Warnings: Spoilers for season 1 and 2. Angst. Murder and stalking in later chapters but will likely be relatively non-graphic but may be disturbing.
Pairing: Hardy x Miller eventually, so if that's not your thing, leave now. :)
Disclaimers: In case you're wondering: I don't own Broadchurch, although I'm rather desperately jonesing for an Alec Hardy of my very own (grumpy bastard that he is). The show belongs to ITV and Alec Hardy belongs to David Tennant, although I'm willing to work out a timeshare arrangement.
Unbeta'd, all mistakes are my own.
Prologue - Hardy
It's funny how we feel so much
But cannot say a word
Though we are screaming inside oh we can't be heard
- I Will Remember You, Sarah McLachlan
"Where to, then, sir?"
Hardy pauses, looking at the little blue shack that has been his sanctuary for the last few months. He looks out over the town, at the ocean. The thought flits through his mind that he should go to the beach where they found Danny, to apologize to him, to say good-bye to those looming orange cliffs that dominate everything.
No, he thinks. He's already apologized to Danny. He's sat beneath those orange cliffs staring at the ocean for long enough. It's time to leave the past behind.
He gets in the car.
"Train station," he tells the cabbie.
He doesn't look back.
He goes to Sandbrook. He has some vague idea that he can once more become a daily part of his daughter's life. But just as she changed from a little girl into a young woman in his absence, she's also grown independent, with a busy and robust social life and interests that leave little room for him.
Tess, well, there's no future there, and if Hardy's honest with himself, he accepted that long ago. What he told her before the surgery was true: he did miss her, miss the family they once had, or he thought they had, but she's right. It's over. The betrayal still stings, but he knows he bears the burden of the collapse of his marriage just as much as she does. She fell out of love with him, and he didn't know how to stop it.
He keeps hearing Miller tell him he's wrong, that they aren't all alone. A week after he left Broadchurch, on the night he admits to himself there's no place for him in Sandbrook, he thinks he should text her, send a message that says something like, "you at least are not alone and I'm glad about that."
There's been no word from her either.
He takes Daisy to lunch, tells her he needs to find a job, and it won't be in Sandbrook. She is not surprised.
"Well, nobody's going to hire you looking like that," she says, and takes him shopping and then to the barber's where his hair gets cut and his beard shaved off.
He feels naked and exposed, but Daisy beams, and says, "There's my dad!"
He smiles at that and hugs her. He keeps his arm around her as they walk out of the barber shop, holding her close to his side.
The press have a field day with the Sandbrook case and Hardy lets Tess and the Sandbrook constabulary deal with the endless questions and news reports. Solving the case had never been about saving his reputation or career; it had been about getting answers for the families and justice for Lisa and poor wee Pippa.
He suspects the frenzy and the stories that spread through the policing community help him get a job, though, because four weeks after he left Broadchurch he takes up his new position as DI in a city almost exactly half-way between Sandbrook and Broadchurch. He finds it oddly fitting that he's teetered so perfectly between the two places that have had so much impact on his life.
Slipping back into the routine of police work is like putting on a well-worn pair of shoes. Stonebridge is bigger than both Broadchurch and Sandbrook combined and he easily disappears into the crowd of cops dealing with all of the problems of a large city. The work is something he understands, something he does well, and it's a relief to return to it even if the volume and type of crimes is a bit of a shock after the worlds he's occupied for the last twenty years.
He thinks about sending Miller a message, telling her where he ended up, but thinks better of it. They said their good-byes in that little blue shack and that's where she obviously wanted it to end.
She doesn't send him any messages either.
He's in the job for four months when, through the windows of his office, he catches a glimpse of an unruly mop of dark curly hair and a familiar slope to shoulders in a dark jacket. His breath catches in his throat and he's at his office door before he realizes he's moving.
The woman turns and he deflates. She's younger, with a rounder face and slightly slimmer build. Her clothes and makeup are a bit more chic, but she has a similar wide, open smile. She notices him standing there and turns fully to look at him. He sees her eyes are blue, not brown as her smile turns both puzzled and nervous when she meets his wide eyed stare.
His reputation is already legendary.
He gives her an awkward nod then bows his head as he returns to his desk, moving almost as slowly as he had before his surgery. He falls into the chair and pulls out his phone. He stares at her name, his thumb hovering over it.
For God's sake, he thinks with sudden fury, they worked closely together on two intense, life altering cases, shared secrets and pain that no one else will ever truly know or understand. He should at least send her a bloody text to let her know where he is and that he's all right.
He glances up as the curly haired young woman walks past his office door. There's an innocence to her that he remembers watching disappear from a different face, in a different police station. She looks at him then skitters away as their eyes meet. He watches her leave the squad room before easing his thumb away from Miller's name. He carefully sets the phone on his desk.
He scrubs hands over clean-shaven cheeks that still feel alien, runs fingers through hair that still feels too short, blinks the emotion out of his eyes, and goes back to work.