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From behind that locked door

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And if ever my love goes
If I'm rich or I'm poor
Please let out my heart, please, please
From behind that locked door
From behind that locked door

George Harrison

 

He really doesn’t hate it there. Broadchurch is quite nice, from a purely aesthetic point of view. I mean, come on: the Jurassic Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world with its imposing cliffs and rocky beaches. They call it Jurassic Coast because they found a fuckload of fossils there, and Alec wonders if he’ll ever find the remnants of his old life buried somewhere. A life where he was a husband and a, maybe, better father. Where his heart worked. A life where Sandbrook was nothing but a small point on the map, not important, unknown to the masses and the journalists that pinned him down with something he had actually never done.
Jurassic Coast, hm? Well, look. Those might even be the bones of his old self, left to whiten in the bay. Alec grimaced at the mirror. His old self wasn’t so thin, his new self...well.
He looked around the bathroom of his small, blue house, thinking whether to shave or not, and decided to leave his beard alone. He didn’t care, not really. He could make an effort for some give, great occasions, but there was nothing like that on the horizon.
He walked to the kitchen, resting one hip against the counter and waiting for the tea to brew with his left arm hugging his chest, hand under his armpit chasing some warmth, then poured it in a gray mug and stood there, mug in hand, looking at the wall.
Tea made no sense at 8 PM, thinking about it. He just didn’t feel like cooking. Or eating, in general. The scalding hot beverage had seemed to be a good compromise. Maybe with some crackers. Maybe.
He took a sip, relishing the warm liquid traveling down his throat, and kept on standing there.
He wasn’t thinking, not really. He was just...there. One hand under the armpit, the other holding the mug.
Not even looking at the wall, really. Suspended.
Shit, he felt so tired. He would have slept for a week, if only his nightmares would have left him alone. No such luck, usually. They were always there, lurking, ready to take hold of his mind and his imagination, forcing him to relive his own worst memories. Pippa’s body. Denny’s body. The awful sensation of having betrayed the girls family when Tess lost the pendant. And Tess. Good Lord, Tess. He loved her still, maybe. Just as much as he hated her, if hate is what you could call it. She was his daughter’s mother, had been his companion, best friend and worst betrayer but, honestly, he’d never been the best husband, either.
The tea was getting cold. His hip, still pressed against the counter, was going numb.
He was going numb. Had felt numb for a while.
He didn’t move, didn’t even blink when he heard someone open the door and step inside. Considering how many people out there could want him dead maybe he should have reacted somehow, but he really didn’t feel like moving from his spot.
Let them find him there, with his tea getting cold and his numb hip.
“Hardy?”
He heard, and it was Miller. Of course it was her. He didn’t know if he felt relieved or pissed. He didn’t answer.
His tea was getting cold. His hip felt numb.
“Hardy?” Miller called again, head full of dark brown curls poking in the kitchen. The yellow light of the room made her hair look nearly red.
“Hardy!” She repeated, catching him in the corner, eyes on the wall and mug in hand “What the hell, are you deaf?”
Alec merely looked at her and sighed, putting the barely sipped tea down on the counter.
“What are you doing here, Miller?” He asked, crossing both arms around his chest. He looked so thin, Ellie mused: the electric light gave a yellowish hue to his skin, and she felt the urge to drag him out in the open, in the evening light. He looked sick, she thought. She didn’t like it.
“I brought dinner” She explained, paper bag held up with a finger hooked in the handle. The bag was quite big, he thought. Even too big for someone used to eat so little. He eyed it scratching his head and Ellie huffed, rolling her eyes.
“Come on, Hardy. I know you ate next to nothing today. You’ll work yourself in the ground” She muttered, puttering around the kitchen.
His tea was cold. His hip numb. His hands were starting to feel cold, too.
He wasn’t hungry, he was just tired.
Ellie turned around, pan in one hand and one egg in the other, and looked at him. When she got no answer she rolled her eyes again and proceeded to break it, starting to work on a zucchini omelet.
He stood then. His arms around his torso. His hip was numb. His hands were cold.
He jumped when Ellie tapped his left arm with the clean side of a wooden spoon.
“You alright?” She asked, and he just stood there. Numb. Cold. His tea was undrinkable now.
She looked at him, spoon in hand, omelet still cooking.
“Hardy?” She called, slightly turning her head to the left.
“Fine” He muttered finally. Ellie just looked at him. She said nothing, biting her lips, then shook her head.
“You know” She said, looking at the pan “You should learn to lie better. I mean it’s not that hard. Even Fred can do it”.
Alec merely arched one eyebrow, looking at her from behind his glasses. She looked nervous. Angry.
“Oh, I forgot” She added with a fake smile made entirely of teeth “You actually lied to everyone about Sandbrook, and I had to learn it from the paper!”
She turned around, facing him, pissed and maybe rightfully so.
“You never lost the pendant. You never cheated on your wife” She went on, punctuating every word with a jab of the wooden spoon “You never ruined the case. And you took the blame! And you kept it from everyone. You got sick. Fuck, Hardy. Sometimes I hate you so much”.
Alec stood there. Still cold. Still numb. Silent.
“Miller” He sighed, one hand covering his eyes, pushing the glasses against his skin “I couldn’t”.
“Yes. Yes, you could” She deadpanned, turning the omelet “But you didn’t trust me”.
“Oh, come on now! I didn’t even know you!”
“And now, hm? Did I need to read it all on the Echo?”
Alec opened his mouth, throat working. He closed it. Swallowed. Ellie wasn’t looking at him anymore, and that’s what hurt him the most, probably.
“I don’t know how” He said in the end, looking to the side.
“What” Ellie blurted, still looking down.
“How to say it all” He admitted, and the arms around his torso felt more like a self inflicted cage than anything else. She froze.
“How to say what?” She asked.
“That it wasn’t my fault”
The omelet landed in a plate, Ellie cut it in two.
“Couldn’t hear you” She said, guiding Alec towards the table dragging him by his left elbow. He followed her lead, sitting on one of the chairs. He landed heavily, head propped up with his long, thin fingers.
“You did” He muttered, eyes on the wooden table.
“Nope” She smiled, munching on the omelet and popping out the P. Alec let his head fall, massaging his temples. “Eat” She added.
He grumbled something under his breath but obeyed, crossing his arms again and looking like nothing but a pouting child. It made her laugh.
“Hardy” Ellie snapped her fingers “Say it again. Come on”.
“What?”
“You perfectly know what”
“Miller...”
“Hardy. Come on”
Alec sighed, exasperated.
“It wasn’t my fault”
“There” She smiled again, satisfied “Was it so hard?”
“Whatever, Miller”
She smiled.
“Eat, Hardy”.