I need to get that test done again. I’ve sought legal advice and have been told that either way I have a case to bring to the magistrate and I have grounds for a re-evaluation of access for Daisy, maybe even full custody.”

“Well, that's good. She'll be out of that situation,” Anna commented.

“But there’s more to it than that,” Hardy continued. “The doctor I spoke to at the hospital informed me that they are preparing evidence of physical abuse on Ben. He has bruises and broken bones. Some healing, some recent. He believes someone is making Ben think he’s clumsy and blaming his accidents on juvenile MS.”

“And?” Ellie managed.

“They performed a brain scan. The results won’t be back for some time, but some of the bruising is inconsistent with a fall. I’ve had to ask them to wait, pending the current investigation, since both Bruce and my ex wife are potential suspects in a multiple murder case.”

Ellie was silent.

Hardy frowned at his wife. “You’re not saying much. You're the one who asked me if I would have been willing to take him in.”

She braced herself, set the files down on her desk and took out one sheet before placing the rest in her lockable drawer. “We need to talk. In private.”

Hardy was stunned. Didn’t this renege on their agreement to be professional at work?

“Frank, we’ll be in Room 6. Don’t interrupt unless it’s important.”

Moments later they were in an empty interview room, the only privacy they could reasonably get, given that they couldn’t go home yet.

Once Hardy closed the door, he walked right up to her. “What's going on?”

She took a deep breath. “I thought you would rather not have an audience for what I'm about to tell you, although it will become public knowledge at some point, but I need you to hear it from me first and I hope to buy us some time before it reaches more sensitive ears.” She drew another deep breath. “I already had the test redone.”

“What?!”

“Bruce Stratton has been suspended from Sandbrook Labs for tampering with and mislabelling samples. Dozens of paternity tests and hospital patients have been affected. When I read Mark's description of what happened, it was like I was seeing any of your collapse all over again. Then I got a look at Ben and I doubted that the original result could be trusted. So I had help in quietly getting a new test run. Sandbrook Labs have already begun to re-examine Bruce Stratton’s work going back years. I submitted the results of the cheek swab you gave to prove your innocence in the murder of Sarah Wallace.”

Hardy went still. He could barely breathe. “Ellie... what did it say?”

She handed him the paper.

He looked at it, his eyes moving directly to the results section. He had read one of these before, years ago, but not enough years to forget where to look. Instantly he choked on his breath.

“According to Sandbrook Labs, Alec... Ben’s yours,” she whispered.

He started shaking and turned absolutely pale. Ellie hurriedly moved a chair to catch his fall. She got there just in time.

She pulled another chair to sit in front of him. She could see the signs of a growing panic attack. “Alec. Listen to me. Close your eyes. You’re in the garden, what do you see?”

“Chrys... anth... e... mums,” he panted.

“Look at them, Alec. Deep breath, and blow it out. Watch the petals dance in the breeze.”

Hardy took another slow breath, each breath slower than the last. Finally he relaxed, head bowed, exhausted, but calm.

It took a long time for him to manage a whole word. He lifted his suddenly heavy head to meet her eyes. “Someone didn't want me to fight for him,” he cried. “Did someone put Bruce up to it? Tess wouldn't go that far, would she? She looked too shocked. She's not that good of an actor, is she?”

“Alec, you can't dwell now on what happened or on who did what back then. You had reason to think what you did. Whatever Stratton’s reasons, whether it was deliberate in your case or not, he took advantage of it.”

He tensed. “Bruce. He works in a Genetic Lab there. He's a bloody geneticist!” He burst out of his chair and to the door.

“No!” she shouted, moving faster than she ever did and stopping him from walking out of the room.

“Ellie, I have to bring them this result. Social Services said they had reason to take at least Ben out of Tess' custody. The bruises and injuries can't be explained away by MS. Someone is abusing my son and I can’t let it happen again!”

“You have to do this by the book!” she urged him. “One false move and we lose this case and Social Services will take them both away, even from you.”

That got him to cooperate with her.

She thought about pushing him back into the room, and closing the door again, but she was well aware that someone might have overheard his outburst. Might as well let them hear her answer. “You've told them you want custody. I have been worried since this was reported by the hospital, but I asked them, and Social Services, to quietly investigate. Ben's safe in hospital, and the staff have been careful to not leave Ben alone with either Tess or Bruce, but they're not letting on that they're doing it. That was my request. I have suspected Bruce of tampering with the tests, but I needed proof so I could arrest him and be sure there would be a conviction.”

“How long will we have to wait?”

“Just long enough for Maggie and Olly to send me the information they're waiting on. Sandbrook should be sending something, too.”

“Maggie and Olly are in Sandbrook?”

“No, they’re in Fleet Street.”

“Ellie, what's going on? Or can’t you tell me?!”

She met his gaze evenly, pursing her lips in thought. “The case is bigger than we first thought. But we can’t risk anyone outside knowing we know who the murderer is. It needs to be choreographed, or someone might slip away and warn the others. Give me more time.”

“Chloe gave me a note from Daisy,” he announced.

Ellie paled. “Have you read it? Have you touched it?”

/=/=/=/=/

Relinquishing Daisy’s letter, unread, to SOCO was like having all his teeth pulled at once. Hardy drew it from his pocket, and dropped it into an effects tray from the Duty desk. He had never counted the number of times he had ordered incoming suspects to empty their pockets into these trays. Probably hundreds of times, maybe a thousand or more. And to finish off the horrid feeling in the pit of his stomach, SOCO waved him towards the finger print machine.

He numbly allowed Brian to press each finger and thumb to the window and roll them. The shame would have been all the more complete if they had still used the ink of a bygone era. That unwashable black ink that marked a person as having been arrested. Sometimes it lingered in the ridges of the skin for days or weeks.

Still, being in this room at all was as shameful as anything Hardy could think of. He had done it all now, both sides of the desk. DNA, cheek swab, statements, and now finger prints. He was so thankful that they hadn’t asked for a sperm sample. That would probably have finished him off.

He felt like a common criminal. His only bright thought was Ben. His son. But it was soured by the fact that he had to keep quiet about that little fact until Bruce was out of the picture - he hadn’t the first idea how he was going to accomplish that - and his lying, cheating ex, who looked increasingly likely to have been in on the murders, or at least knew the killer. He would go so far as to say it was Bruce, but he wasn’t in the know enough to be certain.

He sighed as Brian thanked him, apologetically he noted, for his co-operation. He turned to find his precious letter being prized open with tweezers. By now it was clear that the letter comprised of several sheets of paper, and was most definitely evidence. Hailey’s statement had made it so.

Chief Super Jenkinson presided over the entire humiliating ordeal with a detached air. But inside she was screaming to burst into tears in Hardy’s place. He was probably the finest officer she had ever had the fortune to meet, and felt privileged to have served with him, let alone have him on her force. The heavens had smiled on her the day he had been transferred in from Weymouth. He should have gone back after the Latimer case had closed, but he had requested to stay. She could have kissed him in relief.

The efficiency and team morale at the station, CID and uniform, had upped tenfold since he had taken up permanent position. And he had been instrumental in helping Ellie get back on her feet, professionally as well as personally, and in gelling the community back together. Frankly, if Hardy stood for Mayor, she’d vote for him. Twice. But right now, he could barely stand on his own two feet.

Clutching the latest updates in her hand, Elaine made a decision.

“Miller, Hardy, go home. Time to get some well earned rest and get to know each other again. You’ve not seen enough of each other or your children in far too long.”

“But, sir-”

“Not buts,” Elaine cut Ellie off. “Get out before I throw you both out.”

Hardy recognised the affectionate edge to her voice. All professional and proud of her team, her care and thoughtfulness had been apparent from the word go.

“Come on, Ellie,” he said gently. “It’s time to pick up the kids.”

An abrupt knock came at the door and Sandra appeared.

“Sir? Just got a message from Top,” she announced. “They’ve reinstated Hardy to the investigation.”

Exhausted as she was, Ellie turned to her husband, to find him grinning breathlessly. She whooped and hugged him. It was the news neither of them thought they’d ever hear. Suddenly, she remembered the Super and Chief Super were in the room, and snapped off him, tugging her jacket down.

“Sorry, sir,” she muttered, clearing her throat.

Elaine almost swallowed down a snort of humour. “I didn’t see a thing,” she announced. She extended her hand to Hardy and shook. “Get some sleep and come in fresh in the morning. Then you can get up to speed on where the case is.”

“Yes, sir,” he replied and followed Ellie out into the corridor. “Kids first, then dinner and then us-time,” he listed.

Ellie gave out a squeak and glanced around them to see if anyone overheard. “Mind what you’re saying. We’re at work... Sir.”

Hardy kept walking, and slowly smiled. Oh, this felt extra good.

/=/=/=/=/

Spending time with the kids as a family was his best time of day. It was extra special today, because their mum was home, as well. Tom had hugged her fiercely, Fred had bawled his eyes out in true toddler style and the twins had give her a round each of lovely hugs and wet slobbery kisses. Life couldn’t get much better than this.

Except it could, Hardy thought pensively. The hours rolled by in beautiful calm, but it was bitter sweet. It wasn’t perfect, because his other children aren’t here. They could have been here to enjoy this hearty bliss, instead they were living in fear for their lives and Ben was fighting for his life in hospital.

Tom, as always, picked up on his dad’s sudden melancholy. “Dad?”

“Yes, son?” Hardy replied. He marvelled at the ease at which he said it. In truth, Tom was no more his son than Daisy was Ellie’s daughter. On the other hand - he glanced at her and knew what she was thinking on that score - Daisy would fit in perfectly into Ellie’s psyche as a mother. She ached to heal so many hurts and he could tell she was already making plans. He just couldn’t see a way for her to make them reality.

“Can’t you bring Daisy home?”

Hardy turned his attention back to Tom, stunned by the question. “I’m going to work on that,” he said with growing conviction. “I will do everything I can to bring Daisy home. I promise.” He couldn’t tell him about Ben just yet, but in his heart that flame had already become a burning desire.

Tom was confident that his dad could fix anything. He turned away, but then turned back. “What about Ben? Can I call him my new brother?”

ĐĐ

To be continued...

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