There was a debate going on in the office of Pete Tyler, Director of Torchwood, between his stepdaughter Rose, head of research, Mickey Smith and Jake Simmonds, heads of security and it seemed Rose was loosing. Pete had decided that having a police presence within the organisation to take charge when they went out to assess situations and to liaise with local law enforcement would be a distinct advantage and it was down to the three people all sat on various chairs in his office. Jake was pointing out he wasn't the right person, Mickey said he was too old to go back to school and everyone was looking at Rose.
''Why me? Isn't there someone else?''
''It needs a senior Torchwood agent Rose, I can't just send anyone. I've made enquiries and cleared it with the chief constable for the south and there's a new term about to start over in Exeter starting on Monday. My secretary will take care of all the details and she'll book you into a hotel for a couple of nights while we sort you out somewhere to live. You'll be there for three months and you'll concentrate on four classes, there are some you can skip and the rest of the time, you can keep in touch and make weekly reports and the rest of the time is yours.''
''Three months? In Exeter? What am I supposed do when I'm not training? Can't I go stay by the coast for a while and just travel?''
''Well you could, if you don't mind travelling two days a week, from what I've been told, you can take two classes in the morning and two in the afternoons or spread them out, just speak to the admissions secretary, the chief constable says they've been told to accommodate you. I believe it's the same tutor in the mornings but a different one in the afternoon.''
''Well if I can take two classes a day, it will save me extra travel time but I want to stay somewhere quiet, where I can concentrate on studying. So is that it?''
''You can make the arrangements with Sandra, tell her where you prefer to stay that's easy to get to and from Exeter. It's the end of the season so there should be plenty of places to rent. I'll let you go and you can look some up then get her to rent it for three months for you. Maybe your mother and Tony can go down for a long weekend when you get settled?''
So by late Thursday night, Rose was all packed and ready to go, she was driving down on Friday morning, spending the weekend at The Traders Hotel in a small coastal town called Broadchurch, only recently been in the news over the death of a teenage boy and she had figured the town's economy needed a bit of a boost in the aftermath and trying to get some sort of normality back to the people who'd been affected.
Alec Hardy was supposed to have been finished in the Broadchurch police, he'd stayed for the funeral and found himself unable to think of anywhere else to go. He knew his chief had been mad with him for not saying there was something very wrong with him and there was only another week before the police wouldn't pay for his hotel room at The Traders Hotel. So he swallowed his pride, called for an appointment first with a consultant at nearby Exeter hospital, after all his records had been transferred and called his ex boss to see if he could sit at a desk a few hours a day to stop him going crazy after ten days of being off work.
So on the Thursday before the new term started at the police training college in Exeter, he'd sat opposite CS Jenkinson in her office and waited for her getting off the phone.
''Right Alec, I've pulled in a few favours for you so don't you dare let me down. It seems one of the tutors at the training college is taking extended leave for three months, the job's yours if you want it, two mornings a week teaching recruits in booking procedures, which you rather failed on recently but I'll let it slide and another subject to be determined. Do you think you can cope for a few hours a day? You'll have two one hour classes, you'll get a break between them and if you get taxis to the college, you'll get reimbursed. They'll keep you on half pay though you'll have to move out of the hotel but they'll pay towards another place up to a limit so if you get something reasonable, it should be covered. How long will you have to wait for an operation?''
''I've not been told yet, I see the consultant Monday afternoon, I'll get a better idea. Thanks for this Elaine, I'll try my best not to let you down, I just need to keep myself occupied until I can go back to work.''
''Yes, well you'll have to stay there for three months before you can be considered to be let back on full duties, there will be no loss of rank though but only on the condition you get yourself fixed up so don't think about putting it off, understood?''
He got up. ''Understood. Guess I'll have to find a place to rent then? I might try the caravan site next door for now, if I can't get anywhere tomorrow.''
''Yes, well good luck Alec and don't blow it, take it easy, there's no pressure and if you can't make a class, have the decency to let them know will you?''
He thought that would be more or less all the time but still, giving new recruits the benefit of his experience was better than climbing the walls of his hotel room and watching the local vicar and the hotel owner make eyes at each other in the bar every night, hoping no-one had spotted them but he had to practice his detective skills somehow. Then there was the frosty way Mark and Beth Latimer were treating each other and he still didn't trust Nige Carter as far as he could throw him, which in his current condition was about two inches.
He made his way back up to the hotel, stopping at the mini-market on the way to get some bottled water since it was expensive in the hotel and picked up a copy of the 'Broadchurch Echo' to look for some suitable accommodation for at least three months. He really didn't relish staying in the hotel and paying most of the costs, even with meals included and he wanted his freedom without Becca Fisher asking him stupid questions every time he collected his key, when he actually remembered to leave it on cleaning and laundry day that was.
Once in his room, he remembered to take his pills, which at least he didn't have to hide now and sat back on the chair Ellie Miller had sat on a few nights ago, when they'd talked until the early hours of the morning, Ellie trying to make some sense as to why her husband had killed a young boy and ruined everyone's lives as well as his own and for what? Alec shook off the thoughts, it was over, Joe Miller was locked up, for now, pending a hearing whenever that may happen to be and people were trying to get on with it.
He'd heard Miller had gone over to Exeter, maybe he'd bump into her at some point while he was at the academy but maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea, she'd been busted back to PC so he'd been told, her choice as she'd said she didn't want the responsibility of hauling in someone else's husband for killing a child and all the lies that came with it.
Olly Stevens had of course tried to get another story out of him, he could just see the headlines now – 'How Alec Hardy solved the Broadchurch murder' – he didn't think it was that newsworthy, he'd done his job and surprised himself by escaping a heart-attack before locking up the culprit. His conversation with the consultant at Exeter hospital had been brief, he'd taken the latest letter from them to mind and called them 'urgently' the other day after his last episode had been passed to a larger hospital than the local one and he'd got through to the consultant's private secretary and the consultant had wanted to know why he'd put himself at risk when it was a matter of walking in and walking out and would take an afternoon to have the procedure done if that.
That had been a far cry from his last consultant who had insisted he only had a 50/50 chance of survival and was having a debate with himself as to if he should stop being a knob as Miller called him and go and get it over and done with. He went back out in search of a light lunch, taking the paper with him but was passing a shop with a notice board and stopped to look at the various ads when one caught his eye. Since he was all for still punishing himself over his last failed case, the ad for a chalet to rent down by the river seemed suitable to carry out the sentence so he made a note of the number in his phone, ordered his lunch and called the number.
To his surprise though, it was still fully booked for another two weeks, people were taking advantage of the fact the town had become famous and wanted to visit and the owner told him it would be free from the first week in October and could give him a good rate for a block booking until March next year. Alec didn't intend being around here past then, the hearing would be over and he could maybe make the effort to contact his daughter. He asked if he could get the police to pay for it when he discovered it was within their budget for him so he agreed he'd take it until the end of March since he wanted to get back to work properly before moving on.
Satisfied with the arrangements though it was still two weeks before he could get the key, he took a walk down to the harbour, passing the caravan park and strolled into the reception. He knew he'd never survive another two weeks or so in the hotel so he asked about a one or two bedroom caravan and was told to take his pick, bookings were still down on the previous year so after picking out a suitable model on the first access road, meaning a five minute walk at the most from the site's supermarket and facilities and the same back out onto the harbour area, he paid the deposit saying to send the bill to Broadchurch Police Station and took it for two weeks, at least he'd have some privacy and his freedom as pacing a caravan seemed marginally better to pacing his hotel room.
Rose had talked with Pete's secretary, Sandra, looking at suitable accommodation in various coastal towns, deciding Broadchurch seemed the best place to spend the three months and found a flat to rent just off the harbour road, just one bedroom but Rose thought if her mother and younger brother were to come to visit, there were two pubs nearby that had rooms and they could stay there. The flat wasn't vacant though until the end of the month and alternate ones were just the same so Sandra suggested she just stayed at the hotel but Rose pointed out she would go stir-crazy in one room when not at the college and they discovered there was a caravan park right on the harbour.
Picking out a nice model caravan, Sandra booked it for two weeks, Rose delighted there was a recently refurbished swimming pool on site and intended to make full use of it when she wasn't studying, the courses may have been kept to a minimum but came at a price that she studied at home instead, a concession that had been negotiated for her, being who she was. She just hoped she wouldn't be expected to wear a uniform. So Rose had opted to spend one night in the hotel then move everything down to the caravan on Saturday afternoon, thinking the traffic would be easier on Friday than on a Saturday and was completely wrong, not getting to Broadchurch until just before six on Friday evening.
She'd said goodbye to her mother and Tony before he'd gone off to school and her mother had fussed over her as usual.
''Mum, it's not like I'm going to another planet this time, I'll be fine. Maybe you and Tony can come down during the next school holidays, yeah?''
''Yeah, ok but be careful down there, they only just caught that killer.''
''He's locked up now mum, don't worry, it was a rare occurrence in the town, you heard what was said on the news.''
''Well just be sure you didn't pick that town to move to because of who that detective looked like, that's all I'm saying.''
''I'd hardly thought about it Mum, I'm over all that now. If the Doctor comes back for me, he wouldn't hide himself away and pretend to be a detective. Besides, he's probably left town by now, I'm hardly likely to meet him, am I?''
Jackie thought it would just be her daughter's luck the detective was still in the town and be her new tutor, since no-one knew that Alec was taking over at the start of the new term.
Rose was just in time for dinner, Alec Hardy had been in early, intending to go get some more exercise after sitting in the station's personnel office for an hour sorting out his living arrangements with an harassed secretary, even more so by the time she'd finished dealing with him. Rose decided she needed a drink and found herself faced with three locals trying to chat her up, one being Nige Carter who she found the least appealing of all and made her excuses she still had to unpack and was glad she was only there for one night, though she was keeping the room until she could collect the caravan keys.
Alec was used to getting up early, he always woke in a cold sweat anyway from his usual nightmare of drowning in the woods where Pippa's body had been discovered by him in the flooded river so he'd gone out by the time Rose came down to breakfast. He'd packed all his things and planned a visit to the large supermarket on the way out of town once he'd got his caravan keys. He'd spent the Friday by getting let into the station to look up what he was supposed to be teaching the recruits, having being given access to the college website and logged in, he knew he'd have to get there early each time to use the college's computers in the faculty room before each lesson and hoped someone would have everything prepared for him.
Rose had gone out to explore the High Street shops on Saturday morning, Alec had ventured down to the harbour for a walk then he was going to get a taxi to the supermarket, go collect his keys and go back and collect his things from his hotel room, well that was his plan. Just after three, Rose drove down to the caravan park, got a map of the site and drove around the first service road and found her caravan, parking just at the side, dumped her belongings and decided to take Becca Fisher's advice and drive up to the supermarket by the roundabout, following the signs for the 'Superstore'.
Alec had completed his tasks and took a walk across the road from the site to get himself a takeaway since he was tired and couldn't be bothered making something for himself and settled down to watch the news on the TV, fell asleep and woke up after midnight, dragging himself off to bed, caravan mattresses being low down and not the most comfortable and ended up dragging a single mattress from the spare room and putting it on top, not ideal he supposed but would do something about it in the morning.
Rose was having the same problem, got up and went into the twin-bedded room and found the mattresses there more to her liking and flopped down, pulling the duvet over herself and went back to sleep, leaving the room door open as it was a bit claustrophobic. Neither of them knew there were next door to each other, Alec had come back and noticed a car parked at the side of the caravan next to him, it was sticking out past the end of the caravan, he was criticising the driver's reversing and parking skills to himself, thinking it must have been a woman.
Rose had never noticed a taxi pulling up in front of the next caravan and Alec getting out with his luggage from the hotel, it had been too far to attempt to walk down he'd decided and thought about maybe hiring a car but knew he wouldn't get one, his condition wouldn't permit now and it would invalidate his driving licence plus he'd never get passed for the insurance. He missed Miller driving him around everywhere, she had at least been useful for something he supposed.
Neither of them did much on the Sunday, Rose ventured over to the swimming pool and managed a few lengths before families started coming in and spreading out, taking up the lanes so she got out and took a leisurely shower, since the one in the caravan was a bit of a squeeze, then getting her hair dried once she got back to her caravan, got into the car and went off for a drive back to the supermarket since she forgot some things the previous day.
Alec had seen a blonde haired woman get into the less than skilfully parked blue car and knew he'd been right about the driver. He didn't get a good look at her, he'd been staring out of the front window, opening the top to let some fresh air in and hadn't meant to be nosy. Rose had never noticed anyone behind the net curtain of the caravan next door, she had been glad she'd reversed into the spot last night when she'd got back then remembered it was a one-way road and then had trouble turning right. Alec was watching with amusement at the woman's two attempts to avoid the wooden fence opposite that surrounded the refuse area, just his luck to get a caravan for two weeks opposite the rubbish bins, still, it would make it easy to empty his on his way out every morning.
He thought maybe when she came back she'd drive straight in and he might catch a glimpse of her, still, she probably unlike him was not alone and maybe had a husband and two kids though he'd not heard anything. He could be nosy and look through his bedroom window to see if anyone was moving around or talking he supposed so his curiosity got the better of him as he pretended to be messing around in the bedroom and decided to drag the other mattress from the other single bed and got the sheet off, moved the mattress already there from last night over and slide the new one next to it. Satisfied he'd got it to his liking, he went to make some tea and sat purposely so he'd see the next door neighbour coming back, wishing the doors were facing each other instead of the caravans being back to back. This was going to be a very interesting two weeks.